packing up your office before you quit, boss is abusive when people resign, and more

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

1. Will it look weird to pack up my office before I resign?

I am about to resign my job, and have a conundrum about packing my office. This would not normally be even a question for me, but due to the potential for business issues (think acquisition or competition), there has been inconsistency over what level of employee has been allowed to work their two-week notice period versus being immediately walked out due to perceived risk. I have expensive (self purchased) reference books in my office and a few dearly loved plants, as I have been at this company many years. While I have a good relationship with boss and peers, would it be taken wrong if due to the potential risk of being walked (out of my direct manager’s control), I were to fully clean my office the night before giving notice?

Nah, if they’re walking some people out as soon as they give notice, it’s reasonable to take your things home ahead of time. Particularly if you’re just talking about some books and plants home, it’s definitely no big deal. If it’s going to be a clean-out so thorough that it looks like locusts came through and left the space totally barren, it will look weirder but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. In a context where some people get walked out immediately, it shouldn’t come across as an F-you, just a practical measure (assuming your demeanor doesn’t convey an F-you, which it doesn’t sound like it will).

2. My boss will be abusive when I resign

I work in a deli in the downtown of a city. It’s busy and lively, walking distance from concerts, events, and festivals. The only thing driving me away is my boss. She has been the owner of the deli for about 35 years. She is normally very hostile and grumpy, as if she doesn’t want to be there or is mad I am. I have worked for her for three years, solely because I’m afraid to leave. She often pouts and will be nasty towards her employees if we say something that happens to upset her unintentionally. She also gossips and badmouths her employees and customers behind their backs.

Her employees normally only last a few weeks, before they inevitably don’t show up. My coworker, who has been there for seven years, and I are her longest employees. My coworker put in her two weeks today, which my boss responded to by saying, “I hate you.” For the rest of the day she was nasty, threw things, and pouted as if she was a toddler.

How do I leave in a way that avoids this? I have an all-day interview on Thursday for a job I’m almost certain I will get.

It doesn’t sound like you can avoid it, because your boss has shown that this is who she is. Your better bet is to accept that it will happen, which will validate your decision to leave in the first place.

However, you don’t need to stick around if she’s abusive about your resignation (or about anything else, for that matter). If she’s rude or childish, which it sounds like she will be, you can simply say, “It sounds like you’d prefer I wrap up today, so I’ll get my things and clock out.” Or, “I’m happy to work out a two-week notice period, but I can’t do that if you’re going to speak to me like this. In that case, this would need to be my last day. Which would you prefer?”

Since you’ve stayed there for three years solely because you’ve been afraid to leave, I suspect you might feel nervous about saying something like that. But it’s a perfectly professional response, it’s more than warranted, and there’s no reason you can’t calmly decline to be treated abusively. I hope you’ll set that boundary! You will feel enormous liberation once you do.

(Alternately, you’re really under no obligation to give two weeks notice at all to someone who behaves this way. You might choose to do it to preserve the reference, but it’s worth asking yourself how confident you are that she’ll give you a decent one regardless of how you handle your resignation.)

3. Should I let my boss grab me coffee just to be polite?

My boss goes to get coffee in the morning and sometimes afternoon, and she usually asks me if I want anything. I decline, because I bring lunch to work and I usually have my coffee before I show up at work.

Should I say yes every now and then, even though I don’t really want anything, to maintain a good relationship?

In a lot of cases, accepting someone’s hospitality at least occasionally is a more gracious move than always declining it. But if that means you’re going to end up with coffee you don’t really want that your boss will be needlessly spending money on, there are lots of other good ways to build a relationship with her. If you were struggling to find ways to connect, then maybe. But assuming you have a good relationship and you have other moments of connection, you can cheerfully say, “I’m set, but thank you!” and leave it at that. And because she’s probably asking each time to be polite, you might try a blanket “no thanks” like, “You’re so kind to ask but don’t feel you need to check with me — I almost always bring my lunch and grab coffee before work.”

4. Is it discrimination not to hang our coats near smokers’ coats?

I work in a well-known retail store. Several of the employees are sensitive to smoke and refuse to hang out coats on the common rail. We approached management about having a designated portion of the rod for smokers at one end and non-smokers at the other. We were told it is discrimination. Is it?

No. Your managers don’t know the law and are being absurd.

5. Listing company awards on a resume

I’m on a job search. My current employer is a relatively big company with lots of internal incentive programs, including “peer bonuses,” which are given with relatively little management input, and some more formal awards that require nomination and involve some selection process. The latter tend to have whimsical in-jokey names that wouldn’t necessarily make sense outside the company (like if you gave out “Askys”). I have received several of both of these and they would be a fairly big deal internally when asking for a raise or going for a promotion. I am wondering if they are worth listing on a resume, as a signal of being a high performer (e.g., “Received four peer bonuses and a peer-nominated Asky Award”) or if they will seem like obscure puffery? Or, worse, like unverifiable lies?

Mention the awards, but since the names will have no meaning to anyone outside your company, write what the award was for instead of using the name. So for example, “received company-wide award for above-and-beyond work” or “won peer award for most creative solution to a problem after a company-wide vote” or whatever info will put it in context. The name isn’t the important part; what matters are the reason for the award and any details that indicate how competitive it was.

{ 330 comments… read them below }

  1. supertoasty*

    OP4: Discrimination against smokers is… well, it’s definitely, um, one of the arguments ever made. If someone tries using “cigarrophobia” or “smokerophobia” or something of that nature unironically, please feel free to a) laugh in their face and b) record it so that I can laugh too.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is what happens when a perfectly good word like discrimination loses its meaning. It is perfectly fine to discriminate — we do it all the time. When it comes to people it is perfectly fine to discriminate based on people’s behavior, their public health habits and if their coats are smokey or not. This poor LW to be managed by such doofuses.

      1. AJoftheInternet*

        Exactly! I was just saying this to someone. What’s a problem is “wrongful discrimination” where you discriminate against a person for things out of their control, or for harmful reasons. But I’m absolutely discriminating between, say, potential nannies for my children based on their philosophy of childcare, because that is a case where discrimination is important!

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          I’ve always thought ”you’re judging” as a pejorative is very stupid, because yes… judgement is a good thing of itself, in many situations.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Mostly when you’re accused of being judgmental, the accuser knows full well that you’re in the right and they’re in the wrong. “You’re being judgmental” actually means “you’re making me feel bad and I have nothing to say to redeem myself”.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Well, I don’t know that it’s lost its meaning, it is a lot like “hostile” work environment; there’s a specific, narrow meaning used for certain situations, and a broader meaning out of context, and people are confusing the two. But, come to think of it, it might be better to invent a new or modified word, or at least always use modifier words, like “illegal protected class discrimination”…or probably something shorter, but more specific.

        1. Lacey*

          The meaning has sort of been changing to be always negative. Which happens a lot with words.
          “Discriminate” used to be used more like “Discern” just like “Doom” used to be used more like “Fate” – it could be good or bad.

      3. Phony Genius*

        It sure is discrimination. Perfectly legal and acceptable discrimination. Most discrimination is legal.

        And I wouldn’t be surprised if the managers are the smokers.

        1. Candi*

          Smoking tobacco’s also the one thing that has no qualifiers to “it’s bad”. It’s often an addiction, and people often need help fighting addictions because of the nature of addiction, but unlike pretty much every other thing that it’s possible to get addicted to, it has no redeeming qualities to justify why it should be done or why it should exist in the first place.

          Combine that with sensitivity and allergy to tobacco smoke, and those managers are being ultra-ridiculous.

      4. This is a name, I guess*

        I just found out today that there actually are Smokers Protection laws on the books in 29(!?!) states. They don’t protect smokers in this case, but it makes sense why people with get anxious about this.

        1. Candi*

          I have to ask -what’s the geographical layout of those? Because I notice a strong overlap between non-progressive laws and states in the US southeast.

      5. Splendid Colors*

        Exactly. The script for this is “Smokers are not a protected class under the EEOC.”

    2. Mm*

      I wonder whether the smokers have something else in common that makes the managers think this is discrimination – such as they are all the same race. Still not discrimination, but the response would make more sense.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          My guess is that the managers know very little about the law. And perhaps someone once told them “you can’t do that, it’s illegal.”

      1. Spero*

        I have actually seen this in a restaurant setting. In that case, it was male weed smokers who were of one racial group, and largely female nonsmokers primarily of another race. It was perceived and discussed by the smoking group as both a racial and a front of house vs back of house form of discrimination under cover of objection to smoking. To be very clear, not saying any particular racial group does or does not have a corner on smoking weed – it was just the case in this particular group.

        If it is NOT just tobacco they are talking about for ‘smokers’ then I can also support this. Cigarette smoke isn’t pleasant, but it is nowhere near as bad as clothing that reeks of other smoke from lighting up on commute.

        1. Koalafied*

          Eh, the relative offensiveness of odors varies from person to person. To me, marijuana smoke and campfire smoke are smells, the way sauteed onions and honeysuckle and shampoo and farts are just smells for me – I may not like a smell, but my dislike of it is purely an affective response. Cigarette smoke OTOH is an allergen that will make me physically unwell – I’ve had my eyes start itching uncontrollably and my sinus passages close up so tightly that I have to start breathing through my mouth within 5 minutes of getting into a car with someone who had finished smoking a cigarette 2-3 minutes before they got in. (And just like cigarettes might just be a smell to some even though they’re an allergen to me, some of the things that are just smells to me are allergens or migraine triggers etc for other people.)

          1. This is a name, I guess*

            Agree. Fresh marijuana smoke is probably equally pungent, but I’ve never seen it permeate and persist on someone or in a room the way cigarette smoke does. If someone smokes tobacco in their house, you know the second you walk in. If someone is a marijuana smoker, you only really smell it if they are HUGE stoners, if they have a huge filled ashtray, or if they just lit up.

            I’d guess that if someone is like Joint Boy from Letterkenny (that is, 10 joints a day or something like that) they’d probably be pretty stinky, too? I think there’s something in cigarette smoke that makes it persist longer and permeate deeper, but I also think the difference comes from the fact that most marijuana smokers simply smoke their substance of choice less than cigarettes. No judgement. Just observing.

            1. Candi*

              Cigarette and pot smoke both have sticky residues, but, while both are nasty for coating the lungs, pot smoke residue, for whatever reason, doesn’t coat the environment the way cigarette smoke does. And according to my son, pot residue is easier to clean up. (I told him I prefer him eating his pot -smoke’s not good for the lungs in any form.)

          2. Hrodvitnir*

            Yep. Marijuana doesn’t smell too bad to me, but cigarettes very much do, and it definitely seems to irritate my breathing much more (though obviously weed smoke isn’t great either, I am asthmatic.)

            It’s fairly recently I realised a lot of people find the smell of marijuana smoke stronger/worse than cigarettes. I guess it significantly depends what you’ve been exposed to.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              There are different strains of cannabis that have more or less of that godawful skunky chemical. I am not a connoisseur of cannabis so I don’t know if skunky weed is more potent or cheaper or what, but I do know that whatever strain my neighbors smoke on the balcony smells like they have an angry pet skunk.

      2. Nanani*

        Even then, separate coat racks aren’t discriination unless something truly wacky that the letter doesn’t mention is happening, like one of the racks being outside in the rain

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          I mean, putting the smokers’ coats out in the rain WOULD help with the odor…

          1. Candi*

            Temporarily. Plain water won’t help the sticky residue that’s the main source of tobacco smell lingering… and lingering… Even heavy-duty soap doesn’t help much, according to people cleaning housing after a heavy smoker has passed.

            Smokers really don’t realize how much they smell, either. My current apartment complex has a big sign by the leasing office that they are a Smoke-Free Living Space. I walked by -laundry room is across from the leasing off- while the owner was outside talking to a prospective tenant. PT was swearing he totally didn’t smoke. Even from three feet away, his scent said otherwise.

    3. SarahKay*

      When I was at university (25+ years ago, so smoking still allowed indoors) a group of smokers put forward a motion that they were a minority and being discriminated against, and to remove that discrimination all the orange Non-Smoking signs should be changed to green Smoking Allowed signs, and the (very few) green Smoking Allowed signs swapped for Non-Smoking.
      They were laughed at. Loudly. Even by other smokers.

      1. Hollywood Handshake*

        To make an issue of the coat rack seems silly at this point. Smokers have been “discriminated against” (for good reasons) by being made to smoke in designated areas for a very long time now. To ask them to hang their clothes on a different hook is much less invasive. And as noted elsewhere, smokers are not a protected class. Who might be protected are people with health issues that could be aggravated by the smell of smoke, so they should be the ones accomodations should be made for.

        1. Artemesia*

          Well you have nailed it. The protected class here are people who are having a negative reaction to cigarette smoke. And give that this boss is truly a jcka$$ this argument is the one to use. Sheesh.

          1. Beth*

            *waves hand* One of my most severe allergies is to cigarette smoke — as in, one whiff and I have a migraine, two whiffs and I’m actively sick. I had real struggle at one job where my boss was a secret smoker and had trouble believing that it actually affected me. Oh, and we were in a building that was mandated non-smoking everywhere, no exceptions.

        2. This is a name, I guess*

          Yup! One way to fight this is to make the argument that employees with protected health conditions (asthma, lung stuff, sensory disabilities, etc) are the ones being discriminated against. They are being meaninglessly exposed to allergens.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      As a former smoker I find this ridiculous. My dry cleaning bills to try and get rid of the smoke smell in my clothes are happily in the past, and I certainly wouldn’t want to have to pay for someone else’s lifestyle choice. (Smoking is a choice, quitting is extremely difficult, but it’s still an option. )

      1. Seriously?*

        I never smoked, but my father did. And in the house until after I was in college. I never realized how much I smelled like smoke until I went to college. I’d rewash all my clothes when I got there.

        Congrats on quitting!

        1. Zephy*

          Same. I never smoked but my parents did, in the house, and when I went away to college the breaks were seemingly timed to fall JUST when my clothes stopped smelling like smoke anymore.

        2. tiny hanni*

          This was my situation too! My mom smokes, and I had no clue how badly I must have smelled my entire life until I got to college. My boyfriend (now husband) was the one to tell me. Now I can totally smell the smoke smell whenever I see her or go visit. You really are nose-blind to it when you live with a smoker.

      2. Caroline Bowman*

        Very true!

        And it’s a practial, real-world issue, i.e. a pervasive smell, much like ”please remember to clean out the office fridge” isn’t discriminating against people who use it to keep their lunch, it’s just that it can get nasty if it’s not kept hygienic. Lots of places have policies against perfume too, or radios playing.

    5. Missy*

      Kentucky includes smoking in its employment discrimination law. ( However, that wouldn’t impact this situation since the law requires smokers to comply with any workplace policies and having a separate area to hang coats isn’t a condition of employment.

      (I’m a lawyer but not in Kentucky, so I don’t know the specifics. I just remember it from law school because it came up as a sort of “here’s a weird thing that you won’t see in most places” fact).

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

      When I was younger I got in serious trouble because my jacket smelled of cigarettes and weed. Turns out it was one of my schoolmates, who chainsmoked like there was no tomorrow. I avoid smelly jackets and coats since that day and if someone claimed discrimination because of it, it would sour ny opinion of them.

    7. RetailInducedTrauma*

      At my last job we had several Spanish-language interpreters. Apparently someone had told them at some point it was discrimination for them to speak Spanish to each other, since English-only workers might be afraid they were talking about them in another language (!!!). When I became their supervisor I made clear this was foolishness.

      1. Observer*

        It’s probably not legally forbidden discrimination for them to talk Spanish around non-Spanish speaking staff. But requiring conversations in front of staff or customers to be in a language that most people understand is not foolishness (in most cases). Whether it’s legal to have such a requirement is a different question – It seems that some “English Only” policies have been challenged as being intended to discriminate based on national origin.

    8. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Not only nuts, but (probably) backwards. People are often sensitive to smoke because of health issues (allergies, asthma, migraines) and THEY are not receiving the perfectly reasonable accommodation they are asking for, in violation of the ADA if it is applicable.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Absolutely. This is beyond a reasonable accommodation for real ADA covered issues. They’re opening themselves up to legal trouble, not preventing it.

    9. Gray Lady*

      This isn’t discrimination in any credible sense, though, regardless of whether it’s justifiable or not. “This are for this and this area for that” are not discrimination if both areas are literally subsets of the *same* area, and not completely separate facilities in any way. It would be like having a place where people needed to change their shoes, and asking people to put their shoes in one place if they were wet, but in an adjacent space if they were dry.

    10. Dust Bunny*

      My winter coat is a heavy wool Navy pea jacket. No way am I hanging it next to a smoky coat and having to smell it all the way home.

    11. AnonInCanada*

      Agreed. I would also have a designated place for those who want to bathe in cologne or perfume

    12. Momma Bear*

      I am sensitive to smoke of any kind. I would be looking for options for my coat if that was the situation because I would have an allergic reaction to my own clothes if they picked up the smoke scent. I don’t care if someone smokes, but I don’t want my clothes to smell like it.

    13. This is a name, I guess*

      I mean, the Left can also be illiberal and censorious in the US. It’s not just the domain of the Right. It’s frequently part of the commentary culture on this site even.

      And, I’ve seen some people on the left conflate smoking and being blue collar/low-income. As a result, you get people with illiberal tendencies propping up anti-smoking policies as classist. People think they are defending the rights of the marginalized (blue collar, workers, etc) by doing this.

      Of course, there’s a kernel of truth. Sin taxes (like cigarette taxes) are regressive taxes that harm already marginalized low-income people. We should pay attention practical, concrete issues like the toll of *all* regressive taxes (not individual ones). But, some people pretty easily translate “we need to be thoughtful about asking the poorest members of society to fund preventative services they cannot even access through regressive taxes” and “CLASSISM! We must protect the right of people to smoke because the people who smoke are more likely to be poor.”

      (Obviously, this doesn’t even begin to address disability and the impacts of second-hand smoke.)

        1. This is a name, I guess*

          Yup. I agree. I’m shedding light on how smoking might have gotten connected to “discrimination” in our current culture war.

    14. Mother Trucker*

      I am a smoker and if a coworker advised me that the smell of smoke on my coat bothered them I would find another place for my coat. It is my bad habit, not theirs. Same goes with heavy perfumes, candles, oils, etc. Others physical discomfort trumps unnecessary wants.

  2. Observer*

    #2 – I’m not a big fan of ghosting. But if that’s what you need to do, do it. Give your resignation. But if you can;t bring yourself to tell her that you are not going to stick around (Alison’s script is perfect) if she’s abusive, just leave for the night and don’t come back the next day.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      If she starts screaming at you or throwing things, walking out in the middle of the day is also perfectly acceptable. It’s best if you can say something along the lines of “I was willing to work my two weeks notice, but not if you’re going act like that,” before walking out the door (never to return), but if you want to do it at a dead run without saying anything at all, I wouldn’t fault you for it.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yes – it sounds like you’re not going to get a good reference in the future regardless (which is another sign that she is awful, not a reflection on you!) so you literally have nothing to lose. What can she do, fire you?

      1. Candi*

        I think it might be helpful to OP to point out that this is a pattern we’ve seen on this site.

        The type of boss described always gets furious when people leaves, even if it’s for medical or family. Some openly speak of it as betrayal.

        They undermine the people leaving to the remaining employees.

        And they’ll often promise or imply a good reference, but when they’re asked, they never, ever give a good reference.

    3. LDN Layabout*

      Ghosting is literally only going to extend the contact the LW has with their boss.

      If an employee you’ve had for three years doesn’t show up the next day with no heads up, it’s likely going to lead to a cycle of the owner trying to contact the LW and their emergency contact or even contacting the police for a wellness check.

      1. Chriama*

        I think this is one time where resigning by text or email would be acceptable. One message and then blocking the boss would likely be my tactic.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Blocking would feel good, but it’s perhaps better to receive whatever wacky messages they might send just in case they start saying something like “I overpaid you by X amount and you must refund me” because it could get nasty if you don’t answer with proof that you received the right amount, or refund the excess.
          Although the messages could all go into a folder to be read when you feel up to it rather than when checking for messages from the new boss.

      2. FlyingAce*

        That’s a good point. I was in a similar situation (small company with abusive owner/boss) and ghosted, or at least tried to ghost my boss. I didn’t show up for work one Monday, and instead went to a previous workplace where I knew they were constantly hiring; as luck would have it, they could accommodate me to start that same evening. Boss ended up calling pretty much everyone in my family – it didn’t help that I had not discussed my plans with them yet.

        All’s well that ends well, though – I ended up staying at my new job for about 3 years, then at the next one for 3 more, then to my current one where I’ve been for 7 years. I’ve never needed a reference from that old place and never heard from old boss again (even though the job before my current one was in the same small industry).

        1. Artemesia*

          yeah, you can’t ‘ghost’ — you do have to resign but once having done so you don’t have to stick around for abuse. And if you are really afraid you can certainly resign by email, phone or text.

    4. Isabelle*

      I would also have a long think about why you’re afraid of leaving this toxic environment.
      Is it because you need a reference from her? It’s very likely that business owners in your community are already aware of her so they won’t put much weight in a reference from her, they may not even contact her at all. You could also ask your ex-colleague for a reference.
      Or is it because she reminds you of an abusive person from a previous job or a family member? In that case therapy is a great help.

      OP if someone ever treats you like that again, walk out. Unless you are in a situation where you’re absolutely desperate for money and have no other options, never stay in an abusive work environment.

      PS: make sure to write a Glassdoor review.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A deli is ptobably small enough that OP would not be at all anonymous.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Does this even matter if OP’s pretty certain the boss won’t give them a good reference anyway?

      2. Momma Bear*

        I agree. To stay out of fear is something that OP needs to think about – no one deserves abuse at home or at work.

        OP, please quit, but be prepared for her to be horrible. BUT also remember it is not your fault. So she hates you – she certainly hasn’t treated you well, has she? Expect it, expect to have to cut your leave notice time short, and stand up for yourself. Once you are not her employee, her behavior is not your problem.

    5. Reality.Bites*

      I don’t see the point in giving her the opportunity to treat her badly.
      Boss is a known quantity. It’s not as if she’s ever NOT acted like that when someone quits. This isn’t a Western – LW doesn’t have to let boss “fire first” in order to be honourable. Quit by email, phone or letter.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I think not having this conversation face to face is a great option!

        There is no magic secret combination of words that will make this boss suddenly not be like this. This is what she does every day! I can imagine how the LW would be so intimidated. But you can have this conversation on your terms.

      2. Observer*

        I agree completely. “Give your resignation” does not have to be in person.

        But if the OP does do it in person, it’s just fine for them to leave and just not come back to work out their notice period, and to do so without saying anything.

    6. Lacey*

      Yeah. I think I’d just call the next day and let her know I wasn’t coming in. Would she be pissed? Yes. Of course. But it sounds like she’ll be exactly as angry if you give two weeks notice so…

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Yes, or exactly as angry if the OP didn’t quit at all, but instead did something egregious like getting a haircut the boss doesn’t like.

        Basically, the boss is going to be angry no matter what you do. So plan for that, rather than trying to come up with some magical way to avoid it. Good luck!

    7. AnonInCanada*

      This. This boss/owner has proven she won’t give you anything in return for your loyalty (staying the full two weeks for a good reference.) At the first abusive word, hang up your apron, take your belongings, tell her to mail your final paycheque on payday, and take the back door out. You may need to fight with her for the final cheque (or sick the labour board on them,) so don’t ghost her immediately just yet.

      For your own sanity and mental health, please get away from this abusive boss.

    8. This is a name, I guess*

      Agree. Though I also agree with the commenter below that straight-up ghosting will likely end in more abuse.

      I think the tempered ghosting approach here is submit your resignation via text/email after your last shift and never show up again. Block all numbers and emails.

      If you care a lot about your coworkers, maybe arrange for some PTO right now for after your last day so you aren’t on the schedule. I would even encourage fibbing about needing to take a leave for a medical procedure to ensure it’s approved if getting PTO approved it hard. You owe nothing to this boss; you may care about your coworkers.

      This would be the best harm reduction strategy in my book. You don’t have to experience in-person harassment. You can avoid a ghosting-related freak-out. Your coworkers aren’t totally left in the lurch.

      Also hard agree with Allison et al that you don’t want this person as a reference.

  3. Jonquil*

    LW3, sometimes when I don’t want an actual coffee, but want to invest in the relationship I say “I’ve already had mine, but do you mind if I come for the walk?” and head out with them while they buy their coffee. That way you don’t have to get a coffee you don’t want, but you still get time for some informal chat with your colleague/boss, and you also get a few minutes break from your desk. Obviously that presupposes your boss wouldn’t mind the company, but it sounds like she would be fine with you tagging along.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I really liked Alison’s point about how if you were struggling to find ways to connect, then trying to take up an offer might make sense even if you don’t necessarily want the specific noun in question.

      1. Evan Þ*

        This. Back when everyone was in the office, my boss regularly invited me for coffee, and I happily went with him and got a hot chocolate or nothing.

    2. anonymous73*

      This is a great idea. I don’t like the idea of accepting something you don’t really want just to try and build some rapport with the manager, but tagging along is a great alternative and everyone could use a break from their desk for a few minutes.

    3. I'm just here for the cats.*

      Depending on the job they might not be able to. For example, a receptionist wouldn’t be able to go for a walk to get coffee because they would need to stay at the desk. Or there may be other business reasons why you wouldn’t go.

      1. Anon all day*

        This is a bit “not everyone can eat sandwiches.” It’s a good suggestion (and one I’ve done in the past) even if it’s not possible for every single job out there. I’m not sure the relevance of saying that it doesn’t fit every job.

    4. tinyhipsterboy*

      Also, coffee shops usually have more than just coffee! There’ll usually be herbal tea you could order if you’re wary of having more caffeine after your daily coffee, and if that’s not as much of an issue, black tea and green tea are usually options too. Starbucks has their fruit-flavored Refreshers (that have caffeine, to be clear!), too, and many places have Italian sodas as well. Even if you can’t walk with them to the coffee shop (if that’s a factor here), there are a few options here.

    5. AcademicallyOK*

      I second this. I cut back on my caffeine intake for health reasons but was missing the informal chat time, and this has worked well for me.

  4. MK*

    #3, you don’t necessarily need to get coffee you won’t drink to be polite. When I offer to treat coworkers junior to me, I ask if they want “anything from the coffee shop “, and many people opt for other beverages or snacks or even bottled water, and these things don’thave to be consumed immediately. I doubt the OP’s boss would mind being asked to bring her a soda that she will save for lunch or even for the evening.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. It’s a nice thing for someone to do but “no, thanks” or “appreciated, but I’m not really a coffee drinker” is not a big deal.

    1. Mangled metaphor*

      I’m delighted by the idea!
      If I had an oz of artistic talent, I’d already be designing the statuettes – I’m torn between honouring the bad bosses, the awesome bosses and how to best put across “how do I resign” in sculpture form…

      1. Ace of Dragons (she/her)*

        No need to design anything fancy, all it needs to be is a simple sculpture of a Cheap Ass Roll!

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I do design geeky cross stitch as a hobby. I’m certain I could do some stitched award trophies for funny categories…

      3. EPLawyer*

        Oh c’mon folks, we KNOW what the statues would be — spray painted barbie dolls.

      4. Gray Lady*

        The “best resignation” award HAS to come in the shape of a fish. There are no other possibilities.

      5. Ron McDon*

        There was a past letter about how a boss gave out awards of spray painted Barbie dolls – that had been painted very poorly!

      6. Marion Ravenwood*

        My initial thought was that the trophies should be of and named after Alison’s cats, but then I don’t want the lovely cats associated with bad bosses or terrible colleagues, so maybe the Askys (or Aamys?) should only be for positive things…

    2. Virginia Plain*

      It could be an expansion of the Worst Boss of the Year thing. Other categories could include most heartwarming story, best update of revenge, most scandalous behaviour at office party, wildest resignation/firing… Of course at the awards dinner cheap ass rolls would be served, maybe some stolen spicy food, and lots of coffee.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          (For future readers who hit this at random… That was a real thing mentioned in a previous letter!)

          1. SpreadsheetSuperfan*

            This thread makes me wonder if there is an AAM forum/discord/etc with a list of references that frequently get made in the comments- cheap ass rolls, duck club (actually, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that), Wakeen/Joaquin, etc etc..

    3. Popinki*

      Framed pictures of me with a parrot for everyone!

      And the winners get to attend a banquet where some mope will play breakup songs on the piano at them all night :D

      1. quaint irene*

        And obviously the banquet theme should be “Beautiful angels shaping tomorrow’s great minds to recognize the power of sisterhood and human kindness. hashtag relationship goals!”

    4. Beth*

      Back in the day, I was involved with a group with the acronym TAB — I gave out “Tabby” awards.

  5. Pennyworth*

    #2. I am hoping hard that you get the job you have applied for. Once you have that in the bag, I’d suggest you tell your boss you are resigning, effective immediately, as you leave on the day you chose as your last. I don’t think she deserves anything more than that. If you think she will kick off, can you arrange for a friend to meet you at the door as you head out? All the best, and I hope your new boss treats you well.

    1. Emma*

      Yes I walked out of an abusive job once & a friend came with me to pick up my wages a week later. The boss behaved impeccably with a neutral third party present. That’s worth thinking about. Good luck OP. You deserve better

    2. Susie*

      I second this. Tell her on the way out on the last day you choose and have a friend on standby outside.

    3. Sylvan*

      Agreed. I’d recommend doing it over the phone or at the end of a shift. If she didn’t want this to happen, she shouldn’t have thrown tantrums.

    4. Observer*

      I think this is a good idea. Just tell her on the last day. And make sure that anyone whose contact information she has knows you’ve quit.

  6. Mary*

    #1. As I am living in a country where this is not a thing, I am fascinated by the norms of what happens when you are escorted from the company when you resign. Why would you not be allowed to bring your personal possessions with you? Surely any reasonable company will allow you to gather up all your personal belongings? Even if you were sent on your way with nothing the company would box up and courier on your items, or allow you to call by and collect them?

    1. Bookartist*

      I was laid off and walked out of a job and when they sent me back my stuff it was poorly packed and sad to say my Chanel perfume was missing. I second taking your stuff when you can control bringing the stuff back home

    2. Kendra*

      Items like a purse or family photograph are obviously OP’s belongings, but it sounds like she may worry that a security guard would see her taking expensive books and assume she was trying to steal company property or information. (Plus, if you’re being marched out by security, they’re unlikely to give you more than a moment or two to grab your purse.) It’s likely to cause much less fuss to simply take those items home the day before, than to try to prove that she purchased them herself.

      1. Snow Globe*

        It may be just that several large books and plants could take several trips to the car. I can see wanting to have all that done, so you just grab a purse or jacket and leave.

        1. Artemesia*

          the obvious thing is to begin taking home those books 2 or 3 at a time when you know you will be moving on. But hauling it all out before you resign is fine too. The channel perfume and other very personal stuff should be out of the office before you resign and if people are routinely walked then just clear out the office the night before you give notice.

        2. Hummer on the Hill*

          Yeah, I was going to suggest starting to do it gradually, a few things each day. It’ll look better, be less of a Major Production. Have a few breezy responses handy if anyone comments, like “oh, a friend wanted to borrow these books,” if needed. You are wise, LW, it would be easy to overlook something on The Day and you do NOT want to leave the organization in charge of your stuff.

        3. Rosacolleti*

          I’d suggest packing it up on the weekend and then resigning the next morning so it wasn’t a conversation piece.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah if you’re escorted out they often have a security guard or someone walk you to your desk and watch you grab your purse before they lead you to the door. If you were on the ball you could presumably grab one or two other obviously personal items but it would probably be only what you could carry in your arms (so probably not a set of books and several plants, plus that would just make you look extra weird staggering out) – it couldn’t be something like files or flash drives. When they escort you out, they’re typically worried you will sabotage or copy sensitive information to take with you. They typically say someone will box up and mail you personal items later, but as others have said, that leaves you open to the whims of whatever person gets assigned this task, and wouldn’t be great for plants. When you know you’re at risk of being laid off or resigning, it’s wise to take these types of things home one at a time in the weeks beforehand.

        1. Artemesia*

          And of course it goes without saying that you should have copied everything you are entitled to copy and want to have and then erase anything personal from the computer before giving notice. It is not unusual to have access immediately shut off.

          1. Beth*

            The personal stuff should not have been on your work computer in the first place. If it is, it’s already part of the system backups. You can certainly copy it to take with you, but you have already given your boss a copy.

            1. Colette*

              Often, the issue isn’t that you want to prevent the company from getting it, it’s that you want to have access to it after you leave.

            2. Artemesia*

              Lots of people have innocuous personal stuff on the work computer. You may not care that it is in the backups but you do care that you won’t have access to your own files after you leave.

              I’d make sure personal stuff and then your own work products (unless it is spy level security) so you will have access to them later. You may not be able to share copies of your work with others, but it is nice to have them for your own information.

    3. turquoisecow*

      At my old company a security person or HR person stood nearby while laid-off people packed up their desks. Usually this was accomplished fairly quickly, since people didn’t have a lot of personal items at their desks, though I once had a coworker who took her sweet time and kept asking the boss what to do with various papers she had, and wanting to give unnecessary details about the process and how far along she was – nothing that we couldn’t have figured out after the fact. The rest of us had been in a meeting while a large group was laid off and only she remained.

      Occasionally people would be walked out if they announced they were going to a competitor, which I always thought was silly because if they were going to pass on secrets, they would have done it already. I was never witness to the packing up process for any of those folks but I assume it was similar, and they were given a box.

      Once or twice I remember someone forgetting something and then arranging with a coworker they were friendly with to come by and pick it up. It sounds like OP has a good amount of stuff that maybe wouldn’t fit in one box and might require multiple trips or a second pair of hands, so I’d definitely encourage removing stuff in advance. I know people who suspected layoffs were coming or were preparing to quit would slowly start removing personal items in advance.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Somebody I know was walked out, but after being informed of this during a meeting in a conference room, they were not allowed to return to their desk to collect their coat and bag, so had to stand in reception whilst somebody else collected them.

        Reference books are often large/thick/heavy, so I would be inclined to move them out a few at a time.

        1. Glitterati*

          I packed up before I resigned even though I knew I wouldn’t be walked. It felt like closure in my own mind. I did leave my passport in the photocopier and a colleague kindly retrieved it for me!

        2. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Exactly what I did with my books. A couple at a time while I was waiting on my background check to go through. The small amount of personal effects – as I didn’t know how jerkface grandboss was going to react, I had it all ready to grab on the way out if need be. (Immediate boss made it clear that it was fine for me to work through once I gave my notice, and also clear that nobody above him was to give me any bovine fecal matter about it.)

      2. Maglev to Crazytown*

        LW #1 here. I have been here a decade, and over time have acquired several milk crates worth of books (with my own name plates in them, since they are entirely mine). Also, a few of my own plants, otherwise my office would look like a prison.

        I have heard horror stories of good much-respected employees with no history of problems being walked because they were going to a perceived competitor, and only allowed to take a purse at that time. They had to secretly coordinate with former co-workers to pack and sneak their personal items out.

        1. PleasantlyGrumpy*

          LW#1, I’d consider a slow replacement of books if you can, even if it’s just a bunch of empty binders.

          Also, backpacks work great to take a few loads out without being obvious. If this is abnormal for you, hiking/gym after work, usual purse/bag at the cleaners, etc. Better yet, take a load to your car at lunch and at end of day if possible. But fill up the void if you want to avoid questions about whether you’re leaving, which could prompt an early walkout.

          Don’t forget any digital files or records you may need and are permitted to keep!

          1. Elenna*

            Yeah, that’s what I was thinking – you shouldn’t need to, but rearranging/filling up the space with smaller knicknacks that you care less about might help avoid questions.

        2. JustMyImagination*

          For plants, you can always say you’re taking them home to repot if you want to minimize suspicion.

        3. Important Moi*

          There are ways to move things around in your office as you’re taking things home so it doesn’t look obvious you’re removing things.

          You seem more nervous than unsure of what to do.

          1. Rayray*

            I agree. If you feel like you’re on your way out of the company, try planning to slowly move stuff out.

            I was once laid off with zero notice but because I absolutely hated the job and was trying to get out (I even had an interview that day) and my boss was a psycho micromanager who had already arranged my desk and filled the r drawers with files,checks, supplies, etc as she wanted, I just didn’t have many personal items at my desk anyway. I think I had my water cup and maybe a granola bar or something so I had an easy exit that day.

        4. Artemesia*

          I’d start today taking a satchel of books you value every evening. If you are nervous about this being a tip before you have a job nailed down, replace them with junk books. Your workplace has a history so I would not be giving notice until my stuff was secured. You can probably take your most valued books a few at a time without it being obvious and absolutely make sure small valued personal items — a little statue, pictures, your bottle of channel etc are secured before that day.

        5. Observer*

          They had to secretly coordinate with former co-workers to pack and sneak their personal items out.

          Take your stuff. Walking people out is one thing. Refusing to let them get the stuff that actually belongs to them? That’s garbage behavior. Take your stuff. If your boss is reasonable, he’ll understand.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Occasionally people would be walked out if they announced they were going to a competitor, which I always thought was silly because if they were going to pass on secrets, they would have done it already.

        “Oh no! If only I’d thought to download those files *before* I gave notice!”

      4. Lucy P*

        Normally when someone resigns, they’re allowed to work throughout their notice period. That said, most quit with no notice, despite the professional environment. Once they’re out the door, they’re treated like potential spies.
        However, layoffs are horrible. Most are never fired for cause. Instead, it’s because of budgets or they’re not a good fit for the position. HR and the department manager have to take turns watching the laid off person pack up their desk to make sure they don’t take any of the company’s property, data, etc. Their accounts are frozen, often with work left unsaved because server access is gone. It’s a horrible feeling to know that these people have just been let go and then are treated like potential corporate criminals.

        1. Maglev to Crazytown*

          LW #1… The inconsistency is what has me the most nervous. A long time coworker who WAS going to a direct competitor was allowed to work a long notice period recently (while fully expecting to have been walked!), while people who were the Very Useful Grunts (my category) have been walked when not even going to a competitor. Nothing has been consistent lately, so that uncertainty is making things worse.

      5. alienor*

        I’ve found that packing your desk or office is a lot like packing up a house–you always have more stuff than you think you do. When I left my last job, I thought it was going to be so easy to pack because I’d majorly downsized what I kept at work over the previous few years, and also I’d moved workspaces not long before and purged a lot then. It still took me most of the last two days I was there to finish going through everything, packing what I wanted to keep and giving/throwing away what I didn’t (my goal was to only take home one box, but I ended up with a box and a tote bag), so I think the sooner LW can start the process, the better.

        1. Cassie*

          I recently moved to a new job in a neighboring dept – since we’ve been mostly WFH, most of my last few days in the office was spent hectically trying to sort through items that have accumulated over 15+ years. I definitely wished I had started cleaning through my stuff earlier (regardless of if I was changing jobs or not).

          In addition to taking my personal stuff, I also tried to straighten up / organize the stuff for the temp who would replace me. After seeing my new office w/ a thin layer of dust on everything, and the business cards that my predecessor didn’t bother to take or toss, I’m glad I did what I could to make my old space decent enough for the successor! (I took my old business cards w/ me – not quite ready to chuck them yet but at least I didn’t leave it for someone else to have to deal with).

          1. alienor*

            Cleaning and organizing is definitely the polite thing to do! Once my entire group in a previous job moved to a new part of the building, and the guy who got the cube next to mine had to spend ages cleaning out old food crumbs and sauce packets that the previous occupant had left in the desk drawers. I still remember him saying, “What did they do, open a drawer and eat directly over it?”

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Well, I’d say most reasonable companies won’t march you out the door after you’ve given two weeks’ notice, given that anything dodgy you would want to do could be done before resigning. It’s more common when someone is being let go, particularly if they are being fired and have access that would allow them to sabotage systems.

      For a reasonable employer, they’d probably be escorted to their desk, where they could pack up their personal stuff into a box, and then be escorted out. If the employee reacts badly, or they are fired when not physically at the office, someone else could pack it up either to be mailed, or to be picked up.

      1. Snow Globe*

        My company will sometimes ask someone to leave on the day they turn in their resignation – usually only if it is a senior person who is going to a competitor. It’s not that their is concern about “stealing” secrets, but those people are responsible for setting strategy; no reason to keep them involved in strategic discussions over their last two weeks. And no one is “walked out” – that implies that you think the person might do something unethical, but obviously if they have resigned they already had the opportunity.

      2. Maglev to Crazytown*

        #1 here. My chief worry is that in the past, I could simply assume I would be fine as a non-manager going to a company not likely to be considered a “competitor.” However, the overall environment has become so unpredictable and unstable that I have seen people walked who I would have never thought would have been, and people who previously would have been walked are being allowed to finish their time. Also, they have always made it difficult for people in layoffs or voluntary with walkouts to retrieve their personal items later.

        I am an SME, so whatever I have in my head after a decade is far more dangerous than anything I could reasonably try to take. I just don’t want plants I care about getting friend, or hard to find reference books not returned to me.

        1. Velocipastor*

          This sounds a lot like my previous work place and I had the same fears you have when I left. Some people got going away parties with cupcakes, some got walked to the door when they resigned, some of us were permitted to work our 2 weeks but not given any sort of send off or acknowledgement — sometimes all within the same quarter! It depended a lot on department head and how peeved the top brass were that you were leaving.

          I started planning my exit before my resignation and since we were WFH part time, I would just squirrel a few items into my backpack every day when I took my laptop home. No one noticed and for larger items I would say that I would rather have them in my home since I wasn’t spending as much time at the office or whatever made sense.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          With the additional info, I would start easing the books out now, a few every time you leave the office (lunch and end of day), but leave the plants. The plants probably do more to make the office look “lived in” than the books to be honest. That way if they do walk you out it’s a matter of asking the walk out group to let you please retrieve your plants on the way out, all the books are already gone and safe.

        3. Squirreltown*

          I could have written this, Maglev! I’m an SME, and 30 years of experience is what I’m valued for, not my files. I am preparing to leave, also. I’ve brought 2 of my 5 plants home, and have started bring my books home one-by-one. It hasn’t been difficult as there aren’t many people in the office, but I am being careful as my good friend and fellow specialist was walked out a few months ago (one of my plants was his plant that he couldn’t easily carry out). If it becomes an issue, I’ll trade my WFH monitor and dock for the remains at my desk!

        4. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Question: do you have an inventory, with pictures, of your personal reference books?

          Is this something where you could, if the fecal matter hits the air rotational device, submit a copy of the inventory of missing books and a formal request for them to be returned to you by XYZ date? They do belong to you. I don’t think there’s any legal means for the company to keep them.

          I’d still pre-emptively try to get them out. Someone else suggested binders, and yes, I’d suggest binders so that at a glance, its not obvious. Mine were in a credenza behind a door, but I still used placebos so it wasn’t obvious that the space was empty.

          1. Elenna*

            Or small decorative objects! If you can replace a stack of heavy books on your desk with, say, a cheap dollar store decoration that you have lying around the house, the area still looks decorated/lived-in, but a small decoration is a lot easier to pack up quickly, and you’d probably be less sad if it accidentally got left behind.

          2. Artemesia*

            the ability of passive aggression to thwart your plans is high though; inventories suggest someone will diligently get your things to you. You aren’t going to pay thousands on a lawsuit to enforce this. Get the books home now — do what you need to keep office looking lived in, whether it is moving things around on shelves, moving office owned materials to your shelves, using empty binders or even bringing in junk books to take their place — but get your valued possessions home gradually and without a fuss, so you dn’t have to worry about them.

        5. Dasein9*

          Yes, do get your things out of there beforehand. I knew a photographer who was laid off and the employer only returned his property that had been labeled as his property. It’s kind of hard to stick a label on every piece of photography equipment one owns, and then maintain the labels, and so he did have a bunch of personal items that the employer just kept. (Had they belonged to the employer, a state institution, the items would have had very durable metal labels with serial numbers on them.)

        6. Cj*

          You don’t want your plants to get friends? That would seem like a nice thing for them to have.

        7. Database Developer Dude*

          First, copy everything off the computer that is truly yours and you want to keep somewhere else.
          Second, start taking books home until they’re all home
          Third, take -one- plant every other day home.
          In between, take everything else you can carry in your purse every single day.

          Once you’ve gotten everything but what you can carry in one trip, then give your notice.

      3. PT*

        I had a boss whose office was filled with tons of Whimsical Decor, because it was normal at that workplace to have an office that looked like a Hallmark store threw up.

        When she got fired she was allowed to come back the next day and clean out all of her stuff, after they’d reset her computer logins, etc.

        Incidentally she chose to come back at 6 am when we had the bare minimum number of employees present, because she’d been fired for bullying staff and people had been singing and dancing around the office the afternoon she got fired.

    5. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I’m not sure this is a country thing but rather an industry thing. In some industries it is fairly common. And yes, you would be given some time to gather your things or they would be collected for you.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Or just a position thing. I escorted to my desk to gather my things and escorted out out at my last job (after being laid off) because I had pretty high level access to things in the computer and they haven’t disable my access yet. I could have really messed things up with the access I had.

        1. Anonymous Hippo*

          It makes some sense in a layoff. But not a voluntary resignation…you could have done all your sabotage ahead of time.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Right, I find the practice rather silly. The same way OP can pack up their books ahead of time…anyone can do what they need to do before they resign.

          2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Honestly, some of it is just security theatre, I’m sure.

            You adopt it as a practice if you know that clients/investors etc are likely to ask about it. It doesn’t have to be this big dramatic thing.

        2. Christmas Cactus*

          I decided that I would inform the manager that I was leaving the contract job I hated as soon as I accepted a written job offer and that day would be my last one. Because I had full access to the HR and payroll systems (and could do a lot of mischief), I expected to be walked out as immediately. I had few personal items in my cubicle to begin with and everything but a mug , my coat, and purse were already gone. To my surprise, I was there after I gave notice until my regular quitting time when I just left.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        And I think OP’s specific examples–reference books and plants–are things you might worry security wouldn’t recognize as yours (books) or treat with sufficient care (plants).

      3. Lizzy May*

        This. I’ve worked in finance and seen people walked out many times. They all expect it and pack up their office the night before they give their notice. I’ve never seen someone not allowed to get their coat, purse etc, but you don’t get to hang around and pack up books and personal effects. LW #1 needs to get their stuff out of the office before they give notice either by taking it slowing or staying late the day before and taking it in one go.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        oh it certainly is a country thing! It’s pretty well unheard of here in France. Maybe they’d do it for IT people who would know how to sabotage the whole system, or for C-suite people leaving under a cloud, and even then, it’d be because they saw it in a Hollywood film, not because it’s the culture here. It’s very rare for people to not work through their full notice period and even if they don’t, they are paid to work for that time.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          And it certainly wouldn’t be done in a dramatic way, they’d try to be as discreet as possible about it. The French find “perp walks” very dramatic and unfair, especially as it rather implies the person being walked out is guilty of some crime.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was caught up in a massive layoff with a desk full of personal items from coffee maker & kitchenware to framed photos & a large plant. I had too much to carry in one pass, so even my manager was carrying something.
      I have never since brought more things to the office then I can carry in one box–except for things I am willing to simply leave behind.

      1. Maglev to Crazytown*

        LW #1 here… While I try to go by the not keeping much, it is hard when you have a decade at place with a lot of lifers, and where you have come to be seen as a chief SME. That long a time span of, “well, that book would be a great help” has led to a small full bookcase. And 1-2 original plants has turned into “I heard you like plants, so I brought you a new one!” Since I am one of those “go to” people, I find having the softer personable feel to my office has been beneficial and welcoming.

        The overall awareness of the current environment’s instability/chaos has led to a lot of other voluntary departures, which have exhibited inconsistency in who gets walked versus who works their notice period.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          If these aren’t plants you especially wish to take with you, I also once gave my office plants to coworkers before I left the job. Then I knew they’d be reasonably well taken care of but I didn’t have to carry out heavy pots and try to find new spaces for them (my next job was in a WeWork so there wasn’t necessarily a need for them).

        2. CupcakeCounter*

          I’d take one book & plant home every day or so and see if there is a way to replace it with a generic company owned item so it isn’t super obvious after several days (someone mentioned binders, a wire inbox, etc…)

    7. anonymous73*

      Most of the time you are only walked out by security if you’re being laid off/let go as they’re concerned that you could sabotage something before you leave because you’re upset that you’re losing your job. But I’ve never seen this for those resigning. Either way, you are generally allowed to pack up your things before you leave, but if you’ve been there a while and have a significant amount of personal things you won’t have a way of carrying it all at one time. The second time I was laid off, I took public transportation, so there was no way for me to take everything home. They mailed me my stuff after asking for it multiple times, because nobody could be bothered to get it together.

    8. Misquoted*

      My recent layoff was from a remote job*, so I only had to pack up my computer and send it back. I wouldn’t have gotten my severance pay if I hadn’t. When I was laid off 7 years ago, though, it was in person. That company always walked you out after a layoff, with either just your purse/coat, or possibly one box of personal items that you would pack up quickly with a manager observing. By the time you got back to your desk from the layoff meeting (with a manager and and HR rep), your computer had been picked up. Then you would arrange to come back another day (within a couple of weeks) to get the rest of your things, if you chose to.

      Because I had been doing dissertation research at the company, I insisted that I be allowed to pack up my research, books, binders, etc. before leaving the building, and that was fine. I went back the next week with my daughter to pack up the rest of my things. (I was the type to make my cube my own, and I’d been there 17 years. My adult daughter helped me pack up drawings she had done in pre-school.)

      *Found a new job quickly, thanks in part to AAM!

      1. Misquoted*

        I will add that I am in the US, and that generally the only time I’ve seen this after someone resigns is when they are leaving to work for a competitor or similar. Or if they are quitting after some problems, and management feels it’s best if they just leave right away rather than working their notice (though they generally get paid for the notice period).

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          True I’ve witnessed plenty of skin-of-the-teeth resignations, usually from higher-ups, where the company may well wish to walk them out same day, although they could presumably have done whatever sabotage they wanted before-hand. I think there’s degrees of resignation: 1) allowed to work remaining leave graciously 2) allowed to work remaining leave but the environment is pretty cold/unpleasant 3) asked to leave same-day but given time and treated respectfully 4) walked out by security.

    9. Lacey*

      I worked for one of these types of places and was given a box and sort of rushed through the process of packing up. It didn’t matter for that job because I hadn’t brought in much, but at my previous job it would have been entirely insufficient. Fortunately, that job was one where I could work my notice and slowly pack up & remove my stuff over the course of two weeks.

      1. Hazel*

        Any time I needed to take a lot of stuff home from work, I did it after most people had left for the day. I could take a lot of stuff at once and even make several trips to the car, if needed. OP, is that a possibility for you?

    10. Sea Anemone*

      When this happened to me, I was allowed to gather what I could carry at that moment. If you have a lot of belongings at the office, you might not be able to collect them all. I’ve been walked out immediately twice. The first time they were kind enough to find me a box, but not the second time. Fortunately, I learned the first time not to keep very many things in my office, and nothing of value. I left some plants behind the second time, and I called office friends from home to adopt them.

    11. ThatGirl*

      Two jobs ago, I was blindsided by a layoff at the end of a day, in a conference room on the first floor (I worked on the 4th floor); I handed my laptop over immediately and was told they would pack my desk up for me. Which they did, very poorly, and broke some things along the way.

      That secrecy made some sense though – it was a Thursday; I was flying out of town for a pre-booked vacation that Friday so they had no choice but to tell me the night before the rest of my team got laid off on Friday morning! The rest of the team, however, did get to pack their own desks up that morning.

      At my last job, I was also laid off, over Teams video chat, during covid. In that case, they offered to pack my desk up but I requested that I be able to come in and do it myself, and was allowed to – the building was a ghost town.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, at my last job I got laid off over Zoom in 2020 due to Covid, after WFH for several months. It was nearly two months of notice period before I was allowed to come in to pack my stuff and turn in my badge, laptop and keys. But I did sanitize my computer and distribute a bunch of other stuff, so I wasn’t put out by it. The building was mostly deserted.

        My current job is 100% remote. The only thing I worry about is that my roomie recycled the box that my laptop came in, so I’d have to get another to ship it back in if I left

    12. Momma Bear*

      I would take things home over time so it doesn’t look like you’re clearing house all at once. If you’re not ready to resign, and someone asks, just say you’re trying a new minimalist approach to your desk. Keep only things you can quickly shove in a box or bag when you go to (for example) retrieve your keys or coat.

    13. Observer*

      Surely anyreasonable company will allow you to gather up all your personal belongings? Even if you were sent on your way with nothing the company would box up and courier on your items, or allow you to call by and collect them?

      Well, the operative word is REASONABLE. There are some cases where it actually does make sense to walk someone out on the spot, but even then someone will properly pack stuff up and send it along. The problem is that apparently someone in the hierarchy of the OP’s company is not always completely reasonable.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Seriously. I got let go from an unreasonable company (no sadness at the parting for me), and they kept my plants, took apart all my folders of information, and kept a few random off things. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything I really cared about there.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        Honestly there is no reasonable reason to walk someone without letting them take there stuff short of expectations of violence on the part of the person being walked. Kill their computer access and have somebody escort them if you are worried about them doing something.

    14. Kevin Sours*

      It’s unusual here as well. And the company will pack up and send your possessions but that involves them pawing through your stuff and they don’t always take the greatest care with things (like plants that might be delicate).
      Usually though even places where they are very strict about escorting out will let you take your stuff (though typically somebody from HR or security will stay with you until you leave the building).

      Though I’ve never even had that happen so I don’t have first hand experience.

  7. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    LW1: Be stealthy, don’t call attention to yourself.
    If anyone notices have an excuse ready for that one item (don’t spill the beans).

    LW2: Give notice, when she explodes tel her your leaving right now.
    Don’t give her the option of two weeks if she behaves because she won’t/and or you will be walking on eggshells which is not good for you.

    LW3: Is there something in a similar price point from there you do like, hot chocolate, donut, sandwich, timbits?

    1. What She Said*

      #1 – I did this when I was getting ready to leave. Took a few things home little by little, no one noticed. So I second this recommendation. The plants might be harder so either save them for last or if someone asks tell them they need repotting. That’s something you’d need to do at home anyways. Good luck!

      1. Sariel*

        Agreeing with this. When I started seriously thinking about looking for another job and responding to job postings, I started taking home things little by little. And plants always need extra care and repotting — or “I thought I saw bugs on this plant so I’m taking it home to deal with it.” By the time I was ready to leave my job, it was easy to fit everything in one box.

      2. Alice Watson*

        I did this too, had nor worry about being escorted out but also didn’t want to pack up everything all at once or telegraph that I was giving notice. So I started removing a single small box or bag each day and when asked said I was decluttering, then in a week or so when it was more obviously empty I said I was going to redecorate and reorganize. By the time I gave notice I only had essentials and a few quick and easy to grab items left. Most co-workers seemed to believe the clutter/decorate/organize excuses.

  8. Beth*

    LW3: The way to leave and avoid this treatment is to leave. 2 weeks’ notice is a professional norm, but ultimately it’s a courtesy, not a requirement. You’re allowed to just leave. Quitting without notice wouldn’t be the best move if you planned to use your boss as a reference, but it sounds like she’s not someone you should trust with that anyways, so in this case I wouldn’t be concerned about it.

    1. Semi Bored IT Guy*

      I think you meant LW2. Leaving seems to be a pretty dramatic reaction to being offered coffee.

  9. Viette*

    #5 – I once got awarded essentially “Employee of the Year” at a Christian nonprofit that did stuff that was not highly connected to religion (think like how some big hospital groups are religious nonprofits). It was a nice award but it had some religious language to it which I’ve always comfortably edited out — it’s an award for work quality, and despite the language it has nothing to do with religion (especially because I am not religious and I won it anyway for doing a good job).

    Just edit your ‘Asky’ to make clear what you actually won it for. It will fit right in with your other work accomplishments!

    1. Squidlet*

      I’m entertaining myself now, coming up with religious-themed award names for non-religious work.

      But since my “appropriateness filters” seem to be malfunctioning at the moment, I think I’d better not share them.

        1. Pennyworth*

          The Loaves and Fishes Award for office catering.
          The Sermon on the Mount Award for inspirational presentations.

      1. Old Admin*

        The Eighth Commandment Award for successful loss prevention.

        I’ll take my coat…

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        You have an appropriateness filter? So jealous, I’ve never even seen one! ;)

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Chocolate bunnies. A welcome award all spring.

        (And yet, if you handed me one in September it would be weird.)

  10. Squidlet*

    I’m entertaining myself now, coming up with religious-themed award names for non-religious work.

    But since my “appropriateness filters” seem to be malfunctioning at the moment, I think I’d better not share them.

    (For some reason the comment machine thinks I’ve already said this but it’s not showing up.)

  11. Yvette*

    #1: I would do it gradually. If anyone says anything “I’m lending the books to a friend”, “The plants aren’t doing well, I want to see how they do at home”.

    1. Forrest*

      Or, if the plants are clearly extremely happy, “The monstera in my living room died so I’m taking these home to fill the gap!”

    2. Blaise*

      Definitely this! I’m a teacher, so when I left my last job I had multiple car loads of things to pack up. I knew I would be offered the job I was about to interview for, so I started bringing things home the day I scheduled the interview. I just brought one bag of things home every day, and moved everything else around a little to cover for it. When my students eventually noticed, I just told them I was reorganizing the room (and luckily that was only a few days before they were told I was leaving anyway).

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      This. I’d treat it like the advice about how to pack for moving home – start with the stuff you know you won’t want in the immediate future, and do a bit at a time.

    4. Delta Delta*

      Seconding this approach. I had been on the slow slide out for about a year before I gave notice at a job. I took my time in removing things. Oh, that lamp? Yeah, I need to re-wire it because the cord got frayed (lie). My degrees? My parents are coming to visit and want to see them in their pretty frames (lie, and a stupid one at that but they bought it). Blazers, etc I stored in the office? Doing a huge trip to the dry cleaner (lie, and they still haven’t been cleaned a couple years later). By the time I left I had nothing remaining and it was *great.*

    5. Maglev to Crazytown*

      I wish I could manage that (LW #1). Unfortunately (?), the plants are thriving including two that are notoriously hard to keep alive. I am also such a SME in a narrow field, and these are fairly rare reference books, so saying I have friends to lend them to would actually be a hilarious and very transparent joke. There is really no easy way for me to do this stealthily, which is why I wrote the letter. I really have to nearly go all-in on one assumption or the other with regards to packing.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Also a person with large, heavy books and who flirted with orchid cultivation in the 90s. How often do you actually use them, day-to-day? If there are some that are less-used, maybe squirrel those out first? As for the plants, maybe come up with a repotting story? Oh, these (insert name here) are notoriously fickle and need (insert name of potting mix/nutrients/whatevs).

      2. Important Moi*


        So when you figure out the your last day, make preparations. If you drive to work, keep your vehicle ready to haul a lot of stuff home. If you don’t drive, make other plans. Someone to help you pack?

      3. FalsePositive*

        Ideas on the plant front:

        I need/want to replant them in a different/cool/new pot.

        My plant at home is looking poorly so I thought I’d bring this one home.

        Oh, I’m giving it to a friend and starting a new one.

        Oh yeah, I was rearranging some things at home and decided to bring that one back home.

        I swear I spotted some fruit flies so I brought them home to isolate so they wouldn’t spread in the office. It was probably nothing, but I’d hate to bring an infestation.

      4. FalsePositive*

        A possibly wacky idea on the book front, if anyone does indeed notice and presses you on the disappearing books, is that you are having a librarian friend do a library book binding on them. I a friend who is a librarian and does this to their personal favorite books. If, for some reason, someone is all “Oh great, can they do my books”, you could follow up with something like “Eep, I can’t promise out their services” or “Well, I can check, but I’m not sure they’re doing this as a business.” I realize this is creating a tangled web of lies (and now I’m thinking of Charlotte’s Web and envisioning an incriminating web showing up over your cube…).

      5. Elenna*

        Maybe you can casually switch to a professional-looking backpack rather than any bag you usually use? Then you can slip the books out a few at a time in the bag, replacing them with something else? Unfortunately this only works if you don’t need them regularly.

        1. Maglev to Crazytown*

          LW #1… My “drug of choice” are various rare and hard to keep alive varieties of fragile ferns. In the office, I have two older beauties known to be finicky, very long lived and slow growers (if you can keep them alive).

      6. Artemesia*

        You don’t have to explain. Just take the valued books home and move things around on your shelves, or find some books or binders in the store room and put those in their place. The less defensive explanation the better. People are usually pretty unobservant if you don’t make a fuss. Plants? Worst case scenario you leave them and ask colleagues to adopt them for their offices.

        1. Hydrangea McDuff*

          I so agree with this. If you tell a bunch of fibs, even little white lies, it’s way more likely to get noticed and also may reflect poorly down the road. Just pack up, or say something true like “I’m taking some personal stuff home, making some space” like it’s NBD! I truly think very few people would notice.

          (That said, last time I changed jobs I was cleaning out a large space I’d managed for 17 years so it was a lot more than a few plants…and I work in an industry where if you’re getting “walked out” it’s likely you’re going to be trespassed due to misconduct or worse.)

      7. Curmudgeon in California*

        Ah. Are any of your references also available online or as e-books? If so, then tell people you are trying to reduce clutter in your office and are switching to electronic copies. Or that you need to take them home to study from.

        The plants might need to be re-potted if they are thriving and have outgrown their root area.

      8. Jonquil*

        Honestly, though, people are a lot less likely to notice than you think. Most people are focused on their own stuff.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Work from home projects are another option.
      And it’s never a bad time of year to bring your rootbound houseplants home to repot. Maybe bring in some grocery store flowers in a disposable vase to cover their absence.

      1. Chili pepper Attitude*

        I think this is the way. Bring things home and put new things in their place.

        Maybe you are going to paint or add a bookshelf or some rearranging in your office/cubicle. And you need to move stuff in advance of that.

    7. Web of Pies*

      Yep! Exactly this, just take things home slowly, books people won’t even notice, especially if you fill in shelf gaps with company binders or other stuff. People don’t know your office as well as you do so you can get nearly everything home before you resign without notice.

    8. Emotional Support Care’n*

      All of this. When I left a job after a decade, I knew I’d be putting my notice in eventually (I was waiting on background checks to clear before getting the official offer and start date). So, I started slowly smuggling things home in my second bag every day for two weeks. Excess paperwork, fun toys, picture frames, extra pens, etc. The plants came home with me on the weekends under the guise of transplanting them to new fun pots. When I put in my 6 week notice (because my new contract decided to wait until the contract year started for me to start), I had a couple of small items left to take. Yes, my coworker had noticed my lack of items, but had bought my bull. She was furious that I hadn’t told her I was “looking” elsewhere (I was headhunted, I wasn’t actively looking). I had told nobody until I turned in my resignation, and I even after that I was tight-lipped about where I was going.

      Do what’s right for you and your belongings. I knew I wouldn’t be perp-walked out, but I didn’t want a big scene and didn’t want to make multiple trips in one day.

  12. Teapot Wrangler*

    LW1 – I’d suggest taking a book a day home in your bag and a plant a day in the few weeks beforehand. If someone asks about the plants, you can always say that you think the light in the office isn’t suiting them as well as your light at home so you’re taking them home to try it out or similar. I think it would be weird for your office to be full of personal stuff on Monday and empty on Wednesday so perhaps a more gradual approach?

    1. Chriama*

      I was thinking the same thing. Either stay late a few days to load up a backpack, or just start taking one or two things that you can slip into your bag every day.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Agree with the gradual approach. Empty drawers and file cabinets first. (Reserve a drawer for company files and equipment.) Clear off most desk items – spring cleaning or rearranging for ergonomics if asked. Then a plant or two – it’s spring! Time to re-pot.

      Leave one plant and a few items that can fit in a tote bag or collapseable box, so your office looks spare, not bare. Throw a tote bag in one of the empty drawers so it’s handy.

      I’ve done this before giving notice and it weirdly helped my mindset. It’s a way to secretly cast off the old job and get excited about moving on to New Job.

    3. This is a name, I guess*

      Or, just stay late on the day before you resign. Cat’s out of the bag the next day. I don’t think anyone would think it weird.

  13. Koala dreams*

    #1 Books can be heavy, so it makes sense to bring them home gradually a few days before anyway.

    #4 Discrimination is a word with bad connotations, but not all discrimination is bad or illegal. To take a positive example, treating children and adults differently based on age. That’s a good thing. To have a smoking and non-smoking wardrobe section is perhaps more of a neutral type of discrimination.

    1. Chriama*

      I think it’s important to clarify the difference between the connotation and denotation of a word. I wouldn’t even get into “positive discrimination”, just tell them something like “smokers aren’t a protected class, but since exposure to smoke can aggravate medical conditions like asthma, refusing this accommodation could cause the company to run afoul of the ADA.”

    2. Batgirl*

      It honestly sounds like discrimination against the scent sensitive. You have to kind of assume that it’s not a real thing in order to dismiss it this easily. Their reaction is basically “Oh, you’re fine, you’re just disgusted by smokers you horrible person you”. I am reminded of the letter from the lady who couldn’t go to certain restaurants because of her scent sensitivity to spices and I think there was a similar disbelief and a keenness to attribute it to racism, because, obviously people can’t be hurt by smells. My partner one day had to go home with a shocking migraine because of a stranger’s perfume on the street. It can be terrible.

  14. Chriama*

    #2 – your boss sounds terrible, but how is leaving worse than staying? I can’t imagine staying with someone who treats you badly for 3 YEARS because I was afraid. Quitting is a moment or a day of discomfort. You’ve endured more than that already.

    Also. don’t worry about giving her notice. Someone who says she “hates” a departing employee isn’t going to give a positive reference, and she’s forfeited her right to 2 weeks or any other notice period with her wildly inappropriate behaviour. Just tell her at the end of your shift one day or call her after business hours and leave a voicemail. Then block her number and email address and go on with your life.

    I recommend quitting on payday so I didn’t have to deal with any funny business about my last paycheck, but if that timing doesn’t work out just Google your state’s laws for your final paycheque and include those details in your resignation message. “according to xx state law, I need to receive my final paycheque within y days. I expect it to be mailed to me and will follow up with the department of labour if I don’t receive it.”

  15. DJ Abbott*

    #2, If it helps, your boss is a very unhappy and bitter person because she is disappointed with how her life turned out, and that’s why she’s lashing out.
    Maybe it will help you deal with her if you can reach a point of not taking it personally. It’s not about you at all, it’s about her and her issues.
    My boss at the grocery store deli was cranky and mean – not near as bad as yours, but bad enough to intimidate and trigger my PTSD. I had to work to get past it and as I learned more about the big picture I reached a point of respecting her and feeling a little bad for her because she was terribly overloaded.
    With your colleague giving notice I would be prepared for her to react very badly to your notice. If you can wait for her to calm down maybe you can work with her on serving the notice and helping her find someone to replace you.
    Though if you feel the need to leave right away, that works too. Good luck!

    1. anonymous73*

      It has nothing to do with not taking it personally. And it doesn’t matter WHY she’s behaving this way. Her behavior is abusive. Period. If OP gets a new job and gives her notice, she does not, in any way, have to take the abuse.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Not OP’s job to figure out WHY her boss is this way. OP is getting a new job so doesn’t have to find a way to work with this person in the future. She just needs to know how to get out without a scene. Which the only way is to just tell her boss today is my last day.

    3. Generic Name*

      Frankly, I don’t care why jerks act like jerks. I feel like this is a twist on what kids were told about bullies in the 80s. “Ignore them, they’re just jealous of you” which effectively means adults who have the power to stop a child from bullying another won’t do anything about it at all. I’m constantly telling my teenager that for the most part, intentions don’t matter, it’s the impact of your actions. This boss is behaving terribly, the OP deserves better, and it doesn’t matter why boss is acting this way.

      1. anonymous73*

        Thank you for teaching your teenager that lesson. I am always saying intentions are irrelevant and get attacked in comment sections. Good intentions don’t matter when you hurt someone. I had to end a 40+ year friendship with someone after some major reflection during the start of the pandemic because I realized I was done accepting her non-apologies and her lack of taking responsibility for how her actions affected me, excusing them because she “didn’t mean it”.

        1. Agnes*

          Come on. Intentions aren’t everything, but they matter. Is it really the same if someone steps on your foot accidentally or tries to stomp on it to break it? If someone deliberately calls you a nasty name to hurt you vs. Someone who’s a native speaker of another language getting words mixed up?

          1. Observer*

            Nice try at the reductio argument. But it doesn’t really work in this context. Remember, it beyond the active stomping, it doesn’t really matter why someone has their foot smashing yours – they still need to move their foot.

            And, it’s one thing to recognize edge cases when they happen. But those edge cases are not relevant to abuse. It really, really does NOT matter why someone is being abusive.

        2. Elenna*

          Meh. Intentions aren’t everything but I wouldn’t say they’re nothing, either. To borrow Agnes’ example, if there are two people, and one steps on your foot by accident and the other does it on purpose, they both need to get off your foot. That’s the part where intentions aren’t everything.

          But you would probably also stop hanging out with the person who did it on purpose, or at least be like “dude, wtf, stop stepping on my foot”, and those would both be overreactions to someone stepping on your foot by accident. So the intention does matter too.

          And I wouldn’t say your ex-friend’s intentions were all that good, either. They’re better than if she was doing it on purpose, either. But if she wasn’t willing to make an effort to stop, then I wouldn’t say she had good intentions.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Frankly, I don’t care why jerks act like jerks. I feel like this is a twist on what kids were told about bullies in the 80s.

        I got told that BS in the 60s and 70s: “Ignore them. They’re just jealous of you. Consider the source. Rise above it.” blah, blah, blah. Even going grey rock didn’t stop the little ****s. From kindergarten through high school, I seldom got support from adults. “It’s just boys being boys” and “It’s just the way they are.” Of course, if I wanted to lash back “Good girls don’t fight.” Is it any wonder that I’m bitter and cynical?

        I’ve been bullied in the workplace too, but after the first time I’ve learned to leave rather than stay and suffer, because generally HR departments won’t do a thing if it’s the boss who is a bully.

    4. Observer*

      This is a very nice comment – but not relevant to the OP.

      WHY the boss does this is not relevant. And it’s not about not taking it personally – being screamed out is not something that is ok, even if it’s “not personal.” And having things thrown at you is not something that someone should even THINK of “explaining” and “dealing with”.

      What the OP is describing is not “triggers” but downright, objectively abusive behavior. The response to that is to recognize that it’s not ok and figure out how to get out. The OP doesn’t need to “understand” their abuser. And there is nothing to respect in her behavior, even if the OP learns more about “the big picture”.

    5. DJ Abbott*

      I didn’t say the behavior is acceptable. I didn’t say OP2 has to understand her.
      I was suggesting a way OP can cope by learning to not take it personally.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        P.S., I don’t think this boss deserves any respect. I did NOT say she is the same as my boss or that OP would find reason to respect her. I only said there are similarities.

  16. MT*

    OP3: I’m assuming your boss leaves the office and goes to a coffee shop. If you’re comfortable doing so, why don’t you offer to join her some mornings? Something along the lines of “I’m all set for coffee, but I could use the walk if you’re up for some company?”.

    As a junior employee, I would walk with my manager to get a coffee a few times a week, usually first thing after checking emails and setting up for the day. We would sometimes talk about work and I could use the time to pick her brain about anything urgent, but usually we would just chat just about general life goings on. It was a great way to build a relationship in an informal setting, and it’s something I started doing with people I was supervising as I progressed in my career. Perhaps this is the subtext of your manager’s offer?

  17. MI Dawn*

    OP#1 – I would suggest taking things a little at a time every day, especially the books. You can also say you are taking the plants home because you feel they need more attention than they are getting just on the weekdays (watering, sunlight, whatever). I had a vindictive boss who walked me out when I gave my 2 weeks notice, and I lost a LOT of personal items (photos, books, etc) that I’d had in a staff room.

  18. Batgirl*

    OP2, after so long with your abusive employer you can probably predict the sort of things she will say and do. Why don’t you role play the worst case scenarios with a friend so you feel practiced and prepared? Another option is to treat her abusiveness as though it is a way of saying “no” your notice. So, if she doesn’t react well, send her a text later that evening saying “It’s clear that you don’t want me to stay on for any longer than necessary. In that case I have decided that today was my last day and I wish you well with everything” Or you can say it in the moments after resigning before walking out. Then block, block, block and enjoy your freedom!

  19. OtterB*

    #1 My husband changed jobs recently. One federal position to another, so not likely to be contentious, but he’s an engineer and had a lot of big reference books at work that he owns. Between the time the new position gave him a verbal offer and the time the formal offer letter came through (between bureaucracy and the holidays, it took a while), he brought home a few books every day. Nobody noticed, or if they did, they didn’t comment. The plants came toward the end.

    1. Maglev to Crazytown*

      Tried to write this as a reply and instead it out it as a standalone…

      You have nailed the situation on the books (LW 1 here). One problem with gradual I have in my situation is that I got cold-called for this opportunity, which has moved incredibly fast, and I am expecting the formal offer in hand any minute (I have a combo of specialized unicorn skills that they were looking for). This has been such a wild ride the last couple weeks and is hard and stressful enough without worrying about my plants getting fried and a rare collection of references being lost to me.

      1. Chili pepper Attitude*

        Just take the books home!
        Have you seen anyone else removing items from their desks? Did you say anything? What if they guess, does it matter?
        Stay a bit late and fill a box or two, whatever you can carry. Do more the next day. Until it is done.
        If anyone says anything, just say you want to change things up a bit and make space.

        1. Anon all day*

          Yeah, exactly. The two outcomes are either “no one’s going to care/notice” or “people will notice/care, but who cares.”

          I get it, OP, this sounds like it’s been a very stressful period, and this is something you can control, so you’re completely over-analyzing and overthinking it. I do the same thing. But, as outside third parties, please listen to us when we tell you that it’s not a big deal if people notice you’re taking stuff home.

          If you’re super concerned about the timing, remember that you control when you actually give notice. You can have a formal offer and new job start date in hand, but still wait a day or so before giving notice to your current place, allowing you a couple days to “move out”. If people guess that you’re leaving, who cares?

      2. Reba*

        I can understand your concerns, but I also agree with Chili, you are overestimating the degree to which other people are going to notice, or connect any dots if they do notice.

        You don’t even need to like tell white lies about plant health! If anyone says anything, keep it light + subject change:

        “Oh, just need these at home for a bit”
        “Just rearranging — can we talk about X project?”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          “I’m rethinking which and how many reference books I need in my office.”

          And then make sure all the really important reference books make it out first.

          1. dawbs*

            And the white lie…
            “Oh, I have finally gotten around to having digital copies on the computer, so I can get rid of clutter in my office!”

      3. nona*

        If its moving that fast, then why be concerned if anyone notices?

        Also – do you have after hours/weekend access? Stay later one evening and move a bunch of stuff out. If it’s on a Friday, then people are even less likely to register a change the following Monday.

        1. Miss Cranky Pants*

          You may be overthinking this. It’s your stuff; take it home when you want to. IF, and it seems unlikely anyone would actually say anything to you about this, IF someone has the cojones to questions you about it, you can tell the truth: I’m taking these home. No need to expand, lie, or redirect.

          Sounds like it will be physically easier to handle these in batches just due to logistics. If you can access the building late evening or on a Saturday, do that if you would feel more comfortable.

          It’s your stuff!

      4. JustA___*

        What if your allergies are bothering you, so you need to empty the shelves and reduce the dusty volumes in your workspace/plants that may also be the issue? Spring cleaning?
        This level of subterfuge feels a little unnecessary (and its going to point to you leaving in hindsight), but you know your work better than me.

        1. Artemesia*

          No need to be defensive and come up with long winded explanations. If she can’t do it gradually then wait till the offer is in hand and the night before giving notice move it all out.

      5. Office Lobster DJ*

        I see why you’re worried about the books — absent other context, there’s a good chance anyone sent to pack up your desk would assume they are company property. I agree that in most places, no one would notice missing books, especially if the books are kept in your private office and you’re the only one that references them. So I wouldn’t worry too much if you decide to start taking some home gradually. On the other hand, if you want to do it all the night before, that works, too.

        Any chance you could “bequeath” a plant or two from your collection to select co-workers as a friendly gesture? This may help put your mind at ease if you’re concerned about being perceived as cold or abrupt.

        If there are comments post-resignation, and an honest “I wasn’t sure I’d be able to work out my notice period” wouldn’t fly, maybe just say you wanted to focus on wrapping things up without the stress of packing hanging over your head.

      6. Observer*

        They had to secretly coordinate with former co-workers to pack and sneak their personal items out.

        Then you don’t have to worry about what people will notice or think. As the others say, just take your stuff home this evening. Or this evening for the books and the day you get the offer for the plants. And then give your notice the next day.

  20. Be kind, rewind*

    Resign by spelling out out “I quit” in deli meat in the display case and send us a picture.

  21. anonymous73*

    #2 – once you have a new job and give your notice, as Alison said expect your boss to say something nasty. When she does, you say “I could leave now if that works better for you”. If she says okay, then leave and never look back. If she says no, only stay as long as she treats you well. The second she starts in on the abusive behavior, get your stuff and leave. She doesn’t need an explanation, and doesn’t deserve anything more.

  22. ecnaseener*

    Lw5, just to respond to your very last sentence about “unverifiable lies” – an award is exactly as verifiable as most other accomplishments listed on your resume; ie they can confirm it in a reference check but probably not before. That is par for the course! Don’t be worried about that part.

  23. Junior Assistant Peon*

    #1 – Just stay late the night before you give notice and load everything into your car after everyone else goes home, or maybe come back in the evening and do it. It won’t matter if someone notices your office half-empty the morning you’re about to send your resignation note.

    1. ecnaseener*

      (or rather, the morning you meet with your manager to give verbal notice — don’t just send them a note)

  24. The Lexus Lawyer*

    Quick note to OP4.

    Yes, it is discrimination. But it’s not illegal discrimination.

    Smokers are not a protected class, at least not in any civilized nation I know of. If anyone knows any place that has protection for discrimination against smokers, please share

    1. Loulou*

      Much of the US actually has laws protecting smokers from discrimination in employment…which obviously would not apply to this situation, since the smokers are in no way being discriminated against.

  25. Maglev to Crazytown*

    You have nailed the situation on the books (LW 1 here). One problem with gradual I have in my situation is that I got cold-called for this opportunity, which has moved incredibly fast, and I am expecting the formal offer in hand any minute (I have a combo of specialized unicorn skills that they were looking for). This has been such a wild ride the last couple weeks and is hard and stressful enough without worrying about my plants getting fried and a rare collection of references being lost to me.

    1. Eco-Logical*

      I was in a similar (though less professionally good!) situation whereby we knew redundancies were coming, we knew in our industry they tend to immediately put you on gardening leave, and I knew I’d verbally agreed an unpaid sabbatical, so I was sure to be made redundant. So the day before the announcement of redundancies I literally took everything I could think of. All my books, copies of every single document I thought would be useful, client contact lists, a download of my email, everything. All the electronic stuff went onto a thumb drive, all the physical stuff went into a box. A couple of people asked me what I was doing (open plan office), so I told them. Their reaction was ‘don’t be absurd. you’re good at your job, it won’t be you’. Mine was ‘well then I’ll bring all this stuff back’. I was entirely unsurprised when it was, in fact, me. But I had all my stuff. And I retained a good working relationship with everyone there. Take the stuff, no-one will care. I think you’re worrying about this because the job situation seems fast moving and is out of your control, and this is something you can control. In the unlikely event of someone asking you about it, make a vague non-committal answer like ‘I need this stuff at home’.

    2. Don*

      I got “caught” on this a long time ago and I just laughed and said I was just doing some spring cleaning and culling out books I didn’t find myself using anymore. I think I said I was gonna give a bunch of them to someone new in the industry before they got too old to be useful anymore. Unless someone is overly nosey they’ll drop it. If they don’t you could just ask them why they are so interested in seeing you leave.

  26. Mollie*

    OP2- Could you time this so you’re giving notice at the end of your shift that day? That might give you some extra strength to set a clear boundary (Alison’s scripts above), rather than knowing you’ll have to deal with her for the rest of your work day.

  27. Environmental Compliance*

    For OP 1 –

    I’ve brought plants/books home under the guise of repotting & having a colleague/friend want to borrow the books, if you think anyone is going to notice & ask and you want a breezy easy answer.

    I would bring stuff home in small batches just for ease of carrying, honestly. But there’s also nothing wrong with bringing them all home the night before you give notice.

  28. DrSalty*

    LW #2 – this feels like a situation where resigning via text or email and never coming back is okay. You don’t have to put up with that kind of bs.

  29. Rusty Shackelford*

    #1 – “Oh no! All my books are gone! And my plants! Who could have done this?”

    #2 – I actually love the idea of resigning in person and then, when she gets nasty, putting on your sweetest voice to say “Ooooh, looks like you’re not very happy having me around! Don’t worry. I’ll do you the favor of just leaving now.”

    1. Artemesia*

      I love that too but this OP has worked there ‘because she is afraid to leave’ — she needs to protect herself and resign by email and not have to put up with this blast of incivility from her abusive boss. The boss has not earned the usual courtesy of face to face two week notice.

  30. Purple Loves Snow*

    To OP #1:
    If you are asked about your empty office, could you fib and say you took the plants home to re-pot and then subtly take a book or 2 home at a time. You could say you are re-reading your books at home in your spare time. I have been in the situation where I didn’t want bosses/co-workers to know I was going to be leaving and just slowly took a couple things home at a time, and the posed it as an office clean out/make over that was long overdue.

  31. Sylvan*

    OP1: Some people have suggested moving things out slowly, and I think that’s a good idea! Another way to accomplish something without arousing suspicion is to do it openly, as if there’s nothing to be suspicious about. Clean out all your things in one go during any free time in a normal workday. If anyone asks you about it, you can say it was time to declutter. You’re not doing anything worth explaining, like planning to resign, you’re just bringing your things home because you want to bring your things home.

    1. SarahKay*

      Take all your books home and in their place put a single copy of Marie Kondo’s latest book – or maybe just a printout of her “Discard items that no longer spark joy” statement.

      1. Maglev to Crazytown*

        This made me laugh out loud (LW #1 here). That would totally be taken badly (yet hilariously). It is honestly an overall toxic environment right now, hence all of the departures I have been witnessing which have NOT been handled consistently, so even though I have been trying to be professional and calm, people are already VERY much on edge. Plus, although I am not “important” from a food chain perspective, my departure will scare the remaining ponies even more, so I am trying to be delicate both from that perspective AND from protecting my stuff.

  32. Oh No She Di'int*

    OP #3:

    Just some food for thought: I was raised in such a way that I would automatically reject any offers of hospitality. I would go so far as to say it was a reflex. (Mainly because in my household if someone did something for you it meant you “owed” them and could never get out of debt.) Once I got over that hangup and actually started letting people do nice things for me when they want to, my life got a whole lot better.

    Not saying this is your situation, but I notice that you didn’t say that you don’t drink coffee. You do drink coffee. And you say that you “usually” get it before you come in to work, which means not always. So there are at least *some* occasions when it would make sense to accept the offer. Just as an intellectual exercise it might be worth getting curious about why you always say no regardless. Not saying you’re doing anything wrong. Just something to be curious about.

    1. wittyrepartee*

      My fiancee comes from a background like yours. Same with me, but to a lesser degree. Sometimes you accept hospitality because it’s a gift to another person. Sometimes you accept hospitality because it’s accepting an act of love. Sometimes you accept hospitality because it’s a way to build your community. It’s hard to learn to do, but it’s important and makes your life better.

  33. Not_Me*

    LW2, your best option may be to just leave there without any notice at all. I know it’s not the professional way to do things, but your boss is so beyond unprofessional that if you were my friend, I would tell you to do just that. It’s not like she’ll give you a good reference anyway. Use this horrible boss/job as a learning experience on what red flags to look for next time.

    I hope you aren’t offended if I give you some advice. I don’t know how old you are or how much prior work experience you have, but please don’t ever allow a boss to treat you that way. You are their employee, trading your time to help them make money. You could be working for someone else, but you chose them. You are not a punching bag to be abused when things don’t go right. It doesn’t matter if you work for a deli or anywhere else. If my boss were yelling at me or being unprofessional, I would tell her one time to stop yelling at me. If she continued, I quit. Yes, I need the money, but no one is going to talk to me any way they want. You don’t have to do it like that, but definitely set boundaries for yourself. Your boss isn’t your owner and you don’t have to tolerate bad behavior. And never be afraid to quit. You have to do what’s right for you, not for your employer.

  34. Sarah*

    2: Given the history, I’d just wait until the end of my shift and resign day of. They can’t expect the courtesy of 2 weeks without giving their employees courtesy in return.

  35. MCMonkeyBean*

    I have never followed the “don’t keep more in your office than can fit in a box rule.” My cube is my home away from home and I get very settled in with lots of decorations and snacks and spare shoes/jackets/umbrellas etc.

    The last time I planned to give notice, I was not worried about being told to leave immediately, but I still started slowly taking things home as soon as I was in negotiations for another job in anticipation of having to give notice. Each day I would bring an empty tote in the morning to carry some more things back home. I would then try to “decorate” my cube a bit more with things that actually belonged in the office so it didn’t look too barren lol. So if you want to bring a plant or two home on occasion over a couple of weeks instead of trying to pack it all up in one night I am a fan of that personally.

    (Anecdotally it turned out to be very good for me that I started packing up my stuff early–this was in March of 2020 and I ended up having to work from home for a couple of weeks before I gave notice. While most people left a few things at the office, that was my cue to pack up literally ALL the rest of my stuff and take it home with me, and I ended up never stepping foot inside the building again. Even to return my computer they had me leave it outside a door. I don’t know if I would have been able to get all my stuff back home if I hadn’t already taken most of it!)

  36. Don't kneel in front of me*

    LW#2: the great thing about quitting a job is that your boss is no longer your boss. She has no power over you anymore. She can’t fire you, cut your hours, give you bad shifts, or otherwise hurt you anymore. The kind of person that says “I hate you” to am employee of 7 years is NOT the kind of person that would give a decent reference either!

    If she’s being mean and abusive you are well within your rights to tell her exactly what you think of her. Or you can leave. Or whatever else you want without considering her and her tantrums whatsoever!

  37. Fluffy Fish*

    OP4 – If there are individuals who have medical reasons to avoid the cigarette stench (asthma immediately comes to mind), then they can pursue an ada accommodation where your employer would have to provide a reasonable accommodation of which a separate coat storage is amply reasonable.

    Otherwise, no it’s not discrimination, but also no your employer doesn’t have to do anything about it (sorry).

    1. Emily*

      I am the letter writer from years ago who couldn’t train next to a pack a day smoker, so my training was cancelled, and then updated recently about how masks were an accommodation i wanted that they said no to in the pre pandemic times.

      I never mentioned that at one point someone used my coat (airline uniform) for their smoke break. $60 dry cleaning bill and I’m still salty lol

  38. I'm just here for the cats.*

    I think for #1 would you be able to gradually clean out your office over a week or so. Like bring a bag and stick your books in there one day. Then one day bring your plants home. If anyone asks you can say that you think they need to be repotted, or that it looks like one might have mites so you’re bringing it home to treat it.
    Then the day you give your notice get a box or a bag or something and put anything else in there so that you can grab it on the way out.

    Plus I think its stupid when you either get fired or you resign and they walk you out and don’t let you get your stuff. I think I heard once that they wouldn’t even let the person get her coat and purse and someone else had to go get that for her.

    1. quill*

      I got my contract ended early at 7pm on a friday night once. Took a stupid amount of time the next monday to get my coat back, never got my stash of snacks and tea.

  39. Nanani*

    #2 – remember that when you quit YOU DONT WORK FOR HER ANYMORE.
    There is literally nothing she can do once you quit! You don’t have to go back. You are about to be free.

  40. Louise B*

    LW2- it’s totally fine for you to just say “today was my last day, please don’t put me on the schedule for next week.” And then just leave. Block her number, avoid the deli. Erase the whole experience from your mind. I have never seen someone put two weeks in for a deli/restaurant job- it’s not an office and the norms are different. It’s very, very normal to just walk.

  41. quill*

    “Your managers don’t know the law and are being absurd,” is an ENTIRE genre of posts on here but I don’t think I’ve seen it said so succinctly before!

  42. KWu*

    LW2: I really hope you’re able to get out of there soon, and once you’re out, you’ll have some time and space to recover and reconsider what had happened in the last 3 years, which was–“you need to let me keep treating you badly under the threat that I will become even more unpleasant if you try to stop me.” Everyone, including you, deserves better than that.

  43. Awkward Potato*

    For LW3, my boss used to do this a lot. We were actually within walking distance of the coffee shop so usually I would say something to the effect of “You know, I am all set on coffee, but could use some fresh air if you wouldn’t mind the company.” Anyways, we ended up having really good conversations during those walks about work and not work and ended up building a really good rapport with one another. Just as a suggestion :)

  44. PinkiePieWorksHard*

    LW1, in offices I’ve worked where a walk is standard after a resignation or a layoff, time is usually scheduled after work for the individual to collect their belongings. You may not want to do that and there’s nothing wrong with your plan, but I wouldn’t worry too much that you’re going to lose permanent access to your stuff if you’re walked immediately once you put notice in.

  45. EJane*

    #4: one of my favorite things in the entire world is questions where the answer is a single flat sentence.

  46. Gypsy, Acid Queen*

    LW1, I was in a similar situation and did a “desk clean/office refresh” before giving my notice. Prioritize what you want to keep and get them out first. I kinda made a to-do about “hey do you think this lamp looks good over here instead? Ooh i think my work focus is much better now!” and shuffling a few minor things while also packing at least 2 document boxes full of the high priority desk decor and crap. I stayed late most days, so i waited until most were out and took the stuff to my car. Anyone asked, it was distracting me from work and I wanted to try a different layout, and the small performance while cleaning kinda helped. I still had some personal effects around, but they were lower on the priority list and I wouldn’t be too upset if i couldn’t get them back. If boxes look too conspicuous, tote bags.

  47. PotsPansTeapots*

    #2 Can you lock down a good reference from a current or former co-worker now? Having that in your pocket could make it easier to do any of the great strategies Alison and other commenters have suggested. I’d just make sure they don’t turn a reference call into a minutes-long diatribe about the owner (even if it sounds like she deserves it!)

  48. Alexis Rosay*

    This question really illustrates the ridiculousness of escorting people out when they resign. If OP knows they will resign and has time to pack up their books, they would also have time to copy secret documents or something if they were so inclined.

  49. cchrissyy*

    you don’t have to quit it in person if you think it would be a traumatic experience.
    you can do it on your day off using text or email.

  50. SaffyTaffy*

    OP3, your life is about to get so much better. You will weather your boss’s nastiness, and then it will be just a bad memory. She can’t hurt you in any way that will stick.

  51. hayling*

    If you have multiple awards from different companies and also industry awards, would it be appropriate to have a separate “awards and recognition” section?

  52. nozenfordaddy*

    I don’t understand, what is this phenomena of ‘coffee you don’t really want’ is that really a thing? I can’t believe that’s a thing. I have never met a coffee I didn’t want.

  53. Snowy*

    #4 – Fourth-hand smoke is a thing. I used to work with a heavy smoker and made very sure to put my coat as far from hers as possible, because if mine ended up next to hers, I’d have problems breathing all the way home. What these non-smokers are asking for is a reasonable accommodation – some people do have tobacco allergies, and many smokers truly do not understand how strongly their clothes smell, because they’ve become habituated to it. Everyone has the right to breathable air, and smokers don’t have the right to force others to deal with their smoke residue.

    #2 – Please, you deserve so much better. Leave, and do whatever you must. At this point, if you have to hand your boss a note as you’re leaving for the weekend saying you won’t be back, just do it. Get out of there!

    #1 – Now is a GREAT time to call it “Spring Cleaning”. If you spread it out over time, and rearrange as you go, people probably won’t notice how much stuff is missing until quite a bit has already gone home. And then you can say you’re just doing some spring cleaning.

    1. Emily*

      I am the letter writer from years ago who couldn’t train next to a pack a day smoker, so my training was cancelled, and then updated recently about how masks were an accommodation i wanted that they said no to in the pre pandemic times.

      I never mentioned that at one point someone used my coat (airline uniform) for their smoke break. $60 dry cleaning bill and I’m still salty lol

  54. World's Most Common Initials*

    I need to start working “[X] don’t know the law and are being absurd” into my own professional advice. It feels like something I could get a lot of mileage out of. And, yes, I am a lawyer.

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