fired for having alcohol in my car, my boss argues with my answer to “how are you?” and more

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

1. My boss argues with my answer to “how are you?”

When my team is in the office, my boss does a round saying hello to everyone on our team. A couple of times now, she’s come over and started the conversation with me with, “How are you?” And I’ll usually respond, “Good.” The problem is, I am apparently not peppy enough because she has replied that I “don’t sound very good” more than once, which is absurd to me! I’m usually having a perfectly pleasant work morning.

The last time this happened, I told her in a joking manner that maybe I’m just not very enthusiastic in the mornings because she’s said this a couple times to me, and I promised that I was actually doing well. She seemed surprised that I pushed back and told me it was okay to not be good and that she was here to listen. More firmly, I told her that I was fine. She agreed that I was “just fine” and walked away satisfied that I had downgraded my feelings from good to fine, which left me with a bad taste in my mouth because it felt like I had to acquiesce to her assessment of my own feelings before she would leave me alone to do my work.

I am a private person at work. I am not hiding anything major from her that’s impacting my mood, and even if I was I don’t think it’s her business. She’s my boss, not my mom or my spouse or my therapist. I think I just have a different personality and affect from what she expects. I just want to be able to drink my coffee and answer morning emails without a critical examination of my emotions.

Oh my goodness. Unless you are putting out very different signals than you’ve reported here when you say you’re “good” — like unless you’re obviously holding back tears or, I don’t know, are partly on fire — replying with “It’s okay not to be and I’m here to listen” is pretty obnoxious.

I would be tempted to start responding “unbelievably well” or “genuinely magnificent” or “luxuriating in the company’s abundance,” but those probably won’t serve you well.

You could simply reply, “Fine, how are you?” and if she pushes with “Just fine?” you could cheerfully say, “Yep, just fine.” You might have to go through that exchange daily, but it might be the easiest response.

If that doesn’t solve it and it’s still happening a few weeks from now … well, sometimes you can get people like this to stop the annoying behavior by taking it very seriously. In this case, that could mean going to her and saying, “Have I done something to make you concerned about my overall satisfaction here?  You’ve seemed concerned lately that my response to ‘how are you?’ hasn’t been cheery enough. It’s making me feel really scrutinized, so I wanted to ask if you have any concerns with me or my work that we should talk about.” That might be making a bigger deal of it than you want to … but she is making a big deal of a routine exchange and it’s not unreasonable to push back a bit.

an overly cheerful executive keeps ordering me to feel great

2. Can I be fired for having alcohol in my car at work?

Can I be fired for having — not drinking — an alcoholic beverage in my car at work, on company property? And it wasn’t easily seen from the outside, you had to get very close because of the tint on my windows. So someone was looking very close to even see it.

It was only in my car. I had not consumed any, it was for an after-work event I was going to.

Firing someone because they have a bottle of wine or a six-pack in their car for an event after work (or hell, a shoulder of Smirnoff or whatever you had) is ridiculous. People use their cars to transport items outside of work; this shouldn’t be a big deal. You can indeed be fired for it, though. I’m guessing your company has a policy about no alcohol on company grounds and you were in violation of that.

If you haven’t already apologized and explained it was an after-work event and was an oversight on your part, you should do that ASAP. But they might not budge (especially if they’ve fired other people for it in the past, which could make it harder to be flexible now even if they wanted to).

3. How do I fire a client who isn’t terrible but isn’t good either?

I run my own business doing dog grooming. I have a healthy client base, and am not suffering for business. I have a client who isn’t necessarily bad, but a) never come pick up their dog on time, b) take hours after their appointment to pay me and c) never, ever tip me. They also have two dogs, one of which I’ve already had to refuse because it’s a mammoth-sized dog and I’m an average-sized human. They didn’t take it well and pushed back repeatedly.

At this point, I’m starting to feel like they’re more trouble than their business is worth but I don’t really have a reason to “fire” them. How do I let them down easy and avoid drama?

One of the easiest ways — especially if you don’t have a website with your rates listed publicly — is to raise what you’re charging them significantly, figuring that they’ll either decline to book further appointments or will at least be paying you a whole lot more if they do. (Of course, this only works if the increased rate is high enough that you’d be okay with doing more work for them under those terms. It should also be a rate that accounts for their lack of tipping.)

Otherwise, though, you could tell them you’re cutting back on hours and clients and are now booked out months ahead of time / don’t have any availability for the foreseeable future (“I’ve gotten so booked that I’m not taking new appointments at all right now”). Or tell them you can’t book more appointments for them because they’ve been late for pick-up so many times. Or, if you’re feeling generous and are willing to give them one more shot, you could give them a warning and let them know that if there are any more late pick-ups, you won’t be able to give them appointments in the future, and also that they’ll need to pay in advance from now on.

4. The ethics of lying about a Glassdoor review

I wrote a Glassdoor review about my current employer, and it mostly focused on the problems I have with their health insurance plan (I stuck with factual statements about it and I feel it is a fair assessment of the plan). I also have communicated a lot with HR about our health care plan (mostly to get issues escalated where I was being ghosted by the the plan administrators; to be fair, the escalation always worked).

My employer can probably figure out I’m one of the people most likely to have written the Glassdoor review. If they ask me if I wrote it, can I ethically lie and say I did not write it? I don’t think I’ll get fired over it, but I imagine I’ll be asked to take it down and all things considered I would rather not.

I think you can say you didn’t write it, given the power disparity and because that’s not a question they should be asking you in the first place. It’s similar to how you can ethically answer “no” if your employer asks if you’re job-searching and you are; they shouldn’t be asking, and the power disparity affects what’s ethically required of you.

Read an update to this letter

5. How to reply to positive feedback

Is there a best response when receiving positive feedback from a manager other than “thank you”? I will sometimes use it as an opportunity for the manager to point out where they think I can keep improving, but maybe they think I am missing the point.

Just stick with “thank you” or “thank you, I appreciate that.” That’s polite, it’s all that’s necessary, and it doesn’t negate the praise the way you risk doing if you turn it into a request for criticism.

That said, if you genuinely had concerns or questions about the work you’re being praised for, it’s fine to say something like, “I appreciate that! I actually wasn’t sure about how I handled the X piece of that — was there a different way I could have come at that?” But only say that if you’re genuinely wondering, not just as a way to seem humble when you’re praised.

I don’t know how to accept compliments graciously

{ 883 comments… read them below }

  1. Goober*

    LW #1: “How are you” isn’t a question that any reasonable person actually expects a serious answer to, it’s a greeting. And “I’m good” is a greeting in return.

    Your boss isn’t reasonable.

    My response to that question is generally, “I’m gettin’ by, and most days, that’s good enough.” Which is outside the expected enough to disrupt their routine, especially if they’re looking for an excuse to be nosy. (If you can’t dazzle ’em with your brilliance, baffle ’em with your bullsh*t.)

    1. Tracy*

      My reply was always “Just lovely!” For people who knew me for my sarcasm, this usually got a laugh, and for the annoying boss (that was just like LW1’s boss), this was the kind of answer they wanted to hear. So win-win for me.

          1. SheilaSue*

            in my department, “living the dream” has become code for “everything is on fire and I’m struggling, but nothing is likely to change”. Similar to the Situation Normal, all F’d up statement.

        1. "Mommy" Hours? Really?*

          “I’m Great!” or “I’m marvelous!”, doesn’t matter if either is true if boss is asking. OP, make it easy on yourself, navigating the workplace is a game, and this is low-stakes.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I often use “busy,so that’s good!” – chargeability (I’m a consultant) is one of our key metrics.
        Works for me, YMMV.

        1. Sue*

          yes – I always squinted really hard at my computer when people came by who I didn’t want to talk to, and would say fine, but I’ve got to get this done, in a voice that sounds like I’m concentrating on something intensely.

      2. GingerNP*

        I frequently say “So good!” and leave it up to the asker to determine whether I’m being sincere or sarcastic – and it varies enough that no one is ever completely sure.

      3. LabRat*

        “Filled to the brim with girlish glee” is my response when I’ve worn out on “not bad” or the obvious answer I can’t give is “everything is on fire and I can’t do anything about that”.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          I’m going to steal that one….and I’m a straight man. I’ll let you know how it goes over…

      4. So good!*

        I had a coworker who always no exceptions answered with “I’ve never had it so good!”. Sometimes it was genuine and sometimes it was sarcasm but the words never changed. He retired 10 or 12 years ago but I always loved that!

      5. Miette*

        “I’m GREAT! How are youuuuu?”

        Delivered with as much chipperness as I can muster. As an introvert in an extrovert’s job, I long ago learned I have to be performatively outgoing sometimes to get by.

      6. BatManDan*

        “tired but happy; same story since 1986” is my standard reply, said in a cheerful-but-resigned tone.

    2. Satan’s Panties*

      Del Griffith: “Well, I’m still a million bucks shy of being a millionaire!”

      Warren Zevon: “Tryin’ to survive up on Mulholland Drive!” (Helps to be in Los Angeles for that one.)

      Lal, from the Next Gen episode The Offspring: “I am functioning within normal parameters.”

          1. Kit*

            A customer at an old job used to use “Standin’ upright, takin’ in nourishment, better’n dead… but that’s just my opinion.”

        1. AngryOctopus*

          On a group text with friends when we were flying in to meet each other so so early: “I am not ready to party, but I am wearing pants.” I can actually use this one at work, we’re pretty laid back.

        2. Smithy*

          I’m stealing this.

          However, a current favorite of mine that I saw on a sign in a bar was “I’m so far behind I thought I was first.” Say that with a smile, and it usually works to get stunned, polite silence.

          1. wordswords*

            I admit I’d mostly be confused by that one in response to a “How are you,” but in any case, I don’t think I’d use it at work! Sounds like you’re talking about completely failing to keep up with the workload, which isn’t something I’d want to say unless it were actually both true and in a culture where you make offhand small talk to your boss about it.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Joe Walsh: “I can’t complain but sometimes I still do.”

        Billy Joel: “I’m in a New York State of Mind.”

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Ugh, I mean Tennessee Ernie Ford! Clearlt there isn’t enough coffee in the world to wake me up this morning.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Back when I had to be in an office early in the morning I favored “I will be just ducky after my first office cup of coffee.”

        1. Phryne*

          I may have had a co-worker tell me ‘I used to be a bit apprehensive around you but now I know I just have to leave you alone until after your first coffee and then you’re good.’

        2. Ukdancer*

          If asked early in the morning I do sometimes go with “I’m ok but will be better when the coffee kicks in.” I’m not hugely a morning person.

        3. Dona Florinda*

          I once said something like that to a coworker once and the guy started to lecture me about the dangers of coffee addiction. There’s some people you just can’t win with.

          1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

            If he’d done a bit more research, he’d have known about the dangers of lecturing coffee addicts before they’ve had their coffee.

      1. Frieda*

        Pitbull’s slightly more authoritative version is good too: “Every day above ground is a great day, remember that”

            1. Dainerra*

              having worked for several years at the happiest place on earth ™, I can assure you that if said with the right tone the phrase “have a Disney day” sounds exactly like “go f yourself”

              1. Former Themed Employee*

                I’ve always used “Have a Magical day” or “I hope your day is as magical as you are”, but same principle.

      2. Happy Hannah*

        “I’m here.” Is my response to everyone other than my super chipper grand boss, who gets an enthusiastic “I’m great!”

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I often just say “reasonable”. Funny thing: when I was at my previous job that meant “not so good”, at my current job means “doing well”

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I usually say, ‘I’m well, and you?’ Fortunately, most people I work with know this greeting and response isn’t meant to be a teaching moment on PMA or a download of real or perceived issues.

    4. MostlyMarried*

      One guy at my office’s default response is “Livin’ the dream!” in a cheery tone that you can take at face value or facetiousness as you choose.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        There was a meme going around on social media to the effect of that in the US Midwest, that actually means that you are barely hanging on – and, well, that’s fair.

    5. Sage*

      In the past I have responded with “as always”, which just says nothing but people tend to interpret as “good”, which is usually what they want to hear. At least in a non-english speaking country.

    6. Sleve*

      My default reply is “Not too bad”, maybe LW#1 could try that? I imagine it would be quite difficult for the boss to argue that, no, in fact, you are too bad.

      I like using the negation because it’s true anywhere in the emotional spectrum from ‘absolutely fantastic’ to ‘kind of bad, but not so bad that I can’t handle being here interacting with you right now’.

      1. Green Mamba*

        I used “not too bad” with a former grand boss. He, an American, understood that to be “not good” and became really concerned. Me, Irish, meant “good”. Cue much confusion about how different countries use the English language differently.

        1. Tomato Soup*

          For an American, it can easily be an issue of tone. This would be true within the US too. Ottherwise, it’s not an uncommon response. I can imagine that for someone from Ireland, there’s naturally more stress on the word “too.” So to many Americans, that could come off as “it’s bad but it’s not horrible.” Or they expect people to respond to that question with lots of enthusiasm. Two countries divided by a common language.

          1. Smithy*

            Yeah, honestly most of these responses if said with the right tone, to the right person and the right time of day – and it’s not big deal. Even if the response is something like ” five shades grayer and grimmer than Eeyore.” Say that with a big smile to your supervisor without any external visitors or senior staff around, and if you have a largely good relationship – it’s likely you’d get a laugh vs concern.

            But my desk is on the way to the toilet for my CEO and every now and then we will have a Grade A awkward small chat moment. She’ll ask how I’ve been, I’ll respond in a normal way but she’ll slightly misunderstand it, and it’ll fizzle out. She’s normal overall so it’s not a big deal, but it’s never about just the words.

          2. Khai of the Fortress of the Winds*

            One of Louise Penny’s characters uses FINE as an acronym for F’d up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Egotistical. So, when asked how I am, I answer “FINE” with a maniacal little laugh. I agree, it’s all in the tone.

        2. nona*

          Midwestern American here and “not too bad” also means “good” to us. We just can’t admit to things going well. That might be seen as bragging ;)

      1. Antilles*

        I usually use that too (or the similar “I’m okay, can’t complain”), but for the boss who’s willing to push on whether you sound sufficiently peppy? I suspect that would result in Boss making a big deal out of that.
        What do you mean no worse than usual? Is the usual bad? That doesn’t sound enthusiastic enough!

        1. Pizza Rat*

          Maybe it’s my age or maybe I just listened to too much Joe Walsh as a teen, but everytime I hear someone say, “I can’t complain,” what comes out of my mouth is, “but sometimes I still do.”

    7. Brooklynlite*

      I think adding something to “good” or even “fine” works best. As in “I’m good. Excited for the beautiful weather.”

      1. Anna Crusis*

        Aw, my non-country bumpkin mom said finer than a frog’s hair! I might have to use that one on my fake-cheerful boss.

        I am soooooo tempted to say I’m luxuriating in the company’s abundance. LOLOLOL. I had an excellent review earlier this year, which only resulted in a 3% raise, which I had to wait 3 months for it to take effect, and we all know that doesn’t cover the COL increase. Yes, I’m looking for a better job.

      1. HelenB2*

        I’ve always liked:
        If I’m in a particularly jaunty mood, I’ll look them right in the eye and say, “I’m not unwell, thank you.” Which ****es them off ’cause they have to figure that one out for themselves.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I wouldn’t use that with OP’s boss, though. Somebody who thinks you need someone to talk to for saying you’re good in a non-chipper tone of voice is likely to take that as “why don’t you feel you deserve good things?” Which is a whole ball of wax that OP doesn’t want.

        1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

          I know why I find it icky. Because I’ve lived my entire adult life with major depression. “Better than I deserve” is something I would think, but rarely say, precisely because I really believed that I always deserved worse.

          He’s tossing it out there like a casual joke. And an ironic joke as well. It’s obviously false humility. As if there’s anything in life that Dave Ramsey thinks he doesn’t deserve.

        2. Lydia*

          Well, Dave Ramsey is a Christian financial guru who uses biblical wisdom as the basis for his financial wisdom, so you’re not too far off.

          Unless I’m thinking of the other Dave Ramsey.

        3. JSPA*

          hunh, I always thought it hinted at a hangover, overdid it at the gym, or gamed online until 3 a.m.– things one chooses freely to do, despite knowing the likely consequences.

        4. ThisIshRightHere*

          yes, and I sheepishly admit that that is exactly why I was drawn to it. I, a sinner, am deserving of a fate much worse than that which–through divine grace– I have been granted. Would I ever say any of that at work? Of course not. But I do believe it. For me it triggers gratitude, not low self-esteem

      2. LW1 OP*

        Besides being pretty anti-Ramsey, this would inevitably invite some faux therapist speak from my boss about why I think I don’t deserve to be better which is not something I’m interested.

    8. Libellulebelle*

      My dad often cheerfully replied, “Fair to middling,” which might be just off kilter enough that your boss won’t know how to respond.

    9. Madame Arcati*

      I’ve just realised my general reply in this context is, “not too bad, not too bad!” I fear I am become a British stereotype, might as well doff my cap and have done. Still, mustn’t grumble.

      1. Kicking-k*

        I’m probably a Scottish one: “oh, doing away”. (I probably wouldn’t say this to colleagues who aren’t from these parts.)

    10. Butterfly Counter*

      I suspect that the boss wants to use the standard line as a starting-off point to show how caring and sensitive to her workers she is. I think she’d like for OP to go home and say to their partner, “You know, I wasn’t feeling all that great today and Boss really picked up on it. It’s great to know I can talk to her when I need to. I’m lucky to work for her.”

      However, the truth of it is (as we all know) that mornings can be tough and some of us have RBF and an unenthusiastic voice when we first get to work. It has nothing to do with how we’re actually doing once we get momentum.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Also as we all know, bosses who want to SEEM caring aren’t actually. If a boss is truly caring and supportive they don’t have to say it. They’ve shown it already in how they treat people. Which does not involve intrusive questions when someone is sending a billion signals that they do not want to talk.

        1. Llama Identity Thief*

          DING DING DING. If someone says one of those “fine” style punts, then they’re either a) too tired, b) too focused on the moment, c) too not-wanna-share-why, or d) too whatever reason they have to get into anything beyond fine. Truly caring people will pick up on that and not add to whatever burden the unspoken burden is, especially because 9 times out of 10 the burden is “living life and working work is inherently difficult and energy consuming,” not anything you can assist with. People like this boss are actively looking for opportunities to play the hero instead of looking to promote a better workplace.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Boss is looking for OP1 to ask about her in reverse. She needs affirmation the way most of us curmudgeons need morning coffee.

        Boss: “How are you?”
        OP1: (*hearty, forced enthusiasm) “Good, and you?”
        Boss: (*delighted, because now she’s the center of attention!) “Great! It’s a great day here at Acme Corp!”

        I hate that my advice is for OP to suck it up and just give Boss what she wants, but it’s only a few seconds of the day. If that’s the only major irritation in the job, then I could live with the exchange each morning.

        1. LW1 OP*

          I do ask her how she’s doing. She ignores me saying “and you” to talk about how I don’t sound good.

          Unfortunately it’s one of many issues but just the minor one that happened to bug me the morning I submitted it.

    11. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I hate people like OPs boss who just HAVE to keep pushing something inconsequential like a greeting. It’s a variation of the “smile” thing and it’s super annoying to be pushed. Not everyone likes the faked sunshine & rainbows all the time positivity.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        ^ This!

        Part of me would be tempted to answer something like “Doing great, aside from being hounded by people who don’t think I sound cheery enough!”

    12. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I now really want to respond with “how are you?” with “luxuriating in the company’s abundance.” I snort laughed at that one.

    13. noncommittal pseudonym*

      A former co-worker used to always respond with her caffeine status – “I’m fully caffeinated!” to “I really, really need coffee, I’m only 25% caffeinated”, etc.

    14. t-vex*

      If I’m not feeling peppy I think “Oh, you know… mornings” gets the point across without inviting further conversation.

    15. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Sometimes, just for fun, when people ask me this question I give them an honest answer. With details. For example, “I’m pretty tired because last night I dreamt that aliens invaded my local shopping centre and I had to recruit my childhood besties so that we could defeat them with our magical rings. So I’m pretty exhausted from spending all night fighting aliens. How are you?”
      The best part of working from home is that I only have to be normal some of the time…

      1. t-vex*

        omg please come work with me I would love to talk about dream aliens with a colleague first thing in the morning.

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        I too would love to work with you. We could make up the most outlandish things just to see the boss’ reaction. If the boss backs away slowly, even better!!!

    16. Merry and bright*

      I am notoriously not a morning person, so when my start time was 6 am, I would just say “it’s morning” or “ask me again later”.

    17. Llama Identity Thief*

      Thank you for reminding me how unreasonable I am in this regards. I understand why it won’t happen…but I really do wish people would respond with how they’re actually doing when I ask! I wanna know if someone’s in a bad mood, so I can go into either a) some form of help and comfort mode, or b) “this person likes being left alone when in bad mood” mode, depending on who it is. I don’t need the details of why if they do not feel comfortable sharing, but it just seems things would run easier overall if people were allowed to be open with their negativity.

    18. AnonInCanada*

      Or my go to: “kickin’ ass, takin’ names. You?” This boss’s reaction to a pleasantry (because that’s what it is, and little more) is absurd.

    19. Momma Bear*

      At this point, I’d go with the making a bigger deal because she won’t let it go. I had a boss who would get upset if I didn’t wish her a good morning – nevermind that I might be rushing into the office, she might be on her phone, maybe I didn’t pass her on the way in… People are weird. Return that weird to sender.

    20. JSPA*

      I’d try something that sounds more informative, but basically adds up to, “nothing you need to get involved with.” I’ve used “undercaffeinated and antsy to dive into my work and my coffee” or “focusing on a thought, let me get back to you [said with a distracted smile] but then I don’t circle back.

      I have met different sorts of people who do this.

      One sort mistakenly believes that this is how one is supposed to engage with their reports, to be ranked highly for caring and being proactively helpful. Which is to say they don’t have a clue about how to manage… but it is mostly an ignorance / incompetence problem. And they’re not deeply invested.

      Another sort are just socially inept yet deadpan enough that this is meant to be mutually-entertaining banter. From them it’s a little bit eye-rolly, but not a sign of something more problematic. You can either mention that you don’t do banter in the morning…or learn the one little bit of call and response, and shrug.

      Anther sort are cult members, manipulators, or otherwise psychologically unhealthy to be around. They may never stop pushing…and anything you say can and will be used against you. So make what you say bland, or something without much bite.

      If the manager goes around, talking to people about how they are worried that you are too caffeine dependent or too focused on work in the morning? That’s not going to strike anyone else as problematic. So choose the “poison” you’re willing to re-encounter.

      I I would generally not mention anything about pets or the commute or anything that could be spun into, “she’s distracted by her personal life” or “doesn’t cope well with normal stress.” (Tempting as it is, I’d also avoid “better before you asked me the same thing three times.”)

    21. Sled Dog Mama*

      When I was studying the Russian language in college I learned that a very Russian response to “How are you?” is to reply “Nothing” I’ve long wished that English had an accepted equivalent.

    22. Dancing Otter*

      “I will be magnificent (wide happy eyes) as soon as I have my coffee! And how are you?”

      If you want to return nosy for nosy, remark that she (?) looks a little tired, and is she all right?

    23. Thunder Kitten*

      I think I gave a rather mundane answer and my boss commented on it exactly once. My reply to his comment was “we actually I’m supercalifragilisticexpialadocious”. There was a stunned minute of silence, and he never commented on it again…

    24. ferrina*

      When I get annoyed by an over-aggressive “How are you?”, I go for malicious compliance. You will hear about how I am, and I will tell you about the Niche Thing Only I Am Interested in, and I will give you the dull details on something that you utterly do not care about, but you will not complain because you asked.

      You will get the excruciating details of my drive in to work and where traffic was clear and where I happened across a red light.
      You will get a dramatic retelling of That Cute Thing My Kid Did…and if you are not properly tortured, I will tell you a Second Cute Thing My Kid Did.
      Not a book person? You will get a full recap of my current book and exactly what other books I’m reminded of and a full retelling of the plots of those books.
      Don’t care about D&D? I will give you a full recap of our latest session.

      I’ve found that most people back off after one time of this (I find it also helps to drink my coffee extra early and extra strong so I have the energy to pull this off)

    25. amies*

      I have always wanted to use Anne of Green Gables’s “I am well in body although considerably rumpled in spirit” but never had the occasion – this would be the perfect use.

    26. Kevin Sours*

      There are contexts were that is a reasonable reply — SOs, siblings, intimate friends. None of them involve work.

    27. Random Bystander*

      Exactly … even if someone *is* holding back tears, if that individual replies “fine” or “good” that simply means that they are acknowledging the social nicety of a greeting that does not expect a real answer.

      I will never forget [spoiler, I am now 2 years and 2 months cancer-free] on the Friday after I received my diagnosis on the Monday of that week and had yet to see my oncologist, working on an issue with someone in another location and department from mine. Although there was zero reason to make it a phone call instead of IM, she insisted it needed to be a phone call. I tried several times to deflect and say that I thought we could handle it by IM, that we nearly had the matter resolved (true), and so on. (At that time, the only work people who knew were my supervisor, my team lead, and the one person at work who is an actual friend rather than a friendly work acquaintance–I had zero intention of sharing the diagnosis). Finally succumbed to making it a call. The reason she wanted to make it a call was so she could do a “Yay! It’s Friday” cheer. I was not enthusiastic, she pushed even more and I finally said, “I was diagnosed with cancer four days ago. I’m just getting one foot in front of the other right now.” She was apologetic, but *sheesh* there are times when social niceties are really stretching one’s coping ability, and expressing “appropriate enthusiasm” is just not gonna happen.

    28. Sneaky Squirrel*

      My response to “How are you” is “oh, it’s (insert day of the week here)”.

      “How are you?”
      “Oh, you know, it’s Tuesday”.

      Most people will insert their own thoughts about what that means. Busy? Tired? Just peachy? Usually I get a “you know that’s right” or “I hear that”.

    29. Betty Jones*

      When people ask this routine question I often reply with “fabulous”. This sometimes leads to a chuckle because it’s a non-standard answer. Maybe this will satisfy your boss since she clearly is looking for an upbeat answer ( or an opportunity to intervene in something that is not her business).

  2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    One of my coworkers go to response in the morning to “how are you?” was, “I’d be better if mornings started later.”

    I had another coworker who, well, you left them alone till after their third cup of coffee (which they generally were pouring in the office kitchen right after getting there). Oh the day the coffee maker shorted out due to a power surge over the weekend. . . .

    Honestly, if you are slightly grumpy about early mornings, I will be right there with you so long as you are pleasant and professional to customers. There is also a reason I’m thrilled to have gotten a work from home B-Shift job.

    1. allathian*

      Thankfully I don’t have to see customers in person, but a former coworker would just growl at you if you dared to greet her before noon. At the time, we had to be at work by 9 am or explain to the boss why we were late or get an excuse beforehand. She never got in before 8.45, and by that time I’d been working for at least an hour. We have flexible hours now, so it wouldn’t be an issue anymore, but she switched jobs before we got them.

      A subdued “hi” got a nod in response, but a cheerful “good morning!” which was my instinctive greeting because I’m very much a morning person, would just get you a grimace and a growl in response. At the time, everyone in our department had their own office, so I learned to avoid her in the mornings. We had some personal conflict anyway, so I never told anyone about her behavior. But I have to admit that mornings at work were a lot more pleasant when she left, even if hiring her replacement took 6 months and I was very busy for much of that time.

      1. AA*

        Wait, I don’t understand this. You had to be at work by 9 and she got there at 8:45. What’s the issue?

        1. Allonge*

          I expect the fact that she was growly at a not-that-horrendously-early time, continuing on to noon? Morning person or not, growly is not a good way to be.

        2. amoeba*

          Don’t think there was an issue with her being late, just that she obviously hated being in before nine, even though she made it!

          1. allathian*

            You got it. Sorry I was a bit unclear. If she’d been allowed to set her hours and if having kids in elementary and junior high hadn’t meant that she had to get up earlier than she preferred anyway, she wouldn’t have been at work before 10.

            This was more than 10 years ago and we didn’t even have laptops, so we couldn’t WFH.

            I still run into her at conferences, and while I wouldn’t want to work with her again (no doubt the feeling’s mutual), we swap news when we see each other and have a reasonably friendly professional relationship. She’s much happier now that she and her husband are empty nesters and her current employer’s as flexible as mine in that she can start work at 10.

            1. Moodbling*

              You seem so nice! I would go pretty far out of my way to avoid catching up with someone who made a habit of *literally growling* at me.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        As a night owl, I feel straight up sick in the mornings. Everyone gives me a cheerful, happy “Good morning!” because they are all morning people and honestly, if you feel sick, every morning of your life, you are not going to be having a “good” one.

        Obviously she’s gone so this isn’t an issue any more, but being filled with perk and cheer around someone who feels like chicken fried arse every morning (because as a night owl, you really don’t sleep well five nights a week, can’t go to bed “early” and sleep in the same way that early birds do) is maybe…something to tone down around some people.

        1. Observer*

          but being filled with perk and cheer around someone who feels like chicken fried arse every morning . . .something to tone down around some people

          I get what you are saying because I am close to some people who are like you, in terms of sleep schedules. And while sleep was not my issue, I’ve been through times where mornings – or any time for that matter – didn’t feel “good” because of what I was going through. But saying “good morning” to someone, greeting them (in a normal way) or asking them a question is hardly being so “filled with perk and cheer” that people need to “tone down”. And forbidding people from normal pleasantries because someone is feeling like garbage is neither fair nor helpful. Not even to the person who wants everyone to pretend like they are working with a bunch of robots rather than people.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Thank you. Not everyone is a morning person. Instead of expecting not morning people to fake peppiness, the morning people could tone it down a bit.

          Kinda like how introverts are expected to fake it but somehow no one asks the extroverts to leave people alone.

          1. Yorick*

            There’s a big difference between peppiness and growling at people, though. She didn’t need to fake being cheery, a nod after a cheerful “good morning” would have been fine.

          2. Allonge*

            Would you be ok with morning people growling at you after, say, 5pm instead of saying good-bye or good evening?

            1. I Have RBF*

              They do. I live with a total lark, and the rest of the household is night owls. She gets growly after 7 pm, as is in bed by 9 pm.

          3. Warrior Princess Xena*

            Smiling and nodding to a colleague’s “good morning” doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable ask. If you’re being accosted into long conversations that’s whole different matter, but my experience with offices is that smiling, waving, nodding, or answering back with “good morning” completes the social circuit just as effectively as a long conversation and goes a long way towards building stable coworker relationships.

    2. Observer*

      I had another coworker who, well, you left them alone till after their third cup of coffee (which they generally were pouring in the office kitchen right after getting there). Oh the day the coffee maker shorted out due to a power surge over the weekend. . . .

      I really have very little patience for people like this, or the person @allathian mentions. If you have a job, you are supposedly a competent adult. We expect better from children for the most part!

      I get it – it’s harder to be on your b est game when you are hungry, tired or in a schedule that doesn’t match your circadian rhythm, never mind other stressors. And some people just are not chirpy, cheery, team cheerleader types anyway. But there is a huge chasm between that and simply being polite. Even someone who comes swooshing in with “Good morning! How ARE you this LOVELY sunny morning!?” should generally get a “Morning. Fine.”

      Honestly, if you are slightly grumpy about early mornings, I will be right there with you so long as you are pleasant and professional to customers.

      I think that coworkers should get the same treatment.

  3. Tip Off*

    #3 – I’m… confused. Probably largely because I’m not American, but… you run your own business, setting your own rates… why would anyone be *tipping you* on top of that?

    1. Caramel and Cheddar*

      I live in a tipping culture and that confused me too. If you’re the boss, you get to set how much you make; if it’s not enough without a tip, raise your rates. I’ve only ever heard of tipping on service when the person you’re tipping doesn’t set their own wages.

      1. Mary*

        I was very confused by this comment as well. I come from a non tipping culture. If you set a fair rate for your work which as the business owner you can, why do you expect clients to over pay you? If you want more money just set a higher rate.

        I was wondering if it was something to do with tax?

        1. GrooveBat*

          Without getting into the propriety of whether to tip a business owner who sets their own rates, the easiest way to handle this is to build an automatic gratuity into your rates and itemize it on your invoice.

        2. Well...*

          It’s not just tax — if people are expecting to tip, they will read your increased rates incorrectly. They’ll think they have to tip on top of that, and your service may look too expensive.

          Globally, you’re right, but in practice everyone’s expectations matter.

          1. Starbuck*

            Then you can put up a sign saying ‘we politely decline tips.’ I’ve seen other places in the US do it!

      2. Carl*

        That was my understanding as well. (And I am American). If you own the business, you charge me what you charge me (bc you know your business expenses and thus you know the gross that would be worth your time).
        Tips are for people who don’t have that control.

        That said, I think with certain small businesses in service areas where tips are customary (e.g., dog walking, cleaning), it may be common for owners to set a rate assuming they will still get tipped.

        I know this bc a completely unhinged former dog walker screamed at me in the street for not tipping – and I honestly had googled it and based on google results just thought that was what I was supposed to do – holiday tip/bonus, but not “per walk” tip. (I’m generally a big tipper and my worse fear is not tipping when it’s expected or not meeting an expectation – hence the googling!) If he had just given a higher rate, I gladly would have paid no question!! I ultimately replaced the dog walker due to other emotional and reliability issues, but, hey, lesson learned.

        I hate tipping culture. It’s so complicated. Just give me a price. I’m not a mind reader.

        1. Caliente Papillon*

          People who yell at people for not tipping them are so ridiculous and kind of pathetic. I’m not saying don’t ask but have some freaking decorum. “I just wanted to mention that people generally tip for this service.” But yeah I guess someone would have to be unhinged to be such an entitled ass, with no customer service skills whatsoever. You are not owed a tip! And I am a former server and an excellent tipper. Shit sometimes I’ll interact with someone helping me who I’d love to tip who is just doing their job well and graciously and is not someone who is set up to receive tips.

        2. Are we there yet?*

          Yes to hating tipping culture! This thread is stressing me out because I’ve never tipped my cat sitter and am now wondering if her other clients do. She sets her rates and sends an invoice a few days before the first scheduled visit. I like her, but it’s never occurred to me that a tip might be expected.

          1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

            It’s ok to ask!

            I worked as a taxi and limo driver for a number of years. Plenty of people use these services rarely enough that they don’t know. I would never raise the subject but I was always happy when someone who was unsure thought to ask rather than guess.

            However she handles the question, I doubt you’d be the first to ask it.

        3. Little birdie*

          I am from a culture frequently stereotyped as “cheap,” and “not tipping” is also one of my great fears, on behalf of my entire culture.

        4. Twix*

          “That said, I think with certain small businesses in service areas where tips are customary (e.g., dog walking, cleaning), it may be common for owners to set a rate assuming they will still get tipped.”

          This is absolutely true. I’m American and my ex-wife is the owner-operator of a barber shop. The vast majority of her customers tipped her and she set her prices accordingly, because that’s the standard practice for the industry. Setting her rates to have what she wanted to make after tips baked into them would have made her look a lot more expensive than local competitors to people searching “barber shop” on Google Maps or whatever and cost her a ton of business, and a lot of her regulars would have likely paid the higher price and then tipped on top of that, effectively overpaying.

          I think tipping culture is stupid, and if you’re a bigger operation that can afford to risk clients over a misunderstanding on tipping policy then I am all for it. But a lot of small businesses operate on extremely thin margins and don’t have much choice about following the conventions of the industry if they want to stay in business. The idea that business owners have the freedom to set their prices based on what they think their time is worth really doesn’t hold true if you’re providing a highly fungible service in a competitive market.

          1. I'm just here for the cats!!*

            I’m on the fense about tipping. IF you are the business owner and sole employee I don’t think you should expect to be tipped.

            However, in some situations, I could see tipping. Like for a groomer and my dog is covered in mud, or if I had a house cleaner and there was an extra mess or something, I would tip.

            And maybe that’s where the OP is coming from. The customer’s dog is problematic, and so is the customers behavior so the least they could do is give an extra few dollars.

            1. Twix*

              Well, I understand where the whole “Tip employees but not owners” thing comes from but my point is that in some industries, your customers are going to expect to tip you, so you have to price accordingly if you want your price to be competitive with other people providing the same service who are expecting to be tipped. Your ability to set your prices based on how you value your time is constrained by what the market will bear. It’s one thing if you have employees and are earning money from their work, but depending on the service in question there may or may not be a whole lot of difference between being an employee and being a sole proprietor. For barbering, many people who are technically employees essentially function as independent contractors – you pay $X per month to rent a chair in someone’s shop and you manage your own prices, services, clientele, etc. Personally I always look at tipping as payment for services rendered; if I would tip based on the base price and quality of the work, I don’t see the relationship between the person providing the service and the business as particularly relevant.

            2. MassMatt*

              Yes, IMO tipping is for employees, not business owners, unless there is something unusual or “above and beyond” about this particular job or service.

              If you feel like your service warrants $25 plus a $5 tip, just charge $30 and any tip is a bonus.

            3. Miette*

              If my dog needs extra attention at the groomer (like he’s muddy or has mats), then my groomer has no problem charging me extra for the extra work.

              I don’t think it’s fair to have to research the nuances of an industry before making the decision to tip or not, sorry. If you’re the business owner, charge a rate that means you make money. If you’re an employee of said business, I will tip you.

            1. Joielle*

              That’s what my hairdresser just did – she increased her prices 20% and removed the tip prompt from her payment system. It’s great! I love being able to just pay the bill and not have to calculate the tip in my head.

          2. Canned Platypus*

            This is an interesting example. I’m not up on subtleties between barbershops and salons, but in a salon, you don’t tip the owner.

            1. Imtheone*

              At my salon, the owner seems to expect it. My previous experience is that owners don’t get tipped. I give a big tip at Christmas, in lieu of a gift.

            2. Rainy*

              My stylist recently moved to a new salon where she’s an independent contractor rather than an employee, and tips are still expected.

              1. Overit*

                My 20+ year stylist was an independent contractor in a salon and did not expect tips. (I did give her a great holiday present every year.)
                And that is a big reason why tipping culture sucks — so much variation, you never know what is correct.

              2. Canned Platypus*

                Yes, the most common convention is that you tip all the stylists in the salon except the owner. That includes both direct employees and independent contractors.
                So your experience is in line with tipping convention, whereas Overit’s experience is not.

          3. Dahlia*

            I’m not american, and I used to go to a hairdresser who did it out of her home. I always tipped her 5 bucks because she only charged me 15 for a hair cut and she only lived across the street from me. Just seemed fair.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        As Luke on Gilmore Girls used to say “you don’t tip the proprietor!”
        But also, dog grooming, like hairstyling, is often a tipped job culturally. So I can see how the clients A) might not know the owner is the owner and B) tip out of habit.
        Also C) OP may not be aware of this convention or possibly the tipping culture is so entrenched in this industry it usually doesn’t apply? I don’t know, as I’m not in that industry.

      4. Miette*

        THIS. I am in the US–a very tipping culture–and I would not tip a business owner for a service. If the person delivering that service worked for OP, then I would tip.

        1. Gerri's Jaunty Hat*

          Yes, not tipping business owners is still technically the etiquette rule (just charge the price you want!) and used to be considered embarrassing to ask for. But people are used to it now just because people figured out they could get away with it. And a lot of people feel terrible if they tip less than 20% when asked, even in settings where they shouldn’t be asked.

    2. Ingemma*

      Yeah this is just a cultural difference.

      On a philosophical level I agree with you that it’s an odd one, but in practice this type of service is tipped in most of the US & Canada (unless in the rare circumstance it’s outlined you don’t tip.)

      it’s not dissimilar to tipping your hairdresser which we definitely do here – they’re often renting chairs and then setting their own rates. But you get used to the math where the base price for something is often pre tax & pre tip. Some people do of course organize their businesses so that there is no tipping – but realistically they’re swimming (arguably admirably) against the tide. And having to do some heavy lifting to explain their prices are AFTER service (and therefore not just higher,) and depending on the circumstances might result in them making less money overall, which is a tall order.

      I grew up in the UK but have been over here for long enough that I can no longer remember what is tipped there (and it might have changed since I left.) I think when I left a 10%ish service tip was polite but not required in some restaurants.

      Anyways, I’m sure you’ll get a bunch of anti-tip replies and a bunch of frustrated (North) Americans who are bored of having these conversations. (Mostly because ‘this is ridiculous’ isn’t particularly actionable for most of us, it is the sea we are swimming in, etc and so it can feel righteous even when it’s not meant like that!)

      1. amoeba*

        Tipping your hairdresser is a common thing to do even in a “tips are nice, but not required” culture! So wasn’t too surprised it might be a thing for a doggy hairdresser as well.
        But yeah, if that’s the main problem, I’d just adjust the rates accordingly for that specific customer. Or even raise them for everybody and say tips are included! (Might not come out on top if there’s usually people who tip more than average though…)

        1. Ingemma*

          no disagreement from me here on that!

          – though I could understand too if the LW’s point was less that tipping was required / super rude to not do and more that if you were going to be an otherwise inconvenient customer AND a great tipper, you might be able to pay your way into it being acceptable to the LW. But then Alison’s advice to just raise this persons fee solves your issue so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

        2. Pat*

          Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to tip the salon owner, but I’ve always done it – not for different reasons. The first place I did that, I was too intimidated to NOT tip the owner. The other two hairdressers I’ve gone to on a regular basis own/owned their own tiny shops and needed the money. It’s also the same amount I had been paying when they worked at big salons, so I figured – why not?

          1. Gray Lady*

            Yup, I tip my salon owner figuring she sets her rates to get business in the door but wouldn’t mind making a bit more.

            But I’d be appalled at the idea that a tip was “required” and I was a “bad client” for not doing it, in the case of the owner. I figure she might have clients that can afford her base rates but can’t afford to tip, and she’d rather set a lower rate, do without the tips from some people, and depend on people who can spare the tips to help make up the difference, than lose her “can barely afford” customers entirely. Maybe it’s because it’s the kind of salon that caters strongly toward senior citizens, so I think the salon visit might be more of a stretch for some of them, that I think this way.

        3. Sloanicota*

          I have always heard you’re not supposed to tip the salon owner, but it’s kind of opaque sometimes.

        4. Waiting on the bus*

          Over here tipping your hairdresser is a new thing (my father refuses to do so because because it wasn’t a thing for most of his life) and I’m sooooo uncertain on how much I should tip. I even thought about posing the question in the open thread, I’m just not sure which one.

          1. YouKnowWho*

            I moved from a country that didn’t tip hair-stylists (or did a minimal extra like 5 – 20 bucks depending on the service) and I got caught on my last appointment. Their system was run from a laptop so the receptionist asks (in front of EVERYONE) if you wish to tip and then if you want to give 18%, 20% or 25%

            I’m normally pretty good about not caving in to tip pressure but the whole situation was uncomfortable, I panicked, said 18% and since it was a colour service it ended up being something like a $65.I’m still pissed about it and despite the work being good I never went back.

            Sorry not helpful at all, but I had to share the experience. By the way I typically tip 20-30 bucks on colour, and 20 on cut and style in Canada if that’s a reference point.

      2. Don't Be Longsuffering*

        Unfortunately tipping culture is infecting many places in Europe, largely through phone apps. I am currently in a country where the minimum wage is desperately low vs. prices we all must pay, so I’m not terribly upset, but I hate to see this backward way of doing things becoming more widespread.

        1. amoeba*

          Huh, interesting – don’t think it has changed much in Germany since I was a child – some people like to say there was no tipping culture, but I’ve grown up with “tipping is the nice thing to do” (10% or so), but it’s OK to not tip if you cannot afford it or the service was bad. In my experience, this hasn’t changed, and if anything, I welcome the opportunity to directly add the tip via app/credit card!
          I feel like delivery services also add the option because nowadays fewer and fewer people have cash around (I certainly don’t) and thus the delivery person would miss out on tips that used to be in cash back in the day…

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I mean, I (American) tip my hairdresser, and I know he owns the salon! But his rates are the same as everyone else there, so it’s clearly the expectation.

        1. Jessica*

          Yeah, my hairdresser is also the salon owner, so I started out not tipping him because that was the rule I learned (don’t tip the business owner; they set the prices) and it makes sense to me. I started tipping after realizing he was charging the same price as his employees.

          I’m American, but I’m perpetually confused by tipping culture and I hate it.

        2. Canned Platypus*

          His rates are the same as everyone else, but he makes profit off all the other stylists renting his space (assuming multiple stylists at his salon). That’s why you don’t tip the owner.

          I tip, and I also hate tipping culture. I hate that the consumer is made responsible for the service provider’s wages. I think I mostly hate capitalism, but that’s a subject for a different blog.

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      You own the business. You told the customer what you charge for the service.

      Don’t complain that they don’t pay more than you asked for.

      If you don’t want to do business with a particular customer, tell them so. I doubt they will be back.

      1. darsynia*

        The fact is that many people will view the prices as ‘price + my choice of tip’ and setting global prices higher will price people out who would plan on tipping. That’s a foolish thing to do if the number of people who do not tip is lower than the number of people who would.

        Is that the way things should work? Maybe not, but it’s not on the letter writer to change tip culture. Also, I hope no one is looking down on them for wanting to be tipped if it’s customary in their location and business. What folks do elsewhere shouldn’t affect how they see this LW.

        1. Student*

          The LW can literally change the expectation for tips their business if they so desire. They can post a “no tips” sign right next to their rates to counter customer perceptions, and implement a policy that staff do not accept tips. Other businesses have done this to counter tipping culture.

          The countervailing issue in the US right now against that is the tight labor market. If LW does not allow tipping, then LW has to offer a higher wage to make up for the lack of tips, which is probably not something the LW wants to do. In the US, it often works better (for the business owner, not the employees) to allow tips and then shift blame to the employee for not “earning” tips. In practice, it must be noted, tips in most industries are based substantively on discriminatory factors like race, gender, and age. However, the employee will have the perception that wages could get better and have the perception that their wage is partially their own fault, without actually needing to be paid better consistently by the business owner.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I’m more confused she turned a dog away for size (not behavior). I’m surprised these clients want to come back. Perhaps she can refer them to someone else and everyone will win.

        1. Not my real name*

          Grooming dogs is a very physical job. You have to be able to lift and manipulate the dogs to some extent. My sister groomed dogs for years before she retired and she ended up with a bad shoulder injury due to a large dog that decided it was done getting groomed.

          1. Kel*

            Yes this. When you’re one person, handling a 100lbs dog on an off a table can be a challenge. Even more so if the dog ends up being difficult to groom.

        2. Student*

          This is physics. The more mass a dog has, the more damage they can do to you. Momentum = mass * velocity. Energy = 0.5 * mass * velocity^2. The more momentum or energy something has, the more damage it can potentially do in a collision with you.
          The less mass you have, the sooner you hit the threshold where a large dog can do damage to you without much effort – and a large fast dog can do a lot of damage. Without any ill intent or hostility on the dog’s part needed; they’re just excited and ready to GO!

          Have you interacted with old dogs that have mobility issues? Lifting them up and down can be hard on a person, if the dog is large. It can also be hard on the dog – you need to be careful not to exacerbate any injuries or sore spots they may have.

          Have you interacted with dogs that aren’t trained well? I took care of a ~120 lb dog for a friend. It wanted to play with a dog it saw across the street, so it tried to zoom off with all its heart. I, mean human that I am, did not want it to run across a road to play with the other dog, so I stood still. My finger was caught between us, in the leash as it slipped down my arm, and fractured in three pieces.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I’m sorry that happened to you :( I do have a large dog myself, but I don’t think I understood that people were lifting (???) dogs his size up on to the counter. I assumed there was a ramp or something, or that they use lower counters for big dogs, since you couldn’t reach the top of mine if his paws are at eye level, or something.

            1. Melody Powers*

              I’ve worked in several different places where dog grooming is done and the most common thing is to have to lift every dog onto the table. The place I work now just did construction and the groomers have a brand new area to work in, and we were very excited that we would have steps up to the bath tub so we wouldn’t have to lift the big dogs in anymore. Turns out most of them are too scared or stubborn to use them and we haven’t actually saved ourselves much trouble. Still beats having to ask for several people to help lift a 150lb dog though, which is still the standard in the other areas.

              1. Sloanicota*

                My goodness, I clearly don’t give my big dog enough credit, as I would not have guessed he would behave if someone tried to lift him up bodily.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I had to stop using my mobile grooming service for my Dane because she didn’t fit well in the tub in their truck anymore once she hit full-size. She would be okay if she just sat still, but she likes to play with water, which is very cute but rather like wrestling an elephant seal with legs. The non-mobile groomer has more space to work with her and uses more like a large shower type stall installation with waist-high sides and a floor drain, where she still tries to slurp the water out of the nozzle while she’s being rinsed off, but isn’t also splashing around in a tub partially full of soapy water at the same time.

          But my older smaller dog still does fine with the mobile groomer, and she gets stressed out by the whole experience of going to the “normal” grooming salon because she doesn’t like the car ride or the fact that there are other dogs around. So to each according to their needs. :)

    4. Samwise*

      Yeah yeah, that’s the old fashioned etiquette. Like not wearing white after Labor Day. Or whether divorced women can use their ex husband’s name (Mrs Judy Smith vs Mrs John Smith). [insert eye roll emoji here]

      My hairdresser owns her own shop. I always tip her. Generously. Because she does a fabulous job And because she works longer hours than me and makes less per year than I do.

      1. MK*

        That’s also true for many people that you don’t even think of tipping, because your new-fashioned etiquette doesn’t apply to them. It’s not because you do things more fairly than in the past, it’s just you (general you) changed mostly arbitrary rules to… a slightly different set of arbitrary rules.

        Also, a satisfied customer giving a service provider a little extra is one thing, a successful business owner who can turn down business and set their own rates judging a client for not tipping them is another.

        1. Samwise*

          Right, that’s my point.

          It’s a convention. Explanations about why business owners (as a category) aren’t tipped are posthoc.

          Anyone doesn’t want to tip business owners, for whatever personal reason, I don’t see a problem, that’s each person’s decision. My issue is with the economic arguments, as if that’s the real reason –when the reason is, it’s a convention.

          1. MK*

            The argument isn’t about money, though; it’s about the power to make money. I think tipping culture is hugely problematic and I don’t want to support it in any way, shape or form. But an employee who works on a tipping system has zero power to affect that change, and my not tipping will only result in them not making a living wage, so I tip. A business owner can set their price and a no-tipping policy; if they don’t, that’s on them.

      2. Shenandoah*

        I certainly don’t want to discourage you from tipping your hairdresser, but tipping a business owner (who is able to set their own price and had the capital to start a business) feels very different than the other conventions to me? Like I wonder if it started as a pushback to tip stealing?

        My hairdresser (a one woman business) sets a hourly rate that she says on her website includes gratuity (it’s over $100 an hour for the curious – very expensive for me but she’s so goooood). I chatted with her about it at our last appointment and she said the custom made things confusing for her customers and like OP, she felt frustrated about tip inconsistency. I really appreciate the clarity in her pricing!

          1. doreen*

            So have I – and my understanding is that it’s for two reasons. One is that as the owner, he or she sets the prices and can charge what they feel the service is worth. The second is that as the owner , he or she profits from the employees’ work. Making up numbers, but let’s say I pay $50 for a haircut and the stylist keeps $25 and the gets the other 25. Some of that $25 goes to overhead and some is profit that goes to the owner.

            1. Cj*

              this is where I think some of the confusion with tipping your hairdresser comes in. my hairdresser is self-employed and can set her own rates, but she rents her spot in the shop she works out of. she is not making money off of the other employees. I do tip her, and hair stylists I’ve had in the past with the same situation. I don’t think I would tip a business owner that was making money off the other hair stylists there.

              1. Samwise*

                I’m intrigued by this idea that the owner is making money off the other hair stylists — not just you, Cj, a lot of commentary stating this.

                Isn’t the owner employing these stylists? Paying a wage or salary? Or, offering a space and facilities and perhaps services like appointment-making for stylists who rent a chair?

                Any employee in a revenue-generating business is making money for the employer. The employee is paid (wage, salary, commission, etc) to do so. Some of those situations are unethical (grotesquely underpaying waitstaff because they’re supposedly making it up in tips, for instance). But not all.

                1. Sloanicota*

                  The owner is not paying the hair stylists. They are basically on contract. The owner is the one who provides the space and the chair, which the other stylists then rent (as well as the walk-in business the location may attract) but most important, the owner *sets the price of that rent,* meaning she has in theory set a price that allows her to cover her expenses and still make a profit. You have to tip the stylists because the owner is getting somewhere between 20-50% of the money you’re paying them. That’s why you don’t have to also tip the owner.

                2. doreen*

                  Any employee in a revenue generating business is making money for the employer – there isn’t any dispute about that. But that means the owner who still cuts hair is making more than the stylist in the next chair who is either an employee or rents the chair

                3. Starbuck*

                  Nope. Hairdressers typically operate on the same model as exotic dancers – they are renting their use of space in the business (stage, pole, or chair) so THEY PAY the owner. The owner does not pay them, unless you count them operating the payment processing system that passes through what the clients are paying the hairdressers. They are not employees – some states, maybe have worker protections strict enough that they might be covered, I don’t know, probably not though.

        1. Jules*

          My husband went to a barber who only takes appts that are prepaid online and doesn’t accept tips. I think that’s genius for service providers with appt times. No ambiguity in what they expect to be paid and solves the problem of people not showing up.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        It’s not merely old fashioned etiquette. It is old fashioned social/power differential. Think of a Victorian gentleman traveling with his luggage. He doesn’t carry it himself. There are working class men or boys eager to do that for him, in the expectation of receiving a tip.

        The only legitimate modern equivalent I can think of was the time I blow a tire in the middle of the night while wearing a suit. I am perfectly capable of changing a tire, but changing a tire while not ruining the suit would be trickier. A passerby who may or may not have been homeless offered to do it for me. Afterwards I gave him a twenty.

        Tipping wait staff is a holdover from the bad old days. At this point it is simply an irrational business model, where the wait staff are employees of the business but receive the bulk of their income from tips.

      4. Gerri's Jaunty Hat*

        It’s not “old fashioned” in the same way as clothing styles. Business owners set their own wages and prices. The rule never changed, people just stopped feeling abashed at asking.

    5. Adam*

      That might make logical sense, but it’s hard to administer. How do you know who is an owner and who is an employee? If an owner has an employee but also works in the business, do you tip or not based on who you get? What if you booked the owner but an employee shows up, do you change your tipping plans?

      That kind of thing is why tipping culture is based on service provided, not employment status. You tip dog walkers but not plumbers, no matter if they’re self-employed or part of a thousand-person operation.

      1. Ukdancer*

        I know who owns the hairdresser I use because it says so on the website beside the bios for the different stylists. This has been the norm at most reasonably upmarket salons in my experience.

        I used to tip the stylist when I had a senior stylist. He left to go back to Poland and I started having the owner so I don’t tip her because she sets the prices. That’s always been how I’ve done things.

        Same with the massage therapist or spa services. I tip the employees but wouldn’t tip the owner. I always book the same therapist at my usual place and if she’s not available the salon contacts me to check if I want to reschedule or have someone else. I never have the spa owner there because it’s a guy and I will only have female therapists.

        1. Sssssssssssssssssssssss*

          I have never tipped for my massage therapy. When I pay by credit card, there’s no option to add a tip and they don’t behave like they’re expecting one when I say goodbye. They were happy to see me return as a regular.

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I definitely don’t read all the bios for services I use. I just tip and assume it’s either a bonus or expected one way or the other.

          But as a disclaimer I also tip on the ipad screens everyone complains about so I might be out of step.

      2. Zoe*

        See this doesn’t make sense to me (from the UK) – why would you tip the dog walker but not the plumber? They’ve both provided a service, both own the business, what’s the difference?

        1. alienor*

          You generally only tip when it’s a non-essential service. Dog walker, hairdresser, restaurant server, manicurist=yes. Plumber, mechanic, the person who does your scan at the hospital=no. I don’t know why it’s that way, but it is.

        2. Armchair Analyst*

          Don’t most plumbers go through a great deal of education, apprenticeship, and licensing? This makes them seem more professional and organized than other kinds of labor, certainly when compared to a dog walker. Could a plumber even accept tips, or is that seen as a bribe?

          I don’t know

          1. Moonstone*

            I always tip my plumber. He’s fantastic, always shows up when he says he will, and the work is excellent. Most people probably don’t tip their plumber but I will always tip him.

            1. STAT!*

              Does your plumber not charge a service fee? Most home-call professionals do, in my experience. It can make up a substantial part of their fee if the job is very small. Anyway, to me that is their tip baked right into their service pricing structure.

        3. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          I’ve lived in the US my whole life and I am also confused. I think the guidance provided by alienor is generally good but doesn’t always hold up. I suspect there may be something to do with the fact that plumbers are typically unionized? Because you’re also expected to tip housekeeping at a hotel and if you are in a hotel that is not really non-essential.

          I’m going to be honest I don’t think there’s a consistent rule so much as a series of historical artifacts with similar themes. I did recently find a salon where each stylist set their own rates and they charge by the hour instead of by gender or hair length and they refuse tips because they get to set their own fee instead of the salon doing it for them. It takes all the guesswork out and it rules.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I’m so interested in this now. All I can think is that plumbers and other contractors are very expensive because in theory they’re setting prices that meet their needs, and I *hope* unions cover the “little guys” at bigger plumbing companies. If the “luxury/nonessential” theory of tipping is correct, it may be because they need to set a lower price to attract customers. I have always found it unfair that tips are generally a percentage, when the work is probably hardest at the lower-end establishments.

          2. YouTipWho?*

            wait, what?!?!?!

            who tips housekeeping at a hotel? they’re paid by the hotel for a service included with your stay, not an extra you request…

            1. Moonstone*

              Seriously? You don’t leave a tip for housekeeping?? Yes, this is something that you are most definitely supposed to do and should be doing. They are generally the lowest paid employees doing demanding and physically intensive work. Tip them accordingly.

              1. I Have RBF*

                It is generally considered appropriate to leave a buck or two per person per night.

                If my wife and I stay in a hotel for five nights, we a) don’t have the room turned while they’re there (I’m allergic to fragrances), and b) tip $20 at the end for the maid that has to turn the room. Especially at the large chains, the housekeeping staff is among the lowest paid and hardest working at the site.

            2. Relentlessly Socratic*

              My first job was housekeeper, at a small mom and pop motel in a tourist state (we famously don’t have many large chains). I made well above minimum wage at the time, but we also had tip envelopes. I didn’t expect tips, but they were nice to get. We traveled a lot when I was a kid, and my folks never left anything for housekeeping, but tipped normally in restaurants or in a salon (but not to the owner, per the majority of this discussion).

              Flash forward to today, I’ll tip at a B&B or small local place, but not usually at a Marriott or similar. It boggles my mind that people do–housekeeping is a critical function of the hotel/motel, not an optional nicety.

              Having said that, I usually try to be pretty tidy in my room, which is easy to do. I usually don’t request housekeeping during my stay unless it’s over 5 days (I check in, and that Do Not Disturb sign stays up the whole time). I don’t need someone changing my sheets. making my bed, or picking up my towels for a shorter stay. If for some reason, I made a mess or had a lot to ask from the staff, then I probably would leave something as “pain in the butt tax.”

        4. former academic*

          There’s a huge racial history around tipping in the US that is (like so many aspects of our history around race) largely ignored. Basically, in the US, tipping started post-Civil-War for service occupations that were held by formerly enslaved people as a way to justify continuing to not pay/underpay them. Plumbers/mechanics/etc. were so-called ‘skilled’ trades traditionally held by/restricted to White men, so you didn’t tip them. Cleaners/household help/barbers/restaurant servers were more likely to be Black and thus tipped. (More information: and

          1. Silver Robin*

            +1 exactly; which means there are no good rules around tipping since it requires knowledge of historical racist practices, how they influence today, and how they have (or have not) shifted over time. It is a headache and a half with a rotten history; I cannot wait till the US gets rid of tipping.

          2. Starbuck*

            Yep. But to add insult to this historical injury, Black workers are on average tipped less than other workers for the same service (think servers). Yet another reason to abolish tipping – by which I mean, eliminate all exceptions for employers to use a “tip credit” to pay less than the minimum wage required for all other workers. If you personally want to keep dropping cash on the table, fine.

          3. Eater of Hotdish*

            …………..You know, I’ve never encountered that piece of historical context before, and that says something really damning about the way we study history in this country.

            Thanks for sharing this.

    6. MassChick*

      Came here to ask exactly this! LW3 should feel free to fire/discontinue the client for the other reasons or just because. But not tipping a business owner is reasonable.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        With a client that I was iffy about continuing to work with (because they were disorganized and always gave me wrong information, meaning I had to do unnecessary rework all the time), I increased my rates significantly. I call it the “aggravation tax”.

        Turns out, I quite like working with the client at the new rate. I’ve come to expect and anticipate where most of the issues will be, feel compensated for the extra time for the issues I couldn’t expect, and find it somewhat entertaining that they manage to create issues I never could have imagined. Being compensated for the time all this takes makes it worthwhile.

        If the OP can’t be compensated – eg. the client being late to pick up their pet means their work/life balance is thrown off – I would tell the client that this is the reason – but diplomatically.

        eg. “I just cannot accommodate your need to pick up Fifi after 5 PM because I have to pick my kid up from daycare and cannot be late. I feel like you would be better served with someone who has a more flexible schedule. After next week, I can’t take Fifi any more.”

        Firing clients while maintaining a good relationship is an art. Keep focused on the fact that your and their needs simply do not align, and make them feel like you are doing them a favour / keeping their interests in mind by acknowledging this fact and suggesting an alternative vendor (if you know of one).

      1. Higgs Bison*

        All of this “don’t tip the business owner” talk seems like it makes things overcomplicated. Does that mean every time I go to a new barber or hail a taxi or use a cleaning service I need to then on top of that look up whether they are an owner or an employee? It’s hard enough to keep track of how much to tip at a restaurant vs for hotel housecleaning vs taxis without also keeping track of who is a sole proprieter and who is an employee, especially for one-off services like taxis.

        (I know that ultimately the solution is to get rid of tipping, but I’d be a jerk if I tried to do that unilaterally in a tipping culture.)

        1. doreen*

          It may differ where you live , but where I live, the owners of taxis don’t usually drive the taxis – and even if they do, they don’t set their own rates the way the barbershop owner does so they all get tipped . I ‘d be really surprised if the owner of a cleaning service like a Merry Maids franchise is cleaning houses. The “owner doesn’t get tipped” is really for single employee businesses ( the cleaner who doesn’t work for a service) and certain services where there is an owner who sets prices and profits from every service provided and there are either employees or people who rent space working there. Much of the time you will know who the owner is in that situation.

        2. B*

          I think you’re overcomplicating this. The point is, if you go to a one-person small business like a dog groomer who clearly has no employees, it is generally not necessary to tip. You don’t have to go research the ownership structure of every place you patronize, just continue to tip them.

    7. Brooklynlite*

      But she sets her rates knowing people will tip. If nearly every client leaves 20% it absolutely makes business sense to fire the (difficult) one who doesn’t.

    8. No tip*

      It’s never crossed my mind to top my dog groomer. She’s the owner and sets the rates. Tipping for this service doesn’t seem normal.

      1. Miss Scarlett*

        I tip my dog groomer because my dog is difficult to groom. He is wiggly and sensitive, and can be snappy if he’s had enough brushing or fluffing. Dog is a mixed breed rescue that got the worst traits of two breeds. Mats easily no matter how much I brush or comb him. Needs shaved every other groom. And I give the groomer a BIG tip and the holidays too. It’s worth it to keep my dog’s coat healthy and keep the groomer happy to deal my dog.

        Yes, it is her job, but she could fire my dog as a client. I tip to say I appreciate you dealing with this dog.

        1. MK*

          It’s not that tipping a business owner/freelancer is wrong, no one is saying that. Tipping is not a thing in my country (beyond “keep the change”), but I also give extra to people who provide extraordinarily good service or if the service I asked for/needed was especially difficult. That doesn’t mean tipping is expected or that not tipping makes a bad customer.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          I am absolutely going to tip my dog groomer, because she has small dog butt problems, and my one experience with expressing her glands myself made me realize that there is not enough money in the world for me to do that regularly (and she nips).

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        My dog groomer is connected to my dog’s daycare and they just charge the card on file, so I never really think of tipping. But now I feel like maybe I should figure out how because my dog is a lot.

    9. Zzzzzz*

      I am an American and it throws me too. Owners SHOULDN’T be tipped but I have had owners complain to me about not being able to pay themselves… (TMI!) raise your rates or change your biz model.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m American and was raised to tip service workers high–and had it drummed into me that you don’t tip the business owner. (Including by the owner of the fancy salon where Mom took me for a treat as an adult.)

    11. Moodbling*

      My spouse was a bargain handyman working for himself for a while, and he actually got tips as well. (Which was good, because his extremely low rates were bankrupting us.) So it could also be a gentle message from one’s customers that one is undercharging.

    12. Thatoneoverthere*

      American here, if I know for sure someone owns their own business- I give a small tip (dependent on the service). The guy that does my hair, doesn’t work for a salon and just himself. So I know that it all goes back to him. However for a while I saw an esthetician that worked for a bigger spa, and she always got a 20% tip.

    13. Retired Professor*

      American here. My hairdresser used to work in a bigger shop and of course I tipped her. She started her own shop and did not want to raise her rates for all of her long time clients. So she didn’t. She says all of her clients still tip so she charges assuming tips.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        My hairdresser did the same thing–when he opened his own place, I didn’t tip him (but did tip the fun lady who I went to for waxing, because she was the employee). Although I didn’t tip him, I did refer new clients to him, which, hey, new customers=good!

        He sent out a mailing very apologetically about raising his rates after he’d been open for…7 or 8 years? And it was a big increase.

        MY DUDE–incrementally raise your rates like a COLA adjustment! It’s totally normal! Don’t wait until you’re bleeding and then increase 20%, that’s what gives clients heartburn.

    14. Emilia Bedelia*

      I think the point of that comment is that they’re not even paying extra for the inconvenience they cause.
      Regardless of whether OP “should” or “shouldn’t” be tipped, they might feel differently about keeping this client if they were making more money.

    15. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      We are all right to be confused because this system is horribly confusing for both consumer and worker, but in my mind it makes perfect sense to tip a dog groomer in the same way it makes perfect sense to tip an artist you commission. People often set their rates lower than they would like because you have to make concessions to attract business. And most services in the US are competing with some corporate version that is criminally underpaid, so if you charge what you actually need to survive you’ll never have customers.

      It’s a delicate balance and confusing for everyone and the real villain was capitalism all along.

      1. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

        It would literally never occur to me to tip an artist on a commission. The artist sets a price for the commission, and that’s what I pay. What is the tip for?

        1. Ludo*

          I guess for me it’s like tipping a tattoo artist, which you should do assuming you like the work

          art it art

        2. Relentlessly Socratic*

          Yeah, I would never tip artists on top of the price they set? What a weird thing to do. As noted above, what I would (and do) do is recommend them to other potential customers.

      2. Ask Jeeves*

        “People often set their rates lower than they would like because you have to make concessions to attract business. And most services in the US are competing with some corporate version that is criminally underpaid, so if you charge what you actually need to survive you’ll never have customers.
        It’s a delicate balance and confusing for everyone and the real villain was capitalism all along.”

        All of this ^^

        I’ve been a self-employed dog walker and undercharged to match larger companies while providing much more in terms of service. If I had stayed in the industry I would have eventually raised my rates but I also really appreciated and relied on the holiday bonuses I got (I did not expect or receive tips from regular clients, but did from occasional clients and it brought my rate up to what it honestly should have been).

        As for commissioned art… while this doesn’t apply to known artists, many artists who offer commissions on platforms like Etsy or Instagram are in fact undercharging and would probably appreciate a tip that brought their rates up to a living hourly wage. Or rather, they’d appreciate being told if you think their art is worth more than they’re charging (and if you think it’s worth a living wage it’s almost certainly worth more than they’re asking).

        Imposter syndrome is huge (as is competition from corporations/ other countries with a lower cost of living depending on the product). Lots of people who are self-employed are a) setting their prices compared to competitors rather than basing it on a livable hourly wage with accurately calculated expenses and b) have a hard time asking for that price even if they have calculated it accurately (in art especially imposter syndrome is a huge barrier).

        I do think a lot of people eventually learn, get over their imposter syndrome, and set their prices higher. But equally… a lot of people give up or burn out, so if you like what they’re doing and want them to keep doing it (whether that’s grooming your dog or painting a commissioned portrait of your dog as a renaissance dandy), it’s helpful to tell them and show them that you value their labour!

        tl;dr: agreed, the real villain was capitalism all along

    16. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Obviously, her other clients tip her and this one doesn’t. All this grumbling about tipping only blames the average Josephine for the systemic effects of capitalism. Tips are usually 15-20% of the service charge, profits are nowhere near that. My hair stylist owns her place and works 7 days a week because rent is absurdly expensive.

    17. Kel*

      Certainly didn’t mean for this to turn into a whole conversation about tipping culture. Wouldn’t fire a client for not tipping; but not respecting my time+paying me late + ALSO not tipping on top of that? That’s not okay.

    18. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      Tipping culture. They are providing a service so often times people will tip on top of the charge. Similar how if you go to the hair salon or barber the client might tip based on their satisfaction of the hair cut/style.

      Being that she owns her business I don’t think she should be expecting tips. Most people tip their hair stylist because they know that the person only gets a cut of the profits. (Many stylists have to rent out their chair in the salon or give the salon owner a percentage of the earnings minus tips.

    19. DivergentStitches*

      Neurodivergent here and I’ve struggled with tipping myself. I get haircuts from someone who runs their own chair and I tip but at first I didn’t realize I was supposed to.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree. Tipping is such a mess sometimes. Honestly, if I knew someone didn’t tip and their dog was a lot of work, I’d set the flat fee higher vs waiting for them to compensate.

        Insofar as firing them, not respecting your time is a reasonable reason. If this was a daycare, this person might be charged per MINUTE they were late, and 3x they’d be out. LW has already had to decline one dog so the owner shouldn’t be surprised about a second.

    20. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

      I am an American who has worked partly for tips in a number of jobs over decades and that jumped out at me too.

      I’m a generous tipper after years of working in service industries. I sometimes tip in situations where it’s not really required. Where it’s expected (servers, drivers, hairstylists) I go a bit overboard, preferring to err on the side of too much than too little.

      In this situation, hiring an independent freelancer to provide a service, they name a fee and I agree to pay it, it would never have occurred to me to give a tip. No more than I would tip an electrician who repaired the wiring in my house.

      I’d strongly suggest to LW to adjust her rates upward across the board, then maybe start turning down tips when offered. Reset your clients’ expectations. Think of yourself less of a server working for tips and more of a professional providing a service for a fee.

      It’s also really common for freelancers (in all kinds of fields) to charge higher rates to particularly difficult customers. They refer to it (among themselves) as the “a-hole tax”. Obviously don’t call it that but it is perfectly normal to charge more for difficult customers because working for them is more difficult.

      Don’t let your clients dictate the value of your work.

    21. JSPA*

      Even in the US many business owners refuse tips, if they can afford to do so (and some, even if they can’t, as a point of pride).

      I like to tip. When an owner refuses, saying “I don’t take tips, I own the place,” I’ll sometimes say, “Could you pass it along to the staff, or to a good cause, then?” But, yeah, owners don’t generally expect tips.

    22. PieAdmin*

      I’m American and came to the comments section because I was also confused. My understanding has always been that you don’t tip business owners. I wonder if this view has gotten skewed recently by those automatic tipping card readers, where you get asked to tip for everything, even things that have never been tipped services before.

    23. Lola*

      Yeah, tipping culture is weird and the rules differ depending on who you’re talking to. I went to a hairdreser for several years and always tipped her. Then she opened her own salon. *Technically* I should’ve stopped tipping her when she opened her own place, becuase she’s the owner, not just renting a chair, but it felt so awkward not to, that I just kept on tipping.

    24. Falling Diphthong*

      The norm is in fact that as sole worker of a small business you don’t get tips, and the rates are the rates. But I think it’s become blurry with tipping wandering off into so many new areas.

      Example with massage:
      When my massage therapist left the group practice and became a solo practitioner, she raised her rates and stopped taking tips. I really appreciated this. The person I see for shiatsu, in a small practice, also does this.

      When my usual person was on maternity leave and I saw some other solo practitioners they did take tips, and I always offered at the first appointment because I didn’t know.

    25. tinyhipsterboy*

      American here, and it’s always confused me a bit – like, I’ve straight-up asked my hairdresser (who luckily I used to work with and have been friendly with for almost a decade now) about it and he’s assured me he gets 100% of the rate he charges. I think part of it might be just the default settings for a lot of POS machines (whether you use Square or something else) requiring the tip question, or maybe people sometimes want to tip a bit more if it’s a particularly good job, something ran long/got more complicated than it should have, or it’s coming up on a holiday.

      Even before I asked my hairdresser, though, I kind of figured it was to have separate money go toward him. Like, I figure in a lot of situations like this, the rate includes considerations for business rent/supplies/taxes/etc., whereas tip goes straight to them for whatever they actually want to use it for. Dunno how true that actually is, though.

    26. Caroline*

      I am American and was confused by this as well. If I hire someone directly who sets their own prices — like a dog-walker who owns their own business — I would assume that they set the price to include sufficient compensation for themselves. I wouldn’t assume I need to tip on top of that.

      I tip people who provide a service but are employed by someone else, like restaurant servers or hotel housekeeping.

    27. "Mommy" Hours? Really?*

      It is my understanding that typically, shop owners don’t need to get tipped. No dog groomer experience, mostly restaurants and beauty salons.

    28. Ask Jeeves*

      I’ve read over 100 replies to this comment (some of them very insightful!) and SO many people are frustrated with tipping culture but I think I read exactly one comment that pointed out that the solution is a higher minimum wage (rather than making a point by withholding a tip from someone in a service industry who, self-employed or not, could probably use the money). If you don’t tip your dog groomer or cleaning person because they’re self-employed but ignore the fact that they’re setting their prices to compete with larger companies that don’t pay their staff a living wage… you’re missing the bigger picture.

      1. STAT!*

        Yep. Harvester Judgment was handed down in 1907 – perhaps Australia’s greatest contribution to modern society. More than a century later and people are still having to fight for a living wage? Sheesh.

  4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    For OP3 – may I second Alison’s suggestion of just not booking more appointments for this client due to just being too busy. However, if you want to soften the blow you could give them a recommendation or two for a different groomer they could move their dogs to for grooming services.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Yeah I think the easiest thing may be, since you’re the owner and operator and presumably doing your own scheduling, to just always have a conflict with whatever date they want to schedule. That seems easier to me than an annoyance tax, but they’re effectively the same solution.

      1. Gray Lady*

        To be honest, I don’t know how you’d actually do that in practice. What happens when they say (which they will say about 15 seconds into the conversation) “When’s your next opening?

        I think you have to either continue with this client, or explain why you can’t.

        1. Kel*

          Yeah, I think that’s an issue. There’s online booking; they’ll be able to book themselves into the next appt.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Likely because small businesses depend on word-of-mouth and a good reputation. It can be daunting to fire a client openly, for fear of how they will speak of you to others.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Is there etiquette around recommending a client to other groomers that you know to be problematic? Genuine question, I know this is a thing in some industries but not sure for this one.

      1. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

        I had the same question! In my industry (I do freelance graphic design/content creation/website management), there’s an unspoken rule about recommending another designer without first clearing it with that designer.

        Ex.: A friend of mine had a client who did teapot sales. This person was a very typical teapot sales-eque client: always late with stuff, everything was last minute, lots of edits. My friend couldn’t handle the client. She asked me if I was interested in said client, because my whole family are teapot sales people, so I am used to their particular brand of weird. I said sure. She dropped them as a client, recommended me, and five years later, I still work with them monthly. I have gotten them to be slightly better about deadlines, I raised my rates to a point where I am compensated fairly for the hassle they give me, and because I am used to teapot sales people, we get along swimmingly.

        But if you know the client doesn’t pay on time, is late to pick up. pushes back on reasonable requests, it’s kind of a jerk move to foist them off on someone else without clearing it with that person first.

      2. Jaydee*

        Well, there may be other groomers that are set up in a way that minimizes the problems this customer is causing. Like if they require payment when you pick up your dog, or if they have multiple groomers working at the same time so they can team lift/wrangle the big dog, or if they have a couple of kennels set up for dogs waiting to be picked up, or if they charge a fee for late pick-ups. A larger grooming business might not find this customer terribly problematic just because they might be better able to accommodate or work around these things.

      3. Beth*

        That’s a really good point, unless the OP knows other groomers who specialize in canine elephants with PITA owners.

      4. Kiki Is The Most*

        Yeaaaa I think in any self-owned gig this could be hard if you fire the client. I would leave it up to them to figure out how to proceed. However, in the case of a bigger dog, recommending another groomer would seem reasonable. I have never given a recommendation after firing a client and if for some reason their next provider contacts me then I am honest and just keep it to the facts. Sometimes people learn their lesson and their next stylist/groomer/etc gets better treatment and no issues because you held your ground.

      5. iglwif*

        I had to do this a few years ago with a freelance client (not dog grooming) and I was brutally honest with the person I asked to take over from me: this person pays really well (I know this because my first tactic was to charge them more per hour to try to discourage them) and won’t complain about how long the job takes, but the annoyance factor is SUPER HIGH. I left absolutely nothing out of my briefing.

        They still agreed to take on the client, and at that point, good luck to them.

    3. B*

      I think it really depends on whether OP3 would be happy to continue working for this client if the three issues flagged are addressed. If so, a straightforward conversation seems in order. “Sorry but I am a small business and I cannot accommodate late pickups or late payment. If you can’t ensure those things don’t happen again I would recommend another service.”

    1. Irish Teacher*

      There’s an answer in Irish that translates as “on the pig’s back.” It makes sense in Ireland, but I would imagine it would create a bit of confusion elsewhere.

      It means you’re doing really well, by the way. Like things are exceptionally good.

      1. Throwaway Account*

        My spouse is from China. The traditional “hey, how are you?” greeting translates to, “have you eaten rice today?”

        So I’m picturing an answer like, “I’ve eaten rice today” – for max confusion!

    2. Maz*

      Boss was on a business trip overseas and called to check in. When he asked his admin how things were going she replied, “Like a house on fire.” When he came back and discovered we’d actually had a fire in the plant, he asked why she didn’t tell him. Her response was, “I did!” Then a few years later there was a flood due to a broken pipe and the response to how things were going was, “Swimmingly.” That time he asked for clarification!

    3. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      One of my favorite podcasters, Alie Ward, opens up each episode of Ologies with an off-the-wall, random thing like that which I would 100% steal and use with that boss if they were mine. A small sampling, subbing in “I’m doing as well as” for the “Oh hey, hi. It’s” part:

      “Oh heeey. It’s the Coconut LaCroix that tastes just like sunscreen and you wouldn’t have it any other way, Alie Ward, back with an episode of Ologies.”

      “Oh hey, hi. It’s your neighbor who just needs a couple tips on how to start weightlifting real quick, Alie Ward. I’m back with an episode of Ologies.”

      “Oh hey. It’s your neighbor’s cat who hangs out by the mailboxes, and who should definitely be inside but is also very convincing when she asks for belly rubs, Alie Ward, back with the MOST exciting episode of Ologies ever made.”

      1. Anna*

        LOL I love some aspects of Ologies (I think she finds good topics and good interviewees and asks interesting questions) but I hate the nonsense gibberish portions of it, and wish there was a way to fast forward.

  5. My Dog Is On My Couch And I Have Nowhere To Sit*

    A dear friend of mine always answers “Upright and above ground”

    1. LouiseAnn*

      I always tell my boss… we’ll I ain’t dead and I’m here… didn’t marry rich yet. But she has a laugh easily…

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      My former coworker was “living the dream” when asked how are you.

      My ex said his friend’s son once answered how are you with “I’m 6”!

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        “I’m 6” is a great answer. Too bad that approach only works for people under 10 or over 80, neither of which you’re likely to encounter as coworkers.

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        At one toxic workplace the response was “living the dream, working the nightmare.” It worked because their marketing slogan was working for them was a dream come true.

  6. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    I have Asperger’s, so I have a big problem with “how are you” being used as an expression and not an actual expression of concern/interest in how someone’s doing.

    Because of my Asperger’s, it took me a long time to realize “how are you” is just an expression. I still remember the time, 20 years ago, when my then-boss asked me “how are you” and I responded by saying “I have [a medical condition I had been recently diagnosed with].”

    1. Samwise*

      That’s really interesting. I’m neurotypical and I’m sure this is something my mom taught me, because I remember her explaining it to my youngest sibling (also neurotypical)

      Mom said, Just say, Fine thank you, and how are you?

      1. doreen*

        I have a feeling most people, neurotypical or not, are explicitly taught this in childhood. Of course some people aren’t taught and either take a long time to pick it up or never do – but some of those people who never get it are neurotypical.

        1. Van Wilder*

          When I was in high school (late 90s), I used to say “hi” to friends when passing in the hallway. The boys would always say “what’s up?” when passing. I would freeze, confused, and then they were already gone, or try to quickly blurt out “nothing what’s up with you!”

          It took me months or longer to realize this was just a greeting that didn’t require an answer.

      2. I'm just here for the cats!!*

        It can also be a culture thing. Sometimes people from other places hear “how are you” and they launch into their whole story because they think people really want to know. Because “how are you” isn’t a common greating.

    2. Carl*

      This is quite charming.

      One of my favorite things is when someone asks “how are you?” And gets a very honest response.

      Maybe that’s the OPs solution. Respond with “well, I’m concerned I have the beginning of an ingrown toenail. It’s fine now, but I’m certainly going to keep any eye on it. You can’t be too careful. My left knee, also, I’m trying to decide if it is aching. Maybe? I was told years ago that one leg is a fraction of a millimeter shorter than the other. Never bothered me, but I’ve always had in the back of my mind ‘one of these days!’ You know. Back. Hips. Knee. Second toe. It’s all about angles. You can’t be too careful. I had a doctor tell me once that I was in for it big time bc my second toe is longer than my big toe. True story. Never bothered me but – ‘one of these days.’ I’m bracing myself. Thank you for asking. Which reminds me, did you know that shoes can really affect us. I’ve been researching shoes. There is so much to know. Arch support. Width. Cushioning. Heel. I’ve really been thinking. So many shoe variables, any one of which can have a tremendous effect on our daily lives. Our destiny. How are your shoes today?”

      1. pally*

        I have a co-worker who responds similarly. You get a litany of all her aches and pains. And there’s a lot of them. Takes many minutes to go through them all.

        So we’ve learned not to ask.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Honesty isn’t the problem with that response… it’s just far too long and detailed. Like asking someone if they know Bob and getting a five minute litany of everything they’ve ever done with the guy.

        Most people would be totally fine with a response of “Mostly alright, although my toe’s been bothering me lately” or “Not so great, but thanks for asking.”

    3. DJ Abbott*

      I answer the phone at work, and the total stranger asks me how I am and waits for an answer.
      I know they want to hear “fine”or “good”. They don’t want to hear the truth, which might be, “I am incredibly stressed”, or “my boss is driving me nuts with micromanagement.”
      I’m annoyed at having to lie to reassure them, and wish they wouldn’t ask unless they really want to know.

      1. Observer*

        Are you up to responding to a question / request for help in an appropriate and helpful fashion? When someone wants an answer they are either waiting for an acknowledgment that they greeted you and a like acknowledgement of their humanity and / or they want an answer to the question I described.

        So when someone says “How are you?” and pauses, and you answer “fine”, if that means “Ready to be as helpful as is practical”, then you are not lying.

        1. Kes*

          Yeah, to me it’s less that people don’t care or don’t want to know the truth (although that can be the case as well), as much as that the level of information that it’s appropriate to share in this case varies based on how well you know the person. When you’re talking to a stranger the level of detail that it’s appropriate to share is very low, so as long as you’re good enough to engage in whatever interaction is needed, you can just say ‘good’ or ‘fine’. With someone you actually know better and are friends with, you may share a little more. But only people you’re very close to really need to hear all the details of exactly how your life is going

      2. Aggretsuko*

        I hate having to say “fine” myself. I’m NOT FINE but I have to pretend to be all the time. But it’s polite to pretend like you care, I guess.

        I also hate “I hope that you are doing well” in emails, but I ignore it every time, because as the song lyrics go, I’m not sick, but I’m not well.

        1. Pippa K*

          Hm, the latter point is interesting; I hadn’t realized that phrase in emails might be annoying people. Possibly because, while I see verbal “how are you” exchanges as rote social gestures, when I say “I hope you’re doing well” in an email, I genuinely mean it. If I don’t mean it, I just leave it out (since the more honest “I hope you fall in a well” is so rarely work-appropriate.)

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Lol! :D
            One thing I’ve learned from this site is no matter what you do, someone out there will be annoyed by it. So I just do what seems best.

      3. Yorick*

        There are lots of acceptable responses that aren’t super positive. For example, “hanging in there” or “I’m here!” in the right tone won’t make anyone concerned or feel too awkward, but you can feel ok with not lying about having a great day.

      4. Ace in the Hole*

        You don’t have to lie, just don’t be overly specific and keep the tone mild.

        “I’ve been better,” “It’s a monday!” “Oh gosh, let’s not go there,” “ready to get this done,” “Eh, you know. You?” “Got a lot on my plate.” “Looking forward to the weekend.” “Hanging in there.” “Not dead yet!” “A little frazzled, but we’ll pull through.” “Whew, it’s been a day. So…” “Putting out fires.”

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          I’d love to put up a spin-the-wheel with all of those listed, then when asked, spin the wheel.
          Alas, this is my one regret as a remote worker….That no one would ever see it.

    4. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Neurodivergent community in the house!! I struggle so much with this very commonplace greeting. Even now that I know it’s just a figure of speech and not a genuine inquiry, I struggle so much with giving a dishonest answer and if I’m having a bad day it’s even harder to fight my brain chemistry into submission!

      I don’t have any tips or tricks, but I see you and you aren’t the only one.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Most of the time I don’t feel the need to actually lie and say I’m good when I’m not, but I do want to avoid sounding overly negative. I have a way of answering literally but not giving the whole truth. I say something else that’s true while smiling — “it is a DAY!”, “lots of meetings today” or “getting there!”. Or something like “ready to get home” at the store or “hungry” at the takeout place. Anyone paying attention sees the sidestep, I’m not fooling anyone, but it feels authentic.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        My ASD young adult has solved this by simply grunting “Fine” or “Good” at anyone who asks how he is doing. He seems to have recognized that this is an “initiating conversation” ping, rather than a genuine question.

        He treats all attempts to ask him questions about how he is doing as if someone is trying to obtain state secrets. I am quite positive that he treats these exchanges as a game to see how little information he can give.

        1. STAT!*

          My (non-ASD) nephew was like this when a teenager! It became a game for me to ask him as many stupid, annoying questions as possible & enjoy the one word replies. Good times!

      3. Gerri's Jaunty Hat*

        It’s not dishonest to answer a phatic expression in the spirit of what it’s asking, not literally. “Could be better” is fine, or “OK” [and you mentally fill in the rest of the sentence, ‘considering what a terrible day it’s been’]. There are lots of options. I get that it can be tricky to observe which are standard and what’s considered weird, but thinking of it as lying when it isn’t won’t be helpful.

      4. Sleve*

        For all the ND people looking for an honest but versatile reply, “Not too bad! Yourself?” is a good one. You can define “too bad” in your mind to mean something like “in hospital” or “my house has burned down”, hence it’s almost always true and appropriate, even when you’re having a really rough day.

        If you’re not sure how to say it without encouraging further enquiry, put the emphasis on the word bad with a slight rising inflection at the end. “Not too bad. Yourself?”.

        Many (not all, not most, but many) NT people will understand an emphasis on the word bad with a rising end inflection to be a rote reply; an emphasis on the word bad with a falling end inflection to mean you’re feeling sad; and and an emphasis on the word too with any inflection to mean you’re feeling bad and trying to get the other person to ask why.

        1. Sleve*

          Following on from this, I work in a field with a lot of ND people and something I’ve noticed that my colleagues with autism struggle with is the fact that the rules for what words go where are a lot clearer than the rules for what emphasis goes where. This is in direct contrast to my colleagues with ADHD, who tend to use words as a mechanism for conveying the tone and emphasis that carries the real meaning of the statement (sometimes to the point of asking you to pass the screwdriver when you both know they meant allenkey). This leads to problems when one person is trying to carry a message purely in tone to a person who only hears the words.

          But don’t despair! Even though most English speakers use tone and emphasis without thinking (in much the same way that they use grammar), there are actually rules that they’re unconsciously following. And what’s better, these rules can be explicitly learned. Most people weren’t born in English speaking countries and have to learn a second language if they want to communicate with English speakers, so it’s not unusual to have to learn other peoples’ communication rules. It can be done! I’d recommend Dr Geoff Lindsey’s youtube videos on Deaccenting and Weak Forms as a good place to start understanding how NT people view this stuff.

    5. Clown Eradicator*

      I was also explicitly coached on it as a kid by my grandmother. I don’t even know if my parents know that happened. So much when I was a kid was ignored and I just got dx.

      I generally reply with “I’m alive.” at this point.

    6. Kicking-k*

      Same. I have learned that “How are you?” just requires the answer, “Fine, and you?” but I sometimes miss other phrasings like “How’s it going?” or “How are things with you?”

      1. Spearmint*

        See but it depends on context. I learned the rule that these were “just greetings”, but it took me a long time to learn that in some contexts you’re supposed to actually answer the question.

    7. darsynia*

      I always answered truthfully too and people got so UPSET with me over it, it was baffling for years. We’re all just expected to know when the question isn’t genuine, and if we don’t catch that social cue, we’re the jerks? bleh.

      1. GingerNP*

        This has been my malfunction my entire life People ask how I am and I tell them and in some cases it is a *problem*

    8. Generic Name*

      I may or may not be neurodivergent, and I figured out in my 20s that “how are you” is just a greeting and no one is actually asking how I am. I was in grad school at the time, and I remember walking the halls chanting in my head “fine. And you?” So my response to the greeting would be automatic. It worked for me, and now, 20 years later, it is an automatic response.

    9. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      My autistic rule is take what is true and dial it all the way down to 0.2. So, if I’m fantastic, I’m fine, and if I am having the worst day of my life, I “could be better.”

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I eventually realized that not all human communication with was directly about a thing, but rather than some of it was pings, syncing noises, or parity bits for error correction just like computers needed. I think of most “how are you today?” type communication as being similar to how modems used to sing the same specific little tones to each other to make sure they could agree on a speed and protocol before trying to exchange other data.

      This has made me a much politer giant weirdo.

      1. Aerin*

        The nice thing about that comparison is that in my (American) experience, it actually is specific tones! Answering the question descends a bit, then reciprocating the question climbs back up to end on a point slightly higher than the starting. I could notate it on a musical staff if I wanted to.

        Which means that as long as you hit the (literal!) right notes, it doesn’t actually matter what you say. If you replied with, “Oh, steak and cobblestones, how are you?” breezily and in the usual pattern, there’s a decent chance someone would just complete the ping before their brain ever had a chance to process that you’d said something weird.

      2. Parakeet*

        Same for me, as another au tistic (adding a space there because every time I use the word I get stuck in the mod queue) person. As I’ve learned more cybersecurity and networking, I can also use analogies like the TCP three-way handshake.

        Also, scripts make social and social-adjacent real-time interactions with people I don’t know well, easier for me, and I think of it as a script.

      3. short'n'stout*

        This is a great analogy! It reminds me of Desmond Morris’ observation in The Naked Ape that small talk/phatic communication in humans is broadly equivalent to mutual grooming in other primates – more about reinforcing social bonds than actual hygiene.

      4. But what to call me?*

        I’m two days too late to comment, but this is such a useful way to think about it!

        I’ve always been mildly annoyed at the how are you exchange (probably because even once I figured out how it works I never could get it to consistently come out smoothly) but thinking of it as pings makes me much happier about it.

  7. Ninny*

    being sacked for having alcohol in your bag that you’re not drinking at work?? what on earth?!?! why do we let these useless jobs control so much of our lives! this letter writer is better off. geezus

    and the letter about the dog grooming. I also run my own dog business and find that honesty and bluntness is best. they’ll carry on and have a tantrum and might badmouth you everywhere, but if you’re honest about why, they don’t have much recourse, but be prepared to defend any online reviews you may receive. It’s difficult at first but it gets easier after the first few ‘firings ‘

    1. MC*

      I work in industrial settings (processing plants, resource extraction sites), and any substances that can be impairing, like alcohol, is usually banned on site because of very real safety concerns. It’s possible that this is what’s going on there.

      1. Chairman of the Bored*

        What “very real safety concern” arises from somebody having a case of beer in their car?

        1. Lilo*

          I’m married to someone who works in the metals industry. There are types of jobs where the risk of harm from any intoxication at all is so great (for instance, foundries) they’ve adopted zero tolerance policies. It doesn’t help that back in the 20th century drinking culture in some of these places resulted in serious accidents and even deaths. So it’s about sending a very clear no tolerance message and based on a history of harm.

          1. Caroline*

            Please explain what having sealed bottles of alcohol in your own vehicle, in the parking lot could possibly affect?

            Zero tolerance for *drinking* alcohol, along with a bit of randomised testing I can understand. It makes total sense. This does not. It’s a massive over-reach and a kind of nannying-lowest-common-denominator approach.

            1. Moodbling*

              Lilo already did explain the company’s motivation, and didn’t set the policy. You’re being a lil rude here.

              1. Lilo*

                Yeah, I definitely don’t make the safety policies at my husband’s work! They’re a private company and such restrictions are normal in the industry.

                1. MassMatt*

                  Serious question—Does the zero tolerance alcohol policy for your husband’s job site apply to what is in someone’s car? Even after hours?

                  I can certainly see the merits of a zero tolerance policy for drinking on the job, or at lunch, but firing someone for having alcohol in the car seems excessive.

                2. Lilo*

                  Yes. You go past a security entrance with a bunch of big ol signs warning you about restricted items.

                  This is absolutely nothing new. I visited a nuclear power plant as a student and we were similarly warned about item restrictions, even as a visitor

                3. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

                  What does “zero tolerance” mean to you? If the company says “Our policy is zero tolerance of alcohol on company property, no exceptions.” then you bring alcohol onto company property, you can absolutely expect to be fired.

                  They made a clear, bright-line, hard and fast rule. No alcohol on the premises in any way, shape, or form. Ever. You might disagree with the rule, you can hold the opinion that it is excessive and even stupid. But you’re still going to be fired if you break it.

              2. Pescadero*

                They didn’t ask what the companies “motivation” was.

                They asked what sealed alcohol in a vehicle could possible effect.

                The answer? Insurance rates. It’s all about saving the company money, because the insurance industry believes that zero tolerance policy actually reduces their risk.

            2. Not Australian*

              And then one day Random Worker Dave learns that someone has alcohol in their car and he breaks in and drinks himself into an alcoholic coma. Sure, he could do that on his own time – but if he does it in the workplace, the workplace is liable. Draconian as a 100% alcohol ban may seem, there is usually a good reason for it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to work there.

              1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

                The likelihood of someone breaking into a car and then drinking themselves into a coma are slim.

                If it is in a sealed container in your locked vehicle, that can only be seen by someone approaching the vehicle and seeing in through the tinted windows, its not likely to be a problem.

                You can address the issue of alcohol at work without being draconian.

                1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

                  The low likelihood is irrelevant. “Zero Tolerance” policies, especially where related to safety, exist precisely to prevent the low-likelihood events. Because “low” does not mean “zero” and some events are too catastrophic to tolerate ANY risk.

                  The pattern I’ve seen over the years: I see a ridiculous rule at work, one designed to prevent something so absurd that it could never actually happen, I ask why the rule exists, and every time it’s because the absurd thing that could never happen did, in fact, happen.

                  Related: virtually all warning labels on consumer products exist because somebody somewhere did something inconceivably stupid.

                2. Tio*

                  It doesn’t need to even be someone breaking in. If you have someone with a problem with alcohol, they could be bringing it in to steal some sips on break. Which would be hard for them to catch unless they want to start sobriety testing everyone on return from lunch. Easier to ban the item on premises.

              2. Sloanicota*

                I suspect the other concern is someone bringing in alcohol for their coworkers to drink on-site (hiding down on the docks, holed up in the back room, whatever). By saying no alcohol on site at all, it means you don’t actually have to catch them in the act to head this off. It does seem harsh to fire without even one warning for this though.

                1. Dances with Flax*

                  That letter also suggests that someone had to be peering pretty closely into the windows of each car in order to…what? Find contraband? Sniff out the possibility that some employee possessed anything that the employer disliked? Who hires people to go around snooping into car windows?!

                  Another possibility is that this company is owned by person(s) with religious or cultural beliefs that preclude the use of alcohol by anybody. If this sounds ridiculous, please remember that people have been fired for being spotted/photographed having a drink at a restaurant on one of their days off! Employees have been told that not only are THEY expected to observe the no-drinking rule on THEIR days off but their family members are expected to observe it as well; no alcohol for the employees or their family members EVER – 24/7/365. It’s impossible to tell if that’s what’s going on in this case, but it’s not out of the question. (Nutty as an almond grove, to be sure, but possible nonetheless.)

            3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              I would expect there were problems with people nipping off to their car for a quick beer over lunch.

              1. Lilo*

                I was once present when an attorney got disbarred because going to his car and drinking during breaks in the trial. Every single case where he had a client convicted for the past year got vacated and they were looking into whether he was drunk during earlier trials. It took days to find and vacate them all.

            4. Twix*

              In my experience the purpose of policies like this aren’t normally to prevent the most benign behavior the policy covers, it’s to create clear bright lines the company can point to in situations that are more of a gray area. The point isn’t to make sure Dave never has a sealed bottle of vodka in his car, it’s so that when Dave has an open bottle of vodka in his car the company has an easy way to justify operating under the assumption that he was drinking on the clock. People getting whacked by such a policy when they didn’t actually do anything wrong is part of the cost, not the benefit. Of course, ideally an organization that has such policies in place exercises reasonable discretion in enforcement. Then again depending on the industry and location, choosing not to enforce the policy in cases of a clear but benign violation may undercut the company’s ability to enforce it in cases where it’s actually needed.

            5. learnedthehardway*

              There are very good historic reasons for these prohibitions on job sites, and the absolutely zero tolerance policy is so that NOBODY is under any illusions about the seriousness of the requirement.

              Also, it may be legally required for the company to not allow ANY alcohol on site, and the company needs to abide by that legal requirement.

              It also makes it significantly easier to deal with any issues that may arise by having a total ban. Otherwise, you get situations where someone HAS been drinking on site, or showed up to work drunk, but can claim that they weren’t, or that the alcohol in their vehicle is irrelevant. When health and safety are on the line, an absolute ban is a better option for the company, and for all of the workers.

        2. Lisa Vanderpump*

          I used to work in HR for a company that made furniture. We had 0 tolerance policy for alcohol anywhere “on campus.” A lot of that machinery is no joke.

          1. Caroline*

            But… that still makes no sense.

            Please explain how sealed, not-drunk alcohol in a personal vehicle, in a parking lot poses any danger at all to anyone? This is just ridiculous.

            1. Engineer*

              If you’d stop attacking people reporting on their workplace policies, then you’d know it’s a liability issue. When something goes wrong at these industrial plants and someone gets injured or dies, there’s a *big* investigation. Even if 90% of the blame can be placed on the employee for screwing up, the company *will* be raked over the coals for not idiot-proofing every little part of the process and they *will* be blamed for somehow not knowing an employee was impaired. The easiest way to reduce that blame is a blanket ban of all intoxicants on campus, because then they can say that the employee became intoxicated off-campus on personal time.

              1. Ask A Manatee*

                Just came here to defend Caroline’s questions — which are not attacking at all, IMO, nor ignoring the responses. Speaking for myself, I totally get the zero tolerance policy at the workplace. I just wonder why the parking lot is included in that and/or why a sealed bottle in the car is included. Is it because it would be impractical to write the policy in such a way as to itemize and exclude “non dangerous” alcohol based on location and bottle status? I could see that being too difficult and deciding “anywhere on company property, in any context” is better, even at the risk of including cases that are ostensibly no danger.

                1. darsynia*

                  It’s because people with an alcohol problem could look in the window the same way as the boss who fired this LW could look in the window, and the person with the alcohol problem might break in, drink, and then cause a myriad of problems.

                  I don’t get the sense that the LW is from this kind of workplace, honestly, because if they were, they’d have long-since been told not to have it on the property (though there’s I guess a small percent chance they disregarded all alcohol guidelines because they don’t usually bother with it so it wasn’t applicable to them in those moments). But the reason to have a completely dry campus is to eliminate any possible problems and to make it simple to avoid.

                2. Capt. Liam Shaw*

                  Please don’t take this the wrong way. But Caroline and others questioning this really feels like “I am just asking questions” tone many use online.

                  There have been numerous business reasons given why companies do this. The most compelling IMHO was that if there is accident an investigation will be conducted and the booze found then. Honestly that is probably the reason most companies do these types of policies.

                  But I imagine this policy was in LW’s employee handbook. Still I hate seeing someone lose a job, but it is on the employee to know the rules.

                3. Engineer*

                  Especially for manufacturing and industry plants, the company owns the parking lot and thus it would be considered part of the property. A blanket ban is also easiest to enforce, because as is evident all over this thread, people loooove to rules lawyer. When the policy is “no alcohol/intoxicant of any kind at all on company property” then it doesn’t matter if it’s still sealed in a personal vehicle – it is still alcohol/an intoxicant on company property.

                4. SnappinTerrapin*

                  Employees go to their cars during breaks.

                  Banning all intoxicating substances on company property is a fairly mild risk management strategy.

                  Employees can buy their drinks on the way home, so they don’t boil in the summer heat.

                  If it’s actually hidden in the trunk of the car, of course, no one will know it’s there unless they are seen getting it out.

                5. Parakeet*

                  It’s not really a “mild” risk management strategy if part of it is that someone loses their livelihood for a first-time gray-area situation (no open container, no evidence of the worker having been drinking it or providing it to others). Most workplaces have progressive discipline for most things.

                  People are also assuming that the LW works in the kind of job where this is the norm and everyone would know this. They might, but we don’t know that (though I do appreciate hearing from commenters in different industries and sectors about the different norms in those contexts). For all we know the owner just hates alcohol.

            2. paxfelis*

              It’s accessible, not under supervision or third-party control, in walking distance, and if it’s visible it may fall under the same reasoning as for Attractive Nuisance laws/rules.

              Zero tolerance for drinking alcohol only works if people are tightly supervised even in spaces in which such supervision is NOT appropriate. Randomized testing can only find out if you’ve been drinking before being tested, and that only within a certain time span.

              Safety is a very valid concern. However, I don’t know whether safety is enough of a concern that people have been sent home for having less than a threshold amount of sleep or an allergy attack.

              1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

                that’s not how attractive nuisance works. Because it is locked in a vehicle, reasonable steps have been made to make it inaccessible to those not the owners.

            3. Lissa Evans*

              Because having alcohol handy increases your chances of drinking alcohol. When you are around the big bad machines, there is no reason to have alcohol with you. I’m guessing this person maybe has a pickup truck with no trunk, so they can’t put it where it can’t be seen.

              1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

                Its in a locked car. With tinted windows.

                Someone could steal the whole car, then drive it and run someone over. Should we ban cars then?

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  If someone had a gun sitting on the front seat of their car and somebody took it and shot up the workplace would you feel the same way?

                  You can place the straw man at either side of the extreme, but I would bet money that there is a written policy that the employee signed that says they will not have alcohol anywhere on the company premises. They then assumed the risk of breaking that policy.

                  Whether or not that’s reasonable can be open to many interpretations, but it’s standard in a lot of industries and commenters should know that personal outrage won’t change the outcomes if you get caught.

            4. 123*

              The company can make any stupid rule it wants. If you don’t like it, find someone who owns a furniture company and tell them all about your opinion. I’m sure they will be thrilled to hear it.

              Until then, maybe you should stop demanding answers from the people who didn’t make the rule and have no power to change the rule. Lisa and Lilo are telling you that these rules exist and are enforced. It is not their job to justify someone else’s decision.

              1. MaryB*

                Asking clarifying questions isn’t “demanding answers.” It’s a blog. Commenters can respond to questions or log off and choose not to if they don’t like the question or the way it is phrased. It’s not reasonable to expect every single person to be familiar with the rules of every single industry. Asking questions is how people learn about things that are new to them.

                I also thinks the question is perfectly legitimate. Thinking logically, of course it’s more dangerous for a machine operator to be caught drinking on the job than an office admin or a computer tech. So it makes sense that they have stricter rules. The question is, what is the reasoning for banning unopened alcohol from personal vehicles when there is no evidence or indication that there was intent to consume it at work? It could be an insurance requirement, workers comp thing, a law specific to that industry, a rule because 10 years ago Dave broke into someone’s car and drank the wine the were bringing to a post-work dinner party and lost a finger, something else? I don’t know since I’m not in manufacturing, so I’d be curious to learn the answer.

                Maybe Caroline didn’t word her comment exactly the way you would have preferred, but your combative response was uncalled for. Feel free not to answer me, I’m not “demanding” anything. But I am curious and would like the perspective of someone that has more knowledge of these types of rules.

                1. Nina*

                  I used to work in rocket testing, on the same campus as an explosives factory. Our ‘absolutely no intoxicants on the premises’ was on signs at the gate, it was in the induction paperwork, and it was posted in the carpark as well. For some roles there was a ‘no alcohol consumption for 12 hours before coming on duty’ rule. For some roles it was 24 hours. Work hours were in principle strictly limited to reduce fatigue. This is big ‘tiny slips kill people’ stuff.

                  There was no good reason for needing to have alcohol anywhere you could access it during the workday, so the rule was… you can’t have alcohol anywhere you can access it during the workday. Sure, you can’t leave for a BYOB party straight from work, and sure, it’s not likely that you’d go to your car and drink on your lunch break, but the potential consequences were great enough that the company couldn’t justify going there. Saying ‘no alcohol on the premises at all ever’ means that when Bob is behaving in a way that makes you think he might be impaired and risking his coworkers’ lives, you don’t have to breathalyze him or litigate whether he was actually drunk at work, or had just had a tiny sip, or was intending to drink at work, or whatever – the vodka was in Bob’s car. Done.

                1. Parakeet*

                  Right, most jobs aren’t manufacturing jobs and it’s strange to act like those standards are a more general norm and it’s unreasonable to question them. Commenters question and sometimes debate whether various workplace rules are reasonable all the time on this blog, even though usually nobody participating in the discussion created them (and if someone didn’t create them but is defending them, of course someone who disagrees is going to argue with that point). It would be interesting to hear what sector LW2 works in, if they’re reading this, so that we can get more context for the discussion!

                2. Relentlessly Socratic*

                  Exactly, I worked at a think tank. One day, they sent out a company-wide announcement banning alcohol on site (including in cars in the parking lot)–we did not operate heavy machinery, run a nuclear reactor, mine ore, herd sheep, teach children, nothing. We sat at our computers all day and thought and typed.

                  Closest we could figure is that some one person had a problem with drinking and instead of, you know, dealing with that one issue, they went all out (that’s kinda their style, they also decided to ban all soda and artificial sweeteners in the cafeteria. My eyes are still rolling at that over-reach)

                  Anyhoo, in that same e-mail they reiterated that no alcohol was to be consumed on company time *unless it was related to business e.g., during a sales lunch?????????* Um…hello?

            5. fhqwhgads*

              The general reasoning for this type of rule is “yes, it’s sealed and in your personal vehicle now, but we can’t tell the difference between ‘sealed and in your personal vehicle so you can take it somewhere else after work’ and ‘sealed and in your personal vehicle so you can go grab one during a break/lunch’ so we have a blanket policy”. I’m not saying it’s a good policy, but it does have internal logic that you’re ignoring.

              1. Roland*

                Yeah this is not complicated. I don’t understand all the comments treating “but it’s sealed” like some kind of gotcha. It’s for the same reason you can’t have guns on school property where I live, even if you have a permit and are fully in control of it and don’t look particularly angry.

            6. MaxedBookPro*

              I mean, I’d prefer you explain why you’re being deliberately obstinate about this. Zero tolerance policies are just that–zero tolerance. They may not make sense on the surface, they may not be fair, they may (mostly likely were) in response to some crazy situation that most people would never dream of…but they’re not unusual. They’re common in some industries like others have mentioned. I worked at a place with an alcohol policy like this and it was one part “we never really had any alcohol policy before and it’s really biting us in the butt” and one part “we have govt contracts now and they’re requiring strict guidelines about X, Y, and Z.” It wasn’t enforced to the degree that OP experienced, to the best of my knowledge. But we don’t know the full story here.
              In any case, you could ease up on the feigned cluelessness because it’s not cute and it’s just making you look dumb.

                1. Starbuck*

                  What’s the problem – what’s the point? The policy makers (most likely, insurance companies) aren’t here in this thread.

            7. I.T. Phone Home*

              Here’s a good faith attempt to answer your question. A lot of the policy I’ve had to adhere to has been either set or influenced by regulatory bodies or insurance. For example, we transmit some customer data. The end recipient has a lot of requirements for how our network is set up that we have to attest that we meet. Some of them make sense and some of them seem like overkill. We meet them all anyway. There are some matters where I think the regulations are too lax, and we exceed them! Likewise, cybersecurity insurance will dictate things like password length/complexity that I don’t think make accounts any safer, but to get the best rates and best results on claims in the event of a breach we have to enforce them anyway. There’s a system I have to use about once a quarter, and it has a 90 day limit on passwords, which means virtually every time I log in I set a new password. I think it’s silly and that there are better ways to harden an account, but they’re making these policies around average use cases, not just me.

              My best guess for why there’s a zero-tolerance rule for alcohol on the premises and why it covers cars/parking lots is that insurance companies have decided that if someone is going to drink during the workday, they’re most likely to do it in their car. Maybe they have stats, maybe not. I don’t know. But paying out a multi-million dollar judgment because someone was hurt on the job and insurance refusing to cover it because they say your alcohol policy didn’t meet the standard is an existential threat to a business, so they set and enforce the rule. Which isn’t to say it’s a bad or unreasonable rule; it seems like most commenters who have had to work in these environments think the rule is reasonable and are comfortable with it existing, and most of the pushback is coming from people who haven’t worked in these environments. I’m usually happy deferring to people’s actual experience rather than hypotheticals in that case.

            8. "Mommy" Hours? Really?*

              It’s no different than a zero tolerance no weapons allowed policy. Doesn’t matter if it’s unloaded, safety is on, concealed, whatever.

            9. NaoNao*

              My best guess here is the rule-lawyering that could (and likely did at some point) occur around “sealed” “parking lot” and “personal vehicle” and/or other wording and boundaries.

              For some businesses, the company gives you a truck or car–is that your “personal vehicle”? Is it “sealed” if it was open at one point and is now closed? What about decanted? What about a partially consumed 4-pack, like a White Claw 4-pack with two cans missing from the plastic rings? Is that “sealed”?

              You get the idea.

              I think it’s easier for them to issue a blanket policy than rely on “common sense” or “everyone knows X!” type of expectation.

        3. cabbagepants*

          It’s parallel to the very real safety concern of having a gun in your car. Just sitting there it’s harmless. If someone decides to use it, however, then serious safety issues can occur. Without a business need for it, having a zero tolerance policy seems reasonable.

          1. Well...*

            Okay this I will push back on. A person’s car is used for things that aren’t “business uses.” There are way more reasons to have alcohol in your car than a gun. People have lives outside of work.

            I get the safety concerns outlined above, but I also see this as an oppressive step too far. Companies should be liable for a lot more in general, but being liable because someone picked up a bottle of wine before work is ridiculous.

            1. Gray Lady*

              I’m going to the shooting range after work is no less reasonable than I’m going to a party after work. There don’t need to be fifty valid reasons to have a gun in your car; as long as there’s at least one in each case, the parallel holds.

              1. Well...*

                Hard disagree. Going to a shooting range is still inherently dangerous, and guns are built to do harm. That is their primary function.

                Alcohol is not designed to be used while operating heavy machinery in order to hurt someone. They are fundamentally different.

                1. Admin of Sys*

                  Alcohol in inherently dangerous to consume. It is a literal poison. The fact that we drink it because it has mild enough side effects that are fun to experience in safe environments does not make it not harmful to human bodies.

                2. Well...*

                  I mean, guns are built with the intention to harm and kill people. That’s just not true for alcohol. It’s mildly unhealthy, but it’s primary purpose isn’t to poison people to death. This is a wildly thin connection you are trying to draw.

                3. Well...*

                  @Dahlia, I see what you’re saying, but I still think guns are different. They were not invented for hunting, they were invented for war. I also think maybe this had gotten off track, and I could be taking the analogy too literally, so to boil it down:

                  My point is that anything can be dangerous in some amount, and it’s a process of weighing costs vs. benefits. I think that formula is pretty different for guns than alcohol, but I acknowledge that the judgement needs to be made in both cases.

                4. Industry Insider*

                  …”guns are built with the intention to harm and kill people.”

                  They may have started as tools of warfare, but have expanded their purpose to harvesting food (hunting game), for protection (against lifeforms intent on causing great bodily harm or death, no matter the number of legs), and recreation (target shooting, competition).

                  Yes, they are dangerous tools, and I advocate locking them up in a safe box (in the car and out of sight) unless they are in your immediate control (on your person).

              2. Parakeet*

                If you’re going to the shooting range after work you should probably have a transport safe for your gun that means nobody’s going to know it’s there anyway (in which case, the closest parallel would be “put the alcohol in the trunk,” which is probably a good idea for a bunch of reasons). My partner and I used to occasionally go to a range on weekends, many years ago when we both had more interest in that. And the gun went in a special locked safe, not sitting on the back seat.

          2. aebhel*

            FWIW it’s illegal in my state to have an unsecured gun even in a locked car – it has to be in a locked case whenever it’s not in the holster.

            That said, while the vast majority of places I’ve worked have had a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol in the workplace, that has never, as far as I’m aware, extended to unopened alcohol in locked vehicles, and I feel like if your policy is that draconian you should probably make it extremely clear upfront that even having a sealed bottle of wine in your car is a fireable offense.

        4. lost academic*

          Because in these kinds of settings there can simply be no room for error. You can’t afford to give someone a second chance or make exceptions. Everyone knows the rules when they get hired and I’ve never been at a site where this wasn’t emphasized ten ways from Tuesday. You know better if you take that risk. And that includes the trunk – the bigger construction sites for instance do vehicle checks including anyone who’s coming back from lunch.

          1. Hillary*

            Exactly. They know when the last fatal accident in the facility was, they know when someone cut off their finger or electrocuted themself or fell and broke their back. In spite of every precaution there were OSHA-reportable accidents most weeks at one job, usually because an employee took the guard off a saw.

            A lot of the reason for zero-tolerance policies is history. I’m in my 40s and I worked with people who used to literally run to the bar at lunch (from the factory) for a beer or three. Then they went back to operate extremely dangerous machinery. It sounds absurd now but it’s well within living memory. Parking lots are particularly problematic because people go out to their cars to smoke, although that’s becoming less common now.

          2. Aerin*

            Hell, my org makes us take ethics training every year that specifically covers these scenarios. Including the “Joe is leaving straight from work to go on a hunting trip, is he allowed to have a shotgun and beer and fireworks in his car?” one. Only a couple of departments work with heavy machinery, but everyone else just kind of shrugs and says “makes sense.” And you take this training when you first hire in, too, so no one can say they didn’t know.

            It’s a massive amount of liability for the company, so an employee wanting to challenge it would need seriously compelling reasons why they can’t just swing back by their house and/or a liquor store, which would both be pretty reasonable and minor workarounds.

            Also something tells me the boss wasn’t just randomly being nosy. Either a) someone narcked, b) LW had exhibited behavior that suggested impairment, or c) boss wanted LW gone for nebulous reasons and was looking for a concrete one.

        5. Nina*

          Drinking it on lunch break…? Which is a thing people do.

          I used to work in a rocket testing facility that shared gates with an explosives factory. A real ‘tiny fuckups kill people’ kind of place. Absolutely no intoxicating substances allowed on the premises, ever, for any reason.

          ‘Aw but it’s just in the car park…’ Don’t care. Rule was, absolutely not. In practice, if it was in the car and not in you and not visible from outside the car at any time, nobody really gave a shit, but if you were being careless enough with alcohol that you were visibly breaking the rule about having it on the premises, you were gone.

          In an office park with no heavy machinery, yeah, get fucked, I’ll have a closed bottle of gin in my car if I damn’ well want to.

      2. andy*

        It still does not make any sense. This is parking lot where people park personal cars. Controlling content to that level is … controlling.

          1. Well...*

            Weapons and alcohol are not the same thing. Alcohol can be dangerous (just like swimming pools) but it also serves other functions than just doing harm. I’m getting uncomfortable with this comparison getting brought up repeatedly.

            1. 123*

              It doesn’t matter if you are uncomfortable or not. The company is allowed to declare weapons and alcohol are not allowed on their property. We don’t own these companies so we don’t make their rules. If you don’t like it, find someone who actually runs one of these companies and complain to them instead of random internet people.

              1. Lurker Cat*

                As someone who has only ever worked at companies with a zero tolerance alcohol policy I am surprised by all the people who are offended at not being allowed to have alcohol in the car. These policies are in place for safety reasons and often they are so “draconian” because people were not just having sealed bottles in the car not drinking them, they were getting drunk in their car at lunch. So no alcohol for anyone on company property.

              2. Myrin*

                I don’t disagree with the essence of what you’re saying but good lord, can you do so less aggressively? This is an advice column comment section, people are allowed to post different opinions.

                1. GythaOgden*

                  Yeah — but the people being incredulous and insulted by the realities of working in an industry with significant issues around alcohol use and safety also need to get off their high horse. The ones being most belligerent and hectoring are the ones who don’t seem to understand why businesses might do this.

                  It’s not a problem to say you don’t understand things once and then when someone else explains to see the argument and back down. It’s a problem when people with more experience of why these things happen get shouted down ad nauseam by people who have no real clue about anything outside of their very narrow sphere of white-collar, office/WFH-based jobs. If people didn’t effectively sealion us every time this sort of thing comes up, then we wouldn’t be tetchy.

                2. Boss Scaggs*

                  These must be relatively new policies, because when I worked blue collar/machinery jobs back 30+ yrs ago, everyone drank or smoked, way more than in white collar

            2. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Your comfort in no way impacts the policy or the consequences. The policies in both cases are intended to prevent harm, and are being enacted by property owners with the right to set such restrictions. That’s it.

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  I think it is. I think the strength of responses you’re getting is due to you commenting the same thing repeatedly and inferring things are obviously the case that there isn’t evidence for. Influence doesn’t mean people agree with you.

                2. Well...*

                  @Eldritch Office Worker, hmm, I commented this twice when I saw it twice. The second time, I expressed my discomfort with seeing it twice. I’m not sure that counts as over and over again, but ok. I’m also not that disturbed by the strength of the response, nor am I trying to get everyone to agree with me.

                  The influence I was hoping to have is that it’s not legit to equate alcohol possession with gun possession. I think that’s a fair stance and it does make the discourse more reasonable. Of course you are free to disagree, but saying me making that point is useless is a bit much.

                3. cabbagepants*

                  I didn’t see anyone equating gun possession with alcohol possession. I saw people (myself being one of them) using guns as an example of something that 1) can safely and legally be used on one’s own time 2) can be harmful in a workplace 3) have blanket bans at some workplaces due to 2 and in spite of 1.

                  Using a comparison is not the same as equating.

                  I did deliberately pick a comparison point that has a different moral valence just to help people see past whatever preconceived notions they have.

                4. GythaOgden*

                  If you mean ignoring all the reasonable explanations from people in industry and thinking you can override their input with stuff that shows you don’t want to understand those explanations…then yeah, you’re influencing the conversation.

                  This is not the hill to die on here. There is probably a better outlet for your energy where most of us would agree on protocols that need changing — but this is not one where you will change the minds of people with actual reasoning behind the rules.

              1. Pescadero*

                “The policies in both cases are intended to prevent harm”

                These sorts of policies are generally intended to minimize insurance costs, not reduce harm.

                1. GythaOgden*

                  Yup. And if companies paid out more in premiums or even had to settle huge lawsuits, that’s a very reasonable motivation to have. OP can buy their booze on the way home.

                2. Hillary*

                  For some companies, probably yes. Workers comp can be extremely expensive, even before you talk about osha fines and reputational damage. But none of the safety people I’ve worked with cared about insurance. They cared about employees being able to go home at the end of the day uninjured.

                  If it was lip service for insurance Dave wouldn’t have spent a day testing cut sleeve samples because he didn’t trust the manufacturers’ claims (real example, that was an amusing day). He filled them with sandbags and then attacked them with knives. They wouldn’t have thermometers all over the building with pre-defined ranges for when gatorade stations go out, when it’s too hot to work, or when it’s too cold to work. They wouldn’t give gift cards to people who stopped the line because something looked unsafe, even when they were wrong.

                3. Ace in the Hole*

                  They can do both. But speaking as someone working in health & safety for a dangerous industry… I am far more concerned about reducing harm than about minimizing insurance costs. I think most of us are. These are people we work with, people we care about. We want everyone to go home safe. That’s the top priority.

                  However, insurance companies also have a lot of information on risks. That’s their whole business model. So it usually works out that doing something which lowers insurance costs DOES reduce safety risks in the workplace… if it didn’t, the insurance company wouldn’t offer reduced rates for it. And when we get resistance to safety policies from people who don’t take the risks seriously (which happens a lot), it’s very handy to be able to point to insurance costs as a more tangible/immediate consequence.

                4. New Jack Karyn*

                  “These sorts of policies are generally intended to minimize insurance costs, not reduce harm.”

                  To me, this sounds like, “HR works for the benefit of the company.” I mean, yes, but often it does so through resolving harassment complaints fairly, reducing employee turnover, and following equitable salary practices.

                  Reducing harm leads to minimized insurance costs, so let’s do that!

        1. Observer*

          Controlling content to that level is … controlling.

          And sometime being “controlling” is the right way to be. The risk in many case is just too high. And banning people from having stuff in their cars when on company property is a lot less invasive than banning them from going to their cars at any point during the day.

          1. Aerin*

            Also, rights are rarely absolute in practice, especially when yours conflict with someone else’s. The company is saying “Your right to have whatever you want in your car does not outweigh our right to prevent people from dying on our watch” and that seems pretty reasonable.

            I get the feeling part of the objection here is that people tend to think that “break this rule and someone dies” is an abstract exaggeration and not a simple statement of fact until they’ve actually lived that reality. Once you have experienced that responsibility, patience with whatabouts and edge cases usually dries up.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          The rehab hospital across the street from my office has a “no tobacco products on the premises” policy.

          Employers can make rules about what they allow and what they don’t.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          Okay, but it’s about controlling safety not about controlling people! If an office worker gets horrendously drunk in the workplace car park there’s time to figure out that something is wrong, and safe spaces available for discussion and disciplinary measures. If however a machinery operative drinks, they’ll hurt themselves and a lot of other people within minutes and it will be a memorably awful and expensive event. That’s why these employers don’t consider just disciplining those who drink after the fact; if it’s gotten that far they’ve already failed multiple employees. In some cases prevention is not just better than cure; it’s the only approach possible because the outcome of not preventing these things would be so bad. My father was a hip flask kind of a guy, who liked to throw big parties, but he would never in a million years have taken alcohol to his workplace! Not even in a locked box under the spare tyre. He knew that if something went wrong at his job it would blow up the town we lived in. And possibly the next town over. Car checks happened because alcoholics and idiots aren’t mythical creatures and it only takes one.

        4. Nina*

          Legally, it’s the company’s property and they’re responsible for what happens in it. If you don’t want them to care about the contents of your car, you can park on the street.

          Your pockets are in your personal pants but in most work places you couldn’t have whisky miniatures in them.

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Bingo. I suspect the LW’s workplace has a zero tolerance policy based on the nature of the facility or business. There’s probably an insurance issue as well. Even if the risk of someone getting to that alcohol is very low, and even if the risk of that person getting drunk and causing an accident is very low, the consequences of the accident caused might be catastrophic. If the LW’s workplace has a zero tolerance policy, there’s probably a good reason behind it.

        I think the commentariat here tends to skew towards offices and other non-industrial, non-construction, etc., workplaces. Just because the LW’s rule wouldn’t make sense in your workplace doesn’t mean it’s stupid for quite a lot of other workplaces.

        1. connie*

          I’m sorry. It’s not clear at all that LW’s workplace doesn’t have a zero tolerance policy. Lots of people are shocked, they tell you, when they get fired for violating a policy they either didn’t read or that they can’t believe was actually enforced.

        2. somehow*

          …which is silly.

          Look, the company has a policy, likely grounded in liability, and therefore, consistent application of it is key. LW found that out the hard way, but if the company were to make one exception, they’d have to make an exception for all.

        3. cabbagepants*

          I think this is veering towards fan fiction. The LW didn’t even say that they were fired, just asked if it’s possible, and they don’t communicate shock, either.

        4. umami*

          I work in higher ed, and alcohol is not permitted on campus property, including parking lots. The condition or type of alcohol is not relevant. And we have employees (and students) of every educational and socioeconomic level, so there is nothing classist about it. I get that it clearly sounds insane to you, but it should be clear by now from this thread that it is a very common policy with consequences, whether it seems just to you or not.

        5. Don't kneel in front of me*

          I’m gonna be blunt with you: your opinion that this is “unjustified in some industries” is straight-up wrong. You clearly lack any understanding of secure facilities and high-rish environments.

          It’s also not clear what the LW’s circumstances are because they didn’t offer any details. Their car might be in a public parking garage, it might be within a secure facility, or it might be anything in between. We have no idea.

          It’s also a bizzare take that the LW got fired due to the type of alcohol they had. “Selectively applied alcohol pearl clutching” isn’t real.

          All that being said: you have 15 comments related to how ridiculous and unjustified it is to have a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol. We have responded to you in good faith and explained exactly why these policies exist. You have doubled-down on your initial reaction, which is undoubtedly clouded by your own personal experience. Please listen to those of us with experience in this area.

      4. Texan In Exile*

        Yep. I worked for a manufacturing company and no alcohol was allowed on company premises, even in our office, which was nowhere near the factories. It was probably easier to make a blanket statement – no alcohol anywhere – than to make a carveout – “no alcohol anywhere except in Milwaukee, where there is an office but there is no factory.”

        We also had random drug testing, even though we were in an office and nowhere near a factory. I would say that there is not much danger (or liability to the company) of someone operating Excel while high, but we were still subject to the testing.

    2. MK*

      People enjoy eating and having a roof over their heads. OP now has no job, a.k.a. no income, and while they may be better off in the long run, they certainly aren’t now.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’ve worked in educational and now medical offices. So intoxicating substances of any stripe are banned due to safety concerns – you really don’t want the impression the person educating your kids or performing medical care are under the influence of any substance.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Except that that isn’t actually a ‘safety concern’.
        Obviously teachers and medical staff should not be under the influence, but it’s a huge leap to assume that having unopened alcohol in your parked vehicle = intoxicated on the job.

        It’s a similar mind set to the parents who get angry if any evidence emerges that their kids teachers have lives outside of work and might go to bars or restaurants.

        All that said, if OP’s employers have a rule about no alcohol anywhere even in a closed container in a locked car in the parking lot, then s/he would have been wiser to make sure that anything they had was in the trunk or otherwise out of sight, since I’d assume that the answer to ‘can they fire my for breaking this rule, even if it is a dumb rule/” is almost certainly yes.

        1. Observer*

          Except that that isn’t actually a ‘safety concern’.

          As others have pointed out, it actually is. Because if that alcohol is in someone’s car with easy access, then that alcohol is easily accessible to consumed.

          but it’s a huge leap to assume that having unopened alcohol in your parked vehicle = intoxicated on the job.

          That’s true but not relevant. The risk is simply to high to allow anything that makes it too easy for people to become intoxicated.

          All that said, if OP’s employers have a rule about no alcohol anywhere even in a closed container in a locked car in the parking lot, then s/he would have been wiser to make sure that anything they had was in the trunk or otherwise out of sight, since I’d assume that the answer to ‘can they fire my for breaking this rule, even if it is a dumb rule/” is almost certainly yes.

          This is 100% true.

      2. Noodles*

        That seems like incredible overreach! My god, adults working in schools or hospitals aren’t allowed to have a case of beer or a bottle of wine in their cars for taking home later?

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I work in a school in Ireland and we occasionally have bottles of alcohol in the staffroom, not open or anything, usually just as gifts or we had a raffle one time during covid when we couldn’t have a proper staff party and some of the prizes were bottles of wine, etc.

          Obviously cultures differ and so do schools, but I don’t think it’s inherently wrong for there to be alcohol on school premises so long as it’s not somewhere students have access to it.

          1. münchner kindl*

            I find it much safer for teachers and adults to acknowledge that alcohol exists and can be drunk responsibly in small amounts, than trying to keep its very existence away from kids, until kids turn 18 and can get drunk because they have no experience or role models on drinking moderately.

            But then, I generally think the European step-by-step approach of giving children and teens more rights and responsiblities so they get slowly used to it is far more sensible than “not allowed anything under 18 except driving a car and joining military)” “18 years, do what you like” approach.

          2. Noodles*

            LOL, I’m in Ireland too, though originally from another (non-US) country. Perhaps it is a cultural difference. My grandmother’s nursing home literally had a bar in it. Which was pretty great for residents and visitors alike.

        2. sb51*

          Teachers have been fired for having a photo on their Facebook of them at a restaurant where there were glasses of alcohol on the table, even though it was not on the clock and was not even necessarily clear that the glass was theirs.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            Even if there were 28 glasses on one side of the table and 3 on the other side, that does sound draconian

            1. Starbuck*

              Yes people in the US can be very weird and Puritanical about teachers or other people who work with children. It wasn’t long ago that teacher were routinely fired for getting married or pregnant. Any evidence of doing something “adult” can set certain communities off.

          2. Relentlessly Socratic*

            This is also true of college faculty teaching in some US public universities–so not even wee little school kids. There’s a reason why my socials are as locked down as I can get them, although I no longer work in that area.

        3. Elsewise*

          When I worked in higher education, there was a college in my area where faculty and staff weren’t allowed any alcohol ever, including off the clock. If a friend tagged you in a social media post and you had a beer in your hand, or if someone passed a bar and saw you going in, you could be fired. I thought it was absurd, but according to an employee I knew, it was a real policy she had seen people fired for breaking.

          Anyway, to the OP: can they fire you for having alcohol in your car? Legally, sure, though if you’re union and didn’t sign a policy, you might have some recourse. Should they? No, of course not! Did they? It kind of sounds like they did, which I’m really sorry about. Hope the next place you land is more reasonable!

      3. Caroline*

        There is no safety concern here. Medical people and teachers are legally allowed to consume alcohol on their own time. Purchasing it and having it sealed in their car represents no risk. It’s literally not dangerous. There is nothing that can befall anyone. Impression management is… weird. Why? Who would go ”ooh, look in that car, second from the end in row G. MY GOD. There’s a six pack there. Do you think the anaesthetist IS DRUNK?? WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN??” If they do, possibly a referral to a psychiatrist would be in order.

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I mean, I am the first one to push back hard against teachers being disciplined for wine glasses on social media, but if a parent walks by my car and sees said six-pack in the morning, it’s likely that I was planning to consume it in my own time. It’s not lottery winning improbable that I might nip out at lunch or recess to make those bottles not so closed, though. Parents want to know their children are safe in our care and while going straight to “there is booze therefore they will drink is an overstep”, it’s certainly not so massive that it requires psychiatric care.
          Teachers know when they get into the profession that reputation matters, as frustrating and potentially unfair as that can be. Just put the drinks in the trunk or in another place parents and students can’t see (tinting or not).

      4. SLH*

        Safety concerns is the employer equivalent of family emergency. BS 99% of the time. Being fired for having visible alcohol is your vehicle in a parking lot is a failure of common sense ( risk of the car being broken into) but not a safety concern. Why did they want OP gone? Who was looking in the car?

      5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        For the folks wanting to criticize the standards a private employer has set for their property – and note the words Private Property – based on perceptions for who you are working with (little kids), well please understand you are under no obligation to work there. In this case the schools I worked at were PreK to K schools (in the US, so the oldest students would be 6years old) – I’m sure we’d all agree you have to bow a bit to – no impression of being/having the ability to be drunk around a little kid that young.

        So the obvious answer is know your employer and their rules (even if you don’t always agree with them). And if you really, really have to have it in your car for transport reasons because of short time between events – Put It In The Trunk! where the folks walking by the car in the parking lot.

        1. I Have RBF*

          While I agree with the idea of not having your groceries visible, do remember that SUVs and pickup trucks don’t have trunks, generally. You can add lock boxes that serve the same function.

          But it is generally a good idea not to have certain types of things visible in your vehicle – valuables, alcohol, firearms, drug paraphernalia, weed, gourmet food, etc. It becomes too tempting for nosy nellies and pilfering petes to find and make a fuss about.

      6. Modesty Poncho*

        Yea, it’s not work but I’ve done community theater in school buildings and public parks, and they take No Alcohol extremely seriously for legal reasons. No one would ASK if you had booze in the trunk of your car to take to the cast party after the show, but legally, we were all made aware it was not allowed.

    4. Fikly*

      Um, because there’s this thing where you need an income to survive?

      How do you know the LW is better off? Because you run your own business, and you believe you are better off self-employed? You don’t know anything about the LW’s life outside of what’s in the letter, and the number of assumptions you are making demonstrates that your policy is not honesty and bluntness, but bluntness and wild guesses.

      Don’t shame other people for the choices they make when you know nothing about them.

      1. Saddy Hour*

        Wooooah, I don’t think the commenter was shaming OP at all, they were sympathizing. They’re “better off” in the same way that you should “run from bees” and accept that “your boss is never going to change.” It’s shorthand commiseration, not a judgment.

          1. Fikly*

            Something being common does not mean it’s ok.

            Using something being common as a justification reinforces problematic behavior and is a form of gaslighting and victim blaming.

            The shaming was in the question of “why do we let these useless jobs control so much of our lives?”

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I can understand the rule about no alcohol on the company premises itself (office, factory floor etc) but agree the car park seems too much to me. Even if that is their policy, there ought to be some room for discretion / taking circumstances and record into account

      I wonder who reported it – it sounds like a one off occurrence that OP had alcohol in there, so does the ‘reporter’ check OPs car every day? All the cars? Hoping to find something incriminating one day… Why did management not ask them “why were you inspecting OPs car”? Did management observe it themselves or just take the person’s word for it and go straight to OP with “Soo says you had alcohol in your car”? So many questions about how this was handled.

      1. Lilo*

        It depends. I’ve been to places that had secure parking (think like power plants, heavy industrial sites) and you were warned they both could search your car on entry and there were rules about what you could have in your car on site.

        If this wasn’t a secured location, the alcohol wasn’t in the front seat and there was no policy, the employer is overreaching. But if there was a policy, it was a secured facility, or the alcohol was, say, sitting in the cupholder, it’s not ridiculous.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, we need more information on what actually happened — it sounds ridiculous from the letter, and it probably was, but there are contexts that a zero-tolerance policy makes sense.

          Cars also have boots/trunks and to be on the safe side OP should probably put anything like that out of site. It’s a good principle anyway (empty cars are less inviting to thieves) but it also helps firmly make what they have in there no-one else’s business.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            Yeah, I think if OP was in one of those places where security searches you etc they would have already been aware of that, and perhaps mentioned it in the letter. It was the fact that someone saw it through tinted windows and OP says this means they would have had to get quite close to see this — that makes me think it isn’t an “official” search.

            1. Lilo*

              It’s hard to tell, the details are a bit sparse. It’s possible this workplace is draconian and arbitrary, but it’s odd that someone looked into the LW’s car and that they would have been fired for that without some missing details. But based on experience it’s both true that workplaces can be controlling and that people can omit important details, so unless LW comes back with some clarification, there’s no way to know.

            2. Lilo*

              I worked for a pro bono organization that handled unemployment appeals work when I was a student. And despite us repeatedly telling clients they had to tell us absolutely everything and we wouldn’t judge them, even for us, the people trying to help them appeal a firing for cause or misconduct, people would very often leave out important details.

              We take LWs at their word, but when the letter isn’t specific on certain things, I always have questions.

          2. Pet Jack*

            I learned that experienced thieves go straight for the trunk because they assume you won’t be leaving anything out in the open. There were experiments done where they left enticing items in the front and the thieves went straight to the back (by getting in and then lowering the back seat)
            This has nothing to do with the question, but I wanted to comment on that.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Fair enough. All those campaigns just made them target the right places!

              On the other hand, out of sight would have worked better for the OP.

            2. Starbuck*

              Yes this is why I like having a hatchback, so that it’s really clear my car actually is totally empty.

        2. amoeba*

          Yup. My boyfriend works on one of these sites and there is a “no alcohol on site” policy. If you park inside, you need to leave any alcohol you might have with you at the entrance, they store it for you and give you a ticket. It’s heavily regulated what you can take in (so, for instance, to take his work laptop home, he first needed official paperwork) and out in other respects as well, and you can definitely have your car searched going out.

          This is something they state very clearly when you start working there, though. If the OP’s workplace is like this, I hope they would have mentioned it in the letter? (I also highly doubt anybody would get fired for this at my boyfriend’s place! But a warning would be completely reasonable as they’d be violating a clearly stated policy.)

        3. aebhel*

          Yeah, it really depends on the circumstances. Personally, I think that ‘you will be fired for having a sealed bottle of alcohol in your locked car in the company parking lot’ is not necessarily implied by a (extremely normal and common) rule against having alcohol in the workplace. Presumably, for industries where this is the norm, it is a policy that most people are aware of. It would not be the norm in any place I’ve ever worked, though.

      2. Observer*

        Why did management not ask them “why were you inspecting OPs car”?

        We actually don’t know that management did not ask that question. But it doesn’t really matter. The fact is that the alcohol was visible without having to get into the car. And unlike law enforcement, where it is sometimes necessary for improperly gathered evidence to be discarded, that does not hold true in private settings. The exception I can see is if someone did something illegal.

    6. The vegetable must be destroyed*

      I always have such trouble understanding this. I worked in German factories amongst others, they had beer at lunchtime and it was never an issue because people took personal responsibility. People would say, “I’m not having a beer, I’ve driving the forklift” or “I’ve got a meeting with Herr Schmidt, I need 4 beers!” (laughter).
      I would be more worried about the type of sneak who is actively prying by looking into employees car windows to report this. Thats a real toxic issue.

      1. münchner kindl*

        Back in the 90s, there was a court case that got a lot of media attention: a company in Bavaria offered beer in the lunch cantina (among other drink options) so employees drank one beer during lunch, then went back to work (office, not factory or machines).

        Somebody (don’t remember who) went to Labour law court that since being drunk at work is not allowed, the company should also not serve beer in the cantina. The employees/ company said it was their right to offer because nobody was forced to get drunk, and it was part of “Bavarian life style” to drink one beer with your lunch.

        The court deliberated some time and ruled:
        Company was free to offer beer
        Employees were free to drink beer, since lunch hour was time off work

        Employees were not allowed to return to work when drunk.

        Many people marvelled at this almost-Schrödinger of drinking without being drunk; some joked that employees could only drink alcohol-free beer (which back then had a reputation for not tasting like real beer, but worse; it’s apparently greatly improved since then); others suggested a loooong lunch break so blood alcohol was down again; some said that for a real-blooded Bavarian, one beeer with lunch would not make them “really” drunk (just in a good mood).

      2. lost academic*

        When German companies run big construction and engineering projects they absolutely adhere to the kind of alcohol policy OP is under, just so you know.

        1. Lilo*

          Yes, my spouse has been to German and Italian foundries and they’re all very very strict about safety.

          1. lost academic*

            I think in the objections we’re seeing in this thread (outside of the people assuming that it’s a more standard office kind of workplace and we really have no idea) that they also don’t realize that in manufacturing and construction site environments you are NOT just risking yourself – you are putting everyone around you at risk, much more so then just “don’t drive tipsy” does. I empathize because it’s hard to really understand what needs to go into the safety and training around operating heavy equipment, particularly mobile equipment, but the hard line policies are all there BECAUSE of things that have happened and you can’t un-dead anyone after the fact.

            1. aebhel*

              This is true, but I’ve seen a lot more people assuming that this IS a manufacturing/construction environment when – as you say – we actually have no idea. That’s a detail that changes whether it’s a bizarrely draconian reaction that nobody would expect or a sensible safety policy that anyone would expect to be fired for violating.

              1. GythaOgden*

                At this point you’re splitting hairs. OP was fired for it and, while we don’t know where exactly she works, the chances are good that if the rule is no alcohol on site at all, including in a car, they worked for a company with which many of us actually do have experience.

                LWs can be misguided and unreliable narrators. We should take what they say at face value, but that doesn’t mean we have to bend over backwards to exonerate them for making a poor decision given the high probability of them working at a secure site.

      3. HBJ*

        Really? People are people. There’s plenty of US workers who take personal responsibility – “I’m not drinking because I have to do X”. I guarantee you there are irresponsible Germans who have been fired for being drunk on the job, just like in the US.

    7. Teacher372*

      Having alcohol in your car in the parking lot of the school I work at is not allowed. I could see this being the same for medical facilities possibly…day cares….etc.

      1. Well...*

        Just because the policy exists doesn’t make it right. I frankly haven’t seen a compelling reason in this entire discussion, and if I were LW, reading this would really bum me out.

        But people in power said so, and they wrote it down first! Good luck with your rent next month! smh…

        1. Lilo*

          I mean, this is an industry standard in a lot of places. Industry standards exist for a reason, usually as the result of patterns in accident reports or safety audits. The number of teeny tiny things that are absolutely crucial in safety audits in high risk places would shock you.

          1. Well...*

            1) LW was clearly shocked by this, so the fact that this is industry standard is some places doesn’t seem to apply to LW. Of course we don’t know for sure, but it’s a decent guess based on the letter actually written in.

            2) I’m sorry but “rules exist for a reason” isn’t a justification for one specific rules. It’s possible for there to be hundreds of very well thought out rules, and then one bad rule. How many good rules exist don’t really carry weight when discussion this questionable one. This is just an appeal to authority, my least favorite argument.

            3) I feel that people in charge of safety & making the rules are THE most important people to recognize this nuance. All-or-nothing thinking and blind rule implementation can be just as dangerous as sloppiness. Writing rules that overreach, or that are complex and difficult to follow also presents safety risk. People who craft such rules and work in such industries are IMO the most important people to understand that “the rules say so” isn’t a good answer.

              1. Well...*

                Yes, rules and regulations are important. That’s why they should be handled with care and not blindly implemented/never questioned.

                1. Glomarization, Esq.*

                  I’m not sure that you took Lilo’s meaning. The phrase “a lot of regulations are written in blood” means that, often, regulations are written after deadly accidents have revealed risks that should be addressed with new rules.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              “the fact that this is industry standard is some places doesn’t seem to apply to LW”

              Much more likely they were aware of the policy and never expected follow through. A lot of policies are inked as a CYA and people don’t expect there to be actual consequences to breaking/bending them. Clearly LW misjudged that in this case.

              The reason is safety and liability. If you have a beer from your car at lunch and then cause an industrial accident (due to intoxication or otherwise) there’s a lot of lawyers, investigators, regulators, and cost that are about to show up. Smart companies prevent that.

              This is enough of a big reaction that I’d assume the company either has history with this sort of incident in the past, or has other reasons not to trust OP. But these policies don’t come out of nowhere. Very bad things happen to bring them about. You not personally encountering them doesn’t lessen the impact of those things and the importance of preventing them.

            2. Lainey L. L-C*

              OP can get a lawyer and argue about whether or not the company was right in the firing in court, but “the rules say so” means the company apparently had a rule, and based on that rule, they fired the OP. We can like or dislike rules, but when it comes down to it, the only recourse OP is gonna have is the court option.

              I’m not blindly following “the rules,” but I also know when/where the options are to balk at them, and the consequences of my actions.

            3. Nina*

              Look, I’ve known rocket test techs who were shocked – shocked! – to be fired for walking up to a tank of highly toxic fuel wearing shirtsleeves, shorts, and slides, opening the lid, and sticking their bare face directly over it. And uh. Yeah. They had absolutely no reason to be shocked, ’cause by industry standards what they did was egregious and they’re lucky they’re not dead. And yet. Shocked!

              And I actually have been (though am not at the moment) one of the people in charge of safety and making the rules. I get it. But in some industries, for some roles, which LW is not necessarily in, ‘no alcohol on the premises, even in your locked car’ is a reasonable rule to have.

        2. 123*

          Yes. That is precisely right. The people in power are the ones who pay the employees, so they make the rules and they decide which employees to fire. The policy might not be right, but it is still enforceable. You can vent your outrage all day long but you don’t run the business (and neither do we) so your opinion doesn’t matter.

        3. PhyllisB*

          In all this discussion, I haven’t seen this addressed: does Op’s company have a zero tolerance for alcohol on the premises? Was Op fully aware of this policy? if the answer to these questions is yes and yes, then the company was within their rights to fire them.

          1. Well...*

            My impression of this discussion is that people are assuming yes and yes, when the most straightforward reading that assumes LW knows their own situation is maybe and no.

          2. Observer*

            Op’s company have a zero tolerance for alcohol on the premises? Was Op fully aware of this policy?

            I suspect that the answer is Yes and Yes, with the caveat that they are either new to the industry, or the company is an outlier in their industry.

            The reason I say that is that the OP emphasizes that they didn’t drink it, they were not planning to drink it at work and that it would have been hard to see. Which indicates that they know that if it were seen they would have been in trouble, but they thought that it would not be seen. In other words, they knew about the policy but didn’t realize how strongly it was enforced and / or that they believed that tinted windows gave the a “reasonable expectation of privacy” that then should insulate them from consequences.

            1. Starbuck*

              Yes, all that qualification makes it sound like they did indeed know there was a rule about alcohol, but maybe didn’t expect it would be enforced or applied to them. Bummer for them!

            2. New Jack Karyn*

              I could see a Yes and a No on this. I’m a teacher, and when I signed a TON of paperwork when I was hired. It’s entirely possible one of those pages was a ‘Zero Tolerance of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs’ policy . . . but I don’t remember it. It’s not something we’re reminded of every year in trainings or meetings–and we’re reminded of a bunch of stuff that way!

              So it *could* be a firm policy, but LW forgot because it’s not top of mind.

        4. umami*

          I’m actually doing our annual mandatory training today, and one of the modules is on the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988, which governs the policies where I work. This applies to any institution or agency that receives federal funding and is provided at time of hire and annually. The rules and punishments for violation are explicit, and yes, it does cover possession.

    8. kiki*

      I worked at a place with a policy like this years ago. How it was explained to me was that the company/ management didn’t want to deal with ambiguous situations, especially in an industry where the potential risks with employees being impaired on the job are high. I feel like this is true of a lot of zero tolerance policies. So in this case, management/ hr has decided it is simpler for them to let LW2 go right away rather than spend the time and resources evaluating whether or not LW2 has been drinking on the job or planned to.

      In my experience at my job with a zero tolerance alcohol policy, they were super clear that even having alcohol in your car could run the risk of you getting fired. They said it in training, they repeated it in newsletters, and they had signs about it around the facility. Because they knew it was potentially an easy thing to accidentally violate without thinking.

      I’m not saying this in support of policies like this– I think they are too rigid in most situations and can get good employees fired for something that doesn’t present real risk– I just wanted to share how it was explained to me.

      1. 123*

        That’s exactly right. The point is not because the bottle in the car is dangerous. The point is that if someone does get drunk and have an accident, the company can go to court and say, “We banned alcohol anywhere on site, even in people’s cars, so we can’t be liable for this person breaking the rules.”

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yes, this. It gives the company more power to fire people without having to “prove” they drank the alcohol. They don’t have to get a BAC or find people squirreled away with open cans in order to act. I’m also not in support of overreaches like this, but if people honestly want to know why these policies exist, this is one reason.

      3. Well...*

        “In my experience at my job with a zero tolerance alcohol policy, they were super clear that even having alcohol in your car could run the risk of you getting fired. They said it in training, they repeated it in newsletters, and they had signs about it around the facility.”

        This really doesn’t seem to be LW’s experience though, so I’m not sure this applies?

        1. kiki*

          I brought this up because I wanted to note that if zero tolerance is indeed the policy, LW’s place of work should have been super duper clear about it. Because it is really normal to bring along a closed bottle of wine for an event later. Or to have forgotten you left the amaro you were gifted over the weekend in the car. If this is LW’s workplace’s policy, they should have made it so clear that LW would have no questions that being fired over this is a possibility.

        2. Happy meal with extra happy*

          We don’t have more info about OP’s workplace so either it does apply or it doesn’t, and OP’s workplace is awful, and thus there will be no explanation or justification. However, a number of comments are taking the position that such a policy could NEVER be reasonable, so these examples are useful.

        3. Starbuck*

          You’ve never met the kind of irresponsible person who can be told a rule multiple times but just doesn’t think it’ll apply to them? I definitely have, a lot. The LW definitely seemed to know there was some kind of rule about alcohol (hence the excuse about not having consumed it, it was for later), but thought there behavior might be an exception somehow.

          1. Parakeet*

            I’ve met that kind of person. I’ve also met the kind of organization that has strict rules even if they’re not the sort of context where those rules would make sense. There’s a lot of “if LW2’s company has this rule, it must be because they’re in a context where it would make sense” throughout the comments, but I don’t think that’s obviously true. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t.

            Knowing, or assuming, that there’s a rule that you can’t drink at work (hence the mention of having not consumed it, since that means they weren’t drinking it at work), and knowing that there’s a rule about no alcohol in your car, are different. There’s really not enough info either way here, but a lot of commenters are acting like there is.

            Tangentially, if we never debated work rules and company behaviors that we had no power to change, this comment section would be so much less active than it is, for better or for worse!

            1. Starbuck*

              Yeah unfortunately the real issue is that the LW didn’t give us all the information we’d need to have a really clear and helpful answer to their question, hence all the back and forth and guessing and assumptions. It’s entertaining enough to pass the time with though!

    9. lilsheba*

      My question is what the hell was someone doing snooping in their car in the first place? I don’t appreciate people snooping into my business.

      1. Teacher372*

        We have a school resource officer that makes rounds in the parking lot…so there are lots of reasons there might be security or other people checking different areas that are property of the business/school/etc.

        1. KayDee*

          A school was one of my first thoughts on where I would expect a zero tolerance policy, and I could imagine someone checking cars (like a highschool where kids have their own cars, to ensure no one is up to no good between classes.)

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Could have been a security guard tasked with checking vehicles for contraband, stolen company property, or evidence that a vehicle is abandoned and needs to be removed. Plenty of worksites have “all vehicles subject to search” rules in place for security and safety reasons.

  8. Shy Platypus*

    #1: I’m confused about the nuance between “I’m good” and “I’m fine”, I thought they were kind of the same. Maybe it’s about being “just fine”?

    Either way, I’m sure your boss means well but she’s failing spectacularly. You shouldn’t have to split semantic hair when answering such a routine question. Hopefully it’s a phase!

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I take “fine” (and “grand” in Ireland) to be neutral, implying you’re having a pretty normal day, nothing great, nothing bad. “Good” would imply to me that you’re having a better day than usual, that something particularly good has happened or you are in a really good mood. Then again, one of the American exchange students when I was at college used habitually answer “good” to that question, so this may be a cultural difference in language.

      1. bamcheeks*

        When I was in the US Midwest the correct rhythm was “how are you? “good, how are you?” “good!” I answered “not bad, thanks” and got a “jeez, I didn’t ask for your LIFE STORY” look back.

      2. Seashell*

        I’m American, and I would also take fine to mean neutral or maybe slightly better than neutral. Good seems better than fine to me.

      3. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, in my experience in the US “good” is the default answer. “Fine” is fine, but definitely conveys “less good than ‘good.'”

      4. Keymaster of Gozer*

        ‘I’m grand’
        ‘Can’t complain’
        ‘Well the human software is running without errors so…’

      5. alienor*

        “Good” is the most common answer in the U.S. I have some very enthusiastic coworkers who will say “Great,” which is a bit much for me. Secretly, I admire the one guy we have who is from the north of England and never expects (or gives) more than an “Alright” or “Not bad.”

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I’m wondering too. I mean, in romcoms when one tells the other “Fine!” it usually means the situation is anything but.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, but it’s the tone of voice that counts there. Saying “Oh, I’m fine thanks, how are you?” with a smile is very different from a curt “Fine!”

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          If I’m not really OK but not wanting to talk about it, I’ll say “Fine” in such a way as to make people wonder whether I’m being upbeat or curt!
          (they might just sense that they don’t want to know either)

      2. mlem*

        A coworker of mine was assuming — without telling the rest of us! — that anytime we said something was fine, we were angry … because her father used the word passive-aggressively. And then at one point, when this became apparent, she tried to push us to change our language, rather than accepting that we weren’t all PAing her.

    3. LW1 OP*

      To be honest, I mentally categorized “good” and “fine” together with maybe a slight nuanced difference (fine being more neutral and good being better than neutral) until my boss decided good is apparently too positive of and assessment for my mood but fine meant she could invoke “just fine.”

      1. Observer*

        until my boss decided good is apparently too positive of and assessment for my mood but fine meant she could invoke “just fine.”

        To be honest, this is a perfect reason to NOT take her seriously. And to think that modifying your words is not acquiescing to anything. Because, to be kind, she’s being ridiculously pedantic, and tweaking word choice because meaningless at this point. Like if she got bent out of shape is you used “pair” vs “two” of something.

    4. kiki*

      So I think ‘good’ has a slightly more positive connotation than ‘fine,’ but it’s also very common (in the US at least) to use ‘good’ to mean just ‘not bad.’ I don’t know about other cultures, but I feel like in the US there’s some positivity inflation– your baseline should be ‘good’ so saying ‘fine’ can come across as slightly negative. I personally think it’s a bit odd– most work days will be just fine, not actively good– but I don’t want to stick out or be perceived as negative, so I say ‘good’ most often. I say ‘fine’ when I’m actually not doing well but just don’t want to discuss it with coworkers, haha.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Dictionarywise, not much difference, but there’s often a social nuance that “fine” = “adequate”.

    6. Gerri's Jaunty Hat*

      Agree, “good” is the neutral answer, and then the sentence moves on (often to “how are you?”)
      To be neutral, the “good” in “I’m good” would usually be pitched slightly lower in tone than “I’m”. But if you want to emphasize how good you are, like it’s actually a peppy day, the “good” would be pitched higher than the “I’m”.

  9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    #5: My aunt, who is a southern lady, taught me that the best response to a compliment is “Thank you!” with a smile. Accept the complement gracefully, don’t try to lessen or refuse it. (There are exceptions of course, but those usually aren’t actually complements anyway.) Variations on the same theme are also good: “Thanks, that’s so sweet of you to say”, “Thanks, it has pockets!”, “Thank you, I love your hair too!”.

    1. Ukdancer*

      Yes my business mentor told me the same. Accept the compliment and smile. She said then make a note of it for appraisal time (if appropriate) to make sure it was mentioned.

    2. SarahKay*

      ‘Thanks, it has pockets!’ is one I use a lot. Or even, ‘thanks, and it has these lovely *huge* pockets!’ for my favourite owl dress which has pockets big enough to hold both a book and a (small) bottle of water.
      I also got told that the best response to a compliment was just to say ‘thank you’ and smile.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I was skimming, and thought at first that this is how you respond to work feedback, which would honestly be delightful.

      2. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Please tell me more about that wondrous owl dress of yours and its’ book and water bottle holding pockets!!
        Is it bought or self-made? Did you add the pockets later on? Does the dress not droop noticibly and uncomfortably when you have a book in its’ pocket?
        Oh and what is the owl part of owl dress? :D

        1. SarahKay*

          It’s a knit dress in a tunic style and sadly I can’t claim to have made it myself. It does droop a little when I add the water, but the shape is such that it’s not too awful – and frankly, I don’t care enough not to use the (huge!) pockets.
          Owl dress because it’s covered in owls – although I’d had it for two years thinking of it as my ‘pac-man dress’ before someone exclaimed over the cute owls and I realised that what I thought were pac-man all had little bird feet and were actually owls!
          I’ve had it for ten years now, but googling for an example image shows it’s still available to buy, so I’m tempted to get a spare for when mine wears out. Link to follow….

          1. SarahKay*

            I think Alison thought my link was spam, as it hasn’t posted, but if you google “Cute Owls Tunic Orange funky fashions” there’s a good chance that will get you the right result. It’s a UK store, and at least googling from the UK it’s the first link that comes up.

    3. Lissa Evans*

      We had a speaker at a conference one time when I was quite young – the audience was all young women. The speaker was talking about the cultural pressure to denigrate oneself and used my favorite line of all – When someone compliments you, they are only two correct responses – thank you, or thank you, tell me more!

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        THIS. We — especially women — have been taught to be humble. Accepting praise is seen as bragging or being full of yourself. So we try to down play it.

        Say thank you and move on.

  10. Turanga Leela*

    OP #5: “Thank you” is great. I find it helpful to think that it’s part of my job to receive compliments gracefully–among other things, I can model to more junior employees (especially junior women) that it’s ok to be openly proud of your work.
    To that end, here are some phrases you can use that don’t denigrate yourself:
    “Thank you. I was really happy with the way [project] turned out.”
    “Thank you. I’ve been working hard on that.”
    “Thank you, that really means a lot to me.”

    1. Lola*

      OP2, I don’t recommend following Alison’s first suggestions of raising prices for this specific customer or “softening the blow” by saying you’re booked for months – it’s quite easy to see through these, they look like excuses, and it will make you look bad.
      I think there’s a higher chance of success if you’re open with them that you’ll need payment in advance and that if they’re late for pickup once more, you’ll drop them as a client.

  11. pcake*

    When someone asks me “How are you?” and it feels like a trap or I don’t feel like answering, I usually say “Not dead, so I’m already ahead of the game”.

    1. Awkwardness*

      Yes, you can use sarcasm only occasionly or you will be perceived as negative too.
      There was a letter once how “How are you?” is mainly about acknowledging the other person. I took a lot of notes and tried some of the suggested versions when I was too bad to find any happy aspect in my day/work day.
      It did not work. When answered along the lines of “alive and moving”, I was asked why I was always saying such things. I can not imagine such answers to fly on a regularbuse

        1. Awkwardness*

          I did not want to make this implication! Sorry if it came across differently.

          Your explanation really made sense and I was thinking really hard how to use this in a way that felt authentic to me. In the end I went with some cheerful “Fine!” during the last year and was surprised how easy it was to fake it and how easily it was accepted. I had a very tough time at work during the last year and this helped me to quickly deflect from myself and focus on the other person.
          The person above happened to meet me only on an annual basis. Even though it was an unfortunate coincidence, I learned my lesson about sarcasm.

        1. Tired and confused*

          It does if you happen to live in a place where people don’t use sarcasm much and you use the sweetest tone. In the decade + I’ve been answering sarcastically only once or twice have people looked at me like they think maybe I’m being sarcastic!!!

          1. Cmdrshrd*

            But in that case it seems that people are not perceiving/understanding the sarcasm? I would question/ask if people don’t realize you are being sarcastic is it actually a sarcastic response, I think the answer is no.

        2. amoeba*

          Eh, that depends on the boss! Apart from the ones that won’t get it anyway and think you’re sincere, I’ve definitely also had bosses who appreciated sarcasm (when appropriate, obviously, so for chitchat, not during project meetings…)

        3. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Eh depends on the culture. Working in Boston sarcasm is typically expected in all relationships to some extent.

    2. B*

      Totally depends on the workplace and industry, but some workplaces a gentle, good-natured ironic reply to this kind of question actually helps build trust and camaraderie. I have had jobs where everyone knows we are all overworked and stressed out, and bosses are more likely to respond well to “you know, living the dream” than they would to false positivity.

    3. Merrie*

      I work in a hospital, so a way to put an upbeat spin on being not-so-great is any variation on “Still doing a lot better than most of the patients here”.

  12. Library Lady*

    My favorite response to “How are you?” is “Well I’m upright and facing the right direction.” I started using that during COVID when I was incredibly stressed out and needed a better response than “One step away from hiding in a corner and hissing at people”

    1. Rain*

      I worked with a guy who would say, “I’m above ground and out of custody.” I stole that and use it pretty regularly I’m just okay.

    2. LinesInTheSand*

      I started saying “I’m hanging in” which worked really well during COVID. It may work less well now, but “fine” was a lie I just couldn’t get out of my mouth in 2020

  13. Properlike*

    Solo businesses I would never think of tipping, for all the reasons stated above, but yes to the holiday bonus. I’m American, have worked in service industries, tip really well when warranted (and don’t when it’s not.) But I’m confused about tipping, for instance, a massage therapist in a medical office where insurance pays, vs a spa, vs a person who comes to my house. In the first and last cases, I haven’t. It’s wild to me that a solo entrepreneur would expect to be tipped.

    As a solo entrepreneur who does provide a service, I’ve set rules in advance where either side can stop based on different criteria, and I’m very upfront. So, for this and other customers, you can lay out that you have new policy that X late pickups and/or payments mean you have the option of not setting future appointments.

    1. Ukdancer*

      Being in the UK I’ve never had medical insurance because we have the NHS but I didn’t tip the physiotherapist I saw through the NHS when I hurt my leg because that was a medical service and you don’t in the UK tip medical practitioners.

      I tip my therapist at the spa because that’s a non-medical service. Never had a home visiting therapist (because I enjoy the spa type experience) but if I had someone who set her own rates I probably wouldn’t tip. I don’t tip the current hairdresser because she’s the salon owner and sets the rates.

    2. Higgs Bison*

      How do you know if it’s a solo business unless its name is literally the same as the person who shows up? Assuming you know the name (unlike with, say, a taxi).

      1. Ukdancer*

        Google mainly. I mean I Google and research places before using them especially if it’s something like a hairdresser or spa where I’m wanting to know who im letting loose on me but also for things like a cleaning company where I want to know who they are and check the staff earn the London living wage.

        For pre-ordered taxis I use the same company most times and tip through their app. Same with Deliveroo. I know its not the owner in either case.

            1. Karo*

              Even if you’re not expecting tips, I think it’s a relevant data point to include in this letter if everyone else does provide tips. It’s another reason that this customer isn’t horrible but that the OP has other customers they’d rather focus on.

      2. WellRed*

        Check their website, read their business card, engage with them during whatever service., use the bigger context in which they work. Or, stuff them on a tip and see how they react ; )

      3. doreen*

        A lot of time that’s the only name the business has – if it even has one. Most babysitters I have encountered don’t have a business name nor have the couple of cleaners I’ve known. But assuming it’s not a taxi, it’s not that hard to find out – how did you find this service Was it their own ad or was it a website? What kind of website – is it a business’s website for the business or something AirBnB like for whatever service you are looking for?

      4. Sloanicota*

        My stylist told me she was the owner of the business when I tried to tip her. It sounds like there’s a lot of other people here who are not so scrupulous.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      Not tipping the owner is just guidance, not a hard and fast rule that must always be followed.

      I tip my barber, who’s also the owner of the shop. I’ll leave some change or bills in the coffee place – no idea who the owner is. I tip the guy who comes and does the lawn or snow.

      Everything is so expensive now and lots of people are just trying to make ends meet. I’m fortunate that I can tip generously so why not

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh man I wish I was in that situation. Money is so tight right now that I often decide not to do something because I’m not sure if tipping is expected and the cost would push me over. I can’t take the attitude of “why not tip extra for everything, it’s a kindness” – but I wish I could!

    1. Anonymous Tech Writer*

      A much-missed manager was known to say “Sparkling!” with an over the top grin before settling back into his normal expression which at rest looked kind of bored even if he was actively participating.

      I never had the nerve to ask if HE had gotten the “smile more” instruction that women so often get.

  14. Jade*

    Dog groomer: have these obnoxious clients prepay if you keep them. And up the price. Pick up after close at $30 per 15 minutes.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yes this is it! I recently had a request from a potential new client. She was stressed out and I was busy. I decided to give her a high estimate, so I quoted my emergency weekend rate as if it were my normal rate. She accepted, so I found myself doing mundane work for my tip-top rate and it made me happy.
      The late pick-up rate *might* just mean they arrive even later, because they feel that they are paying for a dog-sitting service. This happened at a daycare where parents were often late: they introduced a late fee, and the parents simply arrived even later, like obviously it was OK since they were paying for the privilege of arriving later.

      1. Juggling Plunger*

        A lot of daycares have adapted to this by charging rates that are really high to make it not worth it to use the late fee as after hours care – ours charges $5 every 5 minutes you’re late. LW needs to charge enough that a) it’s clearly a penalty, not just another service they offer, and b) that it’s high enough that if they do end up stuck with the dog (and it’s the only thing they’re doing) that they’re getting paid enough for it to be worth dealing with.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Our daycare clearly explained that the seemingly high late pickup charge is because usually the daycare operating costs are divided by 8 kids per person, the business must have a minimum 2 people on site while open, and late pickup will send both of them into overtime.
          So our LW could base her late fee on her desired hourly rate *1.5, and hopefully discourage the lateness.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Also, hello, daycare people want to get home too. They’ve been at work all day too.

            I think it was here I read someone who said well daycare will just have to wait until I show up. I laughed so hard at that.

            OP — this person already annoys you. Just be too busy to book any more appointments. They aren’t going to magically change because you raise your rates, or whatever. Plus you don’t need the argument. Look what happened when you refused to take the big dog. When people show you who they are– believe them.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          When I worked in daycare 30 years ago, I got $5/5 minutes of late pickup! Which was amazing, because I was making $5/hour, and the late fee was paid in cash and went right into my pocket.

          1. Lily Potter*

            $5.00 in 1993 is worth $10.50 in 2023. $10.50 for every five minutes late comes out to $126.00/hour tax-free in today’s dollars!

            If I was a parent, you can bet I’d pick up my kid on on time.
            If I was a daycare provider, I’d almost be hoping for late parents! (well, to a certain extent, of course. I know many daycare providers have leeway for parents that are on time 364/365 days a year)

        3. sparkle emoji*

          Yeah, a childcare business I worked at had a policy where there was a late fee that progressively got higher in 15(?) minute increments, collected when the parents got there. Whoever was staying late with the kids also called the parents to ask where they were.

    2. Harper the Other One*

      Yes, I was also going to suggest adding late pickup fees! Totally reasonable decision (and likely fairly common.)

    3. Bonnie*

      Yes absolutely – the late payment would be the dealbreaker for me, so I’d raise the price and not allow them to drop off without paying in advance.

  15. Jade*

    Question: was alcohol container open? I’d never leave visible alcoholic beverages at work. Too risky. Put it in your trunk.

      1. Chairman of the Bored*

        This depends very much on where the car is located. In several states passengers are allowed to have open containers in a moving vehicle.

        In Mississippi, even the *driver* is allowed to drink as long as they are not legally impaired.

        1. Starbuck*

          I am shocked they are allowed to have such a loophole in the law and still receive federal highway funds! Wow!

      2. Curiouser and Curiouser*

        Connecticut is another place without an open container law, open is very much legal as long as the driver isn’t drinking (passengers can drink though!)

    1. WellRed*

      The OP says it was intended for an event after work and that they weren’t drinking it. Let’s give them credit for not bringing opened alcohol to work or an event. Or, just take them at their word in general.

    2. Pyanfar*

      I’ve worked on construction sites for various client that all had the rule that no alcohol or weapons were allowed anywhere on site, including in locked trunks of personal vehicles, which were subject to random search. The only way around it was to park not on property, which, in some cases, was not feasible! However, we always made the rule crystal clear to people prior to their first day.

  16. raincoaster*

    Would it make sense for the dog groomer to add a boarding fee? $20 an hour or whatever?

    Also, it’s not customary to tip business owners, just staff. I get tips sometimes when I petsit, but only when I’m booked through an app like Rover or Pawshake, where I’m basically a subcontractor, ie staff. I don’t get tips when people book me through my own website or ads.

      1. Rose*

        Be prepared for the client to use LW as pet sitter then… see comment elsewhere about late fees in a daycare meant parents just came even later since they payed for late pickup.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I was thinking more like OP should charge for a second “session”. IE if dog is supposed to be picked up after a one hour grooming session, and they’re more than 5 minutes late to pickup, now they’re getting charged for two grooming sessions. The premise would be she can’t watch the late-owner dog and groom her next appointment simultaneously. Hence the late person is “taking up” the next slot and thus charged for it (and for ruining the rest of the schedule).

  17. Allonge*

    LW1 – I would be so tempted to respond ‘I don’t know, you tell me!’ if this repeats more than, well, twice.

  18. Viette*

    LW2 – Yeah, there are workplaces where the policy is strictly no alcohol on premises. If that’s the rule, then that’s the rule — and yes they can fire you for that. Maybe it’s bullsh** and maybe they’re skulking around peering in cars, but there are indeed workplaces where there’s a zero alcohol on site rule and zero tolerance for violations.

    Argue about whether that’s appropriate given the workplace but it’s not unheard of. If you’re in an office park that’s one thing; if you work at a rehab facility and I don’t think anyone’s going to suggest it’s cool. I assume the LW is aware of whether the policy makes any sense in their work environment.

    In fact, I’m curious if the rule was known to the letter writer and publicly stated, or if this was a surprise. The LW (and Alison) appear to feel that the rule is ridiculous, but if the rule is ridiculous and well-known, then there’s a strong argument for having not broken the rule or at least fully concealed the alcohol.

    1. Jade*

      It’s not ridiculous. My brother cannot have any alcohol at all (even in trunk) on construction sites. The risk is too great. You can’t drink it at work if it’s not there.

      1. allathian*

        That’s true, but if that’s the case, then I’d assume that the policy would be outlined in the employee handbook.

        Even if alcohol is banned on the premises, most employers wouldn’t go so far as to search people’s cars. There are obviously exceptions to this, but employees undoubtedly know if they run the risk of having their car searched in the company parking lot.

        1. cabbagepants*

          I admire your confidence that all employees of a company have read, understood, and retained every word of the company’s employee handbook. This has never been true in any workplace I have worked.

          1. abca*

            OK, but if you work at a place where the risk is so great that you can absolutely not have one drop of alcohol in a closed bottle in someones car, then surely as HR you would not hide that away in a handbook that you know nobody will read? That would be extreme negligence on the part of HR in my opinion. This is apparently a high risk matter! That should not be just in a handbook, but explained to employees in person. And there should be mandatory safety courses every year where this is repeated.

            1. mlem*

              My company has mandatory trainings on any number of things, and yet people who have taken these trainings promptly forget the content. I know I forget things I’m not regularly making use of. I don’t think you can safely assume that the company failed to convey something as important if an employee didn’t remember, or didn’t connect an action to a policy.

            2. Observer*

              OK, but if you work at a place where the risk is so great that you can absolutely not have one drop of alcohol in a closed bottle in someones car, then surely as HR you would not hide that away in a handbook that you know nobody will read?

              True. But have you noticed how many people don’t pay attention to all of the trainings and signs that get posted?

              The OP doesn’t say that there wasn’t such a rule in place. They say that someone had to have been looking for the alcohol. Which could mean that they knew about the rule. Maybe not, but I would not be surprised at all if the OP knew about the rule and just never expected to be bitten by it.

          2. umami*

            Many companies have annual mandatory training, and/or policy statements that require employees to sign that they have, in fact, read and understood the key policies that are required for employment. Signing off without doing so still makes you liable for breaking those policies.

            1. Relentlessly Socratic*

              Echoing what others have said, people go through the training on autopilot all the time.
              I had an employee do something incredibly not okay from a data security standpoint, which we corrected as soon as I found out about it. They said “well, I didn’t know…” and I, as politely as I could, said it was clearly outlined in our annual training that they signed off on. Multiple times.

          1. Antilles*

            Frankly, even if OP did read that section of the handbook, I don’t think it would matter. The average person is see the section about “no alcohol on company premises” and interpret it as (1) don’t drink at work and (2) don’t bring alcohol into the office – not thinking that their car in the parking lot counts as on-premises.

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      The thing that gets me is, I never leave anything valuable where it’s visible in my car. Unless this parking lot is patrolled (and maybe it is!) there’s too much risk of getting a window broken so someone can help themselves to my stuff. So I’m kinda reacting to that: you just left it *showing*? What on earth?! (And a note to a few people who have been my passengers: nobody knows your purse is empty until they break the window to steal it. Don’t leave it visible!)

      1. Antilles*

        And a note to a few people who have been my passengers: nobody knows your purse is empty until they break the window to steal it. Don’t leave it visible!
        Another very common one along these lines: Bookbags and duffel bags left on car seats. I’ve known three different people who’ve had someone break into their car and steal a visible bookbag or duffel bag that they left on the passenger seat or back seat.

        In all three cases, the bag was just used to carry gym stuff. So it seems laughable that someone would break a window just to steal a pair of sweaty Nikes and a couple sets of running clothes.

        But of course the potential thief doesn’t know that, he just knows that a lot of people would keep their work laptop or tablet or important documents in the book bag. So thieves will break in to grab it on the chance that it’s valuable.

    3. hydrangea macduff*

      I work in public education and our school campuses are drug, alcohol and e-cigarette free zones—including in vehicles in parking lots. Having alcohol in your car visible to students and the community would definitely be grounds for discipline and possibly firing for an employee. Does that mean that on occasion there isn’t a bottle of wine in someone’s trunk because they are going to a party after work? Not at all. But if it were known it was there or if it were visible to others, that would be another story.

  19. Orange You Glad I Did Not Say Banana*

    “How are you?” work responses I like:

    1. Ready to work!
    2. Getting started with my day.
    3. Enjoying this coffee.
    4. Just logging into the Gifelte Fish Project. Do you have the stats back on that?
    5. I was wondering about the Triptych meeting? Is that still on for 2:00pm?

    Basically anything that’s not “here are my feelings” but instead “I’m work focused in a friendly way”.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is good. Removes the performance portion entirely and skips to business content.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      “It is my pleasure to open for you and my satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done”

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Ooh, yes! For OP1’s boss (or anyone else who is this obnoxious about a “How are you?”), #3 and #4 are excellent suggestions.

      I think I’ve often adopted similar strategies. Sometimes, people will push back and ask, “But no, how are *you*?” For coworkers I don’t have a warm relationship with, I responded with a, “Fine, thanks for asking. You?” in a neutral tone. Hopefully one of your suggestions will work with OP1’s boss.

  20. BattleCat*

    LW4, I read this somewhere but I think it applies:
    It’s only a lie if the person asking has a right to know

    1. MassMatt*

      #4 It’s bad for an employer to try to track down who might have left a bad Glassdoor review, and LW can certainly deny it.

      But LW said they had raised issue with the health care plan that work multiple times, and escalated it multiple times. They seem to have a real bee in their bonnet about the health care plan, and denials that oh, no, that wasn’t ME who put the very same complaints about the plan online, are likely to ring hollow.

      1. Grith*

        Plausible deniability – “no that wasn’t me, but I do happen to agree with those concerns and now it seems like I’m not the only one. Given this is now having an effect on the perception of your business, would you like to discuss this topic again and see if we can make some improvements?”

  21. The answer is (probably) 42*

    LW5- If you feel like a simple “thank you” isn’t enough, is what you’re trying to convey here that you not just appreciate it but also want to sustain the quality of work that earned you the praise in the first place? Like “I’m looking forward to moving on to the next stage of this project!” or “I learned some interesting new techniques while working on this, those could be useful in the future tasks!”

    This definitely runs the risk of coming off as insincere/brown nosing, especially if you overdo it. So it’s gotta be something that you really mean. But basically- positive feedback can be constructive just like critical feedback can be. So if you think of it as constructive (keep doing X rather than stop doing X) you might find more things to say beyond acknowledging the praise.

    LW1: I’m sure I won’t be the only one to point this out, but in Norway apparently one of the ways to respond to that is “up and not crying”. This isn’t useful to you, except you might get a laugh out of imagining your boss’s reaction to THAT.

    1. The answer is (probably) 42*

      I could’ve said all that in like 80% less words. I need coffee.

      I promise I don’t usually sound like a badly trained marketing lingo AI…

  22. Weez*

    LW5 – say thank you, and share the glory if someone particularly deserves it – especially junior or often-overlooked coworkers. “Thank you! [Coworker] helped with [part], she’s very good at [what she did].”

  23. underground heron*

    LW3, how is someone who doesn’t respect your time (late picking up their dog), your financial situation (late paying fees) or your way of doing business (combative in conversations around their dog) “not necessarily bad”? They may not be a bad person, but they are a bad client for you. Which is fine. You sound like these things don’t “justify” not wanting to work with them in your head, so I would suggest to spend some time to think about what kinds of behaviour from clients you would want at your business. What makes someone a good client for YOU? And then select who you give appointments to, who you make accomodations for, based on that. That’s one of the privileges of being self-employed – you get to chose who you want to work with, on your own terms. You sound like you are in a situation where you get to exercise that privilige, so use it without shame or guilt. Congratulations on growing your business so succesfully! Enjoy only working for people who you enjoy working for.

    Regarding your “not necessarily bad” client – if you don’t want to work for them anymore, you can just claim your calendar, as Alison suggested. You’re sorry, but business has been going so well that you’re booked out in the foreseeable future and can’t take any more appointments from them. Would they like suggestions for other places to take their business? Good luck and all the best for them and their dogs.
    If you are open to giving them another chance, I’d suggest citing your successfull business and their behaviour thus far as incompatible: Business has been going really well and as a result you’re booked very tightly. Client has been picking up their dog a bit later than agreed on, but you won’t be able to accomodate that in the future. Your rates will change to “amount that justifies working for them + tip” and will need to be payd x days after the appointment. Knowing this, do they still want to work with you? You of course totally understand if that means they’d rather take their business elsewhere.

  24. Not another Teams group chat*

    LW5: we got new senior leadership about 4 years ago who have totally ruined our workplace, put it this way, we used to have a normal staff attrition rate and in the last 4 years literally HALF our staff have left and it’s not a huge organisation, we’ve had 90 out of 200 leave, and then new people come and they leave within a month.
    This new leadership team like to do public humiliations of positive feedback, for example: I presented at an industry conference recently and the organiser wrote to one of my leadership team and said how great it was and they really appreciated it. Next thing there’s an all staff email saying how I ‘was a true ambassador and upheld the organisation’s values’. It would have felt more genuine had the leader phoned me and personally thanked me. I really struggle with knowing how to respond to the fakeness of it all. Oh another time we had a ‘gratitude snowball’ and for some reason they picked me, it was all over the group teams chat and honestly it just made me cringe. I ended up responding, ‘thank you all for your messages, I’m not entirely comfortable with the feedback but I do appreciate your kind words’.
    Sorry this is really just me sympathising I don’t have anything helpful to add!

    1. KateM*

      Reminds me of a class I sat in while learning teaching – the teacher admonished someone and later praised someone and in both cases, students sat like mice in front of a snake, and I thought myself that if I was her student, I would do my best to not attract her attention neither in bad nor a good way.

      1. Vi*

        Speaking of school classes – I remember years ago I was taking a college class and the prof called on me… I answered and the prof responded by saying it was ok to feel that way.
        I replied that my feeling didn’t require his permission or validation.
        Was the youngest in the class, female, and a poc. The prof was all the opposite and arrogantly condescending to boot.

        He was shocked but to give him credit he was more careful in how he spoke to us for the rest of the course. I did get an A btw.

        Have mellowed a bit with age but sometimes that younger me comes out.

  25. Kiki Is The Most*

    LW#3. I, too, set my own hours/fees, and it’s good to have a few statements ready for discussion with a client that you want to set parameters with or let go from your client base. Here are a few of my ‘warning’ texts/emails/convos: (wordsmith away with any of them of course)

    “While I do enjoy grooming Fluffy, she is often not picked up on time. I do not have the time nor space to be able to kennel Fluffy. It will be X$/hour for late pick up, and I will need to be paid in cash at the time of pick up. If this is not a system you can work with, I can suggest other groomers.”

    “It seems that our arrangement isn’t working as I’ve asked for Fluffy to be picked up on time and for payments to be made same-day, and this did not happen at the last appointment. I don’t think I’m the groomer for you anymore.”

    I work with children and asking people to respect your time, service, care, and space are important. Letting go of the clients that make your job incredibly difficult will mean that you can continue to give your best service to those clients that do respect your business.

    1. Moodbling*

      The late pickup rate for Fluffy needs to be so high that LW would be happy for the owner to be late. like $25/5 minutes.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Yes, as a childcare person I expect Kiki knows this but apparently (certainly in U.K. nurseries [daycare] they found finish parents for being late to pickup didn’t actually reduce lateness because the parents just felt they had paid for the extra half hour or whatever. So if you do this be sure you are happy taking the money option because it may well not be a deterrent.

        1. iglwif*

          I wonder if it makes a difference whether the late fee is per half-hour or per minute / 5 minutes? Because my kid’s daycare charged $5 per minute of lateness, and I personally would have found that VERY motivating. (I was never late for pickup, because my work hours were 08:00-16:00 and the daycare was open until 18:00. But half an hour late would have added up to $150, and that’s genuine emergency kind of money — even more so ~20 years ago when my story takes place.)

      2. K*

        The owner will then start to see this as an extra service she’s paying for. It won’t solve OP’s scheduling problem.

        1. Rainy*

          Yup. The best thing you can do is charge a semi-shocking rate for overnight board and leave at the usual time, letting the owner discover that you mean it.

          It’s literally the only thing that ever worked for us with the people who pull that kind of stunt.

    2. Ahnon4Thisss*

      Yes, I think this is a better way to go about this with the client. This is something you have to be direct about, especially as the owner of the business. You need to set boundaries with your clients, and if they violate those boundaries, you can fire them.

      Most important, I think these boundaries need to be set for ALL clients. Create some policies and post them on your website/Insta/FB/whatever you use. Many hair dressers do the same thing and give clients a strike system. My hair dresser was telling me that she had to fire a client because she was 20+ min late for every appointment and she was someone who got a full service (bleaching, toning, cut, blowdry). It sucked for my hair dresser to lose that kind of money, but she was taking care of her time AND her other clients’ time.

      In the long run, it can only help you and your business.

  26. Paul Pearson*

    LW #1
    I’d suggest breaking into a choreographed song and dance number about how much joy your feeling
    Or at least falling to your knees and loudly praising the lord for he has delivered you to heaven while still being alive
    But my office has a higher level of sarcasm tolerance than most

  27. I should really pick a name*

    I’ve found it’s a good policy to put alcohol in the trunk where it can’t be seen, no matter what the circumstances.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I second this. Bottles in the trunk, in bags, or in boxes get into less mischief.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!!*

      Not all cars have trunks. If you have an suv there is no trunk. But I agree that if the OP had put it in a box or something, or even covered it up with a blanket this would not have been a problem.

    3. JSPA*

      I’ve worked places where the entire campus is dry–federally-funded sites, mostly–and others that have a 100% ban on firearms (even locked in dedicated secure storage in a vehicle in the parking lot). In both cases, violations are an immediate firing offense–and this is usually VERY clearly spelled out in the hiring and onboarding. If the letter writer is completely certain that this was not covered in their hiring, onboarding etc (including the “summary firing offense” part), they might be able to get severance. But that’s frankly about all. (This is well-trodden ground.)

  28. Peanut Hamper*


    “Just fine, except for this massive case of diarrhea I had this morning.” And then go into very graphic detail.

    Boss will learn to accept whatever you offer as a response in future. I guarantee it.

  29. yuck*

    Wanting to fire a client for the first two reason is fine, but wanting to fire them due to the lack of tipping isn’t. You’re a dog groomer – not a waitress making $3/hr. And it also sounds like you’re the owner – you’d never tip the owner anyway.

    Tipping is getting out of control – everyone seems to expect a tip nowadays.

    1. Gyne*

      I got asked to leave a tip once in a boutique clothing store – I went to pay and the clerk passed the tablet to me to select my tip amount. I haven’t been back since.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      Yeah I don’t expect servers on low wages to change the entire culture of the American restaurant industry but as the business owner you could solve the tip gripe entirely by charging the price you want to be paid; why not just be honest about it? Then you don’t care if they don’t offer, and if they do you can refuse (unless you feel you truly went above and beyond eg staying open late because they were stuck in traffic).

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      The one that confused me a little was getting paid “hours after the appointment”. I’m picturing a solo person who doesn’t take credit cards on the spot and where you need to pay by Venmo or an online system or something if you aren’t using cash. If the moment of picking up the dog is a little busy and they want to send you the money once you get home, and they’re reliable about doing it the same day, why is that a big deal?

      It used to be that businesses either required payment on the spot or were set up to invoice people later, and some of the new payment methods have kind of blurred the lines and changed the dynamics a bit. I know I like to use Venmo when I can focus on it for a minute and not when I’m doing three other things because you have to be sure you’re sending to the right person and it can be harder to fix a mistake than with a retail credit card transaction. If they’re paying you reliably on the same day without reminders, does that really make them a bad client?

      Or maybe I’m just getting old and don’t understand some of the current norms.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        At first I thought that was BEC territory. But then I thought about how I hate open loops and having to track stuff–if customers whip out their phones and pay on the spot, she can check them off. But if not, she has to keep track of whether they’ve paid.

      2. Broadway Duchess*

        My mom does this either the same reasoning, but I don’t really understand this. Services like that are generally paid for at the time they are rendered. I’ve asked my mom to either bring cash or have the phone-based payment ready, but she doesn’t like either of those options. I don’t think it’s okay to not pay someone until it’s convenient for you, even if it’s only a few hours later. Some places are operating on shoestring budgets and need their money when they say they need the money.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I can understand this, I suppose (though still don’t understand why a delay of hours as opposed to days really matters even on a tight budget). It just makes me feel old and cranky, I guess – my instinct is that if you want payment on the spot you should probably take credit cards via something like Square on your phone or tablet so clients can swipe or tap and not potentially have to download a new app or create a new account. But I know that comes with fees and hassle, too.

          1. Cmdrshrd*

            “my instinct is that if you want payment on the spot you should probably take credit cards via something like Square on your phone or tablet so clients can swipe or tap and not potentially have to download a new app or create a new account.”

            But venmo/zelle is like taking a debit card right on the spot. Many banks have zelle built right into their bank apps.

            Paying via venmo/zelle later to is like saying, I forgot cash can I run the ATM get cash and come back to pay you. The owner agrees, but then the person does not come back until 4/5 hours later instead of coming right back.

            If you don’t want to pay with venmo/zelle then you need to have cash ready.

            1. callmeheavenly*

              I am an upper millennial whose background is computer science and accounting (which is only to say, neither particularly elderly nor technologically or financially illiterate), and I Will Not put banking or payment apps on my phone. A vendor has the absolute right only to accept cash or Venmo, but they’ll likely lose business.

              1. NoMoneyOnPhones*

                same, here, although gen X. I have worked in cutting edge tech for 30+ years and I will not put bank, financial, or medical apps on my phone or tablet. If you want paypay, zelle, etc you can get paid when I get home. If you want to get paid on the spot take my credit card.

      3. Relentlessly Socratic*

        It’s customary to pay for any service at the time of completion of the service. There are times when I need to pay a vendor for a condo-related issue (I hold the condo books) and we don’t have a credit card or a Venmo (hmm, that reminds me, I should set up Zelle for some of these guys), but I will have the service provider wait while I log into the bank account and initiate payment, so they know I’ve done it.

    4. kiki*

      It may be possible that the first two points may be what makes LW annoyed about the third. LW would be willing to deal with the first two points if they were being paid more for the service. So I think Alison’s advice to raise their rates for this client could make sense. I understand that it might seem clear from LW’s perspective that this client *should* be tipping, but it’s important to remember that clients don’t actually have a lot of insight into what is normal or expected for every industry.

    5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I wonder if the assumption that profits are better than tips is still true. Tips are 10-20% of the service charge and it’s hard to believe any small business owner is making more in profits. If she charges it up front, it makes her look more expensive than others.

      Giving the opportunity to tip is not the same as expecting a tip. Expecting people (especially those whose wages are on the low side) to give up additional income strikes me as unreasonable.

      1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

        I guess I can see the advantage if one isn’t planning to report tip income for taxes. It’s a lot easier to not report an extra $20 than a line item on an invoice.

  30. Percysowner*

    I agree that tipping a business owner isn’t required. That said, the other issues are well worth “firing” the customer for. If you don’t want that to be a first step, require payment in advance or at the time of service. Also charge a large amount for pick up after closing hours.

    LW2 If you have already been fired, you probably don’t have much of a case to appeal, although you can give it a go. From here on out, you probably want to stash alcohol in your trunk or in a cooler so that it simply can’t be seen.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      If other customers are tipping (which seems like the only reason the LW would mention it), then this customer pays her less than the others. Since we all work for pay, I think it’s fair to take that into consideration.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I totally get that logic – but on the other hand I have no idea what anyone else is tipping my hair stylist/dog groomer/morning barista. I think I tip well but I could be completely off base, and I would hate to be fired for it because the service provider couldn’t tell me due to social nicety.

        But the other stuff I feel like OP is downplaying to their own detriment. I’m sure there are worse clients, but those are all bad and disrespectful things well worth ending services for.

      2. K*

        Most of us don’t work for a wage that we ourselves are responsible for setting. That makes this situation different. OP makes it clear they have a full schedule of clients. They could raise prices and refuse tips if they wanted to.

    2. Ahnon4Thisss*

      I also was taught you don’t have to tip business owners, but I have a caveat. I’m willing to tip business owners that are doing ALL the work by themselves and have no employees under them. That’s a ton of work, and I’m sure they are undercharging for most of their services and not accounting for when they have to do business upkeep.

    3. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

      Another exception to not tipping a business owner is drivers. Your Uber/Lyft/Doordash driver is in effect an owner/operator of a commercial transport service and their income from fares/fees alone is rarely more than minimum wage after expenses. These taxi/limo/food delivery services have traditionally been tipped services in the US anyway so it’s not like tipping those folks is a new thing.

      I guess the confusion comes from services like OP’s where providers are as likely to be employees as they are business owners and clients can be confused about which they are or when tipping is appropriate.

      Confusion around tipping in this instance is inevitable. Unlike the drivers I mentioned, it’s not obvious that tipping is expected. That’s a reason to raise your rates high enough that you don’t need to rely on tips or turn away the clients who don’t tip.

      Constant lateness with pickup, lateness with payment, and insisting on bringing a dog you’ve already said you don’t feel comfortable working on? These are all good reasons to drop this client.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The individual Lyft/Uber/Doordash driver isn’t really an independent owner/operator: they don’t decide how much I’m going to pay for the service, and there’s no way for me to select a specific driver because I thought they did a particularly good job last time. (If I give a driver a low rating I shouldn’t be matched with them again, but there’s no way to distinguish between “this person did a fine job” and “this person did a really excellent job, I want to ride with them again.”)

  31. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    #1 – throw the question back!

    Boss: “How are you?”
    Me: “Hi Boss, how are you?” with a slight emphasis on the ‘you’

    Like Alison has said many times, this is a “hello fellow human being that I share space with, I recognize you” statement, not an actual inquiry into your mental and physical state.

  32. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

    LW 1: here’s an additional suggestion to Allison’s most excellent options. Pull a Matthew McConaughey and tell her “alright, alright, alright”.

  33. Ellis Bell*

    OP1, I think your boss is being incredibly ridiculous, but I find it kind of interesting that you never asked her what her concern was! I would really want to know what’s driving the urge to interrogate, but instead of asking her for an explanation, you offered up more explanations of YOUR (perfectly reasonable) actions. So, instead of saying things like “Maybe I am not enthusiastic enough in the mornings..” (which I don’t think presented you terribly well!) why not put her in the interviewing chair instead? Things like: “Why do you say that?”, or “Really, what makes you think I’m not good!?”, “Gosh that’s not true at all; *puzzled face* where did that idea come from?” This is a very polite way of getting the truth out about your own puzzlement. Maybe you did ask! Maybe this is a detail left out of your letter, but the answer to your “why do you ask” question will be the issue, (as well as the fact that she is questioning you at all, which again, is ridiculous) Do you have a boss who wants the customer service perma-smile? Do you have a faux-therapist boss? Do you have someone who just can’t bear to take the first routine answer in the style of Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle? I know that you supplied her answers to yourself by thinking it out as 1) You’re not peppy enough and 2) she’s absurd.. but you should still make her say her rationale out loud! It’s perfectly routine to say “Oh I am not sure I follow!… Seriously, what do you mean?” when people are being daft.

  34. felis*

    LW 1: I have recently read somewhere about a strategy to just answer to “How are you?” by stating what day of the week it is. “How are you?” – “Eh, it’s Tuesday” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ or “How are you?” – “It’s Friday! Yay!” are non-committal, hard to argue with and most people have their own feelings about that particular day of the week and will feel like they bonded with you.

  35. Pretty as a Princess*

    LW5: You can always just say thanks, or thanks & I appreciate it and never *need* to say more.

    But, I do think that when you receive positive feedback, sometimes you can use your response to help set the stage for future encounters. I like how you said that you will try to get feedback to help you improve even further and I love Allison’s response! Here are some things I have done in the past to try to help different objectives:

    – “Thanks – I appreciate the positive feedback!” (Reinforce that getting good feedback is important. I do this especially with newer managers, or with people who I don’t know well. )

    – “Thank you – this was new for me and I’m glad to hear that we hit the mark.” (Showing alignment with the manager’s needs/interpretations, letting them hear out loud that you are good at meeting their expectations.)

    – “Thanks – Joe and Martha were a great team and I’d be happy to have their support again.” (Spread the vibe, make sure that others get their due; set up future opportunities for junior staff or future collabs.)

    – “Thank you – this was challenging because [xyz] and I’m so proud of what we accomplished [metric/whatever].” (Specifically connect the praise to the business objective & reinforce in their mind that you are a successful Doer of Challenging Things.)

    – “Thanks, I really enjoyed working with you on this and I hope we get other opportunities in the future.” (Set the stage for future collaborations.)

  36. Clown Eradicator*

    I am often a sarcastic, snarky person but I also have a good relationship with my boss and grand boss so i would struggle with NOT saying “Could be better if you didn’t examine my mood every morning.”

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Oh yeah I would have shut this down at the first overreach but I am known to be a liiiiiittle blunt.

  37. Username required*

    OP2 should have been asked to clarify exactly what business they work in. If it’s a regular office location then firing might be over the top. However, as plenty of other posters have mentioned, if it’s a secure location, manufacturing job etc then firing makes much more sense. The chances that OP will nip out at lunchtime and have an alcoholic beverage may be slim to none but a manufacturing company may need that chance to be zero.

    1. Phony Genius*

      Location can also be important. Especially if this was in Utah, where laws and attitudes about alcohol are very different from the rest of the country.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I’m in Wisconsin, where you have to kill someone for your drunk driving to be taken seriously, and even here, with the manufacturing company I worked for, you could not have alcohol on company property. It was a fireable offense.

    2. HonorBox*

      And asked to clarify if the rule is outlined in the workplace’s handbook. It seems that yes, people don’t read every word of a handbook, but if it is a safety issue, you’d like to think that sort of rule is very explicit and very clear. The same as “you can’t walk onto the floor of the shop without eye protection or you can’t work the fryer without your hair covered.”

  38. Rachel*

    Zero tolerance for alcohol on campus is a liability issue in a lot of manufacturing and construction fields.

    I think sometimes this comments section can have a bit of a blind spot in the sense that most posters are office-dwelling white collar workers. This policy seems like a tyrannical overreach in these settings, but is industry standard a lot of other places.

    I don’t expect everybody to know this, but I also think maybe people can hold their fire on the issue. Zero tolerance might not be a dumb rule, especially if you are the person paying the insurance.

    1. spcepickle*

      Second this – I work construction, use to work at a nuclear power plant. No alcohol on-site is strictly enforced. They have a written policy that is covered regularly.

      Being fired for not following a basic / known policy is not overreach or inappropriate.

    2. Starbuck*

      Exactly. I was surprised at the surprise over this, but as you say, remembering that this is mostly a white collar crowd it makes a bit of sense. And of course companies have the right to prohibit just about anything on their own premises.

  39. Ex-prof*

    LW#3– She may have been taught, as I was, that one doesn’t tip the business owner, only employees.

    You could also institute a charge for late pickups; a sort of dog storage fee.

    1. Overit*

      Yes. That has been my understanding for 60+ years. You do not tip owners since they set the prices and pay themselves a fair wage.
      My father was a self employed plumber. Should people have tipped him?

      1. I'm just here for the cats!!*

        I think it is typical to tip groomers, similar that you would tip a hair stylist. But I agree that if you are the business owner you shouldn’t expect it and you certainly shouldn’t hold it against a client.

    2. Ticotac*

      I think the fact that the client doesn’t tip is the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. LW3 is saying, “they’re late on paying, late on picking up, generally annoying, and I don’t even get a tip for dealing with that.”

  40. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    Oh man, OP1, this sounds a lot like exchanges I would have with my previous boss. It especially drove me bonkers because she often interrupted me working (I was in a shared office and my desk was the only one directly visible from the door so anyone walking by saw me, and me alone) and I have a hard time making a quick switch from “focused working” to “convivial chatting.” My sympathies.

  41. Sanity Lost*

    My go-to reply for “How are you?” is “I’m behaving”.
    1) It usually gets a laugh
    2) It is always factual (even if I’m being naughty, I am in fact behaving (albeit behaving badly).
    3) I never have to lie about my health or otherwise well-being.

  42. i drink too much coffee*

    My mom always answers “How are you?” with an enthusiastic “Fantastic!!”

    Most of the time she just gets a laugh in response lol, it works.


      My husband likes to do this as well (fantastic/magnificent/spectacular/splendid/etc). He is typically a very quiet, reserved person, so it confuses people greatly.

  43. Champagne Cocktail*

    LW1–You mentioned you were a private person at work, so this might not be a solution for you, but I thought I’d throw it out.

    Years before Covid, I worked from home, then got a job in the office and was totally unused to people asking how I was every day. I got in the habit of saying something positive that wasn’t quite banal, but not deeply personal. “I’m good, my ball team won last night.” or some such.

    The downside of that is some people may take it for an invitation for a more in-depth conversation. Not all, though, especially first thing in the morning and if you keep walking.

    It may be your boss feels your desire for privacy reflects on them–that they’re not making you feel comfortable enough to share things with them.

    1. Satan’s Panties*

      I heard this about Tom Hanks. If someone asks how he’s doing, he says “Swingin’!” and keeps walking, or goes back to reading or whatever. Cheerful, but no conversational opening. Which is understandable, because so many people want a piece of him, plus he’s addicted to work!

    2. LW1 OP*

      I mentioned the private part for context that I ended up cutting out of my letter. I will (and have) told my boss about it things that are impacting my mood but I just don’t want to do it on the open floor when I’m sitting in my cubicle where sound travels. For example, last year I had a close friend pass away and I got the news right as I got to the office. I went to my boss’s office and closed the door behind me to tell her what happened and ask for PTO to go home (which was granted). So I guess that’s all to say even if I was doing poorly when she asked, I’m not about to broadcast my business to all my cubicle neighbors when answering what is (to me) a normal greeting not really meant to get at true feelings.

  44. Champagne Cocktail*

    I know someone who will sometimes respond with, “New liver, same eagles,” but that really can only be said to people who you know will laugh.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      On Murphy’s Law days, I’ve been known to answer “rounding second and heading for first.”

      I’ve also been known to pull out a Normism or two.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      Or at least will recognize the reference to Prometheus. Having to explain sucks the humor out of anything.

      I have to remember this one – you don’t mind if I steal it, do you?

  45. redflagday701*

    LW4: I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’ve heard couples therapists talk about “lie-inviting behavior” — like, if you freak out and scream at her every time you hear your wife was around her totally platonic co-worker Jim, you don’t get to blame her when she tells you Jim wasn’t at the company retreat (even though he really was). Your behavior has made the cost of telling the truth too high. Kinda the same deal when employers ask about things like Glassdoor reviews.

  46. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

    I recently got called “negative” by HR for a fair, constructive criticism type feedback I gave on a new hire survey (which was technically anonymous I think, but when there aren’t a lot of new hires…). The feedback I gave wasn’t even significant…
    This is literally something being held against me among a bunch of other gas-lighty type things over 4 months later.
    I don’t know if your company is the type that would even notice Glassdoor, but it’s concerning to me that you would think they might notice and ask. I’ve always been fine with honest feedback. I’m not overly paranoid that anonymous isn’t anonymous, and decided that even if I were sussed out (i.e. my first comment) that a company that doesn’t want to hear it, isn’t somewhere I want to be.
    (end rant)

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Yup. My (terrible) previous organization held stay interviews and the HR director conducting them assured us they were 100% confidential.

      TWO YEARS LATER when I turned in my notice and was asked why, I said that not getting promoted or compensated despite filling 2.5 positions, including creating and administering an entirely new program single-handedly, and had my one request for training turned down. My boss said “well two years ago in the stay interviews you said you were looking for new opportunities.”

      I do not participate in things like employee surveys, stay interviews, or providing “anonymous” feedback anymore.

    2. I may or may not be OP#4*

      This may or may not be the review in question:,19.htm

      (Expand the list of reviews and it should be obvious which one it is). And I may or may not have dragged the company president for about talking about CrossFit in his weekly emails.

      The review is long and ranty; unfortunately in the process of getting problems escalated by HR I may or may not have have sent similarly-ranty emails. And the HR department DID notice the review and responded to it.

      And I never respond to anonymous surveys either.

      1. Nancy*

        That sounds more like a review of the health insurance company, not the employer. And honestly, if they already know it was you and responded to the review on Glassdoor, I doubt they are going to ask you.

        1. Ahnon4Thisss*

          I agree. While I understand the frustration that healthcare can be, this all sounds like it is the insurance company, not the employer at all and there is only so much (if anything) they can do.

  47. Lainey L. L-C*

    Maybe I live in a bad area, but I would NEVER leave anything of any kind of value in the backseat/frontseat/floorboards where anyone walking by could look in and see it (even if they have to get close to look because of window tint.) That is begging for someone to break into your car to steal it. Everything goes into the trunk.

    You can debate whether or not the policy is stupid, but if its the company policy to not have any alcohol on the grounds or not to wear pink on Fridays or you will be fired, then, well, if you do it you can be fired. Cover it with a blanket or put it in the trunk.

  48. TallTeapot*

    “Luxuriating in the company’s abundance” just sent me…thanks for the morning laugh, Alison!!

  49. BellaStella*

    LW1: In my last job, every Friday we had a team meeting where we had to share feelings and the toxic positivity was such that on the Friday after a close friend died of breast cancer, the toxic boss said to me in front of others, ‘ well you knew she was going to die ‘ – she was a piece of work I must say. I left the job a couple months after that.

  50. Overit*

    Dog groomer:
    1. I suggest you immediately switch to payment on pick up for all clients. Period. No exceptions. (That is the norm for such services.)
    2. Make a written policy change that you charge $10/minute for late pick ups. Believe me, that works. Alternatively OR ALSO note in the writen policy that after 3 late pick ups, you will no longer be providing services to that client.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      And if they say they don’t have the money, what does OP3 do? Keep the dogs until they come back with payment and risk the police getting involved? How does that kind of policy normally work when people decide they don’t want to follow it (genuinely asking, as someone who has never owned a dog and therefore never needed a groomer)?

      1. Ahnon4Thisss*

        I’m guessing this may be location specific, but if they take the dog and don’t pay, it would be a theft of services and the owner could get the police involved on their end.

      2. Admin Lackey*

        Probably simplest simplest to use the unpaid late fees as a reason not to provide the service. “Sorry, we can’t book you in until you pay your outstanding late fees!”

  51. BlackLodge*

    Re: LW #1, my favorite response comes from Heidi N Closet: “How are you today? “Blessed and highly favored!”

    1. "Mommy" Hours? Really?*

      Popular among some Christians talking to other Christians. That’s the only time I would use this one.

  52. Lily Potter*

    LW2’s letter has a ring of “I knew it was company policy, but since I think it’s a dumb policy, I didn’t pay any attention to it. Is there some way I can tell the company that they are wrong for enforcing a rule that I knew about?”

    Companies are allowed to have “dumb” rules. You get to choose whether to follow them or to work somewhere else.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This is an unnecessarily harsh interpretation. LW says “And it wasn’t easily seen from the outside, you had to get very close because of the tint on my windows. So someone was looking very close to even see it.”

      Any company that polices what you have in your personal vehicle (other than weapons and firearms) is really overreaching, especially since it wasn’t readily visible. LW’s (former) company is being completely and utterly ridiculous.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!!*

        I agree that this is harsh. And it’s not clear if the OP knew about this policy or how clear it was. I could understand seeing a policy that says no alcohol on campus and thinking, yeah I wouldn’t bring booze into work. and not equalling it to mean that they couldn’t have an unopened package in their car.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          Hopefully in the future, they’re able to conceal personal items like this in the trunk away from prying eyes. Such an awful reason to fire someone.

      2. Lily Potter*

        I’d be shocked if the OP works for a run-of-the-mill office property. S/he almost certainly works for a company where alcohol has deadly consequences, as discussed above. Any company that has the time to be patrolling parking lots looking for alcohol, or even to follow up on reports of alcohol, in vehicles takes their policy very seriously. No rational company has the time to make alcohol in cars a priority unless it’s really, really important to them. And if it’s really, really important to them, they have communicated that fact to their employees and their employees know darned well that they shouldn’t have booze in their cars. It’s possible that this LW misunderstood the policy, but I have little doubt that they knew about it.

      3. Barry*

        Even weapons and firearms. Florida Statute has prohibited employers from banning weapons in private vehicles since 2008.

      4. Ellis Bell*

        If their insurance requires them to police the grounds for alcohol, and to ensure a presence-of-alcohol ban, rather than just a drinking ban, well of course they’re going to do it. It’s highly unlikely this is anyone’s idea of a fun treasure hunt.

      5. "Mommy" Hours? Really?*

        OP really doesn’t know someone was looking that hard. OP is assuming someone has it out for them.

        If only it mattered that company was being ridiculous. Dress codes, all kinds of things are ridiculous to some. Is it worth losing a job over?

        Ignorance of the law is no defense. Maybe the liquor policy was in the handbook or something.

      6. New Jack Karyn*

        It is very easy to not bring alcohol onto a dry campus. It is very easy to throw a jacket or blanket over the alcohol you have brought onto a dry campus.

        If LW was not made aware of the rule and the consequences for breaking it, that’s a problem. But if they did know, they had lots of ways to avoid being fired over it.

  53. I'm just here for the cats!!*

    There are a lot of comments about certain industries having requirements that there is no alcohol on the premises, but I think we can assume that the OP is not in one of those industries because they would know the reasoning behind it.

    That being said I find it very strict that your personal property was investigated like this. Someone had to go up to the window and peer in. This seems like an invasion of privacy. I might not be saying this clearly. But at what point does your personal property become subjective to your employer’s will? It’s not like this was found in a locker in the company’s break room. This was in the person’s locked car and somewhat concealed (dark tinted windows). What if it was covered with a blanket or in a box?
    This makes me think of the woman who got chewed out about having tampons in her car because it made her coworker uncomfortable.

    1. WellRed*

      I was reminded of the tampon letter too. I’m really surprised by the amount of comments that either overlooked or seem ok with someone peering into your car looking for reportable offenses. I also doubt the OP works at a nuclear reactor or anything like that.

    2. Lilo*

      Under US law, this is allowed. There’s on point case law and an NLRB decision that searches of employee cars are permitted, as long as there’s a clear policy. Here, even with tinted windows, as there was no entry into the car, this is even less ambiguous.

      Ethically you can debate this, but under US law, it’s permitted.

      1. Lilo*

        I should note some states have stricter laws, without knowing the exact jurisdiction, you can’t know for sure. But whether this even constituted a search is another question. If you can see something without opening the car, it’s generally considered plain view.

      2. I'm just here for the cats!!*

        I’m not saying it’s illegal. But there is legal and then there is moral/ treating your employees like people. There’s lots of stuff that is not illegal but doesn’t mean that its good for employees to do.

    3. Observer*

      This makes me think of the woman who got chewed out about having tampons in her car because it made her coworker uncomfortable.

      There are some fundamental differences between that scenario and this one.

      Here, the OP knows for sure that drinking on premises is forbidden. I can’t imagine any workplace where actually using tampons is forbidden. And in general, zero tolerance policies for alcohol are a thing, whether you think that they are sensible or not. That’s simply not possible with tampons and the like.

      In general, the tampons are about a nosy-body’s “discomfort” while alcohol policies can be far more rooted in reality (even when they go too far – if that’s the case here.)

        1. Starbuck*

          Right but it’s been explained in lots of comments in this thread that places that need to make sure there’s absolutely no drinking on site don’t just ban drinking, they ban all alcohol. So it may not matter at all that they weren’t drinking. Unfortunately, the LW just did not give us the relevant info we need to fully answer their question, and that’s on them.

  54. WestsideStory*

    #3 – tell them you’re fully booked, can’t accommodate them. You are wasting too much energy on a bad client. If they push back, suggest your local Petco (or a similar chain that does grooming) or suggest they ask their vet for a recommendation since Big Dog is so special.
    Self employed people who can’t say no wind up miserable. Don’t be that.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Well if standard responses to standard greetings get this kind of convoluted response you can’t blame them.

      Also it’s harmless, and people get bored.

      1. saskia*

        Of course, the OP’s boss is nuts and is breaking the social contract.

        But if I say “how’s it going” to some random person at work and I get a sarcastic answer, I’m going to be annoyed because I don’t actually care how they are as long as they’re reasonably fine and ready to work with me. But a deviation from the expected when it’s not warranted requires me to give a non-standard response, so now we’ve wasted time for no reason. It’s just so jarring to me to get a “well, I’m not dead yet” — like, ok?

        1. Michelle Smith*

          If you don’t care how they are, why ask? I’ve never understood this. If someone tells me “well, I’m not dead yet,” my response wouldn’t be anger or frustration or even slight annoyance. I appreciate more human responses in conversation with my coworkers rather than just a rote recitation of “fine and you?” Particularly with people I like and have a good relationship with (rather than a stranger or someone I have a weaker or more tangential relationship), I’m much more likely to answer the question “How are you?” honestly. So if you don’t actually care, I’d prefer you didn’t ask rather than me answer, jokingly or seriously, and you being secretly annoyed that I didn’t just lie and say I was fine.

          1. saskia*

            The thing is, it’s not a real question; it’s a formality. And I don’t typically even ask. When starting a meeting, I might start by thanking the person for coming, saying it’s nice to see them, I hope they had a good weekend, etc., and then moving on to the topic. But the reason people tend to ask this question (to be clear, not OP’s boss, who sounds awful) is that it’s usually seen as odd to just walk up to a person with no preamble and immediately launch into your topic.

            I also think OP’s boss will read way too much into a lot of these suggested sarcastic replies even worse than she is currently.

            1. aebhel*

              Yes, it’s a formality, but if you’re going to be actively annoyed by any response other than “Fine, thanks, and you? :)” then you should not ask the question at all.

        2. Elsewise*

          I had a coworker who always used to make comments like that whenever asked! “How are you?” “I’m not dead.” “How are you?” “I’m standing.” “How are you?” (dramatic sigh) “Well, I’m *here*.” *eyeroll* He got fired for making a (“joking”) bomb threat.

        3. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I’m guessing you don’t live in a high sarcasm culture. I hear nonstandard responses at least as often as rote ones.

          Also if that’s how you feel, why ask? You’re the one wasting time by initiating a ritual you don’t care about.

          1. Ahnon4Thisss*

            I don’t know. It’s a balance. TOO many sarcastic remarks (such as one every single time, or even every other time) when I ask would put me off and come off as extremely negative to me and I live in an area where sarcasm is basically second language to us. There’s a time and place.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Oh absolutely true. But to say it’s a waste of time overlooks the fact the whole thing is a waste of time. You really don’t have to respond other than continuing with whatever you were saying/doing.

            2. saskia*

              I agree with you, and for context, I work with an international team from multiple different countries. I’m pretty used to dealing with different quirks. It’s fine once in a while, but all the time is just too much.

          2. aebhel*

            Yeah, same. Where I live, “Not dead yet!” would be an extremely normal response to “How are you?”

    2. Lynn*

      What is your response to the letter writers manager?

      If you were the letter writer, what would your response be to their manager?

      1. Canned Platypus*

        I get that kind of query from people bc I am not a peppy person and evidently there is some kind of tone to my standard answer of “good.” My response to both your questions:

        Start with “I’m good, how are you?”
        On first push back, “No, I’m good.”
        On second push back, “Huh, I don’t know what’s giving you that impression. I’m good.”
        It has always stopped there.

  55. Ann O'Nemity*

    Regarding alcohol in the parking lot:

    I’ve worked in schools and government offices, and it’s common to have zero tolerance prohibitions on alcohol on grounds, even in private vehicles in the parking lot. I don’t want to wade into the arguments justifying the need for such policies. But I do want to point out that in all my prior experiences, it was made overwhelmingly clear to employees that we could not bring alcohol to work for any reason. It’s in the employee manual, it’s in the parking policy, it’s posted on signs in the parking lot! We all know the risks of violating the policy.

    So for the OP, I find it problematic if they are surprised that alcohol is prohibited. If an employer is going to have this kind of policy, they need to go above and beyond to communicate it, especially if termination is the consequence!

    1. Allonge*

      Yes, whether this is a very dangerous environment and this is one of the hundreds of safety measures or it’s 99% for optics, the rule needs to be crystal clear to everyone.

  56. LB33*

    I don’t know where you work, but unless it’s a drug or alcohol rehab facility, I don’t get the point behind the policy, and I agree it seems ridiculous. Even if it’s the rule, an immediate firing seems way over the top

    1. pally*

      The rules for visiting prison inmates (where my bro is) state that one cannot bring contraband into the prison, nor can one have contraband in the vehicles they drive to the prison.

        1. Starbuck*

          We don’t know that it’s a standard office though, unfortunately the LW did not tell us where they work so we can only guess! Not too helpful unfortunately.

    2. JustaTech*

      Manufacturing (of anything), which may include the non-manufacturing employees to have a single consistent rule for the entire site.

      Construction. Transportation providers. Schools.

      There are plenty of worksites where impairment can result in death, either of the impaired person or their coworkers. The risk is too great, even if the likelihood is low, so there are painfully strict rules. Usually, though, these rules are very clearly communicated.

  57. Not Mindy*

    LW3 –
    I think that you should be very direct with your client about the issues with pickup and payment. You should put together a policy that works for you and make it clearly known to your existing and new clients. That could be making people pay if they are late, or making a 3 strikes and you’re out policy.
    As for the tipping part, I agree with others who have said that as a business owner you shouldn’t expect to be tipped. Have a rate that you feel is fair for yourself and clearly state that you will not be accepting tips. I know that some people won’t accept that, but you absolutely shouldn’t hold it against someone who doesn’t tip.
    Lastly, I am not a legal expert in any way, shape, or form, but I would think that you can fire any client you want to! There could be repercussions, such as negative reviews, but sometimes it’s worth it.

  58. Lainey L. L-C*

    Interestingly enough, I just pulled out the policies handed to me my first day at work – a HUGE binder, and I had to sign saying I understood everything – that no alcohol is allowed at my workplace, and workplace includes the building, property, automobiles and parking areas and that violation of this is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

  59. stan for kahneman*

    #3 — If you charge for late pickups, make sure it’s a BIG charge. If it’s a moderate charge, it can backfire on you — now the person thinks, “Oh, it’s totally cool to pick Petunia up late as long as I’m willing to pay 10 bucks, I’ll do it every day now.” The book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ describes a psychological study where parents who were charged a modest fee for late pre-school pick-up ended up being MORE likely to pick up their kids late, because now they felt like it was OK to do as long as they paid a little extra.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That makes sense to me. I understand it’s meant as a disincentive, but once you start charging it kind of just becomes a service you offer.

    2. kiki*

      Yes! I think LW should also keep in mind that they can always waive the charge for first-time violations or for customers who are otherwise really great.

  60. me*

    Re: “How are you?”

    I taught English in China for several years. Starting at 3 years old, students are taught to respond to that question with “I’m fine thank you, and you?” As a teacher, I’d try to get them to respond differently to practice vocabulary, but this response has been very useful in my current, customer-facing role. An equivalent greeting in Chinese is “Have you eaten?” I have an Italian-American grandmother, and this question is very familiar to me.

    On the other hand, my friends who worked in Germany told me that “how are you” isn’t a polite greeting question but a question that you would consider and provide a genuine response to.

    1. Gyne*

      This is a good point. Every culture has its own socially lubricating greeting and parting phrases that aren’t meant to be taken literally. When I say goodbye at the end of a workday, I am not consciously wishing God to be with all of my coworkers. I’m saying the thing everyone in my culture says when we leave someone’s presence.

  61. Elsewise*

    Op1, have you tried replying with work-related responses? You could say “Oh, I’m good, just working on the Peterson report. I’ll have it for you this afternoon!” or “I’m actually a little stumped about what this number means on this spreadsheet, could you come take a look once you get settled?” Or even “Oh, I’ve got a lot of meetings today!”

  62. SnickersKat*

    LW1 I think it’s just me and my very tired morning self today, but did anyone else read Alison’s comment about being partly on fire and start calculating how much of a person must be on fire too go from good to fine to bad? Like 10% of my body on fire I may still be able to claim I’m fine, but by 20% I’m definitely bad? Does the calculation change if part of that 10% is my hair on fire instead of, say, my foot?

    Just me? Haha!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I am definitely the kind of person who might be partially on fire but still calculate myself as mostly-fine-could-be-worse haha

  63. LifeBeforeCorona*

    LW#2 I’d also be concerned that there is someone going around and peering into peoples’ cars and reporting their findings. It recalls the LW who got in trouble for having sanitary products in her car. Aside from security personnel who may have a legitimate reason to look into peoples’ cars, who does this?

    1. Observer*

      Aside from security personnel who may have a legitimate reason to look into peoples’ cars,

      There is nothing to say that it was not a security person who looked into the OP’s car. And if it’s someone with a law enforcement background (or someone who has watched too many crime shows), the tinted windows may have attracted their attention. Because tinted windows are considered a sign that all may not be well. And at least in NY, the windshield and front driver-side window also must be mostly clear, according to the DMV.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Tinted windows are common here even though there is a prohibition on very dark tints.. I dislike them because as a pedestrian I want to see that the driver is aware of my crossing the road. Security personnel checking cars, fine. Nosy co-worker not fine.