update: my boss and coworkers are constantly at my house

Remember the letter-writer whose boss and coworkers were constantly at her house — storing equipment there, holding meetings there, and even stopping by to use her bathroom? Here’s the update.

First off, I want to thank you and the commenters for the advice. I hadn’t realized how ridiculous my situation had become, probably because small-town life has a way of making strange relationship dynamics seem normal. I sent the letter just before you went on Christmas vacation so there was about 3-4 weeks of time before getting your advice. Turns out I did most of the things the way you would have done, which was reassuring!

Before my letter was published, high-speed internet came to my boss’s neighborhood. He connected to it right away and stopped using my house for Zoom meetings without me saying anything.

Also before my letter was published I told my boss a white lie that I was doing renovations and couldn’t store the equipment for him (turns out this is what you advised me to do!). He replied that he’d put it in the company storage unit which he’d rented and forgotten to tell me about. It took some prodding to get him to follow through, but my house and garage are now free of company equipment.

After reading your excellent advice, my coworker texted to say she’d be coming over for a meeting. I used your script and said that my house was no longer a central hub for the company and that we’d meet elsewhere. She replied “makes sense.”. We met at a coffee shop and there was no drama. That week she was laid off so I no longer have any issues with her and we have not talked since, which is fine with me. I feel so much lighter and happier at work and home now that I don’t have to deal with her!

I decided not to have a direct conversation with my boss about using my house for work. Much of it resolved with the new high-speed internet at his apartment and the layoff of my coworker. Since then, any time he has asked to meet I’ve suggested we meet on Zoom or at a coffee shop and he has been fine with it. He has not been in my house at all this year and I plan on him never being here again. I don’t know that he’s clued in that my house is no longer available but that’s okay. If he hires another employee I will have a direct conversation with him to ensure that my house is not available for any purpose anymore, but as yet that has not been needed.

A few things I wanted to clarify that came up in the comments. First, my boss is not malicious — he’s just clueless about boundaries. My coworker is also not malicious but just doesn’t understand basic human relationship dynamics. Second, I am not at a point where I can heavily go into a job hunt because I’m facing a medical issue and don’t have the energy to do a serious job hunt. I’ve done one interview and did not get the job and turned down two other interviews. I have started a grueling medical treatment and the thought of starting a new job during treatment makes my stomach turn.

I thought I’d leave the readers with another fun tidbit. Despite have finally rid my house of my boss and coworker, my boss’s daily walking route takes him past my house every morning. So every morning as I sip my coffee, he waves at me as he walks by.

{ 42 comments… read them below }

      1. Lea*

        Small towns I guess lol

        Good for her! A lot of problems resolve with very simple boundary setting and little white lies

      2. Just Another Cog*

        Yeah…..you can’t get away! At least he doesn’t diverge from his path up to your front door!

      3. Polar Vortex*

        The quirks of a small town, you can never avoid anyone you know, and everything you do will be over the town gossip chain in a heartbeat – half a heartbeat on sundays because everyone’s at church so the gossip spreads faster.

  1. Jay (no, the other one)*

    Glad things are so much better! And I want to support your decision to stay in this job. It’s easy for us armchair commenters to say “oh, you should get a new job.” We don’t know everything you’re dealing with. Of course you want to keep as much in your life as stable as possible. I hope your medical issues resolve and you are able to relax and enjoy your newly peaceful home!

  2. Heidi*

    He had a whole storage unit? That he was paying for? And he let the OP just keep the equipment in her house? This boss is something else.

    1. Allura Vysoren*

      I could easily see him saying “I should rent a storage unit to get that stuff out of LW’s house” and then “I should really get that stuff out of LW’s house…oh I’ll do it next week” for months.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        A lot of this sounds like it was exacerbated by LW being annoyed but not saying anything and waiting for people to read her mind. She never said anything about the equipment, so Boss assumed she didn’t mind and it wasn’t a priority to move it.

        1. BBQ frenzy*

          The LW said she pushed back on the equipment storage but boss insisted on using her big house…

        2. Workerbee*

          Using someone else’s house as work storage is not something a good boss would typically do, however much his or her cluelessness is being excused.

      2. ferrina*

        Yeah, I’ve had bosses that would just put out of their minds anything that wasn’t actively causing them pain- they just had trouble understanding when something was an issue for someone else (yeah, there were a lot of problems with those bosses)

  3. Richard Hershberger*

    Clueless but not malicious seems about right here. Were he more self-aware, he would not have let things come to this, but in the end he adapted. Good for him. This is far better than a lot of people would be.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Hanlon’s Razor comes into full play again! I’m glad pushing back worked for you (though having several other factors come into play didn’t hurt).

  4. Lauren*

    OP – If your boss does come back and asks about renovations that are not obvious, use ‘new roof, plumbing and electrical were overhauled – finally into the 21st century and in theory my house won’t burn down now’.

    1. MsM*

      Something tells me the dude who could not work up the motivation to move stuff into a perfectly good storage unit he was paying rent on is not going to concern himself overmuch with the mystery of exactly what kind of work OP was having done.

      1. Queenie*

        Honestly, I wondered if that’s why he’s still walking past her house – looking for signs of renovations. Not necessarily because he might think she’s lying, but maybe hoping to get a name of a contractor for stuff he wants done?

        1. Friday Person*

          Under this theory, he’s… walking by her house on a daily basis over a protracted period of time to try to glean information on whether or not a renovation of some kind has been performed, because he believes this ritual is a necessary precursor for being able to ask her if she has any contractor recommendations?

          I think Occam’s razor gets a little overused, but it also seems reasonable here to assume that the reason he walks by her house is that they live in a small town and he’s also a bit weird, and that if he wanted to ask if she knew a good contractor he’d probably just ask.

          1. Fishsticks*

            Yeah, I think the main context to keep in mind here is the “small town” aspect. He’s not going out of his way to walk past her house, it’s just on his dog-walking route. He might enjoy the morning wave and get a little kick out of being social early in the morning, I have heard legends of people like that, but it’s not creepy.

            I think the dynamics of small towns can be so… close… in ways that cities just can’t be.

      1. Snow Day*

        “Right now I’m concentrating on finding curtains or blinds so I don’t have to see you every morning!”

    2. Random Bystander*

      Yeah–I had my house rewired relatively recently–it took *forever* (it seemed) as the whole house had to be re-wired. My house was built pre-WWII, and still had some of the original wiring (!) along with some partial re-wire that had been done probably in the 1970s (this house used to be my grandparents’, I inherited). Nothing really shows externally that so much work was done unless you go into my utility room and see the new breaker box. I did move to rocker switches almost everywhere (exception is one switch that is where the cats would be constantly hitting the switch when they’re on one of the cat trees, I have a traditional switch there, which is harder for them to change whether the lights are on/off). But those are all very good options for not hugely visible renovations that may end up taking way longer than hoped, but can be oh-so-necessary.

  5. Smithy*

    This letter is a good reminder about how a lot of LW’s really are aware of their coworkers being difficult due to malice or due to blind spots.

    And while amazing supervisors and coworkers can have those more direct conversations around those blind spots, if some gentle (or aggressive) nudging can get the behavior to ultimately stop – then you can save your capital and the difficult conversation for another issue. It’s certainly helpful to be aware for potential malice or more antagonistic dynamics that might be in play, but often times you can pick an approach that takes into account both.

  6. Momma Bear*

    Sounds like it all worked out. I think it’s actually a really good thing that he will wave as he walks by. It means he knows the boundary now and respects it.

  7. Pants*

    Yay!! This update makes me so happy because the idea of coworkers being in my house makes my skin crawl. I’m really glad it wasn’t a case of malicious people being malicious and using you, OP. Clueless people can be exhausting but maliciousness can suck the soul right out of you.

    Best of luck with the medical stuff!

  8. Fluffy Fish*

    Thanks for the update OP – Im glad it all resolved without much heartburn on your side.

    I wish you the best with your medical stuff and that things go as easy for you as possible.

  9. Activism in grief is admirable, but not mandatory*

    That walking by and waving story at the end has me rolling. What a world you live in, OP.

  10. Excel-sior*

    “We met at a coffee shop and there was no drama. That week she was laid off ”

    it sounds like there was a LITTLE drama.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yes – but the drama didn’t splash on OP too much. That’s about the best that you can hope for sometimes.

    2. Bluebird*

      This update made me both happy and sad. I am very glad for the LW that they were able to reclaim their home with little to no drama. I am sad that the LW is experiencing challenging health issues and that the colleague was laid off. In the original letter the LW wrote that the colleague was a friend before they worked together. I suspect some of the issues were a direct result of the pre-existing friendship and hope that LW recognizes that the issues were resolved because their (former?) friend lost their job… I am probably extra sensitive right now because I was laid off in January but this part of the letter read as cold to me.

  11. blood orange*

    SO glad this worked out for you, OP! I had empathetic stress just thinking about people being at my house all the time and unannounced.

    Best wishes on your health!

  12. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    Are you sure the boss is checking up on how far you’ve got with your renovations? I mean, you told a white lie, and you live in a small town so…
    I’m actually pretty sure the boss is pleased not to have to impinge on you now that he has a decent Internet connection.

  13. Mark*

    I had to laugh at “my boss’s daily walking route takes him past my house every morning. So every morning as I sip my coffee, he waves at me as he walks by” because my daily drive to work routine used to take me past the house of someone who worked for me. Each morning as I drove by, I, too, would give a hand gesture just below window height, but it wasn’t a wave.

  14. Marley's Ghost*

    Great update! I’m glad you got your coworkers out of your house, OP, and I hope your health concern resolves soon and well.

  15. Rutuja*

    This is a tricky situation, but it sounds like you’re doing the right thing by trying to set expectations ahead of time and compensate Joe if he has to work extra hours. Offering extra time off after the deadline is a nice touch, and it’s also a good idea to explain to Joe that the industry standard is for much longer hours than you expect of him, so he doesn’t feel like he’s being held to an unfair standard. Good luck!

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