updates: company asked for documentation of my dietary restrictions, I’m afraid people at work will think I’m being abused, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

1. My company asked for documentation of my dietary restrictions (#2 at the link)

I followed up with both my organization’s parent organization and my supervisor. From the parent organization I received only the following vague text: “interpretation of policy” and a link to the policy.

My supervisor emailed citing the parent organization’s policy that food costs are not covered when they are included with a conference registration and noting that funds for professional development are to defray travel costs and may not cover the entirety of expenses. In a meeting with my supervisor following this email, I noted that the travel was a meeting that’s core to my position responsibilities and not a conference. Thus there was no registration fee and this wasn’t professional development. I also noted that technically I wasn’t provided a meal. I noted too that while I have medical documentation for gluten intolerance, I do not have medical documentation for not eating pork and beef, and that my colleague’s meal was covered. I also noted that getting medical documentation required time from the employee and doctor’s office and depending on the doctor’s office could require a copay. I reiterated that this experience did not foster a culture of inclusivity.

From my supervisor I learned that the organization’s business office has been dealing with many, many instances of employees going to conferences with meals provided and choosing to eat elsewhere due to *preferences* (not allergies, intolerances, or dietary restrictions) and so the business office is getting a lot of pushback from the parent organization for *any* exceptions to the policy from the parent organization.

It was clear that if I don’t want to pay for this meal, I need to provide medical documentation or follow-up with the parent organization. Given that I’m tired of dealing with this modest meal cost, I’ve sent a screen capture from my doctor’s health portal.

I completely understand that the organization should not be paying for meals twice (e.g. conference registration + restaurant meal) because of an employee’s preferences and I am also disappointed with the blanket hardline approach and that the nuances to my situation (not a conference, no registration, not professional development) are being dismissed by the parent organization.

Update to the update:

The screen capture of my health portal with the gluten intolerance note circled in red was sufficient and my organization paid for the meal.

2. I’m afraid people at work will think I’m being abused (#2 at the link; first update here)

I’m the one who first wrote you laughing about how I’m so clumsy that people thought something terrible had happened to me but eventually got a game-changing diagnosis after your readers urged me to check in with a doctor. My last update was just under a year ago, and a lot has happened since then!

My manager at the new job from my last update continued to be an incredible support, even when six weeks of physical therapy turned into five months. However, problems started to arise last summer that ended up being indicative of a pretty toxic corporate culture. At one point, our billion-dollar parent company decided furniture movers were too expensive, so on-site admin staff were suddenly required to do a lot of heavy lifting. I had to get an exemption under ADA, because even though my collarbone was doing great, the amount of physical labor that was expected was way more than I’ll ever be able to do again.

Weirdly, that ended up being the spark for some major drama of dubious legality in a series of semi-related incidents over the course of several months. During a few of the dramatic incidents, I found myself drafting emails to you that I never bothered sending because I knew what you’d say: the situation wasn’t normal, safe, or ethical and the chances of me single-handedly fixing such a messed up and hostile workplace were slim to none. Once again I heard your commenters in the back of my mind, this time telling me to run for the hills.

The good news: I just accepted an offer for a new position! It’s a 55% increase in pay with way more PTO, mostly WFH, and the person who recommended I apply says it’s the healthiest, most functional workplace she’s ever had. I’ll get to travel more, help underserved communities, and feel good about my professional life.

More good news: while I continue to be something of a medical novelty (my collarbone x-rays were at one point being used as a teaching tool), I’ve seen a significant and sustained decrease in accidents. I’m definitely not graceful by any means, but I’m getting there.

Thank you (and the commenters!) again for the support, even if it was sometimes just in my mind.

3. How honest can I be with recruiters that money is the only reason I want to leave my current job?

Well, I ended up using an offer I received from one of those recruiters to get a counter offer from my current employer. I was totally prepared for them to lowball me, but true to their word, they matched my offer. The amount ended up being 5x the raise they traditionally give! On top of this, I’ll still be eligible for our yearly increase in a few months. So really, I’ll be making even more than the other company offered me in about 90 days. I also used this time to negotiate a few other perks and benefits I had been wanting – always negotiate! The worst they can say is no.

I know you usually recommend against taking a counter offer from your current employer, but I do still love the job and now they’re paying me exactly what I asked for (and soon, more!). I believed my boss when they told me they were bound by the company’s raise structure, and I appreciate that they shared with me a way to get around it. We’ve always had a good relationship and I honestly would have hated to leave their team if I hadn’t gotten the match I wanted. A good boss is truly invaluable.

In a total coincidence, I’ve also been assigned some new projects that I’m so excited to be working on, things I’ve literally been waiting years for. I have no doubt I made the right choice and am so happy my company came through for me!

Thank you to everyone who gave advice in the comments. More than anything else you all convinced me to just go ahead and see what I could do to change my current situation — and I did!

{ 70 comments… read them below }

  1. HannahS*

    OP2, just wanted to give a virtual fist-bump for the “my workplace is so messed up that I write letters to Alison in my head but don’t send them because I know the answer.” I’m glad you found something better!

    1. OP 2*

      (ignore my prematurely posted comment above lol)

      I started about a month ago and OMG it’s been incredible. Everything my friend said about how great it is has been proven true 10000000 times over and even though I started at what’s notoriously the most insane time for my department I’ve been loving it! Not to mention, my insurance is insane and I was able to put my fiancée (girlfriend from the first post!) on the plan too. Hopefully I won’t need it, but given my history (I had like five non-injury medical emergencies last year) that $0 deductible is REALLY nice to have.

    2. ferrina*

      Yes! So glad that you saw the signs and decided to leave! So excited your new job is going well!!

  2. Cyndy*

    I’m curious how parent company in #1 is concluding that these are “preferences” rather than what they view as “more legitimate” restrictions. If OPs experience is any reflection, I have doubts that it’s being handled in a fair, inclusive manner. The line between a restriction and preference is one that allows for all sort of messed up bias to seep through.

    1. Quill*

      Preferences reads to me like they are potentially going to be running afoul of religious dietary restrictions (and non religious but voluntary ones).

      Of course, it is also possible that the conference food sucks, and people there for a second time decide to avoid it altogether. But I would bet that they could easily shoot into guacamole bob territory with their crackdown.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I know I referenced that in the original post!
        Why is this OP the hill to die on when a vegetarian meal was cleared?
        They have no rules, only managers covering for bad decisions.

        1. Quill*

          I’m assuming it’s because someone in charge of reimbursements had heard of vegetarianism but thought that gluten was a “fad”

          1. Amalfi*

            Probably bc going gluten-free did become a fad–with the fall out that people who need a medical gluten-free diet have a hard time being taken seriously.

            1. Fierce Jindo*

              But also the salutary consequence that people who need gluten-free food can find it readily available. A worthy trade, I think, from the perspective of someone with a medical need for a faddish and ridiculed diet.

              1. doublesalgal*

                I was diagnosed with celiac disease about 20 years ago, when gluten-free prepared/frozen foods were pretty much nonexistent and you had to order rice flour from random online storefronts or trek to “natural” grocery stores and hope they hadn’t cross-contaminated anything. Believe me when I say that the gluten-free fad, while irritating in some ways and certainly not a cure-all, has been a net positive.

                OP’s workplace’s asinine policy would be a hill to die on for me. I can understand not wanting to accommodate people who are just picky, but saying “I have a medical need for a gluten-free diet” should be adequate if a coworker can get reimbursed for saying they’re vegetarian. I wouldn’t even have an issue with them asking for proof of medical condition if not for the colleague’s vegetarian meal getting approved automatically — that seems like it’s flirting with ADA trouble, which can get expensive for the company.

                I never go anywhere without enough gluten-free snacks to get me through a minor blizzard, but it’s so much nicer to be accommodated — and to not need to fight for it.

                1. londonedit*

                  Yep, absolutely. My sister can’t eat wheat or gluten (or dairy) because of a medical condition, and the rise in vegan diets and gluten-free products has been amazing for her. That’s the other thing – people need to remember that not everyone who is gluten-free despite not having a coeliac diagnosis is indulging in a ‘fad’. There are plenty of other medical conditions that respond well to a gluten-free diet and you cannot expect someone with Crohn’s or colitis or Hashimoto’s to suck it up and eat gluten just because they’re not coeliac. If a gluten-free diet improves their condition then for god’s sake let them eat the foods that help them.

                2. GythaOgden*

                  Same as Londonedit. It’s revolutionised my aunt’s diet as well. (She’s retired, but she was a caterer and had to bake lovely crusty bread while chewing on rice-crackers herself, and always lamented the lovely smell of gluten products tempting her even though she knew what would happen if she ate any.) I also knew someone who had a baby sister who was diagnosed as coeliac very young. She’d now be about thirty, but she’s come of age into a very different era as regards dietary understanding.

                  (I wonder if greater awareness of coeliac and improvements in gluten-free availability kick-started the gluten-free ‘fad’ and it all churned about a bit until most people were aware that going gluten-free isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for non-coeliacs, and that ended up in a bad place. It’s sad how some humans just have to warp and corrupt anything they touch :(((.)

            2. Ellis Bell*

              The kinds of people who dismiss the seriousness of allergies don’t need much of an excuse to be jerks. They were doing it long before gluten free diets took off. Also, it’s not a fad to experiment with what you eat and try to figure out what will help you feel better. People don’t give up pizza and pastries lightly. Yes, it became more culturally acceptable to be gluten free, and less “what kind of weirdo can’t eat bread” – which is a good thing. I’m incredibly pleased I followed the trend myself because I discovered it was the life-changing key in managing my autoimmune condition.

      2. Dorilys Aillard*

        The irony here is that celiac disease is an actual medical condition, and avoiding gluten is a dietary restriction necessary to control it. Religious restrictions, on the other hand, ARE “preferences” – just as choosing to follow a certain religion is a preference in this country! Ditto for vegetarianism, veganism, pescetarianism or pollotarianism – unless medically mandated (which they usually aren’t), they’re all preferences too.

        Yet the OP’s company would never risk charges of religious discrimination by refusing to pay for, say, a kosher or halal meal; the bad publicity would simply not be worth it. So that company IS catering (no pun intended) to SOME food preferences yet balking at paying for a medically necessary meal for the OP. WTH?!

      3. Eric*

        Preferences read to me like “the conference is providing turkey sandwiches but I feel like Mexican”.

    2. AnonToday*

      They’re not basic it on reality, if a vegetarian’s meal was covered without question. If they’re going to be hardasses about it, that’s a preference too. I get that they don’t want to pay for meals for everyone who jumped on a health trend and isn’t eating XYZ this month, but this is another situation where I feel like they probably spent way more money on staff time going back & forth & being jerks, than if they’d just paid for LW’s one dang lunch.

    3. MsSolo (UK)*

      This feels like a response to someone being blatant, like “Oh, X conference’s food is always bad, just soggy, bland sandwiches and limp salad, so lets get lunch at the thai place around the corner and expense it”, that’s been used to justify an excessive crackdown. Sometimes a fair policy means accepting that a handful of people will take the piss, but the benefit to everyone else outweighs the negative (and when you get people who do take the piss, that usually shows up elsewhere in the behaviour, where it can be identified and dealt with in a way that doesn’t affect others).

      1. Momma Bear*

        This. Too often it’s a few repeat offenders that don’t get the proper talking to and instead they cowardly introduce rules that bind everyone else. I’m glad OP was able to just use the portal screenshot, but OP was not the problem.

        1. singularity*

          Yeah, this policy screams ‘someone took advantage of a loophole and now we’re punishing everyone because we didn’t notice sooner’ scenario.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I often feel this way about fraud. Yes, maybe people were taking advantage of the policy, but isn’t it better to let a few people get away with expensing an additional meal than spend so much time and goodwill of multiple people to make sure that OP’s dietary restriction is a valid medical one?

      3. Quite anon*

        And some people fall into a middle area where they might not have a health problem but still really not be able to eat the food. I dislike mayonaise, particularly cold mayonaise (sometimes it’s okay when used as an ingredient in a sauce) because the flavor/texture combination feels disgusting. I don’t think I’d be able to choke downa soggy bland sandwich if it had mayonaise on it, and as a result I’d end up spending the day starving if I planned on eating at the conference.

      4. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah, plus it’s laughably easy to identify the people who simply didn’t like Wednesday’s paste sandwiches from people who always need accommodations. Just ask everyone in the company to register their dietary requirements for posterity so it’s not a meal by meal issue. I’m sure the fear is: what if everyone registers as gluten free and vegan? Well, change the menu to gluten free and vegan then. It’s not like they eat diamonds.

    4. File Herder*

      And some “preferences” are not official medical conditions but still very real. I’m a supertaster. Some things that are yummy to most people are nausea inducing for me. Some of them physically hurt. I have more than once been faced with “if you don’t like this type of curry or that type of curry, you can always have the vegetarian chili”. Uh, no. In that situation my options are starve or find outside food – and pray that outside food is available. At the other end, in the merely annoying category, I can eat canned cream sweetened with corn syrup, but if I really wanted something with a strong undertaste of corn syrup I’d have gone for the straight corn syrup.

      And then there are the “preferences” that are real live genetic differences in how people perceive the taste of a specific food item. The most commonly known one is the bitter taste in brassicas. Coriander leaf is another one – and if you are also a supertaster, it’s really fun just being at the same table as someone eating a dish that smells as if an elderly tom cat peed on it. No, I will not get used to it if I just try it – I am literally experiencing a different taste to you. This company’s business office would be getting a very long, detailed list of various genetic taste differences and exactly what some things taste like to us.

      (Annoyingly, I’m a taster for almost all of the common ones, with the exception of brassicas. Guess which one is the only my Other Half has? No Brussel sprouts for me.)

      1. Tau*

        Not a supertaster, but tbh one of the most relaxing things about going vegetarian is that now I can get my “no fish or seafood please, ever, in any way” to be respected. Before, it was just a preference, I was just a picky eater, this wasn’t a valid dietary restriction that needed to be accommodated – but from my perspective, not much has changed. If you were to provide me with dinner where the only option was fish, I would have gone hungry then and would go hungry now. (I absolutely despise the taste of fish to the point where I would not have been able to get through a fish meal without throwing up.)

        1. Quite anon*

          Same! People are allowed to not like things, and if there is really that big of a problem with the food this conference offers… maybe investigate whether an alternative conference with better food is in order?

        2. File Herder*

          And you’ve reminded me of something else. Migraine changes the way fish tastes to me. But only some fish. If you’ve never encountered the weird and wonderful ways in which migraine can alter someone’s sense of taste or smell, people suddenly not wanting something can look like just a picky eater. Don’t push it. I don’t throw up, but some people with migraine do.

          For anyone else who didn’t know this, one possible aura symptom is the smell of burning rubber. That explained a few incidents of being worried that I could smell burning electrical insulation when I finally read about it in an article.

    5. Whoomp There It Is*

      Your last line is spot on. I’ve seen it argued (on this site!) that keeping kosher is a “preference” that should be not be accommodated. Pretty insulting but I can see how it feels logical to someone with an ideological axe to grind. a

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Wait what?! Yikes. I have been an atheist for many, many years, and even I can’t imagine being that insensitive and dismissive of someone else’s religious beliefs. Hopefully those commenters you observed no longer think that way.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        On this site? I hope they were shouted down or moderated out. There are a lot of non-medical dietary restrictions that absolutely should be accommodated. For example, I have never eaten long pig and would be extremely upset if that were the only lunch option.

        I think the difficulty of accommodating a dietary restriction can be a valid concern, though. Having to providing a separate gluten-free kitchen or an entire set of kosher cookware would not be considered a reasonable accommodation in many businesses.

  3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    LW 3 = For years, I have said that “accepting a counter-offer? IT DEPENDS.”

    Some – especially head hunters – will say “Bad! Bad! They’ll just try to get rid of you ASAP! You’ll be sorry!”

    Others know that if your boss goes to the wall for you to get you the raise you deserve, then they most certainly won’t try to chase you out. And you don’t want to leave an otherwise pleasant, great work environment when the money issue/distraction is resolved.

    One common theme = “(parrot squawk) No money for raises No money in the budget (Squawk)” — but nearly every company I’ve worked for has had an emergency slush fund – off-budget – to cover such things as raises for critical employees who are resigning over money.

    In the IS/IT world, this is somewhat common, based on my experience.

  4. Bruce*

    #2 I went back and read the original post and the updates, it reminded me of my sister who was always injuring herself… to the point that the medical corpsman at the Navy base we lived on were teasing her about being a frequent customer. She was a dancer and very active, but accident prone. A couple of years later it got bad enough that they finally found she had a spinal issue and needed a fusion… she went on to get a degree in dance and continued to a Phd and an academic career in dance history (She recovered well, but having 2 vertebrae fused is not ideal for professional dance!)… So I’m glad you’ve gotten a real diagnosis, and I hope it helps you manage it much better. And congrats on the step up in the new job!

  5. Becky*

    Weirdly, that ended up being the spark for some major drama of dubious legality in a series of semi-related incidents over the course of several months.

    …I really want more details now.

    1. Quill*

      I’m assuming that if they’re weird enough and related to OP’s medical restrictions they might be identifying. But if they’re not… seconded.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. As much as I’d love the story, I absolutely do not want to push anyone to reveal stuff.

      2. OP 2*

        Limiting identifying details: I filed ADA accommodations as part of an HR complaint about the furniture requirements after my boss’ boss refused to deal with an insane amount of furniture (30+ huge pieces) that we were being told to move. He didn’t like how bad it made him look and retaliation was involved, both from him and my equivalent in a different department who’d been roped into it as well. I spent my last two days at that job rewriting my boss’ resume (unasked) because it’s been even worse for her and she needs to get out. We’re still very close and talk regularly, she’s incredible and deserves better.

        1. Becky*

          oh geez glad you got out of there and I hope your boss gets out too!

          General PSA: If you don’t like how bad something makes you look, then stop doing the thing that makes you look bad instead of attempting to punish those looking.

        2. Observer*

          Ah, so you were being a sarcastic. Nothing “weird” about this scenario. Just profoundly wrong on their part, and totally illegal.

          I am SO glad you are out of there. No matter how good of a manager you had, that place really was toxic. It was kind of you to help her with her resume, though.

  6. OP 2*

    Fun but mostly unrelated update: the girlfriend from my first post is now my fiancée! She got laid off from a high-paying job she hated earlier this year and took a major pay cut when she got a job doing something she really likes and feels good about, but with my salary increase at the new job our household income is actually still slightly more than it was before. We might actually be able to afford a wedding now! (jk we’re millennials with massive student debt in a high COL area, the court house is like two blocks away from our apartment so it’s probably only a matter of time lol) Until then she gets all my benefits as a domestic partner, we love a DEI focused workplace!

    1. Elsewise*

      That’s fantastic news, and congrats on your engagement! My current job also allows you to put a domestic partner on insurance with very lax restrictions on what constitutes a domestic partner, so I was able to get my fiance on my vision insurance before we’re married. It’s such an incredible benefit!

    2. Silver Robin*

      Mazel tov! I, too, have my partner on my insurance as a “domestic partner” and I loved that all I had to do was enter his info. Not even a real affidavit or anything; we shared the same address and I think that was it? It reduced so much stress and we both got much needed dental work out of it!

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      We had a courthouse wedding with about a dozen guests, followed by pastries in a bakery in Little Italy. You can’t do anything fancy in the courthouse, but in some places you can bring a few friends and relatives, if they want to watch you say “yes” and sign the paperwork. The marriage bureau wasn’t at the courthouse, but it’s the same idea, and a lot of couples took their photos in a nearby park.

  7. Aelfwynn*

    “The good news: I just accepted an offer for a new position! It’s a 55% increase in pay with way more PTO, mostly WFH, and the person who recommended I apply says it’s the healthiest, most functional workplace she’s ever had. I’ll get to travel more, help underserved communities, and feel good about my professional life.”

    This is AMAZING! Congratulations!

    1. OP 2*

      Thank you! I’ve honestly been underemployed for the past two years, my education/experience prior to a big move in summer 2021 made me waaaaaaaaay overqualified for the work I’ve been doing since, but I didn’t have the confidence to apply for anything even close to my title. Fortunately my friend really encouraged me (I found out later that our shared boss has hired her three times, my friend likes her so much that she goes with her to new companies which is a GREAT sign lol) and even just a month in it’s been working out really well

  8. nobadcats*

    LW #2, I don’t think I commented on your original posts and updates. I too, am a notoriously klutzy person. It’s also a running joke with family and my co-irkers, because I make it so. Can’t stand to have people fussing over me due to the weird that just seems to coalesce around me. I’ve been like this since I was a kid.

    Broke my ankle going UP the stairs 3x years ago.

    Fell backward down half a flight of stairs back in February (two sprained/yoinked shoulders, two cracked ribs, sprained pinkie finger, a pretty handsome shiner on one eye from breaking my glasses at the face plant on the basement floor, and zebra stripe bruises on my legs–lucky I didn’t lose a tooth or an eyeball). And yes, I joked about it, sending a pic to my Dad and besties of my shiner saying, “You should see the other guy!”

    Broke a baby toe after hooking it on the leg of a floor fan (just taped it to the unbroken ones, as that’s all the hospital will do).

    Scratched cornea from my kitty doing her usual patting my face in the morning, but she stuck her paw into my eye.

    And not for nothing, I too bruise easily, being of the pale persuasion. Two of my besties and I text each other some mornings saying, “WTH? Did you sneak into my place last night and beat me with a billyclub?” Right now, I have a bruise on my hip, another on my upper arm, and I did nothing but take out the trash and then was sat on my sofa reading ’til bedtime. And it’s not like I sleep on a bed of nails.

    Went to the doctor. Turns out I have vertigo. Which explains my shakiness on going down the stairs. Up is fine, down is, um… okay, this is gonna take a minute. Don’t get me started on the evil of escalators (spoiler: evil). There’s very little medicine for vertigo if you don’t have a chronic inner ear infection, so I just keep doing yoga and trying to improve my balance with core work. And use my cane if I need more stability. One bestie said that although I should probably get myself wrapped in bubble wrap, I’d probably end up suffocating myself.

    Always, always push back on physical activities at work you’re simply not able to do. Be kind to yourself. BE KIND. It’s not that we’re just silly or klutzy, there are things that are hard for us to do with our imperfect human bodies. Being a human bean is hard. So be forgiving and kind to yourself. I’ll be wishing, hoping, and sending positive good healing vibes your way.

    Paws up!

    1. Expert Paper Pusher*

      Sending encouragement from another accident-prone vertigo sufferer! I’ve had the vertigo diagnosis for years and never connected it with my tendency to injure myself until a neurologist I worked with pointed out the connection.

    2. Her name was Joanne*

      Your doctor has probably already suggested it, but have you tried the Eppley maneuver (google it for home instructions). I get vertigo occasionally, with no inner ear infection. According to my chiropractor, there are little crystals in your inner ear that can get misaligned. I’ve done this maneuver several times and it usually clears it up, at least for awhile.

      1. nobadcats*

        Oh, thank you! I will definitely check this out. Is that the tapping of your fingers at the back of your skull with your thumbs at your jaw? I’ve used it for my (too many years of going to rock concerts with no ear protection–hey, it was before we knew!) tinnitus.

        I don’t particularly like my current doc (cold hands, dismissive of my neuropathy in my feet and hands, told me I didn’t need to have a dermatologist referral, even though I am a freckly, moley girl with at least three that are concerning to me, and thought my vertigo, after checking my ears was “just in my head.” well, no sh*t on that last one, it’s my EARS, of course it’s “in my head,” and saying she couldn’t schedule me for a mammogram, because I’m “too young.” Ma’am, I’m 57 in a month.). Her “well, woman,” exam was cursory at best. So I have to go through the whole thing all over again with a different doctor, because I DO need referrals for the neuropathy, dermatologist, and the mammogram, or insurance (which is quite good, actually) requires it from a a GP or gyn.

        Ah, the simple joys of womanhood.

        1. Amalfi*

          Eppley maneuver is a series of sitting, lying, and rolling over postures that tip your ear crystals into the correct position. A google search will help you find directions on how to perform it.

          1. nobadcats*

            Just read the John Hopkins precis on this and, yes, wow. If I’m upstanding or walking, I cannot turn my head quickly and startle easily (like when someone honks their horn), I completely lose my balance (hence still using the cane for security). Many thanks for the recommendations!

            1. nobadcats*

              Hell, I still use my shower chair from when I broke my ankle because I can’t close my eyes upstanding in the shower lest I topple over. As The Man In Black from Princess Bride said of masks, “They’re quite comfortable, I believe everyone in the future will be wearing (using) one.” Quite right on that count.

    3. Bruce*

      I’ve had vertigo a couple of times, hated every minute of it. I hope knowing what is going on helps you manage better! Best wishes…

    4. Spero*

      I thought of this too! Another option, if the OP has ADHD, is a REALLY poor vestibular system connection. I have this and always falling/hitting things, literally forgetting I have a body, failing to realize I’m in pain from an awkward position etc. My brain quite simply isn’t well connected to where my body is positioned, I’m vastly more likely to feel little sensory things like itch from a clothing tag than I am big things like being precariously off balance. Yoga and mindfulness helps, and so does gross vestibular movement like spinning around, the hanging swings, sitting on a yoga ball etc. A lot of the therapies they use as self soothing for folks with Autism actually – which since they’re both neurodivergence, makes sense.

  9. Engineer*

    LW #1 – I doubt LW got a $100 meal, maybe they spent $20. Seems the total amount of time the company spent fighting this greatly out-valued the actual cost of the meal. It’s laughable if it wasn’t so frustrating when you realize the company spent probably $200-$300 in hours addressing this, instead of just paying for a damn $20 meal.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I love our finance person because she is 100% “it’s not worth my time to deal with this” and does not get petty about anything. As long as no one’s being overtly abusive of her generosity, everyone can just get what they need.

      1. Flax Dancer*

        That attitude will also gain her a million dollars’ worth of loyalty and willingness to go the extra mile from her company’s employees!

      2. College Career Counselor*

        Yes! This is the correct approach. Some years ago, I had to head off an office manager who was looking for the source of a really minor invoice discrepancy (IIRC, it was something ridiculous like 50 cents). She was so worried that it reflected badly on her that she would. not. let. it. go. I finally said, “hey, I appreciate your attention to detail and tenacity, but we’re way past the point of this making sense, given what what your hourly rate is. Pay the the larger amount and call it a day.” She did, but she did NOT like it!

        1. GythaOgden*

          I trained very briefly in chartered accountancy — and you really do need to be very careful with invoices and auditing. One issue might not break the bank, but if it keeps happening, it could be very dangerous to get into that mindset if auditors start to notice it.

          It’s probably more effort in the long run to let things slide and be brought up short at audit or adjudicate everything solely on a case by case basis than it is to set a policy and stick to it. In the immediate moment it might be a faff and seem unfair or even discriminatory, but down the line when you get audited it’s gonna hurt more if you don’t show where the pennies come from. Most companies, at least here in the Celtic Archipelago (because my former Irish colleagues will have a fit if I called them the British Isles and rightly so) have a yearly time when the outside accountants come in; I know because in my first year out of uni I was on the 2002 audit team at one of the largest telecoms firms in Ireland (Alphyra).

          You bet we notice. It would look bad not only on the office manager but on the supervisors who let it slip. A stitch in time saves nine in this case — or maybe nine thousand.

  10. Alice*

    The meal thing – my company does this too. No exception for people who don’t want to eat indoors with two hundred other conference-goers because of COVID risk.
    It’ll just take a single employee getting COVID at a conference and passing it along to a colleague back home to wipe out the savings from not reimbursing meals that were available at conference banquets.

  11. Coco*

    LW1: If a significant people just went rampant with their requests for meal reimbursements, I can see why the company initiated the crack down on the policy. But their level of enforcement is way over the top. I just think it would make more sense to rein in the handful of people who went out for $200 hibachi vs interrogating everyone else.

  12. Hangery*

    LW1: Thinking back to when I was teaching college classes, your company’s behavior reminds me of professors who had elaborate, labor-intensive procedures to catch people cheating on assignments or lying about their absences. I always thought the desire not to be taken advantage of made them fail to do a cost/benefit analysis: energy spent going after bad students is energy not spent helping good students. More than that, though, it’s treating the symptoms instead of the causes. If you have students desperate enough to cheat or disinterested enough to skip class, either you’re doing something wrong or there’s a systemic problem underneath it.

    All this is to say that your company’s response to people “abusing” meal reimbursement is really misguided and counterproductive. If nobody wants to eat the conference food, maybe that means there’s something wrong with the conference food! And making sure people are adequately fed with food they’re comfortable eating is not a luxury. As we’ve all probably experienced at some point, you can’t get much out of a conference session when you’re hangry. And I’ve been to more than one event where they seemed to think vegetarians can make it through six hours of intensive mental activity on nothing but a piece of bread and some raw vegetables.

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