dog rampage in the office, temps accused me of bullying, and more

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

1. Misbehaving dog rampages around the office

About four months ago, we were asked to return to the office after two amazing years working from home, first two days a week, then Monday through Thursday.

We are a five-person design studio with three associates who own it, and one of them got a dog, Pepito, about a year ago. The dog is an absolute nightmare. The owner has tried a bit of training with the help of a trainer, but I don’t see much effort (or authority) on her end to actually correct her dog’s behavior. He chews on everything, bites people when we walk around the office, loves to counter surf (and any other surface for that matter), and plays with loud toys and with a dog that another person that works here brings sometimes (even that dog gets tired of playing with Pepito and has to be locked up). I am completely in awe that neither of the other two associates say anything to her about it and just normalize everything the dog does.

This has made the work environment completely dreadful to me. The constant yelling at the dog trying to make him stop the shenanigans he is always up to, being alert when I have lunch so he doesn’t try to eat it and that I don’t get attacked when I’m finally leaving, etc. is causing me stress. We always have a meeting at the end of the year, and I thought maybe I could bring it up at that time, but I’m unsure of the best way to discuss this because I am also planning on asking for a raise. Do you have any suggestions for this situation? I feel trapped, and I am seriously considering (if I don’t get a raise and this dog thing continues) looking for another job.

Because the dog belongs to one of the owners, your options may be limited. But do any of the other owners seem annoyed by the situation? If you’ve ever seen signs of that, talk to that person! Otherwise, is there one of the owners who you have an especially good rapport with and who you know values your work? You could talk to that person, explain how disruptive the dog is, cite the specific problems he’s causing (biting should be at the top of that list since that could create legal liability for the company), and ask if they can talk to Pepito’s owner about keeping him at home (or at least getting him training).

Alternately, you could try alerting Pepito’s owner every time the dog is misbehaving — “Jane, Pepito is biting people, can you keep him in your office?” … “Jane, Pepito is chewing on wires, can you keep him in your office?” … “Jane, Pepito is digging through the trash, can you keep him in your office?” … etc. But that sounds exhausting, and I’m not convinced it’ll change anything, given the pattern so far. You could also try a more straightforward “It’s really hard to work with Pepito rampaging around and getting yelled at so often” — but how well that’ll go over depends on what the owner is like and how they deal with messages they don’t want to hear. Their total lack of consideration isn’t encouraging, but there are some people who are this oblivious but are still willing to change things up once someone tells them they need to. This person may or may not be in that category.

You’re probably better off using one of those methods rather than bringing it up at the year-end meeting; with the latter, there’s too much risk that others won’t chime in with support (especially if taken off-guard without time to prepare) and you’ll end up looking like the only one who has a problem with the situation. It might turn out you are the only one who objects, and if that’s the case, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to stay in these conditions or not. But raise it first and see if anything changes. (Also, this conversation should be totally separate from your raise conversation — one has nothing to do with the other.)

Read an update to this letter

2. Two temps accused me of bullying

Last year we were very much a toxic workplace and I’m the only survivor. I didn’t find a new position before the current manager quit, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

My grandboss become my boss and HR assigned him some one-on-one time for outside coaching, as my boss flat out lied about him on her way out. She started out saying she was going to take his job and when that didn’t work moved on to a “burn the place down” mentality.

We got behind on our regular work and starting using temps. We’ve been through 13 temps in a year, not counting the three we currently have. Two became full-time in our department, one full-time in another department, and a few didn’t last a whole day or only a couple of days because they didn’t like the work or they found full-time work outside of our company. However, two have now left, personally attacking me and calling me a bully. I know I’m a little warped from surviving the toxic phase, which is why I have sought out opportunities to work closely with other departments and attend trainings to reset my mindset. Both temps have had similar issues of being late, preferring to play on their phones, and parking in our visitor parking and having to be asked repeatedly to put their phones away or move their cars. Expectations are set up front for phone usage, parking, and a set 8-5 schedule.

The most recent one was this week, and I got a horrific six-paragraph text attacking everything from my looks, my current/future children, my profession, and my childhood. I know that isn’t all true, but it was extremely hurtful in the moment. But I am concerned about having two now refer to me as a bully. As far as parking, I’ve always asked (after HR told me there was an issue), “Hey, are you parked in visitor parking by any chance?” and once they confirm I’ve asked them to move their car and gently reminded them that they need to park in general parking. For phones I’ve asked, “Oh hey, whatcha working on?” and if they responded that they didn’t currently have anything, I’ve found them work and asked that in the future they let me know when they’ve run out of work. If they currently did have something, I’ve asked them to put the phone away so they could concentrate on the task.

I’m not a new manager but I am a new manager at this company. My promotion was only a partial replacement of my boss and I’m working on a master’s degree to fully qualify. I’m worried I’m going to put time and effort into additional education that I didn’t really want and then I get told I’m no longer eligible because of complaints.

Am I off-base? I’ve only asked about parking when HR reported to me there was an issue. I’ve never singled anyone out in a group setting. I’ve only asked what they were working on when the phones stayed out over a 15–30-minute period or they were watching videos/TV on them. The only way out of my office is to walk by everyone and I am up and down all day either for meetings or the bathroom (hello pregnancy).

When someone attacks your looks, your children, and your childhood, the problem is with them.

None of the actions you described taking sound unreasonable. That doesn’t mean there’s not more to it — for all I know, you could be a terrible manager in all sorts of ways. It’s possible you are a bully; I can’t say that you’re not, but the stuff about parking and phone use certainly wouldn’t qualify. Could there be other stuff going on? Sure, there could be. But someone who attacks your looks, your children, and your childhood is someone of terrible character, with terrible judgment. Their assessment of you shouldn’t carry much weight, because they’re out of their gourd.

It’s still worth getting feedback from other people you manage, since you’ve now had complaints from two separate people and especially because you note that you know working in a toxic environment has warped your norms. There could be real work you need to do to change how you manage (stuff that might have nothing to do with the parking/phone issues). It’s important to find out. But it sounds like at least one of the two people who accused you has their own severe toxicity issues, and you’ve got to factor that in too.

Read an update to this letter

3. What do people who work in offices do?

I have only ever worked at non-office jobs (Kroger, waitressing, currently a hospital employee, etc.) and it seems like an overwhelming number of people who write to you work in office jobs. So, what is everyone doing? I feel like I’m ignorant of a whole other world.

There’s no way to give a comprehensive answer to this, so I’m just going to list out everything I can think of in 60 seconds to give you a sense of the breadth of the types of office work: writing, editing, pitching clients, servicing clients, creating marketing campaigns and materials, analyzing the effectiveness of those campaigns, raising money, designing and building products, software engineering, writing product documentation, analyzing legislation and regulations, training, gathering data, analyzing data, building and maintaining websites, benchmarking costs, assessing legal risk, issuing invoices and ensuring they’re paid, paying bills, running payroll, tax compliance, procurement, managing transportation logistics, processing claims, making financial projections, accounting, medical coding, sales, lobbying, developing public policy, processing orders, managing grants, writing and managing contracts, writing legal briefs, planning events, managing supply chains, evaluating programs’ effectiveness, designing curriculums, managing investments, doing the administrative work that supports all of the above … and that’s barely scratching the surface!

You’d probably find it interesting to look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website, where they list just about every job you can imagine, divided by category, and give info about each of them.

4. Does LinkedIn need to match my resume?

For the first time in many years, I am searching for a new job. As a 40+ woman who has generally worked administrative jobs, I am concerned about ageism. The resume I plan to use is one page long, contains the last 15 years, and leaves off my college graduation date. Since LinkedIn is my public/online resume, the information on my LinkedIn should match the resume I’m using — is that correct?

It doesn’t need to. Obviously you shouldn’t have conflicting information on LinkedIn, but it’s fine if LinkedIn contains more info than your resume does and vice versa. In your case, where you’re specifically trying to avoid age discrimination, you might choose to tailor LinkedIn the same way you have your resume, but there’s no rule that they must match in general. (In fact, it would be really difficult to have them match if you ever tailor your resume for the specific job you’re applying for, since you might have multiple different versions of your resume depending on what skills and experiences you’re emphasizing for any given job.)

{ 522 comments… read them below }

  1. LindaPinda*

    Holy cow, Alison! If that’s what you came up with in 60 seconds, I can barely imagine how many more you’d do in two or more minutes.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Once you get going the list sort of writes itself! I notice that each item she writes is loosely related to the one before it – it’s just stream of consciousness. There are SO many office jobs.

    2. Pudding*

      I would LOVE to see and participate in an open thread dedicated to people describing a day in the life for their specific jobs.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Alison has done several interviews with people who have unusual jobs – the most recent one was a decision coach and I seem to remember someone who worked in a brothel in Nevada. I love those pieces.

        1. Indigo+a+la+mode*

          The EAP interview was also super helpful, I’ve referred people to it at least twice at my own work!

      2. RA*

        I work in the film industry, and am virtually never sitting, much less at a desk. So much of the good management/ coworker stuff I read here applies to us too, even though so few other kinds of work look like ours! I always wish there was a whole week dedicated to the weird issues that come up in the film industry though.

  2. Pennyworth*

    LW#2 – have you shown the text attacking you to your HR? It would make clear the sort of people they are, and reduce the credibility of anything else they might say about you.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      My first thought as well – please show that screed to HR/boss/whoever is hiring the temps. That attacking email is Not Okay.

      And if it’s a temp, the agency sending them out needs to know – because that could also damage the temp agency’s reputation as well (because they are sending this person out – and if they don’t know about it it could cost them clients).

      1. Alice*

        Agree. I dont understand why op is taking this to heart and not just immediately passing along to hr and the agency as it’s so outrageous!

        Attacking your childhood and looks indicates your temps are just not a great calibre (morally or professionally) – perhaps the agency has given up screening people given the high turnover and is just sending you people to “fill a seat”.

        1. Emily*

          OP is likely taking this to heart because she has been working in a toxic work place that has warped her idea of normal. I agree that OP should show the texts to whoever is in charge with dealing with the complaints about her.

          1. GythaOgden*

            OP may well be dealing with the fallout from other people’s idiocy. It’s frustrating to be in a position where you have to implement other people’s whims and tangents but have no say in what those are. We’re struggling right now with unresponsive, out of touch senior management slowly eroding our ability to do our job, and it’s exhausting for us to have to explain to people why we can’t do what we used to do for them but have little practical ability to put it right.

            That doesn’t mean people who should know better and have left kindergarten should be doing what they’re doing to her. Most of our colleagues have been understanding of how we’re having to fight to get anything done, but the few that yell and stamp their feet make it much harder to be sympathetic. If they yelled and stamped their feet at national management (who they pay rent to), we might get somewhere, but they yell at us, and then have to go and do their own work, and so nothing gets done except a gulf of anger and resentment opening up between us and someone who, in my case, used to be a close, considerate colleague.

            I’m giving management one last chance to help me transfer out of this place to somewhere else nearer home, then I’m uploading my CV to a job board and just washing my hands of this clusterfudge. But I’m not going to unload that on my senior managers, because that just means I stoop to their level. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            And because when something is so personal it’s just hard not to. Even if you know intellectually this person has discredited themself and their opinion is crap – frankly it just hurts.

            1. Office Supply Hoarder*

              This. I’m surprised more people haven’t recognized this. No one likes to be personally attacked, and knowing that we should let it roll off our backs isn’t the same as actually being able to do that.

          3. KatEnigma*

            Also, LW is pregnant. Hopefully Alison’s answer and our comments will help her put it into a different perspective.

          4. Hannah Lee*

            Emily, that’s a great point.

            Seeing OPs description of what had gone on leading up to the current issues with these two really bad temps, and then describing the current issues, TBH it got hard to follow the situation …. It was hard to see the narrative through the clouds of bees.

            And then a line from the wonderful BBC radio comedy series Cabin Pressure popped into my head (imagine a high pitched panicked yet serious voice from Benedict Cumberbatch)

            “Bees! Carolyn! Lots of lots of lots of bees!
            I don’t think I should move. I don’t think the bees would like it! ”

            I think what is going on in OP’s mind is something like that. That workplace has been swarmed by so many bees for so long, it’s hard for OP to see a clear path to do anything, even when faced with such obvious bad workplace behavior coming from temps.

        2. Poppy*

          I worked in a severely toxic environment at my last job. HR was the boss’ wife. One incompetent assistant tried to get me fired because she was insecure. I mean actually telling people in our tiny office that’s what she was trying to do. I spoke to our office manager about the issue (who had bullied me herself by playing really hateful talk radio right outside my office because she thought it was hilarious) she said the assistant cried and she couldn’t do anything about her attitude.

          I can’t blame OP for feeling trapped and like no one will help because in these places it’s often that you just get more blowback. Heck I got pretty nasty blowback working at a major hospital for reporting sexual harassment!

        3. Fishsticks*

          OP has Toxic Workplace Trauma. I’ve been there – it’s almost impossible not to take everything super super personally afterward because you have spent months or years on constant flight-or-fight-or-freeze mode, and it’s hard for your body to get back out of that state of constant low-level simmering panic.

          1. JSP*

            Agree about reporting the abusive temp.

            Something that may help reset from the toxic environment is to be aware of habits that may have developed in there. I notice OP was pretty indirect about handling the temps not doing what they’re supposed to, for both the phone games and the parking. Instead of “what are you working on?” at minute 30 of video watching, it’s better to intervene at minute 1 and say “we don’t do that in this office.” Ignoring it for 29 minutes and then saying something sends a confusing message and could come across negatively.

            1. WillowSunstar*

              As a former temp, I don’t understand the mentality of looking at your phone at work. I would’ve been fired from many temp jobs had I done that. Of course, I also learned how to act busy even if I wasn’t, because that was also survival. Temps who didn’t know how to act busy got laid off early.

            2. MigraineMonth*

              I don’t know if I’d intervene after the first minute. Every study I’ve seen shows that office workers have a limited amount of highly-focused productive time in them (as little as 3 hours a day!) regardless of how much time they’re in the office. “Cyber-loafing” after completing a task is completely normal, and actually seems to help focus by giving the brain a break.

              That’s not to say that they should be spending 40 hours a week playing Candy Crush on their phones, but 10-15 minute breaks throughout the day aren’t really an issue.

            3. NeedRain47*

              I agree that 30 minutes is too long, but please do not say “We” when you are scolding someone, it’s incredibly condescending and passive aggressive. Just ask them to stop.

              1. LittleMarshmallow*

                I agree with that. Honestly, I have a temp right now that sometimes gets a little too much phone time. Much of it is my fault for not keeping him busy enough and making sure he has a list of things to work on that arent necessarily time critical but need to be done when he has down time on other project work. I recognize that and work to make sure it doesn’t happen, but if he slips because I slipped, I respond with, “I’ve been seeing too much phone time. I know things got a little slow this week, so I’d like to reset for next week. I’ve got some new tasks for downtime next week and some reminders of some existing ones to help with that.” Now that approach won’t work with all temps (I’ve seen all kinds…), but with this one I find it effective.

                Oh, I’ve also had temps where downtime was fine… they’re watching equipment or taking a reading every 5 min so they just have to sit there and wait… I have definitely allowed books and word puzzles and the like for those types of tasks (for us a lot of times they take place where they can’t have a phone because of safety – so books are a good alternative).

        4. Jackalope*

          I think some of it might also be that there were TWO people who made this allegation. It’s one thing to have a single individual allege that you are a bully, but when two separate individuals do so then it feels more plausible.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I agree, but I think it says more about the temp agency and the quality of people they’re sending out (or the expectations they’re setting, or something else). We work with a temp agency and there’s definitely some consistency in who we get. Variations, of course, but they know what they’re getting into and have a similar temperament generally. I’m side eyeing the temp agency really hard if this is the level of maturity and professionalism they’re consistently offering.

          2. Claire*

            At first I was inclined to agree, but the problem is that the word “bully” has been so watered down and overapplied that it’s basically become a catch-all term for “You told me I couldn’t do something or told me I had to do something I didn’t want to do, and I don’t like that.” Even ten or fifteen years ago I’d have taken it very seriously if two temps said one of my reports had bullied them; now I’d only take it moderately seriously, and if I hadn’t seen anything to indicate that my report might do something like that, the burden of proof would be on the temps.

            I kind of hate saying that, because workplace bullying in the traditional sense really does exist and it’s awful. It’s just that there’s no word to describe it now that the actual word “bullying” has been defined so far down.

          3. Empress+Matilda*

            I saw that too, but then I wondered if the two temps were acting together? OP wasn’t clear if it was two separate incidents, or one incident involving two people.

            Either way, the rest of the advice stands. Show the email attacking you to HR, and get some outside feedback on your managerial style just in case. Also it couldn’t hurt to start job searching, because this place sounds awful.

            Good luck with all of this, and your pregnancy!

        5. Observer*

          I dont understand why op is taking this to heart and not just immediately passing along to hr and the agency as it’s so outrageous!

          It’s still a very personal attack. It needs someone with some distance to call out how ridiculous it is.

          perhaps the agency has given up screening people given the high turnover and is just sending you people to “fill a seat”.

          And maybe the high turnover is due to poor screening by the agency.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            “And maybe the high turnover is due to poor screening by the agency”

            That’s the scent I’m getting off this

          2. MigraineMonth*

            OP did say the workplace was toxic. It may be that the temp agency tried providing its best workers, but they quit rather than deal with that environment. So now they’re just sending whoever, knowing no one is going to stay long anyway.

            1. Observer*

              It was toxic in the past, but the OP says that there have been significant changes.

              Also, the OP commented below, and it’s clear that at least part of the problem was that the agency had started off without doing appropriate screening – not even for the relevant skills.

          3. Samwise*

            Because it’s very hard not to take things like this to heart.

            I’m an exceptionally good teacher. Top evaluation scores every semester. I remember very very clearly the negative comments I received 25 years ago (I could quote them to you).

            Rationally, I know those were outliers. But it took a really long time not to feel personally upset by them.

        6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          As someone who has been there – pregnancy hormones at times can really mess with you.

        7. LizB*

          I actually think it reflects well on the OP that they’re sincerely considering whether they are, in fact, a bully, knowing their workplace has been toxic and that their behavior will have been warped by that. In this case the accusations are absolutely not worth taking into account, because clearly the people making them are wildly unreasonable! But in general, being open to reflection about one’s behavior is a great quality to have as a manager, and getting a gut check from a trusted source (Alison) is a good tool to use when you know you’re coming from a weird place.

          So, the fact that OP asked the question makes me think they will be an excellent manager as they learn and grow. The answer, however, is: OP, this person is way out of line and you should take their outrageous behavior to HR.

      2. London Calling*

        The personal attacks are completely out of order and should be reported both to HR and the temp agency; their reputation is at stake if they are sending out people like this.

        Although as a former temp of several decades, I have to say that getting through 16 temps (including current ones) in a year is a lot – how big is your company? It’s possible that your office is so toxic that even the temps are picking up on it and being affected by it.

        1. EPLawyer*

          I caught that too. the one temp is unhinged. But temps not even lasting a whole day is REALLY UNUSUAL. If they don’t like the work, they at least stick out the day. Because if you are a temp, you only get paid for the hours worked. Walking out on a job means 1) you don’t get paid for the rest of the day and 2) the temp agency might be less willing to place you because you are now unreliable.

          So OP, please consider what Alison said about your own behavior. I am not saying you are a bully. But HOW are you asking if they are parked in visitor? Then what is the tone of your voice when you tell them to move. You might be so used to the tone of your office that you might not realize that it comes across as bullying to others.

          You have to set your whole approach to normal, not only your reactions but how others might perceive you.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Two comments below this one is one from OP essentially confirming what she wrote in the letter, that the temps were way off base.

        2. Observer*

          I have to say that getting through 16 temps (including current ones) in a year is a lot – how big is your company? It’s possible that your office is so toxic that even the temps are picking up on it and being affected by it.

          I was wondering about that. Is the problem that the workplace is that toxic? Or is the temp agency doing such a poor job of screening? Or perhaps a bit of both? ie Poor screening on the agency side and poor management (both of the temps themselves and the agency relationship) on the employer side.

          I suspect the latter, because this temp is clearly not OK, but the OP’s management also needs some tweaking. Not that there is anything remotely bullying in what they describe. But it does have some significant problems. So I’m thinking that the agency is not doing a great job and no one at the OP’s employer is going back to the agency to work with them on getting better tamps.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            I’ve worked as a temp and did so because I was highly mobile at the time and needed to be able to find a job and leave a job really quickly. Any time I left a temp job, it wasn’t about what I did or the job environment, but that I was actively leaving town. So a good proportion of the turnover could just be neutral.

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          I’ve worked temp/contract since the early 80s. There are two types of agency, IMO – one just sends out warm bodies that sorta meet the recommendations if you squint hard at their resume, the other actually screens and interviews people, then sends them to you to interview. If you aren’t interviewing for these positions, the first type is what you’re using.

          I have “left at lunch” after talking to my agency at a couple toxic, total mismatch jobs. I have noped out of really bad fit, noisy, toxic or creepy environments after a day.

          You need an interview step between the agency and them starting work. Because otherwise you’ll keep getting mismatches like this if it’s not a job that just about anyone can pick up in a day or two. Even if it is, you might want to interview for “fit” and work ethic anyway.

        4. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          Ehh… sorta. Three of the thirteen are now with OPs company full time, so they obviously liked what they saw, and a “few” found permanent employment fairly quickly after taking the temp job. So they’ve really gone through 7-8 temps in a year. Which is, on the one hand is a lot, but on the other hand… they’re temps. A lot of people do temp work because they don’t want to stay in one place too long.

          They have three temps now, so if we assume that’s “normal”, the other 7-8 were there for several months each on average. That’s a pretty long stint for a temp, I think? My ex did temp work for a couple of years once, and I feel like she was rarely in one office for more than a couple of weeks.

        5. LittleMarshmallow*

          I would’ve said that a few years ago when our temp track record was losing one of every 10-20 or so in a weird or sudden way… but we recently started using temps again after a couple years of not (Covid and such), and I’ve gotta say… I believe 16 in a year could be a totally normal number right now. We hired 4 recently (about 3 months ago), one was a no show, one quit after like 10 days (and a ridiculous 10 days it was), one quit after a couple months (he did the scathing review thing via text to his manager as he exited like LW had happen – and it was completely out of left field and will not be taken seriously by anybody), and after 3 months we only have one left. He’s awesome and I hope he’s enjoying his time with us, but man, keeping 1 out of 4 in 3 months is a pretty easy way to get to 16 in a year.

      3. Miette*

        Was coming here to say just this. Temps are hit or miss at the best of times, but when they flout the rules you’ve kindly reminded them that all employees must abide by and send personal attacks to their supervisors, the agency needs to know it. Being a temp can really suck–I’ve been one–but it’s no excuse to act this way.

        1. Not+So+Super-visor*

          I’m seconding this. I finally convinced our VP to stop using temps because it was way more work than it was worth, and we now do direct-hire only. We frequently had temps who lasted only a day or a partial day. We also had totally unqualified people brought in by the temp agency (think people who couldn’t type being brought in for a data entry position).

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Most temp/contract jobs now for me have as much interviewing as a full time job. Then again, although the agency is still a temp/contracting firm, I am not just a body making minimum wage.

            Used to be an agency would go over my skills and such, do a few tests (typing, MS Office knowledge, etc.) and do a quick interview for job match before sending me onsite. Now, contract agencies interview, then pass you along for a full set of interviews with the client. Blind placements are rare now. I think this shifted around 2000.

            1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              I think there’s a difference between temping and contract work. As an IT person I’ve done “temporary contract work” a few times in a way very similar to what you describe. It was a 3-12 month contract that was really more of an extended paid audition for a full time job. The hiring company was highly involved in the process, etc.

              My ex-wife did temp work for a couple years back in the late aughts that was much more “temp”. She’d replace a receptionist who was on vacation for a couple weeks or an admin assistant that was on maternity leave, that kind of thing. Very often the agency would get called the day of because someone had the flu or something and would be out for the next four days. It was much more agency driven and seat of your pants.

    2. OP#2*

      Yes, I did show the text to our HR and she forwarded it to the temp agency. Ya’ll it got crazier! We boxed up the temp’s personal items and she video called other temp in the office after she picked up her box to claim general office supplies were hers and had been left out. We gave her the paper sorted tray thing since no one else wanted it and she seemed to have formed an attachment. We also asked that she contact the agency directly for any further concerns. She then told the agency we hadn’t returned her personal space heater and I put my foot down and said no as it wasn’t her’s and had been borrowed from another employee.

      We had 3 slots to fill with temps doing data entry and the temp agency wasn’t doing any screening in the beginning. We normally have manufacturing slots to fill and several of the people that didn’t work for us would work on the floor. Once we got the temp agency to understand the person needed to be comfortable being on a computer and doing light math, that part got much better.

      I did talk to my boss who thought the text was so crazy it become funny. I ended up sharing it with a couple coworkers outside my department who were defensive of me and reassuring that it was completely off base. I shared with a few in my department (I only manage half of it) and they said the temp was extremely off base. One had witnessed the last time I had ask for her to put the phone away and said she wasn’t sure she could have been as civil as I was or walked away from the temp picking a fight like I did.

      One that I manage came to me after hearing the drama and reassured me she was way off base too. This person sits in the corner and really sees or hears anything that goes down in the department.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        That (temp agency having a poor understanding of the actual needs) tracks and explains a lot about the turnover.

        When I was readying for maternity leave, we were interviewing temps. It was obvious after the third straight interview that the agency had a very poor understanding of what we needed, and had decided that “woman in construction firm” = “oh they need a receptionist”. Not what we needed at all. We wound up switching temp agencies entirely because we needed someone with a specific technical ability in addition to basic computer skills, not someone with office administration/accounting background, and the first agency could not provide.

        1. London Calling*

          I can relate to the agency having a poor understanding and just wanting a warm body in to get the fees. The worst one was when I was sent to do an audit (I’m not an auditor).

          1. Sara M*

            I was a 16-year-old nerd girl, and they sent me to literally throw lumber at a lumberyard. I had to launch armfuls into a bin six feet in front of me.

            That was the only job I ever left at noon, calling the office to say I couldn’t do it.

            (At least the big guy next to me was really nice about it and didn’t make fun of me.)

            1. Hannah Lee*

              When I was a teen outdoorsy nerd girl, 5′ tall with zero sportsball experience or interest since my playground kickball days, I was assigned the job of assistant to the assistant of the coach of a high school boys basketball team, which involved helping with drills and skills training, handling towels and other laundry from the locker room …. while the team was using it, equipment management (the bag of basketballs was as tall as I was, wider than I could get my little arms around, so I wound up trying to drag it behind me when I needed to move it).

              It was such a phenomenally bad placement that even I at my meekest, most obedient, “most good girl try to go along to get along and do what is asked of me, I’m sure it will be okay if I just try hard enough” stage of life went back to the guidance person who did job assignments after only 2 days to get a new assignment.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        We’ve had similar issues at Current Job with temps and the agency not understanding (or being obtuse) about the roles, leading to absurd turnover. In our case, it’s manufacturing only, and it seems like one agency we were using told them it was light warehouse work – not heavy manufacturing. Of course a good % get here, see the facility, and leave! It’s not what they signed up for. We’ve also had some absolutely outrageous people show up that we’ve walked out… like more than 3 people who get here and immediately start trying to sell cocaine/heroin/meth. To their new supervisors. We also had two new temps who started a fist fight in the break room because Relationship Drama. And we’ve had multiple temps try to take random equipment home when they’ve walked themselves out or have been asked to leave (including fall arrest harnesses? what are you going to do with those at home???).

        Some temp agencies are really, really not great to work with. All this to say, I absolutely commiserate with the Temp Drama.

      3. Dragon*

        If a client needs a temp with knowledge or skill in a specific area, the client needs to specify that up front so the agency doesn’t unintentionally send someone who really can’t do the job.

        I went to a data entry job which a previous temp had washed out of. One needed to know the basic terminology of the client’s industry, and it happened that I did. But the agency didn’t ask me if I did, and the client indicated to me the previous temp had not.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          And sometimes the Temp Agency just ignores what the client is telling them they need. I’ve done temp work in the past and had to leave one agency because I found proof they were just sending “whoever to fill a hole” without looking at the client requirements.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Exactly. We’re running into that with the agency we’ve been using for years for temp to perm hiring. They’ve gone through a couple of recruiters with us… the first two we had no problem working with … the job descriptions and skills requirements we provided gave them all the info they needed to understand the kind of candidates we were looking for … just about everyone they sent over was in the ballpark, even the ones who might not work out for whatever reason.

            The new person that got assigned to our account 6 months ago? He’s a lot of talk, little listen, keeps veering from what we’ve asked for, and seems to send whoever he’s got no matter what the fit is for our position, saying “he’s a good worker and a quick learner” And he wasn’t either. I’ve spent time giving the recruiter feedback, we want this, not that, the key skills needed are x and y, consistently, verbally, in writing, so it’s not for lack of trying with him. There isn’t a single time I’ve spoken to him that hasn’t caused me to want to – headdesk- (The way he repeatedly refers to women as “gals” and then fake apologizes for it … yuk)

            After dealing with him for a couple of months, I finally posted a ft position directly on a recruiting site, using the exact same job description and skills requirements and had a new and really good employee onboard within 3 weeks.

            I called the recruiter to close our req with him, he’d heard who we hired through the grapevine and says “oh yeah! Claire, she’s great! I’ve placed her at several clients who loved her work. She’s been looking for a good temp placement for a while” And all I could think was “so why didn’t you send her to us as a candidate then? – her skill set and experience was a perfect match for our requirement” Dope!

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Hence why I left that agency – I was tired of being sent on things that I couldn’t do, and didn’t like the way it was reflecting on me.

              I had worked with a branch of that office in another state, and they were awesome. But that office was the worst.

        2. Jojo*

          The client also needs to be willing to pay for the level Temp they need. I was a temp who was brought in to replace another temp who wasn’t performing to the standards the client needed. Thing is, they were only willing to pay for the lowest tier Temp, and that just wasn’t going to cut it. They got lucky with me, because I couldn’t type fast enough/accurately enough to make it to a higher tier, but I was really good at what they actually needed. Good enough they they hired me, and I’m still there 20+ years later.

      4. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I’m so, so glad you showed it to other people and got grounded perspectives. I’m sure it hurt to get such a personal attack but it sounds like absolutely Not Your Problem and I hope your coworkers reassurance has helped you move past it.

        I also hope you’re looking into a new temp agency.

        1. ferrina*

          Yes, very glad you were able to get more outside perspectives! That was great diligence on your part, and it sounds like you are doing everything right and better than anyone else could. This isn’t your fault- this is more bonkers that is part of the system. If you ask, most temp agencies will give you an opportunity to interview temps (usually a 30 minute phone call to get a quick impression). I’ve dodged a few issues that way, but things can still slip through.
          Good luck!

      5. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’m so glad you got that positive feedback from your coworkers! That must be such a relief!

        But that temp sounds utterly ridiculous. I’m glad she’s gone!

      6. ErinB*

        I’m glad to hear that the temps are gone and that you’ve been reassured by your coworkers.

        Your description of the temp having formed an attachment with the paper sorter made my morning.

          1. Empress+Matilda*

            I still feel the loss of my Beloved Uniball Signo, so you’re not alone. (The pen is still available, but the specific colour is not.)

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              I love my Uniball Signo in purple-black! The current are purple, not purple-black, and I am a bit sad.

            2. Andraste’s Knicker Weasels*

              Oooh, what color? Mine is the Signo DX (either 0.28 or 0.38) in black-brown. I would love it if they made the retractable in that color, but heads will roll if they ever discontinue the color completely!

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I love, love LOVE writing with a new Sharpie–they just glide along like a skater, all smooth and perfect.

      7. Ama*

        Years ago it was my job to find temps whenever the kitchen/housekeeping staff at the grad school I worked for were taking PTO(we had a small onsite cafeteria). We went through a string of really unsuitable temps –many were clearly not prepared for kitchen/cleaning work, and then there was one memorable dude who HAD worked in a kitchen but told our (female) chef as soon as he met her that he “didn’t take orders from women” (he was sent home immediately). My boss then had a conversation with our temp agency rep and found out they didn’t really understand what the role entailed (someone there had written down “admin assistant for kitchen” and were focusing on the “admin assistant” part).

        Once they understood what we really needed things got slightly better — it would have been better if we’d been able to switch to an agency that actually specialized in food service/housekeeping work but we were constrained by the larger university’s contract with this temp agency. Still it took us from “people who had to be sent home early because they were totally unsuitable” to “people who were adequate and sometimes actually good.”

      8. Veryanon*

        I’ve been a temp, managed temps when I worked for an agency, and now sometimes use temps in CurrentJob. I can fully attest that a lot of times, the agency doesn’t do much screening at all and just sends a warm body that vaguely matches what they think you need so they can keep the business.
        I was heading up a big project last year, and needed a lot of temps in a short amount of time with a very specific skill set. I insisted on seeing resumes and doing quick phone screens (15 min or so) before they sent anyone out, which prevented some turnover, but several temps dropped out in the first couple of weeks because they got full time jobs. It’s just the reality of working with temps that you’re always going to experience a good bit of turnover for various reasons. Factor into this that this labor market is extremely tight, and so the people who go to temp agencies would often not be your first, second, or even third choice if you were hiring them directly.
        Also, this temp sounds deranged, which I’ve also seen occasionally in my experience in dealing with temps. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

        1. Heffalump*

          the agency … just sends a warm body that vaguely matches what they think you need so they can keep the business.

          I can relate to this from the temp’s viewpoint. For a couple years in the early ’90s I was a temporary word processor. My previous job skills had been obsoleted by technology. My issue was that the agencies gave me the strong subjective impression that I would get plenty of temp work–there was plenty of work out there, and my WP skills were very good, not just OK. And then I didn’t get even enough work to live on without drawing down my savings. After a couple of years of this, I wrote to someone who ran a webpage similar to AAM. At this point I was extremely bitter and angry and made no bones about it.

          The woman with the webpage was kind enough to give me a personal reply. She said, “Many temp agencies see the temps as interchangeable bodies. The really sleazy agencies see their own on-staff employees that way.”

          Luckily, I received an inheritance from my late aunt and was able to go back to school and make a career change.

          1. Veryanon*

            I worked for a temp agency for three years in the late 90’s, which I often say is more like 10 years in regular professional experience. I worked for a very reputable agency whose name you would recognize (it rhymes with “smelly”), so we actually did put some effort into testing peoples’ skills, providing training, and making sure that the people we were sending out were qualified and able to do what the customer wanted. But even then, the X factor we couldn’t control for was people who were just flat-out loons but presented as relatively normal during the face-to-face interview process.
            Now that everything is online, I don’t think agencies even do face to face interviews anymore; I don’t think they ever meet the people they send out on jobs.

            1. Sara M*

              Ditto. I saw some weeeeird things when I briefly managed a temp agency. I was horrified at how many people would beg for a job, then just… not show up. (and not even have an excuse like a broken down car)

            2. Curmudgeon in California*

              One of the worst agencies for sending out warm bodies has a name that means cloned workers in the Honor Harrington universe. Both my spouse and I have worked for them at one point, and they regularly sent us out of things like inventory or moving stuff when we were office workers.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Yay! There’s another Honor Harrington fan here! I’m currently reading the War God series also by Webber.

                But I’m not coming up with the term your referring to – which book is it in?

              2. Not your Admin Ass(t)*

                Oh, my gosh, you’ve no idea how much vindication you’ve given me almost twenty years later! Back in the mid-00s, I moved to a new state, so I went to a Manpower temp agency since I didn’t know the local work scene. The woman assigned to me flat-out lied about the job she was sending me to (I told her “I’m here to learn new skills so people will stop pigeonholing me into X jobs; I will not do X work anymore” and she sent me on that exact assignment, claiming it was Y job.) She lied to the employer, who thought they were getting someone who wanted to do X job. When the employer and I realized the deception and mutually agreed there was no reason for me to stick around, she “punished” me by offering me the worst possible assignments every week from then on and bragging about how awful they were, none of which I accepted.

                When she threatened to “fire” me from her “service” for refusing three jobs in a row, I got the pleasure of hearing her voice deflate when I told her that I had just taken a job that I’d found on my own and wouldn’t be dealing with her anymore anyway. (And it was true! I’d been offered the position not twenty minutes before she called that final time! :D)

                About two years later, during a time when the economy went squirrelly and temp agencies were in super high demand, that was the only temp agency in the area that went out of business. Guess being a lying awful little jerk didn’t pay off so well for her. :)

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      If someone is actually a bully, the person calling them a bully should be able to identify the bullying behavior. E.g., we had a workplace bully and he would accuse me of working for the other side, among many other things (IAAL). I quite believe the problem is with the temps especially given that screed. But if you were just asking them to act right without screaming at them, calling them names, deploying constant sarcasm or the like, you’re fine and they just don’t like to work.

      1. Ah Yes*

        YES. It seems like calling people a “bully” has become a knee-jerk reaction for many people when someone is just holding boundaries. I work at a big company managing many employees (many of whom are fresh out of college) and have been called a “bully” a few times because I’ve checked in on people who appear to be submitting no work day in and day out. I ask them “hey, it seems like you’re struggling in this area. We’ve provided you with x help, but we’re not seeing improvement. Is there anything else that you think would be beneficial to you to get you hitting goals?” They just automatically jump to “someone is holding me to minimum standards?? BULLY!” It’s really obnoxious, defensive behavior.

        1. Properlike*

          I suspect these are the adults who pulled this behavior in high school and managed to get away with it with no consequences because they could cry on cue when called out – and so many teachers/bosses will believe that the problem is on both sides because bullies pull this behavior secretly while the victim reacts in full view.

          Then they go to college and complain to department chairs and deans about how the professor picks on them in front of everyone. And then into the workplace.

          It’s easy to believe the fact that there are TWO temps complaining means the complaint is legitimate. Lazy supervisors see that as evidence, ignoring the fact that bullies are very good about roping in their followers – I suspect this temp had made friends with lots of other temps, and pulled in one who was equally dumb and unskilled. I’m glad they were caught out. I hope they get fired from their temp agency too.

          1. Ah Yes*

            Absolutely spot on. I have a friend who is an adjunct professor at a university and had a student rope in others to make complaints against her one year — had never happened before but all of a sudden in one year she was labeled as a “bully”. I could totally see an actual bully trying to weaponize this accusation.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Bullies IME rope in followers to amplify their prestige and echo their bullying. It’s the workplace equivalent of the circle of bullies with one main one leading the teasing, etc. It’s very much juvenile behavior, but it happens a lot.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            Yes. People like that glom on fast to similar thinkers, and they form a little globule of defensive, entitled laziness.

          3. Gracely*

            This definitely, absolutely happens. I was bullied in school, so when I became a teacher, I knew the kinds of situations bullies exploit, and I tried to make sure A) those situations didn’t happen in my classroom, and B) I paid attention to student interactions outside of the classroom. Prevention is key when it comes to bullying in school, because so many are adept at twisting accusations back onto their victims. A teacher can’t prevent everything–so much of what kids do these days is online/text, and student/teacher ratios are abysmal–but we can at least keep it from happening outright in the classroom/hallways/lunchroom.

            I had a student try to pull the “I’m being bullied” when they were the actual bully in the situation. Once they realized I had actually witnessed the encounter, they backed off.

            There’s also the “you’re telling me something I don’t like or want me to do something I don’t want to do, so you’re bullying me” accusations that some people like to lob, and in some ways, those can be harder to argue with in the moment–for exactly the reason that the LW was dealing with–LW was accepting the accusation partly in good faith when the accusation was anything but. Thankfully, other people outside of the situation are more likely to see how unreasonable the accuser is being.

        2. Heffalump*

          It seems like calling people a “bully” has become a knee-jerk reaction for many people when someone is just holding boundaries.

          I’m sure that happens, and I think that in this case, the original LW is not a bully. But it’s also true that sometimes a paranoid has real enemies.

        3. MigraineMonth*

          DARVO tactics mask the real situation. They’re particularly effective when an org is genuinely trying to cut down on bullying/harassment/discrimination.

    4. Starlike*

      This is one of those things where “strength in numbers” cuts both ways – there are times when having a second person validate your experience can help empower both to address problems in the workplace… but there are times where two people can wind each other up to behave badly. This seems to be the second, but the temps think it’s the first.

    5. Observer*

      have you shown the text attacking you to your HR? It would make clear the sort of people they are, and reduce the credibility of anything else they might say about you.

      I think this is a very good point. I’m guessing that the last thing you want is to show anyone this because it feels like it makes you look bad. But if you are not exaggerating what was written, it really really doesn’t make you look bad at all. And as the others say, it could be useful information for HR.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes! Anybody who makes a bullying complaint that includes criticism of someone’s looks, children, and childhood is a loon. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone taking them seriously.

    6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Exactly! Whoever texted you that is the bully, NOT you. Don’t give another thought to the words or opinions of this awful person.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      That’s a very good idea. I was going to suggest that the OP ask HR to weigh in and give some perspective on their management style. My guess is that HR is going to tell them that their management style is just fine, but getting an outside perspective isn’t a bad thing.

    8. Orange+You+Glad*

      I just finished my company’s harassment training before reading this letter and the temp’s message seemed like a clear example of harassment that needs to be reported to HR (we even had an example in our training similar to this). The LW should not be afraid anyone would take it seriously, it’s unprofessional and has nothing to do with the job or workplace.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Seriously. When I’ve had managers who were actual bullies, my criticism of them never had anything to do with their looks, childhood, or children. It all was about their conduct toward me and others in the workplace.

        Also, the last thing I would have done with anyone is text my complaint to them. Actual bullies are people who can possibly hurt you (physically, emotionally or financially), so that would be too much of a risk.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      I wouldn’t hesitate to show this to HR because it is so outside any kind of professional behavior they need to know for all sorts of reasons: your protection, knowing to never use that temp again, etc.

  3. Anblick*

    LW3: I’ve been in an office environment for ….ever and what I’ve done is: create graphic designs for screen print or embroidery, update websites/create webstores and upload products, medical transcription (translating doctor handwriting into human language and figuring out medical codes and insurance, etc), building federal loan documents in a program that builds in specific fields, etc. and my husband also works in a similar field writing sales documents for MASSIVE software companies figuring out if they can or will meet client requests. Stuff like that!

    1. RinaL*

      Office job here, too. I am in the funding business (technically I work in a bank), so we have mostly clients, who want to apply for funding. I have to check each business idea (technical as well as operational side), then work with those who fullfill our criteria to generate the necessary documents for out expert board, which ultimately decides who gets funded. After that, I have to issue contracts, make sure our clients adhere to the rules stated in said contracts, check milestones, wire money if milestones are fullfilled and check, if the clients report their bills correctly. Additionally, my job is to help the clients on their way to realize their idea by giving advice either in technical areas or more on the business side of things. Since we have a lot of young company founders applying with us (often phD students who want to transform their phD thesis into a product), we get all sorts of questions ranging from legal stuff (contracts, patents) to more practical stuff (how to rent space and hire my first team members).

      My area of expertise is in the life science sector, so I see ideas ranging from drug developement to medical software/medical devices. Every day is different, and I really love the diversity of our projects.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m an event planner/coordinator and also do some communications work. If you’ve ever been to a conference, fundraiser or lecture, anything that happens at that event was planned by someone like me. So that means: securing the venue, confirming speakers, obtaining quotes from vendors and deciding which vendors to use, coordinating payments to vendors, securing sponsors and exhibitors and making sure that they got all their contracted benefits, deciding on the event schedule, obtaining and editing content for print and online materials, coordinating production of any giveaways for attendees (such as pens), creating and editing the event registration website, writing and sending pre-event emails to atendees, printing and assembling registration badges, coordinating with speakers for any travel/hotel arrangements, reviewing vendor invoices, making sure that we stick to the event budget, meeting with vendors to plan what they’ll do on the day of the event, promoting the event (multiple emails/social media posts/flyers), promoting other people’s events in exchange for them promoting ours…

      This is just part of what I do. I didn’t even get into the day of event stuff. Event planning is so varied, it never gets boring!

    3. Jessica*

      LW3, I’m an office worker in higher ed, and what I plan to do today is: email a coworker to remind them about something they’re supposed to do to get reimbursed for business travel; review a budget of what my unit spent on a project and submit a request for funding; create and save some documentation for an employee’s immigration case; plan a training schedule for my new hire and email her about when to show up and what to expect on her first day; contact a bunch of people about possible dates to schedule an event that involves them; identify some issues that a committee needs to vote on and send info to the committee chair so those things can get on the agenda of their upcoming meeting; submit personnel actions for people in my unit who’ll quit, be reappointed, go on or come back from leave, etc. at the end of the year; rearrange the locations assigned to some functions to accommodate a temporarily disabled worker; email another coworker to politely make a case that the way she plans to handle a certain project is flawed and we should do it differently; and lots more.

      1. Lionheart26*

        Wow. I also work in ed (I’m a school administrator) and I have a very similar list of things to do today, but ALL of those things are done in my lunch “break” and when I get home this evening. My days are spent in back to back meetings with students and faculty. I don’t say that to disparage what you do, but more as an observation for myself that my work load is really unsustainable.

        1. Jessica*

          LOL, I simplified by saying it was the stuff I planned to do “today,” but actually the space of time in which I planned to work on it was at home after midnight. And it did occur to me in reading others’ comments that I hadn’t mentioned meetings, which was weird considering the amount of time I do spend in them, but that was a side effect of it really being my evening to-do list.

            1. Properlike*

              This is fascinating to me. I also worked in education and other non-traditional jobs. I have no idea how to mark what a “productive” day looks like, task-wise. I’ll admit, with my ADHD, I worry about going into the corporate world because I may not be able to produce output to the level expected.

              I would love to have a website full of “this is my typical productive day” – no embellishments.

      2. Phryne*

        I work as a support in a higher education school, but I am on the logistics side of it. My main job is planning. I am the intermediary between the department/institute and the centralised services like Scheduling or Student Registration.
        I inventory what is needed in the next year/semester/quarter and I input this in the planning system in such a way the schedule makers can use the data. I make budgets on projected student numbers and calculate cost on basis of actual student numbers and inform management about the outcome.
        I am first contact in case of questions about procedures and systems for all parties including the exam board (but not students). I also remind and inform both teaching staff and management about procedures and deadlines of the yearly cyclus and am the one who initiates and guides these processes. I am super-user of a whole host of systems we work with for teaching and digital testing (canvas etc) and I support teaching staff in these.
        I also do work in the areas of temp contracts and various running projects on the floor.
        I make lists of any and all kind. So many lists.

    4. Roland*

      Alison mentioned “software engineering” – here are various tasks that I might do as a software engineer: write code, search through code to find why a bug is happening and maybe even fix it, review others’ code, make plans with designers, make plans with product managers, analyze experiment data, create technical plans, twiddle my thumbs waiting for things to “build”, complain when shared software tools are broken, triage incoming bug requests, investigate why our services are spewing error messages, help others do all these things, endless meetings about all of these things

      1. Tau*

        Also software engineer and up until the last part I was like “you forgot to mention all the meetings”, lol.

        Plus attempting to explain to people doing the planning why a feature they really really want is more complicated/unsafe/technically very expensive/actually impossible/etc.

        1. a tester, not a developer*

          I do project work, and a big part of my job is acting as a translator between ‘technical’ areas (IS, legal, finance) and the end users. A lot of “I know you really want this thing, but here’s why it’s not legal/would cost $87 million dollars to build/ wouldn’t solve your actual problem”.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m a technical writer, and I’ll add that engineers (software or hardware) are key to creating a good help file or user manual. They are the ones who tell me how a thing will work before it exists so the manual can be approved to release with the item. (Offering managers will say how they want the thing to work, but like Scotty says in Star Trek, you can’t break the laws of physics, so in a conflict I write what engineering says works already.)
        I have eternal gratitude for all engineers, offering managers, and technical experts who review drafts and provide useful corrections.

        1. Lyudie*

          Former tech writer and current instructional designer here, and absolutely. As I have told engineers, as much as fun as it would be to just pull stuff out the air, I’m expected to write non-fiction here. I cannot do my job without them, even though many seem to think that helping me is not part of *their* job.

      3. L*

        Also a dev!

        You forgot the often-useless attempts to communicate with Sales and Marketing that no, we can’t actually do what they’re trying to sell. The product isn’t designed to do that, will never be designed to do that, and would violate several laws if we did try to do that! Plus the constant campaigning for things to actually have tests, and reminding Design and Product that we need to consider screen readers and not just people that navigate entirely by mouse. There’s also mentoring junior devs, creating endless tickets, and reminding Product that we do get some sprint budget to fix bugs and they don’t get to dictate all our time.

        And then I’m the token engineering person on the culture team. So I also get to plan company culture events (parties, in-office events, volunteering initiatives, etc), research things for those, run the culture events, collect feedback about culture events, and have meetings about culture events. Plus brainstorming (mostly remote) engineering events to make people actually interact, because 95% of the engineering team has no desire to ever step foot in an office ever again.

        1. LW3*

          Okay, now I’m curious since a couple of people have mentioned it. What sorts of things would be illegal or violate laws if you incorporated them into products?

          1. Nervous New Grad*

            Another dev here! This may not be exactly what L is referring to but cybersecurity and data privacy are big things to keep in mind. If a product is dealing with a user’s data in any way, it has to be compliant with data privacy laws and we want to be sure we’re not misusing their information or making it vulnerable to hacking or otherwise accessed by someone who shouldn’t be seeing it

            1. Tau*

              I live in an EU country and the following exchange happens regularly:

              Someone from marketing: We need to launch an information campaign so we can tell our users about these cool new features we now have! We should send out an e-mail-
              Us: …we can’t do that.
              SFM: But why not?
              Us: Because we don’t collect an extra consent for marketing, newsletters, etc., meaning GDPR says we cannot legally use the e-mails we collect like that.
              Us: This answer has not changed the last five times someone asked, and will not change until our team actually gets a request to build that extra consent feature.

              And yet the feature somehow never makes it into our backlog.

              Or we tie ourselves into knots about what user data we request when and product suggests that what if we just ask for it all up-front so we definitely have it when we need it and nope! GDPR! you’re not allowed to ask for more data than you actually need to fulfill the service you’re offering!

          2. MxBee*

            Senior software dev in fintech here – we have a legal & compliance department but at least once a month I have to tell the product owner or marketing to go run something past L&C for sign off. Usually it’s something to do with how they want to use customer data (that isn’t obvious to the customer or that we don’t have the customer’s informed consent to do) or things like making it harder to find the ways to opt out of marketing contact.

            In addition to the stuff listed above I do change management (checking what code has changed since last time we did a product release and making sure it agrees with what the product owner wants to release as well as enforcing branching strategy for versioning), creating automated tools to make processes easier, identify technical debt and raise tickets so it’s recorded and prioritised, run coaching and knowledge transfer sessions for developers, business analysts, and testers, spend time investigating our existing code base to discover whether a new requirement is possible to deliver and, if so, produce a technical solution design for doing so, respond to queries from other areas about how our apps work, document anything I can in the time I’ve got between meetings and code reviews… and on top of that I co-run the company accessibility network and am an active member of the company bi+ network. Oh, and then there’s the time spent on the annual mandatory compliance training.

      4. As Per Elaine*

        I’m also in IT but not a software engineer — I maintain and support the infrastructure that the stuff the software engineers do runs on.

        Today I have to set up some virtual servers, which involves pestering a colleague to approve a thing that needs to “merged” (added in) before I can properly start, writing up a configuration file that defines the servers (what should they be named, how much processing power should they have, which extra stuff should be applied to them), waiting for that to “build,” getting someone else to look over my work to make sure I didn’t mess up something that will cause problems, running the script to actually make the servers, checking that they are working the way they’re supposed to and fixing a few things that need to be changed manually, and, if that all happens in a timely fashion, getting more approvals and merging the configuration file. I also have a different set of servers that’s ready to be tested, which will involve changing some network settings to direct traffic to them instead of the old servers, and then running a bunch of automated tests against them (mostly clicking buttons and then twiddling my thumbs while hoping that everything comes back green, or wandering off to work on something else). I’m also doing research on setting up active directory domains in Azure, which is basically “how do we set up user accounts and virtual servers in the cloud, instead of on equipment in our offices?” and “how do we securely let the stuff in the cloud talk to the stuff in the offices?”

        When I get tired of that I’ll probably make a bunch of to-do items for work that needs to be done by particular deadlines next year. There’s something like 80 of them, so I’ll convert a table in our documentation system into an excel spreadsheet, make some adjustments so the data behaves nicely, and then upload the spreadsheet into our task tracking system.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I am a sysadmin, and most of my day is meetings and Jira tickets, fixing problems with linux servers and the application that we use for version control of software that our developers write. I also have longer term “projects” that the team I am on is implementing, like new monitoring platforms, disaster recovery planning, etc. I am fully remote, with a laptop and a VPN, working on servers in data centers all over the country.

      5. Sola+Lingua+Bona+Lingua+Mortua+Est*

        I’d add “let my mind wander to see if it will return with the solution that’s evading me.”

          1. As Per Elaine*

            It’s a thing that showed up in the past few days. Now that you’ve fixed it it should stick.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              If that’s the most odd thing that happens today, I’ll consider myself lucky!

    5. Emmy Noether*

      Some things I or people I work with directly do or have done that Alison didn’t already mention: run simulations (particle physics, optics, …), read scientific articles, write articles, come up with solutions for development problems, design experiments, run experiments, analyze data, write reports, CAD design, project planning, coming up with specs for new products, after sale customer support, support for problems in production, procurement, quality control, writing patents, making drawings for patents, submitting patents, defending patents, managing patent portfolios, preparing patent suits, same for trademarks, licensing contracts, NDA contracts, freedom-to-operate searches. I’m sure there’s more that I forgot.

    6. Skittles*

      I work in banking and have had the following roles:
      Call centre worker
      Call centre supervisor
      Complaints manager
      Fraud Investigator
      Knowledge Management advisor (writing, editing and managing all of the bank’s policies and procedures)
      Team manager for knowledge management team
      Process Improvement Lead
      Team Leader of broker team
      Continuous Improvement Lead

      The Process Improvement and Continuous Improvement roles were similar and are about analysing processes and looking for ways to improve them.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Team Leader of broker team

        I thought this said Team Leader of broken team and was like, “Wow. That’s honest,” lol.

        Meanwhile, I wanted to be a fraud investigator at a bank, but could never get an interview.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      Not LW3, but I wanted to thank you all for your descriptions of your jobs. I’ve worked as a teacher since graduating college and before that, I had a few jobs like shop assistant and also did a year’s work experience working with preteens and teenagers at risk of early school leaving, but have never worked in an office, so I am also interested.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I even though I’ve always had lab jobs, so never remote, I’m fascinated about other folks work. I often think about how much work even being a radio host has to do, and the “Queen of the Morn”, makes it sound so easy when she is on the air.

        But I do get a grin when she and the afternoon drive time host make similar choices in music. (for classical there is a wide range, and they even include the Gershwins etc.)

      2. LW3*

        Here to second this. I have a big healthcare family and am in healthcare myself (as I mentioned in my post). I am really enjoying hearing about what people do on the “other side of the workforce” as I’ll call it. A big thank you to everyone responding!

    8. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      I’ve worked in various office settings for 14 years now and I’ve had jobs at a non-profit, two trucking companies, and a manufacturing plant. Both the non-profit and manufacturing plants were more general “office assistant” type roles and the two trucking companies were specialized to dispatch and billing. A lot of what I do and have coordinated are the things other people do- at the non-profit, I’d put together the maps of each route for meals on wheels, list of meals on wheels for each route each day, update any changes, talk with case managers to make sure people’s meals were on hold or put back on after hospitalizations, some of the billing our various funding sources, etc. In the manufacturing plant, I’m doing a lot of billing to our customers and collections, doing some of the bill payments to our vendors, inventory management, updating our database for production, etc. In trucking, I was specifically through brokerage (so, we’d hire out other trucking companies to move the freight for our customers; basically, a middleman or go between two companies) and I’d negotiate the truck load (pick up, delivery, rate, etc), track the shipment and troubleshoot any problems that came up, and then I moved to exclusively just billing brokerage loads at a larger company, and I did all the billing for brokerage, requested paperwork from carriers, processed payments to carriers, etc.

      I have a college degree, but I’m not using it for my specific situation. I didn’t have a set “goal” or industry I wanted to work in when I moved from retail to office work, so I got a job as a receptionist (at the non-profit) and worked my way up through there. I’ve managed to become a pretty well rounded office assistant and can help with various departments and types of work, so if you’re interested in moving to an office job, getting in at the ground level and going from there might be a viable path forward.

      1. LW3*

        Thanks for sharing! I’m in school without a specific end goal, but I’ve thought about working for a non-profit one day. (Still have a while in school, so I have time to figure it out.) I’ll keep your advice about starting at the ground level in mind when the time comes.

    9. londonedit*

      I’m an editor – basically what I do is project-manage books from start to finish. I send the manuscript to be copy-edited, I send the copy-edit back to the author for more work, then I send the final manuscript to our Production team who send it for typesetting, then we get book proofs which I send to a proofreader and to the author, and then I collate all the proof corrections together. I also send the proofs for indexing, and I go over several rounds of proof corrections until I’m happy that there are as few errors as is humanly possible. As well as that, I have to send invoices from the various freelancers who work on the books to our Accounts department, and then those go through an online system where I have to check them and send them to my boss for approval, I have to keep our internal database up to date with how my books are progressing along the editorial schedule (so I tick off when something’s gone to the copy-editor, etc) and I deal with ongoing queries from authors on any aspect of their book’s editorial process and beyond (either I answer myself if it’s within my remit or I pass their query on to someone else – rights, finance, publicity, etc). I work on maybe 25-30 books a year, 2-3 published each month, so at any given time I’m working on things at all different stages – one manuscript will just have come over to me from my boss, so I’ll need to book a copy-editor, and in the meantime I’ll be checking final proof corrections and approving another book for press.

      1. LW3*

        Is it hard to have to read that many books, or are you focused less on the book and more on the words and sentences being correct? I like to read, but I think it might be hard if I got a book I didn’t like, but had to work on anyway.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, I don’t really read the books I’m working on. My job is more about project-managing a load of books at different stages of the process, and it’s about making sure the corrections the proofreader/author have marked up are done correctly. Of course it’s nice to work on books that you’d also enjoy reading, but to some extent in my job it doesn’t actually matter what the subject of the book is or whether I enjoy it, it’s more about making sure things stay on schedule, making sure all the different stages happen at the right times and without delay, making sure everyone works together well, managing author expectations and setting their deadlines, and making sure we get a good quality product at the end of it all, with finished copies hitting the warehouse on time.

          Copy-editors are probably the ones who work most closely with the books and their actual subject matter, because they need to read them thoroughly and suggest changes to the author and mark up anything that needs further attention or explanation. In my role I don’t really have time to read everything from start to finish – once I’ve checked a few rounds of proofs I’ll probably have read it all at some point, but I don’t sit there and read line-by-line. That’s the job of the copy-editor and then the proofreader. My job is collating it all together and managing the flow of everything through the editorial process.

    10. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I’m an office worker in licensing/ foreign rights in publishing/a publishing adjacent industry, so what I do/have done is, among many other tasks:

      -> Send out pitches to contacts, set up materials for those pitches, update materials with existing portfolio
      -> Research & acquire new contacts/licensees
      -> Invoicing/Royalty statements/Forecasting
      -> Database management
      -> Contract management (when do they expire? do we want to renew/does partner want to renew? send out terminations; set up contracts&amendments), contract negotiation, deal negotiation
      -> Cooperating with internal departments on product design/contract stipulations (no you may NOT sell this product in territory/sales channel X….)/other processes related to licensing
      -> Filing, so much filing, be it digital or not

    11. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I’ve worked in procurement (buying goods or services) for 15 years and here’s what’s on my list for today:
      • have a meeting with an internal customer who wants a contractor to complete a construction project — I’ll help them write up a Statement of Work the things the contractor is responsible for doing, what things our company is responsible for doing, and how we will know that all those things are done
      • set up a Request for Proposal in our bidding software for another internal customer — I make sure we ask about their safety metrics, information about their licensing, provide all the information they need to give us a proposal (legal terms & conditions that I get from Legal, a Statement of Work like the one I worked on earlier, and various other documents), and ask them specific questions about how they plan to provide the services listed in the SOW (do you use all internal resources or do you subcontract? if you subcontract, what portions? have you completed work like this before?). Once the bid has been issued and contractors have responded, I’ll review all the information provided and score it against certain metrics with my internal customer to determine who gets the contract.
      • Issue a contract to another contractor — I have all the documents and rates already completed, but I have to get them in the correct format to go into our contracting software and write the formal language that goes on the cover sheet.
      • finish calculating rate increases for several contracts, input those rates into our contracting software, write up the formal change order language, and send the change order to the contractors so they can begin charging the new rates.

      I won’t finish all of this today, but I will try to touch all of it to move it forward based on the priority of each item. I work for a large company and there are about 100 people doing procurement for all the various business units; my team is a group of 6.

    12. Papillon*

      I’m an office worker who is an editor, though my “office” has been my home office for the past decade or so. I originally moved to NYC to accept a role as an editor, back in the days when everyone in editorial was required to be in a physical office.

      On a regular basis I meet with other team members, including the graphic designer I work with who helps design the layout of the book or digital resources I’m developing, my manager, who reviews and edits my work behind me, the proofreading team who makes sure everything is grammatically correct, the production manager who helps ensure everything is running on schedule, etc. As content editor, I actually do a fair bit of writing myself. So, I learn what product my organization needs to publish, then I create an outline of how that product will be written when it’s finished, write the manuscript, then edit my own work before passing it along for others to review and edit behind me. I also help other editors review their work. For the kind of editing work I do, I must stay current on the research in our field, so I do a fair bit of reading and studying about current topics from well-regarded researchers.

    13. bean*

      Oh, fun! In the past I’ve written trivia articles, formatted and posted content, found copyright compliant photos, written and proofread marketing copy, online shopped and then wrote about it (think: 47 Items from Amazon Your Dog Needs NOW), and kept links updated on those articles. Now I process requests for books, go get books from shelves, scan articles, package books for shipping or lending, and serve on committees (so, meetings).

      Also all of the jobs involved lots of receiving/reading/replying to emails.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        Yesterday I wrote questions for a consultation to decide on priorities for a hospital strategy, reviewed evaluations from the first module of a leadership program, wrote an email reminding people of next week’s leadership program and what to do to prepare (first I decided what they needed to do to prepare), spent an hour each coaching clients about their experience as leaders, did a short fundraising pitch on social media because it was Giving Tuesday and participated in a curriculum meeting about financial accessibility for education programs.

    14. CanadianSillyServant*

      I have an office job too – I’m in the Canadian federal government, working as a second language assessor – since we’re a bilingual country, jobs within the public service often (but not always) require people to speak both official languages to a certain degree (depending on what their job is). There’s some administrative work (forms mostly), as well as on-going training and monitoring (much like a call centre where calls are monitored for quality assurance reasons), meetings and of course testing

    15. DJ Abbott*

      Add: helping people deal with their money – investments, banking, retirement funds. The job I started this year is in this and it’s great.

    16. Academic Librarian*

      I work in a very small academic library. The next couple of weeks are different for me than what I see others posting and are not typical for me.

      We have a couple of weeks before the break (which we have off, with pay, no PTO used, and I really don’t work at home) so things except helping students have slowed down.

      I don’t have too many meetings in the next too weeks and my own projects are mostly wrapped up or are waiting on others. I’ll review those and tie up loose ends. And I help students every day to learn to use a database or cite things.

      But mostly over the next 2+ weeks, I will come up with a plan of what I’ll be doing. I will be going over all of my “someday to do lists” and making plans for which projects I’ll start next and when, maybe reviewing those with my boss. But she mostly thinks we are professionals who can do our jobs so she always seems a little puzzled when I want to do that with her. This is the opposite of my last job where I had very little autonomy over my projects.

      I will also be training a new staff person and I have a long term, academic research project I’d like to do and I will probably have time to look for and read articles for that.

    17. Lore*

      I work in book publishing and my to-do list for the week includes: proofreading an index and a final corrections round on one project, reviewing author’s manuscript edits on another and preparing the file for typesetting, combining author and proofreader corrections on a third, reviewing a bunch of book covers, following up with editors who haven’t returned cover copy, sending status reports on various projects, meeting with a student I’m mentoring, helping my department heads prep for a meeting that’s part of a company wide equity training program, reaching out to HR for help with recruiting for the mentoring program, a couple of other standard meetings, processing reprint corrections an author sent in, booking some freelancers for upcoming jobs, negotiating schedule changes with freelancers booked for other jobs.

    18. IRB analyst*

      I’ll chime in too, since nothing even close to my job is listed in the database! I’m on staff for an institutional review board, aka ethics committee for research being done on people (including but not limited to medical research). The more generic job title I put on forms is Research Administration, but that’s not in the database – you’ll find actual scientists but none of the roles that make their research possible: the people who develop the budgets, get grants and contracts in place, check other materials against those contracts, check that everything complies with federal & state laws (different requirements for research vs medical care), etc etc. (I don’t even see research coordinator or assistant in the database, which is a shame — not office jobs so not relevant to the question, but woof, if you really want to know who makes medical research possible it’s not the bigshot doctor running 12 different studies at once, it’s their coordinators.)

      My own day to day includes reviewing research proposals to flag any issues with ethics, regulatory compliance, and institutional policy; reviewing consent forms and other participant-facing materials; issuing some determinations myself and forwarding others to the IRB; advising researchers on how to submit; negotiating and executing agreements with other IRBs; drafting/revising forms, policies, etc…

    19. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Haven’t seen what I do listed (yet) either, so here goes:

      I work in construction, but have been near exclusively office my entire career. The times I’ve been on construction sites? I’m in an office trailer.

      What do I do?
      Design meetings with inside and outside consultants
      Cost estimates
      Draft and edit proposals
      Design small systems as needed
      Meetings with equipment manufacturers
      Meetings with subcontractors
      Continuing education classes
      Coordinate design between engineering and fabrication

    20. Ari*

      I’ve worked office jobs for a while now too. I won’t try to describe all of them, but my current role is doing data analysis for internal clients. Basically, they have data in systems they use, we find out how to get the data out of that system and into a data analysis tool (which one we use depends on what they need from the data), and then create a mock-up of the report/dashboard/whatever they need for upper management. Once they’re good with how it looks, we teach them how to use it though we remain available for questions or changes or updates.

    21. Antilles*

      There’s also a whole category of “office jobs” which also have a minority of work that’s more physical/hands-on like OP may be used to.
      Speaking personally, I’m in civil engineering and design foundations for buildings. 90% of my work is done in an office, working on a computer, performing software calculations, reviewing data, etc. But then the other 10% is pretty much straight construction/field work – visiting a construction site, operating a drill rig, recording field data, safety inspections, etc.

    22. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I will write notes on therapeutic sessions, create a treatment plan, do documentation, call several people, schedule things ( the worst, my brain hates that), upload documents, do several therapeutic sessions, meet with my boss…

      ( Therapeutic. Sessions can be anything from ‘ I got a toy,let’s play to ‘ let’s talk about your depression)

    23. MathPub*

      I work in academic publishing. I do production on journals, which means I’m in charge of making sure the print journal actually gets created and put together correctly.

      On any given day I’m checking proofs, reviewing online postings, sending out invoice/making sure invoices have been paid, updating the website, preparing manuscripts for production, making sure image files are adequate, and probably a million other tiny things I’m forgetting.

    24. AnonForThis*

      I work an office job in a hospital! I used to work with patients as a research coordinator, helping them understand the research study they were signing up for and guiding them through study visits, doing some specific tests with patients for the studies, working with the physicians to help follow the regulations on doing research studies, and so on. So much of my work at the time was in a clinic, with some regulatory paperwork in my own office.

      Then I switched to full time in an office, moving into research regulatory work. I assist our hospital’s institutional review board/ethics committee in reviewing research studies that are being done at our hospital on patients. This includes knowing and researching the federal regulations around human research, scheduling studies for review, and discussing research issues with physicians doing research. Basically making sure that any research being conducted on people where I work follows the appropriate ethical / safety / privacy regulations.

      I have to be able to look at a research submission and see if they followed the instructions in the application to ensure that the various federal regulations are all addressed – we set up the application to guide them through this but sometimes people miss things. I also have to check if they have involved any other important groups that need input, like our radiation safety committee, someone to handle a contract, and any others, and point them in that direction.

      I help guide our review board meetings, answer questions from board members on the federal regulations and any precedents, write up the minutes on the meetings, and send notifications to the study teams about what the decision was on their study and what, if anything else, needs to be done.

      I also do one-on-one or small group Q&As with research staff, plus presentations at in-house research meetings. I have written educational guidance documents on various research topics, as well as helped update our research policy documents.

    25. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I have always worked in sales operations. Things I did in the beginning: processed orders, found constant errors which were everything from calling customers back about items not in stock or verifying that they wanted the rare thing they wrote down instead of a more common item that looks the same. As I moved on I do larger projects. Like now I found a flaw in the way automated files come from a vendor. It was a hunch and the operations people on the other end couldn’t verify it. So I recreated our last 6 months of business in transactions to find weird looking transactions and flagged them and it pushed the vendor to realize they were sending some dollar amounts without the negative sign, and a few other errors (such as cancelling orders but only sending the replacement order, causing duplicate shippings in a few small cases). I also audit random processes like bad debt management. Yes, we have AR but sometimes they get stuck in their ways and don’t escalate trouble customers or realize we can modify processes/reports if they don’t work well.

    26. Lyudie*

      Instructional designer here (and much of this is similar to my former life as a tech writer):

      Read technical documents/talk to developers to understand what changes were made to the product

      Figure out what changes need to be reflected in the training, where, and to what level of detail

      Create new training videos for new features or old features we never got training created for

      “Quality of life” updates like replacing low-quality screenshots, fixing typos, etc.

      So many excel forms for getting courses built and doing quality checks. So many.

      Reviewing content created by other IDs

      Doing the quality checks and filling out those forms

      Creating assessments/tests to go with the training

      Writing job aids that go with the training, that customers can refer to later

      Providing input on standards for writing, templates, etc. (I get tapped for this a lot because of the writing experience)

      Photoshopping screenshots because we can never get access to systems that we need (I probably do more of this than my coworkers because I know more about photo manipulation and can do it myself faster than asking the graphic designer to do it)

      Asking my coworkers questions like “how do I make dumb software do this” and answering that question from my coworkers

      And as others have said, many many meetings about all of these things. Fewer than my team lead and manager have though, thank goodness.

      1. ferrina*

        My work includes trainings, and there is SO MUCH coordination that goes into these. The content experts usually aren’t training experts, and someone needs to ensure that training content aligns with training needs and that materials are strong.

        1. Lyudie*

          Yup! I don’t lead in-person training, I create e-learning only, but on both sides there are so many moving pieces. Reviews of various sorts, keeping up with development schedules, keeping up with changes to the product (sometimes huge changes that suddenly render large pieces of training totally wrong), working with the in-person trainers who go on site because they are the “boots on the ground” and can help us understand the customer’s workflows, what features they actually use, etc.

      2. Super Duper Anon*

        Totally off topic, but how did you transition from tech writing to instructional design? I am also a tech writer and what I have realized over the years is that I am very much interested in the front end work (user guides, hands-on tutorials, in-product walkthroughs/context help, UX writing) and really uninterested in the back-end work (API docs can walk off a cliff). I have been thinking of moving into either UX writing or instructional design, but I have no training background (computer science degree and a technical writing diploma).

        1. Lyudie*

          Hi! The good news here is IMHO you have a huge head start on going into ID because of your tech writing experience. Having done tech writing for about 20 years and ID for five, there are a lot of similarities. You’re taking technical concepts, breaking them down into workflows and tasks, and explaining it to potentially non-technical audiences. The CS degree is also a big check mark in your favor. I did a master’s program, but I got my job doing ID when I was about halfway through. I do think this is one field where a master’s is an advantage, but I think you can start looking without one. I also did an intensive three-day workshop with ATD (Association of Training and Development) that was incredibly helpful. The ATD site has lots of content that can be accessed without a membership. I think looking into adult learning theory and the ADDIE methodology would be helpful to start. The adult learning theory is helpful in understanding how adult learners are different from children and what they want out of the training (i.e., make it real-world as much as possible, show how it’s useful, show how it will solve problems or reach goals). ADDIE is a pretty common workflow of developing training, and there are lots of good summaries of it out there that can give you an idea of how you go about actually doing the work.

          Hopefully that is somewhat helpful! (and I am still laughing at the API docs comment, I did one many moons ago at IBM that ended up at 500 pages IIRC, and that still reigns as the largest document I’ve done).

    27. No longer working*

      This was a long time ago, but it was one of the most interesting jobs I’ve had. I worked for a beer distributor in a college town of 20k surrounded by a rural area. One of my tasks was to create “load sheets”, which involved calling all the bars, restaurants and organizations to see how many kegs and cases of our products they wanted that week, so the proper amounts could be loaded on the truck. Different days of the week we went on different routes.

      I also took reservations for keg taps. We had a limited number of taps so they had to be reserved in advance even tho the kegs did not. I knew where all the parties were going to be!
      The bookkeeper brought her dog to work and he laid under the counter slobbering over the box of taps.

      The owner was an old guy who lost an arm, riding the trains I think. He always had a cigarette with a long ash hanging from his lips and a tough-looking girlfriend twenty years his junior. The mechanic kept our trucks together with string and wire, it seemed. But the employee held in highest esteem was the truck driver who rode the big rig to pick up our beer from the Big Beer headquarters.

      Of course I got the employee discount if I wanted a case of beer. And some wall sign swag I regret to say has been long misplaced.

    28. Robin*

      I have had a lot of office jobs (currently in one!) across non-profits and for-profits. In one, I did communications and light bookkeeping: newsletters/announcements, updating website, pamphlets, flyers, restocking the printer ink, as well as making sure all the money coming *in* was tracked and reminding members to pay their dues.

      Some positions were more project management, which means I make sure folks are documenting their progress/work, I create collect data and create reports based on expected deliverables (ie, has this code been submitted/drafted/implemented, how many clients have we served, and so on). Project management can also lean into grant management at non-profits, when the reports on deliverables have to go to donors.

      Other bits of my jobs have included some event planning, uploading / organizing files, being a receptionist, office morale work (staff potlucks, etc.).

    29. Pam*

      I’m in market research. I do Google searches on industry and company updates and sentiments (like the research papers you write in school), draft survey questionnaires, program these into a survey software, coordinate with Marketing to distribute surveys to specific lists and monitor the email software, write communications to promote the market research (pop-ups on websites; email outreach), I analyze the data by looking at the responses of different subsets, analyze open-ended (i.e., written) responses and categorize them by topic and sentiment, create powerpoint reports summarizing the data and takeaways, talk with the clients throughout and make sure they have transparency and are comfortable with what we are doing (with some clients, managing them is half the job). I also do some management- calculating and reporting on team productivity and revenue, training new hires how to do all these things. Finally, I consult with other teams that do things that over lap with my work.

    30. JimmyJab*

      Gov. lawyer and I write and/or review a lot of documents of various natures, that takes up most of my time, but I also have to read a lot, answer emails/phone calls from the public, I work on our internal training committee so I set up trainings, I sometimes write regulations, hold public or evidentiary hearings, work on policy development, and surely lots of other things I can’t remember. Most of my time is spent writing or reviewing other’s writing. And of course, meetings.

    31. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Since you mentioned wait trissing, I’ll give you some things that I picked up from my husband’s restaurant family. Even a small restaurant will have a desk in a back room, and in chains, someone’s entire job can be one thing from the list. The office staff works closely with the people in the restaurant itself, and for some jobs it’s important that they had restaurant experience themselves. Menu design & pricing. Inventory control & supplier management. Bookeeping/payroll. Staff scheduling.
      Real-estate/landlord issues. Building maintenance issues (Quotes for structural repairs if you own. Contracting with a snow-removal company, fire alarm service & inspection, etc). Maintenance of required licenses & certifications. Advertising & community outreach/fundraiser support.

      1. LW3*

        That’s true! I remember the owner had an office that he would work in sometimes, but he was friends with lots of the customers, so he’d come out and talk to people and help out sometimes if it was extra busy.

      1. Heffalump*

        That’s what I did in offices. Things my coworkers and managers did:

        Graphic design, copywriting, pasteup, keeping the books, editing, sales, designing and programming climate control systems for buildings, designing industrial machinery, database management, customer service.

    32. Glacier*

      I am a Payroll and Benefits Administrator, a function that all companies have. Some are part of the Finance /Accounting departments while some are part of Human Resources. This job entails entering pay data related to hours, earnings, deductions and benefits. It entails knowing and following government, tax and employment standards regulations. It can also entail calculating premiums, workers compensation, retirement plans as well as extended health and dental benefits. There are reporting functions and many many deadlines and often incorporates accounting functions to record payroll and benefit costs. Depending on your company immigration issues can also fall on your plate. There is also a lot of interaction with employees so requires math and people skills.

      1. LW3*

        Are people rude to you sometimes? I’ve always wondered if it’s hard to deal with employees as a payroll employee.

    33. Ann Perkins*

      After college, I’ve always worked in an office setting, and my career has settled in securities compliance. I work for the investment subsidiary of a bank and my team has to take all the relevant SEC, FINRA, and MSRB regulations and make sure our company has policies to address them all, that they’re enforced, and be able to test for adherence. What might be just a paragraph in a rule can end up as a lot of work. For example, FINRA has a rule that broker-dealers must conduct their own internal continuing education and annual meeting each year. That means someone has to either design the content of the training, or get a contract with a vendor who can provide that training. Then it gets pushed out to all the relevant registered persons and we have to have records showing completion for everyone. If you’re at a big company, that means following up with slackers who don’t complete it, too.

      As another example, there’s a rule requiring firms to monitor the trading activity of their associated persons and their households. That means the compliance team has to sift through making sure all the employees have their accounts disclosed, that all the accounts are entered into whatever software is used for this purpose, and sifting through reports to check for things like insider trading, conflicts between advisor accounts and their client accounts, things like that.

      Fortunately at a good company it’s a pretty boring job, but well paid since it’s such a niche role with specific licensing requirements.

    34. LW3*

      Ooh, okay, designing webstores and updating websites sounds pretty cool! And translating doctor handwriting to human language… not so much. I have some friends who work in pharmacy, and it sounds like trying to read scribbles from what they say. Thank you for sharing!

    35. Everything's fine*

      (Hi this is very identifying so I’ve changed my handle for this)

      My title is Financial Analyst, but I do a lot of strategy/data work also. Today I am:

      Figuring out which department is running a booth at a local festival to see if we can take a corner to do some attendee surveying. This will entail phone calls, emails, and crossing fingers. (data/national survey participation)

      Having a weekly meeting to assist a new staff member with invoicing, focusing on a few past-due errors that I identified yesterday, and helping them reconcile their procurement card.(finance/ensuring client billing is correct and complete, ensuring monthly accounting process is followed)

      Having a Management Team meeting in which I will remind everyone that we have capital improvement request forms for next fiscal year due next week and ask for questions.(finance/annual budget process)

      Running a report of November invoices and filling out an elaborate reconciliation spreadsheet that I created to ensure everything balances. Then I’ll complete a form for the accountants to move funds out of various liability (holding) accounts and into revenue/expense/tax accounts. (Finance/monthly accounting)

      That’s in addition to answering emails and Teams chats (e.g. into which account should I deposit X?), following up with people who havent returned my messages, and probably other stuff as it occurs.

    36. Ace in the Hole*

      I do on-site safety and environmental compliance for a garbage dump, which is about 75% office work. Basically I do all the behind-the-scenes work for making sure we have all the safety gear we need, we’re in compliance with all environmental/safety regulations, and that what we do in practice matches what we say we do on paper. On a typical day in the office I might:

      – review inspection forms and safety reports
      – research regulations and industry best practices for various safety/environmental issues
      – interpret and communicate that info to coworkers
      – meetings with other divisions to plan work, discuss safety issues, etc.
      – prep training materials and give training sessions
      – data entry, filing paperwork, making sure various posters/binders are up to date
      – write and edit plans, permit applications, internal policies
      – supply ordering and inventory
      – help staff with EHS questions, filing safety reports, finding documents
      – following up on accident reports
      – Schedule inspections, medical appointments, maintenance activities, trainings
      – keep up with my own trainings and professional development
      – participate in industry professional groups, advisory committees, conferences, etc.

    37. Person from the Resume*

      I am a project/product manager for a software development team. Basically, I coordinate, collaborate, provide information, make decisions, approve things. I work most closely with the rest of the project’s managers and fairly close with the more senior developers. I end up doing lots of coordinating and meeting with the business/customer about future requirements. I respond to taskers from my management (some of it understandable and other times it seems like dumb questions). I keep track of funding, money, budget, and plan for future years budgets.

      Physically I sit on my butt all day in front of a computer at home and
      – Attend MS Teams virtual meetings where I sometimes lead the meeting and share the document we’re discussing or the agenda, sometimes I participate quite a bit, sometimes I just listen, and sometimes I barely pay attention (large group meetings, training, all hands calls) and do work or not in the background
      – Read and respond to emails
      – Read and respond to messages on MS teams
      – Input project information into documents or tools on SharePoint

      It’s quite varied exactly what I’m working on, coordinating or collaborating about. But there’s almost always more to do than hours in the day. It’s all in service of releasing quality software to the customers. I generally enjoy this type of work; I like planning things. (but if I won the lottery I would quit pretty fast.) I also think I’m best suited for middle management. Generally, I find this work not difficult, but I do have a BS in computer science and MS in Info Technology. I never wrote code or was a software tester as a job, but I understand the basic background (even if I can’t code in the languages my team uses) so I have an inherent understanding of what goes into the software development process which I guess lots of people find to be a mystery.

    38. Been+There*

      I’m a content manager. I try to ensure the content on our website is structured in such a way that it’s user friendly and scores well in search engines.
      This involves a lot of meetings with subject matter experts who supply the content and IT to discuss new features for the website.

    39. Chinook*

      I work in an office in an industrial coating shop. While I do wear steel toes shoes and half PPE for the floor, I spend 80% of my days at my computer. I am Logistics but my day includes, invoicing, basic quotes, processing safety paperwork (including creating toolbox talks), scanning/filing safety paperwork, arranging shipments (including international customs paperwork), creating work orders and getting quality control paperwork ready for existing jobs, printing masking drawings, answering phones and emails from customers, taking photos of work as it comes and goes out, matching quotes and POs to whatever “magically” shows up at our door (because it seems no one wants to tell us something is coming), creating new jobs in our time clock system, and filing finished work. And that was my day so far.

      Most tasks only take 5 minutes, but they do pile up and then, suddenly, I have 10 jobs closed and ready to invoice and there goes my afternoon. Plus, when it comes to quality control and safety, if there is no documentation then, when you get audited, it never happened. And someone has to create, fill out and file the paperwork.

    40. All my life in higher ed, for REASONS*

      Higher education has a lot more jobs than you might think, especially at large state universities, which usually have excellent benefits and protections for their employees. If you’re coming from health care, any university that includes a medical program will need pre-health student advisors — in other words, an advisor to help the pre-meds (and pre-nursing, pre-dentsitry, etc.) figure out their undergrad plan so they can graduate in four years. There are lot of other types of student advising. I work in international education myself, working with foreign students and scholars that come to the U.S. It’s a lot of immigration document work, on which you must be trained, but everyone in the field knows that. You get the training on the job while you learn about how the office works in general. Study abroad advising is an option too.

      All universities have many other offices, too: research admin, admissions, events and catering, athletics, and all kinds of programming. Have a look at the jon listings for a univerity near you, and you’ll get the idea.

    41. Melody*

      I’m a graphic designer and that’s most of the work I’ve done.
      But before I got my first design job I also worked in an office as a
      – Parish Administrator (church secretary, but Anglican)
      – Service Scheduler for an appliance repair company
      – Appointment booker/File Manager for a photographer

  4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    I’m in a grumpy mood I guess, because as much as I love dogs, every time the dog BIT ME I’d ask to fill either an OSHA report or visit the urgent care clinic for a possible workman’s comp claim, on the clock and at their expense.

    1. Mother of All Raccoons*

      I mean I’m a veterinarian so that is exactly what happens when someone gets bitten by a dog at work (most of us do internally modify it to “only if they break skin”). Like I signed up for a job where I might get bit by a dog (we do as much as we can to not push our patients to that point but there is always an element of risk)! And when it happens it’s still a big deal and we make sure our coworkers are okay?? Please don’t let this get normalized. None of that behavior would be okay at home let alone in an office.
      Also does not sound like whatever training she’s done is best practice training if the dog is 1) still doing this 2) she’s ok bringing a dog doing this to work 3) she’s yelling at the dog to try and correct the behavior. Totally out of the OPs control but I feel for the dog too…just sounds like a mess for everyone.

      1. 1LFTW*

        I’m a former shelter worker and I had a similar reaction. This is not normal, it’s not OK in a workplace, it would not even be OK in a workplace centered on animals where a certain number of skin-breaking bites are actually expected.

        Even if they’re bites that graze the skin instead of breaking it, or grabs, or air snaps… best case scenario, that dog is under incredible stress and shouldn’t be in an office. It’s cruel to the dog and to everyone who works there.

          1. I+went+to+school+with+only+1+Jennifer*

            Sure it is. It’s training the dog to completely ignore being yelled at. (It works for kids, too.) Yelling with no other consequence is worse than useless.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Worse! It’s training the dog that the way to get attention is to misbehave. Being yelled at/chased can be a fun game!

        1. TinySoprano*

          Agreed! This sounds like a horrible situation for both the workers and the dog. This situation sounds untenable for everyone except the owner who thinks they’re getting away without paying doggy daycare…

      2. JSPA*

        As someone with a dog allergy, even those dogs who do the sweet, “my mouth also serves as my hand, let me take your hand gently in my mouth” thing are a big problem for me. (Maybe it’s retrievers who do this “soft thing in soft mouth comforts us both” thing?)

        Anyway…though I suppose there could be extremely rare and job specific exceptions, it seems to me that body-to-body contact at work should always be opt-in and voluntary. Even when the contact is not from a human.

        If it’s not breaking skin, and if OP doesn’t therefore want to label it “biting” (and have the whole, “she’s just saying hello!” conversation), maybe, “your dog’s mouth is on my body again, without my consent” would serve to focus attention on that being a problem, all the same?

        1. Luna*

          The dog’s just saying hello? Alright, time to go chameleon. Start nipping the hand of Pepito’s owner and other employees. What are you so upset by? I’m just saying hello, the way you taught me was okay.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          Maybe it’s retrievers who do this “soft thing in soft mouth comforts us both” thing?

          Retrievers were historically bred/trained to retrieve ducks from ponds after people shot them, so the ability to carry a dead duck without breaking its skin was/is very important to hunters. That’s a large part of where the “soft thing in soft mouth” comes from.

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            And other similar fowl related tasks. When I grew up with a few dozen chickens on a farm, our retrievers were fully capable and willing to collect the eggs from the henhouse and bring them to us unbroken. They’re remarkably gentle animals when it comes to things in their mouth when well trained.

            1. OtterB*

              Or even just by instinct. We had a dog who was a small mutt with (clearly) retriever heritage but had never had any specialized training. Our parakeet got out of its cage. Dog caught the bird. Husband and I converged on the dog saying “Drop it!” Parakeet was fine and lived for many years after that.

              1. My Cabbages!*

                When I was a kid, my older brother moved in with his Rottweiler. We had just gotten a small kitten, and we often came home to find the kitten with a wet ring around her neck from dog slobber. The dog would put the kitten’s head in his mouth, without hurting her the slightest. The dog never had scratches, so apparently the kitten didn’t mind at all…in fact the two of them were best friends.

            2. Koifeeder*

              My brother’s dog. My brother’s sweet, precious dog. She did not retrieve fowl. She retrieved toads.

              She was so gentle with them she never even got sick, so it wasn’t as if they were frightened enough to secrete poison, much less injured by it. She liked to put them in her water dish. I think that’s where she thought they belonged.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          Retrievers were specifically bred for “soft mouth,” since their original job was to retrieve shot game, and the hunter didn’t want big puncture marks in the bird/rabbit/whatever, or for the dog to swallow shot. So yes, retrievers for “soft hand holds wif my mouf” for the win!

          However, that doesn’t mean even the most adorable, soul-eyed golden should be soft mouthing the LW or anyone else at the office.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Pepino sounds miserable and way, way overstimulated (based off of the many rescue dogs my parents have had over many more years than I have been alive). It’s not a good environment for him – and is setting Pepito up for failure.

        1. CA Cupid*

          I’ve never owned a dog, never wanted to own a dog, and my first instinct was still “that poor dog sounds miserable”. It sounds like a tense environment, and that’s not good for animals or the humans who never asked to be subjected to them.

          1. Observer*

            I’ve never owned a dog, never wanted to own a dog, and my first instinct was still “that poor dog sounds miserable”.

            I could have written this line.

            OP, getting that dog out of the office would be a favor to the dog.

          2. AleSab*

            Hi! LW here. Totally agree with you, the dog is miserable, is a Basenji so that breed needs a lot of exercise and activity to use all the energy it has. The absurd thing is that the owner knows this but still somehow expects the dog to be cool and chilling all day in a freaking office. She is know leaving it a few days at a dog care but still…I don’t think she realizes the huge problem it is, and like you said I never asked to be in this situation, they made me return to the office in this conditions and don’t seem to really care.

            1. Mark the Herald*

              Woah – Basenjis are such cool dogs. From what I know of them, they are generally super smart, a bit stoic, and VERY squirrel-chase-y. A typical basenji is going to respond really well to training but will need to use his brain. This poor dog must be unbelievably stressed and bored.

            2. Koifeeder*

              Pepito is a Basenji?!

              This is going to end extremely poorly, I think. I’m so sorry- both for you and for poor, miserable Pepito.

            3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Yup – Pepito is that weird combo of bored and overstimulated. Basenjis are one of those breeds that will solve their boredom by getting into things to get your attention.

              I feel badly for both you and Pepito OP.

        2. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Yeah, my dog would be miserable in an office environment. For better or worse, he doesn’t do well with change, so a new environment with a constant flow of different people, he would never settle.

      4. Dog and cat fosterer*

        Training is not the answer to this problem and LW shouldn’t suggest it.

        Sounds like the owner thinks that training is successfully doing something once, and doesn’t understand that it’s about being consistent for the rest of the dog’s life. This is true of most people with problem dogs, they don’t understand that they have to change too. It isn’t a lot of work to train most dogs, but the owners need to change their habits and some refuse.

        I think the only reasonable solution is to contain the dog somewhere at work or leave it at home. I’m guessing the dog may have separation anxiety and that often causes them to destroy their home, so the owner may feel forced to bring it in.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          Morally, the only reasonable solution is that the dog gets adopted by someone other than this absolute failure of a human who’s setting him up to be anxious and miserable and constantly yelled at until he inevitably injures someone and gets put down. But that’s out of LW1’s control and the best they can probably hope for is containing the dog at work or leaving him at home, yeah.

          1. hamsterpants*

            Yeah as someone who has known many rescue dogs, I often have to wonder at the sort of owners these dogs had before surrender. It’s like that bit from the Simpsons: I’ve tried nothing and I’m all out of ideas!

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Training may be the real answer, it’s just not going to happen in this case and LW shouldn’t expect it. Assume the situation with the dog will get worse, not better, and do what you have to do to be safe – whether that’s demanding or orchestrating change, claiming workers comp if he bites, or changing jobs.

          1. hamsterpants*

            Yes, suggesting training just gives the owner another excuse to put off doing anything. “Oh I meant to call a trainer, I’m busy this week and next week but some time in Q2 I should get a chance.” “The trainer needs to call me back.” “Oh my trainer cancelled.”

        3. Mother of All Raccoons*

          That’s why I said not the OP’s place to say anything, just my observation that whatever “training” the owner has said they are doing/has attempted they are either not committing to or I would say is low quality training. And absolutely no good trainer or behaviorist would say to take a dog with this many concerns to a public office daily. Any time a dog is biting (unless it’s in play) that’s not a happy dog. But again, the dog owner didn’t write in, and it’s unfortunate that the OP isn’t in a better position to advocate for the dog. Although I would say having separation anxiety at home is probably overall better than being in the office and biting people.

          1. AleSab*

            Hello! LW here :) Thanks to everyone who has commented on this, it really broadens my perspective on the matter. I do think the trainer she hired is bad, I don’t know for sure how many sessions they’ve had but jesus, the only thing that he dog learned is to sit, and on many ocassions he doesn’t even respond, only if there are treats involved (she even stopped the training altogether a few months ago when there was too much work to be done, so… yeah clearly she is not consistent at all). Also I believe that she is just incredibly bad at it, she never set boundaries for the dog in her house let alone at the office, the dog pretty much does whatever it wants. The dog definitely CANNOT be contained anywhere in the office because it will tear and break anything that comes between him and the rest of the space, he has no limits.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              How on earth are your higher ups okay with any of this? That poor, miserable dog destroys office property and is an active danger due to biting and they’re okay with it? Hope they’re also fine with a lawsuit once somebody really gets nailed by Pepito and goes to an attorney.

        4. Maz*

          Training the dog’s owner is probably the answer to the problem, but that’s really not something the OP can suggest.

      5. AnonyNurse*

        “Did it break the skin” is also the line when humans bite. Although our hospital occupational health tended to be rather condescending about minor bites. It was policy to go.

      6. anne of mean gables*

        Agreed – this is a hot mess (and frankly, a disaster waiting to happen). I love dogs; I love wild ‘bad’ dogs; I have two affectionate over-protective poorly-trained shitheads asleep on the couch next to me right now, and I think they’re the best shitheads to have ever walked the earth. That said I would NEVER in a million years bring them to an office because they would bark, countersurf, and I’m sad to admit they would be a bite risk in a situation like that (lots of new people, unpredictability, my inability to monitor every interaction). I am assuming that poor Pepito is a smallish dog and so a lot of this behavior is being whitewashed because it’s not horribly injurious but this is a really bad situation.

        1. Lizzo*

          +100 to every word of this. There are dogs that are great office dogs…and then there are dogs with the temperament of Pepito.

          My last knucklehead was a Very Good Boy, but he was a herder, and he was anxious. Bringing him to an office = me setting him up for failure. This owner sounds selfish AF.

        2. AleSab*

          Hi! LW here. The breed of the dog is a Basenji so yeah it is a rather small dog, I hadn’t heard of it before she got it. I don’t know if she didn’t do enough research before buying it or is just simly the most oblivious person on earth but she expects to have a hunting dog, that apparently likes to herd as welll, in an office all day just sleeping.

          1. Lizzo*

            Ha! Our Very Good Boy was (we think) part Basenji. I don’t think he ever had a full night’s sleep in his life–he was always on alert. That happens when you have ears as large and receptive as satellite dishes.

          2. anne of mean gables*

            Oh my good lord this dog is a Basenji!? WOW I cannot even imagine (mine are herders – cattle dogs – and probably similar temperament based on what I know of Basenjis). I am sure there are some dogs in that vein that are able to be in an office setting but not many!

            1. hamsterpants*

              I think that it could be a good office dog with good crate training and A LOT of exercise before/after/throughout the day… NOT just roving freely! Good lord!

      7. Eldritch Office Worker*

        My dog gets muzzled immediately at the vet because he gets scared and nipped once. They don’t give him the opportunity to bite anymore. This dog should be muzzled in the office if he’s biting people.

      8. The OG Sleepless*

        Also a vet, and seriously! Getting bitten is a Big Damn Deal even when it’s part of the job. It’s completely unacceptable in a regular office setting.

      9. goddessoftransitory*

        I feel terrible for Pepito! He’s most likely stressed out and miserable in that office with all the strange people and conflicting commands and on and on. Poor pupper.

    2. Clobberin' Time*

      The first time the dog BIT ME, I’d be telling the owner that she either gets the dog evaluated and trained or my next call will be to the local animal control services. A dog that steals food or jumps on counters is obnoxious. A dog that regularly bites people is a hazards.

      1. Mockingbird*

        I was bitten by a dog as a toddler, nearly got my eye. The dog had bitten other kids, the owners did nothing. I never had a problem with dogs after, wasn’t scared or anything, until I was in my early twenties and a dog jumping up and snapping triggered some memory, and I’ve had issues with dogs rushing at my face since. I volunteered somewhere a high up person brought in her badly trained dog and expected staff to care for it and clean up after it. One day the dog jumped up on me and came at my face. It was a small dog, I’m sure it was just being friendly, but triggers override reason and I flung that dog away from me. Everyone looked at me like I was a monster. I love dogs, dogs love me, weird reactive dogs love me. But I would throw an HR fit if someone brought a dog with these kinds of serious, dangerous behavior problems in the office every day. It’s beyond selfish to inflict that on your employees because you can’t be bothered to properly train your dog, and it’s cruel to the dog to not get it training. You’re also asking for a legal nightmare. Does your company’s workmen’s comp insurance cover “the boss’s dog bit an employee”? Probably not. Does any other business or personal insurance cover it? Someone needs to check.

        1. TinySoprano*

          Exactly! Dog bites can be very serious! I adore dogs, but I know people who’ve had stitches and infections even from accidental dog bites. Yet this boss is happy for her poor (clearly overstimulated or frightened or wound-up) dog to run around biting people, possibly exposing them to stitches or infections? Goodness. Your point about insurance is very, very salient.
          Most people in an office would be disturbed if I brought in my 5 foot python, right? But his bite is way way less severe than a dog bite. And even though he’s a good boy who doesn’t even bite the vet, I would NEVER bring him to work anyway because he would be miserable. Like this poor dog. Ugh.

          1. AleSab*

            Hi! LW here. Luckily the dog hasn’t broken anyone’s skin yet but he has bit the other two owners of the studio quite a few times, some of them painful as I’ve heard, and the woman that comes to clean the office got bitten the other day trying to help one of the owners because the dog pulls from her coats, cardigans or whatever piece of long clothing she wears, everytime she walks around. The situation is absolutely ridiculous, the more I write and the more I talk about it I realize that, so it is very frustrating that no one else in the office sees it this way.

            1. Clobberin' Time*

              LW, this is not okay or normal! “Yes the dog attacks people but at least he hasn’t broken skin yet so it’s not that bad” is not something anyone outside of this situation would agree with! Imagine a friend of yours telling you that her boss throws coffee cups at her multiple times a day, but at least they’re only ceramic mugs and not big metal carafes. You wouldn’t tell her that’s okay, would you?

            2. anne of mean gables*

              Oh my word – this is so bad. Unfortunately I am worried about the owner’s reaction if you bring this up because IMO she’s already proven herself to be unreasonable by her actions. I truly cannot wrap my head around a person who knows their dog BIT someone at the office and continues to bring them in. I would never bring my dog to an office situation, but if they nipped or bit, even once? Absolutely never again.

              1. AleSab*

                I know! Crazy! I just can’t believe this entire situation. The dog nipps and pulls the clothes of one of the owners (of the design studio) like everyday he’s here and the owner doesn’t really do much, I mean how on earth hasn’t the other person told her that she’s had enough? The other day my sister came to the office to have lunch with me, holy moly, that was intense and the owner did what? Not much really, we were both trying to make it stop and the dog started to get aggresive and she doesn’t really care.

            3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Sounds like the rest are fully into “emperor’s new clothes” syndrome. Unfortunately you may need to leave, doesn’t sound like it will get better.

              1. AleSab*

                Definitely, I feel the three owners kind of encourage their worst behaviours, being this dog situation the most absurd. I will start actively looking for a new job, I don’t see that there is room for improvement either.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I would snuggle your python, just for the record, but yes, probably not an ideal office pet in general.

      2. Luna*

        You know what the really sad thing is? If the dog did end up biting someone, even more than once, the dog would be put down because it was seen as a dangerous hazard, and the ‘owner’ (the nicest thing I can call them at this point) gets no consequences.

        1. londonedit*

          In the UK you can be prosecuted for owning a dangerous dog, allowing any dog to be dangerously out of control, and/or if your dog seriously injures someone. The dog would also absolutely be put down, too, if it bit anyone in a public place (or even in a private house if the injury was serious enough).

          1. Citra*

            You can be prosecuted for those things in the US as well, it just doesn’t happen as often as it should.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Agreed. A menace owner I lived down the street from as a child ended up having Animal Control step in – and the most they were able to do was a lifetime ban on further animal ownership (which he tried and failed to get overturned, and also attempted to circumvent and failed at that as well).

              It was sad that all the state we lived in would only allow the court to ban him from further ownership – especially after all the pain and suffering he caused.

        2. Spicy Tuna*

          I had a friend who was a dog fanatic. His life’s work and passion was helping dogs and dog owners. Through his network, he had gotten word of an English bulldog that had bitten the owner’s child. Since he was single and lived alone, he offered to take the dog and work with it as a solution so the family wouldn’t have to put it down.

          All was well for over a year. Dog was making great progress, no issues. One night, they were on the couch together watching TV and the dog viciously attacked my friend. He was in the hospital for a week. Animal control insisted that the dog had to be put down. My friend was devastated and he endured a raft of ish from the rescue community for ” allowing” animal control to put the dog down, but honestly… some dogs are just not wired right and are a menace.

          1. Mother of All Raccoons*

            I always say a dog that’s biting is not a happy dog, and if we’ve tried every reasonable way to manage it (training, meds, changing the environment, etx) (which is also different for everyone depending on finances, time, who is in the home, etc) then it is ultimately a kindness to not let the dog continue to be unhappy (and bite people). Quality of life for animals is mental as well as physical! I’m sorry your friend got backlash – the rescue world really has some very extreme people who don’t always understand when it’s okay to say “enough”.

            1. Lizzo*

              Yep, I’ve known two dogs whose owners went to the ends of the earth to provide training, behavioral modification therapy, medication…and the dogs were still unable to handle basic daily living and lashed out in fear. It was incredibly sad, but the dogs had become unpredictable and dangerous.

              1. Nobby Nobbs*

                Even “no-kill” animal shelters will have a dog put down under those conditions. It’s as much a quality of life issue as a bad physical health condition would be.

          2. Clobberin' Time*

            I hope your friend distanced himself from those people. There’s a certain type of pet owner who doesn’t relate well to people but also doesn’t really understand animal behavior, and thinks that if an animal is dangerous people should just quietly put up with being harmed.

      3. Cei*

        Seriously. I’ve worked in an office with a friendly but overly energetic dog and I loved him even though it was distracting, but *biting*? Even if, hopefully, he hasn’t broken skin so far, for long until that happens?

      4. irene adler*

        Yep! If that dog bites me (breaking skin or not) animal control will be notified. Period.

        This is an irresponsible dog owner. Should have brought in a trainer for them too!

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’ve never had a dog, but my impression is that dog training is primarily dog owner training. Yeah, they’re going to teach the dog to do some things, but the training is mostly for the owners to learn how to teach the dog what is and isn’t acceptable. But a lot of humans don’t understand that and they think they should be able to take the dog to training and then it’s 100% done and there’s no more work they have to do. I’m guessing Pepito’s human is one of those.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yep that’s entirely correct. Professional trainers train you on how to interact with the dog. I’ve brought my dog to a trainer and he behaves with her in minutes, it’s not even an issue. They know how to interact with dogs. What you pay them for is for them to give you those skills.

            But if the owner isn’t willing to engage and learn it’s useless.

          2. Mark+This+Confidential+And+Leave+It+Laying+Around*

            Absolutely this. A good friend of mine is a trainer. Dogs are dogs. They have X number of predictable responses. People? Are infinitely more complicated and flexible. Even a very reactive, hyper dog can be well-trained if its human is willing to put in the time, effort, and modification it takes to get that result. Human not willing? Dog not trained.

              1. Hlao-roo*

                There’s something that replaces the spaces with plus signs in usernames. If you manually clear the plus signs out of your username and have the “save my name” box checked, that should fix it.

          3. AleSab*

            Hello, LW here. You are absolutely right, the dog’s owner hasn’t been consistent with the training at all, the only thing she does is to carry treats from time to time to make him behave, which he does sometimes, but as soon as he swallows that treat he goes back to whatever he was doing. I feel the dog is incredibly anxious because this irresponsible human decided that against his nature, he was going to be an office dog just because that’s what she wanted.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Ugh. I feel so sad for Pepito! I’m not even a dog person but it makes me upset when people treat living beings like accessories.

    3. Jessica*

      I would 100% be doing both those things, as well as calling police and animal control on my former employer, and if the bite did me any physical harm, my lawyer would be trying to negotiate a super generous severance in return for me not suing them.

      Okay, maybe that sounds like I’m going to the other extreme, but holy toxic workplace, Batman! I want to emphasize how utterly NOT normal and NOT okay it is to have a rampaging dog biting people in the workplace. As MoAR points out above, a vet’s office has protocols for that, but an office office should treat it as a rare emergency. Just like a nuclear plant has protocols for radiation exposure, but in a regular office ANY radiation exposure should be an extraordinary crisis.

      If these people cared at all about having a functioning or growing business, which they don’t seem to, they’d realize that this environmental hazard will neither get them the best people nor create conditions for people to do their best work. Sane people with options will run away and that’s what you should consider doing.

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yup – I’d be asking the owner for their insurance information, because Pepito just bit me, and I need to go to the Dr and get checked. I’d also be asking for a copy of Pepito’s shot records to make sure he’s up to date.

      And I’m saying this as a person who was raised with dogs, who likes most dogs – but is very uncomfortable around aggressive dogs. This is not a good environment for Pepito – and the dog has to be miserable and over stimulated, which is probably making his behavior worse.

    5. Lilo*

      I was bitten by a dog owned by a family I babysat for and I refused to ever sit for them again. I also loathe people who let their dogs, particularly big dogs, jump on people (a dog knocked my grandma down when she was out walking her own dogs in the neighborhood, she broke her hip and complications followed, she was gone months later).

      I grew up around dog and generally like them But I don’t like them in offices and dogs that bite or jump need to be kept far away from those situations, and frankly aren’t safe around anyone.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        Unless long term damage occurred, dog bites aren’t that “valuable” a lawsuit.

    6. Spicy+Tuna*

      This letter really got me. I am so very not a dog person. I do not like them for many, many reasons. I would not want to work in an office with dogs. From an HR perspective, dogs in the office is a gigantic liability as well.

      1. Misquoted*

        I’m not a dog person, either, but I have a right to work in a place where I’m not jumping every time a dog comes near me, worrying about being bitten, protecting my lunch, losing focus due to whatever else is going on with the dog or the owner scolding it. This is a hard no and needs to be handled immediately.

    7. cats+and+dogs*

      That dog is definitely going to escalate to biting non-employees (if it hasn’t already) like some rando on the street, or a neighbor. And when that happens, goodbye homeowner’s insurance and hello “possibly having to have the dog put down by animal control, do not pass go, do not collect $200.”

      The poor dog :(

    8. Ace in the Hole*

      As safety compliance person for my site, that’s exactly what I’d want someone to do if a dog bit them and broke skin. Fill out an incident report ASAP, contact our worker’s comp hotline to start a claim, and get medical treatment for the injury.

      If it bit them but there was no injury, I’d still want the employee to complete an incident report… and you better believe that dog would not be allowed back.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      A dog that BITES needs to NOT be in a crowded, strange environment with lots of people and other dogs, and does need intensive, one on one training before it ends up having to be put down! I wish that owner had a shred of sense!

  5. Granger Chase*

    LW1, I love how the dog is named after the naughty neighbor in Madeline. He was quite a handful too, although he sounds far better behaved in comparison to the dog (unless I’m forgetting that he bit people on a regular basis).

    I love dogs, but there’s no place for a dog behaving like this in an office. I would follow Alison’s advice to bring this topic up with one of the other owners, particularly if he is full on biting/lunging at people, and not just playful nipping because he’s poorly trained. Both are bad, but one is a very clear immediate safety concern + legal liability, and needs to be addressed ASAP.

    1. Clobberin’ Time*

      “Playful nipping” is biting. This is way beyond just bringing up the topic to the owner. Pepito needs to be removed from the workplace immediately. Whether he needs to be trained not to “playfully nip” is not something the OP can or should have to parse out.

      And can we be honest and acknowledge that for bad dog owners like Pepito’s, they are highly likely to blow off serious biting issues as “aw, he’s just being playful!”

    2. Hamster+Manager*

      Yeah, if I were in your shoes, I’d make this dog its owner’s problem EVERY time it does something. Like, every time it bites me, go into the office to tell the owner how much it hurts and how it’s scaring me, not clean up any trash-digging, but letting Jane know about the mess, coming into her office every lunch asking what can be done about Pepito stealing food, toting chewed-up papers/wires whatever into the office like “can you reorder this stuff?”

      I really doubt it will make a difference, but in my mind that’s the only thing that possibly could. Based on the name, I’m assuming this is a small dog, and people are notorious for thinking small dogs don’t need as much training as big ones do so you just might be out of luck. How much leeway do you have to say “hey, this is a super distracting environment, I’m going to WFH the rest of the week to get this project done”?

      I once worked in an office with a nightmare dog who would poop under MY desk, and its owner’s solution was to put a puppy pad UNDER MY DESK. Gross!

    3. Observer*

      particularly if he is full on biting/lunging at people, and not just playful nipping because he’s poorly trained.

      And what exactly is the functional difference to the person who has been bitten? From the legal liability pov, the fact that it’s “playful” is not, and should not, make a difference.

      1. KatEnigma*

        The difference is actual harm and pain? My GSD nips when she gets over excited. It’s a habit of the breed. We correct her EVERY TIME and would never bring her into an office setting, etc. But it’s not “biting.” She’s very large and you’d know the difference. There is very little, if any, pain involved.

        1. Poppy*

          As a veterinarian most clients who tell me their dog “nips” means it tried its darndest to put some holes in your face. Teeth to body part contact is not ok.

        2. Beth*

          If you’ve been traumatized by a dog attack, there is no difference.

          This workplace would be a complete hellscape for me, and I would have quit on Day 3.

        3. Brunito*

          Pain is when someone else’s dog puts their teeth on me, regardless of playful intent. (The real difference is that you are a responsible dog owner who isn’t inflicting your nipping pet on co-workers/employees.)

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            While I agree that a dog putting its teeth on someone is not acceptable at work no matter what, it’s odd to say “pain is when someone else’s dog puts their teeth on me”

            Pain is a physical sensation. Why does it matter if it’s someone else’s dog vs your own dog? Furthermore, not all tooth-to-skin contact is painful. I’ve known dogs that could carry a banana in their mouth without bruising it… putting their mouth on my wrist would mean contact with teeth, but no more pressure/pain than wearing a bracelet. I’ve also known dogs that liked to bite at clothing, sometimes so aggressively they’d rip it. That wasn’t painful either, but it was still terrifying!

        4. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

          Your dog’s nips may not hurt you, but are you can sure they wouldn’t ever hurt anyone you let your dog nip at, no matter how small or young or old?

      2. kiki*

        I think for most people, when they say playful, they mean the bite was not done with actual force. Sometimes my cat playfully tries to bite me for attention, but ultimately he just is putting his mouth near my ankle, not actually applying pressure. So the functional difference is pain, broken skin, actual bodily harm.

        That being said, some people definitely loop bites that do cause harm in with “playful,” which really frustrates me! Maybe things have always been this way, but I’ve personally been experiencing an uptick of dog-owners brushing off and accepting bad behavior, like large dogs jumping on people. I get that some people are used to it, but it’s genuinely not okay behavior to bring upon unsuspecting people.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I think the uptick comes from an increase in slightly unprepared owners who got dogs for company during the pandemic that are now flailing with what to do now that they have to go back into offices.

          And sadly, it’s failing the dogs they got – because they are throwing the dogs into environments that are not setting those animals up for success, and can lead to stressed and poorly behaved dogs.

          1. kiki*

            The pandemic definitely sent the phenomenon into overdrive, but even before I was experiencing it more often– even from experienced pet owners! I feel like for a while culture was so pro-dog that a lot of people forgot that not everything dogs do is lovable, certainly not by everyone. I visited a relative and her three large dogs all ran at me and jumped on me at once and I fell over (combined they outweighed me, for sure!). I wasn’t hurt, but I wasn’t, like, happy about it either. When I was hesitant to be the first to walk into the house later in the trip, she acted like I was weird and “too scared of dogs.” I’m not scared of dogs! I just don’t like being knocked over!

            1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

              Ugh, I agree with you so much. Many people willfully forget that not everyone loves everything about dogs and that dogs can even be dangerous, and other people even blame and denigrate people who don’t love dogs — there’s a letter in the archives about a woman with an allergy to dogs who found out after she was hired that her office had dogs present, and as soon as she pointed out her allergy the rest of the office froze her out.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                And some of the commenters on that letter were WILD about how they’d rather their dog be with them than their coworkers be able to breathe.

      3. Granger Chase*

        To me, there’s a difference between a dog coming up to you and biting you while you’re walking & not interacting with it VS. people choosing to engage with a rambunctious dog & playing with it, and then it nips them without breaking the skin or intending to cause pain. It sounds like LW falls into the first category. I don’t think dogs that bite should be at work at all, but in theory it’s easier to get someone to take the issue seriously when you can prove the dog is being an aggressor versus just “playful”.

    4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Dogs at the office is a privilege reserved for competent owners and extremely well behaved dogs. Period. I love all dogs, even the naughty ones, but people need to be realistic about where their dogs can and can’t be. An unpredictable dog in the workplace is a gaping pit of liability.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, I think this is one of the trouble of dog-friendly offices. You have to have strict rules about dog behavior. A lot of people are not the best judges of their own dogs’ capacities.

    5. Winston*

      Also, for the training suggestion, when you hire a trainer, it’s really the dog owner who the trainer is training. The dog will be well trained when the dog’s owner uses an effective method and is consistent in it 24/7. The trainer’s interaction with the dog is really mainly demonstrating to the dog’s owner what to do. In this case, it sounds like the dog’s owner is not going to do the work.

      When my childhood dog was a puppy were went to a dog training class and the instructor said on the first day, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I can tell you right now that out of the 25 did in this class, no more than 5 will graduate [actually obey the commands on the last day] and for the ones that don’t, it’s not the dog’s fault.” (4 dogs graduated including ours).

  6. John Smith*

    Lw3, I work in an office and when I look round, specifically at some senior managers, I often ask myself the same question. I have no idea what some of my colleagues actually do (inc. my manager) or why they come to work. One senior manager hasn’t been seen in almost two years. We know she exists as she sends a (pointless) weekly email. One recent new starter left after two months, citing the exact same reason about his own job – he didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing, and neither did anyone else.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Managers go to meetings. Seriously, if you are in management/high up, you spend all day in meetings and “making decisions.”

      As a clerical worker, I type shit into the database all day, answer emails, occasionally answer phones (haaaaaaaaaaate), order things to get printed. Literally an “office job” is one where you do all your work on the computer all day and/or go to meetings if you’re higher up.

      1. Katie*

        Yeah, we have daily check-ins on project and the higher up the person, the more time they spend on meetings. Squeeze the information that us little cogs need out of the client and other scary things like that.

      2. WellRed*

        Yes! I think most office jobs can be described as typing shit into a computer. I’m a writer but at the end of the day, that’s the bill if it. Same with our salespeople and support staff. I ocassionnally want to scream “ is that all there is?”

      3. Claire*

        I’m in management, and oh my god there are so many meetings at my workplace. So, so many meetings. It makes it impossible to get actual work done.

        I’m looking around for a job where I can move back to an individual contributor role and do something productive with my time.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Same about the many meetings at my company. I’ve been a program or content manager and now I’ve transitioned into people management this year, and the meetings just got worse the higher up I went. I don’t attend half of them, lol. I come up with some reason I can’t make it and/or send a delegate to report back (usually one of my direct reports who aren’t busy at that time). It’s ridiculous.

          My own manager is now on board with us putting together a proposal for senior leadership (i.e., the C-suite) where we advocate for less pointless meetings and more targeted workshops so these folks can get their face time every now and then and the rest of us can get the rest of our time back to do our actual jobs. We’ll see how this goes, lol.

      4. Joielle*

        Pre-meetings to plan what to talk about at meetings, then meetings, then post-meeting meetings to talk about what happened at the meeting. In my case, my job has a lot of strategic and policy aspects so a lot of it really is necessary, but my god it’s a lot of meetings sometimes.

    2. Bit o' Brit*

      I’ve usually got plenty to do, but no one knows what my job is/is meant to be. It’s been the subject of my appraisal for the last 3 years, and theoretically I’m getting a(nother) new job description next year. I’m helpful and knowledgeable about our systems, so everyone knows that if they have a question I can probably answer it, but I am quite explicitly not IT support, and they hired two new roles in the past few years that do all the stuff I thought was probably my job.

      There are two people at the company who I have no clue what they do most of the time. The bits I know they do account for maybe a couple of hours a week, and I’ve been a little involved in so many functions at this company that I’m surprised there’s anything I don’t know anything about, though there must be.

      My last job I had literally nothing to do most of the time. There was a CRM spreadsheet that I endlessly cleansed and then made mathematical models in Excel for my personal use. I was hired because my boss was irreplaceable and overwhelmed, but he was too busy to train me so I couldn’t take any of it on. The only actual work task I did in my 11 months there was make a horrendously complicated pricing model as part of a pitch to overhaul their pricing system and I don’t think it was even used.

    3. hbc*

      As long as you don’t complete “I don’t know what they do” with “so therefore they don’t do anything,” that’s okay. I’ve been the manager sending out the apparently pointless weekly email, and a lot of times it definitely has a point. Sometimes that point is just to communicate what’s going on because people complain that they feel like they don’t know what’s going on. Often that stuff is boring, but better to be thought boring than surreptitious.

      I once had a manager whose employee complained loudly that the manager’s job should take about 15 minutes a day. The manager said, “Fine, you go do my job” and had him try to sort through everyone’s timesheets. That employee quickly changed his mind.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        Thank you! I had to train the woman who was, on paper, my supervisor* and after a month or two of working together, she claimed she could do both of our jobs in a 40 hour work week. One half hour of a morning without me showed her she needed me for help for our shared morning tasks and one meeting where my bosses and I laid out my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks really set her straight. Just because a person’s job duties aren’t readily apparent doesn’t meant that they don’t exist.

        *On paper only. This was explicit from everyone higher up the chain than the both of us, but she refused to believe it.

      2. LW3*

        Haha I know you guys are doing something! I’m just trying to figure out what it is. Which, now that I’ve read a tons of comments, I’m getting a better idea of.

        Also, I love the story about the employee complaining about the manager’s job. I’m jealous that my manager gets to sit in his office sometimes, but I know his job is super stressful and I wouldn’t want to take it on myself!

    4. Not+All+Hares+Are+Quick*

      I remember my first day at my first ‘real’ job, in a bank, when I asked the coworker who’d been tasked to ease me in ‘How many people work here?’
      His answer? ‘About half of them.’
      Further experience of that particular office at that time (early 1980s) showed him to be not far wide of the mark.

  7. Gil*

    LW3 made me laugh because I remember being in my late 20s, and I left the office early (or took a day off), and I couldn’t BELIEVE how many people were out & about! “Do this many people have the day off?” I thought, to myself. I had always worked in an office. All my friends worked in offices. I assumed EVERYONE worked in an office!

    It wasn’t until I moved (from Boston) to Los Angeles, and met a lot of non-9-to-5-job people that it finally dawned on me that there were jobs other than office jobs. This still makes me laugh when I think of it.

    1. SwiftSunrise*

      Just tonight I was texting with my dad, who’s always worked office jobs, and he was SO CONFUSED that even though the banks and post-office are closed the day after Christmas this year (since the 25th is a Sunday), that doesn’t mean my retail-lite job is also closed!

      After ten years, you’d think he’d eventually grok that if a federal holiday falls on a day we’re usually closed, I don’t get an extra day off in compensation. Sigh.

      1. Chirpy*

        I have to use a vacation day to get Christmas Eve off. On a Saturday. It may not get approved. I only get Christmas/Sunday off because we’re closed, ugh. I hate retail.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        That’s so funny to me, because I work in an office and I know from general being out and about in the world that retail places are not closed on nonholidays and even open on some holidays.

        1. Elenna*

          This. Has he… never left the house on the 25th? I have only ever worked in office jobs, but I can use my eyes and notice that retail shops are still open, and there are in fact people working in them.

          1. Chirpy*

            You’d be surprised at the number of people who get really angry that all stores aren’t open 24/7/365. My store has very typical hours for the area and type of store, and only closes on very major holidays, yet some people seem to think their lack of planning to shop during normal hours is our problem.

            1. Gracely*

              When I lived abroad, I got used to places actually being closed on certain days and after certain times. Then my mother came to visit, and it nearly broke her brain that we couldn’t just pop down to a store to buy whatever after 7pm, or that most places were closed on Sunday, and that I planned what we were doing when because some things were closed on certain days, so we couldn’t just change it on a whim or she’d miss out on some of things she wanted to do.

              It’s not *that* hard to plan around. But some people really aren’t good at planning.

          2. SwiftSunrise*

            Oh, he has, but I work in a little boutique store that has very few of the drawbacks of working “proper” retail – which is why I jokingly refer to it as retail-lite or retail-adjacent!

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          I mean, we did have a commenter the other day who could not fathom the idea that many (most?) offices can’t just cut back to a skeleton crew during the holidays.

      3. 1-800-BrownCow*

        My mom was a SAHM for years and then worked as a church secretary, followed by a receptionist at a bank. My dad also worked an office job his entire career. I’m married to an EMT and for years my mom would be shocked when I would mention my husband was working on a holiday, especially Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter. She couldn’t seem to grasp that medical-related fields had to work holidays. I’ve also had friends who live in surburbs of large cities share stories of a family member having a major medical episode on say Christmas Day and they did not call 9-1-1 because they didn’t want to bother EMS on a holiday. They seemed surprised when I’d explain that they’re at work anyway, so you’re not really bothering them. I’d understand if it was a rural area, like where I grew up, in which you typically get an on-call first responder who is responding from their house. But in larger towns and cities, they are at the station working like any other day. It’s interesting how people in certain careers don’t seem to understand that other careers work different schedules.

        1. Observer*

          ’ve also had friends who live in surburbs of large cities share stories of a family member having a major medical episode on say Christmas Day and they did not call 9-1-1 because they didn’t want to bother EMS on a holiday.

          In my experience, people like that are likely to not call EMS on other days too, for one “reason” or another.

      4. Happy meal with extra happy*

        I work for a large company that has both corporate jobs with more standard work week hours and retail-based jobs that can be on the weekend, so in order to have one PTO structure across the board, our ten federal holidays are somewhat more like floating holidays and not automatic. If you’re working on the federal holiday, you’re expected to take it if your office/workplace is closed, but if you’re not scheduled for that day, you can use it another day.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My hospital system works similarly and includes the official paid holidays in the PTO bucket.

    2. amoeba*

      Yeah, even with non-office-based 9-5/6/whatever jobs, this happens! I was working in a lab for most of my career so far, but it was always the standard morning to early evening, weekends and holidays (officially, at least) off schedule.

    3. Helvetica*

      I’ll do you one better – before my office based career, I worked a schedule-based non-office job, meaning I was out during the weekday and also could not believe how many people were not working! Why were they out? Well, of course, I was also out because I was not scheduled to work that day but did not connect the dots immediately :)

  8. Unregistered Llama*

    LW3, In an actual office:
    typing, thinking, reading, BS to prove that I am doing all of the above, socializing so that I am a “team player” and not considered rude, waiting for time to pass, pretending to do things while I wait for time to pass.

    In my current home office working for myself:
    more typing, much more thinking, marketing my business/looking for new work, admin work to run my business, doing the best with the time I have, creating more time from whole cloth.

    1. LW3*

      Well, working from home definitely sounds better from these descriptions! Congrats on being able to work for yourself :)

  9. Chirpy*

    #1 – my workplace allows customer’s pets, and we are *required* to call the police and file a report if a dog bites anyone in the store. That dog is then permanently banned, no second chances.

    This isn’t just an insurance thing for the store (though I’m sure it’s a factor), I do believe there’s a state law involved. If I remember correctly any dog that bites enough to cause injury twice can be euthanized/ removed from the owner (based on an incident from my childhood where a family member’s dog bit another family member, requiring stitches, and the hospital had to report it, despite the dog normally being well behaved and the injury not being too serious.) You may want to check if there’s any local ordinances like this, they’re usually designed to protect against dangerous dogs or rabies. The company/dog owner might want to know if they’re going to be held responsible for injuries on the premises, or if there might even be a risk of losing the animal if it’s not well behaved in public.

    1. 1LFTW*

      I also live in a jurisdiction where medical facilities are legally required to report skin-breaking dog bites. It’s probably pretty common, come to think of it; animal services would need to make sure the dog has a rabies license, and they’d want to know if it has a bite history, etc.

      If I were one of the other two owners, I would *definitely* not want the potential liability of having a bitey dog on premises.

      1. Observer*

        If I were one of the other two owners, I would *definitely* not want the potential liability of having a bitey dog on premises.

        Good point. OP, once you find out what the laws in your jurisdiction are, you might want to point out to the other owners that this creates a legal liability for them as well. And they won’t be able to control if this ever gets reported, no matter what policies they have, official or not (eg even if the threaten to fire anyone who goes to the doctor.)

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I’m a doc and every state I’ve practiced in (four) requires all dog bites to be reported. I once had a dog groomer beg me not to report the dog because she felt the bite was justified (fur was very matted and she thought she hurt him while trying to detangle his coat). Had to anyway – it’s a legal requirement and I could lose my license if I don’t. We had a dog who bit someone and I knew it would be reported. I also knew if it happened again they would confiscate the dog and we made da*ned sure it didn’t happen again.

      3. Gracely*

        Yeah, medical facilities reporting this kind of thing is actually essential because of the potential for rabies. I had a dog bite me when I was a kid (it attacked my dog while I was walking it, and I got caught in the middle). Dog had its shots but they couldn’t find the paperwork or something, so the dog had to be quarantined for 10 days to be sure (and I think I was given the first rabies serum shot or whatever as a precaution). It was a really serious bite, and I was scared of dogs for awhile, even my own–largely because I knew the dog that bit me. They were an otherwise very sweet dog. That dog hadn’t even meant to bite *me*, it was trying to get at my dog. That’s the issue a lot of dog owners don’t understand–your dog might be super sweet! Best dog ever! But accidents happen, and dogs have instincts, and those override the sweetness sometimes.

        My mom got attacked by a dog when she got out of her truck on her way to work to check something, and the owners refused to produce the dog (no idea what happened with that legally, though my mom didn’t want to pursue anything herself b/c it would’ve been a waste of time/money), so my mom had to go through the full rabies vaccine course. Thankfully nowadays that’s just 4 or 5 shots in the arm/shoulder, spaced out over a month or so (not the 20+ in the abdomen like it was in the 80s), but it’s still unpleasant.

        I mean, there is definitely a difference between a nip and a bite (having experienced both). I think of a nip being where teeth don’t actually touch anything, just *near* skin–like when my friends’ Australian shepherd nips *at* us to try and herd us from room to room during parties. That dog has never had their teeth actually touch any of us, and even then, my friends stop him as soon as they catch him doing it. A nip can also be when a dog just barely touches you with their teeth. But that should be an owner+dog activity ONLY, never with other people. The way I’ll let my cat “bite” me, but she’s not actually putting any pressure and nowhere near breaking skin–I don’t let her do that with anyone but me and my spouse. And I know that if she were doing it and something freaked her out, I could get bit. I’m okay taking that risk with her with my own hands, but I’m not about to let someone else take that risk with her.

        No matter how you define it, if the teeth break skin, there’s so much legal liability. It just isn’t worth courting that.

    2. 1LFTW*

      I also live in a jurisdiction where medical facilities are legally required to report skin-breaking dog bites. It’s probably pretty common, come to think of it; animal services would need to make sure the dog has a rabies license, and they’d want to know if it has a bite history, etc.

      If I were one of the other two owners, I would *definitely* not want the potential liability of having a bitey dog on premises.

    3. Lilo*

      A friend of mine worked in retail at a dog friendly place. A dog bit her coworker (badly enough coworker had to go to the hospital) and they did all the required reporting. The dog’s owner no joke, threatened to sue them (I guess animal control was involved because this wasn’t the dog’s first bite).

      1. ecnaseener*

        I assume that threat didn’t go anywhere LOL? When you’ve got direct evidence the victim was bitten so you can’t claim it was a false report, what’s there left to sue over?

        1. Lilo*

          I think the manager freaked out and bullied the coworker into dropping the animal control complaint. My friend quit shortly after that, the place a ss pretty toxic.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            At the point that animal control is involved where I grew up, the complaint would have continued just fine without your friend. As happened with the case of a horrid owner I grew up down the street from. His dogs were seized, after a series of roaming and attacks, and Animal Control proceeded with the other evidence they had (phone calls reporting the dogs were at large, any hospital evidence, etc).

            1. Chirpy*

              Yeah, in the incident with my family member’s dog, the family member bitten fully admitted they had been messing with the dog and it was their own fault. The dog was otherwise very sweet and had never been aggressive or bitten anyone, but it still had to be reported. We did not have a choice even though no one was going to press charges or anything, just the fact someone needed a few stitches made it automatic.

          2. Observer*

            I’m with @Where’s the Orchestra here. I don’t think that the employee had the ability to “drop” the case. Animal control and the hospital are going to move forward whether the CW cooperates or not. And keep in mind that HIPAA would not keep the hospital from sharing any information, if necessary, even if some details had been left out with the original report.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              The difference is that Animal Control would have had to get a warrant to get the records if the person bitten didn’t want to cooperate anymore.

              However, some places really hamstring Animal Control and their abilities to hold bad owner’s accountable – so the person bitten not cooperating anymore could scuttle the case.

      2. Chirpy*

        Yikes. I once had a customer tell me about how her dog got attacked by another dog in a different store. That dog also seriously mauled a puppy minutes later (I’ll spare the details, but she told me the puppy nearly died), but by her account the dog’s owner still tried to brush both attacks off. Some people just do not think straight about their pets.

    4. TinySoprano*

      I think most places have similar laws but it depends how strongly they’re enforced.

      I know a dog-sitter, who had a client with a dog that could be unpredictable. This dog had bitten someone else once, and was on some kind of probationary period, then it bit the dog-sitter’s son quite badly. The owners had the dog euthanized, but I don’t think local council compelled them to do it, I think it may have had one more strike before then or something. The owners just felt that at that point it was unlikely the behaviour would improve, and accepted responsibility that a child had been harmed by their dog. Council would’ve been fine for them to send the dog back to the sitter the next week.

      In a workplace though, surely it comes under some kind of OH&S regulations as well as whatever animal laws there are? My boss only brings her dog to work when we pester her to (he is a precious lovely angel potato) because she thinks he’s a tripping hazard and could violate OH&S. My response is if someone trips over a 50kg rottweiler who’s been sleeping in the same spot all morning, that’s kind of on them for not looking.

  10. Brain the Brian*

    LW2: You mention that you’re working on a master’s degree to fully qualify for your promotion. If that degree program is a management one, you might also consider discussing with professors / mentors / peers there how to handle a situation like this. It will doubtless arise again.

    LW3: one more to add — translation of documents and other materials between languages.

    1. allathian*

      Translation and proofreading here. In my case it also includes admin stuff like tracking requests and communicating with our internal customers, negotiating non-statutory deadlines, prioritizing work tasks within the remit of my position, and outsourcing some translations to a translation agency we partner with.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Yes, 100%. I’m not a translator (I work with them), but every one I know spends time this way, too.

  11. Rhyme and Reason*

    I am astounded at the leniency of the response to LW1. The dog is BITING people, and the suggestion is to maybe talk to someone about its “disruptive” behaviour? The fact that it’s the owner’s dog is irrelevant – if a dog bites you at work, it should be reported immediately and if an injury is sustained, go directly to urgent care, document everything, and file a worker’s compensation claim.
    OP, this is NOT NORMAL and your boss(es) are insane to be shrugging this off. The liability alone should have had them scared out of their minds after the first bite, yet not only do they not seem to care, but they’re happy to let that behaviour continue?

    1. Allonge*

      The fact that it’s the owner’s dog is relevant in that there is nobody to report this to without a severe risk of getting fired. Alison is not lenient, she is realistic.

      1. ?*

        If there’s no injury, going to urgent care and filing for worker’s comp is going to make OP look irrational—that doesn’t mean what’s happening is ok, but I think Allison is being realistic in her answer. Urgent care doesn’t want to prove a point to someone’s boss by giving treatment for a tiny nip over clothing or something, and it won’t help OP make the case that her concerns are legitimate (which they are!).

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed – if the dog is drawing blood and destroying clothes by biting there is evidence to work with. But if there’s no marks/wounds/damage it’s a lot harder to argue the dog is dangerous and needs to be removed (especially if the dog is small and belongs to the boss, sadly dangerous little dogs are frequently underestimated in the danger they represent).

          1. cncx*

            I have a family member who has absolutely feral little dogs from a puppy mill. It’s wild how some people think little dogs don’t need to be trained. When I visit I’m afraid they’re gonna eat my face in my sleep. They snap and bite at me for existing. People minimize the danger untrained or uncontrollable little dogs pose.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Then take stronger measures? No one is saying never directly confront the owner. People are (rightfully) saying that unfortunately there may be a choice between dealing with the dog and losing your job. Different people are going to fall at different spots along that spectrum.

    2. Claire*

      I mean, they’re the owners, and if they’re in the US, they can fire anyone for any reason, even for speaking ill of Pepito. Your advice is only good here if LW1 has another job lined up or enough money set aside to tide her over until she finds another one, because it will certainly lead to her losing her job. Anyone who’s oblivious or uncaring enough to bring their biting, untrained dog into the workplace will absolutely get rid of the employee complaining before they leave the dog at home.

      1. Rhyme and Reason*

        Not true; firing someone for making a workman’s comp claim is retaliation and is illegal.

  12. Office drone for 20 years but happy!*

    LW3 – Office job for the last almost 20 years. Which I fell into right after college but seem to be really good at – I have had a number of jobs in procurement and sourcing (and managing up to 13 employees in that area). I have done a lot of thing in my career, including negotiating contracts with suppliers for the next Air Force One and managing repairs and maintenance for the current presidential aircraft. But currently I manage all strategic sourcing for new product development at my company.
    A lot of people don’t realize there are people negotiating contracts for basically everything medium to large companies buy. I now have an MA, but my BA is in English and I didn’t realize this was thing people did until I started doing it. Most of my day is spent figuring out the best strategic paths for partnerships that can help both my company and our suppliers grow our business together.

    1. IRB analyst*

      I think even if people know how many contracts exist, they assume it’s always lawyers doing the negotiating! I’ve been asked before if I have a JD when I mention negotiating/editing a contract – nope, just an unrelated bachelors (and a few years experience with the specific relevant laws), but I can work off an existing template just fine!

      1. Insert+Clever+Name+Here*

        So true! I can negotiate about 90% of the language in our documents without legal’s input — another 8% I can propose a handful of boilerplate alternatives already pre-approved by legal. It’s only about 2% that I hand the document over to legal for them to deal with.

      2. Sad Desk Salad*

        I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve had where I’ve thought “I went to law school for THIS?” I’m finally in a job where the paralegals and contract managers handle the simple contracts and get us started with drafts, and we get involved where there are high-stakes terms at issue, or when a final approval is needed. The bulk of our ex-US work is taken on not by lawyers, but by specialists who work off our templates, and have relationships with the other parties in their countries as well as a grasp of local laws, customs, and languages.

      3. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        Yes! A large part of my current job is negotiating/managing contracts and I have never taken even one law class. I also have a BA in Literature and just stumbled into this – but I really like it.

  13. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP4 – think of both your resume and LinkedIn as marketing material.

    You should be tailoring resumes to jobs.

    Whether on paper or LI, you can omit things like graduation dates or older entry level jobs if you want to avoid ageism. Neither has to be a complete accounting of every job you’ve had ever.

    Obviously, don’t put anything fake on there and please don’t follow the trend of putting “sexy ex” employers on your headline, but there’s nothing inherently wrong in how you’re approaching your resume. Good luck.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      Not sure exactly what you mean by “sexy ex” but I’ve worked for some very well known/food reputation companies and that alone can attract recruiters, so those things can matter.

    2. Past Lurker*

      Sadly, most jobs in my field use online applications that require your graduation date, start/end dates for previous jobs, your desired salary, etc. before they even set up a screening interview. Hard to state your desired salary when you don’t know the full scope of the job yet.

  14. E*

    A friend works in a dog friendly place and they took their new pet in,realised it was acting up and vowed to not take her in again until it was resolved. This should be the answer, and if the owner won’t do it themselves the manager (or nesrest highest if it is the managers/highest person in the office) should insist to the owner.

    I’m actually wary of dogs so as a worker that would be a hostile work environment and I’d be asking to work from home if the dog was to keep being brought in, and expect the owner to be told to train it or not bring it to the office.

    It’s a perk to be able to do this and it shouldn’t be causing a distraction.

    1. Jessica*

      As Alison has frequently pointed out, “hostile work environment” is a phrase that has a specific legal meaning in the US, and that meaning is pretty restrictive, so this doesn’t likely qualify. As opposed to a phrase like “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad work environment,” which has no precise legal definition but unquestionably applies here.

      If you were allergic to dogs, they’d need to at least engage in some sort of process with you about finding accommodations for you not to be exposed to them. Would E’s wariness or my outright terror constitute a mental-health condition that justified similar accommodations? I am not a lawyer, but I’m sure someone here is.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Is dangerous work environment a thing? Being at risk of dog bites every day is not a safe work environment.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          I have no clue if this is a thing under OSHA/similar state regulations, but under OSHA, there is no private right of action, meaning that an employee cannot sue their employer for violating OSHA. They can report the employer to OSHA, who can be fined or whatever.

          1. Koifeeder*

            But if you elect Visser Three, he will personally guarantee that NO dangerous animals will ever trouble you again! Ever!

            *Taxxons exempt from categorization as animal

        2. urguncle*

          OSHA officially has no standards for pets in the workplace unless it’s a place that is supposed to work with animals. I got curious and looked it up.

      2. Wintermute*

        To qualify for legal protection a medical condition has to be something that is a recognized medical condition that impacts your daily life. Unfortunately that leaves a big gap where fears are reasonable. If you have a true phobia– an irrational, overriding fear of something mundane, they would have to accommodate that if possible (of course, such things may not be possible, you still need to be able to accomplish the core job tasks), but if your fear is not irrational then it’s not a phobia and thus it’s not a medical condition.

        It’s very nearly literally the situation from the book Catch-22: instead of insanity and flying bombers it’s irrational fear of dogs and being bitten by dogs. If a dog bites you then being scared of it is rational, ADA protections only apply if you have an irrational fear, the dog being actually dangerous means you can’t be irrationally scared of it, only rationally scared.

        That’s why I think the public safety/workplace safety route or the liability route would be more fruitful than the ADA here.

  15. Frank*

    LW3: I’m a teacher now, and prior to that I worked retail for a few years. But… my career before kids was in an office. For 10+ years I was a photo editor at Time, Inc (both the position and the company no longer exist). I looked at slides and digital film about 75% of my time. This included rummaging through the old archives, which I found quite exhilarating. The rest of my time was spent on the phone, typing up quotes, correspondence with other PEs and managers, and laughing with my coworkers about various things. I had a wonderful boss and truly loved my job. *sigh* The death of printed magazine publishing still makes me sad.

    1. Plain Jane*

      I also had an earlier career in print media, and sometimes miss it terribly! Magazines were lovely and more relaxed, but newspapers were intense and exciting. I loved them both. None of those jobs exist locally for me anymore.
      LW3– I work in nonprofit healthcare. I go to meetings, answer many questions for our front line staff, hold trainings for new hires, solve problems, and all sorts of things for our electronic health records. While it’s technically healthcare, my job is all office- and computer-based. I rarely deal with patients.

  16. JSPA*


    I’m wondering about your temp source. Temp agencies are supposed to be fairly flexible, but not infinitely so, as far as whom they hire, and where they send them. How good are the good people from that temp agency? Is there more than one temp agency in the area? What are their policies, on their workers quitting? Is there any flexibility on using a different agency, with different policies? If you pay slightly more, can you get a vast improvement in temp attitude and quality?

    What feels like bullying: On a personal interaction level, is it possible that you’re being too kind, and as a result, you’re telegraphing your irritation far in advance of saying anything? This can leave people with the sense that a) there’s something major bothering you and b) you won’t tell them what it is and, perhaps, c) there’s something guarded / fake / phony about you, and that you have simmering anger.

    If you’re quietly seething about the phone use before asking what they’re doing (which could feel like a gotcha), that may be registering on them. It might be better not to ask what they’re doing, but rather, ask, “do you happen have a half hour free, soon?” If they say, “no, I’m uploading the documentation for the shrdlu report, then diving into that,” you can say, “OK, well, let me know if you do.” And then they have not had negative feedback on playing on the phone while keeping an eye on downloading, compiling, or whatever.

    Heck, maybe they’re reading AAM, or something else that’s not “work,” but is still “learning about how to exist in an office space, and office norms.”

    And even if they’re playing a video game…are they doing a solid quotient of work, and doing it well? Is their work product comensurate with their pay and their job security? Better to manage on that basis, than police phone use.

    Finally, why nothing but temps? A fair subset of people who work temp, do so because while they’re overall competent, long periods of concentrating on the same thing break their brains, and they just can’t deal with that. If an “I take mind breaks when needed” mindset is truly unworkable in your office, maybe your workplace needs to hire non-temps, or only temps who are explicitly looking for temp-to-hire, or pay more for better-screened temps; but in the meantime, tightening the screws on your temps (or more broadly, policing behavior rather than output) probably won’t do much to change who they are and how they operate.

    1. JustSomeone*

      You articulated the ideas bouncing around in my head so much better than I could have! I second the idea that the “hey, whatcha working on?” thing may be coming across as a passive-aggressive “gotcha,” and that it would probably be better to focus on work output rather than whether they are or aren’t using their phones.

      1. JustSomeone*

        I should say, I definitely don’t think the LW sounds like a bully or a bad manager from what’s presented here! I just think it might be helpful to adjust their approach on this one particular subject.

        1. JSPA*

          agreed! managing temps as core workers is a bit like using herd cats, rather than herd dogs…and there’s a reason people use herd dogs, not herd cats.

    2. bripops*

      tbh the “why nothing but temps” question can often be answered with “corporate short-sightedness”

      I’ve had a revolving door of temps since August and based on what they pay the temp agency it would actually be cheaper per hour to promote me to a manager, give me the associated raise, and hire a full time replacement for me, but corporate is convinced that I don’t need permanent help and that it’s totally reasonable to expect me to run the office by myself.

      incidentally, I am looking for other work. corporate’s stinginess with pay and staffing means I’m burnt out on managing my office more or less solo (I have the temp help that could disappear on a corporate whim and like 20% of my area manager’s attention) and I’m not even officially a manager! I have a very promising final interview tomorrow that would almost double my pay so wish me luck lol

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Regarding the temp agency I feel like they definitely need to know about the temps playing on their phones and parking where they have repeatedly been told not to park. And of course the text message too, because that’s way out of line. But OP’s manager also needs to be told. That temp definitely shouldn’t be allowed to come back and bully OP.

  17. Midnight Office Worker*

    LW3: I’ve worked two office jobs (both not in the US).

    Job 1: checking people’s and companies tax filings, requesting additional documents needed for tax assessments, assess people’s taxes, answer people’s questions about their taxes on the phone, deciding wether people can get an extension on their tax payment, deciding on formal complaints companies had on their tax assessments, researching tax law (to decide on those issues), checking documents, asking questions about facts (to determine correct tax), writing to the tax court on matters concerning law suits (arguing for the legal case of the tax office), training trainees

    Job 2: researching corporate law and related matters, explaining corporate law of our country to people from other countries, checking legal documents of companies to be sold or bought by clients for legal risk and writing down the risks in a report, preparing powerpoint presentations on possible solutions for legal issues, drafting contracts (relating to selling shares in companies) and other legal documents such as power of attorney, implementing changes into contracts agreed upon by the parties, proofreading contracts, keeping track of deadlines arising out of those contracts, asking client and other party for missing documents they wanted to provide as attachment for contracts and sanity checking those contracts

    Guess which job pays three times as much as the other.

  18. Frankie de J.*

    What a great question and that site is so awesome …. My kid is trying to decide what direction to go in for the 2nd half of high school ( in Europe ) and having a list of occupations just to have a starting point is so helpful.

  19. Fortnum*

    LW3: I’ve always been more office-based than it sounds like you are, but previously I worked in labs and just started my first entirely office-based role. It’s great ☺️ I’m using my lab experience to make things better for the people who are in the labs, and my role is both technical (science, data) and non-technical (change management, culture).

    1. LW3*

      Nice! I’m glad you are enjoying it :) my husband is lucky enough to be moving up in his organization into an office job soon to do something he likes more too.

  20. Luna*

    LW1 – First, request that Pepito’s owner be what that word actually means: an owner. Teach him to not do things. It takes a while, you keep having to remind them, you keep up the training and all.
    Yes, it’s work. Yes, it’s hard.
    That’s what getting a pet includes.

    I really dislike pet owners that refuse to properly train their pets. I see this usually with dog owners, especially those that own the smaller breeds.
    If talking to Pepito’s owner doesn’t help, you will have to talk to your manager and/or the other owner about how the dog makes it difficult for you to get work done, due to jumping on surfaces, barking or playing with loud toys being distracting, etc. And yes, the sole problem is with Pepito, not with the other dog that is being brought in.

    And if they decide dog trumps humans, you need to get a different job.

    LW2 – The one that sent you a six paragraph note attacking you personally was just the epitome of sour grapes. Just let it go and specifically know that ‘that one’ (the paragraph writer) was just immature and didn’t like being told to play by rules.
    The other one, maybe there were issues, but if they focused on your work behavior appearing like bullying, at least they’d be focusing on the problem. If there is one.

    1. small dog owner*

      Some small breed owners do just want a living cuddly toy, but there are challenges to teaching a small dog manners that bigger dogs don’t have, namely that no living creature respects a small dog. Bigger dogs will bully them while “being friendly” (and almost all dogs are bigger dogs to them), little kids will run up to them squealing, adults will pick them up without warning, and these things only stop when the little dog snaps. It’s not just training bite inhibition, it’s trying to teach a tiny animal with no means of escape that they’re safe when all evidence and past experience points to the contrary. A bigger dog can body-block, has the strength to wrestle itself free, and is far less delicate and easily hurt, so has far more options it can be taught before resorting to aggression.

      Obviously dogs with these issues do not belong in the workplace. It’s just very tiring to hear this refrain that small dog owners are bad when all it takes is one negative interaction with a big dog to undo years of work.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Let’s just say that all dogs need to be taught to socialize with both humans and other dogs, regardless of size. I have two large dogs often labeled as dangerous (due to jaw strength) and we train them CONSTANTLY. The issues we’ve had? Small dogs completely untrained and unrestrained who rush ours aggressively. One will retreat, the other wants to play (he really LIKES other dogs) but is puzzled by the aggression. And when my quieter, retreating dog finally growls and snaps in defense – she’s the one labeled as aggressive solely due to size. Again: All dogs – and owners – need to be trained. (I’m not blaming small dogs; I do understand that they are frightened. But big dogs get scared too.)

        Advice for the OP: I wouldn’t sugarcoat the discussion. “Owner, Pepito is a nuisance. He is disruptive, nippy, and I am afraid of me, our coworkers, or clients being bitten, with legal consequences for the company. Can you please keep him at home?”

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Amen. It is not a whole lot of fun trying to maintain control over my collective 135 pounds of dog (one 50 pound boxer mix and one 85 pound Great Dane puppy) when they are panicking and trying to get away from the 10-pound yappy mop head that’s trying to get up in their faces because its owner can’t bother to keep it contained so it’s running around the neighborhood unsupervised. And yet, the jackhole driving by yells out their window at me to stop harassing the little dog.

      2. Observer*

        Obviously dogs with these issues do not belong in the workplace. It’s just very tiring to hear this refrain that small dog owners are bad when all it takes is one negative interaction with a big dog to undo years of work.

        No one is saying that small dog owners are bad. They *ARE* saying that too many small dog owners dismiss genuinely problematic behavior because the dog is small. Also, that small dog owners are more likely to have not really gotten on board with all of the work that being a dog owner (at any size dog) takes.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yep. Small dogs are more work, and harder to be taken seriously, in a lot of ways. My old jack russell bit me bad enough that I had to go to the ER and the nurse laughed at me because it was a small dog and not like a pitbull (I love pitbulls but the stigma is real). Some owners are willing to do that work, some aren’t, and untrained small dogs are rampant and dangerous, but it’s hard to get that through the heads of people who think the aggression is cute or harmless.

          Again Not All Small Dog Owners – but definitely this one and plenty of others.

        2. small dog owner*

          But their “evidence” for that is that the small dog is reactive, which looks the same on a dog that hasn’t been trained as it does on a dog that’s panicking after a single setback undid years of work trying to heal a lifetime of repeated low-key trauma.

        3. Pescadero*

          As someone who has owned several dogs, ranging from small to large…

          I think that statement is just untrue.

          I don’t think the size of the dog has any correlation at all with how well or well not the dog is trained/socialized.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Because you owned them all, that’s the common factor. Every vet/groomer/trainer I know gets a lot more anxious with small dogs because on average – again, not across the board, just taking the general population into account – small dogs are not trained as well and tend to be more aggressive.

            1. Pescadero*

              I’m not talking about just my dogs.

              …and I’ve got several friends who are vets or vet techs, and they agree with me.

              Big dog owners are often better about restraining their poorly trained dogs, and many small dog breeds are inherently more aggressive – but the training/socialization level between the two does not correlate at all with dog size.

              Small dogs ARE generally more aggressive – which means at an EQUAL level of training/socialization, they are more likely to bite.

              1. Observer*

                Which actually proves the main point – that people’s tend to have more bad experience with small dogs and their owners.

                1. Pescadero*

                  It was pretty poorly stated if that is the main point.

                  …because they outright said that small dog owners train their dogs worse.

                  ” small dog owners are more likely to have not really gotten on board with all of the work that being a dog owner (at any size dog) takes.”

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        And honestly there are a LOT of bad little dog owners that make it much harder for the good owners, because we remember bad more than good.

      4. Appletini*

        All of this is true. None of it makes a dog bite heal any faster or more cleanly. (People pick up dogs they don’t know? Why are people.)

      5. Chirpy*

        Small dogs (and small horses) get the reputation for being little terrors precisely because people don’t bother to train an animal they can just drag around. And big dog owners don’t often think about how much bigger their dog is or recognize that say a Chihuahua is absolutely likely to be terrified by a strange Retriever or Lab that could eat them. Doesn’t matter how “friendly” their dog is, it’s still a strange dog, don’t just assume other dogs are going to react well.

    2. Some Dude*

      Pepito tracks with a lot of pandemic pets I’ve seen – folks who were never dog owners but got a dog because they were home all the time and have no idea how to take care of a dog and sort of shrug their shoulders when the dog is acting like a raving maniac.

  21. Pam Adams*

    I’m an academic advisor at the university level. Primarily, I talk to students. Today’s discussions included: reassuring that the student was completing their degree this term, helping create education plans, encouraging students to register for Spring, discussing next steps for students in academic difficulty, talked about study abroad, and made referrals to other programs.

    Along with this, I reviewed a group of students who started in 2016, and met with my team to discuss the term.

  22. bean*

    I do think that, rightly or wrongly, the success of LW 1’s complaint probably hinges on how big Pepito actually is. I worked with a dog named Pepito, who was a reasonably well behaved chihuahua—complaining about a bite from a creature that was, generously, eight pounds, is going to come across quite differently than a bite from a husky or a golden (especially if the skin isn’t broken). I am not saying this is fair! Small dogs can do real damage! But going up against a tiny fluffball is a different scenario from a larger dog.

      1. Lilo*

        Sorry some kind of error.

        A bite from a small dog absolutely can do serious damage. Bites can generally be a lot more damaging than, say, cutting yourself with a knife (you get both brusing and the puncture) and come with a pretty high infection risk.

        Bites are not tolerable from any dog.

    1. Observer*

      complaining about a bite from a creature that was, generously, eight pounds, is going to come across quite differently than a bite from a husky or a golden

      No. Not at all.

      If a bite broke the skin it’s just as likely to get infected (or have rabies) at any size.

      1. bean*

        I am not talking about any actual bite (especially since the OP never mentions breaking the skin), mostly the perception. People are going to hear “That dog is a menace!!” very differently if the dog is a pug or a Great Dane.

        I was terrorized by a Yorkie as a kid and got bitten by a random dog on the street a few years ago (needed a tetanus shot and everything). I’m very sympathetic to the OP! But some of the escalations suggested by commenters (police, animal control, OSHA) seem to me like “large dog, serious bite” solutions, and this may the case for Pepito! But if it’s more of a “small dog, small nips” situation, I don’t think any of that is going to serve the OP particularly well.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Except one of the reasons so many little dogs are such terrors is that people don’t take their biting as seriously as they should!

      It’s not just the amount of cutting/tearing that’s a hazard–it’s the bacteria, and small dogs aren’t cleaner.

        1. Snell*

          …Maybe not the best example. No degree of training is going to get an actual, literally rabid dog to behave. In that case, it’s not on the owner’s negligent training, it’s just tragic.

  23. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (temps sending vitriol) – Send a copy of what they sent over to their agency, with a comment like “can you shed any light?”

  24. CL*

    #3- I completely understand where you are coming from. My parents both worked as teachers so I had no idea what office jobs did. (My mom said over Thanksgiving how much she learns about the non-education working world from my siblings and I.) Alison and others have given a great list but there are some industries that have some unique roles. Education has tons of “office staff” that support parents, do administrative work for school boards, and recruit teachers, in addition to the procurement, budget, IT, and facilities work that many offices have. The association industry has event planners, people that manage volunteer committees, people that do advocacy, and membership staff. Keep in mind what you enjoy and ask questions about all the behind the scenes people that make that happen.

    1. Cautiously Optimistic*

      All schools have administrative offices. Remember the dreaded being sent to the principle’s office? They didn’t have classrooms.

      Insurance companies were where I first worked, putting together group insurance contracts and underwriting. Never did claims, but that was a big area of employment also.

  25. PsychNurse*

    A big portion of the medical field work in offices! Not only is there obviously billing and HR and legal, but even people who see patients sometimes work in offices.

    I’ve recently moved into being a Psychiatric NP and I would describe it as “office work.” I see patients, but they sit across from me in my office and I generally don’t touch them— my job is all talking and working on my computer. And I have co-workers, there are admins and receptionists, a break room, all the things that “office workers” have.

    1. Lilo*

      Yes, my Dad’s a pediatrician and only does hospital rounds once a week (they rotate, he’ll go in if a patient of his is hospitalized too). The vast majority of patients he sees are in an office setting.

    2. LW3*

      My dad is an NP too! He travels and does house visits for it though, so it’s a little different. But he used to have a more office-based job. My husband has actually just been offered an office job in his department, so he’ll be in an office soon, too.

  26. Ghostess*

    I interpreted LW #1’s mention of “the owner” as “the owner (of the dog)” not “the owner (of the business)”.

    Either way, if it were me, I think I’d just say that I was so fearful of being bitten that it was preoccupying me from getting my work done, and I will be working from home more, with a tone of “of COURSE I’ll be permitted to work from home if I feel the office is unsafe.” Maybe with an added sentiment of “I know you value employees’ well-being and I am so glad to work for such an understanding company” ad nauseum.

    1. Doctor+is+In*

      Great response. And people, do this RIGHT AWAY, don’t put up with this kind of thing for months!

    2. WellRed*

      It’s a tiny company with three owners, one of whom got the dog. That makes it trickier but OP yeah, this is a bad situation.

  27. bripops*

    OP 2: I’m with you on the temp situation, my office has had several this year and it’s been a nightmare. Examples of behavior we’ve encountered:

    -answering the phone (for clients!) with “what’s up”
    -watching a client walk past and then saying “you know, it’s really obvious she never wears a bra and it’s really distracting” (to me! a woman! idk where he thought he was going to get with that; I’m gay so maybe he thought I’d high five him and agree?)
    -when we let that guy go he filled out his timesheet for the agency that he worked 8:30-5 all three days, saying I never let him take lunch even though he was a) 20-30 minutes late every day, b) took at least two 30 minute breaks, and c) asked to leave at 4:30 every day which I allowed because I was sick of him and it was easier
    -watching videos (Joe Rogan, sports, Family Guy) on their phone out loud at the front desk despite multiple warnings to stop, even when I was sitting next to them and could see them doing it
    -falling asleep at the front desk
    -showing up in crocs every day for a week despite multiple reminders of our dress code
    -accusing a client of being homeless and asking them if they were “sure” they belonged in the office because “they looked like they came in off the street”
    -gave his business card that had a cross and a bible verse on it to every client he encountered because he had a phd from a nearby evangelical university and would not stop bringing it up, especially in the context of why he shouldn’t have to do the basic reception duties he was there to cover (again, I’m gay, he didn’t last a full day)
    -was asked to organize a supply closet and asked over and over again how to do it until I gave them a detailed list that they promptly ignored, throwing out a few hundred dollars of cleaning supplies because they “looked old”

    we did have two incredible temps; one who was a fairly recent grad who left after getting a job in his field (my boss will be giving him a great reference for the rest of his life, she liked him that much and we were devastated when he left), and one who within three days my boss had asked to apply for the manager position at location she oversees that was going to be opening fairly soon. she did and I was able to give her hands-on training for several weeks even before the hire officially went through and she’s been absolutely crushing it. (plus I get $1,000 at her six month point for “referring” her, we’re going to split it lol)

    1. Sparkles+McFadden*

      I worked for a temp agency one summer between college semesters. I was treated very well anywhere I went because I just did what they asked me to do. At one site, I was asked to reorganize the filing cabinets because “the last temp just filed everything under “T” for “the.” I was rather shocked how low the bar was.

      1. London Calling*

        *At one site, I was asked to reorganize the filing cabinets because “the last temp just filed everything under “T” for “the.” I was rather shocked how low the bar was*

        Oh that takes me back. In the late 80s I was working in the London branch of a very big American bank on a very paper heavy job – copy telexes, mostly. We were getting behind on the filing (because no-one likes filing) and we hired a temp to do the grunt work. Handed her a huge pile, explained how it worked. The filing was done in super quick time, except….the paperwork was for numerous different customers. Think Smith Limited, Acme Cleaners, Llama Groomers Associated…she’d just taken handfuls of filing, stapled it all together (in the middle) and filed it under the name of the company who’s paperwork happened to be on top.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Yeah I temped for a year when I was just out of undergrad (a long long time ago) and they practically threw a parade every time I came back from lunch. One place was surprised when I managed to clear the very short stack of filing in a half hour. Low, low, low bar.

    2. OP#2*

      And then you have the flip side where I just got done talking to HR this morning about 2 of my temps trying to get them into other roles in our company because they are awesome!

  28. Lady_Lessa*

    I work at a dog friendly company, but fortunately, the main ones that come are either good or invisible. Hank is good, visits and moves on except when eyeing my ham and cheese sandwich. You would see his picture as the definition of calm persistence. The other two I’ve noticed only occasionally, with the long haired dachshund being shy and sticking next to his owner.

  29. CA Cupid*

    LW 3, when I was a kid I used to pass by an office building with a cursive logo on top. I was little and had no idea what working really meant (weren’t the cashiers and the cable guy working? but then what were all those people on tv shows doing sitting around at desks? is that a separate thing???) so I’d look at that building and say to myself “ah, *that* must be where people go to Do Work!” Still didn’t explain what they were actually doing, but at least I knew *where* they were doing it, I figured!

    Found out in my 20s that they sell and service air conditioners. My husband had applied for a job and was tickled to tell me that he’d had an interview at what I called “The Work Place”.

    1. LW3*

      Hahaha I love that story. I live near a big city, so I always looked at all the skyscrapers growing up wondering what everyone *did* in there!

  30. Pookie*

    LW #2 As a manager I have found that when you hold employees accountable, many will say they are being bullied or targeted. I would try to not take this personally and know that this is a side effect of holding people to the rules.

  31. SW*

    LW1: If that dog bit me and broke the skin, the police would be called just as the police would be if my boss hit me. Completely unacceptable and it should be treated as the serious situation that it is as it’s *repeatedly happening.* This animal is physically harming you and you need to get out now.

      1. Chirpy*

        My work’s policy is to call the police for dog bites, I assume it goes to animal control from there once the report is made, but cops are getting there fastest.

    1. Lilo*

      You also worry that dog could seriously injure or disfigure someone (like a kid, their faces are closer to the ground and so they’re more likely to get bit there).

      Dogs are great when they’re our companions and are well trained. But an aggressive dog is a serious risk and that cannot be ignored.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I don’t know if Pepito is aggressive or just wildly overstimulated with no ability to calm himself down (both can present similarly).

        Honestly, Pepito just needs to be taken home, he’s not a good fit in the office.

  32. Squirrel!*

    Letterwriter 4: If you want to know what people do in offices all day, please read the book Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber. And I recommend this as a career admin person who has mostly office jobs on their resume.

  33. TX_trucker*

    #3 I was a truck driver for many years, and could not understand why our office staff was so large. 30 years later, I’m C-Suite and constantly amazed how much “office work” is required to transport an item from point A to B. It might be helpful to think about jobs you have experience with, and then speculate about the “support” that makes it function. If you worked at Kroger, someone in the “office” had to arrange for you to get paid (finance), labor laws were being followed, (legal and HR), sales tax collected were paid to the correct taxing authority (legal and finance), products were ordered to be placed on the shelf (procurement, legal, finance, contracts), consumers had a sales flyer (printing), consumers saw Kroger advertisements (marketing), the fork lift had fuel (contracts, purchasing), the forklift operator had the correct training (safety, risk management), and so on.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Yes, I’m an engineer at a manufacturing company and there’s a similar level of “support” office jobs needed to make a widget.

      You need an assembler out in the plant who is actually putting a widget together, but then you also need:

      – a design engineer to design the widget
      – a manufacturing engineer to design the process to assemble the widget
      – a purchaser to order the parts needed to make the widget
      – an accountant to keep track of the budget
      – a salesperson to sell the widget to customers
      – marketing to support sales
      – HR/payroll to support employees
      – IT to make sure all the employees’ computers are running correctly

      Not a complete list, just another example of how there are a lot of office jobs related to non-office jobs in lots of different fields.

    2. looking for a new name*

      This is a great way to look at this…also for people looking to change fields, to figure out what is adjacent to what they currently do.

    3. LW3*

      Oh, dang. That’s a lot of stuff. Thank you for putting that into perspective! I guess I never thought about it that way.

  34. WantonSeedStitch*

    I’ll chime in with my job, because it’s one I didn’t know existed until I sort of fell into it! I work in prospect research. This is a career that’s part of nonprofit fundraising, so a prospect researcher could work at places from a museum to a hospital to a university to a private high school to a cancer association.

    It’s a prospect researcher’s job to find information on the people who have given, or who might give, to our organization, in order to make sure that the people who solicit them for donations are approaching the right people (those who have the money and the inclination to give) and are able to build a relationship with them. We find info on wealth, giving to other organizations, career, family, and all kinds of stuff. We also help figure out who might be the best people to ask for money for certain projects like, say, a new athletic center or research on a new treatment for Alzheimer’s.

    It’s a great job for someone who loves to hunt for information (online, in databases and in news articles and so on) and who can collaborate with people who have more of a sales-y mindset (as most front-line fundraisers do). Some backgrounds of people I know in the industry include library science, journalism, investment, market research, etc.

    1. DJMinivan*

      I’m also in nonprofit fundraising, and sort of fell into it! Started out in a career in journalism, then went to PR and now in (donor-focused) communications for non-profit fundraising. Right now, our frontline fundraisers are prepping for lots of donor visits right before the holidays, so our team is working on a handful of documents or presentations for those visits– showing the impact of their giving, outlining what a new gift could do, thanking them for previous gifts, etc.

      My goals today are keeping all of those moving– I’m primary writer on a couple, I’m more of a second-reader, project-manager on others. Some example tasks: tracking down photos, editing text, finalizing details on printing needs/timelines/delivery, talking with leadership on what exactly a proposed gift would do – and/or what the donor cares about…

  35. Bethie*

    We had a temp – one of my first hires as a manager – who just could not do the job. She lied about having home internet, she lied about a lot. And sadly I knew her from about a decade prior as we lived in the same apartment building. I was excited to hire her at the start!
    Well, we had to terminate her. She then proceeded to text me some hatred which included “I hope you choke on your turkey and die” (it was right before Thanksgiving).
    Guess who is now banned from all employment with my agency? She is. Show someone the texts. Even if you are a horrible manager, the audacity.

  36. EPLawyer*

    #3 – I am interpreting your question not so much as specifically what do office people do, but how do they know what to do in the office. In retail, its kinda obvious, you work with customers, you restock, you handle the cash register, there is an opening and closing checklist.

    With an office job, you come in and what do you do? How would you know what to do? Well, its pretty easy to figure out. They tell you. I need this report by X day. So you plan out what you need to do to get the report done (using resources that let you know what is needed for the report) usually working from a template. You get assigned to a project with Y things that need to be done and you do those things. You have moved up and are now handling the Warbleworth Account. You know what goes into handling an account by now.

    It’s sorta, you figure it out and you find stuff to keep you busy, or at least looking busy. Shuffling papers is a great way to look busy. So is typing on your computer and moving your mouse.

    1. turkey time*

      This is an interesting take on this question!

      At my workplace, we recently separated “support contributors” and “independent contributors” to more clearly delineate FLSA exempt/non-exempt. The main litmus test is that support contributors are given guidance on how to plan their day because they are working in support of a person, project, or program. Independent contributors set their own priorities because they independently identify the needs of their area and strategize how to meet those needs. (The amount of subjectivity that exists for what is “support” and what isn’t is Not Cute, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

      I promoted a support contributor to an independent contributor and we did a lot of coaching on how to re-train your brain to move from “I do a good job because I check off the things on this list” to “sometimes projects have no clear path and spending time thinking about how to solve the problem is the work.” We set goals of blocking off at least 10% of their time for training/professional development and 10% of their time for strategic thinking. It does get trickier when you get into office work where no one is looking, so acting busy really doesn’t do a whole lot for anyone, including you!

    2. Julia*

      Yep. In my experience for office work you need to already know how to use email, have some basic familiarity with how to create a Google Doc and/or Microsoft Word (nothing fancy. Literally create a document and formatting), the ability to answer the phone politely and being able to be civil with coworkers.

      Entry level office jobs will tell you what you need to do, there may be some training documents and there will be some people around you can ask questions.

      I’ve worked mostly in academia, followed by tech and a public library. I did retail work as well. My first office job was an administrative assistant and I supported the head of a program that brought 5 professors in for a year long program. On a daily basis I worked on projects I was told to do, made phone calls for my boss, set up meetings, made photocopies, sent FedExes and sent out application materials. Some days I didn’t have a ton of work so I read websites, organized the work I had done in a way I could find it later, and waited to be assigned more work. I also did lots of data entry to update spreadsheets.

      I worked at a computer support help desk answering phones. That job was 70% waiting for people to call with problems. I tried to help them on the phone and if I couldn’t fix it then I made an appointment for someone to go out and fix it. It had a lot of data entry. Every time someone called I logged it into our system, made notes about the problem and if I needed to do follow up. Sometimes it would be insanely busy and sometimes really slow. Sometimes people would yell at me but mostly not. This was the most similar to retail jobs except I was sitting down.

      As a public librarian I spend time on the reference desk answering questions and helping people find things they want. People call wanting to know if we have a book, is something available as an audiobook, are there quiet rooms to study, can they use computers, how to find information about who built the pyramids in Egypt, what are viruses and do we have any tax forms.

      I also read tons of book reviews to help me decide what books to buy for the library. I check circulation data to see what is popular and what isn’t. I check to see if there are topics which people are becoming more interested in and if we need more books about that. I make sure the books we have contain accurate information and are in good condition. I promote books, movies and services in the library that people might not know we have. I run a book group and a movie night. I do community outreach.

      I think the two biggest things about office work is that you’re rarely producing work all 7 hours of the day. Sometimes you’re waiting for other people. Sometimes you’re taking time to consider the best way to do a project. Sometimes you’re trying to figure out to juggle conflicting needs. Sometimes you’re learning new skills. Sometimes you’re reading AskAManager.

  37. Baron*

    LW3, I know exactly what you mean! I’ve historically worked in a field that’s more office-y than most jobs – like, I’m sitting here in an office right now typing on a computer – but isn’t quite as corporate-ish as a lot of the letters we get in here, and even I sometimes feel confused about what people in certain jobs actually “do”.

  38. Sylvan*

    LW2: The text about your appearance, childhood, and family is wild.

    However, I can’t help noticing that you’re the common denominator in issues with a couple of people people. You’re also monitoring your temps’ time spend on phones, which probably isn’t an effective use of your own time.

    When you’ve been in a toxic workplace, like you described, it’s easy to pick up bad habits — especially if they were necessary for you to stay afloat in that workplace. Now that your workplace is improving, is there anything you’d like to do differently? Also, who is hiring temps? Can you talk to them about what’s going on and identify a way to hire better temps?

    1. Risha*

      I was thinking something like this but couldn’t really find a way to articulate it. LW2, I’m not saying you are a bad boss, not at all. You’re a victim of a toxic work environment (BTDT). And some of the things you addressed with them are 100% valid, like visitor parking. But do they need to be fully productive all the time? Can’t they get a few minutes to rest and check their phones? I would be pretty pissed if my boss said something to me about my phone usage. Especially since I meet deadlines, pick up extra work, and give my all when there is work to be done. If I want to get on my phone for 10 minutes during slow time, why would it be an issue? I do need to rest my tired brain for a bit.

      Now, I don’t know how these temps were. They could’ve been on their phones for hours. And it doesn’t excuse anything else they did/said. But maybe it’s better to pick your battles with people you supervise. And like others have suggested, talk to the temp agency or even to your own boss. Maybe your company can find another agency to work with.

      1. SarahKay*

        LW2 comments above – search for OP#2* – and it sounds pretty definite that they are not the problem, it really is a Temp Problem. I think the only reason LW2 is the common denominator is that they’re the person stuck trying to manage a long chain of badly selected (and sometimes outright dreadful) temps.

      2. shuu_iam*

        The LW said “I’ve only asked what they were working on when the phones stayed out over a 15–30-minute period or they were watching videos/TV on them,” so it’s not really the same as someone getting on the phone for 10 minutes during slow time; it seems like the LW was pretty specifically trying to avoid that kind of nitpicking.

    2. Snell*

      Taking into consideration OP2’s additional comments, it sounds like the common denominator is the temp agency, not OP.

  39. Sunny days are better*

    LW4: I was worried about this when I was looking for my last job, so I did not include graduation dates for my schooling.

    I was also able to leave off my oldest work position since it had nothing to do with the job I was applying for.

    It was clear that I was experienced because on what was actually still there, but if you were guessing how old I was based on what you saw, I easily took off about 5 years doing that.

  40. Risha*

    LW3-I work in an office setting (but from home now). I’m an RN and work for an insurance company. I determine if hospital admits should be paid or denied. I’m the one everyone hates lol. There are also doctors that work in this setting since they are the ones who have to actually sign off on denials or downgrades. We also have non clinical supportive staff (no degree required) that set up cases for us/the doctors and send any approval/denial letters to the patients. They also take calls from members who may have non clinical questions. I have 2 other jobs (contact tracing and phone nursing triage) and those fall under office jobs too.

    My husband works in an office setting (but from home) and he’s a programmer/tester for a well known ecommerce company. He has support staff on his team, but I’m not sure what exactly they do. They also have call center staff that work from home but it’s considered an office setting.

    One of my friends works in an office setting (from home too) with Social Security Admin. She processes new requests for disability claims. My step son works for our state unemployment doing the “fact finding” interviews and that’s an office setting. My step daughter works in an office setting for a cable company and she does the tech support/trouble shooting. My aunt is a paralegal in an office setting. My husband’s aunt is an online college professor and that too is considered an office setting.

    I was confused about this type of things (and almost everything else work related) when I was young and I wish there was AAM back then. Think of it like this-any hands off job is most likely an office setting. Not always of course, but I would guess at least 95% of hands off jobs are office.

  41. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    RE: Pepito
    So this isn’t at all advisable, but, no lie, I would be SO TEMPTED to get a really epic Super Soaker–like, the one that has a backpack/water storage tank that I longed for as a kid–and use it to deal with all of the Pepito-related problems.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      This is a great idea. Since Pepito’s main problem is his owner, you could spray her every time the dog acts up!

      (Note, this is not actually a great idea, and in fact it’s similar to the plot of a Stephen King book. It will almost certainly get you fired. But it’s fun to imagine the possibilities…)

  42. Observer*

    #1 – Troublesome dog owner-

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so I don’t know if what I’m saying has been explicitly addressed yet. But it’s worth noting that your boss is not only being a bad boss, she’s being a very bad owner.

    And I totally agree with everyone else that if your precautions fail and you do get bitten, you should treat it like any other workplace injury. And if the bite breaks the skin, that means seeing the doctor IMMEDIATELY. I don’t care what the boss says.

  43. Meow*

    For LW1, I think there’s some confusion on the biting. I interpreted the biting as more like mouthing or nipping where it may be uncomfortable but isn’t painful, doesn’t break skin, doesn’t cause injury, etc. Either is not something you should have to put up with at work but I think it’s relevant because some of the reactions – going to urgent care, filing a workers comp claim, calling 911 or animal protective services – is going to come off really strangely if the dog is mouthing or nipping you. I totally agree OP shouldn’t have to put up with this at work but overreacting is unfortunately going to reflect poorly on them, not on the owner or the dog.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      If the dog breaks the skin, whether it’s aggression or puppy-mouthing/play, going to urgent care and filing workers comp is still the right move. It’s still an injury and there is still risk of infection–the dog’s “motivation” doesn’t change that.

    2. Observer*

      A pup this badly behaved is eventually going to break skin or hurt someone, even if they haven’t done so yet.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      It really doesn’t matter. I’ve had many pet owners tell me “oh, he doesn’t bite, he just nips.” Uh huh. If he uses his mouth on me, it’s a bite. If he’s willing to nip, it’s just a matter of time before he gives someone a real bite.

  44. Kez*

    LW 1: A lot of people in the comments have pointed out how not-okay this is, and I completely agree that you have a right to a less-hazardous workspace. One thing that is missing from the suggestions, though, is what to do about the fact that the “training” being attempted is not working and it’s very difficult to convince someone with a destructive dog to leave them at home all day.

    I think your best bet right now, considering the power dynamics at play, is to explain how disruptive the behavior is for you at work and request that the owner of Pepito get a good leash that can be attached to their desk/chair leg so that the lil guy is within their line of sight all day. This may increase the yelling, unfortunately, but it will at least protect you from bites and counter-surfing and will mean that at any given time you actually know where the dog is in the office. Hopefully that can give you at least the peace of mind to feel safe at your desk in the near-term future. Using leashes in the home to ensure that a dog’s space and time is structured is a great bonding technique a lot of trainers advise early in the adoption process too, so Pepito might actually be calmer with this “tether” to someone he knows and can turn to when he’s frustrated or anxious.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I guarantee you that the owner isn’t leaving the dog at home because he’s destroying her house while she’s gone.

      This dog needs doggie daycare, with training if they offer it, to both burn off his energy and give him time with someone who knows how and is willing to work with him.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The leash is a good idea, but baby gates could work too. If Pepito had a corner of the office where he could be gated in and just chill out by himself, that might prevent a lot of what’s happening.

    3. AleSab*

      Hi, LW here. She has done that sometimes, when he’s been too out of control, the thing is the dog just won’t stay still and calm, it seems to me that she is no authority to him, at least not for most of the time

  45. Risha*

    LW1, I’m so sorry you have to go thru that. It must be very stressful for you and it sucks that you can’t even really say anything. I’ve never been in that situation, but if I was and if I felt like I couldn’t address it with the owner for whatever reason, I would be trying to find out if I could make an anonymous report to OSHA/animal control/anyone who will listen about the out of control dog. I have a dog too and I can’t imagine letting her act that way in public. I can’t stand people who don’t train their dogs properly (remember, it’s the human’s fault, not the dog). Bring a small spray bottle full of water and spray the dog when it tries to eat your food. Of course, only do this if you’re sure no one can see you. If others think it’s ok for a dog to share their food, that’s good for them. But to me, that’s gross for a dog to try to eat my food.

    Also, if the dog bites you and breaks your skin, do not hesitate to seek medical attention right away. Your safety comes before anything or anyone else. Don’t let anyone bully you into not reporting it. People really need to train their dogs and keep them away from other people unless the person wants to interact with the dog. You may love your dog, but not everyone else does nor do they want to interact with it.

    1. Jessica Fletcher*

      LW absolutely should NOT spray this dog with water, or use any other punishment technique, on a dog that isn’t his! Especially without permission, in secret, as you’re suggesting. First, he has no idea how the dog will react. Second, punishment as a training technique has been widely discredited, is ineffective, and OFTEN results in fear-based aggressive responses! Finally, it’s a fantastic way to get FIRED, with a totally negative reference.

      1. Risha*

        I hear and get what you’re saying, and we’ll agree to disagree I guess. I would not allow/tolerate someone’s dog to be trying to take my food. I wouldn’t allow it from my own dog, so there’s no way I would allow someone else’s dog. And of course, OP doesn’t have to take that suggestion if they don’t like it, that’s the good thing about these comments. LWs can get different options and pick/choose the ones they like. If OP feels they can’t do it (or just don’t want to), then don’t do it. If a person won’t train their dog, I gotta do what I gotta do to keep it away from me. My safety comes first before what anyone else thinks or feels or what research shows.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          My husband had a dog when we were dating that once when he was at work decided to get super territorial over his roommates bed and was growling and snapping and his roommate texted him about what to do.

          “You’re 6’2 she’s 15lbs, punt her if you have to”

          Obviously he later had to deal with the root cause of the issue, and he didn’t actually punt her he grabbed her with a towel or something. And we don’t advocate violence towards animals. But if you’re in danger, or if there’s otherwise an immediate situation that NEEDS to be resolved, you figure it out in the moment. If my dog was trying to steal someone’s food and they sprayed him with a bottle of water, fine, that’s the consequence. And luckily I’m someone who would observe that and train on the behavior. But you don’t have time to wait for me to train my dog while you’re trying to eat your sandwich.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Another example – when my dog was a puppy he chewed a wire and got shocked. He does not chew wires anymore. I hate that that happened, I felt awful that it happened when I wasn’t watching him. But he does not chew wires anymore. The wire did not want its sandwich eaten and handled it since I wasn’t there to do it.

          2. Observer*

            I agree with your fundamental point that the OP is well within their rights to react as they need to, and it’s not on them to worry about how its going to affect the dog, or if it’s a good training mechanism. The real problem is that it’s hard to know how the dog is going to react in the moment. Keep in mind that this dog is poorly socialized and stressed.

            That’s the really important point that the OP needs to keep in mind.

            1. 1LFTW*

              Yes to everything you said. This dog is poorly trained and unpredictable. OP could endanger themself by attempting any sort of aversive punishment technique. It’s just not worth the risk.

              1. Koifeeder*

                My understanding of basenjis, limited to hearsay, is that they’re strongly averse to water. Irregardless of whether this one is or not, he’s already a mouthy dog. I’m in full agreement, I think OP should assume he’s going to bite if pressed.

            2. inko*

              Yeah, my concern is that LW trying to ‘punish’ the dog will not get her what she needs and may make things actively worse.

        2. Observer*

          . I would not allow/tolerate someone’s dog to be trying to take my food.

          Which is all good and fine, but the problem is that the method you are suggesting is likely to cause some significant problems for the OP. The OP is, of course, free to do what they decide to do, but they (and anyone else reading this) should be aware of the significant issues that your suggestion poses.

          I wouldn’t allow it from my own dog, so there’s no way I would allow someone else’s dog

          Which is all good and fine. But spraying the dog is not necessarily going to improve anything for the OP. And the OP may not be in the position to “not allow” it until they find another job.

  46. Just no*

    OP2, I think you are having a strong reaction to the word “bully,” which makes total sense because it’s a very loaded word, and most people would react strongly to it. It seems quite clear to me from your letter and comments that nothing you’re doing comes close to bullying. You’re just… managing. Your temp was totally out of line with the personal attacks, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with that!

  47. Dust Bunny*

    LW3: Archives assistant here.

    I work for a medical school library, so my jobs include organizing and making inventories of doctors’ and institutions’ research and historical material; helping patrons with rare books; helping people with research; choosing material for and setting up displays for our showcases museum spaces. We’re a small department so I’m also the contact for a lot of our maintenance vendors (air conditioning units, fire and break-in alarm systems, plumber, etc.). We have some material from the newborn nurseries of some local hospitals so I often get calls from adoptees trying to verify that their birth mothers did, indeed, have them at X hospital on Y date. We also have extensive collections of photographs so if someone is looking for a picture of, say, ambulances in the 1950s, they call us. And I don’t usually do this but I do help my supervisors prepare workshops and lectures on archival processes.

  48. Jessica Fletcher*

    LW1, while you job search, it may help you to know that Pepito clearly doesn’t want to be there, either. He’s just a dog forced to spend his entire day in an office, without appropriate outlets for all his energy. Without that, he’s forced to create his own fun.

    If other people are also annoyed but the owner won’t leave him at home, honestly one option is to get others involved in training Pepito – having small training treats and teaching him to sit before getting attention, playing nicely with toys for brief periods, taking him on short walks throughout the day. Is there an unused office that the owner would set up as a calm room for Pepito, with a crate, bed, toys, etc? If his owner’s office is too busy with meetings and the owner going in and out, he needs a place where he can chill. Even energetic dogs sleep a lot when they’re home alone.

    Obviously it’s not your or anyone else’s JOB to try to train Pepito, but if you have to be around him, you might as well try to improve the situation. I would do that.

    Oh, and if you have an office, get a baby gate for your door (and the lunch room)! If you have more of an open plan, you might be able to get a “baby jail” kind of fence that you can put around yourself to eat in peace. If you can’t find a baby jail thing, look for an exercise pen at Petsmart.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            oh geez, and pretty high-energy and smart and definitely needing to be trained and kept occupied.

  49. HomebodHouseplant*

    Before I left my previous job about a year ago, I got accused of being cliquey and bullying by an anonymous coworker. This could not have been further from the truth and it really hurt my feelings. This person made up an interaction that never even happened and I lost a lot of respect for my previous boss that she put any stock into entertaining it at all. What was really going on was new hires with completely different jobs were jealous of the team that did back office work as opposed to customer facing retail work, and they just made up these perceived slights in their heads to foster an us vs them mentality. It made the environment incredibly toxic and I’m so glad I got out when I did. I was nothing but nice and friendly and welcoming to everyone that worked there, so to be targeted like that with completely false accusations really took a toll on my self esteem and trust of people.

    1. urguncle*

      I was accused of bullying my own boss because I reported to HR that she screamed at people. That experience has really made me look differently at accusations of “workplace bullying,” for better or worse.

  50. Amber Rose*

    I work in an office. Mostly what I do is attend meetings and run committees. ;_;

    But also, Alison’s list reminded me that I still have a contract to review that I forgot about, so now that manager doesn’t have to come at me in a few days when it’s urgent. Lol. One of many things I do in my office: make sure customer contracts don’t have nonsense in them.

    I also, not gonna lie, locate and share a fair few memes with my coworkers on Teams.

  51. looking for a new name*

    #3…Ha. I know about office jobs, but I still don’t really understand what my daughter and son-in-law do in their tech-adjacent (home) office jobs. Their job titles aren’t helpful!

  52. eireann*

    Biting dogs can be reported to animal control. It is not okay in any way for an employee to be repeatedly subjected to a biting dog. You need to find a way to convey that if this doesn’t stop, the dog will be reported. Please don’t pile on me for this – I am a dog owner, active in dog rescue – and I believe that one of the worst things that a dog owner can do is permit out of control behavior. It’s a surefire way to lose your dog.

  53. OyHiOh*

    The short version of what I do in an office is “support project activity, and support my department lead,” which sounds pretty opaque if you’re not familiar with how an office environment functions.

    In an average week, I work out agendas for meetings and community visits, take notes/write minutes for committee meetings, return phone calls my department lead may not have time for, maintain calendars, curate my lead’s email, assemble packets for meetings and visits, organize venues, gifts, and transportation for visits.

    All of that sort of sounds like make work and paper shuffling, except that what my department actually does translates into things you see in your community. A previous poster mentioned The Work Place – the work my department does may help that company expand and stay in the community, adding more jobs, etc. The work my department does may also assist Kroger in dropping a warehouse/distribution center into (one of the few) markets their stores currently do not serve, adding jobs both at the distribution center, and in new stores.

  54. CTA*

    Re #4

    Definitely make sure your LinkedIn and resume don’t have conflicting info. I remember looking up an applicant on LinkedIn (the link was on their resume) and I noticed their profile listed job experience at Company A was a volunteer position but their resume didn’t mention this. I didn’t hold it against that person for the discrepancy because I don’t think a lot of people keep their LinkedIn updated. But I did wish the applicant had made sure there wasn’t this discrepancy especially since the LinkedIn link was listed on their resume.

    I’ve definitely used my LinkedIn profile to list extra info that wouldn’t fit on my resume or be more in the interesting fact category. In undergrad, I received many scholarships and awards. On my resume, I listed a few that were notable and on my LinkedIn I had the full list. A resume reviewer once told me to list them all on my resume. I listed 2 on my resume but my LinkedIn had 7. I was switching industries so the awards wouldn’t be relevant anyway, but I listed a few so my resume wouldn’t be so bland. I thought listing them all was ridiculous.

    1. shoe must go on*

      Actually you do not have to care about LinkedIn. It is an over-advertised thing that makes bread for the consults who advice how to write it.

      None of my last ca 100 applications, 10 interviews and 3 jobs have visited my LinkedIn pages during the recruiting process, even though I have a link in my letter or CV. I have got one cold invitation because of LinkedIn and that was error by an intern who had not yer learned to perform age racism. (I am 50+ at IT/STEM)

  55. Adrian*

    LW2: I’ve never been a manager, and don’t want to be. I have known that what I consider getting the job done and done properly, some people would consider me being a drill sergeant.

    Now I wonder if some of those people would call me a bully. Especially in a volunteer organization. If I had to manage volunteers, they’d have to be people who operate the same way I do.

  56. Gnome*

    OP1 – First, I feel horribly for you and Pepito! I have a dog and volunteer at a shelter.

    My two cents: Pepito needs some loooong walks, real training, and probably some crate training would help. I get that the owner doesn’t want Pepito to be cooped up/destructive all day and also probably doesn’t want to pay for a walker or Doggy Day Care. If you can, maybe try to bring up crate training. It helps the dog know when it’s quite time and they are both kept safe and from getting into trouble.

    Also, is anyone walking Pepito during the day? If you can say, “Hey Owner, is Pepito late for his walk? He’s really getting into things right now, so I thought I’d ask,” in a cheerful manner (daily) it might possibly get some of the idea across.

    1. AleSab*

      I think she pays for a walker that takes him on 2 to 3 hour long walks in the morning, I’m not really sure, after that she brings him to the office where at around noon she’ll take him out again from 20 minutes to an hour tops and that’s it. She is now taking him a couple of days to Doggy Day Care (because she leaves the office 2 times a week for around 3 hours and it all gets worse, so she decided that it was best to leave him there those days), but I asked her last week like “wouldn’t you be interested in taking him there EVERYDAY?” and she replied that she doesn’t have enough money to do that :/ Honestly I think that dog needs to be doing something almost during the entire day, has way too much energy and sometimes after veery long walks comes in to bite on anything he can.

  57. Avery*

    LW3, adding my two cents as a paralegal, since I’ve found it’s an often-overlooked, under-appreciated field. My job’s technically not an office job since I work remotely, but similar enough.
    My work day consists of: uploading documents received from my boss, clients, and/or opposing counsel to shared electronic file folders for the firm; emailing clients with newly-received legal documents and mentioning specifics they need to know in the email (for instance, an upcoming court date they need to attend or a document they need to sign); drafting legal documents; electronically filing legal documents; sending legal documents I drafted/filed to clients, opposing counsel, and occasionally other interested parties; writing detailed correspondence to clients and opposing counsels about specific issues; going through documents and cataloguing what I find, often turning lists of what isn’t there into formal correspondence to send to the one who sent us the original documents (opposing counsel or our client); phone calls to clients following up on past emails; some reformatting/reworking of existing documents (for instance, today I just combined a drafted legal document which needed a signature and the client’s one page with the signature on it into a single signed document that I could then file with the court); emailing my boss having drafts reviewed or asking clarifying questions when a task is unclear; occasional calls to opposing counsel to clarify a quick uncertainty or pass along time-sensitive information, Googling and otherwise using the Internet to research specific points of law, quote legal sources, or just find the exact form I need…
    If it were in-office, all that electronic filing and going through electronic documents would likely be accompanied by physical filing and going through physical documents, but the basics are the same.
    If you’re reading this as “like general admin work, but More”… yeah, pretty much!

    1. Avery*

      Forgot to list: calling/emailing the Clerk of the Court for whatever county you’re dealing with to ask anything from favors (can this be expedited?) to basic help (did I submit this right?) to checking that the system’s working (I did X but Y didn’t come through like usual, what happened?).
      It’s not a super common task for me, but I happen to be making multiple such calls today.

  58. MarieX*

    I work in an office and my job involves analyzing and indexing scientific publications for inclusion in a global database. Just as a data point.

  59. RPOhno*

    LW1: you may also want to check into mandatory reporting requirements for your jurisdiction… in some places, medical professionals are required by law to report dog bites to a relevant enforcement agency (police, animal control, etc.), which can have pretty devastating outcomes for the dog. Framing things as concern for the dog’s wellbeing (i.e.: “I’m concerned that if someone has to go to the hospital or urgent care for one of these dog bites, the doctor might have to get the cops involved and your dog could be declared a dangerous animal) may get through to the owner in a way that framing things as a concern about workplace chaos wouldn’t.

  60. Six+Degrees+of+Separation*

    LW#4, I’m glad you asked! I’ve had the same question. I wish LinkedIn would include an option to make a filter or allow the ability to make positions “active” or “hidden.” Although I’ve removed my internships and first jobs from my resume, I keep them on LinkedIn as a reminder and convenience (occasionally have forgotten details since they dropped off my resume), but I really wish I could make viewing “only me.”

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Realistically, having stuff way down at the bottom of your profile is essentially hiding it. The odds that someone is going to study you to that extent are pretty low, so I wouldn’t sweat having those “back in the day” entries.

  61. Safely+Retired*

    On #3, I understand that the list had to be incomplete, but I think it needed a bit of editing to give an authentic feel for reality.
    … writing, attending meetings, editing, attending meetings, pitching clients, attending meetings, servicing clients, attending meetings, creating marketing campaigns and materials, attending meetings, analyzing the effectiveness of those campaigns, attending meetings, raising money, attending meetings, designing and building products, attending meetings, software engineering, attending meetings, writing product documentation, attending meetings, analyzing legislation and regulations, attending meetings, training, attending meetings, gathering data, attending meetings, analyzing data, attending meetings, building and maintaining websites, attending meetings, benchmarking costs, attending meetings, assessing legal risk, attending meetings, issuing invoices and ensuring they’re paid, attending meetings, paying bills, attending meetings, running payroll, attending meetings, tax compliance, attending meetings, procurement, attending meetings, managing transportation logistics, attending meetings, processing claims, attending meetings, making financial projections, attending meetings, accounting, attending meetings, medical coding, attending meetings, sales, attending meetings, lobbying, attending meetings, developing public policy, attending meetings, processing orders, attending meetings, managing grants, attending meetings, writing and managing contracts, attending meetings, writing legal briefs, attending meetings, planning events, attending meetings, managing supply chains, attending meetings, evaluating programs’ effectiveness, attending meetings, designing curriculums, attending meetings, managing investments, attending meetings, doing the administrative work that supports all of the above.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s because office work tends to be more collaborative compared to retail work. Every change I make, every task I take on, affects like four different departments, and so I end up holding many meetings with the people in those departments to make sure we’re all on the same page with what’s happening next.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        Yes. Very few jobs have a person doing a job alone. So they need to get together with people to discuss, coordinate, work together, handoff.

        At the management level, whether you’re managing people, projects, or something else, your job very likely involves meeting to coordinate and collaborate.

        Even something solitary like writing software code involved meetings where the coder finds out the requirements and then meetings when a user reports a defect and the coder needs to work with them to duplicate it and research it. Much easier to transfer certain types of info or have two way communication in a meeting.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Accuracy improved 100%. That said, I think we should have a meeting to confirm these added details.

  62. Erica*

    LW 4 – I know age discrimination is real so your strategy sounds smart, but hopefully it’s encouraging to hear this labor market is great for getting back in the game. I work at Johns Hopkins and we are desperate for good administrative people. If you’re interested in a remote position please consider looking there and applying!

  63. LittleMarshmallow*

    I’ve worked with and managed a lot of temps. In my experience you get a higher percent of unusual behavior from temp pools than from permanent employees pools (don’t get me wrong, I’ve have a lot of absolutely wonderful temps that I wanted to keep forever, I’m just saying… weird is more likely to happen with temps).

    I’ve personally seen this weird behavior from temps where they just tear into their manager or coworkers or whoever via email or text or sometimes verbally as they are leaving a post. These people were never the cream of the crop… the feedback was always directed at people who were well known as wonderful employees and/or managers… again, in my experience, I’m sure there are exceptions.

    So yes, you should examine yourself and ask for feedback from trusted people, but if that all comes back fine, then I’d just let it go. You might want to talk with HR or someone about it though if the company is holding that against you. It also would be good to see if those people had specific examples of how you were a bully, not just “they were mean to me because I wanted to play on my phone and park in visitor parking”. And I 100% believe that there are people that would’ve been mad just about that no matter how nicely you say it.

    Good luck!!!

  64. TallGuy*

    Real talk, LW2: where I thought your letter was going was NOT where it actually ended up. My stars.

    So, yeah, you might have work to do on approaching people. That’s fine. But the much bigger issue is that a former temp sent you a six-paragraph text that attacked a lot of things about you – which is, dare I say, extremely unhinged (and not in the fun way). Speaking of norms being warped: what that former temp did was completely unacceptable in your case, and I’m having trouble imagining any situation where that would be a reasonable thing to do.

    I don’t normally advocate this, but are you still in contact with that person’s agency? I’d consider letting them know about this as well, in addition to anything else.

  65. Anon+for+This*

    Basenji are one of the least trainable breeds of dog. They are prey driven.

    Looking into my crystal ball, I predict this dog is going to end up injuring someone seriously enough that there will be a Workers Comp claim.

    At that point, the other owners of the firm will make the dog owner leave the dog elsewhere.

  66. Former toxicity sufferer*

    “I know I’m a little warped from surviving the toxic phase”

    At least you are able to admit it.
    1) Phone usage is a normal way to relax between intensive tasks.
    2) If you have time to time how long they are on the phones, you are obviously not busy enough to complain that someone else isn’t busy.
    3) Downtime is a natural reward for efficiency. Your obsession with looking at how busy someone is instead of the work they do incentivizes working inefficiently and slowly. One way of getting over it is to instead focus on the work that has been done, see how much money that work has brought in, see how much money has gone to the worker, and take a long hard look at whether trying to get more out of them is justified by the numbers or if it’s just a product of your feelings, either of entitlement or anxiety.

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