manager came to work with Covid, can I have stickers on my wheelchair, and more

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

1. Manager came to work with Covid and infected high-risk people

My partner works in a small regional office (of a larger company) with about 12 other employees. He has worked there through the entire pandemic and has been fairly up-front about the fact that his partner (yours truly) is high-risk for Covid due to medical problems. He has also been struggling with his own health problems which put him at risk and which he has received accommodation for, as has another of his coworkers.

The problem: His manager tested positive on Wednesday a few weeks ago, continued to come in to the office, and did not disclose her positive test until the following Monday. No one knew they had been exposed, which means no one knew to quarantine from each other or from anyone else in their life.

All but three of the staff have since tested positive (including my partner and his at-risk coworker) and so did everyone they came in contact with, including me.

My issue is that she didn’t tell anyone they’d been exposed for over half a week. Maybe that’s a risk that’s alright to take for most of staff, but when you know you have employees who could suffer long-term harm? This probably sounds histrionic given we’re all vaccinated and no one was hospitalized, but this may have seriously complicated my heart condition in the long term and I won’t know until I see my doctors again next month. It’s a similar situation for the others.

Is there anything we can do? With how relaxed Covid policies have gotten in 2022, is there any consequence at all to endangering employees by knowingly exposing them to Covid without warning when it’s only the disabled employees who are going to suffer?

Aggggh, what the hell is wrong with your partner’s manager?!

Does his company have any policies on quarantining when positive that his manager violated? If not, he could still try reporting what happened to his company’s HR, pointing out that the manager acted with reckless disregard, including knowingly jeopardizing people who were medically vulnerable. Ideally he and his coworkers could also use this to advocate for stronger policies (following the CDC guidance on quarantines and masks after a positive test would be a good place to start) so it doesn’t happen again.

Read an update to this letter

2. Should I lie on my resume?

I am extremely tempted to lie on my resume. For the last several years I have worked in an industry which, while not small or niche, is an industry where a lot of people know each other, even when working for competitors. While working in this industry, I have applied for promotions several times. Yet each time, I get rejected generally because Candidate B has X experience or Y qualification.

In a few circumstances I have worked with these other candidates and know for a fact that experience X or qualification Y on many of their resumes isn’t true. Sometimes the experience is highly embellished (claiming a longer time in a management role that actually held). Other times it seems that the other candidate is out right lying (claiming positions, experience, or training they actually haven’t had). I feel that if I were to address this issue, it would be dismissed as nothing more than sour grapes.

So. Should I lie on my resume when everybody else seems to be doing it?

No, don’t do it! Integrity issues aside, it can come back to bite you in really bad ways. While your current company doesn’t seem to do much to verify people’s backgrounds, that could change at some point (like if a new HR person comes in or management changes). A lot of companies reconfirm a person’s background info when they’re up for a promotion, and people have been fired for lies found on their resumes years after they were initially hired. If you care about that, you’d be signing up for a future where you wouldn’t be able to ever feel secure.

I know this won’t level the playing field when your competition is lying, but if you haven’t yet, can you talk with your manager about what a path to promotion would look like, and whether there are opportunities you can be given to strengthen your candidacy the next time one opens up?

Read updates to this letter here and here.

3. Can I have stickers on my wheelchair at work?

I’m a student about to start applying for my first internships. I’m also a wheelchair user, coming up to a year of using my chair. I love my chair because it’s made a huge difference to my life and is what allows me to even consider applying for internships in the first place.

I take a lot of pride in decorating my wheelchair spokeguards with stickers. My friends give me them as presents and I also buy from artists I like at conventions. They’re very brightly colored and it’s a real range of imagery—I’ve got tarot cards, Star Trek, song lyrics, cute creatures, some small pride flags… The overall effect is really cool.

These stickers are really important to me. Like many wheelchair users, I consider my chair something like an extension of my body, and to me the stickers are sort of the equivalent of tattoos. My whole life has changed as a result of my disability which has been really difficult to adapt to not just for me, but also my friends and family. Decorating the chair together helped everyone accept the situation better.

The stickers have a lot of positives. It makes me feel better about needing the wheelchair for one, but it’s also a great icebreaker. People start conversations with me about them all the time. I believe a lot of people’s awkwardness around disabled people comes from not knowing what to do or say, and in my experience I can use their interest in the stickers to broach the topic and lead the way on my own terms.

But I’m concerned that with my stickers, I won’t look professional enough. I don’t want to be discounted in interviews for having them. I am able to remove the spokeguards, but it takes the help of someone else and I need new cable ties each time I reattach them. With my chronic fatigue, that’s a lot of effort for something I don’t want to do anyway! Do you think I’ll need to remove my stickers to have a professional job? And I was hoping the readers could let me know if you’ve seen someone with a noticeably decorated wheelchair in a professional environment before, and did it change your perception of them?

(Also, just as a note — I prefer to be called a “wheelchair user” rather than “in a wheelchair” because I feel this way emphasizes my agency and the use of the wheelchair as a tool to aid me, rather than something I am stuck in or constrained by.)

You should be fine in most fields. The stickers might feel out of sync in a particularly conservative field where a very buttoned-up appearance is expected (think banking) but otherwise I wouldn’t worry much. It’s an interesting question because you presumably wouldn’t show up to an interview wearing, say, a t-shirt with song lyrics or a tarot card on it, but a wheelchair feels different (in part because you can’t be expected to have a separate wheelchair for work).

4. Turning down an internal transfer

I had a question about possibly turning down an internal transfer. I’ve been temporarily helping with a role in addition to my current position, and as I found the new work very engaging, I applied to transfer to that role full-time. I’m still waiting to hear back, but I’m told my initial interviews went well.

However, today I heard that due to some changes from high up in the company, the role I wanted to transfer to is likely going to change substantially from what I thought it would be, and the kind of work I have been temporarily taking over and enjoying.

I know it’s generally expected that if you apply to transfer roles internally, you’ll take it if it’s offered to you. But given that the role is now going to differ from what I expected, would it be rude for me to turn it down if it’s offered to me? Do you have any advice on how I could politely do so?

Speak up now! You can turn down internal transfers, but it’ll definitely be less awkward if you do it now rather than waiting until you’re formally selected. Talk to the person in charge of hiring for the position, explain what you’ve heard, and ask if they can share anything with you about how the role might be changing. If they confirm what you heard, it’s perfectly okay to say, “My interest was really in doing XYZ, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to pursue it if it’s changing to ABC. It sounds like I should withdraw from consideration, but I really appreciate you talking with me about it.”

5. My vacation leave request didn’t save

I have a strange situation afoot. I took a vacation back in April from Friday through a Monday. I submitted my leave request and went on vacation. Now over a month later, I realize my leave request was not saved, so my time card shows I worked those days.

I have over 300 hours of leave, so there is no reason for me to not use my leave. My concern is that it will look shady if I contact HR and have them retoractivly adjust my leave days.

Thoughts on how to proceed? I guess my boss assumed I was working those days? But will she now think I was trying to cheat the system?

It’s very unlikely that you’ll look like you were trying to cheat the system! If you were, why would you go back and correct it now? As long as you don’t have an existing pattern of shady behavior, people aren’t going to assume you’re suddenly trying to cheat them.

You can just be very straightforward: “I submitted April 15-18 as vacation but it doesn’t look like it saved in the system. How do I get it corrected?”

{ 396 comments… read them below }

  1. Decidedly Me*

    OP1 – that is not a risk that is alright to take for most folks. COVID can have negative, long lasting consequences for anyone. The line shouldn’t be, “are there high risk people/extensions of those people that I could infect?”, but “am I putting ANYONE else at risk?”

    What your boss did was wrong and I would definitely chat with HR. If there isn’t a policy on what to do when you test positive already (which would be surprising to me), then this clearly indicates that there needs to be now.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes, it’s weird if there is no instruction on what to do when testing positive – we have a policy that includes someone in your household testing positive and all in all we are pretty relaxed about COVID right now.

      But seriously: why test at all if you are going to ignore the results? Grrr.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, Covid precautions here have all but disappeared. The main exception is that being officially diagnosed means you’re ordered to quarantine, and a positive test result from a home test means you must voluntarily quarantine yourself for 10 days or until you get an official test result (the availability of official tests varies, but my employer requires them, and will pay for them, if you test positive in a home test).

        Knowingly spreading a dangerous infectious disease is a felony, and if someone dies as a consequence, you can be sent to prison for second-degree murder here. That said, AFAIK nobody has actually been sent to prison for spreading Covid, because in practice it’s impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you got Covid from a particular person.

          1. allathian*

            I’m in Finland. The most recent case of someone actually getting convicted under this law was a man who knew he was HIV-positive, and who in spite of that intentionally infected others by having unprotected sex with them without informing them of his HIV status. This was in the early 00s, before antivirals made it possible for people to live more or less normal lives with HIV as long as they have access to medication.

            1. allathian*

              But with HIV, it’s much easier to prove that someone was the source of infection without a reasonable doubt than it is with any airborne or droplet borne disease.

            2. DJ Abbott*

              There was a case like that here in the US too, in a small town in the Northeast. The man was brought up on murder charges. I only read the one article so I don’t know if he was convicted, but he had infected several people so I hope so!

            3. Reluctant Mezzo*

              There was a case of a man in Medford, Oregon in the US convicted of attempted murder (his victim was HIV positive but wasn’t dead) over spreading it maliciously.

        1. John Smith*

          There was a case in Spain of someone being arrested for spreading Covid, though I don’t know if that person was sentenced. Even if it can’t be proven that someone spread Covid, it can be proved that laws were broken (if they are in place).

        2. GythaOgden*

          Even here in the UK where actual restrictions are nonexistent, no sane employer would make someone come in.

          The problem comes, of course, is (a) statutory sick pay is abysmal and some people without good sick pay policies at work might be tempted anyway and (b) when your employer or the affected employee isn’t sane…like the one in the OP.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Yeah, in all probability. I had a cold earlier in the spring and took a day off, but since it wasn’t covid had to go back the following day. My supervisor would have been really good about covid, and our previous line manager stressed a 48-hour post-symptom stay at home during colds, but now he’s gone she’s reluctant to follow that guidance. We do have a job where in-office coverage is important, but despite good sick leave policy and understanding line managers, my supervisor has been the stumbling block.

              I haven’t left the job for many other reasons (this isn’t a hill worth dying on for me, and everyone has been very supportive over major things like my husband dying a few years back). This is, for me, a minor annoyance. I’m looking for other reasons, however, and definitely at larger organisations who would have more accommodatory approaches to this kind of thing.

        3. Help Us All*

          Re: Covid
          Just wear an N or K95 in the office and don’t assume anyone else cares about your health or infecting you, high risk or not. People have gone into a denial of reality now, even though cases are on the rise. It’s not a matter of dying or being hospitalized, even though that is still happening. I am paranoid about acquiring a Covid infection because of a heart condition, diabetes, and age. So, I trust no one.

          Office environments with people sharing air for many hours are perfect for spreading respiratory infections of all types. If no changes to air filtration and ventilation were made, the company is not serious about protecting workers.

          And yes OP, there should be a corporate notification policy, I agree with the poster that said why get tested if you’re not going to do anything with the information? Your coworker sucks.
          Good Luck OP.

          1. CC*

            “just wear an N95” yeah I’ve been doing that, and pretty sure I got infected in the lunchroom, because I still haven’t figured out how to eat without taking off my mask.

            1. Help Us All*

              I appreciate the snark, but of course if you are eating, the mask has to come off to consume food. Of course I meant wear the mask to the maximum extent possible. Duh.

              Most of the eight or nine hours in an office setting is not spent eating. The people in the lunchroom are also in the office infecting the shared air if they are indeed infected, and longer exposure to infected particles increases the chance of infection taking hold. No mask 100%prevents infection, but N or K 95’s are definitely worth using.

              Sorry you caught Covid and hope you are better.

          2. June*

            Agree. If it’s not mandatory per law many people are going to be lax. The only person you can control is yourself. And it’s virtually impossible to lay the blame of contracting Covid on anyone or any business bc it’s become so prevalent. People are also contagious before symptoms.

    2. JM60*

      Knowingly endangering emplouyees like that by showing up to work after a positive test should be considered a fireable offense. I’m sure many places would fire an employee for doing something reckless with a forklift in such a way that was equally likely to result in death or serious injury.

    3. Artemesia*

      I am out of the country right now and both of the locals I always enjoy spending time with were infected with COVID last month by co-workers who came into the office coughing and visibly sick and infected the entire office; two entirely different companies. At least companies should have firm policies about this but it is alas very common.

      1. Anya Last Nerve*

        Many employers are being quite strict about return to the office, in response to the pushback to stay home, so I think that’s causing people to go to the office while sick. Also where I live in the US, allergy season is horrendous this year. Staying home every time you’re coughing, sneezing and generally feeling like crap isn’t feasible. Of course people should regularly test at home, but I doubt anyone is doing that daily.

        1. LIZZIE*

          Exactly. as someone who suffers horribly with allergies, as well as mild asthma from them, year round but especially bad in spring and fall, it really isn’t feasible. That being said, at the beginning of the month, i started feeling “different” from just allergies. I had a really bad, deep, icky cough, so bad i strained all my ab muscles to the point it hurt like crazy to cough or even blow my nose! Had a fever too for a bit. I tested myself at home several times, all negative, and stayed home and worked from home the entire week (as well as taking a sick day which I almost never do)
          Eventually went to the urgent care, again tested negative for flu and COVID, but they said it was probably bronchitis. got some meds, and was back in the office the following week. I still am subject to more vigorous coughing fits than normal and I’m sure some of my coworkers think I have the plague!

          But had I tested positive for COVID at any point, i would have stayed home until such time I didn’t, and avoided anyone and everyone.

        2. PostalMixup*

          Plus, now that people have stopped masking, colds are a thing again. I have a kid in elementary school and a kid in daycare. Over the last two months, we’ve had three colds go through our house. We test everyone that comes down with symptoms, at least twice to be sure. We stay home for the worst of the symptoms, and I mask at work if I or either kid has symptoms. But if I stayed home for every cold, I’d never be at work.

          1. J.B.*

            As soon as schools stopped masking, we had a viral crud go through the house three weeks in a row – each kid missed 2-3 days of school each time. I miss masks very much!

            1. Help Us All*

              My mask will be pried out of my cold, dead hands. People are nasty and germy.

              1. Trawna*

                Yep. I always wanted to mask against air-borne everything. Now I always will. I have asthma, masking up means I no longer expend so. much. energy. staying well.

                1. Third or Nothing!*

                  I have asthma too, and it makes it really hard to wear a mask for an extended period of time (which is why I still avoid spending a lot of time indoors with large groups of people). What kind of mask do you use? I’m using N95 and I can only last an hour before I start to feel dizzy. I’d love to find something that I can wear longer!

                2. DJ Abbott*

                  If it helps, I’m doing well with plain cloth masks. They might be easier to breathe through because they’re thinner?

            2. Jackie*

              Same experience here with kids coming home with a bunch of colds even though it’s not the normal time of year for them. But I think this is just… what happens when you switch between a protected state and an exposed situation. It was the same when kids started going to preschool after being cared for at home. So long as there aren’t vaccines for the common cold, we all just have to keep getting reinfected with the latest variant, and if you haven’t been yet, you will just get them later. Right now, the chances for vaccinated people dying from covid (at least for kids) are I think lower than if infected with influenza. I’m guessing influenza is dangerous for immunocompromised / high risk people too. So the solution would be to have a blanket WFH policy for any cold / influenza / covid, not single covid out. Buuuuut when you are sending kids to school, this would mean the kids have to stay at home about a 4 weeks per year! So maybe the solution is to have a really good online school program that kids can switch to if needed. Which just isn’t the current situation.
              So obviously the boss here was a jerk (and I’d want him disciplined if he worked in my company) but we have to recognize that as a society there’s currently a limit on what we can do to protect immunocompromised people.

              1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                As of last week, only 7.5% of deaths from any of flu, covid, and pneumonia were from the flu.

                The estimated number of Americans who have died from the flu this flu season is estimated as 4,200, and there were no pediatric deaths from flu last week. A total of 24 children have died of the flu during the 2021-22 flu season is 24; 550 children have died of covid so far in 2022.

        3. GrooveBat*

          I’m not aware of any test shortages, at least not in my area. It should be almost reflex at this point to take a home test if you’re coughing, sneezing, and generally feeling like crap.

          Just because people aren’t doing it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. And employers should be super, super clear about this in all their communications.

          1. prof*

            If you’re symptomatic, a negative home test isn’t enough to clear you- you need a PCR test.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I have seasonal allergies that mean that I’m going to have at least the vague foreboding that perhaps I might have a sore throat or have to perhaps sneeze today pretty much starting in March and until I don’t know when, but definitely later than now. My compromise is that I wear a KN95 mask every time I go outside (to keep allergy symptoms down – this has been very effective and I’m going to keep doing it every spring, even if it does make me look covid-paranoid to be wearing a mask outside walking down the block by myself) or anytime I’m going to be inside around other people (rather than at home by myself), but I’m not going to take a test every single day for months on end if it’s mild symptoms consistent with my usual allergies.

            I do test before going to visit my parents or close friends that I’m planning to be un-masked around (and we stay masked or reschedule regardless of testing if any of us is feeling particularly iffy or has had too many other possible exposures lately for various reasons), but I’ve just accepted that testing every time I have a a vague symptom is not going to be practical for someone who is both vaccinated (and thus likely to have only mild covid symptoms to “notice” that I need to test) and allergic to spring.

            1. pancakes*

              That seems really reasonable to me. I don’t think anyone is suggesting allergy sufferers should get tested every time they have an itch in their nose or throat, etc.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          Ah yes, the is-it-allergies-or-is-it-COVID game. I can usually tell if it’s allergies because no fever, and my eyes start to itch until I want to dig them out with a fork.

    4. tg33*

      I know two young and healthy people who are dealing with devastating effects from long covid. While some people are more vulnerable to damage from covid, no-one is safe.

      1. LIZZIE*

        That’s what scares me the most; while I am fully vaxxed and boosted, as COVID seem to affect everyone in different ways, who knows how sick I’d get if i got it, OR what lasting effects I might have.

        1. Springy the woodland sprite*

          The overwhelming evidence is people who are vaccinated against COVID do NOT get critically ill, require hospitalization, or die after contracting COVID. Although the vaccine rollout could definitely be better, the vast majority of COVID deaths and COVID patients requiring ventilation or other critical care were for NON-vaccinated people (since the vaccines were first introduced).

          It is extremely unlikely that you would get critically sick or have to deal with long COVID if you caught it, if you’re vaccinated now.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Would love to see your sources on long COVID being extremely unlikely for vaccinated people. I haven’t found any data on that. You can get long COVID from a mild case, and anecdotally it seems to happen pretty often.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              The sources I saw stated that long Covid was reduced by about half for vaccinated people. Which is good, but it’s not reduced to zero.

                1. Emmy Noether*

                  It was a news article about a report from the UK health security agency. It’s traceable to the primary studies, which is nice. The “half” stat is just from one of the studies though, the results are not very consistent between studies (due in part to “long Covid” not being consistently defined). None of them find zero though.

                  Link to follow. Or google: ukhsa vaccination long covid

            2. Jack Russell Terrier*

              Check out this great article in the Washington Post. It’s an excellent analysis by
              Ezekiel J. Emanuel, an oncologist, medical ethicist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, served on the Covid-19 Advisory Board for the Biden-Harris transition.

              Opinion | Stop dismissing the risk of long covid

          2. nope*

            “It is extremely unlikely that you would get critically sick or have to deal with long COVID if you caught it, if you’re vaccinated now.”

            This is a WILDLY incorrect statement.

            1. Help Us All*

              Wildly incorrect, downright ignorant statements have been the hallmark of this pandemic.

              1. Academic fibro warrior*

                I am vaxxed and boosted so my employer was all, you’re fine! And set a really difficult process in place for us to quarantine–only with an official positive test and only for the minimim days, handled through the Dean of Students’ office. A student came in for days while positive, unmasked, and I’ve been dealing with long covid symptoms since Thanksgiving. (Another student spent half the semester in the hospital because of it.) I have little control in my own classroom over how to handle my own illness…which means my students don’t get what they should from me. Before covid I could cancel or teach online for a week for the flu and nobody cared. But after political pressure from the governor and a badly done survey, it’s pretty clear I’m not valued by my institution, or anybody is really (my school has fired people over this).

                According to medicine I’m not high risk at all but that’s only because nobody has bothered to see if my condition actually is high riskthus.

                I’ve since moved on to a college that does value me and my health. But I’m still angry (and exhausted). Attitudes only make things worse.

                LW, I hope you come away with minimal effects long and short term. I’ll be holding you in my heart.

                1. Blomma*

                  I also have fibromyalgia (plus some other issues) and the thought of developing long Covid on top of my existing symptoms is terrifying! And yeah, according to some fibro isn’t a high risk condition. But when my body responds so weirdly to every single injury or acute illness I have…well I’m going to act like it is.

            2. New Jack Karyn*

              No, it is correct. Being fully vaccinated significantly reduces the chance of death and hospitalization.

              1. Nameless in Customer Service*

                Yes, but not to zero.

                I don’t think the point is that vaccination is useless (since it’s obviously not) but that it is possible for vaccinated people to not only become ill but to contract Long Covid. I don’t think it’s helpful to tell people that that’s impossible, and saying so implies that vaccinated people who report contracting Long Covid are lying.

                1. Lunar Caustic*

                  The original comment uses the phrase “extremely unlikely”, which does not mean “impossible” or “zero chance”. It means “extremely unlikely, so it can still happen, just not very often”. Unfortunately, the phrase has come to mean “impossible” colloquially, even though it very literally does not mean that and is not used that way when discussing statistics. A more focused criticism would be that without including actual quantitative data about what percentage of vaccinated people die or develop long COVID, the use of the qualifier “extremely” is functionally meaningless and will probably lead to people underestimating the actual risk thanks to that colloquial misunderstanding. Human brains struggle with statistical thinking, so it’s important to be mindful about the assumptions that people will make from your statements.

                2. Properlike*

                  Last I read it’s a 10-30% probability of Long Covid among the vaccinated, even among those who are asymptomatic or get only mild cases.

                  It’s not a binary “you don’t die so don’t worry about it!” (An incorrect statement in itself.) Contracting a significant autoimmune condition can also completely derail a life and leave someone disabled — temporarily or permanently — to varying degrees. And when cases surge, it prevents people from getting needed medical treatment; either when they postponse care or when the provider has to pull back on care. Like if you get Covid before surgery, your surgery gets rescheduled. For much later.

                  It would be nice, as someone else said, if people didn’t assume they got to decide for other people what their medical trajectories will be.

          3. J*

            Just to support the comments pushing back, the vaccinated made up 42 percent of fatalities in January and February during the highly contagious omicron variant’s surge, compared with 23 percent of the dead in September, the peak of the delta wave, according to the CDC (and it’s still climbing). You can argue that it’s because so many people are vaccinated (which might be true in some states and some age ranges but it certainly isn’t in my state) and there’s an argument about how many vaccines people have (everyone should have 3 by now except J&J recipients, 2nd boosters are available for those 50 and over and the immunocompromised may have up to 5) but we’re still counting 2 shots as fully vaccinated.

            That’s a huge gap of people assuming they are safe, thinking they’ve done the required effort, and still dying. Add in the arrogance of people suggesting you won’t die and people are dropping all precautions but vaccines…leading to more deaths. Your kind of comment isn’t as helpful as you think.

          4. tg33*

            The two people I know with long covid were fully vaccinated and careful. Being vaccinated reduces your chances of difficulties, but it’s still possible. The booster seems to help with long covid though.

      2. Baby Yoda*

        Same. It’s devastating and can affect anyone at any age. Long covid is horrible.

      3. COHikerGirl*

        I caught COVID in March of 2020 (March 17 was when I noticed shortness of breath). Over 2 years and 2 months later, I’m still essentially sick. Fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, and a variety of other issues are still debilitating. I had a mild case (mild means no hospitalization…it was worse than when I had whooping cough) and was 37, healthy, and zero preexisting conditions. I should have been the poster child for “it’s like a cold” but nope.

        I just started a new job and they require vaccinations and encourage people to stay home when sick (work if you feel up to it, rest if you don’t). It’s refreshing. My last job, I had been going in (few were), but someone caught COVID and the response was…less than stellar, by those who had been exposed. I went back to working from home.

    5. Cj*

      What the f*** is wrong with people? Do they not understand that they can kill somebody? I get angry enough when people won’t get vaccinated, or wear masks, but to continue to go to work when you know you have tested positive should be criminal.

      I also want to push back on the idea in a letter that only disabled people are affected by this. Anybody can have long covid, they can get it and infect someone who is high-risk, die from it even if you’re not high risk, and there are a lot of health condition set are high-risk for covid-19 that are not normally considered a disability.

      1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        “I also want to push back on the idea in a letter that only disabled people are affected by this.”
        This!!! I know several young (20-s to 30’s) healthy, physically fit people who ended up in the hospital on an incubator and stayed there for weeks. Then spent months dragging around an oxygen tank once they left the hospital. Most of them (6 months to a year later) still aren’t back to their before health status.

      2. HigherEdAdminista*

        There was an entire thread on Twitter this weekend of parents bragging about how they hid their family’s COVID cases so that they could send their contagious children to school and sports. One person admitted to faking a negative COVID test for her child (picture proof of a negative test was required) so that her daughter could play in a volleyball tournament.

        There are a lot of very selfish people in this world. Whenever the discussion of staying home while sick comes up, there are always people insisting that many people can’t stay home. And don’t misunderstand me, this is true. There are too few protections for employees in the United States, and some people cannot survive a lost day of pay. But there is also a subset of people who have resources including paid sick leave, the ability to work from home, comfortable home environments, and so on who just don’t care to ever give up anything they want, even for a few days.

        1. pancakes*

          Yikes. I don’t have high hopes for what’s going to happen as the kids of people like that age and become more independent, having spent their early years stewing in noxious self-regard. Some will be lucky enough to gain perspective with experience, and see how messed up their own families were, but only some, and even then it often takes years for people to get to a vantage point they can see more clearly from.

        2. Marika*

          Oh yeah. My kid’s school does ‘overnight’ trips starting in Grade 3 – so, the Grade 5s actually missed their 3 trip and their 4 trip due to COVID. They were all super excited about the trip this year, since it’s their last year in ‘primary’. So… a family knew they had been exposed. They knew their kid was showing symptoms. They had their kid mask at home over the weekend so that no-one else would get sick. They submitted, as required, a photo of a negative test on Sunday night (who knows WHOSE test it was). And on Monday morning, they dosed the kid full of cold medication to suppress the symptoms (and sent more with kid, without telling the school) and sent said kid on this four night overnight trip with the class.

          Surprise! Kid had COVID. 22 kids in the class, five parent volunteers and the teacher. All the parents and the teacher were fully vaccinated and boosted. Over half the class was vaccinated. Two kids DIDN’T get it… everyone else did. AND, in every single case, that spread to the classmates families. Near as we’ve been able to track, our school community had almost 100 cases because these parents were so ‘worried’ about their kid missing a trip that they lied and lied and lied again – and the only reason the number was so low was because the trip ended the day before spring break, which meant that all those kids, who spread it to siblings who ALSO go to the school, were essentially in quarantine for a week – we personally got lucky, because two kids in my kid’s class got infected by siblings, but didn’t have the opportunity to spread it to our classroom.

          I’m still trying to figure out how this is not illegal.

          1. BJP*

            Leak the story to the local press, or to national liberal print/web media. The American Prospect, Atlantic, etc. Try them in the court of public opinion. Shame is a powerful behavior corrector.

            1. pancakes*

              I think it would be missing an important step to skip over the local court of opinion. What’s going on there? If a majority of the people who live amongst and send their kids to school with the children of people like this don’t feel they can push back on the staggering disregard the people in their own community have for one another, or don’t want to because it’s awkward for them, is a scolding from media 1,500 miles away or whatnot really going to shift local behavior? Has that been effective so far? It doesn’t seem to be effective at all. If anything it seems to encourage the contemptuous people to think of their lack of care for others as a bedrock principle of their politics and sense of identity. It also just seems to be far too little far too late. People aren’t likely to learn to care about one another so late in life just by reading about the disdain people outside their own community have for their behavior. A change that momentous is almost certainly going to have to be inspired by something or someone closer to them than that.

          2. Totally Subclinical*

            I am against vigilante justice. And when I hear about people like this, I really really really have to remind myself that I am against vigilante justice.

    6. Oakwood*

      How old is the boss?

      When I worked in the 80’s the attitude was “we expect you to be in unless bedridden” (and this was a multinational conglomerate). But the truth is, that used to be the attitude of most businesses. They wanted in on the floor sick or not. If you could move you could work.

      And it’s still the attitude of many go-getters and old-school employees.

      I wouldn’t be surprised with the easing of COVID standards to see people taking more risks with other people’s health, despite the fact that we just spent two years locked down to get a handle on COVID.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah, I remember working in the 80s…and waitressing while very sick with contagious crap, too. Hope folks didn’t mind Granny catching pneumonia because I had to come in and work a wedding party while sick in the 80s! But I am really REALLY glad to see this go away, it was bananas then and it’s pure insanity now. The world changes, you change with it or get left behind.

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        “more risks with other peoples’ health”. So much this. The anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers who cry “freedom” are hypocrites. They don’t mean freedom, they mean anarchy, like that character from Parks and Recreation who, when he said to the park ranger that he had a permit, gave him a piece of paper that said “I can do what I want”.

    7. PB Bunny Watson*

      Came to the comments to say exactly this. It really doesn’t matter if there are high-risk staff or not… because this can permanently disable and even kill people without health issues. I know plenty of perfectly healthy people who are now suffering long-term effects from COVID. What this manager did was unconscionable.

    8. Dennis Feinstein*

      To be clear, it wasn’t OP’s boss, it was their partner’s boss who went to the office, infected partner & partner brought COVID home to OP.


      My spouse and I are fully vaxxed and boosted…and recovering from COVID. Really wish people understood that it’s not over yet and it’s more than just a cold; I’m desperately hoping we don’t have any long COVID issues coming out of this.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Same for my partner and I – both of us have three shots on board, both of us tested positive last week, and have symptoms. We’re on day five and feeling quite a lot better (energy wise, I *could* work, but am not). Without vaccinations, both of us would be in much worse shape than we are so yay for science, and yay for having adequate sick leave/good policy around illness and work.

    10. Momma Bear*

      I was exposed at the office and rescheduled an appointment that had nothing to do with work because I was meeting with someone with a very young child. They did not want to take the risk, and I respected that. Not telling anyone is problematic for everyone, not just the people directly exposed in the office, as evidenced by the spread.

      I hope the OP’s partner brings it up to HR because KNOWINGLY bringing COVID to work is a huge violation of trust. IMO doesn’t matter the health status of who all was exposed. I think the manager was wildly unprofessional and their behavior unnecessarily endangered others.

      Our policies include that if you are sick, stay home until you receive a negative test. I think that is reasonable. To get a test and then IGNORE the results? WOW.

    11. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      Even if we ignore for the moment the obvious health and safety risks being taken by this manager, how stupid can you be? Let’s pretend this isn’t a disease with potentially life altering or even fatal consequences. Let’s pretend she *just* knowing went to work with a highly contagious “normal” disease that was almost certainly going to infect at least half her coworkers and cause most if not all of them to miss three to seven days of work.

      What could possibly be so important that you’d risk losing most of your workforce for several (or more) days? Even if you’re a totally selfish individual with no regard for your worker’s lives and health (which certainly seems to be the case), why would you want to create such a difficult situation for yourself.

      1. Seeking second childhood, CTA*

        THIS. Even if they don’t care about people ( and it’s painful for me to even type that), management SHOULD care that this manager’s actions will slow down work production making the company miss sales targets and delivery deadline.

  2. Mehitabel*

    It would not surprise me in the least if situations like those described by LW #1 start resulting in lawsuits against employers for failing to provide a safe workplace for their employees. (If that hasn’t started happening already).

    1. Name (Required)*

      Not just failing to provide a safe workplace but going all out to ensure a workplace is inherently unsafe.

      One thing the pandemic has taught us is that there are far too many sociopaths in positions of power (at any level).

      1. TiredMama*

        Why not sue the workplace and the boss specifically? That seems like reckless disregard on the boss’s part…knowing they have covid, taking zero precautions to prevent the spread to others even though the boss knows at least one employee is high risk. I’m a week out from testing positive and pretty much back to normal but when I went out today (according to the cdc that’s okay as long as masked), I wore a mask and told everyone why I was wearing a mask so that they would take it seriously (and boy did they once I said it).

      1. MK*

        After I posted below, I read the article and I see that many US states passed legislation essentially barring employees from suing when the employer has complied with state regulations regarding covid. I do wonder how well these will hold up in court, it would be very questionable in my country.

        1. Anya Last Nerve*

          They will hold up in the US. Additionally, it will be extremely hard to prove where exactly the person got Covid. In the case of this letter, how will they prove the manager knew she had Covid and came in? That everyone got it from her? The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that by a preponderance of the evidence, and I think that would be tough.

          1. WellRed*

            I agree it’s tough to prove but in the letter, the boss tested positive and continued to come in. I’d at least be complaining to the company. I’d certainly never trust her judgment again.

          2. pancakes*

            That is the burden of proof in many types of civil ligation, yes, but it isn’t the burden of proof in any and all types of civil litigation. You are vastly oversimplifying a complex topic.

            1. Anya Last Nerve*

              I’m actually an attorney so very curious what types of civil cases like this have a lower burden of proof on the plaintiff than a preponderance of the evidence.

                1. Anya Last Nerve*

                  Those are few and very specific and would not include suing your employer for you getting Covid.

                2. pancakes*

                  I’m not sure how you’re so certain of that. The law firm white papers I skimmed after you mentioned this seem less certain, and point out that cruise ships have sometimes been held liable that way. I generally think it’s poor form to speak with certainty about topics like this, and am more inclined to trust sources that don’t.

          3. MK*

            Well, they found out somehow that she knew she had covid when she came in, no? Unless the OP is just making assumptions, which is another issue altogether. And the burden of proof exists in all cases; we can’t know how much evidence they have, and whether is will be enough to win the case is the whole point a trial happens.

            As for proving everyone got it from her, well, if person A comes to work with covid one week, and the next week half the office also gets covid, I suppose they can try to argue that their coworkers were infected elsewhere. But unless they can name another specific point of infection, it would go down well here. Courts generally dislike being treated as if they were stupid.

            1. Properlike*

              Depending on the numbers, your local health department could declare it an “outbreak” officially, after contact tracing. I think that would serve as sufficient evidence, had the health department done contact tracing.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I would be absolutely shocked if it had any effect, however.

      The US doesn’t have required quarantines/isolation for exposure/positive cases, no requirement to inform contacts that you are ill, and very few mask mandates, to my knowledge. So that would mean going to work with COVID and not telling your coworkers or wearing a mask is entirely legal. As far as workman’s comp goes, proving you got COVID at work is really difficult, unless you’ve literally not come near anyone else. I’m not sure if ADA accommodations apply to the health conditions of relatives – I could see accommodation if you are high risk yourself, but I don’t know if you can ask for accommodation because you live with someone high risk.

      1. MK*

        Liability doesn’t always require an illegal act, in the sense that you are thinking. An employer has a general duty to provide a safe working environment, and having rules about how people should handle a positive test is part of that. While you can’t use it to force them to take precautions beforehand in most cases, if it causes you damage, you can absolutely sue.

    3. nnn*

      I hope it does. It would be better for everyone if employers were more risk-averse in this area.

    4. anonymous73*

      I’m not a scientist, but unless there’s a definitive way to prove that you got COVID from a specific individual (outside of knowing it’s a certain strain), I don’t know that lawsuits will prove to be successful. We went to a party before Christmas at a friend’s house. Everyone there was vaccinated and nobody was sick. My friend’s cousin and my husband both ended up with COVID a few days later. We assume someone had it at the party and was asymptomatic, but my husband or my friend’s cousin could have caught it from someone else before the party.

      1. Help Us All*

        Which is why contact tracing is a standard public health process that has been so poorly done in the US.

    5. Observer*

      It would not surprise me in the least if situations like those described by LW #1 start resulting in lawsuits against employers for failing to provide a safe workplace for their employees.

      Seriously unlikely for a number of reasons. Not the least that businesses haven’t been held accountable for making people come in sick under ever more ridiculous situations. When was the last time you saw an eatery sued for making someone with a communicable illness come in to work and SERVE FOOD TO CUSTOMERS, with the inevitable outbreak of illness that follows?

      Do you remember the letter from someone who wanted to know if they could stop allowing someone to call out sick unless they had found their replacement? They were already requiring people to try to find their own replacements to keep people from calling out sick (“excessively”), but this person frequently didn’t do that, so the LW wanted to just not let her call out unless she actually tried to find a replacement.

      That LW had absolutely no concern that they / the company could get sued. And quite a number of people either backed the OP, or explained that although it’s a bad practice it’s quite a common thing. And NO ONE, even people who reacted quite strongly against it mentioned the possibility of getting sued. Because it just doesn’t happen.

      1. pancakes*

        A lot of people here use this reasoning — “I didn’t see news about it so it must not be happening” — and it’s just not the best approach. Unless you are a dedicated follower of liability news, there’s no particular reason to assume you’re up to date on every development in that sphere. Since you mentioned this, I looked for a story, and it took less than 2 minutes to find one about a chain of restaurants called Famous Anthony’s presently being sued by 27 families for a Hep A outbreak. That case is not not happening just because none of us here were paying attention to it until now. I’m sure I could find others if I wanted to spend more than a couple minutes on this.

  3. Alternative Person*


    I get it, it sucks. Believe me, I have a lot of opinions about how some jobs in my industry are behind experience and certification paywalls, walls that didn’t really exist ten or even five years ago in some cases often while paying rates that haven’t really moved in just as long.

    But, it’s not worth your long-term reputation, professional and private to lie.

    I think whether you want to or not, you’re likely going to have to pay for some form of certification or otherwise get the needed experience.

    (I really get it, my manager, who got his position nearly ten years ago was able to get it with a basic certification in the field. Now, the level is at the advanced certification (which I have) and to be truly competitive you often need an MA (which I’m in the process of getting) on top of that. Meanwhile, my manager has been casually putting off the advanced certification for upwards of five years now.)

    1. GythaOgden*

      Yeah. When I was unemployed and looking for a way back in I ponied up for a book-keeping course. I paid out about £140 from my virtually nonexistent savings to take the exams. (One of the test centres is not far from where I live and I wince every time I pass it because I left it positive I’d flunked the whole thing.)

      It sucks, but the other perspective is that (like any service you take advantage of, like childcare or clothing) these courses take a lot of time and effort on other people’s behalf to run the courses. Sometimes you’ve gotta pay for stuff that helps you into a career where you can make it all back and more.

      1. Alternative Person*

        Yep, my advanced certification effectively paid for itself in the end, between the higher pay rate at the job and the improved rate when I completed it. They were even nice enough to back-date the pay rise to the day of the test rather than when I received the certification. (I started the job part-time during the qualification before moving to full time once a position became available)

        1. Alternative Person*

          That said, the two years of austerity to save up for the certification were not fun.

    2. Smithy*

      I’m with you on this.

      I’m in a field where earlier in my career this was incredibly infuriating for me around language skills. I wouldn’t get a job that would go to someone else who had XYZ language – and in one case in particular, all it meant was that they’d taken a semester or two of the language in undergrad. While this meant that my earlier efforts were often frustrating – every job I got never meant I was skirting a skill they had hoped I’d have (even if it wasn’t critical). And two of the people who I felt over inflated their language skills ultimately going back to school for major career changes. For all I know, it wasn’t because they flamed out – but they also weren’t investing the time, energy and effort in making this their long-term career.

      One thing I will flag, is that when you’re stuck in this thinking is that it can be easy to almost under sell what you’ve actually done. You can end up fixated on what you don’t have, that you don’t see what you have done and risk underselling that. In my case, I was working in English in a place where the English translation of my job title gave the impression that I was fairly junior. As it happened, I was the only person there doing my job and could have advocated for a title that emphasized that. And if not, done a lot more to highlight that in my application materials. .

    3. El l*

      Yeah, two things, one to you and one to OP.

      To you: I wish this was something the older generation understood…how incredibly competitive it is to even get your foot in the door. Back in the day, you just needed a college degree and a willingness to put in long hours to get started. Now you need a master’s degree, extra qualifications, and an ability to get more done in less time.

      To OP: In your life, if you find out Person X has been lying to you, do you at any point ask and excuse them with, “Well, do Person X’s peers also lie?” No, of course not. The others are irrelevant because all you care about is whether you can trust Person X. Same here. If they are lucky enough to get away with a lie, well the world is unjust and absurd. But that’s no guarantee you will be – and if you are, what can you say? Nothing.

      Tell the truth. If your peers get caught in a lie, at least know you won’t share the same fate. And if you get to a position of responsibility someday, remember this experience when someone makes claims too good to be true.

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        I agree 1000%. There is a story in my family of the time a relative saw a car make an illegal u-turn with a police car right there. The relative also made an illegal u-turn and was stopped. When the police officer pulled him over, he said, “but that other guy did it and you didn’t stop him.” The officer replied, “I didn’t see him do it, but I saw you do it.” It doesn’t matter what other people do… that doesn’t give you an excuse to do something wrong just because “everyone else” seems to be doing it.

        Also, are we sure the people you talk to, OP, aren’t just being modest? I mean, I downplay things on my resume all the time because I feel awkward or embarrassed about being seen as bragging. It’s possible some of the things you interpret as being evidence of them lying may just be impostor syndrome on their part or them trying to avoid talking about it. (Maybe not, but it’s something that crossed my mind.)

      2. Alternative Person*

        I totally agree, some topics are met by these ‘oh you silly child’ looks when younger staff bring up promotion and pay issues. It’s all right for them as they got their contracts when times were good, barriers were low but they’re way, way too blase about how the ladder has effectively been pulled up behind them.

        They recently didn’t backfill a lower management position and I basically got laughed at for bringing it up during a planning meeting, but when the project was all said and done, I turned out to be right about it.

        (Corporate has been cutting a lot of positions recently, but I still side-eye my office for not picking any of the several suggested workaround that have come from several people)

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        “In my day”, all you needed to be a translator was a dictionary and a basic knowledge of the foreign language.
        Nowadays, you need at least a proficiency certificate in each foreign language you translate from, and an MA either in translation and/or in your speciality. I have an MA in translation, but then the client needs convincing that I know enough about their field. Used to be, they’d just send the file and see what you came up with. Nowadays I have to show samples, and name-drop like mad. Luckily with over 25 years’ experience I have plenty of names to drop.

    4. Elizabeth Bennett*

      The person that immediately came to my mind was David Edmondson, former CEO of RadioShack Corporation. I worked for RadioShack when the Fort Worth newspaper started checking into his background and discovered that he falsified having a degree from a Baptist college. He claims he lost his diploma in a garage fire some years prior (the fire was confirmed true), but the college did not have a record of issuing him a diploma.

      Honestly, the whole situation was sad for David – he had received his 3rd DUI charge, lost his job as CEO and his wife filed for divorce. And somehow, he still managed a severance package from RadioShack after only a year or two as the CEO that led RadioShack into financial straits.

      LW2: Don’t be a liar on your resume. It’ll apparently make you stand out from your peers!

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Sorry, I don’t feel in the least bit sad for a liar who DUI and gets a golden severance package.

    5. RC+Rascal*

      I used to work in financial services. We hired someone with 25 years experience, a stellar reputation and a large book of business. A month after onboarding, he was fired. Why? He lied about graduating from the University of Oatmeal. It turned out he attending for 4 years and ending up leaving a few credits shy of graduation, and never finished. But he lied about it, and went on and became very successful. Then the lie was uncovered and it all unraveled.

    6. Lime green Pacer*

      I’m old enough to remember a time when lots and lots of people lied on their resumes. Then some prominent people in politically-appointed positions were caught lying and lost their jobs. That led to a lot of retroactive resume-checking and even more people lost their jobs. Don’t put your neck on the chopping block for this scenario, which seems to be overdue in your area! Instead, be the squeaky-clean person that can fill those shoes.

  4. Can Can Cannot*

    LW2, you might still want to be careful. First impressions can vary from person to person. I worked with a former colleague, definitely a bit of a jerk, who once rejected someone because he didn’t like a button that the candidate had attached to his bag. I thought the candidate was pretty good (not stellar), but for some reason the button really got to him, and he found reasons to reject the candidate. It wasn’t overly political or controversial, and it didn’t even register to me, so from my POV it made no sense.

    1. Princess Xena*

      I was going to say that I’d double check the song lyrics in particular to make sure that everything is still fine, especially out of context. I listen to relatively ‘tame’ music and can still think of half a dozen lines that would be eyebrow raisers if you don’t know the song they belong to.

      Otherwise you’ll probably be fine, depending on your field.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        That’s a good point–song lyrics that are like “… Oh yeah, that one” *hums* can land as a weird screed if the reader doesn’t recognize that it’s a song.

        My other question is are the stickers in good shape, not battered and grimy? I’d expect them to undergo a lot of wear and tear, but that may be inaccurate.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Didn’t we recently have someone write in about Eminem lyrics at work?

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Yes! First question in the “my coworker went through my trash, using bereavement leave for a vacation, and more” post from April 18, 2022.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I’m torn in that a wheelchair user isn’t expected to have a different chair for work so what they use at work has to be work appropriate. But unlike clothes they’re stuck with it as decorated for both work and personal. And unlike a car (and more like clothing) it appears in an office with them to everyone they interact with.

      Perhaps treat them like tattoos. You don’t want to work in a place the prohibits them or even judges you for them so don’t hide them for interviews.

      If you are actually going to go for a job in a conservative place, you’d hide tattoos and remove the really obvious and bright and unusual decorations from your wheelchair.

      1. EPLawyer*

        LW does actually liken them to tattoos.

        I agree, interviewing is a two way street. If someplace is aganist tattoos or wheelchair decorations, do you really want to work there anyway?

        However, unlike tattoos, these can’t be covered easily. Which could hurt in some fields. Like law. I don’t think a brightly decorated wheelchair would fly in the courtroom any more than a full sleeve of tattoos would. Of course, you can wear a suit jacket that covers the tattoos. Not sure how you would do that for a wheelchair though.

        1. The Moderate*

          Maybe OP could find a slip cover for the back of her wheelchair for use when the personalization is inappropriate.

          1. Wheelchair LW*

            I’m not sure I’d be able to put anything over the stickers because it would get caught in the wheels and I’m not sure how it would attach :/ and again with my mobility issues, attaching something like that regularly would be a lot of effort and energy when I don’t have much to spare.

            It is a good idea I just haven’t seen anything that would work yet, but I’ll keep an eye out :)

            1. Dweali*

              I’m not sure if it’s even a thing but is there something like a hubcap for wheelchairs that would maybe be easy to snap on/off and could go over the items you have on the spokes?

                1. button*

                  I believe those are spokeguards, which is what LW has and is what she has decorated with stickers!
                  Perhaps something like a circle of black pvc that you could attach with little velcro stickers? At least for the interview – I always find jobs want a much more formal interview than they do dress code but maybe that’s my industry.

                2. The Moderate*

                  So maybe the solution is to buy a second pair of undecorated spoke guards and swap them out when a more subdued appearance is appropriate?

                3. Dweali*

                  @button…I was reading it was the stickers were on the spokes since OP mentioned cable ties. You make way more sense than the picture in my head lol

                4. Elenna*

                  @The Moderate OP mentions in the letter that they need help and a new pair of cable ties every time they swap out the spoke guards, which clearly isn’t sustainable if they need to do it every day when they go in for work.

            2. Elysian*

              Not that you should need to, but if you’re concerned I wonder if there is colored contact paper or something that might cover the stickers (depending on what they are on) and then could be removed later so the stickers could show. It sounds like a pain, but might be an option if you’re worried. Or, as folks seem to be suggesting elsewhere, limit the stickers to a part or area that is more able to be covered or is meant to be swappable.

        2. Smithy*

          I think the tattoo analogy is apt and that as the OP transitions more into the work world – they will get a better calibration of how to let their authentic personality shine while finding the right professional balance for their field.

          It may be totally superficial around what’s easier in the work place to talk about vs what’s less understood (i.e. more music, less Star Trek or vise versa). But it likely will do more with where the lines are around issues the OP would just rather not discuss at work or might be more antagonistic in the work place. I’m thinking overtly political (i.e. Vote for Jane Doe/Yes on Issue 6) or religious/atheist stickers. Sometimes when we’re younger and thinking about “ok at work” things that are more counter-culture come to mind first and not a cheekier reference to keeping religion out of your health care decisions.

          All to say, that’s the critical double check I’d make at first. I don’t think you need to make the most aggressive sweep where anything that remotely touches on a social issue is deemed political (i.e. the pride flag stickers), but if there’s a sticker of like “the Notorious RBG”….early in someone’s professional career in 2022 – I’d recommend covering that with another sticker.

          1. PB Bunny Watson*

            I was thinking of this too. Something like tarot cards *might* be an issue, depending on the area you live in and the work you do. If you work somewhere like a library, you can often get away with more of that than you might be able to in a law firm or working for a politician or corporate office. But it all depends on the work you do and the area you live in. And I agree with what someone else said–it can be a good way to judge whether you want to work someplace, based on their reactions to it in the interview.

            1. Smithy*

              Again, this is a whole – where do you work, what’s your industry, what kinds of people might be rubbed what way by what stuff.

              Very often the caution on seeing something as a tattoo is for those moments when we do just want people to know less about us. Liking the music of JoJo Siwa or aesthetic of Hello Kitty doesn’t mean you can’t be professional, but it may also give an impression of youth that sometimes you’d rather not portray.

              If I were the OP, I’d almost take the summer to lean into one style or color of stickers that was a little more neutral. All nature related, all tied to certain style of music or musician, or even just all one color – like different shades of blue. At one point I had an office with an enormous bulletin board (something like 4ft x 5ft) that I didn’t need. I ended up using it to post the ticket of every play I went to and thus my personality at work was certainly the “theater person”. Silly office gifts? Hello wind-up or action figure Shakespeare. Certainly wouldn’t say the theater defines all of me, but it was a true enough part of my personality, fun to talk about, and largely workplace appropriate.

              I’ve always found it easier to be very open about a few true parts of myself, rather than having to edit everything.

            2. Aggresuko*

              OP sounds like my kind of person in their decorations, but yeah, seeing tarot cards is going to freak some people the heck out. Is it possible to cover up some of the decorations while working? (If I knew you, I’d suggest crocheting some arm coverings on the chair or something.)

      2. ToS*

        Given that this is a student internship – it’s a good experience with navigating what the world-of-work can be like, and it’s likely true that with student interns, there is a learning curve about how creatively you can express yourself. Most places that have student interns will be OK. No one expects them to get a separate wheelchair, and everyone participating loves the sticker campaign – Very Cool! With work on the horizon, it may be that it migrates to a similar, but more flexible format, so you can be ALL OUT with expression, or manage how much you share to match an occasion.

      3. D*

        I would agree to treat them like tattoos. For the most part I would assume they are fine unless they are sexually graphic or violent to the point people could reasonably be upset at having to look at them. I would also maybe consider it an issue if they were political to the point of being highly insulting to the other group (think personal attacks not just having a sticker in support of a political issue). Anything really anti- a particular religion or otherwise offensive to protected groups could be a problem. But barring these sorts of issues it really shouldn’t matter what you have on there.

      4. Warrior Princess Xena*

        There have been issues with people having offensive stickers on their cars in workplace parking lots too.

      5. Admiral Jamison from Too Short a Season*

        The reality is that there will be times when massive quantities of Star Trek stickers and tarot cards will be professionally or socially inappropriate. Yes, how often that occurs may vary according to your industry and company, but it will be true sometimes. It will hurt you professionally if you cannot read those cues.

        Don’t get me wrong — I love Star Trek and can debate the merits of “The Inner Light” versus “Yesterday’s Enterprise” with the best of them, but that doesn’t mean broadcasting your hobby 24/7 is always advisable.

        Get a set of interchangeable spoke covers. Or perhaps find a MOLLE panel — one that you can affix and remove to the back seat of the wheelchair — with velcro that allows you to display morale patches.

    3. Boof*

      Presuming lw3 isn’t flashing anything highly controversial, I think it’s not worth worrying about what a petty employer might reject them over (unless lw3 is desperate for any job) because 1) it can be utterly random and trivial what someone might lock on to 2) leads to a lot of mostly unnecessary anxiety and 3) probably wouldn’t like working there anyway

      But it does make me wonder if there’s professional covers for wheelchairs/ easy ways of changing their looks for a brief period of time??

      1. Wheelchair LW*

        There are actually really nice spokeguards that clip onto the wheels in a much more easy to change up way, but they’re too expensive for me to afford right now :( I feel like those might look neater because they’re not obvioulsy homemade in the way stickers are and won’t get wear and tear, but I’m not sure if they would count as unprofessional because of being brightly patterned still

        This is an example of one of the stores I’ve been looking at, for reference:

        1. button*

          thought I’d reply directly to you as well as above – have you considered something like velcro stickers/magnet stickers to attach a piece of black pvc or similar? It’s a good temp fix, at least for an interview!

        2. 10pointsforGryffindor*

          Hello Wheelchair User,
          I worked in a banking call center with another wheelchair user and her wheels were decorated for every holiday or with other designs. No one ever thought that she was unprofessional. I was always excited to see what would be next.

          1. Aggresuko*

            Oh, she sounds great! They have light-up wheels these days for bikes, I wonder if that lady has any of those these days.

        3. Eloise*

          I am torn here. I work in a notably conservative field (large law firm as an attorney), and I would recommend not having stickers on the wheelchair (or quirky accessories, a visible sleeve of tattoos, etc.) for an interview in this field. Since the wheelchair is permanent and can’t be traded out as easily as, say, quirky accessories, it feels harsher to recommend against it, which is why I am torn. Also, I also feel a little differently (and a little more friendly to the stickers) if someone was interviewing for, say, an internal-facing-only IT position at our firm than a client-facing attorney position.

          So I think it’s probably fine to have stickers in many fields for a relatively junior internship. But note that you might want to be mindful of having the chair grow with you as you get more senior or if you move to a more external-facing role — in the same way you might have your clothes, etc. grow with you.

          As you get more senior (and can afford these more easily), you might consider one of the more subdued (e.g., non-character-driven) spoke covers like you’ve linked to here.

          Of course, know your office/industry. I just wanted to chime in from one of the less-sticker-friendly environments.

        4. Julia*

          I think spokeguards might fit into the same concept as jewelry. Bold bright jewelry isn’t inherently unprofessional and many people wear bright jewelry to liven up outfits.

          I’ve seen wheelchair users with highly decorated chairs in the workplace and it didn’t make me consider them less professional. The exception is places where everyone else was wearing formal business wear. If everyone around you is wearing a suit, stickers would make me look askance. Colorful wheel covers wouldn’t be weird.

        5. Xanna*

          Just one data point, but in my opinion the site you linked (with the possible exception of the Disney collection) would be 100000% a non issue with professional-appearance in my world (politics, western Canada, pretty progressive, but still a pretty formal office environment). I feel like the stickers could also be fine, but definitely the guards would be completely fine.

          I feel like the stickers shouldn’t matter, but I can see folks being iffy in more buttoned up environments, where a bright, but obviously “designed” accessory for your chair would be fine???? I just feel like there is something of a “young” impression with stickers, which wouldn’t really flag the same way with these?

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        I was wondering that about covers, myself. It might not be too hard to create some removable covers that could go over the spoke guards. But I also think that treating them like tattoos that you don’t want to have to cover is a good idea: if the place where you’re interviewing would reject you for having them, then you don’t want to work there anyway.

    4. ecnaseener*

      The thing is that could happen with anything. You could dress completely drab and conservative, and an interviewer might decide not to like that. You could use a resume font they don’t like. There’s no completely safe choice.

      In this case, might as well keep the option that makes you feel comfortable and confident, and doesn’t tire you out.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Agreed — there is such a wide variety of people and employers, so unless you know you want to go into some super-conservative field, I think presenting yourself as you want to is the right call.

    5. Manchmal*

      I kind of thing of the wheelchair stickers somewhere between tattoos and bumper stickers. With bumper stickers, those can be read as a marker of class (you don’t see a lot of stickers on a really nice car) or they can be read to understand aspects of your identity (politics, gender/sexuality, etc). If you give people information about yourself (in terms of class, youth, politics, gender/sexuality), you do give them the opportunity to discriminate, even subconsciously. I think about someone coming to an interview really put together but then carrying a messenger bag with band buttons all over it. It’s … incongruous and it allows the interviewer to infer or interpret something about you that might be negative from the company’s perspective. It’s the same reason why pregnant women or women with children are advised to not mention those facts during interviews. Your identity is your identity whether or not you wear it on your sleeve, so to speak. I personally would advise against the stickers unless the jobs you’re applying for a really casual, or if you’re in a creative field, or in higher ed, or some place where outward expressions like that are more common.

    6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yeah I was banned from teaching a particular client (who made military aircraft) because I forgot I had a Greenpeace badge on my pullover. Peace is soooooooooo scandalous!

  5. Person from the Resume*

    LW#5, it’s looks a lot shadier if anyone else catches it. If you report it yourself it doesn’t look like you’re trying to cheat the system; you look honest and like you’re trying to correct an error.

    If someone else somehow notices, they’re going to wonder how you didn’t notice it yourself … which you did so you don’t have an honest response. You only look like you’re trying to cheat the system if you try to.

    1. The Witch of Sanity's Annex*

      What Person from the Resume said. This early it can be looked at as a case of “well, computers be like that” or “pushed the wrong dang button, silly me.” And it’s more likely to be well received because you’re bringing it to them as soon as you noticed the discrepancy.

    2. Snow Globe*

      It’s very common for vacation days to need to be corrected after the fact, which is why most vacation tracking software allows users to go in and make changes. There is no reason this would look suspicious to anyone.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        It’s also very common for people to not look at their pay stubs or vacation balances. So nothing suspicious about the fact that it’s been 4-6 weeks since the error occurred (or if it were longer – but since you noticed it, tell someone). This is a very normal correction.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – most of us only look at a paystub if we have a specific reason, like the deposit into my account was different for some reason. Just be really open about I put this in, don’t know why it didn’t save, how do I fix this. You are wanting to make this right as quickly as you found it – and in a normal and non-toxic work environment this should be no big deal.

    3. anonymous73*

      Agreed. A few jobs ago, I started on a Thursday. My first paycheck was for a full week. So I reported it because I knew it would come back to bite me. And nobody thought I tried to doctor my time sheet and get paid for time I hadn’t worked yet.

    4. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      I just managed to overbill one of my clients – and overpay one of my consultants – I data entered a number wrong. The consultant said “this doesn’t match my records” – we figured out where the issue was, and I’ll make it up with the next them I pay him. And then I sent off a message to the client letting them know and making sure it was ok to correct it with a credit on the next invoice.

      My experience with this is that “people make mistakes” and that you get bonus points for integrity if you take steps to correct them quickly – especially when its in the other person’s favor to not catch it. Its much worse if it gets caught in audit MONTHS later. (Although even then, people make mistakes).

    5. Mockingjay*

      Yep. Last month I realized I had used a wrong charge code for the week (these are issued at the beginning of the month). My supervisor didn’t catch it either; I noticed when I was starting the next week’s timesheet and selecting the codes from the dropdown. A quick chat: “hey, I used the wrong charge code last week. Can you reopen my timesheet and I’ll fix it?”

      It’s a simple mistake and entirely reasonable/normal/expected to bring up.

    6. Katie*

      Right, as long as it’s not a consistent issue, no one will hold it against someone who accidentally entered their time wrong. Mistakes happen.

    7. Software Engineer*

      Yeah I think it happens to a lot of people and it’s common not to catch it until the next time you go to enter in vacation days and your balance doesn’t look right or the ‘history’ listed doesn’t have the days. It’s definitely happened to me

      Just see if you can fix it and if your system doesn’t let you change the past you might have to request help with getting it corrected but it should be NBD

      1. londonedit*

        Yes – we don’t have timecards but there’s an internal system where you request holiday and other leave, the request is sent to your line manager, they approve it and you get an email back saying it’s been approved. It hasn’t happened to me thus far, but I can definitely imagine a situation where I’d submitted the request, my boss and I had talked about my holiday, but something went wrong with the boss clicking the button and I didn’t notice that the final ‘leave request approved’ email hadn’t come through. In that scenario I’d have happily gone on my holiday as discussed with my boss, my boss and colleagues would have known I was going on holiday, and then the next time I went to book time off I’d think hang on a minute, why is it still saying I have 23 days left when I took 5 days last month? And in that scenario I’d definitely just email HR and say looks like something’s gone wrong here, I took 5 days last month but my holiday balance hasn’t been updated. I don’t think anyone would assume I’d been trying to scam my employer.

    8. ariel*

      Yes, and you can (probably) be fired for falsifying time sheets – you should look better for speaking up, if your workplace isn’t full of bees.

    9. JustaTech*

      Yup. I’ve done this (computer glitch) and the only thing that was slightly annoying was, because it was in a previous pay period, there was an extra form to sign and scan.

    10. Lunar Caustic*

      It’s very common at my employer for two or even three pay periods to pass before vacation leave balances are updated. It freaked me out at first, but it always gets corrected. Eventually. *sigh*

  6. Tinkerbell*

    LW3, I second Alison’s answer that it really does depend on your industry. I would probably be one of those people who ask you about the stickers!…but I would also be mildly surprised to see that sort of personal expression from, say, my lawyer or my financial planner. (Ditto for if either of those people had a lot of tattoos, blue hair, a nose ring, etc.) Not because I personally would be bothered, but because I’d be surprised it hadn’t caused problems for them with other clients before.

    I’m more risk-averse than most, so if it were me I’d probably take off the spokeguards for interviews and for the first week or two of work, until I got a better idea of how strict the company is about dress and appearance. That’s just me, though, and I’m sure a lot of other people would be happily loud and proud and deal with any prejudice they might face. It’s really up to you!

    1. Tiger Snake*

      That she compares stickers to tattoos is very interesting – both because I’d have never thought to compare them that way, and because a lot of the normal advice that you might give to someone’s whose worried about tattoos (cover them up until your more confident in the culture) can’t really apply. Putting fabric wraps on the spokeguards comes with a t00 much risk of something getting caught in the wheels for it to seem like an option.

      To be honest with the LW; the wheelchair using coworkers I’ve had all had very plain chairs. I’ve never seen one with stickers.

      But they’ve all also been middle-aged men.

      Is it possible that I’d see a wheelchair user with a sticker-covered wheelchair and automatically think of them as younger (for all the good and bad that means)? Probably.

      But I also think that’s a perception the LW can afford right now.

      You can tell the younger coworkers by face just as much as their shoe choices. For now, a sticker-decorated wheelchair isn’t going to give me additional perception to things I can’t tell in other ways.
      As you go on in your career, you may decide that you want to change that – but right now the stickers make you happy and I don’t think they’re going to hurt you, so keep them.

      1. Green great dragon*

        I thought the tattoos comparison was a good one too. So treating them like that, and assuming none of them are what you’d normally think of as NSFW – for 90% of places, no problem at all. If you’re applying somewhere so conservative you’d try to cover up tattoos, maybe take off the removable ones, and leave the non-removable ones (equivalent to wearing long sleeves but not doing anything to cover up the head and neck tattoos). To some extent it’s showing you’ve made an effort to fit into the culture/showing some awareness rather than exactly where you end up.

        But in practice, I hope that almost everywhere would be fine with it, and you might not want to work for people who aren’t. I think it sounds great.

        1. Forgot My Name Again*

          I came here to say exactly this. I would be a little concerned if there were any with very obvious profanities or explicit imagery, but aside from that it should be fine. (And if it’s not fine, it’s them, not you.)

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          A lot of this will depend on their employer. I worked for a nonprofit that served young people with disabilities, saw all kinds of decorated wheelchairs and other mobility aids and nobody ever batted an eye.
          But some employers with more conservative dress codes probably would care. So this is probably something that the OP would need to suss out during the interview process.

      2. JSPA*

        Even though tattoos are far more common than they used to be, it takes a lot more time, money and pain to decorate skin than to slap a sticker on an object. Both the subject matter and the fact of having tattoos therefore implies a greater commitment and intentionality, to my mind.

        1. Wheelchair wheel covers are there for safety reasons; I would not remove them for style points.

        2. Given that only a subset of places will have negative opinions: If a place will rule you out for having a decorated chair–or for the subject matter of the decorations–are you desperate enough that it’s someplace you want to work for (or intern for) regardless, or not? If so, you could equip your guards with velcro strips, and have a friend who sews make some sort of velcro-on fabric cover, fitted precisely to the dimensions of the guards (pre-wash the fabric for shrinkage). It’s likewise possible that some sort of cling-material will stick on reversibly. But in each case, safety is paramount; something that can detach and get in your spokes is not a reasonable fix.

        3. It’s at least as likely to be a conversation starter in an interview situation as it is in the rest of life; and at least as likely to be a conversation starter as an interview-ender.

        1. miro*

          Hmm, maybe we’ve had very different experiences but I’ve never rally thought of spoke covers as being a safety thing (in my experience as a wheelchair user who has never had them on my chair). I guess that could be a function of them, but everyone I know uses them like the LW–for style purposes.

          Given that a lot of spoke covers can be attached/detached from the wheels with velcro (instead of using cable ties) I feel like it might make sense for the LW to either get some of those or add velcro to their existing ones. It seems more straightforward than making removeable covers to put on top.

          1. Wheelchair LW*

            ah yeah in my case they’re definitely just a fashion thing, I don’t have anything wrong with my hands that might make me catch my fingers in the wheels or anything. I guess for safety like if a kid tried to touch my wheelchair while I was moving the spokeguards would protect their hands, but that’s never happened to me.

            I haven’t seen any that use velcro but that might be something worth looking into, thank you for the suggestion! I found a lot of spoke guards too expensive for me so these were the cheapest ones I could find but maybe if I get a job it’ll be worth spending a bit more on one like that :)

            1. miro*

              I know that there’s one company called Izzy Wheels that does them with velcro though yes, I think those (and all the velcro ones) are more expensive than the kind you attach with cable ties. I wonder if it would be possible to super glue velcro to the back of your existing covers? You could see how Izzy Wheels does it and try to mimic that (or have someone help, obvs).

            2. OhNo*

              Fellow wheelchair user here – I actually have stickers on my wheelchair, and it’s never come up! Mine are on the back of my backrest, since I don’t use spoke guards, but they’re still plenty visible. FWIW, I work in academia.

              The only potential risk I can think of is what some folks have already mentioned: the more stickers you have, and the style of them, may make you seem young. That’s not really a problem if you are young, though it may be something to revisit in a couple years depending on your field and how things are going. I can see this being really workplace- and field-dependent!

            3. JSPA*

              Fingers, kids, dashing squirrels, scarves…

              If you’re not anywhere hilly, and if you’re guaranteed to be moving at a sedate pace and 100% in control, there’s less of a safety issue, compared to my (famously hilly) city. But even the flatest places have some manufactured dips and bumps.

              But if you asked people for first hand experience of seatbelts, bumpers etc being useful, only a modest number of people would have first-hand experience.

              For comparison, while bicycles rarely have the exact equivelent, but

              a) people should not have their hands near moving bike wheels and

              b) Commuter bikes in the sorts of places where people would wear loose clothing or scarves while biking while biking actually do commonly have a protector covering 1/2 to 2/3 of the rear wheel (plus a chain guard).

              (Reposting here, as my phone posted it as a stand- alone comment.)

      3. BethDH*

        As I think this through, I am coming to two questions:
        -do the stickers project the version of OP they want to be in the office?
        -how distracting are the stickers?

        I don’t think these are yes/no questions, more ways for OP to figure out how their wheelchair works as part of their larger identity. You mentioned seeming too young — I don’t think just having them makes someone look young, but I’m recalling a discussion about having cutesy (like Hello Kitty) notebooks at work. I’m also recalling the issues I’ve heard a lot of wheelchair users have where people try to “help” in unnecessary ways like moving their wheelchair for them. So looking young might add to that kind of problem.
        The other thing I’m thinking is just that if they are very flashy (maybe holographic or neon), OP risks it being distracting and having people talk about the stickers and their content and not about OP’s qualifications, or once they started, about work projects. That can be really frustrating. I do think this is less likely to be a problem if the wheels are fully at right angles when OP is facing someone, but could be really derailing if they have one of those sort of sporty looking ones with the angled wheels.

      4. Alanna*

        I also found it interesting, because as a non-wheelchair-user, I’d thought of them more as bumper stickers. I know a wheelchair is much more personal, but I just probably wouldn’t give the stickers much more thought. If it’s something you’re comfortable with your coworkers seeing, then I’d think it’s fine (but again, differs by industry.)

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Probably the OP should be able to tell right away at an interview if they will fly. If everyone is wearing suite jackets all day every day and everyone’s desk looks impersonal and professional, this is not the right place for it. If people have creative and cute decorations on their desk and there are some visible arm tattoos or the receptionist has fun wacky earrings or other bits of personality are allowed to bleed through, then they should be fine. I think out of all the places I’ve ever worked or interviewed only one of them wouldn’t be ok with the stickers, and that place felt super uptight, just existing in the space felt confining.

    3. Lab Boss*

      I think “blue hair” is a decent comparison. It’s not something super easy to remove or cover up, like a piercing or tattoo. It’s ultimately harmless but might be out of the norm for some conservative workplaces. In my work environment neither blue hair nor wheelchair stickers would make anyone bat an eye (with the assumption that the stickers aren’t blatantly NSFW of course). I personally wouldn’t care if my financial planner had either, but a candidate making that choice would just need to be aware it might limit their options in some fields. Of course that might be a benefit too- if the LW values that type of casual expressive culture, the stickers could help to select for a workplace where they would fit in.

      1. NYWeasel*

        I’ve interviewed before with funky hair and I look at it as part of me assessing the company fit from my perspective. If you get judgy about my hair, I’m not going to like it there. For the record, I’m in my early 50’s, and funky can mean blue hair now and then.

        LW, I think your wheelchair sounds amazing and I know people at my company would love it. So if you have enough options to select out from the companies that will look down on your flair, I say lean into it.

    4. Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein*

      Yeah, this is where I fall too. Granted, I do work in banking, which Alison rightly called out as being a very small-c conservative and buttoned up industry. I have multiple ear piercings (as a dude) and wearing small, dark-colored, unobtrusive hoops in them is probably one of the edgier looks in my office, and I did not wear any earrings at all for any of my job interviews or first few weeks on the job. Of course, earrings are much easier to remove/put back than wheelchair covers! In that context, my risk assessment for the LW would be that there is already a risk of getting discriminated against for having the wheelchair at all (as shitty as that is) so it is better not to push the envelope at all… but that is a pretty grim way of looking at things, I admit.

      So, the LW may want instead to balance how badly they need a new job vs how much they want to use the stickers on the wheelchair as a filtering mechanism for workplaces they’re likely to feel comfortable in.

      1. SongbirdT*

        Even in banking, buttoned-uppedness can vary greatly depending if you’re in a front office role or back office, or commercial / wealth vs. consumer bank, or if you’re in IT/BT, etc. One of the most casual, off-beat places I’ve ever worked was a bank call center.

        OP, I vote for keeping the stickers. People plaster them all over laptops all the time, why not a wheelchair?

    5. WomEngineer*

      If there’s an issue with the stickers, LW #3 could cover them with removable contact paper. (That’s the wallpaper-like stuff you use to line shelves. I’ve used it as a laptop decal.)

  7. Elitist Semicolon*

    LW3, I would think stickers of the kind you’re describing would be fine. Alison’s point about not expecting someone to have a separate work wheelchair (like a work wardrobe) is a good one, and besides, this doesn’t seem much different than having stickers on a water bottle or phone case. It’s personal property that you happen to use while at work; putting stickers on work property would be different.

    Recently I was at a Board meeting for my org and one of the members I’d always considered to be rather dour had a sticker on her water bottle that was something along the lines of “anxious girl in love with books.” I said, offhand, “oh, that’s me,” and she beamed and we ended up talking about what we’d read recently. Depending on the field you’re in, maybe the stickers would be a good icebreaker.

    1. AnneMoliviaColemuff*

      I think the only one I would possibly flag are the Tarot cards. You’ve got the possibility of someone who is very conservative taking them the wrong way, or someone who uses them for cultural practice disliking them being used as decoration. But those are big maybes.

      1. TROI*

        I think the compromise here would be to take them off or cover them for interviews and put them back on once you have the job, if it is possible. I like to be a neutral slate for interviews so I don’t draw attention to anything but what I’m saying as far as I can help it. It isn’t fair, but neither is interviewing.

      2. Lady_Lessa*

        I was thinking thinking the same thing about the Tarot cards, and the song lyrics depend upon what they say. Remember the LW whose trash was searched and they found some writing, not knowing they were lyrics and caused them to be talked to.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Yeah, some people pride themselves on being “sceptics” who have to aggressively attack things like Tarot cards “for the good of society”. It may not be fair or right, but they’re out there. The cost/benefit of covering them up with something more neutral in case the hiring manager is on that kick of not wanting to hire people “so lacking in critical thinking as to believe in Tarot” is something LW will have to assess for themselves.

      3. Wheelchair LW*

        I hadn’t even thought of that :0 I don’t live in a very conversative or religious area so I’ve never met anyone who actually has an issue with tarot, I do see a lot of people using similar stickers as decoration on laptops etc though. I actually use actual tarot cards myself so hopefully if anyone was upset we could talk about that :)

        A fun coincidence with the tarot cards is it was a random pack I bought online, and it came with the Chariot card, which is what my mum’s partner calls the wheelchair :) so that’s always a nice story to tell people about them

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          I consider myself a skeptic. Many years ago, did tarot card readings for other people, just for fun (I was never a believer). I would assume— unless I was told otherwise— that you have the Chariot card just because of the cool art, and because it’s your wheelchair/chariot.

        2. Nikki*

          When I was about nine, I told one of the moms at my Catholic school that I had just bought Tarot cards and she told me that Tarot cards are the work of the Devil, LOL.

          Since it’s such an obvious reference to your wheelchair on your wheelchair, I think people would be hard pressed to give you a tough time about it!

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yeah, I was going to say that as long as this is the kind of workplace where it’d be ok to have a water bottle or travel mug with these stickers on it, I don’t see why a wheelchair would be held to some more-formal standard.

      1. Cj*

        I think the key thing in your comment is as long as it is the kind of place where stickers would be okay on other items. I could imagine some conservative jobs were it wouldn’t be.

        It also might be okay to have 1 sticker on a water bottle or whatever, but not have them covered in stickers. The same would probably holds true for a wheelchair in that case.

        As a CPA, that’s where I think I would come down on this issue. I wouldn’t mind a sticker or two, but I wouldn’t want to see them on every spoke, and definitely not multiple ones on every spoke. It’s not even so much that I would personally mind, but I think there are clients that might. We sometimes still get crap from clients for being in business casual and not in suits.

    3. ScottishVix*

      I’m not a wheelchair user but a permanent crutch/rolling walker user and my crutches are covered in stickers. Often they’re animals (sometimes unicorns if my 5yo niece helps when I redecorate), books or geeky things. No one has ever commented on them except in positive way and I use them everywhere. I used them when I was made an elder in my church. I’ve used them at weddings. I’ve used them at funerals (and specifically asked family if if should remove them or get a pair of plain black ones for that). I work remotely but on Fibromyalgia awareness week a bunch of us remote mobility device users compared the stickers we have on our various devices. It’s definitely something a lot of places aren’t going to (and shouldn’t) care about

      1. Wheelchair LW*

        Ah that’s really good to hear! And especially to hear you’re not the only one even at your workplace :)

        1. ScottishVix*

          Definitely not. I know others who use plain devices but if I’m using them, I want them to reflect me just as much as my clothes or a tattoo. My crutches are bright blue and as I say covered in stickers. My walker is bright purple so you can’t miss it. I’m looking at an occasional use wheelchair having had to borrow one a couple of times and if I do it will also reflect my personality. They’re definitely a conversation starter and I love them.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      My main concern about the stickers is the way they can get banged up and dingy over time. It’s one thing to have a bright and quirky mobility device, and another to have it look like a ragged telephone pole covered with layers of garage sales signs.

      You may want to consider how your sticker collection may develop over time, and which types you continue to add and which ones you’d want to phase out or onto other items (like a back pack that you might not use while working).

      1. Phony Genius*

        There used to be a woman at my job who had magnets on her wheelchair. She could replace them easily whenever she wanted. Of course, they only stuck to the magnetic parts of the chair.

        1. JSPA*

          I didn’t read this as “the sort of dirt that you would rub off with a cloth to be clean” but as, “stickers get marred easily.” If removing the cover and putting it on again is hard–and OP says so!–then scraping off faded or scuffed decals is potentially also challenging.

    5. JustaTech*

      The stickers specifically made me think of a lot of tech companies (big and small) where almost everyone has stickers all over their laptops, partly to help differentiate *my* laptop from *your* identical laptop. Or pins and badges on your laptop bag or backpack (again because when everyone gets an identical bag from the company you want to be able to tell yours from your coworker’s.) Obviously that’s not going to be a thing with anyone’s mobility aid (esp not a wheelchair), but there is a precedent in some industries to have stickers on your stuff.

      1. Kindling*

        This is pretty prevalent at my company. Tech people have stickers on their laptops, operations people have stickers on their hardhats, lots of people have them on water bottles. As long as none of them are offensive in any way, and LW’s workplace isn’t super uptight, it should be fine. I’d even get a work-related sticker to celebrate starting the job!

  8. nnn*

    I just want to say thank you to #3 for mentioning the difference in nuance between “wheelchair user” and “in a wheelchair”. I hadn’t thought about that nuance before, but now that I have it will make my writing better.

    1. Min*

      Same. It’s something that has never occurred to me, but makes perfect sense. I’m grateful to have that explained.

    2. ND and awkward*

      It’s a distinction I’ve encountered, and “wheelchair user” feels quite natural to say. I do want to know whether there’s a similar convention around mobility scooters, though, since “mobility scooter user” sounds super clunky (and gets me a bit tongue-tied) in comparison so I tend to default to the equivalent of “[person who] uses a mobility scooter” but I don’t know if that will upset folks given how divided opinions can be on “person-first” descriptions.

      1. ND and awkward*

        By “equivalent of [person who]” I mean things like “my granddad uses a mobility scooter”, not “my granddad is a person who uses a mobility scooter”, obviously the latter is even clunkier.

        1. ecnaseener*

          That sounds totally fine to me. You’re saying that the person uses the tool (as opposed to being “bound to” it), which is the whole point.

    3. londonedit*

      Another formerly popular phrase that pops up occasionally but is important to avoid is ‘wheelchair-bound’. That has really negative connotations of being trapped or forced, whereas in fact for a great many people – as the OP says – their wheelchair is a source of freedom that gives them the ability to do much more than they would otherwise.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yes, changing terminology like this is related to person-first language, where the person does not come after the condition.

        Also, “wheel-chair” bound is not just offensive but often inaccurate. A lot of people who use wheelchairs can stand or walk short distances or use them some/most of the time but not all the time.

      2. Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein*

        Yeah, and similarly I’ve seen “full-time wheelchair user” as a preferential term over “bound” to indicate someone who needs the wheelchair for all activities, all the time, versus someone who has some degree of walking/standing capacity.

      3. JSPA*

        And then there are times when you have 30 characters or a small box on a form, and need clear, brief language to distinguish between “uses a wheelchair but can transfer in and out independently or even walk a few steps” vs “uses a wheelchair and cannot independently transit in and out to toilet or bed (or airline seat or movie seat etc) unelss and until until someone helps them transfer.”

        In that context, “wheelchair bound” is less dehumanizing than sitting for hours in your own excrement or being left on the side of the road because the situation was not made abundantly clear.

        Equivalently, it’s not rare for people get bent out of shape when others assume that their use of an assistive device means that they can’t function independently without it, at all; but the flip side is, if people don’t start at that assumption, it leads to people who are 100% dependent sometimes being 100% stranded.

        The current “how to be a good human” stance is, “assume ability and independence until someone says otherwise.” But those who are most disabled disproportionately have a harder time making that “otherwise” statement.

        1. Wheelchair LW*

          good points, thank you for sharing :) language is never going to be one size fits all

          1. JSPA*

            Not clear enough for my taste; i figure everyone in a wheelchair is depending on it to do whatever they’re doing that day. Wheelchair-bound means no more and no less than, can’t get out of it without outside intervention. Bed-bound, ditto, for the bed.

            People dripping pity and emoting over factual statements (or overstating) is an irksome thing that humans do. But I’d rather push back on the problematic attitude and the misuse or overuse of the terms, rather than 100% banning terms that serve an irreplaceable function.

    4. Wheelchair LW*

      I’m glad it was educational! :) “in a wheelchair” is definitely the phrase people are most used to (I catch myself using it too) and like I don’t get upset when people use it but yeah it’s a small shift in language that I think helps people think of wheelchairs in a more positive way. It’s also more accurate, as most wheelchair users aren’t paralysed and are able to walk/stand some :)

      Another commenter already added but ‘wheelchair bound’ is to definitely be avoided, there are wheelchair users who will use it for themselves (similar to you shouldn’t call someone ‘cr*ppled’ or a ‘cr*p’ but they might reclaim the slur themself) but in general it suggests being trapped and helpless, rather than empowered as a wheelchair actually does do!

      Anyway I don’t want to get caught up in a big language discussion but yeah glad it made sense and was helpful :)

    5. Delta Delta*

      I wanted to say this, too! I’m going to work to amend my language going forward.

    6. Lime green Pacer*

      Any of those are better than “wheelchair occupant”, which I have actually seen on signs in the local hospital. (They went up after a wheelchair user was trapped alone for hours in a malfunctioning elevator, unable to signal for help.)

  9. Dramatic Intent To Flounce*

    LW 1 – As a fellow high-risk person who got a breakthrough infection months ago, know that I am screaming on your behalf. I can’t offer much advice, just sympathy and screaming and yeah, your partner should see if there’s any ground to go to HR for this. And if your company DOESN’T have a policy for quarantining after a positive test, then see if he and his officemates can use this as grounds to push for one? Using the words ‘knowingly risked the health of employees and their family members who are at particularly high risk of bad outcomes’ might help there? (Because seriously. She KNEW, because he and the other at-risk employee both had accommodations.) Or some phrasing that highlights this is a disability issue and therefore a protected class more clearly.

    If they don’t take THAT seriously, or the manager doesn’t seem receptive, that should… probably be taken as a sign of what you can expect from this company going forward, and decide if that’s a dealbreaker for you guys.

    I wish you as much rest as you can reasonably muster for the next six to eight weeks and minimal longterm side effects.

  10. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    #3, I say leave them on. They are a great way for your interviewer to get a sense of you as a person, and that can be hard to convey in interviews. I agree about the conversation starter. If I ran into you somewhere, I would very likely start a conversation with you about one of your stickers. I’m the kind of person who talks to strangers on line at the grocery store, etc., and a sticker on a wheelchair would provide an easy a way to get started.

    1. BethDH*

      I agree, though I think there’s a particular concern at work where the stickers aren’t just a conversation starter but become the sole focus of conversation. Though it sounds like if that were the issue OP could always decide later to remove them. Probably OP already has strategies for redirecting conversations that get stuck on the wheelchair or the stickers, but they might need to do more conversation management than many early-career people feel ready to do.

      1. Wheelchair LW*

        honestly I’ve never had an issue with anyone getting stuck on the topic (there’s really not much to say beyond ‘oh nice stickers’ maybe ‘where did you get that one?’ or ‘oh I love *thing the sticker is of *’ ) but I’m pretty confident in conversations so I’m sure when I do get the occasional weirdo it’ll be okay. To be honest, there are people who will focus overly on the wheelchair regardless of how it’s decorated I think

  11. rudster*

    LW5, definitely correct the error. But I’d be more worried about the fact that I went on vacation and apparently no-one missed me (i.e., my work) or noticed I was gone. Although, with 300 hours accrued, I assume this a government agency of some kind, so anything’s possible.

    1. Allonge*

      I don’t think nobody noticed OP was gone, although their question on what the boss was thinking can be interpreted like this. Boss does not necessarily compare and contrast the leave management system with ‘who is taking care of llamas this week’ on a daily basis.

      But in any case, correct the error, OP, there is nothing to lose here.

    2. Ed123*

      That really depends on the job. I manage my own work load and I’m pretty sure I could get away with not being at work without telling anyone for quite a few days. My “work bestie” would notice and few others would just assume I was on PTO. Nobody covers my work when I’m off and I can easily go week or two without contact with my manager.
      Also could be that lw’s work noticed. They just assumed lw was on PTO and haven’t checked systems.

      1. alienor*

        Yeah, all that would happen if I was away is that people would assume I was on PTO (and since this was planned PTO, the OP probably went through the normal process of saying they’d be gone, setting up an email auto-reply, and so forth). No one but my manager would ever know whether I’d entered days in the system or not, and they wouldn’t even know unless they happened to cross-check and went “hey wasn’t she out for a week in May?”

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Odds are everyone knew the LW was on PTO. Shoot, even the LW thought they were on PTO up until recently. The boss just forgot to click “Approve” on the time system notification, but was well aware to LW was on vacation at the time.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This is my thought too – everybody knew OP was out on leave, just something went wrong/step got skipped in the timecard system and the OP’s vacation time didn’t get deducted correctly. It should be totally fixable.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Why assume no one noticed? Unless it’s a very small office it’s likely that things like holiday go via HR and aren’t something that her immediate colleagues would be checking on, especially assuming she did the usual things like letting people know she’ll be out / setting OOO on email etc.

    4. Pennyworth*

      Her co-workers would have no way of knowing that her leave application didn’t save, they would have assumed as she did that everything had proceeded as normal.

      Anyway, I’m sure there will be no problems with reporting the glitch and getting it corrected.

      When I was new to work (pre internet) my grandboss used to write out his leave applications, get them signed off by C suite (how it was done then), and head off on leave with his application left in his desk drawer. I don’t think he ever submitted his leave form to HR, and could always claim he just forgot if he was sprung. He probably retired with a huge accumulation of leave.

      1. Asenath*

        I knew co-workers who were suspected of doing that deliberately, to extend the amount of leave they had. Nothing was ever proven, but certain people, when they were asked where their leave forms were, often seemed to have forgotten them, while others were never unavailable without documented leave. It would have been very easy to go on leave without documenting it, because they were usually at a different site from the admin staff. They would explain to their on-site co-workers and bosses that they were taking a few days off, and arrange for coverage. If the admin who processed the leave forms happened to hear through the grapevine that they were away, or tried to reach them for some other reason while they were away, and asked for it when they came back, the leave form would be produced. Otherwise, no leave form, and of course, extra leave available according to the official records.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      My workplace uses an online integrated system for leave. My supervisor would approve it when I applied, and shortly before leaving, I’d check in with the group about stuff that might need to be done, and give a reminder that I’d be away. Unless they happened to check the online out of office listing while I was away, they’d have no reason to notice that my stated vacation didn’t match the official record.

      1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

        And busy people often don’t notice a lack of something coming across their desk (and this is probably an email notification, which is worse_. So “boss, I’m going to be out for a week in March” – “OK” They are gone for a week in March, boss knows and approves verbally, so all is good in boss’ mind, and it never occurs to them “hey, I didn’t click the button on the time management system this week for that vacation.”

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I had a boss who claimed she was “too busy” to deal with mundane things like approving leave in the system, so she’d let them stack up until someone would yell at her to clear her request queue (usually once a quarter). Tracking time used was extra special in that place

    6. ecnaseener*

      LW only says their boss might not have noticed, not that nobody did. But yeah, if I were their boss and found out I hadn’t noticed someone was out all day, I might wonder if I needed to pay slightly closer attention? Like I’m all for trusting your employees and treating them like adults, but still!

    7. anonymous73*

      That’s an odd assumption. Just because her vacation time didn’t save in the system doesn’t mean nobody noticed she was gone.

      1. anonymous73*

        I just went back up and read the letter, but I took the “I guess my boss assumed I was working those days” to be an exaggeration on OP’s part because it was posed as more of a question. Either way, my manager had never verified the tracking system was in line with what days I’ve taken off for vacation, so I’m not sure why OP would assume boss was unaware of her vacation days (unless there’s more to the story).

        1. Jay*

          Pretty sure my boss OKs my timecard without actually looking at it. I work irregular hours and days so it’s different every time. When I submit, the approval sometimes come through within minutes so I know he’s sitting at his computer and responding to alerts in the system. If I mis-entered something or it didn’t save, he would not go check my schedule or call me – he’d hit “approved” without noticing. Agree OP should notify HR and I don’t think this will be a big deal, since the days would have been paid anyway – they just need to take the hours out of her PTO bank.

        2. Emilia Bedelia*

          Frankly, my boss has better things to do than check our vacation tracking system. If I asked her about taking time off and she approved it, I don’t think she’d even notice whether I submitted a request or not. Perhaps OP’s office uses their system a little bit more regularly and so it’s a different situation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the boss just… forgot, or didn’t notice. I don’t think it’s shady at all for the OP to talk to HR/their boss since they just realized that the system was incorrect.

          1. londonedit*

            Yes – my boss has to click the button to approve my leave requests, but generally they just do that without question and I imagine they don’t really look too closely at the dates. We’ll have an ‘I’m about to book the week of the 25th off – there’s nothing major going on but let me know if it’ll cause a problem’ conversation, so they’re generally aware, but they often forget the exact dates in between approving my request and my week off actually happening (‘Is it next week you’re off? Or the week after?’ etc). And if you asked them for the dates of the holidays I’ve taken so far this year, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you! I can imagine the boss just signing off the timecard and assuming the information was correct – if the leave system usually works, they wouldn’t be looking out for a missing holiday as they’d assume the system would have filled in the holiday dates as usual.

          2. Elsajeni*

            Yeah, I’ve definitely had a case where I let my boss know I was leaving early, said something like “I’ll put in the leave request in a minute,” and then forgot about it for like three weeks and neither of us noticed. I knew I was out that day; he knew I was out that day; just the time tracking system didn’t know, until I happened to be in there for another reason and notice the missing half-day. I sent the late request with a note that said something like “Just realized I never actually submitted this; sorry about that, please let me know if there’s anything else I need to do since it’s for a previous pay period,” it got approved, everything was fine.

    8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’d be concerned (although of course you should still report it) that reporting it will expose a systematic error where others also have had additional days of PTO that weren’t recorded…

  12. Fancy Owl*

    LW#3: Picture yourself at work without your stickers. When you’re an intern that might be a few hours a few days a week, but when you’re full-time it will be 4-5 days a week all day. You’ll spend more time sticker-less than with your stickers on. Does that sound ok to you? If it doesn’t, then interview with the stickers on. Maybe some people will reject you over that but that’s ok. You don’t want to work for those companies anyway, if they’re going to judge you or tell you not to wear them. Internships are less of a commitment of course but I’d say interview with your stickers anywhere you hope to get a full-time job someday.

    On the other hand, if you soul search and you don’t mind not having your stickers I’d take them off for the interview. You can ask the interviewer about it, or wait until you start work and get a read on the office. Check out how people decorate their cubes/offices and take your cue from that.

    As for the stickers themselves, I’d say anything that someone could post in a cubicle at work should be ok. Depends on the stuffiness of your office but most places anything that’s not sexual, curse words, or a campaign sticker would be fine. Maybe in some offices campaign stickers would be ok too if you’re in a politically homogeneous area. They can just be really divisive, especially right now, and work isn’t really the place for political arguments.

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      I feel like you’d also want to make sure the stickers themselves were nice and tidy, none faded and half-peeled off. Pretty much make sure the wheelchair is groomed like yourself!

    2. Wheelchair LW*

      Thank you for your advice :) Yeah, as I was writing I was kind of thinking anywhere that did have an issue with non-offensive decoration that’s so important to me probably isn’t going to be a good culture fit anyway. I’m fairly certain the place I’m aiming to get an internship at currently will be okay with them (the guy I spoke to about the role has face tattoos for example) but some of the ones I’m looking at for later in the summer might be a bit more formal, I’m not sure yet

      1. ecnaseener*

        Culture fit aside, if taking the guards off is going to tire you out then it’ll keep you from doing your best work!

      2. Making up names is hard*

        I think using this as a culture litmus test is great, especially if you feel like this is something that you will want to do for a long time. When I first started work I was very concerned with appearing “too much” or not “professional,” so I stopped dying my hair teal and wore interesting but basic black business casual. This time around I took the approach of “if they don’t like this, then I don’t want to work there,” because seriously am I never going to dye my hair again? No that’s would be torture. So I kept my hair and wore to my I terview a bright red blazer and bright pink trousers. To be fair, I was interviewing for marketing roles in artsy non-profits, but some still wouldn’t have been okay with it. Luckily one was and I started last week!

        1. JustaTech*

          When I interviewed for my current job one of the pairs of interviewers was just the best possible juxtaposition of people: one woman was wearing a fisherman sweater with a tissue sticking out one sleeve, and the other had bright pink hair, lots of piercings and several visible tattoos. The best part was how comfortable they were with each other, making it clear that common thread was “nerd” and not “conservative” or “edgy”.

  13. A.N. O'Nyme*

    LW3, I agree with Alison – unless you’re applying to a company with a dress code that makes its employees look more uniform than a sports team, you’ll probably be fine. I’d mostly double-check the song lyrics to make sure they don’t sound too weird or alarming out of context.

  14. Ed123*

    #5 Obviously it is workplace dependent but my manager fixes these things all the time. Somithing about system is pending or signing in was weird. Or forgot to sign out for pto etc. and they just fix it. No big deal. Unless there is a backstory it shouldn’t be an issue. Also if your manager has approved the leave request it is possible that they haven’t checked time cards so they might not assume you were at work.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes our electronic system can glitch occasionally. When it does I submit the leave request late and put a note to say it didn’t save before so I’m resubmitting. It’s normal enough.

  15. GythaOgden*

    I’m in no way a manager or person in charge of interviewing, but I use a walking stick after a bad broken ankle. I have the glitteriest, sparkliest one I could find. It’s a means to an end — I find it cumbersome, it’s hard to put it anywhere at work where it won’t get knocked over, and I really hope I can ditch it sooner rather than later — but at the moment it’s my third leg and saves my hips from getting worn out by having to limp. It is therefore not meant to blend in with my professional environment.

    I also have a Star Wars chair cushion.

    As long as there’s no outright offensive (like, swear words) slogans on there I think you’ll be fine. My stick acts as a conversation piece, and I get a lot of help and sympathy out with it. (Seriously, I’m grateful for that. Kindness and charity beats struggling pridefully on any day of the week, particularly when I’m still in a lot of pain and need a bit of space to keep my legs from getting cramped.) I do need to move around every hour — if I sit for too long in one place, it gets hard to get up, and I walked back to someone’s car the other night just to get that exercise in the hopes that my leg might actually heal in the right positions — but mobility aids are something to embrace and honestly the more obtrusive, the less they can be ignored.

  16. Caroline Bowman*

    Op2 obviously don’t lie, that’s a path to ruin for all the reasons Alison lays out. What you could do is go back over your CV and see if – even with a little professional help – you could renovate it with *truthful* but better-sounding accounts of what you’ve done. I say this because my beloved husband, a skilled, experienced person is also strictly, brutally honest and tells every piece of info, even irrelevant stuff, even if it makes him look less desirable in the pursuit of radical honestly.

    When I – an ex-HR recruitment person – finally FINALLY managed to wrestle control of his CV and cover letters (man, oh man) from him, like magic, interviews and job offers began to trickle in. It literally was a bit of tweaking that stayed truthful, but put best face forward. Maybe your details are beautifully and presented to their best, but maybe not. It couldn’t hurt to simply relook.

    Then do speak to your manager and tell them you are feeling a bit discouraged because you see people with the same or fewer qualifications getting roles you are amply qualified for (under no circumstances name names or even hint). It’s okay to express annoyance in a professional, non-whining way. There may be paths to help you.

  17. Ed123*

    That really depends on the job. I manage my own work load and I’m pretty sure I could get away with not being at work without telling anyone for quite a few days. My “work bestie” would notice and few others would just assume I was on PTO. Nobody covers my work when I’m off and I can easily go week or two without contact with my manager.
    Also could be that lw’s work noticed. They just assumed lw was on PTO and haven’t checked systems.

  18. Agent Diane*

    LW5 – the retroactive leave thing should be fine.

    I’m more concerned that you have over 300 hours leave – that’s over seven weeks. As a manager I’d be asking you to take more of it. That’s for a heap of reasons including the cost of buying it back if/when you leave but it’s primarily because people need to take their leave for their mental health! Even if you just potter about at home or go for walks or something, that leave is there for you to take.

    1. Ana Gram*

      That’s context dependent, though. Like the OP, I carry over 300 hours of leave but I also accrue another 5 weeks/year. I always take the 5 weeks (we have a max amount of annual leave we can hold onto before it converts to sick). I wouldn’t be pleased if a manager told me how to use my leave.

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      My biggest argument in support of this accrual practice is a condemnation of other practices (admittedly specific to the US). Just about everywhere I’ve worked, it was incredibly common to accrue hours like this to cover potential long-term illness or parental leave situations. Those employers also had caps on total leave accrual. If LW is taking 4 day weekends and not writing in about burnout, I think it makes sense to assume they are managing their time off in a way that works for them.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Or another thought on this – my spouse is currently sitting on about 200 hours of accrued leave in addition to what they will earn this year. Why, because they earn more time than I do – and both of us believe in holding a little bit back in reserve for emergencies. Over the course of a decade that extra has added up.

      I earn about two and a half weeks, spouse earns three and a half weeks – and as a family we tend to take about two weeks off through the course of the year. And yes, they will get paid out for all that accrual when they leave, so accrual caps out at 300 hours.

      Both of us are also fortunate to work places that give sick separate from annual – and we can accumulate sick time indefinitely. There are other things about our jobs that aren’t as good – but at least the leave policies are very good.

  19. Sick of it*

    Uuurggh No.1 my manager did the same thing. She came to work super unwell with all the classic symptoms but assured us she didn’t need to test as she often got a cough this time of year. It’s a super busy period at work so it’s been all hands on deck. Then a coworker’s wife tested positive and our manager advised them not to get tested until the busy period ended. Surprise surprise a bunch of people got sick and had to stay home, which made the work levels even worse!
    I’m so over ignoring Covid. Let me go back to working from home or let’s at least stay home if we’re unwell…

    1. Emmy Noether*

      So, she didn’t need to test because she has a habit of coming in contagious during a busy period, and she doesn’t care if this time it’s Covid or the traditional flu or common cold… uuurggh would also be my reaction!

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I hope that the whole Covid experience will increase acceptance for spontaneous WFH and masks for any kind of contagious respiratory disease. I’m not hugely optimistic, but we’ll see.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          Also wanted to add that long Covid is a concern in addition to morbidity. Vaccines help, but it’s still a risk.

        3. Perfectly Particular*

          Prior to COVID, this was just not possible in a lot of US jobs. Even now, I think the max acceptable time to (unexpectedly) WFH would be about a week. If you have symptoms beyond that, the expectation would be to get them under control as best you can with OTC medication and get back to work.

      1. rr*

        My boss had gone to a national convention at the height of omicron. Came back to the office with hacking cough. Scheduled a test for covid that Friday (how do I know? He left the fax about it on the machine) but didn’t even mask. I tested postitive for covid 2 days later before a very necessary procedure that had to be put off.

        He claims that he didn’t test positive (though I have my doubts) but even if he didn’t (and apparently he either isn’t familiar with the idea that a negative test only means you are negative at that moment or doesn’t want to acknowledge it) who comes to work thinking they have covid and doesn’t even mask? That would be my boss. Who owns the company. Where there is no hr. And he continued to come into work the following week, as far as I know, still unmasked.

        I should look at the article link Allison provided, but will have to do that later. But I think, as always, the problem is proof. But no, I don’t think my boss provided, or even made any attempt, to provide a safe working environment. But my employer lies, so if I tried to sue, I’m sure they would again (they lied to me about so many things about returning to the office and they also regularly lie about unemployment claims).

        1. allathian*

          Ugh, I’m sorry, but your boss is a jerk. Covid is particularly insidious, because the incubation period can be anything between 1 and 14 days after exposure, and you can be completely asymptomatic and spread it, or even if you get sick, you can spread it before you show any symptoms.

      2. Julia*

        A generous reading would be she often has allergies which gives her a cough. I’m in that situation and it has been difficult. I 100% understand why people are concerned when I have a bad cough and why they are hesitant to believe me when I say it’s allergies.

        I’m also a person who wears masks and am extra vigilant during allergy season to check if my symptoms might be an illness.

        1. pancakes*

          Why wouldn’t she get tested, though? I didn’t used to have bad seasonal allergies, but they seem to be getting worse as I get older. When I’ve been unclear on whether I’m experiencing allergy symptoms or Covid, I’ve gotten a test. I worked from home before the pandemic but I still need to know whether I should be isolating. People are much too comfortable being careless about themselves and others.

          1. Julia*

            No idea why she wouldn’t get tested. I was more thinking about the coming to work with a cold possibility. Again being very generous.

    2. Observer*

      Then a coworker’s wife tested positive and our manager advised them not to get tested until the busy period ended

      That is unconscionable AND utterly stupid!

  20. Dr jsmth House*

    LW3: How about explicitly addressing the decorated wheelchair in interview as a dress code question? So, turning up with it looking nice (i.e. colourful, attractive, an expression of your personal style, a statement of Disabled pride not shame), but then when they invite questions, checking whether it’s ok at is (which they will probably say it is if asked outright) or whether their dress code would require you to decorate it differently and if so, how (e.g. shiny paint job in your favourite colour?). This would indicate to any particularly conservative types that you are aware that some might take issue with it and are open to discussion, hopefully assuaging any weird reactions.
    And it may actually help with some panels: people most certainly have some negative biases against Disabled candidates/employees, and that plain institutional grey that many mobility aids come in also sends a message of its own which is not as neutral as one might think. Unfortunately some of the general public will have implicit negative associations that your decorations will disrupt positively.
    NB Am not a wheelchair user but an owner of several different coloured & patterned canes, and 2 pairs of crutches, one yellow and one glittery silver. Like your decorated chair, they also often act as an icebreaker.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, the boring gray standard for mobility aids is like black for fat people. When I was still feeling low about being fat, I wore black almost exclusively to the point that people thought I was grieving. I still prefer black pants/jeans, but now I wear colorful, patterned tops to go with them, with matching socks when possible, gray or black socks otherwise. Our dress code is casual, jeans and even hoodies are fine, band T-shirts would probably get a raised eyebrow from some people.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      You’re absolutely right. That institutional gray design can subconsciously read as “this is a depressing and serious thing that should be noticed as little as possible!” Also, I’m of the opinion that all objects of (near) daily use should be as pleasing to the eye of their user as possible within the constraints of function and cost, because why the hell not?

      Maybe a good comparison would be glasses. Expressions of personal style are fairly accepted for those.

      1. Wheelchair LW*

        When I used hospital style grey crutches I got a lot more comments about like ‘oh what happened?’ I think those ones look less pernament and so people think it’s more likely to be a short term injury or something maybe? But yeah, tbh there’s enough sucky stuff about being disabled, we shouldn’t be also sentenced to a lifetime to dull grey too XD

      2. Erin*

        I remember riding in a cab with a new friend, looking at her, and commenting “I really like your hearing aid!”, which was decorative and pretty.

        And it’s nice that my first implicit realisation that she had a disability was wrapped up and delivered through a sincere compliment.

      3. Lee*

        I think the glasses comparison is the best so far because it acknowledges the issue of access to the workplace. It would be out of line for an employer to tell someone what color glasses they can wear or what their hearing aid could look like so there *shouldn’t* be any issues with wheelchair stickers. If there was an occasion where personality wasn’t allowed*, I would put the responsibility on the employer to cover the cost of spoke covers.

        *On occasion we have very important global visitors come to our office and we’re all told to be on their best behavior in terms of dress code…but we didn’t ask our receptionist to change her rainbow hair or ask anyone to take out their nose rings or to cover their tattoos. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be an expectation for someone with a disability to blend in more than their peers.

    3. Wheelchair LW*

      thank you, I really appreciate the time replying! It’s especially great to hear from someone else with mobility aids. That sounds like a good way to raise it. I don’t think anywhere I’ve applied to yet are too conservative but I don’t know where I’ll be in the future so I wanted to give it a proper think already

    4. Nightengale*

      I starting using a cane in med school, a plain black one ordered by my doctor. And my classmates all stared at it and no one said anything about it, so I called it the Elephant in the Room and attached a toy elephant to it.

      I did get a few negative comments, largely from administration who wanted me to be quiet about my disability
      I also got a lot of positive comments from patients

      Ultimately the Elephant got worn and also I didn’t want people to make political assumptions about it.
      Now I have a pink flowerdy cane from CVS.

      Many of my wheelchair-using friends have stickers – those who work largely work in less formal settings where others have similar stickers on their computers, water bottles, buttons on backpacks, etc.

      It’s impossible in most cases to tease out what might be a negative attitude about mobility devices, a negative attitude about the decorations themselves, and a negative attitude about having the gall to DECORATE and CALL ATTENTION to a mobility device.

        1. Nightengale*

          Emmy Noether taught at my alma mater, is buried there, and rumored to haunt campus as the “Unhappy Mathematician”

          1. Emmy Noether*

            She was one of the first female students to obtain a doctorate at my alma mater, which is the reason I chose the name. And my favorite theorem is named after her.

      1. Wheelchair LW*

        I actually used to be a med student until I had to quit because they wouldn’t accomodate my disability :( I’m glad you were able to make a go of it, I’m sure the patients really appreciate you! I love the elephant idea that’s so funny :)

        1. Nightengale*

          Med school was tough physically – I couldn’t handwrite or do a lot of procedures – and full of ableism. I graduated in 2007, so not really that long ago. Now I specialize in caring for kids with developmental disabilities. There aren’t any procedures in my field, no one handwrites anymore, and I’m able to use my strengths, including my disability cultural identity.

          One of the things I am working on is making medical education less ableist. It’s a work in progress, a lot of programs are still pretty bad but there is some positive change happening in others and some national initiatives taking hold. The AAMC did a report a few years ago about the experiences of disabled medical students and doctors, and people who don’t listen to a few disabled troublemakers do listen to the AAMC. Too late to have made things better for me or feasible for you, but hope for the next generation. Disabled patients deserve to have more disabled health care providers – doctors, also nurses, therapists, social workers, etc.

  21. Yellow*

    LW3 I think it really depends on your industry and the dress code. When interviewing it’s a good idea to be slightly more formal than the expected dress code.

    In my industry your wheelchair decoration would be fine. But I could see it being problematic in some roles. I don’t know if I’m forming an accurate picture in my head of what these decorations look like – but I can certainly imagine options that would not work in some environments, and even where permitted would leave an unfavourable impression.

    Given it is a wheelchair I think you have to expect that people may feel less comfortable giving you a heads up if it is giving an unfavourable impression.

    Really you have two options – have the decorations removed for interviews and potentially while in the role (as an internship it’s likely not for long), or decide that the decorations are part of your look and you don’t want to work somewhere that would require you to remove them, so interview with them and know that anywhere that isn’t welcoming of them isn’ta place you want to work anyway.

    1. EMP*

      LW3, the only thing I want to add to the discussion is even working in a very casual office there’s an expectation that you “dress up” for interviews. If you don’t want to take the stickered guards off for interviews I would make the effort to dress extra neatly otherwise. Just to project an air of, “I know what business dress is and can present myself like this if necessary”, even if it won’t be needed day to day in your field.

  22. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I’m inclined to think of OP #3’s situation with an analogy.

    Lots of people decorate their laptops with stickers (especially if it’s a BYOD start-up or similar tech-heavy environment). As long as they aren’t vulgar or ratty, they quickly fade into the background, and nobody really notices when Wakeen gets a new heavy metal band logo on his MacBook.

    Another thing to consider – most of those stickers won’t be that visible when OP is face-to-face with a coworker.

    1. Wheelchair LW*

      Oh that might be a good way to explain it to anyone who does have questions or anything, thank you :) and yeah that’s true, you actually have to crouch on the ground next to me to get a proper look at the stickers. I have a classmate who I sat next to for months and months and then one day she was like ‘oh did you change your stickers?’ and I hadn’t, it turned out that in all that time she’d never seen me from the left side so hadn’t seen those stickers before XD

      1. JustKnope*

        I totally agree with the laptop analogy! I work in pharma which leans more conservative and I have a bunch of stickers on my laptop (pride flags, BLM, yoga with Adriene) and nobody bats an eye at them. Rock on with your cool decorations! :)

    2. drpuma*

      Strongly concur with this last point. To me, the wheel stickers are NOT comparable to a band t-shirt, face piercing, unnatural hair color etc because they’re so low to the ground. I think of them as more like a candidate interviewing in a suit and then when they’re on their way out the door you notice they’re wearing colorful platform shoes. It sounds like none of your stickers are explicitly political – even then, I’d suggest covering them up with more stickers rather than getting new wheel guards entirely.

    3. acmx*

      Yes, this is what I was thinking (as I have some stickers to put on my work ipad). Both points. Also, pilots have stickers on their flight bags and mechanics have them on their toolboxes.

      They’re like accessories. Colorful tie, necklace, scarf etc.

  23. Other Alice*

    #1, I hope you don’t have any long lasting effects. Your partner’s manager is an ass. Unfortunately you might have to assume the worst case scenario that the company will not do anything. Mine did nothing when my grandboss came into the office knowing he was positive and another team was infected. Twice. I work for a different company now.

  24. M2*

    1- the manager should be fired. End of story. We all know quarantine rules and guidelines and if you know and intentionally put people at risk you should not only be fired but liable in my opinion.

    1. ijustworkhere*

      I agree. This would be a firing offense in my workplace—codified in policy too by the way. We are still required to report a positive covid test and are still getting phone calls regularly from a medical professional to track our progress and answer questions. Even small companies know or should know what the CDC recommendations are and should require people to follow them.

  25. EventPlannerGal*

    The only thing I would potentially flag for OP3 is that (speaking as someone who loves to decorate with stickers!) they can get a bit tatty and worn quite quickly, especially if they’re on something that gets a lot of use. On a wheelchair I’m guessing that things like rain, mud splashes etc might be an issue as well since it probably gets more exposure to the elements than laptops/water bottles/other frequently bestickered items. I agree with Alison that they shouldn’t be an issue – it sounds really cool and I’d probably be one of the people asking you about them! – but if you’re unsure how they’ll be received it might help if you have a quick check and remove any especially worn ones. Good luck with the internships!

    1. Wheelchair LW*

      Thank you! I tend to get a lot of vinyl ones so they’re a bit more durable, I think it’s mostly looking good for now but I’ll keep an eye on it for future!

  26. Purple Cat*

    I’m so frustrated that LW3 is still a question, it’s 2022 for crying out loud. Your wheelchair is an extension of yourself and you should decorate it in a manner that is pleasing to you – avoiding violence, sex and drugs. Some people would tell you to avoid anything pride related too, but I completely disagree – note I have many more years experience and financial stability so I can very much afford to turn down plenty of jobs. It’s helpful to weed out the people you don’t actually want to work for.

    1. Wheelchair LW*

      The pride stuff is pretty subtle and I wouldn’t want to remove it anyway (also I’m noticeably a butch lesbian lmao they’re going to be able to tell anyway just from showing up in a suit) but yeah, reading these replies and thinking about it, if I’m not desperate it seems like culture fit is really important and anywhere that had an issue with them wouldn’t be a good fit anyway. And hopefully I’ll be in a similar position to you someday and able to be selective with it!

    2. Cj*

      In 2022, there are still some jobs where you wouldbe required to cover your tattoos, remove your piercings and dye your hair back to a natural color. It may be a particular company or hiring manager, and if you want want to work for them in that case then go to the interview like you would anywhere else.

      However, in some cases it’s an entire industry or at least a segment of an industry has these restrictions. No matter how much you or I or the letter writer disagree with them, if you want to work in one of these industries, you’re going to have to present yourself the way they expect you to.

      It sounds like the letter writer does have options to change them easily, they just can’t afford them right now. If they work in one of these conservative industries, maybe they would have to take this spoke covers off for now, and would hopefully be able to afford them soon once they are working.

    3. Yellow*

      It’s still a question because workplaces still have dress codes. And personally I think dress codes serve a valid place in business (as an idea, not all dress codes are good). The decorations are not an essential component to the wheelchair – there is no reason for a company to accept them any more than any other optional part of someone’s appearance. The role and industry do need to be considered.

      I can think of many roles and industries where the stickers would be blatantly inappropriate. I’m just assuming LW isn’t looking at those industries, or the letter would likely read differently.

  27. Ewesername*

    Fellow wheelchair user here. I wouldn’t worry too much about your stickers. My chair is highly decorated (as are my canes) and it hasn’t held me back much. (I’m an Ops manager for a bank) The one time it came up negatively in an interview, I’d already gotten the impression that the job wasn’t for me – their attitude just confirmed it. Your chair is an extension of your body, style it as you see fit. As long as your stickers aren’t defamatory, you’re good.

    1. Wheelchair LW*

      ah that’s so great to hear! Really encouraging :D thank you for sharing!

  28. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*


    Some managers have the attitude of “It’s not my job to tell you. It’s your job to know.” That usually applies only to work-related tasks, but here it is in the context of employee health.

  29. ijustworkhere*

    #5–your payroll department and your manager will probably applaud you for your honesty. It is not as uncommon as you might think–people often don’t look at their pay stubs regularly and, if anyone asks, tell them you just noticed it and you want to be sure it gets corrected.

  30. Long hauler*

    LW1: Just want to reiterate that this is an issue for EVERYONE. Long Covid is very real and has debilitated lots of people who were not high risk, and who had mild or asymptomatic cases. I’m so sorry. Document everything, including telling your doctor (partner too). Illness is expensive and you want to make sure your insurance covers you. Your partner should go to the doctor and tick the box that asks if they were injured on the job. I hope people start suing. The best bet is for a big insurance company to sue a company over having to foot some very big bills. Mostly, though, I just hope you’re ok.

  31. Oakwood*

    “the role I wanted to transfer to is likely going to change substantially from what I thought it would be”

    It’s no more complicated than this. Simply tell the hiring manager you were interested in the job with the old duties, but you are not interested in the job with the new, changed duties.

    How many times have you heard stories of someone taking a job and finding out it was different than described.

  32. anonymous73*

    #2 I would advise you to stop considering making big decisions based on what everyone else is doing. Doing something that you know is wrong just because you think you can get away with it is how a lot of politicians operate. I’ve worked with plenty of people who seem to go from great job to great job because they’re an excellent bullshit artist. But not only do I not want to get a job that way, I don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t sd it’s due diligence and hires unqualified candidates because they talk a good game.

  33. GingerSheep*

    LW3 – Wheelchair user : I agree that your stickers should be fine in most places, with the caveat that they are clean and not torn. My student uses permanent crutches that are highly decorated with stickers, and they are torn, half peeling off and generally grimy, and I am always a bit squicked out by them, and would recommend that she clean up her crutches once she graduates and enters the professional world. I do want to insist that the issue for me is not the stickers, but their state of disrepair.

  34. Oakwood*

    “but a wheelchair feels different (in part because you can’t be expected to have a separate wheelchair for work).”

    This is exactly what I was going to suggest: get another wheelchair for work and formal occasions. If you attended a wedding, funeral, formal dinner, the opera, or other formal even you’d wear formal clothing. Think of your wheelchair as part of your wardrobe.

    I know wheelchairs are expensive (upwards of $2k from what I see), but it’s an item you use everyday. I’ve always had the rule that you splurge on the things you use everyday and cut corners on the things you don’t.

    You said you had difficulty removing and reapplying the spoke covers. You may also want to see if there spoke covers that are easier to get on and off.

    I’m obviously falling on the “there are times to look professional and times to look casual” side of the debate.

    People are going to cut you slack because you are in a wheelchair, but there’s no denying you’ll run into prejudice. There are still plenty of people who think wheelchair equals not up to the job. It may not be right, but you’re going to have to be more professional than the next guy to overcome that prejudice.

    I know that’s frustrating to hear, but while you are changing the world you still have to live in it.

    1. miro*

      There are spoke covers that velcro on/off for ease of use (I’ve never bought them for my chair but I’ve seen them around) so that might be worth the LW looking into.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Did you seriously just suggest for LW to get an ADDITIONAL wheelchair? As if it’s not incredibly expensive and time-consuming to do so? Holy ablist response.

    3. Wheelchair LW*

      WOW you want me to drop £4k on another chair?? as your first response? wild lmao. im wheezing :’)

    4. bamcheeks*

      A specialised active-user wheelchair tailored to the user’s needs is probably more like $3-6k– if you can cut a few corners to afford two of them, you’re in a wealth bracket which is not accessible to most people.

    5. Similarly Situated*

      I don’t know about you but when I was a student there is no way I would have been able to afford to splurge on anything, let alone something medically necessary. I don’t think this is great advice at all, even if OP could afford the additional expense.

    6. Julia*

      I think the complication is that a wheelchair can be closer to an extension of the body not clothes. So wheelchair decorations might be closer to something like colored hair or tattoos, etc. Wheelchairs are also expensive.

      On the one hand, conservative fields have more strict standards about grooming in general. Brightly colored hair and visible tattoos would also be looked down upon. A business wardrobe can be expensive and it’s even more expensive to get business clothes that are adapted to fit wheelchair users. For instance blazers need to be cut differently to fit smoothly when seated. $450 for a blazer vs $200.* Other types of business clothes don’t have quite as sharp price gap. Adaptive dress pants $150 vs $100 regular pants. Some items won’t need to be specifically designed for wheelchair users.

      I’m not a wheelchair user and I’m there are more complications here. I’m just thinking about the cost of business clothing.

      *assuming a blazer is $200 which I estimated off Ann Taylor and Macy’s. The cost of an adaptive blazer is based off

    7. Minimal Pear*

      Wheelchairs are significantly more expensive than that. Some can run $30k and beyond. It sounds like OP is using a manual chair, which might be a cheaper, but with add-ons and the necessary customization to avoid injury, things can get pricey unless you have great insurance, the good luck to get a secondhand one that works well, etc.
      Additionally, insurance often won’t cover another chair for about five years after you’ve gotten the previous one. I’m getting the impression OP may not be American, but my understanding is that there are a lot of barriers in many countries, and people often have to fundraise to get new chairs that actually fit their needs. When you tell OP to get a “formal chair” that’s really more like telling them to get a “formal car” to use when they’re going to fancy events. Storage space is also an issue. Additionally, disabled people have a high rate of poverty, and disability benefits (at least in the US) often don’t let you save enough money to buy a decent wheelchair.
      This comment feels incredibly out of touch. I’m sure this is feasible for some people, but I know I wouldn’t be able to do it if I needed to use a wheelchair more than I do now! (Infrequently, so I rent.)

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yep! in the UK things are just as bad. We bought a very very basic one for my husband when he started fading from his illness and needing some kind of assistance. A chair in which he could be literally pushed around was £100. One he could wheel around was more than that. A highly specialised one…I doubt LW would get one as cheaply as she could get a new jacket. I used hubby’s old chair after I broke my ankle but it was only suitable for being pushed around in and going to and from the bathroom and kitchen in my mum’s house.

        Not sure what the NHS would grant people who needed one after an injury or for a long term condition but I work in an office that houses a team involved in medical equipment and wheelchairs are severely rationed and can be hard to get. I’ve heard that the Red Cross often steps in to provide what the NHS can’t, and hence there’s a long waiting list.

        A £10 walking stick can be had easily and cheaply if it were really necessary for a more formal occasion, although I’ve used mine at a funeral and not had a problem; I’d hope people were more focused on my Auntie Carol rather than my cane. I got to keep the boot I had after breaking my ankle, because they said it wouldn’t be hygienic to reuse it. The medical equipment team for my own locality (not the one I work with) has been lackadaisical at taking back the equipment (crutches and a commode) I’ve been using.

        But really, wheelchairs are not in the same league and whichever healthcare system you’re in, you’re not going to get multiples in the manner suggested!

        Definitely out of touch.

    8. RagingADHD*

      It’s bizarre that you’d jump to “get a second wheelchair” before “get a second set of spoke covers.”

      Are you one of those people who throws away all their dishes and buys new instead of washing them?

    9. Emmy Noether*

      Different sets of spoke covers could be an idea (and could even be fun), provided there are some that are easy to change and not too expensive. But a whole different chair? Just for appearance*? Yeah, I don’t think that’s reasonable unless the formal clothing to go with it is – naturally – Prada or Armani.

      *I could see different chairs for different uses. Like, functionally different, for sports or terrain or travel or whatever.

      1. Observer*

        *I could see different chairs for different uses. Like, functionally different, for sports or terrain or travel or whatever.

        Exactly. Actual functional differences are the only place where this suggestion would make any sense.

    10. Observer*

      This is exactly what I was going to suggest: get another wheelchair for work and formal occasions. If you attended a wedding, funeral, formal dinner, the opera, or other formal even you’d wear formal clothing. Think of your wheelchair as part of your wardrobe.

      I know wheelchairs are expensive (upwards of $2k from what I see), but it’s an item you use everyday. I’ve always had the rule that you splurge on the things you use everyday and cut corners on the things you don’t.

      Is this for real or is this a troll? Expecting someone to spend UPWARDS OF$2K so that they can be “more formal” at work? That’s ridiculous.

    11. Aggresuko*

      I’m going to politely assume this person doesn’t know what wheelchairs cost or how hard it can be to get them. Real life is not that episode of Glee with the wheelchair dancing where he got them on sale in bulk from a nursing home.
      (Though ironically, I have found out that that sort of thing is doable for walker dances.)

    12. Ewesername*

      Please, for the love of the people around you, never suggest this again. Mobility equipment is generally fitted to the person using it, especially if they will be a long term user. As such, it can be prohibitively expensive to have a second. (This is why we genuinely freak out if an airline damages our equipment. We can’t just go on Amazon and order a new one).
      The statement that “people will cut you slack because you’re in a wheelchair” is jaw dropping. Would you say that to someone wearing glasses? Hearing aids? No. You wouldn’t. Mobility equipment is no different.
      Your comment is wildly inappropriate and offensive to the disabled community.

      1. Observer*

        Would you say that to someone wearing glasses? Hearing aids? No. You wouldn’t.

        Oh yes they would. Or worse.

        People say the most inappropriate things! The reality is that the suggestion here is beyond absurd and inappropriate. And the reasoning sounds willfully ignorant to me. But it sounds like the kind of garbage that gets handed out all. the. time. to people who have some sort of handicap, real or perceived. Which doesn’t make this any better.

      2. Eyes Kiwami*

        Haha this is a great comparison–someone wants to get fun colorful glasses frames. You wouldn’t recommend someone get another pair of glasses for work, weddings, and funerals!

        1. Yellow*

          Um – I would suggest someone have a second pair of glasses. In some industries the dress code is very specific and quite restrictive. Sometimes there’s safety retirements that influence dress codes and mean you’re wearing stuff you don’t really like.

          If you have the resources, having workwear and personal wear is a perfectly good suggestion. Many people have different clothing for work and not work. There’s nothing wrong with suggesting someone buy a second pair of glasses so they don’t have to wear their boring work appropriate ones all the time. Having had to wear horribly ugly safety compliant glasses with past work I can assure you I owned a second pair.

          Wheelchairs are usually much more expensive than glasses, so a much much smaller cohort of people would have the financial resources to do this. It’s still a perfectly acceptable option if someone needs reserved decor for their work day.

          Assuming LW had the money for this option is silly (that’s not a small amount of disposable income). But using a wheelchair certainly doesn’t mean LW does not now and will not in the future have those financial resources.

    13. Tinker*

      I’d like to go a little out on a limb here and suggest that while there is some merit in spending a bit on things one is likely to use every day, for most 22-year-old interns “formal wheelchair to use when one attends the opera” isn’t going to be one of those things.

      If I’m wrong, of course, feel free to direct your personal secretary to correct me.

  35. miro*

    #3 – I’m a wheelchair user and have a fairly colorful chair (no stickers or decorations, just a bright/unusual paint color) and I get SO MANY COMMENTS on it. It’s usually positive stuff, but the vast quantity/frequency of them is exhausting all the same. I’m sure I would still get comments about my chair if it were more subdued, but I do wonder if something about the bright color makes people feel like I’m inviting comments (since that’s often part of what people comment on). I work in public service and so often people come up to me and I’m all ready to help them with something related to the work I actually do… and then it’s just another question about my chair.

    I bring this up because, separate from the question of professionalism, it might be worth considering the mental toll it could (or could not) take on you to have endless questions and comments about the stickers on your chair.

    Some things to note: in my case I’ve always been disabled so maybe my tolerance for this stuff is lower than you (it seems like people newer to using a chair or who have become disabled later in life–and so maybe had more of a chance to develop an early identity outside of being disabled–are sometimes more up for chatting about it, in which case this may all be irrelevant to you). Also, working somewhere like I do when I’m interacting with hundreds of different strangers is going to be different from an office environment where you’re interacting with a few familiar people.

    1. Wheelchair LW*

      thank you, that’s a really interesting side to hear about it and not something I’d really considered. I appreciate you sharing! It’s not at the point of being a mental toll yet in that way but I will keep it in mind when I see how I do in the future :)

    2. Minimal Pear*

      I feel this, back when I was using canes more often I got SO many comments even though they were just, like, a nice-but-not-very-interesting print. It really started to feel like people just wanted to be like “HEY YOU’RE USING A CANE I NOTICED THAT IT’S A CANE, THAT YOU’RE USING RIGHT THERE.”

  36. She of Many Hats*

    LW 1 – HR needs to drive it home that not taking covid exposure seriously and not isolating is a problem and one of the consequences that *will* affect employees is the affordability of healthcare insurance they can offer employees because we all know that insurance companies will be raising the costs because Covid and with more employees (and dependents) who may have long covid, the more demands will be placed on insurance and insurance providers will make it more restrictive to access care.

  37. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    LW#3 – I’m in the military, which is pretty conservative, and if you came to work using a chair covered in stickers I would think that was extremely awesome!

  38. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-Don’t do it. Why? Because one day you might be interviewed by a colleague who knows exactly what you did and did not do and your chances will be completely shot. A few years ago I was on a hiring panel and my former colleague turned boss applied and made it to the phone screen. I did immediately disclose my connection to the hiring committee. I also immediately shared all the overblown and outright incorrect information on that resume. I knew it was incorrect because they were claiming things that I had done…and I had the receipts to prove it.

    1. Johanna Cabal*

      And LW indicated they’re in a niche field which would make lying worse. Not good to get a reputation as a liar among a small group of employers.

  39. Hiring Mgr*

    While it’s never a good idea to lie on a resume, in reality there are degrees of this where some things are more likely to come back to bite you.

    If you completely invent a title, certification, or accomplishment, or alter the dates of employment etc..that’s something that could easily get found out… However if you claim that your XYZ initiative resulted in a 100% increase in revenue, but actually it was only 86%, well that type of thing most likely would go unnoticed.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I didn’t mean it as advice, just reality (in my experience).. I would never advise anyone to lie about anything

        1. pancakes*

          Is it just reality, in your experience, that hiring managers don’t check up on claims of that nature? That seems overly-credulous to me, particularly where a candidate is claiming to have doubled revenue, but it would explain a lot.

          1. Aggresuko*

            I presumed they meant that it’s easier to verify someone’s degree or credential rather than internal work stuff.

  40. MCMonkeyBean*

    I feel like the closest comparison I can think of for the impression the stickers might leave lies somewhere in between stickers on a car and tattoos, just in the way Alison mentioned where you would have them every day and can’t really change that without a lot of effort. As long as nothing on them is offensive I can’t imagine most places would care. It might give off a bit of a “young” impression just because I think a lot of people still associate stickers with kids, though I think they have been pretty popular with adults in recent years. I think if I were in that situation, I would leave the stickers but just make sure to dress and style myself super professionally for the interview (which is probably already your plan!)

    1. Wheelchair LW*

      I’m 22 so pretty young anyway not much I can do there haha, but I love to dress smartly (like I wear waistcoats and blazers for fun anyway) so I’m hopefully set there :)

  41. Erin*

    Wheelchair user: unless you work in a very conservative field, please keep your stickers! They sound awesome!

    Also, a co-worker of mine has a tattoo on her arm of Tool lyrics. We were working on something together one day (pre-pandemic) and she took off her jacket, and I saw her tattoo. Being a huge Tool fan, I pointed to her arm, and we both kind of rocked out for a moment. It was a great point of connection for us, and have become friends! So cool!

  42. JelloStapler*

    OP5- actually I would counter that it would look shadier if you didn’t correct it, since it may come off that you were trying to not apply PTO when you were out.

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

    Wow there are so many good letters this morning!
    #1 Please speak with the other employees who were impacted by your boss’s actions and together speak with HR. This is wrong on so many fronts and I hope something can come of it
    #2 Don’t lie. For one thing you don’t know specifically what/if the other person lied. Just because you were told the other person has X when you “know” they don’t have X doesn’t mean that’s the truth. We often times here how hiring managers will make up a white lie to let someone down easily. Maybe it was that they didn’t want to hurt your feelings so they said X or maybe its something like the other person has more influence and so they got the job. IF YOU LIE IT WILL BITE YOU IN THE BUT!
    #3. Keep the stickers. As long as nothing is especially offensive like a nude picture or something. Or if you are applying and have a sticker of the company’s main competition you might want to take that one off. But if they have a problem with you stickers that’s a them problem and probably isn’t someplace you want to work.
    #4 I dont have anything to add, just talk to your boss or whomever is in charge of the new roll to verify if it is changing.
    #5 This has happened to me before and it’s not a big deal. Just contact HR and explain that there was an issue when you submitted your vacation and can they deduct the hours from your vacation. It will actually look good because you are being proactive and not leaving it.

    I hope everyone can update!

    1. You don't know what you don't know*

      I have the same though about LW2 – how do they know for sure these other candidates lied? Did they see their resumes? Do they know every single job they’ve held in their careers? Sure maybe some are lying or embellishing but it’s also very probable that LW doesn’t know their entire work history and is making assumptions.

  44. Observer*

    #5 – I’m not sure why it would look shady to go back to HR and say that you realized that your vacation time never registered. It’s not like you are asking for extra time. What am I missing here?

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

      I think that the OP is worried that HR will think they tried to pass off vacation as actually working and is now changing it because they either got caught or are afraid of being caught. But OP is overthinking it unless they have knowledge of HR overreacting to things like this.

  45. lilsheba*

    #5 — your stickers sound cool as hell and I wish I had some! I love tarot and Star Trek also. You express you and be proud of it, anyone who has an issue with it needs to get over themselves.

  46. Zephy*

    OP1 – you’ve gotten plenty of good advice already, so consider this one more voice horrified on your behalf with hopes for a swift recovery.

    OP3 – if getting the spokeguards on and off by yourself is difficult, what about covering them temporarily somehow? I’m thinking of this as analogous to taking out a nose ring or wearing long pants/sleeves to cover tattoos, just for an interview. Like with a stretchy piece of fabric similar to a book cover, or something like one of those drawstring makeup/toy bags that un-scrunches into a flat circular mat and then you just pull in the drawstring to gather everything back into a bag again. I am not a wheelchair user, nor do I deal with chronic fatigue, so I fully admit to ignorance about the feasibility of something like this, feel free to disregard if it’s fully unworkable for you. I do think that (1) your stickers are probably cool as hell, because you also sound cool as hell, and (2) having the stickers on display might be a useful way to filter out employers that would give you shit about the wheelchair and/or your gender identity and presentation, anyway, although I also understand not everyone has the luxury of being able to limit their job prospects in this way.

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

      So I don’t know where you are going with covering the stickers? It sounds to me like the OP has the stickers on the wheelchair spokeguard. I had to look it up but the spokeguard is a covering for the inside of the wheel. Google search “WheelChair SpokeGuard Covering” and you will see what it is. If you think of it like a bicycle the the part that had the spokes where as a kid you might pined a card.

      This is already a stretchy or plastic material that covers the inside of the wheel. Being that its difficult for her to do, using a different covering isn’t going to help. Plus it’s part of her and she shouldn’t have to cover it. It would be like telling person they shouldn’t use purple crutches or a plain black cane instead of a red one.

  47. NeedRain47*

    The CDC recommendations for covid are currently something like “IDK, do whatever, I guess.” That’s an exaggeration, but their advice is weak and presented as suggestions, not imperatives. What LW1’s partner’s boss did was unethical on a personal level, but pretty much encouraged by the way the government and employers are choosing to handle covid cases at this point so it’s not surprising at all. If you live with someone who’s at high risk, you’re going to have to take your own precautions as much as you can and not depend on other people to do the right thing.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Pretty much this. “It’s on you to protect yourself, good luck” is what literally everyone is saying.

  48. Michelle Smith*

    The best way to counter your competition’s lies? Get the certifications/training/experience they claim to have. That might mean talking to your boss and saying, hey, I’m really interested in the promotion John got. My understanding is that he got the job instead of me because he is certified in XYZ process (don’t accuse him of lying). I wanted to see if the office would support me getting certified in XYZ process by paying for me to take a class at Online University/paying for my exam fees/allowing me # of hours per week on company time to do coursework so that I can be more competitive the next time a promotion opportunity opens up.

    Also look into what certifications, credentials, and experience you can get in your current job/outside of your job and/or for free. Need managerial experience, for example? Offer to lead internal projects. Take a leadership development course. Join a nonprofit board or take a leadership position on a volunteer project (e.g. lead the PTA at your child’s school). Find a way to recast your actual past experience to show that you have great potential. For example, I worked with my career coach on this because I am now mid-level and yet was having a hard time finding that first manager position. We went over my interview answers and realized I was vastly underselling how much experience I really have. While I’ve never had a managerial title, I’ve actually supervised multiple projects and managed the work of interns, paralegals, and other staff on discreet projects. I’ve also got a coach helping me develop my leadership skills and style. So I no longer answer questions about prior experience by saying I don’t have it; I instead explain what I have done and how I expect I will manage in the future, as well as how I expect to develop the skills I don’t have. I’ve been much more successful in moving forward in the interview process now that I’ve started answering the questions differently!

  49. RagingADHD*

    For LW2, I think the tattoo analogy is a good place to start, but not quite the same in terms of the impression it will give. There are some industries and some companies where visible tattoos are considered unprofessional or distracting, and people are expected to keep them covered (or confine them to places that are already covered by office-type clothing.) A lot of people with visible tattoos cover them in interviews even if they let them show later.

    The thing is, in conservative areas/industries tattoos still carry an outdated association of being countercultural or “rebellious,” while your stickers would not. The impression you will more likely encounter is being seen as juvenile. Colorful fandom/pop art stickers would read more like cutesy socks or novelty earrings. You may already have to fight being infantilized anyway, as a) a student, and b) a wheelchair user. The stickers might encourage them to think of you as a kid rather than a fully competent new professional.

    I’d advise removing them while you’re interviewing and then taking the temperature of the new office. Most likely they won’t be a problem once you’re established somewhere.

    1. Elliot*

      I completely agree with this – try to cover them/remove them during the interview process, and once you have a job and know the culture, don’t worry about it!

      I have tattoos, and always cover them for interviews. Similarly, I have a very clean looking laptop case and cover and a clean water bottle to use in professional settings that hides my laptop stickers/bypasses using my water bottle with stickers. It may not be fair, but to some people, stickers do read as very young.

  50. Sparkles McFadden*

    LW #2 – Do NOT lie on your resume. From a practical standpoint, you don’t know that the lie is what got those people hired. Their situation is irrelevant. Your lie will come back to bite you, especially if your industry is oen where everyone knows everyone.

    No one sensible will hire someone who lies on their resume because people who lie, lie about everything. They justify it by saying “No one will care” or “This makes things easier” or “It’s not a big deal” but serial liars tell the lies that that make them look better or feel better. Even if you tell yourself “It’s just this one time” it’s likely it won’t be as lies tend to require other lies later on. Don’t go down that path.

  51. Rylan*

    I don’t know if I did this right because I’ve never commented before but for letter 1: I’ve read the post and read the comments. The question that I would like answered is why do these people who come to work after a positive Covid test even get tested in the first place? My grandpa has said during this whole pandemic “If you don’t get tested they can’t tell you that you have Covid”. So it makes me wonder why they even bother getting tested. (I’m only talking about the people who willing get tested and then go to work, not the people that were required to get tested for their jobs.)

    1. Heidi*

      I think people still want to know if they have COVID even if they don’t intend to tell anyone. They may want to get treatment with paxlovid also.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’d assume they had some kind of symptoms and went to the doctor for it, who tested as part of the assessment/diagnostic process. Or they were in some situation where covid tests were required for entry/participation.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Well, the giant covid outbreak among my friends seems to have come from one who got symptoms, went to the doctor, tested negative and then continued to go about her day (and I’m guessing she didn’t mask and she said most others didn’t either). Then of course it was positive the next day. It’s taking a few days at times to test positively after getting symptoms for some people. If you have symptoms these days, you need to assume you have it and act accordingly, even if you have a few days of negative tests.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Some (horrible) people get sick, get symptoms, go get tested even though they’re convinced they don’t have it, go to work in the meantime, infect everyone, and then admit it afterward. It sounds like in the letter this wasn’t a case of “was waiting on results and kept going to work” (which is reckless) but “had actual results and kept going to work” (which is worse and makes even less sense) but it seems like the type of person who would do one is probably similar to the other.

  52. Emoo*

    LW 5: Most orgs with leave tracking software have an option for PTO correction! I’ve done this several times with illness; I’m usually with-it enough to slack my boss “feel bad more sleep thx sry,” but I don’t bother submitting sick leave stuff til I get back. Correcting time off is super, super normal. Even if there’s no software, this should be a totally routine situation with your HR.

  53. DisneyChannelThis*

    For the wheelchair, If they’re vinyl stickers you may be able to use electrical tape to cover them and that peels off pretty quickly too without much residue on plastic. Just do a test on a sticker you don’t case as much about. Should be under a buck for the tape at a hardware store or amazon will have it.

  54. Emoo*

    oh, and LW3: I work at a university, so ymmv, but I don’t think the stickers would seem out of step. If you’re particularly worried, covering or removing them during the interview/initial onboarding could help!

    I wouldn’t remove them, because then you’d have to replace them, which is both time and cost intensive. You could probably hide them temporarily with cloth coverings (for seat/back), or with some kind of light tape (thinking of like, bar tape for bike handles or black painter’s tape). This would be time intensive, but easy to remove later as you get more comfortable. Good luck!

    1. Emoo*

      ETA: I completely missed that you said they were on your spokeguards – What about temporary covers for them? Either ordering new ones (maybe cost prohibitive?), or DIY a cover with posterboard or cloth.

  55. That One Person*

    I want to thank you L#3 because I had to go look up what spokes guards are and have found there’s a lot of really cool designs out there (haven’t ridden a bike in years so 100% forgot what spokes are and guards seem useful overall). I also feel this one since when I worked retail at a certain red-based store my store’s management just wanted the top layer to be red to be noticeable (and primarily so it couldn’t be heavily patterned) so I sought out red zip ups and wore a lot of graphic tees that were work appropriate (the “Sarcasm is My Super Power” one may have been borderline but I never received complaints and it generally amused). Like you they offered some fun conversation starters and pieces and helped for an easy transition to asking if people needed help with anything. At most you might want to go over your stickers to confirm they’re generally harmless, though be ready that there might just be that one person determined to find something to be offended about.

    I would also recommend as much as possible looking into some of the general culture of places you’re applying to in order to help gauge some of the expectations. Like others have said if its a position or company viewed more conservatively then it might be time for something a little more muted. I feel like if you’re looking for something more like graphic design it could be a selling point, and maybe for marketing too though I don’t know that field well so that’s a guess.

  56. Employment Lawyah*

    3. Can I have stickers on my wheelchair at work?

    Assuming you can do the cover swap with relative ease, I’d simply address it up front: “Obviously I can’t have a separate chair for work; they are customized and expensive. But I know this is a bit flashy. If this is a real dress-code issue, I can swap out a set of monotone spoke guards when I’m at work [or just take mine off].”

    Either way, it’s a signal that you’re thoughtful and considerate and they will think better of you for asking. And if they say “yes, please” then you’ll be glad you asked (since you know now they’re in the minority who cares, and it will avoid them thinking worse of you due to dress code issues.)

  57. Fellow sticker enthusiast*

    #3 Wheelchair LW: I would perceive your spokegaurd stickers to be youthful, friendly, nerdy, and energetic. If the stickers are layered, start peeling, fade, or get dirty it could start to look a little sloppy. If you had NSFW stickers, that would probably not be OK. But if they’re about work-appropriate topics and well-maintained I think it’d be fine in most workplaces. I could see the stickers potentially being an issue in retail or banking. If you do choose to take your spokegaurds off for interviews, I personally would just leave them off for the whole interview season until you accept an offer rather than taking them on and off for every interview.

  58. tinybutfierce*

    #1 is exactly why I’m so thankful my job has basically gone optionally perma-WFH and I won’t be setting foot back in the office unless I absolutely have to. After the last few years, I honestly have pretty much no faith in folks outside my immediate circle to be honest about being vaxxed, exposed, etc., and as someone who falls into a couple high-risk categories, I’m absolutely not risking my own health or anyone else’s if I can help it.

  59. Lobsterman*

    LW2, you’re burying the lede here, which is that you work in a dysfunctional org filled with liars. Not all places are like this. Go find somewhere where the people aren’t all lying constantly.

    Or else, yeah, knock yourself out. But remember, it’s not the foul that gets called, it’s the retaliation.

  60. FormerAmazonian*

    Op #3, Amazon corporate and many tech type companies would LOVE the stickers. I know Amazon it was strongly encouraged (in a “pieces of flair” kind of way) to decorate our laptops with stickers, so you’d be way ahead of the curve! My new company isn’t as pushy abt it but many many people still do decorate their laptops.

    Just wanted to point out that in certain fields that are more relaxed this could actually be a plus in your favor. I bet it looks awesome too!

  61. RB*

    LW #5: Our system for leave requests can’t accommodate a Friday through Monday vacation if the weekend is not part of your regular working schedule. So you have to enter the Friday and Monday as separate requests, but it’s not immediately apparent that you need to do it this way. So the system lets you enter it as a single request, Friday through Monday, but it doesn’t actually record it properly. It’s bad in a number of other ways too, like it will let you enter a leave request for 2 1/2 days but it actually records it as three full days.

    1. RB*

      Not two half-days, but two and a half days off, like a half-day Wednesday, plus a full day Thursday and Friday.

  62. Observer*

    #1 One thing that might be relevant in how you think about this, and how the company is likely to react to your SO’s boss.

    What is the general company culture around coming in sick? Do they expect people to come in no matter what? Or maybe the “graciously allow” people to call out sick if they are so sick that they can barely get out of bed? If that’s the culture, it’s no wonder the boss did that. And no one is going to give a flip about coming in while positive for Covid. But if the company is reasonably careful about coming in sick they will probably care about this, too.

  63. Penny Parker*

    If you are high risk — or simply want to avoid getting covid — then you need to mask with a high quality N95 mask at all times outside of your house. My son (age in the 40s) who is high risk works in a phone room where he is the only one who wears a mask, and he always wears his. One of his coworkers came to work for a week, while sick. The manager kept asking the coworker if they had covid, and the coworker kept denying such. Then, the coworker was out of work for a week because they got sicker. The manager kept asking the coworker if they were out sick with covid. And again the coworker denied that was the case. After a week of this a third party called the manager and let them know that person had just died from covid. The manager took an active read test, said “oh shit” and immediately walked out of the place of business. My son was the only one in that phone room who did not get covid. Wear a quality mask!

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Good on your son. I try to do the same. Luckily my office is trying to have people not share offices or at least keep their distance.

  64. AnotherLibrarian*

    OP3: I’ve never worked with someone who used a wheelchair decorated with stickers, but a friend of mine needed a walker to help her walk, because she had a muscular disorder. She had a bright prink walker decorated with stickers and customized with some hanging pockets and it was never an issue. She worked with kids and used her sticker covered walker as an ice breaker. She did once tell me that if she was going into court (which she had to do occasionally for her job) she would switch out to a plain silver walker.

    I think Alison is right, it’s a matter of knowing your work place and knowing the culture. That’s part of what makes it tough. I might step back from your stickers and look at them with a critical eye- Are there any with swear words? Graphic violence? Nudity? Partisan politics? Those are the sort of things where people might have concerns or issues. It’s not the stickers, per say, it’s the content of them, I would think.

  65. Kate Adams*

    OP1: It isn’t just people who are disabled or who have obvious co-morbidities who are at greater risk from covid.

    We’re starting to learn more about what causes severe covid. and recent work has uncovered a link between autoantibodies to interferons and severe disease. Quote from study: “autoantibodies against type I IFNs strongly increased the SARS-CoV-2 infection fatality rate at all ages, in both men and women.” People who want to geek out on the science can read this open access paper:

    TL/DR: We don’t know who will be at greater risk, and knowingly putting anyone at risk is unconscionable.

  66. Snarl Trolley*

    LW3, I worked with a wonderful guy who used a large cane for mobility assistance. It was a fairly laid-back field, but he used a sealant to keep the stickers on his cane from peeling or fading, which might be an option for your chair? (I super!! hate!! that of all things, stickers doing what they do and not appearing immortal might cost you a job because ohhh my GODDD, but you know – hedge all the bets. >:/)

    (….Also I’m dying to see a picture of your chair because the variety of stickers you mention sound AMAZING. :3)

  67. JSPA*

    Fingers, kids, dashing squirrels, scarves…

    If you’re not anywhere hilly, and if you’re guaranteed to be moving at a sedate pace and 100% in control, there’s less of a safety issue, compared to my (famously hilly) city. But even the flatest places have some manufactured dips and bumps.

    But if you asked people for first hand experience of seatbelts, bumpers etc being useful, only a modest number of people would have first-hand experience.

    For comparison, while bicycles rarely have the exact equivelent, but

    a) people should not have their hands near moving bike wheels and

    b) Commuter bikes in the sorts of places where people would wear loose clothing or scarves while biking while biking actually do commonly have a protector covering 1/2 to 2/3 of the rear wheel (plus a chain guard).

  68. Too Many Dogs*

    To #2: Do NOT lie on your resume’. As she said, integrity is everything. If I hired you and found out you had lied on your resume’, my trust in you would be seriously, seriously damaged. Worse, EVERY TIME you applied for another job, I would feel morally bound to tell that inquiring employer about it.

  69. Anne Wentworth*

    LW #3: I see you’re getting a lot of useful responses and I have just one addition (didn’t spot it above). If you find yourself feeling anxious about this when it comes time to interview, even with all of the positive messages above, consider kicking up a notch the formality of your outfit. That’s been my strategy. Realistically, if people are going to jump to conclusions about how professional I am based on aspects of my appearance that I can’t change, they’re going to do it (makeup only covers so much when it comes to scarring), but when I choose something on the more formal end of the range, then at least I feel like I’ve done as much as I can to convey my professionalism. And as I’m sure you know, feeling confident is a huge part of making a good impression.

    Good luck interviewing and I hope you find an amazing internship!

  70. Bookworm*

    LW3: No advice, but agree in general: so long as it’s not like NSFW lyrics or something, I would imagine it’d be a great way to show your personality and be a fun ice breaker (if you’re into that).

    I’d also like to turn some of the answers around a bit: if they have a negative reaction to the stickers (or the wheelchair…) it’d be a great way to gauge whether you want to work for them (as you mention first internships I thought maybe you don’t have a lot of work experience?). In any case, I wish you good luck!!

  71. Tinker*

    LW3 —

    The basic outline of the major positions regarding elements of distinctive personal style seem to be pretty much covered, those being basically:

    — Don’t worry about it, most people will not judge and the ones who do are in general shitty people.
    — However some people will judge, and sometimes shitty people are useful.

    I think a fair bit of resolving the apparent contradiction there is this: In the moment, people mostly want to get along with other people and tend to come away happy when that happens, even when they encounter something that abstractly they might imagine having firm negative opinions about. Hence, creating a good social feeling is likely in most cases to pave over the fiddly analysis that folks get tempted to when asked to theorize about the professional signals supposedly sent by a given water bottle or cell phone cover or wheelchair.

    When folks do notice something unusual about you that they may feel uncertain about, if you carry yourself with confidence (tends to make people feel socially comfortable) and deliver cues that model a reassuringly simple way of being polite and undramatic around the unusual thing (also a major contributor to social comfort), then people will tend to feel secure in the overall interaction and if they construct a story about the unusual thing it will tend to be more positive. Conversely, if you come across as uncertain or defensive about the thing or model a way of relating to it that feels scarily complex, people will feel insecure and the stories they construct about it will tend to be more negative — in that case, they may later tell the story that “this person had a sticker and I felt that way, so you shouldn’t have a sticker” when it could well actually be “I felt that way and the person had a sticker, so you should aim for people to be in a good mood when they see your sticker”.

    Hence, pick either stickers or no stickers according to what makes you feel most confident, present yourself positively in a way that makes people feel comfortable, and if they are wondering what a wheelchair ought to look like then the appearance of your wheelchair will likely provide them a convenient answer.

  72. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    #3: In addition to people who might judge the stickers, there will also be people who will assess OP by them. This isn’t unique to stickers or wheelchairs, the same applies to hair, clothing, makeup, any of the ways we humans choose to dress and decorate ourselves. Some of the messages that would probably be read off OP #3’s stickers (based on her description, in person one would have more information to go off):

    -young, cheerful, exuberant, possibly a touch of Manic Pixie Dream Girl
    -would rather have her disability noticeable than silent
    -some flavor of LGBT
    -kind of nerdy
    -leans towards “woo” spiritually
    -has some particular musical taste
    -likes cute stuff

    If these things are what you want to say about yourself, that’s great! If they are not how you want your coworkers and bosses to perceive you, that’s when you should re-think the decor.

  73. Arthur "Two Canes" Jackson*

    LW3 (or anyone else with a mobility aide) where did you get your stickers? I have a cane I’m getting used to using and I’d love to add some flair to it, but I don’t know where to look.

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