I can’t escape Halloween Town

A reader writes:

I live in a small city which doesn’t have many employment opportunities. The city has a high unemployment rate, and it’s rare to find work that isn’t in shops, farming, etc. Six years ago, the city council launched a project to fund start-up business ideas for marginalized individuals, including those with disabilities.

One of these ideas has become extremely successful. It’s essentially four neurodivergent eccentrics who live every day like it’s Halloween. They are commissioned by various organizations around the state to create bespoke services and goods. They’ve attracted something of a following with projects coming in all year in preparation for October. Jobs include making props for a small amusement park, making decor for a children’s hospital, local authorities hiring them to run haunted houses, etc. Because it has council funding, the start-up needs a couple of additional employees for administration. I accepted one of these admin roles as there are so few office-based jobs in the area.

I have worked there for two years and I feel like I’m in some sort of alternative reality. The office is filled with robotics, costumes, and prop projects. I’ve kept my complaints to what I thought was minimal, but the number of official logged complaints about the four people is in double digits. As an example, one was about a ruined handbag that had been seized as a prop and filled with jelly and rubber eyeballs. The other admin worker isn’t helpful — he has multiple Halloween-themed tattoos and named his kids in obvious tribute (think names like Casper, Salem etc.).

The entire city sees the team as underdog heroes and they really are involved in worthwhile projects. I appreciate that they probably have been excluded through their lives and have finally found an opportunity to form a community and work in a field they love. But my nerves are in shreds with the constant screams and cackles emitted from every corner of a small office. The latest is a wildlife charity wanting to put nesting boxes for actual BATS! in the office. They’re paying for it as a promotional/marketing service, with the resident ghouls blogging about and videoing the bats. Am I nuts, or is this completely bizarre?

After I submitted a complaint about the plans to move bats in, the local newspaper ran a massive double spread about the Halloween grinch trying to destroy this deeply loved community enterprise. They took the stance that I am some stuffy busybody ruining disabled people’s opportunities to shine and create joy and community spirit. I wasn’t named in the article but it was obvious to locals who the villain was.

Quitting means I’d be signing up for many years in a manual or service job in a city where everyone hates me. My son is counting down the days until he can legally change his name so he won’t be recognized. I had minor surgery last year and the week off felt like the first time in two years I could breathe.

As I’m writing this to you, my coworkers are bellowing out lines from films at each other repetitively, then identifying them. Here’s a sample:

A : What an excellent day for an exorcism!
J: The Exorcist, 1973!

T: Listen to them, children of the night!
J : Dracula, 1931!

Help!

Whoa, okay.

The problem is not the people running this organization. The problem is not the culture of this organization, or the bats or the rubber eyeballs.

The problem is that you’re working for an organization that you hate and hoping that it will change in fundamental ways, when those fundamental ways are core to the work they do.

You don’t need to like Halloween or creepy things or scary movie references or bats … but you are working for an organization whose whole mission is about those things.

Fighting against that is like taking a job at a race track and complaining that you smell motor oil all the time, or taking a job at a nightclub and trying to get them to play less music.

This is the work they do.

It’s not surprising that there are people in the office who are really, really into the work they do! That makes sense. It’s a niche business, started by people with a niche interest, attracting people who share that niche interest.

Lots of people would think this is awesome. You don’t — and that’s your prerogative, but you’ve got to be realistic about what you signed on for.

I’m sympathetic that you don’t have a ton of other job options in your area, but it’s not reasonable to take a job working for a company that does X and then be upset that they’re doing X.

I think you’ve got to decide whether you can stay where you are reasonably happily or whether it’s too much for you and you need to leave. There’s no middle ground option of “stay but hate it and try to make them be different.”

What would you be doing for work if this organization didn’t exist? Whatever that answer is, it might be what you need to do now.

{ 827 comments… read them below }

  1. I would bat an eye*

    Okay, the bats though –– rabies is endemic in bats and putting up boxes for them to nest near or around humans is hazardous. Definitely OP should recognize that they can’t fundamentally change the nature of this organization, but health and safety issues (a workplace free from **actual** bats) seems reasonable to me.

    1. Sylvan*

      Even if these are very special, healthy bats who are magically disease free, they make noise and damage attics.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      The latest is a wildlife charity wanting to put nesting boxes for actual BATS! in the office.

      What kind of wildlife charity is this and how do they not understand that wild animals (in this case, bats) do NOT belong inside an office??

      1. lex talionis*

        And the big question, how do the bats come and go from the office to get food and, um, eliminate said food?

        1. I should be working*

          Our last office location had some resident bats who hung out in the smoking area. I learned bats don’t leave their perch to eliminate waste. They just hang there and let their eliminations run down themselves. There was a 3 foot bat urine streak down the wall in their favorite corner.

          Live bats would be a biohazard inside an office. They’re filthy. I’m pro-bat in general, just not in close proximity.

          1. Albanie*

            This is actually not true. They don’t leave their perch to poop, but they turn upside down (well, right-side-up) and hang by their thumbs when they have to go. Once they are done, they turn the other way around and hang effortlessly from their claws.

          1. Dawn Hachfeld*

            I am a pro bat including having a bat house attached to my home, however NO ONE should be collecting bat guano! Bat guano can contain a fungus that causes Histoplasmosis, a potentially fatal infection in humans. Regular safe cleanup with gloves and a mask are required and not a good idea if you have pets or small humans that could come in contact with the guano. It would be a safety hazard to install bat homes or nesting boxes inside any dwelling or office never mind the fact that they need to leave at dusk and forage for food.

        2. too many dogs*

          This will probably get removed because it’s just too silly, but I reverted to my third-grade self to answer, “They will go to the Bat-room.” But I agree that these little wild animals would not do well inside. Maybe they plan to put them outside around the building, and the letter-writer misunderstood.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I strongly suspect that LW misunderstood the location of the bat nesting boxes. It makes no sense to put them indoors.

            My last campus had a bat colony under a bridge (and you could see them all fly off at sundown) but any time a bat got in the library via the roof vents, the building had to be evacuated while the bat was caught by a professional. (I believe at least one bat had rabies, unless I’m conflating this with the rabies outbreak in the wild foxes across town.)

      2. i guess my whole department was the real work wife all along*

        yeah, i question that charity‘s sincere concern for bats.

      3. Princess Xena*

        I think this is one of those fine distinctions where ‘in’ the office may mean ‘in the eaves of the roof’ or ‘in the front lobby’ and the difference between those two is going to be very important. The former is fine. The latter not so much

        1. Anonariffic*

          I think LW sees this all as comparable to the people who write in with letters like “my office is dog friendly but I have allergies” when the actual situation is closer to “I have dog allergies and took a job with a veterinarian.” It’s not that the folks in the other cubicles are being inconsiderate, it’s that she is fundamentally not suited to the environment.

          Re the bats in the office, could it be something like those observation beehives where the nest is inside with viewing windows but everything is sealed and they have their own exterior access point?

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            This is along the lines of what I am suspecting. Or a box with a small built in wireless camera that streams to a set internet site. But the boxes are actually outside, with only external entrances for the bats.

            1. JustaTech*

              Right, because if the bats are already inside the office, then they already have a roost and don’t need a nesting box.

          2. Splendid Colors*

            The natural history museum in my old college town had a beehive constructed so the back of the hive was a glass portal you could see from inside the museum. The bees were outside the museum, it was across the building from the visitor entrance, and I don’t think it was close to the employee entrance. It was pretty cool watching the bees at work! (And bees are active during museum hours, unlike bats.)

        2. Worldwalker*

          Yeah. I’m reasonably sure they’re not putting bat houses *inside* the office! (how would the bats access them?) Probably on the outside of the building in some quiet place — bats don’t like disturbance. It’s unlikely the OP would ever even see a bat.

        3. münchner kindl*

          I don’t know if European bats have the same health issues as bats in the US – but in my country, it’s common that churches allow bats to nest in their bell tower/ rafters.

          And nature charities do provide wooden nesting boxes for bats, just like for birds, to be hung up underneath big roof eaves: because bats are endangered, they need spaces to nest.

      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        There is a zero percent chance that the wildlife organization is installing bats inside the office. The LW is either misunderstanding their intention to install bat houses on the outside of the building, or is intentionally exaggerating for effect.

        1. nelliebelle1197*

          Former zoo employee here. We had a resident bat expert and rehab program and totally agree this is either a misunderstanding or an exaggeration – the bat houses are likely outside. I have several myself!

          1. A non*

            That was my first thought. The second one was that maybe having one inside for educational purposes (like, with a sign about the benefits of bats and where to get your own bat-box).

        2. Starbuck*

          This is where I’m at, there’s no way the actual plan is to have bats loose IN the building. That would be ridiculous but I just can’t believe that’s what they’ve got in mind.

        3. Random Biter*

          This. Bat houses are not bizarre, I have them, but I can’t think of a single organization that would advocate for them INSIDE a home or business.

        4. Ampersand*

          There’s a good chance that LW misunderstood; I agree with that point. However—Alison has received some unbelievably wild letters before, so much so that I didn’t think twice that it’s possible someone really has proposed and/or agreed to an indoor bat installation.

          Also, I had to stop myself from making unintentional bat puns in this comment.

          1. Vio*

            I’m sure some people would be crazy enough to try it, but I’d *hope* a wildlife charity would know better.

      5. lunchtime caller*

        SURELY the boxes must be meant for outside on a porch or something. I have definitely heard of people who have these outside their home etc to support local bat populations (like they often find them lost on their outside wall or wtv) and help cut down on bug pests.

      6. yala*

        It’s such a bizarre concept that I’m wondering if maybe they just meant that there would be a bat box near the office, like in the yard or something? Because that doesn’t seem so bad (yes, bats can absolutely be vectors for disease, and humans should not interact with wild bats, but a nesting box ideally would be something you wouldn’t really mess with once it’s up anyway, right?)

        1. Lexie*

          You don’t mess with them at all. Ideally they are positioned so that the bats will choose to live there rather than move into inhabited buildings.

          1. Worldwalker*

            And you put them in the most out-of-the-way place practical, because the bats don’t like to be disturbed.

      7. SleepyWolverine*

        I seriously doubt they are talking about putting them inside the office. There is probably talk of installing bat-houses on the exterior of the building that has been incorrectly interpreted by the OP.

      8. Albanie*

        No wildlife person would ever suggest such a thing. It wouldn’t even be possible– bats fly for miles every night to forage for food. OP is definitely exaggerating and twisting the truth on this one.

        1. Zweisatz*

          Woah, we’re taking letter writers at their word here. Sure they may have misunderstood but there’s no reason to suggest malice.

      9. Tabitha_Mc*

        If this post is going to be vacant soon, I’m going to be first in the queue to fill the position…

      10. Red 5*

        I find it highly, highly unlikely that there are going to be actual bats in the actual office.

        This is far more likely to be a particular type of nesting box or something on the property, MAYBE in the building, but nobody wants to put bats actually in the office where they’d interact with people and if they did they should be reported to about ten different regulatory agencies.

    3. londonedit*

      On the other hand, where I live bats are hugely protected and many, many people put up bat nesting boxes because bats are generally seen as being creatures that need protection and support to breed. If you find out you have bats living in your roof or whatever, you absolutely cannot do any kind of renovation work that would disturb them without getting a special licence that’s only granted if disturbing the bats would be unavoidable. Mind you we don’t have rabies here, but bats have a ton of protection and it’s all sorts of illegal if you try to disturb them or destroy their habitat.

      1. i guess my whole department was the real work wife all along*

        yes, but they need to be outside. living inside with people isn’t a good option unless the people are trained rescuers/rehabilitators.

        1. londonedit*

          I mean, I was assuming the bats aren’t literally going to be *in the office*, because no wildlife charity is going to do that and that’s not where or how you set up bat boxes.

            1. Beth*

              My thoughts also — bring on the bats! But I would absolutely hate working at that company, except for the actual live bats. I do feel a lot of compassion for the LW!

      2. oranges*

        A local space was thrilled to get bats a couple years ago. Chill and undetected during the day, substantially cut down on mosquitoes during the the night.

        1. JSPA*

          There’s a famous old library in Portugal that relies on their bats for pest control and thus the welfare of the ancient books. They’re worried because the bats are not breeding, and they will be left bat-less in the near future.

      3. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        Even without rabies as a concern, my understanding was that bat guano was toxic– the expression “batsh*t crazy” isn’t just a colorful colloquialism.

        1. Dinwar*

          It smells bad, and at high volumes can give off gases that are either toxic or displace oxygen or both (I forget which). That said, put that much fecal material and urine from anything in an area and you’ll have problems. The caves where guano can create deadly atmospheres have so much of it that they measure it in meters. Mining concerns took decades to strip the guano out of some back when it was heavily used as fertilizer. The amount any reasonable person would allow to accumulate before being so disgusted that they clean it up is significantly below that volume.

          If you keep the box reasonably clean–basically empty it every day/every other day and scrub it once a week or so–you shouldn’t have to worry. On the list of reasons why this is a bad idea, this is pretty far down.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I hope that her coworkers are going to do this (with proper gloves, etc.) But frankly, going strictly by the contents of the letter, this feels like they want the bats for props, will deal with them for a couple weeks, then start arguing over “whose turn it is” and expect the LW to take on cleanup duty.

            1. SAS*

              I’ve got to say, I don’t get the impression the LW’s colleagues are careless or slapdash about their projects at all.

              1. parsley*

                I would also expect that cleaning is something that would be taken care of by professionals hired by the wildlife org, I wouldn’t have thought they would put care of the bats on the office occupants.

          2. STAT!*

            Oh yeah. I once saw a “making of” short for a David Attenborough documentary. It was about the ecosystems of caves with huge bat colonies. Camera man described how he had to wear special all-over protective gear to shield him from bats constantly defecating & urinating on him, plus tight & uncomfortable breathing equipment on account of the guano’s noxious vapours, & he sweated like a pig because it was 50 degrees C down the cave, & he had to work underground for four hour stretches because the filming location was 1km from the entrance … & then when you reach the location you are standing thigh deep in guano, & it’s pitch black, & you have to film in near darkness so you don’t drive away the critters, which are squirming all around you & consist of albino cockroaches & centipedes & other such animals feeding off the dung … anyway TLDR, wildlife documentary filming ain’t all charismatic megafauna & beautiful plants in exotic locales.

            1. Phryne*

              I saw that one too. I love that feature on nature documentaries: now that you have enjoyed the pretty pictures, let us show you the horrors and deprivations our camerapeople went through for literal years to get these shorts.
              Another one that I clearly remember was the guy who spend several months lying on frozen rocks and snow in the Himalayas before he even saw the first snow leopard…

            2. CoveredinBees*

              I’d always assumed that wildlife filming wasn’t super glam considering where they’d be filming, but never realized it would be that bad.

      4. Avril Ludgateaux*

        Mind you we don’t have rabies here,

        You should probably lead your comment with this! I live in a region where rabies is endemic, and while it’s rare for them to carry it, bats are a particularly dangerous vector because the ones here are tiny. They can fit through the smallest openings (I think batproofing seeks to seal or cover any opening that is 3/8″ or wider! That’s less than 10 mm!) and if a rabid one happens to bite you while you’re sleeping, not only won’t you feel it, you may not even see evidence of a bite. If you don’t know you’ve been bitten, you’re not going to seek treatment in time, and rabies is a death sentence.

        Needless to say, that was the part of the OP that I definitely agreed with. I agree with Alison – why take a job if you’re annoyed by the nature of the work you do? – but the bat thing is definitely A Bad Move.

        1. Mango is Not For You*

          I think the 3/8″ is to keep bees out – that’s what’s traditionally called “bee space.” And while rabies is very, very scary, in the US at least there have been very few deaths in the last 20 years. While most cases are traced back to bats, it’s not typically a “they bit me while I was asleep and I didn’t know” thing, it’s more “I picked up this bat and it bit me.”

          Bats do not belong in office buildings, I cannot imagine that any city council would allow them to place bat boxes INSIDE the building, but I can totally imagine having bat boxes in surrounding trees or in higher building rooftops. Bats are an important part of natural pest control and eat about their own body weight in mosquitos every few days, and you are much, much more likely to get sick or die from a mosquito-borne illness than from rabies carried by a bat.

        2. Garlic Bread Aficionado*

          I live in the northeast US, and around here you are told “if you have a bat in your house, you need to assume you have been bitten and seek treatment for rabies ASAP” Animal Control, or a private pest control agency will trap and euthanize the animal and send it to a state lab for testing.

          I have friends who’s home had a bat, the whole family had to get rabies shots. They spent tens of thousands of dollars sealing up their house so that bats wouldn’t get into the house again. Only for 2 years later… bats to get back into the house. The vaccines they were given were still viable from before so only the little one who wasn’t born the last time needed to get the rounds of shots. Contractors and pest control companies cannot figure out how the bats are getting in… so they sleep in mosquito netting now

          1. yala*

            huh…my aunt just found a bat in her house in Texas. Don’t think they went for rabies shots though. Probably should. :/

          2. iliketoknit*

            So I live in the northeast and have had bats in the house and have never been told I need to get a rabies shot from just having a bat in the house. I had to call a removal guy about 3 years ago because it was too cold out and the bat in my living room wouldn’t fly outside, and there was no reference to rabies shots and the bat was taken to a local wildlife rehab. For a rabies scare there needs to be some kind of plausible contact. Like a friend of mine (actually in the Midwest) had her kid wake up one night and there was a bat ON HIS PILLOW (eek!). There was no sign of a bite, but given close proximity and (especially) that the bat didn’t seem to be doing well, he got rabies shots. But I’ve never had rabies shots required for just, say, being in the same room as a bat. (For the period when a bat is confused and flying about your house, that is. Obviously installing actual bat houses in your living room would be different, but I agree with all the comments saying not to do that.)

            1. AsPerElaine*

              Also in the Northeast, and for a while I lived in a dorm that would get bats down the chimney occasionally. I’ve been in a hallway with a bat flying through, and while I don’t recommend it (I love bats, but they go up and down like three feet per flap, it is DISCONCERTING), we just called campus security, and since nobody had touched it, no one said we should get shots or anything. I assume the advice would’ve been different if someone had woken up with a bat in their room.

              1. Like Chess, But With Puncture Wounds*

                This. If you wake up with a bat in the room, you can’t know whether you were bitten or not.

            2. Moira Rose*

              I’m with Garlic Bread. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, if you find a bat in your house, you’re getting rabies shots and the bar is being euthanized, no two ways about it.

            3. GrooveBat*

              I had a bat in my house a couple years ago, and I was worried about my cat so I took her to the vet to make sure she was up-to-date on her rabies booster. The vet screamed at me to go get myself vaccinated, and I did. I don’t regret it; it wasn’t really that bad even though I had to go multiple times. Rabies is a horrible way to die and there is no sense taking chances if you don’t have to.

              PS my user name certainly seems apropos right now.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                re: not that bad
                Rabies vaccines have benefited from medical advances. By all accounts, it’s much less invasive than it was 40 years ago when I was being warned away from wildlife as a camper.

          3. kitryan*

            As I understand it, you can get micro scratches/bites that you wouldn’t really feel by coming into contact w/an affected bat, so if you’re in physical contact w/a bat, like one brushes past you in the dark or whatever, unless the specific animal can be tested (which is fatal to the animal, far as I know) you should get vaccinated, to avoid risking *death*.
            Odds are against any individual bat having rabies but definitely not 0 and it’s a heck of a dice roll when one of the possible outcomes is dying horribly.
            So, with bats, they’re awesome – they eat nuisance insects and are pollinators, they are entirely harmless in themselves *but* never touch them or risk touching them unless you’ve had your shots and probably don’t go near the guano either.
            So, I agree with most posters that there’s no way any reputable organization is going to put bat houses *in* the office but it’s perfectly plausible that they’d want to put them in the yard or whatever due to work theme appropriateness, insect control, and wildlife conservation reasons.

          4. Eater of Hotdish*

            I’m now having a vivid memory of the house where I lived during my college years in the Midwest US with several housemates and a jillion bats that would periodically fly through as if out of hell. I had a housemate who would catch the bats WITH A PILLOWCASE and gently deposit them outside. No rabies shots were ever discussed or acquired.

            Said housemate is alive and well 20-ish years later, but I look back and I’m like, dang.

          5. Sati*

            It’s funny how different it is from place to place. I’m in the UK, with little to no rabies, and bats are heavily protected. If they nest in a house you have to get a specialist wildlife conservation unit to relocate them, or leave them. My parents bought a place in Somerset about 10 years ago and found, after everything went through, that they had bats in the chimney. Wildlife unit said relocation would cost about £25K. Fines for harming or killing bats are up to £5000 PER BAT. Parents shrugged and had a very fine screen made a couple feet up the chimney so the bats don’t get into the house, and now live with the bats. My stepmother is practical enough to roll with things, and my dad gets to make “nature bats last” jokes about it, so they’re both pretty happy.

        3. Albanie*

          You might not feel a bat bite you, but as someone who has been bitten thousands of times I cannot personally imagine sleeping through such a thing. You would have to be quite a heavy sleeper.

          1. Avril Ludgateaux*

            I also want to know how a person is bitten by bats thousands of times. Are you perhaps a billionaire vigilante with a bat-related trauma who chooses to make their secret lair a cave full of them in order to assert dominion over their fears?

            Or, like, a zookeeper?

            Anyway the bats here are tiny. As I commented above the recommendation for batproofing is sealing any opening 3/8″ of an inch or larger – and no, this isn’t because of wasps or bees, this is the specific recommendation for bats. You’re also instructed to get thee to the hospital for a series of rabies shots if you wake up in a room with a bat; I don’t know if that is the general recommendation if you come into any contact with a bat or specifically if you’re sleeping and can’t know if you were bit. I’m a light sleeper, but I don’t wake up to things like mosquito or spider bites, and I’m not going to assume that I would wake up to a bat bite. I’d rather keep them out!

            1. Jules*

              The smallest bat in the world is about the size of a bumblebee. (And appropriately enough, it’s common name is the bumblebee bat. It’s adorable.) It’s pretty rare and, according to the internet, lives in just 35 caves in Thailand and 8 in Burma. And even a bumblebee would be hard-pressed to fit through an opening 3/8″. I am very curious to know about your tiny local bats! (I realize this sounds facetious and I sincerely don’t mean it to be. I admit to some skepticism that there’s any bat in the world that could fit through a hole as small as you’re describing, but I also love bats and would be delighted to learn about a new species.)

      5. darlingpants*

        I think this LW is in the UK, given the use of “council” for local government, and when I google “UK rabies bats” the first thing says that the UK has been free of rabies for 100 years and only one person has ever gotten rabies from a bat. So the health risk compared to trying to do this in the US is extremely different.

        1. ThatGirl*

          No, “city council” is a very common US term – the LW didn’t use it in a British way (at least to my eyes).

            1. Anonyone*

              Not even the words used, but the way the OP writes and talks about things, nothing about this says UK to me (English).

          1. Ferret*

            Is it worth noting that at the top of the comment section given how much of this is turning into a discussion about Rabies which isn’t relevant if LW is in the UK?

            Although tbh I’m tending towards the theory that some have offered that this is an alternate situation (eg Christmas themed) where the details have been changed

            1. Wheels on Fire*

              Its a moot point. Bats carry a lot of diseases. Even if rabies isn’t endemic to where ever OP is, it’s still a health hazard.

            1. Tryingtobekind*

              Definitely not Australia:
              * Halloween really isn’t a thing adults do here. Kids do a bit of trick or treating, but it’s not a cultural milestone.
              * Same with haunted houses
              * “it’s rare to find work that isn’t in shops, farming, etc”- Australians would say retail and hospo.
              * City councils in Australia don’t have that much money, and wouldn’t be funding someone to go around the state
              * Worked there for two years? Most city councils would have been seriously impacted by lockdowns or border closures. No one was travelling around the state much in Australia during 2020-2021. They would have been working from home for a lot of time.
              * “I had minor surgery last year and the week off felt like the first time in two years I could breathe.” No way this person lives in Australia
              * Australians wouldn’t refer to “a children’s hospital”. There’s only one children’s hospital in each state, and it would be “the children’s hospital”
              * I could go on and on

            1. Jaid*

              Australia has rabies. MegaBattie posts YouTube videos of herself rescuing bats/flying foxes and always ends it by telling people not to handle bats, otherwise they might get cut or scratched and the bat would have to be euthanized for examination.

              1. Gene Parmesan*

                I think Australia (and New Zealand) are considered free of rabies, and they guard this status very closely (see: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard sneaking their dogs in in 2015). However, there are other pathogens that their bats carry, including Hendra virus and lyssavirus, which are quite deadly to humans.

                I read a fascinating book called Spillover about animal-borne diseases that can get transmitted to humans (timely….) and these diseases were discussed in detail. I hope this comment doesn’t come across as pedantic or know-it-all, I just wanted to share the interesting science background.

                1. allathian*

                  Yes, and a bunch of other viruses that may or may not be transmissible to humans. After all, Covid was originally a bat virus.

                2. Just Another Zebra*

                  Oh, I read that in college! It was fascinating and terrifying and lives rent-free in my brain.

              2. Lilac*

                Lyssavirus and Hendra virus, not rabies. Related disease but fundamentally different. For example if someone gets bitten by a dog or a wild animal you’re not going to get a rabies shot.

                1. just some guy*

                  Actually, a rabies shot is *exactly* what you’re going to get for suspected exposure to Australian Bat Lyssavirus. (Or more precisely, rabies immunoglobulin if available, and a series of rabies shots.) The viruses are closely enough related that rabies treatments are the best available option.

                  Sources:
                  https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/Australian-bat-lyssavirus
                  https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/N_R/Rabies-and-lyssavirus

                  You’re not likely to get Hendra from handling bats; bat-horse-human seems to be the important transmission chain.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            Ireland too. I knew it was also true of the UK because rules about importing animals are often “unless it’s from the UK.”

          1. Hrodvitnir*

            I believe we (New Zealand) are the only inhabited place to never had had rabies. Having no native mammals (apart from very weird bats and sea lions) helps.

        1. UKDancer*

          The UK is officially rabies free since the 20th century apart from a very small number of cases of a similar virus in a colony of wild bats. There’s only been 1 recorded case of someone catching it from a bat. This is according to the nhs.

          As a child mother was paranoid about me approaching dogs on the continent because she was convinced they are all infectious.

        2. Lost academic*

          Hawaii. And they are VERY protective of that status.

          But bats can carry more then just rabies. Parasites, fleas, etc. Nesting boxes are great, not in homes or offices.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I worked briefly in a vet’s office years ago, and I recall a woman preparing for a movie to Hawaii who brought her dog in MUTLIPLE times for rabies shots, certificates, etc. a full year ahead of time. And she had to arrange for the quarantine for him once he got there–I forget the time span but it was in months. They do not mess around.

        3. BatVet*

          Bats only have rabies in North, Central and South America, while terrestrial animals have rabies worldwide, apart from some exceptions like Australia and the UK. However, there are other lyssaviruses (same family of viruses as rabies) in bats in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, and many of these have been transmitted to humans, and cause disease similar to that caused by rabies virus.

      6. Lexie*

        We do have rabies and bats are still protected here. I believe a individual bat can be killed if it bites someone so that it can be tested. If you have them in your house instead of removing them you are supposed to wait until they migrate and then attempt to seal up all possible entrances (which is difficult because they need less than an inch wide opening to get in) and then it’s suggested that you get a bat box so they will hopefully move in there.

      7. Wendy Darling*

        People put up bat houses where I live because we have a bigger problem with standing water and mosquitos spreading disease than we do with rabies from bats. We do have rabies here but less than we have West Nile Virus, apparently.

      8. Bat viruses*

        For info (without getting too much into the virology): bats in the UK do not carry the ‘standard’ rabies virus therefore we can be considered rabies-free. But they can still carry another rabies virus and as a result you can contract rabies if you are in direct contact with bats. So if you are ever in contact with a bat, even somewhere considered rabies-free, you should seek medical advice. (And waking up and finding a bat in the room is considered contact because you cannot know if it bit you or not while you were asleep, again even in the UK)

    4. Anonymoose*

      From the mention of a council, I’m guessing the letter writer is in the UK, where I think the bats are not so rabid as in the US.

      Still, putting them inside sounded a bit off. They need to get outside to feed.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Wait, so in addition to 20 weeks vacation, two years parental leave, free healthcare and university for all, you ALSO have less rabid bats?!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I worked briefly in a vet’s office years ago, and I recall a woman preparing for a movie to Hawaii who brought her dog in MUTLIPLE times for rabies shots, certificates, etc. a full year ahead of time. And she had to arrange for the quarantine for him once he got there–I forget the time span but it was in months. They do not mess around.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Whoops, nesting fail.

            But yeah, islands tend to be very, very, very stern on what comes in and out given they are so vulnerable to invasion/infestation.

          2. Wendy Darling*

            My MIL used to always ask why we didn’t bring our dog with us when we visited them. In another country. That is a rabies-free island.

            The quarantines would have been longer than our visits!

    5. Bluebird*

      Many bat species are also endangered though, and there are lots of wildlife programs in place to protect them. Depending on where you live, rabies may not be an issue and and you may be able to put nesting boxes near human habitats. I kind of doubt they could go inside an office space, but on the outside? Sure.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        The idea with the bat boxes is you are giving them alternate nesting/roosting spaces so you are less likely to have them come into your house.

        At least that is what the conservation officer that was putting up bat boxes in my childhood neighborhood told us. And yes, it was a combination project because the aim was also to naturally control the explosively growing mosquito population.

    6. I edit everything*

      There is a library in Spain (I think) that has bats inside to control book-damaging bugs. I don’t know how they keep the bats from damaging the books (guano, for example), but there’s precedent for indoor bats.

      1. Allison K*

        The library is the Joanina Library in Coimbra Portugal, and it’s one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever been in! There is a crew who lay down leather sheets over all flat surfaces every night and clean them up in the morning. It’s also a very grand library and quite high ceilings but not actually all that large (it’s basically one large room in three sections and it’s about 60m x 10m total) so the bat cleanup probably isn’t overwhelming. Look up photos if you get a chance – it’s really quite lovely.

        1. Sun in an Empty Room*

          Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for the information. Portugal is high on my travel wish-list and this would be a must-see destination for me!

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Is that the same as the Mafra Palace Library? Atlas Obscura did a podcast on it and it’s fascinating (link in next comment).

        3. I edit everything*

          I’ve seen photos of it and would love to visit someday! The night/morning routine is comforting to know about, but talk about labor intensive. I kind of wonder if it’s worth it. Most libraries don’t need bats, after all.

    7. Observer*

      The thing is that the OP no longer has any credibility here. Keep in mind that they have worked there for 2 years and have managed to rack up over 10 complaints, and they consider that to be “minimal”.

      Based on the other example they mention, the complaints they have been making are about the company just doing the thing they were founded for. The OP doesn’t sound like they are complaining about the health risks of bats, but about the fact that this is yet another prop in a place they seem to think should not have props.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Yes, this OP is very much about how this office job is HER only escape from a woeful existence of dirty manual labor and they therefore OWE it to her to make it better for her. The ONLY complaint I would actually support her on is if they did take her property as a prop without her permission. Why hasn’t the business fired her? Who is she making these “complaints” to?

          1. Worldwalker*

            I’d argue it’s necessarily harsh.

            The only complaint-worthy thing seems to be the business with the jelly and eyeballs. And given the tone of the rest of the letter, I have to wonder what actually happened there, and with what.

            The OP took a job in a business she hates. She’s complaining that there are “robotics, costumes, and prop objects” in a business whose whole business is making robotics, costumes, and prop objects! Which she knew before she took the job there.

            This is on a par with someone going to work for McDonald’s and then complaining that they sell hamburgers.

      2. JSPA*

        As I read it, the complaints are from the public, about the coworkers going overboard (and destroying people’s stuff). Not about the letter writer.

        “don’t pour your gloppy stuff in an unconsenting person’s handbag” is a totally reasonable limit; but OP is not the person who can enforce that limit. People touching you or ruining your stuff is lawyer time, but not for OP.

        1. Marcia*

          Where do you get that from? I’m confused since OP writes:
          I’ve kept my complaints to what I thought was minimal, but the number of official logged complaints about the four people is in double digits.

          OP wrote they thought they kept their complaints to a minimum, but they’ve realized they didn’t do that, because they’ve lodged complaints numbering in the double-digits. There’s no indication the public is going into the office (why would they?) and the OP specifically says that the general public sentiment is supportive of the organization. Also, the OP wrote that there was a ruined handbag that was used as a prop (ie, could very well be an old bag someone seized from the thrift store and brought it), not that it was stolen.

          1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

            I agree with Marcia. I don’t read this as other people have made complaints, just the OP. It’s all one sentence, “I’ve kept my complaints to what I thought was minimal, but the number of official logged complaints about the four people is in double digits.” No one else is logging complaints.

        2. Observer*

          As I read it, the complaints are from the public, about the coworkers going overboard (and destroying people’s stuff). Not about the letter writer.

          It’s not clear whether the bag was taken and then ruined, or it was already ruined. But it is pretty clear that it’s the OP who is making the complaints. They say: “ I’ve kept my complaints to what I thought was minimal, but the number of official logged complaints about the four people is in double digits.

          Agreed that if the place took their bag and ruined it, that’s a problem. But they also go on about how the place is full of props and their coworker has multiple Halloween themed tattoos.

        3. ArcticShimmer*

          I read it like that too. The OP’s complaints are at minimum, but the official complaints aren’t, as in OP’s aren’t the official complaints.

          1. Worldwalker*

            But who else would be complaining about the four people in question, aside from the ones who work with them?

            The OP says she’s kept her complaints to a minimum, so it would seem that this is all one category of complaints; if there was a second category, outside complaints, she would have said that. “I’ve kept my complaints to a minimum, but outside complaints have reached two figures.”

            Doing my best to parse this, I think it’s the OP who’s doing all the relevant complaining.

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          Agreed. This read as many complaints but the town (with the help of the local paper!) deciding she’s the Judas goat and piling on her.

      3. yala*

        Complaining about someone filling your purse with jelly seems reasonable, but it also seems like such an utterly bizarre thing to do that I’m not sure I understand the context. Did someone just take it and do it as a prank? If so, then yeah, that sucks and should be addressed.

        But like…it just sounds like OP really doesn’t like Halloween. Which, I mean. Different strokes (tbh I love Halloween, but I also haaaaate Big Moving Decorations and the smell/feel of a lot of latex props)

        1. Worldwalker*

          The way it’s written leaves me confused as to whose purse was filled with jelly. Wouldn’t the OP have said “my purse”? Whose was it?

    8. Dinwar*

      I think it’s a misapplication of what is, fundamentally, a good idea.

      Bats are at risk, and some species are endangered. The Indiana Bat, for example, was one of the first species protected by the Endangered Species Act. Putting up bat boxes is a pretty common, low-cost way to help them out (and, by extension, mitigate bug problems without using rather wildly toxic chemicals [seriously, some of these are made using material seized from Nazi chemical weapons stockpiles–that comes from a guy who did the environmental monitoring on a pesticide plant]). I did it as a kid, and a number of boy scout troops and environmental sanctuaries do it on a regular basis. This sort of thing is actively encouraged pretty much everywhere, given the threats to bat populations.

      The issue is the “in the building” part. If it was outside the building, that would be fine–even environmentally beneficial. Inside it’s detrimental to everyone. To people, for the reasons you list. But it’s bad for the bats as well. Bats aren’t domesticated and don’t like to be around people. We terrify the poor things. Further, businesses are open when most bats like to sleep, meaning you’d be disrupting their natural cycles and causing undue stress to the critters. And I can’t imagine the fumes from any sort of prop shop would be good for them. Humans are pretty big and can handle a certain level of atmospheric toxicity, but bats are orders of magnitude smaller and VASTLY more delicate.

      If this were me, I’d contact a local wildlife sanctuary and ask them to partner with the business. A good option would be to put the business’ logo on bat boxes throughout the community, in places where the boxes would be beneficial to the bats. This helps the bats, while at the same time advertising the business in a suitably spooky manner. If you absolutely must have it inside the building, set it up so the entrance for the bats is outside, there’s a plexiglass barrier between people and the bats, and the area is kept dark and quiet. People could still view the bats a few at a time, without overly disrupting them.

      1. br_612*

        I’m not sure we can determine that the boxes are IN building and not outside but maybe up against windows. Like for bird feeders. LW is not the most reliable of narrators and doesn’t seem to actually know the details of the nesting box plan.

        Or that these aren’t bats being actively rehabbed (like juvenile bats separated from their mothers too soon) that will be released.

        1. Captain underpants*

          This sounds like a tough situation. It isn’t a good fit between you and your work, but there are limited opportunities. I wonder if there are ways that you can mitigate the amount this situation annoys you other than lodging complaints. Some ideas I have are:
          1. trying to work a hybrid schedule or a flex schedule where you come in earlier and leave earlier or vice versa so that actual number of hours present with coworkers is fewer.
          2. get some good headphones and wear them at work
          3. see if you can get a locking drawer or cabinet where you can keep your personal effects
          4. decorate your personal area in a way that is soothing to you
          5. set aside a little time each day to interact with your coworkers on a personal level and see if there are other things that you have in common. these can form other bases for conversation in the office. even if it turns out that you don’t have much else in common, you can learn about the Halloween passion and see things that you can respect in that. I’m married to someone with an annoying and all consuming hobby that I could resent, but by taking a little time each day to appreciate this hobby that I don’t care about, I can draw out aspects that I really do respect. even years and years later, I’m still learning about it so I’m sure you can too.
          6. Ask the other employees what is on their schedule that day. maybe there are times when the office space will be loud and maybe there are times that everyone can coordinate their quiet activities together so that you get a little break. Ask about instituting a quiet hour “hey, most of the phone calls we get happen mid morning. would it be possible for us to plan on keeping the office quiet from 10-11 each day so that I can handle those?”
          7. figure out to what extent these things are interfering in your ability to do your job and push back on those, versus what is just annoying. go ahead and file your complaints about those ones.
          8. see about setting up a weekly team meeting which might be a great time to come at problems and concerns collaboratively. worried about the bats? bring it up at the meeting and see what questions need to be answered for you all to feel comfortable about the bats or if there is a different compromise to have, maybe the bats don’t go to the office but the bat organization works with you in a different way like an “adopt-a-bat” donation and you can get a picture of a bat instead of a real bat in exchange for a donation. maybe your coworkers would love that!

      2. Albanie*

        Nobody is putting bat boxes inside. OP is not telling the truth about this. Maybe they are confused. But that is definitely not a thing that anyone has ever suggested is a good idea.

    9. danmei kid*

      Bat guano is hazardous! When bats nest in a home you’re supposed to call in professional cleaners in protective gear to remove the droppings (I know this from experience with our attic). Bats do not belong in an office for the health of both bats and humans. A bat charitable organization would KNOW that.

      1. Lydia*

        It’s unlikely the bats are meant to be inside. The OP is misunderstanding the situation or they are misrepresenting the situation.

    10. JSPA*

      From the internet: Countries generally recognised as rabies-free: American Samoa, Antigua, Aruba, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, England, Fiji, French Polynesia (Tahiti), Guam, Hawaii, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Malta, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Saint Lucia, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, St.

      It’s still really bad to encourage people in other countries, who also watch clips on the internet, to get up close and personal with bats. If you’re not in a rabies-free enclave, put bat boxes on the OUTSIDE the house, clean up any droppings with gloves and/or appropriate disinfectant.

      1. Phryne*

        I find Belgium really odd. It is a tiny country with land borders with several other countries not on that list. Do they have nets on the borders?
        Anyway, mainland Europe is not officially rabies-free, but it is very very rare for people to get infected. Since 1977 there have been four or five official cases of humans infected while in Europe. One in Scotland (which makes its inclusion on the above list strange), one in Finland, two or three in Russia. All other cases of rabies were contracted by people travelling abroad.
        (source: RIVM, Dutch state institute for Health and Environment)

    11. RussianInTexas*

      My city put up bats boxes around our couple parks in conjunction with Boy Scouts.
      Inside thought – nope.

      1. MissElizaTudor*

        That’s really quite reasonable to do. Bats are an important part of many ecosystems and they’re important to agriculture, since they both eat a whole lot of bugs and pollinate plants. An office is a horrible place for bat boxes (so much so that I doubt that part is accurate), but a park is a good place for them.

    12. SK midwest*

      I assumed based on the reference to “council funding” that this business was in the UK – and the UK has been rabies free for 100 years.

    13. Lea*

      Yes!! That was the only extremely reasonable complaint and it seems nuts that they would consider bats inside for a lot of reasons? A bat box out doors though is actually rather popular in many places.

      The other stuff just sounds like stuff she’s not into.

      She could began by shouting ‘children of the night, shut up!’ When annoyed lol

    14. Be Gneiss*

      For real. I believe it’s still recommended that if you find a bat in a room where a person sleeps, that person needs rabies shots. Not that you’d sleep in the office, but rabies in bats is no joke, and no legitimate bat-centric organization is going to pushing for indoor office-bats.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That is the standard, yes. (I do the mammal bite/risk reporting for my hospital system to our state health department.)

      2. Draculata*

        I have had two rounds of rabies shots, long stories both. I used to work for a municipal health department. Rabies is transmitted by bodily fluids. You don’t need to be bitten. If you are sleeping and a bat is in your house, theoretically, you could get bat pee on you–like an open wound or in your mouth. Chances are very, very low that this could happen, but rabies is 99% not survivable. So don’t take a chance.

        1. AnonDVM*

          Veterinarian here- this is incorrect. Rabies is transmitted only through saliva, no other bodily fluids. A bite gets it into the bloodstream. The other way is saliva onto a mucous membrane (mouth, external female genitalia).
          Bats can however have very small pinprick bites that people don’t feel.

          1. Albanie*

            People always say this about imperceptible bites, but I ask you– if nobody ever felt them then how do we know they were bitten at all? How are we recording the incidences of imperceptible bites? Bats bite HARD and it HURTS.

        2. Albanie*

          Bat biologist here. This is nonsense. Rabies is only transmitted via saliva, and the virus also dies after a couple of seconds outside of the body. The scenario you are describing is fantastical.

    15. ccb*

      honestly, i do not believe the writer about the bats in the office. i think they mean the bats will maybe be on the property…outside and this writer is just trying to amp up the wackiness/unsafeness of the office.

    16. Beebee*

      You would think after COVID companies would be like “bats in an office are 100% a terrible idea” ….. we don’t need more people getting sick !

      1. Worldwalker*

        I’m pretty sure that’s not what they’re planning.

        Let’s say they trapped a bunch of bats and brought them into the office. (never mind that no sane organization would do this; pretend they did) Those bats would need to eat. Unless they also intend to release thousands of bugs in the office, they’d have to let the bats outside to eat. And that would be the end of *that*, because the bats sure as heck wouldn’t come back in!

    17. Wicker Incident*

      This is interesting because my college dorm building had bats. On the inside. No bath houses. I don’t think they were intentional bats.

      Do I have rabies?

    18. Lucy P*

      Due to roof issues, we’ve had a few bats in the office this year, including one that was hanging upside down on the ceiling grid. They seemed either sleeping or dead.

      No one else batted an eyelash at them, but I’m definitely with you and OP on the no bat thing.

      The rest of it does seem unchangeable.

    19. Student*

      I just assumed the wildlife charity was advertising – as in, had given the office an empty, unoccupied, probably new bat box to help advertise them and get out the word to bat-lovers. With the intention that people buy bat boxes from the charity and hang them up outside in appropriate places.

      Seems like a natural explanation, and keeps to what the letter writer actually said: “The latest is a wildlife charity wanting to put nesting boxes for actual BATS! in the office. “

      The letter writer carefully did not say they were raising or housing actual bats. If there were living bats inside the office, I’m pretty sure the letter writer would’ve phrased it differently, to focus on the bats and not on the bat box.

      1. Marcia*

        Yep. If they were literally bringing bats into the office to live, the OP would have said that, because that’s a reasonable thing to have an issue with. OP seems to have an issue with the existence of a box because it is associated with bats. Good golly.

        1. Vanellope*

          In the very next sentence she says they will be blogging about and videoing the bats for publicity. There are definitely live bats involved, I think the key piece of information is if they are planned to be actually in the office or outside/near the office.

          1. Marcia*

            Blogging about and videoing yes, but OP doesn’t say the bats will be in the office. They say the boxes are currently in the office, and they will be used for bats. Who reads that and thinks anyone is literally bringing the bats inside rather than the boxes are inside, and once they’re installed outdoors the bats will nest in them?

    20. MicroChic*

      I came here to save us. If there are outside spots on the property owned by the business where the bats can nest, that’s great.

      In the office itself puts the employees at risk for rabies, the building at risk for damage and guano, and the bats at risk for being severely stressed out by people being close while they are trying to sleep during the day.

      I really hope the OP meant “property owned by the business“ when they said in the office. Since it is a rural area, there being outside green space isn’t that far fetched.

      1. Worldwalker*

        The bats wouldn’t be trying to sleep there during the day.

        They’d leave the first night and not come back.

        Bats like to roost in quiet, undisturbed places. That is the exact opposite of an office.

    21. goddessoftransitory*

      And if I’m reading this right; the workers want the bat nest boxes INSIDE? The office?

      Because no. Bats are communal and highly sensitive nocturnal animals that hunt and live by sound–to subject them to electronic witch cackles and yelled movie lines day in and out would be, with no exaggeration, torture for them. I cannot believe any reputable wildlife organization would okay such a plan. I am super super not down with the idea of using any living creature, let alone endangered ones, as props because Halloween obsessed people have decided it’s cool. This is no different than that manager that wanted everyone to adopt turtles and take them home every weekend.

      And we haven’t even talked about the guano.

      (Now, if they mean simply building a bat box outside, with a camera OUTSIDE the box, and responsible bat organization employees monitoring, that’s another thing.)

    22. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Are the bats actually going to be IN the office or just like in the general area, like on the property. Because there are a lot of diseases that you can get besides rabies from bats. Heck google bat guano disease and you will find a load of information.

      Bats are great and I like what the wildlife program is trying to do but they need to do this safely away from where you are working and breathing daily!

    23. Fiddle Faddle*

      Aside from the rabies and bacteria, bats are little virus factories in general. They have amazing immune systems that allow them to live with these viruses without getting sick, but the viruses definitely can affect other species and some of the viruses are deadly. Examples: SARS 1, SARS-CoV-2, and Marburg virus.

      Bats are awesome, but they need to be awesome outdoors and only around knowledgeable people.

    24. KMW*

      I know you’re supposed to believe the LW but I feel like there has to be some kind of misunderstanding?? Like, the nesting boxes were going to be attached to the building but the openings are outside?

    25. OlympiasEpiriot*

      The LW said “council”, which makes me think this is the UK. If so, rabies isn’t endemic in their bats, afaik.

    26. Anon Supervisor*

      Humans shouldn’t really be near where bats roost because of their guano. It’s not great to breathe and can cause some respiratory problems.

    27. Red 5*

      I’m sure other people who are more well versed in this than me are going to address this, but I just want to say that this kind of blanket black and white thinking about many animals, but bats in particular, is actually part of why humans are doing such a great job at really wrecking ecosystems all over the place.

      There are both good and bad things about bats, about any animal. It’s better to learn the full truth and be well versed in it than to generalize that “bats are vectors for deadly disease and are therefore bad and never belong near humans.” Putting up bat boxes around human is not hazardous. It -may- be in -some- contexts and -some- areas of the country. But even that is unlikely. Humans who are not trained and prepared should not interact directly with wild animals, in general. Putting up bat boxes on a property that people work at does not qualify as a direct interaction.

      Bats are actually great, and no, you don’t want one in your house, but that’s as much for their protection as yours.

    28. JJ*

      Between 3-10% of bats submitted for testing are found to be rabid. Bats tested for rabies are more likely to test positive for rabies because they tend to be sick and injured; less than 1% of bats in the wild are infected with rabies.

  2. Justin*

    Seems like a bad situation for OP, though as a neurodivergent eccentric, kinda feels like how I have felt in many standard offices. I wanna visit the store!

    (That said, many ND folks clash because we are all very different, but having space to be how we are without judgment is key, and unfortunately it doesn’t always gel with others).

  3. Sylvan*

    As I read, I thought that these people were definitely not your ideal coworkers, but I might vibe with them. Until:

    …the number of official logged complaints about the four people is in double digits. As an example, one was about a ruined handbag that had been seized as a prop and filled with jelly and rubber eyeballs.

    Oh no. Lmao, but oh no.

    After I submitted a complaint about the plans to move bats in, the local newspaper ran a massive double spread about the Halloween grinch trying to destroy this deeply loved community enterprise.

    This can’t be for real??

    Because this is your least-bad employment option, and it’s still apparently a disaster, could you and your son move? I realize that’s expensive and much easier said than done, but you’re really unhappy here!

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Agreed. The job isn’t the only thing bringing the LW down. They live in a community that thinks it’s ok to call them a Grinch and bully them for having concerns about working in an office with live bats (!!!). I don’t think I’d want to live there or work there.

      1. Sylvan*

        That part might not have really happened. Maybe OP came up with the bat story to replace a potentially identifying story. I was so curious that I Googled it and didn’t find anything.

          1. Clobberin' Time*

            Yes, it’s interesting that the letter is full of such details and specifics and yet nobody can find it. Normally OPs will say something like “think of a business that focuses on Halloween stuff, although it’s not that.”

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              Alison asks that we not try to identify posters. This and some other comments seem to be crossing that line.

              1. Dawn*

                I don’t necessarily disagree with you on strict interpretation but nobody is posting anything identifying here; they’re pointing out that there’s nothing identifying to be found, because even with some of the stuff we do see on AAM every day, it’s tough to believe that this one passes the smell test.

                The fact that nobody can find ANYTHING in spite of some of the minute details in this letter is…. potentially noteworthy.

                1. Dawn*

                  I’ve worked as a journalist, and I’ve worked in sales, and one thing that’s common to both of them is that over-specificity in relating a story and an excess of irrelevant but, uh, detailed details, is a strong sign of a fraudulent account.

                  I know we’re supposed to believe posters but…. this is the first letter I’ve seen where I just cannot.

                2. Red 5*

                  @Dawn I’m having the same reaction. For someone who states in the letter that they’ve recently taken a beating in the local media because even though it didn’t name them, everybody could tell who they mean, writing in to a very popular internet column with this much identifying detail is…suspicious.

                  I’m also running on the assumption that they greatly changed the details without saying specifically that they are, but while that doesn’t change the advice Alison gives (or the advice I would give) it feels…disingenuous.

                3. Dawn*

                  @Red 5 and I think the other thing about that is that, sure, it would make sense if they changed the identifying details! But if you apply most of the unusually-detailed scenarios here to any other holiday, it just doesn’t really work.

                  As someone else here pointed out, what in the world else could the bats be? Bunnies, for Easter? No wildlife charity is working to preserve rabbits unless they are very specific species, in which case no conservation group is putting them in random offices in a western nation. Reindeer? Nobody is putting reindeer in offices, obviously. Leprechauns maybe.

                  And what’s the replacement for a haunted house here, for “screams and cackles,” for the Halloween movie lines, the handbag, the guy with the Halloween tattoos and Halloween-themed kid names?

                  It’s barely believable as it stands but it ONLY works if it’s Halloween and if the details are accurate, somebody would have found something about this apparently statewide Halloween organization.

                4. Emmy Noether*

                  I agree. I know reality is stranger than fiction, but something about the way this story is told feels… off. Maybe identifying details were replaced and that makes it feel that way, but I don’t buy it as-is.

          2. Sylvan*

            Yeah, but I wouldn’t expect to find stories about the others online unless the person whose purse was messed with made a call-out post. Which I would be absolutely delighted to read, by the way.

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          I did the same and came up with nothing, but if it was truly the “local” newspaper most of those don’t have online presences.

          1. Warrior Princess Xena*

            Yeah, tiny newspapers and tiny towns for that matter don’t always have an online presence, and this might not even be in the US which could limit it further.

          2. Kelly L.*

            Nah, if anything a lot of “local newspapers” have been bought by large corporations in recent years and are *more* likely to be online.

            1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

              I’m not talking about local newspaper like an actual newspaper. The “local newspapers” are the ones with a circulation of everyone in the small suburban town because it’s free. Most of them have one part time employee, use freelancers who don’t get paid, moms send in articles about their kid’s band event, etc.

              1. Red 5*

                Depends, actually a lot of those are solely online these days. Maybe it’s different in the midwest than here on the east coast, but having no online presence at all is astonishingly rare.

                Now, do those papers or organizations have good SEO and do they post things in any kind of coherent way that would be easily searchable? Not really at all, no. But between having their own site, and other social media outlets, most things above a church bulletin are online somehow these days. Not saying it’s not possible, just very rare.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I suspect the problem here may be more that OP took the least bad job option, and there have been other complaints through their tenure – enough so that when they files what sounds to be a legitimate compliant (about the bat boxes plan), it’s seen as just one more complaint in the series.

        OP – I get that you live someplace where options are very limited, and I feel for you about that, but really and unfortunately you and this job are just not a good match.

        1. Observer*

          and there have been other complaints through their tenure – enough so that when they files what sounds to be a legitimate compliant (about the bat boxes plan), it’s seen as just one more complaint in the series.

          That’s almost certainly the case. Keep in mind that they’ve made over 10 complaints in 2 years, they think that this is “minimal” and they simply don’t like the idea that there are “robotics, costumes, and prop projects” in the office despite that being the raison de etre of this place.

          You, like “the boy who cried wolf”.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            I’m unclear if the OP made all the double-digit complaints or if in addition to the OP’s complaints, there have been other people making them.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I’m unclear as well if all the complaints came from OP – but at the end of the day this really sounds to me like a person who is trying to make a job work despite that job not being a good fit for them. I’m sympathetic about the fact they aren’t in a place with lots of other options, but this really isn’t the job for them.

            2. Wicked Annabella*

              I read it as other people in the community were making the “double digits” complaints, in addition to OP’s own complaints /concerns.

              I’ve worked with a guy (for a volunteer org.) who was very popular on the outside and loved being the public persona for our org., but was very disorganized and micromanaging and financially irresponsible to us on the inside.

              So the quartet may be loved by people who don’t have to work with them or don’t have to put out fires. And possibly OP isn’t really suited for this type of enthusiasm. But to publish a whole spread on how “the grinch” is taking away their joy, that’s just too much!

              1. AnxietyRobot*

                I feel like the complaints have to just be OP– if there were other people in the community contributing double digit complaints, it wouldn’t fit for everyone to be against the OP because of the bat complaint. Surely at least the other complainers would have sympathy?

                1. Oxford Comma*

                  Not necessarily. Sometimes people are so into what they are doing that any critique is viewed with hostility so maybe other people are complaining and the complaints are dismissed. I don’t know if that’s the case here and it certainly sounds like this job is just not the right fit for the OP, but it’s worth raising as a possibility.

                2. doreen*

                  Absolutely people take criticism as hostility and tend to dismiss complaints. But assuming the newspaper that ran a massive double spread is indeed an actual newspaper (rather than some organization’s newsletter ) it’s really unlikely that they published something so one-sided unless the community viewpoint was that one-sided. It’s really hard to imagine that more than one other person was complaining and that the newspaper still ran a double spread about the grinch. And the LW talking about how the locals know who the villain is , their son wanting to change his name and how they will be stuck working in a manual or service job where “everybody hates me” doesn’t sound to me like there are others who are opposed to this enterprise.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            I didn’t read it as they made the 10 complaints personally. I thought there were other staff/people they work with in the mix for the “double-digit” comment. Although now I’m not sure.

    2. The Real Fran Fine*

      Even if moving isn’t an option, maybe OP can try applying for remote jobs that aren’t in that city just to serve as a buffer until she can come up with a plan for what to do next. I think the idea of this company is very cool and would mostly love it, minus the mess about the damaged purse (my bags are expensive for the most part, so we would have some serious problems, lol) – however, I totally get how you have to be a certain kind of person to enjoy this kind of atmosphere.

      1. High Score!*

        If they are this unhappy in the town they live in then they should find a way to move. Maybe to a nearby city with more job options.

        1. Tau*

          Maybe it’s that I am a very nomadic sort of person myself but this also went through my mind and I was confused OP didn’t seem to consider it in the letter. It’s really hard to imagine OP being able to be happy where they’re currently living ever at this point (or their son – thinking of changing his name, seriously?!) and physically removing themselves to somewhere else would solve a ton of problems. If they think the entire town hates them and thinks they’re a Grinch they can hardly have much of a social circle they’d leave behind, either!

          1. Lydia*

            Either we are being pranked by this LW or this person is really detached from their role in this situation.

          2. Minimal Pear*

            Oh man I totally misread the letter the first time through–I thought the son was changing his name because he’s trans!

        2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          This. Normally I wouldn’t suggest moving, but they seem just as unhappy with the town as with the job.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            They aren’t even really positive anywhere in the letter about their neighbors. The tone of the whole letter is how this place is so backwards and small, it does make me wonder why they haven’t investigated moving to someplace with more employment options (that don’t involve the manual labor they are so needlessly dismissive of. Trash collectors are manual labor that most of us don’t initially think of becoming but that the rest of us wouldn’t want to live without).

      2. Worldwalker*

        Remote work seems like a good option. Technology has made it increasingly possible, even for jobs like call center workers. My imprinted-pens account rep lives in Jamaica. (and keeps telling me about the coffee…)

        The OP doesn’t want to work in shops, doesn’t want to work on a farm, doesn’t want to do a “manual or service job” … just wants *this* job rearranged to her liking. Um … no. That’s not how it works.

        Get a remote job. Get a McJob. Get a shop or farm or manual or service job. Stop complaining about the one you have!

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          And honestly – there are “Manual Labor” jobs that have very good rates of Pay: plumber, electrician, mechanics, etc. if nobody was willing to do the manual labor jobs we as a large city civilization would be so out of luck – because how long do you think the average city would last if it had to produce all its own food?
          And, well, garbage……don’t think I need to say more about that.

          Without manual labor no larger city would survive…..honestly Mike Rowe had it right, “It’s a Dirty Job, but SOMEONE’S got to do it.”

          1. Irish Teacher*

            There’s nothing at all wrong with manual labour jobs, but…the LW might not be suited to them. I would make a TERRIBLE plumber, electrician, etc. I’m scared of heights and germs, have little or no spacial awareness, am pretty clumsy…I don’t think anybody in their senses would let me loose with tools. It’s not that those jobs don’t pay well; it’s just that I have no talent for or interest in them.

            1. Red 5*

              I 100% agree with you (I also would make a terrible plumber or electrician and health problems mean any manual labor is just out of the question) but at the same time, there’s an undercurrent to the LW’s tone that implies that it goes beyond not having an interest in or being unsuited to manual labor. But I could just be reading that into it because it’s often there when people talk about these things.

        2. Azure+Jane+Lunatic*

          On a practical note, while the individual and corporate tech levels are pretty good for remote work, internet quality tends to get worse the smaller and less well funded the town is. My experience is all US-based, but depending on how remote & how expensive it is to run high speed internet, it may be less of an option if the employer requires video chat or transfer of a lot of big files.

    3. Dances with Flax*

      It can absolutely be “for real”! This is the shadow side of cancel culture; it CAN be used to unmistakably signal massive disapproval of an abuser (cf Prince Andrew), no matter how highly placed that person is. But it can also pile on and clobber an individual who is simply expressing reasonable concerns; would any readers like to have THEIR purses, book bags or briefcases ruined by being filled with messy food? (No, I didn’t think so!)

      LW, Alison is right; this is not the job for you. It does sound as if management is not proactive and is not planning to be; if your company has double-digit complaints about working conditions, then you are clearly NOT the only employee who finds them irritating! But it’s also clear that management is well aware that attempting to change those annoyances will result in their being pilloried in the local press for being “mean” to the neurodivergent individuals in the office, so they’re not going to do a blessed thing. Find another position – possibly working remotely – because your workplace isn’t going to change and your managers aren’t going to address the complaints they’re getting.

      1. Marcia*

        would any readers like to have THEIR purses, book bags or briefcases ruined by being filled with messy food? (No, I didn’t think so!)

        Except… the OP is very, very careful to not say that it was their handbag and it was stolen. If that was true, why be so vague and wishy washy when that’s a clear not ok thing? Why say “a ruined handbag was seized” (no mention of whose bag, implies it was already ruined, the whole letter is taking issue with the mere existence of the props)? Just say “my coworker stole my bag to fill it with jelly” (well, OP shouldn’t since it doesn’t seem to be true, but if it was the case.)

        1. Joielle*

          Yeah, I thought the same thing about the handbag. (And the bats – I REALLY do not think a wildlife charity is going to put bats INSIDE the office. That’s just… not how that works. At most, they’re installing bat houses on the outside of the building near the windows or something.) It sounds like the OP is describing things in a misleading way to try to make them seem objectively bad, when really it’s just that the OP personally doesn’t like the business.

        2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          Similarly for the line about “the number of official logged complaints about the four people is in double digits.” Strangely worded in the passive voice. Who logged these complaints? The LW? Other employees? Customers? The four founders, against each other?

        3. yala*

          Yeah, I get that OP is trying to word things vaguely enough to not be identifiable (reasonable), but the result is…I’m not actually sure what’s happening. What *exactly* was the issue with the handbag incident–did it belong to someone who didn’t agree to have it filled with jelly? Or does OP just not like a sticky, gooey prop?

          Is the bat box actually proposed to be *inside* the office, even though that would be difficult-to-impossible to do, or is it proposed to be *near* the office?

          Overall, I’m more confused than anything.

          1. Edge Witch*

            I’m wracking my brain trying to make sense of the handbag thing. The most plausible story I’ve got is that someone asked if anyone had an old handbag they weren’t using anymore that they’d be willing to donate, and OP or someone said yes. They brought it in the next day thinking it was going to be used for a costume or given to someone in need or…something?…and when they saw that it had been filled with jelly and rubber eyeballs they became upset that it had been “ruined” instead of put to what they considered to be a good use.

            That’s me doing a bunch of storytelling to even get there, but I have a hard time imagining someone stalking through the office until their eyes lit on an unsupervised purse that they then picked up, dumped all of the owner’s stuff out of it, and then filled it with jelly and eyeballs. And if that actually is what happened, I’d expect a lot more explanation and outrage than the mildly-worded half-sentence the OP relegated this story to.

            1. N C Kiddle*

              The story I imagined was that someone grabbed an old bag from a thrift store to use as a prop, and it got mixed up with someone’s actual bag. Lots of intense anger, but they made it right afterwards and there were no lasting hard feelings except from OP, who took it as confirmation of all her worst fears about this place. Agreed that if it was OP’s bag she’d have said so, and she needs to be way less involved.

        4. Worldwalker*

          This.

          It seems like the whole letter is carefully slanted to imply things that aren’t actually what is implied. The bat houses in the office, but not actually bats. The handbag full of jelly, but not the OP’s handbag. The complaints, but not outside complaints.

          Yeah, the spin is strong with this one.

        5. pamela voorhees*

          Honestly, the phrasing of it made me think “an already ruined bag was taken as a prop” … which, working in a community theater, is really common. If someone brings in a bag, and it’s busted up, we’re going to use it for something else. For example, we found a bridal gown at a thrift shop, bought it, and tore it up to use it as a costume for Addams Family Musical. The woman whose gown it was actually came to the show, and thought it was hilarious, but I can see a scenario where she’s deeply offended at how we used her dress — which sounds like what OP’s issue is.

      2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        Honestly we don’t know much other than “double digit complaints” and one of those complaints seems legitimate. Honestly double digit complaints over two years for a company that puts on Halloween themed shows, haunted houses and similar type events seems pretty reasonable. How many of those complaints were from people that just think any celebration of Halloween is Satanic and should be banned? From over protective parents who don’t think their precious children should be subject to anything remotely scary? From people that don’t like haunted houses, but went to this haunted house anyway, and are now shocked to find themselves in a haunted house?

        You’d be very surprised by how often stuff like that happens. Our local Ren Faire has a show called the “Washer Wenches”. They take every opportunity to warn people that the show is very bawdy and involves a *lot* of water being thrown around. Inevitably every weekend at least one person complains about clothing being damaged by water or kids hearing inappropriate things. Not surprisingly, Faire management ignores these complaints.

        To be clear, I’m not saying mangement is right or doing everything they can or should to address complaints, *but* it’s not clear that they aren’t doing a pretty good job either. They’re in a business that’s likely to involve some number of complaints no matter how diligent they are. The number and nature of the complaints isn’t clear in the letter, nor how reasonable or appropriate most of them are.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Have seen the Washing Wenches show – and can vouch for just how many warnings there are about it before the show starts. My thoughts didn’t initially go there, but I think it’s a great example to use here.

          Also – we don’t know who is filing the complaints – but the fact that the bat box complaint got such an over the top response in the local paper makes me wonder if quite a few of the complaints have been filed by OP.

        2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

          Oh, I love the Washer Wenches show! I make sure to catch it every year when I go to Ren Faire!

        3. Lab Boss*

          One of my friends ran a comic and game store for years. When he leased his storefront he demanded that the landlord strike out a boilerplate clause about not allowing lewd/immoral behavior from the lease: it was intended to be broad coverage against ideas like topless cashiers or selling drug paraphernalia, but he pointed out to them that selling Dungeons & Dragons supplies and comic books that (gasp) weren’t strictly for kits would definitely get people complaining about his business being immoral.

        4. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, I was thinking double digit complaints about 4 people isn’t that excessive. If each of them had three complaints made against him, that’s double digits. Though a lot DOES depend on the specifics of the complaints. If they are “4 clients complained that Johnny’s haunted house was too scary for their kids” that’s a heck of a lot different than “four people accused Johnny of sexually harrassing them.” If one of them DID prank somebody by filling their bag with goop, that IS unacceptable and worthy of complaint. Though the way it’s phrased DOES allow for the possibility it was a mistake. Like the client was asked if they had anything that could be used for props and they offered some items, but also left their handbag down and the guy assumed it was left to be used for a prop?

          It sounds like the LW is at BEC status with the entire company. Some of the complaints are legitimate whereas others sound very minor.

          I also must say I find it a bit odd that one of the very few people in town who opposes this company is somebody working for them. I am sort of surprised she kept her job after being outed as “the person behind the vendetta against this awesome company.” Seems like her bosses are more reasonable than the townspeople.

          When I say “odd,” I just mean that it highlights just how much this is the wrong job for her. She seems more opposed to the company she works for than…people with no vested interest in it. This may be because it is actually more dysfunctional than it seems from the outside or it may be that she is just REALLY not suited to this company.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I live next to a town with an amusement park that traditionally converts to a haunted amusement park during October. The new general manager visited the show last year with her small children (it’s advertised as a teens-and-up attraction), and it SCARED them, so she’s not going to let the park do the Haunt this year. It is a HUGE moneymaker–and a lot of employees quit because it’s the high point of the year for them. (Imagine getting paid to scare the customers instead of acting like “the customer is always right” no matter how rude or ignorant they are!) If the Haunt scared people, they’re doing it right! And it’s not meant for small kids.

            The friends who told me this story are part of the local “Haunt culture” and would love to work at this company. They also run a volunteer fundraiser haunted trail/maze, which is usually the only kid-friendly Halloween attraction in the area. Well, they do a couple hours of kid-friendly before dark. Then they switch over to scary mode. (The braver kids/parents do both! Yay, double ticket sales!)

            They routinely get complaints from people who just didn’t understand that performers are gonna jump out and scare you during the scary hours. Or that there will be skulls and scary props in the Haunt. I don’t think we’ve had any (substantiated) complaints of a performer touching a guest while I’ve been associated with the group. (Sometimes people will reflexively hit a performer who scares them, and some subset of those people will say the performer hit them instead.) I think one of the commercial haunts had a problem with a performer groping a guest, but the one I hang out with doesn’t roll that way. (That haunt also focuses on gross-out stuff so they probably attract a different type of performer than we do.)

            1. Splendid Colors*

              “Would love to work at” the company the LW works for. Some have been performers or prop builders at the amusement park’s Haunt. The shift hours and schedules tend to be pretty grueling, unfortunately.

      3. Hen in a Windstorm*

        This isn’t cancel culture, it’s small town culture. Fit in, do what everyone else does. If you disagree with the narrative, you’re the problem. “Everything was fine until you complained.”

        1. Ducki3x*

          Yeah, 100% this. I grew up in a tiny, rural town, and being an outlier to the norm was brutal, even when you do everything you can to keep your head down. I’ve been out of that place for nearly 30 years, and there are still ways I was treated – for dressing weird, for not liking sports, for not going to church, for being a nerd before it was cool, etc – that make me shake with anger.

          (adult me is VERY tempted to start trolling their trashfire of a Facebook group and every time they start to gang up on someone who isn’t aligning to the town norms, declare that they’re a part of cancel culture and watch them flip out)

        2. Irish Teacher*

          I have a friend from a small town (about a population of 200, definitely nowhere near the borderline of city/town) and she can actually be frustrating in that EVERYTHING is “what will people think?” After my dad died, she asked if we were celebrating Christmas and when I said we were, she said, meaning to be reassuring, “ah, I don’t think people really judge about stuff like that any more.” Um…when it comes to how I deal with my dad’s death, how random people I barely know react is not exactly on my list of concerns. But I think it DOES come from being from that sort of town, where everything you do is judged.

      1. Reality.Bites*

        I’ve read a lot of the comments, but not all, so excuse me if it’s been brought up and I missed it

        One thing I haven’t noticed anyone else wondering about is that regardless of the placement of bat boxes indoors or outdoors and the advisability in either case, WHY would an animal welfare group contract with a bunch of performance artists and decorators to build them? Or is it just to decorate them in some way to make them “spooky” – although in my limited experience, animal welfare people seek to dispel misconceptions about animals, not feed them.

        1. Edge Witch*

          I think this Halloween company probably has a good social media presence. If the wildlife charity installs bat boxes in appropriate locations outside the office then they could, say, wire the boxes with some night-vision cameras to livestream the little guys. Wildlife cams kind of blew up during the pandemic. The livestream plus the Halloween company blogging about what it was like getting the boxes installed, whether living close to bats changed their lives or perspectives in any way, talking about any maintenance or cleanup they have to do for the boxes, maybe sharing a cool story about what it’s like to see an entire bat colony take flight at once (the answer, btw, is Very Cool Indeed)…that sort of attention and advocacy can do a lot of good at the local level. Hell, I’d read that blog!

          1. penny dreadful analyzer*

            Wildlife cams kind of blew up during the pandemic

            Someone in my early pandemic “pod” works in a library and turned me on to what is apparently an entire network/subculture of “livestreams of peregrine falcons nesting on top of tall university library buildings.” The one at UMass Amherst called their stream “Nestflix.” Anyway I learned a lot about falcons

            1. Splendid Colors*

              My city’s City Hall has a peregrine cam. I saw a falcon dining on a squirrel a few blocks away–dunno if it was one of the City Hall raptors or from another park. (The nearby park has a resident red-tailed hawk.)

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      That really annoyed me–the town newspaper is helping to pile on because this woman had the temerity to say I don’t think this was thought through completely? If I were her I’d go to an employment lawyer–there’s no way the paper would have written that without the company members telling them the details.

      1. SAS*

        I think it’s just as likely the reason the newspaper could print that is if they spoke with someone at the organisation who could share that it IS actually well thought through and in line with what the client was asking for as well as within the capabilities of their group.

      2. Wintermute*

        I don’t think a lawyer would have much to do here. It’s not illegal to say an employee complained about something, as long as anything they said about them was true, at least in the US, the LW is in the UK per Alison so that changes things a bit but even so, unlikely to find a case here, even if you DID, you’re already the town pariah for trying to bully these people into changing their ways to suit you– would filing a suit against them really be in your best interest?

      3. Red 5*

        I used to work for a tiny small town paper, the one thing I can say is that the paper may have spoken to somebody at the company to get their side of the story, but it’s unlikely that they were tipped off and that the owners seeded an article in the paper to bully the LW. One of the parts of my job was to attend all of the most boring county government meetings and pull at least one thing from every meeting to make into an article. An official complaint would have to have started some kind of government or court process. If something like this happened in the town where I was working, it would have ended up in our paper without the business telling us about it. If there was any kind of hearing, we might not have even called the business directly for comment and would just have written up what they said at the meeting because it was that much faster.

        I’d have to actually read the article in question to get an idea of what happened, and I don’t want or expect the LW to send that information, so what we’re left with is what is most likely. And that’s the fact that small town reporters are desperate for content, and small town papers will tend to have an explicit bias towards local businesses because that’s where their ad revenue comes from. Still a bad situation to be in, but doesn’t mean deliberate maliciousness and bullying from the employers.

  4. Massive Dynamic*

    Bat bites are quite a rabies risk though – I don’t think this is just this person not vibing with the Halloween stuff. It’s dangerous.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      If that was their only complaint, then, yes, it would definitely be something that should be raised. But I think it’s clear from the letter that even if the bats didn’t happen, OP would still hate the workplace and hate the people. So, getting rid of the bats won’t solve anything long run for OP.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        I get that, but I think the bigger thing is that the whole dang town thinks OP is a halloween-scrooge over taking a stance against a potential OSHA violation, to the point where OP’s son is being bullied too. This town’s lost it’s collective mind, and I say that as someone who’s also super into Halloween.

    2. Non-Essential Librarian*

      I don’t think there’s any way LW is understanding the bat box situation correctly. There is no wildlife organization that would install bat boxes indoors, and if they’re properly installed outdoors there’s no risk or harm to people. I’m a bat fanatic and this idea is absolutely ludicrous and so far beyond the pale that I simply don’t believe LW is stating the facts.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, I know we’re supposed to take letter writers at face value, but this would absolutely not happen. I agree, either the LW is exaggerating for effect, or she wildly misunderstands what’s happening with the bats.

      2. A More Brilliant Orange*

        The idea that they are going to bring live bats inside the building is ludicrous on its face. If for no other reason than it would be an OSHA violation.

        Bats in the outdoors are beneficial. They reduce the insect population and rarely interact with humans or pets. There’s really no downside to having bats in your area.

    3. A More Brilliant Orange*

      Which is why they couldn’t have the bats inside the building even if they wanted to. OSHA would pitch a fit. I think the LW is mistaken about that.

      Bats outdoors are beneficial. They reduce insects. They don’t interact with people or pets. It’s common for people to introduce bats to an area because their benefits to the environment.

    4. LavaLamp (she/her)*

      I don’t think the bat thing is . . . actually having bats live in the office. I see a lot of people who get bat houses from various places and then paint/assemble them and then put them outside where they belong. That’s the most reasonable conclusion I can come to.

    5. Worldwalker*

      I can guarantee that nobody’s planning on putting bats actually *in* the office, for the simple reason that the bats wouldn’t stay there for any longer than it took them to find a way out.

    6. Ashloo*

      Sounds like theft/destruction of property also have occurred at least once in the name of the cause or fun or whatever (filling someone’s purse with jelly? really?). The answer seems to be handling the organization with kid gloves, but OP can dislike Halloween and there can still be a ton of legitimate violations. Sucks that they’re being tarred and feathered for the optics of this org as “underdogs” by a crazy town.

    7. Lemon Curd Nails*

      I also got a UK, possibly New Zealand vibe as some other commenters have said. Rabies is considered eradicated in these countries. I am a little surprised to see hundreds of comments all focusing on the rabies risk when there are plenty of clues that it isn’t a rabid country, plus plenty of clues that it isn’t about the bats.

      1. Anna Badger*

        yeah I am in the UK and am surprised to see bats being talked about as such a health risk, because that’s not really part of the dialogue here – it’s more like, “oh great now I can’t do any work on the loft” (because their habitats are legally protected)

        1. Boof*

          Ot’s frankly the only reasonable complaint i can latch on to, but it doesn’t make any sense (live wild bats indoors??? Does not compute!). Here in the usa reflex is till to get rabies vaccine if you’re just in the same room as a bat (or “might have had some contact with a bat”)

          https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/animals/bats.html
          People and domestic animals should avoid contact with bats. Bats should never be kept as pets.

    8. AngryOwl*

      There is no way a place is going to put live bats inside the office. It’s just not a thing. LW has misunderstood something.

  5. Dust Bunny*

    This sounds very normal . . . within the context of the work they do.

    “the number of official logged complaints about the four people is in double digits. As an example, one was about a ruined handbag that had been seized as a prop and filled with jelly and rubber eyeballs.”

    I can’t tell from the letter who is logging these complaints: Other employees? The handbag one seems legitimate–they shouldn’t be commandeering employee possessions and filling them with jelly, if that’s what happened. But if the other complaints are about the electronics clutter and noises, assuming the place meets OSHA and fire safety standards, etc. . . . y’all are in the wrong jobs.

    And I get that when jobs are thin on the ground it’s hard to hear that your options are to adjust or move on, but I think that’s what they are here. It’s a company that specializes in creepy stuff and automatons; there are going to be shrieking and bats.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Re: The bat boxes. Bat boxes typically go on trees or building exteriors, so are these really going inside the building? Or just on the property? Inside the building is a no-go, and I can’t think how that would be effective, anyway.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah they’re not going to be inside the office. You could absolutely have bat boxes outdoors in the grounds of the office, if it’s an appropriate place for bats, with cameras in them to monitor the bat activity (which, by the way, wouldn’t be weird or creepy or dangerous in any way) but they wouldn’t be in the office itself.

      2. Joanna*

        Yeah, I’m confused about this. The bat boxes can’t be in the office, how would the bats get in? Do they have an anamotronic skeleton that let’s the bats in? And, if the bats are in the office, that’s clearly a health risk considering the high incidence rate of rabies in bats.

        I love bats and have even removed a confused bat from a building once. (Very carefully, even though rabies wasn’t in the area of the bat situation) I would not want to work in an office with wild bats.

        1. Tio*

          An animatronic skeleton opening the door to let the pet bats in sounds amazing and I would go to this place just to see it.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My first instinct was that the bat boxes would be put up outside the facility, away from the brightest lighting as well. Time even in the US lived places that built and installed monitored bat boxes, to try and increase certain targeted bat species. But those boxes were never indoors, and always very well marked as to what they were due to the rabies risk.

    2. Sylvan*

      Maybe some complaints come from customers, because this place is such a mess. Or other disabled/marginalized people who are getting startup funding from the city. They might have made some effort at networking or collaboration and discovered a shitshow.

        1. Sylvan*

          By reading the LW’s letter? I’m not fully taking them at their word, but it sounds like there are enough problems for a large number of people to file complaints.

          1. Joielle*

            I read the letter to be saying that the OP is the one who’s made double digit complaints (i.e. she’s the only one complaining). It’s odd that the letter is written vaguely enough that commenters are already disagreeing about what happened with the handbag AND the bats AND the complaints… it feels like the OP is choosing words that make it seem like this could be an objectively bad situation, but it also could be objectively fine (just not a good fit for the OP).

          2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            I made a longer post about this above, but double digit complaints in two years about a company whose whole business is putting on scary/spooky shows to the general public doesn’t seem bad. There’s always going to be people complaining about Halloween themes in general, things being scarier than they expected, things being inappropriate for children they’d been wanted not to bring, etc.

            1. DontTellMyBoss*

              Seriously. I was a manager at a big box store and five complaints a year would have been heaven. A miracle.

            2. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, I took it to be 10 or 15 clients complained, which yeah, doesn’t sound like a big deal, depending on what the complaints were. Heck, anybody working retail will know that getting 3 or 4 complaints against you in 2 years is not a big deal (the way it’s phrased makes it sound like the LW is adding up the complaints against all four of the founders and they come to 10 or 15 in total).

              Now the one she gives IS a bit more serious than “you charged me extra for the extra special effects I demanded and that’s not fair” or “my child was scared by the haunted house” or “one of the skeletons you provided us with was damaged,” but it COULD have been a legitimate mistake – they thought somebody’s handbag was meant for use as a prop, when it had really just been used to transport the props…something like that. If it were a prank, yeah, that’s not on.

            3. one L lana*

              Double digits could also mean like, 10-12. In fact I’d bet a lot of money that it’s less than 24 or OP would have said “dozens.”

              That’s one complaint every other month. Depends on how many clients they have — that could be very bad, but also very normal.

          3. Marcia*

            There’s no indication that it’s a large number of people filing complaints. In fact, according to the letter OP is the only one mentioned as logging complaints.

            1. Sylvan*

              Oh, maybe. Huh, the OP’s language and my reading are making this confusing. OP’s complaints could be anything from a drop in the bucket to the entire body of complaints filed.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        We don’t know that the company is a mess, though. We know it’s apparently a busy animatronics/special effects type workshop, and that the OP doesn’t like it, but it’s also apparently very successful. The OP not liking it could be because it’s a mess but it could also simply be that she’s in the wrong job/culture.

        1. Sylvan*

          Oh, you could be write about that. I believed that there were legitimate problems, and a lot of them, because the LW mentioned a large number of complaints being filed.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I suspect there may well be legitimate problems but I also think the LW has reached BEC stage with the company so that the small things also appear large with her.

            And honestly, I don’t think double digit complaints against a company in 2 years IS really a large number. Of course, it depends on the complaints. If we are talking double digit complaints about health and safety or harrassment or damage to property, yeah, that would be serious, but if it is double digit complaints about overpricing, “my kid was scared by your haunted house; why didn’t you tell us it would be that scary?” or minor inconveniences – “the fake spiders you promised didn’t arrive,” “the vampire was missing a fang,” – then I’d say 10 or 20 complaints in two years is very low.

          2. Wintermute*

            the use of passive construction is a very strong indication these complaints are solely the LW’s complaints, and no one else really is filing any.

            It’s a dead giveaway, in general, the more passive things get the more someone wants to disguise who is doing the action– a useful tendency if you’re trying to parse court statements, police reports, or talking to little children.

            “The lamp got broke!” = “I broke the lamp!”

            “At that point the subject was struck by an automobile” = “I ran the guy over”

            “a wrench was used” = “I used a wrench” and so on.

    3. Hawthorne*

      The first part of the line is “I’ve kept my complaints to what I thought was minimal . . .” so I think they meant that they filed the complaints but they thought they hadn’t done that many.

      1. Heidi*

        That’s my read too. I guess the OP filed 3 complaints each for each of the 4 people and that added up to 12 (or something like that). Which does sound like a lot coming from a single person if no one else is producing complaints.

    4. ErinB*

      Yeah, the use of passive voice makes this really confusing. Also where are these complaints being submitted? Within the company? If the LW is the only one (or even the main one) submitting these complaints, that’s really telling.

      1. idontplaygames*

        Yes, I was super confused reading this. Who complained about what? And who did the purse belong to? And why would a story about her complaint about bats (where her name wasn’t mentioned) mean that the entire town has hated her for years? I don’t understand the connections here.

        1. A Poster Has No Name*

          Agreed. The letter was kind of a hot mess and I suspect the LW was hoping for validation on their views without really giving all the details on their role in the mess.

          I would pay cash money to see a letter on this situation from a boss or coworker’s perspective.

          1. Joielle*

            Yep, totally agreed. If it was so clear cut, the LW wouldn’t have to rely on vagueness and passive voice to make it seem bad, they could just state plainly what was going on.

          2. Malarkey01*

            I mean the local paper took a decidedly opposite view of the LW so I feel like that’s a good data point (unless this entire town is off it’s rocker ala Footloose)

      2. Marcia*

        Because the local newspaper knows the complaints OP’s logged, this is a start-up receiving funding from the city council, and the specification of “official” complaints, I’m wondering if OP is lodging the complaints directly with the city/the council program responsible for distributing funds, and so the newspaper story is about a person who took a job with a Halloween-themed company led by neurodivergent people and is now lodging formal complaints because said Halloween-themed company is into Halloween, possibly putting the org’s funding at risk.

        1. Pibble*

          I hope it’s not the case, but that would make a whole lot of this letter make a whole lot more sense…

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I have sadly seen people do just exactly that, and mostly because they were on some sort of crusade where they were convinced this was their only remaining option to “put an end to this evil activity” that they personally disapproved of.

        2. Calamity Janine*

          oh wow, this is VERY clever deducing – and while there’s no confirmation, this absolutely does make a lot of this letter make sense!

      3. Danish*

        The use of passive voice is what makes me suspect that this is all LW complaining about her coworkers/the mission…to the company. Which just doesn’t sound like a recipe for success no matter the legitimacy of the complaint.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m also unclear on whether the handbag complaint is completely baseless, as I first read “a ruined handbag…had been seized as a prop” to mean that there was an already-ruined handbag that was used this way. The language is, again, very unclear.

      1. Waiting on the bus*

        That’s how I read it as well and was confused why using an already ruined handbag as a prop was so bad.

      2. So Tired*

        Yes, I read it as a handbag that had been ruined was taken and filled with jelly and fake eyes to create a prop. Which…really doesn’t sound like something to complain about. Maybe if LW meant that one of the owners assumed LW’s handbag was ruined and took it and filled it will jelly and eyes when LW was in fact still using it, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what happened.

        1. to varying degrees*

          See and I read it as a purse was ruined because of the jelly and eyes.

          This is letter is very confusing.

          1. Jen*

            I read it the same way and was confused that Alison didn’t address the ruined handbag. But she must have read it that it was already ruined or didn’t belong to OP.

          2. Yorick*

            This is what I eventually thought it meant, and it makes much more sense. The complaint is about a ruined handbag, and the handbag was ruined because it was used as a prop.

          3. This Old House*

            I definitely also read it as a handbag that was ruined by being filled with jelly and eyes, and that the complaint came from the owner of the handbag, someone other than OP.

          4. ADidgeridooForYou*

            Huh, I read it as it was already ruined and then they took it. I also read the complaints part as the LW having written them all. I feel like the nebulous writing of this letter is making it very difficult to come to a conclusion.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              I read both differently – I assumed the complaint was that the handbag was ruined by being used as a prop and that the number of complaints was the total number made by anybody against all four individuals put together – but…I can see your reading too. It’s all very vague.

      3. metadata minion*

        That definitely would make it less terrible, but I don’t want my employer commandeering my ruined handbag without asking either. Maybe I had my own kooky re-use plans for it!

        1. FrivYeti*

          I didn’t get from the letter that the handbag had *belonged* to another employee. I thought that someone had pulled a ruined handbag out of the trash or grabbed it from a thrift store, filled it with jelly, and the OP was angry that this jelly-filled prop was sitting around the office because they felt it looked unprofessional.

          1. yala*

            The more I go back and read it, the more that’s what I’m thinking as well. It’s, oddly enough, the only thing that kind of makes sense?

          2. Irish Teacher*

            I kind of assumed it was EITHER a prank played by one of the four founders on somebody OR a case that somebody brought in some things to be used as props, possibly transporting them in their handbag, said, “hey, I’ve some stuff for props over there” and somebody assumed it included the handbag and ruined it by filling it with goop. Didn’t even consider that the handbag might already have been ruined, in which case it would be far less of a deal.

            1. Just Another Zebra*

              Third option (someone mentioned this upthread and I think it’s likely) – Halloween Inc put out a call for donations for things to be used as props. A handbag was given as a prop and was ruined when it was filled with jelly and eyeballs. It’s possible there was some miscommunication about the use for the item, or OP just took great offense to a donated item being ruined.

          3. pamela voorhees*

            +1. Or if the handbag was a luxury brand, people often get very upset at luxury brands being used for non-luxury purposes. When I worked at a community theater, you’d be surprised at how many people got upset at a Coach bag being used as a silly prop, even though the bag was a. busted up and b. donated to us for that purpose, because it’s a Coach bag! It’s meant to be fancy! Why are you doing something silly with it???

      4. Oxford Comma*

        I’m confused by that as well. If the handbag owner put the handbag in the trash or willingly gave it up, that’s fine, but if someone is walking by and went “oh, that handbag of Sally’s is garbage, we can use it to put eyeballs in,” without getting the owner’s consent, than that’s another issue.

      1. Worldwalker*

        If it was the OP’s handbag, why didn’t she say “They took my handbag and filled it with jelly and eyeballs”?

      2. Sati*

        Possibly that they were pranking people (including OP?) by getting them to stick their hands in. We used to do it when we ran a haunted house at Halloween, though with a bowl rather than a handbag, and we used peeled grapes instead of rubber eyeballs. Lead the kids through a dark area, ask if they want to feel some eyes and liquefied brains, and then it’s a bowl of jelly (jello to Americans) and peeled grapes. Sometimes we did spaghetti for veins or molded bread dough for guts. The kids loved it back in the day.

        My read was that someone made this prank toy using an old handbag (either donated consensually or thrifted) and OP was annoyed either because they were tricked into reaching inside and got jello on their hands, or because they just thought it was immature and silly to make it at all. But it’s really unclear. If someone actually had their bag taken without permission, that’s a legitimate complaint.

    6. FrivYeti*

      All of the complaints have been logged by OP.

      The OP said that there are only six total staff members – the four main people and two admin staff. OP also says that “I’ve kept my complaints to what I thought was minimal, but the number of official logged complaints about the four people is in double digits.” They go on to say that “The other admin worker isn’t helpful — he has multiple Halloween-themed tattoos and named his kids in obvious tribute (think names like Casper, Salem etc.).”

      So there are only two workers aside from those four people, and one of them does not support OP at all and thus is not logging complaints.

  6. Clobberin' Time*

    “The latest is a wildlife charity wanting to put nesting boxes for actual BATS! in the office”

    What? No wildlife charity is going to want to put up nests for bats literally inside of an office. Bats need high-mounted houses that are outdoors, away from human foot traffic. Either you misheard the proposal or this is a creative addition.

    1. Blue*

      I could see if it’s maybe for a photo shoot or something along those lines, rather than moving the bats in permanently. Like how sometimes wildlife rescues will bring animals to an elementary school to teach about the critters and the work of the rescue. I know we are supposed to believe letter writers but I agree something feels a bit askew about that example.

      1. WhataDay*

        I think it’s just poor phrasing; bat boxes are outside, not inside structures. They would most likely be mounted outside on the property/building/etc. At my work, we got a beehive a few years back, and I often would speak along the lines of “we got a beehive at the office” “I really don’t like working with bees” etc – but the bees were not (and are not) in the office – they reside on the roof.

      2. Clobberin' Time*

        That’s not “nesting boxes for actual BATS! in the office”, that would be bringing in a trained bat whose entire job is to be put on display for the public under controlled circumstances.

        If this is a real letter, then the OP – who already hates her workplace – badly misheard or misunderstood what was going on.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Or possibly is just so to BEC stage with the job that they mishear everything. They really seem like someone who took a desperation job in an atmosphere that they probably knew wouldn’t be a good fit, and now are upset it’s not a good fit.
          I’m sympathetic to the bad fit to a point – but that sympathy is only to the extent they are willing to try and change things to get to a better fit for them, which in this instance probably means a new job.

          1. Galadriel's Garden*

            Right – the shade at the coworker with Halloween-themed tattoos and children’s names, as if that’s some kind of bad thing (“of course they won’t support me, they’re into the mission of their workplace!”) tells me that they hate the whole theme of where they work and everything related to it is full-on BEC.

    2. Raven*

      To me it more sounds like they’re putting bat boxes up outside the office or in the attic if they’ve already had them nesting there, not that it’ll be in the main office.

    3. Wheels on Fire*

      That’s what I’m thinking too. I find it hard to believe that a wildlife charity would think its a good idea for a bunch of bats to live INSIDE and office. I wonder if the nesting boxes are going to be outside the office or temporarily stored in the office and OP misunderstood.

    4. Nick*

      This is all vague enough (and parts of it are easily identified as just not true) so that the letter writer’s credibility is questionable. Don’t work in a butcher shop and then demand you never have to see blood.

    5. Seashell*

      I took it as the boxes were going to be in the office to give out to other people, but not that they boxes were going to have bats in them at the time. It’s all very confusing.

    6. KoiFeeder*

      Frankly, the bats won’t accept that even if someone were to do so. I mean, the library in Portugal has been having real issues with getting the bats to breed in recent years just because living with humans is very stressful for bats in the best possible circumstances provided. The only bats who want to cuddle up with humans are sick bats.

      Also, non-rabid bats make for quite pleasant and unobtrusive neighbors. We’ve got a ba(t)chelor pad of little brown bats out by the koi pond after one of the koi caught a bat and he realized that the gazebo was actually a pretty sweet place to hang out, and besides having to take a broom and clean up the lil guano piles (the rosebushes LOVE the guano), you wouldn’t know they were there at all.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          We didn’t see her do it, so we don’t actually know how she pulled it off. But I went out to clean the skimmers, and she was swimming around with the back half of a bat in her mouth, very frustrated because the bat had spread its wings to prevent her from dragging it underwater so she could only swim around close to the surface. So one of us had to hold a very angry (34″ at the time) koi while the other one put on the rubber gloves and extracted the bat from her mouth. She was furious that we stole her breakfast.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Oh, thank you for the hearty laugh this morning. That is an excellent story.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              I’ve told this story on an open thread once before, but this is the same koi that will chase the pileated woodpecker fledglings when they fall into the pond because she thinks she is capable of eating them. We put rescue lines out this spring for the fledglings so they could scramble to shore and not need to wait for us to save them (doesn’t help when they land on their backs, though). I know of nothing that this koi is not willing to try to consume- we’re all just lucky koi don’t have teeth except in their throats.

            2. ChildrenAreExpensive*

              I can’t take your screen name seriously, because there is absolutely no way you went to school with only one Jennifer (unless there were a ton of Jens, Jennies, etc.)

              Sincerely–a Jennifer who always had to go by her last name

          2. Sam Yao*

            Best guess here is that the bat swooped down to grab an insect near the surface of the pond and your koi TOOK HER SHOT.

            1. Worldwalker*

              Bats will also drink on the wing, swooping over the water to grab a mouthful. They don’t expect, obviously, to become a mouthful!

          3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yup – typical fish with a stomach far bigger than it’s eyes/mouth.

            Signed the person who had to help their spouse remove what was left hanging out the mouth of one Green Terror Cichlid’s mouth….

            For those that are wondering beautiful but aggressive fish a this one would have just about covered an 8×11 sheet of paper at the time.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Domesticated carp (koi are just about as domesticated as a fish can get), like domesticated dogs, have absolutely no ability to determine whether or not they are full and as such consider themselves to be starving all the time. This is apparently also true of cats?

              And cichlids are a delight. Such big personalities! I helped take care of a classroom cichlid in high school, a Jack Dempsey named Daniels, that would bite your fingers when you cleaned his tank until you dropped the scrubber. At that point, he would steal it and hide in his favorite log and bite you if you tried to take it back. He was great, I doubt he’s still around but I hope he had a good life. The teacher gave the people who volunteered to clean his tank chain mail gloves for the task.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Oh yes – that Cichlid was named Mrs Smith (renamed that because she was determined to be just like the Angelina Jolie character). She lived to be almost 10 years old, and never stopped biting off more than she could chew.
                And yup – we also had to wear chain gloves. I still have a few scars on my hand from cleaning her tank before we got the gloves….her teeth were sharp.

          4. iliketoknit*

            I had no idea koi had such personality and I’m SO glad I read this comment thread! Thank you for the story!

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Oh, they’re great fish and just full of personality. Keeping koi is the joy of seeing a nearly three foot long fish literally, genuinely sulk about not being allowed to eat a live animal. It is also the joy of having to gently remove a koi’s head from where they got it stuck in the skimmer trying to eat the forbidden snacks, so YMMV.

    7. Wicked Annabella*

      I think this may not be about bats and Hallowe’en, but something else to make it less identifying. Like Easter and rabbit cages, or Christmas and … I don’t know? Partridges in pear trees?

    8. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I image they have a large warehouse or workshop industrial-type place for this business, with probably 30 foot ceiling and that’s where they want to encourage the bats. There are a bunch of warehouse places around me, and they all seem to have bird nesting in their rafters, so encouraging bats to roost wouldn’t really surprise me.

  7. listen up fives, a ten is speaking*

    All I can think about is the episode of the Office where they trap the bat in the bag with Meredith and she gets rabies.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      She didn’t get rabies! Michael saved her life from rabies by hitting her with his car and thus getting admitted to a hospital where she was given a rabies shot. :)

      1. Anonymoose*

        I had to get the rabies shot cycle once. Such a let down. I’d been told all my life that the rabies shot cycle is agony. Turned out that painwise, it’s NBD.

        1. Avril Ludgateaux*

          I’d grown up with the same belief about rabies shots, so maybe the inoculation has improved in recent years? Or maybe it as a myth manufactured to make people extra cautious about rabies in the first place? Pre-internet, people may not have known or taken seriously how absolutely deadly it is. (I didn’t know it had an effectively 0% survival rate until my late 20s, probably.)

          1. Portia*

            Rabies exposure was formerly treated with 21 (!) injections into the abdomen and was a notoriously miserable process. It hasn’t been done that way in decades, but that is the kind of detail that tends to stick with people.

          2. Gracely*

            I mean, if you’d needed it in the 80s, it would’ve sucked–it was 21 or 22 shots, mostly in the stomach/abs.

            Now it’s only like 4 shots spaced out (my mom had to go through it 2 years ago after a dog attacked her and animal control couldn’t find the dog). So it definitely got better. And I think if they can catch the animal and quarantine it, after they’re sure it doesn’t have rabies, you don’t have to get the full course (but the only way to know 100% is to do a necropsy, so…)

            1. Anonymoose*

              I think I had to get four or five shots for each of four or five visits, spaced out over a month, so the same number of shots but definitely not in the abdomen and they were just ordinary shots; I hardly felt ’em.

              1. GrooveBat*

                Yeah, I got a total of seven shots; four on the first visit and then three subsequent visits to follow up. I did not find them painful at all. Had a little bit of a flu like reaction to the final shot, but it definitely beat getting rabies.

              2. A Non E Mouse*

                Fall 2020: My indoor cat bit me in fear while I rescued him from the jaws of my neighbors’ dog. Because of the pandemic, he was out of date on his vaccine, so I got a full rabies treatment course of immunoglobulin to directly fight any active virus in my system, plus the vaccine.

                The immunoglobulin shots that I had injected directly into my wounds (the standard of care at my health clinic) were extremely painful. The remainder of the immunoglobulin shots were moderately painful (my wound was on my hand and relatively small, so most of it had to go in my thighs/bum). The subsequent three vaccine shots were in the more normal range of pain.

          3. Here we go again*

            According to Ozzy Osbourne’s autobiography rabies shots suck. That’s the only account of the rabies vaccine that I’ve read about. My dogs vaccine was just one shot though.

    2. listen up fives, a ten is speaking*

      Edit: Apparently she did not actually get rabies, but I haven’t seen the show in years, so I don’t remember the nuances

  8. Hawthorne*

    I feel like there’s no way they could be thinking about putting actual bats in the office. That’s a safety concern and a great way to get rabies since bats carry it but are immune. I feel like OSHA would have an issue with this.

    1. EMP*

      I’m pretty sure bat droppings are dangerous as well, and in an office context (!?) definitely going to be more of an issue than rabies as a bite may be avoidable but inhaling guano infused air is not.

      I know the bats aren’t the real issue here but I’m very confused by this proposal.

    2. Ariana*

      I’m astonished that you aren’t looking for a remote admin position. This seems like the obvious answer! Start applying, using Alison’s job search guidance of course. You’ll find something way more suited to your needs.

  9. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    Bat boxes outside in less-traveled places are okay. But indoors? Oh no! That’s not good for people or the bats.

    Everything else, like the movie quotes, that just sounds like the culture. Have you looked into finding remote work?

    1. JustaTech*

      I know we’ve all gotten derailed by the bat box thing, but what I don’t understand is how the bats would get into the boxes inside?

      If I put a birdhouse in my kitchen I don’t suddenly have birds in my house. A bat box doesn’t come with bats.

      So it’s either a demo bat box in the office or putting bat boxes for use up outside the building.

      But for the OP’s problem, yeah remote work sounds like the best option (other than moving away, which I know is expensive and drastic, but if everyone in town really does hate them for the bat box thing, well, at least in the US there is a long and rich history of moving away from your problems).

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          This whole comment thread is hilarious but your comment was the first one to make me laugh out loud, thank you!

  10. Aphrodite*

    Alison hit this spot on. It is what it is. You are what you are. Never will they meet. Either take a service job there or move to where you can find an admin job. You will feel so much better not complaining all the time.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yeah. There is a point at which desperation means you have to do a certain amount of grinning and bearing it. The environment does not sound abusive, just annoying and out of sync with your personality. It happens. But they were there first, they get to set the culture and rules.

      For what it’s worth, I am not a fan of Halloween. But if I were in a position where the only available job was at a pop-up costume shop, I wouldn’t get very far by accepting the job and then complaining about my co-workers who are all-in. Your co-worker with the Halloween tats “isn’t helpful”? Dude. That guy is not going to go against the culture for you or with you.

      My sympathy is waning, to be honest, especially since a bunch of coworkers yelling out movie lines doesn’t strike me as the worst thing in the world.

      1. Antilles*

        But they were there first, they get to set the culture and rules.
        I agree and would even go a step further: It’s not even just a culture or set of rules, it’s practically built-in to the business model since the *entire point* of the company is to be deep into Halloween.
        I’d even argue that their all-in on Halloween stance is probably largely *why* they’ve been able to build the business successfully – that the “various organizations around the state” hiring the company are doing so specifically because they’re impressed with the passion, knowledge, etc.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Yeah you can’t work somewhere that you disagree with a fundamental part of their mission and culture and expect to be happy. I interviewed at a place where a large part of the job and what I would be doing had to do with giving away guns and running a gun raffle. I thought in the current American climate that was not something I was going to be supportive of and I decided that I was not going to fit in there so I moved on. I recognized I wouldn’t be happy spending 4+ months getting something coordinated to give rifles out to random people.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Yes, other than the ruined handbag (it sounded to me like they grabbed someone’s bag at an event and turned it into a prop but then reading the comments I could be wrong), this sounds like — a normal prop shop. You are going to have robotics, and things making noises in such a place. If you are complaining about the ACTUAL POINT of the place, you probably need to go elsewhere. You can’t work in a prop shop facility, even in the office, and think you won’t be exposed to the props.

      I get it, there aren’t a lot of choices. But if your choice is this job which you said was better than what is around or one of those other jobs, I would adjust MY expectations, not expect my employer to conform to me.

      1. CB212*

        That was also how I understood the bag story – like a haunted house prank gone wrong, an attendee’s personal handbag ruined – although that seems like a surprisingly amateur mistake, from a team who have presumably attended their fair share of haunted houses and know How It Is Done.

    4. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I feel for the OP. She has limited job options in the area, and I’m guessing relocation isn’t a viable option or she would have done it. She must feel like she’s between a rock and a hard place, and that’s never a good feeling.

      But yeah, the company is what it is, and OP can only accept it – and remind herself she chose to stay for valid reasons – or leave.

      1. High Score!*

        Looking at ways to relocate would be a better use of her time. Maybe she can’t go far bc relatives in town? Look at nearby places. If she’s an hour or two away, she can visit. Same for lack of savings. Maybe OP can’t afford to move far but a long drive to work for a couple of months in the next town till you find a place might work.
        OP be creative to increase the number of options you have. Ask friends to brainstorm with you.

    5. Some Dude*

      Yeah, you fundamentally disagree with the mission of the organization you work for.

      Are there remote jobs you could apply for?

  11. i guess my whole department was the real work wife all along*

    with the exception of stealing someone‘s purse for a prop, i agree with alison: all these things are the cost of being employed here. sounds like it’s not for you. you don’t like your other options, but you’ve got to weigh this job AS IT IS against those other options, rather than weighing AS YOU‘D LIKE TO MAKE IT. is it really the least bad option? you haven‘t made a good case that it is tbh.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Yes, I think this is what the OP needs to do. List out all of the options as they are and decide which one is the best path forward. As I see it, the options are:

      – work in this job as it is right now
      – quit and work a local service job
      – quit and work a local manual labor job
      – quit and find a remote admin job that can be done from the current town
      – quit and move to a different location with more/different job opportunities

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Did they steal the bag to use as a prop? OP’s letter is ambiguous. I can’t tell whether “a ruined handbag that had been seized” means “they seized a handbag and then ruined it” or “someone had a handbag that was torn up and they were going to throw away, so the Halloween Four took it.”

    3. Worldwalker*

      And given how the story was slanted and spun, I don’t think they even stole someone’s purse for a prop. You’ll note that the OP doesn’t actually say they did.

  12. lilsheba*

    OK the bats are a bad idea for sure, and I would be mad over the handbag thing for sure. But other than that it sounds great! I LOVE HALLOWEEN! And I especially love The Exorcist. As for the OP …as much as moving can be expensive and a hassle that may be the best option if it’s that bad there.

    1. Pants*

      I love Halloween too! Though I must also clarify that I prefer not-sexy Halloween. Great if you want to go as a “sexy Elmo” (it exists), but I prefer Halloween without sexy muppets. Just me.

      I’d love to visit this office for a week or so to see if I should move in or not. :-) Movie quotes? Give it to me! Handbag with jelly and eyeballs? Well, ask me first; I do have a few bags I’m willing to sacrifice.

      I’m just thinking about all the ways to decorate a cube and it’s making my day.

      1. LavaLamp (she/her)*

        Same honestly. I would love to work somewhere that cares about bats as much as I do and likes spooky things.

  13. Zombeyonce*

    It’s time for OP to find a remote job. They’d be able to stay where they are but work with people that don’t know their personal history in this town and likely make decent money. Admin jobs can often be fully remote and even if they don’t find one, there are jobs with similar skills they could be qualified to do. Start looking for one of these and use Alison’s superb resume/application/interview advice to get it.

    1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      This was my first thought as well. It’s 2022–we are no longer tied to jobs in our geographical area.

    2. Desdemona*

      If it’s a small town, cost of living is likely low, which makes remote jobs even better. Look for virtual assistant jobs.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      OP, can you do your current job remotely? I guess if you could have you would have. It would have helped before you hit the BEC (Bat Exorcising Crackers) level with the entire company.

    4. Bilateralrope*

      Maybe this job could be done remotely. Separating the letter writer from the unusual parts of this business that they are unhappy about and possibly making it manageable for them to stay there until something better becomes available.

    1. HR Friend*

      Bat boxes indoors is the bad idea, not bat boxes in general. From your article: “It also makes sense to exclude bats from human living quarters, rarely a difficult task, even if bats live in the attic.”

      Aside: this article is hilarious. They’re charmingly pro-bat, but their defense of bats kinda has the opposite effect and makes me want to run out & get a rabies vaccine.

      1. A Complex Complication*

        Yeah, I think OP is either exaggerating or misunderstood. I do not believe that is actually the plan….unless the ‘office’ in this case is something like a large pole barn.

        Seriously, bat houses don’t automatically come with bats, so putting them up inside presents pretty much no risk and is strictly a decorating choice.

    2. Wants Green Things*

      No one is saying bat houses are unnecessary on the whole. Only that they’re unnecessary *indoors.*

      1. A Complex Complication*

        Do you know what you call a bat house indoors? Decoration. Because that’s all it will ever be. They don’t come with bats.

        People decorate with birdhouses.

        Seriously, OP is either exaggerating or has misunderstood the situation. No way does a bat rescue want them to put a bat house inside the office and expect wild bats to ACTUALLY move in. There is information either obscured or misunderstood, and (based on OPs very clear, sincere hatred of the workplace) I think it’s been done intentionally to make it seem more problematic than it truly is.

        1. DyneinWalking*

          I am absolutely fascinated that so many people are willing to believe that there would be a bat house occupied with live bats inside the office…

          I’m with you on that matter. The setup as suggested is completely unrealistic. If the bat house is inside it’s not going to be occupied and will simply be a demonstration or decoration. If the bat house is outside, it may become occupied but there will be no safety concerns.

        2. Wants Green Things*

          I suspect that if this letter isn’t made up whole cloth, that the holiday isn’t actually Halloween and the animals weren’t actually bats. Maybe rabbits, like a few posters have speculated.

          But yes, people have latched onto “bats indoors” and are going wild with that. And actual bats indoors is a terrible idea. Bat houses, without bats, are fine. But I doubt the bats are real.

          1. Humble Schoolmarm*

            If the holiday is actually Easter and the co-admin has named his children Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter I will be delighted! Also, a kid named Casper is giving me ideas…

        3. Wintermute*

          even if you somehow batnapped some sky puppies and put them in a bat box and put that bat box into an office, it would very rapidly become a bat box without bats because… they’d leave!

          People freak bats out more than they freak us out, the first opportunity they saw they’d be out of there like a bat out of hell, pun fully intended.

  14. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    OP, you have to get out.
    If this were a mismanaged start up with head-in-the-clouds visionaries pouring good investor money after bad, would you stay? If you’d asked Alison, “if I could take over leadership and let ideas people focus on that would it be better than finding a new job?”
    And Alison would say, “No.” Because that is the company.
    Now Mr. Magorium’s Halloween Emporium has community support, government support and is successful in its mission.
    It is just not for you. I’m sorry.

  15. calvin blick*

    Can this possibly be real? I haven’t googled but I would think this workplace would be extremely easy to identify. There is clearly at least one newspaper article out there about this place criticizing the LW, and I would think there would be more to get publicity for this company. A quick google search didn’t find anything if this really exists it has to be out there.

        1. i guess my whole department was the real work wife all along*

          well, those may be altered examples. as others have said, this would be very self-identifying if details haven’t altered.

        2. Waiting on the bus*

          Maybe it’s Easter themed and the animals are actually rabbits? Which would work with the phrasing that suggests that the animals are in the office rather than outside.

          Or the bats are actually birds that stay over the winter and are fed. My parents have bird nesting boxes in their garden for the birds that don’t migrate during winter.

          1. I edit everything*

            I can’t imagine a wildlife charity caring that much about rabbits, which are *everywhere* and not in any particular need of conservation.

            1. Pibble*

              I mean, if we’re wildly speculating on possible changed details, it could be a rabbit rescue using the office as an adoption center the way shelters sometimes partner with pet stores.

        3. Pants*

          I really want to believe the handbag thing was planned. If someone just picked up a random person’s Bottega Veneta and filled it with jelly and eyeballs, then it’s war. But like, I have a few bags I’d sacrifice. I don’t own a BV (ahh to dream though) but I really need to believe there was consent somewhere in there. My Rage Goblin was activated yesterday and I still need her to calm tf down.

          1. morethantired*

            I thought that since they set up displays that perhaps a shop asked for a window display and they used a piece of merchandise, a handbag, as a prop without asking if it was okay to ruin it for the display. Just picking up someone’s purse, emptying the contents and then using it seems so out there as a behavior. Unless someone had empty purses laying around their desk for months so as to make one assume they’re not wanted?

          2. Irish Teacher*

            I wondered if it could have been a mistake. Like somebody brought in a handbag full of props, said “I have some stuff you can use for props over there,” meaning IN the bag, but somebody misunderstood and thought it included the bag?

        4. Britchikka*

          Apropos of nothing, my local estate agent has a pen of live reindeer outside their front door every Christmas. This is in London. Just fully grown reindeer chilling on a south London pavement.

      1. an infinite number of monkeys*

        I was wondering this too, but then what animal are they trying to move into the office… reindeer?!?

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          The California Academy of Sciences has reindeer visits to its living roof every holiday season. But they’re on the roof of a huge building, not in the office.

      2. Linda*

        Christmas themed seems fairly likely and possible. Not sure what the bats actually are, hope its reindeer tbh. Also OP did say “grinch” which is Christmas . . .

      3. iantrovert*

        Having grown up very near Salem, MA, I assumed that Halloween being a huge town-wide thing was entirely reasonable. But that’s a reasonably large city in the Boston Metro area, with more opportunities than a small town employer. (That said, if you don’t like Halloween or tourists, it would behoove you to live somewhere other than Salem, lol.)

    1. Littorally*

      I would imagine that the OP anonymized detail — it is not actually about Halloween, but something comparable. The last thing they would want is more bad publicity, and this is the kind of letter that would absolutely spark off more of that if they were identified.

    2. LTRFTC*

      I had the same thought. The premise was believable, but they lost me once they got to the local newspaper somehow catching wind of some insular workplace drama, and it’s already led to so much hatred from their local community that their son is trying to legally change his name. Also, why would a wildlife rescue try to install a bat habitat indoors?

          1. Worldwalker*

            The place gets referred to as a “city” though — “I live in a small city” etc. That doesn’t sound like a small town.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              This might be culture-specific. To me, a small city is like around a population of 50,000? Bigger than a town, but small for a city. A small town on the other hand would have a population in the hundreds; certainly not over 2,000. But other places seem to use “town” and “city” almost interchangeably.

              1. Wintermute*

                Legally in the US the difference is what governance structure they use– villages have boards and presidents, towns have town councils and cities have mayors and aldermen.

                But beyond a certain point city structure with voting districts is the only practical way to administrate (and in some states there are legal limits on size for non-cities), in my home state villages up to 20-25,000 people are not uncommon but my hometown was a city of 10,000 people (at the time, now more like 25,000)

                1. Anna Badger*

                  I think someone said this was in the UK? in which case the differentiator between towns and cities is either a) having a cathedral or b) a monarch at some point in history liking you enough to wave a sceptre and declare it so

                2. Irish Teacher*

                  That is interesting. I was wondering, because I’ve often seen stuff like “I live in a small city with (insert details that I would expect only in a small town)” or “my town has two universities.”

                  And actually, Anna Badger, I think Kilkenny in Ireland falls under b, from when Ireland was part of the UK, so it’s technically a city, although there are places larger than it that are towns and you will see it described as both, depending on who is speaking.

                  Mind you, Wintermute, apply your home state’s logic to Ireland and you get like…10 places that aren’t villages. Our 13th biggest urban centre apparently has a population of 24,272.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          Also the organization has government funding, so complaints to the council are likely matters of public record.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            The local newspaper in my college town did a humorous take on the police blotter–which was more appropriate when I first moved there, and most of the “crimes” were things like “hippie opened my unlocked door and slept on my couch” or “wild turkeys chased bicyclist” or “yet another dine & dash” than it was when I left and things had escalated to “knife fight over drug deal gone bad.”

      1. len*

        Yes. Nothing about this creative writing exercise of a letter makes any sense and I feel like I’m losing my mind reading this comment section full of people trying to take it seriously.

        1. LTRFTC*

          Same here. My family is from a small town too (population ~1,200) and I know the local newspaper can be desperate for material, but the details just don’t add up here.

        2. one L lana*

          Yeah, when I got to the newspaper thing I thought, oh, someone is testing out a TV comedy premise. I don’t care how small the town is — there’s no way that drama like this would end up in the newspaper with OP STILL WORKING THERE.

          A random outsider trying to shut down the beloved Halloween business through a bunch of spurious legal complaints? Yeah, I could see that. Complaints are public. But anyone savvy enough to run a successful business (regardless of whether they’re neurodivergent) would know not to air grievances with a current employee in public, and there’s no other way the newspaper could write about it.

        3. Kella*

          It’s part of alison’s commenting rules. We are supposed to assume the letter writer is telling the truth and not make accusations like “fake!”

      2. such is the quality of live bats*

        The local paper thing struck me as odd as well. What self-respecting newspaper opts to run workplace drama gossip when they could have “Halloween Store Installs Live Bats”? That’s click bait gold right there.

        I’m more inclined to believe the bit about the son wanting to change his name though. I, too, was once a teenager. Odds are, he’ll change his mind once the kerfluffle dies down.

        1. SnowyRose*

          Eh, I’ve come across a number of local papers where something like this might be published. We’ll review them when doing an assessment. You take the info with an entire salt mine, but it can provide insight to some of the undercurrents.

          Calling them a newspaper might be a stretch, but they’re very focused on local interest stories or gossip/sniping masked as a local interest story.

        2. EB*

          city council meetings in small towns can get heated because everyone knows everyone and people can holds grudges from years back about some program or some denied permit (or they lost the election).

          If the complaint had to be read out loud for the public record then yeah, news for the week, particularly if people think the complaint is unwarranted (because you’re talking about a place where someone’s cow getting into the road makes the news).

          1. WS*

            Oh yes, absolutely, my local newspaper got YEARS of content out of one farmer trying to claim a historical two metre-wide easement that went through another farmer’s property. It got extremely heated.

      3. calvin blick*

        I didn’t even catch that about the son wanting to change this name. How small is this city that everyone apparently instantly recognizes his last name based off of one article?

        And how is LW apparently simultaneously a pariah in the community over making complaints, but still works there? Seems like there would at the very least be a lot of drama with the other admin.

        None of this makes any sense. It is fun to read, but clearly fake.

        1. But what to call me?*

          Although if the town is that small, I’m wondering how he thinks changing his name will help. In a town that size, they’d know who he is.

          1. Waiting on the bus*

            Not necessarily. The dad of one of my childhood friends has been in a feud with a hobby sports association for literal decades about noise complaints. It’s the sort of bad blood that has ended up in court multiple times (and the local newspaper has reported on each time).

            I was part of the sports association and anytime someone with by friend’s maiden name would join there would be a pause and a half-joking “no relation to [friend’s dad], I hope?”
            But no one would have ever recognised my friend by sight as she wasn’t part of the association (for obvious reasons) and kept well away from her dad’s vendetta.

      4. Chirpy*

        can confirm on the small town newspapers, my small city ran an article calling an altercation between one student and a cop (with several other students watching) a “riot” because the editor’s kids went to the rival high school and liked to play up how “bad” my school was (it was not)

      5. doreen*

        Depends on the details of the workplace drama. I don’t live in a small town but I could absolutely see the local newspaper writing a story about the grinch who makes 311 complaints about the guy who drives his classic car around dressed as Santa playing Christmas carols with Mrs. Claus tossing candy canes – and the newspaper in the LW town may have seen her complaint about the bats as something similar. Especially if the complaints were about “moving bats in” and the newspaper found out that no bats were being moved in. It could be a misunderstanding – but based on the rest of the letter, it looks more like a deliberate exaggeration because other complaints had no effect. And that looks very much like this person is trying to destroy this enterprise or at least change it to where it is unrecognizable ( which is in effect destroying it.)

      1. Dawn*

        I did some quick reading on the plot and I think you might not be too far off-base there.

        “Los Espookys are a group of four goth-adjacent friends who specialise in staging horror scenes.”

    3. Carlie*

      It reads to me like the plot of the first part of a Hallmark Halloween Holiday movie. See, the wildlife specialist sent to install the bat boxes will be incredibly attractive (in whatever way LW finds attractive), and will assuage all of the LW’s concerns by teaching LW all about the bats and about the joys of the autumnal season. Wildlife Specialist will have a touching scene wherein they help LW’s son create the best costume for the school Halloween dance. Then Wildlife Specialist and LW will fall in love, open a Halloween-themed antiques store called “Bats in the Belfrey”, and live happily ever after.

    4. Thence*

      I figure it should be real at least to some extent because if someone made it up, why would they not go ham coming up with silly details about the Halloween office? All the vagueness and hedging in this letter is no fun if it’s fiction.

    5. Granger Chase*

      Yes, I’m thinking it’s probably a cover for what it actually is. Could be another holiday, like Christmas. People drive from all over to go to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, MI since it’s a huge Christmas store, so maybe where OP works was trying to create something similar to bring business into their small town? If the business is council-funded I can see the newspaper getting a hold of complaints that way since they could’ve been discussed during council meetings if they were lodged directly with the council.

  16. L-squared*

    While I have to admit, I laughed reading this. Alison is right. You took a job at a place that you have no interest in and now want to change the culture. But its not your culture to change. So either suck it up and deal, or leave and find something else.

  17. Princess Xena*

    Sorry OP, I’m not a fan of Halloween either and I have to agree with Allison that this is more of a you problem (except the newspaper spread bullying you. That’s super unacceptable). Huge amounts of what you’re describing sounds like part of the job.

    You’ve got a Halloween allergy, and that’s ok, but you shouldn’t deliberately work at Halloween central knowing it’s Halloween central. There is no reasonable accommodation here and your best bet is probably going to be job hunting.

    1. Observer*

      You’ve got a Halloween allergy, and that’s ok, but you shouldn’t deliberately work at Halloween central knowing it’s Halloween central. There is no reasonable accommodation here and your best bet is probably going to be job hunting.

      Exactly this.

  18. CatCat*

    Quitting means I’d be signing up for many years in a manual or service job in a city where everyone hates me.

    The locale you can’t do anything about unless you are willing/able to move elsewhere. I expect anger over the article will die down over time. In the mean time, you absolutely hate your work environment now. Would a manual or service job potentially be better in light of that?

    1. Mockingjay*

      Even service companies have admins. OP, broaden your search criteria. There are many small and medium businesses that need good organizers to keep things running smoothly, but have trouble getting applicants because “it’s a service job.”

      And let go of the hyperbole. You took a job because you needed one; you knew it wasn’t a culture fit for you; the environment got to be too much and now you are ready to move on. Be thankful for the skills you’ve gained – practical and soft. Anyone who can keep things running smoothly in these circumstances will be an asset somewhere else. Take a deep breath, move all that emotion to writing the best CV ever and apply for local and remote jobs.

  19. ZSD*

    I’m confused about the logged complaints. With whom are the complaints being logged? The company, or the government? And is the letter writer the one submitting all the double-digits of complaints, or are they being submitted by clients or other employees? If the complaints go to the company, how did the newspaper find out about the letter writer’s complaint about the bats?

    1. PsychNurse*

      I’m confused too. Letter-writer is clear that “everyone” adores this company. Except her. So I’m thinking she is the one complaining.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Could be clients too. No matter how much the company is adored, the odds of it having 10 or more clients who find fault with SOMETHING in two years is pretty high. Even somebody who adored a company could complain about a price being too high or their child being scared by one of their special effects. Say the town has a population of…I don’t know…5,000? 20 people complaining about minor issues could still leave well over 4,900 people who adore it.

  20. Mothman’s Uber*

    To me, this sounds like a dream job! I’d sign up in a heartbeat for that kind of work culture.

    As Allison said, the job is about Halloween at its core and you can’t change it. Pushing back on extreme stuff makes sense (even with my Halloween enthusiasm, I don’t think id want bats in the office with me permanently so id recommend a temporary display/exhibit elsewhere that the team can visit), but you can’t change everything and it sounds like you dislike a lot about the job, not just the extreme stuff. I think your best bet is to find work elsewhere, hard of a search as that may be. Good luck!

    1. Nessa*

      Same, I love Halloween and would love to work at a place like this! I would totally join in on the movie quotes game. I also have a child whose name is connected to Halloweeny movie (but is also a normal, lovely name). Casper was on my list for boys names.

      I’m sure the bat boxes are not intended to go inside the office except for display and educational purposes. The handbag incident seems bad, but it’s so vague that it could have just been an unfortunate mistake rather than malicious intent. The passive voice of the author leaves me to question the veracity of the claims.

      I also think it actually is about Halloween and not cover for some other holiday, because what other holiday would involve shrieking animatronics, popular movie quotes, and gross props?

      I totally understand the frustration of not being a culture fit with a company though. My last job was with a company that I had no idea was super Christian. Like, on my first day I was told to work on an actual Bible and some lady’s rant in her book about all the things that will damn you to hell (with me fitting most of the criteria). I quickly learned that almost everyone else in this small company was heavily involved in ministry in some way — was a pastor, is studying to be a pastor, etc… I was afraid to talk to my coworkers for the longest time, so I just kept to myself for a while until a new hire I shared a workspace with came in wearing dresses with ghosts on them and I thought, “Finally, someone I think I can talk to!”

      We ended up becoming close friends and have since ceased working at this stressful mess of a company. Like, I was nearly fired for putting up Halloween decorations for a horror themed event we were hosting in October. I only stuck it out until I could go on maternity leave and not come back.

  21. The Original K.*

    Yeah, this is a culture fit issue. I would loathe this (bats in the office? GTFOH), I get it, but this is who they are. I’ve worked in places where everyone seemed to like it but me, and that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me or them; it’s just a bad fit. I know the town offers limited employment opportunities but remote work is more common now than ever – maybe that’s an option.

    1. Worldwalker*

      Definitely not bats in the office. All else aside, the bats would only be there as long as it took them to get out.

  22. Cendol*

    Well, now I want to know what and where this job is so I can apply. My sympathies to the OP: they won’t be able to change their bosses’ business model, nor should they try to! This sounds like a personality mismatch. I hope OP will be able to find another job, in this town or elsewhere, without too much hassle.

    That said, does anyone else think this sounds like the plot of an Addams Family sequel or reboot? I’d watch it. It could feature Wednesday Addams temping at a very “normal” workplace (and probably leading some form of unionization effort against a toxic boss) while the remaining Addamses are trying their hand at running a business.

    1. Wintermute*

      as an aside there’s a youtube series called “Adult Wednesday Adams” featuring her moving to LA, and it shows her at her job as a receptionist for a Hollywood talent agent, among other things. It’s an absolute gem.

  23. Susan*

    Bat nesting boxes in an office? No, this is not a good idea. I agree that OP should probably look at other jobs, but bats do not belong in an office. That is a very, very bad idea.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s such a bad idea–how are the bats going to get food? does the office have 40 ft ceilings to accommodate the needed drop?–that the OP clearly misunderstood. No one is setting up an open box of bats next to her desk.

      We have a bat box in the woods out back, and you can find instructions to build or place one at various local environmental groups.

    2. Worldwalker*

      Bats wouldn’t come into an office. And if you caught them and brought them in, they’d leave.

      They don’t magically spawn bats. Having bat boxes in the office won’t make bats appear any more than having bird houses in the office will make birds appear.

  24. Sherry*

    This sounds like a really cool place to work and if you don’t like it go somewhere else. The bats sound awesome assuming the wildlife org knows what they’re doing. You sound like people who move to LA and constantly complain about LA…don’t live in a place you hate, don’t work in a place you hate. The entire function of this place is antithetical to what you enjoy if it was what you liked it wouldn’t exist. It usually isn’t this simple but I think this time it is.

  25. Kermit’s Bookkeepers*

    Thank you so much for this answer. All I could think reading this letter was “What a cool place to work that wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.”

    OP, I sympathize but this business is not at fault for the fact that they are the only job relevant to your skills in your area. Luckily remote work is becoming more and more prevalent, and there are lots of companies that you can work for without living in proximity to the office. I would start job-hunting and wish these people well.

    (Someone already mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: the details about bats may be either exaggerated or changed to avoid identification. Assuming the reality of the situation is safe for the wildlife involved, I also think this is freaking cool.)

    1. PotsPansTeapots*

      Yeah! I’m not a big Halloween fan (or a fan of most holidays), but I love bats and they are extremely important creatures!

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      Right?! For me, it’s both “it’s so cool this place exists” and “I would absolutely hate working there”. It really is fully, completely both.

      OP, this isn’t the right workplace for you, and that’s fine. But it’s the perfect workplace for a lot of the people who work there, and you’d be doing a disservice to try to change that. It’s unclear what, exactly, your complaints are! (Are you complaining about things intrinsic to the workplace, like sounds you hear from other employees or the materials you work with? Was it your handbag that was ruined? Are the “bats” just an unusual idea in your experience, or are they an actual workplace hazard? And are you in the best position to determine that? Are “double-digit” complaints really that many, considering it’s been 6 years? Where are those complaints going? Are they legitimately about illegal or dangerous practices, or do they reflect a matter of habituation/expectation/preferences?) Better to spend your energy finding a workplace—even a remote one—that is a better fit for you.

    1. This Old House*

      I wonder if it was actually bees. Installing a bee hive for educational/PR purposes sounds like something realistic (they have those cool indoor glass ones with an exit to outside) and bees are definitely things some people love and other people feel totally justified in hating.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      An office full of RABID bats. And I’m now imagining this becoming an AAM thing: “get out. Your company is full or rabid bats.”

  26. ResuMAYDAY*

    100% on what Alison said with a bit more heavy-handedness on YOU NEED TO QUIT. This org needs people who are on board with what they do and that’s clearly not you. What if you got your way? What would this business look like then?
    When you do quit, I suggest you don’t display an “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude because it will further cement your reputation as the Halloween grinch. Instead, congratulate them on what they’ve accomplished (including creating jobs in an area that badly needs them) and thank them for the opportunity to develop your skills in an office, rather than a shop or on a farm.
    I’m willing to bet the employees (and probably the whole town) are waiting for you to leave. When anyone asks them about your exit, give them the opportunity to say your last interaction with them was gracious and professional.

  27. I should really pick a name*

    Ask yourself if you would find a manual or service job worse than your current situation?
    Choose the option that makes you feel the least miserable.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Hm… they might not be able to do either. ( if they just didn’t wanna they would have jumped ship ny now! ) I’m hoping the people who said a remote job is a possibility are accurate or else OP is gonna have a hard time

  28. Ferret*

    I’m confused about these “official” complaints. Who is making these complaints? To who are they reporting? What happens to these reports and is there any follow up?

    This could be noise complaints to the local authority from neighbours or it could be LW writing emails about the movie quote-fest and being upset that no-one does anything.

    I’m also a bit confused about what happened in the handbag situation but none of this changes the advice Alison gave or what LW should do.

    Even if Alison and the comments gave a judgement from on high that the setup is totally unreasonable and LW’s bosses and colleagues are all awful it wouldn’t change the fact that they have almost no ability to change the situation as it stands and should focus on either making their peace with it or moving on (to a new job or potentially even a new location). I know this doesn’t make things any easier but I don’t see an alternative

    1. RunShaker*

      I’m confused as well. I’m thinking the OP made all the complaints? Alison is correct. What would you be doing for work if this job wasn’t available? I can’t imagine a wildlife charity putting bat boxes inside the office. That doesn’t make sense & I’m sure violates a few OSHA (or in general if OSHA doesn’t apply) laws. This is niche company that has a love for Halloween & if it isn’t your cup of tea that’s ok except the part that sounds like you want that to change. And change to what?
      I have a bat box up to house free tail bats. They were around even before I put up the box. My understanding in my area is rabies from bats are low occurrence. Free tail bats bring a lot of business in Austin which has millions of bats living part of the year under Congress St bridge. It’s cool to watch them fly out during the evening & they will show up on weather radar. I don’t live in Austin but it’s within driving distance.

    2. Bubbletea*

      From the fact it hit the local newspaper, I’m guessing she complains to the funding body (i.e the council). When I used to work in the voluntary sectors people frequently skipped the hierarchy of the organization and complained straight to the council/funders. It’s either that or the board, but from the sound of it the business is pretty autonomous.

  29. danmei kid*

    Bat guano is hazardous to human health and I can’t believe any health department in any US state would allow that to be established in a working office environment. But all that aside: you hate the job, please leave it for your own sanity, and let someone who would fit in take your place.

  30. Jessica Ganschen*

    Some of this sounds like objectively very serious issues (bats do not belong inside office buildings, people’s handbags should not be seized and filled with jelly), and some of it sounds like competing access issues (OP doesn’t mention if they themself are ND but neurotypical people also have different comfort levels and needs for working environments, etc), but regardless, if you’re this miserable, the answer is definitely finding some way to leave.

    1. Worldwalker*

      It’s highly unlikely that bats would be *inside* an office building. They would leave as soon as they could escape.

      And the OP carefully doesn’t state that the handbag was stolen, let alone *hers*.

  31. Marcia*

    OP is really using that passive voice to full effect here…

    So much to unpack, but it really stood out that the one example of a complaint OP lodged that they give is of a “ruined handbag that had been seized as a prop and filled with jelly and rubber eyeballs.” Whose bag was this? OP’s and a coworker just grabbed it? Was it ruined and to be tossed, and then filled with jelly? Or ruined because it was filled with jelly? The fact that the jelly and fake eyes is mentioned but not whether the bag was stolen, who it belonged to originally, who made the decision to use it as a prop, etc., makes it seem like it was probably reasonable for the bag to be used in this way, and OP is taking issue with the existence of the Halloween prop.

    1. Observer*

      I think you are right.

      Especially since the OP specifically complains in the letter that the office is full of props, etc.

    2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      +1 to the passive voice thing. As a former writing teacher, I can’t help but notice. And dang is it effective here.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Someone cited a favorite Captain Awkward letter, in which her reply started with the prompt to rewrite the whole thing without the passive voice. It was really on point advice, and I thought of it here.

      Because “When I was at lunch they grabbed my handbag and filled it with jelly” would be so much clearer. If even that is passive’d into a scenario where it’s possible OP was working in an office where an old handbag was filled with jelly as a prop… I’m thinking it was like “there are robotics!” and “they say movie quotes!” That the problem was one more example of a prop, rather than deliberate destruction of OP’s property.

    4. Flossie Bobbsey*

      Yes, if the handbag is the most egregious complaint OP can think of, then I’m not sure OP has properly expressed herself because a lot of people aren’t understanding the complaints thing. When I first read it, I assumed it was an in-home private event, and the company took the homeowner/client’s handbag as a prop, which would be bad but not horrible like the OP seems to believe.

      Then OP’s statement that she thought she was keeping complaints minimal but they ended up being double-digits makes it sound like the complaints are all coming from the OP, so maybe it was her handbag they took and used. Even so, there is so much detail missing – for all we know, she was in charge of procuring a suitable handbag as a prop, and the principals reasonably assumed the one she had was the one intended as a prop.

      We definitely need more detail on who is making complaints and to whom.

  32. Goody*

    The bat boxes are definitely my personal line in the sand.

    I think it’s time for OP to investigate a complete relocation. Remote work could fill in a gap, but may not be a forever answer. Relocating also gives them the chance to escape the media-induced reputation. I cannot imagine feeling like an entire city hates you and knowing that your own son wants to change his name just so he isn’t known as the Grinch’s kid.

  33. Secondhand Cringe*

    Strong upvote to those who mentioned looking for remote work! It used to be very difficult to find admin work that was fully remote, but that’s not the case anymore.

  34. PotsPansTeapots*

    I sympathize with the LW because I would be just as cranky if I worked there. But, there’s nothing bad or evil about this workplace and some people obviously thrive there.

    Quit, get a temporary service job if necessary, and apply for remote admin work. There’s a lot of it out there!

    1. PsychNurse*

      Same here! I would be losing my damn mind– OP, I don’t want you to think everyone is calling you unreasonable. I wouldn’t be able to tolerate it either. But it’s a no-fault situation– you and this job are not suited for one another!

    2. HelenofWhat*

      Seconding this! It sucks that a personal work issue became a newspaper gossip piece (because really, any complaint you have within your job should be handled internally not spread into the news). But this doesn’t leave you without hope for doing work you don’t hate.

      Definitely apply for remote admin work, and in the meantime consider a survival job at one of the local shops. I think one of the calmest places I’ve ever worked was a retail gift shop. Obviously pay was not good, but you seem like you need to distance yourself from a situation that is making you feel terrible, and messing with your family life.

      (And this is coming from someone who would love this environment. It’s not for everyone!)

      1. Sharkie*

        My take on the article was they complained to the council and the wildlife foundation which might be public record

  35. The New Wanderer*

    Less obvious option: write up a treatment and sell this made-for-TV situation as a series to a streaming company!

    Better option: Look for a remote job, civil service job, or a job in the next town over. It’s clear the OP is miserable in that environment, so it’s time to find those other options.

  36. KP*

    This is not the point – but bats absolutely can live inside. My friend is a bat rehabber and she has several. (She’s also vaxxed against rabies, although she says that bats aren’t nearly the risk people think. We’re far more of a threat to them)

    The bats don’t just fly around, willy-nilly though. They have their own habitats that keep them separate from people. Some bats cannot be released back into the wild for various reasons, and they live in these indoor habitats. It’s possible that’s what the wildlife org is trying to do….but regardless….the bats are not going to be flying around the office pooping on everything and biting people.

    1. RunShaker*

      When my family & I did the kayak trip in Austin to Congress St Bridge to watch Free Tails fly out for the evening, our guide also went over the myths & issues about bats. He also stated the same in reference to overall rabies risk. He also advised to not touch them & all wildlife in general.

    2. nona*

      My understanding is also that (in the US at least), standard OP at the ER is to give you the rabies series if you (or especially a child) were asleep in a room where a bat was located, because it can be really hard to determine if you’ve been bitten by a bat.

      It’s not that every bat has rabies, it’s just that you might not know if you’ve been bit and you’re unlikely to be able to catch the perpetrator and we know rabies is endemic to bats and there’s no way to test for rabies before its too late to provide the vaccine. So it ends up that bats in the room = rabies shot, just in case.

      But yes, staying away from wildlife (I’m looking at you Yellowstone Park visitors) is generally just really good advice.

  37. The Ginger Ginger*

    Start looking into remote admin jobs. You can work from home somewhere that’s a better fit. Or heck – can you do THIS job remotely? Would you be less miserable if you didn’t have to see the office in person?

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      YES. I was surprised I hadn’t seen anyone mentioning WFH / remote work as a possibility. The org I work for has people in Florida, Minnesota, Montana–and others I’m sure I don’t even know about–when we only do business in Kentucky, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

  38. anon4eva*

    Hmm…couldn’t you use your org’s current popularity to leverage a different job, probably one that is remote so your location won’t matter? Or just try anywhere in the state outside of where you are.
    Personally, I’d like take it like a bad joke and start wearing a grinch costume to work every day- if you can’t beat them, join then.

  39. anon4eva*

    Hmm…couldn’t you use your org’s current popularity to leverage a different job, probably one that is remote so your location won’t matter? Or just try anywhere in the state outside of where you are.
    Personally, I’d like take it like a bad joke and start wearing a grinch costume to work every day- if you can’t beat them, join them.

  40. I'm Done*

    You cannot continue to work at a place where you loathe their whole reason for existing. They pay you to support their business not to undermine them and make them feel bad about what they’re doing. Frankly, I’m amazed that they haven’t fired you. Either accept the culture and nature of the business or leave.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Exactly. And accepting the culture doesn’t mean you have to become a Halloween freak. It means you have to respect that you work with Halloween enthusiasts and that it is not your place to fundamentally change the business or its culture.

      You are not without agency. You can leave, or you can, frankly, learn to put your head down and deal.

    2. Siege*

      And also apparently loathe your coworkers. It really, REALLY stood out to me how important it was to OP that we all know for sure that the founders of this group are neurodivergent.

      Way to be extremely clear, OP, that you think the neurodiverse are all freaks and that you don’t like neurodiverse people because they’re neurodiverse. Get a different job. Figure out what it would take (moving? remote work? starting your own business as the anti-Halloween store?) and do that.

      1. LTRFTC*

        This raised red flags for me too. There was NO reason for OP to bring up the fact that the owners were neurodivergent *twice.* It was not relevant to the story except… for what? To add “flavor” and make ND folks look obnoxious?

      2. I&I*

        A couple of things I’d recommend to OP:

        1. Neurodivergent people can be A Lot about things they’re interested in. Some NT people find it discomfiting, some NT people find it delightful; depends what you’re into. However, it is what it is, and if you keep complaining about it, you’re at risk of getting into trouble for discrimination.

        2. Neurodivergent people are often super-understanding about needing individual accommodation. If you can’t leave this job for a while, think about it those terms. For instance:

        You can’t expect the team to stop shouting out references. You can say, ‘I concentrate best with minimal noise distraction; okay if I wear noise-cancelling headphones?’

        You can’t expect there not to be Halloween props around. You can say, ‘Can we keep the props off my desk, and maybe let me set up my desk to face the wall/window? It helps me keep my mind on the admin side of things.’

        You can’t expect the water-cooler and lunchtime chat to be other than what it is. You can take time to yourself – off for a walk, at your desk with an eye-mask and headphones, whatever works – and explain that this is recharging time for you. Put up a sign saying ‘Available to talk after 1.30’; ND people often prefer nice clear messages like that.

        You can’t expect others there not to be enthusiastic about Halloween. You can use a system employed by some people with ADHD to manage interruptions: get three stacking plastic cups (the kind for kids usually works) and keep them on your desk. If green is uppermost, you’re available; if yellow is uppermost, you’re to be interrupted only if it’s urgent; if red is uppermost, you’re not to be disturbed.

        Look, is this ‘completely bizarre’? From a conventional perspective, maybe? From a neurodiverse perspective, not at all: it’s creating an optimum workspace for the workers they have. It just happens that it’s not an optimum workspace for you.

        So do what ND people have to do in NT workspaces, at least if they have decent employers: ask to be accommodated. If you just hate Halloween, there’s no fixing that, but if the problem is clutter and noise, ask if you can create a space for yourself where there’s less of that.

        But if you do, you may need to apologise for all the complaining, because ND people put up with a lot in the regular world and are probably not thrilled with yours. You knew this would be a ND workspace when you signed up, and the complaining was unprofessional: you should have been asking for accommodations instead all along. There may still be time, but you need to go in respectful. There’s nothing unprofessional about a creative ND enterprise having an office like this; you just need to decide if you can work with it.

        1. Azure+Jane+Lunatic*

          I used to use post-its when I was working on highly time-sensitive issues. I also rigged a visual doorbell — dedicated doorbells that are intended to be visual were extremely expensive when I was shopping around 10 years ago, but I found an inexpensive doorbell that had a blinking light on the speaker, and disconnected the sound chip. That helped with people being able to get my attention without touching me. (I have ADHD and some sensory issues, and being touched by a random co-worker when I’m in hyperfocus sometimes leaves me feeling like the spot that was touched was burned. That’s a me problem though, so I needed to figure out how people could actually get my attention when they needed to.)

  41. Observer*

    Is it just me, or does anyone else get a sense that the OP really, really has no respect for the people who run the business?

    OP, if I’m right, then you REALLY need to get out. It’s not their fault that there are not too many other options. And if I’m wrong, it’s still not their fault. But you do need to think about how you come across. If you cannot (or do not want to) change that, then getting out is still your only option.

    This is what the business is. You cannot work for people you don’t respect and expect them to conform to your ideas of what is reasonable.

      1. Sharkie*

        Right? the way they say “neurodivergent eccentrics” puts me on edge. Also the tidbit about the son wanting to change his name so people wouldn’t recognize him as related to OP was interesting. There has to be more to this

        1. Elle*

          I also zeroed in on the phrase “neurodivergent eccentrics” and did not love it, though I can definitely muster some sympathy for this LW.

          Granted, I am a neurodivergent eccentric who is currently typing from an office that features a taxidermied bat. So.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            See, to me, my first thought on reading that phrase was, “are these people some of my friends? Because I know a lot of people who would self-describe that way.” But this is not people self-describing, and it makes me want to give OP some real side-eye.

            1. But what to call me?*

              It’s the kind of descriptor that might work if the OP respected those people at all (I’d personally be perfectly happy to be known as a neurodivergent eccentric by people who thought that was a fun part of my personality and/or thought it contributed to how awesome I am at what I do), but given OP’s level of annoyance at just the kind of things you might find in a group of Halloween-loving neurodivergent eccentrics running a successful Halloween business, it loses any positive or neutral connotations it might otherwise have had.

              1. Irish Teacher*

                Yeah, it’s one of those terms that would be affectionate if used by one of those who adored the company. “My bosses are just the coolest bunch of neurodivergent eccentrics.” But it reads a lot differently from somebody who is criticising the company.

          2. Sati*

            Also a neurodivergent eccentric, though I have no taxidermied bat. But I do have a skull from Victorian times that was donated to my mom’s bio lab, and when they shut down, brought home and used as a Halloween candy dish.

        2. Hepzibutt Smith*

          Yeah, excessive passive voice + town wide hatred + even your own kid wants to change his name to escape you… This feels like a Los Espookys joke, but if it’s not, this is the tale of an incredible narcissist whose legendary nastiness united a whole town against her. Pam Hupp vibes, which should be a joke but is actually just a promise that I’d love the podcast about her life ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        3. Worldwalker*

          I went through a phase as a teenager when I wanted to change my name. I think it’s not an uncommon thing.

      2. LisaNeedsBraces*

        I came here to make sure this was addressed. The way OP talked about their bosses was quite frankly ablelist. Whether or not they’re neurodivergent has nothing to do with OP’s dislike of the job or the mismanagement, and the dig about this probably the only community they’ve built was incredibly unnecessary. This is something they’re passionate about and something OP isn’t. No need to pathologize their passion, especially since by OP’s own admission, it’s a popular attraction.

        1. sb51*

          +1 If they respected neurodiversity, there’s a valid letter of “my management doesn’t realize that XYZ is dangerous to humans/wildlife (assuming the bats aren’t a metaphor for something else that isn’t)” or “I’m creeped out by skeletons but onboard with most of the HalloweenTown thing, how do I respectfully ask that my cubicle get a non-skull-shaped lampshade”. But that wasn’t this letter.

          1. Worldwalker*

            Now I want a skull-shaped lampshade!

            There’s a life-sized skeleton sitting on top of the Asteroids arcade game cabinet about ten feet away in my home office, with a large plastic centipede on its lap. I may not be the best person to evaluate this situation.

    1. Paris Geller*

      Yeah. I mean I get living in a small town where there’s not a lot of options (boy, do I!), but it’s hard to have sympathy when it’s so obvious from the outset this was never going to work for the OP long-term. They hate the entire culture and mission of the place they work for, of course they’re miserable! Much like dating, you can’t go into a job hoping to change a person or institution.

    2. something about sharks*

      I didn’t want to be the first one to say it, but…yeah, it really feels like OP doesn’t think the founders should be running a business, or that a business like this (about Halloween? run by neurodivergent people? both?) should be successful. There’s a note of contempt and resentment to the whole thing – “neurodivergent eccentrics” was borderline, but “resident ghouls” is pretty telling. I can’t shake the feeling that the founders’ disabilities are tied up in OP’s objections to the business, though maybe that’s just because of the implication that the founders being neurodivergent is why this place is so focused on Halloween.

      OP, even if this isn’t how you mean it, this is what’s coming across, and it’s probably coming across to your coworkers too. Is it possible some of the local backlash you’re getting is less because you don’t like Halloween, and more because your complaints are coming across as discriminatory and resentful?

      1. Worldwalker*

        Especially when you figure that someone writing to Alison (or Dear Abby for that matter) will always write the letter to show themselves in the best light. See: cheap-ass rolls!

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I could be way off base here, but I got a sort of sense that the LW thinks, rightly or wrongly, that some of the love for the company is because people think it’s great to see neurodivergent people achieving and that she feels the company is getting a pass on things others would be criticised for because of this.

    3. Emotional support capybara*

      It’s not just you. Speaking as a ND person, the whole letter reeks of “look what I, a Normal Person, have to put up with from these weirdos–sorry, neurodivergent eccentrics” to me.

      1. Siege*

        SAME. It’s added in to the general pity party of the letter overall, and … dude, if your kid wants to change their name because the local paper put out a hit piece on you because you complain a lot about your job … there are a lot of missing pieces here. Like. The Ravensburger puzzle factory exploded and they’re trying to reassemble all the puzzles. That many missing pieces.

      2. Splendid Colors*

        Hard same, as an Autistic person who hangs with the Haunt crowd and dressed Goth in grad school. (After graduation, I moved to an apartment complex where management is all up in my business and spooky stuff gets the wrong kind of attention.)

    4. SAS*

      Not just you! I feel like the owners neurodivergence was attempted as a shorthand for “poorly run” but there is absolutely nothing in the letter that points to disorganisation or mismanagement (assuming the bats inside the office are an exaggeration by LW). It sounds like a great organisation run by passionate people, and I’m a Halloween hater!

  42. PsychNurse*

    Girl, you can move! You actually said that everyone hates you in the city. First of all– there is no way that is true. Second of all– aren’t there any neighboring cities you could move to without upending your whole life? If not, maybe upend your life! I’ve moved to a lot of different places and gotten a lot of different jobs in my life. You do not have to stay and be a Halloween grinch! Go find a job that won’t make you miserable!

    1. Worldwalker*

      I’m seeing a certain amount of narcissism in “I’m so important that *everyone* hates me” when it’s really only the people she can affect personally.

  43. Nekussa*

    I want to know more about the handbag thing. If they knowingly took someone’s property off of a desk and used it as a prop, that’s definitely a problem. But if the handbag was stored on a shelf somewhere, in an office full of props, I could imagine someone making an honest mistake and thinking that the handbag was yet another item in the organization’s collection and thus available for use.

    1. Colette*

      The OP says it was a “ruined handbag”. Was it ruined by being used as a prop? Was it already ruined? Was it even hers?

      I struggle to think someone would open a handbag, find a wallet/keys/etc. and think “Perfect, let’s use this as a prop”. But I could see someone who hated the place she worked being outraged that someone used a perfectly good handbag as a prop, even if it wasn’t hers.

      1. Worldwalker*

        The way it’s written, she tried to spin everything as negatively as possible. I think if it was *her* handbag, she would have said so.

  44. Lab tech*

    Quiet offices are my thing, so I’d have a head time working there, too, but man I want to buy this company’s products.

  45. Raven*

    You are not going to be changing the whole office culture, you either have to accept that you have to work the job as it is (within reason, still fine to raise safety concerns etc.) or move on.

    If you chose to move on, have a look for remote positions which can overcome the issue with finding local work. If you chose to stay, the article will blow over, just keep your head down and do good work and people will forget. (Obviously raise any serious issues but hold off on anything culture related).

    I also want to say that double page spread is a not okay thing to do. Whoever went running to the press should have raised their concerns with you directly. I wouldn’t trust whomever you’re sending those complaints to now. As well as this, most people know those pieces aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, unless you live in an unusually cliquey town, you’ll have a lot of sympathisers even if they’re not vocal about it.

    About the complaints, a key part of this might be how you’re phrasing them. For the bats, as many people pointed out, no wildlife charity is putting wild animals near humans because humans are a threat to them as much as the other way round. Think about whether you could have approached it differently (e.g. did you talk to them before sending the complaint, clarify the plan, offer alternatives etc.). You might not have been able to but it’s worth considering.

    (I’m not sure from your letter what the thing was with the bag, but they shouldn’t be taking anything without permission and you were right to raise that if it was the case).

  46. Academic librarian too*

    The absurdity of this question and Alison’s straight to the point response is killing me.
    What would this person say if a friend worked in an elementary school and demanded someone do something about those pesky germ ridden children?
    or
    worked at a library on a reference desk and complained about those annoying patrons and their questions and being interrupted constantly?
    or
    worked on a construction site and complained about the noise?
    or
    was a bee keeper who was allergic to bees?
    yikes.
    Bad fit!

    1. Desdemona*

      Funnily enough, many beekeepers become allergic to bees after a while. Turns out that you become more allergic if you’re stung fairly regularly.

    2. Lils*

      worked at a library on a reference desk and complained about those annoying patrons and their questions and being interrupted constantly?

      LOL if you only knew…this is the content of like 99% of library breakroom conversations. Well, that and cats.

      1. MentalEngineer*

        I have recently attended two (2) workplace organizing meetings being spearheaded by librarians and this was the content of 99% of the pre/post-meeting conversations and about 50% of the actual meeting.

      2. münchner kindl*

        Most librarians agree that libraries could be run so much better without any patrons (customers) at all.

        They put the books back on the wrong shelves; they talk too loud (we can’t talk among ourselves or do any loud work while open because they’re studying), …

        And we don’t have time to sit down and read all the books ourselves. (Okay, we’d still have to catalogue, order, organize shelves – but that’s our dream).

    3. Worldwalker*

      I’ve met a (former) beekeeper who was allergic to bees. He didn’t give up beekeeping because of the allergy; he moved. That seems like a very bad idea to me.

    4. Lils*

      @Academic Librarian Too, I failed to notice your username when I posted this comment, so tip o the hat to a fellow academic librarian. I agree with everything you said.

  47. Double Crochet*

    This letter is so hilarious. What did OP think they were signing up for? The added detail that they’re now the town outcast because (in their opinion) they don’t like Halloween is what really puts it over the edge for me.

    1. LizB*

      I also am so incredibly curious about what the OP thought they were getting into when they applied for this job. I mean, they did apply for it, right? They understood what business they were working for? This didn’t used to be a normal accounting firm or something and then suddenly it went all Halloween-y one day?

      I can’t currently think of any fictional property that the details of this letter align with, but it really feels like one of those fun hypothetical “What if the characters from X TV Show wrote in to AAM?” posts, it’s that weird.

  48. Omgdefinitelynotthepointbut*

    Soooo the grinch thing is bad, and the bat situation needs way more clarification for me, but in a perfect world I’d love a job like that.

  49. DrSalty*

    You CAN escape Halloween Town, though, that’s the beauty of it. You have the choice to leave this position and find a new job!! Get out and be happier!!!

  50. What She Said*

    Sorry, OP, but this is definitely a ‘you’ problem not a ‘them’ problem. You are fighting a battle you cannot win. You are not as stuck there as you think you are. You just don’t like your options but you will need to pick one and stick with it and accept it for what it is. Good luck!

  51. Bernice Clifton*

    LW, you don’t like working there. I get that you feel like you are stuck but I would caution you that you are doing a big disservice to your career by staying there. It’s really hard to believe that your feelings about the org haven’t spilled over in the way that you do your job – you don’t want to have a bad reputation at a job where you stayed for two years because of a cultural mismatch.

  52. Wait A Second*

    Can we talk for a moment about the son wanting to change his LEGAL NAME because of the newspaper article? I need this to be made into a movie.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Yeah. I was hoping it was hyperbole but who knows. The whole story is so unbelievable that he could be honestly wanting to change his name.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I told my parents I wanted to change my name when I was about 16. IMO it’s a teenager thing, even if you don’t have any sane reason for not wanting to be associated with your parents.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Meh, this feels normal for a kid whose mom is doing embarrassing stuff. It’s not a stretch that the kid is going to get made fun of in school because his mom is continually complaining about their small town’s beloved niche business that does work for worthwhile projects. “I can’t wait to change my name” sounds like a very normal kid reaction to a situation like this. Obviously we don’t know the kid’s age, but god can you imagine this happening when you were in junior high? (shudder)

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Yes, this sounds like an 8-year-old announcing they will leave home and live on their own.

    3. Sylvan*

      I guessed that the son said something about not wanting to be associated with OP-vs.-Halloween drama and it was exaggerated. Idk.

    4. Observer*

      I suspect that the article is not the only issue for Son.

      To be clear here – the article was NOT ok. But the fact that’s it’s obvious that it’s the OP says that the OP’s feelings have been well and truly broadcast to the world.

    5. allathian*

      It’s a small town. A very small one, if there really are so few admin jobs around. This probably means a low COL, so moving elsewhere can be difficult if not impossible, especially if the LW is a single parent. The choice really is to stop complaining about her job in public or to switch jobs, if she really can’t stand her current work environment.

      It’s normal for teenagers to think that their parents are embarrassing, although it’s a bit more unusual for the embarrasment to be so severe that they don’t want to be associated with them in any way. Most get over it before they’re old enough to change their legal name.

  53. HufferWare*

    Perhaps this is nothing about working at Halloweentown and everything about feeling stuck in a small town with limited options? Maybe use this as an opportunity to learn how to secure funding for your OWN business?

    1. Not that other person you didn't like*

      Oh, I love this advice! OP, get a council grant! Start a calm, bat-free business that provides a need in your community. Create a soothing, calm office with some nice plants and no eyeballs. Be the boss. Hire your own admin. Win at life! This is what I wish for you.

    1. Sharkie*

      Or year round… I just moved to the area this year and my mom visited me in July. She straight up called everyone weird cause she didnt realize it was like that year round

        1. iantrovert*

          Salem in October…ah, yes, that nightmare. I had a 5-8 minute commute from my high school to my first after-school/vacations office job on Pickering Wharf, 11 months out of the year. It was always at least an hour in October. And that was 20 years ago, I can’t imagine it’s gotten better since.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I love it there. I DON’T love the ridiculous crowds there for Halloween itself (went once, not going again), but I have been missing day trips to Salem for witchy shopping.

        1. mystiknitter*

          Two of my kids went to college in Salem and I dreaded driving through the city in October – all those people dressed completely in black, looking at their phones, not paying attention at all, just walking right in the path of cars, even at night.
          But even Salem is not Halloween Central 24/7/365! Lots of rich maritime history, a gem of a museum, terrific historic house tours, fabulous chocolates, delicious foods from the many cultures which settled there – ready to be enjoyed the other 11 months of the year :)
          (besides, all that witch stuff mostly took place in Danvers anyways!)

      2. penny dreadful analyzer*

        It’s weird year-round. It’s only bad in October because that’s when it gets so overwhelmingly crowded that it becomes a zoo, and if you live here you have to deal with stuff like getting a special resident parking permit just for October, and not being able to sleep. (On the upside I know some folks who paid off their entire wedding by AirB&B-ing out their place for each weekend in October.)

  54. WonkyStitch*

    As a neurodivergent person trying to start a small business working with neurodivergent artists, this company sounds amazeballs! But yeah, of course it wouldn’t be for everyone.

    I’d imagine if I were somehow to start doing my business full-time and hired some seamstresses or admin to work for me, they would struggle to figure out wtf I was all about, because neurodivergent = weird sometimes. It’s what makes us such great artists!

    I think the OP is not even bothering to consider all of the remote opportunities out there! My pay-the-bills job is hiring like gangbusters for client service roles. She could hole up in her house and work remotely and order groceries and never pop her head outside her door.

    This letter seems like she just wants to complain about her employers IMO

  55. Temperance*

    OP, I think you need a new job. I’m a horror movie fan and love all things Halloween-ish, but this sounds like a giant ducking nightmare.

    I think you’re going to have to commute elsewhere or look for remote work.

  56. Ann J.*

    I live from time to time in a small town in Italy. It’s very warm in the summer. No air-condition / no window nets. So if I want a small breeze I need to keep the windows wide open at night. And here’s the thing – sometimes there are bats coming into the room, flying like daredevils – high and low (this I noticed when I am awake). So I think the OP needs to do what I did – I decided I preferred the breeze and I had to accept the bats. The bats or other crazy things are not going away, so I completely agree with AAM. And I do sleep well – even with the bats flying around.

    1. Elle*

      I am extremely curious about your bat friends. Do they just fly through (presumably catching any bugs who have snuck inside)? Do they land on anything?

      In case it is not clear, I am mildly envious. My current contact with bats is limited to enjoying watching them swoop around eating bugs in the air above various rooftop bars/restaurants when in Palm Springs.

      1. Ann J*

        Mostly just flying around. Maybe they think my bedroom is a cave. But one time it has landing on a dresser. The window in that room was closed at that time. I think the bat was a bit confused. It just seemed to look around the room. So we turned off the lights and opened a window. Then it flew out into the night :-). I am asleep most nights, so it might have happened several times without me noticing.

          1. Katiekins*

            I love how the Romance language names are so flowing and multisyllabic–pipistrelli, murcielago–and then in English it’s just the flat, matter of fact “bat.”

              1. münchner kindl*

                I’ve read somewhere that the English word is weird: it was originally “Flutterby” which makes some sense, and then they played around and it was switched to butterfly (which doesn’t make sense).

                Apparently, the german word doesn’t derive from Schmettern = shatter, but from Schmetten = milk cream, because of a local believe that witches turned into butterflies and stole the cream.

    2. Elmost*

      The bats flying through his room as a child in Hungary was the reason my grandfather gave for perpetually sleeping with his head under the blanket at night for his whole life, lol.

      As a North American, I remain baffled as to the lack of common use of window screens in Europe, but maybe they’re just hard to retrofit on old houses?

      1. Ann J*

        They are very common around here. At least in the countryside (our apartment is in the city). But we rent and don’t want to put in those extra money. And strangely enough, we have very little flies and bugs in the house- so we never felt a need to spend the money on screens.

      2. Too Many Tabs Open*

        The handful of European houses I’m familiar with have the windows that pivot in the middle to open, so screens wouldn’t be feasible without completely replacing the window.

      3. Midwest Problems*

        Nah. Currently in Germany and they sell screens you stick on with velcro tape, you don’t have to change the windows to fit the American-style metal frame ones. It’s just not something that bothers people that much, I guess. I have been too lazy to put up the screens and aside from sweeping up dead bugs a fair bit it’s not a big problem. I haven’t had any bats.

      4. münchner kindl*

        I thought window screens were very practical when I was in the US; but until climate crisis, summers weren’t long enough and hot enough to need it, and not enough bugs to keep out (in middle Europe/ Germany; in Italy, mosquitos loved to eat us (bite) during the night.)

        I wonder if it will become more common now, or if we manage to make cities more resilient against heat.

    1. Joanna*

      LOL. I’m so curious about the bat situation. A single bat eats more than 1000 bugs a night. Where are all of the bugs going to come from? I need answers to my bat logistics questions.

      1. PsychNurse*

        Yes– get OP back and I think we need a solid 20-30 minutes. Whose handbag was it? Where did the complaints come from: You or other people? Where EXACTLY is the bat box going to be??

  57. kiki*

    I feel like I’ve been a similar (but less extreme and interesting) version of this. You have some unimpeachably valid complaints (bats inside the office for more than a couple hours with a trained handler *is* a bad idea, purses should not be commandeered to be used as props, etc.), but this is always going to be an eccentric Halloween business. Wishing that it will become a more typical office environment without Halloween stuff going on just isn’t going to happen.

    In my much-less interesting situation, I joined a small agency and was frustrated it wasn’t more like my previous super organized corporate jobs. I was constantly trying to make things more structured and organized until I realized, “This is a small agency. It was founded because the owners don’t like processes and systems.” I may think the founders are mistaken on the value of those things, but the business was the way it was because the people there wanted it that way. Unless something radically changed, it was always going to be a small agency where people fly by the seat of their pants. I had to accept that and learn to live with it or leave; I left.

  58. Generic Name*

    Respectfully, why are you staying in a job you hate with people you hate in a town who hates you? Your child wants to change his name because of the surrounding drama? If this isn’t an expression of hyperbole, I’m not sure what you are expecting to happen. Are you expecting an entire company (and town that supports them) to completely change? I admit I’m fairly confused by your letter. There is so much passive voice and indirect language that I can’t tell what others are doing and what you are doing. If it was your handbag that was ruined (presumably without your permission), that is super not okay, but why was it phrased so oddly? If it is a random old already ruined handbag that got further ruined with gross stuff inside it, I’m not sure what the problem is, other than that just not being your thing. Who is doing all the complaining? Is it you and up to 9 other people, or have you made 10+ complaints?

    It’s clear that these people (whether it’s just your company or the whole damn town) are not Your People. And that’s okay. Everybody is different, and everybody doesn’t have to like everyone else. You don’t have to subject yourself to being surrounded by people/things you hate. But you also can’t expect a whole company/town to change to suit you.

  59. KoiFeeder*

    …OP, I know you hate your office, but I am a neurodivergent person who is getting a degree in special effects, specifically arthropod locomotion, and I really really really want to know what company this is. Please, I promise to leave you alone and never interact with you if that’s what you want.

  60. SuspectedDragon*

    As they say on reddit, “the iranian yogurt is not the issue!” Or, in this case, the office bats. It’s a bad job fit and you certainly have my sympathies – I’m currently in a job that I don’t like but pays well, has good benefits, etc. I’m not thrilled with the situation but I’ve consciously made the decision to stick with it for the good things it gets me. Reframing it like that helps me a lot when I’m discouraged/annoyed/whatever. In your case, is the cushier office job worth putting up with the bat-loving weirdos*? Only you can decide that for yourself.

    *I have a 3/4 sleeve tattoo of bats, so I am definitely one of those weirdos!

      1. allathian*

        Yup, me too. Although to be fair, a sizable percentage of the population can’t physically handle manual or service jobs, I know I couldn’t be on my feet for 8 hours a day anymore, even if it was never a problem for me in my 20s. The LW didn’t say anything like that, though and their disdain for those jobs is clear in the letter.

        My first 5 or so jobs were in retail. I was never ashamed of doing them, I was just happy to have *a job* when a sizable percentage of my cohort were unemployed. I always knew that I wasn’t going to be doing those jobs forever, but I never felt anything but respect for my lovely older coworkers who never worked anywhere else except retail.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I would just be useless at most manual jobs. I have fears of heights and germs (am ridiculously afraid of heights, to the point I was walking down the stairs of my sister’s house yesterday, putting my feet sideways because the steps were kind of narrow and I was afraid of falling if my feet weren’t completely on them, and holding the bannisters on both sides), have little or no spacial awareness and am generally awkward.

          I did work retail for a year and did OK at it. Didn’t enjoy it, but…didn’t hate it the way the LW seems to hate her job and I’d do it again before remaining in a company I hated that much.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Following the “eccentrics” comment that also ruffled me a little but to be generous to the OP these are more public jobs and OP seems concerned about their reputation in the community. So it might feel like being under a spotlight.

      1. pope suburban*

        That’s true, but something about the way it was framed here was pretty judgy. If it was a simple issue of the money, well, it’s okay to say so. We all have to get by and if there’s a dearth of jobs that pay a livable wage, that’s a real problem. Casting it as a problem with the nature of service or manual work, however, can come across as classist or snobby, even if that’s not intended. Here, that part isn’t playing very well with some other parts of the letter, so I can understand why people have this reading of it.

      2. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

        Not only that, but have you ever tried actually GETTING a manual or service job when you have a white collar background?

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Nod. And do they have health insurance? And can the OP physically do those jobs? Like I realized I needed to eat way more than normal people on a service job. ( going 5 hours without food? Nope)

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Given that Alison mentioned British spelling, the health insurance may not be an issue. I know the UK has free healthcare for everybody; in Ireland (and I very much doubt this is Ireland anyway, not for any reason I can put my finger on, but it just doesn’t have an Irish feel to it) where we DO have health insurance, it is usually not through our workplaces and is not needed by those on low incomes who DO get fully free healthcare from the state (the whole thing makes no sense in general; I reckon somebody tosses a coin to decide what is free to who and honestly, I think the lack of certainty is what has a lot of us getting health insurance, just in CASE). I don’t know about Australia or New Zealand, but…I suspect the issue isn’t so much of a thing in those as in the US either. From what I’ve seen, the Australian system sounds like it might be a little like ours?

    2. Chirpy*

      yup. OP, don’t be classist. Service and manual labor are just jobs that need to be done. Yes, many of those jobs do suck but they do not lessen the worth of the people who work them.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      To be honest, I get why. Manual jobs break down your body after awhile and service jobs are a special hell. Halloweentown probably is better than those.

  61. Mystic*

    I want this job, it sounds Wicked interesting.
    I can understand the bats thing being a bit too much for some people, but the rest? it’s giving people jobs, and income supposedly – it doesn’t sound like a volunteer position.

  62. Nea*

    OP – I understand that your nerves are in shreds. Mine would be too if I was listening to cackling and howls and whatever all day long. I do understand.

    That said… with your frustration and anxiety so high, I think that you’ve lost some perspective.

    1) Not everyone in the city hates you. It’s statistically impossible. There are others in the city who don’t read the newspaper or would also be a nervous wreck in that situation.

    2) You are not looking at a future of service or farm work because this cannot be the only business in the city that needs admin workers. Heck, the newspaper that thinks you’re so grinchy is a business that needs admin! Look around to other places in this area as well as looking for remote work. You have a work history; that’s more important than one newspaper article.

    3) You are a cultural mismatch for this business. That’s nobody’s fault. Not theirs, for running the business like they do; not yours for loathing it. This office is toxic to you and that’s a simple statement of fact. Like anyone else in a toxic working situation, the only advice is to get out.

    4) It is valid to be upset that personal property is ruined, whether it be mistaken for a prop handbag or just grabbed one day. I hope it was reimbursed or replaced.

    Your body told you the truth – you need to be out. Take its advice.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, me too. Nea put it very well.

        Sure, when you’re in an anxiety spiral as it looks like this LW is, it’s very hard to see a way out. But things rarely are as bad as they seem.

  63. Goldie*

    I can’t help but chuckle at all this, not because I think OP is ridiculous but the irony of it. It’s an excellent demonstration of how neurodivergent minds can feel every day surrounded by neurotypical minds.

    The bats though, I gotta agree with OP on that. No way do I want bats in my office.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Very true! I was reading something recently about how divergent people don’t really have social deficiencies, a group of divergent people in a room or a group of typical people in a room will all have relative success communicating. The issue comes when you mix the two because…well, this.