I might become my roommate’s boss, calling a regular lunch date an “appointment,” and more

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

1. I might become my roommate’s boss

In May 2021, I graduated from a master’s program. During those three years, I worked as a graduate assistant at my college. I left that position shortly after I graduated. I had a great experience with my graduate assistantship and miss it very much. Recently, my old colleagues have reached out about a new (full-time) role they would like me to take. It sounds like an amazing opportunity. There is one catch, my current roommate is now a graduate assistant in that department as well (a position I connected her with) and in this new role I would become her supervisor. They haven’t mentioned it as a problem, but my roommate has mentioned that she is uncomfortable with it. I get it — it’s weird. Should I take the job and breakup as roommates? Not sure what to do.

How much do you want the job? It sounds like a lot and if that’s the case, yes, you’d need to move out as soon as possible; you definitely can’t be your roommate’s boss. It would be terrible for her (imagine living with your boss), bad for you as a new manager (what if you have to fire her?), and bad for the rest of your team (if nothing else, people will assume there’s serious favoritism going on, whether or not there is — and read this). However … can you move out ASAP without screwing her over lease-wise? You don’t want the situation to be that you became her boss and left her with higher rent; you’d need to stay responsible for your share of the rent until someone else (who she approves) takes your spot.

On top of all that, make sure you’ll be able to manage her objectively. Being a first-time manager is hard enough under the best of circumstances; there’s a extra layer of trickiness when you’re managing someone you have/had a personal relationship with too (and one more layer if that person isn’t thrilled about you managing them), so factor all that in as well.

2. Can I call my regular lunch date an “appointment”?

Is it ethical for me to tell my new job I have a monthly “appointment” when it’s really just a standing lunch date with my friend?

My good friend and I decided to schedule a regular, once-a-month lunch date when I moved to my current town for a new job. At that employer, a full hour for lunch is normal, which means I have enough time to drive off, eat and chat, and drive back.

However, I’m about to start a new job and it seems that the standard lunch there is only a half-hour. Due to geography, a half-hour just isn’t enough time for us to get together, eat, and get back to work.

I really value the time I get to spend with my friend, as it’s the only time in our schedules that we can reliably see each other. Moreover, in the interviews, the new employer volunteered that they were very good about accommodating appointments, but I know it won’t look good if they ever find out this monthly event a social call instead of a medical one (even though it is very good for my mental health!). So can I keep my monthly lunch date and request some leniency for my new position by calling it an “appointment”? Do I wait a few months and then ask for an extra-long lunch once a month? Or do I need to give up the lunch dates indefinitely?

If you call it a standing monthly appointment, people are very likely to assume it’s medical in nature or otherwise at a similar level of unmoveability, and at some point your colleagues are likely to alter plans around it (like if the only convenient time for a meeting is then, it’s likely others will end up adjusting their schedules, even if it involves a lot of inconvenience). And if it ever does come out that this appointment is a social lunch (which could happen if someone ends up in the same restaurant, for example), it’s likely to look like you were intentionally underhanded and misleading. It’s a bad way to start a new job.

Can you move the lunches to the weekend? Or wait a few months until you have a better handle on the culture? It’s possible that by a few months in, you’ll realize that you can schedule the occasional hour-long lunch without it being a big deal and without needing to misrepresent anything.

3. How do I stop a coworker from using a diminutive version of my name?

I have a new coworker — he’s been with us for a month now — who spontaneously started using a diminutive version of my name. I’m uncomfortable because it feels like he’s undermining or babying me and it sounds more intimate than I’d like, but I don’t think it’s malicious. He used to work in a much more informal setting before moving to this office job and has shown a couple signs of not getting social cues.

I was letting it go, but now I realized he also talks to other coworkers about me using this diminutive name (I saw it as another coworker opened his work messaging app to check something). This makes it feel much worse and sounds like he doesn’t take me seriously. For the record, I’m a 30-year-old woman, he’s a man in his early 30s.

How do I tell him to stop and revert to using my actual first name without sounding adversarial? I don’t want to sour our work relationship.

It doesn’t sound like you’ve corrected him yet, and it’s likely that that’s all it will take! Just be matter-of-fact about it: “I don’t go by Val. Please call me Valentina.” You might need to repeat it a time or two before it sticks.

That’s it. There’s no reason this should sour your work relationship — this type of correction is really common as people are getting to know each other and shouldn’t be a big deal unless he chooses to make it a big deal by ignoring a straightforward request. It’s possible he’ll do that if he’s a jerk, but it’s not the most likely outcome!

4. We used to get our sick time all up-front but now it will accrue over the year

I am wondering if something my job did is okay. We used to get our sick time at one time on January 1st. I work part-time so I would get 60 hours.

Now we are getting half our sick time up-front, and the other time we have to “earn” it or something like that. We get time every month which adds up. I am thinking this will mean nobody can use their sick time for things like surgery because of the new set-up. Also, it seems to me that everyone will be waiting until the end of the year to take time off if you have to wait for it to add up, so it will be difficult to get time off since everyone will be taking time off at the same time. Have you heard of this? Is this weird and is there anyway to fight back?

What you’re describing is actually really common! The idea is that you you earn a certain amount of time off with every pay period — so if you get, for example, X weeks of time off for the year, you’d accrue 1/12 of that every month. The idea is to prorate your accrued time off according to how much you’ve worked — so you couldn’t, for example, take two weeks of paid off in January right after your time off front-loads and then quit right afterwards.

However, typically if someone has a real need and hasn’t accrued the time off yet (like your surgery example), there are ways to work around that. A decent employer will advance you the time off, or let you take it unpaid (not always practical, but it’s one thing that can be offered), or otherwise give you the time you need. They’re giving you half the time up-front so that people have some buffer for stuff early in the year, which is a pretty good way to do it.

5. Company requires an external candidate before it will promote from within

I work at a rather large company with some pretty archaic rules and am confused by the latest company policy to come to light. A friend of mine, Molly, applied for an open management role in their department that had been open for a few weeks. They are a rockstar and have been unofficially told that the role is theirs … as soon as the company gets at least one external candidate for the position.

It’s been about a month since and there have been no updates. Our company is having a wider problem attracting and keeping people so roles staying open for months has become incredibly common. According to Molly, having an external candidate is a must and the promotion can’t go through until it happens. Is this a common practice? It makes no sense to me because in the meantime the position remains ‘unfilled’ so that work is falling on someone else or not getting done. What is to stop someone from just having an unqualified friend apply just to get the ball rolling? And if some perfect person comes along, could they offer that person the job instead? (Also, Molly has said that there are at least two other people in her department who are in the same situation and their promotions are just ‘open secrets’.) Is this normal or is this something to add to my list of weird things my employer does?

It’s not uncommon. The idea is to make sure you’re hiring the candidate who’s truly the best, not just the person who’s convenient and who you already know and like.

To answer your questions, usually the policy is that you need to consider other qualified candidates, so having an unqualified friend apply likely wouldn’t meet the bar. And in theory, yes, if someone more qualified came along, they could offer the job to that person instead of to Molly — in fact, that’s how the policy is supposed to work. If the job is really Molly’s no matter who else applies and the application process is just a sham, that’s far from the spirit of the policy … and unfair to external candidates who take the time to apply and assume the opportunity is a real one.

It’s a good thing to ensure that a range of candidates are considered and that the job doesn’t just automatically go to whoever is standing closest to it when it opens up, or to the hiring manager’s closest friend on staff, or so forth. But you need to have flexibility with it too, such as when someone has already been doing the job and is getting excellent results or when there are no other plausible candidates.

{ 447 comments… read them below }

  1. WoodswomanWrites*

    #1 – Although the situation you describe is difficult, it’s also temporary. The job sounds perfect for you and what you want, and moving will no doubt create financial and managerial challenges for you and your roommate. However, your roommate is a graduate student and will eventually move out of that role to whatever her future holds, so you won’t be her manager anymore. While it may be bumpy for a bit, it sounds like taking the job and moving out are the best steps.

    I concur with Alison’s point about not leaving your roommate stuck financially. Perhaps you can ask your new employer for some time before you take on the role to allow time to arrange a new living situation and for your roommate to find someone new.

    1. Loulou*

      Agreed. I think it would be pretty short-sighted to not take a job (that OP could, hopefully, stay in for many years) because of this temporary situation (managing someone you have a personal relationship with). Anyway, if OP was a graduate student there then they may well have a personal relationship with other grad assistants too. A few years from now, that won’t be the case.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        +1 Take the position.
        Our graduate cohort really was a cohort. We all had research-related friendships, although generally not dating/romantic ones. So in one sense, those could be considered as personal relationships. It wasn’t at all uncommon for grad students working in the same department to room together – housing in my PhD town was expensive and hard-to-get.
        The direct supervision angle complicates matters a little. I have known grad students as supervisors/supervisees who wouldn’t be bothered, and others who would. OP, if your roommate is bothered by this, it’s probably better for one of you to move.
        (Short-lived sitcom: both roommates decide to move independently, and wind up together in the new place…)

        1. Colette*

          It’s not just whether the roommate is bothered by it – it’s how it affects all of the OP’s potential employees.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Agreed. I think the best thing to do is to take the job and take appropriate steps to stop being a roommate to this person in a way that is not going to burn a bridge. I worked for a friend for a bit and during that time we stopped socializing outside of work. It was necessary to maintain that distance at the professional level.

    2. Tussy*

      Yes, I was thinking this as well, LW1 really can’t give up this job for what is a temporary issue.

      Is there a possibility to have them specially report to someone else for time-off approvals and performance reviews etc. so that Roommate is more comfortable? If it’s academia or academia adjacent this might be at least worth looking into – I’ve seen reporting lines change for all sorts of reasons in that sector and for exceptions to be made like that. It might even be an opportunity for someone to get supervisory/management experience (I once had my reporting lines in an academic support role changed for this exact reason). But obviously no idea how feasible it would be for your situation or whether there would be a way to do it without adversely affecting Roommate.

      1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        I think this workout is the best situation should OP get the job. Arrange for roommate to direct report to someone else not OP for the remainder of their assistantship.
        Hopefully, all can act professionally at work during this temporary period even if you do have a personal relationship. And that is actually a good lesson to learn in life.

      2. Gingerbread Gnome*

        Yes, I think OP should reach out to the company and ask if the roommate can be supervised by someone else for either the rest of her stint or they change living situations. It shouldn’t be a big deal for the company to comply with this one-time request (and if it is that says something about them) if they aren’t asking for all supervisory duties to be removed.

    3. PostalMixup*

      It really makes a difference, though, whether this is a 2-year Master’s program or a 5-7 year PhD. With the former, that’s definitely a short-te, self-resolving issue. With the latter, that could be a much longer problem.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      Totally agree about the temporary nature, but maybe instead of moving rooms, you can move the roommate out of your reporting structure until they leave. As you talk to the org about taking the job, bring up this issue! Tell them you don’t want to impact the roommate’s employment or your living arrangement, and ask if they can help you not be her boss. Maybe she could report to a similar position in a related department, or just to her professors.

  2. LMK*

    LW 5: I think it’s fairly common to require external candidates for a position. The trouble is holding that position open while waiting. They should have a time limit on how long to keep it open, and if they get no outside applications then they should fill the position internally.

    1. Anonys*

      The way I know it, the requirement is not to actually have qualified external candidates but to advertise the position externally for x weeks in order to give (more) qualified external candidates a chance to apply.

      If the policy is that external candidates actually have to consists and be actively considered, there should at least be a caveat that after x weeks or months with no applicants, the hiring manager can proceed with the internal candidate(s)

      1. Virginia Plain*

        Yes I was about to say the same – at many places especially public sector it is the rule that permanent vacancies must be advertised externally as well as internally, it’s to guard against it looking like a fix/shoo-in rather than a fair process. But if you don’t get any external applications you don’t have to keep the advert open until you do; if people don’t get their hat in the ring by the closing date then more fool them. Or if the post is so unattractive that no external candidate is tempted, then more fool the company…

        1. MK*

          Unfortunately, organizations often try to bypass this safeguard by “advertising” the vacancy in ways that make sure external qualified candidates won’t even hear of it (like not posting the ad online, but only in a physical board inside the office, or in an internal publication, etc). I can imagine someone making the rule that there needs to be at least one other candidate to combat this.

          And, frankly, it’s a bit odd that there hasn’t even been one other candidate, no matter how unattractive the company or the role.

          1. BethDH*

            That immediately made me wonder whether word has gotten out that this company just advertises roles they’ve already given to internal candidates. There were a few times during my job search where I saw a role advertised and heard from multiple people that they always hired someone who had been in a particular postdoc but were required to advertise.

            1. Smithy*

              I was wondering about this.

              I think there are a lot of rules that seek to account for equity and combat cronyism, and the reality ends up being folks finding other ways to skirt that. For a fairly long time, I’ve had a fairly emotionally healthy attitude to not getting jobs – but prior to COVID, having my time wasted via interviews that were going no where was always a killer.

              As someone who didn’t have a regular remote work schedule, most interviews meant taking some kind of time off. Coming in late, leaving early, inventing doctor’s appointments, etc. If the end result was to be entirely ghosted – so be it, that sometimes happens. But if I said in my application materials that my expected salary was $X and then on interview you tell me the top salary range is 60% of $X – we’ve all just wasted one another’s time. And if this is a company that I know heavily promotes from within and this is a mindless requirement, no way.

              Now with COVID and a lot more remote work – I’m far less bothered by interviews to no where. But I also know that’s not everyone and lots of people make interviewing choices about protecting their themselves, which makes a lot of sense.

            2. notmyusername*

              I once saw an ad that said, in bold “strong internal candidate identified.” Needless to say, I did not apply for that job.

              1. Aggretsuko*

                I’d rather know there’s a strong internal candidate so I won’t waste my time applying! I have hated it and been so embarrassed when I did and then found out after the fact that I was the token interviewee.

                1. Bananarama*

                  On the other hand, if you’re rusty at interviewing and want a low stakes exercise to help with that, this posting sounds like a good chance to practice.

              2. Astor*

                This is my favourite way of companies handling it since it’s transparent and lets me decide how I want to handle it. My institution does it the same way, although with slightly different but still blunt wording.

          2. Phony Genius*

            Or, they will write the requirements in such a specific way that only one person (the internal candidate) could possibly meet the criteria.

            1. Sloanicota*

              As a job seeker, when I see suspiciously specific worded job ads (named degrees and years of work in this specific area are sometimes signs to me), this is often my assumption.

              1. Shhh*

                I saw an ad once that included an incredibly specific and unusual language requirement – they were requiring fluency in a less-common language that wouldn’t be used for the job duties. So that was particularly egregious.

            2. DataSci*

              I’ve seen this a lot in academia, where Wassamatta U is actively trying to lure someone away from Local State University, but needs to act as though it’s an entirely open hire. So they advertise for someone focused on a very narrow field where their chosen candidate *just happens* to be the world’s leading expert.

          3. JustaTech*

            When I was first applying to (low level) jobs at Big State U I never had any luck at the positions that only had a 2-week open window for applications. Years later when I finally got a job at BSU (through a sideways approach) I learned that those 2-week window jobs were ones where they already had an internal candidate but were required to advertise.

    2. Green great dragon*

      One option would be to give her an ‘acting’ role – she gets the salary and does the job for now with the understanding that she may not get it permanently (either her old job is left unfilled, or there’s a chain of ‘actings’ until you get down to a lower role which is easier to cover with a temp or leave empty for a while). If she ends up not getting it, at least she’s got something good to go on her resume and a few weeks extra pay.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I’m not sure this is a great approach. If the role doesn’t become permanent, she basically gets a demotion which is terrible for morale, even if she knows up front that it’s a possibility.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          Makes sense sadly. Where I am (civil service) they definitely do advertise openly but…we get lots of applications!

          1. Virginia Plain*

            Sorry this was supposed to be a reply to MK.
            In response to I should really… might or might not work in this context but I don’t think acting up is a bad idea in principle. Temporary promotions for 3 months, 6 months, a year, are very common in my field and seen as a good way, maybe even the only way, to get experience at the level above which you can use in our competency-based application system to secure a substantive role at the level above. Nobody thinks it looks bad or is bad when the temp role ends. It’s a very common way to cover maternity leave for example.

            1. After 33 years ...*

              +1
              At present, about half of our Senior Administrative positions are filled by “acting”, “interim”, or “pro-tempore” people, some of whom are looking to get into the roles permanently after demonstrating that they’re capable. Which of those three terms is used can signal the likelihood that someone will be converted to permanent status, in order.

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                Although there are places who put lower level people in them, pay them at the lower level, and pretend they’ll actually get a promotion with pay…eventually.

            2. LDN Layabout*

              It very much depends on how well the organisation deals with it and acting up temporarily vs. acting up while hiring is on-going are two very different situations precisely because in one case there’s an opening to be filled and in the other there isn’t.

              Acting up and the position not being filled officially, or eventually filled by a new hire? People will leave, other colleagues will also leave.

  3. Nononon*

    Ah, LW #1, you have apparently learned the sad life lesson that “No good deed goes unpunished.” By helping your roommate get hired into her new position, you now must give up either your current home or the job you want, plus now the person you helped has expressed unhappiness with you. After more experiences like this, it will become progressively more difficult to continue to help others unconditionally.

      1. Viette*

        Yeah, that’s a very unhappy assessment! LW #1 took a job, left a job, got someone else a job at her old work, and then got asked back to a different role at her old work years later and it turns out to be very inconvenient in one way. The lesson is not “never help anyone ever again just in case things turn out very inconveniently in three years”, the lesson is “sometimes things turn out differently than you planned”.

        Also: the LW’s roommate has not “expressed unhappiness with [LW]”. They have expressed unhappiness with the potential situation of being roommates with their boss. Roomie’s behavior is not a personal attack.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I commend OP1 and their roommate for being aware of the potential issues. Alison’s advice is spot on.

    1. Loulou*

      What??? How many more experiences like this do you think OP is likely to have, because I think this really could be the only one (plus a good way to avoid it in the future is to choose roommates who don’t work for the university or study there, rather than…never doing anything nice for people).

      OP, if you want the job, take the job! If this is a big university town, hopefully you can find a subletter relatively easily.

    2. Tussy*

      This is a terrible take.

      No good deed goes unpunished had never been my experience. Sure, you don’t always get anything out of a good deed but that’s not really the point of doing them.

      It is not a truism, it’s a just a catchy phrase.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. Doing good things makes you feel good and improves the happiness in the world. I spent time yesterday coaching a colleague on something I’m good at but she isn’t. I get no direct benefit from her being better at this skill but it makes her happier and I feel happy because of it.

        1. Virginia Plain*

          I agree. The happiness bounces back. I mean don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm but if it’s no skin off your nose then why not be good to others? The OP is hardly in tragic dire straits and facing certain disaster because she pointed her roommate at a job.

    3. Anonys*

      This is such a weird take, especially since connecting (professional) acquaintances with potential job openings is such a normal practice in business . OP is likely to benefit from this themselves at some point in their career. And if OP’s roommate is a good worker and an asset to the department, the fact that OP recommended her reflects well on OP with their former (and now likely current) department. Therefore, I wouldn’t necessarily call this kind of professional recommendation “unconditional help” anyway. Sure it’s not a direct tit for tat but it’s also not charity – it strengthens your network and can earn you goodwill with your professional contacts.

      Also, even if OP hadn’t recommended the roommate, she could have just applied to the job herself and there’s probably a good chance she could have gotten it anyway.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, I have always found that “paying it forward” with networking connections, job leads, recommendations, etc is good for me in the long run. People remember when you help them and they want to help you in return, when they can. Sure, there may be an awkward situation once in a while, but it’s far outweighed by the benefit of having a strong network you can call on!

      2. JustaTech*

        Not to mention, on a really basic level, the OP helping their roommate get a job helps the OP because the roommate *has a job* and can keep paying their part of the rent.

        Sure, it’s too bad that now this is a source of conflict, but it’s not insurmountable. Life is full of not-easy decisions; this one is hardly worth giving up on all of humanity for.

    4. Laure001*

      Nononon, I have to agree with others that your reaction is very strange. Of all the angles of this story, you’ve chosen to consider the worst, which leads me to think that you have been burned before, and maybe you are now projecting on the LW’s situation.
      Your reaction is understandable… But beware to not let a few unpleasant experiences color your view of life, as it seems is happening with you here.
      Sure, helping people sometimes backfires… But first, NOT helping them can backfire too, except most of the time you will not know it did, because you cannot be aware of the good things that would have happened if they had helped you back. And maybe you are discounting all the good things that have happened when you did help people.
      Also let’s not forget that helping people is the right thing to do, even when it backfires. ;)

    5. ecnaseener*

      I’m curious how you think LW could’ve avoided this situation by only helping the roommate “conditionally.” Would you advise them to only tell future roommates about job openings on the condition that the roommate will quit if LW asks them to?

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, in my experience, helping folks out professionally where and when you can has far more benefits than disadvantages in the long run. A bit of temporary suck in terms of needing to look for a new place is a relatively small price to pay for a harmonious working relationship, and hopefully an opportunity to maintain the friendship after they’ve both moved on to other roles.

    6. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I think your perspective on this is very negative. It’s not a case of no good deed goes unpunished. It’s not that the job is saying they can’t hire OP or that the roommate has to be fired. And the roommate has not “expressed unhappiness”. She is just uncomfortable with the situation.

      I think the best thing that the OP could do is take the job, either find another boss for the roommate and/or find someone to take over the lease (if that’s possible.)

    7. Data Analyst*

      What a weird response! Just because LW helped the roommate get the job, doesn’t mean the roommate is forever in their debt and has to pretend like it’s totally cool to have your roommate be your boss!

  4. Abcdrfg*

    #3
    Always correct your name if its something you don’t respond to, always.
    My name is 9-letters long and can be split into a few seperate smaller names, many people take the shortened which is fine, but I was always called by my full name.
    So by the time I was an adult, anytime I was in public and hear the shorter versions called out, I would never turn my head thinking someone was trying to get my attention.
    I simply don’t recognize it as my name and so I don’t realise I’m being addressed at all.

    1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      This, but opposite. If someone calls me by my full name and you’re not my mother, I’m like, “Oh, did you mean me?” I always use my nickname. I even told my lifelong best friend, who I don’t mind calling me by my full name, that if she’s trying to get my attention, especially in a crowd, and I don’t respond, that she needs to switch because I’m just not used to it.

      1. Abcdrfg*

        It reminds me of my brothers wedding. He and my dad have the same name. His whole life he went by his middle name for everything, thats how everyone knows him. He and my SIL had a destination wedding in the Caribbean, but everyone that wasn’t family got lost looking for the coach bus to take us to the hotel because they had his REAL name on the bus sign, and we had to go round everyone up. They all thought it was hilarious after passing it 5 times.

        1. allathian*

          It reminds me of my cousin’s wedding. We don’t have a tradition where sons are given the father’s name and addressed as junior. It’s far more common to have middle names that are passed down through the generations, my first name is my maternal grandmother’s middle name, and my middle name’s my paternal grandmother’s middle name, for example. But my cousin’s fiance had the same first name as his father, although he’d always been known by his middle name. When he realized that at the wedding, there was no way he would be allowed to use any other name except his legal one for his vows, *they postponed the wedding by six months* after having sent out all the invitations and everything so that he could change his legal name to what he had actually used all his life. He said later, in a totally serious voice, that he wouldn’t have felt like he was really married if he’d used his old legal name for his vows.

          1. Not Australian*

            I can relate to that. I totally hated my low-effort middle name all my life until I finally came up with enough spare money to change it legally. People told me it wouldn’t make any difference, but it absolutely *does*; now, instead of feeling embarrassed about giving my full name, I get to feel good about the choice I made. [Even having my parents explain the reason for their decision didn’t help: there was just too much potential for humiliation and teasing and I was extremely glad to get rid of it.]

            1. londonedit*

              Sometimes I do consider changing my first name – either to the shortened version that I always use anyway, or possibly to a different name that the shortened version would work with, like say I always use the name Mel and I changed my name from Melanie to Melissa. But I think my parents (particularly my mum) would be really upset so I’ve never done it. I just make sure my ‘full name’ is only ever on my birth certificate, passport and driving licence, nothing else public-facing.

              1. After 33 years ...*

                I’ve also considered legally changing my longer first name to my preferred shorter version. However, past experience indicates that some people will continue to use the longer form, regardless of what I do legally, and even after multiple corrections.

                1. LittleMarshmallow*

                  It’s so weird to me that someone would insist on calling a person by a name they’ve been told is wrong. I only ever ran into one person where I get why no one called him by his correct name… it was because he refused to say it slowly enough that the people trying to figure it out could hear it properly. Now I get that it must be annoying to have to teach people to pronounce your name but if you care that they do and there is a crossover in language/ accents you may have to be patient about it. We have a guy at work now where there are 2 ways people pronounce his name. Unfortunately both groups think they are saying it right because when he pronounces it that’s what they hear and can pronounce also. People are trying. I always feel really bad when I can’t quite get someone’s name right or if I find out I’ve been saying it wrong. I promise it’s not intentional and I will change as best I can as soon as I know!

                  Again… all that said, if someone says I don’t go by Val, call me Valerie, and you keep calling them Val then, well, you’re possibly a jerk. Haha.

            2. Indigo a la mode*

              I admit I’m intrigued to know what constitutes a low-effort middle name. Is it “Middle?” Is it something silly and cutesy to create a longer name or phrase, like “Ben Ja Minh” or “Stu The Topp?”

              My first and middle names are about as 90s as it gets, but I’ve never heard this term before.

          2. I should really pick a name*

            I’m kind of fascinated by this. Why couldn’t he use his preferred name for the vows? Isn’t it what’s on the paperwork that matters?

            1. Anonymath*

              Not all countries are like the US, which allows non-governmental bodies to carry out weddings in whatever manner they choose!

              1. I should really pick a name*

                To my knowledge, weddings aren’t regulated, only marriages. The regulated portion being the signing of whatever documents are needed. I’m not clear if the actual words spoken matter or not.

                (Also, I’m not in the US)

          3. The Lexus Lawyer*

            What country is this? That sounds strange actually. I was married in two different countries, and yes my full name is on the legal paperwork, but I didn’t have to say it in the vows nor list it on the invitations or anything public facing

            1. Jez*

              It’s a thing in England! A friend of mine is known by one name to friends, and another to family. She had to use her family name (which she dislikes) during the legal bits of the ceremony, but the rest of the time she used her friends name.

        2. Bagpuss*

          My dad goes by his middle name (always has, had his first and middle name been the other way round it would have given him a slightly unfortunate set of initials) he was one of the witnesses for my brother’s wedding and the officiant used his first name when asking him to come forward, which meant that there was a brief pause while everyone worked out who she was asking for. . .

        3. It's Growing!*

          It wasn’t until high school graduation that my older brother realized he had the same first name as our father and grandfather. Everyone called him by his middle name; the 3 men all had different middle names. When he joined the Navy, he switched to his legal first name (they don’t care what Mama calls you). So family called him Middle Name and the rest of the world called him Legal First Name. Eventually I noticed that my father’s siblings called Dad by his middle name too – same reason.

      2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        I am an Elizabeth who goes by Beth. I get called by one of the 100 nicknames for Elizabeth at work daily. By people who have exchanged emails with me, been in meetings where I introduce myself and then 10 minutes later call me Liz. My take is that people call me the name they associate with Elizabeth based on their own friends, experiences etc.

        For people I am just working on a project with, or isn’t part of my core team, I ignore it, sign each of my emails Beth and usually they eventually get it (this is after I introduce myself of course I am not being shy about my name.)

        With closer team members I bring it up. I used to run a team where I regularly led and spoke at calls for an entire division with the leadership team. 400 people heard my name and me introduce myself monthly and heard the executive team call me by my name 100 times in those meetings. 25% still called me the wrong nickname of Elizabeth.

        I always ask people what name they prefer – we all should! Not every David is Dave, or Jennifer a Jenny, or Elizabeth a Liz.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I use my full name. It is unusual for anyone to try to shorten it, beyond an initial inquiry. Then there are the people who take it upon themselves to use “Dick.” I understand this as a deliberate provocation.

          1. LarryFromOregon*

            Wow, either that’s hyper-sensitive, or you’re doing something to inspire folks to tick you off!

            “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
            —Robert J. Hanlon

            And Hanlon is himself being provocative. Might be better to attribute actions to foolishness or sloppiness—which most of us encounter far more often than malice.

            1. DrSalty*

              Idk, I feel like “dick” in this day and age is more commonly associated with a pejorative vulgarity than a first name. Maybe it depends on the age of the people you associate with.

              1. Sorrischian*

                Agreed. If they were shortening it to “rich”, I’d be more likely to give them benefit of the doubt, but “dick”, specifically – yeah, that’s a dick move (pun fully intended, sorry not sorry).

              2. Metadata minion*

                Yeah, I’d side-eye anyone using “Dick” unprompted as a nickname for Richard unless they were over 70.

            2. Nameless in Customer Service*

              In practice, why does it matter if someone’s motive is malice or mistake? Either people have the right to be addressed as we choose, or we don’t. I don’t see any practical reason why Mr. Hershberger must be addressed as “Dick” and at least one practical reason not to — he finds it annoying, and I find that sufficient.

              (Also, the gratuitous victim-blaming swipe does not help your case.)

            3. Richard Hershberger*

              Step one: presume to use a nickname for me without asking. Step two: presume to choose which of the various possibilities to use, again without asking. Step three: choose the one that also can be derogatory slang. At this point, malice is the more economical interpretation.

              In practice this is an internet thing, not a face to face thing. No one does this while also complimenting my wit and insight. It is a failed attempt at clever trolling.

              1. Eat Dirt, Jim*

                My high-school principal went by “Dick” and I always assumed he did it to stymie the would-be teenage wits. Calling a Richard “Dick” without being invited to is indeed a dick move.

              2. Oakenfield*

                You are correct. My Grandmother only called my Grandpa Richard “Dick” when she was mad at him.

            4. biobotb*

              Have you known a lot of Richards who choose to go by Dick, or something? It’s very rare for people nowadays to choose it; why would someone assume it’s someone’s preferred nickname?

          2. Apt Nickname*

            Fun fact, Richard is my dad’s nickname and he also goes by Rich. No part of his legal name is Richard, it just rhymes with his last name. I think I was about 12 when I figured it out. He was named after his father but Grandpa always went by his middle name, so that was extra confusing.

        2. EPLawyer*

          THIS. Same problem. I introduce myself by my full name, I sign emails with my full name. If asked I say I prefer the whole thing. Inevitably, someone shortens it. UGGGH.

          If someone gives you their name, USE IT. Don’t pick what YOU think they should be called.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I am always shocked by how hard this is for people. I have a double first name (hypothetically, Mary Elizabeth). It’s in my signature, in my email address, and it’s what I sign my emails with. I’m used to lazy people just calling me “Mary” (because, and I quote from multiple people, “Mary Elizabeth is too LOOOONG”) , but it’s kind of shocking how many emails I get addressed to “Elizabeth”.

            1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

              I used to act in theatre with a girl named Mary Ellen Brown. Her mother always said she knew which friends of hers were on the phone, because her theatre friends always asked for “Mary Ellen” and her other friends just asked for “Mary.”

          2. Chirpy*

            THIS. I have a short name which has no shorter form, AND YET. People just leave the last syllable off because “it’s too hard” or they think I need a nickname or something. And some people do it no matter how many times I tell them not to. It’s incredibly rude.

          3. Very Social*

            If someone gives you their name, USE IT. Don’t pick what YOU think they should be called.

            Louder for the people in the back!

        3. Jay*

          I have a friend named Betty. She introduced herself to me as Betty, her husband calls her Betty, etc. It never occurred to me to call her anything else. Then one day she was talking about work and said something about how her boss always figures “Liz will do it.” Turns out when she took her first job after college, she decided she wanted to be Liz. Five years later she married a guy she’d gone to high school with and moved back to her hometown where everyone knew her as Betty and it was too entrenched to change. So she’s Liz at work and Betty at home.

          1. It's Growing!*

            A young friend named her daughter Betty in honor of her much loved grandmother Elizabeth, called Betty. Little Betty is not Elizabeth, her legal name is Betty. Betty is about old enough for school now and I’ve wondered how often it will be assumed that is short for Elizabeth and shows up on paperwork.

            1. Free Meerkats*

              I have a full name that is also a nickname for a different full name; something like my real name is Gene, not Eugene. At a previous job, one of the admins constantly referred to me as Eugene, registered me for conferences as Eugene, and sent official paperwork to Eugene. This continued after I corrected her, my manager corrected her, the plant manager corrected her, and HR corrected her.

              I gave up and just did my best to ignore her for the rest of my time there.

            2. Scout*

              I don’t think most people these days will automatically make a connection from Betty to Elizabeth. I am solidly middle-aged and had no idea for the longest time that certain names, like Betty and Molly, originated as nicknames.

              It shouldn’t matter for school, as her parents will be filling out the registration.

          2. Aggretsuko*

            I’ve heard of that kind of thing happening before, a friend of mine in school changed her name when she moved, but then the family moved back to the old area and she just gave up on the name change.

            Kind of why I never changed mine, really. I have a super common first name and I debated going by my middle name, but the family wouldn’t really deal with that well.

          3. Mr. Shark*

            I have a friend who is a Jr., and always went by a nickname because he had the same name as his father. But then suddenly he decides he no longer wants to go by his nickname, introduces himself to all his new friends by a shortened version of his actual name.
            It’s been tough to change over to his shortened version of his actual name after all these years of using his nickname, but hey, it’s his choice.

          4. BlueSwimmer*

            I have worked with not one but two women who did something like this with their names. Both went by their middle names when I worked with them, and then both changed back to their first names when they went on to new workplaces. In both cases, they were apparently known to friends and family by their first names but for some reason used their middle names at our workplace. These were adult women, not just starting out at an age where maybe you would try out a new name, and all of their possible names were very nice names.

          5. Pickwick Picnic*

            I have a longer, classic name (like Josephine) and my parents always envisioned me using my full name or a couple of nicknames like Josie, but never, ever Jo. Unfortunately when they brought me home, my older sibling could only say “Jo” so Jo I became for my entire childhood. I never liked the name Jo, but once people heard it, they would always call me Jo rather than Josie or Josephine. Every time. Even teachers. I tried to switch in high school, but too many people already knew me as Jo.

            I went to college 1000 miles away and was Josephine there, but I moved back home after college and ended up marrying my high school sweetheart. His whole family still calls me Jo, and so do all my old friends but I have a hard and fast rule that no one who met me as an adult is allowed to call me Jo (including new SOs of old friends). It actually works pretty well, even if I have to say “it’s Josephine really” after an old friend introduces me to someone new as “Jo.”

        4. parsley*

          I always default to the full name on the email whenever speaking to new people, and then take my cues from whatever they sign off as in their email signature. I can’t say it’s ever steered me wrong!

        5. OtterB*

          I am Elizabeth with an uncommon nickname. My daughter is Elizabeth, usually called Beth. Her class in school included an Elizabeth-called-Liz and an Elizabeth-called-Elizabeth so there was seldom a mixup on nicknames. The year she spent as a barista, she did end up as Lizard to her coworkers.

          1. JustaTech*

            In my high school class at girl’s school we had so many Elizabeths (15? 20?) that all but three just went by their last names. The three were Liz since kindergarten, Beth since kindergarten, and poor Elizabeth L, who shared a last name with a teacher, so we couldn’t just shout her last name across the courtyard and get the right person.

        6. Beth II*

          I am Beth, but not Elizabeth. It’s crazy though how often people assume that it is Elizabeth. I even received some documents from college with that name and I have never put it on anything (why would I, it’s not my name.)

          If I see a fullname on something, I will call that person that until the point out that they go by something else. Like on signatures on emails. My maiden name AND my married name are also eastern european which is hard for people and is constantly mispronounced, so I do my best to make sure I am calling someone and pronouncing the name properly.

        7. Mr. Shark*

          I know some e-mail addresses allow you to put in a nickname as the main name, but still keep the full name as the e-mail address.
          When my company was bought by another company, they actually put in my “nickname” as my name, and it has stayed that way, even though the nickname is used on my travel documents (as you said, the example would be my full name is David, but my e-mail and everything at work shows Dave). It hasn’t been an issue, but something like Elizabeth and Beth could be more of a problem. But if your company can make your e-mail beth.username@company.com, rather than elizabeth.username@company.com, then hopefully that would straighten things out.
          But I’ve also went through where I used the shorter name of a co-worker, and then he responded with my full name. Eventually this passive-aggressive method worked, and I realized I wasn’t addressing him by his full name, which was his preference, so I changed the way I was addressing him, and he went back to the way I wanted to be addressed as well.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        My family is rife with people with the same first names, and many of us grew up in a time before “preferred name” fields were common and got tired of correcting people to nicknames, middle names, or nicknames from middle names (that would be me). My mother is the only person who calls me by my full middle name, and if anyone else uses it, it literally does not register with my brain that they are speaking to me (same as when my mother uses my full first name, I assume that she is referring to the relative after whom I was named and not me).

        Things like weddings and baby showers are interesting because I have people there who know me by 3-4 different names and watching them all try to figure out that they’re talking about me is amusing, even though we do warn them. Let’s say I’m Mary Elizabeth (I’m not) – my friends/coworkers call me Mary, most of my family calls me Beth, and my mother calls me Elizabeth. (My favorite aunt Mary calls me Lizzie but anyone else who called me that would get punched.)

        This is why I hate family first names and am a big proponent of giving your kid a first name you actually intend to use and isn’t the same as people they will see regularly.

        1. Kate*

          On my mom’s side of the family there are only three names used for naming boys (they are all names that will always be on the top ten names). I roll my eyes at it all the time – five cousins named “Mark,” 8 cousins named “Tom,” etc.

        2. KateM*

          I’m a big proponent of “give your child their own name not a hand-me-down one”, but we got trapped ourselves – we gave one of our children the same first name as one of my cousins whom we didn’t see very often (not named after them, I call it “relatives may happen to have similar taste in names”) – and then guess what, they had a baby just about the same time as us and as a result we meet much more often than we used to (still just once or twice a year, though). But while that was a popular name in my cousin’s generation, it is totally out of fashion now so there isn’t another child in whole huge school who’d have the same name.

    2. UKDancer*

      Same I have a fairly long name (something like Isabella) and I’ve never answered to any of the common shortenings so I don’t recognise them as being me. If I’ve had colleagues try and shorten my name I tend to just say “I go by Isabella not Bella and prefer not to have my name shortened.” The only time it was a problem was when I worked for someone who decided to call people what he wanted rather than what they did.

      1. Jay*

        I have the opposite problem. My first name is Jenni. Not Jennifer. Jenni. That’s my legal name. I have spent much of my life explaining that to people, including the SAT proctor and the woman who issued our marriage license (should have put that one in the “abusing your little bit of power” thread). The first place I worked when we moved here had a first-name culture, but people who didn’t know me well felt uncomfortable using what they thought was my nickname so they called me Jennifer despite the fact that my actual name was on my official ID. When I started my current job, IT put me in the system as Jennifer. They then informed me it was impossible to change. Um. Seems like it would be good if my ID, Email, and business cards matched my professional license, don’t you think? Turns out it was possible.

        And then there’s the i. People get very confused about the i. Shouldn’t it be a y? Shouldn’t there be an e on the end? So they remember that there’s something weird about the way my name is spelled but they can’t remember exactly what, so they take away one of the n’s or stick the i on the end of my last name or – it’s amazing how many ways there are to screw up a five-letter name.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          My son’s name is Jack. One of the credit reporting bureaus decided it was John. When he tried to fix it, they wouldn’t let him because he couldn’t prove he was John Lastname. It did get sorted out eventually but he was rightfully peeved.

      2. eisa*

        I have sort of given up on that ..
        I always sign myself :longname: and would actually prefer my coworkers to use :longname:, because :shortname: is for my friends.
        Thing is, a friend of mine joined my company, he called me :shortname: and referred to me by :shortname: and even though he left the company a long time ago, the name has stuck and perpetuated itself; people who joined long after my friend left also call me :shortname: because they heard others do it. (kind of like the story about the group of monkeys)

        I have decided it is not a hill to die on; however when people call me by an actually wrong variant of :longname:, I always correct them.
        Another line I drew was when a colleague in a somewhat elevated role put :shortname: into an official online document, where the usual convention is to use an abbreviation of first and last name .. I was vocal in my objection to that and it was changed ;-)

      3. tangerineRose*

        I have a 3-syllable name that’s fairly popular in my generation, so I am very unlikely to respond to most of the nicknames for it. Mostly because I went to school with several others with the same name and different nicknames. I hear a particular nickname and don’t think it applies to me.

    3. an Elspeth (not usual screenname)*

      I’m an Elspeth, and boy oh boy do people not like the “sp” consonant cluster in the middle of a word, despite doing just fine with words like “spell”.

      I’m..tolerant…of people mispronouncing it by turning it into three syllables and sticking an extra vowel in the middle. I’d rather they actually get it right, but the “ELS-e-peth” pronunciation is just… It’s fine. I recognise it as my name, I know that certain sounds can be awkward to pronounce, it’s whatever.

      What is absolutely not fine is people deciding it’s “too weird” and trying to make me into an Elsie – lovely name, absolutely not my name. Or, for a memorable few weeks at school aged about 11, people trying to call me Ellie. What the HELL you guys, we have SEVEN Ellies in my school year alone, why would you try to MAKE MORE?! Also, that’s not my name and I never once responded to it. At least it was just other kids and not the teachers.

        1. an Elspeth (not usual screenname)*

          We had. So many Ellies. A variety of Ellie-on-the-birth-certificate, Eleanor, Elena etc. Just a late ’90s baby boom of Eleanors and related variants.

          I had a perfectly good and unique name right there, we didn’t need yet another Ellie added to the list. It felt like such an outrage aged 11?

      1. The Lexus Lawyer*

        I like that name. I’ve only seen Elspeth one other time. She’s a character in a book by the same author who wrote The Time Traveller’s
        Wife

        1. an Elspeth (not usual screenname)*

          Thank you! It’s the Scottish variant of Elizabeth, but even in Scotland it hovers somewhere around the 4-500th most popular, so pretty uncommon and even more so outside of the country – living in England, I’ve met four or five others in the last quarter of a century or so

        2. JanetM*

          There’s also an Elspeth who is a major character in several of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books.

          1. Manchmal*

            My favorite character in the show The Good Wife was Elsbeth Tassione played by the incomparable Carrie Preston. God I loved that show.

    4. HannahS*

      Yeah, it’s really not a big deal. I have an uncommon foreign name that’s difficult to pronounce* (not Hannah IRL) and I’ve corrected people many times and it’s fine. Generally, most people are not trying to be jerks! When I meet a new Jessica and someone else calls her Jess, I’ll generally just call her that if I’ve heard it once…but a few weeks later I might wonder, wait, did I hear it? Or was I talking to Alice from the other department and she mentioned our mutual friend Jess and because it happened at work I got confused and applied it to new-Jessica? If you’re new Jessica, just end a conversation with, “OK, no problem…by the way, I go by Jessica, not Jess.” Or at the morning meeting, “Hey, a couple of people have called me Jess–I actually go by Jessica, thanks.” Most likely response will be “Oh, I’m sorry,” or, “Thanks for letting me know,” or both.

      *It’s not actually difficult to pronounce–all the sounds exist in English–but it’s a foreign spelling and people panic and then cannot seem to get it right.

      1. Anonym*

        Ooh, I’ve had the “other people called them by this nickname but is it real” worry many times! I try to stick with however people sign their emails, but have definitely found out at least once that a colleague hated the name everyone called them at work, been mortified, and then gotten their permission to use their preferred name and correct people. But it took years before I found out!

        I have a name that has several common variants in addition to a nickname. I’m not bothered when people call me by a variant (people inevitably seem to stick with whatever version someone closer to them has had, often despite best efforts and apologies), but am weirded out when they jump to the nickname. We’re not close; please don’t, it makes me uncomfortable. Only my oldest friends and cousins call me that, and you are not my friend…

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          The “name or nickname” question comes up a lot with my students. I always ask in the first class “Do you prefer (long name) or (short name)?” and often get a shrug, “It doesn’t matter” or “(long name), I guess.” So I dutifully use (long name) but then hear all the other students using (short name) and I never know quite what to do. I usually go with whatever name they write on their work, but that’s not always consistent either.

          1. Esmae*

            God, I had a now-friend introduce herself with THREE variants of her name that I could choose from (think “Samantha, Sami, Sam, whatever”). So much anxiety.

        2. Loredena*

          Oh gods. My name is not commonly shortened but there is a diminutive my younger sister used when she couldn’t pronounce my name correctly yet. Occasionally she or our brother will still use it. One year I had a coworker start calling me the diminutive. Mildly irksome in person it was entirely confusing on the phone when I would momentarily think my brother had called!

    5. Elsa*

      I have the opposite problem – my legal name is the shortened version of a longer name (eg Pat). I often have to tell people that my short name is my real name. It’s a pain when filling out forms because doctors/DMV/etc mistakenly correct me.

      1. eisa*

        To understand this joke, there are the German names Johann/Hans, Josef/Sepp, Kurt (complete name)

        First day of primary school, the teachers asks the children to introduce themselves.

        Boy #1 pipes up “I am called Hans.”
        The teacher corrects him “No, we say Johann.”

        Boy #2 says “I am Sepp!”
        Teacher : “no, we say Josef.”

        Teacher points at Boy #3 : “What is your name ?”

        Boy #3 : “Jokurt!” (yoghurt)

    6. BethDH*

      I once called someone by a nickname they don’t use for a while. I could have sworn they introduced themselves that way, and I figured their email signature was just more formal (common for people in my field, where the email signature is often the name you publish under).
      I felt horrible when I found out and wished they had corrected me. As far as I can tell, what happened was that they were somewhat soft spoken and I only heard the first syllable of their name, which happens to be a common nickname. But if they’d said “oh, I prefer Kaitlyn, not Kate” it would have been so easy to switch weeks earlier.

      1. Blonde Spiders*

        It really is this simple! I’ve only been correcting people for about 10 years now, but I really wish I started early. (Brittany/Britt) Only my father called me Britt, and he passed on many years ago.

        The thing that galls me is when people choose a nickname for you. I had a co-worker call me Britt in an email, even though no one else had ever referred to me that way. I think she was doing it in imply some closeness or friendliness, which I did appreciate. I just wrote back a quick line (I actually prefer Brittany, thanks.) in addition to answering her question. She never forgot!

    7. Nonke John*

      LW3 (and others), I doubt this is much consolation, but having a monosyllabic, easy-to-pronounce name wouldn’t defend you from determined manglers. My name is Dean. Its popularity boomlet waxed and waned about the time of my birth, but it’s still familiar, simple, and phonetic.

      Life is already complicated. When my signature or I say I’m “Dean,” I have no idea why people feel the need to exert themselves to invent non-standard diminutives: Deano (as if I were an aspiring Brat Pack member), Deanie (as if there were a delicious gay subtext to the Shaun Cassidy records of my childhood), and others far too grotesquely winsome for my personality. I actually almost prefer the people who just vaguely remember it’s a short *D* name and call me Dave or Don or Dan; at least they’re repeating exactly what they think I told them.

      Anyway, Alison is right: Lots of people in the US assume that everyone wants to be addressed as familiarly as possible, and one cheerful correction is usually all it takes for them to remember that you don’t.

    8. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. I do NOT go by a common nickname for my name. If anyone uses it I just correct them as has been suggested and move on. I also have my preferred name in my signature line and anywhere else that it might be seen around the office. Please correct this guy, OP. Doesn’t need to be a big deal, but he should call you by the name you want.

  5. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    LW#3 I perpetually have this problem. I go by a diminutive, but my full name isn’t what you’d expect. Think like Allie being short for Alexandra instead of Allison. The amount of times I have to correct people that in spite of the diminutive being on my email, my LinkedIn profile, and basically everything except legal paperwork…and they still try to say “Allison.” I’m usually just polite and say, “My name is not Allison. I go by Allie.” Sometimes I have to repeat it three or four times before they get it. The worst was a sixth grade teacher who could not get it no matter how many times I corrected her. I feel your frustration.

    1. londonedit*

      I had a friend at school whose first name was Jessie. Not Jessica, just Jessie. On her birth certificate and everything. She had so much trouble getting teachers to call her Jessie, because so many of them were of the ‘students must be called by their full name’ opinion and it was incredibly difficult for her to get them to understand that her full name WAS Jessie. I remember one teacher insisted on calling her Jessica anyway because otherwise ‘everyone in the class will want to be called by a nickname’ *facepalm*

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I had some slightly similar. I’m from the South and double first names for girls and women are common. But, I was started out as First name, middle initial. and it sounds like it is a double name.

        I was so glad that I was able to drop the middle initial when I went to Jr. High. Some family still called me by the First name, middle initial until they died.

      2. T-rex*

        My mom has a similar name, and one time *I* lost points at school for it. We had an assignment where we had to write our parents’ full names, and my teacher marked my mom’s name as incorrect and I lost points. When I protested, she said I was wrong because [my mom’s name] was a nickname and not a full name. No amount of insisting would convince her otherwise, so I had to bring a letter from my mom explaining that yes, that was her full legal name.

        1. KRM*

          Oh, I once had to spell my mom’s maiden name when opening a bank account (in person, in the 90s!) and the clerk looked at me when I spelled “schulz” and said “that name usually has a T in it”. Yeah, guess what buddy, this one doesn’t. I think I know my own mother’s maiden name.

          1. londonedit*

            My partner’s surname is a very common name but with a slightly unusual spelling (like Smyth instead of Smith). I’ve been in places like banks with them where the cashier has actually told them they’ve spelt their own name wrong. It’s baffling.

            1. Elle Woods*

              I feel your partner’s pain. I’ve spent my entire life spelling out my last name and reconfirming that yes, that’s how it’s spelled.

          2. generic_username*

            Haha, my mom’s middle name sounds like a last name (because it’s her mom’s maiden name) and her last name sounds like a first name so whenever she had to fill out the forms at the banks with the name as “Last, First Middle” she would invariably be called back up to “correct it.” She hated it because the clerks were always so condescending

            1. LegalEagle*

              My middle name is also my mom’s last name! I think it’s a more common practice now, so I never get pushback but I do get some confusion. I had a friend who’s parents did the same thing, but his mom’s last name was a feminine sounding first name, so he didn’t broadcast his middle name that often.

          3. Schuyler*

            A branch of my mom’s family (her first cousins) has the surname Schulz, and it’s like people can’t help themselves trying to add the T!

            1. NoviceManagerGuy*

              I have a similar problem, where people really want to add a letter to my last name. People have copied it down wrong off of my driver’s license.

          4. Jez*

            My grandad had 5 daughters. At some point he seemed to forget how to spell his surname – 2 of them ended up with an e on the end, and the other 3 didn’t have it. The end result was that everyone in the family was a bit haphazard with putting the e on the end – so answering the question about my mother’s maiden name is never simple!!

          5. Bananarama*

            My mom’s family’s name is long and Polish. Her granddad legally shortened it to a five-letter abbreviated version more than a decade ago, and her legal surname is the shortened version. I don’t know exactly how to spell the long version!

        2. CM*

          “my teacher marked my mom’s name as incorrect”
          Mind blown.
          I never understand these stories of people refusing to call others by their chosen name — they remind me of the letters where someone says, “I really don’t like when my coworker calls me Sir,” and there are always commenters saying, “I don’t care how much you hate it, it’s POLITE and therefore I will do it” which makes zero sense. A teacher deducting points because she assumes you don’t know your own mother’s name is next-level!

          1. T-rex*

            It was pretty absurd, and I was 12 or 13- well old enough to know what my parents’ names were. She just kept saying “That is not a name, it is a nickname. You need to put her full, legal name.” I hope she felt embarrassed when she got my mom’s note which essentially said “yes, this is something I’ve dealt with my entire life. That is my legal name.”

            1. Margaretmary*

              Yikes, I was assuming you were about 5, when it would be reasonable to assume a child might misspell or not know a parent’s name. Would still be obnoxious for her to react the way she did, but it would at least make some sense that she would assume the child wrong. At 12 or 13, it’s beyond bizarre.

              1. Observer*

                It gets even better when teachers actually “correct” the parents. That didn’t happen to me, but to a friend of mine.

            2. ScruffyInternHerder*

              Oh jeez. At least I was in first grade when the nonsense over the spelling of my middle name went down.

          2. Suzanne (not Susan)*

            A teacher friend one year got a kindergartener named Vagina. I don’t know what happened there. As the teacher, I might have gone for Gina.

        3. LW 3*

          Ha, I had nearly the same happen to me! My dad has an unusual name that could be a shortened version of two more well-known names. My teacher insisted I had it wrong, but thankfully didn’t deduct any points!

        4. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Similar. I was marked down for the spelling of my middle name being incorrect. Its my Mom’s nickname. Mom’s nickname IS spelled a little differently than the commonly accepted versions of the nickname, but its on my birth certificate.

          It was not the first, second, or even third instance of power tripping by the first grade teacher in question, and Mom may have gone a little bit overboard, but you know what? There was never another question about the spelling of my name again.

      3. Oryx*

        I had a friend who went by Shelly, but her first name was Rachelle (pronounced RA-shell). First day of school the teacher told her that she must be mistaken and her name was Rochelle. Shelly tried to argue but the teacher would not be convinced and then Shelly went home and got her mom involved to correct the teacher.

      4. newgrad sadgrad*

        My name is along the lines of Isabelle which people assume is actually Isabella (as in, it’s rarely actually short for that name but people misread/assume constantly). There were several Isabella’s in my year at school so I didn’t respond to the name.
        Once had a teacher call out for Isabella and then argue that while I “might prefer Isabelle, Isabella is the name on my birth certificate” when I didn’t respond.
        My sassy 15 year old self said something like “I’m not sure how you’d know that without stealing my birth certificate, and if you had you’d know that’s not my name!”
        She proceeded to spell out my name to me from the register. She trailed off as she realised she’d misread it and I am in fact, called Isabelle.
        (In the room, there was the equivalent of an Isabella, a Bella, an Izzy, and a Belle, I was the only one who went by Isabelle)

        1. Observer*

          She proceeded to spell out my name to me from the register. She trailed off as she realised she’d misread it and I am in fact, called Isabelle

          That is WONDERFUL!

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And to think we all thought the MASH episode was ludicrous where everyone refused to believe that BJ’s first name was actually BJ.

        1. wendelenn*

          Hawkeye tried his damnedest to figure out what BJ stood for. Finally it turned out it was from Bea and Jay–his parents’ names.

    2. LegalEagle*

      I go by my diminutive exclusively, including in published work. It feels so unnatural and odd whenever someone uses my government name, and I’ve found that everyone is receptive to a brief correction. But I once worked in an office that was staffed almost entirely by people who went by diminutives or their middle names, but all our emails were autocreated based on our government names. Not only did it mean we got a lot of emails addressed to names we didn’t go by, but people who knew us often wouldn’t send their emails to the right address because they didn’t think about the fact that Mandy was actually an Amanda and MandyLastName wasn’t an email in the system.

    3. Observer*

      The worst was a sixth grade teacher who could not get it no matter how many times I corrected her.

      Based on my experience with an unusual name, I suspect that the problem was not that she “didn’t get it” but that she didn’t believe that you actually knew your own name. Yes, that’s ridiculous, but I’ve seen that happen.

  6. Viette*

    OP#1 – take the job and break up as roommates. It’s a bummer but you sound very understanding, and the job sounds more important to you than continuing to be roommates with this specific person. Good roommates are awesome but, hey, so are good jobs!

    OP#4 – it’s so normal. “it seems to me that everyone will be waiting until the end of the year to take time off if you have to wait for it to add up” — I think most sick time is just taken here and there, a day or two for when you’re unexpectedly ill. Planned things like surgery, as Alison says, you can usually work something out with unpaid time or time in advance. Plus, you get half of it upfront, so if you need a block of time off, you have that.

    The question kind of makes me wonder what’s the deal with sick time usage at this workplace and why people are so attached to it being all available immediately. What kinds of things do they use it for, normally?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      That struck me about #4, as well. It’s sick time, not PTO, so I’m not understanding the concern of everyone taking it at the same time at the end of the year. Honestly, even if it was PTO accruals, people aren’t typically waiting for their full allotment before taking that time either.

      1. londonedit*

        I don’t understand the idea of everyone taking sick time at the end of the year, because where I live/work sick time isn’t a ‘use it or lose it’ benefit, it’s there in the background in case you’re actually ill. I don’t have a set number of sick days per year in my current job, you just take time off if you’re ill. Obviously if someone’s taking a lot of time off sick then their manager/HR would want to meet with them to discuss what’s going on, but generally you just take the odd day here and there – you can self-certify for up to a week without a doctor’s note. For longer-term illness, or something like surgery, my employer offers 12 weeks’ sick leave at full pay once you’ve been there a year, and 15 weeks after two years. But that doesn’t mean I can take 15 weeks off every year, it’s not like holiday. It’s there for emergencies and you can’t use it unless there’s a medical reason.

        Holiday technically accrues but I’ve never worked anywhere where you’re not allowed to use the time until you’ve ‘earned’ it – the holiday year usually starts either on January 1st or April 1st and you have your holiday allowance available to you to be used any time within the year (in my case, 25 days, plus the 8 public holidays and the time between Christmas and New Year). So although you haven’t technically accrued 5 days in February, for example, you can absolutely take a week off then if you want to. If you join a company after the holiday year has started then you get a pro-rated number of days for the year, and if you leave the company then they pay out however much time you have remaining out of time accrued minus time used.

        1. Robin*

          The concept of meting out and measuring sick time is absolutely bizarre to me. Someone’s either sick, in which case they can’t come into work, or they’re not, in which case they can. If you’re choosing to be off work, that’s what leave is for. What happens if you’re sick for more than 10 days or whatever? If you’re sick for less than 10 days, are you expected to use the rest like leave? Why not just give you an extra 10 days leave and order you to never get sick? I can’t comprehend how anyone thinks this works.

          1. Callum*

            If you’re sick for longer than you have sick time, most employers provide short term or long term disability. The availability and amount of disability benefit varies by job though.

            What I find absolutely bizarre is that in the UK you apparently have to tell your employer why you’re taking sick time. I’m just glad that isn’t how it works in the US. I can’t comprehend why people think that’s acceptable, but I guess different countries have different ways of doing things.

            1. doreen*

              The disability part depends to an extent on the details of running out of your sick leave. There are at least sometimes waiting periods – in my state, it’s seven days and you can’t get disability benefits while you are on paid sick leave. If I get ten days of sick leave and am out six weeks recovering from surgery, I will be eligible for disability benefits for some of that time. If I get ten days sick leave and am off a week in February for one illness, a week in July for a medical procedure and then three days in November for another illness, I will not be eligible for disability benefits and will either not be paid for those three days in November or will have to use vacation or some other leave time if I have any.

          2. Huh*

            Sick time can be used for planned time away too, like doctors visits. It’s not only for last minute “oh crap I don’t feel good” time away.

          3. alienor*

            It’s even weirder to me when schools do it. My daughter always got sick for a full week at least twice a year during primary school, usually once in the autumn and then again in January or February. Every year sometime in the spring, I’d get a threatening letter from the school saying that she’d missed too many days and I could face legal action if she missed any more. She’d had a fever on every day she’d missed, and the school’s own rules said not to send kids in if they were vomiting or had a temperature over 100.4, so I’m not sure what they wanted me to do. Kids get sick!

            1. Yarrow*

              I had something similar happen when I was in school. I had a bad case of mono and the school told my parents I couldn’t graduate, even though I’d somehow kept up with all the work and had a 4.25 GPA.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I think OP is conflating sick leave and PTO. Use or lose PTO I can see being taken all at once, but not sick leave. Now, granted, I don’t have “sick leave” here – it’s all one pot. But if I did have specific sick leave, I’d use it as intended – only when ill. I think the OP’s job providing half upfront is a good faith effort to take care of people. OP might also look at if the rollover rules have changed. But, yeah, it’s pretty standard to accrue leave of any kind slowly over the course of many pay periods. Something requiring short term disability or FMLA is a whole different level of paperwork.

        3. Letter writer #4*

          So, I work for a call center so the time off is used for whatever and it doesn’t carry over so it needs to be used by December 31 or you lose it. I personally have a chronic condition so I save mine for when I need to take time off for doctors appointments or surgery. I have only been able to do that because it wasn’t accrued. I have been attempting to find out if we can accrue in advance if needed, but nobody at HR seems to know what I am talking about.

      2. SK Midwest*

        Although in the US it is relatively common for people to plan their surgeries and other medical expenses for the end of the year. That has nothing to do with an accrued sick leave policy – it has more to do with most employers having switched to offering High Deductible Health Insurance. So people who have satisfied their deductible for this calendar year, want to get in the major medical expense before they have to start all over the next calendar year. Our health insurance system is really ridiculous.

    2. Double A*

      The only way it would be problematic is if it didn’t roll over, which would be odd for sick time.

      1. Ayla*

        Sick time normally rolls over? I didn’t realize that was a norm. (I’ve never had sick time separate from other PTO and am now realizing i dont actually know much about it!)

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I’ve never had a job where sick leave carried over, but all my full time jobs had sick leave front-loaded, while vacation was sometimes front loaded and sometimes accrued, so I don’t know if rolling over is standard.

          I do think that any system for time off that uses accrual needs to have some sort of roll-over to the next year. Otherwise you end up with a system where getting sick or taking vacation in January is a totally different situation than doing the same thing in November. If getting a bad flu or appendicitis in January means having to take unpaid leave (0r having to stagger into work sick), but the same thing in December doesn’t, that’s an unbalanced system.

          1. Viette*

            I do agree with this. I would think that having half the sick leave available up front ought to help a lot with that — presumably by December you’ve used some of your sick leave already, so then if you use up the rest and hit January and get half of it upfront there, you should be in an okay spot. Obviously nothing works for needing weeks and weeks off, but it provides a buffer.

          2. L.H. Puttgrass*

            Fed here. Our sick time accrues, rolls over, and has no cap. It also counts as service time for retirement calculations. People with long government careers can end up with an extra year of service time just from unused sick leave.

            It seems like the common sick leave systems are (1) pool of time given at the start of the year, doesn’t accrue, doesn’t roll over; (2) accrues through the year, rolls over, maybe with a cap; (3) use what you need, because we don’t want sick people coming into the office. Oh, and (4) everything is PTO—if you get sick, cancel your vacation plans. Of the above, the only one I really dislike is (4).

            1. DLW*

              I’m a county government employee and our sick time accrues with each pay period and also carries over. I currently have 91 accrued sick days. Vacation carries over with a cap of twice the amount of vacation you accrue per year (so if you accrue 20 vacation days a year, you can carry over up to 40 days). We also get 4 personal days of which 2 carry over.

            2. Bananarama*

              Mine is a weird hybrid of 3 and 4. Minor illnesses are 3…if I have a migraine or a cold and miss a few days. But if it’s an illness that’s covered by disability insurance and FMLA, our disability policy requires PTO to be used down to 40 hours before insurance will pay out, so you have to use PTO. (That may not be uncommon with 3’s)

          3. Anonym*

            My experience is like yours – we get the full set in January, but unused goes poof at end of year. We can carry over PTO/vacation for 3 months into the next year. It’s a large financial services firm with overall great benefits, and frankly salary is competitive enough that I don’t worry about not accruing leave year over year (though it would be nice!). I just try to use every last drop of it.

          4. Saberise*

            My husband old job the vacation was accrued the last day of the month but was a take it or loss it every year. Which meant every year he would earn a day on the last day of the year and loss it the next when it was reset to 0. Not only that but that last month was a busy time of the year so no one was allowed to take vacation at that time.

        2. Snow Globe*

          If sick time is accrued each week, then typically it would roll over, so you don’t just start back at 0 each January. There is often a maximum amount that can be carried over, so you don’t end up with someone who has 9 months of accrued sick leave. It sounds like this is a new system this year, which is why they started out giving everyone half the time up front; that might not be the case in future years.

        3. KRM*

          It can. My mom worked for a state university and they had sick days that can’t expire in their contracts. When she retired they paid out a month’s worth of sick time to her! Could have been a lot more, I think, but she used a ton when my dad was sick, along with her leave. So it can happen.

        4. kittymommy*

          At my place both our annual leave and our sick time roll over until you hit the cap then whatever is over the cap drops off at the end of the year. It’s actually pretty nice.

        5. missy*

          We have three buckets of PTO: sick, comp, and general. Comp time is accrued by working over 40 hours a week as an exempt employee (so we work 50 hours and bank 10 hours for later use). You can roll over 150 hours of PTO total from year to year. So sick leave rolls over, in a sense, as long as your overall PTO is under 150 hours.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        It’s pretty normal for sick time not to roll over.
        One argument against having it roll over is that it may encourage some people to come in when they’re sick to preserve the days.

        1. Anonym*

          Yeah, this argument is persuasive. I’m sure there are also more craven, bottom-line driven reasons as well, but anything that gets people to not come to work sick is a good thing in my book!

        2. doreen*

          Does that happen when sick time is a separate bucket ? I can see coming in sick (although I wouldn’t do it ) if taking sick time would affect my vacation ( like it would in a single bucket system). I can even see people taking vacation time instead of sick time for medical reasons if there is some benefit to having a lot of sick time when you leave a job (which used to happen at my former job). But it doesn’t make sense to me to come in sick three days this year so I can save those three days and possibly use them next year.

          Unless – do you maybe mean people have a different threshold for “sick” and would stay home with a headache if it doesn’t roll over but come in with a headache if it rolls over?

          1. I should really pick a name*

            Pretty much that.
            They might avoid using sick days for “minor” sick days and save up in case they’re floored by something later on.
            Probably more of an issue when sick time and vacation time come out of the same pool.

          2. LittleMarshmallow*

            Our sick time and vacation come out of the same bucket but the year they switched to that (PTO), they increased the number of days to account for it. I think it was like 5 days. So their thought is that they technically didn’t upset peoples vacation time, we are also allowed to carry 5 days over every year. So that 5 day rollover essentially becomes your sick days that you don’t use unless you need to, but it’s still available in the PTO bucket so if you leave and go for paying out PTO you get it paid which is sorta nice I guess. It was sort of a dramatic thing the first year cuz change is hard but now it’s just the way it is.

            I think in general there are some really awful ways to do sick time and vacation but there are a handful that are reasonable and within those ways people are still people. Some will abuse it, some will be scared to use it, most will be normal about it; some will like it, some will hate it, and most will be relatively indifferent about it. That silly bell curve.

      3. Sloanicota*

        I’m a bit puzzled that people seem to be fine with the idea that sick time taken early in the year should be unpaid. That would be completely unacceptable to me. What they should do is let you borrow against your future leave and “go in the hole.”

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Yes, I’ve never heard of that. It’s always been that you are accruing it throughout the year, but if you get behind due to some early in the year sickness, you just borrow against the future accrual.
          The only issue is if you quit during the year, then you would have to pay back if you received sick time but didn’t stay long enough to accrue what you’ve already been paid for.

    3. allathian*

      Yeah. But that said, the roommate may not be at all happy that their boss is their former roommate. So be prepared for your roommate to not be at all okay with you taking that job, and looking for another job elsewhere herself. Surely there are more graduate students than there are positions for graduate assistants? But if she does end up looking elsewhere, I hope you’ll be willing to leverage your network to help her find something else, LW.

    4. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I found the part with sick time odd too. Anywhere I’ve worked that had sick time accrue we had it rolled over. For example, at my current job, we get 5 hours per 2 weeks. If we don’t use it by end of December it rolls over. In fact it never expires and when you retire the balance goes towards your health insurance or something.

    5. Hannah Lee*

      For #4
      “What you’re describing is actually really common! The idea is that you you earn a certain amount of time off with every pay period — so if you get, for example, X weeks of time off for the year, you’d accrue 1/12 of that every month. The idea is to prorate your accrued time off according to how much you’ve worked — so you couldn’t, for example, take two weeks of paid off in January right after your time off front-loads and then quit right afterwards.”

      This makes sense, and is what I’ve seen most places I’ve worked. Where I work now, for hourly employees, their paid time off is a combined pool of sick leave/vacation/personal time. The combined pool takes away the employees’ need to justify ‘sick’ time use and the managers’ need to police that … if people need time off and they have time available, they can take time off (with advance approval for planned stuff like vacations, and on notice for emergencies or illness) Some accrues each pay period, and by the end of they year, employees have earned their entire amount (15 or 20 or 25 days depending on their length of service)

      The reason why we accrue a little at a time is that in our state, earned paid time off is considered wages, and has to be accounted for in the company’s financials and paid in full if the employee leaves for any reason. So if the whole yearly amount was granted on Jan 1st, someone could leave in February and the company would have to pay out any unused time. (having a separate ‘sick time’ bucket avoids this, but then we’d be back to the ‘were they really sick or just calling out’ stuff no one wants and a whole lot of extra record keeping that doesn’t add value here) Management is pretty flexible about allowing people to take time in advance of earning it if they need to. Or taking unpaid time later in the year or advancing on the next year (employee’s choice) if there’s an emergency, medical need, or once in a lifetime thing the employee couldn’t have planned for.

    6. biobotb*

      My company makes the total allowance of sick days (enough for a month off) available at the beginning of the year. The stated purpose is to cover the gap between full-time work and disability should an employee become ill/disabled enough to need it (apparently disability takes a month to kick in?). It’s a really nice cushion should something more than a mild cold strike someone.

  7. Cambridge Comma*

    OP2 already says that no other timeslot works, so I’m guessing moving to the weekend isn’t an option.
    As calling it an appointment could so easily come back to bite you, perhaps you could ask something like this: “Once in a while I take a long lunch to catch up with personal stuff, obviously making up the time later. Is that something that works here?”

    1. Liz T*

      Ugh sick time should NOT be accrued and it sucks that this is common.

      I don’t think any PTO should be accrued after the first year, but at least with vacation time you choose when you go on vacation. If you’ve only been working there a month and you get the flu, what are you supposed to do, choose to be sick a shorter amount of time???

      1. On the road again …*

        With my employers, past and current, I have always accrued time, and have been able to roll it over, but I can also borrow from the future. So if I start January with zero sick time available but have to take 2 days off, I’m 15 hours in the hole, but I’ll make up that time by mid March or so.
        If I quit on February 15 and have only earned 9 hours of sick time, my final paycheck will be reduced by the 6 hours I didn’t earn. That keeps people from taking a years worth of PTO in January and quitting before the year is up. There are a few special rules your first year or two; after that, for example, you can’t take unpaid time off unless it’s FMLA eligible.

      2. generic_username*

        I mean, depending on how accrual is done, accrual works better. I get 15 days of sick time a year, but can accrued up to 120 days of sick time. So if my sick time was given at the beginning of the year and didn’t roll over (which is the reason I see for not accruing) then I’d have max 15 days, but I have enough accrued now that I could be out for nearly 2 months on sick time.

        I actually like accrual better for my vacation as well. My husband gets it in a lump at the beginning of his fiscal year and then it expires at the end every year. We had to plan our wedding around it and then he wasn’t able to take vacation for nearly a whole year (we saved a few days for random long weekends)…. whereas I can have a bank of up to 33 days so I was just able to save my time off by taking fewer days during the two years leading up to our wedding and could take 20 days off for the wedding and honeymoon (to my husband’s 15)

    2. Viki*

      Also it’s unclear but I assume the OP is salaried but if they aren’t, and the job isn’t something that can really have hours made up, that’s an issue.

      But besides the point, calling a lunch date an appointment has disingenuous semantics. I’m 100% willing to move a meeting if it’s a medical issue. But because you want to have a longer lunch with a friend? I’m not keeping that in mind.

      Having the lunch date come out when you’re misleading what type of appointment is a sure way to burn some credibility.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        But I said she shouldn’t call it an appointment?
        Even if she’s salaried, wouldn’t she want to send the message that she’s not just going to work less those days?

      2. Willis*

        I wouldn’t have any problem working around someone’s one-a-month hour-long lunch. I would have a problem finding out someone I’d hired had been purposely misleading people to think that they had a monthly medical appointment that was actually lunch with a friend. Just get settled in a bit and then ask.

        1. MK*

          I wouldn’t mind working around a monthly lunch, when convenient. I wouldn’t schedule a meeting at the same time as your lunch date, if it was easy to do it another time. But neither am I juggling around times and schedules to accommodate a lunch date, if it’s the most reasonable time to schedule a meeting. Which I would do for an appointment, medical or otherwise necessary.

          That’s the issue with what the OP is proposing, as Alison said: people rearranging their schedule to accommodate a need, and then finding out it was socializing.

          1. londonedit*

            And I can absolutely see all the people who only ever get half an hour for lunch being really annoyed if they find out that ‘OP gets an hour for lunch one Thursday a month because they have an important appointment’ is actually ‘OP gets an hour for lunch one Thursday a month because they’re meeting up with a friend’.

            1. All the words*

              In my experience, the extra lunch time would be made up so they’re not getting any extra time off, just flexing their schedule a bit for the week.

      3. Antilles*

        For your second paragraph, if I have flexibility in scheduling my meeting, I wouldn’t mind at all picking a different time to work around someone’s lunch with a friend.
        Heck, I’d argue that general practice should be to avoid scheduling meetings between about 11:30 am and 1:00 pm local time when possible – it’s just being polite and recognizing that you work with humans with biological needs. And from a practical standpoint, I’ve found that meetings that stretch into lunch are typically less productive because people are mentally focused on lunch, avoid asking questions because they just want out of there, etc.
        So yeah, if there’s plenty of flexibility, I’d gladly work around someone’s lunch with a friend. BUT if the meeting really has to be at lunch time, I’d be irritated if I jumped through tons of hoops trying to work around your “appointment” and it turned out it was really just a social lunch.

    3. anonymous73*

      It’s not something you ask for immediately though. Unless it’s a standing medical appointment (or something similar), you shouldn’t ask to take long lunches once a month for personal stuff. Once you’ve been there a bit and see how things work, THEN you can start asking for exceptions to the norm.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      IDK. Is there really NOTHING else available on evenings or weekends? I could see how with a standing monthly workday lunch date there’s not as much incentive to free your time up once a month for other night time or weekend plans. But without them is there still not a single hour once a month available for cofee or a meal? I find that very doubtful.

      But even if there’s nothing else except not during work, the LW should not lie and misdirect that a friendly social lunch is a standing appontment which really implies a medical sort of situation. It’s not the kind of appointment that the company was referring to.

      1. doreen*

        I can imagine that there is nothing available evenings or weekends – it’s very possible that the two friends work close enough to each other for meet for lunch but live far enough away from each other and have other commitments that make weekends and evenings impractical.

        But I think the standing lunch at the new job has two separate issues – one is that the typical lunch at the new job is 30 minutes and the OP needs an hour. For a lot of jobs (not all) , even ones that require working a specified number of hours each day, a longer lunch one day can be accommodated by coming in earlier or leaving to make up the half-hour. The other issue is that “standing lunch date” to me means that I have lunch with my friend the first Thursday of every month from 12pm to 1pm or something similar. In most jobs I’ve had, that would be more difficult to arrange. We didn’t have meetings that start at 10 and last until 2 or anything like that – but it wouldn’t be uncommon to have a meeting scheduled to end at 12:30 or for someone to be scheduled for a meeting or training at another local office. I would try my best to work around a standing medical appointment – but a lunch date? I’d wonder why the person couldn’t reschedule the lunch for the second Thursday if there was a conflict with the first Thursday.

    5. higheredrefugee*

      I see a lot of people who avoid scheduling around things to accommodate a weekly or even twice weekly lunch exercise class or a daily run for their colleagues, that allows their colleagues a lunch hour to run errands once a week, do admin stuff for daily life or their volunteer gigs, etc., so I see this in the same category. I’d plan to skip the first month, and then hopefully, you’ll know how to phrase it/schedule it by then. Even if you just add it to your calendar each month the same afternoon after you met up with your friend, it is standing in your head, but won’t be on your calendar as a recurring appointment. There’s a good chance that at some point your friend’s job could make changes too that make it necessary to move days or to an early or late lunch, or to find a day that you cut out early and do an early dinner instead. You’ll figure it out, and know that this does vary by office.

      1. Smithy*

        Absolutely this.

        In my last three offices in the US at varying levels of seniority it would be 100% no problem to have a monthly 1 hour lunch. And in all three places, at all levels of seniority – bringing it up with my boss while being onboarded or during my hiring negotiation as an “appointment” would have the connotation of a medical/legal or otherwise serious accommodation need.

        However, because it would have been assumed to be a serious accommodation need – it would have made it awkward to talk about the lunch at work in a social context in the healthier offices where people would have loved to hear your restaurant recs. And in the more boundary pushing office, people still find ways to push and make a big deal about it. When taking a month or two to learn the office norms would make it clear it would be very easy to schedule an hour lunch a week out with minimal likelihood of needing to reschedule.

    6. Not A Girl Boss*

      I’m pretty surprised by all of the anti-lunch-‘appointment’ sentiments. I get that its probably not worth calling it an ‘appointment’ because of the risk of getting caught and the optics there, but I still see being matter-of-fact about a monthly long lunch as very reasonable.

      Honestly, I think we are way too obsessed with being available for meetings at all hours of the day. Unless you’re someone whos job it is to be in meetings 8 hours a day (manager, project manager, and even then they need individual work time), I think its reasonable and helpful to block off time to work independently, or to occasionally steal back some work-life balance.

      I work somewhere that a half hour lunch is the norm, but everyone avoids scheduling meetings for the full hour because people don’t all go to lunch at exactly the same time.
      I recently started going to the gym from 12-1:30, and people schedule around me, and its fine. It might be a small inconvenience, but many of them have work hours or other habits that are an inconvenience for me, so it all works out :). Occasionally there’s an emergency meeting and I adjust my schedule accordingly (I assume in much the same way LW could ask her friend to postpone to the next day?) but for the most part, no one bats an eye at having my calendar blocked off.

      1. Smithy*

        I would say that my pushback is more about how it’s being phrased and when it’s being flagged.

        I’ve been salaried for a long time at offices with varying degrees of clock watching, and even under the most irritating of places have been able to work out scheduling certain personal appointments/work-life balance on my work calendar. My advice isn’t so much about what this is called, but rather that its’ beneficial to learn a place’s work culture and then adjust.

        At a couple places, taking the occasion hour lunch out of the office, running a long personal errand, or going to the gym at lunch was fine – but far more so under a “don’t ask, don’t tell, have your phone close” policy. Where I am now, they’re far more open about middle of the day black outs, what they’re for, and having that be part of social office chit chat. The culture, language and approach to both workplaces is different, but the results are the same. And I think taking time to figure that out is valuable for someone new on the job.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I think it’s the term that people are reacting to. It is disingenuous to imply you have something “un-fun” or unchangeable to do at this time. If it were a class you attend, say you have a class. Since it’s a friend meeting, just test the waters and see if there are days that people take an extra half hour.
        OP doesn’t know how flexible it is. It might not even be an issue. But going into the situation obfuscating the purpose, it just doesn’t seem like it will turn out well for OP if the truth comes out.

    1. JSPA*

      “I have a standing monthly lunch meeting that’s equal parts social and staying connected to [plausibly relevant vaguely work-related connection]. I’d like to start my day 15 minutes early and end it 15 minutes late, to carve out an hour at lunch.”

      Then close your mouth.

      Your manager can say, “that sounds reasonable.” Or, “I’m afraid we don’t do that here.” Or, “so long as it’s not a Tuesday or the 2nd monday or the 1st and 3rd friday of the month, I don’t see it causing a problem.”

      It’s understood that friends are good for one’s mental health. It’s not OK to slide it through as a presumed medical appointment. The bit about “equal parts” provides your boss with an explanation they can use, if they need to justify it to their manager.

      If your manager says, “we’ll just note that down as an appointment, then”–you’re in the clear, and you now know how things work.

      1. MK*

        That’s fine as long as the OP’s friend is in the same field or a remotely related one. Otherwise “equal parts staying connected to work-related whatever” is just a plain lie that you may well be found out on. (Actually, it’s a lie either way, since the OP doesn’t do these lunches as networking. But as long as she isn’t inconveniencing her coworkers, meh)

        1. JSPA*

          It’s like a resume. You can point out how something that might seem irrelevant, isn’t.

          There are very few fields that don’t potentially intersect in some way. Graphic design and schoolteacher? Check. Advertising and…almost anything else? Check. Finance and nonprofits? Sure. Accounting and medicine? Why not.

          People do get insight into other slices of life though spending time together. That’s sort of basic to how friendship works, unless they sit in companionable silence, except for chewing noises.

          1. MK*

            If you put something in a resume that seems irrelevant and then try to justify putting it there by coming up with a stretch reason that it might be relevant, you won’t win any points.

            Also, your boss is likely not willing to give you a longer lunch break just so you can have a chat with someone from a field that potentially intersects with yours in some vague way. Or to get insight into how other people live in general. If you are asking for this as a semi-work-related appointment, you should be able to point out some concrete, even if remote, advantage to the company. Otherwise you will come across as someone who tries to socialize on company time.

        2. LittleMarshmallow*

          They don’t have to intersect. There are tons of soft skills that could be exchanged in meetings with friends like this. A new meeting format you want to share with your friend that you find value in, conflict resolution discussions, maybe friend manages and offers great people skills advice in general, is my company’s vacation policy weird (hehe), I could go on. I can guarantee that more than half of the questions/ issues on this site are from people that don’t intersect in my field but that doesn’t mean the situations aren’t sometimes still applicable. People are people no matter where you go.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        That feels like making it a bigger deal than it needs to be.

        “Is it okay if once a month I take a long lunch and make up the time by coming early/leaving late?”

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          I think this is the best approach I’ve seen so far! Asking about whether it’s okay to do this without mentioning what the reason makes the most sense to me, since if work is perfectly willing to accommodate time away from work during the day, which this place seems to be, I’d say it’s not relevant to then why you need the time away, especially not for such a small amount of time so infrequently.

        2. Loulou*

          Yes! If it’s okay, then just put “lunch” on your calendar and you’re done. If it’s not okay, then I guess you can’t have the lunch whether you call it an appointment or something else (though that would be really weird and u expected). Not sure why there needs to be all this subterfuge.

        3. Anonym*

          Yeah, this is it. Keep it simple. No lies or misleading implications, just clarifying what’s reasonable without freighting is with a whole bunch of other stuff. In many workplaces it will be just fine. Some not so much. But either way you’ll know without creating an unnecessary risk (and ethical dilemma, and worry) for yourself.

        4. Sloanicota*

          Yeah this is one of those situations that varies widely by field/office. I see some people shocked – shocked I say – by the idea that they might have to schedule around a “mere social lunch.” In my office, my boss puts her hair and gym appointments on the calendar mid-day and that’s fine. This is why Alison’s advice to skip lunch for the first month or two to get a lay of the land is good.

        5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Boom. It’s as simple as that. And I also think, give the job a month and see what other people do. You may find that people do take more time somedays and it’s fine.

    2. anonymous73*

      It really depends on how you ask. If my brand new employee came to me on day 1 and asked to take a longer lunch once a month to meet up with a friend for social reasons, that would make me wonder about their dedication to their job. But asking if there’s any flexibility with the lunch break (maybe coming in earlier on those days) would result in a different reaction. I’m all about management that trusts their employees and doesn’t watch the clock, but you also have to show that you can be trusted and won’t take advantage of that flexibility before you start making requests like this.

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        Why would it make you wonder about their dedication to the job? I don’t see a disconnect between being dedicated to a job and being dedicated to an important non-job activity that would take a half hour away from the job once a month.

        I fully agree the LW should ask about flexibility or something vague rather than asking for the half hour for a social thing because many people do have reactions like this, but I still don’t understand the reaction.

        1. anonymous73*

          Because it would indicate that the employee cares more about their social obligations in the middle of a work day than the work itself. I’m all about work/life balance, but when you’re new you have to read the room.

      2. WindmillArms*

        Taking an extra half an hour for lunch *once a month* would make you question someone’s *dedication to the job*!?

        OP2, set the first lunch a month out from your start date. Take note of how people manage little daily errands and do that (Do they just stay an extra half-hour at the end of the day? Do they block “OOO” on their calendars? Do they just let their boss know?). At a normal, function office without coverage-type issues, this is no big deal!

        1. CM*

          I was thinking the same thing. If the job is flexible and doesn’t require constant coverage, you’ll see your coworkers occasionally leaving to run errands, take a walk, etc. and it won’t be a big deal. If the job is inflexible and an extra half hour requires advance planning and permission, then you’ll probably have to reschedule your lunches or do them less often. Either way I don’t think you should bring it up now. Wait a bit until you figure out office norms.

        2. Sloanicota*

          This is like the advice not to ask about vacation/leave for the first one-to-three months on the job in order to not seem like you’re too fixated on PTO. I always find it a bit annoying now that I’m mid-level and have been working for ten years – but I hear a lot of people who are managers solemnly agree that it’s a bad sign, so I do follow the suggestion resentfully. I agree OP wouldn’t bring up their lunch needs on the first day or perhaps first month, just because the manager is watchful for any signs they’re a bad employee in the beginning.

      3. Scout*

        You have to prove your dedication and trustworthiness before altering your schedule by 30 minutes, once a month? This is why people hate management.

        When your new employees have to stay 30 minutes late, do you tell them to leave 30 minutes another day? Most managers accept employees working extra time as a matter of course, but want that petty power of having to grant explicit permission for the smallest amounts of time off. It’s a rare manager who is equal in the desire to have employees work their allotted time (not less, but also not more).

    3. Allyssa*

      While I am still working from home (so no travel time required), but I just recently changed jobs, and have a standing virtual lunch every other week with two friends (former coworkers), and now have a weekly virtual lunch with a someone who works for my current company now, but totally different orgs but we used to work together at a previous job. I’ve never said anything about it, and have simply added it to my calendar as blocked time. Same goes for my every other week therapy appointment. If I am swamped, or need to prep for a meeting or something like that I have no issue moving it (as long as it’s not happening on a regular basis, which would cause me to evaluate whether I am taking on too much). But honestly as an adult woman working a salaried professional job I would not be comfortable working someplace where a once a month lunch date would cause issues. If I was still going into the office I would more than likely be eating lunch / socializing quite a bit more than I do working from home.

  8. Forrest*

    OP3, if the diminutive version of your name is a perfectly common one that lots of people use, remember that it sounds babyish and disrespectful and not-taken-seriously TO YOU because you don’t use it, but there’s nothing objectively babyish or disrespectful about being Sue rather than Susan or Nikki rather than Nicola. You have those associations because you’re Valentina, but if someone calls you Val it probably just because the other Valentina’s they know go by Val and you’ve never mentioned that you don’t, rather than that they don’t respect you.

    I think it’s a lot easier to deal with this kind of thing if you go straight in with, “that’s just not my name!” rather than worry about whether it means he doesn’t respect you or whether you’ll sound like you’re standing too much on your dignity if you insist on Jamesina.

    If you tell him you’re not Val and remind him a couple of times and he’s clearly not making the effort to change, THAT’S disrespectful. But it’s not inherently disrespectful to call an Eleonora Ellie or a Thomas Tom.

    1. Not Australian*

      Respectfully disagree; it’s basic courtesy to call someone by the name they prefer, whether or not you know someone else with the same name who has a different preference. If a colleague had a gender change and a name change went with it, everyone would (I hope) make an effort to call them by their chosen name. Why should this be different, simply because one happens to know other people who make other choices? Sounding stuffy and on one’s dignity don’t apply; their name is their name, and getting it right is essential in every case.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        You’re not actually in disagreement.
        Forrest was saying to correct the name, but separate from that, not to interpret the diminutive as infantilising or disrespectful.

      2. JSPA*

        The respect lies in using the chosen name, not in whether or not the chosen name is the long form or the diminutive.

        Calling Vic, Victor is just as “off” as calling Victor, Vic. Calling Lulu, Lucile, is just as off as calling Lucile, Lulu.

        OP3 thinks that they’re being undermined because the wrong name is (also) a diminutive. Forrest is pointing out that there’s nothing inherently unprofessional or undermining about one or another form of the name; what’s actually undermining is that it’s not OP’s name. But it’s still completely reasonable for OP to say, “actually, I go by Victor / Lucile / Francis, not “Vic / Lulu / Fanny.”

      3. Forrest*

        Respectfully, I don’t disagree! I’m making a different distinction here.

        OP didn’t say they felt it was disrespectful because they weren’t using their name they preferred: they felt that using a diminutive was “undermining or babying me and it sounds more intimate than I’d like”, “informal” “sounds like he doesn’t take me seriously”. All of those perceptions about the “diminutive” are coming from OP, not the co-worker. It’s not inherently more intimate or babyish to call someone “Sue” and more respectful to call someone Susan: lots of Sues are Sue everyday and everywhere, with no loss of authority, dignity or respect. It’s only when you are Susan and used to being called Susan that “Sue” makes your skin crawl and sounds like someone reckons you’re much more matey than you actually are. And on the flipside, if you are Sue every day and everywhere, then someone deciding to call you Susan is exactly the same level of disrespectful.

        Someone deciding to call you something they know is not your preferred name IS disrespectful– I am absolutely not disagreeing with that, and that’s exactly what I said in my final paragraph. But there is nothing inherently less respectful, babyish or intimate about a shortened version of a name or inherently respectful or formal about the longer version of a name– the main point is whether it is or isn’t what you want to be called.

        1. S*

          This is an interesting take! There are women’s nicknames that are somewhat undermining–I would not use Barbie for Barbara without explicit permission, for example. That’s a special case, but as a general rule, shortening (Sue, Barb, Jess) is going to go over better than adding the -y suffix (Suzy, Barbie, Jessie). You can see why when you use it with men’s names: Matt for Matthew is completely normal, while Matty would be weird.

          1. Beast ala Mode*

            My aunt Barbara went by Babe, even in a professional setting (think stodgy math work, mostly old white males). She just liked that nickname. Her husband’s nickname was Fab. Babe & Fab were a lot of fun.

          2. Rocket*

            If a woman chooses to go by Barbie, do you respect her less than if she chooses to go by Barbara?

            That is the point Forest is making. If that woman chooses to go by Barbie, she is no less deserving of your respect. And if you were to treat her as if she was, then you would be in the wrong.

            Also I have known plenty of adult Mattys and Joeys and Tommy’s, so I don’t think I agree with your male versus female point.

            1. Scout*

              Joey and Tommy are so common and accepted that I don’t think this applies, but I disagree on Matty (but that might be regional). Certainly Davey or Stevie would be quite unusual in most professional settings, and I can’t imagine someone ELSE deciding that Dave is Davey or Steve is Stevie.

              “Barbie” is absolutely a loaded name in the US, there’s no pretending it’s not or that people are unaware of it. Choosing it for yourself is fine; deciding that Barb is Barbie for someone else is a jerk move. While I don’t think it’s going to cripple anyone’s career, I do think it could have repercussions for new workers in particular. An entry-level, young-in-appearance Stevie, for example, might go overlooked for certain opportunities (most likely subconsciously, but same result). Stevie will eventually be able to prove himself, but it might take longer than necessary.

      4. Rolly*

        “Why should this be different”

        On reason is that using the diminutive is a sign of friendship/closeness, and the speaker believes (incorrectly, but reasonably) that that’s a good thing.

        1. Asenath*

          A diminutive is not always a sign of friendship/closeness. Many people use a diminutive with everyone, even strangers.

          1. Huh*

            When you’re using it without permission it certainly is. If someone introduces themselves to you as Thomas and you respond “nice to meet you Tommy!”, you’re assuming a different and closer relationship than Thomas clearly did.

            1. Asenath*

              Not in my experience. People often use diminutives because that’s the form of the name they’re really familiar with – they’ve known people since they were in kindergarten who never used their full names and always used a diminutives. Now, obviously, they could be wrong in a particular case, and should of course use the name they’re provided with. But they’re not usually trying to be extra friendly, like someone doing cold sales calls who uses whatever first name is on their list rather than a title and last name.

          2. Rolly*

            Sorry, I should have said “sometimes”

            My point is that there are reasons people do it. “Reasonable” reasons, even if they are wrong sometimes.

        2. Sloanicota*

          This is very cultural and I think it’s good for everybody to be aware of it. Nicknames can indicate closeness of relationship or fondness that can also have an implication of childishness. That’s why people often feel it is disrespectful to meet an Elizabeth and immediately start calling her Lizzie. In some cultures it may not be considered disrespectful but we should all defer to using the name people use to introduce themselves. In this case OP hasn’t even brought it up apparently and I hope bringing it up will solve the matter quickly, as it’s even more rude to keep calling someone something after they’ve asked you not to. But I disagree that there’s nothing rude about unilaterally switching to a nickname uninivited; in my culture this is not okay to do.

        3. beach read*

          This is what I was going to say. I have always considered the shortening of someone’s name, including my own, as a sign of familiarity/affection/friendship. In fact, when people don’t shorten my name, it feels off somehow. I grew up with a parent who loved to give people silly nicknames. Absolutely no disrespect ever meant. This is an interesting conversation!

          1. Scout*

            But your dad probably used a bit more care at work! If he’s still alive, you should ask him, and also ask about the general level of formality/professionalism at work. It would be interesting to hear about this from someone known for giving nicknames.

            Nickname can definitely be a sign of familiarity/affection/friendship, but not everyone wants those signs at work. Nicknames can also be used sarcastically, and to deliberately embarrass or insult someone. In “Pride and Prejudice,” Caroline Bingley several times refers to Elizabeth Bennett as Eliza, a nickname otherwise only used by her best friend and best friend’s family. Caroline certainly doesn’t have affection for Elizabeth, and it’s usually followed by a veiled insult (if EB is present) or an open insult (if she is not). She is clearly using the generally affectionate nickname sarcastically.

            I digress, but names and nicknames can be more important than people imagine. They are very often used in an attempt to impose a specific persona or pecking order, either by an individual or a group (like a fraternity). This is why it can be particularly problematic at work, where the nicknamed person may not want certain people signaling that they are close friends, or may not want a nickname that gives certain vibes (whether the nickname indicates cutesiness or ruthlessness).

    2. Bagpuss*

      I agree that using a diminutive doesn’t automatically mean that they are intending to be over-intimate or babying the OP, but I disagree that it is not disrespectful.

      It is basic respect to call someone by their name, making up / using your own preferred form of someone else’s name *is* disrespectful – if someone introduces themself as Eleanora then calling them Ellie is disrespectful.

      1. Myrin*

        Agreed on both counts. I find it impolite and even a bit strange to simply decide to call someone by a nickname just because it’s a common one.

        I did this exactly once and promptly put my foot in my mouth: during my early university days, I became closer to another woman in one of my courses. We hung out a few times but we later realised we had never actually introduced ourselves – we knew each other’s full names because of the public class roster. We only realised that when I wrote her an email addressed her as “Steffi”. Her name was “Stefanie”, “Steffi” is the “normal” German nickname for that name, and I’ve never before or since met a Stef/phanie who didn’t go by it.
        Thankfully, I had enough sense to put a “I don’t know if you go by ‘Steffi’?” in brackets right after the salutation, and she answered “No, I actually prefer ‘Stefanie'”, so that was that, but man, I was embarrassed and vowed to never make assumptions like that again (I still don’t know why I tried that in the first place, honestly).

      2. KRM*

        I think it’s not disrespectful in that calling someone a shortened name isn’t mean to diminish the person in any way. You should absolutely be calling people by the name they prefer, but if my brain glitches and I call you Jen when you prefer Jennifer because I know 15 people who go by Jen, just saying “oh, I use Jennifer” (or however they wish to phrase it) should be enough to remind me. Now if it keeps happening that’s a different story, but no need to go straight to “this is disrespecting me!!!”.

        1. Rolly*

          The other reason is that doing so is a sign of friendliness – it’s assumed (incorrectly, but reasonably in the sense that there is a well-meaning reason) that this is something the recipient might like.

          I would suggest that men not do it with women, and people not do it with others of ostensibly lower power, but with peers it need not be seen a bad thing, even if wrong.

      3. MsM*

        Also, there *are* certain diminutives that I think have juvenile connotations that others don’t. My dad is a “William,” but goes by “Bill.” Only the family members who knew him as a kid get to call him “Billy.” Which is not to say that there aren’t adult Billys out there who prefer to be called that and have no issues being taken seriously – but if you haven’t been invited by someone to do so, picking it as the default doesn’t necessarily communicate respect.

    3. Never Nicky*

      As you might guess from my user name, I have feelings about this.

      It is inherently disrespectful to not use the name by which someone introduces themselves. I shouldn’t have to say my name is not Nicky when all my emails, verbal introductions, publications, and even my CV give my preferred name. And if you persist, after being politely told, you’re going to struggle to retain my goodwill.

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely. I only ever use a shortened version of my full name, and most people are fine with that, but occasionally I come across someone who is really weirdly insistent about finding out what my ‘real name’ is. It makes me really uncomfortable, because I know once I tell them my ‘real name’ (which might be the name on my birth certificate but isn’t a name anyone except my mother has used in 30 years) they’re going to act all smug like they’ve found out some big secret, and they’re inevitably going to start using my full name despite the fact that I do not want them to. It feels so disrespectful and belittling.

        1. T-rex*

          I once had a boss who absolutely refused to call me by my nickname (which, while not a diminutive, is a very common nickname for my full name). I ended up having to go to his boss, who looked at me like “I cannot believe this is a thing I have to actually deal with.” But it solved the issue!

    4. MK*

      I agree it’s not “intentional” disrespect, in the sense that they are likely not trying to put you down. But it is thoughtless and, frankly, overly familiar to call someone by a different version of their name when they have introduced themselves by the other version (shorter or longer, it doesn’t matter). It’s a bit like assigned someone you don’t know well a nickname.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      I think it is important to note that OP3 said “diminutive” not “shortened” version of her name. This sounds to me worse than using Val instead of Valerie. I think it would be more like substituting “Katie” for Kate. I think it IS disrespectful, particularly as he is using it with other people. She needs to shut this down. If, after a polite request, he continues, she needs to throw it back on him, use a diminutive of his name until he gets the point.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        When I read it I imagined something like Katie for Katherine. Katie for Kate, to me, could’ve maybe kinda maybe initially been a misread that never got corrected. But Katie for Katherine fits the tone of what OP described, to me.

    6. L-squared*

      Totally agree. I think OP is looking for an intent that likely isn’t there. If I call someone Matt and not Matthew, its because I know a million people named Matthew and not one goes by that, they all go by Matt, so its more just the norm for me. It says nothing about a lack of respect or thinking they are less professional.

      She has every right to be called what she prefers, but I just don’t think she should assign nefarious intention to the person doing this.

    7. LW 3*

      I didn’t want to go into excessive details for a simple question, but maybe I should have specified that I’m not in an English speaking country. In case you speak Spanish, a diminutive is like adding -ita to the end of a word. The use is context dependent, and it’s not that I never respond to this name, it’s that it’s inappropriate and uncomfortable for this context. I wouldn’t mind a work-friend calling me by the diminutive if we’re just chatting, but I do mind being called it while actually working!
      In any case, yes, I’m going to state it matter-of-factly next time it comes up.

      1. Roeslein*

        The cultural dimension does add a level of complexity if folks around you aren’t native speakers of your language. An example that comes to mind is Slavic diminutives – knowing when those are appropriate can be really hard if you are not a native speaker, since as foreigner you just tend to pick up social conventions based on your own experience. For example, from what I’ve seen in most Polish workplaces where informal address is the rule, it would be pretty normal to say “Aga” instead of Agnieszka (+ informal address), Ola instead of Aleksandra etc. to the point that using full name + informal address starts to sound odd. But when working in Germany (I’m neither Polish nor German btw) I’ve encountered Polish folks who didn’t want their name to be shortened even if an informal context. Of course the best approach is to ask! But I can see how people might slip if they learned Polish social conventions while working in the Warsaw office of a different company where diminutives were the rule. (Obviously they should not after they have been told otherwise though.)

      2. MansplainerHater*

        Are you in Chile or is your coworker Chilean? Because Chileans (in general) make EVERYTHING diminutive.

    8. The Lexus Lawyer*

      Found the mansplainer.

      Just because you’re ok with being known as For instead of Forrest doesn’t mean you get to pass judgment on people feeling disrespected by others calling them by the wrong name

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        Given the explanation about the coworker using the diminutive form in Spanish, rather than simply a nickname, that changes things, but since Forrest didn’t know that when writing their comment, they never said it wasn’t disrespectful to call someone the wrong name, and they weren’t condescending in their explanation, it’s pretty dismissive and rude to say “found the mansplainer” in response.

        I also had the thought that a shortened version of a name/a nickname isn’t inherently disrespectful or babyish (although the Spanish language context changes this afaik), as long as that’s what the person goes by.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          Hit submit too soon.

          *as long as that’s what the person goes by. It’s not “mansplaining” to say that, and it’s good advice to go in to the conversation without the assumption that using a shortened version of a name doesn’t mean anything disrespectful in and of itself. It’s disrespectful because it isn’t the person’s name, not because of the particular incorrect name they’re using.

        1. Nameless in Customer Service*

          Considering that you wrote an article about how LW #3 has no right to feel insulted when a male coworker of hers continues a pattern of diminishing her by calling her a cutesy variant of her preferred name, no, it’s really not “a LOT”.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            This feels like an unfair characterization of Forrest’s comment.

            Forrest clearly stated that the coworker should use the correct name.
            They also suggested that using a shortened version of a name does not necessarily equate with infantilizing and that framing it that way can make the situation feel worse than it is.

            The LW later provided some context for what they meant by diminutive, but that was after all this had been posted.

            1. Nameless in Customer Service*

              They also suggested that using a shortened version of a name does not necessarily equate with infantilizing and that framing it that way can make the situation feel worse than it is.

              People who do not experience microaggressions constantly dismiss them as hallucinations of those who suffer them and say “if you’d just stop noticing the clear pattern where someone is trying to diminish your humanity you’ll feel better!” But those trying to diminish another’s humanity are never called upon to stop.

              A man trying to make a woman look small and infantile at work by insisting on a cutesy nickname for her over her actual preferred name is establishing a series of microaggressions, and no matter how much you and Forrest want to make it easier for such men by convincing the LW that the situation is all her own delusions, I for one cannot sit by and bely my experience of watching this done to many women and POC of my acquaintance, or of experiencing it myself, by agreeing with you two by silence.

              1. I should really pick a name*

                As a black, gay man, I’m well aware of what it’s like to experience microaggressions constantly. (You obviously couldn’t know that, but I think it’s useful context in this case)

                1. Nameless in Customer Service*

                  And I’m a queer Black woman, asking you as one human being to another: why my brother would you want to contribute to the oppression of your sisters? I’ve had more than one gay man tell me to my face that he doesn’t have to care about women’s rights because we’re no use to him — surely that’s not your position?

                2. I should really pick a name*

                  Absolutely not my position, but we’re veering into derail territory, so I’ll leave it here.

          2. Diminutive*

            Sorry, I think people jumping on Forrest are maybe misinterpreting what he was saying, and now are throwing in the mansplaining just to put down his opinion more. I think his only point was that “cutesy” variants or diminutives are used by people all over the world, so there may be nothing inherently wrong with that if that’s what the person chooses to go by.
            But anyone not using the person’s preference, which is the case of LW3, certainly have a right to be annoyed.

            1. Forrest*

              Thank you, but FWIW I’m a woman! It’s wild to see myself discussed with male pronouns. :D

      2. Observer*

        Found the mansplainer.

        That is a VERY weird take. Of course, what the OP explains about the context changes things. But essentially, given how names (at least in the US) are used, what Forrest was saying is largely true. It is disrespectful to knowingly use a version of someone’s name that the person doesn’t actually go by, and it’s a bad idea to make assumptions about what version they use. But a shortened or diminutive version is generally not necessarily disrespectful. Men are not the only ones who agreeing with that.

        To take a current example – the Governor of New York is Kathy Hochul. That’s not just a shortening of her name, it’s technically a diminutive version. Anyone who tried using her full name would look really, really strange. And probably totally pretentious.

    9. Batgirl*

      The OP has already stated they are aware that it’s “not malicious”. Anyway, if a diminutive name is only disrespectful to her, but not others that’s still a problem! When my name is shortened, it’s not drastic (think Ann for Anna) but to me it’s the kind of thing only a very intimate person would do. I’m aware it may just be habit, or misunderstanding to the person doing it, but my shoulders are still up around my ears.

    10. Office Lobster DJ*

      Let’s not ignore the gender dynamics, though. If OP feels that this dude is coming off as infantilizing or overly familiar toward her by doing this, I believe her.

    11. Nameless in Customer Service*

      “When I started as an actor? No, and I’ll tell you why. I had already gone through that. My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means “The road is good.” Quick lesson: My tribe is Igbo, and you name your kid something that tells your history and hopefully predicts your future. So anyway, in grade school, because my last name started with an A, I was the first in roll call, and nobody ever knew how to pronounce it. So I went home and asked my mother if I could be called Zoe. I remember she was cooking, and in her Nigerian accent she said, “Why?” I said, “Nobody can pronounce it.” Without missing a beat, she said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.””

      — Uzoamaka Aduba on names and forced nicknames

      1. Forrest*

        I genuinely don’t know how you got from my comment to this! I did not at any stage advocate that LW change her name to suit the co-worker or accept being called a different name, and I quite definitely said that LW should say, “that’s just not my name!”

        1. Nameless in Customer Service*

          One very common way to promote microaggressions and to support the disprivilege they reinforce is to deny that they are happening and to dismiss sufferer’s reports as hallucinations. The fact that you graciously allow LW #3 to beg for her proper name doesn’t make up for your insistence that “All of those perceptions about the “diminutive” are coming from OP, not the co-worker” and so LW #3’s described perceptions are just hysteria. I’ve seen this done to disprivileged people far too many times to silently approve of it anymore.

          1. Forrest*

            I certainly agree that LW is the expert on whether this is intentionally or inadvertently belittling, and I apologise if that wasn’t clear and it sounded like I was suggesting that LW’s feelings weren’t valid.

            That said, I stand by the idea that it can be useful to separate “this feels belittling” from “this may be a simple mistake that I can just correct without it being a big deal”. In my experience, adopting the approach of “I’m sure you want to get this right and treat me respectfully, here is some information which will help you do that” is a useful first step in naming and combatting microaggressions, and helps you find out whether a more serious response is warranted.

    12. Observer*

      I think it’s a lot easier to deal with this kind of thing if you go straight in with, “that’s just not my name!” rather than worry about whether it means he doesn’t respect you or whether you’ll sound like you’re standing too much on your dignity if you insist on Jamesina.

      I think that this is true. It’s true regardless of why someone is using the wrong form of your name. And it means that if someone is not being reasonable, it will be clear, while you retain your standing as a reasonable adult whatever the case may be.

    13. bratschegirl*

      I think it absolutely is disrespectful, or at least presumptuous, to call someone “Sue” if they have been introduced to you as “Susan” and you haven’t been explicitly invited to call them something else, whether or not you know another Susan who goes by Sue.

  9. Roeslein*

    OP #3 – I get this a lot. Imagine my name is Marianne (it’s not, but similar idea) and some people keep calling me Mary no matter how many times I tell them it’s not my name. Some folks call me Marianne and some folks calls me Annie. Depends on language mostly. But I have never, ever signed an email with “Mary”. I have actually stopped using vendors over this – I figure if they can’t even follow a simple request like this, how can I trust them to follow instructions during a project? I’m not sure why some people can’t just take a clue from your signature and call you whatever you choose to call yourself.

    1. That's not my name*

      Yup. My last name is also a common first name and I have no patience for people who refer to me in emails by my last name (think my name is Mary Shelley and they’re calling me Shelley instead of Mary). It’s right there in the email! How hard is it to take two seconds to double check?!

      1. Two first names*

        Story of my life. People constantly call me by my last name. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to get it right.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          I could have written both of these comments – I have a last name that is spelled the same as, but pronounced differently from, a common first name, and I have no patience with it either. What hasn’t helped with me is that in my current job, the person I work most closely with has the first name, and in my last job it was my predecessor’s name.

          I haven’t yet got to the same point as my former coworker, to use the Mary Shelley example she would put Mary in massive letters on her signature to hammer the point across that she wasn’t Shelley, but I could sympathise with her.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        The only thing I would say to this is that there are foreign speakers who sometimes mix up names. I’ve seen it a lot with the Chinese (and I think a lot of English speakers do the same to their names), but even Spanish speakers who have done that. I’m not sure why when, yes, the first name lastname is in the signature, but it seems like a common mistake.

    2. Old Cynic*

      >> I have actually stopped using vendors over this – I figure if they can’t even follow a simple request like this, how can I trust them to follow instructions during a project? <<

      Totally agree.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Same.

        My name is not that difficult. It’s not that long. It’s actually commonly heard, though I meet few people with the name itself. It also sounds like a bajillion other names, of which I will not answer to. (Think like Melissa – who clearly is not named Melinda, Marissa, Belinda, Larissa, Melody, etc.) It’s right there in my email itself. It’s right there in my email signature. It’s right there in the paperwork for a quote request. I have physically introduced myself to the vendor. And they still can’t get it right? Yeah, I’m not going to be very impressed and they aren’t going to end up on the short list for selection. But chances are…there’s other ways too they’ve shown they can’t pay attention to detail.

        (And now I have the “her name is Margo” tiktok stuck in my head.)

  10. Virginia Plain*

    OP2 I agree with Alison that it’s a good idea to postpone lunch day until you’ve got your feet under the table and know how things roll. Then either you can pick up your former plans if that’s ok, or maybe you might have to be more ad hoc eg messaging at the beginning of each month to compare schedules and fix a date. But if a long lunch is basically never going to fly then misrepresenting it as an appointment is only going to look bad.
    OP3 just tell him! A former colleague of mine, “Jennifer”, fronted up with everyone at the first opportunity that she was fine being called Jennifer or Jen but absolutely never Jenny. It was fine; nobody every called her (or referred to her as) Jenny.

  11. JustThinkingOutLoud*

    OP #5: While I can understand the thinking behind the policy of looking at external candidates to ensure the best person is hired, I’m not a fan of it. On the one hand, it ensures that the hiring manager cannot hire an unqualified family member, friend, or employee, which is good. But, you risk losing your high performers if they don’t get the job. Maybe they didn’t interview well enough (some fantastic people don’t do well in interviews) or didn’t seem as qualified as the untested external candidate who looks great on paper and interviews well. Plus, it can be exciting to see what a new person can offer. I can see how it would leave high performers feeling negatively toward their company. I guess these types of policies are why some great employees have to leave their companies to advance their careers.

    1. JustThinkingOutLoud*

      “They are a rockstar and have been unofficially told that the role is theirs … as soon as the company gets at least one external candidate for the position.” Can you imagine how Molly would feel if an extremely qualified external candidate applies and gets the job! I hope she gets the position soon. The wait must be so frustrating.

      1. MK*

        I can imagine how a qualified external candidate would feel to realise they went through the trouble of applying (and possibly interviewing) for the job, but it was always going to the hiring manager’s pal Molly. Who may be a rockstar, but also has an in with the people doing the hiring. Also, I am seriously side-eyeing this company who has trouble attracting candidates, but they also are cheating their own rules and probably aren’t trying to attract external candidates.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        Or, you know, the person interviewing who basically has no chance at getting the job (which, if people are smoking that out could explain the dearth of applicants). And if she’s “got the job” already the additional interview isn’t going to do any good. It’s just pointless box ticking. The entire situation is unfair to everybody.

        Honestly Molly should be looking elsewhere at this point because she’s ready for a promotion and her current company isn’t positioned to give her one.

    2. MK*

      I find it hard to imagine a very qualified internal candidate, who has the advantage of knowing the company, the work and the people doing the hiring, and has specific accomplishments to point to, being outperfromed in an interview by an external candidate just because “they look good on paper”.

    3. L-squared*

      I very much agree. I think people are generally happier and feel more valued in places that promote from within. And if you are on a team, and you see your teammate you thought was qualified get passed up for an outsider, how likely are you going to want to stay there? Its easy to then think “well, I guess this is a company where, in order to advance my career, I need to leave”

    4. Medusa*

      The policy doesn’t make sense if no one is applying. If there was only one applicant and that applicant is extremely qualified, then… just give it to them? It doesn’t make sense to have the vacancy open for months and not promote someone if no one even applying for the position.

      Also, even if a more qualified applicant comes along, it’s still entirely possible that they will give it Molly. That happens all the time.

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      In my experience the times internal candidates didn’t perform well in interviews was due to them thinking they had they job in the bag so not preparing and not actually answering questions because people know what they do.

      Otherwise I have never seen a truly high performing internal candidate lose to an external candidate.

    6. Plum Jam*

      I’m in this weird position where my company keeps hyping up that if we want raises and advancement, we need to “create” the opportunities through our “initiative”. Like, a create-your-own-advancement thing.

      But then they ALSO say that they need to open up the position to all external applicants, as well. So you can spend 2-3 years “building” your own new role, doing that role, proving the need for the role, networking the role, etc. etc. etc….only to have an external hire come in and just take the job you created – and that you were encouraged to create and promote and “demonstrate/prove” the need for, etc.

      It happened to a friend of mine, and while she got the job in the end, they made it really difficult for her (delayed her raise by 6 months so she could “prove” herself in the role she was…already doing, in an entire new sub-department that she…built herself) and she felt so undervalued and disrespected. She’s looking for new jobs now.

      I’m in a similar position, and I don’t know if I want to pour all this work into creating a sub-department and creating all these opportunities and growing this area of my company, only for them to decide to hand over the new role I created to somebody else.

      I get it, yeah, maybe somebody else would be a better fit. But then maybe someone who isn’t me should be creating these niches and roles and doing all the work of “exciting company growth”? Because I don’t really think it’s fair that it falls on me to do all of that work and then not reap any real reward from it. (Aside from “feeling good about our mission”, which is something I’m repeatedly told by the higher ups is a reward in and of itself).

      1. Kevin Sours*

        You should open up your opportunities to external positions.

        I mean they want you to take initiative to create your own advancement.

    7. DireRaven*

      For the internal candidate for a promotion, knowing the company is also looking at external candidates gives a feeling that the company does not have confidence in the candidate’s ability to handle the promotion. The external candidate thinks the internal candidate has an inside track.

      Ironically, the internal candidate may likely be offered less compensation for the role if successful (based upon current salary because the company knows what they make and there are “rules” about how much an internal person’s salary can be increased – such as no raises over 5%) than the external candidate.

  12. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP #4…

    My employer does that with vacation time. Instead of getting 25 days for the year all at once, we get 2 days plus 35 minutes on the 10th of each month. (Yes, the monthly increment includes the 35 minutes, even though we have to use our time in 15-minute increments.)

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Ugh, that’s frustrating. I get the accrual vs payout thing, but that makes it so hard to actually schedule a vacation in the first half of the year!

    2. Shiba Dad*

      Dividing 8 hour days by 12 leads to odd monthly accruals. At 35 minutes even you end up an hour short of the 25th day.

      You do get to use it in 15 minute increments though. With both vacation and PTO we have to do it in 4 hour increments.

      1. doreen*

        Typically, people use 15 minutes of vacation when they get to work 15 minutes late or leave 15 minutes early and either don’t want to or aren’t permitted to make up the time. For some jobs, it doesn’t make sense to make up time and there are situations where a particular person might not be permitted to make up time.

      2. Mannheim Steamroller*

        I’ll sometimes leave early and claim 30 or 45 minutes of vacation just to get rid of excess accruals.

  13. MistOrMister*

    OP4 – my job gives both sick leave and PTO monthly only, with nothing advanced at the beginning of the year. It isn’t usually a problem because both carry over. We can only roll over 2 weeks of PTO but a lot more sick leave rolls over each year. I dont even know the max you can carry over because it’s prettt high and I haven’t hit that number yet. And at my place, if you need to be off for a while for surgery first you use all your sick leave. If you need more leave you then have to use all your PTO and also amy more sick leave that accrues while you’re out. If you use all of both types of leave I think they would let people volunteer to give you leave or let you tske leave without pay. I have never heard of anyone hoarding sick leave to use it all at the end of the year.

    1. Lynca*

      My job gives both sick leave and PTO in per pay period amounts. They both accrue and there’s a fairly high cap. We can also donate leave if someone needs more than they have.

      It would be really odd to hoard sick leave until the end of the year because you really can’t control when you get sick. I’m wondering if OP4’s place of employment only gives “sick” leave but it’s really all purpose PTO. Then the hoarding it makes more sense because of the late year holidays.

      1. Shiba Dad*

        I’ve worked a few places that don’t allow sick time to be used immediately before or after a paid holiday. By “don’t allow” I mean that you would not get paid for the holiday. In that scenario hoarding sick time makes less sense.

        People do hoard sick time though. One reason is, as you point out, you can’t control when you get sick or how sick you might be.

        1. KRM*

          Yes, but OP seems concerned that everyone is going to use their sick time at the end of the year, which doesn’t make much sense to me. People usually don’t hoard sick time in order to then use it as a vacation–I can’t imagine any employer who wouldn’t notice that everyone in the office suddenly took a week off even though nobody had any PTO left, or they all suddenly got ‘sick’ for a week. So I get that people may hoard sick time, but not the concern that suddenly everyone will be out using it at the end of the year.

          1. Letter writer #4*

            So, I work for a call center so the time off is used for whatever and it doesn’t carry over so it needs to be used by December 31 or you lose it. I personally have a chronic condition so I save mine for when I need to take time off for doctors appointments or surgery. I have only been able to do that because it wasn’t accrued. I have been attempting to find out if we can accrue in advance if needed, but nobody at HR seems to know what I am talking about.

        2. Lynca*

          I get that maybe the concern is having “enough” leave to get through the year. But the logic still doesn’t pan out to me. There’s always issues that can come up that would force you into a situation where 60 hours wasn’t enough leave for the year. I mean if you needed major emergency surgery or chemo? 60 hours is not going to go far to begin with.

          So either we’re missing something or OP needs to ask how the employer will handle situations where you need more leave than is available. Alison covered a lot of how that can be dealt with but it can also include more creative solutions like alternate hours to accomedate recurring appointments eating into the leave, etc.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      My company gives separate sick and vacation leave. Both accrue per pay period, but only sick leave rolls over. So while there can be a scramble to coordinate vacations and coverage at the end of the year, there’s generally not a need for people to push surgery off until they’ve accrued enough sick time in the current calendar year (assuming the employee has been here long enough to have sick time that’s rolled over.) With both types, you can take at least some of the leave before it’s accrued – which makes sense, as otherwise everyone would be out on the last working day of the year to use up those last few hours of vacation time!

      We do have a cap on how much sick time you can roll over, but I believe it’s actually higher than you can accrue in a single year. If you’re at the cap, you just don’t accrue any more until you take some and drop below the cap. Then you accrue up to the cap again and the cycle repeats.

  14. SAS*

    OP2- No. I would be happy to work around a standing appointment, assuming it was health, or possibly finance/property-related, but not if it was a social appointment that they were semi-truthful about.

    Be as upfront with your manager as you were in this letter, and if it’s approved then it doesn’t matter what your colleagues think. But in a new job, this is not something worth getting your manager offside about, and even small obfuscation can be poorly taken when people don’t know you well.

    If it must be a lunch, could your friend possibly use her longer lunch break to travel to whatever place you’d get lunch near your work on a regular day? So you’re still using your half-hour lunch as normal, she just happens to be at the fried chicken place at the same time and it’s a slightly shorter catch up?

  15. Rosacolleti*

    #2 I’d have no problem if one of my team asked for a longer lunch break once a month if they make up the time, say by coming in early that day. I guess it depends if it affects anyone else though.

  16. Shiba Dad*

    OP4 – Many years ago I went through the “now your sick time and vacation time will accrue” transition. It is annoying at first, but you will get used to it.

    I recommend tracking your accrued time and periodically checking it against what your employer says you have. Some of us were shown to have less accrued time off that we actually had. Others had negative balances and didn’t realize it. Math is hard, I guess.

    1. KRM*

      I had an issue at my old job when they decided to combine PTO and sick time, and only give 15 days total. They were not clear on the rollout (previously when we were very small the policy was “if you’re sick stay home, and you may need a doctors note if you’re out over a week”, and 15 days PTO, and they didn’t really announce the combined change, just intro’d it to new employees), so I ended up in the negative without realizing it. Luckily they decided to ‘forgive’ the time when I left the job, although the way they acted about how magnanimous they were for doing so was annoying (I was fully prepared to pay back the negative balance).
      Anyway, all that to say, yes it can be hard to keep track sometimes and for sure do a quarterly check to make sure what you have is what you think you have.

  17. Wing N Wing*

    LW1: take the job, and explain to YOUR boss the situation with managing the roommate. Suggest that they create alternate reporting for her so you aren’t her manager — because even if you move out as roommates, there will (rightly) be the perception that your history with her puts her on a different footing than your other reports. So it would look fairer if someone else evaluates her . Bonus, you don’t have to move.

    1. higheredrefugee*

      It sounds like this is higher ed, where such flexibility rarely exists as the structures are generally too thinly staffed to allow such a solution.

    2. doreen*

      There was actually something similar done at my last job, although it was not a friend or roommate but a spouse. It didn’t look fairer at all to have her report to the head of HR rather than her husband, the director of training ( which was part of HR) in large part because no matter who signed her evaluations and approved her timesheet , nobody believed that head of HR was going to get involved in day-to-day details like who got sent to the Rochester office to conduct training for a week. Wouldn’t have been any different if they were known to be close friends or roommates rather than spouses.

  18. ecnaseener*

    LW4, you seem to be conflating sick time and vacation time. No one should be saving it up to “take time off” at the end of the year, unless I guess a ton of your colleagues have elective surgeries. Or unless you’re thinking people will lie about being sick for a week in order to take a vacation, but that was already possible under your old system.

    1. OyHiOh*

      When I worked for the federal government, both my sick leave and vacation time were earned on an accrual basis. There was no cap on the amount of sick leave a person could accrue. After something like 350 hours of vacation time, you got into use/lose territory. We got paid out our accrued vacation time when we quit, but not sick leave. We could donate unused sick leave to the sick leave bank when we left, though.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Okay? Not sure if this is where you meant to nest this, I wasn’t talking about accrual caps or anything. LW seems to think people will use their sick time for planned vacation, which shouldn’t be the case.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          LW seems to think people will use their sick time for preplanned medical procedures that require known recovery time, is how it reads to me.

  19. AvonLady Barksdale*

    For LW #2, there’s one piece of info missing– the type of job you’re in. I am exempt, not responsible for coverage, expected to be at my desk for certain hours but not bound to a timesheet. So I would block time on my calendar for this lunch and not give it a second thought, even if I take a 30-minute lunch every other day of the month.

    Is the 30 minutes a rule or a norm? Do you punch out for it? Is it just an office habit? I think you do need to get the lay of the land first, because right now it’s not clear whether you’re concerned about a hard rule or just a, “Oh, we usually do 30 minutes for lunch,” thing.

    1. Squid*

      Agreed – I’m exempt, not on a timesheet, and largely have control over my day (when I start and end, when and how long I take breaks and lunch, etc.). I’m expected to get my work done and attend any meetings, trainings, etc. that make their way on to my calendar, but I am otherwise free to do as I please/see fit. This is partially the nature of the role and partially the culture of my office.

      That said, there are plenty of days where I work through lunch/eat at my desk – in fact, those are the norm for me. But I have time blocks for plenty of things (e.g. 4-5pm is blocked every day for wrapping up and related activities), including the occasional lunch with a friend, coworker, or my spouse. I just put it on my calendar as “block” or “lunch” and leave it at that. The thing about that, though, is that everyone else in the org can only see my free/busy status, not the details of what is on my calendar at any given time. If OP is in an org where their settings allow managers (and potentially coworkers) to see calendar details, I would caution them to be a little more intentional about what they call these blocks and when/how often they place them.

  20. LPUK*

    I actually got my last job under this sort of policy. The company had a Director -level role open up and although they had identified a suitable internal candidate, they were obliged to open it up to external candidates to ensure that they were getting the best calibre. Unfortunately for the internal candidate, the headhunter found me doing a very similar, niche type of job in another country at the point I was starting to think about moving on. so I got the interview and later got the job. I didn’t find out about the internal candidate until about 6 months when when a colleague mentioned it.

  21. MicroManagered*

    OP2 I would put a private, standing appointment on my calendar. If nobody asks and they assume it’s medical, so? Medical appointments are not the only reason someone might need to do something other than work during work hours. If someone needs to schedule something around that hour, good! They should!

    If it becomes a problem, like your company needs to meet about the XYZ report and can ONLY do it from 12-1pm on that ONE day every month, I guess you can worry about it then. Once you are more comfortable with your boss, you may decide to let them know what the appointment really is, and that it COULD be moved or canceled occasionally if there’s an emergency? But honestly I’d be very suspicious about anything that couldn’t be accommodated around a one hour lunch break once a month.

    1. The Lexus Lawyer*

      This is bad advice. When the truth comes out, this could look bad for OP2.

      Whereas being upfront about it and asking properly could solve the issue/non-issue once and for all.

      1. MicroManagered*

        It’s really not bad advice to suggest someone expect to be treated like an adult at work and I’m sorry your work experiences have lead you to this really sad conclusion. Unless they’re in a profession where lunches are extremely regimented for coverage reasons (I’m thinking like a hospital nurse), it’s complete garbage to think you can’t have ***ONE ONE-HOUR LUNCH A MONTH*** regardless of why.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Acting like an adult is having a straightforward conversation about your availability. Alison gives pretty direct reasons why this could be a problem, and we don’t know what OPs job is or if there are coverage requirements or (like at my company) if there are a bunch of really complicated calendars that are hard to coordinate and this could be troublesome. You seem to have a really weird idea of what being treated like an adult is. Adults are straightforward and work together to resolve conflicts.

          1. MicroManagered*

            Yeah do note that I’m not suggesting that anyone LIE about it.

            Maybe it’s a culture thing specific to my workplace, but I cannot imagine even being asked about an appointment on my calendar during a typical lunch hour. If I saw that on any of my direct reports’ calendars, I’d simply think “oh they’re not available at that time” with no further thought about it UNLESS there was some mission-critical reason that one hour was the only hour in the month something could be done. I cannot imagine what that thing would have to be.

            1. londonedit*

              The thing is that it wouldn’t be a ‘typical lunch hour’, it’d be a lunch break that’s twice the length of the standard. If flexing your start/end time occasionally in order to have an hour’s break is something everyone in the OP’s new office has the option to do as a matter of course, then great, that’s no problem. I still think the OP should leave it until they’ve been in the new job for a couple of weeks just so they can judge the culture, but then they should absolutely just say ‘Is it OK if I come in half an hour early one Thursday a month, so I can take a long lunch on that day?’.

              The problem comes if the OP is getting special dispensation to flex their hours once a month because they say they have ‘an appointment’, and it’s not the office norm. Then it sounds like the OP is being allowed to do something different because it’s an accommodation for a health condition, and I think their co-workers and manager would definitely feel aggrieved if they found out the ‘appointment’ they’d assumed was something medical was actually just the OP skipping off to have lunch with a friend.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            People have a million appointments that don’t require a conversation at all unless someone needs to specifically ask about that time. At many, many companies it is very normal to just block off time as long as you are working appropriate hours and getting your work done. Only OP will be able to tell whether this is a company where that is done, but if it is then there is nothing wrong with that.

        2. MissElizaTudor*

          While I fully agree that not being able to accommodate an extra half hour for lunch once a month is ridiculous for many positions, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to just put the time in your calendar and not ask about it at all. Also, acting like you pity someone in response to a reasonable comment about being less than upfront is pretty condescending.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree. The subterfuge and question dodging is just complicating a pretty simple matter. Just ask. If it’s a problem then it was going to be a problem regardless. Most places would be fine with this. It’s 30 minutes once a month, it’s not a huge ask.

    2. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Bad advice and unnecessary defensive tone.

      Also: ‘Once you are more comfortable with your boss, you may decide to let them know what the appointment really is, and that it COULD be moved or canceled occasionally if there’s an emergency? ‘ This is the crux of it for me. Professionals are upfront about what’s going on. Game playing, offering shades of truth, being disingenuous about the appointment…no.

      OP, wait a couple of months to get a feel for your new organization, and then you can decide how to address this.

      1. MicroManagered*

        I think you are projecting your own thoughts onto my tone or intent.

        Perhaps this is unique to my employer, but one one-hour lunch per month would be a laughable non-issue. There is nothing deceptive about taking a lunch hour for whatever purpose you choose where I work.

        If OP2’s employer has a hard-stop on lunches longer than half an hour for some work-related reason, I’m sure they’ll let her know and the conversation can evolve from there.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          No your tone is condescending and defensive. You’re getting a lot of pushback for that reason, take a step back and hear the feedback.

          1. MicroManagered*

            I get that you are piling on with others, but we’ll have to agree to disagree there.

        2. londonedit*

          There’s nothing deceptive about me taking a lunch hour, either. My contract specifies an hour’s unpaid lunch a day. But if I wanted to go and meet a friend across town, and that meant my ‘lunch hour’ was going to take two hours, there’s no way I could just go and do that whenever I wanted without my boss having a word with me. And I work in a very relaxed sort of environment. If I said in advance ‘Hey, do you mind if I come in an hour early on Tuesday so I can take a long lunch break?’, and I’d planned it to be a day when there were no meetings for it to clash with, then it’d be fine, but I still think there would be side-eye if it was a super regular thing. We have core hours and (apart from lunch) we’re meant to be available and working between 10 and 3. And the above scenario – taking twice their allotted lunch break to go and meet a friend – is exactly what the OP wants to do. It might be absolutely fine, but it’s the sort of thing you want to ask about first (rather than just taking a long lunch whenever you feel like it) and it’s the sort of thing you don’t want to be deceptive about (and yes I do think calling it ‘an appointment’ when it’s a social lunch can be construed as deceptive, because it makes it sound like the OP knows it’s a bit dodgy and is trying to make it sound like it’s an important thing, like a medical appointment, when at the end of the day it is just a social thing).

          1. MicroManagered*

            I agree. My answer would be completely different LW2 was talking about a longer-than-one-hour lunch.

        3. Colette*

          Taking time for lunch is not deceptive. Implying it’s a medical appointment when it’s not is deceptive.

          1. MicroManagered*

            I never said to imply anything or be deceptive, but I think I see now why some people are so seriously misreading my comment!

            To be clear: I suggested putting a private appointment on your calendar (in the Outlook sense of clicking the “private” button so no details are visible). If someone makes an assumption about that appointment without asking, that’s not you deceiving them!

            My boss, my direct reports, and other colleagues have private appointments showing on their calendars all the time! It would never occur to me that they’re “being deceptive” with that or even to ask unless I really needed to know what they’re doing in that timeframe.

      2. BigHairNoHeart*

        Just my 2 cents, but I don’t see a defensive tone here. The advice might work in some offices and go over poorly in others, so who knows how helpful it would be to the OP, but I do think you’re reading something into the tone that isn’t there.

    3. Joielle*

      I mean, this is how I would handle it at my job, because I’ve been there for a few years and I know it’s quite common for people to take longer lunches sometimes. And if I put an unspecified “appointment” on my calendar, nobody will ask about it (and we don’t have a ton of meetings anyways so I wouldn’t be causing a scheduling problem). But if I was in a brand new position, I’d probably wait a few months first to see if it would fit in to the culture of the office.

    4. Don't kneel in front of me*

      I agree with you. I just don’t see how it could or would be a problem. I use “appointment” for all kinds of stuff on my calendar. Dentist, medical, external meetings, and then rarer things like going to the DMV, closing on a house sale, therapy, whatever.
      I think its actually kind of sad that so many people disagree and think this is some deceptive nefarious practice. Employers aren’t entitled to know everything about your life–and the good ones don’t care either!

    5. Purple Cat*

      I don’t know why MicroManagered is getting so much pushback.
      Dynamics are definitely different if this is a coverage based job, but my calendar is blocked daily from 2-3 for kid pickup. Nobody knows what it’s blocked off for and it’s nobody’s business. And if anybody tries to schedule me in a meeting for that time I let them know I can’t make it – but not WHY I can’t make it.
      OP 2 is asking for 1/2 an hour, ONCE A MONTH. “I have a conflict”.

  22. J.B.*

    I somewhat disagree with Alison on #2. If it’s not your first job and this is important, ask your boss. If you have something important to you, ask from the beginning if it’s possible. People are likely to follow your lead if you start that way.

    A work calendar is a tool, and you can phrase things differently on your calendar to make clear whether the time is moveable or not. If something isn’t on my work calendar it doesn’t exist. I share details, and since I don’t want it clear to my colleagues what my personal appointments are I describe health appointments as “not flexible”. My teams description goes into more detail that other appointments can move with a couple of days notice.

    1. anonymous73*

      No, you can’t come into a new job demanding that they allow you to continue your social obligations. They can ask about flexibility with the lunch break and go from there. But they also need to see how things work on their team for a bit. Calling it an appointment is only going to bite them in the butt when it’s found out that it’s not an appointment at all but a social engagement.

      1. J.B.*

        Yes, you can ask if it’s possible. Asking doesn’t mean *demanding* to “continue your social obligations”. I find it so odd that an hour lunch once a month would be questioned even for junior people. I mean, it’s not even working from home and many people right now are saying they won’t consider a job physically going to the office.

      2. Moonlight*

        I actually could prioritize a standing social obligation of this nature in my job. I am classified differently than most employees (technically a contractor) but a lot of orgs like to try to treat me like an employee any how, but the reality is that I am the one who makes choices about my calendar, end of story, so as long as they know I am unavailable, where and why is not their problem, and that availability would be reflected in my calendar and the receptionist and other staff would know not to book people in spaces where there is no appointment. It also means I can see clients at 7 am or 8 pm for all anyone else cares, so it also means that I am not missing work to do so. So if I want to pre- schedule time to peace out for an hour or two in the middle of the day to go for lunch, shopping etc. that’s my decision. What I can’t do is (a) not communicate about it (b) change it last minute or (c) cancel meetings with clients to do it.

  23. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    #1. Maybe I’m not understanding, but aren’t graduate assistantships temporary until you graduate? And there is usually no expectation that an assistantship leads to a position, right?

    Yes, it would be an awkward situation to manage your friend and roommate, and not something I’d suggest. But in this case I think it may depend on where your roommate is at in the program, and how much longer until they graduate. It’s possible they could report to someone else until they graduate.
    Definitely, you need to be transparent about the situation. This sounds like a good opportunity, and of course the other option is to work out another roommate situation should you get the job (also awkward, but it happens).

    1. Moonlight*

      It may be longer, depending on if this is a masters or PhD program. A PhD student who’s a graduate assistant may be doing this for a few years. A student in a masters might have anywhere from 4 months to 1 year, depending on if the program was 2 years and assuming that they attended grad school for 1 year together. So I guess it depends if it’ll be 4 months or 2 years.

      1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        I was thinking maybe only a year at most, but if it is longer than that I guess OP would have to look for a different roommate situation if they took the job.

  24. Little Miss Sunshine*

    OP1, is it possible that someone else could supervise your roommate for the duration of their assistantship? That might be a nice way for everyone to win.

    1. This is a name, I guess*

      I mentioned this below, but OP could also just tell their supervisor that they live with their roommate and ask what to do. OP is a very recent graduate from that department; I don’t think anyone would flag it as weird that they live together in this context. It honestly seems pretty normal for academia. OP might suggest to their boss having someone else supervise her roommate for the duration of the job or just for a few months while the OP moves out more slowly and doesn’t mess with her roommate’s stability.

      I think Allison’s response doesn’t grapple enough with the quirks of academia. If anything, we need to see this situation as closer to student workers and one graduates and get hired on….not like a normal job.

  25. Panda (she/her)*

    Ohh man #3 gets me. A younger member of my team is working with someone (external to our company) who uses the diminutive of their name in meetings as an intentional way to undermine them (he also ignores them when they answer questions he asks, or ask a question about something he said). Not saying that’s what’s happening here, the context certainly seems to imply the mistake isn’t malicious in this case, but it does happen and it’s INFURIATING.

    1. Don't kneel in front of me*

      I had something like that happen a while back. My name is something like Gerald, and I had a guy call me “Jerry” like 5 times in a meeting. The first time it was “who’s Jerry? oh, I’m Gerald” then it became “it’s Gerald” and that eventually turned into “it’s Gerald, and just so everyone knows, if you use Jerry I’m probably not going to respond because that’s not my name.”
      He started calling me Gerald after that.

    2. Observer*

      That is infuriating. Is there any way you can push back? Like redirecting him to her answer when she answers him in a meeting, and YOU correcting him, so that he sees that others are on to him?

  26. Moonlight*

    OP3 I agree with Allison’s advice that you should tell this colleague that you go by Victoria, not Vicki (or whatever your name is).

    Your colleague is probably totally unaware that this is an issue. I know many people who have names like Michael, Angela, Andrea, Rebecca, Kaitlin, Steven or Vincent, who go by their fill name OR a diminutive like Mike, Ange, Andy, Becca, Kate, Steve or Vince. I have one of those names and I typically introduce myself as Long Version but wouldn’t bat an eye if someone called me Short Version.

    I don’t think it is inherently infantilizing or rude cause of that. They probably, like me, know people who use both or may be, like me, someone who uses both themselves. I saw someone else in the comments saying it’s like ignoring if someone is trans changed their name, but I respectfully disagree that this is a 1 for 1 comparison – calling someone Mike instead of Michael is not the same as calling someone Joe when they explicitly said they’re going by Jane now. Maybe it is because I have people randomly call me a diminutive when I definitely didn’t introduce myself as such, but I really just see it as something that’s worth correcting. I’m not saying not to be bothered by it; absolutely correct it, I just think that this is a comparison of two different issues; one where it’s not uncommon for people to use both a diminutive and full name while others only use the full name, and another issue where you’re completely disregarding a name, where transphobia is involved.

    For what it is worth, I have a name that’s commonly mixed up with other similar names (think meeting someone once and thinking they said their name was Emma instead of Anna) and I’ll just be like “actually my name is Anna not Emma” and people really don’t care. Generally they’re like oh sorry and we move on.

    Also I’m wondering if something else is going on in this relationship. I don’t think that calling someone Kate instead of Kaitlin (or other name) is inherently infantilizing and you mentioned you’re a woman and you’re colleague is a man. Is it possible he’s being subtly sexist in someways? You’re totally allowed to just be annoyed by someone calling you a name you don’t use but given the gendered element I just want to ask if this is part of a bigger picture as food for though.

  27. This is a name, I guess*

    OP#1 – slightly different opinion coming from a former academic: How much of your job is *actually* managing your friend and how much of it is administrative/HR management? Are you a departmental admin or center/institute admin? program assistant? How much are you actually managing your friend vs how much are you shuffling paperwork? Can you fire them? Do you have any real power over them? These questions will help you assess your true authority over your friend.

    Graduate student jobs don’t work the same as regular jobs. Often, the student works for or reports to a faculty and that faculty manages workload and performance issues (this exists more concretely in, say, labs and more abstractly in, say, the humanities, but the division of labor is there). But, there’s a staff that manages things like scheduling, contracts, sometimes professional development, etc. Academic admins can exist parallel to the faculty/grad student universe. It’s a very weird situation. In both my grad deparrtment, all of the grad students were friendly with the admin – who was our administrative supervisor as TAs. He didn’t really have power over us, but he did know our business.

    Moreover, academia just has different norms. It’s a different kind of collegial. It’s not super uncommon for grad students to stay with their advisors for short periods. It’s, in part, because faculty have tenure and grad students have different standards to meet for dismissal. It’s hard to describe, but I’d say grad students aren’t as “at-will” as employees in the US. There is some general belief – perhaps artificial/traditional – that students have a right to be at the university.

    If you’re just administratively supervising your friend, I would still suggest moving but I would say that you can give her your 60 days and look for a subletter, so that you don’t screw her over. You might tell your supervisor that you live with your roommate and your plan to move out if you’re worried. I don’t think people in your department would find the situation weird…you were former students together after all! This would be a totally normal situation for your department.

    If it were a regular white collar job, I would hew to Allison’s advice more closely. But, if you don’t have real power over your friend as a supervisor, I think you can leave on a slightly less harried (and harmful) timeline.

  28. Zach*

    #4- I’d ask management to clarify if you can take time in advance like Alison said may be possible. Almost every company I’ve ever worked for had PTO “accrued” on the books, but you knew how many days a year you would end up with and were always allowed to go into negative numbers as long as you didn’t take more days than you knew you would end up with at the end of the year. The only risk is that if you’re in the negative and quit/get fired, you have to pay back the difference, which is certainly a negative, but is definitely a rare occurrence (especially with sick time as opposed to vacation time where you likely wouldn’t be taking tons of days at a time unless there’s a crisis).

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah I technically didn’t get benefits at my new job for six months but they let me take advanced PTO when my dog died (insisted, actually). If something comes up the best thing to do is ask. Policies feel like hard lines but employing people just rarely works that way. I’m sure they’re prepared for this to come up.

    2. Squid*

      OP needs to be super understanding if it is a “no”, though – it’s an accounting nightmare if you aren’t set up to advance that time/claw it back if needed, and is really hard on smaller companies in particular.

  29. Scorbunny*

    Good luck, LW3, I’ve been in a similar situation and some people get really weird when you push back on this. There’s a diminutive of my name I don’t mind and will go by, and there’s a diminutive of my name that pushes all my buttons. I hate it, and as soon as someone tries using it, I will politely point out that I dislike it and ask people not to use it. Use the short version I like! Use my full name! Just don’t call me That One Thing.

    Once I had a coworker say, “Oh no, I like it, I’m gonna call you that,” in front of other coworkers, no less, and I just proceeded to ignore her every time she tried it. Told her “that’s not my name” if I was pressed on not responding to her. No one else used the diminutive I didn’t go by, and since the only thing any of this was accomplishing was making that one coworker look like a fool, I didn’t feel the need to escalate things anywhere.

    1. Moonlight*

      I’ve seen people pull similar stunts – I have a sibling who goes by a name like Jordan where the diminutive is Jord or Jordie. They HATE it when people use the Jordie version and feel it’s childish even though other adults totally use that version and there is nothing wrong with it; they associate it with adults being cutesy, and that’s what matters.

      It’s bizarrely obnoxious to push back. I’m sorry people are rude.

    2. Moonlight*

      I’ve seen people pull similar stunts – I have a sibling who goes by a name like Jordan where the diminutive is Jord or Jordie. They HATE it when people use the Jordie version and feel it’s childish even though other adults totally use that version and there is nothing wrong with it; they associate it with adults being cutesy, and that’s what matters.

      It’s bizarrely obnoxious to push back. I’m sorry people are rude. I’ve never had that problem, personally, but I’ve definitely seen people do this in a racist way; one of my friends is South East Asian and when we used to work together, she’d say her name and people would be like “I’m going to call you K/S/T/letter her name starts with”. Her name wasn’t even hard to say. The rudeness blew my mind.

      1. Scorbunny*

        Jord vs Jordie is very similar to my situation! I feel your sibling’s pain. I never went by the -ie diminutive even as a child, I just never liked it, haha. No one ever called me that!

        It’s just basic respect to use someone’s preferred name! Your poor friend, I’ve seen that done too and it’s infuriating.

        1. Moonlight*

          Right?! Like in my case, I don’t care if people call me Becca vs. Rebecca (not my real name), even though I introduce myself as Rebecca, I do often write down my name on things like water bottles, Rebecca is my default, which is why I see there being nuance; in my case, I don’t mind either way, in my siblings case it reads as infantilizing, and in my friends case it’s outright insulting and racist. It’s why I think the best thing to do is to just calmly and consistently correct people about your preference.

    3. ThisIsNoADuplicateComment*

      I knew someone named Deborah who was fine with Deb, but never Debbie. This one guy kept calling her Debbie until she finally snapped and called him Timmy. It never happened again :)

  30. StressedButOkay*

    OP2 – I would highly recommend trying to find another time for your lunches or putting a pause on them during the workday. You might find that your office has no problem with you flexing your time once a week to have a longer lunch but, generally, you don’t want to start off a relationship with your office with a white lie.

    OP4 – This is REALLY common. In fact, most companies who give you all the leave up front in January have stipulations attached to it. Such as you might ‘get’ your leave on January 1st but haven’t technically ‘earned’ it – so if you went and used all your leave and then left before you earned it, you would actually owe the company. (I worked at a company that had a system exactly like this.)

  31. Jane Bennett*

    OP 1: Would it be at all possible to move out immediately but still pay your share of the rent for the remainder of the lease? I know it’s a lot of money, but it might just help her out.

    1. Scout*

      That’s overkill, imo, and I don’t know anyone starting out who could pay double rent. Even if she could somehow manage it, it’s an unreasonable burden that will seriously set her back financially.

      This is a no-longer-than-a-year problem, max, assuming they signed their lease a nanosecond ago. Work is aware of it (“They haven’t mentioned it as a problem”). Sure, it’s smart to investigate possibilities like having a different/additional supervisor for the roommate, and it’s a good idea to move when she reasonably can, but she doesn’t need to pass up a good opportunity or wreck her finances.

  32. Lady In Underpants*

    3#–I understand how you feel, it’s weird to me when people do this.

    My name is Elizabeth, and I had a new contact the other day call me Liz right off the bat. I didn’t correct them because I don’t actually mind the name, but it surprised me that they would do that without asking first. Whatevs though.

    And don’t worry…I’m not THAT Elizabeth…just in case you’re familiar with that infamous email freakout from a few years back…

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      My sister’s name is also Elizabeth and she goes by a nickname but one that is less associated with her full name (Betsy). She gets called Beth a lot and has always corrected people – starting at age 3 with a full tantrum yelling at the person who called her the “wrong” name. Apparently there was also a little issue in kindergarten where they tried calling her Elizabeth. She wasn’t a fan of that at all. Good teacher though, they called her Betsy immediately but sent a note home to my parents that they might want to tell my sister that her legal name is Elizabeth so she is more prepared in the future.
      Meanwhile, I prefer the short version of my name and was THRILLED when my current employer asked me my preferred name before setting up my email. Named after my aunt so she always went by the full name and I the shorter name so I have never been called my full name (unless in big trouble as a kid).

      1. UKDancer*

        I can relate to your sister Betsy. I’ve never wanted my name (something like Isabella) shortened because I was named for a relative and she had the full name so I wanted the same.

        I got my name shortened at junior school by a boy who was not listening or respecting the fact I didn’t shorten my name. I said if he did it again I’d thump him. He did it again so I thumped him. It’s about the only time my eight year old self got in school suspension. The teacher had a word with my mother who said maybe he’d learn not to shorten peoples’ names in future.

    2. Moonlight*

      My name is one that often gets shortened to a masculine/neutral name (e.g., Andrea/Joanne/Roberta/Alanna being called Andy/Jo/Rob/Al) and it’s super weird when people elect to use that name. I feel like truncating to either (a) a masculine name or (b) a name where it could be multiples, such as Liz, Beth, Eliza, you’re kind of taking a gamble on which one the person uses or supposing you know they’re chill with a masculine/neutral name.

  33. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

    #1- You say your former employer reached out with a position “they would like you to take.” Do you have a formal offer with a start date? On more occasions than I’m happy to admit, I’ve had a word of mouth “sure thing” job offer from a contact at the university where I was doing my PhD, and I was told the application and interview were merely formalities, only to discover that the person offering the job may have overstated this a bit or found out that someone three levels above them in their chain of command had a niece or a someone who contacted them through their fraternity/sorority network who wanted the job, or the budget for the job just wasn’t there. So unless you have an offer letter and a start date, I would focus on a contingency plan for if it happens, but don’t move out until you know when you’re starting and you’ve signed a contract.

    Also, it’s March and most assistanships don’t go through the summer, and university hiring can take a long time, so even if this works out, you might not supervise your roommate (at least right away if she’s continuing with the assistantship next year, or at all if this is her last year), which would give you some time to figure out a plan of action.

    Given that this is a new role, someone has to be supervising her right now, I agree with others that you can probably explain the situation and have her supervised by someone else.

    1. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

      FWIW, you probably want to find a plan for someone else to supervise her even if you move out. I suspect it will still be weird for you and her, and for any other supervisees.

  34. Sunflower*

    #2, Is 30 minute lunch a company policy or just what people do because they’d rather be working than sitting around? After you start the job, look around and check if everyone actually only take a 30 minute lunch all the time or if they take longer once in a while.
    You can also ask your manager if you can take an hour lunch once a month and make up the time. No need to give a reason unless they ask.

  35. Nancy*

    LW2: just ask. Many places won’t care an about an employee taking an extra 30 minutes every 4 weeks for lunch.

    LW3: tell them the name you want to be called.

    LW4: every job I have ever had accrues time. It is not a big deal. If you don’t have enough, you usually get the time advanced. Look at the sick time policy for specifics on how it is handled.

    1. oranges*

      Yes, LW3, tell them!

      But also, everyone with a preferred name, please pick one and tell people. I always get annoyed when someone says, “I answer to both” when you ask. Like, your email signature says FullName, but someone in the thread just called you NickName, so the first time I meet you, I’m going to ask: “Is it Dave or David?” “Either is fine.”

      Uhhhhhg. I’m terrible with names to begin with, so please don’t make me assign you two.
      I know you care! PICK! ONE!

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Ugh…my brother in law does this. He has always gone by his initials but for some reason never corrected people at his first post-college job when they called him legal first name. For some reason he thought he had to be legal name at work (which is ridiculous because he gave everyone he was close to nicknames and called them that at work). When he changed jobs, he did the same thing because of references. Over 15 years later he is still legal name at work and hates it – his wife and I just roll our eyes because we both told him how to go about changing it last time he changed jobs. Gets weird when he becomes friends with coworkers outside work and half of us are “Who’s Patrick?” and the other half are “Who’s PJ?”

        1. Pennyworth*

          I worked with a woman who used her first name and birth surname at work, and her family used her second name and married surname. She was both Mary Smith and Elizabeth Jones – which we only found out when her dad rang asking for someone we’d never heard of.

  36. Beth*

    OP #4: having time off accrue is absolutely standard, at least in the US. You will experience this for most if not all of your working life; you might as well get used to it.

    What is very unusual in your situation is that you get time off when you only work part time! 60 hours? Way too many employers (again, US) don’t give any sick time at all to part-time workers. It sucks.

  37. Abigail*

    How many people have been in the flip side of LW5? I’ve been interviewed several times and it’s been clear the company needed to have an external candidate for show but intended to promote from within. In one case, they told me this flat out.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’ve got a civil service job, there’s only so many places I can go, and almost always in another city. I’m currently sitting on a couple of canvass letters for out of town jobs but based on some tiny clues in the posting, and my recent experiences, there’s almost always someone waiting in the wings with the job title already pencilled in on their name tag.

      I don’t have the emotional energy to do two more ghost-rejections after two more canned interviews, so I think I’m going to pass. Even having the day off for the road trip and a bit of networking isn’t appealing enough.

  38. DNDL*

    Re Question #5

    This happened to me and it was a huge PITA, and demoralized me and the person trying to hire me quite a bit. I was passed over for an internal stretch management job. I knew I would be–I didn’t have the experience. The person who got the stretch manager job then needed to fill her old job, which was more of a logical next step up for me promotion while still being a management job. I wanted to be in that job. She wanted me in that job. The head of HR came to me and asked me to apply for that job. The director of our organization told me I would be great in the job and asked me to apply. My own manager wanted me in the job. Basically, everyone agreed that I would be perfect for this job and it was a logical next step in my career. Furthermore, I was a rock star in my current role, had won multiple monetary awards for the work I was doing, and I was being severely underpaid. Everyone knew that to keep me in the company, I would need to be promoted and soon.

    Except….I work for a department in a city government, and city HR required they get X number of candidates before interviews could take place. So I had to apply for this promotion, and then wait for others to apply as well before the process could move forward. We had X-1 applicants for well over two months. I was growing increasingly demoralized by the situation. The department trying to hire was waaaaaaay short staffed. I was burning out in my current role due to pandemic-related reasons that wouldn’t apply to this new role. I basically had one foot out the door.

    Finally the person who would be my new manager made a case to our department HR, who in turn made a case to city HR. We sat at X-1 candidates for so long that finally city HR let us cut the bureaucratic nonsense and start interviews with 1 too few candidates. I got the job three days later, and started the job two weeks later. I am very happy in my new role.

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, OP #5. It’s not a great place to be. I hope you get the outcome you want.

  39. Ann Onymous*

    LW #3 – Definitely correct your coworker – you get to be called by the version of your name that you prefer. But for what it’s worth, your coworker probably isn’t intentionally trying to be disrespectful. It’s more likely he knows another Valentina who prefers to be called Val, so that’s just what he’s used to. Not a reason to not correct him, but a reason to be polite and assume good intentions (at least the first time) you correct him.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      OP clarified in the comments that this is a Spanish environment so it’s more like calling Carmen “Carmen-ita” than calling Jennifer “Jen”. So it’s a little different/overfamiliar/mayyybe disrespectful.

      1. Observer*

        True. But handling it 8to start with* as though there is no ill intent is still a good idea. Because if he responds to a polite but clear “Oh, I actually go by Carmen, not Carmenita” And he continues to call her Carmentia, she can STILL stop answering to that version. But now it’s clear that he’s not acting in good faith and she is not the one “making it weird”.

  40. Calibri Hater*

    LW 4:

    I’m pretty sure they do this accrual system because they don’t want to have to pay out if you quit. It’s pretty lame. I just take the time that I need and don’t worry about it. But I’m also kind of “fuck the system,” so take that with a grain of salt.

    1. doreen*

      Those don’t always go together – even if the employer grants all sick time at once, they don’t have to pay it out if you quit if sick time is its own separate bucket. . There are states where employers must pay out unused vacation and in those states single bucket PTO is treated as vacation but none where separate sick time is required to be paid out by law.

  41. Anonymous Koala*

    OP2, do you have a private space at/near work where you could do a virtual lunch? You and your friend could still have your lunch catch up without the commute time.

  42. IM*

    #2 Chats with your friends are mental health breaks/lunch breaks/personal time you are able to use when it is convenient for both you and your employer. It *IS* technically an appointment. You don’t owe them to tell them the specifics.
    Obviously, you should be flexible if things come up (your boss, if they’re an aware person, should check in with you if they need to move things around because of it and make a discussion out of it). It’s lunch. You are owed lunch, and you can do it whenever you want, within reason.
    If your new boss ends up being so overbearing that they dislike that you occasionally leave for one pre-scheduled full hour, that’s a red flag to me. As a manager of several employees, the only thing I pay attention to re: breaks is that they are taking them at all, and that they are taking them fully. If they go for an hour, that’s great as long — as they’re getting their work done and not taking advantage of other employees/me.

  43. Meow*

    OP#4 – just want to note this because I haven’t seen anyone else mention it – for things like surgery or other extended absences – these situations are often considered a leave of absence which may be separate from your sick time. In some cases this time is partially paid through short term disability (if your employer provides this or you live in a state that requires it). Also worth noting that about 10 states have paid leave available now (paid through taxes) for those situations. It’s possible your employer would only provide unpaid time off through FMLA but it’s also pretty likely you’d be eligible for at least STD. It’s hard to give specific advice without knowing where you’re located, company size, etc. but I recommend checking out the employee handbook which should have more details.

  44. CommanderBanana*

    Re: the LW whose coworker is using a nickname, what about name mispronunciations? I have an more unusual pronunciation of a fairly common name (think, Andrea but pronounced An-dray-ah instead of the more common Ann-dree-ah).

    I’ve been at my office for several years now and about a third of my coworkers consistently mispronounce my name, and I’ve noticed it’s definitely the white men in higher positions who continue to say it wrong despite multiple corrections. Some have even turned it into a oh-hee-hee-aren’t-I-bad-at-names thing, which is really grating on me. What do you do when repeated corrections are ignored? I don’t care when external partners I only see a few times a year screw it up, but I think my coworkers can reasonably be expected to remember how to pronounce my name.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Depends how much you care.

      If I care, I will correct them every time. Politely, but I will always do it.
      I’ve also come up with words that sound similar to help guide pronunciations.
      If they’re like “I’m bad at names”, I just tell them I’d appreciate it if they made the effort anyway.

      I tend to be pretty aggressive about it at the start (if I care, I don’t always), because once people start introducing you to other people using the wrong pronunciation, it can get out of control pretty quickly.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Honestly, I care more now that I’ve noticed it’s almost exclusively white men who can’t seem to learn how to pronounce my name.

    2. Observer*

      I thin it depends on how much you care, how egregious the mistakes are, and how much capital you have to burn vs how much capital it would take to push back. If it’s a really simple thing for people to get right, I would be REALLY tempted to not answer to the wrong pronunciation. But you may not be in a position to do that.

  45. Spicy Tuna*

    I’m just coming on here to state that in 20+ years of working at a variety of different US based corporations, always in a salaried role, a lunch break has never been an option. The expectation is that lunch is to be eaten while working at your desk. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but in 5 different companies over the years, only hourly employees were given an unpaid lunch break.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      That sounds awful, especially if you’re exempt. I’ve been working professionally for 25+ years and have never worked at a place where that’s the expectation. Feeling thankful.

      There are more than a few companies that have prohibited eating at your desk. Food allergies, food smells, rodents (the dead mice we found while rearranging cube walls was enough to make me never eat at my desk again), etc. are all good reasons to provide an area to eat, not to mention the mental break that 30-60 minute gives you.

    2. Observer*

      There are many employers where this is absolutely not the case. So much so that I would say that anyone who has options should not take a job where they can never walk away for lunch.

  46. Old Cynic*

    re #3. I once started a job where people called me by a diminutive of my name. I always would correct. Then one day I was pulled aside by a senior manager and admonished for doing that. I shared a given name with the CEO/Owner who preferred the diminutive and I was told I was being disrespectful to him by preferring my full name. I was nonplussed.

    1. Scout*

      You should have told them that you didn’t feel worthy of using the same form of the name as the CEO/owner.

  47. Purple Cat*

    The responses to LW2 are a little said.
    We’re raked over the coals in the US and pressured to never use the pitiful time off we’re given and an hour lunch once a month is now deemed totally unreasonable. It should not be a burden (assuming this isn’t a coverage-based position) to block you’re calendar once a month. And all of these people “willing to move for medical apointments and not lunch with friends) are you REALLY delving into everybody’s personal business every time a meeting is tough to schedule. It’s none of your business! And meetings shouldn’t be over lunch time anyway except in case of extreme circumstances.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ This. Ironically, I’ve come to be quite leery of companies that are skimpy on benefits except for paid leave and will tout the amount of paid leave you can accrue, because I’ve learned that while paid leave is great, it’s useless if you’re never allowed to take it, or the office culture is such that anyone who takes leave is side-eyed.

    2. Spicy Tuna*

      I once had a boss that was on a permanent diet. He was always in a raging bad mood because he would only drink black coffee all day. He would ALWAYS schedule meetings during lunch time to distract himself from eating and we were not allowed to bring food to these meetings. Not productive AT ALL!

  48. Kelly*

    Yeah, it’s not a huge deal! I also don’t think you need to wrap it in the language of “for your mental health” to elevate it or justify it. It’s just a lunch with a friend.

  49. Don't kneel in front of me*

    To LW2: I would just continue to have lunch with my friend. If you “temporarilly” cancel then it’ll probably end up being a permanent cancellation. Its once a month, its only an extra half hour, and people shouldn’t be scheduling meetings at lunchtime anyway. I can’t recall a single occassion where anyone ever questioned a block of time on my calendar, so I’m skeptical most people would want to know or even care.

  50. FashionablyEvil*

    #3–I had a colleague (named Doug) who kept doing that to various people. I finally got confused when he talked about “Mike” because my other colleague was ALWAYS “Michael.” And I said to him, “You know, you call people by nicknames a lot. It can be disrespectful and people often don’t like it.” And he scoffed and said it wasn’t a big deal. I said, “okay, Dougie!”
    He never did it again.

  51. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    #5 can absolutely backfire on organizations. I interviewed for a role I’d been covering for almost six months, and of the two external candidates that were also interviewing, one didn’t show up.

    The next day I was called into my boss’s office and told they were ready to offer the role to me, but first had to find a third person to interview. The job would be posted for several weeks again, weeks to schedule interviews, etc. I walked back to my desk and immediately started applying elsewhere.

    It took six weeks to get that third, not great person through the process, and the day they finally offered me the job, I told my boss I’d accepted another job two days prior and was resigning. They had to do it allll again, so the role took almost six months to fill.

    I remember saying to my boss that morning after my interview, very clearly, “I’m either good enough to hire right now or I’m not. You prolonging this process is telling me I’m not.”

  52. Alice*

    Number 3 – if everyone in this office expects people to pick up “don’t call me Allie” from introducing yourself as Alice and never correcting someone who says “Allie,” then what else are people not saying? I wonder if this guy actually doesn’t pick up on social cues, or if this office just has a lot of mind-readers.

    1. LW 3*

      The comment about him not picking up social cues was related to another incident, that I didn’t want to go into as it’s not related, but it helps paint a picture of someone who’s a bit clueless.
      Honestly I don’t understand why you used that to draw a conclusion that we don’t talk about things and are an office of mind-readers.

  53. RB*

    #2 — I think it’s fine to call it an appointment — appointments aren’t always medical, think haircuts, massages, these are things you’d normally schedule during the workday because most of those people don’t work evenings and weekends. And some of those are recurring appointments.

    Maybe one accommodation you could make is in how you set it up on your calendar. Like don’t put it as Busy but as Tentative (if you use Outlook). Then if someone really needs to schedule a meeting over that time, they can do so.

  54. moonstone*

    Workplace norms vary a lot re lunches, but at my salaried 9-5 workplace, it wouldn’t be a big deal to do monthly hour long lunches and work an extra half hour before or after your usual workday. The main exceptions to this are, I would only do this on days I know are light (so not on days where we’re are urgently trying to wrap up something by COB and I could potentially be called on to quickly fix something) or if there was a very important meeting where the other person could only meet during lunch hour. And they are no more frequently than once a month. I mean, use your common sense about workplace norms once you’ve worked there for a while, but my office doesn’t closely monitor how many minutes people spend on lunch and it’s understood that breaks can vary depending on how heavy or light someone’s work schedule is. If you’re scheduling it on your Outlook, you don’t have to call it an “appointment”, just be upfront that it’s a lunch meeting. Just make sure to prioritize work appointments if they happen to coincide with those times and reschedule your lunch.

  55. moonstone*

    #5: This makes me wonder, how do orgs differentiate promotions vs applying internally for roles?

    I have mixed feelings about the situation in this letter. On one hand, I approve of transparency and open hiring, but I also feel bad for internal candidates who are promotion-ready but then are held back by this kind of bureaucracy. I ALSO feel bad for external job candidates who waste their time prepping for interviews for jobs they have no shot at.

  56. My name is Barbara*

    There has been a lot of advice on this, and I don’t mean to be cynical, but you may not be able to stop this. My name is Barbara and 95% of people call me Barb, even in emails without even meeting me. About 5% ask me what I prefer, and I would say that about 4% call me Barb anyway, even after I’ve told them I prefer Barbara. I am in my 50s and have worked at multiple workplaces. I have tried everything, from polite emails, to asking nicely, to snapping at people, to ignoring people. It. Does. Not. Work. It still annoys me, but now I will correct people once and then ignore it after that. If I decided I’m going to correct them every time, it becomes so frequent that it interferes with work. I don’t believe there is any way to stop this. Truly.

    I can tell that people are surprised sometimes when my husband refers to me as “Barbara.” Like they didn’t know.

  57. MCMonkeyBean*

    For LW2, I don’t see why you can’t try just laying your cards out on the table and asking your boss about it. Might as well! Once a month isn’t that frequent, and it sounds like when you say it seems like they take half hour lunches that that’s more just the culture rather than like official clock-out-for-30-min scheduled breaks right?

    I’d probably talk with your manager and mention that you are used to longer lunches and have been keeping a scheduled lunch meeting about once a month, then ask whether it might be workable for you to continue having your meetings and maybe stay a half hour late on the days you take your longer lunch. It’s possible they will say no but it also seems like it would be a very easy thing to accommodate and unless you are in a coverage-based job it seems unlikely to really have an impact on anyone else on your team so I don’t think it would be a wildly inappropriate thing to ask.

  58. Letter writer #4*

    Hi all….So,
    I work for a call center so the time off is used for whatever and it doesn’t carry over so it needs to be used by December 31 or you lose it. I personally have a chronic condition so I saved mine for when I need to take time off for doctors appointments or surgery. I have only been able to do that because it wasn’t accrued. I have been attempting to find out if we can accrue in advance if needed, but nobody at HR seems to know what I am talking about. The way it is now, I will have to save it all in case I need it during the year. If I don’t end up needing to use it, I will have to use it all by the end of the year which is why I mentioned it initially.

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