coworker is always late because she stops for coffee, my boss told me to change my ringtone, and more

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

1. My coworker is routinely late to work because she stops for coffee first

I have a question about a coworker, Sansa, who is routinely ~5-10 minutes late (2-3 times a week). Her job does not require she be here at 9 on the dot. I know being a stickler about a few minutes is not good. However, every morning (not an exaggeration) she is late, she strolls in with Starbucks drinks/food … so in this case, it’s not “traffic was bad” or “the kids weren’t cooperating” — both of which I totally understand happen and aren’t cause for concern. To me, this is a known discretionary stop on her commute and she should plan appropriately for it. If one day the milk steamer explodes and she is late because of that … well, fine, but this is happening SO often. Honestly it just drives me crazy, but I know I have a pet peeve for habitual tardiness.

A further concern is that we are in the midst of recruiting (two offers have been made to new grads and we expect them to start within two months). These new employees will be at the same level, and doing similar work at Sansa (they’ll be more or less equals), and I’m worried Sansa is setting a bad precedent.

I’m not Sansa’s direct manager, but I do have seniority over her (I’m middle management, she is entry level). Am I crazy for wanting to say something to her? I could go to her manager? He and I have a good relationship — we’ve been working together for seven years and I consider us friends. But that seems extreme.

I think this is a you problem rather than a Sansa problem!

You have a pet peeve about habitual tardiness, but the fact that it’s your pet peeve doesn’t mean Sansa is doing something wrong. The way to solve this isn’t to talk to Sansa, but for you to realize that this isn’t really your business.

Many managers, including me, couldn’t care less if someone is routinely five or 10 minutes late, as long as their job doesn’t require coverage that starts earlier than that. The question for any manager should be: What is the work impact of this? If there’s no work impact and Sansa is doing good work, who cares? I suspect you care because of the principle of the thing — it annoys you on principle that she doesn’t take timeliness more seriously. But lots of things can annoy you on principle without it being something you should address.

Ultimately, if her manager doesn’t care, why do you need to? And if you’re thinking, “Well, her manager is making the wrong call” — it’s not smart to nickel and dime good employees over five or ten minutes, especially when a lot of people value that kind of minor flexibility in their jobs. (Personally I’d be really annoyed if my boss gave me crap about being five minutes late when I was doing great work and it didn’t have any impact.)

If your concern is that Sansa is setting a bad example for the two new grads who about to start, that’s something for those new hires’ managers to deal with. If you’re their manager and you really need them to arrive at 9 on the dot, then you can let them know that — saying something like, “You might see some people come in a little later than that, but for our work it’s really important that you’re here on time because of ____.” (But if you can’t figure out what to fill in the blank with, that’s a sign that you don’t have a reason to require that.)


2. My coworker copies everything I do

One of my coworkers and I share a desk, so we’re very close all day long. I’ve been getting super frustrated lately because it seems like she copies everything I do. She started bringing in the exact same breakfast as me, and then proceeded to copy my daily lunch as well. At the end of the day, she won’t pick up and leave until I do too. She’ll finish her work about an hour before the day ends, but as soon as 5 p.m. hits, she’ll suddenly start pretending to do work again until she notices I’m leaving too. I one time casually mentioned how I come in early each day due to my rough commute, and ever since then she’s been coming in early as well. She has a very light workload, so I know there is no reason for her to be in the office before 9. She also stares at me continuously throughout the day, which is super uncomfortable when I’m trying to get work done.

At first, I let it slide because I realized that as a new employee, she was probably just looking for a role model. But at this point, she’s been here almost a year and it frustrates me that she can’t form her own identity. Any tips on how I should handle it?

There’s not really a kind way to address most of this. The breakfast and lunch copying probably falls in the category of “sometimes coworkers have really weird, often annoying quirks,” which is just part of the deal of working with other people. But I do think you could ask her about the arrival/leaving time thing. For example, you could frame it as making sure she knows that your hours don’t have to be her hours, by saying something like “I’ve noticed you’ll often wait to leave until I’m leaving — you know you can actually leave whenever you’re done, right?” Or you could just ask “What’s bringing you in so early lately?”

And with the staring, I’d recommend meeting her eyes and saying, “Did you need me?” Do that a couple of times and it might be enough to make her realize it and stop. But otherwise, there’s the more direct “You keep looking at me — what’s up?” and, if necessary, “You’re staring and it’s unnerving me!”

Read an update to this letter here.


3. My employee keeps adjusting himself while we’re talking

I have a male employee who will adjust his balls (over top of his pants) during most conversations I have with him. It’s distracting, a bit uncomfortable, and I have no idea if I should have this conversation with him or if so, how I would approach this issue in a respectful way. Does he even know he is doing it? Am I being unreasonable in pointing it out as a habit that needs to change? Is this common and I only notice with him? I’m too embarrassed to even bring this up at work to ask anyone else how they could approach it. Thank you for some practical guidance and honest feedback on if this is worth the energy to discuss.

Well, this is incredibly awkward. You shouldn’t have to tell him that regularly touching his own genitalia during a work meeting is not okay, and I’m annoyed on your behalf that you need to.

I do think you should, though, because he should not be touching his balls while talking to people at work. I mean, most people aren’t going to take issue with one quick, discreet adjustment — but this does not sound like that.

After reading your letter, I had a good solid five minutes of not being able to come up with language for you to use, but I’ve come up with three options.

You could pointedly say, “Do you need a minute to yourself?”

Or you could be more direct: “Could you do that adjusting in the bathroom?”

Or: “I would feel more comfortable if you could do that in private.” And you could follow that up with, “Assume your coworkers might feel the same way.”

It’s going to be awkward, no matter what you say! Because referring to an employee’s balls is awkward AF. But he’s the one causing the awkwardness, not you, and you should be perfectly comfortable letting him shoulder all of that burden himself.


Read an update to this letter here.

4. My boss asked me to change my ringtone

Is it worth it to try to push back when you’re the only one in an office of 10 people asked by your manager to change the ringtone on your personal cell phone? My standard one (that’s the one when anyone calls, but I have distinctive ringtones for certain folks) is the theme from the Beverly Hills Cop movies, and I keep my volume at about 20-25%. Everyone else in the office has their ringtones on full blast. I know because I hear them. One is a particularly shrill old-style telephone ring, and another is the bugle call “Release the Hounds” from a fox hunt.

In any case, mine’s not bad, and it’s not loud, but I’m the only one asked to change it. Is it worth pushing back on?

I mean, I think everyone in your office should be keeping their phones on vibrate; this sounds like way too much jarring noise.

But I don’t think you can push back on this. Your manager has told you that she finds yours in particular to be disruptive (and maybe others have told her that too), and that warrants changing it. Or if you feel strongly about keeping it, then keep your phone on vibrate when you’re at work.

(And actually, even if this request had come from a generally reasonable peer, rather than your manager, I’d say the same thing. It can be hard to work in an office full of other people’s noises, and if someone tells you you’re making a noise that’s particularly driving them round a bend, it’s kind to try to accommodate them if you can do so without major inconvenience. Even if you feel like other people are just as bad!)


Read an update to this letter here.

{ 332 comments… read them below }

  1. Happy meal with extra happy*

    Major props to OP3 with the update. I could NEVER say anything like that to a colleague, no matter how oblique or how awful the constant adjusting would be.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Or else all my filters would malfunction at once and I’d yell something like “god damn it, Tom, will you stop playing with your effing balls already?!?!” and both of us would have to resign out of shame.

      1. Rook Thomas*

        And this is why I’m glad I’m wfh today . . . because I was snickering out loud at the post and this comment!

  2. Sheila*

    I had a classmate in college who was guilty of the adjusting thing any time he was nervous. Which, unfortunately, meant he did it any time he talked to girls, and while giving a class presentation, and while auditioning for the school’s annual theater production. I never mentioned it to him, but it was a frequent topic of gossip for a while and I kinda felt sorry for him because it held him back in life and he didn’t seem to be aware.

    1. TPS reporter*

      more props to the OP for mentioning it gently! Im sure he wasn’t aware either. it could also be an involuntary thing like a Tourettes symptom

    2. zuzu*

      I had a professor who did it right in front of the class. Only he used the back of a chair and didn’t break stride in his lecture. Same thing when he picked his nose.

      Brilliant guy, but his social skills left a bit to be desired.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      I feel bad for the guy, too. He probably had no clue he was doing it and no idea why girls avoided him, he didn’t get the part, etc. But that’s like the most awkward subject to broach…

      College age me (female) would have died rather than tell a male student that he kept jingling his spare change. I imagine the teachers didn’t want to point it out because nothing good can come from a professor admitting that they’ve been paying attention to a student’s fig leaf region.

      I hope someone who cares for him finally had the ba…er… courage to tell him about it..

  3. Jane*

    Who leaves their phone ringer on, though? I haven’t since probably 15+ years ago. And in an office, no less!

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, I gave up on having personalized rings (I had “Telephone” by Lady Gaga) years ago and I’m more often than not in situations where I have to have it silent anyway.

      1. Czhorat*

        The letter was over five years ago. Maybe the OP has gone to silent since.

        I used to use a voice recording of myself saying “ring ring, ring ring” but have pretty much lost interest in spending effort customizing my phone.

        1. Salad Daisy*

          Yup, I had special ringtones, specific ones for specific people, and so forth. Got a new phone and it just no longer seemed important.

        2. Quill*

          The only person I know who still has a custom ringtone is my mom, who recorded my childhood dog because most of the other rings annoy her.

          1. Random Dice*

            I have custom ring tones only for alarms that are reminders.

            “Take your pills”
            “Water the plants”
            “Go to PT”

            I have ADHD so use alarms all day every day, and it helps to have some alarms that just tell me what I’m reminding myself about.

    2. CityMouse*

      My friend has had the same text notification since high school (it’s a TV quote) and I’ll fully admit it’s massively annoying. But I’d never tell her that.

      1. AnneMoliviaColemuff*

        Having text notifications on is a huge bugbear of mine – it’s not time sensitive! That and keypad noises. I don’t say anything because it’s very much a me problem, but it’s the worst.

        1. Lavender*

          Texts can be time sensitive, although in general I think it’s better to call if it truly can’t wait. But yeah, I hate having to constantly hear other people’s notification sounds and my phone is always on silent or vibrate. If I’m expecting an important text, I’ll keep my phone out so I’ll see the screen light up.

          I am fully with you on the keypad noises, though. No excuse for that.

          1. Quill*

            Honestly I think no application (aside from your phone call app) should be allowed to make noise by default. You want it to make noises, you have to turn that on.

          2. Red*

            Even if it’s time sensitive, you can keep your phone on vibrate. I haven’t heard someone’s ringtone in well over a decade, personalised/audible ringtones died with the switch to smartphones in my area.

    3. Usagi*

      Yeah I sometimes have it on when at home, but out of the house it’s always just on vibrate! You rarely hear ringtones out and about now.

    4. Quoth the Raven*

      I do when I’m home and when I’m out and about and the phone’s in my pocket because I don’t always feel it vibrate and sometimes I deal with time sensitive assignments. Besides, I honestly don’t mind it going off.

      But I do set it to vibrate when I very occasionally go to the office and when I’m visiting others, and I turn it off in places where I’m generally expected to do so

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      I do, at a very low volume. I get a very large number of emails/IMs, and the ringer is how I distinguish calls from the near-constant vibration from emails. Mine is the old-school telephone ring, and no one has ever said a word to me about it. Most other people in the office use the iPhone default ring, so whenever that tone sounds, at least half the people in the room check to see if it’s them. As long as it’s not ear-splitting or really annoying, this isn’t something that’s been an issue in my office.

      I also don’t keep my phone on my person when I’m out and about – it’s usually in my bag, so I don’t feel it vibrating.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      Hi, I do!

      I have a 4yo at home, and my father lives in a supportive living facility, so I have my ringer on in case of emergency.

    7. Justme, The OG*

      I do. I don’t always register that it’s my phone when it’s only on vibrate.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        I do too. Especially at work, where I’m often around equipment/vehicles that mask a phone vibration.

        On the other hand I rarely get calls during work hours… and when I do it’s mostly from my boss.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I have my phone ringer on, but I get like…maybe one or two phone calls a month, so I doubt it’s bothering anybody.

    9. annon for this*

      I just got out of an office where the extremely competent admin assistant had “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede as their ringtone. I had to Google the song name because it begins
      Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
      Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
      Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga

      I will take bugle noises or old time phone ring sounds at ANY volume over that at 1/4 volume any day.

      I never said anything because we had an otherwise good working relationship but am certainly appreciating not hearing that in my new position!

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Nearly lost it when a family member had super annoying ***long*** sound for their text on a family vacation. (Felt like 5+ seconds when it was probably 2.). I don’t mind text notification sounds or rings, but they should be less than a second like the default ding is.

        Don’t mind rings either which I expect to go on longer but it should sound like a some form of phone ring and not audio clips of quotes and songs.

        1. boutelle*

          I’d say some people might need longer rings for whatever reason, like being hard of hearing, and in whatever sound they can respond to most easily.

        2. Modesty Poncho*

          There’s no “should” about this, people should do whatever makes them happy and lets them recognize their phone. Mine is an 8-bar clip from a video game battle music piece that immediately gets my attention and starts conversations.

      2. There You Are*

        And, see, I’d hate that ringtone simply because then I’d have the song stuck in my head for days on end. Then, right when my brain finally decides to pick another ear worm, the admin assistant’s phone would ring and — wham — back to “Hooked on a Feeling” again.

      3. Random Dice*

        I love that song, but honestly find that part of it so racist that I rarely listen to it much these days.

    10. alienor*

      I switch mine on when my daughter (college student, lives with me) goes out for the night, just in case she runs into a situation. Other than that it’s always on silent.

    11. lilsheba*

      Umm I do. I have fun with ringtones and I intend to use them. And I wont change them for anyone. When I did work at an office I put it on vibrate but now that I work from home it’s on all the time, and when I go out it’s on also. My main ringtone is Tubular Bells right now and I love it.

    12. My Name is Mudd*

      Exactly. What type of monster doesn’t have their phone on vibrate? Even worse, an office full of monsters with the same behavior. Do they all work with my Mother?

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I’m a monster because I need to hear the phone ringing and will miss calls if it’s on vibrate? Seems a bit dramatic to suggest that. I’m not hurting anyone by not having my phone on silent.

        1. Good Enough For Government Work*

          You’ll be driving a lot of us crazy. Short of the odd emergency call, I consider it the height of rudeness to hear someone’s phone going in the office.

    13. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I am Team Silent/Vibrate At All Times, but I can understand why some people may not be due to needing to be absolutely sure you don’t miss a call from a kid/dependent adult/work or because you just like the way it sounds.


      If that is the case, you are ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN from leaving your phone on your desk when you are not within arm’s reach of your desk. That’s awesome that you still love having the opening bars of The Phantom of the Opera so much that you want to hear it every time your phone rings…and that means it should be with you at all times so you never miss an opportunity to enjoy it, yes?

    14. Dahlia*

      I only get phone calls maybe twice a week so. Doesn’t really matter lol. Also I want to answer it when it does ring and if I can’t hear it I probably won’t.

    15. Random Dice*

      My coworker, in early 2020. It was – and I’m not making this up – a guy who had a woman saying “Hey! Hey!!”” in a really insistent way.

      I wanted to MURDER that guy by the third time his damn phone went off.

    16. tangerineRose*

      No one’s going to mention Weird Al’s “Everybody hates my ringtone” song? That’s going through my mind now.

  4. NPOQueen*

    It’s me, I’m that coworker happily strolling in five minutes late with Starbucks. Unless my boss has her door closed, I wave good morning to her with Starbucks in my hand. I once quit a job that made me clock in/clock out once the non-exempt salary change policy went through a few years ago; we had a six minute grace period! Then they shortened it to three minutes! I was late daily, the computer took two minutes to boot! If a coworker complained to my manager about 5-10 minutes in the morning, they are both watching me too closely and also ignoring that I often work through lunch/leave late. My boss is pleased with me, that’s what matters most. Please don’t deny me my extra five minutes of sleep and my daily coffee habit.

    1. Cat Tree*

      The way I see it, there’s no functional difference between stopping for coffee and getting in 10 minutes late, and showing up on the dot without coffee but then spending those 10 minutes in the break room making work-coffee (except you probably get less-good coffee).

      For jobs that don’t require strict coverage I doubt I would even notice if my employee came in a few minutes late. I don’t have the time to so closely track my employees’ time.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Great point and why do I suspect that the LW would’ve had zero problems with the second scenario?

      2. ferrina*

        Truth. Some days I technically clock in on time, but then get coffee, chat, essentially warm up my brain for the hour. Honestly, I might as well not be in. But then I’m warmed up and able to get all my work done. That second part is what my boss cares about.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah I used to show up to work 5-10 minutes late with Starbucks but my coworkers would clock in on time and then spend a half hour making coffee and getting breakfast in the office and I would rarely leave earlier than 20 minutes late, so I think it balanced out.

        That place was full of gossiping busybodies so I’m sure I annoyed someone like OP, but no one ever said anything directly to me.

      4. MassMatt*

        I get that the letter is referring to a coworker and not a report (so not LW’s business) but I’m surprised how widespread the feeling is among commenters that expectations for on-time arrival are unreasonable.

        Maybe it’s because my early jobs were in retail and call centers, where having coverage was very much an issue, I realize many jobs are not like that. But I’m amazed that the “what’s the big deal if I come in 10 minutes late every day” attitude here is so common.

        At most if not all of my early jobs this would get you a series of warnings, and eventually you’d be fired.

        1. NaN*

          Alison always makes a distinction between jobs where being on time matters (retail and call centers are perfect examples) and jobs where it doesn’t. In the vast majority of office jobs, it really doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. I think this is something that has changed a lot in the last couple of decades, though.

          For myself, my current job doesn’t even have the concept of “on time” and literally no one bats an eye if you get online / in the office at 8, 9, or 10 as long as you’re meeting reasonable deadlines and showing up for meetings. If a manger, much less a coworker, started policing what time I arrived, that would be so out of line with the company (and industry) culture that it would become something for _their_ manager to address with them, not me.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          I mean, the answer Alison gave explains the why behind this pretty well. If I’m a good employee getting all my work done and I’m salaried-exempt (meaning my exact work hours to the minute aren’t relevant for things like payroll), you should treat me like an adult and let me start work when I get there without annoying me about a couple minutes here and there. I’m happier/less stressed and you as the manager lose literally nothing.

          Alison is also clear that situations like the ones you describe – where phones need to be covered at a specific time or a door needs to be unlocked for the public at a specific time – are the exception to this principle. Obviously there are roles like the ones you describe where flexibility makes less sense. If the call center starts taking calls at 8 am, people need to be there ready to answer the phones at that time. (But there is a reason those places have so much turnover, and a lot of it is that feeling of being overly micromanaged like an elementary school child is by their teachers). It also makes sense to limit flexibility if you’re dealing with hourly employees who get paid differently based on the exact number of minutes and times/days worked (e.g. if you need to pay them for overtime). But for an exempt office job where being butt in seat at exactly the right minute doesn’t matter, why are you wasting energy worrying about it?

          I had one job where it was not necessary for me to be at the office right at 9 am (no butt-in-seat assignment for me ever started before 9:30 am there), but the office policy was that I had to clock in and out on a physical machine just like the hourly employees did. My manager didn’t care and affirmatively told us that if we didn’t need coverage for something, not to notify her if we happened to be running only a couple of minutes late. However, the office executives very much cared. Guess what happened? People showed up and clocked in at 9 am, but also stood by the machine at 4:55 waiting to clock out exactly at 5 pm. They also would show up to work, clock in, and leave the building to go to the Starbucks across the street.
          Malicious compliance. When you treat adults like children who can’t manage their own time, they give you exactly what you ask for and are actively incentivized to do the bare minimum for you.

          1. NPOQueen*

            Ooh, I’ll remember that one. Currently the Starbucks I visit is on the way to work from where the bus lets me off, and I always order ahead so that I’m not waiting around too much. When my old job made all the non-exempt employees start clocking in and had a six-minute late window, the window at least made sense because I worked at a hospital and this was mostly a process for the nurses. They absolutely needed coverage and six minutes is a big deal when someone’s life is on the line. But I did admin stuff and didn’t even cover the phones, 5-10 minutes meant nothing because I always hit my 40 hours. When I had events or had to provide coverage for someone, I was usually early (I know myself, I am not an on-time person for anything unless I really try).

            Having to be exactly on time isn’t something I can consistently do, which is why I don’t have jobs that consistently make me do that. And when my old job changed the rules on me mid-way, I quit. So if I coworker started pressing me or reporting me for my 5-10 minute lateness, we’d have a serious talk. Public transport is unpredictable and I refuse to catch a bus 20 minutes early just to prevent possibly being five minutes late. Time flexibility is crucial to my work-life balance!

        3. Kella*

          All of the comments that I’m reading are making it clear that punctuality as a value is entirely context-dependent. If your job is coverage-based or if being late impacts other people negatively, or if your work quality is suffering in addition to regularly coming to work late, then being late is potentially a big deal. If none of those things are true, being late *shouldn’t* be a big deal and lots of companies use it as an arbitrary measurement of performance when it’s actually authoritarian and useless to enforce. If coming in 10 minutes late everyday has absolutely no negative impact on anyone and makes your life easier, then it should not be a big deal.

          1. Rainy*

            A few years ago my office had a clock-watcher. She was in a coverage role and over time it seemed like she was resentful that most of the office are not, and she started really watching arrival times. At least, she paid a lot of attention to mine, and I assume I wasn’t the only one. The last straw for me was she she started *saying things to me* about my “tardiness”. Luckily, the office had a pair of side doors, and I started using the side door nearest my office (which she could not see) and stopped going in through the lobby at all. (She complained that I wasn’t saying hi to her in the mornings when she realized I wasn’t using either of the doors she could monitor. I smiled angelically at her and said “Hi, Robin” and immediately walked out.)

            She did a bunch of other ridiculous crap but in retrospect, the way she took it on herself to “monitor” people above her in staff and seniority with job functions that don’t require a butts-in-seats kind of approach was only the first of her many red flags.

            1. Rainy*

              I do not know how I managed to type “above her in staff” when I meant “title” but hey, it’s Friday.

        4. Rainy*

          My early jobs were also in retail, food, and call centers, and I am very happy about the flexibility of my current, non-coverage based jobs. My day nominally starts at 8:30. Sometimes I’m in at 8:30. Sometimes I’m in closer to 9. Sometimes I’m in at 8:00 or 8:15. Expectations for “on-time arrival” in a job that isn’t coverage-based often are unreasonable, and that’s probably why that feeling is so widespread.

          If I miss an appointment or a meeting, that’s a problem. If all my work gets done on deadline and it happens at a time of day that you don’t approve of, that sounds like a you problem, not a me problem.

        5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          I just realized I’ve been late to my job for 4 years and nobody has noticed

        6. Jessica*

          Right, but those are jobs in which work has to be done at a specific time. You need someone answering calls when customers call in, you need someone at the register when the store opens.

          Not every job functions like that. In tech, other than being around for meetings, it doesn’t really matter whether I do my work from 9am-5pm or 9pm-5am, as long as it’s done when people who build off it need it.

          There’s no inherent virtue to being present in the office at a particular time for its own sake.

          If you need to meet with people? Yes. If people need you around to answer questions? Yes. If you have to talk to clients in different time zones and standard operating hours are when that works? Yes.

          But just for the sake of obeying an arbitrary rule? No.

          Most of the jobs I’ve worked at (at least pre-pandemic–WFH has changed a lot of things) have defined “core hours.” Usually 10-3 or 10-4. They expect you to work a full 40-hour week, but meetings happen between those hours to give people flexibility about when they arrive and leave.

        7. Bea*

          For real. People are saying that it doesn’t affect anyone else but wonder if that’s true or if people just THINK it’s not affecting other people.

          1. Rainy*

            I’m definitely interested in hearing more about this: let’s say I’m your coworker. How am I materially affected by you showing up 10 minutes later than your usual time?

          2. Moonstone*

            It’s mind blowing to me that some people can read these cogent, logical explanations for why it truly doesn’t matter if some people arrive to work late / at a different time / etc., but still say, “nah, everyone else is wrong and I’m right.” I just don’t get it.

            There are so many jobs where it absolutely does not make a difference if someone shows up 5/10/30 minutes “late” – the offices of the world would be well served if the self-appointed hall monitors just freaking stopped.

            1. Rainy*

              It’s the “you just THINK that” for me. Yeah, I do think that, because I know how my job works, and I’m correct.

        8. There You Are*

          The problem is that it never goes both ways. No one ever says, “Hey, I noticed that you got here at 8:55 this morning, so why don’t you log off and head home at 5:55 instead of 6:00?”

          Also, when 85% of the workers in a multi-million person city all try to get to work such that their co-workers see them absolutely no later than 8:00 AM or 9:00 AM, then all of those people get to waste more gas and more time and get in more accidents and clog the roads than if nitpicky, clock-watching co-workers and managers just paid attention to the quality / quantity of someone’s work instead of what time someone walked into the freaking building.

          “Getting to the office before or exactly on time” is such a dumb, wasteful metric if it has absolutely nothing to do with the job. It’s like being proud of being called the Grammar Police and puffing up with an inflated ego by correcting strangers on their mispronunciations and misspellings. It’s purely an exercise in self-aggrandizement and offers no substantive value whatsoever. (“Well *I* get here every day by 9:00. I am, therefore, a better person!”)

          The person who says, “Harumph! My co-worker comes in 10 minutes late 2-3 times a week for a job where start times have nothing to do with the quality of the work,” sounds exactly the same as the person who says, “Harumph! My co-worker wears white socks to work 2-3 times a week!”

        9. Old-fashioned*

          I’m with you MassMatt. Regardless of whether the job requires you to be there at a certain time, I think it says a lot about the person and how she values punctuality. I mean, can’t she just leave for work 10 minutes earlier? Why does it have to be every day? Is she just lazy? Is she one of those people you have to tell that you want them there half an hour before the actual time so they will be there on time? I just think it shows a lack of respect for the employer.

          1. ExemptEmployee*

            If her job does not require her to be there at a certain time, why are you and OP assuming she is “late”? As I see it, her standard self-chosen hours are 9:15-6:15 unless her actual manager says otherwise. My job also has no standard start time. Some people come in at 7 and leave earlier, some come in at 10 and stay later. There is no obligation that they arrive on the hour of their chosen start hour. All that matters is they are there for all their scheduled meetings and they accomplish all their required project deliverables on time. If they come in every day at 8:43, then their chosen start time is 8:43.

          2. Jamoche*

            When everyone else is trying to get somewhere at exactly 8AM, leaving 10 minutes earlier is not going to help. It’s far more likely you’d have to leave as much as an hour earlier.

            My mom had a job where she had to be there at 7AM, and if one of our cars was in the shop I’d drive her to work. We’d sail down the freeway unobstructed, and on the way home I’d drive past bumper to bumper traffic.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I had a job that I could not arrive at at 8:00.

              I could get there at 7:30 and I could get there at 8:30, but the period between 7:45 and 8:15 just disappeared into some traffic vortex where no matter what time I left I wouldn’t arrive in that window. It was really frustrating when I had 8am meetings because I’d have to leave the house before 7 and then arrive super early or chances were I’d get stuck in traffic until the meeting was half over.

        10. Burger Bob*

          I feel you. I agree it probably ultimately doesn’t matter for this specific scenario, especially given that the actual manager doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. But for me, a person who has pretty exclusively worked in retail, call center, front desk coverage, etc., it’s like culture shock seeing the number of people who insist that timeliness doesn’t matter, even for a desk/office job. Conversations like this always make me wildly envious of desk jobs.

          1. Rainy*

            I mean, here’s the thing: for a lot of office jobs, at least the ones I’ve had, it’s not that “timeliness doesn’t matter” per se, it’s that if you’re not on deadline with something and you don’t have a meeting you’ll be late to, it doesn’t really matter when exactly you get to work. You’re doing your work, you’re meeting your responsibilities, and that’s what matters. If I have a meeting at 8am it doesn’t matter that 8:30 is when I generally start, I have to be there for the meeting, and if I’m not there for that 8am meeting I’m late, even if I usually would arrive around 8:30.

            If I miss a meeting, that’s a big problem because meetings are part of my job and missing a meeting affects more than just me. If I miss a deadline, that’s a problem for the same reasons. But we don’t have meetings at 8:30 every day (or honestly any days) and if I had an 8am deadline on something I’m working on, I’d finish it the day before, because an 8am deadline is not a real thing if your usual hours are 8:30-6 (I work a 9/80).

            I’ve worked in jobs where coverage was part or most of my job, jobs where I didn’t manage my own schedule, etc. I’ve had that experience, and yes, in jobs like those, the definition of timeliness is “being in my chair at the time my day starts”, but for a job like mine, the definition of timeliness is that I’m on time to meetings, that I respond to communications with minimal lag, and that I get my deliverables done on deadline. None of that requires my bum to hit my seat cushion at 8:30 on the dot, so that “bums in seats” definition of timeliness simply doesn’t apply for me.

      5. Caliente Papillon*

        This is exactly the problem with these sticklers for time. I have seen these same people who complain about someone being a few minutes late, be the ones doing all kinds of non-productive stuff…including watching what everyone else is doing.
        At my last job – toxic af – the head of HR, who also acted as CFO (yup) told my new supervisor that she needed to talk to me about time. I clocked in 15 min late a lot. So she’s not making her full hours? She asked. Well yes, he told her, she does work the extra time and more, in general. AND she can ask to work the 915-515 shift instead of 9-5 and THAT would be fine. She just can’t come at 915 and leave at 515 if according to our records she should be working 9-5. Literally a bunch of dumb assess. I mean I hate to even mention these were all a bunch of old white men.
        Needless to say, I’m not there (they had the nerve to be surprised when I left after I had a conversation with them about my needs which they said they’d revisit after I trained my next supervisor), she’s not there (after lawsuit which she won) Apparently, this not lost 15 minutes of time was something that was really egregious but not the guy who was sexually a harassing everyone. For years.

        1. Caliente Papillon*

          And, I have to say, when I worked events even if i had to be there at 6am I was there ON TIME if not early. Because I needed to be.

      6. Jessica*


        A focus on presenteeism just demonstrates a lack of understanding of actual productivity.

    2. Other Alice*

      LW hasn’t mentioned what time she leaves. If she routinely drops everything at 5, I agree it might be annoying, but maybe she leaves later to make up for it. But really the most important thing to consider is whether her job is getting done, and a coworker doesn’t have stand to judge that.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Right — when I had “9-5” jobs where culturally everyone stayed until 6, I was damned if I was going to worry about being a few minutes late.

      2. 1-800-BrownCow*

        I disagree that it would be annoying if they come in slightly late but then always clock out at 5. I work with plenty of people who may stroll in a few minutes late and always clock out at the same time, but are always working and getting things done during their work hours. Then those that come in early and make sure they’re at their desk and ready to go at 9 am on the dot, but then are chatty throughout the day, take frequent coffee and bathroom breaks, etc, maybe stay a few minutes past their time, but really don’t accomplish much. You can’t judge how well someone does their job by what time they clock in and clock out. Your last sentence is spot on though, if they’re getting their job done, then coworker shouldn’t judge.

      3. Cait*

        Exactly. I get annoyed at friends who are habitually late (usually more than 10 minutes though) but that’s because it negatively impacts me (the movie is about to start, we have to catch a train, etc.). OP doesn’t mention being negatively impacted by her coworkers tardiness (I wouldn’t even call 5 minutes “late”) so they really don’t have a leg to stand on. It might be a pet peeve but, unless it’s impacting you, leave it alone.

      4. Ace in the Hole*

        As long as her work gets done, why should it matter if she leaves at 5 on the dot or comes in a few minutes late?

        I’ve worked with people who were sticklers about never working a minute of overtime, who left exactly at the end of their shifts and routinely came in a few minutes late… but were very efficient and focused, accomplishing more in their shift than most people who worked longer.

        Not to mention you might not know how much extra a coworker does. Personally I’ll often arrive a few minutes after my scheduled start time (when the work isn’t time-sensitive) and usually leave right on time, but when something unusual happens I’ll stay late or come in on a day off. In my position 5-10 minutes each day doesn’t make much difference so long as I clock my time accurately, but the few times per year I stay a couple hours late or work an extra shift on Sunday are much more important.

      5. There You Are*

        What? Nah. If my co-worker comes in a little late and still leaves promptly at 5:00 — and none of their work ever gets pushed on to me — then why on earth would I care if they put in an 8-hour day or a 7.75- hour day???

    3. Moodbling*

      I have a somewhat unpredictable disability and sometimes I’m as much as 30 minutes late. But I don’t have a converage-based job, my work is constantly highly praised by everyone who encounters it, and I stay late to make up the time.

      Plus, my primary coworker is an extreme early bird who wants to go home as soon as possible. If anything urgent comes up after she’s gone, it still gets handled the same day – by me.

      1. listen up fives, a ten is speaking*

        But that is not what LW is talking about (not that I agree with them). They are specifically talking about discretionary stops causing lateness.

          1. Usagi*

            That doesn’t mean it’s germane to every conversation, though- this one is solely focused on coffee stops.

          2. Tangerina Warbleworth*

            Ha! Yes, we have hereditary disabilities because we just aren’t trying hard enough. Well, hello, Father J, how are you? GOD (literally)

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          And OP’s day isn’t affected by coworker, so this is a control issue.
          This sort of thing is like the OP asking if coworkers REALLY needed a FRAMED PICTURE of family in their cubes. “Will they forget what their loved ones look like?”
          Try something like coming in five minutes late and realizing the office is just fine, your day is just fine, everyone is just fine. It could be freeing.

          **Moodbling affects coworker. I think the tag team/synergy thing is great. If coworker didn’t realize it, she was a narrow viewing ass. Healthy places allow this to grow organically. Morning people/Night people; public transport/driving; create a work balance for each other. Should be helping, not bean counting.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Hear, hear! My first job out of college (in Home Country) had strict hours. I’ve got stories! (will reply to my own comment with them.) Ever since then, I refused to apply, or proceed to interview for, a job with strict hours. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it, so why bother trying?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        So, stories, but first, BG. The job was at a manufacturing plant. We had key cards (sort of) and several booths at the entrance that we had to go through to clock in at 8:00 and out at 5:12. It was a small town and the plant was a 30 minute walk down a main road from where everyone lived. No one had cars, there was no public transportation, so everyone walked. Honestly, every morning between 7:30 and 8:00, that main road looked like a protest march but without the signs… hundreds of people walking together. We’d get in and stand in line to the booth that had our card. When we passed the tourniquet in front of the booth, the employee working that booth would give us our card. I believe we turned the cards in for lunch too, and got them back when we returned from lunch (also on a strict schedule). At 5:12 we’d stand in line again to turn our cards back in. At 8:00 a bell would ring, like in a school. Anyone still in line after that point got written up and their name sent to their department head, even if late by one second.

        Now the stories

        – My team of 15 shared an open-office area with an enclosed nook in a corner. Every morning, all women would head for the nook as soon as we came in. In the nook was a hanging mirror and a curling iron. We’d take turns doing our hair and makeup for the day. There were about 8 of us. The guys would spend that time chatting amongst themselves. Also inside the nook were a small table, a big glass jar, a teapot to steep tea, the tea, snacks, and a heating element. After we were all done with makeup and hair, we’d fill the jar with water and make tea for everyone. At 9:00 the entire team would sit down together at a long communal table and have tea (and chat again). At 9:30 we’d finally get to work. No work was done by anyone up to that point.

        – One time the big clock was ONE MINUTE ahead and dozens of people got written up

        – A popular way to take two half-days off to run errands and such was to leave for lunch and come back after lunch the next day; with the direct manager’s knowledge and approval, or the team’s if manager was out.

        – one day I was 3 minutes late and got written up. My direct boss and I got called into the department head’s office. He said he’d had several writeups sent to him that week, but that I was the most tardy with my 3 minutes. Everyone else was one minute late. He then followed that up by saying that, in order to make the department look good, next time if I saw I wouldn’t make it on time, to just go home and come in after lunch instead. He chuckled through that entire speech and honest to god laughed when he got to “she’s the most tardy” part.

        – You better believe that not a lick of work was done after 5:12 unless there was an emergency. The guys stayed behind to play computer games or dominoes (I was the only single woman without kids in the group and stayed late with them sometimes). Everyone else was in line to get out of there by 5:05 or so.

        That job definitely formed my opinion of strict hours of something that only needs to be enforced if there is an actual need for it (customer-facing, coverage-based, continuous flow manufacturing etc), and avoided whenever there isn’t one. It was a total productivity killer for us at that job.

      2. boutelle*

        Really? Because that seems situational-dependent, as in, if I’m unemployed or under-employed, and lack health insurance, a “strict hours” requirement is a walk in the park.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That is a good point, I guess I had the luxury of looking for work while already having a job and the perspective of running out of money/not having healthcare not looming over me. Don’t know what I would’ve done otherwise.

          I also did most (if not all) of my job searching when the kids were young and at that time, to me, agreeing to strict hours would’ve just been setting myself up for failure. Why take a job with a condition that I wouldn’t be able to meet for reasons outside of my control (kids, traffic to daycare/school), just to fail probation and lose it again in a few months.

      3. Not A Girl Boss*

        This question reminded me of my own story that was traumatizing at the time, but now we look back and laugh.

        My first job out of college, I had the best boss I’ve ever had. He was kind, educational, smart, the right amount of involved, and… had a military background, if you can see where this was going.
        My boss had a daily meeting that started at 7am, and I was not a morning person. Neither was my senior coworker who had worked for boss for years. The meeting attendees were just me, coworker, and boss.
        One day I was a few minutes late and made the decision to stop for coffee anyway because caffeine seemed more important at the time. My coworker just so happened to be behind me in the drive through. So on this particular day, we both strolled in 5 minutes late holding coffee.
        My boss LOST IT on both of us. I worked with him for 5 years and never saw him as angry except for that day. He monologued for a solid 30 minutes about ‘kids these days’ and also went on a tangent to my coworker about how he was ‘ruining my work ethic’.
        I think it just felt an extra level of disrespectful to him to see us with coffee cups in our hands because it made it such an intentional choice to be late?? Or maybe he was just fed up with our chronic lateness and this was the straw that broke the camels back.

        Anyway, you better believe we started hanging out in the parking lot to finish our coffee before arriving late in the morning, lol.
        Old Boss and I are still friends, and sometimes we laugh about the Coffee Incident. I think he realized its a ‘him thing’ after he’d calmed down.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Well, that sounds like it was a productive use of 30 minutes of three people’s work time! I’m glad he did realize it was a “him thing”. A daily 7am meeting would’ve done me in for sure. At best, my body would be in the meeting, but my brain wouldn’t be awake until 8 or so.

          1. NPOQueen*

            Unless someone’s life is on the line, I couldn’t do a 7am meeting either! And daily too? I would get fired from that job so fast. Honestly, I’m not fully online until about 10am, so if any work happens before then, it was an unexpected win for everyone. My work culture is meeting-heavy, so I usually schedule calls where I can listen but not speak for the first hour of work. I do spend 5-10 minutes every now and then in the lunchroom talking to people, but much of my job is relationship-focused, and people seeing me (and remembering me) offers a lot of benefits in the work portion of what I do.

            1. Not a Girl Boss*

              I work in manufacturing. It’s a deeply unfortunate fact for this late owl that the higher up you go in manufacturing, the earlier you have to get to the plant. I’m a senior manager now and have meetings starting at 6, because everyone wants to have the information as early as possible and then make decisions before first shift starts at 7.

              I briefly held a job last year where I could roll out of bed at 7:45, and I felt the most alive I’d been in years. Like that Claritin clear commercial when the fog gets peeled away.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Early in my work life someone gave me a brilliant tip: keep a travel mug in your bag/vehicle. If you’re running late and have a drink in a to-go cup, pour it into your travel mug before you arrive.

          Fair or not, many people see disposable cups and assume it means you stopped for coffee when you were already running late… but they see a travel mug and assume the delay happened after you made your morning coffee. Nevermind that making coffee at home can take just as long as buying it from a shop!

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I went on a waste-reduction tear pre-covid, acquired a collection of reusable insulated coffee mugs, and started bringing them with me when I went to coffee shops. No one has any idea what’s in my mug. It has pac-man on it. Did I stop at the coffee shop? WHO CAN SAY? (Yes. The answer is always yes. If you know me you know the answer.)

    5. TootsNYC*

      As a manager, I care only when things get started sort of late, or where it feels really disrespectful; I’ve worked at places where I stayed until 11pm getting things ready for the next deparmtment in the workflow. (I had to prepare and order materials that would then be delivered in the morning, since that supplier worked overnights)

      And then I’d come in very promptly to receive the package and make copies and distribute.

      The team would walk in at 9:20, spend 20 minutes ordering breakfast from a local deli, and only pick up the stuff I’d left for them at 10am.
      Then they’d complain if they had to stay past quitting time. (I was the deadline & goal setter, so they complained to me–but they’d have been done by 5 if they’d picked up the materials at 9:20.

      I finally said something about it to my counterpart, the head of that department.

      It led me to saying to my future teams: I don’t care if you’re a little late, but if you’re late, I want you to start working as soon as you get here. If you want to putz around getting coffee, so that your actual work starts later, then get in early.

      Then once I had a job where I gave my team comp time for late-night crunches. The first month, I asked them to give me the list of their extra hours.
      And I had to tell one of them: I’m not giving official comp time for staying 15 minutes, or working through lunch. You get that time back in other ways–if you have to stay home because you’re waiting for the locksmith, I don’t count that, you don’t have to take PTO. If you take a long lunch during quiet times to catch up with a friend, I probably won’t even notice. If it’s dead, and you want to leave early, just let me know. I want to be flexible when it doesn’t matter, but I expect some of that same flexibility back. I don’t want to start counting 15-minute increments. It’s too much work, and it’s not the vibe I want.

    6. Allura Vysoren*

      My first full-time job had a five-minute grace period and people were reprimanded for being late too many times.

      One of the few things I hate about my current job is the grace period: sixty seconds. I have to clock in on the dot, or I’m late. I’ve been told that it’s company policy that’s based on positions where coverage is essential and no exceptions are made for positions where it isn’t, like mine where I was able to choose my own working hours.

  5. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    LW1: I get it. You show up on time and it sounds like everyone else does. I mean if it is 5-10 mins, why not 30 mins late? And yes at some point it becomes unprofessional to be late. I would say something to her manager. Also it isn’t just being late it is the frequency. If it was once a month, I probably would feel different.

      1. LawBee*

        And is it LW’s business? It is not.

        I would be super annoyed at LW if I were Sansa and LW complained about something which did not impact her work, did not impact MY work, and was so trivial.

        1. Rose*

          I would also be super annoyed, if a pure came to me to tattle on one of my employees for being “late” to a job that didn’t need coverage at specific times. The concept of being late for nothing, no meeting, no desk coverage, no client phone call, doesn’t even make sense.

        2. Roeslein*

          As a manager, if someone complained about my strong performer line report being 5 minutes late I would seriously question that person’s judgement and possibly mention their busybody tendencies to their own line manager.

        3. Kel*

          Yeah it isn’t LW business; LW is not the manager, just someone who is being petty tbh.

    1. Observer*

      I mean if it is 5-10 mins, why not 30 mins late?

      Good question. But why does it matter. That’s not what the CW is doing.

      I would say something to her manager.

      Why? What is the OP’s standing here? What actual work problem is the OP trying to solve here?

      1. Czhorat*

        I agree. There is a threshold beyond which it would be a clear problem. 30 minutes late probably would be. An hour late certainly would be. Less than fifteen minutes is probably not.

        Bringing it to the manager is going to be spending some of your political capital. Not much, but some. The next time you need something from them, you’ll be remembered as the petty clock-watcher complaining about someone showing up five minutes late. That is almost certainly not worth it.

        1. Chairman of the Bored*

          If 30-60 minutes isn’t causing a separate specific issue and Sansa’s manager doesn’t care, why is it a problem?

          1. Czhorat*

            Because at some point it hits a reasonable tipping point at which the perception is that Sansa isn’t working a full day and Sansa’s manager isn’t paying attention.

            At four hours late she’s only working a half-day; at a half hour she’s skipping 6 and a quarter percent of her scheduled work time. Is that past the tipping point?


            It’s also getting more and more likely that someone would be looking for something for her in that time; nobody needs anything from a coworker in the first five minutes of the workday. In the first half hour? Hour? Again, it’s job dependent but if you collaborate at all with others you increasingly run the risk of having someone waiting for you.

            At some point perception starts to matter. Where is probably job- and workplace dependent.

            1. Bookmark*

              But the example you cite of coworkers waiting is an actual specific work issue and not a matter of perception, which everyone has been clear would be a reason to speak to her or her boss. But this LW isn’t saying “hey, I need X from Sansa first thing every morning, and because she’s often late it has Y effect on my ability to do my job.” It’s literally just, I’m annoyed that this person isn’t here at 9 on the dot.

              And just because someone comes in late doesn’t mean they aren’t working the full day. Is the LW keeping the same track of when Sansa leaves for the day? Does she know if Sansa habitually does work at home in the mornings or evenings? If she’s salaried, she’s being paid for the work accomplished, not for the hours she spent doing it. Also, maybe she buys coffee while waiting for a train or bus that will either get her to the office 30 minutes early or 5 minutes late. None of this is actually LW’s business, nor should she talk to Sansa or her manager about it UNLESS there are tangible work impacts.

              1. Giant Kittie*

                “train or bus that will either get her to the office 30 minutes early or 5 minutes late”

                LMAO I ran into this when I was without a car for awhile and the logistics of getting from my home in one county to my job in the neighboring county meant that my quick 15-20 minute freeway commute turned into a 1.45-2 hour, 3 bus ride.

                The wonky combination of busses I had to take meant I could arrive 1 hour early, or 5 minutes late, no in between.

                My boss was actually really sympathetic. While wouldn’t have cared if I sat in the closed workplace & messed around on the computer until it was time to open, he knew that I was already having to get up 2 1/2 hours earlier to be 5 minutes late and didn’t want to impose on my sleep even further.

            2. Just Another Techie*

              I mean, it depends on context? Before kids I used to routinely come in at 11 when most of my colleagues started work at 7. but I also worked until 8 or later, and our work was largely asynchronous.

            3. Kella*

              Except if you are not Sansa’s manager, you know nothing about whether she has explicit permission to work half-days, to work the first half of the day at home, if she has medical accommodations, if she’s working in the field, etc. You could *ask* Sansa’s manager if they have an arrangement, but reporting the situation that does not impact you at all, as if you know there is a problem when you have none of the context to know that, is overly controlling.

        2. Megan*

          Yes it could also spend some of your political capital with Sansa herself.

          I used to work in an office where all the secretaries were part time, so I covered the front desk for the first 1-1.5 hours. The first one was supposed to be there at 9:00 but usually came in at the earliest 9:20. The others were supposed to start at 9:30. I assumed her schedule changed, but I was very wrong. One day boss asked where she was. I told boss she’s never here until at least 9:20, and asked if there was anything I could do for him. He asked me a few more questions. She got a talking to, and she really turned on me. I was the only one who could have said anything because I was the only one who knew when she was coming in.

    2. nodramalama*

      why? if her manager doesn’t care, it doesn’t matter if you think being 30 minutes late is unprofessional. It’s certainly not some widely embraced faux pas like “getting drunk at work is unprofessional”

    3. Roland*

      Why are we even assuming she’s “late”? If there’s no coverage, then a salaried employee walking in at 9:05 isn’t late unless her manager said “you need to be here at 9”. If that’s not an expectation for her role then she isn’t late just because others are starting at 9. There’s nothing unprofessional about that, I’ve never had an office job where I had to show up at an exact time unless there was a meeting first thing.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, for me that’s also a weird concept. But then every job I’ve had has had flex hours, so not sure how it usually works in an office with very fixed hours? Or there might be core hours from 9-x h? I’d still assume that 5 minutes wouldn’t be a big deal (maybe unless you drop everything at 5 sharp, which most people don’t do?), but again, never had that kind of job before…

        1. Allonge*

          OP did not mention core hours, but as we have them, for us indeed it works like this: by and large you are supposed to be in your seat by the start of core hours (available to work). We are a highly collaborative org, so it could be that even though it’s not a coverage-based position, regular lateness (not respecting the core hours) would have an impact on others’ work.

          If once in a while there is an emergency / appointment / whatever that prevents you from being there for the start of core hours, it’s normally not a problem (you will be asked to flag it in advance as much as possible).

          If it happens every day, it’s something your manager may talk to you about. If it’s that you need to wake up 5 minutes before, yes, you will be invited to do that – if it’s an actual scheduling issue, like school dropoff v. core hours or similar, that’s a discussion.

          But our managers would likely address it if there is a work impact – I cannot go to mine and say, oooh, Beata should not be late, just that Beata regularly comes in at [time] and I need her to [do work task] so that I can do my job and what can we do about this.

          1. DataSci*

            Core hours generally don’t start as early as 9, though. They’re usually more like 10-4, with people being able to work additional hours as it’s convenient for them, whether that’s arriving at 7 or staying to 6. If you’re saying “Core hours are 9-5” either there’s no flexibility or you’re expecting a lot more than 40 hours.

            1. Allonge*

              Sure, although I had core hours of 9-12 and 2-4.

              Core hours 9-5 definitely don’t make sense! The whole point of core hours is having some fixed bits in the schedule with some flexibility around them (I know you know this, just agreeing with you!)

            2. J*

              There can be an exception when time zones come into play. I know my husband is largely working with Germans and Brazilians so his core hours are something like 7 am to 1 pm, outside of holiday times. My core hours used to be based around the fact that I’m a remote employee, though slowly our Eastern Time Zone is not dominating. But in general, I do agree with you that core hours should be a shorter window in the fuller day. I’ve always seen it skew a bit earlier because daycare/school pickups were the priority to schedule around so anyone regularly strolling in late was skewing our meeting availability. But I could say the same about the daycare regular people skewing us to need to meet earlier. (That’s personally why I like a 4 hour core hour window but alas, I’m not in charge of such things)

            3. amoeba*

              We don’t have core hours, but as people here tend to start really early (like, 7 or even earlier), if we did, it would more likely be 9-3 than 10-4! (Is that the Swiss/German culture? I do notice that in the US, starting at 9 appears to be way more common, whereas here, I’m usually among the last to come in around 8.30-9…)

              1. Clisby*

                I worked for years as a computer programmer at a company that had 9-3 core hours. The general expectation was that we came in between 7 and 9, took an unpaid lunch of 30-90 minutes, and worked 8 hours outside of lunch. So you could come in at 7 and leave at 3:30, or come in at 9 and leave at 6:30 (depending on how long you took for lunch). There was an unwritten rule that nobody scheduled a meeting after 3 p.m. (unless you were fine with one or more participants getting up and leaving at 3:30 p.m.) We didn’t have to announce our schedule – I could come in at 7 one day and 9 the next. I loved it.

              2. Good Enough For Government Work*

                I’m a Brit and I start work at 10 or 10:30… God I love our org’s flexi system.

        2. Turquoisecow*

          I am part time at my current job but when I was full time the hours were 8:30-5:00. I told my boss that my husband usually works until 6 or 6:30 at the earliest and I’m not a morning person, so could I come in and stay later. So my hours were more like 9-5:30 or sometimes 9:30-6:00. Neither Boss nor any of my coworkers cared when I came in. Some of them found it easier to get in at 8:00 or even 7:00 and then leave at 4 or 4:30. Did I get mad seeing them leave “early”? No.

          None of the work was so time sensitive that it made a difference whether it was done at 9:00 or 10:00, it was more like “end of day” type deadlines. And we all got all our necessary work done in the time that we worked, and we were available to do what was required of us.

          If it’s something like X task needs to be done by noon for Y reason (court deadlines, printing deadlines, etc) and coworker is having trouble meeting them because they’re late in the morning, then address that. But 5 minutes is likely to have much of an impact even in that case.

        1. Clisby*

          This +100. There’s no indication at all that Sansa’s schedule is affecting the LW – surely she’d have said so if that were the case.

    4. Babanon5*

      Why does 5-10 minutes late to grab coffee matter? If someone went to the break room for 5 minutes in the middle of the day would you have the same reaction?

    5. Lavender*

      She’s not showing up 30 minutes late, though. And even if she was, it might not even be an issue depending on the type of work she does. If her lateness was causing issues with her work, her manager would presumably have noticed and addressed it already.

      In my opinion, the only time when it’s okay for someone to address this kind of thing with someone they don’t manage is if it’s creating more work or otherwise causing problems for them. (For example, if the late employee has to unlock the building, or if there are certain tasks that need to be done first thing that OP now has to do on their own.) It doesn’t sound like that’s the case here, though. OP needs to keep their eyes on their own paper.

      1. Jenn*

        people who clock -watch others are so annoying.
        Are you their boss? do you sign their paychecks? No? then mind your business!

        1. boutelle*

          Depends. I once had a co-worker who would routinely arrive anywhere from 15-30 minutes late to our weekly department meetings. Every meeting.

          Our manager never said, “Hey, Debbie is going to be late every Friday, so I am going to re-schedule our meetings that day for a later time,” nor did he just quietly re-schedule. Moreover, meetings didn’t start until she got there, and most of the time she had a bag of doughnuts and a coffee in her hands. Why should the rest of us bother to get to the meeting on time if one of us doesn’t have to, without reason? It was so frustrating, and my boss had zero spine toward her, anyway.

          (I realize this isn’t what LW is describing; I’m just responding to the notion of “co-worker is late” as falling under one big “nun’ya beezwax” umbrella. Way too short-sighted).

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            But coming into a meeting late is really different from just arriving at work “late”. Meetings have actual start times and if you’re late you’ll affect other people. Totally a different situation.

        2. KatieP*

          This. I had a coworker who used to complain about our boss working 8:30-4:30. She would only complain to me, though, and I finally told her it’s none of her business, the boss is getting her work done, you don’t know what arrangement she made with the grandboss, and I knew for a fact that the boss worked after hours and on weekends.

          Meanwhile, complaining colleague was falling farther and farther behind. Maybe if she spent more time worrying about her own work, and less time worried about other people, she wouldn’t have been behind.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah or if OP had been working a long shift and was waiting to be relieved and the coworker strolled in late with coffee every day without apologizing, I could see that. But again, not the case here.

    6. Phryne*

      If I were a manager and someone came to me with a complaint like this about a person they have nothing to do with, it is the complainer who will form a lasting negative impression in my mind, not the employee minding her own business and doing her work just fine.
      Don’t be a weirdo. Stop monitoring your coworkers.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Don’t be a weirdo. Stop monitoring your coworkers.


        I’ve worked with people like this and they were all one of two types:

        1) Had serious subconscious qualms about the quality of the work they were getting done (and thus, pointing out other workers’ flaws is a way to deflect attention from their work),


        2) Trying to curry favor with a boss.

        1. ferrina*

          Or :
          3) they were paranoid about their coworkers not doing good enough work, and they didn’t trust their boss to recognize it and handle it in a sufficient way. Of course, they also didn’t have full oversight of their coworkers, so they didn’t focus on actual results but simple, tangible things.

          4) they were trying to exert control on their coworker and surroundings. Maybe they thought they were senior and should have say over their coworkers, maybe they were just really rigid in their expectations of everyone else, who knows.

          Any which way, none of these is a good look. This behavior might be acceptable in a dysfunctional workplace, but with a good boss that has clear expectations and proactive management? The boss would be rightly concerned about the complainer.

      2. Antilles*

        I *have* managed people and gotten this complaint on two separate occasions.
        Both times, the person who was a stickler about someone else being 5 minutes late when it doesn’t matter was *also* the person who didn’t understand the concept of management flexibility…and the biggest pain-in-the-ass on the team to manage.

        1. StressedButOkay*

          Right? There are nuances to managing people! And people get approvals to flex or move time for personal/non-work reasons that no one else is has the right to know if they aren’t managing that person.

      3. Falling Diphthong*


        I would think very carefully about burning any work capital on this.

        If there is an impact–her work isn’t getting done and your team has to pick it up; you have to touch base with her before you give the 9:15 presentation–then bring that up with management.

      4. Esmae*

        This. As a supervisor, if I care whether my supervisee is arriving exactly on time I’ll monitor it myself. I don’t need random other coworkers checking up on us.

    7. babblemouth*

      No, you don’t need to say anything to the manager. If work doesn’t get done, the manager can step in. Otherwise we know nothing of the circumstances.

      Maybe the coworker spends 30 minutes at home every day before leaving to do some email? Maybe she stays a bit later every day? Maybe she put her hand up to be the one who gets the call during the weekend in case of emergency, and this flexibility is her compensation for that? Maybe she’s just super good at her work and her manager would rather give her that bit of flexibility than risk losing her?

      So many things could be going on that we don’t know is is none of our business.

    8. Jennifer Strange*

      These days I mostly work from home, but on days I am in the office I’m usually there about 30 minutes before anyone else on my team. This is not a coverage-based position for any of us.

      Guess what? I don’t care. My team is awesome and everyone puts out great work so as far as I care they can physically roll in whenever they want. If there’s a meeting in the morning, sure, punctuality matters. If someone starts dropping the ball or putting out subpar work, yes there may be a need to monitor them more closely. But beyond that we’re all adults who mostly are working on our own things, with pre-established meeting times to collaborate, so if they start their day an hour after me it has zero effect on me.

    9. L-squared*

      But if it has no effect on your job, does it matter? LIke this is something that would annoy me to no end, and that is how you get “malicious compliance”

      My CEO started trying to get super specific on when we in the office start and end, how long of a lunch we take, etc. So it gets VERY awkward when we have guests/visitors from other offices, and at 12:30 on the dot we all get up and go back to our desks, even in the middle of conversations. And no one will stay one minute past 5pm.

      1. Corvus Corvidae*

        Ha! I worked at a contract lab like this. The CEO decided that everyone needed to be exactly on time at 8:00 AM sharp every single day, to the point where you would get an email as an official warning if you clocked in ONE MINUTE late. She wouldn’t accept traffic or anything else as an excuse, because her reasoning was that we should be in the building fifteen minutes before our start time every day. Aside from the front desk staff, this wasn’t a job with any coverage requirements which made it even more bonkers.

        And the funniest thing happened: everyone started clocking out at exactly 5:00 PM, and the best part was that the staff working in the labs joined in. What usually happened was that they would stop doing actual lab work and start cleaning up much earlier than expected, so that at 5:00 they were all lined up to clock out. But a few times they were in the middle of running tests and suddenly whoops, it’s 5 o’clock, better put away anything they’re doing (within reason/safety limits) and leave! It caused a TON of delays and funnily enough the policy only lasted a few months. They did end up using it as an excuse to fire someone who spoke up against the company’s poor handling of the pandemic, but that’s a can of worms for another day.

    10. mlem*

      That’s like saying, “Oh, the LW is wasting a minute or two paying attention to this when it’s none of their business. A minute or two might as well be 10 minutes. 10 minutes might as well be an hour. An hour might as well be the entire day! The LW is wasting the entire day!!!!!”

      5 minutes is not half an hour. The job is not coverage-based. The coffee drinker isn’t “tardy” if the job and boss don’t require them to be in at 9 on the dot.

    11. NotAnotherManager!*

      If someone came to me to report that one of my good employees whose coffee run was not creating a coverage issue or otherwise impacting their work came to me to complain, I’d tell them to keep their eyes on their own work and possibly suggest that their manager assign them more to do so they didn’t have time to clock-watch my employees.

      This is LW1’s pet peeve, not a Sansa performance issue and not something that impacts LW1. This is not what you go to someone’s manager about unless you want to look petty and a bit like a tattletale.

      I often wonder how people like LW1 fare in large cities where arrival times are never guaranteed based on traffic and public transit incidents. When the DC Metro is on fire, half my office is late. God help you if you take the bus, that’s a total crapshoot. When they shut down streets for protests or state security needs or a century-old water main breaks, the drivers are all late. Unless you live in your office, you’re going to be early some days and late others. Who cares, if you’re not coverage-based and your work is good?

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        In fact, if Sansa IS on public transport, she may very well be late for reasons completely unaffected by grabbing Starbucks.

        In my last job, I had to take two busses to get to the office. If all went well, there was a 20ish minute gap between them (which I did often use to grab a pastry and/or coffee as I walked between stops). If that second bus was late, as it often was, well… I’d be late, and would still have coffee.

        (And yes, I ran this past my boss and she was fine with it provided I was on time for any actual meetings that were scheduled. The second bus only ran once an hour, so we both agreed it was not sensible for me to aim for the bus a full hour earlier on the off-chance the second might be late unless there was a major reason to do so.)

        1. Lavender*

          I take two buses to get to work. Bus stops in my city have screens that show when the next bus will arrive, so I can tell how long my wait will be. If it’s longer than a few minutes, I might run into a nearby cafe to grab a coffee while I’m waiting.

          So yes, I might be more likely to be late on days I show up with a cup of coffee, but the coffee isn’t the thing that’s making me late.

      2. Jessica*

        *high-fives you sadly from Seattle*

        Once when there were snow flurries, everyone on the Microsoft campus left at 3:00 to try to beat the snow.

        It took me 7 1/2 hours to get home. It did not snow enough to have a measurable impact on safe driving speeds.

    12. Jackalope*

      The slippery slope fallacy is still a fallacy. The OP said that she is consistently 5-10 min late; she isn’t gradually becoming later and later, she’s regularly in the 5-10 min window or 2-3 days a week she’s on time.

      1. Antilles*

        And frankly, even if that slippery slope *does* start to occur, the manager can simply address it then. No need to make a deal of it now, just cross that bridge if/when you get to it.

        “Hey, Sansa, I see you’ve started coming in 30 minutes or more late. This isn’t a precise punch-clock job, so I don’t care if it’s just a couple minutes, but 30 minutes is pushing it too far. We do really need you here close to our official start time of 9 so people can schedule morning meetings and do daily coordination. Going forwards, can you get back to arriving around 9?”

    13. Relentlessly Socratic*

      I live, and used to go into the office in a few area notorious for traffic. (I’m 100% remote now, for nearly a decade) It has long been my approach to log on first thing and do some work, then come in a little later to avoid the worst of traffic. The difference being 25 minutes in the car vs an indefinite over an hour wasted on a commute. People, who weren’t my manager, would grumble about how I wasn’t an “early person” um, my dudes, I’ve already put in a good hour or more before “strolling in.” My work is done, it’s done very well, and whether I do it at 7 AM, 9:10 AM or 3:45 PM, it doesn’t matter. No one is left waiting on me for a deliverable.

      Keep your eyes on your own paper. It’s none of your business.

    14. AngryOctopus*

      Times it actually matters in a non-coverage job when you show up late with a coffee bought at a coffee shop: when you’re 35 minutes late for an hour meeting with the department head. Times it doesn’t matter: almost all other times (barring other meetings with people).
      And that person was somehow surprised when her contract didn’t convert to full-time. It wasn’t the only issue she had, but it was definitely a ‘last straw’ scenario.

    15. Manders*

      Good grief, this makes me so incredibly happy to have my type of job. I’ve worked for my boss for going on 24 years, and he does not give a flying fart when I get to work or when I leave. As long as I’m generally available and I’m getting my work done, he does not care at all. I’m also in laboratory science, so there are days when you have to take timepoints at, say, 6, 12, 18, and 24 hours, so those days suck. You flex your time as needed. Today I think I’ll leave at 2. Will he know? Nope. Will he care? Nope.

    16. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      OK and why not 30? Most of my jobs had core hours like 10AM to 4PM, when we all had to be reachable. Outside of those nobody cared if we came in at 9:45 and left at 6:45, or came in at 7 and left at 4. As long as the hours were being put in and the work was being done.

    17. Miss V*

      That’s me you’re griping about! I’m late 5-10 minutes more days than I’m not, and probably 20-30 minutes late every few weeks.

      Do you know what my manager has said? In the five years I’ve worked at this job and gotten consistently great feedback and two title bumps? Nothing. She’s said nothing.

      Because I do great work. Because she knows if she needs someone to stay late I’m her go-to. She gives me flexibility and doesn’t nickel an dime me on time, so I do the same for her.

    18. casey*

      “You show up on time–” and? Show up late and see if it makes a difference, if your boss cares or if your work suffers at all. This reeks of envy and busybodyness more than diligence. If it doesn’t affect you or isn’t causing a clear problem, it’s not your place to give this sort of feedback or, more to the point, make this kind of complaint. The LW’s “and she does it to get COFFEE, of all things!” has much the same tone. This point really environment-dependent, not all roles will have the same expectations of punctuality, and unless there’s a separate cause for concern that a manager might not be aware of, it’s good to let go of these things with the understanding that people have different roles and expectations.

      1. Lavender*

        I agree. If it’s okay for your coworker to show up five minutes late from time to time, then presumably it’s okay for you to do that too. If you want to keep a strict schedule, that’s fine, but you’re making the choice to do that just like your coworker is making the choice to have a more relaxed schedule. (Or your manager’s expectations might be different from your coworker’s manager, which would be frustrating, but there’s not really much you can do about that.)

        I was in this situation with a coworker recently. We have flexible scheduling (like, ridiculously flexible), but she came in at the same time every morning and seemed frustrated that I wasn’t doing that. (My work doesn’t impact hers, and I’ve gotten nothing but good feedback from my boss.) I guess she eventually realized that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, because the passive-aggressive comments stopped and she’s started coming in later from time to time.

    19. Usagi*

      “If a small amount of time isn’t a problem, what about a large amount?”

      Well… they’re different! Small vs large amounts of time are usually treated differently.

    20. Heather*

      If it’s unprofessional to be 5 min late, then it shouldn’t be expected that I take after hours calls or answer emails after hours and should be able to walk out the door worry free after exactly 8 hours. Strict views of “professionalism” also frequently include strict views of traditional gender norms. It takes a man little time to shower and put on a suit. It takes a woman longer to shower, dry and style her hair, put on makeup, and then get dressed. Not to mention the frequent gender divide on morning childcare duties putting even more on a woman’s plate.

      I’m a trial lawyer. I am always on time or early for trial and hearings because I have to be. Calendar calls are different because you often have to be in multiple places at once so you figure out what makes the most sense to go to first. It’s part of my job to either work or respond to others after hours. I will gladly take than 30 min phone call on Saturday, but I’m not going to feel bad about arriving at 9:15 either.

    21. Jessica*

      I’m sure you’re equally a stickler for making sure your coworkers go home on time and the company isn’t exploiting them by making them work more than 40-hour weeks, right? Right?

    22. Moonstone*

      Yikes…you must be a joy to work with. Sansa being late literally doesn’t impact LW at all. And you would, and think LW should, tattle to Sansa’s manager like she’s a misbehaving child?? Ugh I can’t even with some people

  6. Coverage Associate*

    Maybe Sansa stops for breakfast because the kids weren’t cooperating so she didn’t get it at home. I wouldn’t be much use before lunch if I missed breakfast.

    If it’s a problem and it’s happening often, then Sansa should address the cause. But Starbucks is kind of a cliche frivolous reason to be late, but the cliche is wrong.

    I am curious about reactions for both OP and everyone here if it were Dunkin instead of Starbucks, but pre-pandemic, there were 30 Starbucks within 30 minutes’ walking distance of my office, but I think there’s still no Dunkin in the whole city.

    1. Peanut Hamper*


      I very much got a “kids these days and their Starbucks and their avocado toast and their frivolous ways to waste time and money” vibe from the letter.

      Oddly, nobody ever writes in about good ol’ Dave who stops at Dunkin Donuts every morning, is thirty minutes late, and is two years from retirement. There is definitely a slanting pattern to these kinds of letters which is ridiculous.

      “Is the work getting done on time and to the level of quality required?” is the question that people should be asking. At least LW knew that perceived lateness was a pet peeve of theirs and admitted to it.

      1. Liz the Snackbrarian*

        This comment nails it. People aren’t leaving jobs because they “don’t want to work”, it’s because of people like this who nitpick over stuff like this. It’s demoralizing.

        1. boutelle*

          But as Alison points out, some jobs require on-time coverage.

          Sorry, but I am trying to reach, for example, my veterinarian in an emergency, and I found out that the office opened 10 minutes later because “Meh, I’ll just stay late to make up for my time off the clock,” that would be the line for me.

          As for people leaving for employers holding strict hours, please. They’re leaving for better wages, healthier work environments, better benefits; just look at all the letters on this site. Having to get to work on time with rare and valid exception? No problem, boss.

          1. Giant Kittie*

            “But as Alison points out, some jobs require on-time coverage.”

            And Alison ALWAYS points to these jobs as the exception.

          2. Good Enough For Government Work*

            This is all true, but does absolutely not apply to the case in question. LW1 notes that her job is not being affected, and it seems certain she would note if anyone ELSE’S job was.

          3. Jackalope*

            The thing is that many of us commenting here believe that having flexibility around your start time IS a workplace benefit and a sign of a healthy work environment. As has been said ad nauseam in the comments, if someone has a coverage issue that means needing to be in at a specific time on the nose that’s one thing. If they don’t, then showing up around the starting time (especially if they also work later) rather than stressing about arriving on the minute is important to many of us.

            (For the record, I would argue that even in your example the staff could have some flexibility. If the vet’s phone line opens at 8:00 then of course someone has to be available by 8:00, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a flex window of 7:00-7:45, with their departure time being arranged based on when in that window they arrived, and getting paperwork and such done either before the phone lines open or at the end of their shift depending on what works for them.)

    2. Alex*

      Clearly you don’t live in Boston! Lol. (Where there is a Dunkin on every block, everywhere, always.)

      Here Dunkin is so prevalent that I don’t think it would be less of an issue, so that is probably regional.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I admit I am biased against Starbucks – I used to live up the street from a Starbucks drive-through and I was often late for work because of the drive-through traffic spilling out into the 5-lane road the Starbucks was on, people coming out of the drive-through boldly making a left turn through five lanes of traffic etc. There was nothing I could do other than sit in my car watching the time go by, screaming into the void “it’s not even good coffee, people!” (with my windows rolled up) But yeah I caught it too – good thing Sansa wasn’t walking in with avocado toast, too, LW would’ve been outraged!

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        “late for work” in the sense that it took me longer than normal to get to work – we did have flex hours.

  7. jj*

    Re letter 1….

    There is a certain kind of writing style that people often employ when they are being (in my opinion) overly judgemental and I was just curious if other folks notice that it?

    In this example it’s the use of the word “stroll” (as opposed to walks, arrives, etc.) (For food, folks are often found “stuffing” their faces as opposed to … Eating more than their share, or whatever) It adds what seems to me an extra layer of judgement or contempt that always makes me feel bad somatically and immediately increases my sympathy for whoever has drawn the LW’s ire.

    Does anyone else notice/ feel this? Or have any theories about it? The one thing I’m not sure of is it would possibly feel less harsh spoken then it seems writen.

    Anyway just curious if anyone else has noticed this kinda thing!

    1. Observer*

      Does anyone else notice/ feel this?

      Sure. And it makes sense. The OP is contemptuous of their “slacker” coworker, so of course they are going to use pejorative language to describe the behavior.

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        And OP is not trying to hide their contempt or judgement. They are being direct about how they feel. There is a set of people who believe in OP’s principals (we’ve all worked with them). This language would resonate with them. The only failing was to “read the room” in terms of where AAM and the commenters would fall on this issue.

        We all have similar blind spots. Especially on the topics we feel strongly about. It’s hard to imagine everyone else isn’t on the same side of the fence.

    2. Coverage Associate*

      Very perceptive. I noticed it was at a lower register than typical business writing, but not so much the annoyed or judgmental tone. I hear “strolls” drawn out in my head, so it mimics slow movement. My subconscious probably associates “strolls” with “lollygag” because of the shared vowel and consonant sounds.

      And this is also fascinating: spellcheck says it’s “lallygag.” Maybe the association is just in my head, not native English speakers’.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Just had this conversation with my husband because a certain word puzzle we do spelled it LALLYGAG. I always think of it as LOLLY – but it’s not a word I see written out all that often!

        2. Moonstone*

          Lallygagging was one of the answers in today’s New York Times Spelling Bee – that’s the only reason why I know it’s a word as opposed to the more popular usage of lollygagging!

      1. Kara*

        For what it’s worth, Miriam Webster says it’s lollygag, sometimes also spelled lallygag.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          *adjusts pedant hat*

          I am with Merriam Webster on this. Have never heard “lallygag.” (Though I would believe it as a definition challenge on Says You.)

    3. Coverage Associate*

      And we’re supposed to offer advice, not criticism, so, returning to the matter at hand: OP, it would probably help to rephrase the situation in your mind. Maybe try to use more neutral phrases, maybe you can even get to the point where you’re thinking, “Sansa is arriving on time for her,” and not in a snarky way, but matter of fact.

      Even our hourly employees have staggered start times from 7am or something to 9:30. It gives us longer periods of coverage and helps with retention.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Good point! The language we use often reflects our feelings about something, so thinking about how we are phrasing it to ourselves is highly useful advice.

        Language matters! Word choice is, after all, a choice.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        And if something does rise to the level where it’s impacting your work and reasonable to report to management, it really helps to adjust your language to “So boss, this thing is having an impact on the release of the llama futures report” rather than hitting “I am so personally irritated by this coworker’s quirk, which I feel must be directed at me.” (That is a normal feeling. You can have feelings; how you act in response to them is what’s in your control.)

    4. Jaydee*

      Yup, I notice the same thing. I think it often comes up when people feel strongly about the moral weight of a certain behavior even if they can’t tie that to an actual business need. If timeliness is a moral virtue, then being 5 minutes late makes you a bad person even if it has no actual effect on anyone else. “Strolling in with Starbucks in hand” shows that their moral failing is willful and not accidental. If ”healthy eating” is a moral virtue, then your co-worker who eats fast food for lunch will be “stuffing her face” to convey the sheer gluttony and wild abandon of her overconsumption of these morally suspect foods. I don’t usually hear people describe someone as “stuffing their face” with a turkey sandwich or leftover casserole or a frozen meal.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I mean, yes, of course? When someone disapproves of something, that is usually conveyed in how they write and talk about it. Unless you are saying that only the overly judgemental writers use this language and not the righteously judgemental. I’ll have to check, but I’m pretty sure that the lunch stealers etc. from the food threads also stuff their faces with the stolen lunches.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Exactly. Everyone does this when talking about someone or something the dislike (and they do the opposite when talking about something they do like), and pointing out isn’t particularly helpful to the OP, except, as Coverage Associate points out, that it might help OP to reframe how she words this in her own mind.

    6. Jaydee*

      Yeah, I feel like this type of language gets used when there is moral weight being attached to the behavior even if it doesn’t have an actual negative impact on others. If timeliness is a moral virtue, then “she strolls in with her Starbucks” is emphasizing the willfulness of her moral failing. I’m not saying this language never gets used if there’s a genuine negative impact – it definitely does! But the point of the language is to demonstrate the willfulness (the “mens rea” for all you law nerds out there) of the offense and the bad moral character of the offender.

      When there is actual negative impact, there will be more information about that impact (“I can’t clock out until Jane arrives, so sometimes when she’s late I miss my bus home” or “Jane’s tardiness means we start meetings late and that cascades through people’s schedules the rest of the day”). When there’s no negative impact, all you have is the morality.

    7. boutelle*

      LW is upset and using language indicating as such. We all do it. Is there something for LW to learn from that?

    8. alienor*

      It’s funny to me that people often use “strolls in” (I’ve also seen that one a LOT in letters and comments) because generally when I’ve arrived late, with coffee or without it, I’ve been walking briskly in order to be less late. It’s when I’m early that I’m strolling in all unbothered.

    9. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yup, and I see this a lot from people who think that being late is a moral failing, regardless of whether it matters in the specific situation. The really believe that they are Right and their caffeinated coworker is Wrong (and probably disrespectful, unprofessional, and leading impressionable new hires down a path of immorality). It is similar to people who are very into neatness and mutters about how you’re living in filth because your shoes are by the door and the mail is left out on the kitchen counter.

    10. Random Dice*

      There’s an app called “Wordquations” that does exactly this mapping of verbs to the unwritten implications, for folks who miss all of the extra stuff that comes with words, and just translate “stroll” as “walk”.

      So for example something like:
      Stroll = walk + slow + relaxed
      Stride = walk + fast + focused
      Slink = walk + slow + stealthy + quiet

  8. Emmy Noether*

    Frankly, I think the concept of “late” for jobs that don’t have an actual reason to be there at a given time shouldn’t apply. It makes life so much easier if there is the possibility of some time floating built in.

    As long as it adds up to X hours per week, you are on time for meetings and generally reachable during “core” hours, what does it matter if you do 8:50 to 4:55 on Monday and 9:10 to 5:05 on Tuesday. This allows for variations in traffic and spontaneous coffee cravings. It will waste less time and make people happier.

    Every office job I’ve ever had operated like this.

    1. HA2*

      This. “Late” implies that the person is SUPPOSED to be there at a particular time, and they’re not.

      This is just a person whose morning routine leads them to start their day anywhere from 8:50 to 9:10. 9:10 is only “late” if you accept that 9 is the “correct” time to be there, 8:50 is only early if you say that 9 is the correct time to be there.

      But if there’s no work-related reason why somebody has to be there exactly at 9, then it’s not late or early to get there at a different time, it’s just a different time.

      1. Tau*

        Yes! It’s interesting that OP has clearly read AAM (enough to know that she’s not “supposed” to be upset about a few minutes here and there) but has only applied it as far as “OK, everyone SHOULD be there at X time, but if they have a good enough reason it’s OK for them to be a few minutes late” and not to the actual point – questioning the concept of lateness at all.

        I roll in anywhere between 8:15 and just before 10 depending on day, weather, season, potential errands I had to run before work, how hard it was to get out of bed, whether I decided to have breakfast, and any of a number of factors. Nobody cares as long as I’m there for my first meeting at 10.

        1. amoeba*

          Me too, and so do all my colleagues (or rather, everybody does what works best for them), but I assumed LW’s job does have fixed hours and the expectation that everybody arrives at the same time? Otherwise the letter… just doesn’t make any sense at all!

          1. Watry*

            Yeah, I’d still say LW shouldn’t worry about it because they aren’t CW’s supervisor, but if I were consistently 5-10 mins late Boss would have words with me. And no, my job isn’t coverage-based, though many of ours are. The variety in experience here never ceases to be fascinating.

          2. Irish Teacher*

            Even in jobs with fixed hours, how exact that has to be can vary quite a bit. In some places, “everybody starts at 9” means “sometime between ten to and ten past, a couple of minutes one way or the other doesn’t matter.” In others, it means “9 on the dot.”

            Heck, I once had a summer job in a shop where we had a 15 minute break and I think an hour for lunch. It was common for people to go out for the 15 minute break and start heading back after 15 minutes, then go in to the staffroom to take off your coat and spend another 10 minutes or so chatting there before returning to work maybe 30 minutes after you left. Technically, there were fixed hours. In practice, that..was flexible.

            I’m guessing the LW’s workplace has fixed hours but it is a place where they aren’t timing things to the second and 9 o’clock means “in or around 9. It would be an issue if you were arriving at 9:30, but nobody’s checking the exact minute you arrive.”

            1. amoeba*

              Could also be that it is, indeed, a place where it means “9 on the dot” (to most people/everybody but Sansa, at least) and Sansa is coming from a culture of “sometime between ten to and ten past, a couple of minutes one way or the other doesn’t matter”?

              While I still don’t think OP should do anything about it because she’s not the manager, I can see how that would lead to confusion…

              (Which is why such things should be spelled out/explained to new folks!)

              1. Observer*

                Confusion to who, though?

                People who are new to the company, especially those who are new to the workforce, should have this stuff spelled out regardless of whether there is a Sansa in the office. For anyone else, like the OP, there is nothing to be “confused” about – they clearly have their routine and schedule down, and it doesn’t sound like it’s causing any problems. Nor is Sansa’s schedule causing problems.

                There is nothing confusing here. Acting as though there is would not be a good look for the OP, although probably a SMIDGEN better than acting outraged.

    2. ian*

      I’ll go one step further, and say that even the concept of “adding up to X hours a week” is fairly arbitrary. If I can get the work needed done in 35 hours rather than 40, why should anyone care about me sitting around for an extra 5 hours just to hit some number we came up with in the 1920s?

      1. amoeba*

        Depends on the job, obviously, but I definitely always have some non-urgent side-projects, interesting things, etc. that I could fill the time with! There’s just never the point of “OK, I’m done with everything”. So there needs to be a limit and I think it’s OK for my employer to make that limit the hours they’re actually paying me for…

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Yeah, I’ve written this here before, but “all work done” is just not a thing that was ever possible at jobs I’ve had. There’s always functionally infinite work (that’s research for ya). So working X hours is in my best interest actually.

          1. Tau*

            Same – or rather, if it’s possible for me to be out of work then something has gone terribly wrong somewhere. Not only should your average project have a healthy backlog of items, but at my level I’m expected to be able to come up with my own tasks as well (documentation, refactoring code, general cleanup and tidying, improving monitoring, creating or improving internal tooling, making sure our dependencies are up-to-date, etc. etc. etc.). Going “I’m out of work so I’ll go home early” would raise some real concerns about my suitability for my role.

  9. nodramalama*

    LW1 i genuinely don’t understand what the bad precedent is. If your employees don’t need to start at 9 on the dot who cares what the reason for being 5 minutes late is?

    If I have a meeting first thing, I’ll be there. But on average I’ll come to work anywhere between 9-9.30. I don’t have a good reason, I’m just not a morning person, and will often be at work after 5pm anyway so it’s not like I’m working fewer hours. And guess what- nobody cares. I do my work well, everything gets done, and there is no magic work thing i am missing because i arrive at 9.10 rather than 9.00

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I’m a Sansa, and generally I’ve worked in roles where no one cares. One year I worked (in the same sector and same kind of role) for a boss and a grandboss who had both come from the retail sector, and had very fixed ideas that Nine AM Is Nine AM On The Floor Ready To Go. I had a young child who had to be taken to nursery, a hour’s commute, and (for about six months of that year) early pregnancy sickness. The difference between me coming in at five to nine and ten past nine was the the difference between me starting the day sweaty, flustered, stressed, sad and guilty because I’d not really taken the time to say goodbye to my two-year-old, realising I’d forgotten my lunch/purse/notebook, or sitting down in calm and happy and ready to start the day. Such a counterproductive attitude!

    2. Other Alice*

      So, I also got the conversation that I was “setting a bad precedent for the new intern” because I was arriving “late” every morning. I think it boils down to people being overly concerned that punctual is good and tardy is bad, even in cases when there is zero work impact and actually a bit of flexibility would help. As a culture we have positive associations with rising early, that still persist even though we know now that different people have different rhythms. I’m a late riser myself, I left that job. I don’t think the intern lasted long either.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      Yeah, my first thought was whether OP ever pays attention to how often Sansa takes a shortened lunch, stays late, or participates on evening or weekend meetings/events.

      That said, even if she doesn’t, for some jobs the concern isn’t really time in seat, it’s work produced. If Sansa has 20 reports to prep a week and gets them all done to appropriate standard while still picking up Starbucks, it probably makes no difference if she’s 30 minutes “short” on time – just like it wouldn’t matter if she was precisely on time or early if those reports weren’t getting done.

      1. Spearmint*

        This how I operate. I am perfectly happy to arrive on time on the dot if I have a meeting first thing, and I’m perfectly happy to stay late if my workload requires it. But every job I’ve had, on normal days I often shave off 5-15 minutes from my start and/or end times without a negative impact on my work. It’s a small thing, but it makes me feel more ok with working late when it’s required. I’ve never had a boss complain about this.

  10. Elsa*

    I don’t want to make light of OP2’s creepy coworker situation, but the fact that she copies her meals could be an opportunity for a little fun. OP could start bringing in weird meals and see if the copier follows suit. Hamburger and fries for breakfast? Hot peppers and sardines for lunch? It could get interesting!

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        It was very wow.

        I wonder how much creeper behaviour these days is someone trying to go viral on social media or become an influencer. What strange times we live in.

    1. AngelS.*

      I was thinking the same thing! Or bring a decoy weird lunch, go out and have a real great lunch.

    2. Random Dice*

      Like my sister who was so annoyed by our copycat brother that she ate dog food.

      He totally ate the dog food too, but she realized that her victory was tainted by her having had to, ya know, eat dog food.

  11. Irish Teacher*

    LW1, I wouldn’t worry too much about the new members of staff. Yes, new members of staff learn work norms from those around them, especially if they are new to the workplace, but most people, unless they are looking for an excuse to do something, don’t take one person and think “well, they do it so it must be fine for everybody.” They generally look around and see what the norm is and I think most people, when new to a place, try to do a bit…better than the average.

    So say, people arrive between 10 minutes early and 5 minutes late, most new people would arrive at least 5 minutes early, assuming the norm is five or ten minutes either way and that obviously, the rules are a little stricter for a new person than a long-term member of staff.

    If everybody is usually on time apart from one person who is at most 10 mintues late, then the clear implication there for a new person is that this is a workplace at which being on time is expected and even the very latest person (who as the new person, you really don’t want to be, only comes in a few minutes after the official starting time.

    I could see a concern if there were numerous people who came in 5-10 minutes late and it was accepted in your company that that was OK once you had enough capital to do it but that new people doing it would give a bad impression, but in this case, it seems like 5-10 minutes is actually noticable as being late, so…the clear impression for a new person is that they should be on time.

  12. Jane*

    “Her job does not require her to be here at 9 on the dot” is kind of the end of the story no?

    5-10 minutes is really such a small amount of time in the context of a job that doesn’t have a precise coverage need. That could be finding parking, a bus being delayed, running into a former colleague on the sidewalk outside. As others point out it is also the time in the canteen midmorning or running out for Starbucks after the magic start time, so why not front load it? Equally in my experience this kind of job regularly has 5-10 minutes the other side – a phone call that cuts into lunch, a meeting that runs right up to 5. It’s part of being a professional that you are trusted to handle this kind of “petty cash” time so that it all sorts out.

    If it’s not appropriate for a particular role, or if a particular person is handling is badly, then that’s a conversation for their manager to have with them. Maybe letter writer needs to just take a breath and consider whether he would like to cut himself some slack – is he holding himself to a standard of time keeping that no one else expects? Maybe he wants a Starbucks in the morning?

    1. Random Dice*

      Also “She doesn’t report to me” makes it end of story.

      Busybody needs to back the heck off.

  13. BallBoy*

    Unfortunately, I know how LW3 feels.
    I (male) used to have a grand-boss who had the same tendency to rearrange the tackle box. Didn’t matter who he was talking to, down would go the hand. I’m fairly sure it was an unconscious thing.
    I raised it with my (female) boss, who’d noticed it too. She laughed and suggested I could mention it to him. Yay for male brotherhood…!?
    Despite (or maybe because of) being young and naive, I did just that. It was a brief and awkward conversation, as I recall, but he was a naturally cheerful person and seemed to take it okay. Or maybe he was just as embarrassed as me.

    1. Your Computer Guy*

      Your name is hilarious in this context. I also worked with a man who would do a quick little tap down there as part of his general standing and talking gestures, it was very clearly an unconscious tic. It was a small family business where a lot of the people had worked together for 20+ years and apparently he had always done it.

  14. Chairman of the Bored*

    I explicitly do not care what time the people I manage show up as long as they get their work done and their availability doesn’t cause any practical issues.

    If some rando were to come to me and say that my employee was routinely arriving 10 minutes late with a coffee I genuinely wouldn’t even understand why they were telling me this.

    Once they further explained that they regard this as some sort of self-evident problem they expect me to “do something” about I would regard them as an impractical busybody and probably not listen to much of what they have to say in the future.

    I sure wouldn’t tell my team member to do anything different.

    1. Observer*

      If some rando were to come to me and say that my employee was routinely arriving 10 minutes late with a coffee I genuinely wouldn’t even understand why they were telling me this.

      Well, the OP is not “some rando” – they do have a good working relationship with Sansa’s manager. But I still think this would not go over well. And it would risk harming the OP.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        They are ‘some rando’ in the sense that they do not work with or for Sansa, nor presumably for Sansa’s team. If Sansa’s supposed lateness does not affect them, then I would also regard them as ‘some rando’ for raising it.

  15. Otto*

    It seems increasingly nowadays that people are talking on their personal phones set on speaker phone. I find this annoying even not in a professional setting but especially at work it is aggravating to me, but I feel like I’ve just fallen out of the times and it doesn’t seem that other colleagues (who are typically a lot younger than me) seem to mind.

    1. MsM*

      I’m guilty of this more than I’d like (although I try to at least close the door when I do it), but I find it incredibly awkward holding a modern cell phone up to my ear. I’m always afraid I’m going to accidentally activate or delete something by touch.

      1. popko*

        I sympathize! I don’t use speakerphone in public, but yeah, I’m constantly afraid that I’m accidentally putting calls on hold when I actually hold the phone up to my ear… because before I switched to exclusively using speakerphone at home, it happened at least once per phonecall with my mom, friends, etc! Something about my phone’s movement sensor for when to turn the screen back on is glitchy or badly-tuned, so not using speaker in public means that I’m just constantly pulling the phone away to glance at the screen/make sure the other caller isn’t on hold, and it’s a pain in the ass. ~Technology!~

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      Oh, man, you’ve hit on one of my personal pet peeves so hard…

      I hate when I have to wait on a customer who’s on speakerphone. I feel that being on the phone at all while conducting a business transaction is incredibly rude (especially if I have to ask you a question and you SHUSH ME to continue your conversation!) but on speakerphone I can’t tell if you’re talking to me, the person on the other end of the call, or yourself.

      In general, I find it irritating because I don’t want or need to hear your personal phone calls. Especially when it’s about your problems with your kids, your health, or FFS your sex life.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Would your management allow you to pause the cellphone customer and help the next person in line? I’ve seen that done at retail shops (and I’ve seen signs saying it would be done) and it always strikes me as very fair. (But I do know how retail managers can be.)

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          Fortunately, I’m not retail (municipal government) and my bosses have given me permission to stand up for myself. So when I get one who’s rude I’ll say something like “Finish up on the phone and then I’ll be glad to help you” and go back to my desk. In a super-sweet tone of voice with a big smile, of course.

          (I’m a misanthrope who’s been working customer-facing jobs since 1998. I don’t get it, either.)

    3. Delta Delta*

      I was in an airport bathroom once, and the woman in the stall next to me was on the phone on speaker. I can only imagine the other side hearing the sounds of a very busy public restroom (hundreds of flushes!). Also, by the end of my time there – which wasn’t long – I was actually sort of invested in her conversation. What happened because Rafael didn’t respond to that email?! I will never know.

    4. Observer*

      I think being on speakerphone is a very different thing though. It’s hard to argue that this doesn’t affect other people!

  16. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I think this is actually more nuanced than we know. If it’s a job where coverage is needed, or where things happen at a certain time, or if it’s just office culture that people are there at a certain time, then sauntering in 5-10 minutes late feels out of step. If it’s a truly flex-type job where it matters less, then getting all torqued up over 5-10 minutes is what feels out of step.

    I shared this before, but I worked with a person who regularly was late for everything. She held up meetings and client appointments and all sorts of other things because she simply just wouldn’t show up on time. This had a terrible impact on morale because management would make excuses for her, even though her behavior was a detriment to the organization. (she’s also a legitimately bad person, which really didn’t help)

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

      But that is not what is happening here. OP is clear “Her job does not require she be here at 9 on the dot.” This is the OP’s hangup. For all we know Sansa could have flex time and is able to come in a little later.

  17. ecnaseener*

    A lot of people are making the point that “maybe Sansa stays late or takes a short lunch to make up for it,” and I’m like…yeah, maybe, but also maybe she’s just a fast enough worker that 10 minutes a day doesn’t make a difference. If she’s not an hourly worker, who cares if she works exactly the same number of minutes as you? Is she getting the same amount of work done, to the same quality? (Or perhaps more work / better quality because she’s not getting distracted by her coworkers’ timecards…?)

    1. Irish Teacher*

      And honestly, most people take 5 or 10 minute to make coffee at work or use the bathroom or chat to a colleague or check askamanager or get something out of their car, so I don’t think one can assume that arriving 5 or 10 minutes late means getting less work done. As somebody said above, somebody could arrive on time and spend more time than that going to make coffee and stopping to talk to a colleague on the way.

      I don’t even think it’s possible to tell to within 5 or 10 minutes, how much time a person spends working.

      1. Spearmint*

        My firm belief, and studied back this up, is that people generally only spend about 3-5 hours actually working during an 8 hour day. We weren’t built to focus on mental work for 8 hours straight. Sure, we can do 8 hours of focused work occasionally for a day to two, but I don’t think we can consistently without burning out. So it’s silly to get nit picky about 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there.

        1. Cat Lady*

          Exactly. My perspective is that my job is paying me to be present and available for 8 hours, not to be doing deep work for that entire time. And generally, I don’t need to.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Oh yeah, I’m more annoyed by the people who are there at 9 but then take a half-hour at 10 getting coffee! But, like with this OP, that is ALSO a me problem, not a them problem, if they are not my direct reports.

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

          How much would you bet that the OP does not even register the other coworkers who just wonder around to get coffee after coming in at 9.

  18. E*

    LW 1 is someone no one would want as a manager. Also I think you need a reality check… you’re not her boss. It’s not your business. Other than being judgemental and obsessive over it, it literally has nothing to do with you.

    1. Risha*

      Seriously. I don’t understand why OP1 is so worried about the coworker and what time she comes in. I’ve worked with people like this LW. They spend so much time watching everyone else and reporting back to management if you’re even 10 seconds late. Like how do you get any of your work done if you’re minding everyone’s business? What is the purpose of reporting someone if it doesn’t affect you at all? I think some people really enjoy trying to get others in trouble.

      If I were a manager and someone came to me with such complaints, I would tell them to mind their own business and get back to doing their own job. I hope this LW never becomes anyone’s boss.

  19. Still Nameless in MN*

    LW 1: I was you in my very early days of being in the work world.

    The best thing you can do, at any age, is learn that if a coworkers arrival/departure time does not directly affect your ability to complete your work in a timely manner mind your own business.

    It’s not your job to be monitor of other people. You also don’t want the reputation of being the office nark.

    Instead of focusing on when your coworker comes in, focus on yourself and why what your coworker does bothers you to the point you feel you should mention it to management. That is where the work you need to do on yourself lies.

    Appointing yourself monitor of others is going to be a stressful and unnecessary task. It’s better for you to figure out what/why your coworkers start time triggers in you and work on yourself.

    If your coworkers start time doesn’t directly impact your work, mind your own business and assume if there is an issue with it then coworkers manager will address it.

  20. Jane Bingley*

    I worked for a boss that was extremely strict about arrival times. If you walked in at 9:01am, he’d be standing by your desk looking angry and you’d get a lecture about the importance of punctuality. People learned to arrive on time, but they also learned to leave right on time. It didn’t matter if you stayed an extra hour the night before, you’d still get scolded for arriving at 9:01am the next day.

    The first time I asked my current boss if I could start at 8:30am so I could leave half an hour early for a medical appointment, he said no. “Just start at your usual time. I don’t need to nickel and dime you. I trust you to get your work done.” I have no problem working late on an urgent project, and I have no problem signing out at 3pm on a sunny summer Friday. I was literally 2 minutes late to a meeting this morning with Starbucks (I hit traffic on the way home) and he didn’t even notice.

    You get a LOT more out of your employees when they feel valued and treated like adults.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Your first boss was Ebenezer Scrooge and got as he gave.

      Your current boss rocks! This is how you manage people.

      FWIW, I worked three long days this week and will clock on very early today. But we are caught up and things are looking good, so it doesn’t matter.

    2. Angstrom*

      “I have no problem working late on an urgent project, and I have no problem signing out at 3pm on a sunny summer Friday.”

      My first job was good that way. It was expected that you’d stay as late as needed to meet an important customer deadline, and it was equally expected that you’d sleep in the next morning. Folks who worked late and came in at the regular time would be greeted with “What are you doing here?”
      One reason it worked so well was excellent communication from the top down. Everyone understood what projects were truly important.

  21. Chairman of the Bored*

    If a co-worker is routinely coming in late and nobody cares, maybe LW1 should just start showing up late too?

    Take advantage of the flexibility, don’t try to monkeywrench it for everybody else.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I think it’s probably one of those things where being at work on time feels very easy and good to LW, and they don’t WANT to arrive ten minutes later.

      I do think that one of the huge benefits of neurodiversity being more visible and talked about is the realisation that tons of the stuff we were taught was A Moral Issue, A Simple Matter of Hard Work and Responsibility is turning into “people are different, some of those differences simply don’t matter and some really do”. I will never, ever be someone who easily arrives on time for things: I will *always* find something else to do last minute, leave too late, get distracted and so on. Yes, I can be on time for stuff that’s Really Really Really Important, but at the cost of downgrading everything else. I can be on time for a job interview once every couple of years by literally doing nothing else that day except being on time. I can be on time for a meeting with my grandboss by making sure I don’t start any other important work in the 30 minutes before the meeting time. That’s simply not practical for every day work and meetings, and when I try and do it, it makes me stressed and miserable.

      Conversely, my spelling and grammar is on point 99.9% of the time, whether I bother to check it or not. Spelling mistakes jump out at me. If you think I’ve used the wrong past participle, it was probably a deliberate choice to write in a less formal register. Obviously I will make a blatant spelling mistake in this post because that’s sod’s law, but generally, even my casual and quickly written emails are going to be exactly how I want them to be.

      I *could* go around assuming that everyone who finds spelling and proof-reading harder than me is stupider or lazier than me, and needs to Try Harder… or I could look at their myriad other skills and the knowledge and skills and attitude they bring to their work across the board and realise that they excel in other areas.

      Personally, it’s absolutely great for me if I get recognised as the person with high-level writing skills who can write or proof-read anything that’s going to be formally published or go out to a broad audience, rather than being something anyone can do. And someone else can be recognised as the person with brilliant time management skills who you want in charge when there’s a time-sensitive public-facing matter.

      Of course, LW, if you actually work like mad to be on time and are resentful that other people aren’t making the same level of effort– by all means give yourself the gift of an extra five minutes in the morning!

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Honestly, I’m one of those people to whom being exactly on time comes easily, but I still prefer flex time. Because while I *can* stop reading in the middle of that interesting article, or do my makeup quicker, or run to the bus stop, or skip the coffee and pastry I spontaneously feel like when walking past the bakery, I don’t *want* to unless there’s a good reason.

      2. EchoGirl*

        I *could* go around assuming that everyone who finds spelling and proof-reading harder than me is stupider or lazier than me, and needs to Try Harder

        I think this is one of the things that people who are good with timeliness don’t understand about those who aren’t — IME they tend to think that because it’s relatively easy for them, it’s equally easy for everyone (barring any external, easy-to-perceive barrier like unexpected traffic), so they assume that people who are late are just choosing not to put in the effort, to cut things too close, or what have you. They really don’t understand that other people have to put in more effort — sometimes a LOT more effort — to achieve the same result. As you’re kind of hinting at, we understand this about most things in the world, but for some reason this understanding completely goes out the window when it comes to time management.

        Honestly, I think it’s as much societal as individual — for all the premium society places on being on time, there’s not a lot of effort put into actually teaching people how to do it. It’s just assumed that it’s something everyone will naturally know how to do, and as a result those who don’t are just left to struggle, and meanwhile this also reinforces to other people the idea that just A Thing People Can Do, rather than a skill that people might have varying levels of proficiency with.

        (To be clear, because I’ve had this argument on this site before, I’m not saying that it’s totally okay for people to be late regardless of the impact on others and no one can ever be bothered by it. But there are a lot of things that people do that annoy or inconvenience other people, and most of them aren’t treated as character flaws or as though you’re doing it at someone the way being late is.)

        1. EchoGirl*

          Submitted too soon. Meant to add to that last paragraph, and Sansa’s lateness seemingly has no practical impact on the OP anyway, so there’s really no reason for OP to care in the first place.

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

      Yes, I feel that OP 1 has a superiority complex. I come in on time, so I have a better work ethic. What does this say for Sansa.

  22. Artemesia*

    I am flabbergasted that people have their multiple ring tones sounding at work. ALL ringtones should be on vibrate at work in a shared space; how is that not obvious?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yeah, that would bug me too. But it shows that different workplaces have different cultures and customs around most of these things.

    2. MHA*

      The only offices I’ve ever worked at where phones-on-vibrate was the norm were also the offices where it was an outright requirement– every other office has been a decent mix of folks with sounds-on and sounds-off. “Your phone should be on vibrate at work” is fffffffar from a universal norm/expectation!

  23. Falling Diphthong*

    Letter 2 is a good example of how things that individually have benign explanations can add up into a pattern that does not. Copying food can mean someone admires your physique/health and is trying to do what you do; copying arrival time can mean that someone understands their role as needing to match your hours for training/collaboration; staring can mean someone has a tendency to stare blankly into the distance while thinking and you happen to be in their natural line of sight for that tic.

    Often with such widely annoying office behavior, the advice if you are going to complain to management is to pick one thing and focus on that. (Because the litany of small complaints sounds like a you-thing, a la a 10 year old complaining that their brother is breathing in an incredibly annoying way.) Each individual thing in the first letter seems small to complain about, though they build together into something weird. While the filming in the update is way over a clear line into “Yes, this is freaky stalking behavior that management can clearly see is abnormal, disturbing, and taking the person away from whatever work task they should be completing when they instead film their coworker.”

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I am that person who stares blankly into space, only to suddenly notice the horrified human in my line of vision.

      With that said, I did skim through The Gift Of Fear years ago, and am a big supporter of following one’s gut feeling. And, well, there’s no innocent explanation of why this coworker was taking pictures of LW.

      (I also worked with someone who would post candid shots of coworkers on his FB for laughs. None of the coworkers in the photos were that person’s FB friends or could see the posts.)

  24. Fedpants*

    I am Sansa as well, and it’s gotten to the point that my manager expressed concern if I show up at 845 am instead of 915–930. And she pushes me out the door at 530 every night. she was also telling me that when she joined the agency, one of the long time employees was giving her the lay of the land and said “I’ll deny it if you say anything, but everyone takes at least an hour for lunch, not 30 minutes, and no one works late to cover for it.”

  25. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    Learning to accept that things you hate/that bother you are not actually bad just your own personal preferences is really hard but important and commendable work. I don’t know if you’re still reading LW1, but if you or anyone who has struggled through that lesson is reading, congratulations and I’m proud of you!

    Being able to say there’s nothing wrong with something but you personally don’t care for it is so liberating. It makes it a lot easier to like your own things unapologetically. Not every preference or behavior has to be motivated by principles or reason! I drink tea in a way that horrifies pretty much everyone, but I don’t care because it’s not their business! And they would be happier if they would mind theirs. :)

  26. DramaQ*

    That can backfire on LW1 because personally if I was a manager she came to about this I would wonder what is she not getting done while watching my employee and timing her arrivals? Then has time to come to me and gripe about it? Shouldn’t she have her own work schedule to worry about?

    Don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

    1. Ahnon4Thisss*

      Yep, this is where I land too. No one likes being tracked by coworkers for something that, by LW1’s own descriptions, is a nonissue.

      If your work isn’t affected and Sansa’s work isn’t affected, leave it be.

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

      I’m kind of wondering if the OP’s desk is somewhere that she can see when people come in. Like maybe the reception desk or something. Or if its a really small office and so it’s noticeable when she comes in a bit late.

  27. Paris Geller*

    I am one of those people who HAS to be on time or early, and if someone’s meeting me I expect them to be punctual, but other than that. . . I cannot fathom caring about other people’s punctuality unless it’s directly affecting me (which it’s clear in #1 it isn’t). There are so many other things in the world to use your brain energy on.

  28. Just_Courtney*

    man, I’m bummed that #1 is the only one without an update. please come back, LW1!

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      They were probably annoyed that Allison didn’t take their side and still get mad about people showing up a few minutes late.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Or they took Alison’s advice to heart. Possibly they realized that there was some other large thing wrong with the job, that they were taking out on coworker coffee irritation because they didn’t feel like they could address any of the big problems. Or possibly they became an ultramarathoner and now work fully remotely as they compete in races across the world.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “We went full remote in 2020 and I haven’t been able to track Sansa’s comings and goings since” is my guess.

  29. CoinPurse*

    I know lateness is a thing here that shouldn’t be problematic….but the caveat about coverage is important. As a nurse, late employees were a plague to me, dumping ringing phones and patient care on me. There are jobs where one person’s lateness greatly inconveniences others. Sometimes I think that gets lost here.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I think that if those concrete problems existed, the LW would mention them as it would give them a much stronger argument.

      The only problem cited is “giving a bad impression”.

      The caveat about coverage is implicit in the “What is the work impact of this” that Alison asked.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I disagree that it gets lost here. Many folks have acknowledged that there are jobs where being on time is important. However, it’s also important to recognize that when that’s not the case (such as here) there is nothing to gain by clock watching, especially when the person is not your report.

      1. tusemmeu*

        Eh comments will include a brief caveat that it matters in some jobs without showing any understanding of how having actually worked those jobs and been burned by the people who were late will keep affecting you even after moving on to other jobs.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          But why does there need to a show of understanding for something that clearly isn’t the situation here? The response/advice isn’t meant to be applicable to every possible situation, but rather to the situation specifically at hand.

          I don’t think it’s realistic to expect folks to acknowledge every instance that the advice would be different in a different situation.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I mean, there are jobs where you need to wear safety equipment, but that shouldn’t affect people showing up hardhat-less at jobs where that isn’t required. Jobs where you need to not wear headphones, but that shouldn’t affect someone wearing headphones at a job where it doesn’t matter. And so on.

          I think people, including Alison, acknowledge the “if coverage is important, different answer” caveat. And people who try to wave off being a few minutes late, a few times a week, where coverage matters would get a sharp talking to in the comments. But when coverage doesn’t matter, this is the sine qua non of something that is not affecting you. (Unlike, say, a fight over having sound pumped into the common space that everyone has to listen to.)

    3. Sara without an H*

      That, I think, is the real issue here. LW1 specifically said that her coworker’s start time didn’t affect her work, she just thought it looked bad for her to come in a few minutes after the hour.

      If she had said, instead, “When Sansa comes in at 9:15, I have to cover all her customer service calls instead of doing my own work,” that is a legitimate issue to take to management. “I have a pet peeve about people coming in late” isn’t a legitimate complaint, it’s just a personal preference better kept to oneself.

      As a nurse, you had a justifiable reason to complain when your co-workers came in late — it created more work for you and affected patient care. From the way she describes the situation in her letter, I don’t think LW1 had an equally justifiable reason.

      Nurses rule!

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

      But that is not a problem here. Just because that’s the issue for your job does not mean it is the issue for all jobs. The OP specifically says “Her job does not require she be here at 9 on the dot.” It’s not a coverage based job where others have to wait for her.”

    5. Observer*

      Sometimes I think that gets lost here.

      Not at all. This caveat is not relevant here because even the OP, who wants to kick up a fuss, explicitly says that “job does not require she be here at 9 on the dot” It’s just that THEY hate it (they admit that it’s a “pet peeve”).

      And and “additional concern” and that the new employees might ~~~gasp!~~~ get the impression that this behavior is ok! Which, ok? Why is that a problem if the job, as *per the OP* who is complaining about it, doesn’t require this kind of punctuality?

      It’s totally valid to complain about staff whose scheduling (or lack thereof) leaves work on your plate. It’s not valid to use that issue to validate a complaint where this issue is explicitly not in the mix.

    6. Too Many Tabs Open*

      Absolutely. At my current job, no one else’s work depends on what time I show up; as long as I work my eight hours, it doesn’t matter whether that’s 8:00-5:00 or 11:00-7:00.

      But I’ve worked jobs where the person on the previous shift couldn’t leave until I clocked in, and even in my current job there are days where I have a morning meeting with someone; those are situations where yes, I need to arrive by a set time because my being late affects others.

  30. Alex*

    Yesterday I was 45 minutes late for work. This was partially my fault (I got a late start) but then also my bus didn’t arrive when it was supposed to.

    But literally no one gave a f** because it doesn’t actually matter when I do my work as long as I hit my deadlines and show up to meetings. And I do all of those things, so no one would even dream to say anything but “oh man, what a drag!” when I said my bus was a no-show. And I could have walked in with ten cups of coffee.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      That’s funny because when I am running that late, I will let my co-workers know. They know that I have an hour+ drive in, and when I am running seriously late, I do phone or text in.

      The main two times I’ve had to do that is when a deer hit my car, and I was over an hour late, due to body shop, etc. The other time that I recall is when there was a serious semi accident right where I get on the turnpike, so I had to go a longer way.

  31. Jay*

    I am a little surprised by the response to the first one, habitual tardiness because you stop to get coffee or breakfast it ridiculous. If you can’t manage to leave a couple minutes earlier to accommodate a daily stop so that you get to work on time that tells me a lot about your work ethic. Once in a while is one thing, several times a week is a red flag

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I think you need to read the entire response.

      The question is not “Is this employee arriving everyday by some arbitrary time?” (Because unless coverage is needed, starting times are arbitrary.) The question is “Is this employee getting their work done on time and to a high degree of quality?”

      Managing by selecting low-hanging fruit like this is really bad management. Manage what is important in this role, not what is so readily apparent.

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

        Also, The OP is not Sansa’s manager and it does not seem to affect them except that it is irritating to them. I’m wondering if OP’s job is one where they HAVE to be on time for coverage, like a receptionist type of job, and so is annoyed that Sansa can come in a few minutes late, while they cannot.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      If this person hasn’t been told they have to be there by 9:00 am then they aren’t being tardy.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        This. I got it from the letter that there is no strict start time other than in LW’s head.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      I think Alison’s stance on this has been pretty consistent for some time, so I’m not sure what the surprise is (even this letter is from 2019).

      What does it say about their work ethic? Especially considering the LW has nothing to say about the quality or quantity of the employee’s work.

    4. Chairman of the Bored*

      If their manager doesn’t care and is otherwise satisfied with the employee’s “work ethic” then what is the red flag?

      The people who work for me are professionals who can manage their own time, if they’re doing good work and hitting their targets then I regard their “work ethic” as just fine regardless of when they eat breakfast or physically occupy the office building.

    5. jobbyjob*

      I think it depends on how you define “on time”? Why wouldn’t on time for this person be anywhere from 9-9:10 for example? Since in a given week thats when they actually come in?

    6. fhqwhgads*

      It depends on whether the company has an actual expectation of “on time” vs “is your work getting done?”

    7. Aquamarine*

      I don’ t think it does tell you a lot about their work ethic – that’s just an assumption. Why not assess their work ethic based on information about the actual work they produce?

      This reminds me of someone I used to know. She was exactly the kind of person to come in with coffee and take a little while to settle in to work… but then she worked harder and more intensely than anyone else in her position. It was just her style, but her slow-ish start followed by intense focus was incredibly productive.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      People with a good work ethic show up a couple of minutes before nine, make a show of turning on their computer etc, then duck out for 30 minutes for the Starbucks run?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        That’s exactly what a lot of people do! Or go hang out in the breakroom by the coffee machine for the same 30 minutes.

  32. Nicki Name*

    #3 is today’s reason to reflect and be thankful that so much of my industry has moved to remote work.

  33. El Esteban*

    I was late for work everyday because I’d stop for coffee. Actually, I didn’t stop for coffee so much as go to the coffee shop early and do some writing. Thankfully, I had a boss that recognized this and, instead of reprimanding me, asked if I’d like to move my shift back by half an hour!

  34. Brain the Brian*

    “…known discretionary stop on her commute…” should honestly go down in the AAM hall of fame. I know we need to be kind to LWs, but the phrasing here is just *chef’s kiss*.

  35. Head sheep counter*

    I empathize with LW1. If a coworker passed my desk every morning (thus having a reason to note their presence or lack there of) I’d note the “apparently tardy” times. I’d not do anything about it but I’d note it. I think there’s a wide variety of cultural influences here. My family… was prompt to early for everything. I find late folk to be rude. It is as if, their time is more important than mine. If in LW1 working experience this time discrepancy was happening through out the day (eg meetings and other deadlines)… I’d carry it to the group leader as a discussion regarding whether or not I was prioritizing timeliness correctly vs tattling. If it was just coffee in the morning, I’d perhaps move desks so that I didn’t daily see and track this.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      A person is only late if they need to be somewhere by a certain time (like a meeting). This person didn’t need to be at the office by 9, so they aren’t late. I say this as someone who is also very punctual and gets annoyed by others being late, but that really only counts if their lateness is actually affecting me.

      1. Head sheep counter*

        I mean – if a chronically mis-timed person isn’t directly impacting me… I’ll still have an opinion. I know that they aren’t behaving this way “at me”. It can be a quirk or their culture and that’s no business of mine. But the moment it impacts me (a meeting or heaven help me if I’m picking them up) it feels quite different.

        On a personal note: my on-timeliness issues mean that I now have a whole set of friends for whom I won’t leave to meet them until their alleged start of their get together. I’m over being shamed for showing up when they said to show up. Fortunately, this seems to mainly be an issue for gatherings at their home and not for say – shows or going places.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          You’re allowed to have an opinion, but it doesn’t mean that person is in the wrong.

          But the moment it impacts me (a meeting or heaven help me if I’m picking them up) it feels quite different.

          Agreed. In this case it doesn’t impact the LW though so that’s a moot point.

      2. Also-ADHD*

        Yeah I consider lateness very aggravating but I actually don’t think Sansa is “late” to anything. In a coverage based job, this would be infuriating, but this isn’t that, and she’s not holding up meetings or workflows or anything else. “Late” requires something be happening Sansa needs to be there for.

    2. Jessica*

      Unless they’re regularly late to meetings *with you,* their lateness isn’t a commentary on the relative importance of your time.

  36. Falcon*

    I’d like to point out that LW1 commented this in the first post:

    “We’re both Admin, I’m just the only person in group of 12 that opens the office. I understand that opening is specifically my duty, so in that sense, yes we do have different jobs. I would like a little flexibility every now and then but I don’t get any. It’s probably just jealousy of the flexible mornings everyone else has. It’s not directly impacting my ability to do my job so of course I’ve said nothing. It’s just how I feel.”

    I was in their position at my first job (kind of), I had earned a promotion to a salaried position (and the flexibility it came with), but because I was efficient, I was also placed at front desk to fill in for our admin there since they retired (presented as a cross training opportunity, that ended up sticking me in a role that didn’t allow growth into what I was doing majority of the time). That flexibility went out the window because it was up to myself and two other to “hold down the fort,” open/close, etc. I eventually stood up for myself and got that flexibility, but it was frustrating to watch my coworkers do exactly as Sansa, then remind me I didn’t have that even though my promotion indicated I did. There were other issues in that workplace that were exacerbated by COVID, and I left partway through.

    I don’t know if that came out clearly, but I hope it did. Just some perspective on why LW1 feels that way.

    1. Observer*

      It’s useful context. But it still the wrong thing to focus on. The OP’s lack of flexibility is not due to Sansa’s schedule. Kicking up a fuss about it is not going to help them in the least. All would happen is that the OP would get a reputation as the person who tries to take away any benefit that they personally don’t get to use.

      1. Falcon*

        Correct, just wanting to provide the context for the feelings. Not looking to provide any advice or recommendation, just context.

    2. Jessica*

      In my experience, people’s jealousy at work is almost always misdirected.

      People get mad at peers they’re jealous of when they should be mad at management.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      I was wondering on that — it felt crabs in a bucket a bit. But that’s crappy to do to folks—want to take something away. I understand wanting something for yourself, but I think seeking that out is the answer and bringing down others isn’t going to satisfy at all.

  37. Angry Owl*

    One’s pet peeves are not other people’s responsibility.

    And I would be displeased if someone came to “tell on” my direct report who was getting their work done but violating a random pet peeve.

  38. RG*

    Re: late

    I agree this probably not a big deal, but where’s the line?

    15 minutes? 25? 30?
    What if half the office shows up late?
    The entire office?

      1. RG*

        I think that’s my point, but it’s more nuanced than that.

        Any approach has to be consistent; the optics need to look good. One exception looks like favoritism.

        If the boss cautions another employee for being 10 minutes late, that employee will point out the other employee and ask, why?

        Then, the boss has a mess that could threaten to undermine authority.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          If an employee asks why, the boss can explain why.
          It doesn’t have to be consistent across the board, but there should be a good reason for the inconsistency.

          I worked on a team that had flex hours when the rest of the company didn’t. The reason was that everyone else was dealing directly with customers and had to keep hours that were in sync with the customers.

          This particular letter isn’t a very good example because the LW doesn’t even manage the person who’s coming in later. For all we know, everyone on that team is allowed to come in a little later, but Sansa is the only one who actually does.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      I think the line is wherever the manager decides it is, and it should be dependent on what the effects of the actions are. If Jane, whose job is mostly self-contained and can be performed at any time, shows up 10 minutes that doesn’t impact anyone else. If Bob is in a front-facing role that required him to be at his desk by 9:00 to greet customers then his being 10 minutes late is an issue.

      1. RG*

        That’s a very simple rule, but office culture is rarely this simple.

        Think: half the office.

        How would you address this as boss?

        1. Jessica*

          I’d be like “hey, we’re not getting our work done and everyone’s coming in pretty late. Is it hard to get here on time with traffic or something? I need you all working 8-hour days, so how do we make sure that’s happening? Would 10-6 work better for you than 9-5? Let’s figure out a solution that works for both our team and the company.”

        2. Giant Kittie*

          If it’s not affecting the work getting done, why would they need to address it at all?

        3. Jennifer Strange*

          If they need to be there exactly on time I would explain why. If they don’t need to be and are getting their work done I wouldn’t care.

        4. Observer*

          Think: half the office.

          How would you address this as boss?

          It’s a good question. And the answer just might be “I wouldn’t”. It really depends on the particulars. If there something that Covid should have taught us, it’s that while SOME business conventions and processes are there for really good reasons, others just are not so important all of the time. And as a manager, it’s important to know which is which and pick your battles.

          (Reasonable) Deadlines are being missed? Customers are not being served? Contractual obligations are not being met? Some staff are being unfairly burdened by others not coming / looser schedule? All things that a manager needs to come down on. And it does not matter if it’s one person or half the office. Nor does it matter if it’s a half a day or not.

          On the other hand “it doesn’t look great” is NOT a good reason to make a fuss.

  39. Mothman*

    That creepy staring colleague one was WILD! I have to wonder if that coworker was doing more than that, like hanging out outside her house or something. It sounds bananas, but I’ve seen it happen once, and HR didn’t take it seriously…even when the person showed up at their home, confessed their love, and threatened to kill their family!

  40. Kat*

    L1 straight up makes me feral. My brother got his WFH privileges revoked because one of the warehouse workers complained to his boss that my brother was never in the office. And my brother’s boss, instead of telling Warehouse Dude to mind his own business, what bearing does that have on your job, how do you have time to work if you’re tracking Brother’s comings and goings, Brother’s schedule is not yours to manage, instead told my brother that he couldn’t work from home anymore because Boss didn’t want to answer those kinds of awkward questions.

    My brother is a coordinator and does 100% of his work on the computer, and he and Warehouse Dude never cross paths; Warehouse Dude is lurking in the parking lot watching for my brother’s car. All because my brother got promoted to coordinator over him. I’ve never met Warehouse Dude, but I hate him on principle.

  41. Jessica*

    It’s funny how people like LW1 never have a problem with seeing coworkers working late. Just starting late.

  42. Working Gal in the Wild West*

    To OP #1, respectfully, if you are spending 5-10 minutes watching the clock instead of focusing on your work, in my opinion that is no different than arriving “late.” You may be punctual, but you do not appear to be productive. I recommend not going to her manager. It would reflect poorly on you.

  43. Tattoo'd Librarian*

    #4 This is what I like to call a lack of tech etiquette. So many people in our tiny cubicle farm in the staff room leave their phones on full blast for everyone to listen to and it drives me nuts. I think I’m the only one that silences my phone when I get to work, which I always thought was just the done thing unless you have one of those jobs where you need to be attached to your work cell for important calls.

    The patrons (library) are no better. If someone’s phone or text notification goes off and they jump and then turn it off, that’s perfectly fine – people forget. But those who sit there and have their loud text tone go off 5 times in 2 minutes and do nothing…they get a polite talking to. Also, don’t get me started on keypad noises. I don’t really understand why people would need them, except maybe they want some sort of feedback to make up for the lack of tactile feedback (?). But anyway yeah, everyone in the vicinity does not need to hear each word someone is typing. T.T

  44. Dahlia*

    “1. My coworker is routinely late to work because she stops for coffee first

    I have a question about a coworker, Sansa, who is routinely ~5-10 minutes late (2-3 times a week). Her job does not require she be here at 9 on the dot.

    So she’s not late. She doesn’t have to be there at 9 on the dot, so she’s not there at 9 on the dot, and she’s not late.

    I’m honestly not sure why all the comments are treating this like Sansa is actually late when she’s… not.

  45. None of your business*

    I recently saw a tweet that said something along the lines of “my coworker showed up late with coffee mumbling something about traffic.” Do people not understand that traffic exists between the coffee shop and work, too? When I (rarely) stop, it’s at a place I can see from my bedroom window. I can order online before I leave, then run in and grab it off the shelf. The entire detour takes about one minute. All traffic I encounter must be after the stop. But if I walk in with a cup, you won’t believe me that there was a stalled truck on the interstate? Seriously, these busybodies kill me.

    1. Rainy*

      I have never for even a second cared about when any of my coworkers get in or leave the office unless we have a meeting that they haven’t shown up to.

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