update: a dispute about customer skills is tearing apart my agrotourism business

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer where a dispute about customer skills was tearing apart their agrotourism business? Here’s the update.

Things got better, worse, then better again, and all during our busiest months. I owe huge thanks to you and the commentors for the advice. I apologized to Amy; she accepted my apology and resumed her usual banter. I also used Alison’s orchestra analogy and other suggestions to explain to Jenn and John that Amy’s style was simply a part of our business. John seemed to take this to heart, but Jenn just grew silent and withdrew even more from guest interaction.

Unfortunately, one night while I was recovering from COVID, the guests were clamoring to meet the chef, and Jenn was coaxed to join them for dessert. Amy told a story and Jenn just snapped, saying, “Amy, when will you stop telling that (expletive) blueberry story? We’ve all heard it one thousand times before!” Apparently, there was dead silence until one of the guests pointed out that they had not heard the story before and that they were all enjoying the blueberries. Jenn stormed off, and Alice called me to tell me what happened. Thankfully, it was the penultimate day of the guest cycle, but we still had to make up for the drama with gifts and discounts. I immediately suspended Jenn from any guest interaction, but because we had no replacement, she remained in the kitchen until the end of the season.

The day after that incident, I contacted a business life coach who also happened to have a background in family therapy. She agreed to consult at short notice, and we had several difficult sessions with all five of us. What emerged was that Jenn considers this company her family to the point that she could not wrap her head around the repeating stories as being anything but rude. She compared it to her father (who was in sales) repeating tales that the family had heard many times before to people he’d just met. She was adamant that that any “real creative” could figure out how to utilize new dialog, and explained that hearing the same things said the same way over and over made her feel “disrespected and invisible” because it felt as if Amy were only thinking of herself and not her coworkers. No one should have to hear the same things repeatedly. Amy, Alice, and I disagreed, but most interestingly, John (Jenn’s husband) took no sides. Our business life coach reported that she felt Jenn was far too emotionally invested in the situation and, to our surprise, Jenn agreed. Although she is still a part owner on the company, Jenn offered to step down as executive chef. She finished out the season without guest interaction and will take some time during our closed period to do some personal work and decide her next move. It was a sad decision for all, but we’re slowly working back toward a positive relationship.

P.S. It seems several persons involved read this column. Amy was particularly amused by the comments because she worked at Disneyland during college and, yes, actually skippered the Jungle Cruise.

{ 510 comments… read them below }

  1. BatManDan*

    Happy ending! I hope Jenn heals from her childhood wounds and manages not to take them into her next business venture or employment setting.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Wow. There’s a lot of family dynamics there that Jenn has transported to her work colleagues. OP, there was no way that Jenn was going to work out in this business, or ANYTHING that covers customer interactions.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreeing that Jenn shouldn’t be in customer service or anything with customer interactions.

        But at the same time I feel bad for all of Jenn’s coworkers for having to suffer her wrath because of childhood dynamics they were most likely completely unaware of. Yes we bring our past with us into work – but it is important to not take out your past in the present.

            1. Clisby*

              I wouldn’t have thought so, either. I am probably biased by the fact that, generally speaking, I’m not interested in meeting the chef. I’m there for the food.

            2. Selina Luna*

              Not normally, but it might be different in a situation when you’re getting food from the same chef over and over.

              1. UKDancer*

                Yes. I go to a posh spa hotel in Austria every year for a week and we have a gala dinner on a Saturday night and they usually bring the chef out after dessert, and we applaud his genius and make a fuss of him, and he looks embarrassed and pleased then he goes away. (I did ask if the hotel was sure he wanted to be brought out and apparently, he definitely likes to get the kudos from the guests despite looking awkward when he does it).

                That’s the only place I’ve had the chef actually come to the front of house to be recognised.

                My father has a lot of medical dietary requirements and sometimes we’ve had a chef come out and check with him whether a dish or ingredients are ok but that’s more of a functional conversation.

            3. Drago Cucina*

              There are some places that it is A THING. Chefs are expected to interact with the customers and work the tables. My son used to work in fine dining kitchens and he always said one reason he didn’t want to get passed a certain level was that then he’d have to go schmooze the customers.

              The irony is that now that he left kitchen world he does BBQ competitions as a hobby. He has to talk to the “customers” all the time.

              1. TomatoSoup*

                Yes, I’ve been to a few restaurants that have a “chef’s table” that was always a bar and you could watch the chefs at work. Sometimes, I think it was also expected that we’d be talking to one of the chefs on and off. Not my thing, so I only did it the one time I was eating somewhere that did very specialized cuisine and I was curious how it was prepared. Luckily, the cooks we could see would greet us politely and then returned to their work.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Or that your coworkers are always going to 100% tailor how they do their customer facing jobs to your preferences, including coming up with novel content whenever you happen to be nearby, when you are NOT the audience for what they are saying and doing.

            1. Zorak*

              Yeah, Jenn phrases this as “feeling invisible”, but it seems more like she’s unable to handle not being the focus/audience for what everyone is saying. So it seems like she feels invisible at totally inappropriate times and/or maybe it’s more of a struggle if too much ego, rather than of too little.

              1. KWu*

                I think it’s more that being in the situation of hearing the same story reminds her of how she felt invisible as a child, perhaps because her father wasn’t considerate of her? Which is still Jenn’s problem to own and figure out, not Amy’s, just that I don’t think Jenn is necessarily looking for more attention or that it’s about her ego so much as it us about childhood wounds.

                1. yala*

                  But childhood wounds from what? The situation she described is…perfectly normal and reasonable. Aside from the fact that most people don’t have this reaction to their parents telling a new person a story they’ve heard, it’s also just… I dunno. Did she only get to see him when he was with clients? Did he never spend time with her outside of that?

                2. somanyquestions*

                  No one is wounded because their dad is a boring conversationalist around new people. That’s not a thing.

                3. Brisvegan*

                  People are saying her father’s repeated stories are not enough to make Jenn feel invisible, but there might be s lot more to it. Jenn may have felt generally invisible to her father, not only because of the repeated stories. He may gave been generally neglectful to her. Hearing repeated stories may remind her of her father and make all those feelings bubble up. The stories may be an identifiable thing that bring up those feelings, but it may be the sense of being neglected/invisible may come from more than stories.

                  Basically, the story pattern might be a trigger to re-experience feelings that are from a lot more than stories.

                4. Lime green Pacer*

                  I wonder if the repeated stories were just the tip of the iceberg of Jenn feeling ignored or dismissed by her father, and other things were harder for her to point at. I may be projecting, though, as my dad was a workaholic who was rarely home.

              2. hbc*

                Yeah, name me a family where you don’t hear the classic stories repeated every time a new listener/victim comes around.

                It’s one thing if Dad’s stories were embarrassing or tried to paint a one-off incident as This Is How Jenn Is, but “feeling invisible” because the guests are being entertained while she’s bored? It’d be a miracle to get through childhood *without* experiencing that.

                1. Observer*

                  but “feeling invisible” because the guests are being entertained while she’s bored? It’d be a miracle to get through childhood *without* experiencing that.

                  Yes, that jumped out at me, as well.

                  OP, please keep this in mind. While it’s true that her over-investment in the idea of this business being “family” is a problem, it is NOT the *only* problem. I don’t know what’s going on with her, and it’s not useful to guess. But what you need to realize is that she has some really, really strange and non-functional ideas of how human groups work and interact.

                  What you need to see from her, if she decides that she’s “done the work” and wants to start working within the business again, is not that she has worked out her family issue. But that she really gets how to operate among people, especially in the context of a shared business. Because even in a case where Amy had actually been rude (eg telling a story that made Jenn look bad), her reactions was just so rude to the other people sitting at the table, that I find it hard to excuse even with the additional information.

                2. learnedthehardway*

                  From my perspective, this one of the things that “makes” a family – you have shared stories. Whether you’re blood relatives or family-by-choice, you share experiences and you keep each other’s histories. I grew up with this – my grandmother would tell us endless stories, my Dad does the same thing. Same stories, often over and over. They were part of the fabric of who our family was and is.

                  To my surprise and dismay, my spouse and kids do not feel the same way, and don’t like hearing the same stories time after time. It’s very odd. Of course, they have much better abilities to remember than I do, but still.

                  Jenn needs to realize that her perception that this is disrespectful to her could equally be interpreted (within her family) that she is being disrespectful and refusing to connect with them (I may be projecting a bit here.)

                  And within the workplace, she needs to realize that any time you’re dealing with a large volume of different customers in a more than over-the-counter, transactional kind of relationship, you NEED to have easy ways to create engagement. Often, that will be a script – almost like a tour guide. It’s about making the CLIENT comfortable, and keeping yourself relaxed and able to deal with other things happening, NOT about engaging with your colleagues.

                3. Fishsticks*

                  Doesn’t even have to be a NEW victim. I’ve been married since 2008. My husband’s family is STILL telling and retelling me the same stories about his infancy and toddlerhood as if I’ve never heard them before. That’s just what family does!

                4. MigraineMonth*

                  My aunt was a great storyteller who would frequently repeat her favorites. When she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, all her husband had to do was get her started and she would be able to tell the whole story. On one visit, my sister was able to record her stories and put together an “[Aunt]’s Greatest Hits” album. It’s one of our family treasures.

                  Novelty isn’t the most important part of a story.

                5. 1LFTW*

                  FWIW, I’m guessing that Jenn’s father was someone who used “Family Man” as part of his sales persona, and the deployed the same few anecdotes whenever he felt it would help them close a deal. She may have felt like he didn’t care enough to learn more about her that those few stories.

                  I could be wrong, but I’ve seen the dynamic before, and it’s honestly the only thing that makes sense to me in this context.

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

            It’s a lot easier to deal with customers when it’s business to business instead of business to consumer. Business to business relationships are more balanced towards understanding where each are coming from, whereas consumers often work under the assumption that they’re right all the time, regardless of what the situation with the business is.

          3. Worldwalker*

            There are a lot of them, unless you consider customers to be other teams/people in your own company, which kind of makes the concept of “customer” meaningless. A chef generally remains in the back of house, for instance.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              There are people who depend on my work, but they’re all coworkers rather than customers. That’s pretty common for my field.

              1. Worldwalker*


                At the moment, my interaction with customers is almost entirely limited to answering occasional questions on the support forum and by email, and someone else could do that if I didn’t want to. (it keeps me sane: reminds me that there are people outside this room and a world beyond my desk)

                There are people like our graphic artists, the whole accounting department, various editors, etc., who probably *never* talk to an actual customer. That’s not uncommon in most businesses, and the larger the business, the more likely it is. Probably 99% of the people at, say, Microsoft are internal-facing.

                1. Redaktorin*

                  FWIW, I’m an editor who never interacts with customers, but my job asked me about customer service and soft skills when I was interviewing because the org is extremely clear that they don’t want any more grouches on my team. Correcting people kindly is an art, and I think Jenn would be pretty heinous at it.

          4. Nina*

            I’m a R&D scientist in an aerospace company that’s outside the US, has mainly US customers, and is heavily controlled by US regulations. We have people whose entire job is interacting with customers, and the customers never, ever, interact with anyone other than their assigned point person.

            In the service industry, I can see it being difficult to avoid interacting with customers, but a sideways hop from chefing to food science is doable and would seriously limit (if not completely delete) customer interaction.

            1. Claire*

              My job (and my industry) is pretty much the same. We have a department full of client managers whose role is to be point people for the clients. Any job that has large numbers of people working on client projects will probably have the same thing – it solves the issue of clients not knowing who to contact, or contacting multiple people who each only have one piece of information and therefore might be giving the client contradictory information.

              I’d think it’s a lot rarer to find a job that’s so 1:1 that everyone in the business has to do client-facing work.

          5. tamarack etc.*

            I don’t think it would matter as much in a setting where there isn’t a designed, narrative “experience” being offered to the guests. If it’s just the chef and the front-of-house staff, the risk of being exposed to a honed performance of repeat anecdotes is less. Also, I’d expect Jenn might be able to put more distance between her personal involvement and her job if it isn’t the life dream of a group of friends/partners to which she is connected via her husband. She can’t NOT see this as an extended family. Working in a more transactional setting might help. (I’m feeling more for her than for the rest, since she’s the one who’s got the greater trauma to overcome. The others seem to have everything together and are working through the crisis rationally.)

        1. Observer*

          But at the same time I feel bad for all of Jenn’s coworkers for having to suffer her wrath because of childhood dynamics they were most likely completely unaware of.

          That’s really true. Even if they were aware, I’m not sure that anyone could have done anything about it. The bottom line is that there is no realistic way to change how someone in Amy’s position was going to be able to do their job.

          But also, it’s not just about the childhood dynamic. Jenn was just being flat out unreasonable in *insisting* Amy could actually change the way she does her job.

        2. Hey Nonnie*

          Frankly, I also find it weird as hell that Jenn got upset at her dad telling stories to people who’d never heard them before, too. Maybe there’s something else going on, but that seems like a HUGE overreaction to something that’s completely normal and innocuous within human relationships. Doesn’t EVERY family have family stories that are hauled out at every family gathering? This is literally how families bond with each other! Though shared history and storytelling. And this is for people who hear the same stories every Thanksgiving for decades — not even accounting for sharing stories with people who haven’t heard them before! Jenn not even being able to acknowledge that she is not the audience for the story seems… well, narcissistic to me.

          Storytelling is so ingrained in human relationships that I really can’t understand what the heck Jenn’s problem is. Even aside from the whole “it’s a job, scripts are part of the job description, and the stories are not for you anyway” aspect.

          1. bart harley jarvis*

            Yeah, this stood out to me too. We even used to have a family joke about numbering family stories to make the retelling faster, knowing that we were for sure gonna tell the same stories again anyway. What Jen wants isn’t just out of place in a business setting; it’s very particular to whatever’s going on for Jen in general.

          2. Kella*

            The only explanation I could come up with is since OP mentioned that Jenn’s dad was in sales, that perhaps her dad used these stories, sometimes about her and her personal life, and her presence in general, to help secure deals. Like, he was using some kind of perfect family image and story to help sell things, when it wasn’t an accurate representation of the truth. That is pure speculation though and it sounds like Jenn has a lot of work to do still since she’s still describing the problem in terms that most people don’t hear as upsetting or disrespectful.

            1. Hey Nonnie*

              Even if that’s the case, it still seems weird that she’d focus on the repetition of the story instead of the lying part.

              1. 1LFTW*

                So, my ex’s father did this. He repeated literally the same half-dozen or so stories about my ex as a kid. It was like my ex was reduced to a handful of amber beads, frozen at the age of 3, or 5, or 8, or 10, pulled out because his father wanted to brag about how precocious he’d been as a kid. I heard those same few stories every time we got together, sometimes multiple times per visit, for a decade and a half.

                My ex was hurt, and the repetition was certainly part of it. It was as if his father couldn’t be bothered to remember who he was after the age of 11, let alone who he was as an adult.

                He was definitely impatient when people repeated themselves, though fortunately for him, he didn’t have to deal with it as a matter of professional necessity. If he did, I could see it being a problem for him.

          3. Meep*

            My mom likes to tell the story about how I gave both my parents five popsicle sticks each to ask questions when I was 8. My dad is bad at “absorbing” info when distracted (he also had untreated OCD at the time so he would hyperfixate a lot on a difficult problem) so I got fed up with answering how my day went 6-7 times in the span of an hour. I did it because I was hurt that he didn’t seem to be listening and this got him to listen in a weird way.

            I wonder if it comes down to just not feeling “heard”.

          4. TomatoSoup*

            Yeah, I found that confusing as well. Expecting everyone to keep track of every story or thing they’ve said in her presence so they don’t repeat themselves is too much to expect of anyone’s memory in addition to being a bonkers expectation generally.

            1. MM*

              Right. I happen to have a great memory for conversations (terrible for dates, where I left my keys, etc., but I can reproduce entire exchanges almost word for word), and sometimes I do get a little frustrated when people repeat themselves (especially if this forces me to repeat myself). But I recognize that most people’s memory doesn’t work like mine, and no one is doing it to me on purpose. So I don’t make it other people’s problem! I keep it to myself and act like it’s happening for the first time.

              I do occasionally get into kind of a catch-22 where I don’t indicate that I’ve heard [whatever] before, and then the other person figures it out themselves and gets huffy that I didn’t tell them–even though it would have been rude to cut them off by telling them! But those are some very specific dynamics.

          5. I Speak for the Trees*

            I am 100% with you on this with family, but I also suspect that I might be one o the “guilty” parties who re-tells stories. Once or twice I have been called out by someone in my family who had to hear a story multiple times. Mayne it bothers some people more than others?

            But yeah, I’m in real estate and I hear agents tell the same stories endlessly. It doesn’t bother me at all.

          6. tamarack etc.*

            I can very well imagine that Jenn has good reasons for reacting with pain and insecurity to something that reminds her of something her father did. And at the same time, yes, of course there’ll be more to it. It’s much more likely that this wasn’t harmless family bonding, but something along the lines of the father using the stories to, maybe, deflect conflict, evade taking care of the family’s needs etc.

            For example, I know of a case where someone took years to be able to bear listening to certain kinds of music that many think of as nostalgic, harmless fun, because one of their parents put it on to occupy the kids while having sex with a lover they were cheating with on their spouse, the children’s other parents. Or myself, I have a very conflicted relationship to many Christmas songs because of family baggage. If I said so, would you say “what? Christmas songs? That’s *literally* how families bond, singing together!”

          7. Antilles*

            Frankly, I also find it weird as hell that Jenn got upset at her dad telling stories to people who’d never heard them before, too.
            I’ll go a step further: I find it weird as hell that Jenn got so upset at her dad repeating stories period. Dads running out of stories and re-telling the same old ones to their kids who’ve already heard it is literally a sitcom trope – and one that I’ve sure experienced with my dad, grandpa, uncles, etc.

          8. Claire*

            It does seem narcissistic, in the lay sense of the term and not the diagnostic sense. It’s very strange to confuse “This performance is not directed at me” with “I’m being treated like I’m invisible and it’s not fair,” as if she has to be the acknowledged audience for every interaction that takes place in her presence.

      2. Observer*

        OP, there was no way that Jenn was going to work out in this business, or ANYTHING that covers customer interactions.

        Or in this business, even without the customer interactions. Because this is not the kind of job where you can NOT hear the customer interactions.

    2. Sibyl Rose*

      I think Jenn dislikes Amy, period. She can’t admit that, so she came up with some gobbledegook about emotional wounds that, btw, completely disrespect the severe and tragic emotional wounds some children endure. Not that this is a suffering contest, but come on! You felt invisible because your dad repeated tired stories?

  2. Hills to Die on*

    I have a hard time comprehending how Jenn does not understand that this is a part of Amy’s job. How is that elusive?
    In any case, Jenn definitely made the right decision and I hope it works out well for everyone.
    Best of luck to all of you.

    1. I need a new name...*

      because she’s importing a lot of childhood issues with her actual family and projecting them onto her ‘work family’.

      Trauma doesn’t often make a lot of sense…to the people struggling with it, let alone anyone on the outside of it. But I’m glad OP was able to highlight the issue for Jenn and hopefully Jenn can really work on that.

      1. EpLawyer*

        But her childhood issue is — Dad told the same stories SHE had heard many times to new people who had never heard them.

        Jenn thinks Amy thinks only of herself. But Jenn’s position seems to be ” *I* have heard that story therefore it never needs to be told again.” Jenn literally is not thinking about ANYONE else but herself. It does not cross her mind that the people being told the story have NOT heard it. Jenn needs to work on realizing other people exist.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          That’s what I could not put my finger on – the projection of her own selfishness. Thank you.

        2. londonedit*

          Absolutely – I imagine it is totally infuriating for Jenn to hear the same damn blueberry story every time she’s at work, but that’s the way these things go. Of course Amy is going to have the same stock stories that she tells every group of guests – there are only so many interesting things you can say about any place, and Amy is playing the role of host, and part of that is doing the same patter all the time. It’s easier that way, it’s entertaining for the guests, and it means Amy doesn’t have to come up with new material for every group. Literally every tour guide does the same thing. The guests haven’t heard the stories (or if they have, then they’re probably smart enough to realise they’ll get the same patter every year) and that’s the main thing, not whether Jenn is bored after the 1200th go.

          1. Worldwalker*

            Sales is like that. For instance, I have a story about why I wrote a particular computer program that I sell, which explains some of what it can do and how it’s useful. I’ve been telling that story for literally decades, word for word at this point. It bores *me*. But the people who hear it — prospective customers — have never heard that story before. It’s new TO THEM, and they’re the ones I’m trying to sell software to, not myself. That’s the thing about any customer-focused interaction: the “customer-focused” part.

            And it’s not true that “any creative person” could come up with a better way to tell any given story every single time. The ones I use as part of my sales patter are optimized for their purpose; they’ve been tweaked — make it a bit shorter? add more detail? — for years. It would be stupid of me to throw that out just to be different for the sake of difference — something that wouldn’t positively affect the customers in any way, and likely would negatively affect them.

            Does Jenn never cook the same thing more than once?

            1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

              Homer’s ashes rise from the grave to say, “Uh, in the oral tradition we told the same story over and over and taught it to our apprentices to tell over and over until we as a culture finally got it written down and now we READ it over and over!”

              Jenn needs to get over herself in the worst way. It honestly isn’t rude to retell a story! Dull, maybe. Boring, irritating? But rude?

              1. Lizzo*

                I definitely read your comment in a Homer Simpson voice…

                …and now I am going to go in search of more coffee.

            2. Momma Bear*

              I actually like the analogy of cooking food more than once. Presumably Jenn has some fabulous go-to recipes that people ask for because they’re just good. Maybe Jenn should reframe the story that way. OR maybe Jenn should become someone’s private personal chef and leave this particular business endeavor to someone else. Sounds like burnout, actually.

              Even my optometrist has the same banter with different patients. His receptionist hears it all day long, but each patient hears it once a visit. It helps make people feel at ease and it makes him more approachable.

          2. MK*

            Eh, I don’t think it would be infuriating to most people. Boring, yes, maybe a bit grating at times, but hardly rage inducing. Many would learn to tune it out after a while.

            1. Ash*

              Exactly. Adults need to have a level of emotional regulation and maturity, especially in the workplace. Jenn does not have either of those qualities.

        3. LawBee*

          It sounds like she’s working on it. Childhood trauma spills out in many irrational ways, and this is how it’s manifesting for her. She’s getting help, and that’s a good positive step.

          1. Roland*

            Yeah, she is aware of the issue and is at least taking steps to minimize its impact. You can’t Logic Away trauma with a snappy comment any more than you can Logic Away depression with “have you considered everything is ok”.

            1. Observer*

              You can’t logic away trauma. Nor, in this context, is it even necessary to try.

              The REAL problem here is that Jenn is focused on herself and herself only. And on top of that she’s insisting on something that is utterly untrue.

          2. Reyna*

            Can we stop calling having to listen to your dad’s life stories multiple times “trauma”? Jenn has deep-seated issues that are no one else’s fault

        4. Cait*

          Exactly! It doesn’t even sound like childhood “trauma” because it wasn’t her dad repeating the same stories to *her* over and over. He was doing exactly what Amy was doing and repeating stories to new people! My in-laws have a tendency to do this but I just tune them out rather than start yelling “*I* just heard this story and *I* don’t want to hear it again!”. I feel like Jenn has other unresolved issues since she seems absolutely convinced that the only person who exists at any given moment is her.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I was under the impression it was fairly normal for families to repeat stories to each other. I often start stories I’m sharing second hand with “my mom likes to tell the story about…” because of course I’ve heard it a million times. My partner and I have repeated stories to each other, intentionally or not. I really have a hard time seeing Jenn’s point of view here.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              At least every other day …

              Husband: “Have I told you about (whatever)?”
              Me: “Almost certainly, but I may or may not remember it. Go ahead and if I know it I’ll join in on the chorus.”

              1. EpLawyer*

                I’m not that nice. If its just hubby and I, and he launches into a story I have heard multiple times, I will stop him. If it is with someone else, who has not heard the story, I let him talk.

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  This is probably nicer than you think lol. I just tune out and my husband gets super mad I’m not paying attention.

              2. Hannah Lee*

                With relatives, especially my elders, I think of it as like listening to a favorite record. There’s a point in the conversation where I mentally realize “Oh Aunt Tilly just dropped a needle down on that old classic ‘the time your mother snuck out the bathroom window to meet a boy’ ” Once she’s started, she’s going to play that track all the way to the end, and maybe go on to the next song.

                I know how the story goes, she knows how the story goes, but it’s serving some need in her at that moment to retell it. She may add a little flourish to the guitar solo this time, or hit all the same beats and notes. Maybe there are people around who never heard it before, or maybe me and other family members will join in and back her up or prompt her to tell another story from way back when. And like listening to a good song, or album, hearing it over and over isn’t a problem … it can be part of the enjoyment.

                1. Worldwalker*

                  I think it’s kind of a bonding thing. Sort of like memories of a shared experience … “remember that weekend at the beach, when we found those mole crabs?” … except, in this case, memories of the same story. As you said, it’s a lot like a favorite record. Like always having the same menu on Thanksgiving, or always putting a walnut and an orange in your kid’s Christmas stocking (and explaining why), etc. In an earlier age, that role was filled by folk tales; instead of mothers sneaking out windows, it was princesses and glass slippers; everyone knew those stories by heart, but they still listened to them and told them. Or consider how a little child wants to hear a favorite bedtime story over and over again. It’s a sort of comforting human ritual.

                  We need that. Imagine if holidays were randomly assigned throughout the year … “the Holiday Authority has announced that Christmas will be June 19 this year” … if we never ate the same food twice … “I remember eating baked mushroom ravioli once, that was so good; I’m sad I’ll never taste it again” … if seed companies monitored to ensure you never planted the same flowers in your garden twice, if crews came by to rearrange your furniture every day, and so on ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

                  So, yeah, you’ve heard that story before. You’ve heard the one about Cinderella, too. And the one about Charlie Brown and the Chistmas pageant. It would be a colder world without them.

                2. learnedthehardway*

                  This is so very validating for me to hear all about how every other family also has their stories that get told over and over. I really can’t say how much it means to me right now.

            2. Allonge*

              Families definitely repeat stories to each other – depending on where you are on the BEC scale with various members, this can be an endearing tradition or a scream-worthy, annoying habit.

              The problem is not that Jenn does not enjoy hearing the same thing over and over again, it’s that she does not get this is normal / expected in context.

              But her standpoint is in no way logical, so no wonder you (or I) cannot connect to it.

              1. Bugie Buddy*

                Yes, repeating stories to guests could get aggravating in a family situation for a variety of reasons:

                The dad was someone who tended to just talk up all the oxygen. So even though Amy wanted to ask the guests about themselves, no one else got to start an organic conversation before the dad took over with one of his prepared spiels.

                The stories told by the dad tended to be things that made him look good but portrayed his family members in embarrassing moments.

                The dad tended to have a low regard for accuracy in his stories, putting the family in the position of calling him out for blatant lies, thus “ruining the mood” or going along with an experience they never actually had.

                Still, it’s on Jenn to say “Yeah, repeated stories are just nails on chalkboards to me.” And step out to the bathroom if it gets too overwhelming–not blaming Amy for doing her job.

              2. Melanie Cavill*

                It is possible that neither the LW nor Alison felt comfortable describing the childhood trauma Jenn’s linked to repeated stories. Just because it isn’t in the letter doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I even kind of understand the irritation at repeated stories—if I have the same conversation with a person multiple times, I begin to wonder why none of our conversations are worth remembering to that person—but the issue is that none of them were at Jenn. They were at the customer base. That is what Jenn needs to understand.

                1. Observer*

                  It doesn’t really matter what the trauma was. Because the person being disrespectful and making people “invisible” was Jenn. I mean, she is sitting at a table full of strangers who CLEARLY have never heard the story before and says “We’ve all heard it before”?! Like the people sitting at the table simply don’t exist.

                  That’s jaw dropping. That would be jaw dropping even if the story were objectively bad. You don’t get to dismiss the existence of the people you are sitting with because you have childhood trauma. And if you DO do that, you APOLOGIZE rather than blaming everyone around you.

            3. aebhel*

              Yeah, this. My dad likes to tell the same stories over and over and over again, and we roll our eyes fondly and move on with our lives. This is extremely normal – most people don’t have an endless store of novel and entertaining anecdotes. Makes me wonder if something else was going on there Jenn.

            4. Gerhags*

              I’m wondering if the trauma is because Dad was always telling the stories to strangers, in front of the family. That sort of makes it sound like Dad never turned off sales mode, so instead of interacting with Jenn and the family when they were out together, he was always showing off how witty and charming he could be by running through that script about The Time We Hit A Deer And Ended Up Stranded At A Nudist Retreat instead of acknowledging his family at all.

              1. Observer*

                Does it matter?

                I mean it does matter in terms of the approach her therapist takes. But in terms of how she interacts with people? No, it doesn’t. It’s not information that would be in the least bit actionable for anyone other than her therapist.

            5. Observer*

              I was under the impression it was fairly normal for families to repeat stories to each other.

              Not just families. It’s not for nothing that the joke about someone coming into a barbershop / synagogue / social club / pick your shared space and hearing people tell “Joke 89” to which someone responds “Oh, yeah! And What about #76?!” has about a bajillion versions?

          2. Aurion*

            Yeah, I get annoyed when my mom tells me the same damn story like I haven’t heard it 1465435453 times before, but even then I just inwardly roll my eyes and tune her out momentarily. Jenn’s dad telling someone else the story seems totally benign; she wasn’t his intended audience!

          3. brosephina*

            I may be wrong, but my assumption is that there is a deeper trauma that manifests as this irrational hang-up on sharing work stories–which is how trauma often works. I have childhood trauma that really only comes out when I talk about dental care, as in I cannot schedule or talk about dental care without crying or getting upset, especially when talking about it with my family, not as in I am afraid of the dentist, even though it is incredibly tangential to the actually root of my trauma. But my brain has seized on this random thing as an outlet for my issues, and so while I’ve in large part managed to either work through or simply never had manifestations of trauma in other areas, dental work remains a patently illogical thing that I get upset about–and if you were told about a fight I had with a loved one or a meltdown I had over it, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to trace it back to my actual trauma without me telling you.

            1. Observer*

              and if you were told about a fight I had with a loved one or a meltdown I had over it, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to trace it back to my actual trauma without me telling you.

              But afterwards, would you recognize that it’s your trauma and not your loved one’s fault? Would you double down on the idea that SO’s request to schedule a dental appointment was an outrage or would you apologize and explain that you’ve got this THING about dental work, and could they accommodate you and handle everything dental related in your household, while also recognizing that your SO (if you have one), simply cannot handle YOUR dental work?

              That’s the fundamental problem here. We have no idea whether Jenn is reacting inappropriately to her father’s stories or not. But that doesn’t change the fact that she is behaving massively inappropriately to people who have nothing to do with it. And she is doubling down and blaming everyone else for her misbehavior rather than recognizing that her childhood issues (whatever they may be) are causing her to behave in irrational ways.

          4. lyngend (canada)*

            As someone with an abusive parent. This is actually one of the abusive things my mom would do. Tell the same story about me (that put me in a bad light) every time she saw a new person or friend. And she couldn’t understand how claiming I was going to steal her teddy bear to all our friends and family was hurtful to me (this was the second story she did this with).
            But it was the contents of the story, the fact it was the first thing she’d say about me to people. And the pattern of behavior that made this a negative issue. Rather then just this on its own.

          5. Michelle Smith*

            Wow, we really don’t know Jenn and can’t base what might be traumatic to one person on what we personally would be bothered by. I think Jenn was right to step down and can’t really be head chef for the business anymore, but I think the negativity towards her in this comment section is a bit overwhelming and exaggerated. My goodness, these people are all friends! Let’s let them sort it out and keep our opinions about Jenn’s childhood trauma and mental state out of it.

            1. Chevron*

              I completely agree with this. It’s the first time I’ve had to stop reading AAM comments because I’m so uncomfortable with them.

              OP said several people involved read and recognised the original post, and also read the comments. Maybe she doesn’t know the exact details of Jenn’s trauma, maybe she didn’t go into detail to give Jenn some privacy, either way Jenn eventually recognised what was going on with the right help and did the right thing by stepping down. The outrage seems out of proportion.

          6. iliketoknit*

            I assumed that Dad repeated stories AND expressed disrespect and lack of consideration in other ways, such that for Jenn they were inseparable (even though for most of us repeating stories would be at most occasionally annoying). I of course may be repeating another comment…

          7. Curmudgeon in California*

            My roommate gets upset when my spouse retells any part of their stories, and is quite belittling and nasty about it. My roomie thinks primarily about herself – she has a bit of main character syndrome. My spouse has worked customer service, and it’s also the tradition in their family.

            I’ve learned to live with it, because often there’s a little different wrinkle in it. But I can say “I’ve heard this one before”, and they’ll stop, because their story was part of a point, and by saying I’ve heard the story, they know I’ve heard their point.

          8. SpaceySteph*

            Yeah this is super odd to me as well. I get that its something that’s annoyed Jenn since childhood but not really *why* it irritates her so much. At most it seems mildly annoying.

        5. HoHumDrum*

          I mean, I had the exact same thought as you that I don’t get the big deal, but I suspect what was happening here was that Jenn’s dad repeating himself was a symptom of a larger pattern of disrespect for Jenn and it’s just the particular thing she latched onto. I’ve realized in adulthood that often neglect/disrespect/trauma/etc comes as death by a thousand cuts and what would just feel like a funny quirk to me, with no baggage, feels deeply painful to the person for whom it represents a larger pattern of hurt.

          None of that has any bearing on Jenn’s work behavior or is validating that in any way though, just to be clear. I’m just saying that I a) totally agree repeating yourself is not inherently rude or disrespectful and I myself come from a family of storytellers who love to repeat a good “bit” and I’ve never felt ignored or disrespected by that but also b) I can still imagine why Jenn could see it differently and I suspect she might find it useful to unpack not just that quirk but her relationship with her father as a whole in individual therapy. The fact that Jenn seemed shocked that her feelings weren’t universal makes me suspect she’s got a lot of her family dynamic to examine with fresh eyes.

          But as for LW, yeah Jenn was way out of line to unload that baggage on Amy and having her step down absolutely seems like the right call here. Amy sounds like she’s doing a wonderful job.

          1. Lalaluna*

            ” I suspect what was happening here was that Jenn’s dad repeating himself was a symptom of a larger pattern of disrespect for Jenn and it’s just the particular thing she latched onto.”

            That makes sense! Though, has Jenn really never encountered “people repeating stories” in her personal life or work life since childhood? Like, goes to a party and every time a new person gets to the party, the host says the same stuff, “good to see you! Let me take your coat. Drinks are in the fridge, bathroom’s down the hall to the right…”

            People repeat information to new people entering a room all the time….Does she silently freak out every time? And never thought it was weird no one else has the same issues as she does about it??

            1. Hlao-roo*

              I think this is a case of Jenn (like most people) has different expectations of others in different situations. So Jenn finds it hurtful when people repeat stories in situations she views as familial. So listening to a friend who’s hosting a part repeat a few stories, or going on the Jungle Cruise a few times is no big deal because those people aren’t her family. But this work environment was challenging for her because the owners were all friends before working together, and Jenn was viewing workplace interactions as family interactions.

              Another commenter pointed out, it’s easy to let the work/family boundaries blur when you’re working with your family! (One of Jenn’s coworkers was her husband, John.)

              1. Hlao-roo*

                Sorry about the italics fail. Only “in situations she views as familial” was supposed to be italicized.

                1. Lalaluna*

                  It just seems like such a niche kind of hang-up to have. I’m glad Jenn is getting some therapy/help…..

            2. HoHumDrum*

              It sounds like the issue here was that in her mind the workplace was starting to equate to family, which is what brought the issue back up again. That’s what the therapist person said, that for Jenn it was feeling like family in her mind which put her mentally back in her family of origin’s dynamics.

              The fact that she didn’t recognize until confronted how strange her reaction was is what makes me think there might be more for her to unpack about the dynamics in her family of origin. In general I think when people are very quick to jump to the assumption other people are trying to harm or disrespect them on purpose it tends to suggest that person should do a little digging to unpack that.

        6. marvin*

          I think my read of Jenn is a little more charitable, possibly because I too would struggle with hearing the same stories over and over again and putting on a bit of a show for customers based on our actual lives. I think it’s fair enough that that dynamic isn’t for everyone. Customer service in general is clearly not for Jenn.

          Obviously Jenn did not handle this in a mature way, but she was able to eventually recognize that she was too emotionally entangled and step away. I think many of us have been in a similar place of having a certain dynamic really set us off for reasons we struggle to articulate. Not that it’s okay to take this out on customers and coworkers, but the stress of small business ownership and working with people you’re close to probably didn’t help.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Exactly. I feel like some people commenting today have never made a mistake and blown up before when they didn’t mean to. I feel bad for Jenn, especially since OP suggested she might be reading this.

            1. aebhel*

              I also feel bad for Jenn, but I feel a lot worse for the coworker she cursed at and publicly humiliated for doing her job. I’m glad she stepped away; it seems like the best choice for everyone, but she was way out of line.

              1. Green Tea*

                Yeah, I agree. I don’t think most people were judging Jenn for struggling – it was the harassing a colleague and preventing them from doing their job properly that was the issue.
                People with trauma are still responsible for their own actions, and it’s not wrong to hold them accountable for causing harm.

            2. Skyblue*

              I feel like probably most people HAVEN’T blown up at work in front of a bunch of customers, especially at a coworker who was just doing their job (and doing it well). It’s pretty extreme. I would have more sympathy for Jenn if she would make more of an effort to understand everyone else’s perspective.

              1. Worldwalker*


                Most people, if they have some huge emotional issue, *leave the room* and deal with it at their desk, in the bathroom, even with HR, not in front of the customers. That’s a pretty basic part of the “adult at work” thing.

                It’s related to the “praise in public, criticize in private” ethos.

                The reason I have so little sympathy for Jenn is that she is putting *her* personal feelings, valid or not, ahead of not only the feelings of her co-workers and business partners, but also the success of the business. I can’t see that as anything other than extremely selfish.

              2. Observer*

                And especially in a way that is soooo rude to the customers.

                “We all already X” when you are talking to a group whose members clearly have NOT “X’ed” is just so negating and dismissive. And the reaction of the person who spoke up makes it clear that this is how it landed.

                I have sympathy for Jenn. But she didn’t make *A* mistake. She has a major attitude problem.

          2. Observer*

            but she was able to eventually recognize that she was too emotionally entangled and step away

            Not really. She was forced to do so. And what’s really problematic here is that it wasn’t even the clear discomfort that she caused that made her stop and think that there was a problem. No, it was the fact that others had to clean up the mess, there was a cost to the system, and that she was basically forced into meeting with the coach, who then pointed out that she was blurring an important boundary.

            What’s also problematic here is her insistence that “any creative” can do something – that is not really possible, along with the unstated assumption that Amy’s role is primarily a creative one, which it really really is not.

        7. Zorak*

          Yes, it seems like maybe does have deep childhood issues, but has latched those issues onto the wrong source. Because nothing she’s mentioned is remotely bad or abnormal in any way.

          Like, “Sorry I’m freaking out about something acceptable and chill. It’s just that it triggers memories from childhood [of something equally acceptable and chill]”. Maybe she did feel invisible, and unrelatedly her dad told family stories, and she can’t disentangle that that wasn’t the cause of her pain, just a time that she felt it.

        8. Richard Hershberger*

          Empathy–the ability to imagine someone else’s circumstances, is a rung too high on the abstract thinking ladder for some people.

        9. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I agree! This does not feel like usual childhood trauma, unless there is another element (which is very likely), but it still is insane to me the Jenn does not see anything wrong in her behavior. Even those suffering from trauma based behavior usually understand that their thinking is warped and, while they require understanding, they acknowledge that it is on them to cope with it. Jenn is simply convinced that Amy is wrong though. If Jenn admitted her thinking was irrational, but the situation was triggering her, then I might have more sympathy.

          1. Observer*

            If Jenn admitted her thinking was irrational, but the situation was triggering her, then I might have more sympathy.


          2. Jaydee*

            It doesn’t have to be capital-T Trauma for stuff from your childhood to impact your behavior in less than stellar ways as an adult. My mom had a habit of reminding me to do things when she got anxious about whether they were done, even if there was still plenty of time to do them or maybe no deadline had been given at all. Some might call this “nagging.”

            As a grown-ass woman in my 40s I still sometimes feel myself turn into a petulant teenager when someone “helpfully reminds” me to do a thing I’m well aware needs to be done. But also, it turns out I have ADHD which wasn’t diagnosed till my mid-30s, so I’m trying to reframe how I look at this. Most people who give me these reminders are genuinely trying to be helpful and know that my brain kind of sucks at doing things in a timely way. But my brain still jumps straight to “Yes, I know! I’ll do it, okay?! ” Do I say that out loud at work? No. Do I say that out loud to my husband and son? Unfortunately, sometimes yes.

        10. Worldwalker*


          She thinks she’s the only real person and everyone else is just special effects. I would guess that she only cooks food she likes, too, because her personal taste defines “good” and “bad” food.

          I had a pretty unpleasant childhood myself. But I keep it out of my work life. That’s what adults do.

        11. Gracely*

          Yeah. I mean, my spouse has a habit of repeating the same stories over and over again, but if it’s to someone who hasn’t heard the story before, it never bothers me.

          And retelling enjoyable stories/memories has actually been shown as a good way to strengthen bonds between people, so it’s not crazy to occasionally repeat a story everyone’s familiar with. I mean, we literally do that on this site with the Cheap Ass Rolls, the Aggressive Piano Date, the Boss Who Wanted the Organ Donation, etc.

          1. Worldwalker*

            I bet if I mentioned “the Trash Room” some people would know exactly what story I mean, and from where, and enjoy a shared retelling. Or a shared cringe.

            (for those who haven’t read that story, it’s on Not Always Right, and I *strongly* recommend it — it’s up there with the Cheap Ass Rolls for literary immortality)

        12. mreasy*

          I assume there is other Dad/family related trauma that is being surfaced by the same story telling pattern, not that the story repeating itself is the family issue. No excuse for Jen’s behavior! But I’m glad she is recognizing it and taking time.

        13. yala*

          Yes, exactly!

          Its so weird to me that folks are jumping to “trauma” et al, because it really just seems like someone who feels invisible if they’re not the object of focus at all times. And yeah, kids can feel that way sometimes, sure. But it’s not traumatic, unless they almost never actually get positive focus from their parents, and Jenn’s story didn’t suggest that at all?

      2. Hills to Die on*

        I hear ya – I have childhood trauma that I am still trying to get rid of. I am in therapy, multiple 12-step programs, the whole thing. Have been for decades.
        What I have always done, even before recovery, is say ‘this doesn’t make logical sense’ so why am I having this emotional reaction? To put that on other people and essentially throw a tantrum….no. I don’t get it. Trauma doesn’t mean you have literal blinders on as to why a person would need to do their job.
        And when reviewed in therapy where Jenn is conscious of her misplaced reaction, she still can’t acknowledge that Amy has a job to do, and that it has nothing to do with being invisible, disrespected. Or that it’s not okay to insult others over it.
        Instead, she decided to leave instead of change her perspective.
        It just seems…off. There’s more than trauma here.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          It seems to me that Jenn displays a lot of selfish behavior, which is not trauma, but inflicts abuse on others. It’s like she thinks she’s the main character in everything around her. She needs to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around her.

          1. Worldwalker*

            I wonder if she learned that pattern from her father? We tend to repeat our parents’ lives in our own.

      3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind the Curtain*

        There must be more to the childhood trauma than her salesman father repeating stories. I’m sure I have all kinds of childhood issues myself, but I can certainly discern a difference between my grandmother’s narcissism and a person repeating a script as part of their job. I hope Jenn gets to a better place.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          That and her intransigence over the reasonableness of her attitude and behavior make me question whether this is really childhood trauma or just a seriously unreasonable person.

          1. Worldwalker*

            I’m inclined to agree with you there. I’m starting to think that she’s actually an unpleasant person who has learned that claiming her behavior is the result of trauma is a get-out-of-jail-free card. Most people who have experienced any form of trauma *want* to make it stop affecting their lives and their decisions; they want to make it stop, not use it as an excuse for anything and everything. This seems … off.

          2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind the Curtain*

            Right, speaking of narcissism… Jenn can only think of herself and no one else; not the guests, not Amy, not the OP.

            “and explained that hearing the same things said the same way over and over made her feel “disrespected and invisible” because it felt as if Amy were only thinking of herself and not her coworkers.” Ironic.

          3. yala*

            That’s where I’m at. I feel like if there were something traumatic, she wouldn’t have presented such a normal situation as if that’s supposed to explain everything.

          4. Tom*

            Why can’t it be both? Seriously, we really need to get over this weird “bad people can’t have experienced bad things” deal.

        2. Yorick*

          There doesn’t actually *have* to be more. We certainly don’t have evidence of any more. Plenty of people make it through childhood without experiencing major traumas. Plenty of people haven’t experienced anything worse during childhood than feeling disrespected by being present for all their dad’s identical sales pitches.

        1. Heather*

          And (I’m replying to myself lol): 100% of the information we have about her childhood is that her father was a salesman and repeated stories. If you counter with “Well, her childhood must have been traumatic anyway, and that’s why she’s having this reaction”– that is circular logic. We have no evidence here of childhood trauma. We have evidence that Jenn is definitely not responding rationally to this, and needs to step away.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            That’s a really good point. I hate to judge what is traumatic for another person, but that’s pretty light.
            I hope Jenn finds her way to a happier place one way or another.

          2. Aurion*

            I assume there were more traumatic things than repeated stories that Jenn probably didn’t want to share in front of everyone. The stories from Jenn’s father was the part that pertained to Amy, but without larger context it sounds nonsensical.

            1. Clobberin' Time*

              Which, as Heather pointed out, is circular logic. The evidence for Jenn having trauma is that there is no evidence of trauma.

          3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

            Yeah there’s a lot of fanfic level of projection happening. Maybe her dad was awful. Or maybe Jenn just always has been the type that doesn’t notice things aren’t always about her. It’s weird to leap that it must be trauma, not that Jenn just isn’t kinda of self centered person.

            1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

              Agreed. And the key point is that doesn’t matter to OP and her business. While getting to the root of why this occurs may help Jenn as an individual, it’s irrelevant to what OP had to do, which is remove Jenn from this role. None of this discussion changes that decision.

            2. Worldwalker*

              I was reading an article about creating good fantasy villains a while back. It made a good point: Some of them are the product of their environment, twisted by some event, tortured by some past trauma, whatever. And some of them are just awful people.

              Not everyone would be a good, sweet, wonderful person with all the virtues and none of the vices if some external force hadn’t affected them. Some people are innately selfish, or lazy, or anything else, just like some people are innately altruistic or driven.

          4. HoHumDrum*

            That’s very true, but also something useful my therapist told me once is that she doesn’t believe people “over react”, it’s just that people are reacting to things that are not always apparent to them or you.

            Meaning that when people flip out about something minor it usually means that minor thing was part of something much bigger in their heads.

            She also taught me that just because someone has a problem or you feel bad for them doesn’t mean you can’t hold them accountable for their actions. So I can both fully believe that Jenn truly felt dismissed and disrespected by repeating stories and also feel that that is not LW or Amy’s problem to deal with and that Jenn is responsible for dealing with that on her own.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              ” just because someone has a problem or you feel bad for them doesn’t mean you can’t hold them accountable for their actions.”
              Thank you.

              1. HoHumDrum*

                I just don’t get why commenters feel like they have to reject out of hand the idea that Jenn has genuine issues in order to agree that Amy is in the right. It’s fascinating to me because I get the feeling people think that they are like required to be on Jenn’s side if she has a “reason” to have behaved the way she did. I notice this in general in lots of packed, if you are at all interested in why people do what they do others tend to assume you’re making excuses for them. It’s a connection I truly do not get.

                You can say “Yeah, sounds like Jenn has some real issues rooted in childhood upset that I really hope she gets help with, best of luck to her. The way she treated Any is unacceptable and it is good that LW is supporting Amy in this, Jenn must be held accountable for her actions”. People can have childhood issues from all kinds of things that seem innocuous to outsiders, there’s no need to dismiss that idea out of hand. That however has no bearing on whether Jenn’s behavior to Any was acceptable or appropriate.

                1. Danish*

                  I think its because it gets tiring to read speculation about someone’s terrible childhood when a) we have no evidence of that aside from “she is acting in a way that (we the audience ) cannot immediately understand” 2) doesnt really have any bearing on the state OP is in and is so wholly unnecessary

                  Like i too am stuck often going “why would you act like that” and can theorize but at the end of the day we dont know, we WONT know, and it isnt any of our business or responsibility to craft Jenn a satisfying narrative for her behavior.

                2. HoHumDrum*

                  From my perspective what happened specifically here was comments were incredulous that hearing the same story repeatedly could be upsetting at all, then some folks replied saying that blowing up about little things is not an uncommon response to deeper hurts and that childhood trauma can manifest in that way and that could be happening here as the therapist said Jenn was feeling put back into bad family dynamics, and then others took that as defending Jenn and were very insistent that Jenn is just an selfish ass and looking for explanation is bad. What I observed was this debate started out not as “Jenn has childhood trauma” but rather as “Hey, what seems like minor frustration to you can be much bigger & deeper to others, so we don’t have to dismiss that as a concept out of hand”. But YMMV, there’s a lot of comments now and some are going deeper into assumptions vs the ones I saw that were more broadly about the nature of childhood upset in general.

                  In general for me I find thinking about why people do what they do to be the most interesting aspect of advice columns, so I guess I don’t find it tiresome as others might. I think that’s part of the appeal to me or advice columns, to learn about what makes others tick. Also it’s not just here I find that people find curiosity about explanation to be equivalent to a defense. It’s a bigger phenomenon than that, and also something I have encountered offline as well.

              2. Worldwalker*

                Exactly. Just because I have old knee injuries and now severe arthritis in my knees, and you might feel bad for me, doesn’t mean you can’t hold me accountable for taking a job where I have to climb ladders in a warehouse and can’t. If it’s my job to climb ladders and get boxes off high racks, it doesn’t matter if I can’t do it because my knees don’t work, or because I’m afraid of heights, or because I just dun wanna. The boxes aren’t getting retrieved, and *that* is the problem. Why it’s happening is only relevant to the extent that it might be useful in mitigating the problem: someone who just doesn’t want to do it might be motivated, someone who’s afraid of heights probably not, and no amount of motivation will make my knees work; I know, I’ve tried. (which my orthopedist has told me to quit doing!)

                Note: it’s my job to sit in front of a computer and type/click a lot; my knees are safe.

            2. Hannah Lee*

              ^ This!

              I wrote out a couple of examples of that happening, and then realized they aren’t really necessary, you already said it really well.

              And the reasons why Jenn was experiencing that almost don’t matter from an ATM perspective, aside from us being curious about ‘why’ From that perspective, your last paragraph sums it up what we need to know.

          5. Zorak*

            Yeah, trauma is not the only way people end up as unreasonable. Sometimes they just didn’t mature, never met enough friction to their irrationality, or a million other trajectories.

          6. Worldwalker*

            I’m an inveterate storyteller. I’ve learned to start my stories with “Stop me if you’ve heard this already…” because I forget who I’ve told any given story to. It seems to work.

          7. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Genuine question: How is this circular logic?

            I can see father was a salesman and repeated stories -> Jenn is reacting in an oversized way -> MAJOR ASSUMPTION LEAP -> traumatic childhood.

            But I’m not seeing the circle. Is circular logic the right logical fallacy to describe this? It seems more like a false assumption, but I’m down to be educated.

            1. Danish*

              I believe the circle is: she wouldnt act this way if she weren’t traumatized so we have evidence that she is traumatized because she is acting this way

        2. Anon Again... Naturally*

          I suspect that the ‘stories’ that got repeated by her father were ones that were upsetting for Jenn to hear. Growing up with a father who specialized in being cruel and humiliating to my mom, my sister, and myself under the guise of humor, I can assure you that it can be quite traumatic. Is Jenn manifesting her trauma in a way that doesn’t seem logical? Yes, but as others have pointed out, trauma does not always manifest in ways that make sense from the outside.

          1. Merci Dee*

            There’s no reason to “suspect” that the stories repeated by Jenn’s father were ones that were upsetting to Jenn. As Heather mentioned above, the totality of what we know about the situation is that Jenn’s father was a salesman, and he had a stock of stories that he told whenever he met someone new. There’s nothing that indicates the stories themselves were upsetting to Jenn, apart from the fact that they were stories that she overheard many times as her father met new people. There’s no need to attribute any kind of misdeeds to Jenn’s dad just because she got tired of hearing the same stories again and again.

        3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I admit that trauma is not defined from outside (as in, the fact that you wouldn’t find a situation traumatic does not mean I did not experience a legitimate trauma response to that situation). However, I fully agree with you here. She isn’t even describing it or reacting to it like trauma. It’s more just a warped and selfish way of thinking combined with an unwillingness to view anyone else’s perspective. I could be wrong, but based on the information provided, I do not see trauma here.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            I could be wrong, but based on the information provided, I do not see trauma here.

            I agree with this. I personally see it as being so self centered she’s not willing to look at the larger picture.

          2. yala*

            “She isn’t even describing it or reacting to it like trauma. It’s more just a warped and selfish way of thinking combined with an unwillingness to view anyone else’s perspective.”

            Yes, this.

            The reason why it’s not pinging as trauma for me is that her “explanation”…isn’t one at all, but is presented as if Of Course That Explains Everything.

        4. Underrated Pear*

          Thank you. I was so confused by this entire thread I had to go back and re-read the letter. *Could* Jenn have childhood trauma (and could it be tied up with her father’s stories like some commenters have imagined)? Of course. But why some people are talking about it as a matter of fact, I have no idea.

      4. WellRed*

        Trauma? Her dad may have been a boor, but unless there’s something else we don’t know, I’d hardly call this trauma.

      5. Clobberin' Time*

        How are we leapfrogging from ‘this annoyed her as a kind’ to ‘childhood issues’ to ‘trauma’? Nothing in the LW’s letter says that Jenn is suffering from actual trauma. Jenn doesn’t even claim that her dad’s boring stories were associated with something horrible. She’s just annoyed by it.

        Can we please stop always rushing to find excuses why assholes not only can’t help but be assholes but are the true locus of our sympathy, unlike the people they are assholes to?

        1. HoHumDrum*

          Is saying someone has childhood trauma the same thing as saying we feel sympathy for them or don’t think they’re assholes? Because that is a leap in logic I think we would all do better to unpack.

          1. Clobberin' Time*

            Wait, are you saying that if someone has childhood trauma that doesn’t mean we should feel any sympathy for them? Speaking of things to unpack.

            1. HoHumDrum*

              Sure, ideally I think everyone would feel sympathy for literally everyone. Sympathy does not mean one can’t be held accountable for their actions. People are quick to reject the idea that someone doing something wrong has true issues, and I feel like there’s this sense that if you agree the wrongdoer has been genuinely hurt then you’re not allowed to also hold them accountable.

              My abuser was abused in his childhood. He took his issues out on me. I don’t need to dismiss or downplay the real trauma that was hurting him to say “Doesn’t change the fact that you need to be held accountable for the way you treat me.” That’s what I’m talking about.

              The therapist said Jen had some childhood issues to unpack. It seems like comments here, including yours, are suggesting that line of thinking is BS and agreeing Jenn has legitimate issues is somehow downplaying the hurt she caused Amy and I don’t get that connection. Jenn can be a wildly sympathetic person and it’s still not acceptable for her to lash out at coworkers. Talking about why Jenn did what she did isn’t taking her side in any way, but people seem to feel that it is.

            2. ADidgeridooForYou*

              You can feel sympathy and be annoyed. Bojack Horseman actually covered this topic pretty well – he had terrible parents and a dysfunctional childhood, but at the end of the day you can’t just keep using that as your excuse to act like an asshole towards other people. Also Crazy Ex-Girlfriend had a song about it called “Nothing is Ever Anyone’s Fault” that did a good job of addressing personal accountability in spite of childhood trauma.

          2. I+like+shrimp*

            HoHumDrum is pointing to trauma as an explanation, not an excuse. Trauma gets you compassion from other people but doesn’t mean you’re not being an asshole to others.

          3. Worldwalker*

            Well, I feel sympathy for someone who has unresolved childhood trauma; are you saying you don’t?

            1. HoHumDrum*

              See my response above for a fuller answer, but I get the feeling sometimes people think that if they agree that someone else is sympathetic then they aren’t allowed to be mad at the way they act. In comments sections here and elsewhere people will debate about whether someone else could possibly have childhood trauma as though the answer to that determines the winner of the argument or conflict.

              It seems very possible Jenn could have some deeper, sympathetic issues based on what she and the therapist person discussed. Agreeing that is possible does not mean you think Jenn can’t or shouldn’t be held accountable for how she treated to Amy. I don’t have to dismiss that possibility to support Amy. Talking about why Jenn reacts how she does doesn’t mean you think she was right.

        2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          I’m surprised someone hasn’t suggested Jenn maybe grew up food insecure and never got fresh blueberries. Not everything has an explanation other than someone is just being an irrational jerk.

          1. HoHumDrum*

            But if there was an explanation besides being an irrational jerk would that change how you feel? If Jenn did have food insecurity issues around blueberries would that make the way she lashed out ok?

            That’s what I’m saying- if Jenn has issues she needs to work to resolve them on her own time. Her behavior isn’t acceptable. I don’t need to dismiss the idea that she might have deeper issues in order to say that LW and Amy are 100% right to push back on Jenn and hold her accountable for her actions.

            I think the idea that if you feel sorry for a person you’re not allowed to hold them accountable for their actions leads to people having less empathy for others, not more. They will dismiss and invalidate the hurt of others because they have to in order to justify being upset at them. I’m just saying I think it might be healthier to say “I’m sure Jenn has her reasons and her issues, but that has no bearing on how she’s allowed to treat others at work”.

      6. Seashell*

        Hearing the same stories repeatedly over the course of your life is not trauma – it’s a minor annoyance. If it was trauma, anyone who has known my stepdad would have PTSD.

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      I wonder how “disrespected and invisible” the paying guests felt to have the chef yell at them and then storm off. Or maybe that is a new angle for this kind of tourism. “And meet our enfant terrible chef, who also makes an utterly divine soufflé.”

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I would absolutely have assumed the drama was some kind of pre scripted lark, and would have been loudly guffawing in Jenn’s face on the assumption that she was taking on the character of the stereotypical fiery chef. I just would never have believed employee A was telling off employee B for paying more attention to the guests!

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Oh dang – too bad they didn’t go this direction! It would have been amazing. But all things considered it’s probably for the best for all involved that Jenn is stepping back.

      2. SarahKay*

        It sounds like Jenn yelled at Amy, rather than the guests, so hopefully to them it’ll become a memorable anecdote (to tell and retell!) rather than anything worse.

      3. Zorak*

        And that’s why people who specifically use the word “disrespectful” in situations where that doesn’t remotely apply are such red flag factories. It’s a good chance they filter everything against their own ego and can’t look at themselves as just one of the group.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*


          Saying something something someone else is saying is disrespectful to her, when the original person wasn’t even talking to her, is egotistical as hell. As in main character egotism.

          I would not want to work with or around Jenn. I tell stories, in part to make a connection in a “show me, not mouth platitudes” way. By telling a relevant story I try to establish a commonality to show that I understand.

          Some folks get upset with this, saying it’s a boomer ego thing. It’s not. I was raised to not just say “I understand/sympathize.” If I can relate, I tell how, so that it shows I’ve been there too, and that I empathize on a personal level. It’s not centering myself, it’s sharing why I say I understand. If I can’t relate I don’t have a story to tell, and I am honest about not having a personal experience, and can just offer my sympathy.

      4. Observer*

        I wonder how “disrespected and invisible” the paying guests felt to have the chef yell at them and then storm off.

        I don’t think you need to wonder. The OP says that people were very uncomfortable and one of the guests pointed out that THEY had not heard the story yet ie “Aren’t WE someone?” And then the OP had to smooth things over with gifts and discounts.

        So, yeah, the felt VERY “disrespected and invisible”. And in this case, it was an accurate reflection of the facts on the ground.

    3. Low talker*

      But also, how does she not understand that it is appropriate to tell new people old stories, and it is not disrespectful. It wasn’t when her dad did it, and it isn’t when Amy does it. So bizarre.

  3. SarahKay*

    I’m so thrilled to have an update to this one, thank you OP. And I’m glad it (mostly) has worked out okay.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Agreed, thank you for the update, OP, and I hope you find an executive chef who’s a good fit for your next season!

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, I had forgotten this one, but am now so glad to get an update. I was perplexed by it at the time, and I really still am in many ways, but I am interested in how it was resolved!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Mine too. The business sounded so awesome that I was really hoping the issues wouldn’t ruin it.

        This sounds like the best possible outcome, Jenn realising this isn’t the right role for her.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ve wanted this update since the original letter and am thrilled things worked out the way they did. I do feel bad for Jen but the workplace isn’t where you work out traumas, especially in front of customers. So especially not in front of customers.

      I was extra tickled to hear that Amy did indeed skipper the Jungle Cruise ride!

  4. Edna*

    I’ve worked as a tour guide and can confirm, it gets extremely annoying to hear and to tell the same stories day after day. It’s also part of the job. When I found myself getting agitated hearing my coworkers repeat the same anecdotes, it was a sign to me that I was getting burnt out and needed a break or a new career.

    It’s like if an admin assistant got profanity-level annoyed at the phone ringing and expected customers not to call her… Yeah, I’m sure it is annoying to answer the phone multiple times an hour, but that’s the job. If you can’t handle it without a blow-up, that’s a giant waving red flag that something is wrong.

    1. UKDancer*

      I agree. I also worked as a tour guide in a castle during the university holidays as a student. I got a bit fed up of telling and hearing the same stories again and again but that was the job and I tried to make it sound fresh and engaging to each tour party.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Only tangentially related, but my grandmother was delighted when, as a tourist visiting Stamford Bridge, the guide mentioned something Harold, or perhaps Harald, did, and she asked for clarification: was that Harold Godwinson or Harald Hardrada? This flustered the guide, because “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were Americans.”

        1. starsaphire*

          OK, that actually made me laugh loud enough to startle the cat!

          I’m reminded of a great Eddie Izzard routine where he’s going off about something obscure European history something, and slows down and looks at the New York audience and says, “Do you… do you know there are other countries?” Kills me every time.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I went to school in the US, and I learned more European history than South American, Asian, African and Australian combined. There are entire geographies that are just blank spots with “??” written on them in my mind.

        2. Evan Þ.*

          That reminds me of one time I was on a tour in Czechia, and the guide asked me where I was from. I said the United States, and she replied “Oh, I thought you were from England – you were asking such good questions!”

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me of the play Lettuce and Lovage, where the main character is a tour guide at a manor with a particularly dull history. She’s a fantasist and concocts bizarre, extravagant stories about every room and staircase.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Hahahaha, I feel irritated as heck having to say the same things five times a day to people at my job, but…as they point out, it’s fresh and new to them, even if it’s ABC gum to me.

      Either way, you’re stuck putting up with it, though.

    3. L*

      Yep. What finally motivated me to get off my butt and get serious about job-searching was when my (WFH) call center job was making me so hateful that I would curse every time my phone rang.

    4. ArtK*

      Yup. I have a volunteer gig as a docent in a small museum and get tired of my own stories after a while. The only redeeming bit is that there are enough stories that I can shuffle them around for variety.

    5. Mitford*

      Living in Virginia, I have toured Luray Caverns many times over the years with different groups of friends and guests. Let me tell, there is one joke the guides tell that I first heard when I was in the 2nd grade. I’m old enough for Social Security now.

      Repeating stories is just part of what guides do.

    6. Liz*

      Oh this analogy helps me understand this a little more. I was a receptionist at a place where I typically got 10-15 calls a day, but then a restructuring of our customer service systems during our busiest season (we switched our call center to in-house and didn’t hire enough people) resulted in me taking hundreds of calls a day and having literally no time for any other work. I was absolutely cursing at the phone when it rang by the end of month two. (Thankfully they resolved the issue by the next year.)

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I mean, I answer the phone for a living; it is my entire job. And sometimes I want to rip that thing right out of the damn wall because I AM SO SICK OF ANSWERING THE DAMN PHONE.

      But since I also grasp that my entire job is answering the damn phone, I’ve managed to, you know, not do that.

  5. NeutralJanet*

    “She compared it to her father (who was in sales) repeating tales that the family’d heard many times before to people he’d just met.” Am I misguided or is that…also very normal? Again, the people he’d just met hadn’t heard the tales many times before! For that matter, isn’t it the stereotype that older family members will repeat the same stories over and over again even to their families? Goodness knows my parents have told some stories so many times that I can recite them along with them.

    Obviously Jenn has some baggage about hearing the same thing over and over, but that’s her issue, not everyone else’s. I’m glad that at least the other business partners seem to be acknowledging that she’s the one with the problem.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Of course it’s normal for sales — but apparently it made her feel bad as a child for some reason, and she transferred that onto Amy.

      But man, my family, my husband and I and my husband’s family all have stories we tell over and over – it’s just the way humans work.

      1. Loredena*

        Not only is it how families work, it’s how children grow up remembering family history! So much of it is lost as relatives who know it pass. I regret that I didn’t think to record them the last time my mother and aunt were reminiscing before my aunt died two years later —family stories I had not heard, and never will again.

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          I had relatives in from out of town this weekend. Not only were they telling some stories I’d heard before, some of the stories that were told on Sunday were ones I’d heard on Saturday!

          And this is indeed how you learn family history. (Not just parent to child, but there’s a couple of stories in my family that went Grandma to me to my parents/aunts/uncles.)

        2. MigraineMonth*

          My mother, sister and I visited my aunt, who is a vivacious storyteller, shortly after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My sister had the amazing idea to record her, and we spent the whole visit prompting her to tell stories.

          My aunt faded over many years and passed recently, but at least we have the album “[Aunt]’s Greatest Hits” to remember her by.

      2. jj*

        Jen’s behavior to her colleagues was way out of line, but I don’t think we need to pick apart a second hand accounting of what was traumatic for her in childhood. Jen’s an expert on that and if something that sounds normal to you is presented by someone else as a traumatic part of their childhood – well, that’s what trauma does. It ruins things, often in subtle ways that are very hard for anyone outside the dynamic to understand. I think we can leave our critiques at the business-door, as it were, and give Jen the benefit of the doubt that her childhood distress was reasonable, just hard for an outsider to understand

        1. hey nonny mouse*

          There is nothing in the letter to indicate that anyone thinks Jenn had a traumatic childhood, not even Jenn.

          1. jj*

            That’s very untrue. This thread is full of other people who have also inferred Jenn may have had a traumatic upbringing. People with healthy childhoods don’t generally get deeply distressed and enraged specifically by things that remind them of their primary caregiver. If you are curious, and sincere, there is a lot to be read about family systems trauma and the unexpected ways it can crop up in adulthood. As someone who has childhood PTSD and had worked with many others who have that experience as well, this has huge indicators of past trauma.

        2. NeutralJanet*

          Sure, I don’t think it’s impossible that Jenn’s father did this in a way that was genuinely upsetting, and it’s also possible that her father was horrible in other ways and now anything that reminds her of him is upsetting to her–it’s just odd to me that her explanation for why a normal and innocuous thing bothers her is that that normal and innocuous thing happened to her previously. That’s not really an explanation, you know?

          1. jj*

            You’re actually making a false distinction, though. In very crude terms – if a man in a blue shirt killed your father in front of your eyes, blue shirts might make you anxious for the rest of your life. If it happened when you were young enough, you might not understand why blue shirts are making you nervous. If your next door neighbors favorite color is blue and he wears blue shirts exclusively, you might hate him for years before having a therapeutic breakthrough where you realize why. All your neighbor’s know that is that you are an unexplained asshole to your neighbor. They might figure out it’s about blue shirts, but they still won’t know why that bothers you. Imagine an entire thread of people then scoffing about how normal blue shirts are.

            The tldr is that trauma is incredibly complicated, and some kinds of intense or chronic childhood traumas are almost impossible to understand for people who haven’t lived or studied those phenomenon.

            Jenn was undoubtedly an asshole to Anna but the comment sections continued speculation about if her childhood triggers make sense or not is way out of line in my view.

            1. NeutralJanet*

              But if someone asked me why I was rude to my neighbor and I said, “He wears blue shirts,” that wouldn’t be an adequate explanation, and furthermore, I would know that it wasn’t an adequate explanation. It would be a reasonable way for me to feel, but I didn’t provide further context, it would be a fairly nonsensical thing to say.

              1. ecnaseener*

                And you would presumably say “I’m so sorry for being rude, you didn’t do anything wrong, that’s my own baggage” which it doesn’t sound like Jenn said.

              2. TraumaLlama*

                Yes, exactly this – people aren’t responsible for the feelings they feel, but they **are** responsible for their behavior and how it affects other people, regardless of what’s driving it. “It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility” and all that.

            2. Seashell*

              She may have had no trauma or triggers. She may have been aggravated by something else entirely and took it out on her co-workers. She may have a mental illness that makes her emotionally unstable.

              The thing that seems odd here are people who are assuming there was a trauma. Not everyone who got angry in life was traumatized.

              1. Willow Pillow*

                She does have at least one trigger, though – Amy’s recurring stories. That much is made clear from Jenn’s actions (“Amy, when will you stop telling that (expletive) blueberry story? We’ve all heard it one thousand times before!”) and from her own admission (“She compared it to her father…”).

                EVERYONE has trauma – some traumatic experiences are more intense than others and some people are able to move past it better than others. I believe it was Alison herself who referred to COVID-19 as a collective trauma.

                1. Worldwalker*

                  If everyone has trauma, then no one has trauma — we just have life.

                  I think trauma is too useful a concept to discard that way.

                2. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  @Worldwalker I don’t know. Maybe EVERYONE is too much of a generalization, but I don’t think it’s too big a stretch to say most people have experienced trauma. Trauma isn’t just one experience — my friend “Liz” had a traumatic childhood (emotionally abusive parent); my friend “Ellie” had a traumatic pregnancy; my coworker “Steve” had a traumatic experience in college (shooting). They’ve all experienced trauma, but their trauma’s different.

        3. HoHumDrum*

          I find in these kinds of issues a lot of people seem to have subconsciously taken in the idea that if someone has a valid reason for being upset/behaving the way they do that means you’re not allowed to call them out for that behavior, so people will refuse to acknowledge the person’s reason when they feel the behavior is bad. Discussing WHY someone does what they do has nothing to do with excusing them, but sometimes people seem to feel it’s one and the same and will reject that discussion.

          Anyways, this is my way of saying that you can say both that someone has experienced trauma or has an understandable reason for why they behaved badly…but their behavior is still unacceptable and they still need to be held accountable. I don’t disbelieve Jenn that her dad’s communication style made her feel ignored/disrespected/etc, and I also believe that her taking that out on Amy was unacceptable and disrespectful.

          1. DyneinWalking*

            No to your first paragraph. At least, that’s not the issue I take with Amy.

            My issue with Amy is this: If what’s told in the Update is really all there is to her “trauma” (i.e., that her Dad retold stories to his customers in her presence like people do, and that he was not in any way abusive to her), then essentially she’s “traumatized” by the fact that other people are catered to in her presence. As in, she’s so self-centered and unaware of other people’s point of view that she considers anything that benefits other people but slightly inconveniences her as a personal slight.

            Of course, we don’t know that her trauma is only benign retold stories, but if it is, she won’t get much sympathy for it (and doesn’t get much sympathy already), because people rarely respond well to signs of self-centeredness. It’s the (potential) self-centerdness that riles people up.

        4. Zorak*

          The fact that her explanation of her unreasonable evaluation of the work situation hinged on a childhood experience that also isn’t anything unusual or traumatizing (or inherently bad in any way!) does kind of reinforce that she’s not thinking very clearly, though. Since she doesn’t seem to realize that that doesn’t explain anything and isn’t something to get upset by, either. Which is similar to her unwillingness to put herself in her customers’ shoes and to realize that they were the audience, not her.

          It’s possible that she does have trauma (or just unresolved issues). But it’s not definite just from her story and the fact that she’s being unreasonable. She may just have a pretty cracked perspective on life.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I’m absolutely not ruling out that she has some serious (and maybe indeed traumatic) baggage around this topic but IDK… I get the feeling that she’s someone who just, well, gets really annoyed by people who repeat stories. And someone who’s always been that way, too. And that she relates the Amy situation to her father not because he was abusive in some way but because her father was also someone she has always felt super annoyed by.

      3. mfs*

        My friend who has some neurodivergence cannot stand to hear stories repeated. It’s almost painful for him. He used to get really angry whenever people would tell a story that he’d heard even just once before. It made him anxious, later on he was diagnosed with ADHD and some other things.

        1. Danish*

          Hm. Well this is tangential but helpful to me – ive been writing down anecdotes of my life to examine under the lens of “do i have ADHD” and this resonates. I dont mind rehearing stories, but younger me could not stand being taught something i already knew (in a class setting especially). “Learning” something i (usually) already had taught myself made me feel anxious/angry/almost second-hand-embarrassed. So. Interesting. Thank you for the insight!

        2. Minimal Pear*

          ADHDer here as well and yeah, it grates on me for no real reason! The closest I’ve been able to come is that it feels “inefficient”, but that’s not really much of an explanation. That being said, I’m an incurable story repeater myself, so I try to tolerate it in others. I also think it doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers your friend.

        3. learnedthehardway*

          That IS interesting – and potentially an explanation for why my spouse and one of my kids get irrationally upset at repeated stories. Thanks. Shared family stories are so much of my family-of-origin identity and shared experience that it is really difficult to navigate with my own family, who really don’t like repeated stories. For 2 of them, it’s probably a mix of almost perfect recall and their ASD – at a guess, maybe repeated stories mess with their sense of when things have occurred? Not sure. At any rate, it explains a couple people. The others are just being rude and I shall smack them with a clue by four that most of the world considers shared memories an important part of family ties.

    2. Edna*

      Yeah, I wonder if there’s something here that we’re missing or if Jen is really, really bad at social cues. Because nothing her dad did, by her recounting, is at all abnormal or more than vaguely grating.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        I was wondering the same thing.

        There are some relatively innocuous things that put my hackles up because of childhood experiences. Things that aren’t a real problem on their own, and tons of healthy families do them, but they push my buttons because they’re emotionally tied to other (actually traumatic) things that happened as a kid.

        It took a lot of introspection for me to realize that, for example, people being late doesn’t upset me because my dad was often late picking me up from school. It actually upsets me because my dad would scream at me for not being at the curb ready to hop in the instant he arrived… even though his arrival time could be anywhere from 10 min. early to 3 hours late.

        Whatever is going on with Jenn, I hope she can figure it out and find healthier ways to approach her work life.

        1. HoHumDrum*

          This is a perfect example of what I said upthread but without an example- “little” things people have an outsized reaction to are usually just the tip of the iceberg for that person.

          I’m so sorry your dad did that to you, and I’m so glad to hear you’ve done work on unpacking that for yourself.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        My guess is that her dad probably had little time for the family but would turn on the charm for any other schmoe he encountered and the stories symbolized that for her–he was disregarding his family’s feelings in favor of entertaining whoever was in his ambit.

      3. GingerCookie*

        Especially with the awareness that members of this group have read this column in the past… I think it’s vital that we recognize that we have a small… small portion of the story, what fits on a one page letter, and there are probably reasons beyond our access as to why Jane is responding that way to her father.
        It’s kinder, and most certainly more accurate to assume that we are missing information, then they.

      4. turquoisecow*

        She’s probably leaving out the really traumatic stuff because she doesn’t want to discuss it with coworkers (or OP doesn’t want to share it here).

    3. TootsNYC*

      yeah, that strikes me as some baggage from childhood.
      Feeling completely disregarded and unimportant to her father, perhaps?
      Feeling that he never really “saw” her, and was only interested in being interesting to others?

      And I think she lost a lot of respect for her dad, and she translates that over to everyone else.

      1. TootsNYC*

        also, in the original complaint, Jenn said it was “disrespectful” of Amy to repeat the same stories.

        So I think Jenn felt greatly dismissed and disrespected by her dad.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I had forgotten that part from the original letter. With that added it sounds like Jenn may well have felt ignored by her dad and is now projecting that onto Amy and the guiding group stories being repeated. And that’s still not okay – Amy doesn’t deserve the abuse for doing her job (and it sounds like doing it very well). This is not the right job for Jenn. I hope she finds a better job and gets some assistance in unpacking the issues from her past.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        I would posit that dad took over all the conversation space and likely expected Jenn to sit in the corner while the adults talked and be ready to leave when he was ready to leave and rarely let others control the conversation. “Great” skills in a sales context, terrible habits in a social/familial context.

    4. Happy meal with extra happy*

      My dad’s in sales, and I laughed out loud at that part because we love to rag on him for telling the same stories. However, yeah, they’re new stories to his customers, and they work! I just cannot imagine getting legitimately angry at him for this.

      1. Siege*

        Yeah, it’s weird to me that Jenn thinks she’s the intended audience got any of these stories: the intended audience is the people who haven’t heard it before! Jenn’s experience of having heard it before is not actually universal!

        1. EpLawyer*

          That’s what amazes me. She thinks Amy only thinks of herself. Yet never notices SHE is not the intended target of these stories. Jenn needs to work on some self-awareness. She also needs a job where she has minimal interactions with others.

        2. Fishsticks*

          This rings a bell for me of ‘friend group starts business but one or two people struggle to treat it like one’. Jenn seems to not really grasp that they are operating a business, not a friend-hobby that makes money. Amy’s behavior is perfectly in-context when it comes to business, and that supper with customers wasn’t a social event, but a work one. Jenn couldn’t separate the two, and she made the right choice to step back.

          I think it seems like John and Jenn probably talked about the annoyance Jenn felt, it got worked up and worked up and worked up, and then when it came to a head John realized -it’s just not as big a deal as it seemed-, and backed off. But Jenn had too much riding on winning this argument with friends, and didn’t realize she was losing it instead. It was very much a “dig up” situation, and Jenn made the right choice to stop digging, get out of the hole, and take a deep breath.

      2. Lilo*

        My Dad’s a doctor and he basically had the same script any time a patient approached him outside if work.

    5. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Geez, my spouse and I have told the same stories to people we have met that we can each deliver the other’s stories perfectly. That’s how life works.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the tip of the iceberg of Jenn’s issues with her family, but that is irrelevant to OP’s situation. Once it was clear that Jenn had unrealistic expectations and was disrupting the business, it was clear she was no longer a fit for the company.

      1. Selina Luna*

        Some of my favorite memories are of telling stories together as a family.
        All I can think is that Jenn’s father must have told stories in a way that brought attention to him at times when the attention ought to have been paid to someone else.

        1. Office Chinchilla*

          Or if he told stories that were embarrassing to her, specifically. When my father guest-lectured a college class for a friend and came home and told me “they really liked the story about you trying to breastfeed from my grandmother!” I was surprised, but if he had told that story in front of me, multiple times throughout my childhood, I might have had a stronger reaction.

    6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – the fact that everybody else could see that the problem was with Jenn not understanding the sales part of Amy’s job gives me hope that without Jenn this business can still work.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I see no reason to believe the business can’t do just fine without Jenn. It needs an executive chef, but they are available. Amy, with her customer service skills, would be far harder to replace.

    7. BethRA*

      I think that’s normal for stories generally, not just sales – just because I’ve heard family member X tell story Y 5,167 times before doesn’t mean New Person has. As long as the story itself isn’t bothersome (hi, mom!), I can’t see taking offense at it.

      1. Zelda*

        I mean, heck, that’s one of the many joys of meeting new people, is having a fresh audience for your favorite stories! And as Loredena and Escapee have pointed out above, having heard each other’s stories over and over as they get told to each New Person in turn is a big part of how you build shared history and create family. On telling #5,168, I’m having fun watching New Person’s reaction to Family Member X’s story, just as much as Family Member X is!

    8. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, when you’re telling a true life anecdote you don’t change what happened to keep it fresh for people who’ve heard it before. If my father had done that I would have said: “Dad you’re telling it wrong” (and I think I did say that, because my father drew a long bow when he recounted a story, and added in whatever was most interesting over accuracy. Which irritated me because… Dads!)

      1. irianamistifi*

        Here’s a weird and upsetting and backwards twist on this:

        There are stories I’ve heard my mother tell a hundred times — things that are part of our family history and my way of understanding the family dynamics. Neither of my parents are close to their siblings and we live quite far away from the rest of the family.

        My mother got Chemo and has a family history of Alzheimer’s. Now those same stories that I’m so familiar with have changed. She doesn’t remember our own history anymore. She makes things up to fill in the gaps in her memory and swears that’s the truth and gets really upset if you try to correct her.

        It’s frustrating and scary to feel like a parent or relative is losing their own history and stories. But of course, to her, they’re as fresh as if they happened yesterday, as implausible as her alterations may be. I am really trying to react to these changes with kindness, understanding, and acceptance. Hearing the story differently or with major plot changes is upsetting and weird! I have to remind the people around me to take her stories with a grain of salt. I have to remind myself that the true story is the older version. And I have to give my mother grace and let her remember things in the way that give her the most comfort or enjoyment.

        1. Shan*

          Yes, my dad has told the same stories over and over my entire life, and now that he has Alzheimer’s, a) he’ll tell the same story three times in ten minutes, and b) they’re either no longer correct, or he gets waylaid halfway through and gets distressed. It’s upsetting, and sometimes annoying, but I always remind myself that in the not-so-distant future, I’ll be thinking how I’d give anything to be able to hear those stupid stories again.

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            I’m sorry both of you are going through this. When my kids were young, I was the Girl Scout leader, and we would take the girls to an Alzheimer’s home to sing Christmas carols. People that were sitting blankly when we walked in would sing along to Silent Night – sometimes perfectly, sometimes not so. I don’t think a single one of our girls were Christian churchgoers and they all hated Silent Night, but for that trip we pulled out all the songs you would have heard in church in the 1940s and 50s because that was what would trigger memories. The stories help, even if they aren’t the same.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          This is such a touching way of putting it in perspective. It’s a beautiful privilege to know someone’s stories word for word, and not a privilege you always get to share with them indefinitely.

    9. Selina Luna*

      The only comparison I can make is to Edward Bloom in “Big Fish.” He told the story of the fish swallowing the wedding ring story so much that his son grew to hate it.
      However, the family dynamics in that story are such that there was a LOT of other stuff going on, and I think that must be the case here as well…

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        This is a perfect comparison the story is cute in the movie but you can also feel the son thinking “OMG Dad can you literally resist the urge to make it all about you for one singly day – my WEDDING Day?????”

    10. Season of Joy (TM)*

      I had a boss that did this as part of his Work Personality – it’s fine, we all understood what he was doing. I also always took that opportunity to excuse myself to get another drink.

    11. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I have a friend I do a lot of hiking trips with and after we did a 2-week one this summer I have heard literally all of her stories so now when she starts to tell them when other people are around I finish the story for her. Not sure if she find this amusing or not, but it saves my sanity because many of them I’ve probably heard 10 times now. I should ask her if she likes me doing this or not….

      My point, though is that, yeah, this is the humans work. And you can’t change the script of Hamlet just because some audience member is getting bored with it.

      1. Tea Rose*

        “it saves my sanity”

        Telling the same stories over and over is just how humans work. Getting royally fed up with hearing the same stories over and over is also how humans work. Two things can be true. I’m sure there are stage hands who would stab Polonius themselves if they were allowed to and follow it up by taking out Hamlet bc Christ, make a decision already.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          My English teacher described the plot as “In the first half, Hamlet does too little, and in the second half Hamlet does too much.”

    12. Well...*

      I mean, she could have a dad like mine. He tells excruciatingly long, boring stories over and over again, cannot take social cues at all, and runs roughshod over/gets nasty to anyone who tries to cut him off. He doesn’t just tell them to new people, he tells them to the same people. They are also full of obvious lies and fanciful thinking, and typically insulting to all the characters that aren’t him. It’s super grating, and honestly it’s ruined many of his relationships.

      That doesn’t make it okay to freak out at work about it. But I can tell you firsthand that behavior is difficult to live with.

  6. ThatGirl*

    Jenn definitely took it all very (too) personally, and that’s a shame. Sounds like it has ultimately worked out for the best, though. This is a pretty extreme example, but still a solid one of why work should not be considered family.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      If I heard her complaining in this way, I would have a hard time keeping a straight face. I like to think I would keep a straight face, since laughing or eyerolling would be neither productive nor kind, but it’s just so…so…so over the top!

    2. ecnaseener*

      It’s rare that we get such a blatant “this workplace is like a family, meaning I get to take you for granted and yell at you!” Like yeah I guess that’s a family dynamic, but not usually the one people claim to be going for…

  7. to varying degrees*

    Good for Jenn for (eventually) realizing that this is her problem to fix, not anyone else’s. I hope she can come to a better place regarding the repetitive hearing of stories because, at least in my experience, it is something that happens a lot.

    Best of luck to the LW and their crew with the business!!

  8. TootsNYC*

    I love that there was a business life therapist, and the idea that a background in family therapy would be useful.
    I can imagine a business not being able to find a “business life therapist,” but the idea that they could take any group dynamic thing to a *family* therapist is a good one.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Apparently office comedies are popular and easy to write because the roles and dynamic are similar to a family.

    2. BatManDan*

      Friend of mine works in the space of helping business “get it together” in the run-up to succession or sale (usually starts about 2-3 years before the transition). He found so much of it (90% by his estimate) was “family counseling” that he actually got a Master’s in counseling, so he could add ANOTHER $300/hour to his bill rate.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I imagine it’s like the old advice column (?) “Can this marriage be saved?”, so “Can this business be saved?”

        1. Clisby*

          I did, too! At least half the time, I wondered why on earth they wanted to save this marriage, but that was their problem.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            Right? About two-thirds of the time the answer was, A) no, and nor should it be; and B) what possessed you two to get married in the first place? You don’t even like each other!

    4. Rain coast*

      Le sigh, my two friends/business owners/my bosses need that.

      But good for Jenn for figuring out what she needs to do to work through this. Difficult spot for John to be in. OP picked solid partners if they read AAM!

      1. All Het Up About It*

        I agree! I didn’t think it particularly interesting that John didn’t take a side. He most likely agreed logically with the OP and Amy and… well the rest of us, but Jenn is his wife, the woman he lives with and presumably loves and piling on that she’s wrong could have had negative consequences on their relationship. Staying silent actually seems like his best bet where he doesn’t support Jenn’s bad behavior, yet doesn’t hurt the woman he loves more.

        1. Fishsticks*

          He may also have gotten wound up in Jenn’s point of view, only to kind of realize the genuine context of everything again once they all stepped back and talked about it as a group. Negativity can feed negativity – when you complain over and over again about the same things in a workplace to a coworker or your spouse, that stuff can sink in and your impressions may start to align even if they didn’t before. Just human nature.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            He also probably had been nodding and uh-huh-ing Jenn’s tirade for months and was caught in his own trap.

            He couldn’t disagree with her publicly when he had been (sort of) agreeing with her at home, but … he could see that everyone else had a point. He wants to stay married, so keeping his head down was the best plan.

    5. Sarah*

      Our org works with someone who does business training, individual therapy, and also works with families who run businesses together. (I was actually wondering if that was who this group saw given that I haven’t heard of anyone else doing this).

      She’s great and has provided a lot of helpful advice for us.

  9. S*

    This is what happens when you take “dream job” too seriously. No job should meet your emotional needs in the way families do.

    1. Lizzy May*

      It probably didn’t help that one of her coworkers was actual family. When you already struggle with boundaries, that would probably reinforce the whole work family thing.

    2. marvin*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a big part of why Jenn had such an outsized reaction. It’s not really surprising to me that someone might struggle to separate their work and personal lives in a setup like this one. I think the specific detail of the repeated stories is really a bit of a red herring.

      1. allathian*

        Same. I feel rather sorry for Jenn and hope she can find another job that doesn’t push her buttons like this one did.

  10. raincoaster*

    I continue to think that’s a pretty rich attitude for a chef who’s no doubt made fried eggs just the same a hundred million times.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Ooooh excellent point. Don’t chefs fit in the category of “creatives” too?

      /I hate myself for having to use creative as a noun, btw…

      1. Heidi*

        Is Amy’s role even supposed to be a “real creative?” Even if it is, that doesn’t mean that every tour group needs to have a completely different experience. I’d want the curated experience with the really great reviews.

        1. Double A*

          Also like…doing the same thing over and over again until it’s perfect is ABSOLUTELY what creatives do, especially in performance-related roles. Like, maybe even more than most jobs.

        2. Fishsticks*

          I thought that was Jenn’s comeback to Amy citing her theater background as a reason for how she remembers things by repeating the same script.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        Adjectives being used as nouns is an entirely standard feature of English. Open a dictionary at random and see how many words are used both ways. Verbs, too. Verbing doesn’t weird the language: that *is* the language. Merriam Webster dates the noun use of “creative” to 1938, so it is hardly new. It seems to have come from advertising, but so what? It is a useful sense, as you show. Even if you think poorly of the advertising industry, that doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally give us something beneficial.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Eh, it’s also become au courant due to that terrible econ/sociology book “The Rise of he Creative Class” from 20 years ago. Whatever.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Sure, but again, so what? Its being used in a bad book does not make the word not useful. Similarly with “proactive.” Yes, this arose as business jargon, but it fills a useful semantic niche.

        2. Worldwalker*


          The idea that nouns and verbs are supposed to stay in their lanes probably came from Bishop Lowth, like so many other “rules” of blackboard grammar. This is because he considered Latin to be the perfect language, and tried to enforce rules on English to make it more like Latin (apparently because that would make it easier for students to learn Latin)

          In Latin, and consequently the Romance languages, nouns and verbs have totally different structures. They can’t be interchanged. But in English, you can walk, drive, talk, sleep, or jump, doing those in turn down the walk, off on a drive, while having a talk, without disturbing someone’s sleep, and over that big jump. Because that’s how English works, and how it has worked since its modern forms began, as H. Beam Piper said, as a result of Norman men-at-arms trying to get dates with Saxon barmaids. Nouns, verbs, and even adjectives, go running around all over the sentence.

          The example I use is a little sign I saw in a Boston subway car.

          In English, it said “Emergency passenger intercom in rear.” In Spanish, it said (translated) “System for communication of passengers in emergencies is located in the rear of the car.” In Spanish, “emergency” and “passenger” can’t suddenly go from being nouns to being adjectives, for example. (though adjectives can sometimes be used as nouns, at least informally) This is one of the things that drives computers trying to parse English into silicon despair. What part of speech is “drive” in “the drive time for your drive to work depends on how fast you drive”?

          Verb nouns all you like; that’s how English works. Calvin can just deal.

      3. zinzarin*

        One of the things I love about English is how you can verb nouns, noun adjectives, and all the other interesting ways we can twist and warp it! And it all still makes sense; it’s kind of a delight. :)

    2. Trawna*

      Indeed. Recipe formulas and consistency is the name of the game. So odd that she can’t extrapolate that to other roles.

    3. raincoaster*

      Oh wait, I just noticed OP calls her “executive chef.” An executive chef should be able to hire and fire, design the menu, create recipes etc without needing to interact with Amy at all. She needn’t even be on the premises. But a head chef on the line in a small establishment, that’s different. Maybe they could let Jenn keep the title and contribute but in a more executive way.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        She’s screamed at colleagues in public. Whatever is at the real root of what is happening with Jenn, I think this situation is poisoned enough that she probably should step out and stay an investor and silent partner. They can find another chef.

    4. Cait*

      Amy: “Oh my God, Jenn! Can you please STOP making those fried eggs! I’ve had them dozens of times and I’m sick of you making them every single day! Any real CREATIVE chef would be able to mix it up a bit.”
      Tourist (sheepishly raises hand): “I haven’t had her fried eggs yet.”
      Amy: “Oh shut up! No one cares about you!”

      1. As Per Elaine*

        I’ll note that I am kind of impressed by the guest who had the guts to step into the middle of that interaction and managed to do it in a way that Jenn seemed to hear.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          Me too! I mean, somebody needed to, but it’s pretty cool that the guest was confident enough to be the one to do it.

        2. Observer*

          Yes, I am impressed. But I’m not sure that Jenn actually heard. She did not apologize. She stormed off and continued to insist that Amy was not doing her job right.

        3. Neuroqueer*

          Right? I’m so impressed someone spoke up in that awkwardness and say the thing everyone was doubtless thinking and that Jenn so badly needed to hear!

    5. Capybarely*

      I can imagine (and it’s a nightmare!) a chef cooking something New and Different every meal.
      Sorry, can’t serve hash browns at breakfast, everyone’s already experienced grated potatoes!
      Oh, you wanted your sandwich on *bread*? No can do, that’s soooo overdone!

    6. Roland*

      You can’t logic away what sounds rooted in childhood trauma. Jenn has realized there’s an issue and is stepping back. Why can’t that be a good outcome?

      1. ecnaseener*

        Because before she made it to stepping back she insulted and belittled Amy. Good that it’s finally over, still bad that it went on for so long!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          She also didn’t step away before she blew up and used expletives in front of a group of customers, which had a short-term financial consequence for the business (the gifts and discounts for the guests) and potentially much longer-term consequence to reputation.

      2. Observer*

        The thing is that her childhood trauma (if it actually exists) is not relevant here. Her behavior was atrocious. And her refusal to recognize that she did anything wrong, and insistence that Amy is not doing her job correctly are really problematic.

        For the OP, though, it’s a not bad outcome. Because she’s stepping back before she’s done TOO much damage to the business. But I’m not sure that no damage has been done. Don’t bet on those guests not telling the story to their friends.

    7. LolaJosie*

      Yes! This was exactly what I was thinking. As a chef, she knows that there are processes that need to be done in a certain order, she knows that there are recipes that have the same ingredients every time you make it… how does she not see that Amy’s work is just like that?

      I hope that Jenn never meets my sweet mother-in-law, who has told me the same stories thousands of times. The best way to move through it is to just smile and nod.

  11. Ahhh makes sense now*

    This update is satisfying because Jenn made the connection to her trauma response (re her dad) herself, although it’s not clear that she sees it as something for her to own rather than something others are doing “wrong.” Wishing everyone well here.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Picking up a pattern that returns you emotionally to the worst of age 15, and figuring out how to professionally avoid that pattern, makes sense.

    2. Low talker*

      That’s what I’m having a hard time with. Does she understand her dad wasn’t wrong or disrespectful? Or does she still think her dad was wrong?

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        We don’t have enough information to know this either way, though. It’s very possible her dad was truly horrible, but in many other ways. That the one small piece of information we have does not illustrate any horribleness on his part doesn’t mean anything. However you slice it, the repetitive storytelling is the piece of this situation that has triggered her irrational-to-us reaction.

  12. Roscoe da Cat*

    OP, good on you for apologizing to Amy and taking charge of the situation. I also give you kudos for engaging someone to look at the business as a whole and your relationship with your business partners.

    I will give John a pass for not taking a side – I read that as him agreeing with you and Amy but not wanting to through his wife under the bus…

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – being extremely neutral is probably the only way John thought he could save both his job and his marriage.

    2. Oranges*

      Yeah, good jobs all around. (And thanks for the update!)

      Jenn seemed to assume that “am I enjoying this story” should have been given the same consideration as “are the guests enjoying this story”, and that’s just not how it works when you’re the employee and they’re the customers.

      Glad she’s taking some time to sort this out.

          1. Hen in a Windstorm*

            Correct. That is OP apologizing for the things in the previous letter, where she incorrectly asked Amy to change for Jenn.

    3. Observer*

      I will give John a pass for not taking a side – I read that as him agreeing with you and Amy but not wanting to through his wife under the bus…

      Pretty much this.

      And, yes, OP. You handled this pretty well all things considered.

  13. Falling Diphthong*

    The family comparison is so interesting to me because my late father was terrible at endlessly repeating stories to the same audience. The thing was, to a new person, the stories were fine conversational fodder! The problem then was that he couldn’t pick up the social cues to tell two stories and stop.

    Narrating Disney’s Jungle Cruise seems like exactly what someone who’s good at guest relations does–over time you learn what lands and what doesn’t, and you hone that bits that people engage with.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      And I have to say I love the fact that the guest clapped back with “but I’ve never heard this before.” I bet that interaction was part of what let some of the other employees realize this was a Jenn problem (that maybe she needs personal help for) and not an everybody issue.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, it’s great that the guest stood up for Amy in a way that didn’t escalate the situation any further.

    2. Massive Dynamic*

      The fine folks who narrate the Jungle Cruise are really at the top of the game! And heck, last time we went, I think we rode it three times. Amy must be fantastic at what she does for OP’s business.

  14. Emily S.*

    Wow, I am impressed by how well the OP handled the situation, and particularly, used the coach to help with the interpersonal issues.

    Nice job turning around a really tough situation!

  15. Fluffy Fish*

    It’s interesting that Jenn thinks Amy was only thinking of herself when it would appear that was actually what Jenn was doing.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        It is but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

        More representative of Jenn having a very warped version of reality at least as pertains to work.

        1. Willow Pillow*

          They’re not mutually exclusive! I’ve seen the warped version of reality (as an extreme coping mechanism) lead to projection.

            1. Willow Pillow*

              I’m curious about how you define projection, then, if it’s not what you mentioned in your top-level comment?

              1. Well...*

                Idk, “being selfish” is such a critical human trait that accusing someone of being self-centered can’t really be projection. We’re all self-centered to some extent, and feeling slighted requires an ego.

                That’s like saying it’s projection to want to win an argument. “you just want to win an argument” when really I want to win! Like both sides want to win, it’s not a unique enough trait to be projection.

    1. Rain's Small Hands*

      In Jen’s mind its really rude to tell the same story over and over (even when most of the audience is new) and it isn’t rude to blow up in front of paying guests when you feel slighted. That’s some serious “only thinking of herself” and not for a second considering how the guests, who are near strangers, might feel.

      And I might have mentioned it on the previously thread, but Jen would hate my group of friends, who have been enjoying the retelling of the same stories for 35 years (always adding new ones, but really the ones from when we were young and far stupider are the best).

  16. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    Thank you for sending this update, LW. It does sound like a sad resolution, so I hope that this helps you and your friends preserve and grow your (personal) relationships with one another.

  17. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    This is a great update, thank you LW.
    But tantalising at the end. How did you find out about the others reading this column and how did that discussion go? Were they angry or amused at finding themselves getting picked apart by us commenters?

    1. BethRA*

      I’ve had multiple conversations in the office that feature some version of “did you see AAM yesterday? Do you think that was about Ferdinand in accouting? It had to be someone writing in about Ferdinand in accounting…” so I wouldn’t be surprised if it came up in conversation.

  18. Don*

    I wonder how long Jenn has been married? I can’t count how many times at a social function my wife has told a story I’ve heard umpteen times before. I’ve done the same. I wish* my life was so interesting that I had a never-ending stream of new tales to tell, though even if I did there’d be repeats. The stories that come up do so as part of a conversation. When it happens and my wife tells the tale I’ve heard a dozen times before I either excuse myself and mingle elsewhere or I tune it out. Because my wife isn’t telling ME the same story again, she’s telling these people who haven’t heard it and presumably are interested in hearing the things my wife has to say.

    I didn’t read the original posting and clearly this is a person who people love so I am uncomfortable smack talking her, but the thing this immediately brings to mind for me is an old television quote that was a big part of my social circle’s life for a long time when we’d use it on each other. “Not everything is about you, Mulder.”

    * I very much do not, actually. Sounds exhausting.

    1. ladyhouseoflove*

      What I wonder about is how Jenn handles friends?

      I tend to hear the same stories if I’m at different functions with different members of the same circle–for example, a friend recently had her baby and I’m the one that spends most of the time with her, so I will hear her repeat stories about her new parent experiences to other people.

      I just chill and sip my drink or tune out until we all get into something new. It’s normal.

      1. Awful*

        What I wonder about is how Jenn handles friends?

        I had (not the past tense) a friend whose wife was just like Jenn. If you retold a tale, or told a story that she wasn’t in, there would be capital-D Drama. (The one exception as stories featuring her. She had nooooo problems with THOSE being told 100X in a day.) Her Main Character Syndrome was some of the worst I’ve ever seen. And yes, it factored heavily in that friend group splitting up. As well as every other social circle she’s been a part of before and since. Last I checked, the only person I recognized in her then-current friend circle was her spouse.

        1. Awful*

          not the past tense = note the past tense

          as stories featuring her = was stories featuring her

          My fingers (and brain, it seems) are freezing today. :(

        2. Emily*

          “Main Character Syndrome”. I’ve never heard it described that way before, but it’s a perfect way to describe what appears to be going on with Jenn.

    2. jj*

      So childhood trauma will take things that are incredibly normal and absolutely destroy them. It makes things, at a nervous system level “about you” that never would have been. The work is learning to re-program what you can change and manage what you can’t, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

      Unambiguously: how Jenn treated Amy was wrong.

      But open speculation about Jenn’s marriage couched in “I don’t want to smack talk someone, but if I were too ….” Is a bridge too far. Maybe Jenn got agitated hearing a story every night, but has never minded weekly or monthly repitions. Maybe Jon loves his wife very much and is willing to make a “no repeat story” concession to avoid landmines of past trauma for her. Maybe it is incredibly agitating for her when he repeats stories, but her overall attachment to him is much more secure and she more easily weather the discomfort. Maybe, this never used to bother Amy, but something else happened in life to dredge up past traumas and this feeling is new to her. Or yeah, maybe their marriage isn’t long for this world. But we have no way to know that and Jenn isn’t the one who wrote in. There’s no need to crudely speculate about the marriage of someone who might be suffering from a traumatic past and is working to get better

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Can you stop with the “trauma” talk? You don’t know if Jenn has trauma. You’ve made a huge leap there and then you’re castigating others for not following you. Being really annoyed at something someone does that your dad used to do isn’t trauma.

        Also, this whole comment is *you* crudely speculating. Just stop. Don was merely wondering if they hadn’t been married long, because the longer you’re with someone the more opportunities you have for hearing the same stories. That’s not an implication their marriage is on the rocks.

        1. Willow Pillow*

          What makes it a huge leap to say that if someone snaps “Amy, when will you stop telling that (expletive) blueberry story? We’ve all heard it one thousand times before!”, in front of customers, that’s there’s something deeper fueling their frustration?

          1. Willow Pillow*

            I’m also going to add a comment I made upthread as I feel it’s relevant here too.

            EVERYONE has trauma – some traumatic experiences are more intense than others and some people are able to move past it better than others. I believe it was Alison herself who referred to COVID-19 as a collective trauma.

        2. jj*

          A quick “ctrl+f” shows 95 uses of the word trauma in this comment section. You could choose to believe every single person inferring that is over reaction, but you could try being curious about why so many people are picking up on an inference that you yourself didn’t notice.

  19. Loredena*

    Great update overall! The therapist was a good idea. I feel for Jenn and John but moving on is the best for her

  20. Libraryann*

    I read the comments on the original post and laughed so hard. Thanks for that, everyone. As a former retail/food service/front line customer service worker – yes to all of those feelings (and scripts).

  21. Avril Ludgateaux*

    I’m still struggling with connecting “I view this job as my family” and “it’s rude to colleagues and customers to repeat stories.” It may be annoying to have to listen to the same script every session but… does that make theater actors rude to their castmates? And I’m sure theater troupes tend to be tight-knit/see each other as something between colleagues and friends, at a minimum.

    Glad it worked out, at any rate, OP. Shame it was a bumpy ride!

    1. Avril Ludgateaux*

      Wait, is the implication that Jenn had a bad relationship with her father for other, undisclosed reasons – not BECAUSE of the stories, but rambling repeated stories were a habit of his – , and thus the repetition of stories was merely a trigger to remember her father (and those other, undisclosed reasons), which led to a disproportionate response?

      If so then okay, it clicks now. Delayed, but it clicks.

      1. Rain coast*

        Yeah that’s how I understood it. The stories are a symptom, not the disease. Sounds like Jenn has realized this and has the support of her friend- coworker-family people to figure out how she’s going to deal with this, which is pretty amazing.

      2. Willow Pillow*

        The stories may not explicitly trigger her to remember her father, they just have a common mechanism that triggered the same feelings.

    2. Zephy*

      A lot of the theatre people I know can and sometimes do have entire conversations consisting of lines and verses from shows, so yeah, this is 110% a Jenn problem.

  22. JonBob*

    I wouldn’t say it got better before it got worse; it just got quiet. Nothing actually got resolved.

    As for John not saying anything, that makes sense. There might be some nuance he is taking into account that y’all don’t know about, and, well, there’s the being married part as well. He might have actually brought it up before, but now that it’s from outside the marriage, it doesn’t need to be said again.

      1. Zephy*

        He might have actually brought it up before, but now that it’s from outside the marriage, it doesn’t need to be said again.

        John is Jenn’s husband. He has definitely heard Jenn’s tirade about how rude Amy is for *checks notes* doing her job, and probably at least once tried to point out what a wild take that is, and was probably shouted down about it because this is a Jenn problem. The Iranian yogurt is not the issue here. John already said his piece and doesn’t need to gang up on his wife now that she’s revealed her deep-seated emotional trauma at the hands of her salesman father to the rest of the workplace.

        1. Willow Pillow*

          +1 for the AITA reference!

          Some of the nuance, to me, is in letting Jenn work through this stuff at her own pace and being patient. If she’s not ready for the mental work associated with unpacking those childhood memories, then him telling her is likely to result in her burying them even more.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        It sounds like this is bringing up some childhood memories for Jenn or something. The odds are John has a better idea than any of us (or even than the LW) what these childhood memories are and therefore might well understand why she reacted the way she did and while he might not agree with it, he might also not want to criticise her for it, depending on what it is.

      3. Tea Rose*

        Well, we don’t know about, so no one here would be able to give an example. However, it’s not a far stretch to think that John has a lot more insight into what Jenn is thinking that OP or Amy or any of the other executive team.

  23. AD*

    I see a lot of people saying happy ending but….this update left a sour taste in my mouth. Per your original letter, Jenn is the spouse of someone who holds a 15% stake in your company, and your response to her snapping at your star chef (in front of paying customers!) was to contact a business and life coach? I guess it all worked out in the end, but I’m wondering why you didn’t have a more aggressive and proactive response to this situation. Was Jenn ever told outright “Please do not snap at Amy”? It kind of sounds like that’s a no.

    If I were the Amy in this situation, I’d probably be peeved and probably looking to move on, quite honestly.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Very small correction; the star chef was not snapped at; the chef was the one doing the snapping. Amy is in charge of guest services and when guests asked to meet the chef, the chef Jenn came in to join them (previously she’d been avoiding guests and Amy’s stories). I don’t disagree that it should have been called out as unacceptable. Possibly that happened because Jenn was suspended from guests and only kept in the kitchen because of no replacement.

      1. AD*

        Yes, thanks for that correction. Overall, it seems like the dynamics of this business are more like a pseudo-family, which is what I was responding to. I’m curious if OP would have called a coach instead of having a more discipline-minded response to this situation if Jenn was not the spouse of a partner. If the dynamics work for the business, that’s fine, I guess.

          1. AD*

            The original letter started out with a reference to “my two business partners (and their spouses”, but this also isn’t really the point I was trying to make.

            I’m curious what stellar employees like Amy would feel in a business with these particular dynamics.

            1. I Speak for the Trees*

              I found the stake ownership thing a little confusing, too, but I am guessing that this might take place in a community property state where what one spouse owns, the other owns. Therefore, even if John was the original 15% partner, Jenn as his wife would effectively have half of that. Or because they are a couple and both employees, it might just be considered that way.

        1. Tea Rose*

          Choosing coaching is the mark of a good manager. Hiring an outside coach is not unheard of when executives need coaching, although normally it would just be the individual who meets with the coach. If it had been a lower level employee, OP might have done the coaching herself.

          Coaching gets at the root of the problem and provides alternatives to the undesired behavior. Discipline does neither. Coaching makes the person receiving it part of crafting the solution. Discipline is imposed top down. All of that is why coaching is preferable to discipline. Coaching is more likely to lead to sustained changes in behavior bc the approach is to make the individual invested in the change. If a person is resistant to coaching, then discipline becomes your only option. It’s better practice to start with coaching, though.

          In this specific case, I don’t see disciplining a partner with a stake in the business going over well. I’d really like to be a fly on the wall if OP tries that approach, with a little fly-sized bag of popcorn.

          1. AD*

            I think you’re right, but this situation seems to be unique from one where a manager involves a coach to train or to support a direct report. That is not the dynamic between OP (a managing partner) and Jenn (the spouse of a partner with a stake in the business). I’ve worked with executive coaches and also have interviewed them, and this situation is so particular I’d be a little wary to involve one.

            Regardless, my concern is for Amy’s well-being and I’m just surprised to find so few commenters even engaging with that aspect of the letter. If I were a star employee publicly berated by a partner, I imagine I would not be pleased (regardless of how this one ended up).

            1. AD*

              And for what it’s worth, my understanding of coaches who work with senior or C-suite folks is that it’s more long-term goals planning and mentoring conversations, not triaging more urgent cases or behavioral incidents. Perhaps your experience is different, but as a manager in this case I think I’d be interested and willing in having a follow-up conversation with Jenn directly. Her spouse, who is a partner, being passive in response to this issue would also concern me.

              In OP’s shoes, I do think there can or should be a disciplinary approach to cases where employees are yelled at, yes.

              1. Tea Rose*

                Executive coaching, like coaching of non-executives, can be for anything that impedes performing their job. The CEO of a former employer of mine was a colossal jerk, and he was given (assigned?) a coach to work on his interpersonal skills.

                Anyhoo, what’s the goal here? The goal is to get Jenn to stop flipping out at Amy. If coaching gets her there, why initiate discipline? If coaching is not effective, then start discipline, and accept that disciplinary approaches have downsides over the long term.

                I think the other mistake you are making is thinking that coaching is a one time conversation. Follow up is built into the coaching process bc it is an ongoing dialogue. Jenn’s behavior was a long term issue. It came to a crisis incident bc it wasn’t effectively dealt with. It will continue as a long term issue if the approach is incident-based.

                John is a red herring. Having a piece of paper tying him to Jenn does not make him responsible for her behavior.

                1. AD*

                  I think there’s a conflation with coaching/therapy happening in the letter, which kind of makes the points you’re making not relevant to this situation.

                  And the friendship/spousal dynamics involved in this business add a complexity and a frustrating element to this case that you’re also not addressing. The average business or executive coach is generally not well-positioned (or eager) to intercede in workplace relationships that also have these dynamics. Anyhoo, good luck to the OP!

        2. All Het Up About It*

          But OP says “I immediately suspended Jenn from any guest interaction, but because we had no replacement, she remained in the kitchen until the end of the season.” That sounds like disciplinary measures to me, and it’s certainly less of a stretch to imagine that during the conversation OP made it very clear that Jenn’s behavior was wrong.

          OP then proceeded to call in an outside expert to try and help resolve the issues, because the person who snapped is ALSO married to a 15% owner. That’s a lot of relationships to maneuver. I think it was a very smart call, and supportive to the business as a whole and to Amy as a person.

          1. AD*

            I would hope that is the case, although it’s not in the letter. I think the whole “we’re all friends here” dynamic of this business makes this case a little weird. If I was the 70% majority-owning stakeholder in this business (which confers some agency and responsibility at the very least!) and this happened, I’d immediately have a frank and private conversation with Jenn and John before even thinking about bringing in a coach. I do think bringing a coach into this situation right off the bat sits oddly with me. This is not a manager-direct report coaching situation — it’s group therapy. That’s what I’m trying to grapple with, I think.

            The fact that there is a friendship dynamic to these relationships, in addition to spousal ones, definitely complicates things as you say. Personally, this kind of setup would be abhorrent to me — but if it works for OP!

          2. GammaGirl1908*

            Although frankly, suspending Jenn from guest interaction was probably a colossal relief to her and not really a punishment.

  24. Ellis Bell*

    I think this is quite the success story if five friends started a passion project, and only one of them found it too business minded, and not focused enough on their emotional needs. The majority of the group have survived the biggest pitfall for people trying to create their dream job – that dreams tend to be about our own satisfaction and not the clients’. Even if Jenn had known in advance that Amy had set scripts, it’s unlikely she could have known how personally irritating she would find it until she tried it, and experienced it. It’s a little weird that she doubled down on the concept of it being rude and unacceptable, but at least she accepted in the end that it just wasn’t a good fit for her and her personal happiness.

    1. Tabby Baltimore*

      Even if Jenn had known in advance that Amy had set scripts, it’s unlikely she could have known how personally irritating she would find it until she tried it, and experienced it.

      True words. Sometimes we don’t even *realize* we have expectations, until they’re not met.

  25. L.H. Puttgrass*

    “Unfortunately, one night while I was recovering from COVID, the guests were clamoring to meet the chef, and Jenn was coaxed to join them for dessert.”

    And now I’m thinking that letting Jenn interact with the public was part of the problem. The next time guests are clamoring to meet the chef, I wonder what would happen if the answer were, “Sorry, but we don’t let our chef meet the guests ever since the Blueberry Incident.” Then just let the guest speculate on what the “Blueberry Incident” was.

    Okay, so this idea has flaws.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Honestly the chef needs their own script for meeting the guests too! Something that gets said while standing up and not sitting down to be entertained like the guests usually.

  26. Sharks Are Cool*

    This reminded me of a recent interaction with friends. While my partner launched into one of their stand-by stories, I turned to a close friend and asked, “How many times have YOU heard this story?” My partner overheard, we all thought it was hilarious, and they continued telling the story to the other friends who hadn’t heard it yet.
    Similarly, one time my partner met one of my college buddies. The two of them got along famously and proceeded to tell each other all of their best stories—every single one of which I’d either already heard or was present for, on both sides!
    This is just a funny part of life and the privilege of close relationships, customer service aspect aside. Best wishes to Jenn as she works through her trauma in this area.

    1. As Per Elaine*

      I’ll also point out that I LOVE my family’s stories. Ditto for several of my friends who are good storytellers. Yeah, I’ve probably heard Faith’s story about her grandpa working in the lab with the linked fume hoods at least five times, and my mom’s story about three-year-old me accidentally smacking down the misogynist jerk at her office several dozen times, but both stories are *fun* and told well, and I would happily sit down and listen to either of them again right now. (I have in fact told several of my mother’s best stories myself, multiple times.) I enjoy the performance and the experience, even having heard it before.

      Though I will admit that the same story every night would probably get old, no matter how well-told.

      1. Grey Panther*

        I’m with you, As Per Elaine. Family stories are a treasure. My grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, third cousins twice removed, all told those stories over and over, at every gathering, and we loved it.
        Hearing them as a kid, and then an adult, gave me a deep connection with my relatives that’s lasted long after their deaths.
        (My favorite one is about one day Grandpa was working in his backyard woodshop when what was—to hear him tell it—the biggest rattlesnake that ever lived decided to coil up in the sunshine just outside the front door. Kept Grandpa trapped in there for more than an hour—he didn’t want to just kill the critter!)

        1. UKDancer*

          That’s hilarious. My great uncle’s best story was the time he was working in India and found a massive snake in the bathroom and had to get his housekeeper to remove it. With each telling the snake got bigger and more frightening and deadly.

          I know what you mean about the stories being a connection with the relatives. I remember my grandfather telling me stories about his parents (who I didn’t know) and it made me feel happy to hear about their lives. When I look at their pictures I hear his soft voice telling me the stories and remember his beautiful blue eyes.

    2. Geekette*

      My Dad and his brothers are infamous for this. They especially like to repeat family stories at family gatherings. Even though the brothers involved in the original incident are present. Their spouses have heard the story a million times. Their adult children have heard it at least a hundred thousand times, and their adult children’s spouses have heard it at least a thousand times. It’s their way of bonding, mixed with a bit of reliving their glory days.
      At least the grandchildren are starting to get old enough, so they have a fresh audience for a little while.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Also and not for nothing, those repeated stories are how we get the in-jokes and shortcuts and such that create family and friendship intimacy.

  27. squirreltooth*

    Ha! When I worked at Disneyland, Jungle Cruise was notoriously unpopular among the ride hosts because of the long script. (It was typically foisted on new hires.) Good for Amy for making the experience work for her! IDK how I would’ve gotten through my stint working with the public without a heaping handful of canned responses and mini-scripts.

    1. Hudson*

      This is shocking to me, I always assumed there would be stiff competition for who got to be the Jungle Cruise skipper because the job looked like the most fun one of any job at Disney!

    2. Middle Name Danger*

      Interesting, when I worked at Disney World there were waitlists to be a host for Jungle Cruise and Great Movie Ride.

  28. Temperance*

    What is UP with Jenn here? How shockingly rude and unprofessional of her to cuss out a colleague in front of guests. And her childhood story is also just friggen weird.

    1. Risha*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought her story was really weird. I thought she had some serious childhood trauma (of course it would not excuse her behavior), but she’s triggered over the memory of her dad telling the same stories? I mean, there may be more to the story (ha) than what we’re getting here. But she should work on it and not subject her coworkers to mistreatment. I hope the manager will crack down on that type of behavior. Why should Amy have to sit in therapy at work (!!) for issues that she didn’t even start. She’s just trying to do her job and provide a great customer experience. If Amy were my friend and told me this story, I would tell her to find another job where she isn’t subjected to that type of treatment.

      1. Casper Lives*

        I agree with you. But then I remembered Amy has a stake in the business, along with Jenn. Amy must be more invested in making this job venture work out than if she didn’t own part of the business. I’d sit for work therapy before letting my dream die.

        Than again, I’m too risk averse to start a business. It’s all theoretical to me!

        1. All Het Up About It*

          Yeah – I didn’t see it as Therapy per say, as much as mediation, which is completely standard, and probably should be more so, between business partners. The background of family counseling is likely beneficial in general, but particularly helpful when literally 4 of the 5 people involved are family.

          It wasn’t as if Amy was a random employee forced into therapy with all the owners at her job. That would be weird and beyond the pale. This just seemed smart and a way to reach a solution without any additional outbursts and hopefully without any (or much) lingering resentment. Like I can’t follow much of Jenn’s thought processes, but when she was told “I think you are too emotionally invested,” Jenn recognized, agreed and decided that the best course of action was to remove herself from the situation. I can understand and respect that at least! I hope Jenn finds a new place to share her apparently awesome culinary talents and if necessary her own therapist to unpack some possible baggage.

  29. bratschegirl*

    I think Jenn could make a case for Amy being disrespectful if, and only if, Amy was repeatedly telling the same stories TO JENN and demanding that Jenn listen to them over and over unchanged after Jenn had made clear that she didn’t want to hear them any more. But the whole “I feel invisible because you’re telling a story to multiple new groups of guests”… is just bananacrackers.

    1. bratschegirl*

      And Amy is “thinking only of herself?” I guess Jenn would also say that the harp player in my orchestra is “thinking only of themselves” when they play that same long cadenza at the beginning of the Waltz of the Flowers Every. Single. Time. The nerve! /s

      1. Irish Teacher*

        And Amy is not “thinking of herself.” She’s thinking of the guests (and of the business). I’d guess she likely gets bored of telling the same stories sometimes too and might prefer to go “off-script” sometimes, but it works. The guests love it and that’s her job.

        (Not disagreeing with you at all, by the way. Just adding additional reasons why that’s a bizarre complaint.)

        1. bratschegirl*

          Yes, agree 100%! She’s doing exactly what makes it a great experience for the guests, and by all accounts doing it extremely well.

          1. CA Cupid*

            Amy is so thoughtful that, if I remember the original letter correctly, she even remembers which groups of people have already heard which stories so if they come back they get new ones, which is a step above the usual “tour guide who gives every guest the same speech that’s older than they are”! It’s part of what makes her so much harder to replace.

      2. I Speak for the Trees*

        That’s funny! It also makes me think about the fact that my partner is a bassoonist who used to play professionally before, ironically, switching to sales. We were together all through his college and grad school and I heard the same bits (“Rite of Spring,” Mozart Bassoon Concerto, “Marriage of Figaro, etc.) over and over before auditions. And every time he gave a recital I could literally sing every single note he played. But that’s just part of being a musician, isn’t it? It wasn’t selfish of him to play “Scheherazade” over and over, but it would have been rude of me to complain about it

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Or if the stories themselves involved jokes at Jenn’s expense, that might be funny once but could get irritating if done over and over again. Somebody else suggested this in the original and I could see Jenn thinking Amy was being disrespectful if the stories included things like “that time Jenn forgot to turn on the oven and our guests had to wait an extra two hours for their dinner. Ha, ha, Jenn is such a scatterbrain.” But that’s clearly not the issue here.

  30. idwtpaun*

    Like at least a couple of other commenters above, I still don’t understand why Jenn can’t understand that entertaining guests with the same repertoir of stories is the job. Where’s the disconnect. It’s almost like Jenn doesn’t think guests should matter? But… that’s what the business is all about. Even if she thinks of the venture as her family, they’re still serving guests as a family. It’s as if Jenn was a theatre stage manager who screamed at the cast of the play for doing the same play every night instead of a different one each time.

    Well, whatever it is with Jenn, I’m glad you feel the business is finding a way past it, OP, even if it’s not in the way you would’ve hoped for. This may amuse you, but from your original post (and this one) your business makes me think of romance books that are set at places like ski resorts, where every inn and bakery is straight out of a fairy tale. It sounds magical and cozy.

  31. Zorak*

    This is still SO weird. Like, Jenny’s analogy of your dad telling a new person a family story that the family has already heard- that’s 100% normal! All of this is normal!

    It’s like she’s become so solipsistic in her role that she can’t get a grip on the fact that those stories are for the benefit of the paying guests, who are outside her own head, and therefore have not heard the story before.

    If she worked at Target would she snap the fifth time a coworker told someone where the restrooms were?

    Either way, I hope she works through it and I’m glad things seem to have worked out. But this is really bizarre.

    1. AD*

      I agree. And, with these issues, I’m wondering if Jenn has had or would have the tendency to snap at others besides Amy. Likely best for her to not be in a client-facing role for the near future.

    1. K*

      “Jen if you make your chicken pot pie ONE MORE TIME I swear I’m gonna lose it. What do you mean other people haven’t had it before?! You make it EVERY NIGHT!”

  32. CRM*

    Poor Jen. She is definitely out of line and needs to work on how to separate those feelings from her past. But I can relate to where she is coming from. When I was young, my cousins used to play guitar and sing during the holidays, and their performances got endless praise from the entire family. I never learned how to play or sing and I rarely received any kind of recognition from my parents, so their performances made me extremely jealous and upset. I would cry in my room for hours when we got home. One year I asked my parents if we could leave before they played and my mom yelled at me for being disrespectful and selfish, which made me feel ashamed about my emotions and worsened the situation.

    I’ve done a lot of processing about my family relationships in therapy, but to this day I still feel deeply irritated (irrationally, of course) whenever someone whips out a guitar in an intimate setting. I know better than to express my irritation in the moment, but I can see how being subjected to it on a daily basis might grind me down. Sadly, I don’t think that I could ever live with or date a musician!

    I’m not trying to defend her behavior at all, and I think leaving is the best move for Jen. What Amy is doing makes total sense, and it sounds like this might not be the best working environment for Jen. I hope she gets the help that she needs and is able to move on. Hopefully the business doesn’t suffer for it. Best of luck, OP!

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Oof, I feel this. My younger brother also plays the guitar and would whip it out all the time. Even though I also play an instrument, I wasn’t generally the type to start playing uninvited (and still am not because I don’t want to impose). I definitely resented him getting to be the centre of attention. And, oh s***, I think I just figured out that some weird interpersonal stuff I had with a group I was playing in is tied to this dynamic from my childhood…

      Still, like you, I also don’t lose my shit if someone whips out an instrument. We can feel how we want, but can be expected to control our behaviour.

    2. Observer*

      Hopefully the business doesn’t suffer for it.

      That ship has sailed. The only question is how much damage she has already done.

  33. Kacey*

    The different caricatures of humanity this world has to offer never ceases to amaze me. Jen seems totally out of her gourd and yet also completely plausible.

  34. Not Mindy*

    I would love to see a column that is devoted to people who read AAM and recognized themselves in a letter.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There’s one letter I know of (“my boss is being a jerk about my gym time” from May 7, 2018), where someone the LW mentioned in the letter (with the fake name “Remus”) recognized himself and commented with the username “ThisIsRemus.” I’m sure it’s happened a few other times but I can’t recall any other specific letters off the top of my head.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Wasn’t exactly somebody recognising themselves so much as recognising the letter, but there was the coworker of the cheap ass rolls person who thought the story sounded like an incident at their workplace.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Thank you Irish Teacher and UKDancer (below)! I found the relevant links:

          Gym time boss: https://www.askamanager.org/2018/05/my-boss-is-being-a-jerk-about-my-gym-time.html

          Cheap ass rolls coworker: https://www.askamanager.org/2021/12/a-coworker-of-the-cheap-ass-rolls-legend-speaks-out.html

          Coworkers speaking another language: https://www.askamanager.org/2019/07/my-coworkers-trash-people-in-another-language-my-boss-wants-to-play-cards-against-humanity-and-more.html


          And I remembered that the “best employee” who quit because her boss wouldn’t let her go to her graduation saw that letter and submitted her side of the story to AAM: https://www.askamanager.org/2022/02/update-my-best-employee-quit-on-the-spot-because-i-wouldnt-let-her-go-to-her-college-graduation.html

    2. UKDancer*

      There was a letter from someone whose colleagues were rude about people in the office in another language without realising the OP understood their language well enough. In the follow up the OP said someone else used a meeting to point out through a seeminly random story that people sometimes understood things you might not expect.

      The OP thought the other party had recognised the situation and told the story deliberately.

  35. Risha*

    I haven’t yet read the comments, and I’m sure my opinion will be quite unpopular. But Jen really needs to work on herself and keep her issues out of the workplace. And I’m saying this as someone who has extreme childhood trauma (every kind of abuse an adult can do to a child, I went thru it as a child). Many people had childhood trauma. Imagine if all of us snapped at everyone at work who triggered us.

    You don’t just get to snap at and curse at coworkers (especially in front of customers) just because you had a bad childhood experience. My heart goes out to Jen of course, but she needs to not act that way at work. The workplace is not her family, coworkers aren’t her siblings or whatever, and she has to learn to separate the two. If something is triggering for her, she needs to speak to the manager about ways to work around those triggers. Jen is certainly allowed to feel the way she feels, she just doesn’t have the right to treat others poorly.

    I truly hope Jen can find some healing and peace. I hope she continues to work on herself and can learn to channel her feelings in a different way. If she chooses to move on from your company, another boss may not be as patient or understanding about that type of behavior. She may snap/curse at the wrong coworker one day.

    1. idwtpaun*

      Your assumption about the comments is wrong and I’m curious why you made the assertion. Do you find that you’re often alone in saying “losing your temper at work isn’t ok”? I guess, based on the letters AAM gets, there are sadly many toxic workplaces where that is accepted, but I don’t think the comments ever had a consensus that abuse behaviour towards coworkers is ok.

      1. Risha*

        No, I made that assumption because so many will take one small piece of what you say and blow it up with whatabouts, whatifs, etc. Or people will reply and attack for something you never even said but they interpreted it that way. So nowadays, I try to give that disclaimer before I comment.

  36. Calamity Janine*

    this is an update where i admit i was bracing for things to go way worse, and am relieved that a pretty good outcome was found!

    …i will also admit that i am beyond amused how the collective knowledge of the commentariat perfectly clocked the Jungle Cruise Skipper vibes

  37. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Seems like the core problem is that Jenn sees the company as a family, rather than as a business. If she can’t shift her mindset, I really doubt that she will be able to be happy there. The fact that you’ve figured this out says that you’ve taken good steps to have the hard conversations.

    Is it possible that isolation is part of the problem? I’m assuming that the business is out in the countryside and that it’s hard to socialize with anyone outside the business due to the distance and hours. If that’s the case, I can see how if this is Jenn’s only real opportunity for social interaction, it’s hitting her particularly hard that she’s not getting what she wants. Obviously, none of that makes her behaviour OK or means that you ought to sacrifice clients’ experiences to make her happy. But perhaps her role could shift in ways that allow her to have more of a life outside of the business and she could get her social needs met elsewhere.

    1. Observer*

      Seems like the core problem is that Jenn sees the company as a family, rather than as a business.

      I disagree. This IS a problem. But it is *A* problem, not the only problem. And to some extent not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that she simply is unable or unwilling to calibrate her behavior to be appropriately respectful of others.

      I have a friend who had genuine issues with one parent. I remember her telling me a story about how she “got back” at the parent by being seriously rude to a family friend. She didn’t say “I was rude”, she described how she “I did this thing that parent hated”, and was quite surprised when I didn’t applaud her. I pointed out that what she had done was rude to someone who was not to blame for Parent’s failings. And that I understand how an adolescent might do that, it’s not a story to look back with any level of positivity, much less pride as a supposedly grown up adult – especially when in the context of claiming how much better you are than Parent!

      This is the same kind of issue. I have no idea whether Jenn’s issues with her father’s stories are a reflection of narcissism / main character syndrome / major other personality issue or a reflection of genuine trauma. But it doesn’t matter – it’s STILL not ok to take it out on people around you, and it’s not ok to insist that others are objectively misbehaving because you have this reaction. And none of that even touches the other problem(s) of her insisting that Amy is not doing her job correctly!

  38. HufferWare*

    So glad to hear the toxic element removed itself from the situation! Sounds like Jenn has a lot to work through, best of luck to her.

  39. Skyblue*

    I found this update very frustrating. The fact that, even after her outburst, Jenn can think that Amy is the rude one who only thinks of herself is so aggravating. And it seems like Jenn still doesn’t get it.

    1. CA Cupid*

      It’s the fact that she can’t acknowledge how weird she’s being that gets me. Her getting irrationally upset and feeling disrespected? Fine, you can’t help how you feel. Her not getting that her reaction is, in fact, irrational? That’s what’s strange. People who react badly to something innocuous can usually understand how their behavior isn’t normal after you point out how weird they’re being from a perspective outside their own heads.

      IIRC from the original letter Amy did try to do what Jenn wanted, change the stories, but it didn’t work out. She really did try to accommodate her. I don’t know how Jenn could still think she’s rude even after she tried to accommodate her irrationality.

  40. Observer*

    Jenn sounds like a piece of work. I have no idea of what her childhood was like, but in no universe was her father’s behavior – as described and without particular context that would change things – something that is rude. Frankly, the idea that retelling stories to people who have already heard this is rude, is somewhat weird to start with. But the idea that you can never tell stories to people who have NOT HEARD them if people who have heard them are around is just bizarre. When you add in that her father was in sales, it’s ever weirder.

    So, Jenn has issues of her own, which go beyond treating the business like family. I hope that she gets some therapy that helps her work through whatever it is that is really eating at her.

    1. Minerva*


      I also hope she goes to therapy and gets to the root of the problem, because having your father tell the same stories over and over can be a pet peeve, it can be intensely annoying, but it is hardly “traumatic” on its face.

      She needs help in framing why she sees something that is normal fairly innocuous as a personal attack.

      1. yala*

        Is it ungenerous of me to say it just seems like self-centeredness?

        Because the only way it reads to me is that she doesn’t care about what other people are experiencing. If they weren’t around when she heard the story, well TOO BAD. It gives this weird vibe of, I dunno. Thinking of other people as only existing when they’re around you?

        I dunno, I’m phrasing it badly, but it’s just mind boggling to me.

        I do hope she goes to therapy, especially since she did actually agree to do the group counseling (excellent call, OP!), and had the self-awareness to realize it was a bad fit.

        But. I mean. Whuf.

        1. Observer*

          It’s very easy for me to see it that way, too. In which case, it’s going to be hard for any therapy to help her. The only thing that might help in that case is that she realizes that she needs to change or she’s going to burn some more important relationships to the ground.

        2. Minerva*

          It also very possible that she is just self-centered as all get out and there is nothing “underlying” but since it came up in a quasi-therapy/mediation setting and the outburst was in front of guests, willing to the give tiniest grain of salt.

  41. Purple Lover*

    Good for OP for calling in outside remediation/counseling.

    Good for that counselor to call Jenn on being too emotionally invested.

    Good for Jenn to recognize she needs to step back from the business.

    I agree this was the best possible outcome. The business can thrive and Jenn can take time to heal or do something else. Amy can work without being on eggshells. Hopefully John will be able to stay involved if he chooses.

    OP, I hope your business continues to thrive!

    1. jane's nemesis*

      My guess is that John’s life is about to get a lot easier and more pleasant without Jenn being mad at Amy all the time and (I’m guessing) trying to get him to side with her.

  42. a clockwork lemon*

    I physically recoiled when I got to the part where Jenn cursed at Amy in front of guests at what seemed to be a capstone meal for the trip. I can’t imagine talking that way to literally anyone at any point, but certainly not at a dinner in front of customers at the hotel I own. That behavior is completely unhinged.

    It’s a good thing Jenn’s gone, because that’s the kind of thing that will kill a business like that in short order.

  43. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I can’t tell you how very pleased I am to hear that Amy was indeed a tour guide on the Jungle Cruise ride. That just made my day.

  44. tiny*

    Since everyone’s offering their theories, I have one too: Jenn has some sensory? processing? thing? where it’s just irrationally irritating to hear the same thing over and over, just like, zero to boiling blood. Like misophonia/people who have problems hearing chewing (me, lol). But she either doesn’t realize that or doesn’t think she’ll be believed or some combo so she tells the ‘disrespected’ story. To me, that explains the outburst and the childhood story that doesn’t actually offer an explanation.

    1. jane's nemesis*

      I was wondering similar to you, and also that she might just have come to really have BEC feelings about Amy – the outburst and cursing around the guests was so irrational that to me, it seems to have to have been some kind of rage trigger for her.

      1. Tea Rose*

        If I were to speculate, I would speculate that Jenn is at BEC with her father and transferred that to Amy.

    2. Observer*

      No, it doesn’t explain anything. Because if you have a problem like that you recognize it and take yourself out of the situation. You do NOT keep on doubling down on how everyone else is wrong and doing their jobs badly.

  45. yala*

    “What emerged was that Jenn considers this company her family to the point that she could not wrap her head around the repeating stories as being anything but rude. She compared it to her father (who was in sales) repeating tales that the family had heard many times before to people he’d just met.”

    Meanwhile, I can’t wrap my head around how it’s rude at all? Even if you “consider the company your family.” Like. I just can’t fathom how her father telling a story to new people is rude. It’s bizarre that that’s what she compared it to as an example of why it was upsetting to her.

    “She…explained that hearing the same things said the same way over and over made her feel ‘disrespected and invisible’ because it felt as if Amy were only thinking of herself and not her coworkers.”

    I mean, she’s welcome to feel any way she pleases, but I can’t help but feel that this attitude shows that JEN is the one “only thinking of herself” if she gets huffy about people hearing a story they haven’t heard before that she already heard. To frame it as Amy only thinking of *herself* when it’s clearly Amy thinking about the GUESTS and their experience…

    I’m glad she stepped down and y’all got it sorted, but man, Jenn sounds like a real pill.

  46. Emily*

    Jenn needs therapy stat and needs to stop projecting her childhood issues on her co-workers. Also, Jenn accusing Amy of being selfish is such a case of “pot meet kettle” because Jenn is being the selfish one.

  47. TrixieBelle*

    This sort of reminds me of some occasional tension at my workplace. We had a key marketing guy who was very successful and well-liked in the community, and often you’d see him with clients and potential clients looking like he was having the best time in the world, and the clients certainly thought of him as the face of our organization and the most important person to know… and some people just felt like he “liked being the center of attention” and found reasons to be annoyed by him.

    Which on one hand seems totally crazy because being ‘that guy’ is what his job was… but he did like it and enjoy the attention, and (I’ve found) some people have very strong, even punitive, feelings about behavior they think of as “attention-seeking,” even when that reaction is quite irrational in context.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      Gosh as someone who doesn’t like being the center of attention, this job description sounds terrible to me. Isn’t it better that someone who enjoys it found a job doing it? People get angry about the strangest things…

      1. TrixieBelle*

        Oversimplification but I think a lot of times it comes from childhood experiences with parents and siblings, feeling like someone else demands attention and gets it while you get ignored, or somebody is liked by outsiders for the image they project but you know that it’s a put-on. Jenn’s thing certainly seems to stem from her family dynamics.

      2. Temperance*

        I’m guessing that it’s because they see it as them doing all the work while he gets to be the face of the organization and THE person to know. They’re making widgets and courting donors while he’s golfing and going out to lunch.

  48. Zap R.*

    I think people are jumping to A LOT of conclusions about Jenn’s mental health. We do not know if she experienced childhood trauma and do not have nearly enough information to speculate. (And even if we did, the bottom line is that she behaved inappropriately at work and put OP in a shitty situation.)

    1. inko*

      I completely agree with this. Jenn might have childhood trauma! Lots of us do! But we cannot possibly know that about her – we only know that she linked her angry response back to something that happened in her childhood, and that is not the same. We are not her therapist and we’re never going to know more than we do now, so speculation is going nowhere.

      She’s behaved atrociously to Amy, and that’s the problem.

  49. SpaceySteph*

    I am so glad we got an update to this one and that its mostly positive. Carry on with that blueberry story, Amy!

  50. Middle Name Danger*

    I remember commenting about storylining at Disney on the original post and I’m so happy to hear that Amy was a skipper! Makes sense and I was already sure she was good at her job from how OP described her, but that’s such a perfect background for this kind of thing. My Disney background really prepped me for the kind of repeat jokes and stories I tell to VIP guests at concerts. It’s my every day and I’ve done the same show in multiple cities but for this guest it might be once in a lifetime.

  51. Noodles*

    Ha, I’m autistic and so’s my brother (I think he is anyway), and I think he and I both feel the same about our parents repeating the same stories constantly… omg can we please not do this yet again?! Sometimes one will say “do you remember…” and the other will reply “yes! And…”, and they’ll both continue each saying a line of the story for like 10 mins. We just roll our eyes and leave them to it!

    1. Giant Kitty*

      I’m autistic and grew up in an autistic family, and I always loved hearing the family stories over & over.

  52. Sue Wilson*

    Man, I get Jenn. My mother, not a salesperson, but frankly would make a very good one, tells the same stories over and over and over again to whoever she hasn’t told yet. And me…as if I haven’t heard her tell the story to others before. What it feels like is that I am part of the Family Set Piece in Listening Role I did not consent to, while my mother is the Entertainer. Could I have a conversation with these people? No. This style wouldn’t allow me. What it indicated to me, which I only realized completely later, is that I was with my mother WAY TOO MUCH, because we have extremely incompatible personalities. And when I was a kid, what were my choices? I couldn’t just leave, without being rude myself or “wandering off.” In other words, I understand why this was very distressing to Jenn, because her part of being the “Cook in Front of Clients” made it harder to just leave, and frankly she was being asked to come out.

    All this understanding to say, Jenn is being a real asshole imo. Yes, listening to these scripts make it weirder for me to have “real” conversations and make my own connections with people when my mother is around. But she’s really not doing it to me. She just likes connecting with people. And this is a job! The job is to sell the experience! Quality control requires repetition! There’s zero reason for Jenn to refuse to understand context here.

    I do think there is something you could have done better. When Jenn is asked to come out, you could indicate a little Q & A and let Jenn go back into the kitchen. But she should never have taken it out on Amy.

    1. Observer*

      Keep in mind that the OP was out sick. And it also sounds like Amy was trying to make Jenn feel important.

      But, to their credit, OP did immediately make sure that Jenn would not have any further client contact.

  53. evadmail*

    I think the thing that was very frustrating about this story is the fundamental lack of respect shown towards Amy and her expertise. She has a background in theater and education and is in charge of entertaining & educating guests during their time at the inn. She has a very specific skill set that she brings with expertise and experience that she draws on. Yet people who have no background in this aspect of the business nor real interest in developing expertise in it feel like they know more than her and can demand that she does things differently. As someone who works in education in a non-traditional space (think informal science learning), this is something that I come across all the time. People don’t treat education experience with respect and this is exactly how I’m reading this. Amy, if you are reading this (and it sounds like you might), know that it sounds like you are amazing at your job! Keep it up!

  54. inko*

    Oh man. It sounds like this is the best possible outcome at the moment, but only because a better outcome would require Jenn to demonstrate real self-awareness, and that’s…not happening.

    I get that families install buttons in us, and when we go out in the world, other people can end up pressing them by accident. But, gosh. I can’t really think of a job that doesn’t involve repeating the same processes regularly. Goodness knows how many times I’ve said the phrase ‘Good morning/afternoon, this is Inko at Employername speaking. How can I help?’. Or sent an email virtually identical to the one I sent the last twenty times a particular task was completed. I’m sure Jenn cooks the same dishes over and over. Everyone at this and every other workplace does the same crap day in day out. The only difference is that Amy’s work is audible to Jenn. That’s it.

    Jenn, it’s not about you, it’s not about you, it’s not about you. It’s about the business, and the customers, and – frankly – Amy, who is doing a great job and can’t possibly reinvent the wheel every freaking day. Who can work like that??

  55. Dawn*

    I am most thrilled to know that Amy would have seen my comments. If you’re reading this, hi, Amy! I hope we were all able to reassure you that you weren’t going crazy.

  56. Tiger Snake*

    I hope the OP takes to heart that there’s something else going on here, because I don’t want them to fall into the trap of thinking that because the issue was discussed and Jenn’s stepped away, the issue is resolved. Before you were business partners, Jenn was herfriend. Now they all have the tricky balancing act of doing what’s best for your business and trying to support Jenn. That’s going to be hard, but it needs to be actively managed and not just ignored in hopes it goes away.

    We don’t know whether this is a symptom of some sort of deep-rooted feeling of childhood neglect; or whether Jenn actually has some sort of range of narcassistic personality disorder that no one’s realised before; or something else entirely. It could be anything. But even with the story Jenn has used to explain why this is a childhood issue for her, it doesn’t make sense on a general level that it, as told, hurt her that much.

    What we know is that for a very long time, for a reason we don’t know, Jenn hasn’t been able to handle all the emotional labour that naturally comes as being the host to a party or event. What don’t know why that is – nor should we, we’re strangers on the internet.
    But there is something deeper that this session wasn’t intended to find in the first place, and I really hope the OP encourages Jenn to seek out personal therapy to try and dig into that. She is and was your friend, and I’m sure we all want Jenn to both learn healthy coping mechanisms and be able to process whatever is causing this so that it stops hurting her so much.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      A) A LOT of letters here at AAM get resolved by someone finding a new job. Yes, it would be better if the actual situation got fixed and we all went on better than before, but … sometimes departing the dysfunction is the next best thing, because if you can’t save the situation, you need to save yourself. Alison’s advice is often “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” and/or “Get out get out get out” for that reason. You can’t always fix people, and you have to know when to stop trying.

      b) I noted this in the comments of the original letter, but sometimes you need to run your friendships from a place of business, instead of running your business from a place of friendship. LW needed to come at this as a business owner first, and if that meant an evolution of some of these friendships, so be it. That’s part of the huge gamble you take when starting a business with friends.

  57. Aerin*

    Now I’m just wondering when Amy was there and if we ever worked together…

    I am NOT good at improv, and am the kind of writer who does a lot of refining and finessing. At Jungle (and my other attractions, which all had spieling to a lesser degree), I would try out variations on jokes and have a few different options for each scene, but once I reached a spiel that worked well for me that was IT. It was literal autopilot: I could have a crew that was absolutely rolling at my jokes while I was thinking about where I’d go for lunch and whether I should try to run that errand after work. I’m sure there were people who needed to keep themselves entertained by mixing it up, but most of us were more than happy to hit the play button and zone out.

    Funnily enough, working Jungle/westside also set a drought upon the field in which I sow my fucks, and lo it is now barren. (Seriously, the reason I still talk about it over a decade later is that it was so intensely formative.) So in Amy’s place, my response would have probably been a breezy “Sucks to be you, I guess, because that’s not how this works.”

  58. Summer*

    Maybe I’m just a bad person, but I don’t have too much sympathy for Jenn. Everyone gets annoyed with their coworkers from time to time. Blowing up at one in front of customers and causing a massive scene like that? Way out of bounds. It’s definitely for the best that she’s taking a step back from the business.

    1. Kate R*

      I’m feeling similarly. Cursing at your coworker in front of guests seems so egregious imo. I’m glad OP suspended her immediately and offered discounts, but I was thinking, “I don’t know how you move forward with Jenn on staff.” I assumed this was like some niche immersive experience type thing (because I’ve never heard of a place like this before; but I could be wrong), and it can’t be good for business if guests are returning back home telling their friends about how the chef cussed out their tour guide. I get that Jenn is processing some childhood stuff (though even that I didn’t really understand because my mom still repeats stories to me that I’ve heard 1000 times; I wish she was telling them to other people), but the fact that she can’t “wrap her head around” it being anything but rude also struck me as really concerning. It doesn’t matter if she understands it. Her effective boss (as majority shareholder) told her it was a normal part of Amy’s job, and she had to learn to deal with it. That was the moment it should have been dropped. I’m glad Jenn stepped back to do some personal work, but I’d struggle with extending trust to her again until I saw that change.

  59. MCMonkeyBean*

    Jenn is frankly the oddest person I have ever read about. I do not understand any single part of her issue. So, so weird.

    “She compared it to her father (who was in sales) repeating tales that the family had heard many times before to people he’d just met.” That would also be very normal! This is how stories work!

  60. Yirna*

    I have to say, this was the story update I was most hoping for this update season. I was really wondering what happened!

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