update: new hire keeps kneeling in front of me

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and for the rest of the year I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the FASCINATING letter from the person whose new hire kept kneeling in front of him? Here’s the update.

A while back I wrote about a new hire that had a strange habit of kneeling in my office. First of all: the comments are always so unexpected. Commenters were convinced it was cultural, or that Sam was deaf or blind and needed to be inches from me to communicate, or that he was super tall or super short, or that he had some chronic wasting disease that made sitting in an office chair impossible and painful, or that my cubicle size/layout made the extra chair impractical. It really was just as simple as I suggested: a new employee just didn’t really get it.

Anyway, after I read through the response and the comments I decided I would ask him explicitly to sit in the chair. He came into my cube, and I said something like “hey dude, I don’t mean to make a big deal about this, but I’m gonna need you to sit in the chair. It’s just a little weird, especially when [president of company] walks by, you know?” He said OK (albeit somewhat confused), and sat in the chair. I had a hunch he may just be sick of sitting, so I said “you know [our company] has a bunch of extra sit-stand desks, right? You can ask for one.”

So, the next day Sam had a sit-stand desk. And then a few months later I moved cities to be closer to family. No telling if he’s gone back to his subservient ways or not.

{ 184 comments… read them below }

  1. MicroManagered*

    Commenters were convinced it was cultural, or that Sam was deaf or blind and needed to be inches from me to communicate, or that he was super tall or super short, or that he had some chronic wasting disease that made sitting in an office chair impossible and painful, or that my cubicle size/layout made the extra chair impractical. It really was just as simple as I suggested: a new employee just didn’t really get it.

    I love this blog but this is so accurate LOL

    1. Emily*

      It really is! It would be good for folks to keep the old adage in mind, “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.”

      1. Roland*

        People here will say this means you’re discriminating against zebras and probably hate them. Not hypothetical, seen this again and again. Love the comment section overall, but… Yeah.

        1. tamarack+and+fireweed*

          It takes confident good judgement (and a willingness to course-correct if necessary) to know when to go with the suggestion of horses and when to bring up zebras. Because sometimes it *is* zebras, and we’ve had such cases. But yeah, this one is a good example how for some, concern trolling is just a little easier than developing a honed critical sense. (Suggestion: If you look at yourself and find that you *usually* suggest zebras when there’s talk about hoofbeats, you probably have to calibrate. Zebras is a definite possibility, but there’ll be additional check you can make, and *most of the time* it’ll still be horses.)

      2. JSPA*

        Maybe it just reflects a general trust that we’re all competent to think of the (obvious) horse ourselves, but that only some will think of zebras, onagers, moose, mule deer?

      3. YaetAnotherAnalyst*

        The difficulty with that adage is always deciding which option is the horse and which is the zebra. In my experience, folks who defy social norms *for no reason* are very much the zebra. Collectively, folks for whom the norm presents unusual difficulties and folks who grew up in a culture or subculture where it was not a norm are much more common.

      4. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        All the “but what if it’s zebras?” derailing I see everywhere (not just on AAM, but it is *really* bad here!) is why I now use, “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not unicorns.” Even if you believe in unicorns, you’re probably reasonable enough to admit that the chances of those hoofbeats belonging to such a rare creature are near-infinitesimally small.

        Of course (or “ofc” to reference another thread from this week, and LOL), not everyone is reasonable, or chooses to be in the moment.

        1. Coconutty*

          And it’s incredibly rare and a non-insignificant number of commenters here will twist themselves into pretzels to find the zebra answer when it’s highly unlikely, even if the letter-writer has already given plenty of reasonable context

        2. Claire*

          Hence the word “probably” and not “definitely.” The phrase is about probabilities. Literally no one is saying that because horses exist and are more numerous than zebras, that therefore no zebras exist anywhere. That’s not what the phrase means. It means “There might be times when there are zebras, but that’s never the most likely answer, so don’t bet on it unless and until you have ruled out horses.”

    2. Lana Kane*

      We have a saying in Spanish, “Buscarle las cinco patas al gato” – looking for the cat’s 5th leg (no, not that one, weirdos!)

      It can really derail a post.

    3. Presea*

      I think a big part of the issue is that the comment sections are made of many individual people, not just some hivemind. Everyone thinks the stripes they think they see are the most important ones.

    4. marvin*

      I always find this phenomenon interesting but I can see how it could be frustrating for letter writers. I do particularly appreciate the really baffling letters and I can see why people would want to search for an interesting or satisfying explanation for what is most likely just a mysterious human quirk. Sometimes the unresolved mysteries are the most compelling.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        I find it frustrating as a reader. Either the OP doesn’t give a ton of information, and super outlandish scenarios are thought up or they’re accused of hiding facts, or a bunch of information is given, and it’s nitpicked to death.

    5. Sherm*

      And the update shows why latching onto an improbable reason is not helpful: By focusing on the most likely scenario — Sam was tired of sitting — the OP was able to find a solution.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Which is why I think the default advice of “communicate directly” is usually the best. I do agree that we can end up in left field, but I also find that as a regular reader of the blog the comment sections do give me a lot of empathy for the diverse cross sections of life.

        But yes as a writer, probably nothing is more helpful than “have you talked to the person you’re having an issue with about the issue?”

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Like many commenters, I read this site 50% for useful advice, 50% for entertainment. So when the comment sections get really wild, that’s partly because it’s just fun for people to speculate and debate reasons for really weird stuff (and partly because we sometimes get way too emotionally invested in the problems of people in advice column letters – I know that I’ve done this many times.)

        But sometimes people DO just act strangely at work without having a tragic backstory, convoluted personal situation or undiagnosed medical condition. Since it’s a lot less interesting, we don’t often default to the simple and boring explanation. I absolutely understand why we do this as commenters, but it can sometimes make the comments section less useful for the person whose letter is being answered.

        1. hamsterpants*

          The worst thing about the speculation is that it is bad advice! Managers and colleagues should *not* be speculating about the religious or medical reasons behind someone’s behavior. Simple communication + listening with an open mind to any requested accommodations is the best path.

          1. That'sNotMyName*

            Yes! Because even IF the commenters are able to pinpoint the cultural, medical, etc reason two people with the same reason might want to handle it differently. It also means people don’t feel like they have to be experts in every possible medical, religious, cultural, etc issue out there.

        2. Clobberin' Time*

          The problem with that is people are forgetting there’s a real human being on the other end of that “entertainment”, who wrote in asking for advice with a problem they couldn’t figure out on their own. It’s really disheartening to see people acting as though the real human being is some kind of reality-TV figure whose job is to provide updates for their amusement, or to absorb all kinds of rampant speculation for fun or Internet points.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yeah, exactly – though I think anyone who reads the comments regularly and sends in a letter will probably have some idea of what to expect. You’re right that it’s so easy to forget that the people in these letters are humans, and humans are just infinitely weird, sometimes for no real reason.

      3. marvin*

        It’s kind of a question of scale, which is difficult to manage when you’ve got hundreds of strangers offering up their individual takes.

        I think it actually is helpful for letter writers to keep in mind that there may be factors going on behind the scenes that they’re not aware of. But it’s not helpful in the form of hundreds of comments aggressively speculating on what those factors might be.

      1. LawBee*

        Omg the dude who ate all the bagels right? He couldn’t possibly be a jerk, it must be food insecurity. (Maybe not him, haha, but that’s the letter that stuck out in my mind.)

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          That one was something else. Even after the OP confirmed the guy was an upper mid class white guy, people still were trying to come up with scenarios why he didn’t suck.

          1. Ah Yes*

            I feel like especially when it’s a woman writing in about a dude, people will bend over backwards to try to explain why it’s not his fault and is probably her fault.

        2. EC*

          I think it could be literally any letter on office food theft. There will always be people suggesting that they must be secretly destitute and can only feed their family by stealing the whole buffet/pizza/whatever.

          My BF works for a white shoe firm and they had to discontinue having free lunches because partners and higher up associates were taking armfuls of sandwiches. None of these people is food insecure, some people are just weird selfish pigs about free food.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I really want to know more about the convo Alison had with her guy. Did she just tell him to use a chair or was there a longer convo about office norms and what were his thoughts? I want to know what he was thinking.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think the problem is that a lot of people can’t help but think, “there must be a REASON for someone to do something so weird. Why on earth would they do that without a good reason?”

      1. MarsJenkar*

        Yeah, I think the reason people were speculating was that the metaphorical hoofbeats didn’t match a typical metaphorical horse, so people began to speculate. Maybe it was a zebra, or a donkey. Maybe the horse had an injury. Et cetera.

        And the answer turned out to be that it was just an ordinary horse that happened to have an odd gait.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          But it did match! The OP said in their letter that the employee just appeared to prefer kneeling /not like sitting, and that was exactly the scenario. Zero speculation was needed.

      2. hbc*

        I also think it’s more likely in the cases where the OP or an early commenter write something like “There’s absolutely no innocent reason he could be doing this” or “The only possible reason he’s kneeling is because he thinks you are the goddess Athena.” Those people know (or have themselves been) innocent kneelers then feel it necessary to give the other possibilities.

      3. Sylvan*

        I think that’s it! Also, sometimes you recognize something that you saw in real life, and you want to explain what you saw.

      4. BubbleTea*

        I work with survivors of abuse and I hear this a lot – either the survivor is trying to process why someone would treat them so badly, or people in their life are unable to believe there’s not a rational explanation other than “it’s a deliberate attempt to control me”. Nor that kneeling in the office is a form of abuse, but the desire for a rational explanation is the same.

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        Basically, yeah. If somebody stood on his head to talk to me, I wouldn’t go “his feet must be tired.” I’d be combing my brain for a reason!

    7. Elle*

      This. Almost every update now contains an aside from the LW noting how insanely out of control the comments got. I don’t know if it’s something that Alison can really address (or should be obliged to even try to) but it’s a continual source of frustration from me.

      I will never forget a commenter balking at another commenter referring to the adage, “if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras” because it’s not fair to people with unusual issues because they are more likely to assume that an issue involves something complicated rather than run-of-the-mill. The point truly is just… whizzing by these people.

      1. Chaos Emerald*

        Reminds me of that post from a while back about the employee calling their boss a fatass & a bunch of commenters went on long tangents about OCD, which wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the letter.

        1. Elle*

          Oh MY GOD. Oh, my GOD. Honestly stuff like this is why I’ve held off asking questions outside of speed sessions, even though I’m currently a new manager with a TON of issues I’d really love some Alison wisdom on. I don’t need to see a bunch of people assuming the absolute worst of me… I am already freaking out enough about whether I’m doing an okay job. :-\

          1. Bunny Watson*

            You’re probably doing an okay job because one, you read this site, and two you’re freaking about it which means you care enough that it matters. Remember to be kind to yourself, and good luck to you!

          2. Chilipepper Attitude*

            First, you are thinking about the job you do, that puts you well ahead of the game!
            And I am sure your staff feels that.

            Second, I’m sorry you feel like you cannot ask your questions. I’d urge you to do it but you know yourself best and know how you feel. Maybe try posting in the Friday sessions under different names! You can say, well, no one liked how Chutney handled that but everyone liked Paulette’s question!

          3. hamsterpants*

            I think most readers of this site have the perspective of an employee, not a manager, so the “advice” tends to be more of a wishlist of how a hypothetical manager could accommodate their own issues. (Remember the one about an employee who fell asleep in meetings, and the comments section was all about how obviously the meetings were too boring and it was all the manager’s fault?)

            When I was having issues with an intern, the advice was overwhelmingly that he probably had XYZ specific disability and to change my entire workflow (and do waaaaaaay more work) to accommodate XYZ specific disability. I literally couldn’t take the advice due to the extra work involved on my part but with time and communication it became clear that — surprise! — the intern simply wasn’t used to business norms and needed some course-correction.

            1. Dona Florinda*

              “I think most readers of this site have the perspective of an employee, not a manager, so the “advice” tends to be more of a wishlist of how a hypothetical manager could accommodate their own issues.”

              You nailed it.

              1. Allonge*

                Well, either that or the vision of Evil Manager which also seems to come up any time any manager basically does anything remotely uncomfortable for an employee to handle, including expecting them to work.

            2. Lana Kane*

              “I think most readers of this site have the perspective of an employee, not a manager, so the “advice” tends to be more of a wishlist of how a hypothetical manager could accommodate their own issues. ”

              This is exactly right.

            3. Camelid coordinator*

              This is such a good insight! And on the other side of your point about the intern, I had an employee with some formal accommodations and a bunch of informal ones that affected the workflow of the whole office. I did not enjoy the conversation where I said we could not adjust our work any more.

            4. LollipopOSHA*

              The one I will never forget is the recent discussion about icebreakers. A lot of fair points were made that I ultimately agreed with (ie, a badly done icebreaker is pointless and frustrating). But various commentators seemed to vehemently disagree with the concept because of their own highly personal issues. A lot of them were real problems, to be sure, like intense social anxiety or severe trauma. But it’s like – I can understand why someone with an eating disorder would wish no one would ask them about food, without agreeing that only a monster would turn to their coworker and say, “Did you have a good lunch?”.

          4. Lily+Rowan*

            But you KNOW that commenters get loony, so you can just ignore them, right? (I say this, having myself gotten some mildly negative feedback on a question I had answered, and had to step back, take many deep breaths, go for a walk, etc.!)

          5. Phillippe II*

            But their assumptions are a them problem and not a you problem. You know to expect it going in, so just ignore the whack-jobs and run with the good advice that comes along with them. I find the whackadoodles great entertainment and wonder what color the sky is in their world.

            Besides, your handle won’t be associated with your question unless you state it in the replies, and none of us know you (most likely). I know (I think) two people who comment here; one I wouldn’t recognize on the street, we only met once.

      2. Clobberin' Time*

        It’s like that tweet about how when somebody posts “I like pancakes” they get piled on with “So you really hate waffles?!” and “Telling that you didn’t mention breakfast foods like muffins, maybe educate yourself”.

    8. LawBee*

      So true, hahaha. Lots of zebras when the LW says “I have a horse farm”. Most of the time I love it. :D

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        I find it annoying. I feel like with every comment I make, I have to include a million disclaimers about why I’m not addressing certain things or all of the replies become a derailing train of gotchas.

        1. Flowers*

          oh my goodness yes. I’ve written down so many posts/questions and I’m always adding a disclaimer or something that eventually I just forget about writing it; eventually a few days pass and whatever question I have has resolved itself for the moment.

          and it’s not just here – I’m in a few online groups and I pay attention to how things are posted and how they get derailed.

        2. Zorak*

          But have you considered that these derailing commenters might be experiencing food insecurity, and are just lightheaded? Or that they hail from a culture where being wildly unhelpful is a sign of respect? ;)

          1. londonedit*

            But don’t mention the cultural difference, because then you’ll get ‘I think you’ll find this is a US blog for a US readership, I’m sick of people from other countries commenting here’… /s

    9. Robin*

      A lot of the fanfiction can be funny, but when it’s day in day out of fanfiction that goes to the extreme, or heavy nitpicking, it can get really really frustrating to read through. I know for me it’s gotten to the point where I don’t check the comments for any actual advice, and only show up if I know that it’s going to be funny or out there enough to fill my lunch break.

    10. Zorak*

      It’s so annoying to see this fanfic tendency. If Sam had some obvious contributing factor, OP would have said so. Having to write with no flair and excessive details and caveats to ward off this kind of thing shouldn’t be as necessary as it is.

    11. RCB*

      This is honestly why I’ve stopped engaging with this site so much, the comments sections goes so far off on a tangent, and not even a reasonable one, that it’s just difficult a lot. For example:
      Me: My boss missed our call today.
      Commenters: He’s dead/He hates you, or his entire house burnt down and there is NO OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION!
      What really happened: My boss accidentally forgot to put the call in his calendar and forgot about it.

      I love you all, but you really do take things to extremes too much and are often very wrong. Occam’s Razor is something we should all think about a little more.

    12. Gerry Keay*

      I mean honestly I only read the comments on this site BECAUSE they’re so wild and often silly. Like, ya know, we’re all bored at work, sometimes the mind just generates a more exciting world.

    13. Advice Please! :) (no advice needed today)*

      I love this website/the commenters, but this is 100% true. The length of the comment section would be cut in half if readers trusted that the letter writers gave all the relevant information and didn’t throw out every possibility under the sun as if the writer didn’t consider them previously.

    14. Yoyoyo*

      My favorite was that time people were insisting that it was unreasonable to expect folks with curly hair to come to work with it reasonably dry, and if that was going to be the expectation then they should be paid for the time spent getting ready in the morning.

    1. Quinalla*

      Yes, I laughed very hard. Thanks OP for the update and for sharing the mildly awkward, but good resolution of this. And good for you too for pointing him to a sit/stand desk :)

      1. Mrs. Badcrumble*

        That’s a deep cut, well played. (LOVED the Young Ones, I still use the roller disco line a lot more than I should.)

  2. Goldenrod*

    I remember this letter so well! The update is great – OP, you handled it perfectly!

    hahahahha, I love the “surprise twist” that this guy was just a big freak.

      1. Tragus*

        Agreed. Not liking the othering that comes with name calling. Sam is just a dude with a different choice of posture than some people are used to.

    1. That+One+Person*

      Eh while I wouldn’t kneel at someone else’s desk I have definitely done it at my own desk when my back is tired of sitting. Unfortunately I don’t have adjustable desks in my current role and need breaks from the sitting. Used to be able to more actively move through the building, but these days post lockdown I have to listen for the door more since I’m the only one in my position now so freedom’s a bit more restrictive. Glad the guy was able to switch desks though to help with the issue.

  3. ferrina*

    The sit/stand desk suggestion was so smart. Especially since a new hire might not even know what was an option. I was wondering if it was just more comfortable for him to kneel, and this is such a great way to address an underlying issue. Great idea, LW!

    1. HugeTractsofLand*

      +1! This was a supportive manager move…even though it was literally removing his support!

    1. MS*

      I can’t tell if you’re joking or not, but I think it’s reasonable to be wary of the optics within the workplace, especially if it’s something that’s off-putting or jarring body language. Plus, LW did originally ask if they were being too rigid/intense in their feelings. I think if it

  4. Enginear*

    Had a new hire straight out of school who would just walk to people’s cubicle and stand there
    staring at the person until they were acknowledged before asking their question.

    1. Raw Flour*

      I’ve got one of those right now. She has other issues, too, but that one feels pretty notable. Thankfully *I’m* not her boss, but I’ve weighed the pros and cons of asking her boss whether this employee (a recent grad) seems coachable or not.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        The next time it happens you could also say “hey Jane, if you need to talk to someone it’s better to say ‘Susan, do you have a minute’ instead of waiting for them to perceive you.” You don’t have to be a boss to do that!

  5. EyeLevelNotCrotchLevel*

    …Is this a serious comment? The guy was kneeling on the floor in front of the LW’s lap in a cubicle. The kneeler had no problem sitting in any other scenario, and the LW having this guy’s face in his crotch in HIS WORKSPACE was making the LW uncomfortable. It’s so bizarre that you would take the LW to task for not wanting to be made uncomfortable at his own desk!

    1. bamcheeks*

      How are you envisioning this that Sam’s crotch is in LW’s face? If Sam is kneeling, his crotch is about 18” off the floor (unless he has SPETACULARLY long femurs) and his head is probably just below LW’s?

      1. Temperance*

        I sort of pictured like, sitting on his legs? Which would put him at groin height. And if OP is female and/or ever wears skirts or dresses, that would make it weird.

    2. Tragus*

      I really want to know the heights of everyone involved. I am 5’8″, and I just knelt on my floor, knees on ground, toes under heels, buns on heels. My head is about where a seated person’s shoulders would be, if they were sitting in my office chair and my height. *shrug* Really seems like a giant deal over nothing at all.

      1. Everything+Bagel*

        You might feel differently if you were the person sitting in the chair and it happened repeatedly, day after day.

      2. Lydia*

        Literally no giant deal is being made here. OP was uncomfortable and you not understanding it doesn’t matter.

    1. Samwise*

      Really? Your employee kneels in front of you? Every time he is in your office? That’s not weird? You’re not at least…puzzled? Maybe you’re not freaked out, but it’s understandable that the LW is.

      While I can think of some jobs that may require kneeling (auto mechanic, tailor, …), the only one that require kneeling before *your boss* is Christian priest or nun.

      1. bamcheeks*

        No, I think it’s a perfectly normal position to adopt if you’re stopping briefly by someone desk and want to chat or show them something on paper or on the computer screen, and I wouldn’t find it weird either way. I’ve had a boss who did this and I’ve done it with peers— I’ve only line-managed since we went to remote working so it’s not come up so the someone I manage but I wouldn’t find it weird. I’d consider it a perfectly normal thing for a physically healthy person to do, and a good way to *stay* physically healthy because it’s an easy way to vary your posture.

        1. Don't kneel in front of me*

          I specifically address in my original letter that this was not a case of quickly stopping by.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I think it’s ok that you find it weird and found a way to get him to behave differently without needing to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it’s objectively weird and every person definitely agrees with you!

            1. Lydia*

              I think most people find it weird and uncomfortable and even if you don’t, the LW gets to ask about something he finds weird and uncomfortable.

            2. Yeppers*

              This feels a little “not everybody can have sandwiches”. LW found it weird and wrote in, finding this weird is not abnormal

        2. I should really pick a name*

          I have literally never seen that done in an office.
          It’s not a big deal, but I would never describe it as normal.

      2. Tragus*

        No, not at all. I think projecting subservience is the weird part. He’s just … kneeling.

        Times like this I am thankful to be spectrum. Why do other people rent out so much space in their head worrying about other people’s behaviors?

        1. c_c*

          Because this particular behavior could reflect poorly on OP as a manager and ear OP a reputation they don’t want. Beyond that, there’s the chance for less likely but more extreme consequences, such as someone misinterpreting and thinking something sexual is going on. When other people’s behaviors can cause negative consequences for you, it’s worth a little thought on what can be done.

        2. Lydia*

          Because whether you agree or not, other people’s behaviors can impact your level of ease and comfort. Just because you’re on the spectrum doesn’t mean at no point will you ever come across someone whose behavior makes you uncomfortable. And you’re allowed to feel uncomfortable and to speak up if you are.

          1. Tragus*

            It’s mostly OP’s beliefs about Sam’s behaviors that impacted his level of ease, not the behaviors themselves. OP is allowed to feel whatever he wants to feel, but he should address his feelings by interrogating the thoughts he is projecting onto Sam. Feelings of discomfort don’t always stem from wrongdoing by another person. Sometimes they are internally generated. Even NT people can learn that.

            1. Lydia*

              It’s called having boundaries. Being annoyed by a behavior is not the same as being uncomfortable. If you do something that makes me uncomfortable, you are probably brushing up against one of my boundaries and I get to tell you that. After that, it’s on you to change your behavior. Telling people their uncomfortable feelings are on them is not only incorrect, it reinforces the idea that managing other people’s behavior is the responsibility of the people who are uncomfortable, and it is decidedly not. Even ND people can learn that.

        3. Santiago*

          We assume social context matters to behavior because otherwise literally everything would be meaningless. Language is arbitrary, yet we agree upon shared meanings.

          Kneeling as a gesture has subservient connotations in Western cultures, based in thousands of years of history as to when people kneeled before one another. Times 2 in the power structure of work, times 2 from a junior to a senior, times 2 when facing one another for an extended period of time. I like kneeling – when I’m praying or drinking tea – but logically I am aware that behavior exists within a social construct.

    2. Qwerty*

      It might be something you have to see in order to get. The OP had stated it wasn’t a casual taking the knee or a quick visit, which is where our minds go to (since that’s more logical). I worked with a new grad once who was a bit like this, and it’s definitely weird and hard to describe. He agreed too once he saw a picture!

    3. comfyking*

      I agree with you but I am sadly not surprised. I find crouching/squatting very comfortable, and so I sit in this position regularly. It attracts regular comments when I do it around others, some indicating discomfort.

      I have no idea why it bothers folk, I am just sitting how I want to sit, but I can tell it really gets under some people’s skin.

      1. Lydia*

        If you’re asked not to do in your boss’ office, I would hope your response would be to just not do it in your boss’ office. That is literally all that letter was about.

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        I find having my shoes off more comfortable than having them on. That doesn’t mean I’m going to take them off in the office, especially if someone says it makes them uncomfortable.

        1. Spain*

          Oh! I would! I do, take my shoes off in the office, regularly. I can’t sit comfortably for long stretches without sitting cross-legged, or otherwise on my feet, which requires shoes off. If someone told me it makes them uncomfortable, I’d certainly avoid doing it at their desk, but I’d continue to do it at my own desk

    4. LollipopOSHA*

      I in turn am baffled by people who think it’s “freaking out” to observe, “Something unusual is happening, it bothers me a bit, and I’m not sure what, if anything, I should do.”

  6. RJ*

    The AAM commentariat has seen some…stuff. I’m glad that it was just a case of an employee not getting it, but with all the insanity that is the modern workplace, the simplest cause isn’t usually what’s in effect anymore. Welcome to the post-pandemic world.

    1. Raw Flour*

      Post-pandemic? I watched a coworker get bitten by a rattlesnake in 2014 because he saw it in the parking lot and thought it would be fun to bring it inside and show it off to out coworkers. We’re in IT.

  7. KatEnigma*

    My money was on “tired of sitting”

    2 companies ago, my husband worked for a large company that had treadmill desks in a central location, that you could reserve for an hour at a time. He would take his laptop and plug in there when he had tasks that required more thinking or watching than typing. And he wasn’t terribly young or active!

    1. JustaTech*

      My 2x boss used to kneel at his desk before we got sit-stand desks, because it was more comfortable for him and helped him get the wiggles out (to use a very juvenile phrase).
      I have a new coworker who loves her sit-stand desk because she’s one of those people who is just happier in motion than sitting.

      I also had a coworker who was horrified that she was going to be expected to stand on one foot at her standing desk (because the little sheet that came with the desk recommended occasionally putting one foot up on something), because she had serious balance problems. “It’s just a suggestion, you don’t ever have to put it into stand mode if you don’t want to.” “Oh.” (She could be very literal sometimes.)

  8. allornone*

    I recently acquired a sit/stand desk set-up. I absolutely love it. When my back acts up or I otherwise just need to stand, I can. I actually think I work better standing up (maybe too many years in retail).

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Many years ago I “inherited” a short book shelf to which someone had attached a wide shelf as a writing surface. Perfect height for a laptop. The change in posture helped so much, but I took a surprising amount of flack about it so I stopped. I didn’t feel strongly enough about it to push back. I was just tired of being the one different colored chicken in a flock who gets pecked.

      1. allornone*

        I was afraid to ask for one for the same reason- I didn’t want to seem too weird or field any unnecessary flack. But I got lucky when I noticed that the CEO has one, so I asked his assistant (who really runs the office) if it would be weird for me to purchase one of my own. She told me to wait on it, and a week later, thanks to her, I inherited one from another departing manager. Be nice to executive assistants- they will totally hook you up when they can.

    2. A Becky*

      I love to stand up for about half an hour right after lunch to fight the postprandial sleepies and for maybe half an hour at some other point in the day and just stretch my hips out a bit (gentle side-side slide, no acrobatics!)

  9. Tragus*

    No telling if he’s gone back to his subservient ways or not.

    That’s an odd projection. It sounds like your beliefs about why he knelt are actually worse for you than the kneeling itself.

    1. Llama Identity Thief*

      I dunno, that reads to me more like a tongue-in-cheek joke about the weirdness of the situation than it does actually believing it’s some sort of subservience thing.

        1. Don't+kneel+in+front+of+me*

          Since you have self-described as “on the spectrum” I can tell you, without a doubt, that kneeling is often used as punishment or a sign of submission and it has been for hundreds and hundreds of years. Because of this: lots of people–including coworkers and bosses that walk by and witness this behavior–would connect the act of kneeling to an act of submission/servitude/etc.

          That being said: my original post is pretty clear that I think he’s just kneeling. Hence why my joke about his subserviant ways is just that: a joke.

          1. Llama Identity Thief*

            This. It’s not that we’re ascribing a submissive intention to the person in question, it’s that in the majority (I’d go so far as to say strong majority) of cases this position is taken, it is as a sign of submission/servitude. The situation of “we are in a workplace” would be more than enough to stop any such projection of his intention, but it doesn’t change the cultural implication of this position we’ve been beaten over the head with for basically our entire lives taking immediate shape.

          2. An Actual Submissive Who Kneels*

            I’m a submissive in a BDSM relationship/power exchange and I kneel (“submit”) to my partner on the regular as part of our dynamic. We KNOW that in the US and much of Europe, etc, this posture is viewed as you describe. Therefore, it’s an act I perform ONLY in private since the public cannot consent to witnessing my submission in this way and consent is big in our world. So, yes, this is very odd and I’d absolutely request he sit in a chair in my office.

              1. An Actual Submissive Who Kneels*

                FWIW, my submission posture feels more submissive/vulnerable to me than a kneeling position used in the Catholic church. It’s definitely not a “normal” thing in most situations. JMO.

    2. Lydia*

      It sounds like you’re choosing not to hear the OP and deciding for yourself, one might say projecting, what you’d like them to mean.

        1. Mailer Daemon Targaryen*

          “Here’s what I think the OP meant”
          OP: “Actually, I just meant this.”
          “No, you definitely meant [other thing]”

          Like…do you hear yourself? Let it go, dude.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              And contributing to the “but what if they’re on the spectrum and can’t understand clear instructions” (when generally that is NOT the case) comments in the future.

  10. ENFP in Texas*

    I love that the OP not only addressed the issue, but also had additional advice (the sit/stand desk) to help the co-worker who might otherwise not have been aware of it.

  11. Sitting, ugh*

    I would have loved to have a sit-stand desk! It’s nearly impossible to get the right angle for my hands, elbows, neck, back, etc in any office chair and desk setup. At home I stand up at the laptop (on a surface that’s the perfect height) unless I need to do a lot of thinking and writing.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’m starting a job next week that’s partial WFH and I ordered a desk from Uplift Desk for my home office. It was a little pricey, but I’m excited about it! (now I just have to put it together…)

    2. Coenobita*

      Sit-stand desks for everyone!!! We have the electric kind at my office, so not only can you raise up your desk, you can also set it at your preferred height for sitting. As a short person, it’s revolutionary to have the desk be at the right height for me when I’m seated.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this.

        Everyone has standing desks at my office now. I’m at head office, and most of us still have assigned desks, but because we’re going to be hybrid for the foreseeable future, they wanted easily adjustable desks and chairs so that it’d be easy to borrow someone else’s desk if necessary. Lots of people are standing at least part of the time. There’s no such thing as a desk providing perfect posture, but if you switch positions, your next one’s always going to be a bit better than the last one, at least for a while.

        1. JustaTech*

          I thought I would use the standing portion of my desk more than I do (I almost only ever use it when I have to pay close attention to something I find boring, like a mandatory training), but being able to set my desk to exactly the right height for me is awesome (and I’m a very average height person).

  12. Not+really+antisocial.+Just+anti+waste+time*

    I find it super weird that some commenters don’t think it is weird- Please don’t kneel at my desk. I work with high schoolers and i would never allow them to do that- it’s just…. Well. Weird

    1. Llama Identity Thief*

      I don’t find that very strange. We find it weird largely due to our cultural understanding of what that position often entails. People who do not pick up as easily on cultural understandings, or people who grew up in a culture where kneeling does not carry the same implication wouldn’t have picked up the same “weirdness.”

      1. Roland*

        > We find it weird largely due to our cultural understanding of what that position often entails.

        I mean… Yes. That’s why it’s weird.

        1. Llama Identity Thief*

          I’m not trying to say that the kneeling isn’t weird. I’m saying that it’s reasonable not everyone would pick up kneeling has that weirdness.

  13. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

    There’s a wide age range in the commentariat here – as someone who was at work in the 1970s I can tell you that it seemed almost obligatory for any man who saw any woman kneel down or bend down within six feet of him to say the phrase “while you’re down there…” , which other men were expected to find the height of amusing sexual banter. The sexual innuendos were constant. And this was in an office environment. I realise that if I see someone kneeling by a man in an office setting, all these years later, the unwelcome “while you’re down there…” phrase still resonates in my head. So – those resonances from lived experiences do have an impact for some commenters!
    I am very glad that for other commenters that they have not lived/worked in that kind of environment and that their response is more one of puzzlement; that is a beneficial change.

    1. Raw Flour*

      I’m a fair bit younger, but always heard “while you’re down there” when I was in school in the 90s/00s. Someday, some person younger than me is going to ask why my approach to picking an object off the floor is like a matronly version of the “bunny dip”. I hope it’ll be because they’ve never heard (or made) such a comment.

    2. I need a new name...*

      Working in retail only 5 or so years ago, I still heard that when I was stocking a lower shelf.

      Hah. So funny. Amazing. What a witty thing to say to young woman who looks a *lot* younger.

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