our new strategy has a risqué name, my employees didn’t give me anything after their holiday bonuses, and more

With updates month behind us, now it’s back to regular programming!

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

1. Our new strategy name is a sex act

My sister has a conundrum I would love your take on. The director of her division has recently revealed its priorities for 2022, and one is to enact a new pricing strategy.

The division director has named this strategy “soft pegging.” My sister has now seen multiple PowerPoints with this term. Lots of (mostly) younger workers at the company who know what it means are making fun of it. They keep saying at meetings that it is their favorite strategy yet and they want to get t-shirts for it.

Some of her other colleagues want to speak up, but are worried to say anything because this director is known to take feedback poorly. Also, my sister doesn’t believe the director’s colleagues, who are mostly older, even know what it means.

She just found out that the term might be presented at the company’s other offices nationwide. Should she say anything? On the one hand, it could make her division look bad, but clearly there are communication issues at the company given that the hundreds of people in her division and office are too scared to mention it.

In normal circumstances, yes, someone should speak up! In fact, someone should have spoken up as soon as it was clear that the term was being used. It wouldn’t need to be a big deal — just “that term has a highly X-rated meaning — we should find another name.”

Even with a director who takes feedback badly, I’d still advise speaking up! “This term has another meaning that we should be aware of” isn’t particularly challenging feedback, and even people who take feedback badly would generally appreciate knowing. But if the director has cultivated an environment of so much fear that no one is willing to do it … well, that’s what happens when you manage by fear: you lose access to important information when people suspect they’ll suffer for sharing it. If that’s the case, though, then your sister’s coworkers should stop making fun of the name, proposing t-shirts, etc. — because if at some point the director figures out that they all knew, that’s likely to be a problem too.

2. My employees didn’t give me anything after I gave them holiday bonuses

I own a small medical clinic with one employee who performs front office duties as well as drawing blood, etc. I also own a lab with my son and we have one lab tech. I took them out to dinner and gave each of them a $1,000 Christmas bonus. They didn’t even give a a Christmas card! This was very hurtful. Am I being ridiculous? Why does this bother me so much? I feel like they do not respect me. I am very good to both of them.

You’re applying the wrong rules to the situation. This wasn’t a social occasion where an exchange of gifts or cards would be expected. In fact, this wasn’t a gift! It was a work bonus, and people don’t give gifts or cards in exchange for work bonuses.

I think that because you gave out the bonuses at a dinner, you’re looking at it through a social framework. But a bonus is part your employees’ compensation for their jobs. It’s discretionary compensation that you didn’t need to give, but it’s compensation nonetheless. So it makes perfect sense that you didn’t get anything in return (other than, hopefully, their jobs being done well).

3. Reporting a company’s unsafe gun practices

I’ve been talking to my partner about a situation at their job and would be really interested in your input.

Basically, they sold a gun illegally. My partner works at an antique store and with their license they are allowed to sell guns that are older that a certain time period, but recently they sold a gun that was 50 years past the cut-off date.

My partner has been wanting to quit and is searching for a new job as the workplace is fairly toxic, and they have also been considering reporting the illegal sale when they leave. I feel like their motivations for reporting would be more aligned with getting revenge on their crappy boss, but I also wonder if it’s just the right thing to do as this place has no regard for gun safety and appropriate handling of antique weapons. They frequently don’t even check the barrel to see if they’re empty before letting customers examine them.

On the flip side, no one wants people to lose their jobs if this shuts the business down. Should they just forget it and move on or should they report?

They should report it. Even if their motivation is more about getting revenge, reporting a safety issue is the right thing to do. Sometimes motivations are less important than the outcome that’s needed and if less-than-pure motives help stop dangerous practices, that’s still a good thing.

It’s also unlikely that the business will shut down over a single person’s reports (look at any whistleblower case of the last several decades, unfortunately).

4. My coworker is bragging about the expensive gifts he got from colleagues

My coworker has been bragging to others that he has received over $350 worth of gifts from other employees this holiday season. At first I thought he was inflating that number to try and make himself look special/important/favored. Then he left an electronic gift card prominently displayed on his desk for $145 to an eyewear website from an employee. It even has a personalized message stating he is their favorite coworker and helped them through a tough year so he’s welcome to buy a new pair of sunglasses or replace his broken reading glasses on them.

The whole situation seems inappropriate to me. Our department handles mail and packages. Therefore, we have access to sensitive information along with shipping privileges. Company policy also states that we cannot accept gifts from vendors over a certain dollar amount. Typically, they’re just food or drink items. However, it’s unclear to me if the rule applies to gifts exchanged within the company as well. Does this represent a conflict of interest and should I report it?

If your sense is that coworkers think expensive gifts will buy them special favor with him — like getting priority treatment for their packages that others don’t get — then yeah, that’s a problem! Whether or not he really gives them special treatment, you don’t want a situation where people feel they have to shell out cash to ensure their mail doesn’t get shoved to the back of the line, or where the general ethics of your team are in question.

In a lot of companies this would be a clear violation that needed to be flagged, but since you’re asking I’m assuming it’s less clear in yours. At a minimum, it’s worth sharing your concerns and asking your manager to clarify whether the vendor policy also applies to gifts from people in other departments who use your team’s services.

5. Is it OK to yank an award from an employee who’s leaving?

A colleague started at our large company early last year and was set to be recognized with a departmental award at end of year; she had been notified to expect this award and had been viewed as a rising star.

Several days before the award meeting, she tendered her resignation and gave the usual amount of notice, keeping it very professional as she always did. The department managers decided to give her award and prize to someone else. My colleague wasn’t mentioned at all during the meeting. Is that typical protocol? Or is this sour grapes?

Sour grapes. Awards are a way to recognize outstanding work and to incentivize the sort of behavior you want to see more of among your staff more broadly, and it’s petty to yank that recognition from someone just because they’re leaving. That’s especially true because your coworker had already been told to expect the award. And aside from being a crappy way to treat someone who has apparently done a great job for the company, it also sends a troubling signal to other employees about how the company views departing employees — because other employees are the audience for this kind of smallness.

{ 588 comments… read them below }

  1. Hypnotist Collector*

    I’m 64 years old and I know what pegging means. Please don’t assume your older colleagues have zero cultural awareness. I’m guessing no one is super comfortable speaking up — just like you.

      1. Pikachu*

        I did not know this was a finance term. I only knew of it’s X-rated definition.

        You really do learn new things every day here.

        1. Asenath*

          I didn’t know what it meant, and when I googled it along with “definition”, I got more financial than sexual definitions.

          1. AnonInCanada*

            For shiggles I highlighted, right-clicked and selected “Search Google for” the word in question. The first page of results and all but one of the second page was referring to its sexual meaning. Only the 16th result was from Investopedia (and I’ll take a stab [no pun intended!] at their definition not being the other 20!)

            1. t*

              Google results can vary depending on what other things a person has searched for, and also probably based on their activities online if logged into a Google account.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                I think even location, too; I get different results using Incognito mode when I’m at work (500 mi away) than I do at home.

                1. AnonInCanada*

                  And I’ll guarantee you won’t want to search for “soft-pegging” if that were the case.

                  Okay, mind’s out of the gutter.

            2. Asenath*

              Yeah, I got more sexual usages when I just used the term, and more financial ones when I asked specifically for a definition. It depends on what you put into Google. But it does seem that, for financial types (of whom I am not one, so I didn’t know the term at all), it’s a perfectly normal term that just happens to have another meaning related to sex, like so many other words and phrases.

            3. KoiFeeder*

              “soft-pegging definition” gave me about an even mix of financial and sexual definitions, “soft-pegging” on its own was wholly sexual. I think the sexual results assume you already know what it means if you’re looking for it.

        2. Alice's Rabbit*

          I didn’t know it had a risqué meaning until now. So you learn something new everyday.
          While I’m normally not in favor of anonymous notes, this is one case where I am all for it. A post-it left on the boss’s desk, informing him that “soft pegging” is a double entendre for a sexual act, might be a kindness. If he still insists on using that wording after being informed, that’s his choice. But it would be good to make sure he’s aware.

      2. Emma*

        Yeah. This is a very normal finance term and anyone who objects to it is going to look immature. Probably forgivably so if their job doesn’t require an understanding of finance – less forgivably so if it does.

        1. Birch*

          If a term has a legitimate professional meaning in Field X and also a NSFW meaning, and someone is trying to apply it to Field Y, even if *they* know the professional meaning, it’s not immature to suggest that most people in Field Y will associate it with the NSFW meaning and therefore it should not be used. Words make sense within contexts.
          (It’s also not immature to only know one definition of a word and for that to be a sex act. The way the colleagues are behaving is certainly immature, but e.g. doing a double take if you aren’t familiar with the other definition and being concerned about your company’s optics is not immature.)

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            This is sort of a linguistic version of Gresham’s Law. A lurid sense of a word will tend to take over.

          2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            Certainly as a 47 year old with a long (non-financial) work history, I’ve only ever heard the NSFW definition. If I were in this division I’d be giving side eyes with all the kids. You can’t expect people outside of a field to know its technical terms. You can almost certainly expect them to know an inappropriate and giggle inducing definition, if only thanks to Murphy’s Law

            1. NotRealAnonForThis*

              I mean, my department may have made a trivia game out of the actual definitions of the NSFW sounding words in our daily world at an all hands meeting to educate. Please note that each department had to create a game for the meeting, and that this was completely on-brand for my department. Turned out to be extremely amusing and also very educational.

          3. Emily*

            I don’t know. I laughed for days and days about the “iPad,” and my friends and I all joked they must not have had any women on the team. But here we are.

        2. Gen*

          It’s a common finance term but I know (and have to listen to) a lot of high level accountants who use the terms hard/soft pegging daily and still have to mute themselves to laugh when the conversations get deeper into double entendre territory. Honestly I suspect some of them are making a game of how far they can take it. They’re not going to object to using the terms within the finance department, but those presenting about it outside of finance have rightly adapted their spiels to include a finance focused explanation of the term and/or avoid saying the term at all because it can derail meetings. I’ve heard too many conference calls devolve into incredibly uncomfortable conversations along the lines of “it means WHAT? How do YOU know what that is?!”

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I mean, Pen Island and Therapist Finder were also very normal business names, that now live in infamy and I frankly don’t know how the double meaning of their website urls affected their businesses in the long term. I’m guessing not well! Also, dropping a term in an inside finance meeting is one thing, but OP’s employer is making T-shirts with it. That’s… going to backfire.

          1. Jess*

            I have a fun hobby where I look for ironic t shirts at the thrift store. Often business ones are the best for obscure cultural references years later. I do SO hope to find this t-shirt in my local charity shop discount bin one day.

        4. Junior Assistant Peon*

          Agreed – my advice is to keep your mouth shut because you’re going to look immature and unprofessional if you bring this up to a manager who has no idea about the NSFW meaning.

          1. Anonapots*

            The majority of commenters here know and understand the non-finance definition over the finance definition and we’re all pretty mature adults for the most part.

            1. Mmp*

              Depends on context. If it is being used in a clear financial sense, they might look immature and unprofessional for taking the term out of context. An anonymous note is a good solution but so is enlightening the group that it does have a business meaning and to knock of the t-shirt talk.

        5. Lady Danbury*

          I have a finance degree (from a top 20 school, if that matters at all) and the NSFW work definition was the only one that came to mind when I read the original question. Granted I haven’t worked in finance in over 15 years, but I’ve still been in the corporate world. Context is very key here. Is the strategy being presented solely to finance teams at other offices, who should know the meaning of the term, or to a broader audience within the company? Unless it’s the former, I would strongly advise changing it.

          Outside of the sexual connotation, being able to translate jargon (whether it’s legal, financial, etc) into “regular” terminology is a key skill for any professional.

        6. Arts Akimbo*

          I am 55 years old and I have never even heard of pegging in any other context other than sexual. I guess I’m immature? Not everyone works in finance.

          1. Clisby*

            Nah, you don’t have to work in finance to be familiar with “pegging” as a financial term. Just read the Wall Street Journal. Or Forbes. Or any number of publications that focus on finance.

        1. Cj*

          I actually had to look up to see what the non dirty meaning is, and I’m 60 years old. It took several Pages within the Google search to find anything that wasn’t the dirty definition

          Apparently one of the meanings is fixing a price at a certain level or within a certain range. I’m assuming this is the meaning the company intends.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            Google was weird on this
            Soft Pegging = all porn & sex
            What is soft pegging = Finance and SAP terms
            Wikipedia = All meanings in one place

            1. Chili pepper Attitude*

              Strap on, er I mean, strap in, this is going to be a ride. I’ve got this situation pegged.

              I’m picturing staff saying things like that.

              I got only sexual terms no matter how I googled unless I added the word financial to the search. I never google financial things like that and often google urban dictionary terms so googles algorithm guessed I wanted porn.

              But serious question. All the financial results I got said soft peg, not soft pegging. So if the company is using it in bc a way that is not, strictly speaking, in a way that it is used financially, that might be part of the problem?

              1. Artemesia*

                I knew the finance meaning and of course the porn one but not ‘soft’ pegging. When I googled that, I got only finance terms on the first page. I don’t think I have any filters on my search.

                1. Chilipepper Attitude*

                  I just tried it at work and when I googled soft pegging, I got pages of links to porn. Not even definitions or how to do it or why men or women like it, just porn.

                  The google algorithm decides what it decides.

            2. DataGirl*

              I got the same results and still don’t know what it means in the NSFW context, because I’m not going to click on any p0rn links and ‘what is soft pegging’ only returned finance definitions. On Wikipedia I could only get a result for pegging report, which also doesn’t help.

            3. Judge Judy and Executioner*

              I worked with SAP FICO (Finance and Controling) for 10 years as a superuser and never heard the term there, however, it looks to be more to do with MRP (material resource planning) which was not my area of expertise. It’s also possible that it was said a decade ago and went over my head because I didn’t know the other meaning of it, haha.

      3. Paperdill*

        Might I hazard a guess that it was a finance term long before it was an x-rated term and has been “appropriated” for x-rated purposes? In which case, yeah, all those people sniggering are it could potentially look about as mature as people who snigger at a happy person being described as “gay”.

        1. Jess*

          Unless they’re in finance, and it’s unlikely because soft pegging is a pretty specific currency thing and not something that would carry too broadly, this is totally snigger-worthy, and whoever proposed it without Googling it and then whoever didn’t speak up before the world started sniggering who will come off badly

        2. Scarlet2*

          Actually, the issue is not really whether an employee would snigger, but whether someone outside the division (possibly a higher-up) might take issue with a word that has those types of connotations.

          1. Gen*

            Heard out of context in a shared office space, I’ve witnessed that exact reaction—a higher up getting upset and thinking the person speaking was in a NSFW adult personal call rather than a business call

            1. pancakes*

              I’d hope most higher-ups aren’t as incapable of grasping context as that! And most people who work in an office where this word is likely to be used in a finance context, period. Latching onto a single word in an overheard conversation without any regard for context and tone is pretty silly.

              1. Artemesia*

                There are instances of politicians going nuts about teachers teaching other teachers ‘pedagogy’ and demanding they be fired. The world is full of clueless ‘higher ups.’

                1. pancakes*

                  Yes, there are always going to be a few, but clueless reactionaries are not a mainstay of day to day life everywhere! In places where they are, elevating people like that to power seems more of a problem in itself than others occasionally testing the limits of their limited vocabularies.

        3. Roscoe*

          Eh, I disagree.

          There are plenty of terms with double meanings. But unless both people are in finance, I feel like its still a dirty word. I’d hazard a guess that more people know the x rated term over the finance term. Hell, I have an MBA and took a few finance classes and didn’t know that term.

          1. pancakes*

            Finance is a big umbrella. People who work in, say, commodities trading are often going to use different lingo than quants, etc.

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              Yeah, I’m an accountant and didn’t know the specific phrase, but I’d certainly heard things like “the Elbonian currency is pegged to the US dollar” before, probably even before I did the accounting degree.

        4. JustSomeone*

          And a “f*ggot” is just a bundle of sticks. But if you call your business strategy thst, it’s going to raise eyebrows.

        5. Az*

          The NSFW term was coined from a woman’s name (Peg), so it arose independently of the financial definition.

        6. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          Dan Savage coined the NSFW meaning, but I don’t think he took it from the financial term.

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        That what I was thinking. I’ve read in decidedly non-X-Rated articles about currency pegging when one country ties their currency’s valuation to another currency

    1. Wendy*

      It’s not necessarily a cultural awareness thing, but older colleagues may very well not be hanging around the parts of the internet where pegging comes up in conversation as often as younger colleagues do.

      Signed, someone who had to explain to my mother what a dominatrix was (that was a VERY awkward conversation)

      1. Bri*

        Perhaps the internet has increased awareness, but I’d say it’s more down to people’s lifestyle and outlook (which comes down to cultural awareness). My grandmother was perfectly aware of what a dominatrix was, but then, she was a bohemian in the 1940s and 1950s, and enjoyed Christopher Isherwood.

      2. quill*

        Half the time it goes the other way around me.

        I once made a joke about motorcycle safety that apparently echoed a very old Catholic joke about safe sex and my parents had to pull the car over to laugh.

        I think it’s mostly just different cultural references.

      3. Hypnotist Collector*

        I mean, the term is used/discussed on trendy, very public sites like Vulture and The Cut (New York magazine). It’s not hidden or rare or only in “dirty” places. I’m not using porn sites, I’m just on the same internet sites millions of people use (yes, we old people know how to use the internet! We use it often! We work in tech spaces, and function well! We also read stuff that isn’t just for old people! It’s truly amazing.) and it’s there. However, I have worked in places where the term might trigger flags for internet usage. Just rebrand the project, it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        I have that brand of mother, too. Doesn’t know but won’t let it go until you explain it to her. After my younger sibling’s dirty joke phase in their early teens, I’ve explained so many things now that it’s not even awkward anymore – just a matter-of-fact, “That means X, Mom.” followed by her clucking about how she wish she hadn’t asked (yet still asking).

    2. Edwina*

      Right? I’m 69 and I know exactly what it means. We “older folks” came of age in the Free Love era, the wild ’60s, and we’re no babes in the woods. I agree with you–I imagine plenty of the “older colleagues” know just what it means and are snickering behind the director’s back. I think someone really needs to speak up. This is going to be hugely embarrassing to the whole division.

      1. MBK*

        > I’m 69 and I know exactly what it means.

        Nice.

        (I know it’s ridiculously immature of me, but this part made me snicker, given the context.)

        Signed,
        Someone who was born in ’69

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It’d be interesting if the divide at work was not between the hep and unhep, but between those better at tamping down a smirk and those who still can’t list the planets without going into a frenzy of giggle-snorting.

      3. Emily*

        So my mom was shocked that they had “69” in an astrology card. Err…. that’s just the star sign – cancer. Context matters.
        I’ve never heard of the sexual use of soft pegging. It does all sound extremely silly, but I guess if it’s a marketing term it might be better to find a different expression. Still nothing to get so worked up about.

        1. Jaybee*

          I think perhaps if you’re not familiar with the term, you’re underestimating just how common of a term it is.

          I wouldn’t even necessarily call it a ‘dirty word’, but this is like calling an initiative ‘The Missionary Position’ or ‘Doggy Style’. It’s not exactly an obscure reference.

      4. Mmp*

        I love this comment. People always underestimate “Boomers” forgetting the time period they grew up in was significant, not only in terms of sex, drugs and rock and roll but civil rights, women’s rights, technology and the environment. I am Gen X and know full well the world I grew up in would have been quite different had there not been a catalyst for change when I was in diapers. Should we build on that? Absolutely. But let’s give credit where credit is due. (I realize my comment might be off topic but yours struck a nerve!)

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Correct, I’m in my 60s and my immediate thought was of the sexual connotation. The definition of words evolves over time. When people hear santorum, most realize that it’s more than just a former politician’s name.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I mean I’ve not idea what a santorum is although I’m vaguely aware there was some US politician with that name. I’d probably assume you meant sanitorium or sanitarium. To a degree it’s cultural as well as generational.

        I think it has as much to do with what one is exposed to as to how old one is. My mother (70) is incredibly literate, reads very widely (including a fair amount of romantic / erotic fiction) and is very cosmopolitan having enjoyed the swinging sixties quite a lot. She’s a lot more worldly wise than the last guy I dated who was my age but who mostly read non fiction and technical books.

        1. bowl of petunias*

          Yeah, I’m British also but I know what santorum is because I used to read Dan Savage’s advice column howevermanyyears ago. Loads of people my age didn’t, though!

        2. 2 Cents*

          If you read Dan Savage’s Modern Love column, then you’d get an idea of what “Santorum” can also mean.

      2. Savage Love Reader*

        Both Santorum in the sexual sense and pegging came from the Savage Love column in fact! And the term pegging was twenty years old last year.

      3. Teacher23*

        I’m scrolling through these comments so proud because I know what pegging means and then I get to references about santorum and I’m like what? The nasty senator from my state? Huh? I used urban dictionary. Goodness. I do however prefer reading about this then the ever raging pandemic. Thanks all for the much needed respite.

        1. Mmp*

          From the same state, and I had to Google it too. I had no idea. I found the definition rather fitting for the human Santorum though…

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, “pegging” is not just a finance term (and I’m not referring to any sexual reference.) It means something in manufacturing/supply chains.

    4. I don’t post often*

      I don’t think you can assume people know what the term means based on age. I’m mid 30s, married for many years (out of the dating scene), working full time, taking care of children, taking of older parents, and surviving the pandemic. I’m lucky if I know songs in the top 40. I just don’t have the time or wherewithal to keep up with current culture. I watched the new Disney Christmas song along and couldn’t identify half the artists. I have no idea what the term means. When I google the results are.. not helpful.
      Is there a website for culturally stupid people to go figure out things like this?!

      1. Chili pepper Attitude*

        Urban dictionary. And when you google a term like that, add the word slang to the search string.

      2. Not A Mango*

        Agree. Another poster mentioned that “most people” would recognise that “santorum” has another meaning apart from a politician’s surname: had never heard that before, and really wish I hadn’t googled it just before lunch!

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I did not trust you and googled it! I got only Rick Santorum until I added urban to the search – now I know. I am now picturing a public service announcement – santorum, the more you know!

        2. quill*

          So when Twitter introduced “fleets” last year some people were a LOT more amused than others. I imagine this is a similar problem.

    5. I like cribbage*

      I’m 23 and I had only heard of the term in the game of cribbage. So lack of cultural awareness can be an inter-generational problem

    6. SallyForth*

      I’m 64, too, and I looked it up. The first few definitions were finance related, which I knew. Then the ads started. I am grabbing my pearls. :)

      1. Sporty Yoda*

        Which pearls?
        Sorry, couldn’t resist, I’ll go back to the hole I came from… which is a choice metaphor for the conversation.

    7. New But Not New*

      Thank you! Casual ageism really makes me sick and there is so much of it on this site. I’m 66 and know what pegging means. Anybody who watched Love after Lockup (Stan and Lisa) knows!

    8. Wintermute*

      I think equally likely is the fact that in their industry the currency-related use of the term is more common so they think they’ll be seen as overly prurient if they object to a term in perfectly common industry use.

      Which is where I come down on it, it’s not like McDonalds advertising burgers with “I’d hit that” where there’s NO OTHER USE of that phrase, it’s a phrase used in financial markets around the world every day.

    9. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      I’m 71 and didn’t know either the financial or NSFW meaning of the phrase. When I googled, I got a confusing mix of business-related and porn links.

      I guess I could have just headed straight to Urban Dictionary, but if I had, I wouldn’t have learned about the business/finance meaning. Oh well.

    10. Mmp*

      I vaguely knew both the finance and NSFW definitions, but admittedly the comments here gave me a better understanding of both meanings. However, the definition I am most familiar with for “pegging” is using it to categorize a person. Might be outdated or lesser known but that’s my English-major brain for you.

      As a Comms person, I am all for using clear, plain language, but it really depends on context, audience, and internal vs external usage. Based on the example, it sounds like it is clearly a financial context. So, perhaps it is the giggling employees who need to be educated, not the director.

  2. Cat Lady*

    Eventually someone is going to tell that director what pegging means. Putting it off will only make it worse because, as Alison said, she’ll realize everyone knew & didn’t tell her.

    1. Brightwanderer*

      I’m not sure why so many people are assuming she doesn’t know. My assumption would be that she’s potentially aware of the other meaning but believes that the financial term will be the first thing that comes to mind for most people.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Unless she meant it in the sense that it is used in finance. Then (if she has a good sense of humor) she will laugh at working with a bunch of 12 year olds and explain the technical meaning.

      1. Jennifer*

        It sounds like she doesn’t have a good sense of humor, though, since it’s stated that she doesn’t take criticism well. It’s very possible that she knows but doesn’t think the other meaning matters all that much, when it clearly does if they are going to be presenting this to people outside of the department who don’t know the non-financial meaning.

        It sounds like someone just needs to suggest to her renaming the project to prevent confusion and potential embarrassment. If she doesn’t respond to that well, oh well, they tried. If she gets called out later for the name being unprofessional by a higher up or internal client, it’s on her.

    3. hamsterpants*

      My former company used to call its quarterly all-hands meeting the Business Update Meeting. The acronym BUM was used with great casualness. I’m sure everyone knew. Sometimes people just decide, yeah, words can have multiple meanings but we’re going to choose to be professional and get over it. (That said, yes my colleagues and I giggled about it constantly.)

      1. Kyrielle*

        I giggled internally every time I thought too closely about emails going to our Sales and Marketing organization at a previous job. Yup, the email was s&m@….

        1. Wintermute*

          I’ve heard of people having real issues with filtering because of that. Right now there’s an issue going on over at tumblr where you cannot search for the tag “submissions” or it blackholes your request.

        2. Kit*

          Ah, my old job introduced a new member of the C-suite whose official title was Business Development & Sales Manager.

          Yes, Bret was the BDSM, and happily announced that on his business cards and in his email signature. I laughed. A lot.

  3. vho842*

    Welp, that would be hard to keep a straight face to in a meeting. On a similar note, I had to explain to a coworker years ago what tea-bagging means when people would snicker when she would talk about her tea bags all the time.

    1. Spencer Hastings*

      If people were snickering over the mention of literal actual teabags, that seems like more of a them problem. (I’m reminded of that old tweet where a guy posted a picture of his fast food receipt where he was order #69, with a caption along the lines of “OMG THEY’RE GOING TO CALL THE SEX NUMBER I CAN’T BELIEVE IT”.)

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Yeah, people acting like 12-year-olds in a professional setting gets boring really fast.

        1. Lacey*

          Yes, I shouldn’t have to stop using super normal words or phrases just because someone’s made a life choice to be Michael Scott.

            1. Yvette*

              Newscaster: “Today the President met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff”
              Beavis: “He said joint, heh heh heh”

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, I had a friend at university who would leap on anything that could possibly be construed as a double-entendre and make a huge deal of it. I mean, we’re British, we love a knob gag (make of that one what you will…) but it made every conversation exhausting when you couldn’t say anything without it becoming a whole ‘Ha! Cucumber! I bet you LOVE a cucumber!’ thing.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          Putting this here, because the actual program was going to be for 12-year-olds (or so): One time I was in a brainstorming meeting for naming a new program for young women, and people started playing with “outside the box” and then someone said “outside your box” and people started running with that, and I had to put the kibosh on it and I have never been so embarrassed. I was the junior person in the room, but I could not let that go forward.

        3. Rayray*

          I agree. It’s not as if I’m a boring old stiff, I might kinda smile or laugh inside but to keep carrying on and on about these things really does get old fast. I have coworkers who do this kind of thing and it gets annoying after a while. These people also have toys called fart ninjas that make farting sounds and it’s like…are we in first grade here???

      2. Anonymous Hippo*

        I feel the same way about the OP question honestly. It’s just a word, and it has other non sexual meanings. If we stopped using every word that has a possible other meaning we’d be pretty hamstrung. Just be an adult. They clearly don’t mean anything sexual, I honestly feel like giggling over a word like pegging or someone ordering a #69 lunch order is borderline sexual harassment.

        1. Wintermute*

          I’m kinda with you on this one. The Victorians, those beautiful repressed people, turned EVERYTHING into a euphemism, to the extent that NOTHING more than a few monosyllables can be said without invoking a few of them.

          In fact that last sentence contained no less than three, all for the same body part (“euphamism”, “nothing”, and “monosyllable” respectively.)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We had a brief weird period here with the Tea Party.
        “Call me a tea bagger.”
        “Absolutely.”
        “… You agree suspiciously easily.”

        As a tea drinker, any entertainment value from all mentions of tea bags is just going to get eye rolls, like people who can’t handle the idea of nouns being placed in other nouns.

        1. Beth*

          That was where my mind immediately went also. In those circumstances, there was every reason to assume that the typical member of the Tea Party 1) had no idea what teabagging is, and 2) would have had a meltdown if they had known. Given how horrible they all were, it was some satisfaction watching them make fools of themselves.

    2. Essess*

      I had to have a small aside with an older coworker because she was always saying she was my “fluffer”, meaning that she would read through my reports and ‘fluff’ them up a bit. She had no idea of the adult industry job title. LOL.

      1. Janey-Jane*

        I only know about “fluffer” because of New Girl. No idea on pegging, and not going to google at work, but I’m using my imagination to fill in the blank, and I think it’s right.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This is one of those days when all weird words in the column should be subjected to the test “How will I feel if I can’t unlearn what this means?” before googling.

      2. Seal*

        I had a beautiful Persian cat I used to call my big fluffer kitty. In my defense, he really was big and fluffy!

      3. Beth*

        I nearly lost it when a young friend of mine referred to his cat as his “boi”. Most of my friends at the time used that term in a very different manner. My young friend had no idea of the context; he had “seen the word online and thought it looked cool”.

        1. Danish*

          once, when much younger, I told a chat room about my cat doing crazy zoomies through the room after a specific treat. I may have said “eager pussy”

          I got a lot of comments.

    3. BellaDiva*

      Many years ago I worked with someone who lived a rather sheltered life. he was a big Seinfeld fan and would always discuss the previous night’s episode in great detail. I don’t remember all the particulars, but this one episode Seinfeld had a date that wanted him to talk dirty to her. Coworker ended the episode re-hash with “I just didn’t understand why he was saying “Volvo” and why that was funny”… (yes, I took her aside later and explained that she miss-heard).

    4. Golden*

      We had that issue in a college class in undergrad. The TA (who was probably in his late 20s/early 30s) made an anagram called FAPS to help the class remember the four components of a topic, and had an absolutely bewildered face every time multiple people would inevitably snicker. I don’t think anyone ever told him!

    5. Threeve*

      I worked for years at a hardware store and I’m well past my teenage years, but I still can’t say “ball-peen hammer” with a straight face to save my life.

      1. Squeebird*

        I will never ask a hardware store employee where the caulk is, no matter how much trouble I’m having finding it.

    6. Anne Elliot*

      Agree, which is why I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, if the new slogan is going to be provoke snickering and make the company look clueless, then it would be a service to let someone know. But on the other hand, all us functioning adults should be able to mention things like “nuts” and “tools” and “tossed salad” without worrying about being called clueless of the potential naughty connotations of such terms in other contexts.

      So I think it’s actually a really nuanced call that depends to a very large extent on how the term is likely to land with the majority of people who will make up the audience for the slogan. If they will receive it as ‘okay,’ then it’s okay. But if they won’t, then it’s not. That’s not necessarily an easy call. If the Local Birdwatching
      Group wants to adopt the slogan “WE LOVE GREAT TITS” — well, whether that’s okay or not is going to depend entirely on who you ask.

    7. Mmp*

      Sadly I only know that term due to a scandal at a local high school many years ago. Now everything I hear a story about locker room bullying, I instantly dredge up that incident and term. The mind is a weird place sometimes. ..

  4. Five after Midnight*

    Soft pegging has been around in the financial and business vocabulary for ages, e.g. soft pegged to the USD, or as a description for supply/demand matching. It’s like making a big deal of an unfortunate acronym or abbreviation (anal for analytics or analysis, ass for assistant, etc.) – these things happen, so get your mind out of the gutter and move on.

    1. Peggy for this one*

      Thank you. I did a search and found dozens of financial and currency exchange sites, no porn. Seems like a big fuss over not much.

      1. Responsible Party*

        Indeed. It’s a well:used long-standing term of art. Those who can’t handle it in a professional manner should probably move on to other fields.

        1. Texas*

          It’s not that surprising that if people who’ve only or almost only heard the term with the sexual meaning (which is a pretty prominent term imo) they will associate the term with the sexual meaning. People have different life experiences and contexts for things, so it seems pretty OTT to say that that means they shouldn’t work in finance.

          1. Responsible Party*

            It’s OTT to say that if people can’t act professionally in a given field they should fine another? Really? Sure there’s a learning curve, but really?

            This isn’t specific to this term or this field. It’s a pretty standard expectation, and not remotely OTT.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Any chance you have SafeSearch turned on when you search? These are the search results I just got. Which of course isn’t to say it’s not also a finance term, but it’s very very much a sex term too. (Which doesn’t mean it can’t be used — if it’s as common as, say, POS as point-of-service, then I agree people should just deal. But in a field where so many employees are snickering over it, maybe it’s not so common there and it’s worth thinking about whether other audiences will be similarly put off.)

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This is my thought – what is the audience the presentation/strategy name is for. If financial, then yup common and go with it – if not financial a new name is probably a best bet (if it’s safe to mention the problem – if not, as the answer said this is the price of running the department by fear).

          1. Five after Midnight*

            1. The strategy is around pricing (says so in the letter) so presumably directed at sales people and maybe some finance/business staff due to profitability implications. In this context, soft pegging will be relating pricing to the demand or cost inputs – perfectly reasonable use of the phrase and it shouldn’t be raising any eyebrows.
            2. The letter mention “younger workers” chuckling at this. May I suggest that a “younger” demographic may be just a bit more sex-obsessed than others? Not trying to make this about generational gap, but simply pointing out that our viewpoints change over time. I can know about alternate meanings of words but depending on my age and maturity level, I can adjust my response. (And, yes, I enjoy an occasional innuendo.)

            1. Andie Begins*

              Yeah it’s probably that younger coworkers are sex obsessed in a way older coworker aren’t and not a more proximate cause, like your younger coworkers being earlier in their careers may have exclusively experienced the word in a sex context and have not yet experienced the term as finance-specific jargon.

            2. Context*

              I think it’s less likely that the younger colleagues are all horndogs and more likely that they’re just newest to the field and not yet immersed in the jargon. Like the first time one of my engaged friends texted me she was stressed about getting all her STDs in the mail in time but by the time I’d been to six or seven weddings I had enough exposure to context that my brain read “Save the Dates” not “Sexually Transmitted Disease” on wedding blogs.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                I’m here chuckling at weddings being a source of multitudes of STDs.

                My own wedding was a very lowkey event, and I’ve only been to five weddings in my 25 years in the US, so I was today years old when I learned that STD means Save The Date in wedding lingo.

                1. Agile Phalanges*

                  And Short-Term Disability in the HR/insurance/employee taking leave fields. My boyfriend was rather appalled when I told him I could use STD for my tonsillectomy. I just rattled off the term because I’d been helping in the HR department for years and didn’t even think of the other meaning.

              2. The Buddhist Viking*

                At a job several years ago, I wrote up a bio of the CFO and sent it to him for approval. Only after I hit “send” did I realize that, instead of saying, “during his many years with the IRS” I had typed “during his many years with the IRA.” I was in horror that I had just identified this guy as a terrorist!

                Then he sent back the correction, but he wasn’t offended at all by the typo, because to his financial brain, “IRA” did not mean Irish Republican Army–it only meant Individual Retirement Account.

                Different readers are going to absorb different things.

                1. Curious*

                  I recall being horrified on reading in the NY Times in the 1970s an ad that urged people to start their own IRA

            3. Scarlet2*

              “May I suggest that a “younger” demographic may be just a bit more sex-obsessed than others?”

              Seriously?

              1. quill*

                Yeah, it’s far more likely exposure to the word in a different context. And perhaps being less subtle than they think about being surprised that someone that senior “doesn’t know” about the x-rated meaning.

            4. Covered in Bees*

              “May I suggest that a “younger” demographic may be just a bit more sex-obsessed than others?”
              Not a great assumption to make. They’re adults, not teenagers trying to get a handle on recently raging hormones. I’ve seen immaturity at any age, even yours.

              1. pancakes*

                In fairness, it’s not much of an assumption given that the letter specifies the people visibly reacting to this are “(mostly) younger.” It is immature to make a display of reacting this way, whether intentionally or not, rather than speak up and suggest considering another term.

                1. Lance*

                  ‘Immature’ =/= ‘sex-obssessed’, though. That specific wording is what people are taking issue with.

              2. Five after Midnight*

                Yeah, that’s fair. What I meant by “sex-obsessed” is the immature attitude that’s displayed and seeing everything through a specific lens, and not the “raging hormones”. Yours and other comments are on point, and it was a poor choice of words on my part. As others said, it’s likely the combination of the immaturity, lack of respect for the director, and unfamiliarity with the term that’s causing the issue, not the specific phrase itself.

            5. EventPlannerGal*

              I feel like this is probably more about schadenfreude than young people being giant horndogs or whatever. The letter says that this director takes feedback badly to the point that hundreds of people are too scared to mention a pretty simple issue. When you see someone that you don’t like or who takes themselves way too seriously about to do something embarrassing, it’s a lot funnier than if it was someone you like. (Well, maybe I’m just a horrid person but I think it’s true.) I bet that if someone else had come up with this strategy, it wouldn’t have become such a joke amongst the staff.

              1. Yvette*

                True, I bet that had it been coined by a well liked and respected person, someone would have taken them gently aside and mentioned it at the first instance.

                And as far as you being horrid “Well, you know what they say: if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!” (One of my favorite lines from Steel Magnolias)

              2. Sara without an H*

                This sounds plausible. The sniggering may have more to do with how the staff view the director than the word combination itself.

                1. quill*

                  It’s way funnier if a boss/teacher/older relative you don’t like is repeatedly doing something embarassing than if it’s just a random person or someone you DO like.

            6. Spero*

              No one who is not in finance knows the finance definition. The term is 20 years old, so the younger coworkers likely learned the sexual one first and LATER expanded their knowledge to the financial one – but the sexual one is probably still their baseline term because of their longer familiarity with it. Whereas the older coworkers who were in finance before the term was coined knew the finance one first, learned sexual later if at all and still default to finance.
              It’s like if you have a sibling named Mike and then date a Mike. Sibling Mike always is first Mike you think of, and even if you marry partner Mike you may still, years later, have moments where someone mentions “is Mike x” and you default to brother Mike. It’s just how brains work. No need to malign younger people as sex fiends.

              1. TiredEmployee*

                I’m not in finance, never heard of the financial definition of the word pegging and very aware of the sexual meaning, but the phrase “pricing strategy” in the letter was enough for me to have a non-sexual frame of mind and guess at a (wrong) definition instead of thinking “tee hee that’s a sex thing”. The response and comments here are really surprising.

                But maybe it is everyone being sex-obsessed, given I’m asexual.

          2. SaeniaKite*

            I had an older colleague inducting the new starter to the tea list and making process (e.g don’t put the milk in first or Saenia will throw it down the sink) but unfortunately she decided that the term ‘teabagging’ meant leaving the bag in the cup and said the lovely phrase ‘Don’t teabag Kat but Jay doesn’t mind being teabagged as long as you tell him so it doesn’t hit him in the face unexpectedly’ and then wondered why I lost it laughing. I told her to google it *at home* and she came back the next day horrified

            1. New But Not New*

              Why do you have to label the coworker as older? That’s irrelevant! I see that all through this thread and others when there is no need, it’s similar to referencing a person’s race when it has nothing to do with the point being made. Wish this would stop, casual ageism is so annoying and too acceptable.

              1. Jaybee*

                Curious, do you really feel that the idea ‘many older people are not familiar with the term teabagging’ is both inaccurate and harmful?

                Nobody is saying that all older people are unfamiliar with these terms. But I can tell you now that none of my older coworkers know the term. It’s not because they’re ‘stupid’ or ‘out of touch’, they’re just way less likely to have been exposed to the video game culture that term came out of because their age put them at a different place when it became popular.

                “Older people can’t use technology” is ageism. “Older people can’t learn new techniques” is ageism. “Older people often aren’t familiar with newer slang, especially the kind not used in polite company”? Not sure on that one.

              2. Mmp*

                I agree. I cringe every time age is mentioned in this or any other conversation. It is rarely ever relevant to the conversation and disrespect the fact that people of all ages have diverse life experiences.

          1. Stephanie*

            Bwhahaha, you’re not wrong. The parent company for those sites sometimes recruited coders from my alma mater (which is known for computer science) for exactly that reason.

            I will never find this now, but I read an interesting article a few years back arguing adult sites were often on the cutting edge of technology (adopting VHS early) due to the illicit nature, high demand, and people’s desires to keep viewing private.

            1. Covered in Bees*

              My partner works in internet-based tech and that is definitely a thing. Unless you were applying to an incredibly conservative company, having an adult site on your resume was fine. Depending on what they wrote there, it might be a feature. His last employer specifically had a computer that wasn’t connected too their network so they could check people’s code on those sites (as well as other things).

            2. Forrest*

              I have a friend whose PhD was on this— innovation and development of new business models in the porn industry. Her book is Stigma and the Shaping of the Pornographic Industry..

              I’ve also seen it more recently as an argument for the pointlessness of blockchain/crypto currencies: if there really was any security or commercial benefit, porn would be ALL OVER that, and they’re not.

            3. SaaSsy*

              Oh totally. Those sites pull in a LOT of incredible data talent – the mining tools/processes/teams are awesome. I’ve worked with a few people who started out there and it was definitely cutting edge. Great place to start & learn, and not as much of a tradeoff for having those names on your resume as you’d expect, they’re a pretty big employer in (major city near me with a data community I’ve been involved with.)

        2. Wendy*

          I assume this is like everyone who does cognitive behavioral therapy, who just have to get used to the sniggering over CBT (also an abbreviation for a sex thing) and move on. That said, even if they want to be more mature than that, people DO react like they’re 12 to a lot of things and a smart manager will at least take into account that this reaction will happen and plan for it.

          1. Peachtree*

            I feel like CBT in a sex context must be either an American thing or a niche thing – I’ve never heard it before! So it shows that it really is about audience …

                1. Myrin*

                  Yeah, I know the expression as a whole but have never seen in abbreviated. I am somewhat familiar with behavioural therapy, though, so I’ve known “CBT” in that context for years and it will probably stay the first association in my mind.

              1. a tester, not a developer*

                …and my brain just sang (to the tune of C is for Cookie):

                “T is for torture – that’s quite enough for me”. Thanks Sesame Street!

        3. Jamboree*

          Excellent example! My brain always translates POS to the vulgar meaning before I remember it also means point-of-sale. Every time. Also I don’t know the x-rated meaning of pegging, and even though I was around during the TEA Party years, I’m still not quite clear on the teabag reference. Signed, I like it just fine here in my little land of ignorance

          1. Lyngend (Canada)*

            Having worked with POS machines, trust me when I say that cashiers often mean both abreviations at once.

          2. Barbara Eyiuche*

            There is a relevant scene in the movie Deadpool that might be used to illustrate what exactly springs to mind when many people hear the term ‘pegging.’

              1. Corporate Lawyer*

                LOL! Funny someone should mention Deadpool, because that’s exactly where I learned what the term pegging (in the sexual context) means. FWIW, I was unaware of the non-sexual finance meaning.

          3. DataGirl*

            I have an older colleague who uses FU for follow up in almost every email and I always cringe. I haven’t said anything because it’s pretty safe to assume everyone knows he means follow up, but it will always have the other meaning to me.

          4. turquoisecow*

            I’ve worked in retail and I will sit in a meeting where people discuss POS for an hour and think nothing of it and then listen to my Husband complain about the POS thing he’s working with and my brain doesn’t have any problem switching between the two contexts. I’ve worked with POS systems for half my life, though, and I’m immersed in that sort of culture. When I say POS to other people outside that world I often get someone joking about the second meaning.

            I’m guessing the higher ups at this company are more immersed in the financial meaning and the (mostly) younger folks aren’t as immersed in the jargon so think of the other meaning first. If I started working at my current job this year, it would probably be harder for me to separate the different meanings of POS.

            Then again, POS isn’t a sex term. It might be harder if it was.

          5. quill*

            Not helped by the fact that if you work in retail for any amount of time you know that a POS system is almost always a real POS.

          6. Jaid*

            My local news station carries a commercial for POS systems , shilled by a sports celebrity. My inner 12 year-old always giggles.

        4. fr*

          I once got a free meal at a restaurant. The owner/server was having problems with her point of sale machine while I was paying and I quipped, “That’s why they call them a POS.” Once she stopped laughing, she comped my meal.

      3. Stephanie*

        Ha at the username.

        Depends if you have SafeSearch on. You don’t have that filter on and…yeah.

        Regardless, director may just look goofy that no one felt comfortable enough to point out the unfortunate double entendre. May also depend on the audience and if it is familiar with the jargon.

        1. Willis*

          Right. If the director is using it accurately in the financial sense and the audience would know it that way, leave it alone. If not, just say something once without making a big deal out of it and move on.

        2. Sasha*

          Depends on your search term. “Soft pegging” by itself got porn, “soft pegging meaning” brought back finance sites.

      4. UnstableBill*

        Turn off SafeSearch. Also don’t do this from your work computer unless you work with OP. :)

        1. Peggy for this one*

          I have no idea how to turn on Sage Search. I use and iPad and no one else uses it. I have no children. It never even dawned on me to so sided it.

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Many browers come with safe-search settings automatically enabled, it’s not something you need to turn on usually.

        2. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

          Can you explain how to turn off Safe Search? I couldn’t find it in my settings. I have an Android if that matters.

          1. pancakes*

            You can search for that. The answers are going to differ depending on what browser you’re using, not just OS.

          2. *daha**

            It’s a setting within the Google app (assuming you search with Google, which is the default on Android.) Keep clicking through on the Google searchbar and eventually you’ll actually get to the app itself. Top right corner there is a symbol (it might be your userpic, it might be an initial, I’ve got a G in a circle) that you can click that will bring you to a list that includes Settings as a choice. Go to that Settings, then the E in a box also labeled Hide Explicit Results. That will let you turn on or off safesearch in Google.

        3. Despachito*

          I am not aware of having SafeSearch, and the only hits I’m getting are the financial ones.

          1. Bri*

            I have to go in pages and pages to get anything that isn’t porn involving the sex act or or articles about it.

            Might be worth checking whether you do have safesearch on, assuming google hasn’t decided I’m strongly into sex above finance. Which would be weird, since many of my searches are finance related.

      5. LMK*

        I Googled this and the first page of search results was all porn sites. I didn’t find another definition till the second page.

      6. nnn*

        When I googled soft pegging, it was all porn. When I googled What is soft pegging? it was all finance.

        I know the sexual meaning of “pegging” by itself, but I still haven’t been able to figure out what “soft pegging” specifically means in a sexual context without actually looking at porn.

        1. Mangled metaphor*

          Definitely depends on how you word your question. I’ve found a world of difference just because I used less accurate grammar in a search request.

          It can also depend on your past search history – the algorithm will know if your interests lie in numbers or entertainment and sort results accordingly.

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          Oh, I assumed that “soft” just meant the level of, uh, intensity involved. I wonder if there’s something more to it? (Not going to search on a work device, though.)

        3. Brightwanderer*

          I don’t think “soft pegging” has any specific sexual meaning – it’s just that pegging does, and then you combine it with a word that looks like it could plausibly be part of the sexual meaning, so it gets more of a reaction. Like if someone insisted on referring to doing a task without tools as a “hand job” and then went on to say that this was a particularly messy hand job…

          1. JustSomeone*

            This is definitely a big part of it for me. It would be one thing if the surrounding phrasing was innocuous. If you told me that outcome X was pegged to variable Y, I wouldn’t find it particularly noteworthy. But when you have a word that means a type of buttsecks coupled with a modifier that stresses it is gentle and sensual buttsecks, that puts it in a whole different category.

      7. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s an interesting sidebar reading these comments, how different people’s different search engines reasoned “like pegged to the dollar” or something else.

    2. UnstableBill*

      I have spent the last 15 years in corporate finance and if I got an email at work with the subject line “PROJECT PEGGING” I would NOT think of FX rates. Just my 0.018€.

      1. 2 Cents*

        I work in advertising. We have a DAM – digital asset manager – and I’ll be d—ed if my colleagues and I don’t occasionally chuckle when we all have to talk about it at length.

        1. never mind where I work*

          I work in healthcare. Whenever someone mentions PCP I have to take a moment to think whether they mean angel dust or primary care physician.

    3. Spencer Hastings*

      Came here to say this. On a scale of 1 (huh huh huh, you said “ASSets”) to 10 (that guy from Arrested Development mashing up “analyst” and “therapist” into “analrapist” and putting it on his business cards), I don’t think the LW has much to worry about. Or reason to believe that management is blithely unaware that “pegging” has a sexual meaning, as someone mentioned above.

      It’s a lesser-known but well-established meaning of the word, and it’s being used internally and not emblazoned on stuff that’s given to clients, so IMO it’s no big deal.

      (Saying this as someone who enjoys having a private giggle about off-color puns.)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        A previous job was with a company based in a non-English speaking country, although English was the main language of communication. There were a few company strategies which had unfortunate names. The one I remember was Primary Value Chain or PVC, which it took a UK based colleague to explain about Polyvinyl Chloride.

        1. AG*

          Well, my dad did business with a European company that was called White Power. They were NOT happy when they learned what that stood for, and I think they changed their name afterwards.

          1. Yvette*

            There are companies that will research names to check if it is already in use, if it has connotations that you may not have thought of, etc. Apparently White Power did not go that route. I don’t think The Tata Group or NAD Electronics did either.

            1. quill*

              I’m reminded of the urban legend about the Chevy Nova’s sales problems in latin america. (No Va = does not go in spanish. I say this is an urban legend because I’ve never seen any proof that this actually happened.)

        2. Lady_Lessaa*

          GRIN about the PVC. Being a chemist, that would be my first thought as well.

          One pairing that I enjoy is ACS is either American Chemical Society or American Cancer Society.

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            I think my favourite is BAPS – British Assoc. of Plastic Surgeons.
            Makes me giggle every time as it’s so apt and very British double entendre

        3. metadata minion*

          Wait, why is sharing an acronym with PVC bad? It’s a type of plastic and there are only so many letters in the alphabet so you’re going to end up with the same acronym as *something*. Does it also have a sex meaning?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            With acronyms that don’t make a word (BVP vs POB), I think you just start from the point that one of the possible meanings is dirty. If not now, someone is diligently inventing one and trying to spread it.

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              Urban Dictionary lists “penis-vagina contact” and “proud virgin club” as possible meanings, among others, but I’m just as baffled as metadata minion is about why *polyvinyl chloride*, specifically, is such an embarrassing thing to share an acronym with that it has to be explained.

              1. Spencer Hastings*

                (referring to the part about “it took a UK based colleague to explain about Polyvinyl Chloride”)

            2. Mangled metaphor*

              Rule 34 doesn’t just apply to images.

              If its possible to have a sexual connotation, if it didn’t at the start of the sentence, it does by the end of it.

              How I personally react to things depends on what I know about the person highlighting it – are they behaving professionally enough that the more innocent meaning applies, or are they immature enough that they’re trying to make me feel uncomfortable (good luck with that) with the sexual meaning instead. React and respond as applicable.

          2. Spencer Hastings*

            I guess the risque part is that the same substance is used for bondage and fetish gear? But yeah, I agree that Home Depot and Lowe’s are not somehow embarrassing themselves by selling and referring to PVC pipe.

            That way lies madness:

            “Hahaha, can you believe it? This shoe company is talking about how their shoes are made of *leather*! Someone really should tell them what else leather is used for!”
            “Get a load of these doctors talking about wearing latex gloves!”

          3. Brightwanderer*

            It doesn’t need to be a sex thing – I would read “PVC” as “plastic” in most contexts. If that was the company name, I would assume they were in plastics manufacture. If it’s a process, I can easily imagine reading sentences like “and then we apply the PVC” and thinking it’s some sort of lamination process. Its just a huge extra hassle if you’re constantly fighting against people’s default reading of it, and at least in my part of the world, PVC is literally just a synonym for plastic. I have PVC windows and I’m constantly getting fliers thruough the door for PVC gutters… it’s just really common in that sense.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Although OP does mention people talking about tshirts–that might be worth discouraging.

        1. Yvette*

          I think the people talking about t-shirts are being flippant. “Lots of (mostly) younger workers at the company who know what it means are making fun of it. They keep saying at meetings that it is their favorite strategy yet and they want to get t-shirts for it.”

          1. pancakes*

            Right, but why keep saying the same things? Being hung up on being flippant is pretty tedious.

            1. Yvette*

              Probably because it would provide them with endless hours of giggles should the company actually buy and hand out t-shirts.

    4. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

      Ehh… unfortunate acronyms and abbreviations happen, but intelligent professionals in fields where the are happening stop using the. Take CAGR (compound annual growth rate) and CAFR (comprehensive annual financial reports) in the municipal finance field – used to be you pronounced both acronyms, but given that pronouncing the second sounds remarkably like a derogatory term for black South Africans, most people in the field have stopped, and now spell them out.

      In the day and age of autocomplete and autocorrect, with most communication being digital, I’m wondering if there is a good justification for using the problematic acronyms and abbreviations at all, aside from it’s been done that way for a while now?

      1. Not A Mango*

        Using your example, the acronym CAGR would probably get a few laughs in Italy, as it’s pretty close to the verb “cagare”, which means “to take a dump”.

      2. Wintermute*

        when you go international it adds a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. I’m reminded of the fact that a line from Xenophon, in greek it means “But they did not take the city, in fact they had no hope of taking it” but in FRENCH it is an extremely vulgar way to say “Where is the maid Pauline? She’s at the railway station peeing and pooping”.

    5. PT*

      I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I’ve also encountered double-entendre words in my line of work. I have a lot of young employees so whenever someone finds one I would just say, “Oh yes that sounds funny,” and move on.

      Acknowledging it takes away the reward of snickering behind “the boss’s” back because you’re letting them know you know it, but being matter of fact about moving on professionally makes it clear that it’s not acceptable to keep goofing around, too.

    6. Lobsterman*

      I wanted to reinforce this – it’s a term that has a specific meaning in finance and econ.

    7. Eisa*

      There is a saying in German which can be translated as “Everything is pure to the pure.”
      Optional addendum, © yours truly “and everything is swinish to the pigs.”

      (Dem Reinen ist alles rein.. den Schweinen ist alles Schwein.)

      I guess it’s best to fall somewhere in the middle, but err on the side of “purity” in a professional context.

    8. Eisa*

      There is an Italian surname that normal people associate with Pre-Raphaelism.
      One of our customers also has that surname.

      One of my colleagues considers this The Most Hilarious Thing Ever, just because it sounds similar to a synonym for a certain body part in our language. It makes his day whenever the name is spoken.

      I usually roll my eyes and tell him he’s ten years old.

  5. Observer*

    #2- I’m trying to figure out what you mean by respect. Right now, your employees are treating you with respect. They are reacting to a generous bonus by assuming that you are simply a good boss who wants to recognize good work. The only way that they would think that they need to do anything more is if they saw you as a petty dictator (even if a “benevolent” one who is not abusive) who expects employees to butter up the boss on a personal level. That’s not a good look.

    Money flows from boss to employee, not the other way around. And to expect something – anything – other than good work in exchange for pay or even a bonus is really boundary crossing.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. OP, they already gave you the best Christmas card/gift yet. They did their best each day all year round. Unlike friends and family, tangible reciprocity should not be expected. I’d respectfully suggest that if you feel hurt by this that you take a hard look at what your actual role in their lives is. Your job is to make sure they know their jobs and they know the company rules. They did what you asked. You thanked them. And that’s all there is.

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely. You’re their boss, OP2, not their friend – of course it’s nice when we have collaborative and friendly relationships at work, but when it crosses that boundary into ‘we’re all like family here!!’ then more often than not it leads to serious problems. If you’re wanting a ‘we’re like family!!’ relationship with your employees then I’d suggest looking at why that might be, because actually the healthiest and most respectful thing to do is to keep a professional distance from the people who work for you. And that means that no, they won’t buy you a Christmas gift or give you a Christmas card, ‘even though’ you’ve given them a bonus – a bonus is a nice thing, obviously, but it’s not something employees need to show gratitude for. They did a good job, you gave them a bonus. Just like how you pay them each month because they show up and do the work they agreed to do. It’s a business transaction, not a Christmas present.

      2. Artemesia*

        Years ago my husband’s law firm gave the secretary’s a nice bonus at the end of the year because they had a very good year. They paid well and bonuses were not a normal thing for support staff, but it was a good year. The next day — a huge gift basket was delivered to each partner at their home; I would guess that the cost would equal at least half their bonus maybe more. The partners felt bad that something they had tried to do for staff had created this sense that they needed to gift up. It is business not a social relationship and bonuses are compensation not a ‘gift’ in a social sense. Yes they should be thanked for especially in a situation where it is very discretionary e.g. if my husband’s firm didn’t give the bonuses it would literally go into their own pockets — but other than a pleasant acknowledgement, the staff should not be gifting up.

    2. triplehiccup*

      Well put. Has there been an AAM column about similar, common missteps and misperceptions among business owners? I’d be fascinated to read it, especially with the Great Resignation presumably including a number of people starting their own businesses.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        There was a letter from a manager who felt his/her staff did not give him enough praise…wait, the LW was the manager of a manager who felt this way and was concerned about that person’s perceptions.
        Anyone recall?

    3. Montre*

      Extremely well put! I worked for a medical practice owner who acted like the dictator of his own little fiefdom. We didn’t get bonuses anywhere near $1000 (more like $25 or branded clothing), but it was EXPECTED that we all contribute towards a gift card for him every year or he would pout and make out lives difficult. Most of my coworkers made $10-11/hr and couldn’t afford to throw a few hours of wages after taxes back at him to grovel.
      These are your employees. You should see the holiday bonus as a retention strategy and honest appreciation of their work over the past year, especially when options are much more widely available to employees than ever have been.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Exactly.

        I got a lot of side looks at ExJob because I didn’t contribute towards getting the boss a really swell Christmas present. But every penny counted, and I wasn’t earning a whole lot of pennies. To add to the fact, he didn’t gift us anything. It was common in that company for the managers to treat their employees to a Christmas lunch, or give out little gift cards (think fifteen bucks). He didn’t give us anything. And I found out that the gift he was getting–was just our cash! The money was crammed into a card and handed to him. It felt disgusting, and I’m not sorry I didn’t participate in that.

        1. Montre*

          I tried to push back using the language previously recommended here to do so and felt the wrath of the longest tenured assistant come down on me like the fires of hell. She had definitely drank the “you must appreciate that he even pays you!” Kool aid.

          1. Yvette*

            Any chance she was the person whose employee wasn’t respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck?

          2. MissBaudelaire*

            That mindset really, really pisses me off. Why no, I don’t ‘appreciate’ that someone pays me. I earned the money by working!

            1. Meep*

              I have a coworker who told everyone and their mother (as in clients and random people off the street who did not give a fuck) that we paid for a guy’s PhD. The same guy who was a mere semester off from graduating and just had to finish his dissertation when he arrived. When she started telling everyone and their mother (again random people off the street) that “we” were taking a Master’s class when in actuality, I was taking the class and paying for it to boot, I knew what to do.

              When I finally had to confess to the company that I was taking graduate-level classes (the owner is a professor at the university – I wanted a letter of rec from him), I made it clear I wasn’t looking for Company Money. As far as they needed to know I got a nice inheritance from my grandmother and when she tries it with me, I can say with absolute certainty “she” had nothing to do with my education.

              Some people are the worst.

            2. Meep*

              I have a coworker who told everyone and their mother (as in clients and random people off the street) that we paid for a guy’s PhD. The same guy who was a mere semester off from graduating and just had to finish his dissertation when he arrived. When she started telling everyone and their mother (again random people off the street) that “we” were taking a Master’s class when in actuality, I was taking the class and paying for it to boot, I knew what to do.

              When I finally had to confess to the company that I was taking graduate-level classes (the owner is a professor at the university – I wanted a letter of rec from him), I made it clear I wasn’t looking for Company Money. As far as they needed to know I got a nice inheritance from my grandmother and when she tries it with me, I can say with absolute certainty “she” had nothing to do with my education.

              Some people are the worst.

          3. Just J.*

            I used to have arguments with my company president at a past job about loyalty. He always argued that employees should be loyal to their bosses / companies because their bosses / companies give them jobs. I always argued that employees can work ANYWHERE (and we were in STEM, so yep, we were in demand) and so bosses should be loyal to their employees and treat them as best as they can.

            So, yeah, I hate this “you must give your boss a gift”. Your employees making you a profit is your gift.

            1. Dotty*

              Argh! “Loyalty” is such a horrible, mis-used workplace concept! One of my past employers constantly uses the “loyalty” of those who have worked there for peanuts longest as the reason that newer people shouldn’t get raises, promotions, or good bonuses. The reality is that the most “loyal” employees are all stuck there because they can’t get other jobs for various reasons (mostly things like lack of industry-standard credentials). They’re putting up with sub-standard pay and conditions because they can’t find any other options, but they’re being used as the bar that nobody newer can pass. Not surprisingly this results in low morale and constant turnover of the more hirable “unloyal”.

    4. WorkingGirl*

      OMG i swear number 2 is my boss (different industry though). Our vp always collects $$ for a group gift to the boss. I don’t contribute because i think that’s weird!

    5. Bagpuss*

      I agree with Observer and Not So New Reader

      I do get that it can *feel* a bit odd, particularly if you are new to management or if you’re in a small team and have a friendly, collaborative way of working – but as the boss, it’s up to you to remind yourself that it is perfectly normal for gifts to only flow one way, and that a bonus is a reward for good work, not a free gift
      (I have to say, I think that giving bonuses at a different time of year might be a good idea, to help you reinforce to yourself that they are a reward for people’s work, and not a Christmas gift. )

    6. Dotty*

      Ugh. I feel for the employer and the employees. One of my worst workplace memories, that still bothers me to this day, comes from being on the other side of this issue:

      +/- 20 years ago, early in my career, I worked for a small firm – just the boss and 3 employees, of which I was the most senior, though not by much.
      One year had been very bright, our boss took us all out for dinner, and at the end of the night he handed us envelopes with generous bonus checks. Of course I thanked him when he gave me the envelope. Beyond that I wasn’t sure what the appropriate gesture was (and this was long before I knew of askamanger) so I consulted a business etiquette book – and it said the same thing as the advice here: this is a business transaction, not a gift, and no reciprocation beyond the in-the-moment “thank you” is appropriate. So I followed that and didn’t follow up further with a card or gift.

      Some weeks later, during a moment in which my boss was annoyed with me for some unrelated reason, he brought up that one of my coworkers had written him a letter profusely thanking him for the bonus, and gotten him a little gift, and that I, in contrast, seemed ungrateful, and that I should know better because I was the most senior, and yet my more junior coworker was “a better example”. I was absolutely crushed. I had tried to do the right thing, but because my boss and coworker weren’t aware that this was the “proper” etiquette, I’d only managed to hurt my boss and cause resentment.

      The following year I knew that, proper business etiquette be damned, I was going to need to be more demonstratively grateful! This time I was prepared ahead of time: I sent my boss and his wife a Christmas card and gift – a food item known as a specialty of where I’m from. I thanked him extra warmly when he handed me an envelope at the holiday dinner (though he was so tipsy that I wasn’t sure he’d remember that). Then, a couple, days afterward, I sent him a thank you card with a long handwritten message in which I’d tried to communicate my sincere appreciation of him by mentioning a couple specific examples of things I’d learned from him that year and how much it meant to me that he took so much time and care he took to pass along his wisdom.
      And then… some weeks later… in another moment of anger, he criticized my thank you card! He said that to him it said that all I cared about was what I could get from him. I felt terrible, and it’s something I still look back on sadly. And I still have no idea how to write a thank you note that doesn’t thank someone for what they offer… I mean, isn’t that the point of a thank you note?

      Over time of course I realized that that particular boss was never going to be happy with me, no matter what I did, and probably just never going to be happy, period.
      But a more useful lesson that I did take with me is that knowing correct business etiquette can hurt you, when the colleagues you’re interacting with don’t know it too, so sometimes it’s better to assume they don’t know it. Ever since then I’ve made sure to add every boss to my Christmas card list, and written a short, non-specific blurb about my appreciation of them, hoping that will be enough to ward off resentment.

      1. Observer*

        But a more useful lesson that I did take with me is that knowing correct business etiquette can hurt you, when the colleagues you’re interacting with don’t know it too, so sometimes it’s better to assume they don’t know it

        That’s actually NOT a good lesson. Because the issue here is not that your boss didn’t “know the etiquette.” It’s that he was a jerk who would never be satisfied with anything you did.

        Also, you could very easily offend someone or just make them very uncomfortable by acting in ways that assume that they don’t know standard etiquette or how to manage relationships appropriately. For instance, I’ve gone to bat for someone who works for me. I’d be INTENSELY uncomfortable if he wrote me a long thank you note because he thought that I “don’t know etiquette”. He just got a bonus. It wasn’t my doing, although I was pleased and my feedback almost certainly helped make it happen. My boss would extremely taken aback if the employee wrote this kind of note of thanks.

        1. Dotty*

          Yes, I completely agree with you that I would never want to do anything that signaled in any way that I thought an employer “might not know etiquette”. I hope I’m not doing that! It’s just that I learned from that early experience that just doing what an etiquette expert says can result in hurt feelings if the other party hasn’t learned the same thing (OP #2 case in point.). What I’ve been doing ever since that early unpleasant experience is sending bosses holiday cards with the most generic 1 or 2 line note of appreciation “for all you do”, and wishing us all another successful year -nothing more effusive or personal than that, and I’d hope that wouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable. At leas it has seemed to ward off any more criticisms of my lack of gratitude.

          1. Jaybee*

            This is very interesting because you seem to be starting from the assumption that there is some approach you could take that would somehow result in never hurting anyone’s feelings, ever.

            If that is, indeed, your assumption, you might need to learn the broader lesson here. The issue is not that other people don’t know the ettiquette. The issue is that it is simply not possible to always make everyone happy, even if you do everything perfectly.

        2. Artemesia*

          There is a difference though in expressing appreciation in a holiday or thank you card and being required to give a gift. It is prudent to thank the boss for a bonus and costs you nothing.

    7. Free Meerkats*

      Historically, our workgroup has passed christmas gifts every which way. And I freely gave my manager gifts because he was a friend from before I started the job. Now that I have the manager job, I gave gifts to my employees early with a comment that was essentially, “Don’t get anything for me, I’m your boss and gifts should flow down.”

      I got nothing from them, and I’m good with that.

    8. Meep*

      Some people are just entitled and scrooges.

      My former manager was annoyed enough to complain to multiple of our coworkers that I didn’t seem “appreciative” enough of the 6% raise she “fought” tooth and nail for me.

      The reason I wasn’t appreciative in the slightest? Well, it couldn’t have possibly been that 3 months prior to the raise, this asshole was trying to get me fired. Nor the fact it had been my first raise in 3.5 years of working there while my coworkers had gotten 12% raises after a year. And the reason this was my first raise? Their managers advocated for them. Mine told me I was a selfish person who wanted to see the company sink for my own greed (more or less verbatim with a deflecting air so not to directly accuse me) any time I tested the waters.

      Not to mention, last year we were supposed to receive a Christmas bonus of $800 and she purposefully suspended my payroll so I wouldn’t get it (Payroll confirmed it). I didn’t bother taking it up with our boss out of the simple shame that I was supposed to be fired 3 months previously. Now I know the only reason she wanted me fired was to hide the fact she wasn’t doing her own damn job.

      Point is, while I am blown away by the gall of LW2, I am not surprised. There are people with a shitty mindset out there. I’ve met one of them.

    9. Claudia*

      I am very generous in every way with them. If they want days off, leave ear l y, etc…I am totally flexible auth them. I give bonuses when I think they’ve worked extra hard on a project. I never said I wanted anything in the way of a gift. Just seems that they should have gotten me a Christmas card, that’s all.

      1. Meep*

        The fact you need to bring up how “generous” you are when you aren’t getting your way tells me you aren’t all that generous. People who are actually generous do not need to justify it by doing deeds any decent human being wouldn’t bat an eye at doing. They are good people for the sake of being good people. And they do not expect ANYTHING in return. Not even a cheap Christmas card. The criticism is valid.

      2. Observer*

        No, they don’t need to get you even “just a christmas card”. They don’t need to do ANYTHING after the dinner, other than continue to do good work. That is EXACTLY the point I’m trying to make.

        The fact that you are a good boss is a good thing. But that doesn’t entitle you to anything more than the best work they can reasonably give. And be very clear – you ARE a *good* boss, and you can definitely take satisfaction in that. But that doesn’t make you a saint. And while what you are doing is good, it’s not so out of the range of what bosses can and do do for their employees that a good employee needs to give yo special thanks and get you cards etc.

        When you staff respond to getting a bonus by noting it and keeping up their good work, working extra hard on occasion to finish off a project and being flexible about their work, THAT is “respectful”. When they have to give you cards, that is NOT “respectful”. That’s a situation where praising the boss is what counts and the is never something that engenders respect.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        That’s not how that works though. This “If they want days off, leave early, etc…I am totally flexible with them. I give bonuses when I think they’ve worked extra hard on a project. ” is just good management.
        Expecting ANYTHING other than good work from them in response to that flexibility and those bonuses puts you out of bounds. That’s just how it is. You may also want to ponder that not everyone is Christian and thus regardless of the bonuses or whathaveyou, may be the type to never give anyone a Christmas card. I certainly never would. So that particular expectation is problematic in more ways than one.

        1. Mannequin*

          I’m not Christian, I don’t celebrate Christmas, and I don’t send out Christmas cards.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Hmm. Can you let go of that preconceived notion because that’s not how things work.

        If you continue to believe that they should give you a card, then you are setting yourself up for continued disappointment. I am not sure why you let yourself throw you into a state of being continually disappointed. When I catch myself setting me up for continued disappointments, I work on breaking that cycle because it does not serve me well.

        1. Mannequin*

          “ When I catch myself setting me up for continued disappointments, I work on breaking that cycle because it does not serve me well.”

          +100

      5. Self Employed Employee*

        I think rather than looking for a Christmas card from ‘below’ as appreciation for doing good management work, maybe it should be looking for appreciation and recognition from ‘above’.

      6. Jaybee*

        Why?

        Are you relatively new to being at the top of the heirarchy? Bosses get their employees Christmas cards sometimes; I’ve never seen it go the other way. That’s why I’m wondering if maybe you’re just used to receiving a card every year in a work context (maybe from your own prior bosses) and are having some feelings about not getting one now?

        It’s not because your employees don’t appreciate you, it’s just very weird for a team to get their boss a Christmas card. The social dynamics of that would be strange. They probably assumed it would make you uncomfortable, as it would for most bosses.

  6. Observer*

    #3 – If the shop’s safety practices are so bad that it would be shut down just from your partner’s report, then the place is so dangerous that no one should be working there. Because it’s not THAT easy to get a place shut down. Which means that either what you partner would be reporting is really, really egregious or there is an ongoing pattern of lack of safety. In either case, that puts everyone who works there at risk.

    Also, in many cases, motivation matters. In this case, I have to agree with Alison – this is a real safety issue and that needs to be reported, if if your partner does wind up getting some schadenfreude out of it.

    1. Fikly*

      Yeah, you know what’s more important than someone’s job? If they hand a loaded gun to someone and then get shot in the face.

      1. Wendy*

        Yep. This is one of these things where it all goes along fine until suddenly it goes very, very wrong – it’s not like “oh someone might slip on the wet floor if you keep forgetting the signs,” it’s “someone could get killed with zero warning.”

      2. Wintermute*

        It really depends on just what they’re dealing with. “relic and curio” covers both very modern-functioning weapons and quite antiquated ones. There are weapons that qualify as relics which are still in use with modern militaries! like the M1911 and the M2 machinegun (which is old enough to qualify but exempted as a machinegun).

        If they’re handling cap-and-ball revolvers it’s not as bad as it sounds, in fact US law does not even regulate those as firearms. Since their loading is so cumbersome and they require an outside percussion cap safe handling rules are rather different (no cap = safe even if it has a bullet and powder).

    2. CJ*

      The other thought for #3’s partner is the same one we tell nurses and teachers: “protect your license.” ATF tends to take a dim view on these sorts of transactions and has a very wide shovel to distribute…blame. If partner wants to keep their FFL, then they should definitely report the transaction. (There is a worst case scenario I won’t speak into existence.)

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Asking as I’m sure this will come up in other comments – but I was under the impression that it was a different license if you are dealing in antiques? Or does the FFL come in types like a drivers license is different based on the type of vehicle/driving you are doing?

        But agree with the rest, please report this place – the safety procedures sound so lax that an accident is probably more in the “when” not “if” category.

        1. Casper Lives*

          It’s unclear to me the store has a FFL. Antique guns are designs before 1898 and are exempted from needing a FFL. State laws can vary. However, if the store sold a firearm without a license, the ATF can (and should) charge them.

          1. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

            Typically, most pawnshops do not have an FFL, and the letters emphasis on the firearm being to new for them to sell suggests theirs did not either.

            1. Random Bystander*

              Unless they refuse to handle firearms at all, the pawnshop would have to have an FFL. It might not be particularly advertised, especially as it’s likely to be a very small part of the business, but it is still required in the US.

          2. B*

            Exactly. It sounds like the problem is that the store didn’t have an FFL at all, so for them to sell a modern firearm is a HUGE no-no.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Not checking the barrel is also key here –the reason for the 1898 cutoff is the changes in ammunition around that date. It’s hard to imagine an accidentally loaded blunderbus, for example. But by mid 1800s that’s getting into modern standard.

        3. Random Bystander*

          There is a type 3 FFL (collector of curios and relics).

          To be recognized as C&R items, firearms must fall within one of the following categories:
          –Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas of such firearms;
          –Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, state, or federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest; and
          –Any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact that they are novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event.

          I find the lack of safety procedures shocking, myself. I’ve never been shown a gun (when shopping) without the clerk first “showing clear” before letting me handle the firearm.

        4. Public Sector Manager*

          In 28 states, as long as it’s not part of a business or profit making enterprise, private parties can buy/sell a firearm without a FFL or a background check. If this was a one off non-antique sale by the owner, they don’t need a FFL. So for the OP’s issue, they can report it, but depending on the state, may not get the result they were looking for.

          In California, this transaction is illegal (but prior to 1991, would have been perfectly fine). In Idaho, it’s not a crime and not a violation of federal law as long as the owner doesn’t otherwise need a FFL for that transaction. State gun laws are inherently complicated and vary widely depending on the jurisdiction.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t see any basis to think this was a private transaction between two private parties. The letter says it took place in an antiques store that sometimes sells antique guns: “My partner works at an antique store and with their license they are allowed to sell guns that are older that a certain time period, but recently they sold a gun that was 50 years past the cut-off date.”

        5. Wintermute*

          It’s not an FFL you are correct it’s a Curio and Relic license.

          I actually have one myself, they function just like an FFL but are quite a bit cheaper and only cover antique firearms of specific kinds.

      2. B*

        Yup! This is NOT something anyone wants to **** around with. If the Feds find out the hard way, it can get super ugly.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      And even if they don’t do anything about it now, there’s a report on record, so the *next* time there’s a complaint or an incident, the powers that be know that it’s not a one-off mistake or single bad employee. For serious stuff like this, having a paper trail of complaints can be very important.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Agreed. The “everyone might lose their jobs” rationale does not hold much water. If someone gets killed everyone will lose their jobs anyway as the company gets sued/shutdown/etc. And how does one explain this to the surviving family members? “yeah we all knew there were problems but no one wanted to report it because we could lose our jobs.” So my (hypothetical) loved one was just collateral damage???? This conversation cannot possibly go well.

      1. B*

        Definitely. That whole line, “yeah we all knew there were problems but no one wanted to report it because we could lose our jobs,” seems to come up every single time there’s a massive disaster.

    5. EventPlannerGal*

      Right. I’m sort of shocked that there’s any hesitation here. This isn’t some petty workplace disagreement – someone could die, or be seriously injured. Hasn’t the whole Alec Baldwin film set shooting thing demonstrated how fast and horribly things can go wrong when guns aren’t being handled safely?

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        I agree. And as someone who has practiced criminal law, motivation matters less than whether this transaction occurred as described in violation of the law. If yes, the vendor should be reported to ATF (OP’s partner can call the local office and ask for the duty officer) ASAP.

        The only caveat here is if OP’s partner was involved in the transaction and, therefore, might be considered criminally liable as an actor or accessory. If so, it would be advisable for OP’s partner to consult an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer so that the lawyer can guide the reporting of the illegal transaction to ATF.

  7. Observer*

    #5 – Petty and small minded. Also, very short sighted. I have no doubt that others who are aware of how management handled it are thinking that your coworker made a good move. And I have no doubt that it will be on the side of “find a new job” for all of the best staff that the company would really like to keep.

    1. LMK*

      I agree. There’s no reason they couldn’t have given her the award, and thanked her for her work as they wished her well in her new job. That’s what decent people do, anyway.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Not for nothing, that quality of staff is usually the staff that wins awards. Great way to make your best staff assume — or, more accurately, realize — that they’ll get treated poorly when it’s time to decide on their next step.

      That doesn’t make them stay longer; it just makes them surprise you with short notice when they leave.

    3. PollyQ*

      And thin-skinned and overly emotional about an employee doing nothing more than leaving, which is a totally normal thing to do. It would also absolutely torpedo any chance that the employee might ever come back.
      Bridges can be burned from both sides.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I never understood why some managers take it so much to heart when someone quits. I’ve left jobs that were fine, I just found something that suited me better. It wasn’t always, or even usually, because the manager was a horrible human and I thought that was the best way to stick it to them. I mean, one time it was, but usually it’s just because I’m not married to that job and they knew it wasn’t my career forever.

        1. anonymous73*

          Bad managers take it to heart. A good manager will want their employees to grow, learn and succeed, even if that means they have to go somewhere else for that to happen.

    4. Phil*

      When I resigned from my college retail gig to begin my career in my chosen field, a bonus that I was notified of getting suddenly got yanked on a technicality. This was straight after I offered to do extra (very early morning) hours helping to set up their newer larger store followed by a full-day shift at their open store. Needless to say I was annoyed, and spent my last few shifts watching TV shows on my portable DVD player. The only work I did was putting through sales, and answering customer questions if approached. If I lose my bonus, they lose manpower. Because the new store was opening, most employees were there setting up, and there was only ever one employee rostered at the other store. So there was no one to tell me off for it, and even if they did, what were they going to do, fire me?

      1. geek5508*

        when I gave notice at OldJob on the same day as the other high-earning tech, our business owner was going to yank both our upcoming bonuses. The company bookkeeper had to point out that, if the owner did so, she could count on never being able to hire decent techs again (ours is a very close-knit industry).

        People remember that stuff, and word gets out!

    5. ed123*

      For me it depends what the award is. If it’s a “risign star” or similar award then I understand not giving it. If it’s “most sales” or voted as “the best colleague” or something related to work for the past year then it’s a bit off.

      1. anonymous73*

        It shouldn’t matter. Employee was being rewarded for the work she had done in the past year, not the work she was expected to do moving forward.

        1. Lance*

          Really just this. And I wouldn’t doubt that at least some people knew or had ideas beforehand, only to notice this departing employee’s very distinctive exclusion from anything relating to the award.

          It’s not a good look.

    6. DP*

      Yep. I imagine her sitting in that ceremony, grinning and thinking “wow, thank you so much for confirming that I made the right decision by leaving.”

  8. NotEnoughFlair*

    Normally I’m 100% against anonymous correspondence, but in this case I think it may be a win/win solution for everyone involved. What are your thoughts on printing the Urban Dictionary or Wikipedia web page and highlighting the definition, then discreetly putting the printout into an interoffice mail envelope and slipping it under the boss’s door or sending it through interoffice mail? That way the big boss gets the message and can save face before humiliating themselves in front of multiple divisions, and no employee gets chewed out for bringing it to their attention.

    Or alternately, would it be appropriate to go to HR with printouts of emails related to the project and the definition of the printout and have them have “the talk” with management?

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, if there’s any interoffice mail at all that isn’t email, that might work.

      Sure, the name’s a bit off color, but as long as it’s only used in internal communications, I’m less sure that any action needs to be taken. It’s certainly not worth risking your job over with a director who doesn’t take feedback well. But if there’s any risk, no matter how small, of the project name leaking to clients or non-employee stakeholders, someone should say something, because it could hurt the company’s reputation otherwise.

    2. PollyQ*

      If you search wikipedia for pegging, you get this disambiguation page:

      Pegging may refer to:

      * Pegging (sexual practice)
      * Pegging (cribbage)
      * Pegging report, a manufacturing record
      * Tight rolled pants (pegged pants), in fashion
      * The act of setting a fixed exchange rate between two currencies
      * The act of demarcating a mining claim

      Based on discussion above, it sounds like they may be using an existing definition of the word, inits financial sense, in which case, maybe the answer is that the junior employees should grow up and quit sniggering

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I can see it now: the followup to this one is going to be that the manager doubled down on the use of pegging.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I swear I saw a recent advertisement for “pegged boyfriend” jeans and you have to hope they knew what they were doing there because the alternative…

  9. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    #3 – Even if it’s sour grapes – REPORT, REPORT, REPORT. There’s a reason why antique firearms get different treatment than modern ones, and 50 years is not a minor slip up – it’s an outright license violation.

    And if it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure that ATF has anonymous reporting procedures. But please report the bad sales – it could have been a one time mess up – but 50 years makes me think it’s not as innocent.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Yeah, one or two years off, oops, I did the math wrong or dated the gun wrong. it happens.

      Fifty years is a direct violation of the license. So what if revenge is the motive, they still screwed up.

    2. Public Sector Manager*

      Actually no. In many states you can do a private party sale without a license. In California, this practice was entirely legal up until 1991. If it’s a one-off sale, you don’t need a FFL for the transaction.

      Should it be reported? Yes. Will they get the satisfaction they are looking for? Nope.

  10. AlexG*

    #5
    First time ever disagreeing with Alison!
    At my company, bonuses are announced in Dec and paid out in Feb. If you resign in Jan, you lose. Most companies in the industry do it this way.
    This award is no different.
    So the #2 person gets the award. How is that bad? A very hard working high performing person who is staying gets the $$.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I get the point about needing to stay until February to get the bonus. But the award and the bonus are to reward people for work well done, not retainers paid to get them to stay longer. I bet that in your industry lots of people change jobs in March and April.

    2. LMK*

      I respectfully disagree. A bonus is not the same as an award. If the award was given for the best work in that department that year, and she was still working there when the award was given out, then your comparison doesn’t apply. If the award was given after she had already gone, then you might have a point.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes – she was still an employee when the award was given, but had given notice. That makes it seem punitive. If she had already left for a new job, it would make sense to give it to a current employee.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Agreed, if the award is for work done in the previous year, the quality of the work is still award-worthy even if the employee is leaving.
        I think it’s a different situation with bonuses, and in the case of policies where you still have to be employed by X month or forfeit the bonus, most people would probably try to time their departure accordingly.

      3. londonedit*

        Definitely. Where I work bonuses are clearly defined – they’re linked to company performance, given at a specific time of year, and there are clear rules about how you must have worked for the company for a certain length of time (anything less than the full year means you get a pro-rated bonus amount) and you must still be employed and not within your notice period when the bonuses are paid (so if the bonus amount is announced in January and paid with the March salaries, you won’t get it if you’re leaving on April 1st, for example). That’s pretty normal, I think. But an award is different, and I think it does look like sour grapes to take it away from someone who’s leaving – a classy company would have said ‘Congratulations to Amelia on her Rising Star award for 2021 – in fact she’s such a star that she’s been snapped up by Teapots International, and we’re all incredibly sad to see her go and wish her all the best’.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Arguably, that’s illegal and a theft from the employee. If the employee earned the bonus and was there until the end of the year, they should get the bonus, even if they leave before the payout time happens.

      As for the OP#5’s letter – it’s better to be gracious. Yes, the award winner is leaving, but taking back the award only says bad things about the company. The best thing the company can do is to wish the employee well and focus on making themselves a place that people want to stay at. They might want to see if they can do anything to convince the employee to stay, as well – this would be a time when it might be a good idea (from the company’s perspective, at least) to make a meaningful counter-offer.

      1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        It’s not illegal and pretty common to have bonus structures like that. I know as part of my employment that I will be eligible for a bonus annually based on this list of factors, and that the bonus will not be paid out until January. I don’t get my bonus if I am not an employee then. Just like if I left in June I wouldn’t get a 6 month bonus the following year.

        Super common. Spelled out in compensation plans.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I’m not aware of any laws around bonus pay, the whole point is it’s discretionary. Unless the bonus structure is written into a contract.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d argue bonuses and awards are different! It’s really typical for bonuses not to be paid out if someone leaves before they happen, but bonuses are retention strategies. Awards may have a component of that but (especially if they don’t come with money) they’re really more of what I wrote in the answer — a way to recognize outstanding work and to incentivize the sort of behavior you want to see more of among your staff.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Hmmmm I would think it would be exactly the opposite. Do you really want your award winners to no longer be at the company? (i.e. someone says “who won that award last year” and the person is gone). If you pay a bonus, noone really knows or cares about it, but if the award is an annual award it seems really weird that you would want the names of the winners to be former employees.

        1. ceiswyn*

          And how are you going to prevent that? An employee could leave at any time before the next award. Individual employees are temporary like that.

          But people knowing that an award doesn’t actually recognise the best performer, and so there’s no point working their tail end off because management might just choose not to recognise them anyway – that lives on.

        2. pancakes*

          Why would anyone be assessing a list of award winners that way? I don’t see why it would be at all weird for some of the previous winners to have moved on even in the unlikely event someone would want to check for that. Most people don’t stay at one job for life.

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          The employee wasn’t a “former employee” when the award was given. And people are always going to leave, so there are always going to be award winners who are former employees.

        4. Workerbee*

          I won multiple awards at a company and still was in the round of cuts, so…at some point, everyone who wins those (largely useless) awards isn’t going to be with the same company, be it voluntary or not.

      2. Cascadia*

        My husband got an award at work, along with his bonus. It comes with a nice monetary payout, but it is not paid out for 3 years, so it is basically 100% a retention strategy.

    5. Fikly*

      “I have to deal with a terrible practice, therefore everyone should” has always been an inherently flawed argument.

    6. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      It seems to me that it depends on what the bonus or award is being given for. If either is for work already done, then they should be given. If the work hasn’t been completed or the deal hasn’t been finalized (like landing a lucrative contract that isn’t signed until the next fiscal year)then there may be grounds to hold off on giving them.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Okay. But you know that upfront. You know you have to do X to get Y bonus. If someone quits in Jan. they knew before they handed in their resignation that they lost their bonus.

      This was a case of “here’s an award for you” with no mention of a claw back. She’s already done the work, the company has benefited from her good work. She gave notice and like a pouty child the company wanted the award back. Maybe she should undo all her good work that so benefited the company? No. Wait. She can’t undo putting forth her best effort. But employees who witness this claw back can make note and put the word on the grapevine that this is how the company treats people. The company could notice a change in quality of candidates and they could also notice some employees suddenly leaving the company.

      I do know for a fact stories like this claw back here will live on and on for a very long time in the employee gossip stories. The company will have no way to measure the damage done.

    8. Purple Cat*

      My company handles bonuses completely opposite of this. As long as you worked through the end of the year, you get your bonus. Even if you leave before the bonuses are actually paid out – March.

      Our awards are given out mid-December and nobody is notified in advance if they’re winning or not. It would be super-petty to pull back the award though because it’s in recognition of achievements that year – not a retention bonus for staying in the future.

    9. anonymous73*

      And I bet a lot of people resign in March. I get that if you leave before bonuses are paid out, then you shouldn’t get one – IME they’re not always paid out at the end of the year. But any company that announces bonuses in December, but forces you to stay for 2 more months to receive it, quite frankly sucks. People should stay because they enjoy their job, not because their bonus is being dangled in front of their face as a reward.

      1. EPLawyer*

        THIS. Your bonus is based on the work you did that year. WHY should you wait for it? Other than to get a couple more months out of you? If you earned the bonus, you earned the bonus. PERIOD. Playing games with it is just a power play by petty dictators.

    10. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Awards and bonuses are two different things. At least in large companies.

      Awards are typically given much ‘after the fact’ for work that was previously done. They’re a fixed rate reward for past work that was considered “outstanding,” paid once (and usually to one person or one team).
      Because it’s past work or deed accomplished, people ought to get the award whether leaving or not.

      Bonuses are variable and given for work in a specific fiscal year and tied to revenue in that fiscal year only.
      My company pays out bonuses 2x per fiscal year based on meeting certain revenue numbers. The first one is smaller because it’s based on a projection, and the second one may be larger or smaller based on final tabulations after the FY closes. We’re notified about 60 prior to the payout how much it is, pre-tax (bonus is also taxed at a higher rate than pay). If you leave before a payout, then you do not get the payout.

      Of course smaller companies may not tie their bonuses to their sales and revenue, which to me is essentially then a GIFT from the owner, and not a bonus (such as giving employees $1,000 for Xmas).
      Probably said GIFT is also not taxable if paid in cash and not paid via payroll?

      1. Claudia*

        Yes…you are so correct! That 1K was a gift from me. The staff knows we are super slow this time of year.

    11. fhqwhgads*

      But it sounded like the employee was still there at the time the award would be given – in your example, she was there in Feb. It was during her notice period, but she was still there.

  11. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    #3 – Please Report. Being off by 50 years on the age of the gun is not a minor mistake – that’s a violation of the license.

    Also, not checking to see if antiques are unloaded before storing and showing to customers – that’s an accident waiting to happen. They are antique weapons – but still deadly. In my area a WW I combat rifle is considered an antique (it is 101 years old to be considered an antique firearm in my region), and those were definitely deadly both then and now.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      And I didn’t mean to post twice – the first one seemed to be swallowed up so I reposted.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      Not just an accident waiting to happen, but gross negligence and stupidity. I’m not even a gun person, but I have watched enough cop shows to know that the first thing you do with a gun you are not planning to use to kill someone is to check to make sure it’s not loaded.

      1. JustaTech*

        This was a thing that came up several times on the show Pawn Stars (History channel) when they did stuff with antique guns. They always checked (safely!) to see if it was loaded before doing anything else.
        I’m pretty sure I remember one time when the barrel was blocked and there was a lot of stuff about getting the gunsmith out to make it safe before they did anything else with it.

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        Nobody who doesn’t have a deeply ingrained habit of checking the chamber every single time they handle a gun, should be handling them. If you only know one thing about handling guns, it should be that.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I have a slight phobia of guns, and I know to check if it’s loaded. And if I don’t know how to check if it’s loaded, I shouldn’t be handling it. It’s the same principle as not pointing a gun, even a gun you know is unloaded with the safety on, at someone you don’t 100% intend to kill.

    3. Generic Name*

      Yup. My husband inherited an antique pistol from his dad. The kind that is loaded with a ball and black powder. He made sure that all the chambers were empty before putting it in the car to bring home, and even thought it’s a PROCESS to load the thing, it’s stored in a locked safe.

  12. Peanut Butter Snob*

    Recently, at my job one of the supervisors read a book on customer service strategies that the author referred to as “Secret Sauce.” She even had company branded departmental tshirts made talking about the Secret Sauce and expected everyone to wear them on the same day. As someone who works with no one else in my department, I refused to wear it. When questioned my supervisor told me flat out “well, no one else had an issue with it.” My particular location works with mainly men who have to consistently be reminded of boundaries. I don’t want anyone coming up to me in the course of work saying “I’ll tell you about my secret sauce.” It seems so icky to refer to my customer service skills as secret sauce. I now have a nice quality T-shirt that I will not wear outside of my house.

    1. rubble*

      what’s the euphemism here? I’ve never heard this phrase be applied to anything other than food

    2. Eden*

      Well, I suppose one can use “secret sauce” to refer to certain fluids but really just because you can give it pretty much any name and people will get it. “Secret sauce” is not, in my experience, specifically known as a euphemism for anything sexual. If people at your work would use it that way, that sucks but is a them problem, the name is not really a problem in and of itself. Whereas “pegging” is not some off the cuff potential euphemism, it’s literally the most common name of a certain sex act.

      1. Myrin*

        Very well said!
        I have heard “secret sauce” used in the way PBS assumes her coworkers would use it, but I’ve also seen it describe secret family recipes as well as the literal English translation of several centuries-old sauces from all over the world.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same. It would not occur to me that “secret sauce” is provocative of NSFW because I’ve only heard it used in the context of an actual family/proprietary recipe or as a metaphor for someone’s personal way of doing something in a better or unique way.

        It also passes the google test – when I searched for it, I got pages of recipes for recipes of various sauces and condiments. Not even an Urban Dictionary link.

        1. pancakes*

          The search results you get in Google are personalized to some extent, not uniform for everyone.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Ha! Very true, I definitely search for recipes more than NSFW materials. :)

            I did run it in Duck Duck Go, which I thought was supposed to be less Big Brother-y, but that’s not at all clear from using google as a verb.

          2. Mannequin*

            I don’t cook and never search for recipes, but do search for a lot of memes, slang terms, and urban dictionary definitions. I don’t usually seat for porn per se, but I do search for things that could be considered sex or porn adjacentx

            Googling “secret sauce” still gave me nothing but recipes.
            Specifically searching Urban Dictionary?
            First result: referring fast food
            Second result: referring to business and special skills
            Third result: referring to food again
            Fourth result: HERE’S where we get the sexual meaning

            So even UB doesn’t consider it the primary slang meaning.

    3. Anononon*

      This reminds me of the photos that went around of the street team promoters for Dr. Pepper, where their tshirts said “I [heart] DP”….

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      This reminds me of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (yep MILF as acronym). Every time I see it mentioned in articles that MILF lost/gained territory the 12 year old in me pictures the X-rated version before switching to terrorist organization

  13. Casper Lives*

    #3 I don’t consider it bad when an employee reports safety or labor law violations. Sure, it usually happens on the employee’s way out and could be sour grapes for being fired. But the company is either putting employees/customers at risk, committing wage theft, etc. Reporting can help the employees stuck there.

    On another note. Morally I’d have to say something about the unchecked antique guns. I might not be legally responsible. But I’d feel morally responsible if someone shot themselves and I could’ve said something!

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      It’s perfectly legitimate to want to leave a place with dubious business practices, last straw etc, and also if you’re reporting a company and it’s likely going to go bankrupt because of you reporting it, it really doesn’t make sense to stay. If you stay on and somehow the boss finds out it was you who reported them, you’ll probably get fired, so again, it makes sense to get out quick.

  14. rubble*

    Alison, would your advice change if the employee’s notice period ran out just before the handing out of the award, like a day or two?

    1. MCMonkeybean*

      I wondered that as well. To me that seems like a reasonable divide: if she’s here at the award ceremony they should give her the award and thank her for her work and wish her the best on her new adventure. If she’s already gone by then, it seems like it would be reasonable to choose someone else? They should definitely tell her that plan, but I feel like if I were in her shoes I would certainly not expect to receive if I were already gone.

      I’m also curious how much, if any, money is involved. I’m not sure how that would effect my thoughts. At my company awards like this come with a few hundred dollars I think–nice to have, but not likely an amount someone would specifically stick around to receive as they might with a bonus.

  15. Christmas850*

    #5 – The “second choice” person who ends up getting that award instead is going to feel pretty awkward…

  16. lasslisa*

    Huh, I just left a job I was doing well at and definitely would not have expected to receive any “up and coming star” type recognition even if it had been previously planned. Maybe “for excellent work leading the X project”, but if you’re going instead of sticking around to be part of the future of the org, I imagine they would want to keep their team’s attention focused on those who are staying and avoid the impression that the top performers are all leaving.

    1. Gingerbread Gnome*

      This might skew the company towards giving the award to someone else initially, but yanking it after the word is out and giving it to someone else does the opposite. Now the talk is about how the company changed it because employee X is leaving, not about the work done. It also diminishes employee Y who did get the award by being clear they were the second choice. Hopefully, it was a nice chunk of money so Y gets to at least spend it on something of their choice instead of just getting their photo in the company newsletter.

  17. Sam*

    #1: I’m from a country where it’s very common for people to have a summer cottage and to view spending time there as a bit of a hobby. My company chose to translate this as “cottaging.”

    1. Context*

      “Cottagers” is a common and familiar phrase to me in that context and I’m not aware of any other meaning (and I’m usually pretty au courant in that area) so your company might be fine there.

      1. londonedit*

        Certainly for those of us in the 40+ demographic in the UK, cottaging has a very definite sexual connotation that has nothing to do with going to stay at a summer house, so I think people would absolutely raise an eyebrow here if someone at work started talking about ‘cottaging’.

      2. UKDancer*

        Cottaging is definitely not fine in anything used in the UK or by most UK English speakers I’d have thought. It’s a term for when men meet up with other men in public toilets for a romantic encounter with a stranger and dates back to a time when there was more criminalisation of gay relationships so people didn’t have anywhere else to go or meet. Conveniences (especially in parks) used to look a bit like a cottage. I believe it was originally Polari but it’s become mainstream in the UK through things like “Round the Horne” and subsequent comedy shows so anyone over about 35 would probably know what it means.

        It’s less common now that homosexuality is legal and acceptable and people can use the internet to arrange their encounters in a more comfortable way. But if you referred to “going to a country cottage” as “cottaging” an awful lot of English people would burst into laughter. I know I certainly would.

        1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

          Well, that’s a thing I learned today, thank you! I have never heard that phrase before, but it definitely does sound like a more region-specific term.

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            George Michael’s song Fast Love is about this.

            Certainly would cause raised eyebrows and confusion if this term is used for holidaying in cottage

            1. londonedit*

              It’s ‘Outside’, but yes – the video even features sparkly urinals and camp policemen. He released it after he was arrested for ‘performing a lewd act’ with a police officer in a toilet in LA.

      3. Bagpuss*

        ‘Cottagers’ is very different to ‘cottaging’

        Cottagers might sound a bit old fashioned but in context probably wouldn’t raise many eyebrows. Cottaging, on the other hand…

        (I also think that while cottaging is less common for the reasons UK dancer has explained, it’s sufficiently well known that even younger people would be familiar with the term, although these days I think it tends to be a bit like dogging in that it’s people who get a kick out of being in a (semi) public place, who may engage in the practice, rather than it being one of the very few options available to gay men)

        1. londonedit*

          I agree that ‘Oh, Dave’s a cottager’ might raise less of an eyebrow than ‘I’m going cottaging this weekend’, but I still think it’d raise an eyebrow!

    2. allathian*

      You’re not from Finland, are you? It sounds like a direct translation of the Finnish equivalent (“mökkeily”).

  18. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP1: hoo boy.

    I actually can’t use the word here because it is phenomenally offensive (well, here in the UK anyhow – it’s a very ableist slur and please no guesses) but a while ago a former project manager decided to name their new software project a mash of two words that he thought would identify the program well. Which ended up as that word.

    He wouldn’t listen to feedback (given a lot was from us in tech support he thought it was just ‘young geeks not knowing the real world’) and we kinda quietly backed off. Like how you’d slow your car down to a stop when you see a cliff face start to slide ahead.

    No jokes. No ideas of getting things printed. This was big trouble incoming and we knew it.

    Project manager gave a presentation to the client and was practically shouted out of the room. It only takes one client, one higher up, one customer to start the rockslide. We were all very careful to be far away.

    1. Rainy Day*

      As I’m also in the UK, I’m pretty sure I know which word you mean and OOF, no wonder he was shouted out the room. Very much a case of “don’t say we didn’t warn you!”. You did your best, some people just *do not* want to listen to being told they’re wrong.

    2. AJHall*

      I know you said no guesses, but (also in the UK) it’s worth noting that if it is what I suppose, a lot of people in the US (and hence many of the people in this comment section) don’t seem to be aware that it’s even a slur at all, let alone the sheer strength of its offensiveness level (for reference, if the “C” word is a ten, I’d put it at eleven in terms of its unacceptability in the UK workplace.)

      1. Observer*

        I can imagine that someone not from the UK would not realize that it’s a problem, and that could even include this project manager. BUT. When several people tell you “Hey, this has a REALLY bad other meaning”, you don’t brush them off. At minimum, check with someone else – someone who IS actually conversant with common idiomatic usage.

        1. londonedit*

          Absolutely. No one would expect people in the US to start looking askance at the word ‘fanny’ just because people in the UK think it’s hilarious. It has a different meaning in the US and that’s perfectly fine. But if you then move to the UK and you abbreviate something at work as ‘FANNY’ and everyone falls about laughing every time you mention it, then yeah, you’re going to need to change that acronym because at best it’s going to be a huge distraction and at worst it’s going to make you look really unprofessional in the context you’re currently working in.

  19. ResuMAYDAY*

    #2: Respectfully, you’re thinking like an employee, not a boss. I’m glad you wrote in to find out you erred and can stop being angry or annoyed with your team who did nothing wrong.

  20. Justin*

    We designed a course for the Department of Taxation and Finance. Our bosses definitely didn’t think about the acronym but we also had no choice so that was fun.

    1. Valuable insights*

      A former employer of mine came up with a new set of corporate values that employees should be guided by: Closer, Braver, Faster. The good thing was that in all official internal comms it was always stated in full, never abbreviated.
      Employees, on the other hand, would refer to “feeling the values today” as an indicator of low motivation (Can’t Be F’ed).

      1. AJHall*

        A previous firm decided it would be more suitable to rebrand the department which specialised in property foreclosures on behalf of banks to something more upbeat. So they went for Lender Services Department.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Some years ago, one of the options available to courts sentencing people for relatively minor offences was to impose a Community Rehabilitation And Punishment order.(The sort of thing that used to be known as a probation order, and would involve things such as unpaid work, requirements to participate in drug or alcohol testing, curfews etc) I believe that the magistrates were always very careful not to refer to it by the obvious acronym but (unsurprisingly) those sentenced to this type of order would use the acronym…

      (I believe that they were fairly quickly phased out and now there are Community Rehabilitation orders and Community Punishment Orders, although people can be given both at once they are referred to as separate orders, so someone would be give a CRO and a CPO)

      1. A pharmer*

        I work at a hospital.

        When patients go for a procedure, it’s common to see an order that on return, “immediately replace PIV”.

        Every time, I giggle…

    3. Storm in a teacup*

      We have regular BU (business unit) meetings and everyone is very careful to call them that and not BUMs

    4. anonymous73*

      That made me giggle. But my mind generally goes to the gutter. The difference is that I can refrain from acting like a 12 year old boy in mixed company at work. I feel like you can make pretty much anything dirty nowadays, so you can’t really win.

      1. ceiswyn*

        The Greek comedy Lysistrata is here to tell you you could make pretty much anything dirty throughout the entirety of human history :)

    5. kristinyc*

      A few years ago, our office, the corporate HQ of a large nonprofit was going through a remodel. The street address of the office was 420. The person running comms for the remodel used things like “420 Update” and “420 Fun!” as subject lines in emails about it, and during all staff presentations. For some reason, she didn’t know that it was a drug reference (and she’s… Gen X.). When I asked her why she was calling it that, she went to a big long explanation about how we have other offices that didn’t like ours being called HQ, so they went with this. Uh, ok.

      1. londonedit*

        This is 100% not a thing in the UK (I only know about it because I’ve seen references on American websites etc – the date doesn’t work here, anyway, it’d be 20/04 in Britain) and I’m still not sure I really understand it. I’d absolutely be likely to label something ‘420’ and then be perplexed when people thought it was funny or inappropriate.

        1. doreen*

          It’s wasn’t originally supposed to be about the date 4/20 – I’ve seen different explanations, everything from “there are 420 chemicals in marijuana ” to a group of high school students that had a routine of getting together after school to smoke pot at 4:20 pm to that there is some criminal code somewhere where the section referring to marijuana is numbered “420” . The date thing is just an extension of whatever the original reason was.

        2. kristinyc*

          This office was in NYC, and it’s a pretty known reference in the US for most people I would think.

          I know there are a lot of words that are fine in the UK but not in the US (and vice versa). When I went to London, I was giggling over the “Tooting” tube station, meanwhile the US had a president named Trump. (But I was amused when I found out what “trump” is in the UK! Seemed appropriate.)

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            When my American relative came to visit and kept saying to her kids to make sure they’d wipes their fannies / her fanny pack – ‘my fanny pack is so full today’

            The looks we got on the tube. I was mortified – esp as London tube not really a place for loud conversations anyway!

        3. LavaLamp(she/her)*

          Essentially it’s an old slang term that meant you were off to smoke weed. It’s evolved now and the date is considered a marijuana holiday where people participate in civil disobedience and or have parties now that it’s legal in my state. People rent out parks and smoke weed and have snacks (can’t forget the snacks lol).

    6. Anon for this*

      My university calls a particular type of student record the “Compliance Report of Academic Progress” but abbreviates it CAPP. I see why they avoided the actual initials, but I’ve never understood where the second P comes from. (And it’s such an awful and clunky and badly designed record that its actual initialism should have been used in grounds of accuracy.)

    7. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      We had Safety Specialists here for a while until someone pointed out putting the initials on the high viz jackets was a really bad idea…

    8. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I mentioned the Moro Islamic Liberation Front earlier as my absolute favorite unintended X-rated acronym. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the imagery a freedom/terrorist (depending on perspective) movement was going for

    9. Acronym Buddy*

      A few years back, Canada’s two right-of-centre parties, Reform and Conservative, decided to merge. Their new name for a few hours was the the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party. For real. That’s not even a case of not knowing modern jargon. I’m not sure what that was.

    10. bookworm*

      This reminds me of an organization tangentially related to my field that happens to have the same acronym as a international fetish organization headquartered in my city (that I know of because my partner’s former coworkers at a gay bar would not stop talking about it). Both have annual conventions in our city, and I would have to try SO hard to keep a straight face (and banish unfortunate mental images) when people at work would chatter about being excited about their annual meeting. One time I overheard someone talking to a friend on the train about being hired as the photographer for one of the events and it took me a while to figure out which one she meant.

    11. Eden*

      My friends and I quite like a restaurant that has the same acronym and even though we are all fully grown adults we still get a kick out of using it in our group chat when we go. Harmless bit of fun when it’s an acronym, especially since in this case it’s an international chain from a country where English isn’t the main language.

  21. AJHall*

    #5 I recall something similar happening to a friend of mine many years ago and it turned into practically the first thing anyone ever mentioned about the law firm in question for years. It’s the sheer pettiness that made it memorable and got it into the “Oh, I wouldn’t apply there. You won’t believe how they treated Fergus” category.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      It would really leave a terrible taste in my mouth. It’s just a bad look for the company, and I’m not sure what the point in doing it is. Like, you’re gonna punish the worker thats already leaving? I don’t think that’s gonna make them change their mind about it or anything.

    2. anonymous73*

      Yup. If everyone didn’t already know what happened, I would make sure and tell them before I left. Like I said upthread, a good manager wants their employees to grow, learn and succeed, even if that means doing it somewhere else. Punishing an employee because they chose to leave is not the way to do business or retain good employees.

  22. Context*

    Most adults who aren’t snickering at double entendres aren’t unaware of them, they’ve just developed the skill of interpreting things based on context and also accept that sex is a normal part of life and doesn’t have to be titillating or humourous every time you encounter it. To give a mild example, I used to be on the board of a financial trust and we would call our post-meeting booze-ups “sip and pees” in homage to our yearly revision of the SIP&Ps, but we weren’t snickering at the meetings themselves. Sometimes things have a regular meaning and a ~*~dirty meaning ~*~ and grownups tailor their responses to the situation. I can tell you nobody who is the intended audience for a presentation on currency pegs is going to be shocked by this common financial term.

    1. After 33 years ...*

      In a similar vein, the process by which loops of a meandering stream are detached to form oxbow lakes is termed “necking”. Students may smile when they hear this for the first time, but they’re concentrating on the mechanics of the process as the discussion continues.
      In the Linnean system of species nomenclature, pine trees are within genus “Pinus”. To avoid derails, I pronounce that with a hard I (as “Py-nus”), although that’s not the correct Latin pronunciation.

    2. LizW*

      Thank you for this! Some of us are a mature bunch…
      As an aside, I once changed an internal product abbreviation from PNS to NSP because, well…

    3. Critical Roll*

      Based on the letter, it doesn’t seem like this is being directed at groups that are inured to the second meaning. If regular employees are getting a chuckle out of how clueless it’s coming across, upper management should reconsider. Because if the outside audience isn’t familiar with the term, it makes unnecessary awkwardness to put it in the name of whatever program this is. And it’s only human to have a reaction to a word you know only, or primarily, in a sex context suddenly appearing at work.

      1. Observer*

        If regular employees are getting a chuckle out of how clueless it’s coming across, upper management should reconsider

        The problem is that they are not just “getting a chuckle”. They are acting with a level of immaturity that makes me distrust their judgement on the matter.

      2. Context*

        I guess? I just don’t feel like something like this needs to be ~*~shocking~*~ or a big faux pas. Like do people not have funny work stories any more? This feels like the kind of thing you would tell as a humorous anecdote (“…but some of the junior staff didn’t have a finance background, so you can guess what THEY thought when they heard!”) instead of being a big deal to be discussed in hushed tones.

        1. Critical Roll*

          It’s a funny work story if the junior staff are snickering about it. It’s less funny if the program is presented with that title to its intended audience and they think the department/company is oblivious enough to put a not-exactly-obscure sex term in the program name for an audience that doesn’t have the business context yet. It’s not shocking, it just makes the department look clueless, which is usually something to avoid.

          1. Context*

            I just don’t agree. I’m finding it hard to imagine a scenario where my response to hearing a double entendre for the first time is anything more than “ohhhh…that’s funny that it has two meanings!” after the term is explained to me (which presumably it is in the presentation of the audience isn’t expected to know it?). I think it’s unnecessarily precious to have to avoid the usual technical term for what you’re doing because it happens to mean something else in another context.

            Like if I was in the well business, I would avoid saying “a bored well” for fear that people would think the well was finding its environment dull. If I didn’t think people would know the difference between a bored and dug well, I would explain it and trust them to pick out the meaning from context.

            I don’t mean to be a grump but this site is starting to feel increasingly pearl-clutchy to me about a lot of things. Ambiguity and nuance are OK. We can deal with them.

            1. Critical Roll*

              It’s not pearl-clutchy to acknowledge that it’s not putting your best foot forward to include a sexually loaded term in the NAME of a program if you’re not very sure your audience will already understand it as a bit of industry-specific jargon. Using 69 as a verb might be an innocent industry term somewhere, but that doesn’t make it a good idea to advertise your “Cross train in 69-ing!” program to people who don’t know about it. The program creators are going to look like they live under a rock and have no better informed people willing to tell them they’re making a misstep. It’s not fatal, but why wouldn’t they want to avoid it?

              I think you’re vastly overestimating how “shocked” people are when they say, lol, maybe not a good idea unless you’re confident of your audience. Personally, I’d say admonitions of pearl-clutching border on telling people they have an insufficient sense of humor or are being immature, when they’ve brought up a reasonable point that companies usually like to consider how things like program names will be perceived.

    4. Observer*

      Most adults who aren’t snickering at double entendres aren’t unaware of them, they’ve just developed the skill of interpreting things based on context

      This. 1,000x this.

      I mean even if the primary usage was really risque and the manager made up the name, the reaction of staff would still be pretty ridiculous. Given the behavior of the staff, I have to wonder what the deal with the manager really is – Does he really react poorly to negative feedback, or does he not react in ways that these childish staff don’t like? If he really is reacting poorly is it because he’s reacting (poorly) to constant childishness, or does he have a childish staff because he’s a poor manager?

    5. Generic Name*

      I agree. At 42, I have developed a Face of Stone and am able to not react to most anything. The oldsters who are not reacting have likely developed the ability to Not React rather than being totally innocent of any sexual double meaning. I will also point out that a group of people openly sniggering and telling jokes about the “real” sexual meaning of a common business term may be considered a hostile work environment in terms of sexual harassment if it’s bad enough. So that’s yet another possible reason why the older people aren’t reacting; because it’s sexualizing the workplace, and they know that’s inappropriate.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      ” they’ve just developed the skill of interpreting things based on context”

      THANK YOU.

      The actual problem here is the boss does not take criticism well. When this happens people can look around for plausible other reasons to laugh at or mock the boss. So laughing at the double meaning here is more of a symptom rather than the actual problem.

      OP, I think go with Alison suggestion of letting the boss work through this on their own. The giggly ones can explain why they are giggly and the boss can go ahead and react poorly when they explain and your sis can have some popcorn and watch all this. Tell sis “not a hill to die on”. I see nothing wrong with letting people experience the results of their own poor choices, especially when they are known for digging their heels in.

      Someone mentioned shirts or other wearables with the words printed on it.
      I can tell a much tamer story. We had to wear baseball caps at one retail job I had. They had sports teams on the caps. I am not into sports and I have an XL head. I picked the cap that fit me, knowing full well what would happen next. One of the final straws that cured me on sports was seeing how nasty people get about defending their team or hating on another team. I want to distance myself from all that negativity. Sure, enough. Predictably, a customer came in and REAMED me because of the particular team’s logo that was on my cap. I am at WORK. I cannot do anything about the tirade.
      The next day, I informed the boss of what happened and let him know I would not be wearing the cap any more. I will not be treated in such a manner. I made sure the boss knew every f-bomb and other words used in the tirade.
      Unfortunately, for the most part we have a reactive society not a proactive. I saw this one coming and I just played it through. I reported the incident and said that I felt for my own safety I could not wear the cap any more.

  23. You’re Terrible, Muriel*

    I do volunteer work and removing someone’s Probationary status in that work is known as DPing them… which I hate having to say!

    I’ve had a giggle about it with other volunteers who understand the other meaning but it’s a) too ingrained in our process now and b) too awkward to bring up to those who don’t get it.

  24. SandrineSmiles - At work (France)*

    I just HAD to comment on #2 .

    I think there is something wrong with OP’s reasoning. It’s not even just about the distinction about holiday gift and holiday bonus: as a manager, gifts of any kind should flow down anyway, not up.

    So long as the employees work well and respect your workplace procedures, why would you want more?

    The fact that you gave a holiday bonus cements that answer for me.

    1. MissMeghan*

      I think it’s a matter of mental reframing. She feels unappreciated, but part of what the gifts and bonuses do is thank/acknowledge employees for a job well done throughout the year. Socially it’s easy to see that thanking someone for thanking you is silly. OP2 you should really think of this the same here. You aren’t exchanging gifts, you are expressing thanks and acknowledging their hard work.

    2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      My first reaction to that one was, “Do you even read AAM?” Because the “gifts should flow down” principle has been mentioned and emphasized so many times here.

  25. triplehiccup*

    #4 whew, that is TACKY! I would take any advice from this person with a grain of salt, in case the immaturity is pervasive.

    1. TextbookAquarian*

      OP here. Unfortunately, this coworker has been problematic from the day he started and this is just the latest in a long line of questionable situations. I have learned the hard way to disregard this person 99.9% of the time.

      1. EPLawyer*

        WHAT is going on that someone is gifting them $145? I mean that is A LOT. Maybe the people gifting are just a generous lot with plenty of disposable income. Maybe your co-worker really is just a lovely person who people love to unburden themselves to and he helps them out. Although people like that generally don’t brag about the gifts they get for doing it.

        OR

        Is he telling people their packages won’t ship unless they are nice to him? Or is he dropping hints for gifts with promises of preferred shipping (or even using his shipping privileges to help the others out?).

        Definitely worth raising with your manager. Like Alison said to clarify the gift policy. That way you are more curious than “Imma get this guy in trouble.”

        1. Allornone*

          I know, right? My gift to my significant other of 8 years wasn’t even that amount. Hell, he and I MET at work. He WAS my favorite co-worker. BY FAR. And I still wasn’t buying him $145 dollar gift cards.

          Either he is definitely using his shipping influence to curry favors/gifts (yikes!), or he’s making it up, buying the gifts himself, and pretending it came from others to make himself look good.

        2. TextbookAquarian*

          Thank you for confirming my suspicions. Not only did the amount raise a red flag, but the fact it’s to an eyeglasses website and the employee refers to him as “their favorite” in the personalized message. I will be taking Alison’s advice then. :)

          1. kristinyc*

            I worked at the company that gift card is probably from (based on the price amount). I actually set up their original e-gift card sending program. That’s how much sunglasses cost there. But they also had gift cards in different, lower amounts, so that was a choice.

            1. TextbookAquarian*

              Thank you for the insight and I agree. It is a very specific gift to be giving a fellow coworker. That’s why my concern was raised about it.

              1. kristinyc*

                And now that I think about it, knowing that company’s products… $145 would buy prescription sunglasses, or non prescription metal sunglasses. You can get acetate, non-Rx sunglasses there for $95. Since the card also mentioned readers, it would be assumed that they wouldn’t need prescription sunglasses, so they definitely went with the higher end option.

        3. Cat Tree*

          I actually wondered if he sent the gift to himself, like the protagonist of a rom com sending their own Valentines flowers at the beginning of the movie.

          1. Jaybee*

            Honestly, I was thinking the same thing, especially with him leaving it open on his computer and bragging about it…you’d think if he was extorting gifts out of coworkers, he’d realize it’s in his best interests to keep that quiet? But people do come in all flavors, so maybe not.

    2. Rey*

      This is such a weirdly specific gift that it makes me think he’s staging the whole thing. Even if I HAD to spend that exact amount on my favorite coworker, I would never think eyeglasses.

      1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

        I kinda wonder did the person who gifted the card do something to the coworkers sunglasses and they felt bad so they gave him this really expensive gift card?

        1. TextbookAquarian*

          I have never seen the coworker bring a pair of sunglasses into the office. The personal effects he carries are limited to a cell phone, earbuds and a sweatshirt/coat during winter. However, he does keep reading glasses at his desk. He told me they were a cheap pair, but if he had to get prescription readers during the past year he wouldn’t say anything about it.

  26. Oh Snap!*

    I agree that I think Allison is wrong.

    It’s one thing if everyone knows when is getting the award. If it is a quantitative award: most sales or biggest cost savings. Or word has already leaked.

    But if the award is qualitative and word hasn’t leaked, I wouldn’t give it to a departing employee. I’d want to recognize someone who is staying. Because the purpose, presumably, is to encourage retention and engagement.

    1. anonymous73*

      You’re rewarding someone for the work they’ve done in the past. Even if you recognize them as a rising star, you’re not rewarding them for the work you think they may do in the future. It’s petty and vindictive to punish an employee for moving on.

    2. ceiswyn*

      But it’s not just to encourage that one employee’s retention and engagement. The idea is that employees are more likely to work hard and go above and beyond when they know that those things are appreciated.

      So if you actually show your remaining employees that their talent and hard work will be ignored if management feels like it, they may calibrate their retention and engagement accordingly.

    3. Irish girl*

      If you read the letter, the employee was already told about the award. Likely other people knew as well. Clearly LW knew about it. I think Alison is right and made a distinction upthread about awards vs bonuses. Awards being recognition and bonuses being retention and performance based.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Because the purpose, presumably, is to encourage retention and engagement.

      Or maybe the purpose is to reward good work.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Like encourage retention and engagement by rewarding good work?

        I left my last employer, in part, because, during covid and due to childcare issues, they did not reward or try to keep one of the best employees I have ever seen in my life (she made everyone around her better – it was something to see). They also did not reward me and did reward people who behaved badly and did not get the job done, but that is a whole nother letter.

    5. Observer*

      Because the purpose, presumably, is to encourage retention and engagement.

      And this kind of pettiness does the reverse. Because anyone seeing this is going to see this as the bosses being jerks.

      Beyond the general issue of good people not wanting to work for jerks, there is a specific problem here for the company. If you have someone who is thinking of leaving, you still want them to continue to do their best work as long they are in your employ. But a person who sees this is likely to mentally check out the minute they start seriously thinking of going elsewhere. Because they know how the company is going to treat them for “being disloyal”.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        That’s my take on it too. What will everybody else think when their employer goes “congratulations, Fergus, you are our top performer for Q4!.. wait, nope, you’re actually not, not after you’ve given your two-week notice, you disloyal traitor.” That would certainly make me want to look elsewhere, and not go the extra mile while working for this company.

  27. Foxgloves*

    #4 – Am I the only one thinking he’s bought these things himself and is displaying them to make it look like he’s more beloved than he really is…?

      1. River Song*

        My first thought was this employee is going through a difficult time and others were using the holidays as an easy excuse to help out. (“To fix your broken reading glasses”)

    1. Purple Cat*

      I had the same thought, but I thought the gift card displayed the sender’s name? Maybe it was just the “message” without the “from”?

    2. TextbookAquarian*

      OP here. I can confirm the sender’s name was listed on the expensive gift card and it is an employee that I’m familiar with. So, that isn’t the case.

      1. pancakes*

        Wouldn’t whoever is purchasing it be able to fill in any name they like, though? In my experience personalized gift messages are customizable. If you want to say “merry Christmas, from Santa Claus” or whatnot that’s fine, so long as your billing name and address are legit.

        1. TextbookAquarian*

          If that is the case and my coworker used another employee’s name for a sham gift card, seems to me that would escalate the situation to a whole new level. Which is even more disturbing to consider.

          I’ll be taking Alison’s advice and contacting management about the matter. :)

      2. Foxgloves*

        Ah, that solves that then! It’s so peculiar though. Definitely worth checking in with management, it seems really excessive to give a coworker a gift of that scale!

      3. Jaybee*

        You can enter whatever name you want there, if you weren’t aware. It’s not like it forces you to list the name associated with the payment information. So he could very well have sent it to himself and put in someone else’s name as the ‘sender’.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Yeah, I immediately thought of that scene in Clueless when Cher sent herself flowers.

  28. I should really pick a name*

    LW#2

    Perhaps it would help if you reframed this in your head.
    The Christmas bonus was a thank you. A thank you does not require a thank you card in return.

    1. Reba*

      I agree with this (although I wouldn’t even put it as “thanks” but stress that it’s compensation). But in any case, the reciprocity that OP2 seems to be seeking has already happened!

      The sequence is 1. Employees do great work. 2. OP2 gives bonuses in recognition of work. Cycle complete.

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      And would you expect staff to thank you for their regular compensation or give you a gift if you gave them a raise? The bonus is either a thank you or a part of normal compensation – neither requires a gift of thanks back to you.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is great framing. I don’t give my boss anything in return for my comp or bonus (and think it would make her uncomfortable if I did). The best “gift” I can give her is to do a good job and not create any catastrophes that she has to fix.

  29. ecnaseener*

    I know #2 is asking about holiday cards/gifts at the dinner itself, not thank-you notes, but it’s making me wonder whether you’re expected to send thank-you notes to your boss when they give you gifts (not bonuses). Especially if you can’t just thank them in person (hello WFH!) I haven’t done so because I was automatically thinking of it as a work gift and not applying my social rules, but now I wonder if that’s wrong…

    1. Green great dragon*

      No harm in a quick email/IM to say ‘got it, thank you’? But I don’t see the need for a physical card or anything.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, my boss tends to give us a bottle of fizz at Christmas (out of their own pocket) and while we were in the office I’d obviously say thank you in person when they handed out the bottles. Working from home it’s been a bit more like them saying ‘Just to let you know, there’s a delivery on its way for you – I’m sure you can work out what it is!’ and me saying ‘It’s arrived, thank you!’ but I definitely wouldn’t send a Christmas card or give any sort of present above and beyond that.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yeah, my director made everyone gifts (he likes to woodwork) and I sent him an email saying thank you. But I wasn’t going to mail him a letter or anything.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I was raised on thank you notes, so I do send at least a thank-you email to anyone (boss or otherwise) who gives me a gift. If it’s from the organization and something everyone got, I generally don’t; but, if my boss sends my family a holiday gift basket, I’ll take a minute to thank her.

    3. Jaybee*

      When I was on a larger team, I didn’t thank the boss individually for gifts. When I’ve been on smaller teams, I did. In-person usually; this year I sent my boss a thank-you email, even though we were both in the office, because he’s nervous around people and I knew he would prefer that vs me sticking my head in his office just to say thanks.

      It doesn’t have to be anything lengthy, just ‘got the (gift), love it, thanks! Here’s to another year of teamwork!’ Sort of thing.

  30. anonymous73*

    #2 – yes you’re being ridiculous. As Alison said, a bonus is not a “gift”, it’s part of job well done. And even if you had given them gifts, not only are you missing the point of gift giving, but they shouldn’t be buying you, their boss, a gift.

  31. Morning reader*

    Re LW1, I read Dan Savage as well as a few other advice columnists. (Although I don’t have sex myself; hey I read Alison and I don’t work either.) I was there when his commentariat came up with the term “pegging” for that particular act. There were a few other terms in the running. I don’t recall anyone mentioning that it has another meaning in Finance. I suspect there is very little overlap between Savage readers and accountants, or maybe the accountants didn’t see a need to speak up. Some people named Peg were opposed but they were outweighed by people named Jack and possibly every Tom, Dick and Harry. (Which used to be a euphemism for common male names.) anyway, that was maybe 10 years ago, so inspiring to see a new word take root. I bet Alison would also have that power to name things as needed.
    What do we need new words for here? Maybe the foolish expectation of a manager to receive gifts from her reports? How about … bossfolly?

  32. Meg*

    #1: I know anonymous notes are not usually the best way, but would it be possible for someone to leave a post-it on his desk (if working in person) explaining the term?

    1. ecnaseener*

      He sounds like the type who’d storm around demanding to know who sent it, and possibly take his ire out on everybody. Marginally safer for the note-leaver, but not a good outcome.

  33. Green great dragon*

    No-one has mentioned ‘Eat out to help out’, which was a big UK gvt scheme in autumn 2020 to support the restaurant industry. Whether a lot of people just didn’t want to be the one to speak up, or whether Alison’s comment about leaders not welcoming honest feedback is relevant I can’t say.

    1. TechWorker*

      …except people absolutely do also use ‘eat out’ to mean ‘eat out at a restaurant’. Hardly the worst thing in the world and if someone said ‘we can’t call it that because it’s sexual!!’ I’d be a bit bemused. Phrases can mean more than one thing!

      1. HelloHello*

        sure, but “eat out to help out” was… pretty widely mocked exactly because of the sexual connotations after it was debuted. (Which is rather relevant to the question here – you might not think the sexual meaning is the first thing that comes to mind, but what matters is if your audience will, and a sizable portion of the British public *did* think “eat out to help out” was snicker worthy.)

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          and really, order out or dine out would have required virtually no effot to change the initative to.

        2. Scarlet2*

          “you might not think the sexual meaning is the first thing that comes to mind, but what matters is if your audience will”

          This is key

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        Sure, but of all the expressions they could have picked… the jokes were instant and everywhere!

        1. TechWorker*

          I guess I disagree that’s even necessarily a bad thing! All publicity is good publicity and all that. It would be different if it were something offensive but I can imagine literally no one going ‘well that sounds rude so I now won’t use it’ when they would have done with a different name.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        “Eat out” meaning “eat at a restaurant” isn’t that common in the UK (or at least in my experience). The scheme was widely derided here, both for its stupid name and its misconceived idea.

        1. TechWorker*

          I am British and have never lived anywhere else, I have a different experience, think its quite a normal thing to say.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      To a lesser extent there’s a hairdresser down the road from me with the big sign of ‘come in and have it off!’ but in this case I think they’re aware…

  34. I should really pick a name*

    For #3, I was flip-flopping on whether they should report or not until I read this:
    “They frequently don’t even check the barrel to see if they’re empty before letting customers examine them.”

    That’s terrifying. A company that does this does not deserve to stay in business.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – that part had me wishing I knew so that I could report.
      For all we know potential customers have reported as witnesses of bad safety practices.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Even if the guns were appropriate antiques, this company does not need to be selling them!

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed – it sounds like they haven’t given any safety training to employees, and probably don’t have any idea what procedures should be in place to prevent tragedies.

        They sound like a “when there is an accident” not “if there is an accident” type of store.

      2. Wintermute*

        but appropriate antiques does change the procedure for safe handling and what you check before determining a weapon is safe. without knowing specifics here we don’t know much.

    3. Observer*

      That’s terrifying. A company that does this does not deserve to stay in business.

      Yes. And keep in mind that this means that they have guns in the place that may or may not be loaded, and no knows. Which means that it’s not just a matter of a klutzy customer accidentally shooting themselves or someone else.

      I realize that it’s possible to safely store loaded guns. But I don’t see any way to do that if you don’t even know which guns are loaded.

    4. Wintermute*

      This really depends on context. If it’s an antique store that’s actually correct for a cap-and-ball weapon… you check the nipple for a firing cap, and if there is none the weapon is considered safe even if loaded with ball and powder. The fact they mention “checking the barrel” not “chamber” or “cylinder” as you would for a semi-automatic or revolver tells me that this may well be the face.

  35. FinanceBro*

    This reminds me of when Ernst & Young changed it’s name from E&Y to just EY – unfortunately, EY! is a NSFW soft-core porn site, featuring young men. It still makes me laugh.

    1. Lady Danbury*

      I was at EY when this happened. My department laughed about it at the time, although obviously the departments involved in the rebrand had an entirely different reaction! Coincidentally, I was just discussing it with my bf earlier this week.

  36. Anon Today*

    Years ago, my office had a client that referred to one of their logos in a slightly risque way in their communications. As an unrelated example, imagine a company with an innocent, stylized bird in their logo—not a named mascot or anything—telling you to “make sure to put Mr. Pecker on the right of this piece” and things like that.

    I could never figure out whether the contact person there was super innocent about the double entendre or just messing with us.

  37. Meow*

    #4… Is it possible that he fabricated the gift card and is lying? The whole situation just seems so hammy to me.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      Yeah, it’s really weird. I don’t know why anyone would bother lying about that, but like… weird. I’ve never given anyone a large gift card and said “Ooohh, you’re my favoritest coworker ever ever!”

    2. TextbookAquarian*

      OP here. I saw the gift card and the sender’s name was listed. It is an employee that I’m familiar with. So, it does not appear to be fabricated then.

      Unfortunately, my coworker has been problematic since the day he started and this is just the latest in a long line of questionable situations involving him.

      1. Mockingjay*

        TextbookAquarian, sounds like you might have to pick your battles with this oaf. While gift giving between employees can be problematic, it’s usually not against the rules/company policy, unless there’s a power imbalance such as manager/report or team lead/team member.

        Whatever points you decide to raise with your manager, frame them to show the impact upon work. Yes, he’s an ass. But it’s usually more successful to address work and process than personality.

        (I feel for ya. I work with a couple of jerks like this. One of them finally left last month. Hallelujah!)

        1. TextbookAquarian*

          Thank you, and yes, I’ll be sticking to the facts when talking to management. :)

          I understand gift-giving among the office is not unusual. I have received a few small ones over the years from appreciative employees. Yet what raised a red flag about this particular gift card is the personal nature. Who gives $145 for new eyeglasses? As another commenter pointed out, that was a deliberate choice on the employee’s part. So, the company’s business standards might trump the gift-giving policy in this case because there is a question of intent.

          Oh my goodness, the stories I could tell about this guy. I’ve never worked with anyone so arrogant, controlling, manipulative and deceptive before. He has done a real number on the department. Unfortunately, he’s going to be around a few more years until retirement (unless karma catches up to him beforehand).

        2. TextbookAquarian*

          Thank you, and I’ll stick to the facts when talking to management. :)

          I understand gift-giving is not unusual itself. I’ve received a few small ones over the years from appreciative employees. Yet the personal nature of this gift card seems rather questionable. It’s possible that the company’s business standards may trump the gift policy then.

          Oh, the stories I could tell you about this guy. I’ve never met anyone quite like him before. He has done a real number on our department and no one likes having him around.

  38. Hiring Mgr*

    On #5, I would never pull the award for the reasons stated, but as an aside if it’s a really large company not that many people might even know or care about someone who’s been there less than a year not getting something.

  39. TechWorker*

    The fact that #1 is also a valid financial term really changes things here! The director may well be well aware of both meanings and if you gave feedback it would not reflect well on you…

  40. I watched Disney*

    #1 – Does anyone know when the term become more commonly used to mean the sex act? I remember Joe saying it on the Jonas show on Disney Channel, and Nick then quipping he didn’t think Joe was the type of person who’d say “peg.” At the time I thought the joke was “peg” was an old-fashioned word that only old people would use, but now I wonder if the writers were intentionally doing a double entendre.

    1. Reba*

      I believe it was a Dan Savage reader-sourced neologism, like wayyyy back in the early 2000s.

      I’ve never watched the Jonas show but can’t imagine a Disney show was playing on that meaning!

    2. *daha**

      I was a reader of the Dan Savage sex advice column, Savage Love, when Savage declaimed that the sex act required a name, and asked his readers for help naming it. I was reading it online, so that narrows it down a little. Similarly, Savage became upset with political stances taken by Senator Rick Santorum, and asked his readers to create a definition of “santorum” that would be picked up by google and reflect embarrassingly on the Senator. That one didn’t have staying power, but it was effective at the time.
      “Teabagging” was invented by film director and writer John Waters for use in his movie Pecker. Pecker is a fun coming-of-age comedy about a Baltimore teen being suddenly discovered and lauded by the New York City art world. It’s barely filthy and a lot of fun.

      1. pancakes*

        I saw that movie in a theater when it came out and am pretty sure John Waters didn’t invent that usage. I don’t know who did, but I’d say the movie popularized the phrase rather than created it. A lot of pre- and early-internet slang was not transcribed at the time the way it tends to be now.

        1. *daha**

          He claimed, contemporaneously, that it was a term and act he invented for the movie. I don’t know if he was telling the truth about that or not, but you’ll find lots of references to the claim if you search on John Waters Teabagging.

  41. Egmont Apostrophe*

    Re: soft pegging

    At one point when I was working for the Baby Bell Ameritech (at an ad agency), they came up with something called Ameritech Home/Office Link. So of course one day we got a memo about driving traffic to the AHOL, increasing penetration of the AHOL…

  42. Peaks*

    A counterpart kept lamenting she was her boss’s “fluffer,” intending to mean she had to emotionally bolster his ego when it was damaged professionally. On the 3rd use I had to inform her that she should use really any other term and alluded to its other meaning, which she was unfamiliar with. I was doing her a solid, even though she was horrified.

    1. Salad Daisy*

      There is a restaurant franchise called Tavern In The Square and for their logo, which they have emblazoned really big EVERYWHERE, they use the first letters of each of the four words. T I T S.

      That’s what she said!

  43. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I have had frequent professional dealings with the US law firm Morrison & Foerster, who in the early days of the www distinguished themselves from stuffier firms by using the first two letters of each partner rather than a great long url.

    Yep, I work with lawyers at mofo dot com. In their case it was absolutely definitely deliberate. I guess they’re memorable?

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I worked in legal for years, and no one even bats an eye at MoFo any more. It’s a deliberate branding choice, and they’re really leaned into it. I have a professional acquaintance who worked there for years and has some great firm-branded swag.

      1. londonedit*

        I imagine it’s a bit like French Connection, who some years ago had ‘FCUK’ as their logo which they then emblazoned on t-shirts etc. Teenagers thought it was cool and edgy but I think everyone else pretty much rolled their eyes.

        1. Wintermute*

          I did find it clever when a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream that took a modern approach for the costuming had Puck come out with a shirt that said PCUK on it though.

      2. Wintermute*

        I suppose they came off better than Powergen Italia, therapist finder, or Pen Island.

        My favorite is still former Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion (aka RIM) whose careers page was exactly what you hope it wasn’t.

  44. quill*

    Sorry but I’m going to be snickering about #1 for a while.

    If you lead by fear you look like a fool, I guess?

  45. Grow up!*

    Wow.

    Most Financial and MRP systems have a pegging tool. It’s a pretty standard industry term. It’s been that way for the past 25 years I’ve been working in Inventory Management.

    Please, mention the dual meaning to your boss and send a follow-up to this letter. In my entire career, no one has ever been so crass as to do something so unprofessional. I’d love to hear how that works out for you.

    1. londonedit*

      No need for the snark – it’s about context. I don’t work in finance and I’d never heard of pegging or soft pegging as a finance term. It’s not used in my industry, it’s not a thing people would be familiar with in a work context, and if someone suddenly started talking about soft pegging where I work, I expect the majority of people’s minds would immediately go to the rude connotation. Or at the very least think ‘oof, that sounds a bit rude’. ‘Soft play’ sounds a bit rude to me, for example, or at least makes me think of 1970s ‘soft porn’, so I do have a little giggle to myself whenever friends with children mention going to soft play (it’s actually a play centre with big foam things for the kids to climb all over). I’d probably have a similar reaction to ‘soft pegging’ even if I wasn’t sure what the term actually meant. Anyway, if people’s first reaction is likely to be ‘OMG that’s a sex thing’ or ‘Ha, sounds a bit rude’ then it’s going to undermine the project and the boss absolutely should think about changing the name, to avoid derailing and distractions at the very least.

    2. Anononon*

      “Most Financial and MRP systems have a pegging tool.”

      Clearly your rant is addressed to me because I literally lol’ed at that.

    3. Pikachu*

      I guess we all missed out on that lesson in our 25 years in inventory management because literally everyone has the same job in the same industry with the same vocabulary because everything is the same for everyone everywhere.

  46. Help!*

    For those of us at work who do not want to ask Mr Google questions to which the answers will be NSFW (and also those who don’t want to have to unsee a too-graphic definition): someone please go thru this thread and look thru the different words that have been mentioned and define them in a suitable fashion! (Alison did this for some post a while back, with the term circle jerk, and did it very well.)

    1. Generic Name*

      Honestly, I’m glad not to know. Apparently the alternate NSFW term originated on a blog about 10 years ago, whilst the financial term has been around for 25 years. I would be surprised if the NSFW term is the predominant definition in the English-speaking world. In my opinion, if OP, or anyone else, enlightens the boss, they will look like they don’t understand that sexualizing the workplace is inappropriate.

      1. Mannequin*

        The sexual meaning is 20 years old (originated in Dan Savages blog in 2001) and I’m 100% sure that WAAAAAY more people know that meaning in the English speaking world and *beyond* than know the financial meaning of the term. Or even remember that “pegging your pants” reeders to a trendy way of wearing them in the 80s.

  47. Savanna*

    For #4, is it at all possible that the coworker actually is lying, sent that gift card themselves, and left it open for the LW to see? I know it sounds ridiculous, but crazier things have happened.

    1. TextbookAquarian*

      OP here. I saw the gift card and the sender’s name was listed. It’s an employee that I’m familiar with. So, I don’t think it was fabricated. If that is the case though, and my coworker used another employee’s name on a sham gift card, seems like that would take the situation to a whole new level. Which is even more disturbing to consider.

  48. RagingADHD*

    LW#3, report.

    Please try your best to persuade him to report. This is how people get killed.

    The regulations are there for a reason, and all the safety laws in the world are useless if people flout them with impunity and nobody speaks up.

  49. I edit everything*

    I think a simple note for #1 saying “I assume you know the other meaning of ‘pegging,’ and have decided to use the term regardless. If you don’t, you might want to look it up and possibly reconsider.”

    That’s not criticism–it’s giving the boss the benefit of the doubt, but also giving him a heads up, just in case.

  50. Wisteria*

    OP #1:
    My company also has an initiative with that name, but not in finance, in quality. I had also only heard of the nsfw meaning of the term. My middle-aged colleagues and I laughed ourselves silly.

  51. LizM*

    We had posters made up for a safety initiative.

    Turns out, the wording we used for the type of accident was slang for hooking up in a certain culture. A manager from another office who is a member of that culture pulled me aside, and asked if I had anyone on my staff that identified that way, because she was curious if it was an accident or someone being cheeky.

    Just another reason to have diverse teams and cultivate environments where people feel open to speak up. We all have our own blind spots, and I’m glad the person who pointed it out to me was a friend and thought it was funny, and not an external client who got offended.

  52. Wintermute*

    I do think it’s important that the term in question was used in finance long before bedrooms and depending on your market the first thing that comes to customers’ minds may well be the currency definition not the untoward one.

    That said I’m reminded of Microsoft’s rollout of the new default screensaver for Windows XP– it would go through your picture files using Windows Explorer and pick random ones to display, changing the image every few minutes.

    This made it through many rounds of testing and implementation before a rollout… it lasted less than 12 hours before it was hastily and rapidly rolled back and consigned to the memory hole forever.

    It turns out no one wanted to have the conversation with Big Boss who made this a Very Important Project and a centerpiece of showing off how smart and connected and lifestyle-integrated their new OS was, that maybe people might have images stored deep in their file structure that they would not want displayed at full-screen resolution at random times.

    there were other issues too of course, the number of holiday snaps and other nice photos on your PC is vastly exceeded by the number of purely utilitarian images like desktop icons, parts of program UIs shaders and textures for games and so on, so quite often the random image would not be of your trip to Cancun but of a custom cursor arrow blown up to full-screen size, or part of a wall from a game you had installed or an ad your browser cached two months ago. But the main thing that killed it was the fact it probably accidentally scarred some poor kids for life.

  53. raincoaster*

    I just found out in nonprofits that deliver services to the needy there’s a term called “creaming,” which means only dealing with the best, low-maintenance candidates.

  54. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    #4 – report it because this employee handles confidential information AND is receiving an unusual amount of money from people whose confidential information he has access to. I can’t say that it’s blackmail; you can’t; however, your company can investigate and make that determination.