update: my coworker lives with my boss, company may ruin my credit, and more

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. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

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

1. My coworker is living in my boss’s house — and we all work there too

There’s at once not much and a lot to report!

I waited to say anything to Jane to gather a little bit more information—I decided to see if it was an emergency solution with a set end date, which it did turn out to be.

Fergus did not take that well, unfortunately. He spent a lot of time complaining to just about everyone but me about the situation, and did some major boundary crossing asking other employees for help and housing, which was kind of uncomfortable. I’m the only person he didn’t ask for help—maybe because he knew I’d say no?

He found another job about three months after I wrote to you. I wish him well, but his departure has made for a pretty positive culture shift, at least in our day to day.

I learned a lot about Jane through this situation—namely, that she is a wonderful person who cares deeply about her employees, and that she’s not comfortable with situations that require directness or confrontation. I’m grateful to have a boss who cares so much about us, but I also have run into a few other situations where I wished my boss was more of a “boss” and less my friend. I realized that I’m more comfortable in work situations in bigger organizations, with more firmly-set boundaries and procedures. I’m actively applying to other jobs now.

Weird situation, mixed outcome. I’m very grateful for your advice (and the commenters’!).

2. The new hires at work are driving me up a wall

I was the one who emailed in asking about the new hires to my company who didn’t really understand office norms. Thanks for answering my letter!! And thanks to the commenters for being (mostly) very nice and helpful (shoutout to the person on Twitter who called me a narc, though). I provided an update in the comments pretty much immediately after it was posted, but I’ll reiterate and add on to that.

What I failed to mention in my initial letter was that I seemed to have become the de facto “big sister” figure of the group, and as a real-life big sister I felt it was my responsibility to guide these new hires into the working world as the oldest and most experienced worker (I was the only one who had even held full-time jobs prior to this one). While this did mean answering loads and loads of redundant questions, it also meant I was getting annoyed when they didn’t act as professionally as I knew they should. This is something I’m working on with my therapist!! Some things just aren’t my business and shouldn’t bother me, but boy is it hard to let go of that instinct.

One thing I initially had a hard time putting my finger on was that there were several people there who severely misunderstood boundaries. One person went on their work laptop at 9pm to find my personal cell number and proceeded to text me several times a day about their personal life without me giving any indication this was something I was interested in. Another person with anxiety regularly cried in empty meeting rooms and would pull whoever was physically closest to them into the rooms to have a shoulder to cry on. One person, who I have heard has since been let go, got into a verbal fight with a manager when said manager let them know that their work wasn’t quite up to par and needed revisions. There were times it felt like I was back in high school.

But in bigger and better news, you might notice this has all been in the past tense, as I got a killer job offer about an hour before your letter posted for about $10k more and twice the vacation time! I left my old job in July and my new position is going well. The imposter syndrome has been something pretty serious to deal with, as this job brings with it a whole host of new challenges (and despite all the issues with my last job, I was good at it), but I’ve gotten through my probationary period with flying colors. And so far none of my new coworkers have texted me unprompted at 11 pm complaining about their love lives. Knock on wood.

3. My company may ruin my credit report (#3 at the link)

I informed my manager about the situation as you advised. She wasn’t much help. She didn’t intervene, but rather encouraged me to be assertive with the finance department about it. That wasn’t an issue for me because I was determined to solve this problem. After following up with them several times, they advised me to just pay the $1,500 bill myself to make sure my credit score remained intact. Then once they resolved the “payment issue” with the credit card company, I could be reimbursed.

I was perplexed. How is the issue that they’re having with the credit card company suddenly my responsibility to resolve? I prepared myself for the chance that I might have to pay it, knowing that I would avoid using the company credit card again (while also ruminating over what legal action I might have to take if they didn’t reimburse me. Can you blame me? They didn’t seem very reliable…)

Fortunately, they resolved the issue and paid the bill before it was reported as late to the credit bureau and before I had to fork out any cash. I was told that I needed to make sure to submit my expenses within 2 weeks so that they can make timely payments on the bill. I don’t believe that had anything to do with the payment issue considering I submitted the expenses within 16 or 17 days. After that, I was very cautious about using the credit card. Everything worked out with my mortgage, I moved into my house and I’m at a new company where I file expenses and I’m reimbursed in a timely matter. All is well! I’m so appreciative of your advice and the feedback from all your readers. Everyone, please make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to when you receive a company credit card. All companies are not the same.

4. Can I bring my dog on a business trip?

I ended up boarding my dog because I realized there wasn’t really a safe place to walk him in the area where the hotel/office are located and my evenings started filling up closer to the week I was going to be there. Also, when I got into the hotel room, it was TINY and the chair was like a suede material that they never would have gotten Labrador fur off of in a million years. So leaving him at home worked out for the best. But I really disliked the hotel so if I ever go back I think I will ask for different accommodations and still try to bring him.

{ 18 comments… read them below }

  1. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I’m heartened that all the LWs here who complained about lousy working conditions were able to find new and seemingly better jobs. Sometimes just removing yourself from the problem is the best solution, if you can swing it.

  2. Casper Lives*

    Yay updates!! Thanks to all LWs for follow ups.

    LW1 – It’s awesome that you learned what you want in a work environment and are working to get it. It sounds like Fergus had boundary issues. But I wish him a general good luck in a desperate situation.

    LW3 – wow to that finance department. Just wow. Even if you have $1,500 laying around, why spend it on your employer? I’m smh at your boss and your company’s finance department. So untrustworthy

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – for number one if definitely sounds like Fergus was as much of the problem in that case as the boss.

      And I don’t know that I would say Fergus had boundary issues as much as he was a “boundaries exist for me to bust” sort of person.

  3. Cait*

    #3 I’m glad everything worked out in the end. It sounds like someone in Accounting dropped the ball and were dragging their feet when it came to fixing it. Even in the worst case scenario, (theoretically) if you made your last charge on October 31, and your card payment was due November 15, and you didn’t submit your expenses until November 16, that still shouldn’t make the payment over 30 days late! I’ll bet Accounting asks everyone to submit their expenses within two weeks so they can pay everyone’s cards off at the same time (right before they’re due) but didn’t ever figure out what to do if someone is late (even by a day or two). Hint: the answer is NOT “wait until the next billing cycle to pay it”. They should be paying off everyone’s credit card like clockwork, whether or not expense reports have been submitted, and then hounding delayed submitters, not risking the credit health of employees. But never using the company card again might not be the best idea (what if there are more trips/big expenses looming?). I’d suggest just having a conversation with Accounting about how credit card spending is monitored and paid so you can get ahead of any other potential bumps in the road.

    1. Kella*

      I see the opposite. I see this comment section increasingly filled with folks who are not willing to give the OP the benefit of the doubt, even though that’s Alison’s commenting rule. This comment section is supposed to be focused on offering help, not call-outs.

      I see zero toxic behavior in OP’s original letter. It sounds like OP had never received any kind of training or guidance about what they were and weren’t responsible for in helping out the new hires, so it makes perfect sense that they didn’t know which things to worry about and which things to let go. OP also clearly states in this letter that they are working on the “letting go” part with a therapist.

  4. Gresham*

    “What I failed to mention in my initial letter was that I seemed to have become the de facto “big sister” figure of the group, and as a real-life big sister I felt it was my responsibility to guide these new hires into the working world as the oldest and most experienced worker”

    People who find themselves in a mentor position at work: Avoid the temptation to use family terms to describe yourself. You are not these people’s big sister, mom (ugh to that one especially), uncle, or anything else. Even if you are, separate that identity from your work identity, which is mentor. You are their mentor. Their work mentor. Not their family, not their therapist, not their life coach. Keeping that straight can help you set better boundaries yourself and avoid getting enmeshed in non-work ways.

    1. OP 2*

      This is HUGE and very much something I wish I had enforced on myself at the time that I worked there. To be fair, the “big sister” term was never used at the time, but rather received in a text I got after I had left that was along the lines of “it feels like our big sister has graduated and gone to college”. It stuck with me so I chose to use that wording in my update- though I will say one of my most egregious coworkers did often say “we’re a family” which I made sure to never confirm.

  5. ferrina*

    LW2- thanks for the update! The line between Mentor/Trainer and Not Your Boss can be so tricky to navigate. And it sounds like there was a weird mix of normal-new-grad-faux-pas and serious issues, which also muddied the situation. That sounds trick/potentially impossible to navigate. All in all, just didn’t sound like a situation/culture that fit with you, and congrats on your new job!

    1. Delta Delta*

      I was just talking to someone today and said, “you know how I’ve never encountered a problem I won’t try to fix” and we laughed. But that happens sometimes and if you’re a chronic fixer/big sister/mentor, it’s hard to get out of that mindset. Glad OP found a new position that is a better fit!

  6. Santa's sleight of hand*

    “I was told that I needed to make sure to submit my expenses within 2 weeks so that they can make timely payments on the bill. I don’t believe that had anything to do with the payment issue considering I submitted the expenses within 16 or 17 days.”

    …That probably had *everything* to do with the payment issue. Two weeks is either 10 business days or 14 calendar days, max. So you were at least 2-3 days late (if by chance your finance department works weekends and/or wanted to cut you some slack) and 6-7 days late–aka a whole business week and change late!
    It sucks that your credit score was at risk but do not mess around with due dates for expense reimbursement requests.

    Two week=10 business days.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Honestly that line read to me like the accounts Dept was trying to look for a human-shaped speed bump to distract from their mistake; and that they thought they could turn OP into that speed bump.

      Glad OP is now at a company that takes their responsibilities for paying for business expenses incurred by employees seriously.

    2. Gresham*

      No, it’s not likely that the problem was that OP was a few days over 2 weeks. Their original letter said that the the finance dept told them payment had been sent, and the snafu happened AFTER the payment was sent. Clearly, finance is able to send payments even if a person takes 16-17 days to request reimbursement.

  7. Thomas Merton*

    I run my company’s corporate card card program, and there is no way we would put our employees’ credit ratings at risk no matter how late they are in submitting expense reports. The responsibility to pay the credit card is the employer’s. Any problems with expense reports should be handled internally, with appropriate penalties. This seems an instance of a poorly run program, both on the employer’s side and the credit card company’s – their contract is with the employer, not the employee, so there should be no way the latter has any liability.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      Do corporate cards in the US have the same protections as personal cards in terms of the date of the statements and the deadline to pay? I know for my personal card, I have at least 3 weeks from the date of the statement to the payment deadline, so payment for the last charges on my statement is not due until 3 weeks or more after the charge. So the business should still have time to send payment if they get receipts 17 days after the charge/receipt. And that’s a closest scenario. Payment for charges at the beginning of the statement period aren’t due until more than 7 weeks after the transaction.

      1. Katrinka*

        Yes, they pretty much do. I remember when companies started making the switch from corporate cards with just the company/de[artment name and required employees to have them in their own names. However, this should not impact the employee’s credit score, as the accounts SHOULD be set up with the company name and address and the name of the employee, not using the employee’s personal address. Statements should be sent to the company and not the employee.

        Source: I worked for a large credit card company in the late 80s, and we were one of the first to use employee names and not departments, due to an employee embezzling by using their department’s card to buy things and, although the department head was responsible for oversight, they were the employee who actually approved the charges. Issuing the cards with individual names eliminates the situation where several people had access to and used the card regularly. And, obviously, more layers of review/approval were added, since someone should have noticed that the items being bought (specifically lingerie and other clothing) were not for the company’s use.

        It was actually a heartbreaking situation, the employee was fresh out of college and, because credit card fraud is a felony, ruined their career and the chance at any future jobs in banking or any other money-handling position (you cannot be bonded if you have a felony conviction).

  8. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW2, I’m glad everything worked out. I do find the namecalling of people who are concerned about boundary crossing at work “narcs” or “snitches” quite concerning (fortunately it doesn’t happen here very much).

  9. Seeking Second Childhood*

    A late comment–many (most)dog friendly hotels do not allow you to leave your dog unattended. Even if crate trained. Check that detail first to avoid penalties.

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