will I be implicated in my coworker leaving early, stopping a nickname, and more

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

1. Coworker is leaving early and clocking out from home, and I don’t want to be implicated

I recently heard from a trusted coworker that our other coworker, Terry, has been leaving early very frequently and clocking out from home (we have the ability to clock in and out via a web browser). Neither of us are managers and we are not in the same department, and I have been at our organization for several years and he has been there about five months or so. We are both paid hourly, and are friendly but don’t know each other well. His manager is my grandboss but it is not a direct pyramid, so I report to her directly for certain things. After he finishes his public desk shift in the morning, he is supposed to do work at his non-public desk, but he just leaves instead (his boss’s office is in another part of the building, so it goes unnoticed by his boss but noticed by colleagues). Usually, I’m pretty firmly in the camp of looking the other way, especially when it is something I heard secondhand and doesn’t directly affect me. I knew that he was not working from home, but I thought that maybe this was an accommodation or otherwise just none of my business.

However, Terry and I recently had an interaction that made it clear to me that this is what was going on. When there are no managers in the building, the most senior non-manager will be “in charge” and he asked me if I was “in charge” at that time. I said, “Nope! Manager Jane is in her office if you need something.” He responded with an annoyed look and said, “Ugh, I’m trying to leave but she would definitely notice.” I said something like, “Whatever you do has nothing to do with me.” I also was the “in charge” person a few days ago (on a day with no managers in the building) and can confirm he left the building after his public desk shift even though he was scheduled to be in the building the whole day. This poses an issue as he does our in-house IT and would be needed if we had a tech issue.

Now I feel like I might be seen as complicit in this habit. This is a pretty serious offense that would likely result in his termination if he was caught. Since he has confirmed to me that this is what he is doing, do I have an obligation to report it? I don’t want to overstep and wouldn’t even consider it if I didn’t have the first-hand knowledge. I don’t want him to lose his job, but I also don’t want mine to be at risk if it got out that I knew about it and didn’t report it. I’ve also considered bringing it up in a way with his boss/my grandboss in a way that seems like I am just confused, like, “Just wondering, does Terry work from home after his desk shift on Fridays? He wasn’t here when we all left so that would just be good to know for future Fridays when I am in charge, especially if there is a tech issue.” Thoughts?

If being the “in charge” person means that you are fact in charge and subbing for your manager … then yeah, you do need to say something, especially since Terry has done this on your “in charge” days. If you’re standing in for your manager and not speaking up when people do things that you know are serious offenses, you’re not really doing the job you’ve been asked to do during those times.

Bringing it up to your boss as a question rather than an accusation makes sense, but your wording is a little too passive. “He wasn’t here when we all left” doesn’t really convey what actually happened (since that sounds like he could have left 10 minutes early, which wouldn’t be a big deal). “He left the building after his public desk shift even though he was scheduled to be here all day” is clearer about the situation, and including “I’ve seen this happen other times” is even clearer. You could add “is there a plan for IT coverage on days he leaves right after his desk shift?” if you want to spell out your concern.

2. Getting my coworkers to stop calling me by a nickname

I am transgender, and I semi-recently changed my name to one I love — it’s old-fashioned and stately. For the purposes of anonymity, I’ll say Josiah. Before I legally changed my name, I went by a more gender-neutral nickname (let’s say Jo) among friends.

I have introduced myself as Josiah to every single employee at my organization. My name on my email and Zoom is Josiah. Unfortunately, I knew a few of my coworkers before I started working here, and they knew me as Jo, and somehow the nickname has caught on among all 100+ people who work here. I briefly correct people (“actually, I prefer Josiah in a professional context”) on an individual basis, but nobody seems to remember the correction even five minutes after we have the conversation. It feels weird to have my coworkers call me by the same affectionate nickname that my partner uses, but it would feel weirder to send out a mass email to correct people for calling me by something that is, technically, my name!

Is it reasonable that being called by my more gender-neutral nickname instead of my more obviously masculine full name raises my hackles, or am I being over-sensitive to nonexistent transphobia? Should I keep correcting people briefly and individually and assuming they won’t remember? Do I just have to deal with this?

You shouldn’t have to deal with this; you should be called the name you’ve asked to be called. It sounds like the problem might be the people who knew you as Jo before you started; if other people hear them calling you Jo, they’ll assume it’s a nickname you use. (I realize this doesn’t explain the people you’ve corrected who don’t seem to be able to retain the correction, but it’s got to be playing a role.) Can you talk to the people you knew before you started, explain the situation, and ask them to be more mindful that you do not use Jo anymore?

I wouldn’t say “I prefer Josiah in a professional context” since that’s probably inadvertently reinforcing that you do use Jo in other contexts … which is likely muddying things. Stick with a clear, firm “Josiah, not Jo, please” or “It’s Josiah” every time someone messes up and it’s likely that people will get it in time.

3. Getting job applications over gchat

I work for a university where all faculty, staff, and students are provided with a gmail account. Students are messaging me via gchat to express interest in open (and sometime closed) campus positions within my department. They have also gchatted me to inquire if they are receiving an interview or when to expect to hear back from HR.

It happened once during the summer, but I wrote it off as a bizarre outlier. However, since the academic year started, I’ve had a couple students write to me over gchat to introduce themselves, tell me the job they are interested in, and attach a resume.

I don’t oversee the selection process for most of the jobs they are interested in, but I can see how my title could imply that I do. When I receive a gchat, I typically tell them who to contact and send them the delegated account email address for job applications. Should I use this as a teachable moment too? Should I let the hiring manager know that this happened?

This feels very bizarre (and a bit annoying) but maybe job search norms are changing faster than I can keep up with. Is this similar enough to an email that they should get a pass?

It would indeed be a kindness to include a note saying something like, “By the way, we typically use email, not gchat, for any hiring-related communications.” They’re students so they’re still learning what methods of communication to use for what (and this current crop of students has even less experience figuring that out than students usually have, because of the pandemic upheavals of the last two years).

You don’t need to alert the hiring manager to it since it stems from an understandable lack of knowledge rather than a more serious error in judgment; when you hire students, needing to fill in those knowledge gaps is normal and not terribly alarming. (Whereas you should pass along something like rudeness.)

4. Should I alert my new boss about my “wait and see” medical situation?

I recently started a new job. It’s all going well, but I have one question. I have a health issue that isn’t serious, and I have elected to “wait and see” what happens rather than have a procedure before I need one. It’s possible I will never need it. However, if I do need surgery, it could be very sudden and urgent (like I need to go in today or I could get seriously ill) and if that happens I would need to recover for a couple weeks.

At what point do I share this information with my supervisor? Never, because it may never happen? Is it sharing too much to say something, or do you think they’d appreciate any heads-up?

I lean toward no, because there’s not anything your manager can really do with that info.  You’d basically be saying, “I might need an urgent procedure at some point in the future but I might not and if it does happen I don’t know when it might be” — which is actually the case for all of us, really. There’s nothing your manager could act on at this point, so there’s not real benefit to alerting them.

The exception to this would be if it’s a condition where you want to be able to say something like, “If I ever seem X at work (lethargic, dizzy, or whatever it might be), call an ambulance immediately because it’s likely an emergency.” But that doesn’t sound like the case.

5. Doing virtual therapy when you’re back to in-office work

I’m looking ahead to a stressful year and am looking to start regular (weekly or biweekly) therapy. My initial research has turned up a lot of therapists who have transitioned to entirely telehealth/virtual appointments. I am 100% back to in-person office work — I share an open-plan office with three coworkers, and there’s no truly private place in my office building to take a telehealth appointment. (There are two “nap” rooms abutting the break room but they are not soundproof at all.) I take transit to work so I can’t sit in my car. Leaving early or arriving late to take a business-hours appointment from home would mean taking a full 2-3 hours off of work. (I commute 1 hour each way and work 8:30 to 5:30.)

Right now I’m trying to find someone who has availability on weekends or evenings, or someone who is doing in-person visits somewhat close to my downtown office. I am REALLY hoping to find someone in-network because I actually have good insurance with only a small copay for mental health appointments. But it’s a tough Venn diagram! No luck so far. Any ideas that I haven’t thought of for making private, virtual, daytime appointments feasible? Or for some other solution to this problem?

Agggh. Let’s throw this out to readers.

Read an update to this letter

{ 559 comments… read them below }

    1. CC34*

      LW5: My experience with finding therapists is that very often, they don’t take private insurance. I don’t think I’ve ever had one who’s actually in-network, although I have had therapists who would bill my insurance so they counted against my out-of-network benefits. I would actually suggest that this is the part you let go of in your search first: you can ask potential therapists for their rates and if they offer sliding scale fees with lower rates. My brother found a therapist who sees him on Saturdays, so therapists with weekend/evening availability are out there. Good luck with your search!

      1. Edwina*

        If I can just hop on to this comment–a lot of the time, therapists & other doctors, increasingly, will say “they don’t take private insurance” but what they mean is they don’t BILL private insurance. They don’t want to have to deal with doing all the billing, which often means hiring a whole dedicated employee just for that, because it’s gotten so complicated. What they WILL do, often, is give you what’s called a “superbill,” and YOU can file that with your insurance. You just have to make sure that the bill they give you includes the following magic numbers: a DIAGNOSIS code, a CPT code (that’s a code identifying the type of service), their SSN or NPI number, and with that you can get a “participant submitted claim form” from your insurance and file it yourself. You’ll have to have their address, phone number, etc and of course fill in all your info, and it’s time consuming and annoying (which is why they’ve decided not to do it!) but you can recoup at least some of the expense, both in-network and out-0f-network. As I understand it, medical insurance is required, since the ACA, to include mental care at “parity” with physical care, which has been a great boon to those of us needing mental health care. So be sure to ask specifically about this.

        1. Alan*

          Excellent point! One of my family members is seeing a therapist who doesn’t take insurance, and when I pressed she said that she can issue superbills so that people with PPOs can submit to their insurance. It’s not a lot, but it’s something.

            1. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

              Some PPOs will cover a percentage of out of network expenses once you reach a deductible. Mine does.

        2. Ann Nonymouse*

          I actually do the billing for such a therapist. I provide the patients with statements that state their diagnosis code, other info and the dates of treatment (sessions) which they turn over to their insurance companies for reimbursement.

        3. Red Headed Stepchild*

          The other thing to check is if the provider is in network. I saw a therapist for a few years that pulled that “I don’t bill insurance” line and gave me super bills. What I didn’t realize at the time was that since she was in network and contracted with my insurance she was obligated to bill them and accept their write offs.

          It sounds shady but I also know that a lot of times when doctors of all specialties go into practice for themselves and don’t hire adequate or trained staff they often violate rules like this without realizing it.

      2. Stevie*

        I have had the same experience. I’m sure this isn’t always the case everywhere, but I have had very poor experiences with all of the therapists and psychiatrists in my area that actually DO take insurance. I could truly go on a long rant about the inequities in quality mental health access.

        I end up submitting for reimbursement after the fact. For my insurance, I do get the majority of what I paid out-of-pocket back, but it is definitely less than what I would pay if I only needed to do a copay.

        1. Coenobita*

          Yes, that’s what I do. The practice where my therapist works actually does take insurance, but my insurance switched up its coverage, my particular therapist is now out-of-network (ugh), and the practice doesn’t handle billing for out-of-network claims. It means I have to pay up front and get partially reimbursed, but I’m lucky I can afford to front the cost and it’s WAY better than paying the whole thing myself.

          I will also add that my therapist is technically a resident – not a fully certified provider. I was a little hesitant about that, but she’s AMAZING. Definitely don’t discount residents/trainees out of hand.

      3. InTheLibrary*

        Don’t despair yet, OP! I think that whether or not therapists take private insurance depends very much on your geographic area and your insurance. I have not had a problem finding multiple therapists on my private insurance, several of whom I tired before I found one I love and who I’ve been with for almost two years.

        My advice for finding a therapist, regardless of your particular Venn diagram, is just dogged persistence. I 100% know that it is exhausting to keep trying, but I think that’s the only way. What worked for me is to ask for recommendations, and when I wrote to well-regarded therapists and they were not taking new patients, I always asked if there was anyone else they could recommend — a chain of this type of referrals eventually led me to my current therapist. The good ones do get filled up quickly, but they’re also the people most likely to know of other good ones (or in your case, ones with flexible schedules or whatever). Just don’t be afraid to say what you’re looking for, and keep asking and keep trying.

        1. OP 5*

          Thanks for the tip about asking for recommendations! Can I ask how you were able to identify which therapists were “well-regarded” to start your chain of referrals?

          1. Sorcyress*

            There is a therapy resource in the Boston Area which has a really good article on this – friendlytherapy [dot] info [slash] how-to-find-a-therapist

            (The site was originally designed for folks who are queer/poly/kinky/etc and who want therapists already familiar with those concepts, so they don’t have to spend all their time explaining the basics of their life instead of actually getting help).

            If you’re lucky enough to have a regular doctor, I’d recommend checking with them too. Again, this is just to get your first contacts –don’t be afraid to have a few meetings with someone and then let them know it’s not working. A good therapist will understand that their service is not one-size-fits-all for everyone and won’t take it personally (and a therapist who DOES take it personally if you say you’re going to go elsewhere is not a therapist you can trust to have your best care in mind.)


      4. Dweali*

        This is probably area dependent. In my area the majority take private insurance and are contracted with different plans. This includes providers affiliated with a health system and stand alone providers.

        OP could you maybe find an in network provider close to your job so you don’t have to take as much time off?

      5. Anon3*

        Just seconding that I have a therapist I like through my insurance, and there were lots of local people who took it, so don’t despair! It seems area dependent. I pay $10/ session and could never afford it otherwise.

      6. Leftylanie*

        OP can call their insurance company and see who is in network. This is how I found my therapists. They may have better luck finding a group practice or agency that’s in network. Also, another reason private practitioners don’t take insurance is because the reimbursement rate is so low.

        1. meggus wolf*

          sadly “ghost networks” are an enormous and persistent issue with insurance companies when it comes to mental health care. Years ago I found ZocDoc very useful in finding a covered therapist, since the lists my insurance gave me were ridiculously incorrect. I spent days calling providers from that list only to find they either weren’t accepting patients or they were no longer accepting my insurance ):< ZocDoc isn't an exhaustive list, but it was far more useful in finding than contacting my insurance company.

          If your job has an EAP, it might be a good idea to start by engaging with that plan. you'll get sessions through that plan, and they tend to also be more useful in helping find in-network therapists.

      7. OP 5*

        The sliding scale point is a great thing to look out for!

        I think I’m going to try for a bit longer to find a match that’s in-network. My insurance has a (very poorly designed) provider search site that does turn up lots of in-network providers, so it feels awful to give up on making one of them work. The ones I’ve reached out to so far have either not gotten back to me or don’t have availability outside business hours… but if I only try a little harder, maybe I’ll locate someone…

        If/when I give up on that, finding a sliding scale may be my next step!

        P.S. I have an HMO, which means I have no out-of-network coverage or reimbursement whatsoever.

        1. Adultiest Adult*

          If you’re in the U.S., have you tried Psychology Today’s “Find a therapist” feature? Usually a better source for providers than your insurance website, and gives information about their specialties upfront.

          1. OP 5*

            I’ve tried this!

            My health insurance actually outsources mental health coverage to a third party administrator (MHSA), so when searching Psychology Today it’s a little unclear whether to filter by my insurance, the MHSA, or both — in large part because I’m unsure which the therapists themselves are reporting that they take. That is, I’d want to double-check that each therapist I reach out to is in network anyway. But that extra step might actually be worth it considering how much better to navigate the Psychology Today site is.

        2. COHikerGirl*

          Take a look at psychologytoday(dot)com. You can look up therapists by a ton of different criteria and it has quite a bit of info. I’ve found ones with Saturday availability and after-hours availability. And as someone else said…residents can be amazing! They’re supervised by “full” doctors, but I had 3 (they rotated after a year) and all three were incredible. It was through a teaching hospital, which can make billing tricky (I got a surprise $1000 bill after verifying all it would cost was the copay), but could be worth looking into!

          Best of luck!

        3. Person from the Resume*

          I am sorry to say that just finding a therapist with openings is hard and not getting a callback likely just means that.

          My friend is not longer seeing patients, works for an insurance company, doesn’t like that work, but it’s better/less stressful than seeing patients. She would always call anyone back just to say she can’t take new patients, but when trying to find therapy herself had a bunch of people just not call her back.

        4. Dr. Cubicle Farm*

          You might also get help searching through your primary care provider. The medical practice I use has a service where a case worker will walk you through the steps of finding a therapist, create a list of people who meet your needs, and sometimes even do the initial outreach.

          I don’t know how widespread this practice is, but I do know that using my insurance provider’s search tools was a complete pain! The case worker I talked do through my PCP’s office was super-helpful and got me connected to a group practice that specializes in my particular brand of brain weasels.

        5. EAP?*

          Does your work offer an EAP? I’ve had great luck getting them to help me identify a therapist who was taking new patients and either accepted my health insurance or would provide superbills.

          1. Very Social*

            Seconded–I found my current therapy practice through my EAP. (I didn’t like the first therapist, but I have an appointment soon with another therapist from the same practice.)

      8. Making up names is hard*

        you can also get approval for out of network benefits from your insurance. you would then likely pay out of pocket to the therapist, and then submit receipts for reimbursement from your insurance company. you will probably need to explain why you need our of network – no provider in your area taking new patients, specialitization, ongoing health issue that needs to be managed, etc. a little tricky if it’s a brand new provide for you but still worth a shot.

    2. itsame*

      For #5, is there any way you can adjust your schedule a bit so arriving late or leaving early is an option? If you came in an hour early one day a week you might only need to take 1-2 hours off for the appointment, which seems much more manageable.

      Alternatively, this may not be an ideal (or even workable) solution for you, but if there’s anywhere reasonably uncrowded you could walk, I know several people who did therapy by phone while going on long walks during lockdown so they could get out of the house and have more privacy during sessions.

      1. High Score!*

        Better yet, I’ve driven my car to a slightly more secluded place during lunch breaks to take interviews. I use my phone’s hot spot feature for Internet if on video and a small laptop. This would work for therapist as well.

          1. High Score!*

            :( Missed that. That’s tough. Some companies have personal rooms that are used for breastfeeding, maybe if there’s a room like that that is not being used?

              1. Momma Bear*

                Potentially off the wall idea but are there any local libraries or other facilities that might offer low to no cost space for an hour here and there? People book those kinds of rooms for meetings, studying, etc.

                1. Ella bee bee*

                  I actually used to go to therapy in a library! I was in a similar situation as OP and the library was an easy bus ride from work and we could meet in one of the meeting rooms for free. It was a great set up for me at the time

                2. SweetFancyPancakes*

                  I was just coming here to suggest that. Even in my tiny rural library, we are looking at putting in a special soundproof pod expressly for the purpose of telehealth (although it could also be used for job interviews or other privacy-requiring appointments). If you have a public library near you, you should definitely look into that!

                3. Glitsy Gus*

                  This was my thought. I would do interviews and other things like that in public library study rooms when I needed to talk privately during work hours at my last job. It worked really well.

                1. KatKatKatKat*

                  I’m also here to suggest renting a room in a library, museum or community center! You may also be able to look into renting a room in a nearby coworking space, but obviously paying for the room on top of the therapy isn’t ideal. Perhaps if you select a virtual therapist, they may be able to provide some suggestions. Sending best wishes!

      2. JSPA*

        Seconding! (At least, depending on climate and on the safety and navigability of your immediate environment.)

        The rhythmic nature of walking helps to clear the mind. It also can help allow a comment to sink in for a while, by taking the edge of any pressure to respond defensively. If you start walking at (say) early or late lunchtime twice or thrice a week, varying the times a bit, you should be able to fairly invisibly adapt one of those sessions every week or two, to therapy. Additionally, it insulates you against the distress of a last minute therapy cancellation–hey, at least you’re going for a good walk!

        Whether workplace after therapy is good or bad will depend on how you react to feedback, how emotional vs intellectual your self-discovery process tends to be, and what issues are bringing you to therapy.

        Also, whether you can reasonably block out some time right afterwards to only work on files…only shelve books…only work with random members of public who flit in and out of your consciousness without much interaction…only do creative visual work…or whatever part of your job is less stress than taking a high-stakes meeting or dealing with a difficult direct report, or whatever would be better not done, right after therapy.

        1. High Score!*

          No way. I never ever block my ears or limit my ability to hear in any way while walking alone. No matter how safe the environment is supposed to be if someone should attack, I want as much warning as possible so I can do as much damage as possible. Also if you’re walking and talking then you’re not paying attention to your surroundings and your private thoughts may end up not being private.

          1. JSPA*

            You can have your own rules for you, and the places you live / have lived / have experienced.

            Making those rules into the One Ring is unwarranted.

            Additionally, without saying that it’s victim-blaming, it’s nevertheless putting an extreme level of behavioral self-censorship on…either everyone, or half the human race (depending on what you’re implying).

            People talk on the phone, with a bud in one ear, while walking, all the time.

            I’ve lived places where there’s one violent, stranger-on-stranger crime every decade or two; other places where there’s one every two or three days. Different strategies, for sure.

            Finally, even an intense conversation doesn’t mean you are insensate to your environment. In fact, if you grow up in a big city (I did; I don’t miss it) you learn early on to scan with eyes and ears and “spidey sense,” even while doing other things, whether the other thing is fixing a flat tire on your bike, or talking to a therapist.

          2. Toots La'Rue*

            I have the same rule for myself! I walk/take transit to and from work, and honestly cars are #1 on my list of what I’m trying to stay aware of (traffic-related deaths, especially for pedestrians and cyclists, are climbing every year in the US). Most people I know listen to things or take calls while walking, but even with one bud in I pretty quickly realized I wasn’t paying any attention to what was happening with my open ear.

            So, this may be a workable solution for OP, but wanted to second you that it can be dangerous and people should think about how much they’re realistically able to pay attention to their surroundings. I don’t see that as victim-blaming so much as taking reasonable precautions in a dangerous situation. I would never blame somebody for their own attack or for getting hit by a car in this climate, but I also know there are things I can do to keep myself safer until things get better out there.

      3. DisneyChannelThis*

        I agree. Find a therapy slot at the start or end of your day, lets you come in late or leave early. If there’s a park with a gazebo or anywhere like that you could try for a lunch break slot as well.

      4. Lime green Pacer*

        Some people attended mental health support group meetings (not therapy, but equally sensitive) in their cars during lockdown, to get privacy from family members.

      5. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Caveat: Some insurance companies will not pay for telehealth therapy unless the video is on, which makes walking a little more challenging. Just make sure you check into that before going this route.

          1. Nightengale*

            They can request notes.

            At least in medical, when I do a telehealth visit I have to document whether it was video or telephone (telephone can only be for certain reasons and bills for less), where I was (home or office) and that the patient was in the same state I am in and licensed in. I have to put this at the top of every telehealth visit. The notes don’t get sent automatically to the insurance but could be requested at any time. I would expect that teletherapy would have similar regulations.

      6. OP 5*

        On schedule shifting: This is a good idea that I hadn’t thought of! I hope it doesn’t come to this (hate waking up early, and already wish I had more time to cook/relax in the evenings) but it may certainly be worth it.

        On walking: The sidewalks in the downtown area where I work are both pretty busy and very dicey. (Unsavory things underfoot, unpredictable behavior from other pedestrians, etc.) I quite like chatting while walking but it would be too hard to focus on actual therapy, and not really private enough, in my work neighborhood. I may try to see if there’s a quieter park I can reach on foot or by transit in a reasonable amount of time, as some other commenters suggested!

    3. Goose*

      LW5, is there anyway you can work from home before/after appointments? If you tell your manager you have a standing appointment biweekly at say 3 pm Thursdays but you will work 4-6:30 pm to make up the hours?

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Yeah, I think this would be a reasonable accommodation in a lot of settings. If you’re looking to do therapy every other week, having to miss 3 hrs of work to do so would be tough, but putting it to your boss that if you were able to work from home those days it would mean 2 extra hours (that you’d normally be commuting) and you’d have the privacy you need.

      2. cleo*

        I asked for and received a similar accommodation pre-pandemic and it worked very well for me. I asked to WFH one day a week so I could go to therapy. I didn’t even need to ask for a shorter day – I was able to work my full 8 hours from home and work therapy into my day. But I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I went into the office because I had a long commute and my therapist’s office was convenient to where I lived and not at all convenient to where I worked.

        In my case, I was a contractor and it was was expected for contractors to come into the office everyday but I had a good relationship with my boss and I just asked for it and she was able to accommodate me.

      3. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        I think framing it as an accommodation for a regular medical appointment would be persuasive and not too revealing!

        1. Keener*

          YES to trying for an accommodation for a regular medical appointment so that you can work from home on the days of your therapy.

      4. Momma Bear*

        I like this idea, as it will give OP the privacy of their own home. Hopefully the job allows this kind of flex.

      5. OP 5*

        Tl;dr: Based on my current understanding of my company’s telework policy, this is not an option, but nothing is consistently enforced so it’s definitely worth checking in with my manager again about it and seeing if I can start doing this! Thanks for the suggestion!

        More info: Last fall, my manager told me that the company was ending “regular & recurring” telework and that everyone was coming back 5 days a week. (There is no written policy that I know of stating this, other than the Teams chat sent to me by her.) I’m still allowed to do occasional telework e.g. when I have a dental cleaning near my house and get advance approval from my manager to WFH before and after.

        Many other coworkers, especially in other departments, currently seem to be able to work every Thursday from home, or Mondays & Fridays, etc. So I’m not sure if my manager miscommunicated the telework policy last year, if the policy has changed since then, or if the policy is still in place but no one cares and there’s no enforcement. (This is frustrating and demoralizing.)

        I will ask my manager about what the current policy is and see if I can work from home one day a week (or even just a few hours, as you suggest!), either as part of the policy if it’s actually updated/flexible, or as a conscious exception to the policy if it’s still strict.

        1. cleo*

          Good luck! I’d actually just ask for what you need without asking for clarification of the policy. Let your manager tell you if they can do it or not. But there’s nothing wrong with asking if it’d be possible for you to do telework 1 day or 1/2 day every week for a regular medical appointment.

        2. Casey*

          Good luck! I’m 100% in office but got a half day remote every Thursday just by asking my boss if I could shift my schedule to accommodate a “recurring medical appointment”. In my case I’d drive home at lunch, have therapy from 1-2pm, then log in to work and stay online a bit later than usual. Also helped to be away from the office afterwards in situations where I was a little bit emotional post-therapy!

        3. Alyssa*

          It is worth framing it as an accommodation for a regular medical appointment rather than a request to telework. That is how I got to WFH on therapy days pre-pandemic when my workplace had a very strict telework policy. If you have HR, you might feel better asking them before asking your boss.

          1. Alyssa*

            Oh – and adding that I, like Casey, also appreciate that this gives me some space to calm down after a tough session.

        4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          You might be able to get this as a formal reasonable accommodation. Your mental health visits would be covered under the ADA and given what you said here, that it IS allowed on a case-by-case basis, they’d be hard-pressed to argue undue hardship. You’ll need to fill out paperwork and get medical documentation from whatever provider you decide on (so it may be a few weeks where you’ll have to juggle your schedule), but this sounds like a good option for you!

        5. No Name*

          Hi. Sorry, but I don’t have time to read every single comment. Please forgive me if I repeat someone else’s point. Does your job offer EAP? Employee Assistance Program can include some counseling sessions that are free to you. I had great fortune to work with someone fabulous, and we started thru EAP. Ask your benefits or HR for info. If your primary doctor/provider is affiliated with a hospital, they may have social workers, counselors, etc., affiliated. And they may offer late hours 1 nite per week, for example. Unfortunately, it is just plain hard to find anyone with openings, let alone good compatibility.

    4. nnn*

      #5: Is working from home occasionally logistically possible (even if it’s Not Done?) The “back to in-person office work” makes me think that you were working from home previously.

      If it is logistically possible, perhaps you could pitch working from home on your appointment days with “I have a recurring medical appointment that would mean missing 2-3 hours of work if I come into the office that day, but only 1 hour if I work from home that day.”

    5. Fikly*

      Virtual therapy actually opens up your options considerably. Many, many therapists have hours outside of traditional working hours, because they see clients who work regular hours. This hasn’t changed just because they’ve switched to virtual ways of seeing those clients.

      The advantage of virtual therapy is that you can choose from all of the therapists licensed in your state, and your insurance’s network is highly unlikely to be localized to just the area within a short driving distance. This means that you have far more therapists to choose from than you would if you were limited to in person options.

      Don’t try to fit therapy in the middle of your workday – it’s not uncommon for you to leave in the wrong headspace to go back to work, or need some time to focus before you begin. Instead, look at all of the options within your state, and choose from someone who has availability when you do too.

      1. LaFramboise*

        I agree very much with Fikly. There are therapists who work evening hours as well (my therapists sees patients until 7 or 8pm, depending). I’ve done therapy at work because of scheduling conflicts and it wasn’t as good a session.

      2. PacketLoss*

        I want to second this point. Trying to context switch from processing through something with your therapist back to your regularly scheduled work tasks can be really challenging. You may find it preferable to schedule your appointments after your work day so you can fully decompress after doing the work in therapy.

      3. Coenobita*

        I want to second this advice. My current therapist lives halfway across the state and we have never actually met in person. Trying to find a new therapist is a slog at best, but the virtual setting can let you access a much wider network!

      4. ErinWV*

        Yeah, I would recommend trying to find a weekend or evening appointment first thing. I had a therapist who only offered days and I spent three years with her trying every possible permutation (lunch hour, first thing in the morning, last thing in the afternoon, etc.) to make it work and it just never did. I switched to another therapist who could give me a weekday 7pm or a 10am on a Saturday and I find I carry so much less stress into the appointment.

    6. Southernjourno*

      It sounds like you’re in an urban area – is there a coworking space near your office? In my city there are a couple of coworking facilities with mini offices/pods you can rent by the hour. It’s not ideal to have to spend extra money on top of paying for therapy, but it could be a solution until you figure something else out.

      It’s also worth checking to see if your local public library has something similar.

      1. AnOh*

        This is exactly what I was going to suggest, it’s not ideal but might be a good intermediate option. I had to do some creative workarounds to get my mental health appts in when my counselor only had weekday/virtual appt options left for me to schedule. Love having the virtual/telehealth option now but its definitely hard when your counselor (in my case) doesn’t do weekends and only has 1 after 5PM time slot each day with many others trying to book at the same time.

        1. Lauren19*

          When I worked in the middle of a major city and needed some quiet time I could always find a hotel close by with a comfy chair, lots of space and almost no one around. Look specifically at the bigger hotels with multiple lobby levels or connected to a convention center – there always seem to be nooks and crannies there. Good luck!!

      2. High Score!*

        Or use your car. I’ve done this for interviews. I scout out the area, find a safe remote places to park and use my phone’s hot spot feature and a small laptop. I do it at lunch so no one knows.

        1. Cookie*

          @High Score, LW said they take transit and do not have a car. I use my car for calls too but it only works if you drive to the office!

      3. No longer working*

        I was going to suggest a library. One near work. You could reserve a private room and try to get an appointment for lunch hour, or say, 5 pm, and head over there before you head home.

        1. I edit everything*

          A library is a great idea. Many of them have small rooms you can reserve for work/study/meetings. Not all of them are soundproof, though, so check them out ahead of time.

          1. Jennifer Bertoni*

            A similar option would be a church, temple, or other place of worship. Most are not full during the workweek and have open rooms. As someone who works at a church, I know we’ve provided confidential space to therapists in the past. I can’t imagine that virtual therapy would be different. Couldn’t hurt to ask!

            1. DisgruntledPelican*

              As someone who works for a Temple, there is zero chance we would allow this, especially for someone who wasn’t a congregant.

      4. Phoenix*

        Similarly, if you live in a city with Zipcar or a similar service, you could book a nearby car for an hour and do sessions from the back seat. That’s actually what I did when I was living with three roommates in an apartment with paper-thin walls. It cost me about $15/session and I felt a bit ridiculous at times, but the privacy was completely worth it to me.

      5. Keaton*

        There are also a lot of coworking spaces where you can rent the hotdesk option for cheaper and use one of the soundproof phone booths available to everyone. That would likely keep the cost down since those are usually a punchcard system so you’d really only be paying for the days you’re there and those things are usually pretty soundproof.

        Something like this: https://shopworkspace.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/NA_170921-240-1_1170x1170_acf_cropped-e1584127772190.jpg

      6. OP 5*

        Oooh, coworking space! Cool idea. I’ll look into it. It would probably cost less than paying for an out-of-network therapist.

        Hilariously, I actually work in a public library. I’m not actually sure how soundproof our study and meeting rooms are, but they are all completely glass-walled, which I would not be comfortable with for therapy.

      7. Making up names is hard*

        I was also going to suggest this. co-working space or even one of those rentable meeting spaces? it’s like co-working spaces except specifically for taking meetings, so it’s all seperate private rooms.

    7. Linda Pinda*

      OP 5: Do you have a very trustworthy coworker who would let you use their car? One who doesn’t go out for lunch at least one day/week.

      Might there be a coffee shop, museum, local college that has designated small quiet study rooms? As long as they are sound-proof or use a small sound machine.

      Good luck!

      1. Tuba*

        Don’t go the car route because even with close coworkers, they are still coworkers. You don’t want to be adjusting their seat and mirror at best, or get it dirty/scratched up at worse.

        1. Tuba*

          Blah, I hit “send” too soon. Don’t use the car route unless you are open with that coworker about the purpose and you’re using it just to sit and be on the phone.

      2. to varying degrees*

        This is what I was thinking as well, assuming you have a coworker you feel comfortable asking this of. FWIW, I wouldn’t have any problem letting a coworker use my car for this purpose.

      3. OP 5*

        My coworkers all take transit too, but I like the idea of trying to crowdsource privacy. Maybe someone else in a similar situation can use that! And looking for reservable study rooms is a good suggestion, I’ll see what I can find.

        Thanks for the good luck wishes!

    8. Rectilinear Propagation*

      LW #5 – Any chance you work near co-working spaces that offer rooms that provide privacy? I don’t know how expensive that would be to reserve a space weekly/biweekly and it’d suck to have to shell out more money to make this work but maybe that’s an option.

    9. Jennifer*

      LW5, I know you said the nap rooms wouldn’t be great but are you really sure? There’s a difference between whether someone walking by would be able to hear every word or just hear the general sound of your voice but not make out the words. There are conference rooms in my office that don’t seem sound proof at first glance, I have one right near my desk and people always assume I can hear everything going on in meetings. But I truly can’t hear a word unless I were to walk up and put my ear against the door. If you will be doing heavy therapy and you would seem visibly upset afterwards then maybe not. But you said it would just be to reduce stress and I want to make sure you aren’t automatically discounting a really valid option.

      1. Bets Counts*

        Also consider for the nap room(s): if you were able to add a white noise machine or play a podcast on your phone while you are on a headset for your appointment.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          There are white noise soundtracks / apps you can play on your phone! I know there are dedicated apps, as well as soundtracks on apps like Calm.

        2. Avril Ludgateaux*

          Whenever I did therapy, at multiple practices in my life, everybody always used a white noise machine. It was enough at least that I couldn’t hear other people’s conversations either from the waiting room or during my session, even the one time my therapist was locating in an old, repurposed residential building with thin walls. I would recommend at least trying it!

        3. Sally*

          I think the white noise machine needs to be *outside* the room. otherwise, it just makes you talk louder to hear yourself.

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        It would certainly be worth confirming, but since OP mentioned it specifically I would assume they have personally experienced the lack of soundproofing. We have conference rooms like that at my office, and the concern is not people outside hearing, but the person in the adjoining room being able to hear. We have all had multiple experiences at my office where the person you’re meeting with on the phone says “what was that” when someone 3 doors down says something in *their* meeting.

      3. Jellissimo*

        I have the same situation and I actually schedule my appointments for the end of the day and I use a storage room for my appointments. I told my boss what I’m doing (that it’s therapy) so it didn’t raise suspicion, but it’s actually pretty quiet and removed from general people. I do my therapy, cry a lot, and when it’s over I can compose myself and just take the elevator down and out without running into anyone.

      4. rubble*

        the nap room plan falls apart if someone is in there actually using it to nap/meditate/whatever. they probably can’t be booked in advance.

      5. OP 5*

        With the nap rooms, I’m basing my soundproof evaluation on 2 data points: When inside, you can hear people opening and closing the bathroom doors across the hall. From outside, I’ve knocked to determine whether they’re occupied and heard a colleague say clear as day from inside the room “Just a minute!” (To be fair, he was probably raising his voice to make sure he was heard… but this was not encouraging.) This could potentially be addressed by a white noise machine, as other commenters suggested!

        The bigger problem, I should have mentioned, is that there is no reservation/scheduling system in place so I’d have no way of ensuring that a room was available at the time of my appointment. (As commenter rubble guessed.) Other AAM question-askers and commenters seem to have privacy-room set-ups that are more logical and humane than this; maybe it’s worth raising it with management to formalize (and soundproof) ours better.

      6. BoozyAccountant*

        I would suggest talking to your manager about the nap room — I have seen informal reservation systems where someone just puts up a sign saying “This room is reserved every Thursday from 11-12” or whatever.
        Also, re:soundproofing, when I have to do therapy from home with my family all around, I use a noise cancelling headset which works very well. No one can hear my therapist at all, and the microphone is right on your face and sensitive enough you don’t need to speak loudly at all. Or, other commenters’ suggestion of a noise machine is a very good one. That’s what the in-office therapists I have visited use to keep other patients or staff from hearing therapy sessions.

    10. Kate*

      Re: virtual therapy, what about requesting an early or late workday appointment, using sick leave, and coming into work late or leaving early?

      1. Kate (Again)*

        Also, you could experiment with using a white noise machine outside of the nap room (prior to a therapy session) to see how effectively it blocks the sound.

        1. Rectilinear Propagation*

          I wonder if the office would be willing to pay for one. I can imagine other co-workers would also occasionally need actual privacy for phone calls, etc.

          Also, if it’s legitimately a nap room, it’d probably be easier to nap if they can’t hear the rest of the office.

          1. Quinalla*

            Yes, I was going to suggest this as well. Go to your boss or someone and say hey we have these nap/meditation/etc. rooms that I’d like to use for a private phone call every once in a while, but they aren’t soundproof at all. Would the office be willing to install a white noise machine outside of each so the rooms can be utilized?

            Otherwise, I like the suggestions above to schedule the appointments in the evenings if possible. I do think it would be better to not be trying to do therapy during your workday if possible. Or to WFH for a half day on the days you have the appointment – like you might for a doctor/dentist/etc. appointment.

          2. Aerin*

            You can also look into tips for soundproofing apartments to provide ideas for improving the nap room that wouldn’t require a full remodel. Things like bookshelves against shared walls or sound-dampening blankets can make a surprising difference and wouldn’t cost a ton. (To fill a bookshelf, you can check for bookstores that sell by the yard or check with libraries that might be culling their collections.)

    11. Not A Manager*

      LW 5, if you can leave the office for a nearby physical appointment, could you leave the office for some other private space that you can use once a week? It could take some out-of-the-box thinking, but, for example, some public libraries have study rooms that you can reserve in advance. I wonder if you could finagle your way into a university library or music practice room. Some old loft buildings and office buildings host a weird assortment of art studios, small artisans like hat makers, therapists, solo practitioners, etc. You might post on local message boards to see if someone is willing to let you use their space once a week for cash or barter. I know those sound like long shots, but I would cast a wide net.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        Yes, this is what I was going to suggest! The libraries in my area have soundproof meeting rooms that you can sign up for so you’ll have guaranteed access during your appointment.

        The only thing to keep in mind is that in some places the rooms have large windows/glass walls for liability/security purposes, so see if you can visit in person. Not everyone would be comfortable having a therapy session in that kind of space, especially if you think you’ll have strong emotional reactions.

    12. Brian*

      For the virtual therapy – how about finding a therapist in a different time zone? Just a couple of hours different might be enough to more easily find someone available when you are finished work and back at home.

      1. CC34*

        The problem with this is that therapists are licensed by state and typically can only provide services to people in the state where they’re licensed.

        1. Rectilinear Propagation*

          Yeah. I have to promise I’m currently in my state when doing telemedicine appointments. Even just being out of state temporarily is an issue.

          There really needs to be a legislative/regulatory fix for this. I don’t know how that would work, but it really should be possible to get therapy via telemedicine from someone in a different time zone for this exact reason.

          1. Also Amazing*

            In the US, this fix is coming and it is referred to as PSYPACT. Basically, states are beginning to agree that it makes no sense to say a licensed mental health professional in a different state is less qualified when we all have to have the same training and pass the same tests. I stopped tracking progress closely, so I can’t say how many have signed on, but it’s gaining in popularity and support.

            In addition, some states already have/had licensure reciprocity and some practitioners move and choose to keep their old state’s license active. I personally know three people with licenses in two or more states.

            And then also in COVID, some state boards have made it easier for out-of-state practitioners to get temporary licenses or approval to see clients.

            Source: I am a mental health professional

            1. MissElizaTudor*

              That’s amazing to learn about, thank you! It looks like more than 30 states have enacted it, and more are working on it, which is fantastic. It looks like it only applies to licensed psychologists. Do you know if there’s something similar for other kinds of mental health professionals? My impression is that a lot of therapy is provided by counselors and people with an MSW, not just licensed psychologists.

              1. Adultiest Adult*

                They are working on it for counselors and social workers as well, I believe it’s called the Psychological Compact, but it hasn’t been as widely adopted–only 11 states so far, but a few more are considering it. Unfortunately, none of the huge states like NY, MA, CA are on board yet.

            2. BatManDan*

              Makes sense; nurses have had this sort of reciprocity in most states for years. They call it a “compact license,” presumably because 35+ states made a compact to honor the license in the state of (the nurses’) residence.

          2. MissElizaTudor*

            To be fair, this is a problem caused by certain regulation (e.g., making it illegal to provide therapy without a license, laws about what it takes to be licensed, states not accepting licenses from other states). It’s so frustrating when something that should be about ensuring people get quality care turns into something that makes it harder and more expensive to get care at all.

            Some of the increased cost and making it harder to find a therapist is an inevitable part of regulating it at all, but it doesn’t have to be as limiting as it is, like how only some states have licensure reciprocity. That’s so wild, especially now that we have online therapy. They should all have reciprocity, it’s such a simple thing to make mental health care more available to people.

        2. WS*

          My country (Australia) has been switching from state-based licensing for medical professionals to national licensing, which has become very handy for managing to see people via telehealth during the pandemic. Not that OP is Australian, but if any Aussies are reading this, you can definitely go out of state for therapy or any other registered healthcare professional.

        3. Silly Janet*

          I used Better Help for a spell during the height of the pandemic and it was great. I’m pretty sure it’s nationwide, the cost is reasonable, and they will work with your schedule, which I am sure includes weekends.

          1. to varying degrees*

            BetterHelp was fantastic. I used it earlier this year through EAP at my old job and the therapist was great and very accommodating of my schedule.

          2. to varying degrees*

            I used Better Help while in EAP at my last job. They were great, very accommodating for my schedule when I needed it.

          3. Miss Muffet*

            My health insurance covers Sondermind, which is similar to Better Help — online, and they def have evening appts (bc that’s what my kids need). I do recall the specific virtual platform not being super intuitive to find at first, so LW5 might want to check for this one!

          4. irritable vowel*

            Yes, I was going to suggest that the OP check with their health insurance and/or EAP to see if a virtual service is offered that would accommodate an out-of-business-hours therapy schedule. I work for a health insurance provider as an independent contractor and I know that they, like many, are really ramping up inclusion of these virtual behavioral health services. I think the quality of who you get and the value they provide can vary, but that’s honestly true of traditional face-to-face therapy as well.

          5. OP 5*

            Thanks for this suggestion! Better Help is more expensive than my copay, but less expensive than a “traditional” out-of-network therapist. This is a great fall-back if I can’t find someone in-network.

          6. indigo*

            Not sure if OP has an HSA in addition to insurance, but BetterHelp will take an HSA card. Even without an HSA, the monthly billing structure means you can cancel once you’ve found something else. It might be an option for a month or two while searching for an in network provider – the search for the right mental health provider can take a while.

            The other nice thing about BetterHelp is its ease of use and flexibility; a godsend for people like me who struggle with executive function.

        4. cabbagepants*

          Yes but you can be licensed in a state outside of the one where you reside. I have telehealth through my insurance. I live in NY and my therapist is licensed here, but she lives and works in Georgia.

        5. Hippo*

          I was going to say this too. I know I’ve looked in to better help and had the option to choose people who weren’t even in my country, but I think this also really depends on if you’re expecting them to be wanting to prescribe something. If not, I’d recommend that.
          I’d also second what’s been said in other comments – I’ve found that therapy doesn’t work as well when I’m thinking about what I need to do next. I try to plan my appointments to have at least an hour after to decompress, if it is at all available to you you might be better off taking a half day every other week off for a ‘recurring medical thing’ and get your moneys worth.

    13. municipal government jane*

      This is tough. At the start of the pandemic, a friend of mine switched to phone (rather than video) therapy visits and would often have her appointments while on a walk. This REALLY worked for her, but would be absolutely disastrous for me personally. LW, I am inferring from your letter that you’re more like me than like my friend, and I hope you find a solution. Dropping this idea here in case it would work well for someone who hasn’t thought of it yet.

      1. Katie from Scotland*

        I was coming in to suggest walking while talking, if that’s something you’d be open to trying. Outdoor spaces aren’t necessarily fully private, but because you’re on the move you have less to worry about with someone overhearing the full conversation. It could also work well as something you do right at the end or right before your work day, and then commute outside of that time.

    14. JustSomeone*

      Do you own a car, even if you transit to work? Could you drive in one day every other week just to have that quiet space to sit?

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

      #5 downtown library? Ours has study / tutoring rooms you can book ahead of time. They are surprisingly noise proof (cause library, right?) and usually more available midday (and very busy after school lets out). Plus private and you won’t worry about being overheard (which can impact your conversions even if it’s unlikely you’ll actually be overheard).

    16. raincoaster*

      Try working with an English-speaking therapist abroad. I work weird hours and my coach is in Dublin so our availability usually synchs up well.

        1. Fred*

          oh sure, it won’t be covered by insurance, but depending on where the therapist is located, could be much more affordable. I was seeing a therapist online during the pandemic and partway through moved from one (EU) country to another. Kept seeing the therapist the whole time because I was paying out of pocket, but it was only 80 EUR/session (as opposed to the 250/session I paid for out of pocket therapy in the US).

        2. raincoaster*

          Very possibly. The American insurance system is byzantine when it’s not actively malevolent. I assumed the LW was paying out of pocket.

      1. Kate*

        I do this as well. Mine is in the EU, I am not.

        My insurance just treats it as a “foreign” expense, as though I were on vacation and needed a prescription filled.

    17. Princess Xena*

      So I don’t know how finding in vs out of state therapy works and I don’t know where you are, but is this a case where you could leverage time zones to your advantage? If you’re somewhere like the West Coast you could set a morning appointment with someone on the East coast that’s well within their workday, or vice versa.

      Location dependent obviously but something to consider

      1. Mztery1*

        Therapists are licensed in the state so it has to be someone with a license in the state. But depending on the state some therapists have multiple state licenses especially now that telehealth is so popular.
        In my own experience I have not found that therapists extended their hours much outside of the business day.

      2. MP*

        Possibly helpful advice: Google “PsyPact” and see if your state participates. A clinical psychologist who is authorized to practice under PsyPact can see anyone in a PsyPact state via telehealth provided they are physically located in a participating state. (There were 31 the last time I checked.) This would potentially help with finding someone in a different time zone.

        Possibly less than helpful advice: In this moment, I might think less about the logistics and more about finding the practitioner. Finding a good fit provider is really important, and good providers have limited availability these days.

    18. Eye roll*

      A work-at-home day would be ideal, but what about other, nearby, private spaces? A study room at the library, a co-working space, a shaded park bench, a hotel lobby (which I’ve found surprisingly private in the middle of the day), a nearby lunch spot with a private room you could reserve, etc. There a likely a number of options. I even went to gym once with private rooms – they were intended as private yoga/meditation spaces, but I reserved one several times for a nap between work and a class.

    19. Eric*

      My local library just introduced a private computer room just for this purpose (the explicitly mention therapy and job interviews as the main uses). Any chance there is a public library near your office that might have something?

    20. KKfrog*

      I wonder if the Telehealth could be done via keyboard? I am sure if you explained that you are in a busy space and are not able to talk and asked for some kind of accommodation like working via text they might be able to sort something. I quite often attend sensitive content meetings when i cant find a private space. In those cases – i introduce myself, say I am in a shared space, and that I will be using text/chat – and use headphones/buds.

      1. Salamander*

        Just a comment to use your own device, not the office computer if you try this.
        Therapy should be private and your discussion might be recorded if you use the office network.
        IT professionals can let me know if this is not correct.
        Wishing you good luck

    21. HopeThisHelps*

      To find a provider that fit the schedule I needed as well as took my insurance recently, my doctor’s office hooked me up with a matching service (Quartet). They are supposed to help you find a counselor etc. that fits both your schedule and your insurance. Might be worth a try? I’m not sure if it’s something you can do outside of a referral, but maybe your primary care can refer you there?

      1. Sandra*

        Working at home for part of the day sounds like the best option, another option is seeing if there’s a nearby university with graduate students who need hours to complete their licensure. Grad students can be fantastic and open.

        If you’re picking a therapist be picky. Be clear about the modalities you’re interested in or areas you want to cover and make sure it’s a good fit. Don’t be afraid to switch therapists. Let them know if the modality or focus isn’t working for you. I’ve had two good therapists in a row and a big part of that was being clear about what I wanted with them and other therapists that weren’t a good fit.

    22. anonanonanon*

      I’m commenting as an Aussie, so can’t comment on insurance norms etc, but on the few occasions I’ve had to do Telehealth psychology online (and my colleagues are in the same boat), we will book out a meeting room. Our rooms aren’t soundproofed either, unless they’re exec level rooms, so one coworker left a wireless speaker in the corner that we hook up as a white noise machine. Add some headphones and we’ve been set.

      The meeting room we use is in a high traffic area, but as someone who sits near that room, I think I’ve heard murmurs, but never anything audible. (But i was definitely worried the first time I did it!)

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I am in the US but this is what I do! Headphones and reserve a conference room; we all do. It has worked well. I haven’t gone the white noise route but may now, I do have a blue tooth speaker I can take with me to the room. Great idea; even if no one can hear me I think it would give me better peace of mind in general.

    23. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Asynchronous therapy! Apps like TalkSpace are sometimes covered by insurance, and allowed me to converse with my therapist not just once a week but every day, by responding to their answers when I had time. I could do so by voice, typed message, or by video when our times did match. The amount I typed/spoke was unlimited and actually let me really process what I shared better than just speaking. I would type while on transit or at lunch. They had hours after my work was closed as well. To me the best benefit of all was that I could share issues I was dealing with in the moment to vent them and even though I didn’t get an instant reply it helped. This worked wonderfully while I was traveling in different time zones as well!

    24. Caleb (He/They)*

      Are there any coworking spaces near your office? A lot of coworking spaces have private meeting rooms that you can rent for an hourly rate (near me it’s around $20-30/hour). I know that a paid option probably isn’t ideal, but it could be something to consider if nothing else works out.

    25. Ann Ominous*

      LW5, if you are current or former military/first responder or family, you are eligible for GiveAnHour (free weekly therapy) and they easily work weekends and evenings.

    26. Lemon Curd Nails*

      I think OP #5 would benefit from going through the list of therapists and contacting them individually to see what they can make of this circumstance.

      1) this is THEIR job and it’s unlikely that an experienced provider has NEVER ENOUNTERED THIS BEFORE. Presumably they have advice to offer.
      2) this is THEIR job and they may be able to flex their hours; for example, they probably prefer not to publicly post that they work after hours, because they aren’t intending to make it a regular schedule, but may be interested in flexing hours/location/availability to accommodate you.
      3) you are building up evidence.

      If you have exhausted these avenues, then you have decent evidence that you just cannot attend these appointments virtually. Done. No justification or apology needed.

      Now you can go to your boss and clearly say that you’re going to be having a frequent medical appointment out-of-office, no it cannot be done virtually, and it probably makes sense to look at options like working from home for part of that day or flexing your hours to be early/late at the office. Your boss can even choose the option if you like. The point is that it’s a clear, done deal and you don’t have to spend any more emotional energy trying to “make it work” or adjust all the different parameters of the problem. You’ve had your answers and you’re going to be doing virtual therapy from your home, the end.

    27. AnnieJ*

      I work with a therapist in another state and time zone using the online platform BetterHelp. At first, we did video chats, but now I prefer to write back and forth with her most of the time, which is easier to fit in both our schedules.

    28. GythaOgden*

      It’s a shame that you are struggling to find weekends or evenings. My therapist does virtual appointments at 7pm for meand it improved my access to them no end.

      I have nothing more to add precisely but I’m just expressing sympathy with OP5. Therapy has been life-changing and so I really hope OP5 finds what she’s after.

    29. Biscuits*

      Lw5, this solution might not work for you based on where you live, but the therapist I see virtually is in a different time zone from where I live, and the type of licensing she has allows her to see my as a client even though we live in different provinces (we’re in Canada). Hope this helps with your search!

    30. Well...*

      Have you tried looking for therapists in different time zones? In the US that can buy you up to three extra hours either the begining or end of the day of staggered working hours. If there is a wealth of teleworking therapists, might as well make it work for you.

      1. Pierrot*

        The issue is licensing. Most therapists are licensed in the state where they practice and nowhere else, because you have to sit for exams to get licensed in other states. Insurance will not cover someone who is not licensed in the state where the patient is located. There are exceptions where therapists are licensed in multiple states (like they attended school in CA, got licensed there, then moved to Virginia after a few years but maintained their CA license) but it’s rare.

    31. anxiousGrad*

      I had to do virtual therapy appointments in the middle of the day and I would always just go outside to do it, but within range of the building’s wifi. In one location I had to sit on the steps outside the door, which wasn’t ideal because I would have to stop talking for a moment or speak vaguely if someone walked by, but luckily not that many people are usually going out in the middle of the day. At the other location the wifi was really wide ranging because I was in a medical center, so I was able to sit outside of a building across the street, and then it didn’t matter if someone walked by because they were all strangers. Granted, this worked because I was in warm climates and I got lucky with the rain. But it was a good solution on good weather days.

    32. Justin*

      not ideal but given it’s only once a week csn you eat a very short lunch and then take the appointment outside? won’t work in terrible weather but I’ve done this for telehealth

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Pre-pandemic, I had to do all my therapy appointments (via phone) outside. Not great because there are ALWAYS some kind of mowing/construction noises going on even if people aren’t walking by, but that was what I had to do. It was the best I could get.

    33. hazel*

      LW#5 I have no suggestions that are not mentioned above, but as someone with a chronic mental health condition who has just spent 2 years having 2x/week tele-health therapy appointments from my car in a parking spot on a busy street, I can totally sympathize. May you find an amazing in network provider and a place to “see” them!

    34. Chilipepper Attitude*

      My DIL works for a company that provides mental health online. She works one night a week and on Saturdays. Maybe look for one of the companies rather than an individual?

      I also wonder if there is a nearby coworking space or library with individual study rooms that you can use. The coworking space adds a cost but might be an option.

      And would a white noise machine or something like that make the rooms at work more soundproof?

    35. mreasy*

      Hello OP5, I have a standing weekly therapy appointment at 5 pm, and my work hours are 10-6. When I am in-office that day, I just leave early to accommodate it, and work from home a few hours to make up the therapy and commute time. If you can say you have a standing medical appt, your workplace (if reasonable) should be flexible on this.

    36. Ana*

      I used study rooms at my local library when I had to do this and had no office privacy. Not all libraries have them, but it’s great if they do

    37. Delta Delta*

      Might be worth it to go to management and ask that the nap rooms be soundproofed. Explain that lots of people now do telehealth for lots of reasons (therapy, certain physical health checkups etc), and that people sometimes need to make other confidential calls periodically during the day, and that it would be very helpful to have spaces available to do that now that you’re unable to work from home. It’s possible management hasn’t considered this and may be able/willing to create spaces for everybody’s benefit.

      In the meantime, if you’re able to go outside, that might be a good fix if the weather is okay.

    38. Rebekah*

      #5 Do you have a public library near your work? Often they will have private workspaces available to book for free.

    39. Rebecca Stewart*

      Re #5, my boyfriend has virtual therapy weekly, and he has asked to work at home that day so that he can take his lunch hour to do the therapy. It also means he doesn’t have to mask (emotionally speaking) when he gets out of therapy, since his IT job doesn’t require a lot of personal contact after the morning meeting.

      I usually do the grocery shopping that day since the car hasn’t gone off to work.

    40. toolittletoolate*

      1. Is there a local library nearby that lets you book a small work room? Our library has several small study rooms that you can reserve at no charge.

      2. Is there any space where your executives take private calls? Can you explain that you will have an ongoing telehealth appointment and ask for a private spot to take the call? It’s a little more information than you might feel comfortable sharing, but if you couch it as trying to be efficient and honor your work commitments, it might fly without a lot of questions.

      3. Is there someone that might let you use their car for the appointment?

      Gotta say, this is yet another failing of open office plans. Best of luck to you.

    41. DJ Abbott*

      When I had therapy, all the therapists and evening and Saturday appointments. This was before the pandemic and in-person was the norm.
      The therapist I ended up staying with for five years did evenings and Saturdays. A therapist who doesn’t offer this is not being realistic IMO. Don’t they understand people are still working?
      If you really can’t find a therapist with reasonable hours, maybe one you can see on your lunch hour? Is there a workspace close to your office where you could take the calls? That’s the best I can think of at the moment.
      Good luck!

      1. Adultiest Adult*

        This comment rubbed me the wrong way. Yes, therapists are aware that people work, and I know many therapists (including me) who offer some outside-of-business hours appointments to accommodate that. But therapists can only see one person at a time unless they are running a group, and so those appointments often book quickly and priority is given to existing clients over new ones. Also, I will point out that therapists are PEOPLE too and have their own lives and schedules. Many people would not jump at the idea of starting work at 7AM, or working most nights until 8 or 9–why do you assume therapists are any different? If you’d like changes, we need to push for more parity for mental health appointments to be treated like physical health appointments, so that people have the ability to take time during normal business hours without shame. And we need more therapists, so it would help if we made the process of becoming one less arduous and expensive! Just my 2 cents.

    42. Soda Nym*

      Are flexible hours an option at all? Can you work 8:00-5:30 or 8:30-6 everyday except one day when you leave 2-2.5 hours early (or arrive late)? At best, this could let you have your appointment at home, which is probably the most comfortable for you anyway. Otherwise, it frees your schedule for business hour appointments in one of the spaces suggested by others…

    43. Sooda Nym*

      Are flexible hours an option at all? Can you work 8:00-5:30 or 8:30-6 everyday except one day when you leave 2-2.5 hours early (or arrive late)? At best, this could let you have your appointment at home, which is probably the most comfortable for you anyway. Otherwise, it frees your schedule for business hour appointments in one of the spaces suggested by others…

    44. Linda Evangelista*

      Do you have a library or something similar nearby with private study rooms? When I was in-office in a city I used to take virtual interviews at the library some blocks away. Not sure your location, but the ones I used were free to reserve.

    45. Gnome*

      sorry if someone already said this (I’m having tech issues today)… but it’s worth suggesting to management that it would nice/helpful if there was a space to take private calls. For that matter, there should be places to have private work conversations too.

      It’s not just therapy that this impacts, but anyone handling legal things, kids with medical issues, getting bad news during the work day, or what have you. taking one of the two nap rooms and making it more soundproof would probably be supported by coworkers as well (because who wants to take a call from their doctor about their lab results from an open floor space?). this could range from a white noise machine, to closing gaps under doors, to a few wall tapestries, to actual sound-proofing on the walls The point is to keep sounds from going out. it would probably also enhance it as a nap room (why doesn’t my office have a nap room?)

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Fun memory: having to get the results of my fetal MRI in a glass walled conference room. It was actually good news, but I still sobbed when I got the results. We were actually being asked to provide feedback on how the glass conference rooms worked, and I specifically shared that experience…and now all our buildings have glass walled conference rooms.

    46. HomerJaySimpson*

      Do you have an understanding boss who might be willing to let you use their office? If you frame it as a time management thing, ie “A virtual appointment for my health concerns takes one third of the time that an in person appointment would” maybe they’d work with you?
      Or could you ask a coworker to sit in their car? Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re not going anywhere, you’re just sitting, maybe a kind coworker would let you?

    47. Johanna*

      I would reach out to HR or management and ask if there is any other space in the building that could be converted to a room that all employees can use. I’m sure you are not the only person in the company who has the same issues trying to schedule a telehealth visit with a doctor or a conference call with a teacher. Present the problem and a proposed solution. Maybe there is an unassigned office or even a storage room that could be converted. At a minimum, they can provide some sound proofing for one of the nap rooms. Good luck and good job making your mental health a priority!

    48. LondonLady*

      Some hotels offer cheaper rates for ‘day use’ of bedrooms (useful for getting changed for big events and/or finding somewhere to work in between same-day legs of long work journeys) so depending on your budget could that be an option?

      Some libraries and community centres offer inexpensive meeting room hire. You don’t have to disclose it is for therapy, you could be doing an online course or job or research interviews.

      Otherwise could you perhaps find an in person therapist based near your work and book the appointments at the end of the working day, then travel home afterwards?

      Good luck with the therapy.

    49. hiptobesquared*

      I do therapy on my lunch break quite often – make sure you have a headset. If you’re worried about people being able to hear you, play white noise on your phone.

      Additionally, you could team up with a friend/play an audio book and test out the sound!

    50. JSPA*

      If it’s the cold season:

      is there a coffeeshop (or lunch place) that you frequent, with an outdoor space that they don’t use from November through March? They might be willing to let you use it for your call, for the price of a nice tip, and you bussing your own table.

    51. addiez*

      I feel like this would be a great use of your EAP – they should be able to help you find a therapist and should understand the constrictions you’re facing.

      1. Sean*

        Seconded. My EAP did all the calling for me and found a therapist who was doing in person visits and could accommodate my schedule – it was such a load off to not have to do the legwork. This is exactly why EAPs are there, so give them a shot as well if you’re not already established.

        Once you get established, I agree with the commenters who said to try and work from home on those days, or at least part of those days. Even if you manage to get your therapy in during the work day, I have found that I need a little decompression time after a session, and if it’s an upsetting one I don’t particularly want to have to go back to my desk after that.

        Good luck!!

      2. OP 5*

        I’m a bit furious with my EAP right now — I tried to use the EAP (which is separate from my insurance) for this exact purpose, but they were only able to get me 6 free sessions with an EAP counselor who is out-of-network with my insurance. I’ve done 1 short intake session with her (which, of course, counts towards the 6 free sessions) and she’s perfectly nice, but am now looking down the barrel of either coughing up out-of-network costs to keep seeing her after the other 5 sessions, or starting from scratch to find someone in network. I am grateful that I at least have this benefit, of the six realistically, five, completely free sessions, but it doesn’t help long-term.

    52. Rapunzel Ryder*

      If you decide to stick with Telehealth, is there a public library convenient to you that offers “study spaces”? Our local public library allows people to reserve/”check out” small rooms for like an hour or two. Even if the room was less than soundproof, anyone who heard would be someone you would be unlikely to see again or know personally. Or using like a headset could reduce sound even further. Even if they do not normally take reservations, I am sure if you explained, they could hold a space for you.

    53. Sylvan*

      Does your workplace have private meeting rooms that are fairly soundproof? You could ask to use one of those for a personal appointment. I’ve done that when the weather was too bad to go out to my car.

      Could you walk to a park or a private, quiet area where you’re not likely to run into any coworkers? I’ve also done this. Therapy in the park is actually pretty nice, but you do want to be away from people.

      1. Sylvan*

        Also, could your portal/app/whatever allow you to type instead of talking? Using headphones and typing would solve most of the problem (talking about very personal things where you may be overheard).

    54. Annika Hansen*

      This is totally location-dependent, but can you take a walk outside? It’s not totally private, but most people would just ignore you. That would also depend on what you are talking about, too. My former classmate is a therapist. She does walking sessions with her clients where the therapy session is done walking through the park.

    55. WantonSeedStitch*

      LW #5, how much leeway does your workplace give you for medical stuff? Where I work, it wouldn’t be a problem at all to say “I am going to have a standing weekly/biweekly medical appointment. It’s nothing serious–no need to worry–but I want to make sure I pick a day/time that would be convenient. Would it be better for me to come in late one day a week, or leave early?” In my office, it wouldn’t be necessary to make up the time unless you really needed to in order to get your work done, though you should offer to make it up at another time if that’s something that’s needed in your workplace.

    56. Alex (they/them)*

      I don’t have specific advice other than please don’t schedule therapy before/during the workday. you do not want to have to deal with work after a rough session, trust me.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Hahahaah, I have to because mine are during lunch. It does suck. But you have to go with what they have available, in my experience.

    57. 15 Pieces of Flair*

      LW5 – Do you happen to work near a library? If so, inquire whether you could reserve or reliably expect access to a study pod or other small private space where you could take your therapy appointment.

    58. Just Another Techie*

      I was in this situation at my last job! I solved it by confiding in a friendly peer who I knew would be sympathetic, and he let me use his car for my teletherapy sessions. I know that won’t work for everyone and is highly dependent on your relationships, but it’s worth thinking if there’s anyone you’re friendly with who would be trustworthy on the subject of mental health care

    59. Veruca*

      If there’s a university, theater or a music store near you, music practice rooms are soundproof and usually available to rent.

    60. Llama*

      Schedule regular therapy outside of working hours. Full stop on trying to do it during your work day. Therapists have been scheduling patients evenings and weekends for at least 40 years.

    61. Loulou*

      I’m surprised nobody has mentioned trying to find a therapist who offers in-person sessions! It doesn’t sound like OP actually wants to do virtual therapy, they just feel like they have to because so many providers have gone virtual. But I do personally know people who see their therapists in-person, so they exist!

    62. Anna*

      In my experience, a box fan near the door actually blocks out a lot of sound, and might make one of the nap rooms feasible during the work day?

    63. animaniactoo*

      If you can talk relatively quietly and don’t expect the appointments to throw you (meaning crying, emotional imbalance and an inability to focus on normal work stuff afterwards), look for a quiet coffee shop or restaurant in your area where you can go take 45-an hour lunch and do your appointment there.

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

      Is there a library near your office that you could see if they have like a private study room type of thing? Or maybe talk with therapists that are close to your work and see if they do in person on a case by case basis. I think this is going to be more common.

    65. pomme de terre*

      In a similar situation, I asked my boss for flexibility to accommodate a recurring appointment related to managing a chronic medical condition. I didn’t say exactly what the illness or the treatment was (I think I described it as serious but manageable), and she didn’t ask. I came in late and then stayed late 1-2 days per week for several months. It was fine.

    66. SongbirdT*

      I used Better Help for a while because they had a chat option for appointments. In peak pandemic when we were all at home, I didn’t feel comfortable with talking about the minor frustrations with my spouse and teenager where they might overhear if they walked by my bedroom door at just the wrong moment. I just needed a space to vent sometimes so a chat session on Better Help was perfect for that. Granted, my therapy sessions weren’t intensive so it may not be as effective for you, but it may be worth looking into as an option.

    67. Vegas*

      OP should check what their insurance offers for telehealth. My insurance isn’t great, but they offer therapy through Teladoc and you can choose from hundreds of providers, so it’s pretty easy to find a good time outside of work hours. It’s free, not subject to the deductible or copay.

    68. Software engineer*

      Does your office not have any conference or meeting rooms you can book? There’s many reasons people need to have private conversations at work, seems like there should be something! It feels weird to book a work room for a non work thing but it’s probably fine unless you have an office where meeting rooms are in high demand and you’re denying a work meeting a space

    69. Psychologist in CA*

      OP, I wish you the very best in finding a good therapist and working out the logistics. There are many good recommendations here already
      Just wanted to suggest you speak with the therapist during the initial consultation regarding where you do end up arranging your space. Some therapists (such as myself) can not work with patients in public spaces (such as walking outside or a bench in a park) due to state licensing laws, agency rules, or other ethical considerations.

    70. ThatGirl*

      This will obviously vary by area but my husband has been seeing his awesome therapist for years, she takes insurance, and his standing appointment is at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

      Point being, many therapists totally understand that people work during the day and many, many offices have evening and weekend hours. Maybe you can find someone near the office that you can get to easily before taking the train home. If you have an EAP, they may be able to help you find that unicorn who fits all your criteria and takes your insurance.

    71. Psychologist in CA*

      OP, I wish you the very best in finding a good therapist and working out the logistics. There are many good recommendations here already.
      Just wanted to suggest you speak with the therapist during the initial consultation regarding where you do end up arranging your space. Some therapists (such as myself) can not work with patients in public spaces (such as walking outside or a bench in a park) due to state licensing laws, agency rules, or other ethical considerations.

    72. Lauren*

      take a walk with your phone for the appointment. Find a spot outside while the weather is reasonable then go to a library with reserved rooms if you can. I’ve taken these appointments in stairwells, garages, parks, literally walking with a baby while I left the other baby and dad in the pub.

    73. CRM*

      Definitely second all of the recommendations for finding a public library. In my experience they tend to be fairly empty during the week, so it’s easy to find a study room or a private corner. Make sure to invest in a good quality pair of headphones, even better if they have a microphone. Good luck!

    74. JoeyJoeJoe*

      If the above options don’t work (I think the library one is a great one!) and you are in a tall building with an elevator, I have used the stairwell for personal calls. It’s not ideal but it works. We have two stairwells and I only get reception in one (but that’s enough).

      1. nnn*

        If you do this, test the acoustics first. The stairwells in my office building are amplifying echo chambers :/

    75. Darla*

      How good is your relationship with your manager? I have an employee that needs accommodations for tele-visits with their therapist occasionally during the day. I located a private space for them in the building and they use their lunch break.

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

      If you are allowed to use the nap rooms for this purpose, but the problem is the soundproofing, would your employer allow you to bring in a white noise machine? I’ve seen them used effectively at my old therapist’s office space, which was a cheaply-renovated old house where otherwise people in the hall/next room could definitely have heard everything.

    77. Mellynn the Conqueror*

      In the last year, I’ve had four therapists. It was kind of like trial and error. I finally found a great therapist through Psychology Today. You can look for therapists by location, gender, insurance, issue, etc.

      My sessions are virtual and my therapist does evening and weekend appointments, so I don’t have to take time off work . Finding a therapist can be a daunting task, but don’t give up. The right one is out there.

    78. Not Mindy*

      LW5: You have gotten some great advice here for possible workarounds. I truly hope that at least one of these helps!
      I have two more pieces of advice:
      1) Please balance the logistical part with the fit of the therapist for you and your needs. Depending on the situation it might be that no therapist is better than a bad fit of a therapist.
      2) If the part you aren’t able to resolve has to do with your insurance, please make use of the appeals process. The initial decision on paying/denying a claim is made by a computer. The appeals process typically means that the claim is seen by a human being. Based on my experience as a former employee of a health insurance company, most employees who directly work with members truly want to help the members. We want people to get the help they need and we want members to get the most out of their benefits.

      Best of luck to you. I can empathize – it’s so frustrating when getting help feels more stressful than it’s worth!

    79. Thegreatpunkin*

      I just take a walk with my headphones. If you’re going to have a screaming or crying session, that won’t work, but if you’re just talking nobody’s really listening if you’re on the move.

    80. Pdweasel*

      OP, is there a public space near your office, such as a park or a shopping area, where you could have an appointment in semi-privacy/anonymity with a phone/tablet and headphones? Or even a path or other area where you could walk & talk on the phone? Those might be options.

    81. Alyssa*

      Does Zipcar exist near your office? One idea is to try a Zipcar membership but treat it as more of a “private space” rental than a car rental. You could reserve one near the office for the therapy hour and sit in it, without actually driving it anywhere.

    82. PleaseNo*

      #5 — Betterhelp could be an option as you pay a low monthly rate and have roughly 1 appointment a week as well as being able to message them otherwise. Therapists there can flex their schedule and may be able to see you early/late during the week and even on Saturdays.
      Otherwise, see if there’s a conference room you can reserve for an hour when you need to. Or if there’s a trusted friend in the office who does drive to work you can ask to use their vehicle. Or if you have a hands free set for your phone you could go for a walk in a park if you can do an audio meeting.

    83. Jessica Fletcher*

      OP, you don’t mention if you have any virtual work options. Could you ask to work from home one day per week, or biweekly? You could say, “I have a recurring medical appointment, and I’m trying to avoid interrupting the middle of the day with commute time.” Depending on your work, this might be possible!

      WFH might be best, if it’s possible, because you might feel upset by some of your therapy discussion and not want to have anyone ask about it.

      Or, perhaps you could ask if there’s a more sound proof room that could be used for telehealth appointments.

      Also want to add that while some therapists don’t take insurance, many do. I hope you aren’t put off by the first comment being pretty discouraging. You deserve help. Your PCP or your EAP may be able to help find someone. Lots of/most? insurance companies have online, searchable provider directories, too.

    84. Hot Mess Express*

      I have tons of sympathy for OP5, accessing therapy can be such a headache. There are truly so many access problems with mental health services.

      I just came to say one thing, which is that I highly recommend not setting up therapy in a way that doesn’t require OP5 to be back in the office/at work right after. No matter where the appointment ends up taking place (library, walk, work from home, in-person…), try to put it at the end of your workday.

      This is based on my experience going to therapy on my lunchbreak in an earlier job I had. At first I thought this wouldn’t be a problem because I was consulting for what I thought was a “light” personal problem. It ended up being WAY more intense than I thought, and I frequently had to hide in the bathroom until I stopped crying before going back to my desk. Even when I didn’t cry it felt really rough to have to go to meetings and pretend everything was peachy when I was experiencing the emotional aftermath of therapy.

      My experience is no doubt not universal, but I know there are others like there like me and I think it’s worth factoring the emotional toll therapy takes in the logistics reflexion.

    85. Veryanon*

      A lot of therapists will schedule evening and weekend appointments for exactly the reasons the OP stated, but there’s usually a waiting list for them. Is it possible for OP to work from home on the days when they have therapy appointments? They could just tell their manager that they have an ongoing medical situation, nothing to be concerned about, but on those days they need to work from home. Hopefully the manager would be accommodating.

    86. Didi*

      I also occasionally do telehealth therapy at work. I’ve had some success with headphones and speaking a bit softly. A pair of good quality head phones allow me to speak a bit softly without being heard in our non-soundproof telephone rooms.

    87. Tried It All*

      Chiming in with my experience here and some context in response to a few comments. I have been required to be back in the office for the last year in a common working space with no privacy and working around virtual therapy appointments in the middle of the day (lunch time) in a major metropolitan area as a public transit user. I have tried a few different scenarios, and this is what has worked best for me.

      – I began doing therapy appointments from a private room at the office during my lunch break. This was fine when I was working on a few lighter topics with my therapist, but definitely still felt like I was in work mode because I was in the building, and I didn’t feel like I was getting the most out of my appointments. I also had to reserve a room to be able to do this, and people would ask me why I reserved the room and it was on public calendars, and it made me feel really uncomfortable answering these questions. I wouldn’t suggest if you can get around it.

      – I tried going home during the middle of the day for my appointments (2-3 hours off in the middle of the day) for a while and made up the hours I was missing on other days. This was fine, except that transport to and from the office was really difficult on some days and I ended up actually getting injured in an accident on one of my rides back to my house, so I stopped doing this. It made me stressed out at the beginning of my appointments and I felt that I wasn’t able to get on task at for a while then and was wasting time with the therapist. Also would not recommend.

      – I ended up asking for an accommodation from my boss to work from home on Tuesdays due to “regular medical appointments that leave me drained” and have been able to do so for the last few months, except on days when I know work will be crazy when I postpone or cancel appointments ahead of time. This has been the best for me, because I can take the one hour for my appointment, and then finish out the work day with a late lunch and easy/mindless tasks that I set aside for Tuesday afternoons. I put myself as busy on my calendar and Slack during my appointment, and people generally respect that. I haven’t had to run the accommodation up the ladder as I generally have a good relationship with my boss, but would be comfortable with going to HR if I have to in the future because I am at the point where I am prioritizing my health. If you have enough collateral and feel comfortable with asking for an accommodation, I would recommend this the most.

      A few comments on other people’s suggestions:
      TBH-I know that some people are saying that they use PPOs and out-of-network benefits, but my job doesn’t offer any health plans with out of network coverage, so this is not an option for me. I haven’t been able to find another therapist who takes my insurance, has availability in their schedule, and uses the specific technique for my specific diagnosis, so I’m kind of stuck with this person/time slot. I like my therapist, but adding this information to preempt any commenters who say to find someone new. It’s not that easy, especially depending on where you are, so if you find someone that you have a good relationship with and takes your insurance, I’d say jump on it regardless of the time.

      Also commenting on the walking in the park thing: Where I am located, and according to the virtual therapists that I have had, I am required to be at a specific location, and they are required to have the address in case something happens on the video call and they have to call paramedics/EMTs to come assist me, so my therapists have not been able to give me services when I am in a public location (e.g. park, walking, etc.). I don’t know if this is a state specific thing, but can definitely be a barrier that should be mentioned.

      Finally, I think that the suggestion for getting a later appointment or early appointment even during working hours is great if you can get one, but if you need to do something smack in the middle of the day, I hope you will be able to prioritize your mental health and take the appointment! Best of Luck!!

    88. AnxiousLibrarian*

      I know that the nap rooms aren’t soundproofed, but would you feel comfortable with headphones and some sort of white noise machine/fan? In a pinch, I’ve had therapy appointments from my very poorly soundproofed office, and these tactics helped me feel more comfortable.

    89. Goddess47*

      I haven’t checked the suggestions above but if you’re in a city area, you might want to see if there’s a ‘coworking’ space nearby. That is, a space where folk can essentially rent a desk and computer access for a fee; mostly to run a business but the folk who run it shouldn’t really care what you actually do.

      It would cost you more, on top of your copay, but they often have spaces for meetings (office space or meeting rooms) that you can reserve. You can take lunch/break time (or even go off the clock for a couple of hours — leave yourself some recovery time) from your job but it won’t be the same as having to go all the way home.

      Good luck!

    90. Spero*

      If you have a local library branch, see if you can reserve a private room there – they often have private meeting or study rooms available to be booked by library members

    91. I'm in HR, that's why I'm so fun.*

      What about asking for a reasonable accommodation? Maybe there is a workspace that could be made available that you’re not currently aware of, or maybe they’d agree to let you work from home on days/half days that you have appointments.

    92. LovelyTresses*

      OP5: Do you have any close(ish) friends at work who do drive their car to the office? If so, you could ask if you could borrow their car to take virtual appointments in. I can imagine it could be an uncomfortable convo to both disclose you’re going to therapy AND asking to borrow a car with just a regular colleague, but a close friend probably wouldn’t bat an eyelash. I know if any of my colleagues asked me to if they could sit in my car to do therapy for an hour, I’d say SURE! If that’s not feasible, are there any public libraries near you? They often have private “study” rooms that you just reserve a slot for that you could use. Otherwise, taking a walk with some good headphones while you do your therapy is an option — getting some fresh air and your body moving while you have therapy could be nice.

    93. Nom*

      LW5 – It sounds like you may have thought of this but in case you hadn’t – is it possible that you can ask to work from home one day a week due to a recurring medical appointment? They may make an exception for that even if they’re not allowing anyone else to work from home.

    94. Mid*

      I know this has been said, but asking to come in late/leave early is what has worked best for me. I come in late every Friday for my therapy appointment, and either skip my lunch or stay late to make up the time (if needed.) I don’t have to take PTO for it. I do the first session my doctor has in the morning, so my session ends about 30 minutes into my work start time. I’ve found I can’t ever feel comfortable doing a session in the office, even if I know no one is there to overhear me. Also look into the PSYPACT, as you might be able to find someone out of state that works better with your schedule.

      The current PSYPACT list is:
      District of Columbia
      New Hampshire
      New Jersey
      North Carolina
      West Virginia

      And 6 other states are in some stage of enacting legislation to join (Connecticut, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York.)

    95. Megabeth*

      I’ve been fortunate enough to find a therapist who not only does virtual appointments, but also accommodates the schedules of folks in a 9-5-ish situation. I’ve also noticed that services like BetterHelp.com can connect you with therapists who will do appointments for 6pm, 6:30pm, etc. Any chance you could stay late at work for an appointment, so you’d have the office to yourself?

    96. Dawn*

      Now, I’m in Canada so YMMV but I had several coworkers with standing virtual therapy appointments who just let our manager know that they had a standing virtual medical appointment for a half hour (or whatever) once a week during the day that unfortunately couldn’t be moved to outside of business hours, and could that be accommodated in their schedule and with a quiet, private place to take it?

      It was never a problem. They just stepped away from work briefly and made it up elsewhere if it was needed.

    97. Ollie*

      I once took an interview for the best job I ever had sitting on a curb outside the office building where I was working. My job at the time was requiring me to travel leaving Monday morning and coming back Friday evening. The only person who interupted me was the groundskeeper who told me they were about to turn the sprinklers on where I was sitting. I moved to another curb.

    98. apj*

      If your mobility and weather allow, take your therapy appointment on a walk. I’ve done this and I found that a phone-only walk & chat felt very natural. (You may just have to find a park bench or something for an initial video visit. I realize that passers-by may hear, but I assume they don’t care enough to really eavesdrop.)

    99. WheresMyPen*

      I have no experience with therapy and am also in the UK so am not familiar with insurance, so apologies if this is off the mark, but I keep seeing apps like Better Help being advertised, and as they’re completely virtual I’d imagine there’d be therapists available all over the country and surely some would do evenings or weekends? Say if you’re East Coast US but find a therapist in pacific time, maybe that could work with the time difference?

    100. AlmostRetired*

      For the timing issue I would suggest a therapist who is in a different time zone than you are. You should be able to find one at least 2 hours ahead or behind you which would allow you to it before or after your work hours, but still within normal hours for the therapist.

    101. Adrian*

      OP 5: No advice, just a tale from my experience.

      I decided to enlist a personal coach, who I knew because she’d previously worked in my field. We had our initial call during my lunch hour, and she asked me not to do it from my office. (Though we actually had pretty good private rooms for calls.)

      I figured on calling from the lobby of the office building across from mine. It was big enough that while I’d be out in the open, there was space to have relative privacy.

      Of course, that day the building held a lunchtime concert in their lobby. Which was something they didn’t do often.

    102. Eyes Kiwami*

      In my area train stations and similar places are starting to establish tiny phone booths for working commuters. There’s a reservation system, they’re soundproof with a little desk and some outlets. You could see if there is something similar in your area, they’re also great for taking interview calls!

    103. Weekly Therapy Enjoyer*

      I used to take a half virtual day (sign in at 9, work til 11, therapy from 11-12 and the Uber to work) to accommodate my in-person therapy appointments. Now I take therapy in my car which isn’t an option for you. But one solution could be asking permission to work from home for part of your day and then commute in. I always treated myself to a rideshare to work on those days to cut down my normally 1 hour commute.

    104. AceyAceyAcey*

      I know someone who does their telehealth therapy as a phone call and goes for a walk outside during it. Phone so they don’t need the extra data plan of video, and while walking they can change routes if there are people around. If you can take an hour lunch break, this could be a good choice.

      Another option, is there a public library nearby with study or conference rooms you can reserve? Or a coworking space you could reserve an office in? These sorts of spaces might not be perfectly soundproofed, but at least it would only be strangers and not people you work with.

    105. H*

      My husband does virtual appts with his doc during the weekday and in nice weather, will take a walk while doing his session. For him, it’s worked well as a way to get out and move a bit, while also giving him the privacy for his call. If the weather doesn’t allow, he’ll use a conference room (which doesn’t sound like an option for you), so perhaps you could find a nearby location that provides more privacy. Are there any hotels nearby – you could use a quiet corner of their lobby, or often they have unused rooms or conference floors you could leverage. My husband has also taken a few calls in his car (while parked). You could even drive briefly off-site to take the call in a different parking lot if that felt better.

    106. Eagle*

      To me the obvious answer is to get a therapist in a different time zone. If you live on the east coast, a west coast doctor would be ideal to your after work needs. With good insurance, it is likely a coast to coast plan.

    107. ElleKay*

      My go-to is always to check the library! If there’s a nearby library, check and see if they have a meeting room or something similar that can be reserved. If the library is close you might be able to duck over there for your session without missing such a big chunk of your day.

      (No this isn’t an ideal solution, it might not work long-term, but it might be something to start with)

    108. ElleKay*

      And/or: look and see if you can find someone who’s physically in a different timezone! If you’re 2-3 hours ahead of them you might be able to get a 4pm appointment for them that’s 6 or 7pm for you (or vice versa)
      This is complicated with insurance but I have a connection who’s therapist has a 5 hour time difference and it works perfectly for them!

    109. Long Time Lurker, First Time Poster*

      OP, I know your first preference is to find an in-network therapist, but if there is a university near you that has an MFT program (or similar), they may offer a sliding scale clinic that takes in members of the community on evenings and weekends. The therapist you get might be a graduate student in training, or the professors might also offer services (at a higher price point). My ex did this for a long time and got care that was really helpful for him, on a limited budget and a schedule that worked for him.

      Best of luck to you finding a therapist—I know how hard that is and was compelled to post for the first time in hopes that this might help.

  1. Casper Lives*

    #3 The issue of being called by a nickname when you prefer your full name (or vice versa) comes up a surprising amount on this blog! Coworkers do this for lots of reasons. From knowing you by your nickname for so long their brain isn’t making the leap. To calling everyone named “Catherine” by the nickname “Kathy” even though many Catherines have another preferred nickname. To, yes, transphobia, racism, etc.

    From other letters, whether it changes depends on how much capital you have to push back and whether management will support you. I hope your coworkers stop being rude soon!

    1. Raven*

      I think in this instance it’s a case where OP#3 needs to be more direct. Saying “I prefer Josiah in a professional context.” doesn’t really target the issue at hand as it’s a bit vague (especially if you have a more casual work environment).
      Naming the problem and solution (“Can you please stop calling me Jo, I actually go by Josiah now.” followed by “Not Jo, Josiah.” every subsequent time) should be more effective in getting people to change and doesn’t spend much capital.
      Also, saying the name you want to be called by last, as people tend to naturally grab onto the first and last parts of what you say, would me more effective than hiding it in the middle of the sentence as in OP#3 current correction.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah that was super vague. It sounds more like “I want my formal name written out in full on the website”, not “never, ever call me Jo”. Its also not for professional reasons that OP wants this! He wants this to prevent his hackles being raised. The message he wants is more of a face pull, an “Ugh, never Jo please, it’s Josiah – please spread the word, I don’t know how that caught on!” Also being okay with a few corrections if it’s forgotten “Josiah, remember”. It’s reasonable to do this! It’s a lot less reasonable if you let it go and get everyone is wondering why “Jo” is so twitchy when they’re all such good, informal friends. In their minds it’s probably also “Joe” since it’s OP who considered it their gender neutral name and had that association.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Yeah, I could see people interpreting “I prefer Josiah in a professional context,” as meaning “I am happy with Jo, but worry it sounds a bit casual around clients, so please introduce me to them as Josiah/refer to me as Josiah on the company website/in company correspondence, but it’s fine to call me Jo when it’s just us.”

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Yeah, that is exactly my preference with my nickname, so I can see some confusion happening.

          2. ferrina*

            Exactly. I’m usually really good about preferred names, but I wouldn’t hear this as “always call me Josiah”. I wouldn’t have known what LW wanted!

          3. Smithy*

            Yeah – I think that while there may be other issues at play – this is such a common workplace dynamic that some people may genuinely be interpreting the request incorrectly.

            I have a double-barreled surname, and have found that without ever asking, there will be people who will begin calling me by my initials. So Smithy John-Doe becomes SJD. It in no way bothers me, and I will default to using my initials to refer to myself on internal documents as shorthand. However recently a former co-coworker of mine – we both got new jobs at new employers and ended up having a meeting through our new roles. At the beginning of the meeting, she called me SJD and was immediately mortified and apologetic for being overly informal in what was now a new/external professional context.

            Ultimately none of this was a big deal, given that as nicknames go – none of this was NSFW or overly juvenile. But just to say, that a lot of people may sensibly hear “SJD is fine for internal meetings, but it’s always Smithy in external facing professional forums.” And therefore because that is the correct read of that situation, be applying that interpretation to the Jo/Josiah situation.

        2. Raven*

          Yep, that’s the impression I got from it. It should be obvious to their coworkers from context, but sometimes you have to spell things out for it to really sink in.
          Recruiting some closer coworkers to help them out is a good idea. Also it’s worth double-checking whether “Jo” is still appearing anywhere that may be confusing people (written rota, work chat etc.).
          I mean I’d be tempted to get a personalised pencil case or something with Josiah on as well to subtly drive the point home (only really useful if you like that sort of thing, but every little helps).

        3. Lab Boss*

          My first thought too. I go by a nickname of my middle name, everyone knows me as “Fred” and my company email address and login info are all “Fred,” but for all official publications I’ve always used “J. Frederick” instead.

          OP is correct that anything that happens at work is in a professional context but I think a lot of people hear that phrase as “in a formal/legal professional context.”

      2. Observer*

        Naming the problem and solution (“Can you please stop calling me Jo, I actually go by Josiah now.” followed by “Not Jo, Josiah.” every subsequent time) should be more effective in getting people to change and doesn’t spend much capital.

        What I really like about this advice is that it works regardless of the reason people are doing this. That’s less stress for the OP. And also if someone starts huffing about “Why are you accusing me of being rude / forgetful / transphobic / anything else?” The OP has a perfect response “I’m not accusing you of anything. I’m simply pointing out that you are using the wrong name. No reasons implied.” And then stick to that line. Because it’s really true.

        Hopefully, people won’t be that rude. And this approach does reduce the chances of pushback because it is neutral and non-accusatory.

        1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

          But some probably will be, and that’s on them not you. When I asked a cousin not to call me by a childhood nickname that I haven’t used in 40 years, you would have thought the world ended. But that’s on her, not on me.

          1. Observer*

            Yes to all of this.

            But that’s also why I said “reduce” rather than eliminate. Because people can be very, very strange.

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              Yep. Once someone decides what your name is, they do NOT want to change it.

              A former new-ish coworker called me by a name that’s similar but not related to my actual name. Think ‘Shirley’ instead of ‘Cheryl.’ When I said, ‘I’m Cheryl, actually, not Shirley,’ they acted as if I’d insulted them.

      3. lilyp*

        I suspect OP might feel like it would be dishonest to say that he doesn’t go by Jo anymore, full stop, since it sounds like he’s still OK with friends/family using that name. But I think in this case it would be better to go for clarity over absolute correct truthfulness and just say that you’ve stopped using Jo entirely and don’t want to be called that anymore.

    2. coffee*

      Yes, it can be very hard to get people to stop using a nickname! Is it transphobic – maybe, maybe not. It is a problem cis people have, but of course names can be a minefield for trans people.

      My suggestion for you: I would, for my own peace of mind at least, assume that it’s the common “Oh but calling them by the nickname is the same as calling them by their full name” train of thought going on. Mostly because I think that framing will make it easier on you to hear it and then to correct it. A nickname can be a way of being friendly, and you’re just providing information to them on how to be friendly in a better way. Start with a friendly correction and get more blunt over time.

      I do wish you good luck. It can be so hard to get people to stop with a nickname. You’ll probably also get people who spontaneously shorten it to a nickname and it will be an ongoing battle. (People do the reverse too… I had a coworker, who I will call Liz, and people would write “Dear Elizabeth”. It drove her up the wall as 1. she only went by her nickname Liz, which 2. was actually short for a completely different name!)

      1. pandop*

        It’s not impossible though. I have a colleague, lets call her Susannah, whom for years was referred to as ‘Susie’ at work, even though she always used her full name in emails etc.

        When she transferred to our team, from the one she had been in for years, our team leader asked how she preferred to be called. Susannah. So we changed. For some of us who’d used ‘Susie’ for years we had a period of ‘SusisorrySusannah’, but we learnt.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          PSA: when people use “Susannah” when they introduce themselves, sign emails, etc, call them Susannah.

          1. Waiting on the bus*

            Ohhh, this really touches a nerve for me.

            There is currently a kerfuffle in the company because one guy claimed I dislike him because I don’t use his nickname. He signs his emails with his full name, his introductory chat message to me he signed with his full name and in person he was introduced to me by his full name. But according to my manager(!) he claims I don’t like him because I don’t use his full name. Seven months he’s been with the company and the first time I’m hearing any of this is in a one-on-one with my manager because his manager talked to my manager to “clear the air”.

            Dude! At least sign your internal emails with your nickname if that’s what you want your colleagues to use!

            I use his nickname now but I’m doing it with a great deal of resentment, NGL. I’m so mad about all of this.

          2. pandop*

            I was happy to, but she’s been here longer than me, and had been called ‘Susie’ for all that time.
            We shifted it as soon as she came on to our team.

        2. Trotwood*

          I think you also have to be REALLY clear that you’re trying to go by Susannah and not Susie, Josiah and not Jo, etc. I have a coworker (cis man) who after years of being known to everyone as “Phil” started introducing himself to new people as “Philip,” leaving everyone who’s known him for years wondering whether we should start referring to him as “Philip” too. If he ever explicitly said “I only want to be called Philip from now on”, we’d probably all try to make the switch, but he’s never been that clear about it. Somehow it feels weird to switch to using a more formal version of his name when I’ve used a nickname for him for years. Anyway, nicknames are weird and it’s hard to get people to change what people call you, so you’ll just have to be really persistent.

          1. tamarack and fireweed*

            “Quick question! We’ve all be calling you Phil for years, but it occurred that you are introducing yourself with your full name form, as Philip. Is it Phil or Philip?”

        3. Observer*

          It’s not impossible though ~~~snip~~~ So we changed. For some of us who’d used ‘Susie’ for years we had a period of ‘SusisorrySusannah’, but we learnt.

          Sure. It’s possible, and people SHOULD make the effort. But as you can see – people just often don’t. From what you say, in this case it seems to have been inertia with an unknown starting point, that caused her to be called something she did not prefer.

          But, I would say that your story should give hope to the OP – people CAN learn, but you do have to be clear and unambiguous about your name.

          1. ferrina*

            It can also be that they don’t know what you want to be called. Especially if you’ve historically gone by Jo and haven’t told them to call you Josiah (except in a “professional” context, which is pretty confusing- do you mean on formal documents, or any time we’re in the office but not happy hour, or just….always?). Very, very few people will have the presence of mind to ask you to clarify that.

            So tell them.

          2. Smithy*

            I grew up with an Aunt “Susie” who after her parents and my father (her brother) passed away, she then told me she preferred Susannah. So now I’m going through my own SusiesorrySusannah period.

            All to say, even in a cis context, there’s been something very moving about my aunt feeling she didn’t feel ready or able to make that correction with her nieces/nephews until certain family members were no longer around as she either didn’t trust them or didn’t want to make them feel badly. And then I feel even more awkward during my SusiesorrySusannah mistakes.

            The cis context does have the privilege of not fearing bigotry, but goodness knows it can still come with its fair share of awkwardness.

            1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

              Not the same but we’ve always called my son a non-traditional nickname (in his case, one that can be a name itself) of his own name. An analogue might be Xander for Alexander, though that’s not it. He’s 5 and recently decided he only wants to be Alexander – and damn are kids good at letting you know what they want to be called! – and we have gone through the Xander-sorry-Alexander phase a lot.

              I have the opposite problem – I exclusively use a nickname that is a name of its own but rarely a nickname for my actual name, say if I used Ellen for Elizabeth. So many people want to use the longer form (since it is what my email for work is under, as I have no say in that) and I constantly remind people of my used-name.

        4. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          We had a Steven that for years everyone called Steve. Then he quietly introduced himself as Steven to a new team member and corrected someone with a “oh actually it’s Steven” who’d known him a while. We felt bad that we’d completely missed his preference.

          Steven wasn’t a confrontational type of person, so it helped one of the people he corrected was the extroverted type who got the word out quickly. A few clear but calm corrections and people will catch on.

        5. Myrin*

          Yeah, my best friend in primary school was named “Katharina” but she introduced herself to everyone as “Kathi” (we’re German and that’s the “normal” nickname for that name) so that’s what everyone knew her by. Later when we were in seventh grade, she one day said that she would go by her full name from now on* and while, like you, we occasionally slipped up, we got used to it pretty quickly and nowadays, almost twenty years later, it even seems kinda strange to think of her as “Kathi”.

          (*What was actually stranger for all of us was the way she presented this request – she said her mother didn’t want her to have a nickname anymore and now she would have to go by her full name. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure that was just an excuse which she used thinking if her mother’s authority played a role in all this, we wouldn’t dare go against it, but I distinctly remember our little group getting all up in arms not about the name change but about the fact that her mother would decide for her what name she should go by. I bet she didn’t expect that reaction.)

          1. Kit*

            Ooooh, the appeal to (parental) authority is a double-edged sword that way, and I can’t say I would have reacted any differently in your shoes! “My mom says I have to be home by curfew” is a useful shield against friends trying to pressure one to stay out late, but “my mom says I’m not allowed to have a nickname any more” is likely to land exactly as it did for you: controlling and possibly abusive. (Not that curfew can’t be, but a lot of kids who would have difficulty asserting their own boundaries appreciate a parent who’s willing to be the nominal villain in order to support a boundary the kid really wants.)

      2. High Score!*

        It depends on your coworkers. One of my coworkers was hired young and using a diminutive of their name. I’ll use the Susie as an example. Then one day she changed her email signature to Susan and asked us to call her that at the next team meeting. While we occasionally messed up, everyone made an effort to call her Susan. And now she is Susan.
        Although we have annual D&I classes reminding us to call people by the names they want. So if after a few “It’s Josiah” statements, suggest some D&I classes too your HR.

      3. InsufficientlySubordinate*

        A radio personality in my area wanted to change his nickname and would say , “Nickname is dead” every single time anyone used it. Not a recommendation at work not at a radio station, but it did work probably because of his persistance. You may just have to say in a pleasant tone, “I prefer Josiah” every single time.

        1. Sally*

          I would go a bit further and say, “It’s Josiah.” When some people hear the word “preference,” they hear, “oh, it’s optional because it’s just i a preference.

          1. Massive Dynamic*

            +1 for “it’s Josiah” – each and every time, always interrupting the speaker politely but assertively. Train yourself to say “It’s Josiah” every time you hear “Jo.”

        2. Beebis*

          I got called my full first name on a bad day and the coworker didn’t do it again after getting something like “I don’t know that person, who is she?” from me in response

      4. Darsynia*

        There’s also a subset of people who consider using a full name as too formal/not familiar enough/bizarrely, rude?? Those folks are probably the ones that are hold-outs, the kind of person who actually asked me if I loved my husband because I call him by his full name (think Johnathan instead of ‘John’)!

        Sometimes the two versions of the name end up being mentally divorced from each other, which is how, when I started dating Johnathan, I called his dorm room up (using a phone card for the minutes, which shows how long ago that was!) and asked for ‘Johnathan’ only to be told no one by that name lived there! He was purposefully sharing a room with known friends of his that only ever called him John, so it took calling his mom to check the number was right and calling back and hearing AGAIN that no one named Johnathan lived there– but this time Johnathan overheard his roommate and was like… ‘Dude. That’s me!’ before it was cleared up.

        You’d think that ‘Jo’ and ‘Josiah’ sound close enough that it should be easy to remember to say the full rest of the name after starting to say ‘Jo,’ but this phenomenon might be tripping up some folks. HOWEVER, I want to make clear that these aren’t ‘never fix it’ excuses, just a glimpse into the mindset of why some people may struggle to adjust. You deserve to be called what you want and like to be called.

        1. Darsynia*

          On reread this looks like I think the real name dilemma are Jo and Josiah but my material point was that even if the two names are similar like that, it still doesn’t always help people when they’ve mentally designated a name, even though it feels like it should!

      5. Mr. Shark*

        Yeah, I don’t think it’s necessarily transphobic in this instance. I could see that a person could be named Josiah and want to go by Jo, so if everyone else is calling that person Jo, I’d just naturally do that, too, even if I was told their name was now Josiah.

        Of course, once it’s made clear that the preference is Josiah, everyone should recognize that and use that name. I have derivatives of my name used at times, and for some people, it’s okay and I’m comfortable with that usage as a nickname (say, Sharky versus Shark), but for 99% of the people, I make sure they call me my preferred name.

        I think that’s just a tendency of people and shouldn’t be attributed to transphobia or other, unless they are specifically making a point of not using LWs preferred name that is obviously female when the person is identifying as Male. With a Josiah/Jo, Jo can easily be male/Joe in speaking terms. So there’s no real issue there.

      6. marvin*

        I’m going to go ahead and say that if the LW gets the sense that there is some level of transphobia at work here, there probably is. Not likely in a grand, self-aware way, but just in the little ingrained unconscious ways that most people “just happen” to find the gender neutral nickname more fitting.

        It’s frustrating to deal with this kind of thing on a daily basis because the people who do it often see themselves as progressive or supportive of trans people and get defensive if you try to describe why it bothers you. At least in this case the issue is relatively straightforward and being a little more firm about the name shift should probably help. Solidarity, LW!

      7. lilyp*

        A lot of people probably assume that the nickname Jo is derived from Josiah, or even that you picked it up after adopting Josiah. Although I could see some subconscious bias going on where people have an easier time remembering an association between you and a gender neutral name because they don’t perceive you as very masculine? But that’s not really something you can act on.

        This depends a LOT on your specific workplace and coworkers, but if you’re out at work and people are generally supportive, would you be comfortable spelling out the gender connection for people? I know for myself “don’t deadname someone” is on a different level of seriousness/importance than “don’t use a nickname that someone doesn’t go by at work” and I would definitely work harder to change an ingrained habit if I knew the nickname was coming across as misgendering.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Agreed. And, OP #3, I am an Elizabeth whose family calls me Liz. When coworkers have nicknamed me “Liz” of their own accord, though, I have politely said, “Oh, I’m Elizabeth.” I think you’re feeling like maybe it’s more complicated because coworkers have known you socially and because your name changed – but that only changes the inertia in other people’s brains, not whether it’s the right thing for them to do anyway.

      I also suggest recruiting some backup from the coworkers you’re closer to, especially those you knew socially before you worked here. You could say something like, “I’m trying to get people to call me Josiah at work, because I’m now only using Jo with family members – could you help out by correcting people kindly if they call me Jo when they’re talking to you?”

      1. Allonge*

        Your second paragraph, absolutely. It’s worth spelling out so some people, and as mentioned above, it’s a situation a lot of us are familiar with. Good luck, OP!

      2. Plumbum*

        Recruiting backup is a great move. I think we have a nickname issue happening at my work but from the outside it’s hard to tell. We have a Samantha who I was introduced to as Sam and have known as such for years, but recently newer hires have been referring to her as Samantha. It would be weird to contact her out of the blue to ask which she prefers as we rarely need to interact, and others still use Sam, so which name gets reinforced depends on who you talk to more. A solid “it’s definitely Samantha, she hates being called Sam these days” from someone she works more closely with would both clear up my confusion and let me help spread the change.

        We also have an entire team who call me by a nickname when I’ve only ever used the long form at work. No idea how that started, fortunately it’s one I don’t mind so it’s just like a quirk of interacting with members of that team.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          I think you absolutely could ask her next time you encounter her. You’re right that you don’t have to manufacture an opportunity to ask, but when you see her, you could absolutely say, “Do you go by Samantha these days? I noticed that most people seem to be calling you that.” It could just be that she introduces herself as Samantha, but does not mind Sam.

          I recently started a new job, and I always introduce myself with my full name. I have noticed that people here often then ask me which nickname I prefer. This is a good practice. I have a very common name that lends itself to multiple nicknames, and I am okay with one and dislike one (for example, I introduce myself as Richard, do not like Ricky, and will answer to Rich if necessary). I appreciate it because it means that I don’t have to start out in a new job correcting people who might assume I’m a Ricky.

        2. Phryne*

          I would say you can ask her, that is not weird at all. I have a coworker I had known for a while but only recently have worked with more closely. Her name is not uncommon, and most people pronounce it the ‘standard’ way but I noticed the person she shares work with pronounced it differently, (in a way where you would expect it to be spelled differently, with a Z instead of S) and then later I heard her introduce herself with that different pronunciation. So I asked her if I got it wrong and she told me it does not matter very much to her, she will answer to both, but that officially it is the less common pronunciation. So now I try to reprogram myself.

        3. Nicknames for Emily*

          “We also have an entire team who call me by a nickname when I’ve only ever used the long form at work. No idea how that started, fortunately it’s one I don’t mind so it’s just like a quirk of interacting with members of that team.”

          It could be our digital/email/text-dominant communications to blame, if the short form is common and especially (but not only) if the name is more than 7-8 letters in its long form. People are so used to shortening commonly used words in text for speed, and while they obviously *shouldn’t* just assume it’s okay to shorten a person’s name, it might be that e.g. Jon/Jen is such a familiar name to them that they shorten Jonathan/Jennifer in the same way they shorten “communications” to “comms.” Meanwhile they might be somewhat less likely to shorten Allison to Al because it’s less common, nor to Allie because the -y/-ie suffix feels more like a term of affection, and likewise wouldn’t be as likely to shorten Margaret to Peg or Elizabeth to Lilibet because they feel like more obvious terms of endearment, instead of a more neutral “abbreviation.”

          Source: I’m an Emily who has never once in my 40 years gone by or introduced myself as “Em,” but people have throughout my life spontaneously shortened my name to it, and I’ve indeed noticed they do it way more often in writing than they do out loud. (Despite it not being what I primarily go by, I don’t have any issue with answering to it, so have never asked anyone to stop.)

          1. Lily Rowan*

            I have a similar situation, where I don’t MIND the obvious shortening of my name, but would never introduce myself that way or use it in writing. I kind of hate it when people at work call me “Lil” like it’s my proper name, but I don’t care enough to correct it.

            On the other hand, I worked with a Matt who always introduced himself as Matthew, so I finally did ask, and he was fine either way, no preference, just felt like the full name was the right thing to do in a more formal context.

          2. Robin*

            I highly doubt it has to do with texting norms. I get my name shortened by all ages in all sorts of communications. Only since grad school, where I met a new crop of people far away from my older friends/family was I able to thoroughly establish going by my full name. Folks have started asking which I prefer – not sure if that is because of self selection into more progressive/name sensitive groups or if it is a wider norm.

            1. Nicknames for Emily*

              A clarification: I wasn’t referring specifically to textING; rather to all text-based/written forms of communication, based on my experience that people shorten my name without prompting in writing far more than they do out loud, which has been the case since my pre-cell-phone youth when friends would write “Em” 9/10 times on hand written notes but call me “Emily” 9/10 times out loud.

              I’m sure it’s far from the only motive but it makes sense to me as one explanation for why some people shorten some names without having ever been told to use the short name, but don’t do it universally with all names – that it’s the desire to write quickly intersecting with whether the name has a very common short form used by adults (rather than only having nicknames that diverge or sound diminutive).

          3. Observer*

            It could be our digital/email/text-dominant communications to blame, if the short form is common and especially (but not only) if the name is more than 7-8 letters in its long form.

            Eh, this is a problem that predates texting. It’s been a problem for as long as I can remember, and I was an adult before cell phones were a thing that you could actually carry around.

            1. Koalafied*

              I wasn’t referring specifically to textING – as in SMS, just to the fact that in the digital age more and more of our communications are handled in text – as in the written form – rather than verbally, and that shortening seems to be a thing people are more likely to do in writing than they do out loud.

              1. Observer*

                Yeah. But texting / SMS was the first tiptoes of the digital age. Email and other forms of text based messaging became broad based long after text was ubiquitous.

          4. Irish Teacher*

            Yup, this has happened with me or at least, it was what prevented me from calling somebody on it. I have a longish name and don’t really like most of the shorts, but a lot of people find it hard to spell (though I don’t think it is) and tend to shorten it in texts, etc, so I go with that. But my grinds student (a student I was giving tuition to) – his mother started calling me by a short I didn’t like, but because a lot of the communication was by text – “Irish Teacher, son is sick and will not be attending for his grind this week,” – by the time I realised she was actually calling me that and not just shortening it in type because she couldn’t spell it, I felt like it was too late to object.

        4. Venus*

          I have asked coworkers if they have a preference even if I rarely spoke with them and it was my only reason for having a chat. Cultural experiences may vary, and in my situation it is normal to briefly say hello and chat with someone because we are part of a larger department. In all these situations I would start with something like “Apologies for my confusion, but I have heard different options for your name and wanted to hear your preference from you directly.” In some cases it is the pronunciation of a name from a different country and I want to be saying it correctly. There are quite a few people who don’t care about their name, including me. I have one coworker who has the case of pronouncing the J as a Y, like the infamous Joaquin on this site, and he started in our group first day with “Please call me Jack”. I’d known him previously and asked about it, and he said that his name gets badly mangled so he wanted a simple version. I took a few seconds to confirm that I was saying the more complicated version properly, “W-A-K-E-E-N, right?” and now if someone in my workplace says Joakin then I send them an email saying “It’s pronounced WAKEEN although he’s good with Jack”. He’s not the only example, but we with a constant stream of new people so it’s more complicated to fix the error. It opened my eyes to how many people manage to get it completely wrong even when he offers an easy option immediately. In previous groups it was a simple comment from the person on their first day and it worked well even with people who had known them previously. Unfortunately OP may not have anyone in their office who is willing to make this effort.

      3. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I think recruiting a few coworkers is a great idea, but you don’t need to spell out Jo is for family only. Just ask them to help spread the word I use Josiah.

      4. Another Elizabeth*

        So funny, Liz. I’m also Elizabeth, always called Beth. But Elizabeth sounds much better with my married name.

        At my first job after I married I went only by Elizabeth. I liked it. But when a couple of people started calling me Liz (which I don’t like being called), I corrected them to Beth.

        It took about eight seconds for that name to spread around to everyone. I never was Elizabeth after that, which made me sad, but not sad enough to correct anyone, since Beth was indeed my preferred name in many situations.

        I think “It’s Josiah,” or “Call me Josiah, please,” said every time and in a calm neutral voice, should work.

      5. MaureenSmith*

        I definitely have brain inertia! I will continue to call someone by the name I first knew them as until/unless I am corrected multiple times. This has happened with friends nicknames and extended family members, it has nothing to do with gender identity.

        One factor in how quickly my mental ‘name’ for them changes is how often I interact with that person. If it’s someone I interact with once or twice a year, I have most likely forgotten their name anyway and am guessing. If it’s someone I interact with daily, the switch will happen faster.

        When people around me change their preferred address, I have started asking for patience, explaining that it takes my brain a while to be re-wired and asking them to patiently remind me when I mess up. It’s not a ‘you’ problem, it’s a ‘me’ problem.

        Regardless of the reason for the preferred name change, be specific and consistent. And remember we all mess up sometimes. It’s not always a personal attack, often it’s a brain f#$t. (unless they reply they are calling you X out of ‘respect for your mother’, but that’s a different letter, and hopefully not applicable here)

    4. Sandgroper*

      I think it’s important to consider tone matters here too. A LOT of people are trying to be friendly rather than confrontational (always assume the best until proven resoundingly otherwise!) so it’s best to catch people in good humour. Aim for it to be positive for both them and you, and cheerfully correct them. That can really help them engage with the process of remembering. A little forgiveness a few times doesn’t go astray either.

    5. Phryne*

      As I understand it, using wrong names is a big problem for trans people, one of many microaggressions they have to deal with daily, so I can understand OP being sensitive to it. But If all of his coworkers are transphobes doing this on purpose, you would expect that to be noticeable in other ways, it would make for a very uncomfortable and unsafe working environment. I don’t get the impression from the letter that there are other issues. If there are not, I’d say that in this case, it is probably another problem. As someone else noticed, in spoken form Joe is virtually the same as Jo and sounds likely as a short form for Josiah. People are used to it and will keep using it. I wonder if OP would feel the same about being called Josh for instance…
      But no matter the cause, it is always ok to keep asking people to address you by the name you want, no matter what the reason. I knew a girl once who was called Babette, which she thought was a mouthful but she loathed being called Babs. Someone asked ‘what about Bob’, and that became her name from then on.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It doesn’t have to be the case that “all of his coworkers are transphobes doing this on purpose” for there to be some transphobia at the source. It obviously doesn’t have to be all of them, and it doesn’t have to be on purpose either – it could be a case of “I can’t *really* see LW as a man so an androgynous name just fits him better in my opinion.”

      2. DataSci*

        Intent isn’t magic. The fact that Josiah’s colleagues aren’t transphobes setting out to hurt him doesn’t mean he isn’t hurt; it just changes what the best response to the hurt is.

        1. Lexi Lynn*

          It could be something like that, but I suspect that Josiah would have mentioned it if that was the vibe. Nicknames seem to be really tough to wean people off of. I remember reading that Kate Middleton prefers her full name (whatever that may be).

    6. Ann Onymous*

      I don’t think the OP needs a lot of capital to push back on this. Calling someone by their preferred name is the bare minimum of respect that everyone is entitled to.

    7. ScruffyInternHerder*

      The number of people who have over years decided that they have my permission to use an abbreviated form of my name that I loathe is far greater than zero.

      Nobody uses it in my personal life. Yet.

    8. Puzzler*

      I will never, for the life of me, understand people’s obsession with nicknames. Three- or four-syllable names are not hard to say. People should call people their full name unless they explicitly go by something else. If you introduce yourself to me as “Alexandra”, you are Alexandra to me, if you introduce yourself as Alex you are Alex. This should be so easy!

      1. Mary Jane for this*

        Yes, this! My Southern parents gave me two names and decided to call me both. Think “Mary Jane.” Not hyphenated, but my first and middle names, using both of them. Every year all through school, I had to tell the teachers “I go by Mary Jane.” Yet there was always one who continued to call me “Mary.” When I got married, I kept my maiden name as my middle name and moved my middle name to be with the first, so I sign “Mary Jane K. Smith” for formal signatures and “Mary Jane” for informal signatures. And people STILL call me “Mary.” I’m very sensitive about calling people whatever they introduce themselves as or sign off with, and I also make sure to check spelling too for all the Sara/Sarahs, Steven/Stephens, Catherine/Katherines, etc.

    9. Hannah Lee*

      My name is one that can be shortened to a nickname. I have never ever used that nickname as my call name or professional name. I never refer to myself with that nickname, even with people near and dear to me. The only association I have with the shortened nickname version of my name is kids at grade school, junior high using the nickname when they were bullying me (the shortened nickname can be mispronounced to sound exactly like a slur) So I’m not a fan of that nickname being applied to me.

      Thankfully all of my co-workers have only ever called me by my name.
      But there are a few suppliers or would be suppliers who have used the nick name. I always clarify “Actually my name is Josiah, not Jo” When it gets to the point that I’m correcting them the third time, I make a mental note “this is a rep who does not listen or pay attention to their customers” and their company drops to the bottom of my preferred supplier list.

      With co-workers obviously, that’s not an option. But the repeated reminders should eventually drive the point home, hopefully.
      My only suggestion would be to add it to your signature line. Like where people put preferred pronouns, you can put “preferred name: Josiah”
      And in person, maybe do the thing where it’s like you don’t notice if someone’s trying to get attention? ie if someone says “Hey Jo!” you don’t respond or if you do it’s just to look around to see where Jo is. That can get tricky though, because you need to pull off complete innocence, not like you’re trying to make a point.

    10. Momma Bear*

      Other than being direct when correcting folks, “Actually it’s Josiah,” I’d also make sure that anything else used the full name – from the website to email address to signature blocks. Sign all emails and sign them with your full name.

    11. nobadcats*

      As a person who has a name that can be shortened to a male/female nickname, I tend toward introducing myself as “Samantha,” because I want to ensure they know they are addressing a person who identifies as female. If a person decides that they want to address me by “Sam” or even WORSE “Sammy/ie” without asking, that’s when I bristle, I’m not, nor ever will be a “Sammie/y.” I answer to both “Sam” and “Samantha” equally, but do NOT assume someone is okay with the shortened version of their name. Just ASK.

      If you ask, “Do you prefer ‘Sam’ or ‘Samantha,’ I usually respond, “I reply to either, thank you for asking. But never ‘Sammy/ie.” and everyone gets it. I also share that my pronouns are she/her or they/them. I dunno, this is my own personal code as a cishet woman.

  2. Rectilinear Propagation*

    LW #1 – I personally wouldn’t feel too guilty about Terry. He’s the one who decided to admit to breaking the rules to a person he knows is at least sometimes in charge. He had no business just assuming you would be OK with this.

    LW #4 – I get how you think it’d be good to give a warning but “might suddenly be out for a few weeks” could happen to anyone anyway. If there’s something you can do to help out whoever might have to cover for you (having notes about your current work, cheat sheet on who to contact for help, that sort of thing), then that might be good to have ready.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Totally agree on OP1; Terry is not concerned about risking her job! Besides, it’s possible it will go better for him if this is caught before it causes an IT issue. If not, that’s not OP’s problem. Integrity is a particularly serious issue; this isn’t idle snitching or keeping tabs on colleagues’ timekeeping.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, spot on. If you’re subbing for the manager, you need to stop letting things slide like this. My colleague and I occasionally let each other go before our official finish time of 4, but always on a day when it’s not busy and one of us always stays until 4. And it’s never before 3.30 either. We’ve worked together for 8 years, things have been different at the end of the day since the pandemic and we’re both trustworthy (and trying to get my colleague /away/ from her seat is like trying to dissolve superglue) enough to work without supervision after 1.30. Friday, both of us were glued to the TV in the break room during the aftermath of the Queen’s death, but we took it in turns to slip in and out rather than abandoning our posts. (It’s what Her Majesty would have wanted — duty and loyalty.)

        But you earn that trust. We couldn’t have done that without knowing that neither of us would desert the other. Terry is obviously breaking that trust wide open. Like what is frequently said: it’s not you getting him into trouble. It’s him getting himself into trouble. The more it goes on, the worse it gets, and you’re not only being complicit but enabling it, and it ends up being your responsibility on days you’re in charge.

      2. Momma Bear*

        As soon as OP said they were the one in charge when this happens I thought “OP needs to report that”. Don’t cover for Terry, for all the reasons already stated. Do not let Terry’s habits threaten your job, OP.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        The part that galls me is where Terry says to OP, “Ugh, I’m trying to leave but she would definitely notice.” Like he’s saying to her face that he knows the other manager-sub isn’t a sucker, but he thinks that OP *is*? I think she should show him the shock and awe of finding out that she isn’t, either.

      4. Certaintroublemaker*

        When I read, “I don’t want him to lose his job,” I immediately said, “I want him to lose his job.” He’s cheating the employer, he’s leaving the team high and dry, and that “ugh” moment of his was a really ugly look.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      LW1: Someone at my job got fired for exactly this. Well, she clocked in from the bus when she was running late, but it was functionally the same situation. My employer is not unduly punitive. There was no reason for her to do this except to cheat–we were told in no uncertain terms not to do this even if the Internet was down, our managers or HR can fix our timesheets for us. I hope she uses better judgment at wherever she works now.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      This is exactly what I was thinking for LW#4. Having things prepped to make it easier for coverage to happen would be great. Keep a folder on your computer and update it often, so you don’t have to go hunting for it.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Agreed. The “have everything easily accessible” is fantastic advice. I was a high school teacher for years, and even now in my corporate job I have the equivalent of a sub folder that has everything someone would need to know if I was out for the day unexpectedly. It’s yellow and easily found on my desk.

    4. ferrina*

      LW1- it’s not like the rules are ambiguous or unfair. He’s leaving half his job undone! That’s really significant. This isn’t a grey area- it’s clearly wrong (and timecard fraud) and he clearly knows it’s wrong, and he’s clearly okay with enlisting you as a co-conspirator. It sucks that you need to be the one to say something, but you know and you have authority (as the “in charge” person). You need to say something.

      If Terry loses his job, it’s because Terry did something he knew was wrong and these are the very obvious consequences of what he did. And it will be much easier for you to breathe without this hanging over your head.

    5. Katrinka*

      When I started at this job 18 months ago, I let my boss know that my father was dying in another state and that I had been unable to go see him due to COVID. I said I would work with them on what days were better for me to take, and when I went a couple of months later, I did schedule it around what I knew would be busy days.

      On the other hand, I had no notice when my brother was diagnosed with cancer, when he was actively dying a few weeks later, so it was very last minute scheduling a couple of days off to fly to see him. I ended up not going because he died before we could get there, but I took those days off as bereavement leave instead.

      And then to top it all off, I ended up falling at work two weeks after that, broke bones for the first time in my life, needed surgery, and was out of work for 6 weeks.

      You just can’t predict when something’s going to happen. As soon as you know you need to be out, let your boss and HR know, get the FMLA paperwork completed and to your doctor, and relax. Things come up suddenly, as COVID has shown us.

  3. Seal*

    #1 – If he’s the IT person, surely he’s aware that the time clock system records IP addresses, right? So it should be easy to tell that he’s not been clocking out at work.

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      He probably assumes that he’s the only one with access. He may also assume that no one else knows that feature exists.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        If the company is using a VPN for employees working from home (a common and good practice), the IP address would read as “internal”. Still possible to untangle but would take some IT skills and usually not done routinely without prompt.

        1. Observer*

          As you not it can still be untangled. And if someone needs him and he’s not there, it is highly unlikely that someone will untangle it. It’s not THAT hard – most VPN’s have logs and that’s all it takes.

          1. Dragon_Dreamer*

            If he’s as arrogant as he sounds, he’ll be convinced that no one else there could ever figure it out. Source: I was a sysadmin for a short while, cleaning up after someone like this got canned.

    2. Emily*

      Maybe because he’s the IT person he is able to mask it so it looks like he is clocking out at work? (I am not super techy, so I am not sure if it’s possible or not, but could explain why he feels so comfortable continuing to leave early). I do think LW#1 needs to speak to their manager as soon as possible and use the wording Alison described. Given how common it seems like IT issues can be, I’m sort of surprised he hasn’t been found out when an IT issue happened and he wasn’t around to fix it.

      1. Observer*

        Maybe because he’s the IT person he is able to mask it so it looks like he is clocking out at work?

        Depending on what he’s doing and the set up, it’s possible. And it’s possible that he THINKS he’s masking it, but is not.

        In either case, that would be an order of magnitude worse that what he’s doing. Immediate firing with bad references (if the company does anything more than confirming employment) for sure.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Yeah, clocking out from another locations hours after physically leaving the office is bad, but he could claim “I was working on some stuff I brought home, had to meet a repair person” and then just stop doing it now that he knows people are aware he’s been doing it. He may have be lying and committing time card fraud but there’s some wiggle room if he only got “caught” once.

          Deliberately masking your location so that you’re trying to mislead about where you were when you clocked out? No wiggle room there; One and done, over and out; that’s outright fraud, attempting to deceive using your work credentials, technical skills.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      He probably thinks nobody was checking it.

      A few years ago I had a problem with a coworker coming in late*, but clocking in when his shift started, instead of when he arrived on site. We clocked in with a phone app that recorded our location by GPS. Not only was nobody in management checking it, it was difficult to get my manager to understand that he needed to check it even after I was complaining.

      *I couldn’t leave until he got there to take over from me.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        My company is looking at allowing employees to clock in/out via phone app and I really hope they don’t move to that. I’ve seen too many instances in which people do exactly what you mentioned. But I’ve seen it happen with the website, too, so I guess it’s no different. They just bring up the website on their phone or their home computer and punch in/out before or after their commute. Usually it’s been in the morning before their commute to mask the fact they’re running very late.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          I’ve worked several places where this was allowed, but the program required individuals to be within a certain vicinity of the the building before clocking in. So in theory people could clock in, in the parking lot, but not in their driveway.

          Of course this was all pre-pandemic, so I have no idea how that would work with remote work. But if you are required to be on site, it seems like it would make sense.

          1. Kate*

            I work with a system like this and while I don’t have anyone reporting to me, I’m still technically management. So one day one of the sales bro-dudes tells me that he has an app on his phone that cheats his GPS location so that he can log in from the train instead of the office… and the aftermath of that almost got him fired (because of course I reported it!).

            There’s always ways around things, but generally the people who try these kind of work arounds are too pleased with their cleverness to keep quiet… the question is who they end up taking down with them in case of a law suit for wrongful dismissal “oh, Sally knew did she? Well upper management didn’t and that violates her contract too. So here’s the door Sally!”

      2. Dust Bunny*

        We are absolutely not allowed to clock in by phone, I assume for this very reason. If we’re really there and the Internet is out or something, our managers or HR can fix our timesheets for us (and are very responsive about doing so). There is literally no legitimate reason for anyone at my workplace to clock in not from their work computer.

        1. Seal*

          At my last job we switched to an online time clock system that allowed people to clock out on their phones. Our student employees quickly discovered that they could pad their time by clocking in before they got to work and clocking out after they left the building. HR caught on pretty quickly and regularly issued reminders that this wasn’t allowed. Everyone also got a very detailed explanation on how IP addresses worked.

      3. Green Goose*

        My company had a meeting the other day where they stated that everyone from my office would be REQUIRED to go into the office four days a week and that we could not regularly arrive late/leave early. This is a huge blow to everyone, especially families with kids, as we live in a very congested traffic area where 15 miles can turn into a 60+ minute drive. So arriving at work between 8-9:30 = 60 minute drive, but working at home 8:30-10/10:30 and then arriving at work at 10:30/11 means 15-20 minute drive. They kept throwing MANDATORY and REQUIRED around in the presentation and I kept silently wondering how this would be tracked and now I’m worried that they might do something like this. We’re technically supposed to come in three days a week now but it’s not really enforced and it seems like it’s going to be monitored moving forward.

    4. Sandgroper*

      My thoughts.

      I think I’d be tempted to confront it first the next time he tries to slink off on a day you are ‘person in charge’ with a “Hey Terry, are you supposed to be going home now? Please don’t put me in this position!”

      If you raise it with higher ups he’s likely to know it is you, but if it’s an instant fire offence then the Big Boss needs a plan for when he is going to walk his IT staff out the door too, so the impact on you should be low. It’s not nice for Terry to lose his job, at least you’ve fired a warning shot then of “hey, don’t”

      1. EPLawyer*

        So what if Terry finds out its her? They are peers, with her sometimes being charge. He’s been there 5 months, what capital could he have built up to make her life miserable?
        If terry loses his job it is because he is not, in fact, doing his job. Not because of anything OP will do.

        OP he is putting you and everyone other “in charge” person in a difficult position. He KNOWS it is wrong because he doesn’t do it with the person who would notice. You need to talk to your boss immediately.

        1. Seashell*

          I would want to avoid having someone knowing I was the reason they got caught breaking the rules. He may take a firing gracefully, or he may threaten LW’s life.

          1. Myrin*

            And if OP has any reason to believe that Terry might threaten her life – and that could be as vague as an “off” feeling about him – then she should act accordingly. But to say it like this is a highly likely outcome feels pretty alarmist to me.

          2. Observer*

            He may take a firing gracefully, or he may threaten LW’s life.

            There is a HUGE, ENORMOUS gulf between the two extremes. Unless there is some information that the OP (understandingly) left out, the threat to the OP’s life is really not something that needs to reckoned with. On the other hand, if the OP has reason to believe that this is a likely scenario, they have a bigger problem on their hands. And even if they are NOT the person who “outs” them, they are going to be at risk.

          3. Sandgroper*

            Without further information I’d say this is a biiiiiig stretch.

            Terry might cancel OP’s user log ins forcing the OP through several days of annoyance, or re route her printer to the Big Boss office in an obscure way that causes issues… or do any of a number of ‘minor but annoying’ things. But threaten life? Wowsers. I mean. Possible. Anything is technically possible but I didn’t get this hint in the letter!

          4. Kella*

            If you follow this logic, you need to also conceal from him who does the firing too. Reporting work problems is part of OP’s job. There’s no reason to hide the fact that she’s doing her job unless there has been some kind of specific threat verbalized.

        2. Sandgroper*

          If Terry is the only person in charge of certain functions in IT, and has access to a PC on his way out the door, he can make the OP’s life very difficult.

          But will he? He’s already shown he doesn’t play by the rules and has the ability to be choosy about people. He hopefully won’t, but a wise manager will kill his IT access while he’s in his exit meeting. The OP could be wise to talk to the Big Boss about this ahead of time, because while Terry may target the OP, Terry could also target any number of other systems. It’s ‘normal’ for IT people to walk back to their desks to find themselves a) locked out and b) with a security guard asking for their key pass, passwords, and handing them a box.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      As a senior individual contributor, who is trusted to stand in for the manager in a supervisory capacity, I think the OP should bring the issue up to her manager. It’s causing issues of morale and it’s potentially going to cause issues for the business.

      Terry’s going to get caught at some point, because he’s being quite blatant about his shirking. The longer that takes, and the more people are aware that he’s doing it, the more the OP’s manager is going to wonder why the OP didn’t say something earlier.

      I would bring it up and ask for “clarification” – as in “It has been widely noticed that Terry is never present after X o’clock. I assume he has some arrangement with you to work from home or some accommodation, and I don’t need to know what that is, but someone needs to clarify to the team because people are starting to comment and it is causing morale issues.”

      Leave it at that – IF Terry does have accommodations or a work from home option, then the manager can address it. Otherwise, the manager can take action to make sure that Terry is doing his job or is replaced.

  4. jm*

    LW 3, i wish you luck, as a person who is cis but has a slightly unusual name that literally every adult i’ve ever met has messed up at least once. the nickname/shortening thing is a continual aggravation in the workplace. i’ve tried so many things, to no avail.

    1. Princess Xena*

      Ditto (though my name does not lend itself to nicknames so there’s that). I usually end up meeting people who seem to take my name as a sort of pronunciation test and will ask how to pronounce it ‘right’ every time (not easy for most English speakers) .

    2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I go by a weird nickname that English speakers can’t connect to my legal name, and that could be pronounced two different ways. I now have the pronunciation in brackets after my name in my email sig & my Zoom display name and it has really helped.

      Josiah – a couple of times HR systems have made my legal name visible to everyone in my org & it always makes me feel really weird even though there are no deeper issues involved, so I empathise!

      We also have a “Nicholas-never-Nick” equivalent at my work and it is adorable to watch everyone puff up, become Nicholas Naming Champions, & correct newbies when Nicholas isn’t there (“NEVER Nick!!!”) I don’t even know how he did it (he is universally – and deservedly – beloved to a degree that is out of reach to most of us mere mortals, so that helps), but a loyal cadre of correcters will really help in my experience.

      All of which is just to say I’d echo the advice others have given to enlist trusted coworkers. And just keep correcting people consistently (though I am REALLY BAD at doing this, so solidarity – you’re certainly not alone in finding this stuff hard, with or without the added worry of possible transphobia in the mix.)

      1. Mizzle*

        About the naming champions: I had a classmate in high school for whom we gleefully corrected the teachers anytime they got it wrong (kind of like a chorus). I don’t think it had anything to do with his likeability – more that we knew we were right and the teacher was wrong and who would resist the opportunity to correct an authority figure? :)

        Along those lines, I’d think of it as a bonding thing. As long as you can remember that it’s “Nicholas-never-Nick”, you’re part of the group (and get to feel just a bit smug). Seems like a win-win situation!

        1. sb51*

          Yes! I have a name with two common spellings, and I had a long-time coworker who never got it right for years and years.

          Then he and I started working on a project with someone with a very different style/process of working that was irritating both of us a bit (neither process was wrong but bridging the gap in the collaboration was very challenging).

          At one point, in a teleconference, the Other Team guy misspelled my name, and I was peeved enough to correct it (in a shared document, so it updated on screen while we were meeting although not very obviously).

          My Team Coworker has never gotten my name wrong since and started correcting it when Other Team guy screwed it up.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          Yes, I wonder if OP2 can create his own naming champions out of the people who knew him as Jo before working here. “Hey, I know I went by Jo before, but I want to go by Josiah now and I could really use your help with that at work. Could you refer to me as Josiah and gently correct people around the office if you hear them call me Jo?”

    3. STG*

      I don’t have an unusual or long name but people default to the nickname version of it all the time at work. I spent a few years correcting people until I finally just gave up.

      1. QA Peon*

        This is me. My “nickname” is one letter shorter than my real name. One letter!! And you have to sub out other letters because it’s spelled different. I gave up. Even my husband calls me by the nickname.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had the strangest opposite thing happen. My name doesn’t lend itself to nicknames, but it does have a silent last letter.

          I had a new coworker start recently and she kept leaving that letter off my name when taking meeting minutes and stuff, so I corrected her on it. “Oh, I thought because you go by [Name] you spell it that way.” This made sense to her, because she goes by a shortened version of her full name that is spelled differently, and so she assumed that my name is pronounced differently with the last letter than without.

          But when I explained it she understood and corrected how she writes my name.

  5. MyDogIsBradleyPooper*

    LW#1 – Your co-worker has put you in an uncomfortable position. If they are leaving early as you suspect any consequence of that falls squarely on them even if you bring it up with your manager or their manger. You shilly-shally feel guilty for asking about this if it’s done for the right reason. If you are asking as part of your roll as a manager (even a relief/temp. manager) and your expected to look after the interests of the company. If your co-worker has some kind of agreement allowing them to leave early then that should be the response you are given. It might not be common knowledge but in your role of temp. manager it’s reasonable to ask.

    Alternative does your company have anonymous whistleblower line you could use? Again you are not responsible for this person getting in trouble if that is the outcome. They are responsible for that baes on their actions.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      Completely off topic but I would be delighted to know what you do online that made autocorrect learn you mean “shilly-shally” instead of “shouldn’t”.

      1. Other Alice*

        Thank you. I was wondering if “shilly shally” was some sort of US saying!
        As an aside, the autocorrect on my phone went absolutely bonkers since a few months ago, unlearning all the words I use often and replacing them with nonsense. It’s driving me up the wall. So I no longer am surprised by anything autocorrect does.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              I’m in Ireland and would find it perfectly understandable as meaning wasting time or dithering. It’s the sort of thing a grandmother might say to you. “No shilly shallying now. We’re in a hurry.”

              1. Glitsy Gus*

                That’s what I grew up hearing it to mean in California, so the U.S. meaning is basically the same. It’s like dilly-dally or lolly-gag.

        1. Phryne*

          Do you use more than one language? Mine could just about cope with 2 (Dutch and English), but now I am learning Danish and Italian on the owl app and it is just in a state of absolute confusion most of the time.

    2. Despachito*

      I question the judgment of the coworker if he explicitly told the manager in charge he is going to sneak out to prevent another manager from seeing him…?

      1. Snow Globe*

        Yeah, I think if I was the LW in that position I’d feel kind of insulted. (“I know I get get away with whatever when you are in charge!”)

    3. megaboo*

      I don’t know if this is a library, but it sounds like it. We have rotating Supervisors in Charge and we have a number of staff that needs to be present to remain open. I absolutely think this should be brought up to your supervisor, in no uncertain terms. If you don’t have him physically in his seat, it might backfire if staff numbers have to be a certain level. It’s also not fair that he’s “working from home” when he’s a public facing employee.

      1. Mimi*

        Just what I was thinking. I work in a library too and this is a major issue– aside from the work aspect if there’s an IT issue or coverage problem, it’s a safety concern; if there’s an emergency and no one knows whether Terry is in the building, they don’t know what to tell the firefighters, etc.

  6. Ambarish*

    #3, I feel like this may also be dependent on the specific university. When I was last at school, of course we’d only accept applications over email, but follow-up questions (like status of an application) were sometimes over our instant messaging application. I gess don’t see the concern there; if OP feels like they don’t want to use GChat even for status checks, they can redirect to email, but not sure I see the teachable moment there.

    1. Buffy fan*

      I communicated with my advisor soley through Gchat. Why not email? That’s how he preferred it. I think because it cut away a lot of the formality and he was aiming for a “I’m in your corner” kinda vibe. When I took a class taught by him he preferred email. I suppose because than he was aiming for a “professor” vibe.

    2. Electricpants*

      If nothing else, it could help them learn to look within the listing for instructions on how to submit their applications.

    3. tg33*

      I’m afraid the sudden change to on-line everything has warped students perception of the best way to contact people, but the resolution is what Alison said, correct them and go about your day.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I think this is a good point- I got major “just show up to the office and give them your resume!” vibes from this. All the more reason to kindly, but clearly, set expectations for these students.

      2. Generic Name*

        I wouldn’t say it’s warped their perceptions, necessarily. My son is in high school and has been using the google suite since the 6th grade for school. Especially during the pandemic, some of his teachers have told students the best way to contact them outside of class is gchat. I would say the students are doing what some have them been told by teachers in the past.

      3. ferrina*

        I think it’s less a case of warped students perceptions and more a case of warped how mentors/authority communicate expectations. Many students are in this situation for the first time and have no idea what they are doing (normal). In the past, a mentor might casually say “when you email them your resume…” and the student would pick up the expectation that they should email. But if those casual conversations aren’t happening, the student isn’t getting the same social cues that previous classes did.

  7. LittleMarshmallow*

    I have a colleague that prefers to go by his full name rather than the typical nickname associated with the name (think Nicholas instead of Nick). I’ve definitely corrected people that I hear say it wrong, and the response I usually get is “I call him that all the time and he’s never corrected me”… I don’t know how to combat that. I know the guy doesn’t like it but he also probably gets tired of correcting everyone. People are annoyingly weird about names. I’m currently wondering if I should ask a new colleague to stop calling me by my last name. It’s probably one of like 3 times it’s come up in my life, but I don’t like being called by my last name. I never brought it up with him because our relationship was strained from the get go for a variety of reasons and I didn’t want to make it worse so now I feel stuck… I suppose as long as it doesn’t spill over to others I’ll just live with it. I don’t really have advice for the LW… maybe just advice for everyone else… stop being a bunch of butts about peoples names! Call them what they ask to be called! If you’re not sure just ask and if someone else corrects you check with the person about their preference before you make a decision (I can see how either way could backfire). And lastly, don’t get offended if someone corrects you, just say “oh ok” and then use the right name!

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I think your colleagues should definitely check in with Nicholas: “I hear you hate Nick and prefer Nicholas”, but it’s right that they aren’t just taking your word for it, over their own experience with him. That’s why the OP is in this mess – people are copying other people’s opinions of what he should be called rather than paying attention to him and what he wants. It’s also for you to say: “Oh I don’t like being called by my last name” Who else is going to know that? You don’t even have to change your expression or tone of voice; just trot out the words matter of factly. It’s only weird or relationship straining if you make it so. Possibly he is a huge asshat who will ignore your wishes, but you have to express wishes before that happens.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      There’s someone like this at my workplace (Nicholas instead of Nick type but most people call him Nick) and I only found out recently that he hates ‘Nick’ and does want to go by ‘Nicholas’. Next time I speak to him I’m going to be direct and apologise :)

      1. Despachito*

        What would you apologise for? You did not know before because he did not tell you.

        I know people who are wrongnamed are sometimes afraid to spend their social capital by pushing back, but if they do so politely but persistently and with a smile (with a mindset that OF COURSE you could not know because you were not told this, and OF COURSE now when you are told, will do your best to correct yourself, because OF COURSE you are a decent person) I reckon this could do most of the trick?

        If I think about it, I’d be happy to oblige if given clear instructions and a bit of a slack if my brain is a bit slower to adjust to the change (e.g. if Josiah tells me he is “Josiah” and not “Jo”, and I was used to call him “Jo”, I will do my best to use “Josiah” onwards, but if I accidentally call him “Jo” by mistake, I’d expect him to assume it was a honest mistake and kindly correct me. If someone keeps calling him “Jo” despite being told several times, Josiah can be rightfully pissed and be much stricter in requiring his correct name but I’d assume most of his coworkers are decent people and will do their best to oblige.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          > What would you apologise for?

          Mainly because his name in all the systems is Nicholas, he signs himself off as Nicholas etc and I have only been using Nick because that’s what other people use, and I feel I should have asked/checked rather than just assume.

          1. Despachito*

            You definitely can to make things smoother, but if he lets people call him Nick and does not say anything, how on Earth could you have assumed he is not ok with it?

            If he really hates “Nick”, this one is a bit on him because generally it is not so much off base for someone to sign formally but be referred to informally and be perfectly OK with it.

            In my formal mails I usually sign as “Elizabeth”, but if I am with someone on first-name basis, I go by “Liz”, and sign as “Liz”. If someone called me “Bess”, I’d correct them because I do not like this version of my name. I do not mind going by “Elizabeth” or “Liz”, it basically reflects the closeness of my relationship with the speaker. If I had other preferences I would have to tell people what they are.

            1. ecnaseener*

              You know, it’s very much a thing to apologize for unintended harm/offense. You don’t have to prostrate yourself at anyone’s feet and pledge them your firstborn as recompense, but you seem weirdly upset by the idea of Captain saying “I just found out you don’t go by Nick, sorry about that!”

              1. The Other Dawn*

                I agree. I’d apoligize, too. Just because I’d feel bad that I’d been calling someone by a name they hate and never thought to check if it’s OK to do that.

              2. Lady Blerd*

                I agree. A simple good faith apology may go a long way and buys social capital, it would be a smart move to do so.

                1. ferrina*

                  Yep, I’d go the apology route too. Not because you did anything wrong, but just to show good will and that you didn’t mean to cause distress by calling him the wrong name.

            2. STLBlues*

              People pronounce my last name wrong ALWAYS. It’s four letters, it’s phonetic — and yet, people have said it right probably less than a dozen times in my life. (A famous person has the same name, said the “wrong” way in the ancestral tongue – and it’s just a habit that can’t be broken.)

              I don’t correct everyone. It’s exhausting. I try to correct people I’ll have repeated contact with, but even then I know I’ve missed people who have caught on later. Nicholas is probably just tired of correcting people and resigned to it.

              1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

                Yes, exactly, it is exhausting to constantly correct people, the same people, over and over. Sometimes, you just don’t want to interrupt the rest of the meeting because they’ve gone beyond your name, but now everyone has heard it.

                1. ferrina*

                  If there’s a really chatty/influential person you can enlist, that can make things easier. At my company, there’s a couple people that interact with EVERYONE- you tell them to spread the word, and they’ll take care of 70% of the company. You can also flag it for your manager, who may be in a better position to correct people at higher levels (I fight for pay and promotions- I would definitely fight for my people’s names).

        2. I should really pick a name*

          Apologising because you’ve learned that you’ve been bothering someone accidentally is an incredibly normal thing to do.

          An apology isn’t only reserved for cases when you’re doing something intentionally.

        3. Siege*

          I mean, the story indicates that they don’t do their best to oblige, so I’m not sure where you’re getting that from.

          Often, it is less about social capital and more about exhaustion. I have explained to a person I email a few times a year how my name is spelled. It is spelled correctly on my sent name, and spelled correctly on my signature. EVERY TIME, she spells it the conventional way because it apparently doesn’t matter to her to READ what she is being sent. One time, I was on the phone with my insurance company (which I had been with for twenty five years at that point!) and the person said, off-hand, “oh, that’s wrong!” and sure enough my next bill came to the incorrect spelling of my name. I had *several* substitute teachers who insisted I was spelling my own name wrong. People make exactly zero effort to figure out what people want to be called, and it is exhausting having to constantly correct them.

          I don’t have a solution for OP 3, other than correct people *firmly* – make it awkward if you have to! – and then refuse to respond to Jo, at all, ever, from anyone you work with. It MIGHT get the point across. But realistically, it’s possible you’re not going to be able to control it till you change jobs, because people are jerks about names. At least it’s not about transphobia, as presented?

          1. Siege*

            And I should note, the person I email had a variant spelling of her name that I have never had to be prompted to use. She apparently just doesn’t care how she makes others feel.

        4. Esmeralda*

          “What would you apologise for? ”
          Because it’s polite to do so.

          If I accidentally step on someone’s toe, I’m going to apologize even though I didn’t intend to step on them, because I did step on them.

          If I step on someone’s toe and don’t realize I’ve done it, and I find out later I did it, I’m going to apologize, because even though I didn’t know, I did step on them.

          I just don’t get why folks feel apologies are not required when someone missteps due to ignorance or accident etc. You misstepped! Apologize! It is the polite thing to do.

    3. Helvetica*

      Oh, yeah, I’ve been the “but they have never corrected me” person because really, some people do not want to correct others.
      I had a good colleague whose name was akin to Mary-Ann so I’d call her Mary-Ann and she never corrected me. Until two years later, she casually said that actually, everyone calls her just Mary. I was a bit embarrassed but she did say that she doesn’t care all that much.

      1. Despachito*

        I understand it is difficult to speak up, but if the person themselves do not correct their colleagues, how on earth should they know their preference?

        It definitely is nice and thoughtful if the coworkers take a hint and if someone signs “Elizabeth” and not “Liz”, call her Elizabeth. But I would not blame them if they don’t and call her “Liz”, and if she does not say anything, they may genuinely think that she is happy with “Liz”.

        I think this differs so much that if you have a clear preference you should tell people.

        1. GythaOgden*

          I think you should start on full name terms and then move to nicknames if the person is OK with that. The shortening of my first name coincides with a British term for toilet, so I’d prefer it if people didn’t go straight to nickname territory, and act accordingly myself. I’m not going to take it as a mortal insult, but I go either by my full first name or by my initial in informal contexts (or by my initialism, which is LEO, because who wouldn’t want to be a lion if they’ve always been a mouse?), not the…intermediate word.

          Like in languages that have formal and informal versions of the word ‘you’, it’s easier to start with the formal version and work down. There’s less chance of offending a Nick by calling him Nicholas than there is of offending a Nicholas by calling him Nick.

        2. Flower necklace*

          Agreed. I once sat through a meeting where a coworker was called the wrong name. This isn’t just a preference – I’ve been working with him for years and never heard someone call him that name. I had no idea that was his legal name. The coworker never corrected the person running the meeting. When I ran into him later, I asked him why he didn’t say anything. He shrugged and said, “Well, it’s still my name.”

          The person running the meeting was new. My coworker is actually a pretty well-known figure and often gets recognized during staff meetings. I always felt bad for the person running the meeting because she must have figured it out at some point.

        3. ferrina*

          It’s a joint responsibility. Obviously you shouldn’t christen someone with a nickname without checking with them, but if a nickname/pronounciation is commonly used, it’s a reasonable assumption that that is the person’s preferred name unless you hear otherwise (I’m not going to ask every Kate if she’d rather I call her Catherine).
          But if you aren’t sure if you’re calling someone by their preferred name, or just get a sense that they aren’t liking it, it’s a kindness and respectful to double check with them. “Hey, I realized I’ve been calling you Kate for years and never checked with you- do you prefer to be called Kate? Catherine? Something else?”

      2. Allonge*

        I think the thing here is to concentrate on what happens going forward, not to get stuck on ‘why did they never tell me’. Now they did and you know and that’s it. People get to change their minds about this, or get to a point where it does bug them enough to say something, and it’s really not about embarrassing others.

        And the more you focus on why they never told you, the more they think ‘this is why’.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        I had this experience the other way around. I worked with someone for a year and I pronounced the name one way and noticed my colleagues seemed to pronounce it another, but never heard the person say it aloud themselves and never heard them correct anyone. One day after a meeting in which probably 8 people pronounced it differently than I did, after I’d already been pronouncing it the way I always had, I slacked the coworker. I said something to the effect of “I’m embarassed to being asking this after we’ve worked together so long, but have I been mispronouncing your name?” They said “no, actually, I think you get it right”. which made me feel good for me but bad for the person since that meant everyone else was getting it wrong. But it seemed like this was not something they had the energy to keep correcting people on.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I think you can “combat” it by cheerfully saying “well that’s what he told me!” You don’t have to keep nagging them about it going forward if they don’t stop using the nickname, but if you make it clear that he explicitly said he doesn’t use the nickname, you’ve removed the plausible deniability.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      The one “good” thing about this issue is that the source is unlikely to be transphobia. People just like nicknames.

      I have an occasional problem that I introduce myself as “Christine” and some people just start calling me “Chris” without asking while others will at least ask to call me “Chris.” I don’t go by Chris, but also I simply won’t answer to “Chris.” That can be something Josiah can try; do not respond to Jo. For me it is life-long learning. I have a male relative who went by Chris. I attended a small elementary with two other female classmates with variolations of names whose first syllable was “Chris.” My recommendation is to #1 stop responding and #2 correct people every time they get it wrong with some version of “Josiah, not Jo.” Work out one you’re happy with, but be firm and do not soften it to a preference or only in a work context. They are ignoring your preference for your name so you don’t need extra kind or polite about it. Don’t be mean, but be firm.

      I worked with someone who would call me on the phone and say: “This is Nicholas” so I assumed that was his preference and called him Nicholas even though I think everyone else at work called him Nick. And then one time while he was there, someone asked my why I always called him Nicholas because “I sounded like some planation owner.” (Thankfully no one in this conversation was black.) But I still remember it well because I had strong feelings about this insult. I just said that he always introduced himself on the phone as “Nicholas” so I was following his lead, but then Nick didn’t take a stand. I do not know if he truly didn’t care what he was called while having a slight preference to introduce himself as Nicholas or if stopping people from calling him Nick was a battle he gave up fighting because it happened all the time. But as the person with a preference, you need to take a stand to make it happen. It may be harder now to train people to the “new” name after the nickname has gone on for a while, but you have to make it clear and be firm that you do not like Jo.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Also I have a nickname that I chose that I occasionally have used if there are several Christines in a group. (It is not Chris.) It ended up on my facebook page. A couple of people I know in real life have picked up on it, and I respond to it because it is an acceptable nickname to me and in my head it is a name that refers to me.

        Last week someone (an acquaintance of several years) asked me about it. He said, ” I asked “another closer friend” who said she didn’t know so I should ask you, but I’ve noticed some people call you “nickname” and other people call you “Christine.” What do you prefer?”

        That was fine and lovely. I was happy to be asked and admire his willingness to ask. I got to say, I prefer Christine but “nickname” is fine, but never call me Chris (and tell that story).

        I think asking even after knowing or working with a person for a while is fine. It’s their name. If they have a preference, they will really appreciate it. If they don’t have a preference, they won’t be offended.

    6. Observer*

      I usually get is “I call him that all the time and he’s never corrected me”… I don’t know how to combat that.

      “He doesn’t like it. He’s too polite to correct you but really does not like it”

      1. ferrina*

        Problem with this is I’ve worked with a few people who took a conversation out of context and miscommunicated stuff like this- I think some pushback makes sense. You can either relate or redirect them to the person!

        Relate: “Yeah, I recently learned this too! But his preferred name is [Name].”

        Redirect: “Yeah, he deals with it so much that he usually doesn’t correct folks if he doesn’t have, but if you ask him, he’ll tell you his preferred name is [Name].”

    7. starfox*

      It seems to me like there are certain names that always get shortened. Like, it’s just automatically assumed that they go by the shortened version. I’ve noticed this particularly with Nicholas, Christopher, Joshua, and Matthew. They almost never get called by their full name, regardless of how they introduce themselves.

        1. starfox*

          Yes, that’s another one! It seems to mostly be male names… Are there female names that do this, too?

  8. Raven*

    LW#1: Yes, raise it (especially if you have a good rapport with either boss).
    This has happened multiple times, has a potential impact on for your work and you have observed it when you were obstensibly in charge. As Alison said this last one is key, if you didn’t see it when you were in charge, it would have made sense to continue to ignore it (unless it had a work impact), but now it has you are likely to be seen as somewhat complicit if (when) it comes out.
    I guess one caveat would be if this is a thing multiple other people do (which I’m assuming it’s not as otherwise you would have mentioned), while you still should raise it, it would more depend on why your not raising it for anyone else doing the same.
    A more direct wording like Alison suggested would also be beneficial.

  9. Lizzianna*

    LW1, if an acting manager didn’t bring this to my attention, I’d seriously question their judgment. I don’t think you need to dance around the issue – any consequences fall squarely on Terry’s shoulders, and it sounds like he knows full well what he’s doing.

    I would just report what you’ve personally observed, including the conversation about Jane. Tell your manager that he left early in the afternoon the day you were in charge, and say, “it’s my understanding Terry’s shift is until 5, and it needs to be done on-site, so I wanted to let you know.”

    You can soften by saying something like, “let me know if I’m mistaken and I won’t worry about it next time I’m acting manager.” But I don’t think that’s necessary.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yes, this is enough to take away their ‘acting manager’ privileges over, imo. (Of course I’m assuming that would be a negative! – it would in the situations I’m familiar with.)

      1. Allonge*

        Even if OP would not want to play ‘acting manager’ any more, this is not the way to go about it.

        And totally agree with you and Lizzianna, OP, this is not going to look good on you. As a regular coworker, maybe you can look the other way, but in any kind of supervisory position, you need to make sure that your boss knows about this. Which is the line I would probably take, asking as if my assumption is that boss just forgot to tell me that Terry works from home in the afternoons as he left at [time] last time. After that, it’s on boss to address this.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          If they can’t be trusted to act in the company’s interest instead of covering up for their friend, they can’t be trusted with a deputy management position, imo.

          1. Myrin*

            And they aren’t even friends! They’re friendly but beyond that barely know each other which would make me question OP even more.

            1. starfox*

              It’s interesting to me because I feel like this sort of question usually earns a “mind your business” response from commenters here. Usually, I see “maybe he has to pick up his kids” or whatever when people are leaving early and not finishing work.

              But I guess the difference is that she’s acting as manager.

              1. madge*

                I agree but OP referenced a conversation with him where he made it clear he knew he was breaking the rules and leaving early.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yes, this is enough to take away their ‘acting manager’ privileges over, imo. (Of course I’m assuming that would be a negative! – it would in the situations I’m familiar with.)

    3. EJ*

      this could be an opportunity to ask for some management training… as in asking Terry’s boss “when I am in charge and notice that an employee tends to leave before they are scheduled, how do you want me to handle that?”

    4. blood orange*

      I completely agree.

      I’ve had a similar circumstance happen previously. A team lead was aware of another employee committing a different kind of time-card fraud than what is described here, and reported it to his boss. We ended up terminating the employee committing the offense. If I had learned that a manager/lead/etc. had known and not reported it, that would definitely have been a problem.

  10. Feline*

    OP1, my sister went through a similar situation. When HR investigated her coworker “stealing time,”every supervisor who was aware of it and did not intervene was formally reprimanded. The employee who was the guilty party was fired. The permanent black mark in her file prevented interfered with career advancemen, which ultimately led to her leaving the company she had been with over 15 years.

    That’s the background for my saying that you may be considered complicit. I wouldn’t risk it. Use an anonymous whistleblower line if you don’t feel comfortable speaking up in person. It’s evidence you can bring up to your defense if you need it later.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      I feel badly for your sister, but this is a good warning. Also, it’s even more incentive to NOT use a whistleblower line and to simply speak up to the manager (privately, of course).

  11. Djinna Davis*

    For LW 3:

    I wonder if people even think of it as calling LW “Jo” — they could just as conceivably, I think, be calling him “Joe”. You can’t hear the e presence or absence of an e in speech.
    That’s not to excuse it — you should be able to go by the name you prefer — but it may help to reframe it — and reduce any feelings of dysphoria or frustration — until you can communicate your actual name more broadly.

    I would consider enlisting the help of the colleagues you know outside of work, and asking them to spread the message that it’s Josiah and not Joe whenever they encounter it. And, like Alison said, correct people when they make the mistake, every time. You’d correct them if they called you Peter or Baphomet, and tell them they’ve made a mistake and your name is Josiah. This is the same,

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I think the point probably still stands that colleagues are likely considering the gender neutral name to be a male’s name. Quite possibly with the male spelling, if there is one. I get the impression it’s just disliked by OP for its informality too, as they are weirded out “by the same affectionate nickname that my partner uses”. So, I don’t think a mental respelling will dispel that, but it’s worth a go.

        1. Siege*

          But it doesn’t matter, because Josiah has indicated he would like to be called Josiah and his coworkers are ignoring the request whether he mentally spells it Jo or Joe. If you don’t like nicknames, reframing the name you’re being called to be a different gendered nickname doesn’t actually solve the problem.

          1. Observer*

            You are correct that people should just call him what he wants.

            But the people here are pointing out that the rudeness may have nothing to with transphobia.

          2. Ellis Bell*

            Oh, it absolutely doesn’t solve the problem; only being called Josiah will do for that. It might be useful in the interim though. Correcting people requires calm cheerfulness, and that must be awfully difficult to muster if you think you’re being misgendered.

  12. Anomie*

    Terry deserves to be reported and fired. He’s literally stealing from the company. Time card fraud. Yes, you do not want to be implicated in that.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      OP1 (IT person going awol) This isn’t an approach I would personally take, but one thing that would flush this out is if an IT issue (not intentional sabotage!) happened while he isn’t there, if you get my drift.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        But our IT guy works from home all the time. He can fix things remotely. Only install the f new computers requires his actual presence. OP should just be direct. “Boss, I was confused by something Terry said to me the other day about going home at x time. Is that something that is arranged with him and how do we contact him for IT issues when he is at home?”

  13. Storm in a teacup*

    #LW2 I think framing the reason as something that people just do, especially if the nickname is a very common one may help how you think about it.
    I had a friend who started at my company a few years ago and I had always called them ‘Jo’. The first time I saw them at work they proactively asked me to call them by their full name at work and the reasons why. They were very clear with everyone to use their full name with a simple ‘Josiah, not Jo’ the first few times people used the diminutive and it stopped after a short while.
    On the flip side I have a couple of colleagues who insist on only being called by their nickname as the only time they’ve had their full name used is when they were being reprimanded by a parent!
    TLDR: succinct but firm comment to use your preferred name should deal with it if people at your company aren’t d**ks

    1. JSPA*

      There’s often a, “so, you’re demoting me from friend to colleague?” aspect. OP #2 can head that off right up front: “Josiah, please, even with friends.” That encourages people to slot themselves into the “friend” category if they feel they belong there, while emphasizing, “Josiah, really, no opt-outs.”

      1. Ariaflame*

        It reminds me of a concept from a SF series I read, called “melant’i” which basically means that we all have different roles we have in life, and we should use the most appropriate actions for the role we are playing at that time. If you are acting as their co-worker then Josiah, if it’s outside of work then find out if they want to be Jo or Josiah in social situations.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I had a student called Stephen and I started slipping into calling him Steve. When I realised I was doing it, I asked him “do people call you Steve?” and he said, “no, it’s just Stephen.” I did have a few weeks after that when I was like “Steve..in.”

    3. Moonlight Elantra*

      I’ve gone by a nickname all my life to the point it can be kind of jarring to hear someone use my full name, and YES, I have absolutely assumed I was in trouble when my boss occasionally uses my full name, lol.

  14. Emmy Noether*

    #3 please do give them feedback, because some people never learn what are appropriate channels for different types of communication and it’s really annoying and can lead to problems. Please nip it in the bud while these students are still in learning-professional-norms mode.

    We have an external attorney that likes to communicate over Whatsapp. I really regret having given him my (private!!) number, but I assumed he would use it like a normal person (such as: “Urgent email incoming, could you reply by …” or “let’s meet in front of the courthouse entrance at…”). But nooooo, he will actually screenshot emails with legal questions I sent him and answer in Whatsapp. He will also send large attachments over chat. I have told him before that it’s my private number and to not do this, as I need the info on my work accounts, but he will. not. learn. I would like to yeet him into the sun for this and a variety of (unsurprisingly) other issues, but management won’t let me.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Speaking as the parent of a 19YO college sophomore who went through the last two years of high school in the pandemic–be kind, but PLEASE TELL THEM!

      Absolutely nothing has been normal for the current first through third year college students who all completed HS during the pandemic. Even if they (like my child) have a parent coaching them through professional communications/job searches at home, a professional reinforcing the right way to go about things is a reminder/confirmation.

  15. Metal Librarian*

    #3 – I’m having a similar problem in work; since last year I’ve started going by the long form of my name (initially for reasons related to my band) and have realised I prefer it. I now introduce myself by this longer name and sign my emails thus, but everyone still calls me by the shorter version and I’m not sure how to get across that I prefer [long name].

    1. Still*

      I think if you’ve previously used the shorter version, you’re going to have to be very explicit about asking people to change.

      If I’ve always known someone as Liz and I hear her introduce herself as a Elizabeth, I’m not gonna understand that she prefers people to call her Elizabeth, because it’s very common for people to introduce themselves in a more formal way, especially in a work setting, but to use a nickname day to day.

      I think you also need to acknowledge that there’s been a change because people are going to be confused otherwise: have they been getting it wrong all along without realising? I think this calls for “Actually, I know I’ve gone by Liz in the past, but recently I’ve realised that I prefer to be called Elizabeth! Could you please help me spread the word?” Then they won’t feel like the bad guy for having got it wrong, they’ll feel like the good guy for helping you get the word out.

      There’s an additional layer where nicknames feel more familiar, so people might take you wanting to call them Elizabeth as you communicating that you’re not as close as they thought. So I think it’s important to show that it’s not about that. I’d maybe even say “Actually I’ve fallen back in love with my full name and I would love it if people could start calling me Elizabeth, could you please help me spread the word?”

      1. Despachito*

        “Actually, I know I’ve gone by Liz in the past, but recently I’ve realised that I prefer to be called Elizabeth! Could you please help me spread the word?” Then they won’t feel like the bad guy for having got it wrong, they’ll feel like the good guy for helping you get the word out.”

        I love this, because who would want to feel like the bad guy? Moreover, it would not be fair because OP used “Liz” before and was OK with it, now wants to change it, which is OK but cannot expect other people to read her mind. I think the explanation is just perfect, and anyone who is not an asshat will probably want to comply.

      2. allathian*

        I have a nickname that only birth family members and a few aunts, uncles, and cousins are allowed to use, not even my husband uses it, although he has another nickname for me, which nobody else even knows about. In public, my husband uses my given name, as do all of my friends.

        My sister uses my nickname, and her former SO also did, which felt weird. It happened because they met when I was studying abroad, and my sister naturally referred to me by my nickname, so it stuck. At the time I was single, and because everyone else in my circle that my sister’s SO came in contact with used my nickname, he was the only one who wasn’t a family member who used it. I was uncomfortable with it, but at the time (25 years ago) I was much more of a people pleaser than I am now, so I never managed to ask him to stop, or for that matter to tell my sister to use my given name when she talked about me with people who weren’t members of our birth family. When she met her current SO, my husband and I were already dating, so my sister was more used to me being called by my given name, and I was much more confident about my wishes. Now she only uses my nickname if there are only birth family members present, and her SO uses my given name.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong in telling people that a nickname is only for family, with the implicit understanding that coworkers aren’t family. I’d even argue that the same thing applies to nicknames for friends, although there drawing the line can be a bit harder, and there’s a greater risk of offending the other person if they think you’re friends and you make it clear that you don’t agree.

        But even when you work with people who are also your friends, I think it’s okay to insist that the friends must use the full name in professional contexts and only use the nickname when you spend time together outside of work.

      3. Metal Librarian*

        Thank you for the advice! You make a good point about people introducing themselves more formally in a work context, so perhaps that’s what people think I’m doing. I’ll have a chat with my line manager and see what she thinks would be the appropriate way to bring it up (i.e. in a conversational setting with each staff member, or just making a post in the ‘Chat’ channel in our work messaging program so everyone knows).

    2. Ellis Bell*

      How about: “Oh, I’m phasing out [short name] and bringing in [long name].”, “I’ve started going by [long name] actually” or “You know what, I really do prefer [long name]”. I think you have to some sympathy for the fact it might be hard wired into people’s memories by this point, so you may have to say “It’s [long name], remember” quite a few times until people get it.

      1. J*

        Yes, this approach is so nice. My dear friend from school decided to go long form with her name. She threw in how she’ll often not respond to her short name anymore because she doesn’t connect it with herself and how she’d hate for anyone to think she was purposely ignoring them so she wanted to bring it to our attention. It was such a kind way of saying it, to make us think she didn’t want us to be ignored by her, when really we probably should have caught on long before. I’d been using full name and nickname interchangeably since I’d noticed her using long form more but hadn’t realized she fully transitioned her usage.

        I don’t think I would have been embarrassed had she called it out differently but she really wanted us to know this was a conscious change instead of just being open to anything and I think making that very clear helped the friends group to transition faster. Weirdly I still think of my childhood friend as nickname but my adult friend as full name and that’s helped me mentally parse the change faster.

  16. Safely Retired*

    On #3, you said “You don’t need to alert the hiring manager to it…” That is true in relation to individual students, but I would say that the hiring manager should be made aware of how many inquiries are coming your way. Perhaps there is something about the way positions are advertised that needs work.

    1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.
      Maybe it would be helpful to precisely indicate in the advert who students should contact, and how. Like, list the name and the appropriate points of contact:
      “For any inquiries please contact
      [b]First Name Last Name[/b] via
      [i]telephone number[/i] or
      [i]email-adress[/i] ”

      Apart from that, yeah, just direct students who happen to contact you via gchat to the appropriate channel and enjoy helping them to learn workplace norms :)

    2. Antilles*

      Good point. I think this comes into the audience who’s applying.

      I’m guessing the application instruction say something like “contact us at (gmail address)”. That would be perfectly fine language in most cases; anybody with a bit of work experience would automatically assume (correctly) that you mean “via email and not gchat” even though it’s a gmail address.

      But in this case, since it’s students who are very likely going through their first hiring process, clarifying the sentence to instead say to “email us at ___” might be a good idea.

      1. Rock Prof*

        If the whole campus is using Gmail, it might be that other campus stuff (professors, IT, etc) have been training students to explicitly contact them through Gchat. So they assume that, of course, any campus contacts can be done through Gchat. I’m at a Microsoft-using campus, and some faculty and offices definitely prefer getting messages via teams or whatever.

        1. KRM*

          This exactly. If the students are used to contacting their professors via g-chat, they’re likely to think “okay I need to gchat this person my details because I’m interested in the job” because that’s what they’ve been mentally trained to do. As said, a simple addition of “please email resume to X@gmail” should take care of most of the inquiries!

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          Yeah, for the gchat aspect of it all, there’s clearly a shift going on in that incoming generations tend to use mail and various chat platforms (gchat, Teams, Slack, Apple Talk, Whattsapp, even SMS texts) fluidly, with little differentiation in style and lots of jumping from one to the next. Google itself seems to favor this by integrating gchat into the gmail interface. I don’t think it requires a correction of any sort, just a “please send email to…” copy-and-paste of the form suggested above.

  17. coffee_Coffee*

    LW1: Can you request clarification on your duties when you are “in-charge”? If he is leaving when you are “in-charge” , it would be very useful for you know if you are responsible for approving or tracking his absences from the building. The fact that he leaves when you are “in-charge” but not the real managers is concerning as you may be seen as giving passive consent.

    Something like “I would like some clarification on my responsibilities when I am “in-charge”. Am I responsible for tracking or ensuring that other employees are on-site or not? I have noticed that Terry regularily leaves the work site after his morning shift. Normally, I would treat that as being up to Terry and his manager, but I wanted check about what was expected from me on the Fridays I’m “in-charge” and this leaves us with no on-site IT support.

    I think this leaves the speculation out of it and focuses just on what you are responsible for.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I think this is a good approach. If you are supposed to be in charge then it’s reasonavble for yu to know if someone has uthorisation to leave early too, so riasing it, explaining what you have seen and maybe even saying “on one occasion recently when I was not in charnge, he made a comment to me that that he was ‘trying to leave but she would definitely notice.’ which made me think that his leaving early hadn’t bbeen authorised – can you clarify and perhaps provide some guidance about our repsonsobilities on days we are ‘in charge’ in particualry with refence to people in other departments.”

      But I think since you are put in charge it becomes your responsibility to say something – but as he isn’t a direct report of yours it’s totally reasonable to ask your manager so they can deal.

    2. londonedit*

      I think this is a good way to approach it. And if the OP has any feelings about ‘getting Terry in trouble’ or ‘getting Terry fired’ then they should also try to put those to one side – Terry will be getting himself disciplined and/or fired thanks to the fact that he’s shirking on a regular basis.

    3. Curious*

      That’s an excellent point (let’s hear it for being caffeinated) even outside this particular issue — being “in-charge” could mean many things (and could not mean many things).

      Also, by asking the question this way, you could –if this would make you feel more comfortable — forego mentioning Terry’s name in the first instance, just mentioning that you’ve seen someone do this, and only name them when — and if– asked “who did this?”

      1. Observer*

        No, you could forgo mention Terry when you ask. I don’t think you should, but you could. But if your manager tells you that you are actually in charge of keeping track of who leaves or doesn’t / making sure that people don’t leave, then you need to tell your manager what Terry is doing, by name, even if she doesn’t ask.

    4. one L lana*

      This approach is good. It ensures OP’s manager gets the information but does so in a way that’s generous to Terry and isn’t passive-aggressive — asking this question suggests OP really does need some clarification on what being “in charge” entails, and that could apply to other situations beyond this one.

  18. Beth*

    Could you take a walk during your appointment and walk and talk? Not great in all weather of course. And, depends on how loud/crowded your surroundings are.

  19. Michelle Smith*

    LW5: Is your entire company/organization just 4 people? Or just your team? If your employer is large enough to have an HR, I’d consider applying for an ADA accommodation that would allow you to work from home 1 day per week so you can have a private space to do your telehealth appointments. I work from home on the days I have mine, so that’s really my best suggestion. The only other things I can think of are to take your appointment over lunch and go somewhere offsite, using a text-based service that might not be as effective, or speaking to your boss about adding white noise machines and possibly soundproofing the nap rooms.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Legally, OP may not be entitled to an ADA accommodation – from the letter, it sounds like they may be starting therapy as a preventative measure.

    2. Lapis Lazuli*

      This is actually what I did/am doing as well and had come here to comment that. ADA requires the employer to have 15 or more employees in the US (including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations). The threshold for a disability under the ADA guidelines is also lower than it is for, say, a serious health condition under FMLA.

      OP, if your employer is covered by the above, I would talk to your HR section and ask for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. If your employer is not covered, I would talk to either your manager or whoever may have the authority to grant you an informal accommodation and see if it’s something they are willing to work on with you. You could also request to take some extra time around your lunch to be made up later in the day/week and schedule in-person therapy for your normal lunch time. That way, the accommodation covers the travel time to/from appointments and potentially allows you to block the appointment (+ travel time) in your calendar so you have further standing to decline any meeting requests that may conflict with it.

  20. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

    LW #2- as a Cis-female named Elizabeth I have been called whatever nickname people want my entire career. I could be introduced to someone as Beth, and two minutes later that person calls me Liz. It happens in email, right above my signature and by people that have known me for years.

    I used to get really annoyed and frustrated, but it isn’t personal. I find with a common name with sooooo many nicknames, people call me by default the one they associate with the name. It isn’t about me. But it is annoying.

    So I would not necessarily take this as not accepting you and your new name, or micro aggressions (ask any Michael or Nathan who is automatically called Mike or Nate) but I would still take Allison’s framing to just simply correct matter of factor those who get it wrong.

    Good luck.

  21. Coffee Break*

    LW5: Please do not consider having therapy sessions when you’re around your coworkers or in your office environment. You would be subconsciously restricting yourself in speaking freely and if you had a difficult session you would have to face your coworkers immediately after.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      I mean, they’re literally trying to already but it seems like there aren’t available options. Also, Alison set up a pinned comment thread for advice for LW5

  22. Katie*

    The one caveat to number 4 is to think about how you are going to be covered if you are out. Does someone know how to do your work? I’d it documented enough that someone could middle their way through it?

    This is really something that every position in every company should have at the ready though.

    1. Morning reader*

      LW1, it sounds like you might be in a library. Where I worked, the senior person in the absence of a manager was “in charge” but I don’t think it included supervising other employees. It had more to do with the patrons, if a difficult situation should arise, the in charge person has authority to boot the patron out. Or if there was an emergency, who calls the police, or who coordinates gathering outside after a fire. Who signs for packages. And, who calls for IT level help when there’s a tech problem. So, clarify the duties related to being “in charge.” Separately, ask about the schedule of your IT person. Maybe their arrangement includes working from home. If it doesn’t, then, “oh, I was just wondering because he leaves every day after his desk shift, and I need to know the procedure if there’s an issue when I’m in charge and he’s gone.”

    2. Office Lobster DJ*

      I think this is a great suggestion for LW4. Working on putting together an amazing contingency binder would be an excellent way to prepare for the unknown. No one else even needs to know it’s there, but it may bring LW some peace of mind.

  23. I should really pick a name*

    You say you don’t want Terry to lose his job.

    I’m guessing what you want is for Terry to work a full day.
    That’s not going to happen unless Terry experiences some kind of consequence for skipping out early. That’s not going to happen unless his manager knows that he’s doing it.

    You can’t control what the consequence would be, but if he IS fired, it’s his fault for leaving work early (and from his comments, you know he’s aware that he’s not supposed to do this).

    You shouldn’t care more about Terry’s job than he does.

  24. JSPA*

    #4, I can’t think of a single condition that can be “wait and see” or else “instant surgery” that isn’t as common, or more common, as an unexpected emergency. From certain sorts of kidney stones to certain sorts of gallstones to certain sorts of aortic malformations (etc etc) people who are “watchful waiting” are outnumbered by people who have no clue they’re at risk.

    By having contingency plans, an awareness of what would be needed during recovery, a good plan to stave off the crisis in the meantime (and perhaps forever) you’re actually less likely to disrupt the office at length, than if you went into a crisis with no idea what might be happening.

    For that matter, the fact that you know you’re not 100% immune to major medical issues means you’re more mindful (a plus, and not only for the medical issue you know about; while you’re watchful-waiting over one thing, another thing is likely to crop up first.)

    As your cohort ages, at some point, most of them (most of us!) will be watchful-waiting on one condition or another (if not multiple).

    There’s no call to disclose. You’d basically be disclosing, “I’m human, thus a biological organism, thus subject to the messy complications of having a body. Plus, I’m enough on top of things to know what a subset of my risks are.”

    If you have something that could hit dramatically and put you in a state where you’re unable to communicate, get some sort of med-alert bracelet or card; that’ll work as well in the park or in the supermarket parking lot, as it will at work.

  25. Hiring Mgr*

    I’m kind of neutral on whether OP should talk to the boss about Terry, but one thing I’d advise is to get clarity on what it means to be “in charge” so going forward everyone has a better idea of what that means..

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I’m a rule follower so I’d probably report Terry because of that tendency.

      But in this case, Terry basically admitted to the LW that he’s frequently skipping out of work. No plausible excuse that it’s allowed. He’s now roped in the LW to being complicit. It is safer that the LW alert management about what’s going on rather than being potentially caught up the investigation when Terry is inevitably caught because it sounds like he’s not being particularly discrete and there’s the whole he’s the onsite IT support issue which has potential to blow up in his face. LW doesn’t want to be asked what she knew and then try to explain how she didn’t want this slacker to get fired.

      Terry is pretty outrageous. Leaving work when he’s supposed to be working in his office. Admitting to others as long as they are not “management.” I’d feel no need to cover for this guy,

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Exactly – I wouldn’t be surprised if Terry, when caught, blames everyone else for “knowing about it but not saying anything, so I thought I was fine.”

        1. Person from the Resume*

          And if what’s going on was misunderstood by the LW and Terry is approved to work from home or leave early, then the situation is clarified, nobody gets in trouble and the LW doesn’t have this stress.

    2. Delta Delta*

      I wonder this, as well. It’s also not clear if Terry and Terry’s manager actually have something worked out allowing him to leave and finish the work day from home. Given these, I think it makes sense for OP to ask their manager a) what does “in charge” mean; b) what’s everyone’s expectations for where/when/how they work; and c) if management could broadcast this information to the whole team.

      1. madge*

        Yes, throughout our divisions and teams, I’ve noticed a lot of people have remote privileges that are kept quiet. Our top dogs called everyone back from WFH, tons of people quit and are still quitting, and many people who are considering quitting have an arrangement (keeping them here) that very few people know about.

        Not sure it’s the case here since Terry mentioned getting away with something but it’s definitely a post-pandemic Thing.

  26. Hawk*

    LW2, do you have any particular friends or coworkers who do consistently use your nickname and would be willing to help you? When my trans sibling first changed their name, and later their pronouns, my husband and I were the ones who consistently corrected other people to take some of the burden off of them. Also newcomers can be great, too, because they don’t know your name history. You can even say “you might notice a lot of people call me Jo, but I really prefer Josiah, so please stick with that.”

    I also had a coworker start to go by his full name instead of the diminutive, and it took a long time for me to adjust. But I don’t think that’s an excuse for not respecting what he wants.

  27. SJ (they/them)*

    LW #2, I am sending you all my love and good vibes. It makes complete and total sense to me that the difference between the nickname and your full first name would be extremely fraught since they have different gendered connotations. You have my full, FULL understanding and support on this.

    Please go forward without guilt, injecting “It’s Josiah, actually” “oh, it’s Josiah”, “Josiah, please” in all instances. I do the same thing with my pronouns – I just interrupt people the second they use the wrong one. I don’t wait until they’re done speaking or anything, the second it’s out of their mouth I’m in there correcting them. That’s just how it is, if they want to stop being interrupted they can get it right. :)

    All my love to you once again. You’ve got this!!

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      I’m enby, go by my first and middle initial, and use they/them pronouns.

      I had a b!tch of a time at my current job when I started because they put my full legal name on everything. I just about flipped my lid. They had said they had to have my full name for payroll and tax reporting. Okay, I gave them my full name, plus a copy of my passport for I-9 forms. Next thing I know it’s all over my email address, login chat name, everything. It took me weeks to get it fixed.

      My legal name is very gendered – think “Mary Jane” – so I use my legal initials, like “MJ”.

      Now most everybody calls me by MJ… except one person in in HR who always addresses emails as “Hi Mary”. She usually emails me at the end of the day, so I don’t always twig that she has misnamed me until after I’ve dashed off a response. I suspect that she is also the one that put my dead name on all of my onboarding paperwork.

      I have to start pushing back, and I doubt it will make a difference, but it grinds my gears that I have to.

      1. SJ (they/them)*

        Augh, I’m so so so sorry you’re dealing with this. Yuck. Ew. Blech. Gross!!

        I hope things improve with the HR person. You have my sympathy and support!

      2. JustaTech*

        This was something that *super* bugged my husband when he became a manager: 90% of the company’s systems allow you to have the name you use (regardless of what your legal name is) and all the times they need your legal name (for HR type stuff) are hidden from your manager.

        Except in Concur (the expense software). Every time he approved an expense report for any of his reports, including the trans and enby ones, there was their full legal name. He felt it was incredibly invasive to see something that was clearly private.

        So do push back! Hopefully the HR person is merely clueless and not malicious, and will call you by what you want to be called.

    2. Gnizmo*

      I was going to suggest precisely this. Disrupting their train of thought helps share the struggle and get better results. It is best when others are helping you as well since people don’t often use your name to your face. It can lead to escalation by people who want to make it a problem, but calmly repeating the rationale keeps you looking like the rational one.

  28. cabbagepants*

    LW#2 — Nicknames are definitely a “choose your battles” type issue. This is important to you, Josiah, so great, fight it! I mean it in the nicest way, though, that this is likely going to be less important to other people than it is to you. The fact that you went by Jo previously is going to make it extra hard: people have learned that Jo is your name and so it’s imbedded in people’s brains. It’s not because they don’t care, it’s not because they’re transphobic, it’s just because we tend to care more about ourselves than others do. It’s the human condition.

  29. Falling Diphthong*

    #1, if he’s caught while you stay mum, Terry will not hesitate to toss everyone who knew and did nothing under the bus. “I thought it was fine because I told OP! She should have corrected me!”

    1. JSPA*

      #1, I’d send Terry an email explaining that, absent further clarification from above, his leaving early won’t fly with you, either.

      “Dear Terry;

      I’ve been thinking over your throw-away comment of [date]. I’d been assuming that your occasional early exits were something agreed upon between you and [your grandboss / his boss], presumably having to do with flex time or WFH or some other remote duties.

      Your saying that Jane would not approve now has me revisiting that assumption. If you plan to leave early while I’m in charge, please first have [your grandboss / his boss], or someone further up in the organization, confirm to me that this is an approved arrangement. Until I let you know that I’ve had the situation clarified, please don’t put me in an awkward position by leaving early when I’m in charge, either.”

      Is there still a risk that he would…I dunno…fake a note? Forward a faked email? Sure! But then he’s on the hook for something that’s clearly at the level of immediate dismissal, not only because it happens to be against the rules, but because it’s deeply shady. (It’s also much easier to prove.)

      But it’s also possible that he’ll actually either stay at work, or get official approval.

      Or that he has official approval from someone upper level (or by way of an official accommodation) but he knows that Jane refuses to believe that this is so.

      (Maybe Jane’s like the person who refused to believe that a small dog can be a service dog–not obviously confused until you realize she doesn’t believe documentation, or thinks she needs to know all the details, for an accommodation to be valid, or whatever.)

      The fact that one can log out remotely makes me think that someone in the organization is less butts-in-seats about the setup than Jane is; places that want people present until logged out don’t tend to have no-fault, no-explanation needed, invisibly-remote, remote log-outs.
      Unless that’s something he’s created for his own benefit, without direction from above? In which case, we’re back at hugely “egregious and intentional misconduct.”

  30. Dr. Rebecca*

    OP1, agreeing with the others that you should clarify what being in charge means. IMO, if no one who outranks me has *told* me that I’m in charge, I’m not.

  31. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

    LW1: I was in a quasi-similar situation recently. I am working with another department on a website redesign. We had a meeting set with the external vendor to discuss graphics and website functionality. I checked and double-checked everyone’s calendar. I set the appointment. The person in charge of the website accepted the appointment.

    The day-of, she was teleworking and….didn’t show up. At all. (It was a Zoom meeting; our vendor is located something like six states away from us). I muddled through the meeting as best I could (I don’t have the background to make decisions about this website; I’m honestly just the bus driver keeping the project from driving off a damn cliff.)

    When the meeting was over (and it was painful), I emailed her, her boss, my boss, and the other people who should have been in the meeting and said, ‘Hey, coworker, sorry something came up for you and you weren’t able to make the meeting! Here’s what we discussed and decided, and here are the next steps. Since no one from the Llama Breeding Group was present, we weren’t able to make as much progress as we would have liked, so we’ll need to schedule another meeting. That’s going to cost $X, which impacts the overall project budget by Y%. I’ll check calendars and get something scheduled for the next meeting. Thanks!’

    Do you know what happened? Shit hit the fan in a whole bunch of ways, but none of it came down on me. Coworker got called across the carpet by her boss, my boss thanked me for handling the meeting as best I could, and the project management got shifted around.

    Coworker’s plan had been to skip the meeting, pretend she had attended it, then blame me and my team when the project wasn’t on-track (she doesn’t want to do the project at all, which is a whole separate conversation.)

    But if I had let it slide, I would have been putting myself and my team on the hook for the project being wrong.

    1. KRM*

      I am fascinated by the “pretend she had attended it” part of this. How was she possibly going to do that? The clients knew she wasn’t there. You knew she wasn’t there. How was she planning to pretend she was there? My mind is blown by this.

      1. Myrin*

        Right? I’m feeling secondhand vindicated through this story but I am scratching my head about coworker’s (lack of) logic here.

      2. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

        As far as I can tell, she was going to tell her boss she had attended, and then when the project didn’t go according to how her boss wanted it to go, she was going to throw me and my team under the bus.

        Essentially, her boss wants the Llama Breeding Program website to go in Direction A, and coworker wants the website to stay in its current Direction B, so she is deliberately sabotaging any and all progress on the website going in Direction A.

        She was counting (erroneously) on me not calling her out on her absence. She has previously bullied other people into covering for her failures; she assumed I would as well.

        I did not.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          Yes, I think your coworker assumed that
          • No one would immediately report her absence
          • Direction A would eventually fail (as she wanted) but then it would seem too late to defend the team by reporting her absence
          I’ve seen the above happen.

          You handled the situation perfectly!

        2. Observer*

          As far as I can tell, she was going to tell her boss she had attended, and then when the project didn’t go according to how her boss wanted it to go, she was going to throw me and my team under the bus.

          Seriously? Do you guys not record Zoom meetings of this sort? Not even the attendance?

          But even without that, she was just going to say that and expect that it was going to be accepted when you said “No, she wasn’t there” and the vendor backed you up? Did she expect that no one was going to notice this extra meeting that happened because she wasn’t there?

          1. Polly Hedron*

            My guess is that she thought the meeting would limp along without her well enough that no one would bother to call an extra meeting, no one would “tattle” about her absence, and management wouldn’t really care about that ridiculous Direction A plan.

      3. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        In my experience, these people rely upon no one doing the checking up. They rely upon you trusting that everything is going according to the rules, and that you won’t rock the boat by asking inconvenient questions.

        I had an ex-friend who played everyone in our friend group against each other in a divide-or-conquer scheme to keep us all loyal to him, but not each other. It worked for a few years because everyone was determined to play nice and not rock that social boat he’d built. He made up reasons to explain why people kept leaving the group and threw quite a few under the bus, to pre-emptively discredit them when he suspected someone was on the way out, as well as talking negatively about them when they were gone from the group. But, eventually, people noticed that others kept dropping out of the social circle under similar sets of reasons, began comparing notes, and that whole house of cards came tumbling down for him. But it all worked great for him as long as no one wanted to be the one to make waves.

      4. J*

        I had a coworker who was doing this at my last job, a legal nonprofit. I’m an admin/paralegal and she knows because of my disability that I take very thorough notes and that I often shared them with the team as a courtesy. She started thinking she didn’t have to attend and could just read my notes. She had one-on-ones with her manager so she’d just read back updates I documented and neglected working the cases on her own (I found this out later) while I was meeting with them completely unaware she was going to bail on the meeting. I’m not an attorney so I couldn’t get too far in discussions and the cases would stall so she’d blame me to her boss.

        I started not sharing notes because I suspected something like this and actually started pre-building shells for all the legal documents she’d need to make for the client, knowing she’d never check the file to start working the case. Her boss went offline for a while on sudden medical leave and it all got exposed during that time/when boss briefly returned. Boss ended up basically being asked to resign. Then management told me to keep letting attorney do nothing as she wasn’t technically licensed in our state and she should have been supervised closer. I didn’t really mesh with that management style so I left. She’s still there and still hasn’t even gotten provisional licensure in the state. I can’t figure out to this day if I’m more angry at her or the organization.

  32. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#2 — In my experience, nicknames can be very, very hard to uproot. I once had a colleague, “Katy,” who sent an email on the all-staff list to the effect that, as of X date, she would be switching to “Katherine.” It worked, but she was someone with whom you Did Not Mess.

    If making a formal announcement like this would fly in your organization, it might be worth trying. Then go ahead and follow Alison’s script, but don’t be discouraged if it takes time to retrain everyone. A polite, but firm, “My name is Josiah” will eventually get the message across.

    1. JustaTech*

      I have two friends who I call by the shortened versions of their names, but their wives call them by their full names. (I’ve known them longer than they have known their wives.)

      It felt weird to call them by a more diminutive name than their wives use, so I asked each of them, privately, what they want me to call them. Both said they prefer the shortened version (somehow their full names have turned into pet names?), but I felt better for asking.

  33. bopper*


    I had a friend “Michael” who when called “Mike” would say “I go by Michael”.

    “I go by Josiah”.

    I think AAM would say after a few times of that you could say “I have told you a few times that I go by Josiah but you still call me Jo…is there a reason you keep doing that?”

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep. And do it every time, don’t let it slide because it feels awkward. You have no reason to feel awkward about going by your correct name.

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I’ve got that. I’ve got a name with a common nickname (think “Elizabeth” and “Lizzy”) and sometimes people just use the nickname. If I’ll never see them again, I often ignore it, but when I need to correct someone, I just say, “I use Elizabeth”. And then I say something about how the only person who calls me Lizzy is my grandmother. It makes the point quite well and having the follow-up statement means that the other person doesn’t feel put on the spot or needing to respond. And sometimes we all joke about family nicknames. It works for me.

  34. elien*

    LW1, is it worth asking Terry about tech cover when he goes home? You might learn that it is actually a situation his manager knows about or there is a plan in place. And if he doesn’t have a good explanation, you could then say you will bring it up with your boss to clarify the situation. I feel like it would be kind to give him a chance to change his ways before he gets in trouble.

    1. Alan*

      The time to redirect Terry would have been when he first told the LW what he was doing: “Terry, you can’t do that. It’s mischarging and if the boss finds out, we’ll both be in trouble”. Given that that ship has sailed, I would not tell him you’re going to the boss because that just prompts him to come up with excuses and/or preemptively blame the LW: “Hey boss, Dorothy told me it was okay to leave early and clock out on the way home. Just wanted to let you know.”

  35. Just not Kathy*


    As a Katherine I feel for you. I personally prefer Katie or Kate, but the number of people who pick another version of my name is unreal. Let’s not even get into the number of people who spell it wrong in an email when they’re responding to an email that has my name spelled properly.

    As for the transphobia situation, I obviously can’t speak for your coworkers and your situation. I just want to assure you that this is very much something that happens to cisgendered people as well.

    We had a guy at my job who would shorten literally any name. Seriously. He found a nickname for everyone and he thought it was charming. I know it drove some people insane. Like people would tell him “my name isn’t Sam it’s Samuel” and he wouldn’t stop. Hopefully none of your coworkers are that guy.

    1. KatEnigma*

      I am a Kathleen that goes by Kathie.

      I get Katherine, Kate, Katie, Kitty, and Kat. In all the various spellings. It’s like people have mental blocks about names. My husband’s grandmother didn’t like nicknames and once yelled at him to call me Catherine instead… I was Quite Firm with her.

    2. Kayem*

      Also a Katherine. I got Katy as a kid and was forever getting it misspelled or being called Kathy. Every nickname I’ve tried to get people to use has backfired or reverted to Katy. So I now stick with Katherine as much as possible. But there’s always that one coworker who insists on making a nickname…

  36. Martin*


    Were your boss I would doubt your judgement if you didn’t report this information.

    Please, care about your job, not his.

  37. EmKay*

    OP #2, you’re going to have to speak up to get people to stop calling you Jo. My name has only 3 syllables, but it can get shortened to the first one. I hate that nickname. When colleagues at my old job started calling me that nickname, I made it a point to tell them individually “please don’t call me that, I hate it” and 99.9% of them stopped immediately, without question :)

  38. alienor*

    #4, I don’t think I’d disclose a condition like this purely because I wouldn’t want people regarding me as a ticking time bomb–especially when it might never become an issue at all. If you use shared drives at work, you might create documentation ahead of time so that if you have an emergency, someone can find your processes and the people to contact for specific projects (probably everyone should do this regardless of their health status; I’ve had coworkers in the past who had unexpected heart attacks, got hit by cars, etc) and just let your manager know “hey, if you ever need to know X, the file is here.”

    1. Making up names is hard*

      this. dont tell your manager, but do take it as personal motivation for making sure documentation of your work and organization of files is up to snuff.

  39. Cataclysm*

    To the Josiah OP — it’s 100% reasonable that your hackles are raised, but since you seemed to be wondering if there might be some transphobia at play, I have a similar situation to yours from the other perspective. A trans man I know took his gender-neutral nickname and backronymed it out into a longer and more masculine name post-transition, and my understanding is that he deliberately chose his new name for continuity. I directly confirmed with him that he still uses the nickname post-transition. Your Jo/Josiah example is actually very similar to his situation in that his nickname is 1 syllable and his full name is 3 syllables and a fair bit more formal-sounding, and I pretty much always call him by the nickname because his full name sounds so formal. (Now I’m a little worried, so I may sprinkle in a usage or two of the full name the next time I see him). With your situation and with other people calling you Jo, I’d probably have assumed the same, that you deliberately picked the name Josiah so you could keep using Jo as a nickname, and I’d be horrified to find out that by using it I was contributing to a feeling that your transition wasn’t being accepted. (I’m guessing you may have actually picked a similar name in hopes that it would be easier for others to switch to using it/for you to adjust to be called that?)

  40. Observer*

    #1 – Coworker leaving early.

    I want to highlight something. If you just knew about it, but it wasn’t causing you issues, I would say that you don’t have an obligation to report it.

    But “I also was the “in charge” person a few days ago (on a day with no managers in the building) and can confirm he left the building after his public desk shift even though he was scheduled to be in the building the whole day. This poses an issue as he does our in-house IT and would be needed if we had a tech issue.” totally changes the calculus.

    For one thing you are “in charge” and that includes making sure that people are where they are supposed to be. So, you could start by saying something to him, but if he continues to do it when you are “in charge”, you HAVE to report it. Or you could go to your boss now, because it may not be practical for you to know when he is leaving at the moment he is leaving, to tell him to stop.

    Also, this DOES have the potential to affect you. And, it’s just a matter of time before it does. At which point any reasonable manager is going to want to know why you didn’t bring this up sooner – much like they would want to know why you didn’t tell them about the “check light” going on in your company car before the car died on the road. This is not about “tattling” but about highlighting an issue that needs to be addressed.

    And, I’m going to echo everyone else who says that if he gets fired, it will not be YOU who “got him fired”, but his own actions.

  41. KatEnigma*

    LW3: The only bright note I can say is that I know this feels like a form of deadnaming, but it’s so tediously common. Yes, it might be transphobia, but if you knew how many times I fight this as someone with a totally normal cis name… My preferred nickname can be short for a couple longer names – people are forever deciding to be more formal by using the long name that isn’t my name, using a different nickname entirely, or shortening the nickname. People are kinda jerks about names.

    I can only suggest being less casual and more pointed and firm about the correction. Including reminding them “I have asked you to call me Josiah instead of Jo” when you have asked them repeatedly. I am not suggesting you be a jerk about it, but there is a tact to take that is between casual and a jerk.

  42. BCC*

    LW4: I’d urge you not to disclose as it could be used either intentionally or unintentionally to make a termination decision. It would be totally illegal but also nearly impossible to prove. Remember, especially if you are working for a smaller employer- there are few protections and if you’re in the US it would be a double blow- long absence on short notice PLUS increased health insurance costs. This is something you should keep to yourself.

  43. Six for the Truth*

    LW2: as a trans person, I’m going to go in against the Elizabeths, Katherines, etc. in this thread who are saying this probably isn’t transphobia.

    It very possibly is – not for all of your colleagues, and in some cases in a more oblivious way than a hateful way – but it’s probably a factor, especially if your first few corrections haven’t helped.

    Is your manager in your corner on this? Are you being introduced by that person as Josiah?

    Because if not, I strongly advise you to make sure Josiah is at the top of your resume and the bottom of your cover letter template, and start fishing for a role with a manager who isn’t a coward, a clown, a transphobe, or otherwise inadequate.

  44. Alan*

    Re LW #1, for those of us who are often “in charge” but without regular authority, it can be awkward to assert yourself. I’m a team lead, and occasional temporary supervisor, but I have no real line authority, and I’m a little bit of a people pleaser, so I’ve had to force myself to say “You can’t do x” or “Please change how you’re doing x”. It doesn’t come naturally to those of us who are conflict-avoidant. But whenever I’ve done it, people follow. So maybe LW #1 needs to work on acting the boss role when they’re actually in charge.

  45. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    LW 1 — It’s of concern if someone’s leaving for all of the reasons others have mentioned … but also, what is the protocol for fire drills? We have a roll call set up so that we know who has gotten out of the building in the case of emergency. Someone should know that they don’t have to send first responders in to find them.

  46. XF1013*

    OP2, a lot of commenters are advising you to enlist a few friendly coworkers to help you train everyone to say Josiah, which is great. But if I were you, I’d take it a step further: Assuming that your boss is reasonable about this, I’d ask for their help in enforcing the correction. Have them notify your whole team, by email or in the next team meeting, that everyone is to call you Josiah and not Jo any more. And have the boss correct anyone (inside or outside your team) who calls you Jo. It will probably be more successful if it comes from management as a directive than from coworkers as a mere reminder. Good luck!

  47. JaneLoe*

    I am a mental health therapist and I regularly see clients while they are seated in their cars and we work together remotely each week that way. This includes clients who are in the parking lot of their workplace, and is fairly normalized at this point. Please don’t take any advice about insurance billing and instead contact your insurance company directly for specifics. Also, a highly qualified professional should have a billing person or administrative person that can answer questions for you (but even still, the best place for accurate information is directly from your insurance company).

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      The letter writer says that they use transit to get to work, so the sitting in the car thing is a no-go for them.

  48. PotsPansTeapots*

    #2- I feel for you! I prefer to use my full first name in business settings, but many people call me by the same nickname my family uses because my full name is “too hard to pronounce.”

    Alison’s advice is good. Be polite, but very firm with people. Enlist understanding co-workers if you can.

  49. Gigi*

    OP #5: Try out Zencare. That’s where I found my therapist. I like them because you can put in all of your info (insurance, what you want to discuss, etc) and they filter out who works for you. Because the last thing you want to do when you need therapy is a ton of research. Look for someone in a different time zone so that they’re open when you’re out of work. For example, I’m on the east coast and if I got someone in California who could work with me, it’s still their business hours when I’m home. Good luck! Therapy changed my life, so I tend to get evangelical. I hope you get what you need.

  50. fhqwhgads*

    I think #1’s instincts are mostly in the right place. When they had only heard about this thirdhand, they had nothing to report. They were right to initially be concerned it might’ve been a prearranged thing that was none of their business. But now that they have a firsthand account, and a guilty-sounding one at that (if it were an accomodation, there’d be no need to be concerned about a particular person noticing), it makes sense to go to management. The sounding confused approach is also a good instinct, in case there is more to it that OP isn’t privvy to. I agree with Alison’s tweak to the wording.
    That OP is concerned for the coworker’s job shows them to be a compassionate human. No need to protect the person here, but feeling feelings of not wanting to seriously affect someone’s livelihood is a good thing, as long as you don’t let it overrule your instinct to do the right thing, which is report it.

  51. Widget*

    LW#1: Ugh, I see why that’s tough. Assuming you’re working at a library, there’s always that question of “did they come early/stay late and are take flex time now? are they at an off-site meeting that I didn’t know about?” and wanting that culture of trusting people to handle their off desk time appropriately. I think Alison’s modifications to your language are good. If the answer turns out to be”yeah, there’s a system-wide ILS meeting that Terry is now part of that will now have him out of the building X hours a week,” I’d still want to know “if we have a critical IT incident during that time, what does that look like now? How do we get a hold of Terry?”

    For the non-library people here, it’s worth noting that most places, being the “LiC” or “Librarian in Charge” doesn’t mean a lot in terms of managerial authority, often only that you fill out the incident paperwork on evening/weekends until a manager can come in on Monday to deal with things. And in places where there’s a multi-library system, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to have a “de facto IT team” meeting from the different libraries at another location.

    1. Jayess*

      it did sound *very* library to me as well, and I’m going to throw in my vote with everyone saying that it’s ok and right to check in with your manager about this situation.

      if you’re LiC, or Building Supervisor etc, you’re also in charge of fire safety at my branch. if Terry is sneaking off site/leaving without permission, there’s a safety aspect to be concerned about too.

  52. Dawn*

    LW2: Fellow trans person here. It’s going to suck for a bit, but Alison basically got this one exactly right; I just want to add, correct them IMMEDIATELY, briefly, and consistently.

    After several whole years of not being able to get some people who’d known me longer to switch my pronouns, I started making instant, one-word corrections, and doing it every single time.

    Factoring in how often I actually see them, it really only took a few days to get everyone on the right track that way. I’d tried everything else; nope, interrupting them every time they said “He,” with a succinct “She,” fixed it in no time flat.

    1. ElleKay*

      ^ Ditto.
      And if you can get others on board with these corrections it will go faster.
      My sister is trans and I still find myself interjecting “she” in the middle of my parents’ sentences now and then.
      20+ years of habit is hard to break but it can be done!

  53. North Wind*

    I don’t get why people are weird with names.

    I recently joined an online freelancer networking group – it’s a chat room. My handle, which shows up with every message I post, is my full name. I introduced myself with my full name. Yet most people, when addressing me, shorten it. And it’s not overly typical to shorten this name.

    For example, if my name were Liliana, folks might call me Lil or Lilly.

    In fact, one guy sent me a private message about collaborating on a project, and asked me, “Do you go by Lil or Lilly?” I just said, “Oh I just go by Liliana”. It’s just a weird thing to do, though. I’m really careful to check the spelling of a person’s name when addressing them in writing.

    1. Dawn*

      I think there are some regional cultures where it’s so common to shorten someone’s name to the point of being ubiquitous; I grew up in a small town and it took me a while to shake this off, because using a shortened form of someone’s given name was simply the done thing. This also dovetails with regional accents sometimes; some of them foreshorten everything in the interests of flow.

  54. Kayem*

    #2 I understand completely how frustrating this is. Alison’s advice is good, it will just take a very long time to reach everyone. And until the last person stops calling you Jo, you will have to be ready to correct someone if they slip up. It might feel rude to do so, but it’s even ruder to keep calling someone by the wrong name.

    I know it’s going to be frustrating and sometimes feel like it’s not worth the effort. I now live in a town where several family members also live and it’s so hard trying to get people to call me by my professional name instead of the family nickname I’ve hated all my life.

  55. Annie Warbucks*

    LW#2 – for comic relief, I’d be tempted to get a pack of name tags. The ones that say: “Hello! My name is” and write JOSIAH and wear it until people start getting a clue. It might take a month or two, I’m sorry, but you could tap the name tag vs correcting people every other 3 minutes. Or you could try an email signature/concept of “Josiah, the Teapot Manager PREVIOUSLY known as Jo.”

    Seriously, I’m sorry I can’t help, I’ve only had one co-worker who has routinely messed up my name, think “Anna” vs “Annie” and I sorta brush it off. That’s about the only interaction with me, he has so I don’t think much of it. He doesn’t really “mean” anything to me, so I don’t bother with extending energy, but if it was 20 people who called me Anna . . . it’d be harder to shake it off, I’d think.

    The only other issue in regard to names I have is a co-worker who likes to call people by their gender, “Miss Lilly” or “Mr. Brent” and thankfully she doesn’t with ME. I am NOT a Miss or a Ms! But I’m not sure if I should really be calling her “Naomi” when everyone else refers to her as “Miss Naomi.” We’re nearly the SAME age and she tends to NOT call the women who are younger than her “Miss” it’s just the older women. Hence the entire concept feels weird.

  56. ElleKay*

    #2. You have to just keep correcting them, everyone, every time. No qualifiers; just say “it’s Josiah. Thanks.”

    I have an ex-coworker named Andrea “Ahn-drea, not Anne-drea” who made this distinction every time someone pronounced her name differently. Up to and including when being introduced at events where she was speaking or receiving an award! It might be a little extreme but you can be sure that I (and everyone else) remembers which kind of ‘Andrea’ she is.

    (Alternately: My mother intentionally named me with a one-syllable name that doesn’t have a built in nickname for this exact reason. My Mom “Suzanna” has spent her whole life being automatically called “Suzy”. She hates it but surrendered years ago. When it came time for kids she made sure we were “Rose” and “Emma” so we wouldn’t have to deal with it.
    For some reason, when the nickname/shortened version is so clear, people just opt-in on instinct)

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