I’m in trouble for being a few minutes late, weighing my food at a business lunch, and more

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

1. I’m in trouble for occasionally arriving a few minutes late

I recently quit the worst job I ever had, in favor of one I like quite a bit better. Mostly.

But my new job has a very perilous commute, involving two sets of train tracks, a drawbridge, and a four-mile stretch of single lane traffic with no turn-offs. This means that if anything goes a little bit wrong, I can end up very late to work. On a good day, it takes 15 minutes to get there. On a bad day, it takes over an hour.

I’ve been here for three months, and there are no complaints about the quality of my work. On the contrary, I’ve received a lot of praise! However, today my manager sternly pulled me aside and I received my “fourth and final” talking to about my “frequent lateness.” Apparently it’s becoming a “morale issue” and other coworkers — I’m 100% confident I know which, by the way — are starting to complain to her about my “excessive tardiness.”

What does that look like? Well, I’m supposed to be there at 8:00. Once a week, maximum, I will maybe clock in at 8:01. Every other day, I’m there at 7:55 at the latest, usually closer to 7:45-7:50. I leave my house at 7:00. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve showed up later than 8:04, and when that has happened I always make sure to call my boss as soon as I know that, say, a car is on fire on that one-lane road, or the drawbridge is up. Even then, the latest I’ve ever clocked in was 8:07, which I think is pretty good with that commute.

I don’t really know what to do about this. The problem is threefold. One, I have at least one coworker who is so unbelievably obnoxious that she is monitoring my time clock or desk and complaining to my boss without talking to me first, Two, my boss is encouraging and enabling this kind of behavior and penalizing me for it. Three, the idea that this company encourages such micromanaging that they do not even allow for a single minute of wiggle room.

I’ve managed people before, and if one of my employees complained to me that one of her colleagues, who was otherwise good at their job and frequently worked late, was routinely clocking in one minute late, I would tell her to mind her own business. But since I’m not the manager, what am I supposed to do about this? I don’t know how to talk to my manager about it and this is honestly making me so upset that I want to start job hunting again.

Are you in the kind of kind of job where being a few minutes late is genuinely an issue (like you’re supposed to cover phones that start ringing exactly at 8:00, or where you need to unlock a door at that time or similar)? If you are, you might need to start leaving 10-15 minutes earlier (since it sounds like that would make the issue go away).

But otherwise, getting a “final warning” about your “frequent” lateness when your “lateness” has mostly been one minute, plus a few instances where where you were four to seven minutes late, is ridiculous.

Is your sense that your boss is aware of what your “lateness” actually looks like, or is she just hearing other people say you’re late and assuming it’s something more severe? Ideally you’d go back to her and say, “I took what you said really seriously and looked at my login times for the last several months to find the lateness you were talking about. Most days I’m early. Once a week, maximum, I am one minute late. There were four times when I was late by four to seven minutes. Given the unpredictability of the route I need to use to commute, I’d be grateful to have a 10-minute grace period if you agree it’s not affecting my work.”

But unless your manager wildly misunderstood what was being reported to her or the work truly needs precise to-the-minute punctuality, this kind of focus on a minute here and there (less time than many people spend getting settled at their desks in the morning) bodes badly for the culture there.

Read an update to this letter

2. Would it be strange to weigh my food at a business lunch?

I hope you will help me and my husband settle an argument. I am in Overeaters Anonymous and have a lunch coming up with my boss’s boss. I need to bring a scale to weigh my food as part of the program. My husband thinks that will be off-putting for my skip level boss. I just plan to say I have a food plan from a nutritionist and it requires me to weigh my food. It’s true and I don’t think anyone would care. What do you think?

I’d love to say no one will think anything of it since how you manage your food and your health is no one else’s business. But in reality, enough people would have a negative take on it that I’d avoid doing it at a business lunch.

To a lot of people, it would make an odd impression and your boss’s boss could think it shows strange judgment to do at a business meal. She might also worry about you doing it if you ever dine with clients.

Is there a compromise that could meet your goals without bringing the scale along, like looking at the menu beforehand so you can select something likely to fit your program or even calling the restaurant ahead of time to figure out the best way to stick to your nutritional goals while you’re there?

Again, ideally people shouldn’t care, but it’s definitely not a “no one would care” situation.

Read an update to this letter

3. My company won’t let me take a year-long leave-of-absence

I have been with my employer for 10 years and, in general, like my job and have been a top performer for my entire tenure. I am at the maximum vacation day allotment and logistically at the top of my career path as a department manager. I work in financial services. My mom recently passed at 65 and I am now thinking about some of my life choices.

My husband and I purchased a travel trailer. I really want to travel the U.S. My thought was to take an unpaid leave of absence for a year. I intend to come back and then continue to work for another 10 to 15 years. My employer will not allow any unpaid time off. Is this uncommon? I don’t want to have to quit and then get rehired and have to start all over again. My employer doesn’t offer a pension, so that is not a consideration, and I would pay my medical expenses out of pocket.

Your employer’s approach is definitely typical. It’s not realistic for them to hold your job open for a year, so they’ll have to replace you — and they may or may not have an opening that fits you when you return. If someone is an absolute superstar, sometimes they’ll be able to negotiate something like this … but more typically, you’ll be told that you’re welcome to contact them when you return and see what they have open, but that they can’t guarantee anything. (Plus, there are a lot of things that could change during your time away — restructuring, a new manager, different business needs, budget cuts — so it’s understandable that they don’t want to lock themselves into an arrangement that might not make sense for them in a year.)

4. How do I prevent future employers from finding out about my personal tragedy when they google me?

In my field, it’s pretty normal and expected to have a personal website that people can look at to see your work, get in contact with you, etc. In order to find other people’s websites, I usually just type the person’s name into google. I have a really unique name, which means that googling my name also pulls up stuff I don’t want associated with my professional life.

Specifically, I coordinated a couple of GoFundMe campaigns for a close relative’s medical bills related to a terminal illness and later for their funeral. Due to the amount raised and the uniqueness of my name, those GoFundMe campaigns are within the first couple of results that show up when you google my name. I do not come from wealth, and while campaigning for my relative’s bills I wrote very personal pleas for assistance. I am incredibly thankful for having been blessed with a terrific personal network that shared those fundraisers all over social media and for all the donations we received during what was an incredibly difficult time for my family.

However, as a very junior person in my field, I worry that having those GoFundMe’s associated with my name will harm my career. I worry I will always be associated with a personal tragedy that will distract from the quality of my work and prevent myself from being taken seriously by future employers and peers. How do I minimize the harm that this can cause to my career? Should I give future employers a heads-up? Would I be expected to talk about it? How should I go about discussing it, if I need to bring it up?

You don’t need to worry about this at all. It’s not something you need to disclose, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll be asked about it; in fact employers aren’t likely to think about at all. When employers google candidates, it’s really common to come across this sort of thing, and it doesn’t seem strange or forever connect the person with a personal tragedy or anything like that. It’s clearly something private, and it’s about a very normal part of life.

It’s similar to finding someone’s wedding registry or marathon times — obviously far more sad, but in the same category of personal life stuff that’s normal to have out there and which no one will think has any bearing on your candidacy or work. Don’t worry about it at all. (And I’m sorry about your relative.)

5. How to tell my boss his second-in-commands are making it impossible for me to do my job

I’ve only been employed at my current company for about three months, but so far the director has been really impressed with me and already has offered me a promotion, which is great!

Everything was going well until the director (who is the owner) went on a month-long paternity leave and left his two bumbling second-in-commands in charge. One of them is just plain useless and is happy to collect his pay and not do a whole lot else, whereas the other is incredibly two-faced, power-hungry (he’s fired two people in the week that the director has been on leave), and just generally doesn’t see value in my area of the business (except it’s a legal requirement, so it’s not really relevant whether he sees value or not).

Yesterday, I received an email from the director asking for an updated timeline on my team’s progress. He also said that he’s unhappy with the meetings that he scheduled between myself and the second-in-commands to create a new documentation suite constantly being cancelled. The reason they get cancelled is because his goons never show up! I’m actually currently typing this out in the boardroom where I’ve been sitting waiting for them to show up to a critical meeting that was due to start half an hour ago. I’m aware of how bad this looks on me, and I know I need to clue him in, but how do I do that without looking like a tattletale?

You definitely need to let him know so he doesn’t think you’re to blame. Just be matter-of-fact about it: “I agree — we’ve had several meetings scheduled but they haven’t shown up. I’ve been following up to reschedule, but if you can let them know you’d like them to prioritize it, it might help.”

Read an update to this letter

{ 663 comments… read them below }

  1. TG*

    LE #1 – honestly even if you can get there earlier I’d still leave this job. Micromanaging someone to the minute is a clear sign this culture is horrible. Please take it from someone who thought that the rest of the job would make up for this; my boss showed his true colors with things like this and I left within a year. The breaking point was I asked well in advance to leave at 4 one day to get to a conference with my child’s teacher. My boss said no.
    Done and out two weeks later with a new job and best decision I ever made.

    1. Polly Hedron*

      I agree that this is ridiculous, but, LW #1, until you can find a new job, start leaving your house at 6:45.

      1. Time to go!*

        LW1: Do you work for my old boss? If so, time to go!!! My boss (a micromanager) had me track employees like this (which I resisted). I even brought it up to HR and they thought anything less than a 5 minute grace period was ridiculous. And we were in a patient facing role. This was just one symptom of a very toxic work place. I left that job as soon as I was humanly able.

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        The annoying thing about leaving at 6:45 though is that on a good day OP would be at work an hour early. Unless they get paid for that time or could also leave an hour early, that’s so ridiculous for the sake of not ever being 1 minute late. OP may have no choice, but argh!

        If the role isn’t coverage-based, is your start time negotiable at all OP? If your official start time was earlier or later would you miss the worst of the traffic and be able to guarantee a more consistent commute time?

        I once had a similar difficult commute, and I asked to start and finish an hour earlier than standard time. Later would have been better for traffic, but it was that kind of place where you could frequently work till after midnight but walking in even a few minutes late was Noted. (Wasn’t coverage based either, just terrible management). By opting for earlier, even if I was REALLY late I’d still get there well ahead of the worst people, and no one questioned why I was staying later than my usual finish time.

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          LW1 may have already thought of this, or there might be reasons why it couldn’t work… but I’d be looking on the map for somewhere to go for a walk (e.g. a park or some back streets), near work or at least on the “work” side of the unpredictable obstacles. Then any day I didn’t get delayed, I could go for a walk in the intervening time. I’d take my little dictation machine in case I had ideas.

        2. NerdyPrettyThings*

          I definitely wouldn’t go to work an hour early on a good commute day unless there was no other option. OP, I would leave at 6:45 while I looked for a new job, and if I arrived early, I’d try to find a coffee house or similar place to spend that extra time in the immediate area of work.

          1. madhatter360*

            It seems like OP might already be doing that. The letter says she leaves the house at 7, and gets to work 7:45-7:55 most days. If there’s a 15 minute commute on a good day that’s 30 minutes not being accounted for.

            1. WillowSunstar*

              I’d say bring a book or tablet with a Kindle, or play games on the cell phone if it makes you avoid being late. Micromanaging arrival time is ridiculous, but some companies still do that.

          2. TootsNYC*

            but often you can’t know it’s going to be a “good commute day” or a “bad commute day” until well AFTER you’ve left!

            Sure, some problems can be predictable, but not always!

            1. Lacey*

              Yup. I had a super unpredictable commute for a long time. My boss just accepted that I was going to roll in 5-15 minutes late sometimes.

              Other times I’d be quite early.

              1. Verthandi*

                There was a major bridge that was out for about a year and a half between me and my workplace. If I left at Time X, I’d get to work 5 minutes late. If I left at Time X-5 minutes, I’d get there 45 minutes early. If I left at Time+1 minute, I’d be 20 minutes or more late. There was no time that was optimal to leave my house, and those were “good” commute days.

                Fortunately, my manager understood, and when the bridge was rebuilt, everything went back to a normal, predictable commute.

            2. the cat's ass*

              I live in the Bay Area with 3 bridges and all it takes is one fender bender on any of them and things are backed up forever. My way of dealing with it is flex time and i am enormously grateful to my workplace for sanctioning it-i leave at 0515 and am at my desk by 0600 and out at 1600, missing most of the most heinous traffic…most of the time. Support staff also has some flexibility, but one fellow employee, who lives down the street from me, starts at 0800 and is consistently late due to traffic. They won’t leave earlier or do flex time so they are always late and other folks who take the commute into consideration certainly do notice.

        3. Ally McBeal*

          When I relied on public transit for work, my commute would take anywhere from 25 minutes on a perfect day to 75+ minutes on the worst days. So I always assumed a 50-minute commute and found a place to sit and read a book (or journal, or scroll Twitter, or whatever) until it was time to start my day. I worked at a college at the time so I could just find a spot on campus, but a coffee shop or park or even the lobby of an office building (assuming it has seating and friendly security guards) would work great. If OP has a car they could just sit in their car in the parking lot.

        4. DivergentStitches*

          I mean, the OP could use it as an example of the unreasonableness of the coworker/manager:

          “Why are you here so early all the time?”
          “Well, I got talked to about being tardy, which only happens maybe once every 3 weeks or so, but I don’t want to get in trouble, so I started leaving the house at 6:45. That typically means I’ll be here an hour early. Got anything I can help with?”

          1. FrivYeti*

            My experience is that jobs that micromanage my arrival down to the minute never, ever, also give credit for arriving early. Either you’re not allowed to clock in, and you have to sit in the break room with a book, or you’re put to work without your extra time counting or being commented on.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              I’ve found that a manager that focus on the “You were 1-5 minutes late 3 times over the last 3 weeks” usually is an unreasonable manager in other ways and/or has other issues with the employee’s performance.

              One that latter point, they might the wobbly start time go unmentioned (and may do this with other employees) but they are already frustrated with something else and/or tardiness is just the easiest thing to articulate, rather than giving actual productive feedback on more complex aspects of the employee’s performance.

              1. LW1*

                Hi! Just poking around the comments here – if my boss is frustrated with anything else regarding my job performance, it has not been brought up to me by her or by anyone else. As far as I am aware I am quite good at my job.

                1. Update Me*

                  Some bosses are just like that. I have a 3 minute leeway by contract, and my boss still gets bent out of shape over a minute late.

                  I can be at work in 22 minutes if there’s zero traffic. Today, I was behind a garbage truck going 35 in a 55 for about 6 miles, I was able to pass it, at which point I was behind a flatbed semi going 30 for a mile or so before I could pass.

                  My family swears I’ll be late for my own funeral, so I’m content with being a minute or two late every few days, especially as I have the leeway. Sometimes I’m several minutes early, and at that point I’m expected to begin as soon as I walk in. (I sit in the car and play candy crush until time to start-I don’t work early).

        5. Snow Day*

          I like this solution, and I particularly like that the employee was the one to suggest a problem-solving solution. In our very very small medical office, we had a long-time valuable receptionist/ scheduler who got married. Her new home was about 30 minutes away, with many narrow roads in a rural area. Her new marriage included the husband’s dog, and the new husband had an early-arrival job somewhere. The employee was subsequently late EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not a lot — somewhere between 5-15 minutes. And EVERY DAY there was an excuse — the dog got out, the traffic was bad, there was an accident, her car ran out of gas, there was a train on the tracks, she needed to turn off the sprinkler, on and on and on. We cut her a lot of slack (long time employee, great phone skills, new marriage, new commute path). But THEN — we found out that she still filled out her time card with an 8 am daily arrival time. She would stay late (to make up for the morning tardiness), but was entering the 15 minutes as OVERTIME. Red flag!! We talked to her several times about it. We offered to change her hours to (for example) 8:30 to 5:30 so the commute wouldn’t be such an issue. We offered to change her duties so that someone else would open the phone lines right at 8. Lots of accommodations, but none of them seemed acceptable to her. I wish I had had the wisdom to ask what she thought would be a good solution, which would have involved her in the problem solving. But I was too green at the time to think of it. I also didn’t think of shifting her hours to earlier. Ultimately, it seemed like she wanted the implied importance of being “the one who opens the office” with a title (asked for a nametag with “office manager” on it), but didn’t want the work associated with either title. She eventually resigned to at an outpatient surgi-center and we lost touch. But it was a good lesson for me as a green manager. I’m not saying that the LW is manipulating any of time / pay components. I am trying to reinforce that some jobs are not a good fit for reasons that have nothing to do with the job description (management fit, personality differences, expectations, etc)

      3. 2 Cents*

        And the corollary, leave when it’s quitting time. No staying late to build good will. They left it when they decided 1 minute late was too late. So they get nothing extra from you.

      4. Crooked Bird*

        Maybe I’m just in a pissy mood today, but my impulse is to say “leave your house at 6:45 and clock out at 5:00 on the dot at the end of the day, every day. And when they ask you about it, look surprised and say you improved your times like they asked, didn’t you?”

    2. Mrs. Hawiggins*

      Exactly. Someone who genuinely TRIES to be on time and is a few minutes late? I promise you the problem is not the lateness, it’s the people reporting it. I literally had two flat tires in one week and my boss came after me. When I showed her the receipts from the tire store I asked her, “I guess this is what it’s going to take then?” I’d been there a year with an exceptional record. I told her if she or others were looking for an “excuse” I’d save them the trouble. I’m still there. 3/4 of them were let go.

      1. FrivYeti*

        I once got in trouble for “attendance issues” after having exactly two late arrivals on my record over the course of my first year. The first was a day in which, due to a major power outage in the area, my alarm was reset and I was half an hour late in to work. The second was a day in which my home was burglarized and I had to wait for the police.

        Unsurprisingly, that job ended up having a lot more problems (including getting unpaid overtime out of teams by threatening to fire the team manager for underperforming) and I eventually left, but I should have seen the warning signs.

        1. Update Me*

          Ugh. I got busted for attendance my second year at this job (over 8 years ago). I’d been a minute or two late a couple times in a month or two, out with the crud/flu/pneumonia a couple times, a couple days each, (with appropriate doctors documentation) and *clutch pearls* 8 minutes late because I was stuck on a hill in a snowstorm.

          You’d think I’d robbed a bank. My job doesn’t require on the dot starts, but bosslady acted like I’d personally insulted her by being sick. Sorry!

          Current boss is better, but gets picky over a minute or two.

        2. Quill*

          It wasn’t arrival times at my worst job, it was departure times. I was accused of “not caring about anything besides leaving on time” on days that I came in early and tried to leave at my original end time. I’m still not certain if I was being paid appropriately for my allegedly “salaried” position, come to think of it…

    3. Mylawnneedscutting*

      It was little pin pricks like this which decided me when another firm got in touch and asked if I was interested in working for them.
      We sold our practice to another firm and, as part of the deal, stayed on as employees. They immediately changed the sign in sheet which until then had been for fire safety to know who was in or out of the building so we had to show the times. I discovered that the receptionist then reviewed the sheet and reported to the CEO who came in after 9am and he would raise this in review meetings. As the sheet was taken for checking at 9.15 it was clear no note was taken of the previous day’s leaving times. I would frequently be there until about 7.30pm. He never did raise “lateness” with me as he needed my expertise, but I disliked hugely the thought that someone was looking and judging like this.
      It’s telling that of 50 staff we passed on there are only 8 left and my department, which was 8 strong and well respected locally has no-one left.

    4. Clara*

      My old boss called out me getting in less than 5 minutes past 9 twice in a week, when we didn’t have a set start time and others in our department regularly got in between 9.30-10.30am, as it “made him look bad”. It made me start job hunting.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I had a temp job that was not customer-facing and not particularly time-sensitive — we had some tasks that needed to get done before noon but we were literally never late in the 3 months I was there, and I regularly asked for more work because I’d finished all my assigned tasks before the end of the work day.

        My boss scolded me for clocking in 60 seconds late in the morning.

        For reference, everyone on my floor clocked in by swiping ID cards at the same time clock, and we also got in trouble for clocking in more than 1-2 minutes early, so you had like a 3-minute window to clock in during which 60 other people were also trying to clock in. AND because I was a temp I wasn’t allowed to keep my ID card overnight, so I had to come in, get someone to let me into the building because the doors were locked until the time I was supposed to clock in, find my manager, get him to give me my time card, and then wait until exactly 7:59am to go clock in.

        I also got scolded if I clocked in more than one minute late from lunch even though inevitably that one minute was spent standing in line to use the time clock. This is also the same guy who yelled at me for going to the bathroom more than once a day when I was on my period.

        The temp agency was for some reason very confused when they called and asked if I’d take another job there and I laughed out loud and said absolutely not.

        1. Shakti*

          I had a temp job at a bank that was not time sensitive, I was dealing with filling signature cards which were obsolete and I was stuck in a windowless room. she would change my time card to the minute and cross out what I wrote the problem apart from her being incorrect about when I started working was that my timesheets HAD to be in 15 minute increments or they would be rejected and there were specific rules about rounding up or down and she refused to listen when I explained this and would write the exact minute she noticed me being in the office which wasn’t even often when I got in. She was horrible in other ways and I apologized to the temp agency, but quit 2 weeks in for a full time permanent job

    5. Missy*

      LW1 is it possible that you are later more often or by more minutes than you realise? If your in a fourth warning in only 3 months of employment is it possible that this has caused more of an issue to your employer or colleagues than you realise?

      How much of an impact being a few minutes late makes will depend on the type of role you do and whether it is coverage based but the fact it is being clocked down to the minute shows it is important to the employer even if it seems excessive.

      Although it feels like micromanaging a few minutes here and there does add up. If your due to start work at 8 you should be there ready to start at 8 not 08:01 and it is down to you to leave home earlier to ensure you are there on time and really this should have been factored in before you accepted this job.

      On the flip side though if you regularly stay a bit past 5 then this sort of balances things out about, however if you leave 5 on the dot then i can see why your colleague may be miffed if you are late in the morning.

      Ultimately you need to figure out how much this role is worth to you and if you want to stay your going to have find out if there is flexibility, but if not you have to make sure you are on time or find another job. Luckily there are a lot of good employers out there who value output over hours worked and are more willing to be flexible with start/finish times.

      1. ecnaseener*

        is it possible that you are later more often or by more minutes than you realise?

        Let’s take LW and their highly detailed accounting of their clock-in times at their word, yeah?

        1. Saberise*

          Usually I would agree with you but I also wonder if there is something more to it than OP realizes. She says max she clocks in after 8 once a week ranging from 1 – 7 minutes. But does clocking in mean she’s clocked in ready to work or does clock in mean she’s clocked in but than spends 15 minutes getting settled in before she starts working so her work day starts at 8:15-8:30. I’ve had co-workers that get here right at 8 on the dot and than go to the bathroom, get coffee, stop to chat with other co-workers, get something to eat, answer a few texts, etc. On a good day they may start working at 8:30.

          1. Spearmint*

            Hm, I’d consider getting ready for work and settled in to be part of the work I’m being paid for.

            1. Riot Grrrl*

              Possibly, unless you’re doing shift work. I’ve worked two jobs where I can’t leave until the next person gets there. In one of them my shift ended at 4:00 am. If the next person shows up at 4:02 and spends 15 minutes “settling in” before I can leave, yes, I am going to be pissed.

              1. Dona Florinda*

                But in that case, the problem is the settling in, not the tardiness. Someone could arrive late but start working immediately, and someone could arrive on time and even earlier, but be an inconvenience if they take half hour to actually start working.

                I’m assuming if that were the case, OP’s boss would’ve mentioned it.

              2. Jessen*

                Given my experience with shift work, this usually happens because companies are effectively expecting employees to spend 10min or so working off the clock before their shift.

              3. Nina*

                I realize this doesn’t fix the problem in the US, but in my country’s labor laws it’s quite explicit that ‘getting ready to start or leave work (if that time is not negligible) is work, and if you want someone ready to start a shift at 0400, you better start paying them at 0345 at the latest’.

            2. Lana Kane*

              In work that is coverage-based, this is not usually the case. You need to be ready to work at your start time.

            3. respectfully, no.*

              Nope. If you can and would do it at home (getting coffee, using the toilet) that’s not work. Logging into your laptop is because you need to do that to work.

              1. Random Dice*

                Using the toilet is explicitly protected under the law in any reasonable country.

          2. LW1*

            Yeah, this is a reasonable conclusion to draw without context – however, clocking in means I have already gotten to my desk, gotten my computer booted up, logged into my email for a 2FA code, and used it to log into ADP. When I clock in, I am working.

            1. Not Going to Salary*

              I respectfully disagree. Booting my computer, logging in to email, etc., is all stuff I do AFTER clocking in. At least as an hourly employee. Been on the collecting settlements end of a couple of lawsuits in my younger days upholding this—being required to boot/sign in to the computer is work.

              Now if you’re salaried, you do you. That’s why I’m not salary. The next step up in my job is, and the salary employees are expected to work 6 and 7 days a week, sometimes 10-12 hours a day.

              1. Gherkin*

                I don’t think the details of LW1’s clock in process are up for disagreement. They know what their employer’s system requires to be clocked in. It’s not a question of them doing them, it’s a question of needing that 2FA code before they can clock in.

                1. LW1*

                  Right yeah, I don’t start any of my actual daily tasks before I clock in, it’s just a matter of like, once I hit that “clock in” button, I’m not getting coffee or putting my stuff away or whatever, I’m working.

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        OP says they are late a maximum of once per week, usually only by 1 minute, and every other day they arrive at work 5-15mins early. So the “few minutes here and there adds up” argument doesn’t stack up – the workplace is still coming out ahead.

        Hell, even if OP were late by 1 minute every single day that would still only add up to half day in a year. More than that will be getting wasted with this excessive monitoring and micromanaging.

        1. umami*

          I think that’s why the nature of the job matters. I have a direct report whose job requires them to be at the front desk precisely at 8 am when we open, and leave precisely at 5 pm when we close. So coming in early doesn’t really count, and staying late doesn’t really count. It’s tough, and it’s the only position reporting to me that is like this (it actually belonged to a different department but was assigned to me because there were so many issues with timeliness). I had a simple conversation with the DR to figure out what the issues were and to explain why the hours were set the way they were. And we were able to fix it once she understood why it was important to strive to be on time, and I recognized a need to cross-train other staff to step in on days she wasn’t able to be on time because that literally happens to everyone. She felt heard and and supported, and the problem went away.

      3. EPLawyer*

        Unless coverage based — 1 minute late is not a big deal.

        Honestly, how much time is lost to productivity each day walking to the bathroom? Or stopping to say hello to someone? Or walking to the copier?

        People are not productive every single minute of every day at work. Dinging someone for being one minute late — even if they don’t have a difficult commute — is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.

        A good employer doesn’t even clock that.

      4. Willow Pillow*

        In addition to not taking LW at their word, this is incredibly shortsighted. That flexibility goes both ways! I have colleagues who regularly get in late and leave early, for instance… but one of them takes a half hour lunch instead of the standard hour, and all of them end up with evening/weekend work. LW has said nothing about this job having coverage requirements.

        I had similar circumstances a few jobs ago – I started mid-June, and the bus I was taking was cut for the summer in July. I asked my supervisor in advance if I could take the next bus, which might get me in 5 minutes late, but I’d make up the time from my lunch. She said this was fine, but the second time I was late her boss said something to her, and she then told me I had to be in at my start time, no exceptions.

        Me: “I told you two weeks ago ago and you agreed.”
        Her: “I didn’t know it would happen so often!”
        Me: “I made up the time – I was less than 5 minutes late, and I cut my lunch by 10 minutes.”
        Her: “You didn’t tell me when you were making up the time!”

        I did start taking the earlier bus and would sit at my desk for half an hour. This job was coverage based, but in the afternoon and not in the morning – there were 3 other people when I got there at 8 but only me when I left at 5. I never left early, but I was always out there at 5:00. The job also required dual authorization way more than the other jobs I’ve had in this field… someone else was hired for this shift and she would often ask me for authorizations right until then. I refused as soon as 5:00 hit.

        The impact of not having that flexibility was bigger than the few minutes, yes, but not in the way you explain – it illustrated that my butt-in-seat was more important than my work-life balance, and that management did not trust me to do the basics of my job. They spent much more time following up on it (and at a higher salary!) than they would have lost to my being late.

    6. Snow Globe*

      I agree. Even if this was a situation where the job does require someone to be there precisely on time, the boss isn’t handling this well. There should have been conversations earlier about the reason for needing to be on time, and pointing out that even one minute late causes problems. It sounds like the boss has just made a few comments about the LW being late, then hit them with the “final warning”, which is really poor management.

      1. Another thought*

        I dunno… “fourth and final warning” sure makes it seem like there have been plenty of earlier conversations… like at least 3.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Ehhhh… Maybe. The other “warnings” could have been less formal. Or it could have been like FedEx & UPS, where they put a note on your door saying they’ve tried to deliver 3 times, when you know for a fact that it’s the first attempt.

        2. EPLawyer*

          But what were the previous 3 like? We have tons of letters here from managers who thought they were being clear and then frustrated they didn’t see the improvement they wanted. Turns out they never actually said it was a problem that needed to be fixed or how severe the problem was.

          If the first 3 conversatins were — I understand you have a hard commute, try to get here on time if you can, then OP had no idea this was really a problem. Especially becuase they said they call in if they realize they are going to be late. Which I wonder what the boss says to those calls?

          1. Lily Rowan*

            I wonder if the OP calls to let their boss know they’ll be late because of X, but then doesn’t confirm that they have actually arrived less than 10 minutes late. So the boss has this vague idea of the OP being late a lot, but not the actual data.

          2. Kacihall*

            I’m wondering if the boss was considering those calls a warning. like, he warned LW that they shouldn’t be late on the call.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              If my boss wanted me to give a heads up every I’m going to be 1-5 minutes late for work on a particular day, I suspect there would be plenty of other issues with that job that would have me searching.

              Unless there is some time-sensitive coverage issue going on, that 1 minute or 5 minutes wouldn’t be a material thing on any given workday. Granted I’m a salaried employee at a LT job and I’m more like to be staying late to finish something up as I am to be coming in late in the morning.

        3. LW1*

          The other discussions were after the days where I was like, more than a minute late, the 8:04/8:07 ones. My response to the “fourth and final” was a pretty respectful version of “really? ONE minute? One whole minute? That’s what this is about? Okay, I guess.”

          1. I have RBF*


            Seriously, this jerk has no respect for you, no concept of how much time your commute is, and all they want to do is flex their control over you.

            While you are job searching, you should work to rule. No staying late. Yes, leave your house 15 minutes earlier, but wait in your car until 7:55, so you can walk in and logon at precisely 8 am. Take all your breaks for the full allotted time. Take your full lunch, away from your desk. Give them nothing more than exactly what they pay for, no more, no less.

    7. Colette*

      Maybe, but it depends on the job. If they are the one unlocking the door and they unlock it at 8:01, that’s not a huge problem. But if they pull into the parking lot at 8:01 and have to gather their stuff/walk to the building/find their keys, that could be a bigger issue, particularly in a place with frequent short appointments.

      How big a deal it is depends on who else it affects (are other people waiting because the OP is not there? Does starting the first appointment late put the whole day behind) and whether the OP defines arriving as at their desk ready to work or pulling into the parking lot.

      1. LW1*

        As noted in another comment I left a moment ago, this is not a coverage-sensitive job, and when I clock in I’m already up and running (I need a 2FA email sent to my work email before I can clock in) so even on days I clock in at 8:01 I’ve already been in the office for 5 minutes or so.

        1. I have RBF*

          There’s the thing. Most jobs that would be perfectly fine.

          The fact that there you need to do all the work of logging in, etc, before you can “clock in” is bullshit. You aren’t starting work at 8:01, you start work several minutes earlier when you hit the power button on your computer. Logging in and waiting for a 2FA email? That’s work.

          The fact that you have to “clock in” at a computer job with a process that takes up to five minutes is asinine. These people are stealing your time.

        2. Colette*

          Oh, so that sounds like you are working before 8:01, you just are waiting for the email. I suspect you’re not late (and that you are probably not being paid for the time you are actually working).

    8. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Maybe I’m just a jerk, but I’d probably start not putting in extra time if the boss is truly going to make an issue out of a couple minutes. Flexibility goes both ways. If they expect me to be flexible about stuff, like staying late, they ought to be reasonably flexible, too. I recognize that many people don’t have jobs where they could get away with this and it’s not going to help career progression in that company.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Well said. Although I might first point out to the manager that I’m not leaving at the stroke of 5 PM, so they might want to consider having a bit of a grace period with respect to start times, on their end.

        1. Betty*

          I agree. I once managed someone who occasionally arrived late because she dropped her son off at school before work. When I asked about it, she said that she was often early, and that if she was late, she could make up the time. We very seldom had client meetings right at start time, so I said that was fine. It was a lesson for me (as a new manager) to listen to what people said, and think about it if necessary, and then make a decision based on what makes sense, not based on rigid, arbitrary rules. With our previous manager, the answer was always “no.” It was very liberating to realize that I didn’t have to continue in that pattern.

      2. TootsNYC*

        as a boss, that was how I thought of it.
        And it sort of went both ways; I asked my team at my new job to let me know what extra hours they’d worked (we regularly worked into the night) so I could approve flex-time hours. One of my team put down 15 minutes.

        I said, “I’m not going to count 15 minutes toward comp time. I don’t nickel-and-dime you over 15 minutes–if you take a long lunch here and there, I don’t even care. If you’re late, I don’t even notice.

        “If you have to stay home for an extra hour to wait for the locksmith, I’m not going to insist you take vacation time to cover it.

        “For one thing, I don’t want to spend the energy to track it. But mostly it’s because I want us to be flexible with one another.

        “And in exchange, I don’t want you to ask me to compensate you for times that small. If you work an hour late, yes, I want to make that up to you. But not 15 minutes.”

    9. AnonInCanada*

      You said it. If the job doesn’t absolutely require you to have your butt in your seat or on the assembly line at precisely x o’clock and zero seconds, then being a couple of minutes late since shit happens shouldn’t be an issue for anyone. Especially when you take the plusses and minuses (being early vs. being late) it still ends up a net positive. This boss should mind their own business about this. So should the obnoxious co-worker. Unless you (OP) want to waste most of your time micromanaging and nitpicking everyone there for every little faux-pas they make. This benefits nobody and creates a toxic work environment.

      1. may spring rain*

        “This boss should mind their own business about this.”

        But that’s not how it works. I agree that from what the LW writes, the situation sounds micromanag-y; regardless, boss has every reason to make arriving on time to work their/her/his business. It’s their job to do so.

        1. AnonInCanada*

          > boss has every reason to make arriving on time to work their/her/his business. It’s their job to do so

          Presuming we’re taking OP at their word and this being a minute or so late every now and then isn’t a tragedy, then yes, the boss should mind their own business. I’d get it if this was something time-critical (keyholder, need to relieve a shift worker on a three-line plant etc.) but if the world isn’t going to come crashing down because OP is there at 8:01 am instead of 8:00 on the dot, then what’s the big deal? Why cause drama over it?

          1. Hannah Lee*

            I used to have a boss who purposefully never arrived in the department until ~15 minutes after “official staff start time” His attitude was that he didn’t want to micromanage people’s arrival time to that level, it was just noise that didn’t impact the department’s performance. But if he was there at 8 and saw people showing up 5, 10 minutes late, his manager would expect him to keep track of it and manage it. So he just always found something to do elsewhere in the building between 8 and 8:15, and as long as all the butts were in all the seats by the time he got to his office, he was happy.

    10. Usagi*

      I am betting this probably isn’t actually the kind of job where the phones go on at eight or a store needs to be unlocked at eight, because if that were the case, everyone’s official start time would be at least 15 minutes before that.

      It sounds like this is just a case of either a busybody coworker manipulating the facts, or of your boss being out of their absolute noggin.

      1. TootsNYC*

        also, if it were that kind of job, I’d have expected the LW to have mentioned that.

        1. LW1*

          Absolutely not that kind of job – there is a handful of time-sensitive work that has to be completed by 9:00am, but I have never once missed that deadline.

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            I’m wondering if this is the problem. There is something that MUST be done at 9. So, even if 7 minutes isn’t a huge deal, those might be 7 minutes your boss (or whoever is complaining) is stressing out that Time Sensitive Task will be late. This may be especially true if whoever you think is the coworker with the issue is somehow involved or relying on that task. If this is the case, maybe they can shift your hours to start 30 minutes earlier? That way if the unpredictable commute makes you even 10-15 minutes late, you totally have over an hour to complete Time Sensitive Task.

            1. LW1*

              Sure, but I have never been 10-15 minutes late. The issue is that sometimes I am ONE minute late. The reports I need to complete that 9am task usually aren’t even in my inbox until 8:05 at the earliest. So, if there are concerns about my work getting done, they haven’t been brought up to me – only that it’s a “morale issue” for “other members of the team,” which is goofy bullshit as far as I am concerned.

              1. Always a Corncob*

                This. Your manager doesn’t want to deal with the complainer, so she’s punting the problem to you.

                1. Liz*


                  For some reason boss can’t tell complainer to calm down. That means OP has to get that person to shut up herself.

                  Try bringing her a muffin every morning.

              2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

                I hear you. I’m just having a hard time seeing the manager not looking at the “other members of the team” and thinking they are ridiculous for citing your 1 minute late occurrences as a problem for them.

                But honestly if there is a project that needs to get done between 8:05 and 8:59 every day, I get why there might be a perception that your lateness is a “problem” and one that working an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day doesn’t really solve. And you are very new on this job so the concern that if this is your “best” at punctuality, it could indicate problems down the road.

                Look, I couldn’t work a gig where there was a super hard start every day, so I am not saying “you are the problem”. I’m saying that this might not be an unreasonable manager problem either. It may just be a poor match between your circumstances/needs and the circumstances/needs of the role (both independently and as part of a team).

                1. Coffee Bean*

                  Sorry, but I would look at the track record of delivering the report. OP has stated it has never been late. Given that, the few minutes where OP arrived late would be irrelevant. As a manager, I would be inclined to encourage OP’s peer to focus on their own work and productivity.

                2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

                  Responding to Coffee Bean: But they haven’t been there that long. If we were talking about someone who had been doing the job for a year with no issue, then I would agree, but being late consistently in the first 3 months, even by a little bit, when there is something very time sensitive due within an hour of the time LW1 is supposed to be in, I think the boss would have a right to call this out pretty clearly to LW1. LW1 can always quit if this doesn’t work for them. They are early enough at the job to bounce without a huge gap.

    11. Recently Retired*

      My roommate is having the same problem, but it’s not travel time – her challenge is Finding. A. Parking. Place!!!
      She works second shift and gives herself 30 minutes to get there. She typically arrives 5 – 10 minutes early, but if the parking garage is full, she spends up to 10 minutes driving around for a spot. Then it’s a longer walk in to her desk, and she’s late. Her time is registered when she signs in the timecard system on her desktop.
      She’s not allowed to clock in more than 6 minutes early (1/10 of an hour). One time she got there ~10 minutes early and started working, but she got sidetracked and didn’t get to her timecard until ~10 min after, so she got reprimanded for being late.
      And her micromanaging manager gets upset if she leaves her desk in the first hour she’s at work. So she gets reprimanded for taking her lunch to the breakroom to put in the ‘fridge or use the bathroom if she needs to in her first hour.
      She’s only been there 6 months and her review was good, but she’s jobhunting again for a WFH position because of her boss.

    12. Addison DeWitt*

      Yes, leave and let them know it was what they choose to prioritize convinced you that this place wasn’t good.

      BUT FIRST…

      Arrive 40 minutes early one day, and as soon as the PITA who complains, look at your watch dramatically and sigh loudly, then say, “Gonna have to talk to [boss] about this…”

    13. b-reezy*

      THIS. I worked in a job like this and it was a nightmare. We were salaried and often offsite, but they still actively and passively tracked our access cards, something I found out one day when I realized I’d forgotten mine (not an issue because I just walked in with someone else) and got a call from my boss about 10 minutes later, to “make sure” was there that day and wanting to know why “no one knew where [I] was.” Nevermind that she constantly worked from home or spent hours on site with a specific client having personal conversations and not actually working, but THAT wasn’t an issue. I eventually found out that the office manager ran a daily report showing what time everyone’s card pinged the sensor and it was passed around to all of the management. I didn’t get paid enough to deal with that, or the MANY other issues that came up in the 8 months I worked there.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, I’d nope out of there. I’m a salaried professional. Some days I work long hours or odd hours (nights and weekends). It balances out.

        If my manager was reading a report of badge ping times (or logon times) and commenting about it, I would be looking for a new job. My laptop takes up to 5 minutes to boot up after it’s been patched, and sometimes has to reboot immediately. The only time anyone ever gets cranky about time is if they are supposed to be in a meeting but they are AFK.

      2. zuzu*

        I had a job once where the office manager was the senior partner’s wife. She did not really know what she was doing, and thankfully only came into the office once a week or so. I was a professional, but a contractor, and she treated me as if I were punching a clock. I had a long commute that could go awry any number of ways, and as a result was often a few minutes late. My work was not time-sensitive, and if I wasn’t working, I wasn’t getting paid, so it wasn’t like I was “stealing” time from the firm or anything. It got to the point where I would call the receptionist as soon as I got out of the subway (this was before they wired it for cell reception) and she would go open my office and stick a pair of scissors in the side door so I could slip in without having to walk past Julie. Julie never caught on.

        She also never figured out pre-tax deductions, but that’s another story.

    14. Mockingjay*

      I haven’t read the entire thread, but there’s a middle ground here.

      I work for an excellent company (thank you again, AAM for helping me leave ExToxicJob and finding this one). It puts its people first, manages growth in strategic business areas so we’re staffed and trained appropriately for new work, provides multiple promotion paths, etc.

      And my company also highly values butt-in-seat time, whether in the office or remote (Teams). It’s across the board. Does it irritate me occasionally? Sure. But not nearly enough to abandon a job I mostly enjoy.

      So the question for OP1: considering all the things you like about this job, is timeliness a deal-breaker for you? Because it is a deal-breaker for your management. They’ve made it clear they like your work, but appearances matter, especially for someone who is new.

      1. LW1*

        Timeliness isn’t a dealbreaker – whatever, I can leave another 10-15 minutes early – but what this incident reflects about the company culture might be. Saying there’s nothing wrong with my work or my performance in any other way, but that my occasionally being *one* minute late is a “morale issue” and other co-workers are complaining to management about it? I don’t know if I want to work somewhere like that!

        1. Paulina*

          It does suggest something problematic about how your boss deals with complaints: not reasonably, but just pressuring you in the hopes that he can get you to fall into line with what the complainer wants so that they stop complaining to him. And if your boss can’t handle this, what are the chances that they will handle more complex issues well?

        2. Polly Hedron*

          Your boss does sound problematic. So give yourself two chances to solve your problem:
          • leave the house at 6:45 every day (to see if your perfect punctuality will transform your boss)
          • look for a new job (by the time you get an offer, your boss will have shown if he is bad in other ways)

  2. Jennifer*

    There are a lot of good ways to estimate weights by eyeballing. For example, a piece of meat the size of a deck of cards is about 3 ounces or 84 g. Google around for “estimating portion size” or similar. It will be useful to know for other situations where it’s not easy to use a scale!

    1. Snacky*

      While this is well meant and possibly helpful advice in this scenario, I think it’s also important to note that it’s something directly contrary to an important tenant of managing overeating patterns. Weighing food is about learning and coming to grips with how much you’re really eating. Chronic overeaters (myself being one) have to embrace that we cannot ‘eyeball’ our food.

    2. FG*

      Anybody who is in OA knows about these visual devices. Measuring/ weighing food is done in OA for specific reasons and not just “dieting.”

  3. Artemesia*

    Weighing food at a business lunch will come off as inappropriate and poor judgment. Think about a meal you can order from the menu of that place that you can be confident of your estimates about without having to make a spectacle of yourself.

      1. DG*

        I’m many years into ED recovery (ie, it’s not something I think about much these days, I can generally handle diet talk in my presence, etc.) and I would still likely find this triggering.

      2. Usagi*

        That’s what I was wondering, weighing food this closely is more frequently encountered as an eating disorder behavior, even if in this case it’s not and is involved in solving another problem. Not only could this be offputting for people to see, a lot of people would be either triggered or would get really concerned about OP’s wellbeing.

      3. Elsewise*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking! I know of several horrible restrictive “diet” programs that require participants to weigh their food, usually in service of eating well below what their body needs to get by. If I saw a coworker weighing their food at a business lunch, I’d be a) extremely concerned about their well-being and b) staring at my plate the entire time wondering how it measured up, which is not healthy for me in my own recovery!

        1. Modesty Poncho*

          I said the same thing somewhere below, but I was eating my breakfast while reading this earlier and it was hard to eat even thinking about being on the other side of the table in this scenario. It would big-time trip my issues, which did once include binge eating disorder. It’s not like I don’t get but it’s just so hard.

      4. I have RBF*

        This. I would have to leave.

        My wife has to weigh her food because she’s managing her gall bladder so she doesn’t have to have surgery. I can’t be in the room, because it sets off all kinds of bad stuff in my head.

        I am the product of dozens of failed diets, plans, blah, blah over the last 50 years. I’m 61.

        Please do not involve others in the performance of your diet.

        1. DisgruntledPelican*

          Wow, this really rubs me the wrong way. Triggers are personal and they are for you to manage, and they do not outweigh OPs own health/medical needs.

    1. Noodles*

      or call the restaurant in advance to ask them the weights of what you plan to order so it will already be hashed out. every restaurant I’ve worked in has predetermined weights for every portion that are used during prep. now it may not always be exact, but it would be closer than eyeballing it and would avoid the need for a scale.

      1. Skytext*

        Or if it’s a nearby restaurant, is it possible to go there ahead of time for lunch or dinner, order the same thing you will be having on the day, and preweigh everything?

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Love the idea of pre-weighing.

          I was going to suggest eating a measured meal ahead of time, so LW is not hungry during the meal and can order something very small and pick at it. As a bonus, this also allows LW to focus on the conversation.

          But I think pre-weighing is an even better idea! LW can decide what to eat, order it to go, and measure it at home.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            Caveat: Often, to-go portions are different/larger than in-restaurant portions.

            1. Nameo*

              interesting, that’s not the case at any restaurant I’ve worked at! This fact may be location-dependent (I’m in the US)

              1. Quill*

                I think it may be dependent on the size of the take out containers vs. the size of how they’re served for dine-in. You don’t want (in most restaurants that aren’t going to be featured on fancy dining shows) a huge amount of blank space.

        2. Random Bystander*

          That was the thought that came to my mind. Still meets the need of weighing things, even if for that one particular meal (the business lunch) it isn’t weighed at the time.

        3. That wasn't me. . .*

          Great idea! I have several of my favorite restaurant meals recorded and ready to go in the “Mt Fitness Pal” app (free version). I’ve gotten the for take-out, and did the weighing at home, the stored the info for future meals.

    2. JSPA*

      If weighing is close to sacrosanct (and we are to take OP’s judgement that for them, it is) if financially possible, would it be adequate (if the place isn’t too spendy) to go there earlier in the week, order a standard menu item that’s invarient in size (like a burger), weigh that, and order same again, at the dinner? You could even take a picture of both (a bit juvenile-seeming, but not as notable as a scale) to confirm that burger 1 = burger 2.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Doesn’t OA have a strategy for situations such as these where it isn’t possible/appropriate to use scales? OP can’t be the only person who has faced this problem.

        1. MyStars*

          One of the tenets of 12 step is to consult with others and not rely only on your own thinking, so good job! Another is to discuss with one’s sponsor and group — does sponsor know somebody in the program who can talk about a professional workaround? You may also consider letting your manager know ahead of time that the measuring of food is a medically-necessary circumstance and you are asking for reasonable accommodation under ADA. (Recovery from addictions is covered under ADA.)

          1. RagingADHD*

            I’d bet my bottom dollar that the last thing OP wants to do in whatever short time they have leading up to the lunch is go through getting diagnosed with a documented disability for ADA purposes.

            And if they are comfortable telling the boss’ boss that they need to do it for a medical condition, they could just say that instead of making it an ADA thing. The employer is not denying them access to a food scale. It’s just a very odd thing to do in public, and given the number of people who participate in OA, if it were absolutely necessary to do it this way, it would be more commonplace.

          2. Lexie*

            An ADA accommodation isn’t going to stop the other people at the table from taking notice and drawing conclusions. I think talking to other members of the group to see if they have any solutions that worked for them is a great idea.

    3. The Person from the Resume*

      Unfortunately I believe that if you pulled out the scale and weighed your food at a business lunch, most people will find it odd enough that it will stick in their memory. You may become the person who weighs their food. Your husband is absolutely right that it’s unusual enough to be off-putting and I agree with Alison that it could make them question for profesional judgement (that this is very unusual to do at a business lunch).

      You certainly should not do it with people you haven’t met before because that will leave a first impression you do not want to leave. Grand boss is a bit trickier beause presumably they know you and they know your work, so it may just be an odd quirk, but if you’re discussing with your husband and asking an advice columnist I’m betting you and your grandboss don’t interact much in a personal way.

    4. Fiction Reader*

      My initial reaction was similar to yours. I asked my husband, who has been to literally thousands of business lunches and dinners, and his opinion was the opposite! He says that if someone says it is for medical reasons, most people won’t care. He also compared it to accommodating people’s dietary needs for religious reasons – very common and completely understandable. He works in finance.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Interesting – I would agree with not stating the exact nature of the reason (nobody needs the details, and it’s not their business).

        I think it would be better to call the restaurant in advance and ask them for the portion size, and do some math calculations at home, but if needed, saying you have to weigh your food for medical reasons would work.

        Actually, perhaps talking to the OP’s manager first would be a good idea. Not that the manager should have a say, but if the manager isn’t going to be supportive, I would look for other alternatives. Vs if they are supportive, then I would feel more comfortable.

      2. Artemesia*

        And has anyone ever weighed their meal at one of those thousands of business lunches?

      3. WillowSunstar*

        I myself would just order a non-starchy vegetable-only salad and if possible, no dressing or put the dressing on the side. But I also try to avoid eating with other people in a work situation because I would get judgy-Mcjudgersony-judged, no matter what I eat.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          The problem is that the LW doesn’t need to “eat healthy” or “eat low calorie.” The need to weigh their food as part of their treatment plan for some sort of food related illness. Overeater’s Anonymous is not diet program but actually a program for compulsive overeaters.

          A food addiction can be tougher than an alcohol or drug addiction because going cold turkey and not eating is not an option. They must regulate their intake and clearly the LW does this through weighing food.

        2. constant_craving*

          Unless things have changed in the past several years, this would still not fit with OA. I lived with someone in OA and based on what she explained and did, even lettuce needs to be carefully weighed. OA isn’t just about eating healthily- it has extremely rigid and stringent practices to follow.

          I think OP should speak to their sponsor- that will likely be their best way of coming to a decision about how to handle this if they want to stick to OA practices.

          1. MyStars*

            It depends on the specific meetings and sponsor-line’s norms. Personally, I don’t weigh but do measure (and the standard restaurant soup cup is 8 Oz volume) but if nutritionist is involved, then it’s a medical need. Period.

            1. MyStars*

              Also, my answer to this question in the rooms would be very different for somebody in their first 90 days. I’ve been around for more than a decade. Exact measure issues bother me less for reasons.

    5. Recently Retired*

      Skip lunches at my previous company were on-site in a conference room with food ordered by the admin of the manager. You might try talking with the admin and see if they can let you arrive early to weigh your meal and either return the scale to your office or stash it at their desk until after the meal.

    6. T.N.H.*

      Someone weighed their food next to me at a lunch recently. Of course, I want everyone to do what they need to for their own health but it was very distracting and not at all subtle (she didn’t pick a great time for it though so that’s part of it I’m sure). I agree you shouldn’t do this at a skip lunch. As Alison is always reminding us, is this what you want to be known for? I guarantee your grandboss will remember you as the person who weighed her food over anything else you talk about.

    7. Engineer Woman*

      I’m inclined to agree that you ought to not weigh your food for this skip-level boss luncheon. I like others’ suggestion for ordering the same meal before or after (if possible) to gauge what the weights would be. You don’t want your skip-level boss to potentially fixate on your eating, even though they shouldn’t.

    8. HQetc*

      I don’t disagree about the way it could be perceived (even if I wish that weren’t the case). That said, I don’t think it is appropriate to call people doing things for their health “making a spectacle” of themselves.

    9. zuzu*

      How would it even work if you don’t know the tare weight of the plate? Do you have to weigh each item individually? Or do you park the entire plate on top of the scale and subtract the weight of the plate?

      1. MyStars*

        Can we assume the letter writer has a sensible process already for weighing their portions? They told us a nutritionist was involved. sheesh.

        1. Nina*

          I am also interested in this question because it does make a difference to how off-normal it might be to do at a business lunch. If you can park the whole plate on a flattish set of scales, it’s possible to do that discreetly, possibly even near-invisibly at a table with anything in the center. If you have to remove each item from the plate and weigh it, or ask for an empty plate to tare with, &c, it’s considerably more visible and more off-normal, while still sensible and nutritionist-approved.

  4. Little Sushi Roll*

    Re: 4. at my org, we had a new staffer start who had an interesting bio (Olympic coach was listed). Well, when we googled them, their achievements were listed…and how they coached their paraplegic brother, with multiple details shared of how that accident had occurred. Our “oh cool!” quickly went to “oh. woah”, and we decided to let New Staffer bring it up (if at all), not us. I would hope your future employers/interviews/colleagues can also be tactful?

    LW 4, you sound like a gem of a human being for rallying for your family.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Given the state of healthcare coverage in the US (where I assume the OP is), I don’t think anyone is going to criticize the OP for their efforts to support their relative through a serious (and no doubt expensive) illness.

    2. ferrina*

      I agree that this is far more likely to reflect well on the LW! A decent team wouldn’t bring it up (because they understand that it’s personal and possibly triggering), and they would be impressed at how much logistics you managed on behalf of your family member. LW sounds like an incredible person who handled an impossible situation with grace, supportiveness and incredible presence of mind.

    3. Clementine*

      I frequently Google candidates before we hire them. Things that I don’t care about: If you partied in college, if something comes up about an accident you were involved in, any fanfiction you’ve written, very intense hobbies, the fact that you have an entire blog dedicated to desserts that you’ve eaten.

      Things I do care about: That you have previously spouted openly racist, sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, xenophobic or abelist statements. That you have openly harassed or encouraged the harassment of others online. That you have threatened physical violence online.

      I don’t know if this is reassuring at all, but a couple Go Fund Me’s for anything reasonable would land in the neutral-positive territory for me and I would scroll right by and say ‘Aw, that’s nice.’

      1. yirna*

        good god, i hope people’s fanfiction isn’t linked to their real names. I’d question their judgment just from a ‘knows how to use the internet’ sense.

        1. Quill*

          I would absolutely be skin crawling about said person’s internet safety if I came across it searching manually, but some web-scraping tools will pull up every account you made with a specific email address.

          1. TrixM*

            Which is why, as a former email admin and writer of fairly niche fanfiction, I recommend that everyone have an email address they use solely for professional (and perhaps bill-paying) purposes.

            Of course, depending on when you got hooked up with email, that ship may have sailed to some degree, but I still think it helps to create a fresh “professional” one at any time and update your employer’s records, even if you aren’t planning to move on in the short term. It might be a slight hassle to update professional contacts if you’re self-employed, but I’d seriously wonder about anyone in that situation using a personal email anyway. Once you have a professional-only email, proceed accordingly with that in future – it keeps things tidy.

            And do not, for the love of god, use your job-issued email for ANYTHING personal – not even paying the bills. What if you have to leave that job at short notice?

            One place I worked years ago, a guy signed up to “AdultFriendFinder” and posted fetching pix of himself in his highly recognisable uniform, using what he thought was his work email. He had managed to misspell his own name and a confirmation email with his account password wound up in the “postmaster” mailbox (email admins still checked these things at the time and allowed mis-addressed mail in). So I kindly logged into his profile, saw that he had also provided his personal email in his profile, and went ahead and changed his AFF account to that accordingly. I would never do that now, but at the time, it seemed better than dealing with a tech-challenged shift-worker in a notoriously aggressive job role.

            Long story short, don’t mix work and pleasure email addresses!

        2. Anonymouse*

          I work at a religious university, and we had to cut an admin candidate after Googling her name and finding her large collection of self-published play-by-play romance novels and sorta-NSFW bio. It wasn’t that she wrote them, but that they were SO EASY to find. If the oldest, least tech-savvy trustee could find her oeuvre, there was no way to justify the hiring to the dean & provost. It shouldn’t be that way, but some people still have a long way to go.

    4. The Shenanigans*

      +1000 to saying that the LW is a wonderful human. That’s really going to be the overwhelming reaction to such generosity. And if someone is rude enough to bring it up, the LW can always say “Oh, well, that was a painful time, and the GFM made it bearable. Now, where’s the Rockland memo?”

      However, if the LW would like to remove it from Google, they probably can. There are companies that do this for people. You can also contact Google using these instructions:


      1. Joanna*

        “Now, where’s the Rockland memo?”

        Maybe it’s time to write their book now???

  5. Artemesia*

    I know two people who tried to take long leaves of absence with the promise that ‘if there is a an opening when you return we will rehired you.’ In both cases, there was no job and no real willingness to explore options when the person returned.

    That doesn’t mean you should not travel for a year; it does mean you should assume that means your job is gone and you need to think through a strategy for finding a new one when you return. Life is short; if you are in a career which is in high demand, you may well take the risk. But a risk it is.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Agreed. I’ve only seen this happen for medical or educational reasons. Either the organization benefited from the employee returning with more education, or the organization was legally obligated to allow the employee to return (after mat leave or similar).

      Otherwise, it’s unusual for an employee to leave for longer than a few weeks for a reason that doesn’t benefit the business and expect their job to still be there. In these circumstances, I would expect to resign and find a new job upon my return.

      1. doreen*

        I’ve seen it happen for other reasons, but it was always jobs that either constantly hired and/or did all of their hiring at a certain time of year. There are some jobs where it’s not really considered a leave so much as quitting and being rehired but also others where it really is a leave and there’s a guarantee you can return – but the ones with the guarantee were either jobs that always had a vacant position or something like teachers in a school system, where new teachers are hired to start every September and one returning from a leave of absence just means one less new hire.

    2. bleakho*

      Anecdotally, my friend left his job to go abroad for a year and ended up coming back a few months earlier than planned. He got a similar job in the same department at the same organisation (relatively large organisation, relatively in-demand sector) with very little trouble.

      1. DawnShadow*

        Plus one on this. My sister and her husband went on a trip around the world that lasted a year. They had saved for it for ten years. Her job was actually held for her (teacher; sabbatical) but he had to quit. He had the same experience your friend did, and got a new job making more money than at his old one. I think it’s not a bad idea to shake it up anyway these days. There are so many stories on here about people getting a 3% raise sticking it out compared to a 30% raise when looking elsewhere.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          True, but there is another issue to changing companies: you go back to entry level vacation allotment. LW says she’s at the maximum at her current company – if she changes companies (whether right away or after a year off)… she’d be back to 2, maybe 3 weeks. This system of tying vacation allotment to years of service at a single company is arcane and super frustrating.

          1. DD*

            It’s not uncommon to negotiate vacation time when changing jobs into a non- entry level position. Almost everyone I know changing jobs in mid/later career has retained their previous vacation time through negotiation.

          2. doreen*

            I think that tying vacation allotment to years of service at a particular job is common everywhere – I know there are countries that mandate a certain minimum amount of vacation, and ones where you are guaranteed different amounts based on your tenure with a particular employer ( 2 weeks after the first year, 3 weeks after five years, etc) but I’ve never heard of one where people get different amounts based on their total years in the workforce, whether they had a single employer in 10 years or five employers.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              Nah, it’s not common everywhere. A lot of countries have the same vacation allotment for everyone, regardless of years of service (and it’s non-negotiable on an individual basis). In Switzerland it even seems to be common to tie vacation to *age* (which would probably be illegal in the US, fwiw).

              Making people start over with the least amount of vacation seems like a way to make in-demand experienced people never want to switch to come work for you, so I’d expect it to be really common to offer “same as last job” in negotiations.

            2. Anon in Canada*

              Every European country guarantees 4 weeks of vacation regardless of tenure (France and Austria guarantee 5). Same thing in Australia and New Zealand. Tying it strictly to tenure with a single company is a US and Canadian construct.

              And no, I’ve never heard of a large company where there was any leeway to negotiate vacation. There’s one policy applying to possibly tens of thousands of employees, no exception. Many do grant an extra week at the start to those who come into the company in a high level role, but it’s still not negotiable.

              As far as unpaid time off goes, it totally varies by company. I used to work for a company where one could take up to 4 unpaid weeks a year and the position would be held; if one wanted a longer unpaid leave, the position would not be held but they’d make an effort to find you one when you wanted to come back. One manager was allowed to take 3 months off and her position was held, but she was in a very high level position and the reason for the time off was to visit her family (she was an immigrant).

              1. Hlao-roo*

                I’ve never heard of a large company where there was any leeway to negotiate vacation.

                Hello, someone who negotiated vacation at a large company checking in. For context, I work for a company with 10,000+ employees world-wide and several thousand employees in the US (where I live and work). I negotiated one extra week of vacation in a entry-/mid-level role.

                Not every company will negotiate on vacation of course, so be aware that a job search will take longer if you are planning on negotiating for vacation, but it is possible.

              2. doreen*

                I may not have been clear – I’m sure that plenty of countries have a minimum vacation allotment that applies to everyone. But are you saying that most European countries do not allow an employer to give seven weeks of vacation to an employer who has been there ten years while only four to an employees who has been there two years ? Or that it’s allowed but employers simply don’t do it?

                1. Anon in Canada*

                  I can’t speak for every European country and every company in those countries, but generally speaking this practice is not an expected norm like it is in Canada and the US. I never meant that it was banned, just not the norm.

                  And obviously, even if a company were to operate like this, dropping to 4 or 5 weeks is a lot easier to cope with that dropping to 2 weeks like what is the norm in Canada and the US.

            3. Cranky-saurus Rex*

              While I know the plural of anecdote isn’t data, I did have this happen to me. I started at a new company with about 8 years in the workforce (all at a single other company). NewJob matched the 2 weeks vacation I’d gotten at the old job, rather than the 2 DAYS per year that I would’ve gotten otherwise in my first year. IIRC, they didn’t go up to a week of vacation until you’d been there for 4 or 5 years, and yes, sick and vacation were combined into PTO.

              1. Cacofonix*

                Oh my, Cranky… 2 *days*? A miserly 2 days a year? It’s minimum 2 weeks in Canada by law I believe and I always thought that was miserly. Maybe because I cherish travel, but still. Thank goodness you negotiated and I agree, negotiation for vacation can be done. Maybe it’s not common because people don’t do it. They focus on pay. The “policy across the board” is a red herring.

                I worked for an American company once and I negotiated hard and got 3 weeks but they warned me I may not get it all at once. I turned down the offer on this and they relented. I had an in demand skill set so was in a good position. They were a good company.

                1. Anon in Canada*

                  My previous job was for a company of 80,000 people. Standard vacation allotment was 3 weeks; it went up to 4 after 9 years and 5 after 18 years. Levels 9 and 10 (senior management) got 4 weeks to start, still had to wait 18 years to get a 5th.

                  There was no transferring years of service at other companies or matching what someone got at their previous job. The policy was set in stone for everyone, no exceptions.

                  They did, however, allow unpaid time off and I saw 2 colleagues, both from India, take 6 weeks (3 paid, 3 unpaid) to visit their families, without any pushback.

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            I have always made sure my PTO in my next job matched what I had at my previous job at a minimum, I think most reasonable workplaces would expect to negotiate so that high-level employees are not coming in at the bare minimum of PTO. Personally for me that would be a deal-breaker.

      2. TootsNYC*

        often in this situations, large companies will let you link your times of service for the purposes of vacation accrual or 401(k) vesting.

    3. MK*

      I see no disconnect between “if there is a an opening when you return we will rehire you” and “no job and no real willingness to explore options when the person returned”; “if there is an opening” doesn’t mean “we will explore options, if there isn’t an opening”, in fact it means the opposite.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This. “If there is an opening” is in no way a promise that there will be–it’s literally just . . . if. They’ve had to have someone else covering that work for a year, so it doesn’t seem all that realistic to expect them to just drop you into something like your old role.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I agree. If OP already has a lot of leave and isn’t ready to quit, maybe this next few years can be practice, with nice long trips – at least two-three weeks, which would be a long trip where I work – to try out travelling in the camper and start thinking about either switching jobs with time off in between, or even early retirement. There *are* jobs that offer sabbaticals, but you generally know you’re in them.

    5. EngineerMom*

      It’s definitely one way in which academia is drastically different than industry.

      My mom took 2 years off on sabbatical from her job as a college professor starting my senior year in high school. They happily rehired her when the two years ended, and had just covered her teaching responsibilities with adjunct positions until then.

      No way I could do that as an engineer. I ended up quitting instead.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        An academic “sabbatical” works differently than in non-academic workplaces, though – it’s typically not something that requires being re-hired. And taking a year or two of sabbatical is also quite common (two years less so, but still), so universities already have practices (such as hiring adjuncts to provide coverage) in place.

        1. Paulina*

          And for many educational institutions, it’s not time off; it’s time away from teaching duties to enable professional development.

    6. Cacofonix*

      Oh my goodness, take the year, take the year. I agree, life is short. You are clearly good at what you do; you’ll be fine. I agree that it would be odd for a company to hold your job unless they have a sabbatical program or you had a rare and high demand skill set in your profession. You will remember your year vividly, this jobby bump hardly a whit. So much can change, going back to exactly your old life might seem limiting and you might welcome the anticipation of something different.

  6. Observer*

    #2 – Weighing food.

    Don’t do it. Figure something out. Sure, no one SHOULD care. And in theory, reasonable people won’t *care* per se, but it will almost certainly make a very poor impression and raise a lot of questions in people’s minds.

    If you know where you are going, call in advance and ask some questions so you can plan your meal in advance.

    1. High Score!*

      +100 to this. No one should care BUT I’ve witnessed a lot that no one should’ve cared about that unfairly hurt people. Little eye rolls at things that didn’t matter and then the more “polished” person gets the prime assignments, promotions, whatever.

      1. Orange You Glad*

        Yea even if no one says anything, some people will always think of OP as “that person that weighed all their food”
        Business meals aren’t really about the food.

        OP only mentions having lunch with their boss’s boss. If it’s just the two of them, they might be ok explaining the need to weigh food. If it’s a larger group that includes the boss’s boss (like clients or other company leaders) then I would err on the side of not drawing attention to their food like this.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Side eye from my (former) boss at “being such a picky eater”.

        Well, he selected a seafood restaurant for a business lunch. I’m very allergic to shellfish. Yes, I was “picky”, for reasons that should be “duh”. I stuck with water after a quiet consultation with the waiter.

    2. Hannah*

      They could also call ahead and see if they could prepackage a meal based on weights. I’ve been at events where food was provided and they do something similar for people with dietary restrictions.

      1. Susan*

        I actually used to go to a deli on a regular basis. The amount of meat they’d pile on a sandwich was wrecking my eating plan. So one day I went in past the lunch rush and they measured out exactly how many pieces of ham could be added to keep under my count. Then I would just order say, a ham sandwich with 3 pieces of ham only and then lots of veggies. They were happy to do that for me! I just needed to be proactive enough to ask.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      So many things people notice about other people eating, things like:

      Salting food before tasting it.
      Switching fork hands after cutting a piece of meat.
      Cutting all the meat instead of one piece at a time.
      Chewing a specific number of times.
      Not letting foods touch.
      Mixing the vegetables into the mashed potatoes.

      People are weird about people they deem weird about food.

    4. BethDH*

      Yeah, there is a difference between “caring” and “being distracted.” I wouldn’t care, but it would distract me from the point of the lunch meeting, which is almost certainly not the food.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Even if people weren’t judgmental about it, I’m sure the conversation would turn to the OP’s actions: oh, what is that, what are you doing, how does that work, oh I should try that, oh my cousin did that and it worked great for her, and now everyone is discussing OP’s food and OP’s scale and OP’s foods instead of work stuff or bonding with each other and OP has essentially taken over the business lunch, and that will be all that people remember about it instead of whatever they’re supposed to have been discussing.

    5. MB*

      It will take all of a minute to weight the food, scales are small and digital, and this is a medical issue. Body builder, athlete, weight watchers, metabolic disorders, etc weigh their food. Many people get takeaway containers at the beginning of the meal for portion control anyway. It’s not the drawn out, hugely involved process people are picturing. In this case, it’s part of recovery and no one should jeapordize that. A breezy “it’s what works for me” is all that is needed as a response if anyone inquires.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, a lot of people weight their food. Some need to do it every single time and others don’t. But ultimately none of the really matters at this point. Because the problem is not that this is a genuine problem that could harm someone or take up a huge amount of time. It’s a (potential) problem in that it’s highly likely to affect how people look at the OP. It SHOULD NOT be that way, but the advice here is about what is likely to happen, not what should happen.

        Their husband unfortunately correct that it’s likely to cause people to be put off by it, whether they should or not.

        1. UKDancer*

          This so much. There’s often a strong difference between what ought to happen and what actually does happen. People shouldn’t judge the OP negatively for weighing their food, but it’s important to flag that they might do.

          One of the other suggestions (checking in advance for the weight with the restaurant) would probably stand out less.

    6. Observer*

      If you know where you are going, call in advance and ask some questions so you can plan your meal in advance.

      I want to add that I realize that this may sound a bit flippant or dismissive. What I really should have said is “talk to your sponsor or someone at OA about your options.”

      It’s also true that if you really don’t have any good options, ordering something that is easier to weight and then explaining in a matter of fact and bland way is probably going to be your best bet.

  7. Artemesia*

    I have to wonder about a manager who takes a leave and is apparently okay with his second firing people immediately. If that isn’t a giant red flag for the boss then you may want to rethink how wonderful a manager he is.

    1. Observer*

      I was thinking much the same thing.

      Also, why is the boss complaining to YOU about the missed meetings?

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Honestly the second the boss complained to me about that missed meeting, I’d have been right there agreeing that those guys shouldn’t have skipped it, should have rescheduled, what-have-you, because this meeting is important and we need to have it. If your boss then isn’t making sure they attend this meeting, you have other issues (which I think you do have anyway, as said above, who is OK with being out on a one month leave and immediately having your cover firing people?). OP, you probably want to reassess your view of this place, as I feel like I hear the distant humming of an approaching swarm of bees.

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          The boss is on paternity leave, he shouldn’t be making sure people attend meetings or actively engaged in work.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            The boss is the owner. It seems like that should change the legal aspects? (For me, it certainly changes the people-should-get-their-break aspects.)

    2. Minh*

      Yes, that jumped out at me as well. Not just one, but two people fired within a week! I can’t believe a second-in-command would have that kind of authority for someone on vacation.

        1. FashionablyEvil*

          But it was only a month! Unless this is a “Fergus punched a client” or “Jane started shouting racial slurs at a colleague” situation where an immediate termination is warranted, they should certainly be waiting for the boss to get back. (Even for egregious situations, I would argue the boss should still be notified and should approve.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yes, this! Those kinds of things definitely would fall under the category of “things that you should interrupt the boss’ leave to tell him about.” And I can’t believe that the manager was given ANY authority about personnel decisions during the four weeks that the boss was out. That’s just bananas. I hope the two managers get booted out when boss comes back.

            1. Paulina*

              Especially since the boss is the owner. Either these two managers are running wild in the owner’s absence, misusing the power they were given, or they were given the go-ahead to clean house because the owner didn’t want to deal with it. Either is bad.

    3. Mister_L*

      LW 5 should first find out, WHY two seemingly unqualified people are the directors second in command. If they are there because they are related to the owner it’s definitely time to start looking for a new job, as we have learned from previous letters.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Are we told that they’re unqualified? The letter says ‘bumbling,’ but qualified people can be bumbling.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          I mean, yeah, immediately after the bumbling descriptor, we get a whole sentence further explaining why each is incompetent. Take the letter writer at their word that these two suck.

          1. ecnaseener*

            I don’t doubt that they suck in general, I’m just curious about the assertion that they’re not even qualified for the jobs they’re in and must be nepotism hires. That seems like a stretch and not at all supported by the letter.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Incompetent and unqualified are not the same thing though. “Qualified” imo at least is more about like how well your resume matches up to the job. If you have relevant experience. Competence is how *good* you are at the job.

            I think it’s pretty common for people who are not involved in much of the day-to-day work to hire people that are “qualified” based on their resumes and past experience, but then they have no idea how actually competent those people end up being.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              I think it’s a semantic thing here: to me “qualified to do the job” doesn’t have to solely refer to their training, experience, and can also encompass “they have the characteristics, habits, willingness to behave in the way the job requires” So someone who is incompetent at a job due to judgement, behavior, temperament would in my mind not be qualified, no matter what certifications, experience they have.

              And while maybe in some workplaces there are individual contributor roles where someone’s approach to the work or behavior doesn’t matter as long as they churn out x widgets/day, I have a hard time imaging one, much less two, managerial positions where that’s the case.

      2. ferrina*

        I was wondering about this too. Director is giving a lot of responsibility to people that seem just horrible (and horrible at their jobs). The firing people is a big red flag- I’d be demanding a full account of what on earth happened while I was gone. If Director is letting terrible employees run the place, that’s usually not a situation that gets better with time.

    4. Skytext*

      I know. It reminds me of those episodes of MASH where the colonel would leave the camp in the charge of Frank and he would go crazy with rules and regulations. Even though the colonel told him just to keep things running and maintain the status quo.

      1. English Rose*

        Oh thanks for the reminder, I’d forgotten about Frank! MASH was so great.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’m imagining the manager coming back from leave, asking what happened to Sue and Dave, then finding out they got fired months ago.

      2. LW5*

        I honestly can’t say whether he is or not, but I’m thinking he might have been given a very brief and questionable in terms of accuracy update from Goon 1.
        There’s been several times where G1 has instructed me (despite the fact that I don’t report to him) to leave Director out of my update emails etc., so I would say there’s some shady business going on that Director isn’t aware of.
        (I don’t leave him out, of course)

        1. misspiggy*

          And you work in a compliance role whose value Goon1 has challenged? In the nonprofit where I used to work, this scenario would have me contractually obliged to tell the Director about my concerns first thing on his return.

        2. Cat Tree*

          FYI, you can put Director in bcc instead of cc, and G1 won’t be able to see it.

          Normally I would advise that you avoid contacting someone on parental leave, but this place is on fire and Director will be coming back to a pile of ashes in three weeks.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            My only concern about this is if the Director brings up anything from the update e-mails when talking to the Goons, they’ll know the LW is going over their heads to the Director “in secret,” which is likely to piss them off. So it might be better to “forget” the instruction to leave the Director off and cite the force of habit if questioned.

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

      And yet the director is hearing about meetings that aren’t happening and “breaking the seal” of their leave to ask LW5 about it.

    6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      OP, talk to the boss.

      Things you know:
      The boss is competent.
      These guys are not competent.

      Things you don’t know:
      If the boss knows that they are incompetent.
      If the boss thinks these progressive issues with your project are your fault.

      Things you know:
      Acting leaders are ruining your project.

      Things you need to know:
      You don’t need to take the fall for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

    7. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      THIS. I suppose it’s possible that both employees did something so egregious that they needed to be fired right away, within the same week, but I have my doubts.

      In general, I’d be very concerned about what these two are telling the Director and do what I could to give my side. Including responding to that e-mail as Alison suggested. You could soften the message somewhat in e-mail by saying that the Goons haven’t been able to make any of the scheduled meetings. The level of directness I’d use would depend on the relationship between the Goons and the Director. Are they friends? Have these two been around basically since the beginning?

    8. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I’ve never worked anywhere where a fill-in manager was allowed to hire or fire. Presumably in an emergency situation such as an employee pulling a weapon on someone it would have happened, but short of that, it would have waited until the permanent manager returned.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        It wouldn’t be the case anywhere I’ve worked either. The most that might happen is someone being suspended for egregiously inappropriate behavior, but that would have been coordinated through HR, not just a unilateral fill-in person decision. Especially if the leave was a short as LW described.

        1. RVA Cat*

          The fact two people were fired at the same time and two fill-ins are missing the same meetings makes me wonder if some Duck Club shenanigans are a-quack.

    9. Van Wilder*

      Honestly, the very FIRST red flag is that the Director is promoting OP after three months. Not to take away from how wonderful they are, I’m sure they are. But that’s so unusual that either he didn’t hire them at the right level in the first place or he’s capricious about promotions. (The latter would also explain how the two boneheads got to be second-in-command.) Overall it paints a picture of someone who does not know how to run a business.

  8. SB*

    LW1 – This seems like unnecessary micromanaging from your boss & a coworker who thinks they are your boss. I used to manage nurses, so someone showing up late WAS a genuine issue as it meant that their partner for the shift was alone until they showed up, & if a patient required a two assist they had to wait until there were two nurses for the task. Even then, being late by anything less than 10 minutes was usually not a problem unless it was happening all the time (two or three days a week for example). I don’t have any advice, sorry, just the comment that it seems like an odd hill for your boss to die on when you seem to be a genuinely good worker.

    1. Allonge*

      I was thinking the same – one minute late is… circumstances need to be pretty special for it to matter.

      We have a quick check-in meeting each morning at 10 (yes, it’s necessary). If someone would regularly be late to that by 1-5 minutes, it would be an issue – but that’s because everyone is waiting for you and the meeting is meant to last for 10 minutes. If OP needs to open a door / pick up a phone at 8, then again, being late is an issue but work should really start at 7.50.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Calling at one minute past my start time to say I was running a bit late was cited at my probation review for the horrible job I lost several years ago. If I recall correctly, I’d overslept after taking my partner to hospital at 3am. I had no meetings before 10am and was not in a coverage role. Plenty of my colleagues were frequently much later. My manager just didn’t like me.

    2. ferrina*

      Most of my bosses* wouldn’t have even noticed if I was a minute late. As long as I was up and running at 5 minutes past (answering emails, etc), they didn’t care how I got there. They only cared that I was there when they wanted me there.

      *in non-coverage based jobs. In jobs where they needed to count staff numbers for Reasons, it would have only been an issue if it was regularly happening. Those jobs were also the ones that tended to be constantly hiring, so they wouldn’t have let a good staff member go unless they were at capacity with staff. Otherwise the turnover cost wasn’t worth it.

      1. TootsNYC*

        It’s SO MUCH work to keep track of latenesses. I wouldn’t even want to do it for anything other than repeated latenesses that impacted other people’s actual work.

  9. Angrytreespirit*

    LW2- Depending on where you’re going to be eating, it is worth looking at the menu and pre choosing your meal. If they offer a salad with chicken on top, etc. you know roughly what it’ll weigh.
    All that being said… please consider that this meal is only one meal, and having to weigh everything you eat can cause unhealthy issues with food over time.
    And I agree with Allison – this will look very odd and not reflect well on you in a work setting.

    1. Observer*

      All that being said… please consider that this meal is only one meal, and having to weigh everything you eat can cause unhealthy issues with food over time.

      The problem is that the OP *already* has unhealthy issues with food. That’s why they are in Over-eaters Anonymous.

      OP, does OA have a sponsorship model? Is there someone you can talk to about this? You can’t be the only person in OA who has had to deal with a dilemma like this.

        1. Summer Queen*

          The issue isn’t healthy foods vs unhealthy foods, the issue is overeating.

          Everything is unhealthy if you consume too much of it – yes, even water. Look up water poisoning.

          1. nnn*

            Understood but is there a reason why in a situation like this the solution wouldn’t just be to limit your order to a single entree? I understand about the temptation to consume too much but if you can be accountable to a food scale at the meal, could you also be accountable to a one-dish limit at a single meal? I apologize if this is insensitive, I’m truly trying to understand.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I am new to this idea, but honestly, it’s really obvious to me that a “do this every time you eat” mentality is a lot easier to maintain and stick to than a “do this most of the time you eat, but you can skip it if it’s important”. Maybe it’s because of how my brain works, but I can really see how “unless it’s important” becomes “see that wasn’t so bad” and that becomes permission to skip it a few times and pretty soon it’s no use at all. If you’re addressing a compulsive behaviour, it’s pretty common to *need* a 100% discipline for a sustained (sometimes indefinite) period.

            2. Maree*

              I’m not in OA so I might be wrong but I’d guess it is the fact that if you allow one reason (excuse?) you open the door for another and another. So, just one business lunch becomes lunch at work or when eating out with others or Thanksgiving or my birthday and suddenly you are back where you started. Addict brains are tricky, tricksters like this. I’m sorry if I’m misrepresenting but that’s my guess.

            3. Dragon_Dreamer*

              Some retaurants give people HUGE entrees. If the LW is limiting how much they eat that carefully, being overserved could be the trigger for a backslide.

            4. Ellen*

              as a member of oa, it a lot like asking an alcoholic why they can’t have just one drink or someone quitting smoking why they can’t have just one cigarette. I can say that “just one meal” can and has turned into a whole day and then I Shame spiral into binge/purge cycles lasting years. please trust the letter writer on thier experience.

              1. Michelle Smith*

                Yes, I agree. This is not a “normal” situation. If it wasn’t a problem to just order a salad and keep it moving, OP wouldn’t have had to write in to ask for advice in the first place.

              2. cantbebotheredtothinkofaname*

                I always wondered if having food issues is in someways worse than being an alcoholic or a smoker. An alcoholic or smoker can theoretically get to a point where they never have alcohol or cigarettes again. But because food is necessary for survival you can never be in a position to just stop eating.

                1. Tommy Girl*

                  It is. I’ve been struggling with an eating disorder for 20 years. It’s awful. One big reason is people don’t really respect it – they judge you for being fat, even though you spend like 50% of your waking hours thinking about how to better control what you eat. Along with that, people often don’t respect your diet and try to push food on you. I’m discovering now, that so many years of weird/bad/inconsistent food choices will do a number on your digestion – so now that I’m finally more at peace with food, I can’t eat most things without some awful digestion flair-up or allergy attack. But I have to eat every day!

                2. Sunny days are better*

                  I can tell you from my own personal experience that it is incredibly hard because everyone has to eat and so many social events in life revolve around food.

                3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

                  Yep. You can’t quit food cold turkey. You have to eat. And so much of life revolves around food if you stop and think about it.

                  Also, healthy is a relative term, but so many people don’t realize that. A lot of trigger foods my spouse has for their gastro-intestinal disease are “healthy” (certain raw veggies), but if they eat them, spouse will vomit everything up a few hours later. And even when the trigger foods aren’t widely seen as “healthy” (like greasy or overly breaded fried food), people will *still* try to push those onto him.

                  My own mother, who has policed my eating since I was 10 years old, will absolutely judge me for what I eat, but then when I try to turn something down, will say “oh, you can have it once”. It’s crazy-making.

                  So I definitely understand that OP2 is in a difficult space. But even with all of that, I can’t recommend bringing a scale and weighing the food. It’s just going to be too weird. OP2, your best bet is to either visit the restaurant beforehand, eat the same meal, and weigh it then, or look at the menu and pick something that’s pre-weighed (like a 6oz cut of steak or fish) and eat only that. If the point of weighing the food is to quantify the weight based on something external to your own judgment, that would be a way to do it, because restaurants aren’t going to overserve on something like the weight of a protein.

                  Or, potentially, you could call ahead of time and ask the restaurant if they have a scale in the back (they almost certainly do), and discreetly ask the waiter (like excuse yourself to the bathroom and go find them) if they could weigh your food in the back for you.

                4. Zephy*

                  Correct. And people get Weird about food, and it gets even weirder if there’s any kind of cultural mismatch.

              3. ADidgeridooForYou*

                Exactly. I think if LW were asking about turning down alcoholic beverages, people in this comment section would be a lot kinder to them. Growing up we (or at least I) learned a lot about eating disorders where you massively restrict yourself from eating, but there wasn’t much discussion around eating addiction or overeating. A lot of that is reflected in these comments who think they know better (why can’t you just limit yourself to one dish, you should just order something healthy, you’ll trigger someone else with another eating disorder [a valid concern, but still kind of brushing aside LW’s issues]).

            5. umami*

              I don’t know what weighing the food entails, but OP has a clear issue that they are overcoming with intervention. If one of their main tools is weighing their food (which I think would be especially important at a restaurant where salads can have higher calorie counts than entrees with protein and carbs), then I don’t think it should be dismissed as they are ordering multiple meals and should just order one. Have you seen calorie counts for some of those dishes that have healthy sounding names?! It’s very discouraging when you actually want a salad but you have to essentially remake the dish for it to not be drowning in unhealthy ingredients.

            6. ADidgeridooForYou*

              I think you just really don’t understand how addiction works. Addiction issues with, say, alcohol are much more publicized than issues with overeating, so I’ll compare it to that. If a former alcoholic were going to a bar with coworkers and they weren’t able to find a non-alcoholic drink, would you really tell them, “I understand the temptation to order 6 vodka tonics, but you really should be accountable enough to just order one”? I’m guessing not. It’s not exactly the same, and of course I don’t know LW’s personal relationship with food, but the principle is similar enough. If people were “accountable enough” (a kind of judgy phrase, btw) to stick to one entree or one drink or one round at the slot machines, they wouldn’t be in programs to help them.

          2. More Viola*

            OA has people with many kinds of disordered eating, despite its name. We don’t know that OP overeats.

        2. FailsALot*

          No reasonable person would say “it’s just one drink” to an alcoholic in recovery.
          I agree that the food scale isn’t a good idea here but being dismissive of a person’s struggle and recovery plan is unhelpful and thoughtless.

          1. Allonge*

            No, but alcohol is not a necessity in daily life and food is.

            There has to be an alternative for OP to have a meal without the scales (especially because the weight of the food is just part of an issue) – I like the idea to ask a sponsor or others in OA.

            1. Higgs Bison*

              You’re right that alcohol is not a necessity, which means it’s theoretically easier to avoid drinking triggers. Food is a necessity, which means that unlike pretty much every other common addiction, you can’t rely on abstinence, so other extreme options sometimes need to be considered if the goal is to break the overeating cycle (though it’s good to consult a doctor and/or psychologist to avoid dangerous overcorrections and to get to root causes).

            2. Observer*

              There has to be an alternative for OP to have a meal without the scales (especially because the weight of the food is just part of an issue) – I like the idea to ask a sponsor or others in OA.

              Agreed that there has to be a solution. But that does start with acknowledging the issue.

              This absolutely is more complicated than alcoholism in that a person can live without alcohol while they can’t live without food. But the problem is that the necessity can obscure the fact of ho w dangerous food can be for some people. That is what I think people are pushing back on.

            1. FailsALot*

              I understand the difference between food and alcohol. Not my point. I’m saying it’s thoughtless to be dismissive of recovery simply because you don’t understand the process.

              1. Usagi*

                I think people here are asking pretty reasonable questions about the process, though, rather than being fully dismissive of it. A system that falls apart if you can’t wear your food at a single meal is by its very nature never going to be sustainable for very long, so there obviously must be some kind of back up plan in place.

                People are pointing out the ways in which overeating isn’t fully analogous to alcoholism, even though in many ways, the 12 step programs may be comparable.

                1. Feral FatCat*

                  Some people are asking reasonable questions about the process, Jade was not. Regardless, though, LW didn’t even ask, “what should I do instead?” but “would this be weird?” In that context, speculating about what parts of the treatment plan they can adhere to or skip just because we have our own thoughts about food isn’t actually all that helpful. That’s a lot of what’s happening here, and it bums me out.

                  There’s a comment below that notes that the comments as a whole unfortunately show why it’s a tough question to begin with. As a commenter group I think we’ve gotten really good about defending folks whose food is being commented on when they’re in ED recovery, or have allergies or sensitivities, but we’re less good (and so is the world) about how to behave when a fat person (and I’m not assuming LW is fat, but I think a lot of the commenters are because of the assumptions made about OA) acts in a way we consider outside the norm. At no point did LW ask for diet advice, and yet that’s what a lot of the advice is. It’s … not great, and shows partly how the world makes this kind of struggle even harder. “Just order something healthy” is not actually relevant or even advice in good faith, which is what Jade’s comments have been.

                2. Willow Pillow*

                  They may be reasonable questions in general, but in this specific case they are likely counterproductive for LW. I have an invisible disability that is often misunderstood, and constantly dealing with questions like this is exhausting – it’s so easy to say something like “just walk more!” with zero understanding of my complex circumstances. LW asked about perceptions to weighing food, not alternatives to doing so.

        3. Justme, The OG*

          What makes you think she isn’t choosing healthy options for other meals, when she weighs them?

        4. Observer*

          It’s one meal. She can choose a healthy option.

          As others have noted, that you could say the same thing about “it’s just one cigarette”, “it’s just one drink” (something that happens all the time) or “it’s just one ~~choose your trigger~~”. Sometimes it’s just not that simple.

          An alcoholic can’t have “just one drink”. Someone with celiac can’t have “just one (so called) healthy meal with gluten”. Someone with severe nut allergy cannot have “just one healthy nut based snack.”

          Any advice that starts with the premise of “it’s just one meal” is off base.

        5. Lala*

          This is like telling an alcoholic that they can have a single drink. “Oh, just have the glass of champagne for the toast. Just have the one.” It simply doesn’t work this way. OE struggle because there is no abstaining, they need to moderate in a way that other addicts don’t need to.

          LW – I would do whatever you can to pre-plan and if nothing sounds like it’s going to work, then I would say weigh your food. This is your health you’re talking about and that matters more than anything else. Simply state that you need to weigh your food for a medical purpose. You can even stave off some of the thoughts about weirdness by acknowledging it. “I know this isn’t the norm, but I need to weigh my food for a medical purpose. Apologies that I have to do it at the table, but it’s something I need to do.” While some people may associate weighing food with diet culture, that’s not your battle to fight. There are plenty of things that require weighing of food beyond dieting – those who have had bariatric surgery, people who have various autoimmune and genetic conditions, those who have had gall bladder surgery etc. And yes, it may be triggering for some people who struggle with disordered eating, but again, that is something they must also be equipped to handle in their daily life. While they can put as many safeguards in their life to protect themselves from being triggered, there’s always the inevitability that something out there can’t be controlled. There are times that you simply can’t accommodate everyone.

        6. Nina*

          It’s an addiction treatment program, not a diet. It’s not about health as people who aren’t compulsive overeaters understand healthy eating, same as ‘well just have one glass of wine, duh’ isn’t about health as people who aren’t alcoholics understand healthy drinking.

          The comments would not be this mean and obtuse about someone having issues with a clash between work expectations and AA requirements.

      1. coffee*

        Yeah, I wasn’t familiar with OA but looking it up, I think a better way of thinking about it is OP asking “How do I manage my health condition at a business lunch”.

        Asking a sponsor or the wider group is great advice. Also perhaps you could ask your own boss about how your grandboss (boss’s boss) would take it? Some people will be fine, some people would blow this out of proportion. Your own boss may also be able to help smooth the way if they are prepared for it.

        If you do end up weighing your food, then I’d go with some kind of script like “Excuse me, my doctor has got me weighing all my food at the moment. Now, how about that subject change.” (Not my finest script… hopefully someone else can help? But I think you want to convey that it’s a medical thing. Or have your boss convey it as a medical thing ahead of time.)

        1. allathian*

          I suggest calling the restaurant ahead of time and asking what each portion weighs, and to consult with a sponsor.

          I’m afraid that bringing the scale to a restaurant is going to look weird and could potentially be a career-limiting move. It shouldn’t be like that, but…

          The safer option might be to just decline to eat in front of others unless you’ve brought a lunch that you’ve already weighed at home. I think it’s unfortunate that you didn’t simply decline the lunch invitation with your skip-level. I think it would be less off-putting to say that “Thanks for the invitation, but I’m currently on a very restricted diet and only eating food that I’ve cooked myself (perhaps a white lie, but IMO more acceptable than bringing a scale to a restaurant). Unfortunately this means that I can’t accept your invitation. I’d love to meet you somewhere that doesn’t involve food, if you’re open to that instead.”

          That said, since the invite has been issued and accepted, the LW may be out of luck here.

          1. Mf*

            This is the real solution, IMO: don’t do a skip-level over lunch.

            Maybe the LW could tell their grand boss that they can’t eat out due to medical reasons but would like to reschedule? Maybe a meeting at a coffee shop instead?

            1. Michelle Smith*

              Now that you mention it, I wonder if it would be helpful for OP (given that they’ve already accepted the invitation) to do a “liquid” lunch instead – eating their weighed meal in advance and sticking to acceptable liquids (water, tea, coffee, whatever it is they normally drink) at the lunch. It might be awkward, but I suppose that’s better than pulling out a scale at the restaurant table or risking a relapse. I’ve certainly been to work-mandated meals where there wasn’t anything that met my dietary restrictions and so I just had a glass of wine and smiled and ate when I got back to my desk. (My dietary restrictions were optional ones, mind you, so OP if not eating at the restaurant would be triggering for you, just ignore me!)

          2. Observer*

            unless you’ve brought a lunch that you’ve already weighed at home.

            Don’t do that unless you’ve cleared this with the restaurant and given your boss a heads up. Because in most cases, these places will not – and CANNOT allow outside food.

          3. lalo*

            I agree that avoiding lunch meetings seems like the most obvious solution, at least in this situation with a skip level boss. But if OP wants to do that it’s probably worth discussing with their sponsor. Eating disorders and addictions are prone to a reinforcing cycle of shame and isolation, so if LW’s approach shifts from “I think no one would care” to “this behavior is so off-putting I can never do it around coworkers” that could be unhealthy. Of course, they could limit this to avoiding lunch meetings with particularly senior colleagues and/or for first impressions. Those situations that could be seen (or felt by LW) as practical considerations rather than shame.

            -> I do want to note the difference between “off-putting” and “triggering for people with eating disorders”, since conflicting access needs can be a challenge.

      2. Funfetti*

        +1 – yes talk to you sponsor! You are not the first person to go through this. Or talk about it at a meeting – or heck even your HP. I understand the program is for adjusting relationship with food and overcoming your mental sickness, but it’s about being able to trust your new mental systems too. I’d also google other OA members to see if anyone has written any worthwhile blogs – I’ve used some myself as an Al-Anon member. You can do it!

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      having to weigh everything you eat can cause unhealthy issues with food over time.
      I’m afraid I disagree. A LOT of people weigh / measure / carefully evaluate their food regularly, including bodybuilders, diabetics, surgery patients, people in recovery from eating challenges, and, yes, dieters. People who don’t need to think too hard about their food don’t always notice it happening, but there are many, many people around who need to know how much they are eating.

      1. allathian*

        Plenty of diabetics don’t weigh their food and manage just fine with insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring. Granted, the diabetics I know who do that are all type 1 and not fat or overweight. But even the overweight diabetics I know tend to track GI and glucose rather than portion sizes. (I know a lot of diabetics because it’s so common here, in a population of about 5.5 million people we have about 400,000 people with a type 2 diagnosis and 50,000 people with a type 1 diagnosis. According to some estimates between 50,000 and 100,000 people have undiagnosed type 2, which in total means about 10 percent of the population. About 20 percent of pregnant parents also get diagnosed with gestational diabetes.)

        But while I agree with you that weighing your food isn’t unhealthy in and of itself, I doubt anyone would do it unless they were dealing with an eating disorder already. I’m including (wannabe) professional athletes, especially in esthetic sports like gymnastics, fitness, cheerleading, and skating in this. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to do those sports without ending up with some form of disordered eating.

        1. Be Gneiss*

          Only people with eating disorders weigh their food??? That’s a pretty narrow-minded judgement.

        2. TechWorker*

          I track and weigh everything I eat at home. I estimate restaurant and takeaway food though. I promise you I don’t have an eating disorder! (I had a lot of friends that did, I just don’t). I just like knowing how many calories I’m consuming & I keep recipes on the app I use too. Also helps me track if I’ve done a lot of exercise and need to eat *more*.

        3. Nightengale*

          I’m a type 1 who weighs almost everything I eat. I can’t wait for glucose numbers after I eat to program the right amount of insulin into my pump. I have to make a reasonable guess before. I just weighed my breakfast cheerios and milk. I don’t eat out very much. I actually do have a small pocket scale I use sometimes at restaurants and traveling although it works well for portable pieces of bread and fruit but not really for a plate of prepared food like rice.

          1. Gabo*

            I hadn’t really thought of this part of it-of course the reason it’s easy to way your cheerios and milk at home is because you can just weigh the bowl before (or at this point probably already know what your bowl weighs) If the OP weighs a small sandwich, they took off their plate and just says in a matter of fact way, “Don’t mind me, I have a medical condition where I have to keep track of exactly what I eat,” that’s likely to be less of a thing than if they are trying to move pasta off their plate, on to the scale and back again.

            1. Paulina*

              Since the weighing OP is doing appears to be for record keeping rather than for determining how much to eat, they could weigh the full plate and then weigh it again after they’ve eaten. It would be different for those who need to know (or control) the amount in advance, of course.

        4. LimeRoos*

          Just, oof on the whole last paragraph about sports. And traditionally female sports at that. Was a cheerleader, never had an eating disorder, tired of the stereotyping.

        5. Michelle Smith*

          I’m Type 2, very anti-diet from bad past experiences, and yes I weigh some of my food. I do not have an eating disorder diagnosis. My dietician wants me to eat a certain amount of protein with my “larger” meals (I eat every 3 hours, but some meals are larger than others). The only reason I don’t weigh or measure anything is because a lot of my food is pre-prepared from a meal service company, so the measurements are done for me. But if a vegetarian meal for example only has half the protein my dietician wants me to eat, I need to weigh out the rest so I know I’m getting enough. Same thing with carbohydrates. If I want something sweet, I need to know how much of it I’m having so I don’t end up feeling like hot garbage from spiking my blood sugar. I don’t really think it’s so abnormal to weigh your food.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            The only reason I don’t weigh or measure *everything

            Caffeine still hasn’t kicked in yet.

          2. TootsNYC*

            actually, this might suggest a script:

            “My doctor has me weighing my protein.”
            Not “my food,” but “my protein” or “my carbs.”
            Using that specific terminology might make the reaction be less “she can’t control how fat she is” and more “she has a specific medical condition.”

            I wonder if there’s a pocket scale that’s accurate enough (Temu has a cheap one, and Uline has a more expensive one) but still tiny enough to not take up that much space on the table.

            1. metadata minion*

              That could backfire since the LW needs to weight *all* their food — it’s going to look weird saying you need to weight your protein or carbs and then weigh an entirely vegetable salad. Better to just go with the truth, that you need to weigh your food for medical reasons.

        6. Becca*

          The “not fat or overweight” diabetics you know aren’t necessarily managing their condition better. Over time for an insulin-dependent diabetic taking less insulin than is needed results in weight loss because glucose is lost via urine instead of being taken up into tissues. Unfortunately it also results in damage to the blood vessels, nerves and vital organs like kidneys.

          I’m not saying this is the case for the diabetics you know, they may be very skilled at estimating carbohydrate content of their food without weighing, they may have one of the “homebrew systems” that links continuous glucose monitoring results to an insulin pump so they don’t need to calculate insulin requirements.

        7. Observer*

          But even the overweight diabetics I know tend to track GI and glucose rather than portion sizes.

          Which is not fundamentally different. The bottom line is that a lot of people need to VERY carefully track what they eat, whether it’s weight, calories, carbs or something else (and there are a LOT of “something elses” around.)

      2. Gabo*

        Sure. And the reason it’s possible to not notice this is because those people either have found workarounds for eating in pubic settings which don’t draw attention, or just don’t eat in those settings.

        Social conventions are always somewhat arbitrary. You could make the argument that there’s nothing particularly objectively disruptive about someone taking out a scale and weighing their food before they eat at a restaurant, but that’s not really the point. There are all kinds of unwritten rules around how we eat at restaurants and one of them is that you don’t bring extra equipment with you and put it on the table and then move your food around on that equipment. (There’s a baby exception I suppose) The thing someone is likely to judge you for is being oblivious of the social convention or putting your own needs ahead of the social convention.

        1. Gabo*

          I should add that there is some wriggle room here. Most people tend to understand that there are times where people might need to violate a social convention. If you do that in a way that makes it clear that you’re aware of the social convention and are taking steps to make your breaking of it is as non disruptive as possible.

          It’s like if someone needs to eat in a meeting. Having a granola bar, or sipping some soup from a thermos is the way you take care of your personal medical needs while showing that you respect the larger convention. Pulling out a couple of tupperware containers and a knife and fork sends a really different message.

      3. ADidgeridooForYou*

        Also, LW didn’t write in asking for advice on how to manage her diet. She wrote in asking about a very specific situation that’s come up in her life.

    3. Feral FatCat*

      This is a wildly inappropriate response. No one would ever tell someone who discloses that they’re an alcoholic that they should be careful not to develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. LW knows! They’re managing their condition and asking about the business consequences of doing so.

      Comments of practical how-tos (call the restaurant, weigh the same meal the day before, ask to reschedule for coffee, how to decide what the cost/benefit of weighing at the table might be) are helpful — there have been some good suggestions in the comments. Comments with generic dieting advice or discussing LW’s relationship to food are not.

    4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I think we’re best off not giving advice to the LW to ignore part of their treatment plan, especially without experience with overeating as a client or clinician. LW asked if weighing food would come off as odd at a business lunch. Unfortunately, the answer is probably. How they decide to navigate the issue is a separate question. A commenter suggested above going to the group and asking for advice, which is a great idea.

    5. Van Wilder*

      If you can ignore my bias towards throwing money at problems: I would order the entree I want the day before, for takeout, and weigh it at home. I know it’s still not perfect because the next day, they could use a slightly different size chicken breast or whatever, but I think it’s pretty good.

  10. Observer*

    #4 – Personal tragedy and GoFundMe.

    I don’t think you have much to worry about. Yes, there are some pretty awful people who will automatically reject anyone who is not young and not old, not “successful enough”, or has a less that perfect appearing personal life. But you want to avoid those people if humanly possible anyway.

    Most people – even those who are not the most reasonable, don’t care about the stuff you posted (unless there is something really bizarre about the tragedies you wrote about.) When prospective employers google you, they are looking for things like criminal history, activity that could embarrass them, or activity that could seriously call your judgement in question. Not fundraisers. But things like (using some real world examples) showing in a picture of a party with you blackface or some inappropriate ethnic or cultural garb; a detailed description of a kegger you attended in college capped by fairly destructive behavior; or DUI etc.

    1. Seashell*

      That’s what I thought too. You would be hard pressed to find an adult who hasn’t had a relative die of cancer or comparable illness, so I can’t see anyone thinking badly of that. Any reasonable person can see that money might be a problem at a time like that, so the fund raising shouldn’t be an issue either.

    2. WellRed*

      Yes, personal tragedy had me thinking something other than terminal illness. That GoFundme not even a blip on my radar.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think someone wrote in a while ago with a similar question, but in their case the google results brought up articles about a family member’s murder or something like that.

        I don’t want to downplay OP’s tragedy, obviously for them it was a huge and horrible life event! But it is also unfortunately a very common experience and not something that future bosses are likely to think twice about.

        I do want to add two notes though in response to their actual question:

        1) I assume your website is on your resume? If not I would think it should be, and that might minimize the googling (though I think many employers do a basic google search now anyway)

        2) If these are old finished fundraisers it looks like you can try to have them removed so they don’t show up in the searches anymore. I’ll reply to this comment with a link in a moment.

    3. TootsNYC*

      personally, I would be too bored to go looking at the details of the GoFundMe.

      I know there are some people who side-eye crowdfunding in general, as it can come across as covetous, and there certainly are people who misuse it. But as long as whatever the text is says something about the medical issue, and it’s not you trying to get people to help you start a business for which you don’t even have a reasonable business plan (lookin’ at you, BIL), you don’t really have to worry.

  11. Observer*

    #5 – bad second in command

    Knock the term “tattling” out of you lexicon. Giving your boss accurate and necessary information, even if it’s negative information about someone in your company is NOT “tattling”, nor is it wrong.

    Use Alison’s scripts. But primarily keep in mind that it doe not reflect anything ON YOU when someone you don’t manage fails to show up to meetings.

    Just make sure that your boss knows that it’s not because of you that 2nd in command was a no show.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yes I thought that was a very strange word to use! This isn’t an interpersonal issue OP is expected to handle themselves, it’s someone torpedoing the work and possibly trying to pin it on OP.

    2. JSPA*

      the LW could even drop in, “after Mr Caligula immediately fired Jim and Jan, seemingly without warning, the rest of us are understandably averse to pressing him too hard on anything.”

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yes, recommend you do this, OP! And if you actually call him Mr Caligula, OP, you will forever be my hero.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this—tattling is primarily for the purpose of getting someone in trouble. That’s not what this is. This is giving your boss information he needs that is being hidden by his seconds.

  12. DontWeighUnlessGenuineMedicalRisk*

    weighing your food at a business meal would definitely be seen as weird and inappropriate to most people. Even asking a lot of questions or making special requests can be problematic even if done because of food allergies or other medical needs. If there are certain types of good you don’t have to weigh (for instance, leafy greens and some other salad vegetables are often “eat as much as you’d like” even if being very strict about other foods) then I’d try to order those during the meal even if you have to go eat something else on your own immediately after. If not, then I’d guess or ask the restaurant for help if you know where you’re going ahead of time. If not, unless it will genuinely endanger your health and not just go against your plan for a single meal I’d eat a small meal without weighing it.

    If it will genuinely endanger your health (for instance, if you need to balance the amount of a medication against the amount of protein or carbs you eat and if you don’t do it accurately it could cause a heart attack) then obviously that’s a different level of need and in that case you should weigh the food – but also be prepared to explain why in enough detail that they understand you genuinely have to do it.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I will admit here and now that I’m not very up on Overeaters Anonymous, but my read is that it’s not the healthiness of a particular meal – or the OP’s immediate physical health that’s the issue. It’s more of an eating disorder treatment than an issue with the body. I think people are hearing “weighing food” and thinking “weight loss diet” which isn’t the point of treating eating disorders.

      1. Victoria Everglot*

        Yes, unfortunately, “just eat lots of greens!” doesn’t treat the underlying cause of overeating or binge eating and it doesn’t help psychologically to have different rules like that when you’re trying to break a powerful habit. If the problem is eating too much, then it’s a problem whether it’s a gallon of ice cream or ten bags of spinach. It’s perfectly fine advice for people simply trying to lose weight, but those are entirely separate issues.

      2. BronteSistersFan*

        Love your name, Ellis Bell! Please give my best to Currer and Acton next time you see them!

      3. Ariaflame*

        From what I gather a lot of eating disorders are an attempt by the sufferer to establish control in their life when they are feeling they have no control. Because they can control what they eat. It’s just when it becomes too extreme that it’s an issue. If this method allows them the sense of control without the health effects of bulemia or anorexia that sounds like a good idea.

    2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      I agree that trying to work out a solution that doesn’t involve weighing at the meal itself would be best if at all possible, but if you can’t, I disagree that you’d need to explain in detail. Most people will accept “doctor’s orders,” even if they think it’s a little unusual, but going into any real depth of detail about medical situations will strike a lot of people as oversharing.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        And to be clear I realize it’s not necessarily doctor’s orders per se.

      2. TootsNYC*

        “at the meal itself”–if it’s a restaurant, I wonder if you can step away from the group to ask the maitré d or host if you can come weigh your food somewhere before the plate comes to the table.

    3. TootsNYC*

      >>Even asking a lot of questions or making special requests can be problematic even if done because of food allergies or other medical needs.

      At one of my previous jobs, I took over a spot after someone had been fired. In general, I liked these people and trusted their judgment about whether she deserved to be let go.

      But among the things they complained about her was that, when they went to a restaurant, she had all kinds of questions about the food, etc. She had celiac sprue (which I had never heard of, at that point–there was NOT the kind of awareness that we currently have about it). I asked, “well, if it was going to make her sick, shouldn’t she be careful? How else would she know?” And their answer was that she should just ask for plain broiled chicken, or something.

      Now that *I* have celiac sprue, I know how frustrating her life must have been and how unfair that complaint was. I especially know this because nowadays, people in restaurants know what’s going on, usually.

      So yeah, you’re right. There can be weird judgment things.

    4. Observer*

      but also be prepared to explain why in enough detail that they understand you genuinely have to do it.

      Uh, no. Don’t get into detail. For one thing, it’s distracting and puts too much focus on the problem. For another thing, this is the kind of thing that people will have Opinions about. And if their Definitely Correct Opinion is that the OP doesn’t actually need to weight their food, that’s going to be a real problem. And just based on some of the comments here, we know that it’s quite possible that some people will have such opinions.

      Better go with the kind of scripts others have suggested. Something unambiguous but not very informative like “My doctor is having me measure all my carbs to get a handle on a medical issue.” or the like. No one needs to know the details of the medical need, just that it exists.

      1. ExplainOrBeStigmatized*

        without the explanation you’re going to get the full stigma. Like it or not, when you’re getting medical exemptions for things you usually need to share more medical info than ideal.

  13. Jmac*

    Expecting your employer to hold a position open for you (and what the letter writer has described as a pretty senior position) is unreasonable and not something I’ve ever heard of happening in the private sector

    1. KateM*

      It’s funny to think that I live in a country where employer holding your position open for you for a year of parental leave is government-mandated.

      1. amoeba*

        True, but only for that though. For travelling, most German companies at least wouldn’t do it either.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I live in a country where holding for up to 3 years for parental leave is mandated (“equivalent” position, not same exact position). Companies do it because it’s mandated – very few of them will do it for other reasons, such as travel. So I wouldn’t expect it here either.

      3. PoplarFluff*

        Yup – Jmac, I think you‘re extrapolating from your specific culture to all cultures. My employer once held my position for two years so I could move to a different country where my partner was posted. And while I definitely saw it as the sign of appreciation that it was, it also was by now way unheard of in the (EU) country where I lived.

        1. eggs*

          Unless they say otherwise, it seems safe to assume people asking an American advice columnist if something is normal are probably seeking a culturally American viewpoint.

      4. Ellis Bell*

        But would companies do this in a case where it’s not for parental leave, nor mandated?

      5. Not this again*

        Letter writers need advice on how to handle the situation they wrote in about. Responding to someone pointing out that most companies wouldn’t allow one year of unpaid leave for traveling by saying “haha I get a whole year of parental leave” is irrelevant, not very kind, and frankly kind of bizarre. If someone is being told that they want a perk they probably won’t get, why rub it in their face that you get a different perk that they probably don’t get either?

      6. Flying squirrel*

        The reason that parental leave can get so contentious is because it’s a benefit that is not open to anyone else.

        1. Aelfwynn*

          It’s for a specific situation (having a child). If you’re in that situation, you can have time to bond with your child, adjust to having a new human to care for, and (if applicable) recover from child birth or help your partner to recover. I’m not sure what your point is here. It’s “not open to anyone else” if they’re not in that specific situation, just like medical leave is not “open to anyone else” if they or a family member are not having a covered medical issue.

      7. Nancy*

        Parental leave and travel leave are not the same thing, and OP wants travel leave.

      8. RagingADHD*

        It’s funny to think becoming a parent is the equivalent of a year-long vacation.

      9. NeutralJanet*

        This isn’t parental leave, though, it’s “I want to take a year-long break” leave. The fact that that holding a job for a year-long parental leave is government-mandated suggests that companies wouldn’t do it if it weren’t mandated, and in this case, holding the job isn’t mandated, so it’s safe to guess that most companies won’t.

      10. Jmac*

        I live in a country with 18 months of parental leave. Parental leave is different from “I want to travel and get to know myself”

        1. Bluenoser*

          Just replying to the general sentiment here, but while they certainly aren’t equivalent, places with year long parental leaves are much more likely to be used to losing an employee for a year plus. Hiring a one-year term position to fill in for someone traveling isn’t any different than hiring for someone whose had a baby. That doesn’t mean a company would be willing to do this for op, of course.

    2. münchner kindl*

      It’s common in some sectors and for some positions – usually senior – to take half a year or one year off and call it a “sabbatical”. It can be as simple as recharging, or as ambitious as travelling the world, writing a novel, learning a language etc.

      Ideally, that senior person comes back invigorated instead of burnt out, maybe with some new skills (language) or insights (world travelling); and it also reflects well on the company that they have such good personnel management and enough money for their employees to afford taking time off.

      If a sabbatical is on the table, however, there’s often some details about the time off: you work 5 years before and save up time, or you go on half-pay during, or you spend holiday from the next 5 years.

      If it’s unusual in OP’s field, or OP hasn’t offered any time /money recompense, the company may simply say no, but it’s not unheard of.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        The sabbatical programs I’ve come across usually make you plan/request it quite far in advance though and require “saving up” time in some form, or at least a minimum tenure. AND there has to exist such a program, with clear rules, in the first place. Just announcing today you’ll be gone for a year starting next month usually doesn’t fly.

        Public employers sometimes have programs where one can take a sabbatical for specific purposes, like teaching, writing, research or artistic pursuits, etc. In the private sector, there’s more likely to be a long sabbatical program in bigger companies (easier to find an equivalent position on return).

    3. JSPA*

      Agreed. The possibility of sabbaticals (noting that those are still for research, not general time off!) is one of the reasons people put up with the bad pay and unprofessionalism so common in academe.

      Many employers will allow unpaid time off for a week or two for something like extending a honeymoon; or for life events like, “it’s not bereavement, but I need to take several extra days over the course of our slow period to travel out of state to prep and sell my uncle’s house, as I’m his executor.” Road trip for a year? that’d be… unusual.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I know of one case (a friend of a friend) where the employee was fairly senior, burnt out, and looking for another job. Her company realized she was likely to leave and offered her one month, unpaid, which she took and then stayed on for another few years after that. They might have also made some other changes in pay, benefits, scope of the role that I don’t know about. As a friend of a friend, I only heard about the month of unpaid leave. Just another anecdote to illustrate that a year of unpaid leave is unusual.

    4. Some guy in Oz*

      In Australia I’d be less surprised at a senior position being held for someone. If you’re an hourly worker they’re more likely to rehire you when you get back. Salary means you’re expected to be away for a month every year. Bank that and you’ll get 2-3 months fairly easily. I’ve taken 6 months off once, and I’m about to do it again.

      It depends a lot on the details, though. I work for an Australian owned company, currently our CEO type is spending our winter in the northern hemisphere meeting clients (and taking a cruise or two) as he usually does. Us minions have a lot of day to day flexibility in the salaried part of the company because management want the work done and can’t be bothered micromanaging. So when I said “don’t book me a project in the second half of the year, I won’t be around” they just focussed on the important question: I’m on call 24/7 now, will I be contactable while I’m on leave? Since I will be we’re all good.

      1. Loz*

        Also in Oz – our company recently announced they would hold a job open (but unpaid) for up to a year if you wanted to take a break. That’s not especially unusual in larger companies but what makes this unusual is that the qualifying period is only 1 year of service! Typically it’s a 10 year or something significant. I’m very chuffed with this!

    5. The Person from the Resume*

      I did find LW3’s question VERY ODD especially from an American perspective so much so I wondered if they are not writing from the US.

      My employer will not allow any unpaid time off. Is this uncommon?

      No. It’s extremely common. I honestly don’t know anyone who took off a year as unpaid time off and returned to their old job. I hear it’s something academics might do, but not people in other types of jobs. Presumably your position can’t go unfilled (you’re a Dept Manager someone has to manage the department while you’re gone) so they need to fill it. How qualified a person will they get to apply if they honestly say they are only hiring until you return? Or how frustrating would it be for one of your employees to be promoted for a year and demoted upon your return. Also so much can change in a year for both you and your company. They can’t force you back, but you can’t force them to take you back at your old maximum rate of perks. OTOH is you’re a proven top performer and they need you once you return there could possibly be a chance for you to neogiate for some of those perks.

      I think if you want to travel you need to give up the job and be prepared to job hunt after your return. That’s very common.

      1. Seahorse*

        Maybe some private universities handle it differently, but even in academia, you don’t just take a year off. A sabbatical follows fairly strict rules and allows someone to drop 60-75% of their usual job duties for a time to focus really hard on the rest. It’s not a year of vacation – more like a semester of research leave where you stop teaching classes and drop all your committee assignments to go gather information and write a book about it. Preferably, you manage to enjoy the process, but it’s still “work” in service to your employer.

        That said, if I was in the position to travel for a year, it’d be very tempting. Life is short and unpredictable, jobs will never love you back, and opportunities like that don’t come often. Maybe I’d save for another year, or wait until the busy time is over to resign on good terms, but I think I’d go for the self-financed time off over keeping a job.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Yes, this! Academic sabbaticals are not vacation. You’re paid for your time, as you’re still working for the university. You’re just allowed to drop some of your normal work in order to focus fully on an area of interest, and when you come back you publish a book/start a new department/start a new graduate area of education/implement changes based on your research.
          My company gives sabbaticals, but they’re just extended vacations–an extra 4 weeks, all together, no justification or goal needed, eligible every 5 years (after your initial 6 year employment period). It’s a perk, meant for people to be able to travel or fully relax and recharge, or whatever they want. A year of leave would have to be very special circumstances, and none of them would involve just travel.

          1. SHEILA, the co-host*

            And, just to add to this, many academic sabbaticals also have clauses that require you to remain at the employer for a certain amount of time after taking the sabbatical (so that you can’t turn your research time into a job search). At current place, it’s only 1 year, but I’ve seen longer time requirements.

      2. amoeba*

        Eh, at least in Europe it would be equally uncommon (because I think taking unpaid leave is actually less common here in general), so I don’t think it’s a US vs. Elsewhere thing! Although of course it might be a different story in some other place in the world, who knows…

      1. Dorothea Vincy*

        Maybe the comments could be framed more kindly, but I think it would be a disservice to the letter writer to say, “You’re right, your employer should totally hold your position open for a year so you can travel for personal reasons and it’s silly and backward that they won’t.” That doesn’t encourage LW to have a realistic perception of what her employer will do or a good relationship with the reality of the situation. Even the comment about European norms was talking about parental leave, which is not the same thing and honestly seems more unhelpful to me than a comment worded a bit harshly.

      2. Willow Pillow*

        I don’t disagree… but this is a safer place to see the unvarnished perceptions than where it would likely impact LW at work.

      3. JSPA*

        This thread? Or reality?

        If there are companies where this would, in fact, be normal, their employees are welcome to post here.

        No such posts?

        You’re free to draw the conclusion that people who work for that sort of company are currently trecking in Nepal or paddling the Limpopo, and have better things to do than read Ask A Manager, and proceed on that basis.

        (It’s not the conclusion I’d draw.)

        If you want a year off, do what others have done, and budget / plan for it, then leave your job, get travel insurance, and go on your trip.

        There is no rule that you have to be tied to an employer for every year of your existence from graduation until retirement. But also no general rule that your employer must continue to keep you on as a nominal employee when you are not in fact working for them, and are entirely voluntarily doing something else with 100% of your time.

        How can this be an unexpected or unwelcome truth???

      4. fgcommenter*

        Yes. Noting that it is uncommon or unusual would have gotten the point across. Attacking the letter writer as being unreasonable is, itself, unreasonable.

    6. Melissa*

      My husband is a lawyer in a large firm, and they will authorize a sabbatical– and you can do whatever you want on the sabbatical. So we plan to take a year off and travel. I agree that it is VERY unusual, and a huge benefit his firm offers. You get paid a small percentage of your regular salary.

  14. Pocket Mouse*

    LW 2: You don’t specify if you’re going to a restaurant for the lunch with your boss’s boss, but if you are, could you go there beforehand to order and weigh a menu item (or items) you can commit to having at the lunch? That way you know the weight but don’t have to bring a scale day-of.

      1. John Smith*

        It might be if the food is standardised, but restaurants I’ve been to… sometimes the steak takes up half the plate, other times its a case of “How did you find your steak, sir?”. “I lifted up a chip and there it was”.

        OP, would it be possible to call the restaurant and ask them if they can weigh the portions for you?

        Another issue to consider if you were able to get measured portions. Let’s say you order the same dish as another attendee, but your portion is substantially smaller than the other person’s dish. I’d imagine people may comment on the quantity (and possibly make a fuss, that you need to send it back etc – possibly a reason why a restaurant wouldnt accomodate such a request) and you’d want an answer. “I asked for this amount. How’s the Llama therapy campaign going?”

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          Assuming the cook on the day of doesn’t forget/refuses to alter their portions because they’re “offended.”

          Had it happen with an intolerence trigger request.

        2. doreen*

          It’s interesting that you used steak as an example, because that’s the one item where I often see weight listed on the menu. I’m sure it’s mostly because there might several sizes of steak on the menu but I hardly ever see the weight listed for chicken or fish or shrimp.

          1. Foody food food*

            I’ve been to one steakhouse that does offer different portions of chicken, 9 or 12 oz.

            Funny thing is, I always order 9 oz, and the past 2 visits, I felt like I got nearly double as much the second visit as the first.

            So even those that do advertise weighted portions, may not be terribly committed to it, or see it as a minimum serving, not the total size.

    1. Victoria Everglot*

      I think this is the best and possibly only plan, it’s what I would do. All the advice about eyeballing it or just ordering vegetables is missing the point entirely. Like, if it were that simple, OP wouldn’t have written in.

    2. This Old House*

      Or I wonder if it’s possible to bring the scale discreetly (e.g. in a small tote bag) and talk to the staff about whether it’s possible for you to step away from the table to weigh your meal before it arrives at the table so that it’s not so obvious to your dining companions?

  15. FG*

    To LW 2, I’m sorry you’re getting so much bog-standard “dieting” advice who have no idea what OA is about. I know you know about protein-as-deck-of-cards and looking at the menu in advance, etc.

    I do agree that weighing at a biz meal is enough outside the norm that I wouldn’t do it. Have you talked to your sponsor or others in your group? Maybe someone has a similar experience they can share. Failing that, I’d probably see if I could figure out a way to have my regular meal before hand, then claim tummy troubles or something & just have a beverage. That may not be a great solution but thought it worth mentioning.

    1. TakeASickDay*

      I wouldn’t not eat at all, and I certainly wouldn’t claim to feel ill in any way. Both are also extremely problematic. In particular, claiming to feel ill but still showing up would make most people wonder why you are potentially infecting them with whatever you have. If you really cannot eat anything without weighing it and your excuse is going to be feeling ill then I’d genuinely call in sick that day and forego the meal altogether (I don’t know what the repercussions of that would be, but in most places I’ve worked calling in sick would be significantly better than showing up sick to a restaurant where you’re sharing a table in close quarters with your boss or folks higher up the chain).

      1. popko*

        I feel like this reflects a very narrow view about what “tummy troubles” means? I’m not going to infect you with my GERD, I promise!

        1. No no no all the way home*

          I agree. I live with diverticulosis, which can flare to diverticulitis and I can’t infect anyone else with it when I’m sick.

        2. Green great dragon*

          If LW goes down that route they should definitely be clear any sickness is not infectious, rather than leaving it open (most people hearing the phrase will think about their own tummy troubles, which likely will include contagious illnesses). LW could say, truthfully, they’re not able to eat with them due to an ongoing medical condition. But it still would be a bit uncomfortable if they’re eating and LW’s just sitting there. Weighing/asking about the weight in advance seems a better option, if that’s close enough for LW’s purposes.

      2. WS*

        Another one chiming in here – I have Crohns and in a flare-up I have periods of some hours where eating is a bad idea. Nobody’s going to be infected with my auto-immune disease! But if you think people would worry, OP could say something like “tummy troubles today, nothing infectious but it’s better if I just drink [beverage of choice] rather than eat right now.”

        1. Seashell*

          People might be hesitant to report chronic illness at random work meetings, for fear of seeming like they’re apt to wind up being out sick for long periods.

      3. lucanus cervus*

        ‘Extremely problematic’ is a bit of a stretch, and as others have said, there are many non-contagious conditions that can affect a person’s ability to eat. Though I do think if LW takes this route, they should be clear that a) they’re not contagious and b) they’re not feeling too ill to participate, and not about to throw up at the table.

      4. Period*

        Most of us who suffer from menstruation have absolutely had non-contagious tummy troubles.

        If someome said to me at a restaurant meeting that they had tummy trounles and couldn’t eat, I would not assume it was contagious. I would assume they were having an unfortunate time.

        1. amoeba*

          As a person with (mild) emetophobia, it would send me in a panic and I’d spend the whole meal watching OP for signs of nausea or whatever and panicking about what to disinfect. Sure, there are other, non-contagious things and I’m well aware of them, but if they’re not specifically mentioning that (and that they’re sure of that, not just “oooh, feel sick but I’m sure it’s nothing, I probably just ate something wrong”), I’ll assume the worst.

          So if you do go down that road, please do make sure you reassure people. Not everybody is relaxed about this.

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      “Tummy troubles” sounds childish and unprofessional to me. I would certainly not use that wording.

      It sounds like the LW would be best not having a working lunch and just having a meeting. I suspect this working lunch could be a reward in that the employees get a nice lunch on boss’s/company’s dime. Or it’s a free lunch in a conference room (which we learned last week that many employees love, love, love free food). It also sounds like the LW accepted thinking weighing their food would be fine, but the commenters agree with Alison that it is odd enough that the LW shouldn’t do it.

      I think the LW should walk it back in advance and not fake sick because that could just be rescheduled. Decline lunch because of ongoing for an idefinate period of time medical conditions/eating restrictions, but have the meeting as planned so the work discussion can happen. Problem solved.

    3. BayBeyBae*

      To be fair, I think how “odd” it would seem really depends on where you are and what industry you are in – my work overlaps a bit with entertainment in LA/NY and a LOT with tech here in the Bay and I don’t think I would even blink about it, but I am willing to admit that that is unlikely to be everyone’s situation. In general though, if someone busted out a scale and said “oh, my doctor has me weighing everything, I’ll be just a moment, you go ahead!” (or other innocuous white lie of choice) I think it would be really rude for anyone to press or have a negative reaction. Unfortunately, this is what OP/Alison/the Commentariat/you mean when they say “it shouldn’t matter but it might” which is a shame.

      Could you elaborate a bit on OA’s sctructure here? Is the need to weigh each time an accountability or habit thing? That would make sense if skipping one meal or weighing ahead wouldn’t work for the program. I admit I am rather ignorant here, but my mom did a program called TOPS which seems to follow a similar structure.

  16. Purple vacuum*

    LW#1 To keep this job, even if you start searching, you may need to leave you house 15 minutes earlier. For whatever reason this is important enough to your boss that they’re giving a final warning, so you play by their rules and never be late. This gives you breathing room to make another plan.

    1. Jessica*

      Agree, and I’d be making that other plan. Surely what you’re seeing here is just the visible tip of the Iceberg of Bad Judgment.

    2. Charlie*

      Yeah– think of it like you’re trying to catch a train that leaves at 8 exactly. Doesn’t matter if you’re just one minute late, the train leaves with or without you, and if you miss it the next one’s not for an hour. What would you do to get there if that was the case?

      (Yes, I know trains often don’t leave right on time, but my point is that you generally can’t count on that, so you have to do what it takes to be there on the dot.)

      1. ceiswyn*

        As someone who regularly catches trains that often leave right on time – when I am at the mercy of external factors, I accept that sometimes I’m going to miss the one I wanted and have to rearrange my plans.

        Leaving home so early that I would likely be sitting on the platform for an hour would be reasonable for a one-off important train, but not a daily one!

        It’s not a great analogy.

        1. brushandfloss*

          For me, someone who sees scheduled patients all day long and a commuter, it’s an apt analogy. No one is say LW1 has to leave an hour earlier but right now it seems they are leaving no buffer room in their commute. If someone can’t go home or on break until the OP arrives, those few minutes matter.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            The way I read it, they are leaving an hour time for an (under ideal circumstances) 15 minute commute. That’s a triple buffer, not no buffer! They’re thinking about making that a quadruple buffer, and in fact leaving an hour earlier.

            1. brushandfloss*

              They are routinely arriving by 7:55, so while their ideal commute is fifteen minutes, their normal commute is closer to 55 minutes. On Saturdays it takes me 20 minutes to get to work but on a school/workday morning it takes 40 minutes. So no it’s not a triple buffer, it’s no buffer

              1. LW1*

                Hi, 7:55 was just an example of a clock time – I am pretty regularly here by 7:30-7:35 but for obvious reasons they don’t want me clocking in 30 minutes early. My most common clock-in time, in looking at my clock over the past 90 days, is 7:47.

          2. ecnaseener*

            “No buffer room” isn’t fair — they’re leaving a full hour for a drive that’s usually 15 minutes. That’s a lot of buffer. I agree that the thing to do here is probably leave *even more* buffer room while they job-hunt, but let’s not erase the effort they’re already putting in.

            1. Colette*

              But at least 20% of the time, that’s not early enough, so it sounds like they can’t count on the “ideal time”.

              1. ecnaseener*

                I literally said they should leave even more buffer time. We’re in agreement. ???

                1. Colette*

                  Where we disagree is that I don’t think they’re leaving enough buffer time because it doesn’t sound like they often (ever?) get there in the idea time. If it takes 15 minutes at 4 am on Wednesday, that’s the ideal time, but you’re never going to get there in that amount of time on Monday at 7:30.

              2. ceiswyn*

                They already know they can’t count on the ideal time, but killing time in the car park for an hour on four days a week in order to avoid being one minute late on the fifth strikes me as… overkill.

                If OP’s manager can’t or won’t be flexible on this, OP’s got to decide whether to waste that much time or to look for a new job. (I’d look for a new job)

        2. Charlie*

          But you wouldn’t let yourself miss the train once a week, right? If it meant being an hour late?
          That’s what I mean. And I don’t know, I took commuter trains every day for ~5 years and never missed a morning train even once (and I am not a naturally punctual nor a morning person), and as someone who doesn’t have a car and regularly waits at bus/train stations for up to an hour to avoid being late, all I can say is the “what do I have to do to be Not Even One minute late” mindset has been pretty successful for me so I thought I’d throw it out there.
          (I do think OP’s work is being unreasonable! But I also don’t want them to get fired before they find something better.)

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            I think this is an unreasonable comparison, given that they are generally 1 *minute* late once a week, not one *hour* late. That is an enormous difference that makes the whole comparison really unfair.

            1. Galadriel's Garden*

              While we all agree that one minute vs. one hour are vastly different, LW1’s manager is fundamentally treating them as the same – so LW1 should treat their lateness with the same degree of severity as their manager, at least until they’re able to find something else. It’s better to be 30 minutes early and kill some time in your car, at a coffee shop, whatever than it is to be fired.

    3. ivy*

      This. LW1, do you want to be right or keep your job? You are going to get fired with nothing lined up if you don’t figure out how to be there on time every day. Not one minute late, not most of the time.

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

        I think this is a harsh statement for the OP. I do not read this as them coming from a “I’m right and my boss is wrong” standpoint. They want to know how to talk with their boss about this. It’s also a problem that her coworker is the one reporting her being late.

        1. LW1*

          Right, yeah, I mean, I can leave earlier, but this seems to be symptomatic of a cultural issue within the workplace.

  17. Summer Queen*

    LW2, another thing to consider would be “do I want to invite comments on how I eat”?

    Now hopefully you grandboss would at least be polite enough not to say anything in the moment, but people are really really weird about what other people do and do not eat. And surprisingly few people keep those comments to themselves. Hypothetically, if you brought the scale, would you be okay with your grandboss commenting/asking a lot of (possibly invasive) questions about it?

    And related: would you be okay with your grandboss finding “weighs her food” to be the most memorable thing about you?

    I fully agree that these are things that shouldn’t be a concern, but unfortunately they are.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, especially your second paragraph. It would definitely stick in my mind. I’m fat, and I’ve had people comment on my food choices all my life even when I was normal weight or just slightly overweight. Fortunately I now work in an environment where people don’t comment on what others eat.

      But if someone brought a scale to a restaurant, I’d definitely notice it and remember it, even if I wouldn’t say anything.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a really smart focus. If you don’t want to answer a lot of questions about what you’re doing, or get a lot of advice about serving sizes etc, find a way to not do this at the business meal.

      This comment section didn’t go straight to “eh, people are different, nothing to judge/remember/opine over here.”

      (This is the first I’ve heard of doing this in a restaurant, rather than at home as a way to train your eye.)

      1. Observer*

        <I.(This is the first I’ve heard of doing this in a restaurant, rather than at home as a way to train your eye.)

        That’s because this is apparently not the purpose in this case. Also, because you can train your eye all you want, but when a disorder of this sort is at play, it can really mess with yout perceptions.

        1. BethDH*

          This is a really good point applicable well beyond this situation. Many of us will need to violate social convention at work from time to time, so minimize the effect and show I don’t think FD meant OP was doing that; I think they were saying that this is not a familiar practice to most people and that is likely to make it unfortunately noticeable and memorable, even if people aren’t judging on that.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          “At a meeting with my grandboss, should I bring up my addiction and the steps I will be taking during this meeting to work around it?”

          I think generic advice there would be “Try not to bring it up; you don’t want that to be what they focus on about you.”

    3. Critical Rolls*

      This also falls in the category of “sure, there’s nothing wrong with this and maybe no one will judge you or say anything, but it will probably be a Thing You’re Remembered For.” So you kinda get to avoid the potential problems of judgement and invasive questions by dodging the non-work memorable behavior, in the same way you wouldn’t want your grandboss to remember you as “the person who slipped their shoes off at the table” or “the person who took their jacket off and put it back on like three times” or “the person who did a deep breathing exercise at the end of the meal.”

  18. Not Australian*

    #3 – have you considered looking for some type of work you can do on the road? If you’re only planning to be out a year and have adequate funds to cover your expenses it may not be worth setting up, but a lot of vanlife people have jobs they can do from anywhere – either teleworking, or picking up short-term contracts here and there. (Think travel nurses, employment in National Parks etc.) If you get the bug and want to stay out longer, even permanently, this may be worth looking into. Doesn’t directly answer your question, admittedly, but being unable to return to your present job after a year may not be the worst thing in the world and certainly shouldn’t discourage you from going adventuring!

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

      Yeah, I’m wondering if OP could ask about temporarily working remotely

  19. Oops*

    #LW4, no one would hold loss against you and I’ll go a step further and say that many people wouldn’t open the link if they came across those search results anyway.

  20. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    LW1: Honestly I think this is about someone wanting you gone. But like others have said, do what you got to do to get there before 8am until you can find another job.

    1. Cat Tree*

      It sounds like one nosy coworker does want her gone, BUT her boss shouldn’t be entertaining those complaints and that is also part of the problem.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think as a rule, if a new person shows up and explains how the loyal lieutenant is the problem, not the new person, the top boss tends to disregard this advice.

        For all that it worked all the time on Burn Notice.

      2. EPLawyer*

        This is the real problem. Boss KNOWS when OP is going to be late because they call in. So they can then see when OP actually arrives. Boss also KNOWS if this not being exactly on time (not calling 1 minute as late) is not affecting work flows. So Boss is entertaining this nonsense instead of shutting nosy coworker down.

        The talk needs to be with nosy coworker that it is not their job to monitor the comings and goings of people, they need to concentrate on their own work.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree! The boss seems unable to give a reason why this is an issue besides “affecting morale.” (One nosy coworker complaining about something that doesn’t affect their work would affect morale, I guess, but that’s not the LW’s fault.)

      I had something happen to a coworker years ago. We had separate buildings, & his desk was in one but he was training in another. Some coworkers in his building who disliked him complained that he was “never there.” And our manager listened to them!

      He trained a completely different thing than they did, & I was the other trainer who did similar training. I always knew where he was & how to reach him, but those bullies got into the managers’ head. Even though his schedule did not affect them at all. (I did what I could to mitigate things, but I didn’t have the necessary pull. We both ended up leaving the department.)

      1. higheredadmin*

        +1. Issue here is the nosy coworker, and how the boss is handling said nosy coworker. I will bet there is a history here. (To take an example from my own management experience, we had someone in a “core hours” office who was consistently late. Core hours were 10am – 4pm, and you could come and go as you please before and after this time, as long as you worked your daily hours and were there for 10am. This person would consistently stroll in at 10:30am or later, and had only a short walk to work. Whey they were reprimanded, they quickly became the office clock watcher and “one minute late” snitch.) Boss needs to deal with nosy coworker’s issues with nosy, and remind this person that everyone’s developmental and personal goals are private to that person. It is not nosy coworker’s job to clock watch unless boss has asked them to.

  21. Miri*

    LW2 – I had a friend with similar needs (in his case for diabetes management) whose approach was to look at the menu beforehand, pick 1-2 dishes he was considering, call the restaurant, explain his needs, and ask for the nutritional details of the dishes. It seemed to work well for him, and avoided anyone else at the table knowing the details of what was going on because it was all discussed by phone beforehand – even if a server came out with a “Dish for John?” he’d just say “oh, I have a few dietary requirements that are too hard to explain, so I called ahead to make sure they could accommodate” which was really easy to accept. They might even be able to prep a dish to your needs, or weigh it before serving you (hugely depending on the restaurant of course!).

    1. Anna*

      I used to work for an actual diplomat, who was on a diet for his health, but didn’t want to attract attention to it. He had a similar approach: he had me call the restaurant beforehand and ask them to make him a meal that fit (something like fish and cooked vegetables, not complicated). The restaurant was happy to do that for him. We went to the lunch and when it was time to order, he said ‘Oh, just a piece of fish and cooked vegetables for me’, and got the pre-arranged meal.

  22. Practical Privacy*

    LW #4: I’ve run a GoFundMe campaign for myself that I similarly wanted to keep private because in order to fund raise I needed to share details about my medical problems that I would not want an employer to see.

    First up, you can close those GoFundMes. Unless you are still using them to raise funds you don’t need to keep them open. I apologize for not remembering the steps because it’s been a couple of years for me, but once you close it down it can’t be pulled up again by a google search because there’s nothing to pull. Possibly something like the Wayback Machine might have it archived but how many employers would try that? If you take this option bear in mind you’ll lose access to the information about who donated, so if you want to retain that for any updates or thank yous you might still need to send make sure to have copies of it.

    Second, and this advice applies for anyone wanting to change the results of what appears when someone googles your name, if you can’t erase what the name is associated with what you can do is increase how often your name appears in situations you’re fine with employers seeing. Sign up for social media accounts under your name and post innocuous pictures and messages on those accounts. Use it to get involved in discussions about topics related to your industry in public message boards and LinkedIn. Get a free website and use it to write a couple of reviews about books or Ted Talks related to your industry, whatever. Then encourage your friends and family to friend/upvote/share/etc these things as applicable.

    This won’t fix the problem overnight, but it will help alert Google to how there’s more things with your name out there and things that people are actively interested in *now*. That will push the results you don’t want them to see further down in the search results.

    Hope that helps!

    1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

      Great advice for anyone wanting to get good results on Google, thank you friend!

    2. JSPA*

      great advice; but also, the LW should remember that as people age, we collect more and more connections to death and tragedy. People old enough to be hiring are almost certainly on a first-hand footing with someone close to them having had a severe illness, injury, or death, such that indirect connections are highly unlikely to shock them.

      And if you’re younger, they’re also old enough to think, “losing my mother suddenly was so hard at 55, my sympathies to someone going through that slowly, at 25.”

      1. bamcheeks*

        Your point about age is a very good one— bereavement feels very much like a defining characteristic when you’re under 25, and gradually becomes less so. My mum died when I was 32 and my younger brother was 22, and the difference in our social circles was quite noticeable. I had several friends who’d been through something similar, and reached out to offer support, and most of my other friends had at least second-hand experience of bereavement and had got over the “don’t talk about it ever” embarrassment and knew how to say very simple and comforting things. My brother was still surrounded by people who just didn’t really know what to say, even though they meant well and wanted to support him. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel sympathy for people who lost someone when they were young, but like, I’m not your therapist, I’m not thinking about how this impacts you in your day to day life or what it says about you as a person.

        LW4, I’m sorry for your loss and I hope you do find that it’s a non-issue in your job seeking.

    3. Teach*

      Great idea–I was hoping someone would address this as I have not done a GoFundMe before, but I imagined there had to be a way to take it down or make it private. OP, up to you, but I would probably take a lot of screenshots first just in case you want to see it again someday. Then, yeah, take it down. Probably won’t disappear from the internet entirely, but that should take it out of the first few results. Good luck and sorry for your loss.

  23. Emmy Noether*

    #1: is there an alternate route or means of transport you could take that may take longer on a good day, but be more reliably the same length every day? Driving the long way round may still mean you can leave later if you need to be very sure to be there at a set time.

    (Actually, my first, city-dwelling, instinct was to advise taking a bike, because pulling by lines of backed up cars, wind in my hair, is one of the great pleasures of life, but this doesn’t sound like a situation that is likely to be bikeable. Also won’t help with the drawbridge).

    Oh and also, do follow the advice here and try to switch jobs to somewhere more reasonable. Making a 15 minutes commute into, effectively, a 1h15 commute (5 times as long! 5!) would annoy me to no end.

    1. GreenShoes*

      I think the problem is that it’s not a 15 min commute. (Unless it’s a sunny day on the weekend with no train or boat traffic.) If the LW regularly leaves at 7 am and typically arrives between 7:45-7:55 -“every other day, I’m there at 7:55 at the latest, usually closer to 7:45-7:50. ” the average commute is 45-50 minutes. Adding 15 minutes to that is the best option to not being late and not unreasonable.

  24. nodramalama*

    Unfortunately LW2 I agree with others who have said people will likely find weighing the food off putting. Does overeaters anonymous have any guidance on what do in these circumstances? Maybe they have some strategies or language you could use that might the people you’re eating lunch with at ease.

    1. Manchmal*

      I can see people finding it strange, unusual, curious about why it’s necessary — but off-putting?? She’s not changing a diaper at the dining table. There are several reasons I can think of that someone might need to know exactly what they’re eating: they’re a body-builder or other athlete on a strict regimen, they’re someone with difficult-to-control diabetes, they have one of several genetic disorders or diseases that mean they have to be careful with one macro or another, or they have a food addiction. None of these are a personal failure. I would check your biases here.

      1. I have RBF*

        Someone weighing their food at the table in a restaurant would trigger my disordered eating. So, yes, I’m biased, for a reason.

      2. Pilcrow*

        This isn’t off-putting like “changing a diaper at the dining table” but off-putting like someone counting out $1 of pennies. It’s fiddly, time consuming, and completely off topic of the purpose of the meeting. It will also make them remember you as “the person who did weird thing at lunch with the boss” rather than as “the person who streamlined the TPS reports.”

        Think of the logistics of weighing food that’s already been served on a plate. First you pull out your scale and plonk it down on the table (assuming there’s room). Now you either have to 1) Ask for another plate so you can weight it to either zero out the scale for the crockery or do the math later, or 2) Move the food from the plate to the scale and then back again. Now you note down the meal weights in whatever app or notebook. Then you put everything away. Finally you’re ready to eat/carry on the discussion.

        Meanwhile your boss is watching all this when it’s supposed to be a business meeting.

      3. nodramalama*

        i said people are likely to find it off putting because in my experience people are weird and sensitive about food. i don’t think it would matter why OP was weighing their food, I think a lot of people would find someone at a work lunch at a restaurant weighing their food off putting no matter what the reason is. It was not a comment on whether LW is personally failing or not.

      4. K8T*

        It’s incredibly off-putting and LW will forever be known as “that one with the scale”. They need to go back to their OA program to see how to handle this but it really could be damaging to their career.

    2. KuddelDaddeldu*

      Now my engineer brain is really curious: How does weighing your food work? Do one weigh the full plate, then the empty one and take the difference?
      I had the mental picture of weighing every forkful of food (sounds messy) or using a spoon with built-in scales I saw in a shop the other day, supposedly for cooking.
      As someone who tends to overeat at dinner, I want to know!

  25. Antony-mouse*

    Is it not common for people to be able to take a leave of absence from work? I have three friends in their thirties and forties now who have taken a sabbatical to go travelling just since Covid and they’ve all had their job when they got back. When I asked about it, they all told me it was a fairly regular thing and if I wanted to plan for travelling later in life I easily could. (This is the UK)

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I know of UK companies offering sabbaticals as employee benefits, but wouldn’t say it’s common, and there are usually conditions to meet, such as tenure.

      I’ve only worked at one such company. People could take up to 6 months off unpaid provided they’d worked there for at least 5 years. I know of only one person who took a full 6 months. Others who wanted a year of travelling left their jobs to do that (one came back, but that was at least a year after returning and in a different role; the others didn’t).

      Everywhere else I’ve worked at didn’t offer it. I have friends who have been in similar situations as the OP, even for shorter periods of time. And, while job hunting, I noticed that sabbaticals offered by other companies were rarely ever longer than what my old workplace did.

    2. MsSolo (UK)*

      I think it’s more common here (and in Europe) because with Parental Leave there’s already a model in place for taking on someone on a fixed term contract to cover the leave. With a more senior member of staff, if they take a sabbatical it’s a great opportunity for one of their reports to step up and get higher level experience, which they can use to get their next role.

      (honestly, the only way I’ve ever managed to get the “experience you need to do the job that you can only get by doing the job” is through parental leave or sabbaticals – I don’t know how it works in countries where that’s not an option!)

    3. Green great dragon*

      Our (large, UK) company does, though it’s used more often for life circumstances than travel (an extra year’s full time parenting, caring for ill relatives for example). But people do take it to travel.

      They don’t come back to exactly the job they left, but there are enough similar roles that it’s easy enough to find one at the right level whenever they come back.

    4. londonedit*

      In my UK experience, it’s possible, but it isn’t the norm. I worked for one company years ago that offered a six-week sabbatical after 10 years’ service, and I’ve also worked for a couple of companies where people have negotiated an unpaid two- or three-month sabbatical to go travelling or whatever, but I definitely wouldn’t describe it as a regular thing. If you have several years’ service with a company and you have something you want to do like a once-in-a-lifetime trip, then it might be worth sounding out your boss about a longer leave of absence, but in my experience it would be something that would have to be negotiated and that definitely isn’t guaranteed to be approved.

    5. GammaGirl1908*

      Yes, sometimes people take leaves of absence, but a) it’s usually for less than a year, b) it’s often for some big unavoidable challenge (like a health situation), and c) if the organization offers it, there often is an elaborate procedure (plus this LW’s organization doesn’t seem to offer this; it’s her own idea).

      Orgs that offer ways for employees to come back after a long absence also often don’t guarantee that your exact job will be waiting. They agree that an equivalent job will be offered to you. There’s a lot of wiggle room there.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes on the procedure – in principle we can take unpaid leave even for two years, but there are a lot of conditions. Also, we are guaranteed to have ‘a’ job upon return, not ‘our’ job – for someone with a bit of a niche specialisation or high up in the hierarchy it may be a pretty big issue.

    6. Some guy in Oz*

      In Australia we have legislated long service leave, apparently in NSW two months (8.67 weeks) after ten years. That’s not referred to as a sabbatical, but it seems to be relatively common for people to take it with (accumulated) annual leave and add unpaid leave to it.

    7. bleakho*

      I work in higher education in the UK and aside from academic sabbaticals, it’s common for universities to offer administrative and support staff some kind of career-break scheme. My current employer offers up to a year of unpaid leave for staff who have been with the org for at least five years, and that feels fairly typical to me

    8. I should really pick a name*

      Sabbaticals tend to be pretty industry-specific (at least where I live in Canada).

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Where it’s granted, I’d expect that sort of leave of absence much more for a 2-6 month period than a year.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Which that might be the solution for OP. See if she can break it up into shorter periods. I know the desire to travel the US is such a fun idea. But already there is no pension, so this is not a company that really supports employees. Taking a year off is an extreme ask.

        Better to use your full allotment of vacation days and see what you can add on to that each year and then plan trips accordingly.

        1. doreen*

          About the pension – most employees in the US do not have access to a traditional , defined benefit pension so I wouldn’t say lack of one means the company doesn’t support employees. Most do have access to a defined contribution plan, but those would be kind of irrelevant in deciding whether to change jobs – at some point with a defined benefit plan people begin to feel like they can’t leave , it’s only X more years before I vest/get health insurance along with my pension/can collect my pension at age Y with no penalty. Those things aren’t really issues with defined contribution plans – you can just roll over the money from Company A’s 401K to Company B’s, so I think the LW is talking about defined benefit when they mention “pension”

    10. Orange You Glad*

      The only person I know in the US that is able to schedule long-term leaves of absence (not medical related just to get a break) works for a company with HQ in the EU. After I think 5 years of service he is able to take up to 3 months leave for no reason other than it being a benefit.

      1. Becky*

        My brother-in-law was able to take a 1 year sabbatical from his teaching job (public school system in Oregon) after I think 10 years of service. They guaranteed he would have a job when he returned, but it might not be the same job.

        He ended up not returning to the school district after the year, but he is the only person I have ever known personally to have the option of a sabbatical.

        (And he actually spent a year in another country teaching, not vacationing during his sabbatical year.)

    11. Sc@rlettNZ*

      I work at a university in NZ and it’s usually quite easy to apply for long periods of leave without pay – a year isn’t unheard of.

  26. Chimera*

    LW2 – If it is a sit down meal at a restaurant you could call them to ask about quantites. Chefs plan menu items by weight, if you call when they’re not busy and explain your situation they should be able to help. If it’s a catered platter of sandwiches at work you could probably discreetly weigh one in the office kitchen. I think the weighing of the food isn’t a big deal in itself, but if you have to make a mess of a plated meal at the table to do it that would be off putting.

  27. Elle by the sea*

    Well, the only scenarios I have seen where the year-long leave of absence was allowed was people going on maternity leave (I’m in the UK, for the record – I do know that maternity leave in the US is practically non-existent) or on a sabbatical in academia. Otherwise it’s rather unusual I think. I have also seen many people at our company quit the job (for various reasons) and return one or two years later, but I’m assuming that isn’t typical, either.

    1. Cat Tree*

      There are no laws mandating parental leave in the US beyond the 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA which can be unpaid, but it’s not accurate to describe as “non-existent”. Some industries offer quite a lot of paid leave, and it’s available to fathers too. Then there are some industries or types of jobs, typically low paying ones, that generally offer little to no leave. I’m not defending the system, but the inequality is the bigger problem here. Also, painting the US as a universally bad wasteland isn’t particularly helpful (aside from being inaccurate).

      1. Cat Tree*

        ETA: there are no *federal* laws (which is certainly still a problem), but some individual states have them. Again, the inequality is in itself a problem, but the country is not universally bad for everyone.

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

        Elle by the sea specifically says they know the know : maternity leave in the us is practically non-existent. They are not “painting the US as Universally bad wasteland”.

        This is in no way helpful to the OP. Let’s remember the #1 rule which is to be kind to letter writers and fellow commenters.

        1. Cat Tree*

          “Practically nonexistent” is incorrect though, when for example the standard in my industry is 20 weeks paid and up to 6 months unpaid and this applies to both parents. It’s weird to charactize that as “practically nonexistent”.

      3. Totally Minnie*

        Even FMLA doesn’t apply to everyone. I work for my state’s legislature, and legislative employees aren’t covered by FMLA or FLSA (the law that determines who is and is not eligible for overtime). Other people aren’t covered by FMLA because they haven’t worked the required number of hours to be eligible or because their company doesn’t employ the minimum number of people for FMLA to kick in. FMLA is the closest thing we’ve got to universal medical leave in the US, but it still doesn’t cover everybody.

  28. Green great dragon*

    The thing about letter 1 is that it appears leaving 4 minutes earlier (or even one minute earlier) would eliminate the vast majority of latenesses, so maybe it’s worth doing that? I agree it seems totally ridiculous to worry about 1 minute of lateness, but boss is, and sounds like leaving 4 minutes earlier would change the conversation from you being a few mins late once every week to being a few mins late once or twice a month.

    Definitely make sure your boss is aware that all these latenesses are less than 7 mins.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      #1 I would have left 10 minutes earlier after the first warning from the manager. The OP has now been told this was her “fourth and final” warning, so it sounds like she can’t be late even once now.
      We don’t know if the next incident would bring automatic firing or “just” a PIP with time-keeping as the specified imrpovement.

      So, to keep her job I’d recommend she asks her manager if being late 1-2 x monthly would be acceptable if she leaves home 10-15 minutes earlier every day and hence arrives a few minutes early nearly every day.
      If the manager answers that any lateness ever is NOK then she’d better leave an hour earlier – while (if possible) hunting urgently for a less obnoxious job.

      That tattling colleague is a toxic POS – and this is the type of reporting that I indeed class as “tattling” because it is so childish and spiteful.

      1. Leenie*

        I’m a bit unclear if the previous warnings were anything that a reasonable person would have recognized as actual warnings.

    2. EchoGirl*

      it appears leaving 4 minutes earlier (or even one minute earlier) would eliminate the vast majority of latenesses, so maybe it’s worth doing that?

      If the issue is an impassible obstruction like a train or a raised drawbridge or a complete blockage of the road, leaving four minutes earlier isn’t going to make a difference. It’s not like heavy traffic where the travel time is more or less predictable — the train is going to clear the tracks at the same time regardless (or whatever the obstruction happens to be), so unless OP gets there early enough to miss it altogether, they’re still stuck at that spot until the same time regardless (the time when the road is clear).

      1. Green great dragon*

        It took me a while to work through, but LW says that they’re seldom late by more than 4 minutes (but often late by 1-4 mins) so unless it’s a really specific timing thing, leaving 4 minutes earlier is all they need to turn late into early. They’re already leaving nearly enough time to deal with the obstruction but not quite.

        LW is leaving at 7.00 and on days when it’s a 15 min commute I guess they get there at 7.15 and hang out in their car till it’s 7.45 or 7.50?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m reading it more as “The commute is 15 minutes if there’s no traffic or delays, but I’m commuting at peak travel time.”

        2. Colette*

          I’m not sure they’re ever there at 7:15 – it’s possible that the morning commute is never the ideal timing. (I can make it to the other side of the city in 20 minutes on a Saturday morning, but it would be an hour or so if I tried it on any Tuesday.)

        3. GreenShoes*

          I don’t think the commute is often 15 min based on what the OP said. They leave at 7 am every morning and usually arrive between 7:45-7;55

          “every other day, I’m there at 7:55 at the latest, usually closer to 7:45-7:50.”

          I think this is one of commutes that under ideal conditions the miles driven at the speed limit would take 15 minutes

        4. EchoGirl*

          Emmy Noether below explained it better (with actual time examples) — just because OP is never more than four minutes late doesn’t mean leaving four minutes earlier would fix it. The train is going to clear the tracks when the train clears the tracks (or the drawbridge is going to go down, or what have you), arriving at the crossing/drawbridge/whatever four minutes earlier isn’t going to change that — it could easily just be four more minutes sitting at the same railroad crossing waiting for the train to clear.

    3. Emmy Noether*

      Not necessarily, because of the train tracks and the drawbridge. 4 minutes may make one be one car farther up in the queue, but if that train is passing by at 7:44 today, that crossing is gonna open at 7:49, whether you get there at 7:47 or 7:43. And if you’re unlucky, the train in the other direction passes at 7:51, so now the crossing stays closed between the two trains and opens at 7:56… Only solution is to go so early that every possible constellation of open/closing train tracks and bridges, slow vehicles and whatever, will still be fine.

      Personally, I’d check if there isn’t another, longer but more reliable route.

      1. CreepyPaper*

        All of this, because I get this every single day I go into the office with a level crossing that’s literally within sight of my building.

        There have been days where I’ve deliberately left early to avoid getting caught at the gate but then the trains are either early or late and I still get stuck.

        Thing is if people are late in in our office, our manager just looks at us and goes ‘get caught at the crossing?’ and our expressions apparently say it all! But then she’s pretty awesome, and wouldn’t get annoyed by us being late because everyone knows about the wretched crossing and nobody can avoid it. For us there is no alternate route but I second the advice of maybe looking for one.

      2. Lady_Lessa*

        Not saying it is LW1’s situation, but sometimes when it involves trains and railroad tracks you might not have alternatives. (Washington Post recently had an article about towns being cut off from emergency services by trains.)

        I live on the wrong side of the tracks and if a train is stopped (rare occurrence in the mornings), I would have to go about 15 minutes detour to drive the overpass.

        Two other things that have caused me to be significantly late are 1) a deer hitting my car and 2) a semi on fire right when I usually get on the turnpike. (I did call both times)

        A positive shout out to Ohio’s DOT. They are repairing/redoing a ramp where I get on and off, and it has not significantly changed where and how I get onto the toll road.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I used to work in a building that was right next to the railroad tracks. It didn’t really matter if I left 15 minutes early if there was going to be a train with 80+ cars going back and forth several times. I was going to be sitting at those train tracks for as long as it took. It was aggravating that I could literally see my workplace while I sat there, but there was no way to get there until the train passed.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          That’s kind of crazy about the emergency services. If there are potentially lives at stake, just dig a dang tunnel or build a bridge. I know they’re expensive, but there are worse ways to spend taxpayer money.

          1. Nina*

            My understanding (not in the US, I just read it in ProPublica the other day) is that the trains are being run illegally long and it’s not enforced. The train is too long to fit in sidings or stations, so it’s allowed to leave a mile or so of carriages laying out along the tracks anyhow, level crossings be damned. The solution there is not ‘dig a tunnel’, it’s ‘tell the train operators that if they don’t fit in existing infrastructure, they can’t run, and enforce some consequences’.

      3. Nina*

        Off-topic, but y’all have some long trains over there if they’re taking five minutes to pass a level crossing.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Yes. Long freight trains happen in Canada, too, though I suspect blocking entire small towns from ambulance services or school access is more illegal here. But being stuck waiting for a crossing train for 10-15 minutes is not at all unusual, and their schedule isn’t reliably a known thing outside the freight services themselves.

        2. Kate*

          I live in Portland, Oregon which has a pretty decent sized port. We have multiple areas around the city where a freight train will block a crossing for 15-20 minutes. Because it’s in the city, cars will get locked in by other cars and are unable to make a u-turn and try to get to the next available crossing a mile away.

          Both of my kid’s schools over the last 10 years have been on the other side of a major train crossing for at least half the people who attend the school. Most days it wasn’t a problem, but maybe once a month you got unlucky and everyone on the other side of the crossing was 25 minutes late to school.

          I also had an employee who lived on the other side of the interstate bridge (over the Columbia River), on a normal day she lived 15 minutes from our workplace. About every 7-9 weeks the interstate bridge would go up on her way to work and the subsequent backup would have her 30+ minutes late. She was a FANTASTIC employee and my very rigid company insisted that she was written up any time she was late like that (“company policy”) even though she had no time sensitive tasks, and could simply make up the time by staying later on the other end of her shift.

          Over the span of a year she got up to 4 “tardy” warnings and was on the cusp of termination per company policy; their suggestion was that she leave for work 70 minutes prior to her shift every day so that she wouldn’t ever be late. It was ridiculous and I tried to rewrite everyone’s job descriptions who did not have time sensitive tasks but the company wouldn’t budge. She was terminated 3 months later when the interstate bridge went up and was ten minutes late to work. It was awful, and I still think about it – she was one of the best employees that company ever had; she set records across the region, but “company policy” determined she was a poor employee.

          Yes, I’m still mad about it, 21 years later.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Given that they’re already describing at least a 20 minute swing in their commute time – not necessarily. It seems like they are already leaving considerably earlier than is needed most days.

      My commute is similar – it could be 15 minutes or it could be an hour and a half and the factors that go into that are myriad. You can plan for an important day, maybe, but every day the amount of time you’re losing to a commute – especially when you have it worked out enough that the “late” factor is so small – becomes a big ask for OP.

  29. Rosacolett*

    #1 I would call them out on the pettiness by asking for a meeting with your manager about what the real issue is as it obviously can’t be that you sometimes arrive at 8.01.

    1. ivy*

      That’s not obvious and following your advice is likely to get OP fired. Honestly, not taking previous conversations seriously may be why the boss is cracking down.

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

        Granted I wouldn’t call the boss out. But if I were OP I would pull all of the times and show them to the boss. Saying I clock inonly a few minutes late on these days. Is there a specific business reason why this is a problem.

        I’m thinking that the issue is the OP’s coworker who is reporting to the boss that OP is always super late. Combined with the few times where they have been later because of issues on the road like a semi on fire where they called saying they were going to be late. I’m hoping that if the OP takes Alison’s advice and calmly talks with their boss that he will see that it’s not a problem (unless they are coverage based then I can see the point).

        1. JSPA*

          If there’s a line of customers outside the door, looking at their watches (or even the phone line equivalent) then it matters.

  30. bamcheeks*

    LW2, lots of people are giving your suggestions on alternatives on weighing your food based on business norms, and I just wanted to say that this is a situation where *you* know your needs best and your culture, and I think you should spend some time figuring out what your priorities are and then do what feels most right to you.

    People are right that a lot of people won’t get it and it will look “weird”, but that’s true of tons and tons or medical and disability stuff. Someone has to be the first, and you find out who are the, “ok, huh, didn’t know that was a thing, now I do” people and who are the aggressive weirdos. That’s a reason to think carefully about what the consequences *might* be for you if you’re in a workplace that doesn’t have a lot of flex for difference and diversity, but not necessarily a reason for not doing it. If it’s important to you to attend, eat and use your scales in public, you should do that and feel good about yourself.

    If it’s important to you to attend the meal and eat but you don’t want to deal with the scales in public, I like the suggestions to contact the restaurant and figure it out with them. That might be going in and getting an understanding of their portion sizes in advance, or even having the waiting staff come and quietly let you know when your meal it ready so you can go to the kitchen and weigh it yourself discreetly rather than at the table.

    And it’s also ok to attend and not eat, or (if it’s a small enough group of people) to ask if there’s another way of holding this gathering. There are lots of reasons why people might not be able to participate in a business lunch, and it’s ok to be that person too.

    But I think the main thing is to figure out what *you* need to get out of it, and then cut your cloth accordingly. There often isn’t a perfect solution to lots of disability or health accommodations that lets you do something different from everyone else without experiencing any negative consequences, but that’s because people are just — not very imaginative in realising that people and their bodies have different needs. That’s something you need to take into account as you figure stuff out, but it’s not something you can always fix. You are the best person to figure out what the risks and benefits are in your specific situation.

    Good luck!

    1. Higgs Bison*

      This. Neck braces, wearable breast pumps, and physical therapy exercises also look weird to bystanders. That also is merely a reason to consider the risks and benefits rather than just dismiss accommodation as unworkable.

    2. Llama Identity Thief*

      I really like this comment, and I’m going to build on it (especially because I have nothing to contribute on alternate strategies to managing the underpinning issue.)

      It’s very important to consider your own company’s culture around more general DEI practices – not really how much lip service they’re giving to DEI, or what huge projects are going on in the space, but more traditional day-to-day “is this company inclusive” considerations. Do you know others who have some form of health issue or “outside the norm” behavior, and if so, are they treated normally? In addition, I’d hugely consider the level of political capital you have, both in general and specifically in the eyes of your grandboss. It’s the sort of thing where if you are already very well established as “LW#2, who always makes sure our TPC reports flow extra smoothly” or “LW#2, the person I can call on last second for emergency coverage,” you’re a lot less likely to have “weighs your food” become your defining characteristic.

      The question is, as bamcheeks very succinctly put it, would this be a case of “ok, huh, didn’t know that was a thing, now I do,” or a case of bananapants anger over being different. If, between your own political capital and a solid culture of acceptance running through your company, you can personally say your grandboss would Definitely Not Be Too Weird About It, then it can be one of those normalizing steps that’s good not just for you (in the sense of potentially having grandboss’ support if someone else is Too Weird About It in the future) but also for the community writ large (increasing understanding that this is a thing some people need to do.) But make the decision knowing that there definitely ARE people who will be Too Weird About It, and no matter how certain you are, you are making some amount of risk on your professional reputation, as absolutely bs as that fact is.

    3. MEH Squared*

      I agree with this comment and appreciate that you posted it. Some hills are worth dying on, and it’s up to the letter writer to decide if this is it for them. The strong negative response to the question can give them a general idea of how it may go over in general, but they know their office culture best.

  31. Lisa Vanderpump*

    LW1 – Are any of your coworkers unable to clock out until you clock in?

    1. Lisa Vanderpump*

      Also – do you have any coworkers who live nearby/have a similar commute? If so, maybe ask them what they do to show up on time?

      1. LW1*

        No to the first question. Second question is that there’s one guy who lives nearby, geographically, but doesn’t have the two sets of train tracks or the long one-lane stretch. He’s usually here right around the same time I am, sometimes a bit before, sometimes a bit after.

  32. tg33*

    LW1, I’m assuming there’s an error in your post. You say that you usually leave at 7:00 am for a 15 minute commute and usually arrive at 7:45 or 7:50. I take it from that your commute is closer to 45 mins?

    1. bamcheeks*

      LW says on a good day it’s 15 minutes, but presumably those are rare and 45 is typical.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Maybe they arrive at 7.15 and just read or listen to podcasts or something until it’s closer to 8.00? But I did find it odd that the commute varies so much, but LW’s frequently arrives 1 minute late but never more than 7.

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          do you live somewhere with lots of traffic? I live in suburban Atlanta. none of this sounds odd to me.

          1. Green great dragon*

            I do. And the swing from 15 mins to over an hour seems totally normal, but the bunching at the end (often over an hour but never more than 1 hour 7 minutes) is really weird to me. I’d expect if it was over an hour at least once a week, there’d be at least a couple of times in 3 months when all the things happen together and it’s more like 90 mins.

            1. bamcheeks*

              See, I was assuming that the trains at least were on a pretty regular schedule, and that there’s typically a delay of 5-10 mins for each one at that time in the morning. If either of the trains are late or extra long, it can be up to 15 minutes. Worst case scenario it’s both of them AND a wait at the drawbridge. If you get lucky and somehow miss both of them, it’s only 15 minutes, but that’s a rarity.

        2. The OG Sleepless*

          They had me at “drawbridge.” I don’t see how anybody whose commute includes a drawbridge can predict how long their drive to work will take. They don’t even go up on a schedule in some places; a container ship appears and suddenly, everybody is stuck on the bridge for half an hour.

      2. Samwise*

        If 45 minutes is typical, then OP is not actually leaving early enough. Leave 10 minutes earlier. On the rare days that it’s the ideal 15 minute commute, do something enjoyable with the time remaining til checkin (I’d take a walk or go to a nearby cafe; OP may have other ideas)

      3. LW1*

        Correct, yeah, if everything goes perfectly I can be here in 15 minutes. Usually it’s closer to 35-40, so leaving an hour early gives me ample time to be here 15-20 min early most days.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      I took that to mean that she walks into the office at 7:45. She may go get breakfast nearby or sit in her car for the extra time. She mentioned this timing just because it was the time that she is in work. Sure, she was 1-minute late that week, but everyone could see her already there when they arrived at 7:57 every other day that week. When she actually arrived to the parking lot doesn’t matter to her co-workers if she doesn’t walk inside yet.

  33. JustKnope*

    LW 2, is this a 1:1 lunch with your skip level or a group thing? If it’s just the two of you, can you mention that health stuff makes eating out hard, and you’d like to do a coffee meeting instead?9

  34. Rachel*

    1: I think it’s important that you called your manager a few times you were late. This means your manager know about your arrival time without a co-worker saying anything to them. It also means they know the range of arrival times that are off.

    It is at least possible that the manager saying “morale issues” is their way of saying “promptness is important to this culture.”

    I think the contributor is looking at this from the perspective of one co-worker definitively and absolutely talking about their arrival time to a manager and the manager acting on this report alone. I acknowledge that could be happening. I think it’s at least possible the manager likes promptness on their own accord, drawbridge or no drawbridge.

    It is also possible other people asked to leave 10 minutes early for child care pick up or something and it was denied, so the office culture is to really watch the clock.

    All that being said: I agree that a 10 minute grace period, in most office settings, is appropriate and certainly appropriate here. I hope the contributor achieves that, I just wouldn’t advise them to lead with the assumption, even just mentally, that somebody in the office has it out for them.

  35. Seeking Second Childhood*

    For those wondering about trains, please be aware that in the US, cargo trains can be MILES long. And there’s currently little to no regulation about them blocking roads while they are stopped.

    The Washington Post recently reported on a community with ONE railroad crossing as its exit. Buildings have burned down and people have died because emergency services couldn’t get across. In one tragic case, the EMTs literally crawled under a parked train to respond, then couldn’t get back to the ambulance with the patient because the train had started moving.

    All that to say OP probably knows if there’s an alternate route.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I worked somewhere with a Traveller camp that was accessed by a road across a railway track, and they needed to close the road for some major maintenance work with scheduled times for it to open. There was a lot of consultation about how to handle things like ambulances and other emergencies. It’s a remarkably complex issue, I’d never really thought about it before as I’d always lived in towns.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      And then adding a drawbridge into the mix!

      I imagine something like crossing the river on the South Side of Chicago, only without the benefit of public transportation for the LW. So, similar amounts of boat & freight traffic, but in a smaller community. And if your commute takes you across a drawbridge, you probably don’t have a good alternative route.

    3. Phony Genius*

      That’s right. Railroads actually own these crossings. While federal regulations dictate their design (how to install gates, signals, etc.), the railroads have control over operating hours. In fact, no such crossing exists without the permission of the railroad; they can tell a highway department “no” if they want to. (But they do want to be on the good side of government for many reasons.)

      And drawbridges are controlled by maritime law, which gives priority to any boat that wants to cross, as long as the drawbridge is staffed. (I live in a city that intentionally does not staff some drawbridges, so they open by appointment only.)

      In summary, if these trains and boats don’t follow any regular schedule, then LW’s commute is loaded with time risks. I know someone who moved because of this type of thing, but that is an extreme solution to the (probably) wrong problem.

    4. sometimeswhy*

      My first year of college, my bus crossed two cargo rail lines. I left so early that if I got caught by both, I was on time and was doing schoolwork on an empty bus; if I got caught by one, I had 30-45 minutes to kill before my first class; if I got caught by neither, I was in the not-exactly-open student union doing prepwork for a full hour and a half before class. The bus driver only let me pay my fare about half the time. It was A YEAR.

    5. Becky*

      Yup, I just recently read an article on ProPublica about stopped trains that children are climbing under in order to reach school:

      There’s a community in my area that is on the other side of the lake and there is one road that goes to that side of the lake. When there was heavy construction on that one road…you had hours of backed up traffic and people who just couldn’t get out of their community in any sort of timely manner.

    6. Kate*

      Yes, and it’s not just in rural areas.

      I live in Portland, Oregon and we have several points around the city where cargo trains block traffic for 15-40 minutes at a stretch, which then causes gridlock domino effects all over and you can not turn around and away when you’re stuck in these jams.

  36. Delta Delta*

    #3 – this might not totally solve the issue, but what about working remotely from the RV? If that’s an option (and there are lots of reasons why it might not be), that might be a possible solution.

  37. Long in the Tenure*

    Re: LW#3.
    I’m not sure what the conventions are in the US around long-service leave but a year off at that stage in one’s career does not sound too unreasonable. Legal entitlement where I am is generally 13-weeks paid leave upon reaching 10-years service. If someone wants to take longer, the extra time is unpaid and is depends on negotiation between the employee and employer over what works best for both.
    Practically speaking, a year’s leave it is not too different to taking parental leave. In that case, the employer would hire a replacement on a temporary contract. Again, this is all coordinated between the employee taking leave and their manager to allow time for training/handover etc.
    My suggestion to LW #3 is to broach the topic with their manager, find out what is needed to make it feasible from the employer’s perspective, and be prepared to make some concessions (e.g. cut the length of away time back to 10 months, or delay it until the Llama Project is complete).

    1. metadata minion*

      In the US, that type of leave is *extremely* unusual, and very industry-specific. If you’re in a profession where sabbaticals are a thing, you already know how the system works at your employer, and if not, you’re likely out of luck for anything except medical or parental leave. There are certainly awesome employers out there that are the exception, but a year’s leave just to travel with your job guaranteed when you get back is almost unheard of.

      It’s worth noting that parental leaves of a year or close to it are also sadly pretty unusual here, so we don’t really have the assumption of “oh, just hire a temp for a year”. Temporary employees are usually either for shorter-term medical/parental leave or for limited-duration projects.

    2. JSPA*

      there are very rarely contacts in the US, most jobs are “at will,” and hiring / firing is very flexible as a result.

  38. Ellis Bell*

    I’m kind of puzzled about OP1’s quotation that this is her “fourth and final” talking to about lateness. Does this mean that the boss is scolding her on every occasion of lateness, even after getting a message that there is a traffic incident? That really sounds bananas. I would definitely want to check what the boss has heard from the colleagues about how much time constitutes lateness (like are they thinking its half an hour, regularly or are they genuinely pissed off about minutes lost to traffic incidents). Other than that, I would probably be coming in so early it’s an easy commute, and using the time to do some job hunting while no one else is around.

    1. KateM*

      OP has worked there only three months, I wonder if this has something to do with it – they may think “if OP is already late at the start of employment when they presumably try to do their best, what will happen later”.

    2. Armchair Analyst*

      find out what’s really going on
      prevent the problem going forward
      resolve the root cause of the issue

  39. Zarniwoop*

    “two bumbling second-in-commands”
    Keep your resume out there. It sounds like these two have the capacity to destroy the business in short order if your boss were to become completely unavailable due to illness or the like.

  40. Silas*

    I would be unconcerned about someone being late 1-8 minutes unless they were replacing a graveyard shift worker. I’ve worked all night most of my life, it’s made significant, deleterious effects to my health and mental well being, and many times I couldn’t clock out until I was replaced by the next person.

    If my replacement was keeping me from home all because they couldn’t adjust their alarm clock ten minutes, that’d be on them 100% and it would be worth making an issue about.

    1. dourpuss*

      Any shift work is made worse by someone showing up/clocking late, regardless of the time. Kudos to working graveyard because I sure couldn’t do it, but all the morning crew people are equally as screwed when night shows up late or night when graveyard takes over etc.

  41. LB33*

    If I were the grandboss, I wouldn’t care if someone was weighing their food – not knowing about OA I’d assume they were dieting. I’d probably be curious and ask about it though

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      right but then that derails the lunch into diet talk or food talk which comes with its own awkwardness and feelings and appropriateness for the workplace as opposed to the set agenda or casual inclusive lunch planned.

      “I’d ask about” is a lot to cause at a work meeting and better to avoid that situation for a lot of reasons. a lot of great solutions on here to avoid that

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Yeah I suppose if I thought about it more I might realize it’s a food issue that could be a sensitive topic and shouldn’t ask. My point was that even if the grandboss didn’t care at all, it sounds too stressful for LW having to worry about others’ reactions, so probably better to not weigh at the table

  42. Another thought*

    LW1 – Not saying this is you, but I have seen employee-employer disconnects about when “on time” starts. Depending on the work environment and person, some folks may take 15 minutes or more between “walked in the door” and “actually starting work” (using the restroom, putting lunch in the fridge, chatting with co-workers, etc.) If the expectation is “in place, working” at 8, then that may mean walking in the door by 7:45. Of course if some of this is time you have to spend (say, logging into systems) that should be compensable time.

    I’d also second the possibility mentioned upthread that you may be giving yourself more benefit of the doubt than you realize and if you carefully tracked your arrivals/ready-to-work over time you might be surprised. I once had to let someone go for timesheet fraud, and I think they were genuinely surprised when presented with hard, specific evidence about how often and how severely they were coming in late but had logged an on-time start (far, far worse than you’ve described here, but the point is that *their perception* of the behavior was way less egregious that the actual behavior… and they were also leaving early, but that’s a story for another time).

    Finally, re: “petty”/tattletale co-worker. Are there certain first-thing-in-the-morning tasks that would normally rotate or be shared that wind up on co-workers plate when you’re not there? If, for example, there’s always a backed up queue of customers who are themselves grumpy and in a hurry that I have to start serving at exactly 8:00, and my co-worker consistently showed up just a few minutes late after I’d dealt with the rush, that would bother me a lot over time. Combine with #1 above (i.e., said co-worker regularly walks in the door at 8:02, but isn’t really on task until 8:10 or 8:15, that would bother me a lot). To me, this would explain both the “petty” co-worker and the boss who’s “ridiculous” about a “minute or two” of lateness, especially if it’s on the regular.

    1. Colette*

      Yeah, I’m wondering whether “arriving at 8:01” means ready to work or pulling in to the parking lot, because those are very different things.

    2. kiki*

      Yeah, at one of my first jobs a boss had to talk to me about timeliness because while I was rarely more than a few minutes late, I would often be running through the door at 9 on the dot, become a whirlwind of chaos to get situated, and then spend the first few minutes of my shift flustered and recovering. He said if there was an unavoidable conflict, he was happy to work with me so I could arrive at 9:05am, but otherwise I should really plan on getting in by at least 8:55 (if not 8:50) so I could settle in and have a calm start to my shift.

    3. Qwerty*

      I really like this comment because I have seen the disconnect play out as well.

      Some additional thoughts on it

      1) Is the *typical* commute 45min or 15min?

      The letter says it can be as low as 15min, but also that most days she leaves at 7am and arrives 7:45-7:50am, which suggests it unusual for it to be only 15min at that time of day. I can see the OP thinking they have budgeted quadruple the time for their commute for unusual circumstances, when it seems like the delays are actually the norm. Shifting the mindset from “best case time” to “typical commute time” will really help with planning.

      2) New-ness means this may be the main thing the boss knows about OP

      OP knows they are a good worker, but the boss doesn’t have this this track record yet. Staying late could even be backfiring – boss might think they are staying late to make up for arriving late (thus making the 5min delay seem larger) or that they are struggling with their workload. The regular lateness, even though it is just a few minutes can feel more frequent or larger to the boss when there isn’t a lot of other info to balance it out. They haven’t built up the reliability and dependability with their coworkers that comes up with time. So when the asks “how is doing?” to the team, the response might be “fine, but she’s late a lot” because their main memorable interaction is OP rushing in once a week while they are calmly working at their desks. A year in, that sort of thing would be less memorable than “she turned around the TPS reports in record time”

      3) This is the “fourth and final” conversation – how did the previous three go?

      It is possible that OP didn’t realize the first three were warnings. But I’d also ask OP to really think hard and consider if they blew off the previous conversations and subconciously downplayed them due to *OP* not thinking a few minutes late were a big deal. Not taking it seriously then affects the boss’ perception and now the boss thinks there is a bit of attitude problem as well.

      The conversation that Alison is suggesting is one that would have been really helpful to have the first or second time the boss talked to OP about lateness. If you don’t think a few minutes is big deal, then it would be helpful to *ask* when it is named as an issue – OP might not even know that being 5min late causes an issue for someone else. Opening the dialogue earlier would have been good about the commute is usually 15min but once a week can take an hour – it still needs to happen, but in the future the sooner the better to get on the same page

    4. Heffalump*

      One of my community-college instructors once worked for a company where if you were late three times, you were immediately fired and had 20 minutes to clean out your desk and be gone. As I understood it, the tardies never “dropped off” your record. I’m glad no employer of mine has had that attitude.

      1. Late, Who’s Late?*

        I worked at one place that gave me an ultimatum—never be late again or you’re fired. Never. Ever. No grace period, no “Until next year” or anything. That was the day I started job hunting. Even though my punctuality has greatly improved, (and I completely admit I had a big problem with being on time) there’s still car wrecks and things that will make you late eventually.

  43. Irish Teacher*

    LW4, I once found something far more potentially stigmatising about a colleague online than what you’ve said can be found about you. Think something along the lines of a spouse/child in prison sort of thing. I do not know how many others of my colleagues know, but I would guess at least some do as it’s fairly readily available. (I pretty much stumbled upon it; I wasn’t trying to find out about this colleague.) Nobody so much as mentions it and this colleague is very highly respected.

    I think if anybody thinks less of you because you had a relative who died and you raised money for them, then…honestly, that probably isn’t somebody you want to work for. I have two other colleagues who have been in the position of gofundmes being organised for close relatives who were ill/had disabilities and our workplace often shares these on our internal e-mail, etc.

  44. pally*

    #1: Your experience seems extreme to me. But then I don’t know the nature of the job.

    Your narrative makes me wonder:

    What does your employee manual say regarding the company’s tardiness policy? Generally, the employee manual will state what constitutes tardiness- and what the discipline process is if this is violated.
    Does the employee manual indicate that 1 minute late is an issue?
    Is this tardiness policy being adhered to by your manager?
    And is this “fourth and final talking to” per the employee manual policy on tardiness?

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

      Anyplace I have ever worked, especially if there was a strict clock in time, they always had a leeway of 5-7 minutes. I’m not sure if this was legal or if it’s just a coincidence. Maybe look to see if there are any labor laws about clocking in late.

      1. pally*

        Exactly! One place I worked, the time clock would mark us ‘late’ if we punched in 1 second beyond the start time. But this was ignored. The employee manual indicated that we had up to 5 minutes after the start time to punch in with no consequences (could not punch in early).

  45. TechWorker*

    I do weigh most of my food, although not at restaurants.
    To all those saying it’s a really bizarre thing to do and you would judge someone doing it in public – there *are* medical conditions where you literally have to do that.. I know someone with PKU and she does bring a weighing scale to restaurants because eating too much protein is very dangerous. Perhaps considering those people will help in feeling less judgemental of cases where in theory there should be other options too…

    1. Nightengale*

      I have type 1 diabetes and I weigh most of my foods including sometimes at restaurants. I have a little pocket scale. It is good for things like bread or fruit, not so much for a plate of something prepared like rice. I haven’t used it with coworkers although I might depending on the circumstance.

      1. NeedRain47*

        this is what I’m worried about for LW- are they going to remove each individual item from the serving plate to weigh it? It just seems like it can’t be done without a big production, multiple dishes, etc. The way society judges anything around food or weight is so bad, I can’t decide if LW is better off doing what she needs to do with the scale, or trying to avoid the stigma that will doubtlessly be attached to doing so.

  46. a tester, not a developer*

    LW#2 – is there any way you could go have lunch at the restaurant a few days or a week in advance and bring your scale? That way you’d know that you can only eat half the chicken on the chicken salad, or that the pecans are actually candied pecans.

    I’ve been known to ‘pre-eat’ places so I can a) ask all my ingredients questions in advance, and b) make sure what I’ve selected does not give me gastro distress an hour later.

  47. Modesty Poncho*

    LW#2, please don’t weigh your food in front of other people =/ As a fat person who’s dealt with disordered eating, seeing that would make it incredibly hard for me to eat anything. I know intellectually that your food intake has nothing to do with mine.

    But I would spend the whole time worrying that if you’re so food-conscious that you can’t take one business lunch off without the scale, you might judge my food. I assume I’d have already ordered by the time you did this, so I’d be sitting in front of my nice meal terrified about whether I can eat something starchy, or fatty, or caloric, without creating an image of myself in your head. It’s all my own issue! But it’s not an uncommon one to trip in people.

    I agree with Alison, call the restaurant ahead of time and find out what you can order that fits your needs. They may even be willing to work with you on something off-menu!

    1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      I relate to this but I’m not sure that it’s reasonable to ask other coworkers (who may also be managing disordered eating; the LW is in an “overeaters” group after all) to prioritise that over doing what works for them.

      1. Modesty Poncho*

        You know what, that’s very fair.

        I keep thinking about this and it may just be a kind of dueling accommodation thing…like, if I pass out at the sight of blood, and my diabetic coworker needs to check their blood sugar, the best solution may just be that we don’t eat together, but neither of us are doing anything wrong.

        LW2, I will also say, I think many of my issues would go away if you let me know in advance….which also isn’t a perfect solution. But perhaps a head’s up, either ahead of time or when we all sat down, “Hey just so you all know, I have a medical thing that means I have to weigh my food,” that would let me know that you don’t think it’s normal, which means you aren’t judging me for how much I’m eating. If I did think that being around it would trip my own issues, that’d also give me a chance to excuse myself to the bathroom when food arrived, or otherwise be prepared to just smile and look at the wall instead of your plate. I don’t know if that’s a helpful second thought for you.

        I do wish you the best.

  48. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

    With no contract or union collective agreement, most employers won’t be keen on a one-year unpaid absence. It’s unfortunate.

    I agree with an earlier poster to ask for a shorter leave – that might be better received. I remember a coworker to took a four to six month leave to cycle across Canada for charity and the employer granted the leave. But there was a general feeling that this was highly exceptional.

    Where I am, since we are unionized, we can take an unpaid leave for up to two years during which time the employer will keep the job for you and employment must be reestablished with the employer before the two years end. The leave must be approved first, of course.

    I’ve only seen it happen twice in my seven years here. One took a two-year leave to work for a different union as it had a job opportunities for her that our current employer did not. When she came back, right at the two-year mark, she was told there was no advancement opportunities for her, so she quit. (Which is a loss for us but /shrug)

    The other person took a one-year unpaid leave to follow her husband to the US (from Canada) due to his job change. While away, she took time to take care of postponed health issues, take a hard look at what she really wanted and found a job where she hoped to be happier and quit.

    1. Heffalump*

      Some years ago a coworker of mine was in the habit of taking unpaid leave to go traveling for a few months at a time. For a while she was using a photo of Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, where she’d recently been, as her Windows wallpaper. I didn’t work directly with her, but I understood that she was a very good worker. And then there was a change of management, and she was told, in effect, “If we could afford to be without you for long periods, then we wouldn’t need you at all.” At that point she found another job.

  49. ismis*

    LW#1 – I suggest you stop texting your boss if you are running a couple of minutes late.

    A few years ago, I worked in a call centre in a city where there were lots of public transport issues for a few months. I was usually at my desk 15 minutes early but my boss would start freaking out about coverage if people weren’t there 10 minutes before the lines opened, thinking they were about to call in sick.

    I thought I was doing a nice thing by pinging her if it looked like I would get there close to start time, but weeks later, she pulled me aside to talk about my punctuality! I think I was late (by three minutes or so?) maybe once in that whole time and there were a lot of colleagues who were late a few times a week. I think my texts put it into her head that I had an issue with punctuality. I figured her stress was her problem, stopped texting her, and she never pulled me up on punctuality again :/

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

      It sounds like the OP only lets the boss know when its more than a few minutes, like when there is an accident blocking the road and she won’t know how long it will take. OP says that it’s another coworker who is reporting her for being a few minutes late.

  50. Username required*

    LW1 – can you ask your manager why this rigidity around working hours wasn’t mentioned during the interview process? And see where the conversation goes ie if it’s “rules” or someone embellishing how late you have been.

    1. pally*

      Good point. If this was important to the performance of the job, it should have been stated during the hiring process.

      Might bring in the employee manual aspect as well. Is there a tardy policy stated in this manual?

    2. Ahnon4This*

      I’m not sure how this approach would help unless LW took the job because it was advertised as flexible. If LW has a start time, most people would assume that they have to be at the office at the start time, especially if they’re clocking in to a system like LW says they do.

      Honestly, it really does depend on the job like Alison said, and I can’t get a sense of what type of job this is. If they’re covering phones or the floor of say a sales place, a few minutes late CAN be detrimental to the rest of the staff, but if they’re just sitting down to do data entry, a minute or two shouldn’t be the end of the world.

      Like many cases on here, they need to talk to their boss about their concerns… and maybe leave even earlier for work. That might mean more down time before entering the building, but that’s great time for reading or watching videos :)

  51. Not A Manager*

    LW2 – I think people on here don’t fully understand that this is a treatment plan for a disorder, not a diet plan. I don’t know the possible consequences to you for not strictly adhering to the plan for one meal, but you probably do. If you feel that you are at risk of spiraling into unhealthy patterns if you don’t fully adhere to the plan, then you have to find a way to weigh your food.

    I like the suggestion someone else gave, to discretely speak to the server and basically excuse yourself immediately prior to the food’s arrival so you can weigh your portions elsewhere. Be sure that you have a tiny scale that fits into your purse. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to weigh one full portion of “food” or if you’re supposed to weigh all of the components of the food, but try to order something that you will be able to process and weigh quickly.

    If someone from your table spots you or asks questions, at that point you can say that for medical reasons you have to weigh all your meals, “otherwise there can be unpleasant side-effects.” Imply that you have some kind of medication interaction.

    If you’d like advice from a community that might have more understanding of disorders and how to work within treatment plans, check out the Facebook group “eating the food.” Their goal is to help people feel comfortable eating intuitively (in the more rigorous meaning of the phrase, not the current popular one), but they respect that individual people might have treatment plans or diet plans that are less immediately based on intuitive eating.

    1. Caroline*

      Another option – though it would involve a degree of trust of course – would be to get hold of the restaurant beforehand, figure out a suitable meal from their standard offering and get them to make sure that when her order is placed, the required weights for whatever needs to be weighed are adhered to. It could well be that certain things, such as salad greens or whatever, don’t need to be weighed, or that certain dishes lend themselves to easier, more accurate weighing than others.

      As long as it’s done in advance, I’d say most decent restaurants would do their best to accommodate.

  52. Betty Flintstone*

    I’m really torn on #1. Getting in trouble for being occasionally 1 minute late is petty and ridiculous. But I have so many questions – what is her job? I can think of jobs where this is pretty annoying. Also is she arriving at the office at 8:01 and then spending 10-15 minutes getting settled, putting her stuff away, getting coffee etc? I think it’s hard to evaluate with this limited amount of information – maybe her workplace is super petty, or maybe she needs to leave earlier because this is a real problem. I just can’t tell from this.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I agree with this. If it’s a question of doing things that start directly at 8, then arriving at 8:01 doesn’t work. If it’s more that you need to be on-site at 8 and working around that time, then 8:01 is entirely reasonable. Also, is the problem the boss caving to the micromanager or the micromanager or both?

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

      The op says she clocks in only a few minutes late. Everywhere I’ve ever worked (in offices) where I had to clock in like that it was on the computer, so you were already at your desk.

      1. Betty Flintstone*

        And of course, many people log in and then get up to get coffee, stop by the bathroom and brush their hair or whatever, put their lunch in the fridge, etc. I just think there is not enough information here to really assess how reasonable the manager is being, and I would ask OP to consider whether she is just technically 1 minute late but really starting work much later than that, or she’s actually working but 1 minute late. I have seen both situations over my career.

      2. amoeba*

        Not necessarily! We have an actual time clock next to the entrance that we clock in on with our badge when entering the building. We don’t have set start times, so no issues there, but when I have a meeting at 9.00 h and I clock in at 9.00 h, I will definitely be late to the meeting (because I need to drop my stuff/boot my laptop/start Teams or walk down to the meeting room…)

    3. Lenora Rose*

      There have been answers from OP: It’s not coverage based work or shift work, the time clock is on their computer so by the time they are clocking in they are seated at their desk and have been for a few minutes. This doesn’t answer about the coffee thing, but I think it can be safely read as “And no I don’t wander away immediately after”.

  53. heather*

    I actually think it would seem less strange for you to bring your own food. You could say, “I called ahead to let them know I’d be bringing this. I have such specific dietary restrictions for my health that it’s just easier than ordering food.” It will be perceived as odd but reasonable.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I’m sort of wondering why this meeting needs to be a meal-based meeting at all. If, for whatever reason, it needs to be, or OP can’t change the meeting to a “not lunch” meeting, I wonder if they could meet in a conference room with a lunch they each bring/are responsible for? That way OP can pre-portion their food, the boss can have what they want, and the meeting can happen.

      I’m not great with the idea of bringing one’s own food to a restaurant – most restaurants won’t let you do that, and it may look really weird for this kind of meeting.

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

        Not necessarily. If you call ahead and explain that you are part of X company that is eating and because of medical reasons would like to bring your own food I think many places would be accommodating. especially if this is a big company or a company that dines at the restaurant often. The OP could still order a drink, and if allowed leave a tip for the wait staff.

        1. Observer*

          Not necessarily. If you call ahead and explain that you are part of X company that is eating and because of medical reasons would like to bring your own food I think many places would be accommodating.

          Nope. By and large, these places CANNOT allow outside food in. It’s not that they don’t want to be helpful but there are often rules (eg health code) at play, so they can’t do that.

      2. heather*

        They often have a policy, but if you call and explain that everyone else in your party is buying food, but that you have “health restrictions,” most restaurants will accommodate that.

      3. blerg*

        Where I am, that’s not just a policy of restaurants, it’s a requirement by the health department. A restaurant here can’t serve any food that wasn’t prepared in their kitchen which the department has inspected and certified as safe, with the exception of prepackaged items (which were manufactured in an inspected facility).

        If they serve food that wasn’t made in their kitchen and it causes someone to get sick, they’re legally liable because they served it.

        1. Nina*

          If buying a packaged sandwich or salad or quiche or something (which literally has the weight written on the container) and bringing it along is an option, doesn’t that solve the whole problem though?

  54. Hannah*

    To lw #1: I was in a similar situation in a previous job, where someone would monitor the times I clocked in and out. In addition, I was riding public transportation and, in order to appease the time checker (not my manager), ended up staying extra (unpaid) time.

    It wasn’t a good deal. I reported it to HR. Eventually she was fired and I found a better job. The weird micromanagy dynamics made for a bad vibe.

  55. cantbebotheredtothinkofaname*

    OP 4. From the perspective of someone who has done a decent amount of hiring and always googles people I plan to interview.

    I am looking for the following:
    1. Any criminal convictions (wouldn’t necessarilly put me off depending on the conviction and whether it was declared).
    2. Does their social media presence contain racist/homophobic statements?
    3. Does their social media presence contain references to drugs, pictures of them smoking joints etc (cannabis is illegal in my country- not US I personally don’t care what people do in their personal time but putting it on the internet shows poor judgement).
    4. On the more positive side are there any awards/projects they were involved in I do not know about which make them a better candidate.

    I have found other stuff, positive stuff like wedding pics and negative stuff like parents’ obituaries etc. I do not bring it up. I only care about the stuff on the list above. And if I am googling 10 candidates one after another I am probably going to forget which irrelevant to my decision information goes with which candidate. I write down anything relevant I find but everything else blurs together after a while

    So yeah, they will probably see it but equally they are highly unlikely to bring it up to you (to do so would be a bit of a red flag in my opinion) and they may even forget it was you.

    I hope that makes you feel a bit better.

  56. RagingADHD*

    LW1, if it normally takes you 45-50 minutes to get to work, I think you need to reset your expectation of what a “good day” is.

    Sounds like a good day in morning traffic is 45 minutes, and a bad day is 1:10.

    1. LW1*

      Hi, yeah, I think I should have phrased the question a little differently – a GOOD day is 15 minutes, a NORMAL day is 25-35, a BAD day is 50+. So I tend to leave by 7-7:05 and usually walk in the door around 7:40.

  57. Good luck*

    #2 – As someone who has struggled with food and weight my entire life I will admit I am triggered by the responses and recommendations. I tried to walk away but am back with comments. Everyone needs to be more engaged in support.

    1st – Thanks for be honest that you would be distracted. Second, what can you do about it?

    If you are a manger, leader or in a position of company dinners and lunches, you own changing your mindset on this. You wouldn’t recommend a diabetic didn’t manage sugar levels and you would recommend someone with other medical issues not take the medication at a meal if it was required. You also wouldn’t recommend am recovering alcoholic to order wine and just ‘sip’ it.

    2nd -Weighing food is very common in many programs that include weight management and some other medical issues so advising someone differently is irresponsible.

    3rd – The comments about creating an unhealthy food habit are ignorant and narrow minded. Pretty sure is someone is in OA, they already have an unhealthy relationship with food and this is very common practice. You have no idea on where someone is at in their health journey so stop making such unnecessary comments.

    4th – Many medical providers, employee assistance programs and wellness initiatives that are paid for and supported by companies recommend this type of approach. If you are judging this as a leader or influencer in a company, you need to change your mindset and those around you. Learn more and learn how to be supportive versus being judgemental and distracted.

    For the poster: I recommend making a brief comment before your meal comes with something like ‘Just so you know, when my food comes, I need to weigh it.’

    If you want to share more, great. If not, keep it simple.

    1. Caroline*

      Or arrange with the restaurant before to be allowed to excuse yourself for a few mins just prior to serving and go weigh your food (or have them do it for you) before it gets to the table, semi-privately. Not secretly, but not so that it draws attention from your fellow diners.

    2. Melissa*

      Out of 360 comments, there is ONE which is a person warning about “unhealthy food habits.” Your third bullet point seems like a pretty major reaction to that one comment (which others have already pointed out is misguided, as the person is already in OA).

    3. metadata minion*

      “Many medical providers, employee assistance programs and wellness initiatives that are paid for and supported by companies recommend this type of approach. If you are judging this as a leader or influencer in a company, you need to change your mindset and those around you. Learn more and learn how to be supportive versus being judgemental and distracted. ”

      Sure, but many employee wellness programs and medical providers are *terrible* about food and weight. I agree that the LW should do what they need to for their own health, and I would never criticize an individual person for weighing their food, but “employee wellness programs do this too!” is a dangerously bad justification for doing anything.

  58. Feral FatCat*

    Yes, exactly what bamcheeks says here — you can be creative about what to do, but you can also just understand what your priorities are and if weighing your food and sticking to your program is most important, please put those first. Good luck!

  59. Caroline*

    OP2 / an alternative is to look at the menu first and home in on something that contains a lot of the foods you do not need to weigh (undressed salad for example, or vegetables or whatever). Assuming there’s something that fits well, make sure to order that. A different option is to figure out something likely to be mostly fine re your eating plan, and then actually call the restaurant and get some details about the approximate weights of the various components of the meal. Much better to do this well in advance, when no one is in a rush or on the spot, by email is best of all, gives them a chance to work it out and come back to you. At that point you simply order whatever most closely resembles your ideal meal. Best of luck. This is a tricky one, but part of re-establishing good eating patterns in ”the world”, hope it goes well!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Most likely they need to weigh everything, including vegetables and salad. This isn’t a diet plan.

    2. Observer*

      This is a perfect example of why I try to read the comments before I post, although I don’t always do so. And when I don’t it often comes to bite me.

      Which is to say that if you had read the comments you would have seen that this is not a useful comment at all. The OP does not have “free foods”. They need to weigh everything.

  60. Sirena*

    LW2 – I think what’s missing here is that the LW has a medical issue and weighing their food is part of managing it. It’s very important for someone in recovery from any addiction to stick to their plan.
    I would have said to check the menu first to see if there are any foods that will make weighing them less awkward, and then explain if anyone asks “Oh I know it’s a pain to have to do, but I have a medical issue that unfortunately requires it. So anyway, what did you think of that speaker?” If you’re in a workplace where you can, maybe flag it to your boss beforehand with the same wording and ask them to help you change the subject if someone (rudely) presses it.
    Treat it like it’s any other medical issue and this is not a problem!

  61. Victoria Everglot*

    LW2, the comments section has inadvertently proved why bringing the scale is a bad idea – people who don’t understand are just full of inapplicable advice. You probably don’t want to spend half your time answering to “deck of cards/eat greens/have you tried keto/my sister swears by this tea/etc” advice and you also probably won’t be comfortable disclosing an eating disorder or addiction. People get REALLY weird about that kind of thing (both weight and addiction issues) and it will affect how they see you, even though that shouldn’t be true. In fact, I think the fact that you are taking this so seriously is a major point in your favor, but a lot of people don’t see it that way. I wish you success!

    OP4 I’m sorry you’ve had so much hardship. Your situation is so far from unique that I highly doubt anyone will think about it at all, except for maybe feeling sympathetic.

    OP5 being a tattletale means reporting gossip for your own benefit. Simply being professional and matter-of-fact in tone will allow you to avoid tattling. Emailing someone on paternity leave to report that Jim is using 2 k-cups when you’re only allowed one would be petty tattling, but simply reporting the facts that the bumblers are skipping meetings and firing people is not. And you won’t be getting them in trouble, they’re getting themselves in trouble by being such bumblers.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “the comments section has inadvertently proved why bringing the scale is a bad idea – people who don’t understand are just full of inapplicable advice.”

      Yeah I’m pretty disappointed in people today.

    2. HR Friend*

      Thank you, I can’t believe I had to scroll this far to see this comment. LW isn’t asking for diet advice or help navigating their disorder. They’re gut checking the optics of this one specific tool they use, not asking for ways around using it.

    3. OP*

      Op#2 here – thank you so much for the support. I will try to weigh out a simple salad before the lunch starts at the restaurant and will eat the rest of my weighed lunch in the car. Fingers crossed.

  62. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    #2 – I think advance research of the menu as described in many comments here is your best option. Then to preserve the accountability, write down exactly what you plan to order, with it’s associated weights and info, in your notebook or whatever you use to track it and bring that with you so you don’t deviate from it.

    1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Also, make sure it is items that are on the menu every day so you don’t get “I’m sorry, we only have that on Tuesdays”.

  63. Usagi*

    OP3 it’s vanishingly rare for any company to hold a job for you for a month of unpaid leave, let alone a year! (Outside of FMLA obviously.)

    If you can afford to be without work for a year though, maybe for a year and a half considering that you’ll have to job search when you get back from your journey, I would recommend doing this, because it sounds like an opportunity a lot of people would love. Just plan for the fact that you will have to find a new job once you’re done.

  64. Pyanfar*

    LW1 – Early in my career, I got a new boss who called me in to gripe that I was 15 minutes late (for the first time in months, there had been a large accident that blocked all the highway lanes). I lifted a hand into a stop sign and explained that before he continued he should consider that, if he wanted me in my seat on time, no matter what, I would happily comply. But that the consequence would be that I would get up and leave, on time, no matter what from then on. That if he expected me to be flexible with the ending time/working through lunch/coming in on my off Fridays, that I expected a little flexibility when things were outside my control. I then put my hand down and asked he had anything else for me? He said, no, thank you, have a good day! In retrospect, I’m shocked that I didn’t get fired on the spot! (But I did start looking for a new job anyway!!)

  65. umami*

    LW#1: Is it possible to track your commute before leaving home to see if there are any issues to anticipate on a given day? It’s a shame that you are being penalized for a mere minute or two of lateness, but if your boss/colleagues are never late, it could be that they are assessing their commute daily and adjusting, so they don’t see why you are not able to do the same. If you can say that you check your commute and make every effort to leave in advance when there are traffic issues, but at times the commute is clear when you leave and circumstances change along the way that you can’t anticipate or control, then that could help put them in their place.

    Sometimes, just communicating well with your supervisor can help. I had a direct report whose job actually did need to start precisely at 8 am, and she routinely was having issues getting to work on time because of her commute. When I talked to her, her issue was the route she was taking was unpredictable even though it was usually the fastest route. So I told her to use an app to check for the best route before leaving, and the problem was mostly resolved. We then cross-trained some staff to be able to cover for her on those rare days she’s just … late, like every single one of us is at times. She can text me her arrival time on those days so I can make sure someone covers the front desk until she gets there.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I track my commute and it doesn’t account for things like OP is describing. My commute has a drawbridge, and no apps ever know when it’s going to be up. I don’t have the kind of train tracks OP is describing so I can’t speak to that, but I’d assume it’s similar. The unpredictability of passing trains is a known issue for commuters, emergency personnel, and so on.

      1. umami*

        That was kinda my point – if there is a route that does not have a train in the way (I’m using that example because we have that issue where I work, but there also are several routes that will take you over the tracks and avoid the train issue altogether), then maybe try that route. But if you are married to a particular commute that can be unpredictable when other routes exist that others are using successfully, I would try that first. If there is something in the way no matter what route you take, then OP can’t be the only person being impacted. If someone keeps saying they are running late because of the train, my response is going to be to take the route that … doesn’t go over the train tracks.

      2. blerg*

        I’ve heard that some drawbridges on US inland waterways operate on a schedule but most have to open on demand for river traffic. A large ship or barge is basically impossible to stop and go at every bridge so they blast the horn as they approach and the bridge opens for them.

    2. NeedRain47*

      Sometimes there isn’t an alternate route to take, which I’m guessing is the OP’s case if they have to use a one lane road for four miles. Freight trains don’t operate according to any schedule the public can get ahold of. Apps are good if you’re driving in a major metropolitan area but not so much for the rest of us.

      1. umami*

        Then I would ask others how they are getting to work if they have a similar commute, because presumably OP is the only one not getting there on time? Right or wrong, OP’s boss is giving them an ultimatum, so there must (hopefully!) be something that will help them get to work on time even with their difficult commute.

        1. NeedRain47*

          The only way to ensure that you’re NEVER late is to leave so early that you waste a lot of time sitting around waiting to start. I’ve worked in places that were this rigid about arrival times and there’s literally nothing you can do but quit. They care more about their policy being followed to the minute than about keeping good workers.

          1. umami*

            I would just say that sometimes the rigidity is necessary depending on the position. I do have just one position that really has to be manned exactly on time for various reasons. That position is not going to be a good fit for someone who cannot regularly be on time. I actually had that situation with one person in the role and I completely understood, but the job is the job. I encouraged the person to apply for another role in my division that did not have that requirement; they did and got it, and they do a great job and can have the flexibility they need. I definitely agree that NEVER being late is simply not possible, so I would definitely leave a place that was that rigid.

  66. Weaver of Wisdom*

    LW4: I’m ever so sorry that your lost a family member this way, but please rest assured that your having coordinated a Go Fund Me campaign to help with their medical bills will NOT come across to a future employer as anything but demonstrating your caring, compassionate nature and your ability to put your kindly concern into action that produces real, helpful results. There’s no way that this will be seen as a negative! Alison is right; chances are that this tragic episode won’t come to the attention of any potential employer, but even if it does it will almost certainly NOT become a topic of discussion in an interview.

    LW5: Please be sure to document (in as neutral language as possible!) the details of every meeting scheduled with Tweedledum and Tweedledee (aka your boss’s bumbling seconds-in-command); if there’s an agenda or a topic that’s supposed to be addressed at that meeting, include that too. If Dum and Dee then fail to show up, document how long you waited for them before concluding that you had to return to your own work. Documentation is your friend!

  67. I'm Just Here for the Cats!*

    #2 I’m not sure but are you going to a restaurant? If you are able could you and your husband go to the restaurant a few days earlier and then you can order something and weigh it while you are there. Then you can order the same thing and have an idea of what the weight is.

    If you can’t do this beforehand, could you call the restaurant or go a bit early and talk with the wait staff to see if, before the food comes to the table, you could go to the kitchen or something and weigh the food yourself? This way you are not doing it at the table, which could be triggering to people who have other types of eating concerns.

    If you are having some sort of catered lunch, not at a restaurant, you could talk to the caterer and ask them if you could weigh your portions before being served at the table.

    1. nnn*

      I think this would be the most effective way to balance getting the information you need and not giving a negative impression, although whether it’s feasible financially/logistically/health-wise will vary depending on the specifics of OP’s situation.

      Another option might be to order the same meal for takeout or delivery (a lot of sit-down restaurants are on the apps these days). Then you could weigh it in the privacy of your own home, and also portion it out to get multiple meals out of it, thereby easing the financial impact (if, of course, it’s safe health-wise for OP to have restaurant leftovers around the house)

    2. OP*

      op #2 here – that’s what I will try to do- have them weigh the salad right before the lunch starts, or do it myself, if they let me. I can’t order a few days early and assume it will be the same next time. I have to weigh it right before eating …
      Fingers crossed it works out!
      Thank you so much for the advice and support

  68. Lily Potter*

    If, when you are “on time” at work, you’re at your desk and ready to work at 8:00 (as opposed to pulling into the lot at 8:00 or puttering around with your co-workers, the restroom, etc until 8:10 as noted above), coming in a few times at a few minutes after eight is way too micromanage-y. Use Allison’s script above with your manager to get clarity as to what’s going on. Regardless, it sounds like you’re on really thin ice at the moment and need to start leaving home earlier, even if it means arriving earlier. If it works logistically, start doing errands in the morning once you’ve cleared the drawbridge……put gas on the car, pick up a few groceries. If that isn’t feasible, bring a book to read in a coffee shop or in your car. Long story short, your boss is allowed to have expectations and you have to meet them if you want to keep working there. The expectations may be redious and bananapants, but at least this one is clear cut.

  69. Michelle Smith*

    LW3: If you can make it work financially and are willing to apply for new jobs towards the end of your year period, please, please take your year trip. Consider framing it as a sabbatical on your resume, if that doesn’t imply you’re still employed. That sounds like a once of a lifetime opportunity and you should absolutely try to do it if you can.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Yes! I have spent a lot of time traveling on my motorcycle. Twice now, I’ve met what I call “Up men.” In both cases, they had made tons of plans to travel with their wives, only to have their wives pass before them. Please take the time.

  70. I should be working*

    I worked at a company that would allow employees to take up to 8 weeks of unpaid time off, and would hold your job for you (assuming you got manager approval). I think this policy came into being because one employee requested it, and they realized that it would take 8 weeks to go through the hiring process for her replacement (at least!) and that it was better to just figure out how to cover her tasks while she was gone, sincethe policy assumed that employees would give plenty of notice. I also assume they capped this at 8 weeks for a reason– any longer than that and it becomes impractical to cover.

  71. Mim*

    I am curious about what the commute is like for LW1’s co-workers. Is the reason for your unusual and unpredictable commute the location of your workplace, or is it more about where you live? I ask because if your place of employment is located such that many of the employees have a commute similar to yours, this feels like something that the employer has faced before, and should have flexibility around. Even if it’s the type of workplace where people need to be on time to unlock doors or answer phones, there should be some back-up plan if it’s a known issue that a common commute route leaves many employees with the choice of being 45 minutes early for fear of being 1 minute late.

    I mean, if your position doesn’t objectively require being there at a certain time, that whole consideration is besides the point. But really, it feels like a big problem if the business model requires people to be there at a certain time, but hasn’t built in a way to deal with the difficulty of hitting that target. It feels unreasonable to ask anyone to leave the house 1 – 1.5 hours before their clock in time if their commute could be as short as 15 minutes. Are you allowed to clock in early, if you happen to get there an entire hour early? Or do you have to waste your time sitting around in your car doing nothing?

  72. Zarniwoop*

    “the other is incredibly two-faced, power-hungry…”
    Get all interactions with him in writing and DOCUMENT! That’s not “tattling”, it’s CYA.

  73. kiki*

    LW 1 This is based off of my own experience with commuting and tardiness, so if it doesn’t apply to you feel free to ignore. I had a commute similar to yours where it could take 20 minutes but it could also take over an hour depending on factors outside my control.

    My boss took me aside one day to talk about my frequent tardiness and I was frustrated because it was really my commute’s fault! I was leaving on time! But when I looked at the data of how long my commute was really taking most days, it became more apparent that I should have started leaving 10 minutes. That 20 minutes that it “should” take stuck in my mind so I thought by leaving 45 minutes early I was leaving a whole 20 minutes early. But realistically, during certain seasons, I needed a solid hour to get to work and make sure I was on time.

    It’s frustrating because commute time feels so wasted, to me at least, in later jobs, I prioritized living within walking distance of work and now have moved to a remote role.

    1. Lily Potter*

      Kiki, I’d imagine that your boss’ reaction to “It’s my commute’s fault!” was something along the lines of “Your commute is your business. Just do what you have to do to get here on time.” Employers rarely care about traffic, your daycare dropoff time, your bus schedule, or whether you’d have to leave 20 minutes earlier to be assured of being at your desk on time every day . A decent employer will show some grace for unusual circumstances but not when nearly every day is a predictable emergency.

      1. kiki*

        To be clear, I didn’t say that aloud! That was my internal reaction. And I definitely realize my commute is my business and take full accountability for that, but I wanted to share because I know it’s easy to get it stuck in your head, “Ahhh, my commute was just bad today. It was just a one-off.” It can become a frog in boiling water situation where it should have become clear that the commute is now frequently this bad and you have to plan around it, but the change was gradual or happened in such a way that you think it will revert to how it was before.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      This is good general advice, but based on OP’s report of what late means (a 1-2 mins on occasion, while almost always early), this doesn’t appear to be the issue.

    3. londonedit*

      Yes; I think some ‘always late’ people are late because this is the way their brains think about time. Their commute *should* be 20 minutes, so they leave 20 minutes before they need to start work, and they can’t quite wrap their heads around the idea that while in an ideal world (or on a quiet afternoon with no traffic) their commute should take 20 minutes, in reality they need to allow 45 minutes just in case of traffic/train trouble/weather etc. Of course, there are always going to be occasional ‘OMG I can’t believe it took me an hour to get to work, that’s ridiculous’ days, but those should be rarities rather than ‘I can’t understand why I’m always ten minutes late, I leave on time every morning’. If you’re regularly ten minutes late, then your definition of ‘leaving on time’ needs to change.

      1. Late, Who’s Late?*

        Ahhh. It’s like you’re in my head. I think you’ve hit on my problem.

        My commute takes 22 minutes at 530 am on a Saturday. (I’ve had to be at work that early on a weekend before).

        In the summer/when there’s no school, it’s usually just under 30 minutes.

        On a normal day, with regular traffic, it’s more like 30-33 minutes.

        I leave usually 30 minutes before work every weekday, sometimes later, because it SHOULD only take 22 minutes. It never does.

        Maybe I can wrap my brain around this, after seeing it written out.

    4. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      This. I am TERRIBLE at estimating how long things take. So while I would know it takes me 20 minutes from door to door, I would not think about how I might need 2 minutes to find my keys, quick want to use the bathroom, the building elevator might stopping on every floor randomly, and I might JUST miss a subway train (but they come every 5 minutes!) and suddenly it’s 45 minutes between “Ok, off to work” and getting to the office. It took a while to realize I need to plan to be out the door before the clock hits 8:20 to get to the office between 8:55-9:10 and not 8:30 (even though that FEELS like a 10 minute cushion on a 20 minute trip) and if it’s 8:16 and I am ready to go, I should LEAVE and not look for a quick 4 minute task.

  74. ferrina*

    LW 3- My mom did something like this. In her case she was leaving a career that she didn’t really like. She quit her job (on good terms) then travelled the U.S. for 3 months. After that she took another 7 months fixing everything around her house (there was a lot) and applying to jobs. She was a bit picky, so she knew her job search would take at least 6 months.

    What if you took a 6 month travel break, then 6 months looking for jobs? If you are a hardcore road tripper, you can see most of the U.S. in 6 months (make separate trips for Hawaii and Alaska). Even if you are a moderately-paced roadtripper, you can still go from Florida to California to Washington to New York in this time. Definitely make sure you have a financial safety net in case the job search takes more time than you think (my mom had a safety net of a year after she returned from travel)

  75. Veryanon*

    In my last job, I worked for a manager who tracked *all* my comings and goings (I was also a manager, FWIW). If I wasn’t sitting at my desk for whatever reason, she felt she needed to know about it, whether it was because I was in a meeting, or in the bathroom, or whatever. She seriously kept track of how often I went to the bathroom. I wish I was kidding. So I made it a point to start emailing her whenever I left my desk – “going to lunch now!” “going to a meeting now!” “going to the bathroom now!” She hated it that I left my desk to eat lunch in the lunchroom. She hated it that sometimes I would walk outside on my lunch break. I was supposed to be chained to my desk for 8 straight hours. If I came in at 8:31 or left at 4:59, I was sure to hear about it.
    Needless to say, this was incredibly demotivating and I found another job as soon as possible. I still have PTSD about the brief time I worked there.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The thing I don’t understand about managers like this – do they know people can be VERY unproductive at their desks? Sitting there staring into the void does not produce results of any kind.

      1. Veryanon*

        Exactly! I eventually started spending most of my desk time looking for another job!

  76. El l*

    Put yourself in good faith in the shoes of the manager who has to decide on your request.

    You have to allocate staff resources, honor commitments, and make sure work is getting done at commensurate levels.

    For a 2-3 week vacation every year? Sure, it’s a reasonable ask for you to shift others’ time to cover the employee’s project and/or press the pause button on some sub-projects.

    For a full year? That’s entire annual cycles and entire top-to-bottom projects. Can’t just ask your other employees to cover temporarily, that’s no longer temporary. Can’t just press pause on a project, realistically you’ll have to reject the project. A year is “we need to hire someone to cover for them” territory.

    That’s why the answer is no.

    Look, not saying “don’t do the year.” But do ask whether you’re willing to walk away from your job to do it. Knowing little about your situation, think seriously about leaving; You’ve been there a while and perhaps you’re due for a shake up to your career, and it’s very possible you may change your priorities after your year.

    But only you can answer that, and it’s reasonable that that’s what it’s going to take to do this.

  77. May Bee*

    LW1, I’ve worked for this type of boss before. In my experience, bosses who are this level of ridiculous and inflexible on issues that are their personal bugbear but are completely irrelevant to the job (eg: being “on time” at a job where it doesn’t matter) need to be avoided, because they tend to lean towards micromanaging and bullying. The is likely to just be the tip of the iceberg.

  78. Donkey Hotey*

    I totally empathize. I was in a similar situation when I moved to a Large Coastal City and started working at a bank. In my case, they said they encouraged bus use but the bus was unaware that long distance buses don’t always run on time. My normal bus would get me there 15 minutes early, but occasionally a few minutes late. There were others in the bank and no bank rushes at 9am. After the PIP, they said my options were buy a car or take the next earlier bus, which 9 days out of 10 would get me there 45 minutes early. Imagine my surprise when the financial institution I worked for denied my used car loan because I was on a PIP!

    (There’s more there but I’ll leave it at: Regardless of busybody coworkers, I’d believe them about the warning, start coming in early, and start buffing your resume/looking.)

  79. BellyButton*

    I can’t get over that someone covering for someone on a short 4 week leave is allowed to fire 2 people. When I have had people covering for me, they didn’t have any real authority, they were there just to answer higher level questions and to sit in on meetings for information purposes.

  80. Zarniwoop*

    Can you ask for mild flex-time? (Something like +/- 15 minutes arrival/departure times, min 40 hours/week)

  81. Somewhere in Texas*

    LW #2- Could you call ahead of time and have the kitchen do weights for you? Or have them box half of the meal to weigh later?

    LW #4- Any chance you can pay to have your personal website show up first in search results? Or you can preemptively share your website address so they aren’t searching for it.
    I also wonder if you can archive the GFM or shorten your name for anonymity?

  82. Anonforthis*

    Weighing food is very common in many programs that include weight management and some other medical issues so advising someone differently is irresponsible

    Yes, it is indeed. But most people – even those who track food closely – generally ‘estimate’ when they eat out. Whipping out scales in a restaurant is so far outside of the social norm as to detract from the entire lunch meeting and would be wildly out of whack with normal professional behaviour.

  83. Sunny days are better*

    LW #2 : I know only too well how hard it is to deal with food on a daily basis.

    A thought for you:

    A few years back, my team went out for lunch which included a new intern. It turned out that the intern has a severe gluten allergy and did not eat or drink anything at all. (This was how we found out about the allergy).

    Might this be an option? Just not to eat? I would not suggest lying about a severe food allergy – which could come back and bite you – but just say something like “I’m not having anything, thank you.” Perhaps you could order a drink, or stick with water.

    If prompted by the others at the table “to just have something!” You can just respond with “I’m fine, no worries here,” and change the subject.

    1. Zee*

      I’ve done this a handful of times when I’ve gone out in larger groups. Whoever sat near me might ask once “you don’t want anything?” and I’d just say “I’m not hungry right now” or “I had a big breakfast” or “I have plans later” or something like that, and they didn’t bother me again.

      BUT it sounds like the lunch may only be with one other person? In which case it would be very, very weird to sit and stare at the other person eating by themselves. And if OP says they’re not eating because of a medical reason – which is a legitimate thing to say – the other person may wonder “well why did you let me schedule a lunch meeting with you when you knew you couldn’t eat here?”

      1. Sunny days are better*

        If they are only meeting with the boss’s boss and they ask that question, I might just answer:
        “I’m sorry, I didn’t feel comfortable contradicting your plans. But really, I am fine and I’m glad that you invited me here and I am very interested in hearing what you would like to discuss with me….”

  84. Pigeon*

    #4- I understand how anxiety-inducing it could be, going into an interview wondering if you will be asked about that sort of information. But if there’s a silver lining, it’s that you have excellent red-flag detector…if a hiring manager or a potential colleague did bring up something that wildly irrelevant, inappropriate, and personal at an interview, it gives you valuable information regarding their professionalism and respect for social boundaries.

    It may be helpful for your anxiety to work out a response in advance in case it does come up, so you feel prepared–one that manages to politely indicate they’re out of bounds and you will not be speaking to it or disclosing details to which they have no right.

  85. SPB*

    My first year teaching I received a stern talking to from the vice principal about my tardiness problem when I was very late one day. Thing is – it was my first time being late to that job, despite a long and difficult compute (for where I live). Sometimes people have impressions of repeated lateness that has nothing to do with you – to this day I don’t know if maybe she had me confused with someone else, remembered she saw me come in late because I had a late start a few times a week, or something else.

  86. fort hiss*

    LW 2, in Japan, I did a favor for the board of education along with another guy, and we were told ahead of time we’d be paid for our time and taken to lunch afterward as thanks. This was a big deal because Japanese beauracracy, even though it was just a little money and a small café lunch. Well, the other guy brought his own lunch because he was doing a workout regimen (which he shared openly) and refused any food or drink from the café. I get it, I thought it was kind of odd but whatever.

    However, the two people from the BOE were totally taken aback. They gossiped about how strange he was when he wasn’t there and asked me if I thought it was unreasonable (I deferred). Every time I ran into those two BOE employees for the next *two years* (three or four times) they brought up the guy eating his outside food in the café and not accepting a coffee or anything. I didn’t think it was that big a deal, just a bit odd, but it clearly stuck with them. I think you would be in danger of being that memorable if you whipped out a scale at lunch. People talk about oddness! And sometimes take it really personally.

    1. quicksilver*

      Having lived in Japan, it sounds to me like the BOE employees were shocked because the guy was invited to lunch *specifically to thank him* and then he showed up but refused to actually be treated to lunch. They took it personally because he stopped them from doing the socially ‘correct’ thing, which probably made them feel terribly awkward in the moment and created some degree of uncertainty in their professional relationship with him going forward (they might have been wondering: do we need to do something else to thank him now, was he offended by the choice of venue, will this pose a problem again if he ever does us another favour or if we need to ask him for one, etc). He flouted a pretty fundamental cultural norm around accepting an act of gratitude, and in the context of Japanese bureaucracy, with its adherence to particular models of politeness, that’s actually a very big deal.

      Which is all to say that while LW2’s situation has the potential to be memorable in a negative way — and I say that as someone for whom a colleague whipping out scales at the table would be triggering — I don’t think it’s quite on this same level. If they make a breezy comment about their doctor/nutritionist requiring them to monitor their food intake (which in my case would certainly help steer my internal response away from ED-related stress), I would think there’s an equally good chance of it being a total non-issue.

      1. fort hiss*

        You’re absolutely right, I included the location and context because I do think it was partially a cultural thing. But it also stood out to me as a time where food difference made a big impact, which is in contrast to OP saying no one would care. People do sometimes care, and context matters. I was surprised by how much it mattered in this situation; I was a young person and it gave me a whole other perspective on how little things you do can deeply reflect on others. But that is by no means something I think this person should be worried about happening, just a data point.

        1. Random Dice*

          I love watching Japanese TV shows because the work dynamics around food (and what it shows about hierarchy and gender and class and the mind-boggling number of social rules) are SO fascinating.

  87. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    Alison is right that people would ideally mind their own business, but its possible that colleagues who don’t think of themselves as judgy at all might feel concerned about you weighing your food. Some people would associate it with extreme dieting and even disordered eating, possibly from their own experiences.

    I’m not saying that’s a reasonable assumption at all! Just that it’s probably one worth avoiding if possible.

  88. Manchmal*

    As someone who was in OA for awhile and did weigh my food even at restaurants, I find so many of the comments here…a little hysterical. You are likely practiced at weighing your food. It takes like 2 minutes, especially if you order something with separate components (meat, veg, and rice or potato separate). People don’t understand that eating on plan is a matter of abstinence that is very much akin to sobriety. Mistakes, even inadvertent ones, can send you back to day 1. The guardrails of weighing are important to maintaining abstinence.

    I think the answer is definitely to check with your sponsor, but if they insist on adherence to weighing, you just do it. You don’t make a big deal out of it (not that you would at any other time), you just say something anodyne like “I have to weigh my food according to doctor’s orders, no big deal, it’ll just take a second!”, and then maybe have a question or topic that you introduce as you’re weighing to move the conversation on. It’s really not that big of a deal, and I think the more normal, matter-of-fact, and nonchalant you are about it, others will follow suit.

    1. Melissa*

      But I think part of the problem is that the employees will likely be just as “hysterical” as the commenters here! I totally agree that it should not be a big deal– as did Allison– but I think the reality is that it will be. It isn’t fair, but you risk being remembered primarily as “the person who weighs their food.”

      1. Manchmal*

        If the risk is being perceived as unusual, or not being abstinent, the choice is clearly the former. Replace “abstinent” with “sober” and I think you’ll understand why. Compulsive overeating, or binge eating disorder, is a bona fide eating disorder. If an anorexic or bulimic said that they had to do X or Y thing to maintain their boundaries or sanity around food, I feel like the responses would be a little different, or more understanding. Maybe I’m wrong.
        When you’re working this program, this kind of thing is usually not negotiable.

        I just re-read the letter, and realized that this meeting is with all of one other person, her grandboss. It’s not with clients, it’s not with a big group. Maybe a strategy for the OP could be to email grandboss in advance and just give them a heads-up. “Looking forward to our lunch! I just wanted to let you know that I’m on a food plan and working with a nutritionist, and as a part of that I will be weighing my food. It’s no big deal and will just take a moment, but I wanted to let you know in advance so it didn’t take you by surprise.”

        Is it possible the grandboss will think she is a giant weirdo and this will torpedo all chance of her ever progressing in the company? I suppose it’s an outside chance, but I think most people will be curious, skeptical, blase, or just uninterested. Or–they will be one of the many people who have experienced this disorder (or know someone who has), and will be perfectly lovely and understanding. Or they will be someone who understands that bodies are different, have all kinds of different needs, and are accepting of that!

        1. OP*

          Thank you so much for the advice and support! That’s exactly right – the weighing isn’t negotiable, making a one time exception just leads to other exceptions. I will try to eat most of my food in my car beforehand and just ask the waiter to let me weigh out a simple salad before the lunch starts. Worst case I will ask the waiter to weigh for me on their scale (I’m assuming they have one but will confirm…) Fingers crossed it works:)

          1. Observer*

            Do yourself a favor and call the place in advance. This way you will know what you are dealing with.

    2. Katy*

      I agree. I remember years ago meeting a friend’s mom at lunch, and she weighed her food and explained that she was on a diet plan that required her to do this for every meal. It was very quick and matter-of-fact and she was clearly eating a full and healthy meal, so I just went “oh, ok,” and accepted it.

  89. She of Many Hats*

    LW 1, my really petty side says to start being aware of when Obnoxious Coworker (OC) leaves and returns from breaks, how often OC leaves early, etc. (because you know they do) and complain to boss when they’re one minute late from a break or take it one minute too early. Also be sure you’re getting paid for the time you are early and staying late.

    But you say you have at least one of them, implying you have several really troublesome co-workers as well as a boss who isn’t tolerant of things beyond your control and reasonable grace times. It isn’t a really healthy place and unless you are getting paid enough for the trouble and to cover mental health therapy, get that resume out there.

  90. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #2 “I just plan to say I have a food plan from a nutritionist and it requires me to weigh my food. It’s true and I don’t think anyone would care.”

    Sorry, it sucks, but they will care: your boss & colleagues, the waiters, nearby customers some of whom may be triggered by weighing.
    Your boss and everyone at the table will be thinking mainly about your scales, even if they are too polite to mention it – and you want the meeting to be about your professional achievements & development, your future at this organisation.
    Also, there will likely be gossip at work, interfering fools coming with “advice” etc.

    I suggest either

    1) Informing your boss that you now have a medical condition that requires you to weigh all your food exactly and hence you request a meeting just over coffee somewhere, no food at all.

    or 2) As others have suggested, visit the restaurant beforehand with your scales, choose a meal and weigh it, so you can order exactly this meal at the skip meeting.
    Check with the waiter first if that meal will remain on the menu (so you don’t get caught by e.g. a seasonal menu change)

    imo, 1) would be preferable, because this is unlikely to be the only meal invitation you have to navigate with bosses, clients, conferences etc and your bosses need to know

  91. Mark*

    I completely disagree to the response on #1. We, too, expect people to be here when their shift starts. A minute late is still late. This expectation does not result in “this kind of focus on a minute here and there (less time than many people spend getting settled at their desks in the morning) bodes badly for the culture there”, as we average a turnover of one person a year. One a year!

    1. metadata minion*

      How many people do you have total, and what’s the job market like? Also, is yours the kind of job where there is, no really, a reason to be there on time? I’m happy to be there on the dot of 9am if that means Alice can get off her shift on time, but the LW has noted at several points in the comments that theirs isn’t a coverage-based position. I am not going to bother about a minute here and there just so my boss can watch me sit in my chair perfectly on time.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Especially since, as they noted above — to sign in one minute late, they’ve usually been at their desk a few minutes getting the computer booted up and doing 2FA. So they’re actually more on time than many people whose time clock is measured from the swipe card at the entrance.

  92. Not this again*

    No, but you may have missed the bit where the OP says they’ve purchased a travel trailer and plans to spend a year traveling the U.S. In your experience, do a lot of people from other countries do that? If so, how do they manage the logistics of getting their travel trailers here, and cope with the fact that U.S. tourist visas are only good for 6 months?

    As I suspect you already understand, I wasn’t calling the commenter smug for “pointing out different countries have different practices.” We already know that. I was calling them smug because they decided to jump in with an irrelevant comment about how they live in a country that guarantees they get an a completely unrelated benefit that is superior to the ones Americans receive. Bully for them, but how is that helpful?

    And, more to the point, why do people seem to feel it necessary to point out that much of the world gets stuff that Americans don’t *all the time* in this comment section? It really does get tiresome, and I am far from the first or only person to mention that. I believe Alison herself has noted it before. Sorry that annoys you to the point of disingenuous condescension, but that doesn’t make the point less valid.

  93. TypeFun*

    I feel like weighing food should not be a big deal, but I guess it really depends on what it looks like and what you order. Just have to pick up and weigh a sandwich? Takes 10 seconds, I wouldn’t even notice. But if you had to deconstruct it and put the meat, cheese, etc. on the scale separately, that seems way more intense to me (and like the scale would get dirty in the process which is gross if you have multiple food or have to put it back in your purse without being able to clean with soap and water. Depends on food residue and how clean the scale is throughout for me.

    1. Katy*

      I would assume that someone used to weighing their food has a system to do so efficiently and hygienically; we really don’t have to act as if this is something that the LW will be doing for the first time and hasn’t fully thought through.

  94. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    1. I’m in trouble for occasionally arriving a few minutes late
    They never see when you’re early; only if you’re late.
    This does seem rather petty if we’re only talking about 10 minutes and you make that up, but some places are nutty and hold it to the second.

    2. Would it be strange to weigh my food at a business lunch?
    I think it would seem odd. Try to plan ahead from the menu and eyeball it this one time.

    3. My company won’t let me take a year-long leave-of-absence
    In the US, very few jobs outside of higher ed allow for any kind of sabbatical. At least, not if you want to keep your job. Perhaps you can negotiate for something more reasonable like 2-3 months (vacation + extra unpaid) instead of a full year, which would at least get you some needed relaxation time.

    5. How to tell my boss his second-in-commands are making it impossible for me to do my job?
    Oh man! This is not a good situation for you at all because it sounds like Goon#2 is actively trying to sabotage you.

  95. gawaine*

    LW1 – Usually I see something like this when they’re looking for an objective reason to cut someone, that they want to cut based on subjective means or just because they need to reduce headcount and don’t want to have to treat it as a layoff. Run before they find some other reason to cut you.

  96. Zee*

    I’ve seen a lot of comments to #2 saying that weighing your food in front of everyone could be triggering to other people struggling with eating disorders. As someone who has had multiple relapses of anorexia, I agree that there’s a good chance it would cause some issues for me.

    But it’s not OP’s job to manage my emotions. I wouldn’t expect them to sacrifice something they need for their own health for me.

    1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      Thanks for this comment! I would agree that this is an instance where LW’s right to manage their health outweighs their responsibility to manage someone else’s emotions. (Although in this instance I fully understand that this isn’t really the problem at the heart of it — the question is whether they could suffer negative career consequences by doing something unusual at a business lunch, and unfortunately people tend to have a lot of opinions about how other people eat.)

    2. Observer*


      I do sympathize with the problem, but I also agree that that’s not the OP’s problem. The issue is whether it could harm the OP, and if so is she willing to take that risk. It sounds like she has come up with plan that should minimize any issues while allowing her to do what she needs to, though, so I hope all goes well.

  97. Dawn*

    LW#2: I am a type 1 diabetic (have been for ~25 years) and weighing one’s food is part and parcel of managing blood sugars.

    I don’t do it when I’m out. Not at a friend’s, not at a restaurant. It’s just the optics.

    Your situation isn’t mine, but restaurants are usually happy to provide nutritional information (or sort your portions as you’d like) and even when they’re not I can usually dial it in. You can even let them know you’d like “not too much” of something (or everything) on your plate and they’ll usually accommodate it.

    But it’s just one of those things about being in public; you (or at least I) relax your standards a bit to not Make It A Whole Thing, and my doctors would never question having an occasional time that I’m playing it by ear for social harmony.

  98. Insurance_Nerd*

    #1- I worked for a company years ago that had a timeclock and it was a major source of drama. When my father was ill and eventually passed, i was about 15 minutes from the hospital from my office. I knew his passing was pretty immanent and I was trying not to just take off of work for a whole 2-3 days and tried to balance work and hospital time, because I knew I’d have bereavement after and other things to handle in the days after he passed. I did my best to keep up with both obligations before he passed. About 2 weeks later the HR person (who apparently didn’t know anything about my father since we were not in the same office) called me to question my “erratic punch in / out times” for that week. She went on to say that i could not use bereavement for the day he died because he didn’t actually die until after 2 in the afternoon and i would have to take unpaid time for that day because i was out of PTO. She went on to explain that bereavement was for *after* a loved one was already dead, not before. Needless to say she gladly shorted my paycheck for that day and wasn’t the least bit sorry about it.

    I got laid off about 3 years later when the office closed and couldn’t have been happier. I’ve never had a timeclock job since and have made sure i am on salary because i was so hurt and burned by this. OP- get out of there. if your safety / time / family / sanity is not as important as someone micromanaging a time clock they aren’t worth your efforts!

    1. umami*

      ‘She went on to say that i could not use bereavement for the day he died because he didn’t actually die until after 2 in the afternoon’

      Just …. WAT?? I have never heard of any such thing, that is absolutely stunningly horrible. Who even tries to find out someone’s time of death for such a reason?? I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

      1. Insurance_Nerd*

        she was the absolute worst HR person i had ever worked with. at one point she also looked us all up on social media (this was maybe 2009-2010?) and printed out our profiles and posts and showed them to our our managers who promptly wrote us up for whatever was on there. it was typical comments and memes- work sucks – i want to be on vacation instead kind of thing. she loved every minute of it.

        One year she made a mistake on my bonus and sent me too much money in my direct deposit. when i called to question it, she realized that she made a mistake and made me write a personal check and fed ex it back to her- WITH MY OWN MONEY- instead of putting it in a fed ex envelope from the company we worked for. utter incompetence.

      2. pally*

        Really! Dang, that is mighty insensitive.

        I might have brought that up the chain of command. Is this really how management wants an employee to be treated in their time of difficulty?

        (well, Dad was on Eastern Standard Time so really, that’s only 11 am local time. )

        A co-worker was told they weren’t entitled to use their bereavement leave because that’s only for immediate family members. She shot back, “My mother passed away. Is one’s mother not immediate family enough for you?” She was granted the bereavement leave hours.

        1. Insurance_Nerd*

          WHAT? who thinks that a parent is not an immediate family member?? and somehow employers are shocked when people quit over this type of treatment.

  99. Purple spotted frog*

    I used to work at a place where they changed the attendance policy from a 7 minute grace period to a single minute late being counted as a full days unscheduled absence. So if you were going to be a minute late, you might as well not go in at all, because the penalty was the same.

    Weirdly, people started calling in more/didn’t like the micromanaging and started quitting.

  100. One HR Opinion*

    Op #2 – I encourage you to do what you need to do in order to be safe and healthy. If there is a discreet way to do it, I would recommend that. Otherwise, just be prepared to acknowledge it and move the conversation to something else. As someone with different dietary issues, it’s not unheard of for me to order just an appetizer or just have something to drink.

  101. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    LW #2 — you may be in a profession that puts a lot of weight on the entertaining and socialization aspects of eating out (think sales). If that’s the case, I second the advice to speak with your OA sponsor or group members to ask what they’ve done in similar circumstances.

    If that’s not the case for you though, I think it’s abundantly fair and safe to say something to the effect that you have “a medical condition that makes eating out somewhat challenging.” You can use this on the day as an excuse for sticking to tea or water on the day, or you can use this in advance as a preface to asking if the meeting can be rescheduled to a non meal time. This has the benefit of being true, being vague enough to protect your privacy, and hopefully being something that no one will press for further details about.

  102. Johannes Bols*

    To the lateness employee. Reading your letter brought back the job I walked out of 11 years ago. Why? People were going to my supervisor and telling her lies, not truth mixed with opinion, but LIES. My final day someone DELETED my work and told my supe I’d done nothing all morning but sit at my desk, wh. was untrue.
    It seems to me it’s possible someone(s) may be doing to same to you. Seriously sabotaging you and stabbing you in the back. I’d just suggest you think about this possibility, esp. as a fourth warning (the same thing happened to me about complete rubbish) about being late seems completely over the top. Good luck!!

  103. EtTuBananas*

    LW #3:

    At the risk of sounding like a motivational poster: just leave. Just take the trip with your husband. Don’t be a slave to your job. Any number of things could happen to change your plans. If you have the energy and financial means to travel the country in a travel trailer, you’re so lucky! Do it now while you can. Jobs are (relatively) easy to come by. Memories like that are not.

  104. lockhart*

    I used to work with someone who came in routinely an hour to two hours late. Finished all his work on time (we have nightly deadlines and there usually isn’t a ton of work at the start of the shift) so he never actually faced any consequences.

    I started showing up whenever I wanted to, always making sure to get there before him, and said “hey, if I’m here before this guy I’m on time.”

    My next boss I once got in a minor car accident racing to get food to minimize the time I was away from my desk in case she randomly checked in. I preferred the former situation.

  105. Pip*

    LW1 – You have my sympathy. Your boss is truly being unreasonable and sounds like they have a major power trip. I’d be curious if they are this hard on everyone or if it’s just you. Either way, yes, leave 15 minutes earlier but start looking for someplace else. I can’t see your boss changing their expectations or attitude, so you should find someplace with more reasonable expectations. Best of luck!

  106. CassandraPanda*

    As a manager is an industry where workers being physically present for their scheduled times is often a genuine requirement (grocery), we give an automatic 5 minute grace period. I cannot discipline a person for 5 minutes of lateness unless it is literally every day. Even then I would have to get permission from HR. This level of attention to timekeeping is pathological, I’d quit ASAP.

  107. whatevah*

    LW:2, While it could be seen as something out of the norm to weigh your food at a business lunch, maybe it’s…ok? That is, sure this isn’t something we see every day, and it *could* open up discussions you probably don’t want to have, but ultimately the world isn’t always going to be the same, and people need to be able to work around it gracefully (them, not you). So, if YOU feel comfortable doing so, and leaving their impression of you aside, weigh your food quickly without fanfare, add a one sentence generic explanation (maybe something along the lines of “I have a minor health issue that requires I weigh my food but I didn’t want that to keep me from joining you at lunch today so I came prepared”) and move on. If they ask just divert by saying “oh you don’t want to know all the details, it’s boring” and have a question planned to change the subject. Will you be seen as the person that weighed their food? Maybe. Will it matter? Only you can decide your tolerance for that. If all of that seems like too much to deal with, then the suggested options of various ways to plan ahead might work as long as they don’t compromise your program. Usually stuff like this blows over unless its REALLY egregious (for example, you’re the person that always heats up fish in the microwave). You/we need to be able to live our lives fully in the world regardless of our differences and obstacles. The world doesn’t make it easy but unless you fear for your job or ramifications (and even then, maybe that means these people aren’t for you), it might just be easier to do what you need than spending time and energy trying to find a complicated workaround.

    1. OP*

      That’s what I’m trying to weigh up… thank you so much :) my sponsor says I should just bring my scale, like any person with a medical need, but my husband thinks I’m crazy…

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        The great majority of replies here are saying not to bring scales – and AAM is far kinder about eating disorders than most workplaces / bosses.

        If you don’t feel able to request a non-food meeting or to pre-weigh your planned meal on an earlier day, then accept the consequences if you bring scales. Sorry, but the working world is as it is, not as we wish it would be.

  108. RedinSC*

    LW#5, are you certain that the owner didn’t ask the director to fire the two people. maybe that was in the works before paternity leave, and the baby came sooner than expected?

    But do speak up about the meetings. We’ve rescheduled because Thing 1 and Thing 2 have no showed to all of the meetings after accepting them on the calendar.

  109. Raida*

    2. Would it be strange to weigh my food at a business lunch?

    Do not take scales with you.
    Do contact the location you’ll be eating beforehand and ask about options after you’ve studied the menu.

    5. How to tell my boss his second-in-commands are making it impossible for me to do my job
    “Boss, I’m having a lot of issues with SIC1 and SIC2.
    SIC1 just avoids work. Not a huge deal most of the time, although a bit of a moral drain for staff to watch the person paid more than them simply bum about.
    SIC2 is a business risk waiting to happen. He “doesn’t agree with” my area existing even though it’s a legal requirement. He is insulting, rude, losing you staff, thinks he’s amazing, uses your name and title like a club *and still manages to avoid doing important work*

  110. Lenora Rose*

    Re Letter #5: I do hate the way the concept of a “tattle-tale” being “unprofessional” makes a situation like this, where the clear thing to do is point out the issues, seem so fraught. This is not you gossiping. It’s not even you complaining.

    This is you being actively prevented from doing your job by two people failing to *show up* and choosing to dismiss things required for legal compliance. I can see trying to be sure of the phrasing, but this is not particularly delicate. This is “I am trying to make this meeting happen, X and Y do not show up even when they have confirmed they know.”

    And while the two people who were terminated might be cases that were in process, I would check on that, too.

  111. DJ*

    LW#1’s situation is where as much as possible workplaces need to have a bandwidth/core hour flexible start and finish time i.e. between 7.30am to 9am (or whatever). Arriving “late” under such conditions means the employee can also finish later to make up the “late” time.
    I used to live somewhere where after privatisation buses would get cancelled at the last minute. Once we were left an hour without buses. I now catch a publicly owned train to work but arrived at the train station one day to find the usual limited stops train had been delayed due to track work and replacement buses further up the line. The next train was only 10 mins later but had more stops meaning a 30 mins later arrival date. But with flexible start times that was not an issue.

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