update: my coworker’s son is interning for us … and it’s not going well

Remember the letter-writer whose coworker’s son is interning for their office and it wasn’t going well? Here’s the update.

I’m happy to report that I took your advice and mostly left the situation alone. There was one situation in which I had to shut down Luke: He was complaining about a receptionist who doesn’t speak the language in our country perfectly and he said that’s “unacceptable” and “humiliating.” He showed me the email from her that caused the rant – and it was a MINOR grammatical mistake. Nothing anyone should be shamed for, especially if it’s not her mother tongue. So I told him he was being ridiculous. He seemed very surprised and tried to argue about it, but I shut it down (and was very proud of myself afterwards).

There was some confusion in the comments about my manager, so for clarification: She was aware that Luke is interning about our company, but as he was in completely different department, I don’t think she believed in her wildest dreams that this would have any impact on our department.

A few months after my letter, Luke left the company as planned, and I swear, there was a HUGE sigh of relief after he left. I was worried until his last day that someone (Dana) would try anything to have him stay, but nothing ever came out of it. The week before he left, I had lunch with another coworker who told me some wild stories about him which I think you might enjoy:

  • He showed up 1 hour late to a VERY important event – apparently, because he wanted to use Danas car and refused to take public transport (which is a very normal thing to do in my country/city). He never even apologized, even after his manager told him that this is unacceptable.
  • When he finally showed up to the event, instead of doing his duties and helping the other staff members setting up, he sat in swivel chair and turned around like a 5-year-old – even when his manager approached him and try to explain something to him. She had to say something like the effects of “Luke, please stop swiveling when I talk to you” which I think is very funny (but also sad).
  • The day before this event, our company announced how they would implement new Covid-rules which were introduced by the government. As soon as he heard, he called Dana and yelled at her that our company knew about his very important event and why they would announce rules that would make the event a little complicated (mind you, these were GOVERNMENT ISSUED rules that our company is legally required to implement them). The new rules said that people that are unvaccinated need a Covid-test before entering the office – he misread and thought everyone need a test, so after yelling at Dana, he called her again to tell her she needs to come up with a solution to find a last-minute test WHILE his manager was talking to him trying to figure out a solution. A coworker told me that words were exchanged: “Luke, please stop talking to your mom and start talking to me.”
  • He was tasked with requesting a service from an employee. He hasn’t heard back from him and his manager asked him to ask him again. Lukes answer: “That’s not necessary, my mom will talk to him about something else and she can ask him about our request, too”

Luke left the company a couple of weeks ago and I have to admit I enjoy being in the office more now that he’s gone. Sometimes Dana tells me about him, but now I can enjoy these stories as pure entertainment.

Thank you again!

{ 229 comments… read them below }

  1. supertoasty*

    Good to hear that Luke is now absolutely nobody’s problem except his own! Though I do feel minorly bad for whatever unsuspecting company takes him for his next internship or job…

      1. Heidi*

        Dana puzzles me more than Luke. Luke seems like he just never learned how to deal with stuff (like employment). Dana apparently behaves fine herself, but doesn’t even seem to have acknowledged how far from normal Luke’s behavior is.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          It could be denial. Dana knows, or at least knows deep down, that Luke is unprepared for adulthood, but doesn’t want to think of the implications.

          Or else she has a “boys will be boys” type mentality, especially if Luke is from a section of society inclined to be given leeway. Alison has posted enough stories about supposedly “adult” bosses or employees who act nuttier than squirrel poo, or just plain entitledly.

        2. generic_username*

          Without a doubt, she was a helicopter parent whose child was a misunderstood genius in school, lol. That sort of thing doesn’t often produce independent and successful adults

              1. Casper Lives*

                This is particularly funny to me because I was that kid. I wasn’t allowed to keep being disruptive! My mother parented me by explaining I can’t interrupt class and talk.

                For specifics. The kindergarten teacher taught letters but I already knew how to read. 5-6 year olds aren’t known for their attention spans at the best of times. Lucky me, my mother and lovely teacher were able to let me spend time in a first grade class and some other things.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  This was my spouse and is now my younger child. My spouse jokes that this is how he learned to entertain himself and get lots of reading time in; we’re working on the younger kid now. Sometimes, things are boring. You’re not going to be entertained every second of your life, but it doesn’t mean you get to be rude or disruptive, kiddo.

                2. Pants*

                  Same. My teachers gave me extra books to read because they saw I liked reading. Pretty much kept me quiet. As an adult, finally getting diagnosed with ADHD has made so many things in my childhood clearer. (ADHD wasn’t really a thing in the 80s.)

                3. ferrina*

                  Ditto! And I was that kid from Kindergarten up through grad school. Scored through the roof on every test and could pick up any concept, but very easily bored and sometimes very disruptive. And I was in trouble the whole time. My parents did not protect me from any of it- they were very clear that I needed to figure it out for myself, and that would never fly when I got out of school and into a real job.

                4. Rosie*

                  exactly same! it was actually much easier once i was in 1st-2nd grade because my teacher would just send me down to the grades below to help kids who are struggling and at that age a 7 year old is so big to a 5 year old

                5. Aitch Arr*

                  Are you me?

                  I ended up skipping kindergarten.

                  (took 5 years to graduate college, so it all evened out. LOL)

              2. Becky*

                I actually had a classmate in middle school who was genuinely like this–he could answer questions in class and would help walk classmates through things– all correctly! – but just wouldn’t do his own work. The only reason he passed 7th grade was an administrative pass (not sure if that is the correct term–he was moved up a grade on administration’s word, not on his grades). At 13 I was like “dude, what is wrong with you? you obviously know the stuff, you would make things a lot less complicated for yourself if you just did the work.” (I didn’t say any of this–I only had one class with the guy–just my thoughts.)

                As an adult I actually wonder if he had some sort of output learning disability. I had a friend later on in high school who had dysgraphia–he was my chem partner and could do Redox reactions in his head but physically could not write the answer out. Meanwhile it took me a page and a half to solve the equations.

                1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

                  As someone with significant executive function issues, it is much easier for me to pop up and solve others’ problems than it is to sit down and complete my own project start to finish

                2. Rosie*

                  that was me and surprise surprise i was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult but I was “too smart” apparently as a kid to have it *eyeroll* really glad the different ways ADHD presents is getting more recognition

                3. WallaceShawnsLisp*

                  Oh gosh, this was me. I barely ever showed up to class, but never got a grade lower than a B on a test. My mother is a real rule-follower and it killed her. My World History teacher called her once to tell her that I’d shown up in her classroom for an administrative period, first time she’d seen me in a week, and she overheard me talking about the unit- The Crusades- with my classmates. She said that it sounded like I’d given the lectures and if she were me she probably wouldn’t bother with class either. My parents never let me off the hook- there was lots of yelling and cajoling- but I just wasn’t motivated by grades and I wanted to learn the things I was interested in and that’s it. I did a stint in juvenile detention and had a baby very young, but now I’m a functioning member of society with a high income and great family life. Some people just have to carve their own weird paths, and while doing the busywork might appear “easier,” for some it isn’t. I feel bad for the headaches I gave my mother, but I don’t really regret always living life on my own terms. Learning everything the hard way is time consuming, but I think I’ve had more fun and adventure in my life than most.

                  Anyway. If you’re reading this and worried about your own weird kid, they’ll probably be okay, and maybe even better off than your easier ones.

            1. Stargazer*

              The newest one is “Kids who disobey are future leaders!”

              Always of boy children, and we’re talking disobedience like hitting classmates, doing ANY assignments, swearing at teachers, etc.

              Have to bite my tongue SO HARD to keep “Future jailbirds, you mean” from getting out.

              1. Heffalump*

                I’m reminded of the episode of Calvin & Hobbes where Calvin tells Susie Derkins he’s like Einstein–his bad grades are an index of intelligence, not stupidity. Susie says sarcastically, in effect, “Oh, so the problem is that you’re TOO smart.”

                Calvin says, “Believe it, lady–my grades are even worse [than Einstein’s].”

              2. Reluctant Mezzo*

                That so reminds me of a rant in the WSJ editorial section about some older guy ranting about how it’s evil to make boys sit down and learn things.

              3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                In light of politics in the past seven years, this is a perfectly rational thing to say.

          1. Momma Bear*

            This. I’d love to be a fly on the wall the first time he faces real repercussions for his actions.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          This is patriarchy in action. I work with kids and families, and I’ve seen this happen a lot, even from very young ages. In a lot of families, sons aren’t required to treat their moms respectfully, and yelling at your mom in public is just a thing that happens sometimes. It’s really sad.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            There’s a reason you don’t hear about “faildaughters.” (For many families, even after all these years, success for a daughter means Husband and Children.) Many families favor their sons, and even when blatant favoritism doesn’t occur, daughters are still held to higher standards of manners and achievement (though there are exceptions).

            1. quill*

              Being in the social circle of a school, Yeah. That happens quite a bit. Especially when the eldest is a daughter and the youngest is a son.

            2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              I learned about this. “Girls mature sooner than boys.”
              No, girls are told to sit down, be quiet, pay attention, follow the rules sooner than boys.
              Followed by, “instead of telling girls that “boys mature more slowly and therefore act like that” but you can’t, why aren’t we telling boys to behave like girls?”

              1. NNN222*

                You’ll also hear many people say that it’s easier to parent boys. Is it, or is it just that you actually parent girls and let boys get away with almost anything?

            3. Artemesia*

              It plays out in athletics in college as well. Women athletes in my experience were generally hard working and organized and did well; male athletes skate by, cheat, and don’t take their schoolwork seriously. (obviously there are exceptions — have had some excellent hard working students including one who went on to be a quarterback in the NFL — but there is a pattern)

              Guys just get cut a lot of slack and then as we have all seen often are able to step right into cushy jobs and promotions once employed.

            4. Medusa*

              Yeah, I’m from one of those cultures but was raised abroad. I always thought my parents were super sexist until I went back to our country as an adult and lived there for several years (without them around). Then I was like “holy sh*t, my parents are feminists.” The paid through the nose for their daughters’ education, have put no pressure on either of us to get married (although my sister is married), no pressure to have kids or cook. They certainly had some sexist beliefs, but after living in my country of origin, they seem like nothing at all.

            5. Crackerjack*

              I worry about this so much, as the mother of an elder daughter and a younger son. I’ll try to remember to ask in the weekend thread.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yes. I work with young parents and occasionally have breastfeeding mothers complaining that their baby bites while feeding. We explore why they are doing it and find ways to shut it down, but often when it’s a boy, the mother looks at me wide-eyed when I insist that she must make him stop asap and not be a martyr for the sake of breastfeeding. It’s very often the first time they have to say no to their baby, up to then it’s all be “feed on demand” and “he can’t wait” and “his needs have to be satisfied”. But I explain that the lesson is more than “don’t bite Mama”, it’s “respect women”. Yes, if you let your baby bite your breast, he won’t learn that he mustn’t hurt his mother, and other women. He can still learn later, but you might as well start as you mean to go on, and your breasts will thank you.

        4. PT*

          A second guess I’ve seen happen in families, is Dad is domineering/abusive to Mom and he has created a dynamic where Mom must treat the favored child/children with the same “reverence” (really: fear, submission) that she treats him.

          So for example when Luke asked his mother to do his work for him, if she had not, Luke would have gone home and said “Dad I got in trouble at work because Mom didn’t help me,” Abusive Dad would go off screaming at Dana for not helping, for risking Luke’s future, for getting Luke in trouble, what kind of terrible Mother ARE you do you not care about our son, how could you not do this one simple thing for him now he is in trouble at work, you need to fix this right now or else.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Huh, this sounds like the Dursley family when you look at it, with Petunia maybe directing the abuse she gets at Harry.

        5. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

          If you have a parent who always takes care of everything for you, who begs their employer to give you an internship, you will not learn how to deal with things like employment.

        6. Dhaskoi*

          Sometimes parents just don’t want to let their kids grow up. I know someone who works full time, is fully capable of running his own life (cooks, cleans, pays his taxes, etc) and never moved out of his parents place.

          He’s 39.

          From what I’ve seen his mother is perfectly happy with this arrangement and puts up just enough resistance every time he mentions moving out that he always gives up on the idea.

          (I don’t know if that’s what’s happening here, but it’s a possible explanation).

          1. marvin*

            My mother would love if I lived with her forever. I don’t think there is anything wrong with parents and adult children living together as long as it’s a mutually beneficial and respectful living arrangement, but sometimes you really do need to put in some hard boundaries with an overbearing parent.

          2. Anonymous4*

            I knew a fella who was doing it at 53+. He liked living at home. Mom did the cooking and cleaning and laundry and shopping, and all he had to do was show up and eat, sleep, and watch TV. Sure, he had a job — and it paid for his entertainment. (He had a lot of entertainment costs.)

            I don’t know if ole Mom was sick and tired of lugging a parasite through life, or if she enjoyed taking care of her darling baby son, or if she was resigned to picking up after him until the day she died, or what, but I knew him for the better part of a decade and nothing ever changed.

            1. GreyjoyGardens*

              It’s very possible, given the age of her son, she was one of those “old school” moms whose identity was “housewife and mother,” and, without it, she was adrift. So if one of her kids (or maybe her only child) stayed in the nest forever, Mom was still Mom and to some extent “housewife” so she felt validated.

              It is also possible she desperately hoped her baby bird would fly the nest but he never did, but Mom felt too guilty and/or ashamed to do much about it…and at least Sonny Boy HAD a job and wasn’t violent.

        7. Caroline Bowman*

          Oh that is the only bit that shocks me not one iota.

          I happen to be a mom to 3 boys, all kids still. I also have a brother much, much older than me from my dad’s first marriage (and a sister too – this is relevant, I swear). There is a certain type of parent, often a mother, but not always, who runs around with metaphorical fire extinguisher, cookies and milk, and completely enables their awful, spoilt grown children. Nothing they do wrong is ever their fault. They go mama bear at the slightest hint of trouble. They are My Precious Golden Boy in a way that daughters don’t tend to be.

          In my own family, I have watched a similar dynamic play out (unaffected for most of it, thankfully), and my own brother is now in his mid-50’s, a genuinely lovely, intelligent, funny person who has many sterling qualities, but ”employee” or ”taking personal responsibility and making good decisions in the working world” are not among them. He’s basically had everything laid out for him, with a silver spoon and now he’s essentially unable to make his own way in the world.

          I realise there are plenty of spoiled grown kids of both sexes, but this specific dynamic, of mom shoehorning her awful, feckless adult son into a job is a very familiar one. It’s one reason that whenever one of my kids does something wrong or is alleged to have misbehaved in some way, I don’t intervene 99% of the time. Yes I have their backs and if something deeply unfair was happening I’d get involved, but I accept my boys are flawed and need shaping and to experience the slings and arrows. My brother is a shining beacon as to why! This kid sounds like a glowing example too.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            Good for you. Not only future employers, but future partners, friends, and roommates will thank you for not snowplowing for your sons.

    1. FrenchCusser*

      I feel sorry for him, actually. It’s apparent he’s been infantilized and is totally unprepared for adulthood.

      1. supertoasty*

        I mean, I do too, but as the saying goes (I think? I remember seeing it on Reddit attributed to being Polish in origin), not my circus, not my monkeys. Sayonara, Luke.

      2. blackcat lady*

        I had the same reaction, Luke does sound like a man child. The original letter said his ‘achievements’ were other internships. I realize internships can vary, and good ones prepare you for the real working world by teaching you normal behavior and setting standards. But perhaps he is bouncing from place to place so he has somewhere to go each day and these internships have low expectations. Not swiveling in a chair is a pretty low bar unless you’re 5 years old. Am I the only one that thinks Dana is a helicopter/lawn mower parent?

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Also, how many internships is it normal for a person to do? I honestly don’t know what is the norm here, but it strikes me as odd to bounce from internship to internship.

          1. Golden*

            It might depend on the field. I did a lot of recruiting for my grad school (biomedical focus) and many of the applicants had 2-3 summer research internships on their resumes. It would be kind of odd to bounce from one to another though unless they’re labeling all short term positions as internships (maybe work/study, shadowing, summer work, etc.)

          2. OhNo*

            In many fields, it’s not unusual to have a couple. For example, I had three different ones (and an assistantship) while I was in grad school.

            There’s definitely an upper limit on what’s normal, though. One per year while in school would be pretty much the limit of what I’d expect to see for my field (library science). Maybe one more after graduating, depending on your specialty and the prestige of the org you’re interning for. Any more than that, and I’d honestly be wondering why they were just bouncing around internships instead of hunting for a more regular job.

          3. GreyjoyGardens*

            It seems to depend on the economy and the industry. There are certain *cough* “glamour” industries where sequential unpaid internships are common because they are so oversubscribed. And in the Great Recession era, I think a lot of people in otherwise plain vanilla industries bounced around doing whatever they could.

            But if you’re talking a non-glamour, not-oversubscribed field, I think one or two is more normal (one in college and one right afterwards would be an example) and then the transition to paid employment begins.

          4. quill*

            I mean, I only did one, but I was supposed to go into a STEM field that isn’t known for having a lot of them.

            (Maybe two if you count being a research assistant for a professor during college…)

          5. Clisby*

            I don’t know the norm, but my daughter had 3 (each over a summer) while she was in undergrad. So far she’s had 3 in her PhD program and is scheduled for another this summer.

          6. Llama Llama*

            Maybe an outlier but I am relatively young and finished school not long ago. I have done 5 internships in undergrad/grad/post grad. My undergrad required one but I did two because we had a January term that encouraged interning (this was 5-6 weeks off in December and January) so I did one for a summer and one during January. In grad school I did two, one that was working with a non-profit finishing my capstone project, and one that was a two day a week paid internship that lasted 10 months and really should have just been called a part time job. Finally, after grad school at the end of a certain recession I was working retail and trying to break into the field. I volunteered with a non-profit who offered me an independent project to work on and they called me an intern. I would have been fine with just being a volunteer. Anyway, interning with them lead to working for them part time, then full time, then promoted into middle management. So it all worked out. Five does seem like a lot but it really isn’t unheard of at all, especially when schools require them or they are paid like a job.

            1. Llama Llama*

              Also definitely more common in the non-profit world and for us millennials who were trying to break into the workforce during the recession. Internships can be really great for networking (and for the record, except during my short j-term internship I also had other jobs during this time so this isn’t a case of the privilege of having an internship, it’s literally what I had to do to graduate my programs and break into the field).

      3. JSPA*

        “infantilize” is appropriate when a person’s family prevents them from learning or from taking on duties.

        It sounds like in this case, they’re desperate to get him set up on his own two feet, and he’s refusing to (or is otherwise unable to) let go and launch.

        I mean, getting someone a job at your own workplace CAN be a way of keeping tabs on them and smothering them…but when the kid’s a train wreck, it can also be the only way (short of calling the police to evict them, I guess?) to get them out the door, and into a workplace…any workplace.

        If there is abuse of any sort, or psychologically problematic familial interaction, it remains an open question, at best, which of them is more the perpetrator, and which one, more the victim. Not knowing the ages, the abilities / disabilities, the backstory, etc. there’s really no one correct answer; they’re both (now) adults.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          It’s very possible that he’s been helicoptered and/or “snow plowed” for most of his life, and now Dana (and his dad?) are realizing that Luke can’t adult. So NOW, now that the horse has left the barn, she is trying to remedy the situation.

          It’s possible that none of this is the parents’ fault and Luke has issues that would crop up no matter how he was parented, but I have an inkling that Dana (and Dad) should have taken some kind of action 10 or so years ago. Now it’s too little too late.

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            This totally.

            Luke sounds like an objectively unpleasant person to be fair. My own brother, many years older, from dad’s first marriage, is an extremely likeable, well-loved, popular person in terms of his personality and ability to get along with people, but in all other respects, it’s same-same, and he’s in his 50’s now. He was shielded from every meaningful consequence, made excuses for, had his messes cleaned up and smoothed over, mostly by his mom (who I love and regard as family), but also by our dad to some extent.
            He’s been bankrupt twice, causing all kinds of very serious ripple effects for his employees, has never held a salaried job for more than about 6 months, and is generally woefully ill-equipped for Real World Work. It’s actually tragic.

        2. ArtK*

          The family may be desperate but they’re not doing the right things to make it happen. Every time Luke talked to Dana about something work-related, her response should be “talk to your manager.” The fact that she didn’t just continued the problem.

        3. Observer*

          It sounds like in this case, they’re desperate to get him set up on his own two feet,

          True. But it also sounds like they are unable or unwilling to do what it actually takes. I mean, he’s yelling at his mother over workplace policies that she has no power to change, and she doesn’t shut it down. He’s DELEGATING HIS WORK TO HER, and she apparently has not shut that down either! The whole list of ridiculous behavior that she’s enabling or taking part here is really problematic.

      4. Observer*

        I feel sorry for him, actually. It’s apparent he’s been infantilized and is totally unprepared for adulthood.

        True. But my sympathy is tempered by the fact that his behavior is obnoxious and he’s an adult who is being given some good instruction which he refuses to acknowledge.

        1. Anonymous4*

          With some people, I can be much more sympathetic at a distance. If the person were actually in my life, I’d be contemplating committing serious mayhem.

      5. Raffaelo*

        OPs situation reminds of when my mother was a language teacher. She had a particular student was deemed ‘bright/smart/gifted’ by his own parents, but was deemed obnoxious, disruptive and defiant by everyone else.
        By the time he had been my mothers student, he had already been taken out of several schools across the city.

        His parents had him later in life and claimed his behaviour had been due to ‘being on the spectrum ‘ however my mother believed it was a lack of discipline and the boys parents obsession of having a ‘special ‘ child that truly hindered this student.

        This particular students father was also notorious within the teaching community, having made teachers cry, and had also fallen out with other parents.
        This deluded father would also proclaim that the reason his son was linked with a series of Teaching assistants, school counsellors, psychologists, case workers, social workers etc was because his son was Special, Gifted and brilliant and that the rest of the students at the school weren’t as brilliant as his son.

        The boys parents just refused to believe that he could do wrong and were convinced that everyone else just didn’t understand him.

        The boys parents refusal to reign in on their sons behaviour early on in his childhood came to a head when he was finally expelled for making derogatory remarks at a group of school children from another ethnic group.

        As the boy entered his teen years, his mother finally broke down and begged my mother for help, as she realised she couldn’t be in denial anymore.
        His father eventually came around and tried to fix the damage before it was too late.

        My mother is no longer in contact with that student but hopes his parents finally saw the light and stepped in, because she knew that boy wouldn’t last in the real world if he kept up with his behaviour.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I suspect Dana begged for him to have an internship here because his behavior was no better at his previous internships. I doubt he’ll get a better recommendation this time either. Even if he is a technical genius, he needs to learn how to behave.

  2. Ann O'Nemity*

    “Luke, stop swiveling” is gold. With any luck it will turn into a company inside joke, to be reused whenever someone is goofing off or not paying attention.

    1. supertoasty*

      On the one hand, yeah super unprofessional to just be swiveling for an entire important event. On the other… the swivel chair temptations are strong.

      In short: I blame Thomas Jefferson for that one.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Eh, you can swivel-fidget without taking your eyes off the person who is talking. Sounds like he went all the way around, and even the child from The Exorcist wouldn’t be able to keep up with that one.

        1. generic_username*

          Lol, I legit thought you were saying it would be better if he swiveled while flipping his head around like a ballerina spotting a turn and got a good laugh out of how bizarre it would be to talk to someone who was doing that.

        2. Momma Bear*

          This is what I envisioned. I work with a lot of very capable adults who can’t help but swivel a little in meetings. Not all the way around, though.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I sometimes catch myself rocking side to side a little bit in meetings, but never a full 360!

          2. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

            I definitely catch myself on Teams calls swiveling back and forth. Not in a full circle though, and I am paying attention I swear!

        3. Ally McBeal*

          Just make sure you’re spotting, or you’re gonna make yourself sick.
          A former amateur ballet dancer

      2. Elenna*

        Yeah, I also love swiveling in swivel chairs… but I have the common sense to not do it a) at an important event, or b) while my manager is trying to talk to me!

        1. Catalin*

          OMG, the struggle is real for us. My feet almost never touch the floor unless I’m sitting on the edge of the chair.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            (Car0line Criado-Perez talks about this in her book “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.)

            (Knowing that it’s because of sexism doesn’t make me any less angry when my feet don’t touch the ground, though.)

            1. AFac*

              If only more tables were adjustable, I wouldn’t have to choose between not having my feet on the floor and not having my shoulders up near my ears as I type.

              And my mother wondered why I always did my homework on the floor.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                My desk at work is a built-in, made specifically for this room and also for a person much taller than me. When we added the sit/stand unit to the desktop it made my computer so high up even in the sitting position that the tallest footstool our vendors sell isn’t high enough.

              2. Becky*

                I wouldn’t have to choose between not having my feet on the floor and not having my shoulders up near my ears as I type.

                Being 4’11” tall, I feel this!
                In the office, I would always put my chair up as high as it could go and then set my feet on the battery backup pack beneath my desk as a foot rest. At home I use my exercise step as a foot rest.

              3. Anonymous4*

                Sometimes my agency does really good things. One of my coworkers has rather short legs, and her manager saw that she had some books piled up under her desk to rest her feet on, and told her for God’s sake order a footstool.

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          At old ExJob, this was why our ergonomic specialist got me a footstool (though I make do with thick books at home, since all the chairs are set for my husband’s height).

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        or “Luke, I’m NOT your father. So treat me with respect.”

    2. ArtK*

      “Please stop talking to your mother and talk to me” is good, too. It’s unfortunate that Dana didn’t enforce that.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I was going to say that this reminded me of the episode where Ron gets the round desk in the middle of the office and swivels away from the woman trying to talk to him!

    3. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      I read that and thought, “What a poorly behaved toddler!” But then again, one expects toddlers to do this because, well, they’re toddlers!

      Grown men, though? Sir, you need to cut it out.
      I’d cut leeway for someone with significant developmental delays, but Luke just sounds like an especially coddled manchild.

    4. marvin*

      I can’t pretend that I’ve never swivelled around in an office chair for fun, but it was when I was alone and had nothing to do so I stand by it.

  3. MB*

    The implications that this didn’t take place in the US are astounding because this dude sounds like the most American failson imaginable.

    Signed: a 35 year old American male

    1. Falcongirl*

      In some ways this is kind of heartening. I like the idea that there’s nothing uniquely American about failsons, that there’s a certain breed of parent in any country who will turn their progeny into insufferable mediocrities convinced of their own excellence.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        I think failsons exist wherever rampant gender and income/class inequality do. Not that lack of those means no failsons, but inequality exacerbates it. (One doesn’t hear very often of “faildaughters.”) It takes a certain level of money and social class to be a failson as opposed to a “bum.”

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Somehow I’ve made it to *today* without previously hearing “failson” and I am definitely nodding my head at the word.

          I’ve known a few. And you’re correct, there’s definitely money and social class involved.

          1. Safety First*

            Also a new term for me! One of the lucky 10,000, I guess. It seems very related to “affluenza”.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            Supposedly his mother’s favorite, natch! (Just from outside observation, being neither the heir nor the favorite seems to have done Anne a lot of good; not being pampered like a son might have also seems to have stiffened her spine.)

            1. Berkeleyfarm*

              I think Anne was her father’s favorite, but other points about not being spoiled in the same way and having clear lessons about work ethic are IMO valid.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Guarantee you they are a not a uniquely American phenomenon. Ask my friend who married a guy from Another Country who literally cannot do anything around the house or make a decision without his parents weighing in.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        . . . and then had it annulled when it became apparent that he’d married her to be his next mom, but without the influence of his actual mom.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          Good for her for seeing the truth and bailing early (and an annulment means basically a clean slate).

    3. CoveredinBees*

      As someone who has lived in other countries, I promise you there are entitled glassbowls everywhere. This guy sounds like a number of my classmates in some business classes I took in undergrad, not in the US.

      Interesting, as much as that country is often held up as progressive there was rampant sexism and the #metoo movement basically just hit there a few months ago. Usually, sexism was treated as funny and not just by entitled twerps.

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

      I’ve heard of at least one kid that lived such a sheltered and privileged life he didn’t know how to use public transport. Or cooking. Or even choosing his own clothes. He didn’t know how a train station looked like in his country. Apparently he was as delightful as Luke.

      1. A Penguin!*

        I actually don’t know how to use the bus system. Subway – no problem; busses – not a clue. I’m sure I could figure it out, but there hasn’t been a motivator for that.

        1. quill*

          I just wish that the correct info would be available anywhere except online as a grainy PDF that you absolutely cannot see on a phone screen.

          … my days of dealing with Chicago buses on a long weekend were more stressful than I will accept while on vacation.

          1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

            Ahaha yes. You literally have to grow up using the busses in Chicago to really get the science of it. The only reason I have an an amazing sense of time is because I grew up poor and didn’t have a car, so the busses were my escape hatch into the larger world. I had to know when and where all the time,and could basically go anywhere by myself by 10 — my mostly absent father would get SO MAD that I was allowed to basically do what I wanted in that regard, but if he’d been around, he’d have known that I was both well-trained in how to bus and extremely feisty when necessary (who is going to want to take the kid who screams, bites, and kicks, and is very, VERY rudely disobedient to random strangers attempting to touch and/or drag them anywhere? Trust me, as bad as that sounds, it saved me a LOT of trauma very early in life to be a feral cat, basically.).

            1. kicking_k*

              I can’t drive. It has many downsides, but it just now occurs to me that one upside is that I would never quail at using an unfamiliar city’s public transport system (although these days I would look up the relevant info ahead of travel). I’ve done it in multiple countries, including ones where I don’t speak the language.

              My country just decided to give all under-22s the right to free bus transport and I’m so pleased for my kids. They aren’t quite old enough to venture off solo, but when they do they’ll be able to get wherever they want to go.

          2. Lizzo*

            +1 to Chicago’s bus system being tricky. The maps at the bus shelters are…not really legible.
            Thank goodness for Google Maps and the ability to plan a trip before leaving the house.

      2. Artemesia*

        I had a colleague doing a social problems type course who had as an early assignment students taking public transport from the center of the city to a suburb where fast food, house cleaning and similar jobs were. Most of these very privileged kids had never used public transport and this was a big southern city where transport was not great and yet lots of job opportunities required it. Experiences like this added a lot of depth to discussions of ‘why don’t they just . . .’ that are so frequent in discussions of issues around welfare, child care, minimum wage employment, health care etc.

      3. Reluctant Mezzo*

        There are actually classes in adulting for people of either gender to teach them how to cook, how to make their own beds, and how to do their own laundry…

        1. Jaid*

          And at least Bertie Wooster tried, though he ended up expelled for cheating when he hired a lady to darn his socks…

          “Ring For Jeeves”

      1. Artemesia*

        I have a lot of Italian friends and spent a good deal of time in Italy years ago and it was pretty typical for men to live with their parents until maybe marrying in their 30s and not that unusual for newlyweds to be living with parents.

        1. Batgirl*

          That’s a common thing in my background and it really isn’t a problem if the adult is considered an adult in the household. As someone who teaches twelve and thirteen year olds, kids who are taught to be helpless are started off long before they could possibly think about leaving home.

  4. The Crowening*

    I wonder how he will function in a company that doesn’t include his mom? Maybe Dana will have to follow him.

    1. Nanani*

      I just hope Dana isn’t the one answering reference calls when he lists this place as a reference for his next job.

      1. Meep*

        I am leaving my job in less than two weeks and two of my (white male) coworkers’ solution is to pepper me with questions about the minute while ignoring all the actual important information I have given them. They literally refuse to listen but want answers! One guy wanted me to handhold him line-by-line through every piece of code and justify why it was important. Idk, man. I didn’t write it. I am just trying to show you WHERE it is.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It doesn’t, but if he’s not white he still has the iconic Mediocre White Man Confidence as described by eg Ijeoma Oluo.

  5. Ellen Ripley*

    I wish Luke’s manager would have been more proactive about disciplining him/letting him go. It sucks to have to work around someone like this…

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        True, but the manager really didn’t do their best work on this one from what we know of the situation.

        If you’re a manager in an organization that doesn’t restrict family members from working together, part of your job is making sure these kinds of issues don’t pop up. It shouldn’t matter that Luke was an intern and his position was temporary, he should still have been disciplined or possibly even fired for failing to follow his manager’s instructions.

    1. Raboot*

      Yeah, it’s wild to me that he remained employed after all those. I get that there was an end date in sight but still, 3 months of that is Too Much.

    2. Berkeleyfarm*

      There was a lot of territory to catch up on. Honestly I think that even if the manager had sat him down and explained “workplace norms” to him in detail, Luke would have blown it off. Maybe they didn’t want to bounce the kid because of familial connections.

  6. CatCat*

    “That’s not necessary, my mom will talk to him about something else and she can ask him about our request, too”

    Oh my god

    1. Elenna*


      And meanwhile I’m over here fretting about whether it makes me look too young to mention things like “my mom helped me get a vaccine appointment”…

      (For the record, yes, I could have gotten it myself (and did try), but it probably would have been later. Mom has way more patience to sit there repeatedly refreshing every five minutes until someone cancels and opens up a slot.)

    2. Observer*

      Totally! That’s just hair raising. I wonder how his manager reacted. Because I’m not sure I could have handled that professionally.

      1. Anonymous4*

        I don’t think I’m cut out for management. I’d have picked him up by the ear. “I didn’t ask about your mother. I said, go find out about our request.”

        Why, yes, I WILL grind your bones to make my bread. Why do you ask?

  7. Dasein9*

    Sounds like Luke is going to have some painful growing up to do and like Dana has done nothing to prepare him for that. From a very far distance, I kinda feel sorry for him but would change my tune fast if I had to deal with him in person.

    1. I AM Sparkling }:(*

      Yes, he sounds like an entitled little dweeb and Dana sounds like a textbook doormat. My mother would never have allowed us to get away with treating a coworker at any job the way he did. Flipping out on the receptionist for a minor grammatical error? YELLING at his mother for something out of her control, then turning around and expecting him to do his work for him? Refusing to go to a work event because he’d have to take (gasp) THE BUS??

      The first job he gets outside Mommy’s orbit, he’s going to get eaten alive, and I hope Dana won’t be one of those mothers who calls up her kid’s boss to complain at them because their precious progeny is offended by the notion of having to do something they don’t want to do.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Yes, Luke is going to have a bumpy landing. This is one of many reasons why helicoptering is bad, mmmkay. Luke never learned basic lessons like “help others, don’t make fun of their accents, be polite” that ideally are learned by middle school graduation – not always practiced, mind, but at least learned as basic manners.

        Makes me wonder if Luke is going to go through life being bewildered and angry as to why he can’t keep a job or a relationship.

        1. Anonymous4*

          Oh, he won’t wonder a bit. It’s all the other people’s fault! The companies all sucked, and the other employees all sucked, and his bosses all sucked, and —

          Well, you know the chorus!

    2. learnedthehardway*

      This – his parents (and I include his father or other parents in this) have not done him any favours.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Yes. It’s easy to blame Dana, because she’s the parent LW knows, but presumably Luke has another parent (his dad or other mom) and they had a hand in how he turned out, too.

  8. WFH is all I Want*

    I’m so glad LW can see the funny side of this. I’m still picking my jaw up off the floor. I want to commend the poor manager who was stuck with him. I don’t believe I could have survived and would have quit on the spot at some point.

    1. Observer*

      I wonder what their relationship with Dana looks like at this point. And if it’s going to affect her or the department.

  9. The Tin Man*

    What a sad failure of management that he was able to complete his internship. It’s not even a normal thing for the company!

    I would have had a hard time biting my tongue around him to just let it play out, even if that was the mature thing (unless directly confronted like LW)

  10. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    Holy cow. I know Luke is young, but man…one of my parents and I work at the same company and I am forever trying to make sure there are professional boundaries there. (We work at a company with over 1000 employees in completely different departments, so it’s not THAT difficult.) I absolutely ask them about things in their wheelhouse (and they call me for things as well), but “my mom has to talk to this person about a completely different issue and will talk to him about my thing as well” is not something that would ever enter my mind as an option.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      I know, eh? I worked for a summer at the company where my dad worked. I was on absolutely BEST behaviour at all times. I’d have been mortified if I had done anything that might have reflected badly on him.

      1. kicking_k*

        I was just thinking how much I would have hated having a parent as even a distant colleague, because I’d have been so embarrassed if I’d messed up and they knew about it.

    2. LCH*

      not THAT young. i had to go back to the original letter to see if it mentioned his age. comments make it sound like early 20s. this is serious WTF territory.

      1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

        I meant “young in the workforce”. I did all sorts of dumb stuff in my 20s when I didn’t know workplace norms and such. I’m in my mid-30s and consider pretty much anyone younger than 25 young for work. It’s feasible that someone that age hasn’t worked an office job other than maybe an internship, so I don’t expect them to necessarily know what workplace norms are.

        However, Luke is showing Draco Malfoy levels of audacity and I’d HOPE anyone over the age of like 12 would realize that isn’t okay.

    3. CatMintCat*

      I work with my daughter and have done for much of the last ten years. We work hard to stay in our own lanes at work. We’ll talk about problems generally out of work, but keep it professional colleagues when there.

      Our current principal was hesitant and only hired her (I have permanency so he’s stuck with me) on a trial basis initially. She’s now in her second year at this school, so I assume we’re doing it fairly well.

    4. Berkeleyfarm*

      Yeah, one of my co-workers has 2 adult children working for our midsize company, one in a group/role my department interacts with a lot. I am sure they talk, but they are very much doing their own jobs (quite well, the parent and the child I’ve worked with have a lot of respect from their peers).

      Honestly I think the parent would not have tolerated these sorts of shenanigans (the gossip network IS alive and well here) and the kids rightly figured out they got in the door with an assist from the parental unit but it was up to them to stay.

  11. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

    LW don’t leave us hanging like this! What did you say to shut him down about the receptionist? (As someone who struggles with direct confrontations like that more script ideas are always appreciated!)

    1. Echo*

      I’m not LW, but one script you could use is something like this “Luke, I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply this, but your comments make it sound like it’s not acceptable to struggle with Language as a second-language speaker. That’s not in line with our values here at Company.”

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I wonder how many languages Luke speaks. I suspect it’s fewer than the receptionist does.

      1. quill*

        My bet is on one. (And my bet is on it being English but given that we generally get questions from primarily english-speaking places it’s kind of a given.)

        1. Nanani*

          Especially since monolingual anglophones are especially prone to this sort of mindset. English is used in a big chunk of the world so it’s very easy to assume others will adapt to you and never have to learn anyone else’s language.
          Even monolinguals isolated from other languages are aware that if they want to travel or do business abroad or something, they will probably need to learn another language at least a little bit. English speakers can assume others will know enough English for them.

  12. I should really pick a name*

    Sounds like Luke’s manager was aware how terrible he was and did nothing.

    1. GreenMMsGoGoBoots*

      Yeah I’m confused as to why the manager of that department let this go on. The first time he yelled at his mom in the office should have been his last day there.

      1. Antilles*

        Especially since the timing of OP’s letter/update makes it seem like this was a several month internship with problems the entire way. If it was like, a month internship, I could *maybe* see the manager shrugging it off as “meh, he’s gone in two weeks anyways, not worth the hassle/paperwork to fire an intern” but putting up with this for months?

      2. Observer*

        The manager may have thought that it was easier to just wait it out. I’d be willing to bet that Dana did try to get an extension, but manager said NOPE.

  13. Choggy*

    My company no longer allows employee’s children to intern at my company, they were just being brought on with no plan around how they could learn something or help employees. Many were the kids of senior staff, and were glued to their cell phones the entire time. And this was a paid internship!

    1. Artemesia*

      That’s too bad. It would seem to me to be a great perk of employment that your kid could get an internship and especially for people at lower levels of the organization. But it absolutely has to then be serious — a learning contract, real tasks, management. Spend a day on your phone — internship ends.

  14. GreenMMsGoGoBoots*

    This story is funny but also……omg Dana WTH???? This is sooooo depressing to read when in context of her life. Obviously this is a monster of her own creation to some extent, but to bring this dude into your office and allow him to humiliate you in front of all your coworkers for weeks on end is just too much!

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      Yes. Dana really made a rod for her own back there! This cannot have done HER professional reputation any good.

  15. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Oh noooooooooooooooo.
    But also oh yes yes yes I love drama that doesn’t affect me or hurt anyway this was GLORIOUS.

  16. Alexis Rosay*

    At this point, when hiring for internships or junior positions, when I receive a personal reference from a staff person or board member it usually makes me assume the applicant will be worse, rather than better. Early on in my career I thought I had to take these references into account and the person was invariable extremely disappointing.

    …but no one quite as bad as Luke. Wow.

  17. UKDancer*

    Can confirm we have over confident tossers and public transport in the UK. I have worked with a few including one who thought everyone was there to wait on him and got very annoyed when I refused to fetch and carry for him.

  18. Observer*

    Well, we can be pretty certain why Dana had to beg for an internship for Luke.

    Now that he’s gone, I suspect that he’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

  19. quill*

    This boy is perfectly set up for failure, but also, Dana, I have Questions. How? *waves arms at this guy*

  20. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    I’m picturing a grown adult swiveling in a chair, or spinning around in 360 circles while someone is trying to have a serious business discussion with them, probably saying, “Hey look, watch!” Maybe he’ll wind up in a furniture store.

    I worked with my mom in an office once when I was young, we talked about professionalism and I remember asking her if calling her “mom” would be ok in front of others. She said you can call me my first name and I said, “oh HELL no.” We elected that “mom” was ok. It was a small doctor’s office and if you didn’t know I was the daughter, me standing next to her for 30 seconds gave it away anyways.

    1. Katelyn*

      Once my mom was a half-day sub for my class (she was teaching afternoon kindergarten at the time & my class’s sub no-showed). She tried to get me to call her Mrs. LastName. I said no and called her mom. Everyone knew it wasn’t a secret. It also wasn’t a secret that she never wanted to teach me or my sister haha!

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        Yeah, don’t blame her for the last.

        I tell the story that I was in the morning kindergarten class because the afternoon teacher was my mom’s BFF. (Who had a kid my age, who was also in my classroom.) I was five, boundaries would have been tough.

  21. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    OP: if you shut this down:
    He showed me the email from her that caused the rant – and it was a MINOR grammatical mistake. Nothing anyone should be shamed for, especially if it’s not her mother tongue. So I told him he was being ridiculous.
    with anything other than, “yeah, it’s not her mother tongue. And her mother’s body isn’t here to edit it for her, she’s doing pretty well.”
    I salute your strength, cuz I would have blurted.

      1. Leaping*

        If there’s one minor mistake, anybody could have made it, regardless of mother tongue.
        No need to harp on on the foreigness.

        People are fallible.

        1. Daisy Gamgee*

          It’s for use on people who are already ‘harping on the foreigners’. Which is also another punchy turn of phrase, incidentally.

  22. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    Swiveling, swiveling! On two occasions, I have been pressured to interview/hire an executive’s child as a temporary worker or contractor. Both times I categorically refused. See Luke, case in point.

  23. HugeTractsofLand*

    I’m happy for the OP’s sanity that she stayed out of it, but this update honestly makes me sad. An internship is supposed to help a person learn work norms, and it sounds like Luke learned little to nothing about NOT being an ass. It sounds like his manager handled things as well as she could (“stop talking to your mom and talk to me”, “stop swiveling”- omg), but Luke completely missed those strong cues and needed some kind of ultimatum. I’m scratching my head over his mom’s role in this- sounds like she knows he’s got issues (begged for the internship, still tells stories about him)- but is also enabling him? But also gets yelled at by him? It’s a weird enough situation that it falls into the “not my business” category as a reader, but I sure as heck hope that I never work with Luke.

    1. Nanani*

      I mean, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

      It wasn’t in LWs power to fire Luke from internship or to enforce consequences on him while he was there, so “not my onions” is the only right answer.

      I hope he grows up, but he’s the one who has to put in the work. Not his mom.

  24. June*

    This reminds me of a college intern we had. He was in college and interning for my company because his father was friends with our CEO. I suspect that the father just didn’t want him sitting at home all day staring at his phone…so he sat in the office all day and stared at his phone. I do feel a little sorry for him because I’m not sure how much substantive work my department (legal) could give him for a full summer, but he was literally on his phone the entire time. He would full on swivel in a circle at his desk, or have both elbows on it openly playing games.

  25. Jam on Toast*

    This sort of behaviour is so frustrating and does Luke a real disservice. It also has real repercussions for Dana’s reputation, too. I recently recommended my own university-age son for a position at a professional contact’s company. The job is in my son’s future field and a great thing for him to have on his resume, plus flexible enough that he can go to school and work part time. Win, win, win. When I told Jam Jr. about the job opportunity, he immediately understood that while I was happy to handle the initial outreach, he would be responsible for submitting his resume, following up if he was asked to interview and that if he ultimately got the job, he would be judged on his performance, and not my relationship with his boss. That’s how networking for internships and entry level positions should work: more experienced workers leveraging their professional experience to help connect new workers with opportunities to learn the ropes is important and necessary. It shouldn’t be weaponized to foist chair-twirling toddlers onto unwilling workplaces.

  26. Retired (but not really)*

    I’m wondering if on top of everything else that seems to be a problem with this young man if perhaps the decision for him to pursue the career in question was pushed upon him and he’s just really not suited for this type of job. It sounds like he might do much better doing something he’s actually interested in! It is entirely too common for mom or dad to have aspirations for junior to be a big shot whatever that junior cares less than nothing about doing and figures the only way to get out of doing it is to fail miserably. Might not be the case here, but I’ve certainly seen it happen.

  27. Dennis Feinstein*

    “Luke, please stop swivelling when I talk to you”
    I really really hope this was delivered in a Darth Vader voice.

      1. Artemesia*

        the minimum here is that the manager who agreed to take him on. should have had a conversation with Mom letting her know that it was important that she not be involved in his internship work and that he not get direction from her or be contacting her during the day. And Mom should have had the good sense to direct him back to his manager.

        1. Observer*

          I’d be willing to bet that Manager DID have a conversation. But, the thing is that Mom clearly did NOT have the good sense, so it’s quite probable that it fell on deaf ears.

  28. Holey Hobby*

    I don’t think of myself as conservative or authoritarian – on all of the various factor tests, I usually score the opposite. We don’t do corporal punishment at our house. I don’t believe in it.

    And yet.. and yet… I read about this kid humiliating and disrespecting his mother, in public, at her job, and I want to see him smacked so hard, he will leave the gravitational field of the earth. Like, kid, you’re gonna be up there looking for your teeth in the asteroid belt if you don’t keep a civil tongue.

  29. PassThePeasPlease*

    This sounds like a former intern I interned alongside to a tee except instead of his mom working there, his older sister was a director. It was obvious from day one that he wasn’t up to the same tasks as the other interns in the group so they kind of let him…do whatever? It was strange to watch happen but guess giving him free range was easier than trying to get him on task.

Comments are closed.