friend says we’re not supportive enough of their business idea, my boss sleeps in meetings, and more

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

1. My friend says we’re not supportive enough of their business idea

I know someone who wants to start their own business in the hospitality industry as their retirement plan (they’re close to that age) — a bed and breakfast. They don’t have any capital, or experience on a large scale, but because they are very creative and love to cook, this is their dream. My friend and I have explained to them that these things are very risky, and have said at the very least, they’d have to put together a solid business proposal to even be considered for a loan from a bank. They also think that no one is really supportive of their idea — but that’s not the case. We’re just not very creative ourselves and don’t really have the first clue what should be done, other than to google information about getting into that type of work, etc. Our friend would probably like if we did that for them, but we all work full-time jobs and just don’t have the time. We’ve suggested they join groups on Facebook, etc. to hear others’ experiences and see what they can glean, to create a blog, post videos on YouTube, etc. even just to get an idea of how much interest there would be, but none of these ideas has panned out.

Do you have any specific resources as well as stories from readers who have gone through this (whether successfully or not)? At this point, we think the experience of several persons (one will likely not be enough) may be helpful for them to review.

I’d argue that you and your friends should get less involved in helping your friend go down this path, not more. Starting a bed and breakfast is a ton of work and takes real capital (as you point out) — and there’s also plenty of easily available information out there on how to do it if they want to explore it further. But that’s something for them to do as part of their own efforts, not something you need to dig into for them. If they can’t make it through those early research steps on their own, they’re not likely to do everything else that will be required to launch and run a business (and thus it doesn’t make sense for you to invest your time either). That’s not inherently a bad thing; some dreams are most enjoyed when they stay dreams.

Reading between the lines, if your hope is that by connecting your friend with more info, they’ll realize they shouldn’t pursue the idea … it’s just not really your job to do that. You’re their friend, not their business advisor! You can be a supportive friend without doing the legwork  for them. And it sounds like you’ve offered sufficient initial warnings about what’s involved that you can consider that part of your obligation covered and at this point can leave any next steps to them and just play the more appropriate friend role of “it sounds amazing” and “good luck with it!” (If you did have some special expertise in the hospitality field, it might be different — but when you say you “don’t really have the first clue what should be done,” it’s really, really not on you to seek out guidance for them.)

Read an update to this letter.

2. My boss falls asleep in meetings

I work at a nonprofit. My boss is the executive director (he reports to the board). We have an all-day meeting coming up with an important funder and our partner organizations. I manage this account, but my boss wants to attend as well. My boss has a tendency to fall asleep in the middle of the day, and I am worried he will fall asleep at this meeting. I don’t want to be embarrassed by his behavior, or for it to damage our relationship with the funder.

My boss had a tendency to fall asleep at the office (we’ve been work from home since Covid, so I don’t know if his falling asleep in the middle of the day has changed, though I suspect it hasn’t). He also fell asleep at a previous all-day meeting.

He has an odd sleep schedule; his normal seems to be waking at 3 am and starting work. In the office, he would often fall asleep a bit after lunch (I can’t say if it was everyday, but it was quite frequent). The last time we had an all-day meeting (pre-Covid), my boss fell asleep during it — the organizer pulled me aside and asked if he was okay! I was horribly embarrassed. I didn’t mention it to him — it was only a month or so after he’d started at our org, and I didn’t know how to bring it up. I also never acknowledged his falling asleep at the office.

He works a ton, and is an incredibly hard worker. I would imagine that our work from home world has enabled him to adjust work to fit his life and sleep schedule in a positive way, and I don’t disparage him for that at all. I am just worried how he will be perceived by our funder and partners at this all-day meeting. How can I address this and ask him to not fall asleep?

I don’t think you should. It’s a problem that he once fell asleep at an all-day meeting, but it sounds like you haven’t seen that happen in a couple of years. It’s long enough ago that bringing it up years later, and when he’s your boss and in charge of himself rather than the other way around, is likely to feel off.

What you can do is make a point of engaging him during the meeting — make sure he’s pulled into the conversation (particularly in the second half of the day), ask him questions, and so forth. It’s not your job to keep him awake, of course, but if you’re feeling like you need to do something, that’s the avenue I’d take. If you really want to say something, though, I’d go with, “I know you start working really early in the morning and it can be hard to deal with all-day meetings when you’ve been working since 3 am — is there a way we can structure this so you’re not miserable during the afternoon?”

(The exception to this is if you have a very close relationship with him and the kind of rapport that allows you to just address your worry head-on. But I’m guessing if that were the case you would have already done it.)

Read an update to this letter

3. I received a rejection at 4:06 am on a Saturday

I woke up on today, Saturday the 30th, to see an automatic email rejection from Indeed from a job I applied for on July 15th. It was odd to get a rejection on a weekend and then I saw the email came through at 4:06 am.

It’s confusing and strange. Did I get rejected automatically by a bot? If so, why two weeks later? Was somebody working on applications in the middle of the night? Am I reading too deep into this? It feels off and a bit hurtful.

Don’t read anything into it. People work all sorts of hours (see the question above!). The person could be in a different time zone or working unusual hours because of care-giving responsibilities or to catch up from vacation or who knows what. Sometimes when people are working odd hours, they set emails to go out later, during more typical business hours, but a lot of people don’t bother to. There’s really no message to read into it — the subtext definitely isn’t “your application is so offensive to us that we cannot wait until Monday morning to reject you” and they didn’t intend to mess with your weekend. They’re just working when they’re working — and that’s an increasingly broad range of hours for people.

4. How do I negotiate for fair market rate when the market isn’t fair?

I’m searching for my first full-time job and wondering how to negotiate for a “fair market rate” when the market isn’t fair. I’ve done my research about salary ranges, but my industry is notoriously low-paying and concentrated in an extremely high cost of living city. No one gets paid what their work is worth. It’s also a creative industry that’s seen as glamorous, so whenever a junior employee burns out and/or can’t afford to live anymore, there are many, many applicants eager to take their place, which makes it hard to push for systemic change. Nevertheless, there is a growing conversation about this issue and the inequities it encourages.

I’m hoping to get an offer soon, and I want to try negotiating my starting salary. But how do I strike a balance between naming a number that’s livable and not looking out of touch with industry norms, when industry norms are widely agreed to be unreasonable?

You’re unlikely to be able to negotiate a salary that’s outside of the market rate, particularly for a first job. (That’s true even when you’re experienced, unless you’re a particularly sought-after candidate with very in-demand skills, but it’s especially true when you’re starting out.) The market rate is a description of what the work normally pays, and what the employer would need to pay to hire someone else with comparable skills to do it. They would need a specific incentive to pay you more than than the market demands (for example, if you had a rare combination of skills that would save them money and which they’d have trouble finding in someone else, or an unusually strong network that they think they’d benefit from).

That doesn’t mean you can’t try to negotiate — you absolutely can. But you’ll need to negotiate within the general range of what the market pays for the work.

5. Taking vacation days during my notice period

I have a third interview scheduled for a job I’m really excited about. I’m told this would be the final interview, and while I am tempering my expectations, I’m also thinking about what would happen if I receive an offer. I work at a very small company: my boss, me, and one other full-time person who was hired only a month ago. This person was finally hired after I pushed for it for six months, as I was routinely working over 40 hours per week to get everything done.

I’ve been at my current role for three and a half years and have taken on increasing responsibility to the point where I’m practically running the business (main point of contact for all our 15 clients, managing all our projects and a team of 8 freelancers). Given how much my boss relies on me, she will be pretty upset if I quit. Because of this, I have requested three or four weeks notice if I receive an offer, which the company I’m interviewing with has said they can do. If this happens, my notice would overlap with a planned vacation my boss already agreed to. It’s only two business days (the other days are weekend days), but I’m worried she won’t take it well and will try to make me work through the vacation, given all that would need to be done before I leave. We’re a remote office, so I could technically still go on this trip and work, but that wouldn’t be my preference.

Some other context: I have a lot of resentment towards my boss for being overworked and underpaid, and have very little desire to accommodate her (I used my last shred of empathy to request a longer notice period). In all my time at the company, I’ve never been able to take five consecutive business days off besides Christmas, as there was no one to cover my work. I’m almost always asked to check my emails over vacation, and often have to work to complete unexpected client requests since my boss is so disengaged with clients she can’t pick up where I’ve left off. So my question is, if I get an offer and give her notice, am I right to not want to give up those vacation days? Or, in a scenario like this, would it be a reasonable request to ask someone to work through a vacation to smooth the transition to their eventual replacement?

You shouldn’t need to give up those vacation days or work for any part of them. If you’re giving three or four weeks notice — which is above and beyond the professional standard — you’re entitled to take two of those days for a pre-planned vacation.

Make that trade-off clear when you discuss your last day: “I do still need to completely unplug on August 18-19 but I can work through August 23rd.” And then stick to that. If you’re pressured to compromise your vacation, hold firm: “That’s not possible, but I’m giving extra notice to try to help with the transition. Part of my ability to give that extra notice is because I know I have time off in there.”

Also, it’s very kind of you to offer a third week of notice. You don’t need to offer a fourth. Use that week in between the two jobs to take time for yourself to recharge and reset.

{ 460 comments… read them below }

  1. Beth*

    LW1, if your friends can’t be bothered to do their own research about how to start running a B&B, then they’re almost definitely not going to actually do it. Doing it is way more work than googling it, and they’re not even up for the googling. So stop worrying about talking them out of it and start treating this as what it probably is–a fun fantasy for how they’d ideally like to spend their retirement years. Don’t we all have a little wish-fulfillment dream like that?

    (Mine is running a little queer bookstore/coffee shop. I’d be terrible at it. I have zero plans to actually do it. I have nevertheless picked out upholstery for the armchairs.)

    1. This is Artemesia*

      oh this this. AND when you can see people who if they do start this business will fail spectacularly, the only play as a friend is to disengage and pleasantly nod and wish them the best. Give any advice and it will all be your fault. Back slowly away.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Agreed. LW does not need to problem-solve for these friends or try to stop them. Even if these people are not just thinking out loud and wishing, their lack of real motivation (and money) will accomplish the problem-solving and halting better than anything LW could do.

      LW needs to smile and nod and make polite noises.

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        Besides, the bank is going to stop them. Unless they have a bunch of capital to invest, they’ll need a loan. They aren’t getting that without a sound business plan and they don’t have any idea how to do this. So, friends should smile and nod and know that buying a B&B home without capital isn’t at all likely to happen, but “that would be so great for you.” If asked to invest “I’m so sorry, I don’t have anything to invest.”

    3. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Exactly. My ex and I had a name, menu and other details all worked out for the pizzeria and brewery we would never, ever try to open. I’m mildly curious why your friend thinks you owe support to what is an extremely amorphous dream, but unless they put more effort in, I see no reason why you need to put in ANY effort.

      1. Despachito*


        (And LW does not put in ANY effort even if the friend does, because… it is the friend’s dream, not their).

        1. Observer*

          Of course the OP doesn’t need to put in any effort, regardless. But it’s ESPECIALLY strange for the “dreamer” to expect effort, even from the most “supportive” friends, if the dreamer themself can’t be bothered.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah….”You should support me…by doing the hard bits I don’t like?” Also, noticed that they are a “creative person” which sometimes means creative, and sometimes means they’re above doing anything boring or difficult.

        1. Sasha*

          I don’t see that the friend has asked for them to do any research though? They have asked that they “be more supportive”, which could easily just mean “can you please not inject realism into my lovely pipe dream”.

          OP, I’d suggest that you sound enthusiastic, gush a little about how wonderful this all sounds and what great ideas they have, and do absolutely nothing in terms of practical help. Which actually sounds like what your friend wants from you anyway.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            This is true, I was talking more about OP’s impression that this is what their friend wants; even if they are correct it’s not an expectation that should be accepted. I completely agree with your solution; proceed like of course they only want positive noises.

            1. MsClaw*

              Some of us are problem solvers and sometimes need to learn to wait until someone actually asks us to solve the problem. I think that’s where OP is here. There’s no indication in their letter that the friends have *asked* any of them to help or to give advice or anything like that. If the friends were actually asking OP for help, it would be a different letter.

              I mean, I get it, if I had a friend who started talking like OP’s friends I too would start thinking about all the work that would need to be done. But the thing to say is something like ‘what a neat idea. Bill and I will have to book a weekend with you when you open’ or ‘that sounds great. I’m hoping to work in a library when I retire’ or whatever, not ‘have you considered how much you’ll need to spend on linens?’

          2. Asenath*

            “Being more supportive” can also mean “help us with some of the work”, which is how I interpreted it. I certainly don’t think LW should be doing any research. That’s for the (potential) business owners to do themselves, or hire a professional for.

            With either interpretation, though, I don’t think I would try to appear enthusiastic about some plan I thought was a terrible idea. I’d be afraid I’d over-encourage them, or maybe even put them in a position in which they’d be embarrassed to face me if they failed or changed their minds about trying. I’d try to be mildly pleasant about it, and that’s about it. Oddly enough, I had a friend who had a dream of opening a B&B, and who lived in an area with lots of tourism, so at least he had that going for his plans. I wasn’t enthusiastic, but stayed away from actual advice. We never quarreled about whether his dream was realistic, I’m sure he knew I wouldn’t have done it myself, and I’m equally sure my opinion didn’t affect his at all when his dream faded into the realm of all those dreams that weren’t really practical or possible. You need a lot more than tourists to run a B&B and fortunately he had another paid job that he also loved.

          3. Chilipepper Attitude*

            I think the friend does expect the OP to do the research or somehow know the practical side. They got upset that the OP did not have answers or time to find them.

            Maybe the OP needs to frequently say something like, I am so excited for you! And if the friend says you are not supporting my dream, the OP can flat out ask, what can I do to make you feel supported? And then be clear about what they can and cannot do. I’m so happy for you and I can express that more but I cannot research it for you.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              If LW1 feels a need to do something I would suggest practical things that then puts the ball back in the friend’s court. These are examples based US southern community:
              1. Local women’s business council. A great way to make connections and hear some of the realities of starting a business.
              2. A local college business program. Students are often looking for business plan projects. A marketing class in the business program took on the project of evaluating our community for a library branch. They did demographic studies, looked at locations, spoke with community leaders, etc. They came back with an alternative for a book mobile based on solid research. Build start-up cost estimates, funding sources, etc.

            2. Rose*

              They didn’t get upset that OP hadn’t don’t any work for them. The only things OP really tells us are that they offered an opinion and Friend didn’t like it, and OP /believes/ Friend would want them to do research.

              OP never says Friend asked for any feedback or help. This sounds like a friend talking about a (potentially impractical) dream, OP assuming they’re asking for input and telling Friend it’s not a good idea, Friend reasonably asking them to be more supportive, and OP assuming Friend would like them to do research.

              “Don’t give advice if you’re not asked for it,” is high on my list of life lessons for all adults.

          4. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

            Yeah, I think your friend will never open a bed and breakfast (the lack of capital alone is a stopper), but enjoys talking about it. “Supportive” in this context means letting her go on about the curtains or the menu or what have you. Treat it like she’s designing a geodesic dome on Mars–you don’t need to take it seriously because it’s not going to happen, but you can definitely ask her questions and egg her on over a glass of wine.

            1. NervousNellie*

              Maybe I’m not a great friend, but living in the theoretical like this drains me entirely.

              1. Irish Teacher*

                I think it’s more different personality types/interests rather than good friends and less good friends. If I knew the friend wasn’t REALLY going to sink their life savings into a plan like this, I’d find the theoretical conversations fascinating.

                1. Lasslisa*

                  Yeah, the screaming terror that they’re going to lose their life savings is really an impediment to enjoying the daydream for me.

              2. Boof*

                I tend to be in the same boat – i only like to share someone else’s daydream a little before it becomes stressful because my mind keeps trying to figure out how to make it reality if it becomes too invested – but that’s what change of topics are for

              3. Gumby*

                I have a friend who does this a lot re: jobs, vacations, moving, etc. and it used to drive me nuts! Not only when she’d say “we’re going to Hawaii in April” but really mean “wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that but I am unemployed and my husband works part time so that isn’t actually a plan so much as a fantasy.” On Monday she’d tell me about how she was going to move to New Mexico for a job and on Thursday she’d be interviewing in San Diego. So they were not even consistent fantasy plans. Gah!

                In general I won’t mention a trip until tickets are purchased, hotels booked, etc. And if I *do* I phrase it as “I’m thinking of going to visit Mary while she is stationed in Rota. Maybe next summer if the details work out.” It’s clear what is a plan and what is an idea I am noodling on. So I had to learn to take most of her future talk as her playing with ideas and talking things through even when they were phrased as concrete plans.

          5. MCMonkeyBean*

            “They also think that no one is really supportive of their idea — but that’s not the case. We’re just not very creative ourselves and don’t really have the first clue what should be done, other than to google information about getting into that type of work, etc. Our friend would probably like if we did that for them, but we all work full-time jobs and just don’t have the time.”

            “You aren’t supporting my dream” is usually a sentiment for when people are telling you that you shouldn’t or can’t do it. In this case it sounds more like the friend thinks they aren’t actively helping enough, which is very ridiculous. We don’t know how these conversations have gone or what exact wording was used, but that seems to at least be the impression OP came away with.

          6. LB*

            Yes I would interpret this as OP’s friend saying, “Can you not immediately rain on my parade when I’m describing something I’ve been daydreaming about for years?”

            You’ve already mentioned that it’s difficult and risky, no need to harp on that, you’re not their spouse or parent. Let them have fun describing what decorations they would put up or what food they would make. It sounds like that’s what they’re wanting. You can still be the wind in their sales emotionally without feeling like you’re responsible for any potential bad investment they make; like people said, the bank will scrutinize their plan for them.

            1. Education Mike*

              Exactly! OP even says their friend “would probably like” if they (OP) did research for them (the friend).

              Saying someone would probably like something pretty strongly implies they haven’t actually asked you to do it. If they had asked you, you’d know they wanted you to do it.

              It sounds very much like OP volunteered their opinion about their friend’s dream without being asked, and then was affronted when the friend asked them to be more supportive, assuming it meant they wanted help to fix all the problems that OP had come up with.

          7. Observer*

            They have asked that they “be more supportive”, which could easily just mean “can you please not inject realism into my lovely pipe dream”.


            OP, I’d suggest that you sound enthusiastic, gush a little about how wonderful this all sounds and what great ideas they have, and do absolutely nothing in terms of practical help.

            This is the short version of Alison’s answer. And it’s totally on the mark.

            If they occasionally ask for feedback on things like the name of their B&B, or color schemes, sure, go along. But that’s it. No googling for the, no research on business plans or small business loans, or potential regulatory issues etc. None of that is your issue. Stay away.

            1. nona*

              +1 – If asked for help on practical stuff you can always say “Oh, gosh, I don’t know anything about that. Those sound like good questions to ask though!” Because, you don’t actually know anything on the topic, except how to Google things.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              yeah, and anything more down-to-earth, you say “maybe you should enquire about loans at the bank/about business practicalities at the chamber of commerce”. You don’t know, but you can point them in a direction.

          8. oranges*

            This was my read as well. I suspect the “support” they want from OP isn’t research and resources, but rather enthusiasm and encouragement. (Even if you both know it won’t actually happen.)

            Just be excited for them, let them chatter about this fantasy, and smile/nod the next time they talk about it.

          9. Green tea*

            Yeah I feel like OP’s take on expectations for being supportive is pretty weird. Sounds like OP and friends keep dumping on the friend’s daydream whenever they bring it up, and the friend would like them to stop doing that.

            Sometimes a dream is likely to never come to pass in reality but that doesn’t mean it has no value – it clearly is bringing joy and comfort to the friend. OP would have no obligation to put in work or research to aid friend’s dream no matter how good or realistic an idea it is (and there is no indication the friend expects OP to do so). OP does have an obligation, in my opinion, to stop criticizing friend’s dream when friend brings it up.

        2. Nanani*

          Yeah, like the Idea Guy who tries to higher designers and programmers for peanuts because they have a just such a GREAT IDEA – what do you mean you don’t want to do all the work for them? This is an AMAZING IDEA.

        3. Jora Malli*

          This is a thing with creative people. I can think of three knitting supply stores in my city that have opened and closed within the last few years because they were owned and operated by creative people who wanted to share their love of the art form with like minded people, but didn’t have the business experience or skills to back it up. I’ve toyed with the idea of starting one myself, but I know I’d almost certainly fall into the same trap.

          OP, be pleasant and open when your friend wants to talk about their hypothetical future B&B and if they ask you to help them make plans, it’s okay to say you wouldn’t know how to start and they should do some research online or at the library.

          1. UKDancer*

            I think you’re better off going somewhere with a voluntary side and sharing your love that way. I’ve one friend who goes to a community centre with a “craft day” each week where she shares her love of knitting and helps people who want to knit or do crafting.

            Or if you’re in London the big John Lewis at Sloane Sq always used to have a regular person teaching knitting in the haberdashery section so people could sit down and learn how or learn about wool from them. That struck me as a great idea.

            1. EmmaPoet*

              My local independent fancy fabric store had classes on different topics pre-lockdown. I took classes on hat making, lace making, how to make a tiered skirt, ribbon roses, and I can’t remember what all else. They were all taught by local women who did this as a small side job or who were retired and just liked to get out and talk crafting. The specialty classes were day-long on weekends and often repeated over time, so you could retake them if you wanted. I still have the hat I made, though I don’t think I could make one again without another class as it was several years ago!

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Yeah, my Dad learned to paint at a painting activity set up at the MacMillan centre (for cancer patients). The guy was insistent that it wasn’t painting lessons, just an activity. He’d set up the materials and maybe give a word of advice here and there. Dad loved it, and I have a couple of his paintings on my walls now. The guy was a volunteer.

          2. Lead Balloon*

            I was just going to post a comment saying similar. People think they’ll enjoy themselves or have a semi-retirement by “having a little yarn shop” or “just a little cafe” or whatever but it’s hard work, much harder than a 9-5 office job I reckon.

            I can’t see how running a B&B is a retirement plan unless you are renting out a property to someone who is going to run the B&B.

            1. Amaranth*

              I think if you already own a property that is way too large for personal use that it might work, but having to make sure you have enough guests to cover all the expenses of *having* guests sounds incredibly stressful to me. If I had to also ensure occupancy to pay a mortgage and insurance I’d be a wreck.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Ah yes, the bookstore my coworker/friend and I want to open (“Cat & Compass” – logo is a cat watching a compass needle), the hipster riff on a traditional raki/meze place, etc.. So many businesses in my head that will never be a reality because I am way too lazy to own my own business. My dad did and my SIL does so I have been able to witness zero work-life balance, crazy hours because the buck does stop with you, and the financial precariousness. Only in my fantasy is that a good idea for me

        1. dawbs*

          my friend wants to open a craft booth called “…but you won’t”

          Because we go and see crafty things and think “I could do that” ANd the 2nd half is always acknowledging that we won’t.
          (Says someone who colored many pounds of rice and pasta for preschool sensory items recently and discovered you can find it pre-colored for 10x the price on etsy!)

    4. Lilo*

      I remember reading an article about a couple who opened a coffee shop and had this vision of chatting with patrons and then discovered that it was actually a lot of drudgery and that they themselves had to cover the hours (apparently they didn’t have food service experience). It fell apart very, very quickly.

      There’s such a radical difference between personal hobby work and business tasks (cooking for yourself and restaurant line cook work are other planets).

      1. MK*

        Also, I don’t understand the emphasis on creativity as both a reason the friend wants to do this and a skill required. Being creative has almost nothing to do with running a small guesthouse (other than decor, which is the least part of setting it up and can be outsourced to an actual designer).

        1. Despachito*

          This is what I was thinking, too. That it is more about changing bedcloth and solving everyday issues with the clients than about creativity.

          1. Paul Pearson*

            Exactly – and the same for cooking. By definition she’s going to be cooking 1 meal a day: breakfast. She says she loves to cook but that’s kind of going to be the same meal every day with no creativity (I mean you COULD get creative but how many guests want especially varied breakfast options?). If she wants to cook, open a cafe. If she wants endless laundry, open a B&B

        2. Paul Pearson*

          I’d be wary about staying in a hotel that bosts “creativity”. That generally means something weird and eccentric and uncomfortable

          1. to varying degrees*

            True. One person’s “creative” is another’s “let’s glue hay to the walls and bolt all the furniture to the ceiling”.

            1. Pikachu*

              This reminded me of watching Trading Spaces. I am pretty sure they glued flowers, moss and other organic materials to the walls multiple times.

                1. Today's Thoughts*

                  I used to love that show, and would have stormed off set if she was my assigned designer. Hildi was a complete disaster, she did the hay thing, and spread actual sand all around once. Not a shred of common sense.

                2. Madeleine Matilda*

                  Surely her worst episode was when she had the friends glue (?) all the furniture the ceiling. It was already falling off by the reveal, if I remember correctly and of course the home owners hated it.

              1. Eater of Hotdish (fka jitm)*

                Oh, that takes me back! I used to love that show!

                Looking back, most of the renovations on TS were a good illustration of the fact that anything Awesome But Impractical (e.g. opening a B&B) needs some serious capital thrown at it or it will completely miss the mark on Awesome.

            2. FalsePositive*

              I stayed in a “creative” B&B. Our room was jungle themed and every surface had knickknacks on it. To the point where there was nowhere to put our stuff. And we were always running into things and knocking them over.

            3. Lizzy May*

              Oh, Hildi was a menace! But I would stay one night at the all Hildi B&B just to see the disasters up close. The room with sand covering the floors, the bathroom with cheap fake flowers stapled to every wall.

          2. londonedit*

            Yeah, reminds me of the ones you see on The Hotel Inspector where the owner is wedded to their ‘music theme’ and what that means is that there’s a collection of random dusty music-themed tat cluttering up the place and the decor in one of the bedrooms was inspired by Yellow Submarine.

            1. quill*

              This reminds me, I need to check and see if Netflix has picked up another season of “Instant Hotel” where Air B&B owners compete. It’s bonkers. One particularly notable contestant didn’t even own the place she was renting out.

          3. This is Artemesia*

            That sums up B&Bs in my experience — weird and uncomfortable — and often lacking in privacy with up tight owners who are afraid you will touch the tchotkes.

      2. Pennyworth*

        We had a local restaurant that closed down because the husband would not stop talking at patrons who were trying to have a meal with family and friends. His wife cooked up a storm in the kitchen, his kids brought out the food and he would come up and do the welcome-what-drinks-would-you-like spiel, then return with the drinks and just stand and talk and talk and talk. It was their first restaurant, and he was absolutely clueless.

        1. Karia*

          We recently went to a micro brewery – it was cute, dog friendly, lovely ale. But the proprietor kept inserting himself into our conversation, even when we were on the other side of the room. I’m sure some people enjoy that, but we won’t be back.

          1. Heather*

            There actually is a TV show in Britain about this. It’s called The Hotel Inspector and Alex Polizzi is the expert/presenter

            1. Ellis Bell*

              I completely LOVE that show, and was certainly thinking about it while reading OP’s letter. I haven’t seen any rambling oblivious people though, which would be delightful. The Hotel Inspector types seem to be rather surly towards guests as though they resent them for not being more fun? Ooh maybe they started out like restaurant guy and they are upset no one wanted to socialise. Anyway reality shows are great, but Pennyworth’s example should be properly dramatised imo like a sitcom but with some depth. Dad is oblivious in ways that affect his family, mum is this really strong figure but she has poor boundaries, I think a sarcastic daughter is called for too, a la Darlene from Roseanne.

            2. pandop*

              My Mum and I used to watch that together, as my parents ran a guest house while I was growing up – so we both know how much hard work it is, and that it is not a nice easy job for retirement, that so many of the people on that programme seemed to think it would be.

              1. EPLawyer*

                yeah, retirement job — open a BUSINESS. Because that’s what it is first and foremost. I’ve mentioned this before. Lots of little old ladies dream about opening their quilt shop when they retire. Some actually do — although the start up costs are HORRENDOUS just buying the stock. They think they are going to quilt all day and chat to their friends. It’ll be a permanent quilting bee.

                Then they find out its schedules, and hours of operations and marketing and inventory. A lot close (why you always google a shop before visiting) or they sell to someone else who wants to try it out for a bit.

                1. Rain's Small Hands*

                  I can’t imagine the carrying costs for inventory for quilt and yarn stores.

                2. a tester, not a developer*

                  You never realize how many different schools of quilting there are until you start thinking about opening a quilt shop.

                3. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Yeah, it’s serious work.

                  A fixed location for any kind of small business is very, very hard. It’s constant work – the owners are the staff, the cooks, the janitors, the waiters, the maids, the accountants, etc. They open, close, and work all the hours in between.

                  I own a very small business, selling things at SF&F conventions. I could probably put my stuff up on Etsy, but it would be too much work with my day job.

                  When I do a show, there are hours of work that no one accounts for – loading my stuff into a vehicle, unloading at the venue, setting up, manning the booth, tearing down, loading the vehicle, driving home dog tires then unloading the vehicle before I fall into bed.

                  A fixed location would mean that I’d have space rent, plus 60 to 80 hours a week of pre-, during and post- open time effort. If my hours were 10 am to 8 pm, Thursday to Tuesday (Wednesday off), that’s still 60 hours open each week, plus two hours each open day before and after to restock and clean up. That’s easily 72 hours a week, and I would have zero time to make things to put in my shop.

                  The idea of a full-time storefront or hospitality endeavor as a retirement business is just crackers. It’s more work than a day job. There’s no scenario where you just hang out a shingle and people instantly flock to your door and demand to hand you money. In addition to the day-to-day operations, you have to handle all advertising and outreach to get those customers. So now you’re up to 80 hours or more a week, and at least two people. It won’t make enough money after costs to hire someone and pay them realistically, so there’s no time off for illness or vacation.

                  Daydreaming is fun, but the reality is exhaustion and going broke.

                4. brightbetween*

                  It is interesting how many of our retirement pipe dreams are in the retail/food/service industry — myself included! My sister and I are TOTALLY going to open a yarn store/beer garden together.
                  When the reality of working in that industry is long hours, backbreaking physical labor and unreasonable customers, which many of us have first hand experience in from our younger days. And the reality of OWNING a business in that industry is all of the above plus barely making enough to break even, if you’re lucky.

                5. pandop*

                  I would say a guest house is even worse, as if you live in – as most do, then you are never *not* at work (unless you go out)

          2. Sasha*

            Is this not 50% of “kitchen nightmares” episodes?

            The other 50% being food safety violations.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              And for their origin stories: 50% are family restaurants that they haven’t changed anything in decades, the other 50% are the “I love cooking and wanted a change of career” crew.

              1. quill*

                With the subcategory of “I thought a restaurant would be a good investment so I could be my own boss. I hired a friend to be the head chef because he worked in fast food once. What do you mean, you can’t sell dead clams?”

                1. EmmaPoet*


                  Like this guy- ended up losing his house and nearly his marriage.

                  “As my last day approached, I brought up my idea over drinks with a friend named Jameson, who owned a popular west-end bar. After some talk about which craft beers I should offer, he turned serious. “Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked. “I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into.” I smiled, drained my pint glass. “You pulled it off,” I said. “Why can’t I?””

                  Famous last words.

          3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Well you could try Fawlty Towers (it’s dated now of course but I loved watching it with my Dad, except for when I started to worry that he’d die laughing).

        2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

          Somewhere, Gordon Ramsay is mad because this restaurant absolutely should have been on Kitchen Nightmares.

      3. Beth*

        Yep — running a B&B is a lot more about doing laundry, making beds, and cleaning bathrooms than it is about cooking lovely breakfast dishes.

        Maybe the LW can express their support by asking “Where would you like to open your B&B?”, or “What kind of breakfasts would you make?”, or even “What would you call it?” — basically, just give the friend openings for talking about the pipe dream, without ever offering to lay any of the pipe.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I’m thinking the creativity bit is more about decorating each bedroom differently “this is the Louis XIV room, this is the Marie Antoinette room, this one is decked out in Napoleonic style, this is the Venetian room…”

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yeah, the best part of a daydream that you’re not going to act on is that you can make detailed plans for the fun parts and handwave away the difficult parts. This works badly if you actually move ahead to Doing The Thing, but I have spent many idle moments over the years on planning the fun bits of the school I won’t ever be running. On the other hand, I haven’t expected my friends to listen to these detailed plans (I have such a cool idea for what to do instead of the cafeteria!), since my friends have limited interest in the specifics of my daydreams and I don’t really need their input. (I’ve had collaborative daydreams with friends in the past, like the band we’re not going to actually schedule rehearsals for, but that’s different.)

      Of course, I’ve also had friends with really half-baked plans that they were actively trying to make work and wanted my help with, and that’s a much different and more awkward kettle of fish. Then it’s kind of a case of how involved I want to be, and how realistic I think their plan actually is. There have definitely been times where I just sort of go “have fun storming the castle!” and nope right on out of being involved with the plan any further because there are just too many unconsidered or handwaved problems and I have no interest in trying to clean that mess up (which they probably wouldn’t appreciate anyway), and other times when I determine that there’s some part of the plan that I’m willing to help with and offer my help with that specific area if they’re interested.

      This plan sounds like it’s not very far along yet in terms of steps with a major cost (like buying property or quitting a job), so it’s probably best to just sit back and see if the friend is going to do the hard parts of researching B&Bs and adjusting their plan to the market realities, and not trying to pour the cold water of reality on their plan while they’re still mostly daydreaming.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Yep. I even sometimes say, “Someday when I open my ____, this is an idea I’ll use.”

        Am I ever going to do it? Not unless I win the lottery, and even then probably not, because that’s exactly when I really won’t want to lift another finger.

        1. Mongrel*

          I remember an interview with the UK lottery team whose job it was to counsel people who’d won.
          Their first piece of advice was to not rush into opening a pub\restaurant as that’s a really good way to lose a lot of money really fast. Like a few of the stories above too many vastly overestimate their own skill and underestimate the grind, thinking it’ll just be a place to hang out with a drink and chat

          1. UKDancer*

            Restaurants are a complete money pit and very seldom make anyone any profit. An awful lot of them go under very quickly. If you win a lot of money you’re probably better off investing it in equities and living on the income. (Not that I’ve ever had a lot of money but that’s my understanding).

            1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

              A retired financial guy who was a regular at my library once remarked “CL, there are three ways to lose a lot of money in a hurry; buy a sailboat, open a restaurant, and throw a party.”

              1. London Calling*

                ‘How to make a small fortune running a restaurant. Start with a large one.’ (Also applies to betting on the horses).

                1. Sigrid*

                  Or a winery! That’s where I first heard that phrase. “How do you make a small fortune in the wine business? Start with a large one.”

            2. London Calling*

              I live in a part of London that has a big sports presence and hence a lot of places to eat. The churn rate for restaurants is unbelievable; like ‘wasn’t that a Thai last week and an Italian last year? now it’s a Greek restaurant.’ And in a few months it’ll be a coffee shop.

          2. Antilles*

            Ironically, “hang out with a drink and chat” is something that the restaurant owner rarely gets to enjoy at their own place – most of the time you’re at the bar, you’ll be working and dealing with everything that comes along with that. Even if you’re there and technically “off-duty”, it wouldn’t be that relaxing because you’re still going to pay attention to the operations, you’ll still cringe when someone drops a glass, you still have staff come up and ask questions, etc.

      2. MsSolo UK*

        Open a kind of hotel set inside a living history ‘museum’ (no actual artefacts will be harmed in the making of this pipe dream) where you book a holiday in a time period, and spend a week in a Viking Long House, or Tudor Farm, or Roman Villa, with period appropriate clothing and food and lack of internet. All of the guests would be so miserable by the end of the experience (especially if they come in winter, when food is just turnips, wrinkled apples and occasionally dried meat) and kind of smug about making it through.

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Hmm a friend tried to rope me into doing some legwork for an app she wants to produce. It’s true that it’s exactly the kind of work I’d love to do, but there’s no way she could pay me, I know. She tried to get me to do it after I’d complained of not having any work come my way during lockdown. Thankfully, my business has picked up again and she knows I won’t do it when I have paid work.

    6. Storm in a teacup*

      Mine is a bookshop / tea and cake cafe in a cute little high street with lots of independent shops. The quirky decor, area for author readings or acoustic musician sets and cakes I’d bake is all picked out in my head. Just, you know, no actual details to make it a reality.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        It does sound awesome though. I’d hate running it, but would love to be a customer.

        1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          See, the way to do this is to have the capital to buy a going concern with an awesome staff and then augment it with your own touches. You never work a day. You come in and drink champagne and read and when people ask why that lady gets to saunter behind the bar and pour herself a flute the barista whispers, “That’s the owner.” Otherwise, yeah, you’re dealing with warehouse issues and staffing and taxes and blegh.

      2. to varying degrees*

        I love it….can I bring my cat??

        Mine is to win the lottery and open a cat rescue so I can play with cats all day.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          And of course cat rescues are only just barely about playing with the cats….whenever I think about getting a third cat I just think about how much more cat litter I’ll have to buy and scoop….and all the extra fur I’ll have all over my apartment. The extra cuddles and cuteness somehow don’t tip the scales towards getting that third cat, but my cats are of course perfect so that’s fine.

          1. smeep248*

            ……we have 8. At one point we had 10. That was more cats than were in residence at the local cat cafe. I also volunteer with one of the rescues that puts kitties on display at PetSmart. I scoop at lot of litter, and I deal with a lot of cat hair, and I will tell you that 5 cats is really the turning point. Cats 2-4 aren’t exponentially more but cats 5-? are. Especially if any of them are kittens. Oof.

          2. Hen in a Windstorm*

            I had three. That’s how I know three is over the limit. Don’t ever give in because there’s a cute stray that needs a home!

          3. to varying degrees*

            I currently have 3, the most I have ever had at one time (not counting fosters) is 7. It’s a lot of poop.

          4. Cat and dog fosterer*

            It’s worse than that for most rescuers. The cats and kittens are often sick and/or stressed, and the poop isn’t pleasant. So it’s not just about scooping poop, but having to deal with the stress of sick and potentially dying cats and kittens.

            But even that doesn’t compare to the stress of dealing with the people. The random people who complain about adoption fees (if you can’t afford the fee, which covers spay and vaccines, then how do you expect to pay for food and yearly vaccines?), answering foster questions and problems, dealing with other rescuers many of whom have few people skills, the never-ending stream of people asking for help and you have nothing left to give… and so much more.

            And somehow on a Saturday afternoon we find ourselves pinned to the couch by a little feral kitten who has decided that he wants to snuggle and purr, and we have to encourage that so all other plans are abandoned for over an hour, and the people part of rescue feels a bit less painful and manageable.

        2. Gracely*

          My plan if I win the lottery is to subsidize an already existing cat rescue and/or cat cafe. That way they have everything they need without my needing to figure it out, *and* I could actually play with the cats all day.

          1. quill*

            Queer friendly book store with game night. I’ll just turn up to play, if I end up needing a huge project I’ll DM.

            I could be that local old lady who turns up with snacks without the inconvenience of having to grow old first.

      3. UKDancer*

        That sounds great fun to visit so I can see why it’s your dream.

        Mine is to run a really upmarket dance studio and get some of the best dance teachers and professional dancers in the industry to run classes there. It would have really large, spacious studios and a juice bar. Then at one end I’d have a spa with some amazing therapy rooms offering some really luxurious therapies.

        Obviously I have no business plan, no money and no experience running a small business. But if the vision in my head became real that’s what I’d do.

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          Mine is a pizzeria/gaming store with rooms you can rent out to host your D&D night.

          1. Anonym*

            If you ever want to visit something similar, I highly recommend Antics Pizza in Hilo, Hawaii! Not sure if they do tabletop, but they’re an awesome little gaming and pizza shop with old and new video games. It’s a very happy place. :)

        2. Admiral Thrawn Is Always Blue*

          Many years ago I did a bit of online research into the realities of running a B n B. I loved the idea of it, taking care of people and being near them, yet not really having a real relationship (introvert here). High, nonstop workload, never getting away from it for long, you need a big house with lots of bedrooms to make any kind of money, so it takes a fortune to even get started. And mostly, it seems you make your real money when you sell your inn. But still, it is a nice dream.

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            During late Covid (about a year in) I followed the website Captivating Houses (still do). And a whole lot of fully furnished B&B and Event homes were going for “cheap.” I think a lot of people had their lives collapse with the limited travel for a year.

            In fact, here is one you can buy – not furnished – although I suspect they want to get rid of the stuff along with the inn:

            I love to look at them, and I also like to slap myself in the face with the reality of the maintenance issues of a 150 year old home and that I can’ manage to keep my flowerbeds weeded in my own house.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            As an introvert, that would be a nightmare for me! I prefer a relationship where my partner understands that I need to chill in peace sometimes.

        3. kilo*

          I’m loving reading all about everyone’s alternate self business plans. I would go to them all. Ours is a doggy daycare / beer garden in a small mountain town.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Mine is a mobile listening service. I have a van equipped with two comfy chairs in the back, along with a tea service. I drive to a lonely person’s home or rehab room, invite them in for a cuppa, and they pay me to listen to them talk for an hour. Or if they prefer, I can come in to their home, but still bring the tea. I don’t provide advice, just a friendly ear over a cup of tea.

            1. kilo*

              This is such a great idea! My mom has been staying with us for three weeks, and hoo-boy can she talk. I’d pay good money for someone else to listen for a while. She’s love it too – she can tell you all about her favourite tees.

            2. unquirky username*

              If you read speculative fiction, you might be interested in the first Monk and Robot book by Becky Chambers, wherein the titular monk is a peripatetic person who provides a similar kind of listening ear over tea.

      4. Slow Gin Lizz*

        My college friends and I had this dream our senior year. We all majored in different subjects so of course each of us would be in charge of different aspects of the bookstore. We of course knew it was never going to happen (least of which being most of us were going on to live in various East Coast states and two of us were going back to CA where they were from) but it was a fun thing to talk about nevertheless.

    7. JSPA*

      This also provides an easy conversational “out.” They talk about the B&B? You talk about your own fun fantasies for retirement, with equal enthusiasm, making it clear that it’s not an actual plan (but no less valid a conversational topic). There is real benefit to having some dreams about what could come next, that don’t involve the inevitable (but depressing) eventualities.

    8. Richard Hershberger*

      The lack of a business plan is a feature here. If they had a plausible plan, this might lead to an actual business loan, turning this idyl into a nightmare. But absent a plausible plan, they are unlikely to get the capital to achieve the nightmare.

      1. sofar*

        Yep. Just let this friend fail on their own when it comes to financing.

        I had a friend with a business idea who decided to launch an online crowd funding campaign. Some of us mentioned that a lot of those “viral” campaigns require getting some big funders to agree to contribute thousands of dollars at scheduled intervals the first few days to give it momentum that inspires ordinary folks to contribute. But this friend told us we were full of it, and that people would be so inspired he’d raise 100K, easy, and emphasized that “everyone” he told his idea to “loved it.” A few of us politely threw in some money. He raised a little over $800 total. The business did not launch.

        Unless LW is being asked to help fund this significantly, nodding and smiling is all that’s required. If it’s the case that LW is being asked to help fund, they should ask for a business plan and proof of other sources of funding (ie, a bank loan).

    9. Screen Porch Office*

      I seem to be the only one with this impression but here goes: I don’t think this was actually just a “friend.” I think this is a spouse or partner, or perhaps a sibling or parent, and LW is trying to make it more anonymous by using the term “friend.” The whole letter makes a lot more sense that way. I read it as “Help me convince my partner that their plan is unrealistic and they need to stop talking about it incessantly.”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Hmm. Yeah, if it’s a spouse or parent, even a sibling in some cases–anything where you’re the backup plan if it fails–it can be incredibly stressful to listen to them daydream about.

        Captain Awkward a few months ago had a great letter from someone who had long planned to set up a family farm, and their spouse’s current plans regarding ownership was giving writer serious concerns about proceeding. The Captain was good at laying out questions to answer both a) does this make sense to do at all; b) if yes, what’s a fair way to do ownership and pay family members for labor?

        1. bamcheeks*

          … and then they turned into last week’s “Why does Jen keep complaining that she’s heard Amy’s stories before?”

        2. Grendel*

          I saw the same letter about buying a family farm “so the kids would have an inheritance” or some such – and I thought to myself, they’ve never been on a farm, have they? Most farms of that size that I am familiar with are “hobby” farms and are NOT producing an income.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Oh, flip, looking from Ireland, the hassle there is about inheriting farms… If you have more than one kid, then even if it IS producing an income, splitting it fairly so that each of the kids can…yeah. I just googled and…there was a story in our national papers last January of somebody convicted of assault in a row over farm inheritance. These types of stories come up regularly.

          2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            Honestly I would be more afraid that instead of an inheritance it would be, “so the kids can have a headache.”

      2. Smithy*

        This makes a lot of sense.

        So my dream business is vintage clothing – and anytime anyone mentions how much I know about vintage/love it/blah blah – my response is always “sure, but I know zero about running a small business”. Because, I’ve also watched a friend with a spouse who’s assorted passions all run into assorted craftsmanship/design pursuits. Be they making clothing, furniture, etc. However, he’s also focused on completing his BA (in a liberal arts field) and talked about getting an MA – but whenever I’ve mentioned that his passions as a profession would be essentially running a small business….and why not maybe look into some guidance around that….

        I get how taking a community college or vocational course on running a small business and book keeping often isn’t part of the small business dream. But lordy, I don’t know how on earth you make one work without knowing that stuff.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I’ve worked in several universities with creative/craftmanship/design/performance courses, and they all contain a LOT of “here’s how you run a small business” because yes, of course you need to know that stuff. (And even if you just want to get the degree in jewellery design and then go and use your visual skills as a UX designer for a major corporation, the planning and business elements are still really useful!)

          1. Smithy*

            I can only imagine….

            Had my friend’s spouse stayed in school in those craftsman fields, I think this would have come up. But as school was more of a struggle, the liberal arts path ended up being a better fit based on other needs. I also had a partner who’s father did open the “my retirement dream is to open a bar”….needless to say…that was a short term venture.

            Running a small business is its own beast, and also a category of job that clearly lots of people do. So there are also lots of resources out there so people don’t have to do this alone.

        2. WhiskyTangoFoxtrot*

          I’ve been collecting antique/vintage textiles for decades and people always ask why I don’t start a shop. Um, because then I’d have to deal with people?

          1. coffee*

            That’s so cool! What do you do with the textiles? Do you make something with them, or keep them as a collection?

            1. WhiskyTangoFoxtrot*

              Personal study, use them in lectures, loan them for displays. But mostly I just pet them and marvel at the amount of work needed to create them.

        3. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          My partner and i have a small business selling jewelry (NOT an MLM, I want to stress). We’ve taught ourselves along the way with the Internet, networking with other vendors, a great tax person, and reading. We’ve had our business for something like 13-14 years now (it wasn’t technically a business the first 3-4 in that we didn’t have an LLC or turn any profit). We absolutely DO NOT earn an income from it, but it pays for itself and we get to go to all kinds of fun conventions and dress up in costume.

          But neither of us wants to turn it into anything more than that; the goal was always to make enough to sustain the business.

      3. Hlao-roo*

        It does make sense that the friend could have a closer relationship to the LW. If that’s the case, I think a lot of the advise to not put in any effort to supporting (or bursting) the dream and to make some mildly supportive noises (“sounds like a fun idea”) still holds.

        If the LW is hearing about the B&B plans from their friend/partner/family member more than they want to, the LW should try changing the topic of conversation. They may also need to have a big-picture “hey, all you ever talk about nowadays is your B&B. I miss when we used to talk about [anything else]” and see if the friend/partner/family member is receptive to limiting the B&B talk around the LW.

        1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          Mmm, and that explains the undercurrent of fear in the letter. I hate to watch my friends’ misfortunes, most especially if they’re self-inflicted. But if it was, say, my husband dreaming of running a B&B in retirement? Oh hell no.

      4. LB*

        This theory would make more sense for the way the letter is written: A spouse, parent, or even sibling has more of a responsibility to be the voice of reason than a friend, who is supposed to be enthusiastic and emotionally supportive.

        If it really is a friend then it does sound like OP is being too harsh and should just lighten up and yes-and their friend’s fun dream-planning. But if it’s a direct from my oil tie asking for help in the enterprise rather than just camaraderie, pointing out how unrealistic it is so they don’t waste time and money on it does make a lot more sense.

      5. Nameless in Customer Service*

        I agree with you, which is part of why I posted a link below about what Running a Dream Restaraunt did to the owner AND his wife and family. It’s harder to fend off the SO who wants to take the family life savings and open the dream business than a friend who’s just daydreaming.

      6. Totally Subclinical*

        My spouse is someone who regularly comes up with business ideas and has tried to start a couple, none of which ever got off the ground. Unfortunately, while they have many wonderful qualities, the ability to run a business is not one of them, and we are only still married because the money they lost figuring this out came out of funds that were earmarked as solely theirs rather than out of joint family money.

        Fortunately, they’ve realized they’re not able to put the time and focus into running a business, so when they talk about how they’d like to make a business doing X or Y, I can nod and listen without having to say “so, how are you going to deal with these practical aspects like tracking inventory?” or “is there really a market for this product/service?” If they start making noises about putting actual money into it, that’s when I’ll start asking those questions. (It is difficult, though, to say “honestly, I don’t think you have the temperament to run a business and I can’t support your efforts to start one” in a way that doesn’t sound like “you are an incompetent person”.)

        And no, I am not willing to support them by taking a role in their theoretical business. Even if I wanted to or thought I’d be good at it, I’m providing the household steady paycheck and health insurance; I don’t have the time or energy to run someone else’s business on the side.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Your spouse does presumably have things they are good at, so you should emphasise them before going on to say that X Y and Z skills are also necessary to run your own business, and they absolutely don’t have those. Not everyone is cut out for running their own business.

    10. Harper the Other One*

      I think the wish-fulfillment part is absolutely the way to go. “Yes, wouldn’t that be lovely?” And on to other things. The fantasy of it WOULD be lovely, after all!

    11. Snow Globe*

      I strongly suspect that when the friend complains that their friends aren’t being “supportive” the friend isn’t looking for research assistance, they just want their friends to stop telling them that this is a bad idea. Just make supportive comments – “that sounds like something you will really enjoy”, “I am really cheering you on, that sounds like something you’ll enjoy in retirement”.

      1. Moira Rose's Closet*

        This is how I interpreted it, too. I think the friend just wants their friends to stop being discouraging.

      2. Dr Sarah*

        This is exactly what I thought. Might be wrong… but my strong impression is that the LW is interpreting this as a request for practical advice/help, while the friends only brought it up as something to enjoy daydreaming about. So, when they’re saying ‘Be more supportive!’ they mean it as ‘Stop hitting me over the head with reality when what I want is vague but enthusiastic expressions of delight at the thought so that we can mutually enjoy the daydream!’ The LW then hears ‘Be more supportive’ as a request for more practical advice/help and doubles down on the very behaviour that’s bothering the friends, and so they get caught in this loop.

        I also strongly suspect that if the LW *does* just back off/go with the enthusiastically vague delight at the idea, the friends will either never actually get any further, or will start looking into the practicalities of what it would take and will stop short very quickly. I don’t think the attempts to talk them out of this are necessary; reality’s going to do that job.

      3. AthenaC*

        Right – I got the impression from the letter that every time the friend daydreams about a B&B, OP1 reflexively goes Negative Nancy about the ugly reality. Honestly, if I were the friend that would annoy me. I mean – it definitely annoys me when my mom does it all. the. time.

        What if OP1 tried just making vague supportive noises in the friend’s general direction? The friend has the resources when she wants to get serious but there’s no harm in pleasant daydreaming for now.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      In its way, this is much easier to manage friend-wise than a friend who is taking active steps to dump their life savings into a dubious money-making scheme. If they can’t even google the first steps, you’re likely a long way from any talk about whether this is the right path for their IRA.

    13. Koalafied*

      Ah, yes, I have a fantasy business idea. The fantasy is that I own the business, and I’m watching customers enjoy the services, but I’m not actually responsible for any of the work. I’ve hired an amazing and experienced operations manager who’s hired her own Dream Team of front line staff who all go above and beyond every day because they truly love working for my business. The customers are happy to pay what we’re charging, which is more than enough to pay my amazing staff generously and have enough leftover to buy myself a few nice things, and we only get 5-star reviews.

      … Well, it’s nice to dream, anyway!

    14. KofSharp*

      Yeah, it’s fun to talk about the dreams, but I googled what it would take to start a couple of my dreams and realized I wasn’t up for it.
      Best thing you can do is say stuff like “That’s a cool idea!” And then move on. If they ask for investment capitol, then you can move into the “What’s your business plan?” Questions.

      1. Another freelancer*

        Yeah, if the bank doesn’t put the brakes on the plan by rejecting a loan, then the local rules and regulations will.

        Many years ago, I volunteered with my local farmers market. Abut once a season at least, someone would get the idea they should sell cookies/pies/cheese at the market because they are good at it. The market’s leader would then gently ask about the commercial kitchen they work out of, if they were current on licenses and if they had insurance. The person who wanted to sell would just slowly walk away and that was usually that! It’s amazing to see how many people think they can genuinely rock up to a market with a box of cookies and start selling.

        1. Very Social*

          In my state, at least, you can sell food at farmer’s markets made in your own kitchen, following fairly simple cottage kitchen guidelines. I know this because I looked up cottage kitchen laws when fantasizing about my own small-business dream, baking sourdough bread and selling it to individual subscribers :D (It actually seems pretty feasible, though I wouldn’t expect to make any money at it, and I was disappointed to find that I wouldn’t be able to sell the bread to the local coffee shop.)

    15. just another queer reader*

      A coworker of mine recently told me, “work is so stressful! I want to quit and open a coffeeshop.”

      I’m choosing to view that as a fantasy because I imagine that owning and running a coffeeshop would also be very stressful, and without the benefit of a steady paycheck! Best of luck to my coworker though.

      1. Critical Rolls*

        They want to own and run Central Perk from Friends. In that economic universe, anything is possible.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        While it’s not QUITE the same thing, you’ve reminded me of the friend who told me she was planning to train to be a teacher because her current job was “so boring and stressful.” I told her I could promise her teaching would not be boring, but couldn’t promise on the stressful. Well, she did the qualification, but…not sure she ever taught a day in her life and spent the year counting down how many more weeks she had to do it. Going in to any job thinking it will let you avoid stress seems like a bad idea.

        And yeah, that goes double for owning one’s own business where you take on all of the stresses. At least, say in teaching, there is a principal and deputy principal and so on behind you that have to deal with some of the stress. If you own a business, it all falls on you.

    16. Blarg*

      I’ve been planning my ice cream shop for years — regular ice cream place by day, fancy high end boozy ice cream concoctions by night. Except I have no business acumen, no desire to run a business, feel guilt ridden in advance that I won’t be able to pay my hypothetical employees enough, and also stopped drinking more than 20 years ago. But you know. Maybe one day… :)

    17. Jam Today*

      Yup, I pretend-own a farmhouse in central NY (that actually used to belong to my great-grandfather, and where my grandfather was born in the parlor!) that I have restored to its Queen Anne glory and have as an operating small family farm (very small, like some chickens, goats, two donkeys, and at least one capybara, fruit trees, and a large vegetable garden), and also use to host “country” retreats for wealthy New Yorkers.

        1. Jam Today*

          They’re just the chillest animals! Apparently they’re stinky so I’d have to figure that out but then again this is pretend so it can just be not stinky in my imagination.

    18. Petty Betty*

      My 3rd ex-husband always had *IDEAS* for businesses. They all included him going back to college (when he’s still paying off the loan for his first round of college that he didn’t finish – and by “didn’t finish”, I mean he didn’t take the final test of his final class and didn’t get his degree, and refused to do it under the guise of “we couldn’t afford it” – it was $200 for the test, and yes, it was affordable). He didn’t want to hear how he needed a business plan, proposals, a viable set of goals, income streams, etc. What he wanted was someone (me) to enthusiastically sign on and open the purse strings to *fund* his cockamamie schemes. I did that once with my first ex-husband (not by choice, he just took the money out of our joint account and put the “business” in my name without telling me – what a shock I got later!).
      Of course, being pragmatic and having spent decades running my own business(es), I wasn’t about to throw money down the toilet. I was called “unsupportive”, “heartless”, “unwilling to take risks” and his mother was real quick to try to convince him I was “financially abusive” (it’s all a part of her gold digger theory). All I wanted was a viable business plan that I didn’t have to write or hand-hold and walk him through, since he was insistent I wasn’t a co-owner. His business, his responsibility. He wants “investors”, then I want to see work/effort. I wanted to see that he knew what he was doing, and without dropping tens of thousands on a 4 year degree again.

      Instead, he chose to mope for a few years and we ended up divorcing because he still doesn’t understand that money isn’t like water and we do need to have a savings account. His grand business ideas? Still very much shelved. None of them would work in our climate anyway.

      I think these folks are much the same way. They want enthusiasm and possibly people to beg to be investors, but they don’t really want anyone poking holes in their dream bubble.

      1. Nameless in Customer Service*

        I hear you. I almost wonder if I know you IRL — I’ve seen this happen more than once.

      2. sub rosa for this*

        Whoa, I think I dated a close relative of that guy. So did a few of my friends.

        Did yours also spend gobs of “our” money on camera/woodworking/leathercraft/somethingelse equipment, promising to make amazing things and sell them to “our” friends?

        (The fun part: After the breakup, we all went around embarrassedly paying friends back for the prepaid but undelivered custom handbags/teapots/charcuterie boards/whatever.)

        Ugh. That guy.

    19. Clobberin' Time*

      Maybe, but most of us who have little wish-fulfillment dreams don’t accuse our friends of being “not supportive” for failing to help us do the groundwork for making that dream seem more real.

    20. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      In one of my toddler parenting books a recommended strategy to deal with tantrums is wish fulfillment: I know you want to stay at the park, wouldn’t it be fun if we could stay all day? Ice cream would be yummy for dinner, but tonight we’re having chicken, etc. I wonder if that’s an approach the OP could take here: A B&B does sound fun! You could make little muffins for the guests! Imagine all the people you’d meet!

      Indulge them in their fantasy, but don’t actively encourage or commit to it. You want to aim for “wouldn’t it be fun” not “it will be fun”.

    21. CoveredinBees*

      Ohhh, the many businesses I’ve constructed in my daydreams. However, in the real world I’d spend all my time doing business management/admin stuff instead of whatever I’d dreamed up. I’m actually good at admin stuff, but would not be able to handle it for my own dream business.

    22. Meri*

      Mine is a little gaming and book store. Where I can also sell baked goods. Trying to decide what mural I’d want on the wall is very relaxing when you need sleep. Since it’s never going to be closer to reality than that, I don’t need to worry about things like permits and loans.

      (Beth, if you like fantasy books, I recommend Legends and Lattes, about a retired adventurer with a similar dream!)

      1. Beth*

        Ooh, I will look that up!

        I love how many of our dreams come down to “a little coffee shop/cafe/bar that would serve as a community space for the groups we love and want to support.” And I love how many people are commenting that these spaces sound lovely and they want to go.

        It just goes to show, the people who claim no one would work if money were no object are wrong. We want to work–we just want to do it in ways that support and sustain our communities, instead of in ways that build up huge profits for CEOs we’ll never meet.

    23. EmmaPoet*

      Mine is a bar with quiet music and NO TV EVER. Comfy chairs and books to read, and a silent room where nobody can talk. You order your drink and pay via your phone. The waitstaff wear comfy stealthy shoes and slip in and out.

    24. DrunkAtAWedding*

      I would run a craft store called Helen B. Merry’s. My job title would be “the Helen.”

  2. AnotherSarah*

    LW1, is it possible your friend is just enjoying the fantasy? Unless you see them pulling their savings out to start this business, can’t you fantasize with them or just let them daydream? Lots of people enjoy these fantasies without ever acting on them.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I wondered that too (I can certainly identify as someone who generates a lot of “plans” I won’t ever get around to carrying out..
      ) except they said it’s for their retirement plan, which makes me wonder if they don’t already have a retirement plan (savings etc) in place and are now starting to grasp at this in a little bit of a panic!

      1. Beth*

        The thing is, OP1 might as well assume it’s a fantasy, because it’s not like there’s anything they can do about it if this is their friends’ real retirement plan. It would be concerning if the friends are approaching retirement age and genuinely have no savings or plan beyond this, but there’s nothing OP can do about that beyond what they’ve already done. They’ve already given their honest opinion that this is risky, and the friends weren’t receptive to that message. They don’t have alternate retirement options to offer their friends. It is what it is. As long as the friends are just talking about it, OP might as well treat it as a particularly elaborate daydream and stop worrying themselves over it.

      2. PollyQ*

        I took “retirement plan” to mean “what I’ll do to occupy myself once I’m retired” rather than a financial plan. But it is true that if they don’t have retirement savings, then they’re going to be in for a world of hurt, or if they’re planning on investing their savings into a business they seem to know nothing about, they’re likely to be residing on a similarly painful planent.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          That was how I read it too: “we have this brilliant plan for what we’ll do when we are retired. It’s going to be so much fun.” It is more concerning if it’s instead of a pension plan.

        2. Antilles*

          Yeah, that’s how I read it too – it’s simply what they want to do to keep themselves busy post-retirement, in the same way that people talk vaguely about “if I ever won the lottery and didn’t have to work…” or “once the kids are in college…” or so forth.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, I really hope that by “retirement plan” they just mean “what I plan to do when I retire from my current job.” Not that their plan is to have no savings and go into retirement with lots of brand new enormous debt. And if that is really their plan I hope they have thought very honestly about what they would do if the business fails.

    2. Despachito*

      In such a case, it should be crystal clear to both parts that it is just a fantasy.

      But the way the friend is talking about it (retirement plan etc) makes me think that they are rather serious.

      1. Observer*

        Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. It’s still a good approach for the OP.

        Unless and until the friend actually starts doing things like finding out what it would cost to do this, looking at getting loans, etc. it is nothing more than a fantasy. And the OP can safely treat it as such.

        Saying “Oh! That sounds cool. What are you going to call it?” is positive and supportive, and doesn’t indicate any assumption (positive or negative.)

      2. Education Mike*

        …why? Maybe it’s a fantasy, maybe it’s a semi-fantasy. It doesn’t seem like the friend asked OP for advice or help, just to be more supportive, i.e. don’t crap on my fun plans when I tell you about them.

        1. Despachito*

          I see a big difference here – if both of us know that we are on the same page – i. e. that it positively IS a fantasy, we can daydream as much as we like because there is no risk that the friend will get in trouble.

          However, if there is even a slim chance that the friend would want to make the dream real, I would feel that if I fantasize with them, they may take it as the green light that I think it is doable.

          And I infer from how OP writes about it that something makes them think it is the second case.

    3. Saraquill*

      My husband and I have had similar business ideas. When we discuss them with our friends, I make it clear they are purely fantasy. I’d rather avoid confusion like what may be happening with LW1’s friend.

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      It might be all sorts of confused mixtures of the above. Regardless, I’ve found “do you want me as a cheerleader or as a troubleshooter?” said on a light tone to be helpful sometimes.

  3. Annie Edison*

    OP #1- when your friend says you’re not supportive, what do they mean? If they’re looking for logistical support of the sort you’re suggesting here, I think Allison’s answer is exactly right.

    But I’m wondering if maybe they are more just looking for a cheering section? I don’t have hospitality experience but I do run my own business and for me, when I ask my friends for support I am really just looking for someone to be unequivocally in my corner and tell me I’m awesome on the days I’m feeling low and scared.

    Supporting your friend could maybe look like simply mirroring their enthusiasm for this dream, and letting them figure out the practicalities on their own. Every business venture is risky and looks impossible from the outside- your friend will either figure out quickly that it’s not a good path for them, or find a way to make it work in spite of the stress and challenges.

    In either case, they’ll need someone to cheer them on and celebrate the risks they’re taking, regardless of the outcome. I’d try focusing your energy there instead of logistical support and see where that gets you

    1. MK*

      If they are looking for logistical support, frankly they aren’t looking for support, the want unpaid labour. It’s really not a friend’s obligation to help you set up a business!

      As for cheering, I think the OP doesn’t feel comfortable offering that, because a failure cukd mean her friend ends up broke and in debt at 65; I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage that. Maybe it’s better for the OP to admit to herself that, actually, she doesn’t support this idea, and disengage.

    2. Despachito*

      I’d be afraid that if I mirror enthusiasm it may reassure the friend that what they are planning is really cool and worth realizing, while OP1 (and, given the circumstances, probably any reasonable person) thinks the opposite. And moreover, that would be insincere.

      Perhaps it would be worth verifying with the friend what they really want – pleasant daydreaming while knowing that it will never come true and with no intention of actually doing anything? If this is very clear, I think it would be harmless to fantasize with them and pick with them upholstery for a dream café that will never materialize.

      However, from what LW1 said, it looks rather that the friend wants it to come true. In such a case, I’d stick to “I really do not know anything about this kind of business and how it is done”, and add that you consider it to be very risky even for a person with funds and experience (which you already said) and leave it to that.

      As several people pointed out, the idea will probably crumble down on itself before it starts, especially if the person is unwilling to do the basic initial legwork. If they want YOU to do it, it is so absurd that it is difficult to even think about it. (I have a specific dream I know basically nothing about, but I am too lazy to find the basic information, and instead want my friends, who do not know anything about it either and have no interest in my idea, to do it for me? WTF?) OF COURSE you cannot do that.

      And one more caveat – it seems that your friend is somewhat miffed that you are not “supportive enough” for a thing that is not your circus, not your monkeys. I’d be afraid that they are prone to externalize guilt and that if I actively found some information for that friend and overall become “supportive” by doing things for them, they will inevitably blame ME if something goes wrong, and I’d bet this thing is doomed to go wrong.

      Long story short, I’d rather risk them to be miffed if I do nothing than if I do something (I don’t feel like doing for various reasons).

      1. Sasha*

        You can definitely make supportive comments like “that plan for a turret sounds just like the Disney castle”, “you have such great taste”, “wow a house with a working drawbridge would be cool to live in” without actually say “yes you should definitely invest your life savings in a mediaeval-themed B&B”.

        I agree OP definitely shouldn’t do any legwork in terms of getting this off the ground, and “sorry I have no idea about the practicalities of this stuff, but I’d love to hear about the menu again!” should get OP off the hook.

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah…I can see how the OP’s friend might just be a bit frustrated that every time they mention their plans and dreams, people respond with ‘You know that’s really hard work’ and ‘You know you’ll never make any money’ and ‘You know you need a proper business plan before a bank will even talk to you’. They might just want someone to say ‘Wow, that sounds so exciting – I hope you can find a way to make it work!’. But I also see how the OP might be uncomfortable encouraging their friend to do something that could backfire and ruin their retirement plans. I wonder whether there are any noncommittal phrases that the OP could come up with, like maybe ‘Wow, that really would be living the dream’ or ‘You always have such exciting dreams for the future’, something that doesn’t come right out and piss on their chips but that also doesn’t say ‘You should totally go for this!!!’. It might well be that none of this ever comes to fruition, but it makes the friend happy to dream about it.

    3. JSPA*

      They may only want to hear, “Neat!” “Fun idea!” “I’d never have thought of that!” instead of facts or figures.

      On the other hand, they may be looking for investors (in which case, they’re treating you as some combination of patsy and business partner… not as friends… in which case, they’re the ones tanking the friendship by acting entitled to your money, time and effort).

    4. Snow Globe*

      That is exactly how I read it – the friend just wants people to stop saying it’s a bad idea and to offer supportive comments. And the supportive comments don’t need to imply “this is a great idea, you are going to have a really successful business”, just “that sounds really cool” or “I’d love to stay in your B&B once it gets going.”

      1. Education Mike*


        OP doesn’t say that the friend asked for advice or input on the idea, just that they told the friend that it wasn’t a good one. It seems very unlikely the friend asked for any actual logistical help, bc OP says they “think” their friend would like them to do research, which would be a very odd way to convey that their friend had specifically asked for their help. It sounds like OP is offering advice and assuming their logistical help is wanted.

        If someone doesn’t ask for your advice, assume they don’t want it, or ask them if they do. Otherwise, you’re wasting your breath 9 times out of 10.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Agree with Anne Edison that it’s worth finding out what “being supportive” means for your friend, because that’s so subjective. Friendships can be made or broken over these things, so if you’re not sure what’s expected of you, find out and decide whether that’s something you’re comfortable giving them.

      I say this as a creative person/professional myself who associates with similar types: sometimes creative people just want smoke blown up their bums over how “creative”, “clever” and “edgy” they are. It’s about validation and encouraging their creative spirit much more than wanting practical advice. I’m not saying the latter isn’t valid and more warranted, just that offering it unsolicited can be friendship-ending if they’re not up for receiving it. (I was far too much on the practical end of the spectrum for one of my former creative friends before I realised that).

    6. kiki*

      I was thinking the same thing. It sounds to me like maybe communication styles are getting crossed. The friend wants someone to say, “You do make great french toast– guests would be lucky to try it!” while LW shows their care, concern, and support by offering pragmatic advice.

      It makes me think of a story with my dad. When I was in high school and thinking about career paths, I thought I might want to become an illustrator. I would stay up late illustrating, emerging from my room to eat 2 am poptarts. At one point I was feeling down because my dad hadn’t said anything about my illustrations, so I felt like he didn’t like or support my dream. When I brought this up, he looked bewildered and said, “Of course I think you’re a great illustrator, why do you think I’ve been buying so many poptarts for you???” Human communication is tricky

  4. coffee*

    I feel so tired just thinking of starting a hospitality business instead of retiring. There’s a lot of work involved! (Maybe there’s a financial consideration? My sympathies to them if so.)

    1. This is Artemesia*

      the greatest thing about retiring is not having to get up at the crack of dawn and work — a B&B is all about getting up before the crack of dawn to make fancy breakfast and then clean toilets.

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        #1 Maybe suggest that your friend get some experience in the hotel industry before retiring and opening a bed and breakfast. If they have a normal office job now, they could look for part-time work at a bed and breakfast or lodge on the weekends. That way they’ll see what has to be done, and may get some good ideas for their own business.

      2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        I know, right? It’s got to be a HUGE amount of work.

        I’m wondering if this person watched a few too many episodes of Newhart! That show made it look effortless, mainly because the focus was on Dick, while his wife was obviously doing most of the heavy lifting. >:-p

        1. Skytext*

          Also, he continued his successful career as a writer of how-to books, which was their main income (plus I think he got a lot residuals from all his past books). They never made it clear whether the inn even broke even—it seemed like there was always some expensive repair putting them deep in the hole.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            They also had 2 staff members (George & Stephanie), which made a difference.

            But it was clearly not the couple’s main source of income.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          They also had 2 staff members (George & Stephanie), which made a difference.

          But it was clearly not the couple’s main source of income.

      3. Baby Yoda*

        Exactly right. My friend and her ex owned a B&B in New England. Notice they are now exes.

      4. London Calling*

        My late aunt and her husband opened a B&B in SW England and that’s exactly what it is – very hard work. She did the cooking pretty much singlehanded, he did front of house and other family members were waiting on tables and growing a lot of the food. They were very popular and got a lot of repeat business but it isn’t an easy life. Visiting them involved spending a lot of time in the kitchen because that was where she spent most of her time.

      5. cardigarden*

        Sometimes the job includes getting up way before the crack of dawn to light fires to make sure your guests have hot water (rustic mountain cabin set-up).

    2. Heidi*

      I feel like this is the type of job that is often romanticized and people think it’s going to be fun and glamorous even. Bed and breakfasts are super fun to stay at, but the people who run them are always working. I actually think it’s okay to not be supportive of this if you think it’s not a good idea, OP. It doesn’t make you a bad friend.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        The best way to be “supportive” is often to give an honest and fair opinion, rather than false hope, imo.

      2. londonedit*

        Definitely – there’s a TV programme here called Escape to the Country, where a presenter helps a couple/a person from the city to find a property to buy in the countryside. They show them around a few houses, it’s basically property porn but it’s always interesting hearing what these people think they want (which often changes dramatically once they actually see the houses that apparently fit their wishlist). So many of them have a totally romanticised notion of the countryside – they want an old house with character, but no small rooms, they want light and high ceilings and open-plan living instead, they want to be in a village but with no neighbours, or they want to be out in the middle of absolutely nowhere but you can tell they’ve given no consideration to the fact that they’ll be miles away from a shop or a pub or any sort of social interaction. And so many of them say they want to start a B&B or a holiday let business or have a field full of yurts and shepherd’s huts and whatnot. Of course some people do that and make a real success of it, but you can just tell that the majority of them haven’t thought through how much work it would be – they just see the dream of living in a beautiful patch of countryside and being the beaming host serving up eggs from their own chickens in the morning.

        1. Skytext*

          I love that show! How about all the people that want a B&B, but when shown B&Bs they complain about how they want their privacy and are mad the guest parts are lovely while “their” private part is small and pokey lol. Or they want a small holding with all kinds of livestock, but have never even had a pet! So have no concept of how much work raising livestock is.

          1. Mrs. Smith*

            My husband & I love that show! The most infuriating episode was one in which the prospective buyers visited a charming historic property that had a detached tea house WITH AN ESTABLISHED CLIENTELE – it was utterly perfect, so cute, open daily for lunches/tea and like one weekend night with live music for dinners – and turnkey ready and they turned it down because wife was too in love with the idea of a B&B with overnight guests rather than the kind that go home to their own beds at 10 pm after spending their money with you. We’re still actually furious about it, not kidding.

            1. londonedit*

              That’s hilarious. I think my ‘favourite’/most rage-inducing was the one where in the course of the house tours it emerged that the couple, who of course were looking for a charming country property, had never lived in anything apart from new-build houses and couldn’t get their heads around looking at anything with other people’s furniture and decorating in it. I swear they actually said they weren’t sure about buying a house that other people had lived in.

        2. London Calling*

          And they never think of ‘where’s the nearest hospital if we need it, what’s that hospital like, what’s this idyllic village like in the depths of winter and what’s public transport like if we have to give up the car?’ I grew up in the country – one reason why I’m not retiring too far from a city with decent amenities.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, 100%. Of course the country can be a lovely place to live, but there’s a reason why I left at 18 to go to uni and have lived in a city ever since. So many people – especially in the last two years – have left London for a rural village and then discovered that you have to drive three miles to the shop if you want a pint of milk, you can’t get a takeaway and there are no public transport options. My parents’ village is objectively lovely and thankfully still has a pub, but there’s no village shop and the bus service was stopped years ago. I enjoy visiting them but I get extremely frustrated with having to get in the car to go anywhere (especially when I’m meeting friends for dinner in a different town and I either have to cadge a lift from my parents or not have anything to drink all evening!)

            1. London Calling*

              I’ve lived in London since I was 14. It’s a family joke (the rest of them LOVE being out in the sticks and aforesaid aunt and uncle retired to a village in deeply rural France) that I get twitchy if I go off the tube map.

              I love the country. For about two weeks.

              1. londonedit*

                High five! The rest of my family live in the country, near where I grew up, and I can enjoy it for a couple of weeks (especially over Christmas when no one wants to do anything more than stroll to the pub anyway) but I couldn’t live there.

                1. London Calling*

                  I mean, it’s not as if I’ve ever NEEDED to run out for fresh pasta at 10pm, but I like to know that it’s there somewhere if I do without a 20 mile drive. I’m just an irredeemable townie.

                  Years ago when I was temping I was sent to a bank in the City of London after months of working for small companies in the ‘burbs. I came out of Bank tube, looked at all the people rushing here and there and thought ‘Now that’s more like it!’

            2. Irish Teacher*

              I spent a weekend on one of the Aran Islands, islands off Ireland where Irish is the spoken language and which are really beautiful with beaches and so on. I loved it but I don’t know HOW people live there. In the winter, I think there are times it’s completely cut off, there were parts of the island that had no mobile coverage so I had to wait to even text people (this has probably improved in the intervening years) and even in the few days we were there, one of my friends ran into difficulties because she hadn’t brought enough money and there was no banking access (and this was before you could do everything with a credit card).

              My preference is for large towns (which in Ireland means a population of say 5,000 to maybe 30,000), small enough that you can walk places and aren’t surrounded by crowds and noise, but large enough to have most amenities. London would freak me out – the population is larger than my entire country.

              Actually, I just remember when I was 15, we had to write about our dream futures as adults and even then, before I even knew just how cut off rural villages could be, I wrote that I would live in a medium to large sized town and our teacher expressed surprise because virtually everybody else in the class had said they wanted to live in a small cottage in the country.

          2. PollyQ*

            No joke! Speaking as someone who got injured on a trip to Big Sur, you really do want to take into account how far away the nearest hospital is, especially if you’re retirees who are getting on in years.

            (Spoiler: it was an hour’s ambulance drive away in Carmel, and I got excellent care there. Fortunately, insurance covered the cost.)

            1. londonedit*

              Yep! It’s a BBC series but they repeat the older ones on some of the other home/property channels these days and it’s always hilarious seeing the house prices in 2012 or whatever.

        3. Eater of Hotdish (fka jitm)*

          Oh, that show! I’ve really enjoyed it in the past, and I wonder how it’d hold up now that I’ve relocated to a village in a rural area. I’d probably be yelling at them, “Do you REALLY want to drive an HOUR EACH WAY to the DENTIST??”

          I mean, I really like it here, but that took some serious getting used to.

        4. coffee*

          I love Escape to the Country! One of my favourite episodes was the one where the couple actually bought the second house they went to – like, they did the house tour, the owners came home, and they organised the sale that day.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        How can I live on a beautiful, spacious old house, full of character, with a view of the sea?

        In Oregon we stayed in a bed and breakfast on a fruit tree farm. It was beautiful indoors and out, with lots of quiet spaces in which one could kick back with a book.

    3. Jem One*

      Yeah! The hospitality industry is a hard grind. Opening your own small business is also really hard. Opening your own small business in hospitality is not going to be a fun retirement for the vast majority of people – especially people who aren’t even motivated to do their own basic research. It’s much more likely to fail and take any retirement savings your friend has down with it.

      Let this be their daydream, but leave them to get it off the ground (if they can) themselves.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Was it only last week we got the letter about the Agro tourism place? The folks quit their high pressure city jobs to go live in the country and now there was DRAMA. A lot of us suspected the complaining couple didn’t think things through and thought it would be all fun on the farm rather than, you know, a job. With really sucky hours. They even complained one coworker was putting the needs of the guests over their own.

        1. Clisby*

          My husband said his father only told one joke in his life.

          Q: What’s the difference between dairy farming and being in prison?
          A: In prison you don’t have to milk those cows.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            There’s a song “It’s Grand to be a Farmer” that might amuse your husband. It’s basically saying much the same thing.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Yup, I’m already thinking of continuing to correct the state exams when I retire (I actually googled to see if this is allowed and it is), which takes 3-4 weeks a year and is done at home, so you can set your own schedule to an extent (I usually work 1:30pm to 4, 5:30 to 7 and 8:30 to 10pm) and possibly give grinds (extra tuition outside school, maybe a couple of hours a week), but running a hospitality business? I suspect that’s a lot more work than a full-time job. And even more so than the work, there’s also the being at the beck and call of your customers. It’s a very customer oriented business. When I retire, I might want to continue doing SOMETHING, but I’d like it to be something I can control, not something where I’ll be getting complaints if the beds aren’t made or breakfast is served too late or somebody hasn’t gotten a room with a nice view.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Granted, its NOT in hospitality, but my husband does own his own business. It is customer oriented. It is 24/7. He gets phone calls on Christmas and New Year’s Day. The phone sometimes rings at 3:45 a.m.

        A B&B sounds like its own special sort of hell though. His business is pretty cut and dried (it is, or it isn’t, fixable, based on what someone is willing to pay). And the customers are not in our house!

  5. Anon for this*

    #5, if you get that offer, do listen to Alison and take a week you had slated for notice for yourself!! I am so glad she suggested this – it sounds like you desperately need it, and weren’t about to give yourself “permission.” Fingers crossed for you for the new job!

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Absolutely! You would never get done what the manager would ask you to do because she would want more from you no matter what, just as she has the entire time you’ve worked there. Remember why you’re looking to leave, and enjoy having a week of vacation. The last thing you need is having that ball and chain of an unreasonable workplace get dragged into your new one because you didn’t have the down time that you deserve. Good luck with your final interview!

      1. My cat is the employee of the month*

        Agreed! Through a strange series of events, I ended up giving about 4 weeks notice when I left a job. My manager still managed to panic the last few days and wanted me to finish several other tasks, which was the entire reason I didn’t want to give that much notice. I stayed firm with my boundaries, and took some time off before starting my new job. It was a great decision, especially because I needed to accrue time off, and I could start fresh at the new place.

    2. JSPA*

      #2, circadian defects are a physical problem, not an act of rudeness. They are surprisingly common. They can also be hard for the person with the issue to appreciate, as (by definition) “suddenly feeling like it’s 3 a.m. and zoning / zonking out” isn’t something people appreciate in real time. Not knowing if you’ve been a bit noddy for 5 minutes, or out cold for half an hour, is absolutely a thing. (I only noticed the scope of my problem when I took up cycling, and fell asleep on the bike. (When driving, I notice I’m feeling a bit vague with plenty of time to pull over; when walking, as strava tells me, I drop to under 1 mph but keep putting one foot in front of the other; if I’m sitting, I notice if I drop something I’m holding, like pencil or phone, but not otherwise.)

      The idea that this is taken as a moral or attentional “failure” that “looks bad” bugs the heck out of me.

      I know the genetic basis, in my case. But even people who don’t–especially, provided they’re otherwise responsible human beings–equally deserve being treated as responsible human beings, regardless of their inherent day-night cycles.

      If you want to let the boss know that

      a) it’s noticable when it happens and that

      b) you would like to know how you should handle it, if it happens,

      That’s in bounds. But if the boss says, “Yep, I nod off sometimes, can’t control it, just ignore it” then that’s their prerogative. You wouldn’t speculate if the issue were, “walking with a cane” or “extreme myopia” or any other more obviously biological issue, right?

      Nor would you say, “boss, I’m worried that if you show up with a visible limp, or are squinting through thick glasses, they’ll have second thoughts.” Treat this as analogous to those.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          It’s quite easy to accidentally reply when you want to make a new comment. The system is a little touchy.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Similarly – had a coworker who dealt with sleep apnea. He was fine if he was standing and working. He zonked within two minutes of sitting down. Went rounds with someone who insisted that he needed to participate in meetings (It was fully unnecessary and out of the realm of reasonable even if said coworker didn’t have sleep apnea. It was NOT in our contract. Oddly enough, the diagnosis gave us the ability to push back on this non-contractual “requirement” that someone made up.). The solution for this was to, of course, actually follow the written and executed contract. Go figure.

    3. Waiting on the bus*

      Really glad Alison suggested it. Three weeks notice is still generous! And honestly, it sounds as though OP will have a rough notice period anyway, so they should take the opportunity to recharge.

      If the transition when OP leaves isn’t smooth that’s the boss’ problem. She’s the one who failedby foisting everything off to OP in the first place.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Yes, three weeks is generous. I’d also suggest OP try and use the three weeks to really distance themselves from old job emotionally and take a hard look at when/where they place their boundaries.

        OP, when you turn in your notice, take a deep breath, exhale and repeat the following to yourself as necessary during your notice period…. “What is she going to do?… fire me? Oh no, a longer vacation before my new job starts, how awful.” (Make sure to add as much cynicism and sarcasm as possible to break through that emotional responsibility for old-job that you are holding onto.)

        Please, please, please, in the future do not check email while on vacation. The whole point of vacation and time off is to get away. The being available 24/7/365 is harmful for society at large and needs to stop.

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      After giving extended notice to a difficult boss once, I would never do the same thing again. It ultimately didn’t help the business at all in my case (even though I thought they’d need it), it just unnecessarily extended the awkward for me.

      Take the time off for yourself OP, sounds like you more than need it and more than earned it. If she gives you drama over your 2 days off, fine! Work them/be on call/whatever. But then it’s the standard 2 weeks notice only. You’re better off out of there earlier with more time to reset and recharge after dealing with that level of toxicity. And know that you’re not doing anything wrong giving a standard 2 weeks, despite what she may try guilting you into!

    5. kiki*

      Yes, take a week for you! An extra week isn’t going to make a meaningful dent in getting the boss up to speed on a business they stopped managing years ago, but it WILL make a huge difference in your rest and ability to bring your best self to your new job.

    6. Jack Bruce*

      Yes! I gave my old workplace around a month’s notice to be very generous, which included 2 pre-approved days off. Giving my notice, my old (bad) boss said, “You’re not still taking those other days, are you?” Uh yeah I definitely was. She wanted to claw back whatever she could from me. I had no guilt about it then, or when her first reaction was “well, this is going be a busy few months for ME…” This boss then barely spoke to me the rest of my notice. Definitely take a week between jobs, that reset time is crucial.

      1. Pickle Pizza*

        Omg I would have replied with, “Well then I guess this will help give you some perspective on why I’m leaving in the first place”.

  6. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    “We’re just not very creative ourselves and don’t really have the first clue what should be done, other than to google information about getting into that type of work, etc. Our friend would probably like if we did that for them, but we all work full-time jobs and just don’t have the time.”

    I suspect they want you to figure out and run things behind the scenes for them. But with their creative vision and being their idea they will be the boss. Are you interested in this business partnership. Presumably no talk has even commenced about how his partnership will be structured and remunerated if there will be remuneration at all.

    1. Pennyworth*

      I think OP should hold the line that they don’t have the experience or knowledge required, then just be supportive from the sidelines. Ask how their plans are going, have they found the information they need, have they talked to a business adviser.
      I’d also recommend watching a program like The Hotel Inspector from the UK, which helps people who rushed into hospitality and got into trouble. Creativity has very little to do with it – and is often best provided by professionals. Tedious stuff like how much profit you make on each meal you serve and how clean the bathrooms are is far more important.

      1. Bookstrategy*

        Anthony Melchiorri’s Hotel Impossible, a generally similar show, was also excellent and would be useful viewing! Not understanding hospitality industry norms, pricing, and other business aspects was almost always the source of the problems. Beyond that, I second others’ suggestions to clarify what support really means for these friends and whether you can provide that. Certainly, it’s not helpful to define it as “we don’t actually have relevant knowledge or skills either, but we’ll make ourselves responsible for figuring them out for you.” I don’t doubt your good intentions at all, OP, but I know from painful experience that casting myself as a business savior ends up being more like enabling than constructive support—and that was when I did actually have expertise in the field involved.

      2. UKDancer*

        I was going to recommend the Hotel Inspector. It’s really interesting insight into how many people go into hospitality with no idea of how difficult it is to run an hotel or what people actually want. In the UK what people want in hotels tends to be clean, comfortable and with a good bed for a reasonable price. This is why the Premier Inn chain does so well on the whole. Hospitality is hard, back breaking work involving anti-social hours and limited returns.

        I know one B&B owner slightly and they work really hard for not much return. They love it but they’re actually intending to retire soon because they say it’s physically exhausting and they’re both turning 60.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Something about this reminds me of all those writers who get hit up with: “I have an idea for a book, why don’t you write it and I’ll take all the credit”. I read a very funny blog by an agent, who was dealing with one of these types at a book signing by giving them the ghost writer fees. Apparently Bill Bryson had a complete stranger propose a book called the Great British Breakfast and they should travel the country together eating breakfasts, the guy giving his opinion and Bill doing the writing. Apparently liking breakfasts and realising that other people do too was his whole idea and such a good one that it didn’t need actual work. You can imagine what that guy would require of his friends. Ideas are cheap! Your friend likes cooking, and realises other people like eating? Great, compliment their last recipe, but don’t do their legwork; it won’t be a favour to them no matter how much they expect.

      1. Bookstrategy*

        I thought of that analogy too! As a professional writer and editor, though one vastly less celebrated than Bryson, I get that kind of proposal shockingly often. I try to refuse kindly, but if they could read my mind they’d see OH HELL NO written therein. If I’m going to have to do all the work, I can come up with plenty of dubious book ideas myself, thank you.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        What was the blog? That sounds like something I would be interested in reading.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I read it without paying much attention to were I was. Now I can’t find it again, and it was so well written! The agent “polished her smile with gunpowder”!

          1. SarahKay*

            Blog called Janet Reid, Literary Agent? Entry on Thurs Sep 17th 2015 titled “I swear every word of this is true”.
            I googled “Polished my smile with gunpowder” and it came up – and you’re right, it’s very well written as well as funny.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I just wonder why Bill Bryson would even need him for that. Did it not occur to him that Bill Bryson could simply take the idea, do it on his own and cut the person out? I mean, I’m sure Bill Bryson has plenty of ideas of his own, but if this guy thinks it’s such a great idea, wouldn’t you think he’d be worried about that?

        1. AFac*

          There’s many reasons why many authors don’t want people sending them pitches, including that after a while it’s hard to remember whose idea was whose.

      4. londonedit*

        Felicity Cloake has just published a book called Red Sauce, Brown Sauce, all about the great British breakfast. She did all the travelling around and researching and writing herself, though!

      5. Saraquill*

        That’s happened to me before. Most notably when I was twelve, and the adult said my compensation would be having a thing to plump my college application.

    3. Bookstrategy*

      I agree with your general point about being businesslike, don’t see why a partnership would be desirable here? Neither party knows the industry and the friends with the dream are unrealistic, so the chances of remuneration are pretty much nil no matter how any agreement is written. As Alison said, this seems like a situation where way less involvement is warranted, not more.

    4. Snow Globe*

      I really don’t see why people think the friend wants the LW and others to do the work for them – I see the “be more supportive” comment to just mean “say positive things instead of negative things.”

  7. ENFP in Texas*

    LW#1 – if your friends aren’t passionate enough about their idea to do their own research, it’s not fair for them to expect YOU to be!

  8. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    LW4: It sounds like you should consider yourself already burnt out in this industry. If you have a unique set of skills, are exceptionally gifted for the work, or some other form of standout…maybe you can command higher than normal wages. Otherwise you’re just as beholden to the market as the ‘many, many applicants’ that are eager to be in your field.

    If your goal is to change things from the bottom, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be happy in the field long-term.

    1. JayNay*

      What LW4 describes sounds like the fashion industry to me (considered glamorous, concentrated in New York, which is very expensive).
      Probably the only way to create systemic change is banding together & forming a union. That’s unlikely to help the LW in the short term though.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Either fashion or publishing, which for the big publishers is still concentrated in New York. But really, this is how it works in any glamorous industry. It certainly is true in baseball. If working in baseball is your dream and you aren’t one of the very best players in the world, expect to be underpaid and overworked with scut work. A tiny percentage of the guys doing that scut work will work their way up to become highly paid executives. Your odds are only slightly better than winning the lottery.

        1. anonagaintoday*

          In football, they called scouts the 20/20 club – hire a bunch of 20-something year olds for $20,000-ish salaries and basically work 20 hours a day. Some guys made it and advanced through the ranks, many didn’t. But like they say in The Devil Wears Prada, “A million girls would kill for this job” so these “glamour: industries – sports, entertainment, fashion, can often get away with it.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I went with publishing.

          But it’s probably a lot of businesses and we each guess the one where we have just enough of a sliver of knowledge to realize it’s brutal at the entry level. Kind of a parallel to the first letter, where people’s image of the lovely bed and breakfast they will own might not compare to the gritty reality of cleaning toilets.

          For OP’s question, Alison is right: Entry level people are not in a position to demand salary restructuring. This would only be so if the employers have no other options, and they have a lot of other options.

        3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Yes, sounds like OP is in a winner-take-all industry. A very tiny % of the people who wanted to be professional baseball players at the age of 14 earn in the millions; a small number earn scraping-by to middle-class money, and for the vast majority it’s just a dream that never came even close to being real. Ditto musical theater, fashion, fiction writing.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            For football so many high level college players could make it as a journeyman in the pros. They may not be the hall of famers, but a lot more people are capable of playing than ever are selected.

            1. anonagaintoday*

              Are you talking about pro football or soccer? In pro football, there are only 53 roster spots x 32 teams plus practice squad…. that leaves a lot of unemployed former top college players. The average length of career is only about 3.5 years. Not that many Tom Bradys out there.

      2. BalanceofThemis*

        LW 4 could easily have described the museum industry, or the GLAM fields in general, aside from the industry only being in one city. But check for generally low pay given the work, and check on there being an overabundance of people who want I to the field. Sadly, change is very hard to accomplish, and while I understand LW4’s desire to go into their field, they may want to consider what other work they can do.

        1. Smithy*

          In a very widespread way, some industries just do not pay the same for the same work.

          I’m in nonprofit fundraising and in my private life love going to the theater. Very often I’ve been asked why I don’t do fundraising for a theater/arts organization and it 100% comes down to salary. It’s basically the same job requiring largely the same skills and absolutely not the same pay.

          I’m sure there are plenty of other examples like this, but there really is only so much you’re going to be able to do in a single negotiation. Because let’s say you negotiate *really* hard and end up making $10k more than everyone else with your title in the field. You probably still won’t be making huge money, you’ll be out of place from your peers, and may ultimately just find new struggles when trying to be promoted or find new jobs that provide raises.

          1. Some Dude*

            I work in nonprofits and and the ED of an arts organization often makes about as much as a mid-level employee at another type of nonprofit. It is a brutally underpaid profession.

            However, my wife is in marketing, and there are 40% pay differences between jobs in the same city depending on the industry (publishing is the worst), how well-financed the company is, etc.

            But if the field you want to go in doesn’t pay wages you want/need to survive….then maybe that industry isn’t for you. It is highly unlikely that, as a junior employee, you will be able to disrupt the inequitable pay model of an entire industry. But good luck!

        2. MuseumGal*

          I was thinking it sounds like GLAM as well, aside from there being a few cities in the US with big “dream job” type places. If it is something GLAM adjacent or in the arts in general, my experience of entry and mid- level roles has been that there’s no room to negotiate at all. The salary is what it is, take it or leave it. One thing OP could try is looking outside the public sector to companies that take on museums/ theatres/ whatever their field is as clients, such as content or interactive development firms, architecture firms or design studios. They tend to pay significantly more for very similar work in my experience.

        3. quill*

          Based on it being so tied to location I’m assuming it’s publishing. Which has plenty of people who study it and discover that they cannot afford to have a job in publishing that go on to do less glamorous, more corporate work. It doesn’t (always) involve publishing fiction

        4. PhD survivor*

          I was thinking the same thing. OP- are you sure you want to do this? In my 20s, I wanted to do international humanitarian work. I did a 2-year volunteer program abroad (similar to Peace Corps) and then went to a prestigious university for graduate school. I was broke for the first decade of my adult life. I relied on the generosity of family members (lived in my parents basement for a few years, etc), lived with random roommates, drove an old car that was literally falling apart, etc. I didn’t mind not having many material possessions but it was difficult to handle the stress of student loan debt and knowing that I wouldn’t be okay financially if I had some kind of emergency. The older I got, the more tired I became of living a financially precarious existence, not being able to have what my peers had, and not being able to help or support my family. I now work for a for profit company. I am paid well, treated well, and feel great about the work I do. Just saying you can have a great life doing something that wasn’t your dream but of course you are the only one who knows what is best for you

        5. tamarack and fireweed*

          I had to look this up, so for future readers: GLAM = galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. Not glamour, publishing, fashion and musical theatre (to which this may also apply) :-)

          Me, being in academia, it’s slightly different, but still – I know that if I were to apply to a tech industry job at my level, twice my current salary would be a good starting point for a ballpark, and three times not extraordinary high. It’s a consideration for the future, when my partner retires, but I like what I do right now, as it’s meaningful, and I have good co-workers.

          The advice is the same: Do negotiate, but unless and until you’ve built your own very particular value proposition (and have acquired some chops), don’t negotiate outside the industry rate spread for your location and seniority. Do continue to advocate!

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      Another field similar in some ways, zookeeping! It’s a cool job that many kids want to do. People go to college and go into debt to to get the necessary degree. Starting wage is low because so many people want to do it, the market is saturated so the market supports low wages. And those low wages stay low all the way to animal keeper management. (Actual zoo directors make big bucks compared to people working with animals.)

      At this time a lot of the young employees don’t last because they eventually need to make money. Their management is burned out because they don’t make much money either and are overworked.

      A single person cannot fix this industry problem. The workers need to unite including the brand new college grads who just want a job at a zoo and are still used to living like a college student on barely no money so they think they can make it on such low wages.

  9. LadyJ*

    I am hoping that LW1 friend is just fantasizing because as someone who is actively trying to start a small business this was raising red flags for me. It is a lot of work to start a business. I will say suggest a local SBA office to the person. I may have experience adjacent to what I want to do as well as experience in it but there are still a lot of things that I don’t think about or legal issues that I need to consider and my local SBA gives me advice or teams me up with people who do know.

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      Yeah, I was thinking SBA or SCORE or even the main library’s reference desk should be the first stop, not friends’ Google fu.

  10. Double A*

    LW 4: Once you get a job, keep an ear out for unionization talk.

    Also, I’m guessing this is the video game industry. My husband burned out of the industry pretty spectacularly years ago…our friends who are still in it make good money and do have families, but it’s very stressful.

    1. Ferret*

      Could also be fashion, or film/tv, or journalism. Industries which have any kind of ‘glamour’ to them will tend to end up in a cycle of low pay and burnout at entry level as they are subsidised by keen newcomers and those with independent resources

    2. roll-bringer*

      My guess was publishing! #4, if that’s you, follow the publishing meme & unionization Instagram accounts (people often have insight on the different houses.) Also, don’t take a job in academic publishing if what you really want is trade. It’s not a foot in the door; it’s a different building. Good luck!

    3. tangerineRose*

      I’d advice the OP to try to go into another line of work that will need their skills. If it’s programming, there are a lot of less glamorous programming jobs that are still interesting and pay well and treat their employees better than video game programmers.

  11. Cedrus Libani*

    For #4 – you’ve said it yourself. Where’s the incentive to pay you a living wage, when there’s an inexhaustible supply of applicants who will work for less, many of whom would do the job at least as well as yourself?

    I get it. I started out in a glamorous career path that I absolutely loved to bits. I made it work for awhile, but I’m out now and I’m glad I’m out. I learned a hard truth: nobody gets what they deserve, they get what they can negotiate. As a talented but ultimately replaceable entry-level worker in Dream Job Field, I needed my job more than the job needed me. Negotiation power: zip, zero, nada. Paycheck: slightly above zero, but only slightly. Respect: ditto. Some people were decent, but some…weren’t. And when they weren’t, I took it with a smile, because what else could I do?

    Eventually I left, and then I learned another truth: most things are interesting if you’re interested. My job is the childhood dream of precisely zero children, past or present – but I like it just fine.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I wouldn’t tell OP4 not to pursue their dream industry (only because people saying that didn’t work on me), but what I would say is to start considering adjacent fields and transferable skills now. Not in a theoretical way, but actually making a solid actionable plan to move off industry when they need to. The other thing I would tell OP to look out for is being placed in grunt or backstage roles for a long time in these industries; it’s one of the ways they keep people around for longer than five minutes, they make people chase the glamorous roles with more legwork than other industries. OP needs to set a time limit on how long they’d be okay with that.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        That’s my thought too. A lot of people who have either an unrealistic for most people or a low-paying dream set up a dichotomy in their minds, where it’s either take the low pay/risks/high chance of unemployment in their dream area or work in a well-paying secure job they hate or just tolerate, when…it’s rarely that stark. There are usually jobs that include part of your dream job or require similar skills or are connected in some way, but that are more secure/better-paid, etc. It’s rare a choice between job you love with poor pay or job you are completely bored in but which pays the bills. Job you mostly enjoy but has stressful and/or boring components and a decent, or at least living, wage does exist for most people

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Just to clarify, I’m not saying the LW shouldn’t take a job in their field, they know best. Just that there are usually more options available to people than dream job and complete boredom.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            Agreed. Also, if you do pay attention to adjacent fields, you may find a less oversubscribed option that captures most of what attracts you to the dream job. I bailed out of a sexy future-tech field that, despite the hype, only exists at a handful of extremely well-funded universities and the startups they spin out (which die a few years later, not having revolutionized all the things). Now I work on an adjacent legacy-tech. I’m less fun at parties. Before: “Wow!” After: “Wait, that’s still a thing?” But the day-to-day work is almost exactly the same. I like my job, and I’m good at it. Not bored at all, though the unfortunates who get stuck next to me at some reception might be.

      2. bamcheeks*

        Not in a theoretical way, but actually making a solid actionable plan to move off industry when they need to

        Completely agree with this, and update that plan regularly as your skills develop. It’s actually a solid way to PREVENT burnout– if you know you’ve got a solid exit plan and that your skills are transferable/applicable to another industry, it’s easier to avoid the mindset of “this is the only thing I can do, I’m trapped here, I’ve put so much work in and I have to stay to realise the rewards”. Put yourself in a position where you are CHOOSING to do this work for as long as it works for you, and that you know you can go somewhere else when it stops working.

      3. TiredAmoeba*

        This is a common cycle on the career guidance subs on Reddit.
        “I want to do my dream job but people keep warning me it’s hard to get into/pay sucks etc, but the alternative is becoming a wage slave. What do I do?”

        ” I ignored the advice of everyone around me and followed my passion and now 10 years later I am burnt out, broke because the pay is crap and have no transferable skills to anything else. What do I do?”

        There are some variations in the details but there are a LOT of these posts.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          That’s true for the subreddits and online conversations, but I think these are a little too simplistic, in my now multi-decade experience in the workforce in various countries and also pursuing dreams of independence and meaning.

          a) Yes, a stable career is quite likely to require some form of compromise. Even (in my case) accepting to work in a company with a mediocre product and a bunch of problems, and accepting to have to go back to entry-level for lack of a track record, in order to gain industry experience, a CV with some accomplishments, and a stable life. BUT
          b) Even if you’ve flamed out early, and feel you’ve made the wrong choice to keep chasing the dream… chances are you have a lot more transferable skills than you think.

          It’s a good idea for dream chasers to do regular sanity checks – is my life economically and physically sustainable? Will it still be in 5 years? And are my skills growing? Do I still know what I’d do if I had to leave and restart in a different industry? As long as the indicators are on the greenish side with the occasional yellow, and you can catch whatever slides into orange or red, just go chasing! That’s not where I was in my 20s and 30s, and I suffered from it. But now, a good bit later, that IS where I am.

    2. Chickaletta*

      Yes, for #4 this is what is called “market economics”. When there is a large supply of something, the price lowers, when there is a scarcity of something, the price goes up. Unfortunately for them, they’re the supply that there is an abundance of. I got out of my creative career five years ago for this reason, I was tired of seeing jobs in my field requiring experience and college degrees being posted for $10/hr, or worse being sent overseas for $10/day.

      Sometimes, the reality of dream jobs kill the dream but ****That’s ok!**** (we’re taught in the US to “follow our dreams” and “find our passion” above all else, but then we’re surprised by the abundance of people with History degrees working at Starbucks.

      Work is work. Find something that allows you to live the life you want. It sounds like your creative job isn’t doing that.

  12. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    LW1: My 60 year old mom did just buy a B&B: but it was A) already set up, furnished, running with existing Website, tax registration, booking management company membership, state approval, and regular, returning guests
    B) it’s in a VERY touristy area where pockets run deep and there are few other accommodations C) she ALREADY has her retirement and bought this b&b in cash. She would not have done it otherwise, especially as many B&B’s went under during the pandemic.

    Though it’s possible to find them all prepped like point A, point C is the most important thing because mom doesn’t make mortgage payments- that would eat her profits and there’s no true regularity to bookings.

    She has had to deal with lots of unforseen circumstances and costs such as learning the tourism industry shuts down in her area four months a year (not a Problem with her existing retirement), costs when a tree fell on a roof, insurances at her age, finding out that TV channels for guest rooms can be so expensive each month, and again, having days with no bookings at all. Those bookings are entirely dependent on the local climate which determines tourist interest too, so when the weather turns, no money.

    To sum up, she would not recommend it for anyone who doesn’t already have their retirement paid for. For her, it’s playing house, but all the fun would be sucked out of it should she have to do it to survive.

  13. RejectedOnChristmas*

    LW 3 – I once received a rejection email on Christmas morning. I figured if they have people working on Christmas morning and have them send out rejection emails (which in my opinion is not a super urgent task that could not wait until after the holidays) that’s not a place I would want to work anyways…

      1. ND and awkward*

        Maybe it’s not a public holiday in the US, but I’d feel the same about a business that might expect me to work on any bank holidays, aside from the obvious hospitality/healthcare-type exceptions.

        1. Seeking second childhood*

          Christmas and Easter are federal holidays in the US. (But more and more, service and retail businesses choose to open at least partial hours. )

          1. RejectedOnChristmas*

            I’m not in the US, but in my country Christmas is also a federal holiday. It’s possible that recruiting was outsourced to a different country, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth…

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Easter is not, though if you live in Maine or Massachusetts you might have Patriots Day, which is not Easter but does often fall after Easter weekend which might make it feel like an Easter holiday.

            1. londonedit*

              That’s interesting – where I live Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, as are Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Things like supermarkets might be open on every day except Christmas Day but very few non-retail businesses are open and I’d be surprised to receive an email from someone on any of those days.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Boxing day isn’t a holiday here, although it’s common for places to be closed or have reduced hours on Christmas Eve (though it’s not guaranteed and probably wouldn’t be wildly strange to hear from someone).

              2. Irish Teacher*

                Interestingly, Good Friday is not a public holiday in Ireland, unlike the UK. However, a lot of businesses close that day and it is quite difficult to know what will be open and what will be closed. Easter Sunday, Christmas day and St. Stephen’s day (as we call Boxing day), you can assume everything will be closed. Some big department stores and supermarkets have started opening on St. Stephen’s day in the last 10-15 years, but to send a rejection e-mail would be a HUGE no-no. It’s the sort of thing people would ring in to their local radio and complain about.

          3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            There is no such thing as a federal holiday in the US. There *are* holidays that federal employees always get off. There are also holidays when the stock exchanges are always closed. There are also school holidays. But there is nothing that is mandated in general. In the retail world, maybe you’ll see “Xmas, New Year, 4th of July, Thanksgiving” as days when the shop is closed… or maybe not.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              There are in fact eleven federal holidays in the US that are designated by the federal government. They are legally recognized as federal holidays. Unless you are a nonessential worker in the federal government you are not guaranteed those days off, because that’s not how the economic systems work here, but they are federal holidays.

        1. quill*

          Yes, when I worked for a multinational latin america got all of holy week off, a thing nobody thought to mention to me beforehand.

    1. Seeking second childhood*

      If it’s a multinational, the strangest things can get pushed to departments in other countries. Remote HR support for final processing would not surprise me.
      Some countries have Sunday through Thursday as their standard work week too.
      (It took some getting used to when I was assigned to a project with the team in the Middle East…. no matter how late I worked on Friday, I would come into and email backlog on Monday. I gave up my bad habit of focused work sessions on Sundays because I’d get called as if it were Monday.)

    2. MPH Researcher*

      When I did hiring through Indeed a couple years ago, Indeed had a setting where you could send out the rejection e-mail 3 days after you actually rejected the person in Indeed’s platform. I always used this, as I normally reviewed resumes on a daily (or more than daily) basis, and didn’t want people to get rejections within minutes or hours of applying. So if I had this setting on and rejected someone on Thursday December 22nd (a pretty normal workday), they’d get the rejection on Sunday (Christmas Day) December 25th.

      As Allison has said, getting a rejection this quickly can feel insulting or like nobody actually reviewed your resume. But as Allison has also said, a hiring manager can look at your resume for 30 seconds and determine if you are a viable candidate. So the 3 day delay felt right as it made it seem like someone had at least seriously considered your candidacy. But it could also lead to people getting rejected on holidays or weekends. I always send personalized rejection e-mails to people I actually interview, but if I was just rejecting them after an initial resume review the automated options are best. And really quite necessary when you have 100-200 applicants for a job and are only going to interview 5-ish.

      1. MPH Researcher*

        So don’t read anything into when you get rejected, at least not with an automated rejection e-mail. Is what I’m trying to say. ;-)

    3. fhqwhgads*

      FWIW, at my last job, when we clicked “decline” in the ATS, the system was configured to send the emails automatically at 9am the following day. So this would mean someone was working Christmas Eve morning. Not saying that’s exactly the case in what happened to you, but what I’m getting at the timestamp on an automated email is not necessarily indicative of when a human did something.

    4. Hannah Lee*

      After having recently conducting a search to fill a position on Indeed, I would not read anything into the timing or the way communication happens on that platform. We had all kinds of issues with Indeed randomly opening and closing the job posting, automatically rejecting candidates (even though we purposely selected all the options to NOT do that) … and oddly, the candidates auto-rejected were ones that pretty well fit the job requirements, while the oddball ones (I run a food truck! My only other work experience is selling notions at Michaels. Please hire me as your new manufacturing manager) came through just fine. And some of those ‘automatic’ messages/actions happened over weekends, including over 4th of July weekend, so I didn’t notice it until after we’d come back from the break.

      If it’s a case where you were truly well qualified for the role, and think you might have been screened out in error, it might be worth re-submitting. But otherwise, don’t read anything purposeful or meaningful into the timing of messages.

  14. Kella*

    OP1, I don’t think you have to worry too much about your friend getting into trouble with pursuing this dream. If she’s actually motivated to do even the first couple steps of opening this business, she’s likely to run into road blocks quite quickly, like not being approved for a loan and then not having the money to front the costs needed to get started. It would be more concerning if she had some money saved up she was planning on spending all on this dream AND she had no plan for how to do so. I agree with other commenters. Just treat it like a fun dream.

  15. Lizard*

    #3. Seriously, don’t read anything into that. You don’t know anything about who is doing the review, when they’re doing it, etc. And another thing to consider – are you even in the same time zone as the reviewer?

    At my office we use a system that sends out those rejection emails 2-3 days after the candidate has been removed from consideration. I’m not sure as to the exact time these things get sent out, but I’m sure it’s not literally 48 hours after I’ve removed a candidate. But if it is, then it might show up at a time when I’m able to go through the job postings… usually in the evening for me. Reviewing resumes is not my full time job.

    1. kiki*

      Yes! The software is another thing to take into account. For sending non-urgent emails or notifications, some software systems will put those into a queue that is run through on background. So the email wouldn’t be sent immediately after the application was reviewed in the first place and then a wide array of issues and happenings can contribute to that queue being “backed up.” Sometime’s there’s a blocker that gets fixed and clears the block at a random time, so you’ll see a deluge of emails sent at once at a weird time.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      Yes, my guess was also an automated email. It depends on the system. Some will send it exactly XX hours after the initial review. Some may send it the following day (or days) after and that automation may be at 4 a.m.

      It sucks because when you’re searching for a job, it is a *massive* part of your life and may be all that you think about at times. But for people who are looking for candidates, it’s sometimes at the bottom of their list and an afterthought to go over resumes at all.

  16. Karia*

    LW2 – I think you should be concerned, not embarrassed. This sounds like a health issue, not a quirk. If there’s anyone closer in the hierarchy to him, perhaps ask them to check in with him to see if he’s ok.

    1. JayNay*

      Eh, that sounds like an overstep. “My boss has an unusual sleep schedule and now I think she has cancer” is not the route you want to go down.
      Focus on the things that impact your work. LW could ask the boss if they should schedule a break after lunch or some downtime in the afternoon of this all-day event.
      Also, if he indeed dozes off and there’s any embarrassment around this, try to make it not yours. You’re not the one who (potentially) fell asleep, you’re not in charge of someone else’s body or schedule, redirect any responsibility for this right back to boss.

      1. Karia*

        Yes, saying that would be an overstep – but it’s also not even close to what I was suggesting. You can express concern about a colleague’s health / wellbeing without speculating on the reason for it, or being critical.

        I do think it would be helpful and kind for LW to have compassion for their boss and treat this as any other health problem, rather than jumping to irritation and embarrassment.

      2. Smithy*

        I also wonder if there might be a way to structure the day so that boss is encouraged to join the morning and lunch and then the afternoon has a greater “in the weeds” focus? Essentially, see if there’s a way to structure the day so that larger overview where your boss may have more to contribute is bundled in the first half and then there’s a built in departure time in the afternoon?

        If this is an all day donor “co-design” structure, that might be one way of settings things up so that the boss is highlighted in a significant way and then graciously given an off ramp. However, if it is more of an all day intro to programming – I do wonder if there are things you can do in the afternoon that would just be more physical? Something that includes walking or standing? Another idea is that if everything is truly just all clustered in one conference room, set up coffee/snack breaks elsewhere in a separate location so at least there is more physical movement between locations.

        1. Rain's Small Hands*

          Or just do a structure with a long lunch. Long enough to catch a 40 minute snooze. He is probably well aware of his “siesta” tradition and maybe you can just accommodate it. If he comes in late after lunch….

    2. A Yellow Plastic Duck*

      It’s possible the boss has sleep apnea (which has become more common as Americans have become more overweight).

      People with sleep apnea don’t sleep well at night thus they fall asleep at odd times during the day trying to make up for it.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Someone having a different circadian rhythm is not an automatic cause for concern. Most of us who do have to live by the hours society has decided are “normal” which kind of sucks, but it sounds like the boss has possibly found a schedule that works for him.

      It’s certainly possible he has health issues, just as it is certainly possible for every other coworker OP has. But this is not a reason to assume he does.

      1. Karia*

        Sure – that’s why you express concern and ask if they are ok. Rather than asking them if they have health issues, which I *did not say* and would not recommend.

    4. Nanani*

      “Gets up at 3 am, has a strong urge to nap in the afternoon” i s not a medical issue and does not require anyone to ask about private health matters.

      1. Karia*

        I get up at 3am and feel the urge to sleep in the afternoon due to health issues. And I repeat, because you didn’t read a word I said, you can express concern without speculating on reasons.

    5. Observer*

      If there’s anyone closer in the hierarchy to him, perhaps ask them to check in with him to see if he’s ok.

      I’m going to echo everyone else. DO NOT DO THIS.

      It’s a major over-step. And you are basing yourself on the flimsiest of evidence.

      1. Karia*

        Having compassion for your colleagues is not a ‘massive overstep’, especially when their actions are visible, concerning and have an impact on others. I’m sorry you all have such unpleasant and hierarchical relationships with your superiors.

        1. Observer*

          You can have compassion for people without getting into their business; going to HR on their behalf without their request, consent or even knowledge; or asking people to check on their health.

          In fact, the most compassionate and respectful thing to do is to assume that the person, who has shown themself to be a responsible and functional adult, is falling asleep for reasons other than being irresponsible and lazy AND that they are managing their issue, whatever it may be, in the way that is most appropriate. Including approaching HR with a request for accommodation if necessary. And to NOT gossip about him. Whatever the official motivation, asking others to “check on him” *is* absolutely gossip.

          If the OP were in a position to actually do something, especially if they could do something without speculating and getting into Boss’ business, it would be a good idea to offer. But that’s it.

          If this were a safety sensitive position, then the OP would need to speak to the safety officer. But no one else would need to be involved.

          And since neither is the case here, the OP needs to NOT approach anyone about this.

          PS This has nothing to do with “hierarchical” relationships. It *DOES* have everything to do with respecting people’s privacy and ability to act in a reasonable fashion without interference from people who have no idea – CANNOT have any idea – of what’s actually going on.

  17. Varthema*

    OP4, I worked in a job for 10+ years where market conditions in my area were absolute crap, and there were verrrry few ways into a more comfortable/secure role. Unlike you, I didn’t really know how crap the industry was before going in. If you see a clear pathway out and plenty of definite concrete roles which, after those initial couple years, provide good compensation, then the crap starting salary is probably just the price to pay (unfortunately).

    But if those conditions are rife through most levels, I’d really consider reconsidering. I know it sucks, and if you’re just starting in the job market you probably aren’t worrying about mortgages and retirement plans, but finding yourself in your 30s with your career invested in an industry that will never reward you for your vast experience or expertise, and then having to choose between what you love doing/are great at doing and what will actually let you save money and start a family, which would mean starting over… man, I do not recommend that.

    (Personal epilogue: during the pandemic closures in my industry I managed to squiggle out into an unusual unicorn job which involves my work/expertise except at a teach company that actually pays and values its workers! But to be honest, it was entirely due to a few instances of reeeaaaally good luck, and when my friends in my old industry ask, there’s not much I can tell them in the way of concrete steps.)

  18. Beth*

    LW4: I’m speaking from several years down a similar path–working in a passion field where wages are barely livable/sometimes not livable, location is non-negotiable, and there are always enough entry-level people coming in to replace those that burn out and leave.

    The field is what it is. There are so many fields like this–music, film, fashion, video game production, academia, and many more–and all of them have had conversations about inequality, lack of accessibility, unlivable wages and working conditions, etc. for decades. Those conversations haven’t led to change, and you shouldn’t expect them to suddenly produce results now. The field relies on this model; it’s cheaper to hire people who don’t need to care about making a living wage. Most of the people who reach long-term success in my field are only able to make it through the first decade+ of their career because they have someone else (a parent, a well-employed spouse, a trust fund, etc) paying for some or all their actual living costs. The alternative is to have a side gig or two–which squeezes the time and energy you can put into your actual career, and is really tough to sustain long term.

    I don’t mean to be discouraging here. But I wish someone had been upfront with me about this when I was starting out. I thought that because there are always some people who manage to make it work, I would also be able to make it work if I lived lean enough. I didn’t realize that most of those people simply had resources that I didn’t have–they weren’t better than everyone else, they weren’t more persistent or better at budgeting or more willing to sacrifice than everyone else, they just didn’t have to pay rent like I did. I wish I’d gone into my field with my eyes wide open about that.

    1. Figaro*

      With sadness I agree with you! Myself and friends have reached our late thirties, truly excelling in what we do, managing to make a living but stressed and anxious about not having enough money to have families, etc. I was vaguely warned about this industry when I was starting out at 17, but no warning ever got through because I just didn’t understand the REALITY of what it feels like to live like this in your late thirties. I don’t regret all the wonderful experiences I’ve had through this work but I often wonder if I could have had just as fulfilling career and life in a more reliable and well paying field. Perhaps there would have been a way to channel all my passion and industry-specific talent in a different way that would still feel good and contribute to the world the way I wanted to!

      1. Beth*

        Same experience re: the vague warnings. People (including people in the field who I knew and trusted, so it’s not like I went into this blind) definitely told me that this wasn’t a path that you could guarantee success in, that even being good at it wasn’t necessarily enough, that it would be a hard route, etc. I got a lot of “I’ll support you in this if it’s what you really want, but I want to be clear that I can’t recommend you do it.”

        But all of the advice I got was pretty vague; none of it was specific as to why it’s so hard or what systems drive that. It would have been really helpful if someone sat me down and actually broke it down bluntly. I can’t say I would definitely have made different choices–but it would’ve been less frustrating than figuring it out gradually on my own, at least.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Completely agree with this.

      [PERSONAL BUGBEAR] I am academia-adjacent, and honestly I spend a lot of time biting my lip hearing and reading academics talking again and again about all the problems in academia.. and then also telling junior and aspirant members of the profession that it’s still the most wonderful job in the world. Things simply will not change until that pool of people Convinced It Will Be Different For Them dries up. Whilst I fully support unionising, even unionising in that context is ultimately kind of futile– it feels like creating a very managed safety valve that doesn’t do anything to address the real conditions of labour, which are caused by convincing an endless supply of younger people that this is– or COULD be, if only XYZ – the most wonderful job in the world. It just feels like a whole bunch of self-defeating ideology being constantly reproduced by (ironically!) people whose job is literally to think critically.

      1. pancakes*

        For every academic doing this in the US there seems to be maybe three (or more?) administrators, and the school needs the number of incoming students to remain the same or keep increasing in order to for all to continue making a living. How the grads will fare when they get out seems quite beside the point of the whole arrangement.

      2. Alexis Rosay*

        Sigh. Yes. This.

        I mean, I think the good thing about unionizing in academia is that paying grad students higher wages is going to mean that universities accept fewer of them. And that will ultimately discourage people from going into academia in the first place.

        I watched this play out in real time–a good friend was gushing about how a creative writing Ph.D. program he was trying to get into was unionizing. Only it became so competitive he couldn’t get accepted. He pivoted to technical copyediting and is really quite happy with it.

        1. pancakes*

          Whether universities will in fact accept fewer students for this reason seems dependent on whether a lack of resources was what was keeping grad student wages down in the first place, among other factors. There are a number of alternative possible reasons why wages were what they were in the past. Similarly, if unlivably low wages weren’t previously discouraging people from going to grad school in the past, it remains to be seen whether raising wages a bit will have that effect. To be clear I think it’s hugely positive for grad students to be unionized, and it should happen more often; I’m just not sure it’s clear that the economics of higher ed will self-regulate as a result. Unless your friend applied to the same program twice, it’s also maybe not so clear that the program has become more competitive.

  19. Not An Expert*

    On a slightly more positive note for OP4 – if you have some flexibility with living arrangements, you could investigate if there are any schemes to help people in entry level roles. For example in UK publishing, which has a lot of the problems you mentioned, there is a scheme where people already working in the industry, agree to let spare rooms for a lower than market rate. Might not be possible in your case, but I just wanted to say it’s not 100% doomed!

    1. londonedit*

      Yes – there’s also a scheme in UK publishing where your employer will give you a loan to cover the cost of a rental deposit so that you can set yourself up renting somewhere even if you don’t have the initial big wodge of six weeks’ rent that you need to do so. A few publishers in the UK are also setting up regional office hubs to move the focus away from London, and there are more apprenticeships so that people don’t necessarily need a degree to get into publishing – things are starting to change, extremely slowly, but they are at least starting to change.

  20. Retired (but not really)*

    The idea of a bed and breakfast is all well and good. My mom thought that would be a great thing for me to do with her house after she passed. My personal idea was a bit different. I thought it would be better to have a little craft/consignment shop downstairs and live upstairs, as there were already a couple of only marginally successful bed and breakfast houses nearby. Neither of these ideas materialized. And frankly I’m not particularly sorry that they didn’t end up happening.

    1. Generic Name*

      Oh, moms. :) I’m seriously laughing that your mom had a dream of what YOU should do after HER death. It sounds like something my mom would do! Fortunately (well, you know what I mean) she’ll be dead and won’t ever nag you about why you didn’t fulfill her dream. ;) sounds like a perfect opportunity to do a little fantasizing and virtual decorating with mom.

      I wonder if OP’s friend would be happy with OP joining in some of the fun parts of her fantasy? Like talk about what recipes she thinks will be a hit with guests or what’s the perfect quaint-looking wallpaper for the bathroom.

    2. Betsy Devore, Girl Sleuth*

      Heh…Mr. Devore and I are living in the house we inherited from his late mother. Shortly after we moved in, I was gushing to my mom on the phone about how much I was going to love living in a house after years of apartments. “And we can have *overnight guests*, and they won’t have to sleep on the sofa! When people visit, I’m gonna give them a bed-and-breakfast level of service!”

      Next day, I get a call from my Very Concerned sister. “Are you seriously gonna open a B&B?! That’s not a good idea, because reasons, reasons and more reasons…” After she ran out of steam, I piped up, “When’s the last time Mom had her hearing checked?”

  21. Green great dragon*

    #3 could also just be an email glitch. I’ve had emails that somehow got held up and arrived days later, causing much confusion.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Or they gave some kind of built in delay for their emails for whatever reason.

      Either way, it doesn’t mean a thing.

  22. KelseyCorvo*

    The vast amount of people have no direct or indirect knowledge (from a parent, sibling, spouse) about opening a brick and mortar business, much less running one. But most of those people are happy to offer advice. Thanks for not being one of them – your friend should be happy!

    I’ve opened a business and when you talk to people about the challenges of finances, payroll, pricing, and especially marketing, they’ll often question you and be critical because they have no knowledge of this, and if it’s your first business they’ll assume you don’t either, no matter how much research and experimentation you’ve done, classes you’ve taken, people you’ve talked to, and no matter how long you’ve been running the business.

    Take marketing. The average person believe that if a retail business provides a good quality product or service and has good customer service, business will just come to them and most marketing is a waste. They might not phrase it like that but if you talk about taking out ads, doing mailers, posting on social media, having sales/promotions – and you mention these efforts aren’t helping your business as much as you’d like – they’ll often think your business is flawed at the core and you’re struggling to use marketing efforts to overcome this when in truth is most businesses, no matter how good they are, need marketing to remind people that they exist. Even the happy customers need constant reminders, unless you’re in a resort/vacation kind of area or your business is on a main street/popular area – and if so, you’ll be paying for that constant free exposure in your rent or mortgage.

    Again, my point is most people are happy to insert themselves and give poor quality feedback to their business-owning friends, and you and your co-worker are not. If only your would-be B&B-owning friend could see the benefit of this, she’d appreciate it.

    1. Pikachu*

      As a former marketing person, my favorite question to ask is “What makes your product/service different from everything else out there?” (It usually follows some sort of statement like “It’ll sell itself!” :|)

      If they can’t answer this question even when things are still a fuzzy dream, it’s just never going to work. The individual, the entrepreneur, is always a unique and interesting person, but the business model itself usually isn’t.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      This. I’ve don’t volunteer events. Even with an annual event, there’s still marketing. No one wants to do that, or even if they want to, they have no talent for it. Then, even if they have talent for it, volunteer/non-profit doesn’t have an advertising budget, which really, really limits how much you can do. But without marketing/outreach, people forget you exist from year to year.

    3. Totally Subclinical*

      Ah, the times I’ve heard about a store or restaurant as it was closing and thought “drat, wish I’d heard of them earlier; I’d have liked to go there”. Or discovered an interesting store at a location convenient to my home/office and learned that it’d been there for multiple years. Word of mouth is great but not enough.

      1. KelseyCorvo*

        Sure, agreed. I work in marketing and there’s a reason so many of us do. New, first time business owners and all the others who’ve never owned a business not only don’t value marketing and question their friends who use it, but they also see it as dirty, in a way. They believe that a good business doesn’t need marketing. That’s so not true. Because as much as you have to reach the people who’ve never heard of the business (as you mention above) and who would be customers if they had, you also have to constantly remind even the people who like/love your business that you exist. It’s a painful truth and many don’t learn it until it’s too late, or they never do.

  23. Luna*

    LW1 – The friend sounds like a lot of people that you end up seeing on those ‘Hotel/Restaurant Is Failing, We Come In To Fix Things’ shows: a passion for one specific section of the business (cooking, creativity), but have little to no clue about the other aspects it entails (finances, bookkeeping, advertisement, etc).
    Chances are, if the friend isn’t really doing much but talking about it, they likely won’t do anything about it. You can be supportive how you want, but do keep a certain degree of separation, if said friend does open up a business. And I am bluntly saying, do not financially support the business/your friend, if it ever comes to it.

    LW2 – I have sympathy for your boss. If his working day really starts at 3AM, I can understand ending up dozing or ‘crashing’ around lunchtime or shortly after. Now, there is always the chance that this *is* a medical condition that you don’t know about, but I’m personally guessing it’s likely just his body saying it needs a break around lunchtime or shortly after.
    And I think all-day meetings sound bad, anyway. I’m sure you will have breaks for lunchtime and, hopefully, some throughout the day because sitting around for hours and talking, discussing, etc, that’s tiring and boring to everyone. Even if it’s just a 10 minute break to get up and walk around a bit, maybe grab a cup of coffee or similar. Just to keep the blood going and not let tire set in too much.

    1. Purple Chairs*

      I was going to suggest building in a post-lunch nap break. Doesn’t have to be a nap break for everyone – maybe it’s taking a walk, checking your emails, chatting with your colleagues – but everyone deserves a chance to rest their brains from the all day meeting.

    2. London Calling*

      *And I am bluntly saying, do not financially support the business/your friend, if it ever comes to it*

      It’s possible I’m unduly cynical here, but I wonder if the idea of OP providing some sort of financial backing has been hinted at and ignored, and that’s being construed as ‘unsupportive.’

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Financial, logistical, professional…it does seem like the friend sees “supportive” as meaning “involved” in some way.

      2. JustaTech*

        Years ago a friend of mine was attempting to homestead (in a pretty unsuitable climate). Eventually he needed more money and was considering doing a Patreon or a business partnership type thing with a bunch of people who read his blog.
        I said absolutely not, because my desires/needs as a business partner (get my investment back) were in direct conflict with my wants as a friend (for him to get enough sleep/have some down time). So I said “if you need a donation or a gift, I’ll do that, but I like you too much as a friend to be an investor.” (Also there was no way in heck he would ever turn a profit so it was all kind of moot.)

        I know a lot of people make this kind of friend/business partner relationship work, but there are at least as many where everything ends in tears, and I *know* I don’t have the business sense to see the difference at the start, so I’ve just opted out of all of them.

  24. Asenath*

    OP 4 – “Fair market rate” is what most people in that job and location can earn; it’s not what others in similar jobs in a different industry earn, or what will provide a certain standard of living. And most unfortunately, there are industries in which part of the “rate” is something other than money – glamour, prestige, even satisfaction for doing a good deed. Me, I like money, well, at least enough to live on. But if you have all the qualifications for working in such a field, and desire to do so, you’re not going to be paid as much as you would doing similar work in Boring Company as long as you are competing with people who are willing to accept less money in return for the glamour etc.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This was my thought as well. “Market rate” and “a living wage” are often not the same thing for industries that are viewed as glamorous or highly desirable and have a glut of candidates for their jobs.

      It’s why I’ve never been a “follow your bliss!!” or “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” person – the things that I love don’t pay the bills and, even if they did, that would probably suck the joy out of them for me. My job is my job, the things I enjoy doing are my hobbies. The job funds the hobbies. Unless you are well-off or funded by other parties, you can’t just take a job because you love it, if it doesn’t pay the rent.

      I work in a fast-paced industry that demands high availability, but I also get paid for that inconvenience. It’s not glamorous, but it pays for my kids’ special health needs and the mortgage in a high COL area. I can’t imagine doing what I do AND being underpaid.

  25. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, I really doubt asking your boss not to fall asleep would be helpful. It’s most likely not something he has control over and it is very likely he is aware of the problem and is more worried about it happening than you are.

  26. o_gal*

    LW5, I think you are being too generous with your boss and giving 3 to 4 weeks notice. Your boss is already overworking and underpayment you. It already sounds like you are in for a rough notice period, with lots of guilt trips and possible abuse. I would just do the standard 2 weeks and be done. Make a clean break and don’t look back.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      OP5, it’s been said many times on this site – but it’s still very true and pertinent: “you can’t care more about the boss’ company than they do.”

      You are leaving for a job with an actual work life balance, if the prior business fails because you left, that’s on the boss. It’s their company, they will figure it out or not without you. Focus on behaving professionally, leave good solid documentation of all the projects/accounts and their statuses, and move on to that new job taking that week off that Alison and all of us are suggesting – I can almost see the burnout in your letter, please take you time so that you go to the new job ready and physically able to give them your best as well.

  27. Chilipepper Attitude*

    OP#1, your friend is asking you to be supportive, they don’t mean figure out my dream for me, they mean, say nice things about me. As others said, they may just love the dream, let them!

    Just say, you are a fab cook! I’m so happy for you. You have already said what you are worried about so you don’t have to say more. But if you want to, say, I’m so happy for you, I wish I knew more about the practical side!

  28. toolittletoolate*

    LW #4 Your letter reminds me of a conversation I had with a (highly paid) professor of a prestigious business school. We were discussing how the job market sets salaries. I mentioned something about how out of skew I thought the market was –e.g essential services like teaching are so low paid. ”

    He actually said, and I quote “Well teachers get compensated with what I call job satisfaction currency–they are doing something that they enjoy. That gets factored into how they get paid.” I replied, “Well if that’s the case, then you should be paying the business school for the privilege of working there, since you obviously enjoy your work so much.”

  29. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Now that I said just say nice things to your friend, I’ll offer a practical suggestion.

    My brother converted most of his house to an air bnb, he and his wife live in a small unit they created with one section.

    They are very successful and from what I can see, they have essentially created a bed and breakfast place while the Airbnb and other agencies find them renters.

    This could be a good test run for your friend. There are still business-y things to figure out, lots of them! But it needs much less capital to start and you don’t have to figure out marketing. My brother and his wife don’t cook breakfast for their guests but they could. If your friend did this with a shared kitchen she could prepare breakfast, have a spread of options, etc

    1. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Yes, there are so many ways for LW1’s friend to dip their toes into owning a B and B that require less investment! Your suggestion could work with the right space, and I was thinking the friend could look for jobs as an innkeeper or B and B manager so they can gain experience without the buy in of setting up their own business.

  30. David*

    LW5, make sure to double check your employment agreement. Some contracts explicitly state that vacation time cannot be taken during your notice period. At a small organization like yours it’s probably not an issue, but that’s not something you want to be surprised by.

    1. Former Recruiter, Current HR Generalist*

      Exactly this – with the caveat that it’s essentially a company of 3 people, it’s hard to expect there to be an employee handbook and much less an employee agreement or contract (not usual in the US; more standard in other countries outside of the US).

  31. HahaLala*

    LW 2 – Can you talk to your boss without specifically mentioning him falling asleep? “Hey Boss, I appreciate you joining these meetings today, but I know your day starts earlier and you have a lot on your plate, so if you need to step out or jump on something else, I’ll have everything covered in here.”

    Or do you have a coworker who would be happy to conspire with you? Have them ready and waiting, and send them a message when boss starts nodding off. Then coworker can come in with an urgent question and either have boss leave for a minute, or at least get a new burst of energy.

    1. Van Wilder*

      I was going to suggest scheduling a couple breaks in the afternoon and making sure there are coffee and water available.

      Or, if you see him falling asleep, would it be possible for you to deftly say “why don’t we all take a 5 minute break and stretch our legs?”

  32. Nina_Bee*

    LW1… I’ve been in a similar situation with a friend who wanted to do an event and start an event company in a niche market. She didn’t get far because she was equally naive and non business minded, and asked me and friend 2 for ‘help’. We should not have got involved but did, and so ended up doing most of the heavy lifting for her (her ideas weren’t even feasible, budget wise, and she hadn’t even thought of some of the practicalities of the endeavour). She ended up blaming us for ‘taking over’ her event, did nothing on the event night, badmouthed us to everyone and the friendship ended. So my advice is don’t get involved! And be politely unavailable for any ‘help’ beyond a ‘that’s great’.

    1. quill*

      Oh hey sounds like the lesson I learned starting a club in college.
      Did I do a good job? NO. Did I do a better job than the person who decided she could do better and attempted to start a competing club? Well, my club lasted at least a few years after I graduated, and hers didn’t last more than a year, because she decided that her claim to fame was going to be hosting a convention. As a club that didn’t have an official budget.

  33. Doctors Whom*

    I would assume the timing in #3 is an artifact of using an automated system that might send out the notices x many hours after the final action in the system to close out the candidacy. If you’re thumbing through emails later at night because (airport, travel, can’t sleep) and catch up on approvals/admin actions, I could completely see an email going out in the wee hours. (When I decline a resume after I screen it, I actually have no idea how long it takes for the email to go out through our platform – I assume that the recruiter also has to push some buttons on their end.)

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      We use a very large enterprise system and it send automated emails at the oddest times. I’ve heard that it has an email “queue” to avoid sending too many emails at once and getting flagged as spam or banned from internet providers. Since this system is also used for internal and external communications, in addition to hiring, we’re talking about thousands of emails a day.

  34. Person from the Resume*

    For LW#1, I’m a planner and an introvert. I rarely mention my plans until it’s close to a done deal and I’m decided or quite nearly decided. Not everyone is like that.

    Years ago I was frustrated by a close friend. She was losing her job and job hunting. But she kept saying “I’m going to do [this]” and never followed through. I was confused and struggled to be supportive because I couldn’t figure out how since what she planned to do kept changing.

    Eventually I realized she was actually brainstorning/thinking out loud/bouncing ideas off people, but because she never said she was considering/thinking about/looking into and instead worded it a way that said it was decided we had a miscommunication. Once I realized this, I could treat it as a brainstorming session and not try to support every little change in her next steps.

    I think you need to adjust how you react to your friend. Treat it like a day dream. Be support with “that sounds nice,” “that sounds lovely,” “cooking and meeting new people all time sounds like something you’d enjoy.”

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Exactly this. Stop expecting these “plans” to become reality, and don’t get roped into “helping”.

  35. Purple Chairs*

    LW5, I just did this exact thing. And mine was two weeks of vacation! I gave 5.5 weeks notice – the first 1.5 I was there, but my boss wasn’t; the next two I was on vacation; the last two I worked out a notice period. My only regret was that I came back after vacation (it was internal, so I could have just given two weeks). It was awkward, to say the least. And they didn’t move even close to fast enough to post my replacement, which is why I gave the long notice period. I’ve regretted every time I’ve given extra notice.

  36. Julia*

    LW3 – sometimes when a situation sucks but there’s nothing we can do about it and we don’t feel entitled to be as upset as we are, we make up alternative reasons to be upset that feel more legitimate. Maybe that’s what’s going on here with focusing on the timing of the rejection – like your feelings may just be misdirected feelings of hurt about the rejection itself. If so, just know that you’re allowed to feel bummed about a rejection even if you never interviewed or got that invested in the job. Rejections suck.

  37. El l*

    LW3 –
    Would you read anything into it if a message came back at 4:06 AM on a Saturday morning reading, “Yes, we’d like to schedule an interview”?

    Pretty sure the answer would be no. Just rejection. Nothing less, nothing more.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I would quickly be adding “why are you sending emails at 4am on a Saturday” to my interview question list.

  38. Sybil Rights*

    Q1: Local community college (or larger university) might offer certificate program or workshops on developing a small business plan or turning your dream into an ‘encore career’. Amazon has several inexpensive books that come up with the search “start a bed and breakfast”. From this day forward, all I would allow myself to do would be suggest that college/uni might have a business or women’s center that could be a great resource B. gift a copy of a guide to starting a B&B for her next birthday or celebration C. any time the topic comes up, mention that you look forward to being her first guest, or offer to test out a sample menu.
    You are not wrong about the business plan, the complexity, etc. It just feels like a wet blanket to her when she is day dreaming out loud. Allow yourself to play along with the fun stuff and stay out of the ‘reality’ part of it altogether. Alternately, if she shares her ‘retirement dream’ instead of putting a pin in her balloon, share what a dreamy retirement looks like for you: what kind of business or hobby would you like to pursue?

    1. Nanani*

      That’s very nice brainstorming but I strongly suspect that the reaction would be to try and get #1 to read the books for them, or figure out how to take the courses, or buy them the resources or or or.

      I think they should pullll waaaaay baaaaack and just change the topic every time.
      Or hang out with different friends entirely until this fades out.

    2. Observer*

      This would be really helpful if it were the OP who wanted to start the B&B. But it’s not. And all of the advice to back off and stop offering resources is on the mark. Because their friend didn’t ask for resources. Worse, they push back when the OP tries to offer that kind of information.

      The OP should stick to being a low key “sheering squad”.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Sheering squad? Is that the crew on a boat that handles the quick tacking? (I kid! I kid!)

  39. Just Me*

    LW 3 – The first thing that comes to mind is that the hiring manager had a couple strong candidates and offered a position to the person they felt was the strongest. They woke up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night, looked at their phone, and saw that person sent an email accepting the offer sometime during the night. Great, the hiring manager thinks, now when I head into the office I can just get started with their onboarding. They quickly send a “Thanks for letting me know, we’ll be in touch with next steps” to the new hire, a quick rejection to the other candidate(s), and then collapses back into bed for an hour before they have to get up.

    At OldJob we were all overworked and frequently had to work on emails until 10 or 11 at night, and some of the managers would wake up in the middle of the night and just start answering emails.

  40. Observer*

    #5 – You are being completely reasonable. And you hold all the cards. What is she going to do if you hold firm? Fire you?

    I mean, she might do that, if reddit is to be believed, but ultimately who cares? You have another job to go to, and from what you say you could even move your start date up if you really need to because you need the 2 / 3 weeks worth of income. So, anything she says is all bark and no bite.

    1. Nanani*

      Exactly! And you already have a new job lined up, so at worst a reference from two jobs ago complaining about you doing a perfectly reasonable thing?
      not worth twisting into pretzels over.

  41. AdAgencyChick*

    #5: Can you negotiate your start date such that you resign the day you return from your vacation and give two weeks’ notice? I’ve done this at three different jobs because it is the norm in my industry for companies not to allow PTO after someone resigns, even if that PTO was already approved.

  42. KTC*

    LW #4, if the range being offered is the range people are accepting, that is the market. The kind of systemic change you are looking for is unlikely in the US (if that is indeed where you are) until/unless people stop accepting jobs at that salary and companies are forced to raise pay to attract talent.

    1. Anya Last Nerve*

      Agreed. It’s pure economics- employers want to pay the least amount they can to get talent, workers want the most amount they can to work there. OP admits that if they turn this job down, there will be a line of people to take their place so there is no economic pressure on the employer to pay more.

    2. Nanani*

      Sad but true. Especially in a glamourous industry – one suspects there are a lot of privileged people who can work for peanuts because their families foot their living expenses. Makes it hard to get a foot in the door if you aren’t similarly privileged.

      Good luck #4, it sucks.

  43. Observer*

    #3- email rejection for a job.

    You ask if you are reading “too much into it”? My question is what are you actually concluding and from what?

    I don’t understand why you are confused. The only thing that’s really relevant here is the status of your application. And you seem to have complete clarity – they rejected your application and are not getting this job.

    I’m even more stumped by your saying that it’s “hurtful”. Why does it matter what the office hours of the resume are? I do think that it would have been a kindness to delay the sending till the end of the weekend, because who needs that information during that time. But why would it make a difference if it was sent at 4:06 or 10:00am? It’s still messing up your weekend.

    It sounds like you are trying to read the tea-leaves. It also feels a bit like you are trying to find a way to blame someone for the very normal distress that comes with a job rejection. Now, the fact that you are writing in to Alison tells me that you do have a countervailing instinct that maybe that’s not the way this works. That’s a good instinct. Nurture it.

    Job hunting stinks. Having your application rejected hurts and it feels personal even when it’s not. That’s not cheerful. But understanding and accepting this will actually make things more manageable.

    Lots of luck!

    1. AnonyAnony*

      Yeah I totally understand being disappointed about the rejection. Nobody likes getting rejected! But I was taken aback by OP3 saying it’s hurtful, confusing, strange, and off. I’m really not understanding why the OP would assign negative meaning (or any meaning) to the time at which the email was sent. OP3 might consider taking a step back to reflect on whether their expectations about getting job rejections are realistic and reasonable.

  44. Hats Are Great*

    LW3, it could also be that if they’re running an automatic screening program on applications, or sending out large numbers of automated rejections, they’re running that program during off-peak overnight hours when cloud computing resources are cheaper — a lot of health care services, for example, run their huge numbers of reports and updates overnight, to take advantage of lower prices. This can even be set up automatically, to wait for the price of the resources to fall below $X, and then run.

    Sometimes when companies seem to be doing automated tasks that aren’t time-sensitive or immediate at weird middle-of-the-night or early-morning times, that’s why. (Basically whenever you think the fewest people would be streaming video in your area, that’s when cloud computing is going to be cheapest.)

  45. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    Yeah, my mother is one of those people who comes up with all these grand plans, but expects everyone else to do all the work. While she lounges in public view taking the credit and accolades for her idea and sometimes making a show of pretending to “help” with the work. Not saying LW#1’s friend is the same way since I don’t know her, of course!

    It’s just very amusing to me (and irritating, if I’m dragged in) how these people always have Big Ideas that they immediately put off on others. I’d hope that LW’s friend is the sort who won’t follow through even if she’s not getting the “support” she craves, since she clearly isn’t interested in putting in the work herself. Most people are this way, just wanting to voice their dreams aloud with no intention to follow up. And that’s fine! Just don’t drag others in, and then be resentful when they don’t want to put effort into your dreams that you’re never going to follow up on anyway.

    Then you have people like my mother, who is the nightmare scenario person. She comes up with her grandiose dreams, and if you encourage her in any way, she *will* take it as a sign she should follow through–which, of course, just means that anyone who encouraged her finds themselves in her attempts to stick them with her work and possibly her bills. I learned the hard way to shut her down right away even if she thinks I’m being negative or rude. The alternative is suddenly finding out she’s telling people I’m running things for her without my consent, and I get a lot of weird calls about business-related things I had no prior knowledge of.

    Her current “dream” of many is running a doggy daycare for wealthy tourists (she lives near a town where people often come in for just the day or overnight). She thinks she’ll just get to play with dogs all day that then go home by closing time. She has put exactly zero thought into the care requirements and legal issues that come with keeping live animals, of course. She gets so mad when I say, “How will you handle wrangling large dogs and heavy water bowls and bags of food with your bad legs and back? What about emergency vet services when a dog eats something they shouldn’t out in the yard or gets injured? What about legal protections when an owner tries to sue you over accidents or injuries? What about giving dogs medication that’s more involved than feeding them pill pockets? What happens when someone uses the service as a dumping ground to abandon unwanted pets and never comes back to claim them?” (I used to work in a kennel, so I know at least a few things about them.)

    But if I instead said, “That sounds like a lovely idea!” even if I didn’t add, “You should do it!” she’d still take that as her sign to try to start the business–or, more likely, sneakily put me on the hook to do the legwork for her regardless of my consent, in such a way that things end poorly for me whether or not I do her bidding. Thankfully, as she gets older, she has less and less energy for enacting harebrained schemes, and is more talk than ill-informed action these days. I still shut her down, though. Too much hard personal experience. It’s also a huge reason why I live 1000 miles away.

    It’s most likely that OP’s friend just wants people to dream with, not people to work with (or do the work for her) to make that dream reality. My mother is the other end of the spectrum, so these kinds of people definitely exist, and should be taken into account so you don’t find yourself sucked into someone else’s ill-conceived dream work. That’s really all my long ramble was getting at. Hope it entertained. *LOL*

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      …That was posted to be a reply to a LW#1 thread, but didn’t show up as one. Ah well!

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I know a similar person to your mother, and I use the “huh” technique on her. I don’t shut it down (we’re not close enough for me to be that invested), but you’re right that you can’t make positive noises or say it’s a great idea without somehow starting something. So I tend to nod and “uh huh” and “you don’t say”, or “how will that work” and “huh I always thought there was more to it, but I’m not familiar enough to say”. There’s absolutely no danger of her actually being proactive, so as long as I don’t sound proactive or enthusiastic, all is safe.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        The “huh” technique is a great strategy! I’ve definitely used it for people where I didn’t have the kind of relationship that would let me say “You really need to not do that, and here’s why” without negative consequences for me.

  46. Nanani*

    #1 – Sorry but your friend sounds exhausting. You do not need to make this guy’s (I’m fairly confidently guessing) retirement dream come true for him. Don’t look for materials, don’t do the legwork, just change the subject with a cheerful “that sounds nice, good luck!”

    #5 – You don’t work there anymore. You are in your notice period. Don’t let your exboss leverage your kind heart – you don’t work for him anymore. He can’t fire you, and any reasonable future employer will not care about how mad he gets if you do a reasonable thing like take the time off you’re entiteled to.

  47. I should really pick a name*

    Maybe ask your friend what kind of support they’d like to see?
    Maybe they just want to hear “Good luck” as opposed to “That’s very risky and I don’t think it’s a good idea”

  48. Dust Bunny*

    because they are very creative and love to cook

    This has almost nothing to do with running a successful business, though. I mean, it has something to do with it but it’s not the foundation.

    I’d back off and settle for asking (relatively) superficial questions and mm-hmming as needed. Whether or not she does this, or succeeds at it, is neither your problem nor your business.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Right?! Very, very few jobs really need ‘creativity’ as the main skill. Especially running a small business. That needs the ability to just Get. Sh**. Done.

  49. Dust Bunny*

    LW4: There’s a fair rate and there’s a market rate, and I think you’re conflating the two. The market rate is what the market will currently bear but has nothing at all to do with how much the work is “worth”. Fair rate is what it’s worth but has nothing to do with how much people/tradition are currently paying for it. Don’t get hung up on the “fair” part of “fair market rate”–it refers to what is considered fair within the market rate, not what should be fair overall.

    1. Observer*

      Don’t get hung up on the “fair” part of “fair market rate”–it refers to what is considered fair within the market rate, not what should be fair overall.

      This is the key. Like if the standard market rate is $X for White guys, $Z for Latine Women and $Y for Black men, at least one of those rates is NOT “fair market rate” because the rate is being influenced by things other than the market. Or if you the rate for everyone is $X and one person is being paid $X-10, then that’s not “fair market rate” because they are being paid below the market rate.

      That doesn’t mean that $x, (or whatever the highest rate in my first example) is a FAIR rate by itself.

    2. pancakes*

      I think there’s a third number to keep in mind too: A livable wage for the area the employee intends to live in. Sometimes that corresponds with what’s considered fair and sometimes it doesn’t.

  50. Ashloo*

    OP 5: Twice now, at very small businesses, my husband has been let go the day before planned PTO (and they did not have to pay out PTO). You already have a job lined up so maybe this isn’t a big deal, but it’s a possibility that could affect your cash flow if sprung on you.

    1. Observer*

      Definitely something the OP should prepare for. But the boss would have to be on the stupid, vindictive AND self-destructive end to fire the OP given how essential the OP is to the business and how important decent handover is going to be. So, I wouldn’t worry TOO much about that possibility.

  51. CommanderBanana*

    LW#1, I’ve always loved baking, so in grad school I took a part-time job at a bakery to see if it was something I might be interested in doing professionally. It wasn’t! I learned a lot of neat stuff about running a bakery and baking on a large scale, but the most important thing I learned was that while I liked baking, I didn’t want to be a baker or bakery owner.

    Your friend should probably take a job or internship at a B&B before they do anything else. I have no idea how “I love cooking and fantasize about opening a B&B” has metastasized into “and also my friends should do all of this research for me and somehow make this a reality” but trust me, I worked with enough people at the bakery who though that baking meant cutely waltzing behind the counter quirkily frosting a single cupcake like the main character in a rom-com and were rudely awakened when they realized that it actually meant showing up at work at 4:00 am to decorate 15 identical cakes.

    1. Pikachu*

      I know two people who are (were?) super into weightlifting and fitness. They opened local gyms/barbell clubs. In the beginning, they were at the gym leading as many as 6 classes a day starting at 6am. After hours, they’re cleaning floors and equipment and managing all the administrative work. And a qualified trainer isn’t someone you can hire off the street for minimum wage. Good trainers need to get paid, and until you can afford it, you’re doing it all yourself. One of them once said “opening my own gym was the worst thing I ever did for my health.”

      They’re both in a good place now, making money and doing the thing, but it took YEARS.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Exactly! I have another hobby that I keep getting asked if I’m going to do full time, and no, because I love it, and I don’t want to start hating it.

  52. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    LW #2: Invisible disability alert!!
    I have direct experience with this. I have a chronic illness that can cause me to suddenly fall asleep in the afternoons, and I don’t even know I’m doing it. Unfortunately, I’ve been working with colleagues who observe this, then run straight to the grand boss to tattle that “Tangerina’s sleeping!!!!” and the vicious gossip goes from there. You have no idea how much I wish these colleagues would have just come into the office and called my name or shook my shoulder, or otherwise showed some kind of human concern. I understand he’s your boss; but if I were you, I’d say something to HR, who might well be aware of an invisible disability, such that they can have a (quiet, respectful, we want to help you solve this problem) talk. He may desperately need new meds or a device or something without realizing it. That’s not your responsibility, I know; but please, please, PLEASE, for the love of God, DON’T assume that it’s irresponsibility on his part. I have been on the receiving of that sort of silent contempt, ridicule and hatred for eleven years now, and it royally SUCKS.

    1. Observer*

      ut if I were you, I’d say something to HR, who might well be aware of an invisible disability, such that they can have a (quiet, respectful, we want to help you solve this problem) talk

      I don’t think it’s the OP’s place to have that conversation. *IF* there is actually an impact on the OP’s work or there seems to be more going on that the falling asleep, that might be a different story. But based on what we know, there is simply no good reason to go to HR and little to no chance of something really useful coming of it.

      but please, please, PLEASE, for the love of God, DON’T assume that it’s irresponsibility on his part

      100% OP, this would be true under any circumstances. In this case, you know enough to know that your boss is a hard worker, etc. Therefore the most reasonable conclusion is that this is happening for reasons that are difficult of impossible for your boss to control. The assumption that he’s just irresponsible is actually NOT a reasonable one, based on what you know.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ This. I had several weeks of horrible, abnormal sleepiness – like, not just regular sleepiness, but like my brain was actively turning itself off – when I was switching medication.

  53. Calamity Janine*

    bad advice that you shouldn’t do, in which i am setting myself up as the anti-alison please don’t let us touch there will be an explosion like matter meeting antimatter –

    for the sleepy boss, just coordinate with your coworkers. everyone pulls out various instruments and starts playing a gentle little lullabye when he nods off, then quietly file out of the room. maybe deploy a pillow and blanket to lovingly drape over his shoulders. or if you’re feeling super cheeky, everyone should bring out their own pillows and blankets, and it becomes group siesta time.

    either he will think this prank a brilliant one, or he will decide that actually company naptime in the afternoons should become an established thing and wholeheartedly adopt this practice as widespread. win-win!

    (p.s. do not do this)

  54. Exit Stage Left*

    LW3 – In many cases, companies don’t mail any rejections until they can send them all at once (for example, waiting until they’ve confirmed they’ve filled all their available interview slots). This often results in large numbers of e-mails being sent out at once, and many e-mail systems will automatically spread large e-mail lists out over longer periods of time so they’re not falsely identified as a spam (Systems like Gmail consider it a strong warning sign if multiple accounts all receive near-identical e-mails at the same time).

    So it could be you were part of a batch mailing that they triggered at the end of the day on Friday – but it took until Saturday morning for the system to get around to sending your specific e-mail.

    As all the other posters have said though, there is absolutely no way to know, so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to figure out something that it’s unlikely you’ll never know the specific details of – just that there’s all kinds of perfectly normal reasons for it, that have nothing to do with your specific application.

  55. Delta Delta*

    #1 – this is the perfect time to say, “cool idea, I hope it works out” and then turn your pretty head and walk away. This is absolutely not your problem, and it seems like you’re reading a lot into it.

  56. The. WHAT.*

    LW1 – even people who have really great ideas, really good capital, and a solid business plan can often fail at a business. Markets are capricious. Disasters can happen. Illness, family issues, personal issues can all get in the way of the kind of hustle it takes to succeed at starting up a small business. So even if your friend came back and said, “I took what you said to heart and did 48 hours of nothing but research and have a solid business plan”, and ended up with a mysterious benefactor like in a Victorian novel who gave them a no-strings-attached gift of a million dollars to start their business, they could still fail.

    All of this is a point in favor of smiling, nodding, wishing them well and changing the subject. Definitely don’t invest your own time in their pipe dream.

  57. Alexis Rosay*

    LW1, why doesn’t your friend just start by renting out a room on AirBnB? That’s way less work that running a full-scale bed and breakfast, but still a significant amount of work, and it would give them a taste of the tasks involved (i.e., that it’s less about being super creative and more about getting the room clean and ready for guests on time).

    And yeah, let them figure on their own exactly how to make that happen… (maybe you all have closer friendships than I have, but to me expecting one’s friends to Google stuff for you or help you with your business is kind of bizarre).

  58. Anonymousse*

    #4 If you’re competing with interns or essentially cheap labor because the work is geared more towards wealthy people who don’t need a salary (wealthy mom and dad, trusts) to survive as you do…it can be really hard.

    You cannot negotiate for more when you’re just out of school with none or almost no experience.

    I wish you good luck, but you may need to supplement with something else to survive. A lot of us had to start at the very bottom, but you do tend to go up. I am not an oldie who wants younger generations to suffer like I did but it can but brutal to start when you’re poor (I was) or even if you’re not. I hope things are better for your generation.

  59. Lily Potter*

    OP1: as Allison and others have mentioned, let your friends have their fantasy. Only poke your nose in IF they start actually doing things to make it happen and IF they ask for your help.

    I had a friend who had a fantasy of living abroad and working as a remote freelancer (this was years ago when remote work was uncommon). She started down the path of spending money on incorporation, home improvement so she could sell her house, etc. She asked what I thought of her plan and I told her that she needed to put everything else on hold until she actually had regular, paying client work. Yep, she was ready to leave her job and the country without thinking about cash flow. Thank goodness she abandoned this idea, because she’d have been dreadful at hustling for business, especially remotely.

  60. HannahS*

    LW1, I’m joining the chorus of, “do less work on this.” You can just say, “Sounds neat!” and leave it at that. It’s better for your relationship.

    I am a ruthlessly practical person. Dreaming is fun, but I am very aware of the practical constraints of my dream side-gig of selling children’s clothing made from recycled textiles to rich, eco-conscious parents. Ahem. Namely, I have no time, money, or space to start a business, plus I hate marketing.

    But recently my partner had a “I think I’ll start a business doing selling home-made leather wallets!” I knew very well that the business would immediately fail, because they’re a beginner and the wallets, frankly, are badly made. Instead of pointing that out or offering help, I said things like, “Sounds fun!” and “Yep, you could undercut the market if you sold them for that price.” The truth is, I knew that the idea would fail without my interference; their idea was to sell them to a local store and I knew that the wallets weren’t good enough to be sold there (and they never made more wallets, because like me, they don’t have time.) Since I knew that everyone external to our relationship would stop it from happening, I didn’t have to take on that responsibility. Other people will discourage my partner; I don’t have to.

  61. Nameless in Customer Service*

    LW #1 — your friend’s … aspiration… reminded me of the article “How a Restaurant Ruined My Life.” link to follow.

    1. Antilles*

      Just going to just note that if anybody hasn’t read this article from a few years back, it’s a fascinating look behind the curtain. Even if you never plan on owning your own business or starting a restaurant, it’s still a very interesting look at just how much needs to go on behind the scenes in starting up and running a restaurant.
      (And if you *do* plan on starting a restaurant, it’s practically required reading – both to learn from someone else’s mistakes and also just to realize just how risky of a venture you’re really embarking on)

    2. EmmaPoet*

      I wince every time I read this article. I never plan on owning a restaurant and even I could spot the pitfalls as I read along. I do appreciate that he’s willing to serve as a cautionary tale for others, it wouldn’t be easy putting this out there for others to laugh at you.

  62. CoveredinBees*

    OP1, it could be that your friend is looking for some free labor. As others have pointed out, if she can’t complete the basics on her own, you can probably just skate by without having to give her a reality check.

    No matter how pouty she gets, don’t offer free labor and decline if she outright asks. It will only continue. A family member asked me to handle the legal paperwork to start a business that I thought was a bad idea. For free. Not only was a prosecutor with zero transactional/corporate experience, but I was also not licensed in their state. I would have (rightfully) lost my job and my law license. They kept claiming that it would be fine. They might still be salty about me not doing that work for them but I am fine with not being part of something that left them financially devastated.

  63. No Idea How to Help*

    Hi everyone, LW1 here – thank you so much for the comments! I’ve tried to read as much as I can so far and will finish up later.

    Screen Porch Office hit the nail on the head, the friend who wants to open the B&B falls into one of the categories mentioned (as does the friend who agrees with me!). As a result, the dynamics are a bit more complex… But we are trying to preserve anonymity.

    We think they want us to be very involved with the work – tell them where to find info, how to get things going, while they focus on design (decor, menus, etc.). Similar to what some persons mentioned, we believe they think it’ll be a great place to showcase all the dishes they want to cook (maybe not realizing they may not be what people generally want to eat), that they could chat with guests, that if anything fell through, we’d have to jump in (mind you, we don’t live nearby), etc.

    It would be something to occupy their time and be their main source of income, but we think the work involved and the legal requirements from having to deal with food, people, insurance, etc. would not really make it profitable.

    We’re going to take a look at the shows recommended and share them, as well as info about checking in with their local SBA. But we have no means of providing capital nor time.

    Nameless, we actually came across the first article last week and while we didn’t share it with our friend, we told them about it and what the owner went through. It didn’t really seem to sink in… So that helped us to decide we should write to AAM, even if all we got was more of those stories!

    Chili pepper, that’s a great suggestion – will see if they’d be willing to consider that.

    Teekanne, what happened with your mom sounds like the best case scenario, but our friend is in no way set up for that.

    1. coffee*

      Perhaps you could find a small-business course and suggest they go on that? An ex-coworker went on one for a business idea they had, and it involved things like creating a business plan, doing a mock accounting book project, creating the marketing for it, etc. Very practical and also you could use what you did on your actual business.

      (Spoiler: she was an ex-coworker because she got a different job, not because she launched that business.)

      1. coffee*

        Sorry, forgot to make my main point: doing that kind of course would allow them to try out the “running a business” activities without having to commit to anything more than a training course. So you get a feel for the work, and you have to do the work involved, before you commit too hard to the actual venture. Crucially you also don’t get to distract yourself with menus and decor before reality sets in.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      If it’s the décor they are interested in, maybe they should try an interior decorating business instead? I’ve a feeling it could be easier on them, as they can refuse clients when they have too much work, and there’s more creativity in it for them.

  64. Raida*

    1. My friend says we’re not supportive enough of their business idea

    Your friend likes the *idea* of the B&B. They do not have the skills or capital to do so, well, from the beginning (I’m being generous here in case they could get up to speed before having to close up shop)

    Tell them what I tell my mates with business ideas: Alright, you’re gonna need to do a small business course at [whatever is the local training organisation], you’re going to need an accountant and lawyer to set up the business structure correctly, you need a business plan which includes KPIs and review dates.
    Until you have those foundational things, until you have done the work to make this into a business plan and not a daydream, you’re just hamstringing your business idea.

    I don’t know a lawyer, I don’t know an accountant, I don’t know what courses are currently available. A business owner needs to be able to see what needs to be done, do the legwork to learn about it, find resources, network, and follow through.

    I’m happy to design a menu with you, and the decor, and the uniform, and pick out the nice handwash in the bathrooms and all the other fun parts that cost no money, have no limits, and are just having some fun designing an imaginary B&B.
    Now if you actually want to run one, you’d need to pay me to help with any of that, for any research time chasing down ideas, suppliers, examples of the competition, common feedback from custoemrs of this business type, what successful ones have as their online presence, available names… And if you have the money to pay me, that doesn’t mean I’m available for all the time that’d be needed, or interested in the work, or that I’d apply for an ongoing with you, of if I did have a job with you that I wouldn’t quit in three weeks flat!
    Are you a good manager? I don’t know. Are you a pain in the arse to work with? No idea. Would it be too much stress? Impossible to tell. It’s your responsibility to be across the entire business, to be present, responsive, responsible, make decisions – all while managing customers and staff and suppliers and the kitchen.
    As a friend it’s my job to empathise with you, support you making good decisions, and not get thrown under the bus if you think I didn’t do enough work for free for you, mkay.

    I’m not saying you can’t do it, I’m not saying I wouldn’t help. I just want to be clear that I’m not going to spend my spare time, unpaid, working for you until you have done the serious, boring, foundational stuff like a course on small business and research on B&Bs. It’ll be a waste otherwise.
    I’m a data analyst, this is how I’m helping you – what else could you expect from me mate?

  65. Stevie Nicks*

    LW 4: I work in pro sports in an expensive place (really narrows it down, hehe) and I’ve gone through the same dilemma. I worked unpaid and low-paying jobs for years to finally get the stable, decently-paying role I have now. There was burnout, stress, lots of doubts, lots of second and third jobs, etc but I also know I’d never be happy in any other industry. For me, sacrificing a higher salary and a normal schedule are worth it; for a lot of other people, it’s not and they’ve left the industry and are completely at peace with that.

    If you’re like me and sticking with this is worth it to you, here are some things that worked for me in a “glamorous” industry. 1. The company I’m currently at is a bit of a unicorn in the industry—uncapped commissions for those in sales roles, not a single employee was fired or furloughed during the pandemic, and leadership that is really in tune with the pulse of politics and current events. They’re not perfect by any means, but within this industry people are by far in a better environment than they probably would be elsewhere (the sports world is small, there are a lot of horror stories!). Do your research and find the unicorn in your industry, if they’re out there.

    2. If it’s really not viable to work a job directly related, find places that are “adjacent” to your industry. For example, I took internships and did work for sports-adjacent companies such as agencies and licensed sportswear retailers. Often, the compensation can be better at these types of places than on the team side and you still get to be around what you love. If your industry has any “indirect” opportunities they could be worth looking into and still let you do what you love!

    I hope this is helpful, I know it’s tough!

    1. OP4*

      I really appreciate the actionable advice for surviving a glamorous industry! I’m at the stage where I need to at least try making it in my field, seeing as it’s my lifelong dream, even though I know it’s brutal in a lot of ways. I’m not sure whether the low pay and long hours will wind up being worth it to me or not, but to your second point, I do know that if I ever decide they’re not, there are a lot of other, related career paths out there (and a lot of burnt out defectors from my industry willing to guide the way). I suppose that counts for something!

  66. NotBatman*

    LW3: If it helps, it could also be that someone carefully reviewed your application in the wee hours. What came to mind: my dad has severe insomnia and (I learned while working for a partner of his company) a reputation for sending most emails in the middle of the night. I’ve always known he barely sleeps, but while around coworkers who didn’t know we were related I’d hear “[Jon] will get to it at 2AM, I’m guessing” or “woke up this morning to find [Jon] made a call on that during Jon Hours” all the time.

  67. OP4*

    Hi, all. Thank you for all your insights! I feel a little naive for asking the question in the first place, because logically I know, and have known for a long time, that there is no magic solution—if there was, my industry (which some of you did guess, by the way) would not have its reputation for chewing people up and spitting them out. We eager industry hopefuls are, as a friend observed recently, contributing to our own cannibalization.

    Believe me when I say I have considered other, adjacent industries and jobs. My industry does attract people with a lot of widely transferable skills, and even at the entry level, I have some unique experience in my background that could take me in an entirely different direction, career-wise. So there is an escape hatch, and I more or less know how to use it. But (and yes, every other starry-eyed newcomer says this too), I’ve dreamed of doing this work my whole life, and I do find it personally meaningful. Some of you mentioned finding a stable, less glamorous job to pay the bills so I can focus on my hobbies, but the dream career with the nightmare salary has significant overlap with my creative hobbies, the things I would want to be doing with my life if money were not a factor. So yes, the observation that I’m accepting less money in exchange for fulfillment did resonate with me. I’m too early in my career to know whether that is a worthwhile tradeoff for me personally, or whether it will remain worthwhile long-term. Unfortunately, I think it’s one of those things I just have to try for myself, at least for a little while, even though I know the odds.

    1. Just Another Starving Artist*

      As someone who did make it to a stable place in an underpaid dream industry, I genuinely wish you luck! Knowing that you have an escape hatch and that is isn’t the end of the world to change careers if this doesn’t work out is half the battle. And do keep pushing for change as you grow in your industry. I can advocate for entry level people now in a way I couldn’t when I was entry level myself, and I like to think it helps a little.

  68. Possibly?*

    #2 – I had a boss who did this due to diabetes and sugar issues because he refused to watch what he ate. If this is happening right after lunch, it may be something similar and in which case just frame it as medical issues to any clients who ask.

  69. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    My boss used to fall asleep at random moments, the doctor said it was hypersomnia. We would just start talking much more loudly, to wake him up. For one important meeting I crossed my legs and jiggled, making sure to keep knocking his leg as I did so. He stayed awake, but was quiet and let me handle the client, resulting in the best possible outcome. I was so proud of myself that day!

  70. blood orange*

    OP #3: When a candidate is rejected through Indeed using their Reject feature, it has the option to send a simple rejection notice that is delayed 2-3 days. That almost definitely means your application was reviewed, and the hiring manager/recruiter decided not to move forward with your application. Truly, take Alison’s advice not to read too much into the timing.

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