I don’t want to eat lunch with my boss, can I file a complaint about my spouse’s manager, and more

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

1. I don’t want to eat lunch with my boss so frequently

I have a good manager. He is friendly, supportive, and very flexible with letting me leave early to pick up my young daughters. We have a good working relationship, and I enjoy my job. Roles in my area of expertise are somewhat rare, so I plan to stay in my job long-term.

My manager often asks (maybe one out of 3-4 days) if I want to go out to lunch with him. Alison, I do not. But I accept some of the time because he lives alone and seems to crave social interaction, and it seems like a decent human thing to do, especially when he’s so good to me. But I’m an introvert, and I really value having an hour to myself where I can take a walk, run an errand, etc., without my kids in tow. Not to mention, his favorite topics of conversation are Kids These Days and The Way Things Were. Obviously, I can’t bring my true self to these conversations, so I do a lot of “mm hmm” and “oh yeah”s.

Recently, he sent me an email telling me to block out the lunch hour for us to have lunch together on an upcoming day, which rubbed me the wrong way because I want to be able to decide how to spend my lunch hour (at our company, lunch is an hour long and people actually take it) and he wasn’t even inviting me, just sort of … ordering me. On the other hand, I’m already getting so much flexibility, so maybe this is a small price to pay?

Should I just see these lunches as part of my job? We generally go to places I wouldn’t choose but the cost of lunch is similar to what I’d pay anyway (we each pay for ourselves). I am his only direct report and he doesn’t go out to lunch with anyone else.

You don’t need to go every time he invites you! The easiest way to get out of it is to say you already have plans for that time — errands you need to run, a book club you need to get caught up on, calls you need to make, walks you promised your doctor you’d start taking at lunch. (Conveniently, it sounds like you do want to take walks and run errands, so it should be easy to say that’s what you’re doing.)

It’s worth accepting his invitations occasionally as an investment in the relationship, especially considering how much you like the job and generally like working with him. But that means once every two to three weeks at most, not every three days. Since this will be a shift from what you’ve been doing, it makes sense to explicitly name that for him — i.e., “I’ve resolved to start walking at lunch most days so I won’t be able to eat with you as frequently” or whatever excuse you’re using. And then if he invites you anyway: “I’m going to walk today/catch up on my book club/run some errands, so go ahead without me.”

Alternately, if you think he’d be open to hearing it, you could just be straightforward: “I’ve found having the hour by myself in the middle of the day helps me to recharge for the second half of the day. So I’m going to do more walking/errands/reading. Please don’t take it personally if I don’t join you!”

2. My manager told me that my coworker’s sexism is something I should work out with him on my own

I’m a woman in a managerial role. I have found a male coworker who started a year ago to be condescending and dismissive, not only to me but to many female coworkers in ways that I have not seen him act with men. It’s not nasty or overtly offensive, just a general feeling that he thinks our suggestions, concerns, and questions are irrelevant or based on misunderstandings (they’re not). He also explains extremely basic concepts to us in ways that imply we don’t already know them. Think things like “work weeks” or the subject matter of my own job. I have heard similar things from other women about him.

He was particularly dismissive in a recent one-on-one meeting, which I had asked for because he had ignored my and our mutual boss’s request that he include me in a planning process. I emailed our boss that while I got the information I needed, the meeting was frustrating. I explained the pattern I was seeing with him with women and expressed concern that it may be causing friction on a committee that he chairs. I said I was providing this feedback as she’s his manager and I’d be happy to talk more about it but I’m trusting her to handle it in whatever way she sees fit.

A few days later, she said she would like me to follow up directly with him to work it out. I took a few days to sort out my thoughts, and then I explained that I would not be doing that and that it’s inappropriate to ask someone in the targeted group of discrimination to “work it out” with someone with a bias. I reiterated that I provided the info to her because she has a wider view on his work and could do something (or not) as she thinks is appropriate. She said she thinks managers should talk to each other when they have problems, and maybe he “didn’t mean it that way” or could explain why his behavior wasn’t gender-based. I said I am not going to call a meeting to tell someone I think they have problems with women, and that asking people to work out interpersonal issues on their own as a first step is absolutely appropriate but this is not an interpersonal issue, it’s a systemic-bias issue.

She’s not going to force me to meet with him, but she was so confused about why I wouldn’t that I’m wondering if I’m off-base. It seems like I’d be making myself vulnerable to someone who’s already shown a pattern of dismissing me, in a manner that’s unlikely to yield any benefits to anyone — other than maybe to him, so that he can explain away his behavior!

You are not off-base. When someone reports discriminatory behavior, the answer is not “work it out with them yourself.” You reported this to your manager so she could look at the pattern and decide if she needed to address it. “Work it out with him yourself” is a blow-off, it’s dismissive of your concerns, and no decent company wants managers responding to discrimination complaints that way. (This may or may not rise to the level of a legal concern for your company, but it certainly has the potential to in the future, depending on what else this guy does.)

If you want to, this is something you could take to HR — particularly your manager’s total abdication of any responsibility for addressing it, which they should be interested in.

Read an update to this letter

3. Should I let my employee buy my crocheted toys?

In my current role, I’ve recently started managing people for the first time. It’s been a great experience so far, and I’m learning a lot! I’ve come up against a low-stakes situation I’m not sure how to handle, though. I have a little side business crocheting toys and other things. It’s nothing official, and orders are placed by sending me a message through my page on social media and money is dealt with separately (rather than placing an order through a website with a checkout page). One of my direct reports recently saw some of the things I make, but she doesn’t know about my little side business. She’s mentioned that if I ever went “official” that she’d love to order something for her son.

Normally, I’d just let her know that I take orders and work something out from there. But since she’s my direct report, I feel weird taking her money, even if it’s in exchange for something she wants. But I also don’t want to offer to make it for free just because she reports to me, since she may feel like she “owes” me something. And I also feel strange not mentioning it at all, since that feels unfair for her!

Is there a good way to handle this? Am I overthinking things? If it helps, I generally charge less than $40 for the things she’s interested in, so we’re not talking huge gobs of money, though I don’t know if that matters.

I’d leave the interaction exactly where it stands now — she complimented your work, you said thank you, and that can be the end of it.

If you offered to sell her something, most likely it would be fine. But it opens the door to potential weirdnesses that you’re better off avoiding as her manager. For example, someone on your team could hear she’s buying things from you and wonder if that makes you see her more favorably (even if it doesn’t) or wonder if they should buy something themselves just to be in your good graces. (Or, less likely but still possible: What if she’s unhappy with the product but feels she can’t say anything since you’re her boss? Or she does express dissatisfaction, and you disagree?) Whether or not you think any of that’s likely to happen, as a manager you shouldn’t take the risk. Err on the side of caution.

I wouldn’t worry about it being unfair to deny her the option, since it’s not as if you’re denying her something key to her life that she can’t obtain anywhere else. And if she ever does hear about it, you can just explain you keep your side business separate from your day job.

Read an update to this letter

4. Can I file a complaint about my spouse’s manager?

I just found out that my spouse’s general manager has been driving up our street. We live at the top of a big hill that is a dead end. They have been videoing the drive up our hill and back down and showing it to other managers when my spouse had called out sick on the same day we had an ice storm and could barely get out of our driveway due to our driveway’s incline.

I am wanting to file a complaint with my spouse’s company but I know this general manager will retaliate against them as he has done this to my spouse in the past. Several other employees have filed complaints against this manager with nothing being done, due to him talking his way out of it every time. This same manager has had several HR investigations in just this past year but all were dismissed when the GM confessed that he, a married man, had been sleeping with the HR investigator.

I’ve asked my spouse several times to make a complaint to their GM’s supervisor or higher up until something is done. But my spouse, who has been with this company for over 10 years, is afraid of being fired as they are close to being able to retire with the company. Would it be wrong if I contacted my spouse’s company and filed a complaint myself?

Yes, you would be wrong to do that. You’d be undermining your spouse and destroying their ability to manage their own career in the way they judge best. And not that it would change the advice either way, but because you’re not an employee of this company, you don’t have any standing to file a complaint with them about an internal issue … so most likely your complaint would be ignored, or would cause drama and then achieve nothing. (Frankly, even if your spouse filed a complaint, it doesn’t sound like there’s reason to believe it would change anything.)

You cannot make your spouse manage their professional life the way you want them to. You can talk with them about how their decisions are affecting you, and you can set your own boundaries on what you will and won’t stick around for (although to be clear, this doesn’t sound like it rises to that level). But you cannot cross the line of complaining to their employer yourself. This is your spouse’s workplace, your spouse’s professional risks, and your spouse’s call to make.

{ 463 comments… read them below }

  1. Heidi*

    I’m not sure I completely understand what’s happening in Letter 4. Did the general manager drive to the OP’s house in an ice storm to prove that the street was passable and therefore the OP’s spouse should have gone to work? And why does that matter if the reason the OP’s spouse wasn’t working was because they were sick?

    1. Jolene*

      I was similarly confused. But my take away was:
      1. Boss seems weird
      2. That aside, is there anything that would justify spouse contacting company (short of harassment that would justify protective order, which this does not).

      1. EPLawyer*

        Company is weird.

        It’s not going to change. LW says there have been problems with the company before. I know spouse is just hanging on to retirement — which LW reporting weirdness would not help this. But honestly the best solution is to get a new job. If spouse won’t do that, then LW just needs to be supportive of spouse and NOT interfere and make things worse.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Getting a new job is not easy, even in the Great Resignation, for people who are near retirement. I’m with you, LW should be supportive of spouse and not make things worse.

          However, LW is allowed to put some boundaries around this – if spouse complains every night, LW can ask for a break. Spouse can rant in the car on the way home, talk to a therapist, or pick a rotation of friends to rant to, so that LW’s just getting it once or twice a week instead of every day.

          1. Clisby*

            Sure, but I don’t see anything in the letter to indicate the spouse is complaining. The LW is the one complaining, and I honestly don’t see why. Not their problem that the spouse’s boss is an ass.

            1. Lydia*

              If some weirdo were driving by my house to “prove” it was passable, that would definitely rise to the level of me wanting to know WTF. It’s weird and definitely the problem of other people in my house if it makes them uncomfortable.

              1. Jasper*

                If an employee were to be calling in as “can’t come to work because my cul de sac is impassable”, I don’t think it would necessarily be legally wrong for a manager to investigate that claim personally, at least not in this country (which is not the US, but does have generally good worker protections). But it would definitely be an indication of a lack of trust that’s a Problem. It might even be an indication that they’re trying to find ways to get rid of him before his pension vests, but in ways that wouldn’t immediately trigger age discrimination complaints.

                Depending on how pensions are structured, they might well be an extreme golden handcuff around the option of getting a different job. At which point the LW really shouldn’t rock that boat.

        2. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. I would document this in case it reaches the level of civil harassment (like he’s edged over into stalking) and let my spouse handle it as he wants to. If retirement also comes with benefits like a pension, then all the more reason for OP’s spouse to want to keep his head down for the duration. If the spouse is being harassed at work, then they could consider if any of this is possibly Age Discrimination. This would be an HR discussion.

      2. Massmatt*

        Boss does seem very weird, definitely has too much time on his hands if he’s driving out to the homes of his reports when they are absent.

        I guess LW should count their blessings that the boss didn’t pound on their walls, doors, and windows, or peer into their window with binoculars, as a couple other deranged bosses have.

        1. Thresher of Grain*

          Or crash their wedding, leave a work note on the grave of a just-deceased relative or bully their way into their chemotherapy session…all actual cases of Bosses Behaving Badly from the AAM archives!

    2. Jujyfruits*

      Yeah it’s weird. I’d steer OP to a neighborhood watch. Maybe they can make sure nothing weirder happens.

    3. Jackalope*

      I thought it was that the GM thought the husband was lying and calling in “sick” so he wouldn’t have to drive on the ice. Which if they have separate sick and vacation leave pools there, maybe…?

    4. Brrrrrrrrr*

      I read it as it was after the ice storm, so as to prove the driveway wasn’t as steep/treacherous as claimed.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I read is as out for “roads impassible” was classified in the sick leave bucket. But they thought he could have made it.

        If that’s the case, I would point to Alison’s various statements that your leave is yours to use as you want–you don’t have to prove you’re sick, iced in, etc. But I do think this rubs into a situation conflating where Millville really gets hammered buy 15 minutes onward the roads are clear, stranding employees in Millville, vs someone not clearing their driveway. If the impassible road is on your own property, I can see that getting some side eye.

        OP, your spouse is close to retirement and wants to avoid being fired–stay way out of it and let them get there. The company has practically hired a prop plane to spell out “We will do nothing about Fergus” and there is no “… unless! Someone’s spouse alerted Fergus’s great grandboss that he had been driving on their street!” exception.

    5. Parenthesis Guy*

      I’d like to know whether he’s doing it to prove to the other managers that this employee should be able to come in, or to prove that this employee CAN’T make it in. Based on his track record, I’d think it’s the first one, but LW may want to know that before coming to any judgements.

      1. Observer*

        I think the former. But it doesn’t matter. Boss is a jerk.

        But the OP’s question is only better because they have not done anything yet. If they DO complain to the company? OP, don’t be that person.

      2. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

        It would still be a pretty invasive and bonkers move, even if it was to prove the employee couldn’t come in.

        The employee was out sick, so if anyone was questioning his absence, surely the manager should say “he’s out sick, he’ll be back xxx” or whatever. And politely tell them to mind their own business if need be.

    6. Ellie*

      My take was, they drove up their driveway to take photographs, since the spouse had called in sick due to the snowstorm. Weird boss wanted evidence if the driveway was really as steep as they claimed. It seems like a stupid waste of time to me, but presumably the driveway really is steep, and there really was a snowstorm, so I’d just let it go.

      1. Despachito*

        I think it was exactly this, the boss thought Husband was lying and was checking whether this was the case.

    1. Checkert*

      Especially hilarious if you happen to be a bald person, or someone who, like me, is bald but wears wigs. I really would be washing it in the sink! Not that I’d do it at work, but I suppose it would depend on my level of desperation for an excuse.

  2. RedinSC*

    LW3, one of the things I did for my team was make little holiday ornaments for them, I needle felt and everyone got a little gnome.

    So, if you wanted and your team wasn’t prohibitively large, you could give everyone a little toy for the holidays when they come around again. But that’s only if there’s a work culture of supervisors giving small gifts to staff members. AND if the cost of the materials wouldn’t be outrageous.

    1. nerak*

      The ornaments sound very cute! I had a similar thought that she could make something for her employee’s son for his birthday, maybe on a smaller scale, but that could definitely be overstepping the boundaries. Probably best to just leave it be and if the employee really wants one, she can just buy it using the current system of sales.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I think it is overstepping boundaries, unless she wants to give a gift for every employee’s child’s birthday. Which seems odd, I cannot imagine my boss (who I like and respect and love working for) giving my child a birthday gift.

    2. münchner kindl*

      No, please don’t.

      We had a similar question a while back, a new manager loved some type of needlework and wanted to make a gift for Christmas to her reports.

      Most answers in the comments were negative, because people prefer cash or a gift card that can be widely used to a gift that divisive – many people like handmade items, many people don’t care at all, some activly hate them. And if it comes from manager/ supervisor, there’s no polite way to say “I really don’t like this at all/ don’t need a crocheted doily/ whatever”.

      1. Ahdez*

        I don’t think the crocheted item would necessarily replace a company issued gift card or cash. It’s more like a small personal gesture from the manager, akin to a handwritten card. And the polite way to respond to any gift is just to say thank you, and then you are free to dispose of it if you choose.

        1. RedinSC*

          This, it wasn’t a replacement, but just a little thing from me to my direct reports. They still got the gift card from the organization.

      2. iliketoknit*

        I would assume the crafted gift would be on top of any cash/gift card, not a substitute for. And the employee in the OP’s letter had actually expressed interest in buying such an item already, so presumably likes this handmade gift. Maybe the comment was pure politeness, but you can compliment a craft without saying you want to buy it.

        As a crafter, I agree that a crafted gift isn’t a great idea unless you have a small team, they know you craft, and have made suitably admiring noises about your craft in the past. But honestly if people don’t like it they can just toss/regift/thrift it. Something on the scale of a holiday ornament isn’t, I think, *burdensome* to an employee – it’s very much just a seasonal token, and again, I read it very much as in addition to any regular holiday gift rather than instead of. I agree that if you’re deciding between a $20 gift card to Starbucks or $20 worth of craft materials for a handmade gift, the craft would be a poor choice, but that just seems obvious.

        Anyway, depending on the craft, the time put in may well not be worth it to the crafter, as well. Kind of depends on whether the crafting falls into the “I make way more of these than I can personally use, usually I give to charity/family but I’ll give some to my team at the holiday” bucket vs. the “I have spent significant amounts of time and energy crafting these individual pieces customized for each member on my team” bucket – the latter seems like a bad idea in the absence of very specific interest from your team (like your team members are all chocoholics and you’re an amateur chocolatier!).

        1. polar vortex*

          A holiday ornament can, in fact, be a problem for an employee – it can show how, yet again, Christmas is “everyone’s” default December holiday. I (a Jewish person who has never celebrated Christmas) was given an ornament by a boss (who knew my religion), and it made me feel that yet again, my religion was not being respected (this was far from the only time there were issues). Yes, it’s a small object, but it can carry a lot of weight even so.

      3. Happy meal with extra happy*

        If it comes from anyone(!), there’s no polite to say “I don’t like this gift and/or need it.”

        1. ferrina*

          This is my concern. Crocheted decorations aren’t something everyone likes, and there’s no polite way to tell your boss “I know you put a lot of work into this, but I don’t want it.” And this is a very roundabout way to give a gift to a single person.

          May have worked well for your team, RedinSC, but wouldn’t recommend for most teams

          1. MaryB*

            I think the point is that there is no need to indicate that you don’t want a gift. It’s basic manners that we all should have learned in kindergarten. You simply say “thank you” and accept it. At that point you can give it to someone that would appreciate it, donate to goodwill, put it out at your next yard sale, or simply toss it in the trash.

            1. RunShaker*

              ohhhh boy…you would think. I witnessed rudeness on my new team (been at company 6 months) with White Elephant gift exchange. One person on our team made it very clear they didn’t like the concept, older person been with company 20+ years. No reason given. Our manager spoke privately with them & all seem well until the day. They picked gifts that ended up being “stolen” twice, had to pick again & gift they ended up with they were very clear they DID NOT like it & wouldn’t use it. And left it on table. We’re small team, around 10 people so whoever brought the gift saw first hand the rudeness. Gift bringer was awesome that they never said a word..

              1. takeachip*

                This is a different scenario. Your employee was pressured to participate in a supposedly “fun” activity despite their explicit objections to it. I don’t even understand why that would happen, who cares, why can’t someone just opt out without being “spoken to”? I also hate this enforced gift exchange and the weird competitiveness of stealing gifts. It’s hard for someone to behave graciously when they’ve been coerced into playing along and then have to publicly accept something that other people had already rejected or that wasn’t regarded highly enough for anyone else to “steal”. Yeah I guess it’s technically bad manners to complain about what they ended up with, but it wasn’t a specific”Person A to Person B” gift, it was a generic “Obligatory Item for an Obligatory Activity” gift.

                1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

                  This. At my place we’re invited to participate, not told to, but most times it’s fun since we’ve all worked together for a thousand years. I wouldn’t be horribly sad if we completely did away with it all together because two years ago someone got a calendar of dogs pooping. We still don’t know who the offender is, they have done it nearly every year and after that episode we issued a ‘rule’ that gifts must be tasteful or at the very least decent. One year someone got a gift stolen and cried. Again, not sad if this goes away…

            2. Zelda*

              I think this was in the context of advice to the potential *giver*, not the receiver– don’t give people things that they then feel stuck with and can’t politely refuse. Making them think of something to do with the thing is not such a great gift, and if it can be avoided by not giving specialty items that many or most people will just have to figure out how to dispose of, then don’t give those things.

          2. Common Taters on the Ax*

            I’m with those who don’t see any reason to “reject” a gift unless it’s a pet or a d*ck in a box. That’s not to say that no one ever will, because some people are rude, but that’s not on the giver.

      4. Laura*

        This is a very “know your audience” question. I worked for 15+ years with a very small team that had an inexpensive gift exchange every year and I often did handmade ornaments (Everyone on the team celebrated Christmas and put up a tree every year) and/or baked goods. My coworkers would comment that they loved hanging up the ornaments I made for them every year. My boss and grandboss would gift items like cookie mixes, fancy teas and chocolate, and mugs. Yes, it would have been nice to get more money from the company (we got a $25 gift card every year) but I think everyone on the team appreciated our small exchange.

      5. Critical Rolls*

        Are people really unable to distinguish between company gifts and personal gifts? This reads about the same as responding to someone giving out homemade cookies with “I would have preferred cash.” It feels like very strong language to describe a token-size handmade gift as divisive. If it’s not my cup of tea, and — important caveat — there’s no weirdness around it, I would just say, “Thanks, you made that? Cool!” and move on.

          1. Some words*

            Gifts and social human interaction in general. For that reason I would hold off on the gifts. It’s impossible *for me* these days to anticipate peoples’ reactions to what I might think is something inn0cuous.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              Any time I think this commentariat has some odd opinions on personal interactions, I remind myself that there was a recent interaction on Twitter* where someone talked about deciding to make a pot of chili to offer her neighbours, a group of college kids whose trash was filling up with takeout containers, leading her to think they might not get much home cooking.

              Several people immediately jumped in with reasons this was the height of presumption and rudeness, and all the reasons it might be inappropriate, and one person had a multi-thread (Not tweet, thread) meltdown about the horrible ablism of… offering neighbours some food. Not just “They might have allergies” and “they might not like it” (Valid reasons for the neighbours to politely decline but not likely to cause the neighbours to be offended at the very thought).

              (The actual neighbours’ reaction was “Great! Thanks! We were just talking about what to do for dinner.”)

              So yeah, people all over can be weird about worrying about reactions well out of proportion to the issue.

              * and yes, Twitter has many trashfire elements, some much much much worse since Musk, but this was in a part of it that — usually — isn’t that trashy or on fire.

      6. MigraineMonth*

        Also, giving Christmas tree ornaments to a staff member who doesn’t celebrate Christmas isn’t awesome. Better than Hanukkah Balls, obviously, but not very inclusive.

      7. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Ah yes, like the narcissus bulbs we all got for Christmas one time and had to eagerly open and take care of in the middle of year end! Yeah, I could have done without that extra little task, too.

      8. RedinSC*

        Yeah, in my work’s case this was in addition to the gift card, which is issued by the company, this was a little thing from me. BUT I see your point, and it’s OK if they got thrown away, too. We had a culture of giving little gifts to our staff on top of the corporate card.

    3. OP3*

      I do like this idea! Though I don’t know if everyone on my team would appreciate it, and there isn’t really a culture of small gifts from managers to their staff. (The org gets everyone a gift card to a local book store! But typically, there isn’t individual gift giving.) Something to consider for the next holiday season though!

      1. Tamarind*

        “there isn’t really a culture of small gifts from managers to their staff.”

        Think carefully before you decide to start that culture.

        1. OP3*

          Okay, fair point. I was trying to be nice to the commenter by saying I’d “think about it for next holiday season”, but you’re right that it wouldn’t be worth doing, given the culture of where I work.

      2. RedinSC*

        Yeah, if you didn’t already have the culture in place, I wouldn’t do it.

        At my office it was there, and I like making felted gnomes, so everyone got one, and they were free to throw them away.

        Also, to those saying, but what if you don’t celebrate Christmas – that wasn’t the case, as others said, know your audience, I knew mine.

  3. Peach Tea*

    For OP 3– I wonder if it would be possible for her to lead a class(es) on how to make the the figures?
    She wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t charge for it. And just give participants a list of necessary supplies. No money exchanged.

      1. Onym*

        Right and the employee has given no indication that she’s interested in learning how to make them herself.

        I had a colleague that did beautiful mosaics and I complimented her on it but it doesn’t mean I want to take up that hobby myself.

        1. Giant Kitty*

          I’m a super artsy/creative person and if I had a nickel for every time I’ve expressed a want for some Thing (usually that’s kind of expensive or a little hard to obtain) and had people say “you can just make one yourself!” I’d have enough money to buy all The Things that *I DON’T WANT TO* make myself.

          I don’t know why people don’t understand this. Even if it’s something that is 100% within my skill/experience/patience/boredom/PITA level to create, if I’m able to source materials for it that are the same/similar enough to be satisfying, have/can obtain the necessary tools, it’s not actually MORE expensive to make, etc. there are plenty of times I’d rather just Pay The Money than Put In The Work, or I just pay any Exactly That Thing and not something *similar*.

    1. PollyQ*

      She wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t charge for it.

      Why on earth not? Creating and teaching a class is no small matter, and it deserves to be treated as any other form of labor. I agree with Alison that the matter should be left as it is.

      1. Appletini*

        Because it would be taking advantage of a power differential for a supervisor to create a class the employee didn’t even request, “ask” them to attend, and then extract part of their pay as the fee for the class. It’s not like the employee can say no to their supervisor if she creates the class, or then say no to paying for it since they took it.

    2. Allonge*

      What would this accomplish? It’s easier and still less weird to make one for the employee for free.

    3. Liz*

      This really doesn’t avoid any of the problems of the original letter. Holding a class is *more* work, so it would be weird to charge nothing. And it would be weird to ask her employee to pay to take her class. Honestly, that would be way weirder than offering to sell her a handmade item, since taking a class would involve the employee investing money in supplies in tools, *and* time in taking the class, learning the skill, and making the item herself. The pressure of being a manager doesn’t go away if a class is being offered instead of the item.

    4. Bébé chat*

      Why would she do this ? There are so many videos on youtube about crocheting, so many starter kits, that anyone who is interested in taking it as a hobby can do so on their own. And for people who want to take a class, there are many online as well. Plus, it highly unlikely that a class, or even a couple of classes, would be enough for people to be able to crochet at the same level than the OP. Personaly I tried to teach crochet to my boyfriend and I was terrible at it, because knowing how to do soemting and knowing how to teach it are two very different skills.

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        This. I taught a crochet class at my local yarn shop and it was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done. The students were total beginners and I had to plow through stuff like how to hold the yarn and hook and how to make a slip knot before we could even get to stitches, and stuff that’s automatic to me had to be broken down into its very basic steps. Plus I had to correct mistakes etc. without sounding frustrated or nagging. I don’t know how teachers do it day in and day out.

        I must have pulled it off because everyone in the class gave a good review and the shop owner paid me nicely for my time, but Never Again.

      2. OP3*

        Youtube videos on crocheting is 100% how I learned! I’ve tried to teach friends a couple times, but I wouldn’t want to teach formally (to employees or otherwise) for all the reasons already mentioned!

      3. Zelda*

        “knowing how to do something and knowing how to teach it are two very different skills.”

        Thank you! I’m a teacher, and I have a very salty rejoinder to that old saw about “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Because so often, those who can, CAN’T teach!

        1. Appletini*

          Even a salt brick wouldn ‘t be as salty as that old saw deserves. I absolutely despise it and I’m cheering you on.

      4. Lily*

        “knowing how to do soemting and knowing how to teach it are two very different skills.”

        Amen to that

    5. münchner kindl*

      As Allison said, selling handmade stuff online is not the Only Chance in the World to get this; it’s one shop of dozens on the internet.

      When OP doesn’t tell her report that she is making and selling stuff herself because she wants to keep both things seperate, report just needs to look at a search engine and can find a different shop making very similar nice things, and buy from there without any awkwardness.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        Youtube how-to videos are a mixed blessing. I learned how to change my own oil.
        I also learned that I’d rather visit my gynecologist than change my own oil.

        1. Giant Kitty*

          I learned to change a tire as a very young woman, but that doesn’t mean I don’t call roadside assistance if I get a flat.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I will call roadside assistance if I’m on the freeway, but when I find a flat at home, it takes longer to get AAA to show up than to unpack the wayback to get the spare out and do it myself. If I’m in my home parking spot, I’m the lowest priority. (The garage door sheds self-tapping screws that pierce tires like a toothpick in a burger bun.)

      2. Trina*

        OP could let the report know what kind of terms are helpful for finding similar items – maybe “amigurumi” finds more specific results than “crocheted toys” – or even point her towards a specific shop. That way, report has a better chance of acquiring something she wants (and is willing to pay for) without OP worrying about all the dynamics in the letter.

    6. iliketoknit*

      this would be SO MUCH work, it would complicate the relationship much more than selling, apart from the fact that the employee showed no interest in learning how to make them.

    7. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      There are other reasons in the comments not to do this, but I’m going to offer the perspective that doing this would perpetuate the idea that artists should 1. not charge or undercharge for their time (they should) and 2. do thing for free/reduced rate to “get exposure” (they should not).

      I don’t think your comment indicated either of these things, but it’s significant underlying issue, particularly with fiber and graphic artists especially.

    8. Willow Pillow*

      Why would she turn something she can enjoyably do in her downtime into an uncompensated job? This suggestion seriously undermines the skill and effort that goes into teaching.

    9. Rach*

      If there are resource groups that get money from the company for events, this is actually a really good idea. In the before times my company (big tech) did events like blanket making for hospitals, card making (and if one didn’t want cards for themselves, they could be given to veterans), and ornament making for the holidays. This would fit right in.

      1. Aurora Borealis*

        We have event nights and some people have offered to teach a skill – most recently water color paintings. Its never mandatory and we don’t push anyone to teach. We also have events like zoo walks, sledding and summer picnics. We have a wonderful culture here and I’m just sorry that so many others do not.

  4. Liz*

    OP #2, it honestly sounds like you’re already handling this beautifully but to give you another conversation point to potentially use with your manager: Asking you to “work it out” with your sexist coworker misses the point that he’s exhibiting these behaviors with women *in general* not just you. You have no control over his behavior with other women, and even if you managed to flag for him that you won’t stand for that treatment and he reins it in around you, that has not solved the problem for every other woman in the company.

    Also, I felt like this article was relevant, and it helped me articulate some of these ideas myself: https://www.yoppvoice.com/2020/06/07/the-problem-with-misrepresenting-oppression-as-just-part-of-life/

    1. Alternative Person*

      +1 and a big ‘Aha!’ from me. Thank you.

      I’m currently navigating a workplace misogyny issue and while I appreciate the need for me to manage the individual issue between myself and the colleague, I’ve been struggling to find an approach that would encompass the entirety of the issue with this person.

    2. Prospect gone bad*

      This is beautiful

      In my industry we tend to shy away from huge email chains but in this case it’s beautiful if they got the manager saying dumb things on paper

      I don’t often agree with some views on management here from commenters but as a long term one. I am annoyed with this one. They want the title but not the work. I’ve mediated so many conversations where two people had a disagreement or were bickering or not working well together. Would most definitely let my manager know about this one and let them decide if we escalate to HR.

      No way in hell, even in a conservative male-dominated field, does this just stay with me and not get taken seriously

      even if sexism wasn’t at play, we still have a problem so I don’t get the attitude that there is nothing to work out.

      1. irene adler*

        There’s nothing to work out because it is easier for the OP’s manager to dismiss the situation. Which is, as you say, having the title but not the work. Well put!

        I’m recalling all the times I brought up work issues to my boss, only to have them discounted. One way he did this was to tell me “If the production manager [a male peer in another department] feels this is an issue, then I’ll take action. Otherwise, there’s no issue here.”

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I’m confused. If a report told you that a coworker was being sexist, why would leave it up to your manager to decide whether to report it to HR? Isn’t looping in HR on potential hostile workplace issues part of your responsibility as a manager?

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Not always immediately; I would first look for a pattern, talk with the person, address the issue and then if it continued I would loop in HR. I believe my responsibility as a manager is to do my due diligence and present a full picture with supporting information when escalating.

    3. AngryOctopus*

      Yes, “Just work it out” should apply to “Fergus wants our standing meetings to be at 8:30 on Monday and I don’t want that and would rather have 2:30 on Wednesday”. That, you have to work that out yourselves. This is much more serious–aside from anything else, OP had to call the meeting because sexist coworker failed to loop her into a previous planning meeting she should have been at! OP, you may want to make sure you keep mentioning that as well, to make sure your manager understands that it’s not just him being kind of a pill. He failed to invite you to a necessary planning meeting! That is Not OK!!

      1. Anecdata*

        Has anyone successfully actually flagged this in a way that got a manager to change their mind?

        Because I feel like I could have written this letter, right down to the “he keeps cutting me out of important email chains”, and observing him treat women across the board dismissively, talking over them, etc. and my manager is just oblivious to the idea that it could be anything other than an innocent mistake every. single. time. He thinks he’s a great feminist because “he would love to have more women on the team, it’s just too bad so few women want to be engineers” (our org has about half the number of women in engineering roles as our industry’s average)

        I really don’t want to have to leave, my industry’s not hiring much right now, and I’ve built up a ton of capital at this job that I’d have to start over on if I moved

        1. irene adler*

          It’s hard to get a manager to change their stance on this because nothing bad has happened. “Nothing bad” from their perspective.
          From their perspective: deadlines are met, product continues to ship, no irate customers, etc. So it’s easy to just ignore the report’s issues.

          Something bad-that costs significant amount of money – has to occur to get managers to take steps to make sure there’s no repeat.

        2. Smithy*

          I had a similar situation, and while both I and my manager believed the issue to be 100% anchored in sexism – our HR policy really had zero language to support any claims around sexism. Sexual harrassment sure, but not sexism.

          However – bullying was listed in the HR handbook and while it’s not a perfect 1 to 1 match, it can cover a lot of issues coverd by the OP and other issues around being talked down to, excluded from meetings/email chains, pushed out of relevant workstreams, etc. And again, it’s not truly satisfying in the sense that the gendered reality gets to be sidestepped – but it is better than nothing and can flag a worry that you’re at risk of being pushed out of or off of critical work streams.

          However, the first fix posed to me was “what if you never work with him again” – to which the whole point of filing a bullying complaint was a fear that I was being pushed off of a joint work project. And that not working together would mean that result had been achieved. So it does at least start with the ultimate desired “fix” as one where you remain working on the work you want to keep doing. And the other person in question either needs to be moved or change their behavior.

          1. Anecdata*

            Yeah, that is a big worry for me. I don’t want “get removed from strategic high profile project”; I want “Chadwick stops undermining my expertise on strategic high profile project”

            Unfortunately, my manager thinks sexism is only stuff like “Chad won’t stop pinching my butt”, (and in manager’s, he would intervene if it was something that egregious), and would definitely consider this kind of stuff “interpersonal” instead. And there’s also a risk that by continuing to push on it, I get myself labeled as “can’t make good collaborative relationships with peers”

            1. Hen in a Windstorm*

              So you say upthread you’ve built up a lot of capital here as your reason for not even looking elsewhere (not leaving, mind, just looking). But then here you say you risk being labeled as not collaborative – doesn’t sound like you have much capital from where I sit.

              You seem to be telling yourself some stories around not taking action while still being unhappy, thus trapping yourself. To get yourself unstuck, you have to test if any of your theories are true. Do you have capital? Then use it to make your life better. Are there any jobs worth leaving for? Then take one and make your life better.

            2. Smithy*

              So that is what I was flagging initially – but in our HR manual – sexism isn’t there. Sexual harrassment is and bullying is. So when I went to my manager and said “he’s being sexist” – she first was looking at the sexual harrassment section, and as he wasn’t sexually harrassing me – it ended up in a case of “I don’t know what we do next”.

              But when I went back and said “he’s bullying me” – that was in the HR manual, and far more describes those actions. If your HR manual includes bullying – my suggestion is to switch to that language.

            3. Cookie*

              I had a manager like this, and when a person I supported was bullying me, my manager made it a major part of my review that my chief goal for the coming year was “repair the relationship with [Bully].” The bully was female, the manager was female, I am female – but I was the admin, therefore it was up to ME to make a bully respect and like me, however I could. (News flash: I couldn’t, as my magic wand was out for repair.)

              Fortunately I was able to make a lateral move out of that group shortly after. I could not see a way to stop the bullying…it was so subtle and insidious, making a case to HR would have been tough, especially without my manager’s support.

          2. Observer*

            our HR policy really had zero language to support any claims around sexism. Sexual harrassment sure, but not sexism.

            So here is the thing. Sex based harassment is illegal. So is actions that negatively affect your work if it’s based on sex. It doesn’t matter what your official policies are. So, that’s also a tack you could take. If the person’s behavior is bad enough that your company would consider it bullying, and it’s based in sex, then no matter what your company says that is illegal, and they CANNOT (legally) take negative actions against you to “fix” the problem.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              I don’t understand why they even think it’s okay to have internal policies that don’t need EEOC standards. Discrimination on the basis of sex is illegal, not just sexual harassment. (If this is outside the US, check your country’s equivalent.)

        3. Observer*

          Has anyone successfully actually flagged this in a way that got a manager to change their mind?

          You don’t need to change his mind.

          Here is what you should try – stop letting your boss explain the “reason” for you. Keep on hammering the ACTIONS this guy is taking.

          right down to the “he keeps cutting me out of important email chains”, and observing him treat women across the board dismissively, talking over them, etc.

          Each time he does that you document it. When your boss starts on “he didn’t mean it” stop him and point out that it is STILL a problem. And that any engineer who cannot change his BEHAVIOR, aka THE ACTIONS HE TAKES, poses a risk to the company. There are a lot of rules and regulations. and they even sometimes change. Some of the are also stupid and / or hard to comply with. You STILL need to comply with them!

          And, after a few times of this stuff – especially the explicitly work actions (like leaving you off an email chain) think about going to HR (assuming that they are competent.) Because this is most definitely an HR issue.

          Again, you’re not going to try to change anyone’s opinion. But hopefully you will be able to force the issue by focusing on behavior and impact. And if not with your boss, then with HR.

          1. Even more anonymous*

            Yes, this. Also, although it’s frustrating and demoralizing and you shouldn’t have to do it, stop “flagging” and hoping someone else will deal with it. The OP “trust[ed] her [boss] to handle it any way she saw fit”–but it turned out that how the manager saw fit wasn’t want she wanted at all. (Worth considering–because I’ve seen this–is that the manager has her own battle with the problem employee and isn’t able or willing to spend her capital on someone else, especially if the manager doesn’t highly value the OP for other reasons.)

            What you are doing is waging a covert campaign. Get everyone that you trust on board if you can. Especially valuable are those who are well-liked and don’t have a lot of lose by speaking up (have lots of other job opportunities, etc.) Document all the times your work is slowed down or you’re not meeting your objectives because of this person. Be specific–even if to yourself–about the remedy that you want. OK, you want to the problem to go away. Understandable. But believe what you’re being told that it’s not going to. Are you trying to get this person fired? Is it enough just not to have to work directly with him? Is it enough simply to get pathways for women to succeed despite him? Can you handle the consequences if you try and fail?

            In a workplace where we’ve succeeded against someone like this, it look a long time and a turnover in other key staff. In the end, I don’t know exactly what the tipping point was. And some of the victims did succeed by merely keeping their heads down, building what capital they could, and going on to better positions elsewhere.

      2. Observer*

        OP had to call the meeting because sexist coworker failed to loop her into a previous planning meeting she should have been at! OP, you may want to make sure you keep mentioning that as well,

        This is so much on target. It’s what takes it to a place where the manager really loses plausible deniability. You simply can’t use “didn’t mean it that way” on blocking people from getting access to their work!

    4. Massmatt*

      Great article, thanks for posting.

      I would add that the misogynist’s manager is a big problem here for failing to manage. When someone brings up a problem with one of your reports, you need to take action, not just shrug and say “work it out”.

      I also hate the manager’s implied “both sides” idea. When someone is sexist, or racist, or otherwise discriminatory, the solution is not some “middle ground” compromise. That kind of thinking excuses awful behavior and forces a wedge to allow more of it, when we should be allowing none. Or at least, less.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Yes, it’s like that illustration of “meet me in the middle, says the unjust man” and then you take a step forward and he takes a step back and says “meet me in the middle” again.

    5. Robin Ellacott*

      This is a really great way to frame it. Thanks for sharing the article – I now have a better idea how to explain WHY it’s not the same thing when people make these comments.

    6. Bee*

      This is also particularly absurd because her complaint is that he doesn’t take her seriously simply because she’s a woman – what on earth makes the boss think he will suddenly take her seriously enough to amend his behavior if she complains about it? The OP cannot resolve it herself *because of the nature of the problem.*

      1. tamarack etc.*

        Working things out on their own is fine – between people who *already take each other seriously and treat each other with professionalism and respect*.

    7. LW 3*

      Thank you so much, everyone. With the comments about continuing to flag it: He cut me out so entirely from the process that I didn’t even hear about it until after the project was completed, so there wasn’t much to do other than explain why I had actually needed, and still needed, certain information. Because I was able to get that info, and because in general I can navigate around him, he’s not actually keeping me from doing my own work. I’m mostly concerned about people working for him, and others who may not have as much power to navigate around him, which is why I wanted to flag it for our boss, so that she could keep an eye out for that. That’s also why I felt fairly justified in refusing to follow up with him more than I had.

      The reason I wasn’t able to respond to any comments today was that I’m dealing with an entirely separate equity issue that HR is making horrible in ridiculous ways, so HR is really not an option for follow-up here.

      1. Molly the cat*

        But he is making your work harder, isn’t he? Wasting your time and destroying your morale is a valid thing to address even if he didn’t block you completely.

    8. Boof*

      Yes I mean, WTF LW2’s manager
      — the behavior is happening to multiple people, not just LW2
      — LW2 has no authority over him
      — at best LW2 could start refusing to work with him whenever he gets condescending, but this could easily backfire without higher support/heads up “I won’t work with you when you’re condescending” gets reported as “LW2 won’t work with me!” etc
      — and also his manager should care because it is illegal, bad teamwork… the list goes on!

  5. Anonariffic*

    I like “I’ve resolved to start walking at lunch most days” for LW1, especially since it’s true. But I’d probably be safe and mention needing a private chance to be recharge at the same time- otherwise I’d worry that this guy might be oblivious and/or attention-starved enough to respond with, “Great idea, I’ve been wanting to get in shape too, walking club! What route should we take?”

    1. chips and scraps*

      Yeah, I think you really want to be clear about needing alone time – it feels easier/more polite not to, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he invited himself along otherwise. Agh.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        As much as I would sympathize with this lonely manager, though, if he started ordering me to block off dates to schedule lunches? Each time I got that order, I would firmly decline. I mean, even if it was a good day to go to lunch, if I was told “Save Wednesday for lunch”, that would trigger an automatic no.
        I have blocked out that day/time already.
        “Then save Thursday.”
        No go; I have blocked out that day. “Could you please go with me to lunch on the next Monday?” Maybe. Ask me Monday morning.
        The more insistent he is, the more he doesn’t get what he asks for. I mean, the hour is MINE, right?
        Bosses who demand time they aren’t entitled to should be treated like that old Neil Diamond song’s line: “When it’s good for you, and you’re feelin’ alright.”

      2. Some words*

        It’s possible to be both honest and gracious in this situation. The default instinct to come up with plausible lies just risks additional complications & misunderstanding. If you need that hour to yourself it’s okay to say so.

        Are any compromises (like both agreeing to lunch together only on Wednesday, for example) acceptable?

        1. Hannah Lee*

          “If you need that hour to yourself it’s okay to say so. ”

          It should be. But we’ve also seen examples here of bosses who give employees a hard time for taking PTO they’ve earned and entitled to because the boss didn’t think the reason for the day off was good enough. LW may need to evaluate whether her boss will accept that approach without push back.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            This doesn’t sound like boss wants to work and will give her a hard time because she should be buckling down alongside him. This sounds like Boss is trying to be social, probably because *he* finds chitchat over food a good way to relax at lunch, which is a different dynamic, and IME less prone to the “not good enough reason” reaction.

            She *does* need to be clearly sincere in her reason and not sounding like she’s brushing him off, but it sounds like that’s already true because she does have a reason.

            And if he wants to schedule the lunch time sometimes, she can turn that to her advantage for the long run; lock in a lunch day every three weeks, or once a month, so he isn’t asking her out of the blue and messing up her actual plans or her private time, and she can prepare for that (much less frequent!) day she isn’t going to have a private recharge. “It works best for me if we arrange this in advance, because I can plan for it.” is a valid thing to say even of an event you *are* looking forward to.

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      Agree. It might work best to tell the guy she’s an introvert and a weekly lunch is tiring, but every few weeks would be fine. I know OP would probably rather not do these lunches at all (I’m with you, OP!) but setting the cadence for herself might help a lot.

      1. gmg22*

        Agree with this. “How about a standing lunch date every other Tuesday,” and then be honest that the rest of the days, she really needs her introvert/recharging time. And sure, for office diplomacy purposes LW can frame the reason for this need as “to be the best employee I can be!” but should know that really it’s simply because this is your break time that you, individually, are entitled to!

        1. Jaydee*

          I think suggesting the standing lunch date is a good idea because it really emphasizes that this isn’t about not wanting to eat lunch with him anymore. It’s just that her availability to do that as frequently is changing. But she’s making it a priority by setting a standing date for lunches together.

      2. Momma Bear*

        “Truth be told, I’m an introvert and use my lunch break to recharge. I don’t mind sharing my lunch with people now and then (if this is true) but most days I just want to run errands or read a book.”

        And maybe offer to “opt in” instead of “opt out”? “I don’t always know if I want to be social on a given afternoon, but would it work for you for me to ask you about lunch vs you asking me?” Then OP can pick a day now and then for the lunch.

        It might also work to invite others (bear with me) to sort of spread the wealth. Introduce Boss to an extrovert who would love a lunch buddy, and maybe someone they don’t work closely with so the optics is better professionally.

    3. ferrina*

      Eh, some bosses might, but some bosses definitely wouldn’t. LW should tailor based on what they know of their own boss.

    4. Cait*

      Yeah, I saw that unfortunate loophole for him there too. I think maybe some sort of commitment on OP’s end might help soothe a potential hurt ego. Like if she says, “I’ve committed to using my lunch hour to run some errands and take care of personal obligations, but I would love to make a standing lunch date with you every third Wednesday of the month if that works for you.”

    5. Mrs. Weaver*

      I would give the “I’m walking at lunch time” comment, and also say “I’m planning on using that time to listen to audiobooks, so I can keep up with my book club”. Best to mention it at a completely separate time from when the boss is asking to go to lunch together. Then just pull out a phone and headphones when heading out the door.

  6. Quickbeam*

    Comment re: #3……tread carefully with your side business. My former boss had a retail side business and often did commerce with her direct reports. My boss even took some on field trips to the business on work hours. It ended up being an interpersonal issue with those who didn’t get invited. It ended in a messy, awkward way. It’s just best to even avoid the appearance of a personal relationship outside of work.

    1. JSPA*

      And #3 didn’t ask, but the whole “work something out” is at best agnostic on the topic of taxes collected and reported. At minimum, it feels like it could be “off the books.”

      No idea where OP is. And this isn’t normally a high-stakes thing for the tax authorities to investigate. But (especially if OP does anything at work requiring legal compliance or dealing with money or “ethics-y” stuff) there’s at least a small risk in giving people the sense that they’re cool with being paid under the table. (Even if in fact they’re reporting it scrupulously.)

      1. OP3*

        Fair point, though my job has nothing to do with money or finance, so all good there! And not that it matters, but I probably make less on my crochet stuff than some people do selling random items on facebook marketplace!

        1. JSPA*

          Those sales are all potentially taxed in theory (ebay, etsy, facebook marketplace, and everything else) if what you sell an item for is

          a) more than what you bought it for
          b) more than the cost of the materials

          Most yard sale and a lot of facebook-marketplace stuff is used things sold at a modest loss or break-even; and it’s also “occasional.” At that point, you don’t have reportable gains.

          But anything that’s more habitual can easily count as a business (even if you don’t want it to) and trigger a need for a lot more forms and reporting (even if you’re reporting losses).

          I do a craft/art thing very much on the side, too, but I only donate to fundraisers, gift to friends, or sell through a crafter’s organization (who handle the tax stuff correctly), because the tiny extra stream would not be worth causing a bingle if the IRS ever happen to randomly look into my other, non-craft tax stuff.

          I also don’t want to be on the hook if someone manages to find a way to [insert here whatever unlikely way an adult or unsupervised infant could hurt themselves with my art, or with yours].

          You do you / you assess your own risks (but I’ll put a tax reference in the comments anyway).

          1. OP3*

            I mentioned this below, but I’m definitely not making a profit. If I was, I would need to charge way more than $40/item just for materials, nevermind time/labour (there have been a lot of discussions about this in other threads, as well).

            I appreciate the advice, but I’m definitely fine from a tax perspective (plus, I don’t live in the US!)

            1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

              Yeah, in the US you would simply file the income and expenses on a Schedule C. Elsewhere, you would obey your own country’s tax rules.

              A side business is just that, a side business. In most cases, it is pretty much a paying hobby – it brings in enough to cover materials and postage and maybe a little more. But it doesn’t replace your day job.

              If you have a website that people order through, then, if you wanted, you could just point them to it. Then they become just another customer, and you treat the transaction that way “Oh, there must be lots of Jane Doe’s in this town.” and just … fill the order like any other. Don’t do it in person, or anything outside of your normal (side) business routine.

              In my side business, I vend at SF&F conventions or craft shows. Lots of my repeat customers I’ve known for years, even before I started my business. I am fair with my pricing, and some of it is making sure my friends have access to the stuff I sell that I source from other locations.

              If a person I worked with, or even a manager, wanted to buy from me, I would handle the transaction just like with anyone else. (This actually happened in early 2020 with Covid masks.) It was important to respect people’s boundaries and the difference between workplace dynamics and side commerce. Also, whether or not a person bought something made no difference in our working relationship. If I actually had a website this would be even easier.

    2. Phryne*

      I do wonder if LW3 sells to other co-workers. Because if they do and only direct reports get left out, that could make things feel weird.

      1. OP3*

        I have sold to co-workers in the past, though it’s mostly if they hear from someone else I crochet AND are interested in buying something, they’ll message and ask. Definitely not something I advertised. This was also long before I knew I’d have a direct report, so I didn’t have to think through these dynamics. So that’s partly why not saying something felt weird, but I do like the suggestion of “Keeping my crochet out of the workplace”, even if I have to add, “going forward” to the end of that sentence.

        1. Phryne*

          Yes, it is a real pity that it should be that way, after all, it is just some fun crochet, but once you are in a position of power over anyone it is probably better to keep the line clear.

        2. to varying degrees*

          I’m actually of the opinion that I don’t get what the big deal is. Maybe she didn’t use the exact verbiage, the she did indicate an interest in buying from you as opposed to you advertising or marketing to her. If you end up selling on Etsy and she wants to purchase the product how is that any different?

          1. Lana Kane*

            I agree with this. This isn’t a gift, which could certainly cause friction on the team. The employee made the overture, and iof there is concern about their not being comfortable saying anything if they don’t like the item, I’m sure the OP can say “If there’s anything wrong with it, please do let me know. I want to make sure people are happy with what I make.” or whatever. It doesn’t have to be so fraught.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            The issue is that you really shouldn’t have reports involved in your side business. It goes along with the “gifts should flow down” rule: setting up any way for your reports to give you money has the potential to pressure them to spend more money than they want to, or to look like bribery/favoritism to others.

            Yes, the actual amount of money is very small in this case, but it’s good practice to keep side businesses and main employment separate.

  7. John Smith*

    LW4, the best thing your spouse can do is look for another employer. A company that has taken no action against a manager who has been complained about several times, and sees it as OK for him to be sleeping with an investigator in a disciplinary process sounds almost as toxic and dysfunctional as mine (what the manager did sounds like something my managers would do). Incidentally, I don’t suppose your spouse is a coworker of LW2?

    1. Jade Rabbit*

      After half a century of office politics, I have noticed there are always managers (at different levels) who are like teflon. No matter how the egregious the behaviour, nothing sticks. They stay and every one else has to leave… there’s really no rather option.

    2. JSPA*

      This close to retirement, if he’s been sucking it up, maybe he’s content to think, “yup, the GM is a tool, but so what? If I’m lucky, he’ll slide on the ice and learn a lesson.” If husband is down with that, the LW needs to follow his lead.

      This isn’t physically threatening behavior. It’s just tool-ish. The roads are public. Filming in public spaces is, broadly, legal.

      And there’s a good chance work already factors this in to any reports he makes. They don’t feel they need to fire him because he’s probably loyal (beyond reasonable limits), a stickler for the rules (ditto), and/or he and those above him all have dirt on each other, so they’re at a standoff.

      Keeping one’s head down and counting the days to retirement is a perfectly viable answer, if the employee feels fine with that.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Not to mention being close to retirement puts a person squarely in age discrimination, which can be impossible to prove. (and some of if makes sense about whether it is worth it for someone who will be leaving in a relatively short period of time.)

      2. Antilles*

        That was my reading too: Husband knows the boss sucks and isn’t going to change, but it’s also not worth rocking the boat when you’re counting months till retirement.

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Agreed, JSPA. It sounds like the spouse is very aware of the dynamics and personalities and is making well-considered decisions. I’m sure it’s super hard to watch someone you love be stuck in a bad situation with ridiculous people, knowing that they deserve better than the treatment they’re getting.

        One thing worth considering, LW, is the impact on you. Is there any direct impact? (There may be, I’m not there so I don’t know!). Indirect impact? Are you worried about the GM escalating in a way that feels unsafe? Is your spouse frustrated about work and it’s manifesting in a way that’s not great for your relationship? Figuring out the core of what the problem is for you will hopefully guide you to some possible solutions.

        One possibility to consider: If it’s causing you discomfort to hear a play-by-play of all the nonsense your spouse is dealing with, could part of the solution be that they could tell you less about it? Maybe they get 5 minutes when they’re home from work, but after that there is no more work talk. There are other people your spouse could vent to and get support from who aren’t you. It can be very frustrating to listen to the same complaints over and over, at length, from someone who is not taking action to change anything, even when there are good reasons for staying the course.

        Obviously, I’m just thinking out loud here. Maybe none of this applies to your situation and you should ignore all of it!

      4. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Although “close to retirement” might mean 55 rather than 67. Some people use that kind of vague wording as an excuse not to act. We’re just assuming it’s literal.

        1. Malarkey01*

          Sure but husband has no problem with it, that’s the important thing. For what it’s worth if I saw a manager doing this at my house I too would think this guys a moron and a jerk but it also wouldn’t be something I’d waste any political capital on at work. Everyone gets to draw their boundaries where they want and husband has decided so wife should drop it.

    3. Snow Globe*

      I know the answer to a jerk boss that isn’t going to change is usually to find another job, but I can absolutely understand that for someone nearing retirement, just letting it roll off your back while you count the days is often the preferred option. It really depends on how close to retirement, and what kind of benefits they’d be giving up to move (if they’ve been at that company many years, they may have more vacation, bonuses and other perks that they might not have at a new job).

    4. Mockingjay*

      I don’t think this can be stressed enough. OP4, do NOT intervene in your spouse’s career by contacting their manager or company. You will get them fired, if not immediately, eventually through some pretext. Your spouse is close to retirement; depending on your family circumstances, they may have to find another job until retirement age but now has a firing on their work record. Just don’t. There are too many negatives. You’ve noted yourself that the GM is seemingly immune to consequences, so what do you really think will come of your intervention?

      1. Spinner of Flax*

        This x 1,000, Mockingjay!

        Another factor (that shouldn’t exist but does) is that the LW’s interference in their husband’s job will be noted by his unhinged boss, spread around the office and made the subject of sexist jokes about LW’s husband being henpecked, pussy-whipped, etc. His last years on the job will be spent listening to moronic cracks about his being the jelly-spined hubby of a castrating bitch. Unhinged Boss will make sure that his colleagues never forget what the LW did and will make his remaining time on that job hell on earth.

        So no, LW, do NOT contact your husband’s batspit nutty boss – doing so will make his life on the job ten times worse than it is now!

    5. Observer*

      LW4, the best thing your spouse can do is look for another employer.

      True. But that’s not the question the OP asked.

      I mean, sure have a conversation about finding another job. But do NOT take this action in hopes of forcing the issue and MAKING them find another job because they got fired!

    6. Robin Ellacott*

      It’s so bizarre that their response to finding out that the manager was sleeping with the investigator was to trash all the investigations against the manager.

      I mean, obviously you can’t use THAT investigator, but that seems like more evidence that they should be investigated pretty rigorously.

  8. Persephone*

    LW4 – you need to be talking to your spouse. You need to make it clear to them that what their manager is doing is unacceptable, a violation of both of your privacy, and is making *you* feel unsafe. I know changing jobs can affect retirement plans, but in this case, it’s worth it. Your spouse might have fallen into the Sunk Cost Fallacy (“I’ve invested X amount, so I can’t bail out—even though bailing is the better option.” I’d recommend researching it.)

    If your spouse won’t take action at work, then they need to find new employment. They love you and shouldn’t be alright with you being subjected to this.

    That being said, DO NOT CONTACT THEIR WORKPLACE. You *will* make things worse.

    1. JSPA*

      This is based on a counterfactual premise, at least in the US (and probably anywhere else that Streetview and TicTok/youtube videos taken in public exist); there is no presumption of privacy in “what can be filmed from a car passing your house.”

      If he puts it on the internet, he miiiiight have to blur license plate numbers and identifiable faces, but that’s about it.

      1. Persephone*

        Did you read the letter?

        The boss wasn’t on this street by accident. The boss got the employee’s address from their file, went and drove past their house WHILST FILMING in an attempt to gather evidence against the employee being sick. He then showed that video to other people in the workplace. The street is a dead-end—he wasn’t passing through. This isn’t just a car passing a house who happens to be filming. He filmed their house from their driveway. Why would a boss film an employee’s house from within the driveway without their consent if not in an attempt to look into the house?

        This was not an accident. It was deliberate and is completely unhinged. No well adjusted person does this.

        This is a privacy violation that affects everyone in the household. I’m not claiming it’s illegal, but this behaviour can escalate—and that’s when it goes from disturbing to scary and threatening.

        If you called out of doing something with friends, and the one who organised it drove to your place, filmed around your house/area, and then showed the footage to your other friends to get their opinions on whether you were truly sick, you would not be okay with it. It’s even worse that it’s happened in the workplace, and that the person who did it is someone who holds power over LW’s spouse.

        Don’t downplay this.

        1. Persephone*

          I made a mistake! He did not film from their driveway. Sorry, that’s my bad.

          So you know, marginally better. Still unhinged.

        2. JSPA*

          Wait. Anything that “feels creepy” to anyone becomes “a violation”? Do you…know the definition (*and the history of the definition) of “violation”?

          This isn’t a violation of anything except the social rules of good behavior.

          It flashes, “GM is a total tool, who hopes to make people look bad, or catch them in lies.” Not, “GM is a threat to our physical safety.”

          After 10 years, I imagine that, in a small company, they all know each others’ addresses…because they all know each other far too well. No need to go file-diving. (There’s no hint of that in the letter; it doesn’t say, “he somehow found our address.”

          Look, any of us who’ve been stalked [me too] are quick to see signs. Whether they’re there or not. It’s how we stay safe.

          But as freaked out as the letter writer is, they still made no mention of the address being secret. That, to me, says that the address was not secret–or we’d have heard all about that, too.

          It’s not appropriate to spin a true-crime drama out of an overly-nosey GM who likes to yank people’s chains. We’ve had way too many letters from the other side…I thought my employee wasn’t really sick, so I drove by; I was worried about my employee so I drove by; I wondered if my employee was working two jobs, so I drove by… it’s a stupid, half-baked urge that strikes too many people as a fine thing to do, until after they’ve done it, and then some of them realize it’s kinda icky, while others double down and demand to know what the big deal is.

        3. ferrina*

          Unhinged? Absolutely.

          Illegal? Probably not (INAL, please correct if I’m wrong).

          Just because something is terrible and wrong doesn’t make it illegal, and even if it is, doesn’t mean that it’s worth the cost to fight it. Is it wrong and unfair? 100%. But unfortunately, the boss could make the husband’s life much, much worse. LW and husband need to make some hard choices on what is the path that is best (and safest for them). I feel for them, and I hope they’re free from this soon.

      2. ecnaseener*

        It doesn’t have to meet the *legal* definition to be a violation of privacy. Holy nitpicking Batman.

        1. Leave it Be*

          In fact, it does. If what he’s doing is legal, there is no basis to take disciplinary action against him.

          A complaint, whether to the police or the company, will cost OP his job and retirement benefits. Leave it be.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            I’m pretty sure that a company could take disciplinary action against someone who did something that’s terrible, but legal. In this situation, it’s *highly unlikely* that they’ll do something. But in general, things being illegal isn’t the bar that’s needed to have a conversation with someone and tell them to knock it off.

          2. New Jack Karyn*

            A job can take disciplinary action regardless of whether something is legal. It’s not against the law to be a jerk, but people get fired for it all the time.

        2. every week is data privacy week*

          Agreed, also the lw should be able to have peace in their home, too. That is so not ok. Just because everyone films everything these days doesn’t make it ok.

          Who knows what the boss is doing with the videos? Posting identifiable people in front of their home or license plates (eg your car parked in the driveway) can open you up to identity theft, etc.

          It sucks that we’re just expected to put up with this. I agree calling the police is probably not useful but it also sucks that its the case.

          My own local police department wouldn’t do anything because they’re incompetent, so I’d report it just to get it logged to establish a pattern if it happens again but I know that’s not the case everywhere.
          (They previously blew me off about a valid concern I reported and were condescending, so I guess it’s better than violence but still ugh.)

          1. pope suburban*

            I mean, I think there might still be some utility in reaching out to law enforcement. Probably, if this is in the US, they will tell you that there’s nothing that can be done, in which case you’re no worse off than you were before. But they might have some advice, or they might send someone to drive by on a courtesy patrol, or…frankly, I don’t know what else they might do, not being in the field myself, but I’m sure they do! Part of the job is answering questions for people in weird situations who don’t know where the lines are, so I don’t think there’s harm in asking.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              There is definitely harm in asking. Folks have been killed because they called the police on someone “seeming suspicious”. Do not involve law enforcement just because a behavior bothers you.

    2. Allonge*

      Subjected to what, having someone drive by on their road? All due respect but this is way overreacting.

      Presumably OP’s spouse is an adult who can make their own employment choices. OP has a right of course to discuss with them if spouse is miserable or the misery affects their marriage!

      But demanding your spouse to change a job because their boss once filmed your house is pretty out there.

      1. Persephone*

        He didn’t “drive by on their road”.

        He took an employee’s address from their file, drove to their house, filmed their house and area without consent and then showed the video to coworkers in an attempt to discredit the employee.

        As somebody living in this house, LW’s privacy was also violated here. They absolutely have a right to refuse to accept this.

        1. Allonge*

          The outside of your house, if it’s visible from a public road, is not private information. Nor is your area! It’s very likely on Google maps, most likely viewable to everyone from around the globe.

          Boss is a tool for sure, but that is a different issue. I don’t think we need to encourage OP to consider this a Scary!TM event. What’s next?

          1. Antilles*

            Also public information located online via Local County Tax Assessor’s website if you own your house:
            Where you live, when you bought your house, what you paid for your house, the square footage of your house, and a very general sketch of buildings present on your property.

            1. JSPA*

              I’m based someplace that even gives a rough schematic of the inside of the building. “I feel protective of my space, including the surrounding area” and “I get to treat all my information, plus the whole street, as private” are just not the same thing.

        2. iliketoknit*

          There’s nothing in the letter that says he took the address from the employee’s file. The GM may have already known where they lived, for any variety of ordinary reasons,.

          It’s annoying behavior but it reads much more to me an overbearing manager who doesn’t trust their employees/wants to always be right, rather than a true creeper who’s doing something personally threatening.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Agreed. This is definitely not great. I wouldn’t like it. But I’m reading this as an attempt to film the general environment, rather than trying to film inside the LW’s house. Those two things are pretty different.

    3. JSPA*

      In addition, this is not the meaning of “sunk cost fallacy.”

      Firstly, there have been no costs. Secondly, there is nothing additional to be lost.

      If he takes 1, 3 or 10 videos of their street, he has the same dang footage each time. If they have (say) mismatched curtains, a) it’s already public b) he already can see that on the first video.

      Yes, the world has some legitimately dangerous people in it; but they’re vastly outnumbered by tools and fools. And someone planning dangerous mayhem seems unlikely to be this open about their surveilance.

      1. Persephone*

        I think you’ve misunderstood why I was referring to Sunk Cost Fallacy.

        LW’s spouse might be in that mindset in regards to whether to continue putting up with this. They’ve been employed for X amount of time, and they have Y amount of time before they can retire *with this company*. They’ve invested themselves in this job, so they want to see it through to the end—even though leaving *is* the healthier, more beneficial option (derived from what the letter says).

        Also “unlikely to be this open about their surveillance”? As a woman, I know different. Dangerous people give off bright flashing warning signs almost always. And the people who can do something never listen when the potential victim raises the alarm.

        1. Nikki*

          You have no idea whether leaving is actually the best option. It’s true that this sounds like a very toxic environment but there might be other considerations at play. Maybe the husband has a pension that he would lose if he left, which would be hard to recover from if he’s close to retirement. Or maybe there are other benefits to him staying on for a couple more years that outweigh his manager’s weird behavior.

        2. doreen*

          The bit about “retiring from this company” make it sound like there is a company pension , since 401K , other private retirement savings and SS and the equivalent don’t depend on working for a particular employer. Even if the spouse won’t lose the pension altogether, there can be a substantial penalty for leaving early – I would have lost $12K a year in my pension if I had left six months early. I’d put up with a lot for a couple of years for $12K a year for 20 or 30 years.

          Oh, and if they would fire or otherwise retaliate against the spose for complaining, there’s no reason to thing things will be any different if the letter writer complains rather than the spouse.

          1. PensionsAreGood*

            You can transfer the funds into other savings vehicles. But you could lose other things. My pension plans has a benefits plans and that would hurt to lose.

            1. doreen*

              Sometimes – not all pensions provide for a lump sum payment rather than a monthly payment. Once I had ten years of service in my pension plan , my only option was a monthly check at retirement age. There was no lump sum option and I could not withdraw my contributions after 10 years.

              1. Howard Bannister*

                My pension has the option to withdraw employee contributions. And only employee contributions.

                The employer match is 4/5s of what goes in.

                It is literally a massive gift to the employer to ever cash out that pension. Whenever I hear of somebody cashing out I remind everybody I work with that they keep 4/5s if you cash out.

                Always be familiar with exactly what policies apply to your own plan and what your options are! Some will penalize you incredibly and it’s not in their best interests to give you a complete warning about how badly you could be screwed by their policies.

                1. Anon just this one time*

                  Whew, I’m in the retirement business and have never seen such a terrible policy.

                  It is also worth double-checking the info used to make any pension calculation. When I left my old employer, I had the option of letting the pension sit until I reached age 65 or taking a payout. The amount was based on my age (so, DOB), tenure (dates of hire and separation), and final salary. Four data points. Simple, right?

                  They screwed up my date of hire, date of separation, and salary; pretty much everything they plausibly could. All errors in their favor. I demanded a correction, fortunately I had my pay stubs and hire letter though I didn’t need to show them. The difference in the lump sum was over $40,000. I took it and rolled it to an IRA. I can only imagine how difficult this would have been to correct if I had waited until I was 65.

          2. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Even if there’s no benefit in retiring from that company, there is a benefit of working until you’re XX years old, and if the husband gets fired before that age, it’s going to be very difficult to find a new job.

            1. Massmatt*

              Was going to say this. I know I am often as guilty as anyone of the tendency to say “your boss is awful, quit and get another job” here, but in this case it seems pretty off base. Unless your skills are truly rare, the job market is not easy for someone close to retirement age.

            2. Splendid Colors*

              My grandmother was fired by Sears within a week of when she would have qualified for her pension.

              This was when I was a baby, so I don’t remember anything myself, but based on my mother’s story, I don’t think she managed to get another job.

      2. ferrina*

        This could be a case of Sunk Cost Fallacy. The thing that is lost is Time (this is actually a common cost in Relationship Sunk Cost Fallacy and Do I Get This Degree/Certification Sunk Cost Fallacy). And yes, the additional things to be lost are Time, Career Opportunities, Sanity/Peace of Mind (this is a real cost in many toxic relationships; workplace cPTSD is real). Often when someone is staying at a toxic job, Sunk Cost Fallacy is part of the reason. But there could be real sunk cost- if Husband is waiting to be eligible for a pension or certain retirement benefits. That’s stuff that he may choose to wait for.

        This boss could be ‘legitimately dangerous’- part of being open about the surveillance is that 1) he wants the employee to know what is happening and feel stressed and scared (super common in abusive relationships) and 2) he is so far from social norms that he doesn’t feel what he’s doing is wrong (which is terrifying- this is someone who will cross lines and doesn’t care about social contracts).

        This is horrible behavior of a boss who is clearly unhealthy to be around, but I genuinely don’t know if it’s worth the fight that LW wants to do. Husband could be fired and denied a pension or unable to find a job; boss could be even more terrible to husband.

        Side note: please avoid language like ‘legitimately dangerous’. In emotionally/psychologically abusive situations, people often grapple with the question “is this bad enough?” There usually isn’t a clear line of what is/isn’t bad enough, and terms like “legitimate” are used in minimizing (“oh, it’s not ‘legitimate danger’, you just strongly suspect that this person wants to cause you harm. That’s rude of you to assume- you need to wait until they actually cause harm before you can be sure”….except by then it can be too late). Unless you’ve been in that situation or devoted study to it, it’s easy to undersestimate the power of language (and I am genuinely grateful you haven’t been in that situation! May you go your entire life without ever being exposed to that!)

    4. Despachito*

      I agree with just the part she shouldn’t contact his workplace.

      The rest seems to me a very exaggerated reaction – while what the boss did was annoying, it certainly didn’t rise to the level of “she is subjected to something terrible and he should not be alright with this”.

      OP4 told us two important pieces of information: 1) that her husband is very close to retirement, and 2) that if somebody complained in the past it had no effect. It is understandable if he does not want to make waves and just quietly retire. If he (they) did complain it would cause him a lot of stress, possible retaliation, and is likely to achieve nothing. If he was mid-carreer, it would make more sense for him to want to get out of the toxic environment, but while he is nearing the end of his work and wants it just to be quiet it is HIS call to make, and OP4 should leave it up to him.

      1. Bit o' Brit*

        But LW4 left out another very important piece of information: why they want to make the complaint. There’s a wide gap between “the principle of the matter” and “feeling unsafe in your own home” that definitely has an effect on whether it’s reasonable to push for something to be done.

        1. Persephone*

          If your partner’s boss took their address from their file, drove to your home, filmed your home/area without consent, and then showed it to colleagues all in an attempt to discredit your partner, would you feel safe?

          Feeling unsafe is the reasonable response to this.

          1. Bit o' Brit*

            I completely agree, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to tell someone to just suck it up if they don’t feel safe in their own home or say that it’s “not their call to make”.

          2. Ferret*

            I honestly don’t think I would have this reaction, and I don’t think your argument that anyone who wouldn’t feel like you do is fair.

            And I didn’t read a single indication that LW is afraid, just that this behaviour is outrageous (which I agree with) and that they want their spouse to do something about it – although it seems like there is very good reason to believe that whether it is LW or their spouse who complains that nothing will be done

            1. Persephone*

              Sorry, but I’m not American. We have different employment laws/work culture where I am. Not as good the EU, but better than the USA (in most cases, there are faults in everything).

              So I can only speak from my perspective, which is completely astounded that none of you think this is a big deal?????? Like, why would you stay somewhere that treats this as okay????? Beyond bad life circumstances, of course.

              1. Ferret*

                Please stop putting words in people’s mouths and making assumptions.

                I am not American. No one has said it is not a big deal, or that it is ok, and it is a bad faith reading for you to claim this. I have just said that that I would not personally feel AFRAID and that it is possible, given the lack of any indication otherwise, that LW is the same

                1. Persephone*

                  I didn’t say you were American. The majority of people who write in and comment are, so it is reasonable to assume that the majority of people replying are (just like it’s reasonable for you to assume I am too, which is why I clarified), but I never said that you were American.

                  I also never said that LW should feel afraid. I’ve implied that that they should be highly alarmed and stated that I think action needs to be taken where possible—and that I think that action is LW having a very serious discussion with their spouse about this.

                  Don’t put words in my mouth.

                  You can only read this letter and the comments from your perspective. And I can only read this letter and everyones’ comments from mine.

                  And my perspective is from an early 20’s woman, who has personal experience with her father’s ex-boss treating him in a way that interfered with her medical care when she was a young, vulnerable, severely mentally ill teenager.

                  I have been in worse than LW’s position. And I don’t want anybody else to go through that if I can help it.

                  I’m not sure how I can read these comments in good faith, when this is something I care about and all of you are telling me I’m overreacting and that this isn’t that big of a deal.

                2. chips and scraps*

                  Persephone, I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience with your father’s ex-boss. I do think you’re seeing this through the lens of that vulnerable teenager, and actually as a result missing some of the quite different vulnerability of an older adult coming up to retirement.

                  No one here – absolutely no one – is saying this manager’s behaviour is OK. But it really may not be the biggest threat facing LW and their spouse.

              2. chips and scraps*

                I’m not American either and I would be FURIOUS about the boss’s behaviour, but I would not be frightened. I would be frightened of losing significant retirement benefits, though.

              3. Euphonia*

                I’m not American either, I’m actually in the EU, and I STILL think you are being wildly ridiculous about this. Your responses in this comment section are so OTT that I am honestly worried about you.

                And your inability to understand the things people are explaining that answer your final question here in weird. Like, you get to have a different opinion than others, of course, but you are acting as though yours is the only possible answer and everyone else is behaving weirdly, and that is some seriously limited reasoning. (Are you particularly stressed right now? Sometimes stress can shut down our ability to think and reason in this way – you seem to be exhibiting that sort of thinking. if so, it might be worth taking some time to deal with your stress instead of posting here which seems to be exacerbating your situation.)

              4. iliketoknit*

                I would be annoyed, but not alarmed or frightened, in the absence of other details that haven’t been provided here. I’m sorry that you went through a bad experience with your father’s ex-boss; that sounds terrible. But I also don’t think it sounds typical, or exactly like what the boss here is doing.

              5. JSPA*

                This comes close to the “don’t randomly dump on the US for being the US” rule.

                Not to start an argument on any of this, but if you’re not from the US… despite it feeling familiar, due to TV and movies, or being just across a permeable border… the US is not “basically your country, but with a different accent.”

                The legal rules are different because the social rules are different, and the social rules are different because the legal rules are different.

                1. Despachito*

                  Fair enough, but there are some things that are generally valid irrespective of the borders (or at least within the Western world)..

                  One does not have to know specific laws to be able to tell that it is not a good idea to interfere with your spouse’s work, unless the risk is really high, which is highly unlikely in this case. And in such a case (if OP thought their lives were threatened), it would be appropriate to call the police, not contact Husband’s work.

                  And if it does not reach this level of severity, it is definitely up to the employee (in this case Husband) to deal with his own company as he sees fit. Alison warned many times against spouses contacting the other spouse’s workplace, and I think it was useful advice. If the boss was my boss, I’d definitely think he is a jerk but I’d be livid if my husband contacted my work for me.

            2. EPLawyer*

              Yeah, there is NO sign she felt unsafe. LW is just very angry that boss was checking up to see if spouse was lying. And she Wants.Something.Done. But what will be done is spouse’s work life will get harder.

              This is not the time to call the police or tell your spouse that is it the end of the world this happened. Its time for a talk about whether sticking it out at an unreasonable company is worth it or not. Based on facts not hysteria.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                I agree 100% and I’m American.

                We’ve had other letters about spouses interfering in the employment relationship and it never works well.

                LW, as annoying as this sounds, it doesn’t sound like it’s worth giving up a pension over, and that decision is not yours to make unilaterally.

          3. Cat's Paw for Cats*

            I actually would not feel unsafe in this situation. I would definitely think the boss was a jackass.

            1. amoeba*

              I mean, I would not feel unsafe in my home. I would, however, feel very unsafe about the employment conditions (as the spouse) because I’d consider my boss a controlling creep (who also appears to think the worst of me) if he did that and would be constantly on edge working for him.

              1. JSPA*

                Fair enough. But spouse has had 10 years to gauge how much of a jerk the guy is.

                And I don’t see the sense in proactively giving up the non-portable part of his retirement, due to the fear of losing it due to escalating pressure from the creep boss. “You can’t fire me, I quit” can be a winning move, but usually not this close to retirement.

                I would not be surprised to hear that the GM harasses people reaching retirement age to try to save money rather than paying the pensions. Husband thinks he can ride it out? Let husband ride it out.

              2. ferrina*

                Totally agree. Boss sounds like a horrible person. Patrolling down the street sends a message- I’ve got my eye on you, and I’ll do what I want, regardless of what’s right or respectful. That’s a fear tactic designed to make you feel unsafe (“I can reach you anywhere!”).

                JSPA, the 10 years thing is not a guarantee. Husband will know what kind of a jerk Boss is, but trust me, with people like this, part of the danger is you don’t know how far they will go until they go there. They aren’t subject to normal rules of society. You never know when/if they will cross that line. If a dog is growling, you don’t assume they’ll never bite. What you do next will always be a calculated risk with no guarantee of safety.

          4. Asenath*

            I would not feel unsafe if my crazy boss drove by on my road filming my house. I’d feel annoyed, I’d think he was an absolute idiot, and I might bring it up at work (or I might not, if he was one of these teflon types, or if there were no actual work consequences such as losing a day’s pay because, hey, he could drive on the road, or I didn’t want to lose my pension). But I wouldn’t be afraid or unsafe, unless he was a LOT more violent than is indicated by the letter.

            And I am not American, and don’t live in the US.

            1. WellRed*

              I’d be annoyed and possibly amused and make sure to tell others about my loony boss. He’s an an ass with too much free time.

          5. Sassenach*

            I agree. I am surprised at the number of people downplaying this. I would be appalled if my boss did this.

            1. Clisby*

              Then you could complain to your company. If you have a spouse/partner, I hope they would not dream of complaining on your behalf.

          6. Despachito*

            Safe in terms of him doing physical harm to me or my family: very likely yes (unless there are some other indications he may become violent, which does not seem to be the case).

            I’d definitely be angry or at least very annoyed and weirded out, but would not feel personally threatened. I would of course be influenced by any repercussions that might have on my husband but this holds for any workplace discrepancies. He would be the most affected so it is up on him how he would want to react, if at all.

    5. Still*

      ” I know changing jobs can affect retirement plans, but in this case, it’s worth it.”

      Is it?

      It might be, for some people. Depending how close to retirement they are, how affected they are by the manager’s actions, how difficult it would be to find a new job at this stage (and age!), to what extent it would affect their retirement plans.

      I think it’s far from a foregone conclusion whether or not it’s worth it. And the LW seems to be pretty clear on the fact that their spouse doesn’t think it’s worth it at all.

      Is it creepy, inappropriate and a violation of privacy? Yes. Is it worth sabotaging your retirement over? That’s a little more complicated.

      1. Persephone*

        If the spouse is retiring within a year, then yeah I would get seeing it through. But anything more than 2 years and that’s unreasonable.

        The spouse isn’t the only one being affected by this guy anymore. Everybody in the household is. LW shouldn’t be subjected to their spouse’s boss using his position to violate their right to privacy and safety.

        Would you feel safe if your boss did this? Or would you feel disturbed and uncomfortable?

        1. Still*

          I agree with you that it would make anyone feel uncomfortable! And I agree that the right course of action is to talk to the spouse. I’m just saying that ultimately they have to work out what to do between themselves and it’s hard to tell what’s the right call from the outside.

          I’m not really getting the impression that the LW wrote in because they’re scared for their safety – in that case, I think talking to the police might be more of an option. My impression is that the LW wrote in because they see the manager’s behaviour as outrageous… in a boss. As in, that’s clearly a terrible person to work for. I get why you see it as a personal safety issue, I just didn’t get the sense that that was the main focus of the letter.

          And honestly, if the boss is unhinged enough to pose actual physical danger to the family, changing jobs might not help, or might even lead to escalating the situation. It’s hard to know with someone who clearly is so far over the line.

        2. Ferret*

          “Unreasonable” is not a judgement you can put on a specific number of months given how subjective this decision is and how little detail we have about any of it. I get that you are having a very strong reaction to this but not everyone would and that is a decision that they are entitled to make.

          While I obviously can’t say for sure how I would feel about this if it happened to me I don’t think I would feel threatened – weirded out and angry yes, but not to the level you seem to be assuming is the default

        3. Curious*

          The problem here is that, while it’s easy to see how OP would feel disturbed and uncomfortable, tool-boss is probably not committing a criminal offense, not even meeting the threshold of behavior that would qualify for a harassment order.

          And if spouse is close to retirement, they’re at an age where finding another job may well be easier said than done. Age discrimination is quite real.

        4. Allonge*

          If my spouse’s boss showing up in a car in our street (filming or not) is a threat of violence to me… well, I would have a much bigger problem than OP has.

          I live in GDPR-land. I really don’t think I could convince police or anyone else that this is unsafe for me. Weird, annoying? Sure. Problem for my spouse and for our family? Absolutely.

        5. Lady_Lessa*


          Even if LW’s spouse is 3 years from retirement, that would mean he is about 60 or so. He might not be able to find a comparable job at that age. And depending upon how the vesting, etc. is set up, a lot of money could be lost.

        6. Anon just this one time*

          Two years difference in a pension plan could cost someone thousands of dollars per year in guaranteed lifetime income. Not to mention the earnings from actual employment; the job market is not great for most 63 year olds.

        7. JSPA*

          1. Have you interviewed for jobs at the age of over 62? With bad-or-no references from your last employer, of over 10 years? If not, I’d suggest waiting until you’ve had that experience.

          2. Do you live someplace where your ability to retire not only in comfort, but without the risk of ending up destitute, is largely- to- entirely dependent on your pension? If not, I’d suggest thinking long and hard about relative risks.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s definitely annoying and unacceptable behaviour but I wouldn’t call it that much of an invasion of privacy unless the boss stuck the camera through the windows.

      Furthermore, the closer one gets to retirement age the fewer job opportunities exist elsewhere. Despite all age discrimination laws this happens a lot. I’d put up with a lot worse from my current employer to hold onto my (exceptionally good) pension from them.

      Alison is right though, this isn’t a decision or action for OP to make. If their spouse doesn’t want to take any action then that is their decision and should be respected.

    7. Clisby*

      What in OP’s letter indicates to you that they feel unsafe? They sound (justifiably) annoyed, but so what? The world’s full of annoying people, and the vast majority of them pose no danger to us.

    8. Observer*

      You need to make it clear to them that what their manager is doing is unacceptable, a violation of both of your privacy, and is making *you* feel unsafe.

      Based on what the OP describes, if this is actually how they feel, THEY are the one with a problem. The boss is jerk to be sure. But nothing he’s done that the OP described rises to the level of threat the OP has standing to push this way.

  9. grlgoddess*

    LW3 – To keep work seperate, if it ever comes up again you could find another crafter who makes similar items, and refer anyone from work to them instead of your own business. That way, if they’re sincerely interested, their money can go to another local artist you like, and you dodge any potential conflicts

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I like this… it goes along with the phrase ” amiguri are all over etsy*.” Offer her a link to a shop that you “look at for inspiration sometimes.”

      (*Unintentional speech to text humor that this phone wrote: “I’m a gorilla over Etsy.”)

  10. Pennyworth*

    I live on a dead end road and if I (or any of my neighbors) saw someone driving up and down the road filming for no good reason we would report it to the police. Just a thought.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I guess maybe whether you were warned in advance? Like if a TV show was being filmed or something, there would probably be advance notice given. Or if the car they were driving in made it clear it was an organisation that might have good reason, like it was a police car, which might be filming a reconstruction or it was marked as representing a news channel or something like that.

        1. Allonge*

          To be honest I had in mind not some professional camera crew and setup, but boss or someone taking his cell phone and filming with that, which is a lot less obvious in the first place.

          But indeed those are good examples both for ‘I would expect advance notice’ and ‘probably ok anyway’.

        1. Chikkka*

          The most logical reason for a person to be driving up and down a road while on their phone is that they are simply lost, and using their phone for directions.

          However there are tons of other reasons, like grew up there and visiting for nostalgia, need a quiet place to film themselves/do a FaceTime call, filming something for TikTok, etc.

          Anyone using an actual film crew (rather than a phone) clearly has legitimate reason to be there.

          I can’t believe AAM of all places is recommending phoning the police just because a car you don’t recognise drives down the street. That’s how you get black people killed.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            I used to live on a quiet, picturesque street and we had at least one occurence of someone filming an amateur music video there. It was very obvious what they were doing, though.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            A commenter is saying she would report it if someone were *filming* on her dead-end road, which presumably gets no traffic beyond the neighbors. It would be a non-emergency with a description of the car in case of future burglaries though. The point is moot for me though, because I live just off a state highway. Enough traffic we no longer even blink when strangers turn around in our driveway.

            For what it’s worth, a driver filming is a violation of distracted-driving regulations in my state.

            1. Allonge*

              It would be a non-emergency with a description of the car in case of future burglaries though.

              Genuine question: what is the expected outcome here? Obviously OP would not say it’s the car of their spouse’s boss, so that factor is not known to police, but what then? Do police take a note of the make and model? How is that helpful to OP, other than some petty revenge (but is is revenge if Weird!Boss never knows)?

              1. Meep*

                Embarrassment when it comes to something involving the other party being creepy but being unable to defend their creepy behavior is a very powerful tool.

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  But the boss isn’t going to know that the OP reported their car, so how would they be embarrassed?

              2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                Why wouldn’t OP tell the police that it’s the car of their spouse’s boss, if they chose to call in? I imagine the complaint would be more about harassment than the filming itself. I’d doubt the cops would do anything, though.

            2. Chikkka*

              “her dead-end road, which presumably gets no traffic beyond the neighbors”

              What, the neighbours never have visitors? No one ever gets lost? I know on AAM a lot of posters identify as extreme introverts who can’t handle someone saying hello, but in the real world most people have friends and a social network.

              Someone parking a car then pulling out a phone is an extremely normal thing to do. Calling the police every time you see a car you don’t recognise is an extremely strange overreaction. Move into a gated community if you’re that afraid of outsiders.

          3. ecnaseener*

            Yeah, that’s making me very nervous about what happens when some teenagers make a tiktok on Pennyworth’s street.

            1. YouWithTheGlasses*

              I think that depends on where they live. I live in a small subdivision right off of one of the major roads in my city. If I saw a strange vehicle driving through my neighborhood I would assume it was something harmless like a person visiting one of my neighbors or using my block to get themselves turned around in the right direction. But where my parents live? They’re way back in the woods. Like drive 20 minutes out of town, until you lose cell phone reception and turn right at that one funny looking tree. The closest house is about 2 miles away. So if Pennyworth lives somewhere like there I think its reasonable to be a little suspicious if a strange car is rolling through. Though calling the police immediately does seem like overkill.

          4. Samwise*

            It’s a car they recognize, not some random car. If it happened once or twice, I would document it. If it happened multiple times, I would call the police.

            (If it was a car I didn’t recognize, but it returned several times to drive up and down and film, I would call the police.)

            Sometimes, it is ok to call the police to deal with a situation that is appropriate for the police to deal with.

            1. Totally Minnie*

              In this case, though, I wouldn’t recommend that the LW call the police.

              First off, because in most areas I’m aware of, calling the police for something like this would result in a report being filed at most. No investigation is likely to occur, they’re not going to stake out LW’s street, they’re going to write it down and stick it in a file cabinet and never look at it again.

              And secondly, the boss has proven himself to be a vindictive jerk who can wriggle out of almost any consequences of his behavior, and LW’s partner doesn’t want to take action because they want to stay at this job until they’re ready to retire.

              In the unlikely event that the police actually do step in and talk to the guy, he’s going to know or guess that the police report came from LW’s house, and he’s going to take it out on LW’s partner.

              If LW and their spouse were seriously concerned for their safety and wanted to start the process for requesting an order of protection, then generating a police report might be a good idea. But the spouse has stated they don’t want to report it and it doesn’t sound like he’s a threat to their actual safety, so in this case I’d say leave it alone.

              1. AngryOctopus*

                To be 100% fair, the LW has plausible deniability as to the “this is my spouse’s boss” and could just go with “there is a person driving up and down my street and filming” which is likely to violate a lot of distracted driving rules. At least in my town if I reported someone repeatedly filming and driving, they’d probably station a cop car on the street to observe. But as always, YMMV.
                Having said that, I’d just leave it myself. If spouse is close to retiring, there’s very very little to gain in this situation by doing anything other than ignoring it.

              2. Phony Genius*

                If one of the neighbors see this car and gets nervous and calls the police, then the boss may still assume it was the LW’s report. I’m not sure what they should do in that case.

                Also, if I have a legitimate reason to film from my car, I would use a dash cam.

              3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                Agreed on all points. I think there’s little benefit of reporting to police and a significant risk of making things worse.

          5. Lacey*

            It sounds like the commenter (who is hardly an official representative of AAM) is talking about calling the cops because of a car they DO recognize.

            Like no, I wouldn’t call the cops because some rando was filming my neighborhood. But if I had say, an angry ex-boyfriend, outside my home filming.
            Yeah. I think I’d call.

              1. Allonge*

                An angry ex-boyfriend is a pretty different case from annoying and weird boss-of-spouse though.

                Sure, as a person I would love to avoid having either, but calling the police is a different equation.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Unfortunately, in plenty of places, calling the police can definitely get Black people killed. Traffic stops result in Black people being killed by police regularly. Police kill people having mental health crises regularly, especially if they’re BIPOC. And that means that calling the police means making a decision about whether they’re going to make the situation worse. We don’t know where the LW is or the race of the manager in question, but it’s not wrong to point out that calling the police can have deadly consequences.

              1. Rach*

                Exactly. A couple neighborhoods away from me, maybe 2 years ago, a Hispanic teen was killed by police while riding his bike “suspiciously”. Unless someone’s life is in danger, or their is an active burglary going on, people shouldn’t call the police.

            2. Jennifer Strange*

              It 100% could get someone killed. Not sure where you live, but it’s not an unusual occurrence in some parts of the world right now.

            3. DataSci*

              You aren’t in the US, are you? Even routine traffic stops get Black people killed here. Heck, wellness checks get Black people killed here – any interaction with the police can turn deadly.

          6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

            Real estate agents getting neighborhood videos.
            New residents showing their extended family how nice their neighborhood is.
            City employee or utility contractor doing survey work to see if there are potholes that need fixing, trees that need to get pruned, etc.
            Car repo guy trying to find that overdue Trans-Am.
            People trying to get ideas for paint color, landscaping, etc.

            There are a million reasons.

          7. HR Friend*

            Thank you. People don’t need a good reason to have their phones out while driving on a street.

            I can’t imagine the cops serving any purpose. Unless you’re trying to dramatically escalate a harmless situation. In that case, sure, call the cops.

            None of this has anything to do with the LW anyway. They know who is driving on their street and why.

        2. Phryne*

          Maybe they are thinking of buying a house there and are exploring the neighbourhood? My apartment block regularly has apartments for sale and I often see people walking around, staring, pointing things out, making pictures.

        3. Clisby*

          You’re an amateur photographer? You’re a realtor? You’re with the county tax assessor’s office? You work for Google? You used to live on this road and are nostalgic?

          All kinds of reasons are possible, and assuming you’re on a public road and not trespassing or committing other crime, it’s really nobody’s business why you’re doing it.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            We’re not actually on a dead end, but our street is two blocks long, between a court and a “T”, so similar. At one point I noticed a car parked in front of our house (everyone parks in their driveway or garage here, there’s no curb or sidewalk), and the driver was taking pictures of our house. However, they had a magnet or wrap on their car with their real estate business information, so I guess they were looking for comps.

          2. MicroManagered*

            But it’s NOT a realtor, or an amateur photographer, or an assessor from the county tax office… OP4 clearly recognizes the individual as their spouse’s general manager.

            Sure, perhaps this person has a side-gig doing one of these things or used to live on the street… Perhaps OP4 lives in a simulation and a lost Amazon driver in an unmarked vehicle has the same CGI face as their boss… I mean anything is possible but we should take OP4 at their word that the behavior is alarming and doesn’t have an obvious/reasonable explanation.

            1. Allonge*

              But neither alarming nor unreasonable is a police matter.

              And OP never mentioned calling the police or being alarmed. Perfectly reasonably they want the company to do something about a bad manager. Unfortunately OP has no standing to complain to the company. The end.

        4. DataSci*

          Even if the reason isn’t good, it doesn’t rise to the “immediate threat” level that would warrant calling the cops (at least in the US. Calling them may be less risky elsewhere).

        1. Essess*

          It’s completely legal for anyone to film property while they are remaining on public land. So filming from the street doesn’t need a ‘good reason’ since it’s completely legal.

    1. The Rafters*

      I also live on a dead end, and would very likely do the same. OP can always claim ignorance and surprise when the police tell her it’s spouse’s boss.

      1. Ferret*

        Where do you live that the police would actually come out immediately for “there is a car on my street and someone is filming from it”? And there is nothing to indicate that the manager was there for more than a minute or two, which would require either an instantaneous response or for the police to care enough to do a follow up investigation based on the license plate which seems vanishingly unlikely

        1. Allonge*

          Especially on a day of an ice storm.

          But yes, please don’t call the police because there is a car in your street. (Unless you are being stalked or something like that of course.) A person in a car is not a police matter, even if they have a phone out.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Yeah, it really only rises to the level of “call the cops” if the person with the phone out has been observed driving erratically and hitting/almost hitting parked cars and people. Otherwise there’s nothing to really be done.
            LW, you have to leave this. It’s not dangerous, you’re not afraid of anything, and your spouse is uninterested in taking any steps. Just drop it.

        2. RagingADHD*

          I wouldn’t call the cops for a situation like the letter describes, but I did once call about a car repeatedly cruising our street and slowing down / pausing in front of our neighbor’s house. The young woman who lived there had been out doing yard work. She came over to my door because the driver appeared to be leering at her and it made her nervous to be there alone.

          The car had done about 5 or 6 loops around the block already, and I saw it do a couple more while we were talking.

          The police substation is about half a mile away, and they will have a patrol car drive by if we call the non emergency number, so we did. I don’t know that the cops ever actually encountered the guy, but they increased their visibility for a couple of days and he did not come back.

      2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        I mean, if OP wants to call spouse’s company over this, I’d say OP is up for some confrontation. And instead of calling the police, if OP knows it’s spouse’s boss, just walk out there and say ‘oh, hi, Mr./Ms. Boss! Terrible weather we’re having with all this ice and snow. Do you need help?’ (haha, Yukon Cornelius makes the comment about the weather before dropping the rock on the humble bumble).

        Or just come out and film boss filming you all. Do an ‘I see you being a jerk’ moment.

        1. Queen Ruby*

          This is what I would do, too! Like, oh look, Boss is outside! Let’s go pose for the camera and invite him in for coffee! Or at least wave as he goes by. Guaranteed, that video is not one he’ll be sharing at work.
          On the other hand, I live in a fairly rural area, and oddly enough, it’s not unusual for neighbors to report on our community FB page that there is a specific car driving around taking videos. We have some gorgeous scenery, but they always seem uninterested in that; just the houses, sometimes even pulling partly into the driveways, which tend to be long-ish (think old farmhouses that are set back from the road). That’s pretty shady and the entirety of the FB community members will be on the look out when that’s going on.

    2. Asenath*

      I know the law varies in different places, but I really don’t think that in my area it is illegal to film one’s drive along a public road, cul-de-sac or not. It wouldn’t occur to me to complain to the police, because I don’t think they’d be interested in such an activity unless it was directly linked to an actual crime – say, they asked for information about a particular vehicle seen in the vicinity of a hit-and-run, or break-in, and the local residents happened to have noticed one behaving in that way.

    3. Ana Gram*

      I’m a cop and there wouldn’t be anything we could do though. It’s not illegal to drive on a road nor is it illegal to film from a public place (this depends on where you live, I suppose). I also live on a dead end road fwiw.

      1. to varying degrees*

        This exactly. I even live on a private road (with other people) and nothing would really be done (ain’t nobody got time to ask all a5 property owners about some random car).

        I can’t imagine going to my spouse’s workplace with something like this. It’s a public road. Come on!

    4. WellRed*

      We have so many ridiculous posts on the local NextDoor from people reporting a car On The Street. Just. Stop.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes! I see that on NextDoor too. And literally, it’s like people breathlessly reporting “Be careful out there! I saw a red SUV driving slowly down the street and the passengers were staring at houses!” Lordy, people, get over yourselves.

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        People on NextDoor seem to think that the cops are their personal concierge. Ugly car on your street? Call the cops! Someone knocked on your door? Call the cops! Person walking around and you don’t know them? Etc. It’s so entitled.

      3. Betty Flintstone*

        Omg my local Nextdoor is the worst with this. God forbid someone is driving slowly and looking at houses because they are lost and trying to figure out where they are. Next thing you know, your license plate number is on Nextdoor as a potential criminal and everyone is calling the cops.

      4. Generic Name*

        I remember when one neighbor posted on the neighborhood Facebook page about a “suspicious person” wearing a hoodie was walking around carrying a weed eater. Another neighbor piped up and said that was her teenage son walking back from taking care of another elderly neighbor’s lawn. I can’t help but wonder if the “suspicious person” is one of my son’s high school classmates who lives in our (mostly white) neighborhood and who is black.

    5. Prospect gone bad*

      I am house hunting. Please don’t do this. I drive around random neighborhoods trying to get a feel for what they are like, beyond the one house for sale

      1. Phryne*

        Though getting the cops called on you for looking at houses in a neighbourhood would give you some *very* relevant info about your potential future neighbours…

        1. Lacey*

          So true! I did many walks with my dog before I found out which of my neighbors should be avoided at all costs because they have anger issues, but imagine if you could know before you bought the house?

    6. chips and scraps*

      I live on a dead end road and I’d assume the person was lost, or househunting and taking pictures to show their spouse or something, or on a Zoom call, or… Calling the police wouldn’t even be on my radar.

    7. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I know how the police react to an actual stalker where I am and they absolutely wouldn’t do anything for some guy filming the road.

    8. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Since this happens when the roads or driveway is icy, I’m not sure calling the police would be fruitful. Generally under those conditions the police are busy dealing with weather related things and go to walk in reports only for accidents. I’m guessing they wouldn’t have the man power during inclement weather to go investigate a suspicous driver unless there was multiple reports or something else happened, like a break in.

    9. Massmatt*

      “I live on a dead end road and if I (or any of my neighbors) saw someone driving up and down the road filming for no good reason we would report it to the police”

      For what, exactly? Is it illegal to drive on a dead-end road? Is it illegal to film on a public street? The police are for stopping CRIME and capturing CRIMINALS, they are not your servants to harass or intimidate people doing things you don’t like.

      In my area the police would ignore such a “report”, probably telling the caller to stop bothering them with nonsense.

  11. WoodswomanWrites*

    #4 — “This same manager has had several HR investigations in just this past year but all were dismissed when the GM confessed that he, a married man, had been sleeping with the HR investigator.”

    And this general manager STILL has a job? I’m trying to fathom a higher-up at the company saying to themselves, “He slept with the HR investigator? Oh well, we’ll just toss the multiple investigators and keep him around.”

    The mind boggles. Nothing is going to change at that company.

    1. ZSD*

      Yes, I was utterly confused by that part, too. If he was sleeping with the HR investigator, why didn’t they assign a *different* investigator, or just fire him right away? (And probably the investigator as well.)

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      Yeah, this is a company problem, not a manager problem (the manager still sucks, but getting rid of him isn’t going to get rid of the overall issue).

    3. gmg22*

      I mean, I would absolutely advise LW’s husband to document EVERYTHING he possibly can (this incident included — even if it’s not illegal or directly threatening, it’s certainly over-the-top behavior), in case the GM tries to come at him before he can get to his retirement date. But yes, the company has made it clear it has no interest in proper discipline for the GM and as a result, LW escalating this would very clearly be the opposite of helpful — it’ll likely make her husband more vulnerable.

    4. Cait*

      I think the most the wife can, if she personally feels threatened by a man driving back and forth in front of her house, is call the police like she would had the person been a stranger. She can even feign ignorance (“I saw a car driving back and forth in front of our house and they were video taping! I couldn’t see who it was.”). But someone watching your house and taking video of your home could be considered stalking (and it affects you directly) so getting the police involved wouldn’t be outrageous or overstepping. Calling your husband’s work to complain, however, would be.

      1. Splendid Colors*

        I have had the police called on me for being in a shabby looking car in a nice suburb, and followed by police around the neighborhood when returning a car borrowed from a friend. I’m lucky, as the police don’t feel threatened when they see I’m a middle aged white woman. Unlike multiple Black and Hispanic people in my city, who were murdered by police on welfare checks.

  12. Maggie*

    What do these other managers say when he shows the video footage? Do they all join in on the game of razzing your husband, or is gross manager just making a donkey of himself? What’s “close” to being able to retire, and more importantly, does your husband have a backup retirement plan if said retaliatory boss fires him before he gets a chance to retire? Those are the real conversations I’d want to be having with my spouse. I had a retaliatory boss once and my sole goal was how to line up new work. I quit 15 minutes before a meeting where I suspect she planned to fire me. Sometimes, even when you really don’t deserve it, you need an exit plan. If your boss slept his way out of the HR investigation, you need an exit plan, even if you sincerely hope to never use it.

    1. Still*

      That’s smart. The spouse might not want to rock the boat close to retirement but the situation sounds unstable enough that it definitely warrants having an exit plan in place, just in case.

    2. Luna*

      Plus, if the boss does fire them in retaliation, I’m pretty sure the husband would be having a quick open-and-shut case of wrongful termination. As bad as this place is, I’d like to think that they wouldn’t allow themselves to get *that* much of difficulty and trouble coming their way…

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        I hate to tell you but in the state of Georgia, this would not be wrongful retaliation. It is an at will state and employees have very few job protections.

        P.S. There is no such thing as an open and shut HR case.

        1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          Oops, meant to say not wrongful termination. Note to self: finish coffee BEFORE commenting in future.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I agree with cats paw unfortunately, for it to be wrongful termination (assuming at-will employment and a not-strict employee handbook) I think there would have to a specific violation of employment law. I’m not seeing that here.

      3. Dragon*

        Also, even if one could win it might be a Pyrrhic victory. I know someone who was told by a lawyer that he had a solid case for wrongful termination. However, the price of a legal win would be being blacklisted for life in his industry.

      4. Observer*

        Plus, if the boss does fire them in retaliation, I’m pretty sure the husband would be having a quick open-and-shut case of wrongful termination.

        Not anywhere in the US (Except possibly Nevada)

  13. Onym*

    For #3, there’s also the possibility that after hearing the price, the employee wouldn’t want to buy it after all. There’s a wide gap between idly saying you’d totally buy an item that you believe isn’t for sale and actually opening your wallet and paying $40 for it.

    That’s not a critic of OP’s pricing. It’s just that some people seriously underestimate the cost of labor and material for items created by artists or crafters; for others, these factors irrelevant because it’s just more money than they are willing or able to spend on that kind of items; then there’s those who believe labor should not be paid because it’s a hobby (:eye roll:); some people might exclaim this impulsively when seeing the pretty item but later realize it’s not a good purchase for them at this time given their current budget; etc. Whatever the reason, she might change her mind.

    This could create awkwardness. She might feel like she has to put her wallet where her mouth is or she might fear that she will look like she was insincerely buttering up OP if she doesn’t follow through.

    1. Bébé chat*

      Oh yeah once someone told me that as I was knitting while watching tv it was taking me no time at all so I could just knit something for them as a present. Well, it’s still costing me my time and supplies, because if I’m knitting on something for them I cannot knit on something else for me or my family, or scroll on my phone, or anything alse. It’s still a huge commitment and effort to knit a piece for someone.
      People really do not realize the efforts we put into our fiber arts.

      1. scandi*

        Yes, when you tell them that the yarn for your socks is 12€, and you spent about 12 hours knitting them, so pricing your labour at, say, a low 12€/hour means the socks would cost approximately 150€ they’re suddenly no longer interested. And socks are fairly small and fast as knitted things go, and the yarn cost is not terrible even for, say, a merino-based sock yarn. I had someone ask this with a light fingering-weight alpaca/silk sweater with a complex cable pattern… (For the curious in the audience, the material+labour would be at least 2000€.)

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I can appreciate the costs. I do counted cross stitch for my pleasure and the graph/fabric and initial floss tends to be in the $50. range. Not counting the large number of hours. On one current project, I am on year 3, and a second easier one year 2.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          “You’d charge how much? But I can get a quilt at Wal-Mart for like $50!”

          You do that, then.

      2. SarahKay*

        So true. My Mum likes to knit, and like you she knits while watching TV. In between knitting sweaters and cardigans for herself and my step-dad she makes really cute covers for all her hot-water bottles (she has *very* cold feet, hence plural bottles).
        I was admiring them and she offered to make me one, so I said only if she does it as my Christmas present this year – because I know perfectly well that it’s still hours of work for her even if she does enjoy it.

        1. whingedrinking*

          My MIL has offered to knit my dad some kilt hose, and he’s asked her several times if she’s sure, since he knows how much the all-wool, handknit, made-in-Scotland pairs go for at his local kilt shop. She breezily insists it’s fine. Admittedly, she’s a little obsessed; even with her two children, their respective partners, and seemingly all her neighbours to give her knitting to, I still worry that one we’ll go to visit and find my FIL and their three dogs completely cocooned in sweaters, socks, and mittens. More intricate projects and more people to give them to seem to be the only way to prevent this.

          1. Not Australian*

            This is the reason I started donating quilts and blankets to Project Linus. I long ago ran out of people to give things to!

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Reminded of my boss wanting to buy a piece of embroidery off me that I’d done for myself and had taken nearly 2 years and a quarter of a million stitches to do. She really didn’t expect the four figures I quoted.

        Yes the materials were at most £60 but 2 YEARS. She didn’t buy it :)

      4. Dinwar*

        Not only that, but there’s a huge mental difference between the two. If I crochet a blanket because I feel like it, it’s a soothing experience. I do it to give my hands something to do while I relax. I can take my time, not worry about color scheme, not worry if it’s perfect (it’s for me, if it’s bad I’ve only got myself to blame!). If I’m doing it on commission, though, or as something to sell, professionalism sets in. It’s a job; I need to focus on quality and speed and getting it done on a deadline. Not super stressful, necessarily, but it’s not relaxing. So if I want to relax, I have to crochet a different thing–which means taking time away from what I’m being paid to do–which makes it not relaxing.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I have a friend who crochets and is AMAZING. I asked her once why she didn’t sell her work and she said “because then it wouldn’t be a stress reliever anymore”. She does things for herself and as gifts.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      Yep – I knit/weave (and design patterns, I have one coming out in a magazine this month!!), and while people know I do Crafty Things (TM), and they like to see pictures, I very rarely have anyone buy anything. Usually someone will ask me if I sell that kind of thing, and I’ll casually drop in the range of price depending on yarn quality, and they’ll not ask me to make it. Which, tbh, I’m much happier with, as I really dislike making things to order for 99% of people.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      This. I craft and get told all the time that I should sell stuff, but nobody actually wants to pay what I’d have to charge to compensate myself fairly (which is convenient since I have zero interest in turning my hobbies into another job).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My rule of thumb is that if I want to knit for you, you won’t have to ask me or pay me for it, but if you have to ask me, you probably can’t pay me enough to do it. :P

    4. OP3*

      Totally fair! It was more because she said a couple times in the conversation, “That’s so cute, my son would love that!” It was less of a passing comment, but it’s a fair point that it could also have just been a compliment and nothing more,

    5. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Agreed — as I read the $40 I literally thought, “That IS a gob of money.” It’s not an insignificant amount, and I say that as a mid-40s person earning just over 6 figures. 10 years ago I budgeted getting my hair cut, so yeah, it is not a low amount for some people.

      The other aspect of that is the employee learns that the toys are $40 and thing (wrongfully so) that the manager is ripping people off (see other comments about the cost and time involved for evidence she is not). Then complains about, gossips about, etc. manager and her “money grab” to others.

    6. Hosta*

      I was addicted to making lace doilies for a while and a coworker asked me to make one. She wanted it to be hot pink and about three feet across. She wasn’t happy when the calculator came out. Roughly paraphrased:

      “So a doily that’s twelve inches across has an area of 113, and that takes me about ten hours to make. Ten hours is 600 minutes. 600 minutes divided by 113 square inches means it’s….5.3 minutes per square inch.”

      This is when she started rolling her eyes.

      “A circle that’s three feet across has a surface area of…oof, 1017 square inches. Times 5.3 minutes per square inch, that’s…oh, boy, 5390 minutes. Divided by 60, that’s 89 hours. Oh, wow. And I make $23 an hour, so that’s…”

      And that’s when she threw up her hands and stomped off, saying that if I was going to be petty about it, she’d just do it herself.

      Of note, she’d never offered to pay anything at all.

      1. Dinwar*

        I did the “I can do that myself!” thing once. We were at Macy’s, and my wife saw a necklace she liked. I told her that I could do it, easily. Graduated European 4-1 on a bias; anyone who’s made maille jewelry can do this in their sleep. She called me out on it–quite properly, I’ll gladly admit. This was Friday. Sunday night I handed her the necklace I’d made. The only difference was that mine was silver (well, stainless) and the one selling for $4k+ was gold, and my closures were better. (Sad part about this is, it ended up she didn’t even like the design.)

        But yeah, 99.99% of the time I hear “I could do that myself!” my reaction is “Cool. Let me know if you need some tips.” Occasionally the person does it, but it’s super rare.

        1. IDIC believer*

          I quilt and get the same after someone sees a quilt I made for a new baby, friend’s retirement or a birthday. I always say I never quilt on commission. For most, just the basic supply cost blows their mind, and are incredulous at how much labor there is. And yes they can buy one for $30 on Amazon! Right, go ahead and do that. Even when someone has been willing to pay and really pushed, I refuse because my enjoyment, creativity and stress relief would be diminished.

  14. Luna*

    LW2, if that manager wants you to deal with this yourself, go ahead and deal with it yourself in the hardest way possible. Throw the book at the guy.

    LW4, also throw the book at this manager. There’s video proof of him stalking your husband about his days off sick or unable to get to work, if there’s other behavior of his that also targets your husband specifically, do it. If HR or the company doesn’t do anything, get the ‘actual’ law involved. And have your husband look for a different job because that place is just a shamble of not-working.

    1. WellRed*

      It’s up to the husband not the OP. They have zero Standing to throw the book (for what???) at anyone at the husbands workplace.

      1. münchner kindl*

        So the law doesn’t protect people at their home from strangers driving up and filming the house – because they’re crazy stalkers or casing the house for a break-in, or whatever they’re doing?

        It’s not just that the Boss is teflon at the workplace; it’s what he’s doing is so far outside normal behaviour I don’t see where people feel assured he won’t upgrade to even more weird behaviour.

        Maybe next time, OP needs to go outside with a shotgun and tell them to get of her land?

        1. doreen*

          There’s no indication that the boss is on the OP’s land – the letter says the boss is driving on “our hill” and “our road” but distinguishes “our road” from “our driveway” so it seems that the “our” hill and road are the hill and road the OP lives on , not ones the OP owns.

          It’s not that nobody feels assured that he won’t upgrade to more weird behavior – it’s that he hasn’t done so yet and in most places ( not just the US ) the police can’t do anything about someone who is on public property. Maybe in some places something can be done about someone simply taking photos from public property – but obviously , that’s not prohibited everywhere or paparazzi wouldn’t exist.

          1. Luna*

            At the very least, there could be the beginning of a papertrail, so that if the manager does escalate to actually parking in their driveway to check if the husband is home sick or worse, the police already knows that this guy was an issue previously and any consequences coming from the escalated behavior will be harder because of the prior knowledge.

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          At best, if OP needs to report this guy for any actual illegal behavior, she would need to report him to law enforcement, not to the company. She has no standing to report anything to the company because she is not an employee. Also, I am guessing the boss was not driving a labeled company car or anything to prove he was acting on behalf of the company either, so her report would be against him as an individual to the police. She wouldn’t be reporting the company, and she wouldn’t be reporting to the company.

        3. Jennifer Strange*

          The boss wasn’t a crazy stalker or casing the house for a break-in, though. To be clear, the boss is a jerk, but there is no indication that he was doing anything illegal, just crappy. That is very different from someone who is dealing with a stalker or who has actual evidence that someone is casing houses. And while I know it was hyperbole, given the state of things right now can we not make suggestions of bringing guns into non-threatening situations? That’s a good way to get someone killed (including the LW).

        4. whingedrinking*

          But the boss isn’t a “crazy stalker” and isn’t casing the house for a break-in. We know more or less why he’s there, and it’s not against the law to go look at your employee’s house and then bug them about whether their absence was merited or not. It’s weird and inappropriate, but it doesn’t rise to the level of harassment and isn’t a precursor to illegal activity like burglary, so the cops aren’t going to care.

        5. New Jack Karyn*

          In the US, it is legal to film almost anything, as long as you’re on public property when you do it.

    2. chips and scraps*

      Throw what book? She has no authority at the company whatsoever, she doesn’t work there. And finding a good-enough new job when you’re close to retirement is not a picnic. Of course it’s satisfying to advise going in all guns blazing, but based on the letter I don’t see the horrible manager experiencing any negative outcomes, or the OP and husband experiencing any positive ones.

      1. chips and scraps*

        And people keep mentioning getting the law involved, but I really do not think the law will act based on what’s in the letter. The guy drove down the street one time, filming in a public place. His reason for doing it was horrible, but he hasn’t broken the law, and it’s not stalking to simply know where a person lives and pass by on one single occasion. What are the police going to do? And again, what will the respective outcomes be for OP/husband and for the manager? It’s nice to think the universe will mete out justice to horrible people if you can just shout loud enough about how horrible they are, but it *won’t*.

        1. Scarlet2*

          Exactly. What would the complaint be about? The manager is filming a public space, I don’t think there’s much you can do about that. And he can just pretend he was lost and looking for directions on his phone, unless you can get a hold of the actual video, you can’t prove he’s lying.

          Also, for all the people saying the spouse should get a new job… do you think it’s easy to get hired when you’re close to retirement age?

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, I do not think the police would do anything or care. But if he was doing something illegal and OP did need to report it, she would report it to the police, not to the company.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        And frankly, even people who *do* have authority at the company haven’t been able to make their complaints about this guy stick, so what makes LW think complaining about him will even accomplish?

      3. Luna*

        Did I say anything about throwing the book of the company at the guy? No, throw the law book at him. Yes, this is stalking behavior, heading out of his way to ensure that the husband is where he claims to be. And the OP is not his employee, so she can go for the angle from “I am an innocent person in this situation” and the manager is making the OP feel uncomfortable and unsafe, in her own home. Even if it’s just a paper saying that a report was made and filed, that’s something. The police don’t have to immediately do anything, but acknowledging and getting a report is something.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Driving up and down the road and filming on one occasion, is not stalking. The police aren’t going to do anything, and no laws were broken.

        2. Jennifer Strange*

          He has not broken any law, therefore there’s bo book to throw at him. The police aren’t going to mark this and the LW is potentially going to make their spouse’s work situation worse.

  15. Harper the Other One*

    OP1: I agree with Alison about the general lunch invitations. But this newest one – sending you an email telling you to block off a lunch hour – feels different enough that it raised a flag for me. Are you sure that one is still a social lunch, and not something with a work purpose? Even annoying managers who want you to join them for lunch for social activity still sometimes have actual lunch meetings to discuss promotions/new projects/important changes upcoming. My immediate assumption wouldn’t be that this is a sign of the boss’ new assumption that you’ll eat together but a sign that something significant is happening at that meal.

    1. MurpMaureep*

      I admit that my mind went in a different direction when LW talked about being ordered to have lunch with their boss…and it wasn’t a good direction. That felt really off and veering towards something inappropriate, or at least with the air of being inappropriate. Simply asking them to lunch is one thing, using his authority to put a hold on her break time is different (especially because LW says their work culture recognizes hour long, away from work lunchtime). But it also gives them an out to ask if this is work related, and when it isn’t, use Alison’s advice. Even if it is work related, it would be fine to ask that the meeting take place at a different time and at the office (which it should if it’s about work!).

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, I thought the fact that OP was his only direct report and that he didn’t invite any other employees to join him for lunch was telling. I don’t think that the boss has anything particularly nefarious in mind for these lunches, but it does seem like he’s slightly abusing his power as OP’s boss; OP probably feels that they can’t turn down the boss without consequences, however minor they might be. It’s too bad that OP was put in this position but if boss is reasonable, then Alison’s suggestions shouldn’t bother him too much.

        And would it be an overstep to suggest he ask other coworkers to lunch instead? Again, if he’s reasonable he would probably be okay hearing that.

    2. chips and scraps*

      This is a good point! Telling you to block off a lunch hour does feel different from the usual as-and-when invitation to eat together. Asking if this is for a lunchtime meeting, maybe whether you need to prepare anything specific, would clarify that – and if it turns out to be just social, you can perhaps use that to lead into the conversation about needing to run errands etc. most lunchtimes.

    3. What's in a name?*

      Yes! I am not sure why this is so far down. It really jumped out to me that this should be the one lunch that you occasionally have with him. Feel free to shoot down any “I’m heading to the cafe, wanna come?” but not this one.

    4. Don'tbeadork*

      Yes, I thought Alison had missed that this was a one-time “block off the lunch for us” then, not a “You will eat lunch with me every MWF” sort of thing.

    5. scurvycapn*

      I’d still brush it off, but with a feeler.

      “Sorry, but I can’t as I already have plans during that time. But if you had something important to discuss, I can make myself available after I return.”

      If it is indeed work related, there should be no problem discussing it during paid work hours.

    6. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Agreed. A calendar invite indicates it’s a work meeting. Check with the manager and if it’s not, decline that post haste.

    7. Essess*

      Agreed. In my company, it is encouraged for a boss to occasionally meet over a lunch or coffee with an employee. The idea is that they are leaving the office environment to have a chance to have an informal discussion about possible issues or even future advancement plans in a more relaxed atmosphere.

  16. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (crocheted toys) I’m not sure what it means for a business to be “nothing official”, but if (as I suspect) it means it’s under the table and not declared for tax etc, I would tread carefully. You don’t want it getting out at work and then someone with a grudge (or whatever) deciding the tax authorities need to be told about it … For this and many other reasons I’d keep this out of the workplace.

    1. Strawberry Ice Cream*

      It may just mean she sells on Etsy or something whenever she gets around to finishing another toy. There’s no schedule, marketing plan, or notable profit margins, so it’s less “official” than her full time job in terms of time and money.

      Either way though, I think she made the right call in not advertising that she sells them, by whatever means.

    2. The Eye of Argon*

      LW said that they take orders through their social media page and transactions are handled elsewhere (I’m guessing Venmo or similar), so it’s probably a blurb on their Facebook page or whatever along the lines of “if you want one of these, let me know!”

      I do something similar, only either in person or through someone I know from my local yarn shop. The shop owner also pays me for samples. It gets me at best a couple hundred bucks a year.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Knowing the nature of these things, I’m pretty sure that if the IRS caught wind of this, OP might end up with a tax deduction because costs are pretty high for this sort of thing and profit margins are small to non-existent. For a lot of people, this is just a way of subsidizing their hobby.

      1. Dinwar*

        As I said below, tax deductions don’t apply to a hobby. If the intent is to recoup some of the cost, it’s not a business and it’s not a deduction. If you want to turn a profit, it IS a business and you can get deductions, but you also have all the tax burden of a business (not a small thing). That tax burden is one of many reasons why I never took that step.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yep, you’re right. I was thinking in terms of a Schedule C.

          tl;dr: The IRS doesn’t care much about hobbies.

      2. OP3*

        That’s 100% what it is for me! Helps cover some (not all) of my yarn costs, and I’m definitely not making any money off it or putting any “effort” into the business side of things.

    4. Dinwar*

      It probably falls under the heading of “Hobby”. This is a legal concept the IRS uses for taxes. The IRS historically hasn’t been overly interested in the minor income from things like cash sales of stuff one makes as a hobby. Legally you are obliged to report the income, but it’s HIGHLY unlikely the IRS is going to waste time auditing someone for making a random $20 on a random, unplanned cash sale of something made from a hobby.

      I’ve sold a few jewelry pieces, so this has come up in my life. The issue is whether you intend to turn a profit from it. Understand that this is the IRS interpreting your intent, and they can have quite strange views on this sort of thing. But if you’re obviously not intending to turn a profit–like, you make stuff and people randomly say “Oh, that’s awesome! Can I buy it off you?” and you sell it for whatever they happen to offer, in a totally unstructured way–it’s not a business. You can’t deduct expenses or equipment or the like, like you could for a sole proprietorship business. THAT’S what gets people into trouble. Either they make a lot of money and try to argue that it’s a hobby, or they call it a hobby but try to deduct the expenses.

      Advertising would tend to move it into “planning to make a profit” territory. There is a category called a self-sustaining hobby, where you’re just trying to recoup the costs, but it’s a fine line to walk. Setting up a booth at a farmer’s market would probably not cross the line, but any advertisements–ESPECIALLY paid ones–would.

      If in doubt, consult a CPA. A colleague of mine did, and now runs a small honey business. He’s not making a lot of money off it, but he’s got the legal and financial protections that come along with an LLC. He also has the legal and financial obligations, though. Moving from “hobby” to “business” is not a small step–it’s a difference in kind, not degree–and it’s worth really considering whether that’s what you want to do before you make that step.

      1. former eBay seller*

        I used to sell occasional random items on eBay to get rid of them. My tax advisor tips me that I didn’t have to report it if the income was under $500. This was about 10 years ago so worth checking with someone on current tax laws but doesn’t necessarily have to be reported.

        1. Dinwar*

          Thanks for the clarification! I know a lot of people don’t report this sort of income, and if it’s a cash sale at your desk there’s zero paper trail to follow anyway, but I wasn’t sure where the line was, and didn’t want to advocate tax evasion!!

  17. Marthooh*

    “This same manager has had several HR investigations in just this past year but all were dismissed when the GM confessed that he, a married man, had been sleeping with the HR investigator.”

    What? What? What?


    1. Generic Name*

      Agreed. If the OP’s husband was t so close to retirement, I’d say leave the company now. By the way, OP, by “close to retirement” you mean within a couple of years and not like ten years, right?

  18. Bookgal*

    I had a coworker who was extremely rude to me; I brought it to the attention of my manager, who quickly dismissed it as anything to escalate and told me to “work it out” with her. So the two of us sat down to do just that. She started screaming at me, saying awful things to and about me that had nothing to do with our jobs. When I went to leave the office (because I couldn’t take it anymore) she grabbed my arm very aggressively, blocked the door and continued yelling. I was finally able to open the door, and once I got out of there I left work for the day. I went home, called HR and refused to go back to work until the situation was resolved. And resolved it was! My coworker and manager were both fired. It turned out that there were many “ear” witnesses to what transpired that day and my manager’s “work it out yourselves” attitude was not in line with the company’s policies.

    1. UnpopularOpinion*

      I’m really sorry you had to go through that — I’m glad they got fired, but still scary!

  19. UnpopularOpinion*

    For OP3 — I craft a lot and I often remind myself that people say they want to buy things and they really don’t. It’s an odd stand-in for “I really like and appreciate that” that gets twisted into “And to prove it has worth, it has value in cash.” Another popular one is “It looks like you could buy it in a store” which is absolutely intended to be a compliment, but sometimes feels like an insult when you’ve spent a lot of time on it (and know all the ways it differs from a “store bought” item).

    Anyway, long rambling way to say that you are free to know employee likes your work and there’s a 50/50 chance they would actually want to buy it. By not offering, you save them from the potential awkwardness of having to decline when they realize they didn’t actually want to buy it.

    1. chips and scraps*

      This is a good point – I guess it’s a way of saying ‘wow, that’s professional standard’.

    2. OP3*

      Totally fair! I think that also helps me with framing, knowing I’m likely not denying her anything.

  20. MCMonkeyBean*

    For LW1–I wasn’t sure from the letter but I think you haven’t had the most recent meeting with your boss mentioned yet, right? If he usually invites you casually and has only one time reached out asking you to lock time off then I would assume that last one is something different and probably work related.

    I hate when people set meeting over lunch–my office has recently being doing a lot of “lunch and learns” where different teams basically share what they do with everyone. It’s very annoying because we are currently working from home and previously a “lunch and learn” would at least, y’know, provide lunch! But as long as they are *occasional* then I think work-related lunch meetings are probably not where to start pushing back, though I think you would then be totally within your rights to take an *actual* lunch break after and go for a walk or something.

    And for the casual meetings, again I’m not clear how often you are going because your letter already says you only accept sometimes. I think personally I’d aim for maybe once a month or so if maintaining your current relationship with him is a priority but I’m sure there is a lot of wiggle room in how often you can politely decline.

  21. Lily Potter*

    LW4 – people have gone so far down the rabbit hole on the filming thing that a bigger point has been completely missed by all but a few commenters.

    Except under very limited circumstances*, a person has no business contacting their spouse’s manager about a work issue. No business at all. It’s similar to a college getting a call from a student’s mommy about a bad grade. You’ll just end up destroying the credibility of your spouse. Now if your spouse wants to do/say something about it him/herself, that’s another discussion.

    *only exception I can think of at the moment is an emergency call-out, when the employee is so injured or ill that they can’t call/email/text on their own that they need to be absent from work. There might be others that escape me at the moment, but the LW’s situation is absolutely not one of them.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I think this is because

      1) Alison covered this aspect of pretty well in her response.


      2) The boss is so over-the-top (driving past an employee’s house, filming it, showing it to other managers, sleeping with the HR investigator) that there are really bigger issues at play here than just contacting the spouse’s company.

      1. Clisby*

        For the LW’s spouse, maybe. For the LW, there don’t seem to be any “bigger issues.” The notion of calling the police, at least based on what’s stated in the letter, is ridiculous.

      2. Observer*

        #1 is true. But #2 is no really relevant. Yes, this company is bad news. But that does not change what the OP should do. It actually just reinforces the idea that the OP needs to stand back.

  22. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    LW2, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with a jerk colleague and a sucky manager. In addition to Alison’s suggestions, I’m curious if the women could band together to push back on his sexism as a group in meetings, similar to what women did in the Obama administration. Things like if one woman makes a good point, another would jump in and agree. In this case, if a woman makes a point and he jumps in acting as though she misunderstood, another woman would express support for the first point and that she understood very well.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Oooo! Do you have a link or resource you could share (or a google search term sting) for the mention of what happened during the Obama administration? That is fantastic, and I’d love to read more about it!

    2. STG*

      This was a good read. Thanks for sharing the article.

      I’ve done something similar in meetings with women myself. When I think a good suggestion is brought to the table by a woman, I’m quick to say ‘I think Julia’s idea makes sense’ or ‘I really like that, Samantha’. I am pointed with saying names specifically to avoid some of this.

      I’ve observed some guys taking credit for a woman’s suggestions and in those situations, I’ve done the same thing. “I agree, Bob. Julia’s idea makes the most sense’ and redirect again. If I think the credit is still in the wrong place, I’ll mention it again. ‘Oh, I’m so glad we picked Julia’s idea. It really seems to be working out.’

      Just keep redirecting as if SURELY they must not be trying to take credit for Julia’s ideas. I’ve never once gotten pushback.

    3. LW 2*

      We have a majority female workplace, so we kind of already do that in meetings, not from any organized pushback but just because the women in the meetings are making sense and we’re used to engaging with each other. His condescension mainly shows up in meetings he’s running or in much smaller conversations, like our one-on-one meeting, just because we don’t have that buffer.

    4. mf*

      Additionally, could the women band together and meet with HR to discuss this guy’s behavior? When multiple women report sexism, it makes it MUCH harder for the company to ignore.

  23. DejaVu*

    LW2, I started reading your letter wondering if it was written by a coworker about my experienced with my own boss! I went to HR with documentation, which they ignored; they flat out asked my boss if he was discriminating against me, and when he said “no” (derr), they sent me to EAP. I was explicitly told that they would not fire my boss no matter what, because he is part of a protected class and “It would take too long and be expensive,” but since I’m younger and have longer to go in my career, I should just try to find another job. So…I’m following their advice. Good luck!

      1. Observer*

        And send it to the DOL or EEOC when you leave.

        If they are THAT stupid, they will get nailed. And they deserve it!

      1. Totally Minnie*

        In general, EAPs only do legal referrals for non-work cases, since your workplace is paying the EAP and it would be a conflict of interest. You can use an EAP to get a lawyer to help with your will or your family law situation, but not to sue your employer or your coworker.

  24. BellyButton*

    “Can I contact my spouse’s manager?”

    No, the answer is always no, unless they are so sick or injured they can’t notify their company. You stay out of it. They know their manager, they know the culture at their company, and they are perfectly capable of making the decision on how to or how not to handle their job.

    The same goes for your adult child.

  25. Queen Ruby*

    LW2: I found myself in a similar situation many years ago. I was 28, but looked much younger and it was hard to be taken seriously. My boss was formidable and was very protective of me because in the first week I started, one person asked him if I was 12, a VP asked if I was old enough to do the job, and probably a couple other comments he never told me about. There was a woman who I was supposed to work with for trade shows (I am also a woman, so it was an age issue, not a sexism issue). I ran them, she was very much in a support function. She refused to work with me, and was constantly going to my boss, who was getting really annoyed because he was happy to finally have someone (not him) handling all the trade show stuff. One morning, he had it, and called her while I was in his office with him. She flat-out said she thinks I am too young and inexperienced to run trade shows (not true since I had done the same thing at my precious job). He laid it out right then and there that she was to deal directly with me, do not copy him on any emails to me because he trusted me to keep him in the loop as necessary, oh and by the way, Queen Ruby is sitting right here listening to this conversation. There was a lot of stuttering on her end, and she still refused to work directly with me at times. The second time, she got another call from my boss. After that, my boss called her boss. Eventually she gave in, and even apologized to me much further down the road.
    All that to say, your boss should absolutely be handling this. The way my boss did it may have been a bit heavy-handed (he had that natural tendency lol), but he was relentless and had my back until the issue was resolved. Your boss should be doing the same thing!

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      “I am also a woman, so it was an age issue, not a sexism issue”

      I want to gently point out that, unfortunately, sexism between women is rampant. I say this both as a woman who has experienced it and as a leader who has had to quash it.

      It manifests itself as “there is only room for one of us and it’s me” or “I’m the Cool Girl™ the guys like so you can’t be” or “young women are ruining it for those of us who have been working for years” (also know in 1960s speak as “ugh, women’s libbers!”). It may truly have been an age issue, but assuming it wasn’t because you were both women isn’t accurate about a 30-50% of the time.

      1. ferrina*


        Also adding “I had to jump through these hoops, so you need to as well” and the basic “this is my idea of what women should be”.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, I never understood the women who resent younger women for not having it as bad as they did. Ummm, isn’t that a big part of why you fought so hard in your career? So that it could open doors and bring about real changes to make the struggle less for women in the future?

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Because most people really don’t see things as systemic. “I fought hard for myself” is not the same as “I fought hard against a bad system”. “The personal is political” was a genius way to phrase an idea that was hard to articulate and I can see a line directly from there to the more recent awareness of systemic racism and microaggressions.

    2. MurpMaureep*

      Kudos to your boss, it’s nice to hear about someone having that experience early(ish) in their career.

  26. Tony T*

    “could barely get out of our driveway” Barely, huh? Not like “could not”. And the Bad Guy was driving the road at that time? More here …

    1. Dinwar*

      Sure. Maybe the roads are okay, but the plows dumped 6 feet of snow and ice in the driveway last night and they can’t shovel out of it for health reasons. Maybe the boss had tires or a vehicle better suited to the conditions–I’ve seen kids on 4-wheelers driving in conditions where I’d hesitate to use a 4-wheel-drive pickup. Maybe the boss has a much higher threshold for risk-taking, and isn’t afraid to crash their car again this month. Maybe the power was out, they have a gas stove, and the neighborhood relies on them to make hot meals.

      There are a LOT of reasons why one person would be snowed in but another person could drive down the road. I’ve seen every one of those scenarios when I lived up North, plus more.

      The assumption that just because one person is willing to drive on a road, another person should be fine getting to and driving on that road–which is what your implied argument requires–simply doesn’t hold true.

    2. You are not the weather police*

      So because her husband didn’t feel safe driving in bad weather and his tool of a boss did that means the surveilling and mocking are ok?

      It’s quite possible that if one can “barely” get out of their driveway, the roads are dangerous. As someone who lives in snowy climes, I’ve made the mistake of thinking “it’s not so bad” only to end up white-knuckling it or turning back around.

      Obviously the point of this is not to litigate driving conditions in the OP’s area, but come on, your comment feels mean-spirited and weird.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Yeah, my parents’ house is situated on a cul de sac partway down a hill that doesn’t seem very steep at that point, but it is in fact deceptively steep. People drive down the road in snowy weather all the time and then find they cannot get back up the hill. My parents and their neighbors are out there every time it snows helping someone push their car out of the ditch because they genuinely thought the hill was no big deal!

    3. Samwise*

      Stupid people drive on dangerously icy (snowy, flooded, full of debris from hurricane/tornado/ice storm) roads all the time. Just because the boss was out there driving doesn’t mean anyone should have been out there driving.

    4. ferrina*

      Lol! The driveway is the easiest part for me. If I have trouble getting out of my driveway, the rest of the commute is going to be a Destruction Derby on Ice ™.

      I also live in a place with a lot of folks that didn’t grow up here. When we have winter weather, it’s a free for all. Some folks underestimate the weather, some folks overestimate it, there is no unified driving rules, and some blankity-blank assumes that just because they feel comfortable driving 40 on 4 inches of snow, the 20 year old who has never seen snow before should be going full speed and starts honking and making the 20yo freak out and either stop completely or got sliding somewhere they shouldn’t be (leaving me shaking my head at both of them). If you live in my region, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    5. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      There IS so much more here. For example, that your comment was not made in the spirit of answering the question. Comments made in bad faith, with the intent to insinuate the LW was hiding something or being dishonest aren’t adding to or engaging in the discussion here

    6. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Are you really just focusing on the LW’s choice of words here? So, they said “could barely” instead of saying “could not”? The focus is the big picture, not the LW’s choice of wording about one single event and making assumptions from that.

  27. St. Paul Ite*

    LW #1:
    You are not obligated to be your boss’ lunch companion because they’ve accommodated your early leave to get your kids. You are not obligated to be your boss’ lunch companion because boss is lonely or anything else. You are also not obligated to do a “working lunch” off site if the “working lunch” can be a regular work meeting on site. That it sounds like your boss is getting more demanding ‘block off x date for lunch at x time’ is concerning to me and a red flag.

    Even if you’ve enjoyed these lunches before it doesn’t mean you need to continue them. It’s okay to change your mind, change your priorities or even change or set up boundaries when you choose.

    If you no longer want to have lunch with the boss then say so. “I’ve decided that I really need to block off my lunch as time for me to be alone.” Or whatever you choose to truthfully share (walking, errands, etc.). After you stated this decline any lunch invites you choose.

    If you like having an occasional lunch with the boss then suggest a frequency you’re okay with “let’s try to have lunch once a month to catch up.” Then decline any invites you choose to.

    If boss keeps up the current requests remind them once that you’ve decided to take your lunches alone or that you’re willing to do lunch once a month. If they persist with their constant requests for lunch after that point then that’s a huge red flag and you need to escalate the issue to grand boss and/or HR.

    You owe boss nothing but your gratitude for the accommodation for leaving early to get your kids. By using your time wisely and doing your job well is more than enough gratitude.

    1. MurpMaureep*

      I came here to say all of this and to reinforce that LW 1 doesn’t owe her boss anything for allowing her to flex her schedule to care for her kids.

      Presumably the company has a policy around flexing hours and/or managers are given discretion in setting employees’ schedules. This is a normal part of working life and not a favor that needs to be repaid with your time. LW, there is no quid pro quo and if you are getting a vibe from your boss that there is, that’s a huge red flag.

      I’m a manager and I give my staff flexibility with schedules because, baring performance issues (which get addressed on a case by case basis), it’s the right thing to do. I would never in a million years think that that entitled me to anything additional from anyone.

  28. Save Bandit*

    OP1, I had a very similar situation in my last job! My boss was a true extrovert, and what started as going out to lunch occasionally (we were very friendly and ended up becoming actual friends by the time I left the job) became her coming to my desk every day saying, “What are we doing for lunch today?” I enjoyed going to lunch every now and then, but not only did it become quite expensive (sit-down lunches compared to whatever quick take-out I’d grab on my own), I began dreading it because I needed that time to decompress and be on my own. I did just what Alison said, and started saying, “Oh I can’t do lunch today, I have a bunch of errands to get done!” After a while, she took the hint and we only did lunches every now and then after that.

  29. Nonke John*

    LW2, your manager is wrong to wave this off as something you can settle with a nice little chat, but if you go to HR, they’ll also want to know whether you’ve tried to work things out with him before escalating.

    Have you written back to him and CCed her about your one-on-one? Something along the lines of “Just closing the loop on our meeting about the planning process for Project RST. I have the information I need for now. As we discussed, please include me in anything related to the testing phase from here on.” You mentioned that your boss had specifically told him to include you in this planning, so it’s natural for you to keep her up to speed on how things are going. Also, when he’s dismissive of your ideas, do you follow up by email? “I just want to revisit the decision to test only in Simplified Chinese; I still think we need to include Traditional Chinese because our users….” It will help to have documentation that he’s preventing you from doing your job in specific ways even though you’re politely letting him know what you need. And by all means, encourage other women to do the same.

    If there’s a male colleague who also works on these projects and whom you trust, you may also want to ask him for help. I don’t mean necessarily in the sense of speaking up for you, if you’d rather handle that yourself, but in the sense of letting you know that there’s work going on from which you’re being improperly excluded.

    I’m very sorry that you have to deal with this. A report of mine had a similar problem with someone on another team whom I didn’t manage. (His manager avoided conflict like the plague and was no help.) We couldn’t make him any less a jerk, but we did get him to start giving my report the information and deference in decision making that she needed to perform her function.

  30. a raging ball of distinction*

    LW3 – this is your icebreaker. Once or twice a year (not frequently), your “fun fact” about yourself could be that you have a very small side business selling crocheted miniatures. Any of your reports can look up the info for themselves or even ask you if they feel strongly enough but that throws it out there while leaving the ball in their court.

    Alternately – and this may or may not fly in your office – but one of my coworkers (not a supervisor) recently crocheted a bunch of cute little figures for a seasonal decorating contest in our office that she offered the rest of us to take home. Another of our coworkers took a couple as stocking stuffers for her sons and they were very well-received. Depending on the things you like to crochet, you could make a little seasonal or thematic display in your office and offer to give an item or two to coworkers who particularly love them. Sell the leftovers on your shop. Win/win.

    1. OP3*

      We actually work remotely, so the second option doesn’t apply here, but it’s a good suggestion!

      I almost feel like having it be a “fun fact” seems… self-promote-y? I think given Alison’s response and the many comments, I’m more comfortable just not mentioning it at all! The thing she complimented isn’t a unique thing that I make, so if it comes up again, I’ll direct her to another seller on Etsy. I appreciate the advice though!

      1. Dinwar*

        “I almost feel like having it be a “fun fact” seems… self-promote-y?”

        Not in my experience. I’ve mentioned that I make jewelry a few times in the past, and while it got an “Oh, neat!” or two, it wasn’t the thing that generated the most interest by a long shot. The only type of people that would make this weird are probably going to make things weird anyway.

        1. OP3*

          I guess there’s a difference between, “I make crochet dolls” vs “I sell crochet dolls”. People know I crochet (my direct report obviously does), it’s more announcing that I sell those things without prompting that feels icky.

          1. a raging ball of distinction*

            One of my coworkers refurbishes and sells guitars, and I have never felt an obligation to buy a guitar from him :) Seriously, I bet people will be more impressed when they find out folks pay you money, and as long as you don’t remind folks every week or push links I really do think it will seem like any other casual share

  31. young worker*

    LW1, I don’t think you should have to have lunch with your boss. But, like you said, its obviously important to your boss and you want to retain a good relationship. So it may be helpful to say hey, we should make these a recurring biweekly Monday lunch. And insert explanation you feel comfortable with: “I like to recharge during my lunch so I can be more effective in the afternoon,” “I usually have errands to run before I get the kids,” etc.

    If he tries to plan outside of biweekly, remind them, “let’s stick to Monday since I have to do some errands.” It may take a while but hopefully they get the hint. Otherwise, you can be outright: “I can’t meet more than biweekly since I’m busier at home lately and need the time to recharge and run errands. I’m sorry!”

  32. JustMe*

    LW 3 – I have a knitting Instagram and I’ve had work colleagues make comments like “Ohhhh, I like that…do you ever sell your items?” etc. etc. etc. I don’t really sell my items, but if I notice I have a colleague make repeated comments about my items, I will sometimes make them something as a birthday/office secret Santa/going-away gift. I’d feel weird charging people I know money for things like that, too, so occasional gift-giving is my workaround.

    1. OP3*

      That’s actually how people learned I make stuff! I made a crochet thing for a co-worker for a gift exchange a couple years back.

      The only downside to this here is that it would be gift giving to one of my direct reports, but not all, and I don’t know if the other two would want a crochet thing, which just opens up a whole can of worms :(

  33. Observer*

    #2 – Sexist colleague.

    What do you know about your HR? If they are not competent, then you should think twice about going to them. If, however, they are any good you should most definitely go to them and encourage everyone else who has had issues to do the same. Or go as a group. Because even if this does not rise to a legal issue, it is TERRIBLE management, and it absolutely does expose them to liability if anything goes wrong.

    Also, your manager is out of her mind. “Work it out with him” is bad enough. But to explicitly tell you to give him a chance to “explain” that it’s somehow OK (because even if it weren’t gender based, he’s being a jerk) or that “he didn’t mean it that way” (ie you need to give him a chance to gas light you)?! I just don’t even have the words for how messed up this is.

    Especially since his behavior has gone from rude to explicitly harming you. Keep in mind that he explicitly refused (by “ignoring” specifically stated requests by you and HIS BOSS) to include you in a planning process that you need to be on. Make sure to point this out to HR. Because it’s not just terrible management. It’s a matter of impact. It doesn’t matter WHY he is doing it. He’s doing something that has reached a point of harming your ability to do your job, and he has a pattern of doing this specifically to women. I don’t care if it’s because somehow he thinks that only the women in the company are incompetent or he officially does this to women. This is a TERRIBLE pattern, your company is on notice, and your boss has failed to act.

  34. Observer*

    #4 – complaining to your wife’s boss.

    I have some questions for you:

    1. What exactly do you think you can complain about? This person sounds like an idiot and nasty boss over all. But what exactly did he do that rises to the level that the company would get involved.

    2. What makes you think that the company will pay any attention to you? I don’t know whether the company is reasonable or not, but it’s the VERY rare company that’s going to pay attention to any complaint from the spouse of an employee, or from most outside complaints unless they think that there is a real possibility of it causing significant harm. And you don’t have anything that comes close to that.

    3. What makes you think your spouse can do anything about this? Your own description makes it very clear that it’s almost impossible for your spouse to get any traction on anything. MAYBE on a really significant issue (like of the scale of “This is going to hit the news and it’s going to cost us a TON of business” significant.)

    4. Why on earth are you so comfortable with the idea of causing your spouse harm? Your spouse believes that they could get fired – and you don’t indicate any shred of a reason to doubt that. You also know that their manager will retaliate against them. So, even if they don’t get fired, they will face retaliation.

    In a way that last question is the most significant. Because it makes me wonder about your judgement altogether.

  35. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    LW1, do not say you are going to be going on walks during your lunch hour or you will just have your boss as your new walking buddy!

    1. laser99*

      I recommend saying, “I use my lunch hour to call my bestie and vent about my kids.” It’ll be like when the Road Runner sees Wile E. Coyote.

  36. Hell in a Handbasket*

    LW4, you already say that there have been many complaints, including some egregious stuff, and nothing has been done. What, then, are you hoping to accomplish? Seems like your husband has correctly concluded that there is no upside, and substantial downside, to going this route.

  37. My Cabbages!*

    LW2, I just want to say how impressed I am by your responses here. You are handling this with a level of maturity and confidence in a way I aspire to.

  38. Dawn*

    LW4, sorry, but it sounds like…. your spouse is correct that that there would be no point in complaining except that it would be likely to splash back on them.

    I’m sorry that you don’t seem to agree, but then going around them to do something that is likely to have no result except splashing back on them isn’t the way to make that point.

    I don’t want to go overanalyzing things, but you might ask yourself if this is something that crops up in other areas of your relationship or personality, and if maybe this really isn’t about this manager at all?

  39. Phyllis*

    Next time it happens, call the local police and report a “suspicious vehicle.” They will check, and the boss will at least have the embarrassment of explaining what he is doing there.

    1. Observer*

      No, don’t call the police. They probably will NOT check, and if they do show up the car will be long gone.

      Also, it’s an incredible waste of police resources. And it’s a TERRIBLE idea to use the police as a weapon to clobber garden variety jerks. It’s not really a lot better than pulling a gun.

      And that assumes that the boss is a straight looking, white dude. Worse, you don’t know who else might get caught in this mess. The police shows up about a “suspicious vehicle” and instead of stopping the jerk boss (who may not even be there any more), they stop the vehicle of the neighbor because the car is a little to ratty, or maybe they think the driver “looks suspicious” – and could include being Black, having tattoos, or anything else that they don;’t like.

      In short, it’s a TERRIBLE idea.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Thank you for explaining this!!! Calling the police is a wild overreaction to admittedly inappropriate behavior. Some people don’t completely understand that the police are not a weapon to be wielded against people we don’t like.

        1. Boof*

          Yes… if nothing illegal is happening, and not in fear for physical safety or substantial property damage, don’t call the police.

  40. Dances with Spindles*

    LW1: It sounds as if your boss is either crushing on you or views you as his emotional support person or both. In addition to drawing a firm line when it comes to you needing your lunch time alone to replenish your energy it would help to keep those occasional lunches with your boss as strictly professional as possible. Steer the conversation to work-related issues; if he tries to engage you on a more personal level, gently mention that keeping your social and work lives separate works best for you.

    If you’re married, have a partner or are dating, casual references to your spouse, partner or dates would be helpful as well – they’d remind him that no, you are NOT available as a potential date or bed partner! If he IS crushing on you, he should get the message; if he isn’t, well, no harm done – married, partnered or dating people routinely mention their spouses, partners or dates in casual conversation.

  41. Anat*

    LW1: Any chance your boss feels obligated to invite YOU to lunch, as the friendly thing to do with one’s report who doesn’t seem to have anyone else to have lunch with?

    That would be funny. Imagine how relieved he would be not to have to do it as often anymore.

  42. The Rafters*

    Adding to my response on OP 4. I said I might very well call the police about a strange car and in the case of OP’s boss, claim I didn’t know who it was. OP said she lived on a dead-end road. My road is private and my home is the last house on a divided dead-end. There is absolutely no reason for anyone except utilities workers to be parked there for any length of time, so yes I would call the police (and I have done so). If OP doesn’t live on a private road, she may not want to call the police. I definitely wouldn’t call spouse’s job unless manager pounded on my windows or something.

  43. Federal Worker Drone*

    LW4: You have no standing to complain to the management of a company you don’t work for.

    You CAN call and report a suspicious vehicle that appears to be casing your house.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      You wouldn’t call the company though. You’d call the police. And that seems to be a wild overreaction given the fact that LW knows who it is and knows that they aren’t planning to burgle the home.

  44. discombobulated educator*

    This manager in the final question is totally, completely out of line. This sounds like borderline stalking and is not at all ok. I agree that OP shouldnt contact their spouse’s manager but I think the reaction here is insufficient.

    1. Anon4This*


      I think people are overlooking how creepy & inappropriate this is…it made my hair stand on end to read it.

      LW is getting their alarm bells triggered and it’s skewing her judgement about what to do in reaction, but the threat is definitely there.

  45. Michelle Smith*

    LW4: I get why you’re upset, but I agree with Alison. Trust your spouse. You married them for a reason right? Presumably you trust their judgment. They have a better insight into what will happen with a complaint than you do. It’s almost retirement and then these people will be out of your lives forever. Just let it go.

  46. Eric Christenson*

    LW#3, the value of this craft seems more than nominal at >$40, so in no case is your report getting their hands on this and you knowing this is not going to involve the appearance of impropriety. I don’t think you will be willing to give away your craft to other team members who might want it for free.

    I would advise you tell your direct report that it would look bad for you to sell them, or any report your craft, because it looks like bribery, so that’s not allowed. It’s fine for you to refer the report to someone else doing roughly the same thing, especially if you aren’t connected.

  47. Jigglypuff*

    LW #3, as a fellow manager who also crochets, what I’ve done is when my staff ask me to make them something specific, if it’s a thing I’d charge less than $10 for, I make it for them for free. If I’d charge more than that, I give them the “friends and family” discount and I make sure to discuss pricing up front. Most people have asked for one or two occasional items, and very infrequently I’ve had people request, say, half a dozen items to use as holiday gifts, but otherwise this method seems to work. I definitely do not mention upcoming sales or craft fairs or such at work since I don’t want my staff to feel obligated to attend or purchase from me.

  48. Bopper*

    Lunch with Boss:

    It might also be that you don’t like being “surprised” with these requests.
    Another option is to schedule lunch with him every Wednesday (or whatever). Then you get 4 days to yourself and he gets some socialization.

Comments are closed.