I got yelled at after texting a hiring manager’s personal cell, interviewer asked me for something positive about Covid, and more

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

1. A hiring manager freaked out when I texted her personal cell number

I recently tried to apply for a pharmacy tech trainee job at a local hospital. The website was down for a few days and it was impossible to reach anyone, so I decided to reach out to the pharmacy manager directly by looking her up on LinkedIn.

I texted what she had listed as her work number on LinkedIn, explained my situation, and asked if she could please help me.

It turns out she listed her personal number by mistake. She responded immediately, basically yelling at me through text with things like “what are you thinking contacting me like this,” “I should call the police,” “you will never get hired anywhere like this,” etc.

Can you please explain why this happened and what if anything I should have done differently? Have times changed so much that it’s become totally unacceptable to reach out to someone directly for help in a situation like this? What else could I have done?

It happened because the pharmacy manager overreacted. I can understand her being annoyed — she probably didn’t realize she had listed her personal number and figured you’d tracked her down some other way, which would be invasive and wrong — but she should have simply said, “This is my personal number and I don’t take work calls here.” Berating you and threatening to call the police was ridiculous.

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t ideal to use a phone number you found on LinkedIn in a situation like this. Messaging her through the site to explain the situation and ask if there was another way to submit your application, sure. Calling the main hospital number to see if someone could give you a different way to apply, sure. But a lot of people really don’t like people tracking them down on their individual lines (even their work lines) about job applications unless they’ve specifically offered that option in the application instructions. Still, though, it’s not a big deal that you tried to, and none of that even comes close to warranting the over-the-top response.

2. Interviewer asked me for something positive about Covid

I recently had a job interview that I was feeling good about until one of the interviewers asked a question that really threw me off. She asked for me to name something positive that I took away from the Covid-19 pandemic. I came up with something about how I realized a certain aspect of my career field is very important to me and how I need to make sure that it’s present in future jobs. Let’s say I work for a company that makes teapots. Working from home, where I never got to see the teapots, during the pandemic made me realize how much I love seeing the teapots and I want to make sure I’m always in a job where I get to see the teapots often. I ended up feeling like it was a weak response, since I wasn’t at all prepared for something like that.

In reality, 2020 was probably the worst year of my life. I was almost completely isolated for more than a year, while simultaneously trying to handle the aftermath of a traumatic event that happened to me shortly before the pandemic. I was battling severe, nearly crippling, depression. These were the first things that popped into my head as soon as I heard the question. It was really hard for me to think of anything positive at all. Should I be prepared for interviewers to ask questions about my experience during the pandemic going forward?

Most interviewers will not ask you to name something positive that came from Covid because that’s an inane — and, to many people, offensive — question. Any sensible interviewer should be aware they could be talking to someone who lost loved ones to Covid. That doesn’t mean you won’t encounter it — you could encounter all manner of bad questions in interview — but I wouldn’t start thinking of it as a new standard.

However, I do think it’s worth being prepared for interviewers to ask you about your work experiences during the pandemic in general — like about how you adjusted to remote work (if you’re someone who switched then) or to changing conditions in your field, or so forth. You should be able to keep your answer focused strictly on the professional realm though and not delve into personal stuff.

(This is also a good place to note that I wrote near the start of the pandemic that people wouldn’t need to worry about interviewers asking why they were out of work during Covid, and I turned out to be wrong. Some interviewers are asking that, although most will get it when you cite pandemic-related layoffs. Put it on the list of things that looked at the start of the pandemic like they would be common sense but turned out not be.)

3. For employee appreciation month, we’re supposed to teach each other our hobbies

I’m writing for a pettiness check. As part of my company’s employee appreciation month, they’re asking volunteers to teach other employees non-work related stuff — think crocheting or gardening. No compensation is being offered, and no other employee appreciation events have been advertised. Is it petty for me to be upset about this? I almost said something about it and thought better of it, but I can’t seem to let it go. What do you think about it?

Yeah, that’s BS. Their method of showing appreciation for employees is … to ask employees to do unpaid work? That’s it? This could be an interesting event in a different context, but it’s not well suited for employee appreciation.

Things that are good for employee appreciation: time off, bonuses, recognition, food.

Things that are not: extra work.

I’m curious what would happen to their appreciation month if everyone declined to volunteer for the extra project.

4. How do I keep my staff on track when deadlines barely exist?

I am a manager in a small professional services company with a dozen credentialed employees who are supported by non-credentialed staff. Similar to a law firm with lawyers and paralegals. I am one of the credentialed employees but I also manage some of our support staff.

Deadlines tend to be long and relatively loose. For example, an employee needs to complete 30 reports in six weeks. In any one day, nothing is due and the workload is built with some give so people can take vacation, be sick, do personal development, etc. Some of my employees, who are typically three to 10 years into their career, really struggle with figuring out how to schedule their time. They seem to crave that looming deadline and burst of productivity that often comes with it. Unfortunately, doing six weeks of work in one doesn’t really work for our workflows and review structure. And I don’t love seeing people goof off and then work crazy hours for no reason.

I don’t particularly want to create fake deadlines for them, that feels too much like micromanagement. Any other ideas?

Ask them to create their own deadlines and share that plan with you — for example, “Can you build out a schedule for the next six weeks that proposes deadlines for review and finalization for each of the reports that will be due over that period?” Make it clear there’s room to adjust deadlines when needed — they don’t all need to be written in stone — but that the work does need to be planned out.

To be clear, with some people this would be unnecessary — if someone establishes a track record of successfully managing their own work without that structure, then great, leave them to it. But when you’ve got people who aren’t doing that well, and are causing others to have to cram at the last minute to review their work, it’s sensible to ask for.

Once that schedule exists, you can check in on progress against it periodically (especially easy to do if you’re using any kind of project management software, which sounds like it might be really useful here) or ask people to alert you if a deadline is in danger of being missed or just ask about looming deadlines during your check-ins, depending on which option seems to best fit the context and the person.

5. My employer messed up my tax withholdings

I’m expecting to be disappointed but thought I would ask you if I have any recourse with a situation, or really a best plan of action, with a tax/W4 issue I just uncovered.

I unexpectedly owe on my taxes instead of getting a refund. What I owe is a bit over a couple thousand dollars — an unexpected and decent chunk of change. After pulling my W2 and W4 and deciding I was going to get my taxes looked at by a professional and not just use my normal online service, it’s come to light that my employer didn’t process my W4 correctly.

When I filled out my W4, I noted an additional $70 should be taken out each paycheck, and I get paid weekly. If that had been done, I most likely wouldn’t owe and perhaps would be getting a refund.

I sent an email to HR asking for a detailed breakdown of my taxes and checks, and to see if they had documentation this was done correctly (I could, after all, be wrong!), but assuming that they didn’t process that additional withholding, do I have any recourse here? I’m guessing it will be “we just gave you that money each check every week” and they’re not going to pay me for it, but this has caused a serious disruption in my finances that I wasn’t expecting! I don’t have that money just lying around — especially when I was anticipating not having to owe!

Assuming your pay was correct and it was only the tax withholdings that were messed up, you’re almost certainly just going to get an apology and a promise to correct it going forward. You’re generally responsible for reviewing your paystubs and ensuring that your withholdings are correct. It’s smart to take an especially close look with your first full paycheck and again every time your pay or any deductions change.

If you need to, you can set up a payment plan with the IRS. I’m sorry I don’t have better news!

{ 719 comments… read them below }

  1. Lorna*


    It may have been an unusual way to get in contact with the hiring manager, but maybe it helped to dodge a future bullet afterall.

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Absolutely. I’d have probably gone ‘oh right, this is actually my personal number. You say you found it on LinkedIn? Whoops, glad you called so I know to change it! Can you please call me back on [office number] or flick me an email?’

      But then I’m reasonable.

    2. Daisy*

      It wasn’t unusual, it was creepy.

      I would have blocked the LW’s number instead of responding like that, though.

        1. Viki*

          LinkedIn has a built in messaging system, that since they found the manager on LinkedIn, could have used that there readily.

          It is unclear if the pharmacy manager was listed in the job posting.

          The most logical thing would have been to call the pharmacy themselves to alert of the issue rather than texting a stranger

          1. Anonys*

            Yes, but if someone has a phone number listed on a platform with build-in messaging (and where, at least in my experience with linkedin, its not that common to have a phone number visible) I can see how someone would interpret that as an indication that the person would actually prefer to be reached by phone or assume the person doesn’t check their linkedin messages often and that’s why they have it listed.

            And maybe because the hospital website was down OP was actually having trouble finding the pharmacy number.

            1. GrooveBat*

              There are a dozen ways you can find the number of a hospital that don’t rely on the hospital website.

              My issue with the whole situation is not that the LW texted the hiring manager on their personal phone. It’s that the LW thought it was appropriate to call or text the hiring manager at all. Putting myself in the manager’s position, as someone with no control over the website or the online application process, what, exactly, am I supposed to do about the problem? I’m pretty sure the hospital already knew the website was down so the LW isn’t telling anyone anything new. There’s nothing I can do to fix it. My advice would have been to try again later, which the LW could have figured out on their own.

              1. Employee No. 24601*

                I am a hiring manager for an employer that lists me as such in the advertisement, with instructions to contact me with any questions. I had exactly this happen last year – there were technical issues with the site. I was emailed by a candidate. I chatted with HR, who confirmed that the closing date would be extended, which I relayed to the candidate. Literally my job as the POC in the advertisement, and not a problem at all. That being said, I would have been plenty jarred if someone had contacted me a way other than the publicly provided email to do so.

                1. NotBatman*

                  My old company made it possible to find the full contents of our emergency contact forms by web search. I’m talking home address, personal cell, full contact info of a family member… I found this out when an upset client called my personal number sobbing about a paperwork misunderstanding. My coworker found this out when a client showed up at his house as part of a prank.

                  I don’t think either of us acted as our best selves when ambushed by a client in our personal lives, but that wasn’t the clients’ fault — it was the fault of our incompetent web team that would regularly store private information in searchable locations.

                2. GrooveBat*

                  If you’re listed on the advertisement as the “person of contact,” that’s entirely reasonable. But if you’re just the hiring manager (i.e., head of the department who doesn’t directly control the application process) then I’d consider that inappropriate.

              2. Observer*

                My advice would have been to try again later, which the LW could have figured out on their own.

                Not if they are inexperienced. And even with experience, that’s not a given.

                You say that the hospital probably knew about the web site issue. That may – or may not – be true. But also, it doesn’t mean that the people doing the hiring process know that – and that they are taking it into account when moving applications along. So, the site is down and no one relevant is answering a phone. How is the OP supposed to know that in THIS case, the company was aware of the issue and taking it into account when dealing with late applications?

                1. GrooveBat*

                  There was nothing in the LW’s post that indicated there was a time limit on applications. And I also think there is a difference between being the “hiring manager,” e.g., the person who has the need for an employee, and the “person doing the hiring process,” which is typically HR.

                  As I noted in another response, if my name is listed on the job ad as the person of contact, then I could see it being reasonable for some to, you know, contact me. But if it’s just a general online application system with no contact name, I think it’s inappropriate to hunt me down on LinkedIn to inform me of a website outage I can’t control.

          2. Ellis Bell*

            If someone messaged me on LinkedIn, I would never get that message! I have a presence there but I detest the notifications. I would still advise people to try messaging online first though. The really odd thing is publishing a phone number that you don’t expect anyone to use (that was only done mistakenly though).

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I picture the phone number as filled in because you have to put one on so many forms, and her not realizing it would be published.

              Every election I get texts on my cell phone for my daughter. She’s 26. She’s had her own cell phone since she was 12. Somehow, somewhere, she filled out a politics-adjacent form and they asked for a phone number and mine got plunked down, and I’ll be getting texts for her in 2040.

              1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

                In your daughter’s defense, it’s quite possibly not something she did. My mom gets political texts for me, and I am 100% certain I have never put her cell phone number down as anything other than “emergency contact.” (The house phone, yeah, I could imagine that. But her cell phone? I would never do that in a million years, even as a teenager.) My brother and I get political texts for each other on occasion, and neither of us has the other’s cell number memorized. We haven’t even lived at the same address for over ten years.

                I don’t understand why it happens, but texting random family members saying “Hi Daughter, do you know how you’re getting to the polls on Tuesday?!” is apparently a thing, somehow.

                1. PhyllisB*

                  Yep. I get these texts addressed to my husband all the time. Luckily, they have an opt out feature so usually get only one per group each election.

                2. MigraineMonth*

                  Every election I get texts and calls for my mom, even though we’ve never shared a cell phone number or a last name.

                3. Happy meal with extra happy*

                  Since the midterms, I’ve now been getting political texts for an estranged family member who the last time I interacted with, I was a child and didn’t even have a cell phone.

                4. Cheshire Cat*

                  I put in applications for absentee ballots for my mom and for me in the 2020 elections. Because she is hard of hearing, I put down my phone number as the contact for both of us. Mysteriously, right after that I started getting texts from the local party organization addressed to my mom. Supposedly the elections board doesn’t give out phone #s but there’s no other way anyone could get my phone # and my mother’s name.

                5. Splendid Colors*

                  @Cheshire Cat: I am one of those volunteers who texts people. Our primary source for numbers of registered voters is the local election board(s). I think we also do surveys/petitions to gather numbers, but we can request lists of “registered voters who have not yet returned their mail-in ballots” or “registered voters who did not vote in the primary election” or other such database queries. Any fees they charge defray the costs of running elections.

                  And I’m also in groups that want people to text their family members and friends to make sure they vote. As everyone I know is an activist anyway (or I know them professionally and am NOT bringing up the election!) I don’t think I’ve texted anyone I know to bug them about voting.

              2. Qwerty*

                There are sites that scrape and compile data. Car dealerships send me emails addressed to my dad and I can guarantee he never put down my email. Part of the reason my parents got rid of their landline was internet junk had associated their home phone with a number of relatives.

                My sister got a spam text the other day offering to buy her house. Except the address listed was where my grandfather lived 30yrs ago. No family member has the same house or phone number from that time period. Its just internet shenanigans

              3. GiGi*

                This is exactly the same for me! Except my daughter is 24. I’m guessing that number was distributed far and wide because no matter how many times I’ve tried to “unsubscribe” they still find me (her!)

              4. JTP*

                That was probably the result of a data-scraping company. They scrape data from all sorts of databases and piece it together, usually badly.

                I just Googled my childhood home telephone number, and got results for my brother’s old apartment; my ex-husband’s house, and my father’s sister. None of which were for my childhood home address.

            2. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I would also probably not see a LI notification in a timely fashion, if at all. A LOT of people reach out to me looking for jobs with my company and I find it easiest to just not engage, and tell people I don’t actively use the platform if it comes up later. (I also get the usual nonsense like recruiters trying to get me to talk to them about jobs several professional levels below my current one – I really don’t like LinkedIn but that’s probably entering rant territory).

              I don’t love how LW handled this in a normal-hiring-etiquette kind of way, but given the circumstances I wouldn’t hold it against them.

              1. Mom2ASD*

                I find that messages via LinkedIn definitely have a lag time of a few days (sometimes a few months, lol).

          3. Rebecca*

            I would have done the same, but I also have declined to put my phone number – business or personal – on my LinkedIn page. I assume that any mode of communication that I post on the internet is one people may use. I get that this manager put the wrong phone number, or perhaps didn’t realize that her phone number would be open to the public, but that’s an error on her part.

            So I don’t think it was the most effective way to go about getting hired, but it’s also not creepy or dangerous behaviour.

          4. Tired but happy*

            Calling the pharmacy works if the web outage isn’t caused by a system failure that doesn’t take down the voip phone systems.

            Speaking from experience of someone who has worked in a hospital during a code grey that has taken out internet infrastructure and we have had to use what I lovingly refer to as the BatPhone.

          5. GrooveBat*

            Yeah, I don’t understand why LW didn’t just message. Or just wait until the website was back up. The officer texting seems intrusive and extreme, even if a phone number is listed on LinkedIn.

            1. GrooveBat*

              That is, “Texting seems intrusive and extreme.”

              But this is another reason why I avoid LinkedIn. Nine out of 10 people who contact me on that platform are people I don’t know pestering me about something I don’t want.

          6. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

            Many people don’t check their LinkedIn for days or weeks. And the manager did list their name and that number as their work number.
            It was an honest mistake.

            I occasionally get that because I use my personal mobile phone for work when I travel and sometimes people find it and call or text. If they’re genuine, I just say call or email xxxxx.

          7. Me ... Just Me*

            I think it’s creepy and definitely a red flag that I would NOT be hiring the person, since they appear not to understand appropriate business norms.

            1. Willow Pillow*

              I think it’s a bigger red flag on the manager’s part, myself. Not responding civilly to an innocent mistake that they had a hand in isn’t exactly an appropriate business norm either.

              1. TechWorker*

                Agreed, though at the time of their response they didn’t know it was an innocent mistake (but I agree they should have apologised profusely when it became clear). Unless LW started their message ‘hi I got your number from LinkedIn’ which seems unlikely.

                1. Willow Pillow*

                  You’re right that she didn’t know it was an innocent mistake… but her instinct was still that it was entirely the other party’s fault. Letting one’s amygdala control one’s reaction is neither an appropriate business norm nor a good trait for a manager.

            2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              I don’t think it is creepy or a “red flag” because the number was listed as a work number. As for how far off of business norms this was, I would really need to know more about how time sensitive the application was. Say if the application closed on Friday and the website had been down Monday through Thursday, I would say that reaching out to an employee who is likely involved in the hiring process via a work channel feels fairly reasonable.

          8. ferrina*

            Agree that most logical thing would have been to call the pharmacy, since hiring managers usually have no power over the website or application system. The hiring manager would just have to escalate it to someone else, and now might feel awkward that a candidate felt that calling them to report an IT issue was the best course of action.

            But if someone hasn’t had the experience to know that, calling a number that is publicly listed isn’t the worst thing. The hiring manager put her phone number on a publicly available professional website, and someone called it for professional reasons. This isn’t a flip-out worthy offense, it’s a gentle “fyi, if you run into this again….”.

        2. Qwerty*

          Phone numbers are readily available through the phonebook too, it would still be creepy to call someone’s number from there. This wasn’t an emergency – the website was down.

          Social Media sites like LinkedIn mess up the privacy settings all the time. It is very possible that the hiring manager didn’t know her personal number was visible. LI asks for a phone number to confirm or recover the account, then immediately posts it on your profile. When social media sites roll out new privacy settings, they default all accounts to the least private version.

          I rarely go on LinkedIn but make sure to check it every 6-ish months because of past privacy issues with the site. They have posted my phone number and email address multiple times despite never giving permission for that.

        3. Observer*

          Not entirely sure what’s creepy about calling a readily available number provided on LinkedIn

          That assumes that the person realized that that’s where the number came from. So I don’t think the OP was being a creep. But if they didn’t say where they got the number, and the manager didn’t realize that her number was actually listed there, it’s not unreasonable for her to see the OP as a creep.

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            Not sure about that either, it sort of depends what they said. It’s not like LW sent them the application. If all they said was that the website was down for many days and they were trying to apply and could Manager direct them to someone in HR, I think that is just trying to resolve the situation. If LW basically sent them a cover letter and told them how good they were for the job, then yeah, pushy.

          2. Snell*

            Okay, but whatever your thoughts are on “creepy or not,” the comment you’re responding to is itself responding to a comment that alleges creepiness.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Contacting a number listed as contact information on a site made to establish professional contacts is… not creepy. What do people think that info is there for? Decoration?

        I wouldn’t want an applicant to contact me on my private phone (or really, work phone) either, which is why I do not make it available on LinkedIn. You can’t voluntarily put info out there and expect people to never use it.

        1. Confused European*

          As someone who works in tech…People often flat-out don’t remember which personal information they put where, or they don’t read which information will be available publicly. Or they don’t read the toggle thing asking you if you want this info to be hidden.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Or flat out make a mistake, like my old boss who once put his home number as a contact for our work (home adaptations/handyperson service) on some website.

            (That one actually went unnoticed for who knows how long, because the correct contact details for the service were well publicised and also a lot of our referrals came from professionals who all had our details, so people were contacting us on the right number. I know when I got a call from someone saying she’d been ringing that number all day and hadn’t got anyone, I had to specifically Google that number to even find the listing. I didn’t connect it with Boss’s landline in the moment as I didn’t know it, and just said that wasn’t one of our numbers. Boss and his wife then got home from work to a lot of voicemails from this caller, and it was removed after that.)

          2. ecnaseener*

            That’s fine, but it doesn’t make LW’s actions creepy (which is what you’re responding to).

            1. Avril Ludgateaux*

              I still think it’s creepy to hunt down a specific person over a minor glitch. But I also find “googling candidates” to be creepy and intrusive, so perhaps I’m more private than the average AAM reader.

          3. Emmy Noether*

            I must say, I have very little compassion for people who are careless with their info and then blame other people for using it as it appeared to be intended. By all means, people can be as careless as they want, but then they must take the natural consequences upon themselves.

            Yes, mistakes happen. For example, I once inadvertently had my real email published within my username in a public comment on a forum. Someone used it to write to me. I reacted not by chewing out the person (though he would have deserved it, because he had no relationship to that forum, no current reason to contact me, and must have randomly googled me), but by finding the leak and repairing it asap.

            1. learnedthehardway*

              Agreed – I had a number of candidates for a role I was hiring contact me on my personal cell phone. I DID NOT freak out on them, although I was a bit freaked out, myself.

              In fact, at first I blamed the technology, as my internet phone randomly does things like list me as someone else, forward messages to my cell phone, send phone calls to my iPad, etc. And my mobile does things like pop up a map telling me where I’m going BEFORE I have decided to go. All of it makes me semi-suspect that AI has become sentient and is making decisions for me (chuckles nervously).

              As it turned out, somehow my mobile number had made it into my work email signature. I KNOW I did not do that. I figure it was either IT or the AI is really getting ahead of itself. I gave my mobile phone a stern talking to, and am hoping for the best…..

          4. Observer*

            <I.People often flat-out don’t remember which personal information they put where, or they don’t read which information will be available publicly. Or they don’t read the toggle thing asking you if you want this info to be hidden.

            True. But you can’t expect someone to know that.

            We’ve seen stories where people make an effort to specifically find people’s personal information. THAT is definitely creepy and inappropriate.

            But contacting people through publicly available, apparently work related means is not really unreasonable. And it’s just not reasonable to expect people to assume that the number you list on your job or linked in profile is actually personal.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          This is reminding me of when I was in grad school. I listened to a fandom related podcast at the time, and a book editor was a guest on one episode. At the end, she said she hoped listeners would reach out to her because she loved being part of the community. A few days later when I was setting up my Goodreads, I noticed that she had an account so I sent a friend request. She replied with a tirade about how she didn’t know me and how rude and presumptuous it was for me to send her a friend request and she went on for paragraphs. This woman had only days earlier asked for an unspecified number of podcast listeners to reach out to her, and when I did she freaked the hell out.

          All this to say, people don’t always mean what they say and they don’t always intend to be contacted in the ways they make available for people to contact them, and those people are unreasonable.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            Responding with a tirade is shitty, I’m not defending her.
            But I do wonder, is there a way to message someone without friending them? If so, I understand being weirded out if a friend request came in with no context. Or maybe there’s some kind of contact link on her website that she expected to be used.

            1. Loredena*

              But the thing is a message in good reads might actually be stranger than a friend request. About all I’ve noticed the latter to do is add their book reviews to my feed and emails.

            2. Lavender*

              Goodreads has kind of a weird system that allows you to “follow” people like on Twitter or Instagram, or “friend” them like on Facebook. I think the idea is that friending is intended for people you actually know and following is more for keeping up with your favorite authors/editors/reviewers, but there aren’t really any rules about it. I’ve definitely accidentally friended people I meant to follow, and vice versa.

              So maybe this person felt like a friend request was too personal, since following is also an option? In any case, her response was way out of line. She could have said something like, “Sorry, I only accept friend requests from people I know. But you’re welcome to follow me on here or find me on [other platform]” and still gotten the same point across.

            3. Olive*

              My experience with Goodreads is that it’s not like a Facebook friend request where you’re accessing someone personal pictures and life stories. You’re basically just having each other’s already public reviews show up on your feed.

              1. Lavender*

                Yeah, I don’t think it’s common to share personal information on a public Goodreads page! If were reading something I didn’t want the general public to know about (like a self-help book related to something very personal, or a romance novel with extremely graphic sex scenes), then I wouldn’t put it on my Goodreads page. I’m pretty sure anyone can read what you post, even if they haven’t sent you a friend request.

      2. Despachito*

        Given that the number was published on LinkedIn, how’s that creepy? The caller had a legitimate reason to think that this is one of the channels to reach the manager.

        I find Felis’s response perfect – if the number was up by mistake, it is good to realize it was not the caller’s mistake, and the caller should be kindly redirected to the proper channel.

        The yelling and the hysteria were a sign of lack of professionalism on the part of the manager, and I’d consider it a bullet dodged.

        1. rayray*

          My thoughts exactly. I am guessing this person would be miserable to work with, definitely the kind of manager that easily flies off the handle and also the type to deflect any mistakes or problems onto anyone else. I’ve worked with that type before so I’d probably be a little relieved to dodge that bullet honestly.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m betting our reaction to this is based on whether or not we grew up with phone books that listed home phone # for virtually everyone. Cell phones have created a culture of unlisted numbers. For me, it’s weird being unable to call the neighbors; to my teen a phone book is bizarre.

        1. Heather*

          Are phone books no longer a thing in the US? (apologies if that’s not where you are, Seeking! But I suppose it’s a general question.) Where I live they’re still the norm so I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the assumption that a phone number is private (unless of course you’d gone to the step of unlisting it). But if you don’t have phone books I guess that makes sense.

          1. The OG Sleepless*

            No, I haven’t even received a phone book in twenty years, and for several years before that I threw them straight in the recycling because I never used them. That’s an interesting point, though. When I was a kid, everybody was in the phone book. It wasn’t weird at all to receive calls on your home landline from total strangers, or at least distant acquaintances, and not think twice about it.

            1. Clisby*

              It hasn’t been that long for me, more like 10 years. But cellphones wouldn’t be listed in a phone directory anyway.

              1. Lexie*

                I have found that it depends on where you live in the US. When I lived in a major city I hadn’t seen one in years. I moved to a rural area a little over 6 years ago and received a phone book until just a couple of years ago, this is also a place with spotty cell service so there are people who have held onto their landlines longer than people in the cities.

            2. Mockingjay*

              We get very abbreviated yellow page books. It doesn’t list every local business, only the ones that pay the advertising fee. (I surmise that local businesses are using methods for every type of customer contact preference: website, phone/text, QR code, mailbox flyers, yellow pages.)

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I saved the contact information book from the high school (kid’s name, parents’ names, address, phone numbers, emails) because even though mine have left high school, every once in a while I do want to find “Dom’s mother” and that’s the resource.

            For local businesses I look the number up online–I haven’t saved any of the phone books, though I think we got a new one within the past couple of years.

            1. kicking-k*

              Feeling wistfully nostalgic now. We got class lists with contact numbers for parents when I was at primary school (not sure about high school!) but that is a thing of the past, on data protection grounds. Which means if you want to invite a child you don’t personally know to a birthday party, you either have to hope that someone else will give you their number, or that their parents are members of the class WhatsApp group and can be tracked down that way, which does feel a little stalk-y to me. We could hand out paper invitations, but they’re deprecated on the grounds that someone will feel left out for not being invited (and they get lost, anyhow!)

          3. Yoyoyo*

            I’m in the US and haven’t seen a phone book in decades. I think they went by the wayside when folks started getting rid of landlines. For businesses, you can easily find the contact info online.

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

            There are still phone books in the US but I don’t believe that they have personal lines. I received one a few years ago and it was just local businesses.

          5. DataSci*

            They’re no longer a thing, and I’ve heard younger people reacting in horror to learning about them (“You mean everyone had a book that doxxed everyone else?”). It’s an area where culture has changed a lot.

            1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

              While helping a friend move during college, we collected a bag of stuff to take to be shredded (mail, old school documents, finance stuff, etc.) But one thing that baffled me is that she insisted on adding her phone book to the bag: “because people can find me in it!”

              Well…yes. And also everyone else on the block got one too – are you planning on some burglary?

              I didn’t win that argument.

              1. Avery*

                Funny, the argument’s basically flipped with my parents and me. They insist on shredding anything that has their name and address on it. I figure my name and address are already out there, and if somebody wanted to track me down that badly, it’d be much more likely that they’d use the Internet for it rather than rifling through my recycling bin… especially since they’d have to know my address to find the recycling bin in question in the first place!

                1. Reb*

                  It’s not about finding you, it’s about a criminal using official letters to “prove” they’re you and steal your identity.

            2. Parakeet*

              I did grow up with phone books, but I agree with the younger people in this case. Technology-facilitated stalking is easier now than when I was a kid (though honestly it seems like phone books create a risk for this too, by associating people’s names with their home addresses. Phone numbers can be connected to people’s social media accounts, they can be used to find people in data breaches. And with a phone book you at least have to have the phone book for the right area to associate someone’s name with their home address, meaning that you already have to have some idea where they live. But with contemporary data brokers, you can usually find that person’s home address if they live anywhere in the US. Which could be a huge problem for someone who moved far away to, say, shake off a stalker ex – with a phone book, the ex would have to know what area’s phone book to get, but today, unless the person has taken certain precautions that most people don’t realize exist, they could trace the person’s new home address, even if the person had since changed their phone number.

        2. Not your typical admin*

          I agree with this! It used to not be weird at all to look up someone’s number or address f you needed to contact them.

        3. Nikki*

          I’m old enough that my home number was listed in the phone book as a child but these days I guard my cell phone number very carefully. I don’t post it online anywhere and only give it out to people who really need it. Publicly sharing your number is a lot different today than it was 30 years ago. Now if you do that, you’re likely to get a lot of spam calls. It’s also risky since your phone number is likely tied to all of your online accounts so scammers can more easily access other info about you if they have your phone number and might have an easier time getting into your accounts.

          1. Maggie Perhaps*

            I recently gave my number out to a couple of people I was talking to on some dating apps. Usually I guard my number pretty closely but I wasn’t thinking/was being optimistic. One person I did end up going on a date with, it wasn’t great and I sent a not interested text, blocked and then was horrified when the guy used my number to try and add me on every other social media I have. The other guy never got out of the talking stage, it petered out and then he managed to find and message me on the whatsapp account I forgot I had. A lesson was definitely relearnt about guarding my number.

        4. Lavender*

          I was also wondering if it’s a generational thing. My dad is in his seventies and has completely different views on this than I do. If I have a question for a potential employer (or really…anyone), he always tells me I should call them. His logic is that people don’t always read their texts or emails and I’ll get an answer more quickly if I call. To me, phone calls can feel pushy–I only call people if it’s very time-sensitive or if I’ve already tried other communication channels.

        5. Qwerty*

          This is why I find it weird that people are saying the hiring manager should have expected to be contacted because her number was available if you went digging. For decades we had phone books with everyone’s numbers and even in the age of Gumption!, people called the office not a manager’s home phone.

          I just googled my fullname + yellow pages (can’t remember which is yellow or white). There’s a website available with not just my cell number, but also all of my google voice numbers and my current and former addresses.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            I wouldn’t call it digging if their number is published on a site that exists for the express purpose of making contacts.

            The LW says it was impossible to reach someone which is presumably why they didn’t call the office.

            I wouldn’t have done it myself, but I can totally follow their thought process.

          2. chips and scraps*

            Yeah, but ‘listed on her LinkedIn profile’ isn’t a lot of digging. If I saw that, I’d assume it was an acceptable way to contact her professionally – that it was a work number, not her personal phone, and that she meant for people to use it. I would personally rather chew my own arm off than initiate contact by phone unless I have no choice, but I wouldn’t think worse of anyone else for using the number she gave on her professional profile.

            Now she might not remember she put it there, or realise it’s visible – but that’s not LW’s fault.

          3. Shan*

            There’s a huge difference between using a number published automatically in a phonebook, and using one listed on a website that the person had to a) create an account for, and b) enter that information, knowing it would be viewed by people looking them up in a professional capacity.

            I currently have my work number listed on my professional association’s website, but when I’m between jobs I have my personal number listed, and I wouldn’t consider it odd if someone contacted me via it.

        6. Daisy*

          I grew up with phone books and I haven’t been a teenager for a very long time!

          Imagine that you’re a hiring manager. You have an established method of accepting job applications online. Your company’s site goes down. You might think that applications will resume when the site is fixed. However, instead of waiting for the site to return, an applicant tracks your information down to text you. You don’t know how they found your information (because you forgot you put it on LinkedIn). How do you react?

            1. Splendid Colors*

              I’m Autistic and hate getting phone calls and I would STILL open with “How did you get this number?” not “How dare you call my personal cell number!” followed by a lengthy tirade.

      4. KatEnigma*

        If you’re going to list your number publicly on LinkedIn or any SM/Internet, it’s not creepy for people to use said publicly listed number!

        1. rayray*

          Agree. I don’t blame the LW at all for what they did. It’s awful trying to get a new job and having to follow all these “rules”. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to try to contact someone when you have a question.

      5. Lavender*

        I don’t think it’s creepy if the number was available on their LinkedIn page. It would be creepy if they’d gone the hiring manager’s personal Facebook or any other source that’s not directly related to their professional life, but LinkedIn is specifically for professional communication. I would assume it’s okay to use any contact information listed there.

        That said, I wouldn’t call them on the phone without trying email and LinkedIn messages first. I can understand why the hiring manager thought they were coming on a bit too strong by going straight to a phone call, but it’s not creepy that they had the number in the first place.

        1. Lavender*

          Oh wait, I missed that they contacted them via text, not a phone call.. Still odd, but less odd than if they’d called.

          1. Daisy*

            I actually find it more odd, because that indicates that LW was trying to reach a cell phone that receives texts instead of a medical office phone that doesn’t.

            1. Lavender*

              That’s true, but it’s becoming increasingly common for people to have a company-issued cell phone as their work phone. OP likely hasn’t been in the workforce that long if they’re applying for a trainee position, so they might not have considered that some people still have landlines.

            2. Bee*

              Right, this is also weird to me! I am also personally more comfortable sending a text than calling a stranger, but if I thought I was contacting an office phone number, I would assume texts were not even possible.

            3. Just Another Zebra*

              I think that could be a generational thing.

              For me, texting is asking someone to get back to me when they have a convenient moment to respond, like leaving calling card back in the day. An unannounced phone call is standing in my foyer and shouting.

              1. Lavender*

                I think Daisy’s point was that work phones are often landlines, so any text messages sent there wouldn’t go through. Which is a fair point, but so many people use cell phones for work now that I’m not sure an applicant new to the workforce would necessarily know that!

      6. Annonn*

        I wouldn’t call it creepy necessarily, but I do think it is a HUGE overstep. LW doesn’t work for them yet and was just applying to a job, so it sounds like they’re not even very far into the interview process. They should have waited until the system came back up, or called the company itself.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I don’t know, I think being slightly freaked out at an utter stranger contacting you on your personal phone is reasonable. After all, the hiring manager didn’t know that OP#1 got the number off linked in. Googling a hiring managers’s personal number would be a MAJOR boundary violation. And nobody wants boundary violators to have their cell phone number.

      And yeah, the manager’s response was over the top, but not THAT over the top. And she didn’t owe the same level of professional courtesy to some weirdo who just texted her on her personal phone as she would have to a normal applicant. We know OP just made a mistake, but the hiring manager did not.

      1. Günta*

        It’s also possible the manager doesn’t know (or remember) that her number is visible on LinkedIn. She might have populated all the personal info fields when creating her profile, not realizing that her phone, email, and/or website would be accessible to anyone viewing her page.

        1. Rebecca*

          That’s true! But when I get a call from someone I don’t recognize, my first thought is that someone referred them and didn’t tell me, not that they are a creep I need to report to the police. I do comedy as a side gig and my spidey senses are very high for possible creeps on my radar and I still wouldn’t jump to calling the police immediately.

          1. Czhorat*

            Yeah. OP was wrong to use the number on LinkedIn, but nowhere near the level of wrong that makes “escalate to law enforcement” at all a reasonable response.

            Should OP use LinkedIn to find a phone number in the future if the website or email seem down for a time? No. Should they expect a SWAT team to show up if they DO give into temptation and do this again? Absolutely not.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              Yeah. I feel that most people defending the hiring manager are entirely ignoring or glossing over the fact that the HM threatened to call then police on OP! It’s so disingenuous.

              (It’s also super interesting to see this intersection of two AAM commentariat extreme positions of “I want as close to zero interaction with people as possible “ versus “one should never ever call the police on anyone.”)

        2. JSPA*

          ‘Zactly. Heck, I’d give partial points for “who the hell gave you this number?” or “this text is not welcome nor appropriate.” But treating it like presumed stalking???

      2. Anonys*

        I do think threating to call the police is waaaaaaaaaaay over the top, regardless of how the hiring manager assumed OP got the number. Unless the content of OP’s message was actually inappropriate and not just inquiring after the application process (which we have no reason to assume), that reaction is wild.

        I think rather than “freaked out”, most people (not remembering the number was on linkedin) would be put off and a little confused. But not threatened as long as the message itself was professional. And she could have just responded “I don’t know how you got this number, but it’s not appropriate to contact me here”

        Also, for all we know OP explained: “hello, I found your work number on linkedin, I am contacting you to ask about…”

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          Yeah, I think if LW started with “I found this listed as your work number on LinkedIn” then the Manager’s response goes from overreaction to a serious cause for concern. Imagine if a customer with a serious issue with their medicine makes this same error and Manager threatens to call the police on them for, in Customer’s mind, using the pharmacy manager’s work number to contact them with a question?

        2. rayray*

          Seriously though. The police have ACTUAL things to deal with. Receiving a text from someone who has a legitimate reason to contact you is FAR from a real emergency or problem.

      3. JSPA*

        A normal brushoff response:

        –“How did you get this number?

        –“linked in. Your application system has been down for days. Thought you’d want to know.”

        –“sorry, this isn’t the right number for that.”

        An abnormal response: “how dare you stalk me. I should call the police on you!”

        1. ferrina*


          But some people don’t think of that or feel rude being so direct. It’s nice when you can head that off- “hey, my name is X, I got your phone number from Y.” That troubleshoots the issue of the hiring manager not knowing she put the number on LinkedIn. (I use this technique when I contact a number that I’m not sure about, like a personal extension that isn’t listed on a directory, or a number that was given in a casual list, or anything that could be easily overlooked.)

          1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

            It would take an odd set of prior assumptions to feel rude asking how someone got your number and not feel rude threatening them with the police.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I think the manager over-reacted.

        But also that “Ha! The normal communications channels didn’t work, yet I figured out a way to get in front of you!!!” lands as gumption-y (“look at my problem solving skills!”) inside some job seekers’ heads, and stalker-y to most of the people they just messaged out of the blue on a private phone/email. Or cornered in a coffee shop, or forced a resume onto the manager’s spouse (past letter) after contacting the spouse at spouse’s work.

        I think waiting until the system was back up would have been the right move, since I doubt hiring managers would be just hiring away without this system. Or call the main pharmacy number, or go in person, to ask if there is a work around while the site is down–contacting the general workplace, rather than individuals who work there.

        1. Seahorse*

          I agree, but the OP also sounds young since they’re looking for a trainee position. I got gumption-based advice from every corner, so that’s what I tried several times in my early 20s. It was effective when I was a student working in the food / retail sector, so I thought that was the model to use for other jobs too.

          Most people brushed me off politely, which led to my gumption-y sources saying I should just push harder. Nobody owed it to me, but I really wish a hiring manager or someone with a bit of authority had clearly told me I was doing things wrong. It would have saved me and future hiring managers a lot of awkward encounters, and my early job history probably would have been better.

          I interact with many young people in my career now, and sometimes they do something off the wall. Typically, I directly tell them how I’d prefer they handle X situation, and they’re usually very happy to have some practical guidance.

          The OP realizes that something went wrong here, so they wrote in for clear, kind direction on where it went off the rails and what to do next time. I commend their self awareness; they’re a quicker learner than I was. The pharmacist absolutely overreacted and made this worse than it needed to be, but the pharmacist didn’t write in, so we can only speculate about what’s behind that.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yes. I know we tend to get really anti-gumption on here (rightfully so), but gumption advice is still very prevalent in the general conscience. I see it all the time as a hiring manager. With younger applicants I usually give them a ton of grace, especially if I can see they might be following advice that might have been popular 10-20-30 years ago.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Most situations call for a medium level of gumption.

              Gumption gets a bad rap because stories that become legends almost always involve excess gumption. If you have too little gumption, then you just sat at home and watched Netflix. Only with too much gumption can you generate, “And THEN the applicant dropped out of the air vent! Just as the mariachi band they had hired started playing in reception!”

        2. Meep*

          My old boss used to give out my cell phone number to get in touch with me. (The emphasis is on old here, because he is from the time when you cold call people when you have questions.) The number of annoying text messages and calls from his students (he was also a professor) I received in the middle of the night right before homework was due (or more often, after), makes me wonder if the manager’s over-reaction was done out of frustration.

          Either way, I am biased and have a lot of sympathy for her.

    4. noworktexts!*

      I have to say, as (1) a woman, and (2) a small business owner:
      — texting to my work number feels creepy, by both potential and established clients. I pretend to not receive texts at that number.
      — my job ads say, very clearly, no phone calls. I’ve had potential applicants think that DMs through my company’s instagram account are a reasonable way around this prohibition. No. It’s a good way to get blocked.
      — I’ve had potential clients arrive at my business (open by appointment only) to get an interview because “it shows initiative”. It instead shows a lack of respect for my professional commitments and deadlines.
      So much of applying for jobs is about demonstrating a basic knowledge of professional norms. The applicant tried to shortcut the system by finding a different way — but not a different way through the system, which was, yes, broken; they tried instead to circumvent it altogether.

      1. noworktexts!*

        *correction* potential applicants arrive without an invitation to “show initiative”
        (… at least when clients do it, it makes sense)

      2. SaraK*

        So you’d prefer calls to your work number instead of texts? I’m a little confused by you saying you think texts to your work number are creepy. I think people can set up their preferred communications channels however they like but I don’t think that the majority of people feel that text messages to work numbers are inherently creepy.

        I think the OP knows that they should have tried to contact the pharmacy in a different way but I don’t think texting a number you found on someone’s linkedin profile is the profound overstep some people on here seem to think it is. It’s a publicly listed number. The pharmacy manager might have listed it by mistake but the OP wasn’t to know that or even guess that.

        1. PsychNurse*

          Why would a text to your work number be creepy? You should set up an auto response that says “This phone does not accept texts. Please call and I’ll be happy to speak with you!”

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          Yeah, I regularly get texts from recruiters on my personal cell. I don’t know where they got the number, but I imagine I had it up on LinkedIn at some point. Or possibly they bought a list from a conference I attended. I’ve never worried that much about it.

        3. I am Emily's failing memory*

          What mostly puzzles me is how did LW know it wasn’t a landline number? I would never text a number that wasn’t explicitly marked as a cell phone and I’d usually assume if there’s only one number on someone’s LI that it would be their office landline.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I was thinking the same thing – any time I’ve listed a work number over the years it’s been a desk landline that couldn’t receive texts.

          2. Ally McBeal*

            If LW1 is young, and I’d guess they are due to the entry-level nature of the role, it may not have even occurred to them that the number could be a landline or that landline numbers can’t receive texts. I’m in my mid-30s and every single person I know, from age 18 to 75, uses their cell as their primary point of contact, and if they even have a landline at home they don’t use it. My office recently switched from VOIP to Microsoft Teams’ call functionality, so people who have my “office number” can text me and it goes to my Teams messages.

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              Huh, that’s a new one to me. I’m late 30s and definitely know vanishingly few people who use a landline at home but I still default to thinking a business number is likely to be a landline. Didn’t even know about that Teams VOIP feature! (“Only” 10 years ago when I helped a small business set up VOIP phones, they definitely weren’t SMS capable!)

          3. Dahlia*

            Where I live, you can tell by the phone number sometimes. Like all phone numbers that say (for example) 673 as their first part are cell numbers.

      3. Michael G*

        Texts are so much better than phone calls because they’re easier to ignore — or handle on your own schedule. I don’t find them creepy at all. And I’m a boomer.

          1. Brekkers*

            Okay, I’m an Elder Millennial Woman working in education and I concur with Michael G’s point. Texts are less pushy than phone calls and also? If I really am creeped out by someone, I can just block them. Done. For me at least it’s one of the least creepy methods of communication.

          2. chips and scraps*

            Eh? I’m a woman and I’d also far rather get a text than a phone call. I have no idea why text would be inherently creepier.

          3. JSPA*

            I’m not, and am fully team Michael on this. And for that matter, I don’t recognize the monicker / don’t know the backstory, and thus don’t intend to assume that Michael G is male merely on the basis of “screen name reads male.”

      4. Despachito*

        Now I am confused – you say it is not appropriate to text you or call your WORK number. What do you use that number for, then?

      5. JSPA*

        You’re allowed to have personal preferences. Full stop.

        But thinking of those preferences–and presenting those preferences as some sort of wider norm (or a female norm, or a small business norm)? You can’t take a meaningful average from a single data point.

        For the vast majority of small business owners of any gender, part of owning a successful small business is being contactable (and welcoming client inquiries).

        1. Ozzac*

          Yes, could it be that I’m a man, but my businness can be contacted with: 2 different emails for different sides, facebook, linkedin, whatsapp businness and phone number. Somebody using a PUBLIC way of contacting me is normal, not creepy. Creepy would be someone using my personal number, that I don’t make public.
          And still I had people contact me that way because I was referred to them by friends or family, and they explained that.

          1. TiredHiringManager*

            I’m a woman who has children in their 20s, and I put my cell number in my email signature and expect that people will use it. It’s far more convenient than getting forwarded calls or calls through Teams. Getting contacted by sales people, potential partners, potential clients, and candidates is an expected part of doing business.

        2. Heather*

          Seconded. You can feel however you want about absolutely anything, but just categorically stating that that’s a norm is pretty excessive.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            LOL, you should meet the younger of my two younger sisters. EVERYTHING she thinks is a “norm”.

      6. Michelle Smith*

        You might note that phone calls and DMs are not the same thing to many people. People contacting you via DM may be thinking that you just don’t want to be interrupted with a phone call, but are happy with text communication that you can respond to whenever you want or not at all. If you don’t want DMs, specify that. Don’t expect people to make leaps from you saying “no phone calls.”

      7. ceiswyn*

        I had to read that twice to understand that when you say “no phone calls” you actually mean “no phone calls *or DMs*”.

        In my experience, “no phone calls” usually means that the person prefers DMs. So you are blocking people who are actively trying to accommodate your preferences. You really can’t expect people to psychically intuit that because you don’t want one form of communication, that means you also don’t want a different one.

      8. Critical Rolls*

        So… you don’t want texts to your work #, or phone calls, or DMs? I guess that leaves email as the last available method. But please understand that this is not at all typical. Part of work for most of us who provide services to the public — and I would think especially small business owners — is to be relatively easy to contact. The whole point of a work number/phone is to segregate work-related communications and maintain privacy for your private life while continuing to be accessible by an extremely common and useful pathway. I’m boggled that anyone would consider a work-related communication, received at a work number, by an established client (!) in any way creepy. I’m not trying to discount your feelings, I’m just gobsmacked.

          1. Critical Rolls*

            No, they didn’t, they clarified the “showing up without an appointment” bit was meant to be about applicants. “texting to my work number feels creepy, by both potential and established clients. I pretend to not receive texts at that number.” That clearly describes a work-related communication, received at a work number, by an established client.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              I have one client who typically texts, which is better than leaving me voicemails (which she did for a while). I’m happy enough to be getting business and to have the information typed on a screen.

      9. Lavender*

        It seems like there wasn’t a different way of applying through the system, though–OP’s options were to circumvent the system somehow or not apply at all. That’s different from someone calling a hiring manager to “show initiative,” since presumably that person had the option of applying the normal way.

        I do think it was odd that OP went straight to a phone call instead of trying email or a LinkedIn message, but I don’t think it’s particularly egregious either.

      10. Observer*

        So much of applying for jobs is about demonstrating a basic knowledge of professional norms.

        That’s true. But some of you rules are NOT “professional norms”. Some are – eg don’t just show up to an appointment.

        But don’t text a publicly available business number, unless that is explicitly stated? Why on earth not? What is the number for?!

      11. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        I would not consider pretending to not have received texts sent to a work number from current or potential clients to be a professional norm. I’m also not even sure how that would work. If the client has a major problem, believes they have relayed that problem to you on your work line, do you just not do anything until they figure out you are ignoring them?

      12. Just Another Zebra*

        I promise I’m not trying to be snarky, but if I, a potential customer, wanted to reach out to you… how would I do that? According to what you wrote:

        -you don’t want texts, and find them creepy
        -your ad says no phone calls
        -DM to your business social media accounts get blocked
        -showing up without an appointment shows a lack of respect (I don’t disagree here, FWIW)

        So I guess… email only? Which is your choice, sure, but that feels really restrictive as a potential client.

        1. GrooveBat*

          I think folks are missing the commenter’s clarification that they are referring to job applicants, not clients.

    5. JSPA*

      Exactly my reaction. Whether the hiring manager is intrinsically an over-reactive jerk who blames everyone but themselves for the foreseeable outcomes of their own bad choices, or has merely been pushed to resembling one, by the stresses of their current situation, who knows?

      But this is a program that can’t or won’t get its website up and running, can’t or won’t create other channels for communication, run by someone who can’t or won’t listen long enough to realize that their personal cell is listed, ungated, on their linked-in page, and who’s comfortable threatening to use the cops as their personal enforcer for an action that’s patently not a violation of the law.

      OP1, I’m sorry if this was your only your best option, But looking elsewhere will may serve you better in the long term.

      1. GrooveBat*

        So, again, I will point out that the “hiring manager” is likely NOT the person who runs the applicant website. The hiring manager is the person who makes the hiring decision and will be the person LW would report to.

        It is likely an entirely different department that runs the website and screens applicants.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think the hiring manager’s reaction was rude and way over the top, but LW had not even applied yet and the hiring manager had no context for why this random person was contacting them about a website malfunction.

        1. GrooveBat*

          Actually, I’m going to correct myself. The LW did not even specify whether the pharmacy manager *was* the “hiring manager.” Depending on how big the hospital/pharmacy is, that person could have been entirely uninvolved in the applicant process.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            Even if they don’t have hiring authority, it’s not a stretch that they might know their boss or whoever is hiring pharmacists and who LW should talk to about the problem.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Allow me to indulge in some wild speculation here. A former co-worker’s employer set up LinkedIn accounts for employees who hadn’t had them. Maybe her employer isn’t the only one to do that.

      If the company with the malfunctioning hiring page did that, they could have fedbad/private info to LinkedIn and hiring manager didn’t know yet.

      Or s/he is just the jerk we suspect.

    7. Well...*

      Yup, if you design a bad system, people are going to try and find a way around it, and they are going to rely on less conventional methods to do so when they can. If you react by yelling (!!) at someone after putting them in an odd situation to which they reacted oddly, it doesn’t give me much faith in your ability to manage people.

      Also for people saying this is creepy, consider the power differential between a hiring manager and someone looking for a job. It really feels like punching down to yell at the job applicant, especially given this particular situation. I’m a woman too but I don’t yell at my students (grad or undergrad), ever, even when they do some out-of-touch things that can make me uncomfortable, and that I have to address.

      1. Daisy*

        The hiring manager didn’t design a system, though. Their employer’s website, which I doubt they personally created, went down. Then LW looked for their contact information to text them.

        They also didn’t yell. They responded via text (with a way over-the-top comment about calling police) and LW characterized it as “yelling.”

        1. Well...*

          Check out the title of this post.

          Also threatening to call the cops (!!!) is a similarly unacceptable escalation when nobody is actively in danger.

        2. Well...*

          Also I think you can definitely behave as if you are yelling over text, and I would never text like that with my students either, no matter how inappropriate i thought their behavior was. The power differential matters.

    8. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Perhaps it was an overreach on OPs part, but it’s an honest one if the website was down and it was clear they thought it a work number and stated the reason why they were contacting.
      Threatening to call the police is just SUCH an extreme nuclear overreaction to one text that I guess it tells you a lot about working there. IDK, maybe there is a valid reason behind it, but still it sounded like OPs text was professional not offensive in any way to warrant it.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Agreed, unless there was an actual threat of violence, involving armed law enforcement is an overreaction of stunning proportions.

      2. GrooveBat*

        The overreaction was extreme and unwarranted, but I still don’t understand why OP didn’t just reach out to HR. You know, call the main switchboard of the hospital and ask for the HR department.

    9. Tiger Snake*

      I think a better solution might have been to contact the hospital or pharmacy, explained the issue and who you needed to speak to, and let them give you a number to call. The hiring manager did overreact, but it does still feel stalker-y whenver you skip the directly correlated middleman to go around hunting for personal information.

  2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    #2: I’ve still got some photos of my positive Covid test. Does that count?

    But yeah, weird question.

    1. Blackbeard*

      I was going to say, too, the LW should show a positive COVID test!

      Yes, that was a dumb and insensitive question. But if I had to answer I’d say that a positive aspect of COVID is that it has normalized working from home.

        1. Random Dice*

          I HATE when people talk about a silver lining of Covid. It’s monstrous.

          But I also couldn’t smile in the group photo after the Holocaust Museum.

          I don’t understand the rest of humanity and how callous they are in the face of a mountain of human suffering.

      1. lilsheba*

        Yes!! It is a weird question to be sure, but the pandemic has been very positive for me! I finally got out of a toxic job and into a good job working from home like I always wanted, and I finally got good reason to isolate and stay away from people. I’m an introvert and social distancing works just fine for me, and having stuff delivered to me works out well too. I love my home, I never feel stuck here.

        1. Le Sigh*

          Yeah, I have some friends that were able to make some really big life changes like this, so they were able to get something good out of it while realizing how terrible everything was around them. But recognizing that positive at the personal level feels different than an interviewer asking me this question. Almost like the people who are always trying to get you to look on the bright side or stay positive. Yes, it’s good to not dwell on the bad but uh, not everything has a bright side?

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah, all I’ve got is COVID made more people aware of the necessity to wash hands for at least 20 seconds to actually clean them? Who knows how many folks kept up the habit though. And that’s not work it’s general public health, but it’s the best I can come up with as a positive thing.

    2. Luna*

      My personal, positive response could be, “Well, the positive thing is that lack of employment and contact with the public meant it took me TWO YEARS to finally catch Covid myself!”

      1. Presea*

        Yeah, there’s been plenty of trauma to go around even without counting all of the deaths. Fearing for high-risk loved ones whether anything actually happened to them or not, cases of long covid, social isolation and/or being forced to expose ones self to danger, or having people you live with unavoidably exposing you for all sorts of reasons good or bad… I could go on.

    3. Nope*

      Mine would be that due to travel restrictions, my sister had to deal with far fewer child custody visitations by her cocaine addict ex-husband.

      Not something I’d actually ever want to discuss in a job interview. Or at a job at all.

    4. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

      “I’ve appreciated how much easier it is to get to know someone’s true nature. After millions of deaths around the world, whole families wiped out, and we don’t even know how many people left with life altering disabilities & chronic health conditions? Those who prioritized their own convenience over other people’s safety by refusing to mask have made themselves obvious. And those who turn a traumatizing global tragedy into a vapid, massively inconsiderate creative thinking exercise for job interviews, have as well.” Ugh.

      1. NotRealAnonforThis*

        “I’ve appreciated that those who feel their minimal discomfort and inconvenience is more of an issue than the life of my high risk child have had the stones to tell me to my face as its much easier to determine who I’m willing to deal with or not.”

        The overlap between these folks and the folks who wonder why we’ve ghosted them is a near circular Venn diagram, if anyone was curious.

    5. Thegreatprevaricator*

      Yeah. ‘I learnt that I can survive the overnight loss of our entire household income (we both worked freelance in the arts) and deliver on small freelance contracts whilst caring for a 2.5 year old. I am able to pro-actively make plans to address the ongoing impact on our financial position due to the long term impact on the cultural sector, and I was able to seek support to deal with impacts on my mental health and well-being. Another plus was that I never have to deal with that specific situation again’. What a stupid question. I don’t think I would have been able to resist giving some kind of answer that spoke to the dangers of asking that question.

      1. Random Dice*

        In reality, I’d probably say starkly “my grandfather died of Covid”, start to cry, and leave.

        He’d never ask that question again, and also still be an insensitive glassbowl.

    6. Biotech guy*

      I seem like I’m one of the few people who had a good Covid experience. I’m divorced and only saw my daughter 2-3 weekends a month. Covid meant that I was working from home and and she was doing remote learning so it didn’t matter where she lived so I got to have her 50% of the time. It was great for us. She’s a teenager and we had a very tense relationship and we spent a lot of time talking and doing things together and worked things out.

      She’s graduating from high school in June and will be moving in with me for a year before going off to college. So I can truthfully say that Covid saved my relationship with my daughter.

      1. Lavender*

        That’s great, and I’m glad the two of you had that time together.

        That said, I’d like to respectfully point out that perhaps a thread of people sharing their difficult (and often traumatic) experiences with COVID isn’t the most tactful place to bring this up.

      2. Observer*

        I have to agree with @Lavender

        You’re not the only person who has had positive outcomes from Covid, and I think that there is a place to discuss those.


        THIS thread is not it!

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I mean, we finally got to stop taking checks, which the owners had wanted to do for years, but that’s pretty much it.

      This question seems like a really bad idea–what if you asked it of someone who lost family members to Covid? Or nearly died themselves? Or had kids who are flailing in school due to remote learning?

    8. MsClaw*

      I think there were a lot of people who discovered new hobbies, deepened relationships, learned something new about themselves, etc. That’s probably the sort of thing the interviewer was trying to get at.

      But given how many people spend the pandemic sick, terrified, unemployed, isolated, or *in mourning for sick or dead loved one(s)* this is a bizarre question to set.

    9. once a librarian always a librarian*

      I work in public libraries and we often discuss the “good things” that came from the pandemic. I realize that wording may be problematic, but libraries stepped up and served the public in amazing ways that would have taken a long time to normalize without the insane disruption the pandemic caused.

      I have asked interviewees what was learned, or what they would keep from their experience.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I salute you.
      Also, OP…are you supposed to do this during the day?
      Like take away work time or lose lunch time?
      Are you supposed to meet on the weekends or Zoom after work?
      Are you supposed to provide materials for your coworkers?
      Jane bakes, she will bring in cookies for people to decorate? Or stuff to make microwave cakes?
      Bob fly fishes. He is going to provide fly tying materials?
      Jim paints. Yeah, no thanks.
      Mary plays video games. Just hook everyone’s PC up?
      This is ridiculous for all these reasons and more.
      Dear lord, please volunteer and say your hobby is writing vampire erotica fan fiction on parchment with ink and a quill.

      1. coffee*

        Yeah, most of my hobbies (past or current) require at least some equipment. At best, I would choose “singing” and get some kind of free karaoke on YouTube, so I hope my colleagues are not put off by the thought of performing in front of their coworkers.

        Worst case scenario, they’re buying a $2000 sewing machine and having to heft that into the office. BYO fabric, pins, needles, thread, scissors, chalk, and sewing pattern too. Remember not to put your hand in the way of anything sharp. We’re going to be here for hours so clear your calendar.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I do a lot of fiber arts (sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery, and dabble in anything I can manage to) and the thought of teaching them to a group of coworkers gives me hives.

          Aside from the question of supplies, and trying to dash from person to person to avert catastrophe, there’s also the fact that anyone’s first project (first few projects, actually) will take 10 times longer than the person thought and have about 99% chance of turning out wonky. Now, some people will be happy with their creation regardless, but a lot will be quite dissatisfied.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I knit, which is a very transportable and low-cost-to-entry hobby. But I am TERRIBLE at teaching it! I have tried before. Knitting and the maths involved is very intuitive to me, and I can’t explain it to someone who doesn’t see it in the same way. So I just look at what other people are doing wrong and go, “uh huh,that’s wrong” and shrug and we don’t really get any further than that.

            1. kicking-k*

              Yep, me too. I also have a very weird self-taught knitting style. I don’t think most people WANT to knit the way I knit. (The results are fine!)

          2. Jojo*

            Same here. I’ve spent many years learning these skills and I would be furious if someone asked me to give a free lesson while telling me it’s because they appreciate me. You want to learn how to quilt, Google it.

            @bamcheeks, I can do most of the fiber arts, but I cannot knit (well, technically purl) and keeping track of stitches is not my strong point. I would never expect anyone to deal with trying to teach me to knit.

            What are wood workers supposed to do? Bring in a saw and a lathe? So dumb.

      2. Not everyone can be good at crochet*

        What if someone has exceptionally boring hobbies? Like in my free time I read, hike, and volunteer at a local charity important to me. I enjoy doing all these activities, they fill my time and fullfil all the things a good hobby is supposed to do. But I haven’t the slightest clue how to teach someone else to do these. Am I taking everyone on a group hiking trip? Giving a book report?

        1. anna*

          I think they’re just making the opportunity available for people who want to do it and who have hobbies that fit the format. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a bad appreciation activity, but not for some of the reasons people are giving here.

          1. Office Lobster DJ*

            I agree. While it’s not great for employee appreciation (especially if it’s the only appreciation!), I don’t think it’s a universally terrible idea. I could see it working as a “Winter Blah Buster” activity in some offices, where people who feel like volunteering — volunteering obviously being the key word — could do some sort of demo or presentation on a hobby.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Particularly if it’s made clear that it is fine to do during work time. I have fond memories of making scented candles at work, which was treated as an optional team bonding activity.

            2. Super Fun*

              I agree. Lots of “ice breaker” type questions are specific in ways that just happen to line up with things I can share about myself (I’m not a pet person and I haven’t traveled much) but maybe I would enjoy finally having a small platform to talk about whatever I wanted for a few minutes.

              But also I’m still into adult coloring books (I cant draw freehand but I like to feel creative) so if my job paid for photocopies and colored pencils, who’s actually going to get mad about that?

        2. BethDH*

          An org I worked at a while ago did a good version of this, I thought. They encouraged employees to start lunch or after-work interest groups. They provided some small amount of storage and lounges. They were not there to “teach” and it was BYO supplies, but they were expected to welcome novices, and it was not unusual that they would bring in extra supplies to share/trade. There were knitting groups and such, but also a Nordic walking group and model building group.

      3. Kloe*

        Let’s all get into an MMO together. Hour one, account creation and full understanding the in an outs of accounts and why can do, can’t do and why you shouldn’t fudge your personal information. Hour two downloading and installing the game (including trouble shooting because of course people got the wrong version, messed up account creation, etc). Hour three character creation (and for people who are fast at decision making, starting the game and the most important step: read your tooltips and help boxes, there’s a reason those boxes pop up in the center of your screen!111!!). Hour four, the starting thing for those that took longer with their characters.

      4. Asenath*

        I’ve done a range of hobbies over the years, but when I’m asked in an interview I normally mention reading as my go-to option – a little boring, but unexceptionable and true. I wouldn’t mind being paid to sit down and read something not work related, with other workers doing the same at their desks!

      5. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I really really want an update on this one. Did anyone actually step up and volunteer to teach anything? How did it go? Or did the whole thing fizzle out because no one wanted to spend time trying to teach anybody anything?

      6. Dona Florinda*

        I play drums. Try teaching that at work for like five minutes and I promise your employers will change their minds.

        1. Gumby*

          I once had a co-worker who did Taiko. She did teach us! 100% voluntary attendance, during work hours, and we did it outdoors using bean bag chairs for the “drums.” We had plenty of bean bag chairs to use since this was an internet company in the early 2000s. It was fun even w/o the sound of the drums.

      7. ferrina*

        If I run an table-top RPG session for my coworkers, can I bill time for my prep work? That’s a lot of minis I’m going to need to paint…

      8. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        Yeah, if my work ever tried that somehow I doubt the management would be in any way prepared for my “Gay Yakuza Fanfic 101” seminar complete with PowerPoint presentation *cough*

        1. Avery*

          Weirdly enough, I’ve used fanfiction from a queer horror podcast in a workplace context before… because a potential employer wanted to see a sample after I briefly mentioned writing fanfiction (in the most professional-sounding wording I could muster) as a hobby during an interview. But the bit I sent over was specifically lacking in queer content and not too horribly horrific either. I can only imagine the problems that leaning into that kind of writing and teaching others to do it IN THE WORKPLACE might cause…

      9. JK*

        I love crochet and I love seeing other people crochet. I feel sick at the idea of having to teach it to a bunch of colleagues in my spare time. This is SUCH a bizarre concept that I can’t even work out how it relates to employee appreciation!

      10. Random Dice*

        “Dear lord, please volunteer and say your hobby is writing vampire erotica fan fiction on parchment with ink and a quill.”


    2. eye roll*

      I’m hoping this activity is in lieu of other work. So management is envisioning taking an afternoon to learn about gardening/knitting/photography/etc instead of work. Under the right conditions (work isn’t piling up and this doesn’t increase the upcoming workload), that could actually be fun. Of course, there are a lot of issues that then pop up (interest/supplies/time), but it could be reasonable.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, we once had a staff sort of in-service day, where an hour or two of it was given over to choose an activity – art, yoga, badminton, table tennis, a walk, etc – where some were taught/organised by people who were interested in it (the art teacher offered an art class; a colleague who is big into new agey stuff organised yoga, that sort of thing). I actually don’t know how they got people to organise activities because the first I heard of it was after they were organised and we were just being asked to sign up for which we wanted to do.

        Of course, the difference was that this was as part of a staff training day and was intended, I guess, partly to “tick a box” about “staff wellbeing,” but also as a break on a full day of training/listening to speakers and probably also just to fill some time. It wasn’t billed as “staff appreciation.”

      2. Gracely*

        Yes, this. If I could spend an afternoon learning to crochet or knit colorwork, or teaching coworkers how to decorate cakes instead of working, that would be great. If I’m supposed to do that outside of work hours/with the same work deadlines, though, hell no.

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Best answer ever raincoaster!

      I’m storing that away in case I ever need it.

      My first option would have been I read and am happy to teach anyone who needs to learn to read!

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “My hobbies include radicalization. On Thursday we’ll have a session on anticapitalism and reclaiming the means of production. Friday you’ll all get your union cards.”

    5. QuilterGirl*

      For my old job’s employee appreciation day, we were asked to all bring a main dish to share, and they charged $5 at the door to cover paper plates and plastic forks. In addition, donations to like five different charities were being accepted at the door and was strongly encouraged that everyone donate. If you couldn’t shop from the donation list in time, the secretaries took cash (usually $25 and up) and they did the shopping on their own time. I never really felt appreciated.

      1. bamcheeks*

        they charged $5 at the door to cover paper plates and plastic forks

        How many was each person expected to use??!

        1. QuilterGirl*

          But…it’s for a good cause! The extra went to paper tablecloths, decorations, and then whatever charities.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Oh I see– I read that as $5 for paper plates, PLUS donations to charity accepted. $5 to cover paper plates and the surplus to charities (like, $4.99999??) makes more sense.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I don’t know any charity that wouldn’t prefer the cash. Particularly food banks. Cash is much easier to transport and store than that two-year-old jar of canned asparagus, and food banks know how to stretch a dollar and provide fresh food.

        1. QuilterGirl*

          Foster youth programs, K12 sports and activities, district wide debates, etc. Each charity provided a specific list. Think a rolling suitcase with toiletries, clothes, and a pillowcase for a foster kid. We are not talking the Red Cross here, just really small really local charities that make a giant impact.

          I still felt a bit like my pockets were always getting picked tho. I’m not a good person I guess.

    6. Database Developer Dude*

      My main hobbies are taekwondo and freemasonry. The former might not be appreciated at the workplace, and the latter doesn’t admit women (at least, my obedience doesn’t)….so that’s asking for a discrimination lawsuit.

      Yeah, that’s not going to go over well at all.

    7. NotBatman*

      Yeah, I think this has to be the product of 1 – 2 people with easy-taught easy-entry hobbies coming up with what seemed like a good idea to them. Like, maybe Drizella who makes origami post-its and Anastasia who attaches little doodles to her emails launched this idea with a 15-minute session per hobby in mind. And now everyone else in the comments going “Excuse me? I have to teach my coworkers how to make furniture? Cause it’s that or break-dancing” has showed the folly of this plan.

    8. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I worked for an org that did this well. They did a half day “wellness day” where staff could sign up to lead sessions on whatever hobby they wanted, and would receive a small stipend to buy supplies. Everyone would sign up for two sessions, then the day was capped off with a social gathering with drinks and snacks, and everyone got to leave a little early. It was paid time, with funding for supplies, and people could choose what they wanted to learn – a super fun way to get to know coworkers better and learn new hobbies!

    9. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yeah, my hobby, for these purposes, is group singing. Did you know that the IWW have a lovely songbook?

    10. Pink Flamingo*

      I’d go super petty.
      “I’m exceptionally skilled at estimating twenty minutes. We all sit in silence, and you say “now” when you think the time has passed.”
      “I shepherd ants to safety on the weekend.”
      “I’m proficient at standing on one leg.”

  3. Viki*

    LW1, it’s an overreaction but also an overreach. Internal hires reaching out to me not a problem, my name is there as a hiring manager.

    But external postings only have the recruiter’s email so I would be extremely offput to have a candidate contact me directly, much less on my phone rather than Linkedin’s messaging system.

    The Linkedin messaging is at least, within the understandable realm of strangers cold contacting you over job postings.

    1. Anonys*

      It might be the case for your company that only the recruiter’s name is available, but this is not a universal rule.

      In fact, while Alison has often advised here that it’s a waste of time to track down a hiring manager’s name, her advice is still to address cover letters as “Dear Hiring Manager” if the name is on the job posting or otherwise easily available.

      Yes, most hiring managers don’t want to be contacted directly about jobs but that’s usually more about them wanting you to use the regular channel for submitting applications and that method clearly wasn’t available to OP here

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        It’s pretty standard for recruiter’s name to be listed in external posting–assuming you work for an organization that has a recruiting department. I have a job open right now, and I wouldn’t react quite as strongly as the person in the letter did, but unless the resume was tailormade for the role, I wouldn’t extend an interview offer. It isn’t an entry level role, so it’s the lack of boundary awareness and understanding professional conduct for me.

    2. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I understand and appreciate your differentiation, and I also assume you don’t have a phone number on your LinkedIn.
      In a situation like the LW’s, using the phone number that was indicated as work phone on a publicly available website might be a bit overzealous but not an overreach in my opinion.
      It’s, of course, perfectly fine if you don’t want external people to reach you on your work number but then I’d suggest not making said number publicly available. What other use would it serve to do that?

      1. GrooveBat*

        People have phone numbers on LinkedIn for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with some random stranger texting to inquire about a position.

        It’s not the mode of communication that was out of line here; it’s the fact that LW thought it was appropriate to call or text the hiring manager directly at all. That wouldn’t creep me out, necessarily, but it would annoy me.

        1. Avril Ludgateaux*

          This this this! I thought the general consensus here was that reaching out to hiring managers directly was a faux pas, at least when you have to make an effort to find out who they are and how to reach them, vs. when they are listed on a job posting. I thought it was generally accepted, here, that you don’t do it and it makes a bad impression.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            Yes, but the reasoning behind that is not trying to circumvent the normal process. Here, the normal process was broken. One doesn’t have to go “aw shucks, I guess I won’t apply then”, one can ask about what to do instead.

    3. Mockingjay*

      If I were OP1, I also would have assumed that the number in LinkedIn was a business number – it is, after all, a business network site. A simple “this is a personal line, not business, please call the 800 number or use the website” was all the reply needed.

    1. Not Australian*

      Calling someone implies you want an immediate response. Texting allows them to respond at their leisure.

      1. BuildMeUp*

        I think Daisy meant that if the OP thought it was a work number, they wouldn’t text it since they would think it was a landline. Although a lot of people do have work cell phones.

        1. NeutralJanet*

          Also, some carriers allow you to text some landlines, they’ll convert the message into an automated voicemail. I would probably try texting first, then if I got an error stating that the text couldn’t be delivered, call instead.

        2. WS*

          In a lot of countries landline numbers look different to a mobile/cell number, so OP would know what kind of phone she was contacting.

            1. Phryne*

              Me too.
              Also I would not presume a work number to be a landline. My workplace only has mobiles. The ‘landline’ number I have is a virtual number that you can link to either a mobile or skype or such. Mine goes to my work mobile.
              (Also people have told me they don’t use the ‘landline’ number because they presume it is old and does not work as we do not have landline phones.)

            2. Timothy (TRiG)*

              I’m pretty sure that they’re indistinguishable anywhere in the North American Numbering Plan (USA, Canada, and a number of Caribbean countries), but clearly distinguishable almost everywhere else.

            3. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Completely. My old house had the same area code & initial 3 digits as my cell. And I think we can port landlines to cell phone carriers.

            4. mlem*

              I heard once that they’re purposely indistinguishable in the US, because there was a perception that mobile numbers were largely for drug dealers (this might have been in the text pager era?), so having numbers that were clearly a kind of mobile device could create a discriminatory effect. No idea if that’s true, though.

              1. Silver Robin*

                I would 10000% want to see a citation on that. Drug dealers…like doctors? I always associated pagers with the medical field. XD

                The simplest answer (to me) is that we already had a numbering system for landlines, why not just keep it going for mobiles? In some ways, it feels *more* strange to intentionally create a separate format.

                1. Observer*

                  I agree. Maybe it’s just what we are used to. But I don’t really see the functionality of having different coding.

                2. Emmy Noether*

                  Well, one functionality of the different coding is to know if one can send a text to that number. Also, some phone plans here charge differently for calling landlines or cell phones, so it’s nice to know before.

                3. Parakeet*

                  I would want to see a citation too, but when I was a middle and high school student, carrying a pager or cell phone was an expellable offense unless you were part of an emergency response service (like a volunteer fire department) because of the assumption that anyone (or at least any younger person) who carried one was dealing drugs.

                4. Observer*

                  @Emmy Noether, some land lines can get texts. And some cell phones don’t do text. So knowing whether a number is a cell or not doesn’t really give you that information.

                5. TechWorker*

                  I’m 99% sure in the U.K. mobile numbers are not geographically tied at all (which makes sense, we’re not that big as a company and – as far as I know! – mobile phone companies always cover the whole country). So the geographic numbering system of landlines got dropped and they all start ‘07’ :)

            5. RagingADHD*

              In the US, there was a period of time during the 1990s when you had a huge increase in demand for phone numbers, because businesses would have multiple lines, plus people were still using fax machines and dialup modems, plus pager or cellphone numbers. So a bunch of local phone exchanges added new area codes just for mobile numbers (like in NYC, local numbers were all 212, and then 917 was added). But as time went on and more homes and businesses had multiple landlines, and there was more and more new development requiring new landlines, those codes stopped being mobile-only.

              Nowadays, you can tell a number is mobile if a local person has a number with a non-local area code, because they ported the number from wherever they used to live. Otherwise, not.

            6. Observer*

              Yes, cell numbers are indistinguishable from landlines. They have always had the same format. In the past there were different area codes, but that has not been the case for over a decade at least.

              So, not there is absolutely not way for someone to know the difference.

            7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              In the USA, you have the right to keep your phone number when switching phone companies. A lot of older folks ported their old landline number to their new cell phone when it became cheaper to have a cell phone rather than a landline as your primary phone option. My dad’s mobile number was originally issued as the landline number for his house’s main line when he established phone service there in the 1990s.

            8. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

              The numbering pattern is the same: xxx-yyy-zzzz, where xxx is the area code (a large region like a county or even a whole state if the population is low), yyy is the prefix (a small region like a neighborhood), zzzz is the unique identifier. But most regions have standard rules for landline prefixes, such as not including a 0 or 1, and mobile phone numbers do not follow those rules.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this.

            A lot of organizations have also completely eliminated landline phones, such as the entire Finnish government and all its agencies, or about 80,000 employees. Customer service numbers are all virtual. The customer calls a number, and whichever CS rep is available answers the call, and if everyone’s busy they’re put on hold. Such systems have a specific operator number and don’t accept text messages. My job doesn’t require me to answer calls from external customers, but my work cellphone has its own SIM number, and another number with that operator prefix. You can call both, but only send texts to the SIM number.

          2. EvilQueenRegina*

            True – if this had happened in the UK, OP would have been able to tell whether it was a landline or mobile number, but what they would have had no way of being able to tell just from a glance at the number (unless they were familiar with the employer and knew that all their work numbers started with specific digits, as they do at mine) whether it was a work or personal number.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            My mum is still frequently texted on the landline by her hairdresser with reminders about her appointments, despite having repeatedly asked them to contact the mobile, so yes it’s still possible in the UK :)

            1. Hlao-roo*

              I’m in the US and I’ve seen/heard someone text a landline. The landline converts the text to a voicemail (the voice is a computer voice).

              1. Lexi Vipond*

                Yes, that. A mechanical voice tells you that you have a text message from Zero. Seven. Seven. And. So. On. … and then reads it to you.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  Don’t accidentally send sexts to your girlfriend’s parents’ landline, in case her dad answer the phone and gets a disembodied robot voice saying unspeakable things. Although it did make a great story for the father-of-the-bride speech at my brother’s wedding. ;-D

              2. Uranus Wars*

                Yes, this is what both my veterinarian and doctor do. They actually ask me to text their direct line if I have inquiries and not call unless it’s an emergency. That way they can get to them later. Then they both text me back a response.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          This also perplexed me. I would picture the work phone as a landline-esque phone on a desk in many jobs, and so I would telephone.

        4. Akcipitrokulo*

          In uk… isn’t it obvious where you are what is calling? Here, if it starts 07, it’s a mobile…. 01 a landline not in London, 02 a landline in London.

          1. Networks are complicated*

            In North America, both the US and Canada have the same “country code”, 1, then there are 3 digits for the area code, 3 digits for the exchange code, and 4 digits for the line itself. That made sense in “ye olde days”, where a local call was 4 digits, a inter-city call was 7 digits (or 2 letters and 5 digits), and long distance calls were the full 10 digits. Calls were routed by mechanical relays in phone exchange, so the structure made sense. Then, when cellphones came, they started by giving numbers in the area code where the provider was located, then after a while you could get a cellphone number in your area code.

            When they upgraded everything to be computerized switching instead of the old relays, they started allowing people to “port” their numbers from a provider to another. The whole rigid structure was unnecessarry. Nowadays, 10 digits dialing is mandatory, landlines and cellphones all share area codes, and people can move areas but still keep their old phone numbers, area code included. So, a phone number can tell you where a number was when it was assigned, and it’s a good chance that it’s still in that area, but maybe not. There’s also no differenciation between landline and cellphone numbers.

            1. MsSolo (UK)*

              I have a vague idea this is why number spoofing is a much bigger issue in the US than over here. The infrastructure does allow for it, which is why it happens with bank phone numbers here, but it’s pretty rare for personal numbers because the area codes are still fixed to areas, and very few people will pick up an unknown mobile number if they’re not already expecting a call.

              1. Yorick*

                Area codes are also linked to areas in the US. I moved so my area code doesn’t match where I live. I actually know it’s a spam call and not a real call if it has the same area code as my phone number.

                1. arthur lester*

                  ceiswyn– it happens if you move away but keep your cell phone! you won’t get a new phone number for the cell phone after that.

                2. Velociraptor Attack*

                  Likewise. I’m originally from Florida and now live nowhere close to Florida so if I get a call from anywhere in the state that I don’t recognize, I know it’s spam.

                  And eeiswyn, they are linked to the area where they are originally set up. So I was in Florida when I set up my cell so that’s what it is linked to.

        5. Clisby*

          It would never occur to me to assume a work phone was a landline. I’ve seen too many business people talking on cellphones. (Obviously doing business, not making dinner plans with a partner, etc.)

        6. Eldritch Office Worker*

          A lot of places use digital systems now where you use an app that can get calls or texts, or texts get converted to emails, or something similar. There’s a lot of variations.

          But if you text a landline you may also get a “message not delivered” error – or if not, you won’t receive a response and you can try calling later. I would probably also text as a first attempt, knowing all those factors. Texts are less intrusive.

      2. Emily*

        I am also curious why LW texted a number that they thought was a work number (unless they thought it was a work cell number). I wouldn’t assume a work phone had texting capabilities unless I was told otherwise (we once had a woman call our office complaining no one had gotten back to her. I asked her when she had called, only for her to say she hadn’t called, she had texted. I explained our work phones didn’t have texting capability. Our website specifically tells people to call or fill out the online form, so why she got the idea to text I’ll never know besides the classic “People are weird.”).

        OP, while I definitely think the manager’s reaction is over the top, I don’t think you showed the best judgment in this situation. Calling the hospital and explaining that the website was down and asking what to do would have been a better solution. Tracking down the manager on LinkedIn without even trying to contact the hospital first does seem a bit like boundaring crossing.

        #2 I agree that it was a terrible interview question. Maybe they are one of those “turn every negative into a positive” type of people (I can’t stand those types of people), but it is super insensitive given the various amounts of trauma people went through (and are going through) because of COVID. I wish you success in your job search.
        #3 I would be super tempted to volunteer to teach a hobby that was very much NSFW (and encourage others to do the same) and see how quickly that shut down the whole thing.

        1. Anonys*

          This is interesting to me – I have always had a work phone/number and always a mobile, never a landline. For quite a few years at my workplace now, noone has had a landline except reception and when I was recently applying for jobs and called for phone interviews, it was always from mobile numbers. Also, where I am it is very easy to see from the number if it is mobile or landline – wasn’t even aware this is not a thing elsewhere.

          Since OP seems to be young (as they are applying for a trainee position) I don’t think it’s weird they assumed it was a mobile.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            I’ve just checked the options available to me on LinkedIn and I can list a number along with selecting if it’s home/office/mobile. So I assume the number was listed as mobile.

          2. Jayne not Jane*

            Agree anonys. I did scheduling of interviews for a position that was extremely entry level. The median age for this position was 21-23. For some reason the company wanted me to call, instead of email or text. It was really hard to get ahold of 60% of the applicants this way. Most of them relied on texting and emailing. Several didn’t even have voicemail set up.

        2. Confused European*

          I’m more confused that you cannot tell the difference between cell phone numbers and landline numbers – are they the same format in the US (or in certain states in the US)? Here in Belgium you can easily tell the difference at a glance.

          1. londonedit*

            Same here in the UK – mobile numbers are nothing like landline numbers (and they all start with 07). But still, people have work mobiles, and if the pharmacy person had listed that number as her work number on LinkedIn then I think it was reasonable of the OP to assume that was indeed her work number.

            1. ClaireW*

              I think the issue for the pharmacy person was less “This is a personal number” and more “Why do you track me down personally when nothing in the job ad told you to do that and there are far betteer official channels instead of going out of your way to find my personal profile on linkedin”

              1. GrooveBat*

                Yes, this. I guess I just don’t understand the purpose of the text at all. What was it the letter writer expected the manager to do for them at that moment?

                1. Falling Diphthong*


                  I think the answer is “Would send a paper application and they would just work around the system” or something like that, but in practice the manager is not likely to be authorized to circumvent the existing hiring system, even if it’s broken today.

                2. Critical Rolls*

                  1) Confirm that the company is aware their system is down, 2) be advised if they have a time frame they expect it to be back up or not, 3) confirm that jobs that might be closing while the system is down will be extended, 4) find out if the company is using any workarounds in the meantime.

                  I do think there were other ways to do this, but it isn’t just empty gumptioning.

                3. GrooveBat*

                  @Critical Rolls, confirming that the website is down, asking when it will be back up, wondering about whether jobs will be extended, finding out if the company is using workarounds are likely all questions outside the hiring manager’s control or sphere of knowledge.

                  LW could have called the main number or the HR department with those questions.

                4. Willow Pillow*

                  I don’t think any of those questions should be outside of the hiring manager’s sphere of knowledge, especially after a few days. LW did say it was impossible to reach anyone otherwise, so they must have tried other avenues first.

                5. GrooveBat*

                  @Observer, I just re-read the original post, and what OP says is, “The website was down for a few days and it was impossible to reach anyone.” I took that to me “It was impossible to reach anyone online.”

                  OP doesn’t mention whether they tried to call, and I have a really hard time believing that a hospital would not have a working phone system.

                6. Splendid Colors*

                  I ran out of nesting, but @GrooveBat, our local hospitals lose phone service for a day or so a few times a year–in a major metro area.

            2. Irish Teacher*

              Yup, same in Ireland, except mobile numbers all begin with (08). On the other hand, landline numbers have an area code. Dublin’s all begin (01) and then the personal number, for example. So you can easily tell what area of the country a landline call is coming from.

              1. londonedit*

                Yep, same. Landline numbers have area codes (mostly 01-something, so for example Manchester is 0161 and Birmingham is 0121. London is 020 and then 7 or 8 depending on whether it’s central or outer London, or 3 if it’s a newer number because they had to expand the numbers available).

                I can understand the pharmacy person being surprised that someone had contacted her by phone if she’d forgotten the number was there, and I do agree that it’s a bit odd to track someone down on LinkedIn, but still, if the number was there and listed as a work number, I really don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume they wouldn’t mind being contacted in that way.

              2. Emmy Noether*

                Total tangent, but in France mobile numbers all start with 06, and “your zero-six” has become a youth/slang term for “your phone number”. Language evolution is cool :-)

          2. emmelemm*

            No, in the U.S. you absolutely cannot tell what is a cell phone number and what is a landline number. In fact, you can port a landline number to a cell phone, and – I assume but don’t know for sure because I’ve never tried it – a cell phone number to a landline.

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            US here. Phone type is are not differentiated by number format.

            Jenny from the old song could be in any area code, landline or cell phone.

          4. NotRealAnonforThis*

            The only way you’d be able to tell my (former) house landline number from my personal cellphone number, or my work issued cellphone from my work landline (which isn’t a direct dial, its a patch-through extension), is…I don’t know, maybe flipped a coin? Literally no difference. If you happened to be from the area, you might know that the exchanges aren’t typical for the area landlines, but if you’re not? No idea how’d you guess.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          I wonder if it’s a UK thing that found this very easy to understand; the number on LinkedIn was a mobile, and one which appeared to be used for work. Most people I know have work mobiles. I would certainly expect a pharmacy manager to have one.

        4. Observer*

          we once had a woman call our office complaining no one had gotten back to her. I asked her when she had called, only for her to say she hadn’t called, she had texted. I explained our work phones didn’t have texting capability. Our website specifically tells people to call or fill out the online form,

          There is a reason your web site has SPECIFIC instruction (which I bolded). Because very many business system DO allow text, even when they are land line system. The only reason we don’t have this capacity is that the cost would not be reasonable given our user base. But we’re actually looking at it periodically, as our user base shifts.

          1. Emily*

            Observer: I don’t understand the point you are trying to make. It was weird that the woman (who was not young, she sounded to be in her 40s or 50s) thought she could text when nothing indicated that. I don’t think people should assume they can text a business number (especially a small business, which we are), unless they see something that specifically says that. It’s also weird that she automatically assumed we were ignoring her, but again, people are weird.

            While the hiring manager’s reaction was way over the top, I do hope LW #1 approaches things differently in the future.

            1. Observer*

              The point is that sending a text is not *inherently* unreasonable. Thus your site has explicit instructions. So the person complaining was being unreasonable, since they were ignoring instructions.

              What the OP did was different. Maybe not the best way to deal with it, but very different from your situation.

              1. Emily*

                Observer: I don’t really think it’s different at all, but to each their own. Both the person in my example and OP acted unreasonably, but the way the manager acted far outweighs what OP did.

                I think this has been discussed to death, so I’ll leave it here with this PSA: Don’t just assume you can text a business without checking first.

    2. SaraK*

      If I’m contacting someone I don’t know I’d probably text before calling. Texting feels less invasive.

      1. CTT*

        I feel totally the opposite! Maybe it’s because I associate texting with friends? A business inquiry in between “here’s a clip from last night’s SNL” and “which of these dresses should I wear to a wedding” feels more invasive. But if I’ve learned anything from this site when this topic comes up, there’s no one right answer.

    3. Asenath*

      I’m pretty sure you can now text at least some landlines. I use my landline as my public private number (I really hate getting calls on my cell phone, particularly very personal calls when I’m out in public), and someone has been sending texts to it, which I do get via email. I suppose my response by email would get back to him, but I think I only tried it once, since they usually don’t require an answer, basically being a notice that he’s noticed and appreciated, or is complaining about, something I did online.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Many businesses these days have combined systems that can handle voice and text, whether landline or VoIP. My company has had it for years. My small, local auto mechanic just invested in a new system that links voice calls, text, email, and the website appointment scheduler all in one. (It’s pretty amazing, actually.) Their preferred method of communication is text.

      1. sb51*

        But a bunch of those virtual all-in-one (or I guess in this case, all-except-text-in-one) systems don’t accept texts, too – I was curious and just tried texting my work number from my cell phone; nope, got a “you can’t text this number” auto-reply.

      2. Splendid Colors*

        My optometrist’s office prefers to be contacted by text. And during COVID (I wrecked my glasses in December 2020) the “waiting room” protocol was to text when you arrived, wait in your car, and go in when they texted they were ready. (They’re in a medical strip mall so it’s not like you have to walk from a giant parking garage at a Kaiser or something.)

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

      It was probably listed as cell phone. I could see listing your work cell phone on linked in especially if you want to connect with possible employees, sales, or clients.

    6. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      In NYC, only the area codes that are almost certainly landlines are 212 and 718. 646 could be a landline or a cell. We are up to 20 area codes. Texting would be a perfectly logical thing to do for 18 out of 20 area codes.

  4. HA2*

    LW #4 – managing that by creating intermediate deadlines seems pretty standard to me. I think there’s a lot of fields, and work types, where the REAL deadline is quite far in the future, and there aren’t actual deadlines every few weeks. Part of the work of managing projects that are months or years long is creating intermediate checkins to track progress. This is normal. A more senior person should probably be able to do this themselves, a junior person might have to have a schedule told to them by their manager, and if it’s an entire team that needs to work together to deliver, well, this is what project management is for.

    30 reports in six weeks averages to 1 report per workday, 5 per week, conveniently! I’d probably expect that for a junior employee, you’d want to check in every week to see if they got done 5 reports or so each week (or close to it) to make sure they’re on track. For someone more experienced, maybe checkins at weeks 1 (to make sure they’ve got everything they need for the project), 3 (about halfway done? All good?) and 5 (almost done, no delays expected?). And for someone even more senior than that, expect them to make their own schedule and communicate what they need to you.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Also “fake” intermediate deadlines are real deadlines, if that’s the date set by the manager by which they want it done! So as OP I would put that idea of “fake” deadlines out of their mind.

      1. andy*

        There is big diffence between fake and real deadlines in my work. Real ones are because there is an actual reason why things need to be done by certain date. It means that if you cant make it, you will cut corners, trade off quality for time, put in weekend and then take a day off after deadline to make it. Because it matter.

        Fake ones means you tell manager the estimation was optimistic and keep quality as normal.

        1. Eat My Squirrel*

          Yeah I’m not optimistic about the interim deadlines actually working, for this reason. For me, at least, a deadline I know is arbitrary and can be missed without causing any issues is not at all motivating. If anything it’s the opposite.

          1. Allonge*

            Potentially then this kind of job is not for you (this is very ok, it would be difficult for me too).

            The point here would be that OP knows when to follow up about what. The deadline is not fake – it’s an agreement between OP and the individual contributors, to keep the working environment free of work piling up or OP walking aroud asking every day where people are with their tasks.

          2. Jackalope*

            I guess I wouldn’t consider them to be fake deadlines in this situation. The NH might say that there need to be 30 reports per month, for example, so saying 6 per week need to be submitted is a reasonable timeline. That leaves flexibility about WHICH 6, but still gives a specific timeline for figuring things out.

          3. OP4*

            Hi, OP4 here. This is the issue I’ve run into. these folks know that the real due date is the 30th or whatever, so they know they have time. I’ve outlined best practice expectations, like doing 5 per week. But then they let these slip to work on other things and we run through the cycle again.

          4. fhqwhgads*

            I’m not even sure the deadline issue is the issue. Like, if I have 30 projects to finish in 6 months, but none have any deadlines, my next question is: how are they prioritized among themselves? If they’re not at all, that’s a question for my manager. Then once they are, I know I need to do them in priority order. If it really doesn’t matter what’s first as long as they’re all done on the faraway date, then I’ll prioritize them myself, possibly by what I most want to do to least, or vice versa, or some mini rotation so I keep it mixed up, or largest to smallest so I don’t get caught at the end with the big stuff and no time, or…any number of other things. Whatever it is, something’s gotta decide an order. Then do them in that order. It doesn’t matter if each individual thing has a due date. What matters is making constant progress. So having an order of operations can be helpful. If one thing has to pause while I wait for something else, do the next thing on the list.
            Although, maybe, for the people in question, this isn’t enough motivator? But if that’s true I’d say maybe they’re not a good fit for the sort of work they have.

          5. NeutralJanet*

            I don’t understand this perspective at all! For me, “My boss says that I have to get Task A done by Thursday,” is a deadline, whether it’s genuinely internally motivating or not. Wouldn’t “my boss will think I’m unreliable for not completing Task A on time” be an issue caused by missing the deadline?

            1. Anon for this*

              I’d say – yes it is a real deadline, but only if the boss will enforce it. Which many won’t do because of reasonable concerns about micromanaging.

              I have ADHD and much to my annoyance, my executive function refuses to take self -set deadlines seriously. Real genuine deadlines, yes. I’ve occasionally got myself into quite a pickle because my well-meaning attempts to make sure I don’t have to do a month’s work in the last week just don’t take. And I’ve had several bosses who will set internal deadlines, but won’t ask me how I’m getting on with something until the real deadline is looming. My current one is not like that, but I couldn’t really blame them.

        2. Smithy*

          I think because of that balance between real/fake deadlines – I actually think a better way to mark this is by setting a performance marker around “best practice”.

          So I work with nonprofit donors, and our performance markers are often set around money raised but everyone kind of knows that often external realities can impact whether or not you make your goals or not. Like if you submit a large proposal that gets funded, but not exactly on a timeline that’s ideal with your fiscal years.

          With that in mind, I often guide junior colleagues to pick KPI’s around “best practices” that they can both demonstrate they are doing well at what they can control but then also have a marker to flag for their supervisor when they’re overwhelmed with work. An example would be to respond to donors within 48 business hours – now obviously there are times where waiting longer either makes business sense or happens due to time-off/ workload/etc. But if that “best practice” is regularly not being met, that’s a bad sign.

          I find that “best practice” marker works a lot better than the “fake deadline” – because ultimately, you’re measuring the aggregate and also flagging choices you don’t want junior colleagues making. In my example – if a donor writes and asks a question that I don’t have the answer for, part of my initial work is seeing if this is an answer we can get in a day or two – or if it’ll take longer. And if you don’t know at first, I want to coach junior staff to tell the donor soon “thank you for reaching out, I’m working on that and will let you know when I have more”. I don’t want junior colleagues to assume that it’s best to respond when they have all the information in 4 days or when they’re told that it’ll take a month to get all the data to answer the question.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I would call these interim deadlines or review points, with specific actions performed at that stage. Draft > Edit > Review > 2nd Draft > Proof > Approve. Whatever is applicable to OP4’s environment.

        Or, if these are a bunch of small reports, stagger the deadlines. Reports 1-5 are due the first week, 6-10 during week 2, etc.

        Deadlines and the routing process should be set by OP, not the individual staff, so everyone is working reports in the same manner. If an employee finishes early, of course they can move onto the next batch, or OP can assign them reports to assist another staff member. (Ex: you get a clunker of a report that takes lot of time of editing and work with the author to fix, so your other reports languish.) When you have the volume of reports that OP4 describes, a system is warranted to keep things moving smoothly.

    2. Anonys*

      Yes, I wonder to what extent OP has to review the reports submitted by their employees? I would imagine for those “only” 3-5 year into their career at least a degree of last look/clarifying open questions might still be required, at least for more complex stuff? In that case, it is so much easier to have a review of where things are at every week or every couple of weeks.

      1. EngineeringFun*

        I give myself “fake” deadlines all the time! Today I need to complete the outline. By the end of the week I need to wrap up teapot 1 design and research material for teapot 2 design….I even put reminders on my calendar in a different color so I stay on task. Sure I move things around but gotta have a plan. I send a Gantt chart to my boss and we review weekly. Look for road blocks.

        1. EPLawyer*

          This is what I did in law school. I took paper classes rather than exam classes. All the papers were due during final exams week. You cannot write 3 or 4 good quality papers in a week. So I would plan it out, with deadlines for research, drafts, etc.

          I still somewhat do this in my law practice. Trial might be 6 months from now, but I have things that have to be done in the interim to be READY for trial. When I get the scheduling order, every deadline goes on my calendar, then I calendar the work that needs to be done to meet that deadline, in advance, planning it out. I make sure I am not doing 3 trial preps on the same day.

          I mean isn’t a To Do List pretty normal in a job? What are they doing all day if not working the projects that are eventually due?

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, if the OP has to “sign off” on the reports or check them, it would make sense for her to say “I want the first 10 in two weeks time to give me time to sign off on them, etc before moving on to the next lot.”

        1. Allonge*

          To be honest even if OP does not have to sign off on it, it’s a reasonable ask. Monitoring this is part of their job: suppose someone gets sick and the reports need to be redistributed – it cannot come as a surprise that on day N-1 there are still 200 reports to be done by 3 people.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, I don’t think that would be micromanaging at all. It would just be… managing.

      Especially if this is causing workflow issues due to the reports needing to be reviewed. I would frame it that way to the staff–“to try to prevent bottlenecks in the review process, we’re going to set more frequent report deadlines” whether that’s 15 every 3 weeks or 10 every 2 weeks or 5 every week.

      Keep the 30 reports as a hard deadline and then you can be more flexible with the other deadlines and allow people to take time off and then catch up as needed–but then at least you wouldn’t have everyone completing all the reports in a rush at the same time.

      It’s very normal to set an earlier “fake” deadline to allow for time to review! I work in financial reporting with very hard deadlines set that we would actually owe a lot of money for missing! We start with that and work backwards to set various deadlines. These reports are due on X date, we want to try to get them in a week early on Y date, so the CFO would need to see them by Z, which means the director should review them on Q etc, etc…

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I also think it’s a key professional skill to understand that “deadlines which can be flexed if necessary and with the knowledge and agreement of everyone involved” is not hte same as “a made-up deadline”.

        I used to process timesheets. If Finance didn’t have them by the 15th of the month, you weren’t getting paid that month. But I had to check and record them, sign and stamp them, and get them signed by my manager before I sent them to Finance, so the deadline to get them to me was the 10th. If a couple of people let me know they wouldn’t be able to get them to me until the 12th, that was usually fine (as long as it didn’t fall on a Friday, and neither me nor my manager had annual leave booked.) That didn’t mean it was a fake deadline, it meant that there are more people in the world than just you!

  5. Turanga Leela*

    In a situation like OP #2’s, with the covid question: if you have options and don’t absolutely need the job you’re interviewing for, I think there’s value in pushing back on a question like that. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, but there’s room to say, “The pandemic was a pretty traumatic experience, and there wasn’t an upside for me.”

    1. cabbagepants*

      Calling something traumatic IS dramatic. Yes, it can be truthful, but trauma is a big deal, especially to drop into an interview. Unless you’re goal is to make a statement and you’re ok tanking the interview to do do.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I wouldn’t advise calling it traumatic if it wasn’t for you, but for many people it was. And Turanga Leela’s point above is specifically about making a statement by returning awkward to sender and making it very obvious to the interviewer that a) this is an inappropriate question and b) they’ve antagonized/upset someone they thought promising enough to interview with it.

        1. Thegreatprevaricator*

          Yeah. I wouldn’t be able to respond positively to that question and I would be quite happy to name the truth of the situation. I could happily do that in a professional way but way to alienate people. It was traumatic, no-one died fortunately but it fundamentally altered our lives. I am generally an optimistic person but my experience of the pandemic was traumatic. We lost our household income overnight, the industry we’re in collapsed, I didn’t qualify for freelance support and I spent lockdown solo caring for a toddler whilst my partner took on work as a delivery driver for less than minimum wage. We are still being impacted financially. Screw that question.

        2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          You know when we are screening kids for trauma being very sick or having your family die is one of the questions we ask. becoming disabled or your family becoming disabled can be scary. A lot of things can be traumatic!

          Even if it’s not medically diagnosable you’re leaving a bad taste in someone’s mouth and selecting for employees that are a little less say .. intelligent or empathetic than you might want.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        Unless I was absolutely desperate for a job and this one was my only prospect, I’d answer this question the way Turanga Leela describes. It’s pretty widely acknowledged that the pandemic has been a traumatizing experience for a broad segment of the population.

        Think about how it would feel if a job interviewer asked the same question about a different society-wide traumatic event. “Tell me something positive about 9/11,” or about the 2008 recession, or about Columbine. Those questions would rightly feel inappropriate and out of touch and it would be hard for a lot of people to find something positive in those events.

        Overall, as a person who has a PTSD diagnosis, I don’t want to work for a company that’s okay with asking complete strangers to tell them something positive about a traumatic event.

      3. J*

        Many of us have worked at workplaces that claim to be trauma-informed but have asked this kind of question. It’s not dramatic to call them out on such things and frankly they’d be lucky if that’s the only feedback I gave them in an interview. I would never work for a workplace that asked that but I don’t think it would be purposefully tanking an interview to quietly remind them that not everyone had the same pandemic experience.

      4. I have RBF*

        I might not call it “traumatic”, but I’d certainly call it “unpleasant”.

        I made out okay, except for a whole YEAR unemployed, where I went through my savings, even with the extra pandemic UI. I am now very far behind, and had to take a pay cut to keep working even now. I can’t do on-site because I have multiple at-risk and/or immune compromised people in my household, and the remote jobs pay less.

        The only upside is I no longer need to deal with commuting and open plan offices.

    2. The Original K.*

      Yeah, 2020 was the worst year of my life, I’m not sure I could keep from saying so if asked, and I don’t think I’d feel bad about saying so. I *did* go through trauma (as characterized by a medical professional) that year, for several really serious reasons.

      1. EPLawyer*

        that would make a point about that question.

        Geez, how insensitive. Even what did you learn from the Pandemic is pretty insensitive. I learned a bunch of my family members don’t believe in science, even after several family members died (not me, just an example).

      2. J*

        I do wonder if they want to know the details of my family member’s death and what I learned in estate management, or if they want to know how I had to learn about my health condition and self advocating because the medical system failed high risk people, or if they want to know what it’s like to be laid off, or if they want to know what it’s like to have a job that hires disabled people forces a return to office while dropping all precautions pre-Omicron. I learned a lot but I have a feeling they only want to know about my sourdough or tie dying days and not how I was doing them to avoid having panic attacks as my world fell apart.

        1. Random Dice*


          So much this.

          “Well, I became so emotionally fragile that I could only reread the same safe book series and TV shows on a loop, for years, so I can now quote them.

          I picked up a brand-new alcohol problem, then got to learn how to stop drinking. Would we call that personal development?

          I learned some interesting new PTSD treatment techniques.

          I learned how to sob until I hurt, then paste a smile on for my kids and make the world seem safe for them, even as it flamed all around us.

          I learned how not to sleep in order to parent and work, which is convenient since my heart didn’t stop racing for years on end anyway, so it’s not like sleep was an option anyway.”

    3. Janeric*

      I don’t know if this is a good idea, but I’d probably push back when they asked if I had any questions.

      “I’d like to turn the question about ‘good stuff’ from Covid around — how did this organization handle the pandemic? Was it pretty disruptive? How did it change norms?

      That question kind of threw me for a loop — could you explain your reasoning including it? What sort of information were you expecting to get? Where in the command structure did that question come from?

      While we’re talking about things with a disproportionate impact to protected classes, how’s your DEI program?”

      OK I would probably not ask anything from the second half but I’d ABSOLUTELY try to ferret out that data.

    4. Enai*

      Yes, even going so far as to get up and say “We’re done here” with an air of Miss Manners’ best “How dare you!” would not be out of place. Millions of people are dead, children were orphaned, all this talk about how “merely the vulnerable” would die brings out the eugenicist in too many… Nothing’s good about this.

  6. My Boss Is Dumber Than Yours*

    @OP #2: last year, the president of the University I work at sent out a faculty/staff-wide email with the subject line as the name of a local amusement park. He started by telling us how he used to be scared of the roller coasters when he was a kid, but then learned to love the ups and downs. He said we should try to think of the previous two years the same way…as if anyone who was upset about their hours, benefits, and/or pay increases getting cut (the subject of his previous email) was just not being positive enough, and that’s before even getting started on those of us who lost friends and family to COVID.

    1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      The only person who should be allowed to compare life to a rollercoaster is Ronan Keating.
      And a rollercoaster is not remotely like COVID – barring accidents, a rollercoaster might be scary but you won’t come to actual harm. A worldwide pandemic on the other hand…

      1. Cat Tree*

        Rollercoasters are legally required to meet safety standards. Pandemics aren’t.

        Also, the downs on a rollercoaster are fun because you know that ups are coming. Covid has been a pretty flat, constantly low experience for many people with no ups on the horizon. Insert that meme here with that guy saying, “you guys are getting ups?”

        Yeah, they guy is a tool.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Why do bigwigs keep mistaking themselves for spiritual leaders and inspirational speech makers? Because they have a captive audience who isn’t allowed to tell them to shut up?

      1. kiri*

        yup, got it in one. i work at a university too, and the admin is also prone to this tone-deaf stuff (although…i count myself fortunate that they’ve never sent out anything *quite* this bad). there’s something about working wayyy up in higher ed that convinces people that a) they’re really smart b) people should listen to whatever they have to say, while in reality there are eight layers of people/bureaucracy between them and the students they purport to serve, and they have no idea what’s best for the students themselves (and never think/care to ask the staff/faculty who DO interact with students on a regular basis!).

        whew! clearly had some stuff to get off my chest there lol

        1. Gracely*

          I would ask if you’re at the same university as me, but I know the odds are much better that our admins are just all that bad.

        2. Newly minted higher ed*

          Or they ask….leading questions to get the answers they want. I had to fill out a two question survey about in person classes that allowed no comments. My answer was actually, in person classes if I can be assured we don’t get sick and potentially die (I had more than one student end up in ICU after we eliminated precautions at orders from the highest level not even on campus) but they were yes/no questions asking if in person was better than virtual. Well, normally, but….

          I turned down a teaching assistantship renewal for that reason and put it on my exit survey when I graduated last semester. And promptly got a job at a private college that still required masking and weekly testing. (Now I’m on the market again but that’s another story).

          All the pandemic did was teach me I have to advocate for my own high risk issues with ADA myself because only my family and my cat actually care about my health.

    3. Beth*

      “I was having a great time on that stunt plane ride until the plane turned upside-down and my wife fell out.”

    4. I have RBF*

      It almost sounds like the University that laid me off due to Covid, especially if the amusement park was G.A. In addition to layoffs they apparently did away with what little annual raises they did (it was only ever 2% to 3% “merit” increases, no COLA), cut hours for hourly people, etc.

  7. Rhymetime*

    #3–The “employee appreciation” theme is ridiculous in telling you to do more work to bring your hobbies to your fellow employees. Not only are you being asked to do this, but the assumption is that your colleagues will be interested in them.

    My employer recently held an employee appreciation event. It was at an interesting venue and opened with a brief announcement from an executive thanking everyone and included a catered meal, a band, and plenty of time to socialize. We all got to bring guests. That’s what genuine appreciation looks like, not this weird request for sharing hobbies.

    1. Despachito*

      I think OP 3′ s employer is just being a cheapskate, wanting to “appreciate” people at their own expense and with no costs to him.

    2. WiscoKate*

      As someone who…doesn’t really have hobbies? I’d be like, this is how you lay on your couch and scroll through tiktok.

      1. Ana Gram*

        My hobbies are just really dull. I like to read. Are you literate? Ok, well, you know how this works. I like going for walks, not a lot of useful info there. And I like playing with my pet chicken. We chase each other and I throw dried leaves at her and she tries to catch them. I guess you could practice that with a coworker but it’s better with a chicken…

        1. Random Dice*

          “I like playing with my pet chicken. We chase each other and I throw dried leaves at her and she tries to catch them. I guess you could practice that with a coworker but it’s better with a chicken…”


    3. Lavender*

      At my last job, my boss made a personal donation to our union as part of an employee appreciation event. (All of the people she supervised were represented by the union but she was not, and higher-level employees in this field have a bit of a reputation for not being super willing to compromise with unions.) There wasn’t any budget for a big grand event, but that small gesture really made me feel appreciated and respected as an employee.

  8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (teaching colleagues about your hobbies)

    Assuming you don’t want to do it and think it is unreasonable (rather than just asking about in the abstract) –

    Wouldn’t it be disappointing if you, and everyone who feels the same way, “didn’t have” any hobbies to share when asked about it? “Oh I thought you crocheted miniature llamas using the fur groomed from a real llamas?” Nah I had to give that up. “Sue said you were a keen gardener” Nah Sue must be thinking of someone else. This should get the message across quite quickly.

    1. Pennyworth*

      My only hobby would suddenly be reading, although it would be tempting to say something like visiting an art museum in each state capital to see if they have a painting with a cat in it.

      1. Jessica*

        Yes, my hobby is definitely reading. More specifically, I particularly enjoy reading books about labor history, worker’s rights, and successful union campaigns! Perhaps for employee appreciation month I can curate a booklist to recommend to my coworkers.

      2. Lavender*

        I’m heavily involved in my local community theatre, especially when it comes to musicals. That’s probably my biggest and most noteworthy hobby outside of work. The thought of teaching a musical theatre workshop to my coworkers makes me want to go live under a rock.

      3. Ana Gram*

        My husband and I like checking out the religious art in museums because Jesus looks like an old man shrunk to the size of a baby most of the time. Then we make up weird stories about the people in the art. We’ve entertained a few museum guards that way which makes it all worth it!

    2. Madame Arcati*

      The gardening example demonstrates nicely that apart from the already-stated issues with this, it’s just not very practical. There are loads of hobbies that you simply can’t share with colleagues, at work. Like, playing the double bass in a symphony orchestra, snowmobiling, listening to true-crime podcasts, carpentry, water polo, backpacking in south east Asia (even if you are in fact in south east Asia). And some things can be common hobbies that could I guess be shared but aren’t really taught, like jigsaw puzzles or fine dining.

    3. Poison I.V. drip*

      I think I would suddenly develop a number of bizarre and possibly offensive hobbies: “My hobbies? I raise refrigerator mold and collect tasteful vintage pornography.”

  9. SAS*

    Oh noo OP1. A fine line between gumption and overstepping. And in some industries, there are a lot of regulations around job applications so to answer one of your questions, yes times have changed and it is sometimes inappropriate to contact a person directly in relation to a job application.

    I can’t tell from your letter if you’d already seen the job listing before the site went down but if they weren’t listed as the contact, it was also a pretty inappropriate move. In my experience, calling the hospital about the open traineeship would have been a better move, they may have transferred you to the pharmacy, but more likely would have transferred you to HR who could advise you on alternative ways to submit your application.

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Maybe so, but threatening to call the police was an extreme overreaction to an applicant asking for help because the website was down. I mean jeez!

      1. M2*

        Yea but most likely the person didn’t remember or know their personal # was on LinkedIn. A lot of time that stuff auto populates and you need to double check it. If someone messaged me on my personal # I wouldn’t react that way, but I would wonder where they got that number and block them.

        Also, in future check your browser and next time call the hospital or contact their HR department. A hiring manager can’t really fix an IT issue!

        1. ABCYaBYE*

          That said, the number WAS there. The LW reached out to the point of contact using a number that was easily accessible. While the hiring manager can’t fix an IT issue themselves, they are the applicant’s point of contact and probably have an easier time alerting IT to fix the issue… which I’m sure is an issue that they’d want to know about and have fixed ASAP.

          1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

            THIS! You posted your own number – you “not remembering” or “not realizing” is NOT an excuse for such a negative reaction. It’s entirely the hiring manager’s fault and it’s absolutely unhinged for her to react the way she did.

          2. GrooveBat*

            There’s no indication the hiring manager was LW’s “point of contact.” Based on the letter, it seems like LW was “interested in applying,” which tells me they had had no prior contact with the hiring manager and just contacted them out of the blue.

            1. TechWorker*

              There’s also no indication they were even the hiring manager vs ‘a manager in the right department’ that the LW found on LinkedIn.

        2. Lavender*

          If an applicant texted me on my personal phone about a job opening, I’d probably ask where they got my number before engaging further–mostly because I’d be worried that a colleague was giving out my number without my consent. If they said they got it on LinkedIn, I’d be concerned that my number was publicly listed but not upset with the applicant. They had no way of knowing that it wasn’t supposed to be on my profile.

        3. Observer*

          Yea but most likely the person didn’t remember or know their personal # was on LinkedIn.

          That still doesn’t mean that threatening to call the police is reasonable.

          Also, in future check your browser and next time call the hospital or contact their HR department. A hiring manager can’t really fix an IT issue!

          There is no reason to believe that this was simply a matter of their browser not working. Also, the OP said that they had tried to call the program and no one was answering. So, while the hiring manger can’t fix an IT problem, they CAN give someone useful information – and possibly affect how IT handles the problem. eg If IT is being lackadaisical (it happens) or has higher priories, but this could keep the training program from starting on time, alerting the Hiring manager that this is happening could mean that someone makes IT change their prioritization.

          Now, there is no way for anyone outside to know which way this could go. But when normal ways of contact are not available, it’s just not reasonable to come down this hard on someone who tries something different.

          1. GrooveBat*

            No, what OP actually said was, “The website was down for a few days and it was impossible to reach anyone.” It doesn’t say they tried to call. And I find it REALLY difficult to believe that a hospital switchboard doesn’t ever pick up the phone. It seems more likely that OP was trying to “reach” people solely online, which was why they turned to LinkedIn.

            1. Observer*

              No. It’s quite possible that the general number was not connecting the OP to the pharmacy training program or anyone who could help them. It happens, as weird as that seems.

        4. Ro*

          I don’t get why everyone thinks LW1 should contact various different departments in the hospital rather than the point of contact she was given “by the way the website is down- will the deadline be extended?” is a perfectly reasonable thing to say to the hiring manager who can then contact whoever needs to be contacted.

          The number was available on a business networking site as a work number. It is likely the manager didn’t realize this but… that’s not LW1s problem if the hiring manager cannot manage her own internet prescence.

          1. Me ... Just Me*

            I’m assuming that the job posting didn’t list the pharmacy director as the point of contact anywhere on there. That would be extremely abnormal. If they list anyone, it’s likely the HR person responsible for recruitment. The Director of the pharmacy may not even be the hiring manager; it’s just some random employee that the OP looked up on the company website and then searched for on Linked In and took it upon themselves to text.

            1. Ro*

              Really? This might be an industry thing (or a UK thing I’m not in the US), but every job I applied for has listed a hiring manager as a contact (usually with an email address), and the hiring manager is the person who would be the line manager for the new role. Calling HR randomly would be weirder as they would just look up the hiring manager and tell them.

              1. TechWorker*

                This is not how we hire, it’s all through a central recruiter/admin – they’re given the interviewers names if invited to interview but that’s it. I find it aggressively weird when interviewees find me and/or worse, add me on linked in.

          2. GrooveBat*

            It doesn’t say the pharmacy manager was the “point of contact.” Nor does it say the pharmacy manager was even the hiring manager. If it’s an online application system, I would imagine the applications go to a generic HR department, which was who OP should have contacted.

          3. SAS*

            I definitely did not assume the pharmacy manager was the point of contact for the hiring process, just that OP saw the position was within the pharmacy and when they googled the pharmacy, they determined who the manager was.

            My comment (as someone in a department that gets a lot of random callers about potential work) was that a call to a general line that will direct you to an appropriate person is looked at more favourably in my office than people who phone workers directly based on nebulous contacts (I get a call as a teapot designer from someone I’ve worked with previously who wants a job as a teapot builder; if they called our main line, they could have been directed straight to the teapot building manager).

  10. WoodswomanWrites*

    #2–I’m so sorry you were put on the spot unreasonably by an interviewer. No one should be a cheerleader looking for positivity in the pandemic. I think your response was impressive given the weird and unsettling question. Thank goodness that interviewer is an outlier compared to what hiring managers typically ask.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this.

      I know I’m very privileged, as well as pretty damn lucky to have got through the worst of the pandemic so lightly. I haven’t lost anyone I know to Covid, and nobody I’m close to has even been hospitalized, never mind needed care in ICU, and I thankfully don’t have to deal with any Covid-deniers or anti-vaxxers in my social circle or at work. I had it in October 2022 and got off lightly. I was out sick for 5 days, and while I didn’t particularly enjoy the month of moderate exhaustion afterwards, I’ve been sicker with tonsillitis.

      I’ve loved WFH, and while I’m happy to be back at the office occasionally (a few days a month), I work for a great organization and my manager trusts me to do my job with minimal supervision. I have lots of autonomy in deciding when and where I work as long as I get my job done. And there are systems in place for when we’re feeling overwhelmed by too much work.

      I’m happily married with a reasonably contented teenager who was able to go to in-person school for most of the pandemic, and even when he had to go to remote school, he’s a diligent student and managed well enough, even if he was a lot happier back at school in person.

      We’ll never be rich but we live a reasonably comfortable middle-class life with a 5-bedroom house, meaning that my husband and I can WFH in separate rooms on separate floors. When our son was in remote school, my husband and I could trust him to do his work in his room with minimal interruptions to our work, even if it took him a while to learn that he should ask his teacher rather than his parents for instructions when he didn’t know what to do next.

      I’m also fairly introverted, and while I missed my friends, not being able to see them in person didn’t affect my mental health in any significant way. If anything, I got a bit too comfortable with being almost completely shut in my immediate neighborhood for over a year. Going out into the world again took a lot more mental effort than staying at home ever did.

      Like I said, I recognize my privilege in this, most people have been nowhere near as fortunate. If someone asked me that question, I’d undoubtedly answer something like “I learned to count my blessings and recognize my privilege” but I still think it’s extremely tone deaf to ask.

    2. Antilles*

      I wonder if it was just a really poorly phrase/badly explained question. Effectively that the intent of the question is *supposed* to be something like:

      During the Covid-19 pandemic, we all had to adapt to different circumstances, often on short notice – working remotely, modifying our established processes, becoming more familiar with Teams and other similar technology, and so forth. And even now that things are much more normal, we’ve kept a lot of those beneficial changes, such as our current hybrid model which we never would have been able to do pre-pandemic. What positives did you learn from the pandemic that you’ve been able to keep as things returned to normal?

      But none of that context or detail was given, so it simply came across as an out of nowhere, terrible question of “what positives did you learn from the pandemic”.

      1. lemonade*

        I agree–I’ve been on both sides if interviews in the past few years and have asked similar questions. My team had to adapt and pivot like crazy and some of the changes were really beneficial even as pandemic restrictions eased. One interviewer told me they made few changes during the pandemic and now things were operating exactly as before. I took that as a missed opportunity and a big red flag about their rigidity and resistance to trying new things.

  11. Everdene*

    OP4, I wonder if it would be worth screening for people who excel in this kind of environment at the application stage?

    Personally I would really struggle in this environment. My brain only really kicks in to full capacity once there is the pressure of a deadline. Fake deadlines don’t work. Obviouly this would cause issues in a role like the ones you are describing and I would try my best but ultimately mess around for far too long and then cram everything in really hard at the end. Despite my consciousness, diligence and professionalism you would not want me on your team.

    (I spoke to my Dad about this a couple of years ago as I gave myself a goal to ‘be more organised’ and ‘not leave things till last minute’ which I was failing at. He told me he had gone through a similar process and realised that after 70 years that’s just how he was and no ‘system’ would change that. He knows, he tried them all. However, both of us are excellent in high pressure or fast moving environments where you need to laser in on the problem, cut out the noise and find a solution. My Mum and sibling find that environment incredibly stressful but would love your type of role where they plug away at a consistent rate.)

    1. Emmy Noether*

      I’m sort of like you. “Fake” deadlines, in the sense of deadlines that exist only in my mind, don’t work for me either. However, any outside deadline (such as my boss saying ” get it to me by…”) will work ok, even if I know it’s an arbitrary date.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Same here, and especially if it’s, “because Team B need to review it as well before it goes out”. I don’t mind putting myself under pressure to finish a whole heap of work before a big deadline, but I have the cold sweats at the thought of making someone else do it!

    2. londonedit*

      One of the stranger ‘oh, you work in publishing, let me ask you…’ conversations I’ve had was with a chap at a party who worked as a freelance illustrator. He wanted me to tell him why publishers ‘never gave him real deadlines’ because he couldn’t make himself do the work unless he knew he was up against the absolute final final date. ‘They always tell me it’s the 12th, but I know that’s not their real deadline, their deadline is the 20th, so why tell me the 12th if I know you don’t need it until a week later?’. Well…because the 20th might be *my* final deadline, but that means I need *your* work in plenty of time so I can check it, ask for revisions if necessary, run it past anyone in-house who might need to see it, and send it to Production in good time. If I tell you your deadline is the 12th, it’s the 12th! But he wasn’t having it and was convinced publishers ‘lie’ to freelancers about their ‘real deadlines’.

      1. Boof*

        Hmm, sounds a bit self-serving (or self sabotaging, really) “i can only work with a firm deadline” “also all deadlines are fake”

        1. londonedit*

          Exactly…I didn’t really know what else to tell him! He was acting like it was a big thing where publishers refuse to give out ‘genuine’ deadlines, but…mate, your deadline is not the final print date.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I work in communications. Some people really have a hard time understanding that deadlines do not equal goals. Or that many other people have to touch something after they do their part.

      2. hbc*

        Ugh, what a child. A lot of things like this don’t even have real, 100% cut-off deadlines anyway. As in, the book will probably still be published if you don’t get it out by the 20th, it’ll just miss the window for holiday sales or the 2022-23 school year or whatever.

        And that’s before you get to how many things have to go perfectly for the Just-In-Time illustrating to come in genuinely at the last possible minute. On a good day he can send his art to you at 1pm on the 20th, but if your building loses power or your elderly parent breaks a hip at 12:30, he’s sent it too late.

        1. londonedit*

          It’s kind of the opposite for us – missing a press date can have financial impacts if you miss your slot with the printer, and missing a publication date can have huge impacts on sales, budgets, the sort of publicity you’re able to generate, etc. We set the publication dates and it’s my job to spend a year or so corralling everything so that my books all go to press on time (barring total disaster like author illness or the manuscript turning out to be somehow terrible) – moving the pub date at the last minute is an absolute last resort. Our sales and publicity teams want first proofs on time, we need to have the cover image up on Amazon etc on time, and everything needs to go to the printer on time. I’m sure as heck not going to accommodate a freelancer who won’t stick to the deadlines I give them, if it means we risk delays to the production process.

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Sounds like a parallel issue we often get with baby lawyers (or, sadly, more experienced lawyers who won’t learn or don’t care). The deadline to file something in court or deliver something to opposing counsel might be Day N — but the deadline to get the thing to your assistant so that they can put the package together, make all the copies, and file or deliver it is more like Day N – 1.

    3. allathian*

      I’m like Scotty on Star Trek, I always pad my estimates for deadlines when I can influence them, simply because things get prioritized without my input and I have to reschedule at short notice. I’ve noted that our customers are always happy to receive stuff from me before the deadline.

      When I was younger, and even 5 years ago, I used to love the rush I got from completing stuff just before the deadline. Short deadlines are still the best way to get a lot of work out of me fast, but I’m certain the quality’s much better when I have a bit more time, and running on stress hormones isn’t sustainable in the long run. I learned that by getting to the brink of a burnout with overwork and short deadlines and continually shifting priorities. I don’t want to live like that anymore, so I’ve learned to pace myself better and eliminate much of the procrastination I used to engage in before.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, it definitely sounds like some people are going to do better in this environment than others. It would suit me perfectly (except I’d probably end up with nothing to do the last week or so of the six week deadline). My mind works, “well, there are 30 reports due in in six weeks, so that is five a week or one a day, but I don’t want to leave it to the last minute and besides, there’s always the possibility I could get sick or have other problems that delay me so I need to leave at least 2 or 3 days to cover that, so say 6 a week.” Then I’ll probably also try to make a start on a 7th when things are slow just because “I’ve some time to spare and no point in wasting it.”

      I do better with autonomy and loose deadlines. One of my friends at college who did far better in her Leaving Cert. than I did but found college way more difficult summed it up as she was more of a school type of person and I was more of a college type of person.

    5. Hall*

      Everdene, can I ask what kind of role(s) you and your dad have ended up in? My brain/motivation works similarly and I’ve really struggled to find work environments that support that.

      1. Anon for this*

        I’m this too, and I’m an information manager. If I don’t deal with requests in 20 days or a month, depending on the kind of request, my organisation will get fined. That’s pretty compelling.

  12. ClaireW*

    #2 Oof I would not appreciate being asked that – I was hospitalised and nearly died from Covid at the end of 2021, and am still dealing with the medical after effects of that.

    I would be tempted to say something like “It reminded me that I need to treasure my health and look after myself, and not prioritise work over other things” because at that point I’d have decided to not take the job anyway.

    1. misspiggy*

      For LW3, I’m surprised the employers didn’t think of the health and safety risks of asking amateurs to teach beginners new skills. The devil on my shoulder would tempt me to omit crucial advice for B*tch Eating Crackers colleagues, and then be all, oh, did that recipe go up in flames? What a shame you wasted all that money and got minor burns.

      Obviously I wouldn’t do that in reality. Definitely not. But if I were a manager I would worry about the effects of weaponised hobby advice, whether deliberate or accidental.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        This puts me in mind of a short story I once wrote for fun on a craft bulletin board, where a murder was committed with a scrapbooking tool…

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            A serial killer who’s just a really intense crafter but their craft of choice is figuring out the pros and cons of different common craft tools as murder weapons.

            There’s definitely something here.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I read a short story in high school where a man was strangled to death with a garotte and his wife claimed she slept through it. A couple of women stop by the house to pick up a change of clothes and such for the wife while she stayed at the station answering questions, including her knitting project–which was the murder weapon.

                1. Antigone Funn*

                  This reminds me a lot of a short story *I* read in high school with that same premise, although I didn’t recall the knitting part. It’s called “Trifles” or “A Jury of Her Peers.” It’s a great story; really stuck with me all these years.

                  There are Wikipedia articles about both versions, and it’s old enough that it should be public domain by now. But if you just want the end….

                  While the police are stomping around not finding anything that looks like a murder weapon or a motive, the women notice a bunch of little “trifles” that lead them to piece together the murder. They realize that the husband was abusive (including killing the wife’s pet bird), something the police don’t notice at all. The women discover both the means and motive, but in the end, they decide not to speak up because they know an all-male jury will sympathize with the husband.

      2. Bog Witch*

        I guess the employers forgot to account for the particularly unhinged cohort of hobbyists in their company.

      3. RagingADHD*

        I think the reason they didn’t consider health and safety risks is that if they had someone on staff who was so disturbed that they would actually harm their coworkers for their own amusement, it would have manifested already. Someone who is out to do harm isn’t going to wait for a rare and convoluted opportunity.

        And if people were going to waste a lot of money or get seriously hurt due to poor quality hobby instruction, YouTube already has that covered.

      4. MaryB*

        It is truly concerning to me that this thought would even cross your mind. Let’s not suggest weaponizing hobby advice (?!?!?) in an attempt to *injure* a coworker for the grievous sin of being mildly annoying.

      5. NeutralJanet*

        What kind of hobbies are you imagining that could realistically be weaponized? Like…with cooking, surely the worst case scenario is that the meal comes out bad and your colleague now just thinks you’re not a good cook? What would be the goal there?

    2. Luna*

      That question is so…
      Can you *imagine* the reaction to a response to that question like, “The positive thing about the pandemic is that someone who abused me caught Covid and died of it, so now I can be at peace to know they will never ruin my life or anyone else’s ever again.”?

      If you’re gonna open up with that type of question, you should be prepared to get some very, very uncomfortable responses.

    3. J*

      I’d definitely be sharing how I learned that when my brother-in-law got Covid at work, using the phrase “we have to adapt to the new normal” didn’t prevent him from dying in 2021. Sure, people came to his funeral but they had someone in his role in 10 days. His daughter certainly can’t replace him by opening up applications for a new dad.

      I’m so glad that you made it through the initial illness and I hope you have a good support system for this “after” you are facing. Like you, I learned a lot about my values and how my health will always be more important than work.

  13. Luna*

    LW1 – Overall, let it go. Maybe drop her a response message and apologize, but that this phone number was listed on LinkedIn as her work number. Maybe she doesn’t realize that she has that number listed in an easily-accessible place. But other than that, walk away.

    LW2 – Wow, what a question. If they wanted something work-related in regards to the beginning years of the pandemic, they should have worded the question better, like, ‘Have you learned anything about how you work best or realized something new about your job during the pandemic?’ Asking for just ‘something positive’, well… aside from not many people being able to put a positive spin on something like that, it could also lead to intrusive answers.
    Or people like me, who would give a passive-aggressive answer about how the pandemic ‘made my lack of success in getting employment have a good reason’. (Can’t exactly get a job when everything’s closed down, after all, right?) But that’s a risk they must be willing to take if they ask such a stupid question.

  14. Walk on the Left Side*

    LW2 — I am so, so sorry you you had to deal with that question. Kudos to you for coming up with a work-focused answer under pressure.

    I really wish interviewers would be more deliberate about identifying what skills they are looking for and finding work-specific questions to evaluate them. My possible takeaways as an interviewee being asked this question:
    1. They have no idea what they’re looking for and don’t train their interviewers, and I don’t want to work there.
    2. Their corporate/work environment is so toxic, they realize a new employee will not succeed unless they can find the positive in something as terrible as a literal global pandemic, and I don’t want to work there.

  15. Jasper*

    The correct answer to “tell me something positive about covid” is ‘fuck you, this interview is over.’

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      it’s so awful that there’s nothing that can undo my harsh judgement about this person and the org, quite frankly.

  16. SeeReeves*

    LW #5. In 2005, I started a new job. It was only my second professional job. It was the first time I wasn’t asked to complete a paper W4. Instead, it was completed for me based on questions I answered in the onboarding software. It was also the first time I was paid by direct deposit and didn’t get a paper pay stub to review. I was making substantially more and being paid bi weekly instead of monthly. I moved from a state with income tax to one without. Long story short, everything was different and I didn’t notice my employer wasn’t withholding federal income tax at all. I worked for 10 months that year. I discovered it when I got my W2. We owed more than $4,500. I ugly cried in HR when I went to figure out what happened. They determined I’d told their software I was a church and tax exempt. I have a hard time believing that. But. Who knows. Between February and April 15 we ate nothing by Campbells Chunky soup and two for a dollar Hungry Man frozen dinners (thank god for that sale) and we sold a car so we could pay those taxes.

    In July 2021, we moved to another state. But I kept my job (remote). When I moved I went overboard researching and telling HR about business nexus and unemployment pools. Old state, no income tax. New state, income tax. HR told me they had it. I got busy and didn’t look at my pay stub until September. No taxes. I emailed with HR every other week until December. Not resolved. Our CEO was on the emails at that point. In December, I emailed every other day. Not resolved. I was emailing with HR on Christmas Eve Eve saying if the back taxes were not paid by then that day, I was going to pay them myself on the state tax assessors website just to avoid penalties. I was literally getting ready to hit submit when they called to say they’d done it. Then I emailed every week for 2 months to ask (1) how much was paid and (2) would it all come out of my paycheck at once and (3) when. Finally the CEO emailed to say they weren’t going to make me pay for the taxes they’d paid and never took out of my check. Which is kind of them. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I think that’s considered compensation and should be taxed. Just moved back to the old state. Need to check to see if my pay stub reflects it.

    Anyway. Always check your pay stubs!

    1. Helen J*

      I think as employers try to move toward paperless and 100% online new hire forms, this will happen more. It happened to my sister and several of her coworkers last year and they are just now seeing how bad it was- owing thousands to the IRS. She unfortunately does not have a computer and has a pay as you go flip phone, so she didn’t really have a way to check her pay stubs.

      If electronic pay stubs are going to be the standard now, employers should make a computer available to employees to be able to check this info. I know it’s 2023, but some folks are still in tight financial situations and may not be able to afford computers or phones with internet. She was hit hard during the pandemic and is still not fully recovered financially.

      1. NotRealAnonforThis*

        Question for anyone who may have more information than I do (because this is NOT my field at all):

        When I was a teenager working retail at the local mall, mid-1990s, one of the jewelry kiosks got busted (By a letter acronym government agency of some nature, do not recall specifics. Dark suits and earpieces and a lot of hushed talk.) for requiring employees pay a dollar to get their checks. I’m assuming that they were busted because this broke some form of law about paychecks or payment for employment in my state.

        In the intervening years have we moved to the point where not providing a check stub, either a physical copy or an electronic copy that costs nothing to view is not a requirement?

        1. Antilles*

          I was curious, so I looked it up.
          There isn’t any federal law around pay stubs. It’s covered by state law in 41 of 50 states while the other 9 states (primarily in the South) have no requirement to provide pay stubs. Of the 41 states that do have requirements, the laws vary by state but there are two broad categories of how they require pay stub delivery:
          (a) The company make the pay stub available in any way they choose – i.e., electronic-only delivery is fine.
          (b) The company must provide paper copies of pay stubs – and if the company chooses an electronic delivery, they have to provide a means for employees to print out the electronic pay stubs.

          1. NotRealAnonforThis*

            With your start (thank you!!!!) I found where my state broadly falls under “a” but I’d have to imagine that in the 1990s it fell under “provide a paper stub”.

            I think the huge part was that they were, in essence, charging a fee for access to the paychecks. As in, they wouldn’t give out the paper check at all unless a dollar was handed over.

            1. lia*

              At my first job in the 90s, my pay check was a business-issued check and the “stub” was a handwritten index card with the hourly rate and witholdings broken down on it. I found that index card cleaning out a file cabinet a few months ago!

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

          I think it’s more likely that businesses are required to give a pay stub but they all are electronic now and people either don’t know how to access them or don’t bother to check. I can see someone who is new to the company not knowing where to find their check stub until they need their W2 and then by then its too late

          Even though it’s annoying I like that my company emails us the week our pay stubs are available. They have a Link to the website and directions to log into it.

        3. Observer*

          in the intervening years have we moved to the point where not providing a check stub, either a physical copy or an electronic copy that costs nothing to view is not a requirement?

          I don’t know about check stubs. But it is still absolutely illegal to require staff to pay any money to get their pay. I’m pretty sure that you are required to provide paper checks without charge if that’s what they ask for, without charge.

      2. Observer*

        I think as employers try to move toward paperless and 100% online new hire forms, this will happen more.

        Far from it. The most common source of errors is transcription – either someone’s handwriting is not clear (even with numbers) or someone made a typo.

        If the onboarding software is well done, what happened to SeeReeves should not have been possible.

        Having said that, you should never not look at your stubs for that long after any sort of change.

    2. Tax Mistakes Are The Worst*

      I had a similar experience, although the error was more on my end. Still, it was a genuine error because I am not a tax accountant and US taxes are wildly, unnecessarily over-complicated. I tried to fix everything as soon as I found out, but the IRS has been treating me like a war criminal for a couple years now, and I became a very good client to an accountant. Many thousands of dollars later over a much, much smaller mistake, here’s my advice:

      The IRS doesn’t answer their main phone numbers, and even if you somehow manage to get to someone by spending hours on hold and working through the phone tree, they will not help. Instead, find the number on their website for the Taxpayer’s Advocate. I think they’re still IRS employees, but it’s mysteriously different from calling the main numbers. Those people are absolute life savers. I’m still out way too much money, and I’ll be bitter about it for the rest of my life, but the Taxpayer’s Advocate people are genuinely helpful and kind.

    3. mreasy*

      This happened to me when an employer simply withheld less than they should have. I don’t know what happened or how, but I ended up owing over $4000 on quite a low salary and having to pay it off $100 a month for years. They were extremely unapologetic even though the error was 100% theirs.

      1. Jen*

        A company doesn’t inherently know how much to withhold for each employee. You need to give them that information by filling out a W4 form like OP5 describes. It’s very easy to fill that form out incorrectly, but if they employer uses the information you provide them, that’s not the employer’s fault.

    4. Phony Genius*

      Finally the CEO emailed to say they weren’t going to make me pay for the taxes they’d paid and never took out of my check. Which is kind of them. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I think that’s considered compensation and should be taxed.

      I think you’re right. You can be taxed on the “tax reimbursement.” What I’m not sure about is if they paid without withholding it from you, whether the IRS will accept the employer’s proof he paid it, or if they’ll still want the full amount from YOU. To clarify, what if an employer pays the tax that would have been withheld, and generates a W-2 that shows this tax was paid, but never took it out of the paycheck?

      1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        Employers can “gross up” a bonus or taxable reimbursement, which is when the employer pays the taxes on the employee’s behalf. But then that gross-up is itself taxable income, and the gross-up on the gross-up is taxable, etc. (until it gets to less than a dollar, I suppose).

    5. Jonaessa*

      I have been super nervous about my taxes since I started a new job in July of 2021, so I totally sympathize. I knew I would be good since I had half a year at a place that always deducted taxes, but after completing my W4, I noticed that the only taxes taken out were the additional $10 each check. (I have been doing that since I was sixteen just to avoid paying in.) Married, filing jointly. I wrote in two children under the age of 17. I guess when they changed the tax laws within the last few years, that meant the only taxes taken out were the $260 for the entire year in 2022. The child tax credit wasn’t as much this year, so when my husband and I were used to getting about $3-4K back, we are getting about $250. I have asked our payroll company three times if they are withholding enough, and they insist they are based on what my W4 says and what the law says. I went ahead and changed my W4 to indicate I had no children under 17, despite having two, and that has already upped the amount taken out. Based on those IRS calculators, though, I still need more. Anyone else having that problem?

      1. Jen*

        If you’re still getting a refund, it doesn’t sound like a problem. Is there a reason you’d rather wait to get that money at tax time then to get it in spread out throughout your regular paychecks?

  17. Cat Tree*

    LW4 I work with something similar. Each employee typically has 8-10 reports at a time with varying due dates but each due date is at least two months away.

    We developed standard work guidelines. For example, it should go out for first level reviews 3 weeks before the due date, second level reviews 2 weeks ahead, and in the system for electronic signatures 1 week ahead. These are guidelines and we as managers make it clear that everything is flexible except the final deadline.

    Because we have so many of these reports we have done process flow mapping and laid out a general overall guideline with more detail. For example, within 3 days they determine if this particular one needs to be escalated due to defined criteria, within two weeks determine the required data you’ll need, by 3 weeks request the data that has to come from someone else because that might take a while. It takes a lot of work to do a process a map so might not be worth it for you. But can you lay out the high level milestones and decide general guidelines?

    We have very independent workers so there’s not a huge amount of daily oversight, but we have a weekly short meeting (30 minutes max) where we go through the list of reports and ask about the status. The employees know that they can escalate things to management here. It’s fine to ask for someone else to step in because they were out sick and are falling behind. It’s fine to ask for expedited reviews occasionally and better to let us know ahead of time so we can expect it. They can ask for managers to follow up when they’re not getting what they need from a different department. It’s even Ok to sometimes say they just got too busy since we can easily see the workload. But it’s not Ok to just say that didn’t work on it yet during the times when they don’t have something else going on. Is this kind of check-in meeting something that could work for your team?

    Also, it really is Ok as a manager to just directly tell someone that the expectation is for them to be generally working to get ahead when they have downtime from other work. You really can just say that.

    1. MissMeghan*

      I love this. I feel like this is something that is all too frequently expected but not taught, explained, or systematized. When you work fairly independently it seems common to me that you’re just expected to know how to manage your desk independently. That absolutely did not come naturally to me, and about a year in to my first job I finally had a more experienced colleague send me an example of how she tracked her projects and built out her due dates, and it was like a flip switched in my brain!

      Adding standard processes or providing project tracking guidance isn’t micromanaging. It’s managing.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I’d call it mild.

      I think the better choice would have been to use Linked-In messaging, but calling a phone number listed on site designed for connecting people doesn’t seem like a horrible sin to me.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        If the message for the person you found on Linked In is “Hi! I can’t get hired through your company’s hiring system for some reason, so I’m going around it to come straight at you!” that is unlikely to be received well.

        Not never–someone, somewhere, is going to find this “I really needed a potential new trainee, and then one appeared before me! So we put her paperwork through HR on physical paper.” Life is a rich tapestry etc. But for most people, getting around the system so you could direct your appeal straight at them lands as boundary violating. (Also true if you drop out of the hatch in the top of the elevator to try to get a record company exec to listen to your demo.)

        1. ceiswyn*

          But OP#1 wasn’t trying to get around the system. The system flat out didn’t exist.

          It’s even possible that nobody involved in hiring knew that their application system was down, only that they weren’t getting applicants. In that case, OP#1 would actually have been doing them a favour by letting them know.

          1. Me ... Just Me*

            There are HR departments in every hospital. It’s not like this was some mom & pop, local store. Going to the hiring manager for a potential intern/trainee position is generally going to be received poorly. And, depending how the text was worded, it may have appeared a huge over-reach.

            1. ceiswyn*

              I agree that finding the hiring manager’s number on LinkedIn and texting it is rather forward, but the website being down would also make finding contact details for the HR department rather tricky.

              1. GrooveBat*

                No, it’s really not. You call the main number and ask for the “HR Department.” I promise they’ll know how to connect you.

                1. DJ Abbott*

                  If they’re like my former employer, they’ll keep you lost in a robot labyrinth until you give up in frustration. :p

          2. CheesePlease*

            Yes but the hiring manager wasn’t in charge of IT or online systems. Even when I’ve been a hiring manager, the process is to apply through the website. The most I could do is flag it for the IT team. But texting a number is very forward. An email or online message would be better received.

            1. ceiswyn*

              Assuming an online message through LinkedIn would be received at all. A lot of people don’t receive notifications, or check the site very often.

              I don’t think I would have gone as far as texting the hiring manager, but with the website down it was probably rather difficult to find details of anyone else to contact. And once a company’s external presence has been down for several days, I think it’s reasonable for potential applicants to wonder how long they’re going to be unable to apply, and whether there’s some kind of temporary workaround they could use.

              1. GrooveBat*

                Which is exactly why it was inappropriate to reach out to the hiring manager in the first place. LW hadn’t even interviewed yet.

                1. ceiswyn*

                  If the OP had interviewed they wouldn’t care whether the application system was down! By definition, they wouldn’t need to apply!

                2. Lavender*

                  I think it would have been inappropriate for OP to reach out to the hiring manager if they had already submitted an application and were just waiting to hear back. In that case, it would be safe to assume that the hiring manager had their contact info and would reach out if they wanted to proceed to an interview.

                  That’s not what OP was doing, though. In this case, they weren’t able to submit their application at all, so the hiring manager had no way of knowing they were even interested in the job. Pushing a hiring manager for an answer after you’ve already expressed interest is an overstep; writing to express your interest in the first place (if you can’t submit an application via the usual channels) is fine.

                3. chips and scraps*

                  If I was a hiring manager, I’d want to know that people couldn’t apply to the job I’d posted. It really doesn’t sound like LW was trying to circumvent the process or get a foot in the door by inappropriate means. She was trying to point out that the process wasn’t working and ask if there was an alternative way to submit an application. The applications that this person presumably wanted to receive, as they were trying to fill a role. I probably wouldn’t have texted this person myself, but truly, I don’t think LW did anything wildly wrong.

            1. Lavender*

              Yeah, that’s really the only part of this that gives me pause. If the website was down for OP, then it was probably down for all applicants. IME it’s pretty common for deadlines to be extended in cases like this, when the issue is on the employer’s end. That said, if the deadline to apply was coming up quickly, I don’t blame OP for reaching out (since there’s no guarantee they’d get extra time to apply once the issue was fixed).

        2. Lavender*

          It wasn’t about not being able to get hired, it was about not being able to apply (or access the website at all) in the first place. I think this was less about trying to get around the system and more about the system not functioning at all to begin with.

        3. Spencer Hastings*

          If my options are

          1) Check the website every night to see if it’s back up, and if it’s not, just shrug; or

          2) Send the contact person a message that says something like “Dear Jane, I’m trying to submit an application for the llama groomer position at XYZ, but the online system appears to have been down for the past four days. Since the posting says the deadline is this Thursday, I was wondering if that will be extended, or if there’s somewhere else I can send my materials. Thanks! -Mary Smith”

          …then I know which one I’d pick.

          (Also, a priori, I would think that using what was listed as someone’s work phone number was more professional than sliding into their DMs, but I don’t use LI that often)

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            This is exactly my mindset. If the website is down for days, all attempts to reach anyone listed on the website have also failed over days, I don’t think using someone’s work contact information to ask a simple question is anywhere close to way over the line. LW didn’t pay for a PI to track down the manager, they checked their public professional networking page and found a number listed as the manager’s work number. It’s called trying to solve the problem.

          2. GrooveBat*

            There is no indication that the pharmacy manager (I just re-read OP’s letter) WAS the “contact person.”

            It seems like OP poked around LinkedIn to find out who the pharmacy manager was and contacted that person.

    2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      On both people’s parts–the LW for going around clear processes to contact someone they had no prior experience with (regardless of whether it was a personal phone or not) and for the hiring manager for reacting like a paranoid idiot.

      1. ceiswyn*

        What ‘clear processes’ was the OP going around? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a company that has ‘clear processes’ of what an applicant should do if the application system isn’t working, the website is down, and they can’t get hold of anyone…

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          I’d recommend they call the public number for the company and ask to be connected with someone who can help them (IT, HR, etc.). I would not recommend go on an internet sleuthing mission to find the hiring manager to call/text about the issue.

    3. UrbanChic*

      My bet is the hiring manager didn’t remember she had put her mobile ## on linkedin. A pharmacist is generally not engaging with people over email or on her mobile phone (at least in the US), they work defined hours and use employer infrastructure while at work. Further, I cannot imagine they are spending time vetting applications for trainee positions. So given all of this, I can see how a text message from a candidate to a personal cell phone would be offputting for the hiring manager, although threatening to call the police is a little extra.

      So, in this case, I would recommend applying through normal channels, and if the website is down, to contact HR.

      I work in a desk job with flexible hours and there are occassionally people that reach out on linkedin message if they have applied for one of our posts – rarely it’s directly to my email, and since 2018 I have not received any phone calls. So I would recommend sticking to official channels, and ONLY if you have a contact in common, are applying for a job with a unique skill set that would be hard to find, reaching out to the hiring manager via linkedin message, but do not expect a response.

      Side note – several times pre 2018 I would get phone calls from candidates flagging their resumes, and a few times I got phone calls from THEIR PARENTS. I rarely responded to these calls, and never interviewed any of them.

  18. Naomi*

    #3: So this company’s idea of planning an employee appreciation event is to delegate employees to run one for each other? Gee, I wonder why they might feel unappreciated.

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah. Gotta wonder how anyone came up with this idea (too much time on their hands?).

      Pretty sure there’s no need for a special program or employer mandated activity should an employee take an interest in a hobby another employee participates in. That happens all on its own.

      Stay in yer lane, employer.

    2. Fledge Mulholland*

      I am stuggling with the same issue. We recently had a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast where parents brought in lots of tasty things for us to eat. All very nice. However, halfway through the day we got an email from administration saying it was our responsibility to clean up all of the food from our teachers’ lounge by the end of the day. Expecting us to clean up after a party that was supposed to be in our honor did not feel very appreicative.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Gross. I think that teachers have to clean their own break room is bad enough. At least I had to when I was teaching.

  19. Anony Moose*

    LW #1 – I can see them being annoyed, but not this level annoyed. They are the one that put their personal number out for the world to find. A more appropriate response, at least to me, would have been along the lines of “Hey LW1, not sure how you got this number, but it’s my personal line. Please contact [insert proper contact] for more information. As I like to keep my work and personal separate, I won’t be responding to any more messages or calls on this line. Thanks for your interest!”

    Probably best you found out this is how they respond to, at least in the grand scheme of things, a minor issue. It wouldn’t be better if they were your boss.

    I’d chalk it up to lesson learned and good luck on the job search!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Agreed with all of this. Minor misstep from OP, learn for the future. HUGE bullet dodged with the employer. Just a lot of good information to move forward with.

  20. Testerbert*

    LW3: one of my hobbies involves going to theme parks and riding rollercoasters. I can’t ‘teach’ someone my hobby without them going to theme parks and riding rollercoasters with me.
    I look forwards to the company allowing me to take several colleagues to theme parks and riding rollercoasters with them, during work time and with the company paying for the tickets and travel. It’d certainly make me feel appreciated.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      For #3 (teaching others your hobbies) another thing is, teaching is a skill and not everyone has it. I’m an expert crocheter, been doing it since I was 6 (am now 46).

      I taught a beginners’ crochet class at my local yarn shop and I’ve never been so nervous and out of my depth in my life. Stuff that comes naturally to me had to be broken down into its very basic basics, starting with how to hold yarn and a hook, how to make a slip knot, etc. Plus there were things like correcting mistakes without getting frustrated or impatient and encouraging them without sounding patronizing.

      Somehow, I pulled it off because everyone in the class gave me good reviews and the shop owner paid me for my time, but never again. I seriously don’t know how teachers do it every day after day.

      Ain’t no way I’m going through all that again, for free, with my coworkers, where the whole point of my free time is that I’m not with them!

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        Rats, this was supposed to be a separate comment. Maybe someone whose hobby is posting on AAM can teach me how not to goof up ;)

      2. Giant Kitty*

        Gosh, yes, these are all the reasons I have steadfastly refused to teach anyone to sew. I was a prodigy sewing on an adult machine at age 5, I still can’t teach someone else how to do it.

        I can sew *with* someone who already has basic skills and help them with tips, shortcuts, or whatever else they might need in the moment, or let them watch how I do it, but I really don’t have what it takes to be a good effective teacher.

        Around here there are plenty of places people can take an actual hobby sewing class, both at fabric stores (large chains and small storefronts) and community college adult education classes (very low cost) with professional teachers if someone really wants to learn.

  21. Chilipepper Attitude*

    For the “positive about COVID” question:
    Turn it back to them! I do this, after I answer, because it makes the interview more like a conversation. But in this case, I would not have answered but just asked him: “That’s an interesting question, what was positive about it for you?”

    We are also interviewing them right? And what a bad question!!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I like this. Particularly if you have a tone of genuine curiosity, it’s a good way to return the awkwardness to the sender while trying to come up with something to say. Their answer might also prompt you for the kind of answer they’re looking for. Personal resilience? Professional development? “Cats can indeed be trained with proper time and motivation”? I’d mirror the tone of their response as much as possible.

    2. Rosemary*

      My guess is the person who asks this question is someone who spent the pandemic making sourdough and reveling in the extra time spent at home with their kids.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Yeah I think you’re right. I am someone who only flourished during the pandemic for lots of reasons but I know better than to say it, well, ever. Except now, I guess. I’m extremely aware of just how terrible it would look to say, “man this has been a great 3.5 years!!!”

      2. Random Dice*

        I don’t know anyone with a job who ENJOYED the time home with their kids. Granted I mostly know people with young kids. A lot of memes quietly shared in the opposite direction.

        I remember a news article that interviewed a lot of retirees who were so damn SMUG about how much more “resilient” they were in the pandemic than these silly fragile young people with kids. I was so angry at how tone-deaf they were about their privilege.

        1. Jen*

          I enjoyed the time with my young kids (now 5 and 2.5)! But I think it takes having in-home care (either SAHP or nanny), adequate space to get away from the kids when you need to work, and a reasonable, understanding company.

  22. Jayne not Jane*

    #1- I do agree the hiring manager for this position over reacted. However, she likely has no control over the application system and likely could not provide any help in the moment. Most hospitals have large application systems, that are supported by IT, HR or outsourced to another company. But still threatening to call the police for a simple text message is quite alarming. You likely dodged a huge bullet by not applying.

  23. DJ Abbott*

    #5, I wouldn’t trust HR to do the review and calculations. If they screwed up, they might try to cover up.
    You should do the review yourself, or have your tax professional do it. If they screwed up in some other way, your tax professional might know if there is any legal recourse.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I agree with this – but HR should probably be doing their own review as well – if only to figure out how they made this sort of mistake and to prevent it going forward (for the purpose of covering their tush, legally speaking).

    2. whatchamacallit*

      This happened to me last year. While I accepted it was initially on me to check my paystubs (we were direct deposit, so obviously I didn’t get paper stubs which made it really easy to be out of sight out of mind, plus I could see in our online payroll where I had CORRECTLY filled out my withholding paperwork, so I was like well obviously it’s correct they have it all right here – SILLY ME) they continued to issue me paychecks without state taxes withheld. I had to bring it up for numerous pay periods afterwards. One time my boss told me “I’m sure they did, it’s just not visible on your pay stub.” which is assuredly not a thing. Turns out our compliance/payroll had failed to withhold correctly from everyone who lived in a different state than the one we worked in, which was at least half the staff, and somehow I was the only person that noticed. It sucked and at my next job I had to up my withholding a lot to make up for the weeks my previous employer failed to correct it. Anyway, trust no one until you see evidence yourself its happening.

      1. Observer*

        One time my boss told me “I’m sure they did, it’s just not visible on your pay stub.”


        Were they just stupid or a jerk?

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*


      HR should ideally be getting into contact with their own tax professional to get things fixed on their end. But I cannot overemphasize enough that HR people are usually not trained tax people. Heck, I’m a CPA and I wouldn’t be comfortable moving into tax without working for at least a year with a more skilled CPA.

      Filing my own basic W-2 and calculating withholdings? That I can do. Figure out how to fix and clean out a mess made by initial inaccurate withholdings? Nope nope nope, purely on the basis of not being familiar enough with the regs to know what could have gone wrong.

  24. Akcipitrokulo*

    LW1 – contacting a person via linkedin isn’t great – but foing it by messafe would be better.

    If you do need to do by text (though struggling to see when) – start out with “I hope it’s ok to use this number – **I got it on linkedin**.” (my emphasis).

    But in general… forgetting the personal number issue… tracking someone down and messaging them directly will very often immediately put you on the reject list. Don’t do it. Contact their switchboard or main office number and explain the *technical* issue – then ask if there is analternate way to apply.

    Don’t bother the hiring manager with what is basically an IT support ticket.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Oh, and yes, she overreacted. It sounds like the prrsonal number was an oversight.

      It also sounds like she may have had harassment via phone before.

    2. ceiswyn*

      I would probably struggle to remember how to find a main office number when I couldn’t get it off the website (because website down) :)

      1. GrooveBat*

        The hospital website isn’t the only place to find the main phone number. The LW was resourceful enough to hunt down the actual hiring manager, I’m sure they could have figured out how to Google “Port Charles General Hospital phone number” and gotten hundreds of hits.

  25. Akcipitrokulo*

    LW3 – might be ok if they pay you for your time as a work task!

    Like ” we’ll give everyone 2 hours a week to devote to this instead of normal work duties – these can be either teaching or learning – just agree a time and mark it in calendar as a meeting.”

    1. Lavender*

      I think this would be better than expecting them to do it for free, but it still wouldn’t be a very good reward or perk for a lot of people. Teaching a class (even on a topic you enjoy!) requires a fair amount of effort. For example, I love to sew and used to teach it as part of my job. It was more fun and interesting than some other jobs I’ve had, but it was still very much A Job and I wouldn’t have done it for free. It could be a nice distraction from work for those who choose not lead activities, but that doesn’t really seem fair to the people who put in the extra effort and still get paid the same rate.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        oh yes. This is also where the voluntary bit comes in :)

        No pressure, but if you want to take a couple of hours away from day job to demonstrate making miniature rubik’s cubes from seashells, go for it!

        1. Lavender*

          That makes sense, but I wouldn’t tie it to Employee Appreciation Month. I doubt very many people would want to lead activities, and an employee appreciation event should be something all or most employees would be likely to enjoy (and definitely not something that involves extra work on anyone’s part, even “fun” work).

  26. SimpleAutie*

    LW1- I feel like the comments are going to be unnecessarily harsh to you here, but you sound like you already know this wasn’t a great course of action.

    That said, it was also not great on her side and some people would appreciate the gumption! Next time, keep job related communications off of text, as I think that is likely part of why it felt weird to the hiring manager- text is still usually a personal and informal way of communicating, and rightly or wrongly job related communications are Formal.

    Best of luck in your job search!

    1. jane's nemesis*

      I honestly don’t think LW1 did anything wrong. LinkedIn is a legit way to contact people for business. She put her phone number there! LW had no way of knowing it was her personal number!

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        yeah… but contacting the hiring manager AT ALL for the technical issue in applying is not a smart move and smells of GUMPTION! ™.

  27. Hiring Mgr*

    Obviously contacting the mgr didn’t work out for this job, but if being contacted on a personal phone (that they provided!) is grounds for calling the police, I’d say bullet dodged.

  28. Fernie*

    #4, one thing you should NOT do, which seems to happen at my workplace often, is set a deadline for Task X, say the 15th of the month, and then at some earlier point, say the 4th of the month, start bugging your employee and asking, “Where is Task X? How is Task X coming along? Can I get a status on Task X?” You said the f*ing deadline for Task X is the f*ing 15th. If the deadline is the 4th, say that the deadline is the 4th! This drives me crazy, and makes me feel like I’m being unfairly scolded all the time.

    BTW, The cadence of work at your place sounds like a dream! I haven’t been able to work all in a burst right before the deadline like that since I was at University.

    1. metadata minion*

      I don’t know if I’m missing some sort of tone here in the text format, but to me it seems totally normal to check in on the status of a project well before the due date. That’s how things generally go where I work, and it gives me an extra chance to let my boss know about any questions or problems I’m encountering, and to give her a chance to go “Wait, you’re using llamas? No, we need *alpacas* for this one.” before it’s too late to change.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree. A deadline is typically when you want something finished (or drafted or whatever is accurate for that particular task). Progress checks are pretty normal.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        So, I think there’s checking in and then there’s checking in, you know? If someone just asks me, “Where are we with X?”, I definitely get the subtext “it should have been done by now.” But something more like “How is X going? Do you think we’re still on track to have it done by the 15th? Let me know if there’s anything we still need from the client.” — that seems like a normal and non-scolding way to check in.

        1. Riot Grrrl*

          I don’t know, the difference between “Where are we with X?” and “How is X going?” seems trivial to me. If someone has told me the deadline is the 15th and they ask me “Where are we with X?” I assume that what they want to know is… where are we with X. That seems like a question that can be answered without presuming any particular subtext about a change to the deadline.

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            Oh, I mostly just meant that asking for an update with no context comes off differently than one that refers explicitly to the previously established timeline. But it’s also true that “where are we with X” has a specific subtext, to my ear, that nearly-synonymous phrases don’t. This could just be the specific microculture of my current job.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Asking for Task X before the deadline would be annoying sure, but “how is Task X coming along?” and “what is the status on Task X” sound like very normal and reasonable check-ins to me?

    3. Me ... Just Me*

      I hate the “progress check ins”. I know what the due date is and have mentally decided when I’m going to work on the project based off the due date and other things I have going on. When people “check in”, I may not have even started it yet and then am forced to lie, in order to assuage some of their angst about things, because telling them that I haven’t started it, isn’t the answer they’re looking for and will only invite more check-ins. Just let me be the professional I am and deliver the result by the assigned date.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        Rather than fully lie, can you hedge and say something more like “my schedule hasn’t allowed me to start your project yet” (even if that’s not really true) and reassure them in the same breath that you are still on track to finish by their due date?

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          I wouldn’t trust that their “checking in” behavior wouldn’t escalate. Of course, I work at a fairly high level and am established in my career. Usually, it’s people who don’t know me well or are new to their positions that try for this “checking in” tactic. I just find it tedious. I don’t want to give you a run down of what’s been accomplished so you can try to offer advice. Just trust that it will be done on time.

          1. NeutralJanet*

            I get that that might be irritating from your perspective, being as you know that you’ll get it done on time, but can’t you see why someone who hasn’t worked with you before might not be willing to “just trust that it will be done on time”? If they don’t know you well, then they don’t know if you’re going to meet deadlines independently or not–I’m sure we’ve all had experiences (maybe particularly with high level people) where that hasn’t been the case.

      2. Colette*

        In a reasonable environment, you should be able to say “I’ve got it scheduled for the 17 & 18th” – which makes it clear you have planned to do it and gives the person you’re talking to a chance to say “oh, it usually takes 5 days, that won’t be enough time.”

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*


          Or that it is enough time, and they can check off that they talked to you about it. Deadlines with long lead times sometimes get lost for various, perfectly professional (or simply human) reasons. Part of project management is staying on top of those things and making sure deadlines will be hit.

          This seems like a perfectly normal thing for a manager to do.

          1. Me ... Just Me*

            My boss isn’t a project manager (nor do we have those roles in our organization). My boss doesn’t ask for project updates; usually this kind of thing comes from an ancillary department of some sort who is partially invested in the outcome in order to check their “done” box but who isn’t responsible for any real outputs (who, I think, just maybe has too much time on their hands?)

    4. RagingADHD*

      I don’t mind those so much *as long as Task X is actually in my court.*

      What grinds my gears is when Task X is actually made up of sub-tasks A (mine), B (someone else’s), and C (mine again). I do my part A, send it on to the person doing part B, write up detailed notes for the project manager and the part B person telling them exactly what needs to happen next, and approximately how long it will take me to complete part C once I get it back.

      And then the PM pings me once a week (or more) asking about the status of Task X. The status is “read your freaking notes,” that’s what the status is. Just like last week. And next week. And every week until the Part B person gets off their butt and does their part. So maybe ping them instead?

      Managing person B is not my job. In fact, the Part A & C people have been explicitly told not to. It’s the PM’s job.

  29. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP2: I honestly don’t think I could say anything if asked that question. My mind would be screaming. There’s a significant probability I may shed tears because those years nearly killed me.

    It’s like asking survivors of a disaster what they learnt from it. It’s just gross.

  30. Jayne not Jane*

    #5 – most government agencies will allow you to do a payment plan. When my husband and I were first married we lived in a city with high taxes. For some reason the company I worked for didn’t calculate the city taxes right and I ended up owing quite a bit to the city. It was much more than 2 young 20 somethings could afford out of pocket. They let me pay $100 a month until I was caught up. Good Luck!

  31. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, that sounds to me like a really good response. It makes it sound like you learnt something from the pandemic that will improve your work going forward – by choosing areas in which you excel and are happy – and I would guess that’s the sort of thing they wanted to hear.

    I kinda see what that interviewer was trying to get at. I assume they wanted to probe whether you were somebody who could adapt to all kinds of circumstances, but…it is a really insensitive and tone-deaf way of doing it as so many people will have been seriously ill or have lost loved ones or experienced mental health issues and expecting somebody who has maybe had one parent die and the other seriously ill to say “oh, but I didn’t have to commute so I had an extra hour to myself each day” is…pretty thoughtless.

    And I’m not even sure it’s that helpful a question. People had such differing experiences that it would be a lot easier for somebody who maybe caught coronavirus but was completely asymptomatic, had no or few relatives at high risk and who worked in a role where they neither had to put themselves at risk by continuing to go to work at the height of the pandemic or face the risk of layoffs to find positives than it would be for somebody who say worked in healthcare and was dealing with patients who were severely ill or for somebody who is at high risk. The response to that question might be saying less about how adaptable the person is and more just how lucky they were.

    LW4, maybe instead of seeing them as “fake deadlines,” think of them as how much of the work has to be done by that point in order to ensure the work is completed in time. When I correct the state exams, we have deadlines every 4-6 days for another 100 papers to be done. I don’t think those deadlines particularly matter and since I am somebody who finds it easy to manage my time, a lot of the time, my advising examiner just tells me to contact her when I have the next 100 done, but well, they are probably partly so that the advising examiners can monitor our grading and make their own schedule and also ensure we can be told about any errors we are making and will have time to correct them, but I think it is also to ensure people are on track and aren’t rushing the correcting of 400 papers in a week and making mistakes.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Oh, I meant to add that the fact they asked this question gives you some information about the employer and their values and attitudes. I suspect it could be a yellow flag that toxic positivity may be a feature of this workplace.

  32. Omskivar*

    OP5: I’m in the same boat. Got my W2 from my previous employer and realized they hadn’t withheld ANY federal income tax, so now we owe $3,700. Unfortunately there’s not really anything we can do about it, except double check the withholding on our W4s to make sure it’s actually correct for next year. I’m sorry you’re also going through this!

  33. It's Sara not Sarah*

    Most people never check their paystubs for accuracy, especially now that you probably need to log on to some website to even look at it. It’s a good idea to check when you start a job and then to check every time you notice your net check has changed.

    1. Loux*

      Right – check your pay stubs, people!! At least once every so often. Payroll departments *should* get it right, but they are staffed by humans and humans make errors. For that matter, sometimes payroll systems themselves make errors – they aren’t all perfect. It stresses me out when my friends say they have never checked their pay stubs – how do you know you’re getting paid correctly?

  34. taxes*

    LW5: Always check your paychecks. You can also use the IRS’s tax withholding calculator (just google it) once or twice a year to check if you are on track for withholding enough.

    And if you don’t have the money available to pay a “couple thousand” unexpected bill? Then your emergency fund is lacking and you need to take a hard look at your finances and start living below your means.

    1. Lurky Lurker*

      I would urge you to not comment on others’ finances without knowing the whole story. Many people would love to have a couple thousand for emergency funds, but they run into medical bills, student or other debt, etc. I bet they are aware that they need to have the fund, but may not have the means to do so yet. My partner was in this situation–was working paycheck to paycheck while paying down credit card debt, trying her best. She wished she would have an emergency fund.

      1. Lyudie*

        Exactly. If LW5 is just starting out, they won’t have been able to build up that savings yet. We have no idea whether they are living beyond their means or not.

      2. Cat Tree*

        Right?! The majority of people do not have an emergency fund and are living paycheck to paycheck. Having an emergency fund would be great, but it’s not feasible for most people.

    2. metadata minion*

      “Living below their means” for some people would mean not eating, or giving up one of their household utilities (and I don’t mean the cable bill here; I mean figuring out whether they can live without electricity or heat).

      1. Critical Rolls*

        There was an absolutely heartbreaking piece in the NYT recently about pay-ahead electric meters in the UK. People who have never been poor, and have never made a study of the conditions of poverty, and poverty is so foreign to their experience that they default to thinking everyone has enough to live on, really need to keep their mouths shut about what people “should” be doing with their money.

      2. Cookie*

        I’m currently wearing a down jacket and gloves indoors while I WFH because paying for comfortable heat would mean burning through my little emergency fund, and because my car is about to expire and I’m holding on until used car prices put one within my reach again (I live where public transit is grossly inadequate).

        Go ahead, @taxes, explain to me about living below my means. It reminds me of Sam Kinison’s standup routine where he “jokingly” opined that “there wouldn’t be world hunger if you people would live where the food is!”

    3. NeedRain47*

      Absolute worst comment ever. Poor people exist. You can’t budget your way out of not enough money to meet your needs. Gross.

      1. Lyudie*

        It reminds me of someone I used to work with who was horrified I did not have health insurance at 24. My rent was nearly half my paycheck. I had student loans. My job did not offer any health insurance, not even discounts, and this was well before ACA. Health insurance was a luxury at that time.

    4. Corrigan*

      What an insensitive response! It’s well known that wages aren’t keeping up with inflation. There are so so many people that don’t have this kind of money laying around.

    5. Eldritch Office Worker*


      What if LW just had an emergency that drained their funds? What if LW – like many people in the US – is living more or less paycheck to paycheck? What if this is their first job and they haven’t had time to build a reserve? What if they simply would rather spend their money on things for comfort and convenience that are absolutely none of your business?

      This comment is presumptuous and rude. Don’t do this.

    6. CheesePlease*

      I get where you’re coming from. If the money had been properly withheld, and OP was still able to make rent, pay bills etc. then *in theory* they would have that money available to them in savings. And *ideally* people have 3-6 months of expenses saves in an emergency fund. But a vast majority of people with jobs don’t even have $500 available for emergencies. It’s the reality of so many coworkers, managers etc. This isn’t a place to give financial planning advice unless it was requested.

      1. Observer*

        Maybe. And maybe it would have been a matter of going without important things that are not *absolutely* life threatening. Like skipping routine car maintenance, getting a new winter coat when your old one is worn, etc.

        I don’t know, and neither does this commenter. But this kind of issue is common enough that just acting as though it’s not even a reasonable thought to entertain is pretty out of line.

    7. jane's nemesis*

      wtf? This comment is unkind. It’s not cool that you’re implying that with people who don’t have an emergency fund are not living below their means – plenty of people are living below their means and STILL don’t have any extra money. Because of, you know, emergencies like suddenly owing thousands of dollars to the IRS because they trusted their employer to do their taxes right, for example.

    8. Seahorse*

      I had a nice little emergency fund. When an emergency hit, I had money available to pay a couple thousand dollars to sort things out. Then another emergency hit a few months later, totally unforeseen, and scraping together the second couple thousand dollars took some shuffling. Then a third emergency arose a couple months months after that. None of them could wait, and there was nothing that I could have magically prevented.

      Since then, I’ve managed to put away a few hundred dollars, but I absolutely could not swing another “couple thousand” and still pay my necessary bills. But sure, blame me for buying avocado toast and too many lattes.

    9. whatchamacallit*

      You don’t know this person’s situation. Maybe they had an emergency fund and just used it on an emergency. Maybe they were unemployed during COVID. And this happened to me last year, and I did have the savings to cover it, but that didn’t make it pleasant. No one is BORN with an emergency fund and you start from zero somewhere and hopefully you’re lucky enough nothing happens before you reach a nice cushion.

    10. Annonn*

      Living below my means would literally mean not putting gas in my tank to get to work, or putting food on my table. This is not good advice, especially while we are in a cost of living crisis.

      1. Jen*

        But it turns out that OP5 was living beyond their means because they were spending money that they needed for taxes.

    11. Observer*

      And if you don’t have the money available to pay a “couple thousand” unexpected bill? Then your emergency fund is lacking and you need to take a hard look at your finances and start living below your means.

      Firstly, that’s really irrelevant. No one should have to empty (or even seriously deplete) their emergency account because HR / Payroll messed up. Emergency accounts should be for EMERGENCIES, not accommodating sloppiness.

      Also, how do you know that the OP ABLE to live below their pay? Some jobs don’t pay that well. And some people have genuine expenses that they simply can’t realistically cut. Or maybe the OP’s emergency fund was depleted by an actual emergency. You’re making a huge judgemental leap. And not only is it ugly, it’s unhelpful in the extreme.

    12. Starbuck*

      “And if you don’t have the money available to pay a “couple thousand” unexpected bill? Then your emergency fund is lacking and you need to take a hard look at your finances and start living below your means.”

      You’re funny! I mean, no shit, but “live below your means” is hilarious advice for those of us who’ve already seen the cost for basics like food, rent, healthcare, etc. skyrocket the past couple years while wages haven’t. You seem pretty out of touch.

  35. MicroManagered*

    LW1 I can kinda understand the hiring manager’s reaction. It would freak. me. out. if an applicant texted my personal cell about a position–especially if I didn’t know how they got my cell phone number. But in that case, a quick “I’m so sorry — this number is listed as your contact on LinkedIn” should suffice as a response. I do think she overreacted by telling you you won’t get hired anywhere, etc. but I can understand how she may have felt upset or even threatened in the moment, especially if she doesn’t know or forgot she listed her cell phone number on LinkedIn.

    Next time, if there’s an issue with the application website, I would recommend you wait and try again the next day. If it’s a technical issue with the website itself, the hiring manager probably can’t fix that anyway, so if the issue persists it would’ve made more sense to contact a general number or sometimes there will be a contact for IT support on the site itself. If you can’t get that information, sending a message through LinkedIn would’ve been the more professional way to contact her directly to let her know the application site is down–not a text.

    Chalk it up as a lesson learned (and maybe a bullet dodged, given her reaction!). Better luck next time!

    1. MicroManagered*

      PS: When I said she may have felt “upset or even threatened” I did not mean that what you DID was threatening. It wasn’t. I was thinking like if she had history with some kind of unwanted harassment or something–randos contacting her might trigger that. (It does for me because I have been stalked in the past.)

      So that sentence was meant to say: What you did was a little strange, but the strong reaction from her may be related to something else that has nothing to do with you.

    2. MicroManagered*

      PS: I realized my first paragraph was a little unclear and makes it sound like I think you DID something threatening to her — I do not think that. I think her overreaction may mean there’s some other reason your text freaked her out, beyond the minor misstep of texting her.

  36. Lurky Lurker*

    I would urge you to not comment on others’ finances without knowing the whole story. Many people would love to have a couple thousand for emergency funds, but they run into medical bills, student or other debt, etc. I bet they are aware that they need to have the fund, but may not have the means to do so yet. My partner was in this situation–was working paycheck to paycheck while paying down credit card debt, trying her best. She wished she would have an emergency fund.

    1. MicroManagered*

      Well and assuming you meant OP5–the additional $70 tax withholding might BE the emergency fund. If OP owes $1000, but wanted an extra $70 withheld each week, that’s more than $1000. Some people really do do this as a way to get a little windfall of cash each year in the form of a tax refund.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I think they were responding to “taxes”, whose comment was on “February 14, 2023 at 8:37 am”. Search on taxes* to find it.

  37. ABCYaBYE*

    OP1 – I’m trying to think about how I would react if you texted me about a job. Nothing I can come up with in that scenario would make me jump to “I’m going to call the police.” I might inquire as to how you got that number and then direct you to the appropriate place to contact me (or whomever you’re to contact). The system was down… you were trying to get in contact with someone. They might not have known the system was down, so your message might be a nice nudge to let them know the system is down. They made the mistake of putting their phone number on LinkedIn. Using tools at your fingertips, you made contact. Maybe it isn’t the way they’d have preferred, but you didn’t do anything wrong. This is, in my mind, another in a long line of examples of someone’s reaction being a reflection of them, not a reflection of you.

  38. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP4: there is nothing wrong with ‘fake’ deadlines. The Agile methodology uses them all the time.

    You have X units of work to accomplish in Y weeks. So every week, you need to get X/Y things done. So just schedule that number of reports, contracts, etc. to be done during that week.

    Week 1: write the wills and trusts for the Warblesworth and Smith families.
    Week 2: finish the boilerplate contracts for Llamas Unlimited, Universal Teapots, and Alpacas R Us.

    This ensures that people aren’t alternating between crazy hours and goofing off. If somebody runs into an issue that needs outside assistance or clarification, the schedule is going to have some flexibility to deal with that roadblock. It also means that if deliverable schedules change or somebody leaves the company, you aren’t caught in a pinch trying to catch up. And it demonstrates to the rest of the company that your employees are reliable.

  39. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Posting your own phone number on a public social media platform and then threatening to call the police on someone for using it is a new level of WTF. This person is not normal psychologically, and if I were the LW I would at least think about reporting them to their boss, HR, whatever the options might be.

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

      I see your point but I think that it would make the problem worse. I can see maybe not applying (do you really want to to work for this person op).

      The only way I would say to contact the company HR is if this person retaliates. Like if she black lists the OP or starts to spread rumors to other people in the area/ in the industry.

  40. Czhorat*

    Yeah. OP was wrong to use the number on LinkedIn, but nowhere near the level of wrong that makes “escalate to law enforcement” at all a reasonable response.

    Should OP use LinkedIn to find a phone number in the future if the website or email seem down for a time? No. Should they expect a SWAT team to show up if they DO give into temptation and do this again? Absolutely not.

  41. NeedRain47*

    LW#3…. commiserations from a place where similar things go on. This year for our annual staff development day, among other things we’re being voluntold to bring in food or donate money to local food pantry. Not only does that not develop me in any way, half the people that work here don’t make a living wage and are more likely to need to use the food pantry, not donate to it. All of us got raises that were way below cost of living. It’s absolutely appalling.

  42. BellyButton*

    I am of the mindset that people can manage their own time and projects. If the work is done, doesn’t look rushed, and is of high quality I don’t really care when in the time frame it is being done. As long as their lack of progress isn’t holding someone else up, as long as I am not waiting for them to finish it so I can assign them something else- meh, I just don’t care.

    Maybe it is because I am a procrastinator and work well under tight deadlines and pressure. As was discussed in yesterday’s Mouse Jiggler comments – I am paying for their work. If the work is good and isn’t holding anything else up *shrugs*

    1. I should really pick a name*

      It sounds like it IS holding things up.

      Unfortunately, doing six weeks of work in one doesn’t really work for our workflows and review structure

    2. Samwise*

      The problem is when someone else’s procrastination/need for looming deadlines affects other people’s work and, as OP notes, the overall work flow.

  43. Czhorat*

    Nearly seven million people worldwide died of the Covid pandemic. It’s entirely possible that some of the people being asked this question will have lost friends or loved ones.

    There is nothing good to say about people who ask things like this.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Seriously! I can’t comprehend the level of obtuseness and insensitivity it would take to ask someone this question in any context, much less in a work context. It’s appalling. I would get up, tell them how inappropriate they were being, and walk out.

      1. Enai*

        In my morbid imagination, I’d answer something along the lines of “Oh, I’m a huge fan of zombie apocalypse media, so it’s very exciting to live through a period of mass death ^_^ It’s as close as reality is going to get ^_^” complete with delighted grin, but that probably won’t land as well as I’d like…

        (Please note, I am not happy at all with the current state of affairs re:Covid. Cynicism is my last refuge before losing what remains of my sanity.)

  44. One HR Opinion*

    LW 5 – you could also see if your company has any program where they could loan you the money and you could pay them back interest free as there is culpability on both you and the company.

    LW 4 – keep in mind a couple things – 1. setting deadlines isn’t micromanagement and 2. there are some people who really do need micromanagement. My former employee needed me to be on top of her work and micromanage things which was hard for me because I hate that management style, but it was the only one that was successful for her. My new employee needs general guidance and just comes to me with occasional questions. We need to try to manage staff the way THEY need to be managed. Good luck!

  45. Cruciatus*

    I’m asking because I’m truly curious and not trying to nitpick–has the convention changed for writing out COVID? I know I’m still writing it in all caps but seeing it here as Covid and in many of the comments as well made me wonder if that was something that has changed.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think COVID is still technically correct, COVID-19 would be more correct, but as it becomes used more colloquially and casually people just write it like they would any other word. I often do covid all lower case when I’m just writing casually. For me it’s a caps-are-jarring kind of thing, but it’s personal preference. I don’t think any are technically wrong.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Correction, the lower case examples are probably *technically* wrong like from a style-guide perspective. But everyone will know what you’re going for.

      2. Lavender*

        All-caps reads like “yelling” to me, so I don’t always type it that way. My PhD dissertation has to do with covid and I’ll type out the full all-caps “COVID-19” for anything related to that, but otherwise I assume people will know what I mean if I say covid or Covid.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I don’t think anything has changed–I have seen it written as Covid plenty of times since 2020.

    3. Not my usual name*

      I’ve written on the topic “as it relates to teapots” for various outlets, the editors correct it to their house style.

      Here in the UK, the Guardian Style Guide, which I follow, uses Covid-19. As does the BBC. The NHS uses all caps. I prefer Covid for readability, even though it’s technically incorrect.

  46. H3llifIknow*

    One of the many reasons (aside from the fact that LinkedIn is a HUGE data miner/storehouse) that I would never put my phone number or my daily use email on there. They’ve been known to troll thru all the contacts on your phone/gmail account and send them contact requests, etc.. (Now supposedly you have to expressly allow this, but I know for a fact they did it to me w/o my permission. I figured it out when the lady from Merry Maids that I had corresponded with ONCE to set up a walk through, showed up in my list).

  47. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

    LW1: Thank your lucky stars / the deity of your choice that you found out how that pharmacy manager reacts to someone making an innocent error because of HER OWN MISTAKE; she yells, makes dire predictions of your eternal unemployment and then threatens to call the police (WTH?!).

    If you’d gotten that position, you’d have spent your days being blamed for HER mistakes AND screamed at and threatened with arrest for YOUR innocent mistakes. Fortunately, you found out what she’s like BEFORE you committed to spending one single second under the professional thumb of a loon who’d qualify for AAM’s Worst Manager of the Year award!

    1. Willow Pillow*

      So much this. Regardless of the amount of gumption LW used, or whether they should have messaged on Linkedin/called/continued to wait, the hiring manager threatening to call the police over using a contact method she made public is a huge red flag.

    2. Kitry*

      … she was probably scared. Healthcare workers (and yes, that includes people in pharmacy) have always been subjected to workplace violence and harassment at rates much higher than most people realize. Over the past 3 years the problem has gotten exponentially worse. I used to give my cellphone number out to patients. But these days I would be completely freaked out if anyone contacted me on my personal cell about my job. It’s a different world out there now.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, I have several friends who are nurses and pharmacists. They all have some terrifying stories about threats they’ve experienced in the last few years. I think people are discounting a little how the health field has shifted and how wary people are.

    3. Shan*


      My ex-husband and I were in the same industry, and I always remember him trying to set up an interview with someone. Her email about available times was very poorly written – tonnes of typos, and hard to determine what dates she was saying were available and which ones weren’t. My ex responded with what he thought she’d said was an available spot. Her reply was the most aggressive, condescending snot – telling him he’d never succeed in that industry if he couldn’t pay attention to detail, etc. He felt like absolute crap over it, but I told him he’d lucked out! In the many years since then I’ve learned that people consider her a nasty, difficult person to work with – no doubt.

  48. H3llifIknow*

    For the scheduling/deadline challenged. That is ME! I was the one at midnight on Sunday doing the 20 page paper due Monday that I had put off. So, I’ve learned to create those “fake-ish” schedules or maybe more accurately, milestones. So, X date: Complete research, Y date: Draft Outline, Z date: Rough draft 1: A date: Peer Review, and so on…. it works for me to have something pop up on my calendar to say X is due tomorrow at 3pm.

  49. Katara's side braids*

    LW1: I don’t think this should be an expectation (it’s probably more a manifestation of my own anxiety about someone reacting like that manager did), but one thing I do when contacting someone I’ve never met before is tell them where I got their contact info – Linkedin, their company website, an event we both attended, a mutual contact, etc.

    Ideally she would have remembered that she put that number on her public Linkedin, but it’s easy to lose track. It’s still on her to react appropriately rather than jumping down your throat, obviously.

    1. Lavender*

      That’s what I do too. “Hi, this is Lavender LastName. I got your number from LinkedIn, but please let me know if there’s a better way to contact you.”

      The hiring manager was way out of line regardless! But I’ve found that being up-front about where I got someone’s contact info helps avoid the initial “Wait, who are you and how did you get my number?!” moment.

      1. SAS*

        Yes, after the recent letter about the graduate sending casual texts to a professional contact about an internship, I have some doubts about how comprehensive the initial contact was.

  50. Volunteers wanted*

    OP3 I would be inviting people over to learn how to bathe very stubborn English Bulldogs who do not like their baths and weigh over 50 lbs. Trust me I can use the help.

    1. TomatoSoup*

      Do said bulldogs get post-bath zoomies? If so, then I’m in. I used to have a pug and she hated baths but her post-bath zoomies were epic.

  51. BellyButton*

    I am appalled that a potential employer would ask any questions about what you did or how you handled the lockdown phases of covid. How may people died?? 8 million? Almost everyone knows someone who died, it was pure hell for so many people- working, kids at home, or not working and not being able to pay bills or eat, people’s mental health suffered. It wasn’t easy, even for those who “had it good”.

    ’20 and ’21 are a complete blur of stress, anxiety, and depression for me. I didn’t have kids at home, my job did not change at all, and it was still awful. I can’t even remember anything in particular- because NOTHING was happening.

    If you, or your company asks this question, please stop.

    1. NeedRain47*

      Seems like a pretty good red flag, I’d assume it means they treated employees badly during covid and/or have a culture of toxic positivity.

  52. Queen Ruby*

    LW5: I worked in South Jersey, and during my time there, moved to CC Philly. My employer didn’t deduct the Philly wage tax, which I think was 4.25% at the time. I had to take out a personal loan to cover the amount, which I think was around $3500. HR was very apologetic and made sure everything was fixed, but yeah, it sucked big time.

    1. BellyButton*

      Same thing happened to me. I moved from a state with no state taxes to a state with taxes and HR never processed my W4. Thankfully, it was only for 2 months and it was a huge amount.

  53. Observer*

    #5 – incorrect pay

    Why did you have to email HR? There is no real likelyhood that your pay stub is wrong.

    Which is why although this is exasperating, you don’t really have any recourse. You SHOULD have been checking your pay stub. Don’t get me wrong – they SHOULD also have been taking out the amount that you asked them to take out! But when you are asking for something that is out of the norm *and* not probably a legal requirement (unlike something like getting your number of dependents right), it’s really on you to check to make sure that stuff got processed right.

    1. Lavender*

      My understanding is that they wanted to figure out where they (or HR) went wrong, so they can correct the mistake going forward. I don’t think they can reasonably expect HR to refund the money or anything, but I do think it’s reasonable to say, “Hey, what happened here?”

    2. CocoB*

      Extra withholding is a line on the W4. Employer has the same obligation to enter that correctly as it does # of dependents claimed. However, the employee does have a responsibility to review their check stubs and speak up if something is incorrect.

      Yes, HR/Payroll should do their own review… was it an oversight, one employee’s data entry error, software problem, etc. But, no, they are not responsible to financially compensate an employee. A profuse apology and correction of withholding for future is the best one can hope for.

    3. GrooveBat*

      You know, I have to be honest…I never look at my pay stubs. I probably should. But, in fairness to OP, it’s really, really hard to keep track of all the pre-tax and post-tax deductions and also try to reconcile back to how your withholdings impact your actual pay. You don’t tell your employer to withhold a specific dollar amount; you just claim however many exemptions you claim.

      1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        I’ve had some employers/payroll companies at least echo on the pay stub what entries they keyed in. So at least you can see whoever data-entry’d the form did it right.

    4. Jen*

      Yeah, it doesn’t bode well for the OP that they had to email HR to ask for paystubs after the year was over, rather than at least asking how to access the paystubs for themselves.

  54. Observer*

    #1 – used a personal cell number by mistake

    Did you explain how you got the number? If not, although it’s a bit of an aver-reaction, I really do understand her initial response. It’s not ok to contact people on their personal numbers for work.

    On the other hand, if you said that you got her number from LinkedIn, you would still have been better off messaging her via the service, but I would have a much harder time having sympathy for her response.

    1. Observer*

      I want to say that I should have written that the hiring manager over-reacted – it’s more that “a bit”. As I said I understand, but NOT to the “threaten to call the police” level.

  55. The Eye of Argon*

    For #3 (teaching others your hobbies) another thing is, teaching is a skill and not everyone has it. I’m an expert crocheter, been doing it since I was 6 (am now 46).

    I taught a beginners’ crochet class at my local yarn shop and I’ve rarely been so nervous and out of my depth in my life. Stuff that comes naturally to me had to be broken down into its very basic basics, starting with how to hold yarn and a hook, how to make a slip knot, etc. Plus there were things like correcting mistakes without getting frustrated or impatient and encouraging them without sounding patronizing.

    Somehow, I pulled it off because everyone in the class gave me good reviews and the shop owner paid me for my time, but never again. I seriously don’t know how teachers do it every day after day.

    Ain’t no way I’m going through all that again, for free, with my coworkers, where the whole point of my free time is that I’m not with them!

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

      Maybe I miss understood but I thought it was teaching about the hobby. Like if you crouchet, maybe show some of the things you made, etc not how to do something.

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        Now that you mention it, I’m not sure either. In that case, my coworkers would probably just be bored to tears.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep. I do not have the patience to teach. I know that about myself. If I have to teach something in a work context, it’s really frustrating for me and I’m not sure I do a great job. I’m not doing that voluntarily.

  56. Don't kneel in front of me*

    I’m gonna go ahead and disagree about LW1 overreaching or getting ahold of the hiring manager in a strange way. Why would the hiring manager list their phone number if they didn’t want people calling or texting it?

    1. Lavender*

      It sounds like the hiring manager didn’t realize their phone number was listed. But OP had no way of knowing that!

  57. Samwise*

    #2. I’d be so tempted to look that interviewer in the eye and coldly say: In 2020 I was in the hospital and then it took me several months of therapy to be able to walk unaided, my spouse suffered panic attacks, my child’s cancer came back, and one of my students died from covid.

    What a terrible terrible question.

    I’m not asking for sympathy here –my point is that plenty of people had profoundly painful experiences and how could this interviewer not know? how could they *ask*, knowing what people have experienced?

    OP, your answer was fine. I’m sorry you were asked that question.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      That question sucks on toast.

      On the flip side, I was really, really, really lucky in that I’ve never had covid myself (knocks wood), no one in my immediate circle died, and no one I know who had it ended up with bad long-hauler symptoms. As an essential worker I kept my job right through. I was still lonely, bored, depressed, anxious, and developed a lot of bad habits that tanked my physical and emotional health. Outside my bubble, people were getting sick and dying in mass numbers. There was not one good thing about any of it.

      I give OP2 all the credit in the world for being able to come up with any kind of answer. I’d wind up either staring at the interviewer like a deer in the headlights or blurt out the first thing that popped into my head, which would likely be along the lines of “are you effing kidding me!”

  58. Michelle Marts*

    For #4, if you don’t have a project planning tool but do have an enterprise Microsoft license I’d check for MS Planner or MS Lists – they both let you set dates. Planner let’s you view things as cards that move from one phase to the next which is really nice.

  59. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

    #5 IRS payment plans are remarkably reasonable. If you set it up online there is a minimum of $300 a month or so, but if you call & can get through* you can reduce that. Interest rates are low and representatives have never made me feel bad. Basically the IRS knows it will get its money no matter what, knows people struggle, and doesn’t have to play hard ball. However, this not a payment you can blow off so make sure to set it to a monthly value you can afford. (You can always call to change it later*)

    I’m sorry this happened.

    * There is a reason we need more IRS representatives.

    1. anon for this*

      Can confirm they are very nice at the IRS. I thought they’d be like debt collectors! I messed up my taxes (my fault, due to ignorance, and now I use an accountant), and not only were they very helpful with the payment plan, they helped me get set up for the future, too.

    2. TomatoSoup*

      Also confirming this. I got a scholarship that got counted as income, but no one told me. Since the federal government had *given* me the scholarship, a few years later I get a notice about undeclared income. Apparently, this happens constantly (it’s for completing an Americorps program), so they got it sorted out quickly without any penalties.

    3. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      Also note that what the IRS terms as a “penalty” for late payment / underwithholding can actually end up about the same as a reasonable interest rate.

    4. Kit*

      Yes, the IRS would much rather know that you are aware of the problem and want to make it right, and reach reasonable terms that let them collect the taxes over time, than have to send letters and phone calls and keep on escalating. They are not the kind of scummy collections agency that relies on pressure tactics to keep the money coming in!

  60. RagingADHD*

    LW2, I would be tempted to say (and knowing my habit of blurting when riled, would probably go ahead) something about how moments of great suffering and crisis provide moral clarity in showing people’s true inclination to care for others or care only for themselves. As CS Lewis said, “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.”

    LW3, it’s funny you mention crochet and gardening, because I do both and there is a certain subset of those hobbyists who would consider it a huge treat to have a willing (or captive) audience to be taught. They would feel like it was “employee appreciation” of them. I suppose there are a few such rabid evangelists for any hobby.

    Perhaps you have a cohort of those folks at your company who told HR it would be a great idea.

    Mind you, it still *isn’t* a good idea for employee appreciation. That belongs with something like teambuilding / social stuff. But I can imagine how it could happen.

  61. whatchamacallit*

    LW #5
    This happened to me last year. Employer didn’t withhold ANY state taxes and I owed $3000. (I lived in one state but worked in another, which is very common in the area I live.) The compliance firm we used DID reimburse me for my tax bill which was completely unexpected and very generous. I had only flagged it because I wanted to make sure it was correct going forward. However, they continued to not fix it after I brought it up! Finally we had to fire our payroll processor because they basically told us they couldn’t handle withholding in a different state. Turns out they had messed up withholding for every. single. person. who lived in a different state than we worked in. Anyway, while it’s unlikely you’ll get anything, I would politely ask if there’s anything they can do and see what happens, sometimes you get surprises, and then obsessively check your paystubs going forward.

  62. kiki*

    LW1: This person wildly overreacted! They should have asked how you got their personal number first and went from there. I would say one take-away is that if you’re contacting somebody for the first time and they didn’t give your their contact info, you should generally start with how you found the contact info/listing.

    I do think seeking somebody out on linked in and then texting them (even if they list their number) is a little dicey for how it will be received. Unless there’s an absolute emergency, connecting and messaging them on the app would likely go over better.

    I want to add a note for hiring managers that you should make sure there is *some* sort of way to connect to hiring personnel outside of just the application portal. It doesn’t have to be your work phone number or email address (it probably shouldn’t be!) but you want to make sure there is some way for somebody to get in touch when there are technical issues with the application portal. Some people will definitely misuse the contact information, but I’ve seen so many situations where there is a bug with the application portal but there’s no clear way for anyone to alert the people hiring.

  63. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    Re: “we thought this would be common sense but apparently not” during a recent round of hiring my grandboss was musing, “Why have all these candidates been temping for 2 years? Is that a red flag?” Uh, lady, we had a pandemic. You were here for it. We were very lucky to avoid layoffs. Think.

  64. Qwerty*

    OP1 – I want to step back from the debate on whether someone has a right to privacy and focus on tips for the future for you

    1. Use the contact method shown in the job posting. Going outside the system tends to really put people off for many reasons.

    2. If the site is down, the company probably knows it. If, say the posting listed a end date to accepting applications and you really feel a need to talk to someone, call the main company and ask for the HR or recruitment department. This is the department whose job it is to fix it – the hiring manager can’t really do anything. In fact, taking an application outside the system might be against their policy and put the HM in a bad position

    3. LinkedIn is not up to date. You might not have even contacted the right person. It could be a former employee who hasn’t updated their profile, or perhaps there is more than one manager in the pharmacy. No one who has reached out to me on LinkedIn was ever for a position that I was actually the hiring manager for.

    4. When sending a cold text / call / email, state how you got their info and ask if they are able to talk about subject. Keep it super short and non-intrusive, you can always info dump after getting permission to proceed. If you find yourself cleaning up your process to sound less weird/creepy, that’s a good indicator that you are overstepping. For example:

    “Hi Nancy, this number was listed as the contact person in the posting for Position X. Are you the person to talk to if the applicant website is down?”


    “Hi Nancy, I saw on LinkedIn that you are a Pharmacy Manager at Hospital Z so I’m assuming you are the hiring manager for Position X. I found your profile on LinkedIn which contains your phone number. Are you the person to talk to if the applicant website is down”

    5. People that are overreacting are often reacting to a different set of circumstances than you see. Think of this incident as if you had silently crept up to someone and totally scared them. Your intentions were fine, your execution not great, and the result was very bad.

    To give some perspective, I’ve had people call my cell phone and its hard to describe how intrusive that feels the first time it happens. I kept my cool because I do my freak outs internally, but I definitely walked over and bolted my apartment door because my brain went to “how did he get this number, how does he know I live in city X, what other info has he gathered about me, I’m not listed as anyone’s hiring manager – what is the real reason for this call”. Personally I’ve trained my first response to be “this is a private number / email – how did you get it?” because sometimes I find out that LinkedIn has shared my info (again!). So the HM’s response to you was over the top, but try to frame in your mind as you got the real time processing of realizing her number was out there. Which is a lesson to learn from her – pause before sending messages when you are having an emotional response! I’m sure she wishes she’d been less dramatic in retrospect. (plenty of posts here on the downside of sending angry emails)

    One thing not mentioned in your letter is how you knew this person was the hiring manager. If you have to do any sleuthing to find out this info, do not contact the hiring manager directly. Only do that if they list their contact info in the job posting or if you received the contact info during the interview process. If you need a work number for someone, check their company’s website – they might not be listed, which will indicate they don’t want people looking them up that way.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Thank you for #5. Is it an OOT reaction? Yes. Is it possible that this person has had experience with a stalker situation, home invasion, neighbor who looks into their windows, etc., etc.? Also yes.

      I don’t think I’d react that strongly in a similar situation, but I also haven’t had contact with one side of my family in more than 25 years and DO freak out when I find them trying to track me down, figure out where my kids go to school, show up at my workplace, etc. All to say that you rarely know what someone else has been dealing with.

  65. Mark Baron*

    Regarding #1, I, too HATE people tracking down my cell number and calling me on that for business purposes. However, I think what happened here was a tremendous over-reaction. On the rare occasion this happens, I politely explain that this is my personal phone number and I never use it for business (which isn’t lying; I really don’t), and I’d appreciate it if they only call my work number.

  66. cardigarden*

    Re: the taxes issue

    At a previous job, I didn’t find out that my employer wasn’t deducting county taxes at all until I found out I owed $1500 (more than a month’s rent, and money I didn’t have). There was a lot of buck-passing and no apology, so I really hope your company does better than mine did.

  67. QuinleyThorne*

    #3: Gaaaahhhh this is a circumstance where a potentially good idea is being applied in the most tone deaf bone-stupid way possible. Because like, I can see where teaching a coworker/team how to do one’s hobby could be a really interesting and effective team-building exercise or something! But by applying it in the context of “employee appreciation”, they’re sending the message that they less appreciate the employees and more their supposed willingness to do unpaid labor.

  68. GiGi*

    Sincere advice for LWs #1 and #5 from an HR professional:

    I realize that both of you are likely newer to the workforce (or maybe not?) so please these situations as learning experiences.

    LW #1: Please do not ever contact someone about a job using a method that is not specifically listed in the application instructions even if the website is down. It’s ok to reach out to the main office on their publicly listed number to ask a general question about alternative submission options. And if they put you in touch with HR or a hiring manager, that is fine but do not try to track down and reach out to individuals unless they specfically say it’s ok. I have had people find me in the most intrusive ways and I never say to myself, “wow, that person is creative and innovative” and I want to hire them immediately, I say, “wow, that person really lacks judgment regarding professional norms” and that is always a red flag. And also, to me at least, texting is a personal thing. I don’t prefer that as a method of communication unless I actually know you or unless I have solicited you in some way. (But to be clear, this manager WAY overreacted on first offense so you might have dodged a bullet there!)

    LW#5: I am sorry that this happened to you and it was definitely their mistake to start with but mistakes happen unfortunately and it is ultimately your responsiblity for making sure that your payroll deductions are correct. We beg our employees to check their pay stubs regularly and to question anything that looks wrong. We pay hundreds of people and with all of the many checks and balances that we have in place to assure accuracy, we still sometimes make mistakes. We have a system that is very easily accessible through an app or computer browser and I can actually see behind the scenes how long it’s been since someone accessed the system and it shocks me the people who just never do. And then months or years later they expect us to be able to fix something. (Sometimes we just have to especially if we have taken out too much but sometimes, like in your case, when not enough was taken out, there really isn’t anything we can do about it after the fact.

  69. Firecat*

    Honestly #2 sounds fine and fun to me.

    The appreciation part is having work time set aside to do something different. Someone who is passionate about their hobby has a chamce to share with others. One of my hobbies is magic the gathering so I would bring in my collection and help people build quick standard decks to play a few rounds. I can’t imagine complaining about not getting paid extra for that. While I have expensive hobbies like epoxy, obviously this isn’t a good venue for that so just gotta use my judgment there.

    I honestly don’t get the harsh cynical takes on this one.

    1. NeedRain47*

      In my experience it’s not so much about the activity itself, it’s the “don’t piss on my leg and tell me its raining” situation. What ends up happening is “staff enrichment” type stuff is presented as being “For You!” but it turns out to be “we are making you do this and telling you it’s For You!” Then you are still expected to be like “Wow thanks for doing these nice and generous things For Me!!!” even tho you actually did extra work and it wasn’t fun.

      1. Firecat*

        There’s no indication that these will be developement workshops though?

        It’s a chance for people who like to share their hobbies to do so while getting paid. People who don’t feel up to teaching can join a hobby they know or join a hobby they want to learn while also getting paid.

        1. Elsajeni*

          I basically think that anything where the “fun” is actually provided by the employees is not reasonable for the company to present as “employee appreciation.” It would be the same if they held an Employee Appreciation Potluck, or an Employee Appreciation Chili Cook-off — it might be fun! But it’s not a gesture of appreciation from my employer if my peers are doing all the work to make it happen.

  70. Daisy-dog*

    Related to #5, but not directed to #5 – just an FYI to everyone in the US:
    THE W4 FORM WAS UPDATED IN 2020 AND WITHHOLDS MUCH LESS MONEY THAN PREVIOUSLY. So if you start a new job this year (or last year and haven’t looked at your taxes yet), then it may be set up to withhold less than you would think. You can’t do the same “Married, 2” or “Single, 0” options. You can piece it together through online tax resources and trial-and-error. Checking your paycheck frequently is vital when you have changes or input a new W4.

    1. Jonaessa*

      Yes! Thank you! I described completing a new W4 in an earlier comment, and it really caught me off guard with what had changed! (I worked the same job for twenty years, and even when I had kids, I did not update my W4.) I emailed our payroll company three times to check that they were withholding taxes correctly. (It’s a major company that processes it, not Mary Sue Ellen Elizabeth down the hall from the boss.) They told me that based on my W4, they were withholding the correct amount, basically none other than the extra $10 I elected. It’s so vastly different than what it was before, so I’ve told all employees at my new job to check their pay stubs. I know of at least two other employees who also have zero dollars taken out, but the company insists it’s correct.

      As if taxes weren’t hard enough to understand as it is!!

  71. Clefairy*

    #4- My job has a similar deadline schedule, our work is on a monthly cycle and we have an overarching target of employee reviews we need to complete each month- but not a weekly or daily target. The workload is pretty easy if you do it evenly throughout the month, and literally impossible if you procrastinate almost everything to the last week. I have ADHD and I struggled HARD with this schedule- I was so stressed at the end of every month, and things definitely slipped through the cracks. I didn’t think I could function without stricter deadlines…until I could. I have a great manager who would give me frank (and appreciated feedback) and who I could openly talk to about my struggles without getting judgement back. She was a great sounding board, and helped me figure out my own tracking/deadline system that worked for me and my brain, and now I’m generally one of the people who is finished earlier than the others, and has the bandwidth to take on additional work at month’s end. If I can do it, anyone can- but I think the key is being open and encouraging, and helping them set their own deadlines to hold themselves to like Alison suggested

  72. Somehow_I_Manage*


    I’d imagine as the credentialed employee their work style results in you needing to deal with a deluge of approvals with little time to review and approve. That’s not ok. If their style of work is resulting in missed deadlines, extra paid OT, or extra stress on you and your colleagues, you need to implement structure. That’s not micromanagement, that’s just regular management. You need to set standards to evaluate performance by and measure progress.

    The ones who don’t need it, won’t be bothered. The ones who need it will thank you. This is an instance where “that’s how we’ve always done it” is only good enough until it’s not working.

    1. Me ... Just Me*

      I agree with this. But the problem could be with how the deadline is set. If someone tells me they need 4 reports due by the end of the month, then they’ll definitely get my 4 reports on the last day of the month. If someone tells me they need 1 report completed weekly, then that’s exactly what they’ll get; on Friday, they will get one report. It’s just how my mind works. I have so much to do, that I mentally prepare for the tasks that need done and clear my mind of those things that I’ve mentally slated for later. But, I *hate* with a fiery passion that would destroy The One Ring any queries regarding “my progress” or “just checking in”. Do you want 4 reports by the end of the month or not!!?? — If you wanted a report a week, then that should have been the ask …

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        Yep. We have to make an assumption that the current system is problematic for the OP in some way. But you’re right- an important litmus test for managers to understand is that so long as all goals are met, getting the job done does not necessarily mean “do it exactly the way the manager would do it themselves.”

  73. Purple Jello*

    LW 3 how about volunteering on how to write an effective email, including subject line, or little known tips and tricks for using Microsoft Office. I’d use this as an opportunity to try to correct some of my coworker’s annoying work habits. But I like to tell people what to do…

  74. MuseumChick*

    Late to the party but I wanted to add some thoughts to LW1. Maybe it’s my industry and maybe I’m getting old but I would never text a number I thought was a business number especially in the circumstances LW1 describes.

    LW1, the reaction you go was a bit much, no doubt about it. But my feeling is you also overstepped. Only ever contact someone about a job using the methods specified in the job description.

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

      “The website was down for a few days and it was impossible to reach anyone”
      What would you recommend someone do in this situation though? It sounds like OP was trying to contact through the specified method (the website) and was unable to contact anyone. It’s not like the OP just decided to circumvent the entire process.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I’d recommend they call the public number for the hospital and ask to be connected with someone who can help them (IT, HR, etc.). I would not recommend go on an internet sleuthing mission to find someone to text about the issue.

      2. MuseumChick*

        Call the main office number and say something to the effect of “I’m interested in X position but the website/portal to apply has been down for several days. Is there someone I can speak with about alternative ways to submit my application?”

      3. Me ... Just Me*

        But, they did decide to circumvent the entire process…. that’s the whole point. There are actual phone numbers listed on hospital websites that the OP could have contacted. Most even have a “contact us” email address that the OP could have used.

        Instead, they searched the hospital website to find the name of the Pharmacy Director (which isn’t often easy to find) and then went to Linked In to find a potential personal number. Why wouldn’t they just have called the hospital and asked for the pharmacy director while that person is at work? It seems that the OP intentionally tried to contact the pharmacy director outside of work/work hours — I’m not even sure how Linked In came to be involved in all this. If I wanted a job at the hospital, I’d call the hospital … and it wouldn’t even occur to me to need to search for someone on Linked In. It’s odd.

  75. idwtpaun*

    The part that does seem strange to me about the situation in Letter 1 is the LW assuming that the work number listed on LinkedIn is a cell that can be texted. Was it indicated as a cell there? Because if I see a work number listed, I assume it’s a phone/VOIP line, not a textable cellphone.

    1. Veryanon*

      I’m curious why the LW didn’t just DM the hiring manager through LinkedIn if that’s where they found the hiring manager? That’s much less intrusive than texting them.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        LinkedIn limits the amount of direct messages you can send to people you’re not connected to if you don’t have a premium account – I’ve run up against that before. LW likely doesn’t have a premium account.

    2. Somehow_I_Manage*

      OP took a risk and it didn’t pay out. It might have worked out under a different circumstance.

      They probably figured they’d shoot their shot with a text, but weren’t feeling brave and bold enough to call. Setting aside whether it was right or wrong (it doesn’t really matter), sometimes risks don’t pay off and you just gotta take the L.

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

        I don’t think it was a risk though. How would this person react if they had called them! I don’t see that the OP did anything really wrong.

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

      So I just looked on my linked in and it makes you put if the phone number is home, work or mobile. So I can totally see someone seeing that number listed is mobile and thinking that it is a work cell phone. especially if someone is going to react the way this person did.

  76. Veryanon*

    Interviewers: Please don’t ask anyone about something positive they took away from the pandemic. For most of us, it was a deeply traumatic time and we’re still processing through everything that happened. Some of us experienced serious illness or the deaths of friends or family. Some of us, like the LW and I, experienced other traumatic things at the time that were not directly related to COVID, but which COVID made even more difficult to handle.
    Just. Don’t.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      By extension, sometimes reading a resume you’ll identify a town, or a school, a person, or a hobby that’s “infamous” or made news for something tragic in the past. While it may be the first thing that comes to your mind, don’t be foolish enough to bring it up with to a person who may have experienced it firsthand.

  77. L'wren*

    LW#2: I was asked this same question in an interview this past summer. I am a nurse. A hospital nurse. A COVID Unit Hospital Nurse. Interviewing at a hospital, for a nursing position. I was so shocked, like you I managed to cobble together an answer about working together as a team… but what I really wish I had said was: we learned to work together as a cohesive team through Trauma Bonding, and I would never wish to view those experiences through a positive light because that seems to trivialize the pain and sadness we suffered during that time and is in fact what has led me to seek other opportunities.
    That one question was a huge red flag for me about that organization. That another healthcare worker would ask that of another “because it was on my list of questions” was extremely telling about their culture. I encourage you to see that question as a red flag about the organization you were interviewing.

  78. TomatoSoup*

    LW #1 it’s generally not a good idea to text people’s work phone numbers as they are often landlines. If you text a landline, it just disappears into the void. There are some professions where it can be standard to have a cell phone as your work number, but those tend to be jobs that involve extensive travel. To be safe, assume the number is a landline.

  79. ToS*

    Having the employee set the deadline and -holding them to it- will build the performance habit for those that need this system. Sure, there will be tweaks when someone gets Covid or a distant but beloved relative dies suddenly, but that habit is a keeper.

    I’m in academia at the moment and for students that take an incomplete-there was literally too much grace and little success with offering an entire semester with no structure. The healthy tension of timely completion would evaporate and then there would be the rare person that handed in the course requirements…when the next semester was ending with all the faculty work plus remembering what I-student was being graded on. Much better to have the student spell out their plan, which was often taking advantage of the semester break and early next semester to cross the I-assignments off their list.

    TLDR-some structure helps everyone. Check ins and updates help manage performance expectations-and reinforces that the quality of their work matters to both parties.

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

    I’m really surprised at a lot of the comments about OP1. I’d like to give my opinion and address some things.
    How did the OP know it was a cell phone? Why would they text? When you add a phone number on LinkedIn it requires someone to choose if it is Work, Home, or Mobile. I would assume that if someone listed their cell phone on LinkedIn then they were open to getting business-related calls. Heck, I would assume that it was their work cell phone.

    Why didn’t the OP try other ways? It sounds like they did. The website was down and they say they couldn’t get in touch with anyone. If this was a job the OP was really excited about, or if the job posting was going to be closed soon and they needed to apply now and was afraid of losing out on the opportunity I can see trying any way you can to get in touch with someone.

    Also, the text sounds like it was fine. The OP explains where they got the number and explained the situation and asked for help. Unless the OP was texting at 1 am I don’t think this is bad. You would say the same thing in an email.

    I do not think the OP overstepped. I think the manager is way off base. She would have had to put her cell phone on linkedin at some point. The only thing I can think of is that at some point her cell phone was also her work phone and she forgot to change it on LinkedIn. Still no reason to threaten someone with the police!

    1. Me ... Just Me*

      Why wouldn’t you just call the hospital and ask for the person while they’re at work? I don’t understand all the Linked In sleuthing.

    2. SAS*

      Did the OP explain where they got the number in the text though? Or did they send a text like “Hi, I’m interested in the pharmacy traineeship but the portal is down, can you let me know how to send my application through?”. The manager clearly hit the roof and it seems more likely that not being told how they got their number could be a part of that.

  81. Elsie*

    Regarding LW5, I’ve used the online IRS withholding calculator but it only tells you how to fill out your form, not the total amount that will be taken out of your paycheck. So you could easily tell if nothing is being withheld at all but it’s not as easy to tell if your extra withholding is being taken out. I get that you should check your paystubs and I do, but how would I know if extra withholding wasn’t being taken out? The whole process is extremely confusing and opaque

  82. JustMe*

    LW 4 – If having people try to cram 6 weeks of work into one causes issues for workflow, then I think you need to demonstrate that to the staff. I personally didn’t love this when it was implemented at my work several jobs ago, but a Kanban board might be beneficial for your team. It’s ideal for visualizing work flow and identifying where bottle necks in productivity occur. It was a pain at my OldJob because it didn’t really fit our work structure (we were doing a lot of very very very long term projects, so it was a lot of “Well, we won’t really do anything with this until the next fiscal year…”) but it’s well suited to a work environment where there are regular, smaller projects. My office would also have weekly 15 minute standing meetings around the Kanban board where we all reported out on how our tasks were going…which was a subtle but effective way to push people to not sit on projects until the very last moment.

  83. Dawn*

    I feel like you might have missed part of LW#1’s letter, Alison; “Messaging her through the site to explain the situation […] Calling the main hospital number…” are both great pieces of advice – had the letter writer not said, “The website was down […] and it was impossible to reach anyone.”

    Now, it’s a little unclear to what extent we should actually take that, but I read it as “I tried other more-legitimate routes and failed to get anywhere.”

  84. Sue*

    I lost my mother to COVID a year ago. If an interviewer ever asks me to name something positive about the pandemic, I will lose it. That’ll be the end of the process for me. Jesus, where’s the humanity? Decency? Common sense? Emotional intelligence? My God.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I hope you never encounter this, but if you do please respond exactly like this. People need to know they’re being awful.

  85. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    LW3, please tell me that they at least have set these learning sessions during work time and are adjusting expectations in a way that allows people to attend without risking being yelled at for not completing work.

    I mean, that’s the bare minimum for this to not be super awful.

  86. There You Are*

    #5 – My employer did that to me when I started, back in Jan 2020. They had had me fill out tax forms in 2019 as part of my pre-start-date onboarding, but then didn’t ask for a new one for 2020 even though the forms and the calculations changed substantially.

    I ended up owing an additional $3500. Nothing to be done expect cough up the money and then do Payroll’s job for them going forward.

    There was some sweet karma, though. I’m in Internal Audit and, based on my experience not being an outlier, we audited the heck out of Payroll in 2021. It was easily the most thorough internal audit our department has ever done. And now Payroll’s shortcomings are on a report that the BoD of our Fortune 500 company reviews every single month.

  87. LW3*

    I know I’m late in the day, but I just want to say how here I am for all the fake and real classes everyone is offering to teach!

    I wish I could answer the questions everyone has about whether it’s during work time, whether materials are being provided, etc., but those details, alas, were not provided in the invitation.

    I think the nail on the head is that this is being couched as “employee appreciation.” In other contexts, as many commenters pointed out, this would be fine. Thanks Alison and commenters for engaging!

  88. Not_a_Newb*

    LW5: I had this same exact thing happen to me. I had asked payroll to withold an extra $10 per pay and they entered it that I had 10 exemptions/10 dependents, so I owed many thousands to the IRS. I had a full-on panic attack in the office. Things got very ugly. My employer helped fix the error since it was their mistake. They issued a corrected 1040 saying I did pay the correct taxes, paid the full amount to the IRS. They took responsibility for half of the amount I owed and “advanced” me the other half that I paid back over the next few months. It was a brutal few months because suddenly I was getting the correct amount of money withheld for taxes AND I was paying back the advance.

    If your employer is decent, and you expect you will stay with them I would see if they would help you with an advance so it doesn’t affect your credit – and it may be easier than dealing with the IRS.

    *Conveniently, I lost my job the very week I finished paying them back. Things had been very ugly with the HR director when I lost my mind over the tax situation, and while I did freak out (I think justifiably so!), the HR director still probably shouldn’t have asked me if I would talk to my father the way I was talking to him. I’m guessing that what he said to me is probably why they agreed to pay half of my situation more than anything.

  89. Anonymous For Now*

    OP#1 reached out to the hiring manager (HM), not to some random employee. And the OP used a number that the HM made essentially public by listing it on LinkedIn.

    It’s one thing for the HM to ask where the OP got the number and quite another to start screaming at the OP.

    I agree with those who said that the OP dodged a bullet. It sounds to me as if the HM is the kind of person who blames other for their mistakes and loses it over anything that is a bit out of the usual.

  90. DontTextLandlines*

    Why on earth would you text a work number? They’re usually either landlines or VOIP phones, neither capable of receiving texts. They usually silently fail, so you don’t get any feedback that your text failed but most of the time it will.

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