boyfriend’s employer keeps wrecking our plans, company doesn’t care about customer threats, and more

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

1. Boyfriend’s employer keeps wrecking our plans

My boyfriend works as a carer and, so far as it’s possible for an outsider to judge, seems really conscientious and dedicated to the clients. Unfortunately the company he works for seems to be taking advantage of this.

The long hours and low pay are bad enough, but what’s putting our relationship under strain is that he can’t even make plans for his limited free time. Every time we arrange to spend time together, he gets a call either the night before or the morning of saying they need him to travel to the other side of the county, work through lunch, or some other change in work patterns that ruins our plans.

I have encouraged him to job search, but the aforementioned long hours leave him without much energy for more than immediate plans. I know this is his problem to solve, but is there any advice I can give him besides “Flee, they are terrible people”?

Does he always say yes to those last-minute requests? What would happen if he said no to some of them? If he’s open to suggestions, that’s the one I’d try — saying, “Unfortunately I can’t do that; I have an existing commitment that I can’t move.” Unless a requirement of the job is “be available 24/7 no matter regardless of what your work schedule says,” this is a reasonable thing to do (and very few jobs have that requirement, and the ones that do generally compensate you extremely well for it).

It’s also worth noting the the job market for caregivers is quite good in most places right now, which means your boyfriend’s job is probably pretty secure and he shouldn’t have a hard job search when he launches one.

2. My company doesn’t care about customers threatening violence

I recently started working for a big box store as a sales associate. I mainly help customers on the floor and do very little cashiering. So far, I had been impressed with the culture and the supposed emphasis on workplace safety.

However, as I’ve gotten to know the other employees, I’ve heard about some disturbing things that happened to cashiers and customer service people within the last couple of years — things like customers threatening to shoot them, another customer shoving a cart into an employee that she had been arguing with (i.e., cursing at), and having customers pull guns on them in the checkout line. Management’s response was in all cases was, “You are welcome to call the police and file a report on your own, but not on work time.”

Is this normal? Is this legal? If an employee left work to call the police about a work-related assault, could that employee be terminated? How could an employee protect herself at work from that customer after filing a report? (I use “herself” because in all the cases at my job it has been young women who were threatened.) It’s horrible that these things happen, but it makes it so much worse that the company is indifferent.

It’s really sad because these cashiers all make low wages and have children to support, so they stay and put up with this. I think most of them did not file police reports because they were afraid they would lose their jobs and that the customer would retaliate. I also don’t think there are a lot of options in our town for them.

You’ve had customers pulling guns on cashiers and your management’s response was to do nothing?! No, that’s not normal or okay. I can’t speak to the legality of not letting you file a police report on work time (it’s outside my knowledge, unfortunately; I’d recommend consulting a lawyer in your state) but I can tell you it’s profoundly wrong if indeed your company is blowing off violent threats to its workers and discouraging employees from protecting themselves.

Any chance that the emphasis on workplace safety you were impressed with before you heard these accounts is a newer development in response to older incidents? Or, of course, it could be nothing more than lip service. To determine which it is, you could ask your manager about how to respond if a customer makes threats or has a weapon, and see what they say.

3. Coworker takes things from other people’s offices (for work)

Our office “Nosey Rosey” has recently been going into peoples cubicles/offices when they aren’t around. She’s been with the company about a year and a half and this just started in the last couple of months. It has almost always been work-related: getting a roll of labels out of one person’s drawer or a reference page out of another’s file tower. Last week she helped herself to my key cabinet while I was at lunch, going into my desk to get the key to the cabinet and then taking another key from the cabinet to hand out to someone else. (I’ve never given her permission to do either of those things, and there were other people in the office who have copies of the key that was needed.) And there have been other instances too. One afternoon my boss couldn’t find his coffee mug as he was packing up to leave for a meeting. While he was looking for it, she went into his office, opened up his lunch bag, and pulled out his water bottle, asking me if that was the coffee mug. I was so taken aback I didn’t have the presence of mind to say anything.

How do I address this? Am I overreacting? I for one am super uncomfortable knowing that a coworker feels so free to other people’s things. My intuition tells me that, work reasons or not, this kind of behavior is not okay. So far I haven’t told anyone the things I’ve seen Rosey doing. Should I? I don’t want to be a tattletale, but I also want my and my coworkers’ boundaries to be respected … and to make sure other people know to keep an eye on their stuff!

Well, you don’t have the same expectation of privacy at work that you would at home, and there are times when a coworker might need to go into your desk for something if you’re not available. But it sounds like Rosey feels a higher level of freedom to poke around in other people’s stuff than she should, and it would be reasonable to say to her, “Please don’t take my cabinet key without my permission unless I’m not here and it’s an emergency” or “please don’t go through the things in my office unless it’s an emergency and I’m not available.” (If you work with confidential materials that she shouldn’t have access to, cite that as well.) And if you see her doing it to someone else, you can call that out in the moment too — like with that incident with your boss’s lunch bag, you could say, “Whoa, I don’t think you should be going through his personal stuff.”

But if, aside from the lunch bag incident, it’s always been about getting work items that were needed in the moment, it doesn’t sound like it necessarily rises to the level of needing to flag it for someone higher up — just something where you should clearly lay out your own boundaries with her.

4. I’ve had no contact with our new hire

What is the protocol for introducing new employees when everyone is fully remote? A new junior staffer was just hired onto my immediate team, making us a team of three, in an organization of ~200. When I got a notification on Teams that my new colleague had joined one of our private teams on their first day, I took the opportunity to IM a friendly welcome message. That has been our only contact so far. There’s a larger departmental meeting in a few days where my new colleague will likely be introduced. Is it normal that our shared manager hasn’t set up a meet-and-greet call for the three of us? Should I proactively set something up for the two of us, or would that be inappropriate? When I asked my manager about greetings and training before my new colleague started, he said he had it all under control. I was surprised I wasn’t asked to plan to provide training. Now that our new colleague is on board, every passing day feels more awkward. Is this a typical case of sloppy on-boarding, or is this the latest sign I’m being pushed out?

I wouldn’t take this as a sign that you’re being pushed out unless there are other things that make you think that! It’s possible, of course, but absent some other evidence*, I’d assume that either your manager just dropped the ball on introductions (not uncommon) or has the new hire busy with other things. But there’s no reason you can’t reach out to her on your own and offer to do an introductory call.

* Is there other evidence? You wrote “the latest sign” of being pushed out, so if there are others and they form a pattern, that is worth paying attention to, and perhaps worth initiating a conversation with your boss about where you stand. But this on its own shouldn’t make you think that.

5. Can you leave your street address off your resume?

Should applicants in subsidized/section 8 housing leave their street address off their resume? My colleagues and I are career counselors for people receiving state assistance (welfare). As such, most of our participants live in financially assisted housing. The location of this housing is widely known to the general public. Some career counselors advise leaving the street address off a resume other than town/city to avoid stigma. Some say to include it because otherwise it appears as though the applicant forgot it or is homeless which also brings about stigma. Some have no opinion on the matter.

It’s incredibly common these days for applicants to leave their street addresses off their resumes and list only city/state (I’d guess about a third of the resumes I see do it that way). The convention of listing a street address goes back to the days when employers might contact you by postal mail — it’s really no longer necessary at all, and loads of people have stopped doing it. It should be fine for your clients to just list city and state. (That said, you may find that street address as a required field with online application systems  … although that info often isn’t passed along to hiring managers the way a resume is.)

{ 373 comments… read them below }

  1. Dragon_Dreamer*

    OP #2, your managers are not going to care. What you are describing is a workplace that is toxic and dangerous. What they are doing is NOT legal in most jurisdictions, but they. Do. Not. Care. Workers, especially females, are replaceable. The customer is king, in their eyes. If you did file a police report, they would almost certainly fire you.


    1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      My ONLY caveat here is that I can’t tell from the letter how directly this information is getting to OP. If she’s been talking to several employees and knows the impacted employees, I would weigh the info heavily and she should seriously consider leaving.

      But if it’s just one or two people who are reporting dramatic incidents second or thirdhand, then OP should ask around a bit more.

      Retail workplaces often have dramatic customer stories about things that happened years ago, or happened at the Bloomington branch, etc.

      1. High Score!*

        This was my first thought too. If someone pulls out a gun and points it at anyone or waves it around, a police report is filed and the incident is investigated whether the weapon was fired or not. Same if someone is threatened.
        Your life is worth more than your job. If anything bad happens report it immediately.

        1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

          “Your life is worth more than your job. ”

          This. So much this. Back in the early ’80s, when I was in college, I pulled graveyard shifts at a well-known 24/7 convenience store. Part of the training was that if someone came in armed and tried to rob the place, give them whatever they wanted and get them out. Then lock the doors and call the police.

          The training specifically said, “Things are replaceable. You are not.”

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            Sounds like OP’s box store management finds the people far more replaceable than the merchandise!

      2. toolittletoolate*

        This. Sometimes stories get changed a lot in the telling. My husband works at a big box store part time (retirement gig–sporting goods) . He personally witnessed an incident between a customer and an employee. The customer was verbally rude and the the employee hadn’t done anything to deserve that. My husband intervened with the customer (he’s so adept at handling difficult people) and encouraged the employee to report the situation to the manager. The employee thanked him. (Hubby is not a manager, he was just a dude selling fishing licenses).

        The manager came later to get hubby’s statement. According to the manager, that employee reported that the customer shoved him (not true) and pulled back a fist at him (also not true). I don’t know why the employee did that, and I want to be generous (perhaps the employee had earlier traumas that affected his perception), but the facts simply weren’t true.

        By the end of the day, the story circulating in the store was that the customer had pulled a gun on the employee and that “management did nothing.”

      3. SoozMagooz*

        I have worked a second job at a big chain grocery store for the past three years. What OP is describing is absolutely commonplace in retail right now. I work in the deli and the other week we had a (male) customer bring a wrench into the store and start banging it against the glass of the deli case in a loud and threatening manner trying to get service. I have customers yelling at me and threatening me every single shift. And I am 6′ tall and take shit from absolutely no one, I can’t imagine what my younger and more petite coworkers go through. Management does not care as long as they keep the customer happy. Workers are expendable

        1. Wired Wolf*

          I work at a grocery store, and we have more than our share of crazy customers. A few have threatened coworkers and managers (and/or lied claiming they were the victim)…nothing was done. In one instance a manager was threatened; he was suspended for an investigation but luckily he had about 8 witnesses as well as video. My company doesn’t like to ban troublemakers, because lawsuits (no matter how spurious). Literally the only way ‘customers’ can be banned is if the police are called. I think we’re all waiting for one of the whackaloons to show up with some sort of weapon.

      4. OP 2*

        OP #2 here–
        one of the people I talked to had an incident happen to her personally the previous week, and a previous incident involving a guy with a box cutter, both at our store. She and two other employees told me 2nd or 3rd hand reports about the gun incidents. I agree that 2nd hand stories sometimes take on a life of their own, so I’m keeping an eye and ear out.

        1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I’m so sorry to hear that. Your colleague must have been really frightened. I hope that some of the advice in the comments is able to be useful to you guys, and also that you find more support from management.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          As a former retail and food service worker I am sadly unsurprised. This crap happens more than people think. Shoot, I was punched by a drunk customer and chipped my teeth and my boss wouldn’t let me report it at the time AND didn’t kick the customer out. He let me work in the back and gave me an ice pack. This was in the mid-1990s and I am sure nothing has improved.

        3. All Het Up About It*

          Something else that popped for me is the consideration of is this COMPANY policy or Store #1234 policy? Or maybe even a singular manager? Can you review any actual incident policy or guidelines?

          Because it’s possible that your store managers suck and you and your co-workers might benefit from reporting this overly laissez faire attitude to corporate.

      5. Chirpy*

        Unfortunately, the last two years really have been very violent and dangerous for retail workers, with extra angry and entitled customers, so these incidents have been much more common than before.

    2. Luna*

      If they were to fire an employee for calling the police after being threatened with violence by a customer, I would then use the power of the (social) media to bring down the hammer on these guys. Nothing says, “WTF” than it becoming widely known that an employee was fired for that. PR nightmares are one of the best ways to make these types of managers cower.

      1. Here we go again*

        This happened at a now closed Walmart near where I live. An employee was in his car during break and saw a woman being forced into a car. Employee stoped the man from shoving the woman in the car. He was applauded as a local hero.
        Then Walmart fired him the next week because he broke protocol by getting involved in a crime. They said insurance reasons if he got hurt. It was the same policy that they have for stopping shoplifters, even when he was on his break. Hugh social media backlash guy gets his job back. Then a few months later Walmart announced they’re closing that location due to lack of business.

          1. PersephoneUnderground*

            I think it might have been that they got less business due to the bad press? Or unrelated, obviously we can’t know.

          2. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Probably not, but I’m guessing they did lose some business at that location when word got around that they won’t do anything to stop customers from getting kidnapped in the parking lot.

            1. Here we go again*

              Walmart was the least popular big box store in that location. There were 4 of them in less than a half mile apart. Now there are 3. I’m glad we got a rural king there now.

          3. AnonInCanada*

            The only reason Walmart closes a store is if the employees unionize or they move to a bigger location nearby. But they still kill local businesses either way. F-Walmart!

          4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            I was going on the assumption that the closing of the store was not really connected to this particular incident.

            1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

              I remember reading about that incident. I didn’t know the store closed soon after.

              I suspect it was due to a combination of bad PR, and people staying away due to said bad PR.

              1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                Well, they also might not have been doing that well before, and the bad PR sealed the deal! I hope the rage from social media contributed to the decision though. It seems like public shaming is the only tool these poor employees have with these awful companies! (Though, to be fair, the specific store management team might have been the entity that made the awful decision to fire him, not Walmart higher ups!)

              2. Splendid Colors*

                Drug store chain Walgreens made a big dramatic to-do about how they were closing X% of their stores in San Francisco because the mayor/DA are too soft on crime and this emboldens the shoplifters and vagrants.

                A little investigative reporting determined that Walgreens had been planning to close those stores for quite some time, based on low sales (not net profit after shrinkage). Apparently they thought they could save face by blaming City officials. (There are SO SO MANY Walgreens in SF, I can see why they might be oversaturated in some areas.)

            2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              And I should have read the whole chain first! It does sound like the social media retaliation for them firing this man contributed to the store closing, though honestly, there is still a good chance the store was already in trouble and Walmart just decided this was moment to yank the plug they had slowly been tugging on anyways!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP she works for a big box store. If this is store policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out it is the local manager’s decision not corporate. Corporate will not want the legal liability of putting employees into the position of being endangered by customers. However I however I have no idea how OP would check on corporate policy.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        Corporations often have anonymous reporting lines for things like managers violating company policy or stealing etc. Check the corporate website or employee handbook and something like that could be there. Even if it’s not explicitly anonymous, there could be a number for corporate HR available and that could be worth a call. The larger corporation sees managers as just as replaceable as employees, so if it’s just a local manager being this stupid in a way that could cost the corporation fines or bad press, they could resolve it.

        If corporate doesn’t care, well, unions are a great thing if (1)you have the time and energy to start one, and (2)a better retail job isn’t available elsewhere.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        And the local management team might want to not report these incidents because for some reason they’re concerned how it makes THEM look. Like judging a business that’s been targeted by a lot of graffiti as “trashy” or “easy to steal from,” they think letting this stuff be known is going to make them look incompetent or like they can’t run the store.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          Or expose incompetence/laziness that ‘policies’ enacted by local managers are covering up (letting shoplifters slide while coming down on an employee who can’t pay attention to everything all at once, etc).

    4. Sylvan*


      They’re discouraging you from filing police reports because they don’t want to be associated with what goes on in their stores.

      1. Overit*

        100% I was a manager at a national chain. corporate policy was to NOT call poloce unless you felt death was imminent. DEATH only. Yes, policy. In writing. Why? Corporate felt it was bad pr to have cop cars in front of the store.

        1. Splendid Colors*


          I’ve noticed some of our stores (Target for sure) have reserved parking for the police. But I can see they might not want them there all the time.

          1. Horthy Miklos*

            A local Best Buy *always* has a cop car parked on the sidewalk in front of the store.

            Shoplifting there must be really bad.

    5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Honestly, it probably will not matter to them until an employee is shot on site and there is a history of this employee being harassed by the person who shoots them on site while working and a documented record of the employee reporting it and asking for assistance/guidance on the issue. At that point, they could be at the nasty end of a lawsuit. But my guess is that these employees feel they cannot really report it to the employer most of the time, especially in writing, without facing retaliation. The whole situation is revolting!

      OP2, if you hear about a confirmable case of this type of thing happening, encourage the employee to report that it is happening in writing, and also make sure to document everything yourself (including the fact that you are reporting these incidents to higher ups). They may retaliate against you, but someone needs to make an ironclad paper trail!

    6. Darsynia*

      Agreed. My brother in law was fired for being the employee on duty during an armed robbery at Radio Shack. The robbers took his drivers license and told him that if the police ever came after them, they would go to his address and kill anyone they found there.

      He was still fired.

    7. FionasHuman*

      OP2, if you’re comfortable with it, write back to Alison and ask her to set you and others at your store up to speak with a journalist confidentially. If you were in my local area, I would *jump* at the chance to cover this story and “name and shame” a store expecting employees to put up with this kind of abuse. Or, a national outlet might want to cover this as part of an ongoing look at abuse of employees by retail employers.

      1. former journalist*

        That’s not something they would even need Alison to set up, anyone can contact a reporter themselves! I’m sure AAM has her hands full without finding and pitching reporters on someone’s behalf.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          Most of my local news stations have an ‘investigative team’ segment. Check with your local news affiliate, I’m sure they have something similar.

  2. nnn*

    Doesn’t change anything for OP, but I’m idly wondering if the employer in #2 would feel the same way about police reports if the people with guns were trying to rob the store, rather than “just” threatening the cashiers as individuals.

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I’ve had friends who worked in places like this. Management blamed THEM for not “protecting company assets” and fired them. The guy held a GUN to one of their HEADS. She still has PTSD.

            1. Bankerchick*

              Yeah, I have worked in retail banking for 30 years. Always comply. Money is insured. 1000x more likely to get fired for being a hero and “protecting company assets” than complying with demands.

              It might be a rogue employer with incompetent management or it might have been the employee wasn’t complying with security measures and was keeping too much cash on floor-“not protecting company assets”. We will never know which it is.

              1. Calling Card*

                Some humor: The bank branch I use was robbed a couple of weeks ago by someone apparently deperate but not the sharpest knife in the box. The cash was handed over after someone triggered the silent alarm. The robber ran out the door but the police were already there. (Memo to bank robbers: choose a branch that is not 30 seconds in a speeding squad car from the police station.) So the robber ran in the opposite direction onto a busy main road where traffic was stopped at a light. He tried to open a couple of passenger doors of those stopped at the light to commandeer a getaway ride. (Memo #2: always have the getway vehicle lined up in advance.) The local constabulary nabbed him in the middle of the road.

        1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Yeah, I worked at some retail chains (high-end clothing, bookstore) and we were given similar instructions. Never fight with anyone. Call the cops if someone’s stealing, don’t put yourself at risk.

          There was once incident where a female customer used racially charged language to one of the black employees, and the customer was banned from the store.

          These weren’t like, amazing workplaces with benevolent corporate overlords, but this is bare minimum stuff. OP’s managers suck.

          1. UKDancer*

            Same when I worked in retail as a student. We were told that if we got robbed just to give them whatever they wanted because the shops were insured. This was consistent in all the places I worked.

          2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

            I used to work on the helpdesk for a retail establishment. The workers in the stores were told if they were ever robbed to give the robber whatever they wanted.

            One store got praised in the company newsletter for how they prevented a robbery. The robber started at the opposite end of the strip mall from their store. When they saw what was happening, they locked the doors, turned off the lights, and hid in the back. (I don’t recall if someone called the police as well.) When the robber couldn’t just walk into the store, they moved on to the next one. No one tried to be a hero, and that’s what got emphasized in the article.

        2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Also, adding to this, I think there are two major factors that go into retail stores not allowing employees to ‘fight robbers’. One being that it opens up the store to major legal issues, and the other being that managers are people and most people don’t like to see other people in danger or harrassed.

          In theory, OP and her colleagues could band together and raise the first point to the company and they might get a positive response (maybe not, depends on the store).

          But if the managers are truly as callous as the stories imply, then it would still be good to leave, cause it will be hard to work for managers who are so indifferent.

          1. Snow Globe*

            If this is a retail chain, I’d 100% say that this is not corporate policy (not to call the police for threats against employees), but local management.

            1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              Yeah, that’s a very good point and if OP felt comfortable, there might be a path for her to raise the question to upper management.

            2. kiki*

              Yeah, I agree that it’s the most likely scenario. When I was younger, I worked at a few different big retail businesses and most of the time when something was absolutely bananas, corporate had no idea, it was just local management wilding out. Local management jobs are often difficult and paid relatively little, so there’s often a lot of turnover. I’ve also seen a lot of stores make the mistake of taking their best store employee and then promoting them to management with little to no training. Being a great store employee and being a great manager are actually different skills! And in moments of crisis (like employees being threatened or harassed) is when it really shows.

        3. Phryne*

          I sold coffee at a major train station, sometimes very early or late shifts. At the end of the day we had to walk across the station hall with the day’s takings to deposit them. Our instructions: if someone threatens you, give them everything. All of it. Don’t make eye contact, don’t argue, don’t fight. Give the money.
          The company is insured, your life is irreplaceable.

          1. Caroline+Bowman*

            Which is obviously quite correct as an approach to a mugging, BUT why did they keep putting their employees in such a dangerous position when it was clearly a major weak point?

            1. Phryne*

              There has never been a single incident, so not as dangerous as it sounds. The station hall was a big open well lit space, there was a police post in the station (it being a major station with lots of traffic), and we were not allowed to walk alone. Also, we did generally not leave the kiosk through the door, rather trough the exit of another kiosk so it was not easily apparent we were carrying the day’s takings, and obviously, we had the moneybags in a bag, we were not walking around with them in our hands. (also not in the US, and at this time 20 years ago muggings in general were not common here. Pickpocketing sure, but robbery, especially with violence, was really really rare. The only time I felt unsafe was when a horde of soccer hooligans was know to be on its way. In the end, we were instructed to close all shops, put out the lights and stay out of sight until they had been moved on by police.

              1. KatieP*

                I know you’re no longer employed there – just adding some additional perspective from my experience. Any time I’ve been asked to transport a significant amount of cash for my employer, they’ve provided an armed escort. With a police post nearby, I’d be looking to make arrangements with them if I were managing that location.

                1. Chirpy*

                  ….meanwhile, my first job in high school had me walking the daily deposits to the bank alone. Sure, the bank was just across a busy street almost in view of the store, but I always just had the bank bag totally out in the open…

      1. Education Mike*

        Unless they armed employees, this doesn’t even make logical sense. WTF were they even supposed to do? Yell at the man with the gun?

      2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        Wow, things have changed. I noted above that back in the ’80s, I did graveyard at a convenience store. Corporate policy on robberies was “give them what they want and get them the heck out. Things are replaceable, you are not.”

      3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        That’s when you shoot back – I did protect one of the most important company assets you have … me, your employee! But hey, let’s see if social media agrees with your “valuation” of assets in this case!

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          “shoot back” was a poor phrasing choice! I meant “that is when you respond with …”

      4. Bird Lady*

        Something similar happened to me when I was managing a clothing store. A woman had what was very obviously stolen merchandise wanting a return and threatened me with a gun. While not held to my head, it was waved at my face. So I gave her store credit, got her information and reported it to corporate. I thought they’d be delighted because she used her actual address and ID! Oh wow, was I ever wrong. I was given a final warning and was told I was lucky I wasn’t fired for issuing the store credit for stolen merchandise. Never mind she was on camera with the gun. Never mind our training was to never fight someone in a situation like that and to get her our of the store as fast as possible. To that company my life was completely replaceable and shame on me for not giving my life to it.

    2. OP 2*

      OP 2 here–
      They call the police sometimes for shoplifters once they are out of the store, someone who was obviously trying to commit some kind of credit card fraud, and for an employee that was stealing from the cash registers, so they aren’t opposed to calling the police if it benefits them.

      We take hours of video trainings every month, and one topic that has been completely absent is what to do if you are threatened or attacked by a customer. There was an active shooter video (we’re allowed to run away or hit the shooter with whatever we can find–how generous of management), but no other guidance. I plan to ask Allison’s question about the company policy on threats.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        And all the pundits wonder why people are avoiding these jobs or unionizing their workplaces. Or pretend to because you know they know conditions are awful. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer about policy, maybe look around for a unionized retailer if any exist in your area. You deserve better

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Treating people like crap cannot possibly be a reason why no one wants to work here. Let’s just keep doing what we are doing./s

          smh. Nothing has changed. I left retail for years, I went back briefly just over 10 years ago. All the problems that were there in the 70s were still there in the early 2000s. I guess collectively we are very dense learners.

      2. Wired Wolf*

        We have that workplace-violence training too. I think the video mentions customers in passing, the rest of it is a general “here’s what to do” but doesn’t go into any detail on how to defuse situations with customers. Being trapped behind a register unable to get away when a customer starts yelling is…not fun.

        1. Chirpy*

          Our training video is obviously designed for an office. Sure, I guess I can find some large merchandise to hide behind, but I can’t close doors that don’t exist or don’t lock (bathrooms) in a big, open box…

  3. pcake*

    LW1, my son’s GF went through something similar just before the pandemic at Large National Department Store. I doubt it’s legal, but it was part of their lack of caring for employees in every possible way except for lip service. Probably best to find a job where less furious, threatening customers go. I’d call the police the second it happens regardless. The police would probably like to know about armed angry customer before he goes and shoots someone somewhere.

    LW3 – I’d be concerned that “Nosey Rosey” is using these low-stakes work items as an excuse to go through everyone’s things. I’d be sure management knows, I’d address it with Rosey, and if allowed, I’d lock everything in my office and desk.

    LW5 – I’ve always left my home address off my resumes, and I’m talking about decades. I’ve been stalked by a stranger and also chased by a vengeful ex husband, and it was terrifying. If an address is needed, I use a P.O. box.

    1. John Smith*

      If someone was threatening me like that, I’d be on the phone to the police – policy be damned. As to lip service, my employer keeps telling us they want us to feel valued and safe. Not actually *BE* valued and safe, mind…

      1. Unum Hoc Scio*

        Once upon a time I worked in a popular, local restaurant and bar. After trying to cut off an inebriated customer, she told me that she had a gun and to get me a g*$*@&d drink. So I did, quietly informing the bartender to call the police.

        They got there within 2 minutes, quietly restrained her, took her outside to verify that she did, indeed, have a gun in her purse and arrested her.

        Now this is Canada, we have different gun laws (and hers was reeeeeally illegal), but I truly can’t see how threatening staff/customers is any good for business.

  4. Elm*

    OP 1: I knew someone like your bf. He couldn’t figure out why he never got promoted and was starting to get burned out.

    I told him to, for a while, stop covering anyone’s shifts. Say no to duties that weren’t his. Take the breaks he was owed. He still gave 100% during his work times, but when he was off the clock, that was that. (Okay, he gave 102%, but he’s just too darn nice and helpful.)

    He was no longer “essential” in his department so…he got promoted to a position with more regular hours and less burnout. It sucks, but in a lot of jobs, giving 110% means holding yourself back. (In his case, it also means he now gets to advocate for people who were in positions like his.)

    Unless he’s in an on-call 24/7 position, he has to do this for his own sanity if nothing else.

    1. PotsPansTeapots*

      Yep, a close family member worked as a carer. She was amazing at her job, but also a bit of a doormat. It just meant she was the scapegoat when her grandboss found out about shenanigans with her direct supervisor.

      It’s counterintuitive, but the less committed my family member was to her caring job, the better she was treated.

      1. Luna*

        I think a carer would more have to be committed to ‘the ones to help’ in that job, and not the job itself. Being a carer is someone to help those that require aid that they cannot provide themselves anymore, so I would hope helping them is the main focus. Not the bosses.

        1. Ayla*

          Unfortunately, when you work in caregiving fields your concern for the client/patient/student is essentially used as leverage to get you to accept unreasonable hours, pay, and conditions. It feels heartless to demand more at the expense of those we serve, but.. well, we are people too

          1. Workerbee*

            Your last phrase there is one that needs to be repeated loudly: Carers are people too.
            Not objects, not assets, not automatons.

          2. A Girl Named Fred*

            I work for a firm that provides per diem staffing help for carers and this is one of the things I hate the most about it. We’re constantly told to appeal to the person’s care for the residents in order to get them to pick up more hours or not cancel a shift for any reason but illness or emergency. Guilt them, in other words. And the ones who have the “audacity” to say they’d need more money to pick up more or work an OT shift are internally mocked for being greedy.

            I’m trying so very hard to get out, and I feel horrible for all the healthcare staff we serve.

          3. PersephoneUnderground*

            Obligatory unionization comment here! Jobs like this need unions for everyone’s benefit – the workers need a seat at the table when decisions are made about how care is structured. Burnt out carers aren’t going to be doing their best work either, so the patients benefit too (read: don’t buy any arguments that unionization would hurt the patients).

            I’m especially enthusiastic about this because my own office just finalized our union contract and it’s going really well so far. We all got contract ratification bonuses too.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              Oddly, a lot of nurses have unions, and it hasn’t helped much. (Not sure about all the other tiers of caregivers, and there are many.)

            2. Dinwar*

              Unions aren’t a panacea, though. At least one union I worked for had a BOD with a significant (read 8 out of 10 members) with the BOD for the company; you can imagine how well they defended worker’s rights. In another case the union threatened to call a strike unless the company increased the payment to the union–not the workers, mind you, but the union–and the union BOD had suspiciously voted to raise their own pay at the same time.

              In this case, I’m not sure a union would help. The issue isn’t necessarily that the company expects the worker to do more (they do, obviously, but that’s not the relevant issue). The issue is that THE WORKER expects himself to do more. Until that changes all that will happen is that he’ll feel a bit guilty about breaking union rules and will keep doing it.

              The root cause isn’t exploitative practices. It’s the worker’s willingness to be exploited. Until that changes, administrative controls aren’t going to help.

          4. Office Lobster DJ*

            +1 to all of this, re: caring professions. I do think Alison’s advice is sound, but it’s worth acknowledging why in this case saying no is more of a challenge and comes with its own emotional toll.

          5. N C Kiddle*

            LW1 here, and this is very definitely part of the problem. We were talking about the rail strike once, and the possibility of striking for better conditions, and he said that he “couldn’t do that to the clients”.

        2. bamcheeks*

          No, because when social care is privatised and non-unionised, “caring about the people you are helping” enables bosses to exploit workers and ultimately that is terrible for the people being cared for. People who need care are not served by its being provided by people who have no power or autonomy in their work. The people providing their care need rest, dignity, decent pay and working conditions and the ability to set boundaries on their time and labour, and the structures of privatised care agencies as a whole will not provide that unless employees demand it.

          Some do, of course, but the pressures on care agencies to maximise profit and minimise costs mean that it’s very, very difficult to do this.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          It’s not the carer’s responsibility to manage overall service, but the employer’s. Those of us in the caring professions soon learn that if we fill in any gaps in service with free labour, then the gaps just get bigger and start to multiply. Better to report the gaps and have good boundaries about them being fixed, than to help prop up a broken system. It’s good for you, good for the clients!

        4. learnedthehardway*

          Unfortunately, it becomes equated in peoples’ minds, I think – not just management, but the actual carers. When my Mum was sick and my Dad got COVID, some of the PSWs came on their days off to help out. This was wonderful of them, but their company really should have had the staff to take care of this situation. (I assume that the PSWs picked up extra shifts, not that they worked for nothing – I can’t imagine that would have been allowed.)

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I hope you complained to the company about how they treat their workers! Clients have so much power to push back in this situation. We did when my grandma had a carer. She was live-in and can you believe she was only allowed time off if a member of my living on the opposite side of the country family was present? My dad lost it when he found out and demanded they accommodate her getting at least 72 hours a week off (24 hr shifts so 3 days) and agreed to pay extra. They tried to go back to SOP, but he was on them and in touch with her son (her emergency contact) and had neighbors watching so he knew if they tried to pressure her to lie

        5. Librarian of SHIELD*

          That’s just it. In caring professions, it can become way too easy for bosses to use the vulnerable people being cared for as a lever to guilt and manipulate employees.

          In my job, if I get a call on my day off asking me to come in and I say no, the worst thing that happens is that my library branch can’t open that day and people have to go five miles over to the next nearest location for services. For a caretaker though, the worst that can happen if they don’t get someone to cover a shift is that a vulnerable person is now at risk. And that makes it very easy for bosses to lay on the guilt trip and make carers feel awful about needing time to care for themselves.

      2. Artemesia*

        In every relationship personal or professional, the person who cares least has the most power. So meek women who do 3 jobs with the promise of someday getting a promotion or raise keep on trucking and often men who won’t put up with that get paid what is needed to keep them. Of course it isn’t always gender — but it is one of the main drivers of women being under paid and under valued in the workplace. And the wrinkle is that women who behave more assertively like the men who seem to get the raises and promotions, they may have an offer withdrawn or actually lose their job

    2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I agree. He needs to set boundaries here.

      I also want to note for OP that her boyfriend might be feeling that these requests would only be made if it was absolutely essential, but that’s not necessarily the case. Managers can sometimes be thoughtless and might be overestimating how easy it would be for an employee to decline more hours. It sounds like he always says yes, and management might be assuming that’s because he wants more hours or because he really likes working with certain people — so they’ll default to calling him first, but there could be plenty of other options.

      1. Mongrel*

        A problem that I’ve seen in the Healthcare industry generally is that the front line workers will nearly always say yes, both “for the clients” and “I don’t want to put the burden on my equally overworked colleagues”.

        This then leads to far too many companies being happy to exploit this with crap pay and worse staffing levels and cries of “Think of the patients” if they try to take action.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Yes, and I think it’s really important to note that both things happen– bosses/coordinators with no ill intent call “the person who always says yes” because it’s easiest, because they assume that person will simply say no if they can’t or don’t want to, because they think they are doing that worker a favour, because they know they are reliable, because they know the client likes them and they always do a good job. Bosses/coordinators also deliberately exploit workers and manipulate them into accepting more work than they can cope with because it’s easier and helps them meet their core objectives and win contracts and make more money.

          To some extent, it doesn’t matter which is happening from the employee’s point of view– they can be deliberately acting maliciously, being careless or being truly lovely people who are just trying to manage high levels of demands. It still comes down to your boyfriend having the right and ability to say no.

          1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I deferred to assuming thoughtlessness over ill intent because I think that assumption helps set-up a productive start to boundary setting.

            That said, if it is ill intent and the managers respond poorly to boundary keeping, it’s arguably better for the boyfriend to discover that at a relatively low-stakes time in his life so he can make plans to switch to a better job. If he waits to set boundaries until a time when the stakes are high (like he’s ill or bereaved or won tickets for once in a lifetime concert) it’s going to suck so much more.

      2. katkat*

        “I also want to note for OP that her boyfriend might be feeling that these requests would only be made if it was absolutely essential, but that’s not necessarily the case.”

        This is an excellent point! “They wouldn’t ask, if it wasn’t an emergency”. Im sorry, but yes, yes they would. They are taking the most easy way out, which is to call the most loyal emplyee/s who always say yes.

        Help your boyfriend set and keep their boundaries, OP. That’s the only way to have a life outside of work as a healtcare provider.

        1. katkat*

          Eh, “loyal” is not quite what I mean, but I can’t come up with a better term. Hope you gyus understand my point nevertheless!

        2. LB*

          Exactly, if it happens often, then it isn’t that fluke emergencies keep coming up, it’s that their staff’s endless inconvenience and sacrifice is baked into their logistics budget.

      3. ferrina*

        Yes. Managers who need coverage will know who will push back and who will say yes. It may take a while to reset managers’ expectations, but it’s okay to say no! (and if it’s not okay, GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT). Plenty of managers/companies will take whatever you’re willing to give, and they assume if you’re saying yes, it’s just fine for them to make the ask. Start saying no.

        Also curious- does your BF do this with his family as well? If it’s just the job, getting a new job may be the solution- it can help reset toxic habits that have been created by this job. But if it’s something your BF does regularly (with job, family, friends), watch out. This takes a really big toll on relationships, and you’ll need to be okay with not being his priority. He’ll be taking care of others whose needs seem more urgent/louder rather than taking care of you. If he wants to change this pattern, therapy can help. If he doesn’t see a problem….don’t expect it to change.

      4. Artemesia*

        Of course the boss goes for the easiest mark. Why call Fred who always says no or argues when good old Jim will just step right up, cancel his date or vacation and do the work. Bosses do what is easiest for them; they have not a care in the world for the employee. And the employee who is always available is not thought of as leadership or promotable material but as a useful drudge. Employees will be exploited for the ease of the manager until they say no.

    3. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

      Elm, your friend sounds as if he’d become SO helpful to the company in his former position (voluntarily on call 24/7, never saying “No” to any request, always prioritizing his job over everything else in his life) that they didn’t want to lose him in that role; who else COULD they get who’d do what he did? AAM has addressed that situation more than once – it’s not uncommon (unfortunately!)

    4. Nethwen*

      #1: The way the carer’s employer is treating them seems normal for this type of agency, at least in my experience in the US. Barring an unusually petty employer, he’ll still have his job if he says “no” to these requests and the employer will find someone else to provide care for the client. I don’t know that there’s much you can do specifically to help your boyfriend beyond all the helpful things family and friends do when someone’s judgement is clouded by exhaustion and burnout.

      1. Splendid Colors*

        If the employer DOES fire him for turning down OT requests, then the employer’s clearly taking on the responsibility of arranging care for his clients. There’s such a shortage of caregivers that he won’t have difficulty finding a new job (and maybe starting out with better boundaries so he won’t be labeled “the guy who always says Yes”).

    5. Hannah Lee*

      That’s really good advice.

      My first gut reaction reading OP1’s letter was that Boyfriend’s employer isn’t the one ruining plans. It’s actually BF ruining the plans made with OP, by saying yes to the employer requests. There are a hundred “reasons” why BF might feel he has to say yes, but it’s still his responsibility to manage the extent to which he allows his employer’s needs and wants to overrun the rest of his life.

      Granted, the employer shouldn’t be asking so much of any one employee, but the staffing issues in caring are really intense right now, likely because social services, support services are so woefully funded and pay rates are horrible. And for both the agency that supplies services and the carers doing the work, I can completely understand the drive to do as much as you can to meet client needs. But it’s in nobody’s best interest for employees to burn out in these roles.

      But yeah, BF needs to be the one to change behavior here, because the clients’ needs will never end, and the agency’s attempts to meet those needs will never end, and he’s only one human being.

    6. LB*

      Yes it seems a lot like he may just not have realized he can (and should!) say no to these things. Even if they’re not phrased as a request, his time out of his own shifts is his own, and he shouldn’t make it available to his employer’s problems.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Yep. It turns out that giving giving giving is a way to get trapped: in that you’re so reliable they don’t want to bother training anyone else, or seeing if the division of tasks is equitable.

    8. Momma Bear*

      Agreed that if he’s not contractually obligated to work every shift, stop taking all of them. I’m not saying he shouldn’t sometimes take that extra shift, or that they might not grouse about it, but he’s not obligated to drop his life for this job. There may even be info in the handbook about how much notice they are required to give him. Many companies will run an employee into the ground if they think they can get away with it.

    1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think it depends a bit on what the company’s alternatives are if OP says no. Do they have other people they can call in or would it leave them with too small a ratio of carers to clients and no one else can cover?

      If it is truly necessary for OP specifically to be there, I think the reason for the “appointment” does make a difference. The service user’s needs probably outweighs something like date night or grocery shopping for example.

      Yes, OP could get another job and that might be a good approach. But right now their responsibility is to this one.

      1. Bugalugs*

        The problem with this is that his willingness to do this has been abused and now they just expect it. As Allison has said before it’s not his problem to solve. He can work extra when he wants to but he can’t sacrifice his own sanity and relationships for a company or other people all the time. Just because he’s a carer doesn’t make it any different then being an accountant. The unfortunate results is one of the clients but be put in a tough situation but we as humans can only do so much before we break.

    1. SpittingFactz*

      Then all you do is your like oops :( so sorry did not get your phone call the next day
      It’s not lying technically you didn’t get it cuz you couldn’t be assed to pick it up <3

      1. Lenora Rose*

        I’m not sure “I am setting boundaries for myself and actually getting some rest and time off” should be described as “couldn’t be assed”, even in fun.

  5. Lab Lady*

    OP #5: I may have copied a bad example resume as as a teenager, but I have never included my street address on my resume – this is starting back in the late 90’s.

    Initially I included a phone number that I could be reached at, and by the early 2000’s I was including an e-mail as well.

    Admittedly, the academic track has diverted my resume to a CV for the last 8 years or so, and there is no need for a home address there for sure — but even in the late 90’s/early 00’s I was getting (low wage) jobs with a resume that didn’t have a home address on it.

    1. BethDH*

      Same. I think I had my address on my very first resume but I applied for plenty of entry level roles (and got employed) that I can’t imagine it mattering.

    2. nm*

      I am relatively new to the workforce, but I also have never included a street/postal address on my resume and nobody has ever said anything about it.

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      I stopped putting my address on my resume in the early 2000s, maybe earlier. It had, after all, my preferred contact methods – telephone number and email. I just use the city and state.

      No one has complained.

    4. Momma Bear*

      IMO, keep it off. That way they also can’t easily dismiss you if THEY think you live too far, or in the “wrong” area or whatever their biases might be. Most resumes I see don’t have it. Phone number and email is fine.

    5. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t include my home address on my (resume) CV because too often managers print out CVs and then just throw them in the bin if they aren’t going to take that applicant forward. I don’t really like the idea of my address along with approximate age, details of my degrees, etc being discarded for anyone to find. That would make it a bit too easy for an identity scammer to contact the university, say they need a duplicate transcript but they’ve moved address since the one the university has on record, etc…

      I think this comes under “information handling hygiene”.

  6. PotsPansTeapots*

    #5- It’s increasingly common to leave a street address of your resume. I don’t have an address on mine, just city and state. Given the stigma a lot of people attach to transitional housing, it seems wise.

    1. Swift*

      Recruiters want to know how to contact you (phone/email) and whether you are near enough to interview quickly or need to fly you in (town/city). A street address doesn’t assist with either.

    2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Adding to this. I don’t include my home address on my resume, just my city. It’s never been raised as an issue (maybe ppl are thinking it privately, IDK).

    3. Cranky lady*

      I started leaving my address and city/ state off a few years ago when I realized the only thing it would do was make people wonder if the commute was too long. (I live in an area with notorious traffic.) A family member talked about being hired for a federal government job in the 60s and everything was done by mail. I think we are a long way from that.

    4. Gnome*

      OP5, I have seen one resume with an address on it… and it was someone who asked me to review their resume. the first comment was to take the address off. I have literally never gotten a resume with an address on it, just city/state.

    5. liisa*

      yeah, and i dunno, maybe i’m just extra cautious, but having my actual home address on my resume feels like a big privacy concern. as someone who has had their resume turn up in the hands of third party recruiters i never gave it to, i’m well aware of how far that document can spread these days without my knowledge. and so yeah, complete strangers don’t need to know my home address, actually

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I used to be essential because companies actually communicated by mail with applicants. Before email and fax (which wasn’t really a home/personal tool), a written offer needed to come via mail or hand delivered.

        No one commuicates by mail anymore so it isn’t needed. While the use of mail dropped off to zero, privacy concerns have grown to be a much larger concern than they used to be.

      2. English Rose*

        Yes @Liisa, that’s what I was coming here to say. Privacy concern. When filling out an application form you’re often funnelled into providing a street address (even then, PO Box maybe), but a resume goes far wider than an application to an individual organisation and I always advise leaving street address off.
        For similar privacy reasons, candidates should think about having an email address and phone number (google number or cheap phone) used only for job hunting.

    6. The Original K.*

      Yep, city, state, phone and email. I don’t put my street address on because a) it’s not really useful; prospective employers aren’t mailing you anything, and b) it’s a privacy concern for me, as liisa points out.

    7. Junior Assistant Peon*

      As someone who’s been on the hiring manager end, we don’t have time to go checking out your house on Google Maps.

  7. it's-a-me*

    Not saying I recommend this as an option, but what if someone loses, or *thinks* they lost, something of value. Say a $100 note. And Nosey Rosey was seen rifling through their drawers an hour ago?

    1. Loulou*

      framing a coworker for theft would be a really awful thing to do, so I hope it doesn’t happen??? why even bring this up?

      1. tessa*

        How is “…loses, or thinks they lost…” framing someone for theft?

        Rifling through someone’s things without permission is what sets up someone to potentially be accused or suspected of theft.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Well starting the comment as “not saying I recommend this as an option” means they were presenting it not as something that might happen, but more as something one could choose to pretend had happened.

      2. it's-a-me*

        As I said, I would *not* recommend someone deliberately doing it, but it could easily happen. Someone forgets they broke that hundred this morning buying candy, or they actually dropped it outside, and Nosey looks extremely suspicious.

        Hopeful they find the note or remember they broke it before it gets to the point of official reports.

        But someone malicious could do it on purpose, or even just to ‘teach her a lesson’ and ‘find’ the note under the drawers after she’s scared. I don’t think it’s a good idea, no.

        1. it's-a-me*

          Oh, and there’s also the possibility of real theft and the thief frames Nosey, too, if someone were opportunistic.

          It’s one of the reasons why if I need to access someone else’s desk or computer I announce it to those nearby and ask them to watch me only take what I need.

      3. KateM*

        Of course we all hope that it doesn’t happen, but it would be a good idea to bring it up with the Nosey Rosey, who maybe hasn’t thought that if a theft would happen, she’d be the first person to be suspected.

      4. Antilles*

        I would think it’s less “intentionally framing” someone and more about crappy human memories – someone thinks they left something in their desk and “hey Rosey was going through your desk drawers a couple days ago” even if the reality is that it fell between the seats of your car or you moved it and totally forgot you did so or etc.

    2. Swift*

      Yeah… Rosey needs to be aware of the perception people get from such behaviour. Rosey goes through other people’s stuff, something is missing, ergo Rosey is a prime suspect. Perception and truth aren’t the same but it’s a leap often taken.

    3. Phryne*

      Why on earth would you leave that kind of cash lying around?
      I don’t see the issue with Rosey except for the bosses bag (and even then it depends. A coworker once accused me of being nosey when I made a remark about the giant bag of weed that was lying on top in her wide open bag standing unattended in the break room in direct line of the door… It was literally impossible not to see).
      Getting a reference sheet off a tray or a key to a closet that apparently she has a right to access seems a very normal thing to do. Maybe because we have been flexworking for years now, and I work in a semi-public educational building, but I can not think of any reason to leave private stuff lying around, or even having them at work at all. And these were all work related items anyway.

      1. tessa*

        Please re-read the OP’s letter. Nosy Rosie is opening desk drawers and going through things. She is putting her hands inside someone’s bag.

        To say that it’s perfectly reasonable to do those things is…odd.

        1. Phryne*

          If those things are work papers, no its not, and the title literally states ‘for work’. (with exception of the bag, which I already mentioned). If it is confidential, don’t have it in a place people can see it, that is sloppiness on your part. If it is just stuff, like a reference list, it should not be a big deal. Why would you be possessive over a reference page? The only thing I can compare this to is the coworker who would get all hissy when someone used ‘her’ stapler. (it was an office-supplied stapler)

          1. Starbuck*

            LW didn’t say how diligent Rosy is about putting things back exactly where she found them, that would be an issue if someone was moving my stuff around and I couldn’t find it the next time I needed it.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I think she’s crossed the line going into someone’s locked cabinet and into someone’s presumably closed lunchbox. What if I had a food allergy and someone ate that food for their lunch and then touched my bag? Or medication? Or private health or financial information in a closed drawer? It is one thing to get a file you need (though she should ask). It is another to just help herself as if it’s all hers. The key thing – was there a protocol she should have followed and didn’t? Did OP get the key back timely? I have a key to a cabinet in my office but I don’t hand it out to whoever. There’s a reason it’s locked. That’s probably an angle OP can bring to the boss – the ways this impedes other people from doing their jobs. If Rosey needs access to things, she should ask for it. Not just take and assume. I’m working on a file now and if someone walked off with my notes, it would make this task hard.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        People rarely keep money loose in their desk (Maybe quarters for the coffee service?) but they do keep meds, menstrual products, tooth care, jewellery, snacks, their personal favourite tea, and the example above of a boss’s favourite mug … I can think of several people here who have work files in one drawer and a purse in another. It’s not even things people might necessarily take, but things you don’t want your coworkers necessarily sifting through, touching, or even knowing are there. I mean, most folks who still menstruate are happy to hand another person a pad or tampon in emergency need, but not to have that person open their desk drawer to find one.

        I have a key in my desk that several other people need to access. They do one of three things: ask me to get it, tell me they’re getting it and got for the drawer themselves, or note to one of the other two people on nearby desks who know its location that they need it. They’re even free to grab it, I don’t feel concerned or threatened by that, even if they did it in my absence. I would still feel weirded out if I found someone opening drawers at my desk, even on the “work side”, looking at what’s inside.

        1. Phryne*

          Fundamental differences in attitude towards the workplace I guess.
          We have flex desks, so no ‘my desk’, or any drawers at all, but even back when we still had those I did not consider anything about my desk or drawers as somehow mine or private or off limits. It is a workplace. If someone needed a pencil we would just look for one. I cannot imagine being upset someone sees my tampons or tea or floss, and jewellery and medication have no business being in an office drawer as far as I’m concerned.
          We do have lockers, and these are only accessible with ones employee pass. That is private and no one has the possibility of accessing it. If your workplace does not have such facilities and/or has the policy that drawers are off-limits to others, they should lock, keys only in possession of the owner, and work stuff that might be needed by others should not be in it but in an accessible place. If you mix up private stuff and work stuff you cannot then complain that people in their search for work stuff come across your personal items.

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            “Jewelry and medication have no business being in an office drawer as far as I’m concerned”

            So people like me who need to take medication throughout the day should do what, exactly? And I work in a job that requires me to pull materials in a warehouse. I don’t wear my rings when I do (for obvious reasons). What do you suggest I do with them? And as for things like floss or tea or tampons, if I paid for them with my money, then they are my property and coworkers should absolutely ask before taking one.

            1. Meep*

              Yeah, I feel like seeing how Phryne* is jumping through hoops, doing mental gymnastics, and insulting anyone that doesn’t agree with them how they are probably a Nosey Rosey themselves.

            2. Shrug*

              Keep it in actually private areas, like a locker or a purse. That’s what I do with my meds and tampons. That’s what most people do. If your work doesn’t allow you access to private storage, raise that with your manage r

          2. Meep*

            I have my own office that I comfortably decorated but am not particular about people riffling through my things. I even made it known if I am not there, you can go sit in and use my standing desk. With that said, I understand that people have specific needs and eek gasp! disabilities exist! And there might be a need to keep medication and even food on hand. I suppose I have compassion though~

          3. Momma Bear*

            But you do have private spaces for things. For many of us, our desks, cabinets, etc. are just like your locker. They are the only spaces we have to store things of our own. Or even if it’s a purse or a lunchbox – that’s yours and even 5 yr old children know not to rifle through someone else’s stuff. That coffee cup thing was out of line.

            Or even just inventory. I have different inventories for different things. I have to account for everything with Purchasing. If I have to re-order because someone helped themselves, that’s a problem. A pen is just a pen until it’s the color you need to do something specific.

          4. TheSockMonkey*

            So you just take pencils from other desks? They belong to someone. I wouldn’t touch things that aren’t clearly yours. Or is it understood that everything in the desk is shared and belongs to no one?

          5. Kal*

            If you want to get why people are having such strong reactions, imagine if your employer decided to take all of the locks away from lockers and people felt free to go into there and look for a random pen in your stuff in there. I mean, you brought those items to the workplace, you’ve now mixed your private stuff up with work stuff by having your stuff there, so you can’t complain about someone just helping themselves to anything in your locker, right? It sounds like you would disagree.

            So if a locker is the only place where someone is allowed to have personal items, and most jobs do not provide lockers, where are people supposed to keep personal items? Just never bring them, go without their vital medications or menstrual products or anything else through the day? Wear a big backpack at all times to keep it on their person at all times like a uni student? Need to go to the bathroom for a minute – just spend 5 minutes or more packing up all of your things because leaving anything behind means anyone else is free to take it? Or does it start to make sense that maybe people might leave personal things in their desk and trust that their coworkers aren’t going to go in there without good reason?

        2. Happy*

          I don’t know that it’s true that people rarely keep money in their desks. Most people probably don’t but I wouldn’t be surprised if something like 10-25% do.

          I’ve always kept money a good bit of money in my desk so that it would be handy if someone came by asking for donations for a gift or fundraiser. I known plenty of people at different workplaces who kept money in their desks to cover snacks or lunches.

          1. Happy*

            And if you include people sticking their purse in a desk drawer, I could see that covering a lot of additional people.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              I had money stolen out of my purse in my desk at a temp job back in the 1980s. When I reported it to my supervisor, she told me it was my fault for not carrying my purse to the copy room or whatever.

      3. Dona Florinda*

        Like Alison said, maybe that are confidential things that nosy employee shouldn’t have access to, and clearly she is going out of her way to get what she needs.

        Where I work, if something goes missing from the storage room and it turns out that my key card was used for it, I could be fired over it. Sure OP’s work is different, but the same principle applies.

      4. My+Useless+2+Cents*

        While the bosses lunch bag is beyond comprehension bad (personal items are personal, period), I think the key incident is something to bring up to management.

        First, Rosey did not have access to the key, the key was in OP’s desk which Rosey took it upon herself take. Second, Rosey was not given permission to hand out keys from the locked cabinet, the OP was. With that permission came the responsibility which is all on OP, not Rosey, if something were to happen or a key were to go missing.

        I would be moving where I kept the keys if I were OP, and I would be making management aware in case something similar occurs in the future and the outcome is not so benign.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. If the key control is something she should be involved with, then it can be an official duty. If not, she (and everyone else) needs to leave the keys alone.

      5. Esmeralda*

        Right now I have over $100 in my bag.

        If Nosey Rosey regularly goes in people’s offices and opens up their desks — sounds like she’s opening a locked cabinet — then yeah, if my $$ is gone and Rosey is known to go into people’s offices/desks/locked cabinets, I’m going to be suspicious.

        I won’t immediately accuse her, of course, but she’s on my list of “likely reasons that money is gone”

      6. Too Many Tabs Open*

        Why on earth would you leave that kind of cash lying around?

        Ah, one of the instigating events of The Great Nutrax Row in Sayers’ Murder Must Advertise.

    4. LB*

      And for lockable desk drawers, the key should stay with you (pocket or purse), not somewhere anyone can just go grab it – otherwise, what’s the point of the lock!

    5. OP #3*

      Honestly, I’m half waiting for that to happen. But our building has security cameras throughout, so it’s unlikely she (or whoever set her up) would get away with it.

      1. Nancy*

        Talk to her, say you want her to ask permission before going into your desk, move everything she may need into one drawer if possible and tell her which one it is.

  8. talos*

    #5 – I don’t even have city/state on mine (although I do enter it in online applications, have it on my LinkedIn, and generally mention it in interviews as a small piece of my “tell me about yourself” answer) and that’s never seemed to hurt me. Granted I’m a software developer, which has a whole bunch of slightly-weird resume conventions, but this has never been an issue for me.

  9. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    Ugh. I worked for a small operation where I had my life threatened one afternoon by someone on the phone. He called up, described what I was wearing and what I looked like, and horrible story and scenario the rest. He threatened my life and I hung up and ran to the back and told the manager. Turns out there was a pay phone across the way (yes it was back then)… and that’s how he could see me in the window. I told the manager/owner and she Pooh-pooh’d me and the tears I was crying and the story I told. “It’s just a prank call,” she said, “I don’t want you upsetting the other customers now take a deep breath and get back to the register.” I then followed that with, “What register,” and grabbed my purse. She was annoyed, angry, and completely dismissive. Place was broken in to that night. Later I find out that she fired three employees the week before, one of whom ran off with payroll. They wanted her ruined in the worst way and doing this was their way of running off her new hires, so, she was. That was 30 years ago and I still shake.

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I hope the caller and the person who ran off with payroll, if they were not the same person, got arrested and charged. Your response was perfect, and I’m glad you’re safe.

    2. Luna*

      Pranks are overall pretty bad. Especially at work. Done by coworkers is pretty bad. Done by customers/guests/strangers, even worse. Especially since it feels so many people have forgotten that pranks aren’t supposed to be terrifying or cause harm to someone.

      Changing a monitor background to a screenshot of Facebook or changing the keyboard from its regular setting to something like DORVAK keyboard, those are okay. It’s not too harmful, easily fixable, and overall not ‘too mean’.

      Spitting into someone’s food, threatening violence like in your case, or calling while pretending to be CPS (Yes, I remember that story) are not ‘pranks’. That is disgusting, that is horrible, and they are all illegal, in different ways.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, dismissing this call as “just” a prank is awful. I do believe that’s called gaslighting, what the manager did. Also your manager was an idiot for thinking that it was “just” a prank, since it obviously wasn’t. I’m sorry the place got broken into but if she’d been smart she would have realized it was an actual threat and maybe prevented the break-in, and if she were a decent human being she would have given you the rest of the day off or called the police right then. Good for you, Mrs. Hawiggins, for your perfect response to manager’s terrible one. I’m sorry this happened to you.

      2. Jaydee*

        The Venn diagram for “pranks” and “threats of violence or physical harm” is two non-overlapping circles.

    3. EPLawyer*

      absolutely perfect response. What register and got the hell out of there.

      If managers will not take employee safety seriously, you do not owe them the courtesy of 2 weeks notice.

      1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

        Thanks all. I was young and still living at home at the time and my parents were absolutely livid. Had to stop my dad from going up there to give her a verbal ‘what-fer.’ That job was one of the biggest hoodwinks of my life. That owner did go out of business, probably because she couldn’t get anybody to work for her. The place had several job ads for my position for quite a while after that.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Oddly, the “I dismiss actual death threats to my employees” not being the lure towards employment they think it is STILL has not sunk in at far too many companies.

  10. Siege*

    OP 1, when I met my partner he worked long hours at a hospital, never said no, and always took the on-call shifts so his coworkers could have more stable lives. Getting fired from there was the best thing that happened – it probably allowed us to actually have a relationship – but ultimately the solution has been therapy. So step one is get out, but at least for my partner his next two jobs didn’t have the same crazy hours but they were vastly problematic in other ways and he didn’t set boundaries. Your partner’s situation may be different but a lot of caters have very giving, fixing personalities, so it may not be as simple as “get new job”. That is step one, though!

    1. Kim*

      Yes, I wanted to comment in this vein too. This is not a relationship site, but this type of behaviour (always prioritizing others over your partner) might lead to the end of your relationship.

    2. High Score!*

      Yeah, it’s not just carers, some people tend to think their jobs are the most important thing or they’re fearful that they’ll lose their jobs if they don’t give it every second. It’s frustrating to deal with that personality type. In job where you don’t want to over extend your people, like there are coworkers that I have that I’m reluctant to ask, “Can you do thing x for project y?” bc they’ll always say yes whether or not they have time in their work day

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I feel like people in service jobs are disproportionately self-sacrificing. You take a job caring for people because it’s important and you’re willing to give your time and energy to the people who need it. There’s a lot to admire about that mindset, but it does also set people up to be overworked and exploited in their workplaces, and in a lot of cases they do it willingly because to them it feels natural and good to sacrifice the things they want to fulfill other people’s needs. It takes a major shift in a person’s worldview to get out of a mindset like that and realize that you don’t always have to be the one who makes the sacrifice, and that things like rest and time with loved ones are needs rather than wants. I second the recommendation for therapy, because this pattern of thought needs to be broken.

      1. Philosophia*

        Therapy is hardly a necessity for breaking a pattern of thought. It is entirely possible to accomplish with a little help from our friends.

        1. TheSockMonkey*

          It depends on how helpful the friends are, and where the pattern came from. If the friends actually challenge you, then maybe. But in general, there are plenty of reasons to have someone who is trained to help you work through issues actually help you work through them.

          A professional can also diagnose you and direct you to treatment for things like anxiety, depression, PTSD and other things that might complicate your view of the situation.

    4. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      As much as OP1 would like to help boyfriend, the boyfriend has to actually want help and is responsible for setting appropriate boundaries around work. I’ve known a lot of people who complain constantly of being overworked but do nothing to change their situation and have a million excuses for why they have to do X, Y & Z. You could counter each of those excuses and they would just make up more.

  11. Local_Resident*

    I’d suggest putting city and state only on a CV is a good idea just for general privacy and security reasons. Many people have their CVs on LinkedIn or otherwise online, or their CVs get shared by recruiters and employers, and many people won’t want just anyone to be able to look up their place of residence for privacy reasons, concerns about identity theft and so on.

  12. Jason*

    My company is recruiting hard right now, I’ve had more than a dozen resumes cross my desk in the last two months, and only one had a street address. That’s fine, my interest in their city is limited to if they’re in commuting range and when they can start if they need to relocate.

    My resume lists my PO box, I expect to strip that the next time I’m on the market.

    1. I don't care about street addresses*

      Fully agree with Jason.

      I’m a hiring manager. We don’t even mail employment contracts anymore.

      I don’t need to know someone’s address until we induct them, and that’s just for emergency use.

      1. KRM*

        My last job search and acceptance was all online, with a few phone calls. I didn’t have to give out my address until they were onboarding, and it was mainly for “we have to mail you your insurance cards and also your first paycheck”. Otherwise it doesn’t matter, so leaving it off is 100% fine.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        We do mail out contracts, but literally nobody but HR needs to get a home address, and they definitely don’t need it on the resume. (I think the computer system might ask for one, but again, nobody sees it but HR)

  13. Luna*

    LW1 – Your boyfriend needs to learn to say no and stick with it.

    LW2 – “I have been threatened with violence, and you are violating the agreement that you are providing a *safe* working environment. Call the police yourself or I will do it, and you will have a horrible PR and HR problem coming your way.”

    But I will admit, I think this extreme case of customers *seems* to be more prone to occur in America, from what I have seen and read about. I know you have the “the customer is always right” idea, and Germany has something similar with “the customer is king”, but the way American stores and businesses seem to shove employees under buses driven by the customers, it seems to be very much an American problem. I think if it stopped, bad customers were called out on their bad behavior a lot more, and would get consequences for their actions (including verbal ones because verbal threats of violence *are* a legal thing), it would lessen a lot.

    LW5 – I was taught to put your address onto your CV/resume simply because it’s a contact detail, like your phone number or email address. Leaving it off would be weird, in my opinion.

    1. Myrin*

      Re: #5, it would definitely be weird in Germany and is not something I’ve ever encountered or even heard of before (IRL, I mean; I’ve heard about it plenty on AAM), but so is a lot of stuff on here. I assume OP asks from an American’s perspective and Alison definitely answers from one, so I don’t think other country’s customs are directly relevant here.

    2. bamcheeks*

      >> the way American stores and businesses seem to shove employees under buses driven by the customers, it seems to be very much an American problem

      I don’t think it’s about an attitude to customers so much as an attitude to workers. If you have worker protections and a social safety net, then people simply will not stay in jobs where their health and safety are treated with complete disregard. Take those things away and people have no choice but to endure abusive situations.

      1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        This is a good point, and fwiw, as an American I appreciate when people make points like this. I don’t think it’s a good idea for Americans to keep our heads in the metaphorical sand and keep repeating “America’s #1! America’s #!”

        1. Love*

          The “America #1” attitude is certainly something that happens a lot in the US, but I don’t remember every seeing that attitude from commenters here. The vast majority of Americans who comment here are people who fully recognize the problems with the US and want to change them. We talk about that all the time! That’s what makes the condescending comments from Europeans even more annoying. They are not telling us anything that we don’t already know.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            To be fair, at least on this forum, I do not think it is usually meant to be condescending. I think it is more that when Europeans and Canadians and Australians, etc., read some of the things we describe, they just find it appalling and unfathomable that our system is as jacked up as it is. Of course, I also think a huge part of our problem is the fact that we only have two controlling political parties, both hellbent on obstructing the other at all costs.

            1. Dragon_Dreamer*

              I think it is a case where white Americans get to see what its like to deal with someone with more privledge than they have.

              Those with privledge find it hard to understand why other people don’t have the same advantages.

              1. Bindy*

                I’m not sure I understand… Are you trying to say that Americans are just jealous of Europeans? I don’t think that’s the case. You don’t have to be jealous to be annoyed by condescension. I also disagree with the idea that Europeans are more privileged than white Americans. On average, white Americans earn more money, have a lower cost of living, and have more economic opportunities than Europeans.

    3. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Is there a reason you point out that America is facing a problem you don’t see in Germany?

      I don’t mean this in a salty way, but it gets tiring reading variations of this comment over and over again, and the cultural differences don’t seem to contexualise your advice in an actionable way.

      Also, FWIW, OP is asking about how to navigate this culture at large. She herself hasn’t been threatened and has no reason to call the police.

      1. Cat Tree*

        I agree. LW can’t just pick up and move to Germany. The US has plenty of problems that we’re well aware of. But you know what doesn’t fix any of those problems? People from other countries constantly telling us how bad things are here.

        1. bamcheeks*

          This is the nature of the internet, though! All the conversations you have here are globally accessible, and any community with a big enough base picks up people from outside the core community who aren’t familiar with the same conventions. I think all the regular commenters from outside the US are used to the fact that Alison doesn’t want endless repetitions of “oh wow, you don’t have maternity leave??!!” but I think you have to get used to the fact that in a globally accessible space it is not possible to stop people from elsewhere in the world being surprised by conventions they are encountering for the first time.

          1. Siege*

            For me, it’s not that they’re surprised, it’s that they think we’re idiots who need to be told how terrible things are in America. If only we JUST KNEW, is the implication, we would immediately launch into a revolution. There couldn’t possibly be deeper factors at play, or issues that are not visible to people outside the country. We’re just dumb yokels who love the status quo because we don’t know better!

            1. bamcheeks*

              It mostly isn’t– it’s just genuinely surprise and curiosity that something that someone assumed was universal to “developed” countries (or however they frame the commonalities between their country and the US) is not. It is not some specific animus against the US or its citizens– although yeah, sometimes there is some general cultural resentment of the dominance of US online spaces– but mostly it’s just the very ordinary amazement that everyone experiences when they discover that something they had unconsciously assumed was universal is not. And the equally ordinary (if annoying!) assumption that your discovery of this novelty will be as interesting and novel to other people as it is to you.

              And I promise you, exactly the same thing happens on every European / Irish / British internet space I’ve been a member of– this is not a world vs US thing at all.

              1. Bindy*

                The thing is, a lot of the comments I read here are pretty obviously intended to be condescending to Americans and just using “surprise and curiosity” to mask that. It’s especially obvious when those comments come from people who have been reading and commenting here for years, but still feel the need to tell us how *baffled* they are that our country is different than theirs.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  Speaking as a non-American, I don’t read them that way at all! I’m not going to claim I’ve read every single one but that’s certainly not the pattern I see.

                2. EPLawyer*

                  YEP YEP YEP.

                  Also every non-american going “I just don’t see it” how about you go with our lived experience. Of COURSE non-Americans don’t seen the condescenscion, its not directed at you.

                  Even if the “intent” is just surprise and curiousity, how it is being received is more moralizing about how America does everything wrong. You don’t get to cover it over with “but I meant well.”

                3. bamcheeks*

                  The power of “lived experience” framework comes from talking about marginalisation and unequal power dynamics. I strongly reject that in the context of Americans being “condescended to” by non-Americans.

                4. Sylvan*

                  Bamcheeks, is this going to help the letter writer?

                  Btw, there is an uncomfortable class dynamic between many Europeans and many Americans. It’s bizarre that people who live in safe places with unfettered access to education and healthcare think they’re marginalized.

                5. PersephoneUnderground*

                  I’m an American and I personally don’t see condescension in those comments most of the time. They’re somewhat useful for a different perspective, and because we technically don’t know all readers or writers are in the US it can be useful to read the errata of “if this is another country, the answer changes this way”. I actually find it hopeful that other countries have successfully solved some of these issues, because it means it’s possible for the US to solve them too, even if it’s hard for all sorts of existing reasons. Obviously we don’t want huge derails, but I really don’t think it’s rude for someone to post one comment about how different this is between cultures or countries.

                6. Plucky Duck*

                  I am not American, but I have noticed the pattern you’re talking about. I have also noticed a lot of Americans pointing out this pattern and I can understand why they find it annoying. I also find it annoying that so many other Europeans talk about the Americans as if they just haven’t figured out how to be a country yet rather than acknowledging that it’s a very different country with a different history and context.

                  Also, I feel like its pretty well known in Europe that the US is not worker-friendly and doesn’t have as many social protections as most European countries, so I find it hard to believe that so many people are genuinely surprised when they read about it here.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              I don’t think it is as adversarial as you are reading it. As bamcheeks said, there are some things one takes for granted until one sees a different system implemented. Seeing different systems can help think about the advantages/drawbacks of both. Like when you’re a child and you stay over at a friend’s house and see them load the dishwasher, and it suddenly occurs to you that there is more than one way to do it (and that people have rigid ideas about the best way).

              It’s not all “US = bad”, either. For example, I have mentioned the hopelessly outdated practices of German C.V.s and of state-organized tithing in this very comment section before, and I could expound *at length* on the various drawbacks of the French and German health insurance systems if anyone’s interested. It’s definitely not all roses over here. And I can only speak about the drawbacks of those health insurance systems because I’ve seen both: before, I didn’t question how it worked.

              As a non-US resident, I don’t think I have to shut up and not share my experiences. For one, I know there are at least three other regulars from Germany here (Hi!), and probably more lurkers, who could find it useful. For another, an outside point of view can be valuable. I do consider carefully before sending if I think my contribution will be useful and don’t just bash. If you take any mention of how it is different elsewhere as bashing, maybe examine your own hangups about your country.

              1. Plucky Duck*

                Who is telling you to shut up and not share my experiences? I don’t see that in this thread. I think the annoyance is more about the tone and attitude people use to talk about the differences, not that people are bringing it up.

          2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            Can I challenge your argument here? Because it’s also the nature of the internet that people try to sell you stuff/bots populate a comment section/trolls post inflaming content. Lots of things are unavoidable in certain environments but we may still sometimes want to respond to them.

            Also, I think if the original comment had expressed surprise and curiosity there might be different responses, because then the cultural distinction would be relevant. But the commentor indicates that she has already seen and read about the phenomenon she’s describing.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Same here — from a European herself.

        It may be well meant, but it always comes across as snooty and patronising, and ignores any social problems that European countries actually have.

    4. Sylvan*

      LW2: I think threatening to call the police gives your employer an opportunity to talk you out of it or retaliate. You might want to just call the police and tell your employer afterward.

    5. A Rusted Fence*

      ” I was taught to put your address onto your CV/resume simply because it’s a contact detail,”

      Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and employers used postal mail to contact potential employees this was a good idea.

      Today it’s not.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Alison says she gets a third of resumes without street addresses – I’d say 90% of the resumes I get only have city and state on them. And 5% have no location details at all.

        I agree it’s outdated.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, the amount of kowtowing to absolute thieves and hustlers, not even getting into the abusive drunk flashers, that goes on in food delivery is ridiculous. How can we possibly be losing money if we cut off the jerk who has figured out that eating half his pie, calling to complain about nonexistent problems and making the CSR who answers the phone cry results in replacement food or gift certificates over and over again?

  14. AmericanExpat*

    LW1 – if I were him, I’d reset the boundaries to the actual working hours / times agreed in the work contract, and start looking for a new job. I mean, my brother worked in the ER and when he was not working or on call, he was fully off. He only had to be flexible at surge times like holidays or the super bowl. There is no reason someone needs to be on 24/7, not if the company is staffed appropriately. FWIW, I left my last job because I couldn’t disentangle work from personal life and while I wasn’t doing direct patient care, I was at a non-profit trying to end the pandemic and felt a lot of guilt for not working non-stop. Most of my colleagues ended up with burnout.

    LW2 – this is super sad. Assume there is no union? I would definitely ask boss what is protocol for such situations. Also would ask HR for the safety manual. If you have an EAP or anything like that, you might want to consult a lawyer. However, I personally find that when a company brags about doing or having something, they are generally covering up the fact that they don’t actually have that thing, just the trappings.

    LW3 – I think setting your own boundaries is the full extent of what you do. I’m sure others have observed this behaviour as well. It’s not your job to arbitrate it, and I’d only go to HR or higher ups if she continues to transgress your own boundaries. Any more involvement and then you feel like the nosey one…

    LW4 – I find this is typical with new remote hires. Do you have regular team meetings? That’s usually when people are introduced I find. As for training, I’ve never had to do that with a new hire unless I was handing over some of my work. But, there’s nothing stopping you from reaching out for a general 1:1 and introduction, just as a friendly colleague

    LW5 – honestly these days the only resumes /CVs I see with addresses on them are for entry level or intern type roles, and there I assume it is because they are following the standard template. My CV has only city, country and an email. Don’t even have a phone number.

    1. OP #3*

      Thanks for the advice! I wrote in when I was still really rattled about the whole thing but I knew I probably wasn’t thinking quite straight. For now I’m just keeping my eyes open and my keys in my pocket.

  15. WS*

    LW 1: People in “caring professions” have this happen to them a lot, because the bosses prey on their consciences and will say things like “Oh, I guess then Old Mr X will just die with nobody to give him his medication that morning.” They may also threaten his regular shifts, but this is a fake threat at the moment because they don’t have enough staff to do that. They will make it hard for your boyfriend to stick to his boundaries but if he doesn’t they will keep on pushing them until he burns out.

    1. GreenDoor*

      LW 1, Your boyfriend needs to retrain his supervisors. Right now, they probably call him so much because he never says no. He’s trained them to understand “We can always count on Bob!” He needs to say yes only when he genuinely wants to go in on his off time and start saying no when he has other plans or just doesn’t want to. That will retrain them to understand that “Sometimes Bob is free but sometimes he’s not.” Healthcare and caregivers are in demand everywhere. They may be a little put off at first (because he’s always said yes) but I highly doubt it will become punitive.

  16. Metal Librarian*

    #5 – I’ve found leaving my address off my CV helped when I lived in a more remote area, as it meant employers wouldn’t discount me because they thought I couldn’t handle the commute.

    1. Inkhorn*

      I found it just deferred the discounting until the phone interview. (“An HOUR? Are you sure you can handle that? I mean, have you REALLY thought about this?”)

      Then I got a job – with a 1.5 hour commute – with a company which had previously employed a 2.5-hour commuter so hardly batted an eyelid. And THEN I could afford to move to a 30-minute commute like I’d been planning to do all along.

      1. academic fibro warrior*

        Or in my case, even though I was easy commuting distance of where the temp agency needed me to go, since they didn’t understand how my county labeled county roads (county name road number) they thought I was commuting very far to either the agency or the location. (Oh you live on county name road! Thats SO FAR how do you DO it? Well actually they’re all called that and my road is only 15 minutes away from you or temp assignment. Every. Day. They asked so often) They could never figure it out. But it meant that I got a good temp assignment out of it that turned into a good FT job with career potential and free tickets to local sports team games as a thank you for supposedly commuting so far. At the end of the day I was tired of giving local geography lessons tho.

    2. A Rusted Fence*

      I live in a suburban area. I moved there knowing my commute would be 1 to 1.5 hours. I was fine with it.

      I’ve had recruiters tell me they weren’t sure I was right for the job because of the commute time.

      I’m starting to wonder if leaving my address off completely, no city and state, would be a good idea.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I strongly recommend against doing this as it can open people up to discrimination. Zip code information can indicate a person’s potential race and income level. It also can open them up to location-based discrimination as in distance from the office. If I’m willing to commute an hour each way, but the employer is skeptical of that based on my zip code, including it could mean my resume goes straight into the trash. It doesn’t make sense to risk that.

    2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Idle curiosity. I live in a major city that so geographically spread out it is insane (I’m sure people in the US can figure out which city I’m in).

      My mailing address is “, suburb-of-city, state, zip”.
      If I drop the address from my resume, do you think I should put, “Big-City, State”, or “Suburb, State”.

      Note that the latter might still provide commute discrimination.

    3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Applicant tracking systems can require that information if they like, but there’s no reason to add it to the resume proper. (Anytime I do an application that automatically pulls info off my resume, it always shows it to me so that I can make corrections as needed. If the zip code field is required, that *will* be flagged by the system.)

      I just checked my latest resume: it’s got my name, job-hunting email address, mobile number (that I do not answer cold calls on). No street address. Currently it does have my city because I live at one end of the major metro area and I wanted to avoid discussions about how locations on the other end are actually too far away, but that’s new since I moved from a more centrally-located house AND I’ll take it off the next time I’m hunting because guess what? It doesn’t matter for the all-remote jobs I prefer.

  17. katkat*

    Wow… This is terrible. RUN. Protect yourself.

    Im wondering if there is also a minority issue playing a role in here? Like the management is taking, very evily, advantage of some minority group that has less power and means and social capita to protect themselves? Something like that happened to a friend of mine at work. He saw a minority group being opressed, misinformed and treated more poorly than others. When he informed some of them about the work-safety related guidelines the company was leagally obligated to follow, he was fired.

    I think even, if this was something that happened “years ago” and they had made changes since that, a decent company would be open about this with their employes. What their processes are right now, how they are protecting their employees etc. Heck, just the fact that you have had several incidents like this, should be a sign for management the keep open talk about safety on-going.

    I don’t know, if there is anything you can do to change any of this in your workplace, or if it’s safe for you. So RUN is my only advice. Hope you get some clarity fot this!

    1. Jackalope*

      I know what you mean here, but I’d point out that the LW specified a group that is already treated like a minority: young women. History both of our country and in general is filled with literally millions of examples of young women being treated like garbage, and in work situations regularly being treated as if their well-being was less important that a customer’s right to do whatever they want, ESPECIALLY if the customer is a man. You’re correct that if the employees are women of color then their treatment is likely to be significantly worse, but just being a woman (and a young woman, in particular) makes you vulnerable to extra abuse by customers while employers turn a blind eye.

  18. ecnaseener*

    I’m not sure where LW1 is getting the idea that “they are terrible people” unless they left out some key points! All I’m seeing is that the company changes work assignments last-minute a lot – that might make them very disorganized (idk what is normal for this field) but not morally terrible.
    If boyfriend has tried to turn down these assignments and been guilted or coerced, THAT would be pretty terrible. But if it’s just the fact that they ask, and he always says yes…it just seems like a very antagonistic framing.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I can see the “they are terrible people” mindset coming from the fact that the LW sees how burnt-out the boyfriend is and assumes that the company also sees how burnt out he is and continues to call him for extra shifts anyways. But it is likely that the boyfriend is putting on a brave face when he’s interacting with his supervisors and patients so from the company’s point of view he’s happy to pick up the extra shifts.

    2. Workerbee*

      Rereading the letter, the company’s tendency to drag their carers across the country with sometimes same-day notice, work them through lunch, and other indications of treating their employees as assets, not people, tells me they aren’t concerned enough about the well-being of people, period. Who among us would want an overworked, stressed, tired, unreplenished carer assigned to us?

      1. Dinwar*

        “..the company’s tendency to drag their carers across the country with sometimes same-day notice…”

        Bit of a pedantic note, but: The letter said county, not country. Assuming this is the USA, dragging someone across the country on the same day simply isn’t possible unless the company has a private jet (and if they do, yeah, expect the boyfriend to be on 24/7 notice–but he should be paid six figures at least as well!). Counties are more diverse. I drive across the county I live in routinely, without thinking about it–who worries about a 20 minute drive, you know? On the other hand, there are some counties that are the size of Eastern European countries, especially out West where population density is low. It takes hours to drive across Riverside County, for example. I assume, based on the tone of the letter, that this is one of the larger counties and such trips are inconvenient.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Even in the UK, I’d say it’s more likely to be county – I don’t see, say, a carer from Cornwall being sent to visit someone in Kent.

          2. N C Kiddle*

            I am the LW and yes, UK based, but it was county. And yes, “terrible people” was probably hyperbolic, but all I get to see of them is how their disorganisation wrt staffing really messed with our plans, so just treat it as an expression of my irritation with them.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              That doesn’t change the fact, though, that this won’t change until your boyfriend changes it. It’s not entirely reasonable to expect his employers to anticipate it, especially since it’s not a job where they see him face-to-face, if he doesn’t enforce any boundaries.

            2. Kal*

              I’m someone whose partner has similar tendencies (works in healthcare, has a boss that is super disorganised at managing staffing and over relies on my partner), I can sympathise. To add emphasis of what others have said – this will only change if your boyfriend wants it to change. Right now he’s okay always saying yes and always putting you at the lowest priority. Between his being a genuinely nice and caring guy and the fact that this work is carework, you could end up feeling like the employer is at the core of it. But like others have said, its entirely possible that just changing jobs wont change this behaviour, especially if its just a switch to another employer doing the same work.

              So a lot of the advice for the situation is going to have to be relationship-based instead of work-based. So the rest of this will focus on that. If you wanna skip this long post then the tl;dr is: please look up Captain Awkward and the Sheelzebub Principle – the Captain provides far better advice than I can.

              So, the start of my advice is talk with him about how his behaviour is affecting your ability to feel loved/valued/etc in the relationship, even if you have tried that discussion before. Ideally do it at a time when things are relaxed, not right when he’s just accepted work again and is running out the door.

              If he can’t commit to making effort to change (which doesn’t mean an instant change, but clear work that you can see where he starts saying no, especially starting with lower-stakes asks), then start making plans as though this is just how he is. Instead of twisting yourself to make time for him when he has time off, assume that he isn’t actually going to be available a fair amount of that time – since he isn’t.

              So make plans to go out with friends or do your favourite hobby or whatever else you enjoy. You can include some plans that are him-optional, where you’ll go and do it without him if he takes a call to go into work, but where he can join if he turns out to actually be free. Its not the end of the world if he ends up home alone when you’re out doing something else sometimes – I mean, that’s what you often get stuck with already. And if you plan something where he say’s he’ll be there and then he bails again, allow yourself to be angry at him for it. Of course you would be angry at him for always choosing work over you, cause that hurts!

              Sometimes, when we feel our partner’s reason for treating us shoddily is reasonable, we can end up hiding our feelings or redirecting them to other things that feel like safer targets (like the employer). And this can be doubly so when we try to put a good face on and just enjoy the time you do get together. But if he’s a genuinely good guy, he doesn’t want to make you feel bad! He’s just so used to giving his time to those who are clambering for his attention that he doesn’t notice the relatively more subtle signs of unhappiness in the relationship. So letting him see whatever hurt or disappointment or whatever else you feel from it can make it show up on his radar that is currently cluttered with everything else, and hopefully he can finally see that you do really need to have a proper chat about the behaviour.

              If things don’t change, though, there will be a point where you end up having to decide whether this is the relationship you want – the relationship as it is now, not how you wish it would be if things were just a little different. And do look up Captain Awkward – it really is a great resource.

  19. CouldntPickAUsername*

    While job hunting I got a bunch of spam calls. Can’t imagine what I would have gotten junk mail wise had my address been included. I highly recommend not putting your address out into wide circulation.

    1. Captain Swan*

      I had my address on my resume while job hunting before (not anymore) and didn’t appreciate any increase in junk mail. Recruiters are more likely to contact through LinkedIn, email, or online jobs it’s like Indeed.

  20. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    LW 4: When I started my remote position, I did not meet the whole team until our biweekly team meeting. And when our intern started in the summer, he didn’t meet the team until the second or third team meeting since he had tech issues when joining. There probably is a more benign reason you didn’t meet your team member right away – those first couple of days are busy with HR meetings, Boss meetings, and training. Agree with Alison here.

    1. KRM*

      I’m not remote (bench scientist), but I didn’t meet my team for like 10 days when I started. All the onboarding was remote and they were asking us to take that from home (omicron wave was happening) and there are no meetings our first week back from winter break. It’s pretty normal to have a harder time meeting new people with fully remote work.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        When we’ve onboarded remote workers it’s been part of the onboarding process to set up meet-and-greets with at least their direct team and peer group. It helps, but it’s still hard to get remote workers to feel like “part of the team” as quickly as you can when people are in person. Some people are fine with that, I’ve found a lot of people find it isolating. I think this is still a kink we’re working out in the new normal.

    2. ferrina*

      In our onboarding, the new (remote) team member meets the rest of their team in the first week (either as a dedicated meeting or as part of a standing meeting). If it’s been a couple weeks and you haven’t been introduced, that’s a bit odd but not a red flag. Plenty of onboardings are terrible- even those where the manager “has it under control”.

      It’s totally normal to set up a 30 minute virtual coffee to introduce yourself and get to know the new hire. I did this at the last couple places where I worked remote/hybrid. You can do this on your own. Don’t try to do any training (your manager has already said they’ll handle it), just get to know them.

    3. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think there’s a difference between “meet the team” and (like it seems to be in OPs case) “team knows that there’s a new person”.

      It seems like the new person just popped up in group chat lists etc and OP didn’t know they were starting or perhaps didn’t even know their manager was recruiting…

      Personally I think the manager shutting down the discussion with “I’ve got it all covered” is quite telling. OP (as Alison picked up) identifies that this is part of a chain of events that make up a pattern. And I don’t get the impression of OP being a ‘paranoid’ (in a colloquial sense rather than a medical one) person from the letter. As with the prior letter about a recruiter who knew that LW was about to be part of a restructure but couldn’t tell her and urged her to take a job — this one has a “no smoke without fire” feel.

  21. Michelle Smith*

    LW2: The good and bad thing about being a low-level big box employee is that you are extremely replaceable. It’s bad because you could get fired at any time and don’t have much leverage. It’s good because you will find it very easy to get another job in retail at a similar pay level replacing someone else. And I definitely think telling the new employer in the interview that you are looking for a new job because you had a gun pulled on you by a customer and decided to file a report would be seen as pretty reasonable. Just find a different job.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, but OP said there really aren’t many other jobs for these people in that town. It sounds like a place with few options.

    2. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It does make me wonder whether “had a gun pulled on me by a customer” is also something that could be used as an interview response in itself? About responding to stressful situations for example. I had a gun pulled on me but remained calm, defused the situation and the result was X. Although it might have an unintentional implication of “so I’m pretty sure I can handle anything that comes up at your tin pot company”!

  22. Michelle Smith*

    LW5: No one in 2022 should be putting a full address on a resume. I follow a TON of career advisors, recruiters, and hiring managers and they all agree with me on this point. It is extremely outdated practice, opens people up to discrimination (not just based on poverty level, but on race and distance from the office as well), and can expose people to identity theft if the resume documents are posted online. There is literally no good reason to do it and several reasons not to do it. City and state have worked well for me for the past decade. Advise your clients to do the same. Not even a zip code as those can give clues to income level and race!!

    1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      What about major urban/suburban areas where there’s so much diversity between areas that it can lead to discrimination as well?

      Should I put “Suburb, State” (as it is in my mailing address), or should I put “BigCity, State”, which is also technically correct, as I live within the city limits of BigCity?

  23. Important Moi*

    LW 5:

    For Alison (or anyone), older electronic systems do ask for addresses. Could one just list the number zero in that spot or some other symbol like #. Would that be frowned upon? Some systems require that certain blocks have the information provided or you can’t even submit the application.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Personally, I leave my address off my resume (just have city, state) but if it were a required field on an online application I would enter my street address.

    2. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      Well, I think that providing your address to your potential employer is pretty standard. The issue is when the resume gets separated from the electronic system and gets passed around to who knows how many people in the company for interview purposes. You would have no idea how careful those employees are with the resume, so leaving the address off is good practice. But inputting for the application system is not as much of a concern. If I understand the issue correctly.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep I think you understand it perfectly. I still don’t *love* the idea of it being in the application system but if that’s required, it’s much more likely to be held confidentially and seen by a small number of people. Resumes could end up anywhere.

    3. ferrina*

      I recommend putting your address when prompted, but don’t include it in the resume.

      The online Application Tracking System (ATS) is the system HR uses to oversee all applications across the company. Often the address is housed in a different spot than the resume, so unless they are reviewing addresses carefully (which most companies won’t do) or you are out of the country/state where the company does business (if you are remote and they don’t want to set up taxes for your state), it won’t impact your candidacy at all. Our HR manager wouldn’t be able to tell by looking if you live in Section 8 housing, and she definitely doesn’t have time/inclination to look up every single address that comes in (and if an HR manager is doing that, that’s a company you don’t want to work for). In my company the hiring manager doesn’t even have access to the ATS or address- they just get the resume/cover letter. The ATS is also used to pre-populate the successful candidate’s onboarding info (for payroll/taxes, sending them their starting equipment if they’re remote, sending a welcome package, etc.).

  24. ABCYaBye*

    LW1 – I’d suggest to you that you make a suggestion to your boyfriend that he needs to reset boundaries, but remove yourself from the situation. That way it isn’t “I’m frustrated because our plans keep getting scrapped” and instead it is “I’m worried that you’re going to burn out if you can’t ever fully disengage from work and relax.” You’re not at all in the wrong when this is also affecting your plans, but making it about the potential for burnout is probably better in the long run. What they’re doing to him isn’t fair and by continuing to say yes and allowing for plans to change at the last minute doesn’t allow him to make any sort of plans, or have any sort of life.

    LW2 – I wholeheartedly agree with Alison. Ask about it. Not in the sense that you’ve heard from others about past situations, but more “just in case something happens while I’m working” and you want to know how to handle it. If the answer hasn’t changed from what you’ve heard happened in the past, then you need to get out quickly. That’s not a healthy or safe culture. The market for retail workers is in your favor, so it would be time to start looking elsewhere.

    1. Here we go again*

      My advice to LW2 is to keep her phone on her at all times. Corporate/ store Policies be damned and if she is in that situation text 911. Under the radar. They should have a panic button at every cash register, if you don’t know where it is ask. If someone puts a weapon in your face press it then text 911 most areas have that option now. If she gets fired for that, lawyer up.
      You’re not calling 911 about the stores money you’re calling 911 to report a crime against your person. You will find a new job if they fire you, being unemployed is better than being injured or killed.

      1. ABCYaBye*

        If you can’t report a crime immediately when it happens, is any emergency reportable? Could you take work time to call an ambulance for someone who had a heart attack, or do you need to clock out?

    2. bookworm*

      Re LW1, I agree that it’s helpful to disentangle the issues here, but I wouldn’t necessarily advise framing this as just concerns about boyfriend burning out when talking to him. At the end of the day, that’s a concern LW can express, but it’s boyfriend’s job to decide whether this work situation is sustainable for him. The thing that is affecting the LW directly is the constant plan cancellation, and it will really benefit her to be direct, talk to him about what she needs to be different in their relationship, and come up with a plan together that works for them to both get what they need.

  25. Mockingjay*

    OP3: The taking of office supplies is a pretext for Nosey to snoop where she doesn’t belong.

    Next time: “Nosey, supplies are kept in the stockroom. Please obtain what you need there. If you need something not available in the supply room, please ask before you ‘borrow’ it from someone’s desk.”

    Regarding the keys: every office I’ve worked, the issuance of keys is normally to select persons who have to keep track of these. “Nosey, please do not remove the key from my desk. Let me know what you need and I will get it for you.”

    Nosey needs boundaries. As for expectations of privacy in the office, it’s generally understood (and probably outlined in the employee handbook) that employees stay out of each other’s desks and personal belongings. Management reserves the right to inspect in specified circumstances. The office is not a free-for-all environment in which employees rummage like a yard sale.

    1. Office Lobster DJ*

      Yeah, it’s the going through drawers or using me as more convenient supply closet that would irk me. If it’s on my desk, borrow away anything that is not clearly a personal item.

      The keys thing made me concerned, too. You don’t mess with someone’s keys. If LW doesn’t need to leave the key to the keybox accessible, maybe they should carry it with them.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I had one job where I had to lock all of my desk drawers when I was away from my desk, or people attending meetings in the conference room near my cubicle would come in to my cubicle and steal any writing utensil and note pad they could find!! If I didn’t have any pens and paper out of my desk, they would literally go through my drawers and take pens and post-its that I had personally brought in (because the issued office supplies sucked.) It’s as if they decided that since I was AFAB and my desk was near a conference room that I was obviously a secretary and my desk was a supply closet. (I was a systems engineer, not a secretary.) Replacing stuff that they took was a constant annoyance, even if it was just office issue junk, because it meant that I had to try to find usable stuff in the supply cabinet.

        I have always disliked people going through my drawers at work, but this cranked it up to 11. I kept change of clothes, misc personal supplies and copies of my reviews in my desk. But because some people consider everything on a work site to be fair game for snooping I had to lock my drawers whenever I was away from my desk.

        Sure, legally anything in a workplace is inspectable by the employer. But your fellow employees should know to keep their noses out of other people’s stuff. It’s just plain courtesy. Nosey Rosey needs to find a few mousetraps to learn to keep her damn fingers out of other people’s stuff. (No, that wouldn’t be illegal if your office has ever had mice, which several of mine have. It’s downright disgusting to find a mouse-chewed pack of snack crackers in a desk you are moving into.)

      2. OP #3*

        Yes, I am now keeping my keys on my person all day. I wish I could lock my desk too, but our desk keys are all in storage somewhere.

    2. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      I was coming here to say the same thing about the keys. They are in a locked cabinet for a reason.

      1. too many dogs*

        If Nosey does NOT respect the boundaries, then it becomes an insubordination issue, from not following orders. That’s easier to document, and easier to deal with.

    3. Butterfly Counter*

      My take was that looking for supplies was just an excuse for Nosey to go through offices. For example, the labels are probably kept in multiple places, including with people there she could ask, but she instead wanted to go through someone’s desk, so she picked someone with labels who wasn’t there.

      I would guess that calling her out on her behavior would stop a lot of the behavior, to you and when you are around. “Rosey, I’ve noticed you going through people’s offices when they aren’t there to get supplies that you could have easily gotten from John or Jane by asking them. It’s looking like you’re trying to snoop in people’s things when they’re not here. Next time, could you please ask people who are here or wait for us to return before asking for the supplies you need?”

      1. OP #3*

        Yes, that’s exactly what I think too. I just don’t know what her motivation is, or how far she’ll take it. But I really like your suggested reply! I will try to remember it the next time I catch her in the act.

  26. Miss Suzie*

    #5 A simple solution is to get a PO Box. Then if a prospective employer wants to contact you by mail, which I think is incredibly rare these days, you have an address. I live in a rural area and it is very common for people to have a PO Box and provide it as their address on forms.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      It’s probably not necessary at all.

      The people who the LW are asking about are living in subsidized/section 8 housing. They don’t need to spend money on a PO Box for so little value. It is entirely common for people to leave their addresses off their resume. The LW and fellow career counselors should just advise everyone to remove it from their resume.

      Although it is an interesting contrast to the usual LW that for these people a concern is someone might think they’re homeless rather than concerns about a long commute.

  27. Gigi*

    Regarding LW #2, there’s been a general, statistically significant rise in violence, rage, and general rudeness towards service staff ever since the pandemic. Retail, food service, flight attendants, health care workers, hotel staff… you name it. It’s absolutely awful, but a vast majority of businesses still value the customer over their employees. And if you’re in a rough financial and scocio-economic spot where you can’t afford to job hunt, all you can do is put up with it.

    Unfortunately, the only way I’ve really seen this combated is with viral videos either exposing the terrible customers or the terrible business/manager. And of course, for every customer shouting abuse that gets an audience on tiktok or twitter, there’s hundreds that get away with it because no one was filming. It’s awful, but when companies value the bottom line over their employees, that’s what happens.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Even with a store full of witnesses it’s hard to get traction without real proof, so video recording is very helpful.

      Even if you can’t ultimately record, I’d suggest having your phone on you (discreetly, if it’s against policy) so you can call 911 immediately if you need to. You need to protect yourself if your employer won’t.

  28. Nea*

    Is anyone else wildly distracted by the fact that Nosey Rosie thinks a water bottle and a coffee mug are the same thing?

    I get that she has a problem with boundaries and privacy, and that apparently she was just waiting for the chance to riffle the boss’ office, but “she… pulled out his water bottle, asking me if that was the coffee mug” grinds me right to a halt for so many reasons.

    Did she think her boss would react well to being told “I found what you were looking for inside your lunch?”

    Did she think that LW would react well to “Behold: I took this non-work thing out of our supervisor’s office”?

    Does she seriously not know the difference?

      1. OP #3*

        Yes, they’re both stainless steel thermos type things. I know which is which but I can see where someone else wouldn’t. Sorry for the confusing wording!

    1. CharlieBrown*

      The only way this makes sense is if LW confused a coffee thermos with a water bottle AND Nosey Rosie confused a coffee thermos with a coffee mug. You would have to have two possible, but improbable, things going on here.

      I found this really odd, as well.

      1. Qwerty*

        Insulated water bottles are a thing! So LW probably knew that it was a water bottle but Rosie’s logic was probably insulated object => coffee thermos => boss is looking for coffee thing.

        It’s still super weird to go into the boss’s office, search through his lunch box, then take the water bottle / suspected coffee thermos to another employee to ask about it when the boss hasn’t even enlisted anyone’s help in the search.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I took that as indication that Nosey Rosey will take any excuse to rummage through other people’s stuff.

      1. Petty Betty*

        I also took it as an example of Nosey Roses acting as the Office Mother.
        “Oh, you wouldn’t see your nose if it were biting your face! I bet if I came and looked for it I’d find it *right there* where you left it” and just started perfunctorily looking as if she were “helping” an errant child under her care.
        The thing is: none of her coworkers are her children (especially her coworkers) (doubly so for her MALE coworkers who could also code it as the “helpful/dutiful office spouse assisting the absentminded/blundering male” shtick) and she is pushing that rope onto herself (whether she realizes it or not).

        My mom did that when she had no more kids to mother in the house. Her “boys” at work became her focus to mother on. Pointing it out did no good. Once a new contract came in and she didn’t have any additional admin staff and she had too much work on her plate to focus on her “boys” (some older than she is), she stopped babying them (and boy did some of them dislike that!).

        However, the WHY of Rosey’s behavior doesn’t matter. We’re all in agreement that it just needs to stop (being aimed at LW at the very least).

        1. OP #3*

          In fact, on of our coworkers IS her teenage son, and she smothers him with that sort of babying. It’s awful to watch.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        This is what I thought–Nosey Rosey was more focused on being the one who found the mug/saved the day than in using common sense or respecting any boundaries. Basically making up work to make herself look busier and more helpful.

    3. N C Kiddle*

      “I know he said coffee mug, but maybe he misspoke and actually meant water bottle? See how helpful I am being which is totally justifying my snooping ways.”

    4. Unaccountably*

      I did and I had to make up all sorts of unfounded narratives to make it make sense. Like:

      -Boss’ coffee mug is missing
      – By the time this information gets to Nosy Rosie, it has somehow transmuted into “Boss’ [ambiguous beverage container] is missing
      – Rosie looks in the lunchbag, finds beverage container, asks if this beverage container is the Ambiguous Beverage Container he’s looking for


      -Boss’ coffee mug goes missing
      -Nosy Rosie, unable to figure out why the Boss would want his coffee mug in this particular circumstance, assumes he misspoke and was looking for something else instead

      Otherwise, I got nothing.

  29. Not Mindy*

    LW4 – Speaking from experience, the new hire would probably like having someone reach out. I have been in my current position for 7 months and for the first 4 or 5 months the I only met 2 people on my team. Since then, I’ve met 2 more, 1 of those only because I reached out to him, the other was assigned to a project with me.
    I’m not sure how many people are on my team. There hasn’t been a single team meeting, and I believe that the overall department is too large for introductions to happen, but there has only been one department meeting here (that I know of) since I started, and I wasn’t included in the invite and no one told me.
    I think that it would be much different if I was in the office. In particular, because I’m a friendly, outgoing person. But I’m not comfortable cold-contacting people by IM.

    1. Not Mindy*

      Small clarification: I am not comfortable cold-contacting people by IM just to say hello. If it’s something directly work related, I’d reach out to the CEO if it was appropriate!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Seconding the suggestion for the LW to reach out! When I’ve been the new person on a team, I always appreciated the people who stopped by my desk (when in-person) or reached out for a short video call (when remote) to introduce themselves/their role at the company.

  30. Zelda*

    I just left my part time job because my boss could not understand that I am not available 24/7. Some bosses lack of understanding of a life outside of that job is so bizarre to me.

  31. Dinwar*

    LW#1: One way you can help your boyfriend is to make this conversation about business. Speaking from personal experience, someone who’s overwhelmed and who’s workload is constantly changing with no notice is necessarily going to make errors and have quality issues. That means AT BEST confusion, lost time, re-work, and the like. Given your boyfriend’s profession, worst case is someone dies. He’s one of the people who could die, by the way–most of the fatalities on jobsites I’ve worked on have been due to someone being too fatigued and driving long distances.

    Simply put, you can’t help people if you’re dead. You can’t help them if you’re so scattered that you’re making serious errors.

    The advantage of this is approach that it takes the person out of the equation. It’s not “I’m too tired and stressed”, it’s “Here are some measurable ways this schedule is negatively impacting us and our client.” That makes it harder for bosses to say “Just suck it up and deal with it you wuss.” It also makes it harder for your boyfriend to say “I’m a wuss and should just suck it up and deal with it” (which was my problem at the time). It turns that loyalty to the mission into a driver to take care of himself, rather than driving him to burn himself out.

  32. trillium*

    LW1: This is a relationship problem. BF’s crappy job is a red herring. Make sure to frame your next conversation in those terms and don’t let him guilt trip you over wanting him to make you and your trip relationship a priority.

    1. Dinwar*

      I think that’s an incredibly ungenerous reading of this situation. There’s a very strong cultural push for people in certain fields to “give their all”, meaning to never refuse a request and to always put the job first. This doesn’t mean that everyone who falls into this trap is a poor choice for a relationship, or that they are all avoiding their partners! It means they’ve absorbed very bad advice and have internalized very bad business norms.

      If my wife had come to me with the attitude you’re displaying I would have read it as EXTREMELY disrespectful, as the only possible justification for it would be to inflict pain on me. Functionally it would have been no different then me having a broken rib and her intentionally punching it as hard as she could for absolutely no reason. It likely would have ended our relationship (though our finances played a roll, and I have no way of knowing if that’s applicable to the LW), sent me into a psychological death-spiral, and…well, I’m not 100% sure what the result would have been. Nothing good, to say the least.

      1. trillium*

        Of course, but falling into that trap is actively damaging their relationship. A different partner might be fine with his current work situation, but LW2 is not.

        1. Dinwar*

          No. This trap is actively damaging the boyfriend and the LW is worried. There’s a significant difference.

          Don’t get me wrong, it would be fine for the LW to leave the relationship. The use of the term “boyfriend” implies a fairly low level of commitment, after all. If the LW had used “partner”, “spouse”, “husband”, or the like the level of commitment would be greater. At this stage the LW could leave their boyfriend because they don’t share the same musical tastes, or because the LW thinks they found someone better, or just because; they don’t actually need a reason.

          But there are ways to do this that are respectful and ways that are not. Coming in guns blazing about “It’s always the job with you!” to someone who’s already in a bad mental state is firmly in the “ways that are not” side of things. There is NO excuse for intentional cruelty, which is what the angle you’re advocating would be. Even in a breakup consideration for the other person as a human being is essential for any descent person.

            1. ABCYaBye*

              Yes, it is a strain. But it doesn’t feel like LW is under the impression he’s doing it to be malicious. He’s not figured out that he can say no, and how to say no.

                1. Dinwar*

                  It’s a necessary assumption for your entire line of reasoning to make sense. You nearly said it openly by calling the work issue a red herring.

                  If he’s NOT doing it maliciously, the hostility inherent in your approach becomes absolutely unwarranted and, as I said, extremely disrespectful. The proper course of action is to attack the root of the problem–which is the boyfriend’s lack of boundaries.

                2. ABCYaBye*

                  Malice would be actively taking work shifts to harm the relationship. The LW doesn’t frame this situation as anything like that. Your use of the term red herring makes it seem much more like the BF is creating an issue rather than work causing him (and them) an issue.

                3. trillium*

                  Gotcha. When I said red herring, I meant that this wasn’t really about the employer’s demands, but rather the lack of boundaries. Sorry for the confusion.

      2. Esmeralda*

        trillium is overstating it, but for sure part of the problem is that the boyfriend is putting (unreasonable) work demands ahead of the relationship. I’m not saying he’s trying to sabotage the relationship, but whatever his intentions, he’s making a choice and it has consequences for him, for the OP, for their relationship.

        I think the OP should indeed bring this up as part of the discussion. How does it make OP feel when this happens? what are other choices the boyfriend could make?

        Some years ago my husband was the IT liaison for his (extremely non IT related) academic department. (He’s a professor, not an IT dude, but he taught himself a lot and at the time knew more than his colleagues.) Faculty have no boundaries…they would call him with Emergencies! (not actually emergencies) at all hours. He would answer the phone and help. Dinner, watching a movie, having a nice discussion, having a difficult discussion, reading to our young son, getting ready to go out, just returned from going out, already in bed, already asleep… everything was secondary to helping his colleagues.

        I finally said, your colleagues cannot be your number one priority after hours, and especially not when you are in the midst of a family obligation. You have to tell them they cannot call you after 6 pm or before 9 am. “I can’t do that!” he said. “OK, I said, I will be glad to do that for you. I can send an email or call them all individually. Which do you prefer?” He knew I was not bluffing.

        The calls stopped. (I intercepted a few holdouts and cheerfully told them, so sorry, he’s busy! You can catch him at the office tomorrow. Nice to hear your voice! Hope you’re well! OK, I’ve gotta go, bye!”)

        And yes, I understand being in a caring profession. You have to set boundaries. You have to. Or you will burn out, get bitchy (maybe that’s just me), and be no good to anyone — not your clientele, not your family, not yourself.

        Be clear with your boyfriend, OP. Especially if you hope or expect the relationship to get serious. You do not want to be married to someone who puts work before everything else all the time.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      Wow, this is incredibly rude and condescending. I imagine you’ve never worked in this kind of industry where you are expected to give up your entire life for next to nothing wages.

      OP, if you see this, please ignore it.

      1. trillium*

        No, I’ve avoided those fields because they’re a sick system. Being expected to martyr yourself isn’t the same as having no choice, except for survival jobs until you can find something better. If this is bf’s calling, then they need to figure it how to make it sustainable, because it’s clearly not for LW as it stands. But that’s their real issue, not one employer.

        1. CharlieBrown*

          If you’ve never worked in one of these fields, then you are hardly qualified to comment on the relationship status of someone who works in one of them.

          This really colors my image of you.

    3. ABCYaBye*

      This comment isn’t helping the situation. The question wasn’t phrased in a way that makes it seem that he’s enamored with the job being all-consuming. It would be different if he was creating ways for work to be a priority rather than just not knowing how to establish better boundaries. If he wasn’t making plans at all “because I’m busy with work” or “work needs me” that would be a different story. They’re making plans to do things… work just feels like they can pull him in 24/7.

      It may BECOME a relationship problem and not a work boundaries problem. But right now, framing the conversation as though he’s actively choosing to not participate in the relationship puts an extra stressor on him and the relationship. Time will tell, but at the moment, telling him he’s using work as an excuse won’t be helpful if the LW wants the relationship to survive.

      1. trillium*

        Many employers feel like they can call in their employees whenever they want, that doesn’t mean he has to let them. This is all about boundaries, which he’s not currently setting. And yes, it’s already become a relationship problem for LW.

        1. ABCYaBye*

          Right. He needs to set boundaries. But there’s a lot we don’t know and can’t assume. Maybe he’s young and doesn’t feel like he has the power to say no. Maybe he hasn’t found the right way to say no. The LW is asking for ways to help him through setting those boundaries.

          1. Dinwar*

            For me, it stemmed from growing up poor. There wasn’t any separation between “good for the job” and “good for the family”. If Dad didn’t work those OT hours we didn’t eat. If he got fired, we wouldn’t have a home. Anything that interfered with the job was a direct threat to the family.

            That sort of mentality is hard to break out of. It’s a real trauma, and takes effort to adjust. That’s why I had to take time to look at my situation by treating myself as a piece of equipment–if I looked at it from “What’s good for me?” I had my entire childhood screaming at me “Do the work! Do the work! You have children–do the work!!!!!” I had to frame it as “What’s best for the company, me breaking or me working a bit less?” in order to break that cycle.

            To be clear, I’m not fishing for sympathy. I’m giving my experiences, because I’m going through what the LW’s boyfriend needs to do, hopefully to provide some small potential insight.

  33. Kari from Up North*

    #3 – I have a CNN/Youtube/TikTok rule – will my actions or lack of action result in me or my workplace appearing on CNN, YouTube or now TikTok? Obviously, a good manager cares about their employees and calls the police about these customers. Bans them from the store. But sometimes, if they are not getting what a big deal this is, ask “So, how would you explain not doing anything previously to David Begnaud from CBS News when he is here to interview you about the shooting at our store?”

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      We have a similar guideline for elections in Ohio. A good election is one where nothing seriously bad happens. Errors happen, such as the wrong ballot in the primary (corrected before the voter printed it out) or a voter getting confused about what election their friend was running in.

      I met someone who worked for the state Board of elections; she had heard of one nearby county, but not mine. I consider that success.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*


      It’s the same idea as “Don’t put anything in email that you* don’t want read out on the 6 O’Clock News or in a court of law.” IOTW, don’t allow the kind of thing that could turn into a PR nightmare for your* store – and an employee getting shot because their manager didn’t take threats seriously or allow employees who were assaulted to contact the police would be a PR nightmare, plus open the company to civil liability. (I believe it’s some sort of duty of care for employee safety, but IANAL.)

      * Generic you/your, not commenter or OP specific.

  34. Ruby*

    LW4, I’m just starting on a new remote team and two of my new coworkers called me just to introduce themselves and chat. it was very appreciated by me.

  35. Somehow_I_Manage*


    We’re all doing our best to establish new etiquette for remote work. I’d assume that if this person were sitting in the cube next to you you’d have to go out of your way not to introduce yourself and spend time together. I think the same applies here. I suggest you pick up the video phone and call- yesterday. It’s part of cultivating a good place to work!

    I can totally see how this happens- interactions during remote work have become very structured. To some extent, this exemplifies the new pressure and responsibility on managers under remote conditions to facilitate these things. Without active leadership, these kinds of balls drop.

    In my observation, the weak link in the remote work chain has been mid and senior level managers being unwilling to adapt to these new responsibilities and properly steward and mentor new and junior staff in the remote environment. Many good in-person managers are poor remote managers. It’s one reason why instead of trying to address it case by case, corporate leaders with limited time are quick to try to re-instate in-person work.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      This. At my new job I’m a fairly senior person in my field. When I started our chat channel was dead. No banter or jokes. I started saying “Good Morning” when I logged on, to indicate that I was available and working. It took a while, but now it’s habit for others too, and there is more interaction.

      To establish lines of communication you have to communicate.

  36. Petty Betty*

    LW5 – I have never included my address. Phone number and email only. I have lived all over. One house I lived in was in a very exclusive neighborhood, but had a hilarious drug reference for an address (ironic, since I’d spent nearly a decade working in drug rehab before moving into the house). Using that address for food delivery, online packages, etc. would cause issues (people thinking it was a prank). I even had a cop think I was making a false report once.
    I also generally live far enough away from any job I’m applying for (I live on the south side of my town and it takes me 45 minutes to drive to work, at 5am with no traffic, in good weather) that I don’t want a prospective employer to make any snap judgements about my neighborhood, my potential commute, or my neighbors (many are moneyed) and use it as a way to weed me out (my liberalness already gets me weeded out in a lot of places).

  37. Veryanon*

    I previously worked in HR for a couple of retailers. We ALWAYS told our employees that if they were being robbed or threatened, to give the robbers what they wanted and to call the authorities as soon as it was safe to do so. We were insured and we’d rather have safe employees. We’d also pay extra to put security guards in certain locations if needed. I don’t understand OP’s employer at all.

    1. Splendid Colors*

      The security guards at my building are not allowed to call 911 on the job. The policy is that if someone assaults a tenant, or a tenant witnesses a crime, that tenant has to call 911 on their own behalf.

  38. LegalEagle*

    I have no advice for LW5, but this has got me thinking about leaving my address of my resume! I live in a building that is half transitional housing for formerly homeless families and half subsidized, affordable apartments that the general public is eligible for (provided you meet the income criteria when you apply). It isn’t well-known enough that you’d know just from the address, but the name of the building comes up when you put it in google maps, and it does make the nature of the building obvious. That, combined with all the comments saying you don’t need an address anymore has me seriously considering taking it off.

  39. Brett*

    From my days working police statistics, the policy on police reports is not that unusual. I can even probably guess which big box store it was based on that policy. (I can tell you it is _not_ Walmart, who allows and even encourages filing of police reports.) Most big box stores will show up as hot spots on crime maps because of the sheer number of incidents that occur at them; these policies are an attempt to make the store appear “safer” than other stores by reducing the number of reports filed there. Requiring employees to file reports on their own time both suppresses the number of reports and also makes it more likely that the report is geolocated at an address different from the store address.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Wow. IMO, if I was required to only file a report on my own time it would be from the parking lot, so the cop could go in and demand the security tapes. Then again, I would probably get fired from a place like that for having too much of a sense of my own worth and not being willing to be a doormat.

    2. blood orange*

      Ditto on seeeeeps’ comment. Thanks for sharing this, Brett.

      I’m in HR in retail/hospitality and this makes me shudder. When we conduct onboarding and customer service training, we make a point to say “do not be afraid of calling the police or emergency services”.

      I’m also unsure of the legality around a policy of not calling the police. However, I did want to mention I’d argue that telling their employees if they *want* to call the police they have to do it on their own time might be illegal. They’d be telling you to address a workplace issue (related to safety no less) off the clock. I’m assuming most or all of these staff are hourly, so at the minimum I’d consider that a violation of wage and hour laws. Maybe I’m wrong, and I’m not a lawyer, but I bet an employment lawyer could make a solid argument depending on the specifics.

  40. LifeBeforeCorona*

    OP1 Your boyfriend is in the trap of too busy fighting alligators to drain the swamp. He needs to have a firm no on last minute work requests and spend that time looking for a better job with more pay. Right now, as noted, caregivers can write their own ticket. It’s hard to juggle both job and job hunting but it sounds like it needs to be a priority for you both.

  41. too many dogs*

    LW#2: I work at a public library. The kind of behavior you are describing is absolutely not allowed on library property. We have rules and procedures that we follow. Anyone who verbally or physically threatens a staff member, or another customer, will be told to leave. Even if you don’t actually threaten a staff member, yelling at them will get you kicked out of the building. Police will be called. The person can be (and quite often is) banned from entering the library for a length of time. We have “panic buttons” to use if someone shows up with any weapon. Our administration not only supports this, they advocated for it, for our safety. I’m sorry so many businesses do not adequately protect their staff (and customers).

  42. Essentially Cheesy*

    The coworker in letter #3 is why I put things in my drawers, lock them, and take the keys with me at night. There is a bad problem here with things just disappearing from my desk and drawers. Most recent example is a single hole punch that very recently disappeared from my desk. This is totally not okay – especially when the items are never returned.

  43. Free Meerkats*

    Quoting from Alison’s answer to #2, “how to respond if a customer makes threats or has a weapon,”

    Having a weapon (at least in my part of the country) isn’t a crime, and in some areas is relatively common. So long as the weapon stays in the holster, I don’t even view it as a threat. Now, if it comes out, then we have a crime.

      1. Dinwar*

        This came up in a court case where I grew up. A pair of guys went to a shooting range, and had their pistols on them when they went to a local tavern to eat afterwards. I grew up in a rural area where most kids over the age of 13 had a gun–it was a traditional birthday present. Guns were part of our lives, the same way cars or stoves were (and a LOT of families used them to feed themselves and protect livestock–coyote/dog hybrids do NOT mess around). And to be clear (this came up at the trial) the pair wore their guns in holsters, they weren’t flashing them around. But one of the workers at the tavern got worried and called the cops. The tavern employee tried to press charges. The issue was, no one could find what crime had been committed. Under Ohio law at the time (I haven’t checked recently), wearing a gun openly in public is not a crime. The tavern hadn’t given any indication that guns weren’t allowed, and indeed they HAD been allowed previously; it was only a new manager that freaked out about it.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I think in some places, it’s illegal to drink if you’re carrying a firearm? Or it’s grounds to have one’s concealed carry permit revoked. Possibly the new manager was thinking of something like that, even if it’s not actually against the law in Ohio (or wasn’t at the time of the incident).

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      To be fair, OP described it as having a gun pointed at the employees. It does not sound like it was just in a holster. However, it sounds like OP is getting a lot of secondhand stories and will need to keep her eyes open and see if she observes these things happening personally.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I can see it being a threat even if the gun stayed in the holster, or in the waistband. Terrible Jerkface lifts shirt/jacket to reveal the firearm, and says, “You have a problem processing that return now, miss?”

  44. CommaLlamma*

    Regarding remote team introductions, I’m curious how different offices are handling this these days. On our small team, new hires have a one-on-one with every team member, to get to know each other. It’s up to the new hire to reach out and schedule them, and they’re expected to do so in their first two weeks.

  45. Jack Russell Terrier*

    When we were looking for a care home for mum in 2019 I consulted a geriatric care manager. One of the things we all liked about the care home where mum became a resident is that they have very little turnover. That seems to indicate they treat staff well. Indeed, when I was able to go back in after over a year of them doing covid lockdown, I greeted a lot of the same on the ground people. They are still working there.

    I’m not sure how you could implement this – but can your boyfriend look around at places /companies that don’t have a lot of turnover?

  46. The Rural Juror*

    #3 – This frustrates me to no end! There was recently an incident before a company social lunch that someone with sticky fingers too an item from the office manager’s desk (from a pile clearly prepared to set up for the event). She had to rush out right before to go to the store to replace it, causing her some undue stress.

    Unless it’s an emergency or a reasonable situation, just don’t open drawers/cabinets and take things from other peoples’ desks!!!

  47. KatieP*

    I’m going to disagree a little with Allison on #3. When LW3 says, “key cabinet,” that reads as, “the cabinet where keys to other things are kept locked-up.” Generally, access to those is restricted to only those who are authorized to hand-out keys. They’re used to keep fleet vehicle keys secure, office keys, etc.

    In most organizations, Nosey Rosey would have just committed a serious security violation by accessing that cabinet without authorization.

    That said, if that’s the kind of cabinet we’re talking about, LW3 should probably be keeping the key to it on their personal keychain. It sounds like there’s a backup key assigned to a second employee – hopefully they’re keeping that key secure, too.

  48. Anon in Canada*

    #5 – unless these people are applying to very small, mom-and-pop companies/organizations, this is all an irrelevant discussion. Every ATS requires a full street address – it’s not optional. ATSs are so ubiquitous now – even if you just put the city on your resume, you will still have no choice but to provide your full address as part of the application.

    1. Dawn*

      YMMV with this, but the other thing about those systems is that they won’t know if you put in a fake address. I’ve done this before, usually using the address for City Hall or just giving a PO box, and explaining if we get to the offer stage that I don’t give my actual home address during the application stage due to the potential for abuse of that information.

      In this day and age, most people are pretty understanding of that, especially when I’m visibly trans.

  49. Just here for the cats*

    “I recently started working for a big box store as a sales associate. I mainly help customers on the floor and do very little cashiering. So far, I had been impressed with the culture and the supposed emphasis on workplace safety.”

    I wonder if their “workplace Safety” Is more like making sure you are complying with osha and lifting with you legs not your back type of things

  50. CorpGirl*

    LW #5: I live in subsidized housing, and I just put my city and state on my resume. It’s never been an issue/raised any questions!

    As others have noted, some applications make you list a full address, and you’ll almost always need to provide one once you’ve been hired. I’ve never had any issues with that either – ultimately, if an employer is googling applicants’ addresses and rejecting them based on living in public housing, they are probably not a great person or someone who would be good to work with, anyways.

  51. Dawn*

    Nosey Rosey sounds like she’s experiencing a lot of anxiety over Fixing Things that she’s lost control of. While I’ve never done something quite so egregious, taking the boss’s water bottle out of their lunch bag and asking, “Is this the coffee mug they’re looking for?” is exactly the sort of thing that would track with my anxiety issues at their worst. It can very easily tip you over into desperation and irrationality in circumstances where you can’t immediately solve whatever the problem is – whether or not the problem rises to anywhere near that level.

    Not much you can do about that, unfortunately, but it might be useful perspective to have.

    1. Unaccountably*

      Does that matter? I mean, obviously to Nosy Rosie it would, but just as it’s not the LW’s responsibility to manage Rosie’s entitlement issues and boundary violations, it’s not the LW’s responsibility to manage Rosie’s anxiety, if that’s what it is.

      People have little enough privacy in the workplace without someone constantly going through their desks, lunches, and file drawers without so much as a heads-up. Letting someone keep doing this sort of thing is not a reasonable accommodation for anxiety disorders.

      1. Dawn*

        I never claimed that it was a reasonable accommodation?

        It just might be useful context for the OP to have given their (reasonable) reaction to being asked, “Is a water bottle a coffee mug?,” etc. Having an idea of why things that don’t seem to make any sense are happening can often help us in forming a reasonable response to those things.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I think that whether Nosey Rosie is having anxiety or is just a boundary-challenged jerk doesn’t actually affect the advice. OP still needs to set the limit to her behavior.

        2. Unaccountably*

          Unless your argument is that OP’s response should change depending on whether Nosy Rosie is acting out of anxiety or not, I don’t think armchair diagnosing is helpful.

          1. Dawn*

            It’s not intended to be a diagnosis; it’s a suggestion from my own experience that may help to put things in perspective.

            I really think you keep misreading me here. I’m not trying to offer suggestions or advice as to what the OP should do. That’s down to them and their management.

            I’m trying to offer information that may help contextualize or add additional perspective to the situation and might help shift their thinking from the implied “my coworker said an insane thing” to “my coworker may be struggling with some issues that are not visible to me.”

            I’m a big believer in extending as much grace to people as one reasonably can, as we never know what they’re dealing with. That may not change their actual response, but it might help how they see that person going forward and/or help them to deliver their response with compassion.

            I’m not certain why you seem to find that so upsetting but it’s not my intent to stigmatize anyone here.

  52. foobar*

    LW4 — sounds like remote work, tbh. I’ve been at my company for 8 years, but joined a new team in January, and have only spoken to maybe five people out of twenty (three of whom are in the New York office). The rest, I haven’t even exchanged IMs. A few people have quit, and it’s like, “Cool, see you later, never even exchanged words with you, but wish you the best!”

    Unfortunately, in my experience having been on three remote teams since 2020, when most of the work is independent, remote work means you barely interact with coworkers. I like socializing with coworkers and am friendly in-person, but I personally find it very awkward and forced to just start IMing someone out of the blue … so I just don’t. I don’t think other people find that interaction pattern very natural either. The net out is no one talks to anyone else.

  53. El+l*

    OP1: Boyfriend, in case you’re reading this…

    There are plenty of times where you have to say, “No, they don’t pay me enough to __.” Sounds like they don’t pay you enough to answer some phone calls – much less rearrange your schedule, fly across the country, and so on.

    And if you’re worried about them freaking out over being told “No,” just understand that healthy people respect boundaries if you are polite but firm. And if they don’t, then most likely there is no amount of things you can do for them to make them happy with you.

    Just say no.

  54. N C Kiddle*

    LW 1 here, thanks so much Alison for answering my letter. Is it weird that I’m a little bit excited to see it on the blog? I sent the link to Boyfriend and he said it was helpful, so we shall see if he can put the advice into practice.

    1. Dawn*

      Glad to hear from you!

      I think if he finds difficulty doing it, I’d start with a lesser goal; automatically set his phone to Do Not Disturb or to automatically reject calls or to go into Airplane Mode or whatever the case may be for a small amount of after-hours time every day and increase it.

      It can really help to get over that hump to actually be able to see in practice that the sky does not, in fact, fall if we’re not ready to leap into action 24/7.

      If not, maybe one of those dog bark collars (joking!).

  55. Unaccountably*

    LW4, your letter is all about the new hire’s onboarding until you get to the last part, where the lede is buried: whether this is “typical” bad onboarding (I mean, maybe it’s just not onboarding the way you’d do it?) or whether it’s “the latest sign I’m being pushed out”. That seems to be your real question. It sounds like you’re trying to interpret the new hire’s onboarding solely in terms of what it means for your job security.

    If you think you’re being pushed out, are you looking for another job? Because I feel like whether or not you need one, and what specific things have made you feel that way (having your work reassigned, not being invited to meetings anymore, etc.), should be a much bigger issue for you than hunting for signs and omens in a new hire’s onboarding like you were reading tea leaves. I’ve seen instances where people who felt as if they were being pushed out were right, and instances where that feeling was 100% the result of paranoia, feelings of inferiority, and a huge chip on the employee’s shoulder.

    Never mind how the new hire is being onboarded. If you weren’t asked for help, it’s none of your concern. Find a way to address the real issue with your boss.

  56. Home Care Lady*

    LW1, I was a caregiver for years, and now work for a (different) personal care agency on the management side, so I may be able to provide some insight. I was your boyfriend when I was a caregiver. I’m pretty sure I was in the top five list, if not the first person they called when other people would call out. Because of the job’s low pay, many caregivers unfortunately don’t take the job seriously, which is real shitty when they agreed to the job at that rate, and calling off puts an elderly or disabled client in a position where they might not have the care they need–this is especially problematic when the client has dementia and needs to be supervised 24/7 for their safety, or needs medication reminders. I understand why your boyfriend always says yes, because I always said yes. (That, and I was lucky enough to work for a company that paid overtime). However, I know the office staff called me first because I had a track record of saying yes. They never forced me to come in, I came in on my own accord. I’m willing to bet that’s what’s going on with your boyfriend, too.

    As far as the low pay goes, almost all of the money the company makes comes from insurance. Very few elderly people are willing and able to pay out of pocket for their care, especially when insurance will almost always cover what’s needed. My company is still getting off the ground right now, and the owners aren’t even taking a salary at this point–we still can’t afford to pay our caregivers a living wage. Some companies may just be greedy, but I can at least speak for my own company when I say the low pay isn’t a greedy corporation issue, it’s an insurance reimbursement rate issue.

    Going back to your boyfriend, I agree with what Alison said about just saying no. And I’ll also say that since the job market is so hot, it’s unlikely your boyfriend will be fired unless he does something unethical with a client or starts calling off more than once a week every week. For the reasons I’ve described here, it’s also unlikely that he’ll find significantly better conditions anywhere else–he is much more likely to have success negotiating a small raise at his own company, since he has a proven track record of being outstanding at picking up extra shifts, and seems to care deeply about his clients. He could also try to pitch being “on-call” for certain days or nights of the week. When I was a caregiver, my company would pay caregivers who weren’t working $25 a day to be on call. This would give his paycheck a nice boost, and might make it easier for him to say no to coming in at the last second for times he isn’t on call.

    The last thing I’ll say here, is that if he’s been working at the company for a while, he may want to think about being promoted into a management role. He’s clearly skilled and passionate at what he does, and it sounds like he’s already familiar with a lot of the clients. I’d encourage him to express interest in applying for the next Care Coordinator role that opens up, if I were you.

  57. DJ*

    I wonder what the situation is regarding safety of employees possessions in public contact areas. I.e. to provide lockers. I’ve been in a couple of workplaces where employees have had money stolen due to lack of lockers/lockable drawers. The first workplace the employer supported the staff member reporting it to the police etc. The 2nd didn’t care, not even to discuss how we could secure our personal belongings/lockable cupboards/drawers.

  58. Chirpy*

    #2 – as someone who also works in a big box store, this is not normal but definitely not unheard of, especially in the last few years. My store did have a customer threaten a manager with a gun about a year ago, and yes, the cops were called immediately, and he did get at least a day off afterwards. We previously had a bad manager who completely brushed off employee concerns about another employee (the guy was screaming alarm bells of creepy, escalating to walking around the store with a knife out, and was eventually fired for death threats…and came back to threaten the store/managers months later. Every female employee was creeped out but never listened to, and even when a male employee complained about the knives the old manager did nothing. )

    The store is better now, but it took our manager getting fired and also I think the female CEO finally heard about the sexual harassment from customers (we’d asked a guy from corporate about what to do years ago and he never answered) so at least in theory we’re allowed to throw out creepy customers now. Our store policy is to call management and have them call 911, but honestly, I don’t think anyone would be reprimanded for calling 911 themselves in an emergency, I think it’s just that 911 will call the store back to verify and the managers want to know what’s going on (we’ve had a few serious medical issues in the store, too.)

    As to harassment by customers, while my manager says we can come to him with issues, in practice I’ve never found it to be of use in the moment, really. But I’ve hit customers who grabbed me, and management was understanding, at least.

    Good luck, OP, and to all the other readers: as customers you have a LOT more freedom to help out employees being harassed than they often do. Please stand up for retail and service workers if you see this kind of thing, and escalate it yourself if management won’t. Customer complaints to corporate get heard a lot better than employee complaints.

  59. Taco Bell Job Fair*

    I’m pretty sure I worked at that same big box chain. After a customer threw a fit because we were out of an item and tired to get me fired. The manger who gave me a talking to told me that death threats were common and she got 3 that day. She acted like it was common and no big deal. Like it came with the job. Luckily I quit about a week after. That job was making me cry in frustration everyday after I went home.

Comments are closed.