making a friend at work, people ask why I’m still wearing a mask, and more

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

1. I want to turn a professional contact into a friend

Part of my job includes going to different branches of the company I work for and present trainings relating to the roll out of a new program. At the most recent training, the point person in charge of helping me get set up was just a delight! She and I chatted quite a bit before and after the presentation and she seemed both to be very competent and also someone I would love to be friends with. She mentioned that we felt like “kindred spirits” and I felt the same way!

Maybe it’s the pandemic and the fact that I haven’t made new friends in a long time, but is it wildly inappropriate for me to email her and ask to get coffee sometime? How do you turn a very casual professional contact into a friend, if it’s even allowed? I’d love to make a friend but also don’t want to be weird or creepy!

People make friends through work all the time! And this woman told you said you felt like “kindred spirits” — I’m not sure there’s a clearer go-ahead for a social overture! Suggesting coffee is a very standard way to do it. You could say, “I had such a great time talking with you on Tuesday. I’d love to get coffee and hear more about X and Y if you have some time in the next few weeks.”

Read an update to this letter

2. Was I right to quit my job?

I’m hoping you can give me a reality check of sorts. I’m still not sure what I did wrong, or *if* I did anything wrong. The office manager called me into her office and informed me that “the partners had decided” I had enough capacity to take on a few cases with the senior attorney, who is a bully and has been through three paralegals since I started working here two years ago. I told the office manager I didn’t want to work for him if I didn’t have to, and she responded by saying “Then I accept your resignation.”

I went back to my office and called the attorney I work for, who is a partner, and she said she knew nothing about this partners’ decision. She seemed confused and told me she would straighten things out. In the meantime, I went to the attorney next door, who is also a partner, and shared what just happened. He knew nothing about this partners’ decision.

After about 20 minutes, the office manager came back to my office and said, “So you’re going to sit there and tell me you didn’t say you’d rather quit than work for —” and I told her that while it was true I didn’t want to work for him, I had no recollection of saying I would rather quit, and that I had no intention of resigning in that moment. I suggested we try to come up with a workaround so that I could get the support work done without having to interact with him. She told me to take the night to think about it and let her know my decision in the morning.

The next morning, I spoke to the attorney I work for and told her I was giving my notice. Even if we came up with a workaround, I no longer trusted the office manager and didn’t feel safe or comfortable working in that environment. She told me she respected my courage for standing up to a bully, and that my departure would force an overdue discussion among the partners about his behavior.

I typed up a formal letter of resignation, giving two weeks’ notice. I am now between jobs, and I feel horrible. Could I have handled this differently and still be employed? Or did I handle this appropriately, since leaving was the right decision for my mental health?

Well … it sounds it might have been premature. You talked to the partner you worked for and she said she was going to straighten it out, but then you resigned the next morning before she’d had a chance to.

Now, if you needed to leave for your mental health, then it was the right decision. But if you weren’t at that point, ideally you would have given your boss time to solve it and talked with her some more before deciding to leave (maybe starting a job search before quitting so that in case you weren’t happy with the solution, you’d already have that in progress).

Also, what’s up with that office manager? Saying “I’d rather not work for him if I don’t have to” isn’t a threat to quit, and her aggressive response to that makes no sense.

3. How to respond to people who ask why I’m wearing a mask

This isn’t just a work question; it’s also a general question. When asked why I’m still wearing a mask, I’d really like to say “none of your business,” but I realize that is contentious. Is there a nice way to say MYOB? I really don’t feel like I should have to explain.

I don’t think you should look for a response that conveys “mind your own business.” You’d be doing a social good if you instead answer with something that reinforcing to people that the pandemic isn’t over, protection still matters, and — even if they’re no longer worried personally — many people are higher risk than they might be or have higher-risk loved ones (including people who are immunocompromised, kids too young to be vaccinated, etc.). So because of that, I’d argue it’s better to say, “My doctor wants me to” or ““I have high-risk loved ones” or “I have a high level of risk” or “I’m more comfortable this way” or whatever works for you.

It’s infuriating that you’re being asked.

4. When did we all start having to manage each other’s calendars?

I’m a journalist who works on large projects (as in, a lot of interviews for each piece in addition to independent research). Invariably, scheduling these interviews involves needing to send calendar invites and being called on to edit/change the calendar invite, sometimes multiple times.

When did people stop managing their own calendars? In the not-so-old days, two or more people would agree on a date and time. Then, each party would go to their own calendars and make the entry, and be responsible for managing those entries as their individual schedules changed.

With this system I’m part journalist, part air-traffic controller for an annoying number of my sources. And don’t get me started on the folks that send me a link to an app where I then compare/contrast their available slots to my calendar before selecting a time for us to meet, which app then sends a bloody calendar invite.

Today someone’s assistant reminded me that the source will only be able to speak for half an hour and asked me to edit the calendar invite. Why? Can’t the assistant just adjust the time in their own calendar?

I have one central calendar for everything (work and personal), into which my work calendar feeds. I have enough to keep track of in my own calendar! Am I just a cranky old who needs to just deal, or is my annoyance legitimate?

Cranky old who needs to deal. I don’t like it either — I prefer to manage my own calendar and I don’t want someone else’s calendar invitation with their notes; I want my own calendar entry with my notes, which might not be for their eyes — but the train has left the station on this. The norms have changed, and we are in the minority.

(That said, I’ve been interested to see the number of letters I’ve received recently from people who hate getting a scheduling link to someone else’s calendar. I’d argue those are more efficient than a bunch of back and forth about availability, and if there’s no time at their link that works for you, you can say that and offer what works for you. But you don’t seem to be the only one affronted by the system!)

5. Using “I” on your resume

So I was taught that you shouldn’t use “I” when writing your resume and looking online, that rule is still out there. This practice seems impersonal and truly, just really awkward. No one talks that way. Is using first person with “I” incorrect on a resume? If it is, why? Could there be an exception for the objective/summary portion of the resume?

Yeah, for whatever reason, the convention is for resumes not to be written in the first person. Part of it is that you don’t use many pronouns on resumes at all; rather than writing “I developed an award-winning porridge,” you’re writing “Developed an award-winning porridge.” That’s an arbitrary convention; there’s nothing inherently right or wrong about it, but it is indeed the convention and if you wrote in the first person instead, it would be a little jarring and feel out of sync with resume norms.

The summary at the top of your resume can be an exception to that, though. Sometimes those are written more conversationally and they can be first-person. (But they should also be very short — a few sentences or bullet points. Don’t go for lengthy narrative there.)

{ 733 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Please keep comments about mask-wearing to the question being asked by the letter-writer: how to respond to people who ask why she’s wearing one. This isn’t the place to get into your personal feelings on masks or the pandemic. Thank you.

  2. Jolene*

    #2. We have one of those at my firm. I’ve been here 4 years, and he’s cycled through 5-6 different associates. People try when assigned to him, but then eventually give up. Nothing changes.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Old client was like that. In the 3 years I worked for that office, they went through no less than 4 EAs.

      OP#2’s office manager also sounds like a treat. While I agree that it sounded a bit premature to quit the next day, I would also be very much taken aback by the comments.

      1. SixTigers*

        The office manager told LW, basically, “Are you quitting, or are you going to work for Bigtooth Cyborg? Let me know first thing tomorrow.”

        Who does LW report to? If it’s the office manager, she was pretty much cornered.

    2. Medusa*

      I had one of those at a previous job. It wasn’t a law firm, but a person who consistently ran the people under him out of the organization. He was told he had to take management courses after I asked my supervisor to intervene when my colleague was being bullied. He took them, but he’s still running people out of the organization, so *shrug emoji*

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      We had one of those at my old firm (bragged about going through 4 assistants in one calendar year), and firm administration was not allowed to do anything with him. When a long-time firm employee was going to quit (quietly and with zero drama) in lieu of working with him, the guy whose name was on the sign found out and intervened. Not only was she NOT going to work for him, the problem child also got a sit-down from the name partner about his behavior and the fact that it was nothing to be proud of. He was eventually coached out and no one misses him, but, in all honesty, that was because his book of business shrank and not because he was a jackass.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I had a boss who went through six accountants before she finally found one who could read her mind…

  3. Omnivalent*

    The advice to LW#2 is accurate for businesses that aren’t law firms.

    This firm has tolerated a partner going through three different paralegals. They’re not going to do anything about his bullying. They likely won’t even have that “overdue conversation”. They’ll be sad to lose another good employee but nothing will be done.

    The office manager is almost certainly being bullied by the partner herself and is under pressure to find someone to work with him.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, I think there’s a question of structure here. Does the OP work for the Partner or do they work for the Office Manager? At some law offices, I know the structure is that partners have their own paralegals. I know at some office the paralegals work for the Office Manager, but are assigned to different partners or work for several. Does the Office Manager have the authority to accept the resignation? If so, I can see leaving. I wouldn’t want my boss to react like that either if all I said was I didn’t want to work for a known bully. However, if the Partner was the boss and the Office Manager wasn’t, then this does feel a little premature. Of course, law offices run by their own rules I’ve noticed.

      1. MK*

        If the office manager can assign work to the OP and then basically firing her for not accepting the new work, then she must work for the firm.

      2. bamcheeks*

        That’s what I was thinking too. If Office Manager is LW’s direct line manager and the partners don’t tend to get directly involved, then losing trust in them is absolutely a good reason to hand in your notice. Even if Partner says she’ll sort it out, LW might not have faith that that will a) actually happen b) in a timely manner c) without retaliation or pushback back Office Manager.

        You *could* have given Partner time to try and sort it out, LW– but if experience tells you that she wasn’t going to do much and the thought of continuing to work with Office Manager on a daily basis gave you the dreads, then I don’t think you should feel bad for making a quick decision.

        1. Snow Globe*

          I think the Partner’s response (that the resignation would force an overdue conversation among the partners) is an indication that the Partner probably didn’t think that she would have been able to resolve the situation. If the Partner actually thought that she could, she probably would have asked LW to give her a few more days. Which I think means that the LW probably made the right decision, even if it was a little premature.

          1. ap*

            Yeah, the Partner’s comment that it would force an overdue conversation is almost insulting. Welp, sorry you’re going, once you’re gone we’ll maybe try to talk about the slightest possibility of dealing with the very obviously difficult partner we’re all very aware of, not that it will do you any good, tx bye.

        2. Cj*

          I don’t know much about how it works at law firms, and this does make sense. However, when the office manager first talked to her, they said that the partners have decided that she has the capacity to take on work for the bully partner. So the office manager made it sound like it was the partners’ decision, not theirs.

          I also noted that she said the partners had decided this, plural, and at least two other partners didn’t know anything about it.

          1. Cait*

            That’s what stuck out to me too! It sounded like the office manager either completely misconstrued what the partners wanted (“tell her she has to work with Fergus or she’s fired”) or made the whole thing to try to oust the OP and… I don’t know… thought the partners would never find out? I’m an office manager and I could never picture saying to a colleague, “The boss said you need to work on Project X with Hester. You don’t want to work with Hester? Fine then, I accept your resignation.” What??? As if she just has the ability to make that decision even IF the OP had said “I’d rather quit than work with him”! Something is severely off with this office manager and I’m wondering why on earth the partner who said they’d handle it didn’t immediately march over to the office manager’s desk and say, “Did you really just fire OP over something I have NO RECOLLECTION of telling you to do?!”. Whether or not there’s an issue with the OP not wanting to work with this higher-up seems irrelevant compared with an office manager who is making up tasks and firing people over them.

            1. Princesss Sparklepony*

              My guess – the HR person needs to fill the Bigtooth’s paralegal spot. So she knows LW is a good worker, and so says you got to move. It takes care of HR’s problem of finding someone to work for the bully and makes it so the LW can’t refuse. Bigtooth is the rainmaker here, HR doesn’t care if the people who LW is working for are annoyed if she goes to the other guy. Either they don’t have power or they don’t really care who works for them. And HR knows that it will be easy to find a replacement for that slot.

              Bottom line – HR person was fibbing to make her job easier. Of course, now she has to hire two paralegals. I guess she’s feeling lucky.

          2. SixTigers*

            My guess is that “the partners” who made that decision was Bigtooth Cyborg himself. I think that Bigtooth Cyborg said to Office Manager, “I need someone around here to do some freaking work for me for a change! Gimme OP!”

            And Office Manager said, “Yessir, very good sir, right away sir!” and marched over to OP’s desk to tell OP about the reassignment.

      3. LW#2*

        This law firm definitely has its own rules that get modified or made up when it suits them.

        1. EPLawyer*

          You definitely can’t trust this Office Manager. She is blatantly saying things that are not true to you. She is also gaslighting you (you said you would quit rather than work with him, when you said nothing like that).

          The Partner is not the only problem here. The fact no one blinked at the OM flat out lying to you shows there is an out of control OM that no one wants to get back in control.

          While quitting without another job lined up might have been a tad premature, doing a hard job search would not have been a bad approach. This is not a place you want to stick around after something like this.

          1. The OTHER Other*

            Yeah, I was wondering about the office manager too, it seems like the firm has a problem with a bullying attorney and also a bullying office manager, and are not addressing either of them. It’s tough to hire skilled people right now and this OM basically ran to OP out of the job, do the partners have a clue how hard it will be to replace her?

        2. Beth*

          Whooeee, then. I think you made the right decision. I was blinking over the partners’ paying no attention to the way the OM was gaslighting and bullying; never mind the senior partner. NOT good signs. Best of luck finding a saner place to work!

        3. Happy Lurker*

          Former Law office worker, not paralegal. I would not go back for all the tea in China. OP you did the right thing for you!

          Take a little time for a breather and go on out and get a better job. Good luck!

      4. RagingADHD*

        At the firms I’ve worked for, the paralegals and secretaries report on the org chart to the head of back-office staff, who may be the head of HR, or the office manager in a small place. But they are assigned to an attorney, or small group of attorneys who are their day to day supervisors for tasks.

        The thing about the partner structure is that the partners can overrule the head of staff, and can negotiate among themselves. More-senior partners or higher-billing partners can also overrule the juniors or less influential.

        It would have been much better for the LW to give it a couple more days, as Alison said. The firm isn’t going to do anything definitive about the bully, but the LWs good partner could probably have changed the assignment.

        It was a major overstep for the bully to poach the LW away from their original partners without talking to them, and they had a right to be pissed off.

        1. Blarg*

          But then the office manager is mad at OP, whomever ends up assigned to the bully is mad at OP, and it is still bad for OP. Retaliation for declining to work for a jerk is perfectly legal.

          1. RagingADHD*


            OTOH, it’s also possible that the office manager doesn’t care as long as the bully gets *somebody*, and whoever winds up with the assignment doesn’t know about OP, or fully understands their reluctance and is sympathetic.

            It could go several different ways.

            IME, when an office bully is always mad about something, the individual incidents can blow over quickly.

          2. Crimson*

            Or someone with a really thick skin takes it on. Or someone negotiates a pay bump to work for him. Or they hire someone to work under him and are clear about what the job will be like (I’ve been to several interviews where it was made clear that the reason this job pays so well is this person is insufferable to work under). Or whoever gets the job isn’t told OP was initially told to do it because why would that ever be shared? The office manager wouldn’t want to spread the idea that this is something you can just say no to.

            1. Princesss Sparklepony*

              I was temping at a law firm and another woman was also temping. Saw her crying in the bathroom on more than one occasion. Finally I asked if she was ok (didn’t want to intrude) and turns out she was working for an attorney who was a bully. We chatted. She’d been with him for about 6 months and every day was a misery. I told her she had put in enough time and that she could go to her temp agency about another posting. Since she had been there so long, the temp agency wouldn’t be likely to hold it against her. But no one should be that miserable every day. I’m guessing she took my advice. But I never heard a follow up.

    2. Wildcat*

      I think Inwould have given the partner time to see if she could successfully shield OP and take that time to job hunt. If the partner really liked the paralegal, she might have been able to swing a no for a while. The Office Manager was disturbing but I guess just don’t let that person force you out without seeing what people on your side can do for you (while getting the resume out asap).

      1. pancakes*

        Yes – the question isn’t so much “is it likely the bully will be confronted or gotten rid of” as “was the other partner finished looking into whether it might be possible to keep the letter writer from working for the bully?” The answer to the latter is clearly no.

        1. Yorick*

          But that’s not why LW2 resigned. She resigned because of the office manager. I wouldn’t want to work with that person anymore either.

    3. Audenc*

      Sadly I’ve seen this dynamic at consultancies as well. Once you reach a certain level of seniority/oversee enough revenue, you would probably have to use a racial slur in a public meeting to have anything “addressed”. The office manager could definitely be getting bullied as well, but sometimes people like that can go on power trips and be fairly complicit in the toxic dynamic.

      Still think it was premature for OP to quit, however.

    4. linger*

      #2 likely involves miscommunication.
      Office Manager’s reaction seems odd in the context supplied, but would be much less out of left field if she had misheard “I’d rather not work for him if I don’t have to” as “I’d rather not work for you if I don’t have to” — which is plausible, since the object pronoun is unstressed. At this point, OP2 had not done anything wrong, and the situation might have been fixable IF the other partners could have pushed back on the planned reassignment on her behalf.
      But OP2 subsequently directly confirmed to Office Manager she wanted to leave, before any action could be taken by the other partners. This may have been the right call to make, but it did remove any chance of any other outcome.

      1. MK*

        There is also the matter of the office manager apparently having lied about the OP’s reassignment being the partners’ decision.

        1. Asenath*

          That could easily have been a result of one of the – or the – most senior partners telling the office manager of the decision, and the office manager naturally assuming that he or she was speaking for all of the partners. It does sound like a sufficiently nasty situation that, although I think I might have given it a short time to find out if the other partner would intervene, I’d be job hunting even if I didn’t resign on the spot.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        When the office manager made the leap in logic to OP resigning, that set off a red flag in my mind.

        The office manager is either very nervous and jumpy herself OR the office manager is also a bully. Can’t tell without being there. My knee jerk reaction is that the office manager is almost as much of a problem as bully boss is.

        1. LW#2*

          Honestly, that’s my conclusion as well. If she had been able to have a conversation with me about a work around solution, and actually acknowledging my concerns, I might have felt more comfortable staying and giving it a go.

      3. pancakes*

        Either way, the office manager is too reactive to something they didn’t take the time to hear or clarify.

        1. Sloanicota*

          My take, the office manager is just on a power trip. They have the task of assigning work and aren’t going to tolerate any pushback because it makes them feel challenged. Others are correct that she also feels pressure to find someone to support this partner. OP is probably correct that the manager would be nasty to them from there on out. The only question is if OP works directly for the office manager or if they could have avoided them working through the partner they like.

          I had a job for a terrible bully once but it was okay because she wasn’t my boss and my actual boss kept me out of it. Working for the bully I wouldn’t have lasted two weeks.

          1. pancakes*

            Yep. I have encountered more than one power-tripping office manager or senior paralegal who fits that paradigm. One had control of the temperature controls for the entire floor and insisted on keeping it meat locker-chilled. Fine for her because she had a small, glass-walled office in a corner warmer than anyplace else, but everyone else would be sitting there with their winter coats draped around their shoulders!

    5. Skåne American*

      I think LW was astute to recognize the writing on the wall given that no one asked them reconsider their resignation.

      1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        Exactly – if they were going to do anything they would’ve given the bully a talking to before OP, not after.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Quitting with nothing lined up stinks though. OP is not eligible for unemployment because they voluntarily resigned, and they didn’t get the time to job-search. It’s possible this is a better option than being fired for cause (insubordination? Refusing assignments?) because that looks worse on your record, but if the Office Manager was her supervisor that probably damages the reference anyway.

    6. Artemesia*

      I still don’t understand why the LW didn’t stand her ground and expect the other partners to fix this. Yes, maybe they would fail, but maybe not. Is the bully also the managing partner?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I suspect that LW has seen this one play out before. Or has had other problems at work, with things that should not be a problem.

        Many professionals- docs, lawyers, etc- end up managing a business but they have no management training or management experience. They might be professionals at their own work, but they are not professional at managing people.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I also suspect that this has played out a few times, and Office manager and Bully Partner have always gotten their way in the end. Sometimes “nopeing” out of being a target is the best of many bad options. From the fact nobody argued when OP put in their notice, I’d say the partner they normally worked under wasn’t at all certain they were going to be able to protect OP either.

          Oh, and I see that “long overdue” conversation is going to become we need two paralegals not just one, again.

      2. Threeve*

        If nothing else, a simple “huh?” is how most people would respond.

        Or “oh, that’s not what I meant,” or “are those my only options?”

        That hardly requires superhuman levels of assertiveness. LW responded like the office manager was threatening her safety.

        1. Anne Elliot*

          Yeah, I think there must be some further context missing. Not to blame the OP, but it’s hard to see why the response to “I accept your resignation then” was not more communication instead of leaving the OM’s office. Seems like “I accept your resignation” would need an immediate correction: “I never said I was resigning, I said I do not want to work with Partner.” It’s not clear why that, or something like that, wasn’t said.

          1. LW#2*

            Actually, I did say that. She accused me of lying – and trying to change my words. So I went back to my office to sort out my thoughts instead of having it potentially escalate with me getting defensive. She even came back to my office and said “so you’re going to sit there and tell me that you didn’t say you’d rather quit than work for —“. I told her I didn’t remember saying those words, but that I didn’t want to work for him. That’s when she told me to take the night to think about my decision.
            There is a history of her behavior like this – I’ve just never been a target until now. I think that’s what I’m finding the most disconcerting. But I have three interviews lined up this week, so I’m going to focus on the positive.

            1. have we met?*

              Good for you! Sounds like you did, in fact, make the right decision. Wishing you the best for your interviews!

            2. Birdie*

              LW, I’ve been in your shoes and know sometimes these absolutely “WTF?!” things happen at work and it gives you sudden clarity. And sometimes that clarity says “Get out of here now!” Trust that you made the right decision FOR YOU.

              At least in my city, that paralegal market is hot. Sounds like that might be the case for you as well. Best of luck in your job search!

            3. Anne Elliot*

              Well, the point at which she rejects your clarification as you lying or “trying to change your words” — I mean, “trying to change your words” is what a clarification is, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Sounds like she was hell-bent on putting the worst possible interpretation on what you were trying to say, and I agree that’s a huge indicator she is not on your side. Good luck with your interviews!

            4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Wow – sounds like the partner wasn’t the only bully, and that nopeing out of being a target was the best of the bad choices in this instance.

              Best of luck on the interviews LW2.

            5. Princesss Sparklepony*

              I wish there was a like button!

              You did well. Good people shouldn’t have to work for bad people. And the big partner and the office manager sound like not good sorts.

              Hopefully the job market will be hopping and you will have a choice of offers. Sending you good job hunting mojo. Aim high! (Better commute, better firm, better pay, better benefits, better amenities!)

            6. NotAnotherManager!*

              Experienced paralegals are incredibly difficult to find in my market and command good salaries with OT, and I’m glad to hear you have interviews lined up. Your office manager sounds like a horrible head of HR I worked under for years, and those types don’t change their stripes. Best of luck with your job search!

      3. L.H. Puttgrass*

        LW2 said that the bully is “the senior attorney”—I’m not sure if that’s the equivalent of the managing partner, the partner who has been there the longest, is is the oldest. I’m assuming that the Office Manager is not an attorney but has some amount of authority over the paralegals.

        But what would the “fix” be? It’s unlikely the law firm would do much other than maybe have a bit of a talk with the partner—and then forget about it. Assuming the partner has a good book of business—and he probably wouldn’t be a senior partner if he didn’t—the firm isn’t going do anything that would risk losing that business. In a conflict between paralegals and a senior partner…well, no firm worries about losing business because a paralegal is leaving.

        1. pancakes*

          A fix for the letter writer would be to not have to work for the bully. To only work for other, more reasonable partners.

        2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          I can see that but I can also see how the other partners might start getting annoyed that they keep losing paralegals and decide that Senior Partner is on his own for hiring and keeping paralegals. Depends how specialized the work is to some extent.

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            Chevron gives an example of a firm that finally did something like this—and since they have an actual example while I only have vague impressions based on what I know of the legal profession, I’ll give Chevron deference.* But the power differential is huge—on the one hand, the risk of annoying a partner enough that they leave and take their business with them. On the other, the need to replace a(nother) paralegal. At most firms, a partner has to really screw up (or be hated for other reasons) before the other partners will do anything to risk losing that business.

            * Admin law joke. And If you don’t think I was looking for a way to work that in ever since seeing someone named Chevron comment on a law firm issue…well, you are mistaken. Anyway. Sorry about that. I’ll just see myself out.

            1. Chevron*

              Hahahaha! The situation in my old firm was fairly unique, the paralegal had a lot more capital across the business than is usual, and partners who had higher equity stakes than the bullying rainmaker were very upset when she left. They had tried to intervene on her behalf to make the bully less of a bully while it was going on, it didn’t work, and honestly who knows how much of the repercussions after she left were down to bruised egos than an actual desire to protect future staff. I suspect it was the final straw in a lot of ways, not least the amount they had paid out to keep leaving staff quiet over the years.

              1. L.H. Puttgrass*

                Yeah, it’s pretty rare circumstances when the partners go to bat for a paralegal—and even then, there’s a large amount of self-interest in that the partners don’t want to lose someone who makes their lives easier. But the paralegal has to be a megastar for partners to start thinking of that instead of the lost business from a jerk of a partner who leaves.

                (I’m glad someone appreciated my joke—it’s a bit obscure, even for a lawyer.)

            2. Avocado Abogoda*

              Really pleased someone made the Chevron joke this commenting situation so clearly required!
              Note that I have been reading AAM for months and this is the first comment I felt was important enough to make a username so I could respond.

        3. Sloanicota*

          A better outcome for OP would have probably been to stall for a little bit, long enough to at least put feelers out and send some resumes, so they would have a new job lined up or at least some good leads before they quit. Even starting with the senior partner and keeping her head down while she job searched might or might not have been a better scenario. However, a job is rarely worth your mental health so I understand, and the job market is pretty good right now. Hopefully OP will have no problem finding new work (I’m biased because it always seems to take me forever, like a whole year of searching and applying, in my crowded field).

      4. Miss Betty*

        It’s a law firm. The partners were just giving lip service to placate her but nothing was ever going to change. Law firms tend to be breeding grounds for bullies – in the past 30 years, I’ve seen this scenario play out over and over again and it has never, not once in my experience, played out so the bully attorney is talked to or reprimanded in any way and they stay until they’re good and ready to leave themselves, all the while going through paralegals and assistants like tissues. At my previous job, the bully had three assistants in a row that quit before 2 months and they had to reach out to a previous one and offer her a lot of money to come back. When that one left again after a couple years, they offered the position to a legal assistant, W, who’d been there for over 15 years. She turned it down but they kept trying to convince her to take it, without letup. It stressed W so badly she quit without notice because it was affecting her mental and physical health. I know we throw around the word “toxic” a lot, but a lot of law firms truly are. I’m fortunate to have finally (after 30 years!) landed at one that doesn’t seem to be.

      5. EPLawyer*

        because bully is an OWNER of the law firm. All the partners have equity stakes in the firm. (that model is changing a bit, but there is no indication here that the bully is a non-equity partner). Which means ousting them takes A LOT OF WORK. Plus paying out the partner’s capital account.


        You tell the paralegal who is not an owner, isn’t a rainmaker for the firm, so sad too bad, nothing we could do.

        Guess which one is more likely.

      6. Omnivalent*

        They haven’t fixed it to the tune of three paralegals and at least one “overdue” conversation. A partner is a co-owner of the business. They aren’t going to do anything about him.

    7. Chevron*

      Agreed. I’ve only seen this sort of behaviour addressed once in a law firm, when a paralegal who was very popular and much-loved by other senior partners left due to the bullying. The partners finally got together and made it so the bullying partner wasn’t allowed any administrate support and couldn’t supervise juniors… but this was after several years of cycling through staff and everyone from HR to the managing partner knowing she was a horrific bully but not doing anything. Bullying partner brought in a large amount of business.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        “Bullying partner brought in a large amount of business.”

        This, of course, being the key fact here. There are a couple of solutions here. The one you describe makes sense if this guy wasn’t there to actually practice law, as that would be impossible to do on anything like a high level without any support. In this scenario he gets a very nice office as far away as possible from where law is being practiced. This is a variant of the socially connected moron. I used to know a senior paralegal whose job was to keep her principal from committing malpractice through sheer stupidity. He was there for his family connections, and they kept him away as much as possible from touching the actual work product.

        The other solution for senior bully partner is to extravagantly overpay his support staff, with part of the hiring process being to make this clear. I knew of a solo practitioner who did this. He would explain to candidates that he was going to pay them twice what they would anywhere else, and he expected they would only last a year or two. This doesn’t strike me a great business model, but it seemed to work for him.

        1. Very Social*

          It’s wild to me that he was sufficiently aware of his poor treatment of support staff to warn candidates about it so explicitly, and yet not enough to actually treat them better.

    8. anonymous73*

      That’s irrelevant, it was still premature.
      1. OP never expressed being unhappy with her job until this incident.
      2. Her boss had her back.

      Maybe her staying and having her boss try and fix the situation wouldn’t have changed anything, but OP never gave them a chance.

      1. Lydia*

        Nope. OP witnessed how things went down in the past and when she was called up for duty, decided not to sacrifice herself. Her boss is the office manager, not the partner she does work for. So no, her boss in fact did not have her back.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Any partner outranks the office manager, however. So even if her boss didn’t have her back, her boss’ boss did.

          I don’t think that means LW had any obligation to stay, btw. I just think you’re making it sound as if office manager has a lot more power there than they probably really do have. Paralegals are in hot demand, and the partner she’s been working for will presumably give her a reference. Between the two, she should be able to get a good job soon enough to be no trouble, and there’s no reason besides the risk of not finding other work soon, why she should have to stay at a job that doesn’t please her. No matter what the reason is why it doesn’t please her.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Depends on your structure. When I worked in legal, the partners (really, any attorneys) were not allowed to directly manage anyone because it tended to play out in favoritism and certain people being allowed to get away with murder while others were expected to behave like rational human beings and follow policy. I always had to make sure their work was covered, but hiring/staffing/firing decisions were made by administrative management (who also took the blowback from the bullies directly).

            In the ~15 years I worked in legal, the book of business still reigned supreme, but most functional firms had structures in place to blunt their impact. And other lawyers don’t like working with jackasses either – the bullying partner will do that to associates and staff, and, especially right now, firms can’t afford to lose either. (The associate market is insane.) Law firms can be sued for employment-related problems as well, and part of firm management’s job was to avoid lawsuits against the partnership. Partners don’t like their share value being threatened either.

    9. Delta Delta*

      the partners all know about the “overdue conversation” but it’s easier to hire paralegal after paralegal at $35/hour than it is to replace an equity-holding rainmaker. And I would guarantee there’s at least one partner actively bemoaning that they went into this to practice law, not to manage a business or solve interpersonal staffing problems.

      I’d guess the office manager isn’t being bullied but is also an active bully in a completely different way.

      1. Omnivalen*

        Or even if the partner isn’t a rainmaker. It’s just easier to play ostrich and lose good staff than to confront a fellow partner in a meaningful way. You are spot on that it’s likely some variation of pissing and moaning about how owning a business means having to do the unfun things that come with owning a business.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Partners who aren’t rainmakers are liabilities. They’re expensive, and, if they’re not adding anything to the bottom line, they’re less valuable than staff. During the great recession, the firm I was working for let go unproductive partners first.

          I still have good friends who work in the DC legal market, and experienced paralegals are going for anywhere from $75-115K plus OT in the current market. If you have a specialty like IP or substantial trial experience, maybe more. There are a lot of people who do two years as a paralegal and then go to law school, so there is a dearth of qualified candidates in the 2+ years of experience range.

    10. Blarg*

      I don’t work in law, but Alison’s response surprised me. It seemed pretty clear that a) the office manager had this authority, b) was not going to take ‘no’ for an answer, c) the partner didn’t think they could do anything about it til maybe after OP left, and then still maybe, and d) OP under no circumstances wanted to work for bully-partner. So you’ve got office manager bullying (which is what ‘can we talk about this’ = ‘ok, i accept your resignation’ is) OP to work for a partner who is a known bully, and the other partners and the firm have done nothing about.

      The writing was on that wall, sadly. And OP was right to get out with their sanity and ego intact. Job searching after being scarred by a bully is harder than doing it before you’ve had your sense of self and confidence destroyed.

      1. pancakes*

        The office manager doesn’t have the authority to make up nonsense about hearing a resignation when in fact no one resigned.

        1. The OTHER Other*

          …yet she did, and hasn’t seem to suffer any consequences for it. She even claimed the whole reassignment was at the partners direction, which the partners OP spoke to denied.

          1. Jora Malli*

            This. The part of this that’s most worrying to me is that it doesn’t sound like the office manager received any consequences for this. If OP is seeing that this office manager or railroading people and nobody’s trying to keep her from doing it, leaving seems like it was a really good choice.

          2. pancakes*

            You don’t think it’s premature to say that there have been no consequences? She said it to the letter writer, and the letter writer quit fairly shortly thereafter. The letter writer quit without hearing what the other partner who promised to straighten things out had to say about it.

            1. The OTHER Other.*

              Yes it might be premature, since OP quit pretty suddenly. But they worked for 2 additional weeks and didn’t mention any consequences to the office manager in the letter. I also think chances are pretty good that a reason for the quick departure was due to OP’s history with the players involved. Manager was on the warpath against the OP and the partners OP worked with/for did not seem to know what was going on.

    11. Crimson*

      At least in my husbands firm and my company, senior attorney is below partner. OP had been supporting a partner, and then quit because she was going to be moved to the senior for some of her work.

      If I was that partner and I liked OP, I would be pissed. It is really time consuming to find and train good support staff. If someone below me on the ladder was generally a jerk and drove my paralegal off, I’d have something to say about it.

      That being said, if I told a direct report I was going to fix something for them, and they resigned the next day, I would be confused and annoyed. I would also talk most of my employees off that ledge. It’s frankly a kind of strange, reactive move to quit. It made me wonder if judgement in general was an issue so the partner let it go? On the other hand, working for a law firm can be ridiculously difficult and exhausting so maybe this was more of a final straw.

  4. CurrentlyBill*

    If you’re feeling pugnacious, you can go with, “Because I’m not an asshole.”

    Another option is to respond, “You don’t know what I have or how contagious it is.” You’re not saying you have something. You’re just introducing some doubt in their minds. Plus, given the incubation period, any of us may have COVID at anytime and not know it for several days.

        1. Artemesia*

          yup. At this stage of the epidemic choosing not to wear one in crowded indoor spaces is a statement that you don’t care about anyone else. That is an asshole.

        2. anonymous73*

          Sure, but the statement implies that I’m an asshole simply because I’m not wearing a mask. And that’s some self righteous bullshit right there. You do you and I won’t ask. But don’t judge me because I make different choices.

          1. pancakes*

            It wouldn’t be my choice for a reply, but if you’re simply making different choices and not asking random strangers to explain theirs, you’re unlikely to hear a line like that, no? The context for the statement is needless confrontation. Avoiding that remains a good option.

          2. Colette*

            Your “choices” increase the risk for everyone around you. So yes, if you don’t wear a mask in an indoor space, you are an asshole.

            1. Keller*

              Removed. That’s not a debate that makes sense to have here; I’m going to close this thread. – Alison

              1. socks*

                Why not? We require people to cover other body parts for significantly more arbitrary reasons. I’ve never seen anyone get angry over “No shirt, no shoes, no service” even though shirtlessness harms no one and bare feet are only risky for the person not wearing shoes.

          3. Broadway Duchess*

            That’s not how it works, though; you dont get it both ways. People get do decide for themselves — correct. Your decision doesn’t make you exempt from an asshole judgment. People not wearing masks are a big reason the US never really got this thing under control.

    1. many bells down*

      Last summer, when our cases were really low, I went to a small outdoor wedding and I was the only one masked. When people asked, I twitched the mask aside to reveal the MASSIVE cold sore I’d come down with just before.

    2. Prefer my pets*

      The last time someone told me I shouldn’t be wearing a mask anymore (at a feed store which frustratingly has stopped offering curbside & the critters still need to eat), I responded with a fairly angry “My tumors don’t give a f—- about your fee-fees or your failing science class”. Not the kindest, but it did shut him up and my last nerve is gone since this county STILL has hospitals at absolute capacity.

      1. Karia*

        Yes. People have just decided this thing is over because they are fed up with it, which is not how disease works. The hospitals are still full, people are still getting sick, and seeing the effects of long Covid has cemented my hand washing and mask wearing.

        1. MK*

          I can understand being fed up with it, I can’t understand objecting (or even commenting) about something that in no way impacts you and your decision to live your life as if the pandemic was over. The only way people wearing masks affects others is that it reminds them the virus is still here; it’s beyond unreasonable to object to people taking a medical precaution because it makes you feel bad!

          1. Karia*

            Agreed. But then even at the height of this, some people chose to be unreasonable. Not a lot to be done about it, it seems.

    3. Things that make you go hmmm*

      If the person who asked you is a bit of a conspiracy theorist that you don’t have to interact with on a regular basis, you can lower your voice and say something like: “Because the government said that masks are no longer needed. They want us to believe we’re safe without them. You don’t believe everything the government says, do you?”

      1. pancakes*

        Who is the audience for that, exactly? Besides the conspiracy theorist, who isn’t likely to take it as a wry joke about conspiracy theories?

    4. Caroline Bowman*

      A much better response – and this can be applied to over-stepping busybodies in many scenarios – is ”I beg your pardon?”. If they persist ”why do you want to know / mind?” but in a friendly, genuine way.

      Still do not provide an answer.

    5. Vicky*

      Another great reply I to “You don’t have to wear a mask” heard before was “I don’t have to wear pants either but it’s better for everyone if I do”.

    6. triss merigold*

      For me personally, my strongest reason is that I don’t want long covid. I already have one post infection syndrome. I think that people really really don’t understand how miserable it is for your body to never quite fully recover from something, and covid can really tear you up. I go on Twitter and everyone knows about Long covid. I go on Facebook, and it seems like no one’s heard of it. So if someone asks me why I’m wearing a mask, I make sure they know that dying isn’t the only possible bad outcome.

      1. triss merigold*

        And I’ll add to this that you really don’t have to be high risk for this virus to kill you or disable you. I call myself high risk ’cause it’s convenient but I’m not actually sure that’s true. There are extremely healthy young folks with absolutely no risk factors who are dying and having permanent organ damage and developing something that looks like ME/CFS. No one really knows what the virus will do to them individually or long term. So I guess a script could be, “The virus doesn’t care about politics, and I don’t want a dangerous vascular disease to (further) disable my body or anyone else’s.”

      2. aubrey*

        Same. Long covid scares the crap out of me and I don’t understand how other people can just disregard it.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I think it’s a bit odd that we have to jump to “I have to protect a vulnerable old person with an organ transplant and cancer” (or a tiny premature newborn, or whatever). I am a young healthy vaccinated person and I understand I’m at low risk, but wearing a mask indoors doesn’t bother me very much and I’m perfectly willing to do so to reduce the spread of a disease that has been proven to harm many people. When people bug me about it or say it’s not required, I just say “I prefer to wear one.”

      3. Ally McBeal*

        This is my reason too. My brother got Covid twice because of his employer’s carelessness, and now he has a chronic heart condition. And it feels like a conspiracy theory right now, but people with disabilities have been raising the alarm since the pandemic started about insurers potentially declining to insure people with long covid or chronic issues arising from covid (this pandemic IS a mass-disabling event and most legislators don’t seem to care very much about getting hospital and insurance costs in line).

      4. Elder Millennial*

        I have a mild form of long covid and it absolutely SUCKS. I can’t even imagine what life would be like with a moderate or severe form.

        I’m kind of holding out hope that I will be able to do some form of exercise in the future again. My mental health really needs it. :-(

      5. Baby Yoda*

        One of my favorite bloggers on FB has been fighting long-covid for 17 months now. It’s pretty much disabled her, it’s awful.

    1. Siege*

      Yep. I realize it’s not within the scope of the suggestion, and I do think Alison’s suggested language is great because it might force someone to think, but I’m drowning and I don’t care to add arguing with an idiot to my to-do. If someone I knew asked me, I would explain my cardiac risk and the fact the pandemic osnt over, but random person at the grocery store gets “it stops the Deep State facial recognition programs.”

      1. Firebird*

        Now there are ear-based recognition systems. Apparently it’s more accurate than facial recognition systems because we are more likely to see people at an angle and ears are less likely to change with age.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          …good thing my weirdly-shaped inner ears make earbuds (especially wireless ones) pretty impossible to wear then I guess ^^’. Good luck identifying me by ear when I’m wearing headphones.

          1. Zelda*

            And I’ve been double masking– cloth over surgical– and the two straps/loops pull my ears into weird shapes sometimes. (A tad uncomfortable, but I have priorities, dammit.) I expect that would mess with the system too.

        2. The Rafters*

          Good luck with the ear recognition. I had cancer and my hair is at the Don King stage. I’m still covering my head. In my case though, I had several supporters of someone comment to me at a funeral in an attempt to dig at me or pretend they don’t recognize me. They’ve done it before on other topics, always at funerals or other family gatherings. It doesn’t affect them in any way, so that’s really the only reason for it. I just walk away.

        3. Richard Hershberger*

          I routinely wear a hat with a full brim. While not perfect, I suspect it does a pretty good job of blocking this from cameras that are a bit elevated.

        4. quill*

          Huh, weird, I’d heard your ears grow as you age.

          Also, I can think of several confounding factors for ear recognition: jewelery, wearing your hair down… large headphones…

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            There are, within the baseball history crowd, people who try to identify ball players in old photos. This is harder than one might think. The technique is to compare the photo with one whose identity is confirmed. The comparison often comes down to measurements of facial features. Ears also play prominently. I don’t know the science behind this, but the ears seem to be considered reliable, and often more precise than facial features.

            1. quill*

              Maybe it’s one of those things like fingernails after death: as surrounding skin shrinks they LOOK bigger.

              1. HQB*

                Ears, like noses, continue to grow throughout one’s life. But the key morphological features of ears (like the specific patterns of folds, the angle from the head, etc.) stay pretty constant.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah I am really not trying to get into a debate with a stranger. I think a pithy comment is just fine.

      3. quill*

        If I was feeling sarcastic I might quote the princess bride. “They’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”

    2. GhostGirl*

      Along those same lines, I like: “Because I don’t do whatever the government tells me to do, I do my own research.” Leaves them scratching their heads because that’s THEIR line.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t think it is excellent, overall, to give people like this the impression that they’re correct to frame public health decisions as a matter of big bad government vs. rugged individual, or to broadly agree with them that self-teaching is the only real way anyone learns anything.

          1. ecnaseener*

            You’re entitled to that opinion, but I’m not interested in convincing people to trust the government, I want them to trust science. The CDC simply has not handled this pandemic well, so if I can find common ground with someone of “I don’t trust the govt to interpret the science for me,” I see that as an excellent opportunity to nudge them towards the science.

            1. pancakes*

              I’m not sure where exactly you’re getting the idea that my aim in not responding that way would be to try to get people to trust the CDC? I am not following that. Generally speaking, I don’t see someone making a display of their ignorance to this degree as a good opportunity for nudging. Someone who is pestering people about wearing masks three years into the pandemic is likely a lost cause, I think. I suppose it’s possible that people returning to the office are just now having the chance to have these discussions, though.

              1. ecnaseener*

                If that’s not what you meant, I’m at a loss as to what you did mean. Are we reading the same comment? “I don’t just trust what the govt tells me, I do my own research” – you don’t like this suggestion, but not because of the not-blindly-trusting-the-govt part? So is it the “my own research” part you don’t like? I interpreted that as seeking out reputable science online to make informed decisions rather than just following mandates if they’re in place and stopping once they’re lifted.

                1. pancakes*

                  Yes, I think most of the people who’ve glommed on to “doing my own research” as a line are not referring to diligently seeking out reputable sources — they’re either reading the same infotainment sites or watching the same infotainment videos they generally enjoy, or are sarcastically mocking the people doing that. And broadly speaking, I don’t think many people are indeed still doing research on trying to understand the basics about wearing a mask.

                2. Happy*

                  In this context, “do my own research” means listen to people who are not experts, rather than people who are.

              2. Never Boring*

                Yep, when my office announced a) required hybrid after nearly 2 years of 100% remote for most people in my position, and b) no mask requirement while doing so, that was when I marched to my doc and had him sign the ADA accommodation request form. I have a quite well-documented risk factor (plus a couple of less well-documented ones), and luckily my employer realized that it was going to be a losing argument if they denied my request (and that I would likely just go out and get any one of the zillions of available 100% remote jobs in my field, and they would have a bitch of a time replacing me because my particular skillset is in high demand and I have recruiters contacting me all the time). I really do miss seeing other adults in person during the workday, but we aren’t there yet. And if anyone thinks I am neurotic, I’d rather be neurotic than end up in the hospital or with long COVID.

          2. Siege*

            Anybody who comes up to me when I’m minding my own business and demands to know why I’m wearing a mask (or shoes, or a bra, or this band-air on my finger) isn’t someone who is at home to science and reason anyway, so why should I spend my time beating my head against their brick wall? I would LOVE to treat people like reasonable adults, but the majority of this country has decided to prove that they aren’t, and all because they’re bored. Me too, but I don’t want to die.

            1. whingedrinking*

              My snappy comment that I’m quite proud of, in response to, “Don’t you know you don’t have to wear a mask any more?” was, “I did know that. Did you know you don’t have to wear underwear? Seriously! It turns out it’s not a law or anything!”
              My goal wasn’t to prove anything, it was just to be so weird and random that the person would hopefully give up and go away. And they did.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I sometimes use “I guess my doctor gave me different advice than yours did,” because I know perfectly well that people who try to start anti-masking arguments won’t have actually asked their doctor’s advice. It tends to make them squirmy, and they usually shut up.

      2. Crimson*

        My take on this is I say something about how I really love and respect my elders. ”Respect your elders” is such a core piece of the republican narrative a lot of people in my community (claim to) embrace. It’s fun watching their faces as they process. I’m not in a place where most people are so far gone that they don’t believe covid is real though.

    3. Left Turn at Albuquerque*

      Or, depending on when you are, ask them if they’re carrying a gun. If the answer’s yes: “You protect yourself your way, I protect myself my way.”

      1. pancakes*

        Some of these ideas are wild to me. As a New Yorker, one of my top tips for avoiding messy conflict with strangers is to not get drawn into conversation with them. A quick “no thank you,” even if you know perfectly well they weren’t politely offering you anything — even if they are instead asking you for something — can be very helpful. If you do find yourself nonetheless drawn into unwanted conversation, I would avoid trying to turn it into an earnest occasion to exchange statements of personal belief, and I would definitely avoid asking if they’re armed.

          1. pancakes*

            To me that is not an occasion that calls for departing from my general rule to minimize conflict with (and even contact with) busybodies and idiots.

      1. Squishy*

        As someone who started their career as an executive assistant, I take deep pleasure in the democratization of calendar wrangling. It’s never been easy and I’m glad more people have to deal with it.

        1. FionasHuman*

          OP: I’m not saying that admins should have to manage others’ calendars, but rather, to each their own calendar management. Though someone’s admin did cancel an interview with me when I didn’t respond to their invite — over the weekend, while I was on vacation, no less. I’d already put the appointment in my own calendar and confirmed it with the subject by email.

    4. StellaBella*

      Love this reply on facial ID hindering but how true is it? Would be fascinated to lnow more.

      Also a good reply is “because I really want to avoid covid still for me and my vulnerable familybers and friends.”

      I am still masking in an office of 100 folks and maybe 3 of us do. I have been asked by a new person and told her the above, all was cool.

      1. pancakes*

        How true is it that masking hinders facial ID technology, or that you would consider it worthwhile to mask up to deter facial ID tech? If you want to use it as an excuse with coworkers, I’d think you’d be needlessly opening yourself up to questions about why that’s a big priority for you, and maybe questions about hypocrisy too if you don’t otherwise seem to be very focused on privacy. It seems much easier and more straightforward to me to say something along the lines of, “because I want to” or “because this is how I’m comfortable.”

    5. The Dread Pirate Roberts*

      In my line of work, I’ve found that the people who are… let’s say, more likely to be open minded to different ways of doing things, are less likely to ask me why I’m still wearing a mask. Which leaves the people who do ask me why I’m still wearing a mask. My personal favorite response is: “Because I haven’t brushed my teeth in two years and I’m not about to start now.” It’s obviously wacky, which generally disarms anyone who’s got an axe to grind, and anyone with a lick of social grace will realize that it’s a humorous way of saying “mind your own business.”

  5. Maggie*

    Re: the calendars. I just find it exponentially more convenient to use a tool like outlook scheduling assistant to book meetings rather than endless back and forth about availability. It’s so funny, like when someone sends me a link to book through calendly or another app and then that adds an event to my calendar I am like “sweet now this is added with no addition effort on my part! Perfect!” I can’t imagine emailing to chatting back and forth about availability to schedule every meeting. My whole day would be discussing meeting times with people and waiting for their responses.

    1. iliketoknit*

      Yes! My office doesn’t use that kind of calendar link and scheduling meetings is the bane of my existence. For some reason it massively triggers the inner voice telling me “you’re bugging people,” which is my personal kryptonite. Ironically we have Outlook and can usually (but not always) check to see if someone is available at a given time, in that they don’t have anything else actually scheduled. But there’s no real expectation that if there isn’t something scheduled for a given time, I could just schedule it then, and
      we don’t have a culture of just sending a link if asked for a meeting; the culture is still very much emailing/calling to find out if a given time works and only then sending an invite (especially because we interact with a lot of people not in our outlook system). I would be thrilled to use a link to an online calendar rather than dealing with the back and forth of manually scheduling.

    2. Cece*

      Absolutely this. The tool helped! Yay! If I need my own notes, I can schedule a parallel meeting just for me to see, and use that as my notepad.

      Two things to add:
      – another problem with emailing a group of people back and forth is that folks are burned out and pressed for time, and don’t read emails carefully (leading to more emails to correct a mistyping or misunderstanding)
      – one person scheduling a meeting for everyone means the Zoom or Teams link gets distributed at the same time. I don’t think I’ve had more than two in-person meetings since Before, this is just how we work now in my industry

      1. Aziraphale the Cat*

        +1 I add a “prep before meeting” invite (just for myself and showing as free time) right before the meeting start time to keep my own pre + post meeting notes handy. I also color-code my meetings so I can tell the difference between my meeting prep, general task reminders, and actual meetings.

      2. Fae Kamen*

        I do this too (create a “dummy” event mirroring the invitation I got) but I do find it annoying that I have to. I wish there was a section to add my own notes to an invitation that else someone sent me.

    3. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

      I really wish more people would use Scheduling Assistant. It is clear when they don’t bother to use it and then I have to propose a new time, go back and forth, etc. It’s lazy not to use it. It also makes the person who receives an invite for a time they are clearly not available feel like the person scheduling the meeting disregarded their availability. It also feels like it’s a way of saying ‘what I want you to do is more important than what you already have scheduled’ – kind of disrespectful. Just take the time to use Scheduling Assistant to find a time when all who are needed at the meeting are available. It’s not that difficult.

      1. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

        And a great way to avoid someone scheduling something at a time when you might appear to be available when you really aren’t is simply to block out that time in your calendar. Scheduling Assistant doesn’t show other people details of your calendar if you set your settings not to.

      2. Gumby*

        This! I work with someone who never uses scheduling assistant as far as I can tell. Picks a time that works for him and waits to see if anyone objects. If they do, the time gets changed. Sometimes a meeting goes through 3 or more time slots before settling on one that works for everyone.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        One of the many things that I love about my boss is that scheduling assistant is one of her Hills to Die On. Everyone in her team must keep their calendar up to date (fine if you want to block busy time to focus in on a project or something), and there is no back-and-forth on scheduling things. Look and see when everyone’s free and book it. If it doesn’t work, use Decline & Propose a New Time.

    4. LDN Layabout*

      Exactly. I can’t help but think there’s some snobbery/hierarchy nonsense going on in someone’s head when they object to being sent someone’s availability.

      They’re literally handing over the power of making the meeting at your best time that will also work for them, that’s a sign of respect. Do they need to come, cap in hand and grovel to you to get some of your time for a meeting?

      1. Mockingjay*

        Meeting planning and acceptance are exhausting. I have to check 4 or 5 calendars in order to respond. I have the company Outlook calendar, the SharePoint project calendar, the SharePoint overall program calendar, and 3 – yes 3- Teams calendars for the company, a company Teams site and one each for the two government agencies our contract supports.

        It didn’t start out that way. Tools kept getting added as the program grew and no one wants to decide which one should be used, because the Powers that Be all have their personal favorite. As a result, I’ve miss meetings that I need to be in due to outdated Teams links or dial-in numbers. Or the same meeting is listed at two different times. I tried Scheduling Assistant, but I have to use it on every system and not everyone uses the same calendar.

        The real issue, for myself and OP4, is the lack of business rules for organizing, responding, and updating meeting invites (and for me, above all a unified central calendar).

        1. LDN Layabout*

          All of the internal 365 tools should be integrated at least, which would save you a lot of hassle, whoever set that up initially is at fault.

          But that still doesn’t mean that these tools are bad, just because your organisation has failed to implement them correctly.

          1. Anon all day*

            You’ve moved the goal posts. You first said that people who don’t like doing calendar invites for others have some sort of snobbery in then. Then, when someone replied that, no, I don’t like doing it because our system isn’t set up in an efficient way to do so, you started talking about how “well, you should like it, the system is just set up wrong.”

            1. bamcheeks*

              But these are two different things. If people say, “I hate people sending me their availability to schedule a meeting” and mean, “I hate having to check six different schedules, four different programmes and integrate two different platforms in order to book meetings”, you are talking about two different things.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        My objection to being sent someone’s availability rather than just looking at my calendar and scheduling is that it puts the onus on me to do that rather than using the centralized technology provided to the whole organization to eliminate the need to spend time on it. I put in the effort to keep my calendar up to date to make scheduling easier for everyone, our organization’s settings mean that they can see blue bars for unavailable time and purple bars for out of office time, but no the details.

        Spending 10-15 minutes on scheduling one meeting isn’t a big deal. Spending 10-15 minutes scheduling a weeks’ worth of meetings on top of the other things I’m expected to do makes me want to cry. Using Scheduling Assistant in Outlook (or some similar tool in another platform) takes 1-2 minutes. We have some people who still refuse to becomes part of the calendar culture of the orgnaization, and they make scheduling a pain in the ass. It’s great that THEY’RE free Tuesday at 10, but they’re the only one. Rinse, lather, repeat.

    5. SelinaKyle*

      This is exactly how I work and how all the private and public organisations I work for have worked.

    6. 'nother prof*

      It’s great that Outlook scheduling assistant is working for you (and Google calendar invitations for others), but it’s worth keeping in mind that this is only convenient for people who already use some sort of digital calendar and are fine with having it visible to others all the time. I use Calendly for one time of meeting, but otherwise rely on a paper calendar/scheduler. That’s what works for me, but as a result, I have noticed a few major problems with the email scheduling functions that aren’t noticeable for those who use an electronic calendar.

      Those email invitations are difficult to read through (because Google and Outlook put weird banners and other information in them instead of just sending a normal, text email), they waste my time trying to add distracting pop-up message junk to my computer, and I only get sent them *after* people have set the meeting time and date with me through email anyway! To top it all off, after people send me these spam calendar links, I will occasionally get a follow-up email asking if the meeting we had already scheduled by email is off (because I didn’t click “accept” on the calendar thingie that I don’t want and didn’t ask for). And for the record: e-calendars have not been a universal standard at any of my workplaces (possibly because they can also not be great for people with, for example, ADHD).

      Maybe a bit too much detail here as I really am glad if folks are finding something that works for you. Just maybe keep in mind that convenient for you isn’t the same as convenient for everyone?

      1. Smithy*

        I do wonder if the more massive disconnect with OP4 and this opinion is for those who have come of working age in places where digital calendars are not only common, but an institutional norm, and those where it isn’t.

        Certainly not to say this is every work place, but for a majority of larger employers across all sectors, this is such a common norm – that it has veered into the territory of accepted assumption in the workplace. For the last 15 years, different employers and different individual coworkers have variations on digital calendars – but they’ve all had them and been no different than being used to using email.

        While it’s clear that your own workplace hasn’t made this transition necessary, for digital invitations – I do wonder if you may find it helpful to include as part of your email signature that you prefer scheduling meetings via email? Workplaces where this is not standard and meeting invites end up in spam is less and less common, and this might be an easier way to flag your preference in advance. It could be a line in italics at the bottom of the standard workplace e-signature template that says you prefer to confirm meeting times via email and not calendar invite.

        1. 'nother prof*

          I don’t think it’s worth adding a line to my signature. It’s really not the norm for the majority of people with whom I interact – just an occasional person here or there.

      2. Oakenfield*

        You make great points about the privacy of your other appointments. There isn’t a clear cut way that I’ve seen with scheduling assistant or calendly to code appts for publicity or make only free time show up. Perhaps I just don’t understand the apps though.

        And I totally want to derail on your comment about e-calendars not being great for people with ADHD… I was recently diagnosed and had a hell of a time transitioning to the e-calendar…. hmmmm…

        1. sb51*

          Whereas for me, the e-calendar is great for my adhd because I will absolutely forget to update my calendar, but if you put a meeting on it and outlook goes bing-bong you have a meeting in 15 minutes, I’ll be there.

      3. A*

        In re: to concerns about privacy, unless your employer has locked in default settings you have the ability to set those parameters. On my calendar I have it set so that anyone in my organization or that I share it with can see my availability, but without details. So if they check my calendar it will only show blocks as busy/free/working from another location, etc. They aren’t able to see the meeting descriptions/invitees/agendas etc. It will also look the same on their end if it’s a meeting versus if I have the time blocked off as busy for my own purposes.

        You can also set different privacy settings for different individuals if you want to grant additional access to certain folks. I had to watch a quick YT video to walk through it the first time but it’s been helpful.

      4. Lynn Whitehat*

        What have you been doing about Zoom meetings since Covid started? Do you write down the URLs in your paper calendar and then type them in, or how do you manage it?

        1. 'nother prof*

          People copy and paste Zoom links into email – just like they are copied and pasted into emailed calendar invitations – or post them on events’ websites. I access the meetings that I set up through Zoom’s website. I doubt anyone would bother writing down a Zoom link; there’s no point.

          So, I might look at my calendar of a morning to see what’s coming up, which lets me know that I need to be in Building XYZ for a meeting at eleven and then somewhere professional-looking with a computer and internet access by 3:00pm for a Zoom meeting.

      5. Meridian*

        I mean your calendar is your calendar, but isn’t it a bit cumbersome to use a hybrid of paper and digital? Privacy settings can obscure details around appointments pretty easily.

        Since you mentioned it, do you mind if I ask if you have ADHD? Because I do and IMO e-calendars are probably the only ADHD – friendly aspect of the white collar world. I find the outlook platform easy to use and it even has an alarm that tells me when I’m about to be late.

        1. 'nother prof*

          That’s kind of my point – the digital calendars are waaaaay more cumbersome for me (and other folks I know), and often when I run into people who *do* use them, they have a blindspot where they just assume that what works for them works for everyone.

          I don’t do all of my work on – or even near – a computer. To have to not only tote one everywhere but also have it on and logged into some account (and let’s be real – you aren’t just logged into a calendar, you’re also looking at your email at the very least)… it would be physically painful (what with carrying the extra equipment), impractical (due to not always having your laptop on, open, and logged in in front of you), and distracting. (I manage email by checking it about twice per day. I don’t even have it open half the time when I *am* working on my laptop. Plus, if I’m doing something that requires intensive thought, having a pop-up derail that thought when I still have time left before my meeting would be, I don’t even know – enraging? How dare some computer tell me what to do, right? :) )

      6. Lena*

        Very surprised that e-calendar isn’t a universal standard at your workplace. It has been at every workplace I’ve worked at over the last 10 years.

        1. 'nother prof*

          I’ve worked at four different places in the past decade (which is normal in my profession), and while I can’t say exactly how many people use e-calendars for themselves, only a minority use their scheduling functions.

    7. Sloanicota*

      Agree! It also lets me choose a time that is preferred for me – even though I might be available at other times if necessary – (I work limited core hours) without feeling like I’m bugging them for more options. I realize there’s an extra step of clicking but there is a payoff of convenience.

      Now, a doodle poll I often find annoying. People put waaay too many options and they take a long time to fill out, and those spots are only ‘free’ at that exact moment – I’m not holding 32 calendar spaces for the next month.

      1. SeluciaMD*

        Seconding this. Doodle polls make me NUTS. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20ish hours of meetings in an average week. I’m not holding calendar space for a bunch of “options” because if I did that for every meeting I needed to schedule, my weekly calendar would look……well, I don’t want to think about how it would look. It would be bad. Very, very bad.

        I love my Google calendar and cannot function without it. I have a personal one that is integrated into my professional one (so I’m always clear on at least my own availability LOL) and it does make it so much easier to schedule meetings with my colleagues without a lot of hassle or fuss. And now that we use Google Meet or Zoom for most of our meetings, having one person issue the calendar invite with the meeting link creates way less room for error.

        I feel LW#4’s frustration but I’m mainly just grateful the technology exists and more people are using it.

    8. Dainty Lady*

      I would like the calendar apps more if one of my direct reports would not send the note “I invite you to peruse my availability at this link” every time I tell them I need to talk to them. Chuckle.

    9. Josh S*

      100% agree.
      A decent part of my job is trying to schedule time with clients for meetings. Which inevitably leads to a back-and-forth via email like:
      “Hey, would you like to talk about chocolate teapot design?”
      “sure! Sounds great.”
      “when are you and your team free? I can’t see your calendars…”
      “we’re really busy this week. How about next week?”
      “Sure. Any specific days/times? I’m free Monday A-B, Tuesday C-D, or Thurs if you want to squeeze it in at the end of the day.”
      “oh what time zone?”
      “Central Time”
      “Can we do Tuesday E-F instead?”

      And 10 emails later we might have something booked on the calendar.

      If they share a Calendly link, or if the new “calendar availability” plug in our IT team just gave us works, it saves all that back-and-forth. Either I see their availability and pick a time/send a meeting invite, or they click the link in my email for the slot they want and the meeting creates itself.

      Way more efficient. And let’s us focus on getting crap done instead of administrivia.

      1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

        And this is where the current aversion to phone calls bites us. One five minute phone conversation gets this done.

        1. BigHairNoHeart*

          I don’t know about you, but in my office, calling anyone would result in a game of phone tag where I had to either call someone 3 separate times in the hope that they finally pick up, or us leaving voice messages for each other that sound very similar to the example Josh gave above.

          I wish there was one scheduling solution that works for everyone in every office, but there just isn’t.

        2. Smithy*

          This sometimes works when its just for one person – but not when it’s multiple people and multiple calendars. Let alone multiple people in multiple time zones. I think that for people working in situations where the majority of their meetings are just 1 on 1’s, it feels like this could easily be simpler and more personal. But for many of us, our meetings are just more complex and even if it’s only four people – if all four of them are in different time zones, they’re vaguely busy and you’re trying to vaguely accommodate standard working hours…..

          Additionally, I’ve found that those kinds of verbal confirmations of meetings are exactly when you catch someone only looking at one calendar and then they’ve forgotten they have a doctor’s appointment but hadn’t added it to their work calendar yet or something like that.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            This. I will call a VIP’s assistant for scheduling help, but everyone else can use their Outlook calendar and Scheduling Assistant as management intended.

            It’s rarely one phone call – it’s one phone call to the VIP, trying to schedule around their limited availability, and Sally can do one time but Jim can only do another, and we’re interfering with Bob’s weekly Guacamole Audit and not only get a completely different availability but also a lot sighing and commentary with it.

            Why would do that when I could spend that five minutes in Scheduling Assistant and get it booked, send out location/dial-in info, and attach the meeting agenda and any handouts to the invite?

        3. jamie*

          Phoning people every time I want to invite them to a meeting is a terrible waste of my time. The solution to this problem is a scheduling assistant.

        4. A*

          If you’re in a meeting (or travel) heavy work environment this is much easier said than done. In my role this would result in a never ending game of phone tag across multiple time zones.

      2. Orora*

        My favorite plugin for Gmail allows me to review my calendar and suggest multiple meeting times in an email. I get to set aside a time that works for me (not just a time when I’m not busy) and the other person can choose a time that works for them. Once they choose the time via a button click, an invite is sent to both of us. I also include a note that if none of the times works for them, they can email me their availability for another time.

        I really like it. Emailing back and forth to set up a meeting is one of my least favorite things to do.

    10. The OTHER Other*

      Calendly has been a game-changer for my business. It has increased the number of client meeting scheduled, while dramatically reducing the back-and-forth emails and calls. It’s also cut the number of no-shows, and I notice that people show up more focused on the business at hand. Worth every penny, and I get pitches for a LOT of junk.

      I’m a bit perplexed at the letters and comments expressing dislike, I don’t want to irritate customers but honestly how is a customer better served with a series of emails and/or calls back and forth trying to find a mutually agreeable time? And I can’t count the number of times I’ve said “I can meet anytime tomorrow except 10-11” only to have the customer reply “how about 10:30?”.

    11. FionasHuman*

      Thanks for this perspective. I get that the email back and forth can be tiring. But when scheduling interviews with 10 or more subjects I’m already emailing them — dealing with calendars just adds at least one additional step per subject for me, not to mention any mess in my main calendar when I write in the appointment and then the bloody calendar invite comes along, forcing me to further edit my own calendar. For me, it’s maddening.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        “any mess in my main calendar when I write in the appointment and then the bloody calendar invite comes along, forcing me to further edit my own calendar. For me, it’s maddening.”

        Sorry, I’m confused how the invite messes up your main calendar or why you would need to edit your main calendar. If you’re receiving the invite and don’t want it, is declining it (and not sending a response) an option? Or could you let the appointments sit side-by-side?

    12. NPOQueen*

      I might be a holdout, but that’s because my whole job is scheduling meetings. Things like Calendly are fine for one-offs, say with a new vendor or something. But Calendly can’t do nuance. If I’m sending around an email asking for times, it’s because the meeting a) is important enough that I think it should supercede other meetings, but I don’t know what other meetings you have so I could be wrong; b) is urgent enough that I need you to move something on your Outlook calendar and we have to discuss what can be moved; or c) it involves five executives who have no free time, and we need to make free time. I’d be curious to see what other executive assistants think. Those calendar apps have their place, and I use them for my own personal meetings with friends (or Doodle polls), but for my work, I’m often asking another executive assistant to make time when there is no time, and that takes a bit of back and forth.

    13. Hats Are Great*

      I recently got a very in-demand certification and have had recruiters hitting me up NON-STOP and so many of them contact ME out of the blue and go “please click a spot on my calendar to schedule a preliminary call.” I am not actually interested enough in a recruiter I don’t know or a company I’ve never heard of to go through the trouble of setting it up with them. The well-known companies and the serious recruiters all asked me what would work for ME, and they worked around my schedule. Like, the onus is on you, recruiter guy contacting me out of the blue.

      I find it maddening and disrespectful of my time and energy.

      I don’t really mind it within the office, or if I reach out to someone else. But recruiters doing this drove me batty.

      1. Saraaaaah*

        Like… why? You go to their calendar, you get a ton of times and you can click the one that’s most convienent to you. Bam. Done.

        You’d prefer to send them like three times and then wait to hear back from them what works for them? How is that easier?

    14. Perfectly Cromulent Name*

      I literally do not get the calendly hate! I get 75-100+ emails a day, and I do a lot of consultations. Pre scheduling links, it was hard to keep track of the back and forth, and sometimes someone would dither about this time or that time, and in the meantime that time would fill up and we’d be back at square one. Scheduling links=I send you the link, you look at the times I have available, pick one that also works for you, and it goes on both of our calendars. Done! Plus you can reschedule or cancel if needed without a lot of back and forth. I am not even a fancy young person- I’m probably in the category of a cranky old! I don’t understand, and I’d really like to, because I don’t want to alienate people, but I’m also not going back to spending hours of back and forth and digging through emails either, so…

  6. Moonlight*

    OP4 maybe it’s because I work as a psychotherapist but I find the latest convention of sharing calendar links bizarre as heck. I am quite careful about not putting names or anything in my calendar (eg “client, 10 am, location (office or virtual)” vs “Sansa stark, 10 am, location”). No one else uses my phone, email, lap top etc, but if I’m ever using my device to coordinate plans with a friend, I wouldn’t want them to glance at my phone and see names. Any ways, I just find it really strange. It would also make me feel like I would have to block off “personal time” blocks just to make sure people only book into “free time” where I’m willing to have a meeting. But also, I’m so fussy about my schedule, I wouldn’t want someone else being like “oh cool I see Arya has an opening here and so does Tyrion” when maybe this other opening worked better. I much prefer just to be like “I can do Tuesday at 9 or 10 am or 1 pm”. I mean, technically I do something similar for my work BUT it’s using commonly understood convention where I have sessions at 9, 10 and 11 am and 1 and 2 pm – but that’s designated time for specific meetings with clients and they or the receptionists can only book into those times. It’s not people popping into my calendar and scanning for free time without really understanding the nuances of how I spend my time my time (eg in this hypothetical, 12 pm is not free just cause it’s not open to clients).

    I don’t get it. Maybe I don’t understand how this really works. Maybe someone can enlighten me. Do you put designated spots? Is there some colour coding I haven’t been clued into? How do you keep personal or work things private but with enough info you still understand it but without opening the door to people thinking you’re free at 4 pm just cause it’s blank? I don’t know about you, but if I end work at 4 and plan to go to the gym or the grocery store on the way home, it probably isn’t in my calendar unless I’m going to a cycle class or something that starts at a specific time but I also don’t think people need to have that info when trying to book something with me; again, can’t I just tell you a few times? But maybe that’s what other people do?

    1. Jelly bean*

      Admittedly I haven’t received many of these links, but whenever I have, I have only been able to see a list of free slots (e.g. 2-3 pm, 3 to 4 pm) and not the whole detail of the person’s calendar (so I didn’t get to see busy slots or names of appointments). This was in the context of interview scheduling, and I found it pretty convenient that as the candidate I could pick a time which I liked and that would work for my interviewer.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah, me too. In most calendar programs, you can control what people see when you send the link. Mine just shows “busy” or “not busy”.

      2. Moonlight*

        But what are people even using? I have my client/case management software, where clients can book themselves in and stuff but otherwise I don’t use any thing that’s shareable – I don’t think the iCal app on my iPhone does what you’re describing and none of my friends do this so I don’t really have a business or social need that would help make this make more sense

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Agreed with @Miss Bliss, Calendly or similar platforms.

          They work similar to your appointment system, @Moonlight. They just show something like:

          “Moonlight has appointment slots available on Monday (April 25) at 2-3pm and 4-5pm. Please select the time that works for you and you will be sent a calendar invite.”

          Then both the client and you have receive a meeting invite. What you do with it is up to you.

      3. anonforthis*

        Yep. This is how Calendly works – you don’t see any one’s actual Calendar, just the time slots that the person sending the link is available. If you are the invitee, you click on the time slot that works best and that’s it!

        As the meeting organizer, Calendly saves me so much time. It automates the back and forth of asking about availability and sending the invite. That being said, using the link is always optional and I let the person know. I will respond to someone who just wants to directly email their availability, but most people use the link.

        1. J*

          Yup, I even had a script for mine giving them one specific time slot and then my calendly with a note that they could book on there or even just view my calendar and email me a requested time we were both available. I loved how I could limit the number of external meetings a day, add padding around meetings, and have different booking lengths too. It automated the work of a Zoom link too.

    2. Rivikah*

      The application for this I’m most familiar with doesn’t show anyone my calendar (Unless I set it up to allow it to be seen). It just sends invitations that someone can accept. If they’re using the same software as me, that will automatically put an event in their calendar and spawn a return notification to me that they accepted the meeting.

      It’s a work calendar only. Doesn’t contain much of anything from my personal life (unless it’s an appointment during working hours so that I need to prevent people from scheduling things at that time.)

    3. Jelly bean*

      I’ve only ever used this for intra-office meetings, where we could all see each others’ calendars in Outlook but not the details of the appointments. So we would see if a time slot is busy or free, but not what meeting is taking place during a busy slot.

      Wherever I’ve worked, it would have been out of place to not use the calendar scheduling functionality. I found it very convenient to use especially if you’re scheduling meetings with multiple senior people with busy calendars because you can quickly see what time works best, instead of having to go back and forth over email with 10-15 (or sometimes even 50!) people. You can certainly propose a new time if the scheduled time doesn’t work for you for any reason, Outlook makes that easy as well.

      Also I just saw that I replied to you above so hi again!

    4. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      I think something like therapy is fairly predictable, in the sense that you have known blocks of time where you are consistently busy for a consistent amount of time. So managing your own schedule is fairly straightforward.

      The people I’ve worked with that most often ask me to pick a time for them are people like a project manager or product manager– people who have a lot of meetings with lots of different people for different amounts of time and different people every week. As people say, what you usually see is, these are the times Natasha is free, and those are the times Pierre is free and you figure out what works for you in those constraints. I think it makes sense for people who have a ton of meetings every week, without a recurring schedule, to offload some of the work to other people who have maybe a handful of meetings. Otherwise the busiest people, meeting-wise, are also the people who have to spend the most time scheduling meetings.

    5. Observer*

      One of the things I tell people when I show them how to manage their calendar is that they should put EVERY appointment in their calendar, even personal ones, but they should set anything at all sensitive to private. This way all anyone can see is that they are busy / out of office during that time slot, nothing else. But at the same time, people do know when they are going to be available. Even if I’m not sending a calendar invite seeing what time slots are available before trying to set up a meeting saves everyone time. And all anyone really wants is “free” or “not free”, which is exactly what they see.

      For your application for people to choose a slot, you are supposed to set it up to know what slots are available for appointments (vs other times that may not be filled in, but are not “appointment hours”.) The system then only shows slots that have not been filled by other appointment seekers in that range of slots.

      Lastly, calendar invites need to be accepted. So if someone sends you an invite and the time won’t work for you for whatever reason, you can decline or suggest another time.

      1. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

        “And all anyone really wants is ‘free’ or ‘not free’…”

        That is the case with 95% of coworkers. Self-Appointed Hall Monitor at my previous job tried to get me to set my calendar settings so that co-workers could see full details of my calendar. She was really odd. This was on my first day at that job. I asked another coworker on the team (senior to her) about it and he said no, just set permissions as available/unavailable without details.

        1. Observer*

          I should probably have written that “all anyone REASONABLE wants is “free” or “not free”.” Because of course there are nosy parkers and Self Appointed Hall monitors who want all the details. Fortunately, you CAN refuse to accommodate them, assuming you have the standing to refuse their requests or demands.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Your last paragraph is what slays me- because the very thing people are trying to avoid they end up doing anyway. Some how I manage to escape all this, I had one calendar invite and I simply ignored it. But I think that has more to do with the nature of my work and my limited hours.

        I am old, I guess. I do not like this system at all. No one but me can judge how tired I am, what bigger issues I have had that day, how much brain space I have left for their “big issue”. I am not fan of letting go of having say in how my day is laid out. I can start what should be a five minute Thing and have it take up most of my day because of unforeseens. When this happens I cannot just break away, I have to stay with Thing until a conclusion is reached.

        1. Snow Globe*

          With Outlook, the default is that no one can see any details. You have to intentionally change the settings to allow someone else permission to see details – and even then you can set individual appointments to ‘private’.

          And even if people can see you are free and send an invite, you can decline or propose a new time, you don’t have to accept it. I really don’t understand why you think of it as someone else controlling your time? It’s just eliminating a lot of back and forth trying to find a common free time for a call.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yep, this. That’s what we used at Exjob. You could see if someone was available but no details unless they entered something like “Dog grooming appointment” or whatever.

        2. judyjudyjudy*

          Ok, that’s all true — you get to decide what you have time for. But you can still decline the invitation or suggest another time using the scheduling software. Or even email the other person and tell them it doesn’t work, I guess. Ignoring it sort of leaves them in limbo. The invitation isn’t a demand for control over your time, it’s just an invitation, to accept or decline. And using such meeting invitations really becomes the best option for scheduling meetings with multiple people.

          1. Lexi Lynn*

            I generally have 3 to meetings every day. It would be horrible to have to ask permission of every person on every meeting that I scheduled or am invited to.

        3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          “Your last paragraph is what slays me- because the very thing people are trying to avoid they end up doing anyway.”

          I respectfully disagree. In my experience, most of the time the calendar invite system does eliminate the back-and-forth of scheduling a meeting. It’s not perfect, but I know I would take having to do back-and-forth 20% of the time over 100% of the time. And maybe the efficacy is dependent on the culture of the organization.

          “I am not fan of letting go of having say in how my day is laid out.”

          A different perspective: If someone sends you an invite to a party or event, do you feel that you’ve given up control of your calendar?

          If not, then I suggest we all see calendar invites as…invites to an event. Not a demand. Maybe we can look at all calendar invites as having an unspoken, “Hello, I would like to meet with you/have you at this event. Can you make it?” behind them.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          I don’t see how any of this precludes using a digital calendar. You can plan your day and block out personal time so no one schedules you for anything. I have a standing meeting of a personal nature Thusdays from 2-4, so my calendar shows a busy block (not specifics) and people know not to schedule me then. My boss blocks an hour each day for her to not have to meet with people and recharge. Lots of control of my day.

          If you have something come up that precludes meeting attendance, you use Decline and Propose a New Time to organizer and say, “Hey, I’m so sorry, but the Llama Account is having a time-sensitive issue that I’ve got to deal with, so I’m rescheduling for the next available free time on our calendars – let me know if this doesn’t work for you, thanks!”.

          I work in a client-facing industry where high availability is expected, and I have to work around entirely unexpected situations a lot. Sometimes, those emergencies also involve emergency meetings, which are faster to schedule in Outlook. Electronic calendaring give me more bandwidth to deal with this and more control of my schedule, not less.

    6. iliketoknit*

      Being able to see times you’ve designated as available doesn’t mean being able to access your entire calendar. You set some options and send the link and the person responding picks a time, but doesn’t see anything else but those times.

      In my workplace, I can look in outlook to check whether a co-worker has availability before running the gauntlet of emailing/calling to find out if they want to meet then, but I can’t see what they’re doing if they’re busy. If the person I want to meet with isn’t on the same system, I can’t.

      Also it’s all specifically work-related, and my work hours are regular business hours. I could in theory send an invite for a meeting at 8 pm but unless it was something they’d already agreed to for a specific reason my co-workers would laugh in my face and decline the invite.

      It sounds pretty much more like what your clients already do than anything else. I presume if they can book those appointments it’s because there’s a website or link they follow. This is pretty much the same. I think the issue for the LW is that if they call someone to arrange a time they don’t then want to deal with the tech side of it.

    7. Double A*

      You get your working hours so slots outside of them aren’t available. On my calendar, you can set defaults to what people can see, so you could set it so someone could just see “busy” with no details. I have full transparency with my calendar because of my organization, but I change personal stuff to “private” so people can only see the time is busy.

      For the booking application I use (you can book me), all you see are free slots that are available; times that aren’t available are greyed out.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        “I change personal stuff to “private” so people can only see the time is busy.”

        Pesonally, I go a step further in my work calendar: Private appointments are literally titled “Appt” then marked Private. No additional details, just a placeholder that shows coworkers I’m unavailable.

    8. Maggie*

      Typically people only schedule meetings during working hours so I don’t think you would need to block family time. In outlook at least, you can block time without showing people what you’re doing or you can block time and put “appointment” or “busy”. I don’t have anything private on my work calendar so I don’t care if anyone can see it, it’s all work meetings and occasionally blocks for lunch or to work on projects. I’m assuming a lot of people use outlook scheduling since outlook is standard for most businesses I’ve worked out. I would google outlook scheduling assistant to see how it works if you’re curious. It’s very easy and convenient

      1. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

        Unless like me they work in the US with Europe & Asia. I entered my office hours years ago and still get invites for 3am. So every little bit helps.

      2. Coffee Anonymous*

        Yeah, my job’s not that bad, but my colleagues and clients are spread out across the US so evening meetings aren’t necessarily typical, they’re also not uncommon. (I’m on the East Coast.) During crunch times, I try not to schedule anything then — but otherwise, I add exercise class or meeting a friend for dinner to my work calendar as private so no one stomps on it.

    9. Green great dragon*

      Others have answered a lot of this, but also ‘tentative’ (in outlook language) is your friend. Block out times you can’t do (it’s very easy to put a permanent block for every day after 4pm), and put a ‘tentative’ appointment in for times you could do but would rather not. Set to private – either the whole calendar or particular appointments.

      Of course, you are at liberty to say no to an invitation, just as you would be if they hadn’t see your calendar. But if you are responding ‘I can do Tues at 9, 10 or 12’ and Arya’s responding with a preference for after 2pm and Tyrion is offering Wednesday only, then you’re back to endless emails as everyone gradually works through their favourite times, slightly less favoured times, ‘I suppose you can if you must’ times etc.

      Your approach may work fine for you! Presumably it does! Hopefully no-one is sending you 6 emails trying to find a mutually free meeting time! But it wouldn’t work for me – offering only three one-hour time slots for a meeting would be seen as extremely unhelpful, and I’m certainly not going to be typing out every slot I’m willing to have a meeting in over the next fortnight.

    10. Allonge*

      As far as I understand, the way this works is not sharing your entire calendar. There are online tools that can connect to your calendar and translate the available / not information into something that others then can use to sign up. Obviously you would need to mark yourself not available before and after your work start and end times, and block off lunchtime. All that done, the system will let an external pick a time that is empty for both of you.

      But this only makes sense if externals schedule appointments with you directly! If for work, people will call your receptionists, this may or may not make sense at all. And with friends and such, it would totally depend on how you normally communicate – I never had a friend who shared a calendar with me.

      This is a separate thing from your personal use of the calendar, where at least for me, indeed colouring and such can help a lot – both to be able to identify time spent on a particular project, differentiate between meetings and time blocked for e.g. concentrating (I am a visual processor) and just to make things easier in general. But at least with the way Outlook is set up in my org, the colours and whatnot are not visible to others, just to me. People can see my availability and unless I mark an event as private, what I am doing.

    11. Melonhead*

      I’m with you, 100%. All this electronica instead of human interaction can’t be good in the long run. I suspect this is part of why so many people are so hateful to one another these days. If you no longer have to be polite in person, social convention breaks down.

      1. TechWorker*

        ?? This is such a bizarre take ;) using a tool to schedule meetings so you can avoid back and forth emails… still results in *having the meeting* where you do infact talk to other humans and need to be polite…

        1. LDN Layabout*

          Whenever anyone talks about rudeness/hatefulness ‘these days’ it’s not hard to understand what they found most attractive about the old days.

          1. Lexi Lynn*

            I think they also work for small companies. My company has 7000+ people in locations across the world and I could reasonably be invited to a meeting with maybe half of them. I probably wouldn’t have to speak to call center reps, but potentially any individual contributor or management level.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*


        One of us is missing something here.

        The LW isn’t asking “how can I avoid interacting with people?” or even “how can I convince people to email instead of talking on the phone?” They’re talking about the best way to arrange/schedule interactions with other human beings.

        The shape of that interaction isn’t determined by whether I invite you to something, or you invite me to it, or Fergus invited us both. I’m not going to interrupt you more often if the meeting was scheduled via Outlook than in email. There isn’t suddenly more, or less, room on Fergus and Jane’s calendars if the appointment was scheduled in Outlook rather than by sending an email, making a call, or asking someone “please schedule a meeting with the Chief Widget Inspector.”

      3. Wants Green Things*

        And yet, here you are, ignoring social convention of answering the question that was asked to instead soapbox your own incorrect take. And also showing your own hypocrisy by using a virtual platform to share your view on how virtual platforms are evil. Ironic, is it not?

      4. anonforthis*

        LMAO – So automating scheduling meetings now is responsible for the breakdown of society?

      5. DataSci*


        Let’s say I’m trying to schedule a meeting for eight people. There are two alternatives:

        * I look at people’s calendars, and send an invite for a spot that’s available for everyone.
        * I send eight people an email asking for their availability. I get six of them back and have to pester the other two. There’s no overlap. I ask again if there’s anything not given, and finally a day later find a spot that works for everyone. Or maybe by that time someone’s spot has filled up, and we repeat the entire exercise.

        How is the second one “human interaction”? Or the first, that saves time for everyone, “impolite”?

      6. Unaccountably*

        “People are hateful because of Outlook calendars” is a very interesting take, but even in email, virtual meetings, and meeting invitations you kind of still have to be polite if you want to keep your job.

        I suspect what you mean is “I find people hateful because the world has changed and the way in which I’m comfortable communicating is no longer widely used.” There are a whole lot more people in the world than there were when I first entered the workforce. Companies are larger and more global, and I have more responsibilities and oversee more projects and employees. If I had to pick up the phone and call twenty people to arrange a board meeting, it would take months. If I had to get ten of my colleagues together for a project meeting it would be days of playing phone tag. I would literally have no time to do any of the work I was hired to do, all because “human interaction” was keeping me from actually interacting meaningfully with humans.

        I was in the workforce when there were no such things as Outlook or Calendly, and I’m in the workforce now. I would not go back to the days of having to call or email people to set up meetings for any money, and it’s so strange to me that people don’t remember how inconvenient it was.

        1. anonforthis*

          I love how some people assume that just because something doesn’t work for THEM, it can’t possibly work for anyone else, or that they might even be outnumbered.

      7. Nancy*

        Outlook and other electronic calendars are not a new thing, I’ve been using one for 20 years. Cuts down on overlong email threads and constant phone calls that people don’t always have time for because they are too busy working and interacting with people in meetings.

    12. Robin*

      At school we are all using Google Calendar, which lets you compare schedules like others have mentioned (blocks of busy and you look for a blank space). However, GCal also has a couple other features:

      1) you can specify which days you are at work vs at home and others can see that. This helps decide if a meeting is in person or virtual but also can clarify if you have an alternate weekly working schedule (say your take tues /wed off and work on the weekend)

      2) you can set working hours and I believe you can tailor them to each day. Hours outside that schedule are shaded in to anyone looking. People could still set a meeting during that time, but they would have to do so in spite of knowing you are not available.

    13. Esmeralda*

      Lots of people have varying amounts of access to my work calendar. No one has access to my personal calendar, although I do sync the work calendar into the personal one (not the other way round).

      Most people can only see if I am free or not. Some people can see what I’m doing when I’m busy. A few people can see and edit (boss, office admins).

      You can always just block spaces in your calendar that you label as “busy” or “out of office”. That’s what I do for personal calendar items that are during the work day.

    14. Sloanicota*

      You can set the parameters of availability (so like, only within the range of 9-3 M-Thurs) and it synchs to your outlook/gmail calendar so it blocks off the things you have scheduled already. You can also change the settings to just show free/busy.

    15. Generic Name*

      People who look at your calendar from their computer don’t see all the details, and you can filter why they see further. You can also set certain events as private. My personal and work calendars are both housed on outlook, and I mark all my personal appointments and private, and my work events are set to “limited details”. So a coworker can see that I have an appointment at 5pm, but they can’t see that it’s for yoga if I’ve marked it private.

    16. Koalafied*

      In Outlook you can set your calendar to private but still allow folks to see whether you’re: 1) booked for the slot 2) tentatively booked for the slot or 3) out of office for the slot, which creates a hierarchy of which appointments they might ask if you can move if you don’t have any mutual free slots – ask about tentative blocks first, solid blocks if necessary, and out of office don’t even bother asking about moving.

      I have the first hour and last 15 minutes of every day blocked off “tentatively” because I dislike having meetings first or last thing in the day, but – especially since I work with people across timezones – I’m willing to be flexible if that’s the only time that works for others. I also solid-block off an hour every afternoon for a lunch break to ensure that I get a free hour for a lunch break every day, and I solid block everything after 1pm on Friday because if I can get my work for the week done early, I don’t want someone else’s 3pm meeting to be the only reason I can’t log off early and start my weekend.

    17. DataSci*

      In every calendaring system I’ve used, you can choose whether to let others see the details of your calendar or just see that a given time is unavailable. If I have 12-12:30 blocked off, nobody else can see whether that’s because I have a meeting then or wanted to be able to eat lunch away from my desk or need to run out to the pharmacy, all they can see is that it’s busy. (I think this is always ‘private by default’ but that may be configurable at the company level.)

      And if I plan to leave work early, of course it’s in my calendar! I don’t expect my co-workers to read my mind, or to need to ask ten people every time they schedule a meeting whether there’s a time that their calendar shows they’re available but they really aren’t.

      It sounds like your meetings are all 1:1, though, which simplifies things tremendously – in that sort of situation, emailing availability is simple enough. But when you’re scheduling lots of people across timezones, making sure your calendar reflects your actual availability is just basic courtesy.

    18. Oxford Comma*

      Where I work which is academia, there are two types of meetings I’m normally dealing with.
      1. There are multiple colleagues trying to get together for a meeting. If I can search across calendars and find out when 5 of us can all meet, it saves a lot of time as opposed to doing a Doodle poll. For that we use Outlook.
      2. I have individual users looking to meet with me or groups of users who want a meeting. For that we use Calendly.

      I schedule everything on Outlook including my lunch. If there are private appointments, I use the lock feature. I will occasionally block off time for working on projects. I share my calendar with a few close colleagues on my team and I have it set so that most of them can only see busy times with no details.

      Calendly is integrated with my Outlook, moreover I’ve set up available times. E.g. 8-5 and I set up buffering so that I can’t have multiple appointments set back to back. A user clicking the Calendly link just gets a list of possible times they can book appointments.

    19. Unaccountably*

      Well, you asked, so:

      “It’s not people popping into my calendar and scanning for free time without really understanding the nuances of how I spend my time my time”

      No one who will be sending you a meeting invitation is interested in the nuances of your calendar. I can safely say that I have never in my life even considered that calendars might have nuance. All people want to know is if you’re free to meet with them at a certain time.

      “Do you put designated spots?”

      If you have a meeting, you put the meeting in your calendar so people know you’re not free then. If you want to block off time when you don’t want to be invited to meetings, you block it off so people know you’re not free then. The space left over is when people can schedule meetings with you.

      “Is there some colour coding I haven’t been clued into?”

      You can color code it if you want. Other people won’t see it, but your calendar will look a little more festive.

      “How do you keep personal or work things private but with enough info you still understand it but without opening the door to people thinking you’re free at 4 pm just cause it’s blank? ”

      By default, Outlook doesn’t show other people what you’re doing unless you’ve given them access to your calendar. All they see is a bar on a timeline that indicates that you’re not available. You can also set things to private and indicate that you’re not available then, and then you can write whatever you want in whatever it is.

      “I don’t know about you, but if I end work at 4 and plan to go to the gym or the grocery store on the way home, it probably isn’t in my calendar unless I’m going to a cycle class or something that starts at a specific time but I also don’t think people need to have that info when trying to book something with me; again, can’t I just tell you a few times?”

      If you’re going to leave at 4pm, and you know that people will generally expect you to be there until 5, block off the time from 4 to 5 or resign yourself to missing calls and rescheduling meetings. You do not have to put “Going to gym” or “going to grocery store” because a work calendar is not an itemized hour-by-hour description of your life and no one cares where you are.

      Also, there are over 150 people at my work. There are at least 35 with whom I have regular meetings. Sure, you can tell me a few times if you want me to forget, because your schedule is important to you but it’s not important to me. I just want to include you in a meeting, I don’t want to lojack you. Do you really think it’s reasonable for me to remember what days you and 34 other people aren’t leaving early?

      “Maybe I don’t understand how this really works.”

      I think you think people want to use calendars AT you. They just want to know if you’re available for a meeting. If that’s going to cause this much angst, you are not a person who should have a job where you’re required to meet with a number of other people on multiple occasions.

  7. Santiago*

    I would be curious to hear about the No “first-person” convention in other languages on resume. My understanding is that in Spanish you do (Desarrollé un plato de gachas…)

    What do y’all know about other languages?

    1. Laika*

      Single anecdote: when I was teaching English in Czechia, one of my students *strongly* objected to using “I” anywhere in her cover letter or resume. Her unedited cover letter was really stilted because she’d gone to great lengths to avoid first-person, and she said that if she were writing a cover letter in Czech, so many sentences with first-person statements would come across as pompous or self-absorbed. Not sure how much of that is cultural vs linguistic though!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree for a moment I thought this letter referred to the whole application package and thought how awkward a cover letter would be if you were trying to avoid “I” – it also leads to use of the passive voice a lot. But it’s specific to resume only, not cover letter, I believe.

      2. Koalafied*

        Is Czech also a pro-drop language? I’ve been told by several Spanish speakers I know that because the “yo”/”I” pronoun is grammatically unnecessary for meaning, using it comes off like a very intentional decision to emphasize yourself, which can indeed come across self-important. But that’s about using a superfluous pronoun – not about using the first-person in general (with the pronoun omitted).

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      In Spanish it’s a bit unavoidable considering it’s a pro-drop language anyways and conjugates verbs very clearly for person and number – whereas in the English example given by Alison any information about who exactly developed the award winning porridge is technically up for debate. Context makes it clear it’s the resumé-writer but without that context the sentence makes little sense. It’s…surprisingly Japanese, in that regard.

      Resumes aren’t really a thing here but if they were I’d imagine Dutch norms to be fairly close to the English ones.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        I’ve heard this called “topic drop” — it’s also prevalent in contexts like diaries (“Went to store. Bought teapots.”).

        And I don’t think I’ve seen this in the wild, but further instances of first-person pronouns other than the subject would most likely *not* be dropped: e.g. you could have accomplishments like “Draped myself in velvet” or “Did all my own stunts”.

    3. Shira*

      Hebrew is like Spanish in this way- pro-drop language where the verbs are very specifically conjugated for person and number. Interestingly, the CV convention I’ve seen is to avoid verbs altogether in favor of nouns – so instead of “managed a team…” you might write “management of a team…” I think it’s seen as a more formal style.

    4. Emmy Noether*

      German: similar to English conventions. Resumes are usually bullet points, rarely complete sentences and no pronouns. Though the occasional first person pronoun is preferable to really awkward avoidance of pronouns.

      I recently read one where someone referred to themself in the third person once – that was very jarring.

    5. Anima*

      I haven’t written a cover letter in a while, but there I use “I”, “me” and the like freely. In German, that is. Hope the convention on that didn’t change in the last year!
      In my resume/CV on the other hand I don’t, it’s a table-like list with bullet points, down to “Other” where I list my hobby’s when fitting*.
      Interesting thought, though, it never even occurred to me that it makes a difference in other languages.
      That said, in Germany we don’t really do references, you put your “Zeugnis”, a written document from your last to second last employer right in your application. There are laws how those documents have to be written so your employer can’t screw you over there.
      *I’m in IT and one of my hobby’s is going to IT-related conferences. So I sometimes leave hobby’s in if they paint the picture of who I am better, of course I edit that fitting to the employer I send a resume to.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Cover letters still use first person pronouns, they’d be very, very awkward to avoid!

        I’ve seen a lot of resumes over the past year, and people tend to put their hobbies here even when they have zero direct relevance. Lots of hiking, biking, and baking, all of which are nice, but the only information I get from that is maaaaayybe culture fit.

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

      As a Spanish speaking person, we use to write our resumes being impersonal. Example
      * Dirección del departamento de Relaciones Públicas
      * Desarollo de estrategias de comunicación mediante social media
      * Gestión del proceso de verificación de cuentas
      Using the first person for achievements could be considered too self important, unless you’re applying for a position where is unavoidable.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, the same thing can be said for both Finnish and Swedish. Finnish is a pro-drop language where the verb itself indicates the person and the number without the need for any pronouns, like Spanish. The passive voice is frequently used in Finnish, but that would look odd on a resume. Instead we use nouns.

    7. quill*

      I really only know anything about Spanish but I am not certain how I would construct a non-first person cover letter and have the correct tense. But the verbs there and in several other romance languages depend on the subject of the predicate for their correct conjugation in a way that english doesn’t. (I swam in the olympics, she swam in the olympics… vs. Nad’e en los olympicos, Ella nada en los olympicos…)

      You can torture almost any english sentence into using passive voice, I’m either not good enough at spanish to do it or it doesn’t work with tenses people actually use day to day.

  8. Jelly bean*

    I don’t understand part of question 4 – as far as I know, only the meeting organizer can edit the time of the meeting such that all attendees are updated. As an attendee, I can only propose a different time (at least in Outlook), but if the organizer doesn’t accept the proposed time it won’t actually change the schedule/time on my (or anyone’s) calendar. I always thought it polite to let people know if the time needed to be changed so that they could plan accordingly (maybe schedule an additional meeting, shorten the agenda, etc)

    Maybe I’m misreading the question though.

    1. Observer*

      Good point about the calendar change. It’s true that if only the organizer can change the time / date of a meeting.

      Which makes me wonder if the OP is so bent out of shape because they simply don’t understand their tools?

      1. Rivikah*

        Some of those tools probably work significantly less well when not everyone has the same ones. They work pretty well for me when most of my appointments and meetings come from organizers within my workplace who are working with the same tools and all the notifications do the thing they’re supposed to do. But they’re not as great when dealing with external people who don’t have the same tools.

        1. Observer*

          True. But meeting invites are still extremely useful when dealing with external people. Because it insures that everyone actually has the same information in their calendar with no extra work on the part of the organizer.

          That’s true even when you need to change an appointment. Because you still go into your calendar either way to make the change. All you need to do at that point, at least in Outlook is to click on “wend the update”, and you’re done.

          I don’t use Google Calendar much but it seems to work much the same.

          This piece of functionality works as long as everyone is using a reasonably up to date calendar system / client that can use either MS format or iCal.

        2. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

          Microsoft Teams and the vendor who can’t view a shared calendar.
          (I’m still not sure if I’m going to be called in the middle of my previous meeting or if they finally understood that I cannot start before 3 p.m… they’re darn good at their job so I’m putting up with it!)

      2. GG*

        totally agreed. there are many times as an invitee to a meeting that I would be happy to update it, add a zoom link, etc. but can’t since I didn’t initiate the meeting — and have worked with many cranky colleagues who did not understand that fact, haha.

      3. introverted af*

        This was my thought – when someone sends you a meeting invite, you can put your own notes into the event. You can’t have “private” notes in it if you have to send the invite, but you can link to OneNote that doesn’t get shared with others (I think, not totally positive on that)

        1. Unaccountably*

          I opened a meeting invitation in Outlook to check, and yep. Right there on the Meeting tab is a big OneNote icon that literally says “Meeting notes.” In fact, it says it twice – once as an icon label and once directly below as a group label. Outlook does not want to hide its note-taking capacity from anyone.

    2. Rivikah*

      Yeah, some current calendar tech generally forces meeting invitations to go back through the organizer for an edit. But I think the OP is complaining that people are using those automatic calendar features at all rather than just getting an email and writing it down wherever they write these things down.

    3. Sleepy cat*

      I would not be happy to have someone else’s hour-long (or whatever) event in my calendar if I didn’t have an hour to spend with them and would also ask them to change it.

      1. Unaccountably*

        But… why would you? Why wouldn’t you just reject the invitation and have it disappear from your calendar? That is a thing you can do all by yourself in literally less than five seconds, without trying to get the person who proposed the meeting to do it for you.

    4. Audenc*

      My sense is that OP is a bit older and probably worked for many years before calendars had this kind of functionality with one meeting organizer sending an invite to everyone. 15 years ago when you said “let’s meet at 2 p.m. on Tuesday”, everyone had to enter that appointment into their own calendars. This could allow them to then do things like take notes to prepare for the meeting in the invite that they might not want to share, etc. (But now you can do that by creating a separate entry at the same time slot if you really want to…)

      Admittedly, I don’t understand OP’s complaint about the assistant of her interviewee informing her that she could only speak for 30 mins. Seems like that would be beneficial info for OP to know in advance, rather than have the interviewee just edit her personal calendar entry without OP’s knowledge.

    5. mreasy*

      Yes, if you are sending out a group invitation, generally only the meeting creator can edit. I MUCH prefer having a centrally-scheduled invitation to everyone just “handling it on their own” – given how many people forget meetings that are already on their calendar, I can’t imagine how much worse that would be if everyone scheduled separately. I have a LOT of meetings and an inflexible schedule as a result, though.

    6. Esmeralda*

      Depends on the system. We use google calendars. The creator of the meeting can set it so that attendees can edit the meeting (day, time, subject…) or not.

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, that confused me as well. If one of many people can only show up to *attend* for a short time then sure they can manage that on their own if they are just popping out early.

      But if the *speaker* is only available for a shorter time and the meeting needs to be changed for everyone attending, only the person who sent the meeting can do that! At least in the system I use, and I would think in most because it seems like it would be pretty chaotic if anyone had the ability to edit existing meetings.

      So I definitely think LW has some expectations that need to be adjusted. The overall gist of the letter though, seems to be something that like “thank you” emails to close the loop–there will just not be a universal agreement on what is the right way to handle it because everyone has different ideas of what is more convenient for all the people involved.

    8. Nom*

      Agree – I really don’t understand this question, i think if LW worked in a different industry they’d feel differently

  9. Observer*

    #4- I’m kind of confused by your reaction here. Like, WHY are you so upset that the app sent you a calendar invite? It doesn’t interfere with your management of your calendar. And it DOES insure that everyone gets the invite with the same date and time. Anything that reduces the chance of errors is a good thing in my book.

    Sending a calendar invite yourself is not “managing someone’s calendar for them”. It simply takes the place of the last email exchange or takes the place of the confirmation email you send, and again, it insures that everyone in the meeting has the SAME meeting information. And it means that if someone needs to make a change – especially the person setting up the meeting, EVERYONE HAS THE SAME INFORMATION, without needing an extra layer of confirmation emails. This is especially important if you have more than two people meeting.

    And, no, I’m not some young shnook who never learned to manage my own calendar. I’m someone who is very grateful for this capacity and have been trying to push my organization in this direction, because it winds up saving staff so much time when trying to set up meetings.

    1. Masked Bandit*

      Also, how long has Outlook been the standard in offices? 20 years? 25? I’m not a kid by any means and I wouldn’t think that sending an invite is managing someone’s calendar for them. It’s an invite, they can decline it.

      How else do you send virtual meeting info?

      1. Observer*

        That’s one of the things that has been moving people in that direction – a lot of the software automatically generates the meeting invites.

      2. They call me Ishmael*

        I’m in my 50s and I have been using Outlook and its calendar for the last 14 years. I thought I was just misunderstanding the letter because sending invites to people is normal practice at my workplace.

        1. Right? I mean, literally how it works...*

          The only reason I didn’t have the same experience as you is that (at least in my workplace) we’re supposed to all be using Outlook for calendaring… but some people just elect to never open the calendaring tab, use some other tool, and then complain about how hard it is to schedule meetings or get confused when people schedule them for times that they know they’re busy but nobody else can see it.

          Going from how smoothly things work when people actually bother to use the tools they’re told to, if you’re working on a purely internal (and purely cooperative) group, yeah, the letter would absolutely make no sense.

          I mean, I could delete a shared calendar event (and therefore get no more updates to it), write my own at a different time, and manage that… but is it really easier to do that? And what if I (quite often and for good reason) can’t see everyone else on the event and the change that needs to happen is something everyone else needs to see? How people do(n’t) calendaring is sometimes quite strange to me.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I mainly work and meet with people within my organisation who are all on the same Outlook address book, and being able to use meeting invites and update them all together is very helpful there. It does get messier when I’m meeting people from outside the organisation, however– it’s easy enough to manage an imported invitation if there’s one or two a month but if practically everyone a journalist is meeting is external and their calendar is a hotchpotch of things imported from Google, iCal, Lotus Notes and various other online tools, I can see how that might feel way more frustrating than just managing your own journal.

        3. Unaccountably*

          Right? I need to know what industries people work in that Outlook isn’t as standard a part of their day as Word and Excel.

          1. Data Bear*

            Academia. Hardly anybody I know uses Outlook; it’s all Google Calendar and the Calendar app on the Mac. (Which are very similar in functionality, but a separate ecosystem.)

      3. Antilles*

        I don’t know how long it’s been “standard”, but I’ve worked professionally since 2007 and in those 15 years, I have never worked at or with a company in my industry that didn’t use Outlook and associated meeting invites.

        1. Sloanicota*

          In the non-profit sector at least it’s pretty common to use google suite, but it integrates into Outlook okay. Could be better in some areas but mostly seems pretty smooth (because if it didn’t there wouldn’t be much point in using it!).

          1. Lexi Lynn*

            I’m old and have been sending out invites since 1998. The first few years were clunky because the conference rooms, conference bridges and people were all in different systems, but then we switched from running Windows on Macs to PCs and things got easier.

    2. Evan*

      Journalists receive massive numbers of emails and already have many moving pieces to keep track of. I was an assistant to journalists and often received 300+ emails between EOD and morning. Most were garbage, but all had to be read and dealt with. Anyway, my point is that the scheduling emails might amount to clutter and hassles for OP while being useful for interview participants.

      1. Maggie*

        But if it isn’t a calendar invite in their email isn’t that just replaced with an email chain trying to schedule? I also get 300 emails a day so anything that cuts down on email is a plus, which for me these tools cut down on email.

        1. Koalafied*

          The thing I like most about invites in Outlook is that they get added to my calendar automatically with a dotted-line border which indicates that it’s a meeting invitation I haven’t yet responded to and is only visible to me (not others who can view my calendar). So when I’m drowning in unread email I never have to worry that I’m going to miss a meeting request, because I check my calendar tab at least once a day if not more often, and can see at a glance if there are any invitations on my upcoming calendar that I haven’t responded to, and I can even right-click to accept/decline the invitation right from the calendar tab.

      2. Sleepy cat*

        I was a journalist in the noughties (I’ve changed career now) before calendar invites were a thing. And you know what was a hassle? People forgetting about interviews or no-showing or double booking themselves. I would’ve loved to be able to put things in peoples calendars!

      3. Sloanicota*

        This reminds me of my dad’s comment about how there used to be more admin support – secretaries were more common back in the day and they handled a lot of things that even relatively senior people are expected to handle now. In some ways online tools may (?) have made some of these things a bit smoother, like scheduling, booking travel, printing, typing … but honestly we just forget that there used to be more help available than there is now.

        1. BigHairNoHeart*

          This rings really true to me, just based on personal experience with different workplaces. A lot of the people I’ve known who are most resistant to tech solutions like the ones discussed in this letter were never doing that work in the first place. So it’s not that they prefer to do things the old fashioned way, they prefer to have someone else do it in the first place.

          And to be clear, this isn’t me knocking on that point of view, there’s a real argument to be made for minimizing the amount of admin work that certain contributors need to do to maximize the output of theirs that’s most valuable to the organization they work for. This also obviously isn’t the only reason someone might be tech-adverse. But it’s a factor I hadn’t considered before, so I appreciate you bringing it up!

        2. Smithy*

          This is a really thoughtful comment, and even in the last 5 or so years, I’ve seen people promoted into roles where their peers would have executive assistants but then they won’t receive one.

          I’m in the nonprofit sector, so while there is mindfulness on those roles these are in very large organizations. For a start, no Directors have that level of support but then when I started it was very common for most Senior Directors and VP’s to have an EA or some kind of specific administrative support person. Then over time you’d see more people promoted into SD roles and not receive that support or get it far far more informally (i.e. if they have a more junior program associate or research assistant also help with those tasks). Then even with VP’s, I saw more VP’s sharing administrative support people.

          Again, it’s a nonprofit and these positions are paid for by overhead costs – so sure – there are incentives to keep those costs down. But having reported into these people… wasn’t hard to see how much they (and the organization’s mission) would have benefitted from having more support on those tasks.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yep, in the nonprofit world I sometimes see EDs get an EA (but it may be shared or have another part-time admin role in finance or Ops) and that’s about it. Whole departments might have one admin – or not, and sometimes this person is just the lowest-ranking position/intern, which hardly demonstrates support for the complexity of this position. My dad was in a very technical role and was quite well paid (he’s also 70 to be fair) and was surprised that his company wanted to pay him to mess around with online travel bookings he often screwed up anyway when he could have been doing the highly specialized work he was paid for.

          2. Unaccountably*

            Huh, that’s interesting. I’m roughly Director-level at a nonprofit and I honestly don’t even know what work I’d give an EA. A project manager, sure, but if a good old-fashioned secretary were teleported to my office from the 1950s and told to work for me, I think we’d just stare helplessly at each other. Maybe it depends on what you’re a Director of?

      4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        @Evan, I think many of us can sympathize (and agree) with the ridiculousness of our daily email deluges.

        I am genuinely curious: What scheduling process would you suggest that generates fewer emails compare to a calendar invite?

        I do a lot of scheduling (internal and external), so I’m always looking for more tips and tricks.

    3. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

      Agreed. Using Scheduling Assistant isn’t managing other people’s calendars. It’s an efficient tool to schedule a meeting when everyone involved is available. It saves a lot of time and frustration.

    4. Antilles*

      And it means that if someone needs to make a change – especially the person setting up the meeting, EVERYONE HAS THE SAME INFORMATION, without needing an extra layer of confirmation emails. This is especially important if you have more than two people meeting.
      Bingo. If someone else has email to send to the entire meeting group, they can just reply-all and everyone gets the information. Both before the meeting (e.g., the written agenda, maybe some documents you want everyone to have in front of them, etc) and after the meeting (action item list, follow-ups on unanswered questions, etc).

    5. Mynona*

      I imagine the OP’s aversion to scheduling software has to do with being a journalist. Depending on their reporting area, they might be scheduling with a high volume of people who use different calendaring methods. And OP is the one asking for an interview, so they should initiate the meeting appointment, according to the etiquette of software-based shared calendaring (Outlook).

      Since OP lacks even a basic understanding of scheduling in Outlook–hence the question about the invitee not changing the appointment themselves–it would be better if they just said they didn’t use it at all. If they don’t have the ability/authority to do that, then they need to resign themselves to the idea that software calendaring is here to stay and educate themselves on how to use different systems. I struggled with the transition from paper to computer scheduling 15 years ago, so I sympathize.

    6. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I didn’t understand this either. My current scheduling annoyance is the fact that Doodle Poll – which used to be my go to scheduling tool – has inexplicably changed everything that was great about it to be more like every other scheduling tool. Why? Sorry if this is derailing.

      I manage the calendar for a super busy executive. He doesn’t do anything with his own calendar. So it’s totally annoying to me when scheduling tools assume I am responding for myself and want me to link my own calendar, or don’t give me the option to input the name of the person on whose behalf I am scheduling. I know I am not the only one who manages someone else’s calendar.

      But sending calendar invites is surely the best way to make sure everyone has the correct time/date/materials/contact info (especially in the times of Zoom)? And if this person is a journalist, my expectation is that they are the one requesting these meetings? I can’t understand why they would expect everyone to go into their own calendars and create a bunch of duplicate meetings. Just seems like asking for trouble – person 1 will forget to add the appointment and miss the meeting, person 2 will put it on the wrong date or time by accident, person 3 will not have attached some document they need – so many opportunities for issues!

    7. Nom*

      Agreed – i found this letter to be confusing and demonstrated a lack of understanding of professional norms i’m familiar with. That being said i am not nor have i ever worked with journalists so i chalk it up to that

  10. Bloodyheck*

    LW #2 – this may be different in different regions, but where I am (US, Seattle metro area) there is a serious shortage of experienced paralegals. Candidates are able to be very choosy about all sorts of things. I’m sure you’ll find something. I get Alison’s point that you didn’t give the attorneys you work with enough time to sort things out, but I wouldn’t want to work with that office manager. Let her support the arsehole No one wants to work with.

    1. ffs*

      Many years ago I unexpectedly quit a job at a Seattle law firm because the culture shock of adults allowed to be mean to junior employees was huge, and the following day was going to be a stunning Friday in May, which Seattleites know can be pure gold.
      It felt so good to tell the manager that while the job was accurately described, the part about being a servant to rude entitled adults was left out.

  11. Qwerty*

    LW 5 – Space is an absolute premium on resumes to stick to 1-2 pages, and in most cases the “I” is implied because it’s about things you personally did. So to me it’s mostly about saving character room and about scannability, and it became a convention along the way.

    1. A.P.*

      Also, if you add in personal pronouns, nearly every bullet point would start with I: ‘I managed’, ‘I wrote’, ‘I implemented’, etc. It would just be awkward.

    2. azvlr*

      I used I in the second portion of a bullet point after mentioning a team effort to make it clear that this portion was my accomplishment only. I wrestled with it, and ultimately decided to use is, since it was necessary for the meaning, and it was only one instance.
      I agree starting every bullet point with “I” would be weird.

  12. EL*

    OP 3 I understand how you’re feeling. Even though it’s no longer required, I continue to wear a mask at my office and in most indoor settings. When we’ve had gatherings (we’re mostly remote but will be going to a hybrid schedule in a couple weeks), I’ve often been the only one in the office wearing a mask. If someone asks about it, I’ll simply tell them I feel more comfortable doing so.

    1. Jackalope*

      On the more pleasant end of things, today I had a cashier who was checking me out apologize for not having pulled their mask back up after taking a drink. They then said, “Yeah, I live with someone who’s high risk, so I’m trying to be very careful.” I told them that I too am in the same situation, and we had a brief moment of quiet support for each other’s safety and masking. It was small, but given the current situation I appreciated it.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this is the way to go.

      My office recently dropped the requirement to wear a mask when you weren’t at your desk, when our regional health authorities dropped the mask mandate in indoor public spaces including indoor transit. Now it’s up to each individual to choose whether or not to wear a mask, and we aren’t supposed to comment on it either way. There’s also no mandate to go to the office, so people who are uncomfortable sharing an indoor space with unmasked coworkers for whatever reason are allowed to WFH indefinitely with no repercussions.

      As soon as the mask requirement was dropped, people were suddenly far more willing to go to the office, to the point that now it actually makes sense to go in and collaborate in person occasionally.

    3. Shira*

      Yeah, “I feel more comfortable with it” seems like a good all-purpose brush-off that isn’t contentious, if the OP doesn’t want to get into a discussion. If the other person tried to debate that it would (hopefully) end up just reflecting weirdly on them.

      1. UKDancer*

        That’s my approach. I go with either “this works better for me” or “I’m more comfortable like this”. People can argue if you say it’s objectively safer but they can’t argue as easily with you giving your view on what suits you personally best.

        1. pancakes*

          Agreed, though I’ve been lucky enough to not be asked. I don’t always wear one outdoors and I haven’t ever been asked about that either. I’m always very glad to have avoided this so far when I read about people getting shirty with one another. The rest of the pandemic is exhausting enough.

        2. JustaTech*

          Yes to this.
          When masks were required at my office (unless you were alone in an office with the door closed) I had a senior person tell me I could take my mask off (in his office, he was unmasked). I said no, and he said “don’t you trust the science?!” (We’re lab folk in biotech.)
          What I *should* have said was “It’s still company policy to wear a mask if there are two or more people in the room.” Which would have side-stepped the “trust” thing and centered the mask squarely on the “office rules”.
          What I *did* say was “R-naught of 12, no, I’m not taking my mask off.” – which then led to a bit of a discussion/argument, which wasn’t good because this person was already unhappy with me.

          So, yes, if you can’t fall back on policy, go with “because I want to” or “because my doctor told me to” to try to avoid getting sucked into a conversation/debate/argument about science and politics.

    4. nozenfordaddy*

      Luckily most of my co-workers know I have an immune compromised mother, and my own health struggles so the fact that I wear my mask in the office when I’m there (unless alone at my desk/in my office) barely makes a blip. Similarly when the pandemic started and I was being very careful most of my clients accepted that I have an immune compromised loved one that I am careful for as reason enough to never question me again.

      It’s strangers in public places that are rude about it. Like why do you care sir? I’m not big mad that you aren’t wearing one, why are you so burnt that I am?

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      Although I currently wear a mask only in some situations, I want to assure the LW that “Because I chose to” is all the reason she needs to wear hers. Depending on who is asking, she may decide it’s more appropriate to offer more for her acquaintance to think about, or that it’s more appropriate to simply disengage with a Miss Manners script for impertinent questions.

    6. Kay*

      For me it is really nice being independent as I use the line “I’m required to for the protection/safety of all our clients”, or if not in a work space “I’m required to for my work”. While this isn’t entirely true – I’m not required to (except by me since I’m my own boss and I command myself to wear a mask in the presence of others), nor do my clients require it (but I do set the policy that I must wear a mask in the presence of any clients, so…) – but if the conversation continues I simply say that a large portion of my clients are high risk/immunocompromised and we have adopted policies for the protection of everyone. The conversation never goes beyond that.

      Now, if you work under an employer umbrella I suppose you could go with a variation of that like “I need to for health and safety reasons”. Just because the health and safety reasons are to protect yourself from those not as concerned about long-term quality or life expectancy doesn’t mean you have to articulate the details.

  13. TiredMama*

    OP2, like Alison said, you could have given your boss more time, but I doubt it would have fixed the issue of the bully and the office manager (a big part of the problem).

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I wonder if bully partner hired bully office manager, hence why the office manager is as aggressive as they seem.

  14. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    LW 4: I’d stop short of calling you “cranky old.” I understand exactly where you’re coming from and I don’t like it either, in no small part because our calendar/appointment/video meeting system took a while to smooth into workability. Especially as a journalist, I appreciate that contact means talking to people. Andit’s a right pain in the arse when (as happened to me recently) someone says their calendar is up-to-date so you schedule the meeting and their computer tells your computer it’s a-ok, then the person wants to resched because they forgot about another appointment that wasn’t on their calendar.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Thank you. Or they had an emergency, or they never looked at their calendar or… on and on.

      1. judyjudyjudy*

        But all that stuff is human error, which is a problem regardless of the method you use to schedule meetings? All those things can happen and have happened even when you have called or spoken face-to-face to settle on a meeting time.

    2. Wants Green Things*

      Forgetting about a previous appointment would happen in a face-to-face conversation as well. That’s not a problem with technology – that’s human error, plain and simple.

  15. Double A*

    Fortunately no one has asked me why I’m wearing a mask, but if someone does I’m going to say something like, “I have a preschooler at home and she gets sick every two weeks
    Believe me when I say you don’t want me unmasked because there’s a good chance I’m contagious with something.”

    People think you’re being overly cautious for yourself when you wear a mask, and forget that you’re also protecting them.

    1. LolaBugg*

      A friend of mine got told recently in an elevator to “take that thing off your face” or some other rude version of venomous anti-mask rhetoric, and her response was to rip off her mask and say “thank goodness someone finally doesn’t care if I spread my covid to them! Thank you!” with a huge smile. The guy instantly shut up. Not saying I recommend doing this, but I wish I could have been there to see his face turn white as a ghost.

      1. Sloanicota*

        The only time someone has gotten nasty with me about wearing mine (they were drunk and I’m a young-ish woman, so that’s the context; they probably would have been a jerk to me about something no matter what) I said “I”m an ER nurse in a Covid ward and now I have this niggling cough ahem ahem …” and they turned white and backed up fast enough they almost tripped over their feet. The truth is, I am not a Covid nurse, but I don’t care to be hassled about my mask.

    2. Melonhead*

      My answer is a pleasant, “Because I want to.” I don’t owe people an explanation.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        I like to tell them I don’t let the government tell me what to do when they say “they” (aka the man) changed the rules loool

    3. sofar*

      I live in an area where *maybe* 30% of folks still wear masks. I always wear mine to the store/pharmacy/anywhere I’m not eating or drinking because immunocompromised people need to be in these places, and I’d prefer not to spread COVID (if I unknowingly have it) to them. I also wore my mask on the plane last week.

      Nobody has asked me “why” or asked me to take the mask off, but I have gotten variations of, “You know… you don’t have to wear that anymore.”

      I have used:
      – I didn’t want to wear makeup today
      – I’m having an ugly day
      – Complete silence
      – I wear it for others’ protection, not mine.

      I am prepared to use:
      – I’m going to ask you to file that under “not your business.” Thank you.

      1. quill*

        Doing your shopping while masked when basically no one else is is a great time to develop your Danger Walk. (Shoulders back, head up, resting b-face, longish strides – hooray for acting lessons on stage presence!)

        A thing that I find helps with the “don’t speak to me or my cauliflower ever again,” attitude is to wear your heaviest comfortable shoes.

        I’m female and fairly short, though I’m built like a brick mailbox, so I’m not sure how much is people deciding not to bother me in the first place, and how much is the murder walk from back in high school shakespeare.

        1. sofar*

          “Don’t speak to me or my cauliflower ever again.” OK this is better than anything I could have thought up, and I am USING it.

      2. Bryce*

        I just tell them I’ve got a messed-up mouth and it feels so much more relaxing to wear one. I doubt many people have ever actually noticed, but when I first put that thing on two years ago it removed a lot of self-consciousness I didn’t realize I’d been walking around with.

  16. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    LW4: I welcome you to the club. I’m LW4 from the article that Alison linked.

    I wasn’t able to comment much on the original posting of my letter, but I very much read through as many responses as I could. I also kept it in the front of my mind for a few weeks so I could really try to pin down why this bothers me, here’s where I am:

    1: Lack of information

    I probably detail my calendar events too much. Just at a basic level, I like to know how much time to devote, what resources need to be in place, what platform are we using, and what events need to occur before the meeting can be held (and be useful). When I’m not the requester but I’m scheduling the meeting…I feel like I’m setting myself up to be less than successful. I also like to add notes to my calendar events about the company/person I’ll be meeting with, and internal information that may be necessary for the meeting. This makes it hella convenient to get everything back into my head when I get the 15 min reminder.

    2: I’ve already given options

    I agree that extra emails are irritating, which is why I always give a list of 5 options with both start/stop times. In similar vein to point 1, I don’t know enough about what needs to happen for this meeting so the requester’s schedule is going to be the harder one to navigate. If you’ve ignored options I have already given you, now I need to know more info…

    3: Schedule management

    I don’t want to deal with managing this appointment for adjusted times, attendees, new dates, or adding supplemental notes for anyone else. Full stop.

    4: There’s no conformity on etiquette

    Many of the reader comments criticized this as a power play. Frankly, they may be right. I’m in the c-suite, so it does seem off that I would take on the task of scheduling an appointment I didn’t request.

    I also think it comes across poorly when ultimately this person will be trying to sell me something. A recent cold call (from a known vendor that should have been worth talking to) wanted to meet about what they thought they could do for me better than my current vendor. They had me self schedule the appointment (which I did!), but during the meeting the sales manager (the one that cold called me!) started by asking why I wanted to switch away from my current vendor to them. I flatly told them, I had no such goal, they called me asking for chance to convince me to switch. The entire thing came across as a highly pre-defined procedural that a very green manager was following…a one-size fits all approach no matter how the contact entered the pipeline.

    5: There’s no conformity to platforms

    I’ve had tools automatically sign me up for mailing lists, with no indication that this would be the case. I tend to respond using my phone, so I’ve also had solutions insist that I install their app to go forward with scheduling. Most concerning, I’ve had solutions request access to contacts…for reasons?

    Some solutions handle this function very well, and when I’m the one requesting the meeting I’m very happy to use these tools to schedule myself on their calendar. Other solutions can get my ‘kind regards’.

    1. Diametric*

      Well, yeah, for those with this kind of “too good for you” attitude, this sort of calendar management won’t work. Nor will anything that requires you to deviate from your One True Method. Presumably at your exalted “C Suite” level you are able to dictate how the rest of us serfs interact with you to avoid such things, though.

      1. Asenath*

        This response seems unjustified by what was actually said. There are excellent reasons given for the annoyance caused – if I had to use software that needed to be installed on my phone, or signed me up for emails or wanted access to my contacts, I’d prefer some other method of scheduling too. Even when everyone, well, almost everyone, involved used the same software (as in my last job), the ability to schedule meetings with it didn’t seem to be a particularly useful function, since many people didn’t have their availability indicated properly (there were, of course, reasons for this but they’re not relevant here).

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          The most concerning part was definitely that some of the scheduling software required app installation or signed LW up for emails they hadn’t okayed. I can see why some of the test was annoying; those pass annoying and become a real problem.

          I’d probably go back to the owner of any scheduler that required an app or other signup and tell them, “Your scheduling program won’t let me send you an invite unless I install its app, which I’m not willing to do. Can you please send the invite?” But there’s less of an easy way to get around things that sign you up for emails; it doesn’t tell you in advance that it’s doing that.

      2. RagingADHD*


        If you are in sales and think this commenter’s expectations are unreasonable, you are in the wrong line of work. And if you regularly indulge this level of pissiness, you are most definitely in the wrong line of work.

      3. Dinwar*

        I’m struggling with some of the issues you’re raising, so this comment hit a little close to home to me. I’m not c-suite, but I’m moving up in the world, and with the change in responsibilities has come some mental re-adjustment.

        It’s not necessarily that the person in C-Suite has the attitude “too good for you”. It’s a matter of resource allocation. C-suite people are EXPENSIVE. I hate it when they hit my projects, because they can easily accidently torpedo my budget. They should be reserved for high-impact events. Having someone billing at that rate scheduling time to talk to a vender is a waste of resources, just as much as if you’d lit a pile of money on fire.

        In my case there are things I can do that my teams can’t. They don’t know the people involved, they don’t know the process, they aren’t even aware of the fact that the process exists–but if we screw it up there are really nasty consequences, sometimes including jail time. I need them to do what they can do so that I’m free to do what they can’t do. If I’m doing something they can do, that means something isn’t getting done–and that can have ramifications across multiple projects, and across months of time. I COULD do the thing–I could probably do it better and faster than my field crew–I’m just also learning to recognize that ultimately it ends badly.

        As for the One True Method, I’ve also had this chat recently. I had a form that wasn’t in the order that the crews thought it should be. The reason is that it’s easier for the crews to take half a second and read the stupid form while they fill it out than it is for me, the database manager, and a few other people to try to re-organize 200 of them when we try to deal with the data. My point is, there may be–likely are–reasons for something that doesn’t make sense that lower-level staff aren’t aware of. My job isn’t to make things efficient for the crews, it’s to make the PROJECT efficient, which sometimes means making things rough on crews.

        As for the serf comment, that’s uncalled for. Again, we all have jobs to do. I’ve seen enough of what the C-suite does to not have much interest in joining it. My level of stress is bad enough, thanks! I’ve rarely met someone who makes a comment like that who fully understands the other person’s role, or just how much crap those above them in the org chart keep from raining down upon the “serfs”.

    2. bamcheeks*

      No. 4 just sounds like bad sales technique, rather than anything to do with the tool?

      For No. 1, this is just a suggestion, but there’s nothing to stop you scheduling a parallel personal meeting alongside shared calendar entries with all the personal info you want to have handy. I quite often do that– I just drag the email chain to the Calendar icon on Microsoft, and it turns it into a calendar entry, and I just put the times and date in, schedule it alongside the “official” invite and then edit it as much as I want.

    3. mreasy*

      I do get very annoyed when I’m asked to spend time scheduling a meeting someone else is requesting. However if we’re at the same org, they have access to my calendar, which avoids some rigmarole…I’ll just say “my calendar is up to date, feel free to grab a time,” and then my obligation is done. For external folks, I give them a handful of times, and generally they’ll find one that works and send an invitation. This is also easier for me than having to schedule it individually on my calendar once we agree. The other advantage of shared meeting invitations is that you can identify an error in scheduling immediately, which is especially necessary across time zones.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      I generally push back on being the scheduler when I’m not the requester—“Oh, since this is your meeting and I won’t have a good sense of the agenda details and attendees, could you please send the meeting invite?”

      1. Sunny*

        Some of these, like the sales people, sound like age-old problems that have just migrated to new tools/tactics. Annoying then, annoying now, and will be annoying in whatever new form they pop up in the future. I also hate when I get asked to sign up for a new account, install things, etc., by whatever tool the other party is using, so I usually just punt it back, sometimes with a naive ‘oh, how odd, it wants me to sign up’ and sometimes just a flat out ‘nope, not happening.’

        The c-suite piece is interesting to me, because I often do request that the more senior person set the meeting time, since they’re usually busier and I know I need to adjust my schedule to theirs. It feels presumptuous to just send them an invite, unless they’ve invited me to. But in my organization, the c-suite people all have assistants, so I just go to them, and they know what can be moved on VIP’s calendar, how important my meeting request is or isn’t, etc. Often at that point, we do end up emailing because they’ll tell me that the person is only free at certain times, and I end up saying ‘ok, then ignore my calendar and book it’ unless I have to pick up my kids or have a doctor’s appointment or something else that can’t be moved.

        1. bamcheeks*

          The c-suite one kind of baffles me because to me the only rule here is that the C-suite person or the person who is not particularly invested in the meeting (like with the vendor example) gets to decide. Prefers sending a calendar link and letting the more junior person pick a time and set the meeting up? Do that! Prefers knowing when the more junior person is available so they can manage their own calendar? Do that! Resents getting a calendar link from a sales rep and having to set up a meeting themselves? Either ignore it until you actually need something from them, or tell them when you’re available and make them do it.

          If you’re the person with more power here, the etiquette is that the other person is trying to make it easier for you. You can just straight up tell them what you prefer!

        2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          I agree, c-suite generally gets to set the date time. This is why I always included options.

          I don’t offer a calendar link because at my level my calendar shouldn’t be that easily accessed. Everyone wants time with the decision maker, so I need some opportunity to keep a filter in place.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I think it’s true that if a junior person approaches a senior person and requests a meeting, the junior person should *not* share their calendar link and expect the senior person to find a time, as that is putting the burden of scheduling on the person who is doing you a favor. The senior person may offer a link and that is how I usually see this done. The junior person would probably do better to offer a few times that might be convenient. However, the world is changing a bit and perhaps these ideas are out-dated now.

    6. Observer*

      I probably detail my calendar events too much.

      As has been noted multiple times, there is no reason you can’t continue to do so. You can, in fact add notes to your own calendar, even when the appointment came in as an invite. So you can have as much information as you want within the entry. And, if you manage the baseline settings of your calendar correctly, no one should be able to see any of the notes – or even the titles of appointments – who should not have access.

      I don’t want to deal with managing this appointment for adjusted times, attendees, new dates, or adding supplemental notes for anyone else. Full stop.

      How is any of this “managing” any more than having a whole set of emails or an extended conversation?

      Many of the reader comments criticized this as a power play. Frankly, they may be right. I’m in the c-suite, so it does seem off that I would take on the task of scheduling an appointment I didn’t request.

      It’s good that you are owning it. But keep in mind that this is ONLY even the slightest bit appropriate when you are dealing with a sales call. When it’s a matter meeting with interviewees, peers, or people you need a favor from (eg someone you want to interview to accomplish your work), power plays are a really, really bad idea.

      but during the meeting the sales manager (the one that cold called me!) started by asking why I wanted to switch away from my current vendor to them ~~~ snip~~~ The entire thing came across as a highly pre-defined procedural that a very green manager was following…a one-size fits all approach no matter how the contact entered the pipeline.

      Why are you focusing on the self scheduling when the real problem is an idiot sales manager and over-scripted process? And think about this – you spent a few minutes setting up the appointment, which is annoying. Would you have felt better if the process had been more manual and taken a series of emails or phone calls? I can’t imagine why, especially if (as is possible) the set up process would have taken even longer that way.

      I’ve had tools automatically sign me up for mailing lists, with no indication that this would be the case. I tend to respond using my phone, so I’ve also had solutions insist that I install their app to go forward with scheduling. Most concerning, I’ve had solutions request access to contacts…for reasons?

      Stuff like this *IS* very much the one good reason to not get into someone’s scheduling system. This is not standard or typical however, and painting all typical calendar invites as problematic because there are some sleazy players is just not a smart way to operate.

    7. anonforthis*

      1: Can’t you just create your own appointment with your own notes to sit next to the invite?

      2: If you’re the one organizing/scheduling, you get to decide the terms of the way to do that so what exactly is the issue here? Emailing available time slots is fine! Personally I find it tedious but you do you.

      3: Why? Shouldn’t others in the meeting know when the time and date of the meeting has changed? I don’t get it.

      4: This just sounds like a pushy sales person.

      5: This sounds like a bad app and I sympathize, but it doesn’t speak to the problem with sending calendar invites in general.

      Bonus: Will it really inconvenience you that much to receive a meeting invite?

  17. Wendy2*

    OP3, my family and I are all vaccinated and have been wearing masks even when it seems like nobody else is. My husband developed a cough anyway and just tested positive for COVID. The kids and I came up negative on a rapid test Friday but the 9yo and I are both feeling sick now so it’s possible we got it from him despite our best efforts to quarantine in separate parts of the house.

    Best we can tell, my husband must have gotten it when we went out for Easter brunch with his parents. We all stayed masked until we got to the table and did our waiting outside, so maybe someone in the kitchen coughed on his food? However he got it, we’ve all been going about our (masked) lives this week assuming the masks were probably unnecessary, we’re vaxxed and being careful, etc. Because we wore masks anyway, though, we’re spared having to call up everyone we’ve seen all week to tell them to get tested :-/

    This pandemic isn’t over. Masks are proven to significantly curtail the spread. There’s no justification needed beyond that!

    1. many bells down*

      I’m just going to start telling people “I’m really ugly” and then staring them down.

      1. I like this idea, more please*

        This is so much better than what I’ve got, I might actually need to start using this myself. Just explicitly forcing the weirdness already hidden under the interaction to the surface seems like it might actually work in a ton of workplace contexts where calling it out might not fly.

        To think, here I’ve been struggling with a tactful* way to say “I hope I don’t ever need to be told by the state to do something so trivial that we all know about to protect people around me.” to all the folks who assume that because vaccines prevent literal death (generally… unless you’re medically vulnerable, or if you’re a kid, or some other condition precludes you getting a shot) everything’s fine now.

        * Tactful, mind you, less out of worry for the folks who think it’s not weird to ask in the first place, more just since my job is still 90% of why I leave my home, that’s kinda the majority of the times I encounter folks acting like my masking is unwarranted.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I’ve just been answering coldly, “I have absolutely no reason to believe it’s safe yet to do otherwise,” and staring pointedly at the bare face of the asker.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              You’re welcome! Fortunately it doesn’t come up often in my environment, but the couple of times it’s happened, the above sense has shut them down pretty quick. Several of the other snarky ideas that have been brought up are good too… the catch is to avoid starting an argument that’s going to keep you there talking to a jerk, while still getting your point across. It’s definitely possible, just not automatic.

      2. jules*

        haha yes! i came here to make this same suggestion. i used it on a whim the first time i was asked, and it really shut the guy down. worked like a charm!

      3. AnonInCanada*

        You win the interwebs today :-[)

        Or “Trust me when I say, you would rather I kept it on!”

      4. Joielle*

        Ha! I like that. I’ve only been asked once, and I said the first thing that came to mind, which was “Because I don’t want to breathe your breath. Ew.” The person looked offended and walked away with no further comment. So that worked out well!

    2. prof*

      I mean…you ate in a busy restaurant, that’s how you caught it not someone coughing into your food….it only takes a few minutes of exposure…

      1. jane*

        Yeah, I’m a bit confused about how you came to the conclusion that you must have gotten it from someone in the kitchen coughing in the food rather than just from eating in a restaurant with other people. I’ve been eating out too, so no judgment, but…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          People who have worked in kitchens, food service in general, also are very much aware that there is a huge culture of turning away/walking away from opened food if coughing or sneezing. The average person is not this careful in their own homes. Matter of fact, if the average person worked in food service they would probably be shocked by how many things that are okay at home are not okay at work.

          This doesn’t mean the food was not contaminated, what it does mean is that if anyone sincerely believes there is a probability their food can be coughed or sneezed on, then doing meals at home is their best bet. Years ago, I decided to eat most my meals at home for many reasons and Covid was not a concern back then.

          1. pancakes*

            This really isn’t about the food, though, or shouldn’t be. We’re approximately three years into this pandemic, and it isn’t new news that being unmasked around other people in relatively close quarters — say, inside a restaurant — carries risks. The fact that it’s permitted doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. Suggesting that people only catch Covid indoors if someone is specifically coughing on or at one another (or one another’s food) is a significant misunderstanding of how transmission works.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        Yep, it’s airborne and it doesn’t seem to be spread through food at all. Someone else in the restaurant had it (or someone who had been in the space before you had it; the virus can linger if the room isn’t well ventilated).

        Or you picked up the virus somewhere else despite the masks. They help, but they aren’t perfect.

        Either way, I hope you and your family have a speedy recovery.

        1. Venus*

          Yes, transmission isn’t typically via surfaces, and extremely rare via food, yet happens often in a room with other unmasked people. My other guess is that Wendy2 and kids all had it, but didn’t develop it as quickly, so staying in separate parts of the home isn’t going to work. If I were in the same circumstances then I would stay separate in the hope of avoiding it, yet I would assume that I was likely to get it.

          In summary: wearing masks in enclosed spaces continues to be an effective way of reducing exposure.

          To the original OP: I like the wording “I feel more comfortable wearing it”. There is no room for argument, and it doesn’t criticize those who aren’t wearing them. I know there is a temptation to be critical, yet many of them that I see online want to argue about it or defend themselves and they also seem to think that no one would wear a mask willingly. Yet I live in a community where no one is required to wear a mask, but most people do, and I like Alison’s wording on this one.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes that’s a bit of an odd takeaway if you ate inside where other diners are also unmasked to eat their food. My understanding is they determined pretty early on that transmission by food is highly unlikely.

        Our household is also trying to stay masked most of the time and for that reason we are *mostly* avoiding eating indoors where no one can be masked, but we have made some exceptions as well. The risk is much smaller with vaccinations, but it is still there! I’m so glad at least that the weather where we are is starting to get really nice so we can hopefully enjoy more outdoor meals with friends.

      4. sofar*

        Yeah I was like, why do people seem to think that wearing a mask until the food is served gives them magical protection throughout the entire meal? I also dine out, so no judgment but … people, it’s an airborne virus.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I’ve had this one out with my ex’s family, with whom we’re in a bubble for the sake of mutual children. They don’t seem to understand why going to a dinner party with extended family (from several different places and several different degrees of carelessness about Covid) made kind of irrelevant the fact that they’d worn their masks all the way until dinner was served! Umm… folks, the air doesn’t stop circulating, along with whatever’s in it, as soon as you sit down to eat.

      5. anonforthis*

        Yeah – it’s more likely you got it from other patrons, not kitchen staff. Going to a restaurant is an obvious risk.

      6. L'étrangere*

        BA.2 is much more contagious than even omicron, comparable mostly to measles. The most superficial understanding of American history should give you a hint about that. And current vaccines mostly keep you from dying (bravo!) but don’t do as much to keep you from catching it. I find that my girlfriend and I are usually the only ones out in public with a mask these days. But our roomate has been coughing violently for over a week, she’s already given it to her boyfriend, so right now we should also protect the public. And very good it is too, as we were able to have a good talk on our Saturday outing with a friend just recovering from cancer (unmasked, but it’s his life and I don’t want even a doubt on my conscience). And another friend who’s struggling with rejecting her kidney transplant went to a restaurant -once- and got covid, but again indoor space with crowds.. To add to this our county is having a large outbreak of a nasty flu, and if you think covid is bad you should try that combo.
        Anyways, restaurant workers have been the primary victims of this pandemic, because the public has been both breathing all over them and getting aggressive when they attempt to protect themselves. To blame them for your own foolishness is really, really low

    3. Siege*

      You got it because restaurants are a crapshoot and the air is actively circulating. Some of the most concerning studies about COVID have secondarily highlighted why “con crud” is so real. I actually would guess that someone with COVID coughing on your food is less likely to infect you than sharing recirculated, contaminated air in a busy restaurant would.

    4. Kiwiapple*

      Wow. Immediately going for the assumption that it was kitchen staff rather than:
      A) someone in your group being asymptomatic
      B) literally anyone passing your table or interacting with you in some way passed it on.

      Please check your assumptions.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Might be a good time to do a bias check, if the go-to is “the kitchen help did it”.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. My first thought wouldn’t be kitchen staff or food.

        Also, why does the fact that they wore their masks mean they don’t need to contact anyone to tell them they have COVID? That makes no sense to me. If you have COVID, tell the people you were with so they can watch for signs and get tested.

      3. Crimson*

        Thank you. This comment was so gross, not to mention full of magical thinking and illogical to the point of comedy.

        You wore a mask the first five minutes you were with your family (and every other patron there) so it couldn’t POSSIBLY have been them, must have been a food service worker?

        We’re honestly so lucky any restaurants are even open. Everyone I’ve spoken to who works in food service has a long list of horrifying stories of abuse from the last three years. Let’s not add completely denying personal responsibility and accusing them of unsanitary behavior when we get sick.

        It’s pretty well known by now that unless it’s an N95 or similar, masks are there to protect the people around you, not you, so the comment is even more illogical. That being said, you should still be notifying people you saw, just in case. You’re doing exactly what you’re accusing food service workers of doing: not taking the easy step that would help keep your community safe.

    5. clever name*

      Um, even with masks you absolutely should tell everyone you’ve seen that you’re positive and that they should get tested. YOU tested positive, so even with masks you need to do your contacts the courtesy of telling them that they are at higher risk. Also, like others have said, you took your masks off to eat. THAT is a way more likely cause of transmission, not someone coughing on your food.

      1. David*

        Yeah I was thinking the same, the appropriate thing to do is to tell people anyway. Like other people are saying, while masks help a lot, they aren’t perfect – it’s definitely _possible_ to pass on the virus to other people even through a mask, and it’s possible that winds up costing one of those people the life of a friend or family member.

      2. ap*

        100% on this. And why would you NOT tell people you’ve been in contact with? So many people have allergies right now, and early symptoms match those of allergies, it seems considerate and wise to inform others they’ve recently been around someone who is now positive.

      3. desdemona*

        2nding (or 3rd/4thing) that Wendy2 needs to tell the contacts, even with mask wearing!
        If they hung out with you, they at the very least need to be testing regularly to ensure they’re ok. If they took their masks off at all while around you – even if you had one on – they may choose to quarantine.

      4. DataSci*

        Yeah, my wife was exposed last week – someone she was at a meeting with tested positive the next day. The other person was masked (my wife wasn’t, since she was giving a presentation at the time), but still had the basic common courtesy of telling others. (Wife is fine, has had two negative tests since and no symptoms.)

        I do wish there was a little less COVID shaming though, so that telling someone “I tested positive” doesn’t get you treated as though you’ve been tremendously irresponsible – omicron, and especially BA.2, are so transmissible that plenty of people who are very careful are getting it anyway, and people would be more likely to let their contacts know if it didn’t come with a risk of being ostracized.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Covid can’t survive in the digestive system. Your stomach acid kills it. So unless you inhaled the food you didn’t get it that way.

      It’s a particularly nasty virus though for airborne transmission. A friend of mine is currently down with covid despite wearing a mask nearly everywhere. They provide some protection but if someone else has it in your vicinity and isn’t wearing a mask you’re still at risk (albeit lower).

    7. Ms. Moneypenny*

      I’ve known plenty of people who were super careful about masking up and still got sick. Blaming kitchen staff is careless. Blaming anyone is pointless. You will never know how your husband got COVID exactly.

      1. londonedit*

        100%. I spent two years studiously avoiding Covid in London (masks everywhere, completely avoiding public transport, avoiding going into any shop or indoor place if I could possibly help it, WFH etc). But about a month or so ago it was so absolutely rife in the UK that around 1 in 15 people were infected. I drove down to stay with my parents for a week – they’re over 70 so they’ve also been super careful for the last two years. Got to theirs on the Sunday night – on the Sunday they got a message that the friend whose house they went to for dinner the previous Friday had tested positive (she was feeling fine and had no symptoms, but had tested for work the following day). Mum and Dad felt absolutely fine too, no symptoms at all, but they thought well we’d better start testing. Monday evening, they both tested positive. So I was then just waiting for it to get me – which it finally did by the end of the week. My dad never developed any symptoms, my mum had a mild cold, and I (the healthy one of the family) was in bed for two days and felt seriously rough for a week. At this point case numbers are starting to drop again but it has been so rife everywhere that it’s just plain luck as to whether you do or don’t end up getting it. There’s no point trying to blame anyone.

      2. Asenath*

        Yeah, the masks help a bit, but it’s nearly impossible to guarantee no infection ever – it’s airborne, mostly, and the current variant is incredibly easy to catch. You might never know where you caught it, if you do catch it. So says our local public health people, whose opinion I really respect. Fortunately, we have very high vaccination rates, I have never felt the need to spend time among large crowds, and masks, although optional almost everywhere (a few places have chosen to continue to require them), are still very widely worn in public. I must admit no one has asked me why I’m still wearing one, and although a few friends have complained privately that in some public places, usage is no longer 100%, they know I wear one. I don’t really know what I’d say if I were asked – probably just “I prefer to wear it”, to make it sound as odd as though they asked why I was still wearing my winter jacket.

        1. BethDH*

          I like this for several reasons. It establishes it as a likely rude, probably unnecessary question.
          Even more, though, I feel like it undercuts one of the excuses the people who are aggressively anti-mask latch onto: that it’s “the government” requiring masks no one wants to use, and that the narrative is being pushed by a small number of unusually sensitive people who are “weak.” Your answer doesn’t give them a way to try their favorite talking points.
          Finally, it’s not aggressively rude itself. Some people who ask this are themselves being rude, but I’ve only been asked why I’m wearing a mask twice, and in one of those cases the person (a rather young employee) seems to have just been being awkward because her next comments were to tell me about the employees’ vaccination and testing protocols, and to mention that they were still happy to do curbside service “for anyone but especially if you’re high-risk.”

      3. pancakes*

        It’s worse than pointless; it perpetuates a pretty serious misunderstanding of how a common but deadly virus is passed.

        1. Crimson*

          Not to mention perpetuating the idea that we should blame service industry/blue collar workers, which is especially egregious considering the commenter went to put on a holiday, in a crowded area where no one would be masked just for fun, and the food service workers were there doing their jobs so they could pay their bills.

          I actually think trying to assign blame in this kind of circumstance pretty useless, but I’ve noticed a pattern where people who do tend to blame service workers or other people who are ~*beneath them.*~

      4. Will It Ever End?*

        One of the most mismanaged aspects of this entire @#$%show has been the lack of contact tracing. No one should be scratching their head trying to figure out where they got infected. Public health effectively tracks venereal disease and HIV, but completely dropped the ball with covid.

        And yeah, OP is off-base about the food. It’s transmitted by respiratory droplets emitted by an infected person that are inhaled by someone else. Some fomite transmission but that has been negligible. Good on them for continuing to mask up, but abit more education is in order.

        1. Critical Rolls*

          I’m not saying contact tracing wasn’t terrible in lots of places. However, airborne transmission makes covid MUCH harder to track than the diseases you compared it to, and at a certain point it reaches critical mass in community transmission and becomes so ubiquitous tracking is nearly impossible if the whole population isn’t in lockdown.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes. There’s a huge difference in terms of contact tracing between having to contact people one had sex with and people one, say, shared restaurant space or a subway car with.

            1. Temp*

              Sure, but other countries are still doing a much better job of it than the US. By comparison, the resources were available for the US to do a better job than we have.

        2. Mr. Shark*

          I thought 90% of the purpose of wearing a mask was to NOT spread Covid, versus a mask being really effective at preventing someone from getting Covid.
          So if you’re in a situation in which no one is wearing a mask including an infected person, you personally wearing a mask isn’t going to help much. Versus if that infected person was wearing a mask and you weren’t.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Depends on how good your mask is – a good-fitting N95 is highly effective at either task, a cloth mask not so much… but neither help much when you take them off. Eating in a restaurant is a crapshoot; you have to know that you are taking a risk (and not from workers coughing on your food).

    8. Seeing Second Childhood, CTA*

      Airborne particles move farther than we thought 2 years ago, and stay airborne longer. It could have been someone who left the restaurant before you, sat 2 tables away, or served/bussed your meal.
      I’ve begun mentioning it proactively: my mother-in-law’s a transplant recipient so I’m wearing this until there’s a good antiviral.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Just got news from the hospital that a very long awaited operation for me is actually going ahead soon and they got in big red letters that you will wear a mask and you will submit to testing beforehand and isolate after the tests and before the operation o ensure that none of the other patients/staff will get it. It’s a big relief for me that somewhere is still taking this seriously.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I’ve got a cardiac stress test coming up soon, and they’re being just as precise. And we have to wear masks at my doctor’s office — they even insist on giving surgical masks to people who come wearing cloth ones. (Our usual cloth kind are tightly filtered and actually better than the surgical masks, so we wear n95s when we go there, because I don’t think the surgicals are good enough to make me comfortable. But they’re definitely better than *most* fabric masks.)

          I find it bitterly fascinating that the medical community continues to act like this is real. You’d think some people would look at that and wonder whether the doctors might just know something they don’t, but it doesn’t seem to happen. Neither does asking one’s doctor whether unmasking is a good idea before deciding to go ahead with it — I’ve very, VERY rarely seen anybody who stopped wearing the things who answered positively when I asked, “Did you check with your doctor first and get confirmation that that’s a good idea?”

          It’s the same thing with the unvaccinated crowd (which, of course, overlaps with the unmasked by a lot). An ER nurse wrote an article about working with unvaccinated people who kept coming in at severe Covid and wishing they had gotten the shot once it was too late. She said that when she ran across people in the community who were unvaccinated and arguing about why they should stay that way, she always asked them calmly, “Did you consult with your own primary care doctor about this decision?” Pretty much none of them had… they knew what their doctor would say, and were avoiding her on the subject rather than risk being told to get the damn shot.

        2. quill*

          I really hope that the local hospital is as stringent, I have a family member who won’t know for another week if they need surgery.

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        Pavloxid looks pretty good. Unfortunately it’s also still only available in some places, with a lot of gaps about who can get hold of it and how fast. And since it needs to be taken almost immediately upon onset to work well, not being able to get it fast is a real problem.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Getting off topic a little, but when I was working in virology the hardest thing to come up with was an antiviral that got rid of the virus but didn’t kill the host at the same time (viruses can’t reproduce on their own, unlike bacteria, they have to be inside a cell to do it – also makes growing them in culture a real pain). We kept a stock of several in the labs for accidental exposure but as you say you have to take them quickly.

          There’s been some amazing research done into antivirals in the last 2 years. That and the funding for mRNA research is probably the only good to have come out of this chaos.

          1. quill*

            Sometimes these days I think about bacteriophages and wonder “why isn’t there a smaller one of you that kills other viruses?” Because that’s not how viruses work, unfortunately…

    9. Artemesia*

      The stuff is airborne — just takes one person in the restaurant for an hour meal and lots of people will get it. So far most of our friends who have gotten it despite being vaccinated and boosted, have had mild cases — a Paris friend tested positive Saturday and tested negative by the following Friday — He felt really bad for two days and mildly ill for another — but he is in his 40s. We are old and so are more nervous about it.

      We know someone who went to a dinner of nearly 30 vaccinated people and apparently someone was contagious as they virtually all got it. Again no one good dangerously sick.

      Unfortunately a mask is only modestly protective to the wearer. It is most effective at preventing infected people from blowing virus into the air. We are enjoying Paris and masking indoors where we can but have to be a bit philosophical that the odds are decent we will eventually get it. At least people are fairly reliably masking on the metro — but in museums — hardly anyone is.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Airborne stuff is so nasty, nasty. Years ago, my MIL was in an assisted living place. There was an outbreak of an intestinal virus of some sort. OMG. They sent 28 people to the ER that night. Staff was so scared, this was a… let’s say VIOLENT… bug. Family members who went to the hospital to help MIL also ended up infected. But it did not show immediately…. nooo… the virus showed up in them once they returned home to their own families. What a hot mess. We all ended up sick before it was over. We considered crawling under a rock and staying there until it was over. nasty stuff. After seeing that, it so much easier to clearly see what is happening with the Covid virus.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Yeah, my dad caught Hepatitis A because it was sweeping through a facility. Very very nasty viruses.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, this. I admit that I’ve stopped wearing a mask indoors for most of the time, but I definitely will do so forevermore if I have respiratory symptoms and absolutely have to go somewhere, such as to the doctor or to get tested.

      3. Bee*

        The transmission here is so weird, too – you can catch it by being in a grocery store for five minutes when an infected person was there twenty minutes before you, but ALSO you can spend hours unmasked & in close proximity with an infected person and not catch it from them. It’s just so hard to predict!

        I live in NYC, which is still doing pretty widespread masking, but I was in Ireland two weeks ago, where no one is wearing a mask at all anymore. One person asked me why I was, and I had a very easy explanation: I needed a negative test to get back to the US! But that’s roughly the answer I’d give in the LW’s scenario, too: I just don’t want to get sick.

    10. Babydoc3000*

      I work in healthcare, and my go-to has been “well, I don’t know how many people with covid have coughed directly in YOUR face this week- but for me it wasn’t zero”.

      Which is extra funny because a lot of times they look a little nervous….

    11. Sam I Am*

      It seems the virus can’t withstand stomach acid, and doesn’t get passed through food. Which is a good thing.
      It most likely got in through breathing, and could’ve been anyone.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And bars & restaurants are a great vector from an airborne virus’ perspective. They tend to be noisy, so people talk louder & spread droplets further. I think singing is the only thing more efficient for transmission. Hence the infamous church choir practice super spreader event early on in the pandemic.

    12. Love to WFH*

      If you’re in an indoor space, you’re exposed to a lot of the people in that space. Air floats around. The early theory about the virus only being on large droplets that fall within 6 feet has been discredited. It’s aerosolized — tiny, and drifts throughout a room. Wearing a mask walking to the table is polite, but as soon as you sit down and take off your mask, you are at risk.

    13. Working Hypothesis*

      My entire family is fully vaccinated but still wearing masks. We live with my older brother, who’s nearly eighty, and my husband has some pretty major risk factors. My oldest kid and I have both got fibromyalgia and am terrified of the possibility of adding long Covid to either of our chronic health burdens.

      My husband watches the local case loads daily, and as far as we can tell there’s been exactly no medical reason for loosening up the protections people live with. It’s all political and personal — personal in that people are so sick of the pandemic that they’ve decided to pretend it’s gone even though it isn’t, and political in that the agencies which are supposed to protect us have decided it’s easier to go along with all of the folks who have decided that than it is to try and tell them it’s not over yet and face their frustration.

      We’re not the only ones. My kids’ school system dropped mask requirements a few weeks ago, and not only are at least 2/3 of the students still wearing them, but there was a recent protest by the high school students, demanding the mask requirement back. They know they’re not safe in a closed building with a thousand other kids without them!! I’m heartened by their response but infuriated by the way the alleged grownups are behaving.

      Meantime, we are planning to sit tight behind our masks until either there’s a vaccine which actually prevents the user from CATCHING Covid, not merely from dying of it, or there’s much easier access to Pavloxid than there currently is in our community. At very minimum.

    14. AnEngineer*

      There are multiple worlds of information. In one world people look at the Bangladesh randomized controlled mask study where cloth masks did nothing to inhibit the spread of Covid and surgical masks had a modest impact but only for older people. In another world, people look at an study touted by a CDC infographic that showed a correlation between mask use and reduced odds of infection. In one world people think if we can clamp down on the virus we can eradicate it. In another people look at how it infects pets and wild animals and are resigned to it being with us forever. If you’re in one world and don’t know of the others you’d be completely perplexed by their behavior.

        1. AnEngineer*

          Yes, I think so (I just skimmed the article).

          My point isn’t about what is true, but rather that there are information silos where people are completely ignorant of what other people are thinking and both are based on a reasonable reading of their news sources (whether those readings hold up under scrutiny of the actual data is different). So a question like: why are you wearing a mask? can be completely honest.

      1. L'étrangere*

        I’ve read pretty much all those studies, and every single one of them assumes that cloth masks don’t fit well. Which is laughable if you know anything about sewing. Also I make my custom-fitted masks from the materials recommended by the very thorough studies done by the chinese over SARS1. So I know I have N94s on my face at all times. But I’ll put those ridiculously ineffective surgical masks on top of mine if people insist, because I’m not a missionary

    15. calvin blick*

      This kind of post drives me crazy because OP has no clue how Covid spreads. Wearing masks til you reach your table in a restaurant does nothing. Covid doesn’t spread on surfaces. Unless you are wearing a N95 mask 100% of the time you are with people, your mask likely didn’t stop you from spreading it to anyone (and as many other people have pointed out, the mask didn’t stop OP from getting it).

      If you are wearing a very high quality mask 100% of the time you are with people outside your household, your mask probably helps. If you aren’t, then your mask wearing is of marginal benefit if any. I don’t know how OP3 wears theirs, but I see so many people wear their mask religiously at certain times, but then just take it off to eat or drink or even talk. At that point you’re exposed! You might as well throw the mask away at that point.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, except exposure isn’t binary. I completely agree the “wear your mask to walk around and then take it off when you sit down” is barmy (and I think comes from the time before we knew it was airborne, and it was all about avoiding larger droplets that didn’t travel further than 6′?), but “wearing a mask for 95% of the time you’re in an indoor space except for the 5% when you’re eating or drinking” is still significantly less exposure both ways than not wearing a mask at all.

        1. quill*

          Yes. Exposure is often cumulative, and reducing risk in any way is better than not reducing risk at all. The “one mistake and you may as well throw the whole thing out,” model of risk has already driven a lot of climate fatalism, let’s not add pandemic fatalism to the pile.

      2. Jessica*

        I don’t think this is true. The more you mask and the better mask you use, the more protection results. Some people seem to have more of a “nothing’s perfect, so why bother” attitude and I think that’s exactly the wrong way to think about it. If I go out 10 times and wear an N95 mask 9 of the times, sure, I may well catch COVID from whatever exposure I encounter on the 10th excursion, but overall my risk is certainly lower than if I never wore a mask.

        All-or-nothing thinking just encourages people who are no longer willing to do the maximum to completely give up, and it seems like we’d all be better off if everyone made whatever effort they’re willing to make.

      3. Observer*

        This kind of post drives me crazy because OP has no clue how Covid spreads

        It would help if you didn’t contribute to the misinformation

        If you are wearing a very high quality mask 100% of the time you are with people outside your household, your mask probably helps. If you aren’t, then your mask wearing is of marginal benefit if any.

        This is simply not true. Is there going to be a significantly higher benefit from high quality masks 100% of the time over cloth masks 50% of time? Obviously yes. But the idea that not doing the former means that you probably shouldn’t bother is neither true nor helpful.

        1. calvin blick*

          I don’t want to get into a huge debate, but what is the benefit of wearing a mask 50% of the time? Given how transmissible the latest variants are the odds you’ll be exposed to the virus during the 50% of the time you aren’t wearing the mask is almost 1. This is especially true given most people wear masks while doing less risky things (walking through the grocery store), and remove them to do more risky things (events are someone’s house, eating in a restaurant). If your mask-wearing practices makes it nearly 100% likely you’ll get covid at some point this year, I don’t see much benefit since the goal (at least my mask wearing goal) is to not get covid, although some parts of the internet seem to have decided masks are a way to signal they don’t consider the pandemic over yet.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Probability mechanics – which is the basis of most of epidemiology. You cannot achieve the knowledge of who around you or has been in the general area is infected so it’s impossible to say that you’ll definitely get the virus the 50% of the time you’re not wearing it.

            Whether or not others are wearing masks forms a BIG part of the calculations too. So it’s better to wear them 50% of the time than 0% of the time but of course not as effective as 100% of the time you’re around others.

            The pandemic isn’t over, and I’m gonna keep wearing my mask till it is.

          2. bamcheeks*

            Ok, I have two goals — to not get covid and to not unknowingly pass it on to others. Any time I’m wearing a mask decreases the likelihood of both, even if I’m not doing it perfectly. If I do get it at some point (again), it’s still a Good Thing if I’ve decreased the likelihood of passing it on to others.

          3. pancakes*

            It’s the same basic principle as harm reduction. It’s not complicated.

            Also, “wearing a mask 50% of the time” is arbitrary. I don’t know anyone who is that arbitrary about deciding when to wear a mask. In any case, the number of other people present and whether there’s good ventilation are important considerations in terms of what you might encounter being in any particular place unmasked. People who simply prefer not to think about either of those things can make their own choices, of course, but that isn’t making a well-informed choice.

          4. quill*

            Put very simply: any risk reduction gives the virus fewer opportunities to get to you. And for many people a trip to a grocery store is a weekly occurrence, going on a walk could be a daily one, while eating out is not, so people are masking for the activities that are more common and where masks are most practical.

            Much like if you had a partner who you could potentially have a baby with, but did not want one: you don’t just stop wearing condoms because one broke, and you (hopefully) have at least two methods of birth control going. Even during parts of the menstrual cycle where conception is less likely.

          5. sb51*

            Also, along with the reducing transmission speed/prevalence, each *time* you hypothetically get it is a separate opportunity to have long-lasting consequences.

            So reducing the number of TIMES you’ll catch it over the next year would also be a potential goal.

            (Personally, my response to coworkers/people I’m not just going to ignore on the subway will be “I don’t miss coming down with a cold once a month or so, do you?” And if they say they don’t get them that often, I’ll congratulate them on their superior immune system. Even if we had a 100% foolproof covid vaccine and everyone took it, I’d still be planning to mask on the subway/in the grocery store/etc because it has been really really nice only having one cold in over two years.

          6. JM60*

            The dose of the virus you’re exposed to matters. You’re going to be exposed to the virus if the person in front of you for 5 minutes in the check out aisle at the grocery store has COVID, and if you stent the afternoon maskless bedside with COVID patients in a hospital. But the latter is much more likely to cause infection, and if infected, is much more likely to cause severe disease.

            For restaurants, wearing a mask half the time is going to reduce your exposure (or risk of exposure) compared to not using a mask at all.

      4. pancakes*

        A well-fitting, high quality mask is a benefit while one is wearing it. The moment you take it off amongst other people you don’t share a household with, that benefit is inactive. It’s that simple. It seems that some people like to think the time they spend not wearing one inside a restaurant or a plane or whatnot somehow doesn’t count, the way many of us somehow think there are fewer calories in food consumed while standing at the refrigerator door, or out of the packet. The simple fact that of course this isn’t true hasn’t stopped it from persisting.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        My understanding is that they now believe that your own masks actually can protect you better than originally thought back in 2020, especially since now you can get higher quality masks. Which is good to know as all the mask mandates start to go away.

        Obviously it’s still better if everyone wears masks, but if you are the only one I believe it’s still significantly better than nothing as far as your own personal protection goes.

      2. Nancy*

        Except this is not true. Wear a high quality mask and you will protect yourself. Unlike 2020, high quality ones are available, rather than makeshift ones out of old T-shirts, which is where this saying came from.

        LW: just say because you want to. The vast majority of people do not care and the few that care enough to says something are not going to be interested in the reason. Besides, far too many people give out wrong information.

    16. Oxford Comma*

      You absolutely need to tell everyone that you came into contact to get tested. You don’t know when the exposure happened.

    17. Observer*

      We all stayed masked until we got to the table and did our waiting outside, so maybe someone in the kitchen coughed on his food?

      I want to echo all the people who took major issue with this. If you really think that this is likely, then you should never eat in a restaurant, fast food place or catered meal. But you should also think about why you would really think that way about people – is it because you think that no one can be trusted to not be gratuitously jerk-y whenever they can get away with it, or that you think that somehow working in a commercial kitchen makes a person unreliable? *AND* you should learn something about the way Covid in particular spreads, and how viruses in general spread.

      Because we wore masks anyway, though, we’re spared having to call up everyone we’ve seen all week to tell them to get tested

      Again, I’m going to echo all of the people who are scratching their heads over this. I mean, YOUR HUSBAND got the virus even though he was masked. What makes you think that everyone else with you was magically more protected?

    18. RagingADHD*

      You realize the coronavirus isn’t food borne, right? You can’t catch it by eating it.

      And if you are snorting your food, you got other problems.

    19. Momma Bear*

      Wendy, I hope you stay well, but that’s kind of how my friend’s family’s illness went – one kid got it, then a few days later a kid who was negative prior got it and then the parents….I’d retest everybody.

      OP3, at the moment I’m watching the numbers after Spring Break – some universities have gone to online classes, which indicates to me that there’s still high transmission in our area. A friend of mine’s whole family got COVID recently and I bet it’s from someone’s Spring Break souvenir. I tell people it’s a gift I do not want.

      I have also simply stated that the numbers are higher than I am comfortable with and I have a child so I will continue to mask. Many of my coworkers who still wear masks have children under 5 who cannot be vaccinated.

      Around Easter I modified my statement with I wanted to see my mother who is vulnerable and we were being extra cautious. I hadn’t seen her in more than a year and hadn’t seen other family in more than two. Being well for Easter was important.

      I recognize that at this point it’s a personal decision. Many places no longer require them. We are not required in my office but what is required is that we respect personal choice. If someone was harassing me about it, I’d be talking to HR.

    20. Art Teacher*

      Also, COVID isn’t even the only contagious stuff out there. I was told that flu season is going late this year.

      Really, wearing masks during contagious seasons should be the norm. I don’t know why people get so belligerent about it. It should be enough to say “I don’t want to get sick” or “I don’t want to get anyone else sick.”

    21. Sharon*

      How about just “I think it’s a good idea”? Not everybody hates masks and some have found them quite useful and would keep wearing them in certain circumstances even if COVID disappeared forever (allergies, not wanting to get sick every single time they fly on a plane, etc.) Same reason lots of people wear bike helmets even there’s no requirement to do so.

    22. Free Meerkats*

      Depending on how froggy I’m feeling at the time and how aggressively the question is asked, I usually respond, “It’s a condition of my parole” followed by a menacing stare or “Because I have covid” with as phlegmy a cough as I can muster. I had a child ask me the other day, I replied, “So I don’t get sick” and it was happy with the response.

    23. quill*

      They don’t need to have coughed in the kitchen: unfortunately once the droplets aerosolize they can take a tour of the entire restaurant and it’s really up to airflow where the ultrafine droplets end up.

    24. PosturePal*

      …None of this is right at all. Being masked doesn’t get you off the hook for telling people you were in close proximity with that you’re COVID-positive. It is VERY unlikely, if not impossible, that your husband caught COVID from a kitchen worker coughing on their food (WTF????). It is much more likely that he caught it just from being in a restaurant on one of the busiest restaurant days of the year. Or that he caught it elsewhere.

    25. Anomalous*

      “You think the pandemic is over? Bless your heart.”

      Another possibility:

      “You think the pandemic is over? That’s so cute.”

  18. Karia*

    LW2: I’m wondering whether the office manager might be at least part of why the other paralegals left too.

    1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      I’m thinking that’s highly likely, Karia. In fact, it kinda screams exactly that to me!

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I just posted up above wondering if our bully partner had hired the bullying office manager, and that’s why they seemed like such a bully and we’re so blatantly willing to read an “I’d prefer not to” as “I quit” from a paralegal.

      1. Karia*

        Yes, I’m wondering if the other paralegals may have said “Hello, I’d like a transfer,” and office manager de facto acted like this. If you don’t have hiring / firing power, making someone’s life miserable until they quit isn’t an uncommon tactic.

    3. Just Me*

      Yes, this situation is bizarre. OP didn’t say, I want to resign, they said, I don’t want to work with this person, and office manager more or less seemed to pressure them into resigning. It’s premature, sure, but on the other hand, I’m not sure they were given much of a choice given that the Office Manager basically made it her line in the sand.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Except it’s presumably not the office manager who controls hiring/firing decisions. So I’m not sure that it matters what the office manager tried to make it into. If LW had answered coolly, “No, I didn’t resign; I said that I prefer not to work with Partner X,” I wonder what would have happened… at very least, I would expect that the office manager would have needed to get Partner X involved and maybe other partners including LW’s current boss, to be allowed to fire.

        1. Just Me*

          Yes, I’m wondering why the Office Manager said that and if she actually has that kind of authority. It’s just a bizarre thing to say if you don’t have hiring/firing power.

  19. Allonge*

    LW2 – I get that you are now rethinking the whole thing, but in general, our instincts are not a bad guide for situations like this. Is it possible that the situation could have been sorted out? Sure. But it’s also possible that it would not have been, and working with a known bad quantity is really taxing. Does Alison not recommend to get out of toxic places as soon as possible, for your own sanity?

    Anyway: you now have the time to find a new job without all this unpleasantness around you. Good luck!

  20. Despachito*

    OP1 – I am glad for Alison’s reaction (that it is OK to make this person a friend if you clicked) but at the same time a bit confused because she generally advises against making friends at work.

    Is it because this person is not working directly with OP? Or is there another reason for it?

    1. londonedit*

      I think Alison only advises against making friends with people you’re managing, or making friends with non-HR staff if you’re in HR. Those are the situations where conflicts of interest, or the impression of favouritism can come about so it’s best avoided (it’s also just really hard to manage someone properly if you’re friends with them outside of work). Otherwise, there’s no issue with making friends with colleagues – as Alison says, people do that all the time!

    2. Allonge*

      Alison advises against being friends with your boss / reports – or, conversely, managing / working for your friend – not against work friendship in general.

    3. Batgirl*

      I think there’s a big difference between having a work friend and having a work clique. Hanging out with someone you met at work, after hours, while being professional during the day is fine. It is a lot different to a bunch of friends leaving one person in the office covering the phones, while everyone else does a beer run to the brewery during lunch so they can snapchat about the odd one out.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa, not at all! As others have said, only when it’s your boss/your employee. Otherwise it’s completely fine. (And with your boss/employee, you can/should still have warm, friendly relationships — just can’t have real friendships in those situations.)

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Agreed. I’m good friends with a manager in another department (same grade as me) but while I’m friendly with my staff I’m not friends with them.

        The person who was my boss once who is now a great friend of mine didn’t become a friend till after I’d left the firm (and ended up in a job as a manager like him).

        My absolute best friend in the world is a person I met as a coworker 20 years ago :)

      2. Despachito*

        Thank you for the explanation!

        I was thinking along the lines the OP is describing below, that it is “generally good to be a little careful with work friends even when you are peers”.

    5. Former Gremlin Herder*

      OP1 here! That’s part of the reason I was a little hesistant too–I think it’s generally good to be a little careful with work friends even when you are peers. While I’ve had jobs where I fell into a friendship with people over time, making a straightforward overture felt weird! I still feel a little anxious about just emailing someone to get coffee, but that’s also just who I am as a person so I may push myself to do it. Thanks for answering my question, Allison :D

  21. Green great dragon*

    Do we think part of the issue with calendars are (at least a sense that) people are more willing to ask to reschedule now scheduling is easier? It’s objectively less effort to update a communal meeting invitation and press send than it would be to update one’s own calendar and also write back to the person telling them you’d done so, even assuming there’s no other people in the meeting who have to be kept informed.

    (Re the calendar – yes the assistant could have updated the time in their own calendar. But then there’s a risk you turn up thinking that you have an hour because that’s what your calendar is still saying, so I can understand the assistant preferring that you update the central invitation so there’s no confusion. Maybe unnecessary in your case, but maybe useful in others.)

    1. Allonge*

      Yes, if there is a calendar invite, I just need it to be up to date – the whole idea of having an Outlook calendar is that all my meetings are in there at the time they are supposed to happen.

    2. londonedit*

      We always update the central invitation for exactly that reason – to make sure everyone has the correct information. Yes, you could send an email saying ‘the meeting has been moved to 3pm; please update your calendars’ but when there’s a central invite with everyone on it, it’s far easier to update that and press send because then you know that everyone has the correct time and their calendar entries will be updated.

      However we never schedule meetings without checking that everyone’s available (usually via a quick Teams message) – you wouldn’t just look at people’s calendars and pick a time. You’d send a message saying ‘Are you around on Thursday morning for a meeting about Persephone Smith’s book?’ and then once you’ve confirmed a time whoever’s organising the meeting will send the invitation. If it has to change, that person updates the invite (with a note saying ‘Moving this meeting to 11am because of a clash – let me know if this doesn’t work for you’).

    3. Katie*

      It is 100% easier to schedule and reschedule meetings with a shared calendar. With the group of people I work with we have meeting allllllllll the time. Going back and forth about availability makes so sense. Just look at my calendar you can see it and the 5 other people you need the meeting with.
      To note some people are bad about scheduling meetings in general. I always rant to my boss about meeting scheduling etiquette.

    4. Koalafied*

      Hm, I don’t think the existence of e-calendar influences my comfort level with rescheduling. I try to avoid rescheduling appointments without a very good reason, and my bar for ‘very good reason’ is based on who the meeting is with and what it’s about.

      My doctor’s office and my hair salon both send me a calendar invite when they confirm an appointment, but I don’t know if I’ve *ever* rescheduled a doctor’s appointment and only maybe once in my life rescheduled a hair appointment because those tend to be appointments that I don’t want to put off and where rescheduling is likely going to push back the appointment by at least a couple of weeks because my doctor and stylist both book up that far in advance and don’t have last-minute openings unless they get a cancelation.

      OTOH, my personal trainer has never sent me calendar invites, but I rearrange those pretty freely when I need and within the constraints of my trainer’s requirements for minimum notice to reschedule without a penalty.

      At work I mostly don’t reschedule meetings unless I’m out sick or some key document that we needed to review at the meeting gets delayed and won’t be ready.

  22. UKgreen*

    Well, as someone was was constantly asked (and constantly yelled at, and denied service in shops, and discriminated against by transport providers, and at one point, physically assaulted) for NOT wearing a mask despite being exempt in UK law, I simply suggest you reply that it’s ‘a health issue’ and move on, as I did because in my experience once you say something is ‘a health issue’ people will be too embarrassed to pry further.

  23. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP3: I get this quite often! The accurate answer is that wearing one is now automatic for me so I don’t realise I am wearing it. But for people who rudely ask why I’m wearing it or demand I take it off I just say ‘it’s not hurting you if I wear it so why worry?’

    Usually they back off. Only had one person (while I was waiting at the pharmacy queue outside) try to move forward to physically remove it but I held my walking stick out to enforce distance. Also a guy in the queue told the rude person to ‘sod off ya looney’ which made us laugh.

    1. mreasy*

      I haven’t been asked this but I can’t imagine I would respond very kindly, at all. How about just ignoring the person?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’m best described as a rather prickly person so I absolutely have to fire back when people start trying to make out I’m wrong when I’m not. My preferred tactic is to return the awkward to them – like by asking how exactly I’m influencing their life negatively by wearing a mask/being visibly disabled/being fat etc.

        Although my favourite is the woman who claimed I was stunting her child’s growth by wearing a mask because the kid won’t learn to recognise facial expressions.

        The kid wasn’t with her. This was at work. Okay laughing at this probably wasn’t professional but it felt good!

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Apparently babies are getting very good at recognizing facial expressions under masks! The human brain is fascinating.

          I’m sure that woman just wanted to bitch, but an interesting factoid.

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Oh, man. If someone tried to physically remove my mask from my face, and I were holding a stick? I’d be hard pressed not to use it for more than just enforcing distance.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        It’s tempting sure, but without my cane if I’m standing I’m kinda likely to fall over (which is a medical emergency for me) so actually swatting someone with it would probably result in me face planting the floor. Gently pushing someone back/blocking them is okay as long as I don’t do it for long.

        Trust me though, I still love the mental image!

        1. quill*

          Alas, the people who need a whacking stick most often are the people who couldn’t get a good whack in if they weren’t using the stick to hold themselves up.

    3. Working Hypothesis*

      Somebody *physically tried to remove your mask from your face*?!?!?

      I probably would have screamed “HELP! ASSAULT!” while fending them off desperately with my hands. Not even because I wanted to make a point; just it of sheer freak-out.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        They reached out to my face while saying ‘I’m gonna take that thing off if you won’t’ but never got as far as touching me due to my omnipresent cane. I’m pretty nervous about being touched (thank you PTSD and a spinal injury) but I’m still cursed with that British ‘don’t make a scene’ mindset which means I’d rather the problem just pissed off.

      2. pancakes*

        A loud “don’t touch me” or “hands off!” would not be amiss. And/or fending them off with a cane if that’s handy. Trying to take someone’s mask off is wildly rude and aggressive! Yikes.

        1. UKDancer*

          Also British and I tend to use both “chemist” and “pharmacy” without thinking about it very much. I don’t think I’ve a preference for one over the other.

      1. Very Social*

        Are you… popping in to the conversation just to attempt to unmask Keymaster’s little con, convincing us all that she’s British?

    4. cncx*

      i’ve usually been giving the awkward right back to the people who ask by giving them a detailed explanation of my health history and how it relates to my mask wearing but i like this more

  24. Ms. Moneypenny*

    The people that are questioning another person’s face mask usage are probably the same sort of people who want to know why you haven’t had kids yet or when you will get married and settled down. These people are just rude and you handle all rudeness the same way, just shut it down. It is no ones business. That said, folks need to check their own behavior too. There is often lot of virtue signaling that comes with mask wearing, with some people thinking they’re pious and righteous because they wear masks when others don’t.

    1. 653-CXK*

      There is often lot of virtue signaling that comes with mask wearing, with some people thinking they’re pious and righteous because they wear masks when others don’t.

      When the pandemic began, our local complaint board (where you can complain about litter, sidewalk problems, abandoned cars, etc.) had entries chock-a-block of posters complaining about people not wearing masks, not physically distancing from each other, and so forth. The people monitoring that website closed each and every one of them as fast as they could be put up. The tone of each of these entries was insufferably snobby and pious and “look at me! I’m better than them because I do All The Things to prevent COVID.” They were equally bad as the COVID deniers who thought that masks were the product of an evil government cabal to [insert conspiracy theory here].

      I’m a COVID survivor, despite wearing masks, and I have no problems wearing a mask when necessary because I don’t want to get it again. It makes sense to do it on public transportation even though the mandates have been lifted (for now) and cases are beginning to creep up.

    2. Melonhead*

      How is it “virtue signaling” to wear a mask and go about my business? I’m not wearing a mask at you. I’m just wearing a mask.

      I can’t imagine how one conveys “virtue signaling” when one’s face is covered, anyway.

      1. Keller*

        Wearing a mask isn’t virtue signaling. But making comments implying that anyone who isn’t still wearing a mask is a bad person is virtue signaling.

    3. Just Ugh*

      Yes I have a coworker who virtue signals many things including masks. She is a low-level employee and she would tell all employees to mask up if their mask was either not on or not worn properly when it was mandated. This included making rude comments or yelling across a room in front of others. When the mandate was repealed, she turned to making signs saying that coworkers respectfully request the wearing of masks. Management took the signs down. I don’t know if she was spoken to about it, but she resorted to giving mask wearing tips on a group chat.

      How did others respond? When the mandate dropped, those who had been scolded by her kept wearing their masks around her because they simply didn’t want to hear it from her (those employees have offered that info up on their own and were not asked why they’re wearing masks). Others ignore her and do whatever they please because it’s what they want to do.

      1. Karia*

        I sympathise with her, frankly. I have an underlying health condition and was forced back to an unmasked office long before it was safe. Wanting to protect your life and health isn’t ‘virtue signalling’ any more than asking people to wear a seatbelt or not smoke inside.

        1. socks*

          Yeah, I’m baffled by the definition of “virtue signaling” being used in this thread. Virtue signaling is a performative display of moral outrage meant to demonstrate that the signaler is a Good Person (often with the implication their outrage is exaggerated or insincere). It’s not “any time anyone tells people they’re doing something wrong or publicly asks them to change their behavior.”

          1. Keller*

            To many of us, yelling at people, make rude comments and trying to make rules when you don’t have the authority to do so *does* come off at a performative display of moral outrage meant to demonstrate that the signaler is a good person and that anyone not wearing a mask is a bad person. At this point in the pandemic, being outraged by someone not wearing a mask is exaggerated. Our situation is very different today than it was 2 years ago. We need to let people get back to normal.

            1. allathian*

              I sort of agree with you. OTOH, I have a lot of sympathy for people with underlying conditions, or vulnerable family members, who have been forced to return to the office when it doesn’t feel safe to do so.

              1. Keller*

                I have a lot of sympathy for those people as well. I’m sure it’s scary and stressful to be at higher risk than most people. But having sympathy isn’t mutually exclusive from wanting to regain a sense of normalcy.

                1. socks*

                  On the flipside, sympathizing with people who want to regain a sense of normalcy isn’t mutually exclusive from wanting to protect yourself/your loved ones from dying or experiencing long-term effects from an extremely contagious virus. Being angry with people who value their sense of normalcy over public health isn’t automatically an exaggerated performance just because you disagree.

                2. Broadway Duchess*

                  Normalcy doesn’t not mean that things will or even should go back to what they were.

            2. But muh normallllll*

              By all means, let’s get back to a “normal” that celebrates freely spreading a disease that kills people. Great plan.

  25. LifeBeforeCorona*

    No.2 You did the right thing by resigning. Your office manager made a unilateral decision without consulting the attorney you work for. They didn’t give you a chance to think about the offer and jumped to you quitting and put words in your mouth. You did speak to your own attorney about working for an known bully and they said they would try to work something out. They had your 2 week notice to come up with a solution and they didn’t. The bully went through 3! assistant in two years which means that no one is lasting a year working for him. Most people will try to last a year at even the worst jobs. It’s possible you could have been the fourth one. They also said that your actions will lead to the bully attorney being dealt with (very unlikely). There are 2 bullies in your office, the manager and the attorney. Don’t every regret prioritizing your mental health.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      There’s no reason their boss knows they’ve got the two weeks’ notice period to find a solution, though. Usually, when somebody says they’re resigning, they mean that they’ve decided; that there’s nothing you could do at this point to change their mind. So most people don’t bother trying to.

      Saying explicitly “If this isn’t resolved in a way which keeps me away from partner X, I’ll have to resign” gives them a chance to fix it. Saying “I resign, effective two weeks from now,” really doesn’t. It only tells them (correctly or not) that that ship has sailed.

  26. Not Always Right*

    I’m retired now, but I abhorred calendar invites. My issue is that these did not exist for most of my working life so it really threw me the first time I encountered them. Because I had no training on how to use them, I had to Google to figure it out. By the time I got used to Outlook, they switched to another one ( I don’t remember which one) which I then had to take the time to learn. Once I did, they switched again. Rinse, repeat. I’m so glad all that is behind me. All this to say, it would have been nice if the companies I worked for had provided some type of tutorial instead of assuming we all knew how to use whatever calendar was en vogue. It was incredibly frustrating to have to take time to learn A new system. Sorry for b the rant y’all

    1. L'étrangere*

      Well, it’s good you’re retired. Learning how to use tools is generally part of doing a job, and usually a wide variety of tools at that. So if you’re so reluctant to do so it’s best not to insist

    1. LilPinkSock*

      Ha! The last time I flew, someone in the boarding area had terrible body odor. I was so glad for my mask!

      1. JustaTech*

        Years ago I was on a flight where the guy seated directly in front of me had bought a big bag of fried fish for his in-flight snack. I know lots and lots of people love fried fish, but the smell of it bothers me at the best of times, *and* I’m prone to motion sickness. If I’d had a mask I would have been a lot happier. (Thankfully he ate fast and it was a smooth flight.)

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Recently, I answered this question by saying it’s because the world is filled with bad smells. Bad breath, bad cologne, body odor, the restroom on the train…so many things. While listening to phlegmy coughing on the train, I kept thinking “Why haven’t I been wearing a mask while commuting all along?”

      But really, people ask all sorts of intrusive questions all of the time and it’s usually because they are the sorts of people who think any action contrary to theirs is a personal affront. Just say “I want to” or “I feel better wearing a mask” and change the subject.

  27. Chairman of the Bored*

    All through the pandemic my response to strangers asking why I was wearing a mask in any given situation has been “Oh, I have hantavirus”.

    Ends the conversation and causes them to back way off.

    1. JustaTech*

      Things I’d like to say (but won’t):
      “I just found out the TB is drug resistant.”
      “Did you know plague can be airborne?”
      “Monkeypox usually isn’t airborne, but the vet wants me to cover up until he’s sure.”

  28. DJ Abbott*

    #3, The last time we were getting vaccinated and stopped wearing masks, the delta variant happened. I had just started working in the grocery store and wore a mask to protect myself from variants even though it wasn’t required. A couple of people reminded me it wasn’t required and I just said I was protecting myself from variants to come.
    I’m doing the same thing now. We don’t wear masks in the office at my new job, but we do when dealing with clients and when we come and go on Transit.
    I understand if the people around you are not supportive and will try to argue. I would try saying I’m protecting myself and yes, I may be a bit too cautious, and laugh it off.

  29. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP2 – I feel like you jumped the gun and didn’t let the partner at least attempt to fix things.

    Feels a bit like when clients go ahead and do what they feel is right, then ask for advice afterwards.

    Best of wishes in your future endeavors

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree LW jumped the gun on this. She didn’t give her boss or anyone else a chance to find out what happened and try to fix it.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Agreed. These sorts of things take awhile to address, and you have no way of knowing what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s usually better to let things play out.

      But, what’s done is done and maybe you would have been too uncomfortable staying.

      Best of luck to you, LW

    3. Omnivalent*

      Best of wishes in your future endeavors

      We know this is the lawyer equivalent of “Bless your heart”.

  30. Middle Name Danger*

    I respectfully disagree with Alison’s advice for OP3. You’re not required to be the reminder or educator for anything not wearing a mask this far into things. People asking are rarely looking for a real answer, they’re looking for something they can mock you for or argue isn’t a “good enough” reason.

    I find it really strange that there’s so much advice on this blog about being vague when it comes to medical matters but then the advice here is to tell people that you are, or a loved one is, high risk.

    I typically just tell people “I prefer it.” Sometimes, “I am more comfortable this way/ wearing a mask.” If I’m feeling cheeky I make a crack about fashion.

    1. Workerbee*

      Saying “high-risk” is still a vague statement, though. There’s a long list of specifics that remains hidden behind that phrase.

      While I agree that people asking that question range from ignorant to nosy to combative, I do think that there has been a sadly necessary privacy boundary we’ve had to inch over, given the widespread, indiscriminate nature of Covid.

      1. anonymous73*

        But the reasons are nobody’s business. It’s the same as just saying “no” without an explanation. I don’t need to justify wearing a mask if I choose to for anyone. If you give a reason for wearing one, that invites a whole slew of new questions. A person who feels the need to ask others why they’re wearing a mask will have no problem burying their nose further into your business.

      2. middle name danger*

        Saying “high risk” is bringing up my medical history to someone who has no business knowing I have any kind of condition at all.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      not required to be the reminder or educator

      Yep. What’s the Dr. Fauci line? Something like “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people.” If they don’t know it by now, there is nothing I will say that will light the lightbulb over their head.

    3. Nameless in Customer Service*

      “You’re not required to be the reminder or educator for anything not wearing a mask this far into things. People asking are rarely looking for a real answer, they’re looking for something they can mock you for or argue isn’t a “good enough” reason.”

      Yes, this. Trying to educate the willfully ineducable will just waste your emotional resources.

      1. Lana Kane*

        People who think it’s ok to ask that question aren’t actually looking for an actual edifying answer. It’s indeed a waste of emotional resources (and time) to respond that way.

    4. Office Lobster DJ*

      “If I’m feeling cheeky I make a crack about fashion.”

      Or a jovial “Hey, I spent good money on these!” if that’s what the situation calls for. At this point, I’d wager most people being pushy about masks are looking for a fight, not information. You don’t always have to engage. I’d tend toward an extremely cheerful “Because I have high risk loved ones” or “I’m being careful” myself, with the cheerful tone being key.

    5. quill*

      I think this is where the “be vague” advice conflicts with “my doctor said so.” Appeal to authority is more convincing to some people than a thinly veiled mind your own business. Generally it depends on the goal: if you want your coworker to stop but you need to work with them next week, appeal to authority is probably better than just shutting things down, where for grocery store randoms, it’s the opposite.

  31. parsley*

    I’d say a good 30% of my work reformatting CVs for recruiters is just taking out pronouns and rewording sentences in order to not include them. It’s still very much the norm here in the UK as well.

  32. Mannheim Steamroller*

    Re: #3…

    My office has lifted the mask requirement. Management has distributed and posted reminders with the theme of “Masks are optional; Respect is not”

    (1) we’re allowed to mask up;
    (2) we’re allowed to not mask up;
    (3) we’re allowed to require visitors to mask up while at our cubicles or in offices;
    (4) no, Bob is not wearing his mask “at” you.

    1. Karia*

      I like this. Respectful all round and allows people at higher risk to request easy accommodations.

    2. LilPinkSock*

      We have those! So few people are back in the office with any regularity yet, but I’m interested to see how this plays out.

    3. C in the Hood*

      I love this! Once an anti-mask-leaning friend & I were talking about wearing masks vs not wearing masks, and I said, “you know, everyone has a different level of risk tolerance.” I think that clicked with her.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      “Masks are optional; Respect is not”

      I love that wording. It should be explicit, not just the theme.

      1. Mannheim Steamroller*

        It IS explicit. Those exact words are in the email, the notice on the internal website, and the posters in every break room.

  33. Delta Delta*

    #2 – I do think OP may have left a little early. However, I have zero confidence the firm would have fixed the problems, and I’m sure OP would have ended up leaving anyway. As an expatriate of a deeply dysfunctional law firm that looked a lot like the one described here, I can see multiple levels of problems. 1) the bully lawyer himself is not going to change being a bully, and in fact, is likely going to be encouraged – at least implicitly – to continue bullying. 2) the office manager is likely also a bully but in a different way. The office manager is also unlikely to change. 3) The other partners are not going to do anything to change either of them, and they have zero incentive to do so. The office manager keeps things humming along adequately. The bully-partner likely generates income, which the business needs. It’s easier for them to broken-stair him than it is to tell him to knock off being a jerk so they can actually keep staff. The attitude is likely that it’s easier to keep up with the churn of support staff turnover than it is to replace a rainmaker. all this to say OP might have been a little quick, but this probably wasn’t getting fixed and she was probably going to end up leaving due to dysfunction anyway at some point. Might as well be now.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      No, but the other partners might well do something to keep a paralegal they like away from both bullies if given the chance to… because they would rather keep working with that paralegal and they know that’s the price of doing so. Which would still have been a viable solution *for that paralegal* even if not for the firm as a whole.

      1. Lana Kane*

        Among people who prioritize a partner (which is almost usually the case and seems to be so here) you can’t count on always being liked enough to be protected.

    2. L'étrangere*

      Most likely she’d have had to leave, for all the reasons you say. But not necessarily, the better partners could have replaced the office manager (who sounds like they could cause legal problems with their approach to HR) and better isolated the bully partner, at least better protected their staff from him. But she could have been job hunting from a much better position, as a still-employed person, simply by staying put. Hindsight won’t help much here, but may help prevent a repeat of this self-harm later?

    3. cncx*

      used to work as a paralegal/assistant in a law firm, can confirm. In a normal place yeah maybe op2 jumped the gun, but in a law firm, it was exactly the right thing to do.
      I too had run ins with a capital partner and left before my sanity took a hit

  34. Workerbee*

    #5 If it helps, OP, the “I” in resumes is always implied. The person reading it has you on their mind the entire time.

    Perhaps you can look at it as avoiding a redundancy.

  35. Lurking Tom*

    Wild speculation on my part, but I suspect that the office manager has some kind of personal connection (friendship, relationship, or other) to the the bully partner and is throwing some weight around for him.

    1. RagingADHD*

      That is pretty wild, and suggests that you’ve never worked in an environment with a powerful bully. Subordinates survive in that environment by making alliances. The office manager sucks in this story, but they have most likely developed this attitude in order to keep their job.

  36. anonymous73*

    #1 – I would just ask them if they want to grab a cup of coffee or even lunch. I would specify “to discuss X and Y” as Alison suggested, because then it’ll turn into a work thing more than a social engagement.
    #2 – I agree that your quitting was premature. You didn’t express any displeasure with your job before this happened and you never gave them a chance to fix the issue. And (most importantly) you had your own boss backing you up. Maybe nothing would have changed, but I would have stuck around to see it through while job searching and keeping my options open. And the lawyer bully isn’t the only issue here. The office manager needs to be straightened out too.
    #3 – “Because I choose to.” If they push, “I have my reasons.” If they continue to push I think you’re perfectly right to say “That’s my business.” because by that point they’ve lost the right to your respect. I personally no longer wear a mask unless where mandated, but I don’t ask others why they do because it is their business and not mine. And explaining yourself is not necessary.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      100% agreed with #3. It is past time to be more polite than is absolutely necessary with people about masks.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think if they continue to push, I’d call them out on that: “is there a reason why you’re pushing so hard on my decisions about my own health? You get to make your choices. I make mine.”

      1. anonymous73*

        Agreed, I just find it easier to keep my answers short with boundary pushers because longer answers tend to lead to more questions.

  37. LilPinkSock*

    LW3: Why the assumption that someone in the kitchen coughed on your food? There’s some ugly implications there…and not how this virus works, anyway.

    I’ve found the best response to mask questions is a firm “I prefer to wear mine” and move on.

    1. RagingADHD*


      I thought we had all figured out by now that precautions are not a magic force field, and even people who are careful can catch it.

      If masking and distancing were magic, we wouldn’t need the vaccines to reduce hospitalizations and deaths. Risk reduction, not risk elimination, because there is no such thing.

  38. Glomarization, Esq.*

    Maybe I’m old and cranky and sick of this nonsense, but in my view, someone who asks me why I’m “still” wearing a mask is not asking in good faith. So I don’t need to answer in good faith. And there’s no reason for me to strike a conciliatory, educational tone.

    The better path, I think, is to answer with something more like “because I want to” in a tone that is polite but is firm enough to end the conversation. If they don’t think it’s necessary to wear a mask, that is not a position that I can have a conversation with or change their mind about. Alison’s suggested language goes that direction but as far as I’m concerned it’s a waste of time.

  39. Esmeralda*

    OP 4. Boomer here. Yeah, you’re being a cranky old.

    It’s not just that you should fall on your knees in gratitude that you don’t have to chase people down on the phone any more. OMG, do you not remember what that was like? Your nostalgia for calling folks and everyone just does their own calendar — dude, that is NOT how it went!

    More to the point: You’re the one who has to meet with these people, sounds like. They are sources. You need something from them. If they have to change the meeting time, that’s kinda your problem, not theirs. (Even if they get something out of it — it’s still your project).

    Just use the technology to make the changes. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen “The Apartment” — there’s a scene where Jack Lemmon is using a pencil, eraser, flip-page desk calendar, and a rolodex to reschedule all the skeevy guys who want to use his apartment. That’s the technology until pretty recently. Be glad that kids these days have invented ways to manage calendars without a pencil…

    (I do miss the rolodex…)

    1. Observer*

      More to the point: You’re the one who has to meet with these people, sounds like. They are sources. You need something from them. If they have to change the meeting time, that’s kinda your problem, not theirs. (Even if they get something out of it — it’s still your project).

      That really jumped out at me, too.

      1. anonforthis*

        Yep, if interviewing is part of your job, the interviewees are doing you a favor. This isn’t like a business meeting.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I have zero nostalgia for the old days! It used to go “OK we’ll talk at 11a on Tuesday” then if one of you got the time zone mixed up, had the wrong week, entered it into the calendar incorrectly, or forgot to specify how/where…there were so many ways to get it wrong. Now, if I send you a calendar invite I know for sure we have the same info. I work across time zones and it eliminates a lot of date/time confusion.

      1. BB*

        Oh, and the great fun that daylight savings would bring! Every year. It was an issue every. single. year.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Even better, I’ve lived in two of the areas of the country that don’t change! That math is extra fun.

          My favorite is when team members specify call times as PST…when it’s actually PDT season. They seem to think PST = Pacific Time and forget the middle letter has a meaning.

    3. anonforthis*

      Honestly, OP 4 sounds entitled. Sometimes scheduling meetings with people (especially people you’re meeting with as info sources) means meeting them halfway and accommodating their preferences over your own. You don’t always get to have your way just because you were on this planet first and you happen to prefer the “traditional” way.

      I appreciate that Alison acknowledged in her response that while she doesn’t prefer it, sometimes you have to go with the flow and what is common. Because not everything is about you.

      Even when I do prefer the automated scheduling, I accommodate people who prefer to schedule by email because that’s how that works.

  40. Esmeralda*

    OP 3. Most people who are asking aren’t genuinely interested in your answer, as I’m sure you recognize. They’re making a point.

    When I’ve been asked, I make a point too: “Because it’s my *choice* to do so. And isn’t it great that we ALL get to *make our own choice*?”

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      Except I don’t think it’s great that we all get to make our own choice. I think it’s an outrage that my state has caved to the anti-maskers and taken down the requirements despite zero medical evidence that it’s significantly safer right now than it was when they were first implemented. So I don’t think I could say anything like that with a straight face.

      Of course, nobody would be able to tell whether or not I had a straight face, since I wear a mask everywhere. ;)

      1. Esmeralda*

        Well, sure, I agree with you — it’s not great. But there’s no point in getting into a giant argument with some fool about it. Especially not in a state which allows concealed-carry.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Fair enough. If I don’t want to get into a discussion with some jerk, I am likely to just answer, “Because I might still be contagious, I’m not sure,” or any other variation which implies that I’m the one who has the virus instead of that in trying to avoid catching it. This tends to shut them up fast (and also, bonus, makes them want to go away from me).

  41. animaniactoo*

    AAM4: Depending on how the calendar invite is setup, their calendar might not ALLOW them to edit the invite/timing as they are not the ones who created it.

    You may be a cranky old who needs to have a better understanding of the tech you’re using.

    1. quill*

      Also, LW4: are you overscheduled in general? Because that could be part of your antipathy to these electronic calendars, if learning to manage yours is taking up time you don’t feel like you have.

  42. What Is Sleep Even*

    LW2, I think you were right to quit. Not all partners are involved in firm management, or have the clout to protect their staff – especially when they aren’t keeping that staff fully busy. You had to give the office manager some kind of answer that day. Maybe you could have reported the office manager’s ultimatum back to the partner you worked for first, and maybe they could have tried again to work something out with the other partners, but really: if that partner couldn’t fend the office manager off for a day, they probaby couldn’t protect you long-term either.

    You made the right call on that ultimatum, imho. I’ve worked in proximity to bullying attorneys – their long-term people were miserable, the new hires didn’t last, and long-time staffers also quit after being assigned to work with them. (The bullys’ careers did not suffer as long as they confined the abuse to associates and staff.)

    I hope the job market is good in your area, and that you find a new position soon!

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      I’m not so sure that “couldn’t fend off the office manager from coming and talking to LW” is the same thing as “couldn’t protect LW from actual consequences of refusing to work for the bully.” The office manager sounds extremely aggressive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she has a lot of power to enforce anything; she may be a loose cannon, running around saying things she can’t back up. The fact that she began with “The partners have decided…” when at least two partners are totally confused about when and how this decision was made makes me think it’s mostly the office manager making the decision and trying to ram it down LW’s throat before anybody can notice that there aren’t any partners behind it at all.

      Perhaps the bully just told the office manager, “Get me a paralegal by Tuesday — I don’t care how!” and the office manager has taken it upon herself to do the rest. Her behavior doesn’t sound to me like somebody secure in the authority they have backing them.

      Remember the LW who was fired by HR while their boss was out of town, because they left spicy food in the fridge and the HR rep’s lover ate it and got sick? It turned out that HR person was acting completely alone, and when senior management found out about the situation LW was asked to return with an apology and a raise. This has a little bit the same feel as that too-fast firing… like somebody’s overstepping their authority and trying to do it so aggressively and so fast that nobody notices.

      1. MsM*

        The mere fact that OP’s investigation wasn’t immediately followed up by the two partners going to the office manager and going, “Okay, what’s going on here?”, followed by concrete changes tells me the office manager at least has enough power to avoid reprimands where they’re warranted.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Or at least is a fast talker, agreed. They may have gone to the office manager and asked “What’s going on here?” but if so, whatever answer they got was enough to keep the office manager from getting fired on the spot for overstepping their place.

          Of course in theory, they might have needed to gather the partners in our to fire her; usually decisions like that, about whole-firm staff (rather than those who work for a particular Partner) takes collective action. But I would still have expected the partner LW worked for to go back to LW and fill them in. As well as keeping some degree of control over the office manager in the meantime to keep recurrences from happening.

          Bottom line: this firm is full of trouble, and LW is better off elsewhere.

  43. Working Hypothesis*

    I’m with you, and having a lot of trouble because we have, from the beginning of the pandemic, shared a bubble with my kids’ father and his family. It’s the only way the kids could go back and forth between our houses, which they do weekly (and it would be really bad for them not to do).

    Now the other family is pushing me on why they can’t start having relatives over for dinner yet, and I’m going out of my tree trying to explain that the pandemic is not over just because the CDC has caved to the anti-mask idiots. We have two high-risk family members living with us and they don’t, so there’s no way we’re opening up to maskless socializing yet. Out foster kid, who does visit her anti-mask relatives occasionally, quarantines when she comes back before she rejoins the household… and does so without complaint. If she can behave responsibly about this stuff, I don’t see why more of the supposed grownups around me can’t.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      Whoops; this was supposed to be threaded to one of the mask-supporting comments above. Sorry I screwed it up.

  44. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-I think the unease you feel may come from the narrative that has developed about don’t make friends at work and a hard hard line between work and personal life. That’s an individual choice. I think we should all be friendly but not have to be friends with folks at work. That said, some of my best friends are from work contexts.

    #2-I agree with Alison that you probably should have let your boss try to sort out of something BUT it also sounds like a pretty messed up place anyway and you just got out on your terms without further anxiety. Office manager sounds like a pill. The other partners putting up with a bully for years (it sounds like) means they were good at that aspect of their job.

    #4-Agreeing with the rest, you should figure out how to make this work. Calendar tech exist that you don’t need 14 back and forth emails to find a date for a group of people. So long as everyone is using their calendar is much easier to arrange your life. One of my faculty imploded on a committee assignment because they scheduled based on calendar availability and he didn’t have his doctor appt on it. It looked free. He lost his mind at the presumption and then I had a ton more work on my plate when he left. You don’t have to put all the gory details of your medical and personal life on your work calendar. Just block the time with a private notice. That easy. This is something to get over.

    #5-Do not use “I’ on your resume. By the same token, don’t use the third person. I saw that once and it was weird. Your professional summary and cover letter are a fine place for I.

  45. Dclarke*

    Physician here. Masks protect the wearer possibly 50% but those around them 90%. My response is usually “I obviously care more about your health than you care about mine“

      1. RagingADHD*

        It’s been 2 years, I am surprised you have not encountered this fact before.

        It has nothing to do with particle size and everything to do with math.

        If the mask-wearer is sick, the mask contains their droplets, preventing them from spreading it.

        If the mask-wearer is well, and surrounded by an unknown number of sick people who may or may not be masking themselves, there is much more exposure and therefore the single mask is statistically less effective on its own.

        1. Dclarke*

          When you breathe out, droplets are caught in the mask. When you inhale, much of your air comes from the edges that may be open. If, however. If you wear an N95 mask, that is sealed around your face and you must inhale through the mask which protects you better but this is uncomfortable to those not used to them,

          1. Will It Ever End?*

            Before N95s were readily available, I wore at least two surgical masks with additional polypropylene liners. I line my N95s too. Amazing what yo can get used to. I have found the prospect of a Covid infection far more uncomfortable than any kind of masking. I worry about folks with masks open on the sides, doesn’t seem like much protection at all to me.

        2. Will It Ever End?*

          Raging, you can quit with the condescension. I said NOTHING about particle SIZE, but yes viruses are infectious particles that are released by respiratory activities. If the mask is porous or ill-fitting, it’s not going to hold them in any better than it will keep them out. You may want to read up on viral load while you are at it, another factor in causing infection. There is math, in that an infected person with a higher viral load has a greater chance of infecting a person with weaker immune system. You may want to read before responding.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      The problem is you can’t say this because they’ll whine about being called selfish.

      1. pancakes*

        It’s not your problem if they do, though! If they want to whine, they can whine to themselves. It isn’t on you to manage their emotions for them.

    2. Alice*

      What a great phrase Dclarke. Not sure if I’ll ever use it, because extending any interaction with antimaskers is not on my to-do list, but I loved reading it.

  46. Ah yes, disease mitigation is ~virtue signaling~*

    I still wear a mask to the office. My supervisor (and mostly friend, regardless of AaM advice) has implied more than once that I might have an anxiety disorder. We shared a conference room recently to fulfill our time-in-office; the company thinks it’s fine to share a meeting room unmasked as long as you’re six feet apart, as well as to prance all about the open floor plan barefaced. She smirked when she saw me eat a few pretzel sticks by slipping them up under my mask while she sat there unmasked all day. Surprise! She never mentioned her husband was running a 104-degree fever with his “allergies”! She of course promptly tested positive, and I fully credit my mask for having kept me negative.

    Most people aren’t confrontational at me — I mask anytime I’m indoors other than my own home, but I don’t go many places — so I haven’t had a chance to try out a response like, “Oh, my religion doesn’t let me sicken and kill people for funsies. Your religion must be so much more fun — what’s your kill count up to?”

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      Beautiful. Except that people like that wouldn’t know; they don’t bother to keep track of the consequences of their negligence.

    2. pancakes*

      I don’t quite understand wanting to be friends with someone who smirks about their own misunderstandings and makes rude little digs at coworkers. Either of those on their own are bad news. A friend doesn’t spuriously accuse you of having an anxiety disorder, for starters, and a decent person doesn’t try to weaponize that if they earnestly think it’s true.

      1. Ah yes, disease mitigation is ~virtue signaling~**

        Before the pandemic, I would’ve just said friend. I lost a lot of respect for her lately. :/

    3. Critical Rolls*

      “Virtue signalling” is a pretty reliable code for “I’m about to construct a strawman, argue in bad faith, beg the question, or do all three simultaneously.”

  47. Will It Ever End?*

    OP, you don’t even have to answer the question. Rude questions don’t require a response. But, “my face, my mask” is good if you must respond. Or, “because the pandemic is not over and other people don’t” will work. No one has dared asked me, and for that I am grateful because maintaining civility would be difficult. I’m high risk and not taking off my N95 for the foreseeable future.

    1. Oakwood*

      ““because the pandemic is not over and other people don’t” will work.”

      No, it won’t.

      This is the kind of objection they are looking for so they can start an argument.

      Your first suggestion (“Because I want to”) is a better response. Nothing to debate here.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Just because they want an argument doesn’t mean you have to let them have one. You can lead with that statement and then cut off anything further with, “That was an answer to your question, not an invitation to debate,” and walk away.

      2. Will It Ever End?*

        Oh, I wouldn’t answer at all! Rudeness gets no response from me. The answer was for op who may feel compelled to respond. BTW, I said “my face my mask”, not “because I want to. I do think both my responses are fine, but I would walk away at that point. No one can force you to engage any further with an a-hole.

  48. ACM*

    OP3: If pressed I cheerfully point out all the benefits of masks. I live in an area known for big beautiful oak trees and in the spring they turn yellow–and turn everything else yellow–with pollen. I have seasonal allergies and masks help cut down on the amount my poor headtubes have to cope with. Couple months ago when it was still very cold, the masks kept my face warm outside. If they don’t accept the cheerful espousal of the benefits, I tell them it helps me mind my own business.

    1. Will It Ever End?*

      Yep, anti-maskers don’t realize that the incidence of flu and other transmissible respiratory ailments has dropped precipitously with the wearing of masks. People are just…resistant to facts.

  49. WantonSeedStitch*

    OP #3: I feel like reminding people that there are folks with different levels of risk out there is important, when it comes to optional mask-wearing. A lot of people simply don’t think about the fact that there are people for whom a case of COVID is not just “a bad cold” and gone in a week. It can be something that could devastate their health, or that of one of their loved ones. But you certainly should feel obliged to disclose personal health information (or that of one of your loved ones). You can talk about a higher level of risk without going into detail. Or, if you don’t have that as an issue, “I just feel safer this way.”

  50. Melody*

    OP3: I just respond lightly, “Oh I’m still being careful” or “I’d rather be safe than sorry”
    My idea is just to convey by my tone, “This is perfectly reasonable and ordinary”

    In my limited experience, it helps people to not see it as a political thing. I live in an area that’s pretty anti-mask, so it would be easy to fire people up, but that wouldn’t achieve my goal of making them 1. Think that those of us masking are just being normal and 2. Planting a doubt as to whether they’re really smart to go unmasked.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      I’m thinking of starting to use, “Because I can’t be sure of what I’m carrying,” in order to get across that it’s for other people’s safety, not just my own, that I mask. It’s for mine and my family’s too, of course; that’s why we stick to the n95s or similarly effective masks at protecting the user, as well as the community. But pointing out that it’s for their sake as well as mine doesn’t sound like a bad idea now that I’m thinking through the options.

  51. bamcheeks*

    LW3: clarify your goals. Do you want to educate the asker, or give them a snappy comeback that puts them in their place, or just move on from the exchange as quickly and gracefully as possible? If it’s the last, something like, “Oh, I prefer to” or “I feel more comfortable” and a change of subject is the quickest route out of there. This doesn’t guarantee people won’t be arseholes, but it means you’ve given them the best possible opportunity to reverse gracefully and as few a handholds as possible. It means they’ve got to REALLY escalate the aggressiveness if they want to make A Thing out of it.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      That was supposed to be threaded too. I’m not sure why, but responses in that specific thread column are consistently ending up as independent comments. I apologize for the confusion!

  52. Oakwood*

    Re: quitting your job.

    You fell into the HR person’s trap.

    They wanted you to quit so they wouldn’t have to deal with the situation with the bully manager, so she rephrased you statement as “I’ll quit before I’ll work with him”. And, you did quit.

  53. WantonSeedStitch*

    Oh, I almost forgot the VERY BEST response to “why are you wearing a mask?”
    “It’s just they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      My foster kid comes from a family where nobody wore masks (or got vaccinated; ugh) but has taken them up eagerly since moving in with us. They explained to me, “They’re great for my social anxiety, because I don’t have to worry about what my face is showing. I might just keep wearing them forever.”

      I hope they reach a point where they don’t feel they need a mask to manage their social anxiety, but it was an interesting answer, and reminded me that there really can be ALL sorts of different reasons why people wear them, not just Covid!

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Definitely many reasons. Being a woman, it cuts down on how often I’m told to “smile” by random men on the street!

  54. PosturePal*

    “When did people stop managing their own calendars?”

    I…you’re a journalist, right? Interviewing people. presumably that involves a lot of high-level people with very busy schedules who have assistants as part of their job. And your job is to talk to this person about whatever and then write it up.

    I just…I don’t get the confusion about this, nor do I get the confusion and hate (from other letter writers) about Calendly, Doodle, etc. I used to be a journalist and I used to be an admin assistant who managed other people’s calendars. I just don’t get the aggro over all of this.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      You don’t get why people wouldn’t like to have to install an app they didn’t personally check for safety on their phone in order to schedule a conversation with somebody? Or be forced into signing up for marketing emails they don’t want? Those look like what’s getting most of the hate to me.

      1. Observer*

        Please. That’s a total red herring. Calendar invites generally do NOT require that. Neither do Calendly, Doodle or any of the major reputable apps.

        The OP makes their objections pretty clear, and they are NOT about these apps or mailing lists.

      2. anonforthis*

        The scheduling service I use don’t require you to install anything or sign up for any lists.

        Also, I’m not sure if LW 4’s pain point is dealing with shitty apps or the fact that he doesn’t like sending or receiving meeting invites. From his letter it sounds like a mixture of both, but they are separate issues.

      3. Unaccountably*

        Have you personally checked every single app on your phone for safety? Really, every single one? How?

        I have an Outlook calendar and a Google calendar, one for work and one for home. Neither has forced me to sign up for a marketing email, ever. People who use apps that make them sign up for marketing emails, whatever those apps might be, chose those apps over ones that don’t do that, so it’s not much use complaining when you could have signed up for something with no spam.

    2. anonforthis*

      Not a journalist but I used to do market research and regularly set up interviews with people. I would create the Calendly link and sent it to people, but always gave them the option to arrange a meeting by email. It worked out really nicely and I don’t get the issue. I do think if you are the one requesting an interview, you should be the one to organize and schedule the meeting and thus get to decide how to do that, so this shouldn’t be a problem for the OP at all.

      1. BigHairNoHeart*

        Just wanted to say, your suggestion of sending a Calendy link + the option to arrange a meeting by email when trying to schedule something is a really nice solution to the problem of different people preferring different things!

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Agreed with both @anonforthis and @BigHairNoHeart, I tend to send both a list of potential days/times AND a Calendly (or different platform if it’s a larger group).

        The latter is useful as a backup, since I tend to give 1-2 weeks worth of options (otherwise the list makes the email ridiculously long).

        But then I do ALSO follow-up with an actual calendar invite with meeting info (e.g., agenda, conference call), which sounds like it would piss off a significant portion of the commenters here, including LW4.

    3. Unaccountably*

      I’m bewildered too. It’s so strange to be angered by convenience.

      I have a theory that there are two types of people when it comes to calendars. One type, when you say the word “calendar,” picture leather-bound paper with entries written with a fountain pen, saying things like “Lunch with DP and the gang, Algonquin” “Pick up dry cleaning” “Board meeting at Standard Oil” “Dinner with Valentino – wear blue dress!!!”, and at some point that calendar will be used to either free them or hang them when they’re on the stand in a murder trial. Someone putting a meeting on your Outlook calendar is therefore like someone getting hold of your leather-bound calendar and scribbling on it with a Bic so you can’t write on that line.

      The second type just wants to sit down at their desk in the morning, open up an app, and see what they’ve got scheduled for the day, and maybe whether they need to leave early to pick up the dog from daycare. The amount of personal investment in the sanctity of their pixels is going to be much different from the first group.

  55. Oakwood*

    Re: mask wearer.

    Once again, the easiest way to answer a rude question is with another question.

    Rude person: Why are you wearing a mask?
    You: Why do you ask?

    1. pancakes*

      That is an easy way to be drawn into conversation with someone who beefs with strangers. In my experience, conversation with people who try to beef with strangers is best avoided!

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        With strangers, I prefer the alternate question of, “Do I know you?”

        Because, no.

  56. PosturePal*

    “I really don’t feel like I should have to explain.”
    I mean, you don’t have to? Just say “because I like to” or even nothing at all?

  57. RagingADHD*

    LW3, there are a number of suggestions for starting arguments and being as offensive as possible, and Alison’s suggestion that you take on the burden of attempting to educate people who have already spent 2 years ignoring the reams of public messaging that people have different risk levels.

    If you would rather people just leave you alone, the quickest and simplest thing to say is, “It’s a personal decision.”

    This is a polite way of saying that you aren’t going to discuss your reasons (because they aren’t anyone’s business.)

    LW4, I suspect the reason people ask you to adjust the calendar invites is because you have everything set up to do manually.

    For my own work, I’m happy to discuss times and compare calendars on the phone, but I work with a lot of clients who flake out, or who say our project is their top priority but then disappear for weeks.

    I used to drive myself crazy trying to chase them and pin down a meeting, until I realized I can’t care about the project FOR them. I send out the scheduling link to put the ball in their court, because unless they are willing to take initiative this thing won’t happen. It’s like trying to push a rope.

    If you’re sick of juggling, the best way to fight fire with fire is to get a scheduling app of your own and send it out so the other party is doing the comparing and picking.

  58. MCMonkeyBean*

    I think how LW2 feels about this resignation is ultimately going to depend on how long it takes you to find a new job, which hopefully right now won’t be too long!

    It does seem a bit early if the partners didn’t have a chance to work things out. But if there was already one associate you really didn’t want to work with, and now you have hit a point where you no longer feel comfortable working with the office manager–that’s not insignificant and bad coworkers are not a terrible reason to leave. It sounds like whether you would have to work with the associate was still up in the air, but I assume you have to work with that office manager a lot. And even if the partners were planning to have a talk with them, you felt the trust was broken and that is not likely to be fixed.

    So whether or not you made the right choice isn’t really something anyone here can say, but I definitely don’t think you did anything *wrong.* It sounds like at the least you handled it professionally and things with your partner ended on good terms. Hopefully they can be a good reference for you. Good luck!

    1. Lana Kane*

      I agree with this answer. It’s possible that staying would have been similar to the frog in the boiling pot story – the temperature slowly rises, and the frog stays in the pot because the changes are gradual. The pot might not have been boiling, but it was starting to simmer.

      If her boss’s reply to her notice was “good for you”…I’m pretty sure the boiling point would become an inevitability.

  59. Mehitabel*

    Add me to the list of people who are annoyed by calendar apps. I recently hired a team of consultants to work with me on a big project, and they are great, but 100% of the effort to schedule our ongoing meetings falls on my shoulders because they just send me a link and tell me to find a time. Yeah… that bugs me.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      How would you prefer they do it? And have you communicated that to them?

      To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve seen any suggestions of a better way to approach scheduling a meeting from commenters who dislike the calendar apps, so I’d really like to hear what you (specific you, though others are welcome to add their thoughts) would prefer.

      1. Elsajeni*

        I’ve noticed before that there seems to be a divide between people who see a calendar invite more like a summons — “this person has Scheduled me for 11 am on Tuesday, guess I’m stuck with that” — and people who see it more like a suggestion — “this person has proposed we meet at 11 am on Tuesday, I’ll accept that if it works for me but if it doesn’t I’ll suggest Wednesday instead.” I wonder if there’s also an element of that coming up in how people look at Calendly links or being sent someone else’s availability or whatever — you are not necessarily married to using the scheduling method that the other person suggested, any more than you’re married to the time they suggested! Of course this is also a relationship management thing and you don’t want to be a pain with, e.g., someone you’re asking for a favor, but if you really hate dealing with Calendly or struggle to make the tech work or whatever, you can just email back “Is Wednesday at 2 pm okay for you?” or “Sorry, I had trouble with the link — here are three times that work for me, are any of those good on your end?” or send back YOUR calendar link and ask THEM to pick a time.

  60. Generic Name*

    #4 instead of thinking of it as managing other people’s calendars, think of it as managing invitations/schedules for individual meetings/events. If you are organizing a meeting, you set the time/date and place, right? It’s useful for you to have control over the calendar invite in case anything changes. The meeting room you reserved isn’t available for whatever reason? Update the location and it goes to the invitees automatically. If it’s a remote meeting, it’s useful for the organizer to be able to send out the link with the calendar slot. That way you know everyone has the correct information, and nobody is fumbling through their inbox when the meeting is starting trying to find the link. Need to cancel at the last minute? The cancellation notice goes out to everyone’s calendars simultaneously.

    1. Lexi Lynn*

      And it handles time zones, having to calculate the time for a bunch of timezones gets old quickly. How about noon EDT, 10 MDT, 7:30 pm IST amd which timezone is Arizona doing now? Blech.

  61. Erin*

    I don’t care at all about calendar links being sent, being the person who schedules, or when someone else books time on my calendar. It just seems to be the evolution of how meetings are scheduled.

    I always assume that if I’m asking for someone else’s time, I’ll be doing the scheduling. Then I ask if there is a preferred day/time, and schedule accordingly, typically with a link to talking points that both of us can edit before the meeting. Also, I always tell meeting requesters that my calendar is up to date, and to schedule at their convenience. If either party needs to propose a new day/time between meeting scheduling date and actual meeting, that is fine.

    My colleagues seem to all use this method, and it seems to be pretty efficient. If anyone else has a better mousetrap for this, please lmk!

  62. Database Developer Dude*

    When asked why I’m still wearing a mask, I usually respond with the truth: “I have an immunocompromised person at home that I’m protecting by wearing this”. That usually winds up with someone asking me why I don’t just stay home then. As if I can afford to do so. It goes downhill from there.

    Just saying “MYOB” shouldn’t be off the table.

  63. moonstone*

    Re calendar invites: I don’t understand the issue with this? Calendar invites are efficient and decrease risk of miscommunication around the timing of the meeting. You can always create your own appointment on your calendar with your own notes?

    In terms of etiquette, I think the person initiating the meeting should send the invite but allow the other person input on the meeting agenda, but I like that if someone else has to change the timing of a meeting, they can directly do it through the calendar invite.

    1. Legacy EA*

      Yes, this is 100% why group calendar invites are superior to personal calendar invites. As a former executive assistant at an Ivy League university, there was an old vanguard that refused to take group calendar invites and this created an obligation to send multiple meeting confirmation and reminder emails to ensure everyone had the right day, time, attendee list, agenda, and Zoom link/conference room. If not, sometimes people just didn’t show up, and then the ADMIN is blamed!

      I agree it’s annoying when people just slap meetings on your calendar, but you are justified in responding with a similar level of rudeness by declining, with or without comment. I could write a damn book on scheduling meetings/calendars but it boils down to:
      1. Defensive calendaring — block your lunch, appointments and heads’ down time
      2. Share your calendar — your boss and close colleagues should be able to see event details, everyone else in the department should get busy/free access. You can set personal or sensitive meetings to private and the details will be hidden.
      3. Use Doodle or similar when scheduling with a large group — this has the perk of publicly shaming people that provide extremely limited availability (but this can also be set to private if it’s for senior colleagues).

  64. Sheera*

    There is one person who works in my building who is very anti-mask. He reminded me that I didn’t need to wear a mask anymore and that “I needed to just rely on my glorious immune system, so take off that mask! You’re young, why do you need it?!” I’m in a high risk group and I rather be safe than sorry for awhile longer. I stated to him, “I would, but my immune system is anything but glorious.” Then I reminded him of the e-mail sent by HR that we are not to question why or why anyone is wearing a mask. He hasn’t said a word to me about it again. Nor to anyone else who has worn it.

  65. JelloStapler*

    Is the office manager your boss? Seems she is making some decisions that are not hers alone to make.

  66. GoryDetails*

    Re LW3: I live in an area where the mask mandates are off for most places (hospitals and some individual businesses excepted). I still mask, and haven’t had anyone ask me why, but I’ve heard enough accounts of other people being confronted or outright harrassed that I did give some thought to what I’d say. What I came up with?

    “It doesn’t hurt me and it might help others.”

    It would be intended to convey that I’m not suffering mask-discomfort (if that’s what they’re fretting about) and that masks mainly do help others rather than the wearer. Would it stop the militant anti-mask folk? Probably not, but – so far – I haven’t run into any of those.

  67. Lobsterman*

    OP2: You’re fine. As soon as you got on bully’s radar, your time at that firm was over. Go ahead and file for unemployment, and when they contest it, say that it was a hostile work environment and that the office manager fired you for saying you didn’t want to be harassed.

    OP3: There’s nothing you can say. These people are looking for a fight with a stranger. Either you’re in the mood to give them one or you’re not. “My spouse has cancer” might shut them up, but it might not!

    1. RagingADHD*

      Good grief. Lying to the unemployment office is hardly going to make the LW2s life better. None of that is remotely true.

      Even their own bosses wouldn’t back them up on that.

      1. Lobsterman*

        The way I read that letter, the office manager fired her and demanded a resignation instead.

        1. RagingADHD*

          And they immediately went to their supervisor and determined that the OM was full of crap.

      2. Not So Super-visor*

        Agreed. I don’t think that they understand the definition for a “hostile work environment.” Based on what OP is describing, this doesn’t meet the criteria. Unpleasant work environment – yes. Toxic work environment – yes.

  68. FattyMPH*

    I think Alison missed the mark a bit with OP3. She’s not wrong that answering honestly would be doing a public service but I think her viewpoint is overly optimistic and unaware of the pervasiveness of everyday ableism. The reality of ableism means “My doctor wants me to” is likelier to be seen as an invitation to discuss the mask wearer’s medical issues than it is to be received as a final answer. High risk folks and disabled people more broadly are not obligated to discuss our health issues for the benefit of people who don’t share them or care about us, especially when they are approaching with hostility — and I would argue that asking why someone is wearing a mask at this point is inherently hostile. If I were in a workplace, I would be more inclined to respond along the lines of “Why do you ask?” or “Why aren’t you?” or “I’m protecting you from my germs” or “I’m not interested in discussing my attire with you.”

  69. Evelyn Carnahan*

    OP3, I live in an area that has been very anti-mask since the beginning of Covid. I am often the only person still wearing a mask when I go out. I have been asked a couple of times by the students I work with if I’m required to wear a mask as a university employee (no), and when that happens I explain to them that I work in a role that requires a lot of interaction with people I don’t know who usually aren’t wearing a mask. I wear a mask and will continue to wear masks because it keeps me from sharing my germs and protects me from other peoples’ germs. I also remind them that there are a lot of illnesses out there besides Covid and masks protect me from those too.

    I have yet to be asked or accosted by a total stranger, although I have been expecting that for a year now. My plan for when that does happen is to cough and tell them I have Covid.

  70. cubone*

    I worked at a company for 10ish years and I found the calendar convention changed right around the middle of that (like mid-late 2010s to present?).

    One thing I noticed as a side effect of the calendar sharing/expectation to “book time in my calendar” (vs providing specific time preferences) was a huuuuuuuuuge increase in gossip about who was meeting with who. Firings were circulated before they happened. Promotions were guessed at based on who the promotee was meeting with in a short period of time. It was really terrible and I hated it, but at the same time, people put this stuff explicitly in their calendar and then told others to look at it!!! It’s hard to blame them.

  71. Dinwar*

    In regards to meetings, I’m pretty averse to tech–I still have a flip phone–but I love calendar scheduling programs. The way I look at it, the meeting invite serves the purpose of the email/phone call asking “Will this time work for you?” If not, they can reschedule it with no more effort than it would take to send an email saying they want it rescheduled. Or they can tell me they don’t want to have the meeting; had that happen a few times. The scheduling program is HOW I manage my schedule. I have a paper day planner as well, but that’s to mesh work and home schedules.

    My only issue with them is that the one my company uses puts all invites onto your schedule, so I have to check every day to see if there’s something unexpected, or worse have Outlook scream at me “You have a meeting in 15 minutes!!!” It sets the default as, if you’re invited you are expected to show up. And it should be the opposite: I’m not expected to show up until I commit myself. My company has tens of thousands of people, and I get random invites to things with no bearing on my job all the time; I couldn’t do my job and attend all these meetings!!

  72. Dinwar*

    #1: One of my closest friends is someone I met at work. Fortunately for us our careers have developed on parallel but not overlapping paths, so there’s no conflict of interest–though our DM for our weekly D&D game does occasionally have to cut off shop talk! As long as neither of you is managing the other, this is perfectly normal human behavior, and is not just allowed, but good for everyone. I can tell you that my relationship with my friend has saved the company a great deal of money, more than enough to compensate for our occasional chit-chat!

    I would take this even further: The fact that you’re questioning whether making friends at work is allowed suggests that something is wrong with your company. Again, it’s basic human nature to form connections with people. Everywhere I’ve worked allows it, and some actively encouraged it–groups of friends tend to be more efficient (as long as they actually do the work). I’m probably in the minority here, but I can’t imagine working for a company where I’m expected to come in, shut up, put my head down, and work without making human connections to the people I’m spending half my waking hours with!

    1. Former Gremlin Herder*

      OP1 here-thanks for the insight! I think you’re right that making friends at work is absolutely a normal human thing, and while there are things about my company that I don’t like, I don’t think this is a company thing but more of a “specific to me/my position/my weirdness about social things” thing. My best friend and I worked together for years and I’ve made plenty of friends while working here–I actually had to reign it in a bit after building friendships with somone I was managing! My new position is more isolated (think creating trainings/support documents vs directly interacting with students) and it means everything is a bit different; I don’t see people day in and day out like I used to and while I’m not managing anybody, I do give trainings and support to people. I also tend to be a little more guarded in this environment because the people who work here, while lovely, tend to be older/in a different stage of life/on a wildly different part of the political spectrum than me.

      I’m more on your side in general, but as I alluded to above, I think it’s important to be careful while you form work friendships becuase so much can be affected by them. I’ve also been in positions where outside of work team bonding was more or less mandated, which wasn’t healthy either. It’s such a tough balance to get, but ultimtaely I do like working in a place where I can make friends!

  73. MondayMolly*

    Late to the conversation Re #3. I still wear a mask in public places. Fortunately, no one has asked me why but if/when it happens, I’ll just respond with a, “I like not being sick.”

  74. Oryx*

    As someone who has to schedule a lot of external interviews for her job, I *wish* I had access to more calendars or more calendar links. Instead it’s a lot of back and forth emails — and by nature of the the people I’m interviewing, I’m not in direct contact with them but several layers of assistants and agents, etc. which then has to go back to the first person and it’s like one big game of telephone.

    And I do manage my own calendar, in that I keep it up to date with all of the meetings and personal appointments, etc. That includes blocking off time when I’m in “head down work mode” to show I’m unavailable. Which is why it’s easiest for me to just tell people to schedule something whenever they find a time that fits with their own schedule. My manager is the only person in my organization who can see what I’m doing when, everyone else just sees that I’m busy.

  75. Water Everywhere*

    LW3, I am also still wearing a mask and although so far I haven’t had anyone question it, I do have a response ready: “Because I want to.” Simple, direct, & hard to argue with.

    Now, if someone did push back on my answer I plan to go straight to MYOB and say “You worry about your own face and let me worry about mine”.

  76. Irish Teacher.*

    When one of my students commented on my wearing a mask, I reminded them that the mask is primarily to protect those around us, not ourselves. Of course, I am in a position of authority and am not answerable to my students but you could say something like “I don’t know what the health status of our clients/coworkers are and I would prefer not to put them at risk in case any are vulnerable/unvaccinated/caring for/living with somebody vulnerable.”

  77. Doctor Dread*

    OP3, I test regularly at work, because it’s free and easy there. So my response is always, “I’m waiting for the results of a COVID test.” That shuts up absolutely everyone and reminds them that things aren’t over and that they don’t know a thing about other people’s circumstances.

  78. Hannah Lee*

    For the mask question, my personal go to for “nosy” questions, which in most cases this is, would be:

    “Why do you ask?”

    Because the response to that question usually reveals the person’s motivation for asking the question. Are they gearing up for a confrontation, are they a nosy-parker, are they someone who is genuinely interested in why someone else is making a different choice than they did?

    Though this past weekend I wasn’t feeling like playing Q & A with a stranger so I just gave a kind of honest answer at the moment: I have a head cold* and don’t want to spread it to anyone. Granted, I’ve been wearing a mask anytime I’m out and about in public indoors, or gathered with non-immediate family.

    I used to think I’d give a snarky answer, like “Are you my doctor? my husband? my mother? No? Then what do you care?” or “Sheeple International will revoke my membership if I don’t” but I quickly figured out that someone asking that question is someone I want to engage with LESS not more, so I usually just ignore the question and go about my day. (I’ve only been asked a couple of times over the last couple of years … though did interrupt when some old dude was hounding teens working check out at a local farm stand about why they were wearing masks. I figured they likely didn’t feel comfortable shutting him down since he was a customer, but I could move him along by walking my mask wearing self up to the counter he was blocking and plunking down my corn and tomatoes.)

    *I’ve tested 3 times since I started having cold symptoms – all negative, I work with 2 people who had a head cold the week before, the symptoms are very head-cold-y, we’re all vaccinated, they tested negative multiple times too, so I’m pretty comfortable it’s just a head cold.

  79. Bookworm*

    #2: Only you know if you resigned too soon or not. I personally disagree with some of the comments–maybe it would have been good to wait to see what your boss could do, but I was getting the impression that this was a sort of last straw, especially if there needed to be a long-overdue conversation. And even if you did stay and worked it out, I wouldn’t want to be around that office manager, because yikes. So it does sound like you did what was best for you.

    Again, ultimately you really know what was best. I do hope this works out for you!! Good luck.

  80. Llama face!*

    OP #3, here are a few suggestions (some more tongue-in-cheek than others):
    “Because we’re in a pandemic…?”
    “It’s not a mask, it’s an a hole detector. Looks like it’s working!”
    “What are you talking about? This is just my face.”
    “Because my limit for how many people I kill or disable is 0.”
    “I like to stay healthy”
    “It’s a fashion statement.”
    “Wait! You can still see me?”
    “Recent studies show chances of getting Long COVID for unvaxxed folks is up to 25% and half that for vaccinated. I’m not comfortable with a 12.5% chance of long-term side effects.”
    “I ran out of lipstick.”

    1. Llama face!*

      I am assuming that 99% of the time the asker is not asking a genuine question but trying to start something or bully me into removing my mask so they really aren’t interested in a genuine answer. But, in the case of people who are genuinely misinformed by my crappy government’s misleading messages, I trot out the actual statistics we have re: deaths and hospitalizations (currently both very high :'( ) which they likely haven’t heard about.

      1. Boof*

        I think this is the first year we’ve had a bimodal flu distribution- went down in the middle with an omicron surg and increased masking and precautions, rose again when the surge was done and precautions relaxed. I cheerily broadcast I’m still masking in most indoor public places because i like not being sick! (And of course not getting other people sick)

  81. Amber T*

    I’m working on a huge project with a vendor who has those “schedule a meeting with me” links, so I’ve been using those quite a bit lately. On the one hand, there’s a certain internal entitled feeling I have that’s like “hey, I’m the customer and you’re the vendor here, you should be working with me and my schedule and schedule appointments with me.” On the other hand, it’s sooooo much easier one my end to just… schedule an appointment when convenient for me, write in the invite that I want to talk about X, and then it’s done. No back and forth, no “are you free at 3?” or “I have a conflict then, what about Tuesday?” I don’t think it’ll work for every instance and with every vendor, but honestly, I’m really enjoying not pulling my hair out trying to schedule meetings.

  82. The German chick*

    #3 How about: „I don’t want to get sick and risk taking somebody’s hospital spot“?

  83. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    #3: I think there is precious little point in trying to educate anyone who doesn’t want to wear a mask at this point. They’ve heard all the reasons and have made up their mind, so there is no point wasting your time and sanity on trying to effect a “social good”. Just say something non-committal like “I’m used to it now” or “because I want to” and leave it at that.

    Health experts the world over have been trying to persuade people to take preventive measures for what, two years now? Why would you giving a lecture at this point change anything? It’s not worth the effort on your part to try to persuade them.

  84. quill*

    LW3: Every last one of these is a terrible idea, but I thought you could use a laugh, so… “Why are you (still) wearing a mask?”

    – *heavy dracula accent* It prevents people from seeing my fangs
    – Because I’m allergic to nosy people *fake sneeze*
    – It’s stuck and won’t come off
    – To save everyone here from my bad breath
    – That’s classified
    – *fake gasp* I am? I had no idea!
    – It makes me harder to pick out of a lineup
    – To keep me from biting people

  85. I Speak for the Trees*

    This may have been mentioned in regards to masks; I read many, but not all the comments…
    I feel like the response might be geared to why (at it least it seems like) the person is asking. I wear masks in most public, indoor spaces. Our office however, is small enough in staff, but large enough in square footage (with many separate offices) so that we no longer wear masks. That said, if I came in and saw someone wearing a mask, I would likely suspect that someone had been exposed and feel like it’s fair to be warned about it. Many of the businesses on our area have similar situations, so sometimes I do see people wearing a masks in places where others are not and it makes me worry. I would probably ask about it. Granted, I would probably go about with something like, “Should I be masked, too?” but I can see how “why are you wearing a mask” could also mean, “Do I have anything to worry about.”

  86. Not So Super-visor*

    LW2: the way the office manager reacted reminds of what’s referred to as “refusing a reasonable work assignment” in the union environment that I work in. If the supervisor/manager assigns an employee a task within the scope of their job and the employee refuses to do it, they ask you again. If the employee still refuses, they’ll wait 5-10 minutes and ask again. If the employee still refuses, the manager will use the specific wording “Are you refusing a reasonable work assignment?” At this point, if the employee still refuses, it’s considered insubordination and can be up for discipline up to termination. I assume that OP is not in a union environment, but I wonder if that’s the line of thinking for the OM.

  87. Dragon*

    OP 3: In a few days I’m going to my first indoor concert since the pandemic started.

    If I get asked about a mask, I’m thinking of a response like, “I’m following the venue’s recommendation to wear it.” (The venue isn’t requiring masks, but it is strongly recommending wearing them.)

  88. Vincent*

    When I’ve been asked why I’m wearing a mask, I’ve straight up said, “Because there’s a pandemic.” If they tell me the mandates have been lifted, I say yes, I know, and let it hang there. If they’re rude or I’m feeling snarky, I’ve said I don’t like to let the government tell me what to do with my body. (That one’s fun.)

  89. Majnoona*

    Two things I’d like to say, but don’t. 1) Why *aren’t* you wearing a mask? and 2) more for you than for me! I spent the day with someone who then tested positive, but hey it’s been almost two days I don’t feel anything – and then take the mask off. What I would say, which is true, 1 I’m going to another country soon and I want to get in and 1 I live with someone who is immunocompromised.

  90. Anonymoose*

    For #2, if the job hunt isn’t going well and/or you’re not happy with the companies you’re seeing is it possible you can reach out the partner you used to work with/for? just check in with them, maybe bring up the situation and how it may have gotten out of hand/ miss working with them/ or if they have any contacts looking for support staff/etc. I would think that they would have counseled you against resigning if they thought that was hasty but maybe they just felt it was out of their hands and it was your choice to make. depends on if you had a friendly/understanding relationship with them. maybe they can find a way to rehire you or maybe they hire you outside of the firm or maybe they have another attorney they can connect you with or something.

    For #4 I’m also confused about the “issue” and Allison’s response. I understand that scheduling for a group can be frustrating but that doesn’t seem to be whats going on here. Maybe it would help to think of it less like you’re sharing a calendar with this person but instead you’re sharing an event with them – you still keep your separate calendars.

    Possible solutions: If you can’t keep private notes on the event then having a event noted as “free vs busy” beforehand could be a way to keep those handy. And if they send you their invite with their notes maybe ask them to do the same so you don’t have to see their notes or just do your best to ignore them. In terms of adjusting the event that would be based on how much authority you give the invitee to make changes to the shared calendar event. If you don’t give them any authority then they are going to have to contact you to request/inform you that the event needs to be moved or to end early. I also think that if you are reaching out to a source for information (so they are doing you a service by meeting with you) that they send a tool to see all of their available times isn’t unreasonable, you can also do the same thing if you are using the same calendar system by searching for their calendar – the only other option is to play calendar bingo (tic-tac-to?) until you both land on a day/time/duration that both works for your schedules (doesn’t that sound like more work/time consuming?). In regards to the constant changing of event details this may be an area where boundaries need to be set (depending on how much authority you give the invitee to edit the shared calendar event), either when you schedule something like “my schedule is very busy, so this event is set – if any changes need to be made then we may need to cancel all together” or can you set something for yourself like a three strikes rule – if they suggest a change to the event three times then I will have cancel all together. I get that that this might be different/difficult with news sources but some of the frustration seems to be that they don’t stick to a schedule and keep expecting you to be flexible – at some point I would be annoyed too, but I would have to determine how best to set that boundary because my time is valuable too.

    In comparison to the “old days” when you would both pencil in an event like a meeting wouldn’t you still have to call the other person to make any changes to the meeting? You wouldn’t just show up two hours later and say “oh I thought my ESP let you know we were rescheduling”

  91. anonforthis*

    OP 2: The office manager’s response is really weird! Why is she pressuring/gaslighting you into quitting? Why is she invested in this?

    It seems like you are out of a bad situation regardless, but next time don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself if someone is pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to do originally. You should have taken your supervisor’s word for it when she said she would look into it.

  92. MeepMeep02*

    OP 3: “I’m wearing pants and a shirt, too. And shoes. And none of those things bother me. I haven’t thrown a fit about having to wear a clothing item since I was 2.”

    These people aren’t asking in good faith and aren’t looking for a nice answer.

  93. Giles*

    #3 horrible horrible advice here.I have multiple risk factors for Covid if I get it including metastatic cancer. And it is nobody’s business why I am wearing a mask. There isn’t a person on the planet who doesn’t know why someone is wearing a mask. The only reason someone is asking is to be an asshole. And we are not obligated to explain ourselves to assholes. Replying to this question legitimizes it. And it is not a legitimate question to ask. If anyone asks me why am wearing a mask, I will give them an absolute death stare.

    Why anyone is suggesting that you engage with people who ask you this is beyond me. It is certainly not OK to expect marginalized people, like the disabled or chronically ill, to have to explain themselves to people. This might be the worst answer I’ve ever seen on this site

  94. Ellena*

    Lw2: the bully you should have stood up to is the office manager. WTF is with the assumptions the are making about your career? I agree with Alison that if you already had a tough time at the office, quitting was right. But not because of this instance alone. Your suggestion about the workaround was very reasonable and I think could have been implemented. Or something else the partners come up. But no worries, there’s tons of jobs out there and I’m sure you’ll soon get enough offers. Sending you courage!

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

    #3 – I had someone in a store recently ask why I was wearing a mask and the first response that popped in my head was, “Personal preference.” They seriously did not know what to do with that. What, are they going to tell me I’m not allowed to have a person preference? Am I dumb or misguided or mindless for preferring something?

    I mean, it’s not the full truth, but it’s not UNtrue and they clearly were not prepared for that response. So, I’m suggesting it to everyone now.

    (I did later come up with much snarkier responses like, “I’ve gone two years without strangers thinking I want to be asked random questions in grocery stores and I prefer it that way” as well as “This is a passive-aggressive stick-up. I wear the mask, stand in line quietly to purchase my groceries, and when someone walks up to me, I rob them.” But “personal preference” is probably the best choice for non-imaginary interactions :D)

  96. iCal Gal*

    #4 I am so with you on these stupid calendar invites. If someone can’t manage their own calendar, they should hire an assistant. I would be curious to know whether the men who frequently demand calendar invites from me would make that same demand if I were also a man, as these requests usually feel sexist to me. Even worse is when they want it in a specific program. I use iCal, I don’t know how to send a Google calendar invite.

  97. Never Boring*

    Yep, when my office announced a) required hybrid after nearly 2 years of 100% remote for most people in my position, and b) no mask requirement while doing so, that was when I marched to my doc and had him sign the ADA accommodation request form. I have a quite well-documented risk factor (plus a couple of less well-documented ones), and luckily my employer realized that it was going to be a losing argument if they denied my request (and that I would likely just go out and get any one of the zillions of available 100% remote jobs in my field, and they would have a bitch of a time replacing me because my particular skillset is in high demand and I have recruiters contacting me all the time). I really do miss seeing other adults in person during the workday, but we aren’t there yet. And if anyone thinks I am neurotic, I’d rather be neurotic than end up in the hospital or with long COVID.

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