office lunch event is out of control, my friend doesn’t understand how work works, and more

I’m off today. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. Office lunch event is out of control

Once a month, my mother and her coworkers coordinate a potluck to celebrate birthdays and other special events. “Potluck” is the terminology my mother uses, although it does not sound like a typical potluck to me. These lunches have been going on for at least two years, and are definitely expected by the employees. The potluck is pretty extravagant. Each person is given a three-course meal that is catered from a local restaurant. In theory, if every employee contributes $10, this would cover the cost of food, drinks, plates, and cutlery. The company does not contribute any money, nor is there a company budget for this. These potlucks are 100% funded personally by employees.

Here’s where the problems comes in. Not every employee contributes money to the potluck, but every employee takes the food that is offered. I would say there are about 5-10 people who contribute financially, but there are about 40-50 employees who are eating. My mother’s contribution has swelled to $60, and one of her friends is contributing $100 to make up for the lack of funding from other coworkers. Even more annoying is that some employees who do not contribute financially will bring tupperware to the potluck so that they can bring food home to share with relatives or save for a later date.

These potlucks have caused resentment and stress for my mother. She is now getting into monthly disagreements with coworkers who she feels should not take food if they did not pay for it.

I’ve told my mother that she should opt out from the potluck, or even try to cancel it due to the lack of equal funding. However, she thinks it’s a better idea to create a list of those who do financially contribute to the potluck, and only allow those who paid to take food. I told her she has no authority to enforce that plan, but she’s all gung ho about it. Any advice you can offer would be great!

Yeah, these aren’t potlucks! Potlucks, by definition, are where everyone brings a dish to contribute. These are catered meals!

In any case, the current situation is obviously ridiculous. Your mom and the other coworkers who are contributing have four options: (1) They can continue paying up to $100 each (!) to buy meals for people who aren’t contributing anything at all. This seems absurd, and there are better uses for their charitable dollars. (2) They can decide this clearly isn’t working and cancel it. (3) They can opt out individually and decide it’s not their problem if their colleagues want to subsidize moochers’ meals, but they’re not going to do it themselves. Presumably this will then make the subsidizers’ shares rise even higher, which might prompt them to take similar action themselves, but who knows. (4) They can change this to a “lunch club” where anyone who’s interested in participating pays $X (the cost of their full share) to join in the meal, and anyone who doesn’t pay isn’t part of that month’s lunch.

#4 seems pretty reasonable to me. You said that you don’t think they’d have the authority to keep out people who didn’t pay, but this is a pretty common set-up in offices — “we’re ordering delivery, if you want in you can place an order and pay the cost of what you’re getting.” This is more of a prix fixe menu, but the concept is the same. They’d announce the change ahead of time, saying they’re switching to a new format and the cost is $X for anyone who wants to eat, and then if nine people sign up, they’d order nine meals only, with money paid in advance, and if someone else tries to take food, they’d say, “We only ordered nine meals and you didn’t sign up or pay for one, but you’re welcome to purchase one next month.”


2. My friend doesn’t understand how work works

I have a friend who just started his first job (ever, never worked a part-time job) after graduating undergrad. He is taking two gap years between med school and undergrad, and he’s working in an admin position on campus in the meantime.

My friend really just doesn’t understand how work works! Though he is the most junior person in his office, he constantly gets annoyed if other people in the office ask him for help on anything. He says he doesn’t want to be a crutch for them to use. He seemed generally stunned when a coworker asked to send out a package when he is already sending several out for the office. It’s not that he is swamped with work – he just doesn’t want to be seen as the person who does everyone’s mail.

The rest of the lab IS swamped, while my friend watches TV shows daily. He also takes long breaks walking around campus, without alerting anyone, and then clocks all this time as time worked. Eventually his boss said something about needing to set hard deadlines for assignments because things were slipping through the cracks. He freaked out, saying that he doesn’t need to be micromanaged. But in reality, he is purposefully drawing out his assignments by watching TV, so they’re definitely not being completed in an effective manner. He’s in an isolated part of the building, so nobody checks in on him to see if he’s actually working or not. I don’t believe that anyone is aware that he slacks off, as he describes the methods used to look busy and to hide his TV screen.

He complains constantly to me about these issues, saying that he doesn’t want to be the “B****” of the office just because he is the youngest. In other aspects of his life, he is truly very hardworking, so I feel like he just really does not understand how work works!

It’s not my place to say anything, as I’m not his manager, but as a friend, I would like to make it clear that he’s acting unprofessionally. He’s counting on letters of recommendation from this office for his applications, and I don’t want him to jeopardize these. I normally act shocked when he says he watched TV or whatnot to show it’s not standard behavior, but it’s not getting through. Should I stay out of it or say something?

You can definitely say something as his friend, but you should be prepared for the likelihood that you won’t get through to him. But if he’s telling you this stuff, there’s no reason you can’t have a natural reaction when he does — like, “Dude, this is how work works — when you’re the most junior person and have time on your hands, of course they’re going to ask you for help.” And “Hey, are you still counting on this job for letters of recommendation? Because you’re putting those in jeopardy by the way you’re acting at work.” And “You’re going to get fired if you keep that up.”

But your friend sounds immature, and someone did him a disservice by not requiring him to have a job before now (or at least preparing him for how work works). It might be that nothing will get through to him until he experiences the natural consequences of his behavior. As a friend, it’s understandable to want to try, but it’s not on you if you don’t get through to him.


3. Employee wants to retract his resignation — but we don’t want him to

We have an employee who resigned by email two weeks ago. He sent the email to our office manager, the head of HR, one of the VP’s, and the president of the company. Our office manager did not get it because the employee sent it to the wrong address, but everyone else got it. Fast forward to last week, when the employee told us that he wants to stay. (Evidently he had a job lined up but it “fell through.” In this business, that usually means they failed the drug test.) Well, there have been talks all week between project managers and the office manager who is on vacation, as well as corporate. Today I was told to call him to come in tomorrow (they work a four-day week) and terminate him. So, how do you terminate in this situation?

It’s not a termination — it’s telling him that you’re choosing to let the original resignation to stand and are declining to take him back. That makes sense to do if you were relieved that he was leaving and you want the chance to hire someone stronger (or if you’ve already promised the role to someone else and don’t think he’s strong enough that you want to find another slot for him). It doesn’t make sense to do if it’s solely on principle.

But assuming it’s the former, I’d say something like this: “At this point, we’ve already begun taking action on your resignation and don’t think that it makes sense to change course. We’d like to keep your last date as (date), as you originally suggested.”

Ideally, you’d also explain your reasoning — such as that you’re heavily into talks with other candidates or changing course with the position, or that you had performance concerns that make you hesitant to renew the employment agreement, or whatever the reason is.


4. My boss saw me guzzling chocolate in my car

After a particularly long day, I stopped at the convenience shop by work and got myself a well deserved candy bar. While waiting to merge back into traffic, I proceeded to shove it in my mouth, barely avoiding eating the wrapper. To my horror, my boss was the car waving me into the lane and witnessed me unhinge my jaw like a snake in order to get as much chocolate in my mouth as quickly as possible.

My question is, can I take FMLA due to dying of embarrassment or should I just email my resignation right now?

Just ghost the job entirely and let her think what she witnessed was part of your jubilance on your bacchanalian flight to freedom.


{ 276 comments… read them below }

  1. Miss Bianca*

    I already want an update on OP#2, but I have a feeling in a few years the friend will be in upper management lol. I’m just so jaded because the more I work, the less I see actual consequences for people acting poorly at work

    OP#3, he resigned by email??? jeez lol. And one of the emails was wrong? eeek. This is why one I only give my notice once my background check has cleared (and I have a clean record).

    1. Carl*

      Re #3. Haha. Good point. When an employee can’t even figure out how to quit…probably a sign they need to go.

    2. Mid*

      Yeah, I will never resign before I have confirmation of my next job. I had to wait *2 months* after getting my offer for all my background to clear (and this wasn’t a government job! Or one that required security clearance!) I went from first interview to conditional offer in under a month. If I had given notice then, I would have been missing nearly two months of pay.

      1. Merrie*

        I resigned when I had an offer letter but still a background check and drug test ahead of me. Didn’t occur to me there could be an issue as I know I don’t take drugs nor have a criminal record. It worked out fine but in hindsight I realize that was risky. I got the offer right before a two week planned vacation, and so very much did not want to return from vacation and have to go back to that job for any length of time.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          After getting a call from the doctor telling me my tests came back clear when I hadn’t been the person to take those tests, I leave nothing to trust!

      2. demzzz*

        I resigned from my last job before getting confirmation in writing from my next job, but that was only because I had complete and utter trust in my former boss and I also had a pretty solid feeling that the new office wasn’t going to screw me in any way, they were just slow on paperwork. I wanted to give my boss as much support as possible as I transitioned out, and he already knew I was applying for this new thing (he was one of my references). It worked out, but it was a very special situation where I felt a lot of trust in everyone involved.

    3. My Dear Wormwood*

      In Australia, #2’s friend would swiftly be nicknamed Sensor Light, because he only works when someone is walking past.

    4. Hexiv*

      Nah, he’s gone to med school – so instead of upper management, he’s gonna be the doctor who responds to all of your problems with, “Have you considered losing weight?” so he doesn’t have to do anything.

      1. Well...*

        Yup. Big ego + self-serving work ethic will make him a terrible but sadly typical doctor.

        1. Boof*

          Yes, two gap years to “prep” for med school (presumably) and this is what they’re doing? My guess is if we had an update they either wouldn’t have made it in to med school, or possibly are doing one of the “pay through the nose” alternative med schools and won’t make it into residency (if this is US based)
          “In other aspects of his life, he is truly very hardworking” – gotta wonder if this is accurate, or if the friend just puts up a good front. I feel bad for the lab that spent valuable funds on this slacker!

      2. TeamPottyMouth*

        I was going to say they should call him “MD”. He’ll think they’re calling him a doctor while they’re calling him “motion detector”.

      3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        oh he might just preface that with “are you pregnant” if you have the right kind of body.

    5. Onward*

      In my company, resigning by email is actually the way most people do it. We even have an inbox specifically for it.

      That said, I had an employee just recently who resigned, then tried to take it back two weeks later as well. I made the mistake of letting him stay on (we had already informed our client that he was leaving, then had to take that back) and he just resigned again a couple weeks later, which caused a huge headache. We accepted his resignation effective immediately at that point.

      1. ecnaseener*

        And the email resignation is before/in place of an actual conversation with the manager, not just for documentation’s sake?

        1. Onward*

          Yep. Some people opt to call the manager, but we work remotely and it’s a big company so a lot of times, I just get informed of resignations via an email.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah that’s the thing – when someone resigns, they’re telling you they plan on leaving immediately. You act on that information. Even if they ask to come back, you have to assume they have one foot out the door.

        Now that’s not to say resigning employees shouldn’t be treated respectfully, allowed to work their full notice period, giving strong references, all of that – but if they rescind they’re notice they’re ultimately asking to be asked back into a position that they’ve already indicated they’ll leave at the first opportunity. That’s not reasonable in most positions.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          With very few exceptions, I think the fact that someone resigned is a clear indication that you don’t want them to reverse their decision and come back. An exception would be a high-performer you’d want to keep who had made a tough decision, had reasons for wanting to move on, but those reasons no longer exist. For example, someone giving notice because they are leaving to move across country and marry their GF, but the relationship ended and they won’t be moving. Or they were going to a different company and that company imploded, and either you can switch up their responsibilities to make them more satisfied at your job for and understand you might lose them in 1-2 years for the same reason.

          I’ve had employees who I really valued who resigned who I explictly told “If something changes and you want to come back, don’t hesitate to call; we’d love to have you come back if we can find a way” Not that I was keeping their job open, but if I had a role for them, or it was so soon they hadn’t fill their role, it would absolutely be a possibility.

          But otherwise, when someone gets to the point that they are resigning, they are already mentally out the door and if they weren’t a strong employee or an excellent fit for their role, take the gift and stick to what they’d originally said: “no take-backsies” but more professional-like.

          1. Vio*

            Agree with the above but would add that sometimes it can make sense to extend the timeframe and keep them on a bit longer. That way they can still get a pay cheque while jobhunting and you get more time to find (and possibly have them help train) a replacement. Obviously this would only work if the employee were both worth keeping around a bit longer and willing to accept the temporary arrangement.

      3. Momma Bear*

        Former office had an employee who boomeranged. My direct boss was overruled by the grandboss about taking the person back when it fell through. One of the problems in allowing someone back is they may from that point on have one foot out the door and not be focused on the work, just the paycheck. Easier in the long run to let the resignation stand than to have to terminate for cause later.

        1. E*

          Everyone is there for a paycheck. Businesses need to get over tghe illusion that people would gleefully hand over 40+ hours of their lives if they weren’t being paid, and that they need that money to afford rent/mortgage, food and clothing.

    6. Michelle Smith*

      Well it has been 5 years. Perhaps they will see this repost and write in with one.

    7. Juniper*

      What’s wrong with resigning by email? Genuine question; any job I’ve left has been a contract so I’ve never really resigned before.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        It’s much more typical to resign by face-to-face conversation, or maybe by phone call (if you and your manager work at different locations). Email is asynchronous communication, which is good in some situations, but you want to make sure your manager knows you’re resigning and a synchronous conversation is better for that. See the example in this letter: the employee wrote the direct manager’s email address incorrectly, so their manager only knew they were resigning because they sent the email to others in management who informed the manager. Imagine if someone sent a resignation email to only their manager and the email address was incorrect, or the manager’s inbox is a mess and they don’t read the email for three days.

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          I worked for state government and the practive there was to talk with your manager, then hand them a paper letter with the date, your planned last work day, and your signature so there was no question of when you were planning to leave. It also gave a chance to put in writing that you appreciated the people, the opportunity, etc., if thst was true.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            Where I am, one has to resign via signed letter (on actual paper), and best practice is to get a signed receipt. Email doesn’t suffice. Usually people will announce in person as a courtesy, then hand over the letter. Best way to be sure it reached the right person, and on what date.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              That’s so archaic it would drive me crazy. We ask people, once they have announced their plans to resign, to send us an email from their work address indicating that they are leaving and what their last day will be. Then, the person in HR who processes those acknowledges it via email and gets the ball rolling on final checks, vacation payout, scheduling exits/equipment returns.

              I hate it when people show up with paper letters – it just makes more work for me to scan it, send it to the right person, and shred the original. I’ve literally never had anyone ask me for a signed receipt for a resignation in 15+ years of supervising people either. The best I could offer on that would be to send them an email confirming that I received their resignation, am aware their last day will be X, and that HR will follow up with them on end-of-employment related administrative tasks.

              1. Emmy Noether*

                It’s archaic, yes, but we have work contracts here, and it’s always better to end a written contract in writing. I got hand-signed paper receipts too, and kept them. I’m assuming the company keeps the original resignation letter for some years as well – it’s mostly superfluous, but the one time there’s a dispute, the arbitrator or judge will want the original. The judiciary (and tax!) have a tendency to like archaic.

      2. Always a Corncob*

        IMO it feels a little cold and impersonal to resign by email. Of course there are circumstances where it is the best or only way, but if you have a good relationship with your manager, it’s a courtesy to give them the news personally. (Whether in person or over the phone/Zoom.)

      3. Eldritch Office Worker*

        It depends on your workplace. In a lot of places it’s read as the equivalent to breaking up by text – cold, unappreciative, cowardly.

        I don’t actually have an issue with it, personally. If you’ve been somewhere a long time and have a close relationship with your manager, I can see why face-to-face would be preferable, out of respect. But paper trails can be so important.

      4. peacock limit*

        I had to resign by email because I wasn’t going to see my boss for four of the five weeks of my notice period. He was on vacation, and I felt bad, but not that bad because he created the environment for me wanting to leave in the first place.

      5. Momma Bear*

        Depends on office norms and relationships. I had a boss I never actually met (offsite) so I sent him an email and he followed up with a call. Some jobs require a formal HR form, no matter how you resigned. It should be mentioned in the handbook.

    8. NotAnotherManager!*

      We actually ask people not to give notice at their current jobs until reference and background have cleared. I would hate for something to come up that prevented us from moving forward and their have given up a job already. It adds time to our process, but it just feels like the right thing to do.

    1. Casper Lives*

      I remember it. Just as good the second round, with the bonus of bringing joy to those that didn’t see it :)

    2. I&I*

      I say you should turn up to work with one of those bars for your boss, and hand it over saying, ‘You gotta try these, they’re SO GOOO!!!’

    3. EPLawyer*

      #4 is a classic. Always brings a chuckle.

      Boss was probably going — I’ll have what’s she having.

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’ve been so upset that there is not a product that is essentially a guzzling chocolate. Not hot cocoa, not a chocolate bar, I want to guzzle the chocolate river in Willy Wonka and I really want it ever since I read this letter.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m told that as a child mom hid the chocolate syrup because I would eat it by the tablespoon.

        I don’t remember that… and I am sure Mom exaggerated because I totally use a teaspoon now.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Spoon….lolz. You know it can simply be poured directly down your throat, right!? :-)

          1. I Talk About Motorcycles Too Much*

            That’s what I did. Guzzling the Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup right out of the can. Made the vent hold bigger so it flowed better. =D

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I may have had that trained out of me by the Great Cheese Whiz Extravaganza…. which I unfortunately DO remember. (A whole can does not treat a small child well the next day.)

      2. Specialized Skillets*

        Investigate “drinking chocolate”! Had some in a chocolate shop in Portland, Oregon and it was life-altering.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I was going to suggest this! Nothing is better when you want to guzzle some chocolate.

  2. Mid*

    #4, we’ve all had those days!

    I once went into a sound proof room to curse loudly after a series of deeply frustrating events in my day, with lots of hand gestures, and some enacting of the actions I would like to do to the source of my angst.

    It was fine, except I forgot that people could see in the windows, and my boss clearly saw my *ahem* distress. She said I should have been in theater given the depth of the acting abilities. I wanted to absolutely melt into a puddle and never be seen again.

    1. allathian*

      LOL! I hope your boss wasn’t the source of your frustration, although judging by her reaction, she probably wasn’t…

      I’m so glad that this has never happened to me.

      That said, I had a very frustrating project at work a few years ago. It was so frustrating, that I kept grinding my teeth in my sleep and dreaming that I’d broken a tooth. Until the morning that I woke up and found that I had! Luckily I got an emergency appointment with my dentist so the tooth got fixed quickly, and then I talked to my coworker and manager about that project. Thankfully it was nearly done, but now I wonder why I didn’t talk to my manager earlier. The project got done and I didn’t break any more teeth on it…

      1. Melissa*

        I know it’s the least of the problems in number 1, but I just can’t get past the fact that she’s calling it a potluck. That isn’t what a potluck is — it’s like calling your pet dog a cat!

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

      I think every job should have a soundproof room (sans windows of course) that employees can go into to curse their frustrations.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Indeed. A booth where I could just go in and scream, “MOTHERF*****, are you ******* serious?!” would be delightful. Except that I work at home. Then again, I have a two-year-old, and a soundproof booth would probably STILL be delightful here. Sometimes for me, sometimes for him.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          I’ve seen too many episodes of Midsomer Murders and Bad Sisters to ever voluntarily go into a walk-in freezer at work and shut the door behind me .

              1. Random Dice*


                “[Avoid] Anywhere with a vat

                In English villages, vats only exist for drowning people—in beer, in pickling brine, in whiskey, in jam. This is doubly true if the vat was built by 14th century monks. If anyone offers to show you a vat, say you need to get something from your car, then start the engine and run them over. The police understand this sort of thing. Tell them about the vat.”

    3. I take tea*

      At least it was sound proof. I once was late at work dealing with a really frustrating project and stumbled upon something I knew I had corrected before – and those corrections were just gone. I let out a loud and long roar of frustration and it turned out that I had some colleagues working late as well that evening… They were pretty startled.

  3. Heidi*

    I remember Letter 1 from last time. I wonder how that turned out. At the time, I thought it was odd that someone ordered all this food and paid for it with their own credit card or equivalent without having collected enough money to cover it. I would just tell everyone that we’re not placing the order until we collect enough money, and when it didn’t happen, then I would tell everyone that we couldn’t raise the money for it this month. Then maybe scale down the monthly celebrations to something affordable. I’m glad my coworkers are not like this. If anything, the person collecting the money in my office would profit because all of us will err on the side of overpaying rather than risk coming up short on the total.

    1. Aphrodite*

      Food. Wars have been fought over it but those seem almost menial to the office battles involving it.

      At my community college, we had a two-day “event” where the three finalists for the presidency were going to be interviewed in the theatre. Since the college is a “shared governance” one with every group (classified, faculty, etc.) having input it was normal that everyone was invited to the in-person event or the live zoom version.

      In our division, someone in management decided to stretch and use some funds to let everyone get a free lunch (sandwich, chips, cookies) so they could meet and watch the forums together. What ended up happening is that many did order the “free” lunch but picked them up and went back to their offices, never joining in the group event, which had so few it wasn’t funny. I passed on ordering and I am so glad I did so. The food was (apparently) good but oh, the hurt feelings.

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        People don’t eat our catering. At least my new organisation is more relaxed than the previous one about carrying over-orders back to the office to be shared with non-attendees.

        (My previous one, due to budget cuts, grudgingly allowed that our internal high level meetings could have one of the cheap biscuits per person, but don’t you dare get the expensive ones.)

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I like the lunch club idea; if the main participants really want to continue ordering and enjoying the food, it’s probably better to order it in distinct meal servings rather than platters or family style servings. Give everyone a chance to order from a menu, but make it clear that it’s specific orders for specific people. Unpack the food next to the list of orders. Even if you want to share a particular dish it should still be nominated to particular people: “double order of nachos for Cagney and Lacey”.The problem with laying out platters of food in an office is that sometimes people do treat their coworkers to special foods without wanting payment, and sometimes people don’t get hungry until they see the actual food, laid out for all to help themselves to. Obviously they’re being rude, but it’s pretty easy for people to tell themselves that stuff is going to waste unless they pitch in. Instead of doing it party style, like a host, doing it food delivery style should send a firmer message. Putting out platters party style, and then confronting people when they come up with their tupperware is too confrontational, though I totally get the temptation to do it.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly! Tone down the party style, and put the names somewhere where it’s really easy to see- either on the door or on the food itself (“yogurt for Terry”). Then enforce it.
        I’d also move into a less conspicuous conference room so fewer people can casually drop by.

      2. Helen J*

        I disagree that “confronting” people who show up with Tupperware containers is too confrontational. I think someone needs to keep a list of who ordered/contributed and when the Tupperware gets whipped out, the list keeper checks and if the Tupperware person didn’t order or contribute, they don’t get to fill up their container. If they did order or contribute, they get a single, reasonable portion.

        I try to be gracious as possible because I know food insecurity it real, but I also can’t afford to feed the family of the moochers.

      3. Cmdrshprd*

        “Obviously they’re being rude, but it’s pretty easy for people to tell themselves that stuff is going to waste unless they pitch in.” Personally I think it goes beyond rude and into stealing territory, it really is not different than if someone takes someone else’s lunch from the fridge.

        “Putting out platters party style, and then confronting people when they come up with their tupperware is too confrontational, though I totally get the temptation to do it.”

        I don’t think it is too confrontational people should know you don’t take leftovers if you did not pay, if they don’t know that already/on their own they need to be told. Maybe we are thinking of confrontation differently. I don’t think anyone needs to be yelled at or anything. But just a gentle reminder “Oh this food is not bought by the company but paid for by employees so only employees who paid can eat it, if you want to join it is $X and you can send it to John Doe.”

        Or “This food is not bought by the company but paid for by employees so only employees who paid can take leftovers home. If you want to sign up it is $X and send it to John Doe.”

    3. Bagpuss*

      YEs, and while of course people ought to contribute if they’re asked, if they just see ‘free’ food showing up they aren’t likely to change!

      I’m also curious about how the organizers phrased it when they co-ordinated it, and whether thye actually put any deadline for paying, or any reminder that he food is only available for those contributing!

      If I were OPs mother, I would just buy enough for the number of people who pay, and warn them in advance that that’s what you’re doing – then those who have paid could make sure that they got their food as soon as it arrived.

      1. EPLawyer*

        That was my question. Do the people know they have to pay? Or is it assumed its coming out of the budget or someone is treating each month. Has it been explicitly stated this is a group payment thing that all are expected to contribute to?

        Also this is NOT a potluck.

        1. Me*

          LW1: There are always some moochers, but if 80% of the eaters aren’t contributing at all, there is some confusion about the nature of the event.

          LW2: It’s telling this is his first job. There’s a shift recently in that many colleges now really cater to their students, and the students develop a mentality that they are paying customers and things should be modified to make them work for the customer.
          Then the students become employees, and they don’t understand the dynamic is completely different. Some students have a really hard time making that mental transition.
          This letter is pre-COVID, but I think all the accommodations for students during COVID have made the shift even harder.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I don’t really see it as a “college kids these days” issue. I know I was a nightmare in my first few office jobs. I treated my managers a bit like a teacher crossed with a therapist, as if it was their job to help me learn and to solve my interpersonal issues for me, rather than primarily to get work out of me.

            As for LW2’s friend, there have always been people who become oppositional when being told to do something. I’m particularly unsurprised because it sounds like he considers his job a break from the hard work of school, rather than the start of a career he wants.

        2. Momma Bear*

          There’s absolutely confusion about the event and rather than clarify people have just paid more. I hope that LW’s mom and team changed the advertising for this and stopped feeling obligated to pay for everyone else’s lunch.

    4. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      Hopefully, COVID provided an opportunity to reset with additional accountability.

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Last year at our end of season event I ordered enough pizzas so that the volunteers could have 2-3 slices each. They told friends who then stayed behind and it worked out that most people only got one slice each. If I had known I would have ordered more. This year I’m going to be very clear that x number of pizzas will be ordered and tell me if you are having guests, otherwise no one gets any pizza.

    6. Antilles*

      At the time, I thought it was odd that someone ordered all this food and paid for it with their own credit card or equivalent without having collected enough money to cover it.
      I have to assume that it’s something that’s sort of morphed over time – not that they started off with a few people contributing $60+ but that they started with plenty of payers and the number of people paying has slowly decreased. But the people involved (wrongly) feel like they need to keep doing it so they just keep contributing more and more.
      Frankly, I’m just going to say the whole situation is weird. A three-course in-office catered meal for birthdays or celebrations? In my experience, that’s something that companies do maybe twice per year – the annual holiday party. For monthly celebrations, the norm everywhere I’ve ever worked or heard of is more on the order of cookies/cake in the break room or pizza.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’ve seen genuine potlucks for birthdays where people bring all kinds of things from potstickers to pasta salad to cupcakes, but yeah, the large catered meals are generally saved for major holidays.

    7. Daisy-dog*

      This is likely another one where Covid stopped all “potlucks” and then they either did not restart them in the same way or haven’t been brought back at all.

    8. coffee*

      Mostly when I read things from 2019 I feel a bit sad for the writers, what with covid about to disrupt everything, but in this case I can peacefully imagine that covid took care of the problem if the LW’s Mum couldn’t get it sorted out otherwise.

      (Yes I know covid may not have changed anything. Just let me imagine it in peace.)

  4. Sometimes you just need to scream*

    Had a really frustrating call, walked to the pretty soundproofed stairwell to scream/squeal, door closer had been tightened so took longer than usual to close and so the entire office heard me just before the door actually closed. plus I’d just moved offices, so a lot of the floor didn’t know me.

    Walked back into the office floor to have 50+ people stare at me. My team just laughed as they knew EXACTLY who I’d been on the phone with.

    1. Casper Lives*

      I once said, “is he an idiot?” After an internal video call with a coworker on another team where we had discussed a detrimental decision made by the head of her department, who was many levels up. Unfortunately the call hadn’t hung up properly. I found out when she said, “he has lots of experience.” I apologized for my intemperate remark.

      We’ve pretended it never happened.

        1. Jzilbeck*

          lol we had a telecon once where people in the room thought they were muted and then started talking smack about everyone else on the line…..what they didn’t realize was that their speakers were muted but the microphone was very much not on mute. Awkward….

    1. alas rainy again*

      Actually, most anywhere in France at lunch time. Including Paris. The French do take their lunch very seriously. A sandwich at one’s desk is really frowned upon, or would spot you as an alien. IANAF

      1. alas rainy again*

        Ok, the price might have gone up in the last 10 years, and the portions never were big-sized to begin with but really, I could eat a three course meal served and eaten in less than twenty minutes if I ordered the plat du jour. Good times

        1. Empress Ki*

          I remember having 2 hours for lunch break. Then we went to a nearby restaurant, had a 3 course meals, often wine too, and it wasn’t expensive. It was in the 90’s though. I thought it would have changed.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            I remember when visiting my company’s Paris office for a week having those lovely lunches. And the icing on the cake was being guided on the first day “oh in France we don’t talk about work at lunch. We focus on our companions, the food, the setting and non-work conversations” It was such a relief to have a meal with co-workers without reliving our workday.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          Yes, you are Not a Frenchman. And I am Not a Frenchwoman Either.

      2. Morrigan Crow*

        Planet Money did an episode on this! Just google “Planet Money Let Them Eat Lunch”. The historical reasons were really interesting!

    2. Bagpuss*

      In fairness, the letter is 4 years old, and depending on the size of the office, there are economies of scale! I guess if you were doing soup, pizza and a yogurt you could probably do it!

    3. MK*

      Plenty of restaurants offer lunch specials for around that price, but we are talking a small salad, a medium-size main course and a small dessert. And for an order of 50 servings, I am guessing they would be offering larger portions.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        The prices will have increased but I did get a 3 course lunch in Paris for about EUR 15 a few years back.

    4. Antilles*

      It’s an economy-of-scale thing. It’s $10 per person IF all 50 people in the office contribute so the overall budget is $500.
      I have a project with quarterly on-site safety meetings. We provide lunch for everyone which is ~40 people. I think the last time, it ran somewhere around $500 for salad, meal, and desserts plus associated stuff like drinks and plates and etc. It’s not a three-course meal of steak or whatever (typical meal: pasta and meatballs), but it’s fine. So I could definitely see it if we project back to 2019 before the huge inflation we’ve seen in the past 18 months.

      1. Smithy*

        In addition to the economy of scale – it’s also no doubt part of what started contributing to the imbalance.

        Beyond the whole $10 per person for 50 people, it’s that thing where if a handful of people don’t contribute once because a few people are sick/on vacation – it’s likely easier at first to cover for them than change a larger catering order. Then you get a couple others not contributing because they don’t eat or love the food selection. And before you know it, you have some keeping the catering order to maintain the economy of scale but fewer than the whole office wanting the food. So there’s more than is needed, fewer eating, etc etc.

        Obviously this situation would do best to be redone. But I also see how this “road of best intentions” happened.

  5. Brain the Brian*

    I remember when #4 ran originally laughing so hard that I cried at my desk. Same reaction this time — it just never gets old.

  6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I don’t see anything in #1 to suggest that mooching employees are aware that it’s funded by their coworkers. I wonder if some discreet remarks (“this costs $10pp”) have been dropped but misinterpreted (“employer budgets $10pppm for lunches”). Whatever model is chosen – and option 4 sounds great – I think some plainer language may be required.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes, to be honest if there was a regular lunch served for all, I would not necessarily think that it was funded by a random group of coworkers!

      I would feel horrible after learning about it but that does not help. But as it would never occur to me to fund such a thing for all just because everyone else stopped paying for it, I really think it should just stop.

    2. londonedit*

      Yes – it’s a bizarre situation anyway, I’ve never encountered a workplace where a three-course lunch would be served up at all, and I would definitely have to wonder what the communication around this is/has been. I would never assume that employees would be paying for a lunch like this, because it’s such an OTT thing to be happening. I wonder whether the majority of people assume that the company pays, and no one has explicitly said otherwise? Regardless, it sounds like the situation is untenable, so if they can’t make it clear to employees that they need to contribute cash if they’re going to take part in the lunch, then I think the lunch just has to stop altogether.

      1. Antilles*

        Regardless, it sounds like the situation is untenable, so if they can’t make it clear to employees that they need to contribute cash if they’re going to take part in the lunch, then I think the lunch just has to stop altogether.
        Alternatively, make it lunch at a restaurant away from the office, announce up front that it’s not a company sponsored event, and then get separate checks at the restaurant. That makes it blatantly obvious that people are expected to pay for their own meals and avoids the hassles of trying to limit who can/cannot grab food from the break room.

    3. N C Kiddle*

      It does say LW’s mother has been getting into disagreements with coworkers about it. That’s what makes me think the idea of a lunch club is not right for this situation: people are already far too heated about it and trying to organise it will just lead to more disagreements. Much better to disengage entirely and hope it all settles down so everyone gets their own lunch.

    4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I think the part where the LW’s mom is getting into monthly disagreements about people taking food without having paid = at least some employees know they should be paying and just don’t care.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Though I’ll add that that is at odds with there being enough food to feed the whole office!

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Well, unless Mom means “you didn’t pay for this” but says “you can’t take this” and it’s a case of Free Food Madness ibid.

      3. Allonge*

        Probably – but if food just shows up anyway and all that stands between the moochers and FreeFoodTM is someone grumbling, well… FreeFood wins all the time. This is not something that will naturally resolve, it needs to be cut off completely and maybe restarted in a different format in no less than half a year.

        (At least I hope the pandemic put an end to this.)

  7. Jen (she/they pronouns please)*

    Did I miss something about the 4th one? When did ghosting the job become a good idea?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I took both the letter and the response as a joke. I doubt the LW is going to quit their job (or take FMLA) just because their manager saw them eating chocolate.

    2. Magenta*

      You missed that it was a joke, the situation was funny and this was a lighthearted response.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Hehe! I guess it just hits differently than it did the first time it was published. So cute.

        1. Jen (she/they pronouns please)*

          This actually was the first time I saw it. I doubt the advice would have been more serious back then, though.

  8. Irish Teacher*

    My guess is that LW2’s friend isn’t taking his job seriously because he is seeing it as just a temporary thing (to save money for med school? Or to pass some time while he decides where to apply or whatever?). It’s even possible his parents have told him he needs to earn some of the money for med school himself, so he is doing this somewhat resentfully.

    I’ve known a few people who think that being a graduate means they are “above” the sort of jobs one usually does temporarily. I took this sort of “gap year” because my degree and my teaching qualification (in my case, it was because I was applying for a primary school qualification that started mid-year and for the secondary school one that started the following September as the primary school one had something like four times as many applicants as places) and I worked retail for it and I remember my brother (who was in his 3rd year of his degree at the time) saying he would never take a job like that, that he thought he was above that and could do better, adding on “no offence.” I wasn’t offended; I was thinking how naïve he was if he thought he could walk straight into a high-paying, interesting job straight out of college in a situation where I couldn’t even say for sure if I would be there past February.

    Like the LW’s friend, he was somebody who worked hard at school and college, but…I think he had a bit of a false idea about how smart he was and how well that transferred to the working world. He was and is smart, but…probably not as smart as he thought he was. He was used to being one of the “top students” at school and hadn’t worked any part-time jobs apart from some work experience in secondary school (two one-week periods) and working as a sort of tutor in college where he had some level of authority and which seemed to be readily available to any good student who was interested, so I don’t think he really knew how the mainstream working world worked. He had never had to send in an application for a job, I don’t think.

    Now, I don’t think he’d have behaved like this but I do think it comes from a sort of similar expectation, somebody who has always been the success-story and is used to being challenged and getting recognition as a high-achiever suddenly being in a situation where that doesn’t matter and thinking he deserves better.

    1. bamcheeks*

      My brother had a bit of that mindset too. He had had part-time jobs during school and university, then did a fairly fancy one-year programme after he graduated, but when that contract ended he just moved back to my parents’ house, lay on the floor and applied for Serious Graduate Jobs for a YEAR. It was completely alien to me: there is no period where I’ve been without work where I didn’t go out and get a temping job or a waitressing job or something, and same with my other brother. Neither of us could get our heads around not doing anything for A YEAR whilst he waited for something good enough to come along.

      1. Oui oui all the way home*

        I was married to a guy like this. He decided he was too good for most jobs that would have him and was content to let me support his ass until I finally had enough. Now he has another woman supporting him… but as least he doesn’t have to do work that is “beneath him”.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          I dated a guy like this, who had quit his job in sound engineering without anything else lined up, right before the holidays when work was scarce. He was completely broke and only had a home because his roommates were too kind-hearted to evict him, but he said he refused to work retail, food service or at a bar (in a city where restaurants were begging for employees and any halfway decent bartender could make $$).

          Apparently restaurant work was beneath him but sponging off everyone else wasn’t.

          1. starsaphire*

            I was married to that guy.


            I think we’ve all known one or more of him, tbh.

        2. LK*

          My husband had a friend like this. He quit every job he ever had because he’d decide it was beneath. At one point he went back to school to get some sort of certificate to do legal admin work, and then endedup leaving the field within a year because the lawyers kept expecting him to do admin work. Each time he’d come crying to my husband about how he had no money. Last I heard, he was on the verge of quitting his hospital job (which he also went back to school for) because seeing cancer patients made him depressed (think how they feel!).

        3. EvilQueenRegina*

          It made me think a bit of my ex. When I first knew him, he was managing a family-owned gift store, and seemed to spend an awful lot of his time goofing off, watching TV shows on his iPad and playing Facebook games. He seemed to have a hard time with the concept that I actually had to do a full day’s work and couldn’t do the same.

          When his family made the decision to pull the plug on the store, he was very half hearted about looking for a job because he had his heart set on becoming famous, becoming a big star as a result of appearing on reality TV, he’d tweet all the actors on his shows asking if there was an acting role for him (never mind the fact that the cast don’t do the hiring!) I’ve told this story before here about the time he was contacted by a scammer pretending to be Stephen Amell writing scripts for Arrow and wouldn’t have it when I tried to point out red flags and explain that who he was talking to was more like Stephen SCAMell. He probably still now thinks that I stopped his big break because I didn’t want him to succeed.

          I don’t remember this letter from first time around, but reading it now, I’d seriously be wondering if it was him if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s never pursued a medical career.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        To be fair, my brother did continue tutoring for his old college while he applied for jobs. He did post-grad study so by the time he graduated he’d grown up a bit, but he went through a couple of years at college where he seemed to have a bit of an “I’m getting a degree!” thing.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        What were they planning to live on while waiting for Dream Job to sweep them off their feet? I get your brother was living with your parents, but I don’t understand what many of these Prince/Princesses do for money during that year, and even after they find a job it’s not like you get paid the first day!

      4. Phryne*

        During the last year of my studies, I had a full three different just graduated friends lamenting to me how hard it was to find a good enough job – while living with their boyfriends who paid for their upkeep. They did not work, not even part time gigs, just full time job searching for the perfect job.* Meanwhile I was fully aware that as soon as my student stipends stopped, I would have to accept whatever employment came my way and try and find a better job while working fulltime in a crappy job to pay my rent and food. My sympathy for them was very limited.

        *at the time and place of speaking, part-time and temp jobs were not hard to get.

    2. Dragon_Dreamer*

      My coworker cannot BELIEVE that I would “stoop” to working outside my field while applying to grad schools. She’s accused me and my similarly situated coworker of “collecting degrees.”

      I’m sorry it’s hard to get a job in science/academia/museums right now without a Masters degree? And working Night Audit at a small hotel is kinda relaxing for me atm.

      She’s the source of her own toxicity though, so I basically ignore her.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Sometimes a low pressure job in another field can be rewarding in its own ways. I spent some time pulling orders in a distribution warehouse after my unemployment ran out. If felt good that I was praised for some things that my previous employer said I didn’t have.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          Exactly. I get very tired of my relatives and friends of my parents accusing me of being “overeducated.” Sadly, I cannot get away with replying, “obviously not educated enough for jobs in my field” without starting massive arguments, though.

      2. kiki*

        I’ve definitely gone to school with people like this and it’s so frustrating. For one, so often it comes from out of touch people who don’t need to work for money. That sounds great, am a little jealous, but it’s just not the situation of most people.

        On top of that, I think working outside your field before grad school can be really helpful for your mental health and career. It can give you perspective and a better sense of resilience if something doesn’t go perfectly in grad school or the field you’re looking to get into. And I think there are always transferrable skills from any job. Retail wasn’t directly relevant to my eventual career, but my ability to to communicate with people from all walks of life has definitely been a boon I may not have gained without that retail experience.

        1. Jackalope*

          I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a lawyer friend about lawyers who were “KJD” lawyers, ie kindergarten-law school with no jobs, just school. Their first jobs ever were as lawyers, and this did NOT do them any favors. Apparently it tended to give them a huge sense of entitlement because they were used to being on the top all the time, and poor skills in dealing with, say, clients who were dealing with non-rich-people problems as well as the others they were working with (other lawyers, clerks, etc.). After hearing about this I kind of wanted to write to all the law schools around the country and tell them that they needed to require all of their applicants to have at least a year’s worth of experience at a minimum wage job (could be overlapping with school) in order to be accepted. Which they would almost certainly not go for, but it was a nice fantasy.

          1. EPLawyer*

            I worked as a paralegal for MANY years before law school. Throughout my years I noticed the ones who took my advice to be NICE to paralegal, secretaries, court personnel who were not judges, etc. had a higher bar passage rate than those who said “I’m the lawyer, they better listen to ME” attitude.

            Anecdotal, sure. But it shows that those who are willing to listen and learn do better than those who think they already know everything.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Years ago, I worked with a guy who told every single person he contacted that he was a lawyer. Dispute with his HOA? He’s a LAWYER. Arguing over his credit card points? He’s a LAWYER. He got mustard instead of mayo on his sandwich at the deli? LAW-YER.

              I believe a few people tried to speak with him about how he was coming across, but some of the folks ultimately pooled their money and bought him some joke business cards that had his name in tiny font and I AM A LAWYER in enormous print. He didn’t last long.

          2. Industry Behemoth*

            Yes. I knew someone who became a police officer as a second career, and he concluded that law enforcement should have a higher minimum age for applicants.

            By age 21, someone who grew up typically middle class may not have much real-life experience with less fortunate people. Then as an officer they suddenly have to deal directly with the worst elements of society.

          3. SarahKay*

            Honestly, if I ruled the world I would require everyone to have at least a year’s worth of experience at a minimum wage job (with exceptions for people who genuinely can’t work, obviously).

          4. MissMarple*

            I remember sitting in ConLaw listening to students who’d come straight through opine about Roe v Wade and thinking ‘oh, my rights are going to be taken away by people who drove straight here from the gated community they grew up in.’

          5. NotAnotherManager!*

            When I managed paralegals, I found that they came in two flavors – the arrogant kind who were trying to send paralegals (who knew more about them about the actual practice of law at that point) down the hall to fetch them pens and folders or the oh-crap-what-do-I-do-now sorts who either owned it and appreciated the assist or got pissy with people who wanted them to make final decisions on, you know, lawyer-level things because it may expose that they didn’t know crap.

            Having working experience – ANY working experience – made new associates much easier to deal with. Many of them are lovely people, some are perfectly fine people who don’t respond well to stress, some are arrogant jerks that the in-demand support team tried to be too busy to work with.

      3. kicking-k*

        Yep. I worked in various university admin/secretarial jobs when I was getting ready to do a professional qualification and came across a certain amount of “why are you doing this lowly job?” I had a “fancy” undergraduate degree and did have a Master’s, but not one that translated into anything very useful for the working world. I didn’t have any illusions about being able to walk into something more high-flown without experience; but it was worth doing the simpler job to the best of my ability and it was a good grounding in basic office skills.

    3. Angstrom*

      My first job after graduation included sweeping up and taking out the trash. Sure, I had a few “For this I spent four years in college?” thoughts, but I knew it was all part of being the newest employee at a tiny startup where everyone was expected to help out with whatever tasks needed to be done.
      In my experience, if you do the mundane stuff with a good attitude, colleagues are usually happy to teach you the more interesting work.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The thing I’m struggling with is – yes, all of this, AND he’s expecting a letter of recommendation from this place. “Counting on”, even. How absolutely up your own a** do you need to be to think that this place is going to want to do you a favor when you’re done, especially if your performance is already getting corrected?

      I agree with Alison that real life consequences are the only thing that can break this mindset but I just can’t help but OOF at the whole thing.

      (And unfortunately agree with another commenter that this guy is probably suffered no consequences and is doing very well in his career now, against all logic.)

        1. Boof*

          High chances this dude will kot make to or through medical school* or residency
          * maybe they’ll be able to do one of the expensive alt medical schools
          As a doc, and child of a doc, there’s no way i’d have such an entitled attitude towards work and there’s almost no way to make it through the intensely competitive and regimented training without a serious attitude adjustment
          (I suppose there’s always someone who would manage it somehow but it’d be tough!

    5. Totally Minnie*

      I used to be a librarian, and we saw a lot of fresh grads who thought they’d finish grad school and jump into a prestigious librarian job with no other library job experience. I was briefly in a mentorship program and I remember telling one mentee that I don’t know any librarians whose first job in a library was librarian. Most of us started as pages or clerks or paraprofessionals and worked our way up. So in the applicant pool, he was up against a lot of people who had his exact educational background, but also 5 years of library experience, so of course they were going to get more consideration. He adamantly refused to apply to anything other than a librarian job, though. I have no idea what became of him.

    6. Ms. Coffee*

      This #2 kid is applying to medical school?
      Um.. don’t medical residents get stuck being the low man on the totem poll, and having to do the tedious stuff?
      That kid seems like he is having a daily need to prove he’s important. If he does get into med school, it should be a rude awakening. (love to be a fly on the wall).

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        There’s even a term for it that specifically applies to med school: scut work. With his attitude, he’s going to be a scut for a loooong time, ESPECIALLY if he tries his entitlement on a nurse.

      2. Lyudie*

        That last part is my initial reaction too. He’s either going to have a rude awakening, or drop out complaining all the tedious stuff is beneath him. Honestly the second option is probably the best for society as a whole.

      3. Antilles*

        Um.. don’t medical residents get stuck being the low man on the totem pole, and having to do the tedious stuff?
        Not a doctor, but I’m 100% sure they do.
        Because this happens in all industries. Every occupation has tedious or boring tasks and those are inevitably the ones that get passed down to the more junior folks. Partly a “pay your dues” acceptance thing, but it’s also usually pure practicality – if a task can be done by anybody, it usually makes sense to have a junior staffer do it to free up the senior staffer to do tasks that only they can handle.

      4. Boof*

        Just to even do well in med school and get into a residency, which is the biggest bottle neck in the USA, you have to be an eager beaver helper (med schools are already really competitive but you can do some expensive alt routes – in the USA though there’s a limited number of residency slots for EVERYONE, slightly more slots than there are US medical graduates but all the foreign MDs and alt routes are also trying to get in as it’s the only way to practice medicine in the USA, so way more applicants than slots)
        Both because that is the way to get the most out of medical school (you are there to learn and work by doing) as well as to make all the medical teams like you and give you good grades, letters of rec, etc. I can’t see this guy getting past the medical school stage, even if they get in. I feel like maybe they are riding on the coat-tales of the IDEA of medical school; under grad was easy compared with anything else in the process (md+masters; residency; fellowship; attending)

    7. OrigCassandra*

      My sister had more than a dollop of this attitude. She got it from our parents, frankly. I do wonder who OP4’s friend has whispering in his ear.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I think another factor is suddenly being thrust into an environment where EVERYONE is “as smart” as you’re used to being, and that can’t earn you the kind of perks you’re used to in a scholastic environment.

      I remember reading on Slate about a guy who was really good at parts of his job but sucked at writing up findings (science related) and couldn’t understand why he couldn’t get hired anyway and have another team member “just take care of that stuff.” Uh, because actual companies don’t have to deal with your weak spots and will just hire somebody who can handle all aspects of the job?

    9. Strawberry Shortcake*

      I’ve known or known of a lot of people who were straight-A smarty-pantses or the star of a sports team who had to adjust to being in a situation where those accomplishments are meaningless. “You were top of the class? Cool! Anyway, please get that package down to the mailing room by the noon pickup, it really needs to get there by next week.” It’s really jarring! And annoying for the people around them…

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      And #4. I want to know if she had to move to Bora Bora and have extensive plastic surgery in order to escape her reputation as the Mad Choco Chomper.

  9. Purple Cat*

    Dying, #4 is probably the one and only time Alison will advise to ghost a job entirely. LOLOL

  10. Ellis Bell*

    I really hope OP2 stopped providing free emotional labour and counselling to somebody who “doesn’t want to be the “B****” of the office”. I actually don’t have much of an issue with the word bitch, but there’s definitely some excellently unexamined sexism going on right there if he’s describing junior admin work in that way.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I read it as a synonym for “dogsbody”, which I have seen a few times before. But yeah, definitely problematic the way he used it.

    2. ecnaseener*

      To be fair, I don’t see anything in the letter to suggest that LW’s providing anything on the level of emotional labor or counseling. They’re chatting with a friend about work and offering occasional advice, an extremely normal thing for friends to do.

      I would agree that if he’s sexist LW should stop being friends with him, but not because listening to someone complain about work is such a hardship.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      I believe he’s using prison lingo (which is pretty common here in the US…at least in shows like the Wire and orange is the new black). But yeah, he’s clearly highly entitled.

      1. MassMatt*

        To be fair, we have nearly 2 million people in prisons and jails, and far more awaiting trial or on probation, so it makes sense for the lingo to enter mass culture.

        1. Saddy Hour*

          Yup. The prison usage of the word is a lot more offensive to me than the “bitchy woman” usage of it. It’s still gendered, but with an added element of normalizing using femme-coded bodies for male pleasure, even/especially with questionable consent for that. It’s really gross anywhere, but it’s especially gross to refer to YOUR ACTUAL JOB with that kind of language, as if you’re being exploited by pulling your weight in the same way that some people are sexually abused.

    4. Nancy*

      Talking to friends about work and listening to each other complain is not free counseling, it’s a normal conversation that friends have.

  11. ThatgirlK*

    I wonder if its possible the office from #1 thought it was company sponsored event? If I saw a catered lunch and most of my co-workers eating I would assume it was for everyone and it was paid for by the company. I wonder how this one ended up. I assume COVID likely put it to a stop. If the office is back in person, I am curious if they pick the lunch back up.

  12. Tedious Cat*

    OP #2’s friend reminds me of a conversation between undergrads I overheard in the Aughts:

    Undergrad #1: I’ve never had a job.
    Undergrad #2 (genuinely horrified): Don’t say that out loud!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Oof, yeah. I fully entered the workforce in the wake of the ’08 crash and people with masters degrees were competing for jobs at Starbucks in droves – people with no work experience did not do well.

    2. new year, new name*

      I know lots of people like this (I went to a fancy school for undergrad) and the difference between their experience and mine is just so different, it’s funny. What were they doing with their time in the summers and school breaks?? I had my first summer job when I was 15 and I remember spending the previous summer feeling kinda ashamed/left out because where I lived you could get a work permit at 14 and all my friends were swanning around saying things like “oh, I can’t, I have to work” and being impossibly grown-up and cool. I/my family didn’t even need the money, but your only hope of social cachet in high school was to have a job – it was just such a deeply engrained part of the culture!

      1. Francie Foxglove*

        I was not allowed to work in high school, not even in the summer. My toxic mother did not want me:

        1. Taking orders from anyone except her
        2. Earning my own money, as opposed to her doling it out unconditionally and sparingly
        3. Being validated by other people/work I was doing, thus overriding her constant reminders that I was a broken person who couldn’t function without her “guidance”
        4a. Making social connections with other teenagers
        4b. Especially not boys who might ask me out.

        You can imagine how well this served me when I was 18 and finally permitted to look for a job. And what it did for my self-confidence when it started to sink it that people assumed lack of work experience = spoiled brat.

        1. Francie Foxglove*

          Doling out money *conditionally*! As in, she had to know specifically what I needed it for, and if she didn’t like the answer, no $.

        2. Appletini*

          If I weren’t an only child I’d think you were my sister. My mother was the same way and it didn’t serve me well either. *fistbump of solidarity*

      2. Ellis Bell*

        It’s much harder to get casual work than it used to be in some places. Younger people started saying this in about 2010s to me, and it’s just taken my nephew a year of getting blown off by cancelled MacDonalds interviews and online retail applications before he could land a job as a kitchen porter.

        1. new year, new name*

          Oh yeah, for sure! I grew up in a touristy area that was practically overflowing with hourly jobs, especially in the summers (this was about 20 years ago). It’s a little weird to think about how much of the local economy was running on teenagers, actually!

        2. MassMatt*

          That must be very location specific, because every store and restaurant around here has help wanted signs up.

          1. Reed Weird*

            Eh, I have friends experienced in food service and retail that got ghosted by restaurants and stores with signs posted begging for help. Some of them are just keeping signs up so they can blame overworking their employees and reducing service on “no one wants to work”. I’m looking at you, unnamed fabric chain…

          2. Ellis Bell*

            I’m sure it is regionally dependant! But that’s actually true of the casual workplaces around here too; loads of ads and signs but loads of young people still struggle to get hired, or even get in their application on time – even when they do, interviews are cancelled without notice. I am noticing a much older contingent in a lot of these jobs; people with a ton of life experience who are just shy of pension age. I’m not sure if that explains it all, but it’s the only explanation I can come by.

          3. Siege*

            There’s rumblings of a trend where a lot of those signs aren’t actually advertising jobs the boss intends to hire for. They’re up to placate employees, who are shouldering an increased workload for no pay increase “temporarily”, but not to actually hire anyone. I have no idea how long that will actually work, but in the US, anything that puts more money into the owner’s pocket will be tolerated infinitely, so maybe a while!

          4. Don't Call Me Shirley*

            But do they want daytime or late evening people, or more than 15 hours a week? There can be a need for workers that teenagers can’t fill.

      3. Miss Bookworm*

        My mom didn’t want me to work in high school, but she allowed my older sister to have a job. All her chores fell to me and whenever I complained, my mom was like “When you turn 15 and get a job you won’t have to do all the chores”. Well… she wouldn’t let me get a job when I turned 15; it turned into “Well, you need to get your license first because I can’t be driving you to work every day. I have to work myself.” Well, she wouldn’t pay for driving lessons, so how could I get a my license without a job? Plus, even if I had my license there was no car for me to use. Need a job to save money to get a car. Need a car to get a job. So didn’t get either in high school.

        I tried desperately in college to get a job, but I went to a university in a small town that didn’t allow undergrads living on campus to have cars (not that I had one, but it applies). This means that all the on campus jobs and the stores and restaurants within walking distance were fully staffed by upperclassman and any vacanies were filled before you even heard they were hiring. There were no other jobs within a reasonable walking distance.

        I graduated college without ever having a job. I did tutor but that didn’t give me much more than spending money. I also didn’t get my license (actually still don’t have it at 33, but I do have a job).

        Right after graduation, I sent my limited resume (basically just tutoring) to a couple staffing agencies thinking that temp jobs were my best bet and applied to a bunch of retail positions as well (by that time my mom had come to see the error of her ways and was now committed to helping me get to work). The first and third agencies ghosted me. The second had me come in for an interview and practically told me that I was worthless and they wouldn’t be able to help me until I had some usable job experience. After dozens of rejections, including every retail job, I put my resume on Monster or whatever the big job site was back in 2013. That netted me a temp job working for a company that was moving locations; they needed someone to scan and shred. That 2-3 week assignment turned into a full time job. I’m still there 10 years later (though I am desperately trying to find a new job—this one has become toxic).

  13. ZSD*

    LW #2, if you’re out there, please give us an update! What happened to your friend? Did he come around on his own? Learn his lessons the hard way? Not learn them at all?

  14. This Daydreamer*

    #4 is one of my all-time favorite letters and answers. I was recently in a bad mood and tried to find it with no luck, so I’m especially glad to see it now!

  15. Metadata Janktress*

    OP4, oh boy, do I feel this. I once was in my office alone gobbling down a chocolate bar after a super rough set of work tasks and my great-grandboss, the head of facilities, and a person who I think was a donor just waltzed in unexpectedly without knocking. Please keep in mind that I am low enough in the hierarchy that I never meet directly with great-grandboss and this was one of the very few times I’ve met them in person. YIKES.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      Eh, anyone that high up the hierarchy probably didn’t get there without a good understanding of the value of chocolate therapy :)

  16. Falling Diphthong*

    #2 He’s counting on letters of recommendation from this office for his applications.

    Oh. I wondered if he had been admitted to med school and took a 2 year deferral, or if “going to med school” was hypothetical but he felt like he needed a few years doing something easy.

    In the Peace Corps I worked with several volunteers who had taken a deferred med school admission. Every one of them made sure to go back a few months before school started because the local “If the bus didn’t come today, it may come tomorrow” mindset did not fit with med school.

  17. LB33*

    Not sure what goes into medical school acceptance, but would a recommendation from a job like this carry much weight? I could see if it were a medical related position but it sounds like it’s just a random admin role.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It’s a job. These are students, all work experience is valuable. I don’t know that you meant “random admin role” to be dismissive or insulting but c’mon – clearly it’s not so easy or inconsequential, as he’s doing quite poorly.

      1. Angstrom*

        Yup. Screwing up “simple” tasks like sending/mailing/shipping something on time or delivering messages can have serious consequences. It’s a character issue, not a skill issue.

      2. LB33*

        I meant that in the context of needing this job to provide letters of recommendation for Med school. The job doesn’t seem related so my question is if just any old job will do in terms of the rec, maybe he can find something he’ll at least be motivated enough not to screw up.

      3. Expelliarmus*

        My understanding is that LB33 doesn’t consider admin work as demeaning or anything like that, more so that they were curious as to whether this kind of work really makes someone stand out in medical school admission decisions. Especially since it doesn’t seem to involve working in a medical office.

        1. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

          I’m not sure why everyone took the comment by LB33 so harshly, I had the same reading as you.

          For a very personal example, I worked as floor staff on a psychiatric unit while applying to medical school, because I wanted both some medical experience and also a paycheck. During my time there, I also spent about two months filling in for the unit admin, who for very complicated reasons got very abruptly fired. When it came to talking about the job during interviews, the two months doing admin work were much less relevant than the rest of the year I spent doing actual patient care. It didn’t mean that it wasn’t work that was valuable to the unit, but it wasn’t work that was necessarily applicable to my medical school application.

    2. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      It isn’t a strong reference for med school. A volunteer role in the med field or an academic reference is probably better, and a couple years working unrelated admin doesn’t strengthen the autobiographical sketch. Someone can be a crummy random admin but do better as a paramedic or a daycare worker, and I could probably talk those roles up as better choices. But doing volunteer work might be a better way to get the relevant references.

    3. EmKay*

      iTs jUsT a RaNdOm AdMiN rOlE

      I will not type out what I am thinking right now, because it’s very rude and would (rightly) get me banned from this site, which I love.

      Signed, and Administrative Assistant

      1. LB33*

        My apologies – I only meant random in the context of a medical school application (as opposed to working in a hospital or some other med related job)

        My mom was an AA for decades so I get it!

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I interpreted your comment as just meaning that it’s unrelated to medical work, for what it’s worth. I know when I applied for the post-grads in teaching, they were only interested in work experience related to teaching or at least work with children/young people.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m honestly surprised at the ire this is generating. A random admin role is one of many jobs that seems an odd choice for someone trying to pave their way into med school. Also an accounting role, or an electrician’s apprentice role, or a recurring role playing a nurse on a soap, or any number of other roles.

        There is some level of “take any role, do it exceptionally well, demonstrate that you can learn from that unlikely role and cross-apply it” that might describe the path through a non-obvious job of someone who gets into medical school. His blowing up that part by doing the role poorly is separate from why he took this role as a stepping stone to medical school in the first place.

        Like, it’s a lab, so being a lab tech might develop cross-over skills and also get you recommendations from people who do medical research, or clearly cross-applicable research. But being the admin for the lab–or the bookkeeper, or grant application writer–doesn’t obviously demonstrate physician skills, and doing the role poorly means he isn’t using this as “admin foot in the door, then lab tech, then researcher, then apply to med school” that might make sense.

        1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

          Yeah, to me he’s frustrated because he thought there would be relevant work, even if it was scut work, because relevant experience is very important. I would advise him to look for another job rather than do this one poorly, but a job not fitting into your ambitions happens.

      3. DisgruntledPelican*

        Wow. There’s so much better ways to use your time then getting this bent out of shape by someone pointing out that an admin job is not a resume booster for someone trying to get into med school.

    4. cryptid*

      It sounds like it’s in a lab (“the rest of the lab is swamped”), which may be more relevant even if it’s admin stuff – it could be data crunching for drug development or a research study, for example. The application process has room for many different experiences, and if he can spin it as research work that could be very good.

      Having gone through the process this year, I’m very curious how this worked out for him. I can’t imagine taking the mcat and doing well with this kind of fundamental laziness, not to speak of how my interviews really stressed how much medicine is trying to recruit people who deeply care about others and helping.

    5. nightengale*

      Sadly not as much as it should.

      If I ran the med schools (I am a doctor and do a little teaching of med students but am not on the faculty of any medical schools)

      I would require a work or volunteer commitment with:
      at least 2 hours a week for 6 months or the equivalent in hours over a summer or otherwise condensed
      working with people outside of coworkers in some way
      required letter of reference from someone who supervised you

      “Working with people” could be tutoring, it could be a camp counselor, it could be volunteering in a nursing home, it could be retail or food service. Working in a lab would not count unless working directly with people being studied in some way. I would allow for it to be paid or volunteer and let people use work they were already doing so it would not add a financial hardship. The problem of requiring only retail is that some people might not physically be able to do that work (I could not) but can still work as a physician). So this is the most equitable way I could figure out to ensure some experience doing something that involved interfacing with other humans.

      Signed – a doctor who taught school between college and med school and found that much more relevant to what she does daily than any of the math or physics “premed” classes that were required.

  18. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I got into my career field because of a #3. He had a history of dramatically quitting on a Friday, then coming in on Monday and taking it back. I had been hired as a temp to assist him on a project for six months and he quit (again) on my first Friday. Only when he came in on Monday, they told him no, they weren’t letting him take it back this time. I worked my six months temp, then was hired permanently into his position and have been steadily progressing upward in the field for the last nineteen years.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      That’s kind of hilarious. I mean, what did he think would eventually happen?

      I’m glad you got the job and are doing well. I bet the people you work with are, too.

    2. H.Regalis*

      I have this not at work but with the guy who was running one of the TTRPG games I play in. We’ve had a number of instances where when he hasn’t gotten his way it’s been, “Guys, I don’t know if I can run this anymore. I’m going through a lot right now and I don’t feel like you are being supportive of me,” and now we’re all thoroughly over his shit. After the last flounce he’s trying to walk it back, and none of us are having it.

    3. Maisy Daisy*

      The guy who was the accountant in our office for a quasi-governmental agency with an interesting past was becoming increasingly obnoxious to those who were not his superiors. He had been asking for raises but the organizations budget was set by Congress so that was not happening. His work was ok but then he started doing some weird stuff. He tried to rifle throught the my boss’s, the HR director, trash looking for info he could use. He found out about a staff member’s medical condition and talked about it around the office. He went to the U.S. hometown of of one of our overseas managers and asked questions about the man as if he was a gov’t investigator. When a temp was hired to replace his staffer on maternity leave, he and the temp would go out for long lunches and return stoned. The rest of us surmised that the powers-that-be did not want to fire him because he had learned some confidential info the company did not want publicly disclosed (there was plenty and I had my own share!) and this guy was not above either spilling it, using it forextortion for his own gain, or suing for wrongful termination.
      So early one Monday morning he walked into his boss’s office and threw down the newspaper with all the job ads showing salaries for accountants circled and said, if he did not get an immediate raise, he would quit. His boss quickly replied that his resignation was accepted since there would be no raise. After a quick check with the lawyers, a formal resignation letter including a stiff non-disclosure clause was presented for his signature in exchange for a final paycheck including severance. While this was going on, someone packed up his stuff and he was walked out an hour before lunch.

    1. londonedit*

      ‘Unhinge my jaw like a snake’ is surely one of the best lines from any letter on here!

  19. madge*

    OP1: I’d cancel and take myself out to one hell of a lunch with my $60. Or Option #4 makes sense.

    OP2: Oh, sweet summer child. He won’t last long in med school if he can’t handle being treated like a “b—-“. If he miraculously does, residency will eat him alive. Also, someone needs to explain to him that offices simply stop functioning when support roles are done by subpar people; they are that important.

    OP3: Alison is spot on. Plus, if they terminate him, they might have to pay unemployment.

    OP4: Laughed so hard at this because I have done it and the mortification just rushed right back anew. The cat and dog are now scared of me.

  20. Blue*

    #2 The LW left a comment on the original post saying

    “[He] truly excels in other areas of his life due to extreme effort put in. These happen to be areas that he is very passionate about or sees valuable for his future”

    And combined with the other parts of the letter, this reminds me of some of my peers in school. There was a specific type high-achieving, ambitious student that was always hyper-fixated on “not being taken advantage of” and how any given task would benefit themselves and generally uninterested in things for the common good (such as sending out coworker’s package).

    Assuming the friend is similar, it’s not that they can’t work hard, it’s that they won’t, because this job and these tasks are insufficiently important unlike the other areas of their life. And IME, the only way to get them to change their outlook on the specific task/job at hand is to explicitly link it to a material benefit to themselves. So mentioning how it’ll affect their letters of recommendation (and thus, their med school application) is probably their best bet.

    1. Critical Rolls*

      I can see this as unenlightened self interest. Everything is independently transactional to some people; if they can’t see a clear benefit to themselves from a specific task, they don’t care about it. This type of person gets in a lot of trouble when they don’t have the knowledge to do a good cost/benefit analysis (such as someone who’s completely unfamiliar with the working world). And they can also get tripped up by “soft” benefits such as network building; sequential benefits, such as earning trust by performing less interesting tasks in order to get different or better tasks assigned; and long term/accumulated benefits, such as doing specific tasks over time to get on overall positive reference.

  21. I should really pick a name*

    LW1 has already told their mother what they think, so I don’t think there’s anything to be done after that. If their mother wants to keeping dealing with that mess, it’s her decision.

    1. Sunflower*

      That’s kind of what I think too. It’s the mom’s choice. She may resent forking over $60-100 but it’s her own free will if she continues. However the OP can tell her mom that she won’t listen to any complaints if mom continue to pay.

  22. Snooks*

    The potluck ladies need to send out an email along the lines of “Potlucks are being suspended to allow for reorganization.” Then do nothing.

    1. linger*

      I like that phrasing, because anyone who asks about it can be warmly thanked for volunteering to take over organizing the next one.

  23. Dogmomma*

    the guy that doesn’t want to work…he’s btwn undergrad and MED SCHOOL??? Is he aware he can’t coast through that? or his residency where he’s RESPONSIBLE for people and their care? or that as an intern, he’s basically going to do grunt work or anything else he’s going to be assigned?
    He won’t last long unless he has a pretty big attitude change..I hope.
    retired RN here– I wouldn’t want him on my unit

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It sounds like he does know med school is important and he has to work hard, which is why he considers this job beneath him.

      However your point about the grunt work interns do…I bet this is the intern who tries to boss nurses around. Never ends well for them.

    2. El l*

      I bet “he works hard” = “he studies hard”. Which isn’t the same thing.

      This is a major attitude issue. Whatever status a doctor has, doesn’t matter – everyone has years and years of menial things before they can say, “This is an inefficient use of my time.”

      He’s going to get smacked in the face by reality. No way around that.

    3. A doctor who's old but not that old*

      There has been a major change over the past several years where some interns and residents feel that they should only be doing things that benefit their learning. They don’t seem to understand that they now have a job where they are getting paid, and part of that pay is for stuff they don’t enjoy doing.

      I actually had a resident tell me that he didn’t want to write patient encounter notes anymore because he didn’t feel that it was a useful learning experience. And then he was shocked when my response was not, “oh, if you don’t find it useful, then of course we’ll find someone else to do it instead.” Genuinely shocked. And he’s not that much of an outlier.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Wow, and the idea that patient encounter notes are useful to the patient in question – and not just some kind of medical make-work – must have been shocking to him. (Not to mention the fact that giving the info to someone else to write up means that there is now a layer of interpretation between his experience and whoever reads those notes next. Which can introduce inaccuracies. Which is bad for the patient’s medical treatment.)

  24. Meowymeow*

    I feel like I’m missing something with LW1 – whoever paid for the food “owns” the food, right? So that means their mom “owns” 6 meals, and she can give (or not give) them to whoever she wants – or at the very least whoever is purchasing the meals has ownership over them and has the authority to say “ you didn’t pay, so you don’t eat”. I get that it might seem rude, but as Alison often reminds readers – you’re not the rude one. The person forcing your hand is. BUT – big but – I’m self-employed so I don’t understand office politics and I would assume there might be a lot of that going on here?

    1. NeedRain47*

      catered meals don’t come in individual servings, they come in “big tray of lasagna” (or whatever). Unless someone is going to sit there and guard it aggressively from people who didn’t pay, they’re gonna need a better plan.

      1. Meowymeow*

        Oh, I totally agree. I just don’t think that anyone in the office who is arguing that they should get a meal – or *bringing Tupperware* (!?!) – without paying has a leg to stand on. It shouldn’t cause office drama; those taking food without paying after it has been explained firmly to them should be really embarrassed. What I’m not understanding is how it shouldn’t be causing tension when one group of people are so clearly in the wrong. It strikes me as crazy, and the kind of people who I would absolutely not want to be around.

  25. ijustworkhere*

    #1 It is possible the other employees did not know that this was not a company sponsored event. We do option 4 and it works out fine.

    #3 I’m laughing because this was exactly what happened to my slacker BIL who had loafed off on his job for years (unionized, so he did barely enough to avoid discharge). He got mad one day, resigned, came home and my SIL read him the riot act telling him they could not afford for him to be without a job. He went back the very next day, trying to rescind his resignation and they said “sorry buddy, we have already processed it.”

  26. El l*

    I hope I never get the subject of OP2’s letter as a doctor. He may study hard, but otherwise he sounds like he’s completely lacking in judgment or maturity.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      What’s wrong with that? Besides that they should be embarassed you had to pump in your car.

  27. Unrepentant Chocoholic*

    OP #4: I know I’m late to the party, but I have to say: If I were your boss, I’d be impressed! XD
    Besides, unhinging one’s jaw like a snake is perfectly acceptable when there’s chocolate involved…

  28. Sunflower*

    #1. I hope there’s an update.

    My choice would be ordering individual boxed lunches, throw in the $10, or opt out of this thing. I’m imaging the things I can buy if I have an extra $50+ a month instead of using it to subsidize lunches for my coworkers.

    Since they contribute $60-100 per month (instead of just $10), that’s an extra $600-$1080 per year.

    I would be happy to throw in a bit more money if someone is having financial trouble but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

  29. Art3mis*

    I’m sure that #2’s friend is a Dr now, telling his patients that it’s all in their head and that they should just lose some weight.

  30. Sister George Michael*

    I feel sorry for the office manager in #3 who had to deal with the fallout from this idiot’s decision while they were on vacation!

  31. JelloStapler*

    #1 re “Potluck”:
    “You keep using that word- I do not think it means what you think it means” /Inigo Montoya

  32. HelloFromNY*

    This reminds me of when I attended a private school for undergrad. The vast majority of my classmates were having their schooling and housing paid by their parents. None of them had ever worked before. I was using financial aid and working 30+ hours a week at a retail place. I joined an academic club that participated annually in an out of state national conference. I couldn’t get time off work to go to the event. Both my peers and the faculty advisor were offended that I was “choosing” my job over this opportunity. I calmly explained that I was choosing being able to pay my rent and keep the lights on. They were flabbergasted at this concept.

  33. Keyboard Cowboy*

    I’m so excited that #4 got reposted. This is one of my all-time favorites and I have struggled to find it in order to post to a friend on multiple occasions.

  34. Buffy Rosenberg*

    These type of lunch events so often cause far more trouble than they’re worth.

    If you must organise a communal lunch like this (and I can see how its a nice thing to do occasionally), I’d be inclined to go around and take orders, and payments, person by person.

    That also helps ensure people’s allergies/preferences/etc get taken into account.

    Or, accept you’re choosing to order a whole bunch of food and write off the costs of some people not paying. (I wouldn’t want to do this, it doesn’t seem fair at all, but then I wouldn’t want to make myself responsible for organising this type of thing, and this is partly why.)

    I do wonder if there’s any way that coworkers misunderstood this situation, and thought it was communal, or company-provided, but then, it says the mother was having arguments with coworkers about it! So presumably they were made aware and… what, argue they should just get free food? That’s amazing.

    It’s a shame but I just wouldn’t think the lunch event is worth it. A restaurant or individual orders is better.

  35. H3llifIknow*

    LW1: I was kinda your Mom. I started a “Sunshine Fund” at my office. Everyone contributed $2 per month and it was enough for me to do a cake and bday card for a monthly Birthday. First, several people just stopped paying and would say, “I’ll catch up” and never did. Then a pattern developed of people paying until their bday month and then saying, “I don’t want to be a member anymore” and quitting. Yet somehow, all the cake got eaten every month and EVERYONE ate it, including the quitters. I ended up paying for cakes and cards for a year out of my own pocket so nobody got shortchanged. Everyone was shocked SHOCKED I tell you, when I disbanded it.

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