my favorite posts of 2022

Here are my favorite posts of 2022, in no particular order:

1. My new hire built a blanket nest in her office
Because I fully adore the thought of someone doing this.

2. I can’t escape Halloween Town
Because I don’t think I’d want to live in Halloween Town either but I am so pleased to know it exists.

3. Mortification Week, all of it
Because I think mortification is one of the ultimate shared experiences.

4. Our new phones have fewer speed dial buttons and everyone is freaking out
Because there is little better than a full-drama, full-office freak-out over something so minor.

5. The fake crossing guard, the controversial coat rack, and other abuses of tiny amounts of power
Because there is no amount of power too small for someone somewhere to want to abuse it and these ended up being some of the best stories of the year.

6. My coworker saves hair
Because she’s saving her hair.

7. Don’t trust the answers to “how would you describe your management style?”
Because I’ve meant to write this one for years.

8. Ask a Manager speed round (and part 2)
Because these are fun to do.

9. New hire keeps kneeling in front of me
Because I love this sort of minor but weird stuff.

10. Interview with a haunted house cast member
Because I found this fascinating and couldn’t stop asking questions.

11. My coworker passes me messages “from the CEO” … that I think are really from her
Because I love the intrigue of it.

12. The new hire who showed up is not the same person we interviewed (and the update)
Because of the drama and — never mind, I don’t believe anyone could question the reason for including this one.

What were your favorites of the year?

Want more? Here are my lists from 2021, 2020201820172016201420132012, and 2011 and the whole last decade.

{ 62 comments… read them below }

    1. Giant Kitty*

      It sounds like a dream job & environment to me. My brother and I were building front yard haunted houses back in the day where our only options were to make everything from scratch.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        We were in Jaycee haunted houses for years. And then our daughter and her friends created one in our back yards. Let’s just say that we got free shipping from Oriental Trading Company for *years* after that. \

        Still have my five feet long rubber snakes…

  1. Rachel*

    Alison, your blog has been a great joy of my life for the past 8+ years throughout many different jobs and I am so thankful for you and all the hard work you invest. Thank you, thank you!!

  2. CharlieBrown*

    Those people with the speed dial phones, though. I just cannot imagine what that must have been like.

    1. My cat is the employee of the month*

      I can! But low stakes office drama that gets people really worked up is one of my favorite things! Not to the point of causing it, of course.

    2. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I’m more confused/impressed that so many people care about a desk phone in the 21st century. I don’t want anyone to call me ever. Email is where it’s at!

      Given my public-facing role, I never answer my phone (at home or work) unless I know who it is and I want to talk to them.

      Not responding cuts out 90% of my calls. If it’s important, they’ll leave a VM.

      1. soontoberetired*

        Some jobs really need a phone, and a landline at that for reliability. Our building has cell phone dead spots, and wifi phones have issues. We got new phones tied into our computer which was not great (not good quality) but also, if your computer died you couldn’t call anyone. Use your cell to call the help desk, they said. Great, but this building is a dead zone………… so not a freakout, but this change didn’t go over well, and those who really needed reliable phones at all times, got landlines.

        And they still haven’t done anything about the deadzones.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        It would make no difference to me now, but I’m thinking of when I worked on a news desk, and we’d get calls all the time that needed to be transferred across to the correct reporter if they were not after you specifically. Having a speed dial certainly helped with that. There’s no way to really replace that incoming phone call electronically, because if they were calling with a story it was best to sound out the validity of what they were saying with instant questions and listening to voice tone. I’m thinking of the time I was told animals were being slaughtered illegally in my news patch and the time I was told local politicians were being set up for false sexual allegations by vindictive anti-political party females. In the first scenario it was just a racist rumour about a certain ethnic group in the area, and in the second the sexual allegations were totally true, but the caller believed the 12 year old girl victims were “totally up for it” and less repeatable language as to their character. I enjoyed telling that guy off in person.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      It’s like living in The Onion. You think people are kidding. You wonder if you’re the central piece in a Punk’d segment. You assume that this is some sort of elaborate practical joke.

      But, no, everyone is quite serious and wastes absurd amount of time being petty, waxing about the “good old days”, and complaining about *you* personally for bringing this horror upon them.

    4. Veryanon*

      My company replaced our desk phones with soft phones on our laptops, which made a ton of sense as many of us had gone remote either part or full time, and the desk phones were costly to keep. You would have thought that the IT Department had just performed a ritual murder in the middle of the cafeteria by the way people reacted. It was…really something to behold.

  3. Not my real name*

    I just reread the coatrack one and had a flashback to a long, earnest discussion about the appropriate toilet paper for our company to buy.

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

      A conversation happened today at work about which urinal cakes to put the men’s bathroom and I mean, I cannot even handle how ridiculous it was. I couldn’t even muster the energy to respond- why is this something anyone even has an opinion about?!

      1. Giant Kitty*

        I had a roommate that used to get angry that we didn’t buy scratchy one ply industrial TP and also didn’t like being told to BYO if that’s what they preferred. (we have a Costco card & not nearly enough household storage space so a portion of the rent covers bulk buying the generally shared household items like TP, trash bags, dish soap, liquid hand soap, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, etc) Everyone else was fine with the generic Kirkland TP and was vehemently against using what we all termed “jail TP”.

  4. the cat's ass*

    Dang, folks, it was really be quite the year! Thank you, Alison and the commentariat for the laughter, absurdity, tears and straight up good advice. Oh, and mortification, too.

  5. Goldenrod*

    I love all of these but MORTIFICATION WEEK is my favorite of all!!

    Is there anything funnier than workplace mortification??? I just LOVE all of these stories. I can’t wait for next year!

    (Close second: Petty abuses of power!)

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

      I am dying for a Halloween Town update. I was hoping maybe that would be our Holiday present this year.

      1. Danish*

        I hope this doesn’t sound snarky because I’m very curious: What kind of update are you hoping for? IIRC the Halloween town letter was basically “this job is the life dream of the people who own it and they adore it, as do their customers, but I personally hate it here.” There didn’t seem to be much else to the story, so a happy update would basically be “I left”, which while a perfectly valid update isn’t really the kind of exciting or entertaining updates that get “hoped” for, usually!

        1. Giant Kitty*

          Except it didn’t seem to be simply “I hate it here” but “I hate it here because all these people can’t see how stupid & wrong they are to love Halloween like this and run their business the way they do and instead of me getting another job, I think THEY should be the ones to change because I have a million excuses as to why can’t take responsibility for my own life and get a different job”

          They went so far out of their way to be malicious to the people whose dream business this was that they (allegedly) became the focal point of the whole town for being such a Grinch and their child was (allegedly) ashamed to be associated with them. (Which, may all be true/have some basis in truth, though I doubt the real story will resemble the version that makes LW into a victim. Their letter was full of weasel worded, passive phrases that made it extremely unclear that anything they complained about was even an issue. It was chock full of ableist undertones as well.

          A good update would be them not just getting a different job but gaining the self awareness to realize how wildly out of line their attitudes & actions towards their ex employer was, and having true remorse/personal & emotional growth as a result of that- up to and including to making apologies/amends to the employer if desired & appropriate.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          That was sort of my thought when Alison asked for updates. I was going to say Halloween Town, then I realised what I really wanted to know there was more about the company and an update was more likely to be “I moved on and found a remote job/suitable job within commuting distance/decided to move away as I don’t fit in in the town,” all of which would be good news for the OP and possibly for the company too if they found a replacement more suited to their vision, but…it wouldn’t be one I’d be really excited for.

          What I would love is to hear from the owners or for Alison to do an interview with them. But I don’t think that is likely.

  6. Petty Betty*

    I think I will always shine as being the person to introduce “titty-slapped toddler” to AAM.
    *takes a bow*

  7. Indisch blau*

    I bought new pillows for Christmas and kept them in my office for a week before bringing them home. At least one person asked if I was planning to sleep in the office in the future. I said no and thought, maybe I should build a fort to work in.

  8. goddessoftransitory*

    Oh, man, the fake interviewee! I remember that because one of my worst personal nightmares is being stuck in a role or job I cannot perform, and that guy literally sought it out! I get that he thought he could get away with it because it was remote, but…dude. Apparently you weren’t listening in on the interview process, or even had the guy who did the interviews take any notes?

    1. Ama*

      I agree, the thing that puzzles me most about that one is not that someone tried it but that they put no effort into trying to get away with it.

      I can see how someone could be misguided enough to think “I could do that job even though I don’t have the credentials, I just need to get hired and they’ll see,” but I don’t know how they thought second John could just show up being a clearly different person in so many ways and no one would say anything.

    2. Anon for this*

      In all seriousness, this is a huge problem on the rise. We recently discovered that someone we hired for a programming position, who interviewed really well, was being fed the answers by their spouse during the interview, and actually had no experience at all. Their resume was fake, too. I’m not sure how they passed our background check as the vendor we use verifies past employment, education, etc., and that’s something I’m following up on with the vendor.

      We ended up firing them, but all the time, effort, and money sunk into finding this person, paying them for the time they were with our company, and then having to start all over again was really Not Great.

    1. thatoneoverthere*

      I am very curious for an update to this as well. I had a boss that did this once. I worked for a teeny tiny non-profit. It had 5 people on staff only and we got a new Executive Director. There was no one above him but the Board. He would just leave for hours on end (way pre-COVID). Come in late, leave early and be totally unreachable. Eventually we reported it to the Board and it stopped. He was nice guy but a terrible ED. He was fired after I left the organization.

      We never figured out where he went or what he did. Our best guess was he had nothing to do and simply just went home or to run errands.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        But an incompetent one that keeps getting stuck in the phone box while trying to change into his spandex, hence the long absences.

  9. MI Dawn*

    I’ve been reading Alison’s blog (which I found googling for help with managing!) since 2013. 2 years as a manager and I stepped down – I liked managing but my then grandboss was (and still is) a nightmare and I was having thoughts of driving into trees just so I didn’t have to deal with them.

    I changed departments, dropping from management back to individual contributor and I’ve never been happier. I applied for the manager job in my current department but didn’t get it – my coworker did – and as time has gone on, and I see all the stuff they put up with, I’m very happy to plan my working towards retirement (5 years hopefully!) as an IC and under Boss.

    Thank you, Alison and commentariat, for all your words, work, support over the years. May we all find 2023 to be a better year!

    1. Giant Kitty*

      It sounds like it belongs in the song by a band I love which uses the line “bridge of tongues” LOL

  10. MEH Squared*

    I was pro-blanket nest all the way. I am glad we had a resolution to the administrative assistant who had the scary boss who demanded complete emotional fealty (she quit and thus escaped) and a resolution to the woman who’s boss was a jerk to her husband (also quit and boss gave her a very creepy card when she left).

    Thank you, Alison, for the excellent workplace advice (along with life advice) you continue to offer and for fostering a great commentariat. Wishing everyone a terrific 2023.

  11. Lalouve*

    I actually was asked about my management style (by the HR person taxed with finding me a leadership coach)! I said ”possessive and territorial.”

    1. Lalouve*

      That should have been ”tasked with” but possibly autocorrect got it more roght than I thought…

    2. Madame Arcati*

      “Well perhaps I can sit down for a chat about that and try to help”
      “Get out of my office”
      “Fergus, support me on this; wouldn’t you like to work better with Lalouve?”
      “Don’t talk to my secretary again or I’ll cut you”

  12. Madame Arcati*

    There were some fun comments on the coat rack drama about how they “didn’t know if it was going to work out”, as one commenter said as though they had to fire the coat rack but it was difficult because of his home life…

    “I just don’t know what to do, Jeff. He breeds this job; five little hangers at home and he can barely put cedar blocks on the sweater shelf for them. And his wife is so brittle these days she can only support hats and scarves…”

  13. BorisTheGrump*

    This is too late to help anyone, but I wanted to give my own advice to the Blanket Fort hero, which is to engage in the long-standing tradition of finding ways to be cozy at the office while you’re in deep focus without going full-nest. So many people have office blankets or shawls that we keep on the back of our chairs and snuggle in while we’re writing at our desks! The office-cardigan is a long-standing tradition. My personal favorite is a little lavender-scented, weighted neck wrap that I can heat up in the microwave and keep on my lap when I’m cold or need comfort. I also have one of those foot hammocks that goes under my desk and a tiny coffee maker for my desk. In some offices you could even get away with having a comfy pair of slippers you keep under your desk on while you’re sitting down (and then you put on your professional flats when you get up to go to the copier).

    It’s not that you can’t every find ways to feel comfy or cozy at work, it’s mostly the “fort building” and sitting on the floor that seem really out of place.

    For context, I am a lawyer and work in a nonprofit, and my professional norms range from full business suit to slacks and a blazer to jeans and a blouse depending on the day. It’s hardly the most casual work environment. Obviously not all of these would work at every workplace or for every role, but in-office work does not necessarily have to be uncomfortable.

  14. Not a Luddite*

    There was a comment on the Jan. 22 post about management styles that I was itching to respond to, but comments are closed of course.

    Someone made a post alluding to someone being 68 years old and a tech luddite. Another poster rightfully called out the not-too-subtle ageism. Yet another poster mansplaned why the first post was not ageist, and went on to unequivocally state that people in their 60’s are generally less tech savvy than younger folks.

    Honestly, I don’t know why these kinds of posts aren’t taken down. Substitute race, age, religion, sex, or gender, and the unacceptibility is clear. FOLKS IN THEIR SIXTIES AND EVEN OLDER CREATED TECH!!!! It has been in use over half of our working careers!

    I’m a daily reader of AAM (yes, folks in their sixties do this also, surprise!), but the acceptance of casual ageism is getting old, no pun intended. We may not be the target audience for this site, but we should be respected nonetheless. Ageist attitudes lead to many worklace issues. Just wait and see.

    Oh, and most age stereotypes are just that, stereotypes. I drive rather fast and no traffic conditions scare me (I’m in metro Chicago, it’s wild here). Yet I have a friend who is fifteen years younger than me who will not drive on the expressway, and creeps along when she does drive.

    I hope AAM is better in 2023.

    1. Veryanon*

      Thank you for calling this out. I’m 54, and I often find that many of my younger colleagues (as well as my young adult children) automatically assume I am computer/tech illiterate. I’ve been using computers literally most of my life! I used my first computer in my early teens! I grew up with technology! Yes, I can remember rotary phones, black and white TV, and land lines. That doesn’t mean I miss any of those things, or that I can’t adapt as needed. It might take me a minute to figure out how to use the most recent streaming app or smart TV, but I’m not an idiot, and I will get there.
      Also, I live in the Philly suburbs and routinely drive on major highways around here, where the posted speed limits are suggestions that everyone freely ignores.

      1. Najek Yuma*

        As a related note, the two most tech-incompetent people I’ve hired in my 5 years as a manager were both people in their mid-30s. I’m talking couldn’t figure out how to create bookmarks, save files to their desktop, save passwords, create accounts on vendor websites, etc. God forbid they needed to filter an excel spreadsheet! Both of these people had college degrees, and I incorrectly “assumed” that having grown up with technology they somehow knew how to use it. One of these people was let go and one quit on the spot with no notice when the colleague they had been relying on for tech help resigned.

        So of course, the answer is as always to screen for the traits you need during hiring, not making assumptions (either way!) based on age. I now spend a lot of time talking with people about how they use technology, and am trying to talk our HR recruiters into implementing some sort of basic computer/internet use screening test for candidates.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Exactly. I can REMEMBER lots of things that no longer exist or have faded in importance, but I’m not being held prisoner by them. This isn’t a Twilight Zone episode.

  15. I Fought the Law*

    As a Halloween fanatic, I HAVE to know whether the Halloween Town letter is real. I don’t know how I missed it the first time around! I’m now obsessed… it seems like no one was able to figure out whether it was real or not the first time, and parts of it are so weirdly confusing! I seriously want it to be real though, as it is the dream job I didn’t know I needed until now.

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