my boss collected money for flowers for me … and then kept it for herself

A reader writes:

Unfortunately, seven weeks ago my dear grandmother passed away at 91. A coworker of mine told me our supervisor collected money from our team for flowers as condolences for her death. No flowers were delivered from my supervisor and team to the funeral home.

Two weeks after the funeral, I found out a florist in town didn’t deliver all their orders for my grandmother’s funeral. I sent my supervisor a text explaining the flower mix-up we had experienced. In the text, I told her I was worried about not sending my gratitude to her and the team, as I never got the flowers. Also, I wanted to make sure she and the team were not out the money because of the inept florist. I included my appreciation for her and the team thinking of me. My supervisor replied she didn’t order any flowers for the funeral, telling me not to worry and thankfully they were not lost. Instead, she was planning to send something else to my new husband and I as a condolence. Then she added a flippant, “Sorry I haven’t gotten there yet.”

Now it has been seven weeks since my grandmother’s passing and four weeks since I sent the text about the flowers to my supervisor. My supervisor didn’t follow through with sending my team’s condolences for the death of my grandmother. My husband and I have not received anything from my supervisor or the team, but my boss still has their money, which is technically theft.

Also, I’m feeling hurt by her lack of regard to my emotions about losing a very close loved one. My grandmother passed away 15 days after my wedding, which she couldn’t attend due to the injury which led to her death. She was going to be the flower girl in our non-traditional ceremony. All of which I shared with my boss. It was a roller coaster of emotions in a short time frame!

I’m uncertain of my course of action here. Should I go to HR? What should I say? My boss didn’t take my money, but she did take my coworkers money and didn’t send their condolences. Do I tell HR I’m being treated unfairly, as my boss didn’t send me condolences like she has to others? She’s made sure to send prompt bereavement gestures (within two weeks) for my coworkers with the family losses they’ve experienced in the past. It’s not like it’s required or expected for her or my coworkers to send condolences, though it is a considerate thing to do.

I feel going to HR will make our already challenging relationship even worse and she will be supported by them. HR will see it as a personal matter and she was just forgetful. She may get a small slap on the wrist, but I will pay big as the employee that tattled on her (our team is only seven people so she’ll definitely know it was me).

Do I ask her again about sending the flowers/gift? It already felt awkward when I contacted her before about the flowers, especially after her dismissive response. Also, I’m not certain how to approach it because it’s a gesture of caring and other people’s money that I’m asking her about. It just feels icky!

Many people are telling me to just let it go, but others are saying she committed theft and to report her to HR. What do you think is the best way to handle the situation?

I’m so sorry about your grandmother, and that you’re dealing with this in the middle of grieving.

Your manager is 100% in the wrong here. She collected other people’s money and let them believe it was going toward flowers for you, but instead she has apparently just … pocketed their money. Presumably that wasn’t her intent from the beginning — and who knows what life events might have intervened for her in the interim; it’s possible she’s so genuinely frazzled for legitimate reasons that it slipped her mind — but when you collect other people’s money, you have a responsibility to make sure you use it as they intended and not personally profit from it. Being frazzled can excuse lateness (sometimes) but it can’t excuse not doing it at all. If the responsibility did just slip her mind, your text should have nudged her to immediately remedy that, even if that meant giving the money to someone else on the team and asking them to handle it.

However, I wouldn’t take it to HR. You’re right that they’ll almost certainly just assume she was just forgetful and just tell her to fix it … while apparently causing problems for you. (I’m basing that last part on your own assessment; it sounds like you have reason to believe you’d see repercussions.)

What I would do, though, is let your teammates know that the money they contributed for a condolence gift wasn’t used that way. Since they’re the ones whose money was taken under false pretenses, they have the most standing to take it up with your boss. The most diplomatic way for you to alert them would be to say to a couple of people privately, “I was waiting to thank you for the condolences until Jane sent the flowers you all contributed to, but she never did send me anything and I don’t think is going to. I know you all did a collection, though, so thank you for thinking of me.” But you can also be blunter if you want to — “I feel awkward about this, but I feel like I should tell you that Jane still has the money you contributed for flowers to me. Since it’s your money and she never sent anything, I thought I should let you know.”

Read an update to this letter. 

{ 291 comments… read them below }

  1. Lumos*

    Yikes on bikes. I’m so sorry for the loss of your Grandmother OP and that you have to deal with this in addition to that.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      This is just cringe-ingly awkward, and not on you, OP.
      I just can’t imagine a manager doing this!

    2. Sally*

      I’m sorry, too! I really like Alison’s advice and scripts, but when I was reading it, I was thinking that I wouldn’t want to put anything in writing in case someone forwards the message to the manager. As someone suggested below, maybe OP should tell the person who told them about the collection in the first place, and that person can decide what they and their colleagues want to do, if anything.

      1. June*

        This. Not only would I not put anything in writing, I would not go to each person. Pick one – maybe the one who let you know about the collection in the first place (that person already suspects something) – and let them go to the teammates informally. Let them take it from there.

        You are in the right, LW, but what you want here is plausible deniability that you are trying to blackball your boss. Being right in this instance won’t prevent you from future problems with your boss once she feels put on the defensive (as she already was once, demonstrated by her remark “Sorry I haven’t gotten there yet.”)

        I’m so sorry about your grandmother; the flower girl idea was so sweet and I’m also sorry you didn’t get to create that memory with her.

  2. Jzilbeck*

    So I see we’re starting early on “Worst Boss of the Year” candidates?

    So sorry OP. I am dreading the day when my grandmother will eventually pass and would be livid if my boss did this.

    1. KHB*

      The boss is handling this very badly, but I don’t think this is “worst boss of the year” material unless there’s more evidence than OP presented here that the boss pocketed the money on purpose (as opposed to planning to order flowers, getting caught up and missing the deadline, then planning to order “something else” but not knowing what, and then feeling progressively more stupid and embarrassed that she’s sitting here with people’s money and hasn’t done anything with it yet).

      1. KHB*

        …and if OP wants to be gracious and offer the boss a way out of this, she could say “I accept the team’s thoughtfulness in the spirit in which it was offered, and I don’t need you to get me anything with the money they donated. Instead, why don’t you use it to buy the whole team a nice lunch (or snack box, or whatever)?”

        1. Boof*

          I’d agree, Op doesn’t know how much money there is but if there’s something they’d want that’s easy (ie, a donation in their loved one’s name to a specific charity, or if it can just be sent straight to the funeral parlor to help with bills, whatever) worth giving the boss one more nudge/suggestion

        2. NerdyKris*

          I think the best way to handle it is to have the coworkers say something. They’re the ones who gave the money. “Hey, LW said she didn’t receive the flowers, what’s going on with that?”

        3. MsM*

          I think being directly called out by OP is a pretty clear “okay, time to quit sitting on this” signal. The fact she not only hasn’t but hasn’t given OP any kind of update on why there’s still a delay doesn’t make me inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, let alone offer her a way out that still requires her to take action.

      2. Clobberin’ Time*

        Boss pocketed money meant for memorial flowers. When asked by the grieving employee she was flippant.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          The boss is obviously in the wrong, but given the stiff competition we’ve seen, she’s nowhere near “Worst Boss of the Year” level. To manage that, she’d have to do something truly horrifying like show up drunk at the funeral to ask OP work questions, or write up OP for being ungrateful for flowers she didn’t receive.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yes, given that it sounds like it is historically normal for the boss to collect money and then actually use it correctly for such occasions–it seems very likely this is a very bad case of neglect rather than stemming from any malicious intentions. It’s certainly not okay, but it’s not Worst Boss material.

            And I don’t think there is really anything for OP to do about it, other than as Alison said if they want to let their teammates know that nothing was ever done with the collected money.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              (Especially since if it had actually been her *intention* to steal the money, then she would have been the luckiest thief ever to have been given a great excuse with the florist who failed to deliver flowers and would certainly have claimed that was why OP never got anything)

        2. Observer*

          Sure, she’s a jerk. But let’s get real. We’ve seen LOTS worse. I’m not even going to get into the bosses who have written in and presented their bonkers actions. But just from this past year, give a look at the list. Even setting aside the high profile stuff (Musk and the State yanking telework), the list it pretty terrible. Like the boss who only wants to hire pretty young women. Or the one who wants a loyalty oath.

          Give a look at the original list of 8. It’s pretty hair raising.

      3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I agree, we need more context before I’d call the boss a “The Wooooorst” candidate. OP only
        asked her about it once. We don’t know what the boss has going on in her life. It could be a super innocent thing that slipped her mind. It happens, even to people who are usually on top of that stuff.

        At my old job one of my colleagues had a very sudden major surgery and my boss said we could Venmo and she’d send flowers. I sent it and literally never thought about it again, and for totally unrelated reasons I took a job elsewhere a month later. A few months after I left I got a Venmo for the amount I sent from old boss. I was the only one who sent money and then she totally forgot about it until she went to use Venmo again. And she was a terrific boss, but there was a lot of things going on in her personal life and the company.

        Regardless of the boss’s intentions, I feel that OP should maybe look at finding a job elsewhere. She says they already have a strained relationship, and even if this does get sorted, I feel it’s always going to be in the back of her mind.

        1. MBK*

          When I saw “The Wooooorst” I immediately wanted Alison to try to ink a deal with Ben Schwartz to host the 2023 Worst Boss Competition in character as Jean-Ralphio.

          1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

            I’m glad I didn’t have to clarify at all it was to be read by Jean-Ralphio.

      4. Caroline*

        If the boss is feeling stupid and embarrassed then that’s good, because that is exactly – as in, precisely- how she should feel, having taken money, not done what was meant to be done with it (that bit is forgiveable, if pretty shoddy), and then, having been reminded of it, done zero… with other people’s money.

        Money she collected. Money she asked people for. That’s theft.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      This sucks but it’s nowhere near Worst Boss. She probably forgot/maybe stole some money and failed to send a gift–she’s not sabotaging the OP’s career or cornering her with malicious diet advice.

      The OP seems pretty distraught here, and it’s a sad situation, but I feel like this is being at least a bit colored or heightened by her own emotions. The boss is a jerk, of course, but the OP hasn’t actually lost out on anything but some flowers.

      1. Bahd Bahss*

        OP, I am so sorry for your loss, and all of the emotions going on around your situation. It sounds really tough to go through all of that, and to also have a boss that you don’t get along with.

        There does seem to be a lot of emotions and assumptions, especially the communication around the text. “Sorry I haven’t gotten there yet” doesn’t have to be read as flippant. It could be taken at face value.

        I am saying this because the emotions around the injury, wedding, death seem to be stressing you out (understandably) and putting more distressed emotions than necessary toward the actions of your boss.

        This is definitely not an HR issue. This is a boss issue. Find a new boss at a new job.

      2. KN*

        I agree with this — from what’s laid out here, the boss seems thoughtless and flaky, but probably not actively malicious. And her thoughtlessness/flakiness sucks, but it doesn’t have serious ramifications on OP’s life.

        I totally understand why the OP is upset, especially at a time when so much is going on, but it seems like she recognizes that from an external (i.e., HR) perspective, this is not going to be viewed as a big deal.

        I’d encourage OP to hold onto that perspective–feel your feelings and don’t try to make yourself not feel upset about it (and do give your coworkers a heads up!) but keep in the back of your mind that this may not always feel as upsetting as it does now, and don’t give in to the temptation to escalate it in a way you might regret later.

      3. What*

        Since when is stealing from an employee better than *diet advice?* One of those things can be personally upsetting but is socially normal to the older generation. The other is literally stealing.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Socially normal =/= appropriate coming from your boss. And most people don’t actually want to hear it from anyone else, either; they just didn’t have the social clout to object until fairly recently. My mother hated being told how big she was way back in the early 1960s. That it was more “acceptable” didn’t make it less damaging.

          I would appreciate it if you didn’t go into the weeds based on what you must know was just an example, too.

          Also, so far there is no actual confirmation that the boss stole anything, and even if she did it wasn’t from the OP since it wasn’t the OP’s to begin with.

          1. Shenandoah*

            Boss stole from other employees, in that it’s theft until the money is spent for the purpose for which boss collected it.

            I cannot believe the indifference on this fact. Truly stunning.

            1. metadata minion*

              I don’t think people are indifferent; I’m just hesitant to get out the internet pitchforks until it’s clear that the boss deliberately stole the money rather than being careless and — as far as we can tell — insufficiently concerned about immediately correcting the issue. The latter is still bad, especially where money is concerned, but is a different sort of failing.

      4. Smithy*

        I agree with this – and while the team is 7 people….it may be that the total amount contributed ended up striking the boss as not enough to get an “appropriately sized” flower arrangement delivered.

        This isn’t about condoning the boss’ actions – but every time I look at getting my mother flowers plus delivery, the reality of what that means in terms of bouqet size + delivery fees…..the sentiment of “what else can I get with $55/$80/other sum” isn’t uncommon.

        Again, this in no way gives two thumbs up to the bosses actions – and for many giving flowers is the default act, because it’s such a common bereavement gesture. But this really just is not the height of bad boss stuff. It’s not great, but even if the coworkers who gave the money asked their boss or went to HR – it’s so easily explained away by “slipped my mind” that if there’s any potential for subtle retaliation this is just not the worst of acts.

      5. Stevie*

        What on earth? This is so bizarre. Stealing money from employees is drastically worse than giving diet advice! What a strange comment.

    3. Parenthesis Guy*

      +1. Some people are saying that this person isn’t “Worst Boss of the Year” material. I’d note that the OP mentioned she has a challenging relationship with her boss, and this story indicates that it’s all the bosses’ fault.

      1. to varying degrees*

        Oh no doubt, I fully agree, but our past luminaries have been a boss who showed up at a chemo appointment to talk about work, a boss who had a junior employee leave a note on a grave, and a boss who let other coworkers complain about someone’s mastectomy scars and then blamed her for it. This chick stealing a hundred or so bucks has a high bar to reach.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Exactly. She’s a bad boss, but the competition for “Worst Boss” requires some next-level, out-of-the-box genius at being horrible.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah, I mentioned the 2022 “competition”. I’m now looking at the list from 2020.

            Some of the gems from that one:

            Boss literally punches holes in the walls.
            Boss is mooching off someone who lives paycheck to paycheck. (What is REALLY horrifying is that we’ve actually had more than one letter on that theme.)
            The boss who TAPES PEOPLE’S MOUTHS SHUT.

            Yeah, even intentionally stealing the money (if that’s what it was) just doesn’t come close.

            1. SpaceySteph*

              This boss may well also be mooching off people who live paycheck to paycheck as they are technically stealing money they took from their employees.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                So far this is a one-time/occasional event, though, and we don’t actually know that she stole it.

              2. Observer*

                Yeah, but that one (and others we’ve seen) do it repeatedly. Boss literally opens the OP’s lunch box and takes food out of it. And if she can’t get to the lunchbox, and she hears from the OP that their lunch is not to her liking she *accuses the OP of lying!* Or complains that the OP brought something she doesn’t like just so she shouldn’t have to “share” with the boss.

                That’s a whole different level of baaaad.

              3. Curious*

                No, I don’t think they are technically stealing. I doubt that there was an agreement to send the flowers by a specific deadline. Now, if they refuse to return the money to the contributors, that might be a problem, but for now they are just TAH (as Reddit might put it) for their horrible delay in doing what they agreed to.

            2. Mr. Shark*

              The boss who Tapes Peoples Mouths Shut may be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen here. I can’t imagine people putting up with that.
              That’s humiliation and disrespect on a completely different level.

      2. Jojo*

        This boss is obviously a bad boss. But she’s probably only a 10th of an Elon Musk on the worst boss scale, in my opinion.

    4. Wilbur*

      Maybe if there’s a minor leagues bracket. They’re going to need to get their reps in before they can get promoted to the big leagues.

    5. Willow Pillow*

      My grandmother passed away overseas as I was on a gradual return to work after a short term disability leave – working 4 days a week and insurance paying for the 5th. My manager told me that I would need to ask my case worker whether I was allowed to take bereavement leave (which would be 3 paid days otherwise). A lifetime of various mistreatment has mean I’ve had to be good at compartmentalization, so I’m sure it looked like I wasn’t as upset on the outside. I did take half a day to scan and email photos to my cousin, but I wasn’t able to swallow anything more without knowing if it would be paid – at that time I didn’t even know whether I was being paid for the 6 weeks I’d recently been off work.

      My case worker got back to me after 3 weeks, and told me that she had nothing to do with this. My employer’s standard leave policies applied. When I relayed this back to my boss, her responses were “do you still want to take time off”? and “you’d better do it soon, it’s been almost a month!” I got nothing from my employer otherwise – no flowers, no card.

      This still wouldn’t compete against last year’s contenders for worst boss.

      (This was a symptom of much bigger issues and I was already job hunting at that point – I am working someplace much better now)

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    There’s plausible deniability here because the boss could have blamed the lack of flowers on the inept florist, but she didn’t?

    If boss was going to pocket the money all along, wouldn’t she have just blamed the florist and called it a day?

    Am I missing something?

    (Yes, boss still needs to rectify the situation though.)

    1. Heidi*

      If the boss blamed the florist, then the coworkers might want to ask for a refund, at which time it would come out that the boss had never ordered the flowers in the first place.

    2. Presea*

      I don’t think anyone is outright accusing the boss of malicious, carefully planned theft here, simply theft by negligence and (potentially quite accidental) false pretenses.

      1. Presea*

        Edit: The internet being what it is, I feel the need to add that I am in no way attempting to minimize what happened here. Theft is theft regardless of the motives, and in this case the boss is very very firmly morally wrong.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I think it’s more likely it just slipped her mind because the OP and her personal woes are not that important to her. So, yeah, thoughtless jerk move but more than likely not intentional theft. If you’re going to deliberately steal money, it’s pretty dumb to involve your entire work team.

        1. ferrina*

          Yeah, this is what I was wondering. A mixture of ineptitude and unempathetic led to this being so low on her priority list that it slipped off. Now she’s likely either forgotten it or is hoping no one noticed.

          I suspect if LW presses the issue and gives an easy out, the boss will quickly cave. “Hey boss, I just wanted to check in about the money that was collected after my grandmother’s passing. It sounds like it was around $X*. I haven’t recieved anything- was there something ordered that wasn’t delivered? No? Well, I’d hate to think that you’re worrying about this 7 weeks later. What if you give me the money, and I’ll put it to the proper cause. That way it’s just off your plate.”

          I’ve invoked “helpfulness” to push bosses to do the right thing quite a few times. The combo of a clear and easy plan of action + accountability tends to get results (not all the time, but it’s one of the more effective strategies I employ).
          *do some recon before this conversation and get an approximate amount from coworkers on what was collected. Having all the info ready will 1) make it easy for the boss to do the right thing with minimum thought and 2) hold her accountable

        2. Meep*

          I am mixed on this. On one hand… One of my coworkers lost her grandmother in March 2019 around her birthday. Our manager didn’t want to do anything (and told her to use PTO for bereavement! – which her own boss corrected), because it was a hassle for her. Perfectly happy claiming the $60 blanket I made for the coworker, though. So I could see it as “wanting the praise, not wanting to do the work”.

          This same manager also told me to expense report $30 worth of Tidpods I bought at Costco as a favor for her (I did not, I ate the cost so she stole from me rather than be complacent in fraud), so I could also see someone being dumb with their thieving.

        3. Smithy*

          This really strikes me as a case of “not that important” coupled with getting stumped around what to get after not going with flowers.

          Once you decide to not get someone flowers for bereavement, she may have just felt that waiting a “period of time” and then getting a gift card might be ok as the OP just got married. But then that might feel weird. And then as clearly this isn’t a warm manager/direct report relationship, maybe that felt like it’d be excessively cold. And then it becomes work to think of what to do and that work feels like an irritating burden, so being a jerk is easier.

          None of this excuses it – but if OP’s birthday or work anniversary or some other moment rolls around and the funds show up in a card as like a Visa gift card, I wouldn’t be surprised.

        4. GammaGirl1908*

          I am positive that this was not intentional. I’m sure this was decent intentions on the front end, but low-ish-priority to Boss so she just never got around to it, and now it feels like it’s too late to bother sending flowers for someone who passed away two months ago. Boss is just in a weird limbo because she collected money; if the flowers normally would have gone on an office credit card, this would be less of a Thing.

          Boss probably always should have delegated this task if she knows she’s not great with admin stuff like this. Many of us intend to do a nice thing, procrastinate a bit or get sidetracked, then feel weird about doing the thing when it’s now obvious that we procrastinated, and then — ESPECIALLY if the thing wasn’t 100% necessary, like sending flowers and cards — we decide that it’s too late to do the thing and hope everyone else forgets or doesn’t notice. I am certain that happened here. Boss then got self-conscious when LW called her out, and reacted poorly. This is far from Boss’ finest moment, but I seriously doubt this started with the goal of making a $92 profit off of colleagues, and I doubt Boss is even thinking about the money. Boss mostly needs to not be the office flower-sender.

          (I recall a letter here from someone who often wanted to send a nice note to colleagues, would overthink what to say and freeze up, would wait so long that they thought they needed to write “even better” notes to make up for the delay, and then usually ended up never sending any notes at all.)

          It also feels like LW is less concerned about the flowers themselves, and mostly is fixated on having her major life event acknowledged by her office as it should have been. It’s all then compounded by LW not liking Boss. This is how you get to BEC stage with your boss.

          1. Nobody Cares What I Think*

            I would argue that sending flowers and cards for bereavement is necessary and should be applied consistently. We’re human and death is one of the worst losses we experience. OP was hurt because others experiencing losses were acknowledged in a timely fashion. I don’t get those of you minimizing the thoughtlessness of the boss. If you aren’t a follow-through kind of person, don’t offer to do this type of task. Boss should be ashamed and should just give the collection to OP at this point. If I had contributed, I would be incensed.

            OP, so many of my family members are deceased, so I feel for you.

            1. Smithy*

              I have been on a number of teams that have gone through some rapid growth where their life event acknowledgement system of two years ago in no way works for the current staffing structure.

              The teams I’ve been on that deal with that systematically, often get initial snarkiness for changes and perceived coldness in the new system. However that’s also an inevitable reality of going from a far more personalized system that was possible for a team of 8 people that’s now 20 or 30. Also asking people personally to financially contribute for 20 birthdays in addition to weddings, babies, etc. as opposed to 8 is dramatically different.

              All of this is to say, I far more appreciate a system where I get an automatically generated ecard for my birthday, generic end of year gift with a personalized note from my boss, and standarized system to ensure bereavements, births and other major milestones are acknowledged similarly. But lots of places don’t do this in favor of more personal approaches, and then are forever going to have stuff like this letter or acknowledgements of new babies fall through the cracks due to someone’s supervisor also being on leave. And all of those moments are personally important, and when those moments are missed or acknowledged unevenly – it’s hurtful and can alienate staff. Due to managers being jerks or forgetful.

            2. Seaside Gal*

              My place of work just sent flowers to a contractor because their father passed away. It’s really the right thing to do to acknowledge someone’s loss.

          2. Acronyms are Life (AAL)*

            I don’t think it OP is fixated on the major life event not being acknowledged. She knows that her coworkers donated. I think it’s more that OP wants to thank her coworkers for the acknowledging, but cannot because what is she going to say?

            Boss needs to be a boss and either get the flowers or return the money. I’d be so annoyed if I donated money for something to give a coworker, the person collecting did nothing with it.

  4. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    So sorry for OPs loss and the unfortunate timing.

    I think we have a contender for the worst boss of 2023. Other than that, all I have to say is that I’d like an update on this one.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Nah, this isn’t even close to worst boss of the year. We’re still squarely at “thoughtless and disorganized” as opposed to actual malice.

    2. Observer*

      Not to minimize the OP’s pain. But, no. Not at all.

      Look at the previous thread for examples of what generally falls into that category.

      Run of the mill jerks need not apply.

    3. Qwerty*

      Can we stop naming every boss in January the potential winner of the worst boss contest? This happens almost daily and doesn’t add anything substantial to the discussion.

    1. Fives*

      I am as well. My grandmother passed away this morning and I’m about to go clean out her room at the nursing home.

      1. Lyudie*

        I’m so sorry for your loss <3 and I'm sorry you have to go do that difficult task so soon after *hugs*

      2. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

        Virtual hugs to all who are experiencing losses. I think the grandparents I lost in adulthood were even more painful than the ones I lost in childhood. When my Nanna died in 2012, there were extra layers to the grief because I was navigating it through my children as well as myself, and acknowledging the ramifications of everyone in that generation of my family being gone.

  5. soontoberetired*

    That’s happened at work to various people – someone collecting money for gifts or flowers and then no gift, no flowers. What I did when I was pretty sure the person who collected money didn’t do anything, was ask what was sent and the actual cost. That led to the money being given to the recepient. It is a good thing most people are honest about these things.

    Although if a family member dies, a good company sends something without asking for donations. We have a fund for that here, and I have had to remind managers of it, which is another story.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This is my method: “Hey, do you have tracking for [thing]? It seems not to have shown up and I need the tracking, and the receipt in case we need to ask for a refund/insurance claim.”

      If they forgot, it’s a good reminder, and if they’re crooks then they know you’re paying attention.

    2. bleh*

      At my unit in my university it comes out of my pocket. No collection, no money from University. Sometimes the price of leadership is actually a price.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        But there would still be tracking and a receipt from the place from which it was purchased.

        And you can stop doing that if you resent it. My workplace just does cards and nobody seems to feel shortchanged.

      2. nm*

        Oof. My department has the leeway to spend some of our event/food budget on things like this..especially since we’re not having as many office lunches and snacks since the start of covid

    3. Artemesia*

      We had no company money for this, so we had a ‘flower fund’; everyone made a contribution each year and the AA would then arrange for flowers to be sent when there were bereavements. It worked pretty well.

    4. GammaGirl1908*

      In fairness, a lot of workplaces like the government and the like can’t use office funds for things like this.

      1. Moira Rose*

        We always said “no food or fun on the governmen’s dime,” but I might have to amend that to “no food, fun, or funerary arrangements.”

      2. allathian*

        Only (or mainly) in the US. I’m glad I work for the government in Finland, where taxpayers in general recognize that government employees are just as human as private sector employees and entitled to similar “perks.” We have office parties a few times a year, and get presents paid for by the employer for our 50th and 60th birthdays (current maximum cost about 100 euros), and employees get a certain number of vouchers (about 60 euros per year) that we can use to pay for gym memberships, exercise classes, museum and movie tickets, etc.

        That said, our employees skew older, so most of the time we send flowers to the families of of current or fairly recently retired employees who have passed, and to employees who’ve lost their elderly parents, and once to my knowledge, to an employee whose adult child died. I’ve never heard of this being done for someone who lost their grandparent. In addition to the official condolences, the team of the grieving person may also do a collection for a care package, we did this for my coworker whose child died and for the one who lost their mom. We do this for “special” birthdays (25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50…) and for the birth of babies, as well. Our youngest interns are 20+, because all of them are in grad school. The vast majority of our jobs require a Master’s degree. If someone graduates while they’re working for us, we’ll celebrate that, too. Heck, we even celebrated virtually when I got a professional certification in 2020, and my manager sent me a box of chocolates.

        But then, I’m not particularly close to family apart from my husband and son, my parents and sister, and to a slightly lesser extent to my MIL and SIL.

        I was a preschooler or in school/college when all of my grandparents died, except my maternal grandmother. I took a day off work to attend her funeral, but I preferred being at work to have something else to think about than my mom’s grief. I wanted to support her, but at the same time I felt guilty because I wasn’t devastated by grief myself. It would’ve felt odd to say the least if my then-employer had sent flowers to my grandmother’s funeral.

        But yeah, it would be odd if the person who’s responsible for collecting money from others decided to keep it for themself… In practice this doesn’t happen, because the person who does it is either someone who’s particularly close to the person who’s being celebrated or whose grief is being acknowledged, or else it’s our manager who wouldn’t dream of stealing money from her reports.

  6. Blue*

    OP I’m so sorry about your grandmother!

    If I were you, I would share the update about not receiving the condolence just with the one coworker who let you know about the collection in the first place. I worry bringing it up with multiple coworkers could take on a tinge of gossip even if that’s not your intent, since as far as the others know you may not have been aware of the collection at all.

    1. Despachito*

      What I would be worried most about here was that my coworkers would think that I am a boor for not acknowledging their gift… I never received.

      So I am definitely for telling at least some of the coworkers that you appreciate the thought but never got anything.

  7. Hiring Mgr*

    Very sorry about your grandmother but if you want to stay at this job (do you?) definitely do not go to HR – you say you already have a challenging relationship with your boss so needless to say this would add fuel to the fire.

    Also, this is hardly theft in the sense that you would report it to anyone. i would just let it drop.

    1. Pants*

      Something tells me this boss also expects gifts from all her subordinates during the holidays and “boss’s day.” (Every dang day is Boss’s Day.)

    2. Shenandoah*

      I wonder if those who recommend forgetting about all of this would do so themselves had they donated their own money.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        If it were me, my relationship with the boss would factor in. If the boss was normally fine and reasonable I’d assume she just forgot and would get around to it, not that she stole the money. We know the OP has issues with the boss but we don’t know how the colleagues who donated feel.

      2. Elsajeni*

        I think the folks who contributed actually have the stronger case for going to HR about it; they are directly out money, which is clearer “damages” to them than not receiving the flowers is to the OP. It would also solve the issue where it would be obvious who complained, since presumably several people contributed money and any of them could have been the one who spoke to HR. The problem is that, as far as we know, they don’t know the boss never sent anything — so the advice to the OP to quietly mention to their co-workers that they never received anything, and let them take it from there, seems like the best way to go.

  8. QuickCommentBreak*

    I know we don’t want to assume the worst of everyone, but there are definitely people out there who forget on purpose. Not everyone who volunteers has good intentions. I know at least two people who had a workplace thief gather money for someone grieving and pocket it.

    It isn’t about the money a lot of the time for such people; it is about the thrill of doing it. It’s like rich people who shoplift. They can buy whatever they want, but they can’t buy the thrill of having gotten away with it! It would not shock me if boss quietly enjoyed the fact that she got away with pocketing some money from her employees.

    No matter her motives, Alison’s advice is the best. It has to be someone who contributed money who brings it up again.

    1. lyonite*

      That does happen, but it’s so rare compared to people who don’t bother doing things because not important to me=not important that unless the OP has more evidence of active dishonesty it’s probably not worth pursuing. Either way, letting the coworkers know what happened is the right move here.

    2. Ellis Hubris*

      Yes, that is a possible motive.

      As someone who gave, I would expect it to go to the grieving soul. Let the one know who alerted about the collection and leave it be. .

      It’s disgraceful to collect from employees/subordinates (!) And then not send. Everything about this screams someone who doesn’t care.

    3. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

      I have encountered enough malicious people in my life and career that I DO assume worst of almost everyone.

      (“Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they shall never be disappointed.”)

      1. QuickCommentBreak*

        I’m kind of with you here! I’ve never actually encountered a situation where someone collected money and genuinely forgot to distribute it or purchase a gift. I’m sure it happens, but most people I know who have been the collectors took it super seriously and did everything right away/provided transparency.

        The situations I have been aware of where the person didn’t give the money were malicious situations where there was deception, lies, and other shady behavior from the individual.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I totally have, because it just wasn’t that important to them. People forgetting to do things that are important to someone else but not to the person who promised to do them is, like, really common? Something else will always come up on that interests them more than gift-shopping for someone they don’t care that much about, and it just keeps getting bumped down the list.

          1. EnoughAlready*

            Sure, but people don’t often suggest and then organize the collection and then decide they don’t care about that person that much anymore, and they are going to forget all about it… even after it being brought up to them once before.

    4. Curious*

      I’d apply Hanlon’s Razor:. Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

      1. Willow Pillow*

        Exactly. The impact is certainly the same (and that whole “impact matters over intent” thing is under-considered), but it needs to be addressed differently.

  9. PoorasHell*

    This reminds me of the boss who told me I could leave work and drive to my close friend’s deathbed (he was barely 26) but that it would be coming out of my vacation because bereavement is for family only and then when I got back, announced he was immediately taking 3 days off of bereavement leave because a 71 year old man he used to know had died and lectured our small office, me included, that bereavement is for just such circumstances and people don’t have to be family to matter. He also went on a long rant about how 71 was too young, which probably wouldn’t have stung as much had my friend not just died literally the two days before.

    1. The hey and the what now?*

      That’s just wrong. I’m so sorry that you had to suffer that kind of insult after such a loss.

    2. California Razen*

      Ooof. What an obtuse jackass.

      I’m not trying to play the one-up game, but this reminded me of a situation I dealt with. When I was in the service industry, I was scheduled a double (lunch and dinner). I found out during my lunch shift that my granddad was dying and had hours left. I asked my boss if I could go say bye to gpa. He said no, but I would be first cut. (Nothing special, btw. If you work a double you were always first cut after dinner.)

      I missed my gpa that night.

      The next day I was scheduled lunch and I came in. Some other drunk yahoo, who came in every shift hungover, of course came in late and hungover that day. Same boss as the night before told him to go home and rest.

      I wish I could say I threw my apron on the floor and walked out. I wish I could say I cussed that boss out. I wish I could say that I cussed out drunk yahoo and exacerbated his hangover. But no. I just covered that dude’s tables and ended up making a ton of $$ that day.

      1. PoorasHell*

        No caveat needed, we are united in having worked for terrible bosses under terrible circumstances!

        Urgh, I’m so sorry your boss was such a knob and even more sorry about the loss of your grandpa!

        Being in a position where you can’t/don’t have it in you to throw figurative hands is hard and demoralizing. I feel like the service industry gets a lot of bad bosses like that, also Real Estate (which is the kind of office I worked in, I was a researcher).

        I ended up leaving the uncaring boss’s company shortly after the death/incident since in addition to it, he failed to manage my direct supervisor (who was sleeping with a major client) and told me the only way to make 40K a year (I have a Master’s degree and graduated top honours) was to force my direct supervisor to do their job better despite the fact I didn’t have that power.

        What’s sad is that he wasn’t even in the top 3 worst bosses I’ve ever had. I had one who sent me out with customers in a severe thunderstorm/tornado, one who’s paycheques bounced to the point I told him he had to pay me in cash or I was out the door, and another who was the direct cause of a co-worker getting 3rd degree oil burns.

    3. Miss Muffet*

      My dad was online support and I ended up having to fly home last minute for what I expected to be last goodbyes and a funeral. Lucky us, he came off life support and lived another 6 months. My boss said I couldn’t take the bereavement time as I initially planned to log it because a death didn’t actually happen. No grace for the craziness of life at all. I was fairly new so had sooooo little PTO. Some bosses are totally tone deaf about death.

  10. Khatul Madame*

    This is pretty ugly on the supervisor’s part, to be sure.
    Strictly speaking, no one has an expectation of contributions from coworkers for any life events, so you have no case for HR. So this is off the table.
    The money collected by your co-workers is for them to track. Since you are discussing this with MANY people (per your own words), they already know that the supervisor has not sent flowers or whatever she wanted to spend the $$ on. Let them raise this with her and step away from the situation.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      It doesn’t sound like OP has talked to anyone except the coworker who told her about the collection, the florist, and the boss. I wouldn’t categorize that as an all-caps level many.

      1. Khatul Madame*

        Clearly citation needed.
        “Many people are telling me to just let it go, but others are saying she committed theft and to report her to HR. “

        1. Hlao-roo*

          It’s unclear if the “many people” in the sentence you quoted are people the OP works with, or people from the OP’s personal life (friends, family). If the many people are the coworkers who donated, then I agree the OP should drop it. But if they aren’t, I think the OP can let one or a few of their teammates know the money hasn’t been used for flowers or a gift.

        2. Captain Swan*

          It’s possible that the many people are not her coworkers or other company personnel. It could mean husband, best friend, mom, etc. Of course there is no way to know if many includes all of her coworkers or not.

    2. Health Insurance Nerd*

      Someone in management soliciting donations from their employees and then pocketing the money instead of putting it towards the purpose for which it was collected is 100% a case for HR.

      1. Khatul Madame*

        Even so, it’s not OP’s money. Let whoever contributed the money make the call to escalate this.

        1. ferrina*

          You can still flag it for HR even if you aren’t the wronged party. Ideally HR will do their own follow up.

          Realistically, it really depends on how competent and discreet your HR is. At OldJob, HR would have either ignored the issue or insisted on ineffective “mediation”. At Current Job, HR would discreetly investigate, never indicate who gave the initial tip-off, and have WORDS with the boss. And then would quietly follow up with the team a few months later to ensure there was no retaliation (we’ve got someone is masterful at quietly getting information).

    3. Bagpuss*

      I don’t agree that HR is off the table just because there’s no expectation of contributions.

      An employee collected money from coworkers for a specific purpose and pocketed the money. Stealing from your co-workers is absolutely something which HR can, and should, deal with. That said, as Alison has advised, those who gave money are in a stronger position to contact HR, since they are the one’s whose money has been taken and not used as intended. But OP has learned about this behaviour and the fact that it’s been done by someone who is in a position of authority and has, at worst, misused that authority for her own gain, and at best been very careless and acted in a way which is likely to have a negative effect on morale and staff relationships, and those are things which are relevant to HR

      1. MsM*

        Yeah, there might not be any obligation to do anything around a bereavement, or any action HR can take to rectify the situation, but I feel like Boss created an expectation here when she solicited and collected the money.

    4. I'm fabulous!*

      Agreed! Bring it up to someone you feel comfortable with that the flowers were not sent. Or have them ask the supervisor for the name of the florist so they can check themselves.

  11. AnonInCanada*

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandmother, OP. By mentioning this to your co-workers, maybe they can speak up to HR. After all, the manager shouldn’t get away with taking all their money and just sticking it in her pocket with no repercussions. And if said boss retaliates in any way (demotions/bad reviews etc.) then it’s back to HR with all of you.

  12. londonedit*

    Sorry to hear about your grandmother, and I agree that your boss sounds awful and absolutely should have done something about the flowers. However, really, the issue is between your co-workers and your supervisor – as they’re the ones who contributed money that now hasn’t been used for its intended purpose. I’d definitely agree with discreetly telling a couple of people ‘I was touched to hear that you’d all done a collection – unfortunately I don’t think Sally has got round to sending us anything, so you might want to follow up with her, but thank you so much’ or something similar. It’s for them to take up with her, really.

    1. Kewlm0m*

      Totally agree that this is the way to go, but I’d maybe soft pedal the message a bit to “I was touched to hear that you’d all done a collection. Sally is going to send us something as soon as she has a chance.”

      1. Tuesday*

        That makes it sound like Sally is going to send something and the coworkers don’t need to do anything about it though, and I’m not sure that’s the case! I think it’s good to let them know they might want to follow up.

        1. Lunch Ghost*

          But I would definitely tell them the boss has SAID she is planning on sending something. As a coworker, I’d definitely want to know that going in– otherwise the response to “LW says you never sent her anything” would be “Yes, but I told her I’m planning on sending something,” and then I’d lose all steam as I wondered if that was true.

  13. Single Parent Barbie*

    2 weeks before my father died, a coworker’s father passed. Somehow, I was put in charge of getting a card and having people sign it and collect money. I was happy to do it. While the coworkers family was local, The money was to help with incidentals that often accompany those losses.

    When my father died, I got nothing. No note, no card, no flowers. My father had been in the hospital for over a month, and my boss knew I was just waiting for the call. One day I got it, my mom was taking him off life support. I went and picked my kids up from school, we packed, and got on the road to drive 3 states to say goodbye and be there for my mom.
    I came back to work a week later with a pile of work and 100s of emails.

    Just before I left the company (4 months after my father died), we hired a new employee who was in the midst of transferring from another site with another division. IN the process, his wife was killed in a car accident. Again, I was put in charge of the card and the money (to help with travel expenses.)

    I have decided what I should have done is bought my own damn flowers on the company credit card.
    Unless a company can do it consistently across all levels, it shouldnt’ be done.

    Let your coworkers know what happened. Allison’s first script suggestion is softer and kinder.

    1. Emmie*

      I am so sorry about your father’s passing, and how your company treated you. It was wildly disgusting, and you deserved better. I am glad you are at another company.

    2. RJ*

      That is awful. My sincere condolences on the loss of your father and the fact your company and co-workers treated you that way. I feel the same way. Unless a company does collections for everyone, it shouldn’t be done for some.

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your father and for the added cruelty of it not being acknowledged at all by your company.

    4. Tierrainney*

      I’m sorry about your Father and your treatment by your company.

      It reminded me of my treatment by my company when my parents died (at different times, same company)

      My Mother did have flowers sent to funeral, and otherwise not acknowledged but it was understandable because while I was out, one of the partners was killed in an automobile accident and everyone was understandably upset and out of sorts.

      More recently, when my Father died, no flowers, no card, no nothing. and although I wasn’t put in charge like you were, it hurt when an email was sent by someone else in the company thanking for the flowers and cards they had received.

    5. People, man*

      My condolences on the loss of your father. I had a similar experience, although not quite as in your face as your horrible coworkers.

      My father died within two weeks of another coworkers father. My family received nothing from the workplace aside from a card from some retired coworkers. The other family got multiple cards, a condolence email from the administration sent to the entire organization, flowers from the department and a meal train (an U.S. southern thing where people sign up to deliver meals to the bereaved).

      It has always amazed me how much people play favorites in heart-breaking circumstances. Nothing makes it clearer who will be there for you than tragedy. All linkages to those people broke in my eyes and I have never forgiven them.

      And yes, I transferred departments. My interest in working there had gotten up and left. And shortly, so did I.

  14. RJ*

    OP, my condolences on the loss of your grandmother. It’s awful that you have to deal with a neglectful boss on top of your grieving process, but here we are. Some bosses are truly harmful even though they don’t see themselves as being so. Go to your co-worker and tell her about the flower non-delivery. Don’t take it to HR.

  15. Mialana*

    Is it possible that the boss did order flowers but told OP they didn’t because they didn’t want OP to feel bad about the lost flowers? If that was the case, it’s a bit weird that no other gift came… Just saying that I would be careful with assumptions and breaking bridges.

      1. Delta Delta*

        I worked at a florist in college and we bent over backward to make sure a) funeral flowers got delivered and b) if they didn’t, that we made it right. Most florists are like this, especially with funeral flowers.

    1. Kat*

      The Boss said she did not order them. If they were not delivered she would be refunded. Either way she would have the money.

    2. Rowerrabbit*

      The boss would rather the OP think she took everyone’s money and then never bothered to send the flowers instead of knowing the flowers were ordered out of kindness and they were a part of a large florist mix up?

    3. Ellie*

      The simplest explanation is that she took the collection, then got too busy and forgot about it. If she had ordered flowers from the florist, she would have followed up with them to have them delivered.

      OP – you shouldn’t have to spend any more bandwidth on this. Just let your coworkers know that she never sent you anything, and then try to forget about it. They can either follow it up, or just factor it into their future dealings with her.

  16. Aggretsuko*

    I can’t think of any good or neutral that would come from outing this situation. I strongly think you’d get punished for saying anything at all. Not just HR, I don’t think I’d let your coworkers know either in case one of them says something, because then it goes back to you again too.

    What a petty shitty thing, but you’ll have to suck it up and know not to trust this woman.

    1. Kat*

      I think she’s already said something to her coworkers but I agree, let it go. And never give this woman another dime for collection.

      1. Shenandoah*

        Nah, that’s my money. If I donated it in good faith, I’d want to know if boss didn’t spend it as she claimed she would.

        1. Goddess Sekhmet*

          Agreed! I’d be speaking to the boss if I found out that’s what had happened to my money.

          1. DisgruntledPelican*

            I think that’s exactly the point Aggretsuko is making. As soon as OP mentions it to her coworkers, they’re going to the boss to ask about the money. I would, too! But then OP has to deal with a petty boss who now feels like she’s been “tattled” on. No way that ends well for OP.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      I think that the OP needs to let her coworkers know, somehow. Otherwise, they are going to eventually wonder why the flowers weren’t acknowledged.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Well…I suppose OP doesn’t have to be honest and say “I never got the flowers.” More like, “thank you for your best wishes” or being vague about the topic. Or “your thoughts are appreciated.”

        I just picture the fallout that comes from being honest about this situation and I can’t stop shuddering.

        1. Observer*

          I disagree. If telling coworkers is going to cause that much fallout, the OP needs to be looking for a new job because their boss is toxic. And regardless of what happens with the Boss, it’s important that people who kicked in money know that the OP never got anything and THAT is why they hadn’t thanked anyone for so long.

          The OP should NOT take the reputational risk of letting people think she’s ungrateful. And the vague response you suggest almost makes it worse.

        2. Pugetkayak*

          No, people care both: (1) when someone they wanted to receive something nice didn’t receive it, and (2) when they gave someone money for something who has kept it and didn’t do what they are supposed to do.

        3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          The co-workers need to know so that next time the supervisor does a collection, they can decline to contribute.

    3. Dona Florinda*

      I disagree. If I were one of the coworkers that chipped in, I would’ve wanted to know, either so I could ask for it back and send something else myself, or just to nudge the boss in case she really just forgot about it. Also, if everyone agreed on flowers for the funeral (when my mom passed away, the flowers people sent meant so much to me), it’s not really up to the boss to change plans.

      That being said, once OP tells the coworkers, what to do next it’s up to them and she should just let it go.

      1. I'm fabulous!*

        Same. Money might be tight for people and I’d be pissed at, and I’d feel lied to by, the supervisor if I found out what happened.

  17. Free Meerkats*

    Condolences on our loss OP.

    When my first wife died, rather than flowers I requested donations to a specific wildlife rehab she was a fan of. Almost 20 years later, I came across the envelope that held the donations, including several checks from coworkers, that I’d set aside in the grief time. I felt TERRIBLE! I immediately made the donation, covering the amount of the checks from my own money. Then I went to each person who had written a check, explained what had happened (because they knew their check hadn’t been cashed), and gave them their voided check back.

    I’m not making excuses for your manager, I don’t know if it’s deliberate or oversight or what. But Alison’s advice is what I would do.

    1. Bagpuss*

      That was thoughtful of you – I suspect that your co-workers would not have an issue with your having overlooked it at the time, given that you were the grieving spouse . Had I been one of your co-workers I would not have wanted, or expected, you to make up the donation from your pocket – the donation was made out of sympathy to you in your loss, it isn’t as though you had been collecting for a charity and pocketed the money yourself.

  18. singularity*

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandmother, OP, and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this in addition to grieving.

    Like others have said, I don’t think going to HR would help, but if you quietly told your colleagues who gave her the money, perhaps they could get together and come up with what they want to do about it?

    Unfortunately, now you know not to trust these money requests in the future, and if a situation comes up again where one of your colleagues is dealing with a death or issue and you all want to show your sympathy, then you and your coworkers will have to coordinate that without your boss’ involvement.

  19. a tester, not a developer*

    I would focus on letting a few co-workers know, just so you don’t get a reputation as an ingrate who didn’t send a thank you note or acknowledge the (theoretical) gift.

  20. Ellis Bell*

    I’d send the team a really straight forward thank you for the thoughtfulness of doing a collection, I wouldn’t say “flowers” because you didn’t get any. I would be all benevolent assumptions and let them know you’ll send a picture of the gesture they paid for, the minute the boss sends it to you. They can infer from that the likelihood that it’s been forgotten since it’s been weeks. Then, let them chase her for the money they paid her. They could even offer to do the legwork, I would. Sorry your boss sucks!

  21. Delta Delta*

    I think OP should probably contact the coworkers (individually, if it’s not too much trouble to do so) and let them know she knows about the flower collection and that she appreciates their thoughts. And then also let them know the boss didn’t send flowers but said she’d send something else and that hasn’t arrived yet. You won’t want coworkers thinking you aren’t thanking them, and they may want to know that plans changed.

  22. Parenthesis Guy*

    If I were the OPs grandboss, I’d want the OP to tell me this story. I don’t know that I’d demote the boss solely because of this, but I’d definitely have concerns that someone I have managing people is at the least completely insensitive.

  23. Emily*

    I’m so sorry OP. I 100% agree with Alison’s response. Let your co-workers know what happened so they can decide how they want to deal with it. It was their money after all. You are putting this on yourself to deal with, but they are actually the ones best positioned to.

  24. Lily Potter*

    OP, you work for a terrible person.

    However, Allison is 100% wrong in her response. If you run around telling your co-workers that your boss kept their money, it’s going to come back on you. Do you really want to deal with work repercussions or (god forbid) to get pushed out of your job over some flowers? And as you noted above, it just feels icky to push the matter further. A friend of mine used to lament that the only time she got flowers from her husband was when she asked for them and that pretty much negated any good feelings about getting them. If you have to ask for a thoughtful gesture, it really doesn’t count, does it?

    I would not worry about thanking individually people who donated. People understand that thank you notes can get forgotten or not done during times of grief. Plus – would a flower delivery even individually list who pitched in money, or would it just say its from “Team Cruella”?

    Consider looking for a new position, working for someone more ethical. After you’re not longer working for Cruella, you could casually tell a few co-workers about what a crappy thing she did to you.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      This isn’t about the flowers. It’s about her boss being dishonest with OP’s coworkers. Of course, OP should let coworkers know that their thoughts and efforts were appreciated even though the flowers were never delivered.

      A new job? Work for someone more ethical? How are you supposed to know if your new manager is more ethical until you actually work for them? How could OP have known this was going to happen at this job during the interview?

      And yes, you should thank people. A late thank you is always better and more polite than no thank you.

      1. Lily Potter*

        Of course it’s “not about the flowers” in that suggesting the OP wants a bouquet, pronto.

        It’s about the flowers in that the OP says she already has a “challenging relationship” with her boss, and pushing the issue of the flowers in any way is going to poke that bear in ways no one can predict. Pushing it further in any way that makes her boss looks bad is not going to end well for the OP.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          OP will not be making her boss look bad, boss will be making boss look bad.
          I think best course is for OP to tell a coworker that she heard there was a collection and she’s thankful they thought of her, but she hasn’t actually gotten anything from boss. She can tell the story of the floral mixup if asked. But the coworkers absolutely need to know that boss hasn’t spent their money on anything. How said coworkers want to deal with it is up to them, but I’d be livid if I gave money to send a condolence gift for a coworker and then later found out that nothing was given. At the VERY least, boss could have give the $$ to another coworker and had them do it, after the OP had tried to ascertain if they were invovled in the florist’s debacle.

      2. Goddess Sekhmet*

        What about the people who gave money in good faith? If I was one of them I’d want to know, and would be right hacked off if I found out someone knew and didn’t tell me. It’s completely unfair to all those people to keep it quiet.

    2. londonedit*

      I don’t think anyone is saying ‘run around telling people’. I think the advice is have a discreet word with one or two people and politely let them know that the gift they collected for didn’t arrive. In that situation, if I’d contributed money I’d want to know.

      1. kiki*

        Yes, I think mentioning to your closest work friend that you never received the gift is kind of beyond reproach for boss to get mad about. Especially if LW phrases it something like, “I realized I never sent a thank you for your flower contribution after my grandmother passed. It slipped my mind because the flowers never arrived, but I know you all contributed. Thank you so much! That was so kind!”

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        And I think Alison’s response set the right tone. The idea is to be able to thank/acknowledge the co-workers and express confusion about the plan and/or confidence that things are just delayed.

      3. Lily Potter*

        Many comments are of the “if I’d contributed to the gift, I’d want to know it wasn’t received.” People aren’t thinking about the OP. She’s working in a small group of people and relations with her boss are already challenging. Even if she asks one co-worker in the group about it now, boss is going to hear about the issue through the grapevine somehow, and know that it originated from OP. This is inevitable in a group so small. Boss is going to know how bad it makes her look and know that it originated from OP. Does the OP want to risk dealing with that fallout given that relations with the boss are already frosty? I sure wouldn’t. My answer would be different if she hadn’t already gone back to the boss and given her a crystal clear way to save face and make things right. Forgetting one time to make a purchase – perhaps there were extenuating circumstances. “Forgetting” a second time screams intentionality.

        1. Dona Florinda*

          But OP was the one that wrote in in the first place, and she was considering going to HR about it. What Alison and the commentariat did was suggest a softer approach, that’s all.

    3. No Annual Contract*

      I am in no way excusing this boss’s behavior but you might be a little harsh in labeling them a “terrible person” based on one example such as this that as Alison mentioned, migth have reasons (again, not excuses but valid reasons) for happening. And it might be a little premature to suggest looking for a more “ethical” employer based on this. Sure, there might be a whole lot more to the story, and if there is, then definitley factor that into consideration, but there is usually a lot more to consider before jumping ship on a job that might be checking a lot of other boxes.

    4. Observer*

      Do you really want to deal with work repercussions or (god forbid) to get pushed out of your job over some flowers?

      Probably not. But does the OP want to become known as the person who couldn’t be bothered to say thank you for a thoughtful gesture? I would argue that the answer is no.

      I would not worry about thanking individually people who donated. People understand that thank you notes can get forgotten or not done during times of grief.

      Not true. Especially since this is now weeks after the event. The OP would not have had to thank people individually is they got a gift from “Team OP”. They could have sent out an email to their team saying “I got your gift / bouquet / donation notice. Thank you all so much for thinking of me.” Or whatever verbiage. The key would be that they actually do acknowledge a gift.

      If telling co-workers really has the potential to get the OP fired, they need a new job regardless. Advising people to act in ways that assume the absolute worst when there is not good evidence for that creates its own set of problems. In this case, it absolutely would harm the OP’s reputation.

    5. Shenandoah*

      “If you run around telling your co-workers that your boss kept their money…”

      This is so insensitive, especially for someone who is grieving. Please get some big-picture perspective.

  25. ABCYaBYE*

    OP I’m very sorry for your loss. This situation, on top of your grieving, is awful, and for that I’m sorry, too.

    I think mentioning it to a single close coworker is your best course of action. While it sucks big time that things are not the same across the board, that’s not necessarily a fight to have, I don’t think. But letting that coworker know about the situation – that you know a collection was taken and nothing has been done for you with that money – will give them an opportunity to inquire, or not. While the situation definitely sucks, raising the issue farther yourself will paint you in a bad light. Those who gave money to the collection can definitely raise the issue, even if it is just “hey boss, what did we end up sending with the money we chipped in?”

  26. TiredMama*

    Perhaps a burn it all down solution but what about a group email saying you heard they gave money and appreciate that and just know your boss will find something you will greatly appreciate.

  27. Boof*

    Sorry OP – it sucks and is probably the last thing you really want to care about while also being extremely galling.
    It’s probably best to assume your boss has just lost track of things and give them one more easy chance to fix it; by easy I mean “hello! I’m not sure if you’re still working on the collection for my grandmother, but X is taking a collection in her name!” (where X could be whatever you want; a charity, the funeral home, it’s ok to ask for help with funeral expenses!)
    Then if it still doesn’t go through yeah, say something to coworkers along the lines of “I appreciate the thought though haven’t received anything yet!”

  28. Sara M*

    I’m almost sure we had a similar letter in past years. I’m sorry this happened to you, and for the loss of your grandmother!

    1. Goody*

      I thought the same and had hoped that this was an update. I didn’t anticipate it being a new circus.

      And while I understand that this is a small office and the source will be obvious when it works around to the boss, I really do think OP should talk to her co-workers. They were the ones who donated, after all.

  29. Rae*

    Holy cow, life is too short to fixate on something so petty, especially in the wake of a beloved family member’s death.

    Let this go immediately.

    1. Nesprin*

      I really really disagree. That boss would be so careless (in the best case) or callous (in the worst case) to do this sort of thing really speaks to OP’s boss’s character.

      When my mother died, little things like this were like salt in an open wound- if there hadn’t been a hurt it wouldn’t have mattered as much.

      1. Rae*

        My comment isn’t the rude. It’s just straightforward. There are much bigger things in life to focus on. The OP is fixating and getting worked up about something with the smallest possible stakes.

        1. pope suburban*

          With all due respect, this is not a decision you can make for another person. Grief is a very personal thing, and it can ripple outward into other parts of your life in surprising ways. “Shut up, you’re being ridiculous” is never a kind thing to say to someone, and doubly so when they are trying to come to grips with a loss. And that’s aside from the theft and favoritism that are happening here, and certainly affecting the entire workplace. Really, this is appalling.

        2. Observer*

          To you it’s the lowest possible stakes. But it’s NOT objectively “low stakes”

          In fact, to the extent that there is anything objective, it’s that the boss has taken money that was meant to do something nice for the OP to make them fell like someone cares, and just NOT made the gesture. And objectively that almost certainly means that the boos doesn’t give any more importance to the OP’s well being than the well being of any of the equipment in her office. I don’t think that that’s low stakes.

          Don’t berate people for actually caring about being seen as a human being by others.

        3. Czhorat*

          Are you OP’s boss?

          The boss *stole money collected for a grieving employee who had just lost their grandparent*

          I don’t know any of these people, and I feel invested in not letting the boss get away with it, out of a sense of justice if naught else. It feels wrong for someone to profit by behaving so poorly.

        4. Loch Lomond*

          The main kind of people who discourage others from doing anything about minor injustices and thefts are the ones who enjoy getting away with those same things themselves.

          And yes, both the phrasing and the sentiment behind it were indeed rude.

        5. SnappinTerrapin*

          I’m trying to read your comments in a generous light, but failing to find an interpretation that doesn’t reflect poorly on you.

          Some thoughts are better left unsaid.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      It can still hurt even if it happened years ago. I still remember the differences between how a co-worker’s mother’s death was treated and mine. They didn’t even bother to send flowers to mine.

      My scar is healed, but at times like reading about LW’s issues, it aches like knees before a storm.

    3. pope suburban*

      She’s upset that her coworkers were stolen from and lied to, and that she has been treated as a second-class citizen. These things are difficult to handle even without fresh grief. I’m appalled that anyone would try to police a grieving person’s feeling this way. This was extremely unkind.

    4. AngryOctopus*

      Were I a contributing coworker, I’d 100% want to know that someone took my money yet did not manage in seven weeks to send a condolence gift. OP should for sure make a discreet tell to a close coworker and let them take the lead, but it’s not nothing and it’s not petty.

    5. Snell*

      The cost of flowers is such a petty thing to pocket under false pretenses. I’d judge it’s not worth the ill will earned by my subordinates by doin such a thing. OP’s boss seems to have different priorities. And keep in mind that “in the wake of a beloved family member’s death,” OP’s boss engaged in scummy behavior, in a situation related to the family member’s death. This isn’t “barista got my coffee wrong, I am also going through a hard time.” This is “Boss profited off my hard time at the expense of my coworkers.”

    6. Sunflower*

      How is this petty? The boss took from the coworkers. It doesn’t matter if it was $10.00 or $1000.00. It wasn’t the boss’s.

    7. Loch Lomond*

      This reply is terrible. Money was stolen from her coworkers on her behalf, what a cocktail of grief and injustice. Whatever instinct led you to tell OP to let this go, let alone so rudely, is when you should examine.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Isn’t it NICE for this boss to be able to steal from her subordinates, using an employee’s loss as a coverup, with the full confidence that anyone who tries to call her out on it will be shamed and told to “let it go immediately”.

      Why on earth is this the position you want to take? Are you the boss?

    9. Boof*

      This really isn’t petty, it’s at best negligent, at worst fraud. It may indeed serve LW better just to try to move on because in the end there’s little at stake for them, materially / little benefit to be had from pushing the issue. But it is/was a crappy thing that LW’s supervisor is doing.

  30. CheesePlease*

    OP, I’m so sorry about your grandmother. My beloved grandmother passed away days before my daughter (her first great-grandchild) was born. I know how hard it can be to have happy moments and sad moments collide in your life. Sending hugs!

    Also, I hope you know your manager’s actions aren’t about you and have everything to do with her. I don’t think she’s trying to slight you. She is being irresponsible. I agree with Allison that the best thing to do is to let your coworkers know what is going on, and then hopefully she gives the money back or sends a basket to your house.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Heck, even if she is trying to slight you, that has absolutely nothing to do with you. All things being equal, thoughtlessness is more likely than the high level of pettiness required to slight someone whose loved one just died. But if it’s the latter, that is useful information to tuck away to aid you in making decisions.

  31. Sparkles McFadden*

    Oddly, I had something similar happen where my dingbat boss collected the money and didn’t do anything with it. I found out when someone asked the question of “So what did we get you?” I checked in with the boss and it was “Oh. I got busy. I’ll get you something at a later time.” The next day, I brought in some baked goods as a thank you to everyone for their kind thoughts and good wishes and added “…and really, it’s totally understandable that our boss Cruella was too busy to send something to me after collecting from all of you. Your kind thoughts are really enough for me.” That took care of it. Believe me, that took care of it.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        The general fallout was that people compared notes and realized that, while my boss made a big show of being caring and generous, the gifts that actually had been sent in the past were not commensurate with the amount of money collected. The one or two people she favored got something around the full amount and the rest of us got a token or nothing. Not even a card.

        A small group asked her about it…and her boss heard that. It was then that we found out (from her boss) that collections by managers are not allowed and the company probably paid for the gifts she did send out. She was not let go right away but there was a lot more scrutiny of department budget handling which uncovered many more irregularities.

        I think people’s small actions always matter as they’re a map to the big things. I suppose her boss thought that too.

        1. Phony Genius*

          Interesting that your company has a policy against collections by managers. Is this common in most workplaces?

          1. Lunch Ghost*

            I was thinking that if LW goes to HR over this, I could see the company adding such a policy. Easiest way to prevent this sort of thing from happening again (no matter whether the reasons tend more toward “fake collection to steal money” or “indecisive/anxious manager has trouble choosing gift and sits on the money for months”).

  32. Greenhouse Gremlin*

    I just lost my grandmother 2 weeks ago. My heart breaks for you OP. Sending love your way.

  33. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    LW, I’m sorry for your loss and for the additional nonsense you’re having to deal with about your boss. She’s being thoughtless *at best*.

    I wonder if you’re fixating on this a bit and channeling broader hurt and frustration onto this (totally legitimate!) issue. This is something I definitely do and I figured it might resonate for you, too. It sounds like the loss of your grandmother has hit you very hard. And the timing must have made it even more difficult. In your letter, you also say that your relationship with your boss wasn’t great even before this. Perhaps you’re focusing on this issue because it’s a) something you can take some action about and b) a situation where you’re clearly in the right and your boss is wrong. So I’d encourage you to ask yourself how much of your frustration is over this situation specifically and how much is about your boss/job in general and the pain of losing someone you care about.

    Ultimately, Alison is right and your instincts are, too. There’s not a lot to be gained by going to HR about this and potentially a lot to lose. Your best course of action is to mention the situation to your co-workers and let them take care of it however they want, and to make a mental note about what your boss has shown you about how she operates. Like Alison said, this one thing is not determinative about your boss – she could be dealing with stuff you have no idea about – but it’s worth filing away to see if there’s a pattern.

  34. kiki*

    If LW feels like they want to bring it up to their boss one last time, I would use wanting to write a thank you note to your coworkers as an excuse to bring it up. “Hi boss! I know you and all my coworkers were so kind and contributed to a flower fund. I realized I never sent a thank you note because the gift you mentioned hasn’t arrived. Do you know if that gift was lost? I’ve been having issues with mail and package delivery lately, so I thought I should check in!”

    That gives her space to say, “Oh no, I completely spaced! I will send that today/just give you the money/etc.”

    If you still don’t get anything within a few weeks, I would update one or two closer coworkers as Alison recommended.

  35. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    I’m retired now, but I can tell you that when I was a director, I absolutely would have wanted to know about this and would have had a come to Jesus talk with the boss who pocketed the loot. This is a matter of ethics and trust, and I would not be comfortable with a manager who pocketed money in those circumstances. At the very least I would want to know what happened to those funds. Depending on the results of that conversation, I might be looking more closely at all funds available to the manager.

    1. Shenandoah*

      I once worked in an office that would collect $20 every month from all employees there; about 15, and no matter each person’s salary level. The purpose was for flowers for people in our office and in adjoining offices, regardless of the occasion.

      After careful consideration, I stopped donating after a couple of months, because there was never any communication about “This month, your donations bought flowers for (names’) birthday, death, anniversary, what have you.” A decent bouquet can be expensive, but come on. People should know how their donations are being spent. My inquiring got me squints and on an inter-office Just who do you think you are? mill.

      A couple of months after I stopped donating, a co-worker did the same, for the same reason. We were both ostracized.

      And we both wore it like a badge of honor for our individual remaining time there.

      Let a co-worker know, OP.

  36. No Annual Contract*

    This is one of the reasons that we budget for this each year. The company sends an arrangement (or charitable donation if requested) on behalf of the whole staff. This is coordinated by the CEO’s assistant (smallish company of around 50 employees). The other reason we do this, and one that the LW also mentioned, is so there is consistency in how we handle these situations so that no one feels like they are being treated differently/ufairly. If we left it up to supervisors or team leads we would have a whole lot of variations from the ones that wouldn’t do anything to ones that would go overboard. Also, I just really hate the whole office donation thing. It puts people on the spot and tends to cause a lot of unnecessary weirdness.

    1. Yoyoyo*

      I think this is the best way for companies to handle this kind of thing. At my former job, managers would just let HR know that someone had had a death and they would take it from there. That way it is standardized. Of course certain teams had cultures where they would also pass around a card, but there was no money involved, just writing a little note.

  37. Keymaster of Gozer*

    All my sympathies. I hope your memories of your lost loved one bring you comfort.

    With regards your boss: we’ve had a couple of incidents at work of someone doing a money collection for (reason) and then..nothing. No card, no gift, no donation. One time they claimed to have lost it, the other time they said they’d had some bad stuff happen in their life so hadn’t got round to doing anything.

    One suggestion to your boss is if she’s really just not got the time then suggest she give the funds to someone else to sort out the details. Her answer to that will tell you a lot about what actually happened (caught a few out in lies with that).

    Letting your coworkers know that you didn’t get anything at all is not an enviable conversation because it’s so awkward. You’re hurting a lot at the moment and this is one more stress you didn’t need. I’d still recommend maybe working it into casual conversation with some that you trust that you heard the boss did a collection but you never received anything from it. Then let the office rumour mill take over.

  38. Observer*

    OP, your boss is a jerk. But that’s not something you can bring to HR.

    Do let others know, though. Thank them for their thoughtfulness and explain that you hadn’t thanked anyone because you were waiting for whatever it was the Supervisor was going to send you. But since it hasn’t showed up and doesn’t look like it will, you want people to know that you are grateful.

    Now, the people whose money she took DO have something to go to HR with. “She took our money and didn’t purchase what she said she would” is something that competent HR should care about.

    1. pope suburban*

      I agree. I’d be pretty upset if I was given the opportunity to help out a coworker in need only to find out that a) I’d been deceived on that score, and b) that person in need never got the help that their situation requires. I would certainly not give money or anything material to the person in charge of collecting ever again- that help is going directly to the person impacted. It’s inappropriate to treat people so cavalierly, and it’s even more inappropriate to steal.

    2. Alanna*

      I hesitate to say this because it sounds like I’m minimizing OP’s grief, which I very much do not want to do — it sounds like she was close to her grandmother and losing her right before the wedding must be absolutely devastating. OP, I am so, so sorry for your loss, and I hope you’re taking care of yourself, healing, and treasuring the memories you have.

      But your complaint essentially would boil down to “My boss didn’t do anything to recognize the death of my grandparent” and that is really not a standard expectation in the workplace; the death of a grandparent is very common and people have a wide range of reactions to it, but the usual way for it to be commemorated is a sincere “Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss” and PTO for the funeral.

      1. Shenandoah*

        The LW is concerned that her boss collected money but not spent it in good faith. That’s what the letter is about, not ““My boss didn’t do anything to recognize the death of my grandparent.”

        1. Alanna*

          Yes, but as Observer points out, that’s a beef between the people whose money was collected and the boss, not between the boss and OP.

          1. Observer*

            But the OP needs to let people know what happened, because that affects her.

            Also, what is between her and the boss, although she can’t bring it to HR, is that the boss is acting as though the OP’s feelings are not more important than the phone on her desk. The fact that the boss didn’t do anything *is* legitimately galling when she’s done stuff for others. Doing it this way? It really feels like a statement.

            Not something that the OP can bring to HR. But it actually IS reasonable to expect a boss to appropriately acknowledge something this big. And even more so when the boss is holding money that people gave her for the purpose!

  39. PhyllisB*

    I understand your frustration. When I got married (mid 70’s) I got a sherbet dish in my chosen glassware pattern as a gift from my co-workers. The card had like 20 names on it, so I was like??? This dish only cost $5.00. I wrote a thank you note for our bulletin board with all names listed (this was standard for thank you notes for group gifts.)
    Later several people came to me and said they had donated enough money to get a complete place setting of my China plus a complete set of glassware. This would have been over $100.00 (can’t remember exactly now, that was 46 years ago!!)
    There wasn’t really anything I could do about it, so I just let it go. At least this was a co-worker, not a supervisor that kept the money.

  40. Bethie*

    This is bonkers. I work in state government and we even have a fund for things like this. And we even sent flowers to the funeral of a man who we hired – who passed away – and we only found out bc he didnt show for work! I would be telling’ people, bc this may be a small amount of money – but trust is invaluable.

  41. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    PLEASE tell the team. That way, the next time Jane comes around to collect for something, the rest of the team can simply tell her to first use the money she collected for your grandma’s flowers.

  42. Pierrot*

    First off, I’m very sorry for your loss. Your feelings about this are 100% valid— at minimum, your boss was not very considerate if she forgot to send the flowers. It’s also weird to me that she went out of her way to collect money for a floral arrangement that she never bought, when she could have just sent a thoughtful note/encouraged others to.

    That said, I think this is one of those situations where you have to cut your losses and just use this as a data point about your boss. If there’s someone you trust, maybe you could mention it to them. But there’s just too much risk of retaliation if it comes back to you. Even if the coworker friend said to the boss, “Hey, we heard you never sent the flowers” or goes to straight to HR, she might blame you (even though that would be totally unreasonable).

    One caveat is that if this scenario happens again to someone else or the boss collects money for something and it doesn’t materialize, you and your coworkers should definitely bring that to HR since at that point it’s a pattern.

    1. Shenandoah*

      So, no accountability at all? Wouldn’t you want to know if you donated money for a specific purpose that never materialized? Good lord…

  43. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    Back when I was in college, I worked at a small independent grocery store in the deli/kitchen. One of my coworkers had his iPod stolen from his bag in the break room and was really bummed (understandably). The rest of us, none of whom were making good money, pitched in to get him a new one. Our manager took the money and spent it on himself. There was nothing we could do. 15 years later, I’m STILL pissed about it.

  44. Elledub67*

    Sure, Worst boss of the year… January edition, maybe.
    Plenty worse to come in the next 11 months I hope – my bar is set pretty high – she didn’t even ask for a liver.

  45. WorkFromHomerSimpson*

    I had a weird flower situation at work once. I had emergency surgery and was off work for about a week. I returned to work and after a couple days, I noticed our office admin assistant seemed kind of short with me, which was unusual for her. That weekend, I had to stop by the office for my apartment complex for something and when I walked in, the office lady said, “Oh, I have something for you!” She then disappears to the back room and comes back with a big vase of dead flowers with a get well soon note attached. She just handed me this with a big stupid smile as if handing someone dead flowers is totally normal. Due to the apartment buildings having locked exterior doors, all packages were delivered to the office. Usually you knew you had a package because UPS or FedEx or whoever would leave one of those “Sorry we missed you” notes on the outer door saying that the package was dropped at the office. Either the florist didn’t do that or the note had fallen off while I was cooped up recovering. Regardless, I didn’t know there were flowers and the dopes at the apartment office didn’t bother thinking that someone receiving Get Well flowers might not be out and about to check for packages and they didn’t notify me either. Now I was the one who looked like a jerk at work for not thanking my coworkers, and obviously that was why the office admin was acting oddly (she was the one who ordered the flowers). I immediately sent a thank you email to everyone and apologized for the tardiness of my response. That seemed to satisfy office admin and life went back to normal. Still makes me mad to think about being handed the dead flowers, though.

    Anyway, my advice for OP would be to go ahead and send a thank you to your coworkers even though you didn’t get the flowers. Your thanks can be generic, “Thank you for thinking of me and supporting me in such a difficult time.” Since it sounds like bringing it up to your boss (again) or HR would be a minefield and likely not productive, focus on what you can control and at least make sure your reputation at work isn’t harmed by your boss’s actions.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “She then disappears to the back room and comes back with a big vase of dead flowers with a get well soon note attached. She just handed me this with a big stupid smile as if handing someone dead flowers is totally normal.”

      Hahahahhha! WOW, that is super weird. You were probably too stunned to call her out.

  46. Loch Lomond*

    Definitely important to tell the team that this happened. they are in a better position to follow up on it then you are, and they definitely need to know never to trust her again when collecting money!

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  47. Qwerty*

    OP, you aren’t really the wronged party in the money debacle. *Kindly thank the coworker who gave you a heads up and let her know that the boss didn’t send flowers. Then leave it for the coworkers who paid into the collection to handle. They might take over the flower sending, ask for their money back, or another option. You know that your coworkers were thinking of you and wanted to support you – that is the message that the flowers would have been trying to send.

    Your pre-existing challenging relationship with your boss is coloring everything here. If this same thing happened with a manager who you otherwise respected, felt supported by, and had a warm relationship with, would you be ready to march into HR and demand your flowers? You’ve been on an emotional roller coaster and our brains sometimes latch onto stuff like this because its more manageable than all the big stuff going on.

    * = The more neutral and less accusatory you can be here, the better it will work out. Not for your boss’s sake, but because your emotions are likely to come through strongly and you want the coworker’s takeaway to be rectifiying the situation rather than “wow, OP is really upset over flowers”. Pretending to assume good intentions in your boss will go a long way here.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      I agree. This is not the LW’s problem to solve. She should inform a coworker or two who likely donated and let them handle the apparent theft of their donation.

  48. GreenDoor*

    This makes me sad! Sad, OP, for your loss. But also sad that you are now in the awkward position of wanting to do right (saying thank you!) while also having to explain what actually happened. We had a self-appointed Sunshine representative who didn’t steal money. But she did plant the money envelope in the office of another co-worker she didn’t like in an attempt to set her up for theft. Fortunately it didn’t happen, but it sickens me that people take advantage of co-worker generosity like this.

  49. Dona Florinda*

    OP, I’m so sorry for everything you’re going through. Possible theft aside, it really sucks that other coworkers’ bereavement was acknowledged in a way that yours wasn’t, and if you have a good relationship with your boss (but I’m guessing you don’t), you could mention that.

    Other than that, there’s not much else you could, but if I were your coworker, I would like to know that boss possibly pocketed the money.

  50. Employment Lawyah*

    Honestly, I would simply move on. There really isn’t a great way to bring it up and the money may not be worth the risk of retaliation.

    The most important fact is that you know your coworkers tried to get you flowers–this is often more important than the flowers!

  51. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

    If the boss planned to do something later, I think that is rude. It sounds like this is many weeks after the funeral so could you imagine getting condolence flowers that long after the funeral? I feel it would bring up a lot of emotions. OP may just be starting to heal and then gets funeral flowers!

    I think op should talk to one or two people, especially if there is someone who would be proactive about the situation.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Nahh, there’s no way the boss planned it. Does anyone even send funeral flowers two months after the funeral?

      At my dad’s funeral, one of my many distant cousins walked up to me and my mom and said “I wanted to send flowers, but wasn’t able to do so in time. I promise I’ll send flowers to your home” and then never did. (It will be the 10th anniversary of his passing this year, so safe to say we aren’t getting flowers.) I thanked this cousin for the thought and maybe added something like “it’d be lovely”, then forgot about it. My mom, apparently, on the other hand, spent at least a year stressing out about a flower delivery suddenly appearing in her apartment, what to do, should she tip, how to thank the cousin etc etc. Point being, imo if someone says, this late after the fact, that they will send X, they don’t want to send X. They want to be remembered as the person who planned to send X and isn’t it thoughtful of them?

      In my situation, I truly didn’t mind, I’m not close with extended family and my dad was in a place where he didn’t need flowers anymore, and anyway, it’s the thought that counts and there was definitely a thought! In this case however, boss took up a collection from OP’s teammates. Yes, I think OP should tell. I like both of Alison’s scripts for it.

  52. Mr. R*

    I don’t want to comment on if this person is stealing or not, but not being able to find 5 minutes in their day to order flowers or the gift after she was asked about the flowers tells me what kind of boss she is.

    My mothers boss is a C-level exec of a company you have all heard of and took time out of their work day to attend my grandmother’s funeral and sent flowers to my other grandmothers grave site for the burial when she passed away.

    If you are a good empathetic boss you can make time to prioritize being a decent human

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, no shit, it takes five minutes to order flowers off the Internet. Most things only take five minutes to order. What a scammer.

  53. nonprofit writer*

    OP, I am so sorry for the loss of your grandmother and I sympathize with how painful this additional drama has been.

    Also just want to say in general, I’m flabbergasted reading these comments and seeing how common this kind of thing is?!?! Whether it’s intentional or “flakiness,” it blows my mind. Who does this? I collected money twice for a colleague whose young son needed major surgeries and required her to take a huge amount of leave, part of it unpaid. Both times, I was really scrupulous about tracking how much I’d collected, kept the money under lock and key (and separate from my own money of course), and told everyone who chipped in exactly how much we put on the gift cards for her. I also chipped in more than the average myself to make the gift come out to an even number, and of course paid the fee associated with buying a visa gift card. I’m not saying this to brag, I just didn’t think that was so unusual!

  54. Numbat*

    The kind of grandmother who would be a flower girl is the kind of grandmother that sounds like absolute joy to be around. So sorry for your loss.

  55. ijustworkhere*

    my heart goes out to you, OP. I’m so sorry about your grandmother and this terrible situation your boss has put you in. Just remember, reporting to your colleagues about what actually happened to their money is just providing information. The boss is the one who has created this awkward situation.

  56. MB*

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I disagree with Allison – I think you need to leave this alone. Sadly, even though you’re in the right, it’ll make you look petty.

  57. eeeek*

    The trick would be to identify the colleague who has least to lose and most standing to approach the boss, and enlist them as an ally. This colleague would need to be able to say “Circe, I remember that we gathered funds toward a flower arrangement or other condolence for Job’s bereavement; I was SHOCKED when I heard that flowers never arrived!!! I do hope our condolences were, indeed, received – do you know if that’s the case? do you need to look into it, to be sure everything is correct…? In any case, I thought you should know there are questions circulating – and I’m certain you wouldn’t want anyone who donated to think something’s amiss…”
    Or something like that.

  58. Coffee Bean*

    Hi All OP here!

    Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful and caring condolences for the passing of my grandmother. I appreciate all the support, kindness and words of wisdom towards this awkward situation with my boss.

    Update … it’s been 3 months now and still nothing from my boss! A month ago, I did mentioned to two of my coworkers the text exchange I had with my supervisor and that she hadn’t sent anything yet. They’ve not told me if they said anything to my boss or questioned the gift she got with the money collected. However, I’m not certain either of them feel comfortable confronting her about it.

    Another fun thing … earlier this month we were all chatting prior to starting our staff meeting about fun plans we have coming up. I mentioned my husband and I going to Florida to visit my parents, who my grandfather moved in with after losing my grandmother. My boss asks me “how’s your grandma doing in Florida?” (What?!? Grandma?!?) I coldly reply “my grandmother has passed”. Her face turned bright red and she then proceeded to justify her mistake saying she got confused. This mishap however didn’t spark my boss’s memory either.

    This circumstance is just another instance in which my supervisor “forgot” about me. A year ago she sent the entire team employee appreciation gift cards via email from various vendors. Mine was an email from Michael’s which said a physical gift card was sent to my boss’s house and the amount was not accessible virtually. I told my boss about it and forwarded her the email I received. Surprise! Never got that gift card!

    The biggest thing that bugs me is I haven’t said an official “thank you” to my team for their thoughtfulness (I haven’t received anything to thank them for — heck a nice card would have sufficed as that’s all I felt was really necessary). I’m not the kind of person to let a sincere gesture go unnoticed and in the world of etiquette I look bad.

    Anyway, as most of you guessed my supervisor and I have a long history of issues. She’s a real trip! I’ve been holding on for awhile to my employer in order to be vested in our retirement system. Thankfully, I am now fully vested! I am most definitely actively looking for another job. Wish me luck!

    1. Coffee Bean*

      Oh, I totally forgot to mention at the staff meeting my boss gave a presentation on accountability and led a discussion on the topic with our team. Hmmmmm, the irony!

      1. allathian*

        Oh dear, the irony indeed.

        Good luck with your job search, I hope you’ll have some great news for the Friday thread soon! Your boss is a horrible person.

        And once again, I’m sorry for your loss.

  59. Spicy Tuna*

    Someone at work died and the company set up a donation site for his family and matched the donations. At the same time this happened, it came to light that another employee had been embezzling money from the company. During the course of the investigation, she stated that she had purchased a $500 Wal Mart gift card on behalf of the company for the deceased’s family. HR had to call the family to ask if they received a gift card – they hadn’t and it was completely awkward for everyone.

  60. Michelle Smith*

    I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you are able to update us in the future about how this situation with your boss worked out. My immediate thought upon reading the headline was THAT’S THEFT! and nothing in the post changed my mind. You’re right to be upset and I’m sorry you’re dealing with that on top of your grief. You all (including everyone who contributed) deserve better than this.

  61. Aspiring Great Manager*

    oh, oh, oh, the worst kind of people

    In my view, situations like this call for the grateful and clueless approach. Just email the contributors and say it’s been busy and tough, and you don’t want to forget to thank them when the item arrives, so sending thanks now because you’ve heard there was a kind collection. Then, let the chips fall where they may. It’s their money, they’ll decide if they want to fight about it.

    Obviously you are hurting, you’re going through a terrible time in life. But focus on your grief and taking care of yourself, sending strength and solidarity.

  62. Andrea*

    I really disagree. I think the OP needs to chalk this up to an unfortunate incident and move on. Bringing this up with the manager OR coworkers makes you the petty person trying to insist on a nice gesture. I don’t see how you win by roiling up your coworkers against your boss.

    You are not owed flowers for a personal loss. You are there in a work context and making people pay for being overlooked puts a personal slight front and center against people who have power over your career.

    1. Rhiannon*

      Did you read the letter? It’s not about the flowers or any other nice gesture. It’s about boss taking up a collection for flowers for the OP, which the OP hasn’t received, and OP wants her co-workers to know that their monetary donations remained with boss. It’s theft. By the boss. Intentional or not, boss kept the donations.

      How in the world is that anything like “Bringing this up with the manager OR coworkers makes you the petty person trying to insist on a nice gesture…You are not owed flowers for a personal loss”?? Just…wow. WOW.

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