a parent called me to ask about their adult kid’s work travel

A reader writes:

I just had a very strange phone call. An employee’s father emailed me, asking me to call him. Since the employee (who I’ll call George) is currently out of the country on business, I was worried that something had happened to him, so I called back right away. George’s father was very cagey, but finally came out that he wanted to find out if George had been “properly briefed” about the dangers … of his travel? of his job in general? I think he was focused on the travel, but he refused to be specific about his concern. For the record, our work not dangerous, nor is the place the employee is visiting dangerous.

I asked if George knew he was calling and he said no, and that he didn’t want him to know. I told him that we are not in the habit of talking to employee’s family members without their consent, and that if he had a concern he should bring it up to his son himself. I am more than happy to talk to the employee if he is concerned, but I didn’t feel comfortable talking to his dad. I ended up telling Dad that I would pass his contact information along to George’s boss but that he shouldn’t necessarily expect a call back.

Was that the right thing to say? I plan to talk to George’s boss, and we’ll see what he wants to do, but I do not want to get into a conversation with Dad about what “briefing” his son has or has not had. Am I right to feel that way? If we don’t want to get into it, should we call or email him again to express that, or just forget it ever happened? Do I tell George about the call?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 170 comments… read them below }

  1. SometimesALurker*

    I remember this one from when it first ran, and it makes me so uncomfortable (the situation, not the OP’s assessment of it or Alison’s answer!). I feel like this has red flags that the dad is indeed estranged or semi-estranged and that he’s trying to get more information on his son’s location. I think the reason I feel that way is that once someone crosses a professional boundary as badly as calling their adult child’s office with something like this, you start to wonder just how deep the problem goes.

    1. MB*

      Alternatively, this also screams “They sent George to Chicago/Portland/insert other punching bag city and the news channels I watch/politicians I support say it’s very dangerous there” to me

      1. Kit*

        Yeah, I instantly thought of Fox News’ “muslim no-go zones” nonsense that had various people freaked out about Birmingham or wherever.

        1. Waterfire*

          Yeah that was about Birmingham, and it was wild. They directly pulled that noise out of their backsides, thinking we wouldn’t call them out on it?!?

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes my family living there were most amused by it all. They had no idea they lived in a no-go zone. I mean they’ve been living there for most of their lives without noticing it.

      2. Antilles*

        The original letter had a bunch of commenters speculating that it was a fear of “terrorism”. There had been small handful of highly publicized terrorist attacks in the few years prior to the letter posting, so the thought was that the dad had basically just fed off the media hype and thought terrorism was super common.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I have been to places where formal travel risk assessments and strict security protocols are advisable, to worksites where observance of safety rules is essential (or both), and would never expect my parents to call my employer – and they never did. No, I’m just an engineer, not a secret agent or mercenary, so a call would not put me in danger other than being ridiculed, but still…

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        I recently took my wife and kid to a play in Baltimore, in a very gentrified neighborhood full of twenty-somethings. My mother-in-law was very concerned, what with all the gun play in the big scary city. This is a real problem. Not the gun play, but the irrational fear. There are in fact some neighborhoods I would not walk at night, much less by happy about my wife and kid walking at night. The notion that this is universal throughout the city limits is absurd. The idea that employee’s dad had similar irrational fears is entirely plausible.

        In related news, it is argued that the Orioles’ attendance is down due to this kind of fear. On the other hand the team’s win-loss record provides ample explanation, so who knows?

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          My friend who lives in Pennsylvania mentioned recently that his mother had a similar concern about New York, and he said he sort of got it but also didn’t feel he could live in fear. So yeah, plausible to me too.

          1. Pool Lounger*

            My dad, who was born on Long Island, was worried when I moved to NYC and relieved when I moved back south. I had to explain that my new neighborhood in NC has a much higher crime rate than my old Brooklyn neighborhood, and that walking around at night was way, way safer in NYC.

          2. kitryan*

            My dad’s convinced that I’ll get pushed onto the subway tracks because of recent news stories (especially if I’m traveling after 7pm).

            1. womanaroundtown*

              I mean, I was born and raised in NYC, my Dad has lived in Manhattan over 50 years, and he still got weird last week when I mentioned I was seeing a friend for dinner in Harlem (there have been an increase in shootings in the area we were going to, but COME ON). I am 32. I live alone in Brooklyn.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                It’s not just about crime. My parents were freaked out about Omicron when I traveled to Africa this past January. By January, the city where I live in the United States had a FAR higher rate of Covid due to the Omicron spike than the countries in Africa where I was traveling had… they had largely gotten it under control by that point (plus I was almost entirely outdoors in the bush, with very few people around me anyway).

        2. Anon for 2022.05.09*

          Around 2008-ish we visited family in NJ who were kind enough to take us around NYC before cutting us loose on our own. My husband made a really tasteless joke about NYC crime* to which his uncle replied, “Son, go back to Richmond if you want to see that kind of thing.”

          That’s why I love Uncle Jack.

          *Too many movies and episodes of Law & Order

            1. Virginia Plain*

              Oh is that a fake university they use on law and order so as not to besmirch the hood name of a real one? I love the show but wouldn’t know it was made up as never been to New York or indeed the US.
              I’ll trade you a similar one – ever watch Inspecter Morse or Lewis? They work for Oxford Police – but there’s no such force; Oxford is within the area of Thames Valley police which covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

        3. PeanutButter*

          I live in a city in a bright red state that is consistently in the top-10 in murders-per-capita (among US cities; the state as a whole is always top-5) and people here tell me to be careful when I go home to visit family in a right-wing bugbear city in a blue state because…I guess the fact that my home town has visible unhoused people means it’s dangerous? The thought process is so topsy-turvy.

        4. StrikingFalcon*

          I visited Chicago a few years ago and we caught a bus to get some deep dish pizza, and as we were coming back with the leftovers, someone stopped us to ask if the pizza place delivered. They were *shocked* to hear that we had ventured out of the hotel into such a dangerous city on foot. We were in the tourist district. There were open air jazz concerts happening. It was one of the most pleasant city neighborhoods I have ever visited. But in their mind Chicago was A Dangerous Place Where You Might Get Shot. It was baffling and very concerning.

          1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

            I worked at a museum in Detroit for awhile while I was in college, and the things visitors would say to me! I once had two older gentleman demand to know where I lived, how I got to work and whether I felt safe there. You should have seen their faces when I told them I walked to work. It was a busy, touristy part of the city. It was probably safer than wherever they lived. But you get a lot of that in Detroit from the suburbs.

          2. Galadriel's Garden*

            Yeah, I live in the Chicagoland area and it’s…disappointing how successful the campaign of “Chicago is a dangerous liberal hellscape” has been, even within the boundaries of our own state. Friends of ours who now live a state over but grew up in IL ask us if we feel safe where we live and it’s like…a normal, low-crime suburb. Of course we do??

        5. Sharkie*

          As someone with intimate knowledge of the Yard and O’s ticket sales, safety comes up a lot more than the team’s record as a reason why people don’t want to come to games. I mean having shock trauma right there so you hear ambulances at the games doesnt help

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            You can tell how busy the state police are by the helicopter traffic overhead, but that has nothing to do with local stuff. I am sure that safety frequently is cited as a reason to not attend. It is at my church, next to city hall. But I wonder how many would steel themselves to run the gauntlet of gunfire is the Orioles were actually good.

        6. UKDancer*

          My grandparents were always very worried when I used to go to the US on business because they were convinced I’d wind up getting murdered in some way or other. I think this was because they watched Law and Order and CSI an awful lot. Nothing that exciting ever happened to me while I was there fortunately.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      You hope it’s just an incredibly out of touch parent – but you never know, which is why you have to be careful! It definitely got my hackles up too.

    3. Random Internet Stranger*

      Yup, I remember thinking it’s these kinds of stories that make me glad to work in a secure building. I don’t need my weirdo estranged family calling or showing up at my work.

    4. Heidi*

      Commenters on the original post also pointed out that there is no way for the OP to know that the person reaching out actually was the employee’s father. Regardless of the actual situation behind the call, the OP was right in not disclosing anything. I couldn’t find an update on this one, but you are poised and professional, OP! I hope all is well.

      1. Another Ashley*

        This is very important. It’s very possible that this is a controlling partner or someone else lying to get info.

      2. EmmaPoet*

        Yep, this is why we say we’ll take a message if someone isn’t available, but we don’t tell them the person’s contact info. If they’re legit, they’d either already have it, or Person can give it to them when they return the call. If they’re not, then Person isn’t going to have George or Jane Harasser screaming down their personal cell number.

  2. Justin*

    I assumed it was, like, a pandemic fear, which would be understandable (though not the “Contacting work” part). But it’s an old one, so it’s even more egregious.

    I feel bad for George.

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Yes, if this were more recent I could maybe understand the concern a tad more. Even so, it still wouldn’t be appropriate for a parent to do that unless there was a home emergency or something of the sort.

      In recent years my 80+ year old mom has suddenly had home “emergencies” just before our vacations abroad. Obviously, the TV not working is not an emergency, but that’s not what it’s about and she’s just a anxiety prone individual.

      1. Observer*

        Even so, it still wouldn’t be appropriate for a parent to do that unless there was a home emergency or something of the sort.

        Right. And the OP makes it clear that it was concern over an emergency or the like that caused them to call the father.

    2. Observer*

      Not at all. There have always been lots of things to worry about when it comes to travel, with some of them being more linked to reality than others. And the minute you get someone THIS off the wall, you know that whether or not there is a theoretical possibility that there could be a real reason to worry, that has nothing to do with what is happening.

      Just the fact that the father contacted the employer of an adult child who is old and competent enough to be sent on business travel is a bright red flag. The rest of it just adds layers of problematicness.

      1. hbc*

        I agree, this is general anxiety in search of an excuse (terrorism! disease! bandits!) rather than someone getting amped up *because* of a specific fear. My favorite travel “concern” was a panicked email from a family member because the country I was traveling to joined the Coalition of the Willing and she imagined retaliation. “Uh, I’m leaving the country that is actually leading that coalition, so if anything, I’ll be safer that week.”

      2. Totally Subclinical*

        In the unlikely event I’m ever in this position, I’ll be tempted to tell the caller “Are you saying you failed to raise your chid to be a competent adult?”

    1. La Triviata*

      A number of years ago I moved to a neighborhood that was not the safest, but not terrible. My mother, who lived about an hour drive away, was concerned. One Sunday she drove into the city to pick me up and saw a large number of people gathered outdoors (probably after church) and she became convinced that if she drove in, she’d get caught in the crossfire of a drug deal gone wrong and I had to take the train out to her (safe) suburban area.

      The irony is that her next-door neighbors were dealing drugs. She’d occasionally get their customers, who’d come to the wrong house, periodic raids by SWAT teams and, one memorable evening, came home to find that ATF was raiding them and pulled out 30+ boxes of ammunition.

  3. OrigCassandra*

    I’m so glad Alison discussed the dangers to George’s personal security of giving information to “Dad.”

    I’ve had an individual who was stalking a student of mine try to con me to get at them. I handled it appropriately (I teach privacy/security, so I’m better-prepared than many), but it was scary and awful for both me and the student and I don’t wish that on anybody.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m glad you were prepared! I had to train my staff on this at an old job. A lot of younger employees, some who got rides, parents/significant others/siblings would call to check in occasionally. It was usually very innocent, but we couldn’t know for sure so I enforced this pretty strongly. And while they all got it and agreed it was the correct policy, once or twice people got incredibly flustered in the moment, like Alison describes. I’m glad it was never a sketchy situation, that sounds very stressful.

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      That’s a really good point. My mind went straight to helicopter parent, but it’s entirely possible that this guy isn’t really George’s father and is some stalker fishing for information.

      1. Stopgap*

        Also possible that it’s George’s father AND a stalker fishing for information.

        1. OrigCassandra*

          Unfortunately, yes. The call definitely often comes from inside the house…

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      One of the hardest changes I saw working front desk at a small technical college was the break between your student is a minor and your student is an adult. As a minor the school is allowed to talk to a parent (after verifying that you have the correct parent with the correct student); however once they hit college (of any type) your child is considered an adult (with the exception of the rare Doogie Howsers) and the school cannot talk to you at all unless your child has signed a release form allowing the school to talk to you. The number of times I was cursed out by parents claiming they were the ones footing the bill* was not insignificant; and frequently were because student wasn’t talking to parents for whatever reason.

      *Spoiler alert – those parents were never the ones paying for tuition or anything else. In fact the most adamant that I tell him what his son was up to – yeah his son was an honorably discharged Marine who had done two tours (so 12 years in the marines). It eventually got to the point I was given permission to hang up on that parent because he was so angry and abusive over the phone (and scarily was also escorted away by police when he showed up in person and was screaming and hitting the desks and counters in the lobby for student affairs).

      1. PeanutButter*

        I used to work in a hospital ER that was basically next door to a university campus. A lot of parents’ first experience with not being allowed to find out info on their adult children was getting me at other end of the phone telling them that I would not be giving out any information about patients without that patients’ express permission.

      2. Susan Ivanova*

        My paternal DNA contributor decided to call me at college for the first time ever on a weekend I happened to be out of town. He then tracked down the RA, who lectured me when I got back about not telling my parent where I was, and he was so worried! If he was worried at all, it was about not looking good for the divorce lawyers.

        I was retroactively pissed to learn about FERPA around 20 years later. Yes, it was in effect at the time, and the RA should have known about it even though I didn’t.

      3. Crazy Dog Lady*

        Not all colleges are created equal. When I first went away to college, they wouldn’t talk to the student, only the parents. It was very frustrating. I transferred to another college and they would only talk to the students, not the parents.

          1. Bob-White of the Glen*

            FERPA is federal law. College cannot give out info about the student to anyone without express permission, or they will get sued. As they should.

      4. allathian*

        Yeah. Where I am, the day the kid turns 18, they’re allowed to sign their own absence notes, and to tell the school that they aren’t allowed to give any info to their parents, even if they’re still living at home. I’m in an area where kids start school the year of their 7th birthday, and most people are 18 or 19 when they graduate high school (some can be 17, but they do 3 years of high school in 2 and were born in July-December). Most people seem to be mature enough to do well under this system. Some do fail, but at least the parents can’t be penalized for not ensuring their adult kid goes to school, as can happen with parents of minors who refuse to go to school.

    4. WS*

      The university I was working at about 15 years ago had some very serious training about not giving information to family members of students (or anyone who couldn’t confirm their identity) because the year before I was there, someone gave out information to the parents of a student – and the student had been in hiding from them because they were abusive. They’d called every university that offered the course they knew she was taking until they found the right one. They showed up to the student residence the next day, tried to drag her out, and when she wouldn’t go they started beating her. Other students intervened but the victim and one other student ended up in hospital.

  4. Mostly Managing*

    In 25 years of marriage, I have phoned my husband’s boss once. DH was at the hospital with what turned out to be a severe allergic reaction.

    I cannot imagine calling my kid’s boss for anything other than the same kind of situation.

    1. Antilles*

      My general thought is that someone else contacting your boss on your behalf should be limited to situations where you’re physically unable to call in – debilitating sickness, emergency surgery, major car accident, things like that.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        And, crucially, these examples all involve the family member giving information to the employer rather than *asking for* information from them.

        “I know my son is traveling to PLACE for work; I haven’t been able to connect with him long distance but would you be able to let him know that Aunt Trudy’s surgery went okay” would still be a touch out of line but not disturbing in the way “Have you told George about how dangerous it is to visit PLACE?” is.

        A real example (and the only time my parent has ever called my workplace): I was a camp counselor the summer before starting college, in a rural with spotty cell service. The university had called my home phone about some paperwork I needed to fill out, and my mom couldn’t reach me so she called that camp’s landline. But again, the only thing she needed from the camp was “can you have my daughter call me back, it’s about college forms,” not personal information about me.

    2. Professional Cat Lady*

      Same, the only time I’ve ever called in for my husband, he was in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV of strong painkillers. He still wanted to go in!!

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I gave my boss’s contact info to my sibling once when I was having surgery so they could text her and let her know I was okay when the procedure was completed, but that’s one of very few scenarios where I’d be okay with my family contacting my workplace.

    4. Ashkela*

      I think the only non-emergency thing I’ve ever heard of a parent calling in that didn’t lead to drama was when I was working as an admin for a decently sized non-profit. My coworker was engaged and her mom called to ask the boss if there were any weekends (we occasionally worked them, but not often) she definitely should not plan the surprise bachelorette party for. She wasn’t trying to get permissions, just narrowing down dates early on in the planning session. I don’t recall that my boss gave her any info, but the boss and coworker had worked together for something like 12 years at this point, so it was a less formal situation.

    5. Dinwar*

      I’m reasonably certain my wife has called my boss a few times to beg him to find a field job for me. Our relationship is built on the premise that I eventually go away for quite a while, and I’d been home for way too long. On the other hand, my wife worked for the company before I did and had developed relationships with the folks on her own. So it’s less an issue of her calling out of the blue, and more an issue of her venting to a friend.

    6. Anny Moose*

      I will admit to e-mailing my spouse’s boss… once. They were coming home from a 4 month military deployment just before a once-in-a-lifetime concert was slated to happen – for which spouse was and is known to be a huge fan. I knew the boss on a social level, so I shot a quick note explaining how I wanted to surprise my love with a well-deserved weekend in the big city. The boss was not only completely cool about it, but very excited on spouse’s behalf. Probably shocked the boss a bit, but I never heard any repercussions and they’ve both thrived since. :)

  5. Boo Radley*

    This sounds like something my father would have done when I was younger before I had a full couple of decades to put him in his place and keep him there. I would have been mortified, and I’m sure the employee is too. It sounds like Dad’s anxiety got the better of him and he didn’t think this out.

  6. Panhandlerann*

    My mother called my workplace to check on my whereabouts years ago when she couldn’t reach me by phone for a couple of days. I was thirty–no kid for sure. This was in the days before cell phones and also before virtually everyone would have had an answering machine. I didn’t have one at that point, but after the embarrassment of having the secretary contact me to tell me to “Call your mother,” you’d better believe I availed myself of one immediately! (I was, by the way, at the home of my then-boyfriend [now husband] during the period when she couldn’t reach me.)

  7. Adds*

    That is super weird and possibly creepy. If I were George I would be livid. I also feel bad for George.

    1. somanyquestions*

      At a minimum, dad is an overbearing, arrogant jerk. He thinks his adult son is too inept and naive to handle his own job.

      & you’re right, it could be worse than that & he’s got some nefarious motives. Or isn’t even his dad.

  8. DelphiniumsBlue*

    I get at least a few phone calls per year from parents of employees. (For the record, these employees are adults in their mid to late 20s with Master’s degrees) They are, with few exceptions, astonished and dismayed that no, we shan’t be discussing their Little Darling’s employment/taxes/benefits/anything else with anyone other than the Little Darling themself.

    Still not sure if I’m more dismayed by them, or the ones who are calling about their Little Darlings who are job applicants. I’ve had 3 of those ones show up to the office in person (pre-Covid)

    1. Cat named Brian*

      What?! That is crazy. I can’t even imagine doing this to my young adult children.

    2. allathian*

      Did you ever tell any of the interfering parents that they weren’t doing their kid any favors? Granted, I’m not a hiring manager, but I can’t imagine having an applicant show up with their parent in tow would make them a strong candidate. The only exception I can think of is if you’re hiring people with a disability and who may need assistance.

      Even minors who are old enough to work need to do these things on their own. Sure, a parent can give a kid a ride to the interview, but they should stay in the car, go for a walk, or something.

      1. Crazy Dog Lady*

        I’ve had parents come with their children for interviews and wait in the car. One parent came in with their child and waited in the lobby. We got the impression that the parent was making sure the child followed through with the interview, though they could have accomplished that by waiting in the car.

      2. DelphiniumsBlue*

        I’ve had 1 employee with a disability whose parent who provided assistance. And the parent handled themselves professionally & appropriately.

        I have asked the employees if they were aware that their parent was contacting us: usually the answer is “No!” with one exception who asked their parent to call me. They seem just as shocked about it. A few have said they’re going to confront their parent about it.

        For the parents of applicants, I don’t contact the applicants directly (for other reasons) but I do tend to treat the parents themselves like naughty children. With a kind but firm tone “No, we will reach out to the APPLICANT if we have more questions about their application or if we would like to schedule an interview.” Fortunately, it doesn’t reflect negatively on the applicant with the way our hiring process is structured but it has definitely served as a lesson in what NOT to do while I’m raising my own children!

  9. KDrizzleUK*

    OMG. My mother did this to me when I went on my first overseas work trip more than 20 years ago. I was MORTIFIED upon my return to the office when my boss was very kind about it but I was the butt of office jokes for longer than I would have liked. I gave her a very stern talking to and she never did it again (but I did have to offer up my travel itineraries, both work and leisure, for a long time in return).

    1. BatManDan*

      I would have responded the opposite way, and locked down ALL information. I refuse to bribe or negotiate my way out of a situation I never should have been in, in the first place.

  10. GreyjoyGardens*

    Poor George! Either he has a helicopter parent or one who is estranged and trying to sniff out information as to how to track him down. Either way, this is bad news.

    George’s dad is neither a client nor a customer, you don’t have to handle him with kid gloves. “We don’t give out information about our employees to anyone unless the employee authorizes it. Thank you and have a nice day.” I think you could be a lot more polite if it were a sincere missing-person type of thing (“Hi, I’m George’s neighbor Alex. I haven’t seen George in a week, he’s not answering texts or emails, and his mail is piling up – has he shown up at work?”) though in that case a police welfare check might be the first step.

    But you owe nothing to George’s parent, and I would love to see more companies slap down helicopter parents hard when they try to butt into their GROWN child’s business.

    1. Everything Bagel*

      Even then you have to be careful because how do you know it’s really George’s neighbor and why he’s calling?

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        That’s true. In that case, tell the “neighbor “call the cops and have them do a welfare check. We don’t give out employees’ personal information.”

  11. ivy*

    My employer is based in Europe and needed my dad to consent to being my emergency contact. They sent him an email that was a little dramatic regarding if an incident were to occur while I’m in the EU blah blah blah. He consented, but told me later on he was trying to think of what sort of injury would occur. He settled on “ate too much chocolate and bread.”

    Yes, I’m really glad he didn’t call my boss with his “concern” :)

    1. Artemesia*

      A friend of my young adult son sent his father our phone number as an emergency contact number — pre-cell –and the father interpreted this as ‘there is an emergency’ — much drama ensued because we could not figure out who this guy was and why he was calling about an emergency.

    2. Very Social*

      A stomachache from too much chocolate and bread is a real concern! But not one your employer could do much about…

  12. OyHiOh*

    This is exactly, precisely, the sort of thing my father has a history of doing to me. He’s not genuinely “concerned” about my overall welfare. He’s hunting and fishing for accuracy and tidbits. Does Oy really work where she says she does. Does Oy really have the volume and type of work she says she has? Etc

    I’m a touch sympathetic because I know what drives the behaviors – untreated mental health conditions – and have worked very, very hard to overcome my own, similar, issues. But completely unwilling to have my parents in my professional life so security and information diet measures have been utilized to keep him thoroughly out of the loop.

    And yet, he does things like sign up for our publicly distributed newsletter, and follows our social media channels, in hopes of gleaning something he can worry about and try to fix (not bloody likely but anxiety driven parent will be an anxiety driven parent until the end of time).

  13. Today...Anon*

    Taking the danger part of it out would the answer be the same if the son was a minor say 15-17. I still don’t think a parent should interfere but what do you say then?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’d say the same thing. If the minor was physically on the premises I might say I’ll take a message, and then check in with the employee and allow them to call back if they want to/if it’s legit. But if they were calling to ask about their schedule or details about their duties or anything like that I’d say it’s policy to only talk with the employee.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I’d even argue it’s MORE important with minors because you don’t know what might be going on with teenage relationship drama (innocent or sinister) or non-custodial parent stuff or what not – minors are vulnerable. They should feel safe at work.

    2. Cordelia Sasquatch*

      If your minor child is being sent on business travel abroad, I would be exceptionally proud of their Doogie-Howser like precociousness, and would trust that any important info had been discussed as part of your role as an active parent before they left.
      If your minor child being sent abroad on business travel is an emancipated minor, I think the answer is the same as if they were a fully fledged adult (as I assume there is A.) a reason they are emancipated and B.) haven’t given you, the parent, details about this travel).
      If this is about a school trip, then, again, you as the involved parent would presumably have had conversations with the school and signed consent forms for the travel before the child left.

      1. Today...Anon*

        Ive seen it for some friends that were hired as an intern in high school. They were brought on the trip as a learning experience.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, but even then, they were presumably supervised by the intern manager during the trip. I can’t imagine any employer sending an unaccompanied minor on a business trip abroad…

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Also for minors on international trips, usually legal guardian consent is required – if not by the home state then by the immigration authorities both sides of the border.
        But this should be handled by HR well in advance, with the minor and the legal guardian present, not by someone calling out of the blue.
        I once had an apprentice who went with me on an out-of-country project in week 4 of his 3-year apprenticeship. Parents not involved (they had just turned 18 so legally and mentally an adult). Their father was on file as an emergency contact and that was that.

    3. anonymous73*

      Same rules apply. Unless you need to inform their emergency contact about an urgent situation like an accident, an employer should not be speaking to anyone in an employee’s family about work related topics.

    4. OyHiOh*

      When I was a manager in an organization that had student employees/volunteers, our policy – which students AND their parents agreed to prior to accepting paid/volunteer activities – was that, if a student is capable of applying for the role, interviewing for it, setting/accepting a schedule, and so on, than the student is also old enough and capable enough of managing their work/volunteer activities without parental interference or guidance.

      As always, there were exceptions to the rule (a student with autism, who needed just a touch more parental assistance, a bit later into their teen years than “normal,” for example) and we were willing and able to work with the exceptions, but in general, our assumption was that the student should manage their commitment.

    5. doreen*

      I think whether a parent should “interfere” in the case of a 15-17 year old is a little different and depends on exactly what the parent is doing. It’s is extremely unlikely that a 15-17 yr old is being sent out of the country on business – and if they are, I think it’s appropriate for the parent to interfere. Also if the 15-17 year old is being asked to work hours that they are not legally permitted to or to perform tasks that they are not legally allowed to ( such as operating machinery) . On the other hand, parents need to stay out of whether McDonald’s assigns Matilda to the register or to cleaning tables

    6. RagingADHD*

      In the US, written consent from both parents (or the presences of one parent and written permission from the other) is required for anyone to take a non-emancipated minor overseas. This is to prevent trafficking and parental kidnapping in custody disputes, so it’s a different situation and a different relationship between the parent and the organization conducting the travel.

      I think if a parent were concerned that they could not reach their minor child while overseas, the manager should make the effort to track the child down and make sure they were accounted for. Whether or not they report back to the parent or just ask the child to call would depend on a lot of things- age of the child (Fifteen? probably. Seventeen? Maybe not.) Also in what role they were traveling/being supervised.

      They still shouldn’t discuss details of the minor employee’s work. Any questions about safety briefings should have been covered up front before they signed the permission form. But if it’s just a “they missed a planned call, are they okay” then I think it does fall within the manager’s responsibility to do a welfare check.

      1. nnn*

        Do you happen to know how this plays out in cases where there’s only one parent? Do they have to somehow provide proof that there’s only one parent? (Because otherwise the one parent could just claim they’re the sole parent.) And how would you prove that, like, you were the product of a one night stand and have no idea who one of your parents is?

        1. RagingADHD*

          For sole custodial parents after a divorce, there’s a court order. Same with legally-appointed guardians who are not the birth parents. For other issues, you’d work with the passport office to find out what kind of documentation is needed.

          Nobody shows up at the airport for with a minor in tow and gets surprised by this requirement. Kids aren’t a water bottle you forget in the luggage. Unless, I suppose, they are exactly the sort of people who shouldn’t be taking a minor anywhere anyway.

      2. InfoGeek*

        You need the permission of both parents to get a passport for anyone under age 16.

        Kids actually go overseas without EITHER parent quite frequently (school trips, foreign exchange, athletic competition, etc.). Whether they require documentation of proof of parental permission appears to depend on the country they’re traveling to.

        I know my daughter went on a school trip to France at age 14 with several other students and only one adult, who was not her parent. I don’t remember signing permission for her to leave the country and looking back over the arrangements, I see no reference to that.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          My country (or maybe just my city?) required both parents to be physically present for a minor’s passport. However, that passport is valid 10 years, and a lot can happen in 10 years, so I don’t know how much protection that affords against familial kidnapping really.

          Also, my daughter’s passport photo (and height, lol) is from when she was 5 months old… it’s not like anyone could actually recognize her from it.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            In Canada, you get one free extra passport photo change for an infant/toddler up to, I think 5 years; we got my eldest’s passport at 4-5 months, then another photo at about 3 (she was 3 1/2 for the trip) without having to do nearly as much extra rigamarole as we would to get a new one, or even to renew our own.

            1. TeaCoziesRUs*

              In the US minors’ passports are good for 5 years. We just renewed ours, and it tickled my kids to see their baby / toddler passport pictures. :)

        2. Elenna*

          Canadian here, I flew to the US by myself for a summer camp at the age of 14 and I don’t recall needing to show any sort of signed permission. If I’d been a few years younger I would have been accompanied through security by an airport worker, but at 14 I was able to just go through by myself and I don’t believe anyone commented.

          (Well, no airport workers commented, anyways. There was one lady on the flight back who was very dramatic about “oh my gosh, you’re flying ALONE??” Like, I’m 14, not 4, barring unforeseen delays taking a place isn’t exactly hard, I just followed the signs all over the place to the gate clearly listed on my ticket…)

      3. hbc*

        I took my kids from the US to Europe for a week with no written consent from my husband and had no issues on either end, and we don’t even share the same last name. Maybe we got away with something because we’re all white, I’m a woman, and our passports showed we’d travelled together in the past.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          It depends on the immigration laws of the country you are traveling from, to, and through (don’t forget you may be legally entering the country of a transit airport).
          When I took my nephews (same family name) to South Africa a few years ago, we needed a form signed by both parents and a copy of the parents’ passports. Your state department/foreign ministry should have that information on their website.

    7. Surfin' USA*

      I was for a children’s summer camp, so we mostly hire 20-25 yearly olds in college or grad school. Every year there is at least one parent that decides to get involved in their child’s application or job. This year we have a set of helicopter parents that wanted my personal phone number so they could facetime me and ask if it was “safe” where we are. Well, it’s safe enough for 100’s of kids! Said no to talking to parents. But here’s the kicker – they like to call now and ask questions that aren’t directly related to her employment, but are making me suspicious that we’re going to have issues in 3 weeks when staff training starts. Examples include “What is a good option for housing as close to the camp as possible?” and “How many people does your airport shuttle fit?” and “What do y’all do about the sharks to keep them from attacking?”

      1. allathian*

        Ugh… I guess there’s a reason why more young adults than ever before go low or no contact with their parents. I doubt parents today are any more abusive than previous generations have been, but this sort of infantilization of 20-somethings is a fairly recent development.

    8. Lenora Rose*

      In a school system, the school will have the information about what parents/legal guardians/grandparents/etc have access to the child and their information, and are allowed to pick them up. AND which ones explicitly do not.

      A workplace that regularly employs legal minors will likely know to have similar information on hand. So on the one hand, the parents do in fact have more legal right to information; on the other, their names and info will be known and they won’t be “random person calling out of the blue”.

      If they do call and aren’t verifiable, standard measures apply as for adults; take the caller’s information rather than give out the employee’s, and say privacy and safety measures require you to do so. Give it to the employee and leave it to them to okay future calls, make contact themselves, or indicate this is definitely someone with whom no contact should be allowed.

  14. Corporate Counsel*

    I have a canned response to these kinds of inquiries, which is to say that we are unable to confirm or deny anyone’s employment at our company without a valid subpoena, court order, or written permission from the employee. I then just repeat “Unfortunately, that won’t be possible” if they demand to speak to them or demand to know further information. So I take it a step further and don’t even admit that the person does (or doesn’t!) work there.

  15. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    DoD-like typing detected.

    This is exactly how military, intelligence, foreign service, etc. people talk, especially from the Cold War days. You get briefed before the trip, you get debriefed when you get back.

    1. Corporate Counsel*

      Yeah, but if he was actually DOD surely he would know that the company isn’t going to just have an open conversation with someone’s parent about it.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Wasn’t there a letter recently where a precocious applicant asked if he’d be briefed on the interview agenda? I feel like the word is more widely applicable than it used to be (though a little silly in that instance)

    2. RagingADHD*

      I hear people use the terms briefed and debriefed all the time about non-military situations.

    3. Student*

      This is still how US government travel works. Not just DoD – I don’t know if it’s federal government-wide, but the couple of non-DoD departments I’ve worked with all do it. Some minor foreign travel to a friendly spot might just go with a memo or form/email exchange as a stand-in for the brief and debrief.

      It’s an effort to keep government employees safe (which is very often overblown, but it’s in response to government employees being considered more appealing “targets” than your average business traveler), and it’s also an effort to counter any potential foreign intelligence collection attempts. It makes sense if you’re going to the UN for a working group; probably not so much for a lot more routine, minor travel, but the government isn’t great at coming up with nuanced guidance for stuff like this so they go with a one-size-fits-all approach. We get a lot of churn and there’s sometimes political appointees mixed into foreign travel things, so it’s not always a viable idea to just count on managers making individual judgement calls, the way you would in a corporate environment.

  16. Tupac Coachella*

    I work in higher ed, where calls like this are part of job, and I’m impressed with how well OP handled it, especially without specific guidance like we receive. When the student doesn’t know mom or dad is calling (or occasionally spouse, which squicks me out more for some reason), it’s generally a red flag. The person calling *knows* this is not appropriate and has, for reasons unknown, decided to do it anyway. And when they say the student DOES know, 9/10 times I end up just asking them to put Fergie on the phone. It rarely happens again; I’m polite, but I assume that everything the parent said is irrelevant and make the student re-explain the issue. They seem to get the message that having Mom call is not a shortcut to get a quick answer without actually talking to me.

    (That shortcut, incidentally, is e-mail. *Sigh.* I wish they’d just send me an e-mail.)

    1. Jay*

      At the orientation meeting for my kid’s first year of high school, the principal told us that one of their goals was helping the students learn to advocate for themselves. She said “If you call us about an issue with your child, the first thing we will ask is whether the student has talked to the teacher. If the answer to that is ‘no,’ we will not discuss it with you unless you have an immediate health or safety concern. We expect the student to speak with us first.” She was 14. We thoroughly approved of this policy and made it clear that we would hold her to it.

      1. nonprofit writer*

        Yes, we are doing this kind of thing proactively with our middle schooler (age 13). When he wanted to quit the school basketball team, we told him he had to let the coach know himself, that we would not do it for him. (We also made it clear that he did have to let the coach know–could not just stop showing up to practice!) I told him an email was OK (it was a really big team so he didn’t have a close relationship with the coach) and that I would even help him figure out what to say if he needed help, but that it had to come from him, not me. He ended up writing it himself and I assume it basically just said “I am quitting the team” with no other info, but I felt like that was OK–at least it came from him!

        I cannot even imagine calling my adult child’s employer!

        1. Jay*

          Yup. We did the same thing when she decided to quit orchestra at 11 – and when she wanted to move up to pointe classes in dance at age 12. She had to talk to the orchestra teacher and the principal of the dance studio. She did not want to do either. This was a kid who really struggled to initiate conversation with adults – no issues with kids and no issues when called on in class but rarely spoke spontaneously even to adults she knew well. But she *really* want to go up on pointe, and she finally got up her courage, talked to the head of the studio, found out what the requirements were – and fulfilled them in short order. The head of that studio was her ardent ally from then on. And when there was an almighty screwup with her college application, she fixed it by herself. They learn.

          1. jams*

            Empowering your kids to be confident in their capabilities is such a wonderful gift to give as a parent. Good on you!

            1. allathian*

              Yes, indeed! This is a lesson helicopter parents fail to teach their kids, and by doing so, set them up to fail.

              I think that my biggest responsibility as a parent is to help my son become an independent adult. That’s why he has chores, that’s why we’re teaching him basic personal finance stuff, etc…

              1. TeaCoziesRUs*

                Amen! Mine are 7 and 9… and almost old enough to reach the Detergent. Their summer chores are going to be learning how to cook some basic meals (they already help with prep, salad making, slicing fruit, etc) and laundry! Bwa ha ha ha.

      2. Bumblebee*

        Amazing! I’m going to institute this policy in reverse for my own kids as they get older.

        I am also in higher ed and Tupac Coachella is right – helicopter spouses are the creepiest. Just so weird.

      3. J.B.*

        I do more than this for my 12 year old, but I have to as she has an IEP and ardently refuses to be at the meetings so far. I think I might start dragging her in in a couple of years except that they are always scheduled during the school day. I haven’t decided if it is worth her missing classes over.

    2. Chris*

      Exactly. My husband is an Academic Advisor at a University and he can’t talk to a parent without the child’s knowledge or consent once they are over 18 years old. Not even if the parent is paying for the education, which is often the parent’s argument. It’s happened so often – calls to change their major or classes or to ask about their grades. This is a little less surprising in a University setting than a workplace, but everyone had a script about “X is a legal adult and without their knowledge and consent, I cannot speak to anyone else about….”

      This letter is a complete what the heck for me…

    3. Esmeralda*

      Higher ed is awesome because of FERPA.

      Unfortunately, [Dad Name], I can’t answer any specific questions about students due to federal laws. I can answer more general questions. And I encourage you to speak with your student about these issues. If you want to speak to me about it, then you’ll need the student’s permission. You can either provide me with the pin your student may have set up, or the student can contact me directly.

      BTW, unless I know *for sure* that the student is ok with any of this, I don’t even confirm or deny that the student is in my class or is my advisee.

      I always let the student know if anyone contacts me about them. Always.

      LOL, pretty often the conversation goes something like this: “Student, someone named [Name] emailed and said they were your dad.” STudent replies “I;m so sorry, my dad is…a bit much”

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – I worked reception desk at a student affairs for a technical college (think trades not traditional bachelors/masters/doctorate programs).

        My go to when I had a parent call (way more common than I was initially expecting it to be) was “one moment please, look up student to see if a FERPA form allowed me to talk to any family members, I’m sorry but FERPA does not permit me to discuss John and his progress/enrollment/financials with you.” If they felt the need to get rude (and they always tried to claim they were paying all the bills, so that entitled them to answers) I was empowered to say “I understand your feelings, however the law is the law and I will be hanging up now” followed by me hanging up the phone.

        Oh, and half the student body was older than I was – most were retired/former military who were trained in the military and just wanted the civilian certificate to get a bit more pay. None of those “paying parents” were paying so much as a dime in tuition to the school.

  17. Jennie*

    My grandmother once called her member of parliament and had the prime minister’s office contact my uncle’s unit in Afghanistan because she hadn’t heard from him (early 2000s).
    He was on a mission, called to his commander’s office, and berated for worrying his mom.

    Sometimes people don’t know better:)

    1. irene adler*

      My Dad’s mom wrote to the captain of the ship my Dad was on (USS Boxer). This was during the Korean conflict. Asked that he lighten up the workload for my Dad as he was too busy to write home on the regular.
      Dad gets called into captain’s office and ordered to write home.

      Yeah, Dad very embarrassed.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        When I was in the Navy in the mid-70s I got called into the Chaplain’s office because Mom had contacted the base commander, worried about me. In that case, she had reason; I had an infection that led to toxic shock, a 104 fever, and delirium. One of the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome is your callouses separate from the underlying skin and I had written a nonsensical letter to her and enclosed the calloused skin from the palm of one hand. By the time she got the letter, I had already been treated and had no memory of sending it. She was rightfully concerned…

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yeah, I imagine she would be pretty concerned with a letter that said “hi, mom, here’s a chunk of my skin that fell off because I am sick.” Calling the commander was totally justified in this case!

  18. Amber T*

    Hopefully this doesn’t need to be said, but if a parent (or “parent”) calls in requesting info on their kid’s work, please don’t let that color your opinion on that employee. Just because an employee’s parent oversteps does not mean that the employee isn’t a capable or responsible adult.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      Especially in this day and age of helicopter parenting! Dollars to donuts the adult child does NOT want their parent meddling in their business and is embarrassed.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – and the person to whom the OP should be speaking is George, NOT George’s manager.

      Let George deal with his parent. It’s no reflection on him if his parent (or someone posing as his parent – because really, do you actually KNOW who it is?) calls and asks for info about him.

    3. LibraryChick*

      Most people don’t think it’s possible for a parent to stalk their adult child. They’re wrong. I had to move far, far away from my mentally ill parent who would just show up at my work, call my work incessantly, and try to become buddies with my supervisor. No one takes it seriously, and worse, people feel bad for my “aggrieved” parent and help with tracking me down. I’ve had employers (and a landlord) who told me that I need to do something about my parent, as though I had a way of controlling their actions.

    4. n.m.*

      Especially in this day with the internet publicizing everyones private information—you really dont even know if that *is* his dad, or just some creep!

  19. Jay*

    When I was in med school (pre cellphone era), my mother once called the anatomy lab to track me down and on another memorable occasion showed up during a lecture (friend elbows me: isn’t that your mom in the aisle trying to get your attention? I was grateful it was at least that subtle). And even she would never ever have called anyone I worked with once I graduated and had an actual job.

    My kid is 22, about to graduate, and frequently calls us looking for advice on applications or interviews. Thanks to AAM, I can give her good answers! I’ve also pointed her here, of course.

  20. anonymous73*

    It always amazes me that parents and spouses think it’s okay to contact their person’s work to discuss anything other than informing them they won’t be in and they are unable to call themselves. The only thing I would have changed about OP’s response was telling George’s dad that they would pass along his contact information to George’s boss. Even though OP said not to expect a call back, it gives him reason to try again. Just say no and leave it at that.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I see that part more as a CYA for OP…CYA, well, that’s stronger than what I mean, but since there is not standard language, I think OP was right to escalate to the boss. This way, they can create some response for “concerned {relationship} person” calls.
      Hopefully, going forward, OP will official approval to nope out of the conversation and hang up. Hopefully they will create a script.

      1. Shad*

        I think OP was right to let George’s boss know.
        I don’t think OP should have told George’s father that they were going to let George’s boss know. That’s the part that could encourage the father.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          They should let George know and deal with the issue how he sees fit. I see no reason to inform George’s manager, and plenty of reasons to NOT do so.

          1. anonymous73*

            George’s boss should be given a heads up in case daddy decides to try and contact them directly. Any reasonable manager would not hold George responsible for things outside of their control and if George is disciplined because of his father’s actions, George has bigger problems than his father.

  21. urguncle*

    Beeee-lieve or not
    George isn’t at home
    Please leave a message after the beep
    I must be out on a business trip
    Where could I be? Believe it or not, don’t call my boss!

    1. Broadway Duchess*

      Back when flip phones were starting to be out of fashion, we got out 10-year-old a phone for emergencies when it turned out that our schedules were going to have a 30 minute gap between his school bus and one of us getting home. Kiddo normally took the bus to Grandma and Grandpa’s but we decided once a week we would try this since the grandparents were 5 minutes away. Calling his phone and getting this exact song as his outgoing message is what tipped us of that we maaaaybe watched a bit too much Seinfeld!

  22. Post Covid Girl*

    There are parents who call the president of a university to ask for extra graduation tickets!!!

    I can see these types of helicopter parents doing this at their children’s first jobs.

  23. Falling Diphthong*

    I like to think that the parent doesn’t believe the employee’s job title is a real thing, and figures their kid is obviously a spy and “Optimizer of Social Media Re-Engagement” is a cover.

  24. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    Off topic slightly, but way back in the day I rented an apartment downstairs from a landlord who turned out to know (and have a crush on, as far as I could tell) a coworker of mine. He would call me at work if he couldn’t reach the crush so that he could leave a message through me.

    I still feel the thrill of the boundary growth when I walked into the coworker’s office and said “[Landlord] has asked me to let you know he is trying to reach you.” With all of the “are you kidding me” eyeroll that I could manage.

    Never got another call.

  25. Adultier Adult*

    I am actually not shocked to read this at all. I have taught at the university level for 12 years and for the first time, this semester, I have had FOUR different parents contact me about their children’s grades/missing work/etc. At that level, I am not allowed to speak with parents so it was a very short conversation, but goodness… the change I’ve seen over the past twelve years…shocking

    1. NeedRain47*

      I worked a shift or two a week at the reference desk in an academic library from about 2004 to 2016. It was only towards the end of that time that I was getting parents calling trying to do research for their kid. There are no ethical concerns with telling parents about library resources, but I tried to impress upon them how much easier it would be for everyone involved if their kid would just come to the library himself.

    2. singularity*

      My mom was like this. She was on a little-to-no information diet, but she did whatever she could to get around it. I constantly emailed professors and advisors apologies for her behavior and was very thankful to them for having a ready response that denied her any information. From the perspective a person who *HAD* a parent do these things, it’s mortifying.

    3. Elle Woods*

      Four in one semester? Yowza. During my decade in academia, I only had one parent call me early on the semester to discuss a child’s grades. I couldn’t say much (thank heavens for FERPA) and the conversation was short but I gleaned enough to know that when things didn’t go their way, they sent mom & dad in to fight their battles for them.

    4. PeanutButter*

      It’s letters (and comments) like this that make me really appreciate my mom. She has her faults, but helicoptering is not one of them! I still remember her sitting me down when I went off to high school (paraphrased): “Honey, I love you and I support you and I will always be here for you for advice and homework help… but I have enough on my plate keeping track of my own business. Here’s a nice assignment book in your favorite color, I’ve written your doctor’s, dentist’s, and music instructor’s numbers in the cover. Here’s a checkbook to an account where I will put enough funds for your lessons every month, and any co-pays for appointments. If you are going to need more let me know. Good luck!”

  26. Becky*

    I have a friend who has limited conservatorship for her 20 year old son who has autism. Even she would never call his work–if there is something she needs to know she talks to her son; if there is something he needs to tell someone (supervisor etc.) she makes him do the communication. She provides support in a number of ways and would gladly help him figure out wording or whatever, but she makes sure he has as much independence and responsibility as he can manage.

  27. Miel*

    A friend of mine once witnessed an intern’s parent SHOW UP FOR ORIENTATION. Oof.

  28. WillowSunstar*

    There are a lot of red flags in this one. Unless the employee is going someplace that’s a COVID hot spot (which all that really takes is a Google search to find out) or say, a war-torn country, it doesn’t exactly warrant checking up on. I’d wonder if the caller was being truthful about being a parent. I’d also wonder if the caller was actually the parent, if the caller was a very controlling parent. Grown people have a right not to be controlled by their mom or dad.

  29. middle name danger*

    Never give any information out to a non-employee about an employee without that employee’s explicit permission AND verifying that the person is who they say they are. Huge safety issue.

    OP handled it well but it’s good to just have a policy in place if this happens again, for George or other employees.

  30. nnn*

    The thing is, in any sort of healthy parent-child relationship, the father could just ask George “So have they properly briefed you about your travel yet?”

    And if he has any sort of specific concern, he could ask George specifically “Did they mention what to do if you contract COVID while in Other Country?” or “Did they cover what to do about bringing your medical cannabis across the border?” or “Did they issue you a tiger-repelling rock?” or whatever.

    And even with a generally healthy parent-child relationships where the parent simply hasn’t caught on that their kid is an adult, the call would look more like “I was shocked and appalled to hear that you’re sending my son into a COVID hot-spot without issuing him any N95s”, or whatever the specific issue is.

    The vague “Have you briefed him properly?” just…doesn’t play out.

  31. Hiring Mgr*

    Agree with all the comments, one thing I was curious about – why did this person contact you in particular? I had assumed LW was Georges boss, but that’s not the case. Are you in HR or something like that?

    It’s probably irrelevant but had me wondering

  32. Iroqdemic*

    Cheese and crackers, this is cringey. Feel so bad for George. That is obviously a fraught relationship!

  33. Syd*

    Some 20 years ago — so pre-common cell phone use– the front desk at my old job took a message that my mother needed me to call her. There was a bit of a disapproving frown accompanying the message as well — personal calls were not common unless you were a boss.

    Since my family live in the UK and I work in the US, I was pretty alarmed. We had prearranged monthly phone calls — calling plans were terrible — so calling unexpectedly even at home was unusual.

    I negotiated with my boss to use the work phone to place an international call. My mum was equally alarmed to get an unexpected call from me. She most certainly had not called me at work in another country!

    To this day, I wonder if it was someone trying to track me / confirm my employment who didn’t know how unlikely my mother calling me was, a misunderstanding from the front desk, or an unkind prank. All three are likely given that particular job.

  34. Original LW*

    Original LW here. Fun to see my letter come back up again!

    As a bit of an update, when I told George about the call, he was annoyed but unsurprised. As many commentators suspected, the dad was somewhat estranged and also “a bit much.” He was glad I hadn’t given out any information but not concerned in general (I don’t think there was any safety concern with his dad and I don’t think he was trying to stalk George or anything like that, just an overanxious parent without a close enough relationship with their kid to talk directly or too anxious to accept the kid’s answers and needing to get reassurance “from the source”). I tried to use a breezy tone so he wouldn’t think I thought it was a big deal, and he matched that tone. I literally had not thought about it again until this came back on AAM. I do still think it was funny that the dad was so concerned when the business trip in question was to someplace like Berlin or Copenhagen (I don’t remember exactly but it wasn’t one of those places that people talk about as dangerous, even ignorantly).

    Someone had a question about why the dad called me – it was a small startup and at the time I was the only non-engineering employee, so I was the front desk, HR, all of that. My number was the only number publicly available for randos like George’s dad to find.

    1. MEH Squared*

      Thanks for the update, LW! I’m glad to know that it wasn’t anything nefarious and that George found it merely annoying.

  35. Media Monkey*

    my kid is 13 and has a job a couple of nights a week. other than going in with her the first time to verify that the boss existed and the working environment wasn’t dangerous or a front for a meth lab (unlikely as it’s a takeaway restaurant we have ordered from semiregularly) i haven’t spoken to her boss in the 6 months she has worked there. part of the benefits of her having a job are that she will learn to negotiate/ organise her shifts and check her salary against her hours worked and speak up if it’s wrong. SHE IS 13!

  36. SweetHomeChicago*

    Tell me George travels to Chicago for work without telling me George travels to Chicago for work. Ridiculous.

  37. Walk On By*

    Hm, it wasn’t an emergency, and the information sounds like something the employee could have directly called his son about, even if the time difference makes it inconvenient. Similar to those who ask money of their coworkers: this person might have likely exhausted the most reasonable option for their request (calling their child) and have gotten desperate for a solution from whomever they think can circumvent that boundary.

Comments are closed.