my good employee is angry about my bad employee, boss insists I get my tonsils out, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. My good employee is angry about my bad employee

I have two employees who have both worked here for over 20 years. One works days, the other works evenings. The employee on evenings has had many, many, many years of disciplinary issues and is on action plans over and over and over again. He owns his own business during the day and only works our evening shift, so he makes it very clear this is not his primary concern. He is extremely reliable but is not good at his job and has many inconsistencies in his performance and responsibilities. HR is not willing/able to terminate his employment. I can’t exactly tell you why, but there is obviously some reason they won’t. We are asked to continue his action plans and keep great documentation.

I have only been with this organization for 1½ years and he has been on an ongoing action plan with me since January. The daytime employee is a model employee and works hard, is reliable, goes above and beyond, and has not had one bad mark on her file since she began working here. She is fed up with all that the evening employee gets away with. It is eating her up inside. I know she understands that I am doing everything I can to work with the evening employee, but she has seen this for 20 years and cannot get past it any more (can’t say I blame her). What can I do to help her through her anger over the situation? This has become increasingly worse for her and I just don’t know how to channel those feelings into something productive or worthwhile to her.

Her anger is a reasonable reaction! I understand that it would be better for the organization if you could find a way to make her okay with the situation, but would it be better for her? I’d argue that she should be pissed off and disillusioned with her employer — not with you, because this isn’t your fault, but certainly with the broader organization. There are consequences to employers who won’t address performance problems, and one of them is that good employees get frustrated and eventually leave.

The most important things you can do here are to push to be allowed to fire the bad employee, to insist on knowing why — with years of action plans and documentation — that hasn’t happened (you’re his manager; you have standing to know that), and to make sure that whoever is standing in the way of firing your night shift employee knows that you’re likely to lose your good employee over it if they won’t act.

Beyond that, the kindest thing you can do for your good employee is to be honest with her about what will and won’t change so that she has all the info she needs to make good decisions for herself: “I understand why you’re frustrated. I would be too. You’re right to think that there’s a disparity between your performance and his. I wish I could tell you that was going to change, but I haven’t seen any signs that it will. I support you in whatever you decide to do.” Don’t try to talk her into being okay with something that isn’t okay.


2. My boss is insisting I get my tonsils out

I took a day off work because I have tonsillitis. I returned to work with a sick certificate. My manager took me into the office and told me that since it wasn’t the first time I had tonsillitis, I must have them removed. I told her my doctor did not agree and I won’t be having surgery against my doctor’s advice. She has given me a week to go back to the doctor and demand that my tonsils are removed.

I don’t think her demands are reasonable and I felt uncomfortable discussing my health with her. I average 1.5 sick days per year and it’s been well over six months since I’ve had a day off.

I don’t know what I should say to my boss next week. I am certain she can not legally make these demands, but how can I politely tell her it’s none of her business? Since my boss isn’t willing to listen to me, is it time I get HR involved?

Yes. Or at least yes if your boss brings it up again.

Your boss is out of her gourd.

To be fair, I suppose it’s possible that she didn’t mean “you must do this,” but rather meant “it seems like it would be good to ask your doctor about this.” That would still be really overstepping, but it would be less insane then “I order you to have a medical procedure.”

If she raises this again, say this: “That’s not something my doctor agrees is necessary, and I don’t want to discuss my health with you further. Is there any issue with the amount of sick time I’ve used? My records show I average 1.5 sick days a year, which is quite low. Do you have a concern about my use of time off that you need me to address?”

If she continues hassling you, then yes, talk to HR immediately. This is ridiculous. (And if you’d like, you can go to HR right now; you don’t need to wait.)


Read an update to this letter here.

3. Dealing with a domineering book club member

I need help! I run a book club at the library and it is about 15 members strong (great for a small rural town). Unfortunately, I have someone coming who is SO off-putting to others in the group, so much so that they are considering not coming to future meetings. This woman is extremely opinionated, controlling of the conversation and domineering to the point of shutting other people down. If what she is trying to say is interrupted, she starts from the very beginning of what she was saying until she gets everything out that she wanted to say.

This woman is not from our town, but comes with a sister who is a resident. How do I curb her behavior (or preferably get rid of her) before I lose my fabulous group? I’m not great on confrontation…would a letter work?

Don’t send a letter. This isn’t letter stuff; it’s direct conversation stuff. One option is to do it during the meetings themselves (saying things like “I want to give others a chance to talk as well, so I’m going to ask you to wrap this up and cede the floor” and “You’ve had the floor a lot today, so let’s hear from others” and so forth). The other is to talk with her privately and say something like, “I need you to share air space with other group members and ensure that you’re not taking up significantly more time than others. When you do X or Y, it shuts other people down. With 15 members who all need time to speak, that means that in an 90-minute meeting you should expect to speak for about five or six minutes total — otherwise other people won’t get their share of time.”

If you’re a public library, you might have limitations on how much, if anything, you can do as far as kicking her out of the group — but if you do have that option, you can tell her that you won’t be able to invite her back if she continues monopolizing the conversation.

Also, while I don’t normally recommend issuing rules to the whole group to address the behavior of one person, this is a situation where it might help to go over ground rules at the start of your next meeting (like “give other people a chance to talk”), so that other group members see that you’re tackling this and not letting it go unchecked.


4. Should I ask for a gift since I can’t attend the office holiday party?

We relocated to an area and I sought out an insurance office that was next to our temporary housing and started working there — mostly remote but I occasionally would go into the office. Last year we relocated again and now we are five hours away. I have worked for my boss now almost four years, but was only able to attend his dinner one time in the past. I spoke with him yesterday and he mentioned that they are planning the dinner in January and within the week I should let him know if we will be in the area.

My dilemma is that when I cannot attend, I don’t receive anything in lieu of attending the dinner. I feel for my hard work and dedication, it would be nice if I get a little something — maybe a gift card for local restaurant? I mean, if we were to travel, we would spend time, gas, hotel, etc. — obviously that just doesn’t make sense.

Your thoughts whether it is rude/wrong of me to simply tell him I cannot attend and then somehow suggest a restaurant gift card instead?! If okay, not sure how to word it either?!

It’s fine to tell him that you can’t attend; he probably assumes that’s likely going to be the case since you’re five hours away. But you should not suggest that he give you a gift instead. This isn’t a situation where everyone else is getting a gift and you’re not. This is a situation where others are attending a workplace event that you’re not attending because you’re remote. A gift isn’t an equivalent substitute. It’s true that it would be a nice gesture for him to send you a gift in lieu of being able to wish you happy holidays in person, but it’s not in any way obligatory or even something you should expect — and asking him to do that would come as weirdly transactional.

There are huge upsides to being able to keep your job when you move away, but there can be downsides too. This is one of them, but it’s a pretty minor one.


{ 245 comments… read them below }

  1. Lilo*

    Just FYI, my best friend almost died after having her tonsils out. They had to rush her back to the OR. It is NOT a minor procedure, there are some serious bleeding risks that come with it.

    It is completely and totally insane to insist an employee have any kind of medical procedure. But especially a surgery!

    1. AJoftheInternet*

      I found a fascinating book at the thrift store recently. A Little Golden Book about a girl getting her tonsils out – how much fun she had at the hospital… how all the other kids were there to get theirs out…. How her grandma sent her presents… how the doctor cheerfully lied to her about what the process would entail… It was a pretty unnerving read.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – still have my tonsils as an adult. No surgery – even if routine – is minor or something to be done on a whim.

      2. LlamaLawyer*

        Omg I think I had that Little Golden Book as a kid- that sounds so familiar. But yeah, it is a major procedure, especially for adults.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I feel like having your tonsils out is one of those recurring plot points in books and tv in the 90s and it was always like this is scary at first but ends up being a big fun event with ice cream and lots of TV.

          Which is fine in terms of “help kids with medical anxiety” but not great in terms of “create a cultural narrative that surgery is no big deal”.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I see a lot of people commenting about the 50s and 60s I mentioned the 90s because I think the narrative at that point was: it’s less ubiquitous so it’s scarier but still don’t freak out kiddos surgery is a blast.

              1. Slow Gin Lizz*

                Yup. That was a common (I daresay ubiquitous?) theme in medicine in the 50s and 60s, afaik. I know someone who had cancer when she was nine and they amputated her arm without telling her ahead of time that that’s what they were going to do. So gross. I’m glad there are ethics boards that prevent that sort of thing now though I’m sure there are still doctors to try to pull these stunts and hopefully they lose their licenses.

                1. MigraineMonth*


                  My childhood best friend had a birthmark on her cheek removed and her parents didn’t tell her it was precancerous (they said it would “grow weird-looking hair”), but at least they *told her they were removing it*. It’s not like she would fail to notice that.

          2. Selina Luna*

            I never had my tonsils out, but if I’m looking at my sister’s experience from the outside, the ice cream thing is more like one orange Otterpop that you will proceed to puke up in the car because of the anesthesia. Lots of TV was true for her, though. She got to pick whatever show she wanted and she watched it for 8 minutes until she slept for 4 hours. I think I made her a “sister bracelet.”

        2. PhyllisB*

          Yep. I had mine out in the 50s (it was pretty standard in those days.) I think I had that book. The thing I remember is my mother and the doctor telling me that afterwards I could have all the ice cream I wanted. They DIDN’T tell me that I would be in so much pain I wouldn’t be able to swallow it.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            ^ This. I basically didn’t eat, and didn’t want to, for two weeks. Even taking the liquid painkiller sucked.

          2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

            I replied down thread before I read your comment, but this was also my experience. I know you don’t want to frighten a child, but I was unprepared for the pain and felt very deceived.

          3. JustaTech*

            When my younger brother had his tonsils out I basically moved in with my neighbor (at her parents’ suggestion) because my brother was in so much pain he just screamed and cried for days and days.
            I still have my tonsils, so I had no idea it would hurt so much – on TV and in books it was all “let’s eat lots of popsicles!” not “let’s suffer in agony because you can’t swallow the alcohol-based pain meds”.

            (Apparently if you ask hard enough you can get the pain meds as a patch or suppository, which would be useful for people who can’t swallow.)

      3. KayDeeAye*

        It was considered a minor, almost-all-kids-will-get-it-eventually thing when I was a kid. I actually got mine out at the same time as two of my siblings – and by that, I mean we were all in the same room at the hospital. I’m not sure exactly why – my recollection is that my brother really did need to have his out, and either my sister or I had borderline tonsils, so out they all came all, one after the other.) However, I will say that it wasn’t considered out-patient surgery then. I don’t know how long we three siblings were there, but it was at least a day or two. That makes a difference, and so do changing times, and so does the fact that the OP is a grownup who is far more capable of deciding the fate of their tonsils than the manager is!

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          Hmmm, I had pretty much constant strep throat in 75, 76? And my doctor told my mom NOT to get my tonsils removed. I don’t know if he was more progressive but I think his reasoning was that the tonsils are an immune system component and you’re just relocating the problem to remove them.

          Also, if the LW was in the US, it’s doubtful that insurance would cover a not-medically-necessary surgery.

          1. Bird Lady*

            I too had nearly constant Strep or Tonsillitis as a kid, although my cases were in the late 80s/ early 90s. We went to a pediatrician practice where you could see one of two doctors. One was adamant that my tonsils and adenoids had to be removed, and the was adamant that the surgery was unnecessary and would be incredibly painful. Because I have some strange responses to anesthesia (it doesn’t work well, or at all), my parents decided that it wasn’t worth putting me through all of that. I still have them. My current doctor admitted that my tonsils are the largest she’s ever seen, but that if I’m fine (and I am!) then its fine.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          When I was little (like 5-6) I was injured sledding and wound up in the hospital with internal bleeding and on standby for surgery in case it didn’t resolve itself .

          There was another kid in the same pediatric room who had her tonsils out and she was there for a couple of days afterwards. From my little kid’s perspective, it seemed like she got the tv version of the tonsillectomy treatment, with cheery visitors, balloons and ice cream and popsicles … but at least they kept her in the hospital instead of tossing her into a car home that same day.

          (I remember being confused because she was having a “fun” hospital stay, while I had a “worried strangers in white coats standing over and poking and prodding me for days while I couldn’t get up, eat or drink” hospital experience)

      4. JelloStapler*

        Taking a kid’s tonsils out used to be pretty regular treatment back in the day (my boomer mom had hers out). I think it started to change in the 90s/00s.

        I still have mine as to most of my friends- I had 2 bouts of tonsillitis a few years apart in the early 10s and one turned into an abscess. My ENT said one more and I would be at risk for needing the surgery. Thank God my tonsils have behaved since then.

        1. LadyVet*

          I feel like I remember when Ben Seaver got his tonsils out on “Growing Pains,” which would have been the ‘80s; but don’t remember it being a plot point as much in the ‘90s.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            As an elementary school kid in the mid 80s, yes. I think that was the turning point. I remember a few classmates in the 2nd and 3rd grade getting their tonsils out. There was some discussion about my sister’s as well during this time just because they were large, not because they were getting infected. She still has hers.

            Later, I had heard was that tonsil surgery was like chicken pox: easier to deal with and survive as a kid. I’m guessing that’s bull.

            I do remember a classmate saying he could have all the ice cream he wanted, but don’t remember if he said anything about actually being able to eat it. As a kid, I only had ears to hear about the ice cream.

            1. Rainy*

              Yeah, when I was in elementary school in the early 80s, one of my classmates had *grotesquely* infected tonsils and had them out (she brought them in a sealed bag to show and tell), but she was the only kid I knew who had a tonsillectomy. When I told my mother (who has her tonsils), she said that she was considered weird as a kid for not just going in and having them out as a matter of course, and she found it amusing that best practice had changed so drastically in the meantime.

              The main thing, as I recall, is that the blood vessels that feed the tonsils widen as you age, and there’s a point in your late teens when the surgery goes from a minor risk, mostly from the anesthesia, to a major risk of hemorrhage if the sutures on those blood vessels pop.

              1. STAT!*

                Had my tonsils out in the early 70’s as a young kid. Somehow my mother never got the memo about the ice cream – I certainly don’t remember being given any. What I DO remember is eating toast for breakfast the day after I came home. Then throwing up a basin full of bright red blood because the toast had scraped the scabs off the healing scars. Happy days!

            2. WS*

              No, it is true that tonsil surgery is less risky in children than in adults (or late adolescents). This doesn’t mean it’s not at all risky!

          2. Lydia*

            I was born in the 70s and I think by the time I was a kid it was pretty uncommon. I’m guessing that plot point was written by someone who grew up in the 50s and 60s when it was really common.

      5. Essess*

        I had that same Little Golden Book that my parents shared with my before I got my tonsils out as a small child. I remember being absolutely devastated because the girl in the book got icecream in the hospital as part of recovery and I didn’t. I felt betrayed for years.

      6. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        Oh, god. I had my tonsils out in 1966 and received a little book called “My Visit to the Hospital.” It was way out of date and therefore useless to prepare me for the procedure, AND my parent, my very own parents, told me that I could have all the ice cream I wanted. They neglected to mention that my throat would be so sore that I wouldn’t want any! I don’t believe I ever complete trusted them again.

      7. Sunny days are better*

        I had my tonsils out in the 70’s because I was sick all the time, and I probably had that book. I know that I had TWO tonsillectomy books that promised me that I would only have to stay in the hospital one night, and then that went to shit because I hemorrhaged and had to stay several more days. I remember being rather upset with my parents.

        My son was constantly getting bronchitis and pneumonia and all the inhalers in the world were not helping. His pediatrician told us that taking out his adenoids would give at least a 70% improvement in how often he was being sick, and that they would take out the tonsils at the same time. This was in 2008 when he was six and he has not touched an inhaler since. It made such a difference in his quality of life.

        I do think that they overdid taking them out back in my day, but it can make things better in some circumstances.

      8. Gato Blanco*

        My mother speaks fondly of getting them out as a routine childhood procedure in the early 60s. She got special treatment and all the ice cream she could eat for a week! It was so exciting and made her feel grown up! All of her siblings had them removed too. Insanity.

    2. londonedit*

      Yep, I think some people still subscribe to the old-fashioned ‘everyone needs to have their tonsils out as a child’ idea, but it’s been against medical advice for decades now. The only reason anyone needs to have their tonsils out is if they’re getting recurring serious infections that affect their ability to swallow/breathe – and it is a big deal to have them taken out as an adult, so it’s really a last resort. Last time I had tonsillitis, I was told that current NHS advice is not even to give antibiotics – which again, many people view as standard for tonsillitis because before the rise of antibiotic resistance etc it was standard to just be given antibiotics for things like that – because most cases are viral anyway, and even if it is bacterial all antibiotics will do is shorten the illness by 24-48 hours. The vast majority of people are fine with painkillers and rest.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. Routine tonsil removal used to be a big thing and you see it in a lot of books set in the 1950s and 60s (when both my parents had theirs out as kids) but it’s not the rule now in the UK. I agree doctors don’t want to give antibiotics nowadays unless something is definitely bacterial.

        1. Sharpie*

          It wasn’t even routine in the Eighties; my brother had his out but I still have mine, and I’m three years older than him.

          This boss isn’t quite up there with the guy wanting all his reports to test whether they’d be suitable liver donors (or was it kidney donor’s) for his brother, but it’s getting very close to it! I’m glad OP is well out of that whole mess!

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yup, I grew up in the eighties and had constant sore throats (due to sinus problems, most likely) and never had them out.

            But there are people who seem to assume that the advice around when they were a child is infallible and anything that has changed isn’t better science but is just mistaken, so if the boss was told as a child that anybody who gets regular sore throats need to have their tonsils out (or even, as a child, misunderstood whatever she heard as that), she might have decided the OP’s doctor is clearly incompetent and needs to be told how to do his job.

            But yeah, it’s bizarre. “Go to your doctor and tell him his advice was wrong and he needs to change it because somebody with no medical qualifications who only knows your symptoms from working with you says he should.”

            1. L.H.+Puttgrass*

              “Go to your doctor and tell him his advice was wrong and he needs to change it because somebody with no medical qualifications who only knows your symptoms from working with you says he should.”

              Somehow that seemed more implausibly outrageous before COVID.

              Maybe the manager just “did his own research.”

            2. Anothergloriusmorning*

              It was not common at all in the 80s and 90s. I had bad strep as a kid. I am talking every other week for years. I even got scarlet fever from it. I am also allergic to penicillin which complicated things further.
              My mom had to BEG my pediatrician to take my tonsils out. It was life changing for me but not an easy recovery!

              Now (at least in the US) it’s much more common. All 3 of my kids had their tonsils out.

              1. Yoyoyo*

                I got mine out in the early 2000s and my mom also had to do some serious advocacy to make it happen. My tonsils, even when not infected, were so large that sometimes they would cause me to choke on food! My quality of life drastically improved after they were removed, but it was not an easy peasy thing like people sometimes make it out to be. That recovery was painful!

              2. Velociraptor Attack*

                I’m in my mid-30’s and recently had strep. I was talking with the doctor about how I woke up that morning and had a good feeling it was strep, frequent history of it as a kid, still have my tonsils, etc.

                She mentioned that she felt like there was an interesting span for a while where doctors were VERY hesitant to pull them. Essentially, you had the time where they were routinely pulled without question, then a period where they weren’t touched, and now it’s more of a question of if they’re bothering you, sure we’ll look into it.

                1. Rainy*

                  I had a similar experience with my gall bladder–the ER doc at my SECOND ER visit a week after my first-ever gall bladder attack said that the doc who’d been on the week before should have authorized me for emergency surgery immediately. They pretty badly mishandled my case; I legitimately could have died because my gall bladder was rotting inside me by the time they pulled it.

                  One of my surgical nurses told me that doctors just out of med school always talk about “managing it with diet” and send you on your way, but that anyone who’s seen a few gall bladder cases immediately yanks it, and it’s the luck of the draw who you see on your first attack.

                2. Giant Kitty*

                  @Rainy- I had a friend who went through something similar, the surgeon told them that their gallbladder so rotten it was falling apart as she removed it.

                  They had been misdiagnosed for a very long time in part because every time they went to the ER with a gallbladder attack, some atypicality about their case (don’t remember exactly what at this point) meant all their tests for gallstones/gall bladder disease were coming back normal, so their GP also was looking at other possible causes like ulcers or IBS.

          2. Totally Minnie*

            Yeah, my siblings and I had regular throat infections when we were kids in the 80s and 90s, and our doctor talked about tonsillectomies as an extreme last resort that he didn’t want to even consider unless we got substantially worse.

          3. Petty Betty*

            Yep. It was *STANDARD* when my grandma was a kid, so she assumed it would be for me in the 80’s-90’s. She was very mistaken. I didn’t get them taken out until I was an adult. By then, it was overdue. I’d had H1N1 (TWICE) after having my 4th kid and kept catching strep, pneumonia and bronchitis. Then the strep just wouldn’t go away. Because I worked in non-profit, my benefits sucked and I couldn’t afford the surgery. I mean, I had to cash out my 401k just to afford my then-husband’s shoulder surgery, so it’s not like we had money to afford anything extra.
            It got so bad I had strep for 5 years straight. It was antibiotic resistant. My tonsils swelled up so bad they were touching each other and it limited what I could eat. I even had scarlet fever once.
            I changed jobs and my new insurance was *amazeballs*. I paid a whole $13 out of pocket. Recovery was brutal (the adenoids had to go too), but so worth it. I didn’t get sick for two whole years after having them removed (feels like my allergies got worse, but I may not have noticed my allergies as much with constant illnesses).

            My 2nd son is just like me with the tonsil issue. He had his removed right before his 20th birthday. He hasn’t had strep or any major illness since (except one minor bout with the plague in the last 4 months).
            My other three kids still have their tonsils, but have much better immune systems (lucky turds).

            1. STAT!*

              I am very sorry to hear this story. I’m from a country with universal health cover, so it’s bad enough hearing you had to suffer like this for so long. But then losing your retirement savings because you needed to pay for surgery for your then-husband?!!!? That makes me even sadder. (We also have compulsory retirement savings that are difficult to cash out, so another reason I feel lucky.)

        2. Mockingjay*

          Yep. Sister and I had them out together as children in the 60s. We got one infection and the doctor immediately scheduled to yank them out.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Yeah. My dad got his taken out around then because his brother needed his taken out, and they figured might as well do my dad’s at the same time.

            1. Lizzie*

              I still have mine, but can remember as a child, being in the hospital overnight, and the two girls in my room, sisters, both had had theirs out.
              Reminds me too of the “chicken pox” parties we had. One kid in the neighborhood would get it, and everyone would go play at their house, so we ALL could get it, and be done with it.

              1. londonedit*

                People still do that here in the UK. We have the chicken pox vaccine here but it isn’t routine (I don’t think?) and a lot of people prefer to just let their child have chicken pox, as was the norm when I was little!

                1. Lilo*

                  I was actually shocked when I found that out. It’s not super common but some kids develop serious complications from chicken pox, not to mention the long term risk of shingles. Part of NHS’s justification is that circulating exposure to chicken pox might reduce shingles in adults who already had chicken pox, but to me that snacks of prioritizing the health of the old over the young (and there’s a shingles vaccine anyway).

                  I was actually one of the first kids in the US to get the shingles vaccine back in the 90s because my Dad’s a pediatrician and he signed me up for it as soon as it was approved. My older brother had lesions on his eyes when he got it and it caused him problems.

                2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  My parents were born in the 1920’s and didn’t always have access to even basic medical care during the Depression. I’m not sure vaccines were even available at the time, either. They, and a lot of people from that era, didn’t seem to think it was unusual for kids to get ‘childhood diseases.’ But they saw pretty bad cases of chicken pox, measles, and polio when they were kids themselves, so we kids were vaccinated without a problem.

                  However, I managed to get the mumps and my sister had to sleep in my bed to get max exposure. We both got chicken pox and several kids in our school came to visit us in hopes of the disease, too. Very different times.

                3. UKDancer*

                  Yes, Shelooksfamiliar is right that older people who saw “childhood diseases” are often in favour of vaccines. My mum’s cousin Rose had polio and it seriously affected her ability to walk and made her life a lot harder than it needed to be. My mother was petrified she was going to get it as well. A child in her class died of measles and that was not unusual in 1950s tenement housing where Mum grew up.

                  My mother vaccinated me against everything she could because she saw the consequences of not vaccinating children. I think we don’t see what these diseases can do nowadays (thankfully) but it can make some people more dismissive of them.

                4. ferrina*

                  Chicken pox is a calculated risk. The vaccine is the lowest risk; next lowest risk is getting it as a child; highest risk is getting it as an adult. There are risks on all of these- it’s a question of how likely worst case scenario is.
                  Before the vaccine was available, I knew someone that never had it as a child, then got it as an adult and had to be hospitalized. Much lower likelihood of children needing to be hospitalized (but never no risk)

                5. Observer*

                  . We have the chicken pox vaccine here but it isn’t routine (I don’t think?)

                  That is shocking. Chicken pox is no joke and it’s insane on a public policy level.

                  a lot of people prefer to just let their child have chicken pox, as was the norm when I was little

                  This was always a stupid move, and it’s even stupider and more irresponsible now that there is a safe and effective vaccine. Chicken pox is nowhere as dangerous as measles, true. But that does NOT mean that’s it no big deal. It can be a big deal even for children, you are inevitably going to be exposing people who are vulnerable, and some of the long term effect can be nasty.

                6. Observer*

                  @SheLooksFamiliar, It certainly WAS common for kids to get these “childhood diseases.” But they absolutely were dangerous.

                  Plenty of children DIED and many more carried harmful side effects all of their lives.

                7. londonedit*

                  I have no children and no personal opinion either way on the NHS policy, but I tend to trust what the NHS and the JCVI recommend. We’re culturally less…medicalised, I suppose? than the USA (of course we have routine testing and preventative healthcare, but we don’t have the ‘you go and see your X, Y and Z doctor once a year for a check-up’ culture) and culturally, in this country, it isn’t ‘shocking’ that chicken pox isn’t on the list of routine childhood vaccines (other things, like MMR, HPV, BCG, polio, etc etc very much are). The NHS aren’t just not routinely using the chicken pox vaccine on a whim.

                8. Lilo*

                  There are pretty much NO downsides to getting the Varicella vaccine. My son got it in the exact same shot as his MMR.

                  Kids can get brain swelling from Chicken Pox. Even cases like my brother where he got a lesion on his eye and that’s caused him vision problems his whole life. Or my sister’s shingles. All easily preventable.

                  I’m all for avoiding unnecessary antibiotics or surgeries but vaccines? I get my flu shot every year, for instance.

                  FWIW NHS has announced they’re considering the MMRV (MMR + varicella) so they may be changing policy.

                9. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  UK and I’m very much NOT in agreement of the policy here regarding the herpesvirus zoster vaccine. We should be giving it out more widely.

                  But, I can kind of understand the NHS diverting resources to vaccines that are more dire – covid, measles etc.

                10. Observer*

                  The NHS aren’t just not routinely using the chicken pox vaccine on a whim.

                  No, they are doing to save money. With a dose of institutional inertia.

                  When it first was authorized, I could see it. But given how much data we now have, it makes no sense.

            2. Totally Minnie*

              There’s a chapter in Cheaper By the Dozen where the family doctor determines that one of the family’s 12 kids needs their tonsils out, so the father negotiates a group discount to do all the kids at once, and then the doctor realizes the father never had his tonsils out either so they do his along with all the kids. And even as a kid reading the book, all I could think was, that poor mom had to take care of her husband and all those kids while they recovered from surgery at the same time.

              1. Lilo*

                I mean also that would be just a terrible idea because you couldn’t adequately monitor all of them for complications. The bleeding risk lasts for day, even after kids go home from the hospital.

                The idea that they thought a part of a person’s immune system should just be regularly removed… (the date’s not super conclusive (because it’s impossible to do a double blind study in this) but there’s some evidence that removing the tonsils results in MORE upper respiratory infections.

              2. Rainy*

                “That poor mum” is a common thought for me about Cheaper By The Dozen. She didn’t have a hospital birth until nearly her last and she found it so restful to be allowed to lie down afterward for a few days (!!!).

                He may have been a pioneer in the field of efficiency, but he always seemed pretty regressive with regards to gender roles.

                1. Observer*

                  Shrug. She was a full partner in their business. Also, she clearly was on board with the choice to have a large family.

                2. C.+Baker*

                  She also complained about that hospital birth that the nurses didn’t allow her to do her *work* during that time, and kept taking away her materials.

        3. Lilo*

          I mean they also routinely irradiated kids’ thymus glands for a while there. Turns out that was a bad idea.

          After I had mono I actually spent a couple years getting recurrent tonsil swellings. My ENT said it would go away and you know what? It did.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I was born in ’81 and haad tonsillitis a lot as a kid. I remember my doctor telling me at one point that if I had one more infection within the next year, he would recommend taking them out — and then I never got tonsillitis again. So, still got ’em.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Sounds like he scared them into submission.

          My sister got hers out in the early 70s, but I still have mine. She was quite young, so I don’t know the details, but I think they were swelling to the point of danger for her.

        2. Damn it, Hardison!*

          As a kid in the 80s, I had tonsillitis three or four times a year. Unfortunately I am allergic to penicillin (and all cillins) as well as difficulties with other antibiotics typically used at the time. I had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was a teen, and it was awful. Within a few days of having them removed I got a horrible ear infection and vertigo. I was out of school for an additional two weeks.

        3. ferrina*

          I love when that happens! My daughter was told that if she got one more ear infection she’d need tubes….then never had another ear infection. Amazing!

        4. Lydia*

          That was my experience with ear infections as a kid! I had them so consistently the doctors recommended I have drainage tubes put in. After that, no new ear infections!

      3. bratschegirl*

        Younger brother turned out to have a milk allergy, but before that realization he had his tonsils taken out in hopes of curbing recurrent infections including ear infections. Once the allergy was identified, the doctors were like “oh, um, in that case, taking out the tonsils was actually the wrong thing to do, heh, our bad…”

      4. Baron*

        Yeah, I had severe, recurring tonsilitis that I just couldn’t shake for maybe three years in my twenties, and taking them out was never on the table. Thankfully, it eventually stopped coming back.

      5. Rach*

        I had mine out when I was 17 back in the late 90s and it was already something they were hesitant to do until it was absolutely necessary. And the recovery was awful. My sister had to have hers out 2 years later when she was 17 and it was a breeze for her. Surgery is never something to take lightly and people react differently to the same procedure.

        1. Petty Betty*

          They say that the healing is easier for you the younger you are.
          Based on the experiences of me and my son, I’d have to agree. My recovery was rough. I was mostly asleep or a zombie for the first week. I thought it would be like my neck surgeries and I could go back to work on Monday (after a Friday surgery). Oh no. Not at all. Minimum of a week out of work. The second week was still hard, but semi-functional. Slept a LOT.

          My kid? Hell, he was eating normally and just slept more the first few days. The hard part was getting him to stop trying to yell during his video games so he wouldn’t bleed.

      6. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I don’t know if there are other bacterial causes, but the main one I know about is strep, and that should be treated with antibiotics. It can cause all kinds of complications if left untreated.

    3. Dinwar*

      “It is completely and totally insane to insist an employee have any kind of medical procedure.”

      There’s one case I know of where this doesn’t hold true. If you are a doctor working the Australian Antarctic Station you’re required to have your appendix removed. The reason is that there’s only ever one doctor there (they rotate) and they had a situation where the doctor got acute appendicitis and had to operate on himself without anesthetics. Of course, if you’re the type of person who volunteers to be the doctor at the Australian Antarctic Station you’re probably also the type who wouldn’t mind abdominal surgery to get there. And anyone who’s looked into that research station knows about this (there’s a myth that EVERYONE needs to have their appendix removed before going there), so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

      For anything less than that–and to be clear, going to SPACE counts as “less than that”–yeah, requiring a medical procedure is insane. I’ve done a lot of remote work solo in my career and still have both my tonsils and appendix!

      1. Well*

        I think I read something about no wisdom teeth at one of the Antarctic research stations after someone almost died from an infected one that went to their heart or something?

        A friend of a friend was applying to work there and it was a question she screenshot from the application. She wasn’t sure if shed had all four removed so she had to check!

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          Certain military deployments require everyone there (service members and contractors alike) to have their wisdom teeth out prior to departure, due to lack of dental services and difficulty ripping people out in a timely fashion. Wisdom teeth are the odd case where they can be prevented beforehand entirely.

      2. Lilo*

        I mean I guess Alan Shepard had to have ear surgery to go to the moon. I’ll throw out exemptions for any extreme jobs like fighter pilots or astronauts which are very high pressure jobs where health is a big issue. Athletes have to come with medical recommendations to keep contracts. And anything where you pose a risk to someone else (vaccines).

        But suggesting someone have surgery to avoid 1.5 sick days a year (which it wouldn’t work for anyway) is completely insane.

      3. Btdt*

        Without anesthetic?! That’s metal AF.
        Thank you for this fascinating/horrible bit of trivia I’m going to have to google!

      4. learnedthehardway*

        That seems like such an odd requirement – I mean, any number of things could happen to you while in a remote and isolated place. Why appendectomy, specifically? I mean, you could be just fine with your appendix, and end up with an inguinal hernia or an ectopic pregnancy or something else.

        You can’t plan for every single eventuality. And trying to do so entails its own risks – removing a perfectly fine appendix might get you a complication you didn’t expect.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          You can’t do much to prevent a hernia or ectopic pregnancy in advance. You can prevent appendicitis in advance.

          1. Lore*

            Also, appendicitis crosses the line into “possibly fatal without surgical intervention” very fast. (I know an ectopic pregnancy can as well, but not quite as fast, and you can at least get a long way toward preventing an ectopic pregnancy with birth control.)

            1. Lilo*

              Also while getting an appendix out is major surgery, it doesn’t affect other parts of your life. Removing your fallopian tubes is permanent sterilization (you’d have to get IVF if you wanted to have children).

    4. Llama Llama*

      Seriously. My daughter had a simple surgery that was just 8 minutes long. That landed her in the hospital for three weeks, with a partial stint in the ICU.
      Bosses need to stay out of stuff like this. It’s not their business whether a person has a medical procedure.

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

      Yes it is and from what I have heard it is also one of the most bloody procedures to be done that doesn’t include open surgery. From what I have heard it is also extremely painful and recovery is hard. And if you have other medical issues the doctor might weigh it out and choose not to do the procedure because of other complications.

    6. Clisby*

      Not as serious a situation, but my younger (age 5) sister also had to be rushed back to OR after having her tonsils out. The bleeding wasn’t life-threatening, but I’m sure it freaked my parents out at the time.

    7. Johanna Cabal*

      Growing up, a neighbor boy developed serious complications right after he had his tonsils removed. We all knew something was up that night when we saw one of the grandparents picking up his younger sister from the babysitter. Fortunately, he recovered.

    8. heretoday*

      I had mine out in my thirties to try to help with snoring. When you are not a child, it’s a miserable experience. 2 days of water and beef broth only, followed by a week of scrambled eggs and mac & cheese.

    9. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      Yup, and the older you are, the worse it is. I was 13 and it was a miserable procedure. I ended up bleeding three days after surgery and they had to put me back under to fix it. My doctor says he’d had patients bleed, but never three days after. Yay me. Apparently I was never in danger of bleeding out, but they did need to stop it and it was scary.

      My grandmother had her tonsils out as a child in the forties. She did nearly die in the hospital of tuberculosis. The story of how I almost wasn’t.

      I do appreciate not having tonsils now because I rarely get sore throats and haven’t had strep since, but it’s a miserable surgery.

    10. Ladycrim*

      Yes, this. Doctors tend to actively avoid performing tonsillectomies on adults because it’s a dangerous procedure and bleeding is an issue. I had swollen tonsils for a solid six months while ENTs tried every treatment they could think of to avoid surgery. Eventually they gave up and yanked the suckers, but it was a last resort.

      Also, it doesn’t magically cure sore throats. In fact, quite the opposite: I’ve had a chronic dry/sore throat ever since. So it wouldn’t help this boss’s scheme at all.

    11. CLC*

      I had my tonsils out in the 80s when I was 8. It was unbelievably miserable. I threw up blood the whole night following the surgery. The anesthesia messed me up for over a week. The ice cream thing was a lie—plain vanilla ice cream hurt like hell to swallow. The one thing I could get down after a few days was plain mashed potatoes with no butter. Absolute hell. My toddler apparently has big tonsils like I did I’m really hoping she doesn’t have to go through it.

    12. Marna+Nightingale*

      I had mine out at 18 after YEARS of serious tonsillitis turning to bronchitis and it was two weeks before I could swallow enough water to be allowed to go home. Couldn’t drink, couldn’t speak, couldn’t eat jello.

      Apparently there was a LOT of scar tissue. This may also have been true for your friend if she was having it done as an adult, and I’m so glad she’s okay.

      I suspect it IS less major for small children and people who haven’t had repeated serious infections.

      I’ve never regretted it because I was down for the count 2-4 weeks every year, which was not only absolutely miserable and painful, but also not feasible for as a young adult on their own.

  2. takeachip*

    I’ve run into LW4’s mindset a few times and it’s become a running joke among some colleagues (“I can’t make it to the lunch/party, you can just give me the $X”). This is the kind of thing that will quickly get an employee branded as entitled and petty. I’m not a huge fan of these kinds of events because they do inevitably exclude some–there will always be people who can’t participate for one reason or another–but the alternative is to either not do them or, as Alison points out, make the whole thing transactional. Now that we’re in a more and more hybrid working world I’m curious how different organizations are handling this issue!

    1. Brain the Brian*

      Not well, in my case. Our HR department is quite literally forcing employees who cannot attend our holiday party in-person to video-chat into it and sit on camera “taking part” for the entire, multi-hour affair. These poor folks will have to watch the in-person attendees eat a catered lunch to which they will have no access, and the company isn’t even providing them a meal voucher of some kind to make up for it. Stupidly poor planning.

      1. it's-a-me*

        They should record a 30min loop of themselves staring at the screen (maybe as they watch a TV show or something) and just run it on loop.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          We had a long thread in a comment section last week about all the ways that people could “game” the system. The end result is that it would be possible to do it in any other workplace, but our HR is too nosy and most would fail here.

          1. Sharpie*

            Have some kind of network issue that means your video feed gives up halfway through.

            Or treat yourself to a full on great takeaway and sit there with your caviar and crab claws while they have the cheapest option going from whatever catering company they’re using.

            I’m sorry your company is so extremely obtuse. (I guess you could minimise the window and play solitaire for the whole time, in the worst case scenario?)

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, what I’d do is spend my time on facebook, doing any e-mailing I needed to or playing computer games (or reading AAM) while having zoom running in the background.

              But it makes no sense. I think mandatory parties are usually a weird idea anyway, but I guess if the job requires a certain amount of networking, it might make sense, but…how much networking are they going to be able to do via zoom?

            2. Mockingjay*

              I claim bandwidth issues all the time, to turn off my camera. (In fact, Teams is my friend here; it suggests turning off video to improve call quality. Sure, I can do that!) About 50% of the bandwidth problems are legitimate. The rest are mandatory “fun” or executive meetings; I let the audio run while I actually work or eat lunch (not catered, but my pantry is currently stocked with tons of tasty treats thanks to the holiday season).

    2. Cheesesteak+in+Paradise*

      My spouse’s company sent people little gift boxes to their homes – not like a full meal but like cookies and a cocktail mixer kit.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Maybe I just don’t enjoy paid for work events as much as other people, but the idea of it being a big loss, which needs a replacement, has me scratching my head. Is the loss to do with OP not feeling appreciated? Lacking social time with colleagues? I think when you get hung up on something in this way and you’re struggling to form request wording, it’s worth drilling into the underlying need. There’s usually other ways to feel rewarded or connected over and above one event. It would probably be better to approach the conversation in terms of overall satisfaction, than in needing a specific gift or payment.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, I agree. I happen to love a work party/drinks/get-together, and in fact I was disappointed that I couldn’t go to ours last week because I’d already booked a night away before the date was announced. But I don’t feel like I need something to ‘make up for’ missing the party.

        Maybe there’s a general feeling that remote employees aren’t appreciated as much as the in-office staff, or maybe the OP is feeling forgotten about? I agree with Alison that in an ideal world the boss would send the remote staff a small gift as an acknowledgement of ‘Sorry we won’t see you at the company dinner, but we appreciate your hard work this year’, but if that isn’t something that happens in the company culture, you can’t really say ‘Look, I can’t come to the party because I live five hours away, can I have a gift/money instead’.

      2. ferrina*

        Agree. This seems strange to me- so many people complain about going to work events that not going already seems like the benefit. And even if you wanted to go, well, not all benefits are going to apply equally to everyone, and this is really minor in the scheme of things. It just seems an odd thing to want to be compensated over.

      3. Kes*

        I mean, the work holiday party is often positioned as something nice for the employees. I know the vibe here tends to be against work social events, which I join with to some extent, but many people do enjoy them, and I do think that companies with both in-person and remote employees who consistently hold events and such for in-person employees while doing nothing for the remote employees do risk making remote employees feel less valued. That said, obviously there are benefits to being remote as well and not everything can be the same. I certainly wouldn’t advise asking for a gift; that is generally likely to make you look entitled and demanding.
        My company actually did offer a gift card to those who weren’t attending last year’s Christmas party. No such luck this year unfortunately, probably because things are more open and they are trying to encourage people to come out to in person events, but we are at least having *a* virtual end of year event, even if it’s probably going to be significantly lower key than the big in-person party.

        1. JustaTech*

          Way back in the day when the folks who worked the evening shift on the phones actually worked on site, the couple of times we had our holiday party when they were scheduled to work, those folks got a nice dinner (nicer than the party) delivered to the office to make up for them not being able to come to the party.

          Now the feeling is, you chose to move halfway across the country, so yeah, no party for you. But there’s also no expectation that anyone would call in to the party, or the holiday lunch or any of that.

      4. CLC*

        Agree. I really enjoyed office holiday parties in my 20s when I worked for a fancy company that had lavish formal parties with an open bar and great food. Now I’m glad that I work in an industry where there were optional department potlucks during work hours and now that we’re remote we get boxes of pears from the company. “The office holiday party” seemed like a relic long before the pandemic.

    4. Heather*

      #4, If the fact that you can’t attend means that you get a gift card as a substitute, I would definitely make up a sudden emergency and also not be able to attend. I hate parties like that, and I’d much prefer to get a gift. I’m sure I’m not the only one! So your employer could end up in a mess if word got around that you got a gift because you couldn’t attend the party.

      1. londonedit*

        I was thinking that, too. What happens if OP doesn’t attend because they’re five hours away, and they get a gift in lieu of the party, and then Jane who lives five hours away decides she’s going to make a weekend of it and books a hotel and transport – does Jane get reimbursed for that? Or is the party enough? What if Sally ends up not going because her child is ill – does she get a gift? What if Rob already has theatre tickets and can’t go – does he get a gift?

        Generally, I think parties like this – especially after-work ones – fall under the ‘if you can make it, great, but no worries if not’ category. If it was a lunch where everyone in-office went out and then didn’t come back for the rest of the afternoon, I could see remote employees feeling aggrieved if they had to work for the whole day just because they couldn’t attend the lunch. But an evening party or dinner is always going to be one of those ‘some people can make it, some people can’t’ thing.

        1. Heather*

          Exactly. Also, Jane is 5 hours away so it’s reasonable to skip it. But what about John who lives two hours away? Or Sally who lives 30 minutes away but usually takes the bus and it doesn’t run in the late evening?

          1. ferrina*

            Don’t forget Jim, who has to leave right at 5 so he can pick up his kids! And Carol, who checks on her elderly mother every night and helps her with household things. Will they get a gift, or will they be told to find caretaking coverage? If the latter, will they be reimbursed for that?

    5. MVH TRVTH*

      I don’t consider going to those work meals a free meal; I consider them work. I’d rather be at home eating cold SpaghettiOs from the can.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I agree. I rarely attend these if they are not during the work day and on a day I need to be in the office, and the only reason I go at all is that I’m leadership.

    6. Snow Globe*

      I am full time remote, working in a different state from the rest of my department, thus can’t attend the annual holiday party or summer barbecue, etc. And I’m totally fine with that – the perks of full-time remote greatly exceed (for me) the occasional perks of office parties. I can’t wrap my head around why someone who gets to work remotely would think they are being unfairly treated because they can’t attend a work party.

      1. tessa*

        >the perks of full-time remote greatly exceed (for me) the occasional perks of office parties.

        Ditto to the nth degree!

    7. Curmudgeon in California*

      So, my current job has a combination workforce – most remote, but some are in a lab, office or sometimes go to am data center to lay hands on equipment.

      The way they are handling the winter Holiday Brunch this year is by getting every remote employee to sign up for “DoorDash for Work” (a thing I hadn’t known existed) then they will put up a menu and budget to have lunch delivered in time for the all-hands video call. It hasn’t happened yet, so I’m interested to see how it all turn out.

      This avoids the in-office vs remote disparity in holiday budget and rewards, IMO. I have to commend our HR for coming up with a solution that seems equitable for everyone.

  3. Aggretsuko*

    I wonder if the good employee in #1 quit. I would bet money she did and #2 is still there because he’s, I dunno, someone’s son or blackmailing someone.

    1. Lilith*

      Yeah, there’s something baffling about an employee being able to keep a job for 20 years while being bad at it. PIP and still working? Nepotism is my guess unless he saw the owner enflagrante (sp?) with a goat.

      1. Kit*

        In flagrante (delicto) is probably what you mean. Literally it means ‘in blazing (offence),’ but idiomatically it means to have been caught in the act – red-handed, as it were. Or red-hoofed, in the case of jurisdictions which permit the arrest of a goat for perpetrating a crime…

      2. L-squared*

        Its interesting because, unless it affected my job directly, I can’t see myself caring. If our jobs are completely independent, and they suck, why should it bother me? Am I getting the recognition and raises I deserve? If so, whatever, not my issue to deal with.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I would probably land with you if the Night Person didn’t impact my ability to do my job. However, the company’s lack of dealing with the bad employee would definitely be something I would add to my list of things to consider when evaluating my job.

        2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          I wonder how disconnected the jobs actually are, though. Is the night shift employee expected to do work to set up for the next day, and not doing it (or doing it badly) so the day shift employee has to do it in addition to her own work? Are they insisting customers return to the store during the day when they have difficult requests, leaving the day shift employee to deal with grumpy customers? Are there overlapping hours when the night shift employee is present but slacking, leaving the day shift employee to do the work of 1.5-2 people? (Given that the night shift employee is described as “reliable” I assume that means they show up as scheduled, but if they don’t and the day shift employee has to stay late to cover that would also fit in here.)

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Something is happening if the good employee is so aware of what someone they don’t overlap with is “getting away with” that it’s tanking their own morale. Somehow this is visible, so I can’t imagine they’re completely disconnected.

            1. L-squared*

              I mean, there have been people at my company who I didn’t work directly with, and I knew they sucked at their job. But it didn’t affect me, so I didn’t care.

          2. L-squared*

            That is a fair question. But the way the letter is written, none of that seems to be the case. It just seems that day shift person knows night shift person sucks, and they are mad.

          3. ferrina*

            I find it demoralizing. I’m someone that tends to go above and beyond, and it’s frustrating to realize that I could have been doing bare minimum and still getting the same outcome. I could have been spending my energy elsewhere (like the night employee clearly is).
            The double edged sword is that while one employee is slacking, the employer expects other (more reasonable) employees to pick up the slack. It’s hard to have a whole department of slackers, so one person that isn’t held accountable usually means more work and stress from everyone around that person. So the first person that slacks (and is willing to pitch a fit) gets to have more time, while people that had decent work ethic and reasonable are expected to do more without additional recognition.

            1. Kes*

              This exactly, it’s demoralizing. Why put in the effort to do the job well when you can see that the other person can be totally useless and there’s no consequences for them, and they get the same rewards as you do?
              Which, if this wasn’t an old letter, is where I’d advise OP to focus (as well as continuing efforts to get rid of the bad worker) – how can you differentiate their treatment and reward your good employee for the great work they’re doing (raise, bonus, opportunities to take on better projects or more interesting work)?

              1. Here for the Insurance*

                I can definitely see the demoralizing thing. However, at that point, I think the question has to become: are you doing a good job for you or for them? If it’s for them, you’re wasting your time. If it’s for you, then your own satisfaction is all you can reasonably expect. Railing against other people not responding how we want is an exercise in futility and only hurts ourselves.

          4. Ama*

            I suspect, given that OP says they (OP) have only been on the job a year and a half and both employees have been there 20 years, that part of good employee’s anger is that she was holding out hope the arrival of OP would mean bad employee might finally face some consequences and it has now become clear he really won’t.

        3. Observer*

          Am I getting the recognition and raises I deserve? If so, whatever, not my issue to deal with.

          My guess is that good employee is NOT getting perks, etc. Which is why, in the comments on the original post, there were suggestions about how to reward the good employee.

          Also, in jobs like this, what happens on one shift tends to affect the next shift.

      3. Aggretsuko*

        Well, the same can be said for me, but my job hasn’t bothered to get rid of me QUITE yet either, they just threaten to.

        It did occur to me here that maybe it’s just hard to find someone to work a night shift?

      4. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, the PIPs are pointless if they won’t fire him and he won’t improve. That’s a lot of effort to just look like they’re doing something. If they’re really resigned to never fire him, then just let him do him and don’t bother with the PIPs.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        My mind went to the undramatic “HR thinks it’s too difficult to hire a night shift employee, and that it’s better to have someone who does a bad job but shows up every night than go through a job search to find someone who does a good job and shows up every night.”

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, that’s what the commenters on the original posting of the letter mostly thought – this guy is described as reliable, presumably meaning he reliably shows up on time (since in the same breath his actual work quality is inconsistent). When you’ve only got one worker on the shift, a butt in the seat might be more important than anything else.

        2. Kes*

          Yeah, exactly. Everyone wants to come up with some secret reason why he isn’t being fired, but the odds are much more likely it’s just that they’re afraid of firing anyone, ineffective, or think he’ll be hard to replace

      2. irene adler*

        There’s another aspect: sympathy. Someone(s) in management like the guy, believe he’s a good person and feel sympathetic towards him having to find another position-should they terminate him. He’s been there 20 years – so he’s an older worker. His skills may not be updated. They conclude that this person won’t ever find other employment. They extend a kindness by keeping him employed – and hope they can mitigate whatever “fallout” he might incur.

        We have someone like this- going on 30 years employment. Upper management feels they are keeping one person off the streets by continuing to employ this person. He will not be fired. He’s managed to create a fair number of problems for others (broken equipment, assignments carried out wildly incorrectly, inability to control his emotions, etc.). So periodically there’s a blow-up, accusations, denials, others step in to fix things, and then management talks to those impacted by this guy’s actions to explain why – yet again- he will not be fired.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      What amazes me is how often it seems that the reason not to fire a terrible employee is just… it takes effort. (I would bet that the directive to document all his terrible terribleness is from someone who desperately wants him fired, and has convinced themselves that only a lack of documentation has prevented this from happening for the last several years.)

      Like, if he has incriminating video of the CEO and a goat, at least that makes sense.

      1. ferrina*

        Yes! Or that the manager for some reason doesn’t want to be “the manager that fired someone”. I worked somewhere where no one was fired unless the CEO suddenly got offended, then they would immediately be fired.
        While there, I worked with an employee that had bounced around for three years. By the time she got to me she was claiming skills she didn’t have and taking responsibilities she shouldn’t have. I supervised her onboarding and found some serious issues, enough that she was put on a PIP. Her actual manager didn’t want to oversee her PIP, so she made me do it (I was theoretically this person’s peer…my manager was terrible, and HR signed off on this because ???). She was only let go because I (a non-manager peer) had my name as the primary person overseeing the PIP.

    3. Choggy*

      Have the same situation in my office, coworker has been here for 8 years, been on multiple PIPs, now we are on our third manager who is trying their best (on coworkers back all the time) but it’s obvious coworker just don’t give a sh*t about the job at all. Any time they are given work to do, the questions come, and even when provided with instructions, they do it wrong. Coworker is the living embodiment of weaponized incompetence, and the company just allows it.

    4. Jedi Beth*

      I hope she left that job the next day and has been somewhere much better since then.

      If you have a good employee and a bad employee, and you keep the bad employee, soon you have only the bad employee and someone else has the good employee, and it serves you right.

    5. WillowSunstar*

      Don’t know but I was a #2 employee (though I had been at company 8 years at the time, and in that job for over a year before starting to look for another job). My #1 coworker seemed to possibly have some sort of learning disability, but I was never quite sure exactly what. However, if there is anything like that happening in this office, that may be why HR is intent on not firing the person. They legally might not be able to if that was the case.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Accommodations, yes; unable to perform the duties of the job, no.
        Of course, the people in HR might not understand the law properly.

    6. Risha*

      I truly hope she did quit, and I hope the manager did too since the company won’t allow them to actually manage this bad worker.
      I can tell you from personal experience that it’s so so SOOO frustrating when a bad employee gets away with being….bad. At my last job, I worked with someone like that. She didn’t do her work on time, left it for others, made the same mistakes over and over again. Whenever a manager spoke to her, she would cry and loudly explain how her husband is sick and she cannot focus (sorry for that but you still gotta work when you’re at work, or take leave). So they felt bad for her and continued to dump her work on others. She was one of the non clinical supportive staff, so not only did she mess up our work (the nurses and doctors), she messed up the workflows of her teammates.

    7. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

      Seriously, what dirt did this guy have that would let him pull this kind of crap for 20 years?!

  4. MugShot+Coffee*

    I cannot get my head around the idea of your boss telling you to insist on having your tonsils out!
    I wonder what if she is this opinionated and over bearing away from the job?
    And 1.5 data for tonsillitis, it takes me WEEKS to get better from that!

    In at a loss for words on this one, it’s worrying on every single level.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “I wonder what if she is this opinionated and over bearing away from the job?”

      Almost certainly. This isn’t a management issue so much as a personality issue.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah I’ve worked with a few people (none of whom, thankfully, were actually my boss) who seem to think how *they* would handle a situation is the only right way to handle a situation and that they MUST inform anyone who isn’t doing things the “right” way that they are wrong and try to get them to see reason, even if it has nothing to do with them. (One of these coworkers once spent twenty minutes arguing with me over how I was choosing to get myself to the airport — for my own vacation.)

        Combine that kind of personality with management and I can see how something like this would happen — although I hope, given that the update says that it was never mentioned again, someone above the manager may have taken her aside and pointed out how ridiculous she was being at least in this instance.

    2. Lucy P*

      Gotta love bosses. I had a coworker that had frequent sinus infections and strep throat causing them to miss at least a week of work each year. Boss insisted to them that they needed to get sinuplasty because they heard in an ad how great it was. Boss told me the same thing several times regarding coworker until I finally spoke up. I told boss that another coworker and a family member had both had the procedure and it didn’t help anything. After that the sinuplasty discussions stopped, but boss kept pushing other medical advice.

      As a footnote, spoke to coworker months after they had quit the company. Said they had never been sick since they quit. Insisted it must be something in the building.

    3. Meep*

      I can. But then again, my (thankfully former) boss expected me to wait 3-4 months to get my impacted wisdom teeth (one that was growing at an 90-degree angle into my jaw) for a time more convenient for HER. All while I was on the phone with her crying due to the pain.

      Some people are that self-centered.

  5. Luna*

    LW1 – ‘Action plans’ implies that action will be taken when things don’t improve. If HR won’t perform actions, why make those plans? You clearly have documentation, but you don’t do anything with it. What’s the point, HR? What’s the point?
    If this guy has more grip on the company than believed, do something about it. Get rid of him, let the chips fall where they fall. I hope OP AND the day-time employee have since gotten better jobs.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yes. If the job is majorly not working for you (for whatever reason) there is no law keeping you there. If there is a contract, well then you research what you need to do in order to change jobs.

      And yeah – we’ve said it a bunch this week, good employees have options. If you don’t nurture them they will exercise those options, leaving just the employees on PIP’s behind.

    2. Snow Globe*

      One topic that was not raised – does the compensation for these two employees reflect their performance? I’d think after 20 years, the good performer would have received larger raises and that by now her overall compensation would be significantly higher. (If not, that is an even bigger issue, and OP should give her a raise and bonus ASAP.) If the good employee is paid significantly more, it might be a good idea to let her know – you shouldn’t tell her what the other guy is making but “you’re overall compensation reflects your strong performance and value to the company” would get that across.

      1. Mockingjay*

        This is really good advice; if OP1 can’t get rid of slacker, she can at least reward Good Performer through raises, opportunities, training. Point out a promotion path if the company has one.

        And as others have pointed out, what value is there in an action plan if there are no consequences for an employee to not improve? OP1, if you have the capital, have a very candid conversation with HR about holding Slacker accountable. Why is he still here? Company culture is one of retention, or he has a rare skill, or night shift is hard to staff for reasons (pay rate, hours, required skill), or HR isn’t empowered to do much (too oft the case)? And so on. If the ultimate answer is that nothing will be done, see my first point. Spend your energy to reward your high performer.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Night shift can be hard to staff! I wonder if it would have helped to differentiate the night and day positions so the Good Performer stopped making apples-to-apples comparisons. There’s been 20 years of failed action plans; let’s just stop this charade that the company treats these two positions the same way. They are not the same.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I would hazard a guess that any workplace dysfunctional enough to never fire this guy is also dysfunctional enough to not give appropriate compensation for putting up with him.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s the company saying “… or else” in their best ominous voice and the bad employee replying “Or else what?” and they got nothin’.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah….an inept HR/manager only makes action plans for other people, with no action taken by HR/manager.

  6. Apples and oranges*

    LW1 – I’m glad the advice pointed out that it’s perfectly reasonable for the day employee to be angry. If the company doesn’t do something they’re going to end up losing their good employee.

    My office too has a long-term employee like the evening one. The difference is our boss brushes off their numerous, often serious mistakes.

    This is infuriating, especially since I end up dealing with the clients they upset. Doubly annoying is that if I so much as miss a fullstop my boss makes a huge deal out of it.

    1. Kate*

      Considering that both of those employees have been there for 20 years, it would take a lot to lose that good employee.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This is something that makes me think niche skills, better than market pay, really small town, or other similar constraints that make changing jobs harder – not impossible, just harder.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yeah, sounds like bad employee has been bad for a while, which means that good employee has been putting up with him for YEARS at this point. If she was going to get fed up and quit, she’d probably have done it back in 2012 or something.

        Honestly, she KNOWS nothing is going to change.

        The letter was written in 2017. I’d guess both employees are still there, with bad employee still showing up reliably but being bad and good employee still being good but complaining vigorously. OP may or may not still be there, but probably not.

      3. Observer*

        Considering that both of those employees have been there for 20 years, it would take a lot to lose that good employee.

        It would be a real mistake on the part of the company to work on that assumption. Because it HAS been a lot, and you just don’t know when the last straw will hit.

  7. I take tea*

    LW3: Just as in the case with LW1, if you don’t rein in the problematic group member, the others are going to vote with their feet. My mother in law had this in her group, a really homofobic mansplainer joined and was complaining all the time that they “had to read” an autobiography by a gay person. He couldn’t just shut up and skip that book, apparently. My MIL said that the group almost ended after that, but they decided to talk to the leader, who after being a bit passive (probably shocked into silence at first) managed to talk to the guy and it apparently helped. (I think he dropped out after a while, when he realised that they would go on to read diverse books.)

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I had a book club fall apart because of one member — in this case, a writer who wanted us to have more more in-depth conversations about the writing itself. We would drift off into chitchat and she’d continually try to herd us back to narrative arcs and plot structure. Most new members didn’t come back, and the few regulars started not coming to avoid her. I knew I could speak to her but chickened out as she was an otherwise pleasant person and she wasn’t being obnoxious. She simply wanted a serious book club and we were a social one. Eventually we just petered out (as book clubs often do regardless) and some of that is on me for not dealing with it.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I had to leave a writing group I really liked because the group leader refused to speak to/kick out a problem member. I even offered to speak to him myself, but she never responded. When I realized how much anxiety I was experiencing before group, even when he didn’t show up, I decided to stop going even though everyone else was lovely.

      The paradox of inclusivity is that if you don’t exclude a-holes, pretty soon the only people left are a-holes.

  8. NforKnowledge*

    LW3: I cannot overstate how important it is for you as the group leader to be doing something to rein in this problematic person, even if all you can practically do is talk to her and try to keep her from interrupting in the moment. If the other group members don’t see you dealing with it, they have much less reason to stick around hoping it gets better. Such people are sometimes shocked into better behavior just from someone standing up to them, so I hope that will be the case here!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yes. “Leader” doesn’t just mean facilitator or representative of the library. If you’re leading the group you’re responsible for the experience people have their. That means being able to handle confrontation professionally.

      I have a real pet peeve about people in leadership positions (at work, in a book club, organizing a holiday party, whatever) who ‘don’t like conflict or confrontation’ so they let things fester and get out of hand. I have sympathy that confrontation is really hard, but if the group falls apart that’s the responsibility of the person who promised a certain experience and didn’t do the work to deliver it.

      I know that’s harsh I’ve just seen so many good things, good workplaces, good groups fall apart because the leader wouldn’t lead and it’s heartbreaking.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, a group whose leader is unwilling to deal with conflict is like an internet comment section with no rules or moderation. It works until the moment a bad actor enters, then it all falls apart.

      2. Here for the Insurance*

        OMG, yes!

        We just had someone in a top position retire and, while she’s a very nice person, I’m so glad to see her go. She’s one of the most conflict avoidant persons I’ve ever worked with. She’d “lead” teams with several people of equal rank jockeying to be charge and squabbling, wouldn’t exercise any control whatsoever, and then gripe about nothing ever got accomplished. Turns out that expecting a bunch of opinionated people to get along and agree without any oversight isn’t realistic. Imagine that.

    2. lilsheba*

      Have the book club meetings over zoom and then you can mute the person …quick and efficient. I love doing book clubs over zoom from the comfort of my own house!

  9. Hexagon*

    Yes, I hope the book club leader acted on the problem. I and at least two others left a (paid!) group over a similar situation. The group leader was otherwise really good, but they felt the jerk had a right to be there too.

    I might overlook bad behavior at work or with family, but I’m certainly not obligated to put up with selfish, rude people in my leisure time.

    1. Heather*

      Yep, if it happened once, I’d let it go. If it happened twice, I’d be done with the club. Book clubs are very easy to walk away from! It’s not even like, say, a community choir where you might feel like you were letting people down.

      1. Antilles*

        Given how easy it is to walk away from, I’d bet they *already* lost several members (or potential members) to it.
        Why? Because being interested enough to complain already implies at least some level of ‘commitment’ and interest. Anybody who’s a first-timer or who was already on-the-fence about staying in won’t complain; they’ll just quietly ghost out without ever telling you that jerk is the reason why.

    2. Jellyfish+Catcher*

      We had that problem with a member. We went to a timed allowance – the bell rings, you’re done, right then in mid sentence.If you continue (which of course happened) the bell rings again.
      It was still a struggle with that person and unpleasant for everyone.
      Those types of people are often also angry if confronted.
      The leader reader has to both rein this in and explain that continuing to violate the rules will result in being dropped – if the library will back her up.

      1. Introvert Teacher*

        Yeah I love this idea! I think the leader should think about having a conversation with the troublesome person first and ask them to scale back. Then in the group meeting, the leader might try silently timing them and interrupt them to cut them off and say something like, “I appreciate what you have to say, but I think we need to move on and hear what others have to say”. Every time the problem person speaks do this. If it doesn’t curb it, then I would institute a policy with a bell timer like this, even if it is a little intense and harsh. And if someone is continously violating the timer, then yes a policy should be made that they will be dismissed from the group. Don’t hold back — as the leader, you can absolutely drive the discussion. Another idea might be the use of talking cards or a talking stick/object — with talking cards you get 3 at the beginning of the club, and after talking you have to turn one in. If you run out of cards you can’t speak. Or with the stick/object, you have to pass it around to talk and it helps cue everyone to listen and makes them wait to speak.

  10. I should really pick a name*

    For #2, I’m surprised the advice wasn’t “go to HR now” (it was only listed as an option).
    I would think talking to HR sooner rather than later would be important to head off any possible further action by the boss. For example, if the boss commented on attendance in a performance review, it would be better to reference the boss’s unreasonableness as a known issue than to only bring it up for the first time at that point.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Eh. The boss said something unhinged, but I think the best course of action is “ignore it and see what happens”. A lot of times it will play out like this, with zero follow through. I think Alison’s advice of “treat it like an odd moment and then go to HR if it ever comes up again” is the path of least resistance.

  11. JelloStapler*

    outside of all the other obvious issues with that request, does LW1’s boss realize that a tonsillectomy for an adult is actually a pretty long rough recovery meaning that the employee would be out for weeks??

    1. ecnaseener*

      Apparently not. But based on the update (boss never brought it up again), I’m wondering if she went home and belatedly googled it.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’m thinking more just forgot about it to move on to other things to pester employees with. I got the feeling this boss was one of those short attention span Nosy Nellies.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah I agree. People like that need to be really careful when they’re in positions of power, but the boss isn’t the one writing in (I would have words if they were). For the employee I think just taking it as a lesson that the boss will say odd and overbearing things sometimes, and they can ignore them, is the best course here.

    2. Looking for a new name*

      I think the boss would be more likely to think, oh it’s just a tonsillectomy! And expect that the OP would get it done on a Friday and be right back to work on Monday, possibly bringing a carton of ice cream with them.

  12. L-squared*

    #4 just comes off really entitled to me. Again, I’m sure some of it is because I have to go into my office a few times a week while many of my colleagues are fully remote (and spread across the US). But when I hear them complaining about the few little perks we get in the office, it drives me crazy. I’d much rather never have to commute, work in my sweat pants whenever I want, be able to run errands and make appointments any day. But sure, be angry that we got a nice lunch here and there and maybe some trinket of appreciation.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This. Being able to work full-time remote is a big perk, and we do not send consolation gifts to those who can’t attend. They are welcome to come into the office for events, and some of them do on occasion.

      My office has giveaways with nearly any appreciation event they hold, but you have to be present to win. One of the folks on my team won a very nice TV at the last one, which was one of the big ticket items. It was the first one we’d had post-pandemic, and it was a bigger thing than usual (someone new sent me an email that said, “They were giving away Apple watches like candy – is this normal here??”). If you don’t make the trek in, you’re not eligible. I missed the last one because one of my children had a medical appointment, and I’m missing the next one because I will be out of town. That’s just how life goes, and, honestly, I’d happily miss out if I never had to commute again.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The “everyone gets a cookie” discussion in hybrid work is really starting to wear on me (in HR). Leadership has weird opinions on it, the remote workers have weird opinions on it…I think if I have to give my equality vs equity speech one more time my brain is going to fritz out. I know we have to figure these things out I just wish everyone would come to the table in good faith and not on the edge of a hissy fit.

      1. L-squared*

        Right. Its like they want all the perks of not coming in AND the perks that we get for coming in. Like, why can’t we get something a bit extra for having to be in person while you WFH every day

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          There are legitimate downsides to working from home and I don’t want to minimize those. Even if it’s optional and you’ve made the choice that the pros outweigh the cons, I don’t want those employees completely disconnected from team building or morale building activities. And some people are working from home because they really have to (immunocompromised, etc) and are having a hard time feeling disconnected and I don’t want to discount that either.

          But I can’t play this 1:1 game where everyone is keeping score. That’s not in the spirit of anything we do.

          1. L-squared*

            Sure. I definitely think companies need to make sure remote workers still feel a part of the team. However, they also should understand that the people who have to come in have less freedom than they do in their day, so they will occasionallly get some “perks” to make up for it.

            I’m hybrid (in 3 days, home 2 days), and about 75% of my company is all across the country and fully remote. I’m sure given the choice, none of them would want to trade places.

          2. Pescadero*

            “But I can’t play this 1:1 game where everyone is keeping score. That’s not in the spirit of anything we do.”

            It’s not in the spirit of how you decide salaries and benefits?

      2. kiki*

        Yeah, I get that folks can have a visceral reaction to feeling like they’ve been treated unfairly, but working remotely has a lot of tradeoffs. Not to say that remote workers should never advocate for things, but I’ve seen a lot of coworkers lose their minds over not getting free lunch but seemingly forget that they are saving money on commuting, have more flexibility with their time at home, etc.

      3. Pescadero*

        I think this comes down to the fact that work – and EVERYTHING related to it – is transactional.

      4. KatStat*

        My company has been pretty good about it. When they started bringing people back in person a few days a week they had several days where they had lunch in the office for anyone who was there. For the employees who are designated as remote (never come in to the office) they had a few trivia questions (very easy) and drew names from those that answered the trivia and gave out a few small gift cards. So all the in person folks got something but the remote employees didn’t feel totally forgotten.

      5. Mr.+Bob+Dobalina*

        I am fully remote and it would never occur to me to expect some transactional compensatory gifts in exchange for not getting the perks of being onsite (free lunch or parties or dinners, etc.). *However* there is a kernel of problem there. Being remote does have problems of this general nature, because my employer makes zero attempt to specifically make remote employees feel appreciated or integrated, and yes, receiving onsite perks does make employees feel appreciated. Unfortunately, my employer seems to feel no obligation to make any efforts for remote employees (or perhaps they have no idea what to do). I am a bit tired of hearing that being remote is (in and of itself) such a magnificent gift to me that I shouldn’t expect anything else – I shouldn’t expect my employer to make any integration or appreciation efforts for remote-me that are done as a standard for onsite employees.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I 100% agree with this. Remote employees have their own drawbacks and are still integral parts of the team that deserve recognition and morale boosts like everyone else.

          If I had to guess, they have no idea what to do. What I hear all the time is “let’s wait and see what other places do and what becomes the norm”. But like…someone has to go first there.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*


          While remote work has some perks, it is primarily for keeping your family safe. Yes, I get to avoid commuting. I don’t have to wear a mask all day to hopefully avoid Covid, long Covid, flu and RSV for me and my family. I could work in my PJs (but I don’t.)

          I still need to be a part of my distributed team. This is why we have videoconferencing and chat. This is why I’m trying to figure out how to ship holiday goodies to my teammates.

          So treating remote workers like some sort of bastard stepchild while you lavish attention on the in-office people is not great for morale. You need to maintain the morale and unity of both in-office and remote people. Yes, it means different rewards for different people. But it’s not that hard.

          1. L-squared*

            Sure. I’m in no way saying just ignore the remote people.

            BUT, you can’t just ignore those perks that you get when you look at the overall picture. And that is my problem. Too many remote people, in my experience, want to have their cake and to eat it too. They want THEIR perks, but also the perks the people stuck in the office get. And as one of those office people, it just sounds whiny.

            Yeah, I got a free lunch, but I had to commute 45 minutes each way, have my boss breathing down my neck, can’t run that errand I needed, etc. But yeah, remote people also think THEY need a free lunch. It just comes across really badly to just be like “well what about meee”.

            There needs to be a happy medium, I agree. But if people stuck onsite get some extras, just let them enjoy it

          2. Giant Kitty*

            People are acting like remote work IS the perk, and this is not the correct way of viewing it.

            Remote work is simply a modern, tech focused response to the changing needs of a modern world that has different challenges than it did before 2020.

            Eventually we are going to see a world where jobs settle into their appropriate niches – remote only where applicable, in person only where applicable, hybrid approaches where applicable, etc – and remote work will just be seen as a different type of position (like ‘office job’ vs ‘blue collar job’) rather than “fun fun job time that is a reward in itself”.

            1. Eyes Kiwami*

              Exactly. So many people–workers, management, companies–are falling into the trap of “remote work IS the perk”. This is just another flavor of “working from home means you’re not working”.

              Remote work is just doing the same job in another place. Managers should make sure that on-site tasks are divided appropriately, just like they wouldn’t let those fall to the person who happens to sit by the door or who happens to be a woman. Managers should make sure remote workers are included in team-building activities and engagement/retention benefits where possible, because presumably you want them to feel part of the team and engaged/retained!

        3. L-squared*

          I can assure you most (not all of course) on site people would trade those tokens of appreciation for the freedom of being remote. Oh, I get a few snacks and some pizza on Fridays? Sure, that makes up for 45 minutes commuting each way, having to wake up earlier to be there, etc.

          If there were massive differences, I’d agree. But the “perks” the in office people get usually aren’t enough to really even things out.

  13. Anothergloriusmorning*

    Recovery for adults who get their tonsils out is no joke. It’s incredibly painful and difficult. You would likely need 2 weeks off work and maybe more.

    I had my tonsils out as a kid and I still remember the recovery being difficult! I have 3 kids and passed down my ginormous and prone to strep tonsils. They all had theirs out and their recovery was difficult too.

  14. TheOfficeGrinch*

    Oof! to the LW1 scenario. I don’t understand employers who don’t understand demoralizing behavior is going to cost them the good workers. Why don’t they care?

    But this was a timely letter because I was thinking about employer resentment recently. In this scenario clearly the day employee should be resentful. What’s the point of being a good, dedicated employee if there’s no ramifications for not being one? But I work with a small team of people I really like. We get along great. One weird thing is they decorate for everything. When they do they’ll spends an hour or more doing it. On some birthdays, they’ll spend almost two hours decorating. Valentine’s Day… Easter… Memorial Day, 4th of July, Fall, Halloween, Christmas, New Year… an endless parade of banners, lights, signs, pumpkins, trees, lights, and ornaments.

    It all looks very pretty and makes the office festive. They have a lot of fun doing it, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think I can’t take 60+ minutes away from my work (plus lunch and whatever other social time pops up that people take) and keep up with my daily workload. Being able to leave at 5 is a luxury for me.

    I know this makes me grinchy. I know that. I’m keenly aware of it and I absolutely keep my mouth shut about it. But at the same time, it sparks some resentment and I wonder: are their workloads so different from mine that they can do all that so frequently without getting overloaded with backlogged work? Or are they just fine if the workload backs up and trickles over from day to day? Or do they just have a better, healthier life/work balance than I do, Ms. Stick in the Mud. I always wonder.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I think this is a real issue and one you should discuss with your boss! If leaving on time or taking 60 minutes out of your week causes you significant workload issues, that sounds like Too Much Work.

      Where I work, we have pushed to have it recognised that you need at least that much flex in your schedule. Even if you don’t want to decorate the office, you need about 5-10% of your schedule unfilled so you can think creatively about a problem, or get a cup of coffee with a colleague and have some chitchat which is part work focussed and part social, or even complete whatever the latest mandatory online module is from HR. If you don’t have that flex in your day, I would absolutely consider that a problem and something to address with your manager.

    2. doreen*

      It could be any of those things – I had a work friend who stayed at work approximately 10 hours a week more than the rest of us with the same job. She probably spent more then ten hours a week extra on her work because of shortened lunches, etc. But she didn’t have more actual work than the rest of us – the thing was she was a micromanager in some ways. Not really in terms of being overly critical but she wanted to review as much as possible of her direct and indirect reports’ work, where the rest of us only reviewed work that required our approval. She probably felt like she couldn’t get away from her workload but the reality was she was doing work that the rest of us didn’t and that no one expected of her.

  15. Well*

    I WANT my tonsils out and can’t find anyone to do it! I get so many sinus/throat/lung infections that I’ve asked about it several times and I’m always told I don’t qualify. I also get gnarly tonsil stones that are super gross. My PCP and the ENT I saw both say they only recommend tonsil removal if breathing or swallowing is impaired.

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

      It seems years ago back in the 60-70’s in my mom’s generation they would pull the tonsils for almost anyone. if you had strep through more than once in a year type of stuff. I know of a lot of people who are older now who got them out as kids. Now doctors have swung the other way and it can be hard to get them out. I remember when I was about 8 or 9 (so mid 90s) I got strep throat 4 times in one year. I just could not get rid of it. I would be fine for a few weeks and then right back to being sick. They almost took mine out. If I had gotten sick with Strep one more time I would have gotten them out.

    2. Observer*

      ! I get so many sinus/throat/lung infections that I’ve asked about it several times and I’m always told I don’t qualify.

      I’m glad to hear that you have competent medical advice. Getting your tonsils out is not going to help you in the least bit.

      Gargling with a good mouthwash or even saline might be helpful for the throat issues, but your tonsils are not the cause of your sinus or chest issues.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      I had my tonsils removed a few years ago after years and years of multiple bouts of tonsillitis and while the recovery was rough, it was a huge improvement in my quality of life! I haven’t gotten sick since then, and overall I feel way better.

      Try going to a different ENT. My ENT recommended removing mine because I was getting tonsillitis 3+ times a year and they had gotten so scarred/enlarged that they would start blocking my airway every time I got sick.

      1. Observer*

        The thing is that tonsillitis and possibly strep throat are really the only things that may be improved by taking out the tonsils. Sinus and chest infections absolutely won’t.

        Getting a second opinion is a good idea, though. It’s a good idea in general, but especially in a case like this, where it doesn’t seem like anyone has done any serious exploration of why someone is constantly getting sick.

    4. Koifeeder*

      FWIW, my gnarly tonsil stones have nothing to do with my tonsils- I have post-nasal drip and a chronically inflamed eustacian tube, and all the ick from that mess keeps getting caught in my tonsils.

  16. Anonnie*

    As a teacher, I second Alison’s recommendations. This won’t be the last time you will deal with this issue, so thinking about this as a way to build your skills may be helpful for you. You mentioned that she has to restart if her monologue is interrupted; she may have a processing deficit. Maybe think of some fun ways that she and the group can write some responses, share within smaller groups and then report out to the larger group and also move around the room. Start by getting buy-in from the group by asking if the group would like to try some additional methods to share their thoughts. Implement one during each meeting. This will shake things up a bit and give her fewer opportunities to monopolize the group’s time. Ask the group for feedback at the end of the meeting to see if they enjoyed the new way to share out their thoughts. You could do this either as a group or with an anonymous survey on paper or online.

    1. An ‘I Message’ may be effective here. Frame it as a fairness issue. Google ‘I Message behavior management’ for the steps. It allows you to call out the behavior in a respectful, assertive way.
    2. You may want to do some version of Think-Pair-Share. This method lets everyone have a chance to talk even if it is just to their partner.
    A. Individuals think about their response to a prompt for a minute or two- maybe even making notes (This is helpful for her since she loses her train of thought when she is interrupted).
    B. Pair individuals and they share their thoughts. Set a timer for about 2-4 minutes depending on the group.
    C. One of the partners shares their thoughts with the larger group.
    3. Gallery Walk- put large chart-size sticky notes (could use poster board, chart paper or even dry erase or chalk boards if you have them) on different walls around the room. Each paper should be labeled with a question or prompt. This would work well if each piece of chart paper focused on one character, for example. Ask participants to post their thoughts on the chart paper either with markers or sticky notes. Using markers or sticky notes, group members then walk around to read and then comment on one or two of the comments that others have posted. Regroup and share out thoughts with the group.
    4. Ask a question with 2-4 different possible answers. Ask participants to go to different parts of the room depending on their answer. Those groups share out their thoughts with each other and one person reports out to the group.

    1. CG*

      Also a teacher, here. These are great ideas. One potential problem with just making some general announcements about group norms is that the most problematic people are often also the least self-aware. They may be nodding emphatically that _others_ should not dominate the conversation with zero understanding that they are the real problem. So a more structured discussion setup can be needed to limit the dominating person’s ability to hijack the conversation, because they won’t rein themselves in even if you tell them to. If the types of exercises Anonnie describes feel too structured for how you’d like the group to run, then more active management of the conversation is imperative, as others have described. It will likely feel awkward at first, but you get used to it. And you can be buoyed by knowing everyone else appreciates what you’re doing.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I go to a fairly structured book club at my local library. After some preliminary chatting, we go around in a circle, taking turns talking about the book. The facilitator(librarian) always goes last, but she makes sure that the circle keeps going. She doesn’t eliminate back and forth conversations about the book, but will re-direct if needed.

        After all of us have had our say, there is more open discussion. Unfortunately, it is way easier now, since a number of our regulars have stopped coming after Covid.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If you’re going to do any kind of think-pair-share I’d just be verrrrry mindful of who the problem member is getting paired with.

  17. CommanderBanana*

    He is extremely reliable but is not good at his job and has many inconsistencies in his performance and responsibilities.

    I’m sorry, what?

    1. Zorak*

      My guess is retail or something, where attendance can be weighed (by some managers) as vastly more important than how well you actually serve the customers.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, that threw me too. I’m guessing what OP meant is that he is reliable in his attendance but literally unreliable in every other aspect of his job.

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

        He probably gets everything done that is asked of him… really badly.

    3. Somebody Call a Lawyer*

      Lolololol, came here to say exactly this.

      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  18. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I hope we get updates on letters 1 and 3. I really want to know if OP1 got the power to fire the bad employee or if the good employee left. 20 years is a long time to stick it out with any employee or coworker, but especially a bad one. And I want to know what happened with the domineering book club member, if she got a talking-to and how she reacted to it.

  19. Vice+President+of+Monitoring+Employees’+LinkedIn+and+Indeed+Profiles*

    “HR is not willing/able to terminate his employment.”

    When a company bases its whole business plan around keeping one person employed rather than selling a product or service, it’s doomed to failure.

      1. Roland*

        My thoughts exactly. Why don’t employers realize this drives good employees away? Because it clearly hasn’t.

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

          It hasn’t driven this one, specific employee away. We don’t know anything else. Does the guy have night-shift co-workers?

  20. ZSD*

    4. I think the norms around this might have changed some since the start of the pandemic. When this letter ran in 2018, I agree that it was normal that those who couldn’t attend a work party just missed out. Since the start of the pandemic, though, I’ve seen a lot of employers send DoorDash gift cards or gift cards for specific restaurants to employees who can’t/choose not to attend the in-person event. That way, people not in attendance in person still get a nice meal, and in some cases they can Zoom in to participate from a distance.
    If this letter ran today, I would tell the letter writer not to request a gift, but to see if the boss is willing to send them a gift card for a meal.

  21. Et Tu Bananas*

    I DESPERATELY want an update on #1 – but I suspect the update is “Good Employee quit and we are now all suffering for it.”

  22. Anon for this one*

    Thank you for response to LW2, Alison! Had a similar-ish situation a while ago – wasn’t quite as serious as “you should undergo surgery” and, in fairness, the medical issue meant I was spending a lot more than 1.5 days per year on sick leave – but something about the suggestion rubbed me the wrong way. I think I shut it down with a quick “Thank you for the idea but my doctor has recommended X and I’m going to stick with that” but a big part of me was left wondering “Erm, sorry, but did you just instruct me to undertake medical treatment because me being sick is too much of an inconvenience FOR YOU?”. I did wonder if I was being over-sensitive (like, perhaps they meant it as a “I can see you’re in pain and I’d like to help” and it just came out wrong) but Alison’s answer makes me think I probably wasn’t. And, for what it’s worth, when I finally got properly diagnosed, it transpired what they were suggesting would have been of little to no benefit anyway.

  23. Donkey Hotey*

    I think I know the day job that LW1s night shift guy works. I had an absolutely horrid coworker at my previous job (which overlapped with the 2018 date) that despite multiple warnings, PIPs, admonishments, was still employed there when I left in 2022. Dude was caught sleeping at his desk… twice… in the same day and still managed to keep his job.

    When I raised the issue to our manager, he said they wanted him to stay because he did one particular job very well and it was difficult to find a replacement. Four months after I left, he quit and whaddyaknow, they found a (faster, more efficient) replacement.

  24. Stressed out*

    I am in the same boat as LW1. I have two colleagues that basically get away with doing almost zero work. One is long tenured and spent a good portion of his day sleeping in his car in the parking lot (pre-covid) and taking credit for the work of others. The other is a good talker and spends most of his day offline. The rest of us on the team are drowning in work. When concerns are raised to management, nothing is done. Our manger is friends with both of them and he has been know to socialize with them outside of work. It gives the impression of a ‘good old boys’ network and is very demoralizing.

  25. ENTJane*

    If anyone ever insisted I get surgery, I would be in HR so fast people would think I teleported.

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