is it wrong to remind coworkers to vote, resting your eyes at work, and more

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

1. Is it wrong to remind coworkers to vote?

I’m taking the temperature on something that happened in a meeting last week. It was a virtual meeting with about 25 people. It is our custom, as people are logging in, to have chit chat. One of my coworkers said she wanted to take the opportunity to remind everybody that the mid-term elections are on Tuesday and provided a very common website link if anybody needs it to register to vote.

Another team member told her this was inappropriate at work, and she said she wasn’t asking people if they voted or who they voted for, just giving a reminder. The team member responded that he has voted in elections longer than she has been alive and doesn’t need her help. The person leading the meeting intervened and said, “Thank you for the information and let’s get into the agenda.”

This weekend my spouse and I were talking about this and we think the person running the meeting handled it well, but was it right or wrong to say this before the meeting?

In normal times, I would have thought nothing of it. Your coworker’s statement was non-partisan and pro-voting, not advocacy for a particular candidate or issue.

In current times, the atmosphere is so wildly poisonous around politics that it’s not surprising that it quickly turned heated. But the coworker who complained is the one who was out of line.

P.S. Please vote today.

2. Closing my eyes at work

I work in a grey cubicle in a grey building with no windows, no natural light, almost no human interaction, and the constant white noise of the air system. As a result, my supervisor has seen me close my eyes at my desk a few times and had sent me an email about it. I’m staring at a computer screen for eight hours, my eyes get tired! And I’m not actually sleeping! I just close my eyes for a minute or two, then I get back to work. How do I approach this? It seems so normal and human to me?

It’s normal and human to need to rest your eyes for a minute … but it’s also normal and human that if you walk by someone who’s at their computer with their eyes closed, it will look like they’re asleep.

Can you switch things up a little to avoid that impression? For example, can you turn so your back is to your door when you close your eyes, so it’s not as easily observable? Or is there another type of break you can substitute, like standing up and stretching, walking the long way around to the printer, or grabbing a beverage?

Again, it’s not that you’re doing anything wrong by resting your eyes for a minute. But it’s going to look a certain way to anyone who happens to pass by right when you’re doing it, so it’s smarter to head off that impression.

3. Our letter terminating an employee never reaches her

We had a new employee, Robin, who after six weeks abandoned her job. After three consecutive missed shifts (which stretched over a weekend, so it took a full calendar week) and no response to our phone messages, texts, and emails, based on our procedure we decided that she had voluntarily resigned and was no longer employed due to job abandonment. There was no PTO banked to pay out and due to how payroll dates fell, she had received her last paycheck in the middle of the week of missing shifts.

As part of the process, we mailed her a letter summarizing the situation and officially declaring that we had designated her as no longer employed due to job abandonment. The letter was mailed with tracking via the U.S. Postal Service. After five days of watching the tracking, it was clear that the letter was lost in transit. It never made it to its destination.

When mailing the letter, I had remarked that the closest post office to our work (Post Office A) seemed very disorganized, and another member of administration stated that she never went to that post office, always the next closest one (Post Office B). Post Office B happens to be the one that serves the area where ghosting employee lives. So one week after the first letter was mailed, I went to to Post Office B to mail a second copy of the letter (now noting that it was being re-sent on X date due to post office delay).

Once again, the tracking indicates that after three days, the letter disappeared into the abyss. It has now been 21 days since last contact with Robin and 11 days since we changed Robin’s status in our system. Robin’s former manager doesn’t want to post the new job until we know Robin has gotten the letter. I have called the USPS customer hotline. I have personally visited Post Office B again to ask them what we can do (answer: nothing).

So I mailed the letter a third time, this time via UPS. The letter now contains a notice that this is the third time it has been mailed due to mail delivery delay. I have been assured by UPS that the letter will be delivered tomorrow.

Did we have other options? If the two lost letters end up finally making their way through the system, Robin will receive this letter about abandoning the job three times, and I don’t want her to think that’s due to unprofessionalism on our end. Was there a better way to handle this, or is this just one of those series of unfortunate events?

Just bad luck. It made sense to switch delivery services after the first two attempts failed, which you did, and you included a note explaining the situation so if she does eventually receive the first two letters, she’ll have context to understand why.

If you hadn’t included that explanatory note, I would worry that it would look like you were inexplicably firing her over and over (and by multiple delivery methods!) but that note should put you at ease.

(I assume you’ve checked on her welfare in some way, such as through an emergency contact?)

4. Outplacement company is giving me bad advice

Like so many folks lately, I was laid off along with the rest of the team I was on. Part of my package included sessions with an outplacement group. So far the recommendations have been incredibly basic (look up companies in your area) or seeming out of touch with how things are done these days (try emailing recruiters and ask if they have jobs). What I would like to know is: is this normal? Would it be appropriate to call the outplacement company and ask for a different person or is the issue just their process? I’m certainly experienced enough that my resume and job search skills are very decent, but there’s no way that they are absolutely perfect. Even with plenty of time on my hands, I’m tempted to tell the outplacement company that I’ll call them if I need their support.

Yeah, a lot of outplacement groups are really bad. I’m skeptical that asking for a different contact will change that — they often have all their reps work from the same curriculum — although it won’t hurt to try and, if nothing else, it’s useful feedback for them to hear. What might be more helpful is telling your old employer that the service (which they are paying for!) has been subpar. They might not care terribly — providing outplacement services is often more a PR move than anything else — but who knows, they might.

5. Ghosted by my volunteer job

I’ve been a volunteer for an international nonprofit on a part-time basis for 2.5 years. One of our supervisors will be on medical leave for a few months and I was asked to interview to take over a few of their duties on a paid part-time basis. I interviewed a week ago.

I am actually am not very interested in doing the job (due to other circumstances) but they had told me that they wanted the successful candidate (only three of us were interviewed) to start in a week and I’ve heard nothing from them since the interview, so wondered if I should reach out to the HR people about this. HR was not part of the interview but was cc’d on email correspondence that set it up.

My disappointment at being ghosted like this has affected my enthusiasm for a main part of my job and I am pretty sure I’m going to step back from it. Do you think I should ask HR about why I was ghosted? I don’t want them to think it’s sour grapes if I didn’t get the job, but want to register my unhappiness at being treated like this.

It’s way too early to conclude you’re being ghosted! A week is nothing in hiring, and that’s true even though they told you they wanted the person to start in a week. It’s really common for interviewers to say that (and mean it) and then miss that timeline significantly, often by weeks. Give it another two weeks before you conclude anything.

If it does become apparent at some point that they ghosted you, then it would definitely be reasonable to tell HR what happened. Employers shouldn’t be ghosting anyone who interviews, and doing it to a volunteer (one who they invited to apply!) is particularly bad.

{ 445 comments… read them below }

  1. Magenta Sky*

    OP #3: If you want to use USPS, instead of mailing it with tracking, mail it certified with return receipt. It might still get lost, but they’ll take the inquiry much more seriously, and be much more likely to track it down.

    (And maybe next week we’ll see a letter from someone about being fired three times from the same job.)

    1. Worldwalker*

      My experiences over about the past 3 or 4 years with the USPS have been so bad, I try to avoid sending anything with them, use email whenever possible, and I pay extra for alternate delivery services when I’m buying something off eBay or otherwise online, because at least I know it’ll get here. I thought it was just my town’s abysmal post office (the entire staff appears to have turtle nervosa, and they act like it’s a tremendous imposition on their time to do so much as sell you a stamp). FedEx flat-rate service is only slightly more than Priority Mail (anyone remember “2 days, 2 pounds, $2.90”?) and actually arrives when expected, instead of drifting around at some random time 3-4 days late.

      So, their idea of how to solve their business problems is to cut services and raise prices. Because that always works. (narrator: not when you have competition it doesn’t)

      1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        Over the past few years the USPS has been run by someone whose mission was to run it into the ground, so that might be relevant.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        My local Post Office is overworked, but the people are polite and pleasant. And mail arrives amazingly fast considering that even local mail has to be sent to a larger city 150 miles away before it can be sent back to be delivered.

      3. biobotb*

        No, the person in charge of USPS is not trying to solve any problems, he’s trying to create them.

    2. Mmmm*

      I’m a mail carrier. I’m 99.9% positive that the carrier took the letter out to her and left a notice if she didn’t answer the door. And did it twice and she never went in and picked it up or asked for redelivery.

      It sits in a slot with all the other letters waiting to be picked up and is sent back after a period of time. People will let their certified letters go back all the time. Some people will open the door, see the certified they have to sign for, and shut the door in my face.

      The company cannot go in and ask a clerk to look to see if she has a letter waiting because only the addressee can do that now. OP should just wait and see if it comes back to them.

      1. JSPA*

        This. Short of sending a process server, or maybe publishing it (?) there’s not much more you can do, if she doesn’t want to receive the notice.

        It’s also possible that she’s in the hospital (or worse) or is otherwise unable to come to the door; has moved or been evicted; is ducking registered letters because there’s other major stuff chasing after her, her mailbox has been taped shut or destroyed.

      2. KayDeeAye*

        This sounds much more likely to me than that the letter would have been lost TWICE. Once? Sure, why not? It’s not common, in my experience, but it happens. But twice? Nah. The person simply didn’t want to look at that letter. So…they didn’t.

      3. Esmeralda*

        And thank you for doing this important but often thankless task. My uncle was a mail carrier. Some people were so mean!

      4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Sometimes weird things happen that aren’t the post office’s fault, and they may not be able to do much about.

        At one point, we got no mail for a couple of weeks–no bills, no junk mail, nothing. It turned out that the landlord had changed the lock on the outside door, and not given a new key to the post office. One day I happened to be going outside when the letter carrier arrived, let her in, and she told me this, and at least delivered a couple of days’ mail. While we were trying to resolve this, I told the letter carrier to try buzzing my apartment when she arrived, and I’d let her in if I was home.

        It took multiple calls to the management company and the post office to get this fix, once we’d figured out what the problem even was.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          One place I lived, the mail carrier refused to deliver mail for a couple of days because the trash company would, in a fit of childishness, throw trash all over the place if the dumpster was overfull, blocking the mailboxes. Clearly on purpose.

          A conversation between between the trash company and the postal inspectors corrected that.

          1. Sharkie*

            Lucky. The postal people I had in every apartment have been jerks. One time they threw out a wedding invites and Christmas cards addressed as Scooter Smith (childhood pet name) instead of Sharkie Smith since it didnt match the name on my mail box perfectly. When my management company reached out after many complaints the Post office just skipped the complex for a week (happened to be the week of Christmas)

        2. Shan*

          Something similar happened at my condo building, too, except it was six (SIX!) weeks. I was constantly going back and forth between the property manager and Canada Post, and neither were doing anything about. Finally, I was griping about it to a friend, who told her husband (who works for Canada Post), who went to the depot and discovered a) a GIANT pile of mail that was just accumulating, and b) the new lock for our mail room sitting on the desk… of someone who was on leave. He arranged to have it installed the next day and even went along to make sure it was done. I have no idea how long it might have taken to get solved if not for that.

          The weirdest thing was that no one else even seemed to notice, or to complain. Like, I know we get less and less by mail now, but… six weeks with not even a flyer, and no one in a building of a hundred units finds that odd?

    3. OP#3*

      OP#3 here. The first two letters were sent certified mail! That’s how we’re able to track it for a few days, and then after it leaves a distribution center… nothing. I am theorizing the letters are not being scanned by the local Post Office before they attempt delivery. But since I couldn’t get any further information once I visited that Post Office, I just have to operate as though they have been lost to the abyss.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        I’ve found with the US postal service that often items don’t get scanned along the way, even for tracked services. It’s like “item received in small town Idaho”, “item en route to Boise”, … … … (radio silence for days, weeks) and then if you’re lucky, a final “out for delivery” message from Pennsylvania. But sometimes you find out it was delivered with no record and other times stuff vanishes.

      2. Grumpylawyer*

        There are so many people who refuse to accept certified mail, you’d probably have been better off just sending it with tracking / delivery confirmation. I think people believe that if they refuse to accept certified mail, they can avoid whatever bad thing they presume it’s bringing. Doesn’t work that way, but I only use certified mail when absolutely necessary.

        1. doreen*

          Not only that, but ever since COVID I have been encountering mail that was sent “certified, return receipt requested” just left in my mailbox with the green card still attached, so the sender would never get it back. I sent a few letters that way at the beginning of COVID , and got the green cards back apparently signed by the mail carrier.( There was something about the signature that made me think that, but don’t recall what)

          1. Lucy P*

            We’ve been in our current office space for over 5 years. Long before COVID we would have the exact same thing happen–get a certified letter with the card still attached and no signature was ever requested. This happened on multiple occasions.

            I’ve also sent personal items via Priority Mail and they’ve gotten completely lost in the system. They would reach the destination post office and then would get lost somehow.

          2. EPLawyer*

            It’s really bad. Where I practice, you can serve by certified mail. But it has to be restricted delivery. Meaning ONLY the person whose name is on the envelope can sign. If the postal carrier signed “Covid” it is not valid service and you have to start all over again. Even though you PAID for the restricted delivery. Even in the before times, they would let whoever sign for it. Which is not what was paid for.

            But on topic of this specific problem — why are you going to all this trouble? Sending it certified/tracking does not make it any more official. Send the letter standard first class and be done. If it comes up later, you have a copy that you sent it. You don’t have to prove they received it.

            1. Coverage Associate*

              Also a lawyer. I sometimes send one copy certified and one copy regular first class, because of what everyone is saying about certified being scary. Also, if the recipient is never home when the mail is delivered, they don’t get the opportunity to sign for it, and they will have just as much trouble getting to the post office to pick it up.

              Anyway, I have definitely had people respond cheerfully to regular first class mail who were dodging certified mail.

        2. squid*

          Yes we have this issue as well for documents that require signature. People don’t want to answer the door for the certified letters (or are never home when the attempts are made) and it ends up coming straight back to us.

          We have a better success rate for UPS flats than through USPS, but if someone has already stopped responding to normal reach-outs, the chances of signature-service mailing getting through are really low. We keep trying it for the proof that the person has received it, but it always ends up taking longer / being less successful than if we’d just send it with regular tracking.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Did you file a lost mail claim? I haven’t had a lot of mail go missing but every single time I’ve filed a lost mail claim it’s been found.

        1. Still Missing*

          Counterpoint: I have lots of mail go missing (my post office is very bad), and every single time I’ve filed a lost mail claim it’s failed. They either mark it as “resolved” (without actually resolving the problem) or just let it expire in their system. I have exactly once gotten them to formally admit they lost a piece of mail, and that required getting my Congressperson involved and took almost a year. I have never had a lost piece of mail found.

          1. Kyrielle*

            *sigh* You are making me appreciate my local post office, which just messes up delivery locally. There’s one couple two roads over that I’ve gotten to know because we get their mail and vice versa sometimes, but the most frequent mistake is delivering things to the wrong local box. Our next-door neighbors or the ones across the street usually get our mail instead of us when that happens.

      4. Starlike*

        Did you Google the address to make sure it’s an actual address? We had a letter returned once (comparable situation but not the same) and when an employee looked at the street they said, “Wait, I drive by that street every day, it’s a short connector with nothing residential.” We looked up the address and it didn’t register as an actual address, but the only things near where it should have been were a self-storage facility and a warehouse. It may be that you’ll get them back soon as undeliverable.

      5. Cait*

        Can I ask if you did a welfare check? That’s the first thing that popped into my mind when she was, not only a no-show, but then completely unreachable. I don’t know her personally so I don’t know if that was out-of-character of her or not but I’d hope someone at least called a family member or emergency contact. Or maybe I just listen to too many true crime podcasts.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Yup. This is the correct answer. Something that’s that important should go certified mail, not just tracking.

      1. The OTHER Other*

        OP says they DID use certified mail, and both times they were left with… no certification.

    5. BrilliantBrunette*

      In the legal industry, the standard is send official letters through certified mail and send a copy of the letter via email on the same day. Maybe sending a termination letter via multiple methods at the same time may help in the future because the odds are increased that at least one made it to the recipient and you can add a note in the email explaining this is to a confirm a hard copy has been sent (rather than it seeming like someone is being fired multiple times).

    6. Momma Bear*

      I once worked at an office where someone vanished and could not be reached. Turned out they moved to another state and left no forwarding information. I think by now if the person hasn’t reached out again it’s been long enough that you can just move on. You’ve tried multiple times and documented everything.

    7. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      you can insure it, too — for a nominal value… they take those seriously.

    1. UKDancer*

      No, I was wondering that as well. Perhaps if OP has an emergency contact for Robin it would be good to reach out and check all is well? Or maybe send the police to do a routine check? Just to make sure she’s not at risk or ill.

      1. darcy*

        Don’t send the police to do a routine check unless you want to risk adding “getting shot” to any existing problems she might have.

          1. MissElizaTudor*

            It is necessary, and it does add something to the conversation. Interactions with police are risky for many reasons, and it’s important to keep that in mind when making decisions about how to interact with others. It doesn’t mean one has to decide it’s always the wrong choice to get law enforcement involved, but one should think of the risks and make thoughtful decisions.

        1. Forgot my name again*

          I’m glad this is not a thing we need to think about 99.9% of the time in the UK. (Which is probably why UKDancer suggested it – I would have done the same.)

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes, in the UK we don’t routinely arm the police and in general expect non fatal outcomes from a check in. The police make mistakes and are flawed but not tending to kill people unexpectedly.

            Having had a situation where someone at work died one weekend of an unexpected heart attack and was only discovered when my boss called the police to check after he didn’t show up for 3 days, I’d usually opt to check someone is OK.

            1. UKgreen*

              We had a colleague no-show one morning which was very unusual – he was always punctual and on the few occasions he was off sick he called in promptly. My boss at the time thought that as he was always so good that this was ‘a one-off and to let it go – maybe he’ll be in later’, while the rest of us were genuinely worried. Eventually, having tried and failed to convince our boss to get in touch with his emergency contact one of my colleagues left the office and made a call to a mutual friend, who contacted his wife, who tracked him on his ‘find friends’ on his iPhone.

              Turns out he’d had a medical episode, come off his bicycle on his ride in to work along a rural road and was lying in a hedge unconscious…

              He was OK, aside from bruising and a broken arm from the fall and ongoing drugs for the (previously unknown) medical condition. My department changed its policies around contacting people if they no-showed after that…

        2. Agnes*

          The absolute risk of that is extremely low, regardless of any group she belongs to. We can discuss how to improve the police without pretending that a majority of welfare checks end in violence.

          1. MissElizaTudor*

            To be fair, getting shot isn’t the only risk. If someone is having a mental health episode for example, that both increases the chance of them being the victim of police violence, and carries the risk that they might get involuntarily confined, whether or not that would actually help them. Interaction with the police also involves the risk that the person you’re trying to help will get in legal trouble they wouldn’t have been in without your interference.

            Just because it’s a “low” risk doesn’t mean it’s not a serious one. The potential negative of being murdered or harmed by the police should carry weight in these matters. There are other people to go to first. This situation offers fewer alternatives than ones where you know the person, but the potential for getting someone hurt, killed, or arrested means cops shouldn’t be a consideration until other avenues, like emergency contacts, have been exhausted.

            1. CharlieBrown*

              This. The risk is low if you are a white, middle-class person living in a middle class neighborhood. The risk is considerably higher if you are a person of color, live in an impoverished area, or have a mental illness. So you should make a decision to call the police as a first resort or a last resort based on this calculus.

              If Robin is in the former category, I would say a police welfare check would be higher up on the list of things to try. If she’s in the latter category, I would investigate other options first.

          2. hbc*

            The absolute likelihood that a new person who stops showing up at work would benefit from a welfare check is very low as well. So you have to weigh the relative risks, and don’t forget to include things like possibility of the person getting arrested for something dumb and having that on their record forever.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          I’m curious – Would you resort to the police after trying other services, and who would the other services be doing welfare checks?

    2. Not Australian*

      By no means. I’ve heard too many stories about folks being fired for no-call, no-show, who were later found to have been the victim of some accident or attack. Some attempt at checking her welfare seems a minimum requirement, if only to avoid the appearance of being a faceless entity that doesn’t care at all about its workers…

      1. alienor*

        Yeah, I think just for peace of mind, I’d want some sort of confirmation that the employee was ok. It doesn’t have to be the police – I’ve been required to provide a couple of emergency contacts at every new job I’ve ever had, so that seems like a reasonable place to start.

    3. Worldwalker*

      That has crossed my mind as well. Weird things happen to people, especially in this time of Covid. It might be worth having a welfare check done.

      1. Sylvan*


        Or contacting someone who knows the employee.

        My dad sent some garbled texts and then stopped texting people. Fortunately, one text reached me, and I know he’s epileptic and he has trouble communicating after seizures. I called my mom, who was closer to their home than me, and she found him. She was able to get help quickly and he was okay.

      2. Observer*

        The thing is that it’s now a couple of weeks since this person fell off the radar. I can’t imagine anything that a “welfare check” is going to uncover that could help anyone at this point.

        1. LizB*

          I mean, this is horrifically morbid and I hope it’s not the case, but if the absolute worst has happened (Robin passed away alone and has not been found yet) it could at least lead to Robin’s remains being dealt with in an appropriate way instead of staying where they are. Not necessarily a help to Robin depending on one’s beliefs, but at a minimum helpful for the health and safety of the community.

    4. debs514*

      my last job, one of our employees disappeared. We tried to reach him through all the means we had, but to no avail. He wasn’t terribly dependable, so we just assumed that he was ghosting us and had abandoned his post. So we terminated his employment and paid him what he was owed.

      3 months later he got in touch with us to say that he had been hospitalised! We did take him back, but he didn’t stick around much longer after that.

      1. JustaTech*

        My friend had a new employee disappear at lunch her first week of employment; just walked out for lunch and didn’t come back. This was a huge issue for my friend because it was a daycare where they have teacher-student ratios that must be met.

        So my friend called the employee, then called around to the local hospitals, then called the employee’s emergency contact.
        Eventually my friend was told (I think by the emergency contact) that the former employee was safe and well, but the employee herself never contacted anyone. So my friend sent her the paycheck for time worked and let it go.

        I think if the employee had just not shown up for a shift my friend might have reached out in a different order, but because it happened in the middle of the day, and anyone leaving to get lunch would have to cross a major street, the risk of “hit by car” was pretty high, which is why she started with hospitals.

    5. Rachel Greep*

      I know of several instances of single people who lived alone and had died alone at home, and they were only discovered when they failed to show for work.

      1. SarahKay*

        I live alone and after tripping on the stairs at home (luckily with an outcome no worse than ‘yikes that was close’, having caught myself before falling) I went into work the next day and told a couple of my trusted co-workers where I keep the spare key and to please come find me / check on me if I unexpectedly didn’t show up.
        My neighbour was deaf so it was a definitely possibility that if I did fall and break something and couldn’t get to a phone I could be there for quite a while. Granted, it was an unlikely scenario, but I figured I’d rather plan ahead, just in case.

      2. doreen*

        Bad enough when they die of a heart attack or something fairly quick – I had an acquaintance who died during the pandemic. He was dead for days before the neighbors called the police – and I can’t help but think things might have gone differently if someone had checked on him when he first missed work.

      3. Blazer 990*

        My mother lived alone and a few states away from me and had passed away one night. I didn’t realize anything was unusual for a few days. When she was found, I tried for a couple of weeks to get in touch with her boss (she worked remote and I didn’t know the name of the employer or boss) and once I got in touch with him, I realized that he had been VERY worried for about 3 weeks about her welfare. Things fall through the cracks.. changed emergency contact phone numbers, change of addresses.. and, in my case, not asking enough info about my mother’s personal life to even know her employer name. OP’s letter is very triggering to me as all this just happened a couple of months ago and my immediate thought was someone needs to check on Robin. OP3 PLEASE check on her and update us!

      4. curmudgeon*

        This happened to my father’s work friend. She complained of a headache, left early and then suddenly passed away at home. My poor dad was her only friend so he got tasked with notifying her family (no idea why HR didn’t do it, especially given how terribly awkward my dad is).

        If he hadn’t asked about her/pressed someone to do a welfare check, I don’t think she would have been found for a while :/

    6. The Person from the Resume*

      There is no one / good answer to this. Some people would be extremely upset that work checked up on them when they just didn’t feel like resigning and decided to ghost or that work called their emergency contact when they were hung over or maybe enjoying the blush of first lust and sleeping over and spending all their time with their new partner instead of going into work.

      Others will be fine with a welfare check; whereas certain demographics will be at more risk from the police if a welfare check is called in.

      What is the right answer is only clear after you why they didn’t show up.

      I have zero concern about Robin’s welfare. (1) new employee only 6 weeks on the job (2) she had received her last paycheck in the middle of the week of missing shifts. #2 points to Robin planning this ghosting so that she didn’t have any paycheck awkwardness.

        1. Mekong River*

          There are more options than “do nothing” and “drive to her house and pound on her door.” Cases like this are why companies have emergency contacts—so the emergency contact can check on them and tell them to contact the employer and confirm that they are still alive.

      1. Qwerty*

        I feel like the emergency contact would take over the role of checking on Robin? Or at least let the emergency contact take the lead on whether they wanted help from Robin’s workplace. It would be way less weird for a relative or friend to just show up at your house and say “hey, are you still alive?” and the emergency contact might have other options like phoning a neighbor, checking social media posts, etc; before needing the police to do a check.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          Yeah, I think this is where I’d fall on this one – if there was an emergency contact provided ever, try them in the first instance.

    7. Art3mis*

      My FIL stopped showing up to his new job and new job didn’t call his emergency contacts, my husband or myself, when they couldn’t reach him. It wasn’t unusual for him to go weeks without talking to us, so we had no idea that he hadn’t been showing up for work. He’d had a seizure and died in his apartment. His landlord found him.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah I think this is just horrible for families to find out this way. My friend was devastated her FiL was left unfound for two days. They sometimes went a few days without speaking, and two days is a lot for someone to be dead in the summertime.

        1. Art3mis*

          He went longer than that unfound. It was just the dynamic between my husband and his dad that they would go weeks or months without speaking. They weren’t very close. I’m just glad it wasn’t my husband or I that found him like that. Luckily the AC was still working, or it could have been worse, they he passed away in May that year, so not super hot in the Midwest, but warm enough. I guess since it was a new job and they had high turnover someone not showing up for work wasn’t really out of the ordinary so they didn’t bother to call emergency contacts about it. The HR person I talked to about it felt really bad that they didn’t though.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Ouch. My condolences.

        If I didn’t log on and hadn’t said anything, I would want my employer to contact my emergency contact (my spouse). My spouse may not be able to call in for me because of having to deal with an emergency, but they do answer their phone/text.

        1. Art3mis*

          I think that because his job had high turnover and he was fairly new that him not showing up wasn’t a red flag for them and his employer didn’t think much of it. It was a factory/assembly type job and people abandon those types of jobs all the time. I did call HR to ask about any benefits he might have had and the HR person felt really bad that they hadn’t called to ask about his whereabouts, but I get why they didn’t. Had he been a long term reliable employee they might have, but he hadn’t even been there long enough to be benefit eligible at that point. Which really sucked because I think that would have been a good job for him and allowed him to get his shit together.

    8. Nancy*

      Nope, not the only one. If she had an emergency contact, call them. I live alone and have told coworkers that if I don’t show up and you cannot get ahold of me, call my emergency contact because something serious probably happened.

    9. Generic Name*

      Definitely contact their emergency contact if you haven’t already done so. To add another anecdote, my ex simply walked off a professional job one day. He had been at a company for over a decade….. and just stopped showing up. He put the company laptop in a closet, left the state for a while, and I presume ignored all calls and emails from his now former employer. He is still alive.

    10. Database Developer Dude*

      No, you’re far from the only one wondering if Robin is okay. I also bet I’m far from the only one wondering if Lily Potter here is a white woman….because of her comment. As a person of color, the police coming to my home for whatever reason would be something extremely stressful to me. Just like a woman walking alone at night can’t tell a good man from a predator, I can’t tell a good cop from a bad cop just by looking at them….. Do not send the police to my house on a welfare check unless it’s a last resort. In the US, this IS a necessary point to this conversation, and if you’re not black, you need to step back and not center your voice on this.

      1. Seashell*

        The police aren’t coming for a welfare check with guns drawn or kicking the door in. They will knock on your door.

        1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        2. moql*

          The police absolutely kicked down my aunt’s door during a wellness check. You never know what you’re going to get.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        This. I’m white, and was raised that cops were the good guys with badges.

        I started to question that in college. That delusion really started to end when people started putting out cell phone video of cops being asses and brutal. Then the police murders that spawned the BLM movement destroyed the delusion forever.

        Now I consider myself at-risk from the cops. Why? I’m disabled, and a) can’t raise my (non-functioning) right arm over my head under its own power, and b) my sense of balance is shot, so I would automatically fail a field sobriety test, even though I seldom drink, especially away from my home.

        So, just to reiterate, the groups at most risk from the police:
        1) People of color – if they don’t appear white, they are at risk from the cops. Period. There has been enough stuff in the press and in social media to prove this is a fact, not just a fear.
        2) People w disabilities including the mobility impaired, deaf/hoh, blind, seizure disorders or mental health issues. If they can’t move, hear, or see the police, it can get them killed.
        3) People who don’t look “normal” (eg punks, goths, heavily tatooed, etc)

        In short, I very much agree with Database Developer Dude.

    11. Loredena*

      New enough and paycheck timing such that I’m less concerned. I did call in a wellness check once for a coworker, about 8 years ago. We were consultants so he was staying in an apartment near by during the week (100% travel) Hadn’t been seen since the prior week. Car was in the parking lot. Emergency contact was his ex. Would have been easier if, like most of us, he was in the hotel but he’d opted for reduced travel as he had no ties. Landlord let the police in and he’d been dead for days of a massive heart attack. In this case I’m glad we made the call. But I recognize that that’s a much riskier choice when not talking about a middle aged white man!

    12. Erin*

      I was thinking that as well. It could also be something like Robin moving, and not changing her address. If the company can email or txt her, they may get some type of response.

    13. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      That’s the first thing I’d be concerned over, if someone didn’t show up for work. If Robin is local, is it beyond the gumption of management to go knock on her door?

      And UPS/FedEx/DHL, whatever, if the USPS is actually not serving you well… have something that needs signing for.

    14. Momma Bear*

      If that is a concern, hopefully she filled out an emergency contact form and if so, they can reach out to that person.

  2. Budgie Buddy*

    For OP #2, you may get some mileage out of an ice pack or heated compress especially made for putting on your eyes. It may help with eye strain, and if you’re sitting up holding something to your eyes then it doesn’t look like you’re sleeping.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      The recommendation I have found useful is the 20-20-20 rule – every twenty minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 2 seconds.

      This can be challenging in a cubicle environment with no windows, but even looking at the wall across from you can be a nice break from the computer screen.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I do this and I try to look at something green – or natural light if there is a window. I’m worried how long the OP is staring at a screen without ever looking away if they need absolute darkness.

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

          I don’t think the OP needs absolute darkness. It’s natrual to want to close your eyes if they are strained. even doing the 20/20/20 rule doesn’t always help, and you make have to close your eyes.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        Good advice!

        Also if I really need to rest (shut) my eyes, and my boss was tuned in to that being a
        problem m, I’d get up and go to the restroom to do it or go copy, shred something and close my eyes while standing at the machine.

      3. ferrina*

        I’m ADHD, and I’m fidgeting every 20 minutes anyways. All my organizational systems are designed to accommodate my fidgeting.

        What about putting a calendar or work-related document on the opposite side of your cube? It’s probably not 20 feet away, but it will be better than the computer screen (and you’re still working, cuz you’re looking at something related to work).

      4. Sylvan*

        I sit facing a wall and I do this, looking at the wall or turning to face a window. It helps.

        I imagine that seeing me stare at the wall while touch typing isn’t really the best, but it’s only a few seconds, lol.

      5. lilsheba*

        and I wonder, that environment sounds incredibly soul sucking…can you do anything to make it warmer, add some string lights or something? jeeeeesus.

      6. Capybarely*

        I like to also have something not-machine-made to look at too – ideally a plant, though in the OPs office setup that may not be possible. Perhaps a pretty piece of driftwood, an oil or watercolor painting?
        The level of complexity and variation in natural objects is another type of eye and brain break.

    2. Varthema*

      Came to say the same! Even just holding your fingers to your eyes would correct the false impression of sleeping. But eye compresses would also get you more benefit out of your eye breaks.

      1. Citra*

        This was what I was going to say. If you’re sitting upright with your hands over your eyes or gently rubbing your eyes, what you’re doing is very clear and no one could or will assume you’re sleeping.

        1. Merci Dee*

          If I have a day where I’m doing more intensive computer work than usual, sometimes my eyes will get tired. When that happens, I typically take my glasses off, and spend a moment or two pressing the backs of my chilly fingers to my eyes (because my hands area always cold in this office, yikes), and then will spend a moment rubbing my fingers from the bridge of my nose up and along my eyebrows with a moderate pressure*. It helps a lot with the eye fatigue/strain, and it’s obvious that I’m not asleep even though my eyes are closed.

          *I don’t wear make-up to work because something grows in the fields around our production facility that really aggravates my allergies, so I would look like a racoon-y mess if I wore eye make-up and rubbed my face the way I do. If you do wear make-up to work, then you can modify the brow massage by pressing your thumbs and gently rotating them into the hollow on either side of your nose where the bridge begins to flare into the eye socket, right below where your eyebrows start (if you’ve ever done any sinus-related massage, you know where I’m talking about — that place under your brows where it can hurt in a good way to rub for sinus pressure relief). In any case, your hands are up around your face and are in motion, so it’s obvious you’re not snoozing your way through the afternoon or whatever.

    3. Mona*

      That might lead to concerned coworkers thinking you have a headache, though..
      Could it an idea to go the bathroom and close your eyes in there in private?

      1. urguncle*

        going to the bathroom every 20 minutes isn’t really feasible for a lot of people, especially if there’s keycard entry or any sort of a walk, you’re adding in a few extra minutes every time. If you’re at a kind of place that assumes you’re sleeping when you close your eyes at a desk, they’re probably not going to also love that you get up 20-something times a day to stare in a bathroom.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Hopefully the co-workers are reasonable enough OP2 can explain it as something that *prevents* headaches, said with a smile & a thanks for asking.

        For OP2 to deflectthe boss, I’d suggest doing an eye/temple rub this during non-video calls where they’re actively talking. (I like a very long cord to stand up and walk back& forth a few feet during calls. With a boss who assumes closing eyes = sleeping, I’d fear they’d assume Bluetooth = music.)

        Also, are you allowed to put up anything personal? A poster of an exterior window looking out to nature helped me in the great gray room. In another office I tacked something colorful to my bulletin board.

    4. WillowSunstar*

      I wait until I’m in the bathroom for this reason. This is something no one cares about when you work remotely, unless your company has that terrible software I’ve heard about. I wouldn’t work for a company like that.

    5. morethantired*

      I was going to suggest maybe also just moving a little while closing their eyes. Or doing something with their hands so it doesn’t look like sleeping. It’s a shame their supervisor is even checking up so much if their productivity is good!! I think it should be acceptable to close your eyes for a few minutes at your desk!

      1. foureyes*

        I came here to recommend that OP combine their eye rest with some hand stretches. I know that spending a lot of time staring at a screen usually means a significant amount of time typing, for me at least.

  3. Wendy Darling*

    LW4, years ago I was in a similar situation and the outplacement company the company hired was amazingly bad. I had a “coach” who kept assigning me basically homework that was super out of touch (get 3 new linkedin recommendations by next week! Cold-call five people and ask if there are openings where they work!) and actually scolded me when I didn’t do it.

    I stuck with it until I got the result of their resume and cover letter writing service, which were basically a “what not to do” from this site. They read like they were written by someone with limited proficiency in English and used technical terms from my industry incorrectly (and claimed I had experience with “statistics descriptive and inferential”, which would be good if I was doing a parody of I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General but otherwise no). The style was wooden and oldschool. It legitimately looked like the first resume I wrote when I was 18 and knew nothing.

    They also threw a fit when I said I was no longer interested in their services, which is weird because I’m pretty sure my former employer paid them regardless. I suppose it does look bad on them if someone who is getting your services at no cost refuses to deal with you anymore.

    Anyway feel free to cut bait if they suck. I’m 90% sure companies only hire them so they can say they helped laid off employees find new jobs in press releases and stuff.

    1. Jj*

      Mine insisted that cover letters should say “I follow this company on LinkedIn” which I thought was hilarious. I did not include that in my cover letter and somehow still got the job.

      1. Ayla*

        Ha! That sort of reminds me of a blind date I went on once. At one point he told me, “Don’t worry. I’m not one of those guys who just goes out with every girl available. I checked you out on Instagram to make sure this was worth my time.” It would have been a weird flex even if I’d had an Instagram account, which I did not.

        1. Jessica Ganschen*

          I technically have an Instagram, but I barely use it and it has only two pictures on it: one of my roommate’s cat and one cartoon self-portrait made using a Picrew. I would’ve asked him what his favorite picture from my Insta was to watch him squirm.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I got outplacement services with Right Management when I was laid off in 2017. I am quite sure it was mostly for PR purposes, but it wasn’t *completely* unhelpful – maybe just because of the way it’s set up, it was a drop in sort of thing with various presentations and sessions you could attend as desired. I did meet with a resume coach, who was actually fairly helpful, and also used their printers for various things because we don’t have one at home.

      There was a lot of outdated and not-great advice, to be clear. But I did actually meet someone who helped me find my next job, so it wasn’t a total loss.

      1. Sunny days are better*

        I also had gotten Right Management, and they were actually helpful with some webinars that taught me about how to set up a profile on LinkedIn and some cover letter advice. The last time that I had looked for a job, there was no Internet and you mailed your CV with a stamp or hand delivered it, so I needed the modernization advice.
        I did wind up getting the first job that I applied for and I am still working there now.

        1. ThatGirl*

          When I was using it, there were a lot of people who’d been laid off from long careers at one company and didn’t really know HOW to job search anymore – so I am sure they got some benefit out of it. But that doesn’t mean all of the advice was good (for instance they definitely repeated the “70% of jobs are unlisted” kinda stuff).

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Definitely … this…

            Remember that the “coaches” may never have been unemployed themselves. Also remember that they might be using “boilerplate” to guide you in setting up your CV.

            And I will tell you (I think AAM agrees) that your parents will be supportive but may not be able to render valid advice for the current day and age (unless they’re in ‘hiring lanes’ in 2022).

            Numero Uno = Networking, networking, networking, and do it while you’re gainfully employed. And make sure your social media profiles are positive and not negative. And if you use LinkedIn – keep that up to date. ALWAYS.

    3. mli25*

      I have had the “luck” to use outplacement services twice (same outplacement company). Both times I found a couple of things helpful and most of it not helpful at all. The second time I basically opted out and was clear with my rep that I wasn’t really interested and knew what I was doing. She mostly listened.

  4. Goldie*

    #3 I think your calls, texts and emails also counted as notification. Also the fact that she stopped coming in.

    Is it possible that the post office was waiting on her signature and that is why it wasn’t delivered?

    1. ecnaseener*

      It’s pretty normal for employers to need documentation that the fired person received the message. No delivery receipts on calls or texts, and maybe they did put a read receipt on the email but she hasn’t opened it.

      1. JSPA*

        You can do read receipts on texts. Unless it’s officially a shared phone, that might be adequate (???)

        1. Laney Boggs*

          If “Robin” has her read receipts turned on, sure (I know I turn off mine immediately). I also don’t know that they work across the android-iPhone barrier.

      2. Observer*

        You “need” this all you want, but you HAVE to have a way to move forward without it. Because the reality is that you can’t control what the other person does, even leaving aside the kinds of situations where it’s not even possible to get an “acknowledgement.”

  5. Tiger Snake*

    #2 – Wait, is this common? I have genuinely never seen or heard of this behaviour.

    I’ve seen people stop to stretch or take a walk. I’ve seen then do their eye exercises (look away and practice long-distance and close-distance focus). I’ve seen then take a brain break and look at Ask A Manager. But I’ve never seen anyone close their eyes for more than a blink unless they’re falling asleep.

    1. allathian*

      I definitely do that, but then, I also do all the other things you mention. But then, I’m still WFH most of the time, and nobody can see what I’m doing. Even at the office, if I want to close my eyes for a while, I just turn my back to the door and pretend to look out the window. My office mate and I sit back to back, with a cubicle wall in between. We used to be able to see for several miles, but then they built a high-rise on the other side of the street, so I’m just staring at a wall of glass when I do that. Might as well close my eyes for 5-10 seconds instead…

      I’m really glad that as long as our work gets done, people aren’t monitoring our behavior at the desk all that closely, as long as we aren’t disturbing others.

    2. doreen*

      I have closed my eyes for more than a blink – but I can’t help but wonder how the OP’s supervisor saw their eyes closed for long enough to conclude they were sleeping. My eyes would have been open as soon as I heard someone near my cubicle/desk ( not because I was afraid someone would think I was sleeping.) The only person I’ve ever seen keep their eyes closed for more than a couple of seconds when someone was near their desk was absolutely sleeping ( she was a receptionist , and someone had to knock on the window to wake her up)

      1. fhqwhgads*

        OP said they closed for a minute or two. That’s long enough to conclude sleeping. I bet the supervisor wouldn’t expect closed eyes for more than maybe 10 seconds to be innocuous. Not saying that’s right, but it’s an unsurprising reaction.

        1. doreen*

          Oh , yeah , I’d conclude someone was sleeping if I saw their eyes closed for a minute or two. What I’m wondering how the supervisor was able to see that the OPs eyes were closed for that long without the OP opening them – for most cubicle set-ups I’ve seen , you wouldn’t be able to if someone’s eyes were closed unless you were right outside the cubicle.

      2. alienor*

        I was wondering if OP had put their head down on the desk or something. I wouldn’t think someone who was sitting upright was sleeping just because their eyes were closed. I’ve never seen anyone fall asleep in a chair without slumping a little or letting their head fall forward/to the side.

    3. Mockingjay*

      OP2, try the 20-20-20 rule to rest your eyes. Every 20 minutes (or whenever – reality is that you take breaks when you can), look away from your monitor into at least 20 feet of distance for at least 20 seconds. It takes about 20 -30 seconds for the eye muscles to start “unlocking.” Better still, get up and walk around. Focus on the far wall of the cube farm. And so on.

      I’d also recommend installing f.lux. It’s an adaptive program (freeware) which changes the display’s color according to location and time of day, providing respite for the eyes. I swear it has saved my eyes. Given the environment you described, you are getting a lot of glare on your screen and that will tire and dry your eyes very quickly and give you a low-grade tension headache and neck muscle aches. Keep in mind it will take you about a week or two to adjust to using f.lux (or any other blue light/antiglare program). But the benefits are worth it – I’ve been using it for over 10 years.

    4. MusicWithRocksIn*

      My dad is a big fan of ‘resting his eyes’ while reading, but usually it is accompanied by snoring, so no one really believes him. Not the OP’s fault my dad ruined it, but that history would probably make me skeptical of a coworker doing it.

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

        lol. Yes, both of my parents rest their eyes while “watching” TV…don’t change the channel. Was the OP sitting up and head up, or did they rest their eyes with their head down on their desk?

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I might do so WHILE stretching or standing up, to relieve multiple issues at once. If I have my eyes closed while my arms are stretching up over my head, it is clear that I’m not actually asleep.

    6. Sylvan*

      I’ve done it while typing, if my eyes are a little tired and I don’t need to look at anything on the screen. I’m doing it right now!

      But there are many more normal-looking ways to take an eye/brain break.

    7. JustaTech*

      I had a coworker who had eye problems (diagnosed, documented, under treatment) who often would close her eyes for several minutes (sometimes in the middle of a conversation). She would also wear a heated eye pack for up to like 20 minutes, again, often in the middle of a conversation so she wasn’t “wasting” time.
      I’ve also had coworkers who would close their eyes while on a call, sometimes to give their eyes a rest and sometimes in reaction to whatever shockingly inane thing the person on the other end of the phone just said.

      I’ve also had coworkers (and a boss) who would fall asleep in meetings, and to me it’s always pretty obvious when someone is nodding off versus resting their eyes, based on the rest of their posture/ body language. If you’re upright you’re probably resting your eyes. If you’re slouched or otherwise in a “soft” posture, you’re probably falling asleep.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I had a boss who would nap in his chair every afternoon, complete with snoring. The hazards of an open plan office. No one commented about it.

    8. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Can’t speak to if it’s common, but I do it as a sort of mini-meditation when I need to clear my mind or just be still for a minute.

  6. short'n'stout*

    #3 I don’t think Robin’s former manager needs to worry about re-posting the job. Presumably you need the staff, and if Robin sees the ad, she would have to be very naive to wonder why her post is being advertised.

    If something awful has happened to her, she probably wouldn’t be able to return immediately anyway, so you would need someone to fill in. And hiring usually takes a while – if you start the hiring process and it turns out she does want to come back (and you want her back), you can always stop.

  7. The Prettiest Curse*

    #1 – the colleague who was offended was out of line and I don’t think the message was inappropriate. But for anyone who sends this type of message – if you’re not eligible to vote, these messages are mildly annoying. When I was living in the US and ineligible to vote as a non-citizen, I’d just sarcastically think to myself “yes, I’ll absolutely remember to commit voter fraud and then get thrown in prison” before I deleted the email.

    However, increasing voter turnout is a good thing, so mild annoyance is probably an acceptable price to pay. Just don’t assume that everyone you work with is eligible to vote!

    1. Sue Wilson*

      Some communication isn’t actually targeted toward all the recipients specifically, but there is an implied “to whomever it may apply” attached because it would likely be much weirder to go around making a list of all eligible recipients. I would take reminders to vote in that category instead of an assumption of eligibility.

      1. MK*

        I think that’s the main issue I have with what the coworker did: it is, or at least it feels, targeted, the way a social media post or a placard or even a stranger on the street telling you to vote wouldn’t. I admit I find the reminder in a work meeting, well, nor inappropriate, but a bit presumptuous; I would be rolling my eyes internally, even though I agree low voter turnout is a problem. The coworker who took it as a personal insult definitely overreacted and the hostility was out of line.

        1. Nora*

          What? It’s a general statement at the start of a meeting – just a timely reminder. The same as “oh its daylight savings time”

            1. Loulou*

              Okay, but if someone says “remember to change your clocks” but you only have digital clocks that adjust automatically, do you get annoyed or offended? That’s the equivalent.

              1. MK*

                Frankly I would also think someone telling me to remember to change my clocks and point me to a site with instructions being a bit of a busybody, unless there is some reason to do it (as in, we have an appointment of some sort early the next day). Look, this wasn’t a mundane reminder about a neutral event; it carries a political message, a very benign one I grant you, but it doesn’t belong in a work meeting. I think people are biased because they agree with the message and overcompensating for the other coworker’s over the top reaction.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  … it carries a political message, a very benign one I grant you, but it doesn’t belong in a work meeting.

                  What kind of political message? It’s like reminding people of days scheduled for office closures, or even noting that there is rain in the forecast.

                  Being reminded to vote if you are eligible is like being reminded to file your taxes. It’s a reminder to carry out the basic responsibilities of an adult in your country.

                  If it doesn’t say who to vote for it is politically neutral.

              2. MK*

                And for what it’s worth the only person who ever reminded to change my clocks is my mother. Do people really go about the place offering random reminders to others? Usually there is a specific reason to mention something like that.

          1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Sometimes it literally is “remember, tomorrow is Election Day,” which can include “in case you’ve lost track, tomorrow is Tuesday” or “this year, Election Day is the second Tuesday in November.” US federal elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, which isn’t always the first Tuesday in the month.

      2. Mangled Metaphor*

        Completely this.
        There are some people for whom all communication is personal and directed and will ALWAYS take the approach of “I know how to suck eggs, *thank you*, Janet”, when in fact a sizable proportion of the delegates did not know it was a thing and found the information immediately useful and appropriate. I’d love to have some advice for how to deal with these centre of the universe people, but mostly I roll my eyes (off camera) and move on, much as the meeting organiser did here.

        That said, politics is now a hot box, and people’s sensitivities are a bit more… sensitive. Perhaps giving the website was the step too far?

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          Personally, I don’t think that giving the website was too far, assuming it was the Board of Elections site.

          (Yawn) It’s hard getting function over an hour early, but we have to be at our vote centers an hour before they open, at 6:30 am.

          I’m hoping for a busy day checking in voters and providing their ballots, and completely uneventful, except for record turnouts

          1. Coenobita*

            We have to arrive by 5am here in my county! Early/mail voting is super popular here (plus it’s an off year for our state elections) so we’re likely to have a slow day. Hence me already taking a break at 8am :)

            1. Dust Bunny*

              My dad is a poll judge and he had to be there at 6:00 today, but he just spent two weeks working 15+ hour days for early voting. It’s pretty brutal, and apparently his voting site has a reputation for being well-managed so it’s busy.

        2. londonedit*

          I think sometimes it can come across as a little patronising, especially on social media – like, why has Jane decided to make herself an official spokesperson and ‘helpfully remind’ everyone that they need to vote? I know there’s an election on, thanks, Jane. I guess if this co-worker has a lot of people on social media pushing the ‘go and vote, didn’t you know it’s really important’ message in a patronising/self-important way then this could have been the last straw. But I really don’t think a simple ‘polling stations are open until 10pm tonight, here’s a link to find your nearest one’ message or similar is particularly adversarial.

          1. MK*

            Social media is a, well, social, not a professional space; Jane maybe annoying you, but you have chosen to connect with her on whatever platform. And, frankly, I consider sm messages, like group emails, a fairly unobtrusive form of communication, you can skip and delete them at aglance. I think introducing the topic in a work meeting was a bad idea, not because it is adversarial, but because it’s not the time and place for such reminders. But it’s a minor annoyance, not something to start an argument over.

          2. Be Gneiss*

            I take the same way that I take “Don’t forget to set your clocks back!” Yes, I knew; no, I don’t think the person giving the reminder assumes I’m not smart enough to know when it is.
            In fact…I did know today is voting day….but I hadn’t thought through some personal family logistics until last night, so obviously I did need a little reminder to think about it.

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              Yes, this. I think that a lot of us have busy lives and a lot on our minds. Reminders of things like “hey, Friday is a holiday this week” and “don’t forget to vote today” are things I always appreciate, given that my brain is probably already packed to the gills with spreadsheets and personnel transitions and what I’m going to give my toddler for lunch today. I might have been thinking about it coming up last week, but there’s no guarantee I’m going to think of it at the RIGHT time.

              Just this morning, I reminded my team to vote–mostly because I wanted to let them know I was OK with them taking time away from work to vote if they needed it.

              1. The Original K.*

                I have totally forgotten upcoming holidays and appreciated the reminder. I never forget to vote (I take voting really seriously) but a reminder is just not a big deal. “Don’t forget to vote!” “Already did, thanks!” And we move on. Or my boss says “don’t forget it’s a half day tomorrow” and I’m like “oh, thanks, I did forget” and we move on. If the worst thing that happens on a given day is that somebody reminds me to do something, I’m doing great.

              2. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

                Just this morning, I reminded my team to vote–mostly because I wanted to let them know I was OK with them taking time away from work to vote if they needed it.

                Thank you for this, not least since I’ve had supervisors with the opposite ethic.

              3. Curmudgeon in California*

                Just this morning, I reminded my team to vote–mostly because I wanted to let them know I was OK with them taking time away from work to vote if they needed it.

                My current manager did this a very clever way: He sent out an email saying he was stepping away to go vote, and approximately how long he expected it to take. In doing so, he modeled the idea that it was okay to take time off to vote, if necessary, without being in your face about it.

            2. Seashell*

              I was thinking the clocks were supposed to go back Sunday night into Monday, because my phone’s calendar had the reminder on Sunday. I don’t think that mistake makes me inherently not smart.

      3. Formerly Ella Vader*

        It’s like “please give blood today” – which gets pretty tiresome for someone who is ineligible for a reason they don’t choose to disclose at work. It’s kinder to spell out the “Those of you who are eligible”, for either reminder.

        1. Lydia*

          I can’t give blood and when someone says that, I think “Not me” and move on, because I know the assumption is it is meant for people who can.

        2. Loulou*

          Donating blood is something you (you being eligible people) can do any time, though, not a time sensitive activity like an election. If someone forgets to vote in an election they’re just out of luck.

        3. Coconutty*

          People should not have to issue an “ONLY FOR THOSE TO WHOM IT APPLIES” disclaimer every time they make a completely innocuous statement

        4. Kate*

          I’m not eligible to give blood, but when there’s a blood drive reminder it would never occur to me to be personally offended!

          In fact I’m grateful to the people that are doing the work to help encourage blood donations, and the people that do do it, precisely because I can’t donate myself.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            Just because I’m ineligible to donate blood does not mean I’ll never be in a situation where I need to receive!

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’m eligible for voting and did vote and the sheer volume of political spam and ads and reminders I’ve been getting from all sides has been exhausting. It’s like the political version of the all-office email reminding people not to bring BO into the office.

      Coworker shouldn’t have snapped, but it strikes me that this sort of message transmission is not a good way to go about it.

        1. Citra*

          It would have been good, imo, to assume the other adults in the workplace can keep track of their own voting habits/desires. With most states having early voting now, “don’t forget to vote today,” doesn’t even mean as much as it used to, as many vote well in advance. (I voted two weeks ago–not by choice, but my elderly parent wanted to vote early, so I went along.)

          If anything needed to be said, the person could have asked if anyone else planned to vote during lunch, or if the company was giving any paid time to vote or allowing early leaving to vote. Or even just, “Hey, I voted this morning–long lines, everybody!” or something that reminds people without being teachery.

          As Xena said, by the time election day rolls around, I am exhausted from all the political stuff and voting reminders. I don’t need a coworker pestering me, too.

          1. Lydia*

            A reminder with a link to a website is not pestering. It may feel that way, but that is your feeling, not what’s happening.

          2. Joan*

            Yep. I would be irritated as well by the so called reminder. It’s condescending, confrontational (let’s be honest—these are highly conflicted times), commanding and out of place. I think the co-worker’s response was far more appropriate.

            1. NancyDrew*

              This is one of those times where I cannot believe the commentariat on this website.

              I cannot imagine getting upset at a reminder to vote. Y’all are WILD.

            2. LilPinkSock*

              I long to live in a world where a casual reminder to go to the polls is the most confrontational, inappropriate thing I encounter all day.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                Seriously. I voted by mail last week. I still wouldn’t be upset by a reminder and a link to the registrar of voters or whatever. Because I’ve had a ton of other garbage going on in my life, and sometimes a timely reminder is just that – timely. Then again, I also understand that not everything is about me or personally directed at me.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        I come at this from a teacher’s perspective. (I teach full adults.)

        There is almost ALWAYS someone in a group that needs a reminder. My university has started cancelling classes on election day and encouraging more students to vote. There have been signs and banners for this all over campus.

        I am giving extra credit for “pro voting behavior” and gave my last in-class announcement yesterday. “Hey! Since you all don’t have classes tomorrow, take the time and vote and send me your pro-voting picture via email for extra credit!”

        Literally 2 students asked, with shocked happiness in their eyes, “We don’t have school tomorrow!?!?”

        I have personally been buried under ads and banners and all of the reminders to vote. But my experience is not everyone’s experience. And sometimes it’s nice to be the person who teaches another person something they don’t know even though it’s surprising it’s a fact they are unaware of.

        1. Laney Boggs*

          Yeah, not to mention that the US electoral system*suppresses voters* very obviously. I don’t understand why everyone is fussing so much about it. While I’m a white person in a red county and I don’t have much to worry about, but it’s a well-documented issue of POC in predominantly southern or blue districts getting dumped off of the registered voter lists.

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            If we were suppressing voters today, I am sure surprised. We were busy from the time we opened until about 1/2 hour before we closed, and had about 5 times the number of voters that we did during the two primaries.

            I saw larger than usual number of voters that had already voted, while looking up folks. (color coded, so that we know when to get a manager to help.

            1. Butterfly Counter*

              That actually might be a sign of voter suppression if polling places around you, especially in poorer areas, have been shut down. This causes more travel and longer lines for the places that ARE still open.

              But I do think that a number of ballot issues is getting a higher-than-expected turnout from young people. I know I didn’t vote in midterms until my 30s, but a good chunk of my students voted this year.

              1. Andraste’s Knicker Weasels*

                That’s interesting. In my state, your polling station is your polling station. You can’t go to another location. I kinda just assumed it was the same everywhere!

                1. Napkin Thief*

                  That’s the case in every state, as far as I’m aware – and that’s the problem. You can’t just go to the low volume location in the rich neighborhood, and your assigned location is now serving 3 times as many people from a wider area because the other polling places aren’t being offered to their nearby communities anymore.

        2. The Rural Juror*

          People always forget! I work in a state with 2-week early voting. During that time, you can vote anywhere in your county. Our office is across the street from City Hall, which was a location this time around. Even with several reminders throughout the 2 weeks, a lot of people forgot. Then some left early today because they had to travel to a polling location in their district instead of taking the 2 minute walk to City Hall. It happens!

      2. Me ... Just Me*

        This reminds me of the time my employer sent out a mass email suggesting we all vote for a particular referendum because it would be beneficial to them. They are a large hospital system with facilities in several states.

        1. Observer*

          There is a big difference between suggesting WHO or WHAT to vote for and a neutral reminder to just vote.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*


            A reminder to vote without specifying for who or what is benign. A reminder to vote for X in the company’s interest is definitely NOT.

      3. JSPA*

        Not the best equivalency.

        The person who gets a last minute conflict (or a migraine or sick kid or whatever) or who doesn’t realize, having moved, that they’re no longer in a state with same-day registration, which they think of as the norm, that isn’t something you can necessarily identify in advance, and have a personal word with the person in question.

        It’s like knowing CPR, or what to do in case of a stroke; we could all be that person… unlikely though it seems, based on past experience.

        I’m particularly partial to, “if there’s a crisis and you need coverage to make it possible, reach out, and I’ll help if I can.” Because reminding is easy; offering to walk a coworker’s dog to make their early morning or late evening voting possible, has real value.

      4. Qwerty*

        Adding an If-clause or an work-related item to the message makes it sound more helpful than preaching. The exhaustion is real – I’ve been getting spammed by text messages, phones calls, junk mail, etc. The hand written letters from strangers felt especially uncomfortable! These all have been coming from a specific party, so the blanket messages start feeling like there is an underlying message to vote *for* that specific party.

        Things that are helpful
        – “Next Tuesday is election day so we should reschedule X meeting / expect lower attendance so everyone has flexibility to go vote”
        – Message from someone in leadership that people can flex their hours for voting or whatever that team/company policy is
        – “If you need to register to vote or update your address, tomorrow is the last day. I have the address from updating mine if anyone needs it”
        – “If you need to look up your polling location, I’ve found xyz dot com to be easy to use”

        I think the reason daylight saving time reminders (to use another person’s example) comes off differently is that often the person sending the reminder just realized its that weekend and that’s why they are telling others. It’s more of a “I found this helpful so I’m sharing” than “go do this thing”. I’ve also run into that the coworkers/friends telling everyone to go vote also start asking people whether they voted, then edging into who you voted for.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      Oh, that reminds me of the time I was working temporarily at the other end of the country and our government scheduled an election for a Thursday, the norm is Friday. It wasn’t really doable to travel 3 hours to my hometown to vote and travel back again, we don’t have early voting in Ireland and you have to give notice of intent to get a postal vote and I only got offered the job maybe two weeks before the election, which was not enough notice.

      What REALLY annoyed me was that the government almost certainly did this deliberately. The party in power was most popular among older people so they announced the election for a Thursday in order to make it more difficult for college students and young people in their first jobs, who might not have transferred their vote yet or who, like me, were in temporary jobs it wasn’t worth transferring a vote for, to vote.

      So yeah, I might have been somewhat irritated then, but more at the government than at the person giving the reminder.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        I think in the UK you can get a proxy vote up to the last minute, if it’s because of something you really didn’t know about before – I’m not sure what evidence the proxy has to take, but presumably it’s quicker than waiting for postal votes to be sent about.

          1. BubbleTea*

            Ireland not being in the UK doesn’t mean that the point isn’t correct though. I read an implied “maybe there’s something similar in other countries too”. Since Ireland also isn’t in the US, it’s no more irrelevant than the original comment was to the letter.

            1. Lexi Vipond*

              I first wrote ‘I think here you can’, and then changed it to specify where ‘here’ was, and caused confusion in another way! There’d been a bit of discussion of UK and Irish elections below, too. Apologies for the confusion.

          2. Lexi Vipond*

            Well, some of it is*, and Northern Ireland seems to have different voting rules again…
            (Different from the rest of the UK, anyway – presumably different from the rest of the island(s) of Ireland, but I don’t know enough about them to be sure.)

            *At the moment, but I could just as well say that about Scotland!

        1. Alice*

          Irish Teacher says they’re in Ireland, though, which isn’t part of the UK and has different voting laws.

    4. Ragged and Rusty*

      I’ll take “mildly annoying” for the rest of today as being appropriate.

      I went early, and I sent out the early voting schedule/how to vote by mail for my state, and then left it.
      I know it’s volatile, and even if I don’t say which candidate to vote for, my beliefs are obvious. If certain changes happen I’d much rather know that everyone voted than just a small percentage controlling all the decisions.

      1. Carit*

        Hell, my father and I are so far apart on the the US political spectrum that we’ve had – and both maintained – a moratorium on any political discussion for nearly 20 years… and we remind each other to vote almost every time.

        There was nothing (!) in any way inappropriate about the first worker’s reminder, but the coworker’s response was very inappropriate.

    5. ferrina*

      I’m one of these folks that gives these reminders. Yes, I add “if you’re eligible to vote”, but sometimes my peers forget on the mass communications. Usual rules of office mass communications apply- not always applicable, and often mildly annoying.

      But this isn’t just about encouraging individuals to vote. It’s also staking a position as a company/team- we are a culture that encourages democratic participation (if individually applicable/desired). We ask our managers to be flexible with staff’s schedule and adjust as needed so they can get to their polling place (if applicable and desired). As a parent, I pick up my kids early so the daycare workers can hopefully have more time to get to their polling place (if applicable/desired). We never ask about individual’s status or plans beyond “Do you want to adjust your schedule today?” We are just doing our part to lower the logistical barriers to voting.

      1. MK*

        I wouldn’t mind a mass email with a reminder. Introducing the topic on a meeting is more intrusive in my opinion, though nothing to be particularly upset about.

      2. LilPinkSock*

        Yup. I had a team meeting today and reminded my colleagues to vote during my roundtable turn. But I’ve learned here that I behaved inappropriately, confrontationally, and with a lot of unacceptable political bias.

    6. Prospect gone bad*

      The huge problem is that if you need to be told to vote in a midterm, your precisely the type of person who isn’t following politics and probably shouldn’t be voting. I never understood this push to get everyone to vote. I know loads of people who aren’t into politics at all. Looking at the current ballot card most of the candidates on both sides have flaws, you can’t just willy-nilly go picking people. I don’t know why on earth we would want people who just learned who the candidates were yesterday randomly checking names

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        See, that is exactly why we SHOULD remind people that an election is coming up, so that those who don’t follow it like their favorite sport can make an INFORMED decision. The things my House Representative voted on impact me whether I follow politics closely or not; it doesn’t only impact people for whom policies is a special interest.

      2. Dinwar*

        That’s always been my view as well. I have found, however, that saying “Maybe people who have no idea what the issues are or what the candidates stand for should stay home” is generally viewed poorly. Voting is a right, and of course no one should interfere with the exercise of that right, but in the USA it is not an obligation, and if someone is ill-informed they should acknowledge that by staying home.

        This shouldn’t be controversial. It’s the fundamental idea behind a republic–delegation of authority to people who you trust to be informed on the issues. That’s why we have representatives, the Electoral College (before it got distorted beyond recognition), and the like.

        (Please note that I’m saying nothing about any political parties or specific issues. Disagreement IS NOT evidence of being ill-informed.)

        1. hellohello*

          I would encourage you to look into the history of the treatment of presumed “low information” voters, especially the history of literacy tests, poll taxes, and the like. “If you’re not informed you should’t vote” might sound sensible, but in truth any determination of who is “informed enough” to vote is going to end up deeply tied to class, race, gender, and more.

          1. Prospect gone bad*

            I don’t get what you’re trying to say at all. Low information voters cut through every demographic. It’s not a demographic issue, it’s a personal interest issue.

            I feel like you’re trying to say that because somebody used the term low information voter as an insult one, that is not a meaningful term and other situation, which I’m gonna disagree with.

            I’m related to some of these people, they’re not a foreign species to me! They say they’re voting for so and so because of X issue not realizing that that candidate does not care about X issue but does want to get rid of Y which I know my relative wants. And I know my relative hates when people say ABC but they never saw the speeches so don’t know the candidate says that sometimes

            I know people here probably want people to vote along party lines. But that still doesn’t help when you live in an area that is ran by basically one political party. You still need to pick the candidates.

            This is why it’s too murky to get into in the workplace!

            I just sit back scared sometimes. I’ve been following politics long enough that all of the candidates feel like old friends or enemies. To see people read one little article on them and pick a talking point and vote for some of them based on that is actually scary to me! And I don’t want to think lesser of my coworkers if they admit to doing that

            1. hellohello*

              Having the time, resources, energy, access to education, etc. to deeply research every candidate and issue is absolutely tied to things like race, class, and more. And even people dedicated to being unbiased will have internalized ideas about what an “informed” voter looks, acts, and sounds like. Judging people based on whether they seem to you as if they are informed enough to have a say in the political processes that govern their lives is never going to be free of bias, and encouraging people not to vote if you think they are not “well enough informed” is going to discourage people who society treats as less-than from voting.

              To be clear, I’m not saying your one voice or opinion is going to drastically change things, but in the aggregate if we tell people who aren’t highly educated or who didn’t go to college or whose parents never voted or who get frequently told they’re poor because they’re lazy that they’re not informed enough to vote, some of them are going to believe you. They’ll certainly be more affected than people who society is treats as inherently worthy and intelligent.

          2. Dinwar*

            I am aware of the history, and I deplore it. I do not, however, think it should prevent us from serious introspection and asking whether we’re voting because we feel strongly on an issue, vs voting because we feel a strong tribal affiliation.

            1. Liv*

              Even if you don’t know a single thing about any of the candidates, it’s perfectly valid to vote a ballot down the party line. I don’t know everything about every candidate when I vote, but I sure as hell am going to vote for the Dem every time since I know that party is far more aligned with my interests than the GOP, no matter what.

            2. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

              I have the right to vote for a particular candidate simply because I like his tie. You are welcome to do all the introspection you want, when you imply that other people aren’t worthy unless they’ve done a sufficient (according to who? You?) amount of research on an issue, you’re doing exactly the thing that you claim to deplore.

          3. Carit*

            Agreed. That’s very clearly evident in history and past SCOTUS rulings.

            It’s one of those things that is intuitively right, but actually deeply dangerous.

      3. doreen*

        Not necessarily – I’ve known plenty of people who don’t vote ( especially in midterms) not because they don’t know who they prefer, but because they don’t think it will make a difference.

      4. triss merigold*

        I don’t know if that’s an accurate assessment. Some people have a reasonable sense of what the parties stand for but just don’t prioritize pokemon going to the polls. “Click here for a quick rundown of your ballot” could be the difference for them. Or not. You never know what’s going on with folks.

      5. hellohello*

        Voting is a fundamental right, and acting like someone shouldn’t vote if they don’t pass your personal standards of properly informed is not it.

      6. Sylvan*

        Yeah, only people who set aside time to follow local and national politics should be able to vote. What could go wrong?

      7. JSPA*

        The idea that someone should only vote if they know the minutiae of each candidate’s voting record and policy statements is debatable (though perhaps not here).

        But “lost track of calendar” is even more basic, and unrelated to being broadly well-informed.

        You can have very clear preferences pro or anti an incumbent, or pro or anti a party, and also have a toddler and jet lag and a schedule that isn’t a set M-F, and somehow not have remembered that yes, today is tuesday, and yes, this is election day.

        I’ve had WFH / nonstandard schedule neighbors say they only remember it’s about to be election day when they see my signs go up, and they’re otherwise very well informed on issues and candidates.

      8. Observer*

        The huge problem is that if you need to be told to vote in a midterm, your precisely the type of person who isn’t following politics and probably shouldn’t be voting.

        This is absolutely not true. There are many, many people who know enough about the candidates to know who it makes sense for them to vote for, who still need the reminder. This is true for a whole host of reasons.

        Also, recency of information does not make it valid. For instance, if someone just found out about the vote yesterday and went to find out what each persons said about x, y and z issues or who has given the money, or who they are affiliated with, that’s just as useful as if they had found out that information 6 months ago.

        The idea that “if you don’t have THIS ONE piece of information, you should be ineligible to vote” is pretty dangerous. And it’s easy to say that the one item that YOU chose is different from all of the other items that have been chosen to disenfranchise voters in the past, but it not really true. I realize that you are not actually trying to make a legal suggestion, but “they shouldn’t vote” is the moral equivalent.

        1. Lizzianna*


          I mean, I still need a reminder that Parent Teacher Conferences are this week, and that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to take care of my kid.

          People are busy and sometimes lose track of which week it is. Heck, it’s Nov. 8, and I’m still dating things for October. I still know I like my Congressman and want him to stay in office.

      9. Yes Anastasia*

        I am an high-information voter, and I vote for the party, not the candidate. Obviously I research candidates before primaries, but I have never voted against my party in 18 years & would only withhold my vote or vote third-party if I had serious moral issues with a specific candidate.

        I think most people vote this way, especially these days. I would love people to be higher information voters but, especially these days, very few people are picking candidates at random. The party system is obviously a mess but it does make voting accessible.

        1. Education Mike*

          I always do my research, and I never used to vote by party that way (no judgment!). In this political climate I have started to. It’s a different and weirder calculation these days. I know a lot of people who feel the same. When things are so polarized there are sadly fewer questions to ask.

      10. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        at my company fwiw, this isn’t about being reminded to vote (we know nobody actually forgets that it’s election day) but it’s about being reminded that we have *flexible work policies* and that people are encouraged to take the time to step away from their computer to vote!

      11. Pescadero*

        Higher voter turnout (and I favor COMPULSORY voting like Australia) leads to more moderate politics that a higher portion of the electorate is happy with.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I agree. The calculus may be different in a two-party system, but in my multi-party system, my (admittedly statistically not significant) experience is that those who aren’t very motivated to actively go vote would choose one of the center parties if plonked down in front of a ballot. That is fine by me. Reduces the percentage of the mysogynistic, racist, homophobic nationalists. It’s sad that this has to be a consideration, but here we are.

      12. Roland*

        > type of person who isn’t following politics and probably shouldn’t be voting.

        Wow I couldn’t disagree more. Everyone should be voting. Saying that people who aren’t “following politics” shouldn’t vote is super undemocratic and I’d really urge you to reexamine what you’re saying when you make that statement.

      13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        If someone just learned yesterday who the candidates are, they still had time to look for endorsements, google for candidate websites, or ask a friend or relative for advice. Or they may know, from experience, that they agree with the Llama Party and disagree with the Teapot Party, and will vote based on that.

        There are probably people in my Congressional district who will be voting for the Republican challenger entirely because they’ve heard bad things about the Democratic incumbent, and people in other districts who are doing the reverse.

      14. LilPinkSock*

        Ew. It’s not ok to tell people not to vote. I didn’t know all the ins and outs of every candidate on my ballot, but I still did my duty.

      15. Kit*

        Speaking as an informed voter – I know all the major-party candidates on my ballot this year and most years, and know exactly why I’m voting for one or the other (or not voting in a race, given that two of them are running unopposed…) – there are a lot of underinformed/”low information”/etc. voters out there who are extremely energized about voting because they have people telling them to go do it. Why exactly should we discourage those reminders going out to everyone?

        Democracy used to mean a vote just for white, land-owning men, who were assumed to be better-informed than the hoi polloi; we’ve expanded the franchise to encompass most of the adult population of the US, and that means that other interests are represented… but it doesn’t actually guarantee an informed, engaged, rational electorate any more than restricting the vote to rich white guys did. Instead of discouraging people from exercising their rights, consider working on voter outreach before election day to increase the number of potential voters who do know who the candidates are, and what their positions are!

    7. Phony Genius*

      Federal law protects you from workplace discrimination based on how you voted. This includes discrimination based on whether or not you voted at all. (This is why giving out free donuts for “I Voted” stickers is illegal and the donut shops had to stop it.) The coworker may be trying to be extra cautious and keep the workplace neutral as to whether or not to even vote.

      Although I doubt anybody would ever get in trouble for this, I can envision a wise guy trying to report this in certain states that are passing extreme election laws.

      1. JSPA*

        They’re still doing it. Not sure if there was a ruling as far as what constitutes “value,” or if they just have to give a donut to anyone who asks, whether or not they voted.

        1. Governmint Condition*

          Most chains now do what you describe, giving donuts to all. But usually only in presidential election years.

          1. Governmint Condition*

            I take part of that back. Krispy Kreme is running the promotion today. Everybody gets one; you don’t have to have voted.

        2. doreen*

          Every place I’ve read about doing it this year is either giving everyone the freebie/discount, sticker or not or giving it to people who have their app, sticker or not.

    8. Maglev to Crazytown*

      My spouse is federal government, and Office of Personnel Management just notified this morning that all employees can hours of paid administrative leave to go vote. I have heard of some private sector employees doing similar, so I really don’t see an issue with reminding people that it is election day. Some places of work (schools) are often closed on election day to serve as voting centers.

      1. Governmint Condition*

        My very blue state had this rule, but it was abused so they modified it. You now have to have a 4-hour window to vote. If your shift ends at least 4 hours before the polls close, or starts 4 hours after they open, you get no extra time. And you now only get enough time that will give you a 4-hour window at the beginning or end of your shift.

        Interestingly, we can’t check the voting status of employees, so it applies to everybody. Even employees who are not registered and/or non-citizens.

        1. doreen*

          I wonder if you are in the same state as me or if two states did something similar – up until 2019, employers were required to give up to two hours of paid time off to people who didn’t have four hours to vote either before or after work. For 2020, everyone got three hours paid time off to vote as long as they were registered (and my guess is that most employers didn’t check – my public employer sure didn’t). And then for 2021 , it was amended again , back to only getting enough time to give you four hours either before or after work.

        2. Deanna Troi*

          Yes, I also work for the federal government, and the way Government Condition described it is the message we got from the Office of Personnel Management.

    9. Database Developer Dude*

      I would speculate, based on what the letter stated was said, that the colleague who was offended was an old white man, and the young woman was a person of color (although that wouldn’t be absolutely necessary for the old white man to show his a$$…..they do that for any young people they don’t like).

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          It’s not racist. It’s based on observation of how people act. Reminding people to go vote is such an innocuous thing that to get immediately offended is a gross overreaction. Overreactions come when the people overreacting see a difference in status between them and the people they’re overreacting to.

          Now granted, the young woman didn’t HAVE to be a person of color (and her race and/or ethnicity wasn’t stated in the letter)….but when someone makes a comment about doing something longer than someone else has been alive, you have to know that they’re a bit on the older side.

          And black people never complain about other black people reminding us to go vote.

        2. BohoBoohoo*

          There’s no racism in that comment. Prejudice, yes, but racism can only be applied to discrimination against minorities.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Nope, not prejudice. An observation based on how I’ve seen white people treat non-white people in the workplace. As a black man, I’ve never been lectured like that by a fellow black person……

        3. Spinel Sky*

          I don’t see this as a racist comment – racism against white people doesn’t exist, and it makes sense that someone making a reminder to vote could be a young POC isn’t a crazy assumption. (I’m an old white queer who also sees nothing wrong with the reminder!)

      1. Sloanicota*

        I did think the annoyance was probably more interpersonal than a big-picture referendum on the appropriateness of encouraging people to vote at work. Possible reasons are that the older coworker doesn’t think the younger one / others are likely to vote the same, or just that the older coworker objects to the idea that the younger one could teach somebody (especially them) anything. It sounded like he was grumpy to me.

    10. Trishfish*

      The place where i work has sent out multiple emails with links, and discussed this during town hall meetings. That guy in OPs letter sounds ridiculous.

    11. Student*

      That’s taking a comment about a major nation-wide event weirdly personally. The expectation is that you’ll recognize this announcement doesn’t apply to you specifically, but is very important to many other people nearby. No one is encouraging you to commit voter fraud, nor wants you to get thrown in prison.

      In most of the US that I have lived in, it would be considered rude and weird to make assumptions about an immigrant’s ability to vote, or to ask outright and then create citizens vs non-citizens email lists. Part of this is because many of us want to be generally welcoming to immigrants, and part of this is because we have so many citizen immigrants that it’d be futile to try to guess at anyone’s status. In my job, I work closely with many immigrants who have obtained citizenship and can vote, along with some who either cannot obtain or do not want citizenship and thus can’t vote. If I have to make a citizenship assumption about them, I assume they are citizens until I’m told otherwise, both because this is more often correct than not and because it’s more welcoming and less likely to be off-putting if I’m wrong.

      The only time there’s a legitimate reason to ask someone about their citizenship, in my opinion, is if it’s legally necessary.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Thank you, but I am in fact perfectly aware that nobody was actually encouraging me to commit voter fraud. That’s why I said it was something I muttered sarcastically to myself!

        In my experience living as a non-citizen in America, many Americans assume that everyone with permanent residency can vote, which is not the case outside of a few jurisdictions where non-citizens can vote in school board elections. I actually had conversations about this with Americans multiple times, where they knew I was not a citizen but were surprised that I just couldn’t vote anyway. I think it’s fine to assume that people are citizens, just not to assume that everyone eligible to become a citizen wants to be one or to have the rights and responsibilities that come with being one – because there are many non-citizens who don’t.

    12. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Now that I’m in an international organization I don’t do these reminders any more, but for a US-based group I would not consider a voting reminder out of line.

    13. Irish girl*

      My company sent out an email that encouraged people to exercise their right to vote last week in what manner they choose. Our big boss also sent an department wide email encouraging us to vote even if that required leaving during the work day to do it. I dont find it inappropriate in either case as the majority of voting time is during the work day and seeing that a company is encouraging you to do so and will allow you time to do that is important.

    14. SofiaDeo*

      But IMO this is no more than a “remember to change your clocks back to end DST” in the US. Nothing wrong at all. The person who got ticked off, well, there’s always one of “those” in any group who can twist words around to have an offensive intent. If the situation was “remember all, we are closed next Monday for a holiday” and someone said “I am not stupid, don’t insult my intelligence with a reminder” would anyone thing anything other than “responder is an idiot, no one is accusing them of being stupid”?

    15. sunbathing squirrel*

      The CEO of my global, multi-national, diverse company just sent out an all-company announcement reminder about election day. He did include a caveat of “if you are registered” with a link to check polling places. I wonder how the colleague would have responded if the person sending the message was in a position of authority.

  8. PX*

    Unfortunate, but this is sometimes what I use bathroom breaks for. Sit in a stall for a minute or two, close my eyes and do some mini-meditation.

    Depends on the state of your bathrooms though!

    1. CheeryO*

      That’s what I was going to say! Stretch your legs, walk around a bit, then have a little sit in the bathroom with your eyes closed. Sounds silly, but that’s office life for you.

  9. Irish Teacher.*

    Generally, I would think that somebody closing their eyes for a minute or two looks a lot different from somebody who is sleeping. If somebody is sitting up straight in their chair with their eyes closed, I’d more likely assume thinking than sleeping. I would expect somebody sleeping to be slumped down and generally not alert.

    Maybe the LW could use body language to otherwise signal being awake – sitting up very straight, holding something or doing something with their hands to signify thought.

    And I very much agree that if LW3 has an emergency contact for Robin, it might be worth letting them know “we’ve been unable to contact her,” if they haven’t already.

      1. ecnaseener*

        The difference between slumped over possibly asleep and sitting up in a way that requires you to be awake? That’s hardly something that takes close observation — easier to spot than whether someone’s eyes are open.

        1. A Penguin!*

          I don’t think it’s (always) that clear. I know a couple people who can sleep with a sitting posture that definitely reads as ‘must be awake’. One of them gives it away with snores, the other notsomuch.

          1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

            One of my skills is being able to sleep upright in an airport chair in spite of all the noise and movements. My travel companions know this so there’s no panic when I don’t move for an extended period of time.

    1. ferrina*

      Good point on the body language. LW can probably adjust the body language in a way that clearly reads “not sleeping”. For example, hunched over a paper twirling a pen as though thinking what to write next? (with back to the boss)

    2. Smithy*

      Very much under the banner of “lots of possible results” – I think where the OP’s supervisor might be coming from is more around some people appear when nodding off related to medical issues such as sleep apnea. The sleeping state can happen be intermittent, for short periods and marked by periods of waking up and returning to alert focus before nodding off again.

      This isn’t to say that the OP’s supervisor should be diagnosing them – but it may impacting their bias of their observations as “shut eyes equaling sleep” as opposed to “shut eyes equaling intentionally recharging.” While the OP’s weight and age might be impacting the supervisor’s biases – it may just genuinely be connected to frustration with a family member/close friend or another direct report who they’ve been working with recently.

    3. Anne*

      What I do is stretch while I have my eyes closed. It’s a lot more obvious that someone’s awake when they are rolling their neck, twisting their back or stretching out their hands, even when their eyes are closed. Plus it’s a nice 2 for 1 break!

  10. ceiswyn*

    If my eyes feel sore and dry, I’m going to close them for a couple of minutes. It can’t be that unusual, especially in dry, air-conditioned offices with artificial lighting?

  11. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    I don’t vote today because I’m in the UK, but if you are in the US, please use yours.

    (Come to think of it, same applies if you are in any country holding elections!!)

    1. Marion Ravenwood*


      (And even if you’re somewhere where elections aren’t necessarily happening any time soon, like the UK, please make sure you’re registered on the electoral roll or your country’s equivalent – because you never know when the election might get called.)

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        With that kind of uncertainty, I feel sorry for those who have to set up the elections. We get trained before everyone.

        1. londonedit*

          It isn’t as if the government says ‘right, election’s happening tomorrow’. In the UK we have a fixed-term parliament so theoretically a general election can’t happen until 2024, but the government could call an early election as long as they have the support of 2/3 of MPs, or if there was a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister then we could end up with an earlier election. But there’s still time in between one being called and one happening – in 2019 Boris Johnson called a snap election in October and the actual voting day was in December. Of course it’s still important to be on the electoral roll so you can easily vote in local council elections in between general elections, and so you know you’re always eligible to vote just in case there is a snap election (and in UK politics you really never know these days) but it’s not like it’d be oh crap there’s suddenly an election next week.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes. Also just to say as my mother is presiding officer at her local polling station they do get training in the time between the election being called and it taking place. I rememver she couldn’t do the last election because she was away during the training sessions.

          2. Irish Teacher*

            In Ireland, it’s fairly usual for us to get fairly short notice for elections. This is partly because our governments are usually coalitions so you never know when the smaller party (or one of the smaller parties) will pull out and partly as governments get to call elections so they usually want to wrongfoot their opponents by giving them as little time to plan as usual.

            In the early ’80s, there was once three elections in an 18 month period.

            But again, it’s not like they announce an election for next week. There’s usually…about a month’s notice. Something like that.

            The guy who wrote our constitution, de Valera, was known for his snap elections. He’d make a point of calling an election right after his government did something really popular and return with a bigger majority.

            On top of that, we have regular referenda, as our constitution can only be changed by a referendum. We usually have more notice for these, but they are an additional reason to ensure one is registered to vote.

          3. EvilQueenRegina*

            I thought the government actually repealed the Fixed Term Parliament act this year, so in theory could call one sooner, but they don’t actually have to call one until 5 years after the last one. Correct me if I’m wrong, anyone!

            Either way, there would be something like 6 weeks for campaigning, training etc. I think.

            1. UKgreen*

              There’s an AWFUL lot of admin around UK General Elections. Although the time between the election being called and happening is used by political parties to campaign, the time is really needed behind the scenes to print ballots, manage postal votes and proxies, recruit and train polling staff and counters, hire venues for polling stations, etc. It’s an enormous task carried out tirelessly by local councils, and an expensive one too – the last GE in the UK cost around £175million just in ‘admin’.

        2. BubbleTea*

          We did have a snap election a few years ago (and another one since – it’s becoming a habit), and I signed up to serve as an officer. There was online training and it was paid too which was a bonus (the actual work was paid of course, but I hadn’t expected the training to be paid extra).

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        That’s wild to me as someone who lives in the US that elections could be called at any time in other countries….

        1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

          We had a snap election in December years ago and someone compared it to turkeys demanding an early Christmas. No one wanted to vote in December.

        2. HBJ*

          This isn’t unique to other countries. Sure, it doesn’t happen at the federal level, but calling special elections are quite common at the state and local level. They are used to, say, fill a city council seat if someone resigns mid-term. Or to vote on a proposition between elections.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Yes, but the types of elections being talked about can be called at any time even if nobody has resigned. That’s what trips me out.

  12. Forgot my name again*

    OP2: I feel you. I have a fairly screen-heavy job but I have a window and reasons to move around a lot during the day, so most of the time I don’t have a problem, but on the rare days when I don’t feel energetic, or have a lot of computer work to do, I can get to the end of the day and realise I’ve not looked away from the computer at all – then I have eye strain so bad I can’t look at anything else and have to lie down with my eyes shut for the evening. The 20-20-20 advice is a good rule of thumb (and here in the UK we have guidance for employers on looking after workers who use screens a lot: My advice is to avoid getting into the situation where you need to close your eyes in the first place if you can.

  13. bamcheeks*

    LW2, your manager sounds *horrible*! In a working environment like that, they should be supporting you to do whatever reduces eye strain and muscular-skeletal injury, and taking a break to reset your focus and posture is really good practice and should be praised. Grrrr at them!

  14. Smilingswan*

    Rock the vote friends! Make your voice count. I reminded my colleagues too. I don’t care who you vote for, or how. Just make sure you do!

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      We got official reminders from our company to go vote, and I really appreciated the message for what it meant (that my company views voting and civic engagement as important).

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        The job I recently retired from encouraged people to either come in late or leave early on election day so we always had time to vote. I really appreciated that.

        1. ferrina*

          I love when jobs do that! My work doesn’t currently do that (they leave it up to different teams to flex their schedules), but I’d love to see them do that in the future.

          My kid’s school is closed for the day, so I took a PTO day and my kids are coming to vote with me today. I told my boss what I was doing and she LOVED it.

        2. Lyudie*

          My company put out a notice that even if you are not in a state that requires paid time off for voting, you get two hours paid time to go vote (whether that’s a sufficient amount of time is another discussion).

      2. Fed voter*

        I work for the Fed government, we received a reminder that we can use up to 4 hours not charged to our leave to vote if we are unable to do so outside of our work hours. That 4 hours includes travel time.

    2. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      And if you’re an employer, make sure you actually give your employees the CHANCE to vote!


      The front desk person who is going to be scrambling to get to a station during evening rush hour because employer yells all over company email and their social media about how important it is to vote, but doesn’t take into account the fact that some of can’t “just do it on your break” because some of us get no breaks at all no I’m not bitter /s

      1. JSPA*

        Have you brought this up?

        Sure, someone knows that some people don’t get breaks, but that doesn’t mean that the people with the power to give you a break, know it. Sure, they could guess, as they see you whenever they pass by. But it’s a jump from there, to, “hunh, maybe they’re here all the time, even when I’m not. I wonder if that job description specifies breaks, or not?”

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          I get the exact same response every time I bring up an issue to the manager/higher-ups that needs to be addressed: “Oh, you’re right, that kinda sucks! I’ll do something about it.”

          Spoiler: nothing ever gets done about whatever “it” is. /upsidedownface

          1. JSPA*

            It’s not going to be high on their priority list, as it is on yours. Election day is a great time to say, “of all days, this is a day I should be getting a break, so I can vote.” At minimum, they might send you out the door a bit early.

            The day after election day is a good time to explain that you barely made it to the polls / failed despite running.

            1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

              Trust me, I can’t even get these a$$holes to fix the broken door lock, and that after someone literally just strolled right into the building and threatened people six months ago. Voting is so low on their skewed list of priorities I might as well be asking them to turn into fairy dust and make me fly.

              Oh well, I’m quitting in a few weeks anyway.

      2. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        I hear you. I’ve been there. One election I looked at public transit projections for the evening and decided to spend $50 on a taxi (from my oh-so-copious receptionist salary) to make sure I could vote.

    3. Prospect gone bad*

      The problem is that loads of people don’t know who the candidates are. My job frequently does the faux pas of delving into politics, and I work with what you would think are really smart people, and they haven’t heard any of the stories that I’ve brought up about our governor running for reelection. Our candidate bag is mixed, it’s definitely not an election where you can run or vote based on party lines. This is why I hate this idea that we just get people into booths. I mean, you would never in 1 million years picked job candidates that way would you? Just randomly check names when you don’t know anything about the people?

      1. Carit*

        Perhaps do what I suspect many do – look them up on a smartphone. And to be clear, every adult I’ve seen in the benefits office waiting room has a smartphone, and in many cases the smartphone *is* their home internet access.

        That is to say, the information can be found and doesn’t need to be deeply studied (though it sure can be). Or, of course, they can vote “party ticket.” Voting is a right and should not be obstructed. I wish the US had compulsory rather than voluntary voting.

      2. JSPA*

        Lets say there are 8 people on the ballot. Let’s say someone has a strong party identification.

        1. where’s the logic in arguing that for them to vote party line (and include a couple of people that in retrospect, they would not have picked, if better informed) is better than not voting at all? That’d be 6 votes they’re happy to have made, two they’re not thrilled by. Not voting, in contrast, means they miss out on voting for the six they’d have supported anyway, to avoid voting for the two turkeys.

        2. I’ve been an election worker, as well as helping with recounts. Having seen the raw ballots, I can assure you that many people vote only in the races where they are adequately informed, and leave the other ones blank. Some people vote a party vote, and then go back and change one race to one of the other candidate(s). People write in candidates when they don’t like the choices. People straight up volunteer, while leaving, “I always forget about the retention votes, so I have to leave them blank.” That is OK! The idea that you or I or anyone else can better assess a registered voter’s level of information than that voter can themselves? That’s presumptuous, and it’s dangerous.

        1. Kit*

          Ooooh, retention votes. Don’t get me started on the issues with elected judges and judicial retention…

          And yes, leaving a particular race blank on the ballot is just fine – I did it myself today, twice, since both my state-lege reps are running unopposed and I refuse to endorse their voting records. That is my right as an informed voter, and I’m happy to exercise it! Just as it would be an informed voter’s right to select a candidate they’re not thrilled by because they loathe the opposition (something I do most election cycles).

          I happen to think that a lot of voters are underinformed, but that’s mostly because several key races involve candidates who are going to get 40+% of the vote, and who have explicitly said they would like to deny me rights (and in some cases explicitly sided with people who want me dead). Believing they haven’t thought things through is less alarming than assuming that all those voters have made the deliberate decision to screw people like me over, or endorsed violence, or think I don’t deserve to exist…

      3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The answer to that is to encourage people to do a bit of research ahead of time.

        The writer Naomi Kritzer does local (Minneapolis-St. Paul) election blogging, including candidates for relatively obscure offices (like at large school board seats). She has also posted about her method, which starts with looking for candidates’ websites. Candidate websites are likely to include “please donate!” but they’ll also say things like “vote for John Doe, for better llamas!” and “re-elect Smith, endorsed by Azaz the Unabridged and the Mathemagician.”

        No, it’s not perfect, but neither is staying home on the assumption that a complete stranger who spends more time than you do paying attention to those details will make a better choice than you will: no matter what your politics, a significant number of those complete strangers will disagree with you, for various reasons.

        As other people have noted, if there are several offices and a couple of referendum questions, you can vote in some and leave others blank. We have four such questions this year, and after a significant amount of thought, I couldn’t decide about question 3, so I left it blank. If I’d been in a hurry, I would have spent less time, and still left it blank. I don’t think that not having an opinion on liquor licenses means that I shouldn’t vote for governor or congress.

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, see, as a person who cares about the world and how it’s run, I see all the “please vote” reminders as solidarity. The more of them I see, the happier I am. So, Smilingswan, your comment made me especially happy, as did Alison’s PS to her response. The guy who was offended because he already knew that he should vote was being a pompous jerk. (And especially so since he pulled the “been doing X for longer than you’ve been alive” card.) I suppose if the person reminding people to vote had thought of it in the moment she could have responded with something like, “I know you don’t need the reminder, Fergus, I’m just mentioning it in case others do.” But I certainly wouldn’t have come up with that in the moment so I can forgive her for also not. But wow, Fergus, chill out, my man.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I made & brought in an Election Day Cake. Nobody complains about the reminder when there’s Cake.

  15. TheLinguistManager*

    I will generally post messages to my team telling them to vote as an election is coming up (usually for the US, but we are an international team, so anytime I know an election is happening in one of our countries). However, the focus of those messages is both a reminder to vote and confirming that they should take work time to go do it. As a manager, I am explicit that I do not want people to worry about work over voting, and that I support people moving or missing meetings or even deadlines if that’s what it takes.

    As for LW1, their coworker can calm the heck down. Reminding folks to register or vote is a normal thing and their response (“I’ve been voting longer than you’ve been alive”) is an overreaction to a clearly general reminder.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I quite like the idea of next time, of saying “a reminder to everyone, except Claude, to go and vote!” and seeing how he likes that XD

      1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

        This made me laugh because my dad’s name was Claude, and he would be the one telling everybody to go vote.

    2. xl*

      > their response (“I’ve been voting longer than you’ve been alive”) is an overreaction to a clearly general reminder.

      I also see it as a snide and condescending remark when referring to an action that doesn’t require specialized or developed skillset.

      I’ve busted the phrase out exactly once, and it’s when I was training someone who was arguing with me that I didn’t know what I was talking about when I corrected him when he was about to make a mistake that could have killed someone.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I used it once to tease a co-worker who told me he would teach me to code. I told him I had been coding since before he was born – that I had even coded on punchcards. :)

        1. JustaTech*

          The look on my dad’s face the day we were at the computer museum and my mom was able to just whip through an example on the punch cards while he couldn’t figure out how to load them was *priceless*!
          (It’s not that my dad thinks that my mom isn’t computer savvy; it’s just that she doesn’t enjoy mucking about with the printer, so he forgets that she’s been using computers longer than he has.)

    3. Smithy*

      I do think that managers sending out these reminders – particular with the caveat of being able to come in late or leave early – can help focus the message on practical advice. Even those who have “been voting for decades” may not know what flexibility they do or don’t have with any given manager.

    4. MicroManagered*

      My team is all in the US but same. I give them reminders before and on the morning of election day so that they are well-aware that it’s ok if they want to vote during work hours.

      I have a couple people who came from managers who made all time off needs ‘a thing’ so I would rather them be sick of me saying they can vote during work than deciding it’s not worth working up the nerve to ask.

  16. DJ Abbott*

    Re voting – I waited almost 3 hours in line to vote on Sunday. I have never seen that happen before in my area, and it was quite a surprise.
    So when you go to vote, try to allow plenty of time for waiting in line. It’s different this time.

    Great appreciation to the poll workers, who are working long days to accommodate all the people still in line at closing time! They are heroes! <3

    1. LizB*

      Also, if the polls close while you’re still waiting in line, you are still entitled to vote! Don’t leave the line, stay until you’ve voted. If you get hungry, look up “pizza to the polls” and see if they can send some food to your line. :)

  17. CouldntPickAUsername*

    lw#2 rub your temples with your fingers while you close your eyes, you’ll look like you’re dealing with a headache and it’ll be pretty clear that you’re awake because you’re moving.

  18. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #2

    LW, have you said to your supervisor, “I close my eyes for a few minutes several times a day to help reduce eye strain from staring at a computer for eight hours”? What was the response? If you haven’t said that, I’d suggest saying that. Seems like a pretty easy thing to do.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      #2 have you seen an optician? When my eyes start feeling strained it means I need new eyeglasses. If you haven’t already looked into that, it might help!

  19. o_gal*

    #2 – And sometimes the person really is asleep. When enough of us brought it management, he claimed he was just resting his eyes. So then the person who shared the office with him told our manager that he snored. Manager then was told he had a sleeping disorder (narcolepsy). But he had no formal diagnosis and wasn’t willing to go through everything to get one. He was then let go, and now we knew the reason why his resume was that of a job hopper (I was on the interview team that hired him and we all had reservations about that, but he was a referral from our manager. Who actually did not know about his sleeping on the job issue.)

    1. Smithy*

      Between narcolepsy and sleep apnea – there are genuine medical issues out there that have someone nodding that people may encounter in their personal life or with previous direct reports.

      Now supervisors being overly concerned that someone has a medical issue can always get into concern trolling, but just to flag that this may be where an initial optics question is coming from. If you have a good/normal supervisor – then this may be a conversation you can have more broadly about how you best recharge your eyes and your boss may provide some feedback that indicates other markers or concern beyond the eye closing. If your supervisor isn’t a great and is more hyper-concerned with optics – I just think that it’s helpful to know what other perceptions can be connected to regularly closing your eyes. Fairly or not.

      1. JustaTech*

        My husband had a coworker with serious sleep apnea who often would fall asleep/take a nap at work. The difference was that this guy would admit to it immediately *and* he would just work later to make up his napping time.
        Their manager encouraged him to make use of their excellent health insurance to get the sleep apnea in check. The manager also took the position of “as long as your work gets done and you don’t fall asleep in meetings, it’s fine”. (Which they could do because that’s a thing in tech. If it had been a coverage-based job I’m sure it would have been very different.)

    2. Observer*

      He was then let go, and now we knew the reason why his resume was that of a job hopper

      Was the sleeping the only reason he was let go? Was he an otherwise decent employee?

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Maybe the lying? “Oh, sleeping? Oh, yes, that’s right, I have sleeping sickness! That’s the ticket!” And let’s not forget “Get an official diagnosis? Why should I do that?”

        1. Anon for this*

          circadian defects are common. The effect is often sneaky. You know you feel a bit “out of it” and drowsy. (Enough to pull over if you’re driving.) But you don’t always know you’ve passed the point of “sleepy” and actually dozed off for a minute or two (or five).

          It feels a lot like staying awake at 2 or 3 am. But it happens two or three times a day. “I wasn’t aware I was sleeping, but maybe I did doze off, it’s a circadian thing” is exactly what I’d say, and it would be the honest truth.

          My productivity didn’t suffer. People with circadian problems don’t sleep more (or think less, or work less) so far as I know.

          I didn’t make sense of it all until diagnosed with a genetic syndrome that includes circadian defect as one of many wide-ranging effects. I thought everyone felt that sleepy at points during the day, and just somehow hid it better.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I used to work with a desk-sleeper. At the time (early in my career) it baffled me — how do you just sleep at your desk for a half hour every day and no one says anything?! He’d disable screen savers, turn toward the corner, and put his head in his hand like he was thinking so it wasn’t obvious at first glance. He still got his work done — not to a high standard and never a inch beyond the bare minimum, but he turned in assignments on time.

      1. o_gal*

        That’s what our guy would do. He had his computer in the corner, he was facing it, leaning on his hand. We had cube furniture to split offices into 2 work spaces, and Terry got the half away from the door. So unless you really needed to see him in person you would just IM or email. But after awhile people clued in to his “working” position.

  20. Bookworm*

    I think it’s a little sad that a simple reminder of how to vote could get hackles up but here we are. :/

    1. Abigail*

      I think it’s more of a comment on age.

      This person was salty because somebody younger than them brought it up.

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      I would find it patronizing and mildly to moderately annoying to hear that at work. It’s important to wash your hands after using the bathroom too, but I don’t need to be reminded to do so. I probably wouldn’t comment on it though. Many things are mildly annoying.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        Of course, you go to the bathroom multiple times a day, and you vote in an election at a far less frequency.

        Some people need reminders. I know I did. Busy, busy, busy!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          We also got a reminder about the time change at work. It’s nice to get reminded about these infrequent events we all need to be aware of.

          (And FWIW, I think *more* people could do with reminders about hand washing.)

      2. Justme, The OG*

        Then you would hate my place wof work, where there are signs in the bathrooms reminding people to wash their hands.

      3. NancyDrew*

        Wow, you must throw a conniption every time you pee and see the legally mandated signs, huh? Sounds like a tough life.

  21. GythaOgden*

    Resting my eyes at work has a habit of turning into full sleep. I was told off for it once in my first job, after my first Christmas holiday when I went abroad for New Year with a friend and got back only the day before I started work again, and I learned two things — never come back to work straight after I get back from holiday, and never shut your eyes at work. My boss even asked me what time I’d gone to bed and, because I was totally exhausted from the journey that answer was 8pm — and he was even more perplexed, as was I.

    It’s one of those things that looks wrong, and while I get that /shouldn’t/ matter, if you’re really unwell there’s usually somewhere to go and actually lie down and snooze (my hubby was able to do that in his small office’s conference room, particularly when his boss knew about his cancer diagnosis and medication-induced fatigue…but also after he took a Nytol pill he’d mistaken for paracetamol…!), I think it just looks odd, distracts other people, and the time I got pulled up for it, it interfered with important training I was needing to do. This was also prior to my autism diagnosis, so the issue just increased the need to look further into my neurology than I had needed to do previously.

    I hope you find some solution, OP, because I do empathise and wish things were better all round. In the mean time, though, finding some good self-care things really helps.

  22. Ellis Bell*

    Op2 – This is precisely what the tea round was designed for! It’s especially effective for high-concentration screen jobs, where you would otherwise fall into a worm hole, look up and see hours have passed. Step away on occasion.

    1. ferrina*

      Tea is my go-to. The process of heating the water, steeping the tea, then adding sugar/milk/etc is a nice 5-7 minute break. Good for the body, and good for the mind.

  23. Jen*

    I honestly don’t think it’s appropriate at work either. Usually these “friendly reminders” carry a strong implication of who you should be voting for. Then you get the whole “if you support xyz party then it means you have poor judgment”. I would error on the side of mind your own business. Besides, unless you have been living under a rock then it’s pretty well known that today is voting day.

    1. Purple Cat*

      How does “Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday!” carry an implication of WHO to vote for?
      That’s reading WAY too much into things.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Agreed– “Don’t forget to vote” is pretty benign. My org, which admittedly wears it’s political affiliation on it’s sleeve and it is engrained within the company culture, sends out lists of the candidates who are most supportive of our industry.

        Also, I am civilly engaged and often work the polls, but I still forgot it was voting day until I saw a friend’s reminder on Facebook this morning. I go straight from work to class until after the polls are closed, so if I hadn’t seen that reminder and planned to fit in at lunch today I wouldn’t have had time to vote. People forget, and I appreciate a reminder.

    2. ferrina*

      Used correctly, the reminders also let folks know that they should ask for anything they need to be able to vote (i.e., if they need to take time off/flex their schedule/adjust deadlines). It tells them that managers, companies and coworkers want to help them participate in democracy.

      Used incorrectly…..yeah, I’ve seen it go that way too. It’s not pretty. It’s inappropriate to ask who you are voting/voted for, and for goodness sake, no lectures needed!

      Most places I’ve worked have done it correctly with neutral reminders. Occasionally a coworker will run away with a lecture, but thankfully a manager/senior coworker will shut that down (for the last 5 years, I’ve been senior enough to shut that nonsense down, and my coworkers know me well enough that when I pick a stance, you cannot budge me. My stance is- Let’s support each other so everyone can get to their polling place if applicable/desired, but you cannot ask what they did or if they did it, and if I hear a political lecture at work, I don’t care which side you’re on THERE WILL BE WORDS).

    3. JSPA*

      That’s a pretty uncharitable take.

      Active calendar vagueness is, from what I have seen and experienced, as real a thing as being dyslexic or dyscalculic, even if it doesn’t have it’s own name. And like the other disorders, it in no way means, “stupid” or “someone who should opt out of the political process.”

      Add in, “just completely snowed under” and “so tired of ads that my brain’s been turning off for the last month when anything election related comes up” and “been dragging since Covid,” and there are a lot of people who can still use a nudge (not just to intend to vote, but to make a space in their schedule for it to happen).

      If you’re not someone whose schedule is double booked, all the time, and also sleep deprived, I’m sure this all sounds unlikely. All I can say is…treasure and enjoy having a well-balanced life, as it’s not (at all) guaranteed.

      1. Annie*

        Yep, as someone with ADHD I can be bombarded with reminders of what day it is for weeks and still forget things on their actual day. A large portion of this comment section seems to have forgotten disabled people still have rights.

    4. Roland*

      > Usually these “friendly reminders” carry a strong implication of who you should be voting for

      No? If someone is saying “vote for X” then that’s totally different than “here is the website to check registration/ballot stations”. Just because some people make it about special candidates doesn’t mean there anything wrong with nonpartisan information. It’s very easy to make nonpartisan voting messages, like the one Alison added for example.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      The only way I can imagine being able to draw any sort of inference is if the organisation itself were very politically aligned. If my workplace is a union, say, I’d probably get the hint it’s Labour. Otherwise how on earth would you know?! Also as someone with ADHD I’m kind of staggered that people easily know when it’s voting day.

      1. ferrina*

        Depends where you are. I’m in a swing state, and we get SLAMMED with political ads. At a certain point you start counting down days until it’s over.

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          I’m in a very swingy state (Pennsylvania). I’m actually looking forward to the nonstop holiday ads as a break from the nonstop, vicious political ads.

    6. Observer*

      Usually these “friendly reminders” carry a strong implication of who you should be voting for.

      There is a whole lot of projection going on here. The OP described a perfectly neutral statement. And when the other person objected, the original commenter explicitly stated that she wasn’t commenting on WHO to vote for.

      How you get from there to judgements on who you choose to vote for is an interesting question. But it’s certainly not appropriate to expect people to keep from saying neutral things because people are going to jump to wild conclusions.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      But if there’s no “friendly reminder” of who to vote for, there’s nothing wrong with it. That’s a totally different thing.

      1. JustAnotherKate*

        Agree! As someone who’s been sending reminders to register and vote in my work and personal circles for years (I’m a volunteer registrar for my county), I find it easy to keep it nonpartisan. You can literally just send 1) upcoming registration deadlines and a reminder to pick up a form or otherwise take steps to register, and 2) a list of early voting days/election day hours and polling places. Of course, you have to WANT it to be nonpartisan…

        I can see the frustration like “yes, I get it, I’ve received 32 emails/texts about this already today.” But even if everyone else eye-rolls, there’s probably one person thinking “oh crap, I thought today was Monday/Wednesday/I thought this was next week/etc.”and hopefully will still be able to vote after getting the reminder.

    8. Curmudgeon in California*

      Umm, it made no mention of party, because that would be inappropriate. Also, voting day can sneak up on you, especially if you are busy or have been sick/in pain (pain makes me unsure of what day it is, so I have to literally check.)

  24. Sparkles McFadden*

    LW #1 – One way to remind people to vote at work is to reiterate any rules your company does or doesn’t have around voting accommodations.

    Before early voting became available, larger companies in cities would allow employees to come in late/leave early to vote, and I always reminded people of this. That way, when someone like Complaining Dude takes a stated fact as a personal attack, you get to say “Just reminding everyone of our company’s policy.” As a bonus then you get to say that voting HAS changed since Complaining Dude first started voting.

  25. Graeme*

    Apologies if this is ignorant Brit speaking, but doesn’t high voter turnout in the US almost always favours the Dems in a tight race? I specifically recall record turnouts being credited as the main driver behind Obama winning in 2008, plus countless other examples in Senate, Congress and state elections since then.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should be encouraged to vote ;). But saying it’s not political is basically taking advantage of plausible deniability, as getting more people to the polls will statistically be likely to bump the percentages in favour of blue and everyone kind of knows this?

    So with respect to LW1 and while I agree with the message both in terms of text and subtext, I don’t know that this is an entirely illegitimate thing for someone to take issue with in a workplace context.

    1. ferrina*

      Generally, yes. But that also depends a lot on where you are and who lives there- higher voter turn-out in a Republican stronghold can just mean that the Republican candidate wins by a more votes.

      There are some partisan political tacticians who try to boost/inhibit voter turn out to get a desired outcome. But the U.S. government’s stance is that those that are eligible and desirous to vote should get reasonable access to cast their ballot (what counts as “reasonable access” is hotly debated). Advertisements that encourage voter registration and reminders to vote are NOT considered political advertisements unless they mention a party or candidate (and many advertisements will go out of their way to say “We won’t tell you who to vote for”)

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      In national elections, there is a degree of that. The more local the race (e.g. State (governor, national senate/house) or local (mayor, city council, state senate/house)), the less of a factor that becomes–there are regions where each party does significantly out-populate its competition.

      Because you could be in a room/building/field/etc surrounded by people of any political leaning, the phrase is generally accepted as benign, even if it does offer one candidate a slight advantage over another. Generally

    3. The Person from the Resume*

      Telling people to get out and vote is not political and doesn’t favor a particular party. In America it’s accepted as a party neutral, patriotic message.

      Targetted “get out and vote” messaging is a bit different and may favor a party. But when you’re talking about people employeed in a white collar office that are having a virtual meeting, my guess is that the office may be more likely to skew republican.

    4. doreen*

      That depends – there are places and elections where high turnout favors the Democrats and there are other places and elections where high turnout favors Republicans. For example, there’s a race for governor in my state. Population-wise, the state leans Democratic and if there is high turnout state-wide , it will help the Democratic candidate for governor. But it will also help Republican candidates for other offices in much of the state, because the reason for the D-lean is cities. The suburban/rural areas tend to be more Republican , but contain less of the population.

    5. Cj*

      At my last time the majority of my coworkers were fans of our former president, so encouraging them to vote would have met increasing the Republic vote.

    6. Ragged and Rusty*

      Hilariously, that’s how my new boss figured out my political leanings: because I sent out (one time at the beginning of the cycle) the early voter schedule.
      Dems tend to vote early and by mail, while Repubs usually vote day of.
      With all of the ads we’ve been inundated with, very few actually had the schedules or that voting early was an option in my area.

    7. Bernice Clifton*

      It depends on a lot of things. Also, this a midterm year which tends to bring out a lot of voters from the president’s opposing party so there was a “blue wave” in 2018 and Republicans did well during the midterms when Obama was president.

    8. Student*

      Given the description, this is much more likely to be a good-faith effort to remind people to vote than a calculated action. Most US voters are not that well-tuned to how voting demographics work, unless they are actively part of a campaign effort or very high-information. So, no, not everyone “kind of knows” this.

      It would also be very context-dependent. You’re talking about turnout on a very, very wide basis. In smaller settings, like issuing a reminder at work, it would depend entirely on the demographics of the workplace. Some workplaces will favor democrats, others will favor republicans. Some will be very ambiguous, or unknown to the person issuing the reminder. At work, some states have laws or companies have policies that grant people paid leave to vote, so there’s also a need to make sure everyone is informed about their rights.

      Both parties do a lot of work to increase turnout among their voters by targeting get-out-the-vote efforts at places where they expect more people to vote for their candidate. One famous divide is among predominantly black vs predominantly white churches; the former favor democrats and the latter favor republicans. Some democratic groups actually got internally criticized in the last major election cycle for working to increase turnout among demographic groups that probably didn’t favor them.

      At my current job, raising turnout would likely favor republicans because my industry’s STEM demographics skew that direction. If this were an announcement in a school teacher’s lounge, then it’d likely skew more towards democrats. However, I’ve worked in places where I’d be hard-pressed to guess the overall impact on elections by raising my workplace’s voter participation.

    9. Roland*

      If someone is mad because they think people are messing with their undemocratic advantage then no I don’t think that’s a legitimate complaint actually. It makes it extra illegitimate if anything.

    10. Observer*

      but doesn’t high voter turnout in the US almost always favours the Dems in a tight race? I specifically recall record turnouts being credited as the main driver behind Obama winning in 2008, plus countless other examples in Senate, Congress and state elections since then.

      Yeah, it’s a convenient narrative, but it’s actually a LOT more complicated than that.

    11. Robin*

      Disclaimer, I did actually read your whole comment and I am not actually addressing this to *you* but rather folks who more seriously take the stance you described.

      This is one of the arguments that irritates me slightly in the sense that democracy depends on citizen engagement, of which voting is the most emblematic. “You just want more people to vote because it will help the Democrats” is such an…own goal? That basically amounts to admitting that if we actually had everyone voting who could vote, the country would likely be significantly more progressive than it currently is (at least generally, on the national scale, insert local caveats here etc.).

      Further, if encouraging people to vote is seen as a tactic of the Dems, then it basically robs anyone voting blue of the ability to care about democracy for democracy’s sake, painting the whole group as self-serving, manipulative jerks. Is it true that I would vote blue? Yes! Is it separately also true that I think everyone should vote because voting is critical to a functional democracy? Also yes! And it is further true that more people voting would probably help my party of (begrudging) preference? Yes, but that is not related to my desire for more people to vote. I would like to be able to maintain my civic interest in having more people engaged with the governance of their society without it being construed as some kind of “wink wink nudge nudge” power grab.

    12. Avery*

      I’m mostly echoing what others already said, but I wanted to chime in because I actually used to work for an organization where “get out and vote” was one of the key messages.
      The organization I worked for was explicitly nonpartisan in nature, even though voter turnout does tend to have a partisan bias. We’d reach out to organizations of all affiliations for partnerships and not discriminate based on political leanings.
      In practice, most of our volunteers and staff did tend to be Democratic-leaning, and there were a few brief quips of “we need more Democrat voters… I mean, more voters in general!” in our brainstorming sessions. And if somebody had dropped our name in a workplace meeting, it likely would’ve been seen as a partisan move, and perhaps rightly so.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah, because you may have been OFFICIALLY non-partisan, but not in actuality.

        More than ONE “quip” about needing more Democratic voters (or of any affiliation) does not happen in a truly non-partisan organization.

    13. Onyx*

      By that logic, *not* encouraging people to vote would be partisan because low turnout favors the Republicans. If you can’t remind them *or* not remind them without choosing a side, then what?

      The election is supposed to be a representation of the will of the people, and the closer you get to 100% participation, the closer your sample gets to being a complete representation of eligible voters. Unless someone deliberately seeks out only the people they think have certain political views for the reminder, I don’t think it’s reasonable to claim that simply reminding the people they’re in contact with of the election is partisan.

    14. Ellis Bell*

      But if we take the argument that “more votes will favour Democrats” to it’s logical conclusion then… ok? I’m pretty sure that’s how voting works. I don’t think any occasional voters at work would be traumatised by the idea they’ll be represented as they wish if they remember to vote. Also if coworker A was trying to create a Democrat bias, then coworker B was equally trying to create a Republican bias by objecting to the reminders. Even if we buy the premise that voter turnout is beneficial to one party, it’s far far darker to *limit* voter turnout to benefit a party!

    15. Critical Rolls*

      This is a specious argument. Neutrally encouraging all eligible persons to vote is not partisan. It’s not “plausible deniability,” it’s boosting civic engagement and the health of U.S. democracy (little-d democracy). The point is for the voice of the people to be heard — all the people, not just the “correct” people. Higher turnout will favor different parties in different places. Finding a way to twist a simple reminder to vote into something underhanded and partisan plays right in to some very ugly currents in American politics right now. The devil has plenty of advocates.

  26. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: I understand that coworker’s reaction, even though I agree it was out of line. It is really, really, really annoying for people to constantly be like “don’t forget to vote!!11!!” as if we all have not been inundated for months with advertisements and text messages and personal reminders. We all know when the election is and simply cannot wait for people to finally be quiet about it.

    1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Yeah, I kind of get this too. Reminders to vote in my workplace frequently read to me as virtue signaling. I work in higher ed and the chance you could have missed voting messaging in my area is nil. Co-worker’s reaction is out of line, but someone on every Zoom call I’ve been on for the last two weeks has felt compelled to ‘remind’ everyone on the call to vote, which prompts everyone on the call to agree and share where/when they voted (because we all already have) complete with analysis of the experience (crowded/empty/parking etc.) and I am starting to internally roll my eyes at this point. I mean, I’m stoked that people are voting, but you’re preaching to the choir here.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I’m surprised how often I run into people who don’t realize (or remember) that an election is happening (note, I’m Canadian). Not that it’s super often, but that anyone doesn’t know tends to catch me off guard.

      I imagine that it’s probably even worse when you have your mid-term elections.

    3. The Person from the Resume*

      For me where I am with the big races not being contested at all because of gerrymandering (ugh, gerrymandering is bad) the ads have been a lot less annoying than they are for years with presidential elections. I mean I still it’s election day, but less informed people – people who don’t what TV with commercials, who don’t watch the news – could maybe be unaware. IDK.

  27. KRM*

    OP #4, I have had this experience with a placement company. When my job had major layoffs, they covered the cost for everyone to have I think 5 sessions with the outplacement people. I went in and resolved to never go back. First, I brought an iPad so I could make any changes real time (she had been emailed a copy of my resume by me before) and the woman I was working with was upset I didn’t have a paper copy. The resume was written to AAM standards, and she was *surprised* it was so good and didn’t need changes. She then told me I needed to add an objective at the top, which I did not want to do (it felt like she wanted me to change SOMETHING on her recommendation). She then proceeded to make disparaging remarks about my iPad when I had trouble typing their (complicated) password into the WiFi so I could go to their website. Then she told me before coming back the next week I should make changes to my LinkedIn and also watch their 45′ introduction video on how their website worked. I thought (but sadly did not say) “I’d rather never have a job again than do that”. I did not return.
    To be 100% fair, it did seem that the place was more for those who were either changing industries and needed help with targeting resumes, etc, or those who were less technologically savvy and needed help navigating a digital landscape. The lovely receptionist was helping someone at the desk sign up for networking events as I left. But really the company should have done some more research before putting us all in that system, as it was not targeted to us at all!
    All that to say, please feel free to not use these people at all. Even if they don’t get paid by Old Company if you stop coming, it’s a waste of your time to sit there as they tell you things you already know, or would never do. It’s not for you, and that’s OK!!

  28. The Person from the Resume*

    LW#2, you look like you’re sleeping when when you close your eyes like that at your desk. You’re not going to win that one. It is extremely normal to not want employees to sleep or appear to be sleeping on the job.

    The advice for eye strain to often to look at something else in the distance (when you’ve been staring at a close computer monitor. So I’d recommend that you focus on something more distant for a bit. Or get up and walk around which also gets you looking at objects at another distance.

    Your boss is weird for emailing you about it instead of talking to you in the moment. But don’t argue you were only resting your eyes for a minute and not sleeping. That’s the kind of thing people who were actually sleeping say while denying they were sleeping.

    1. Bossy Magoo*

      LOL, yes if I’m watching TV with my husband and am “resting my eyes” I don’t like to be accused of sleeping.

  29. Troublemaker*

    On #3, it is unacceptable to perform “wellness checks” on truant or absent employees. This has a relatively large likelihood of injuring, incarcerating, institutionalizing, or killing the employee, and is generally rude. The right to be left alone includes the right to not have employers investigating employees.

    On the flip side, maybe I should do a “wellness check” on my CEO the next time he doesn’t show up to a meeting!

    1. Joielle*

      I think Alison was talking about calling the person’s emergency contact, not calling the police. If someone lives alone and has a medical emergency or dies at home, their workplace may very well be the first to notice something is wrong. I think it’s compassionate to care about an employee’s well-being – not demanding that they show up or explain themselves, but just alerting someone who might check if they’re alive or if something is wrong.

      1. Veryanon*

        Agreed – I’ve had situations where a normally reliable employee suddenly went MIA at work, and it ended up that there was a medical emergency. If there was no emergency contact on file, I might contact the local police, but only as a last resort and only if we had not heard from the employee in several days. At a past job, we had a situation where an employee didn’t show up for work. A coworker took it upon themselves to visit the employee’s home, and discovered that the employee had died by suicide. I’d much rather that a trained first responder would have discovered that.

    2. Seashell*

      If there’s a large likelihood, there must be a lot of news stories about welfare checks of missing people leading to death.

      Normal people communicate that they’re quitting, and then no investigation needed.

      1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        There ARE a lot of news stories about welfare checks leading to shootings by police. I posted a few links above.

  30. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Nod. And it’s been for YEARS. You could fall off your bike and someone would be like VOTE. And nobody even said they weren’t voting!

  31. Dinwar*

    LW#2: First, resting your eyes falls under “ergonomics” and is something OSHA is VERY much in favor of. Carpal tunnel, eye strain, and the like are occupational injuries just as much as a broken leg from a fall off a ladder (but since they’re harder to prove they’re not as enforced). Your manager is in the wrong.

    Second: If you wear glasses have you tried lenses built for screens? They filter out blue light, which is a contributing cause for eye strain and sleep issues. They’re relatively cheap–$12 to $20 on Amazon–and at the very least having a pair of these emphasizes that this is an eye strain issue (since there’s no other reason to have them).

    1. Queen Ruby*

      I 2nd the blue light glasses recommendation! I was skeptical until I returned to an office with fluorescent lighting and the headaches from eye strain were seriously affecting my ability to do my job. Those glasses made a HUGE difference. I also brought in a regular lamp to use (I have my own office), but that might not help in a cube farm where you can’t turn off the fluorescent lights.

    2. Madeleine Matilda*

      I agree completely with getting blue light glasses. Since getting them, my eyes are no longer exhausted after a day staring at my screen.

  32. Minerva*

    Re: LW1 – It is absolutely wild to me that a certain US political party has decided that “go vote” is a partisan statement.

    And I will leave it at that.

    PS: Go vote.

    1. Auntie Matter*

      Agreed. If encouraging people to vote is partisan, that… really says something, doesn’t it?

    2. Momma Bear*

      I know that some of my coworkers and I do not support the same candidates. They saw my vote sticker. We simply discussed that the polls are open until 8PM, and they were going to vote after work. I think that’s perfectly acceptable.

  33. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    LW #2: I deal with eye sensitivity at work as well. I use Theraspecs blue light blocking glasses (for daytime) which helps me a lot! They even make Theraspecs that go over regular glasses.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        I just googled “Theraspecs blue light blocking glasses” and there they are. About $100 in the US. It might be worth the investment for me.

    1. TheraputicSarcasm*

      These, or a blue-light blocking screen protector. I got one for $20-$30 that hooks over the top of my monitor instead of directly applied to the screen. It’s been a year and a half and my eyes still haven’t stopped thanking me.

  34. too many dogs*

    LW #2. All of the advice about looking at something else (20 – 20 – 20) is very good. If you simply MUST close your eyes for relief, try some neck exercises at the same time. I have to close my eyes and slowly roll my head around, shrug my shoulders, tilt head back and forth, etc. It releases the tension from typing for a long time, and it’s obvious to anyone looking what you’re doing, and that you are, indeed, awake. Good luck!

  35. Somehow_I_Manage*


    I feel like Alison skipped over this bit “I am actually am not very interested in doing the job (due to other circumstances).”

    OP- you don’t have to wait either to tell them “no.” You’d be doing them a favor by taking your hat out of the ring. It’s okay to interview to see whether it’s a fit, but you’re under no obligation to move forward.

  36. Anomie*

    I’ve learned the hard way NEVER to use USPS for anything important. Even with tracking. UPS actually cares about getting parcels delivered properly.

  37. Chocoholic*

    OP#2, an eye doctor gave me advice to do something called 20/20/20 to ease eye strain, and it might be a little less “obvious” than closing your eyes. She told me that every 20 minutes, to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It really has helped me!

  38. Queen Ruby*

    Re: voting
    I have a client based in the UK. At the end of our last call, one of them wished us in the US “Happy midterms!” No one replied until I started laughing, and he was like, ok maybe it’s not so happy! Then we lamented UK also going through it lately. If I had to guess, everyone on the call has similar political opinions, but even if I’m wrong, it just turned out to be a good laugh. These things don’t always have to be so serious! Especially when no one is pushing a certain candidate or party. LW’s outraged colleague is just a jerk.

  39. Ah Yes*

    Sincerely hope all the folks arguing about whether they need to be reminded that it’s election day actually go out and, you know, vote instead of just getting weirdly defensive and argumentative with strangers online about whether they need a reminder.

  40. Bossy Magoo*

    #2 is reason number 8 million and 8 million-and-1 as to why I cherish my WFH job. My last in-office job was all beige instead of grey, but otherwise pretty much the same. When they started talking about bringing us back to the office in 2021 the thought of spending 8+ hours engulfed in beige was too depressing to consider.

    1. SofiaDeo*

      It’s worse now, with everything painted grey. Beige is boring but wait until you are surrounded by grey to realize what “the color of my environment affects my emotions” does to help induce/perpetuate depression.

  41. thelettermegan*

    I think people should be able to close their eyes for a few minutes, or stare off into space, without being accused of sleeping on the job. Some jobs require a lot of deep thinking, which is sometimes enhanced by closing one’s eyes. If that leads to accusations of sleeping on the job, I’d consider it a red flag on the manager.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      Right? I’d honestly be a little skeeved that my manager was watching my face that intently.

  42. glitter writer*

    Ugh, outplacement firms. I work in media (content — writing, editing, video) and the last time I got laid off they used an outplacement firm that clearly knew how to work with sales and finance and literally nothing else. The total 90 minutes I spent on the phone with them was the single biggest waste of time I encountered in that entire messy, ugly layoff process.

    (Happily, I *do* know my industry and also had a stroke of good luck and started a new job, at a higher pay rate, 12 weeks later.)

  43. Mekong River*

    “out of touch with how things are done these days (try emailing recruiters and ask if they have jobs)”

    Not sure why this is out of touch. Recruiters are still very much active these days and are a valid route to finding job openings.

  44. Veryanon*

    LW2 sounds as though they work in the Severance office. But in all seriousness, I would suggest maybe keeping some pictures that you enjoy posted in your desk and change them up from time to time, or get up and take a walk just to get your blood flowing again.

  45. Gamar*

    #1: I think the coworker’s previous behavior is relevant here. If the person reminding everyone to vote is also constantly signaling their beliefs to coworkers (subtlety is not the Great American Virtue right now), then this could read inappropriate. It’s hard for me to take “go vote” as a neutral statement at work if you’re regularly slipping cable news spin into conversations so everyone is aWaRE of your feelings. I think the other person still overreacted.

  46. Salsa Verde*

    LW#2, I feel for you. I was written up for closing my eyes at work.

    I did explain that I had been up very late the night before because an install took a long time, so I was up late WORKING and staring at my computer screen, and now at work the next morning I closed my eyes while listening at a meeting. I was sitting up straight, I was probably twitching my pen (because I always do in meetings), it was obvious that I was not sleeping.

    She had definitely decided she didn’t like me, and her answer to me being up all night was that she spent the night in the hospital with her son and she was here and attentive! I was like, yes, but you are the majority owner of this company – of course you are going to push through! Also, maybe you shouldn’t be here if you spent the night in the hospital with your son?

    Anyway, I’m sorry this happened, I’m sorry your boss is monitoring you so closely, and everyone’s recommendations for how to look like you are not sleeping while closing your eyes are good. But truly, my eyes sometimes feel like they are burning from looking at my screen for so long, and it would be nice if I could just close them to get some relief without worrying that my boss will think I’m slacking.

  47. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    OP1 Another way to relieve eye strain from screen time is to try the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes, for at least 20 seconds, and at something about 20 feet away from you. I like the suggestion of turning your chair so they can’t see your closed eyes. You might also try closing your eyes for just a bit while doing some at your desk stretches. Kill 2 birds with one stone on things that make sitting still all day hard on the body.

  48. SofiaDeo*

    #2, I had this problem. I got a small, full spectrum light to place on my desk. If you don’t like the look of these, get a small “normal” lamp and purchase a full spectrum light bulb. Plus, a screen for the monitor (even if using a laptop). I can’t say for sure it helps everyone, but it helped me. There are also inexpensive lightweight eyeglasses designed with filters to supposedly help with this problem; I’ve never used them so I can’t say if they work well or not.

    Another thing….maybe stand up/cross arms with back to the door, when you need to rest your eyes. If anyones asks, you are “thinking.” Or roll your shoulders/stretch arms when you also need to close your eyes. The idea is to “look like you are doing something” instead of just falling asleep. Make it obvious you are taking a minute to do exercise we *should* be doing when working in front of a computer all day, anyway. Or thinking about something.

  49. Librarian*

    “Employers shouldn’t be ghosting anyone who interviews…” Yeah, tell that to the university that interviewed me in September and who I never heard a word from again.

  50. librarianmom*

    LW2 — Fiddle with a pencil or pen held in front of you when you close your eyes. The hand motion shows you are not asleep.

  51. StellaBella*

    I just posted to my LinkedIn a reminder to my American colleagues globally that they have a civi duty to vote. i have like 1,000 followers and 1,200 connections or something and most are not American but it is something I feel more strongly about than all the job adverts and work products I share.

  52. Pinto*

    I think it is important to realize that many may have reasons why they do not vote and having it pushed at work may make them uncomfortable. Perhaps they are not a citizen, perhaps they are a felon, perhaps they practice a religion which does not participate in the political process. Unless it is the way of communicating rights for time off to vote issued as a company statement. Politics and pushing if voting should not happen at work,

    1. Observer*

      Except that no one was pushing. If the one person had not flipped out, it would have just been a thing a person said, and on with the meeting.

  53. Yes, please vote*

    I’m glad I read the response to question 1 today and kind of previewed how this might go, since a few hours after, a coworker did encourage everyone to vote and mentioned that he had already done so himself. There wasn’t much engagement with his communication, fortunately.

  54. LittleMarshmallow*

    I hate political conversations at work but am 100% ok with being reminded to vote. Everyone at my location made efforts to cover each other to make sure everyone realistically had a chance to vote too! Some went early so they could stay late so the other half could go late. I work in a schedule driven, hands on, nothings the same day to day environment so we have to sort of go the extra mile to make sure people can go which means voting was a topic for us all day today. Who still needs to leave to vote? Did you vote already or do you still need to go? What time do you need to leave so you can go vote? No one was offended. Your coworker that was is definitely being weird about it.

  55. Princesa*

    OP1: (maybe?) unpopular oninion: I always vote and it irritates me to be reminded to vote approximately 18,000 times when election season comes around. I voted, so can people leave me alone about it?

  56. Ollie*

    Back when my husband and I ran a business we were told not to send anything certified mail unless legally required. Send it FedEx with signature required instead. For some reason certified mail just says “bad news” and FedEx says “good news”. It worked.

  57. Critical Rolls*

    Some of y’all are taking broad messages way too personally. A group reminder that is a neutral “Don’t forget to vote, here’s the local how-to” is not aimed exclusively at you, so acting like it’s obnoxious that the person didn’t consider your exact circumstances is emotional energy you don’t need to expend. Just keep rolling/scrolling, folks.

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