I quit my horrible job but they’re pressuring me to stay and I feel like a villain

A reader writes:

I work in the office of a small family business. I just hit my one-year anniversary here. I’m probably up there as one of the longest-tenured employees in here. We are severely understaffed on a good day. One coworker just finished up her two-weeks notice after being here for two months, and another coworker just straight up had enough and walked out halfway through the morning last week. She lasted four months. Her predecessor lasted one day. She’s also not the first person to walk out in the middle of the day in my tenure here.

As you can probably guess from that, the atmosphere in here is very, very toxic and I want to leave.

Or, at least, I’m incredibly torn. I love most of my coworkers. I’ve never worked anywhere this relaxed before. The work is fun and the atmosphere can be vibrant. The company also inspires great loyalty and there are lifers here who have worked decades at this place.

The biggest problem is that it’s run by one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve ever seen. Upper management all belongs to this family. They’re not shy about airing their dirty laundry publicly: airing grievances and straight-out fighting over the radios is a common occurrence. The entire place can sometimes get caught up in it. One upper manager is notorious for hiding behind the office staff and getting them to enact his decisions so that he doesn’t get caught by the fall-out. There’s another who spends an honestly stunning amount of time looking over everyone’s work and emailing detailed and backstabbing “corrections” to our direct manager. Everyone is so overworked that we’re snapping at each other, and I regularly have to work through lunch so hard that I forget to even eat at my desk.

There are also things that make me … uneasy. One person is leaving because whatever she does, she can’t get the invoicing to come out right. The person who walked out did so partly because it was implied she had stolen something … only to have the item in question turn up in the possession of the family member who had hinted she stole it. There is one member of the family who is the only person to understand the accounting practices in the building, and she gets vicious anytime anyone even asks her a question about it. Sometimes things are said to deliberately confuse the owner. Sometimes if we push back on something the owner wouldn’t want us to do, we’re told to just not tell him it’s happening.

I even gave my notice last week. I called out because I needed a mental health day after some bad news in my personal life and was pushed into coming in anyway halfway through the day, which … I guess is fair considering we’re working on less than skeleton staff and I wasn’t physically sick, but having to spend the day crying at my desk between getting called into meetings that turned into family arguments left me feeling so much more burnt out than ever and I barely got any work done anyway. At one point of blatant mismanagement, I snapped and ended up straight-up yelling at a certain member of the family over the phone about everything that has been going on in this place. For 18 minutes. I don’t think there’s any way I can really convey how NOT LIKE ME something like that is. I don’t yell at coworkers and I certainly don’t yell at my boss. I don’t know how I’m still employed. (There’s also no HR in this place. We have an outside vendor handle payroll and hire by getting whoever looks the least stressed to handle the online job postings.)

However, my new direct manager is a force of nature and has decided she is going to turn this place around single-handedly. And that plan involves my staying. And so she has decided she will motivate me to stay by trying to convince me several times a day that she needs me here. She actually delayed me giving my notice earlier by pleading that I need to stay “for her.” She doesn’t stop. I’ve called her on it, made jokes about it, asked her to stop.

When that wasn’t enough, she started holding what I’m calling Come-to-Jesus meetings. These take place seemingly by accident, but always when the coworkers I like the most and who don’t want me to leave just happen to be around … AND the owner of the company, who also doesn’t want me to leave. She’ll give a long, loud motivational speech about all the things she plans to change (including limiting the power certain family members hold over the office) and how she’s going to turn it around, and ending by asking me, in front of everyone, if I’ll stay. It’s hard to say no without feeling like a horrible villain.

Today I didn’t manage to stick to my guns, gave in, and said I’d stay. I feel awful about it. I cried at my desk after. This is a normal occurrence for people here. I am so burnt out that it’s hard to focus on anything, and if I stay I’m going to have to hold the workload of multiple people while training new people. And that’s assuming any of the big sweeping changes she’s talking about even make it past the planning stage, which they, uh, haven’t. Any of them. (Admittedly she’s only been here for a month and a half.)

I don’t know how to keep going at this job if I stay. I’m too burnt out to hold to a decision to leave in the face of the peer pressure I’m getting. I’m more than halfway to just … not showing up one morning, which honestly most of the people in my personal life are supporting, but that’s not something I’ve ever done in my life and would feel horribly guilty if I did. How on earth do I navigate this situation while trying to shore up my own burnout?

Gee, I wonder why people are walking out without notice.

But look: Do you want to leave the job? The answer is clearly yes, which means that you hold all the power here. All you have to do is stick to your decision.

You’ve already done the hard part — making your decision. Now all you need to do is watch your boss behaving like a loon (because this is loon behavior), let that be validation that you are doing the right thing, and steadfastly decline to change your mind for the next two weeks.

It is very, very normal to leave a job — even jobs that are wonderful in every way, pay you well, don’t overwork you, and are run by competent, supportive management. People leave those jobs all the time! There is nothing weird or shocking or villainous about you leaving any job, and not least one like this. None of your coworkers will be outraged that you left. They know why you’re leaving. They all get it. Some/most of them probably wish they could leave too.

In fact, if it helps, remind yourself that by holding fast and not being talked out of quitting, you are modeling healthy behavior for your coworkers. If you let yourself get pressured into staying, some of them are likely to fall victim to the same thing. That’s not the main reason you should stick to your guns, of course! But you’re feeling public pressure about your coworkers, so turn those feelings to your advantage instead.

When your boss continues to pressure you to stay, you have the option of saying, “I’m happy to work out my two-week notice period but my resignation isn’t up for ongoing debate. If you’re going to continue trying to talk me out of it, I will need to wrap up earlier.” Or you can just keep saying no. It’s up to you.

In case it helps you fortify yourself: Your new boss isn’t going to be able to make any of those sweeping changes she’s talking about! For one thing, the dysfunction comes from above her, and she doesn’t have the ability to make people above her change. For another, she’s bringing plenty of dysfunction to the party herself — declaring she will limit the power of the family members? (How?) Hassling you publicly multiple times a day? Continuing when you’ve clearly asked her to stop? She’s just bringing a new brand of dysfunction to the mix.

Stick to your resignation and get yourself out of this mayhem. Encourage your coworkers to follow suit.

And by the way — the bookkeeping doesn’t add up and the only person who understands the accounting gets angry when questioned about it? There’s a high probability that person is embezzling or engaging in other financial shenanigans.

{ 512 comments… read them below }

    1. LTR FTW*

      Yes definitely get out!!! The new manager might have big ambitions but she will never ever ever change anything in that place. Don’t let her drag you down with her!

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I honestly think the new manager is just blowing smoke, saying whatever pops into her brain in that moment to try and keep the employees she sees as critical. But honestly – I agree with Alison, the manager is just a new flavor of dysfunction.

        OP – get out, before this place does more damage to your health than it already has.

        1. Green Goose*

          Agreed! I’m sorry you are in such an uncomfortable leave period OP. Just remember that the two weeks will suck but then you will be done with the place. It feels bad now but you’ll have such a weight lifted off your shoulders once you are done.

          And don’t worry about references. You could potentially even write back into Alison about advice for a former employer who will give a bad reference simply because you left.

          1. Reluctant+Mezzo*

            And OP, you may be the next one accused of stealing something, or responsible for the accounts not adding up right. Run!

      2. Anonym*

        New manager also sounds JUST AS DYSFUNCTIONAL AND AWFUL as the leadership!! Her behavior toward OP is absolutely out of line and unacceptable!

        1. KC*

          Not to mention delusional! Working at a family business and insisting you’ll change that dynamic? What are you gonna do, force the family into group therapy sessions??

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Finally, a letter where “My boss wants me to go to therapy with her and my dad” would actually be a reasonable solution.

          2. EPLawyer*

            Well there was that one boss that wanted her employee to go to couples counseling — and was dating her dad.

          3. Hlao-roo*

            For those who haven’t read the letter Falling Diphthong and EPLawyer are referencing, search for the “my dad is dating my boss, and they want me to go to couples therapy with them” post from May 9, 2018.

        2. Lucy P*

          I think we’re in a time where we can safely say that it’s not about what the new manager needs, but what OP needs. “Stay, because I need you” isn’t enough reason to stay, especially at that place.

      3. Daisy*

        That direct manager is as toxic as the only person who “understands” the accounting. Those “Come to Jesus” meetings are straight-up bullying and she does it in front of the coworkers you like for maximum effect.

        Staying is akin to jumping off a bridge so the person already in the water has company while they drown. Get out, get out, get out – and when you are in a safe spot throw a line to those left behind (offer to be a reference, or let them know about jobs available at your new employer).

        1. ferrina*

          Yep, your manager is bullying you to stay. She’s making a public scene about how you’ll break her heart and bring down everything you’ve all worked so hard for….seriously, this feels like it’s straight out of Mean Girls.

          Another thought for you- this manager who’s bullying you to stay because “she needs you”? When she’s ready to go, do you really think she’d give you a head’s up? Or will she announce that she’s gone and leave you to deal with the fall out?

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            And honestly? You should not stay at this job to fulfill other people’s needs when nobody at this company is concerned about fulfilling your needs. As somebody who spent most of my life bamboozled into believing filling my own needs was less important that filling other people’s needs, I don’t want that future for you.

            Your boss doesn’t want you to stay so she can help you get what you need. She wants you to stay so she can keep guilting you into upholding a dysfunctional system. But there are jobs out there that will meet your needs, and you are well within your rights to find one.

      4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        This is a whole mess.
        The fact that this new manager thinks it’s appropriate to harangue you multiple times a day and try to use social pressure of putting you on the spot in front of your coworkers is a pretty strong indication that she sucks, too. What she’s doing is super not cool. And who knows what other nonsense she’s going to pull. She’s not going to make anything better. She’s going to make things dramatically worse.

      5. MigraineMonth*

        Even if the new manager was somehow able to change everything about the place, it would *still* be dysfunctional, because the new manager is also toxic. None of what she is doing is actually good management. Public shaming/pressure is nowhere near okay. She can at least see that the place is a toxic dump, so she should be supporting her reports in getting out as soon as possible.

    2. Abogado Avocado*

      Yes, run x 1000!

      Alison is totally right when she writes, “And by the way — the bookkeeping doesn’t add up and the only person who understands the accounting gets angry when questioned about it? There’s a high probability that person is embezzling or engaging in other financial shenanigans.” You really don’t want to be around when the authorities figure this out and come after the family. Get out now, while you can, and do not look back. This place has more problems than even you are likely to know.

      1. Antilles*

        Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
        -The absolute BEST case scenario here is that the books don’t balance because the company is so fiscally incompetent that they have no idea how much money they have or what the financial state of the company is.
        -The slightly more likely scenario is that the bookkeeping doesn’t balance because they’re on the verge of bankruptcy and just trying to juggle bills until everything falls apart.
        -The most likely scenario is straight up embezzlement or fraud and that’s why nothing balances.

        In none of these scenarios do you want to stay employed at this company.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Exactly, because the employees still there when the -ish hits the fan will quickly go from “employee” status to “unpaid creditor” status, and will likely find whatever insurance, other benefits they are supposed to have access to will be cut off because the company didn’t pay their bills.

          LW, please run like someone is chasing you with a flame thrower.

          This may be one of the circumstances where quitting without another job lined up is actually the right thing to do, if your finances, life make that possible. Because the sooner you are away from all the many many bees, the sooner you will start to regain your mental, emotional, physical balance and focus on your next career move and get started working towards that.

          Think of every day you stay there as a day spent waist deep in muck and seawater, struggling to bail out a boat the *captains* are actively trying to sink.
          Instead you could just step off onto dry land, take a shower, put on some fresh clothes and be done with it.

          1. Lupe*

            I’d also argue that, in the worst case scenario, you end up caught up into an investigation into whatever shadiness is going on – think “devices you have used for work impounded by law enforcement for an indeterminate time” and “having to testify in court”

            it’s fairly unlikely, but when these kind of places fall, they fall hard

        2. JustaTech*

          And even in the best case, it will be a nightmare to fix and the amount of shouting, fighting and accusations during the fixing period will at least double over the current (unacceptable) average.

          This boat is sinking fast, get out!

      2. LTR FTW*

        Definitely keep in touch with your former coworkers after you leave, though, so you can get all the dirt when the place implodes spectacularly!

      3. so very anonymous*

        Oh yes. One of the reasons I was laid off from my last job was because I knew that my manager was playing fast & loose with the forecasting and was favoring one side of the company over another in the way she was doing it–and I was the SME on how all of that was supposed to work.

    3. ursula*

      Oh my god leave!! Leeeeeeeave! Leave at all costs! My brain is screaming!!! This place is killing you!!!!! Every time you feel pressured to stay, that is one more sign that you are right to leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeave! Reading this sent me into full-body “I will come and get you myself, I will come pick you up, you need to get out of there” mode, which I realize is inappropriate for a stranger on the internet, even if it comes from good intentions. You’re almost out, you’re doing great!! But Oh My God!!!!!!!!

      1. Wombats and Tequila*

        The phrase “house of bees” came to mind.

        OP, when the Feds show up and start hauling boxes away, how down are you for the sleepless nights that will ensue as you wonder whether or not you will be on the indictment, and how will you pay for your lawyer now that the place has been shuttered and you don’t have a job anyway?

        Do you really think your honest, well meaning self can escape legal trouble when you have management that is happy to let employees take the fall for the little stuff?

        I’ll be looking forward to seeing you back her again on Friday Good News.

        1. Observer*

          OP, when the Feds show up and start hauling boxes away, how down are you for the sleepless nights that will ensue as you wonder whether or not you will be on the indictment, and how will you pay for yo

          OP, please take this seriously. I can’t say that it’s the MOST likely scenario. But it is totally possible. And not something a reasonable person would call unlikely.

          Do you really think your honest, well meaning self can escape legal trouble when you have management that is happy to let employees take the fall for the little stuff?

          The answer to that should be a resounding NO. You know that they are liars. You know that, BEST case, they are incompetent idiots, and you know that they never take responsibility for their behavior. There is no way that is going to get better when the stakes get REALLY high for them.

          I’ll be looking forward to seeing you back her again on Friday Good News.

          Yes! Or in the updates.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Oh its not just they don’t take responsibility — they will literally blame others. Or even set up others to take the blame.

            I am side eyeing that accusation of theft when the item was in the family member’s posession SO HARD. You KNOW they hid the thing so they could accuse someone of theft.

            1. yala*

              Yeah, that was a bit 0.0 moment for me too. They need non-family around to take the fall for things. OP needs to get out of that pot before it boils over.

              1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                Yeah, that’s when the whole thing turned from “oh boy, this is really bad” to “WTF, this place is full of bees and the bees are all holding flashing red signs to invite their velociraptor friends to come in, too.”

                Honestly, at this point, I’d strongly consider quitting without notice. Manipulative people are not above turning on you when they’re losing power over you. Who knows what they would do over the 2 weeks? Heck, if they got wind of your resignation, who knows what they’re cooking up now?

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

                  Yes, run! fast! now! and maybe seek out some legal advice on appropriate CYA in case this nightmare hive full of killer bees starts to swarm.

                  Note, IANAL.

        2. so very anonymous*

          I know of someone who did end up going to jail because of their manager’s malfeasance–because they knew and didn’t say anything. Get out get out get out.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        LW is one of the longest-tenured employees at *one year*. That’s genuinely horrifying. Most of the “worst boss of the year” contenders have reports that stay longer than that.

        1. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

          That stuck out to me too. Who are these “lifers” who have worked decades? Clients, maybe, employees, nope.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I wondered that too! Why are some people sticking around for decades while others bail mid-first day??

          2. coffee*

            I assume the company is something like, say, manufacturing? The office staff has a huge turnover and the factory staff are lifers. Office culture is terrible, factory culture is good.

            1. Chickaletta*

              Probably very close to this! I worked for 3 months at a family trade business, although no where as bad as the level OP is experiencing. The lifers were the sales people who a) spent 90% of their time away from the office visiting clients and b) earned a nice commission that perhaps made their jobs more tolerable.

    4. She of Many Hats*

      Yes – please leave NOW.

      You say you like your co-workers but the behaviors between even the non-family members is toxic to each other, whether intentional or not. I suspect what you’re feeling is the “we’re trapped here together” loyalty of fellow prisoners.

      But as Alison said, you’re not a prisoner. You don’t owe them loyalty to help turn this company and its culture around. You can’t help them, unless, any other entity in freefall, they’re ready to do the hard work of changing themselves.

      Leave sooner than later so keep your mental health and so you don’t further internalize toxic corporate behaviors.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        It sounds like you’re overworked into exhaustion right now. That’s intentional. Your employer relies on you being too tired to think straight. Take a sick day tomorrow and the day after. Don’t check your email and mute your phone. Breathe, relax, just be, and read Issendai’s article on “sick systems”.

        When you go back to work, tell your manager how much notice is remaining (just because she pressured you into saying you’d stay doesn’t meant the clock resets) and that if she tries to convince you to stay again you will leave immediately.

        I know it doesn’t feel that way right now, but as Alison said, LW, you have *all* the power here. All of their bullying and public shaming won’t change the fact that you can, at any moment, just stand up and walk out.

    5. Artemesia*

      ‘The next time I am pressured to rescind my resignation I am leaving without staying the two weeks.’ Then do it.

      You are not a slave; you owe them nothing but the work you are paid to do while you are there; stick to your guns.

      1. FrenchCusser*

        Just leave. I’ve walked out of better situations than that and never regretted it for a moment.

        Just go. Pack up and go – or decide what you can abandon and just go.

        Just go.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          You have already submitted a resignation letter. Tell your boss that you are sticking by that end date and that if she starts pressuring you to stay you will depart immediately. Then clean out your desk of all that you can’t carry. If she starts the bullying again, walk out and don’t return.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is an office full of bees. Bees waving red flags, and the flags have pictures of bees on them.

      Your direct supervisor is delusional if she thinks she can “turn this around”.

      1. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

        Yes, get out get out get out! And the ‘full of bees, waving red flags that have pictures of bees on them’ is what I wanted to say but put so much better than I could have!

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        “Full of bees” really doesn’t convey how bad this is. Bees have social value. They are pollinators! They make honey! I mean, I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a room full of them, but bees are great.

        This place is full of, I dunno, warrior wasps. Warrior wasps with little flamethrowers.

        What I’m saying is: OP, leave now. Leave like a scary clown just showed up and said, “Where do you want my to put the large box of anthrax?”

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Yellow jackets.

          Angry, end of summer, will hide in your apple juice and sting you, and sting you again, ferociously, yellow jackets, who will also send out flares to aim ALL the other angry yellow jackets at you.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Exactly. It’s common wisdom that if you’re very calm and careful, stinging insects will leave you alone, but that is not the case for yellow jackets! They will sting you just because they can.

            I’m sure that the only reason you’ve managed to stay a whole year is by keeping your head down and being careful, but this place is going to sting you anyway. So treat this workplace like it’s full of yellow jackets: walk briskly away!

      3. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        “Bees waving red flags, and the flags have pictures of bees on them.”

        I just want to say how much I love this imagery! I’m having to stifle my giggles because my cat is sleeping on my shoulder (I’m in bed), and she get quite disgruntled if I do anything to disturb her tranquility. But omg, the mental image of bees waving tiny flags with pictures of bees on them is killing me!

        P.S. Needless to say, I agree with you and everyone else that the LW should run, run, run, fast and far!

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Please leave, OP, before this toxic mess gets to you even more than it already has. And please start reading all the great AAM posts about healing from toxic workplaces.
      In case you needed any further validation that this is a toxic workplace, I think this is one of the worst ones we’ve seen here on AAM. Sooooo bad.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        The maximum tenure is one year. One.

        I think the boss who wanted employees to literally give him a part of their liver had employees who lasted longer than that.

    8. Luna*

      Definitely run! Especially with the contradictory examples. This places ‘inspires loyalty’ but you have people frequently leaving within months or even days of starting, and it’s ‘not the first time someone walked out’ in the year that OP’s been working there? You can’t claim the former when the evidence of the latter exists.

  1. Rob*

    One of the special challenges in this letter is how OP actually gave in and said she would stay. Its going to be hard to go back to her manager and say “Actually I’m not staying”

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Rob’s right that it’s going to be super awkward and unpleasant to have that conversation. But yeah, there’s not much the manager can actually threaten LW with. Only way out is through.

      2. Luna*

        Hah! Yeah, that was my stance when I worked my notice period in my bad hotel job and had zero cares anymore. I still did my job, but I feigned no enthusiasm to the guests, nor did I fake worry if they complained to me about something I wasn’t informed about. (Yes, they refused to let me know about any kind of info during my notice period. Some promotion going on where you get vouchers for opting out of housekeeping? I wasn’t informed, go ask one of the employees that still works here next week, it’s their problem)

        If they had sent me home, would have made no difference for me. I was losing my job, anyway. Would have just made my one week of vacation during the two-week notice period longer. And the reference they gave me later (here in Germany, those tend to be written) was still stellar.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Right. So OP, just leave. I think it’s great you said you would stay – that gets her off your back.
      Work out your 2 weeks (or just stop going in!) and then walk out and never go back.

      Send an email that says, it’s been a pleasure working with you, I wish you every success. As you know, today is the last day of my notice period.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Oooh, this is a great idea. I’m guessing that you won’t need them for future references, will you, OP? Because if you don’t you should totally do this. But honestly, unless you are desperate for the pay, I would suggest you not bother with two weeks notice. Your mental health is worth a LOT more than whatever they might pay you in those two weeks.

        1. Phoenix Wright*

          There’s no good reference either way. One of OP’s ex coworkers was falsely accused of thievery, and another one of cooking the books. For all intents and purposes, the best course of action would be to act like a bad reference is coming no matter what. That would free OP to leave with no notice in case she needs it, which she probably will.

          1. Observer*

            One of OP’s ex coworkers was falsely accused of thievery,

            And it’s pretty obvious that this was a deliberate action, NOT a mistake.

          2. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yes, I meant to add this to my comment. OP shouldn’t worry about a reference from them anyway because either they will give you a terrible reference, other companies already know they are terrible so a reference won’t be worth anything, or the company will disintegrate because of their awful environment or because the family is all criminals.

        2. Observer*

          I’m guessing that you won’t need them for future references, will you, OP? Because if you don’t you should totally do this

          It doesn’t matter. Because no matter what the OP does, they are not getting a good reference from that crazy town.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            I left on a perfectly fine note from my first ever job, and I still would never trust my old boss to give a good reference. Fortunately, I’ve stayed long enough at my current place that I have multiple great references in people who left before I did.

      2. Empress Matilda*

        Yeah, I don’t normally advocate for quitting without notice, but this is an extraordinary situation. Every fibre of my being is screaming GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.

        Honestly OP, you could leave right now if you’re in the office – just close your laptop and go. Or if you’re not currently in there and there’s nothing personal you need to retrieve – don’t go back.

        Some of your former colleagues have done this, and there’s a good reason for it. This place really is that bad!

        1. ferrina*

          Yup. +1 for leave and don’t come back. You NEED to get out of this situation- Arrested Development was never intended as an actual business model.

          Normally I’d say work your 2 weeks, but you are being bullied and put under high pressure tactics to stay. Unfortunately, these toxic strategies can work, so if you need to walk with no notice, do it. Do whatever you need to to get out.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            It’s amazing the number of families that appear to have watched Arrested Development for tips on how to run a family business, isn’t it?

    2. old curmudgeon*

      It doesn’t need to be a special challenge unless OP decides to make it one. OP doesn’t need to explain or justify the fact that she was badgered and harassed into agreeing to something that is not in her best interests.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Exactly. Treat it as just informing the manager that you’re leaving on X date. Don’t get sucked into explaining why you changed your mind. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that you will be leaving on X date.

        Reasons are for reasonable people. For unreasonable people, reasons are just things for them to use in an argument.

    3. Momma Bear*

      But not impossible. OP could say, “I felt a lot of pressure to stay, but I’ve given it some thought and I resubmit my resignation.” Maybe the boss will be mad, but that’s not OP’s problem.

      1. Anonym*

        …with the original notice date – don’t push it back, OP. These people are far beyond deserving normal courtesies, much less special considerations.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yes, this right here. I agree 100% that these people are far beyond deserving normal courtesies. Keep your original notice date, OP, and run for the hills and don’t look back.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Yessss, this is a “I need to retract my earlier statement and stick with the original end date” situation not a “congrats you’ve pushed back my end date to 2 weeks from now, promise you won’t do it again?” scenario.

      2. High Score!*

        And don’t put in overtime during the resignation period. You are being kind to not just walk out of that toxic h3ll hole with no notice. It’s ok to just walk away if you are pressured, badgered, or threatened. Reasonable employers don’t do those things.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          YUP. If you stay through a notice, do a reasonable amount of work to document/hand off tasks, but don’t go above and beyond.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          Yes, LW, today, right now even, even if you’re planning to come into work tomorrow, gather anything you’d want to take with you and pack it up. (Actually with this crew, I’d take a video of myself packing my stuff up, closing my bag, and walking out of the building with it so that you’ve got a “nope, it wasn’t me” video if they claim you took something)

          And then, when you’re safely at home, with all your belongings, think long and hard about whether you ever want to step foot in there again. Because you don’t have to and they can’t make you.
          A former co-worker of mine left for lunch one day during his two week notice period, and someone noticed a few hours later that he had left a note on his desk saying essentially “you know that notice period I told you about? Never mind. Here’s my key. Good luck in the future. Bye!” He never came back. And that was at a relatively functional workplace … I have no idea why he did that. And no one went looking for him or sent bees his way. You can simply leave; it’s only a job, not indentured servitude.

      3. Anon for this*

        “Maybe the boss will be mad, but that’s not OP’s problem.”

        THISSSSS! It is not your responsibility to make sure other people are happy. It is not your responsibility to ensure they don’t get mad.

        I would argue you have 1 responsibility in this situation: taking care of your own mental and physical health. Get out, get out, get out!

    4. Cats and Bats Rule*

      OP can still go back and say that she is not staying. Personally, I would not try to work out a notice because of the crap her manager pulled, but that’s just me.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreeing with this. This sounds like one of the places where a no notice resignation is your best option.

        Think about it – you’re one of the longest tenured non-family employees at a YEAR. Please protect yourself and get out.

    5. Tio*

      Yes OP, just come in the next mornign and say “I got pressured to say I was staying, but I will not be. my end date remains X.” There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. You must remain firm. And if it gets really bad, just walk out. Seriously. These people are not going to give you a good reference, which is the only reason to stay; the people who are, already understand why you’d quit. Just go. RUN.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        The biggest skill OP needs to lean into right now is tuning out. OP, when the weeping and wailing occurs, zone out. To the point someone says, “Hello? Are you paying attention?” Sing “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” in your head. Recite Sonnet 141 until they’re done. Tap your foot to the meter. Look rude. Anything to not engage with the person trying to make you stay. They are using manipulation tactics on you and they are working. You don’t have an obligation to engage.

        Honestly I support no-showing, because they have all forfeited their right to a notice period with their unreasonable behavior, which you have a right to protect yourself from, OP. But if you’re intent on giving notice, learn to not engage. Let the waves of pressure and guilt wash over you, and imagine your peaceful job search at home, after you block all their numbers.

      2. Clobberin' Time*

        She doesn’t even need to come in the next morning! She can just call in and tell them she won’t be back.

    6. Sassenach*

      nope, not a challenge at all. She can absolutely go back and say she has changed her mind and that TODAY is her last day. I don’t see the challenge at all.

      1. Lab Boss*

        It’s a challenge because in a normal workplace if you gave notice and they used a normal method (like a counter-offer) to convince you to stay, it would be a weird and challenging situation to accept the counter-offer and then go back and say you changed your mind again and were leaving after all. Possible, but awkward.

        This workplace is miles from normal, and OP can’t hold herself to the way a normal job would be handled.

        1. ferrina*

          Yep. The boss is deeply toxic and OP has been living in toxicity for over a year now. Trauma bonding is very likely, and that is a very difficult thing to undo. And honestly, it may have been the only way OP can survive in this place. It’s very normal, and it’s very much a challenge.

          OP needs to get out however they can.

      2. yala*

        Yeah, I do NOT think OP should try to finish out the 2 weeks. It’s not worth the emotional exhaustion, and she’s unlikely to be able to get much done. Better to just rip the bandaid off, since they’ve shown that they can’t be trusted to behave like reasonable employers. At will rarely actually gets to cut both ways, but hey.

    7. Quinalla*

      I would send an email and say something like “My end date is still X per my original resignation letter (or notice email or whatever it was).” I would not offer any explanation as your boss knows exactly what she is doing, trying to apply enough pressure to make you agree.

      And the next time she starts one of those Come to Jesus meetings, if you can, try and interrupt and say “I only have X days left in my notice period, I really need to get back to documenting Y & Z.” And get up to leave. If she is cornering you at your desk, turn your body back to your computer and start working. If it is easier to just go along with the meetings, try to view them as a 3rd party observing a truly screwed up workplace for a study, if they want to waste your remaining notice time on this, oh well. And maybe rehearse a boring thing to say every time they ask you a question. “I gave notice and my last day is X.”

      Sorry OP, but get out, this place is so bad :(

    8. Asenath*

      Well, yes, but it was evidently also hard to say “I resign” and make it stick. So I don’t see that it’s that much harder to go back, and say “I’ve thought it over and I am resigning effective DATE” – and, if necessary (which I think it will be) walking out the minute the pressure to stay starts up again with “If you cannot accept that I am resigning effective DATE, I will leave right now.” And then walk out, having previously taken any personal property home, and blocking all contact with anyone from that job.

      OP, Alison has said it better than I can, as have other posters, but I will reiterate – you need to get out, you are being treated very badly, and the fact that some of the employees are nice to you doesn’t justify the mistreatment. Don’t believe that your new boss has the power to do what she’s promising – but even if she did, do you really want to go through all that turmoil in addition to the regular, daily misery?

      1. Sleeve McQueen*

        Don’t believe that your new boss has the power to do what she’s promising – but even if she did, do you really want to go through all that turmoil in addition to the regular, daily misery?
        Yeah, if she wasn’t a horrible toxic boss, my response to her promises would be “great, call me when you’ve succeeded and we can talk about a role”.

    9. Artemesia*

      ‘I do not want to be bullied about staying; I am leaving on X (the two weeks date she already gave). If I am pressured about this again, I will leave immediately.’

      THEN DO IT.

      Rescinding under bullying is not valid. Don’t give it a thought. GO.

    10. Observer*

      One of the special challenges in this letter is how OP actually gave in and said she would stay. Its going to be hard to go back to her manager and say “Actually I’m not staying”


      I’m serious. What kind of leverage do they have? The answer is NONE.

      1. Fikly*

        Emotional abuse. It’s impressively effective.

        And victim blaming people for being victim to it just makes it worse.

    11. Esmeralda*

      The OP may *feel* it’s hard, but it’s not actually hard. There’s no moral issue here.

      “Boss, I know I said I would stay, but I shouldn’t have said that. I can’t stay, and my last day is still [Date]”

      Scripts for follow-ups:
      “I know I said I would, but I can’t”
      “I’m sorry it upsets you, but I can’t”
      “I’m sorry you now feel that way about me, but I can’t”

      If the OP wants to get into reasons (I advise not doing so, tho)
      “I’m sorry. I was very tired/distracted/sick that day and wasn’t thinking clearly. I can’t stay.”

      Now, the real reason is — you were bullying me and I couldn’t withstand the pressure and the downright meanness. But I wouldn’t say that, if OP wants a reasonably good reference.

      1. Dr Sarah*

        ‘The OP may *feel* it’s hard, but it’s not actually hard.’

        Excuse me, but if this is hard for the OP then it is hard for the OP. There’s no objective ‘this is hard or not hard’ here; there’s the experience that different individuals have.

        If you don’t find it hard to do things like this, then great for you, but you’re not the one who’s doing it in this case, the OP is. It isn’t helpful to insist it isn’t hard when it clearly is hard for the person who actually has to do it.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        This. A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.

        Run far, run fast. Block numbers, block emails. Go strict no contact. (Expect a subpoena in a few months about accounting.)

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I would like to put this in flashing lights outside of OP’s workplace.

        If your manager is all “but you said you’d stayyyyyyyyyy :( :( :( :(” I would 100% respond, “yes, so you would leave me alone. You didn’t think that would actually work, right?”

    12. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Naw, not hard at all. I mean, maybe if she had reason to preserve the relationship, but really… this is the sort of place where the burning of bridges as you flee into the sunset is appropriate.

      Burn the bridges, burn the boats, burn the land and boil the sea, keep on running as far away as you can see.

    13. MigraineMonth*

      “I’ve reconsidered, and I’m sticking with my original notice period. If you try to pressure me to stay again, that will be my last day.”

      If LW receives pushback: “This is the exact behavior I was referring to. Today is now my last day. What should I prioritize or hand off?”

      If LW receives pushback to that: “Okay, clearly I’m not going to be able to work out the notice period. I’ll pack my things and leave now.” Then LW does and walks out.

      If necessary, LW can communicate this via chat or email. Simple, straightforward, not that awkward. LW’s boss is the one playing stupid games.

    14. Luna*

      “Yeah, I changed my mind.” or “I reconsidered.” And that’s all the reason the boss and anyone else will get. Or even deserves.

  2. The Prettiest Curse*

    Does this place actually manufacture red flags? Your new boss is talking big, but she won’t be able to fix the dysfunction. Please don’t continue to do this to yourself. Leave now.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Haha, this is awesome. Now I’m imagining the company as “Smith Family Red Flag Manufacturing, Inc.” (Not a diss on all the Smiths out there, of course. There are many very good Smith families.)

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’m imagining a half-time show at a school where one of the school colors is red. The marching band is playing, and the flagline are twirling those red flags for all they’re worth.

    2. Clobberin' Time*

      New boss is the abusive partner frantically explaining how they signed up for AA and anger management, they’ve blocked their side piece on all social media, they’ll totally go to couples counseling after all, and besides, they told all of your friends and family that the two of you are patching things up so you’ll stay now, right?

      1. Kris*

        I’d really consider sending an email to your manager explaining that you will still be quitting and your end date is still whatever it originally was. Also say that you are not interested in exploring options to stay.

        I’m sure they’ll still come and talk to you and I know how hard it is. In this case it would be fine to just leave and not finish your notice period. Everyone in management at this place seems so ridiculous.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      It turns out, if you read OP’s comments further down this thread, they actually do work in a factory…

    4. MigraineMonth*

      Your new boss is also toxic! Publicly shaming and pressuring a report who wants to leave is something no manager should ever do.

  3. Meghan R*

    Oh my god, LEAVE. Its not worth it. Your boss is trying to guilt/manipulate you into staying. Honestly, the way she’s pressuring you, I’d have left without working out the rest of my notice. This place is not normal and has seriously warped your understanding of a functional workplace.

    1. Moo*

      Yeah the new boss is just another level of dysfunction. When someone says they’re leaving you thank them for their contribution and wish them the best of luck. You can add that you’re sorry to see them go and you’d love to have them back if that’s ever on the cards, but that’s it.

      Anything else is a problem!

    2. Mary Anne Spier*

      Ditto. Just walk out, don’t come back, text them once to tell them not to expect you anymore and then block their numbers. This bullying is not worth working a notice.

    3. Twix*

      Absolutely this. This is why it’s crucial to maintain boundaries between personal and professional relationships even if you like your coworkers. You do not owe them staying in a job you don’t want. If you’re in a position where leaving after working a standard notice period in good faith will screw your coworkers over, that’s a problem with management, not with you. While my advice would be to get out of that mess no matter what, if this were a good faith attempt to retain a valued employee you boss would be asking what you needed – salary, working conditions, benefits, etc – to be willing to stay. This woman is clearly trying to emotionally manipulate you into staying out of guilt because it would be in *her* best interest and she can’t make you an offer that would make staying be in *your* best interest.

      I think it’s also worth adding that she may not see it that way – she may genuinely believe that she can turn the ship around and that it will be best for both of you in the long term if she can “motivate” you to stick it out. But that doesn’t change anything. You are entitled to make that call yourself and you are not obligated to convince her that your decision is the right one.

      1. wendelenn*

        A flea and a fly in a flue
        Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
        Said the fly, “let us flee!”
        “Let us fly!” said the flea.
        So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

        Ogden Nash

    1. Rosyglasses*

      Haha literally my same thought when I got to the end.

      Your new direct manager will not be able to change anything unless the owners want anything to change. You need to leave and not look back – and give yourself so much grace for making it this far. It will take you 3-6 months and you will all of a sudden look back and think – HOW did I think I could stay there? and feel such relief!

        1. Rosyglasses*

          Could be – in my experience, it takes the body and brain awhile to wind down and not be constantly on edge. For me when I was recovering from burnout, it was closer to 3 months of active intention toward boundaries and taking time off – so YMMV.

  4. Momma Bear*

    You can both like your coworkers and find the environment too much to deal with. Keep in touch with the people you like, dust off your resume, and move on. Their dysfunction is not your problem to fix. If someone has pinned her hopes on turning the ship around on you, then that’s her fault. Any company that hinges on just one person (because things happen) is putting all their eggs in a very tenuous basket. Give yourself permission to not please anyone but you here. Anticipate that they will not take it well and pre-pack your stuff so you can just walk out if it comes to that. You do not owe them your mental health.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      “ Any company that hinges on just one person (because things happen) is putting all their eggs in a very tenuous basket”

      So true!! The company should be able to run regardless of who is in each role.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      It struck me that there is one sentence in this letter about the positives of the job and the rest of it is about what a toxic hellscape the organisation is and how it is messing with the OP’s mental health.

      1. Lance*

        And part of that sentence itself seems a bit… contradictory. There OP states it’s a relaxed environment, but then not long after states everyone is horribly overworked. I’m confused how both could possibly be the case here.

        1. Observer*

          Well, I guess no one bothers them if they don’t dress well or use blue language, etc. Or maybe it’s “As long as you work your 20 hours a day, we don’t care which 20 hours it is” kind of “relaxed”.

          But, yeah, this is not what any reasonable person would call relaxed.

      2. ecnaseener*

        It’s the Darth Vader Boyfriend of jobs: “There’s good in him, I’ve seen it!” I’m sure you have, but you still need to run away!!!

        1. Very Social*

          My thoughts exactly–I’ve literally been reading through the Darth Vader boyfriend tag over at Captain Awkward (due to recent personal experiences), and this letter reminds me so much of some of those letters.

    3. Anonym*

      And you’re not really helping your coworkers by staying. Leave, and help them see that they too deserve better and can get out.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      There was an old letter in which the OP never even worked at the toxic company. The people inside were sure OP would fix everything as soon as she came on board, and when she turned down their job offer they kept insisting, to her and to people at conferences, that she was about to come on board and fix everything.

      That OP was the wiser version of this OP’s direct manager.

  5. Ann Ominous*

    Wow, LW, I’m so sorry you’re in this situation.

    It’s not too late – AT ALL – to say ‘I said I’d stay because I was feeling so pressured, but I’ve made my decision and my last day will still be [2 weeks from the original date].’

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Don’t even say it, just leave now! Or if you must, stay the 2 original weeks and just don’t come back.

  6. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    Get out! You do not have a good boss. I put in my notice recently and my boss was so happy for me because she’s been supporting my professional development and was happy to see me succeed. When I take a day off, I’m off. No one hassles me about coming in. That’s just the tip of the dysfunction ice burg. If you need validation that you’re in a dysfunctional workplace, yes, you are.

    I hope you find a regular job and wish you nothing but the best!

    1. sanna*

      fully agree. just leave. that place sounds jaw-droppingly toxic, and you (OP) owe them absolutely nothing. i’d argue that, at this stage, you probably owe yourself relief and peace. stress takes a toll.

      and just a reminder – two weeks’ notice is a courtesy, not a requirement.

    2. Medical Librarian*

      Agree. Who needs this kind of pressure to stay? Also, a place reacting this way to your decision to leave isn’t a place you can count on to give you a good reference in the future, regardless of whether you leave now or work a two-week notice.

  7. Fiona*

    “The work is fun and the atmosphere can be vibrant.”

    There ARE jobs out there that have those qualities that are also relatively stable, non-toxic, mostly functional, normal places to work. When you’re at your next job you’ll look back at this time and be HORRIFIED that you ever considered staying. I promise.

    1. londonedit*

      Yep. I’ve experienced toxic workplaces in my time, and believe me I completely understand the ‘But the work is fun/but I have loads more autonomy here than I’d ever get somewhere else/but at least the boss lets us go early on Fridays/but we all go to the pub all the time’ justifications in your own head. Toxic workplaces are like that – they warp your thinking so that you become convinced that you’ll never find these supposed ‘perks’ anywhere else. But the thing is, you absolutely will. And when you work for a company that isn’t totally dysfunctional, it’s amazing how you realise that ‘but we go to the pub a lot’ really, really doesn’t compensate for all the messed-up crap you had to deal with in return.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*


      This post sounds so much like “my significant other is wonderful and our relationship is perfect except for this one tiny thing [insert horrifying litany of abusive details here]” relationship questions.

      Just because a relationship has some really good times doesn’t mean it’s worth the abusive times. You deserve a healthy, nontoxic workplace.

    3. Atalanta0jess*

      This is what I was going to say. You can have coworkers that you adore, and a pretty relaxed, vibrant time, without all that other stuff. (And is it really relaxed? With all that work to do and fighting and everyone crying at their desks? That doesn’t sound relaxed to me. I’m not sure what that part means.)

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Right?! With the nitpicking and stress of exposure to family feuding and conflicting instructions and inability to eat lunch due to overwork on a skeleton crew and lack of respect for time off sick and the multiple Come to Jesus meetings? That does not sound relaxed at all.

        OP, there are many workplaces out there that do have whatever you see in your current job as relaxed, AND don’t force you to experience these things. Go work in one of those places.

      2. Chief Bottle Washer*

        Maybe it’s relaxed in the sense of employees can wear jeans and can sort of make their own hours? Which is nice, but lots of places have similar perks. You don’t need to put up with a toxic hellscape to get that.

    4. Observer*

      This reminds me of the letter from the poster who actually BIT someone and people there think that that was not so unreasonable! She also didn’t want to leave because of all the “good stuff”, and was convinced that her choices were limited to Crazy Town or Boredom Central.

      That’s just not the case, fortunately.

      1. Laure001*

        God yes I remember. I actually thought it was not unreasonable. There was an update, right? I hope she ran very far away…

  8. OhGee*

    OMG, get the heck out! This is awful. You owe the new manager nothing, even if you hope she succeeds (she will not).

  9. RJ*

    OP, I’m so very sorry you’re in such a toxic environment. I myself find myself in one that I think I’ll be leaving shortly. Don’t wait. If they’re having family-induced invoicing/accounting chicanery, that’s a sign not of a toxic, but of a malignant work environment.

  10. Cats and Bats Rule*

    OP can still go back and say that she is not staying. Personally, I would not try to work out a notice because of the crap her manager pulled, but that’s just me.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yup – manager has shown who she is, she’s going to throw more tantrums – but that is all on her.

      Go back, renew your notice but updated to I’m done now.
      (But do this after any and all of your personal possessions are out of this building.)

        1. ferrina*

          This is a great idea- take your personal items home now, even if you plan to work out 2 weeks. That way you can start emotionally disassociating (making it easier to stick to the end date) and if you need to walk out sooner, you can.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Naah, don’t want that boat anchor around her neck. Taking stuff that’s not hers could lead to blackmail.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            From a job where one family member accused a non-family employee of theft – I wouldn’t take that risk…..these folks sound, um, extreme.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t usually advocate for ghosting an employer but in this case it may be the only way to get out in one piece.

      1. PotsPansTeapots*

        Yeah, this place is so terrible, OP should quit in whatever way she feels most comfortable with, even if it means ghosting.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Make the day on your original notice your last day. If it is past, just designate a day “Leaving Day”. Then take your stuff home beforehand. Drop your keys and badge and leave a note at the end of Leaving Day to the effect of:
          “You reacted so poorly to the last time I gave notice, including bullying me to stay that I am now leaving without notice. I do not legally or ethically have to stay to work for a bully. I wish you the best in turning this toxic mess around, but you’ll have to do it without me. I’m well past done. Please send my final paycheck to (P.O. Box).”

          Then, after you leave, drive a few blocks away, park, and block their numbers on your phone.

          If they start using different numbers to try to harass you to come back, get a new phone number that is unlisted.

          1. AnotherJen*

            If you have an iPhone, you can tell it not to ring for numbers not in your contacts list — they go directly to voicemail.

  11. LawBee*

    I don’t know if I would even work out the notice period at this point. Odds are LW isn’t going to get a stellar reference from this gang, regardless of their work product. Run. Run away and be free.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I could definitely see the reference check going straight to explaining the latest family dysfunction to this new outside neutral party they’ve trapped on the phone.

    2. RC+Rascal*

      In three months there isn’t going to be anyone at this company who remembers her well enough to give a reference. HR is outsourced to a payroll company.

      The force of nature boss is going to get canned one of these days–none of her goals are at all realistic.

      Just run.

      A place like this is also liable to just close some day, especially since there are such obvious signs of embezzlement.

      1. AsPerElaine*

        Your point about there not being anyone who will be able to meaningfully give OP a reference is an excellent one.

      2. Tio*

        They can get references from the people they like directly; they don’t still have to be at the same company. No one higher up at this company is going to give her a good reference though, so she should get her good coworker’s contact details, and walk out the door immediately. No point in staying.

      3. OP*

        Oh, you should hear the badmouthing that certainly members of the Family constantly make about ex-coworkers that have been gone for months. There will be no good references coming out of here and we all know it

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Then leave, today please. Your health is more important than these people and a job that won’t ever be used as a reference.

        2. Sparrow*

          Well, if you know the reference will be terrible regardless, I agree with the people in your personal life – just go. There’s absolutely no reason to work out the two weeks when this is what you’d be dealing with. And I am not a “walk out with no notice” kind of person – but truly, what is to be gained by you staying for two weeks? Please get yourself out of there as soon as possible!

    3. Ellie*

      Agreed – OP, if you have another job to go to, then you should follow through with that plan and just not turn up one day. Don’t announce it, don’t answer your phone, just send a short, sharp email letting them know that yesterday was your last day.

      Nothing is worth sitting crying at your desk multiple times a day over. They won’t give you a reference, and they are highly likely to steal from your final pay packet. You have nothing to lose, and your supervisor can’t bully you into staying. Follow your instincts and leave.

  12. Angstrom*

    Your perspective may be a bit distorted…

    “I’ve never worked anywhere this relaxed before. The work is fun and the atmosphere can be vibrant.”

    “Everyone is so overworked that we’re snapping at each other, and I regularly have to work through lunch so hard that I forget to even eat at my desk.” “…having to spend the day crying at my desk between getting called into meetings that turned into family arguments left me feeling so much more burnt out than ever and I barely got any work done anyway.”


      1. Avril Ludgateaux*

        Me too! I can’t wrap my mind around how an environment can be THIS overtly dysfunctional and toxic, but also ‘relaxed… fun… vibrant’. Maybe I am too sensitive, but when I look back on my most toxic workplace experience, the sheen from the glamour of the industry burned off right quick. It wasn’t just that I became disillusioned with the work, I literally began to see people’s faces differently, as I got to know them for the dishonest, unethical, underhanded people they were. I praise OP for being able to look on the bright side because I surely couldn’t when it was me!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There’s such a strong contrast between that initial positive description and all of the details in the rest of the letter that I wonder if before all the departures that left them understaffed, the workplace was relaxed, fun, and vibrant with a small dose of dysfunction that was easily overlooked. And after people started fleeing, the dysfunction has escalated to the point of overwork and snapping and crying at desks.

      If that is the case, OP, know that the old fun and relaxed workplace is gone and is never coming back. It is time to find a new job at a new company. You may even be able to find a place that is as fun and relaxed as this job once was at the beginning, before everything changed.

      And if it is not the case, and the OP feels the workplace is vibrant while also snapping at people on the phone then that is even more reason to leave because you have now reached the “toxic job is warping my perspective of what is normal” level of dysfunction!

    2. Purely Allegorical*

      This is exactly the dichotomy I was going to point out. Nothing about this atmosphere says ‘relaxed and vibrant’.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Sounds like an abuse cycle to me. Fun work, fun people, firey death from above, more fun work….

      This isn’t sustainable OP and like I’ve said elsewhere it is warping your norms in a way that could do you long term harm. Please leave.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah. I definitely saw some signs of abuse going on, though I’m not certain. There id definitely some heavy duty manipulation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some gaslighting going on- OP thinks that this atmosphere is relaxed? OP’s ‘great’ coworkers should be encouraging her to get out, not begging her to stay.

        I’m guessing that this is the sort of place that puts folks into survival mode really quickly. You do what you need to to get through the day, whether that’s giving in to unreasonable demands or doing things you don’t agree with. Brains aren’t designed to handle that level of cognitive dissonance, so you start rationalizing things you shouldn’t (which double sucks, cuz you can start gaslighting yourself).

        OP needs to do whatever she needs to to get out. If working 2 weeks notice is going to make things worse (or she’s afraid she’ll stay longer), then she should give no notice and walk out.

    4. Mr. Shark*

      Yup, that was completely puzzling. How can it be so relaxed and fun with a vibrant atmosphere with that much disfunction?

      I am normally not one to suggest to run out of the building, because it’s easy to tell people to leave their job and much harder to actually do it. But LW already made the decision to leave, and it is definitely the right decision.

      The LW needs to run out of that place, on her original date.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Hmm, the only thing I can think of is that the coworkers have a sort of “we support each other and have fun together because we really need to, given the stress we are all, collectively, under.” I once worked in a school that…honestly, imagine a comedy show of kids who are completely out of control and that was what it was like. It also wasn’t exceptionally well run and absenteeism was through the roof, so we ended up feeling pressured into giving up our free classes to cover. But there WAS a sense of cameraderie between the staff and at breaks we DID have some fun together. Friendships were formed faster than in…most schools, both because of the sense we were in it together AND because there was such a huge turnover of staff that there were a number of people likely to be fairly new and open to new friendships (there are some schools that have a staff that have worked together for 30 years because nobody ever leaves and vacancies are either temporary like maternity leaves or only come up when somebody retires and the new person is very much on the outside).

        Not saying this in any way makes up for the dysfunction, but it’s the only way I can possibly interpret the contrast. “I would have fun with my coworker, most of whom are awesome, if working conditions and senior management weren’t such an utter and complete disaster.”

    5. Generic Name*

      My take is “relaxed” as in low (or no) standards for professional behavior- see: yelling and fighting. And I guess a place where folks are yelling and fighting all the time could be described as “vibrant”. Vibrantly bad, to be sure.

      1. Marthooh*

        Yeah, it puzzled me at first until I remembered that “relaxed” can sometimes mean “Everyone’s held to a low standard.”

    6. Sara without an H*

      I think this is a classic example of what Alison means when she says that working for a dysfunctional organization warps your sense of what’s normal. Get out, OP, as fast as you can go.

      1. cosmicgorilla*

        I was also confused by the contradiction between “I’m one of the longest-tenured employees, and I just hit my one year anniversary” and “there are ‘lifers.'”

        I’m assuming these “lifers” are not family members. If they’re family members in a family business, I wouldn’t consider them lifers. I would consider lifers to be non-family members who have chosen to stick around.

        Now, if LW is trying to say that either folks have been there 1 year or less OR they’ve been there 15 years, that’s just one more reason to fly like the wind. Run like a cheetah. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

        1. OP*

          Pretty much that last part. Also that the ones that have stayed 15+ years are on the plat side of things, while the office is basically on fire at all times.

          1. Cat named Brian*

            Man I worked for a family owned business just like this. People were there 15+ years or less than 2. I finally left when one owner took off her shirt and put on one of the t-shirts we were passing out at a public event. Like right at the table… She looked at me and said “what?? I used to be a stripper.”

    7. yala*

      I’m also confused that OP is one of the longest-tenured employees at 1 year, but also there are lifers?

      This place sounds like a nightmarish mess.

  13. animaniactoo*

    OP, I would like to give you a gift:

    “In the moment, emotion got the better of me. But as soon as I had time to think about it again – I need to stick with my original decision to leave.”

    And keep wrapping up and talking about handing off and documenting whatever you can so that when you walk out of there, you are DONE. DONE no don’t call me, it’s in the notes I left behind.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep. This. Exactly this. Don’t restart your notice period. Don’t do anything to keep yourself there longer. Get out.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Right, and definitely don’t let them keep their tentacles on you by agreeing to let them contact you after you leave to ask you questions that they can’t figure out the answer to or (worse yet) being a part-time contractor until they can fill your empty position. Cut all ties, is what I’m saying.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          This. I once offered to help out in times of specific need as I left one bad workplace (I had a lot of knowledge around processes and didn’t have other income lined up) and they asked me to come back and work on routine, non-emergency tasks. I did help out for one day because I didn’t realize until I got there, and was fuming the entire time because it wasn’t what I signed up for and they clearly expected me to come in on an ongoing basis (almost like I worked there again…) but they also no longer were able to provide me with the space/tools to effectively do what they were asking me to do.

          It’s just not worth it. Make a clean break. Look forward, not back.

    2. PotsPansTeapots*

      I don’t want to put anything more on OP’s plate, but changing her phone number and locking down any social media might be a good idea.

  14. lunchtime caller*

    The day you wake up and realize you never have to go back to that place is going to feel incredible. While I would also support you just never going back, I understand why for your own peace of mind and ability to say “I know I handled this as gracefully as possible” you want to work out the notice period, but remember they can’t actually force you to stay. I’ve had place that didn’t want me to quit (to a much lesser degree) and in my head I just thought “well either way on X day, I won’t be coming in here anymore, so they’ll get used to it sooner or later.” Make your transition documents, clean up your stuff, and book a celebratory dinner for after your last day with actual family and friends.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      The day you wake up and realize you never have to go back to that place is going to feel incredible.

      This is so true. I have felt this after *every* job I’ve quit, whether I liked the job or not. If it was a job that was a very bad fit for me, I felt amazing. OP, I imagine you will feel 1000 times better than I did after leaving my bad fit jobs.

      1. KRM*

        Second! I loved the people at my last job but I HATED the department I ended up in, and they were waffling on moving me, so I left. Waking up on the Monday after my last day and thinking “huh, I never ever have to do these stupid screens again with their stupid expensive and inconclusive data analysis” was so liberating. And now I work back in oncology research and I’m so much happier!

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I have been “let go” from workplaces as a temp that it was all I could do not to cheer when they said we don’t need you any more. One such place I literally stopped at the curb of the parking lot, took off my shoes, banged them together to remove the dust, put them back on and just about skipped away. (It was that bad.)

    2. My Cat's Humsn*

      My company used to have paper timesheets preprinted with your name, department, etc. I moved within the company from old-dept/bully-manager to new-dept/good-manager. The first time I saw “new-dept” printed on my timesheet, I cried. (Happy tears. But seeing it caught me by surprise as a reminder it was REAL and I had escaped bully-manager.)

  15. Falling Diphthong*

    Assuming any of the big sweeping changes she’s talking about even make it past the planning stage, which they, uh, haven’t.
    OP, I think I speak for almost everyone reading your letter when I reveal that this was not a surprise twist I didn’t see coming a mile away. (As Alison says, her plan is to make the people above her in the hierarchy shape up, while also granting them less power.)

    When you gave into her pressure you cried. Your body is trying really hard to tell you how it feels about staying here. If you follow through on your idea to just stop showing up and make your notice immediate, I predict that it will be a huge relief. And then you can be one more little legendary story about how mismanagement drove good workers to quit on the spot.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      “Assuming any of the big sweeping changes she’s talking about even make it past the planning stage, which they, uh, haven’t.”

      I honestly think those plans are a smoke screen designed to try and keep which ever employee who is trying to quit at that moment.

      1. Lyudie*

        I worry that real or not, OP’s name will get attached to these plans and they’ll be branded “traitor” or conspirator” or some such nonsense and their life will become even more of a living hell. This manager might take OP down with her.

        1. ferrina*

          Or the manager will pin the plans on OP, and OP will be the scapegoat for when the family gets mad. OP will get the brunt, while manager buys herself enough time to get to a new job with no gap in income.

    2. Ann Ominous*

      “When you gave into her pressure you cried. Your body is trying really hard to tell you how it feels about staying here.”

      This part really got me. LW, please listen to your body.

      1. ferrina*

        YES! This place is trying to tell you not to listen to your own instincts and your own judgement, and that’s their MO. Run away so fast- they want you to undermine yourself.

        Listen to your instincts, listen to your judgement. You are definitely the sane one in this situation.

  16. Infrequent_Commenter*

    Disagree a bit with Allison on this: you should get up and leave now. Just go. You already know they are going to torture you for the rest of the notice period, including your awesome new boss – yeah, she’s toxic too – and you’re already in the middle of a nervous breakdown about it. You don’t owe them your mental health or anything else.

    Email you’re quitting immediatel because of the ongoing toxicity,, walk out and don’t look back. Maybe wait to block their emails/phone #s until you receive your last check.

    This is the worst gaslighting/Stockholm situation I’ve seen here. Good luck.

    1. AGD*

      Yeah, I think there would be far more advantages to never going back than there would be to sticking out even the notice period.

    2. Ashloo*

      Amen! There’s no way a good reference is happening in all this, regardless of how hard your boss is begging, so just stop showing up! They lost the right to a notice period by being terrible, manipulative people.

  17. Butterfly Counter*

    I’d send your resignation in an email. “Though I may have verbally indicated that I would stay, I have decided that the end of the previous two-week notice period (XDATE) will indeed by my last day.”

    This gives you the paper trail, which will probably help you feel better and more able to stick to your guns.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      and she should add, “I will be working from home for the duration of my notice period to avoid being pressured to stay.”

      1. Observer*

        Emailing (or even texting) might be a good way to go, just because it makes it a bit harder for them to try to argue with you in the moment.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        Disagree- there’s nothing bad in what she’s saying, and doing it by email lets her skip the inevitable attempt to talk her out of leaving again. A paper trail isn’t particularly necessary, but it’s not a bad thing. The main benefit of email is that it’s one-way communication that she doesn’t have to defend in the moment. Perfect for statements like this that shouldn’t be up for discussion anyway.

        1. Observer*

          I’m not saying that the OP needs to worry about putting this in writing.

          I *AM* saying that it absolutely and utterly does NOT MATTER if they put it in writing or not. They do NOT “need” a paper trail to prove anything.

          1. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

            The purpose of putting it in writing is to help the OP stick to the quit, not for any paperwork reasons. Letters and emails psychologically help with closure and finality.

            1. Observer*

              Anything that makes it easier for the OP to walk out is good.

              All I am saying is that the OP does not “need” anything, unless it’s for their own satisfaction, convenience, or mental health.

  18. old curmudgeon*

    The bit about potential financial malfeasance is especially concerning. I left an employer (one of those “we’re a FAAAAAMILY” types) when the owner flat-out refused to implement any of the internal control strategies I proposed. A lack of internal controls exponentially increases the risks to everyone in the company, because if there are no controls, you can’t prove that you are not the culprit when something goes missing. As indeed your colleague already discovered.

    I’ve worked at toxic jobs where I had to put in all sorts of extra time, and I put up with them until it suited me to leave. But a lack of internal controls will get me out the door faster than you can say “where is the September 12 deposit?”

    1. Princess Xena*

      Not just a lack of internal controls, but a lack of them at a place where there are ALREADY financial shenanigans going on.

    2. jef*

      I mean, if you can’t or won’t ever explain what you’re doing with the finances that is a TERRIBLE sign. If you stayed (please don’t stay), how long before you don’t get your paycheck? Or find out they haven’t been paying taxes like they should? Please take care of yourself.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Also, that final check? It may be a hassle but as soon as it hits your account?
        Withdraw the funds and close that account. Leave that banking institution so the dysfunctional finance department cannot accidentally on purpose try to claw back anything.

        And If they pay you with a hard copy check, take it to the bank it’s drawn on and get cold hard cash.

  19. Nook Nook*

    Run, OP! Run and never look back…and please come back with an update to let us know you are free! Don’t be guilted or persuaded into staying. For your own mental health, go. Better jobs DO exist!

  20. EPLawyer*

    Lady, you in danger. Run.

    Your manager is not going to solve the dysfunction of this family. The family OWNS the business. They will fire the manager rather than let her control them.

    This place is such a hot mess. The one who walked out in the middle of the day had the right idea. Get out and don’t look back.

  21. Ridger*

    “The company also inspires great loyalty and there are lifers here who have worked decades at this place.” “I just hit my one-year anniversary here. I’m probably up there as one of the longest-tenured employees in here. We are severely understaffed on a good day.”

    I genuinely don’t understand how both of those things can be true. But even if some people who aren’t in the family love it, you need to leave now. For all the reasons already given. Leave now.

      1. Asenath*

        Or they’ve convinced themselves that they can’t get an equivalent job (money, duties, location, etc) elsewhere which is probably, but not certainly, not true. There’s a certain amount of inertia that needs to be overcome in order to move, particularly if someone hasn’t been jobhunting in a long time, or thinks (maybe correctly) that their qualifications won’t qualify them for anything in today’s market.

    1. Purely Allegorical*

      This is another example of two things that can’t be true at the same time. The other one I noticed was ‘vibrant and relaxing’ workplace, but OP is also crying all the time, so stressed they can’t eat lunch, and bullied to come in even on personal days.

      Both things cannot be true. And shows how this place has severely warped OP’s thinking to the point where they are not able to reason this out rationally.

      Leave now, don’t work out a notice period, don’t look back. And then do some work to recover your workplace boundaries before the next job.

      1. Clobberin' Time*

        It’s the kind of warped thinking that happens in abusive relationships. The abused person is grabbing onto reasons that things might turn out OK.

    2. TK*

      I noticed this too. My guess is that this is some sort of manufacturing/warehouse/production environment and all the “lifers” hold non-office jobs. OP is one of the longest-tenured employees working in the office of company.

      Her wording when describing the job (“I work in the office of..” rather than just “I work for…”) and the mention of radios both lend credence to this.

      1. OP*

        Exactly this! I was a little afraid of being too transparent, but yeah, the people who have been here longer than I have are either on the floor or part of the Family.

    3. Heidi*

      It’s possible that there are a handful of people who have been there for decades and are part of the dysfunction or have found a way to shield themselves from it. Then there’s the OP who’s been there a year. Then there’s a revolving door of more junior staffers.

      My prediction is that this new manager who’s trying to turn things around is going to quit abruptly. These grandiose plans will be dashed against the reality of the power distribution in this place sooner or later.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I’m now thinking of a rather big political drama in Ireland. During the recession, an economist joined a major political party and ran for election. Of course, given the situation, he was elected. He lasted…I think weeks? before quitting, because he realised that nope, the party were not going to give him free reign to overturn all their policies simply because he was an expert on economics and most of them were not, that there was a hierarchy and he was going to have to wait his turn. I can see the manager reacting in the same way when she realised that nope, having better ideas than the family (which honestly, sounds like it wouldn’t be hard) isn’t going to convince them to do things her way instead of theirs.

        (It was just a big drama because it was seen as a major coup for the party to get a leading economist on their team and then…he left.)

    4. Niniel*

      I have worked at a similarly toxic family business, and both of those things are true. The “lifers” are the people who put their heads down, say “Yes Ma’am/Sir” to any sort of abuse they receive, and soldier on. They are also the only ones in their respective positions, have some sort of authority over other employees or over work processes, and are often (but not always) brash and abusive themselves.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, this letter makes very little sense to me on its face. But ultimately it doesn’t matter I guess? At this point the only thing that matters is that you already gave notice. It doesn’t matter what anyone else at the company thinks or feels. Leave, and know that you will probably need to hugely reset your ideas of what is normal in the workplace.

  22. Princess Xena*

    Going to a) add my voice to the GTFO call, because yes, and also b) as someone whose job is looking into accounting fraud the accountant’s behavior is setting off ALL THE ALARM BELLS. I’d say there’s a 95% that there’s at least one major form of fraud happening. Run.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      100000% this^. I am not an accountant but I work in a financial-adjacent role and I agree, this seems extremely likely. OP, you are absolutely allowed to just leave and not look back, which would already make you a hero, but if you want to be a legend you should report them to the IRS or some other authority that can shut them down and/or charge them with crimes. But please don’t do that if you aren’t feeling up to it; you get to just live your life and keep your head above water if that’s all you want to do. Best of luck, OP, please send us an update after you quit so we know you’re ok.

    2. Observer*

      I think your estimate is low. Because we know that at least one family member is dishonest. Along with “no matter what she does she can’t get the invoicing to come out right”, there is no real chance that someone is NOT committing some form of fraud.

      1. Princess Xena*

        I’m allowing some room for gross incompetence + a very possessive bookkeeper, which is not impossible. But in that case you should still run asap because gross incompetence is just as good as fraud at screwing up one’s taxes.

        But yeah, my immediate thought when looking at this is “someone is committing fraud of some form”

  23. vincent*

    “ I’ve never worked anywhere this relaxed before.” So fascinated by where else OP must have worked for this to be true.

    OP, you did all the hard parts already! You’ve decided to take care of yourself and get out. Keep that power going, and let yourself heal from this mess!

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Maybe it’s part of the problem? Maybe if everyone was held to higher standards it wouldn’t be the disaster that it is.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I have a lot of questions about this, because it does not sound relaxed at all to me. But I might just be not understanding what “relaxed” means in this context.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      All I can think is if they mean that they get to wear jeans?? Because otherwise nothing described here is a relaxed environment!

  24. Hotdog not dog*

    Log off, turn in your keys, and walk out the door TODAY. Neither you nor your new manager will be able to get that crazy train back on the rails. Go now.

  25. CheesePlease*

    You don’t owe anything to your manager because in one of her many manipulative meeting she cornered you into agreeing to stay. You are NOT THE VILLAIN!! Clearly they see they have a retention problem and instead of fixing any root cause they pressure people into staying? that’s poor management.

    Also when you say the company “inspires loyalty” I wonder if it’s true loyalty people have to the company, or just family members who don’t know any better. Or perhaps people being guilted into staying (ex: your “good” coworkers saying they need you in these high pressure meetings).

    You deserve much better. Tell your manager “actually I was thinking about it and and have decided to follow through my resignation plan. My last day is next Thursday” and then you just STOP GOING TO WORK after your last day. I know it’s hard. But you can do it!!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      “ Clearly they see they have a retention problem and instead of fixing any root cause they pressure people into staying?”

      There is no way to fix the retention problem because the ownership’s crazy family is the retention problem.

  26. Nomic*

    It is not normal to cry at work. I need to tell you this over and over. It is not normal to cry at work.

    I used to think it was. I would come home and cry. I have learned that THIS IS NOT NORMAL. It’s emotional abuse, and they are using emotional abuse to make you stay.

    Please don’t give it.

    1. Bagpuss*

      This so much. When I was very young and in my secod ole after graduating, I stayed too long. I left whe I realised that evey day I was sitting in my car outsidethe office, feeling physically sick at the thought of going in, and thinking about how if I drove my car off the motorway on the way home and wound up in hospital I wouldn’t have to goin to work.

      I should never have let it get to that point and it really did a number on my self confidence etc which affected mefor years afterwards (and still does, from time to time) .

      OP. you di the hardest part, you gave notice. Stick to it. Email them to say you can’t revoke or extend your notice, that your last day will be[day you originally told them] and that you are being subjected to a lot of pressure to change yor mind and if that continues you will have no option but to shorten your notice period and leave immediately.
      Then do it. Literally as soon as your manager or anyone starts guilting ot pressuring you, leave. Between now and your last day, start taking home any personal stuff you have at the office starting with anything you actually need / want to keep, so if youdo need to leave before the last day of your oringinal notice period you can pick up the last few things and walk out.
      (And frankly, other than your phone / purse there aren’t likely to be many things in the office you can’t abandon if you need to)

      The new manager may possibly have good intentions but (a) they have no realistic hope of making substnative changes becaue the owners / family don’t want things to change and (b) even if they genuinely believe what they are saying, the fact they are aleady trying to put pressure on you, guilt trip you and refusing to accept your decison shows that they have no concept of normal or appropriate workplace boundaries. They might change things but they are not going to improve them.

      Very best of luck in your next role.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Thanks, and yes. It a long time ago and I am happy where I am now. I think in my case it was partly that because it was only my second job out of university I didn’t have mch to judge it against to work out whether it was that job, or my first one, which was abnormal! Happily it was that one which was the exception.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I had that too … I think most people have that one job early on where they really learn what is toxic (but did not know the norms at the time). I also think most people have that one relationship where they put up with messed up things, and then afterwards learn what they can and will accept and what not. Although admittedly, a lot of people do not learn from those.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Unless your dog just died. Then it is completely acceptable to cry at work or anywhere else.

      And if you are a cook and chopping onions, I will give you a pass but ask that you wear goggles … they do help!

      It is not ok to cry at work about work!

  27. TotesMaGoats*

    Look. I’m all for loyalty and loving who you work with but…RUN AWAY. Run fast. Run far. While you are still there, cover your butt like you never have before.

  28. Lady_Lessa*

    Two things. Leave today or tomorrow at the latest.

    Second, once you are gone, and are feeling better, please update us so we can continue to be in your corner.

  29. to varying degrees*

    Oh honey, I say this with love and as someone who was close to there recently:

    Get the fuck out. Seriously. Giving your new supervisor the benefit of the doubt she’s at best delusional, at worst, outright deceiving you. Either way she is certainly manipulating you. If you can, leave now, if not go till your original end date. Remember, quitting only requires your opinion, no one else’s. They don’t get a say.

  30. Anonymoose*

    Other than the bizarre guilt trips, it sounds like the letter writer’s main regret is that she will miss some co-workers. Letter writer, you will find co-workers you like in your next job. And any that are really your friends can stay friends even if you don’t see them all day every day.

    1. The Crowening*

      So much this! I adored my coworkers at my last job. We still keep in touch and get together for dinners as often as we can, which has been every three to six months. You don’t have to lose touch with coworkers you really like. And if you do lose touch, that’s an indicator the connection was more about bonding in that specific environment.

      You gotta stop setting yourself on fire to keep this family warm. Save yourself – walk away!

    2. to varying degrees*

      Yep. I left my jo in June and have had frequent lunch, dinner, and happy hour engagements with a lot of coworkers since then. It can continue, LW!

    3. The Original K.*

      I’m still in touch with my favorite boss and I left that job (on good terms) years ago. It’s very easy to stay in touch with people these days – you can maintain those relationships while protecting yourself from that horrible work environment.

  31. Sleey*

    This is one of those letters that I don’t get. I get feeling guilty about leaving a sinking ship. But I don’t get how it can be so toxic that multiple people resign within a few months of starting but also this: “The work is fun and the atmosphere can be vibrant. The company also inspires great loyalty and there are lifers here who have worked decades at this place.”
    And you new boss actually sounds terrible. Like the tinder swindler manipulating you into sabotaging yourself. See it, name it to yourself, and say no.

    1. SW*

      It’s difficult to ascertain from the outside why abuse victims stay in abusive situations. There’s always just enough good to “justify” staying and the abusers use all of the abused person’s weaknesses to get them to stay. In this case it’s that the OP doesn’t want to leave their direct report in the lurch because they feel responsible for their direct report’s happiness in this job. In normal jobs people understand that coworkers, even people they really like, will leave for other jobs and that it’s bad to become emotionally dependent on them.
      Lots of people can get snared in situations like this and it’s not because they aren’t smart or perceptive enough to see what’s happening. Their ideas of what is acceptable have been slowly warped until they get to the point where things are clearly insane to everyone else but only seem kind of wrong to them.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep. It’s the frog in boiling water analogy. When you’re in the pot of water, you don’t really notice that it’s getting warmer until all of a sudden there are bubbles all around you and you’re screwed. In my case, the toxic company I worked for kept giving me more responsibility, better job titles, etc – I was young and I thought well, that’s what you’re supposed to want, right? Climbing the ladder, friends and family being really impressed by your shiny new title, ‘getting to’ work on really fun and important projects, all of that. And as someone else mentioned, you can get ‘trauma bonded’ to your colleagues, so you think you’re all great friends until you realise that the only thing holding you together is your shared experience of a toxic environment. So in my case I was thinking ‘I’ll never get a job at this level if I move to a different company’ and ‘I’ll never have the opportunity to do XYZ if I go somewhere else’ and ‘I’ll never find such a relaxed work environment if I leave – we’re always going out! We have a huge Christmas party! Sometimes the boss lets us go early on a Friday!’ But in fact, all of those things were a smokescreen – I didn’t have autonomy, I had project after project dumped on me with no support. I wasn’t best friends with my colleagues – we liked each other, but our socialising was mainly so we could vent about how awful work was. And getting to leave early on a Friday afternoon doesn’t compensate at all for having to put up with the whims of a toxic boss. But I only fully realised these things after I left – and I stayed far, far longer than I should have.

      2. Sleepy*

        That’s true. Often easier for an outsider who isn’t emotionally invested to see the problem than it is for the person living it.

      3. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        My partner told their emotionally and financially abusive ex that it was over in September of that year. She demanded that they have “one last holiday season together as a family”. (WTF!!!!) But my partner conceded to this because she was still emotionally abusive, and would have made their life a living hell if they’d stuck to their guns.

        In January when she still hadn’t left, they gathered a work crew of friends and distant acquaintances, packed up their most important possessions and cat, and were out in two hours while she was running errands. She was so surprised and hurt when she came home to find them gone! If only they had given her notice! Or they could have worked things out!

        She’d had her notice, she just refused to hear it.

        In this case, I think OP should quietly collect everything personal out of their desk, maybe leave a jar of unimportant highlighters as a decoy, and disappear before their original notice. No email, just gone, and block the numbers of the manager and the owner and the owner’s entire family.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The cognitive dissonance is strong when you’re trying to make something work that’s slowly killing you. These kind of mental gymnastics aren’t uncommon when people feel trauma bonded to a toxic environment.

      But you’re right, it’s not logical or sustainable.

      1. Sleepy*

        I appreciate the LWs who write out the bad, add something positive to justify why they stay, and then acknowledge that it does not make sense when they type it out. It can be hard to see during the day-to-day.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I have a friend who works somewhere like this. In his case, it’s the day-to-day work and individual roles and collaboration with his colleagues that is really good, but it’s the management issues that are making his colleagues quit. He likes his work, but the volume is untenable. He likes his colleagues, but it’s hard to watch them leave.

      Needless to say, he’s looking for a new job too, but it’s really disappointing to him that he has to.

    4. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      While my uppers weren’t related and they weren’t yelling at me to this degree, they had convinced me that I was the only one with the institutional knowledge necessary to ensure things worked smoothly. Also, autonomy! I knew things! I’d get a promotion one day! I could make decisions! (Which I’d not had in the jobs before so it seemed wonderful). I didn’t know it was not wonderful.

      Then my department was outsourced, my retirement would not vest (I would be the only person in the fit of outsourcing of hundreds of employees across the org that didn’t get to vest) and I was being required to change to the new company with no retirement program, insurance that had my state out of network, and they refused to give us salary or workload numbers. Suddenly with the realization we’d all be gone one way or another and the benefits would be worse than almost any other job I could get in the area, it made sense for me to leave. I was convinced they’d fail without me and that’s why I stayed. But they didn’t. It’s been 6 years and 3 part time (finally just started a new FT position) and a degree later and…it took me three or four years to stop worrying to the point of tears about my coworkers. Who were and are all fine and have moved on fine.

      I feel this letter so hard. It’s so hard to leave if one doesn’t get out early. It doesn’t make sense except in the middle of it. Things don’t have to make sense logically to be true in a context to the people in it.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      As I mentioned above, in some ways it makes me think of my first teaching job, which was in a school…well, let’s put it this way, the next interview I went to after leaving, they asked me “tell me about a discipline issue you faced and how you dealt with it and…looking at the last school you taught in, I am sure you have plenty to choose from.” I remember thinking it a pity that the discipline was so bad there, because my colleagues were awesome (I think sticking together against the dysfunction was really part of it) and we had some fun stuff planned and so on. Also with it being my first teaching job, I really didn’t realise how badly senior management were handling certain things. It was only after working in a whole load of schools and realising no other school I worked in had issues that came anywhere NEAR those there, that I realised it wasn’t just bad luck with the students it attracted or other schools directing students with behavioural problems in their direction.

      Now that was nowhere near what the LW is describing. Senior management more brushed off problems – I once asked about the policies for dealing with low-level disruption and got a laughing “it isn’t the low level disruption you need to worry about here at all,” from senior management. But I suspect it may be a bit similar. “My colleagues are so supportive,” (because they know full well how stressful working here is).

    6. Calamity Janine*

      honestly i just read it as part of the cycle of abuse, in workplace form.

      like someone who stands there with bruises while saying “look at this lovely thing my partner got me, they spoil me so much and treat me so well, i love them”, the fake reconciliation phase still exists. a big blow-up of abuse is followed by love-bombing in order to keep the victim around. heck, we’re even seeing some of the same excuses being trotted about – it’ll never happen again, they’re putting in so much effort to change (but it seems to mainly be about changing to better abuse the op…), if op goes she’ll just be abandoning them like all the rest (and isn’t that far more sad than how op is being hurt)…

      if only such spirals were as easy to spot when you’re within than without.

    1. londonedit*

      YES. This is a key question! I genuinely thought I was best friends with some of my colleagues at one particular toxic workplace – we spent a ton of time together, we’d go out to buy lunch together every day at work, we’d go for drinks after work at least two or three times a week. We knew everything about each other’s lives. After we’d all finally left said toxic company, we met up once or twice, but it was awkward. It was clear that when we didn’t have the latest work-based trauma to pick through and commiserate over, we actually didn’t have all that much in common. And it also became clear that feeling the need to go for a stiff drink after work several times a week wasn’t, as we’d thought, a sign that we all got on incredibly well, but rather a sign that we were stressed beyond belief and looking for some sort of outlet where we could all vent over a few glasses of wine.

      1. Goldenrod*

        It’s so true! There’s nothing like a common enemy to make people feel bonded. But it’s not a lasting bond.

  32. I edit everything*

    This is the one situation I would advocate for just ghosting. Never go back. Block all the numbers. Move to Timbuktu if you have to. Disappear and do not let them contact you. F* your notice period.

  33. LikesToSwear*

    OP get out. Now. No job is worth sacrificing your mental and physical health for. And I promise, you will fell so much better once you leave; you probably don’t even realize just how much this hell hole is affecting you.

  34. RunToTheHills*

    Along with gtfo now, verify that your payroll taxes have been properly deducted and filed with the IRS & your state tax board by the accountant. It’s one form of embezzlement that is frequently overlooked.

    1. old curmudgeon*

      Cosigned. If you haven’t yet set up your online access to the SSA, do so pronto, and make sure that all your wages are accurately reported there.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Very good advice. OP should also make sure she has copies of all her pay statements and W-2 forms before fleeing the building at top speed.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Yes. And when she discovers the fraud –contact the IRS to report the fraud, figure out what she owes, and set up a payment plan.

        BTDT, don’t wait to get audited. You can perhaps avoid fees and penalties if you bring it to the attention of IRS (no guarantee, but worth an ask)

        1. DJ*

          Isn’t there a financial incentive by the IRS for reporting tax dodgers? Like the reporter gets a percentage of what the IRS finds as having been…underreported?

    3. Observer*

      Yes. But do that after you leave. Do not let ANYTHING delay your exit.

      If your taxes have not been credited (and you should be able to see by checking the Social Security website), please report it anywhere and everywhere. Because if you don’t YOU are going to wind up needing to clean up the mess!

  35. Gopher*

    The point of the notice period is to get a good reference for your next job but if you’ve only been there a year and you don’t trust them to give you a good reference anyway, there’s no reason to stay.

    Pack your things and moonwalk right out the door!

    1. Empress Matilda*

      That’s not really the point of the notice period. The notice period is to wrap up or transition your work, and to say goodbye to your colleagues (or let them say goodbye to you), if that’s appropriate. It’s all part of the package of being a good employee overall – the reference itself isn’t really connected to the notice period most of the time.

      But you’re right about the rest of it! They are not going to give OP a good reference, and they certainly don’t deserve her goodwill. Especially since her health is suffering. OP, there’s nothing to be gained by working out your notice in this place. Please leave as soon as you can.

      1. Dr Sarah*

        And in this case, I think we can safely say that they’re also not going to let her transition her work. If she does reiterate her leaving date, the response isn’t going to be ‘OK, can you make sure Jane is fully appraised of how to do X, Y, and Z’, it’s going to be ‘NOOOOOO! You’re not going to leave, we’re all counting on you, *aren’t* we, Sylvia and Allen? How can we turn this place around without you?’ Etc., etc., etc.

  36. mlem*

    Oh, OP. “I guess is fair considering we’re working on less than skeleton staff and I wasn’t physically sick” — No. No. Do not try to convince yourself this is true. IT IS NOT. It WAS NOT FAIR for you to be coerced into coming in when you knew you weren’t in condition to work without crying.

    I wish you many good things far, far away from this terrible company.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I was coming to say this as well. This company has warped LW’s thinking so that she doesn’t deserve time off when she NEEDS time off. It is exceedingly rare rounding to nonexistent that one person can’t miss one day of work. I feel confident saying that nothing was happening that day that couldn’t have just happened with someone else’s help OR happened the next day.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      It’s never okay to call in a person who has called off sick. Sick time is sick time – and mental health days are valid and legitimate sick days. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise again.

    3. The Original K.*

      I said “Nope” out loud when I read that. It is not fair of them to ask you to work when you’re off. The skeleton staff situation isn’t your fault or your problem; it’s the consequences of management’s actions. Let them feel it. If this comes up again at any future employer, whether it’s two months or ten years from now, hold firm and don’t come in. I turn off my work phone when I’m off – they can want me to work all they like, but I shall not. You’ve earned the time off, it’s part of your compensation, use it without guilt. An employer that tries to guilt-trip you about taking time off is a bad one.

    4. Other Alice*

      Came here to say this. OP, you were sick! It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken leg or a mental health episode. You were not in a condition to work and it’s horrible that they talked you into coming in and made you worse. Also the lack of people to replace you is not your problem. I promise you it’s not. You need to stop setting yourself on fire to keep people warm.

    5. Observer*

      “I guess is fair considering we’re working on less than skeleton staff and I wasn’t physically sick”

      Yeah. I mean, REALLY OP? They get to force you to come in because they can’t staff appropriately? They get to decide if you are “sick enough”?! NO! Besides, they didn’t call you because you were not physically sick! They wouldn’t have cared if you were busy trying to get an ambulance to the nearest ER!

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I was actually reading through the comments for this comment – basically to see if anybody else had made it before commenting myself.

      It is in NO WAY fair to expect somebody to come in after only half a day off after receiving bad news in one’s personal life. Heck, when my father died, our school secretary texted me to say to feel free to take extra time beyond the allowed bereavement leave if I needed it and when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer (yup, I had two rather dramatic years; those two things happened like just under a year apart. I was genuinely anxious as we approached the second half of November the next year. WHAT is late November going to bring THIS time?), the head of my department told me to just text her if I wanted/needed time off and they’d cover it within the department so I didn’t have to take sick leave and the principal’s first response when I told her was “should you be working today?”

      Mental health is as real as physical health.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I once had to talk a boss out of calling my coworker who was on bereavement leave. Boss insisted it should be fine for coworker to come in because “the funeral isn’t until tomorrow.” Absolutely not. It was not okay for your boss to expect that of you, and it’s part of the same pattern she exhibited with her campaign to wear you down and make you change your mind about quitting, OP.

      1. Observer*

        Boss insisted it should be fine for coworker to come in because “the funeral isn’t until tomorrow.”

        Gaping like a fish right now.

        I hope you got out of there IMMEDIATELY. Because that’s not just a bad boss. That is a TERRIBLE person.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          It was my recession job, so I had to stay longer than I wanted to, but I got out as quick as I could and have successfully avoided that person ever since.

  37. SW*

    Reasonable things are for reasonable people. You don’t owe people two weeks of notice; it’s a professional courtesy. But no one in this entire letter is acting like a professional; why should you stand on it? Also there’s no way you’ll get a good reference from this job in the future even if you stuck to two weeks so you might as well burn that bridge thoroughly now.
    Please OP. Don’t go back. Block the numbers of absolutely everyone in this company for at least a month(especially the ones you like), and refuse to talk to anyone about this job. These are the kinds of people who will talk to everyone you know to try to pressure you to come back so your loved ones should be prepared too. If you give in at all, what they will have learned is that it just takes x amount to get you to cave and they’ll do it again. It’s called an extinction burst and you should be prepared for it. It will get much worse before it is OK again.
    Please take care of yourself. All of this situation is so unbelievably abusive and it’s definitely warping your sense of what is reasonable in a job.

  38. Office Lobster DJ*

    OP, it is not surprising that you feel like a villain after those speeches from your new manager. That’s her intention. She is purposely trying to make you feel that way.

    Look at it this way. If you leave, they’ll have someone to blame when her big plans fail. If you stay….they’ll have someone to blame when her big plans fail.

  39. What She Said*

    It’s time to get out. Now, not later. Start taking any personal belongings you may have there home little by little each day so on your last day nothing is holding you there. Tell your boss you thought about it and your resignation stands as it originally was. If they give you a hard time do not hesitate to walk out right then and there. Trust me, the minute you walk out for the last time you will feel a huge weight lifted. You deserve better than this. Remember that.

    Also a mental health day is just as important as a physical health day. Don’t ever feel pressured to go in just because you aren’t physically ill. Mental health is no joke and it will become physical if you keep putting it off.

  40. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    By trying to publicly guilt, shame, and trick you into staying, your new manager is just being abusive and manipulative. Exactly like the higher-ups. Nothing will ever change for you. If you pulled your original quitting date, announce you’re going back to it and stick to it. Every time your boss or the higher-ups start guilting you, telling how much they need you, etc., think to yourself, over and over with everything they say, “This is an abusive manipulator’s tactic to keep me in a toxic job. I won’t let them win.” Out loud, briefly reaffirm that no, you’re not staying past your last working date (don’t say you can’t stay–say you’re NOT staying).

    You don’t owe these people anything more than you’ve given them in accordance with your job description. And, honestly, you’ve probably given them far more than they deserve there. Tell yourself that too, as many times as you need to hear it!

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      Also…mental health IS physical health! If you didn’t have a very physical and real brain, it couldn’t become ill. There’s a reason why mental illness or mental distress cause physical symptoms in the rest of the body.

    2. Katiekins*

      “This is an abusive manipulator’s tactic to keep me in a toxic job. I won’t let them win.”

      Louder for the people in the back!

  41. M*

    “I called out because I needed a mental health day after some bad news in my personal life and was pushed into coming in anyway halfway through the day, which … I guess is fair considering we’re working on less than skeleton staff and I wasn’t physically sick”

    ON WHAT PLANET IS THAT FAIR. THAT IS NOT FAIR. You called out! You get to have PTO just because you feel like it, even if something bad didn’t happen, and you don’t have to justify that to anyone!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I was just about to post this same thing.

      OP, no. This is not fair. It’s not right. And the fact you think it is needs to be a big blinking neon sign that you need to leave because this place is warping your norms. There are other things you say about the work environment that also send that alarm off, but this is the biggest one.

      Crying at work on a regular basis* is NOT normal. If you can’t get through the day without crying, you are not healthy enough to be at work. Full stop. Please get out of this environment before it does more damage to you.

      *people handle stress differently, and an occasional cry or feeling of overwhelm or inability to disconnect from something going on in your personal life certainly happens. We’re human. But this is not that.

    2. Dust Bunny*


      It’s not fair!

      They have a skeleton crew because they’re a destructive nest of angry bees, not because something unavoidable and unfortunate happened to their staffing. They could fix this by not being infighting wackos. But they’re not–playing out family drama is apparently more important than running a functional business. It’s not on you to clean up that mess.

    3. knitcrazybooknut*

      Having a skeleton crew is the sign that management is NOT doing their actual JOB. If they aren’t able to staff adequately, they have a problem, and that’s a THEM problem, not a YOU problem.

      You have permission. Leave now. You’re allowed. Walk away clean.

    4. Keyboard Jockey*

      I came here to say this! Under no circumstances is your mental health day WHICH YOU DESPERATELY NEEDED up for debate, and no even marginally sane employer would ask this of you! This place is bleeding the life out of you. It is not going to change and your manager is delusional.

      (Also, the owner wants things to change? The owner could have fired all of upper management yesterday and instituted change. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not going to.)

      Get. Out.

  42. Super Duper Anon*

    I was also in a situation kind of like this (the workplace itself overall wasn’t toxic, just a department). I agonized for so long about leaving because there were things I liked about the workplace. But, I was also crying at work and snapping at people (not like me at all either). It was also affecting my physical and mental health. So I gave myself permission to leave, found a new job and left. The relief I felt just admitting to myself that I needed to leave helped me through my job search. Walking out of the building for the last time lifted this huge weight off my shoulders. I have now been in a nice stable workplace for the past 4 years and my old happier self is back.

    Just give yourself permission to leave, and do so.

  43. Dust Bunny*


    You’re feeling conflicted because this H*llhole of a workplace has your reasoning scrambled–get out and in a couple of months you’ll see it a lot more clearly.

    You cannot be more invested in a business than the owners are, and if they were genuinely invested in this business they would start acting like reasonable adults who have responsibilities.

    1. Vice President of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

      Run as if your One True Love were waiting for you. Run as if creditors were chasing you. Run like spoiled food though a sensitive stomach.

      How many more of these can we come up with to make the point?

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Run like a cat leaving the litterbox.
        Run like pantyhose when you have a job interview and no extra pair.
        Run like your kindergartner’s nose on picture day.

  44. Caramel & Cheddar*

    LW, everyone is correct on telling you to run, but if for some reason you do want to see out your notice period, then for the love of god stop attending these ambush meetings where they try to convince you to stay! If you’re in a normal meeting and it becomes clear that’s it’s actually a “please stay, LW!” meeting, just walk out of the room (if it’s in person) or drop off the call.

    You’re going to fee like you’re being very rude, but you’re not! This is a “return awkward to sender” situation, where you’re just putting their rudeness back onto them. If they start bringing it up, that’s your cue to say, “Okay, it sounds like the work portion of this meeting is done, so I need to go finish the TPS reports before my last day, which is a very firm next Friday. Bye!”

  45. knitcrazybooknut*

    Regarding the possible/probable embezzlement, there’s something called the fraud triangle that outlines the three things necessary for someone to embezzle funds from a company: Need, Opportunity, and Justification.

    It sounds like your person has opportunity galore, and while I can’t comment on their need, people will often use crappy bosses and toxic work situations as their justification. “Well they pay me crap wages, make me cry, and give me too much work, so I deserve this!”

    Also your boss sucks and isn’t going to change, and isn’t going to change the company. I wish you the best of new jobs.

    1. Observer*

      The thing is that the triangle is either inaccurate or useless. Because you can’t always know what someone’s needs actually are. (eg would anyone know if someone has a gambling habit?) But also, some of the biggest fraudsters didn’t have a “need” as most of us know it.

  46. jane lane*

    If the letter writer doesn’t trust themselves not to give in to pressure, they should make like their former co-workers and walk out and not look back. Block phone numbers, block anyone from the company on social media, etc. Not advice I would normally give but the company deserves it, and let’s face it, they are not getting a good reference anyway.

  47. LadyByTheLake*

    Please reframe from your new direct boss is “a force of nature” to “a manipulative bully.” You owe her nothing. You owe the business nothing. You owe the owner nothing. Really. If the owner wanted to fix this, he could have, but he hasn’t. You cannot care more about the company than the owner does. Leave, don’t look back, and recognize that it will take time to regain a sense of what non-toxic behavior looks like.

    1. Higher Ed*

      Such a dysfunctional place is unlikely to either want to, or recognize the type of person they need to hire to fix things.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed. And even if they did accidentally hire a fixer – the top is so family run and bat crap crazy that they’ll destroy any serious reform effort that would actually work…

  48. Observer*


    If you need to, walk out the door. Either way, stop discussing this with your manager.

    Firstly, as Alison says “For another, she’s bringing plenty of dysfunction to the party herself ” That’s 100% The fact that you even think that there is anything somewhat reasonable, normal, or functional about this behavior tells me that your norms and expectations around work are being warped. That’s an additional reason to get out NOW.

    The other thing, and something that jumped out at me and made me say “They need get out of there NOW” is this: One person is leaving because whatever she does, she can’t get the invoicing to come out right. The person who walked out did so partly because it was implied she had stolen something … only to have the item in question turn up in the possession of the family member who had hinted she stole it. There is one member of the family who is the only person to understand the accounting practices in the building, and she gets vicious anytime anyone even asks her a question about it

    I don’t know what is going on there, but your “uneasiness” is on the money. You are NOT being paranoid – something is absolutely rotten in this place. And you really don’t want to be there when the garbage hits the fan. You could get hit by whatever comes flying – and it might not just be smelly but actively harmful.

    Get out. NOW.

  49. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    FWIW, your first paragraph ALONE was enough for me to say aloud: “Seriously, get out of there!” Then I read on and it got worse and worse and worse. Also, this new manager isn’t someone you want to work for–publicly shaming you into staying? No thank you.

  50. Where-the-sidewalk-ends*

    Ooof. This letter sounds like something I could have written years ago at a terrible job. Leave. Run fast and don’t look back and don’t feel guilty for leaving. This job and these crazy people aren’t worth it. In hindsight at my old job all the same red flags were there, and someone was actually embezzling from the company and ended up in prison. I am glad I got out before all that went down and I didn’t have to testify. There was so much dysfunction. It’s not worth your mental health to stay and you can fix it. Go with a clear conscience.

  51. Phoenix Wright*

    It seems to me as if the third paragraph was describing an entirely different workplace than the rest of the letter. This place is the polar opposite of relaxing, fun, vibrant, and loyalty-worty. It sounds like a total nightmare.

    OP, please don’t let your manager get into your head. She’s as toxic as everyone else in that company and trying hard to manipulate you. You’ll be doing yourself a massive disservice by continuing to work here. From what you told, this job is already doing some harm to you. Crying at work isn’t normal; it’s a sign that something is not right. Please listen to those feelings and do what’s best for you, instead of throwing your mental health away for this sad excuse of a workplace. You deserve a lot better than this.

  52. Rufus Bumblesplat*

    I’m stuck by your statement:
    “I’ve never worked anywhere this relaxed before.”

    You’ve reported that you’ve been crying at your desk. You’ve witnessed multiple fights. People regularly argue over the radio system. You’ve had multiple colleagues so unhappy that they’ve quit after only a few months or simply walked out.

    None of this sounds relaxing. Please be kind to yourself. Please leave. If your colleagues are actually nice people they’ll want the best for you. If they want you trapped in this flaming pile of dysfunction they’re not nice people and you owe them nothing.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I wonder if OP has had a string of toxic workplaces culminating in this one. OP I hope you’re reading these comments and really absorbing how bad this is. There are good workplaces out there, I promise. Don’t let this place hold you hostage.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I assume “relaxed” means something like there’s not a lot of micromanagement / clock punching / processes / hierarchy. It obviously isn’t relaxing!

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        You could be right that the LW means relaxed in the sense of “nobody cares if you turn up to work in a dinosaur onesie”. It still wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to counterbalance all the flaming bees.

  53. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    As someone who is also an “I’d never, ever walk out and quit in the middle of the day” kinda person–I did it about 15 years ago at a toxic job and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. There was no time to talk me into staying.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Same. I’ve done it only once in my 20+ year career, and it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

  54. Aggretsuko*

    I normally wouldn’t recommend just walking out on a job. This one, you should walk out. Don’t even bother with 2 weeks. They will talk shit about you anyway.

  55. Katie*

    This is giving me so much anxiety. Leave! Do not feel bad. This is not a healthy place to work. You should never have to be crying at your desk because of stupid work junk.

  56. lost academic*

    When you send the recommended email to your manager reiterating that you are IN FACT LEAVING by X date please ALSO say that while you sympathize with her desire to retain staff, any further attempts to pressure or otherwise convince you to change your mind will mean that your notice is then effective immediately.

    You have to get out now. You are doing damage to yourself and your ability to work in a functional office with every passing minute.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I want to echo this and be clear that this is a perfectly professional way to handle the situation. You get to set boundaries and enforce them.

      If you don’t think you will be able to enforce them, leave today because this place is not going to make your last days pleasant.

  57. Young Business*

    I’m so sorry, OP. Your loyalty should always be to yourself, first and foremost, particularly when your mental health is suffering at a job. There’s nothing wrong with doing what’s best for YOU, especially in this type of situation.

    I’m in a toxic startup environment and I’ve seen a plethora of new leaders come in who promise changes and then inevitably end up burning out themselves. It’s a naive level of idealism and optimism that’s just not realistic.

    Get out and don’t look back!

  58. KO*

    I don’t know why you would wait out a two week notice period. I would call and let your boss know that today is your last day. Leave and never look back.

  59. Michelle Smith*

    I needed to quit something once and because of a literal lifetime of conditioning, I was unable to have a direct conversation about it right away (I did eventually and it went horribly) with the people who would have convinced me to stay and be miserable. So I just…stopped showing up. It took literal weeks for anyone to reach out to me and when they did, I met with them. I regret giving them that much of me and have blocked out damn near everything about that experience except how badly they made me feel. If I were you, I’d collect your next paycheck, and then just stop coming into the office. Block their numbers. Avoid them at all costs. And heal.

  60. Queen Ruby*

    As someone who once worked for a business owned by a very dysfunctional family, RUN! They will get even further into your head than they already are – nothing will improve. In fact, it will most likely get worse, much worse. If it helps, use these comments as proof that you are being manipulated, and get angrier than the 100s of angry bees already in that office. So when you get bullied into staying (because it’s more than just pressuring you, it’s bullying), think of it in terms of them messing with your head. And then get the hell outta there!!

  61. El l*

    Would you put up with a friend acting in a similarly manipulative way to your boss?

    No? Then run. Forget that you said otherwise. You’re going, in no more than 2 weeks, and it will not be discussed or explained.

    Want the best reason to run and go this way? When you’re doing things “not you.” Because that’s what happens with manipulative people and dysfunctional situations – they turn you into someone manipulative, dysfunctional, and angry. They just do, and it’s only a question of when you turn, not if.

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

      I worry that this is actually a counterproductive question, because friends (usually) genuinely care about you and your wellbeing. So a friend might say, “C’mon, stay for another hour, pleeeeease, it won’t be as fun without youuuuuuuuuu” and they’re just expressing a normal, honest desire for your company. This boss-monster knows you’re (OP) in crisis, knows this situation isn’t healthy for anyone, and is playing upon the twisted, psuedo-friendship bond you’re trapped in to convince you to stay so that she doesn’t have to go to the trouble of hiring someone new. Don’t be fooled by what your boss is saying (“We love you! We care about you! You’re so important!”) Her ACTIONS are saying loud and clear: “your health does not matter, your well-being does not matter, your agency to makes decisions does not matter, your worth is calculated solely upon your obedience to my demands.”

      1. El l*

        “Stay another hour” isn’t remotely the same situation as, “don’t leave us permanently.”

        And if anything, what you said strengthens my point, not undermines it. Your friend is supposed to care about you, your job doesn’t (not really, anyway), so you should have even less reason to worry about disappointing them when they play dirty.

        Because you can get other jobs, but you can’t get another one of them.

  62. FG*

    The call is coming from inside the house.

    As someone who has stayed in dysfunctional workplaces more than once … I speak from experience when I say … GET OUT.

    I would say this even if the only issues were bad management & potential financial shenanigans. Add to that the bullying & emotional manipulation & this is an EMERGENCY. You do not have to – and should not – put up with one more single second of this. Pack your desk and walk out now.

  63. Boof*

    Op you cannot save them from themselves and also certainly aren’t responsible for them either. Tell the manager you are sticking with your original resignation date. Walk out if you (understandably) can’t bear the emotional abuse and manipulation- because that is what this is, trying to pressure you into going against your own best interest for their personal gain. It won’t help your coworkers to stay, either! It’s up in the owner to change things and there’s a thundering silence about what the owner is doing to detox the workplace. Heck if it makes you feel better you can say something like “once you’ve addressed all the problems i’d be happy to look at open positions then!”

  64. SJ (they/them)*

    Oh, OP. I am wishing so fervently for your safety and well-being. What a nightmare you are living through right now.

    Something I want to tell you, that I hope you’re in a place to able to hear, is that there are no prizes for being someone who has never, ever inconvenienced another person. There just aren’t.

    I would love for you to leave your keys and whatever else at your desk when you leave for the day today, with a post-it note that says “I have moved up my final day of work to today, Monday September 12th.” Take a picture of it on your phone, leave, and then block their numbers and don’t come back. Keep an eye on your paycheck but you can always follow that up later (they have to pay you one way or the other.)

    Maybe this makes you a villain. (It doesn’t, but even if it did – that’s okay). You can say to yourself “yep, I’m a villain. Cool. So, what’s next?” These words have so much power, until they don’t.

    Sending you all the love in the world. Good luck.

  65. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*


    pretend you never said you’re staying. feel free to gaslight this bully. take all your stuff and send an email informing everyone you’ll be working the rest of your notice period from home.

    if work from home is “impossible” then whoops I guess they fired you oh no.

  66. Secret Squirrel*

    1. If the figures aren’t adding up then sooner or later you aren’t going to receive your pay anyway, and not too long after that they will go bust and you will be out of money and out of a job. Staying is no security blanket for you financially now.

    2. Mental health issues ARE real health issues. If you need time off because you can’t function then you need time off. Not looking after yourself will lead to physical manifestations of that illness as well, cut it off early and take that time to get better.

    3. You aren’t going to see all the craziness that alllllllll of the readers of this column have just seen until you are gone from there and have some distance from it. When you start having daily interactions with functioning people again, you will remember what is and isn’t normal standards of behaviour. You need to get that distance. You don’t have the power to save any of the other people at your work, only yourself, and you do need to save yourself.

    4. If they are going to hassle you about a notice period, then don’t give them one. If you need the cash for those two weeks pick up some easy temp work for the gap to your next job.

    5. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE leave now, we’re all behind you and want you to succeed.

  67. Don*

    Put your stuff in a box, walk out, never go back. There’s no reason for you to show loyalty or give one more moment to people who are showing so little regard for your well-being or your decisions. It’s one job for one measly year. Some theoretical reference isn’t worth a day of your misery.

    Don’t lose any sleep over this supposed turnaround either. One, they clearly stink too since they’re not respecting your decisions or boundaries. Two, they’re not gonna get it done. I’ve worked at a place with a toxic top ownership that was hot to hire people to Turn Things Around. It doesn’t happen because ownership will undermine all efforts at change the first second it inconveniences them personally.

    Just go.

  68. Ari*

    You’ve gotten lots of great advice already, but I wanted to add something. Imagine your best friend or cousin called you one day and told you their workplace was exactly as you describe in your letter. I’m guessing your advice would be for them to leave ASAP because you don’t want them to cry at work and be burned out by such a toxic workplace. If you would counsel a friend to leave this kind of environment, then you owe it to yourself to take that same advice. You are no less important. I wish you the best of luck!

    1. The Original K.*

      That “what would you tell someone you loved if they were in your situation?” tactic has been enormously helpful for me!

  69. Nopity Nope*

    For crying out loud (literally), this job makes you CRY AT WORK ON THE REGULAR. That’s not how work is supposed to work. You’re setting yourself on fire for a toxic workplace. Why???

    Giving 2 weeks’ notice would be good, but honestly, if you think you won’t be able to stand firm on 2 weeks notice against the exhortations of your manager/the owner/co-workers, just gather your stuff and walk out the door RIGHT NOW. You don’t really think you’ll get a good reference from these people, who are all kinds of unprofessional and punitive, do you?

  70. Dana Whittaker*

    OP, repeat after me:


    I am sending you all the solidarity hugs ((( )))

    1. Dana Whittaker*

      And FWIW, I learned early on that crying to and from work was a sure sign that I had to get the heck out! Sending all the good vibes for a wonderful new position!

  71. Lizzianna*

    I suspect that working here has warped your sense of “normal.” It’s not normal to have to listen to a family fight over the company radio. It’s not normal to be told to hide things from various owners and management. It’s definitely not normal for the numbers to not add up and the person in charge of that get angry when questioned. It’s not normal to be so understaffed you have to be called in during a sick day.

    Your notice period is a courtesy you extend to your employer. If they abuse it, you always have the option of just leaving.

    It doesn’t sound like this family would hesitate at all to show you the door if your employment there wasn’t working for them.

    I’d send an email reiterating your resignation.

    “I’ve had some time to think about our conversation yesterday, and still feel like it’s time for me to move on to other opportunities, so my last day will still be X. This decision is final. I will work on wrapping things up between now and then, but if you continue to pressure me to stay, it may make sense to wrap up before then.”

    If she brings it up again, just say, “My decision is final. Like I said in my email, if this continues, I’ll go ahead and wrap up and today will be my last day.”

    Also, she’s not going to be able to fix the dysfunction happening above her in the org. At best, she’ll realize this and quietly move on, at worst, she’ll burn out spectacularly in fireworks and/or whatever financial shenanigans are going on will burn the place down. Regardless, those are best observed from a safe distance.

    1. Lizzianna*

      Or, if you don’t feel safe saying that last part to her face, she has’t actually done anything to deserve it. Pack your stuff up, and at 4:59, send her an email that says, “Per my email on X date, my resignation is not up for debate. Because that wasn’t respected, today will be my last day. You can mail my last paycheck to 123 Main Street.”

  72. Box of Kittens*

    I feel like this is a rare situation where OP needs to leave immediately. Go home and send an email that says, “My circumstances have changed and my last day was today.” The block them, because they’re going to try to get you to come back, and never go back.

  73. cardigarden*

    Trauma bonding helps you survive the day-to-day. It does not help you stick things out long term. Look out for yourself and leave.

    1. ferrina*

      Yep. I also spotted some trauma bonding going on.

      OP, you need to leave however you can. You may feel like a villain, even though you’re really, really not (this is Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, and you are Esmerelda being accused by the true villain). Know that your instincts are right, even though your manager is trying to override you. Good luck!

  74. Worker Bee 83*

    “She’ll give a long, loud motivational speech about all the things she plans to change … and how she’s going to turn it around, and ending by asking me, in front of everyone, if I’ll stay. It’s hard to say no without feeling like a horrible villain.”

    That’s exactly the point. Even if your boss isn’t doing it consciously, even if other people would feel strong enough to just say ‘no’ in the moment, this is a psychological manipulation tactic being used to force you to stay. And you’ve demonstrated to them it will work on you.

    Do whatever you need to do to give yourself the strength to stick to your original decision, whatever that looks like for you.

  75. MoonPie*

    I’m confused by this letter. These statements are contradictory: “I’m probably up there as one of the longest-tenured employees in here” and “The company also inspires great loyalty and there are lifers here who have worked decades at this place”. What the heck?

    1. mlem*

      At this point, I’m thinking the lifers include the family and the probably-skimming accountant, and they represent something like five people out of 30. Which is all to say … it’s possible to make both statements work, but not in any way that looks good for the company, I think.

      1. TK*

        OP clarified above that this is a production/manufacturing environment, and she is one of the longest-tenured employees in the office. All the “lifers” are people working on the production floor.

  76. Raven*

    I’m sorry OP, this sounds awful. None of this is normal and you have nothing to feel guilty about. Stop trying to be nice (I know it’s hard) and start being honest. All that guilt and anxiety is not born from your actions but from how you are being treated.

    You have to remember that no matter what your manager or anybody else says, you are not the keystone of the whole operation, it won’t collapse without you. (And if it does that’s on them not you).

    It might be helpful to reframe your manager’s shenanigans in terms of the choices she’s making. She’s the one choosing to make a fuss instead of working to find a replacement, she’s the one choosing to try an guilt and embarass you into staying instead simply asking to stay in contact and she’s the one choosing to put her own wants above your needs. However, nice she may be otherwise, these are not acceptable actions.

    You also have to think that these a not the actions of a good manager. You cannot trust her not to throw away her promises to you the next time someone gives notice, or goes on leave or disappears into the ether. And even if she does, would the pay-off really be worth the current cost to your mental health?

    This is all to say, you need to take your manager aside when you go back in and tell her your notice still stands. Something like,
    “I’m sorry but I panicked in the meeting the other day and shouldn’t have said I was staying. I’m still leaving on [date] and look forward to working out my last however many days/week with you.”
    Then if she puts pressure or says she’s now made plans or insists you restart your notice period or [insert some guilt-making demand here], say something like,
    “No, I’m afraid I cannot work past X date/ stay/consult afterwards, I’ve already made plans and won’t be able to rearrange/have the bandwidth to take on anything else. I’m planning on finishing up X, Y, Z before I leave, how does that sound?”
    Then repeat as necessary. It doesn’t matter what those plans are, and no-one else gets to decide what is important for you be that starting a new job or relaxing with a book for a week.

    I would also try and avoid over-apologuising (I say this as one who does) as people will either think your insincere (which can damage your relationships) or try and take advantage of your guilty feelings (which is what they’re currently doing).

    This is a terrible situation and not one you should be being placed in.

    1. Raven*

      Also want to add, like everyone else is saying, you don’t need to do this, you can just walk away now which may be the better option for you or not.
      Send an email resignation, go in and talk to your manager,write it in Cod, whatever you need to do. Apart from the income there’s not much to lose other than a reference (and that you may be able to get from a sympathetic coworker).

  77. MidWasabiPeas*

    Leave now. Right now. Now, before the IRS gets involved. Right now, immediately. Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. Just go.

    This is not only not normal, it has huge, waving, crimson flags about embezzlement and fraud.

    You are not an indentured servant, you do not need your manager’s permission to leave your job. Situations like these seem to warp perspectives so much that people like you forget that you are not living in the Middle Ages and no one is going to show up and force you to return to servitude.

    Leave NOW.

  78. Gnome*

    This reminds me of a time in college when a guy decided to try and bully me. A big group of us were on public transit going to an event and he decided to propose to me publicly (I’d known him for all of three weeks and we were not dating, didn’t hang out, and this was one of many such things).

    Cornering people publicly is abusive. Full Stop. so, from now on it’s,”I’m afraid I can’t. I have another commitment.” if that commitment is only to your sanity, that’s fine.


  79. Goldenrod*

    Oh, honey no. To quote Pooty Tang: “You gots to say the nay no.”

    This actually is a situation where you hold ALL the cards, so lay those aces down and get outie!!!

    I get that you like your co-workers but guess what? You’ll meet other nice people at your next job! Once you’ve left, you won’t believe you even considered staying for one minute.

  80. MsClaw*

    The letter reads like it’s from the POV of a minor supporting character on a night time soap opera. Get out now, OP!! Apparently it’s not unheard of for people to just flounce from this place. If you don’t think you can stand up to the pressure to stay, then just decide for yourself what your last day is going to be and on your way out, drop off your badge, company laptop etc and send an email from home saying you’re done.

  81. LT*

    I had a similar situation where I was working for a toxic boss, she was CIO. I had to get out. When I put in my notice, they had just hired director under her who then became my boss. New director had all these great plans. My exit interview with new boss and HR was an hour+ of begging me to stay, give it 6 months to see how things change, etc..
    Spoiler alert, the new director lasted 2 months after I left. Had I stayed for the empty promises, I would have missed out on the next job which was a huge step up.

  82. Frank*

    Please, please RUN! And after you’ve landed and caught your breath, please give us an update. You’ve got this!

  83. Susan*

    Agree to everything said: Your new manager will not change anything. As a matter of fact, if she started one of her Come-to-Jesus meetings, I would tell her to stop immediately or your last day will be today. Get up, get your coat/purse and prepare to walk out.

    Nothing at the this place will change. You may come to work one day and find out the place has been closed because the accountant that is likely embezzling has bankrupted the place.

  84. Clearlier*

    Weigh up the likelihood of a new job working out better for you compared to the chances of your new boss making the kind of changes needed to get your workplace to a normal functional level.

    Understand that the longer you stay in a toxic environment the longer it will take you to recover.

    1. cardigarden*

      And the longer it’ll take to unlearn the coping mechanisms you picked up from ToxicJob. My physiological stress responses cleared up pretty quickly, but all of the work behavior/personality ticks I had to adopt to protect myself took a full two years to break away from. I had to talk to my boss at NextJob and explain “There will be times I will do things that seem bizarre like ask permission for [thing that doesn’t need permission in a healthy, functioning environment]. I know it’s weird. I’m working through it. Please be patient.” And, fortunately, she was a good boss who was, indeed, patient with me.

  85. Adrienne*

    Ay Dios Mio! This is a perfect example of how a toxic culture can warp your sense of norms. You are absolutely not, in any possible sense of the word, a villain. The fact that these people are making you feel guilty at all is probably the biggest red flag I’ve ever seen. You gotta do you, and you gotta stick to your guns, just like Alison said. 6 months from now you’re gonna have major WTF vibes about this whole thing, and it will be OBVIOUS then that leaving was the NECESSARY move! Good luck! Please trust us, the commentariat, and Alison–your work place is Loony Toons!

  86. sharrpie*

    Run. Now. I don’t think they’re going to give a decent reference even if you do give them two weeks. AAM has postings about explaining unreliable references in future interviews…….

    NO ONE would blame you for running away from this. The building is on fire and your bosses are acting like nothing is wrong.

  87. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — By now, I hope the commentariat has convinced you that you have no future at Burning Dumpster, Inc., and you need to get out ASAP. You’ve only been there a year and it’s clear that there’s no future for you here.

    In addition to the general toxicity, your letter makes it plain that there’s financial mismanagement (at best) or outright fraud going on. You do not want to be there when this hits the fan. One of your coworkers has already been falsely accused of theft. Don’t wait around to become the next scape goat.

    Pack up your personal gear and make very sure you have copies of all your pay statements and W-2 forms. I’d bet dollars to donuts that they’ve messed up your withholding, but you can work on figuring that out when you’ve had a chance to recover a little.

    I wouldn’t normally recommend just walking off the job with no notice, but your employers have richly earned it. When you leave tonight, take your gear and your documentation, go home and send them an email saying that you’ve thought it over and your resignation is effective immediately. Then set up a rule that will send any incoming email from them unread into an Evil Management folder.

    Then turn to your friends and family for support and concentrate on recovering. Alison has lots of stuff in the archives about job searching, but that can wait until you get your soul back.

    Jedi hugs and please send us an update.

    1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

      Absolutely this. Working out a two week notice gives them time to try and use you as a scapegoat. Now that you’ve given notice once, even if you recinded it, you may still look like a target for them that way.

      Just get out. Go.

      And… if you’re worried about leaving and feeling guilty because you did, you’re pretty much guaranteed a cheering section here.

  88. merida*

    Oof, OP, I feel for you! But I also have a cautionary tale to share…

    One of my close friends was in a somewhat similar position with her job – she was working at a toxicly-run and understaffed job, and she was often expected to take the fall and work extra hours (like double the hours she was scheduled for). My friend was dangerously sleep deprived and burnt out, and after attempting to bring her concerns to the table and getting blown off, she ended up finding a new job and put in her two weeks. Her manager responded by wining and dining her and making all kinds of promises – raises, different hours, promise of hiring more people, etc. She felt she didn’t have a choice so she stayed. While they did give her a raise, they didn’t follow up on any of the solutions that would lessen her workload. The burnout returned quickly but she gave them excuse after excuse – “they just need more time to figure it out” and “they’re still so understaffed so I have to keep pulling double shifts.” It is never the employees’ responsibility to make up for management’s lack of planning and hiring. Seriously. We all need to be reminded of that.

    Anyway, my friend’s almost-quitting was over two years ago. She still works there and the cycle continues. Her company is still toxic and severely understaffed (partly because management doesn’t want to hire/pay more people, and partly because turnover is so high with anyone they do hire). Her mental health has noticeably suffered from the constant burnout (she freely admits this). She gets sick often. Her husband has encouraged her to quit many times, as have I. But she still works there.

    I love my friend dearly, but I also know that at this point, they are treating her the way she’s allowing herself to be treated. Why would management want to hire a second person to do a task when they know she will stay 6 hours after her shift ends to do what needs to be done? She’s salaried; they’re getting at least two employees for the price of one.

    I also left a toxic job earlier this year. I went from having panic attacks at my old job (something I’d never struggled with before) to actually not dreading coming to work everyday and feeling appreciated at my new job. Not every job is hellish, OP. You deserve better. Please choose leaving your job over losing your sanity. Best of luck!

  89. Molly*

    There is so much wrong with this company! Run!
    But I want to point out one thing you said that seems to have gotten buried under everything else. You said: “I called out because I needed a mental health day after some bad news in my personal life and was pushed into coming in anyway halfway through the day, which … I guess is fair considering we’re working on less than skeleton staff and I wasn’t physically sick, but having to spend the day crying at my desk between getting called into meetings that turned into family arguments left me feeling so much more burnt out than ever and I barely got any work done anyway.” No, OP, it was not fair! You had every right to that entire day. Insisting you come back in was flat out abusive and so very wrong!
    Also, the commentary who listed three possible reasons for the state of the books. it may well have started out with #1, incompetence. And the progressed to #2, essentially robbing peter to pay Paul. But, along with #2, I would bet substantial money that #3 is playing an ever more prominent role. You mentioned upper management is hiding things from the owner that you know they wouldn’t like. And they are wildly deflecting onto new employees who have not been there long so it would be no great loss.
    Sooner or later, law enforcement will show up and they will be cuffing. GET OUT NOW!

    1. Observer*

      Actually, it was called out. But it kind of got buried because there are SOOOOOO many crazy bad things going on, that they are taking up more space.

      But, this alone is a problem on its own. The fact that they did this, and the fact that they think that it’s “fair.” OP, it is NOT fair.

  90. Nea*

    You hardly need to read yet another comment that says “run like the wind” so I’m going to offer you an alternative approach to Direct Manager’s Bully Pulpit Amateur Theater Hour.

    Right now it feels like there are only two answers – the “no” you want to give and the “yes” she wants to hear.

    I suggest that you take back your boundaries and the wind out of her sails by offering a third answer: “After you’ve done all that, then you can give me a call.” After all, those are the terms she’s setting, right? That after she has worked her mysterious magic, then Red Flags R Us on 101 Skeevy Money Lane in Bad Idea County in northern OhHellNO will finally be a decent place to work and you’d want to work there in some misty fantasy future?

    Then accept those terms! Make it clear that only when SHE has done HER part in cleaning things up, would you even get around to considering returning.

    1. Nea*

      Needless to say, do NOT actually consider returning! This is just a way of expressing your boundaries to Manager in way that makes it hard for her to have to admit “Yeah, but that day will never come.”

  91. Just Another Zebra*

    OP, I know you have many many comments saying to leave. Here’s another one. GTFO ASAP.

    In order, yo are going to:

    1 – Take home any and all personal belongings. Today.
    2 – Inform your direct boss that you are finishing out your notice period early. Today, early.
    3 – Go home and enjoy a celebratory beverage of your choice.
    4 – Block any and all numbers from that place of business. If a coworker reaches out to you with a “quick work question”, block them, too.
    5 – Be proud of yourself for surviving a toxic work place for 365 days, and be even prouder for not going back for a 366th.

    Good luck, OP! We’re all cheering you on!

  92. 2 Cents*

    “I called out because I needed a mental health day after some bad news in my personal life and was pushed into coming in anyway halfway through the day, which … I guess is fair…”

    OP, you should be able to call out for a mental health day. Are you curing cancer? The bottom of a human pyramid? The only one who knows how to work the drawbridge controls? No? Then you shouldn’t have been pressured to come in. This place is toxic and ruining your view of normalcy. Your boss can’t fix it. And something bad is happening with the money, whether it’s being stolen or there isn’t as much as someone says there is. RUN.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Frankly I want all those people to also be well rested and given adequate time off so they’re at their best. I’m already super wary of hospitals right now with the staff shortages and overworked nurses.

      1. mlem*

        Agreed. We’re apparently about to have a rail strike in the US because the workers are given no sick time at all, and if they try to take time off for a simple doctor’s appointment, they’re disciplined-towards-firing.

  93. Greengirl*

    Get out now. There is someone high up stealing and there are so many other problems. Frankly, I think you would be justified in not serving out your notice period since you are being harassed about staying.

  94. ABCYaBye*

    OP, please go. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly anywhere but here. Something is going to go sideways and you don’t need to be there when it does. Don’t worry about burning a bridge. When you interview next and they ask why you left your last role, telling them that the accounting and bookkeeping wasn’t adding up and it made you uncomfortable will be enough. That’ll tell them all they need to know.

    1. merida*

      Agree! Literally any of the things OP mentions are worth quitting over (toxic family running the business, understaffed and overworked, no work life balance or ability to take a day off, management falsely accusing staff of stealing, questionable finances… gosh there is so much!!).

  95. JelloStapler*

    Remember “No” is a complete sentence. After you tell them you have to stick to your original decision, just keep saying “No.”

  96. In the key of C*

    Long time listener, first time commenter because I just had to say: RUN, OP, RUN! This is never going to get better and your boss is a magical thinker who is bullying you to stay in the pit of despair. Get out, get out, get out – your future self will thank you!

  97. Richard Hershberger*

    Once we get past the universal recommendation to get out, the part that interests me is this:

    “The company also inspires great loyalty and there are lifers here who have worked decades at this place.”

    I have seen this in my own history. I have occasionally mentioned Terrible Boss, since disbarred. I lasted three years with him. I have been praised as a saint by other lawyers who dealt with him. But his secretary and the other paralegal, both very competent, were with him for many years. Both could easily have been hired elsewhere, but chose to remain in place. I don’t understand it.

    1. Dr Sarah*

      My guess would be that it’s a workplace version of the ‘golden child’ thing that goes on in some dysfunctional families, where one child gets all the praise/positive attention and the others can’t do anything right. It’s actually part of how manipulative people roll, sometimes; they make sure there are people around who’ll always back them up, and it makes it harder for the people they do treat badly to realise it’s the bully and not the bullied who are the problem.

  98. Workfromhome*

    My last day will be X thats final. If you ask me to stay again my last day will be today. Put it in writing. Email it to them. If they ask you again pick up your stuff and leave.

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      I’m not even sure it’s rational to say “if you pressure me again”. Why give them yet another chance when they have already crossed obvious lines? Suggested script:
      “Because I have been inappropriately pressured to stay repeatedly during my notice period, I unfortunately have to move up my last day to today. I believe this will provide the smoothest transition for everyone. Best of luck in the future!” You could even leave off the reasons completely and say: “I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that I need to move up my end date. My last day will be today. (Blah blah best of luck blather here )”

      1. Empress Matilda*

        OP can definitely skip the explanations and the careful wording of the resignation email, and the blah blah best of luck blather. It’s a professional courtesy in most situations, but this one is long past the point of any kind of courtesies. They don’t care why she’s quitting, they’re not going to change their behaviour, and OP doesn’t have any need to preserve the relationship. Screw the professionalism, and go.

        OP, if you want, you can send an email that says “Dear Manager, my last day was today. My laptop and security badge are on my desk.” – but don’t take more than a few seconds to compose and send it. If you find yourself editing and wordsmithing, or if you’re too emotional to write anything at all, then it’s not worth the bother. They’ll figure it out.

  99. idwtpaun*

    Your manager is a force of nature who wants to turn things around single-handedly… which she’s going to do by employing toxic techniques to bully other people into staying. Sure.

    By the way, letter writer, no it’s not “fair” that you were pushed into coming in on your day off just because the place is too toxic to hold on to employees.

    You need to get out. You need to a job in a functional, professional workplace, so you can read back on this letter in horror and realize that it’s warped your sense of normalcy so badly that you were justifying unjustifiable behaviours. If you can afford to quit, please do so! No one should have to work there. The family absolutely deserves to have their business fail.

  100. Too Many Tabs Open*

    LW, in case all the replies above haven’t convinced you yet….


    Take your personal stuff home, hand in your keys, and run like a Rhosgobel rabbit whose speed was topped off by Frith-rah.

    (And make sure you’ve saved or printed all your pay statements; RunForTheHills above makes an excellent point that you shouldn’t trust this company to have filled their tax obligations.)

    1. mlem*

      Payroll is apparently handled by an outside company, so I’m not AS worried about that for the OP as I am about *everything else*.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That honestly is the only thing making me not want to call anybody that might reasonably be overseeing/investigating Fraud. But OP, still make sure you have W2’s and pay stubs and that everything is correct for SSN and IRS.

        But do that after you are out of there, run like Michael Myers is after you.

  101. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

    ” I’ve never worked anywhere this relaxed before. The work is fun and the atmosphere can be vibrant.”

    This… is not my idea of relaxed. Or fun. Or vibrant. Frankly, this sounds like hell on earth.

    Work does *not* have to be like this. If you can keep saying that to yourself, I bet you can make it through a notice period. Good luck!

  102. Dancing Otter*

    “she can’t get the invoicing to come out right…” I immediately wondered if she’s trying to generate invoices or pay them. Inability to pay invoices doesn’t say good things about the business as a going concern. And all the accounting going through one person who gets angry when questioned?
    A forensic accountant would be salivating at this point.

    Get out, get out, get out!

    1) Download all your timesheets and paycheck data to whatever cloud server you prefer, and verify that you have been paid correctly.
    2) Go to IRS dot GOV and check your account, to make sure the company actually paid the taxes they withheld.
    3) Check your Social Security record to make sure they’ve been paying that, too. Processing delays being what they are, you might want to talk to an agent to voice your concern and see whether they can check for you.

    The IRS has a whistleblower program, if you find anything wrong on #2 or #3. There’s also a form to file with your tax return if you didn’t get an accurate W-2.
    For #1, the state department of labor might be able to help, depending on the state.

    1. Observer*

      “she can’t get the invoicing to come out right…” I immediately wondered if she’s trying to generate invoices or pay them. Inability to pay invoices doesn’t say good things about the business as a going concern.

      Neither does inability to generate invoices for paying customers.

      SOMETHING is very, very wrong there.

  103. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

    LW, do you recall Alison’s many warnings about the dangers of staying for so long in a dysfunctional workplace that you start to accept, internalize and view as normal the kind of behavior that anyone outside that company would consider batspit crazy? And do you recall her warnings about the dangers inherent in working in small family-run offices in which no one, but no one, can insist on any substantive changes being made because every one of the “suits” are related by blood or marriage and criticism of any one of them results in ALL of them making YOU into the villain? Well, this is a perfect example of BOTH these situations!

    What the (delusional) new manager did was as toxic and twisted as what the “old” managers have been doing. No, she’s NOT going to change the behavior and attitudes of her supervisors and no, the office atmosphere is NOT going to change for the better! The only change here can be made by YOU; take Alison’s advice, find another job and leave your current one as soon as you can. The longer you stay there, the more you’ll be mired in that toxic cesspit!

  104. Janeric*

    It might be worth reading Issendai’s article on how to recognize a sick system, and then think of things your boss could be doing that wouldn’t be from the “perpetuating a sick system” playbook.
    – she could give you a big chunk of time off to combat your burnout (but she won’t, because if you get a little emotional space then you’ll be better equipped to leave.)
    – she could pull you aside and tell you her concrete plan with a defined timeline to improve things, and let you judge whether it’ll make it worth staying (but she won’t because she doesn’t have that power)
    – she could tell you that you’d be welcome to return after some issues have been resolved, and you’d gained some outside experience (but she knows once you leave you’ll be gone)

    Look at her behavior and how it serves the system. She can’t do anything that gives you autonomy to choose and increased psychological safety, because as soon as you have a little shelter you’ll realize you deserve better.

    Also, the thing where you had a personal crisis and they bullied you to come in and then dragged you into a bunch of infighting meetings? A rigid manager would have sent you home (and let you take the next day off) if you were weeping at your desk because of bad news in your personal life. They would regret having asked you to come in. They would work to protect you when you’re vulnerable.

  105. Feral Campsite Raccoon*

    You realize you can hang out with the coworkers you like without actually having to work there, right?

    1. FG*

      Absolutely. You just have to be careful, tho, that the conversations aren’t about this place. The natural tendency will be for the to share the latest outrages & to vent to you – a unique audience who will understand exactly what they are talking about. This will keep you mired in this toxic stew & it will be like you never left.

      Make a pact with anyone you stay connected with that you CANNOT engage in conversations about Toxic Family Business. Otherwise, give yourself time – like, at least a year, if not more – to fully get distance. You will have a form of PTSD from this place & you have to protect yourself & heal.

  106. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    It certainly says something damning about the ways in which our whole system can degrade the self-esteem of the employee so thoroughly that someone can get to the end of this whole list of red-flags an conclude “but I can’t quit because I’d feel like a monster.”

    OP, you are NOT in the wrong for quitting, you would not be in the wrong for telling this manager so directly to her face at the end of a Come to Jesus speech, and even if you were? Some things are worth turning into a villain over.

  107. I should really pick a name*

    If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to stand firm if your manager keeps begging you, than take a page from your co-workers, and just don’t come back. Leave all your stuff at the end of the day, go home, and email them a resignation letter.

    (This is assuming that you’re confident that you can find a job without using this one as a reference).

    1. I should really pick a name*

      On second thought, I don’t think you can risk counting on a good reference from this place anyway.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      In one of the dramatic resignation letters from last week, the person quit a call center job leaving her coat and bag (but not its contents) behind. (So no one would realize she was leaving and argue with her.)

      While it makes sense for this to be a mid-shift spontaneous quit, you could always go to a thrift store and get a sweater and purse, add a covered cup of “coffee,” set up your faux work station, duck out like you’re heading to the bathroom, and use delayed send to have a good head start by the time the “I QUIT” email hits someone’s in-box.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I think a leave as usual at the end of the day and never come back might be psychologically easier.

    3. merida*

      Yeah, this! Normally I’m not in favor of leaving in that way, but in this case it seems entirely acceptable. What does the OP have to lose at this point? A positive reference? It doesn’t sound like management there can be counted on to give a good reference, regardless of how or when OP leaves. Good luck, OP!

  108. North Wind*


    Does anyone remember a British comedy from around 2000 called Coupling? There’s this episode where a guy is trying to break up with his girlfriend, and she just looks at him, shrugs, and says, “I don’t accept” and continues on like they’re a couple.

    Your boss doesn’t get a say in your life choices, she just doesn’t. It’s not a mutual decision :).

    1. CoveredinBees*

      An unflushable! I haven’t seen that in so long but immediately remembered the episode. Thanks for the giggle.

  109. starfox*

    Oh man I worked in a similar environment before. It was just retail summer employment in college, and I managed to stick it out for the whole summer… not out of even a modicum of loyalty to the family that ran the business, but because the other people who worked with me were fun and I didn’t want to leave them in a lurch if I left.

    But… that was for one summer. It was so incredibly toxic and those family members were some of the most hateful people I’ve ever met… both to me and to each other. RUN.

  110. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    Did anyone else get the impression that this new manager has been recruited by the owner specifically with the aim to try and turn things around with the family members?

    As with all ‘change agent’ roles, if she doesn’t have the backing of senior management, no change will be possible.

    I think this is worse than the usual level of family business dysfunction, because the other family members are working against the owner!

    1. OP*

      Weirdly enough, you hit the nail on the head. Honestly…I think one of the things that’s making me feel uneasy, especially about leaving the owner, is that my instincts are telling me that there’s a certain amount of elder abuse involved, up to and including financial abuse. But I have no evidence whatsoever, and no idea what I could do without any.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*


        To paraphrase the flight safety briefing: please put on your own oxygen mask BEFORE assisting others. You won’t help anybody by destroying your own health, and that is a very likely outcome if you continue to stay.

        Get all the ducks (and paperwork) in a row and then get out. You can report them after you leave, there should be a state or county agency on aging that you could report the suspected Elder Abuse to once you are safe.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Seconding what Where’s the Orchestra? said. Bluntly, you staying or going will have no impact on whether the elder abuse continues. And you may have more power to do something about it after you leave. As Orchestra points out, you can report your suspicions to the proper authorities without worrying about it affecting your worklife, so that is one more reason to leave.

      3. June First*

        OP, I did a quick search and my local elder abuse reporting agency directed me to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) for reporting suspected elder abuse. It looks like NAPSA-now[dot]org is a good place to start. I haven’t worked with them at all, but that might be a good resource that connects you with local orgs, too.

        You don’t have to fix all the company’s problems, but if the treatment of the owner is weighing on you this might be a way for you to help, even after you leave.

      4. Observer*

        Yup. The others are right – you can do more good by getting out and reporting up the wazoo. Elder abuse, fraud, tax, labor. All of it. At least one of them will probably turn up enough to shift the situation.

        But also, FIRST get out. The analogy of that oxygen mask is good. But also, you are not expected to set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.

      5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Get out, take a few days to catch your breath, and then you can call your local Council on Aging and tell them what you know. Or, if that’s too stressful, write to them with the basics (either email or a paper letter sent through the mail).

  111. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    The only people who deserve to be in toxic jobs are those who love toxicity.

    DON’T FEEL GUILTY. Take care of YOURSELF. You’ll live better – and LONGER, too.

    Among the three happiest days in my career – one of them USED to be departing from a nasty, toxic job. While one guy yelled at me and said I would be out of the IS/IT business in three years!

    Boy, I pulled their pants down on that one, but I digress….

    But that was eventually topped by several professional accomplishments in later stages in my career. Which NEVER woulda happened if I had stayed at Toxic Enterprises.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I might add – with my belongings in a box under my left arm, I gave a “ZZ Top” wave to him with my right – if you remember the closing scene of “She’s Got Legs” video.

      And I rode the 1932 Ford Coupe in that video (proverbally) to glory.

  112. FG*

    Absolutely. You just have to be careful, tho, that the conversations aren’t about this place. The natural tendency will be for the to share the latest outrages & to vent to you – a unique audience who will understand exactly what they are talking about. This will keep you mired in this toxic stew & it will be like you never left.

    Make a pact with anyone you stay connected with that you CANNOT engage in conversations about Toxic Family Business. Otherwise, give yourself time – like, at least a year, if not more – to fully get distance. You will have a form of PTSD from this place & you have to protect yourself & heal.

  113. Radical Edward*

    Get out ASAP. From what you have described, at least two family members are behaving suspiciously re: money and processes, and there’s no telling how or when that could blow up – and worse (for you), no telling which employees might get dragged into the ensuing legal ramifications.

    If you’re worried about any coworkers who remain, honestly the very best thing you can do for them is to 1) model putting your own mental health first by leaving before you snap, and 2) offer to be a reference for anyone else who does the same (if you’re genuinely comfortable with that, of course).

    I say this from personal experience: that workplace is a ticking bomb and you don’t want to be there when the fuse runs out. Get out now.

  114. CoveredinBees*

    It is not “fair” to call you in on a sick day. No, it’s not. They are short staffed because that is how they have chosen to operate. Spending the rest of the day crying at your desk is not just bad, it is a sign that that things are very very very bad. Just leave. Your coworkers are lovely people? Great! Be friends with them outside of work. Help them find jobs in companies far more functional than where you are now. This is an incredibly low bar to clear.

    1. merida*

      Yes! As a note of encouragement for OP or anyone in a toxic job – I recently left a toxic job, and the main reason why I stayed was because I truly felt I connected with many of my colleagues and I knew I’d miss our work friendship. I quit, and then have stayed friends with many of them! It is incredibly lovely to work during the day at a normal job that doesn’t make me cry at my desk – and then go out to dinner after with a great former-colleague-now-friend. (And I have great colleagues at my new job too.) It’s entirely possible to have our cake and eat it too. :)

  115. Calamity Janine*

    though the real answer is “the only winning move is not to play, don’t give justifications just gtfo”, i will say that if you feel pressured to give some answer anyway…

    …if you’re at this level of burnout, i think calling upon medical authority is going to be at most a white lie. even if you haven’t specifically talked this over with your doctor, it’s very clear this is taking a toll on your health. you don’t need to specify it’s mental health. heck, you may have more physical manifestations of this stress too, who knows.

    if you feel painted into a corner, emphasize that you have to do what’s best for your health and you are following the recommendations from medical personnel about it, and their recommendation is to stick to your original resignation date.

    this is in essence passing the buck. you are letting the nebulous medical establishment be the outside authority which they can go and be mad at instead of you. and quite frankly, you may as well let ableism work in your favor a bit – if it’s a smallish business you may suddenly be seen as “a liability for our insurance rates” and they’ll stop fighting so hard to get you to stay. (insert copious eye rolling and rant about the hellscape that is american healthcare here. but screw it, if this bs is endemic, you may as well bank-error-in-your-favor leverage it.) if they try to even press this point, bring up that you’ve been warned the stress can take a toll on your dental health too – grinding your teeth at night, making TMJ worse… health insurance is expensive, dental even more so, and it’s hard to argue against the costs of dental work as a concern.

    (though really just reiterate the point of general tolls on your health and resist feeding the bears further, to be more politic about it.)

    best case scenario, if your boss really really is going to bend over backwards, she’ll come up with some offer of letting you go on sabbatical, or otherwise extensive paid sick leave. is this highly unlikely? absolutely. should you stay if they do this? hell no! however it has just become you getting a nice period of time to job search while being paid instead of quitting without anything else lined up. it’s the equivalent of severance that i think you deserve from surviving this mess. and you will still be following the advice to look after your health while on sick leave… by finding a workplace that is not a toxic hellhole out to crush you under the weight of burn out. stress, and guilt trips. (and maybe they can help pay for some therapy helping undo the harm done to you on your way out!)

    some could call that move a little scummy, but when the company itself is such a turbo scumlord, well… don’t trust anyone there trying to make you feel bad. they’ve got very bad definitions of what is toxic and what isn’t.

    to the point where you may be able to simplify as “so whatever they say you should be doing, do the direct opposite”.

    1. Aaaargh*

      I’d like to respectfully disagree with this. It initially sounds like a great idea but I’ve worked at enough dysfunctional places to suspect that if she relies on “health” as a reason to leave, in future when people call this place to confirm she worked there, they will say “oh yeah, she cracked up,” or “oh yeah, she was unreliable because sick.” Neither of which are true. So would advise caution.

    2. Observer*

      This is the place that called and pressured them into coming when they called out sick. What makes you think that when they use this excuse they are going to say “Oh, your health? I hope you have a speedy recovery.”

      They will NOT do that. Instead they will try to make them feel like a villain for “selfishly” prioritizing their health over the company. Especially since they are not “really” sick – there is nothing physical that they can see. So, that’s not a “legitimate” use of some outside authority, anyway.

      OP, don’t bother. Reasons are for reasonable people and maybe for people who are within shouting distance of reason. These folks have left that behind a looooong time ago.

      1. merida*

        Yes, I wish this wasn’t true but it is. At my last job, toxic management responded to my email saying I’d tested positive for covid with “I hope you can still work through this :)” No amount of grace was given for working a little slower while sick.

        I was also reprimanded for not asking permission to get treatment for a broken bone (I’d told my boss I’d just gotten xray results back and would need up to an hour off the the next day in order to get treatment for a broken bone – that was counted against me because I told my boss that I was taking an hour off rather than asking permission). I was told I was being impertinent and not respecting authority.

        All that is to say… a company that has given up all reason and doesn’t treat it’s employees like people does not deserve your loyalty.

  116. toolittletoolate*

    You are being abused. I know because it sounds like you are working for the same horrible, abusive, dysfunctional family I used to work for, and that was over 10 years ago! They don’t change. You are by no means required to honor any commitment made under that kind of pressure.

    If I had known then what I know now, I would have ghosted that place instead of working a notice. I spent almost 4 months there feeling like I was in the seventh circle of hell. When I left, they acted like I had personally ruined their lives and that their children would now starve and it would be my fault.

    They are still in business, still churning employees, and still apparently doing well enough….

  117. Lauren*

    In writing:

    “Dear Boss-person,
    On September 5, I gave you verbal notice that I intended to terminate my employment on September 19. I appreciate working with you and your offer of XyZ, but have decided that I will separate employment as previously stated. I wish you and Company all the best going forward.”

  118. Neosmom*

    OP – once you are out you might just want to post some of your experiences on Glassdoor. If you don’t post them, write out what you would post and look at that if you have any moments of regret after you are gone.

    And get out post haste! We’re cheering for you and look forward to a Good News update from you.

    1. merida*

      yes, agree on Glassdoor, both for the sake of any future applicants and for OP’s sake/sanity! Occasionally I re-read my journal entries from my time at Toxic Job. Would highly recommend. Very therapeutic, and kind of comical to me now, wondering how I actually survived (for a while anyway) in a workplace that was so totally nuts.

  119. Aerin*

    The spouse is dealing with this right now. Literally just came back from when they called him in to sign some paperwork, but wouldn’t tell him in advance what it was. It was, of course, a bunch of restrictive and punitive stuff. He asked them what they would do if he didn’t sign, and they said they could fire him. He countered that he’s already given notice and refused to sign.

    Based on the really weird way they’ve been about it, we talked about it and both agree that they think he’s not actually going to quit, that he’s just playing a game to get more money (which is why they’re bewildered that he’s not negotiating after he told them the bare minimum it would take to get him to stay and they said no). I encouraged him to explicitly tell the next person who tries to push it with him that his ideal scenario is to *leave*. He’d be willing to stay a bit longer if they offer him something appropriately compelling, but otherwise they just need to stop pushing it and let him focus on the transition.

  120. Ollie*

    I worked for a company owned by the company run by a certain Florida politician when he was accused of Medicare fraud. It was fun (NOT). Run! Remember a two week notice is a formality. I’d be very tempted to say to the new manager – if you harass me about this one more time I will leave now.

  121. AG*

    OP, your post doesn’t line-up. You say you are one of the most tenured people there, with a year of employment, yet “The company also inspires great loyalty and there are lifers here who have worked decades”…? TBF, it sounds like you want support to stay, which doesn’t make sense. While leaving will be uncomfortable, it will be worth it to be in an environment with less toxicity. Simple as that. If you want support to stay, you won’t find it here.

    1. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

      OP clarified the one year vs lifers up top. One year is the max working directly with the family and not in production.

  122. Bunniferous*

    Tell them you are leaving on the original notice day because of health reasons.

    Mental health IS HEALTH.

  123. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

    I left a toxic job with wonderful coworkers and dysfunctional upper management after I realized that I was constantly sucking on peppermints or ginger candies just to keep from throwing up from stress. You’re in the same boat. After you leave, give yourself some ‘do nothing’ time to let yourself heal up before you start looking for a new gig. It really is like a bad breakup.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      Agreed! OP as stressful and dysfunctional as this is you are going to look back in a few months after leaving and realized just how much healthier your body feels.

  124. HannahS*

    I may be reading you wrong, so disregard if I am, but I wonder if you have an undercurrent of, “I want to leave but I want it to be smooth and without conflict and not awkward,” and, my friend, that is NOT going to happen when you leave this place. They will not be like, “Oh wow congrats on your new opportunity, we wish you the best :)” It’s gonna be “You’re so [insert your insecurities here]!!!” It will suck. Accept that it will suck. Rip off the bandaid and get out of there anyway!

  125. Mr. Random Guy*

    I was in just about this exact situation. Guess what? All the awful people continued to be awful. No changes materialized, and it got so much worse. I am probably not saying anything new, but my earlier self is begging you to get out. Do not let them sweettalk you like they did me. I have still not recovered from all the damage that job did to me. You need to leave.

  126. Podkayne*

    One of my favorite quotes related to burnout: “The graveyards are filled with indispensable people.”

  127. Uhhh*

    RUN don’t walk! Don’t even look back lest ye be turned to salt! Ok kidding on the last part, but get out of there. It’s obvious that you aren’t happy there, likely will never be happy there and you have a way out. If you stay you will just be showing that you are OK with the abuse and all they have to do is whine to manipulate you into staying for more abuse.

  128. Jessica Fletcher*

    OP, you’re going to find a better job somewhere else, or at least a normal, functioning environment! Get yourself out and you’ll immediately feel better.

  129. NewJobNewGal*

    Dear OP, anytime that you are put in an uncomfortable situation, you always have the right to walk away. If your boss is pressuring you, then say “I need to step outside, excuse me.” Then get your thoughts together.
    Walking away is one of the most powerful tools you have, and I wish I had learned to use it earlier in my career. Now, anytime I feel pressured, conversations have turned dramatically, or even if I’m not sure what’s happening, I just step out until I can see clearly…and sometimes I return.

  130. Petty Betty*

    Oh, LW… this is an entire city overrun by bees.

    If this manager, and CEO, are so desperate to keep you, let them prove it. With everyone in attendance tell them you’ll stay if they give you a $10k salary (or $25k salary) PER MONTH, plus fully paid medical, dental, and vision, with a full 401k and paid financial advisor if they value you that much, otherwise, your last day will be X date, thankyouverymuch.
    Watch what happens. They will laugh. They will say you’re crazy. They will outright deny you that kind of compensation because you “aren’t worth it”.
    But you are worth being used and abused in a toxic and highly suspect environment? Where I’m sure they aren’t paying you well? Where I’m sure you aren’t getting paid *enough* to deal with all of this.

    Unless they put the company’s money where management’s mouths are, they are paying you empty lip-service in hopes of keeping you in the toxic stew.

    Run. Don’t even bother sticking out your notice.

  131. RWM*

    “I’ve never worked anywhere this relaxed before.” -> Honestly, there might be a reason for that! So relaxed actually isn’t a good thing, when it means “boundaryless” and “unprofessional.” Even if it feels nice some of the time, the overall effect is bad. And how relaxed is it, really, if you can’t take a lunch break and you’re badgered into coming in on a mental health day and crying at your desk?

    Also Alison is right that your new boss is a parade of red flags.

    There are other, better jobs out there, I promise. Run fast from this one.

  132. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP, a lot of particular words have been used in the comments to describe your situation, like: toxic, conditioned, manipulative, hostage, abusive, gas-lighting, etc. This is what your work situation looks like to people on the outside who can be more objective about it. Crying at work about work is a clear message to yourself, from yourself. It’s very hard to reconcile your negative description of this dysfunctional workplace and how badly it makes you feel, with your other reference to a “vibrant” atmosphere. So I have to agree with the other comments that say: leave, now! The good news: you have all the power in this situation, and you can walk out the door at any time and never look back at that workplace that made you miserable – yes, you sound miserable! You do not owe this employer anything. Good luck.

  133. Water Everywhere*

    Do not go back. The people in charge of this workplace are destroying you and do not deserve ANY consideration.

    If you have personal items at your workplace that you absolutely cannot live without then show up for your next shift, collect them, and quietly leave when boss isn’t looking. Then block all channels of communication.

  134. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    I don’t know why people feel SO BAD about leaving these toxic jobs.
    All I can think is that they have a version of Stockholm Syndrome.

    It seems it gets worse, the smaller the company. And if you’re worried the company won’t give you a good reference because you resigned, well, if they’re that toxic they wouldn’t anyway. That’s why they’re toxic! You should never feel bad about leaving to do other things. Even if it was a good job at a non-toxic company. It’s just business!

  135. What the Jorts?*

    OP, I am so stunned at your situation, I have no words. Please update us on what you decide to do. I wish you all the best and hope you can find a job that is not located inside the middle of an apiary.

  136. pengy*

    Oh OP. Remember that 18 minute rant you had?

    Consider writing down a list of everything that is wrong with the job. Given it to the new manager. Top the list with tried to take ONE DAY off work and was pressured to come in. Make sure emotional manipulation is high on the list.

    Email this list to your manager. You have nothing to lose. And say, here is everything that needs to change.

    PUSH BACK. Regain some righteous anger. (I recognize that is hard to do after a prolonged period of dysfunction. But what your boss is doing is further traumatizing you.)

    Crying at work is NOT NORMAL.

  137. katsplay*

    The manager knows she’ll be up a creek if you leave and is trying to publicly shame you in to staying. This is very toxic behavior.

    If you’re still on the fence about quitting, tell her that you’re still thinking about quitting, but you stay on {X} conditions. She has two weeks to make them happen. When they don’t happen (and they won’t), you can bounce guilt-free.

  138. You know who*

    This scenario reminds me of the old horror movies from the 80s where someone thinks that Michael or Jason is dead but while the lone survivor is catching their breath, the monster stands back up to kill again.

    Or – when someone says “Hey, what was that noise? I’m gonna go investigate.”

  139. Kevin Sours*

    Imagine that scene in that movie where the protagonist walks away, throws a match over their shoulder, and doesn’t look back as the whole thing explodes into flame. This is you right now.

  140. LobsterPhone*

    I apologise in advance because this is going to sound sarcastic, but…what about this job do you find ‘fun’ and ‘relaxed’? NOTHING about this sounds like either of those things.

  141. New Jack Karyn*

    You just slip out the back, Jack
    Make a new plan, Stan
    You don’t need to be coy, Roy
    Just get yourself free
    Hop on the bus, Gus
    You don’t need to discuss much
    Just drop off the key, Lee
    And get yourself free

    –Paul Simon

  142. Jessica*

    LW, please please leave. From your letter alone, it’s clear how this job has broken you down. None of what you’ve described is normal or acceptable, no matter how much you like your coworkers. None of their mess is your responsibility, you owe them nothing, especially when they’ve forced such toxic conditions on you. Run.

  143. Your wake up call*

    Leave without notice, there is literally no reason for you to put yourself through this. Your manager is not the force keeping you there, you are. You hold all the power. What is worse: working in this toxic environment where you’re NOT relaxed, NOT happy, and burnt out? Or leaving?

    “I’m more than halfway to just … not showing up one morning, which honestly most of the people in my personal life are supporting”

    This random internet potato is also supporting you. Leave, and you WILL be happier.

  144. Luna*

    Embrace your villainy! Walk out of the job at the end of your notice period and sing any Disney Villain song you can think of.

  145. Lch*

    You must leave. Stay cool and professional and leave.

    “ She’ll give a long, loud motivational speech about all the things she plans to change…”

    I would respond, “that sounds great, I wish you the best of luck with it.” And leave.

  146. Madame Arcati*

    Given that the consensus here is that OP can, evrn should, just quit with no further notice; I feel like there’s an opportunity here for an epic triumphal quitting scenario!
    My suggestions as a starter for ten:
    Obtain as many copies of AAM’s how to get a job as there are non-evil coworkers (or if funds don’t permit, neatly print out little leaflets with this column’s url plus details of the book and nearby stockists) and as you leave, sing So Long, Farewell etc from the Sound of Music (with appropriate lyric adaptations eg I’d like to curse you for a dreadful time/I’d like to stay, but that’s a big fat lie) whilst pirouetting round the office presenting copies/leaflets to the deserving with a graceful balletic curtsey.
    Do the Morecambe and Wise skip down the corridors/across the car park etc.

  147. AndPeggy*

    I hesitate to recommend this, but I had a former co-worker who was essentially bullied into staying 15 months after she gave notice – they always needed her to stay “just until this busy period is over” and there was always another busy period, another crisis, etc.

    She eventually just logged off one day, sent an email from home that she already had her last day, another never responded to anyone in management again.

    1. Dr Sarah*

      In this case I definitely *would* recommend that approach, with the one significant tweak that I’d advise skipping the ‘get manipulated into staying an extra 15 months’ bit and go straight to the ‘go home, send e-mail, ignore them all in future’ bit.

  148. Lifeandlimb*

    OP—Your whole letter says you want (and need) to leave for your sanity. Wrap up what you can in your notice period and then WASH YOUR HANDS OF THIS.

    I worked in a similar place for several years. When I decided to leave, my manager reacted by shouting at me for several minutes near the open door of their office. I hated it, but I said, “I understand where you’re coming from, but I’ve already decided to do this. I wish you the best.” Rinse and repeat.
    As soon as I left, most of the rest the staff left within the year. Guess what? I still get to hang out with them, enjoy their company outside the toxic environment, and sometimes even work together on projects again.

    Stay strong; you can leave this, and you owe it to yourself. You have no idea how good you will feel after.

  149. Chris Hogg*

    A saleswoman from “up north” was making her rounds “down south,” was calling on a customer “out in the country” and came across an old-timer sitting in a rocker on a wooden vestibule in front of a country store, and next to him was a big old coon dog, squirming around, whining, whimpering, with a very pained expression on its face.

    “What’s the matter with the dog?” she asked.

    “Sittin’ on a nail,” came the reply.

    “Well, why doesn’t it move?” she asked.

    “Guess it don’t hurt enough,” the old man said.

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