quitting right after a party, mentioning nude modeling at work, and more

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

1. Can I quit right after a fancy work party?

Is it a good idea to wait to submit my notice until the Monday after a big work party on Saturday?

I desperately want to quit my job. My coworkers are friendly and the workplace is the furthest thing from toxic; it’s just a terrible fit for me personally. I’m afraid it’s actually affecting my mental health. I’m only a month in, but I’m furiously looking for a new job and may actually quit without another one locked down. I could write a whole other question about just this part, but I’ll leave it there for now.

However, my company is holding a fancy soiree at a swanky hotel in about a month. There will be live music, gourmet food, and an open bar. I think this would be a joy to attend, a bright spot in an otherwise dark time, and am considering holding on until then. That said, it feels disingenuous to reserve a spot to go, making my company spend all this money on me, while actively fueling my rocket ship to blast off from Planet Crippling Work Depression.

I’d feel more comfortable attending if I could wait a month or so after the event before quitting, but given that my supply of motivation is already plummeting straight into the negatives, I want to leave as soon as possible. Would it be bad form to reserve a spot for this shindig only to announce I’m leaving as soon as the day after the happening? It’s also possible I end up bouncing before the bash if things in my life pan out that way. I’m pretty confident that announcing my departure beforehand and still attending the hootenanny is A Bad Idea, but I don’t know how soon is too soon after. Should I just skip the work gala and throw my own rager with friends instead?

If your job is affecting your mental health and you would quit now if it weren’t for this party … quit now. No party — well, no work party — is going to be great enough to justify staying.

But if you’re still there in a month (because you decide not to quit without something else lined up), you don’t need to take the party timing into account at all. If you quit right after it, it’s just going to look like that’s how the timing happened to work out. People are really unlikely to think you waited so you could attend the party first, and they’re not going to resent spending the money on you (they’re spending most of that money regardless of whether one particular person attends or not, and the per-person cost isn’t likely to be significant to them).

Either way, a rager with your friends sounds like an excellent idea, whether it’s in addition to or in place of the work party.

2. Is it inappropriate to talk about nude modeling about work?

I work in a traditionally formal space but in a more casual team. Sharing about social lives and personal interests is really encouraged culturally and is built into our weekly meetings. As a result, I know a fair amount about my coworkers’ passions/hobbies and personal lives.

One of my ongoing interests outside of work is life modelling, aka nude modelling for artists. I have been doing it on and off for years. It brings a great deal of joy to my life, and I love having a totally different creative environment outside of work. I have not shared this with my colleagues, because of the nudity of it all. I have been acting under the assumption that mentioning life modelling at work is just a no-go, even when encouraged to share about personal lives. I’m generally fine with that, but I’m curious what you think? Can I ever mention it without it being seen as unprofessional?

It is probably worth mentioning in my case that while I am very qualified and much appreciated, I am also the youngest member of my team. I have been warned by a colleague (outside of my direct team) that some people in my field will discount my opinion as a “very young presenting, good looking woman.”

I wouldn’t mention it. I wish it didn’t matter, but in general it’s not helpful to say something that will immediately cause some portion of your coworkers to picture you naked (and not even necessarily in a prurient way; it’s just how minds sometimes work). That goes double when you’re among the youngest on a team and a woman.

3. How to explain why I’m wearing a mask at work

I work in an office where it seems like someone is always sick and nobody ever (and I mean ever) covers their mouths when they cough. One worker was so sick that it sounded like they were about to cough up a lung and they never covered their mouths (or wore a mask). It makes me angry because even before Covid, it was a major pet peeve when sick people didn’t at least try to contain their germs. Most of the people who work there are at boss level, so it’s not like I can say anything, even politely. Even during Covid they would snidely brag about how they would try to get around certain safety protocols. One lower level worker was out for about a week and a half and I heard one of the top level people basically chiding them for wearing a mask.

I’m vaccinated (and a germaphobe) so I’m about as protected as I know how to be, but I just hate that people seem to think spreading germs is okay as long as it isn’t Covid. I understand that people have to work even when they’re sick. My issue is they don’t even try to cover their mouths.

I have a vacation coming up soon and I’ve decided to wear a mask for a while before I’m supposed to go. I don’t want to risk catching something before a trip that I am really looking forward to and that cost a lot of money to book. I know they’re going to say something because they seem to be so anti-mask. I haven’t been with this company for very long so I don’t want to tick anyone off but I don’t want to risk getting sick because they don’t understand basic manners of covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. How do I respond without offending them when they inevitably ask about my mask? (I personally don’t care if they’re offended. I just don’t like confrontations or passive aggressive comments/behavior, both of which they seem to do a lot.)

“My doctor recommended it.” I’m sure your doctor would be happy to recommend it if you explained the situation.

4. How do I tell my employee’s friend I’m never going to hire him?

For some reason, a close friend of one of my employees has decided that their ideal career path involves working for me. He’s looking to make a career change, and so he’s applying for jobs he doesn’t have any experience with, and he’s openly dismissive of the talents and skills of my current employees (including his friend). There is nothing tempting about taking this guy on.

The two of them are bizarrely certain that I will hire him eventually, so any job openings we have are taken as a sign that it’s his moment now, and the hints and awkward conversations start. Unfortunately, I am likely to continue to see him in social settings from time to time (he’s been using these as opportunities for impromptu interviews — I ask a small talk question and get “why you should hire me” as a reply — annoying!), and so I want to politely but clearly let him know that I’m not going to be hiring him (not just for the current job he’s applying for, but for any of them). Any suggested wording, or points I should hit?

Is there some clear reason you can give to explain why he won’t be a strong candidate for any of the jobs on your team — like no experience in X or inability to work the hours you need or so forth? If so, that’s the easiest way to do it: “I’ve seen you’ve applied for a few different openings now, so I want to be up-front with you that to be a competitive candidate, you’d need XYZ. The fit isn’t right for any of the jobs I hire for, but I wish you the best in finding the right position.”

If there isn’t something straightforward like that to offer, then you could say, “I appreciate your interest in our work. I don’t think the fit is right for any of the roles we hire for so I won’t be able to consider your candidacy any further, but I wish you the best in finding the right position.”

It sounds like you also might need to talk to the person who works for you, to explain that you’ve determined his friend isn’t strongly enough matched with any of the jobs on your team.

{ 318 comments… read them below }

  1. Just why*

    For #4 I think the issue may lie in that you’ve been too polite or non-committal in the past and I second Alison’s advice to give them specifics.
    Worst case scenario, make up specific skills your current employee/their friend has that they absolutely need.

    1. Other Alice*

      I would be wary of being too specific, though. Like, don’t say you need to be certified or know XYZ system. Otherwise there is a small risk that next time they’ll open with “I took a course in XYZ so now you’ll hire me, right?”

      1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        That’s the same advice they give for dealing with boundary crossers. A simple no doesn’t provide a reason that they can contest.

        1. MassMatt*

          The OP has said they won’t hire this person, because they are rude and not taking no for an answer. I wouldn’t either.

      2. joan*

        IF you compare his lack of experience to his friend’s, even citing that resume, to both, it may help. It’s possible it’ll make your coworker feel complimented as well as realize the friend doesn’t have those skills.
        It’s the old “divide & conquer” move. Friend can’t put down your coworker’s resume, if he has any brain at all. If he does, he’s just making your point for you.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Lying is never a good solution to problems like these.

      It’s much better to be straight up honest and tell him that he does not have the skillset (which includes soft skills like not realizing that he’s not qualified; whether you include that is up to you).

    3. Buffy Rosenberg*

      I could imagine that inadvertently running into a legal risk, although I’m not a lawyer (or an American!) so I don’t know.

      But if the would-be candidate is a member of a protected class then couldn’t it be argued that the LW applied a different standard to this person than others?

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Also not a lawyer, but Alison’s comments over the year suggest that the bar is higher than just “this person is a member of a protected class” (in fact, gender is protected, so everyone is a member of a protected class).
        There would need to be proof that they are treating this person differently BECAUSE of the protected class.

        1. Lilo*

          Yes, everyone is technically a member of a protected class. You can’t use the categories as a reason not to hire someone, but you’re free not to want to hire someone for a legal reason, no matter their demographics. If this guy for instance, has displayed bad behavior in past interviews, you’re fine.

      2. MassMatt*

        Being a jerk is not a protected class. It’s a perfectly valid reason for not hiring someone, along with the reasons the LW mentioned.

    4. MassMatt*

      I would actually go further than Alison and say basically what the LW a wrote in their letter.

      “You do not have the experience or skills we need to work here. You have been dismissive of the experience and skills of people who do, which is rude. I have told you no, and you keep acting as though I am going to hire you. I will not. Please stop asking, especially when I see you in social situations and you attempt to turn basic pleasantries into a job interview. Please stop!”.

      I would have a similar conversation with the employee who keeps harping on it.


      1. Princess Sparklepony*

        This would hopefully shut it down. It’s definite and not wishy washy. But a lot of people have problems being this direct. But it’s the truth. And in a way, would be a kindness to the person.

  2. Aelswitha*

    My 84-year-old Mom took a bus trip to see Hamilton a couple of weeks ago, was teased for wearing her mask, and stopped. Brought a cold home. Gave to it to Dad (85), who’s had pneumonia several times, and ended up in bed for a week. Gave it to my brother who lives with them. I seem to have escaped by masking when visiting and throwing snacks from the bedroom doorway. We’re all vaxxed up the wazoo but still: I suppose we’re lucky it wasn’t COVID.

    Wear that mask. Everyone else can just mind their beeswax.

    1. The Rafters*

      Absolutely. I had cancer during the worst of COVID and I still wear a mask. A few relatives were very upset that I still wore a mask and tried to start trouble at a FUNERAL over it. I totally ignored them and moved on.

      1. not a hippo*

        My dad also went through cancer treatment during the height of COVID. He’s in his 70s so even without being severely immunocompromised, he’s still at risk!!

        People who don’t wear masks are inconsiderate buffons.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Do you mean masks when you’re sick or mask every time you’re out in public?

        2. lilsheba*

          I agree. And you don’t need to explain anything about wearing a mask, it’s way more important to protect yourself and anyone else your family or household you need to. I mask up when going inside places and people can just deal with it.

      2. Greige*

        Who are these people? I still wear a mask to protect others in public, and no one gives me trouble about it. That’s not normal. You need new friends.

        1. Owlet101*

          They are probably QAnon people. We love them for the people they were before this mess.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          I really do not understand people who take offence at others wearing a mask. Like it only benefits them. The only thing I can think of is that it might make them feel guilty about not doing it themselves. But it is really such a weird thing to be offended by.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            I think that’s it exactly. They interpret it as criticizing them for not masking and get defensive.

            1. GingerNP*

              yep, that’s the one. I mean, also, a subset of the population has just been walking around believing Covid is a hoax AND ALSO that it is a bioweapon that was created by the Chinese AND ALSO that they can’t breathe with masks on because they’re being forced to rebreathe their own CO2 BUT ALSO that masks don’t even stop germ particles so why would we wear them.
              It’s been an exhausting 3 years.

            2. Reba*

              Yeah, I see it as the same impulse that makes some people aggressive about vegans and cycling — a “grrr you think you’re better than me” reaction.

              1. SarahKay*

                I read a fascinating article from the BBC a few months ago that said that (here in the UK) research showed that the only group getting the same stigma as vegans were drug-addicts.
                It posited that this was due to people being aware that potentially eating less meat than the standard western diet is actually probably the healthier thing to do, but we don’t want to change our eating habits. And we can ignore the difference between what we think and what we do until a vegan shows up – at which point we can either accept we’re not doing what we think we should, or we can tell ourselves that vegans are smug preachy so-and-sos that we can safely despise, and carry on merrily with our meat-eating.
                Google for BBC “The hidden biases that drive anti-vegan hatred” to read it; it definitely shows why anti-maskers might have so much dislike for those of us that still mask.

                1. Saddy Hour*

                  I think the vocal anti-vegan, anti-cyclist, and anti-mask stances tend to follow this pattern, yes. But I think it’s a two-part thing. Each of these has a personal, individual benefit of being healthier than the alternative. But each also has a *communal* benefit. Veganism and cycling are both considerably more environmentally friendly than the mainstream alternatives, and both communities tend to draw people who engage in activism for their cause and for other related causes. Masking is often used to prevent spreading illness to others, rather than protecting yourself from it (though I think the latter is smart too). There’s been a fair bit of activism around that as well, which ties in to activism for public health initiatives in general.

                  So there’s not just the kneejerk reaction to someone benefiting from actions that would help you as an individual, but also the kneejerk reaction to someone who appears more selfless and community-minded than you are. If you see yourself as a good person who makes good choices and helps others, the realization of how your choices might actually be selfish can be…jarring, sometimes to the point of rage towards the people who made you question yourself.

                  Unfortunately, that kneejerk reaction can be really harmful if it’s your coworkers or (especially) your bosses. I think OP3 should absolutely mask before their trip and should use a neutral stock phrase (like Alison’s) if she’s pushed on it. But I don’t envy that position at all. It’s unsettling when people displace their anger and self-doubt on you. I wish there was a more clear-cut answer to shut it down.

            3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

              which annoys me. I’m allergic to everything and weak to illnesses. If I’m out that’s a trouble to everyone

            4. Sasha*

              People get weirdly offended by all kinds of entirely inoffensive things – vegans, mask wearers, people who don’t own cars, and all aspects of both having and not having children.

              Nobody is doing any of those things *at* anyone. It is a very odd perspective to take.

              1. Distracted Librarian*

                Yup. Some people see anyone making a different choice as a commentary on their own choice. Entirely nonpolitical example: back in the early days of the internet, a friend demanded to know, rather belligerently, why I didn’t just get an AOL account like she did instead of the independent ISP account I had.

          2. Willow Pillow*

            I expect there’s some denial/inability to handle the circumstances too – it’s a lot harder to pretend something isn’t an issue with all those visual reminders.

          3. Random Dice*

            It’s not about masks, it’s about membership.

            They see it as Us – the Good Guys – and Them – the evil Other, who they hate, because 24/7 propaganda tells them to hate and to hurt.

            There’s no logic that can counter propaganda fueled groupthink.

            This LW is going to be identified as Them for wearing a mask, and it’ll impact future opportunities at this workplace. It sucks.

        3. J*

          Not the original poster but I had a very similar experience. Except it was at a Covid funeral. Like the person literally died of Covid and his mom (my MIL) laughed at my cancer surviving, lung and heart damaged self for asking. And then other relatives enabled it. It shouldn’t be normal but this sadly is. And now my husband’s coworkers ask him why he masks, like me being disabled or him losing his brother aren’t good enough reasons. I can survive the pandemic but I don’t know if I’ll survive people.

        4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          Two answers: one is that the aggressive anti-masking is more common in some areas than others, where “area” isn’t just New England/Southern US or Britain/Taiwan, but smaller areas within that.

          The other is that peer pressure works in varying ways. If most of your friends are masking, the occasional non-masker in the social group is unlikely to tell you to stop masking. If few people are masking, it’s more likely that one of the non-maskers will aggressively try to talk them out of it.

          The proportions vary, but just about any large group contains at least one aggressive jackass, probably more than one, and here and now, the aggressive jackasses are hassling people for wearing masks. It’s the same kind of people, if not the exact same people, who find a reason to tell you that you parked wrong, or criticize everyone else’s lunch choices.

    2. Shiba Dad*

      My wife has a chronic autoimmune condition that is treated with a medication that suppresses her immune system. We wear masks when going to do stuff in an indoor setting (shopping, concerts, etc.). Surprisingly, no one has said a word to us, though we’ve gotten some looks from time to time.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My experience both in New England (where I live) and the Deep South (where I go to visit family) is that some people are masked, and everyone just goes about their day.

        I believe people when they say they’ve gotten flak in meat space, but I think it is pretty rare in most social groups–much rarer than people online anonymously proclaiming how they would so totally go off on someone.

        1. Shiba Dad*

          This seems accurate to me. People have more “bravery” online, anonymously or not, than they do in person.

        2. NotRealAnonForThis*

          I think its also highly dependent on where you happen to live. I’m in Trump country. Ask me how masking went, even during the height of things. I had a stranger legit try to remove my mask from my face. I’ve had people scream all sorts of lovely things at me over it.

          The screamers are easy to pretend you don’t realize its directed at you. The stranger, well, my hands came up FAST.

        3. Totally Minnie*

          I live in a red state and still wear a mask most of the time, and I haven’t been asked about it since I stopped working in customer service. Generally, if your just an anonymous person going about your day, the other anonymous people can’t be bothered to care.

        4. Bibliothecarial*

          I work a service desk in a purplish Midwest state in the US and there is a large number of regulars who will absolutely make negative comments if I wear a mask. They aren’t in my social group outside of work but they must be amping each other up. I tell them I forgot to floss that morning, which breaks the tension a bit.

          1. Rural Juror*

            Ha! That’s a good one!

            I have a coworker who still masks in the office. I’ve never asked my because it’s none of my business, but tidbits from conversations with him point towards a vulnerable family member. One other coworker gives him a hard time and that person is very offended when others tell them to stop. If he wants to wear a mask, he can wear a mask. He’s come up with some quippy responses to that jerk. I wish I could remember them!

            1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

              Here’s one I just came up with on the fly– it might be perceived as overly aggressive, but I’m in A Whole Mood about people harassing folks for wearing masks. I imagine saying it with strong “Bless your heart” energy:

              “If you want my germs so bad, I’m happy to spit in your coffee for you.”

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                Yes, my son was on the bus wearing a mask and people were making Comments, till he started coughing.

                They shut up then.

        5. ShysterB*

          I’ve not gotten flak when commuting on trains, or attending meetings. But I HAVE gotten a LOT of comments when serving as a poll-worker — from a special election that was held immediately after the shutdown in March 2020, through primaries and generals ever since (most recently in November 2022). There’s a fair percentage of my neighbors who feel necessary to comment on my mask, in addition to demanding I require photo ID of all voters (though our jurisdiction does not require it) while at the same time objecting to signing the electronic pollbook (a form of verification our jurisdiction DOES require) because they don’t want the government to have an image of their signature. (As if the Board of Elections doesn’t ALREADY have it, given that the same electronic pollbook shows the signature from their original voter registration.)

          Anyway, I digress.

          1. Lana Kane*

            “while at the same time objecting to signing the electronic pollbook (a form of verification our jurisdiction DOES require) because they don’t want the government to have an image of their signature. ”

            *blinks* what?

            1. ShysterB*

              In Pennsylvania, when you check in to vote, you sign the pollbook. Until last year, the poll-book was hard-copy — we poll-workers flip to the page with the voters name. Next to the voters name is an image of the signature from when they registered to vote in that county.

              Some counties (including mine, as of the general election this past November) have moved to electronic versions of that pollbook on an iPad. I had at least 8-10 voters (including 4 from one family) who balked at signing because they didn’t want the government to have an electronic version of their signature. Which the government already has, because that’s how the hard-copy pollbooks were printed. And which is ALREADY in the system on the iPad so the day-of-voting signature is comparable to the on-record version.

              Which is on your tax forms when you submit them … or driver’s license applications (and therefore driver’s license itself) … or any number of OTHER places.

      2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        During the height of Covid, my 4-year-old son (who has febrile siezures) and I were wearing masks to the grocery store and an older woman stopped him and said he didn’t have to wear one anymore because “children don’t catch Covid”. Luckily my son liked wearing his mask (fun decorative ones with an extra filter in them) so he ignored her but like….f off lady.

        Luckily that was the only time anyone said anything.

      1. mlem*

        I have chronic rhinitis — I can perform a looooong, evocative sniffle on command. I don’t get commentary in my area, but I’m mentally practicing a snorfle followed by “what, you want this too?”

    3. RLS*

      Haven’t taken off my mask since 2020….no Covid for me or my husband. But apparently that’s hard to grasp.

    4. Beth*

      You can always say “My spouse/relative/parent/best friend is immunocompromised/a germophobe/a worry-wart/always asks me if I’m wearing a mask at work, and it’s just easier to be able to tell them yes.”

      I usually say “I’m so terribly prone to colds”, but if I have to, I sigh and explain how my wife is still hyperanxious. Your loved ones will usually support you throwing them under the Mask Bus. (I’m always willing to take that fall for her.) And if you have absolutely no one to blame, you can invent someone.

    5. Lilo*

      I was super diligent about mask wearing a few weeks ago because my preschooler brought home a nasty cold from school and I didn’t want to risk spreading it.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        My response is that I live with small children and I need to keep them safe. They live upstairs from me and I hear them more than see them but it’s technically true.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        Exactly, it’s not just about COVID. Other countries have had masks when sick/at risk/in crowded spaces as the norm since long before COVID. It’s not that big of a deal for those of us in the US to adopt that strategy too to prevent disease spread. I know I have gotten sick a lot less often by continuing to mask.

    6. Grandma*

      My husband attended a several day hobby event at a casino last week. No one wore masks. We always wear masks, but this time he didn’t. He and his travel buddy both came home with covid. Now I have it too. Thank goodness all three of us are vaxxed to the max, but that doesn’t prevent a week of misery, and in my case, a real concern about about a chronic respiratory condition. My mandate to my beloved: I don’t care what the other kiddies are doing, you have to wear a mask.

      P.S. Did you know there is a whole, long list of medications that prevent you from being able to take Paxlovid? For instance, heart meds that can’t be discontinued for a week.

    7. Elsie*

      I’m so sorry you are dealing with this, OP! I completely agree that I wish people who were sick would wear a mask. I still wear a mask at work both to protect myself and because I have family members with medical conditions. I’m a scientist so fortunately no one gives me a hard time about it, even though most people no longer mask, everyone understands the benefits

    8. There You Are*

      I never stopped wearing a mask in public. I’m going through treatment for cancer right now but, even before then, I masked up. To anyone who asked, I simply said, “It’s bizarre, but I am REALLY enjoying not being sick!”

    9. Everybody needs an edirot*

      I’ve had my quick comeback ready in case anybody ever questioned why I was wearing a mask: “Because your breath stinks.”
      (Obviously, the OP can’t do this.)

  3. Turanga Leela*

    LW #3, I think you have your answer right there in the letter: “I’m about to go on vacation so I’m trying not to catch a cold right before I leave!” You can say it in a breezy way and not make it about their rudeness.

    I have a vacation planned soon, and I’m thinking of wearing a mask for the week leading up to it for exactly this reason.

    1. Double A*

      This summer I’m planning to essentially quarantine my family the week before we go on a big vacation. Definitely will be masking in public and will be avoiding unnecessary outings. I really don’t want to get sick beforehand and I have little kids who have brought home so many germs this year.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Yes, this is what we did before a big trip we took in October. I think people would understand that as a reason. I think the LW seems so annoyed at her co-workers (understandably) that she thinks they’ll see that she’s annoyed at them.

    2. Boof*

      Even pre-pandemic my husband wore a mask on a long plane trips because previously he ALWAYS got sick at the start of any big travel. First time he didn’t get sick was when he started wearing them! A++ highly recommend masks, especially so when Really Bad Time To Catch A Cold.
      … also people who even think they might have something absolutely should wear masks >:( Again, I did that prepandemic; yes I’m caring for cancer patients and now it’s universal masking, but even before pandemic I’d totally mask whenever I had that “is it allergies or is it a cold…?” sensation. Whenever asked if I was ok [because I was wearing a mask sometimes before universal masking] I’d just say “just being careful not to spread anything!” and pretty much everyone was happy with that.
      … sorry, even if the folks around you won’t adhere to sensible standards you still can and just be breezy about it.

    3. Too Tired To Think*

      I completely recommend it! I did the same before a trip last year. I avoided going out and when I did, I masked for about a week or so before the vacation. Managed to go on the trip and didn’t get sick before hand or after.

    4. This Old House*

      Yes, this! Don’t dwell on how your coworkers behave, transition right into how excited you are for your trip. I don’t routinely mask at work anymore, but I spent about 6 weeks this winter masking diligently, for a couple weeks before Christmas and then the weeks leaving up to a big trip. I just did not want to get sick for either of those, and I said so openly. All anyone at work said was, “Smart!” but it does sound like my coworkers are more tolerant than yours.

    5. amoeba*

      Yeah, I feel like if you want to be non-confrontational, “Oh, I have a big vacation coming up, so I’m just being extra careful this week( – otherwise I always end up getting sick on vacation, haha!)” would work quite well. Of course, you shouldn’t have to justify yourself in any way, but I mean, that’s still really mild compared to “Because you people are all disgusting and spreading germs left and right!” which, although true, might not go down so well…

    6. Cody'sDad*

      I had a coworker use this exact line when colds and flu were occurring in the building and all of a sudden she was wearing a mask. People thought it made sense and proceeded to wish her a good vacation and moved on.

    7. PsychNurse*

      Yes to giving a breezy, cheerful explanation. I work in an office that technically still requires masks, but nobody wears them, including me. I had a patient arrive wearing one (it’s a psychiatric clinic, not a medical one) and I said “You’re welcome to remove your mask if you want, or I can put one on” and she said “Oh no, it’s fine I just have allergies.” I didn’t quite know what she meant (maybe her nose was red and runny and she wanted to cover it up), but I said “Oh okay” and we moved on!

      1. londonedit*

        Masks are pretty effective at keeping out pollen – my hayfever is all to do with breathing in pollen when the trees that hate me are in flower, and a mask definitely helps!

        1. SarahKay*

          Yes, the first year of covid my lawn got very… enthusiastic, let’s say, mostly because I was too lazy to mow it.
          When I finally got round to cutting the ensuing hay (and for me it is literally hayfever as I’m allergic to grass pollen) I had the inspiration to wear a mask.
          That, together with large sunglasses to cover my eyes and pin the top of the mask firmly over my nose, did a marvellously effective job at keeping the pollen off. So much so that I now routinely wear a mask and sunglasses to mow the lawn. Goodness only knows what the neighbours think when they see me out there mowing on an overcast day, but I don’t care :-)

          1. coffee*

            My neighbour has a similar lawn mowing outfit, and the first time I saw it I thought, ah, a good use of the mask to keep yourself protected from all the grass cuttings while mowing the lawn. :)

        2. ferrina*

          YES! I wear my mask any time I go outside in the spring. Without it my allergies are debilitating; if I wear it consistently, I can avoid most of the symptoms

        3. Gracely*

          Yes, this! I usually take my mask off once I’m outside, but during tree pollen season (right now), it stays on.

          1. JustAnotherKate*

            Our family joke was that we were going to have masks printed that said “it’s not covid, it’s cedar!”

        4. J*

          Pollen and also my area got smoke from fires two states away and it aggravated my lung issue. Suddenly realized how wearing masks outdoors have benefits. In the past I would have just hidden inside until it cleared but now I’m realizing how good they are for environmental issues.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        I’ve used a mask for housework for 20+ years, because of my dust and mold allergies. It makes a big difference!

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I love wearing it when I’m emptying the cat litterbox. I did that before covid and still wear it every time.

          1. Powercycle*

            We started doing that during covid now that we have a collection of cloth masks. Sure makes cleaning the litterbox more tolerable!

          2. J*

            Ooh, I inherited a cat thanks to a Covid death and I swear the litter kills my lungs. I even upgraded my vaccum for dealing with daily dust in her room. I could probably stash my old masks near her box and use them. This is so smart!

            1. DJ Abbott*

              There are a lot of different kinds of litter, including some organic and natural ones. Maybe if you looked around, you could find one that doesn’t affect you so badly, along with wearing the masks.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        As well as the possibility of it keeping out things like pollen, I have really bad sinus issues and when they are at their worst, I tend to wear a mask, because the symptoms are often really close to those of covid (and other things like the flu). I am pretty familiar with the symptoms of my sinus problems and am usually like 95% sure that is what it is, but just in case I’m wrong, I want to reduce the risk of spreading anything. It’s possible your client meant “I have really bad allergies and I’m nearly certain that’s what is causing my cough/sore throat, but I’m wearing a mask just in case.”

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          On days when my asthma is acting up and I’m coughing a lot, I usually wear a mask because even if I tell people it’s just allergies (and I’m 99.9% certain that is the case; I cough asthmatically more often than not), I still can set them at ease that I’m not coughing germs in their faces. And also it’s handy to have something covering my face *when* I cough so I don’t have to keep coughing into my elbow or worrying about getting my hand dirty if I accidentally cover my mouth with it.

      4. orion70*

        I had to attend something a couple of months ago in a group setting where masks were still mandatory. I was one of few wearing one when I showed up, and the person in charge of this masks mandatory group cheerfully announced “hey I’m not the mask police, if you want to remove yours go ahead, I will be!” and so everyone did, except me. I sat there the whole day feeling like I had a flashing sign above my head. No matter how breezily stuff like that is delivered in what is supposed to be a masks-required space, it’s still bound to make someone uncomfortable.

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          We had a thing at church that was mask-optional but it was announced in the beginning that if anyone wanted everyone to mask to let the leader know, privately. And after the first break, they asked everyone to put their masks on. Also, this was part of a series and they also let people know they could flag it in the RSVP and they’d make sure everyone wore masks. I thought that was a good way to handle it.

        2. Dawbs*

          And it undermines ppls ability to make choices.
          I take my mom places that mask. When ppl change the rules on the fly, then I’m trying to change the plans if an immunocompromised dementia patient and an autistic teenager on the fly.
          but, you know, it was only clearly advertised as masks required, why would i assume masks will be worn?

    8. londonedit*

      Yeah, in my experience people are still really on board with any explanation like ‘Oh, I’m actually trying not to go anywhere crowded this week – I don’t want to get Covid before my holiday!’ or ‘I’ll have to give it a miss – I’m visiting my family at the weekend and my sister is clinically vulnerable, I don’t want to risk it!’ The reaction I’ve had when I’ve said things like that has been overwhelmingly ‘Oh god, yeah, totally sensible, I know so many people who have had Covid recently!’ Even if you don’t want to make it about Covid, you can just say ‘I don’t want to risk getting ill before my holiday’.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Transplant recipient in the family; hopefully I will be wearing this for any years more!

    9. BethDH*

      The most common mask wearing pattern I see in my community is what I’d call “situational” — before (and often after) vacations, right before family visit, and in a “crowd” (what that means depending on the person).
      Just adding to the “this is totally normal, just keep it light” messages people had above. If you seem like it’s no big deal, others probably will follow your cue.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        That’s a good encapsulation. My friends and I all mask this way. If I’m dipping into Safeway, whatever, but if I’m going to a high school basketball game, you bet I’m masking in that sweaty gym. And I don’t think I’ll ever not mask on an airplane again. Those first-day-of-vacation colds are the worst!

        1. Texan In Exile*

          My friends, who are fully vaxxed and practice good masking hygiene (as do my husband and I, who are often the only masked people we see in public places and on the plane), finally took a long-awaited trip to New Zealand.

          She masked on the plane, he did not. (No, I don’t know why he did not.)

          He got covid on the plane.

          She got covid from him.

          They spent their vacation quarantined in a hotel room.

          So yeah – totally with all my fellow maskers!

    10. Anne of Green Gables*

      I was going to suggest essentially Turanga Lella’s wording from above. “I have a vacation coming up and I’m trying not to get sick/catch a cold just before” or similar.

      I’ve also seen the strategy of emphasizing colds or the flu when asked about masking, the thinking being that even those who (wrongly) think Covid is stupid or a joke or whatever are more likely to sympathize with not wanting a cold or the flu. No one should have to do this, but if you are looking for a way to get your point across without alienating ridiculous coworkers, there you go.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yes, I was thinking the same thing, that you can make it about something other than covid if you don’t want your covid-lax coworkers to tell you you’re being ridiculous. It sure seems like for some people it’s not the “avoiding getting sick” part of wearing a mask that they think is dumb, it’s the “covid” part of it. (Which of course makes no sense whatsoever, as avoiding covid certainly falls into the “avoiding getting sick” category.)

    11. ThatGirl*

      I have a coworker who’s getting married in a couple weeks and they’ve been masking since the start of this week. Because they don’t want anything interfering.

      I should note my office is not obnoxious or anti mask, but almost nobody is wearing one day to day anymore – we just stay home when we’re sick.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Your coworker is smart. Staying home when sick is also smart, but you don’t always know you’re sick right away. When I got COVID (from my doctor’s office, mind you, while I was fully masked – so I completely feel like masks are a personal choice that may not prevent disease transfer 100%), it took about 5 days before I started feeling symptoms. I’m glad people aren’t harassing them over their mask wearing, because 2 weeks is about as much as it would take me to be fully comfortable too, if I weren’t just wearing a mask every time I step out.

    12. Totally Minnie*

      Exactly! This is a very good reason!

      I have one of those bodies that can power through stress for as long as I have to, and then the second I have some downtime to relax, I’m sick and end up having to hibernate. The number of vacations I’ve taken that have included cold medicine is very high. LW can almost certainly give a breezy sort of “being sick on vacation is the worst, isn’t it?” And their coworkers will most likely nod along.

    13. HigherEdAdminista*

      This is what I would do as well. “No way am I going to spend my vacation coughing and sniffling! I’m doing everything I can to make sure I enjoy the money I’ve invested in it.”

      That said- I do wish people would stop commenting about people choosing to wear a mask. I’ve not been outright bullied for it, thankfully, but I do have people acting like I’m some kind of superhero for enduring it or passively suggesting that certain things would be better without masks, with a glance over at me. It’s like for some folks it isn’t enough that they won and get to put people at risk, it’s like we have to enjoy them putting us at risk and make sure we get a good lung-full of it!

    14. PostalMixup*

      I generally don’t mask unless I’m sick or the COVID/flu levels are getting high, but I wore one in the 2 weeks leading up to a big trip. Because no one wants to be sick on vacation, and flying with a cold is the worst!

    15. Van Wilder*

      Yeah I wore a mask when I had a huge in-person work meeting right before I had a girls’ weekend away. Didn’t catch anything – woo hoo! Then I went away for the weekend with the three safest COVID people I know, and caught COVID from one of them, lol.
      I still think it’s smart to mask up before trips and family holidays and I will still do it.

    16. zuzu*

      Nah, that still gives someone room to argue.

      “My doctor recommended it” is nice and smooth, with no edges for anyone to catch hold of. Though of course the anti-medicine crowd will try. But they can be safely ignored.

      1. J*

        With the doctor line, most will assume you’re sick. I’m higher risk and when I tried the doctor excuse I got a lot of people assuming I was out while positive and it got its own backlash.

    17. Event coordinator?*

      Extremely valid- I picked up a norovirus on a work trip recently. Not sure if a mask would have helped, but I did share an airplane with a lot of little kids absolutely buzzing about going to Disney world so I should have worn one.

      I never want to spend that much time on the floor of a Hyatt bathroom again.

    18. Purely Allegorical*

      Ditto. I know quite a few people who use this reason for masking ahead of a big trip — it’s not weird to say it. I don’t get the hand-wringing.

  4. ChattyDelle*

    I’m the only person masking in my office. My desk is set away from others, so I don’t wear it at my desk, but any time I’m walking around (plus I have a desk air purifier). I have a major concert coming up in 2 weeks, so I’m also masking at rehearsal, to keep my fellow choir members safe from me. Wear your mask & see if anyone says anything – ” being super careful because of my upcoming vacation” is all you need to say

  5. Aggretsuko*

    #1: I got invited to a cool work party, RSVP’d to go, and then got laid off. Obviously somehow my invitation got lost in the mail.

    If you don’t work there, you don’t get a party. I think you can RSVP to go, but if you quit before then, then you don’t get a party. But job hunting isn’t that fast, so eh, plan on going in the meantime. Also, you have no idea how long it’ll take to get another job, so I wouldn’t worry about this until you get an offer.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just to be clear, if they’ve resigned but are in their notice period (so still employed), it would be fine for them to go to the party. People aren’t generally expected not to attend just because they’re in their notice period. (It’s different if you’ve already had your last day — although even then some companies would still welcome you, although that depends on the company and the dynamics around your departure.)

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Confirming that my previous boss made certain I understood that I was welcome at the Christmas party after I gave notice (party was within notice period) and that he truly hoped I would attend.

    2. EPLawyer*

      LW said they know if they aren’t working there that they don’t go. The issue is do they go knowing they are leaving. They aren’t gone yet.

    3. Anonymous 75*

      If it was me I’d start looking but still rsvp for the party. if I’m still employed the day of the party, my ass would be going, fill up on fancy food, take advantage of the open bar, and overall have a blast. I’d also resign as soon as possible afterwards and didn’t give a damn.

      Go enjoy yourself LW!

      1. Flex*

        Go to the party! At the very least you get to go to a fancy swanky party on their dime. Consider it hazard pay. THEN have your personal party.

        1. Andrew*

          Yes, LW1, GO TO THAT PARTY.

          You might say, “Does work really owe me a party if I know I’m about to quit?” And the answer is YES WORK OWES YOU A PARTY.

          You deserve it!

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Agreed! Also, my experience on the other side of things: a coworker resigned the day before a company party (and was going to a competitor, so that day was their last day). I wondered to myself why they didn’t resign two days later, after the company party.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Pretty much everywhere I’ve ever worked, this would be seen as an opportunity to send off the departing coworker. Sure, if you’ve got a really penny pinching company you might get told it’s for current employees only, but it’s truly unlikely to dent the budget at all because there are always so many no shows at these things. There might be additionally good reasons they want to keep it to current employees, like not having a toxic fired employee show up, but especially if you don’t give notice beforehand (and it’s only a month away; job hunting takes time), I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect to go. Even if you do give notice, many companies will ask if you’re still coming.

      1. Boof*

        Yes; obviously don’t go to the party only to trash talk the place, and check the landscape if it’s after your last day (sounds like lw already knows it’s for current employees only in this case tho). But if you’re working there party away!
        It depends a lot on the culture but i’m sure some places would see it as an opportunity to encourage a good employee to think about returning some day!

      2. Nina*

        Seconding, I got made redundant from my last job and my last day was three days after the whole-company Christmas party. A couple of the senior engineers made it their business to track down Every. Single. Person. I had ever helped in any way at that company and make them go find me and thank me and wish me all the best.

        The management sucked. My colleagues were second to none.

  6. No apologies*

    #3 – I say don’t explain it. I wear a mask every day I go to the office. I never stopped. I am down to being the last person in my office wearing a mask. We live in an area where there are still a small amount of people wearing them in stores. But I don’t owe anyone an explanation. If I feel I need to Po de one I reference the fact I haven’t been sick in three years and that my cube mate’s daughter had had strep throat d twice in two months and I don’t want anything, not just COVID. But I don’t explain anything. I just do my thing. It sounds like you weren’t wearing a mask for awhile so that might make a difference in perception I guess. But also f* those people. Don’t explain unless forced to. And if forced to, act completely shocked that they would even ask because OF COURSE a person should wear a mask.

    1. No apologies*

      There were some typos there so yay iPhone. But also wanted to add that I guess I don’t know if you have had COVID, but my household has not. So all the people at my work who are all “why wear a mask”
      have had it multiple times. So there’s an argument to make.

      1. Chrissssss*

        I got Covid in the office, partially because I unmasked to be able to communicate better in an office where no kne else was masking. I caught covid, and six months later I’m still not recovered and on long term sick leave.

        This thing is serious.

      2. blackcat*

        I went to a conference in December with a bunch of colleagues. I diligently masked and only ate outside or alone in my hotel.

        I was given a bit of a hard time for the meals.

        But I was THE ONLY ONE who did got get COVID at the conference! The only one! Out of twenty! People saw my point after, at least.

        1. FridayFriyay*

          This has happened to me during work travel several times. Everyone always acts like I’m super extra for masking when it isn’t required and taking meals outdoors or in my room but here I am without covid and eeeeeeveryone else is sick after those meetings.

        1. ferrina*

          To quote the Dread Pirate Roberts:
          “They’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”

      3. PosterIdentifyingInformation*

        My family all masks consistently as well -any time we are indoors, and even outdoors if there’s a close crowd, and haven’t had COVID! Maybe we are magically immune or just very fortunate. But masking is the part we can control, so we do.

        My spouse likes to reference the COVID protocols for the World Economic Forum (aka Davos). If that’s what’s being done by/for the most powerful and influential people, perhaps it’s still a good idea for the rest of us, too!

    2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      No apologies, I agree that none of us owes anyone an explanation for masking, but I think the LW is expecting that others are likely to make an issue of it and trying to plan how to respond when/if that happens.

      Personally, I think it would be fine to stare blankly at anyone who tries to hassle them for wearing a mask. If they persist, look confused and say, “Why do you ask?” Return the awkward to sender, as Captain Awkward says. But I can understand that some would feel weird doing that and would rather have a scripted response ready to use as needed.

      1. English Rose*

        I like the “Why do you ask” approach.
        I’m sorry you’re working in this environment, OP, it just reinforces for me how lucky I am. Most of us are hybrid, but if someone has a bad cold or is about to go on vacation, it’s common practice to work solely from home during that period, and no-one frets about it.

      2. amari*

        I don’t like “why do you ask” because for some it would invite a conversation all about how covid isn’t that bad, and it’s all fake anyways, and I had it 3 times and I’m fine, and have you tried ivermectin yet, and I hate science and doctors are just trying to scam you out of money anyways I don’t trust them. I’m not up for that conversation.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, I don’t think this is the particular place for that approach because if they are asking they are probably actively looking for a reason to rant at you about it! Personally I would just say “because I want to” and not engage on the topic any further.

          1. Elitst Semicolon*

            I have a friend who says, “because it helps me.” If people ask how, he says, “it helps me mind my own business.”

        2. lilsheba*

          I want to punch people in the face who say those things. I’m really tired of the hoax believers.

    3. JSPA*

      Either this, or, “I spent time with people who culturally mask whenever there’s somthing going around, and quickly realized how wonderful I feel when I opt out of seasonal diseases. And it’s better for my family, too. If wearing a mask doesn’t bother me, it really shouldn’t bother anyone else.”

      Implying that you’re doing it for the health of a sensitive family member is an excellent way to deflect the assumption that you’re somehow frail (or faking), and the hard-to-prove discrimination that often follows.

      1. Allonge*

        To be honest, I would keep it much shorter in most cases – what you write is of course great if OP wants to (or has already) enter a discussion, but otherwise, keep is short ans sweet. ‘It’s just something I prefer’.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes, it’s a lot harder to argue with a preference in a lot of cases (as it recognises that you do x but others may do y) than it is to argue with someone saying that their view is the right one.

          I’d go for “I prefer this” or “this is more comfortable for me.” The shorter the better as it avoids any possibility of debate.

        2. JSPA*

          “Oh, I’m good!” or anything else upbeat can also work, but the problem isn’t people who accept the normal answer. For people who insist that you give a reason (and who have enough rank that you can’t ignore them or shut it down) waving hands at “culture” and “experiences” sort of displaces personal preference one or two levels up. “But why did they do that” gives you the graceful out of, “dunno, you’d have to ask them, but it seems to work.”

          1. ferrina*

            +1 on the upbeat response. Chipper people are no fun to argue at or rant to; argumentative people tend to go for people to timid or polite to tell them to stop, or people who push back and argue with them. Someone that’s upbeat and chipper is no fun to gripe at.

            I had a friend in college who would get really upbeat when she was in a bad mood. Anyone who tried to gripe at her would get hit with a double blast of sunshine and quickly give up. . I’ve tried that strategy myself a couple times, with great success. (note that this works best as a short-term strategy, but usually people adapt strategies to avoid the Sunshine Happy Rainbows! pretty quickly, and you can go back to normal) Also highly effective for annoying adolescents and teenagers.

        3. Office Lobster DJ*

          I think short and sweet is the way to go. “Just being careful with my trip coming up!” and move the conversation along.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think she has to explain it but if she starts masking and it’s a change for her and unusual in her office, it’s likely people are going to ask, so handy for her to have a response .

      I agree with the poster above who suggested that a brief ‘ I want to make sure I don’t catch anything ahead of my vacation / trip next week/month’ is a totally reasonable response, and doesn’t share any personal information (presumably her coworkers know she has some time off booked)

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, I mean, to be fair, if one of my colleagues suddenly started masking at work, I’d probably ask as well. And I’m certainly not anti-mask! (And my first thought would be that they were actually COVID positive but had decided to come to work as well! So would be nice of them to clear it up… Second thought would be “oh no, I hope they’re alright.)
        So anyway, in both of those cases, a simple – and true – explanation would help, even though of course they would in no way owe me one!

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, when I wore a mask a few weeks back (I have stopped wearing it routinely to work and usually just wear it if a room is especially crowded, but that day I wore it most of the day), a colleague said, “oh, you’re back in the mask?” I am pretty sure she was just concerned that I might have had a family member who was going through treatment or that I might have had been advised to wear a mask due to health problems or something. It was just because my sinuses were acting up and I wanted to take care in case I was mistaken and it was a cold or the flu or something, in which case I didn’t want to risk passing anything around.

          But yeah, I think it’s normal for people to wonder, even if they are completely supportive of mask wearing. If I saw somebody who didn’t usually wear one start doing so again, I would be concerned that maybe they had been diagnosed with something that made them vulnerable or that somebody at home was just out of hospital or that they had come to work with something contagious. I think it’s often fairly clear whether somebody just means “is everything OK?” whether they have some weird objection to others wearing masks.

          1. JelloStapler*

            Same here I’d be concerned if it was a change, but concerned for the person not because it threatens my philosophical feelings about it. I had to mask due to exposure (work policy if the exposure was at work) and I told people up front when they looked at me “I was exposed but I am okay” and changed the subject.

    5. CanadianPublicServant*

      +1 to being the last masking person at the office. No one has explicitly mentioned it yet, though it was awkward when my boss invited me to have lunch with the higher ups…in a small boardroom, inside, with no additional ventilation, and I had to say no thanks.

      However, my social life is about to take a pretty big hit since none of my friends are masking any longer as their workplaces. Oh well, at least the weather is warming up, so open windows or being outdoors are going to be feasible again.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        I just wanted to express my solidarity. I’ve had 2-3 incidents where someone wants to celebrate my work by having me take a risk I’m not comfortable with. They know I don’t take those risks in my personal life, but each time there has been a tone of “make an exception for me.”

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      This will only work with people you have a certain type of relationship with, but the best “excuse” (not that anyone needs one) I’ve encountered was “I’m saving my COVID exposure for things I actually want to do, not work.” I mask at work because there is no way I’m coming down with a debilitating illness just because someone decided my entire job that takes place inside a computer had to be done in an office petri dish.

    7. zuzu*

      There’s always cocking your head to the side like a dog who’s heard a weird sound and saying, “Huh.”

      And then excusing yourself and walking away.

    8. A CAD Monkey*

      As the final always masker in my office, I just tell them the truth when I’ve been asked about my mask. I’ve had 1 severe sinus infection in the past 3 years vs. 5-6 each year previously. I will continue to use a cloth mask at minimum until I decide that I no longer need to not when someone else thinks that there’s no risk.

      I just worked my local rodeo, interacting with several thousand people, I was not only masked but double masked (cloth over N95). Now a week later, I’m not sick with anything, where someone I worked with during that time got Covid. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  7. LJ*

    #1 Perhaps your Planet Work Depression is clouding your perspective – as Alison says, a work party is a routine thing that’s budgeted and planned for overall team morale, not some special individual expense for you personally. It won’t register on anyone’s radar. Heck, if the group is big enough, I’m some some people will RSVP and just… not feel like showing up that day.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      As someone who coordinates events for a living, we generally plan for up to a 50% no-show rate for people who register to attend in person. It depends on the type of event, but this OP shouldn’t worry at all – there’s no way that one additional person can blow an event budget, unless they show up with 20 unregistered guests and order a lot of expensive food and drink!

    2. Heidi*

      Agree on the high no-show rate. I’m actually wondering if the OP is building up this party too much in their imagination. Even the fanciest work parties are not so awesome that they would make up for a terrible work experience the other 364 days of the year.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I think for a lot of people, having something to look forward to is beneficial in its own right.

        1. Cmdrshprd*

          I agree with you having something to look forward to is good, but it if they build it up too much, if they attend and it does not live up to their expectations it could have a negative impact on their moral/mental state that negates the positive impact it had in the lead up to it.

          if OP thinks the party will be a 10 on the awesome scale (0-10) but it ends up being a 6/7 (to me is good for a work party, and about the max it can go) and they end up disappointed that they waited to quit until after the party or that the party just didn’t live up to their expectations it can be a problem.

    3. Smithy*

      Absolutely this – I would also add that Planet Work Depression may also be clouding your perspective around how much fun the event will be.

      It’s not that free drinks and passed nibbles aren’t fun, even when it’s the very finest from Costco. But the event itself, even if this OP is working on the Met Gala team, is just part of this team’s 9-5 work. And at some point, work events can be more or less fun, but are just work events. Catered food will always have some kind of limitations and an open bar at a work function can still make you so drunk that you throw up, which no one wants either.

      I will say, if it were me – if I was going to go to the event I’d wait until the Thursday after the weekend to give my notice. I think giving notice the Monday after an event unless you’ve been therefore a while is slightly rougher optics. And if you’re waiting just for an event, then maybe waiting a few more days wouldn’t be the end of the world either.

    4. El l*

      That’s the key point. This party has nothing to do with the important issues: This job isn’t (for whatever reason)) a good fit, and it’s warping their perspective
      The only question that matters for OP is whether to leave without a job lined up. Make that decision and the rest is details.

  8. NotEmployedByHimFriend*

    LW4 : A friend of mine who runs a rather large successful tech business handles this by regularly reminding people that they will not employ friends or family because if it goes bad it will risk the friendship or relationship amongst friends and/or family. This is happily accepted by all their friends and family because that’s just the way things are and its a sensible thing to do and say.

    1. JSPA*

      That only works if they don’t do that. If they already had a policy–even a nuanced one, like, “we don’t hire friends and family, as a default, unless we’re desperately in need of specialized skills, and the people work in essentially separate departments”–I’m guessing the LW would already have cited it.

      “Dorden, I can’t hire based on your charm, your friends, or your self-assessment. You have thoroughly presented your qualifications, many times over. Selling yourself for jobs that are not a fit does you no favors, and it’s getting awkward. In the unlikely event that I end up hiring for a job that would be a good fit, I won’t forget that you exist.”

      1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        I would be seriously wondering about the judgment of the employee. They work in this office yet seem to feel that their unqualified friend would be great for tons of different positions, even after being repeatedly rebuffed.

    2. Flipperty*

      The person isn’t friends with the LW though, just with another random employee. So that policy wouldn’t apply even if there was such a policy.

      No company on earth has a policy “we won’t hire anyone who knows a person who’s already employed here.” Having a policy precluding managers from hiring their own close friends is very different.

      Regardless, it’s not a good idea to lie that there’s a policy banning hiring anyone who’s friends with an employee when there is not.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Not friends, but LW says:
        “Unfortunately, I am likely to continue to see him in social settings from time to time”

  9. Fake Name*


    You don’t have to say that you model nude. You can say that you model for artists who are practicing life drawing. I draw and I’ve worked with naked, clothed, and partially clothed models.

    Clothed life modeling is fairly common, particularly because many artists begin learning proportions and anatomy before they’re old enough to work with nude models. Many life drawing classes consist of artists taking turns modeling for the group in whatever they choose to wear.

    However, once you tell your coworkers that artists draw you, they might be curious about the drawings. That could get awkward. Maybe you can say the drawings are just exercises that aren’t meant to be shared?

    1. TechWorker*

      I don’t think this really changes anything about Alison’s answer – lots of people will hear life drawing and assume ‘nude’ so I don’t think the fact that technically it doesn’t have to mean that makes it a good idea to mention it.

    2. Modelling Letter Writer*

      Letter writer here – I actually mentioned going to a life drawing workshop in passing one day as an artist (not a model) and got a few giggles and comments like “not one of those nude ones though!” I suppose I could just lie and say it was clothed if I really wanted to, but I think Allison’s advice not to mention it makes sense.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, in this case I think it’s better to just not mention it. There are tons of workplaces where it absolutely wouldn’t even be an issue, but it doesn’t sound like your workplace is one of them, and if you know your colleagues will react like that to even the mention of a life drawing class, it’s probably best not to mention your modelling.

      2. Biff Chippington*

        Yeah, once the door is opened, you can’t control what (immature) people will walk through.

    3. JSPA*

      Modeling is 100% a skill, and not an easy one (try holding even a basic pose for 5 minutes, with your camera set for a long exposure, if you think otherwise).

      That said, most people are not aware of this; and those people will predictably default to, “this is about the person’s surface / face / body, not about their skills.” A subset of them will extrapolate to, “this person wants to be seen and known for their body, not their skills, and that gives them joy.”

      That’s not what you want to be known for.

      Yes, it’s unfortunate to have to cater to (and work around” ignorance. But short of first educating everyone, you’ll be playing catch-up, if you try to educate them post-facto.

      The only place I can see it coming into play is if there’s some question about the LW’s poise, or feeling comfortable presenting due to the concentrated gaze of many eyes; and even then, “I have considerable experience, and am totally comfortable in front of an audience, and relish the opportunity to present” is about as far as I’d take it, unless pushed for details.

      1. zuzu*

        Modeling is 100% a skill, and not an easy one (try holding even a basic pose for 5 minutes, with your camera set for a long exposure, if you think otherwise).

        That’s why everyone in all those old-timey photos look so grim. They were in pain!

    4. Allonge*

      I would still not mention it as the question may inevitably come up.

      I would look at it this way: there are plenty of perfectly ok-to-do fun things that are not advisable to share at large at work. Anything to do with alcohol, nudity, sexytimes or violence, real, implied or fictional, is usually best kept for a much more select group.

      1. JSPA*

        If you’re somplace where public, semi-public or semi-private (group) nudity is socially normal and incidental in specific circumstances–sauna, onsen, or whatever–you already know that other rules apply.

        In those places, nudity does not per se get lumped in with “stuff not to allude to.”

        And where it’s part of a belief system, I’d say it defaults to the reasonable limits of sharing about religion / beliefs. Same for drugs, in that context, I’d say? You should not (e.g.) have to hide that you’re Rastafari, simply based on what people will assume about your practices.

        Then there’s also the point where it becomes more awkward, if you try to circumvent even an indirect mention. I’ve mentioned going to a naturist resort for vacation (by name, not by descriptor) because someone wanted to know the exact name of where I was going, in case they had heard of it. It was going to be far more awkward to duck, “where are you going on your vacation” than to answer with a neutral-sounding beach club name, and, “it’s pretty random, I doubt you’d have heard of it.” This was pre-internet days; these days, the calculus might be different.

        I’d also say that 5 years (or 2 promotions) from now, the OP would be just fine mentioning it in passing. It’s the combination of “new / young / not yet broadly known for my contributions” that makes it iffy.

        1. Allonge*

          I am not sure if you are disagreeing with me or not – just to say that hiding something as fundamental as one’s religion and not indiscriminately sharing likely-awkward information about hobbies are on a scale pretty far away from one another as far as I am concerned.

          OP should not have to do either, by the way. But for most people there will be things that we just don’t share about ourselves at work.

          1. JSPA*

            I’m giving a caveat to your statement, followed by a caveat to that caveat.

            1. there are cases where your answer doesn’t hold, however
            2. they fall into predictable classes, e.g.

            a) when clear there’s a culture-specific special carve out (sauna, onsen, etc)

            b) some other default takes precedence (mourning practices, worship practices, culturally-approved vision quest, whatever, where people could reasonably infer certain behaviors that are religion appropriate, even if not broadly culturally-approved)

            c) conversational edge cases where it turns out to be more awkward to avoid indirect reference than to risk an indirect reference.

      2. amoeba*

        Hm, in general I agree, but I think at least in my world “I mix cocktails as a hobby”, I’m into French red wine” or “I practice martial arts” would be all absolutely fine! Hard to find an exception to the nudity, although I can see mentioning a spa with a sauna in passing/not blinking an eye if somebody else does… (as in: “Oh, the holiday was, great, so relaxing, they had a sauna and all!”)

        1. Allonge*

          Sure – all these, sauna included would be fine for me too. Which is why I did not write ‘any mention or implications of alcohol etc. will exclude you from all civilised workplaces forever’.

          My point was more that OP’s case is definitely not the only activity where being cautious about sharing is a wise choice.

        2. UKDancer*

          Yes I don’t think mentioning alcohol as a social activity is always problematic. So “I went for afternoon tea and prosecco with my friends” or “I went to a whisky tasting while on holiday in Scotland” would be fine in my office. Saying “I got hammered and puked in the street” would not be.

          I have said to my colleagues that I was having a spa day, or mentioned when discussing the weekend that I had a great massage.

    5. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      LW is the model, not the artist. They wouldn’t have the drawings.

  10. nodramalama*

    #3 I agree with Alison with having a short clear answer that doesn’t invite any follow up.

    However, I would note, on the judgment of “coughing or sick people in the office”, people can develop a post-viral cough that can last for ages, long after they’re infectious. People also have asthma, they can present as sick because of hay fever or sinus issues.

    I get and support the “stay at home while sick” attitude, but I don’t love the growing attitude of shaming and judging anyone who might have some kind of symptom you’re wary of.

    1. UKgreen*

      This. I have hay fever from March to September. It makes me sneeze, cough, and have runny eyes, even when I’ve taken my antihistamines.

      You do you and wear your mask, OP. After all, as people were told during the pandemic ‘it’s just a piece of cloth’. But please don’t assume that someone with a tickly throat is coughing AT you or even contagious, and please consider that as you describe yourself as a ‘germphobe’ that people’s mileage varies on this.

    2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Thanks for this!

      I have asthma, as well as upper respiratory allergies. My allergies cause me to sniffle and blow my nose all the time, despite taking medication, and my asthma means any cold or other respiratory infection usually leaves me with a cough that takes a while to clear completely, often well past the point of any active infection. LW #3 would probably hate having me for a coworker, lol.

    3. JSPA*

      But even a cough or sneeze that’s triggered by a non-infectious situation can and will jet into the air, whatever else is in your system. Which includes [make your own list of all bacteria and viruses that can spread while someone is asymptomatic].

      Heck, it’s quite possible to catch Covid or RSV or the flu while you’re already snorting and snuffling and coughing with seasonal allergies.

      That’s why containing one’s jetted breath (by masking, coughing in your shoulder, using a tissue and then cleaning your hands, or sniffing repeatedly, which drives me nuts from a sound perspective, but is useful from a germ perspective) is basic politeness in most societies, even if you feel you know that it doesn’t come from a currently active virus or bacterium.

      “I don’t do any of that covering or mitigation stuff because I’m sure I’m fine in all ways except for this dang allergy” has never been the height of good behavior. (And FWIW, my allergies have gone way, way, way down, when I’m masking with an N95.)

      1. Grumpy Lawyer*

        Yes! Thank you! I am so anxious around and disgusted by people who are now so confident that it’s “not COVID” that they think nothing of coughing, sniffling, snarfing, blowing their noses, and clearing their throats in shared spaces without basic courtesy and hygiene. Like, cough and sneeze into your elbow please, and step outside of the confined space we’re sharing if it’s going to be a lengthy coughing fit, and for the love of all that is sacred, clean your hands after using them to hold that tissue you just blew your nose into. I don’t care if it’s “not COVID,” I don’t want to catch a cold or your sinus infection or whatever else you might have.

        Before COVID, my coworkers would proudly haul themselves into the office sick to show how dedicated they were, and I was constantly catching their crud. During the early phases of the pandemic, people became so much more considerate. But now it seems we’re back to freely circulating our germs so long as we’re sure it’s “not COVID.” Ugh.

        1. londonedit*

          Absolutely. Before Covid it was irritating enough when someone wouldn’t cover their mouth when they coughed – now I get really angry about it. It’s the absolute height of rudeness.

        2. HigherEdAdminista*

          This is certainly true as well. I’m sympathetic to people with a chronic cough or what not; my best friend has one! But at the same time we have all seen or heard about people who either ignorantly spread germs, or proudly put people at risk for their own reasons. Unless I know the person well-enough to know their habits and situation, it is hard to trust that any of these symptoms are harmless.

          1. Event coordinator?*

            It seems that these people are going above and beyond the occasional bad day of allergies. Coughing and not covering their mouths? What are they, toddlers? Maybe we have an unreliable narrator (OP said they were a germaphobe) but it sounds like these people are straight up gross and not conforming to societal norms on bodily fluids expelled from the face.

    4. poisson*

      OP isn’t shaming people for having a cough, she’s unhappy that they’re not covering their mouths when they cough.

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconding. I definitely read OP’s frustration as being about no-one covering their mouth when coughing (which – eww!! I am 100% with OP on this) rather than the coughing itself.

      2. Shiba Dad*

        Yes. OP literally said “I understand that people have to work even when they’re sick. My issue is they don’t even try to cover their mouths.”

      3. Onward*

        Yeah, I think the irritation here is that people aren’t covering their mouths which is GROSS whether the cough is infections, residual, or the result of a sip of water down the wrong tube. COVER YOUR MOUTHS.

      4. allathian*

        Yes, this. Covering your mouth when you cough was basic hygiene even before the pandemic, and it’s still valid.

    5. Bagpuss*

      Yes, thanks for mentioning this. I have asthma and allergies.
      My allergies include practically every flowering or seed-bearing plant known to man, so hay-fever season includes pretty much any time there isn’t snow on the ground, and I *also* have a lot sensitivities to scents so if I am anywhere around people wearing scented products, wearing clothes washed with scented products, or anywhere using air fresheners etc I am likely to cough or sneeze.

      I had Covid in October and still haven’t completely shaken the cough.
      I mask in crowded spaces and when I have a cold or any other bug, but coughing =/= sick, for me or many others

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        It didn’t need to be mentioned because it’s not relevant. OP only mentioned people who were coughing AND not covering their mouth.

        1. Elle Woods' Pink Sunglasses*

          No literally like… I also cough/sneeze from asthma + scent sensitivities + allergies to outside, as a whole + allergies to half of inside. You should still cover coughs/sneezes regardless. You are always full of microbes and weird molecules, even if they’re generally benign.

    6. amoeba*

      Sure, but if you work with people every day, you generally know/quickly figure out who has allergies/a persistent cough and who’s dragging themselves into the office half dead from a viral infection. Also, as was mentioned above, you can and should still cover your mouth then!

    7. JelloStapler*

      That is a great point. Allergies have made a lot of people in my office cough and sniffle for weeks.

    8. Cyndi*

      I’m having a fun problem right now where a medication adjustment is giving me dry mouth–I need to be sipping on something basically constantly or I get uncomfortable very fast. So I have a cough but ONLY when I’m masking and can’t drink anything–but I’m still masking for transit, stores, whenever I get up from my desk at work.

      I do sit on the train daydreaming about getting to go home and have an unhinged coughing fit in peace, though, so I’m hoping this doesn’t last.

      1. JSPA*

        they make “sip” valves that you can add to a mask (as well as tutorials on how to make your own sealing port). Web search will turn up the options! keywords, port, sip, sip&puff N95 mask

        1. Cyndi*

          Oh, thanks! I can’t believe I made it three solid years of masking without knowing about this. Then again, I popped a cough drop yesterday before putting my mask on and then had to sit on the train all the way home breathing menthol fumes directly into my own eyes, so there’s a lot of things I should know better by now.

          1. PosterIdentifyingInformation*

            I have menthol-ed myself from the same issue!
            If it works for you, I highly recommend xylitol products. I use the XyliMelt that sticks between the cheek and gum (and the mint isn’t menthol so it’s not torture!) and it’s been a game changer.
            I also use them overnight, and it’s almost entirely stopped the “dry-throat cough and irritated cough” cycle. Seriously it’s so important to my sleep and overall health now! I’m only annoyed at myself that I didn’t start using it sooner.

    9. Tired*

      However, it’s still good manners not to cough and sneeze without making some effort to trap any secretions with a hand, handkerchief, arm, by turning away etc – I don’t want to share any of that around coworkers regardless of cause (snotty, sneezy, coughing-y all year round allergy suffered here…)

    10. mlem*

      I feel bad for the people with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and the like. I sincerely do.

      But my closest Covid exposure was my boss, who assumed her symptoms were just her standard, recurring allergies and was surprised to get a positive result later that same day. She’s since had Covid … one? two? … more times. She’s never not going to have allergies, and I’m now never not going to wonder whether that sniffle or cough she just uttered was truly “innocent” (allergies) or potentially contagious.

      I don’t give folks making symptom-noises a hard time, of course. But I also go find a desk further away from them, because the mask I wear — while better than nothing! — protects other people *from* me more than it protects me from other people.

    11. Distracted Librarian*

      Thank you. I have a chronic cough, probably related to year-round allergies (Yes, I’m medicated. No, it doesn’t control all symptoms.) I carry cough drops everywhere and am happy to mask around others if they prefer. I’m also on team Stay Home When You’re Sick, but I’m not sick, and I can’t stay home permanently.

  11. Varthema*

    True, but I think most people would assume nude or ask (even with something like, (“haha but wearing clothes right?” which is kinda inappropriate but could happen, or even just asking more about it more generally), which would require OP to either lie or out the nude thing, whether that question is direct or indirect. It’s still up to the OP whether she’d be okay with her coworkers having this info or not, but if she’s not, omitting the nude part is unlikely to be a good solution..

  12. philmar*

    LW1: if you’re quitting after only a month, you’re not going to use them as a reference or even list them on your resume. Go to the party, send in your notice, nobody will care, and if they do, it doesn’t matter!

    1. JSPA*

      If it’s a small city, small field, or in any other way could end up as 3-degrees-of-separation-or-less to future jobs, I’m not totally sure this holds.

      For that matter, if they agree that the LW is a lovely and talented person but a terrible fit, it’s not impossible they’d be a willing (and useful) reference.

      This depends where the LW is in their career, and what other options they have for references. If (e.g.) this is a first or second job out of college or upon re-entry after extended time out of the workforce, options may be slim.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        But they’ve only been there a month, so it’s not like a reference would be all that useful.

  13. AlwhoisThatAl*

    #LW1 – Quit now, the party is a work party and will never be as good as the one you can have with your mates.
    #LW2 – The nude modelling, it’s like the pink elephant game, don’t think of a pink elephant or you lose. Everyone is going to inadvertantly picture what you just said. Just like if you said, I dress as as a court jester in full motley every weekend.

    1. Angstrom*

      LW@: Yup. if someone told me they modeled nude, I would imagine them nude. I don’t want to do that at work.
      I’d also wonder if there was a subtext: “Why is she telling us this? Does she want us to think about her being nude?”
      Nothing against nudity :-) , but work has its own rules.

    2. Everything All The Time*

      I did some nude modeling in college, and I won’t admit to that at the office. The only way my coworkers would find out is if one of the people who drew me gets very famous, very fast.
      LW2, if you ever do any clothed modeling, you can bring that up safely if you want to. But like above, they will immediately think about it.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        If they get very famous very fast, you have a doppleganger!

        True story: My brother has multiple dopplegangers. He once sent us a photo of a “person of interest” in some crime in Idaho and said he was nowhere near Idaho at the time. If you had shown me that picture, I would absolutely have said it was my brother. This has happened more than once.

        1. PosterIdentifyingInformation*

          I have multiple doppelgangers as well – such that my own mother called to ask about an event that made the front page of the local paper! Definitely wasn’t me, but I keep that picture on hand to show people. I’m glad I’ve never needed an alibi for their activities, though!

        2. Esprit de l'escalier*

          When I was in my 30s and 40s, every so often I’d encounter a person who was positive they had met me before. We would compare notes and it always turned out that there was no way that our paths could have crossed, but they were SO sure. I concluded that I had a very basic kind of face that evoked a sense of familiarity and if I had the time, I indulged them in trying to pin it down.

          The ironic part is that I can barely remember people’s faces, so I couldn’t be sure that I’d never met them — maybe I had! — and the ones who pursued it with me were always very confident about their facial recognition ability.

  14. StellaBella*

    Regarding wearing a mask, I am the only person in an office of 180 people still wearing one when I go in. I just say that my doc recommends it and that I prefer to not be exposed to the current cold going around.

  15. MyBloodIsBad*

    I feel this LW’s pain!!! I mask in many settings, including work, and have had to miss all of the indoor dining-based networking events. Most coworkers don’t ask, but when someone does, I never know what to say! With strangers where I don’t feel comfortable, I say, “I’m visiting an immunocompromised friend / a new infant this weekend” to avoid confrontation…

    Sometimes I disclose the health issue that makes me higher risk, but I also want to say, “You may not know, but there’s this thing called long COVID and it can really mess you up.” I have friends in their 30s with heart problems. Like, even without my health issue, I think “not wanting to get the still-novel illness that wreaks havoc on your cardiac, neurological, and respiratory systems” is such a valid answer?! But people aren’t there.

  16. I should really pick a name*

    Whenever they start making their pitch, say “I don’t want you talk about work during social time”.
    Repeat as many times as necessary.
    Meanwhile, if they’re not qualified, they don’t get an interview. There’s no need to tell them they’ll never be hired.

  17. MsM*

    LW4: Given that the dude is just a social acquaintance and likely to remain so, can you just ask him why he’s so interested in joining your team when he doesn’t seem to have a good thing to say about anyone on it? Or if that’s too confrontational, shut down the disparagement when it starts up with a firm “I’m proud of my team/I’m sorry to hear you think that, because X is the kind of candidate I’d want to hire more of”? (Maybe take your employee aside if you think his “friend’s” being unfair to his skills and make sure he knows you don’t agree with the assessment – or if he’s joining in on the criticism, make it clear that’s not an attitude you want to see from your employees?)

    1. There's a G&T with my name on it*

      Yes, this is definitely the aspect of LW4’s employee’s friend that irks me, and makes me question the judgement of the employee.

    2. Reba*

      Yeah, the obvious negging is the worst part of this IMO. Or at least, the most irritating part! Ugh.

      I would love to see this dude shut down snappily but I also think a flat, “Brent, I’m not going to talk about this anymore” would a good option.

      Talk with the employee separately about dropping this whole notion. You’ve made your decision and continuing to lobby for Friend is not increasing his chances and is lowering your view of Employee’s judgment.

    3. Buffy Rosenberg*

      Yes! I definitely think pushing back, calmly and clearly, on the criticism of the team is a) the right thing to do because he’s being pretty rude and b) potentially helpful for him as it should indicate to him that this approach is not going over very well.

      You could even highlight that it is an insult to you, the very person he needs to impress, when he insults your team, because these are to some extent people you’ve hired, trained, managed and retained.

      I love the combination of emphasising you’re proud of your team (insulting them is insulting you) and that they’re the type of candidate you’d want to hire.

      1. Buffy Rosenberg*

        Sorry, I don’t think we know the friend’s gender. I suddenly realised I’m picturing a very specific man I have known in real life!

  18. Bagpuss*

    #4 Maybe have a one-of conversation with them and say “You’ve applied for multiple jobs. We have your details on file and if anything comes up that we think you might be a good fit for, we will let you know. I need you stop raising it or trying to discuss work or any job application when we meet socially. If you want to apply for any jobs you can submit an application through the normal channels, it won’t be considered otherwise”

    1. not a hippo*

      I think that gives the friend hope that LW will at some point hire them when they have zero intention of doing so.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        There are people who still hold out hope after being told no in as blunt a way possible, the kind who go through a PIP and are still blindsided at being fired. For this OP, if they can simply avoid the subject going forward it’ll be a win, they can’t be held responsible for whatever thoughts Mr Oblivious continues to entertain despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yeah, this. The guy is so obviously confident that he’s a good fit even when he doesn’t have the required qualifications that it’s really not on LW to get him to see this at this point. She just needs him to stop pestering her.

  19. Jam Today*

    I will never understand why people get so het up about *someone else* wearing a mask. It doesn’t affect them! Who cares?!

    1. redflagday701*

      A lot of these same people get het up over all kinds of things that don’t affect them. They’ve actually constructed a whole political identity around it. It’s pretty wild!

      1. JelloStapler*

        Yup a whole tenet of current politics for some people and politicians is “Freedom – for me to tell you to act like I want”.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, it benefits them because it is less likely they will catch anything the person masking might have.

      One of my facebook friends actually posted about this stranger they ran into at the supermarket who took major offence at the fact they were masked and social distancing and started moving as close to them as possible but she added the joke was on him because she was masking and social distancing because she had a cold that she was pretty sure wasn’t covid (not sure if she tested and got a negative or just had a pretty fair idea from the symptoms) but figured she might as well take those precautions as they weren’t particularly difficult.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        Yep. I mask diligently when I know I’ve been exposed to COVID. Probably best not to get in my face at those times.

    3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Especially since mask wearing is more effective at not spreading the germs of the mask wearer than protecting the mask wearer from everyone else’s germs… I mean, for OP not to catch anything ideally they’d be asking everyone else to mask up.

    4. Lana Kane*

      It’s the kind of person who thinks someone’s differing opinion or preference is a direct criticism of theirs.

  20. I should really pick a name*

    Am I the only one who originally read the title as “Quilting right after a party”?

        1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

          Most likely, fabric that’s been cut wrong (likely too short or too narrow or that’s not straight), seams that don’t line up, not enough pieces to make the various units of the quilt block.

          A Quilter Who Has Learned Her Lesson

    1. Jackalope*

      My brain smushed everything together and I saw, “Quitting right after a nude party.”

  21. Falling Diphthong*

    #2, in a past discussion about “In the shower this morning I figured out how to solve that problem!” I was one of those who wouldn’t picture the person nude. At most I might picture their head above a cloud of steam and soap bubbles, like characters who shower in the funny pages. And I think that the phrase means “Doing something totally unrelated, where I couldn’t be on my phone, I had an insight!” (For me this is usually walking my dog or swimming.)

    “I do nude modeling” is a phrase where I think I’m always going to immediately picture this person naked. The better I know you, the smaller the revelation lands in my overall picture of you… but I think for most colleagues, especially if they are straight male colleagues, especially if you are already at risk of being catagorized as “Oh, the pretty young one” when your field is not modeling: I’d avoid sharing as much as possible. “Nude modeling, but not sexy nude modeling” is not the distinction you want to be wandering down at work.

    1. londonedit*

      I think the phrase used matters a lot here, though – to me, ‘I do nude modelling’ would immediately make me think of something risqué, but ‘I model for a life drawing class’ absolutely wouldn’t. In this case, the OP mentioned further up that their colleagues have reacted to the mere mention of life drawing with giggles and ‘But not one of those naked ones, right??’ so I don’t think they’re the right audience for this, full stop, but there’s a big difference in connotation between ‘I do nude modelling’ and ‘I model [or I sit] for a life drawing class’.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        While I’m aware that it can be clothed, every time I’ve heard the term life drawing, it has referred to drawing a nude model.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, I would interpret “life drawing” as “almost certainly nude, but trying not to say nude.”

        2. londonedit*

          Absolutely, but if you say ‘I model for a life drawing class’ then you’re not actually saying ‘I sit there naked while people draw me’. Of course that’s what it means, but it’s not overt. My point is that using the phrase ‘I do nude modelling’ brings to mind – to me, anyway – something more openly risqué than ‘life drawing’. I don’t know if Americans use the phrase ‘glamour modelling’ but here in the UK it means posing for topless photos. It’s less of a thing now but years ago there were famous ‘glamour models’ who all had big breasts and appeared on Page Three of the Sun tabloid newspaper. That’s what ‘nude modelling’ brings to mind for me. ‘Modelling for a life drawing class’ makes me think of artists drawing someone. Still nude, yes, but without ‘ooooooooooh naked’ connotations. However, as I said, it’s clear the OP’s colleagues can’t deal with the idea of life drawing in general, so it’s best not to mention it at all.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            The issue here is nude, not risque vs artistic.

            If you say you model for a life drawing class, it will most likely be interpreted as “I sit there naked while people draw me”, which isn’t really appropriate for a workplace setting.

            I totally get that it might be different outside of North America.

        3. Beth*

          The specific terms are “draped” and “undraped”. Since the main point of life drawing is to learn how to draw the human body, life drawing classes almost always use an undraped model.

          Undraped pays better, too — I used to do it in grad school. It was way more fun and interesting than selling plasma.

  22. redflagday701*

    #4: I’d probably be blunt, but as warmly blunt as possible: “Anselm, you don’t have the skills or experience required for this position, and I’ve heard you minimize the need for those skills. I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in hiring you and I don’t think I ever will be. I’m sorry — you keep bringing it up, so I wanted to level with you.” And then if he protests: “Arguing with me about this isn’t going to change anything — it’s only going to reinforce my belief that I’m making the right decision. We’re not talking about this anymore.”

    And then privately apologize to his friend, your employee, if necessary. (I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if his friend actually knows you’re not interested in hiring him and is also relieved you finally gave him a direct no.) It might be the case that things are indeed awkward socially with the guy after this, but they’re awkward now, in a super annoying way! If he behaves like an ass because you gave him a clear no, it will only also reinforce for others that you made the right call.

      1. Reba*

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so dismissive. What I mean is, the employee is in the wrong here by pushing this so much. The LW should talk with them about hiring and what is going on with this whole campaign. But the employee and pal are the ones who will be responsible for any awkwardness between them as a result.

        1. redflagday701*

          Yes, “apologize” was a poor word choice. I just meant make sympathetic noises about how unfortunate it was to have to reject the friend so directly. And possibly throw in a few words about how when someone isn’t hearing encouraging words about an idea, that’s often a hint and it’s generally a good idea not to keep harping on it.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah I’d cut out a couple of the ‘sorry’s in this script. I do approve of being direct as possible. Unfortunately, “sorry” might soften the message. Maybe “unfortunately” is better if you think you need a word there.

  23. guest*

    #4: The guy is being a pushy asshole. He’s not qualified for the positions he’s going after and behaves inappropriately in social situations. He’s also a shitty friend. Someone like that is sinking their own ship because they’re showing they can’t read the room and are probably terrible with colleagues and clients. Alison’s advice is solid, but I’d add that if LW’s employee starts bringing up hiring this guy at work, LW needs to shut him down and bring it up in his next review if it continues.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think the employee has already been bringing it up (based on OP’s comment that “both of them” seem to think the guy will be hired). If I were in this situation I would actually start with talking to my current employee to find out if they’ve been ‘egging on’ their friend or where the friend has got this idea from. I think OP will find that the current employee has given the friend unwarranted encouragement, perhaps even to the degree of things that aren’t quite true (OP has seen your resume and she loved it! etc).

  24. EPLawyer*

    #1 – never thought I would see the line “go have a rager with your friends” in a work blog.

    That’s why we love Alison.

  25. MicroManagered*

    OP2 I think there might be workplaces where it would be ok to mention that on the side you do nude modeling… like if you worked in an art-related field where that’s common or live in a country where everyone’s more chill about nudity…

    I think if you worked in such a field or lived in such a country, that would have come through from your letter, but since it didn’t, your instinct to keep it to yourself is probably the right one.

    Google the teacher who was fired recently for showing students Michaelangelo’s David if you want to get a read on how mature people are about nudity in art. Unfortunately you have to assume at least some of your coworkers can’t handle it.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      This is basically why my friend doesn’t mention he’s a drag queen at work. The guy makes his own gowns, does incredible makeup and it’s taken years to get those skills.

      But there will always be people who’d forever taint him for knowing it. He works in a pretty conservative industry.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      “Won’t somebody think of the children!” The Simpsons did an episode years ago about Michaleangelo’s David and the pearl clutching response to it being displayed. It was meant to be a comedy then and now it’s just sad tha the same fight is happening again.

  26. Hawk*

    LW 2, I just want to say thanks as a former art student. Nude models were important for me not only learning art, but learning to be ok with the human body in all of its forms.

    LW 3, I don’t know if you’re in an area of the US or other parts of the Northern Hemisphere with spring right now, but as an allergy sufferer (testing says I’m allergic to almost all the trees and all the grasses they could test for), I fall back on that as my reason for wearing a mask when I’m asked. I basically don’t have allergy symptoms when I’m wearing a mask. I also don’t want to get the vulnerable public I work with sick, but that’s not as accepted a reason around here.

  27. Retail Dalliance*

    These are a weird bunch of letters for sure! The first three seem so simple and easy to solve. The last one, I’m more perplexed by the advice…it seems to me this should be dealt with in-house, with the employee in question. The boss doesn’t employ the friend.

    “Hi, I’m not sure what conversations you’ve been having with Bob about the potential for him to work here, but both of you seem very certain that it will happen. We are not looking to hire someone with Bob’s skill set or experience at this time. I need you to head off these conversations with him–it’s unprofessional, and I need it to stop.”

    1. Buffy Rosenberg*

      I’m not sure I’d want to make the employee responsible for communicating anything about this.

      Employee should be saying to Friend “I don’t have anything to do with hiring for this role, you need to go through the standard application process.”

      1. Clisby*

        Agreed. And LW should say something similar if either asks about it. She can’t say she has nothing to do with the hiring process, but she *can* say anyone wanting to apply needs to follow the formal process and not contact her.

  28. JelloStapler*

    #3 It always amazes me how hypocritical some people are when it comes to thinking everyone else should feel the way they do (sadly it is becoming more prevalent that society is like this). LW’s coworkers brag about putting others at risk because they think they are above the protocol but then seem mortally offended by someone else wearing a mask.
    As usual, I cheer Alison’s suggestion – in my head, I would be saying “I’m not missing my vacations because of all of you gross selfish assholes”.

    1. JelloStapler*

      (exceptions for the people with allergies that are covering their sneezes and coughs and washing their hands- they are not gross)

  29. OrdinaryJoe*

    Re: #1 … I’ve been to some work parties where all that’s expected of me is to show up, smile, and make nice; I’ve been to others were it’s a party for everyone but the staff and we’re all assigned ‘jobs’ and ‘tasks’ before and after. Not sure what this situation is but I think that’s an important thing to consider.

    If you’re tasked with doing things, giving your two week notice 2-3 weeks before the gala will really impact the rest of the staff. Doing your part, hanging in there and ‘working the event’, if you’re suppose to will more than make up for going and turning in your notice the next week. People will thank you for that!

  30. FloraPsmith*

    LW 2: You are well-qualified and your hard work is appreciated, yet someone not on your work team says ‘well, soooome people aren’t going to trust you because you are young and good-looking’?

    I think you should take heed that this person is not someone who has you career best-interests at heart.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Unfortunately, this coworker is possibly right. People have all sorts of reasons for not trusting or giving credence to the opinions of others, and age and looks are often one of those.

      It’s also possible that this coworker is just really weird and out of touch. We don’t really know anything about them other than they made this comment, so it is impossible for us know.

    2. Angstrom*

      Unfortunately, it is true that some people still don’t believe that young, attractive women can be intelligent and competent in “serious” work. That could have been a fair warning from a colleague who has had to deal with those people.

    3. MicroManagered*

      I hear what you are saying, but I think you are making an assumption about the context of the remark that just isn’t in the text. OP2 didn’t say ‘well, soooome people aren’t going to trust you because you are young and good-looking’ — those are your words.

      For all we know, that warning came from a fellow “very young presenting, good looking woman” who was sharing her own experience with helpful intentions.

    4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      We all know that young people and women, whether or not they are pretty, and minorities all need to work hard at being taken seriously.

      It’s also a given that hardly anyone is looking out for anyone else’s career. There are mentors, but everyone is basically looking out for themselves.

      Some people won’t trust OP because she’s young and pretty, yes, that’s how the cookie crumbles. We have to work with that. A mentor who doesn’t factor this information into their advice would be a poor mentor.
      A mentor, or indeed anyone, who says “sure, let all and sundry know about your nude modelling” could do a lot of harm to OP’s career if OP takes them seriously.

  31. Anonymous Penguin*

    OP2, I wouldn’t mention the modeling for another reason: currently, if a coworker shows up at one of your classes, you can be sure it’s because they have an interest in life drawing. If you mention it to anyone at work, and then a coworker shows up you will have to wonder if they are there in the hopes of seeing you, specifically, naked.

      1. Peanut Hamper*


        I am actually a little creeped out now at the thought of a coworker showing up for this class.

  32. Yes Anastasia*

    I agree with Alison’s advice for LW 2, but it makes me grumpy because there’s such a double standard – I don’t think most people would hesitate to share at work that they’ve been taking figure drawing classes, yet talking about modeling for those classes is seen as risque. Most formally trained artists have worked with life models! I just wish people would grow the heck up.

  33. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    OP#2: Everybody has good things to say about the potential cons of talking about nude modeling. But the only pro I can think of is “interesting anecdote(s) to make small talk about with coworkers.” Which doesn’t make up for all the cons.

    1. Onward*

      Yeah, I feel like things are hard enough for women in the workforce dealing with comments about their bodies, etc. Not a good idea to seemingly(!) invite those things.

  34. Katherine*

    #3 if passive aggression is the norm in your workplace, why not join in: “I’m wearing a mask because some people just don’t seem to care if they make people sick!”

  35. LB33*

    You know your colleagues best, but if. you mentioned this, I could picture a couple of the guys suddenly having an interest in life modeling and deciding to check out one of your classes…particularly if you are young and good looking as mentioned

  36. Don't kneel in front of me*

    OP#3: I live in an anti-mask area and I work in an industry that’s also anti-mask. I’m vaccinated, took safety protocols, etc.

    Recently I was sick with a sinus infection so I wore a mask at work for a couple weeks. Everyone asked, so I told them the truth: “I’ve been sick, so I figured you’d rather not have me cough all over you.” There’s no reason you can’t say something similar.

  37. House On The Rock*

    LW 4, I’d advocate being blunt with both your employee and their friend. Including telling your employee that their friend is dismissive of their skills and the skills of your team.

    In terms of how to deal with the friend when you do interact, if you want an easy out (not that you need one), you could fall back on having to give all candidates the same opportunities, meaning you can’t discuss his candidacy outside of the formal interview process.

    That’s something I’ve used when, for example, former employees/coworkers I’m not super keen on contact me directly about postings in my current department. It’s hard to argue with “you are welcome to submit an application via the normal challenges, but of course you understand I can’t give you access that others don’t have”. Invoke HR as needed, because any good HR will support that.

    1. Buffy Rosenberg*


      It is an easy out but it also has the advantage of being true. It’s far better, surely, for equality and diversity, if “who you know” doesn’t give you any special advantages.

  38. Buffy Rosenberg*

    #2, when I joined OldJob I heard about the former employee who had done burlesque dancing in my first week. People gossiped about it constantly and any time she came up (“where will I find the Clown Wigs file?”) it was how she was referenced (“Natasha, the burlesque dancer, ha ha, filed it in her documents”).

    Now, they were childish jerks (they also made constant comments about how she dared to do burlesque dancing while being fatter than they approved of… and this wasn’t even the worst of their behaviours, thank god I don’t work there) but given the giggles about life drawing you mentioned above, I’d be really worried about a milder version of this.

    Even if people don’t judge you or express hostility, it could become what you’re best known for.

  39. Generic Name*

    Q1. This question has a ton of what my mom calls “borrowing trouble”. Meaning you are planning for future events that haven’t happened yet, and have no way of knowing right this moment if they will happen. Also, you have been in this job for one month, and it is already affecting your mental health. WHY do you want to spend more time with the people who are presumably negatively affecting your mental health? Generally work parties, even fancy ones, aren’t “a joy” to attend. They are work events.

    All that said, I don’t think there’s a problem with RSVP’ing “yes” to the party. You are currently employed at Company, and you currently want to go to the party. If anything changes (like you get a job offer, or quit with nothing lined up, or you simply realize you don’t want to spend another moment of your time with the goblins from work) between now and the day of the party, you can let someone know that you won’t be able to attend, or just skip it.

  40. ugh*

    #2 reminds me of a funny story. I was in art college and got a job as a dishwasher. The shift lead who trained me was super nice, and we both knew we knew each other from SOMEwhere, but couldn’t suss it out.

    Eventually realized he’d been the primary nude model in my first life-drawing class.

    (He was also arguably one of the best models we had, but it felt weird to say that)

  41. Cyndi*

    Sorry if this has been mentioned already and I missed it! But:

    “he’s openly dismissive of the talents and skills of my current employees (including his friend)”

    If LW4 takes this up directly with their employee, however they approach it, I’m curious whether it would be appropriate for them to let the employee know that hey, all this time you’ve been going OTT to get your friend hired, he’s been trying to undermine you behind your back. Or is that an interpersonal problem and not LW’s circus?

  42. Turtlewings*

    LW #3, were all your coworkers raised by wolves?? I don’t care what disease you do or don’t have, coughing without covering your mouth is disgusting! What is wrong with these people!

  43. LifeBeforeCorona*

    #1 Sometimes there is no good time to quit. I came back from Christmas break and gave my notice. Having the time off made me realize how toxic the job had become and how unhappy I was. It wasn’t the best timing for them, but my mental health improved markedly. It was the right decision right up to my very last day when I was micromanaged while completing a task that I had done many, many times before.

  44. Zarniwoop*

    When I see one person in masked in a context where most aren’t, I assume either they have an active cold, or they or someone they live with is immunocompromised.

    “Medical issue, I’d rather not discuss it” should be enough.”

    1. Heather*

      I don’t even think you have to say “I’d rather not discuss it.” I think, “Oh, it’s a medical issue” is fine– very few people are going to say “Oh, what’s the issue?”

  45. Jessica Fletcher*

    #3, I think they’d be receptive to a cheerful, “I don’t want a cold to ruin my vacation! I’m not going to lay on the beach sneezing every 5 minutes!” That puts the focus on your vacation, and saying a cold doesn’t bring up Covid.

  46. Festively Dressed Earl*

    LW #3 A few people not wearing masks or covering their mouths when they cough is an annoying health hazard. An entire office where you’re bullied by higher-ups for looking after your own health is a TB ward full of bees. Dust off your resume.

  47. Millenniiaa*

    I was at the airport recently when someone asked why I was wearing a mask. I just replied, “Why not?” That was the end of the conversation. But if you’re dealing with jerks who clearly want to “debate” you with their ridiculous talking points, I think “I’m trying to avoid getting sick right before my vacation” seems perfectly adequate. With perhaps an “oh I’m perfectly comfortable in it!” if they’re the type to wail about your ability to breathe.

  48. ijustworkhere*

    #2 There are some things that are better left unsaid at work. For example, I am part of a recovery community. I spend a lot of my out of work time with this community, and I love the life I have because of the work I do in that community.

    But I don’t talk about it at work, because I know the judgment that some people have about it. I don’t want to be defined by a misconception. There is a difference between privacy and secrets.

    My recovery life is private, but not secret. I wouldn’t deny it if someone found out and asked about it. But I’m not going to voluntarily share it.

  49. CoinPurse*

    Re:#3….I’m an RN and it was pretty standard amongst my colleagues to mask up prior to a big vacation. Even before Covid. And I agree, people can be very disgusting in their personal habits. I’ve worked in an open office situation and have seen people come to work with obvious pneumonia…and yet just open mouth cough all day. Protect yourself.

  50. TheLibraLibrarian*

    For LW 3, you also have a perfectly fine answer in your letter: “I have a vacation coming up soon and I’ve decided to wear a mask for a while before I’m supposed to go. I don’t want to risk catching something before a trip.” Plenty of people have done that in my place of work.

  51. SofiaDeo*

    #3, I got a leukemia in 2011 that has affected my entire immune system, and I have worn N95 masks during flu season ever since. So I was masking well before Covid.

    One tip that I found helps a bit, I make a point of smiling super wide when I smile when talking to people behind the mask, making sure my eyes crinkle a bit. If you practice this in the mirror a few times, you can tell when it seems pretty obvious that you are smiling at the person. So at work, anyway, people will still see a “friendly face” even though it is masked. We don’t have to do this, of course, but I found that when it’s obvious I am happy/smiling during a masked conversation, those conversations went a little smoother.

  52. Raida*

    4. How do I tell my employee’s friend I’m never going to hire him?

    I would sit down the person that already works there and discuss with him :

    If you want to tell a mate about a role you reckon they should go for then you:
    1) have a quick chat with the hiring manager for the role to get some info on it
    2) tell your friend about the role and the little you got from the conversation
    3) step back and let everyone get on with it

    Friend is free, like anyone else, to apply for any job that’s advertised. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the best candidate, it doesn’t mean he’ll be qualified, it doesn’t mean that he’d be a good fit with the team, and it doesn’t mean that he’d get the job.

    If Friend applies for a role here and doesn’t get it, is that going to impact how you behave at work? Considering how you’re pushing for him to work with me, I feel like it’s reasonable for me to bring this up with you.
    While I don’t *think* you’d become snide or sulky or bitchy about a successful candidate, and I don’t *think* you’d become aggressive or dismissive with me or whoever did the hiring process, and I don’t *think* you’d interfere with performance reviews if he was hired, I have been in workplaces in the past where it came right outta nowhere! A sudden, entirely negative, change in a workmate when they or someone else didn’t get the imagined results from reviews and applications.

    So you see why I wanted to make it clear how to approach a role you see that a friend could be interested in, right!

    As for Friend – he can apply, he won’t get an interview, rinse and repeat and always offer feedback if requested.

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