explaining why I’m not donating blood, boss flies first class but put me in coach, and more

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

1. How do I explain why I’m not donating blood?

My medium-sized company is hosting a blood drive on site in a few weeks and HR has really been pushing for people to sign up. I would love to donate blood but because I am a sexually active gay man, I am not allowed. Because I live in a small, conservative town, I am in mostly in the closet (totally at work). My employer is basically the only game in town and I need to keep my job. From past conversations and experiences, I have no doubt that things would not go well if I came out (that includes HR and my boss).

While I hate that this is how it is, I have come to terms with it. The issue is, I don’t know what to say to people when they ask why I haven’t signed up. I can’t say the truth so I think a small white lie is the way to go. I was going to say that I donated recently already but as this is a small town, we don’t have many drives so worry about follow-up questions. Any other suggestions?

People need to rein in the nosiness about why someone might not be donating blood. There are a ton of possible explanations, all of them things people are entitled to privacy around: sexuality, certain medications, some types of illnesses, needle phobias, restrictions from having traveled or lived in various places at various times, and a bunch of other reasons.

That does mean that there are lots of white lies available to you, though! You have a vagal response that makes you vomit, you passed out in the past and were told not to donate again, your iron count is too low, etc. But the easiest and vaguest is to just say, “I can’t — medical restrictions.” If anyone pushes for details, you can say, “Oh, I’m private about medical stuff but nothing to worry about.”

Read an update to this letter here

2. My boss is flying first class and put me in coach

I want to start by saying that I’m looking for a sounding board and am totally okay with being told I’m wrong or that I sound entitled.

I’m working with a company and it was never part of my job to do sales. However, everyone is busy and so I started calling on our leads. Over the past eight months or so, I’ve been the only person doing it and it’s in addition to the mountain of other work I do (I’m a high level business manager, legal liaison, and development manager for our new business venture.)

Part of our work is that we are expanding into new territory. So I’m working on selling a very big deal several states away. As part of that deal, I have to fly out to meet the client. When I was booking my ticket, the owner of the company asked me to book the travel for everyone. And then added, “put my husband and I in first class and you (and my colleague) can sit in coach.”

I’m drastically underpaid (less than half of what I’d make doing less elsewhere) but have never asked for anything because I’m aware we are in a growth pattern right now due to a new business model. But I’m highly offended by this. I’m the only revenue stream. I have no commission structure (even though there are others in the company that do), and the only reason anyone has this opportunity is because I went out of my way to try to make sure we have income. Am I being completely ridiculous? I actually booked my own ticket outside of the company because I do not enjoy flying, especially in coach, and I also don’t enjoy being made to feel less-than.

It’s not terribly unusual for top execs in a company to fly business or first class while others fly coach … but it’s a bad move for them to do that when you’re the rainmaker. It’s not necessarily a major outrage, but it can be the kind of thing that nudges someone to rethink how much they want to keep sacrificing for a company that doesn’t recognize how much they’re contributing. (That said, ideally you would have spoken up about what you wanted and why — “I avoid flying and generally fly business class when I can’t avoid it. Since I’ve put this deal together and will need to be on the whole next day with the client, I’d like to fly business class for this trip.”)

3. Gender-neutral dress codes

I work in a construction-like industry and noticed that an event invite from the company described the dress code in a kind of male-centric way (it specified wearing a collared shirt, when realistically they just meant business casual, which for women often is not a collared shirt). I want to give feedback to the event coordinator on how to change the wording to be more inclusive. It would be one small way to help improve work for women in this very male-dominated environment, and honestly it confused me so I packed a full week of collared shirts just in case, plus a full week of my normal business casual clothing (I am female and usually wear blouses or sweaters to work). However, I want to make sure we don’t end up with male/female dress codes, because that would not be inclusive to non-binary people.

I’m thinking of suggesting removing the reference to collared shirts, keeping the list of not-allowed items (they list that you cannot wear shorts, etc.), and otherwise not specifying other than to say that the dress code is business casual. Would that work? Do you have recommendations on how to make a clear dress code without it being gendered? It seems to be carefully written due to people not wearing acceptable clothing in the past, so I want to make sure my suggestion is clear and inclusive.

Also, does this make sense to bring up, or am I making too big a deal of this? It doesn’t affect me any more, so I would just be bringing it up because I think it might help other employees in the future. I can’t tell whether my overall experience with sexism in this industry is clouding my perspective on this.

Bring it up! They presented a dress code as for everyone when it was really just for men because they’re not thinking about the presence of other people.

Your suggestions for a revised dress code are good, but it’s worth spelling out that they should avoid gender-specific lists. For example: “To be inclusive we shouldn’t have dress codes by gender either, so perhaps we can simply list examples of what’s acceptable (collared shirts, blouses, business casual in general) and what’s not (shorts) and leave it at that.”

4. Using a non-standard email address when job-hunting

I’m considering choosing a new email provider for privacy reasons, which means that my email address would no longer end with any of the best known domains. Would it hurt me when job searching (or for other business communications) to have a tutanota, posteo, mailbox.org, or other lesser-known email address?

Also, some email providers have support for custom domains. I know that businesses frequently do that to have branded email addresses, but what are your thoughts about regular people using custom domains? What about using one with one of the less common top level domains (the .com/.org/.bank/.ninja part), such as one that happens to also be my surname? Would you avoid those for business communications?

Most hiring managers don’t pay any attention to your email address, including domain, as long as it’s not inappropriate for work (like with references to sex or drugs or hating work).

That said, I’d avoid really unusual replacements for the .com part of the address (like .ninja instead of .com) because a lot of people still don’t know those are a thing and you risk causing confusion if someone doesn’t understand that valentina@warbleworth.ninja is indeed a working address.

5. Should I include medical leave on a resume?

Do you have any recommendations on how or if to include leave or extended absences from work on a resume?

I started my job in May 2021. It was a new role for me, and I ended up needing to take three months of medical leave from January 2022 to March 2022. Now, in May, I’m looking for a new job that’s more compatible with my health. Would it be appropriate to say in my applications that I worked at my current job for one year from May 2021 to May 2022?

I don’t want to over-represent my experience, but I also don’t want to disclose to a potential new employer that I recently took medical leave for my disability, as I think that would make me a less competitive candidate.

If you’re still at that same job, you can indeed list your time there as May 2021 – present (or if you leave this month, May 2021 – May 2022). You’re not expected to call out medical leaves on your resume, just like you’re also not expected to call out parental leave or other forms of leave. You’re fine!

{ 685 comments… read them below }

  1. Ellis Hubris*

    LW#1 – for a time my doctors thought I had hemachromatosis, too much iron in blood. Regular blood draws were the treatment and despite all that extra iron, the blood would be discarded as biowaste. It’s completely appropriate to say you have a medical condition that prohibits blood draws to be used, and just leave it there.

    Also I’m sorry for that completely outdated stigma that is assigned to you for blood draws. Live your best life and rock on.

    1. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

      Agreed. The more vague your reason the better. If you elaborate even slightly some people see that as a starting point for negotiations or they will try and ‘help’ you find a way to donate. So Alison’s suggestion of simply saying you have a medical restriction and leaving it at that and then saying you’re private-about-stuff-like-that-but-don’t-worry is also my recommendation. And I’m also sorry you have to deal with that. Best of luck to you!

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        The other issue is if the restrictions for the lied about condition change and the coworkers remember, so definitely better to be non-specific.
        Also if OP hits on a condition that someone close to the person they are talking to has, they might end up in a detailed conversation they don’t have the knowledge for.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A friend volunteered to work the blood drive and cheerfully explained: “I’m donating my time instead of my blood because they kept finding new reasons to not want it.” If someone pushed she would quit I don’t think HR wants you asking about my tattoos. (None were visible, so…)

        1. All the words*

          I’ve done the same. Working the blood drive by checking in donors rather than giving blood. Perhaps there’s another way for you to assist the drive. Handing out snacks, checking people in, etc., if you want to. Nobody hassled me about giving blood since I was clearly assisting the drive.

      3. Just Another Techie*

        Another option is to sign up. There’s a private and confidential health screen before they actually take your blood. You don’t even have to answer the specific question about sexual activity. Just tell the nurse who does the health screening “I had to sign up because my coworkers are nosy parkers, but I meet one of the temporary deferral criteria.” Then come out of the nurse’s station and say “well I tried but they didn’t want my blood today. What can you do? :shrug:”

        1. mairona*

          This is a pretty good idea because the nurses aren’t going to judge, and will probably understand about busybodies. Also, they may even give you a sticker saying “I tried to give blood” or something like that – I’ve gotten those before. I have my anemia under control enough for my doctor, but my iron levels are still usually *just* under the limit for being able to give so I’ve seen a few of those stickers.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I have done this in the past as well – I didn’t even have to tell the nurse what condition was preventing me, just that I had one.

          But honestly, we need to stop the pressure around blood drives and everybody participating. A stressed out blood donor isn’t a good blood donor.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yes, it needs to stop. I got kicked out of the last blood drive I went to when my hemoglobin tested low. Didn’t even know my iron was out of whack until then (although it does explain a few things). I’m being treated for it, but who knows when it will be sufficient again, if ever? If I already know I can’t give blood right now, I shouldn’t have to waste their time when someone else who can donate is waiting in line behind me.

            1. Darsynia*

              Yep, sometimes the reason you can’t donate is really situational and mundane. During the first months of the pandemic, I signed up for one at my church that was incredibly poorly run. They told us the wrong entrance, and that we could not be late or early to our time slots. I spent seven minutes pounding on the door until someone leaving and walking by the entrance I was knocking at told me they were at the other door. I rushed to get inside– and my heart rate was too high. It never went down in time to donate. They were really strict about the time slots because it was pre-vaccine, so I was disqualified for the whole day, and that was the only day to donate for that drive. I was frustrated and disappointed, but not ashamed!

              1. Darsynia*

                (I should add they were VERY strict about which entrance to use, too. Like I said, poorly run)

        3. Elizabeth Proctor*

          I was going to suggest this too. Sign up and opt-out in the screening. I’ve been rejected multiple times for low iron. Also, usually if you they are offering some kind of benefit, even if you screen out you receive it.

        4. Spero*

          I’ve done this. About half the time even if I want to donate my iron is too low, most of the rest of the time I’ve got recent tattoos but my coworkers don’t need to know that

        5. cal*

          Instead of saying ‘I tried’ simply stick a plaster over the area before you come out.

        6. Dr Wizard, PhD*

          While this is true, if the LW’s town is small enough they might not trust the nurse to keep their confidentiality. They *should* be able to, but I wouldn’t be 100% confident in saying that they *could*.

          1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

            Totally valid concern–though in my tiny town (as in, smaller than my high school graduating class), all the blood donation staffers drive out for the day from the Relatively Big City a couple hours away. The people in Tiny Town are 100% interested in everybody’s business…but the people doing the actual intake/blood draw could hardly care less. They just show up every 8 weeks or whatever, set up shop in the community center, and go home, blissfully unplugged from the local rumor mill.

    2. Cold and Tired*

      Agreed! There are so many conditions and medications that disqualify you from donating blood (being on blood thinners, being on a bunch of acne meds I believe, a bunch of immunosuppressants for things like rheumatoid arthritis, etc). The Red Cross website has lists of conditions and medications that disqualify you if you really have to give a discrete reason.

      That said, “I have a medical condition that disqualified me from donating at this time” would be sufficient for the average person, but if they are as pushy as it seems it may be a good idea to go in with a more concrete disqualification just in case that would be accepted by them without causing you any issues. It shouldn’t have to be that way (and as someone who works in healthcare it really, really makes me angry on your behalf in so many ways that you’re in this spot), but better to be prepared and not need the extra info.

      1. Cold and Tired*

        Also, I personally don’t donate blood because I’m deemed a fainting risk just for routine lab draws, where they only take like 2-3 tubes of blood. I’ve nearly passed out several times on them so I always have to warn my phlebotomist ahead of my draw so they’re prepared, and I have to be super on top of my game prep wise to avoid fainting from that small amount of blood loss. At this point I’ve been advised by the lab staff and my physician to not give blood for that reason alone, since it’s highly likely I will pass out from the amount they take, and no one wants that. So even something as simple as that could be your excuse if people are rude enough to press for one.

        1. nobadcats*

          I feel you! The only time I’ve ever come close to fainting was when the phlebotomist ignored my advice that my left arm veins look really nice, but they roll, so please take from my right arm. She jabbed me several times until my companion, who was sitting across from me said, “She’s going down!” She saw me go white and my eyes rolling. Tech immediately shoved my head between my legs and waited til I recovered before trying to draw from my right arm.

          Lesson: if you can, always have an advocate with you.

          But I also agree, the restrictions on gay and bi men for donating blood is so outdated. That law needs to be changed right now.

          1. Also not a fan*

            Sadly, in the apartheid states of America, the laws are being changed in an ugly direction.

        2. yala*

          Same. Sometimes even just one vial from a finger prick can have me on the floor. And I’m not even unnerved by it. I was asking the technician questions about the machine they were using and feeling fine, and then suddenly…whups, I’m hot and cold and here’s the carpet.

          The one time I tried to donate blood they had to ice me down to keep me from throwing up/passing out, and I was useless for the rest of the day.

          But seriously, I feel like “I can’t for medical reasons” is a complete sentence. There’s probably other coworkers who can’t either.

      2. Artemesia*

        I really disagree. Single young guy who seems healthy — the first thing vague will suggest to jerks is ‘I wonder if he is gay.’ Maybe the med thing works without being specific, but vague medical restrictions are going to promote speculation.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          Only in people who have never donated themselves. Heck, in Canada there is a lengthy deferral (several months) if you had a tattoo recently!

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            Well, OP does say that this town rarely has blood drives – there might well be plenty of people in his office who have vague or ill-informed ideas about how blood donation works.

            I think given the stakes for the OP it’s a bad idea to think “oh well only people who don’t know much about it would think that” or “only jerks would pry further” or “you shouldn’t have to elaborate”. He shouldn’t have to and it is a badly-informed assumption, but that doesn’t really do the OP any good. I think something minor but specific is probably better – even something like “I’m horrible with needles” or “they can never find a vein” or whatever, and then move on.

            1. Observer*

              I think something minor but specific is probably better – even something like “I’m horrible with needles” or “they can never find a vein” or whatever, and then move on.

              The problem with that is that the kind of person who is going to push, is going to push on that, too. And “I’m horrible with needles” is almost more likely to get someone “wondering” than a more vague medical excuse, since it feeds into all sorts of stereotypes.

              I don’t think that there is anything that the OP can say to make people not try to push. So they need to come up with verbiage that shuts the conversation down fairly definitively. And absent a fairly specific lie (which they then need to keep track of), almost anything they can say could make someone suspicious – even if it’s the truth. Because all of these suspicions are based on a combination of ignorance and stereotypes.

          2. Lego Leia*

            Or dental work, or a peircing. My mom couldn’t donate because of histoplasmosis. My first thought when someone says that they can’t isn’t related to sexual proviclity, but the many things that people don’t even know eliminates people.

            1. Lime green Pacer*

              The deferral for dental work (even major procedures, like oral surgery) is now just 3 days with Canadian Blood Services. I’m pretty sure it used to be more. It still might be longer if you get a bone graft, I’m not sure.

        2. Asenath*

          I wouldn’t have thought anyone would assume someone was gay based on this. There are so many reasons people can’t donate, and due to increased awareness of risks, the reasons have increased. I was finally stopped from donating entirely because of where I lived years ago and what I might have been exposed to there. I’d been a regular donor for years before that was considered a serious risk, and in the years since, no one’s blinked an eye when I simply say I can’t donate.

          1. SixTigers*

            I don’t know that “he’s gay!” would be the first thought. Years ago, sure, but today?

            I’d recommend he tell people that he’s a terrible donor — needle phobia, bad veins, low blood pressure, tends to pass out, or whatever strikes his fancy, and stick to it.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              I don’t know that “he’s gay!” would be the first thought. Years ago, sure, but today?

              In some ways, I feel LW#1’s goal is somewhat impossible. Some people are going to jump to sexual orientation with no foundation or justification.

              I’d lean towards claiming a permanent deferral due to three consecutive low-iron readings (as suggested by others today).

              I was deferred for a while after a superficial puncture wound from an old nail, so if LW#1 has an interest in woodworking, that could work for a plausible reason to recuse himself as well.

            2. Shad*

              Yeah, I second the not quite a restriction terrible donor suggestion. I’ve never gotten follow up from saying I have bad veins, especially when I mention how bruised up trying has left me.

              1. OhNo*

                Agreed, I can’t donate because I’m a terrible donor, and in my entire life I’ve rarely gotten follow-up questions.

                If it helps, my usual phrasing is, “I can’t, I’m bad with needles.” Then, if they do ask follow-up questions or push, I usually joke about how I’d love to participate, but nurses usually object to being thrown up on. That’s always been enough to stop them asking further!

              2. Horridveins*

                This. After a second failed, and rather traumatic, attempt at donation, I was told there are other ways I could help people. I’ve used this reply for over two decades and have never been pressed for details.

            3. nelliebelle1197*

              I think that is an old old letter – I am sure I have read a couple of these before.

                1. nelliebelle1197*

                  That is wild – I swear I have read the pushy HR/gay blood donor letter nearly word for word before. I wonder if the letterwriter came to Carolyn Hax or Ask Amy in the last few months? Either that or I am psychic. I am going with the latter.

                2. Hlao-roo*

                  The first link in the “you may also like” (my coworker is a blood drive bully, non-monetary perks, and more) is a letter from 2019 with a pushy office admin and a bisexual letter writer. Similar situation so that might be why this letter felt so familiar.

          2. Umiel12*

            I’m not sure I believe people would automatically assume he was gay either. I usually just flat out tell people I can’t donate because I’m gay, and I am always surprised at the number of people who do not know that is still a restriction. I have had doctors (gay doctors) be surprised by that info, and I have also had people argue with me about it. I had my grandboss tell me more than once that it wasn’t true anymore that gay men can’t donate blood, and I finally told her that a lengthy celibacy requirement for donating blood was effectively the same as a ban.

            1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

              Yeah, this is something that’s much better known in the gay community than outside it.

          3. This is a name, I guess*

            Have you met a conservative bigot before? You might not be constantly looking out for the gays, but lots of conservatives literally believe that being gay means you’re a pedophile and they have literally passed bills in the US that allow bigots to persecute gays via legal witch hunts.

            My partner is a trans woman. You know who clocks her as trans? Other queers and roiling homophobes. Passive homophobes don’t really pay attention. Allies don’t really pay attention. Regular people don’t really pay attention or notice. But, there is a huge number of conservatives out there actively looking for gay people and who scan people’s faces and demeanors for gay cues. Most of the time, they spot gays in the community in order to reinforce their homophobic worldviews. Some of the time, they spot gays in the community to straight-up persecute them.

            The US is also in a moment where “religious freedom” has a lot of power, and I imagine the persecution will be getting worse. Lots of religious bigots are emboldened by this legal protection of religious freedom and believe they are totally justified in their bigotry because “being queer is against their religion”.

            1. Laney Boggs*

              Thank you. I’m really not impressed with the “homophobia is over” comments this thread is getting.

          4. Also not a fan*

            It’s different in conservative areas. Being openly gay is still dangerous and being forced ‘out’ can result in harassment and violence. Yes, conservative people like to speculate on someone’s sexuality. It’s still a thing.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Respectfully, jerks are going to be jerks no matter how well-crafted the statement is.

          OP, I hope you can let go of trying to influence what people privately think. Years before we married, my husband was a single guy who had hep C. He simply said, “Medically, I can’t donate blood.”

          I do have a suggestion that you should NOT have to use, but you might find it helpful. You could offer to donate some money instead. I know you are concerned about fallout perhaps making a monetary donation would appease them enough. Again, you should NOT have to do this. But if you see enough of a concern to write to Alison this may be something for you to consider.

          1. Nonke John*

            Yes. Artemisia’s not wrong that a vague answer will prompt a certain kind of person to think “Gay!” But that sort of person will react the same to a man who doesn’t have a girlfriend he talks about, has a salad for lunch, and wears unpleated trousers that actually fit. There’s just no surefire way to forestall all speculation that you might be gay. If OP1 has established a habit of not sharing a lot about his personal life–which I’m guessing he has, given his environment and tone–then Alison’s (1) it’s one of those medical things but (2) don’t worry–I’m not sick, or anything, is probably about the best idea.

            Well, I guess that if OP1 has one or two coworkers with whom he has a reasonably close relationship, he might find a way to imply to them that he’s sad that he’s ineligible to give blood because of something specific like travel or low iron or a childhood infection. That would at least give him allies who would be likely to put down water-cooler gossip, if there is any. It would be more effective coming from them than from him.

            1. Observer*

              But that sort of person will react the same to a man who doesn’t have a girlfriend he talks about, has a salad for lunch, and wears unpleated trousers that actually fit. There’s just no surefire way to forestall all speculation that you might be gay.

              I had to laugh at your examples. But you are so right.

          2. Critical Rolls*

            Agreed. If people are nosy/rude/gossips, there’s really nothing you can do to make sure they don’t speculate X. Best to keep it simple, keep it vague, and refuse to engage.

        4. AJ*

          Completely agree. Come up with a plausible lie and commit to it. Not being able to donate because you’re gay is A Thing – they even make you read a list before you donate! – People know about it and are going to speculate. Come up with a lie or figure out a good reason not to be there that day.

          1. Observer*

            Yes. They actually MAKE YOU READ A LIST. Which is to say that anyone with a half a brain is going to realize that there are a bazillion reasons why an apparently healthy young man might not be able to donate. The folks who don’t have even half a brain? There is not much that the OP can say to keep them from speculating.

        5. Mockingjay*

          I’m going to disagree. My first thought is there are many reasons why people can’t donate. I can’t myself because I lived in Europe for nearly a decade and was in countries with outbreaks of mad cow disease, (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans). But no one knows that unless I tell them, which I don’t to avoid wild speculations of how/when I’m going to die from CJD (yes this has happened *eyeroll). I do exactly as Alison suggests: a breezy – “oh, not eligible for medical reasons.” And then I change the subject.

          1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

            High five from another Mad Cow ineligible! The American Red Cross has loosened the restrictions on the rest of Europe slightly in recent years, except for the UK. So it’s still a no for me.

            I vote saying medical reasons.

            1. Sasha*

              Yep OP – are you totally sure you never lived in the UK, or received a blood transfusion yourself?

              For women with kids, that would always be my go-to – “big post-partum bleed and needed a blood transfusion, so now I can’t donate”. Nobody at work knows the details of all of your deliveries, so it’s basically non-disprovable.

              For men, I’m sure your appendix ruptured as a kid, or maybe you had a motorbike accident way back when. Maybe overseas.

              1. Another ADDer*

                Receiving a blood transfusion doesn’t make you permanently ineligible to donate, just ineligible for 12 months. A transfusion longer than a year ago isn’t a plausible reason why you can’t. The same is true of unregulated tattoos.

            2. Mitzii*

              Me, too! And the sad part is — the rule is three or more cumulative months, and I was only there a little over four months. Just long enough I guess, but’s not like I was dining on blood sausages every day.

          2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

            I used to be a champion blood giver – but over the course of a year was turned away for various things – once because I’d been on a farm in England and that disqualified me due to mad cow (another time for low iron, which has been a problem for me and I often take supplements BEFORE I go – I didn’t that time) and then Covid hit, I went into a bubble, and haven’t been back. But I though getting disqualified for having walked through a field in England (it was Avebury, I was there for the standing stones) was hilarious (the restriction for having spent a single day on a farm was a month or three, not a big deal – unlike living on an English farm for a while). One of my friend’s kids was just turned away for a new tattoo – that I believe was given in less than licensed circumstances.

            I don’t think most people would think “gay” when the excuse was “medical reasons” – they’d think medication or hepatitis.

            1. Just Another Techie*

              The rules on tattoos have changed! If you got your tattoo in a state that regulates tattoo parlors, and if you got inked in a licensed parlor, you’re good to go. The states that don’t regulate tattoos are Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. If you got a tattoo in one of those states, it’s now only a 3 month deferral.

              1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

                She got her tattoo while on study abroad in a foreign country and her Mom isn’t sure that it was even done professionally – the story is light on details and sketchy – as is the tattoo…..I wouldn’t let her donate blood right now either.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Oops, I walked through a field full of cowpats at Avebury, but it was years and years before I started giving blood. I was only in England for three weeks during the CJ time period and they always blow that off.

          3. Bluesboy*

            Ooh, me too. I live in Italy, and the law here is that if you lived in the UK for more than 6 months in the 1980s, you can’t donate blood.

            I was born in the UK in 1979 and lived there until 2002, so…pretty sure they don’t want my blood, and it’s never going to change.

            When I first got here there was a bit of ‘oh my God, you’re going to die from Mad Cow, is it contagious?’ but now all these years later, honestly, I don’t think that many people even remember it.

            It’s a shame, because I would be happy to give blood! But it is what it is at this point.

            1. LittleDoctor*

              TBH I don’t think it’s a shame that people at geographic risk of Creutzfeld-Jakob can’t donate. It’s probably the single most sensible restriction that exists outside of barring people with active blood-borne illnesses.

              1. Bluesboy*

                Agree 100% with the concept.

                Given though that the 80s finished more than 30 years ago, and I haven’t developed it yet, the chances of me having it are incredibly low at this point.

                Plus the fact that there are only 5 known cases of it being transferred via a blood transfusion in the UK (where pretty much all donated blood comes from UK residents), I’m not sure that refusing blood from the 30,000 UK citizens living in Italy is a proportionate response.

                That said, I’m not a medical professional, so happy to accept if I’m wrong.

                1. This is a name, I guess*

                  I suggest reading a book about prions. The Family That Couldn’t Sleep is a little dated, but highly readable. You pretty much can’t kill a prion, and they will literally contaminate every piece of equipment they touch forever. It’s unfortunate and stigmatizing, but it’s also based on our lack of medical/biological knowledge of prion diseases than it is about stigma.

                  HIV concerns, on the other hand, are based completely on homophobic stigma attached to HIV in the early years. The majority of people with transmissible HIV at this point aren’t queer. Blood is tested for HIV now. However, in the 1980s, the religious right decided that HIV’s prevalence among queer men was because they “deserved” it, and used the fear of the unknown to stage a really horrific backlash against LGBTQ+ rights. It was really gross.

                  There are some potential parallels (primarily leveraging the unknown medical science to restrict donation), but the difference is that prions are still somewhat of a mystery, while HIV isn’t.

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  Just guessing, but presumably they consider all y’all at elevated risk anyway by having been there during that period. So it’s equal footing if everyone in the pool is past the same threshold (more than 3 months between whatever years it was).
                  Personally I was there just under 3 months cumulatively during that period, so I eked by. I’m also a vegetarian but not sure if that matters in terms of the risk.

          4. This is a name, I guess*

            In a large, cosmopolitan city, sure! Lots of people live abroad. In a small conservative community, living abroad is uncommon (unless there’s a military base), so I think the major assumption will be, “he’s gay!”

        6. George*

          Honestly, “single young guy who seems healthy” is going to make jerks wonder if he’s gay regardless.

        7. Verthandi*

          I would have thought the obvious assumption would be low hemoglobin. This is very common. Many people go in thinking they can donate, and get deferred for exactly that reason. You don’t even have to have worrisome anemia to have hemoglobin too low for donation.

        8. Observer*

          Single young guy who seems healthy — the first thing vague will suggest to jerks is ‘I wonder if he is gay.’

          Honestly, I think you have to be pretty ignorant for that. Especially since a lot of people actually don’t realize that this restriction exists.

            1. Observer*

              No, I didn’t. It’s not like those people don’t know that the other restrictions exist. Nor does everyone, even conservative people, know what the actual restrictions are.

        9. Minimal Pear*

          I would probably go to “gay or has a medical condition I don’t know about” but since I am gay (in an umbrella term sense) with various not-obvious medical conditions I’m biased haha

        10. Spero*

          I work with a largely gay client population and even then my mind would never jump straight to gay. There are an insane number of benign and oft invisible medical conditions and medications, as well as travel/tattoos/etc, that disqualify and frankly the sum total of people who have one or more of those in the population is much higher than the population of sexually active gay men.

      3. Formerly Ella Vader*

        Everyone who can’t give blood, but who don’t mind telling the nosy blood-drive advocates at work why: you can make a difference for people in the OP’s situation by *not* justifying your own refusal. And anyone who feels safe enough at work, whether or not you are going to give blood yourself, can speak up – when the email first comes out from HR or management, you can respond and suggest they consider rewording from “Everyone” to “Anyone who is able to donate”. If there are contests and perqs, which might encourage grassroots cheerleading, you can keep reminding the same rewording to all the well-meaning grassroots encouragers. And you might even talk to HR or management or whoever dreams up the perqs and contests about how these contests and prizes can inadvertently lead to making people feel they need to disclose their private medical information. While I was on deferral from Canadian Blood Services because of being a woman who had had sex with MSM (men who have sex with men), I didn’t always feel safe about disclosing that, but I often reminded people to make their campaigns more inclusive and respectful.

      4. Carlie*

        Having a blood pressure or heart rate that is too high will get you turned down as well.

      5. For the Moment*

        I have SO MANY conditions that mean that I shouldn’t/can’t donate blood. Anemia, some meds I’m on, past medical history, fainting and low blood pressure, needle phobia and panic attacks, etc. No one wants to deal with me in the back of a blood mobile. They barely want to deal with me in a fully equipped lab.

        When people ask I go with “I can’t, I wish I could!” and we move on. People who go from there to ask intrusive medical questions are welcome to a hard stare until they remember that they are asking intrusive medical questions of a coworker.

        Like many interactions, breezy tone where you’re not making a big deal of it so they shouldn’t either goes a long way.

      6. cal*

        It is sufficient to say a medical condition prevents it. If someone tries to push then push back:
        ‘reallllllly, you feel comfortable asking for my personal information??? Have you ever noticed me asking for yours???

        Double bonus if you can manage a ‘you are stupid’ look/tone.

      7. Wenike*

        Personally, I’d love to donate blood but I don’t on my own recognizance, because I’m both a hard stick and my blood does not want to leave my body (donating takes me a full hour to fill up the bag instead of the normal half hour). No nurse wants to deal with that particular combination of issues in a limited time slot like a blood drive.

    3. Mad Cow - not*

      A simple “I don’t meet the eligibility criteria” is enough. For me it’s living in the UK for 3 or more from 1980 to 1996 (mad cow disease), but colleagues don’t need to know what criterion/a you don’t meet.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        Same! There are so many reasons though, and they don’t have to be medical. A bad blood/needle phobia would enough of a reason not to as well IMO. People need to stop being so nosy.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Unfortunately nosy coworkers aren’t likely to back off when they hear “phobia” – nosy people looooove to offer advice about how to cure phobias.

          1. cal*

            That’s easy. Usually saying ‘I’m going to vomit’ solves the problem. My mate did that once.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, the same restriction applies to me, too. I also have very fragile veins, and just getting lab work done can be a hassle. Sometimes the phlebotomist finds a vein easily, but it can sometimes take more than 15 minutes.

        1. gmg22*

          I have wonky veins too, and the one time I tried to donate blood, they couldn’t get a full pint out of me before the drip stopped. I wish I were making up what happened next: The nurse yelled at me for not knowing in advance that this would happen (even though I had explained ahead of time that it was my first donation and that sometimes finding a vein on me was a challenge). It got worse — after I went out in the waiting area and got my juice and coffee, I quietly burst into tears, at which point she CAME OUT FROM BEHIND THE CURTAIN on purpose to yell at me some more for having the audacity to be upset.

          I don’t live where this happened anymore and TBH wouldn’t expect a bonkers response like that in my current community … but suffice to say I find other ways to help out and am not going to put myself through THAT again. If someone were nosy enough to bug me on this? Yeah, I’d probably just go ahead and inflict this story on them too.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Cue me jumping in the TARDIS and going back in time to yell at that nurse. >:(

      3. Kivrin*

        Yup, this is the line I’ve got prepared in case anyone ever tries to get me donating blood. And if they get nosy and ask which criterion I don’t meet – “One of the essential ones.”

        I’m just the teensiest bit disappointed I’ve never had the opportunity to use it.

      4. NYWeasel*

        I work for a fairly large employer, and people get pretty enthusiastic about the blood drives. When I was younger, I was actually too thin to donate, which was a convenient excuse for a mild phobia I had of needles at the time. Now I’m heavier and I no longer have the phobia but I tend to feel crappy overall at least 1-2 times a week for a bunch of minor but pervasive reasons, so I’ve never signed up bc I don’t need any more reasons for feeling bad, even if it’s only for a short time.

        I’ve found that the easiest sidestep is fussing over the person that’s asking. Sort of like:
        Susie: NYW, did you sign up to donate today?
        Me: Oh wow, I forgot that’s today! Did you already donate?
        Susie: Oh yes, this donation brought me up to 5 gallons! They have plenty of appointments for this afternoon!
        Me: That’s incredible that you’ve donated so much! How often do you donate?
        (Ask 3-4 more questions about their donations and make a lot of fuss over how cool it is, then escape the convo by remembering something that I have to go do right then…)

        This generally works bc most of the people asking are only super passionate about trying to recruit me for a few minutes, and bc we’re a large enough employer that I can usually dodge Susie for the rest of the day bc we’re all in lots of meetings. If you are mostly sitting at a desk all day next to your Susie and can’t avoid seeing her, then yeah, I’d probably shift to one of the many other explanations people are outlining here.

        1. Hazel*

          I have learned from AAM that my enthusiasm and curiosity are not nor important that other people’s privacy and comfort. It’s funny because I’m usually “live and let live,” but there have been times when I’ve got it wrong in the name of trying to make conversation.

          Also, I get that people who ask others why they aren’t signed up might be hoping you just forgot, but then they could just give you a reminder instead of a question.

          It’s like people think, “it’s so easy, everyone should do it,” But it’s not easy or possible for “everyone.”

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        Asia travel knocked out my husband and daughter. A vague past trip could to the job here.

        1. That one over there*

          You could also put in for a day off that day! If
          That doesn’t work, I would just say you have a medical condition that exempts you!

      6. Seeking Second Childhood*

        U.S. Navy veterans can be disqualified if their vessels were assigned to the North Atlantic during that time range, because that meant re-provisioning in the UK.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          I just read this and thought “how could they assign blood vessels to a specific loca—- oh nevermind!”

          Happy Monday, Folks ;)

      7. Harper the Other One*

        This was what I was coming to suggest. Eligibility includes iron levels, blood pressure, places you’ve lived, medications, medical conditions, recent tattoos… so many things!I think that phrasing is better than saying “medical reasons” because it’s even less specific.

      8. Lily Rowan*

        Agreed! “I’m not eligible” followed by Alison’s “I want to keep medical stuff private” will deal with everyone but very overly invested jerks, and there’s not much to be done about them anyway.

      9. Bronze Betty*

        Agreed. Keep it simple. I like Alison’s wording and I wouldn’t go any further. Just because someone asks, doesn’t mean they are entitled to more information.

    4. Artemesia*

      If you say that people will speculate that you are gay. I’d pick a condition — be anemic, or have hemochromatosis, or be ‘on a med’ or have had hepatitis as a kid and thus unfortunately you’ve never been allowed to donate. ( my husband had hapatitis when he was 5 and has been refused for donation in the past because of that but check to see if that is still true ). When you are vague about ‘medical reasons’ snoopy people speculate and being gay is one of the things snoopy people will fasten on.

    5. NotARacoonKeeper*

      Ugh, this is a garbage situation! I’m sorry that you’re being pushed like this at work. Canada is changing our rules now, and I think it’s landing on excluding people (all genders) who have had multiple or new partners in the last 3 months, and who have had anal sex in that time.

      I was recently excluded from donating because I was awaiting a diagnosis (for a genetic collagen disorder, nothing contagious or dangerous). Because of COVID and long waitlists, it took me 22 months to get my diagnosis. (Hmm just looked it up, and I am now excluded permanently from donating in several countries including the UK. So “I have a genetic disorder that preclude me from donating” could work if people keep pushing for info, or “My doctor won’t let me donate until complete some testing”.)

      I also had a friend who was born in the UK and moved here to Canada even before she was old enough to eat beef, but she’s excluded from donating, for life. Maybe “I was in the UK in the restricted era – mad cow disease!” could be a lie that shuts people down permanently, if you’re willing to keep that lie going, and if you’re old enough.

      I really hope that you don’t need any of these, and that people just respect your privacy!

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, the rules in th UK were changed a little while back – it now asks you not to donate if you’ve had sex with a new partner or with multiple partners within the last three months, or had anal sex, regardless of the gender(s) of the people involved, which I think makes far more sense and is not discriminatory.

    6. London Lass*

      I have tried to give blood as regularly as possible ever since I became old enough, but have been ineligible several times for different reasons. In my case those were: international travel to high-risk countries; treatment and a subsequent exclusion period for a serious illness; and low iron levels. My iron isn’t low enough for it to be a problem for me, but it has frequently come in at just below the threshold for them to accept my blood. (I’m not sure if the process is the same in the US, but in the UK they always test a drop for this before you can donate. This has happened to me several times recently, to the point I am giving up on trying.)

      1. Lime green Pacer*

        Another long-time donor here. I have had to pass on appointments I previously made, simply because I wasn’t feeling entirely well that day. (Sore throat, usually.) It happens!

        1. Bagpuss*

          that’s a good point – not sure about the US but here in the UK one of the tandard questions is ‘are you feeling fit and well today’ and if the asnwer s m, then they turn you away.
          That said, it may be less useful if the drive covers several days or comes back frequently. Here, you are only allowed to donate once evey 16 weeks (women) and 12 weeks (men) so the change of someone remembering that you were unwell last time is fairly remote, but if you are allowed to donate more frequently or if the company is large enough that the return more regualrly to fit eveyone in then it migt be more of an issue with people spotting a pattern (although I guess you can fall back on ‘admitting’ to being really dqueamish, at that point, if you wanted.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Me too. I feel like either a dislike of needles or low iron are the most common reasons I personally hear people give for not being able to donate. If you want to OP, you could in theory even word it in a way where you aren’t actually lying. Something like:

        “Oh, I want to but they keep turning me away! They’re so picky about iron levels.”

        Two true statements! They’re not related, but the person you are talking to will assume they are :)

    7. Well...*

      Low iron is a good excuse! I’m borderline and they always prick my fingers a few times (let’s try the other hand! Shake your arms and we’ll try again! ….) and then turn me away. It hurts and I’ve just stopped trying.

      Nobody ever follows up when I say, “my iron is just barely too low, so they won’t take it.” It’s a super boring reason. You’re also, of course, allowed to keep it vague.

      1. DarthVelma*

        Borderline anemic here as well. I’ve tried a few times to give blood and almost always my iron is too low…but the one time it wasn’t, I had an experience I’m perfectly willing for the OP to borrow.

        I donated and then sat there for about 20 minutes or so. Had a cookie and a drink. Chatted a bit with the attendant while they made sure I was going to be ok. They cleared me to leave and I went back upstairs to work. About 20-30 minutes after that, my knees gave out under me and I nearly fainted. Felt very sick to my stomach and wobbly and had to have someone come get me because I wasn’t really safe to drive home. I let the Red Cross know what happened and they have it on file now not to let me donate blood.

        Some people’s bodies just don’t react well to losing that much blood.

        1. Never Boring*

          I am the same way. Every time I donate blood, I get flu-like symptoms for a couple of days (dizzy, lightheaded, fatigue, etc.) So I stopped for a long time, and then 9/11 came and I waited in line for 4 hours to donate blood. And then I remembered why I don’t donate blood. Called in sick to work for a couple of days after that because I couldn’t even sit up on the couch for any length of time. Luckily I had been interviewed by the local paper while I was waiting to donate, so everyone at work believed me!

        2. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Anemic is a great reason because plenty of people are anemic who otherwise look healthy and fine – it rarely comes up for me other than blood donation. But, I would recommend not using it if the OP is vegetarian or vegan because then people will endlessly hassle you about how you wouldn’t be anemic if you would just eat meat (which is not true, but save yourself the hassle).

          1. This is a name, I guess*

            Also, OP is a young man, and anemia is much, much less common in men, especially young men.

            1. cal*

              Wht does it matter if it is less common? Unless they will outright say to him ‘you’re lying’. If that is the case OP has a much bigger problem.

      2. Beauty*

        The finger prick keeps me from donating. I find it to be torture and will make me hyperventilate after a terrible urgent care tried to milk a CBC out of my finger while I cried in pain, and a doctor’s office who did it and the nurse remarked that the lancets they used seemed to be more painful than usual. Poke me anywhere BUT my damn fingertip!

        I’m aware some places now have non-invasive equipment, but no one around me does. That may actually increase donations among the needle-phobic.

    8. Luna*

      I have a clotting disorder, so I believe I am legally not allowed to donate blood. But I’m not sure, I have heard conflicting information. Some say I can’t, others say I can because the blood gets treated or something like that. But to err on the safe side, I don’t donate.

      1. Lora*

        Oh wow, I used to make biologics for clotting disorders – it depends on the severity I believe, but when I asked where we were getting the clotting-deficient blood for our research use, I was told whenever a clotting-deficient person comes to the ER for treatment, they ask if they can just…grab a bucket for us, I guess? I assume they phrased it nicer, more like “would you want your blood to be used in medical research to improve treatment for clotting disorders” as opposed to, “mind if we just grab a quart real quick while we get your Factor IX out of the freezer?” Anyways, we do appreciate it very much!

    9. Love to WFH*

      There are SO MANY things that disqualify people from donating blood. Lots of prescriptions, including one for acne. Anemia, Having lived in England, or served in the US military in Europe, during a period of “mad cow” in the beef supply. Traveling to quite a variety of countries. A tattoo in the past 12 months. Family history of some diseases. The list goes on.

      Anyone who has donated knows the list is long, and there are many possible reasons

    10. Ontariariario*

      The Canadian system has a way of dealing with peer pressure, and the US may too. You can go through the screening process and lie about being gay, and then at the end of the screening the nurse leaves and there is a spot where you can anonymously say that you don’t want them to use your blood. You have to actively choose a Yes/No sticker. This does waste the resources for the blood bank, but if someone absolutely can’t avoid the pressure to donate and feels pressured to lie about whether they qualify then the Canadian system has a way to deal with this. I hope the US system does too, but definitely check ahead of time if anyone is relying on this option.

      1. EPLawyer*

        they do. You can say that you don’t want your blood used. But its better to just go with the vague “don’t meet the eligibility criteria,” so you don’t even have to worry about getting to the point of having to say please don’t use my blood.

        I would not use the low iron one. I do have anemia and all the advice I got from just take an iron pill to have a burger beforehand did not help. I was a BIG donor before I developed anemia (not the cause of it) and not being able to donate really bothered me. being told it was an easy fix did not help.

        1. Tau*

          Or have people telling you to eat spinach, which isn’t actually a useful source of iron.

          I admit the suggestions to lie about low iron don’t sit super well with me, probably because I’ve had significant problems with anemia in the past and so I’d be quite worried about any colleague who said that and wouldn’t consider it a “harmless” illness. A vague “not eligible”, if necessary combined with “there’s so many categories of exclusion, you know that for instance anyone who visited the UK during the 80s-90s isn’t eligible?” seems like it should be enough.

          1. Ontariariario*

            Blood donations require an unusually high level of iron within the normal range, so having levels that are too low for donations is not equivalent to having anemia. I used to donate and would have to take iron supplements to ensure that my levels were high enough.

        2. Ontariariario*

          Agreed that donating unusable blood is a waste, but if it is the only option then it is good for people to know that this exists. There are situations where families might pressure someone, and it can be much harder to find excuses if a parent or sibling was applying the pressure, which is why this option exists.

      2. CantBearToUseName*

        This is a thing here. I volunteered with a major blood drive in my area (where sorority and fraternity members were pressured heavily to donate sadly) and the number of people who would self select out was high.

    11. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Where I donate blood (German Red Cross), there is a discreet check mark on the form to self-ecxlude your blood. So you avoid any peer pressure and could give blood which then is discarded (or used for research where there is no infection risk).
      This is especially useful when we have blood drives at the office.

      1. Nina*

        Where I am (New Zealand) they give you a number to call written on a little card, and say to call at any time up to 48 hours after donating if you get an upset stomach or think of any reason your blood shouldn’t be used – and they don’t ask for a reason, just say okay thanks for telling us.

    12. Akcipitrokulo*


      I can’t donate because I had heart surgery & transfusion as a child in the 80s.

      There are so many reasons! Vague is good.

    13. Been There*

      my mom was falsely diagnosed with Hep C – and even though multiple tests have proven that the red cross has a false diagnosis, removing herself from the list is such a pain that she just never bothered and is totally ineligible for donation, despite having a medical condition that makes her a rare donor. It’s nuts.

      1. Gray Lady*

        My husband had a distant relative (first cousin once removed) who contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob while living in southern Africa (a known hotspot). There is no established genetic link, he had donated gallons before, and the relationship is distant, but when he was asked if he had a “relative” with the condition, he answered yes, and now he is forever barred from donating.

      2. I'm On My Way!*

        this happened to me, but not Hep C…some thing that I end up googling about once a decade to try to figure out what it actually is, but which, when I got the letter in the mail, I did get actual testing to make sure it was a false positive. This is a great out because there’s really not much you can do to fix it. And it does suck, because I’m also a rare donor.

    14. iglwif*

      I’m a regular donor now, but for 20+ years was not allowed to donate because I had to tick the “cancer” box. Canada changed that rule about 3 years ago (from “absolutely not” to “as long as you’ve been cancer free for X years”) and now I am eligible again!

      Which means I am drearily familiar with the LONG, LONG list of reasons people can be disqualified from donating blood, from IV drug use to travel/residence in certain countries to recently getting a tattoo. (Canada has recently adjusted the restrictions on men who have sex with men, but let’s just say the adjustment is really not enough.) Plus of course they test your hemoglobin count at every donation appointment and if it’s too low or (more unusually) too high, nope.

      So: totally agree, a vague “I can’t for medical reasons” is the best option here.

    15. Hats Are Great*

      I studied abroad in London, and was there just long enough to be excluded from donating blood due to mad cow risk. In case anybody wants to steal that excuse.

      “You are not eligible to donate if: From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in any country in the United Kingdom (UK),”

      Usually I just say, “Oh, I can’t, I’m a mad cow risk.” “WHUT” “I spent too much time abroad during the mad cow risk years, the Red Cross is very uptight about it.” You totally don’t have to specify WHERE you were abroad or for how long and you can always add “Oh, gosh, that was 25 years ago now, I don’t remember anymore, I just know I’m excluded.”

    16. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Medical condition here too! I started donating regularly in June of 2020 (mine is the most popular blood type apparently, and, between the pandemic and all the people ending up in hospitals during the protests, I figured it would be in extra demand). Was turned away in Dec 2020 and then again in late summer of 2021 because of low iron. My PCP told me I won’t be able to donate again until my periods end. In talking to friends, I found out that being barred from donating for low iron is very common. Totally fine to say “medical restriction”, everyone should be able to understand.

      Now, why did I not donate prior to June 2020? Because I did it once with a group of friends in 2018, found out about the rule that prohibits gay men from donating, and was so disgusted that decided not to donate again until that rule is lifted. I hate hate hate that restriction, and wish it would go away already, we’re well into the 21st century and this relic of a misguided response to the 1980s AIDS epidemic is long past its expiration date. How is it that my friends who are in happy, committed monogamous marriages are not “safe enough” to donate, but I, who have not been in such a marriage since 2010, am always assumed to be “safe”, no (well, almost no) questions asked?! This makes no sense.

    17. quill*

      Yes. That medical condition could be anything from fainting (common for multiple causes) to nerve damage in the usual area where blood is drawn, to your blood is unusable because of some metabolic condition… the point is don’t be specific and also make it as boring as possible.

    18. Ridiculous Penguin*

      I have polycythemia vera, which requires therapeutic phlebotomy and chemo meds, both of which prohibit me from donating blood. But I definitely don’t want my employer knowing that I have a rare form of (non-fatal) blood cancer just so I can get them off my back during a blood drive. Compulsory participation is a bad idea all around.

    19. Girasol*

      I gave for years until they started screening me out at the finger-poke station for inadequate iron. I tell nosy parkers that. Of course I get unsolicited medical advice on eating spinach and supplements and so on, but at least it gets them off the subject of blood donation.

    20. L'étrangere*

      There’s another possible angle to the white lie OP: just don’t tell the red cross you’re gay. There’s no blood test for that :-) . We know this is an insanely discriminating policy anyways, so why should you be bound by it? You don’t mention being HIV+, and they’ll be testing for that anyways, so you’re not endangering anyone

      1. Letters from BJ*

        Yep. You can just… lie on the screening test and donate blood.

        Now, if you’re gonna break the rules, you need to do so responsibly, so, y’know, you have to make sure that you’ve had a recent negative HIV test and that you used appropriate protection with all your recent partners (condoms, PrEP, exclusivity, non-penetrative sex, etc), and go with some other plan if that’s not the case. But the whole point of the screening is to reduce the chances of HIV transmission through blood donation, and it’s not actually asking the right questions to accomplish that goal, so if you are instead asking those questions of yourself (and answering them honestly), then the fact that you answered the bad questions untruthfully does not cause any harm.

        Some argue that lying is itself intrinsically bad. But there are also those who hold that you have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. You have to go with your conscience, but if you think that the good done by breaking a bigoted and ineffective rule in order to donate blood far outweighs any harm associated with the small-scale dishonesty required to get there, just know that you’re not alone.

        1. Random observation*

          “you have to make sure that you’ve had a recent negative HIV test and that you used appropriate protection with all your recent partners”

          Straight people can get HIV too, you know. Why shouldn’t they do the same thing?

      2. Temperance*

        I disagree with this. If the goal is to end the homophobic and discriminatory policy, secretly donating blood doesn’t show the need for the policy to be repealed. Gay and bi men stepping forward to say that they would donate in good numbers but for the policy is more likely to change things.

        1. metadata minion*

          Gay and bi men have been saying they want to donate for years. I’m not saying it won’t work eventually, but it’s not like it isn’t happening.

    21. Hummer on the Hill*

      Alison and LW: I’ve donated blood for a long long time. There are SO many reasons for people to disqualify. Being gay is just one bullet in a sea of exclusions. (Got a tattoo? Been to Europe?) So, feel free to be vague. It could mean *anything*. Alison: Please reinforce this when people write in with this issue. I’ve seen a handful over the years of following your blog.

    22. Sequoia*

      I work at a blood bank – there are SOOOO many reasons you could potentially be deferred from donating blood. Seriously, the SOP that lists various medical conditions is 34 pages long! You could always come up with a series of things that sound ridiculous, and cycle through them. “I was bitten by a wild porcupine.”(wild animal bites = 12 month deferral) “I have chicken pox.” (deferred for 4 weeks after recovery) “I had Ebola as a child.”

  2. Rainy*

    For LW 1, if you want, you can borrow my reason!

    I gave blood for the first and only time at a campus blood drive in undergrad, and the people staffing the blood drive were so inept that I now have serious panic reactions to people trying to put butterfly needles in me, so I don’t do it unless I absolutely have to.

      1. Rainy*

        I was in the hospital last weekend and every stick was a misery. :/ It’s been almost 30 years and I’m still so, so needlephobic.

    1. M_Lynn*

      Use my reason! I had a great-great uncle (or some such extremely distant relative) who had a disease called CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Science knows so little about it, and it’s so incredibly awful, that even knowing that someone had it means that no one in my family can ever give blood. Ever. This reason has nothing to do with you at all, which you may prefer so you won’t have to talk to your coworkers about traumatic responses or phobias or anything.

      1. nnn*

        Oh, I like this! It’s not about OP at all, and no one could make an argument that OP should or could “fix” the issue by being more virtuous (which some personalities are inclined to argue in response to some exclusions).

      2. Emmers*

        My great uncle also had CJD and we are all forever band from giving blood or organs to anyone else. Good enough excuse for anyone needing one!

      3. Heidi*

        I’m not sure about this reason. It’s unusual enough that it might invite questions that would force the OP to expand the lie. I’m also not sure that letting people believe that the OP is at risk (even a small risk) for developing a fatal neurodegenerative disease is really preferable to them knowing the real reason.

        1. Clorinda*

          “I don’t really know anything about him except he died of it. {nosy person asks name to google fictional relative} Thanks, but I’d rather not share any more details.”

      4. Emmy Noether*

        Thanks to your comment, today I learned there are different types of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. I was aware of the food-transmitted type (“mad cow disease”, small risk of exposure to which will also exclude from donating blood in some places), but not the genetic type that your relative must have had.

        1. Artemesia*

          I think they just don’t know rather than it actually being a ‘genetic reason.’ It might be but most cases that are not traced to food are thought to be spontaneous mutations. But people don’t know for sure. I’d be worried that ‘terrible genetic disease’ would stick when it was time for promotion or even layoffs.

        2. emmers*

          Its less that there are two types and more that they don’t know for *sure* there isn’t a genetic component. My great uncle probably got it in Spain in the 70s but since it just shows up years later and the only diagnostic tool is an autopsy and its a terrible way to go, people are cautious.

    2. tamarak & fireweed*

      It’s a good and common reason. But I think Alison got this right. I understand why LW1 feels like as a closeted gay man the situation is extra-special – and it is! But staying closeted here is quite straightforward as many many have medical obstacles to blood donation, and setting a norm to limit discussion of private medical information at work is a good thing to put your foot down about. It doesn’t endanger your closeted status either (well, not as a rule…)

    3. Yay Anemia*

      I could not donate blood because my blood pressure was too low. That’s another reason.

      1. nnn*

        That’s hilarious, because last time I couldn’t donate because my blood pressure was too high!

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        I was also below the weight limit for most of my adult life. People were always like “just gain weight!” but that wasn’t going to make the fact that I was in the UK in ’89 go away.

        1. Bluesboy*

          A friend of mine was borderline too light to give blood, they would always tell her she was too light until they looked again at her sheet and realised that she had a rare blood type. At which point it would become “well…I guess we could make an exception just this once”, drain her like a vampire, and leave her basically unable to move for a week. It was awful. Kudos to her for realising how important her blood was, and continuing to go, but…just really awful, and so unprofessional.

      3. EchoGirl*

        Yeah, I donated a few times when I was younger, but my already naturally lower-than-normal blood pressure has been a bit tricky these last few years, so I’m a bit hesitant to do it again unless and until I can fully sort the problem out. I feel kind of bad because I have a high-demand blood type, but I also need to look out for my own health, and I’m no good to anyone if I pass out/get sick to my stomach while donating.

      4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        They’ve never wanted my blood, despite having a rare blood group.

        One look at my list of medications and it’s ‘nope’. And I am gonna be on those for the rest of my life. There’s a lot of psychological medications that they absolutely do not want.

        Also I have low blood pressure, really low blood iron…

        Basically if asked at work why I don’t donate I say ‘they don’t want mine’

        1. quill*

          That whole island must be starved for blood due to BSE…

          I was ineligible for several years because every time the ban ran out I’d go to ANOTHER area of the world where malaria was endemic… I should probably go give some before I get my ears pierced again. After I figure out if anything I’m on is contraindicated for giving blood, I’m not gonna go if they can’t use it.

          1. quill*

            Lol put this on the wrong comment. Supposed to be a reply to Tiny Soprano. Happy monday AAM!

        2. Roseberry Hill*

          Hey! Are you actually quite sure about that? Because for a long time I was misinformed about not being able to donate due to my psych meds, and it turns out it’s all fine (and I take what could be considered some serious heavy-duty stuff, so I never questioned it) I think the actual list of banned meds is very small, and includes things like anticoagulants and some hardcore acne meds. If I’m eligible to donate with my huge cocktail of meds, I’m sure you can (if you want to, of course! It’s still entirely a personal choice. Even with the meds I can’t hold down a job, so doing something small for the world like donating makes me feel tons better.)

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Checked it again a couple of years back and yeah, they absolutely do not want my antipsychotics.

            1. Roseberry Hill*

              Oh, that’s annoying! Are you in the US? I’m in Scotland and I’m perfectly clear to donate. Just goes to show these rules are a bit arbitrary, aren’t they?

            2. Shaky hands, cold feet*

              That’s so weird! My MIL works at a blood bank and they’re not worried about psych meds, because they’re neurochemical; they don’t affect the blood. The meds they can’t take are anticoagulants and acne meds that stick around in the bloodstream. Whoever was advising you needs retraining!

      5. Pocket Mouse*

        I also couldn’t donate (on multiple occasions) because my blood pressure was too low. This was early in the pandemic when I really wanted to be able to share my antibodies!

        I’ve also been turned away for low iron and recent travel on occasion. I like the idea for OP to indicate he’s sure he’ll be turned away for something, but that there are a number of different reasons that could apply. (Which is true! He may well have too-low iron or blood pressure or not feel well on the day of the drive even if he wasn’t turned away due to questionnaire responses.)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          As someone with naturally low blood pressure, I have nearly passed out while giving blood, & I am useless for at least an hour afterwards.

          Last time I gave blood, the very rude nurse had trouble finding a good vein, couldn’t get the bag full (so it was useless), gave me a huge hematoma, & acted like it was somehow all my fault.

          Since I already had a fear of needles (blood donation was my “I’ll be brave for others” thing), I decided that it wasn’t worth it & haven’t donated since.

      6. TheRain'sSmallHands*

        I’ve had that one as well on my “well, that was a trip I didn’t need to make” list of donation tries.

    4. LRL*

      During my first attempt my hemoglobin was so low that the people staffing repeatedly told me I was dead and called me an ambulance. It was not a good day.

      1. Cold and Tired*

        My old ONGYN when I was younger always did the finger prick blood test for hemoglobin and every time without fail panic would ensure when my levels were freakishly low. But it’s just a genetic thing (my mom somehow gets even worse results) mixed with the point of care lab machines coming in lower than a full standard cbc or other blood test in a real lab, so eventually I had to start just refusing the test to avoid the panic. But I’m positive that would be enough to disqualify me from giving blood too, even though for my body it’s normal.

    5. GammaGirl1908*

      There are about a skillion reasons why someone can’t give blood. I feel like
      LW thinks that his is the most obvious one and that people will leap to that conclusion, but that’s not the case*. Just stay vague. LW can even say, “I can’t give for medical reasons, but I’ve made a monetary donation.” That might change the conversation, and just get people to thank you and move on.

      *I don’t give blood because my veins are extremely small and hard to find, and getting a decent donation out of me requires so much effort from the Red Cross people that they’ve told me not to come back.

      1. Tin Cormorant*

        The one time I went to one of those mobile blood donation buses, they had to turn me away because they didn’t have small enough needles for my veins. It was such a hassle going through all the paperwork and questions before finding that out that I haven’t tried one of those a second time to see if it’s a common problem.

      2. Liz T*

        There are actually not that many things that rule a person out from EVER donating blood.

        1. Green great dragon*

          This thread is full of reasons that rule a person out from donating for at least a signficant amount of time. Mine is that I vomited, and they told me thanks but no thanks, they’re not in that much need.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Similarly, I have a strong vasovagal response to any draw (I can’t do fingerprick tests, for example) and after a couple of strong reactions our blood service have told me to stay away permanently.

            They explained that it isn’t very efficient to take a unit of blood from a person, then have them collapse in the street and need to have that unit put back in with interest :D

            1. kitryan*

              Yeah, I also get faint/pass out if I have to focus on the process, so I can tune out and lie down for blood draws at the Drs office but the finger stick and filling out forms and the time to fill up the bag… there’s no way I’m staying conscious long enough. The one time I tried, I lost it while getting the finger stick and took up 2 nurses’ time getting me back on my feet for 0 result. I don’t try anymore because I don’t want to waste every one’s time.
              And that’s presuming I’m not too low iron that day anyway.
              Funnily, I only just realized when reading the comments that I was also in the UK in the relevant time period- summer of ‘94, but since it was for only somewhere between 1 and 2 months, I’d not be excluded on that basis.
              Anyway, I don’t see any harm in OP picking whatever reason folks have offered, that seems least noteworthy, hardest to disprove, and easiest to remember and using it, (after double checking that it’s an valid exclusion- it’d suck to pick out a story, have to deploy it, only to have the other person happily declare it invalid and excitedly drag you off to donate).
              It’s important to be able to keep yourself safe.

        2. Red 5*

          Actually there’s way more than you’d think, especially if you add in the medications that prevent you from donating for as long as you’re taking them, which usually is an extended period of time.

          Then you add on the fact that it’s not just whether you qualify under the Red Cross/ whatever org’s rules, but also your own doctors and specialists might prohibit you from donating for any number of reasons.

          People should never pressure someone to donate if they don’t want to anyway, obviously.

        3. BubbleTea*

          I’m not eligible to give blood ever again, as I understand it, because I have had chronic fatigue disorder. I suspect with long Covid they might now have to revisit this limitation some day, but for now I’m permanently excluded because they don’t know what causes CFS/ME and therefore can’t rule out it being blood borne.

          My ex is excluded for life due to having received blood, and also for other medical reasons that aren’t going to change.

          Someone under the weight minimum is likely to be excluded for life unless they gain a significant amount of weight.

          Having been in the UK during the excluded period is a lifetime restriction in countries that apply that (I am in the UK and it isn’t an exclusion here).

          I could keep going but it’s not really necessary.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            “they don’t know what causes CFS/ME and therefore can’t rule out it being blood borne.”

            That’s really interesting! I never considered that diseases like that which are still somewhat mysterious would be disqualifying. Now that you say it it does make sense though.

            1. quill*

              They’ve been more vigilant about unknown, potentially viral or prion diseases, since the 80’s and 90’s. If it’s something they know enough about they can be like “oh, we’ll screen for TB and hepatitis.”

        4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          My meds definitely do. I can’t live without them and they definitely don’t want blood with them.

        5. Bagpuss*

          Maybe the US is different – here in the UK , there are quite a lot of things that disqualify you permanently
          – having had cancer
          – having received blood
          – having or having ever had certain other illness (I think syphilis & HIV are the main ones,)
          – having ever injected drugs

          There are also situation s such as if you fail the iron test on 3 consecutive vists, or if you make a habit of passing out, or if your donation times out too often, where they will ask you not to try again.
          However, LW#1 may well not want a ‘you can never give’excuse if the reality s that he would be happy to fonate if the rules are changed to allow him to do so.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep – my dad is on blood thinners for life, my mum has had cancer, my sister takes some fairly serious immunosuppressant drugs…and I’ve just looked up my current medication and I’m not allowed to give blood while taking that or for at least 24 months after I stop taking it. We’re all outwardly ‘healthy’ people!

        6. Not So NewReader*

          Actually there are a number of things.

          But this is beside the point as it assumes OP will be at this job forever. It’s highly unlikely that OP will stay with this job the rest of their lives and more likely to believe that OP will move on.
          This means that it’s okay for OP to think short term and figure out what will, indeed, protect their privacy at this particular company.

          OP, the thought occurs to me that there maybe enough people who are not able to donate that your company gives up on having blood drives in the future. Any job that I have stayed with for a length of time changed radically over the years. Not much stays the same. It’s okay to just plan out this setting here. I would go with Alison’s idea of a vague medical problem.

        7. Observer*

          There are actually not that many things that rule a person out from EVER donating blood.

          You apparently have not been paying attention. In addition there are tons of reasons why someone can’t give blood that may not be permanent, but of long enough duration that it could easily cover the entire time they are employed at one place. And CERTAINLY of long enough duration that they could know in advance that they can’t donate in this particular case.

      3. Lynn*

        I am a regular platelet donor. But I have difficult veins and they often “miss” my vein during donation.

        I am waiting for the day when they tell me that the potential donation ** is no longer worth the hassle because my veins are so tricky to draw from. Or when they tell me to go back to whole blood as it is easier to find a vein for.

        **I donate the largest possible amount and, if they do get my vein, it is usually on the fastest flow.

        I have seen folks who have been told not to donate again because of their difficult veins, or because they have a bad reaction.

        “They don’t want me to donate-it wastes the setup and my veins just aren’t cooperative” or “They asked me not to donate again after I had a couple of bad reactions” is really something folks can’t fix-so noone can try to talk you around it if that is your reason for not donation. And it is what I would go with if I was looking for a graceful out from donating. Put the blame on “them” asking you not to donate again, without making it something that the nosy Nellies and pushy Parkers of the world can try to argue with you about.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Been there, done that. I’m always a difficult stick, and the last time I donated, they weren’t allowed to get the entire pint (or whatever) within their specified time limit. Which meant they had to throw it all out, and waste their time, my time, and all the supplies used on me. That’s when I stopped donating.

          1. Sara M*

            They asked me not to come back because I was such a tough draw. So that’s definitely a valid excuse. I just say, “Oh, they don’t want my blood, sorry, but good luck finding volunteers!”

        2. JustaTech*

          We don’t do blood drives at my work, but we do occasionally need folks to give a little bit (like, 10 tubes, not a whole pint) for our internal lab work. The last time anyone asked me if I’d give I said “the last time I gave at work I threw up in the biohazard bin”, and then they get a look on their face and I’m on the permanent “don’t ask” list.

          “I’m a poor draw” covers a whole range of things from bad veins (nothing you can do about that) to needle phobia to every single disqualification.
          But also, people need to be way less nosey.

      4. MEH Squared*

        I have terrible veins. When I have to have blood drawn for medical reasons, I recommend they use a butterfly needle in the back of my hand and skip my arm veins completely. Every time I tried to give blood, it was an ordeal. I also had several gaps in my giving for reasons such as getting a tattoo.

        The last time I tried to give (Content Note: needle shenanigans), the woman poking me finally hit my one not-terrible vein so that a thin trickle of blood came out. She checked back on me ten minutes later, wiggled the needle around and accidentally dislodged it. Blood started leaking everywhere and she assured me that they would get someone to clean up the blood. Not what I was thinking about, to be honest!

        Anyway, LW #1, bad veins or donating mishap the last time you donated are both good excuses. I’m sorry that you are dealing with this ridiculous restriction in 2022.

    6. me*

      ha the third and last time i gave blood, the lady making sure i didnt pass out (which i almost did) took the needle out then dropped the bag and spilled my blood all over the floor, also traumatizing 18 year old me. this is a great story (and can be yours to share too!) because it lets me go into great detail for people who are being annoyingly pushy.

      another reason you can not give blood is too low iron. an anemic parent means that when i gave blood, i had to do a second, private, screening to make sure my iron count was high enough to give.

      but really i usually just say “i dont do blood.” and that is enough to shut it down.

      if you want to participate and support the drive in a different way, to be seen as a team player, could you bring in treats to share for people who donate?

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        “I don’t do blood.”

        I love this for OP! Could even expand it to something like “I’m registered as an organ donor, but I don’t do blood.” And then: “I just don’t do blood. Sorry, not up for getting into the details.” Having the organ donation marker on your drivers license doesn’t require the same kind of questionnaire (at least where I am) but could lead people away from suspecting the blood donation avoidance is due to a biological, medical, or social history reason.

      2. Office Lobster DJ*

        I also think a cheerful “Oh no, I don’t do blood” with or without a qualifier like “I’m an organ donor, but” or “but I’m helping hand out the juice and cookies” could be a good strategy. Be breezy and confident, be ready to redirect any follow-up questions, “Yeah, not my thing. Seems like we’ll have a good turnout, though, huh?”

    7. Stitch*

      My cousin can’t give blood because she studied abroad in the UK for a year in the 90s (prion disease concerns).

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m commenting late, but that’s the same reason why I can’t give blood. I was in the UK during that time period with the fear of prion/mad cow/Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

    8. MGW*

      My reason: I always get told my iron is too low, no matter what I eat in the weeks before I want to donate (and now I’m vegetarian so it’s a little harder). Not dangerously low, but to donate they want you on the high end of normal and I’m the low end!

      Then I tried to sell my plasma while I was in vet school for the extra money and both times threw up halfway through and felt cold and faint so I’ve decided my blood wants to stay in my body. I’d love to be a superstar blood donor like some of my friends but it’s just…not possible

      1. Red 5*

        Back when I was allowed to donate I think I got turned away about half the time because my iron was low. One of the techs told me that the level they require for blood donation is significantly higher than what’s required to be declared anemic or even raise an eyebrow at your doctor’s office. I don’t remember the full details, but she said a LOT of people just can’t hit that mark, even though technically they’re fine when it comes to their own health.

        1. EPLawyer*

          I was giving so much I had track marks (really, it was HILARIOUS). Then I started getting dinged for low iron. Which was ridiculous because I always had great iron. I swore their machines were miscalibrated. Then I passed out while driving (didn’t hit anyone, only bruised my sternum while totalling the car) and we found out I was anemic. Kinda wish I had taken those low iron signs as a warning.

          Then I FINALLY get my iron back up to go donate. I walked out the interview and gave the guy checking people in a thumbs up — he was a friend — and my iron amount. It was really really really good. Guy shouts across to my husband “What are you feeding her?” Then the phlembotist despite being warned I have good but SMALL veins blows the vein while the draw is going on. She wiggled the needle to get it to flow better even though I told her doing that was a bad idea. Then blamed me for the vein blowing. I haven’t given since.

          1. Not a mouse*

            This is like the third or fourth comment I have read where the donation staff have blamed the donor for something that’s obviously not their fault. Where are they finding these people? This is terrible behavior from medical personnel.

            1. JustaTech*

              From what I’ve overheard from researchers who did a lot of blood drawing, it’s not hard to get licensed as a phlebotomist without any other clinical training. You’d think the folks who work at the blood bank would have a lot of practice, but maybe the turnover is high?
              Granted, the worst draw I’ve ever had that wasn’t me getting sick/fainting was done by a research MD. I ended up with a bruise from the mid-point of my forearm to the mid-point of my upper arm that lasted a week. (I lightly yelled at the MD in question and he was very embarrassed and very apologetic.)

              1. Red 5*

                It might just be gossip but a phlebotomist at a testing lab site told me once that a lot of the people at the donation centers are new to the work, and the people who staff the mobile blood drive are the lowest in seniority/new hires.

                I have terrible veins and I bruise incredibly easily, last time I did a mobile donation drive I ended up with three inch bruises on both arms. But luckily I’ve only had one person blame me for their issues. Usually they felt bad about it.

                1. Mitzii*

                  This sounds legit. I imagine the powers that be figure “oooh, look at all the practice they’ll get working a day-long blood drive!”

                  My kiddo needed blood drawn at her drs office when she was around 2-ish and it took me and two nurses to hold her still while the young dr (resident, I think?) got the sample. The dr seemed really freaked out by her behavior and I couldn’t help but wonder how he thought a 2 yr old would just sit nicely while he was poking her with a needle. Next time we needed to do it, we went to a regular lab and the ladies there were so practiced at it, even dealing with a kid, that it was night and day difference.

            2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              The mobile blood drives often use volunteers instead of full-time professionals. Even when the volunteers have had the same training, they may not have much recent practice. That can be a problem even when the person doing the blood draw cares about the comfort or well-being of the donors.

    9. drtheliz*

      Or mine: I’m fine normally, but donating blood gives me anemia and my doctor asked me to stop. “Oh but you could…” “My doctor asked me to stop, and I’ll be following that request.”

      1. AnonyNurse*

        Yea, I ended up with donation-induced anemia. Talked my way out of an iron infusion and did supplements for a while. I stopped donating every 8 weeks and did every 16 for a while, which was ok.

        Over the years I’ve been deferred for travel, low Hgb/Hct, low BP, low weight, and bad veins. It became a game for me: drink enough water that my veins plump up and my BP rises but not so much I drop my Hct.

        Now I live in a city where it’s surprisingly challenging to find a spot to donate if you use transit and I don’t wanna walk half a mile post donation to get on a train.

        1. iglwif*

          I stopped donating every 8 weeks and did every 16 for a while, which was ok.

          Good lord!! Here in Canada, they classify you as a “frequent” donor if you donate more than 2x/year. (I was doing 3x/year for a while, but my Hgb got down to 125, which is close to the cutoff, and I was advised to cut back to 2x. I get as much dietary iron as I can, but I’m vegetarian, so there are limits.) The system doesn’t let you schedule a whole blood appointment less than 3 months (12 weeks) after your last one.

        2. drtheliz*

          I probably could, these days, but a. I’m not yet nine months out from giving birth, a process during which I didn’t avoid an iron infusion, and b. I no longer live in my country of birth… the UK, aka BSE central.

          I also learned that I have apparently lived with low-grade anemia for so long that I can’t tell anything is wrong until I nearly faint every time I stand up.

          So, yeah, no recreational bleeding for me.

    10. Sakuko*

      Feel free to steal my husbands reason. He cannot donate blood because he got a few doses of a hormone medication as a small child. There is a specific type of hormone medication given at vaguely the time he got his, that prevents you from donating blood. His mom does not remember the exact product and since the doctor retired, he cannot get the documents of what exactly it was. Therefore he’s banned from giving blood.
      Any lack of details in this story can easily be explained with “I was a toddler, I don’t remember it.”

    11. londonedit*

      I’m also massively needlephobic but I wouldn’t use that as a reason for not giving blood – in my experience it just leads to a load of ‘Oh, come on! It’s fine! It’s so important! Just go and do it! You’ll barely feel it! No one *likes* doing it, but it’s so important! Everyone should donate if they can!!!’ guilt-tripping. People really don’t understand needle phobia and definitely don’t see it as a ‘good enough’ reason for not giving blood.

    12. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Oh, another reason you can borrow is that of a former roommate of mine during a university blood drive: her blood flowed so slow (despite squeezing the little ball they gave her so hard her hand hurt for the rest of the day and drinking quite a bit of fluid) that they juuuuust barely squeezed a full donation out of her in the time you can be attached to one of those machines – so now she goes along with friends as moral support, but doesn’t donate because she takes up the bed too long and may not be able to give a full donation in the allowed time.

      1. AnonyNurse*

        Yea you can time out! And it is sooooo disappointing cause it’s all or nothing for donations. If you don’t get to 450ml, it won’t be used on patients. But will be used for research, quality control, etc.

    13. Well...*

      Ugh I’m not surprised. My sister donated in college in the depth of an eating disorder and had a horrible experience. The nurse accused her of not drinking enough water, complained about her low blood pressure because she couldn’t find a vein, complained about how long it took my sister’s poor body to fill the bag, then ended the whole thing early and told my sister her blood was unusable. Then told her to eat cookies. The disregard for her health and entitlement to her body was really triggering for her.

      There are lots of reasons people don’t give blood that are highly personal, and nosiness around this is so unnecessary.

    14. Aqua409*

      I’m needle-phobic thanks to childhood trauma. Back in 2nd grade, they thought that I had spinal meningitis. Getting 2/3 blood draws in each arm and a spinal tap done all in the same day traumatized me. I need another person to hold my other hand and distract me for normal blood draws. I can’t look and see what’s happening.

      1. kitryan*

        I had kind of the reverse experience. When I was about 14 I had a glucose challenge test where they took blood roughly 6 times over a 4 hr period. I’m normally a fainter and I got lightheaded as usual the first two draws, but I kind of got used to it as it went on, became much more chill, and was able to even see other people have their blood drawn after a while with no issues. However that desensitization only lasted for that test and I was back to my usual queasy fainting self next time I needed blood taken.

    15. cat socks*

      The first and only time I gave blood, I became extremely nauseous and vomited. It took me a few hours before I started to feel normal. I’ve been nervous about trying again.

      My husband had meningitis and was in the hospital as a child, he had so many blood draws that it’s affected him as an adult. It’s an involuntary response, but he starts to get lightheaded and passed out once during a routine blood draw. It’s gotten better over the years, but he still has to lay down and use a cold compression when he gets blood drawn for his yearly physical.

      1. turquoisecow*

        My mom seems to react badly to the scent of alcohol for even routine blood draws. As soon as they start rubbing her arm with it she feels lightheaded, so usually warns whoever is sticking her that she might pass out from the smell. As a kid I needed to get stitches and she had to leave the room for that part because the smell bothers her. I’m sure that lightheadedness plus losing a massive amount of blood wouldn’t be a great combination.

    16. NK*

      Anyone can borrow my reason: the majority of the time, they couldn’t get a full pint out of me. And the times they were able to, it took 45+ minutes. I finally stopped trying.

    17. Forty Years in the Hole*

      Same here – I really only wanted to know my blood type, but it took 45 min to barely half-fill the bag before I got squicked out. Never again.

      Fast forward a few years, to basic military training; they herded us into a gym for a blood drive (because all good soldiers want/have to donate, right?). I said I couldn’t- so I (and others who couldn’t) were assigned the career-adjacent task of picking up cigarette butts around the grounds. I posited this was very unfair to those who couldn’t give blood, &/or didn’t smoke, and amounted to a punishment for something beyond one’s control (plus…blerghh!). They stood down on the task.

    18. FalsePositive*

      My reason is that I cause a false positive on one of the rapid tests they use for testing blood. Regular lab test is fine. I even went back after 10 plus years to see if I was “good” again (I specifically discussed it with the blood bank, didn’t just donate and see what happened). All it got me was a $200 “real test” that I had to pay for to clear myself. Sigh. I wish I could donate again, but it’s not meant to be.

    19. quill*

      I wouldn’t go with this one, LW1, since someone could try to help you “overcome” your fear.

      @Rainy: Jedi hugs?

      1. Rainy*

        Thanks :) I’ve actually never had anyone try to convince me to overcome it, but I’m apparently intimidating.

    20. Carlie*

      When I was donating blood on a regular basis, I completely avoided blood drives. Given the choice of going to a dedicated center with big cushy recliners, full-time staff, my own appointment time, and very few total people vs. a hard folding cot, new people who often don’t know each other and are possibly new and are trying very hard to get you through as quickly as possible, and lying down in front of co-workers and various random people, it’s no contest. “Blood drives are the most uncomfortable way to donate blood” is a completely valid response without stating whether you do it elsewhere or not.

  3. Observer*

    #1 – I can’t believe that that restriction still exists. But since it does and it is supposedly a “medical” restriction, you don’t even need to lie about it. All you need to say is “I’m medically disqualified to donate.” And if anyone pushes “Oh, I’m fine and my doctor isn’t worried, but you know that they are very cautious.”

    The other thing you could do is sign up and then either tell the blood people what the deal is – they are legally required to keep their mouths shut. If you are afraid that someone will blab anyway, you can just mark the form that you have to fill out that the blood should not be used. I’m pretty sure that every organization the does these drives has a check mark that says something like “Please do not use this blood.” Certainly the Red Cross does that.

    1. Liz T*

      Honestly I would worry about saying “disqualified” if being outed is truly a career concern.

      1. John Smith*

        As a gay man who was at the time disqualified from donating blood (that prohibition has been removed now in the UK), the first question I was invariably asked was “why, are you gay?” or “Have you got AIDS or something?”.

        The excuses I’d use would be either I gave blood last week or that I have a make-believe medical condition that doesn’t play up to stereotypes of sexuality. You shouldn’t have to give a reason, but I’ve found the absence of one leads people to jump to conclusions. Just make sure that a reason you do give doesn’t come back to bite you.

        A colleague once excused herself from trying a manager’s (terrible) home baking attempt on the grounds of diabetes and was slightly red-faced when later she was found snorting a bag of Haribos.

        1. tamarak & fireweed*

          Ah, yeah, toxic masculinity can of course complicate matters. (Luckily for the OP, a conservative/Christian social environment probably has fewer men quipping “you gay or what” than UK machos.) It’s probably good to proactively have a good formulation that’s vaguely medical, and then shut down the debate.

        2. quill*

          If you have to pick an excuse, I’d go with iron. There’s no stigma, it could change in future, people know exactly enough about it for it to be boring, there’s nothing anyone can do on the spot to make you “get over it.” People may hassle you to eat some red meat though, but that’s a future problem.

      2. mreasy*

        Yeah I would make up something else specific, like iron count is too low, for that exact reason.

    2. amoeba*

      Ah, yes, true, worst case you could always donate and fill the form that way, I believe that option exists for exactly that reason. Would really only do that as a very last resort as would be super annoying to go to the trouble and then have the blood thrown away.

      I’d probably just go with “ah, no, I’ve tried it twice and fainted both times, was told not to come back”. Hard to argue with that one. But as others have said, there are loads of requirements out there that you could use as an excuse and anyway, no one will wonder because, again, so many. (I was once excluded because I’d had a new sexual partner within the last three months…)

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely I am in favour of giving blood if I can but the last twice I had really difficult veins so they told me not to come back as it was too much trouble. If use either the tendency to faint excuse or the difficult vein excuse as both are fairly hard to argue against and don’t require lengthy medical information.

        1. Felis alwayshungryis*

          The difficult vein excuse is great – make it like you can’t do it because it’s a problem for the blood taker, rather than a problem for you. I’ve seen people pressured by performative do-gooders on the grounds of ‘not good with needles? Don’t you care about the child that needs your blood?’

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. The donation centre was very clear that the reason they didn’t want me back was because it was too difficult and disproportionately time consuming for them to try and eke a unit out of me. So it was their preference that I don’t go back rather than mine. This makes it a lot easier to use it as a reason in my view. It’s also a lot harder to argue with someone about the size of their veins and the ability of said veins to hide.

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            ^^ yup!!

            I have very difficult veins – tiny, roll-y, deep, like to collapse, and possessed by a deep undying need to avoid the needle at all costs. And then even if they *do* manage the stick, I’ve never been able to fill a full bag. No donation center wants me.

        2. I'm On My Way!*

          I’m permanently disqualified because the tests they run your blood through gave a *false* positive to something. There’s no workaround and there’s nothing wrong with me, so that’s “a thing” that keeps me from donating but also isn’t a thing.

          1. Jaxgma*

            That’s me too! I gave blood for many years, but a few years ago they added a test for something called t-Cruzi, which can lead to heart problems. I received a letter that I was positive for t-Cruzi and could no longer donate blood. But here’s the thing – you get t-cruzi from being bitten by a bug that lives in Central America, where I have never been. I went to my doctor, who ran a follow up blood test that came back negative. But apparently once you are on the national “Do Not Donate” list there’s no way to get off. (I really think it may have been a clerical error. I donated with a coworker who had spent a summer in Central America and who also tested positive).

          2. Anon blood*

            Me too! It makes me feel better to hear I’m not the only one. It’s disappointing because they always used to tell me I had good veins.

          3. CDM*

            My blood gives false positives on the rapid test for syphilis antibodies (sometimes, not every time) and tests negative on the lab test for syphilis antibodies. I am now permanently deferred from donating after the second false positive and they didn’t use the donations with the false positives even after the negative lab test.

            Anyone pressured to donate can feel free to borrow my deferral reason. I’d probably start with ‘I’m on my way’s’ vague ‘false positive for something’ but having a specific on hand if someone is rude enough to press the issue gives credibility.

            1. FalsePositive*

              I posted above — this is my false positive too. I even went back after several years, hoping I might be good again (either my antibody mix or test), but still a false positive. So if someone tries to pressure you to just try again, you have the ready excuse of “Nope, likely still bad. I’ll just waste time and money.”

              1. quill*

                I’m almost certain that false positives for TB do something similar. Iirc, there’s some sort of virus that makes you produce antibodies similar enough that it shows up on the test.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      This! Rather than lying about specific other medical conditions, sign up to donate and tell them you’re a gay man and they will refuse you. That is if you trust the people taking your blood not to out you which being medical professionals they should not. There is the option to actually donate and check a box telling them not to use your blood.

      Being vague, though, saying you’re prohibited from donating is an option.

      1. Person of Interest*

        Or at least go through the line for the screening, tell the nurse you aren’t eligible to donate, and then tell your colleagues you got screened out. If you go through the line they might not even notice you didn’t actually donate.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oooh, as someone who has to take annual HIPAA training, I like this idea. The donation center cannot disclose (at least to the best of my knowledge).

    4. Kesnit*

      For some reason (I really don’t know what), my blood is really thick. I can have bloodwork done, but trying to donate takes a really long time because my blood just does not flow out quickly. I used to try to donate apheresis, but they could not adjust the machine draw pressure enough to actually get the blood out. What would normally take 2 hours took 3-4 for me (because of the constant alarms and adjustments) and still didn’t always work.

      So now, while I technically can donate whole blood, I just avoid it because it is a major headache for everyone involved.

    5. thisgirlhere*

      At least at the Red Cross, there have been recent changes to the wording of the screening questions and LW should check to confirm they truly are ineligible. Hopefully this will change soon. People are dying because we’re refusing perfectly safe blood for homophobic reasons.

  4. Marnix*

    Re: 4: Why not use Gmail with a new form of your name? I might raise an eyebrow at the domains you listed.

    1. Observer*

      The OP is doing this for privacy reasons. I’m not sure how adding another google email address improves one’s privacy regarding google.

      I might raise an eyebrow at the domains you listed.


      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Because when you’re hiring you get so many scam and virus emails you raise a lot of eyebrows

        1. kittymommy*

          This was my concern as well. The LW may also want to consider that, fair or not, more unusual domains may get automatically filtered out by some company servers.

          1. OhNo*

            I have also seen some hiring forms that allow the company to limit what is acceptable in certain fields. If it’s a domain that’s not well-known, you may be stopped by the application because HR has it set up to only accept more common domain names.

            A former colleague of mine once got stopped from submitting an application because she still had an aol email address, and it wasn’t recognized by the system. So that’s something to keep in mind as a risk, too!

          2. Observer*

            The domains that the OP is using are so common that if your system is automatically filtering them, you need to fire your IT folks. Seriously. Keep in mind also that most businesses are getting email from all sorts of companies that use their own domain names. Are your filters blocking those, too?

            I’m not talking about the ones that replace the .com but the ones that are not @gmail.com

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Depends. My filters respond to the security specs of the server not the name of the server, typically. But recruitment often uses different software than email, which may have different thresholds for that kind of thing and is usually not controlled by internal IT. YMMV, but I wouldn’t risk it.

          3. Zephy*

            Heck, Gmail sometimes automatically filters some company communiques. I spent all day refreshing my inbox waiting for the HR packet for the job I have now – it came as an attachment to a reply on a chain between me and the hiring manager and Gmail shunted that message straight to trash, nevermind spam.

          4. Kes*

            That and also that hiring managers are more likely to get your email address wrong when emailing you if you use something that’s a less common domain like tutanota that they might misspell or if it isn’t .com and they assume it is

    2. tamarak & fireweed*

      I would say that (for North America) anything inoffensive ending in .com, .org or .net is totally fine. .edu should be too, but for a mid-career professional would come across as a bit odd. ccTLDs .. depends if you have a good reason to use one. If they already know that you are, say, French and maybe even hire you because of your professional experience of the French market, then a .fr address shouldn’t faze them.

      But anything from the new set – your name, .name, .ninja, .career, .whatever, xyz — runs the risk that someone doesn’t recognize that this is a valid email address. You don’t want that! I’d also say that .biz comes across as shady. .xxx is a no, of course.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Not just people, either – I’d be leery of something that ended in .ninja or .career because you don’t know when those companies’ databases were coded and it would be really frustrating to be stuck halfway through an application because the portal didn’t recognize your email as a valid address and won’t let you continue until you put in a different one :-\

        1. tamarak & fireweed*

          O YES. I used to work for a software company that professionally managed email lists (among others). We had do to A LOT OF internal training, and training of customers, of what is a valid email address.

          For professional purposes it is preferable not to explore the more exotic, though theoretically valid, forms. It is a lot like the famous list of “Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names” (link omitted, easy to google).

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I have a hyphenated first name. The hyphen is on my birth certificate, passport etc., so is considered part of my legal name. Many, many times I’ve filled in online forms which instructed me to enter my name as it appears on my passport or whatever … and I can’t, because the system doesn’t support hyphenated names.

            Airlines seem to be particularly bad offenders in this respect. And banks usually seem to assume that what’s before the hyphen is my first name, and what’s after it is a middle name. Around 50% of the new cards that get from my banks end up being shredded because my name is incorrect and I have to call them for a new one. In conclusion, don’t give your kid a hyphenated first name unless you really, really have to.

              1. Dutchie*

                In the Netherlands there are a lot of men who have a hyphenated double first name. It’s a tradition to name them after both of their grandfathers. It also happened with women and their grandmothers, but less. I have always assumed it is to signify that even though one name is in front of the other they are both equally as important.

                Not every parent worldwide will take into account the particularities of US admin systems when naming their children, such not hyphenating their names or only giving them one middle name. Because elder Catholic men here also tend to have way more middle names.

              2. tamarak & fireweed*

                Why would someone have to give a child a first name that starts with M? I mean, they’re traditional in many places. Everyone knows how to pronounce and spell them.

                But even if they weren’t, this isn’t a great argument. Hyphens are completely valid orthographic signs in names in English, as are apostrophes. And these days, at least as long as it’s in Unicode, there’s really no reason at all to expect technical problems.

                1. The OTHER Other.*

                  Comment upthread from someone with a hyphenated first name says it IS a recurring problem, and especially with banks and airlines—two areas you are likely to come into frequent contact with. That there is “really no reason at all to expect technical problems” is contrary to their direct experience. I’ll take someone’s direct experience over someone’s blind faith in the virtues of Unicode.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              And I bet you fall foul of systems that say “name on ticket does not match name on passport – FAIL”.

              There are of course many people who get rejected by the “names do not contain punctuation” logic for apostrophe reasons too (O’Neill, D’Andre, etc) let alone diacritics and letters beyond the 26 A-Z.

              1. The Prettiest Curse*

                That’s never happened to me yet, but I live in dread that someday it will, especially since Homeland Security left the damn hyphen off my green card. Just a fun thing to make flying into the US even more stressful

              2. tamarak & fireweed*

                Fun fact, in Germany, a doctorate (not other academic degrees!) becomes offficially part of your name. A German with a doctorate who decides to have it in their passport… it goes into the “surname” field. When booking airline tickets, there can be DR in front of the last name, or sometimes after the first name, which occasionally leads to boarding passes being flagged as not compliant with ID paperwork…

              3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                A close friend is Akimel O’odham and her name breaks things all the time because it has a : in both the first and last names. Without the colon, the names mean something else so she hates having to drop it

            2. WS*

              Yes, my partner has an apostrophe in her surname and we had to do our home loan documents all over again in the last possible hour because the bank had matched her surname to her bank account and credit card (no apostrophe) not her actual legal name (with apostrophe). It’s crap.

              1. Virginia Plain*

                I have just this minute been sorting out a kerfuffle over someone not accessing a thing within a certain time period…which is true because they had to set up a new thing-account when the system couldn’t cope with his surname/email being (say) O’Flaherty. The new thing works fine but we kept getting scolding messages about the erroneous one!

                1. Bluesboy*

                  A friend of mine has that specific surname, and he tells me it’s a nightmare getting plane tickets to match his passport. Pretty much every time he flies he’s paranoid that they won’t let him on board

            3. AnonForThis*

              That happens more than you’d think for surnames, too. I have at least one credit card where my hyphenated surname is run together into one word (bill shows it formatted as ‘FamilyName’ but it’s all-caps on the card), and another where it has a space instead of a hyphen. And several years ago, a large, international hotel chain asked me, while I was staying there on a business trip, if I wanted to sign up for their rewards program, and the lack of a hyphen option (not to mention a relatively short surname field for any of us hyphenates) stopped me in my tracks.

              1. Anonymous not hyphenated*

                When I got married, I replaced my original middle name with my original last name. It is not a gender appropriate given name, and at one job the IT department hyphenated me. I pushed back, but the best they could do was change my display name. My boss was more upset than I was, because it prefilled someone else when you typed my last name. It only pre-filled me if you used my middle name. It amused us when we got bought out that my first reaction was “cool, I get to fix my email!”

                1. Pool Lounger*

                  What the, that’s not even an uncommon thing! I did that, my mom did that… never had an issue!

                2. Tinkerbell*

                  I got a different variation of that – when I got married, I INTENDED to keep my middle name. It’s unusual and I like it. I went to go get my name changed from First Middle Maidenname to First Middle NewLastname… but the great state of Alabama, or one of its workers, decided OBVIOUSLY I was wrong and put me down as First Maidenname NewLastname instead. Except not everywhere, just some places. I use the version I want (First Middle NewLastname) most of the time, but for legal things I might be First Middle Maidenname NewLastname, First Middle NewLastname, First Maidenname NewLastname, or some other variation. It’s aggravating.

            4. Smithy*

              I’m also in this bucket, and as a result – half of my identification has the hyphenated surname name and half does not.

              In terms of “if your name does not match, you cannot” – for better or worse, I have tested this repeatedly and while it’s not hiccup free, it’s never been a serious issue. I’m used to having to call Delta customer service as opposed to changing flights online or similar. But I think between those of us with hyphens and apostrophes and the number of systems not designed to include them….I’ve never been denied entry/passage as a result.

              My hardest times have actually been with pharmacies and where you have a bit more of a mix of the human/computer working together. Getting flagged as trying to steal other’s prescriptions is always a fun one….

            5. iglwif*

              Airlines are TERRIBLE with this kind of thing. My theory is that their database code was written in the 1980s and now nobody understands how it works ;)

              I have the opposite problem with the IRS: my legal surname is my surname plus my spouse’s surname, no hyphen, but the IRS *insists* that my surname be either 1 word or 2 words joined with a hyphen, so in the IRS database and *literally nowhere else*, I am Firstname Middlename MyName-HisName. (For regular life purposes I am Firstname HisName, but although I did change my name when we got married, I wasn’t prepared to totally yeet my original surname.)

              1. L.H. Puttgrass*

                “Airlines are TERRIBLE with this kind of thing. My theory is that their database code was written in the 1980s and now nobody understands how it works”

                Try the 1960s! That’s when the SAABRE reservations system was first implemented. “Modern” booking systems are still based on it. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if airline reservation name validation still depends in some way on programming decisions made in the ’60s.

                1. RosyGlasses*

                  Man, now I have the Sabre (sah-brey) song from The Office in my head after reading your comment about SAABRE. Might need to watch that episode again!

                2. iglwif*

                  That would not surprise me even a tiny little bit. (I work for a software company, although one that was founded in the 1990s, so I am somewhat confident we have no 1960s code still kicking around in our product.)

                  This reminds me that despite what my passport says, my boarding passes always say HISNAME [space] FIRSTNAMEMIDDLENAMEMYNAME.

                3. Eff Walsingham*

                  In spite of having neither hyphen nor apostrophe anywhere, my boarding passes always come out a bit wrong. Like Ms. MostofFirst TwoMiddlesSquashedTogether Last. My national carrier recently informed me in so many words that I will not be denied boarding for this as long as I’m just flying domestically. So they can call me Late For Dinner (Ms.) as long as I stay out of American airspace!

              2. Two Dog Night*

                You’re exactly right about the airlines! My former boss wrote a bunch of that code, intending it to be a quick, temporary thing, and some of it is still in use. :-)

              3. Esmae*

                The IRS and the Dewey Decimal System! You should have seen the librarian freakout (at least at my old library) when Alexander McCall Smith said in an interview that his last name was in fact “McCall Smith” and not “Smith.” It took MONTHS to get it sorted out.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  My Kindle can’t keep either Diana Wynn Jones or Lois McMaster Bujold all the same place. Both of them are split across J and W and B and M respectively.

                2. iglwif*

                  Hmmmm I wonder if that’s why, when a UK publisher bought the non-North-American rights to my books, one of their conditions was that they be allowed to publish them as Firstname Husbandsname instead of Firstname Myname Husbandsname (as in North America)?

                  It came back to bite them, though, because it then took them MONTHS to get Amazon to acknowledge that those were both the same person.

            6. quill*

              One of my childhood classmates had a last (and first!) name that was too long for standardized testing, then later too long for early school computer databases. You would think that the people creating these databases would have had enough complaints by now that they’d allow a wider field… heck, they could run a list of famous artists and musicians through and if it flagged any of them they’d know what to fix. Da Vinci (space), Dostoyevsky (you’d be surprised how many systems think names aren’t more than ten letters long, etc.

            7. Buffy will save us*

              I have the opposite problem. My mom purposefully made my two first names name into one with a small letter for the second name (thinking Maryann) b/c she had sisters with hyphens & without and she wanted me to be called the whole first name, not just half like her sisters. Except, the more common spelling is two words so that’s everyone’s default. and they’ll often just call me half of it.
              And sometimes I get things that have the “ann” as my last name. Its so bizarre.

            8. Wot, no sugar?*

              I have the same issue with my hyphenated surname. It’s not even a product of my being married, it’s my real last name (I’m British). Airlines never recognize my hyphen (they run the 2 names together), and banks just act like it doesn’t exist and list them separately (can never get checks or a bank card with my real legal name). You’d think by now hyphenated surnames would be enough of a thing that they are properly accounted for. It’s loony!

        2. Three Goblins in a Trench Coat*

          My sister has a hyphenated first name and we all have hyphenated last names (my mum’s last name and my dad’s). I almost wish I had taken my husband’s last name when we got married but I already had publications under my, very unique, name so I wasn’t going to muddy the waters. It’s caused so many issues over the years with computer systems. I still can’t file my taxes electronically without jamming the first and last names together with no space.

          To add insult to injury, I have an acute accent in my first name that just gets omitted on the regular because of system restrictions.

          1. Three Goblins in a Trench Coat*

            I should clarify on the IRS filing thing: my last name is Name-Othername but I have to file as NameOthername to get it to go through electronically. It makes verifying income or doing background checks complicated since the IRS database is often scanned. Thank goodness I don’t have to do that kind of thing often.

        3. starfox*

          Maybe it’s my own ignorance but I would never open something that said .ninja… I would assume it’s a scam.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        Frankly, I’m a little concerned about .org or .net too, as most people default to .com for everything and vaguely remember that .edu is somewhat common. You might get HR/managers/etc trying to email you and defaulting to .com.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          There is a huge Canadian ISP / telco which gives their customers email addresses ending in .net, and has for 20+ years. Their employees’ email addresses are .com, I think.

          1. Hazel*

            That actually does make sense. The .net email addresses for the customers (because they are an ISP and therefore will be giving out tons of email addresses) and something different (in this case .com) for employees.

      3. Koalafied*

        This is immediately where my mind went. Careless developers apply overly rigid field validation rules all the time that exclude uncommon possibilities. (Heck, more than once I’ve encountered a “State” drop-down for US addresses that didn’t include DC, and that’s not even that uncommon for a US address.)

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Special mention for tourist venues that require a billing zip to use a credit card, and only accept five digit numbers. Don’t they want foreigners to spend money?

          1. Bluesboy*

            Ooh, I’ve had that with US websites before when buying downloadable material like books and videos.

            I’m willing to bet that 90% of foreigners buying from the US on that type of platform insert ‘90210’ when we have to insert that style postcode, just because it’s the only one we’ve ever heard of. Google, Facebook etc probably think that the good people of Beverley Hills are buying at least 10 times as much stuff online as they really are…

          2. quill*

            Shout out specifically to Fedex international for having such a limited field that when I used to have to ship to a specific building in Taiwan that didn’t have a street name, they got it wrong half the time because I had to write “suite [numbers], XXX YYY ZZZ building, district” and abbreviate something to make it fit…

      4. never mind who I am*

        Or if you’re comfortable with setting up your own domain, try something like [name].us.

      5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Anything inoffensive ending in .com, .org, or .net should be fine, but isn’t always. My main email is through a small ISP, which I have been using since the last century. That’s a .com. I also have a small/vanity domain that forwards my email to that .com account. Both entirely inoffensive, and I’ve had websites refuse to let me sign up with either. I have a gmail account mostly to deal with sites that do that — it’s initial.lastname@gmail.com, and _nobody_ can spell my last name–people frequently get it wrong even when they’re looking at it on a printed page.

        As far as I can tell, there are programmers who think that everyone has, or should have, either a gmail address, or a work/school address at a large and/or prestigious institution. So, MIT.edu is more likely to get through than hampshire.edu or hunter.cuny.edu.

    3. T2*

      I wouldn’t bat an eye at most things. But to be honest I reflexively bin anyone using an aol.com address.

      I am in tech, and I figure that anyone should have moved on to something else. If they can’t figure out how, then I can’t use them.

      1. Antilles*

        I mean, it could just be that they’ve kept the same aol email address even though they no longer connect to the Internet with AOL. My email is 18 years old, which is an eternity in technological advancement and should be firmly into “wait, why haven’t you moved on to anything else” territory.

        Except that it’s a gmail so it still seems perfectly up to date when anybody sees it. The only hint of the fact that the email is so old is that it’s my first and last name with nothing else – i.e., that I signed up so long ago that “John Doe” was still available.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Same. My sister worked at Google when they launched Gmail so my whole family was in the first round of invites (aka beta testing). I never thought about it, but yeah, that would totally show how old my e-mail is

        2. Eff Walsingham*

          I was an early adopter of both Hotmail and Gmail. When I tell people my address(es), they almost always say “Cool!” Because they are Words! Also – easier to remember and get right.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Tech types are more capable than average of setting up alias addresses to point to favourite email inboxes.

          Heck, *I* do this and I can barely operate my TV.

        2. Observer*

          If you’re in tech and you are still using an aol address as your primary address for anything serious, then you need to retire.

          There are some actual real problems with aol (and a few other providers), so that’s a really bad signal for me. And, as others have pointed out, it’s not that hard to keep your old address if you REALLY need to, while setting up something a bit more solid for things like job hunting.

          1. quill*

            One of the problems being that elder domains could just suddenly no longer be supported and disappear one day… RIP my Roadrunner email account, the old spam pit.

          2. Zephy*

            My MIL runs a private medical practice and the practice’s public email address is still practicename@phonecompany dot net. They have a website, it’s even a .com, they just never bothered to set up, like, info@practicename dot com or anything like that.

            1. Observer*

              A public email address that’s almost certainly not HIPAA compliant? Not cool. I hope they tell people to not email anything that is medical or in any was sensitive.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Here’s our daily reminder that mail domain elitism is real.

        Look, I’ve been guilty of unkind thoughts when I’ve seen an AOL or Hotmail address. But you know what? The Eternal September was almost 30 years ago. Worse things have happened to the internet since then than a bunch of AOL users getting access to it. And if someone’s first e-mail address was on AOL—well, who the heck am I to tell them they should go through the hassle of changing e-mails?

        Now, I can’t imagine the amount of spam someone with a 20 year-old address must get, but that’s their problem, not mine.

        (Personally, I’m a bit bemused that gmail is considered the good part of town these days, but fine.)

      3. Ridiculous*

        There are many valid reasons why someone would be hanging on to an older email address. I don’t even have an AOL account and never have, and I can think of a few reasons without trying. Especially these days, where almost everything tries to get you to connect through a mobile phone number and limits you to the number of accounts you can have. It’s more difficult than ever to set up new free accounts, and ones that don’t bind you to a phone number are often not accepted by sites because scammers frequently use those domains (I’ve hit this issue with my ProtonMail backup account, for example). I don’t even work in tech, and I know all this. By ditching anyone using a legacy email account that they may have good reason to utilize, you’re only screwing yourself out of potential candidates who probably have a long enough history of experience in tech that they got those AOL emails when the service was widely popular.

        BTW, my primary Gmail account was set up in 2004 when the service first launched, and literally no one has ever asked me about its age or modern-ness.

    4. DataGirl*

      LW 4: Also think about spam filters. My husband has a non-traditional ending for his consulting business (@businessname.consultant) and it gets caught in spam filters quite a bit. He can’t communicate with our accountant at all- everything has to go through me because they can’t get their system to accept his email address. I can’t imagine how many job related communications he’s missed out on because they don’t receive his emails.

    5. NothingIsLittle*

      My email is FirstName@LastName.com and a lot of people have been very impressed (or at least pleasantly amused) by that.

      If the custom domain is LastName.com, that’s clearly meant to be an email, but any other top level domain (except maybe .org, .gov, and .edu) is uncommon enough that I’d think twice about trusting it as a hiring manager.

  5. ENFP in Texas*

    “you passed out in the past and were told not to donate again” is probably the best one, if nosy people push the issue.

    1. tamarak & fireweed*

      Good one. Or even vaguer: “I had an episode / Something happened / I had a medical situation and I was told not to donate again.”

      1. tamarak & fireweed*

        One more thing: For the white lies, or lies by omission that we tell to avoid an invasion of our privacy, the trick is to be really really nonchalant about them. I do it by imagining this was really true. So in my mind I *do* have a phobia of needles, or a history of fainting (I actually do… though no one has connected it with blood donations), or a family history of a genetic disorder. Better stick with something that’s not checkable (“I traveled to an malaria area” isn’t a good one – this can be checked, or may invite too many immediate questions that don’t feel too intrusive to the curious, like “was it Africa? where? on holiday?”). And then hold in your mind the situation that’s your excuse, and say with a beatific smile (that telegraphs “you don’t want to know any details”) “oh, I have a medical exclusion. I’d love to be able to donate [TRUE!], but I’ve been told I can’t any longer”.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Yep. And deliver it in a tone that combines exasperation with a does of “wadda ya gonna do?”

    2. redflagday701*

      Yep, as a queer man, this is the one I’d use. It’s a little embarrassing, but in the work environment described, I’d be concerned that if I said “medical restrictions” or something similarly vague, some busybody would put two and two together and start whispering that “LW1 didn’t donate blood because he’s…GAY.”

      1. Liz T*

        100%. I think people recommending “medical restrictions” are missing a) how nosy people can be about medical conditions anyway and b) how horribly thorny and painful this issue is. There are actually VERY few things that disqualify people indefinitely from donating blood–that’s what really compounds the injustice of the whole situation–so unless OP wants to commit to a detailed lie about having received an organ transplant, this is not the way to go.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Yup. Very few – fewer than most people assume. It’s either extended travel to the UK during a certain time period, taking relatively uncommon medications for Very Bad Health Problems, or certain behaviors seen as HIV-risky – sex with prostitutes/for money, be a sexually active gay/bi man or have had sex with one in the not-too-distant past, use IV drugs recreationally (3 month wait for most/all of the latter group per the American Red Cross, last I checked).

          And any busybody worth their salt who wants to get 100% participation in this blood drive will definitely have looked up the deferral reasons and be ready with comebacks for why something else is not worthy of a pass.

          I’m afraid that going with something more bland like anemia, passing out afterwards, etc. will be needed.

          In a larger community I might suggest going and then telling the intake person who handles questions / HCT/Hgb screening of your situation so they can defer you and you can put a bandaid on your finger and shrug about your crappy low iron, but even though you’re protected by medical privacy here, we know that humans can suck sometimes and maybe someone might leak the info.

          1. DataGirl*

            Also high blood pressure, low blood pressure, having had cancer in the past, having received a donated organ in the past- there are several that are fairly innocuous. But any lie is something that then has to be maintained so something simple is best.

            1. londonedit*

              Yep – I don’t give blood anyway because of needlephobia but out of curiosity I looked up my current medication (which I take for a relatively common and not particularly serious autoimmune condition) and I’m not allowed to donate blood while on the medication or for 24 months after I eventually stop taking it. Plenty of my friends have attempted to give blood and been turned away because their iron level wasn’t high enough, and then I think they make you wait a certain amount of time after that. There are loads of very innocuous reasons why someone might not be able to – I think a simple ‘I’m not able to donate for medical reasons’ is the way to go.

          2. metadata minion*

            I have congenital heart defects that my cardiologist insists should not pose any problems for donating blood, but the Red Cross gets nervous and turns me away at least half the time. And while high or low blood pressure or being under or over the weight limit technically isn’t a lifetime ban, it’s a ban for as long as you have that condition, which is often a pretty long-term sort of situation.

          3. SpoonieAnon*

            Technically my medication doesn’t permanently exclude me from donating – but I can’t donate while I’m taking it and short of some new wonder treatment I’m going to need to be on it for the rest of my life.

        2. Crop Tiger*

          There’s plenty of ways to be permanently disqualified, and saying there aren’t and so people will think you’re gay enables people to automatically assume “not donating blood? Must be gay”. I’m ineligible three different ways. It’s not that hard.

          1. redflagday701*

            I’m not aware of “plenty” of ways to be permanently disqualified, only travel history and a few medical conditions — both of which invite further nosy questions and requiring more lying. And in an office and community where people are conservative enough that a gay man isn’t comfortable coming out in 2022, I think it’s fair (and safest) to assume that “You must be gay” will immediately spring to somebody’s mind, because it’s by far the best known of the restrictions, and honestly, bigots zero in on that stuff. “I fainted and they told me not to do it again” is simple, doesn’t require any further detail, and can’t be disproven.

            1. Crop Tiger*

              Since I’m ineligible three ways, and have family members ineligible at least another ten ways, I’m sure there’s plenty of ways people can’t donate blood, as lots of people are pointing out upthread. Just lie and give one of the “safe” reasons, but I’m disturbed about the number of people who automatically think someone’s gay because they can’t give blood.

            2. fhqwhgads*

              Based on the last form I filled out, there are 40+ ways to be disqualified. Not all of them permanent, but plenty of them easily applicable for this work drive and plenty of recurrences.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Personally I’d go with anemia, although be prepared for all the less than helpful advice on how to improve it. I am just below the level of iron they need for donation so often the blood center asked me to stop booking because 7 of 10 times I take up an appointment and can’t donate. Take my experience and run with it LW. At work the only response to my not signing up for donation has been getting too many spinach and red meat recipes if I happen to mention anemia. Annoying, but often tasty

        1. kiki*

          Yeah, I think the unfortunate part of going with a white lie like anemia, high or low blood pressure, or any of the smaller medical issues that are barriers to donation is that people will offer you advice on how to “cure” those issues. Luckily, most people just give an example in passing, “I used to have anemia and then started eating steak 6 times a week– maybe try that!” and then dropping it. But unfortunately I have encountered a couple people who follow up and continuously check-in on my anemia. A lot of times they genuinely are trying to be helpful, it is just unnecessary or comically incorrect information. But once I was gifted broccoli from someone’s garden, so that was lovely.

  6. nnn*

    Another benign reason a person might not be able to donate blood on a particular day is because it’s too close to when they last donated – you have to wait a certain number of weeks between donating.

    It probably wouldn’t be strategic to outright say that you gave blood recently, but maybe something like “May 17? No, I can’t give blood then.” without saying whether it’s because of a recent blood donation or a recent tattoo or because they haven’t yet updated the blood donation guidelines for the 21st century.

    1. anonymous73*

      He stated he doesn’t want to use that reason because it’s a small town with not many drives and he would fear follow up questions.

  7. Ashkela*

    LW#1, I worked in blood banking for 5 years and we all hated that aspect. And back when I worked there, it was MSM ever, even once since 1976. The change to the limited number of years was progress but still it’s a terrible, terrible thing. And I lived and worked in San Francisco at the time, so it was definitely a noticeable problem.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      Acronyms are tricky. I found myself wondering why Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) would preclude blood donation. Consider this my occasional public service announcement (PSA) for us all to spell out industry-specific acronyms.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Various conspiracy-minded folks tend to use the abbreviation to sneer at MainStream Media, so having worked in AIDS research for a while, I always double-take because my brain also defaults to men-seeking-men.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          BLM still messes because my brain defaults to Bureau of Land Management thanks to a bunch of my volunteer work. Now I have to stop and think about context but it gets tricky when it comes environmental justice.

          1. quill*

            Same. Except that during the beginning of 2020 it flipped for a while and confused me mightily that my parents were taking a birding hike on “BLM land.”

    2. Queersexual lady*

      It caught a lot of women, too, and I was one. And it always p*ssed me the h*ll off. Especially since I wanted to emulate my beloved grandfather, who had picked up a donate-regularly habit when he was in the Navy. (And non-queer people would helpfully suggest that I could still support the blood drive by working it, but SOMEHOW it was never appealing.)

  8. tamarak & fireweed*

    #2 it might help to understand that if you *had* a commission structure and were adequately paid it would make it *more* likely that you wouldn’t have been treated so extremely dismissively about the travel arrangements. People who treat employees shabbily don’t as a rule make up for it when they have a chance not to treat them shabbily. BTW, for what you describe your level to be I would not expect a great differential in travel class, probably (“several states away”) business class for everyone, and I also wouldn’t expect you to make all the travel arrangements! When C-level executives want to travel away from their (seasoned professional) underlings at least they have their own travel arranged by their PA or whatever.

    This whole situation looks like a job you should be extricating yourself from TBH.

    1. Heidi*

      I’m also wondering why the OP isn’t job-hunting. What stikes me about the letter is that the OP seems much more outraged by the flight thing than about issues I would consider to be far more problematic, like the really low pay and doing jobs that are not their jobs and trying to expand the sales territory without salespeople. I’m wondering if the flight status is the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back or if it’s become a rallying point for pushing back against all the other dysfunction, like how the general died in Les Miserables and triggered the rebellion.

      1. tamarak & fireweed*

        You know… I’ve kinda been there. For the big things, the employer usually provides excuses. Or we may ourselves. “We’ve all been so busy” (the LW) or “we’ve lost so many techies in the acquisition” (me in a previous job) or “funding of academia is a mess in general” (me right now :-) ) . And little by little we accept work situations that we really shouldn’t. And we don’t think of it as an indignity. Then a clear, gratuitous indignity comes along (pettiness in expenses, pettiness in travel, or maybe a dismissive speech…) and it’s THIS that kicks off the revolt.

        For those of us in strongly mission centric jobs (non-profits, political engagements, public education, medicine, scientific research…) it’s a reality check that still often comes out as “ok, this isn’t ideal, but if that’s what it takes to be able to do X then I’ll have to put up”. But for private employers where the ultimate outcome is to make money for someone else – the shareholders/owners on the one hand, and the customers on the other (by the service you provide) – there is really no higher purpose that should be relevant. We need to demand proper conditions wherever we can.

        1. Batgirl*

          I think when this happens, we tell ourselves that our employer is so grateful for our help in overcoming all the “can’t be helped” barriers. Then they do something dismissive, which absolutely could have been avoided.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            These comments are both really insightful about the dynamic of waving off the big things and getting really worked up about the smaller ones.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Bingo. It’s the classic straw that broke the camel’s back scenario. The kettle was brewing on the stove and all of the sudden the kettle just boiled over.

              OP, your story is a long story of many displays of disrespect toward your work. This is just one in the line of many.

          2. Shiba Dad*

            Right. You rationalize things that bother you about your job. Then the powers that be do something to show you that they actually don’t appreciate you. That thing, however minor in the grand scheme of things, wreck the rationalizations you’ve created. That thing is the focus of all the bs you’ve put up with. OP hasn’t quite figured out yet that the flight arrangements are an avatar for all the other problems.

          3. Snow Globe*

            For a private employer in growth mode, there is also a lot of thinking that you’ll get compensated down the road when the company becomes more successful. (My husband has worked for several start-ups and always seems to fall for this thinking.)

        2. Jora Malli*

          I’ve been there too, and it was kind of a case of Frog In Hot Water. My responsibilities and the ways people relied on me had changed so gradually that no single step along the way felt like too much, but it took one moment of careless obliviousness on my CEO’s part to make me realize how far things had gone.

          OP, I think you should be job searching. Your employers don’t see to value all the extra work you’ve done to grow their company, but now you have all these kickass resume blurbs that you can leverage into a job with better pay that respects your contributions.

        3. kiki*

          Yeah, I think with actual big-picture work things, leadership has some sort of reason why they can’t give you what you need right now or a promise of getting whatever it is to you eventually, after you meet some goal or the business crosses a milestone. But there is no justification for leadership messing up the little things. LW knows the business could spare a few hundred dollars to make them more comfortable, especially if their boss’s husband (who I am assuming doesn’t work there) is being put in first class. Sometimes it’s the little things that make you widen your eyes and say, “Oh, things will always be like this. There is no intention to change.”

          I’ve had similar experiences with dating where I’ve slowly become the only one doing any work in the relationship. Many big things should have spurred me to leave, but what actually made me decide to end it was when I asked him to meet me at the door to help carry some heavy things in and he didn’t because he got too absorbed in a video game.

      2. MK*

        It’s something of a pattern in AAM letters: a person writes about a minor work issue, sometimes valid, sometimes not, and it turns out, either in the letter or the comments, that there are much more important problems.

        OP, that your company changed business models and is growing isn’t a good reason to underpay you by so much, especially when you are the one making the growth happen. And the owner’s gauche behaviour in this instance should tell you that you aren’t going to be recognized for your contributions. You might have valid reasons to stay in this job, but I hope you are not depending on them rewarding you once the company becomes more stable.

        1. Mockingjay*

          OP2, I’d take these valuable skills and experience you’ve gained by stepping up (spectacularly, I add!) and parlay them into a New Job that respects your expertise and pays you commensurately.

          I offer this advice to get out instead of negotiating for more money/title/better work conditions because reading between the lines, New Business Model doesn’t seem to be particularly stable. You are wearing 4 HATS: “high level business manager, legal liaison, and development manager for our new business venture” plus SALES, yet Boss is happy to fly first class and hasn’t bothered to hire any sales staff…

          This is not a viable situation.

      3. MEH Squared*

        I think because all of the other stuff was ramped up gradually over time. It probably started with a few sales calls. Then, it was expanding into other territory. “Why don’t you plan it out, OP?” This in addition to her actual job (and other roles she seems to be doing), plus the fact that the OP is probably the conscientious type who feels beholden to do the best job possible–even if it’s not their job to do so. Plus the lack of money being made by anyone, really. The coach/first class situation was probably the last straw for the OP and struck a particularly sensitive nerve.

        This is the focal point for everything that’s wrong with this job.

        1. MK*

          I think it’s not so much that it’s a last straw as it is a sign of being undervalued. A growing company may legitimately not be in a position to double an employee’s salary, but they surely can spring for a one-time first class ticket. And if they can’t, the owner shouldn’t be flying first class either.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Last straw for OP (we hope); sign of being undervalued for AAM commenters.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        OP seems much more outraged by the flight thing than about issues I would consider to be far more problematic.
        That struck me too–molehill on a mountain.

        OP, I will offer that the flight is a symbol: If they “truly valued” you, and were planning to reward all your hard work “in the growth phase” by paying you market rate, promoting you, giving you a big raise on top of that… then they would surely have put you in first class. You’re the rainmaker on this account! Surely they plan to acknowledge that soon…

        They don’t seem to be planning it on their own. Possibly you should bring it up and they would say “Oh jeez, Opie, we dropped the ball there–offer all the money!” But if you want to be paid what your worth, you’re getting a lot of signals that that won’t happen here.

      5. PhD survivor*

        Yes, OP, please look for a better job where all your hard work will be valued! Wishing you all the best.

    2. staceyizme*

      You nailed it, Tamarak & Fireweed! This is less of a “which seat can I fly in?” question and more of a “why am I so underpaid, overlooked and overworked?”. Polish up that resume.

      1. EPLawyer*

        AGREED. OP, you are the sole source of revenue for the company now and THIS is how they treat you? Nobody was following up on leads before you did it? Like the freaking execs?

        You can’t care more about the success of the company than the people whose job it is actually is to make the company succeed.

        You need to 1) step back and do your job and only your job. If they ask why you aren’t doing everyone else’s job just say well I am just so busy doing mine own. And 2) GET OUT. They aren’t suddenly going to reward you. They will take your hard work, and move on, leaving you still underepaid, overlooked, and overworked.

      2. Abogado Avocado*

        Yes, this!

        LW#2, your employer seems not to appreciate that you’re underpaid, overworked and that your extra effort at sales — which you’re not even responsible for — is pretty darn amazing. If you can’t see your way clear to convincing your employer of your greater value (and that may be for loads of reasons beyond your control), then it’s time to find an employer who will appreciate you, compensate you accordingly, and provide benefits commensurate with your status.

    3. Get out LW 2*

      Yes! LW #2, I work for a small business with someone like you who was entirely responsible for generating a significant new source of income and that person would NEVER be expected to fly coach. Plus, with salary and commission, that person is now earning almost $1 million per year. Leave that awful company. There are other entrepreneurial businesses that will reward you for being the rainmaker.

    4. London Lass*

      I agree 100%. The travel arrangements just seem to be a minor symptom of a much wider issue here.

      I’m also wondering about this sentence: “I actually booked my own ticket outside of the company because I do not enjoy flying, especially in coach, and I also don’t enjoy being made to feel less-than.” Does this mean that, despite being terribly underpaid, you are now also paying for your own tickets? I do hope that you are claiming the value of the economy-class ticket from the company rather than paying out of your own pocket in order to fly business class.

      Please have a re-think of this whole situation and consider whether this is actually the best place for you to be overall. Because your letter doesn’t make it sound that way.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes–if you were so annoyed that you paid for your own travel out of pocket… then I don’t think the company is learning any lessons here.

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Yeah. OP2, I don’t know why you’re putting up with this…But the plane tickets really aren’t the problem here. They’re a symptom.

      Now, maybe you will be rewarded for doing all this hard work but honestly ask yourself if you’re willing to take the chance. Maybe your boss is decent and will actually reward you, or maybe they’re a jerk who will thank you for services provided and kick you out when they no longer need you and take all the credit for your work. Obviously you know your boss and I don’t, but this whole situation feels so off I’m inclined to think the latter rather than the former.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Yes! It feels like LW#2 is having “straw that broke the camels back” moment. They outline all the ways they are underpaid, undervalued, and “made to feel less than” and then say that they were put in coach. That’s not the problem. That’s not ridiculious. A lot of businesses or organizations have their people fly coach even if the owners do not. I wouldn’t do anything about the flight. I’d do something about everything else. Something = start job hunting for a job that will pay you your worth and value your contribution.

      LW#2 says they are going well above and beyond their initial job duties and what they are paid for, but getting no acknowledgement. Time to move on to somewhere where you’re hard work will be valued.

    7. Lady Blerd*

      I agree with this. I’m not as bothered by the owner getting a better seat then the employees as others are in this thread because it’s pretty common as a perk to people higher up in the food chain. To me it’s more of a last straw situation. OP, if you can, it’s time to move on because they are clearly dumping all that work on you because you have risen to the challenge.

  9. Observer*

    #4 – Using your surname as the domain name for your email address is fine. In most positions, I don’t it’s going to do you any good, but it also won’t do you any harm. Same for using one of the lesser known email providers, as long as you’re not using one that would legitimately raise eyebrows.

    Alison is right about the .com part of it, though. Stick to .com Doing .biz might make people wonder if you are gong to try to run your own business on the side. As for one of the non- standard ones? That could bight you as a lot of people will automatically screen out such addresses, assuming it’s spam. And even once they realize that it’s actually you’re address it’s likely to come off as being a bit too precious.

    1. Kate*

      I use an encrypted email service (the one ending in @pm.me) and it’s been totally fine. It might even be a boon if you’re applying for jobs in tech spaces where people are more familiar with data privacy issues. That said, I agree with Observer: avoid anything too tacky. And maybe pick something that isn’t too difficult to explain over the phone — you never know when you’ll have to spell it out to someone.

    2. AzaleaBertrand*

      I have a custom domain ending in dot lt (Lima Tango) and I can’t tell you how many problems it causes. Everyone thinks I’ve made a mistake and it should be dot it because… Information Technology I guess?

      Recently set up a custom domain with my daughter’s hyphenated surname dot com and I’ve been using that WAY more effectively even though it’s longer and not my actual surname.

      1. BethDH*

        I’d guess they think it’s for “Italy” since a lot of people are most familiar with endings for countries. Or possibly just a typographic thing since lowercase “l” looks a lot like uppercase “I” especially in sans-serif fonts.

          1. AzaleaBertrand*

            +1, yay for serifs!

            While it makes total sense to me I don’t think too many people jump to Italy – we’re on the other side of the world and European country endings aren’t very common. I think lt might even be Lithuania?? The people that make the mistake are generally not very tech literate.

            I nearly bought my surname dot one but then realised I’d likely have the same issues with 1 vs one. So how it’s said out loud and how it looks when written should definitely be a consideration for LW.

    3. marvin the paranoid android*

      One consideration that I would keep in mind is that gmail is the least likely domain to get flagged by overly intense spam filters. I mention this because I used to work for a small company whose emails were always getting lost or diverted to spam without any indication that anything had gone wrong. They would just disappear. That would be a pretty big liability in a job search. (This annoys me, though, as someone who would prefer not to have mega corporations reading through my email.)

  10. EnidWhatever*

    #2: If the idea is that you’re working yourself to death now, for little compensation, because your employer is totally going to reward your efforts in the future, your letter doesn’t fill me with confidence that the company’s going to be following through with that.

    1. Casper Lives*

      Yes, unless LW has an ownership stake or stock in the company, there’s no reason to think LW will be rewarded. The business isn’t noting LW’s contributions now. The owners will pat themselves on the back for a job well done if the company grows. LW will be justifiably upset, but with nothing to show for hard work.

      1. Artemesia*

        I know two people who, one of whom built the entire on line presence for an on line business, who were to be compensated for minimum wage by company stock. Both were fired before it vested — the one who built the on-line presence was fired the day before he would have been compensated. They just said ‘oh we can hire someone to maintain the web presence now that it is built’. Companies that undervalue you don’t turn around and actually reward you later.

        Reminds me of all those people who work for peanuts in a family business because ‘someday this will be yours’ and then Mom and Dad sell it to fund their requirement. Rarely is ‘someday you will be rewarded’ anything but a way to continue to abuse an employee. The coach seat when you are the rainmaker and doing the heavy lifting on this trip is a giant message about your future in this company. Start looking for a better situation; you don’t need to jump before it looks really good — but start looking.

      2. pancakes*

        Yes. Do not assume that the owners will be animated by different, better, more generous values in distributing profits than they presently are in the day-to-day running of the company.

      3. Flightless Bird*

        Thanks for this! I do have a vested stock option in the new company that we are building, but it’s not giant. Roughly 75k out of 3m shares.

        The team we are growing with has been ultra successful in the past, but the entire database of knowledge for our new program comes from my mind. I’m starting to think twice about whether “waiting it out” was ever the right move.

        Full disclosure- I have been prepping to ask for a much better comp package, but the owner (who I have to speak to directly) is one of those people who gets very petty with people when they ask for more, so I was waiting it out to make sure my value was there and then was going to ask on the merge to the new company name. But I think I may be more resentful than I realized.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This reminds me of past discussions where an OP was staying because they thought there would be these great stock options, it would be like google, and warning tales in the comments. Both that the start-up gamble usually didn’t pay off, and that when it did it turned out that the business side had written things so that a few execs got massive payouts and the other roles didn’t.

    3. Hygge Hygge Hippo*

      Agreed. The plane ticket is a distraction from the real issue: you’re underpaid, overworked, and unappreciated. Start job hunting!

  11. A mathematician*

    LW5, I’d just like to add in the rare case this is you: if you are in academia, or another field where you have some kind of publicly available “output” that is tied to your name, then do put (medical leave Jan-Mar 2022) after the job dates in your CV (and parental leave would be described similarly) because that explains why you haven’t done publicly available work during that time.

    Obviously for most people that’s not the case, and no-one else needs to know you were on medical leave.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I’m not in academia, so I don’t know, but do you have to specify that it was medical leave rather than just leave? I always worry, especially for women, that employers will see “medical leave” and assume it was for a new baby, which shouldn’t affect anything but sometimes does in backwards workplaces or with backwards bosses.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        They’re probably going to assume that anyways. In academia, the majority of the times someone takes a leave of absence long enough to affect publication rates, it’s going to be maternity/parental leave, or an extended medical situation of some sort.

        1. Artemesia*

          And one of the main effects of the new parental leave policies is that women are seriously disadvantaged. Men use the time to publish while women take care of babies.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, but the way to improve that situation is not to penalize birthing parents, but to normalize parental leave for non-birthing parents.

            1. FDS*

              Normalization of parental leave for non-birthing parents is a bit of a stretch. Parental leave is for medical recovery of the woman due to the trauma of giving birth. Normalizing parental leave for fathers is like normalizing period leave for men.

              1. Jenny F. Scientist*

                Parental leave is also so the other parent can help take care of the baby? Because I’ve had three babies and my spouse took leave to, you know, keep everything running. Normalizing parental leave for fathers/ non birth parents, to me, is normalizing the idea that it’s everyone’s job to help out and look after the kid(s).

              2. Hazel*

                It’s not exactly the same. Cis men don’t have periods, but they can be parents. The leave is not just for medical purposes.

              3. OhNo*

                You know, as a man who menstruates, I find your comparison a bit silly. If men have periods, they should be able to access period leave too.

                If someone is a parent, regardless of gender or birthing status, they should have access to parental leave so they can bond with and care for the new child. There should be parental leave for birthing parents, non-birthing parents, adoptive parents, and any other type of parents there might be.

              4. doreen*

                I think you must be mixing up two different things. Lots of non-birthing parents take parental leave. In many situations , there is a period of leave that only the birthing person is eligible for – but there is also a period that a non-birthing person is eligible for. For example, take FMLA – a person giving birth can use FMLA for their own serious health issue even if they are surrendering the child for adoption and the non-birthing adoptive parent(s) can take FMLA for bonding.

              5. Jaydee (whose husband got 5 fucking days of parental leave and who is still bitter about this 11 years later)*

                One thing that can help birthing parents recover from the trauma of childbirth is to have their partner there to share the load of childcare and housework.

                Also, parental leave gives all parents – regardless of how the child joined the family – an opportunity to bond with their child and cope with the upheaval that comes with adding a new member to the family.

              6. Jaydee*

                Huh. As a woman who experienced the trauma of giving birth first hand, would you like to know the one thing that would have been most helpful to my recovery? If my husband had gotten more than 5 fucking days of parental leave, half of which were used up by the time we got home from the hospital.

                Like, I cannot even begin to explain what a physical and emotional wreck I was and the lasting consequences that has had on our family, my health, and my career.

                But beyond the recovery from childbirth, parental leave is about bonding with the child(ren) and allowing the whole family to adjust to its new member(s), regardless of gender or birthing status. Birthing parents’ partners should have parental leave. Adoptive parents should have parental leave. Parents who use surrogacy should have parental leave. I will never not advocate for generous parental leave for ALL parents.

              7. DataSci*

                I am choosing my words very carefully here so I don’t let my fury show.

                Not all families include a birthing parent and a father. Parental leave has two purposes – one is for the physical recovery of the birthing parent. The other is to allow the parents to TAKE CARE OF THE BABY. Your assumption that meeting one will always meet the other ignores reality. Are adoptive parents in your world just supposed to put a newborn in daycare at two weeks old – much younger than any center will take a kid – because neither of them gestated?

                You’re as bad as the awful excuse for a human being at my old job who said I wasn’t entitled to parental leave because my son wasn’t “my own child” because I didn’t give birth. To hell with that.

                1. DataSci*

                  And, of course, men can menstruate, and those who do are just as entitled to period leave when it’s offered as women who menstruate do. Sorry that in my own anger I neglected to point out the transphobia on top of the heteronormativity and adoption-erasure.

              8. CCC*

                This is a really unfortunate take. And, if we’re considering FLMA in the discussion, it’s an illegal one. The DOL states “Both mother and father are entitled to FMLA leave for the birth of their child, or placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care.”

              9. Aitch Arr*

                You are confusing Disability Leave with Parental Leave.
                Sometimes they run concurrently – namely when the childbearing parent is recovering from childbirth – but not always.

    2. A physicist*

      I came here to say the same – also in academia. Some grant applications even ask to explicitly state ‘career breaks’, which is usual code for medical and parental leave. This is used for example to compute you ‘academic age’ (number of years after your PhD, excluding breaks) so that they can compare your publication output and general productivity with peers of the same age. So for academic jobs I always include medical and parental leave. I find that interviewers take it well, as a ‘don’t ask questions’.

    3. Yorick*

      3 months isn’t really long enough to need to do this, especially since academic output can come out publicly so long after you did it. You might not need to specify that you were out for 3 months until next year, if ever.

  12. Saddest Sqonk*

    LW 1 – feel free to use my reason if you’re old enough! No medical talk necessary- I can’t donate because of living and traveling overseas as a child. You are ineligible to donate if, from January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in any country in the United Kingdom (UK),

    Channel Islands
    Falkland Islands
    Isle of Man
    Northern Ireland

    1. Zombeyonce*

      While I love the idea of literally anything to stop people bugging them about this, I worry that this would bring up a lot of follow-up questions from coworkers. People always want to know what it was like to live in other countries and I imagine this would make the LW have to go way past a white lie to end the conversation.

      1. Liz T*

        We don’t know how old OP is (he could literally not have been born in that window for all we know) but if he’s 40+ it’s not too farfetched that over the course of 16 years he had 3 months’ worth of UK vacations.

        1. metadata minion*

          It’s not that unusual, but it is quite a lot of overseas vacations, and someone wouldn’t have to be suspicious or unusually nosy to ask questions about them. I would! Does he have family there? Did he study abroad in college? I once went to [PLACE]; did he do [THING] to?

      2. Felis alwayshungryis*

        “Oh, I was a baby, I don’t remember anything about it.”

        But yeah, it’s best not to run with a lie that can lead to a follow-up conversation (“what were they doing there? Do you have family there? Have you been back? I loved my trip to the Lake District” etc.)

      3. nnn*

        If he’s a plausible age, an option could be to say he was a very small child and doesn’t remember. Or if he’s old enough that he would have to remember something, he could say something like “I was really annoyed that there were only 4 TV channels!”

      4. Allonge*

        Yes, this is way too big a lie and impacts so many other things that it may not be feasible to maintain it.

        Also – this is a small town and OP and his family lived there, it may not be at all realistic for others to believe it. Having lived on another continent is stuff people remember.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      This is me too! Usually, “I’m not eligible to donate,” does the trick but if people get feisty, I just say, “I’ve spent too much time in the UL and they think I have mad cow disease,” and that shuts things down.

      1. Whynot*

        That’s true for me as well, and I use the same comment if people ask. It works!

      2. CommanderBanana*

        Same! Ignoring the fact that if I had gotten mad cow during the 12 years I lived there, I would be long dead by now.

    3. Anon for this*

      The restriction used to apply to Europe in general – I was rejected for my junior year abroad in Spain. I just tell people I can’t donate because of mad cow restrictions – travel to Europe.

    4. Jessie Spano*

      Um, I did not know this and lived in the UK for two years during that period…

    5. Gracely*

      An even better way than outright lying about it is to say, when asked why you’re not donating: “Did you know that if you spent more than a total of 3 months in the UK between 1980 and 1996 that you’re ineligible to donate blood? Isn’t that wild?”

      It heavily implies that’s your reason without actually saying it is.

  13. Zombeyonce*

    #2: As soon as the deal is inked, start putting your resume out there and use that as an accomplishment (unless you want to avoid sales completely). Even if your company has huge growth and sees how valuable you have been, they’re highly unlikely to raise your salary to more than double to bring it to market value. Take the skills you’ve learned and get a job where you’re paid adequately and not overworked.

    1. Allonge*

      This! LW2, I am sure you have your reasons for accepting being this underpaid when you are bringing in business, but please consider making a move away from this place soon. If they double your salary tomorrow, it will still not make up for being underpaid until now, and they will feel they did you a huge favor.

  14. Ayla*

    LW1, if you’re willing and interested, I’ve found that bringing up non-donating volunteering opportunities helps move the conversation along. I am often unable to donate for reasons I don’t enjoy sharing, and this is what I do. I’ve passed out a lot of cookies and information packets.

  15. Chlorite*

    Re: LW1, You can also just donate blood and let your white lie be about your sex life. There’s no medical evidence in regard to blood safety to back up this asinine restriction.

    1. JSPA*

      There is no evidence to defer for being gay (which is why it’s no longer a deferral in most countries). And a three (or four) month deferral is also way beyond what’s relevant for undetectably-recent HIV infection.

      But if you are active enough for the infection to come in before the test can detect… then yes, the seroprevalence in your dating pool does matter.

      And for that matter, being on PrEP is a deferral (and could indeed have medical ramifications for the blood recipient).

      If OP is very regularly active in an area where a lot of people keep their sexuality “on the down low,” then for one or another reason, OP should be deferred. This isn’t, “two days short of the 4 month limit, other countries are seeing no uptick with a 3 month limit, and I test regularly.”



      1. DataSci*

        This new-partner based restriction would make sense, if it’s what was actually implemented. But gay men in a monogamous relationship are barred, and straight people can have new partners every weekend and still donate. (Not saying this to slut-shame anyone, just to point out the nonsensical nature of the existing prohibition.)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Commenter Nope put this downthread but I want to copy it here so you and the OP can both see this:

      There are heavy legal consequences for falsifying information in my state, at least. It’s absolutely absurd of course that gay guys aren’t allowed to donate freely but the documents you sign are legally binding. I am not a lawyer but it’s not good advice to tell someone to do something that could invite such severe consequences.

    3. Dr. Rebecca*

      If the LW has been refused donation before, the blood bank will have a record of that, so this white lie has potentially limited shelf-life.

    4. Susie Q*

      No you should absolutely never ever ever lie when donating blood. WTH. Even if it is outdated recommendations.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Please don’t. That blood is going in somebody else’s body. Somebody who is in the middle of a medical crisis.

      That’s the sort of situation where you need to follow the rules. Follow the stupid rules and the good ones, because you should 100% not be making your own judgments on which are stupid.

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        While I agree that this *is* a time for rule following, the “no gay men/men who have sex with men” rule is about HIV/AIDS, and all blood, ALL donated blood, is screened for HIV before it’s passed along to the recipient. The rule is outdated, discriminatory, and without basis in factual need. I won’t go as far as advocating the LW directly lie when asked, but if he wants to keep his sex life private, he should be able to do so.

        1. JSPA*

          The pcr test has a 9-10 day window between infection and popping a positive. The older tests, 21 day window. On average. But people (and HIV strains) differ; you need to know the standard deviation and skew, not only the average.

          IMO, 3 months is overkill, and 4 months or more is more so (but that’s assuming they are using the same tests as in the USA, where there’s been no uptick in blood transmission with the shift from lifetime to a year to 3 months).

          I would not be surprised to see it drop to 2 months.

          I would be surprised to see it drop to one month, even if they’re counting on always doing PCR (because Covid supply shortages have taught us that you can’t always count on not having to go to your backup plan).

          Plenty of people hook up more-than-once-a-monthly, and would consider 6 weeks a hardship.

          It is, I suppose, worth mentioning to OP that 3 months is a long time, if you’re used to a lot of activity, but it’s…not that long? Being in a homophobic job makes the reassurance of hot sex and warm cuddles pretty essential. But if you were bound and determined to donate, you could do “hermit season” the way some people do a dry month. (Yeah, not an easy sell after all the isolation; but you could, in theory, choose to ride out the next Covid wave truly solo (with intentionality, and off PrEP) and then donate right after. It would sort of suck to get defered after that (which as you know, can always happen) but at least you’d have a clean, “no strings pulled, no hints hinted” deferral.

          1. Dr. Rebecca*

            My objection to the restriction isn’t based on the timing of the tests vs positive, it’s based on the fact that it’s still targeting HIV as a “gay” disease, when it’s been widely accepted for decades now that anyone can get it if they’re having unprotected/unmedicated sex.

            If the argument is going to be “we can’t 100% know that the blood is HIV free” than the question should be “have you had sex with anyone without a condom/PrEP in the [insert time window here]” not “have you had sex with a man who has had sex with another man in the [insert time window here].”

            1. Nameless in Customer Service*

              I just attempted to say the same thing and you said it much more clearly.

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Blood usually gets tested for disease anyway – not only because people lie, but also because it’s entirely possible they may have some condition without being aware of it. I don’t know about the US, but over here the Red Cross will even call you if they discover something in your blood that you should know about. I’d imagine HIV is among those conditions they test for. Over here you can also tick a box on the form stating that if they find something that would mean it can’t be used for a transfusion they can still use it for research purposes (which I usually do because what else are they gonna do, give it back to me?)

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          So maybe it’s a stupid rule. I’m certainly not qualified to argue about that either way. But it doesn’t matter, since this is a case where you need to follow the stupid rules anyway.

          1. Nameless in Customer Service*

            It’s a clearly bigoted and ridiculous rule, so I do think anyone who’s not a fan of bigotry is qualified to oppose it. That said I actually agree that it’s the current rule until protests can get it changed, and that lying is inadviseable for many reasons. I just don’t agree that LW is required to burn his life down to satisfy your sense of justice.

            LW #1, there should be a sticker in your paperwork that you can put on the donation bag that has a code indicating “don’t use this blood”. It’s ridiculous that you’d have to go through the pain and literal draining of donating blood to avoid the homophobic judgements of the busybodies surrounding you, but the problem with lies is that they have to be maintained. Good luck with all of this and I wish I could send a box of cookies for after you donate.

            1. JSPA*

              It’s a rule based on the HIV prevalence in your dating pool.

              Per the CDC,

              “In the United States, the estimated lifetime risk for HIV infection among MSM is one in six, compared with heterosexual men at one in 524 and heterosexual women at one in 253”

              quoting this 2017 study,

              Hess KL, Hu X, Lansky A, Mermin J, Hall HI. Lifetime risk of a diagnosis of HIV infection in the United States. Ann Epidemiol 2017;27:238–43

              (2017 is before free PrEP, to be clear, but well after PrEP was approved by the FDA.)

              New infections are indeed falling, for MtoM transmission…but

              “By HIV transmission category, the annual number of HIV infections in 2019, compared with 2015, decreased among males with transmission attributed to male-to-male sexual contact, but remained stable among all other transmission categories”


              “In 2019, the largest percentages of HIV infections were [MSM] (66% overall and 81% among males.)”

              There are multiple other questions designed to suss out whether people are in any of the other categories where HIV seroprevalence is high.

              But it’s like any risk, where you take multiple steps to mitigate. An individual can be confident in their own use of PrEP, or their own barrier method skills, and have worry-free sex.

              But you know how people get in trouble if they believe someone else’s promise of being on PrEP (or being sterile because they were kicked by a mule as a kid)? Multiply that by a few hundred thousand people a year, and that’s what the people guarding the blood supply have to do. They have to ask, AND test.

              A lot of the rhetoric has lingered from the days of “forever” deferral. (That was BS.) Or the year-long deferral. (Ditto.)

              But making it three months (because people sometimes conveniently forget, when it’s close) rather than (say) 6 weeks? That’s not eggregious, given the relative seropositivity numbers.

              1. Nameless in Customer Service*

                2017 is a little while ago, though. But that’s a small objection. My larger objection is that I would want to know how the makers of the study identified people’s sexual orientations. I can’t see any other way than self-reporting which is going to have issues. Well, no, that’s the medium-sized objection. The biggest one is that no matter the odds, treating AIDS as a unique filthiness of men who have sex with men has caused a lot of societal problems and is not actually necessary to prevent AIDS transmission through blood donations. What we’re actually concerned with is infections, not identities.

                Meta note: I was really hoping for one week where there wasn’t a discussion of the inherent humanity of a given demographic group. Ah, well.

            2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              But the question isn’t one of bigoted-ness, but of competitive safety. If MSM blood has a higher chance of transmitting AIDS (which I am not qualified to have an opinion on) then it shouldn’t be used.

              I mean, gay folks are as likely to need a blood transfusion as anybody else, and don’t want to catch AIDS either. Safety is in everybody’s interest.

              1. Nameless in Customer Service*

                Let me not reinvent the wheel here. Here are some links featuring statements from people who assess these risks for a living.





              2. JustaTech*

                Nope. Researchers can say things about trends within populations or groups, but no one (at least no anyone in the field) would suggest that just eliminating those people eliminates the risk. Every blood donation must be tested for everything.
                When you work with human samples you learn a term called Universal Precautions, which means that you assume that every single sample you work with has every disease known to humanity and proceed accordingly.

                You can’t just look at someone, or ask them who they have sex with, and definitely state their risk of carrying HIV or HepB or HepC. Straight people have HIV. People with some medical conditions were (in the past, before all the testing) at much higher risk of HepB and HepC from getting lots of transfusions.

                So everything is tested. Every time. There is pooled testing to cut down on costs/time, but if anything in the pool tests positive the whole group is quarantined until each one can be tested.

        2. JustaTech*

          Blood *always* gets tested in the US unless you are banking your own blood to be given to you and no one else. Even blood for research gets tested for the Big Three (HIV, HepB and HepC).
          Beyond that all whole blood and blood-derived products (plasma, platelets, white blood cells) get tested for West Nile virus, Chagas disease, syphilis, CJD, vCJD (mad cow) and malaria. (Yes, I did just have to read the regulations last week. 21 CFR 600, I think.)

          The history of blood donation in the US is weird and racist and bigoted in ways I didn’t expect (shout out to This Podcast Will Kill You for covering a lot of the history of blood banking in the US).

    6. LizB*

      When I’ve donated at drives, there’s been a step in the process, usually right before the actual donation, where you privately put a barcode sticker on your paperwork or the actual bags that are going to have your donation in it. You get an option of two barcodes: one that when scanned will read “this blood is okay to use,” and one that will read “do not use this blood”. The idea is, if you’ve been pressured into donating or have a situation like OP1 where you don’t want to be public about being disqualified, you can lie on the screening questions, put on the “do not use” sticker, and donate, and when the blood is scanned back at the lab they’ll toss it (or use it for research if you opt in to that).

      1. Raboot*

        I’ve never encountered this and I’ve given blood in multiple different locations. I think the rate of errors would be way too high.

  16. Sarah in CA*

    I am diabetic, not totally controlled, so I can’t donate either and I keep my diagnosis to myself. It took me two years where I work to tell people and it was mostly to explain why I don’t accept food or Starbucks runs or participate in potlucks, etc…

    They understood but still not something I shout at the interview or something

  17. C Average*

    When I was in college, I remember going to a campus blood drive and seeing two fraternity guys racing each other to see who could complete his donation the fastest. The nurse was clearly super annoyed with their antics and told them if they didn’t knock it off, they would be kicked out and put on a no-donation list.

    You’re welcome to borrow this story and maybe even embellish it.

    1. pancakes*

      There are plenty of other options besides “I was such a jerk, they told me to never come back.”

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        And, I could also see the organizer asking if the LW could be removed from the non-donation list because they are older/wiser now and then finding out the LW was never on it.

      1. Phony Genius*

        In college, I saw somebody who, after donating, drank the milk that was meant for the coffee. All of it. They weren’t too happy with him, but they didn’t ban him. Of course, you can change the details of the story, if you need to.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        Yep, a whole frat came in together. Most of them fell over when they tried to hop off the chair afterwards, even after watching the other guys go down. Jocks!

    2. MK*

      I don’t know where you live, but I find the idea of a national no-donation list improbable, and that a nurse could permanently a person from donating for a relatively unimportant reason even more so. Possibly there is such a list at this campus, or at the hospital organizing the drive, and the would be ineligible to donate there specifically. More likely she was making empty threats to get them to behave.

      1. quill*

        I believe people are assuming that the donation drive, both at the college and at OP’s workplace, is being run via the red cross, which is a national organization and has much more extensive records than a local hospital.

  18. Bratmon*

    LW #4, depending on the service you use, there’s a non-zero chance that your email will be caught in an actual spam filter, so keep that in mind.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      This! I have one friend who uses proton.me, and their email gets caught in my spam filter regularly.

    2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I suppose this is always a possibility and there isn’t any email provider that would guarantee that it won’t happen. At least my spam filter seems to work pretty randomly…

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        My real-human last name contains an English language profanity in it’s combination of letters, and my own employer’s spam filter sometimes snags my emails to other emails within the company. I can only imagine what outside ones do.

        1. Esmae*

          The Scunthorpe Problem strikes again! I used to regularly get emails from a library listserv with a warning added by our filter that it might contain offensive language. Finally I realized it was because one of the women in charge of the listserv had the last name Del Negro.

  19. Thornus*

    #4, use a standard domain ender. I worked for a small company previously which switched us from comcast.net to a domain that ended “.center.” We had a lot of communication with state and local governments and noticed we were no longer hearing back from contacts. It turned out that the .center, which I told the company would be a problem, were being flagged as spam and moved directly to spam folders without anyone seeing them. Anything non-standard has the potential to do that, so to best protect that your emails don’t get lost, you shouldn’t use non-standard domain enders either.

    We switched to .com like two weeks after the switch to .center, btw.

  20. Liz T*

    LW #1, I would say to ignore any advice suggesting you give a vague lie about a non-specific “medical restriction” or “disqualification,” since people will either assume or pry. But apparently acne and psoriasis medications mean you can’t donate! (Also prostate and hair loss medication.) That’s pretty frickin’ innocuous.

    Also the “I pass out” story works (very true of me personally), though idk if they’re that homophobic maybe that would cause other problems.

    And, as someone else pointed out, you could always lie to the FDA instead? No pressure, your call. Just, eff them, seriously.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Commenter Nope put this downthread but I want to copy it here so you and the OP can both see this:

      There are heavy legal consequences for falsifying information in my state, at least. It’s absolutely absurd of course that gay guys aren’t allowed to donate freely but the documents you sign are legally binding. I am not a lawyer but it’s not good advice to tell someone to do something that could invite such severe consequences.

      1. Liz T*

        Has anyone ever suffered those consequences for falsifying this particular information?

        There are also “heavy legal consequences” for workplace discrimination, but we’re not expecting OP’s employers to experience those.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          Banning gay men from donating blood is an outrage and steeped in homophobia, but the solution to “I’d prefer to keep my sexuality private at work” is not to lie on official documents – also, OP has clearly written in asking for a script to explain that he *won’t* be donating, not to ask how to lie and donate anyway, which I’m sure he’s well aware is an option.

          I’m in favor of “my doctor said I can’t” (and, if pressed, a non-serious, unlikely to be discovered white lie like, “I had a bad reaction last time” or one of the many ideas people have suggested above that doesn’t involve remembering details of a fake ailment or vacation). The suggestion above to volunteer for the drive to circumvent folks who are just trying to reach 100% involvement or whatever is also a good one.

    2. Rachel from Hendu*

      Agreed, I would DEFINITELY not be vague about medical restrictions if you’re worried about being outed, because people do know that gay sex is a reason for disqualification and may speculate (which is gross). I’d use either “doctor told me my iron count is too low to donate, even when I’m eating spinach!” or telling the office gossip “this is embarrassing but I’m afraid of needles and I’ve fainted before, don’t tell anyone” (it will get around).

      there are also lists of things that will make you permanently deferred (my dad used to donate regularly but can’t anymore): you could say you recently discovered you have the gene for hereditary hemochromatosis, something that doesn’t necessarily require treatment but would get you permanently deferred. Here’s a list: mskcc.org/about/get-involved/donating-blood/additional-donor-requirements/medical-conditions-affecting-donation

      1. Nameless in Customer Service*

        This list of medications is very useful. Thank you for linking us to it.

      2. quill*

        Both my parents got told not to come back: My mom has deep veins and got nerve damage near the good vein, my dad passed out during a blood drive because blood sugar does stupid things.

    3. Dona Florinda*

      Husband couldn’t donate blood while he was taking hair loss medication, and had to wait 6 months after he stopped taking it. Same for me after having a endoscopy.
      There are so many white lies you could use that don’t leave room for speculation/ don’t make you look bad.

  21. MEH Squared*

    I think because all of the other stuff was ramped up gradually over time. It probably started with a few sales calls. Then, it was expanding into other territory. “Why don’t you plan it out, OP?” This in addition to her actual job (and other roles she seems to be doing), plus the fact that the OP is probably the conscientious type who feels beholden to do the best job possible–even if it’s not their job to do so. Plus the lack of money being made by anyone, really. The coach/first class situation was probably the last straw for the OP and struck a particularly sensitive nerve.

    This is the focal point for everything that’s wrong with this job. OP, I would not trust your company to do right by you monetarily, which may be where you want to focus your ire.

    1. MEH Squared*

      Sorry. I was just adding onto my comment above and it reposted here. This was for OP #2 and in response to Heidi.

  22. AnneMoliviaColemuff*

    LW #1 If you’re looking for potential excuses – my last donation threw up a (almost certainly false) result for hep C antibodies which apparently happens occasionally, so I can’t donate anymore.

    I’ve just said “I have a weird antibody thing which means they won’t let me donate anymore”. I haven’t had any follow up questions. (Although I am a woman so YMMV).

  23. Walk On By*

    #2, please find another job. Whoever gave you that excuse about your wages is utter BS! “… in a growth pattern right now due to a new business model…” what the heck does that even mean?

    1. FYI*

      I’m also wondering what this means:
      “I actually booked my own ticket outside of the company …”

      Does that mean you bought your own ticket without getting company reimbursement, LW? Why? Because you hate flying? I’m not sure I follow the logic here.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I read that sentence as “I booked a business class ticket out of my own pocket because it was easier than asking my boss if I could book a business class ticket with company funds.”

        Sitting in a business or first class seat means more legroom, more comfortable seats, and not worrying about having space for your bag in the overhead bins. All of those make flying more bearable for people who hate it.

        1. pancakes*

          Sure, but if paid for the whole ticket on their own they need to be reimbursed for at least part of it. The company was at the very least going to pay for coach.

  24. Tee 3*

    #2: Have you been an advocate for yourself while at this job? Or do you bring some self-defeating poverty-mindset perspectives to your workplace and feel like the ‘nice’ thing to do is suck it up and be willing to generally be sacrificial because you assume it would be a strain on the company to ask for more? Or you think you would feel greedy?

    You teach them how you should be treated, and when you are passive about being paid at the level you are worth, you are conveying that you don’t view yourself as being worth extra effort and attention. Sure, in a perfect world, they would do it because it’s the right thing to do, but if you’ve acted like you don’t care about pay or perks, they won’t prioritize it for you.

    As others have said, you need to deal with your pay issues before the flight concern. Before brushing up on the resume, if you are happy with the work itself, I’d suggest approaching your boss and saying, “Because I’ve perceived that the company was living with a tightened belt so we could afford some expansion, I’ve been willing to work for less money than I’m worth in the short term. I figured it would be rewarded when the payoff comes. If you have a different expectation, I am going to need to start considering other options for my own financial stability. How long should I anticipate waiting for a substantial increase in pay?” If their answer is unacceptable, start looking around.

    1. FYI*

      I wondered the same thing, especially since it reads (to me) like LW bought a plane ticket on their own dime rather than ask for a business-class seat.

    2. calonkat*

      Tee 3, I think you are being unnecessarily harsh on the OP. It’s not at all uncommon for people to realize things have gotten bad without having gone into a job with “self-defeating poverty-mindset perspectives”.

      The OP came here looking for advice and blaming them for the entirety of the situation is not really useful.

      1. Tee 3*

        Honestly, it was not intended to be harsh. I’ve been in that position myself. If you google ‘poverty mindset’ you’ll find that it’s a perspective in which one believes they / their efforts aren’t worth what they should be in the marketplace, and this ultimately holds them back from pursuing their true worth. I was in a very similar situation, being willing to accept little more than minimum wage from an organization that I knew lived on a tight budget because I felt guilty asking for more. Eventually I came to realize that somehow, others who were providing less value than me were making more than me. The difference was that they felt confident asking for what they were worth. I’m now over my poverty mindset and making what the organization is truly in a position to pay.

        The OP appears to be bringing great value to his business, but isn’t being fairly compensated and knows it. It sounds like the business can in fact afford things like first class seats and accompanying spouses, also in first class. He believed he had no choice but to suck it up and accept considerably less in the hopes that maybe someday things might be better, even though he knew other companies paid more for this work now.

        There is a hump we have to get over – in our minds – about our worth. It just sounds to me that until this episode, the OP thought it would be presumptuous to think he should drive over the hump.

        1. calonkat*

          I think this is where some additional words would have helped make your intentions clearer then.

          “#2: Have you been a real advocate for yourself while at this job? I think you should google “poverty-mindset” and consider if you are bringing any of those perspectives to your workplace…”

          All we have here is text, and the OP has offered their experience up for us to judge and asked for advice. It behooves us to be sure we are phrasing our written advice in a manner that encourages the OP to consider our advice, not feel attacked.

          I think everyone was encouraging the OP to consider their worth, but you left out a few key phrases about this being a specific “thing” (poverty mindset) and not a description of the OP based on their letter, and your personal experience, which really helps bring your position to life!

          I did like your original last paragraph a lot and I should have mentioned that :)

          1. Tee 3*

            The OP’s post started with the assertion that he was aware that he might get honest feedback saying he was wrong or seemed entitled, and that he was okay with that because he was just looking for a sounding board. My tendency is usually to give a soft response, but they seemed like they were ready for some straight-up possibilities about whether their feelings about the situation were reasonable. So, I didn’t worry about a more tender word choice… but also, wasn’t trying to be unkind.

            ‘Poverty mindset” is commonly discussed in my workplace (academia, where we have students who need to overcome this). So often, we fear coming off as greedy or not ‘nice’ if we think about asking for what is simply fair. Especially if we think it’s our responsibility to be the sacrificial one in the situation so that others aren’t burdened.

            As the OP described their work load, it sounded like they wear many hats and have volunteered/said yes to many tasks. Where I work, most of us wear several hats and are okay with it. In OP’s situation, it sounds like they already had a full load but then felt obligated to take on a whole new big project without a pay increase. It seems they never even thought to ask for more compensation. And it seems like they just assumed there wasn’t enough money to do anything but bare bones and that it was extra virtuous to take one for the team financially. But, they may be the only one undervaluing their contribution. It sounds like others may be earning what they are actually worth.

            Hopefully, OP will be able to have a direct conversation with the employer and convey the scope and value of their worth and ask for a raise. Then next time a flight needs booked, others may consider him to be higher on the totem pole and seat him accordingly.

  25. Fikly*

    LW2: Booking execs in first class and the peons in coach is standard practice. What’s ridiculous is staying in a job where you are drastically underpaid and very overworked when you know you could do better elsewhere if there aren’t compelling reasons to stay. And “it will pay off later” is not a compelling reason, because this company isn’t going to reward you. They are going to take advantage of you until you leave, whether it be by your choice, or until they wring everything they can out of you and then lay you off or fire you because you are no good to them any longer.

  26. Coffeecoffeecoffee*

    LW #1, if your company is medium-sized is it possible you could just avoid signing up and fly under the radar during the drive? I’ve worked in small offices that do this and so non-participation is pretty obvious, but maybe if your company is a bit larger you can avoid without being too conspicuous.

    Also, I’ll echo earlier comments about not providing a medical reason because it seems like privacy isn’t valued at your company and people may get nosy. I’d either go with the “passed out in the past” excuse (“Yep, my blood pressure bottoms out and I’m gone! Anyway, what are you up to this weekend?”), donate and not disclose or request that they not use your blood, or even avoid this mess altogether and take some PTO or sick time that day. I’m sorry you’re having to give so much thought to this.

  27. Zach*

    As someone who handles hiring for my team, I do pay attention to email domains, but I also work in tech. If I see a Yahoo or Hotmail address it generally makes me think someone is out of touch with current internet trends! That said, it also doesn’t make me think they’re unqualified, but it does mean I check on how up to date they are on where people generally are. Protonmail or other privacy focused domains, or personal domains definitely send a message too in my industry.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      I’m sorry – but not only is it weird to care about an email domain and there no way it’s a reliable indicator of someone’s tech savvy.

      I had a hotmail up until about 5 years ago simply because I had it for so long and switching emails on everything you’ve registered an email address. Many people who’ve been around since the early days of public internet use will still have those old emails. It has the potential to be discrimnatory based on age my friend.

      Everybody and their uncle has a gmail address – I assure you there are many who are lacking tech skills.

      If tech skills are required then you should be checking that of everyone, not people who have a certain domain name.

      1. bamcheeks*

        True — if everyone with a Gmail address had good tech skills, I wouldn’t be getting emails which were supposed to be going to a) that Fox news subscriber b) the subscriber to a local radio channel in Pennsylvania c) the committee of the Foxy Lady Ladies Sailing Committee in Canada or d) the School Spirit Group in South Carolina. :)

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes to this. I still have a hotmail address and it’s my primary one. Why should I go to the hassle of switching everything over when it works just fine? So someone won’t judge me? I couldn’t care less if someone thinks my email is outdated and therefore thinks I’m lacking technical skills. I’d be judging them for thinking an email address matters that much.

      3. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Yes. I could see thinking, “Hey, this person has their own e-mail domain, so they’re at least somewhat tech savvy.” But Looking down on Yahoo or Hotmail while thinking Gmail is just fine? No. There is absolutely nothing about Gmail to indicate that someone who uses it is more tech savvy than a Yahoo or Hotmail user.

        And what about using gmail indicates that someone is in touch with “current internet trends?” What’s that even mean?

        Honestly, this has a faint whiff of ageism: “Ooh, Hotmail. This person must be old.”

        1. Observer*

          But Looking down on Yahoo or Hotmail while thinking Gmail is just fine? No

          That alone is a flag to me for certain positions. Are you not aware of just how insecure Yahoo mail is?

          It’s stupid to assume that someone with a gmail account has a clue. But it’s also rather clueless to think that someone is reasonably up to date on significant developments if they are still actively using a service as insecure as yahoo as their primary account for new business.

          Of course, this is not relevant to a lot of positions. But for those where you need people to actually keep up with what’s going on in technology? Yes, it’s an issue. And no, it’s not about being “old”.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            Ok so its not secure. Maybe I only use it for things where security doesn’t really matter. Maybe I set it up a long time ago and in fact only ever use it for job hunting and emailing my grandma. I’m not concerned about security.

            Again, deciding something arbitrary like an email domain with zero context of why that person uses that domain is nothing but you making assumption.

            My father whos entire career has been working on the FAA computer systems and software. He is highly sensitive to security issues. He has an old yahoo email account that he uses for email still.

            If people needs certain tech skills, then you assess everyone.

            1. Fikly*

              Hi, and welcome to how job candidates are evaluated? It’s all about appearances. If you can’t be bothered to set up an email address to at least fake an appearance, then that sends a message, particularly in a tech industry.

              That’s one way it’s being assessed. Don’t like it, don’t play.

        2. quill*

          It’s just as likely that someone with their own email domain simply paid for it. See my former boss, who was not aware that he needed an antivirus. Our site got hacked at least once a year. I’m sure at least 20% of my emails to vendors ended up in a bottomless void of spam filter.

      4. Observer*

        but not only is it weird to care about an email domain and there no way it’s a reliable indicator of someone’s tech savvy.

        That’s only partially true. If you have a gmail account it doesn’t mean you are tech savvy. But using an old Hotmail or Yahoo account as your primary “business” account for new stuff does generally speak to tech saviness and comfort. Now, for many jobs it just doesn’t really matter that much, but for others it’s a real red flag.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          See my response above. You have no idea what that person uses that email address for, you are assuming they do all their business with it and assuming they aren’t tech savvy because of it.

          The point of a resume is to review someone’s experience – that’s what you should be evaluating. Followed by interviews to further assess.

          1. Observer*

            I don’t care why someone has a particular email address. In some fields being that cavalier about actively using an account like that on significant new correspondence is a black mark. If you don’t consider your job search significant, that’s a problem too. I don’t expect people to “show passion” for a job they don’t know anything about, or make themselves nuts to make a good impression. But I do expect them to take job application seriously.

            So either you don’t take the application seriously, or you don’t realize that this address actually does have a problem. If your job is technology and you’re not aware of that, that’s a red flag.

      5. Elenna*

        Yes, I also have a yahoo mail because that’s what was big almost 20 years ago when my parents set up an email address for me and I just don’t see any reason to change it, deal with redirecting everything, etc. Sure, it’s not as good as gmail, but I barely get any important emails anyways. Nothing to do with my tech skills.

    2. Oakwood*

      Does it send the message that they are up to speed with current trends? Because, that’s how I would look at it.

    3. calonkat*

      I’ve had a yahoo address almost since the service started. I’m old, but I don’t see why I have to change my email provider every time a new provider pops up. Surely there is some value in being able to email me using the same email address you used 5/10/15 years ago. My friends certainly think so at least :) I don’t see why a primary contact service has to be “trendy”. But then I didn’t put dancing unicorn bars on my website back in the day either, so I just may not understand the importance of tech trends.

      I don’t work in “tech”, but I’m one of the go-to people on my team/floor for tech issues, and the IT team respects my knowledge (which includes knowing when I need to escalate an issue).

      1. BethDH*

        I think it is good to warn someone who is currently setting up their email that a not-insignificant number people will judge them for this, just like we will warn them that using a non-standard ending could also run them into problems with outdated spam filters.
        I bet soon it will be somehow retro trendy to have a hotmail address and then you’ll get a different kind of age discrimination for it.

      2. email does matter*

        But if you and others in this thread were more tech savvy, you’d realize you could quickly just set up auto-forwarding from your old AOL/Yahoo/whatever email address to your new email address.

        1. calonkat*

          But why? Just to be on top of the current fads?

          You’ll be saddened to know I tend to keep the same street address, and the same phone number. Just a stick in the mud I suppose.

          I do know how to forward email, but if I needed to do so, I’d probably forward the new fashionable email to my yahoo address, where every other email already goes.

        2. Rocket*

          And if you and others on this thread were more concerned about actual skill than you were about optics, you wouldn’t care that someone has chosen not to want to take the time to set that up. I’ve got limited time in my day – setting up a forwarding email simply so someone else doesn’t judge me? Not wasting my precious time even thinking about that.

  28. Woah*

    I tell everyone anemia. “yeah, no matter what, I’m just always anemic! its why im so pale ha! yeah no, i eat meat, take supplements…i’m just the low iron end of the bell curve. no one wants my blood! :) “

  29. Red 5*

    For LW 1- Definitely best to keep it vague, but there is a seriously long list of medications that would restrict you from donating. On top of that, there’s just a long a list of meds that are a big question mark. I’m on one that’s not on the safe or unsafe list and I’ve gotten conflicting advice on whether it’s safe or not so I err on the side of caution.

    So if they try to push for more details there are things to fall back on there, but generally the more vague you can be the better, and people who get pushy are jerks so you don’t have to entertain them. But make sure your white lie is something non negotiable, or they might keep trying (I have seen multiple people get bullied after they said they have a needle phobia for example).

  30. JSPA*

    LW#1, as people do speculate, as specifics are your enemy, and as other medical conditions can also win you side-eye,

    I’d go with one of these.

    1. “I always get deferred, so I’m done wasting my time and theirs.”

    2. “Last time I tried, I was deferred, and they told me to check back in 3 years.”

    3. “I’m a match for a hard-to-match family member with medical issues, so I don’t donate except when needed for that.”

    Bonus: Go online and buy a roll of, “I donated blood!” stickers. Put one on your desk or monitor with “Jan 2025” scrawled on it.

    Also note that there IS ALWAYS the option to go in, and then ask to be deferred. Ditto the option to donate and then cancel the donation (but don’t do this, it’s a waste of time and resources).

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      That family member one is genius and I might start using it myself.

      (Have a rare blood group, can’t donate due to medications, sibling has an even rarer blood group than the rest of us!)

    2. Donate or don'tnate*

      Ditto the option to donate and then cancel the donation (but don’t do this, it’s a waste of time and resources).

      I’m glad this got mentioned, because I was coming to point this out. If you know it’s all going to be a charade, it’s better to not waste everyone’s time and physical resources on (general) your fake donation. That includes your own time and resources!

      I just tell people I permanently can’t donate for medical reasons. If they press, which they *shouldn’t* because they’re probably not your doctor, but sometimes do anyway, I will tell them the reason because I don’t mind, But I will also flat-out add (firmly, but with a polite smile), “But you should know it’s actually highly inappropriate to ask someone that question if you’re not their doctor.” That tends to put a bit of fear in them if they work with me. No one wants to get reported to HR for trying to nose into co-workers’ private medical details.

      1. Donate or don'tnate*

        Something else I want to add for the LW: if you have a desirable blood type, people will trample all over your reasons for not donating even more. I’ve learned to say, “You know, I don’t recall my blood type offhand” when asked (not that I get asked a lot outside of people talking about blood donations). I’m O+, and they’re always begging for that blood, but my health disqualifies me to donate. Even so, there have been a few times where people have legit “fake-threatened” to drag me to a donation station and lie about my medical history to force me to donate once they learned my blood type. Not that they’d get away with it, but just the fact that it crosses their minds makes me feel unsafe. Or they’ve harassed me to go and lie myself about being unable to donate “for the good of others,” conveniently ignoring the fact that donating would not be good for MY health. (Apparently I’m not a person, just a blood receptacle for others.)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I should get my sister to read this. She’s O- and always being hassled by people to give blood because of it (she can’t, been anaemic since having a kid).

          My blood group is different but just as rare in reality and yeah I avoid telling people what it is because of the lectures about how they really need this type. I’d love to! But they’ll never want mine.

          1. Donate or don'tnate*

            Haha, yeah, I’ve definitely found that having selective forgetfulness serves me well in this regard!

  31. Roeslein*

    LW #1, I’ve never been able to donate blood because there is a 50kg minimum weight threshold where I am and I am a small woman. Lots of reasons why people can’t donate that have nothing to do with medical conditions! Travel has been discussed as another one. I wouldn’t feel like your “explanation” has to imply medical reasons at all.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      Same! I think the answer to this question is really to accept that nosy people will be nosy, and might come up with their own explanations, and try NOT TO CARE. Easier said than done, yes, but a longer-lasting solution, and one applicable to many situations in life.

  32. Email Address Opinion-Haver*

    #4 – one other problem you may have with a longer non-standard TLD is that not all form fields will accept them as valid. So if companies have online forms for their application process, you may run into some forms that just… won’t accept that email address at all. (I have a non-standard TLD email and I have to maintain a separate .com email address for this exact reason). In my experience, a lot of the bad form validation does it by the length of the TLD, so it’s possible that yourname@jobsearchingis.fun would work because fun is 3 characters, but yourname@jobsearching.sucks would fail validation since sucks is 5 characters.

    Having a nonstandard TLD won’t necessarily in and of itself get your emails sent to people’s spam folders, but who your email provider is might. If you have a fancy domain through Google workspaces, your emails will probably go through since you’ve got the power of gmail behind you. But if you have email through a small provider (or host your own mailserver or whatever) it’ll probably get bounced a LOT.

  33. It’s too early to be up*

    OP1: I’m 49 and have never given blood and have passed up plenty of work-related blood drives. Just don’t want to donate. Those needles look huge! Is it necessary to lie? Have you tried a simple “I don’t want to”? No other reason necessary in my book. The problem with lying is trying to maintain whatever lie you tell.

    1. Bagpuss*

      It shouldn’t be, but people can be very pushy.
      A simply ‘no’ when asked if you plan to donate should be all that’s needed, but in a lot of situations isn’t gping to be enough.
      Out of instneerst – if you’ve say you don’t wan to, have you never had people asking for more information or pushing or enouraging you to try? If not, I suspect that you’ve been fortunate!

  34. Yellow*

    OP1 a white lie is your best option – but pick one you can talk about and uphold, and don’t need to worry about contradicting in the near future.

    Big lies about your life take a lot of effort to keep untangled. Don’t pretend ongoing medical conditions, places you used to live, possible genetic disorders etc.

    Go through the questions where you live, and pick something little that excludes you. Be ready to give a quick explanation that’s specific and if people give suggestions for how to fix it, cheerily say you’re following doctors orders but thanks for the suggestion that you’ll look into it/ask your doctor etc.

    Vague “medical condition” answers often over dramatise things unnecessarily, and leave people wondering what to be hidden (even if they never say anything).

    You will likely find you aren’t the only person unable to give blood. And you can honestly say – I wish I could!

  35. Bagpuss*

    #1 I’, sorry that you are in this positionand tht it’s not safe for you to give your real reason. As others have suggeted, keep the reason as vague as possible to avoid inappropriate questions .
    I would start with saying something like ‘I’ve been told I should’t donate at present’ (which implies that it’s a short term tempory thing, so may deflect speculation about your sexuality.)

    If you get someone really pushy then something like ‘Wow, why are you so interested in my medical history?’ might make them back off, or if you don’t want to be confrontational (even to someone who is being inappropriately nosy!) then something like ‘Oh, I fail the iron test often enough that I ‘ve been told not to donate for now- it doesn’t affect my health, but they don’t want my blood’

    (and then if you get the ‘helpful’ suggestions about raising your iron levels then go with ‘Like I said, I’ve been told not to donate at present and I’m sticking to the professional advice I’ve been given’)

    I’ve been a regaur donor for decades and it’s really inappropriate to pressure people to donate or ask about why they don’t or can’t – there are so many reasons why people can’t donate, and many of them are things people may not feel they want to share with their coworkers (sexuality or sexual history is one, of course, but there are also things such as recent pregnancy loss, history of cancer, what medications you are taking etc. OP1, you could consider speaking to your boss or whoever is cooerfinating the drive to suggest that they do make clear that people shouldn’t be pressuring or qustioning others, for those sorts of reasons, if you feel that they would be receptive and that you could so so without putting a target on your own back )

    1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

      Absolutely. Both my parents were regular donors for years. Then my mother had an operation and needed blood transfusions, so she could no longer donate, and my father started taking medication that meant he could no longer donate. There are so many reasons.

      1. GraceC*

        My parents were both regular donors until:
        – My dad was blue-lighted to hospital for a suspected heart attack, and the history of arrhythmia on his medical records bars him from donating despite being O-
        – My mum had several years of fertility treatments and some of the drugs bar you from donating while taking them – and one, using hormones extracted from animal urine, bars you forever due to vCJD risk

        In the UK at least, the reasons are many, varied and confusing. (I’ve had temporary bans due to low haemoglobin, but a daily iron supplement fixes that right up)

  36. SelinaKyle*

    LW1 we’re also organising a blood drive at my work. I’m also unable to give blood due to a medical condition I had as a baby.
    Considering the area you live I would just tell a white lie and say your unable to give blood due to a past medical condition.

  37. Rosacolleti*

    #1 if you’re old enough say you spent time in the UK in the 90’s #madcowdisease

    1. TexasTeacher*

      I’m curious, why would hotmail or yahoo be considered unprofessional or outdated?

      1. Ferret*

        I don’t really know about hotmail but I remember reading several news stories about how the yahoo email service was falling apart and experienced massive data breaches and was overall terrible and mostly populated by dead accounts of people who had long since moved on – and this was several years ago. I don’t think it would have a major impact, and I’m not in a position to make hiring judgements anyway but it does seem outdated, because well…. it’s quite outdated.

      2. DrSalty*

        It suggests the owner is not very tech savvy. Perhaps stuck in their ways and unwilling to change. I’m not saying that’s true, but that’s the stereotype of people who still use outdated email like yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL.

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          “You know—old. Only I’m not saying ‘old’ because you’re not supposed to. But that’s totally what I mean.”

        2. TexasTeacher*

          Well, I am not very tech savvy, that is true. But my work email address, or another private one, doesn’t make me more so!

      3. Observer*

        Yahoo is not only outdated but it’s incredibly insecure. Before it was bought by Verizon, they had a several breaches such that EVERY SINBGLE email password had been breached at least once, and several as many as 3 times. And in at least one of the big breaches (covering more than half their user base), they not only hid the information, they didn’t even force people to change their passwords. Not only that, even after the first large breach, they didn’t even make sure to properly encrypt the password database. So, once you got it, it was easily hackable.

        All of the details didn’t come out until Verizon signed a deal to take over Yahoo, and it caused them to lower the price by ~$350m. But the system was such a mess that they couldn’t make it profitable, and they didn’t do anything to fundamentally fix the problems, so at the end of last year they sold it off for just a hair over half the price they paid for it.

    2. calonkat*

      I replied to someone upstream as well, but I really think this is silly. My yahoo email is functional, it has my history in it, it’s signed up to everything I use, honestly it would take me days to change my email with every service that I’m registered with. And then I’d be expected to change everything when the fashion changed? When did addresses become fashion?

      I think there’s a very real benefit to knowing you can email me with the same address in a year and that I will get that email. Same phone number for over 15 years as well (previous one I had for 30+ years).

      But you’re welcome to not hire me and hire people who change their email every time a new email provider pops up. I used to hire for a temp agency and I considered people flaky who did change their email and phone number all the time (usually because they were avoiding creditors/legal issues.) Apparently they were just “up to date” though. Ah how times change.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        My gob is fully smacked at the idea that an e-mail service could be “outdated.” Does it send and receive e-mail? Then congratulations, it’s not outdated. It’s not like the state of the art of e-mail has progressed that much in the past twenty years (aside from anti-spam measures). Sure, there are some interface things that mean some people might prefer one provider over another, but there’s nothing about Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL that makes those services “outdated.”

        1. quill*

          Yeah, functioning spam filters, and an email that is common enough to actually be considered valid in online forms are the two main considerations. After that, data breaches.

        2. calonkat*

          Agreed. I’ve emailed lots of people off of genealogical sites and research websites (I lead quite the fun filled life as you can tell), and it’s never bothered me if it’s an AOL address IF THEY REPLY. I may have a little less hope with AOL addresses (and if it’s a geocities, yes it MIGHT still work, but I don’t hold much hope at all).

        3. Parakeet*

          Security matters at some companies and in some roles, and Yahoo is notorious for a history of bad security practices (including having stored security questions/answers unencrypted as recently as under five years ago!) and for not being forthcoming about their security problems (no provider is immune from some degree of security problems, but others have been more transparent). Not to mention the whole Yahoo Mail NSA backdoor scandal.

          Google, of course, has some significant privacy problems across its products – always looking for more ad-related revenue – but that’s not precisely the same as bad data security practices. It’s actually pretty invested in preventing Gmail data breaches.

          1. AntsOnMyTable*

            But why Hotmail then? Everyone keeps giving data breaches as a reason to judge against yahoo but other than just being “dated” what is the issue against hotmail?

      2. Owler*

        Yeah, but I don’t see people suggesting that you have to give up your main email address and lose that history if you want to job search with a different email address. This is not an either/or situation. There isn’t just one ring.

        If I were job searching, I’d set up a separate email address just for posting to online sites to contain the potential spam to that address. With mail forwarding and pop mail options, there’s no reason to sully my personal inbox with the spam from a temporary search.

  38. Nope*

    There are heavy legal consequences for falsifying information in my state, at least. It’s absolutely absurd of course that gay guys aren’t allowed to donate freely but the documents you sign are legally binding. I am not a lawyer but it’s not good advice to tell someone to do something that could invite such severe consequences.

    1. Nope*

      This was meant to be in reply to a comment suggesting that OP 1 lie about his eligibility to donate.

  39. DrSalty*

    LW #2, why are you still at this job? You’re way underpaid and overworked by your own admission.

  40. bluephone*

    I was once turned away from donating blood because I had finished antibiotics only 2 days prior, instead of the recommended 3-or-more days (U.S., around 2000-ish so no idea if it’s changed since then). I’ve always considered that one of the more random reasons.

  41. Sean*

    LW1, surely your medical details are a private matter between you and your doctor – and no one else. What on earth are c0-workers and HR doing poking their noses into something that’s frankly none of their damn business in the first place?

    Looks like you need a reason which can be deployed repeatedly, and where follow-ups lead to a dead end.

    Your suggestion of saying you had already donated recently could be used once, or maybe twice. But repeated use of that reason would start to sound like you’re dodging the issue to the ears of those who have no respect for others’ medical privacy.

    I would suggest saying something like: “I really shouldn’t have to say this, since it’s my private and personal medical details, but my doctor has said I have a naturally low haemoglobin count, which can occasionally become anaemic. Because of this he recommends that I don’t donate blood since the loss of a pint would likely leave me anaemic.” (Or words to that effect.)

    At that point refuse to go into any further detail, should anyone press for more information. After all, you’ve had to disclose some of your medical information to them just to satisfy their idle curiosity, so you’ve more than met them half way.

    1. Katie*

      Or the shorter version, “Anemia, it is under control but my doctor won’t let me donate blood.”

  42. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    The great thing about saying you can’t donate because of “medical restrictions” is that it’s perfectly true. It’s the donation organisation that’s created those arbitrary restrictions and you’re obeying their rules.

  43. English Rose*

    LW#4 Good for you for using a privacy-conscious service. Protonmail are great and won’t raise any flags. But… why not use a separate email when you are job hunting? Proton allow you to have aliases, as do many other providers. Using an alias solely for job hunting means you won’t get spammed on your main personal account when your email address gets circulated as it will unless you’re job hunting at a very senior level. I’d use a separate phone number via a service like Sudo for the same reason. Good luck with the job hunt.

    1. CatMouse*

      Protonmail actually flags for fraud checks in our automated system requiring orders to be manually reviewed, possibly because of those aliases

  44. Anya Last Nerve*

    I remember reading an article years ago about how having an AOL or hotmail email address could negatively impact your resume so it’s something to think about. I would create an account specifically for your job hunting using gmail or yahoo and save save the lesser known domains for your regular personal use.

    1. ijustworkhere*

      What a weird thing that where somebody gets their email could negatively impact their candidacy –it’s almost like discriminating based on where somebody lives….

      1. Shiba Dad*

        “Email snobbery” is a thing. When Gmail was introduced it was invitation only, IIRC. At that time having a Gmail address became a bit of status symbol. I found it weird, because it’s just an email address. Then again, at that time all I had were lowly email addresses from AOL and my ISP.

        My primary now is Gmail, but I still use the other two for certain things. I’ve used my Gmail address when job hunting. A lot of people look down on using AOL. The view of a lot of folks is that AOL is for people who really don’t know how to use the interwebs.

        Another consideration is that some IT departments assume anything from an AOL and/or Hotmail address is spam.

        1. GFail*

          My primary is GMail, but I’m not married to Google or anything. It’s just a good, stable email that doesn’t randomly lose messages like my friend on Yahoo! deals with on the regular. I really don’t get the hate for older email services (except Yahoo!, but only if you’re hating on its terrible service and repeat data breaches).

          It’s funny how GMail was seen as a status symbol like you said back in 2004 when it was invite-only, and then by 2008, I remember seeing people put up their noses and claim that they couldn’t take you seriously unless you had email from your own paid domain name instead of free GMail. Too many people are always looking for ways to be classist and look down on others.

        1. Shiba Dad*

          There are parts of the US that don’t have broadband. Over a quarter million Americans still use dial-up. That could be what ijustworkhere is referring to.

        2. Generic Name*

          My mother. She absolutely loves in AOL City. It has 10,000 residents—I mean unread emails. ;)

        3. Gray Lady*

          They said, “almost like.” It’s a prejudice-based snobbery, almost like a prejudice-based snobbery against where you live.

      2. Colette*

        Some jobs do discriminate based on where someone lives. (e.g. they won’t hire anyone with more than a 30 minute commute, if you want to work for the city, you have to live in the city.)

    2. Can't think of a funny name*

      I don’t understand the hate for AOL or hotmail addresses. I’ve had a hotmail address for 25 years…I’m not going to change to something else just b/c a bunch of people decided hotmail was not cool. It would take forever to update every mailing list and contact with my new email address…pass…I’ll just be uncool.

      1. calonkat*


        But everyone will be able to email you in a few years with the same email address. And I think there is real value to that.

        /me waves stick at these kids and their newfangled ideas
        /me also realizes this isn’t IRC

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          It’s all been downhill since usenet died off.

          Anyway, I think you nailed it upthread when you asked, “When did addresses become fashion?” There’s something about e-mail domain snobbery that seems very much like a fashion trend. “Oh…so you’re still wearing last season’s e-mail provider? How…thrifty of you, I suppose.”

    3. TexasTeacher*

      That seems so strange to me. I guess I would just assume they got a personal email account back in the 90’s and haven’t had a compelling reason to get a new one. I guess I’m that person!

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

      The thing is the OP wants a more private email. Createing a new gmail or something is not addressing the OP’s concerns.

  45. AnonyNurse*

    #1: I totally get not wanting to be vague.

    Your best option might be, “oh, I donate like clockwork on my own time so this week doesn’t sync up with my eligibility.” Most employer drives are 2-4x/year but you can donate every 8 weeks. And I’ve legit been in that situation in the past. Plus if you don’t say the word “blood” you aren’t lying. You donate … something like clockwork. :)

    The other suggestion I haven’t seen here is acne meds that get you a ban, like Accutane. So you could say “I’m on a med to prevent crazy acne that I still get despite no longer being a teenager” or something.

  46. ijustworkhere*

    “I’ve been advised by my medical provider to not donate at this time.”

  47. Dmitri*

    nosy co-worker (NCW): You gonna give blood?
    ME: “I’m not eligible”
    NCW: “oh? why not?”
    ME: “That’s not really anyone’s business”
    NCW: “Hey, it’s just a question”
    ME: “…………that’s not really anyone’s business.”
    Any further questioning should get the Miss Manner’s treatment (just repeat what you said in the first place until they get the friggin’ hint and shut up)

    I’m so sick and tired of everyone and his brother “needing” to know why you say “no” to something.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      If their goal is to prevent their coworkers from speculating, this is not going to help.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yep. A lot of commenters are getting hung up on what *should* be happening – people shouldn’t be nosy, and if they are then they should drop it and slink off in shame after you subtly point out their nosiness. LW1 is unfortunately in a situation where he has to be more practical than that.

    2. anonymous73*

      I wouldn’t say “I’m not eligible” because that brings speculation even if he shuts them down as you suggest. A simple “I’m not donating” is perfectly acceptable.

    3. Sylvan*

      People who know gay/bi men aren’t eligible are going to guess, and OP’s trying to avoid discrimination.

    4. EventPlannerGal*

      The point isn’t teaching everyone a lesson about privacy and keeping their nosy questions to themselves, though – the point is for OP to avoid being outed and potentially facing discrimination or even losing his job. To that end it seems really unhelpful to draw everyone’s attention to how gee, OP really doesn’t want to talk about why he can’t give blood, I wonder why.

      1. Red 5*

        Yup, exactly. This is why it’s important to be nonchalant and sound almost bored when you answer and avoid sounding confrontational.

        If you are confrontational, they wonder why you’d get so upset about what they view as a perfectly normal question. If you’re bored and just don’t want to get into it because ugh, it’s not even a good story, then they might not even realize you didn’t really say much of anything. It works especially well if you have a good way of distracting the conversation to something else, because you just come across as wanting to talk about something more interesting/important. They might not even realize you changed the subject.

        Of course none of this strategizing should be necessary and we should be able to tell people when they’re being too nosy. But that’s not the world we live in.

    5. Julia*

      “I’m not eligible” with no additional info is going to fuel speculation. Yes it’s nobody’s business and if you’re trying to come up with a way to stop gossip that won’t do it. It could fuel speculation about drug use, STDs and being gay. An innocuous reason will stop the curiosity. A breezy “Oh my doctor says I can’t because of medical reasons. So, how is the TPS report going?” works wonders.

    6. Kyrielle*

      And this is *great* language for those of us who are ineligible for various other raeasons to use to normalize it. But maybe not for OP who is trying to avoid speculation that might land on a truth the speculator would find uncomfortable. (And which is none of their darned business.)

  48. Daria Grace*

    #1 My (real) excuse is I have veins so bad they struggle to get enough blood out for a blood test so donatable quantities wouldn’t be viable. Using that shouldn’t invite too many followup questions

    1. River Otter*

      Yes. I have small veins, and donation draws use big needles. And my veins roll, so the phlebotomist has to be extra skilled. Uncooperative veins are a great excuse!

      1. quill*

        Yeah, the point of picking an excuse is for it to be non-stigmatized, not something anyone can “fix,” and plausible.

        “They can’t get the needle into the right vein” is a pretty good one.

  49. anonymous73*

    #1 Normally I don’t recommend lying, even a white lie, because you have to keep track of that lie. And there always seems to be a Nosy Nelly in an office who makes note of something you said and questions you when you contradict yourself later. That being said, this is definitely an exception. Alison’s wording is perfect.
    #2 the problem here is not first class vs coach…he’s the owner. The problem is that you’re undervalued in your job and need to address your pay and the way you’re treated if you want things to change. If you just complain about not flying first class, you’ll come off as entitled.
    #3 yes it’s a good idea to change the dress code to be gender neutral, but as a woman I wore lots of collared dress shirts to work when I was in the office. Yes women have more leeway with business casual, but don’t make assumptions when bringing it up.

    1. fluffy*

      The malicious-compliance streak in me wants to suggest that the women wear collared shirts to the event too.

  50. Koalafied*

    This is immediately where my mind went. Careless developers apply overly rigid field validation rules all the time that exclude uncommon possibilities. (Heck, more than once I’ve encountered a “State” drop-down for US addresses that didn’t include DC, and that’s not even that uncommon for a US address.)

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      “But no one actually lives in DC! It’s all government buildings and stuff!” <= genuinely a thing I have read.

      1. Red 5*

        I have a friend who was stopped by TSA and nearly missed a flight because they said she gave them a fake id because DC isn’t a real place that issues driver’s licenses since nobody lives there.

    2. kiki*

      Yes! I was also thinking this, especially if the company is using a lesser-used ATS or their own.
      Hopefully (and more likely), this would be something that’s highlighted as an “error” when you try to submit the application instead of something that silently breaks on the back-end or marks your email as spam.

  51. Precious Wentletrap*

    #2: It’s not a flight for this company you should be booking. It’s a flight from this company.

  52. I should really pick a name*


    Find out what the donation process is where you live.
    Where I am, you can go through the process of having blood drawn, answer all the questions however you want, but then they leave the room and you choose a sticker that says whether they actually want you to use your blood or not.

    It’s designed for situations just like yours. You can look like you’re donating, but you don’t actually break their rules.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Eh, I agree that if the LW thinks one of the suggested “medical condition/I’m anemic/etc” scripts will work for him to both get out of the blood drive and stay closeted, then that’s the best course of action. But the option to go through the donation process and mark your sample as unusable at the end exists because the donation agencies recognize the need to balance the safety of the people receiving the blood (by screening donors) and the safety of the donors themselves from potentially being outed in an unsafe environment. If that’s the best option for the LW’s safety, that’s the one he should use.

      2. earl grey aficionado*

        I agree it’s a waste, and I hope OP finds another, better solution, but if he’s backed into a corner and the alternative is being outed, then that waste is not on OP. It’s on a homophobic society and workplace. Speaking as a lesbian, LGBTQ people are under a lot of pressure to behave perfectly towards institutions that feel no such obligation towards them. If blood drives don’t want to waste resources this way, then they have the option to change this restriction and avoid putting people in this position.

      3. Observer*

        <i.Waste of resources that could be better spent

        It is. But it exists because sometimes people are put into a ridiculous situation. I hope that the OP can find a line that works for him. But if he has reason to fear that it won’t work, it’s not fair to ding him for “wasting resources.” He needs to do what he needs to do to keep himself safe.

      4. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah a more efficient but similar approach is sign up, answer the questionnaire, go into the room where they review your answers and would do your finger stick, and get rejected there. Still a waste of time, but way less time than actually donating to have it disposed. The nurse can’t tell anyone why you’re rejected. You don’t even have to answer all the questions. You could write in “I’ve been pressured to donate but do not want to” on the form and they’ll reject you without doing anything else. They’re used to it.

  53. BirdSong*

    #1, I’m happy to lend you my answer, “My doctor recommended against it.”

    I have Crohn’s Disease, and my Gastroenterologist told me (after I failed several times to donate because of low iron), “You need all of your hemoglobin.”

    I’m so sorry you have to navigate this, and hope both the donation rule and conditions in your community improve soon so you won’t have to any more.

    1. Kit*

      Yeah, I’m surprised not to see a doctor’s recommendation being cited; “My doctor says I shouldn’t donate blood” is a great resort to a higher authority. It’s true – your doctor would agree that since you’re not eligible, you shouldn’t be donating! (Hopefully your doc also agrees that this rule is bigoted and outdated, but they don’t set the standards either.)

  54. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    LW5, getting in control of your own privacy is awesome and I have no regrets but I did spent a solid 5 minutes explaining “@fastmail.com” to a bank worker last night (Me: Like the movie Fast and the Furious? ) so I’d recommend something as easy to spell as works, and avoid odd TLDs.

  55. Meghan*

    #4: A comedy podcast I follow made a joke email address for their correspondence: Podcastname@puppies.supplies. Everytime they read emails they do have to clarify that it is a real email address! So just be careful not to pick anything too left field.

  56. Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein*

    #1 – I’ve always stuck with a nice vague “Oh, unfortunately I’m not eligible” and then a pivot to a new topic. The pivot is real important — if you change the topic, it increases the friction noticeably for a nosy coworker to try and pull it back around to you donating or not, and quite honestly, most people don’t care enough to try and suss out more. There are loads of reasons to be ineligible and most of them are very boring.

  57. Alex (they/them)*

    As a non-binary person, nothing is more annoying than people taking something specifically meant for men and pretending it’s gender-neutral.

  58. Big Bird*

    Second all the comments about domain names. Some of the less familiar domains will end up in my company’s spam folders. And people definitely DO judge you if you have something like a Yahoo or AOL email address, especially if you are older. My experience is that so many of my friends’ Yahoo addresses have been hacked I don’t even open their emails anymore.

    1. Observer*

      My experience is that so many of my friends’ Yahoo addresses have been hacked I don’t even open their emails anymore.

      THIS is my issue with Yahoo. Nothing to do with age.

  59. arjumand*

    LW1: I have ITP (Immune thrombocytopenic purpura), which is an immune disorder characterised by a decrease in platelets in the blood – in my case, when it first developed they decreased to zero.

    Opinion is divided whether I can donate or not, because only blood tests can reveal whether platelets are low, so usually there’s the idea to err on the side of caution and not donate.

    No one knows why some people get it – some say genetic, others blame an accident, bla bla. At first the ‘I’ stood for ‘idiopathic’ rather than ‘immune’, which is doctorspeak for ‘we don’t know’. It can recur, so you could say you’re playing it safe.

    I mean, you don’t have to give reasons, just say you have a medical issue. But if you want to give a reason, you can give this one.

  60. CatPerson*

    #4 a commenter on this blog told me that they would not interview me if I used an aol.com email address because it would show that I do not understand modern technology! I was gobsmacked to learn that people were so clueless.

    1. Banana*

      I just applied to a (supporting, non-techy) job in the tech sector using my yahoo email address, and I’m dismayed at that! I keep my yahoo email because its my full, common name and a gmail account would have to have numbers or be something else. I strongly prefer being janedoe@yahoo.com instead of jdoe9999@gmail.com.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I have 2 gmail accounts: my personal one, which is (cute thing)@ and my professional one, which is FirstLastJobTitle@. The professional one is a little cumbersome to type out sometimes, yes, but I’ve been using it for years and I’m happy with it.

  61. Pocket Mouse*

    LW #1: I suggested this as a reply to a comment above where someone said their go-to is “I don’t do blood”, and wanted to highlight this idea and say a bit more here.

    I love this! You could even expand it to something like “I’m registered as an organ donor, but I don’t do blood.” And then: “I just don’t do blood. Sorry, not up for getting into the details [at work].”

    I love this because it doesn’t involve lying, and it protects your privacy, prevents speculation about donation avoidance being due to your medical situation or social history, and indicates you’re a body tissue do-gooder just like anyone who’s pressing you to sign up for the drive.

    Having the organ donation marker on your drivers license doesn’t require the same kind of questionnaire (at least where I am) but could nudge people away from suspecting the blood donation avoidance is due to a biological, medical, or social history reason, since they ultimately fall under the same or similar requirements for tissue donation. It leaves the range of possible reasons to include and even be weighted toward squeamishness, fear of needles, a traumatic donation experience, medical advice not to donate, or something along those lines—none of which is anyone’s business to know if you don’t wish to share, and it makes perfect sense that you wouldn’t want to talk about it if either the actual experience was (or the retelling would be) an anxiety-producing experience. And it doesn’t involve lying as long as you are, in fact, registered as an organ donor. The part about not lying would be important to me, both for my own integrity and so I wouldn’t have to remember the details of what I told to whom or get asked further questions leading to further lies.

    1. Dino*

      I love this. I think it works perfectly and doesn’t involve lying or cause suspicion.

    2. Reba*

      I must say I like “I don’t do blood” because it’s funny. My dad faints at the sight of blood: “oh, they asked me not to come back!” said with a laugh. I usually go with “unfortunately I’m not a good candidate for donation” — that’s it, it’s medical and travel and who needs the whole back story?

      I think talking about organ donation is not necessary, but you could add some other ways that you “do good” in your community if you like, as a way of changing the subject slightly. “Oh, I don’t do blood drives! I volunteer with ___ though, have you heard of them?” etc. Asking a question to move the conversation along helps.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        The benefit of mentioning organ donation is twofold. One, it throws people off the scent of medical/sexual history reasons. In tiny communities people are in each other’s business enough as it is, and since the LW specifically does not want to come out, I’d guess he also doesn’t want speculation or rumors about his reasons for not donating. Two, if someone is insistent about signing people up, they may try to problem solve or convince the LW that giving materials from his body to save someone’s life is indeed something he wants to do. Saying you do good in other ways may encourage an insistent person to press the LW to donate in this way as well. Saying you’re registered as an organ donor lets such a person know that he doesn’t need to be convinced, he’s on board in general, it’s just blood that isn’t on the table.

  62. EngGirl*

    OP #3

    I feel your pain on this as I was given a very male centric dress code at my first job and so spent about 6 months wearing almost exclusively khakis and polos. My company ended up coming down on some dress code violations right around the time when I started dressing a little more femininly and I had to go to my supervisor to clarify if I was one of the violators. He assured me I wasn’t, but I asked about female dress code and he didn’t know how to answer because he hadn’t ever had to think about it. It became a running joke that I could basically wear whatever I wanted because the female dress code was so incredibly vague.

    1. bamcheeks*

      We had a dress code in sixth form (last two years of school aged 16-18) which was supposed to be “business dress”, which the handbook defined as “suits with ties for boys, and smart secretarial wear for girls”. We mocked it mercilessly because it was frankly egregious, but didn’t protest too hard because it basically meant we could wear anything except stonewashed jeans — you could get away with overdyed coloured jeans, secondhand flared cords, dark indigo jeans, micro-minis, Adidas-style trainers, crop tops, jelly shoes, fleeces– and the boys thought it was wildly unfair!

      1. EngGirl*

        Oof. That’s pretty terrible! But yeah, I’ve chosen to embrace the lack of restriction/definition. The guys complain all summer because they’re in collared shirts and pants and I get away with sundresses.

      2. Observer*

        “suits with ties for boys, and smart secretarial wear for girls”.

        OMG! I’m on the floor! When was this? Like “all the guys are going into business and are going to be bosses, but the girls are all going to be secretaries.”

      3. quill*

        That’s hilariously opposite of what all school dress codes I’ve ever seen have been, which has been “Boys, wear what you want except I don’t want to see your boxers or armpits. Girls: your collarbones are scandalous. I will write you up if your bra strap wanders out from under your sleeve. No athletic wear. Boys can wear t-shirts painted with ladies in bikinis with ancient innuendos but we’ll change the rules whenever there is a fashion change for girls that we don’t particularly like, so we’ve banned cold shoulder tops and pants with knee holes.”

        1. EngGirl*

          I frequently remind my male coworkers about this when they complain that my dress code gives me more freedom lol. “Sorry guys, I suffered through I’ll fitting way too hot clothing during puberty, you can deal now”

    2. Oltimer*

      Back in the 80s I worked in a data center in the middle of our building, not visible to anyone. I was required by the dress code to wear a collared shirt and tie. Fortunately I was allowed to take my sport coat off while working.

      However, the women working the customer service desk were allowed to wear t-shirts provided they didn’t have graphics. And cute shorts, as long as they didn’t were sneakers. Jeans were the only prohibition for them. (yes, this was back in the day when they wouldn’t even consider interviewing a male for a customer service or other clerical job.)

  63. Gigi*

    I attended National Defense University (DOD Senior Leader school) a couple of years ago and the dress code was “suit or female equivalent,” or, my favorite, “polo shirt with khakis or female equivalent.” My dude, there is no female equivalent for freaking khakis, especially if you are plus sized. There is just women wearing clothes originally designed for men.
    This was not the hill I was going to die on, but it was the hill that I was going to mock mercilessly, in hopes one of these dinosaurs would remember being made fun of when they revised the student handbook. One of my colleagues asked me why the women made such a big deal out of it. I pointed out that this dress code assumed men were the norm and women were outliers at the school. And given that women only made up 20% of the student body, maybe they could work on it. At least I got through to one guy…

    1. Susie Q*

      I mean women have kakhi pants. I own some. They are cut differently than a lot of men’s but my husband has skinnier kakhi pants than I do.

      1. Lizzo*

        They may exist, but are they flattering/do they fit properly? Nothing deflates your confidence at work like an ill-fitting uniform.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          But that’s going to be true for any kind of pants or slacks, surely?

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      There are plenty of khakis/chinos for women? They were part of my high school uniform 20 years ago, and they weren’t exactly new then.

      1. quill*

        Depending on your shape they can be pretty hard to find though. Which is more of a problem for adult women than teenage and younger girls.

        I’m not particularly curvy and I can’t find khakis that fit most years, depending on what cut is in style. (And now low waisted stuff is coming back, to which I want to say to fashion designers: my butt was visible far too often the first time this trend came around, could you consider having more than one cut available at any given time?)

    3. Very Social*

      “Or female equivalent”? I’m pretty sure my work clothes don’t have a gender identity.

  64. Vampires Aren't Biased*

    I was ineligible to give blood for a long time for a similar reason. I volunteered sometimes with an organization that signed people up for blood drives at events, as a way of helping out even though I couldn’t give myself. One of the things we’d do was circulate in areas with a lot of people asking if anyone wanted to sign up for the drives, taking names and appointment times on a clipboard. I would always add to my question, “keep in mind that ‘no’ is a complete, and completely acceptable, response!” And yet people often seemed to feel obliged to offer detailed reasons why they wouldn’t give! Really, I think most people DON’T want to know the details of other folks’ medical issues. I sure didn’t. I just wanted to move on to the next area and see if anyone wanted to sign up. That, and sit down because my feet were probably hurting.

  65. Dr. Rebecca*

    Off topic comment, I just want to cheer the return of Valentina Warbleworth to the “names Alison uses in letters,” she hasn’t been around lately and I’ve missed her. Glad she found herself a nice ninja gig.

  66. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

    LW1, you can tell them you’re anemic and can’t donate! I’m anemic and get turned down about 50% of the times I try to donate, even if I up my iron intake and cut the caffeine. You don’t owe anyone any particular answer, truthful or otherwise, so I say you’re 100% allowed to give whatever response feels the most innocuous. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Hopefully policy will catch up with science soon.

  67. Leilah*

    LW3: I was a host at a chain in college, and we had a “collared shirts only” dress code that was definitely meant to apply to everyone. It was absolutely miserable – they really wanted us to wear button-ups, but I was a 32G and if they didn’t gape at the buttons I was literally swimming in them. I was a poor college kid and getting tailored shirts was off the table, so I ended up trying to find polos which my boss didn’t like but lived with because technically they did have a collar. So my point is – I have seen these types of dress codes in which people did indeed mean to apply them to everyone. You should still lobby to change it! It’s a terrible policy for many reasons.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I was thinking the same thing, they could’ve actually meant collared shirts for everyone. It sounds like LW had enough context to be pretty sure blouses were ok, but in their shoes I would’ve led with something like “hey boss, this says collared shirts only – do you think blouses are still ok?” (and as needed, what about skirts etc) and then when boss presumably said yes it would be more natural to offer to touch base with the event coordinator.

    2. Dr. Rebecca*

      When I’m in the office (rare these past two years, but I’m not giving up hope just yet…) I wear off-the-rack fitted button downs, with (classier looking) tank tops underneath. The (spaghetti strap) tank either has a built-in elastic bra/shelf thing, or I wear a bra under the (wide strapped) tank. That way the shirt is collared, the bottom part closes, and the top is open around the tank top covering my 34Gs. Super comfy and stylish. Not meant to be “advice ™” but yours if you want it.

      1. quill*

        I do something similar, though in my case most button downs have to be a little too big (if bought out of the women’s section) to fit my shoulders and arms. Belting them used to help, but that’s not really the trend anymore.

        I’ll add as a note, if you are wearing a camisole type tank top and there’s lace around the top or armpits, wear it around the house for a day first because surprise itchy lace sucks.

  68. Despachito*

    First, I would like to stress that it is awfully wrong that you are forced to think of any excuses, as things as blood donations should be a PRIVATE matter of everyone, and the whole idea of doing this publicly at work and having people speculate why you didn’t participate is terrible.

    But as the situation is as it is and you need an excuse, I’d first look in your past whether there is something REAL you could use (as the trip to the UK, or a tattoo), merely for practical reasons as lies are more difficult to remember than real facts. If not, I’d probably go with something not verifiable but fairly specific, as “when I last donated, I fainted and they told me they do not want me anymore”.

    However, if you are surrounded by jerks and afraid to be outed, have you thought of asking a female friend a service to stop by your office now and then and make herself a bit visible, or to be your plus one in an office party? You do not need to lie that she is your GIRLfriend, but if you are seen with a woman it might help as a cover?

    I stress again that I think you SHOULDN’T have to do this, but it goes the same about the blood donation – in an ideal world, nobody would bat an eyelid and would mind their own business, but I understand that your environment is less than ideal, and if you outed yourself it could harm you.

  69. Lady Blerd*

    OP1 here’s my contribution to blood donation excuses. Do you have a fresh or new looking tattoo? Where I live you can’t donate if you had it done less then six months prior. This may or may not be applicable where you are but if it’s helpful, have at it.

  70. Dress codes*

    I work in a male dominated field, and my company’s dress code is actually pretty good. It’s something like:

    Ok to wear: dress pants, collared shirts, blouses, knee length or longer skirts, etc etc

    Not ok to wear: crop tops, tshirts, jeans, shorts, ripped or stained clothing, etc etc

    Note that nothing is specified by gender; it just gives a general outline of what the company’s expectations for business casual are. I do like spelling some examples out – it’s especially helpful for new hires.

    Good luck!

    1. LilPinkSock*

      That’s what my company does. There are some more explicit guidelines for the people who work in our fabrication area, and those are all related to safety–close-toed shoes, long hair pulled back, no jewelry. It’s pretty easy to specify what’s acceptable and what’s not without bringing gender into it at all!

  71. Beatrix*

    #1 If you want to have fun with it, tell them that you traveled to a country with mad cow in the pre-2000s. The red cross prohibits donation from anyone who traveled to most of Europe during that era for that reason.

  72. ChemAnon*

    LW 5 brought up a good question. If you go on parental leave at a company and don’t return, do you include the leave on your resume as working at the company?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      In my opinion if you’re getting paid by the company, or taking unpaid approved leave, you can include it. But it would be good to know what the HR department would say if they were called, so you are consistent.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I can speak to this, though YMMV by location.

      I worked for $LovelyEmployer until March 2012 when I went on maternity leave. At the end of maternity leave I realised I couldn’t afford to go back to work, so resigned. With notice period and accrued PTO, etc I was officially employed for another couple of months. So I am in $LovelyEmployer’s records as having left in April 2013.

      (dates changed for anonymity, in case any stalker notices they don’t match up with post history)

  73. Badass Lady*

    LW2 – it sounds like what you’re truly upset about are the work conditions in your job, as opposed to this specific travel issue. You are underpaid and overworked. You should meet your boss and renegotiate your compensation, especially since you now do sales, which was not part of your original job description.

  74. Raven*

    Just say you almost passed out trying to donate in the past, so you haven’t tried again. That’s my actual reason, anyway.

  75. Feddy Fed*

    I’m a fed in an international affairs agency. No business class for us. You fly across the world in coach and go to work the next day. It’s terrible. (On my list of reasons why I scoff if anyone dares attempt the “I pay your salary!” move–my dude, I don’t even get free coffee at the office or business class on a 22 hour trip, I assure you your nickel is not being misappropriated for my benefit.)

    The only upside is there’s no business class for anyone–you can upgrade on your own or with your points, if you’d like, so someone may do that. So the righteous feeling of “This bites!” is not compounded by “And why does it apply only to me?” I can’t imagine giving myself a perk like that that I would not give my staff, especially not if we were traveling together.

  76. Doctors Whom*

    LW1 first of all I think that rule is shite and I am sorry it still exists.

    I lived for 8 years in Germany in the late 70s and early/mid 80s and was excluded from giving blood starting in about 2001? 2002? Finally in 2000 they changed the rule and I am able to donate. My husband and I both give blood every 8 weeks. Our friends know this and we frequently escort first time donors.

    I am diligent about eating well, being hydrated, monitoring my activity level the day of a donation… and I still will get *really* tired a few hours out. I don’t pass out on donation, but my “off” switch hits. People hit me up for our drives at work – but I work 20-something miles from my house and if I got sleepy on the way home it would be very bad! I tell people all the time that I donate closer to home because it makes me tired and would affect safety/productivity at work.

    I spent nearly 20 years saying “I’m not able to give blood” and people would ask and ask. When I tell people “I donate close to home because donating makes me really tired” I don’t get any pushback. So I’m saying feel free to use my truth as your white lie if you want to shut down “but WHYYYYY” questions.

    Alternately, I’d say “iron levels” and leave it at that. If your iron is too high or too low you can’t donate and they test it the day of, so muttering “iron” gives you a medical excuse to use that can be completely temporary and never noticed if the stupid rules change and you are allowed to give blood (and want to) in the future.

    I’m really sorry you even need to think about this.

  77. Marco Diaz's Red Hoodie*

    LW #1 — I definitely agree with what people have already said in the comments, 1) give a vague explanation like “medical reasons” and 2) volunteer for the blood drive some other way if you feel passionately about it. I’m sorry you have to hide your identity and hope you don’t have to do that forever!

    LW #3 — To take Alison’s advice even a step further, I think your company should focus on things they absolutely don’t want in the dress code (like shorts) and then let everyone be adults and dress themselves for the rest of the dress code. If it’s the kind of place where they think they have to list a bunch of ‘do’s and ‘dont’s to rule out any potential infractions, then they’re not managing their employees / business correctly.

  78. monogodo*

    LW #1:

    The first (and only) time I tried to donate blood 33 years ago, I passed out when they pricked my finger to do a blood type test prior to the actual donation. All I remember is they pricked my finger, then I was lying on my back on the floor, and a doctor was saying, “yeah, he doesn’t need to donate today.” I wasn’t told to never donate again, but I choose not to, because I’d rather not risk it. When there are blood drives at work, I simply state I passed out the last time I attempted to donate, which is true.

    When I have blood drawn at the doctor’s office, I usually don’t have a problem. I did pass out once, and felt light headed once. I’ve since learned to let the phlebotomist know I have a history of passing out, and they talk to me the entire time. I also look in the opposite direction from where they’re doing the draw. It’s been 20+ years since I’ve had an issue. But all that is beside the point. Blood draws for blood work is very different from blood donation.

  79. Gnome*

    #1 – why are people so nosy and pushy about this? I remember people being like that when I was in high school. I wasn’t even old enough.and I had a random stranger following me down the hall going “why aren’t you donating?!” Um? I was going to class?

    I have zero patience for this. And I am a donor. I might eye the person’s midsection and go, actually I am really into medical donating… Do you know what the waitlist is like fir kidneys? You only need one…

    But then again, I really don’t like this and would probably spend way more goodwill than I should on it.

  80. Three Goblins in a Trench Coat*

    OP1 – I symphonize. People can be pushy about blood donation. I wish, wish, wish I could donate. My whole family does except me, but can’t because of restrictions on where I grew up. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to go to the Red Cross site and prove to people that I’m really not allowed to donate. It’s in the rules in black and white. It’s worse when you aren’t in a position where you can comfortably tell them. I think citing vague medical restrictions would work, but if someone is pushy about it remember it’s a them problem not a you problem. Best of luck!

  81. HannahS*

    OP1, I’ll join the chorus that recommends a white lie. You know your coworkers best; if you think they’d received a vague, “I’d love to, but I can’t! Doctor’s orders,” or if that would promote speculation and something like, “I’d love to, but I can’t! I’m a bit anemic and my doctor says I can’t lose blood. Nothing to worry about, though, just a my-body-thing, you know how it is…” and immediately change the subject.

    Also, I’m sorry this is the situation you’re in.

  82. DataSci*

    Lots of people are giving LW1 suggestions for plausible lies, but if he’s worried about really nosy co-workers, there’s a last resort which is to just go to the drive, lie on the forms, and then use the coded “do not use this blood” sticker at the end – you’ll go through the whole process, they’ll just throw it out at the end. Waste of time, but if you’re worried that skipping the drive may have career-ending implications, it’s worth considering. Turns out they actually did consider the situation of “people being pressured to donate” scenario.

  83. Rachel from Hendu*

    OP #1, since you are genuinely concerned about being outed, then you should disregard people’s well-meaning advice about saying you lived in a place with a Mad Cow outbreak, because at some point in the future, either people will ask you why you never brought up it before and you’ll have to do more lying, or you will forget about having said that and say “I’ve never lived outside of the US,” because that is memorable enough that people will wonder why you lied.

    Either stick to something like “I’m afraid of needles” or, if you think people will try to make you work past that, look up the list of medical conditions that will give you a permanent deferral but doesn’t have symptoms in daily life, and when people push past “medical condition” (which they will do) explain it specifically enough and make it boring enough that people won’t ask more.

    Does this go against AAM’s goals of normalizing not being nosy and keeping medical information private in the workplace? Yes it does. But your life/quality of life/safety are more important than an abstract ideal (which you can model elsewhere in your workplace by not being nosy and respecting people’s privacy). Being able to care about changing norms in the workplace is higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy than where you are right now. Good luck, and I’m sorry for these stupid rules.

  84. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    One of my friends is an openly gay pastor, and has decided never to donate blood at church drives, because he’s abstinent NOW, but if he were to suddenly not be able to…his congregation, which is small and in a remote area, would figure out he was getting some. Awkward!

  85. Just Me*

    LW 1 – This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I can’t give blood for 10 million different reasons (I faint when blood is drawn, my circulation is weird, I spent a significant amount of time in a country where malaria is present) and that’s true of so many different people. Blood is in demand in part because not everyone can give blood, and not everyone is able to explain publicly why they can’t give blood. (Mine wouldn’t jeopardize my job, per se, but it would be long-winded.) I sympathize totally OP and agree that you shouldn’t feel pressured to disclose anything you don’t want to, and saying “I can’t give blood for medical reasons” should be totally sufficient. (Also, I’m sorry that you don’t feel you can come out at work. We shouldn’t live in a world where that’s still the case but I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself.)

  86. Timothy (TRiG)*

    I must admit that it’s one of my occasional regrets that I never donated blood in the window between leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses and having gay sex. Ah well.

  87. UsedToBeAProfessionalVampire*

    LW1: There are tons of reasons why people are not allowed to donate in the US. Some are temporary, others are permanent, and others are currently permanent but are being reviewed. As a former blood bank employee who stabbed people for a living, please please please do not sign up to donate, do not succumb to any pressure to sign up.
    Various good excuses:
    I am not currently eligible to donate, I’ll bring snacks for those that can.
    It’s not a good time for me to donate, I’ll contact the blood bank when I am able to.
    My medical team says it’s not a great time for me to donate.
    I don’t have a great reaction to blood, it’s safer if I do not donate.
    Past travel prevents me from donating.
    (review current guidelines and see if you are taking any medication that can exclude you, or if you have any conditions that can exclude you that you do not mind sharing (uncontrolled high blood pressure, other cardiac issues, past cancers, new tattoos, new piercings, relapse of malaria, etc)
    Honestly, the list is long, so if thinking you are gay is the first excuse people look to, they are very weird. There are TONS of reasons someone cannot donate.

    I worked one blood drive where a person was pressured to donate even though they have a strong reaction to blood. They fainted during the iron check. My team thought I was kidding when I called for help (using our code phrase) since I was over with all the paperwork. It took us more than an hour to get their blood pressure back up. The person (they kept getting dizzy because the only beds were over by the blood and they kept freaking themselves out) and get them well enough to leave. During that time, our drive was down staff since two people had to routinely break what they were doing to monitor that person’s vitals. They are now on the “do not donate list” so they won’t faint in the room again and were given a list of safe blood drive supportive activities (sign people up, bring snacks, serve snacks, etc).

  88. Alexis Rosay*

    I personally don’t like giving blood. I don’t like the way it makes me feel, especially the way it makes me feel lightheaded and it’s difficult to exercise for days afterwards. In high school, I donated blood in the middle of a sports season and it set me back weeks in terms of training.

    Thankfully no one has pressured me to give blood, but I think it should be enough to say you simply don’t like doing so.

    1. Observer*

      It SHOULD be enough. But the OP’s HR is being pushy about it. That’s ridiculous and makes me wonder about their competence, but it’s the situation the OP is stuck in, at least for now.

  89. Lizzo*

    LW4: it’s worth considering whether a non-traditional suffix attached to your email address might cause it to be caught in spam/junk folders more frequently than if you had a @gmail or @yahoo address. I’m not super familiar with the inner workings of spam filters, but it would be awful if messages related to job opportunities weren’t reaching their destinations.

    1. CatMouse*

      I don’t think the @gmail part will trigger spam filters as much, usually it’s based on IP address, SPF and DMARC records and keywords in the email itself. It’s possible that an individual may have blocked everything from, say, protonmail because they’ve had so much spam, but it’s highly unlikely to be widespread.

      If you haven’t given up a gmail, ypu can always send an email from the new email to the gmail. Gmail has some of the strictest blacklisting that I’ve enountered.

  90. Deborah Rowan*

    How old are you, OP #1? Here’s a good excuse: MAD COW.

    You are not eligible to donate if:

    From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in any country in the United Kingdom (UK),

    Channel Islands
    Falkland Islands
    Isle of Man
    Northern Ireland

    From January 1, 1980, to present, you had a blood transfusion in any of the countries listed below:

    Channel Islands
    Falkland Islands
    Isle of Man
    Northern Ireland

    You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more from January 1, 1980, through December 31, 2001, in France or Ireland.

  91. Beebee*

    LW #1 – I cannot donate blood because I will pass out if I do. Feel free to use my excuse! If you have never felt like you are going to pass out, it feels like a head rush where everyone starts to sound far away, you lose your vision, and start to feel very warm and nauseous.

  92. Global Cat Herder*

    LW1: Did y’all know that only 37 percent of people are eligible to give blood? ONLY 37 PERCENT. Actually being able to donate blood is the exception!

    And that’s probably not counting people like me who are eligible and donated regularly until getting a letter from the Red Cross that says “your blood isn’t usable, so please stop donating”. (My histimines are too high – so not only am I allergic to everything, but apparently my blood could cause the patient to get hives!)

  93. CatMouse*

    For OP #4: be aware that some systems don’t recognize some of the more unique . endings (TLDs). Apparently it is not an easy fix to have thise be accepted as this issue came up trying to update a customer’s email that had something like .ninja and would not be accepted into the system.

  94. Cringing 24/7*

    OP#1 – as someone who used to have to lie constantly about why I couldn’t donate blood over a decade ago to mitigate the possibility of getting kicked out of my conservative, Christian university, I just said that I’d traveled to a banned country when I was a child that made me ineligible (it is wise, though, to ensure that you’ve chosen a country that is logical for you to have been to during a time when it was banned/one that you won’t forget). Medical issue, though, as Alison and many others are saying, makes a lot of sense, too and I wish I’d thought of it when I was younger. I also used to just sometimes say that I’d given too recently and had to wait (if it was someone I hadn’t mentioned the traveling lie to).

    All my best to you – I’m sorry that you’re in a place that is unsafe for you.

  95. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Before I was exposed to malaria (yay travel!) I donated blood exactly once. I gave blood, stood up, immediately passed out. That was the first and last time I’d give blood. When I’ve been asked about it subsequently I’ve always recounted my passing out story. So yeah, there are plenty of reasons people don’t/can’t donate blood.

  96. Annony*

    Me too! I donated blood twice and fainted both times. The second time I also fainted on the way home. I do not donate blood anymore.

  97. pierrot*

    I can’t donate blood because I am a former intravenous drug user and was exposed to Hepatitis C. I actually contracted Hep C but my immune system fought it off on its own. I still have the antibodies for it though, so on antibody tests I will always come up as positive. This is all to say that my reasons for being ineligible are also something I would not feel comfortable disclosing at work. I haven’t been in a scenario where there was a blood drive at work or I was facing pressure to donate blood, but if that were to happen I would probably follow Allison’s advice and just say “Oh I can’t donate blood for health reasons but that’s great that you are participating!” If the person pressed me about the specific health reason, I don’t think I’d pick a random one from the list because those types of white lies can unfortunately back fire if you tell someone who is a busy body in general or whose best friend/sibling/child etc has that specific condition and starts grilling you on it. Allison’s suggestion to say “I prefer not to talk about it but it’s nothing to worry about” is s good deflection.

    Franky, as other commenters have pointed out, there are a lot of exclusions for donating blood so I’m guess that if all of your coworkers signed up, at least a couple of others would end up getting turned away,

  98. LMM*

    Agree that just saying you have a medical condition that means you cannot donate is a good stock reply.

    I have a vagal response that makes me faint when I donate. Usually right after, I’ll stand up and then hit the floor. I turn green. For a long time I kept fighting through it (I have donated successfully on a couple of occasions but less successfully on many more) and I would never do them when I worked in an office because I did not want to faint in front of colleagues or, worse, on my commute home.

    Earlier this year, I fainted on a run (same vagal response, different trigger) , hit my head, had an ambulance called, went to the ER. I was fine but had a cardiologist come in and talk about it with me to identify what triggered the response. I mentioned blood donation and she said, just don’t. Don’t do it anymore. It isn’t worth it to your body or your mind. It felt like getting permission to skip this thing I’d been pushed into on many occasions (I have a relatively rare and occasionally in demand blood type).

    So, I’m passing that permission on to you, OP. Yes, blood donation is a good cause but there are many good causes. Donate to an LGBTQ+ cause – hell, I’ll donate to one too on your behalf! – and tell your coworkers sorry, medical condition. You can borrow mine if you want! It’s a good one. The cardiologist said so.

  99. Jessica Fletcher*

    1, I would tell a specific lie. Otherwise, there’s a risk people will speculate and may figure out your secret.

    Personally I’d go with the vomit! I don’t donate because I get sick, and people are really sympathetic to that.

  100. Churlish Gambino*

    This is one of the few times I hope the LW skips the comments. Why are there so many re: LW1 with varying degrees of outlandish excuses for them to make that will only serve to do the opposite of what the LW wants to do, which is for people to drop it? Saying things like “I caught malaria while in Africa with my bisexual boyfriend while we got tattoos together” or whatever is just going to alienate the OP for no reason at all when Alison’s script is perfectly succinct and all that’s needed.

    There are myriad reasons why people can’t give blood. No reason to overthink it or get cute with a weird response. And LW1, may you be pleasantly surprised by how little other people actually care about what you do or don’t do at work and in life, not just about this particular situation.

    1. Observer*

      Why are there so many re: LW1 with varying degrees of outlandish excuses for them to make that will only serve to do the opposite of what the LW wants to do, which is for people to drop it?

      I don’t think that that’s what most people are saying. Most people providing excuses are NOT making the kind of outlandish comment you refer to – that was ONE poster who got called out for it. What most other people are doing is trying to come up with something that will not be arguable. I happen to agree that something like Alison’s approach is probably better, but I can see why some people believe that making up an excuse would work better.

      And LW1, may you be pleasantly surprised by how little other people actually care about what you do or don’t do at work and in life

      Except that the OP says that HR apparently DOES care. To be specific, he says that “HR has really been pushing for people to sign up” That’s ridiculous, but it means that the OP does have a reason to worry and create a script in his head.

  101. Kahtita*

    LW#5 – I actually had a question similar to this letter-writer. I’m on extended parental leave in Canada, which means up to 18 months. I’m still employed by the same employer and have been in the job for quite few years but a year and a half of leave is quite a bit of time too. Any thoughts from other readers on how to represent this on a resume, if at all?

  102. Absurda*

    LW #2 I don’t think it’s at all unusual for the boss to fly first class while lower level employees (even sales people) fly coach. My company has written guidelines on who can fly which class; it’s based on career level, so IC’s and managers above a certain level can fly first, everyone else flies coach. I’ve traveled with higher level folks where they are in first and I and some colleagues are in coach. I usually book coach travel through the company so they pay the ticket then buy an upgrade to extra legroom on my own.

    I’d be more miffed about being asked to take a sales position and book everyone’s travel since I hate those things. If other people in the company get commissions, why aren’t they doing all this sales work? If you’re the one doing the sales, you should be earning commissions. I think you need to have a conversation with your boss over what you want your job to be (do you want to do sales?) and what your tasks should be. If you can’t come to an agreement on that, then it’s time to think about leaving.

  103. Evvie*

    “I’ve seen enough of my own blood to last a lifetime,” with an intense stare into their eyes oughta do it. ;)

    If you think “medical condition” is too vague or will invite more questions, you can modify my story from my last blood donation. It involved vomit and losing consciousness because my blood likes to not be taken out of my body. No one will ask follow-ups.

  104. DuskPunkZebra*

    LW1, it can absolutely be as simple as “I don’t qualify, they won’t take mine” and leave it at that. Granted, I’m cis female, so the gay male restriction never applied to me, but I’ve had oodles of reasons over the years: weighed too little, TERRIFIED of IV needles, anemia, tattoos, sick too recently (story of my life, my immune system sucks), low BP, meds disqualified me, etc.

    Heh, the tripanophobia (needle fear) is an easy one and can be delivered with a laugh, “Oh, they don’t wanna deal with me. I’m so bad with IVs and I’ll freak out everyone on the bus! They’d rather I didn’t.” It has the benefit of being true. My ex used to donate every he was eligible, and he saw the nurses defer phobic people regularly. If you were in an office with private rooms, they’d probably work with you if you wanted to push that boundary for yourself, but not on the Bloodmobile.

    But I absolutely agree with Alison’s take here. She needs to quit pushing, especially if she’s pestering for reasons why not, because she’s acting like she has a right to private health information. Not only is that not her business, but by making people share, she’s opening them up to discrimination and judgement. Plus, chronically ill and disabled people get so many people who think they have all manner of right to our private existence already. We don’t want another one.

    I’m massively better with small blood draws and shots and tattoos, but those bigger IV needles? I’m a panicky mess who has a history of fighting ER nurses even when I know I need it. It’s just not rational. (And it’s not just women – my hubby was an MP with a guy who was so phobic that a nurse who tried to sneak up on him with a needle got herself flipped toes over teakettle when his panic response kicked in! They warned her not to do that…)

    1. DuskPunkZebra*

      And I’m a dummy because I went and read a related post and my brain got them scrambled.

      Meat of my response remains relevant, though. Brush them off with an “I’m disqualified” and leave it at that, and point out to HR that their pressure is a bit tone-deaf to medical privacy issues.

  105. Brain the Brian*

    My company has a policy about who’s allowed to fly in which airlines classes: everyone must fly coach except for senior management, and even then only with the explicit, prior permission of the CEO. Gotta love nonprofits…!

  106. SometimesCharlotte*

    I worked for a retailer that’s dress code for management specified a collared shirt that buttoned down the front. And they meant it. Button down shirts can be problematic for so many women – they gap when you move, so you buy a size larger and now the sleeve openings hang halfway down the side and they balloon around your middle. So while the men (with a few exceptions) looked average to sharp, the women (with a few exceptions) looked average to frumpy.

  107. cal*

    Blood donation: I excitedly tried to donate when I was 19. They did one test beforehand
    (England) and that was anemia. Their basic test failed and they told me to go to the Dr. Just say you are anemic. If they ask any further questions simply say ‘I don’t discuss private health information at work’. IF they press further put them in their place: ‘Are you struggling to follow what I am saying? I said I don’t discuss this at work. Do I ask about your sex life? Note, don’t do that to a boss, HR, or in front of anyone else!

  108. Pigeon*

    LW3–since you say you are in a “construction-like” industry, I’m wondering if you don’t also need to look at your safety literature? I worked in a production plant for many years, and nearly all of our safety requirements were written from an exclusively male perspective (and a particular kind of male at that). So for example there were no restrictions or advisories on long hair, while working with equipment that can scalp you if your hair is caught in it. It was rare to find shoe covers in female sizes. People would get on my case for having my safety glasses on my head (which I admit, my bad) while completely ignoring the long sweater which would pose a much greater hazard if I’d been doing more than walking through the very broad walkways in the plant.

    Just some food for thought if you’re planning to dive into gender neutrality at your work place!

    1. Dress codes*


      At my first internship, when I was a very small woman, it took the site safety specialist a couple weeks to find a safety vest that actually (safely) fit me. I think it was an XXS.

      Nowadays I sometimes have a hard time finding gloves that fit me well, but I’ve been in touch with the safety person.

  109. teaandcake*

    LW1 – agree to do it but say that you are not feeling well on the day of the drive. “I’m okay, but feeling a bit tired and run down. Don’t think it would be a good idea to go there and get a few pints of blood taken out of me!”

    Maybe have a few drinks the night before (!)

    Sorry you have to go through this. It’s a good lesson for everyone to be sensitive when organising blood donations through work.

  110. Crazy Plant Lady*

    OP #1 – I know commenters above have given you lots of reasons you can give for not donating, but here are a few more. My mom was literally sent a letter from the Red Cross asking her not to come donate anymore because there’s something in her blood that comes up in the screening each time that they can’t clean out (she doesn’t remember what). I’m on blood thinners because of a blood clot so donating is not allowed until I’m off them for a certain amount of time, and in the past travel to certain countries had excluded me. My cousin passes out at the sight of blood or needles – he has to get vaccines lying down and literally passed out in the delivery room when his son was born.

    Pick your favorite reason. If I were you I would start out saying something vague but have a (very short) story ready in case someone pushed. And then immediately change the subject after you give your excuse. There is no need to out yourself over this. I’d recommend picking a reason that will apply the next time there’s a blood drive so that if it comes up again people might remember that you couldn’t donate in the past.

  111. Amorette Allison*

    If it makes LW#2 feel better, statistically, you are more likely to survive a plane crash in the tail of the plane. First class is more likely to die.

  112. Prairie teacher*

    LW #3, I have planned grad for my high school for the past 6 years. The past 3 (including 1 pre-plague), and at the students’ suggestion, we simply removed gendered references from the suggested dress code.

    For example, those robes are hot! Especially under the spotlights. For 3 hours. So now we say “wear something dressy but comfortable and cool, such as dress pants and a short-sleeved collared shirt, or a knee-length dress”. Or for the evening formal event, it’s “formal clothing: grad dress or suit and tie”

  113. Idea*

    LW 1 – you could be anemic or be on antibiotics. Or you could just have a phobia of needles.

  114. RagingADHD*

    LW1, please listen to the sensible folks who are telling you to say nothing, cite vague medical reasons with zero detail, or sign up and then tell the worker in the private screening that you’re not eligible.

    Please for the love of pete do not listen to all the people offering you increasingly bizarre lies you could tell — and especially ones who don’t seem to have read the part where you’re a man and low iron count, anemia, or fainting would not be considered common or benign.

    If you want to avoid scrutiny and gossip, be boring.

  115. Dancing Otter*

    #1, I would just say that I can’t for medical reasons. They have no legitimate need for more than that.
    If Nosy Nellie asks why not, there’s the Miss Manners classic: “Why do you ask?”, with raised eyebrows. Because of course you’re astonished they would be so rude as to demand private medical information.
    The heavy artillery: “How kind of you to interest yourself in my health,” with or without a “bless your heart,” depending how obnoxious they’re being and how annoyed you are.

    My personal reason has to do with how often I’ve had to sleep all afternoon after they stretched the point on my iron level. After I fell asleep at a stoplight while driving home, I told them not to call me again.

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