teen daughter wants to quit her new job, can we tell our unhappy coworker to leave, and more

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

1. Teen daughter wants to quit her new job because of bad history with a coworker

My teen daughter, Artemis, is about to start her first job at a new location of a national chain. She’s been training at another location while waiting for hers to open, and so far, she loves the job, her manager (Demeter), and her coworkers. Today, she found out that a very toxic former friend, Apollo, with whom she has some really bad and somewhat traumatic history, has also gotten a job there. She’s miserable about it, to the point that she’s considering quitting before the store even opens. I understand – the history is far worse than the typical falling out, and she has very good reasons to be concerned about bending the boundaries she has established around this person. I would love to help her understand that working with difficult people is sometimes necessary and give her some ideas and skills on how to cope with the situation. (Please rest assured that I have no impulse or desire to be That Parent and try to intervene on her behalf; my goal is to help her successfully advocate for herself.)

Clearly, the best outcome would be for them not to be scheduled at the same time, but there’s really no way of knowing or controlling that. I also strongly suspect that if Artemis were to say, “Hey, Demeter, it’d be best if my schedule doesn’t overlap with Apollo’s,” she’s going to be the one to get the less desirable shifts. This is further complicated by the fact that Apollo is very charismatic and good at winning people over, which adds additional concerns about their ability to come out ahead in the eyes of their coworkers if the conflict ever becomes apparent. It also causes me more than a little concern that it may give Apollo the opportunity to talk their way back into Artemis’ life, which would be bad for her in a number of ways.

Do you have any advice for how to navigate this, either (a) as the self-advocating teen and (b) as her supportive parent?

Support her in quitting if that’s what she wants to do! Yes, it’s important to know that you can’t control your coworkers and sometimes you’ll have to work with difficult people … but this is a high school job where the stakes aren’t that high if she’d just prefer not to, and high school social dynamics can be really messy in a way that probably/hopefully won’t be replicated in her adult career, and expecting her to work with someone she has an upsetting history is like 301-level difficulty when she’s presumably still at 101 levels in figuring out work (and if the history is full-on traumatic, that’s even worse). And frankly, most adults wouldn’t want to stick around in this situation either; they’re just more likely to be trapped in it because they have bills to pay.

It makes sense to talk through an array of options with her … but if she still wants to quit at the end of that, she’s got my support.

Read an update to this letter

2. Can we encourage our unhappy coworker to leave?

I work in a small department of 15 employees. Our boss has left a year ago for another position in the same company. Two of us applied for his position, and both were rejected.

One of the rejected is very angry about it. I understand it was a big disappointment. However, it’s been almost a year, and she is getting angrier by the day. She will rant, snap at people over small things, shout in meetings and slam doors. Any meeting that doesn’t please her is treated to an avalanche of “I don’t give a shit, do what you want, I stopped caring.”

Honestly, it is exhausting to work with her. And it’s not like she can’t leave — she has a highly sought skillset, and many regional companies are hiring for that position. I’m tempted to tell her “if you hate it here, FFS leave already.” She’d most likely get a raise and the desired promotion in a new job. But nobody dares to tell her that she needs to either leave or stop talking about leaving.

We don’t hate her. We’d be happy to see her grow into new tasks, but it’s not happening here and that makes everyone miserable. Is there any way we could gently tell her “we think you would be happier in a new job”?

Honestly, “if you hate it here, FFS leave already” would be warranted at this point. Is there a reason no one is willing to say that or a softer version? Or at least, “It’s exhausting hearing this all the time. Please stop complaining and snapping at people”?

Also, this isn’t just about endless complaining (although that’s exhausting enough). Snapping at people, shouting in meetings, and slamming doors is a whole different thing, it’s completely unacceptable, and none of you should be tolerating it. All of you have standing to say “you need to lower your voice,” “you cannot talk to people that way,” “stop snapping at me,” etc. And you all have standing to ask her manager to intervene too, because that’s a horrible, hostile environment to work in. (Not “hostile environment” in the legal sense, just in the sense of “this is an angry and volatile person who has been spewing hostility into your space for a year and needs to be told to stop.”) A lot of people like this stop if someone calls them on it clearly and bluntly. (And the fact that no one has is probably warping her own sense of how she can behave.)

3. Whose responsibility is it to convert time zones when setting up a meeting?

Whose ultimate responsibility is it to convert proposed interview times to different time zones, the applicant’s or the hiring manager’s?

I’m on a tiny team based on one coast, but our team is largely remote and we’re hiring for another remote employee. I’m assisting my supervisor with interviews, and when I emailed a candidate about interview times, I sent times in my time zone without checking his location, which is on the other coast of the U.S. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t think of this ahead of time, but I also know that my personal expectations to catch all details before they become a problem are unrealistic. While I would have liked to catch this before it caused a problem today, I think the final responsibility to notice the time difference rests on the applicant who chose to apply to a company on the other side of the country. Am I right or did I have the responsibility to check each applicant’s location and convert the times before emailing them to schedule an interview?

Your responsibility isn’t to convert the times; it’s just to note what time zone you’re using when you list the time. For example, I’m on the east coast and if I’m setting up a meeting for 2:00 with someone, I’m going to to write “2 pm ET.” Indicate the time zone you’re using, and they can convert that however they need.

All that said, ideally someone applying for a job across the country would think about time zones on their end and ask to clarify if one isn’t specified.

4. Can you be fired for dressing inappropriately?

Is it possible to get fired for inappropriate dress in the office? It could be sexy, too young-ish (stupidly so, like a sixth grader), too informal, etc.

I’m thinking of Caitlin Bernier who was supposedly fired from an Alberta Honda car dealership for wearing an inappropriate white top that showed her bra underneath it. She was only there for two weeks and was on probation. Even without probation, can you be fired for dressing like that?

In general, yes, you can be fired for dressing inappropriately at work.

It’s also legal to have different dress codes for men and women, as long as neither is more of a burden on one sex than the other. In practice, though, they’re almost always more burdensome on women even though they’re not supposed to be, and it’s only really extreme differences in burden that end up getting prohibited. And of course, this completely ignores the existence of non-binary people.

That said, in the case you’re referencing, there’s some dispute over what she was actually fired for. I don’t know enough about the case to comment on that (and am skeptical that anyone outside the people involved does).

5. The job I interviewed for a month ago has been reposted

I had a second-round interview for a job I wanted with the VP but got ghosted afterwards. That was over a month ago but I just saw the same job posted on their LinkedIn page. Should I reach out to the VP again reiterating my interest in the role or will that seem desperate and I should just move on?

Move on. It’s not that it will look desperate, but they already know you’re interested because you interviewed for the job. Contacting them now isn’t going to make them remember you exist; they already know, but for whatever reason they’ve chosen not to move you forward.

If you haven’t done any follow-up since your interview a month ago, you could send one email now just asking for an update on their timeline for next steps (because you might get some useful info by doing that). But if you’ve already checked back in since that interview (and I’m guessing you have since you mentioned they’ve ghosted you), then you’ve got to just assume you didn’t get the job and move on.

{ 441 comments… read them below }

  1. AcademiaNut*

    For the first letter writer – quite a few grown adults with jobs that pay the bills would be frantically job searching after discovering that their new job involved working with someone who had treated them very badly in the past, and was charming and good at manipulating people. The main difference with being a teenager is that your daughter can get a new retail job fairly easily and will never have to mention the current job again, and can handle a gap in employment without dire financial/career consequences.

    Also, I think you’re right in worrying that asking to be scheduled on different shifts will be regarded as inconsequential teen drama, and result in your daughter having to bear the consequences. I would be different if she were a highly reliable, drama free employee who had been working there long enough to have a good reputation, but right now the managers have no way to know whose fault the conflict is.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing. If it were just a falling out and there was the potential for the prior friendship to be restored, it would be one thing to wait and see what happens and hope for the best. But this situation sounds a lot more serious. I’m inferring that it rose to the level of emotionally abusive, and that Apollo is one of those charming narcissists who nobody sees through for awhile.

      It might be worth it for Artemis to tell her manager that she will be quitting rather than work with the individual. Most managers will think twice about bringing someone on board who their current employees would rather quit than work with. But with Artemis being so new, and quite young, the manager isn’t likely to know whether Artemis is being reasonable or overly dramatic.

    2. JustSomeone*

      Can she just stay at the current location where she is training? It sounds like she has a positive thing going there.

      Otherwise, I’m definitely team “let her quit.” It sounds like there are some very legitimate reasons for her not to be around that other person. This can’t be the only possible place she could work.

      1. Nea*

        That’s what I was thinking too. There’s a middle ground between having to work with someone who is Not Good For You and letting him dictate what jobs she has.

        But if it does turn out to a choice of “work with someone who makes her feel unsafe” and “don’t work there” – the answer is “don’t work there” every time.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Chiming in to agree. If the daughter is doing well in training, it seems like there is little harm in asking to stick with the current location.

          And yeah, there are a couple people in my past that I would really struggle to work with and would probably change jobs to avoid, and I’m nearly 40.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yes, and there might be another employee at this location who would be fine to move to the new one. Give it a chance to be easy! That’s a useful work lesson, that sometimes you can speak up about wanting/needing X and those in power will say “Okay.”

            But if she tries and it can’t be easy, I’d support her if she wanted to quit. She can find another retail job.

      2. Annony*

        I agree that it is worth asking. Most retail locations I know are desperate for workers. They may be more than happy to keep her there considering they already trained her.

        1. Ellie*

          Agreed, I would always take the person I knew (and liked) over someone who hadn’t started yet. I’d also appreciate the heads-up, in case the other person does get hired and there’s drama with other people as a result. If there’s any serious accusations, it would be worth mentioning those as well, if she’s willing to.

    3. Mockingbird*

      Yup, all of this. The chances of them being scheduled to not work together are low as they’ll have the same after school and weekends availability. Someone like Apollo will enjoy having a whole new place to make toxic for her, and the stress of that plus trying to balance a job and school for the first time will be huge. Service industry jobs, especially in holiday season, are brutal enough, she doesn’t need to add dealing with a bully to her first experience of it. She can apologize to her manager and explain she’s got more class work than she’d expected when she took the job and school is her first priority. Any manager who’s worked with teens for more than ten minutes will know at least one will quit for that reason and be prepared. If she wants to look for another job she could, or remind her that you have better control of your schedule and don’t pay taxes if you babysit.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I wondered if Apillo found out she was going to be working there and “followed” her?

        If it isn’t that sort of situation and she quits – what will she do in the future if Apollo appears at a different retail job they end up working at?

        I am all for having the option to quit but not sure how good a life lesson is ‘quit a situation that will be difficult without even giving it a chance’. Make sure it doesn’t become a pattern.

        1. High Score!*

          With social media, it is easy for bullies to do this. I suggest she leave the job and stay off social media or at least limit access to her very close friends.
          Apollo is unlikely to stalk her indefinitely. Keep records and if it happens more than twice, try to get a restraining order.

        2. Colette*

          So what is your advice? How can she stop him from following her? How can she make sure it doesn’t become a pattern?

          Obviously, she can’t do either – all she can do is make the best decision for herself, which seems to be quitting (or changing to a different location).

        3. Lenora Rose*

          “Don’t stay around toxic people while you have the option to get away” seems a pretty solid life lesson. More if it’s followed with “and your parents will have your back and not pressure you into staying somewhere with a poisonous influence”.

          This isn’t “This work is harder than I assumed”. It isn’t even “I have to behave to strangers who are nasty to me because it’s the nature of the job.” THOSE could be seen as quitting a situation that will be difficult without even giving it a chance. This has nothing to do with the work itself, and she already gave this person a chance, and he hurt her.

        4. Observer*

          not sure how good a life lesson is ‘quit a situation that will be difficult without even giving it a chance’. Make sure it doesn’t become a pattern.

          From what the OP describes this is not a situation where it makes sense to “give it a try”. On the one hand, this is not a job situation that is THAT wonderful, quitting at this point is a fairly low stakes decision, and the situation that Artemis would be in would be more than “difficult”. That combination means that “giving it a try” is a waste of energy.

          If you are worried about patterns, the pattern I would worry about it teaching a kid that they “must” stick to a job, no matter whether that’s a good idea. And that their safety, comfort and sense of their needs are not relevant to their decision making.

          Also, I think it’s highly unlikely that Apollo followed her to the job. But if they DID follow her, it would mean that Artemis is 1M% correct that they should not – CANNOT – try to “make it work”. Because you can’t “make it work” with a stalker.

          Why on earth would you suggest that Apollo is a stalker and therefore Artemis just needs to roll over and allow them access to her in the workplace?

          1. Le Sigh*

            +1 to this. As some others have pointed out, it’s a good life lesson to learn to distinguish when to give it a try and when to just walk away. Too often we teach kids to put up with something because we decided quitting is inherently bad. But that often results in teens, and later adults, who put up with abusive working conditions or sexual harassment, and aren’t good at advocating for themselves. (And then when terrible stories come out, we say, “but why didn’t you tell anyone? why didn’t you just leave/quit?”, etc. Anyway.)

            But there are degrees here — yes, it’s good to learn a work ethic and you don’t want your kid just quitting things bc someone gave them tough feedback or they don’t like a coworker. But just like we need to get out of the mindset of kids going to school sick to get perfect attendance, we need to teach kids to recognize that sometimes a situation *is* that bad and it’s fine, even right, to walk away. I once quit a professional job that was wrecking my mental health — I toughed it out for years bc I didn’t want to be viewed as giving up. But you know what? It wasn’t that hard to bounce back professionally, and I’m a million times happier having left it all behind.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Yes, all of this.
              And I’d add that quitting/giving up can be the thing that gives you the time/energy to take on something better. Which makes it all the more important to be able to evaluate when your best course of action is to stick with it and when it’s better to move on.

              1. Le Sigh*

                “And I’d add that quitting/giving up can be the thing that gives you the time/energy to take on something better.” Yes! I spent a year fruitlessly trying to find a way out before I just quit. It was a risky bet, to an extent, but once the fog lifted, I was able to figure things out, move, get a new job, all of it. It doesn’t always end that way, but when you’re barely able to get out of bed or so anxious you struggle to apply to jobs, it’s so, so much harder.

            2. Starbuck*

              ” Too often we teach kids to put up with something because we decided quitting is inherently bad.”

              Yes to this in the workplace – and I think there’s an added layer of expecting women/girls to be the ones to smooth over and put up with atrocious behavior from men for the sake of “keeping peace.” It would be a really sad and harmful lesson to teach daughter here.

          2. Erin*

            I have no idea how Apollo got turned into a stalker due to a conflict in the past. Also, there will always be Apollos in life. Artemis learning how to navigate these kinds of situations, instead of letting Apollo control her, is a great life skill for her to learn.

            1. super anon*

              It’s also a way to end up injured or dead. May you experience personal enlightenment on this matter, until you get it.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*


                A conflict that makes Artemis uncomfortable with Apollo around is more than just a bad break up, IMO, especially if she “has some really bad and somewhat traumatic history” with him.

                This is red flag territory for any woman. What I am reading between the lines is that Apollo was abusive toward Artemis in the past. Whether it was emotional, physical or sexual is immaterial. She obviously does not feel safe around him. Ergo, they can’t work in the same place at the same time for her to feel safe.

                One way this has been put: Men are afraid that women won’t like them; Women are afraid that men will kill them.

                The best thing that the LW can do is validate her feelings about it and encourage her to prioritize her safety. She needs to prioritize her physical, emotional and mental health over a starter job.

                1. Aitch Arr*

                  Slight correction, it’s laugh at them. Men are afraid women will laugh at them.

                  Original quote is by Margaret Atwood.

            2. Insert Clever Name Here*

              And sometimes learning how to navigate the situation where the charismatic, manipulative person with whom you had a traumatic experience and whose presence is harmful to you is…to leave the situation. Recognizing that this is a situation where you need to avoid the sunk cost fallacy and remove yourself from the situation is also a great life skill for her to learn, and one her parents should encourage and support her in.

            3. Snell*

              Apollo got “turned into a stalker” by Captain’s suggestion up-thread that Apollo might have found out where Artemis worked and followed her there. It’s speculation by a specific commenter, which other commenters are responding to.

            4. Nina*

              With teen girls who are socialized to be nice and agreeable (that’s all of them) it usually ime takes something really quite drastic to get them to the point of quitting a job to avoid a person. LW said Artemis has traumatic history with Apollo. That’s not a minor conflict.

            5. Ellie*

              I disagree, truly toxic people aren’t that common at all. We have no idea how bad Apollo is based on this letter, but the fact that he’s charismatic and toxic is a bad combination, and given the natural advantages he’ll get being a man going up against a woman, I wouldn’t knowingly walk into that. Also, applying for a job at the same place as someone you’ve hurt in the past is a bit of a yellow flag on its own. OP’s daughter is already being trained, so if they’re connected on social media, or through friends, that’s likely not a coincidence.

        5. Butterfly Counter*

          Hmm. While I obviously don’t know the people involved, it sounds like there is a new national store opening up (maybe close to where Apollo and Artemis live) which would potentially be attractive to a lot of teen workers. I know that was the sort of thing I looked for when I was job searching for the first (and second and third) time.

          I think Artemis should follow her gut when it comes to working there. It sounds like the negatives far outweigh the positives to me.

        6. super anon*

          Quitting a difficult situation -/= removing oneself from the reach of a stalker/abusive person. Even if the person follows.
          May you experience personal enlightenment on the matter.

      2. quag*

        Yeah, when I was in high school, a coworker sexually harassed me, and I didn’t quit because they promised me when I complained that they would never schedule us together again.

        That lasted literally 2 weeks, and then if we were scheduled together and I didn’t want to work with him, it was my responsibility to switch shifts with other people, since I “was the only one who had a problem with him.”

        Quit. There’s 0% chance this job is worth the stress Apollo would bring.

    4. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Agreed. There are multiple posts Alison has answered in the past where adults in careers are asking the same question. It’s difficult enough to go through a 50 minute class with someone like that, imagine working a 5 hour shift with them. If she doesn’t need the job to pay rent or put food on the table, there’s no reason for her to remain in a “traumatic” workplace.

    5. bamcheeks*

      LW says this is a “teenage daughter in her first job@, but doesn’t actually say they’re still in high school or that the money from it isn’t necessary to the household. I get that that’s the most likely scenario from the way it’s described, but I don’t think that we should assume that just because someone is a teenager they haven’t finished school or that their earnings are basically pocket money for fun stuff. Plenty of teenagers need their earnings quite seriously.

      1. ferrina*

        True, but LW would likely have said something if this job was necessary for essentials. Fortunately, many teenagers are in situations where the job is optional (I say this as someone who worked all throughout high school and college).
        While I don’t doubt that the money makes a difference, mental health is way more valuable and harder to get back.

      2. CheeryO*

        Even if that is true, it’s not like jobs are scarce right now. If they live somewhere that has chain retail, there’s probably many other retail and food service options.

      3. Boof*

        Ok but lw made this sound more like a best for learning/experience question not a need the money question

      4. Observer*

        >Plenty of teenagers need their earnings quite seriously.

        True. But there is a difference between “need the money” and “will be facing homelessness”.

        Also, the OP makes it pretty clear that this is not that level of need. They are pretty specific about why they want their daughter to stick with the job. They say that she needs to “understand that working with difficult people is sometimes necessary“. No mention about significant fall out to the finances of either the family or the teen in question.

        1. Le Sigh*

          +1 And if there was a financial necessity, then the answer should be to apply to any number of job openings out there right now and take those jobs. Not put yourself in a precarious situation.

          1. bamcheeks*

            right, and I still think that LW should support their daughter to quit and look for a new job if that’s what they want to do. I’m just disturbed by all the “the stakes are low” and “her real job is getting good grades in school” because that’s not necessarily true just because someone is a teenager with a supportive parent. I don’t think we shouldn’t default to “teenagers never seriously need to earn money, it’s just about experience and extra pennies for pocket money” because it leads to all sorts of bad stuff like certain jobs paying less than minimum wage or not offering stability or benefits because they’re not ~real~ or necessary jobs.

            1. Observer*

              This is getting waaay into “not everyone can eat sandwiches” territory.

              There is no indication that this is a situation where the income is highly important, so it is just not appropriate to respond to the question as though it it such a situation.

            2. Eyes Kiwami*

              You know that most people here are strongly in favor of increasing minimum wage and wary of jobs that don’t offer benefits or aren’t respected because they’re not “real” jobs.

      5. Smithy*

        Even if all of that is true – where this teen is providing them or their family money they truly can no afford to go without – then the only difference in the advice would be for the teen to apply to news jobs immediately and then quit. As opposed to quitting first and then finding a new job.

        This sounds like a retail job, and while the retail sector in the US already has a lot of vacancies – getting closer to the holiday season will only mean an increase in those openings. None of this is to diminish how important these jobs can be from the point of earnings, however using that argument to justify staying in the first place that hires you is flawed.

        For a teen working retail – whether they’re in high school or not – there’s often a lot of grace for resume job gaps, a short resume, and a need for seasonal hiring. Therefore, sticking with jobs that are deeply unpleasant when it’s known the job will not do anything to alleviate that issue remains flawed.

      6. Ellie*

        Yes, I think its worth telling the manager what’s going on and flagging to them that they will have to quit if they’re based at the same location. It’s quite likely they’ll choose to keep OP’s daughter, and its worth at least hearing them out, if this is a good job.

        But if the plan is they’ll work at the same store and just not roster them on together, I’d go ahead and encourage the daughter to quit. If they’re that hard up for money, OP could look for a second job.

    6. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      Absolutely agree. And while learning to work with difficult people is an important life skill, learning to recognize toxic/abusive behavior and walk away is an even more important life skill, in my opinion.

      Also, this scenario is setting off all sorts of alarm bells in my head. LW1, parents can’t really know all the details of their teenagers’ relationships. I know as a teen, I didn’t tell my parents about a lot of bad stuff, because I thought I would be blamed or I didn’t have the words to explain it yet. So if your daughter is saying she can’t work with him, believe her.

      1. ferrina*

        learning to recognize toxic/abusive behavior and walk away is an even more important life skill

        Yes yes yes!! Teach her how to say no and advocate for herself, including when advocating for herself means walking away. This is a life skill I learned in my 30s, and it would have been a big difference learning it in my teens.

      2. Observer*

        And while learning to work with difficult people is an important life skill, learning to recognize toxic/abusive behavior and walk away is an even more important life skill, in my opinion.

        Yes! A gazillion bazillion percent!

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        … while learning to work with difficult people is an important life skill, learning to recognize toxic/abusive behavior and walk away is an even more important life skill …


        Many young women are required/forced to be in uncomfortable/dangerous situations because schools don’t intervene in “drama”. If you are never taught how to recognize and get out of abusive environments you can end up in hell jobs and abusive relationships very easily, especially if you are discouraged from “quitting” and required to “tough it out” and “be gracious”, “give X another chance”, or “stop being a drama queen”. This kind of crap gets women killed.

    7. OP #1*

      Thanks for all of the advice, everyone (and Alison). I totally agree that no entry-level first retail job is worth potentially retraumatizing herself. If she ends up wanting to quit, I’ll support her in it without hesitation. She’s absolutely miserable about the prospect, though – she’s been incredibly excited about this job, and says that quitting would make it “just one more thing Apollo managed to ruin for me.”

      By the end of same day I wrote the letter, she was talking about staying and maintaining her boundaries. She seems to have come up with plans for most of the potential situations that cause her the greatest concern. “The difference now is that I *know* Apollo is a liar, which makes it easier to spot the lies.” Obviously it’s not that simple, but that’s where she is at the moment. Another positive is that she found out that another friend who also knows the history (and has been supportive of Artemis) has been hired as well.

      So right now my plan is to check in with her often, watch for signs she’s having trouble, and make sure she knows that we’ll support her if she needs to make a change. I’ll send an update if there’s something update-worthy.

      1. ABCYaBYE*

        I think this is a great approach. I like that your daughter is navigating this and trying to figure out how to work through it. That said, my initial instinct when I read you letter was to say that there are TONS of this type of job (entry-level, retail) available now. So if your daughter is the least bit uncomfortable with the situation, or feels that she’s drawing the short straw when it comes to scheduling, there are other places that will gladly take her.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Have her give her manager a heads up too. Not in a teen drama way but just “hey heads up, Apollo and I have a history. I will, of course, be professional moving forward but I wanted to let you know.” Alison has some GREAT scripts to use for this situation (which is kind of sad in a way).

        1. Zephy*

          +1 yes absolutely, LW’s daughter should do this ASAP. Among the many fun things about how human brains work and evaluate information is the tendency to give more weight/credence to the first story one encounters about a situation, so if Artemis is able to get out in front of this whole thing and flag that Apollo is a problem (for her specifically, if not necessarily in general), then when Apollo becomes a problem for her (because unfortunately I’m betting they will), the manager already knew that about them and will thus be more likely to support Artemis when she comes to the manager with a complaint. Hopefully Apollo hasn’t already charmed the manager into thinking they’re a perfect angel incapable of wrongdoing, but it sounds like Artemis has been working longer so she may have that going for her.

          1. My Cabbages!*

            Plus being given at least some warning in advance that Apollo may not be the golden boy he seems might allow the manager to spot red flags she’d otherwise ignore. Not that it’s a given, but with narcs especially, it’s not difficult to spot the difference between charm and manipulation if you are looking for it.

            Note that I’m not advocating the daughter tell her manager that Apollo is a narcissist, but just saying something like “he’s been unpleasant to me on the past” (using one of Alison’s scripts, not mine!) might be enough for the manager to at least have some idea that everything isn’t what it seems.

        2. ferrina*


          Echoing that Alison has some great scripts- your daughter doesn’t need to navigate this alone. A good manager would want to know about this.

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        It sounds like this is something to leave in your daughter’s hands. If she wants to try to work through this, it could be very empowering for her. I definitely know the feeling of “this is just one more thing this person has taken from me” and if she feels like she can push back on that and set boundaries, that’s a strong girl.

        That said, your plan to check in and watch for signs of trouble I fully support. It’s a hard age, you don’t know you’re in over your head until it’s too late sometimes. I’m so glad she has you looking out for her.

      4. Loredena Frisealach*

        I’m glad that she knows you support her either way! The fact that a safe friend has also been hired might help, because she’ll have support in the moment/location as well – and backing if she does need to speak to her manager about scheduling. It’s tough, because this is absolutely the sort of situation that she can just walk away from without long-term repercussions, yet as she said she’ll be left feeling that Apollo has ruined something for her yet again.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, feeling like she has an ally is probably a key part of her feeling like she can go forward with the job. I know it would make a world of difference to me.

      5. Sunflower*

        If Apollo does anything, your daughter should document the date, time, and action. But keep quiet about the documentation; she don’t want to be obvious. If there’s enough incidents, at least she’ll have a record to show upper management.

      6. Another glorious morning*

        Sounds like you are both handling this well.

        However this is a great time of year to look for jobs. Nearly every retail establishment will be hiring for the Holidays.

        Best of luck to her, in whatever path she takes.

      7. Lenora Rose*

        This sounds great; she has exit plans and backup, but it gives her the chance to do the thing she was looking forward to.

      8. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        OP1 I just wanted to take a moment to give you kudos for great parenting. Love that your daughter has your support!

      9. kiki*

        I really like this approach. It would also be good to remind her that she can always quit if she starts working with Apollo and realizes the situation is untenable. It can vary wildly by job, but there are definitely some part-time jobs I’ve had that make it easy to not interact deeply with a coworker you don’t like. A lot of part-time jobs for high schoolers are meh to actively bad, so if she really likes this job it may be worth sticking out (obviously depending on how your daughter feels and the gravity of the situation with Apollo).

      10. Smithy*

        Sounds like a great plan and also to let her decide what does and does not make sense.

        I will just add that very often I’ve found a desire to not let a bad situation defeat me or a need to “win” has led me to sticking in situations that really weren’t quite worth it. The idea of fighting for a prize not worth winning.

        In no way does this diminish how much I valued making my own money as a teenager and also valued being able to work somewhere I found desirable. Just because “all” retail is hiring doesn’t not mean it’s valued equally by all teens. All to say, if at some point your daughter is miserable but sees quitting as Apollo winning….there’s a value in discovering the benefits from stepping away from those fights. Particularly when they’re ones we’re unlikely to win.

      11. Insert Clever Name Here*

        She sounds like a strong, smart kid. Crossing my fingers for an update of “they never were scheduled together and today Apollo was fired for (literally anything that doesn’t involve Artemis) so she can enjoy her job without worry!”

      12. Curmudgeon in California*

        That’s good, especially if she has another person there as support. The fact that she has your support if she needs to quit helps give her the backstop of support if she can’t make it work. It gives her a safety net.

        I understand her feeling about “just one more thing Apollo managed to ruin for me.” If she can form good strategies for dealing with that kind of situation it will help her in the future, including knowing that creating distance by leaving is also a valid option.

      13. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        OP #1, it’s great that your daughter is coming up with plans, and understands the need to and how to set boundaries, and your plan for supporting her sounds great. She also sounds like a high-acheiver, so I want to relay what I learned as the same, of my own traumatic experience.

        I was a high achieving student, and rewarded for my ability to follow instructions and not make waves. When I was being stalked by a close family friend (a young adult), I kept this as a secret for far too long, because I had been taught that it was my role to pretend that everything was fine and normal when it was clearly not. If (pre-restraining order) I had found myself working at the same job as him, I probably would have tried to accomodate it for way too long.

        It took me years and lots of therapy to understand that it wasn’t my role to make sure his harassment didn’t complicate things for our families, and to unlearn in a broader sense that my role was to accomodate whatever crap others put up. I think it would be wise/kind of you to make sure your daughter isn’t being too accomodating of Apollo out of the same misplaced understanding I developed, and maybe to let her know that this is a risk for high achieving girls and women. I hope she’s healthy and safe with whatever choices she makes!

      14. Ellie*

        You really don’t want someone working for you who lies all the time! Why not give the manager a heads up, and see what happens? Especially if there’s two people who’ve both had issues with Apollo.

      15. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        It sounds like she has plans in place and I know she is feeling better knowing she has an ally working there with her who knows the history. That said, just remind your daughter that if it is ever too much, you will support her decision to quit, especially if the alternative is harmful to her mental health and overall happiness. Also, make sure to check in with her on how things are going regularly (but don’t overdo it or she will get annoyed because … teenager!).

    8. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      Posting this here because I also said it way down the threads, and it might get lost. Someone mentioned that Apollo might’ve applied for the job specifically to be around Artemis, which was also my fear from the way Apollo was described. It was my first thought when I got to the part of the letter about Apollo getting a job there. Here’s what I said about Apollo coming on board to harass or intimidate Artemis:

      I came here to post the same warning. The parent’s description of Apollo was uncannily like that of my ex-best friend in high school/college. After I finally cut him out, he’s spent the two decades since then occasionally trying to “coincidentally” show up where he thinks I’ll be. (The universe must be protecting me, because even if it’s somewhere I thought I’d be, something always comes up so I’m not there when he is.) This includes trying to get jobs in the very tiny field he knows I work in.

      In addition, it’s not just to mess with me–he also does it because he’s determined to prove that if he and I work the same job or in the same place, he will be superior to me at it, more beloved by our coworkers, first in line for every promotion, etc. He has a burning need to feel like and prove he’s above me/everyone else, and it only got worse after I cut him out and showed him I don’t need him in my life to be happy. (Which, of course, makes it even more important to stay away from people like him!)

      As an adult, he is a diagnosed malicious narcissist with a charisma rating that’s through the roof. Most people think he’s the epitome of charm and human perfection. I take comfort in that fact that malicious narcissists like him can literally never be truly happy because their happiness relies upon limitless, constant, and ever-increasing external validation. But that’s impossible because there are always limits to others’ energy spent on you.

      This kind of person should absolutely be avoided. There’s no reward for forcing yourself to work around them, only risk and damage.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        By the way, LW’s comments showed up after I posted my comment and refreshed, and I think LW and Artemis have a good plan of attack for dealing with Apollo in the workplace! I also hope Artemis’s friend who also got hired will be able to go to bat for Artemis if needed.

    9. MCMonkeyBean*

      Fully agree.

      I think my vote would go to: be prepared to quit, but maybe if she wants she could ask first whether it would be possible to be transferred to a different location if it is a big chain.

    10. TootsNYC*

      Also, I think you’re right in worrying that asking to be scheduled on different shifts will be regarded as inconsequential teen drama, and result in your daughter having to bear the consequences. I would be different if she were a highly reliable, drama free employee who had been working there long enough to have a good reputation, but right now the managers have no way to know whose fault the conflict is.

      Well, she’s been a reliable employee at a different location, and she was there first.

      If quitting is something she’s willing to do, I don’t see what harm there is in going to the boss and saying, “This guy and I have a traumatic history, and I’d prefer not to be scheduled with him. Is that possible?”
      Maybe the answer’s no, and maybe the drama gets blamed on her.

      Fine–she can quit! She was ready to anyway.
      But also, maybe her boss will pay attention. It might be worth asking. And maybe the boss can help her transfer to a different location.

      I would hope that retail bosses are more alert after Riley Whitelaw’s murder by her Walgreens coworker.

    11. 2 Cents*

      Also joining in on Team Let Her Quit for reasons everyone else said, but also because just about every retail store in my area (YMMV) has a “help wanted” sign in the window, especially now with the holiday season approaching.

    12. Formerly Ella Vader*

      LW #1, besides supporting your daughter if she chooses to resign, I think you should also help her resign professionally and find some phrases to use in explaining.

      Resigning “properly” will make her look better than other teen employees who just disappear during the training or early in their employment without explaining.

      – Thank them for the opportunity and the training.
      – Acknowledge that it will disrupt their plans that she can’t continue to work at the new location.
      Then, don’t lie. It’s hard to tell whether it’s a situation where naming names will just make them think, eew, tmi, don’t put me in your teen drama, or something equally unfair, but if she doesn’t make it clear that it’s a move necessary to avoid one specific junior co-worker, she’s missing out on chances like, what if they say can you keep working at the location across town? or what if they think of calling her once Apollo quits or gets fired. Maybe say that she’s learned that one of the staff of the new store is someone she has bad history with, don’t name Apollo unless they ask, and have some words ready in case they want her to give details.

      Be super conscientious about returning any of the employer’s equipment, picking up the last paycheque as scheduled, and finishing out any shifts at the other store that are already scheduled.

  2. Passionfruit Tea*

    LW1 I’d give it a couple of weeks and wait and see. It’s not as if she signed up for a 4 year contract. She can quit any day but I’d not support quitting before anything even happens.

    1. Clobberin' Time*

      Why? What on earth is to be gained by forcing her to stay in proximity to her charming, toxic ex until something “happens”?

      1. Worldwalker*


        Her primary job right now is to do well in school. That should be her main concern, and her mother’s. Learning to deal with bad co-workers is not nearly as important as learning what is being taught in her classes.

        Being forced to work for with someone she has a bad history with will cause her stress and potentially interfere with her actual job: getting an education. Even more so if her mother has told her that she can’t quit.

        1. Luna*

          I’ll be honest, I don’t think school is a place where you ever got taught to deal with ‘co-workers’ (classmates) that you don’t like. Like the whole fiasco of how school group projects are nothing like job projects.
          Or even the ability to stand up for yourself, especially if it involves your mental health.

          1. Worldwalker*

            I didn’t mean that she would learn to deal with toxic people in school—I meant that her studies and grades are the most important thing for her to concentrate on at this point in life. A part-time job comes in much lower.

      2. Passionfruit Tea*

        Because we do not even know she will be in the proximity. They’re catastrophizing before the fact. She’s throwing away weeks of training for a rumor.

        1. ferrina*

          If you have been through trauma/abused, it is very reasonable and necessary to take precautions around your abuser. Thinking about these things in advance and having a plan are a survival tactic (because trauma/abuse is a survival situation). It’s not “catastrophizing”- it’s knowing how messed up Apollo is and how much he’s willing to hurt her. The rules of normal interactions don’t apply here- Apollo won’t play by those rules, and he’ll take advantage of her wanting to be polite/normal.

          Trust that she knows what is best for her, even if (and especially if) she needs to rely on incomplete information to make that decision.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          Why are you calling it a rumor? Because she’s a teenager? The letter doesnt say its a rumor. The letter says she found out this person would be working there. It’s not a rumor its a fact. And we believe LWs here.

        3. Education Mike*

          Exactly. Is “quit the minute you find out something hard or bad potentially might happen in the future” really the lesson you want your teenager to take away from this experience?

          She just found out Apollo got the job. Nothing has happened. They don’t know that the two are ever going to have to interact in any way. Apollo might never even show up for training. Apollo might not make it through training. Apollo might be schedule for Monday and Wednesday and Artemis for Friday and Saturday. It’s a huge chain and she likes working there so far. Why quit when you could ask to work at a different branch, or stay at the branch where you’ve enjoyed being trained?

          Why not try saying something to a manager and see what they might be willing to do instead of assuming the answer is nothing. Sure, there’s a chance that it won’t be taken seriously. A lot of stores are desperate for good workers. They might decide since they already like her, it’s not worth losing her for another high school student who might be unreliable anyways. What does she possibly have to lose if the alternate plan is just quitting? At least it will give the manager pause if Apollo has issues with someone else in the future, like “hey, this person seems charming, but didn’t that perfectly lovely, competent person we spent weeks training quit because we hired him?”

          At the very least wait until you see if the thing you’re afraid of will actually happen.

          1. iris*

            It’s important to remember that Demeter probably deals with Apollo at school, and is learning all these lessons about working with difficult people. This is a lot closer to an adult quitting a hobby group because a horrible coworker joins it than an adult quitting their job.

          2. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Finding out that someone who has abused you in the past has now found a new avenue through which to abuse you is ABSOLUTELY not in the same category as your “something hard or bad potentially might happen in the future.” These are different things. The OP clearly stated in their letter that what happened between Artemis and Apollo was more harmful than the standard ending of a teenage friendship, and we’re asked to take letter writers at their word here.

            Abusers don’t change easily. If Apollo’s behavior was as harmful as OP describes, this is more than a potentially unpleasant situation with a former friend. I think we as a society need to be better at making the distinction between difficult people and harmful people. With difficult people, you do sometimes have to suck it up and live with some unpleasantness. But we should never ask anyone to willingly put themselves in the path of someone they know to be actively harmful.

            OP said that Artemis has decided to stay in the job for now and has enlisted the help of a supportive friend, and I hope it can work out. But if Apollo starts Apollo-ing and Artemis decides it’s not worth it, she has the right to make that decision.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              I think we as a society need to be better at making the distinction between difficult people and harmful people. With difficult people, you do sometimes have to suck it up and live with some unpleasantness. But we should never ask anyone to willingly put themselves in the path of someone they know to be actively harmful.

              This, times 1,000,000

              People who have a history of harming you are not “difficult”, they are harmful. Yes, we all need to deal with difficult people, but it is not rational to expect anyone to have to continue to cope with a person who has harmed them. This distinction is very important for women, especially, to be able to make in both the workplace as well as their private lives.

              Yet we still have the BS of little girls being told “He hits you/pulls your hair/teases you because he likes you.” Violence, whether emotional, physical or sexual, is not affection.

              Our society gives women and girls bad messages in this area.

          3. Allison*

            And if they are both in school, there are probably limited hours they can work, so there is potential for overlap.

            It sounds like the daughter has a good plan, but it wouldn’t be outrageous to quit. Maybe the location where she’s getting trained is farther away from home than the new one that’s opening, and she was only willing to make the longer commute because it was temporary.

          4. Observer*

            Is “quit the minute you find out something hard or bad potentially might happen in the future” really the lesson you want your teenager to take away from this experience?

            Except that that is not what is going on here. And the total dismissal of someone’s traumatic experience is utterly disheartening and quite infuriating.

            One of the things that adults SHOULD do is to think through the possible implications of events that they have no control over. And something that FUNCTIONAL adults learn is that sometimes it’s worth cutting your losses. When you KNOW that someone is toxic then it is well worth considering refusing to work at the same workplace as them.

            Apollo might be schedule for Monday and Wednesday and Artemis for Friday and Saturday.Apollo might be schedule for Monday and Wednesday and Artemis for Friday and Saturday.

            That’s not the way scheduling in retail works. It would be a lot better for a lot of people if it did, but that’s just not the reality.

        4. Observer*

          They’re catastrophizing before the fact. She’s throwing away weeks of training for a rumor.

          Nope, not a rumor. Apollo took the job. And in retail, scheduling is such that it’s incredibly stupid to make any decisions based on the idea that you won’t ever be scheduled together unless you have a commitment from management.

        5. MCMonkeyBean*


          It’s not a rumor (literally no idea where you pulled that from?), and it’s not “catastrophizing” to plan for very likely possibilities. If they’re both in high school it’s extremely likely they would have some of the same shifts since it’s not like either of them have a lot of options in their availability.

      3. Jellyfish Catcher*

        I agree. Apollo has already done acts that caused lasting trauma.
        It’s difficult to comment on the decision without knowing a bit of details: is it physical violence, multiple incidents of harassment, illegal acts, has it been reported or documented, etc.

        I’d be concerned with her working in the same building / store – but equally or more so with the parking lot or garage.
        His best opportunity to approach her is outside, where there will be no witnesses.
        My spidey sense says nope, find another job.

      4. tamarack and fireweed*

        Well, I guess my attitude would be to wait for 2 weeks in case a) I could win a decisive victory (tell boss, boss sides with me – highly unlikely) or b) for unfathomable reason, toxic ex doesn’t take up the job there either (not that unlikely, depending). Like, why waste a good job AND hand him a victory until having figured out what the reality of it is.

        But once it’s clear that the reality is as bad as imagined, I’d absolutely quit.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I would wait for something to happen if this were just a falling out or an immature person, but one of the concerns is that this is an accomplished manipulator who will “talk his way back into Artemis’ life, which would be bad for her in a number of ways.” So the thing that happens could be that she gets back into an emotionally abusive relationship. Plenty of adults would head for the hills before that.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Yeah. This is beyond “I don’t like him” or “personality clash”. The LW’s daughter was harmed by this person once, why would she wait for him to harm her again? This isn’t rumor or supposition. This already happened to her.

    3. Well...*

      Why? If she doesn’t need the money or the career building, why subject herself to this stress?

      Life is short, don’t subject yourself to bad people and bad environments if you have the means to avoid them. That’s a super important life lesson too!

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. I gave up a volunteer project because of someone, May, who was belittling my education and telling me I was ‘too intelligent for my own good’ (because I’d offered to proofread an atrociously unprofessional website. Like, ok, the Holy Spirit may be ok with people’s testimonials written in stream of consciousness. But I’m sure it might feel that correctly capitalising the postcodes on your contact form would actually make people take you — and, by extension, it — more seriously). The project was something I’d found through one of my mum’s contacts, Ro and Ro did eventually reach out to ask why I just left. She appreciated and understood the answer. You can’t change someone like that (although I hope Ro communicated to May why I’d just left) but if you can easily remove yourself from the situation, there are plenty of other places that need your help or labour.

        In the situation with Artemis, I’d take the view my mother (a headteacher who saw this happen a lot) does: if you can afford not to work, focus on school. You can work during the summers, you can work after leaving school, but you generally only get one chance at the opportunities school affords you (like for example I was advised to take sciences at A-level because it was easier to learn them through being taught and having access to lab equipment than it was to read up on history and EngLit in my own time). So really…Artemis will have plenty of opportunities later to learn how to work with people she doesn’t get along with. No need to make it a big deal now.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It reminds me of the parent who was upset that his child had quit a toxic workplace for a job that was better in every way, because if you quit then it means that the toxic people win and so you can never, never quit.

    4. Moi*

      Something has already happened. The best predictor of future behaviour is passed behavior. Let her quit

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I’d be concerned about that in this case. The LW says that Apollo is charming and she is concerned she may talk her way back into her daughter’s life. In this scenario, it is unlikely the daughter would tell the mother, as she knows her mother is aware that Apollo is harmful to her. Apollo could well convince the daughter not to quit and to lie to her mother that they were working different shifts and resume manipulating her and possibly cause further trauma.

      1. Education Mike*

        This is a stretch. We don’t know anything about their relationship and what she does or doesn’t tell her mother. We don’t even know if she’ll be working directly with Apollo or not.

        We do know that if she’s old enough to legally have her working papers, she’s only a few years (at most!) from being old enough to go to college or get her own apartment. The time where the appropriate parenting strategy was to forcibly control who she socializes with and isolate her from bad influences has long passed.

        If Apollo is truly toxic snd OP thinks her daughter might let him back in, she should be trying to help her daughter learn how to set healthier boundaries and stick to them. The goal of parenting should not be watch your child like a hawk until they are 25 to make sure no one takes advantage of them. At this age, OP needs to trust her daughter to make good choices on her own, or be working to teach her that.

        1. rubble*

          sounds like the daughter already drew her own boundaries, and LW wants her to allow them to be breached in the name of learning how to get along with difficult people, even though Apollo seems to have crossed the line from difficult to dangerous.

          that’s not coddling, that’s encouraging a teenager to put themselves in danger. both are bad parenting.

        2. cardigarden*

          Not sure where you’re writing in from, but I was old enough for working papers at 14. If that’s the age Artemis is, she definitely needs support dealing with abusive situations.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Lol, what? “A few years in the future you’ll eventually be a legal adult so I’m gonna just go ahead and abdicate all responsibility for you now.”

    6. Rex Libris*

      I’d find quitting beforehand preferable to working just long enough so that it’s difficult not to list the job on a resume, and any potential reference from there only knows you as “That person who was always miserable until they had the big blow up with so-and-so.”

      1. Zephy*

        Ehh, this is a first job, it’s not like there’s going to be a gap that Artemis will need to explain away. She can easily leave this one off her resume if it breaks bad or she ends up quitting next week.

        1. Rex Libris*

          I was actually thinking about the second job, or the third. At that age I found it a big bonus to already have some job experience and references when I wanted one of the more coveted summer or part-time jobs (i.e. selling movie tickets instead of flipping burgers.)

          My thinking was just that she might be better off avoiding the whole situation, and finding a different first job where she’s more likely to make a success of it a couple months later.

    7. Fluffy Fish*

      No. Telling anyone, but especially a teenager, that they need to try to work with someone they have a traumatic history with is many things but mostly an utter dismissal of someone’s very real and very valid feelings. Frankly its cruel.

      Children thrive when they feel supported. This is not the hill to die on.

      1. ferrina*


        There’s a big difference between The Coworker That Rolls Their Eyes and The Manipulator That Warps Reality. Manipulators rely on others not believing the victim or minimizing their behavior. Manipulators gaslight their victims into disbelieving their own instincts and experiences, convincing them that they can’t think straight (so they must adopt the Manipulator’s viewpoint on all things).

        The best antidote is to trust the daughter and tell her to trust her instincts. Tell her to act in her self-interest and prioritize her wellbeing and mental health. Help her build confidence in herself. As Fluffy Fish says, children thrive when they feel supported and trusted.

    8. Observer*

      . She can quit any day but I’d not support quitting before anything even happens.


      If Artemis WANTS to stay and has some reasonable strategies to protect herself, then Parents should support her. But what is there in this situation that warrants her putting herself at risk if she is not confident that she can navigate it?

      Why is “learning to recognize toxic situations and avoiding them” not a valid skill and path?

      1. Rex Libris*

        This. I think it depends on the details of their past history, but while learning to work with difficult people is a good lesson, learning to tolerate abusive people for the sake of a job is not.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yes. “Learning to work with difficult people” is good, but “learning to work with harmful people” is just not good. You should never have to allow yourself to be re-victimized.

  3. Rara Avis*

    One of the benefits of Zoom and virtual life is that there are now so many invitations to meetings and presentations that I could never attend in person. But most advertisers forget to add the time zone. “It’s at 8 p.m.” doesn’t help if you don’t say where you are!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      The zoom invitations I get are customized to my time zone in the email, so it’s possible to set that up. But the host should always put the time zone in the meeting time, and be sure to include the daylight/standard time information. There’s always that confusing period when North America has switched but Europe hasn’t.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        And when converting, be careful to pay attention to the *date*, particularly for meetings with East Asia.

        1. Bilateralrope*

          Why is East Asia a complication with dates ?

          I try to use three letters for the month and a 4 digit year to avoid confusion with the day/month/year ordering

          1. Educator*

            The international date line is in the Pacific, and you jump it when you are scheduling a meeting with the folks on the other side. So if it is Thursday evening in New York, it is Friday morning in China. And if it is Thursday morning in San Fransisco, it is Friday morning in Aukland, which is the one that really messes with my brain. A lot of people forget to convert not just the hour, but the date as well!

            1. Bilateralrope*

              Oh, that. I’m in New Zealand, so that’s just a normal part of the time conversion for me.

              1. Educator*

                That’s funny–struggling with international geography is kind of a culture-wide challenge in the United States, and I am glad you do not share our burden. Most US schools don’t spend quite as much time on geography as we probably should! It’s a thing.

                1. Bilateralrope*

                  My habits with timezone conversions don’t come from our education system. It comes from online gaming with people in various countries, including the US. We had to figure out how to handle timezones somehow.

                  The MMO where players could handle the timezone conversions the best was one that had a clock set to UTC sitting in the bottom corner of the screen for almost all of the time. Because, once a group of players realized they were spread across timezones, that clock became the default choice.

              2. Baroness Schraeder*

                Actually as a kiwi my biggest challenge is scheduling colleagues in the Cook Islands. A day behind but a few hours ahead, and don’t forget to factor in Island Time as well!

          2. Warrior Princess Xena*

            In addition to what Educator mentioned, I know that several East Asian countries and Thailand in particular use a non-Gregorian calendar, especially for years. Usually this isn’t a huge issue for meeting invites but it’s enough of a known problem in the software world that it’s a common troubleshooting item when dates in software behave strangely in any large international company.

            1. Zennish*

              I once asked an older Tibetan Buddhist monk what his birthday would be on the western calendar. He thought and thought, and was ultimately only able to get it within about a week. Lunar calendars are fun.

          3. AcademiaNut*

            Closer to the international date line, so when it’s business hours in North America it’s the next day in East Asia.

          4. Blackcat*

            I’m in Australia, so similar issues as east Asia.

            I totally specify the day, because if I’m meeting with someone in California at 9am for me, that’s around 4pm *on the previous day* for them. (I think. I’ve got a widget for checking time zones, but it’s about to be US daylight savings and that always confuses me)

            1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

              I have a standing meeting with colleagues in Australia and 4pm for us is 8am the next day for them. Until we go back on standard time next week, when it will be 3pm.

        2. TheSüperflüoüsUmlaüt*

          Oh, Sweet Valhalla, yes! Working in Australia, we have to be so careful to specify to overseas associates that the official deadlines are in OUR time zone, and we need your instructions in plenty of time before then. If you send me your last-minute email from America on what you think is still the final afternoon (3 November your time) … welp, it’s 4 November here now!

      2. Gingerblue*

        Yeah, my only disagreement with Alison on #3 is that if you’re in a place that handles time zones in an unexpected way, I think you ought to shoulder making sure everyone’s on the same page. I was hiring last year, and made sure to clarify with candidates that (most of!) Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings, because I sure didn’t know that before I moved there. It was just easier to say something than to worry about it every time I had to schedule an event.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Yep. Then add in that Navajo Nation does do daylight savings so a big chunk of AZ is a different time. I went to a conference that was co-hosted by the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation and they had the events at their facilities in their time zone, so 9 am in Hopi Tribe was 10 am in Navajo Nation. I ended up converting the schedule into the same time zone because I was too confused.

      3. Well...*

        Ugh this week is staggered daylight savings time. This is the reason I always Google “current time in City/State” to double check meetings day of.

        1. La Triviata*

          I have been campaigning for years to get people in my office to simply put “Eastern Time” rather than either Eastern Daylight Time or Eastern Standard Time. They have in the past used the wrong one (preparing materials during one but referring to a date when the other will be in effect) which leads to all kinds of confusion. Recently, they managed to advertise one event as BOTH … which confused everyone (including me).

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, people often screw that up. I say, just say “ET” and let the person on the other end google for the time difference as needed.

            1. Lexi Lynn*

              As someone in the Mountain time zone, I recommend sharing times in Eastern. Too many people seem to get confused with timezones and how long it takes to fly there (no, west coast time is not 6 hours behind because that’s how long the plane ride is).

          2. rolly*

            Twitter just sent a company-wide email about layoffs happening today (November 4) with references to 9am PST. On November 4 that part of the US is on PDT.

            Did they mean 9am PDT? Or really 9am PST? Not the same. Not good.

      4. Seconds*

        I get amused with my husband, who sometimes specifies time zone (with daylight saving time note) even when making dinner arrangements with me.

        At work he tends to use UTC, since he works with people all over the globe and their product isn’t on the globe at all.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      I’ve had this issue for well over a decade due to online gaming from New Zealand.

      As I see it, stating the timezone a time is in is the bare minimum. Though if this happens regularly, people may get used to doing the conversion in their head. Then make mistakes due to daylight saving turning on/off on different days in different places. Last I check, NZ was UTC+12/13, the UK is UTC+0/1, but there were only 4 weeks a year when they were 12 hours apart.
      DST within the US is also more complicated than you might expect:

      It’s better to give the time in UTC, or some other timezone that doesn’t have dst. That way people only have to worry about their local DST dates.

      The best solution, if available, is to rely on software to handle the time conversion for everyone.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Timezones in the US are a nightmare! They not only divide states, but even some counties are in two different timezones!

        Luckily there are now easy web applications that can display a countdown timer based on the user’s device’s system time, but several years ago they either didn’t exist or were too pricy for my nonprofit, so trying to put a countdown timer on our end-of-year email appeals based on when the tax year ended in the recipient’s timezone meant having to make query-based groups for all 7 US timezones based on the address on their profile to determine which countdown they got. Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii are easy enough, but the other four groups were a mixture of states and counties that took forever to compile and was still only about 95% accurate. (Zip codes might have been more accurate, but that’s the kind of data you have to buy, not something one person can generate in an afternoon, and we couldn’t afford that either.)

        1. londonedit*

          I travel to Portugal quite a lot, and probably 80% of the time when you land the cabin crew will say ‘Welcome to Portugal, where the local time is just after 7:30pm…’ and then pop back on the PA system a couple of minutes later to say ‘…sorry, the local time here is now 6:35, the same time as the UK, so no need to adjust your watches’. So many people assume ‘we’ve gone to continental Europe, it must be an hour ahead’ but Portugal isn’t!

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            I live on the east coast of the US, and it’s always such a mindbend when there are places that are ahead of us, time zone wise, but in the Western Hemisphere still. Because I’m just so used to being the earliest time zone of the continental US, it’s odd when you realize there’s a part of Canada that is more easterly. I also don’t think it’s uncommon to think that South America is directly south of us, not pretty well east as well, for much of it.

      2. Trina*

        Software really is the way to go when possible! Discord is coded now to work with a timestamp generator; you put in the date and time relative to you, it spits out a code that looks like , and when you post the code in Discord it displays an automatically converted time for everyone. I’d love to see that same option available in email clients!

        1. Elenna*

          Yes, I was going to mention that! A New Zealand streamer I’m a fan of (I’m in Canada) uses that a lot, it’s so much easier to trust Discord’s number than for a) him to list out a whole bunch of times for viewers around the world or b) him to write the NZ time and everyone googles to convert the time. Especially with the added confusion of Daylight Savings, weird time zones, etc.

          1. Lucien Nova*

            I use this for my own streams as I’ve a lot of viewers not in the US – it’s absolutely the handiest thing!

            May I ask what NZ streamer you’re referencing?

      3. Zephy*

        Software doesn’t even always work right. It may be more of a problem among people who are not currently yet part of the workforce, but I work with college students and have encountered multiple people whose computer clocks are, for mysterious reasons, set to some random timezone that is not reflective of either my or the student’s current location. It creates problems when I get signed documents in emails timestamped hours before my system shows I sent them. I want to say it’s specifically an issue with iOS and either Outlook itself or the native iOS mail app that can have an Office365 account linked to it, as it seems like most of the students sending me emails from the future are using Macbooks. Maybe the student just never bothered to set local time/date when they got their computer, but I think most newer ones do that automagically these days, so who knows.

        1. RishaBree*

          I mean, software goes wrong, and anything connected to the internet or a satellite has an additional layer of potential complications. My (Windows) laptop is (correctly) set to ET, none of my vpns are currently on, but for some reason today firefox thinks I’m in Idaho for anything location based.

        2. JustaTech*

          Software is just plain weird. I had a GPS watch (one of the fancy ones) that periodically decided I was on Pitcairn island. You know, the most remote inhabited place in the world, where the mutineers from the Bounty ended up?
          Why *that* was the default for “poor signal” I never figured out.

    3. Asenath*

      I used to use Outlook, which automatically converts time zones, sort of. I had one person who was in my time zone, but who used an online version of Outlook (which is what was blamed for the problem), and meetings always came out wrong on her end. I got in the habit of notifying ALL non-local people, including her even though she was at least in the same time zone, with the time zone I was in, assuming they could figure out what their time zone was. That got particularly important when I was scheduling meetings for people who were travelling to attend in person, and we had one of our lovely winter storms. I had to re-schedule everything for phone calls, not knowing which time zone any individual caller was in. Sometimes they didn’t know because they were in the air wondering if they would arrive or the flight be diverted, and if so, where. I was really, really, careful about specifying which time zone I was using.

      1. Zephy*

        I always note that the times on my Bookings calendar are Eastern and I still have people in California trying to set meetings for 10 AM and getting mad when I call them at 7:00.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had some folks on the East Coast who didn’t want to include my boss in some meetings (we’re on the West Coast) so they deliberately scheduled the meetings for 9am ET, hoping that he wouldn’t get up in time to call in at 6am his time.

          It didn’t work, and he called in (no video) from bed just to make the point that they needed our input.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Heard somewhere recently (probably not fact checked) that people in US Eastern time zone assume everyone knows they mean eastern and people in Central always say CT because they they’re not winning that battle. The podcast didn’t make a point about Pacific but Pacific and Eastern have the vast majority of the population.

      I live in Central and work for the US government so Eastern certainly has primacy with much smaller numbers in Mountain and Pacific time zones. You easily learn to specify the time zone in emails (usually ET) when you have to and the meeting software converts everyone’s calendar into their own time zone. We only have employees in 4 time zones (except for that one time I worked with someone in Hawaii who go up very early every day) so it becomes second nature quickly.

      I think anyone who deals with it regularly comes to understand and account for it fairly quickly in their job.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Yeah, I think there’s something to this. I’m in ET and almost all of my career has only been in the North or Midwest (the part that’s ET) and I have totally fumbled timezones a few times in the rare occasion I’m working with someone outside my region. I think others are more mindful of it. Certainly if you’re working in an international company it’s very top of mind!

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’m based in the UK and as part of my side hustle do a lot of work interviewing people based in the US. I’m always really clear to say in the initial planning emails “I’m free Thursday from 2 PM to 5 PM GMT (9 AM to 12 noon CST)” or similar, because more than once a PR hasn’t said what time zone and I’ve been trying to work out if I’m doing the interview in the late afternoon for me or when I’d normally be going to bed.

      Sending a Zoom invite is less tricky because that changes the time zone for you (assuming you have your time zone set for your location), but it’s those early “does X time work for you?” type messages where I think you need to be specific.

  4. Educator*

    LW3, I agree that it is not an issue to fail to convert the time zones, but it can be rude not to at least check the time zones. I once had an interviewer ask to meet with me at 6:00 in the morning my time, which was a perfectly reasonable hour in her time zone, but a bit of an early start for me. Fortunately, she was appropriately horrified when I replied to confirm the time and listed it in both our time zones. Since that funny experience, I always list the time in both my zone and the other person’s zone as a check to myself that I am not inadvertently creating an unreasonable expectation.

    1. Lab Lady*

      My location is suggested in my e-mail address after the @ and indicated clearly in my signature — but I’m very aware of the time difference when communicating with people in New York, so I always include the time zone. It doesn’t always help.

      A couple of months ago I had a discussion scheduled with in-house counsel (regarding a patent application we were doing) I’m on the west-coast, they are on the east-coast.

      Counsel: Please send me your meeting availability for Mon, Tue, Wed

      Monday: Available 10 am – 12 noon PT (1pm – 3pm ET) and after 3pm PT (6pm ET)
      Tuesday: Available 8:30 am – 11 am PT (11:30- 2 pm PT) and after 3 pm PT (6pm ET)
      Wednesday ….

      Counsel: OK here’s a meeting marker -> [** Meeting marker for Outlook arrives for 12 noon PT 3pm ET**]

      Me: Unfortunately I am unavailable 12 PT (3 ET), but I could do earlier or later – the availability I sent over is still good – is there any other time that works for you?

      Counsel: I’m not sure why the meeting is showing up as 12-3 in your calendar, I asked for an hour. You should check your calendar settings to see if somethings wrong, but I sent you a meeting marker for 3 for an hour

      Me: Thanks, but 3pm in New York is 12 noon on the west coast, where I am, and I am unavailable at that time — do you have any other time available?

      Counsel: Here’s a meeting marker for 1 [** Meeting marker for Outlook arrives for 10 am PT 1pm ET**]

      TBH I’m worried about the patent application, but I also 100% don’t want to be in charge of the details of the patent process so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I’d be worried too – reading comprehension may be THE most important skill for a patent attorney. How did the meeting go?

        1. Lab Lady*

          Frustrating – nice enough person, but I definitely felt like reading comprehension was a challenge, like they read the first half of the sentence for our tech disclosure and guessed at the second half.

          I’m not betting my retirement on this particular patent making anyone any money

      2. TheSüperflüoüsUmlaüt*

        As a career-long worker in the patent profession, this pains me deeply!

        1. Lab Lady*

          I know, they aren’t all like this. I’ve worked on two other patents with different teams, and usually they are so detailed-oriented it drives me up the wall (in the nicest of ways, because I totally recognize that it is their job)

      3. That'sNotMyName*

        I know a patent attorney who is brilliant at his work but we’re otherwise mystified how he made it this far into adulthood. Wonder if it is the same person. To be clear, I’m not asking for their info, but it would be funny if it is the same attorney.

      4. The Person from the Resume*

        That guy was certainly fully self-centered and lacked reading comprehension. Probably barely skimmed your message.

        … but as I mentioned above my organization’s bias is for ET to have primacy so based on that SOP I wondered why you bother to even to write out the PT availablity in the message and especially put it first when you are just listing your availabilty for him to set up a meeting.

        1. Lab Lady*

          1) Not a male person – I was careful not to include gender because it didn’t matter for the story.
          2) I’m in PT, I’m going to make mistakes if I try to convert directly from my calendar to ET. So I write in PT then go back and translate (with the added bonus that a normally observant colleague will actually pick up on any consistency error that I make so we can double check together.)

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      This wasn’t for an interview but at a previous job, someone I needed to connect with outside my organization consciously asked if I could take a call at 6:30 a.m. my time. They didn’t misunderstand the time zone, they were just oblivious to how unreasonable this was. Fortunately I found a more reasonable time.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Oof. Yeah, I’ve got a few clients at work where we have 3 hour differences and have had to make really awkwardly timed calls before but those have always been in near-emergency settings with a deadline days or hours away and we all acknowledge that it’s an unideal situation.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I’m in Europe (mostly…) but work a lot with Asia and the US (mostly Eastern and Central but can be as far as Alaska).
          When I work from home, I often work 7 am – noon and then 3pm onwards my time; that gives me reasonable overlap with Asia in the morning and the US in the afternoon – and a long lunch break for chores and sometimes a nap.
          When working from the office, I have way less overlap; maybe an hour each with Asia and US Central (as I can’t take the long break in any way that’s useful for me; our office norms do not include setting up an army cot at my open-plan desk and taking a nap.)

          1. rolly*


            I live in New York and work with people all around the globe. There will be “rough” times for calls. We try to share the load and move the pain around. It’s that or don’t have meetings.

            And yes, we have fewer meeting than we would if we were closer to each other. But sometimes they’re necessary, and not just for emergencies.

      2. TechWorker*

        I am in the U.K. and meet with people in PT regularly – most are reasonable and will try to schedule at the start of their day (so there’s a lot of meetings at 5pm, and that can be pushed to 6 or 7 if need be. Once someone put in a meeting at 9pm my time (not an urgent one, only about 4 of us, no senior execs with really tight calendars..). When someone else pointed out it was 9pm for me (the invite went out when I was asleep ;)) she was like ‘yea, and??’ in this super aggressive way. I did not attend the 9pm meeting.

        (I’ve also been scheduled to run training at 1.30am my time – which I managed to fob off onto someone in a timezone where it was in their working day – but this was part of day long training that has to cover ‘all’ timezones with only two slots. So apparently impossible to move or schedule around presenter timezones).

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and work weird times. Full-day remote audits 6 hours away, for example – I’ll start at 3pm (9am for the auditee) and finish at 11pm or midnight. The other way round, my US colleagues have to start their day at 2am when we remotely audit a client in Europe.
          It’s just the same as if we’d do it on site, just without the travel, really.

          1. TechWorker*

            Except it’s really not the same! I get that it’s a good way around it if there’s no other option – and hopefully if you’re working a full shifted day you’re not also expected to be available during your working hours. But working in another timezone can be reaaally tough socially and for your bodyclock – I’m sure it’s ok for some people, but if I have the choice of ‘be completely away for 2 weeks’ or ‘get up at 2am for 2 weeks, have a totally shitty weekend, & miss out on exercise and socialising due to messed up sleep schedule, I’d really rather travel. That won’t be the same for everyone and obviously the environment comes into it… but I hope we don’t end up with shifted schedules as the default option for working closely with other timezones.

      3. Zennish*

        In my oddly spent youth, for a short while I ran a fan club for a sci-fi actor based in London. I had to call their office at 5:00 am my time to catch them in the late morning their time. They often seemed annoyed because I was a little out of it on the phone…

      4. Curmudgeon in California*

        During my last job search I would get boiler room recruiters calling me at 6 am Pacific. I got so mad about being woken up that I ended up putting a “do not disturb” time on my phone, even though my mother is elderly and lives in another state, so I might miss emergency calls about her. I have allow-listed her phone number, but I don’t know any of the others that might call.

    3. DyneinWalking*

      I was going to mention the same. My boyfriend works at a big company with offices and clients all over the world – not checking what the time would be for the invited person(s) can result in asking someone to be available in the wee morning hours. Which could, to my knowledge, always be resolved once it was mentioned, but usually the recipient of such meeting requests would be pretty miffed. It’s ok and even a bit funny if it only happens occasionally, but definitely not something you want to overlook on the regular.

      I guess for an interview where most people come from a more local area it’s understandable if you forget to check, but if you care about making a good impression and the time zones are further apart I’d say it’s always best to check that it’s a reasonable time for everyone involved (at least, as much as that’s possible – a meeting with people from America, Europe and Asia will require some compromises no matter what).

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Timeanddate.com has a very useful International Meeting Planner in their Time Zones menu. Select the places you want to participate, the date, and it will show you a color-coded synopsis of regular working hours, “boundary” hours, and times where people usually are asleep. It knows about the various daylight savings time rules so that’s why it needs the date, especially in autumn and spring.

        1. NforKnowledge*

          This! I always doublecheck on timeanddate before scheduling a meeting with someone a few timezones away. Especially at this time of year, who knows where daylight savings has and hasn’t been applied!

        2. Cranky lady*

          I’ve actually started including the link to the meeting planner chart for the date of the event with a bunch of relevant/common time zones. Saying 4pm EDT, 20:00 UTC was still confusing people. Part of the problem is that people often use EST year round when they really mean EDT.

          1. That'sNotMyName*

            That’s why a lot of people just leave out the S or D and just use ET, CT, MT, and PT. I used to use UTC on a regular basis with regular work in Norther America and across Europe. Now that I haven’t used it in years, I find it very confusing.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              I get confused about when to use “EDT” vs “EST” so now I just say something like 2 pm eastern.

                1. Hlao-roo*

                  Fine in the vast majority of cases, but be aware that Arizona and Hawaii are on standard time all year round (they do not change their clocks for daylight saving time), and if you send a message with EST when you mean EDT to someone in Arizona or Hawaii, they might convert the time incorrectly if they forget that most of the other states are on daylight time and take you at your word.

                2. Butterfly Counter*

                  (Where on the East Coast do they not have Daylight Savings Time? Because it’s still EDT here for a few more days…)

                3. doreen*

                  I’m not sure of anyplace in the US – but I was in Cozumel two weeks ago on a cruise and had to change the time from EDT to EST. No time change when I previously visited in February. I think there may be places in Canada and the Caribbean as well.

                4. rolly*

                  If the other person knows you’re in ET, then yes, it’s not fine.

                  But if they don’t know, it can cause problems – they might take you literally and things will be an hour off. I’ve seen that happen.

      2. Loredena Frisealach*

        I messed up a few times trying to schedule calls with India as 9.5 hours is just awkward math. I initially tried scheduling them in the evening for me, but they had all time shifted a bit and it was too early for them. We ended up settling on morning for me, early evening/dinner time for them and they didn’t seem bothered by it, but I hated asking that of them on Friday! When I worked with Vietnam we had twice a days 12 hours a part (so 9am/9pm) – they rarely made my morning calls but I honestly don’t mind evening ones.

        What I loathed was when calls were scheduled for 6 or 7am my time, as I’d much rather stay late – but I couldn’t grumble too much when the scheduler was on Pacific time!

    4. Well...*

      My philosophy with time zones is that they are hard even when everyone is trying thier best, so I don’t relegate them to any one party’s “responsibility.” I just always try to clarify/check time zones no matter what end I’m on, and if I don’t have enough info, I ask.

      If wires get crossed, I tend to be pretty forgiving. It happens a lot.

      Also I once had a group of collaborators in CA, UK, and Japan, making us a perfect 8 hours apart, evenly splitting the 24 hour day. I took a lot of midnight meetings during that project.

    5. Staja*

      I work with a worldwide team, supporting colleagues in APAC, EMEA and all the US from the East Coast. If I hold meetings or trainings for the people I support, I run them at 5amET and noon ET, to cover as many time zones as possible with disturbing as few people’s schedules as possible (except my own!)

    6. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Also important is knowing what EST vs CST means.

      I’m CST and most of my coworkers are on the east coast. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to tell people it’s only an hour difference not three. I understand they are trying to be sensitive to my time zone, but know what the difference actually is.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        That’s odd that people don’t know that. You would think with TV show times, we should all be used to is (7 PM eastern/6 PM central).

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          You would think. The most frustrating was my first day. You weren’t given access to log in to anything until you met with IT. It was originally scheduled for 8am CST, which totally fine, and I had meetings with HR and my boss later that morning. Then the Friday afternoon before the IT person changed it to 1pm to “accommodate my time zone” I replied that the original time was perfectly fine, but by then she was gone for the day. I literally could not do anything until then, so my first day I basically just waited until 1pm and had to reschedule all my other meetings. My boss was totally understanding and it wasn’t a big deal. It just baffles me that so many people have issues understanding time zones.

        2. rolly*

          “You would think with TV show times, ”

          Me in very serious voice: “I don’t own a television”

      2. BatManDan*

        Well, until this weekend, only a very few counties / regions are on “S” time- almost all of the US is on “D” time – it’s correct to put EDT / CDT / MDT / PDT attached to your time notes, since we are on Daylight Savings Time (or leave the “S” or “D” out altogether). (Side rant – let’s get rid of Daylight Savings Time completely, please.)

        1. Loredena Frisealach*

          I get the S versus D wrong so very often! I really just want to ditch the change – just pick one!

        2. Cranky lady*

          Mexico “permanently” dropped DST last weekend. Things will be interesting when DST starts in most of the US again next spring.

        3. Sophia*

          Yes!! Although you do get a lot of people who don’t know the difference – when I used to use EDT and CDT, people would be like “did you mean EST/CST?” And then I ended up looking like the person who didn’t know what they were doing! So I wound up dropping the S/D and now I just use ET/CT.

        4. Butterfly Counter*

          You can pry DST out of my cold dead hands! I need my evening sunlight! I would, however, be amenable to drop standard time forever and just stay on DST.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            I really don’t GAF which we go with, as long as we stop changing every 6 months!! You could even split the difference for all I care, just leave it the same all year round!

      3. bicality*

        What’s also somewhat annoying to me is that some people take not knowing time zones as a norm, to the point that people will start a meeting with small talk – “what time is it there?? oh haha how bizarre!! You just had breakfast, and I’m about to start lunch!”

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, I vote for 1) including your time zone in the email as Alison said and let them convert but also 2) now that you have thought about this it would be nice to try to be generally aware of time zones enough to not set up meetings at times that would be unreasonable for the other person.

    8. SingingIntoTheRaine*

      I’m an Exec Assistant and have worked at firms that have multiple global offices. The timezone conundrum is real (ever tried scheduling a meeting for participants in Sydney, London, Vancouver and New York? Someone’s getting up early/staying up late). I always take the iniative and post the timezones and dates for all the parties I’m speaking with. I think it’s just a good practice and usually sorts out any confusion right up top. If your job involves a lot of scheduling, I think this is something small that you can take ownership of that ends up having a solid impact.

    9. Melanie Cavill*

      Agreed. I recently went through the gauntlet of job hunting on the opposite coast. To pre-empt any confusion and make things as seamless as possible, I always listed my availability in the time zone I wanted to move to and made sure to add the zone-specific qualifier (so if I was available at 6PM EST, I’d just say 3PM PST). I didn’t think of it as responsibility so much making things a bit simpler right out of the gate. Job hunting is hard enough! Why add time zone confusion into the mix unnecessarily?

    10. Shhhh*

      There was one point when I was co-chairing a national committee in my professional organization and had committee members in almost every US time zone (we had someone in Anchorage, which is in the Alaska Time Zone, but no one in the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone). I definitely got in the habit of listing out all of the time zones when scheduling meetings – I didn’t send them to the full group every time, but it was a helpful exercise to keep what I was asking for in mind since I’m in the eastern US.

  5. Passionfruit Tea*

    LW5 I’d send one last friendly email asking them about the position. You can only win, you already got a no.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I don’t think the email has the possibility of being a “win” though — it’s not like they forgot about LW or like a check-in email will in any way make it more likely for them to get an offer.
      The only upside would be possibly getting some information along the lines of “you’re not out of the running, it’s just taking a while for us to schedule the next round of interviews”

    2. El+l*

      No. There are many reasons why a company would do a second-round high-level interview for a position, and then ghost OP.

      None of them are good for OP.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        The only possibility I could think of is some technical glitch ie the company thinks they’ve reached out to LW, LW didn’t get the message, so they think LW ghosted *them*.

        But that’s a remote possibility. If LW wants to cover their bases, and they have some alternate communication path – ie a different email or the messaging app w/in the job board, application app – they could reach out once to check the status of their application.

        But honestly, the most likely scenario is the company posted an open position and either none of the candidates fit the bill or they realized during the search process that they needed to retool something about the position and so they are reopening the search. And they don’t want to send the “thanks but no thanks” responses to candidates until they’ve filled the position, leaving everyone in limbo in the meantime. In an ideal world the employer might reach out to let people they’ve interviewed know … something. But from all evidence available, we do not live in an ideal world.

  6. Jade Rabbit*

    OP#2. Encourage her all the way. Support her belief that she was done wrong and leaving would show the bosses what a mistake they made. Pass on ads for jobs to her and tell her if present company doesn’t want to promote her, these ones will. Get on her side 100%. Be her cheerleader in her job search. Wish her luck for every interview. “You deserve better after the way they treated you!”

    She’ll believe it. You’ll believe it. And everyone will live happily ever after. (From my limited experience of doing this, anyway.)

      1. Educator*

        Make sure you do it quietly. As a manager, if I learned that one of my team members was trying to get another to leave, I would be concerned about the potentially departing employee feeling pushed out, and the encouraging employee undermining the success of the current team. Hopefully, neither of those things would be happening and I would just be able to celebrate the fact that my team members encourage each other to grow, but I would definitely investigate it, especially given the tense context.

        Applying for a promotion and not getting it is really, really normal, and your coworker’s reaction is not. Be careful what you validate in a public way.

        1. Jade Rabbit*

          I didn’t mention to do this privately, i.e. one-to-one, as I thought it obvious. But you reminded me that not everyone could think the same way.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          If LW’s manager was as on top of things as you are, and as concerned about the success of the current team, they wouldn’t be entirely absent from the LW’s post. And they would have dealt with the malcontent’s inappropriate behavior already.

          But if they have let that go on and on to the extent that it’s already negatively impacting the current team AND ALSO crack down on anyone trying to get the problem person to leave? In that situation, forget the crankface, LW themselves should be actively job hunting to get away from all of them.

          1. Observer*

            But if they have let that go on and on to the extent that it’s already negatively impacting the current team AND ALSO crack down on anyone trying to get the problem person to leave? In that situation, forget the crankface, LW themselves should be actively job hunting to get away from all of them.

            Yes. Totally.

      2. Sandi*

        I have done this, and would recommend a few suggestions:

        Do not say that the bosses made a mistake and that she was wronged. She sounds like someone who might tell that to others when she yells or complains, and you want to be subtle when doing this.

        In the moment when they are upset I have used variations on the line “You sound like you’re not happy here. You know from several years of experience that the managers won’t change. Have you looked at other options?” Then you can send a few strong job postings on bcc (so she doesn’t know that they are only sent to her) starting with “Please share if you know of anyone who might be interested”. Send at most one every couple weeks, and ideally for jobs with pay that is equivalent or more to what she would have had.

        It worked for me several times. I didn’t push them, but it gave them the idea to look at other options. They were unhappy people who were constantly complaining and they never wanted to do anything to improve the workplace. I got tired of it and in the end they are much happier in their new jobs.

      3. Fluffy Fish*

        My child is 22 and Jade is spot on – she always knew I was on here side. It’s always tricky trying to figure out when to challenge their beliefs and when to just roll with them.

        This is one of this roll with them – there’s nothing to be gained by encouraging her to stay but there is potentially something to lose.

        I’d even add on that it’s teaching moment about boundaries with toxic people that hurt us – your daughters self preservation instinct is a good one. So often girls are socialized to suck it up or they have to be “nice”. You’ve clearly done a great job because that’s not her reaction. Both of you deserve praise for that.

        1. desdemona*

          I think you replied to the wrong thread – this one is about the coworker who keeps complaining and making everyone miserable.

      4. tamarack and fireweed*

        TBH when she snaps at people, it would be quite appropriate to follow up with “Please don’t snap at people. On this note, you’ve been pretty short-tempered for a while now, and I understand why. But it’s hard on the rest of us. You have a great skill set that’s in high demand. If you are going to be constantly disgruntled about working here, I just want to point out that you have options elsewhere.”

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I have done this and it totally worked. She’s doing great and we felt like a dementor had left the building.

      1. Jade Rabbit*

        Exactly. The other person gets to feel good about themselves again and they can get to thrive in their new environment.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I saw a boss in another department do this at an old job – it didn’t ultimately work, as far as I know she’s still there, but it actually helped the employee’s morale to feel like there were people around her who wanted to see her succeed.

      That was not quite the spirit the encouragement was given in, to my understanding, but good outcomes are good outcomes.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        If it’s the boss doing it, that’s nasty. The person should be fired rather than encouraged to leave.
        Here, if I’ve understood correctly, the Moaner is OP’s peer, so it’s perfectly appropriate for OP to suggest job openings.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Given the description of how the unhappy coworker has been acting, I’m astonished that she hasn’t been fired yet. I’d be discreet about seeming to push her to move on, though, in case the bosses would interpret it as OP being a problem.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I strongly suspect unhappy coworker is not as easily hireable as OP2 thinks. If she’s that unpleasant to deal with, she may be applying elsewhere and not getting other jobs because of her personality.

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      This is a good plan. You acknowledge that she feels slighted/wronged, and then suggest that the grass might be greener elsewhere. Point out that she isn’t stuck, that she has skills and you want her to be happy and successful.

      In the past, when people have expressed that they are unhappy and want to move on, I have done my best to help them find something that suits them better. I’m not a manager, but I can still cheerlead for their career.

  7. Catherine*

    OP1, it’s also worth considering how asking your daughter to stay in a miserable situation will impact her ability to trust your advice going forward.

    I had parents who were big on the “sticking it out and never quitting” thing, making me grit my teeth through physical pain or take on extra emotional/mental stress through exposure to bullies, who swore it would teach me endurance and determination that would serve me as an adult. This kept me in both jobs and relationships where I accepted poor treatment because I thought I had some duty to endure it.

    Imagine my surprise when I finally learned that as an adult, my power was the autonomy to walk away. Sometimes that’s had some consequences I don’t like (like losing mutual friends after dumping an abusive ex), or taken longer than I liked–after two years of job hunting I’ve got something new and am finally leaving a miserable job where I was physically and mentally bullied by my supervisor. But as an adult, I had the full right to evaluate the consequences of leaving and decide to accept them. Your daughter is growing into that autonomy, and should be allowed to practice exercising it in low-stakes situations now so that she’s able to think critically if she faces similar situations in the future.

    Being able to exercise my power to walk away was dramatically important to my mental health and my ability to frame myself as an active agent in my own life. And one of the relationships I wound up walking away from was with my parents, because their lessons about “sticking it out” were actively counterproductive to me developing the ability to take care of myself. We’re low-contact now because they still think that leaving a job or relationship because the other party exercised social manipulation or threw a tantrum is some kind of moral weakness, and I think that the entire point of becoming an adult was gaining the power to leave a bad situation.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Amen. It’s not “being a quitter” to step out of / avoid / leave an untenable situation. You’re allowed to do that, instead of ducking and dodging and beating your head against the wall about how to make it better or different. You’re also allowed to put your mental and emotional (and physical) health first and protect yourself. Try to improve things if you can, but if you can’t improve them, you can go, with a clear conscience.

      This young lady can find a different job.

      (Also, as I mentioned downstream, LW2’s coworker needs to be told this same thing.)

    2. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

      This, so much this. I was going to write such a comment but this one is better than mine would have been so I will simply agree emphatically.

    3. Pennyworth*

      My niece was persuaded by her mother to stick out ballet school after she had decided she didn’t want to continue, and it has adversely affected her life. She is a good dancer but her heart wasn’t in it, and she missed the chance to go to university (she was a top student), and has had a succession of low paying jobs based on her physical training. Don’t waste your youth doing something you know you hate.

      1. UsedToBeaDancer*

        I do think it’s ok for parents to encourage sticking with things for a shorter period though – I wanted to quit ballet when I was about 11 and my mum wouldn’t let me/said ‘just stick it out for the rest of the year and if you still want to quit you can’. Okay, so in the end I got injured at 19 and did not become a professional dancer.. but I got some of the way there and quitting ballet would have made it very hard to catch up. By the end of the year I was enjoying it again & I’m very grateful she didn’t just let me quit immediately.

        (That’s not really equivalent to ballet *school* – but it’s easy to be led by the outcome).

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, that’s basically how my mother did it too and I think that is fair. “You want to do x activity. Well, do it for at least a month and then you can decide whether you want to quit or not.”

          Kids sometimes want to quit on a whim – the activity is harder than they thought or they have an argument with one of the other kids or the teacher/coach gave out to them for messing about or they have gotten really into a video game or something and want more time for it – and it’s worth encouraging them to try a bit longer and see if they still feel the same way (though I wouldn’t advise this to LW1 as it seems like Apollo could use that time to manipulate the daughter into changing her mind).

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          My kids are at the age of doing a lot of activities, and for me it’s very individual to the kid and the situation. Is the desire to quit just about not liking the activity? Something interpersonal? Having trouble pushing through frustration? Being overscheduled or wanting to spend that time slot doing something else?

          We’re usually “stick it out for the season/class series/session you signed up for” people, but that’s definitely not always the right answer.

          1. Chestnut Mare*

            I teach riding lessons, and I’ve had more than a few students who don’t really like it but only show up because of parental pressure. I see a lot of parents living vicariously through their kids, because it’s something the parent wanted as a child and didn’t get to do it, so they want their children to have the opportunity. I’ve gained a bunch of adult students by explaining that horses are a great avenue to a happy childhood, no matter how old you are now.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Oh, wow, I love that! It’s never too late to learn a new skill! Will you be as amazing at it as some kid who’s been doing it since they were five? Probably not, but you will still enjoy it and get a lot out of it.

              I’ve played a specific musical instrument since I was six, went to grad school for it, and when the pandemic hit I started teaching myself a similar but different instrument (same family of instruments, different way of playing) and while I *know* I will never become proficient at it in the way that I am at my main instrument, I’m enjoying getting a different perspective on music that I know so well, in playing a different part. My main dilemma now is that people pay me to play my main instrument and if I want to play this new instrument with other people I’m going to have to find people to play with who a) won’t pay me for it and b) won’t mind that I’m quite dreadful at it, technically speaking. :-D

          2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            My mother used to say that one of my most annoying habits was deciding I didn’t want to continue with something after they’d paid for the next term’s lessons. This pleased no one, because she didn’t make me practice, because who wants a resentful tuba player about the house?

            1. Kit*

              I’ll be honest, a resentful tuba player might be pretty entertaining if they decided to passive-aggressively troll the other residents by playing the Baby Elephant March!

              Now, a resentful flautist? That’s a recipe for pain all ’round.

          3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            My parents always asked me why I wanted to quit before letting me quit and asked me if I actually wanted to be good at the activity. If my reason was along the lines of something being hard/other kids were better they asked me to stick it out a little longer. If it was that I was tone deaf and couldn’t tune my flute, they’d let me quit with an option to come back later. If it was a person making me want out, we’d look at options if I wanted to stick with it. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but now I look back and I never felt pushed and ended up only doing things I liked, whether I was good at it or not (I still can’t tune my flute)

    4. Ellis Bell*

      As someone who has wasted a lot of time on things I didn’t want to quit, I really think kids should be taught how and when to quit! I’m a teacher, so I fully understand how essential perseverance and resilience is to success, (and how it becomes the motto of people raising young ‘uns) but there are situations no one should tolerate, and there are others which aren’t bad, but aren’t absolutely necessary either. This job is neither tolerable or necessary.

      1. Shorter days, less light*

        Fully agree.

        “Perseverance” and “resilience” in emotionally (or physically) unsafe environments will trap you and eat you alive.

      2. Constance Lloyd*

        Yes! I joined band in 5th grade because I was told I had to. I was then never allowed to quit, because I had made a commitment… at age 10. I played the clarinet all through high school but I’m still not convinced I ever truly learned how to read sheet music, and because I was so busy with band I didn’t have the chance to try out other activities I might have like better. I wasn’t miserable by any means but I don’t think I benefitted from sticking it out.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Ugh, stories like this make me so sad. I’m sorry you were put through this. When I was a music teacher I tried to keep an eye on my students’ well-being and see if they still seemed interested in playing. I definitely recommended to the parents of at least two students and possibly more that their kid did not seem interested in music lessons anymore and that they should allow the kid to quit and find a new activity they would enjoy better. I was saddened to learn that one of the parents, who had told me right from the get-go that their kid was only taking lessons because the mom wanted her to, went ahead the next year and signed the kid up for lessons on a different instrument. :-( It’s supposed to be fun, parents! If the kid is not having fun, let the kid do something else!)

          For a job it’s a little different in that sometimes you just can’t leave and jobs definitely are not always (ever?) supposed to be fun, but quitting is *always* an option if the reasons are sound.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I was my poor music teacher’s nightmare. Very, very, very enthusiastic! I wanted to play all the things. I am 100% tone deaf. Flat, sharp, in tune all sound the same to me, so I was enthusiastically terrible despite all of his efforts. Sorry Mr. B for something like 8 years of torture

        2. doreen*

          I will say that I was a ” you can’t quit, you made a commitment” type – but only for things where the commitment would actually affect others ( or me) , only for a short period of time and only if it was ” I don’t like it anymore” . So you can’t quit the bowling team half-way through the season and leave your teammates short a bowler. You can’t quit the swimming lessons that I already paid for three months in advance. But you can quit anything if either someone is treating you badly or no one is depending on you – if quitting the track team just means the team will have four people in an event rather than five , quit whenever you want.

      3. BethDH*

        And “letting them quit” doesn’t have to mean there’s no discussion. I would probably walk my kid though figuring out the factors and the (good and bad) consequences, even if I strongly suspected their calculation would lead to them quitting.

    5. anon24*

      This is good advice. My parents were also the “you can never ever quit type”. Interestingly enough this did not result in me growing up to be a determined, stick through anything adult. Nope, as a young adult I would take anything and stick through it all no matter what, but once I got the maturity to realize I had the autonomy to say no and to walk away from a situation I don’t like it’s like all the steel left my soul and now I’m bailing at the first signs of difficulty or adversity. It has… not served me well. I wish my parents would have just taught me a healthy balance and healthy boundaries instead.

      1. I should be working*

        It’s a great opportunity to help the daughter learn to weigh the pros and cons of a situation. And also when to trust her instincts. Very important. How many of us have ignored our instincts about a situation because it didn’t seem logical or justifiable, only to learn we should have trusted that inner voice in the first place?

        It sounds like the consequences of leaving this job would be minimal to her. Please don’t push her to stick with it “just because”.

    6. Well...*

      Yes! Knowing I can just say no and stop doing something is the most important life lesson I ever learned, and I had to teach myself.

      The message of, “just tough it out” is everywhere in our society (probably because it’s easy to exploit people by selling this as a quality of inner strength). Believe me she knows this message.

      The message of, “doing a job serves my ultimate life happiness and I can opt out when that’s not happening” is far more rare and gives you more power and independence in your own life.

      Same goes for relationships.

    7. bamcheeks*

      Fully agree with this. When I was nineteen, I phoned my mum in tears because my (short-staffed) work had scheduled me for an evening shift to 11pm or whenever the last people leave on New Year’s Eve, and then a double shift in New Year’s Day (9-4, an hours break, 5-close.) I can’t tell you the relief when she said, “you can just quit you know, it’s easy to find another waitressing job.” I can’t tell you what a relief it was to know that was and OK option, and that I didn’t owe it to any higher authority to stay in a job that was making me miserable.

    8. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Very well said. I’ve being called a “loser” because walking away from toxic work and/or social relationships is seen as a character flaw. There is an school of thought that you have to fight for everything and never give up because life is supposed to be “hard work”.

    9. ecnaseener*

      Yes! Teaching her that she’s always allowed to leave is really important and will serve her well. Help her weigh the pros and cons of leaving or staying, but get clear on the fact that her well-being is hugely more important than her “commitment,” such as it is, to an at-will job.

    10. Chilipepper Attitude*

      So beautifully said Catherine!!

      Instead of pushing me to finish the piano lessons my mom had already paid for, she and the teacher switched it up to voice lessons. It taught me you can change things, you don’t have to stick to something you don’t want to do.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This is along the lines of what we’re doing with oldest kid. They signed up for band, and it’s okay but they aren’t convinced this is the instrument for them (for reference, they are doing flute because we already owned one because I played flute). We told them the school won’t let us change now – but you are welcome to try a new instrument next year.

        It’s about keeping a commitment when you make one – but also about giving things a try for a set amount of time before changing.

        In OP1’s place – from a comment they made daughter wants to try because they don’t want to feel that Apollo ran them away from something else; but that they as the parent plan on keeping tabs on the situation. Sounds like they have raised a strong and determined kids willing to look out for themselves.

    11. londonedit*

      Yeah, I can understand the OP’s impulse to make sure her daughter isn’t doing the stereotypical teenage ‘yeah I didn’t like it so I quit’ thing – but it doesn’t sound like that’s what this is. It sounds like working with Apollo is genuinely going to cause major issues, and in that case I think a better lesson is definitely ‘you don’t have to put yourself in a horrible situation just because it’s your job’.

    12. Dinwar*

      I think the issue is understanding WHY someone wants to quit. There’s a huge gulf between wanting to quit because something is a little more difficult than you expected, and wanting to quit because a situation is genuinely dangerous.

      This idea has played out in the workforce before. When health and safety started being a Thing at jobsites people objected on the grounds that “I’m big and tough and can handle it.” It took a lot of work and some major cultural changes to convince people that losing a finger or a hand or a foot due to hazardous equipment wasn’t “tough”, it was freaking stupid. People who advocated for increased safety procedures and equipment were accused of being wusses and the like. There’s still a very strong undertone of “Those office boys don’t know how us real workers do our jobs, how dare they tell us what to do?” What finally convinced employers to push safety (and it’s a historical fact that a surprising amount of pushback came from workers) was a number of case studies showing that safety equipment, while expensive up front, made the work better, faster, and cheaper on the back end.

      We’re seeing the same pattern here. The situation is obviously dangerous, but the worker is told to “Tough it out, don’t be a wuss”. The affects of having toxic people in the workplace are more subtle than “Dude lost an arm last week”, but no less dangerous. Ignoring the psychological impacts (and we ABSOLUTELY should not), forcing workers to be in a toxic environment–even if it’s “merely” interpersonal toxicity–causes distractions, fatigue, and rushing. Add complacency to this and you’ve got the root causes for something like 90-99% of all injuries and incidents. Forcing people to work with toxic coworkers is BEGGING for someone to get hurt. Don’t assume office environments are excluded from this. I work in a Fortune 200 company that routinely does things like UXO and hazmat cleanup, and fully 50% of our recordable injuries happen in offices (trips, falling down stairs, dropping things on your foot, that sort of thing).

      This necessarily means that if you force your children to work with toxic coworkers, you’re volunteering your children to get hurt. At best they’re harmed emotionally/psychologically. At worst, they’re harmed emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

      1. Boof*

        Yes – it’s tempting to think we have control over bad things and “just don’t do [x] “stupid thing” and the [terrible injury] won’t happen”, but the fact is if you are doing something full time it’s incredibly easy to have a small lapse (even if it’s only .1% of the time, if you are doing the thing hundreds of times a year for years, odds start looking not so hot!) and if the consequence is a horrific injury/death, better safety equipment just makes a lot more sense.
        But back to op- lw sounds like you have a good strategy just make sure your daughter knows it’s ok to walk away to protect themselves if needed. Agree it may be worth giving their manager a calm and factual heads up.

    13. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      It took me a long time and a lot of suffering to learn that it is sometimes ok to quit and walk away. I don’t blame my parents for this, since they were always supportive when I did decide to walk away (and usually relieved). It was just something in me. But you are definitely right that the autonomy to walk away is a huge source of one’s power in life. Like all sources of power, it should be used with discretion, but it should be used when the situation calls for it.

  8. Esmeralda*

    OP 1: this is going to sound harsh, but it’s such a serious situation that I think harshness is warranted.

    Your daughter wants to quit in order to protect herself emotionally and psychologically, possibly also physically? I think your daughter is smart to take care of herself this way.

    You seem more concerned that your daughter learn to deal with “difficult “ coworkers, than with your daughters desire and *need* to protect herself. You are ok with her putting herself in a painful and distressing situation in the service of some career lesson — a lesson that does not have to be learned here.

    I think you need to support your daughter and you need to do it wholeheartedly. Please do not make your daughter feel she is choosing the easy way or making a lesser choice.

    And btw, if the genders match the names — this is how girls learn that that they’re not allowed to have boundaries, that their fears about mens/boys inappropriate (damaging, dangerous) behavior are not to be taken seriously. Don’t be a parent who teaches her that lesson.

    1. M. from P.*

      I agree – dealing with a former bully is different than dealing with a run-of-the-mill difficult coworker. If this person was truly toxic, working with them again will be damaging to her confidence and sense of security. There’s zero benefit to working with bullies. It’s not the experience anyone needs.

    2. Anne Wentworth*


      There’s working through a personality clash and then there’s exposing yourself to the manipulations of charismatic, toxic people. They’re completely different things. The former is an important learning experience that she’ll likely get that at any first job. Protect her from the latter.

    3. Passionfruit Tea*

      I fully agree if anything had happened but right now all she knows is that she’s heard TA might be working there. Nothing at all has happened, it’s not even confirmed. They’ve not been assigned shifts together either because they’re not even working yet. Giving up all these weeks of training over hearsay is not a smart move.

      1. M. from P.*

        Today, she found out that a very toxic former friend, Apollo, with whom she has some really bad and somewhat traumatic history, has also gotten a job there.

        “A really bad and somewhat traumatic history” means that something bad has already happened, right?
        So are you saying let’s wait until something has happened again and is at least as bad as it had been before?

      2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        It’s always going to be a risk vs reward calculation, right? We don’t know, from this letter, what a “somewhat traumatic” history is, so we don’t know what risk Apollo presents to Artemis. I’d argue LW1 also probably doesn’t know the full extent of that history, unless Artemis is an especially forthcoming teenager.

        I’m guessing that what you see as a realistic risk from Apollo is some light bullying and some verbal fighting. That’s a valid take, and I agree I probably wouldn’t leave a job on the potential for those sorts of outcomes – I’d wait and see what happened. But when I read it, I thought of “somewhat toxic” people who could be hired at my job at my job and I would absolutely quit… So I see the realistic risk from Apollo as assault, abuse, possible legal trouble. I would not wait to see what happened with them; no job is worth that.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, my assumption was something like coercive control, psychological abuse, putting pressure on the daughter to drop other friends/avoid studying, etc to spend time with Apollo and then possibly psychological punishments if she fails to do so or possibly pressuring the daughter to do harmful things like take drugs, drink to excess, skip school, engage in anti-social behaviour, etc.

          I agree we don’t know the full extent of it and teenagers can both exaggerate minor issues and also hide the extent of serious issues, so it is quite possible the LW doesn’t have the full story either.

          But I would not agree that giving up a teenage job because of a danger of psychological harm is not a smart move. Is it possible she might be able to avoid any interactions with Apollo? Sure, though if the mother’s description of Apollo is accurate, I’d say it’s pretty unlikely and that even if they were on different shifts, Apollo would likely find ways to undermine or contact the LW’s daughter, possibly telling other colleagues and backwards version of the story where the daughter abused her in order to turn them against the daughter or even just hanging around after her shift is finished in order to meet the daughter or sending messages through coworkers insisting she was so sorry for how she treated her and “can we please be friends again?” and putting the daughter in a position where if she says no, she looks hard and unflexible in front of coworkers.

          It sounds like this job is not too important. I know teens can need to work, but I think the LW would have mentioned if quitting this job meant her daughter might have to drop out of college or anything like that. So prioritising one’s safety over a job that is likely just for experience and a bit of extra pocket money strikes me as a VERY smart move.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yup. OP1, please trust your daughter’s instincts here. This is not the usual teen high school drama. If she doesn’t feel comfortable working with a manipulative person who will try to get around her boundaries, please, please don’t make her!

    5. KRM*

      Yes! This is not a coworker that simply doesn’t like Artemis, or is a more difficult person who just complains about everything that they’re asked to do for the job and makes your daughter tired of hearing it. This is a person who has already shown themselves to be untrustworthy towards your daughter. There is no worthwhile lesson to be taught here, besides “You need to protect yourself, and if that involves leaving a job and getting a new one where this person isn’t, you can do that”.

    6. OP #1*

      Thanks. I agree with everything above, and I wish I’d made two things clearer in my letter: 1) that I’m not going to push her to stay if she feels unsafe, and 2) she’s currently the one feeling like she’ll be betraying herself if she quits, by letting Apollo drive her away from something she’s otherwise really happy about.

      So I’ll remain in “distant hover” mode, give her space to navigate things, check in with her often, and let her know she’s got both her parents’ support for whatever she ultimately needs/wants to do.

      1. Loredena Frisealach*

        I think this is a good balance. It lets her escape if it proves intolerable, while giving her a chance to fight for something she wants. It’s tricky to keep oneself safe while not letting an abuser (which is what Apollo sounds like) cost you everything that’s good and joyful in your life, even for an adult, so I’m glad you are keeping a close eye!

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Why not also suggest that daughter ask about staying at the training location?

        “Gee, I learned that Apollo has been scheduled to work at the new location, and we’ve got history that I’d prefer not to get into, but I suspect would make it intolerable for me. Is it possible to stay on here instead?”

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yes, I was wondering that too. It’d be tricky to navigate with Demeter since you’d want to be careful Artemis didn’t come across as overly dramatic or a problem employee, but if Artemis is doing well at the training Demeter might be amenable to coming up with a solution that would work that Artemis hadn’t been aware is possible. I’d be curious to hear Alison’s advice on how to take this up with Demeter, but if you have time to search the archives, there are definitely some past posts that you could read that would help give Artemis scripts for speaking with Demeter.

    7. irene adler*

      I agree with this.

      One caveat I’d like to point out (although I do not think this situation warrants this): do not let ‘bad people’ keep you from pursuing what you want in life.

      This situation is low stakes. It’s a first job. There are many other first jobs out there. And women, young women especially, need to know it is perfectly okay to take steps to protect themselves (physically and emotionally) and set boundaries that others must respect.

      If this had been a job of a lifetime, don’t let ‘bad people’ be the reason to pass on it. Look, I don’t know what the tactic would be to deal with such people under these circumstances. And I’m not saying one should subject themselves to bullying or abuse for that dream job. There’s gotta to be ways to neutralize ‘bad people’ – because women have power too! Sure, in this case, Apollo is able to charm people, but that can’t be the sole factor that dictates what happens here. The manager knows the daughter-right (they’ve worked together for a short time?)? That’s got to have influence on the manager too.

      (I’m wary of any ‘charming’ people I meet in life. That is a result of my experiences. Maybe the manager has some life experience in this department too.)

      I had parents of the “tough it out” variety. Their thought was that, as kids, we were deciding way too soon how we felt about any activity we were involved in. On the one hand, this taught me not to let something stand in the way of what I wanted. On the other hand, I was subjected to things that were not okay. A better method would have been to teach a risk-benefit assessment of the situation as reason to stick with something or quit it.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        However, not letting bad people get in your way is a) pretty nuanced and complex and b) not really what’s going on here, assuming there is anywhere else she can work that doesn’t involve abusive ex-friends. Ex-friend isn’t stopping her from going to medical school–he’s an potential hazard at a starter job. He’s not worth that kind of effort if she can go work somewhere else.

        1. irene adler*

          Yes-it is complex. Didn’t intend that it was a simple and straightforward thing to do. IS that what my post implies? Ooops!

          In the OP’s situation, there are many other first-time jobs where Apollo will not be employed. Go get one of those. Don’t ‘tough it out’.

          That’s also why I included “although I do not think this situation warrants this” in my post. I guess that is not appearing in my post. Oh, dear.

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        LW1 commented above and said that she fully supports daughter quitting, but her daughter was upset at the idea because she was excited about the job and this would be one more thing Apollo ruined for her. That was why LW1 was trying to find ways to encourage her if she wanted to keep the job (which came across in her letter like she was trying to push her daughter to keep the job, but that was not the case). As of the comment, the daughter was planning to stay and maintain her boundaries. Also, a friend was just hired at the same location who is familiar with the history between the daughter and Apollo and is supportive of the daughter, so she is feeling more empowered knowing she has an ally.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      Dogalmighty, all of this, especially the part about girls learning that they’re not allowed to have boundaries.

      Let her find a different job. The “learn to deal with difficult coworkers” isn’t the lesson that needs to be learned here. She’s already learned what she needs to learn–that she can’t be responsible for how other people behave and that sometimes the best thing to do is to cut bait and find something else.

    9. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      100% this. OP notes that the experience w/Apollo was *traumatic.* So I’m figuring this goes beyond “the guy who dumped me in freshman year.” FFS, OP1, it’s just a retail job!

    10. Curmudgeon in California*

      And btw, if the genders match the names — this is how girls learn that that they’re not allowed to have boundaries, that their fears about mens/boys inappropriate (damaging, dangerous) behavior are not to be taken seriously. Don’t be a parent who teaches her that lesson.


      Teach your daughter that it is not only okay, but actually right to prioritize her own safety over the perceptions of others.

    11. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      The LW commented above and said she fully supports her daughter if she wants to quit, but the daughter now wants to try to make it work. One big benefit is that the daughter has a friend who just got hired at the same place and the friend knows the history with Apollo and has been very supportive of the daughter. I can see why she feels more comfortable having an ally. But LW1 says she has made it clear that she fully supports her daughter if she wants to walk away. It was just that her daughter was really upset at the idea, was excited about the job, and did not want this to be another thing that Apollo ruined for her.

  9. GammaGirl1908*

    LW2: Just say it already. Out loud. To her face. You don’t need to be gentle; she certainly isn’t being so.

    For me, this is for two reasons.

    1) I absolutely have been pulled aside at work to be told that something that I was saying in an offhanded manner and that I thought was kind of funny was not coming off the way I thought it was. It stung a little bit in the moment, but I am so glad that someone let me know that something I thought wasn’t a big deal was being interpreted poorly, so that I could adjust. If she thinks people aren’t really paying attention or that no one is taking her seriously, she needs to know that this isn’t cute, it’s inappropriate, people hear her, and it needs to stop.

    2) there are a lot of people who seem to think that leaving isn’t an option, and it can help to have someone tell them that they actually can leave. Sometimes people seem to think whatever situation they’re in needs to be saved at all costs, and that isn’t the case. Note, you also see this when people ask for advice about their terrible relationship, and it doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that breaking up with their significant other IS a possibility, and maybe even a necessity. This is the equivalent of telling someone to DTMFA.

    That said, it’s probably the case that she IS looking for a job and just hasn’t found one yet. She might be a little quieter, but she probably is on her way out. Which, fine.

    1. Seal*

      Seconding the last paragraph here. Don’t assume your unhappy coworker isn’t job hunting or otherwise trying to leave. Not to excuse her behavior at work, but having a job search take longer than expected may well be fueling her anger and resentment.

    2. Luna*

      Loving paragraph one, simply because of my being on the spectrum. Sometimes, what I think is no big deal of a comment is considered harsh or rude by others, and I love it when someone tells me that it was. I can learn from this mistake and work on not repeating it.

  10. Aimless and Abstract*

    OP1- teaching her that it’s okay to leave a bad situation is as good of a life lesson as teaching her to stick to a commitment. You don’t want to raise her to stay in a bad situation, do you?
    Have a good discussion about pros/cons and alternatives (Can she stay at the location where she trained? Could she move to another location entirely? Get a different job?) where you listen more than you talk, and then let her make the final decision. If it’s a mistake so what? She’s young and the stakes are low, which is a good time to make mistakes.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      LW1 made a comment on a thread above, and it is not that she was trying to keep her daughter from quitting (the way the letter sounded). It was just that her daughter was really upset about the idea of quitting because she was excited about the job and it would be another thing Apollo ruined. LW1 said she fully supports quitting if that’s what the daughter wants. Fortunately, a a friend of the daughter just got hired at the same place and the friend knows the history with Apollo and has been very supportive of the daughter. Having an ally is a big benefit. So it sounds like the daughter wants to try to make it work with the job. She has an ally, she says she now knows that Apollo is a liar and will be more on her guard/aware, and she plans to maintain her boundaries. That said, LW1 does not object to her choosing to walk away. I think she just wanted to give her daughter options.

  11. Heffalump*

    #4: If Caitlin Bernier was in fact fired for the way she dressed, that seems really unreasonable. I have to wonder why they didn’t just coach her on appropriate dress.

    1. Cat Tree*

      I agree. I never heard of her before today so I can’t comment on that specifically. But as a manager, it seems so foolish to fire someone for a single dress code violation unless it’s something like an extremely problematic t-shirt. Hiring and onboarding is such a pain that I would much rather tell an employee not to wear that shirt again.

      That said, some managers are really unreasonable and will fire people for being a couple of minutes late, or in general for things that are relatively easy to try to fix. So it wouldn’t surprise me if managers out there would fire someone for the dress code; I would just think they’re bad at managing.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I just read an article, so definitely not an expert, but the business’s statement is that they would only fire someone for dress code issues after repeated warnings and also that they double checked and are confident their people handled this correctly. Caitlin Bernier says it was the first incident and also that her shirt was totally fine.

        So somebody is lying. Both have good motives to lie, so I don’t want to guess which one actually is.

    2. Hound Dog*

      I have a feeling they did coach her. It’s said there’s 3 sides to every story – yours, theirs, and the truth. And from what I skimmed this morning, it’s very much still “her” side.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The only time I’ve ever seen somebody be fired for a dress code violation was in their first week on the job.

      At one of my previous libraries, pages (the people who shelve the books after they get returned) had a different dress code than the rest of the staff because their duties are so different. They could wear jeans as often as they wanted, but they were required to wear flat, closed toe shoes and either long pants or skirts that fall at or below the knee. This is because the job requires a lot of bending/squatting/climbing on step stools, and shorter skirts would risk accidental exposure.

      We hired a new page, her supervisor sent her a copy of the dress code and job description, and she showed up on her first day in a mini skirt and four inch heels. Her supervisor gave her another copy of the dress code, explained the rules and the reasons for them, and told her she would not be allowed to work a shift in her current outfit. She went home and was told to come back the next day to make up her missed shift. She came back the next day in another mini skirt and another pair of heels. She was not invited back for more shifts.

      1. Riot Grrrl*

        Yeah, I would not call that a firing for a dress code violation. Well, maybe technically that’s what would have appeared on official paperwork. But in my heart of hearts I would know that that is a firing for obstinance and insubordination. If it wasn’t the dress code, it was going to be something else. That is a person who just doesn’t like to participate in team norms; and that was going to become a problem somewhere at some point no matter what.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I would have canned her for a safety violation. If her job involves climbing on ladders or stepstools then 4″ heels are a definite hazard. She was given the dress code twice. So it was both a safety violation as well as insubordination.

          Note: The safety issue would be there for men wearing heels too (a lot of shorter guys use lifts/heels to get a couple more inches height. Still a hazard.)

    4. EC*

      I think “no visible undergarments” is a perfectly reasonable rule and no adult should need to have it spelled out for them.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        You would think that, but no, people think “fashion” is more important that reason. I have tons I can rant about this, but some of it feels like me being a prude. Still, what’s acceptable attire for going shopping at WalMart and what’s acceptable to wear to an office job are very different. (Shopping on your own time is significantly more casual than even “business casual.”) When you add in safety concerns, looking good takes a back seat to dressed for safety. (Safety gear is notoriously ugly, but easy to see whether it is on and functioning.)

    5. DrRat*

      In the Bernier case, it seems likely that she may have been terminated for her attitude as much as anything else. There are photos in an article in the Western Standard and the top is skin tight, pulling across the back and showing the bra (and bra roll, ugh.)

      But here is part of a quote from her in the article (taken with a grain of salt, of course) of how she reacted when she was told she needed to change clothes or put on a sweater: “I then said that I was not going to change since I felt that my outfit was appropriate and have worn the top days prior as well as for my interview and no one had said anything to me. I also expressed that I was not going to be told by any male to cover up and follow instruction when I know my outfit is fine just because they are somehow ‘uncomfortable’.”

      If your managers tell you that your clothes are inappropriate and you need to change or cover up, and you say no, you should not be surprised when you get terminated.

  12. talos*

    #2 – as a candidate, I really like when there’s an online scheduling system so I can avoid the Time Zone Dance entirely becausd the computer is handling it. Is that an option for you?

    1. LW3*

      We don’t currently use one, and because I actually read those Terms of Service & Privacy Policy documents, I rarely sign up for new services.

      1. LW3*

        To be more clear, there would have to be a pressing need for the new tool to a) expend hours and hours reading the documents and b) agree to the toxic terms spelled out in them. We don’t do enough hiring to warrant it.

        1. WellRed*

          It’s easy enough to just ad ET or whatever to any times your proposing. And when I get an invite, if the time isn’t clear, it’s no big deal to ask. That’s on me.

        2. AnonAnon*

          Yeah, I agree no need to go through all that. My company has employees and clients all around the globe. I’ve gotten used to adding ET to all my meeting proposal emails, even for people who are based in my usual time zone. There’s really no point to spend any extra time or resources on this.

  13. Ranon*

    Op#1- no one gets a prize for choosing to go through life in extra hard mode. People do hard things when they have to, sure, but in this case it seems like the benefits are minimal and the harms potentially pretty big. Heck, another round of job hunting is pretty darn educational too if she wants to look for another option.

    1. Future silver banker*

      Golden. I wish someone had told me this 20 years ago. For a long time, I had a sense of pride that I did things the hard way, with no help… heck even my father boasted that he “hindered” me on purpose… F that. If you have options take them, if you have cards or jokers to play, use them.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      no one gets a prize for choosing to go through life in extra hard mode.
      OH MY GODDESS so much this. Nothing to add, just wanted to highlight it.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I know this needs to be done in a lovely cross stitch pillow. Or printed on coffee mugs so you have to see it every day.

    3. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      I have C-PTSD, severe general and social anxiety disorders, and a hefty amount of chronic pain from injuries and ignoring my own health, all in the name of “toughing it out.” I’ll deal with this damage for the rest of my life. All because of abusive parents and toxic society telling me to “stick with it no matter what, or you’re lazy and weak.” They *should’ve* been telling me to examine all sides of any situation and weigh the potential positive and negative consequences to myself in both short and long term, so I could make the best choices for myself.

    4. Tomato Frog*

      Yeah, it turns out no part of our existence is “practice” for life — it’s all just life.

    5. Jolene*

      “no one gets a prize for choosing to go through life in extra hard mode”
      I give this a million pluses! Perfectly said!

  14. GingerCookie*

    Oh… number 2… you are really an angel… I would have told that hair off a long time ago… someone pulled that in my last job slamming doors and stuff… and i said “oh no honey… thats not what we do here. if you are going to clown… like that… then I’ll tell you exactly … what I think…” Stopped that nonsense… cant be making the others be upset.

    1. Wolf*

      LW2 here. Yes, I’m rather shy and afraid of speaking up against loud and angry people. I’ll have to jump over my shadow and say it.

      1. ABCYaBYE*

        Then absolutely let your manager know what is happening and how it is impacting the rest of the team. Let them have the challenging conversation.

      2. Shirley Keeldar*

        My sympathies–loud, angry people make me freeze up too. One trick I’ve found is to sound super sympathetic, so you’re not speaking up against them, but just saying, “You sound so unhappy here. Are you thinking about leaving?” And then just repeat, repeat, repeat. Good luck, we’re rooting for you!

  15. Caitlin*

    OP 3 – Perhaps it could be worth explicitly reminding people in the email to check timezones, particularly for important things like interviews? That’s only a small bit of extra work on your part, but makes it more likely that they other person will actually think about the timezones and apply the conversions.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes – sometimes it’s even enough to have the time of the meeting mentioned with the time zone, but you can spell it out to be sure. And this can be a standard text, so not a lot of investment all in all.

  16. Luna*

    I was gonna say, if it’s ‘just’ a case of having a bad falling out with a former friend or just someone she didn’t like in the past, she should learn that you sometimes have to work with people you overall don’t like.

    But if it gets to the point of trauma or even a worry about her mental, physical, or even emotional health, then quitting is a valid option. She could try to talk to Demeter and say that there’s been a bad history between the two of them and maybe see if ensuring they don’t have too many shifts together might be possible… though if she does end up working with him, there’s nothing wrong with being Gray Rock Professional with him. No freezing him out, just being polite, professional, and… p-distant. I was hoping for another P word for alliteration.

      1. bicality*

        Actually I feel like perfunctory works here!


        “(of an action or gesture) carried out with a minimum of effort or reflection.”

    1. Well...*

      patient, preoccupied, placid, poker-faced, possessed, phlegmatic (not quite alliterative), prim, poised, positive?

      Some work better than others, but thanks for the morning word game :)

  17. GythaOgden*

    I’m becoming the colleague in #2. I try hard to keep a professional face on, but most people know I’m dissatisfied, in my case with the new management that took over a year or so ago. I just got my CV polished up — I’ve looked for internal health service jobs, but none have come up where I need them to be, so I just want to move on to somewhere else.

    However, #2’s colleague needs to take a chill pill. I do have the luxury of statutory leave, so if things are getting too bad I can have a few days off to relax at home and play video games etc (although, excluding an actual week’s holiday in January, I’ve only got three days left out of 29 — that’s how bad it’s been!!!) and that’s what helps me not become as publicly abrasive as she’s been. I’m stuck between a supervisor who is perpetually fighting back against management, including against things that would actually benefit me in the long run, and an inability to progress because of a very rigid hierarchy and job description that doesn’t allow me to either go for a promotion without moving elsewhere or take on more work to show what I’m capable of. I end up with knowledge of a particular system or process, but because I’m ‘just’ a receptionist, no-one takes me seriously when I try to explain how things work. Yesterday, however, I took on a problem with the postal service and gained informal kudos for trying to solve it, notifying both management and our internal clients and feeling like I had risen to the occasion in a crisis. It was a badly needed win, but it’s too late — I’m taking my skills elsewhere to somewhere that appreciates them.

    My co-receptionist has also got worse, again because of the crazypants new management disrupting her routines, and she’s of retirement age; the frustrations get to her too and she can be less than professional about things, but I have to weigh that against her own situation. She is married to the job and doesn’t want to quit but the scales are tipping very slowly for her.

    But neither of us would behave the way #2’s colleague is, and certainly her behaviour needs to be tackled head on by someone with the authority to tell her to //knock it TF off//.

    This woman is becoming the proverbial missing stair, and someone from management needs to either sit her down and say outright — you need to shape up — or she needs to go through the PIP process, for her /own/ sake as well as other people’s. The longer she nurses this grudge, the worse she feels, and she’s setting herself up for major stress issues. Plus when she leaves, she’s going to end up with poor references.

    The only way for me to get out of my current rut is to go elsewhere, and after yesterday, proving to myself that I can do things beyond my routine work has given me more confidence. This lady is just digging her own grave at her current placement and possibly also elsewhere if she gains too much of a reputation, and it’s bound to be causing her problems in the short and long terms.

    I’m not sure what OP can do about it if she’s not in a management role. But I empathise with them and hope that it gets solved one way or another. I just hope she has the self-awareness to realise what she’s doing before it’s too late.

  18. Darwi*

    LW1 please support your daugther in advocating for herself in not beeing subjected to interact with a “very toxic former friend” with whom “history is far worse than usual” while “she has very good reasons to be concerned”.
    She is already miserable, how can you ask this community for arguments to convince her to bear with it and have a very negative first work experience ? She is a teen.
    Your daughter should ask Demeter the manager for possibilities of working in another location. Maybe I’m ready too much in your description, but it look’s like abuse. You teen daughter will have plenty of time to experience other desagreable coworkers in her life. Unless this job is very very important for her future, protect her.

  19. Future silver banker*

    If this is a calendar invite, I rely on the software: We use Microsoft Teams for 95% of the meetings with the occasional Zoom call. Timezones normally get automatically converted when you open the calendar invitation.
    If I am writing something in email e.g. coordinating availabilities, I now only write down my time zone specifying that it is BST. I used to make tables w. various time zones until I realised the EAs didn’t bother when replying (they only reply with their partner’s time zone), so I stopped bearing that burden.

  20. ecnaseener*

    The example of “too young-ish (stupidly so, like a sixth grader)” dress in #4 seems…very specific. Having trouble picturing what that would even look like — I don’t know any sixth-graders but from what I remember they mostly dress like smaller teenagers. The only quintessentially middle-school style that comes to mind is creative layering to comply with dress codes.

    LW, if you’re considering firing someone for too much layering, please don’t :P Still legal of course!

    1. LimeRoos*

      Yeah…6th Grade LimeRoos liked to dress in all one color sometimes and that color was safety cone orange, so while I’m sure no one would get fired for that, as an adult you’d get some looks. But agree on those layers, I remember so many layers in middle school. Tank top, t-shirt, long sleeved shirt, flannel XD or 3 polos with popped collars because why not? I’m getting some Halloween costume ideas for next year already lol.

    2. NaoNao*

      Shortalls, rainbow knee highs, pigtails with cheer bows, rumba-seat tights, tutus, sparkle/light up sneakers, onesies or animal costumes, deelybopper headbands, shirts that reference “girl power” or “boys can do anything”, rompers, velcro sandals, very juvenile prints like scattered giraffes, penguins, teddy bears, Hello Kitty or other “fan” merchandise, cartoon merch, sweat pants or sets with appliques on the ankle/shirt that match—stuff like that.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Oh, to me that’s like…kindergartener clothes or younger. What I/kids at my school wore in 6th grade was not markedly different than what we wore in high school, other than size and general fashion trends at the time.

        1. doreen*

          I didn’t even know what rumba-seat tights were until I looked them up – and I didn’t see any in sizes that would even fit a five year old, much less a sixth grader.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        This sounds more like kindergarten than 6th grade, but what do I know. Most of it would be ok at my job, but we do scientific research.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, to me the only “too young” I can think of that’s conspicuously not work-ready because of the “too young” is if you, say, look like a toddler… I can’t think of what “like a sixth grader” means that couldn’t also be something that was inappropriate for an adult because it’s inappropriate anyway – not anything age related (like, I donno, wearing a One Direction t-shirt in a suit&tie kinda job). The sixth grader reference does not give me a clue to what I should be picturing.

      1. Shynosaur*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who was thrown for a loop by that!

        Also, fhqwhgads, your name sounds like a number one jam! :D

  21. Irish Teacher*

    LW1, it sounds like this is a lot more than learning to work with a difficult person, which yeah, we all have to do. You mentioned she had a somewhat traumatic history with this person. That sounds closer to the situation where a guy didn’t get a job because he had ghosted his potential employer in the past and she didn’t feel able to work with him. I think most people here agreed that the hiring manager was being reasonable in that case and should not be expected to work with somebody who had caused her so much pain.

    While everybody does have to work with difficult people, it isn’t that common to have to work with somebody with whom you have had a very toxic relationship in the past. As Alison says, even most adults would want to avoid that. And I think it is particular important for teens to avoid that as setting boundaries with toxic people is not something most teens are able to do. It is something that takes experience and maturity, which is one of the reasons why teens are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure, grooming, bullying, etc. (Obviously, adults can be abused and pressured into things too, but teens find it more difficult to set the boundaries that would prevent this because they simply haven’t had the same experience that tells them how to deal with such people.)

    We DO all have to learn to deal with difficult people but for the first difficult coworker somebody has to deal with to be not just that micromanager or the person who acts like your boss because they are older than you even though you are at the same level or the lazy person who makes work for you because they don’t do their own job but instead a person with whom you have a toxic relationship that was somewhat traumatic for you. That’s a lot.

    And quitting IS a way of drawing boundaries. I think one very harmful thing we learn is the whole idea that “quitting is for losers. Once you’ve chosen something, you should stick with it, no matter how unhappy it makes you. Otherwise you’ve failed.” Sometimes, knowing something is wrong for you and walking away is success. It seems like ending that friendship was one of those times for your daughter and not working with her may be too.

    And your daughter is a teen. I don’t know if she is still at school or not, but if she is, then high school is ALREADY a full-time job. She is already spending maybe 30 hours a week working with people she may not like and some of whom are difficult and presumably another number of hours working on homework, projects, etc. And possibly working on college applications or at least making plans for what career she wants and/or what she wants to study. It’s a very stressful time of life. I would say my final year of secondary school was the most stressful time of my life, apart from specific stressors (like when a family member died or something that is not related to the specific part of my life it was).

    If somebody is going to take on additional work at that point, it should be more enjoyable than not for them.

    And honestly, she probably already knows that working with difficult people is sometimes necessary. She has probably had to do group projects with people she disliked and would certainly have been in classes with difficult people and has probably had unreasonable teachers. However, there IS a point at which a person is not safe to work with and should be avoided if possible and from what you have said about this person having caused trauma to her and being manipulative and likely to reel her in again and cause further trauma to her, it sounds like this is one of those cases. It doesn’t sound like this is a situation where simply learning some tools to deal with a difficult person will suffice but like a case where the best option IS if she can leave (and this is not always open to older people, but I would think an adult in that situation WOULD start job searching fairly quickly and it sounds like that would be the right choice).

    While I understand you wanting her to learn about working with difficult people and would see the debate if this were simply a girl who fancied the same boy as her or a boy who turned her down or the kid who is best in the class at the subject she is second best at or something equally petty, I also think that people SHOULD learn that there is a point at which walking away is the right thing to do.

    Yeah, if she likes the job, she shouldn’t have to leave because of somebody else’s behaviour, so it is worth talking it through with her and seeing if there is another option, but…from what you have said, it sounds like she is making a really mature decision here, that she knows this person is not safe for her to be around and is taking the steps to protect herself.

    1. bamcheeks*

      teens find it more difficult to set the boundaries that would prevent this because they simply haven’t had the same experience that tells them how to deal with such people

      It’s also because teenagers have so little control over their environment– they can’t quit school or change classes or move out of a flatshare or do many of the things that an adult can do to move themselves away from a toxic situation. All the more reason to support them in situations where that is a possibility.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Agreed. And their concerns often aren’t taken that seriously, as it’s often seen as “just teen drama. Yeah, x was a bit mean to you, but that was months ago. Just make it up with him/her and be friends again.”

    2. Minerva*

      Quitting can, in fact, be very much for winners. The idea that you need to suffer and suffer and suffer so you can “win” in the end is how toxic employers (and people) gaslight you into working only for their benefit.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        +1. Any definition of winning that excludes “removing toxic agents from day-to-day life” is a poor definition of winning IMWO.

      2. Generic Name*

        Exactly. I’ve been struggling how to articulate my discomfort with the daughter’s idea that if she chooses not to work with her toxic ex-friend that’s letting him win. I advise the OP to talk with her daughter about that and explore why she feels that way.

      3. Heffalump*

        I don’t have the link handy, but there’s a post on this site by someone saying, “I hate working for my toxic manager, but if I quit, I’m letting her win.”

  22. Llama Llama*

    I would argue that the onus is on the person setting up the meeting. So in this case, the interviewer. Onus being, saying the time zone and not proposing a rude time.

    I have been working with people across the world for 10+ years, so this is extremely basic standards to me.

  23. Minerva*

    LW1 – This seems like a low stakes way to actually teach your kid that it’s OK to leave a toxic work environment and find something new, especially since her primary “job” is being a student right now. If her goal is to have a job for a level of financial independence (since it doesn’t seem from your letter there is a financial NEED for the job) she can find other teen friendly work without the added drama.

  24. T.*

    # 5 some places I’ve worked have a quota of candidates (ex: must interview 3), so we think we have candidates, schedule interviews then someone backs out and we can’t show we had a fair process. We repost to get more choices to show equity. Other times, I’ve had places approve a req, start interviews then mgrs reconsider the opening and leave the recruiter and candidates in limbo. It’s sh!tty to be ghosted but sometimes I don’t know what to tell you if the hiring managers are leaving me in a lurch. I can only tell a candidate to be patient so many times and then the candidate thinks I’m stringing them along. It’s no win for the candidate or the recruiter. I hope this is a little insight into possible scenarios and wish you luck in your search.

    1. Mimmy*

      I’m interviewing at colleges and universities (non-teaching) and am always seeing jobs get reposted, especially at one particular private university. Your post gives me a bit of insight as to possible reasons for this, though it does raise red flags. I’m probably going to ask about this tomorrow in the Open Thread.

      1. higher ed*

        Hi! From having been on the ‘we want to hire side,’ I’d guess that they posted to get a pool but didn’t get funding okayed, funding got shifted, or internal politics (maybe getting Temps in the job who are having to leave after a certain time or someone is pressuring for a hiring solution that the others don’t want or some big shakeup is happening that eventually makes the job posting moot). No harm in applying but I wouldn’t hold out very high hopes, and pay really close attention to how people interact with each other while you’re interviewing to gain insight on internal dynamics if you’re asked. I’d say it’s a yellow flag but it’s not a great sign.

        Unis are having to refigure staffing because enrollment is dropping and will continue to do so until at least 2026.

        More germane to the LW, knowing how little is shared outside the org, I’d just move on and spend energy elsewhere.

    2. Jobsearcher1*

      As a job searcher, if this happens multiple times with the same employer, I stop applying there. I ask other people about the employer and if multiple people say the same thing, I know I am wasting my time. Academia is the worst offender.

    3. Pisces*

      I got ghosted after two interviews by a company that clearly had decided to start its search all over, this time for cheaper candidates.

      During the interview process they made an internal change affecting the job vacancy, that they could have done before they started looking to hire. My best guesses are either sheer bureaucratic disconnect, or the people affected by the change didn’t want each other but were ultimately forced into a shotgun wedding.

  25. JSPA*

    #1, if she can do it without added drama, she could say that due to some past history with Apollo, she’s not comfortable taking the job, but would they please recontact her if for whatever reason, Apollo doesn’t end up working there.

    There’s all kinds of history; saying that there’s history doesn’t have to be dramatic (and doesn’t have to be a mark against Apollo–though if they’re watching Apollo a bit more closely, that may be…all to the good, if Apollo presents well, then turns problematic.

    If your daughter’s training is much further along than Apollo’s, and if Apollo is willing, they may decide to slot Apollo into some other role, elsewhere.

    There is, after all, a non-zero chance that Apollo has applied specifically to mess with your daughter–at which point, self-protection absolutely ought to outweigh any (dubious) practice at living through misery in the name of teenage professionalism.

    She should, however, have a response ready if they propose setting things up so that their shifts will never overlap, and promise to ensure that each person gets a fair share of the more-desirable and less-desirable shifts. The answer may well still be, “no”!

    And they’ll know they can call her in, already trained, when they find Apollo doing whatever it is that Apollo does, so problematically. That way, she only enters the scene if and when they know she had a darn fine reason for noping out of the situation.

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      There is, after all, a non-zero chance that Apollo has applied specifically to mess with your daughter

      This, this, this! I came here to post the same warning. The parent’s description of Apollo was uncannily like that of my ex-best friend in high school/college. After I finally cut him out, he’s spent the two decades since then occasionally trying to “coincidentally” show up where he thinks I’ll be. (The universe must be protecting me, because even if it’s somewhere I thought I’d be, something always comes up so I’m not there when he is.) This includes trying to get jobs in the very tiny field he knows I work in.

      In addition, it’s not just to mess with me–he also does it because he’s determined to prove that if he and I work the same job or in the same place, he will be superior to me at it, more beloved by our coworkers, first in line for every promotion, etc. He has a burning need to feel like and prove he’s above me/everyone else, and it only got worse after I cut him out and showed him I don’t need him in my life to be happy.

      As an adult, he is a diagnosed malicious narcissist with a charisma rating that’s through the roof. Most people think he’s the epitome of charm and human perfection. I take comfort in that fact that malicious narcissists like him can literally never be truly happy because their happiness relies upon limitless, constant, and ever-increasing external validation. But that’s impossible because there are always limits to others’ energy spent on you.

      This kind of person should absolutely be avoided. There’s no reward for forcing yourself to work around them, only risk and damage.

  26. a tester, not a developer*

    I’d at least consider staying until she sees what the scheduling looks like. My 16yo works in a place with a large enough crew that there’s quite a few other high school students he’s never had a shift with. And shift swapping is so common that no one would bat an eye if it worked out that they were never on a shift together. It’s unlikely anyone would even notice.
    If Artemis would be constantly anxious knowing that it’s the same place Apollo works – even if they don’t ever see each other – then yes, I agree she should find something else. But if it’s more trying to avoid being in the same place at the same time then I think there are options.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I was thinking this, as well. If it’s somewhere like Walmart or Target, Daughter may work in the garden center, and Apollo might always be stationed in the pet department, which might legit be an acre away. They may never actually overlap, if it’s a situation like that.

  27. LittleMarshmallow*

    I have a colleague that sounds a lot like #2 and an issue we run into with bluntly calling out her behavior is that she always throws out “tone policing”. It’s hard to make her understand that there’s a difference between not putting on your “dumb girl voice” to fight tone policing vs snapping at people and always sounding angry even at the slightest of difference in opinion.

    Anyone have tips on that? I’m of similar demographic as my colleague. Straight, cis, female, white, I’m just like 5 years older so I feel pretty confident that this is not a case of tone policing as much as just a bad attitude run amok.

    1. ABCYaBYE*

      In human communication, less than 10% of the meaning of the spoken language is conveyed by the words we use. The rest is tone and body language. So if she’s aggressive, condescending, etc. it will vastly change the meaning of what she’s saying. Tone policing seems quite appropriate in this case. If she’s snapping or arguing, that’s both unproductive and inappropriate at work, and she needs to be reminded of that.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes, ‘tone policing’ – or rather, asking people to pay attention to their behavior – is absolutely necessary at times!

    2. bamcheeks*

      You may know this, but “tone policing” relates specifically to people calling out structural oppression and being told by people with structural privilege that their message is OK but that it’s going to be ignored because they didn’t make it in a way that centres the privileged people’s feelings. And the point is that the goalposts constantly move on what’s the right “way” to make the argument because it’s actually a way to dismiss the message, not really a helpful critique. It’s gross to see someone use it to mean, “You can’t ever criticise my bad attitude and the fact I’m making everyone else’s workplace miserable”!

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        Yeah. I definitely know what tone policing is and agree that it is awful that she’s using it to excuse her behavior. Unfortunately in the group I work in, management is easily intimidated by throwing out stuff like that so they’re not dealing with it as directly as it should be. Which I actually think is making the problem worse because she’s hearing a watered down feedback which does make it sound like “well people might not receive you as well unless you cater to their individual and unrealistic sensibilities” as opposed to “every project you’ve worked on in the last 5 years has been fraught with interpersonal issues because you are difficult to work with and that needs to not continue”. Of course they should give her specific examples, but I personally think that her managers need to be much firmer about it.

    3. nona*

      Tone policing is about attacking the delivery to avoid discussing the message (in this case, about her behavior).

      By invoking tone policing, *she* is also focusing on the delivery and not the message.

    4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      “Yes, I am policing your tone because your tone is unnecessarily aggressive, disruptive, unprofessional, and inappropriate. Please be more mindful. Thanks.”

    5. Critical Rolls*

      It’s hard to push back when someone is throwing that kind of thing out in bad faith, especially when you don’t have supervisory status. Your bosses are making me grind my teeth, but I’d start with them and make it clear that you’re all receiving abuse from this person, which they should be much more concerned about, liability-wise, than vague buzzword deflections. If they won’t act directly, they might at least be persuaded to let you hold some boundaries. “You are being angry, aggressive, and rude to me. I’m not obligated to take that from anyone I work with. It isn’t tone policing to ask to be treated with basic professionalism. We can continue this conversation when everyone’s back on an even keel.” Be prepared to terminate the interaction and leave the space.

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        I definitely wish the bosses would figure out their part in this! Thanks for your insight. I’ve known her for a while and generally personally am able to work around it (most of the time anyway), but that often gets me stuck in the middle with people that would rather I talk to her… it’s a whole thing.

        1. Critical Rolls*

          Oh, no. No no no. You are not the Tantrum Whisperer. That’s definitely an area where you can direct the pain upwards, where it belongs; tell your coworkers to take their issues to the bosses. “I’m right in the middle of something, can you take this issue to Boss?”

          Good luck!

    6. Observer*

      I have a colleague that sounds a lot like #2 and an issue we run into with bluntly calling out her behavior is that she always throws out “tone policing”.

      Well, when you include “slamming doors”, it gets a bit harder to claim that someone is “tone policing”.

  28. ABCYaBYE*

    LW2, I scrolled to the bottom to comment, so apologies if others have covered this already. I think you can and should be incredibly direct with your coworker. Maybe not quite FFS why don’t you just quit already, but slightly more warm, but with the FFS undertone. What’s happening is so utterly unproductive and it is demoralizing for the rest of the team. It is probably worth noting something to your manager, too. If they’ve noticed and are ignoring it, maybe pointing something out to them lets them know that the impact of the actions is actually greater than what they can see. Or they’ve not been privy to the outbursts and should be made aware that they have a toxic attitude on board.

    1. Wolf*

      LW2 here – it is demoralizing, indeed! I think we’ll have to tell her.

      The manager is unfortunately not helpful, as he was the one who refused her promotion, and now he won’t deal with the topic anymore.

      1. Observer*

        Well, maybe someone can point out to the manager that what is needed is for him to deal with the current behavior, not “the topic”.

        So, when she slams doors, yells at people etc. that needs to be called out. And I would go so far as to say that he SHOULD refuse to deal with the topic. Because it doesn’t make a difference. “You need to stop slamming doors and you cannot shout or snap at people.” Nothing to do with the promotion. And if she responds with something about the promotion, the answer is “That’s not relevant. Youneed to stop slamming doors and you cannot shout or snap at people.” Lather, rinse. repeat. With an end point at some point that does NOT allow any discussion of the topic of her promotion or lack thereof.

        I would also say that when you say something to her, just focus on the behavior. “I get you’re unhappy, but you still can’t talk to me that way / slam doors / yell at the intern / whatever else.”

  29. Dust Bunny*

    LW2 You don’t have to address whether she’s happy or not–she should already be disciplined for the snapping and general bad workplace behavior. The root of it doesn’t really matter.

  30. Dinwar*

    LW #1: Do you need to do anything other than support the decision your daughter makes?

    Switching jobs is pretty common. Many high-school jobs are seasonal–I worked as a line cook for a place that was only open 6 months, a few friends worked as seasonal help for landscapers, a few worked as construction laborers during the summer but not during the school year, etc. We all have such stories. It would be unnoticed if someone switched from one job to another within three months or less, and if someone did ask “I found a better job” would be sufficient to explain it.

    As far as working with difficult people goes, school is probably teaching that lesson sufficiently. I don’t know any teenager that likes all their classmates. Teaching your daughter that it’s okay to leave a bad situation is actually a far more important lesson at this stage. Self-advocacy is critical for adults, but it’s really hard to learn in the overly-structured environment we have built for children and teens.

    And if this does turn out to be a mistake, it’s a pretty minor one. At worst she gets a job that’s not as good and realizes she could have stuck it out longer where she was–something that’s actually pretty common in life. It’s hard to know when to leave, and we usually stick around too long or leave too soon. Learning to deal with that is part of life. Honestly, in five years no one looking to hire her will care. The lesson about self-advocacy is FAR more important and impactful than any drawbacks.

  31. Shynosaur*

    I really want some more data on “dressing inappropriately young, like a sixth-grader” :)

    Being fired for a see-through shirt seems maybe abrupt but not completely out there, but as far as I remember, I don’t dress terribly differently from sixth grade lol… jeans, clogs, flannel shirts, t-shirts, button-up blouse if I’m feeling fanceyh. What kind of outfit would signal “young” to a degree that it would raise eyebrows? Genuinely curious.

    1. KatEnigma*

      I googled the case. They didn’t fire her for the see through shirt, they fired her for refusing to change it when asked to, which she admits because “she knew it wasn’t inappropriate and no male was going to tell her what to wear” essentially.

      She also is in Canada, whose labor laws are very different in many ways than they are in the U.S.

      1. Shynosaur*

        I mean, I really wasn’t curious about that part. I meant that I can see the logic behind not wanting employees to dress provocatively, and an employee being subsequently fired for dressing provocatively, but the LW went straight to “too young-ish (stupidly so, like a sixth grader),” and I don’t understand what that might look like… let alone how it might lead to job loss! I feel like everyone has stuck on the “too sexy for the office” part of the question and is ignoring what I think is the most eye-catching part of the question.

        1. NaoNao*

          Shortalls, rainbow knee highs, pigtails with cheer bows, rumba-seat tights, tutus, sparkle/light up sneakers, onesies or animal costumes, deelybopper headbands, shirts that reference “girl power” or “boys can do anything”, rompers, velcro sandals, very juvenile prints like scattered giraffes, penguins, teddy bears, Hello Kitty or other “fan” merchandise, cartoon merch, sweat pants or sets with appliques on the ankle/shirt that match—stuff like that.

          1. Shynosaur*

            Thanks, that is kind of giving me a picture although rompers seem to be very much in fashion for adult women right now (!). Velcro sandals and cutesy prints, while not comfortable to me, also seem like things I’ve always seen adults wear, so I do wish Alison had maybe specifically addressed that element. I suppose the answer is a manager would just have to address any “distracting” clothing choices and if the employee were belligerent about changing, that could be grounds for termination. My company’s dress code only prohibits torn/dirty-looking clothes and anything with slogans that may be “interpreted antagonistically” (i.e. political phrases or “Michigan sucks”). In my team meetings, one of us might be in a dress, one might be in a football sweatshirt, one might have a button-down or company polo, and one might be in a Star Wars t-shirt and nobody seems to pay attention.

            But I’ll confess that if anybody on my team wore a dealiebopper, I would be charmed and delighted :)

          2. Heffalump*

            When my workgroup started working remotely via MS-Teams at the beginning of the pandemic, I’d often work in my undershirt. One day a female coworker contacted me when I had my camera on, and I said, “Oh, I should put on a shirt!” She said it was no big deal, but I always put on a shirt at the beginning of my workday after that.

    2. bicality*

      I also do not know what this means. My child is in middle school and the majority of the 6th graders wear athletic gear all the time?

    3. OyHiOh*

      6th grade Mini Oy has a choice of 4 approved school colors and relative freedom to dress themselves within that range. Today is a polo shirt, a skirt, tights that match the skirt, and gogo boots. The most “6th grader” thing about her is her current, rather unfortunate fascination with blue glitter gel eyeshadow (unfortunate only because the color absolutely does not suit her skin tone). I too am confused by what “young/like a 6th grader” means.

      1. Shynosaur*

        I sympathize with her! The draw of blue glitter gel is strong :) I can’t ever wear that stuff but I remember it being big when I was a teen and I’ve been secretly pleased to see it come back into style haha

        1. OyHiOh*

          I got an awful lot of crap shoved on me, when I was her age, so I am striving to be a different sort of parent with this one. I compliment what I think looks good, and also what she tells me feels good to her, and keep my mouth firmly shut on the rest. Most of us who wear makeup eventually figure out what shades and hues do not work, and she has the advantage of YouTube and TikTok to assist her in that process.

    4. KatStat*

      My niece is 6th grade and when I was supposed to help her get out the door for school I had to ask if she was dressed because the pants she was wearing appeared to be pajamas to me. She doesn’t seem to care what she wears.

  32. KatEnigma*

    LW1: If you aren’t “that kind of mother” why are you writing to Alison at all about your daughter’s work? Instead of teaching your daughter to trust her own gut and instincts, you are teaching her to second guess them. And that some 3rd party opinion, who doesn’t know her or anyone involved, should have more of a say than she does in her own life choices! Let her make her own decisions about her own life- work or even if she decides to let Apollo back in- and if she regrets a choice, learn the lesson from that.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      Um, no.

      The mother isn’t saying “I’m going to tell my daughter to do whatever Alison says”. It sounds like she knows what is okay for her daughter to do, but wants advice on how to navigate this situation without becoming that parent.

      It’s one thing to trust your gut instincts when you have a lot of experience, but when you are young and in a new situation and don’t have a lot of perspective on such matters, asking for advice is perfectly normal. I mean, this is what being a parent, mentor, etc, is all about.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I disagree. The mother was definitely making a case for the daughter not quitting.

        And she gave her advice, but the daughter wasn’t towing the line, so she went to “an authority” expecting for Alison to back her.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              I know that, but I feel there’s also a tendency to assume “busybody” parents (which to be clear, I don’t think the LW falls into) are female/mothers and I really want to push back on that idea.

        1. Allonge*

          If OP1 100% wanted their daughter not to quit, they could just not have asked for advice, though? You are making a huge assumption of bad faith here.

          Also do check what they commented.

    2. Loredena Frisealach*

      I think the question to Alison is less about second guessing her instincts/asking a 3rd party to decide and more around – how to cope if she sticks it out/how to navigate the decisions/options. Weighted by her daughter loving the job!

      “I would love to help her understand that working with difficult people is sometimes necessary and give her some ideas and skills on how to cope with the situation….Do you have any advice for how to navigate this, either (a) as the self-advocating teen and (b) as her supportive parent?”

    3. NeedRain47*

      … There’s a massive difference between asking for outside advice and being a parent who will actually contact their child’s employer. And I’m not sure where you got the impression that the writer would be forcing their child to obey Alison. WTF.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      Whoa, this is unnecessarily harsh! People write in to ask for advice, that’s how this site works. And the OP specifically ended the letter with “Do you have any advice for how to navigate this, either (a) as the self-advocating teen and (b) as her supportive parent?” This is someone just trying to figure out the best approach.

      1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        And at some point, some teen in a first time job will come across this advice and hopefully feel better about navigating their own sticky situation. Knowing that you can walk away and you would not be wrong for doing so is empowering. It’s a lesson I wish I had learned as a teen.

      2. Skyblue*

        Exactly – what’s wrong with seeking advice? OP isn’t asking “some 3rd party,” but an expert in dealing with workplace issues. That’s a good thing for a young person to learn. This site is full letters from people who followed their “gut and instincts” and found themselves in messes that could have been avoided.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, this is actually the one thing I liked about the letter.

          Of course, having seen the OP’s later comments, I’ve also changed my opinion of the question. But the idea of actually talking to an expert about a situation is an EXCELLENT habit to inculcate.

  33. RC Rascal*

    LW4–At my first job out of college, I got written up for wearing socks to work. Socks with loafers. Dress code said I should have been wearing full pantyhose the my pants and loafers. Not sure who was going to check that the pantyhose went all the way up to my waist (???) but the point was the ankle portion was exposed and they saw socks instead of nylon.

    I had only been there 2 months when the writeup happened and I quit 2 weeks later.

  34. 1-800-BrownCow*

    LW #1: I wholeheartedly agree with Alison’s advice and many others on here. Honestly, being a teen is REALLY HARD. They are learning thousands of life lessons right now. Learning to deal with a “difficult coworker” is not really a top priority right now. Especially the description of the background with the person as traumatic. Yikes! Your daughter is young and already has lots of stress. It’s unfortunate she’s put in her time to be trained and everything to have to start over again somewhere else. But if it’s better for her mental health, she should do it.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I really liked the framing of “301-level difficulty when she’s presumably still at 101 levels in figuring out work”. Sometimes, we learn a lot by taking situations as they coming and dealing with things a little bit out of our depth. But knowing what that depth is and when you need to back out/tag in someone else (parent, manager, scary coworker who can defend you, subject matter expert, etc) is actually a really big part of work maturity. Hell it’s something I find myself facing constantly, and it’s humbling. But developing that self awareness is huge.

      It sounds like the daughter wants to give it a shot, and set boundaries, and establish her own footing. I love that. But as the parent in the background, being prepared to be there if it turns out she’s too far out of her depth and needs to bail is amazing. Not everyone has that. It’s huge.

  35. Cacofonix*

    For LW1, please, please support your daughter, not her job. If she doesn’t feel safe with Apollo because of a traumatic history, why oh why would you value her “sticking it out” over her mental or physical health? You said this was not a typical falling out and that she is at risk for being manipulated into re-engaging with this person. She’s a teen. She can get another job. If she were open to it, she can explain to her boss that due to past history, she doesn’t feel safe working with Apollo. They might have a solution for her, like sending Apollo to a different location. If not, encouraging her to work with a tormentor (vs someone with whom she doesn’t get along/doesn’t like) does her a terrible disservice.

  36. Sunflower*

    OP#1 posted in one of the comments and worth reading if you haven’t already. Her daughter decided to test it out. She also has another friend who joined the team and knows her history with Apollo so that may be helpful.

    My suggestion was to document any incidents.

    1. Lady_Lessa*


      Will you please post what OP#1 ‘s name, to make it easier for us to find the posting.

      Thank you

  37. Canadian Girl*

    To OP #1:
    I would encourage your daughter to talk to the training manager about staying on at the training location as she has hit it off so well with the manager & coworkers at that location. It is worth trying before she just quits. I had something very similar happen to me, I was training in one location and totally hit it off with the manager. I asked them if I could stay at the training location and not work the store I was originally hired for. The training store manager jumped all over that idea and worked her butt off to keep me. It turned out to be a win for everyone.

  38. Miriam*

    I am trying to figure out how LW4 thinks 6th graders dress and/or whether my child’s 6th grade classmates are dressing in some bizarre way that I am unaware of, beyond being a bit too casual for most offices. Though as someone who works in a casual dress office, I think my 11 year old often dresses a bit more nicely than I do, if you ignore the part where they are a child who sometimes still gets chocolate all over everything, etc. (Today we are both wearing jeans, but they are absolutely wearing a nicer looking top than I am.)

    Anyway, my 6th grader absolutely thinks I am dressed inappropriately at all times, because by default anything your parent does in public is the most embarrassing thing ever. So I’m chuckling at the idea that 6th graders and adults might find each other mutually inappropriate?

    1. NaoNao*

      I suspect they mean either shrunken pieces like a tee shirt that is clearly far too small, or cartoon/fandom merc or over the top items like cat-ear headbands with glitter, light up shoes, shortalls + a tee shirt, knee high socks and a short skirt etc.

      It’s a bit oddly specific but I think they meant “immature or otherwise inappropriate for your station in life, role, company, and day”

  39. Mimmy*

    #5 – Something similar happened to me a couple months ago. I had a first-round interview at a university for a non-teaching position, never heard anything (even after sending a thank you and one follow-up), then saw the job reposted about a month, months and a half later. It really does sting, but I think moving on sounds like the best move and be pleasantly surprised if they do contact you again.

  40. Ex-prof*

    #1 I hope the daughter does quit the job. A toxic person can derail your whole life. And her grades could suffer.

  41. Student*

    #3: Having worked cross-time-zones for many years, here’s some advice to supplement. AAM was spot-on about your obligation to denote the time zone you are using for meeting invites.

    There are two types of people: those who understand time zones intuitively, and those that don’t ever get it. There’s a huge divide in people’s capabilities/familiarity with handling time zones. If you are hiring folks remotely, it’s worth asking them if they have experience handling this issue in interviews if it will come up regularly. It will impact them constantly and may lead them to work hours considerably outside the 9-to-5 norm. They need to be prepared for that, and together you both need to have a plan that meets both your and their needs (without working 12-hour days).

    Calendar applications will save you from a lot of time-zone meeting issues. All the major calendar applications will adjust a meeting invite automatically to reflect the time zone that each person is working in (based on their computer time zone settings). If you send out a calendar tool meeting for 2 PM ET, it’ll automatically appear as 11:00 AM PT for a west-coast colleague in their calendar. If your team is cross-time-zone, pick a tool and make your team use it consistently.

    1. Anon-E-Mouse*

      I once wore a slightly cropped linen top (with mid/low rise linen trousers to the office on a hot summer day. The CEO, who was also my mentor and friend, looked at me and said (with a smile – not a leer), “I think your top and bottom are supposed to meet.”

      I think that’s a good workplace dress code rule to live by.

      1. Dinwar*

        Social norms change, and with clothing they pretty much only change to less formal. What I wear to the office was considered horribly informal in my dad’s time, and what he wore was considered extremely informal by his father. When the tuxedo was introduced people thought it was too informal for evening wear. Covid has accelerated this trend, because people just stopped wearing business casual clothing (and what constitutes “formal” is, after all, a purely social convention).

        I think in a lot of ways people bucking trends like crop tops and other informal clothing in offices are going to increasingly sound like the grandfather on The Simpsons, tying an onion to his belt as was the style of the time. The world’s moved on, and we more or less need to ride the wave, because trying to stop it is an exercise in futility. We’ve run the experiment numerous times and failed every time.

    2. doreen*

      I was struck by one line in that article- the one where someone explains she wears crop tops because she doesn’t want to spend money on clothes she will wear a few days a week. I’m not at all sure what she means by “a few days a week” . If she means she works in an office five days a week , that doesn’t seem like ” a few days a week” And if she’s in the office twice a week, it doesn’t seem it would be that terrible or expensive to buy a couple of blouses that meet her pants.

  42. Anon-E-Mouse*

    LW3: timeanddate.com has a great meeting planner to help you figure out meeting times that work for people in different time zones all over the world.

    And for everyone who is fed up with their current situation and wants to count down to retirement (or something else), the same website also has a date duration calculator.

  43. Betty (the other betty)*

    Time zones: If I know someone is in a different time zone, I include time zone info since people get mixed up doing the conversions. “I’ll call you at 10 am mountain time (noon eastern time).”

    If I don’t know where they are, I just include my time zone. “I’ll call you at 10 am mountain time. Where are you located?”

  44. Wolf*

    I’m LW2. Thanks so much for your response, Alison.

    And dear commentariat: I won’t be able to respond to everyone, but I read your input and I appreciate it!

  45. Overit*

    Mim/Dad: please do not teach your daughter that she has to put up wih a hostile workplace.
    Yes, we all have coworkers we cannot stand, but this situation is more than that. If the falling out was as toxic as you describe, the bad blood and drama WILL make her work life hell. No teen job is worth that. Period.

    I will add that my parenta ahrugged and told me to suck it up when my teen job included sexual harassment and bullying They taught me that such was the norm. They taught me that reporting or standing up for myself was useless and “just stupid” because no one cared or would do anything about it (them, my boss, HR). It took me YEARS to overcome that self destructive conditioning.

    Be very careful of the lessons you teach your kids.

  46. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Time zones. Yeah big problem because some people are “time zone challenged”.

    Since the last two companies I worked for had a global presence – we ALL (well, most) were aware of time zone differences, and we planned accordingly. Example – I’m in the east, and if it’s 8 am here, I *know* it’s 1 pm in England.

    If someone’s scheduling an interview – an EFFECTIVE manager would say “it’s at 1 pm here in California, that’s 4 pm for you, if I’m right…” Easy enough to do.

    A company I worked for had difficulty figuring how to handle support tickets. Manager Dumdum “well what, uh, if you turned on your machine and dere’s two tickets come in overnight, one in England and one in California and it’s 8 am your time. Huh?” (equal severity)

    So people chirp up “the one that came in first! The timestamps make it easy….”

    NO. I caught hell for this but — “the guy in California opened the ticket up last night. At 8 eastern, he’s not gonna be at his desk. The guy in England opened it up later, yes, BUT HE’S AT HIS DESK NOW. Let’s fix HIS problem, and then address California when they come in, in a couple hours…”

    Manager Dumdum scratches his head….

    1. Jammin'*

      My last two employers were non-US and had a global presence. I usually had to coordinate meetings between the US, Australia and the UK.
      I had the best luck scheduling meetings using worldtimebuddy.com – seemed to always include daylight savings time adjustments correctly.

  47. Anonymosity*

    For #3, when I discuss setting up a meeting with someone in another time zone, I say something along the lines of “I’m on Pacific Time, two hours behind you. I can meet from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm or 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time.” Now they’re aware of the time difference, and they can check their own schedule without having to translate it in their heads.

    If they schedule the meeting without clarifying time zones, I reach out and ask. “Did you mean 1:00 pm Eastern Time or Pacific?” I’d rather ask than inadvertently miss a meeting. No one has ever had a problem with this.

  48. BrilliantBrunette*

    LW 5 – If the company/job is based in New York City, a new NYC law just went into effect Nov. 1 requiring that employers include a salary range on job postings (even if the job is virtual or only partially in NYC). A lot of organizations have had to repost jobs to comply, perhaps this happened with the role you interviewed for.

  49. Linda Cloutier*

    LW1, I was in a similar situation as your daughter when I was a teen many years ago. I was not supported in quitting the job and felt like I had to stick it out. I was horribly bullied, it was a terrible experience. Let her quit.

  50. Bubba*

    OP 1, if it makes you feel any better I up and quit several jobs as a teenager for no other reason than that I hated the job and it was making me miserable. It has not affected my career as an adult in the slightest. I have successfully navigated many less than ideal job situations since then with a lot more patience and professionalism than I had as a 16 year old. Don’t worry that she either has to learn the lesson of how to stick out a difficult job situation now or not at all. Your daughter will be learning a different valuable lesson even if she quits this job- that it is OK to set boundaries and prioritize your mental health.

  51. no one reads this far*

    LW 1: I just want to thank you for being a supportive parent and encouraging your child to quit if she feels unsafe around this person.

    My second job had an extremely toxic coworker who was both physically and verbally abusive. I’d come home crying, couldn’t sleep, dreaded coming to work, the lot. My parents didn’t believe me and told me quitting would look bad.

    One day I reached my limit. I got into a shouting match with this guy and walked out, never to return. That was 10+ yrs ago and I’m still trying to work through all the damage that idiot caused me.

  52. Calamity Janine*

    LW1, one of the most beautiful and important lessons you can teach your teen daughter is this:

    it’s okay to not sacrifice your safety and your mental health for a job. it’s okay to walk away instead of being forced back into an abuser’s orbit. it’s okay to prioritize your safety, of both mind and body, above being seen as ‘the perfect employee’ or ‘a good girl’.

    and an even more important lesson that follows this?

    as her parents, you will support her removing herself from danger in this way. and when you give her that back-up, you’re not going to hem and haw and quibble every detail. because you know you raised a fine young lady. and you trust her judgement. no ifs, ands, or buts: you are in her corner and you love her absolutely, unshakably, and thoroughly.

    both of those lessons will serve her more in life than anything a high school job could ever teach her.

  53. Burger Bob*

    I had an employee like the one in letter 2. She kept on not getting the bonuses and promotions she felt she was owed. (This was because she continuously showed a lack of engagement at work and an unwillingness to learn new skills or take on other responsibilities; she felt we were just showing favoritism to other employees, employees who happened to routinely be working harder than her.) Her attitude got worse and worse and she kept threatening to quit. Finally in a meeting with her grandboss about her general attitude, she again said something about how maybe she should just quit, and exasperated grandboss did indeed say something along the lines of, “Then quit! Either straighten up or quit, but you can’t continue here the way you are now.” Sadly for all parties involved, she did not quit then but took her time eventually reaching that inevitable conclusion. I don’t see any problem with telling her directly that if she is genuinely that unhappy, she should look for greener pastures.

  54. Hiding from My Boss*

    #2, you have my sympathy. I went thru the same thing a while back. The person who lost the promotion was A.N.G.R.Y. for literally years, I mean, making snipes four or five years later in a staff meeting. Too bad for us, the manager absolutely sympathized with her and felt she’d been shafted, and was worried she’d leave. It was absolute hell working with her, she was mean, uncooperative, and insulting. It was exhausting and unpleasant to have to sit next to her all day. The few times I spoke up about the behavior I was shot down. I hope your team has better luck.

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