VP is pressuring everyone into choreographed dances, boss eats while on the phone, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. VP is pressuring everyone into choreographed dances

My mother is a long-time elementary school teacher. She’s very good at her work: she’s popular among the kids, her classroom is a jewel in her school often shown to visitors, and her test scores are high.

This year, her school has a new, right out of school vice principal who has decided to tackle low morale among staff with mandatory spirit days, costume contests, and an obsession with “going viral” on social media (think noisy and disruptive parades in the hallways, dunking booths for fundraising, all sorts of “funny” stunts for TikTok). The VP’s latest plan for the upcoming holidays is to have teachers participate in long choreographed dances for schoolwide programs to entertain the kids — filmed and posted online, obviously. My mom is a diabetic in her sixties with a light palsy who goes to bed at 4 pm to rest up for the next school day. Is this not some form of age discrimination? “This woman is killing me” is my mom’s daily complaint of the VP. How can my mom tactfully explain that these high energy, often physical stunts are unfair to older or disabled teachers? The VP keeps careful tabs on participation and regularly cajoles those who aren’t “doing enough.” (Never says anything about actually teaching, though!)

Simply organizing these events isn’t itself a legal issue — the law would only come in if your mom explains she needs to opt out for physical reasons and is denied, or if she’s penalized for not participating after that. It sounds like the VP is inching right up to that line, if not already over it (with the careful tabs on participation and the pressuring people who aren’t doing “enough”). Someone needs to point out to the VP that they need to lay off the pressure and people of all ages could have reasons for not participating that the school needs to respect.

Has your mom said directly, “Physically these events aren’t options for me, so I’m not able to participate”? Or more broadly, “You know, these events are high-energy, physical activities that aren’t safe for many members of staff, including me. People need to be able to opt out without pressure or penalty”? In an ideal world, she’d be able to say this to the VP directly … but if she’s doubtful that’ll go over well, she might have better luck talking to the VP’s boss directly. She could also talk to her district HR and make a formal request for accommodations, but this is a situation where a more informal conversation with someone in authority might get the job done too.

2. I have a LOT of vacations planned this year … when do I tell interviewers?

This year will be a wonderful one for me — both my partner and I are turning 30, and we are getting married! On my calendar so far this year, I have a solo international trip planned for my 30th, an international trip planned for his 30th with his family, a friend’s bachelorette party, my own bachelorette party, our wedding, and our honeymoon (roughly in that order). For the record, I am very grateful to be able to afford to travel so much! I was not in this position a few years ago and am more than aware what a privilege this is. Much of this travel is already booked.

At my current job, I have plenty of PTO banked from last year (and accruing this year) to accommodate all this travel. However, this job has not been a great fit from the beginning (great org to work for, it just does not suit my skills or interests at all) and I have begun applying in earnest to roles that suit my strengths more. To my surprise, I’ve started receiving interview offers much earlier than anticipated.

When is the hiring process is it appropriate to bring up the unusually high amount of travel I’ll be engaged in this year? Too early, and I fear they won’t give me a fair shake as a candidate even if they could accommodate my travels. Too late, and I fear coming off as unprofessional or duplicitous. If a company simply cannot make it work, I respect and understand that need. I’m also happy to take unpaid time for travel that’s already booked if the situation calls for it. I would like to know the professional etiquette in this situation.

In case it should come up: working remotely during a vacation is not something I want to do. I had some unpleasant work experiences pre-pandemic and now guard my vacation time like a very small terrier with a very big personality.

That sounds like an awesome year … and it’s also a lot of time off to ask a new employer to accommodate. One or two of these, no big deal. Maybe even three. But six separate trips, at least four of which sound like they’ll be at least a week long, if not more … it’s a lot to hit a new employer with.

If you’re committed to changing jobs this year, my advice is to consider if you’re willing to hold off on any of the so-far-unbooked trips and whether you can make the two bachelorette parties weekend-only so you can leave them off your request list entirely. But you’re still going to be left with a lot of travel. Once you have an offer, I’d frame it this way: “I have a lot of travel planned for this year; I had banked a lot of PTO at my current job to make it work, but I understand it might not be feasible to do all of it when starting a new job. My wedding and honeymoon on (dates) can’t be moved, but the other trips are (dates). Is there any way to make that work? I’d be willing to take the time unpaid if that made it possible to do, but I also realize it might not be feasible.”

Be prepared to hear that they’ll accommodate the wedding and honeymoon but not the two international trips — and decide ahead of time what you’ll do if have to pick the job or some of the travel. But the less you’re asking for, the more likely they are to okay it … and unfortunately this is a lot! Some jobs would work around it, but a lot wouldn’t. Among other things, it’s going to depend on the type of job, your seniority, their need for coverage, what they’ve approved/denied for other people, and, to some extent, how much they want you.

Wait for the offer stage, though. Most employers don’t want to start thinking about these kinds of scheduling logistics until they’ve decided to make you an offer, and it’ll seem premature if you bring it up earlier. (An exception to that is if they mention you’d be heavily involved in a project during dates you know you’ll be away — like if you’d be organizing their big annual conference that takes place during your honeymoon. That’s worth flagging up-front to save everyone time.)

Read an update to this letter

3. My boss eats while on the phone with us

I have recently started a new job (almost three months ago) and it has been going great so far. The problem I have is with my supervisor. He has a very different approach to what is accepted when on the phone with the team than I do. He often snacks, eats, and chews while on the phone/zoom with the team (eight people). He talks with his mouth full when on the phone, too. Also, he often dials in from the way to work (when in traffic, on the bike, or outside). He never mutes his microphone in these instances, but talks through them. While it is hard for me to understand him sometimes, most of the time we can understand him fine but I just find this really disrespectful. We talk on the phone/zoom a lot, as half of the team sits in a different city and many of us work from home.

How could I bring this up, being a fairly new employee, without any (or with minimal) backlash? I have asked a colleague about it and they mentioned that they also find it disrespectful, but “this is how he is.” I don’t think this is something I can just accept at work, but it seems to be such a small issue to change jobs over.

There’s not really much you can do about this. Your manager has bad phone manners. Particularly as a new employee, you just don’t have the standing to raise it … although even if you’d been there a long time, it would be tricky to raise.

If you’re genuinely having trouble hearing him, you can certainly say, “Could you repeat that? I’m having trouble hearing you.” And if there’s too much background noise from his commute, you can say that too — “There’s a lot of wind and traffic noise on the line — can whoever is outside mute themselves?” or even more directly, “Ron, we’re getting a lot of traffic noise on your end; could you mute?” But there’s really no way to tell your manager at your new job to stop eating during calls.

Would you find it any more bearable if instead of seeing it as disrespectful, you saw it as “no one taught Ron this was rude; how embarrassing for him”? If you’re really thinking of leaving over it, it’s worth at least trying to reframe it for yourself first.

4. I’m embarrassed when people ask how my job search is going

I semi-recently moved cross-country to be closer to family, thinking it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a job after the move. Turns out I was laughably wrong. My job search has been brutal, with mostly total silence and the occasional mid-interview-process ghosting. However, what I find most difficult is explaining my job search to casual acquaintances who see headlines daily that employers are desperately hiring. I don’t know who those employers are, but it would appear they most definitely are not the people I’m sending applications to! As a result, it feels like an admission that I am either extremely lazy or wildly incompetent if I cannot get a job in the current environment.

I do know 90% of this my own projection. The other 10% are unhelpful recommendations, which I know is a part of every job search, but now it’s based on headlines. Saying something like “it’s tough but I’m keeping at it” is more likely to be met with skepticism because from what they are seeing, it’s not tough! I’m looking for a way to answer to the question of how the job search is going that will let people know I’m genuinely trying and don’t want suggestions or to answer more questions about it.

You could try, “Have you seen all the layoffs in the news lately? The job market has changed in a lot of fields.”

But I’d rather you sidestep the topic entirely than try to justify to people that you’re looking hard enough! When the subject comes up, why not say, “I’d love to talk about absolutely anything other than job searching — I’d be so grateful to think about something else.” You could add, “I promise I’ll update you as soon as there’s anything to tell.”

Read an update to this letter

5. The saying “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”

What is with the concept of “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”?

While in my experience there have been some managers that made it easier for someone to consider switching jobs, I’ve also been in enough management positions to recognize that sometimes your manager doesn’t have the fill-in-the-blank-whatever to change the things that would encourage you to stay. Maybe it’s a change in culture, maybe it’s a change in other ancillary things, or maybe it’s something that rises to the top of your personal life needs that requires looking for something else … you get the idea.

My awesome previous boss at my previous job asked me this question before I departed — and it really bothered me in that I knew they didn’t have the ability to change the reasons why I was leaving, and I felt it would be a disservice to him to say, “Yeah, this is why I decided to look for a new job, but it’s not you, it’s with the other things you can’t control.”

Maybe it should be, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave leadership / merger / structure / culture changes.”

Yes, a more accurate saying would be “people don’t leave jobs, they leave management.” Sometimes it’s the individual manager, but other times it’s management policies that are tying that person’s hands, or creating a culture you want to escape, or so forth.

Of course, people leave jobs for entirely different reasons too — more money (which isn’t necessarily a reflect on their management), a desire to do work the current place can’t offer, something really appealing about the new job/company that the current one doesn’t offer, a desire for change, moving across country, and on and on. You could have a company staffed entirely by fantastic managers and people would still leave; that’s okay and normal. So I don’t think the saying — either version of it — is entirely accurate, but it does capture the fact that a lot of departures are because of management issues, rather than the person wanting to escape the job itself.

{ 595 comments… read them below }

  1. Ms Frizzle*

    OP1: is your mom in a union? I think an informal conversation with a union rep would probably be my first step. They don’t necessarily have to get involved in any formal capacity—that can get antagonistic—but might have good advice.

    1. Ms Frizzle*

      And if they need to get formally involved that’s not necessarily a bad thing! I just mean that the union can be a resource short of filing a grievance or having a rep come to meetings or whatever.

    2. Educator*

      This was my first thought too. If union leadership is meeting with district leadership on a regular basis, it would be really easy for them to casually say “hey, we are hearing from some members that pressure from New VP to participate in physically demanding activities for social media is becoming problematic for those with health issues.” They might not even need to mention your mom’s name. If I had heard something like that from a union leader when I worked in district leadership, I would have immediately been on the phone with the VP telling them to reign it in…and I might have looked at their job performance more comprehensively to see why they had so much time for this sort of thing.

      Not directly relevant, but I also wonder if the VP might be violating student privacy laws. On the rare occasions when our communications team went into schools to take photos or videos, it had to be very carefully orchestrated to avoid getting students whose parents had not explicitly consented in any of the shots. That’s hard to do when filming a hallway parade. But I know these things are different from state to state. At any rate, if the district leadership is anywhere close to reasonable, they will want to know about this, and the union is a very reasonable communication channel.

      1. Woah*

        Yeah, this raise my eyebrows too. My foster children are under protective orders and aren’t supposed to be photographed or videoed at all- it could endanger their lives and the lives of others if their families knew where they were. Sometimes in haste to be fun or cool people do things that make the most vulnerable of us even more susceptible to mistreatment.

        1. lifebeforecorona*

          The privacy might indeed be a good start to curtail this “fun activity”. Because of the pandemic and school closures the local news was covering a story a day it seemed. All of the filming of kids showed only their feet or wide blurred shots of kids playing. Personally, I would not to pleased to spot my kid in a Tik Tok video either participating or in the background.

        2. sundae funday*

          Yep my first thought was the privacy concerns…. It seems unethical to me to post pictures and videos of children online without explicit, written permission from their parents, even those not under protective orders.

          I see a lot of teacher content on TikTok and they blur out the kids’ faces… but it still makes me extremely uncomfortable. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I would not be okay with their teacher/principal posting them online, even with their faces blurred.

          1. Selina Luna*

            I don’t watch TikTok (not bragging; it’s just an area of media I don’t consume), but the teachers on YouTube whom I follow don’t show students at all but play both “roles” if they need to simulate a conversation with a student, a parent, or another teacher. They play-act a little bit so that privacy is protected.

          2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            I do not know about TikTok, but the school my nephews attend have an instagram account, but it is private and they only allow parents and approved family members access. My sister had to provide them with my information so that I could follow the account. They do show the kids’ faces, and my sister seems ok with it, despite keeping her own accounts private. I honestly think it would make sense to find even that school’s social media use concerning, but I am not the parent, so it is not my concern.

            That said, even if private or with kids’ faces blurred, I think it terrible they are expecting the teachers to agree to be on social media doing things that look completely ridiculous. If I was a teacher, I might accept needing to be on social media with a picture of me handing out an award or even speaking at the head of my classroom, but if I am not a dance teacher, I would not find it acceptable for them to have me do a dance and post it to social media.

            I am honestly disturbed too that a just out of school inexperienced individual who does not know the difference between being a VP and being a pep team coach to unwilling cheerleaders got a job as a VP to begin with!

        3. Selina Luna*

          I had a student decline to participate in my thesis project for this reason (I wouldn’t have asked if I had known his situation).

      2. allathian*

        Yes, this. And even if parents consent to the photos and videos, I’m glad that in Finland where I am even quite young kids are allowed to opt out, certainly teenagers who may be self-conscious about appearing on photos and videos.

        1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

          Yes. My kids started opting out of photos as early as second grade. Especially for social media. They have a right to privacy!

          1. DataSci*

            I started letting my kid opt out of social media when he was three. I’d ask him if he wanted me to share pictures with “Mommy’s friends on Facebook” (locked down) , and would respect a no. Now I’m off social media and he’s not on it yet so there’s a blissful window of not worrying about it.

            1. Sunny*

              It’s great that you let your kid say no, but respectfully, does a 3-yr-old have any clue what they’re consenting to if they don’t say ‘no’? My teen barely understands the implications of social media permanence.

              It’s a parent’s prerogative to post their kids or not, but pretending it’s ok bc a 3-yr-old was allowed to “opt out” is disenengous.

              1. Marni*

                I feel like this is a case where the parent was teaching a child early on that they have the right to participate in that decision. The parent had already judged that the pictures were OK/safe to share in their judgment, and by asking the three year-old for their thoughts they gave them veto power, even if the three year-old understanding of social media wasn’t perfect. That laid the groundwork as they grew up for knowing their desires wouldn’t be run roughshod by their parent.

                1. DataSci*

                  Yes, this. It’s the same idea as the “you’re the boss of your body” model of consent letting toddlers choose whether they want a tickle game, or not forcing them to hug Grandma. A kid explanation of a larger concept.

              2. An Australian in London*

                Re. teens not understanding the implications of social media permanence:

                I know several parents of teens and tweens who changed their children’s attitudes to social media by pointing out that anyone with childhood and teenage social media photos online could never work as a spy.

                (This is a real concern BTW. I’ve read interviews with current spybosses saying there will be no covert or undercover operatives in the next generation because of ubiquitous photos against real names.)

      3. Emmy Noether*

        I did give consent to pictures/videos of my daughter at preschool, but that was with the understanding that they would be circulated among parents and the occasional picture used for the website or a brochure. If they started putting stuff regularly on youtube or social media trying to go viral, I would retract that consent right quick. I would also rethink the preschool entirely.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I also wonder if the VP might be violating student privacy laws.
        This was my first thought. You plan to film my child all day long, posting to the internet, hoping some clip will go viral? On no you aren’t.

        1. BuffaloSauce*

          For my kids I sign a release at the beginning of the year, allowing any pictures to printed or shared. Now my school district doesn’t post much to social media (of kids anyway). They post the occasional pictures of kids at award ceremonies.

          I am not saying I necessarily agree, but its possible a release was signed by most parents in the beginning of the year.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I signed those releases too, with the understanding that this would mean a photo of my child might appear in the newsletter to illustrate “our kindergarteners learned about chicks this month.” Going from “a still photo that might be seen by other members of the community–maybe just Ms. Donahue’s class, but maybe parents of the whole elementary school” to “a video we are trying like heck to rack up millions of views on” is a shift of many orders of magnitude in exposure. If parents learn of this I’d imagine a lot of permissions revoked. Because the surest way to go viral is to have something go hideously wrong, and then your child gets to be an “agony of defeat” meme forever.

          2. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

            My daughter’s school list what we can opt-in to and out of. I’m fine with brochures and flyers; the Catholic schools in my diocese are banned from using Tik-Tok so no risk there.

            As a former school comms person, this had all my alarm bells going off. Unless EVERY kid had parents who opted into EVERY photo release, you run the risk of violating the parents’ consent.

            Also, most parents sign those thinking of flyers and brochures and the occasional FB post, not a freaking audience for a Tik-Tok dance party.

          3. Observer**

            I am not saying I necessarily agree, but its possible a release was signed by most parents in the beginning of the year.

            Most is not all. The kinds of videos that the VP is talking about are hard to do while avoiding specific kids. Which means that even if you have less than 10% of kids whose parents signed a release, it doesn’t mean that something like this is going to fly.

            Another thing is that many of these releases are fairly narrowly written, which would makes some of this stuff a significant change. And even when the parameters are not explicitly written, there is a good chance that the understanding would have legal weight – enough that any district is likely to not want to touch that with a 10′ pole. Also, a parent can VERY easily rescind that permission, which many parents will do if they realize how things have changed.

            1. sundae funday*

              I may overthinking it… but I could see this getting into some really sticky territory where the kids whose parents don’t sign a release are, like, sequestered into a certain area so that they aren’t filmed….

              And yeah, parents sign those releases with the expectation their kids pictures be circulated internally, maybe a cutesy little newsletter that has absolutely no chance of going viral. My mom is a teacher, and their school has an app that’s basically like Facebook but only for their school, and the videos/pictures can’t be downloaded.

              I don’t have kids, but I would be rescinding that permission FAST the second my kid was on TikTok….

              1. Observer**

                I may overthinking it… but I could see this getting into some really sticky territory where the kids whose parents don’t sign a release are, like, sequestered into a certain area so that they aren’t filmed….

                I hope not! I can’t imagine a better way to destroy any shred of morale left in the place.

          4. Lenora Rose*

            The thing with those releases is that if a student, any student, anywhere in the picture/video has parents who have not consented, it can be a serious issue. A teacher can get in trouble with a parent for a single shot in Instagram. When teachers post to social media, they’re careful to vet their pictures, and the program they use to share daily or weekly schoolwork with parents is designed so parents can’t download or copy any photos.

            Case in point, I had a teacher friend who had her class do a music video as a combined arts project. The kids chose the song, sang it, choreographed their own dance bits, created model art items, signs, carefully chose their spots… the kids who didn’t want to be ON video had options to do the filming or the editing or play accompaniment or craft the items, so there were ways to participate. And the final video still could not be given back to those kids or shown to their parents until the very very end of the school year because *one* parent still had not signed off an exemption for her no video policy even though she’d verbally agreed when her kid asked to be filmed. The teacher had no intention to spread it past the kids, families and school staff, but because it had to go home in a format where the kids *might* be able to post it, it was delayed for months.

            1. Avid TikToker*

              There is no choice but to comply with this, of course.

              But as someone who like sofia media, boy would I be giving a piece of my mind to the parents who didn’t consent, particularly the one that consented verbally but not in writing, thus delaying the release of the video.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                I am scratching my head at how you picture this confrontation unfolding. Give all the pieces of your mind you want, mount a tiny desk and give a stirring declamation about how a delay in permissions to videotape the child is a delay in the release of the video to all social media platforms–parents will not blink.

              2. Observer**

                boy would I be giving a piece of my mind to the parents who didn’t consent,

                That’s the kind of thing that would justifiably put your job in jeopardy in most well run places. You do NOT pressure parents to consent to videos of their children being made public. I do not care how much you “like” social media! Parents have an absolute right to black this stuff. And if you can’t deal with it, you should have nothing to do with any service involving children.

                1. Avid TikToker*

                  I don’t mean I would do this as a teacher. I mean I would do it as a fellow parent. My kid is denied the chance to shine on TikTok because little Taylor’s parents didn’t want to sign a consent form. You bet I would be sour at Taylor’s parents and pressure them to sign.

                  It would not put my job in jeopardy because my relationship with my kids’ school is not my employer’s business.

                  This may not be a popular opinion, but it’s what I would do.

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  ATT, do you even have kids? Because I am easily picturing the stone faced reception to your pressure.

                1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                  That person is more obsessed with their kid being a social media star than in the actual well-being of anyone else’s child, it seems. I feel like social media is addictive for some people, and if it gets to the point where you are annoyed your child will not shine on TikTok because another parent reasonably wants to keep their child off that platform, it is time to take a break and do some thinking.

              3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                That is a really disrespectful position on your part. Post yourself to social media if you like, but you have no business posting anyone else without their consent, and certainly not their kids. And verbal consent may be enough for a one-time post of a friend, but for a post by a business in a professional capacity displaying one’s child? No, that is not enough. There really is no need to be posting videos of other people’s children in that way in the first place.

                Also, note the comment above where the commenter has foster kids and a court order that they cannot be videoed or photographed and have it posted to social media for their own safety. Just because someone verbally said ok a few months back, it does not mean that circumstances have not changed that give them good reasons to withdraw that consent. Maybe they noticed some suspicious activity related to their own social media posts of their kids and have since locked it down. Maybe a situation has developed involving stalking. When it comes to the safety of children, you should really be checking each and every time. The last thing you should be concerned about is a delay in posting. The post is not necessary at all.

              4. Lenora Rose*

                I don’t think other parents knew why there was a delay at all, and I’m not even so sure I have my facts exactly right on the delay (It’s been a couple of years, this was before Covid). The teacher followed up as best she could until it finally came through, but she couldn’t exactly vent *to the parents*.

                And it could, for all I know, be something like a child really wanted to be on video but the parent had had stalking/custody issues, so they agreed in the face of their kid’s enthusiasm then had second thoughts. it could be they didn’t care. (It could even plausibly be that the child changed guardians and households halfway through the year, though I *don’t* think that was it in this case, as I’d think that was memorable. I *now* know of cases where that sort of thing has come up from the admin side, though.)

      5. Observer**

        Not directly relevant, but I also wonder if the VP might be violating student privacy laws. On the rare occasions when our communications team went into schools to take photos or videos, it had to be very carefully orchestrated to avoid getting students whose parents had not explicitly consented in any of the shots

        That’s a REALLY good point. And I think that is actually *is* directly and highly relevant. Because it speaks to the real probability that she’s not thinking things through.

      6. Clisby*

        That struck me, too. At least in public school, we parents had to sign (or opt out of) releases of student information. Not just photos, either. (I was OK with photos and names, but nothing like exact age or address – but I absolutely could have refused to allow any of it.)

      7. Milkshake Duck*

        The teachers’ and staff’s privacy is an issue as well. If VP gets her dream and something really goes viral, these people could end up being doxxed and harassed. There are individuals who will eagerly do opposition research on anyone with even a moment of Internet fame, and will spread their findings far and wide.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Yeah, I would definitely lean on this as well as the kids’ collective privacy issues. I would never want my image online online this way–the doxxers live to ruin strangers’ lives and this is opening a door to their abuse.

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I wholeheartedly agree with this. I would not be ok with an employer forcing me to dance (not a part of my job) and for them to video it and put it on social media. I would feel humiliated. I do not even put pictures of myself on social media, except maybe a professional portrait shot for linkedin or something. I understand maybe doing a quick video where I am doing some public aspect of my actual job, but not this!

    3. Sandgroper*

      Yeah, your mum needs to speak up! It sounds horrendous, without any limitations!

      FWIW at my sons’ school there’s a teacher who is not a fan of these shenanigans and has a 15yr history of acting grumpy intentionally at them – he’s the grumpy cat of school concerts, school book parade day, school assemblies. It’s a long term running joke that the kids love now… and he’s even been gifted a grumpy cat tagged “insta” frame to carry around. Maybe she could suggest similar? But she shouldn’t have to :(

      1. sundae funday*

        I actually love that he gets to be grumpy teacher, lol.

        Although sadly… I’m not sure it would work for women. Men are kind of “allowed” to be grumpy about stuff like that… I feel like women (especially teachers) are expected to be “good sports” and mega cheerful or else they’re a [word I don’t think I should type here]….

    4. Juggling Plunger*

      The other thing with a union is that they can act like the HR department that employees wish that they had, but don’t. You know the issue with employees in many jobs thinking that HR exists to serve them and solve problems for them and then finding, when something really matters, that HR just exists to serve the employer? A union can act like that HR department we all wish we had (my wife is a unionized teacher, and has experienced this a couple of times).

      Also, they don’t need to go to extremes to get things done – for the smaller stuff my wife’s union has been able to get problems solved with a fairly light touch, but it’s a light touch coming from someone with real power.

      1. Mockingjay*

        The VP keeps careful tabs on participation and regularly cajoles those who aren’t “doing enough.” (Never says anything about actually teaching, though!)

        I think a union would be very interested in this last statement. I’m not in education, but I thought how teachers are evaluated is set by the district and/or contract. Suddenly being evaluated on participation points which have no relevance to classroom success and are likely interfering with actual teaching – I’d raise the roof about this.

        1. ExpatReader*

          When I was teaching I had a clause in my contract, ‘other duties as specified’. This is incredibly broad and for a reason. An example: I was a band director. At one point my district decided that all band directors should get their bus driving licenses because the district didn’t have enough drivers to cover our trip requests if the times crossed regular before/after school bus times. Never mind that having a CDL can impact your personal license and insurance – I was supposed to be able to drive for my own field trips. Enough of us protested that they didn’t go through with making it mandatory, but had they made it mandatory and had I refused, I could have been fired under that handy ‘other duties as specified’ clause.

          That doesn’t make it a smart way to run a school or district but we’ve all seen on this blog that that doesn’t mean some higher ups won’t try to do it.

          1. Lydia*

            Yes, but that was directly tied to teaching or at least potentially providing a service to the school you worked for. TikTok videos would not reasonably fall under “other duties as assigned” no matter how the VP tried to argue it.

            1. Avid TikToker*

              Sure they do. This is the 2020s, most people love TikTok (not all obviously), and using multimedia has always been part of school. Today that means TikTok.

              The anti-social media crowd can opt out, but I and others get to judge you if you ruin a fun project for us.

              1. Rhiannon*

                Someone upthread wrote that the children she fosters must be protected and thus she opts out of social media accordingly.

                Is it she who you’ll judge?

              2. Zelda*

                Your fun is more important than teachers putting their energy into teaching, and parents protecting the safety of their children?

              3. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

                And we get to judge you for putting your own ego over the welfare of your and other people’s children–as well as the welfare of other adults.

              4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                No, they do not in this case. It might be reasonable for an employer to ask for a professional picture or have you do a video discussing your work, or record you (with advanced warning) doing a part of your job, like standing at the front of your classroom teaching your class. But unless you are a dance teacher, there is no reason you should have to dance for a social media video. And frankly, these videos will reflect poorly on the school to any remotely rational adult.

                If dancing does not rationally fall under “other duties as assigned,” and it clearly does not in this case, then participating in a TikTok video post where you dance is also not going to rationally fall under that heading.

        2. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I feel like this whole letter is a missed opportunity for Alison to tell the OP that the mom might think about trying to rally other teachers who think this VP is totally missing the mark on what is important: teaching, helping kids learn, keeping kids safe. The way this VP is carrying out her school spirit madness is misguided and counterproductive at best, and it seems like the VP is neglecting all her other duties (maybe not, but if she never says anything about actually teaching it seems like that is indeed the case). The VP’s actions seem like just the tip of the iceberg for someone who is a very poor fit for the role. I would think teachers who have been at the school longer than the VP would have the standing to say something to whoever is in charge of hiring for the VP position and at least voice their concerns that the VP is distracting them from their actual work duties (or, in OP’s mom’s case, physically harming them), possibly compromising student privacy, and actually having the opposite effect on school spirit than is intended by all these shenanigans.

          1. Ann Perkins*

            I came here to say something very similar. If OP’s mom is a popular, well respected teacher, she likely has the standing to talk to the root of the issue with the VP. “I appreciate that you’re trying to tackle the very difficult issue of low morale among teachers. While I don’t want to speak for every single teacher, I can say that broadly speaking, social media involvement and dunking booths are more likely to make the issue worse for a variety of reasons. We already have a lot of work on our plates as is. If you want to help with the morale at school, some things I would suggest would be…” and then talk to her about what she’d like to see for collaboration from the administration.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            If I was a teacher at the LW’s school, the best way to raise my morale would be to listen to actual educators at said school about real issues and try to organize solutions, not turn me into a dancing bear because Tik Tok fame apparently cures all ills.

            1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              They’ve been doing school plays for many years long before TikTok ever existed, so there is still no need to post it on social media. Besides, in what school play are all the teachers expected to do a choreographed dance? The kids may do one, but then it should only be posted with the written expressed consent of the parents and with care taken to ensure that anyone who has not consented or whose consent is withdrawn is not included in the video.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          Yes, I would be very interested in a VP that is mistaking the cover for the book to this extent.

        4. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I totally agree with your point, but a note of caution that not everything in teaching comes down to evaluations (which you could probably fight depending on how your district interprets “other duties as assigned”). Bad principals and vice principals often use teaching assignments to punish teachers who haven’t been sufficiently enthusiastic. For example, let’s say OP’s Mom teaches grade 5 and would hate grade 1, a bad administrator could easily say that an experienced teacher is needed in the grade 1 class, or just that the stuff needs a shakeup and assign her to grade 1 for next year. It happens a lot, sadly.

    5. Isabelle*

      Commenters have made good points about the students’ privacy. I wonder what the rules are for staff privacy. I would not want to participate in these activities and definitely would not want them uploaded to TikTok.

      1. Allonge*

        Exactly. Putting staff’s pics and bios online can already cause some issues; something like a dance-off is way out of line and should not be expected. And I am in multiple videos of my org.

    6. Random Dice*

      Or have a conversation with the principal. I have similar fatigue and pain issues, and no way I could add strenuous long exercise to my work day, which already shreds me socially and physically.

      Plus, ya know, I need to work when I’m at work.

      She’s young but if she’s in a position of power over so many people, she needs to learn, and fast.

      1. H2*

        Yeah, where’s the principal in this? She should have already shut this down, and an excellent long-standing teacher should easily be able to have a quick word or even an email to get this curtailed. I’m honestly kind of confused about that.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        I’m disabled – I suffered a stroke 25 years ago. This kind of “dance” and “spirit” BS would have me looking for another position, or going onto social media myself on how horribly ableist this crap is. And that’s after I brought it to HR and my union.

    7. Delta Delta*

      This was my first thought, too. While some teachers might like/not mind the stunts, etc., I’m sure there are others like your mom who don’t. This is the sort of thing the union is helpful for, and partly why it exists.

    8. Rex Libris*

      I’ve been in education and libraries my entire career. There are way too many “professionals” in both that think creating a circus is way more fun and exciting than actually, you know, focusing on the service they’re supposed to provide. The VP is obviously one of them.

    9. Zap R.*

      Seconding this. My dad was the welfare officer in a teachers’ union for decades; a not-insignificant chunk of his job was devoted to managing fallout from mandatory fun. I guarantee you this will not be the first time your union has dealt with something like this.

  2. Fily*

    LW5: I think the saying is a reflection of the fact that for a majority of people, everything could be perfect about a job, but if the manager was awful, and they had another option, they would leave.

    A terrible manager has an incredible amount of impact on an employee, more than most other things in a job. Yes, absolutely people leave jobs for many reasons. And the best manager often cannot prevent someone from leaving if there are good other reasons for them leaving. But a bad manager alone will cause someone to leave if they have other choices, and many people will even go to a job that is worse in some ways (pay, benefits, location, etc) to escape a bad manager.

    I knew before you said you were a manager that you were a manager, because you were so defensive about it. You can’t even admit that there are managers that drive people out of jobs, just that there are some that make it easier for someone to leave. This letter screams notallmanagers.

    Maybe you do advocate for your employees. Maybe you can’t change things for them, on a broader level. But how often has your actual management been the reason someone left? You will always be the last to know, because those employees are counting on you for a reference, so they have a massive incentive to keep you in the dark about your role in their departure.

    1. Jujyfruits*

      Agree. I’m basically leaving my job because of my manager and management. But if my manager was more supportive it would go a long way.

      1. lifebeforecorona*

        Me too! I did a list of what was good and bad about my job and the current manager was the tipping point to spark a new job search.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        Totally. I left two jobs in a row where the real problem was in upper management, but if my direct managers in either of those jobs had been supportive, engaged in regular communication, or heck, even been present in the office more consistently, I might not have been quite so desperate to leave.

        1. ferrina*

          Conversely, a good manager can allow you to survive or even thrive under a bad upper management. I was in a situation where a certain manager was the buffer point for the team. Even though the upper management was a mess, she shielded her team well enough that they really liked coming to work.
          When she left, the entire team turned over within a year (previously around 15% attrition)

          1. Gracely*

            This! My boss and grandboss are great–the management above them? Not so much. They definitely shield us from the worst. If we lost my grandboss, I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire building turned over within a year or two.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I worked at a job where my grandboss’ reporting chain changed every 2-3 months. However, since my boss and grandboss stayed the same and acted as a buffer, very little of the upper-level dysfunction filtered down to me.

              That is an example of a job where I left because of the job itself, rather than management. I was good at A, and both the company and I thought I could do the related job B.

              I could not.

          2. Divergent*

            Yes. And even just compassion, solidarity, and the most reasonable possible interpretation of policies can go a long way when there’s no way to change anything else substantive.

          3. Employed Minion*

            I wonder how the managers managed (heh) to be that buffer. How did they stop the changes from going down the chain? Where I work now, changes are coming down and they will impact my dept.

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

        I would want to clarify what actions equal supportive, because so many managers seem to think supportive means cooing at me in a soothing noise and telling me they sympathize, rather than fighting a continual fight with upper management to change things. I don’t want sympathetic noises, a donut and shrugging. If a manager just shrugs, “I can’t do anything,” then of course nothing changes.

      1. CantRememberNamesI'veUsedHere*


        ” I’ve also been in enough management positions to recognize that sometimes your manager doesn’t have the fill-in-the-blank-whatever to change the things that would encourage you to stay.”

    2. Danish*

      We’ve seen enough letters that include a line like “and working for (that manager) destroyed my mental health and made me a nervous anxious wreck for the next five years”. It is SO EASY for one awful manager to, literally, ruin your life for a time.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Usually accompanied with something like “this is my dream job in every other respect”.

        The saying definitely is meant to call out the disproportionate impact a manager can have on employees. And I think we need to keep the saying, because managers need to have that top of mind in everything they do.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I’ve had a job I loved and thrived at turn into a hell job that destroyed my self image just because my direct manager was changed and turned out to be a controlling, manipulative, gaslighting SOB. The first time I didn’t even look for work for six months, I cashed out my 401k because I was a complete wreck. So essentially the jerk f’ed me out of a chunk of my retirement, too. After that I knew what a manager bully looked like, so it wasn’t quite as devastating when it cropped up.

          But the experiences have made me incredibly cynical. This is too bad, because it takes me a long time to trust a manager. I probably have PTSD from that one job, even though it was 35 years ago. If it had been my first job ever it would have warped me more permanently.

          I seem to have been a default target for bullies – I was bullied in school, and quite a bit in my early career. I now reflexively push back or go full grey rock when bullying behaviors show up, even if they are not aimed directly at me.

          The two things that will have me starting to job search, even though I hate it, is bullying or intransigence on the part of management, or them announcing a merger that I figure will lead to layoffs or other abusive games by management. Even if I have a great manager, a merger will send me looking for the exit.

          I’ve been in the work force for over 40 years. I’ve had managers who I would die for, managers that I wished would die horribly, and just about everything in between. I’ve had jobs with one manager for several years, and jobs where they changed managers with the seasons.

          So yes, people leave because of managers and management. After layoffs, this is my second most common reason for leaving a job. Sure, I tell them it’s for a “better opportunity elsewhere”, but part of it being a “better opportunity” is a subtext of “because I won’t have to put up with my jerk manager.” I wouldn’t be looking if the manager and their management was not causing me problems (this includes underpaying, jerking me and/or other around, abusive work hours, etc.)

          IMO, if managers really took this fact on board they would be better managers, whether they were first line managers, or managers of managers, all the way up to the C suite.

      2. There You Are*

        Oh, yeah. I still have regular nightmares about That One Manager I worked under for only a year and half back in 2008-2009.

        Everything else about the job was fine. But she managed by a combination of playing favorites and PIPs. As in, she would choose you to be her favorite and then, when she felt that maybe you’d learned too much about her, would put you on a PIP. It was as predictable as night following day. And it felt like she was punishing people for not living up to the pedestal she’d put them on when she picked them to be The Favorite.

    3. John Smith*

      Very well put. My current job would be perfect where it not for toxic and dysfunctional management in my department. My direct manager is an officious, incompetent clown. His manager is a bullying narcissist and that person’s manager is nowhere to be seen or heard of. God knows what the rest of them are like. I’m job hunting solely to get away from these managers. It’s not my organisation or job (which I love, btw) that I’m leaving, it’s the managers in it that I am escaping from.

    4. Sherm*

      Yeah, there is no hell like a bad manager. Most everything else you’d commonly find in a workplace is more tolerable, more easy for one to say “oh well, I’m still getting paid.” Job hunting is not fun, so many people aren’t inclined to do it unless their work situation becomes awful, and it often takes a bad manager to get to that awful point.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*


        I can mostly live with less than ideal jobs if my manager is good and tries to blunt the impact of the dysfunction. But I can’t work for a manager who abuses me or my coworkers, or is otherwise a garbage manager.

        When I find myself wishing for some catastrophe to avoid having to deal with work it’s time to leave.

    5. Sally*

      I knew before you said you were a manager that you were a manager, because you were so defensive about it.


      I have stayed in “terrible” jobs because of a great manager (chaos everywhere else, but they made sure my work had a lane and I was compensated well) and left “great” jobs because of a terrible manager (the work was fulfilling and team was fantastic, but they took credit for all my success and created problems I had to solve).

      I can even sort of put a price on how much a good manager is to me: $20,000. That’s how much I could make at another company but I stay because I am supported. If my boss left or I got transferred, I would start taking those recruiter calls asap.

      1. Valancy Trinit*

        Ooh, thank your for saying this. I need to begin putting my own price on good management. (Right now, I’m somewhat near the top of the salary range for my qualifications and location, and my manager is a very reasonable person, so depending on my risk aversion the answer might be “priceless.”)

        1. Ranon*

          Mine was about $5k this time around (I had two competing offers and took the lower one because the leadership seemed a lot stronger at that company- and so far they’ve been the best folks I’ve ever worked for in terms of vision and how they treat people- and I have awesome coworkers because they also rock at hiring and creating a good culture). But I probably would have gone up to 10k between the two just on interview vibes.

      2. Random Dice*

        Honestly my price for a good manager is much higher. I won’t ever again stay at a job with a bad manager. It poisons my whole life, and drains away precious mental resources. I’ll gladly take a job that isn’t quite what I want for a good manager .

    6. Library Lady*

      I left my last job for a lower hourly pay because of horrible upper management that drove away a third of our entire workforce in 2 years. It ended up being a good move bc I ended up taking home more money each paycheck due to amazing benefits, but I didn’t know that when I applied. My immediate manager at my original job was incredible and I loved the work I did, but she couldn’t shield us from a very toxic new administration, and she left shortly after I did.

      Conversely, one of my favorite jobs I ever had was working in the campus print shop for 4 years in college because I loved my manager and the people I worked with. It was mind numbing, repetitive work that a lot of people would despise, but I look back on that job with immense fondness. Granted, I was only working 10 hrs a week on work study, but the people made the job truly enjoyable.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, there’s a certain amount of dysfunction that an immediate manager just can’t shield their subordinates; the manager at Twitter who wrote in is an excellent (if extreme!) example. It matters how much a manager goes to bat for their reports, but if the CEO is a chaos goblin who lays people off by tweet and is trying to bankrupt the company there is a limited amount they can do.

    7. PylonShouldBeMoreFamous*

      Thing is, an awful individual manager is usually a symptom of organisational malaise: the organisation either tolerates assholes, or forces normal people into assholery.

    8. Allonge*

      I think it’s a misunderstanding of the validity of the saying: it’s a pithy sentence, not a science fact.

      There is absolute thuth in it, and people should be aware of what that is! But at the same time it’s closer to common wisdom like ‘bird of a feather stick together’ and ‘don’t run with scissors’ – you would not build your entire life / work philosophy around it.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” –Niels Bohr

        So “birds of a feather stick together”, yes, but also “opposites attract”.

    9. JustKnope*

      I agree with this fully. I’m willing to put up with slightly crappier job conditions for a direct manager who could communicate clearly, give good direction, provide me flexibility and generally gives a crap about my well-being. Last year I left a great job because of a manager who couldn’t do any of those things (and left me with plenty of direct personal insults too). It’s not a hard and fast rule about the ONLY reason people leave jobs, it’s just a general truism about one reason.

    10. EvilQueenRegina*

      My old manager drove a lot of people out, but was definitely the last to know – while the team might know that “the final straw for Cordelia was when Dolores shouted at her about X”, Cordelia might have said something like “my old job offered me something too good to pass up” in her exit interview, and Dolores would have taken that at face value. (One person did tell Dolores to her face that she was the problem, but then when her new job wasn’t what she hoped it would be and a vacancy came up, she did come back, so knowing Dolores, she might well have thought that meant she couldn’t be that bad.)

      Something that didn’t help was that following restructuring, Dolores ended up being managed by her friend and neighbour, which led to a dynamic where he felt a bit weird about managing her, she also wasn’t happy about it, and he pretty much left her to her own devices, while it also made us less comfortable about going to him about any issues with Dolores.

      Having said that, it could be very easy to say it was “all down to Dolores” when that wasn’t always the case. When Dolores was eventually investigated, the coworker who initiated that said something like “Dawn didn’t want to come back from her secondment because of Dolores” (the question had been raised of Dolores pulling her from it at one point; it ended up not happening), but that wasn’t the whole picture – a big part of Dawn not wanting to return was about her preferring the work she was doing in her new role. I did ask Dawn once whether, if she could do her new job but would have to be managed by Dolores, she would still want it, and she was stumped in the moment.

      1. ferrina*

        Bad managers are often indicative of a bad or malfunctioning system. Bad upper management will make bad decisions when promoting or hiring- I ended up with a massively underqualified incompetent manager because her boss was incompetent and had no experience working in our field (and really should not have been running that department).

        It’s rarely a single issue, but there’s usually a straw that breaks the camel’s back.

        1. Yup*

          Bad managers are often indicative of a bad or malfunctioning system. Bad upper management will make bad decisions when promoting or hiring- I ended up with a massively underqualified incompetent manager because her boss was incompetent and had no experience working in our field (and really should not have been running that department).


          I am so, so sick of this problem. I am a digital specialist and the biggest problem is managers who have absolutely no idea what my job is, or what it involves, but assume that they do, and proceed to make it practically impossible for us to complete our jobs.

          Other than just plain old interference, there is also the problem that they don’t actually know or understand what good, bad, or competent performance actually looks like. We have a nightmare bully type in management at the moment, and they keep putting our very best performers on unwarranted PIPs because they have the temerity to gently, politely and professionally point out how the work actually needs to be done.

          I’m working to have my whole team who I manage transferred, just to get away from this awful manager. I’m already in their sights because I refused to allow one of my direct reports to be put on a PIP for actually knowing how to do their job correctly.

    11. Betty Flintstone*

      I think the problem is that this statement is thrown out as if it’s always the manager. I’ve been working for 25 years and changed jobs several times, but never because of my manager. However, I am now in a situation where my manager is awful and if/when I am able to leave, it will be 90% because of her. That said, it’s not like the job is fantastic either so it’s not even 100% because of the manager.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Right. It’s not a hard and fast rule that it’s always the manager/management that is the catalyst for someone leaving. My job search last spring, it had zero to do with the leadership of my company. They were really everything a good company does. There were just things in my personal life that made it necessary to move on, otherwise I wouldn’t have even thought of leaving.

    12. Sal*

      Yeah, has this person just never had a bad manager? I have a wonderful job with a big boss I personally both like and admire and I had (past tense) a wonderful direct supervisor. The new supervisor is … not. And as a direct result of that, I’m looking around when I know for a fact I wouldn’t be if my old supervisor (or a better new supervisor) were here. I was literally googling this phrase last week to try to explain where I’m at with this job to my spouse—funny to see it here so soon.

    13. Pudding*

      I think it’s also a reflection that a turnover anomaly is almost always related to a management problem.

    14. Loch Lomond*

      Yes, if you don’t feel like the person with direct power over you is operating in good faith, is sensible, trustworthy and competent, there’s not much that can make up for that shaky ground you feel like you’re on daily.

    15. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Agreed. My fantastic colleague just left for another position because he finally got fed up with our terrible manager. He has/had a great relationship with senior management and when they asked him how much more he was going to make in his new job, they were shocked to learn he’s actually taking a pay CUT to get away from her. I know they’re working on a correction plan for her challenges but I think that statement – that a fantastic employee would take a pay cut just to leave – speaks volumes about the current situation.

    16. Jessica*

      Yup. It’s one of those things that’s not *universally* true, but is very true.

      There are two ways you can voluntarily leave a job: You can be pushed out, or you can be pulled out.

      Being pulled out of a job is leaving it primarily not because of issues with the job itself, but because of external reasons–you get offered something better, you want to retire, you’re moving, you need to work different hours and this job can’t accommodate that, etc. That doesn’t mean that your relationship with your job was perfect–there might be multiple reasons you’re leaving–but it means your primary driver wasn’t I HAVE TO GET OUT OF THIS JOB.

      Being pushed out of a job is leaving it primarily because of the job itself. The driver is not that another opportunity just came along and was better, or that the logistics of the job aren’t working with the logistics of your life–it’s that you have to flee this job.

      In my experience, people get pulled out of jobs for all kinds of reasons, but when they get pushed out of a job, it’s overwhelmingly because of bad management and specifically their individual manager–either as an individual, or as the face of the company, or both.

      The flipside is that while people leave managers, they also stay for managers, both for good and for ill.

      I’ve stayed in toxic jobs far longer than I should have because I loved my manager and saw them trying to shield their people from the toxic company, and I know plenty of other people who have done the same.

      It’s usually a bad idea–if the company’s toxic and your manager is your sole shield, eventually they’re not going to be able to shield you anymore for one reason or another–but it does speak to the power managers have to shape the way their reports experience their jobs.

      1. Jessica*

        I should add, I’m not saying this is fair or realistic.

        I’ve been a manager, and I’m pretty acutely aware that sometimes your ability to shield your direct reports is minimal.

      2. Hrodvitnir*

        “There are two ways you can voluntarily leave a job: You can be pushed out, or you can be pulled out.”

        What a great way of putting it!

    17. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, clearly no one thinks that saying is a hard and fast rule that is true 100% of the time so it seems like OP is being rather oddly defensive about it. Comes across a bit #NotAllManagers.

      If you think it doesn’t apply to you and your reports that’s fine. But it’s still a good thing to just generally remember how much a good or bad manager can impact an employees morale and can factor into their career decisions.

    18. Beth*

      LW #5 did not sound like a manager to whom I would be able to bring a problem with a reasonable hope of having it recognized, let alone actually spend time and energy trying to help.

      The handwaving attitude of “I’ve also been in enough management positions to recognize that sometimes your manager doesn’t have the fill-in-the-blank-whatever to change the things that would encourage you to stay” sounds incredibly tone-deaf to my ear — as if they have never heard of abusive managers, or have refused to believe any stories about them.

      Yes, I have had a manager that did not have the — fill in the blank with — basic human decency to treat anybody well, but instead made crude homophobic jokes and screamed a lot, which did not encourage me to stay. Or the one who secretly smoked in our non-smoking building. Etc.

  3. Consul, the Almost Human*

    “What is with the concept of “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”?”

    It is a crock from the same cadre that force customer surveys on the lowest-level employees and measures nothing that would ever blow back on executives. The objective is always to force those with little to no power to do more out due to some sense of guilt. Yes, there are scads of bad managers but there are also scads of bad jobs made so by those at the top.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      There’s also the aspect of the managers being the members of the hierarchy most staff are directly involved in. You might have a toxic leadership all the way down, but the one directly making your life difficult is likely your direct supervisor.

      1. Consul, the Almost Human*

        Yes I am sure that happens and there are plenty of case histories here to support that. But, in large companies such as the one I work in, the first and second level managers have zero authority and/or budget to do anything except to be the buffer between the workers and the leadership caste. The systemic issues all come from high up but the annual survey/engagement questionnaire limits us to evaluating the lowest level manager only.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          “the first and second level managers have zero authority and/or budget to do anything except to be the buffer between the workers and the leadership caste”

          Yep, that’s me. Out of 13 job bands at my organization, I’m at level 6 and I manage ICs at levels 4 and 5. My immediate supervisor is level 8, and the highest-level employee I have ever had more than 5 minutes of face time with is a level 9.

          I can approve my reports’ PTO requests if they comply with organizational policy. I can approve business expenses if they comply with organizational policy. I can approve benefit uses in accordance with organizational policy. A large chunk of my “authority” amounts to signing off that what my reports are requesting is allowed by policies set by the folks at levels 10-13 who wouldn’t know me if they fell over me in the street.

          The main things I have control over at my level are:
          * Making sure my reports have a reasonable workload and using my own capital to push back if there’s too much coming our way or timelines are unrealistic, with varying amounts of success.
          * Helping my reports navigate working with… let’s say, difficult personalities, in other departments by throwing some of my weight around when my reports aren’t being treated well by others at roughly my level or below, or by recruiting my own supervisors to intervene if it’s someone too high-level for me to challenge directly.
          * Giving actually useful feedback (like both explaining corrections when they get something wrong and specifically calling out when they get a new thing right, so they have a clear sense of what they should be aiming for), and remembering to say things out loud from time to time like, “Thanks for your hard work on this,” when they’ve just turned in a big deliverable.

          Basically, I can’t change much about what they’re going to be asked to do, to what standard they’ll be held, or what resources they’ll be granted. What I can do is make sure they have all the information they need, and be the buffer who catches all the shit running down from above me and turns it into constructive feedback and appreciation before it hits them.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            One manager I had said “My job is to be a shit umbrella for my direct reports.” They regularly protected people from the garbage upper management tried to pull.

        2. MurpMaureep*

          As a co-manager of mine says “what staff don’t get is that we are only empowered to say no [to them]”.

          The corollary is even if you shield your staff from higher dysfunction, you are not solving anything and only causing more stress and angst for yourself (because you are the one fighting with big wigs while constantly trying to soothe the feelings of subordinates).

          1. Danish*

            As a person who bounced back and forth between IC and “powerless figurehead manager who is there to make the lower employees feel better”, I’ve found that just telling your employees “I am only empowered to say no” helps. I mean, it doesn’t make them think warm fuzzy thoughts about upper management, but if they’re running into your NO over and over they’re already not thinking fuzzy thoughts. At least they will no you are Aware and have sympathy for their plight.

            1. MurpMaureep*

              I totally agree. In a previous management position where I had very little actual power, I was as up front as I could be with staff without being actively demoralizing (mostly). But that it’s a horrible place for middle managers to sit and burns them out just as much, if not more, than the employees they are alternately trying to protect and inform.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            I think it’s better to be straight with your subordinates than try to soothe their feelings. If your report really wants X, you can’t approve X, and you see no signs that leadership will ever allow X, it’s important to just tell your report that. Let them manage their own feelings and decide if it’s worth leaving over X.

    2. BasketcaseNZ*

      Yeah, my manager is pretty good (not the best I’ve ever had, but that is a *very* high bar) but I’m looking to leave because I am BORED.
      And there is nothing more I can be given at the moment, I am one of MANY people currently bored as a big suite of work has finished and the next project has dried up (too much corporate change).

    3. Emmy Noether*

      There’s nothing in that saying that specifies people leaving their *direct* managers. Those at the top are also managers, and they count. Your point, while valid, is in no way contradicting the saying.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Yeah, I definitely left the department head at my last job. Sure, had my direct manager been more effective, he could’ve shielded me better from my grandboss and made some of the intolerable things more tolerable, but in a well-run department with a good department head, my direct manager would’ve been fine (and, honestly, would probably have been better because he was getting support and management from leadership above him).

    4. Antilles*

      It’s not a crock, I think you’re just viewing the quote far too literally.
      “Manager” doesn’t mean exclusively your direct superior, it means anybody above you who’s supposed to be keeping things in line – whether that’s your direct superior, grandboss, VP, or the CEO of the entire firm.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Good point. I assume the people fleeing from Twitter aren’t doing so because of their direct supervisors; they’re fleeing because the CEO is a chaos goblin who is steering their company right at an iceberg.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Allison amended it to say “management”, which would apply here since it includes the upper rungs.

      Also, the fact that it’s not 100% doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

    6. Random Dice*

      It’s not remotely “a crock”. It’s a saying that has a large chunk of truth but isn’t an actual law of the universe. That’s what sayings do.

      1. Loch Lomond*

        Yes, people taking aphorisms literally is the most boring thing. You can find counterexamples to “once bitten, twice shy” too.

    7. Generic Name*

      I mean, I left my last job because my direct manager was an asshole. I enjoyed every other aspect of the job. So that’s one data point. That said, a company allowing a terrible manager to remain in place is reflective of overall bad management.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        That said, a company allowing a terrible manager to remain in place is reflective of overall bad management.


        At one job they actually promoted the jackass that led to over half the team leaving in six months, and 100% turnover in a year. He was real good at “kiss up, kick down”.

      1. MigraineMonth*


        Though presumable there’s some dysfunction above them keeping that manager from getting summarily fired.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I have always found this concept baffling. I’ve worked for three different large corporations since 2000 and every last one of them blew through middle management like they were Kleenex sheets. Why quit a job over a manager when you can simply sit back and wait for the next one and maybe it’ll be someone you like? Made no sense to me and I think you’re right – it’s a way to throw middle management under the bus. In my experience of mass exoduses (and I’ve witnessed quite a few), Alison is correct and most of the time people (including the middle managers!) do leave because of mismanagement and bad decisions at the exec level. But, ya know. Why put any blame on the CEO when you can point a finger at a supervisor like “see? they did not leave a job. They left YOU!”

      1. amoeba*

        I guess I just interpret the saying differently. For me, it absolutely includes bad upper management/company culture as well as line managers – as opposed to not actually liking the work/projects.

        (It’s certainly not 100%, anyway – but for different reasons.)

      2. Lenora Rose*

        And yet those middle managers are leaving because of their (upper) managers, which means in a way the very fact that middle management was blown through was indicating the problem was with managers, just not necessarily with *them*.

        I wonder, did anyone *really* think that this saying applied only to their direct manager and not to the tiers above that person?

        My husband’s likely worst job (the one where the company collapsed because the owner was arrested), his direct manager was a super nice guy, and still is. But it was definitely management that made a lot of it so toxic, just not *his* manager.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        “I’ve worked for three different large corporations since 2000 and every last one of them blew through middle management like they were Kleenex sheets. Why quit a job over a manager when you can simply sit back and wait for the next one and maybe it’ll be someone you like?”

        That’s far from a universal experience. Many managers last at least 3-5 years. My previous manager had been working for the org as a manager for over 20 years, which is a long time to wait for someone new to come in and fix the issues.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      What? No.
      The point is if I like my job, the actual work of my job, but my manager is crap, hard to work with, puts stuff on me that shouldn’t logically be part of my role, micromanages or otherwise makes me feel crappy as a human, I don’t want to work there.
      I’ve had a job where what the actual job was, was a great fit for me. I had no idea how dysfunctional the company really was until my manager left, and I got a new one who didn’t know what they were doing. And suddenly I realized all the internal garbage they’d been protecting me from so I could just do my damn job. New manager was not good in a dozen ways, and I left. That’s the scenario the expression refers to.
      Your last sentence confirms it: those jobs made bad by those at the top? That illustrates what the expression is getting at. If it’s made bad by the people in charge, and you quit because of them, then yeah, you’re leaving because of the management.

    10. Jam Today*

      It is absolutely not a “crock” and I’m puzzled that you could arrive at such a conclusion. I have had multiple jobs at companies where I enjoyed the nature of the work, the industry, the company direction and philosophy but had managers who were abusive, megalomaniacal, or just plain incompetent that left me so unhappy the best thing to do was walk away. I’ve also been at jobs where I *haven’t* done that and suffered for it.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        And on the flip side I don’t always love my job but I find my manager and I work together well which counteracts a lot of things that might otherwise bother me more!

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        I wouldn’t say it’s a “crock,” but I do think it’s so overgeneralized and absolute I’d call it false.

        It’s true that, generally speaking, management is the most important factor in whether someone stays at a job. The “best” job in the world will be awful under bad management, but great management can make a grueling/unpleasant/unrewarding job bearable.

        However…. sometimes people do leave jobs. They might have outgrown all the positions available at their current employer, and want new challenges that the organization can’t realistically provide. They might need/want higher pay than their current employer can offer. The work itself might be a really bad fit for them – for a mild example, the garbage dump I work at has had new hires quit because they can’t handle the smell of garbage. No possible management solution can make a garbage dump smell good, nor make it worthwhile for someone to stay in a job that literally makes them sick to their stomach every day. Sometimes the best solution is to realize that the employer and employee have incompatible needs or desires, and part ways on good terms without laying blame on anyone.

  4. Heidi*

    I wonder how the vice principal came to the conclusion that the low staff morale was due to a lack of choreographed dancing. Sheesh.

    1. Moron Managers*

      That VP sounds like a moron. The activities they’re forcing on the teachers are the type of things done only by someone wildly out of touch with the preferences of most humans. Alas, it reminds me of a family member who is one of the worst managers I’ve ever encountered.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        As a teacher, it especially bothers me from somebody in education as we are supposed to be aware of inclusion and different needs. I wonder how well this school is serving the needs of students with disabilities or additional needs or even those who are introverts. People who are sure everybody loves these kind of activities are usually even more adamant that all children do and tend to label children who opt out as anti-social or not team players or sulky.

        1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

          Yes! My kid had a teacher who sincerely believed all kids love sports. All class rewards were kickball because All kids love kickball. All events were loud or the kids weren’t having fun. It was their first year teaching the GT class. Half the kids, given the choice, would prefer a book over sports. My kid hated it.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            We had a teacher who used to punish us by cancelling P.E. classes. Given that P.E was my least favourite class, I was always delighted when people misbehaved/the class was noisy and the teacher said, “right, no P.E. for ye today.”

            I love that the school I currently work in has an understanding that not everybody enjoys such things and usually has alternatives/tries to accommodate kids who would find it difficult. And they are the same with the staff. Things like staff parties and other events are truly optional and nobody cares if you choose not to take part in stuff.

            1. Random Dice*

              Taking away P.E. is something I’d take straight to the top of the school. Fortunately the one time my kid reported that, the teacher reassured me that wasn’t at all what happened, she’d never do that.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                “The children are overly rambunctious. Better take away one of their few opportunities to use up some of that energy.” /s

            2. Critical Rolls*

              The worst thing is that it becomes a vicious cycle for kids who do like and need exercise. Misbehaving? Let’s remove your outlet for movement and burning off energy! That will improve your behavior!

            3. Curmudgeon in California*

              When I was in school a teacher cancelling P.E. as a “punishment” would have incented me to act out frequently. I hated P.E. all through school, so I would have wanted it cancelled.

              1. Giant Kitty*


                In high school, I learned that some of the PE teachers didn’t pay attention after you’d checked in, so I’d just put sweats on over my regular clothes, be there for roll call, then sneak out, remove the sweats layer in the bathroom, and hang out in the library til lunch time when the class was over.

            4. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

              I marched the New York State mandated PE hours into my daughter’s principal’s office over exactly this. It is against the law in NY to revoke PE. Not to mention a great way to put a real head of steam on a classroom’s pent up energy.

            5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              If misbehaving would have gotten me out of PE, I would have been in trouble all the time when I was in school!!!

          2. Hotdog not dog*

            I had a teacher who would punish students by sending them to the quiet corner to read. That was the only class where I misbehaved!

            1. MigraineMonth*

              My nephew’s first-grade class has a “cool down bench” where they can go if they’re getting overstimulated. I think it’s awesome, but it’s also not supposed to be a punishment!

            2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              This is like when I give my dog a treat to make him put down the piece of my mail he just stole and is about to shred up. It just means he is constantly trying to get a piece of the mail!!! LOL

          3. LadyVet*

            “Sports PT” was often a “reward” when my Army unit got high physical fitness test scores, but I am not particularly coordinated and could do much better on individual events than playing team sports.

            I remember asking if I could just run instead of playing football. I don’t even like running, but I know I’m better at it than playing football!

          4. Robin Ellacott*

            I had one of these too! Except it was dodgeball. And I was a gangly, uncoordinated kid with glasses, and dodgeball was a very Lord of the Flies experience for me.

            Teachers, and managers, need to remember not everyone is like them in likes and personality!

      2. Colette*

        The thing I find most out of touch is the idea that teachers need to learn a dance to entertain their students. A teacher’s job is not to entertain their students – their job is to teach them. They should do that by engaging them, and making the work interesting – but a dance that the students don’t participate in is not that.

        1. Citra*

          Yes! I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone mention that OP’s mom should maybe mention this to a few parents. If my kid was in that school, I’d be livid that the new VP is focusing on pointless, shallow crap like this–and teaching the kids to care about it even more than they may already do–instead of actual teaching and learning activities, and I would be going to the school board about it.

          I can’t believe I’m the only one, either.

          1. Czhorat*

            Agreed. The lack of inclusiveness is the biggest issue, but we shouldn’t forget that learning and filming a choreographed dance is *work*. That’s time the teacher could have spent working on new lesson plans, grading papers, brainstorming improvements to the curriculum, or any one of a number of other things that would actually be useful.

            If social-media inspired dances are THAT big a priority to the VP a teacher could even be encouraged to form a social media club in which the students learn about trends, learn how to participate safely, and create their own spin on whatever viral dances of the day they want to engage with. That’s not a *great* idea, but it’s better than this.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              If social-media inspired dances are THAT big a priority to the VP a teacher could even be encouraged to form a social media club in which the students learn about trends, learn how to participate safely, and create their own spin on whatever viral dances of the day they want to engage with.

              Yes, this. Or even the VP could start the social media club and leave the teachers out of it. But requiring it of the teachers – all teachers?!??!!?? – or even all students is total nonsense.

            2. JB*

              My wife is a teacher and she barely has time to handle her actual work. I’m astonished they even have time to do this nonsense.

          2. Ali + Nino*

            “If my kid was in that school, I’d be livid that the new VP is focusing on pointless, shallow crap like this–and teaching the kids to care about it even more than they may already do–instead of actual teaching and learning activities, and I would be going to the school board about it.”

            Hell yeah! This is ridiculous.

        2. Random Dice*

          I don’t think they’re even thinking about the students, or the teachers. I think the VP thinks the world will say “wow Elementary High is SOOOOO cool.”

          People who are addicted to social media likes don’t understand that not everyone has that addiction. (I do actually think it’s a true addiction.)

          1. Capybarely*

            And that’s so weird to me, too, because it’s not as if elementary schools are in a situation where “going viral” could increase any metric that is valuable to the community. It’s not a restaurant or band, they don’t need buzz to increase their fan base!
            And, as so many other said, when it comes to low morale, if this is the only tool that the VP has, then there are many other problems. At least the infamous morale boosting pizza party in the break room doesn’t require additional time outside of work!

      3. sundae funday*

        I don’t think she’s a moron… I think she’s young. OP says she’s “fresh out of school,” so it sounds like she’s at most 22 years old.

        tbh I blame whoever decided to hire a barely-adult who presumably doesn’t have teaching experience outside of student teaching to the position of vice principal. And I also blame the principal who is allowing this to go unchecked….

        Don’t get me wrong, some of the blame goes to the VP directly because a lot of 22-year-olds have a lot more sense than to do this.

        1. Autumnheart*

          How does somebody become a vice principal at 22? Is this in a state that basically doesn’t give a rat’s ass about teacher credentials or what? My state requires at least a master’s degree to even be considered.

          1. NeedRain*

            A lot of places don’t give a rat’s ass about credentials b/c there’s a shortage of money to pay qualified people… but yeah, a “young person” in the job of a vp is likely to be at least in their late 20s at least.

        2. Clisby*

          I doubt that. At least where I live, it would be almost unheard of for a school district to hire a 22-year-old VP.

          It seems far more likely to me that this is a person with some teaching experience who has just recently graduated from a higher degree program (MA, PhD).

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I’m wondering how someone gets to be a VP straight out of school.

      I’m not a teacher, don’t have kids, and am on an entirely different continent, and I can tell you that low teacher morale in the US right now is not something that can be fixed by gimmicks or ‘going viral’.

      Also, giving people extra work very rarely the solution to low morale.

      1. Asenath*

        This. I have never heard of anyone being hired as a VP in a school who has not had experience in the classroom – usually, considerable experience in the classroom.

        And I am so glad I went to school in a time and place when “school spirit” barely got a mention. As a student, I would have hated an emphasis on such activities.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          My father became an assistant principal only after 20 years of teaching, gaining an advanced degree, and getting a certificate. That was years ago, but I could things have changed that much? For the sake of the students, I hope not.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Hiring someone straight out of school could just reflect the teacher shortage.

        But someone with no experience doing the job is a terrible choice to address low morale. You would want this person to at least start off with a listening tour and then figure out how many of the reasons teachers were frustrated were things that the school could address. (I’m guessing very few, between parents and county/state level stuff.)

      3. Nikki*

        I’m assuming LW means the VP was a teacher and recently completed the masters or PhD required to be a VP.

        1. Clisby*

          That’s exactly what I thought – nothing else would make any sense at all where I live (South Carolina).

      4. Kiki is the Most*

        Thank you from a non-teaching perspective! Would a manager do this in an office? As a teacher, I didn’t mind the first time our school did this (and I’m not the dancing, costume type). However, by the 5th year of doing the same thing, we got detailed instructions on camera angle, costumes, shots, time, music, edits, etc. for my team to use when we did our part. Seriously. Not only did my team push back, many did, and the admin team ignored it. It was a painful-to-watch 10 minute video of teachers waving their hands to music because we were all over it at that point.
        We want to build morale, too! But the gimmicky antics that seem to be “inclusive” and “fun” are the exact opposite 99.9% of the time.

        1. Allonge*

          That’s the ridiculous part: sometimes this can be a fun exercise for some people. But tracking who is there and making it overcomplicated / all about the viral is unlikely to make it so.

          And it certainly will not solve major issues with pay and working conditions.

        2. EPLawyer*

          THIS. Some people are going to absolutely LOVE doing this. Some are going to HATE it. Most people will be in the middle with an Oh well guess we have to do this attitude, that results in the bare minimum. Which achieves nothing.

          Also, trying to force something in order to go viral rarely works. the best viral videos are ones that just happen. You have no idea what is going to actually grab the public’s attention. Copying stuff that has ALREADY gone viral will fail. The public has moved on.

          I echo what was said above, where is the principal in this? If they are on board, then go above their head to the superintendant.

          1. Random Dice*

            I mean, tWitch (RIP) and Alison knew that a baby announcement that was a block dance party by all their professional dance friends would go viral.

        3. Observer**

          Would a manager do this in an office?

          Uh, you haven’t read the archives here, have you.

          I recall a few similarly insane letters over the years from non-teaching jobs.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            The entire debacle where a woman threw a positive pregnancy test at their germophobe coworker happened because they wanted a pregnancy reaction video *on their company’s official social media accounts*.

            1. Observer**

              In case anyone wants to know why I used the word “insane.” It’s totally not an exaggeration!

        4. Violet Fox*

          I have a friend who left a job because his company got bought out and the buyer had people performing skits and songs on stage for others as part of their onboarding. He decided that this was a bad sign in general, and a really bad match for him.

        5. sundae funday*

          tbh I remember being in elementary school and the teachers did this kinds of dances and stuff all the time. I honestly remember thinking the teachers got more out of it than the kids did, though, because most of us didn’t really care. Or at least I didn’t. I remember one teacher belting out “I Love Rock n Roll” when I was in fifth grade… the teacher was really into it… and I remember having some second hand embarrassment that she was treating this like American Idol or something.

          But that was also before social media, so there was no nonsense about filming it and no worry that it would show up on Facebook or whatever later.

      5. Adultier Adult*

        I am a teacher- Academic Nut- You are the smartest person on the Internet today. Please consult in our building LOL

      6. Observer**

        Also, giving people extra work very rarely the solution to low morale.

        Now, that CANNOT be right. After all this highly educated, fresh out of the oven, au courrante with the latest fads (ahem, educational trends), says that the way to engage teachers is by giving them more work and treating them like working clowns. Who are you to say otherwise?!

        The scary thing is that the VP is probably thinking this with a straight face ~~sigh~~

      7. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Perhaps the district superintendent is a member of her church and she blackmailed him for the job after finding out about his extramarital affair.

          1. Double A*

            Seriously! Is this Barbara’s daughter writing in on her behalf? I almost think it’s a spoof letter, but alas it’s quite believable.

      8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Also, giving people extra work very rarely the solution to low morale.

        Not in education, but we did have the experience at my current job when, after several years of severe mismanagement, everyone snapped and gave honest, accurate answers on our annual employee survey.

        For that, we were rewarded with endless meetings (that was before Covid, so we are talking sitting in packed conference rooms for hours) to discuss our feedback; a new engagement committee created to schedule fun!!! events to improve our morale (we complained about faulty time tracking and got a bowling outing… things of that nature) , and as a cherry on top, my grandboss telling us that on the next survey, we needed to exceed last year’s marks by 10%. As in, we were required to give higher marks on the survey than what we’d given in the previous year. We gave up after that. He might as well have told us that we were never going to be heard and to stop trying. Ironically, this grandboss quit two years later and (correctly) named “mismanagement” as the main reason for leaving. Don’t know why he didn’t try simply giving his management higher marks next time.

    3. KateM*

      I’m wondering if it is a VP specifically for culture/after-school programs or someone like that – I think our school has one.

      1. Observer**

        So? It’s still stupid. Actually even MORE stupid. If you have had some training in the matter, you should REALLY know better!

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        They should not be allowed to call anyone in that role a VP. They also should not be calling anyone without classroom experience or at least significant experience doing culture/after-school programs at real schools VP.

    4. UKDancer*

      I know. Many people hate dancing that’s why they don’t do it (unless drunk at weddings). Making people dance is a recipe for making them hate you.

      I am a keen amateur dancer but I don’t do it at work or where my colleagues can see because it’s a personal and private thing. I also don’t make my staff or colleagues dance because I actually want them to enjoy working with and for me.

        1. UKDancer*

          Well occasionally I am. I’ve done a couple of dance shows which are somewhere on Youtube and I’ve been caught on video at tango events before now. But I am a bit fussy about what I do and where. And I certainly wouldn’t show my colleagues where the clips are.

      1. Francie Foxglove*

        I like to dance, and I’m not self-conscious, *but* the word “choreography” makes my hackles rise. If the VP is going to bring in a choreographer, I can see one of two things happening. Either they’re a pro who thinks this is beneath hir and will bark orders and tell people they’re terrible, or they’re an amateur who’s seen all the Step Up movies multiple times, and will bark orders and tell people they’re terrible because they think that’s what pros do. I don’t need extra pressure on me in an extra activity. Who does?

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I doubt they hired a choreographer; it’s probably some dance copied off of TikTok that became really famous when a white person ripped off the original black creator.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      Teachers are an incredibly dedicated group who already have big workloads with trying to meet state standards, addressing the needs of different students, being in touch with students’ families/guardians, creating curriculum, putting in time off the clock for prep and grading, etc. How on earth in that context would anything positive come out of this VP’s efforts to add a time-consuming and physically/mentally burdensome activity like a dance–broadcast to everyone online no less? This from a VP who “never says anything about actually teaching.” The mind boggles.

      Having worked in education, this stuff is so irritating. I want to tell the VP, you know how you improve teachers’ morale? You ask how you can support them and what they need. And you listen to what they say and do your best to help. And I’m certain they won’t say, “What I need is to jump around to music, damage my health doing it, and have it on video for all to see.” Geez.

    6. I edit everything*

      “The dancing will continue until morale improves.”
      Just as painful as beatings, but public!

    7. Antilles*

      In my experience, terrible “morale improving” ideas are inevitably caused by one or more of the following things:
      1.) The VP doesn’t recognize it’s a bad idea because of some mix of inexperience/self-centeredness/stupidity.
      2.) The VP lacks the power to do anything useful to solve the real underlying issues causing the morale (no budget for raises, no ability to fire the most toxic employees, etc).
      3.) The VP needs to Do Something to look like they’re trying to solve the morale issue.

      Given that OP specifically mentions the VP is right out of school, I’m assuming it’s mostly #1 here. The VP personally loves dancing and costume contests and spirit days, naively assumes that everybody else will like that too, and therefore wrongly believes thinks it’ll fix up morale.

      1. The_Required_Name*

        Find it hard to believe I had to scroll this far down to see a mention of Abott Elementary. That is where my brain went immediately.

        1. MurpMaureep*

          Same here! I came to the comments specifically to see how many references to Ava there were going to be!

        2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          Me too! I heard an interview with showrunner Quinta Brunson, and she was like “What we are writing isn’t actually over the top, there are real Avas out their that teachers have to work for.” And lo and behold, here we have independent verification on AAM.

    8. Grumpy High School teacher*

      A few years ago we had repeated Professional Development days where the presenter thought it was “great” to loosen us up and have departments create raps and dance and bond. I don’t dance. I don’t sing. I found it humiliating. After several times of heading to the bathroom during our stage time I finally met with the presenter and told her how I felt and I wouldn’t be participating. I wasn’t going to make a deal out of it, or broadcast to everyone else, but I just wasn’t going to do it. I guess I felt able to do this because 1. it wasn’t administration and 2. I had just reached my limit. It worked out for me. I was at a private school and didn’t have the benefit of a union. In this case I wish I had.

    9. Meep*

      When I was in high school we had a trio of “cool” (aka hot male) teachers who all graduates from the school and did something similar with our VP. Maybe it was because I was ~edgy~ but it was cringy. Now past my teens, it is something that I find perfectly diabolical.

    10. Rex Libris*

      In my experience, these sorts of administrators attend far too many classes or workshops on branding, engagement or morale building, and decide that focusing on that 24/7 is way more important (read: entertaining) than doing their actual job.

    11. TiredMama*

      Yeah, I am scratching my head trying to figure out why the Vice Principal thinks the solution to low morale is to add to the teachers’ plates with all this extra stuff. Some people might truly enjoy it, and that’s great, but starting from the idea that it will boost everyone’s morale is a mistake.

    12. MigraineMonth*

      I love dancing. I pay for dance lessons and enjoy learning new choreography.

      If someone at work told me I needed to learn a choreographed dance for morale I’d laugh in their face.

    13. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Posted this at the bottom, but this is a better place for it.

      “The beatings will continue until morale improves”.

  5. Triplestep*

    LW#4, one way to quickly shut down any kind of question is to answer with “Ugh, don’t ask!” If you say this kind of light-heartedly with a hint of seriousness (and a wave of a hand if you’re in-person) people rarely push the point. If they do, you can say “no really … don’t ask”. It really does come off as good-natured, even though you’re literally refusing to talk about something. I honestly think people are happy that this answer doesn’t belabor the point when they’ve just unwittingly asked something you’d rather not talk about. You can both move on from it quickly.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Or, “I know you mean well, but I really don’t want to talk about job-hunting UNLESS you know of a definite lead on a position as a Senior Ungulate Wrangler in the zoology field.”

      (I am reminded of the author Sir Terry Pratchett, who had to announce to his legions of fans that he had Alzheimer’s. Anticipating that many of them would try to offer him weird banana cures and similar false hopes, he added, “I know it’s a very human thing to say ‘Is there anything I can do’, but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.”)

    2. PsychNurse*

      “Ugh don’t ask” is a great one! It keeps you from having to discuss it and also telegraphs that they shouldn’t ask you the same question next week too.

      The other thing to keep in mind is that people are really just making conversation. None of your acquaintances really cares whether you’ve gotten a new job or not— it’s like “how are the kids doing” or “so how was your vacation?” Any question can be uncomfortable to answer for a variety of reasons, but the asker never means it to be, they’re just trying to express polite interest in your life. So responding with “Honestly it’s harder than I thought, but anyway, I don’t really want to talk about it. How’s your XYZ doing recently?” will re-route the conversation, and the other person will take the bait every time.

      1. Mercurial*

        I would take it a step further than PsychNurse. It may be more that they are somehow trying to remove their own discomfort around your lack of progress. It doesn’t have to be your job to try to make them feel better about life by relating a success story.

  6. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP2 – maybe you should consider consolidating some of these trips together and taking a couple months off like Europeans do.

    Not trying to be facetious, I’m being serious. Even jobs that are “cool” with you leaving for a couple weeks for international trips might not always be cool with it. And sometimes, you might return to find out they’ve realized they don’t think they need you as much anymore since they functioned perfectly well without you.

    Travel is great, but it’s hard to balance so much travel and disruption with a new job.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      If several of these trips are close together, the other option is to negotiate a start date after the some of the trips are over, or just take a longer break in between the two jobs.

      1. Random Dice*

        I’d recommend she actually pause her job search. That’s just too much travel for a new job. Let the company you’re unhappy with deal with you taking a lot of leave, not the one where you want to make a good impression.

        1. So Tired*

          Yes, that’s what I was thinking as well. I know it’s not ideal to stay where you’re not a fit. But in this case, it’s better to stay there and continue looking when your traveling is done.

        2. Someone Else's Boss*

          Agreed. I think I’m typically a very accommodating boss, but why would I hire someone and start paying them if they’re barely going to work for the first year?

    2. Lyonite*

      And it’s not just a perception problem— at any new job it’s going to take a while to get up to speed, and if every couple of months you’re gone for a week or more that’s going to extend it by a lot. That’s not a good way to start a new job, and it’s the sort of thing that can be hard to overcome.

    3. Euro Splash*

      I live in Europe, and “taking a couple months off” is only a thing in the AAM comments.

      Yes, we have more vacation time, but no one below C-level in my country gets two whole months of vacation! We usually get about three weeks of discretionary days, with four we’re forced to use over Christmas week (as in, you can’t opt out). And even if you do have months of vacation time, you’d have to be VERY powerful in your org to get two months off at once; at every European workplace I’ve been employed at, anything over two consecutive weeks needs approval from the highest higher-ups.

      1. KateM*

        I wonder what teachers do in your country. In mine, they all get two months off and it is very much suggested they take these during summer, i.e. when school is off.

        1. Ariaflame*

          Maybe there they get paid to prepare material for the upcoming terms so they’re not trying to do it while doing everything else?

        2. allathian*

          In mine, teachers get the same 5-6 weeks off as everyone else, although kids get 10 weeks off in the summer and 2 for the Christmas/end of year break, as well as a week off for midterm in fall and spring. Easter break is just Good Friday and Easter Monday. But teachers are typically on vacation between the last week of June (after Midsummer) until the beginning of August (summer vacation for kids starts the second week of June and ends the third week of August). After the kids have left and before the start of the following year they have mandatory training/planning in June and August.

          Some early career teachers are unemployed in July and early August, as are substitute teachers.

          Teachers basically can’t take paid vacation during the school year. Substitute teachers are very hard to get, at least partly because they aren’t employed the whole year, and the few who are available are needed to cover for sick leave and parental leave.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            That’s interesting. In Ireland, we pretty much get the same vacations as the kids. We do have a week of mandatory planning time at the end of the summer holidays and a couple of staff training days each year, but we get nearly 3 months off for summer, two weeks each at Christmas and Easter and a week for each of the mid-term breaks.

            But yeah, that is unique to teaching. And we are limited in the holidays we can take during school time, though it can sometimes be accommodated.

            And yeah, at the start of one’s career, it’s not unusual to be on social welfare for the summer months. We do also have the option of supervising and/or correcting the state exams then.

            1. Clisby*

              I’m not sure how it is in every US state, but at least where I live teachers’ “summer vacation” is unpaid. In a lot of school districts they continue to get paychecks over the summer, but that’s because they’ve chosen to have their 190 days of pay spread out over the whole year.

        3. Allonge*

          In mine they are very limited in taking leave any time during the school year, and summer camps / supervision of optional student activities, training and planning eat up the rest of the non-school additional time in the summer.

        4. TechWorker*

          Teachers are a pretty special case and I suspect not included in what Euro Splash is thinking. In the U.K. at least schools are shut for 6 weeks in the summer, so that time is ‘off’, albeit sometimes with planning and/or training.

        5. münchner kindl*

          In my country, summer vacation for school is 6 weeks, plus 2 weeks for Christmas, 2 weeks for Easter and 2 weeks for Pentecoast.

          For the schoolchildren.

          The teachers – the older ones who are still public servants(1) – get ca. 27-30 days off per year. The rest of the time is preparation for the new school year, especially at the end of summer; grading classworks during the shorter vacations, teacher conferences because mid-term reports go out before Easter, so pupils can still try to improve their grades before they fail and repeat the whole year.

          Only naive people think that 6 week school vacation = 6 week holiday for teachers.

          (1) Because despite teacher shortages that were predicted ages ago – a whole age group from teacher boom in the 60s has reached retirement age – my state has decided to follow the US model where teachers are hired on limited contracts, instead of being made public servants, so they get fired = contract ends at End of July, and re-hired = new contract at start of September => trying to live 12 months on a salary for 10 months. And unemployment office denied their legal unemployment money for the interim “because you’ll be hired again in autumn, so you aren’t really job-searching” despite the employees paying into unemployment insurance while they were working, and needing the money and being legally entitled – but not having the time and energy to hire a lawyer to battle for 3-6 months each and every time.
          This is wrong, mmkay.

        6. ELS123*

          I’m pretty sure when “no one” is said. It doesn’t literally mean nobody. Yes, teachers have few months off in most places. Same with people in seasonal tourism etc. But I doubt lw is a teacher cause otherwise she wouldn’t ask this question

        7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          They are not permitted to take PTO when school is in session. In England (nb education is devolved, so I don’t mean UK) state (ie public) schools are open 195 days a year of which 5 are for staff training and no students. It would be truly extraordinary for a teacher to take PTO on any of those 195 days. Salary is spread equally across twelve monthly paychecks.

      2. Thistle whistle*

        I was going to say something similar. I get 5 weeks of holidays a year (std in UK, but occasionally you might get 6).
        That generally breaks down into 4 or 5 days around Christmas, a two week summer holiday, up to a week elsewhere and a few days scattered around for emergencies. Getting a break longer than two weeks is rare and needs negotiation and a really good reason (wedding/honeymoon etc). I once managed 12 work days but it was for a big birthday and was negotiated carefully and months in advance. Its generally frowned upon to take more than two weeks at once, as people need to cover for you.

        The only folk that get longer breaks are C suite execs who occasionally take breaks between roles switches or can book a 6-8 week (usually unpaid) sabbatical. But even then its rare. Sabbaticals are more for academics to go and do research.

        1. Thistle whistle*

          Thinking about it I think one employer may have had something in the handbook about longer breaks being negotiable but it was generally understood that it was for VERY special occasions, usually only taken by seniors and needed to go through lots of levels of authorisation (up to MD level).

          I knew of two people in 10+ years in a 3000+ person company that used it, a senior exec who took a break between senior roles and a (admittedly more junior) employee who managed to get 6 or 7 weeks off to go to Australia (he had just celebrated 40 years with the company and was turning 60 – and even then the MD needed to sign off).

          1. londonedit*

            Same. Pretty much everywhere I’ve worked, it’s been absolutely fine and perfectly normal to take a two-week holiday using the usual holiday booking system, but three weeks or more would require special permission from upper management and would usually only be for something like a honeymoon or a trip to Australia or whatever.

            I have 26 days’ holiday (plus bank holidays, as is standard in the UK) and it has nothing to do with sick time, so it’s literally holiday. I usually carry over five days each year and take the week before Christmas to make that into a two-week break (we close between Christmas and New Year and don’t need to use holiday for that) and I still manage to have one two-week holiday or two one-week holidays, plus assorted long weekends and the odd week off tacked on to a bank holiday weekend, etc.

            It’s pretty standard that colleagues will cover for you when you’re on holiday – you get as much work as you can done before you go, but people will always be happy to do the odd task to make sure things don’t just stop dead while you’re away. And of course you do that when colleagues are off. But yeah, a three-week holiday would, in my role, mean missing a lot of work and would definitely require more forward planning to make sure things still got done (we’re producing books and they have to move through the editorial schedule on time or they’ll be late going to press).

        2. Ferret*

          This is very job dependent. Where I work longer leave isn’t unusual but that’s because we are mostly project based, so it just needs a bit of coordination to make sure that the leave lines up with gaps or slow periods. Although most people aren’t really interested in taking longer than two weeks unless it is for a special occasion or they have family who live far away (eg my Australian manager who was going back home for the first time since Covid complete with a new kid who had never met their grandparents in person)

        3. BluntBunny*

          In my company you can holidays however you want can be all one go or spread our. Also you can apply to take unpaid leave I have seen 3 months and even 6 months not that senior either it isn’t common though.
          We can also buy holidays upto 10 days and carry over some.
          In Sweden they take 6 weeks off July-August

      3. AmericanExpat*

        I live in Europe too. Standard in my country is 4 weeks’ leave per year, industry standard is 5-6 weeks. I had 6 at my last job with 2 weeks carryover. People regularly took 3 weeks in the summer – no special permission was needed. I took 4 weeks at Xmas (1 week was office closure) the last 2 years. Even now I’m getting the OOO from colleagues at other places showing easily 4-6 weeks off.

        Now, for the most part I’ve never been able to take my full 6 weeks in the year because the workload was too much. But many people did with no issues.

      4. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, and I’ve always been able to take 4 consecutive weeks off for as long as I’ve been working FT. Not always for the exact time period I want, though. In my current job, I have one coworker who has the same job description as I do and we cover for each other, and that means that we decide our vacations between ourselves and our manager just signs off on whatever we’ve agreed.

        I work for a governmental agency, and vacation time is fully determined by tenure rather than position in the org chart, and it’s not negotiable at all. For the first year you get a certain amount, for years 2-14 you get 6 weeks, and once you hit 15 years you get about 7 weeks. Tenure carries over even if you switch jobs to another agency, a municipality, or central government, as long as you remain in the public sector and our collective agreement applies.

        Two consecutive months off would be pushing it, though, even if you’ve saved vacation days from the previous year. Although some people who’ve saved up lots of vacation can take more than 3 months off before they officially retire. The government doesn’t pay in lieu of vacation if it can help it.

        1. Been There*

          I’m in Belgium, and 4 weeks consecutive is pretty standard at my current company. Most people take that in the summer to cover school break. People even take 5 or 6 weeks, no problem. But that’s only possible in summer.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          I’m so jealous. I’m in the US and when I switched from one government agency to another, I lost a huge chunk of my banked vacation time. They refused to transfer more than 5 days even after promising me they’d transfer 10, so I basically lost a week’s worth of pay. The name on my W-2 (tax forms that show who your employer is) didn’t even change, but because I technically changed orgs, I lost out. The process you describe seems much more fair.

          1. Just Another Tired US Fed*

            Couldn’t have been the feds, your leave follows you no matter the agency it was earned at.

      5. Mongrel*

        “I live in Europe, and “taking a couple months off” is only a thing in the AAM comments.”

        I live in almost Europe, the UK, and while it’s not something you’d do at the drop of a hat it’s certainly doable. It requires some planning and lead time but nowhere near as onerous as you make it out to be,

        We get 28 days holiday and the EU law is 20 days, both of these are the legal minimums, so some will be unpaid or rolled over from last year. At best you can say “My work, or the places I work at haven’t or wouldn’t allow me to take 2 months holiday”.

        Europe is a hodgepodge of countries with differing rules & customs, so just saying “Europe does ” is a misnomer.

        1. TechWorker*

          The U.K. is still in Europe! We haven’t moved geographically :p

          I’m aware of a few people taking unpaid sabbatical type things, but most folks I know aren’t allowed to roll over enough PTO for it to end up as a whole 2 month stretch. Glad to hear some companies to manage to accommodate it though :)

          1. londonedit*

            Me neither – we can only roll over 5 days and they have to be used within a certain time frame. I have heard of people doing sabbaticals (one company I worked for would give you a one-month paid sabbatical in your 10th year at the company) but it’s unusual and as I said above, in my 20-year career it’s been unusual to be able to take more than two weeks off in one go unless it’s for a big trip or a honeymoon.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              You can’t roll over more than the extra your company has to give you, which is why 5 days is common.

              So say you, a full time employee, have 25 days plus bank holidays – that’s statutory allowance of 20 days plus bank holiday entitlement, plus 5 days extra. In general you can’t give up your statutory entitlement (hence the name) so you have to use or be paid for the 20+BH and can’t sacrifice it.

          2. Mongrel*

            “The U.K. is still in Europe! We haven’t moved geographically :p”

            Thanks to that certain decision a few years back I tend to think of us as ‘wannabe America’.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          I think what people are reacting to is the tone of “like Europeans do” as if we all casually did that every year. It may be doable, but it will take negotiation and some kind of saving up time or unpaid time or a sabbatical arrangement of some sort. Definitely not common anywhere I know of. I don’t know anyone who has actually done it.

          It used to be common in France (one of the coutries with the most days off) to take all of August off, but even that practice is getting less common.

          1. doreen*

            I think there’s a little extra to the tone – when people (not you) say things such as “like Europeans do” or “everyone in France takes all of August off” there’s a certain amount of invisibility involved. Obviously , not everyone in France takes the entire month of August off – I’m sure many people take their vacation in August and perhaps many take the entire month, but I’m pretty certain that every supermarket, tourist attraction, restaurant and hospital doesn’t close for the entire month and it seems like the people who work in those places are invisible to the people making the sweeping statements.

            1. AmericanExpat*

              At least when my American colleagues say it, they don’t mean that literally everyone takes off. They mean that enough people are talking more than 2 weeks in a fixed period (eg summer or winter), that the work in their sector considerably slows down. And at least where I live, plus the parts of France I frequent, it is common to see signs on shops, etc, noting August holidays. Not everyone obviously, but enough that it is noticeable.

            2. Loch Lomond*

              While that’s true, people know that (that it’s not literally everyone all August) and it just seems pedantic to feel the need to point it out.

            3. Marni*

              Not the hospitals I’m sure, and maybe not the supermarkets, but there was a time when if you went to France as a tourist in August, you could in fact expect many many attractions and restaurants to be closed for the month. (So it was not recommended to go.)

      6. The Lexus Lawyer*


        I meant more like OP taking a couple months off BETWEEN the two jobs, not from the old or new job

      7. Random Dice*

        What I see from family members in European schools is that they have a LOT more long vacations, but they’re more of ~2 weeks here, 2 weeks there; but shorter summer breaks (actually I’m not sure if they do summer breaks – I’ll ask). School vacations in the US are 1 week long, other than summers. Which are FOREVER.

        1. allathian*

          In Finland the summer break for students is from the first Saturday in June to the Tuesday or Thursday in the second week of August, when weeks are counted Monday-Sunday rather than Sunday-Saturday. So around 10 weeks.

          Daycares are typically closed in July, and parents who can arrange it, will time their vacation so that they can keep their kids at home. Some daycares are open year round to accommodate the kids who need it, but this will mean switching daycares for a month for some kids. When my son was in daycare, my husband and I were always able to take our summer vacation so that at least one of us was at home with our son when his daycare was closed.

    4. MK*

      Europeans have more leave, but we don’t take a couple of months off as a matter of course. For one thing, a lot of that leave isn’t discretionary, a.k.a. it’s specific days, and for another most people don’t want two months off, they want work-life balance, and working nonstop for ten months to do nothing for two isn’t that. People take two or three weeks off as their annual leave and use the rest of the time for three or four-day weekend trips and to accommodate their lives the rest of the time.

      Also, two months off for travel isn’t the dream people imagine; I have done it, though not for that long a time. You return disoriented and exhausted, you need time to adjust to a work schedule again, get back in touch with your work (and possible changes) and regain your momentum. In a new job that you haven’t fully mastered in the first place, it is likely to lead to underwhelming performance and leave your supervisor disappointed in their hire.

      OP, your year sounds great, but there are trade-offs for everything. It would be better to pause the search till you are done with most of the travel.

      1. AmericanExpat*

        Agree 2 months off isn’t necessarily a dream. It sounds stressful, but I have a small child. However, my leave has always been discretionary. There are separate leaves for illness, federal holidays, etc.

        1. MK*

          I meant that sometimes people use leave to describe all PTO outside of sick leave, so they say, e.g. 8 weeks, when in fact it’s 5-6 weeks, plus a lot of holidays that are fixed.

          1. AmericanExpat*

            yes but for Americans, 5-6 weeks as a standard is astonishing. And taking more than 2 weeks at a time is often unheard of in the US.

      2. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I have about 5 weeks of holiday per year and the statutory holidays on top of that. I spread it out through the year and wouldn’t want 2 months at once and then no holiday the rest of the time. I take 10 days in summer, a week for winter sun in January and some shorter breaks. I don’t know many people who would want all the leave at once.

        The only people who do want all their leave at once in my company are the Australian /NZ colleagues who want to go back to their homes for a longer break because of the travel time involved.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Some employers here do give the option of sabbaticals for a few months, though often only more senior staff are eligible and leaving just after you’ve been on one probably wouldn’t go over well. Sabbaticals do seem to be more common in the UK than the US, but it varies a lot by employer.
          I took 2.5 weeks off at the end of last year/start of this year, but probably wouldn’t take more than that in one go – plus, my office was closed for part of that time anyway.

    5. Indisch blau*

      I’m also in Europe. I get 30 days vacation (plus official holidays). We can take up to 3 weeks off at a time – if our projects are “under control”. More than 3 weeks at a time needs to be signed off.
      That said, at my company we also have a 6 month vacation embargo when you start. It’s usually no problem to get an exception of a few days here or there (or up to a week), but taking a total of around 4 weeks off in the first couple of months would be a problem.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        That sounds more like the way most of my European friends describe their vacation situation to me. The big thing is that they are more likely to take two or three weeks vacation at a time than we are. Two weeks is usually the max here and is not usually done every year (at least not until you are higher up in your career/company structure).

    6. Fluffy Fish*

      1. Europeans do not take a couple months off.
      2. Asking for a couple months off is going to look even more wildly out of touch than asking for 6 different vacations.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        At best, you could ask to delay the start date by two months, but I doubt most employers would agree to that. Very few would agree to two months of vacation.

        And yeah, I know Europeans have a healthier vacation/time off attitude than Americans, but while my European friends get more vacation and often longer vacations than we do, I haven’t heard of any of them taking off two months at a time!

    7. Rex Libris*

      Sadly, in the US, you’re doing really well to get two consecutive weeks off approved, especially for a new employee.

    8. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      That might be hard to manage with an American employer. Even with leave banked, many employers do not let you just take it when you choose, and many would not let you take a whole month off at one time, even if they will let you take it off close together. It seems strange to Europeans, I understand, but that is just the way many American employers are.

      In the alternative, she could quit for a couple months and travel, then try to find a job when she gets back, but there is no guarantee how easily she would get a new job when she gets back. Plus, our insurance is usually tied to her employment, so she would have to pay a significant amount of money each month to COBRA her new insurance until getting coverage in a new position.

      The other option is to get an offer for a new job, then ask them to accept you putting the start date off until travel is complete. But most will not go for two months out, and generally they expect about two weeks. And since you do not know when the offer will come, you cannot preplan which two months you will have and that they will line up with pre-booked travel. Also, if the new employer will make the concession to push the start date out two months, they will not be pleased if you plan to take vacation time any time soon after you do actually start. And of course the COBRA insurance payments would still be an issue.

      I do wish we would adopt an attitude towards vacation and time off in general more on par with the European attitude. But we just aren’t there yet.

  7. scandi*

    Oooof. I would seriously consider straight up resigning in LW1’s situation. I hate social media, I’m a very private person, and I can’t stand social media stunts. If my non-social media job started doing this I’d leave as soon as I had another job lined up.

    I’m honestly surprised the VP can legally do it – it sounds like some of those videos may include students which in many places requires explicit permission from the parents. And what if a teacher has, say, an abusive ex and ending up on social media is dangerous for her?

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Right??? I don’t even hate social media but if I am going to record my physical presence in a way that can never be fully removed and could potentially lead to harassment or worse, I am going to be in full control of it. My personality is my property and if your org wants to use it there’s a fee.

      I don’t know where LW1 is located, but the teacher shortage across the US is so severe it seems wild to me to gamble on something this poorly thought out. This VP seems so wildly out of touch.

    2. Abigail*

      My kids are in elementary school.

      They have media permission slips and the school is very good at including only the kids who have signed permission slips.

      The school is about 10 steps ahead of you on this one.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        But not all schools are good about following those permissions — a lot of places (and people in charge of social media) have a practice of “ask for forgiveness” and remove the post later like it’s not a big deal.

    3. lilsheba*

      Oh man I hadn’t even thought of those angles. Yeah this is a really really really bad idea all the way around and doesn’t accommodate anyone.

    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I hate social media too. I like instagram ok for pictures of dogs and coffee memes, but I never post pictures of myself. I would be livid if my employer tried to make me dance for social media. I am a lawyer, and I am not ever going to dance in my professional capacity (unless I appear in front of a particularly insane and unreasonable judge; never heard of one making counsel dance, but I have heard of enough insane things to expect anything … LOL)!

  8. Traveling Nerd*

    OP2 –
    There’s a small chance that your manager might be so packed with meetings this is the only time they have to eat? At my last job, I was usually in meetings from 9am-5pm every day, with no breaks, so I needed to eat/make coffee/etc during some meetings.

    1. JustKnope*

      Even if that’s the case, there are things the manager could do to make it less rude (not talking with his mouth full, muting while he’s doing it, turning the camera off during messy bites, etc.) I’ve eaten on calls and there’s for sure a way to do it discreetly and professionally and then there’s this guy.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        I agree, but I don’t think he’s doing it to indicate “disrespect,” which is what the OP seems to be assuming. I think he’s just clueless. It sounds ridiculous that a grown man hasn’t figured out how to eat politely, but we all know adults who have not, and he sounds like one of them.

        1. EmKay*

          That a grown @ss man hasn’t “figured out” how to eat politely is a blatant sign of disrespect for others around him.

        2. Katherine*

          If the OP has misophonia, it might feel disrespectful for the simple reason that hearing eating sounds makes them irrationally angry. The boss probably isn’t purposely making them mad, but that’s the result.

    2. Butterfly Counter*

      This is what I was thinking.

      Also, for some people, some specific manners vs. others just aren’t as important.

      When I was growing up, after a steak dinner and while the family was watching television, my dad would get out the floss and pass it around to everyone and we would all floss our teeth in the living room. It wasn’t A Thing. It wasn’t until college that I discovered that some people very much have A Thing about flossing anywhere but the bathroom. (No, no one in my family was flicking meat particles onto the couch/carpet. If there was a polite way to floss in the living room, that’s what we were doing…)

      My take is that that OP2 was raised with very strict table manners and that’s wonderful! But not everyone is raised like that and not having that background is not disrespectful. Again, with Alison’s advice, think of it as more of a pity that no one has told Boss that his behavior is impolite and some might see it as disrespectful or rude.

    3. What She Said*

      When it’s just me and my boss, we will both sometimes eat cause it’s the only time we can. In a larger group meeting, if we must, the video and audio is off. That would be rude to us but we wouldn’t fault someone for doing it. Sometimes you have to squeeze in food when you can. They are eating to fill their tummies not eating at you. No disrespect intended. I do think you can ask your boss to finish chewing before talking though. Seeing that, would bother me a bit.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, if he’s that frequently eating during meetings it seems highly likely that he’s just… always in meetings. I doubt he *prefers* to forgo a real lunch break for another Zoom but I suppose some people might.

      I can understand it being annoying, and some people eat in ways more distracting than others (I don’t know why or how but my dad is the world’s loudest chewer and I cannot stand being around him when he eats lol) but I don’t think it is inherently disrespectful and there’s really not anything OP can do other than try to reframe it in their mind.

  9. Port*

    I have a senior colleague who schedules all her meals and snacks to coincide with meetings. Constant chewing, for 45 minutes to an hour at a time. And talking with her mouth full. It’s how I discovered my misophonia, because every in person meeting was for me an exercise in anger management.

    When we went to zoom, she continued to eat, only now close up on camera, for literally an hour. Sometimes, god forgive me, I resize a Notepad window and cover her face. /o\

    One way I was able to gain ground had to do with her coming to talk to me at my desk on her way out of the kitchen. Mouth completely full, talking to me, and it was a total power move, you can’t convince me otherwise. I just couldn’t take it. So I mentioned to her one day that I’d appreciate if she didn’t eat food while talking with me at my desk, because I have some weird food issues and it would help me a lot. It was kind of true. Her eyes went really wide with, like, unrestrained prurient interest and I had to set a boundary around my imaginary privacy, but it worked! To her credit, she has been assiduously not eating when stopping by my space, for the last four years.

    Zoom has been a godsend for meetings, though, because I really do have misophonia and my organization has a huge culture of eating at meetings.

    1. Ellen N.*

      I also suffer from misophonia. I suspect the original poster may too.

      When I tell my husband that someone’s chewing made me want to claw my eardrums out he will comment that he didn’t notice it at all.

      1. Port*

        It’s amazing to me when other people don’t notice, much less don’t want to join me in committing a murder over it! (I say this mostly in jest but homicidal thoughts over certain sounds is an actual diagnostic indicator.)

        1. Le Sigh*

          I once sat through a speaking event, not formal, but generally a quiet environment. Snacks were allowed. The woman behind me had popcorn, but it wasn’t the chewing, it was the near-constant rustling and scratching around in the bag, like she was digging for gold buried below her food. She finally finished. I was so happy…until she got up to get a second bag and I almost broke my arm rests. She did this for the entire event.

          I said nothing because I know I’m usually the only one bothered, and I didn’t leave because I was with a friend (who doesn’t have misophonia). But when we left, my friend turned to me and said, “OMG THE POPCORN WOMAN” and I felt so validated — this time I wasn’t the weirdo, that woman was just rude!

      2. Dainty Lady*

        For me it’s my husband chewing. Last night he was complaining about how something had an ingredient he didn’t like, while going smick-smick-smick with it, and I considered running out of the house and never stopping. I did leave the room.

    2. allathian*

      I’m glad your approach worked. I don’t have food-related misophonia (even if the sound of someone cracking their knuckles is physically painful for me, it gets my knuckles aching in sympathy), but I really don’t want to look at someone chewing with their mouth open because that’s just gross.

      In a previous job I had an otherwise great boss who chewed gum constantly. That wasn’t a problem in itself, but I didn’t much like it when he’d blow gum bubbles that’d break with a snapping sound…

      1. Dust Bunny*

        SAAAAAME. You don’t have to have misophonia to be put off by this.

        We went on a trip accompanied by a longtime family friend–a woman my parents’ age who works in a high-profile academic position. She had The Worst Table Manners: Hogging the butter, chewing with her mouth open, talking with food in her mouth, the works. Like, I have done kid-wrangling for church and literal four-year-olds have better manners. My mother apologized for forgetting to warn me.

        1. Delta Delta*

          Was coming here to say this. Everyone eats, and sometimes people need to eat during a meeting. It just happens. But it doesn’t have to be crunching, smacking, slurping eating during every interaction.

          I used to have a colleague who would frequently eat cereal at lunch, and would do it in my office doorway. Finally one day I had enough and asked her if she was eating a bowl of rocks, because it was so noisy. She stopped after that.

          1. BethRA*

            My officemate has somehow found a way to drink WATER loudly. Seriously, my uncle’s cows made less noise at the trough. Fortunately she’s only in a few half-days a week (although she manages to eat a remarkable number of meals/snacks in that limited time).

            People eating usually doesn’t bother me, but loud slurping, open-mouth chewing, lip-smacking and/or tooth-sucking? *shudders*

      2. Emmy Noether*

        Ugh, you just brought up a memory of a colleague I once had that had a desk facing mine. He chewed with his mouth open CONSTANTLY. We usually all ate lunch at our desks, but I took to eating outside in all weather because I could. not. deal.

    3. Random Dice*

      “Mouth completely full, talking to me, and it was a total power move, you can’t convince me otherwise. I just couldn’t take it. So I mentioned to her one day that I’d appreciate if she didn’t eat food while talking with me at my desk….it worked! To her credit, she has been assiduously not eating when stopping by my space, for the last four years.”

      If someone stops doing something after one request, it was NOT a power move. Your irritation is making you ascribe malice that isn’t there.

      Since you found out 4 years ago that using your words worked immediately with her, you should try using your words again.

  10. Roland*

    Did the VP in the letter think Principal Ava Coleman was supposed to be a role model???

    (Also, TIL that one of the writers of Abbott Elementary is also named Ava Coleman.)

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I came here looking to see if anyone else
      Thought of Ava! I think Ava is hysterical…as a sitcom character.

      Maybe the VP didn’t realize Abbott Elementary isn’t an actual documentary.

  11. StellaBella*

    OP5…. I agree with Alison’s point it is about management overall not just one manager, mostly. Sure one direct manager can be the problem but, as noted last week when a colleague of 10+ years resigned … the higher ups in our org were the problem not her manager per se. The higher ups made her life hell for a year and to be honest, were threatened by her success and abilities in our new re org. Then she interviewed for a role she would have rocked, internally …. and they did not pick her because one of the higher ups would have been her manager and he is not a good leader and is threatened by her directly. So, now our team is losing a colleague who has brought in more business than others, especially in the past 5 years, and has a vast network she will take with her to her new role, because our higher ups are not good leaders.

    1. Wheezer*

      I can very much relate to this. People very much quit jobs because of bad bosses. Sometimes, that is a direct boss, sometimes it’s senior or upper management, and sometimes it’s a combination. Sometimes, that bad boss and/or management might just be incompetent or ineffective, but you can still get your job done without too much irritation and the culture itself isn’t poisonous or toxic.

      But if a company has good leadership, they will remove bad managers (especially bullies and the like) when they become aware of them. They will also be on the lookout in the first place, and will hopefully only promote and hire managers carefully. It is good for business to not have bad managers, as they are, all too often, extremely damaging: they are liabilities to the company itself in terms of productivity, finances, turnover, legal issues, reputation as an employer, and so on. Common types I’ve seen are bullies and micromanagers, both of which drive not only your best and brightest away, but most of your competent workers, too, by being unreasonable, unfair, treating the workers that they (and the company) rely upon like children, not trusting people to do their jobs, interfering, setting unreasonable or impossible workloads and/or expectations, and so on.

      I have to say, I knew that LW5 was a manager before they said they were, just based on the wording (and justifications) being used. Not all managers are bad, but way too many of them are, and I say that as a long-time manager.

      Sure, I’ve had some great managers. But I’ve also had the misfortune of having to survive several very bad direct managers, and the worst one of them damaged not only my productivity and work performance, but also my health, my well-being, my relationships, and by putting me on a completely unwarranted PIP based on outright lies (which didn’t matter to their CEO, who protected her), she also almost ruined both my career and my finances, to the point that I almost ended up on the street.

      1. Betty Flintstone*

        Ugh I’m sorry about your horrible manager! I’m working for a toxic manager now and it is painful, I completely relate to what you are saying. The only silver lining is that it’s given me a lot more empathy and compassion for others struggling with a bad manager, which is hard to have until you’ve experienced it yourself.

    2. LadyB*

      Sometimes it is due to an individual manager, though. I had an excellent manager for years and couldn’t have been happier. Unfortunately, they were replaced with a well-meaning but very very tiring micromanager and emotional vampire. I’m experienced/senior enough in my career that micromanaging is… unusual and not something people at my level in my company usually have to put up with. I realized I don’t actually love my job (where I have been for quite a few years), I just loved working for my old manager. I decided to see what was out there and am in the final stage of interviews with two companies, either of which I will take to get away from this completely draining workplace that I used to love, sadly.

    3. Lacey*

      Yeah, it can be either or both.

      I worked at an increasingly dysfunctional company for around a decade. I was job searching off and on for a good chunk of that time because managment was so bad.

      On the other hand, what kicked my search into high gear was when they replaced my great manager with a genuinely loathsome one. I left shortly after my horrible manager realized our company wasn’t quite dysfunctional enough for him to do nothing all day and get away with it.

    4. reality check please*

      Agree! My manager is fantastic and tries really hard to act as a buffer between our team and higher ups, but my agency as a whole is so dysfunctional that I’m in the process of making exit plans for some time in 2024. There’s not a lot in my manager’s power that she can do to make me want to stay longer.

    5. yala*

      Same happened with my friend. Fifteen years she put into this one store, was the one constant with changing managers, etc. Company liked her work so much she was personally tapped by the VP to do nation-wide travel to prep new stores for opening. But they wouldn’t promote her because they don’t promote within the store you start at. And they wouldn’t switch her to a sister store in the same city.

      So she got a better offer.

      And when she put in her 2 weeks, the higher ups fired her on the spot, leaving the people in her store to scramble for coverage et al right before Black Friday.

      Bad policies, bad management, whatever you want to call it. They lost an incredible asset. (Also, boo, now my friend lives across the country from me)

  12. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    #4: The best advice I’ve ever gotten for embarrassing things is to change the embarrassing thing if you can, and if you can’t fix it own it boldly. Doesn’t work for everything, of course, but it would probably work for this one.

    So, for casual small talk, I’d recommend something like, “the job search? It’s going awful! I’ve applied to 1.5 million places and the only place that wants to hire me is cutco knives!” said with a big grin. Or some other joke that is lighthearted, but straight up acknowledges that the job hunt is going badly.

    For people you trust or want to get closer with, what you told Alison is a good starting spot. It’s a bit vulnerable, yes.

    And never forget to ask the other person something when you want to change the subject! Otherwise they have to continue the conversation and they’re probably going to keep talking about same thing, because thinking up new conversation topics on the fly is hard. It’d probably be easy to get someone talking about their worst job search, or funniest interview, or something else about their own past job searches.

    1. PsychNurse*

      “Otherwise they have to continue the conversation and they’re going to keep talking about the same thing”

      YES. I am often the asker in this situation, and I don’t actually want to talk about your job search either, but I don’t want to re-route the conversation to be all about myself! Well actually, I do want to, but I try to be polite, which is why I asked about your job search to start with. If you deflect and ask me about my life, I promise I’d rather talk about that than about how many interviews you’ve had.

  13. Startup Survivor*

    OP5: an alternative reason that your former boss might have asked the question was to get ammunition to change the policy that caused the attrition. It might not keep you around, but documentation that a policy caused 2-3 people to leave could get it changed. And if your former boss is a good leader, they will be looking to make process and policy better in the future.

  14. Joan*

    LW2, I’d consider just not starting your job hunt until all this is done. It sounds like you don’t HATE your job, and if they’re okay with all this leave that’s an advantage. I don’t think many places you’re just starting at would be please with all the time off. Why not just wait?

    1. TechWorker*

      +1 – it sounds like a fantastic year, and Alison’s advice seems to boil down to ‘accept you won’t get to go on all these trips’… it’s ok not to prioritise your career for 6-12 months, especially if you’re not actively unhappy or underperforming.

      Even just leaving applications until the first half of the trips are out of the way might be easier, not least because your wedding and honeymoon are last and probably easiest to negotiate time off for. The new employer doesn’t have to know you’ve already had 4 holidays!

      1. Random Dice*

        Plus, planning a wedding usually takes a lot of time and attention. Just stay at the current job, take the time, and coast.

    2. Endorable*

      Absolutely right on target! This person is expecting WAY too much from a new employer.. and why would you even WANT to start a new job while so much is going on in your personal life? Chill out…use the PTO you’ve saved at THIS job (that no one else is obliged to respect), get married, get settled, and THEN start job hunting. Have a wonderful year… put your career on the back burner for now.

      1. Thistle whistle*

        It is a lot of holidays for anyone in a year, not just a new person, even if soread out over the full 12 months. Assuming two weeks for honeymoon, a week for each international trip, a couple of days each for the wedding and the long weekends. That’s getting on for 6 weeks which is a lot before you have the usual necessary days for appointments and emergencies or time off at Christmas. And that’s assuming that each international trip is only a week, which isn’t long for an Int’l trip.

        Job offers get pulled when people have unrealistic expectations of holidays. Someone started at an old company and straight away asked for a two week and a two one week holidays for prebooked trips. They were told no as they had been told at the interview when the “closed period” was for breaks and their request was over that period. Their first one week holiday had been approved(just before busy period), they were “off sick” at the second (but came back with a really good fake tan *snort*) and for the third they just put an out of office message on and disappeared for two weeks. When they came back they got their P45 and a final pay slip. They fought and fought and tried for unfair dismissal but lost. Funny thing is they tried to use the company as a reference. HR simply said the person had been employed for 5 months, had above average sickness and absences and wasn’t eligible for rehire. Which is about as bad a reference as you can give these days.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          Ha, I see you had my ex-coworker. She had a week “off sick” coinciding with an internal office move, came back full of graphic details of her stomach bug but didn’t know that at the time, she’d been seen coming out of the pub by a coworker driving past. I don’t know exactly what happened (not having seen her myself, I kept out of it), but not long after that, she’d wanted to take a two week holiday for her birthday, but due to the time of year at which she started, she only had enough annual leave left for a week and a half.

          On the day she was due to return, she called our then-manager asking for the rest of the week off, but was refused. She tried asking if she could take those days unpaid, this was also refused. So she didn’t come in and didn’t call after that (we believed she was actually still out of town). On the Monday, she still didn’t show up, and eventually we got an email saying she had resigned and wouldn’t be coming back (she technically had a month’s notice to work, but this didn’t happen).

          She also tried to ask for a reference.

          In a twist of fate, a few years later we ended up hiring her mother. I didn’t let on when I made the connection, but her mother brought it up herself and it turned out mother thought it was just a temp job rather than the contract job it was. I just went along with it.

        2. Marie*

          “ HR simply said the person had been employed for 5 months, had above average sickness and absences and wasn’t eligible for rehire.”

          Seems like this reference raises potential health status discrimination, depending on what illness the worker claimed they had. Sounds like the employee was definitely not acting with clean hands but stating the person had above average sickness related absences could be the basis for a demand letter written by an employment attorney were I live.

          1. Colette*

            I don’t think that would go far, unless the OP was actually off for an illness, and they had requested accommodations. If they claimed to be sick and actually went on vacation, that’s not protected.

          2. Thistle whistle*

            Hr usually only state facts in their references so can say someone has taken more than the national average sickness (as its a quantifiable fact). They can’t say whether it’s real sickness or not.

            1. allathian*

              And that’s the problem. HR should be able to say that someone’s taken more than average sick leave without submitting the required doctor’s notes. I have basically unlimited sick leave in the sense that I won’t be forced to work when I’m sick, ever. But I can take only the first 5 days including weekends as discretionary sick leave for one illness. If I need more leave than that, I need a doctor’s note. Managers who suspect that someone’s faking sick can require a sick note for the first day of sick leave, although the suspicion has to be documented.

      1. The Original K.*

        I was thinking the same. Even leaving aside the time off issue, changing jobs is a lot of stress and there’s already going to be a ton of (happy!) stress in OP’s personal life. If her job isn’t actively bad, and it sounds like it isn’t, it might make sense to let the dust settle in her personal life before taking on a stressful job search.

    3. londonedit*

      I have to say, I agree. This would be a lot of holiday for me to take in one year, and I’m in the UK and have 26 days’ holiday to play with (in addition to public holidays and sick leave). If the OP’s current job allows them to take all the holidays they have planned, I’d stick with it until all the travel is done, and then look for something else. Otherwise there’s a very real risk that they won’t be able to go on all of their trips (in my experience employers will be happy to accommodate a wedding/honeymoon or one big holiday for a new employee, assuming it’s all been booked and arranged for ages before you start the job, but that’s because it’s a one-off – they wouldn’t be so happy about that AND a load of other trips all in your first year in the job).

    4. JustKnope*

      And honestly if you’re going to be gone for like six weeks this year, plus planning happy life events like a wedding, you’ll have enough time away from work that these crappy conditions might not affect you as much :) I also recommend waiting a year if you can stomach it.

      1. EPLawyer*

        that was my thought. You aren’t going to be there much any way, so the work conditions won’t matter. Plus if its not mentally taxing, you won’t have to deal with work AND planning all these things.

        Enjoy your vacations, then job hunt.

    5. Stitch*

      Yes. You may have to choose. Doing all these trips and a new employer is probably not doable. You’re just going to have to pick here.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes. For all the times we tell LWs that the chains are in their head and they could find a different job–if things are mostly okay, and there’s a significant benefit to you to staying 6-12 months you’d be hard-pressed to get in a new job, it makes sense to stay! Think of it as the company unwittingly offering you a retention bonus that convinced you to stay a year longer than you would have otherwise.

      Leave if the place is on fire (e.g. staying could mean you become legally implicated in the shenanigans). Leave if the benefit is purely hypothetical at this point (we’ll do an IPO in 5 years, which will go well). Leave if it’s destroying your mental or physical health. But if it’s okay but eh? That’s a reason to stay around for your big travel year, or the fully covered extensive dental work you need, or the flexibility while your mom is ill.

    7. Vistaloopy*

      +1. When deciding whether a job is a “good fit,” it’s important to look at all factors, not just the work itself. Prioritizing flexibility and PTO for this year is perfectly okay! If the job isn’t bad, you can always wait to pursue a better fit later, after the travel. Or not — maybe you’ll decide that the PTO etc. outweighs the content of the job. Your priorities will likely shift at different times in your life, and that’s okay!

    8. History Teacher*

      That was my thought too! As long as you’re not dreading going to work every day, why not stay, use up the PTO, and then find a new job?

    9. Poison I.V. drip*

      This. While these trips may be very meaningful to the OP, to a new boss all the time off is going to look really frivolous for someone who’s supposed to be focused on getting settled into a new job. At my job we deal with this quite a bit from interns. After hiring interns for the summer, frequently one will announce plans to spend 4, 5, 6 or more weeks of the summer traveling.

      1. DataSci*

        Yeah. Wedding/honeymoon will be something most places find wiggle room for. Not one but TWO each bachelorette and international travel for birthday trips? That’s starting to look spoiled – the LW acknowledged the financial privilege, but not the time privilege she’s assuming in expecting months of time to materialize. I know I’m more limited in time than money for travel!

      2. sofar*

        It depends greatly on the workplace. And there’s a difference b/w a seasonal intern taking of 50% off the length of internship and a permanent employee who needs some flexibility to transition jobs.

        We had some new folks start this year and take off roughly the same amount of time as LW, due to pre-booked travel. One of them was someone I hired. At the offer stage, she said she wanted to inform me of her “prebooked travel.” We worked it out.

        We made it work b/c we don’t extend offers to folks who aren’t a great fit. If we’re excited enough about a candidate to extend an offer, we’re willing to be flexible. We have “unlimited” time off, so we can do that. In the past, when we had a set number of vacation days, we let folks take the “extra” time unpaid. You also never know if/when someone is going to need to take disability or parental leave; most functional companies can work around that.

        On the other hand, some companies have stricter time off policies or seasonal busy seasons and that can be communicated (and companies can opt to pass on an otherwise strong candidate if that’s what they wanna do and take the runner-up candidate who isn’t traveling as much).

        My husband started a new position during the back half of the year, so he had “a lot” of travel coming up (d/t holidays, a vacation, a few weddings). He communicated that at the offer stage, he was still hired, and he took ALL that time (but did remain “on call” and took some meetings during one of the trips, due to an important company deadline).

    10. MissGirl*

      I agree this isn’t the year to job hunt. With all the vacation, you’ll also probably be taking a day here and there for wedding stuff. I cannot see this looking good at a new job where you don’t have the history of good performance.

      Last year was was super bored at my job so I did more traveling. I just started a job a few weeks ago and know this year won’t be the year of major travel. Use your boredom and cached PTO to your benefit.

    11. DrSalty*

      Yeah this is kind of what I’m thinking. Enjoy the year and your generous PTO, then start the job search up again.

    12. amoeba*

      From what I got from the letter, I feel like that was the plan and she just started to put out some feelers – and was then surprised by the speed of the replies/invitations? So probably actually expecting to be in the old job for a while longer but then got much quicker feedback than expected?

      Might be worth trying to negotiate a later starting date? At least for me (in Europe though) that has worked quite well when it wasn’t urgent for the employer. But then of course we have long notice periods, anyway, so turning three months into five or six (plus whatever time the actual interview process takes) is often feasible. I mean, I’d hold off on any new applications for now but I guess you don’t have much to lose for any that are already open. (Of course, phrase it in a way that doesn’t seem out of touch, so would acknowledge that you know it’s unlikely, but you wanted to at least ask… – especially if you’d like to reapply in the future!)

      1. amoeba*

        Oh, but just to add – I absolutely agree, would much rather postpone the job search (unless it’s hell for you to stay) than cancelling a large part of those great sounding trips!

      2. sofar*

        That was my read, too. LW is in a strong position, I think! If she finds a great opportunity where they can work around her travel, great! If not, she can keep what she’s got. Some companies (mine included) would be willing to work around that travel to get the right candidate.

    13. Shan*

      Yes, this is definitely not the year to be trying to find a new job. Get married, go on your vacations, use up all that PTO, and then make 2024 the year you prioritize your career.

    14. Heidi*

      Even if management ultimately OKs all the extra time away, I suspect some of OP’s new colleagues will hold a grudge if that time away means established employees have to pick up the slack and work extra hours to ensure the work is getting done. Not a great way to manage those colleague relationships if you plan to stay long term.

    15. fhqwhgads*

      I understand where LW2 is coming from though. You never know when you’ll get an interview or how long the whole process will take. I also don’t have a sense of the spread of the trips. If a bunch are front-loaded, like in the next three months, and they’re thinking the hiring process might take more like 4 months anyway before they’d start (or maybe thejobs they’re getting interviews for now don’t pan out, but one a month from now does, etc), well then, they could potentially have it both ways, assuming the travel doesn’t interfere with the ongoing interviewing. But if the hiring process is more like 6 weeks, and then they’d have most of all that traveling still to come, that’s a nope.
      Waiting is a valid option, and may be best, but I can see why LW2 is inclined to try to get a jump on the search even with all this coming up if it might mean getting out sooner. If the trips are spread pretty evenly throughout the year though, they might want to split the difference and wait, but not necessarily wait until allllll the trips are over. Just until it would make the ask, at the time of a potential offer, a smaller ask like AG suggests.

    16. Helewise*

      I agree with this as well. Starting a new job is really hard (at least for me), and ideally you really want to be at your very best and most focused at the get-go because you’re creating a brand-new image in everyone’s minds of who you are and what you’re capable. Starting a new marriage can be a lot, too, even outside of all the logistical madness. Unless this job is harming you in some way I’d take the year to float on existing reputation, goodwill, and PTO. It sounds like an amazing year; I wouldn’t risk it for a new job.

  15. Former (recovering) teacher*

    This is unfortunately a consequence of working in education; getting swept up in stupid projects that just waste time and money. Yes, they’re fun for the kids, but usually it’s not so fun for teachers! Part of the job, though.

    Two thoughts:
    1. Given the above, the idea will probably fade away over time. New administrators always have these wacky ideas that eventually get buried in a ton of reality.
    2. They cannot force your mother to do anything. She can participate without doing crazy dances, and if the principal tries to make her, she absolutely can say “This is not inclusive towards people with disabilities or movement restrictions. I cnanot physically do these steps, so I will find another way to move.” She can stand in place and move her arms like a clock and the kids can play numerals on the clockface, for example.

    It will work out okay in the end.

  16. AE*

    Okay, now I’m so curious what “normal” is RE eating while in meetings.

    My current (small nonprofit) workplace has a strong culture around turning off your camera when you eat anything, but at every org I’ve been at before, people eat during in-person meetings. (Usually because none of us have time for a real lunch break, but…) That’s what the donuts are for!

    Is it in-person vs remote? What’s normal at your workplace?

    1. allathian*

      I’m able to schedule a proper lunch break every day, and I don’t have enough meetings to make this a problem.

      Some people who have more meetings than I do will eat during meetings where they aren’t presenting and aren’t expected to speak much, when they’re remote. But although we have a “show your face at least at the beginning of the meeting” culture, people who are eating are expected to mute themselves and turn off their camera.

      In-person is more difficult, most people have lunch at a restaurant or cafeteria. Near my office, we have more than 20 restaurants within easy walking distance for most people (half a mile or so).

      In my 15 years at my current job, I’ve only had half a dozen working lunches with the boss paying and us talking shop.

    2. londonedit*

      I’ve never seen anyone eat on-camera in a meeting where I work. When meetings were in-person they weren’t scheduled over lunch, so the most you’d have might be a plate of biscuits which one or two people might take if they had a cup of tea/coffee with them, but that’s it. I’m sure people do eat in online meetings, but it absolutely wouldn’t be the done thing to broadcast the fact by eating on camera.

    3. Snow Globe*

      I work in a large corporate environment with a lot of meetings, but there is an unspoken rule not to schedule anything from 12-1 unless there is a huge emergency. And then, folks might be eating, but would likely turn off the camera and at least hit the mute button when chewing.

    4. iliketoknit*

      We do division-wide morning meetings where donuts are served, though most people eat their donuts before the meeting starts/take one for after the meeting. Otherwise we only eat in meetings if they’re expressly described as lunch (food provided)/brown bag (byo), which are usually trainings, or they have an express social component. Generally no one eats in other, smaller meetings, though I’m sure if someone’s schedule has been crazy on a given day and they’re meeting with 1-2 colleagues (not clients or muckety mucks) in their office, some kind of eating has happened. But I work in a business formal environment, with a decent amount of control over our own schedules. (I’ve walked into people’s offices while they’re eating their lunch, but that’s a bit different, of course.)

      That said, I was surprised by how much it bothered the OP and how disrespectful they found it. Maybe this isn’t true b/c I don’t encounter it much, but I have a hard time thinking it would bother me – in the absence of other issues with the person. Like if it was a supervisor who was otherwise disrespectful, then it would bother me, but I don’t think on its own it would necessarily convey that to me.

    5. ecnaseener*

      In person, the chewing sounds are comparatively quieter for people sitting a few feet away. On a call, you’re chewing directly into a microphone.

    6. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think a difference with the audio at least is that it might be right in your headphones, so people here do at least mute if they’re eating. And if they’re eating something especially messy might turn off their camera.

      But similarly most people aren’t bringing burritos to in person meetings. I don’t have an issue with eating in either case, I think the issue is just if it becomes disruptive, and you need to know what disruptive means in your setting. So you don’t need to account for a strong smell, for instance, on video, but something crunchy might be a “mute the whole time” deal. It’s just situational.

    7. Acronyms are Life (AAL)*

      I have an exceptionally busy great-grand boss (like 4 levels above me) that when he first started, he explained that lunch was a mandatory meal for him, so he would need to eat in meetings scheduled around lunch. He does this in meetings we are briefing him, so he can eat while we talk, and he stops eating when he needs to ask us a question or respond. It’s also a reminder that if you don’t like having someone eat when you’re speaking to not schedule a meeting with him around lunch time. He does not do this when he is the lead speaker in a meeting. It was interesting because there is a culture where it’s almost a requirement for senior leadership to be ok with skipping meals to get work done.

      One of my other bosses asks ‘do you mind if I eat my lunch while we are talking?’ I don’t know of anyone that would really say no, but I think she asks so people don’t think that her eating means she doesn’t find the conversation valuable.

    8. ThatGirl*

      Drinking water/coffee/tea during a meeting is entirely common; eating is less so, but people do it from time to time. If it’s a remote meeting usually the person eating will mute so they’re not cronching into the mic.

    9. DataSci*

      It’s often unavoidable to eat during meetings. (If I’m back to back from 11 to 2, which is unfortunately common, I’m definitely eating!) Where I work people will turn on their camera briefly, apologize for eating, and turn it back off.

      The idea of a restaurant (other than grabbing something to take back to your desk) sounds like something out of the 1950s!)

    10. Ginger*

      We’ve had plenty of working lunch meetings where I’m at and even morning meetings with bagels, etc. So it’s not unusual for me in a group setting. It would be strange if it were one-on-one to me.

      If we do have a Zoom meeting where someone is eating, they’ll typically turn off their camera and definitely mute.

      Honestly I don’t think it’s disrespectful, it just may be against cultural norms and personal preferences.

    11. BethRA*

      The norm for us is camera and sound off if it’s a phone/video meeting, and back when we did in-person meetings with snacks/lunch, generally people chewed with their mouths closed and didn’t talk with their mouth full.

      Not counting the office-mate I vented about above.

    12. Me ... Just Me*

      Wherever I’ve worked in the last 10 years, eating in meetings is pretty normal. Often, food is provided. We’re all so busy that I know that especially on Teams meetings, I definitely eat and drink. I don’t do the whole camera-on thing and I mute while eating so as to not disrupt things, though. Same for background noise. Sometimes people are on meetings while driving, etc. — it’s just how our world works now. Your boss’s behavior wouldn’t even phase me, probably. I certainly wouldn’t find it disrespectful.

      In person, if someone comes into my office to discuss something and I’m eating, I will generally pause and handle the business at hand. I have been know to continue eating, though, if I’m particularly busy and pressed for time — always with an apology/explanation, though.

  17. AnotherLibrarian*

    #5: A business professor I know hates this saying and would like to amend it to, “When everything else is equal, people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

    In short, the best benefits package, the best salary, the best PTO in the world will not make up for a boss you can’t work with. However, people leave for better pay, better benefits, better whatever all the time. So, this saying does get used by a lot of places I’ve seen to justify not raising wages to help with retention, because “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” and that’s just not really accurate.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes – as all other pithy sayings, there is truth in there!

      But it should not be taken as ‘in all circumstances the reason someone leaves a job is because their manager sucks’ any more than as ‘no need to care about every other aspect of the job, only the manager makes or breaks things anyway’.

    2. Luca*

      Agreed. I gave up generous PTO at OldJob because it wasn’t making me happy any more. Every time I came back, I hated the place more.

      While they weren’t a factor in my leaving, I did have two bosses who were no picnic. One of them nobody would ever want, and I got the shaft. The other person’s assistant was on an LOA that kept dragging on, and was still dragging when I left.

  18. Persephone*

    LW1 – somebody needs to point out to the VP that the vast majority of people dislike these sorts of activities. The younger kids might not mind as much, but the older ones will probably hate it.

    Also, the VP continuously filming these things and posting them online is a serious problem. Putting people in the position where they will be penalised (formally or informally) if they don’t allow themselves to be filmed doing things they don’t want to do and posted online is an issue. People are entitled to their privacy—especially children. The US might be different to where I am, but I would expect it would still be a legal requirement for the school to get formal permission from the kids’ legal guardians over whether their likeness is allowed to be shared online. And when the majority say yes, being the one kid who gets pulled aside and not allowed to be in the photo or participate with your friends really sucks. Talking from personal experience.

    There’s also the fact that this completely disregards comfort. If I was a kid and this was happening, I’d be getting my parents to intervene due to how uncomfortable and anxious I would feel. And how many neurodivergent people are being negatively affected by this? As an ADHD/autistic person, this would be hell.

    School is meant to be a safe environment for people (children) to learn and grow. Not a performing circus. This is just showing the children that they aren’t in a place where their comfort matters, that a person in a massive position of power cares more about her own agenda then caring for the students and staff, and that the other adults who aren’t intervening can’t be trusted to properly protect and respect the children as individuals.

    Seems like their needs to be a serious faculty meeting about this.

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


    I think we all agree that “Mandatory Fun” was a good album by Weird Al Yankovic, but it’s a awful way to run any workplace. (And yes, it a very good album. In one song, called “Mission Statement,” the lyrics consist entirely of buzzwords.)

    1. WereGreat*

      Every year, when football season rolls around, I play “Sports Song”.

      And yes, “mandatory fun” is not a good way to run a workplace. Mostly because forcing people to have fun has worked approximately never. “No, I’d rather not go to the Christmas party if I don’t have to and expose myself to anxiety/risk an autistic meltdown as I mingle with people I barely know. I appreciate the offer in the manner it was intended, however.”

      Plus, if I were to try to dance at my current size and health condition, I may end up severely straining something at the least, and disturbing anyone viewing the video.

  20. Side slow Bob*

    OP #1 I dare you to say “We’re actually professional teachers not 13 year old tick-tock wannabes”

    Go on!

  21. I'm Done*

    From personal experience gained during a 30+ year career, around 25% of my bosses were great, 75% ranked from not great to outrageously bad. The funny thing is that the higher up I moved on my career ladder, the worse my managers were. But that’s not surprising. It’s bad leadership at the very top that causes management issues. Or as the Germans say, the fish always stinks from the head first. But bad managers, with one exception, were always the reason I left a job. And of course people leave for money and better benefits. I always made sure that at minimum the pay was better at the new job, knowing that the odds were not in my favor when it came to supervisors. Being a manager requires specific skills. For some reason, this seems to get completely ignored by the powers that be.

  22. Eater of Cupcakes*

    I might be wrong, but I think those kinds of choreographed group dances only raise morale in places where morale is pretty high already.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      And when they are truly voluntary, I suspect. “Hey, who wants to take part in a tiktok dance challenge” is a lot different from the vice principal mandating that everybody takes part,

      1. UKDancer*

        And where you have the sort of people who enjoy performing / dancing. I worked in a travel agency with a lot of very extrovert people (I’m about borderline I/E) and they would have all loved this because most of them did am-dram and karaoke.

        I now work in an office with a lot more introverts and I know most of them would hate this really badly. You need people who enjoy this sort of thing to successfully run this sort of thing.

  23. PeopleHaveToEatSometime*

    LW3, at nearly every company I’ve worked at or with it is completely normal to eat during company internal mtgs (or even some externals with a perfunctory would anyone mind that gets answered no) or to participate audio only from a car – and doubly so for managers who are more likely to spend a lot of time on calls. In many cases it’s the only way they can eat or participate if other meetings require travel. Most people make some effort not to be too noisy about it and, if virtual, use mute judiciously but food happens.

    1. Dancing Elaine*

      Having food at meetings is common. Chomping food while on calls and speaking with a mouth full of food is not. I’ve been employed at well known corporation for 25 years with many meetings in person and by phone and this doesn’t happen.

  24. Bookworm*

    #5: Yep. I’m in a position right now where the manager is driving me out because they are not good at managing (there’s no HR, the manager is the owner and it’s a small place, etc. etc.). I like the work well enough and have been in this field for several years but now I’m thinking it’s time to switch fields. I’ve actually had some really good managers in this field but they were constrained by senior leaders and left themselves or could only do so much for me.

  25. Oofandouch*

    LW 5

    I agree with Alison’s assessment 100%. I’m a lower level manager at a company who’s lost multiple employees. I always ask to read their exit interviews after they’ve left because I want to know what I can do better. About half of the exits are kind of just general preserve the relationship types of interviews (I love this company but I left for money/new challenges/insert generic reason here). Of other half where people really dig in I’d say about 10% have had some kind of issue with me as a manager (typically a personality clash or an issue with the way that I have to enforce company policy) and the remainder have an issue with our C-suites decisions, which I have no control over.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      I left my last job because of a micromanager boss and tried to allude to that in the exit interview with HR. The HR rep did. not. want. to. hear. it. Straight up “let’s get back to the questions on this list”. So I offered bland platitutes to the boring questions on her list, which was probably the better strategy for my reference anyway. Just because people don’t say it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

      1. Oofandouch*

        That’s fair, and that’s kind of what I was getting at with the preserve the relationship type comments. It’s possible that those people hated me as a manager and just didn’t want to say it. I try to be as aware as possible and always encourage my team to talk to me if they have an issue with my management style, but I’m very aware that there’s a power dynamic there and many people wouldn’t feel comfortable being open with their manager that way. I can think of one employee in particular who I know just did not like me. We didn’t vibe at all (which I can normally pick up on in the interview process but not this time).

    1. Citra*

      Yep, absolutely how I feel, as well. (And honestly, as a former kid, seeing my teachers behave like that to chase TikTok likes would have made me lose any respect I might have had for them. This is the kind of thing adults think kids will think is cool, but the kids just think the adults are idiots.)

    2. NerdyPrettyThings*

      My state just banned TikTok from state provided devices and networks, so schools have to block it now.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, I would not have a TikTok account, because I have serious concerns about security and privacy with that company.

  26. curmudgeon*

    LW 5: I’ve left all but one job because of shitty management. This ranged from general incompetence to actual physical abuse. So yeah, managers usually are the issue.

  27. BuffaloSauce*

    A terrible manager or upper management can absolutely make people leave a job. In fact I just left a job in November bc of one. It was so bad I almost left with no other job lined up. Since this time last year she has had 8 people leave from under her. She was hands down the worst person I have ever worked for and I close to 40. The rest of the company had some issues, but none that really would have made me leave.

  28. ijustworkhere*

    Might I suggest suspending your job search until after you’ve enjoyed your year and taken the PTO to which you are entitled? You’ve got a lot going on and starting a new job is stressful.

    Even if the hiring people agree to your request (which I doubt), it’s not the best start to a relationship with your co-workers. The company is hiring because they need somebody, and if you aren’t there to do the work, your colleagues will likely have to pick up the work in your absence. It’s one thing if you have earned the leave, it’s another to be a new employee taking lots of unpaid leave right out of the gate, even with the permission of mgmt.

    Also, you might want to double check your company policy about paying out your leave. Some companies have some limits around how much PTO they will pay out upon separation—they categorize some of it in such a way as to be able to legally avoid being required to pay it out.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      They don’t even need to wait until after all the trips.

      If they just suspend it until after a couple of the trips, that will make the ask more reasonable.

    2. Acronyms are Life (AAL)*

      If in the US there are very few states where it is required to pay people for their PTO, one being California. Most states they’re only required to if it says that they will in the company policies or in your contract.

      And if Alison is reading this, I saw while looking for that list of states that do require PTO payouts, that “There is no federal law mandating that employers offer PTO.” Is that really true!?! That’s crazy!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Illinois requires PTO payout when you leave a job (I think in CA it’s end of the year).

        But yes, I think that’s true – PTO is obviously common and expected, but it’s not a federal mandate.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I believe Alison has volunteered that fact several times on various posts. It’s true.

  29. Olivia*

    #1 – The first thing that stood out to me about this was “right out of school vice principal”. What?? I’m assuming this means that this person has not worked in education before, and not, say, that they were a teacher, and then went back to school for a masters or doctorate, and now just started as a vice principal. So assuming that that interpretation is correct…

    Why on earth did the school district hire someone with no experience as a teacher? It’s not really surprising that they’re bad at this, since it doesn’t sound like they have experience being in their employees’ shoes or even working in a school at all. Of course they’re bad at it. Yikes.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      This is what I came here to say – I really want to know – is this common? if yes, why? if no, how did this person become a VP straight out of school?

      Haven’t worked anywhere close to education, but I did have two kids in K-12 (HS classes of 2011 and 2014) and the elementary school years were TOUGH! I was getting calls from the school daily, called into school on a regular basis. (A mix of my kids having a then-undiagnosed autism and ADHD and having a hard time getting the hang of the school life, us, their parents, being immigrants and not having a good grasp of what school in the US is like, and a lot of their teachers not having a clue – our life became much easier after they got to middle, and they both graduated high school at the top of their classes.) At the same time, my sons each had one or two really good teachers in elementary school and those people were a massive positive influence on my sons and helped them get through the elementary school years, prepare for middle school, and hopefully become better people in the process. IME a good elementary school teacher is so rare and worth their weight in gold, and it drives me up a freaking wall that this VP is making the few good ones consider leaving.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        My best guess was that the VP was quite young, not *literally* straight out of school but maybe not that long since, and it’s a way she’s been referred to at times, maybe in a moment of venting.

      2. Double A*

        No, this is not common. As someone who works in education, I assumed “Straight out of school” meant “straight out of an administrative credential program.” In order to qualify for an administrative credential program, you have to be certified as a teacher first. A quick search also shows that you are required to have teaching experience before you apply for such a program (the one I was looking at was 5 years). I don’t think it’s possible to become a school administrator straight out of a 4 year college.

    2. Cmdrshpard*

      I don’t know that that assumption is correct. I think being a teacher and being management (VP/principal) are very different that, I would call someone starting their first management vice-principal job as being “right out of school vice principal” even if they had been a teacher for years first.

  30. Dancing Elaine*

    Eating during calls of any kind and talking with your mouth full are absolutely disgusting. You have my sympathy OP.

    1. DataSci*

      Some people need to eat regularly. What are they supposed to do if they have meetings back-to-back for several hours over lunchtime? In an international company like mine, 12 pm in my time zone may be the only time that works for all three locations involved in a call.

      Obviously we don’t talk with our mouths full!

      1. Ferret*

        They are supposed to mute while they are actively chewing and making eating noises and turn off the camera if they can’t avoid chewing with their mouth open.

        How is this not incredibly obvious? I’ve been on lots of calls that overlap with someone grabbing a bite and people just do it by default, even if it is muting in order to avoid disrupting the meeting by taking a quick swig of tea

        1. DataSci*

          It is obvious? It doesn’t mean everyone who mutes, turns off their camera, and grabs a sandwich is “disgusting”.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        If I’m eating in a Zoom meeting I turn off my camera and mute myself. If I forget to mute and am eating something like crackers, people let me know…

    2. EPLawyer*

      My clients can sometimes only meet me over their lunch hour. I tell them IN ADVANCE that is it is okay to eat.

      Eating is not the problem. Its the mouth open and talking with the mouth full that is the problem.

      Also apparently there are other problems like meeting while in traffic. Again, you meet when the time works. Its not muting the background noice that is the problem.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I have a very low opinion of people who regularly take meetings while driving. Yes, I’ve had to do it myself, and I quite frankly hate doing it. Even if you are hands free it is distracting and dangerous.

        1. allathian*

          And in some jurisdictions, illegal, in the sense that if there’s a crash and one driver is found to have been texting or talking on the phone while driving, that person is automatically assumed to be the guilty party, regardless of what the other driver did. At most, both parties are given equal responsibility for the crash, if one’s talking on the phone and the other’s DUI, for example.

  31. BL73*

    Unfortunately for LW2, I would not hire her based on her upcoming time off requests. It takes a long time to get someone up to speed in my department, and as a fairly small department, the remaining staff would need to cover for all of that time off. Further, she’d lose a lot of ground in training. Sorry. Keep your current job until your travel is done.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Came here to say this as well.
      Sounds like your current role gives you tons of PTO and is fine with you taking it, which is awesome!
      I would never let a new employee take that kind of PTO in their first year on the job. How would they ever get up to speed and stay there? And my company has unlimited PTO, but we do need the work to get done.
      Hope you enjoy your awesome year!!

    2. Midwestern Manager*

      Came here to say the same thing. You could be the absolute ideal candidate, best fit ever for an open position, and if you tell me (because it really didn’t seem like you planned to *ask* if all this planned travel could be approved) that you have six— SIX!!—trips planned for your first year, then I am immediately withdrawing my offer. Not only is it disruptive and would severely impact your onboarding as well as forcing colleagues to cover for you, but at least in my work culture it would be wildly tone-deaf and entitled, and immediately make me think you might well be a diva in other ways. Stay at your current job until your travel is done (or nearly done) before you start applying someplace new where you hope to make a good impression, because this is NOT it.

      1. Howdy*

        Expecting to be “asked” for approval to get married is also tone deaf. Some life events require time off and expecting someone to grovel for for permission to have a life is a crappy thing to do. Six is a lot! But this attitude about whether you’re being *asked* is also a lot, as in a lot of…. Well you know.

  32. Totally Minnie*

    #4, I just recently completed a horrific job search where I applied to 5-6 jobs a week and got almost no responses for several months. And the whole time I was doing it, there were articles on every news website about companies desperate to hire and people on social media talking about how easy it is to get a job during the Great Resignation, but my experience didn’t reflect that at all.

    Hang in there. You’ll find something.

    1. LW #4*

      Thank you so much for this! I’m realizing from reading Alison & the commentariat’s replies that while I do actually want suggestions for what to say when other people ask, my bigger issue is the judgmental voice in my own head. Knowing I’m not alone out here is so, so helpful.

      1. Alliesaurus*

        You’re not alone for sure! I’m actually in the same situation. I’ve been telling myself job-hunting over the holidays is a big reason I haven’t been hearing back on a lot of stuff, although I’m not sure how true that is. O:) I’ve been looking since the week after Thanksgiving, and it’s been rough.

        At least where I am, it seems like a lot of the places hiring are all the minimum wage/relying on tips/entry-level roles. None of which I’m looking for right now. So while there may be lots of employers hiring, they aren’t necessarily the ones I want to work for!

      2. Dr Unemployable*

        I have a PhD in my field (STEM) and my employer is making a bunch of us redundant right now. When the writing was on the wall last year I applied for everything I could, spent all my free time outside work on it – and didn’t get even a single interview. Yesterday I had a conversation with another PhD-qualified, soon-to-be-ex-coworker about the economics of cleaning houses for a living, and i learned I’m not the only one seriously considering it.

        It’s brutal out there, LW4. I’m sorry.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        Good luck!!! My job search was most of 2022 (though not consistent). So much ghosting. So little feedback.

    2. CRM*

      SAME! I was on the job market until the end of last year. I have a very in-demand skillset (think data engineering) with a competitive resume, and job searching is usually a breeze for me. That absolutely was not the case this time around. Far fewer interviews and lots of ghosting. At one company I did four rounds of interviews, a skills test, a reference check, and then was presented with a verbal offer which I accepted. They said “we will send along the official details next week” and then I didn’t hear from them for months! After many attempts to contact basically every person that I connected with during the interview process, the recruiter revealed that their budget was retracted and they needed to withdraw the position. Pro tip: the search isn’t over until you have a signed offer letter in hand!

      It’s insane out there for job seekers right now. I don’t understand how people can see all of these layoffs happening and not realize that the job market is constricting (and how much competition there is for jobs).

      Keep your head up OP, you’re doing great!!

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      Ditto. It took me over six months on my last job search, and a year before that when I got laid off due to Covid related budget cuts.

      I would apply to up to 10 jobs a week, and only get one or two phone screens, and one or two interviews. Doubling the number of applications I submitted doubled the number of responses, but not much else.

  33. iliketoknit*

    I absolutely get the issues with the VP and hope that the LW’s mom is able to find a way to negotiate the situation successfully, but I do want to gently push back on the idea that this is age discrimination because older teachers won’t have the energy to do them. These stunts are certainly problematic for people with disabilities or other kinds of energy issues, but that shouldn’t be coupled with age, especially given how commonly “lacks energy” is a criticism used to avoid hiring older workers. Personally I’d find it more ageist for the VP to assume that older teachers wouldn’t be able to take part.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      As s0meone who is over 60 and disabled, I would assume that the older my staff is, the more likely that one or more have invisible disabilities. This is not because I’m “ageist”, but because I understand the odds of such things – the more years a person has, the more likely they are to have had a disabling event. But the disabled person might be a younger person too.

      In general, I would not encourage planning highly physical “morale building” events unless the job was already highly physical.

      1. iliketoknit*

        Yes, I realize that disabilities (esp. invisible ones) tend to increase with age. I still think that linking it with age, as opposed to focusing directly on the issue of physical ability, should be avoided.

        Agreed that highly physical activities for a non-highly physical job is a bad idea. Morale building for, say, landscapers would likely be a different matter than for accountants.

  34. Alice*

    The eating on the phone, no ideas there. It’s hard to say “that sounds disgusting and you have no manners” in a polite way. But calling in from traffic – if the caller is driving, I think that’s a safety issue. Hands free phone use still engages/distracts the MIND. It took a while but I have become comfortable asking if people are driving or are passengers, and rescheduling the meeting if they are driving.

    1. ecnaseener*

      But as a new employee, could you comfortably ask your manager that – and insist on rescheduling if he was driving? If so, please share the script for LW because that sounds really tricky to get right!

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah even as a not-new employee I’ve gently encouraged my boss not to take calls while driving and always been laughed off (or given a: ‘you’re sweet to be concerned’ which is possibly worse). There’s a whole spectrum between that and your boss being actively offended that you brought it up. It’s risky.

      2. Alice*

        Like I said, it took me a while to get comfortable with it. What helped in the end was
        – confirming with our health and safety people that my company’s policy explicitly forbids videoconferencing while driving.
        – telling my boss that I was going to start rescheduling meetings where someone is doing distracted driving. She had a chance to tell me not to and she didn’t.
        Would I have talked with my manager about it if my manager herself was frequently indulging in distracted driving? I don’t know. I hope I would, because research shows similar performance declines in reaction time for handheld and handsfree phone use while driving.
        Certainly I’d encourage OP to ask her org’s health and safety people if there is a policy about distracted driving.

        1. Alice*

          Question 2: Do HH and HF Phones Have Similar Performance Costs?
          Similar RT effect sizes resulted for HF and HH phones. HF and HH performance while conversing was similar for the variables of RT, detection RT, detection percentage, lateral positioning (SDLP), and speed.
          Caird, J. K., Simmons, S. M., Wiley, K., Johnston, K. A., & Horrey, W. J. (2018). Does Talking on a Cell Phone, With a Passenger, or Dialing Affect Driving Performance? An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Experimental Studies. Human Factors, 60(1), 101–133. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018720817748145

    2. Adultier Adult*

      I had a high travel job for 8 years. The only time I could conduct meetings some weeks was while driving from one place to another or from the airport to a hotel- This was VERY common in our industry. It would have been seen as very odd to have a problem with meetings while traveling- we understood airport, train, and cab noise-

      1. Ferret*

        Whereas at my old job this was highlighted as a key safety risk and we were actively told that we were not allowed to participate in calls with someone who was driving. Even in the construction industry it was acknowledged that driving was one of the most dangerous activities for employees so they took anything which would increase that risk very seriously.

        1. amoeba*

          Yup, same here. It’s company policy to never, ever use any kind of phone, hands-free or not, while driving (for work, obviously).

      2. Alice*

        Meetings while you are being driven — fine.
        Meetings while you are driving — I get that this is common, so common that Alison didn’t even pick up on it, and answered OP in the context of OP’s boss’s bad manners re the chewing. Nevertheless it is dangerous.
        I’m glad that you didn’t have any accidents.

  35. L-squared*

    #5. Alison is spot on. Its not “managers” its management. But just about every job I have left was because of management decisions that I just couldn’t deal with anymore. Maybe my direct manager couldn’t change that, but they were also definitely enforcing those, so I’m not completely leaving them out of the conversation either, even if personally I liked them. Even at my current job, I’ve kind of laid of with my manager all sorts of things I’m unhappy about. The VAST majority of those things she has no control of changing, but she can push back if she chooses to. I’d never hold her personally responsible if she didn’t choose to, but management in this case will still be the reason I leave.

  36. Abigail*

    1: first determine if your mom is venting to you or asking for career advice.

    If your mom is venting, let her vent away. Make yourself into a neutral sounding board. Use a lot of affirmations like “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Or “this sounds really hard.”

    If your mom is asking for career advice, Alison did a good job. I would add this: avoid overwrought language like “trying to kill me” and “I go to bed at 4.” Stick with just the facts and speak only for yourself unless you are a union representative specifically there to speak for a group.

    Most importantly, remember this is not something the VP is doing to your mother personally.

  37. Non-Union State Teacher*

    Has your mom said anything to the principal? You know, the VP’s boss? Because that is a good way to chop this little ball of misguided energy off at the knees.
    And your mom has to realize that if she’s not being paid to practice a dance after school, she doesn’t need to go. For too long teachers have been abused with “do it for the kids.” My advice to all my fellow teachers is “work your wage.” Go home at the end of your contract time. Don’t worry, they won’t fire you. They can’t even get subs.

    1. to varying degrees*

      Has she said anything to the VP? It sounds like she hasn’t and if no one has mentioned to the VP “het some of us don’t like/can’t do this type of stuff” how is she supposed to know?

      1. L-squared*

        Right. Sometimes people don’t know people are unhappy until they actually say so. At least give them the chance to change

      2. Yorick*

        This is a good point. It’s possible the VP didn’t think of the real reasons someone might not want to participate in this and just thinks anyone who isn’t doing enough is being a stick in the mud. She might change her mind if OP’s mom speaks up.

        1. Clisby*

          It wouldn’t even matter if someone was a “stick-in-the-mud” (aka person who expects to do the job she was hired for, not the job of circus clown.

          Just don’t do it.

      3. Appletini*

        How is the VP to know that not everyone can/wants to participate in dance videos? Maybe common sense?

        Maybe the VP has no idea that her dance video idea isn’t universally loved. But in my experience someone who “keeps careful tabs on participation and regularly cajoles those who aren’t “doing enough.” ” is more likely to respond by punishing objectors than to change her grand plans.

  38. Rebecca*

    L1: I am a teacher, and honestly, I would not focus my complaint in this on the physical limitations. Then, best case scenario, they’ll just find a way for her to make Tik Tok videos sitting down. Problem: not solved.

    I’d focus it on these things:

    1. the extra workload of making tik tok videos and other viral motivators is not in her contract and should not be in her workload

    2. she has not consented to having her face and voice used in marketing materials for the school (she’ll have to double check her contract to make sure she didn’t sign anything that would alow them to use it, but the chances are she hasn’t)

    if she is in a union, she should definitely pull them in on this, focusing on those two issues.

    1. WellRed*

      I had the same thought. The physical thing is a problem but the time suck etc is worse and applies across the board. Call your union rep.

    2. Violet Fox*

      also 3. student privacy. Possibly pose this as a question about student privacy laws and what about students that did not consent to be filmed/photographs.

      This also sounds deeply disruptive to educational time and the school day.

      1. Abigail*

        Schools already have media permission slips for parents.

        The VP is highly likely doing nothing against policy. Ineffective leadership is different from illegal leadership.

        1. Rebecca*

          For parents.

          My school kept sending photographers into my classroom to take photos for marketing. Did some digging: they sent those permisson slips to parents, ne er to teachers. I never signed one.

          Never did. They had to either not send the photographer into my room, or take photos of the kis while I stepped out for 5 minutes. Problem solved.

    3. Yorick*

      I definitely wouldn’t claim “this isn’t my job” or “privacy rights” here. Neither of those really apply. The reason she doesn’t want to do it is because it’s high energy and physically demanding. It won’t hurt her to say so. If they think of a low energy and not physically demanding way for her to participate, she can then decide whether she still doesn’t want to and say so at that time.

      1. allathian*

        Not necessarily privacy issues for the teacher, unless they’re, say, being stalked and don’t have a social media presence for that reason. But privacy issues do appy in the sense that most people when they take a job don’t expect that their image will be used as marketing material.

  39. Llama Wrangler*

    #3 is it possible your boss is so busy that he has no option but to take calls while eating or in transit? Not giving you any explanation or apology still points to rudeness, but I know my boss at least is often scheduled for meetings for 8 hours straight, and our internal team meetings are usually the ones where it would be ok to eat (vs meetings with her bosses or external clients).

    1. Calliope*

      This, unfortunately. :( I am usually scheduled 9 hrs a day with meetings, if I didn’t eat during a meeting I wouldn’t eat. Unlike #3s boss, though, I try very hard to be on the mute button, apologize if I chew in someone’s ear, and mostly pick to eat during calls where I am a listener vs leader.

  40. noncommittal pseudonym*

    For people like the VP in #1, I just want to shake them and say, “How, EXACTLY, does forcing people to do something they don’t want to do, makes them uncomfortable, and may actually be physically painful RAISE MORALE? Please, be specific.”

    I had a former boss who was very into singing and choirs. So, every time someone left our team, or there was a get-together with other teams, she would alter the lyrics to some song to be topical to our industry and make all 20 or so team members sing it. Everyone hated it. Everyone. It was completely cringe-inducing. I always wanted to ask her what, precisely, she thought she was accomplishing, besides making the whole group loathe her. She was a good manager besides this little foible, but that foible overshadowed all of her good work.

    1. Reality.Bites*

      If your team members enjoyed singing in groups, they’d also be be in choirs. I know people who participate in group singing – and they don’t try to force participation!

      Wasn’t there recently a letter about two co-workers going to the same sex club? If we can have forced singing in the office because someone enjoys it, what other hobbies can be forced on an unwilling work group? ;)

      1. EPLawyer*

        Even people who enjoy singing in groups might not want to do it AT WORK.

        As for other hobbies, we can force on others at work — see yesterday’s letter about sex in the parking lot.

    2. Camellia*

      This quote should be tattooed on the forehead of every manager, executive, and HR person ever! What do they think, that everyone is sitting in their cubes wishing they could just burst into song? Or get up and dance up and down the hallways? So if they are suddenly required to do that, they will be deliriously happy? Sheesh! When will the little animals come out and join us in our musical numbers?????

    3. Allonge*

      Also: let’s say there are 5 teachers who always wanted to do this and would be happy to participate. VP is messing it up for them too, because now they are doing it with a group who do not want to. It’s the absolute worst.

    4. The Original K.*

      I love to sing and I wouldn’t want to do this AT ALL. Can’t we just do our jobs and go home (or log off, for remote workers)?

  41. Calliope*

    #5 – Also commenting on whether or not it would be a “disservice” to your boss to say that you understand they have no control — absolutely not!! Even if I have no control over it, I’d still want to know it was a factor in your leaving, a) so I know there isn’t any one thing that I did/need to improve for you/fix and b) so I can continue to raise the risk up the chain. When structure / alignment / org changes happen, a reality of that is attrition and a validation of that can sometimes help get more attention on the issue in areas where more senior leaders need to feel the pain to believe it’s real (not healthy places, to be sure, but common in my experience).

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I once left a job to move cross-country, and I definitely let my manager know that (1) I was leaving only because I was moving and (2) I thought he was a good manager and the department was a good department. Exactly as you said, I didn’t want to leave him worrying that there was something he did/didn’t do/should have fixed for me to stay–my leaving was entirely out of his control.

  42. Reality.Bites*

    “I promise I’ll update you as soon as there’s anything to tell.”

    Indeed – job searches rarely have any news worth sharing till they’re over. And when there’s job hunt news to share, people don’t wait to be asked.

    When you think about it, it’s like asking someone who is exploring their dating options if they’re engaged yet. No. Of course not. They’ll tell you when there’s something to tell. Back off. You’re not being helpful or kind.

  43. Kate*

    We’ve had plenty of “OP literally works for Michael Scott” but this might be the first “OP (1’s mom) literally works for Ava Coleman”

  44. DivergentStitches*

    I feel bad for my boss. He’s great, and I like everything about my job except the pay, which is below market. The company knows they’re paying below market, and they jump through hoops to defend their crappy pay (think town halls with them saying things like “what the company is willing to budget for the position” and them thinking this is ok to say).

    Boss knows I’m looking solely because of the pay situation, and he did his best to get me the best raise he could for this year, but ultimately I’ll have to leave because of senior management’s decisions, not his.

  45. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW5 – in addition to “people leave bad management” it’s also worth considering that people follow good management. I have done this twice.

    First time, good manager moved on, and our once good working environment descended into chaos with the new manager. A few months later we heard that old manager was hiring at her new job, and several of us immediately applied and were hired there.

    Second time, bad working environment was mitigated by good immediate management. When that manager’s resignation was announced, I immediately ramped up my job search and in particular where that manager was going.

  46. DJ Abbott*

    #1, I’m concerned that your mom has to go to bed at 4 PM. Is it only because of these new activities, or was it like that before?
    If she’s getting that worn out, it might be time for her to transition into semi retirement. She could still work with children, maybe at the same school, but not be wearing herself out. :)

    1. doreen*

      I’m not sure what exactly is meant by “goes to bed at 4pm”? Does she actually goes to sleep at 4 pm or is it more that she basically relaxes after she gets home from work and doesn’t make other commitments or do chores after work? I’d be more concerned about the former.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      As someone who sees people who try to “parent” their own parents/grandparents, I get the vibe that this is a point of contention for OP. She may have been trying to encourage her mom to retire for a while now (and uses this circumstance as a reason why), but she’s been unsuccessful and is now just trying to get her mom to at least advocate for herself at work. My guess is that OP would love for her mom to retire and just read to kids at the library (or whatever).

  47. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

    Dancing teachers for the sake of social media and for the school’s “brand”? Kids’ education suffered immensely when schools were locked down. I would be like let’s focus on teaching and helping the kids behind in their studies.

    1. Delta Delta*

      If this is a public school why do they need branding? Either you live in the district or you don’t. I don’t see anyone making real estate decisions based on an elementary school tiktok.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I live in a open choice state – my kids can go to any school, regardless of district, as long as I’m willing to transport and the school has seats available. There’s a choice enrollment period in early winter when people going outside their home district make their decisions. Some cities and districts do use branding and marketing to try and attract students from outside the district.

      2. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

        I mean branding in the sense of what the school wants to portray itself as. Almost like marketing. For example, if a school wanted to show how they teach integrity to their students or if they want to show how prosperous their school is and how it’s a positive environment to be taught within. And they want to convey that to prospective students’ parents. That’s all.

    2. Milfred*

      The “dancing nurses” videos had as much negative feedback as positive.

      I’m not even sure this is a good idea from a publicity standpoint.

      1. allathian*

        Agreed. I’m not all that keen on videos anyway, and I avoid TikTok like the plague, but the nurses dancing in full ER PPE made headline news here. I thought it was incredibly inappropriate and a terrible waste of time that should’ve been spent on caring for very sick patients.

  48. Delta Delta*

    #3 – I got a call the other day from someone I have a hard time reaching, so I was very quick to answer her call. Unfortunately, I had a partially-chewed Nature Valley granola bar in my mouth. If you know these, you know they’re the crumbliest food known to humankind. I murmured to her I needed to put her on mute for a second and she could start and then I’d join. I did that, and then explained the granola situation, which made her laugh. I don’t make this a habit.

    Also, I’m a lawyer in a jurisdiction where the court staff is all in a union and they all must take lunch from 12-1. This is magic, because it frees up that 12-1 hour for meetings with lawyers, judges, administration, etc. The downside is that everyone knows 12-1 is the prime meeting time, so either you eat during the meetings or you don’t eat. I think a noon meeting is absolutely fair game for eating.

  49. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    I had a manager who used to tell me “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” all the time. She was a very bad manager and I left in large part because of her. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  50. Milfred*

    Dancing in the halls?

    As an actual introvert, I would hate being forced to dance down the hallway in a school as “entertainment” for others.

    Post a video of it on the internet?

    OMG, I would be appalled at the thought.

    The approximately half of people who are introverts are not enjoying this. They are having their morale broken down by this activity, not built up.

    Your mother should find the introverts in the group who hate this and then, as a group, talk to the VP about the negative impact this is having on about half the staff. I guarantee there are a number of people dreading coming to work everyday now because they might be forced to participate in one of these public dances.

    Honestly, this is one of the things introverts can’t stand about extroverts. They assume everyone enjoys they same things they do. “What do you mean you don’t like being the center of attention?”

    1. Czhorat*

      I’m an extreme extrovert with absolutely zero shame. I would GLEEFULLY dance in the halls, film it, post it online with my terrible banjo videos. And ukulele videos. And juggling videos. And ukulele juggling videos.

      I still don’t want my boss to force me to do it with my co-workers, and prefer a *slightly* more buttoned-up affect in professional settings. Dancing in the hall is, to be clear, NOT MY JOB.

    2. Friendly Neighborhood Extrovert*

      I am an extrovert who would happily spend all day chatting with strangers. I would also hate this. The last decade has seen a lot of pop science writing about how introversion works and why some people need quiet to recharge. Let’s not jump from there to “and if you’re not like that you must be a jerk.”

      1. UKDancer*

        I am also borderline extrovert and I’d hate it. I keep my work and social activities separate. I don’t discuss work with my dancing friends and I don’t make my colleagues dance.

      2. allathian*

        Lots of performers, particularly actors, are introverts. It’s because introverts are often, but not always, very good at listening to others.

        There’s a difference between introversion and shyness. I was very shy when I was a kid and in my early teens. But I joined the drama club in high school, as an actress rather than backstage, and I still think that there’s nothing quite like the high you get after a successful performance.

        I got my first retail job when I was 17. I hated talking to strangers, but doing so with my work uniform on and in my work role didn’t bother me at all, and that got me over most of my shyness even in my private life.

        Now I’m a chatty introvert in the sense that I can fake extroversion very well at the office and in meetings, but I need lots of downtime to recharge afterwards.

        All that said, however, I’d never agree to my image being used for stock photos to be posted on our intranet, never mind on our website. Our intranet is full of photos of employees doing various things, or just sitting around a table pretending to be in a meeting. I’m always seeing familiar faces there. Our brand new DEI program’s just been launched, and I definitely won’t agree to being the token obese person on any of our stock photos. I also hope that the few POC we have won’t be pressured into doing stock photos just because they’d make us look a bit more diverse than we are.

        A few years ago we had a big anniversary celebration of the organization. Comms had made a literal song with more or less coordinated hand waving that we were supposed to perform on video. Thankfully it was filmed in a huge auditorium and you couldn’t make out individual people, but I hated taking part in that. I did enjoy the rest of the celebration, and it was an opportunity for some face time with the brass, so I didn’t want to skip it entirely. Come to think of it, it’s a bit weird because I loved being on stage when I was a teen, but I didn’t have the obesity-related body image issues then that I have now.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I am an actual introvert but I’m also a performer (musician) and I really like dancing, although I don’t always have the energy for it. I would honestly love to be part of a dance routine but not at work and definitely not a mandatory one. So I’m the flip side of the extrovert who doesn’t want to be onstage, as I am an introvert who actually likes being the center of attention sometimes. Yeah, it’s weird, but I can handle performing much better than random encounters with humans in the real world.

      1. UKDancer*

        An awful lot of dancers are actually introvert (especially in things like tango) because you’re mostly not having to speak to people, you’re listening to the music and responding and bein in the moment. Dancing on a stage tends to be a bit more outwardly facing but an awful lot of dance is about being in touch with yourself.

  51. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP1’s question really steams me. I have two good friends who are elementary teachers.

    You know what would improve their morale?
    * Run interference with helicopter parents, and COVID-denier parents, and COVID-paranoid parents.
    * Handle some of the stupid routine paperwork that get foisted on the teachers by the federal, state, and local educational authorities.
    * Make sure that the facilities people get their jobs done. That includes haranguing the superintendent’s office daily when maintenance can’t happen because they haven’t approved the purchase of a $15 part.

    1. CharlieBrown*


      Unfortunately, schools wither under bad social media by a handful of grandstanding parents, and instead of focusing on providing a good education for their students, they work on presenting an unblemished public face on social media. Instead of ignoring the bad press (which everyone gets) and carrying on, they often suck up to these parents. It’s maddening.

      Schools = learning. Let’s focus on that.

  52. amex*

    Here’s my reply to a 29 year old who wants to take 6 weeks off her first year:
    “You have xx hours of PTO. You will need to prioritize your trips and make them fit within this limitation. Unpaid leave is not an option: we hired you to fill this role and need to be committed, present and working, especially your first year. Sorry. Please let me know if you still want the position.”

      1. Millennial with PTO*

        There was an earlier thread that labeled the LW an out-of-touch, entitled millennial. Apparently some people here believe that only employees between the ages of 27 and 42 are capable of making extended PTO requests.

        1. Just Another Tired US Fed*

          Casual ageism is a thing on this site when it is directed at older people. Why this outrage now?

          FWIW, in my 40 year career, I never expected to take even two weeks during my first year in a new job. Six weeks would have been unthinkable. And yes, it is a bit privileged to be that young and have money for extended world travel.

          OP should travel and then get the new job.

      2. Ranon*

        There’s often more leeway for senior level folks because they’re more likely being recruited for longer term/ strategy type work and the applicant pool may be smaller/ needs more specific so companies are willing to do a lot more to be able to hire the person they want. I know one of the senior new hires that came on when I did has definitely taken several week + vacations in her first year but also she’s got a specific set of experience that’s incredibly difficult for our company to recruit for so it’s absolutely worth it. It’s just pretty unlikely that a 29 year old is at that level of seniority where they’d have that kind of negotiating power.

      3. Yorick*

        Well, it’s partly that *in general* a 29-year-old is not gonna be in a super senior position where you have more leverage to make these kinds of requests

  53. El l*

    As is usually true, reality is more complex than a simple saying suggests.

    All the saying is meant to indicate is that management is a key part of questions like, “Does this job fit my needs any more?” There’s nothing intrinsic about being an “analyst” that says you can’t stay in that role for a long time if management makes it comfortable to do so.

    I think your manager was just checking that there wasn’t something they could’ve done differently to tip it towards you staying. Which is very good of them.

  54. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    OP5, it’s both bad managers and the bad management practices they inflict on their subordinates. I left my last job because of a horrible manager who threatened, bullied, gaslit and demeaned me every chance they got. They were a horrible toxic person who had zero management training and they made my life horrible too. I tried to tough it out and stay because the pay and benefits PTO etc were really good, but in the end I had to choose to leave to save what was left of my mental health. Life is too short to put up with bad managers who treat you with disrespect and disregard.

    1. LilPinkSock*

      Oh, I see we’ve worked together! I was a broken person when I left my bad manager. Glad you got out.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Hmmm, I think we must have worked for the same douchebag. Either that or those kind of managers are too common. Ruined a job that I had been perfectly happy in for nearly three solid years before he came in.

  55. mlem*

    It’s so weird to me when people write in that something someone in management is doing is “disrespectful”. They don’t seem to think that saying it’s gross, ineffective, counterproductive, annoying, etc. is sufficient; why is “disrespect” the specific complaint being cited? (For some reason, that spin undercuts the complaint to me, though I can’t put my finger on it. It’s not Cartman, but it feels very … huffy? Defensive about not having a more specific argument against the behavior?)

    1. Colette*

      IMO, “disrespectful” is a complaint about status, not about substance. It’s a complaint that you aren’t been treated the way you deserve to be treated, and it’s taking a behaviour/decision that’s probably not personal and making it personal.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      Remember the posting about the manager who thought that their report was “disrespectful” for wanting their pay in a timely fashion.


    3. Tobias Funke*

      Because some things are…disrespectful? For example, forcing teachers into some sort of bizarre educational conga line is disrespectful of teachers as professionals who are not entertainers. It’s an inappropriate use of their time. It’s dismissive of the actual work they do. And so on. Just because the word sends you, personally, does not make it an inaccurate descriptor of some of the things that go on. And disrespectful is not mutually exclusive of the other words you mentioned. They can all be true. It’s a disservice to yourself and your assessment of a situation if the word “disrespectful” automatically undercuts the complaint.

      1. Colette*

        Of course they do – but IME, people who complain about people being “disrespectful” to them believe they deserve more respect than others because of their position – think of customers who complain cashiers are disrespectful because they won’t honor a 5 year old coupon.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          That’s a very cynical read on the idea of something being disrespectful.

          If I say management is disrespectful of its employees, I am saying that their behavior conveys a lack of respect for their employees. This often is exemplified by arbitrary deadlines, jerking around schedules, gaslighting, yelling, micromanaging, etc.

          Yes, you can bet your bacon that I want to be treated with respect by my manager. I’ve had all too many jobs where it was really, really evident that management did not respect their employees as people, and it showed in the way we were treated.

          If someone is giving me arbitrary deadlines, jerking around schedules, gaslighting, yelling, micromanaging, etc. they are being disrespectful to me. Just because you associate it only with Karenish behavior doesn’t mean it’s not an accurate description of their behavior.

        2. Elsajeni*

          When we’re talking about “my manager is disrespecting me”-type complaints, though, I think it’s much more likely to be something like “just because I’m below you on the org chart doesn’t mean I’m beneath you as a person” — whether the manager is actually treating them that way, or they’re reading normal “below me on the org chart”-type treatment as more personally insulting. (I remember a letter from someone whose boss kept canceling meetings, for example, who was really het up that he was “treating me like my time is less important than his.” Well… it probably is, in the workplace context?)

  56. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: I love getting accommodations because they hold more weight than informal agreements that can be changed or rescinded on a whim. The initial process can be a little annoying, but once she gets that piece of paper excusing her for ADA reasons, she basically has a legal shield. Mine protected me quite a bit in my last job, so don’t hesitate to go down that route if necessary!

  57. Christine C*

    I changed jobs two months before my wedding, in a year where I also had several other friends getting married. At the offer stage I explained I would need three days off before the wedding and one after it in June, a week off for booked travel to a wedding across the country, and that I was hoping to take a two-week honeymoon in the fall but was flexible on dates or could postpone that if needed. I was lucky to get hired at a small, flexible family-friendly org with a kind boss who understood this year was a special one-off situation. They offered three weeks’ vacation time as standard and gave me access to the dates right away (did not have to “earn” them) and then they gave me the extra days around the wedding as congratulatoeu freebies (though I offered to take unpaid time). This was generous and a bit unusual and I was very grateful! I was also able to use two personal days to squeeze in three-day weekend bachelorette trips for myself and my best friend. What I did let go was a day off after my best friend’s Sunday wedding, which I sure could have used. I just struggled through the hangover at my desk.

    I think the level of generosity and flexibility I got was about the most you can hope for. six weeks is a bit much to ask and if you do change jobs you may have to skip/postpone the birthday trips. A wedding and honeymoon may make sense to a kind employer as very special once in a lifetime things… the birthday trips less so.

  58. Madame X*

    LW2 I think the best option would be to take us few trips as possible after you are hired in your new job. Could you take some of those trips while you are currently employed? Maybe plan one or two trips between jobs. You’d have to either hold off on the job search or negotiate a later start date. Then, only plan to take one trip after you get hired. Of course, this depends on how spaced out your trips are and which ones are more important to you.

  59. RagingADHD*

    LW2: changing jobs in the same year you have all this other stuff going on is a recipe for overwhelm. How are you going to get up to speed in the new job if you’re constantly leaving? Particularly with a wedding – it has a way of preoccupying your mind.

    You have six vacations’ worth of PTO banked at the current job. Why not ride it out?

    Even if it’s not a great fit for your interests, you don’t have to put up with it for long before you get another break to look forward to.

    1. Qwerty*

      This is where I land as well. This sounds like a great year to aim for “meets expectations” at current job and start the hunt later in the year. These are big trips (that sounds awesome) and life events that are going to take up a lot of headspace. LW2 probably has built up the good will to have some flex scheduling like leaving early or taking a long lunch to deal with wedding stuff.

      I’ve known a couple people who changed jobs a couple months before their wedding and they did not recommend it. If you really want to change jobs this year, maybe wait until later in the year or have a longer break between leaving current job and starting the next one.

    2. LilPinkSock*

      This is great advice. It’s a big year! I’d sit tight for as long as I possibly could (well, sitting tight on airplanes to all those wonderful trips).

  60. Fire Ferret*

    LW2 – I get the desire to move on from a job that isn’t the right fit, but I think you’re going to have a hard time finding a new job that will accommodate all of that. Unless your current job is miserable, I’d be prioritizing the travel. I would make this year all about the amazing things happening in your personal life and when you’re coming up to the last of your trips I would start job hunting. It will likely take a few months anyway and what better way to end an awesome year than to start a new job.

  61. Daisy-dog*

    #2 – Is there a way to make your current job better suited to your goals? Your current company offers great time-off (or allows great rollover – which is rare outside of CA/CO!), so maybe they offer good reimbursements on training/education? Or some additional projects that you can volunteer for (that don’t interfere with your trips)? If you can find ways to make these next few months more interesting, that is ideal. Because even pre-planned travel is awful for job-searching. You may need to schedule last-minute interviews or get called out-of-the-blue by recruiters.

    Also, even as a 33-year-old, I do internally roll my eyes at the spectacle that bachelorette/bachelor parties have become. “Back in my day” (literally 10 years ago) – it was one night of bar hopping. It seems now like it’s the standard to do huge elaborate trips, but that is really new.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree that if I were OP, I’d probably try to stick it out in this job and start job-searching once I get back from my honeymoon (assuming you don’t want to start trying to have children right way – if you do, just be sure to review maternity leave policies at both current and potential jobs). You don’t say the current job is abusive or making you miserable, just that it’s not the right fit. But I think you might be very distracted with all that you’ve got going on this year. I would worry I wouldn’t be as focused as I’d like at the new job and wouldn’t make a good first impression. That said, in at least some fields it’s a great hiring market right now, and who knows what the future holds, so I’ll understand if others don’t take my advice!!

  62. MurpMaureep*

    LW 5, I get your point and also get why you may feel defensive or frustrated by the shorthand most people use. I’m also a manager who tries to advocate for and support staff as much as possible, but who works in an organization (academic medical system IT) that has embedded norms outside of my control that I know can drive people away.

    That being said, try not to take this phrase personally. I’ve had staff leave because of broader institutional issues (lack of compensation/advancement, internal politics, general process dysfunction), and I’ve also had staff stay (or come back) because they don’t want to lose me as a manager*. Take satisfaction in knowing you are doing the best you can for your staff and don’t sweat things you can’t control.

    *in some cases I’ve advised them to leave anyway because there’s no guarantee I will always be their manager…or it’s just a better opportunity

  63. irene adler*

    OP #1: Sigh.
    If I were a parent of a student in that school, I’d have to wonder about the amount of time spent on these activities. I’d wonder why the focus isn’t on student learning. Thought that was the number one thing schools are there to provide- an education.

    I get that morale is low. Would a wealth of student successes also create morale-building material for staff? THAT would be something to be very proud of!

  64. Retired-not -Tired Teacher*

    LW1 – Your mother has my sympathy. I experienced a similar, but less extreme, experience with a new school administrator late in my teaching career.
    I second earlier suggestions to ask for HR-type support from the union.
    Also, if your mother is a long term employee in the school division, she may be able to have a private conversation with a senior administrator who in turn might encourage the VP to tone down the expectations around dancing.
    Has she spoken to the VP about her concerns? I love Allison’s script of “Physically these events aren’t opinions for me”. That should be enough for a sensible person! And to prove that she is a Good Sport not a Grumpy Cat, she could follow up with an offer to help with future events in other, less demanding ways. (Make a poster? Press play for music? Supervise some kids while teachers practise?)
    At 62, maybe your mother can enjoy one of the benefits of nearing the end of her teaching career. Unless she is planning to move up into a more senior position in the division (such as a curriculum coach, principal), what does it matter is the new VP is keeping track of her participation? If she just needs to survive, she might just always happen to have an urgent phone call/sore ankle/dentist appointment on dance days.
    Your mother might not want to hear this – but is she considering retirement soon? For me it was when teachers were getting pies in the face at assemblies – I couldn’t change the school culture, so I retired earlier than planned. Maybe it doesn’t seem fair, but I am so much happier! I love teaching, and I have continued by doing short term positions where I have the pleasure of working with students, without some of the additional stressors.

    1. irene adler*

      “teachers were getting pies in the face at assemblies”

      It has been decades since I’ve been involved in public school. So maybe I’m out of touch. But no teacher should be even remotely treated in such a manner.

      1. Retired-not-Tired Teacher*

        To build positive school culture/engage students….you pick the jargon. It was to entertain kids so they would like school. Broke a bit of my soul.

        1. irene adler*

          Yeah- I bet it did.

          The teachers I enjoyed the most were the ones who took pains to make the material interesting or understandable to me. That, in turn, made me like school.

          Abusing teachers would make me want to get completely away from that school.

          (and what do such antics model to the students? Degradation is okay if it’s funny?)

        2. Observer**

          And then we complain about “kids these days”!

          I can imagine it broke your soul.

          But I’m betting that it broke the kids, too. Even the ones who laughed and thought it was funny. Because we *need* to have people we can respect. And we *need* to know that at least some of the people who are essentially running our lives (ie the teachers) are people we can respect. Pie in the face says “Nope. Not people you can respect. And by the way that’s not going to change. We’re going to make you learn and follow orders from people who you should have no respect for.”

          Which, really?

  65. Ann O'Nemity*

    An individual manager has the power to ruin a job that would otherwise be awesome. However, an individual manager does not have the power to save a job that is otherwise terrible. In other words, people leave good jobs because of a bad manager, and people leave bad jobs despite having a good manager.

  66. Dumpster Fire*

    “Right out of school” educators are generally EXTREMELY enthusiastic – as they should be – but have generally not yet experienced the ups and downs of the day-to-day job. And administrators who have never taught are completely clueless about the grind that is the day-to-day teaching job. (Why anyone would hire an administrator who has never taught, to work with teachers on a regular basis, is beyond me, but that’s a conversation for another day/week/decade.)

    I’d definitely suggest getting the union involved, assuming there is a union; and your mom should bring a union rep along to any conversation that she has with an administrator. Unless the contract includes language that specifies choreographed dances as part of her duties, she should be able to decline without any repercussions.

  67. Ex-prof*

    LW #1– See, this is why many states require several years classroom teaching experience before one can pursue an administrator’s license.

    This admin clearly has confused teachers looking like they’re having a good time with teachers actually having a good time. I bet even most of the young and spry would rather not participate, but they’re trying to get tenure…

    That LW’s mom is so exhausted that she goes to bed at 4 pm shows how much she is giving. The school should be thinking how it can lighten her load. More hours of a classroom aide scheduled into her room springs to mind. Instead, they’re trying to drive her out of a profession that’s strapped for experienced, talented professionals… heck, they’re strapped for warm bodies.

    1. irene adler*

      Lightening the teacher load might very well improve staff morale too- the whole reason for these antics. Yet somehow, the direct approach is not considered.

  68. Ginger*

    LW #4 – One thing I think a lot of people are missing is that *certain* jobs are a dime a dozen right now, but finding the right job is incredibly challenging for many people. I like the idea of saying, nothing new to report, but if you hear of any jobs doing llama grooming analytics let me know :)

  69. Ginger*

    LW1 – Maybe you should have your mom ask, “If I get injured doing one of these dances, can I file for workers compensation?”

    And +100 on this sounding like Principal Ava from Abbott Elementary.

  70. The Wizard Rincewind*

    LW3, do we work together? My boss is the same, and it really is “just how he is.” When we met in person, he would routinely bring his lunch to our meetings and loudly chew through it. Drives me nuts. I have no solution but I deeply, deeply sympathize.

  71. Van Wilder*

    OP4 – I’m a big fan of just laying it out.

    To a friend, I would say: “It’s going terrible! I see all the headlines saying employers are desperate but that has not been my experience. It’s embarrassing because I’m afraid that people will think I’m lazy or incompetent, but the truth is that the job market is not strong in every field in every location.”

    To an acquaintance, I might say: “It’s been tough. I know the headlines make it seem like employees have their pick right now, but it’s just not like that everywhere in every field. But I’ll make it through. Anyway, have you seen Severance?”

    1. Funfetti*

      Adding to the honesty Op#4 – my job search is going longer than expected as well. I was getting barely anything and then in Nov/Dec overhauled my resume/cover letter/had a self intervention about my efforts which finally brought some interviews this month.

      Being honest with people actually did result in a referral! I was just, “It’s going longer than I thought, but I just revamped my stuff and I’m looking for X.”

      Also…not everyone is paying attention to the headlines as much as we are, especially regarding job related. I mean people see the tech layoffs and thinking one thing, they could also miss it’s a “hot job market” still – which as noted by others, it’s all relative.

      Good luck!

  72. Chilipepper Attitude*

    re #5 – I left because of my managers, not management.
    At my current job and at my old job, there were problems with upper management, there always are!
    But how my managers handled those things AND how they handled many day-to-day things that were completely under their control is why I left my last job and why I do not plan to ever leave my current job.

    It is true, that upper management sets the tone and allows managers to suck, but I still think many of us leave our direct manager.

  73. Lily Potter*

    Regarding “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” –

    I’ve never left a job just because of a bad manager.
    I’ve also never loved a job where I didn’t love my manager.
    (a double negative above but I think it’s warranted….)

    Or put another way, I’ll tolerate a bad manager but I will never love/go above and beyond in a job with bad management. When your boss is a PITA, it just inspires “quiet quitting”. When your boss provides a good example and good guidance, people notice and react accordingly.

  74. Health Insurance Nerd*

    Traveling LW- now is really not the time to be looking for a new job. If your current employer has approved all of this time off, you’re better to stay where you are, and start looking once all/most of these trips have happened. I cannot see a hiring manager being on board with this much time off for a new hire. It’s all well and good to offer to take it unpaid, but that’s doesn’t solve the issue of being down a new person for so long after starting a new role that clearly needs to be filled.

  75. Anony6488*

    Re: #5
    Early on in your career, it’s usually money or type of work responsibilities that make you move. After you are more established, it is your direct manager and teammates that impact your job satisfaction bc by then, you care less about the work and more about making sure you have a steady income and overall work life balance. I have stayed at a job for years doing mediocre work bc it was a paycheck and my direct manager was great. Then there are things where you have a great boss but may be out of his/her hands such as restructure and then it becomes less about your boss and more about getting a steady income.

    1. Yup*

      I agree up to a point. My first 3 jobs, I had either a direct boss, a grandboss, or both, who were outright cruel. The fourth job was where I finally lucked out: the CEO was incompetent and a bit of a bully, but both my direct boss and grandboss were great.

      But those early workplace experiences have left their scars. I don’t trust managers easily, and sadly, I have proven correct several times since that those in power will often abuse their positions, and their workers.

  76. Audiophile*

    Most employers don’t want to start thinking about these kinds of scheduling logistics until they’ve decided to make you an offer, and it’ll seem premature if you bring it up earlier.

    This stuck out because I’ve been asked in many interviews if I have any time off planned. This question always came up early in the process, like preliminary discussions with recruiters, well before the offer stage.

    It always seemed a bit odd asking that early, before I’d even met with the hiring manager.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I have, but usually in the context of a starting date rather than longer term plans.

  77. FloralWraith*

    OP1: If your mother speaks to your principal and they seem dismissive or not helpful, it might be useful to reach out to whoever does corporate communications for the school board.

    I work in corporate comms for a university, and social media took most of my time until recently, and I can see some glaring issues…and I can entirely guarantee this idea wasn’t reviewed by any of your school board’s social media staff.

  78. Sunshine*

    RE: LW #5: In my experience, even in situations where the manager has little control, the manager themselves STILL makes a world of difference. I know there is little room for advancement or change at my current job, but I also know that I have a manager who will go to bat for me 100% of the time, who goes out of her way to make my job fun and fulfilling as much as she can, and in general bends over backwards to make sure I am appreciated for the work that I do. If she left, I would immediately look for other jobs.

    In my past experience, I’ve also had managers with little power to change things who bought into the toxic culture of the office, strung me along, did not praise the good work that I did, and made me feel like just a cog in the machine. The way you communicate with and advocate for your employees can make a world of difference in a bad situation.

  79. Clisby*

    Is anyone here saying the employer would be wrong to deny the request? I, personally, think the employer would be wrong to deny the time off for wedding/honeymoon (although I wouldn’t think it was wrong to make that unpaid time). Other than that – perfectly reasonable to deny it. Also reasonable to allow it but that’s entirely up to management to decide whether this candidate is worth it.

  80. Gaunty*

    RE: #2, I find it so odd as an employee in the UK that it would be so unusual to take 6 trips in a year. I work in HE and we have admittedly got a very generous leave policy, but even then almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year. I wish that the expectation for workers where you are was better!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Also UK, but I think it’s more complicated than the sheer amount of time away, but rather that it’s all fixed already, with no reference to the prospective new employer’s busy/slack periods, training cycles, or other employees’ time.

      That is, if I started a job in January I would fully expect to take my 5.6 weeks this year, but I would definitely not expect to be able to dictate today exactly which days those would be.

      Unless, obviously, I was a total unicorn and they were desperate to secure my services at all costs.

      Which is why I think Alison’s advice to prioritise LW’s own wedding and honeymoon, and be prepared to forego the other trips, is the most pragmatic and realistic.

    2. Good Enough For Government Work*

      Also in the UK, and agreed! That doesn’t sound like abnormal amounts of leave AT ALL.

  81. yllis*

    I just left a job solely because of a bad manager. I worked in a public university and the new director took over.
    He was horrible. In addition to my regular job and covering for the office administrator, he thought I should be an executive assistant to him.

    I _loved_ my department and _loved_ my job till then. I made it clear in my exit interview to the dean that they only reason I was leaving was because of him. I would have happily died in my chair at that job. It was a union, civil service with a pension job and I could not have even thought of leaving before him.

    I was the 4th to leave in 5 months. We all left because of him.

  82. Alliesaurus*

    #4: I commented something similar to this up-thread in a reply, but I wanted to elaborate a little more too. :)

    I’m also in this position, have been looking for a job since late November. (I actually told my mom ahead of coming home for Christmas that I did not want to discuss my job situation repeatedly with relatives and asked if she could help me head that off.) I find that a lot of people I talk to are either just trying to make conversation or are genuinely concerned for me and are trying to be helpful. But humans aren’t often the greatest about knowing what to say, especially in a “real-time” moment, so they end up saying the wrong thing. I definitely concur with a lot of the advice other commenters have left for you as far as casually waving off/redirecting the conversation.

    I do have a couple of good friends who I talk more in detail about this with and who don’t mind me ranting to them. Not sure if you have an SO/roommate/sibling/bff who you can rant to with no expectation of them offering a solution, but it’s super helpful! I feel like I can so much more easily wave off someone’s well-meaning questions/comments about my job search if I’m not also sitting on top of so many emotions about it.

    Also, please don’t beat yourself up about the unsuccessful job hunt! There are jobs out there, sure, but they might not be the kind you want. Maybe they’re entry-level or minimum wage or maybe they’re all in different industries than you want. On top of that, there are a lot of people currently job-hunting! So the limited number of jobs listed are getting what could be hundreds of applicants! Just because you aren’t getting interviews doesn’t mean you weren’t qualified for a role you applied to. One of the other dozens or hundreds of applicants might have just edged you out.

    It can be demoralizing for sure, but it doesn’t sound like you’re just sitting on the couch hoping something falls into your lap. The right job is out there, but it can be super elusive. On top of that, the media IS known for blowing things out of proportion for ratings. The news tends to tout sensational headlines, and I think “employers are desperately hiring” is just one of those currently relevant sensational headlines. It might even be true for certain jobs/industries (e.g., healthcare, restaurants), but it’s not necessarily true for YOUR desired jobs/industries.

    I know for a fact that this all gets old really fast and can feel extremely depressing. But I’ve found putting it in perspective, making sure I’m taking plenty of breaks in the job-hunting process (not just poring over job listings 8 hours solid every day), and adding in fun things I enjoy while I have the time to do them during the week can definitely help! (I extended my Christmas trip home by over a week because I could spend more time with family and job search online a few hours a day). It’s hard, but you’ve got this!!

  83. cncx*

    I’m in my forties and every single job I have left has been specifically because of my manager. Some were garden variety bad, others were inept but well-meaning, some were just absent, one was chillingly cold blooded. In the job I stayed at a decade, I left because they took away my manager, who was amazing.

  84. Good Enough For Government Work*

    OP2’s question (and Alison’s response) really sum up the US – Europe difference for me. Four separate weeks off, spaced throughout the year? I genuinely can’t imagine working anywhere that would be a problem, that’s just… normal amounts of leave. Almost all my colleagues with parental responsibilities take that sort of time off for half terms/winter/summer holidays, and I already have three week-long breaks booked for 2023.

    Four weeks in a row would be slightly different; I know plenty of people who’ve done it, but it does at least require plenty of warning in advance.

    1. allathian*

      Depends a lot on the country, Europe is an amalgamation of a lot of cultures and associated expectations about working conditions, not a monolith. It also varies a lot depending on the field. I’m just talking about typical office jobs in Finland, particularly in the public sector.

      In my current job at a governmental agency, apart from the first year, and the year I returned from parental leave, I’ve always taken 4 consecutive weeks off with no issues. Or even 4.4 weeks, because I prefer to return to work in the middle of the week for a shorter first workweek, so I usually schedule my return so that my first day back at work is a Wednesday. But it does require plenty of warning, our collective agreement stipulates that summer vacations have to be decided by the end of April.

      In addition to the summer vacation, I have nearly another month to spread out. I usually take a week around the end of year holidays, and I was on vacation last week, while my coworker was on vacation between Christmas and New Year. We have 24-26 December off anyway as a statutory holiday.

      Basically the longer we’re planning to be away, the longer the notice period is. I can take up to a week off with about a month’s notice, but it would be very unusual to take more than that during our peak seasons (mid-January to mid-June and September to Christmas). I can take a day or two off with about a week’s notice, but not if we’re completely swamped.

      We have flextime as well as vacation time. So if I work partial days, I’m always using flextime (or sick leave if I get sick in the middle of the day) rather than vacation.

  85. Katherine Boag*

    I have an auditory processing disorder and if there is too much background noise i just cant make out what people are saying at all. This is often compounded by general poor cellphone call quality. So i dont answer personal calls from friends that i know are calling from their car, and for calls I have to take I just do a lot of ‘sorry I didnt catch that’ ‘sorry you’re breaking up’ ‘sorry there’s too much background noise I can’t hear you at all’ until they get somewhere I can actually hear them over the noise. Or they give up and call back later.

  86. Ahdez*

    OP2, definitely delay the job search and stay at your current job! Or at least delay your job search until after the two non-wedding/honeymoon international trips. It sounds like you are comfortable and don’t hate the job, it’s just not perfectly aligned with your interests. One more year at age 29 of this type of job is worth it to finance your travel plans. You have a very busy year coming up, and you know what to expect from your current job. Why risk it by moving jobs now? If you read this blog, you know anything could happen at a new job, even after you vet companies really well!

    If you do move forward, I would definitely avoid mentioning the specific reasons (30th birthday celebrations and bachelorettes) and just say you have travel plans, with the exception of the wedding and honeymoon. It might seem like a good way to convince them of its importance (30th birthdays only happen once!), but I think it might actually come off wrong.

  87. Jasmine Tea*

    What!!!??? Teachers have to prepare lessons, teach, meet with parents, grade papers and tests, be attuned to whether any students have special needs that aren’t being met, etc, etc, etc. NOW they also have to DANCE for the entertainment of their students!!!
    What planet is this VP from???

  88. Here for the Insurance*

    “Maybe it should be, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave leadership / merger / structure / culture changes.””

    This seems somewhat pedantic and almost deliberately obtuse. All those things are the result of human actions. And not just any humans but humans in management. So while the reason a person leaves might not be about their direct manager, it’s about *some* manager or group thereof. Framing it in conceptual terms like “leadership/merger/structure/culture” shifts the focus from where it rightly belongs – on the humans who made those decisions. It makes it seem like the problem is something that just exists without human intervention and oh well, nothing anyone can do.

  89. Fez Knots*

    OP3 – AMEN! As someone who was laid off during the pandemic and now freelances full time, those headlines (headline after headline after headline) about how it’s an “employees market” make me want to bang my head against a wall screaming, WHICH EMPLOYEES? Despite finding employment, I’m regularly ghosted and rejected from interviews, applications, etc. I suggest going the freelance/LLC route if you haven’t already considered it. It took me about a year to save up, plan and find a lawyer/accounting team I trust, but it’s brought me a lot of freedom both financially and from this exact scenario you describe.

    OP2 – I would use all of Allison’s proposed language EXCEPT the part where you say, “I understand if that’s not possible.” Why give them the out? You never know when an employer might just give you what you ask for or be willing to negotiate, but why would they if you’re already telling them you’re willing to give them what they want first. I mean, honestly, you don’t understand if it’s not possible, right? You want to take the time. Go in with that attitude first.

    I try and take this position in all areas. Directly stating what I want with kindness and clarity. That apologetic, “it’s okay to say no to me” is something I realized I was falling into out of insecurity and even my role as a woman in the work place so I try to eliminate it.

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