husband’s coworker is horrible to me, how do I tell my boss I can’t afford to live in our town, and more

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

1. My husband’s coworker is a jerk to me

At my husband’s company party, a colleague of his got quite drunk and started asking me really demeaning questions. I shut it down politely and quickly, and chalked it up to a one-off irritation. Yet every time I go into the office now, this person seems to come at me in some mean-spirited way.

My husband has been with his company for over 10 years and is otherwise quite happy there. The company has a strong retention rate in part because they love sponsoring events for the whole family, and they encourage family members to participate in fundraising or outreach campaigns- think “come in and help wrap presents for shelters,” etc. I’ve happily attended and been a part of these activities for a long time, and will often chat with his coworkers when I pick my husband up at the end of his day to go to dinner or a nearby show.

I am, however, now reluctant to go into the office, and events I was once looking forward to I am now dreading and will probably back out of.

I know the first question is “is your husband having an affair?” and I can say for certain that he is not, and I don’t feel threatened by this coworker in that way. I don’t know why they’ve decided to basically bully me, and I am really confused and saddened by it.

But this isn’t my workplace, and their behavior isn’t directed at anyone in the company. Is there anything I can do, or do I just resign myself to missing the party until my husband gets a new job?

There’s nothing you can do since you don’t work there, but there are potentially actions your husband can take. It depends on exactly what the coworker is saying to you, though. How subtle or flagrant is the rudeness? The closer it is to the “flagrant” end of the scale, the more standing your husband has to report it to someone (like his boss or HR); some companies have anti-bullying policies and even if those don’t explicitly apply to non-employees, his company would probably be unhappy to hear an employee is waging a campaign of hostility against an coworker’s spouse at work events. Otherwise, though, is your husband up for saying something to the coworker directly? Whether or not to do this depends on things like their seniority relative to each other and the workplace politics there, but in a lot of cases your husband could (and should) tell them they need to leave you alone at future work events.

2. How do I tell my boss I can’t afford to live in our town?

I live in a town that is considered a very trendy destination for outdoor sports like hiking and mountain biking. When we moved here 10 years ago, it was mostly locals and folks from the nearby major city who came to enjoy our beautiful town, but thanks to marketing, making several “Best Places” lists, and a lot of aggressive real estate development, our town is now filling up with high-priced condos. Real estate prices have skyrocketed, and rentals, when they are available at all, are triple what they were when we moved here. We were lucky to rent an affordable place eight years ago, with modest increases in rent each year. And now our luck has run out.

The house we live in is being sold and we will have to move. We have been looking like crazy for a new place but it is pretty much impossible. Our rent was $2,000 a month for three bedrooms for my husband, daughter and I, and we had a roommate to share costs. Now we can’t get even a one-bedroom at that price and three-bedroom units are going for $5,000. I am the only one employed in our house (husband is unable to work due to health issues, daughter is a student) and I am making $62,000 a year. The kicker? I work for our local municipal government. (We live in Canada.)

Right now I am able to work remotely two days a week. I do not want to quit my job! Especially since we are trying to find a new place to live and will most likely have to move a couple of hours away (other cities close by are just as expensive). My ideal would be to go entirely remote, with maybe a few on-site visits a couple of times a year, depending on where we end up. Most of my job can be done remotely (records management) and we recently hired a clerk who could take up the on-site work. How do I frame this to my boss? Can I just say that I can no longer to afford to live in our town but I’d like to keep my job? How do I make this sound like it’s not all about me? I’ve been here four years and am the lead on a large scale project that will last at least a few more years and am the only one in our department with the knowledge to implement the system I’m working on.

Yep, be straightforward about it: “I’ve been priced out by the increase in rents and I can’t afford to keep living here. I’ll most likely need to move, but I like my work and don’t want to leave it. Would you be open to me moving to full-time remote with occasional on-site visits, so that I’m able to both afford housing and stay in my job?”

If your boss isn’t already aware of the situation (which is unlikely), she needs to be.

Some municipal governments have residency rules where you need to live in the city/county you work for, but I’m guessing you’d know if that were the case (and if yours does, this is probably going to hit them in a big way pretty soon).

3. Our gift to a retiring manager was a pile of cash

When I joined my current employer, I joined a team of 15 people, with Bob as the boss. Half a year later, the group was split, and Bob went with the other half. So for the two years since the split, I haven’t reported to him, but I work closely with some of his team members.

Recently, Bob retired. The groups wanted to surprise him with a gift. I would have been okay with donating for a gifted item — like a comfy folding chair since he loves fishing, or a fine wine, something like that.

However, the gift organizer decided the gift should be cash. Just a wad of cash with a bow around it. And honestly, it irked me when they asked me to donate cash for someone who earned way more than me, and who owns a home, travels a lot, and is set up for a comfy retirement (Bob told us about his plans often.)

I managed to sneak out of donating. But should I have spoken up? The whole situation felt icky. What can I say if something similar comes up again?

A pile of a cash with a bow around it is really, uh, laying bare what gifting up sometimes is. And yes, it’s tacky!

Whether to speak up depends on how much capital you felt like spending and how much you think it would have taken to convince your coworkers to change course … but all else being equal, it would be a good thing to speak up about! Sample language: “I’d be willing to contribute to a gifted item like X or Y, but I don’t think we should give cash to people above us in the hierarchy, and I think it’ll make Bob uncomfortable too! How about doing X or Y instead?” Chances are good that at least some of your coworkers would agree with you; sometimes, though, it takes one person speaking up first for others to be willing to say something themselves.

4. Do I need to reply when my boss texts me after I have called in sick?

I work in a cafeteria in a hospital and called off work sick according to policy. I was surprised to get a text from my boss “reminding” me that she is checking attendance and asking if I know how many times I have missed work this year. She did not ask me why (although there has been a cold/flu virus going around our department). Is it okay for her to do that? I feel like she is trying to force me to come in without even knowing what my reason was for staying home. And do I need to answer her?

It’s only “okay” in the sense that it’s legal and there’s nothing preventing her from doing it, but it’s not actually okay; it’s a crappy thing to do and bad management. If she has concerns about how many days of work you’re missing, she should raise that with you when you’re back at work, not while you’re home sick.

You don’t need to respond until you’re back at work. Once you are, you should say, “Do you have concerns about the number of days off I’ve taken this year? As far as I know, I’m within our regular allotment.”

5. What’s up with this rejection?

I applied for an administrative assistant job with a big university. It was in a job newsletter and you had to apply through their website, so everything was normal. I interviewed in person where you had to drive downtown and find parking in a huge construction area. The interview was with five people, and they said it might take two weeks to go through the HR bureaucracy before they could say anything. Two weeks come and go, and I checked in each week with the director who was in the interview each week, who seemed to not have any new info.

Then I got an email that said in part, “Due to unforeseen circumstances, it has been determined that this position will not be filled as advertised. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.”

It was budget-approved, posted online, in-person interview with five people, and this is what they say? Not “While your qualifications were great, we went with someone who was a better fit” or something? I’ve never heard of an HR response like that before. Do you have an idea what might be going on?

It’s almost certainly exactly what they said: They’ve decided not to fill the position. It’s probably for budget reasons, but it could be a different kind of internal change too — a reshuffling, a hiring freeze, a decision to do something different with the role, all sorts of possibilities. It’s actually not that weird — it happens sometimes. They went through the whole process because they intended to hire, and then something changed and now they aren’t.

They were reasonably transparent — about the upshot, at least, which is the part that’s relevant to you — and that’s a good thing! There’s no reason for them to make up a cover story about hiring someone else when they didn’t.

{ 397 comments… read them below }

  1. Baron*

    #2: Alison’s advice is great, but I’m not sure if residency requirements are a thing in Canada. As a Canadian, I was very surprised to recently learn that there’s such a thing in the States. Definitely look into it, but I’d be surprised if any Canadian jurisdiction had them.

    1. Viki*

      At the very least all municipal employees are part of a union (in BC at least), and I would start looking there. There might be agreements in place.

      I do know that cities want people to live in the city they employ but there is usually some wiggle room. IE if you work for Mississauga, no one is going to be side-eying you if you live in Brampton, but will if you’re in Whitby.

      1. ooof*

        The examples you give are all in the same vague metro area (at least from my distance). If the LW has to move a couple of hours away, isn’t it moving from Mississauga/Brampton to London?

        1. Viki*

          I mean sort of? But Brampton to Mississauga could still be a 30 min commute.

          Mississauga to Whitby can be like an hour, hour and half.

          If OP is say London to Brampton, I do think it’s reasonable for the municipal government to say we can’t employ you, that’s too long of a commute and you’re not really part of the community we serve.

          1. Mangled Metaphor*

            The joys of having multiple cities around the world with the same name.
            My first Google result was localised and told me London to Brampton would take over 9 hours by train (Brampton, Cumbria – part of the Lake District – to London, the capital city).
            A more nuanced search tells me it’s closer to 2 hours by car.
            Is 2 hours really that unreasonable a commute? It might be personally, but I work with people (not in Canada, not government) who do this commute three times a week.

            1. Dovasary Balitang*

              Two hours plus potential traffic sounds like a waking nightmare. That’s adding at least four hours to your work day. For a person with any sort of non-work commitments or interests, that could be a dealbreaker.

              1. amoeba*

                Sure, but you could probably do it once or twice a week if you’re otherwise in HO – and if there’s a train, maybe even do some work on the train if the employer is flexible. I do have some friends who have similar models. (Although if you take the train, of course you have to add the way to and from the station to the commute, which is often quite a large part, depending on where you’re located…)

                1. Ticotac*

                  Taking VIA Rail twice a week every week for something as time-sensitive as work requires an amount of trust that I, personally, can’t imagine. Their arrival times are often less an estimate and more a fond wish.

              2. darsynia*

                This is true, but the LW in question is asking to move a few hours away and work fully remote with the option to come in a few times a year as necessary.

              3. Michelle Smith*

                I commuted 2 hours each way with potential train delays for 2 years for a job and was happy to do it because I liked my boss and felt fulfilled in the role. If it’s the difference between being employed and not homeless or the opposite, I’m sure OP will factor that into their decision about the commute.

            2. I should really pick a name*

              The thought a four hours on the 401 (main provincial highway) every day makes me shudder

              1. H3llifIknow*

                To me it is, too, but when I worked for a big govt contractor, the folks who worked in the DC metro area (to include Va) offices, almost ALL had 2 hour commutes, despite living within a 40 mile radius since the traffic was just soooo bad. I’m fully WFH now, but when I do have to go into MY local office, on a bad day my commute is 15 min. I can’t imagine doing longer than 30.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Yeah, but DC (and probably NYC and LA) are the ninth circle of traffic hell and shouldn’t be used as a gauge of what’s “normal” unless OP is also in a similarly awful Canadian metropolis (which it doesn’t sound like, from their description).

                  I live less than 20 miles from DC, and my commute is about an hour, unless metro is one fire. I wouldn’t do 395/495/66 on a regular basis for anything.

              2. Elitist Semicolon*

                Think of it in terms of work-hours, not distance-hours: if you’re commuting even 1 hour each way for a five-day work week, that’s an extra 10 hours per week that you’re devoting to work and (presumably) not being paid for. For a job that has, say, two weeks of vacation/year, that’s 500 hours/year that isn’t paid work time but isn’t exactly personal time, either. If you’re driving, like lots of people in rural areas/those with poor public transit, it’s not really time that you can use for other purposes.* Yes, many people have to do that as a function of where they work vs. where they live, but if it weren’t a necessity, how many of would voluntarily choose to? That’s, like, another 10 weeks’ worth of time you’re giving up to work and again, probably not being paid for.

                *Unless you can focus on podcasts/audiobooks/audio-based language apps without being distracted. At least on a bus or train, knitting or reading or other portable hobbies are possible.

              3. Ellie*

                It depends on where you live. I have over an hours commute each way and I can’t imagine doing much more than that regularly. But I know people who deal with 2 hours each way because they prefer to live in the country, and there just aren’t any decent employers closer than that.

                In this case, OP sounds highly valued, they may be willing for them to come in once a month or less. Either that, or they could pay them more, or offer some kind of rental allowance. Its worth raising.

            3. Viki*

              It’s also different regions. Mississauga/Brampton are part of the GTA. Whitby is in Durham (other side of Toronto) and London is in Southern Ontario and not part of Go really (the transit line that runs through a lot of the GTA and outer areas like Durham to get into Toronto)

              It’s really reasonable for a municipal government of all places to say we need you within x km of the municipality you work in.

              1. Caramel & Cheddar*

                Both Durham Region and Peel Region (where Brampton and Mississauga are) are considered to be part of the GTA, as are Halton and York regions.

              2. Dek*

                “It’s really reasonable for a municipal government of all places to say we need you within x km of the municipality you work in.”

                I mean, sure, but then it’s also reasonable to expect that they pay enough for that to be possible.

            4. Loux*

              They would most likely be taking Highway 401 which is infamous for how bad it is (I live in Ontario too, nowhere near the 401, but I do my best to avoid doing large stretches of it through the Greater Toronto Area anywhere near rush hour or even at most times of day). So, yes, that would actually probably be unreasonable!

              I think there is a train, but people tell me it’s not that great.

              401 traffic is… legendary, I’ll put it that way.

              1. Mill Miker*

                Last time I checked (which was admittedly ages ago), the train (when it’s running on time) gets into Toronto at something like 10am 1pm, and the trains back leave at 4pm and 8pm or something. Not great for commuting. They’re also very expensive, only available in the major cities that are along the main highway, and are only faster than driving because they don’t hit the slowdowns from construction on the 401 (they hit their own major delays fairly regularly though).

            5. not nice, don't care*

              It’s absolutely unreasonable. Your colleagues must have an unusually high tolerance for pouring life energy down the drain.

            6. Ticotac*

              If you sleep eight hours, work eight hours, then commute four hours (two going two coming back), you are left with four hours of personal time. That is absolutely unreasonable. If I’m commuting a total of four hours to go to work, then the commuting has to be considered part of the job and be paid accordingly.

              1. Nina*

                I’m in New Zealand (famously low tolerances for long commutes) and when a previous employer had staff living in [Major City Where HQ Was] travel an hour to [Middle of Nowhere Where Work Site Was] on a daily basis, the solution was to have them meet at HQ, clock in, carpool to the work site, work, carpool back, and clock out again back at HQ.

                So yes, a two-hour commute with no extra pay or recognition or lowering of workload sounds insane to me.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        I do not know the towns/cities Viki is talking about, but municiple government residency requirements are usually about living in the same place as the constituents you serve and not about being close commuting distance.

        You work for the munciple water and sewer, you use the water and sewer. You work for city hall, you live in the city and are impacted by their laws and policies. You are a police officer and live in the muncipality where you patrol.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          For you or anyone else who doesn’t know, Viki is talking about cities/town in Ontario, Canada. For reference, Mississauga and Brampton are next to each other. Both are suburbs just on the west side of Toronto. Whitby is a town east of Toronto, about a 90 km/56 mi drive from Mississauga (I imagine commuting times vary quite a bit depending on Toronto traffic). London, ON is considerable west of Toronto, about a 172 km/108 mi drive from Mississauga.

        2. Frickityfrack*

          Most municipalities I’m familiar with (which are, admittedly, limited to CO) only require residency for city council members (or town trustees, or whatever the local equivalent is) and city boards/commissions. Maybe occasionally the city manager or police, but I don’t know of anywhere that requires staff to live in the city.

          Honestly, I think it’s better that we don’t have to – the city I live in is currently having some serious issues with a couple of members of council, and if I worked there, I would feel extremely uncomfortable speaking up about it, even though it’s technically my right. Regardless of what anyone says about non-retaliation for things done in our personal time, I think most of my coworkers would be very reluctant to fully participate in politics if we lived here, too.

          1. Lydia*

            I’m not familiar with other states, but where I live, and specifically in the area of the state I live in, there is one major city with several smaller suburbs and cities around it, so the idea of having to live in the major city seems really weird. I work for city government and do not live where I work. The mayor does, and so do all the city councilors, but the city staff come from all over the area. In fact, that’s part of the issue with the many police departments in the area. A lot of us feel very strongly the officers should live where they work, and a lot of them don’t.

            1. ResidencyRequirementsAreReal*

              Boston requires people to live in Boston, full stop. Not Cambridge, not Brookline, not Newton, not *insert suburb or nearby town here*. Boston is currently the single most expensive place to live in the US (it periodically rotates with San Francisco and New York, although Boston’s been on top of the heap continuously for several years in a row at the moment). I honestly don’t know how anyone can afford to work for the city.

          2. Ann*

            NYC does require all city workers to live within the city, with a handful of exemptions. They also like to have the workers do several years without a new contract – so if you last long enough on your salary from five years ago, you might get a retroactive raise, but first you have to spend those five years living on a salary that’s not sustainable any more. Some people get “raises” by job hopping constantly, but it doesn’t work for everyone. The worst case I know of was a small and fairly specialized union that went without a new contract for 16 years. They could not job hop easily, so several city administrations in a row figured they can just ignore them.

        3. Decima Dewey*

          Philadelphia requires city workers to live in Philadelphia. No ifs, ands, or buts. If the city has reason to believe you’re living outside the city, an inspector may follow you home. Once it’s established that are not a city resident, you lose your job.

            1. ArtsNerd*

              In DC the residency requirements only kick in once you hit a certain level of leadership on the org charts, though I think being a current resident gives you a few points in the hiring process. I think that’s fair.

            2. ResidencyRequirementsAreReal*

              Boston doesn’t care and I have no idea how anyone affords it – it’s the most expensive place to live in the US.

            3. Anon in Canada*

              Or if your partner also works for a city government, but for another city in the same metro area?!?

        4. Itsa Me, Mario*

          Agreed, but in large metro areas that can be pretty complicated.

          It sounds like LW either isn’t in a large city, or would be relocating entirely outside the local area in a way that isn’t relevant to this wrinkle. So it’s a little irrelevant.

          But in my case – I live in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is both large in total distance covered, and also has a number of independent towns within the city limits of Los Angeles itself, which have their own local governments and local services. There are presumably a lot of people, for example, who live in Santa Monica but work for City of Los Angeles municipal services, and who thus do not use that water or power infrastructure, are not impacted by the policies of that city hall, etc. Or vice versa. Meanwhile, due to the overall size of the city of Los Angeles, there are also people who might be a 90 minute or 2 hour commute from their job at LA city hall or the LA department of water and power, but who do still use the services they administer as part of their job.

          In any event, it sounds like LW is looking at relocating hours away to a totally different metro area that would be entirely irrelevant to their current job. Which probably is something that deserves real consideration, beyond how long is too long to commute, or whether it’s important that the staff of the East Torkington Municpal Library all live within East Torkington city limits.

        5. Anon in Canada*

          Based on the description LW gives, I think British Columbia (somewhere north or east of Greater Vancouver) is more likely than Ontario.

      3. Csethiro Ceredin*

        The BC federal government is pretty flexible about remote work and living far from their office (depending on the role, of course). It’s definitely worth asking and also raising this as a concern, because there’s no way you’re the only one with that problem.

        1. Happy Camper*

          Yeah I was imagining Vancouver in the post. Like working for the bc gov and living in Langley? No big deal. When I lived there I had friends who worked downtown and lived in Abbotsford.

    2. Lime green Pacer*

      The only residency requirements in Canada that I am familiar with relate to the national parks, and they work in the reverse direction. You must be employed within the national park in order to be allowed to live there (“need to reside” rule). You might think this means there is a decent supply of housing for workers. Nope, not at all.

      1. Dana*

        I’m thinking the LW lives in Canmore and the major nearby city is Calgary. Can’t move to nearby Banff as the housing situation is just as bad as Canmore.

        1. LabSnep*

          I was thinking the same thing. While housing is bananapants here in the GTA and Southern Ontario, Canmore/Banff has gotten FruitSaladPants.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            Given the statement “We were lucky to rent an affordable place eight years ago, with modest increases in rent each year”, this is extremely unlikely to be Alberta, since AB doesn’t have any form of rent control, and rents on existing tenancies have been going up faster than that. This has to be British Columbia or Ontario (which have rent control), and the description of the town sounds more like it’s in BC.

        2. Kel*

          My theory was Prince Edward County and the major city is Toronto. Good to know this isn’t an isolated incident. Ugh.

          1. Admin Lackey*

            I was thinking one of the small towns around Ottawa that are rapidly being developed, so heartwarming that no one in this country can find affordable housing :/

            1. Loux*

              I feel like probably not because I don’t know of many tourist places around Ottawa where 3-bedrooms rent for $5,000 a month… I was thinking of maybe Blue Mountains or something near Barrie. I don’t live anywhere near Ottawa or the GTA but I go camping in eastern Ontario for about a week each year and I know there is still quite a bit of “affordable” housing there… still way too expensive, mind you, hence why I put affordable in quotes.

              PEC and the major nearby city being Kingston would also check out. However I don’t know many places in Ontario where a 3-bedroom apartment costs $5,000 a month to rent. I am thinking either mountains in Alberta or BC.

        3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          Hahah I was wondering about Squamish, near Vancouver. It’s so depression how many examples there are :(

        4. CanadianNarwhal*

          Canmore is what first came to mind for me as well. And they’re not much better off even moving to Calgary, since our rental situation is pretty bad here too.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            As I posted above, LW said their rent has been going up slowly, and only has to move because the building is being sold. This is unlikely to be Alberta, since it does not have rent control. Given that and the overall description, BC is more likely.

        5. The Pyrex Queen*

          Based on the description as an outdoors getaway, my mind immediately went to Banff/Canmore or Jasper because they are constantly in the news here (Calgary) about being unaffordable for the people who actually work there. The distance to the city isn’t bad but the traffic is.
          Finding housing on the west side of the city might be doable, but depends if there are residency rules, especially with municipal government. Rents here are getting stupid too.

    3. Megan*

      I’m Australian and that’s not a rule here! You can work for any local government area you want, no matter where you live :)

      1. Sheila*

        This isn’t totally true – if you work for a state government (or at least the one I work for), you have to reside in that state. It’s in our contracts.

        1. Ms. Vader*

          I’d say North Vancouver. I commute to NV from Cloverdale and it is literal hell! I hope her job is accommodating.

    4. bloop*

      #2 I have no advice to add, I’m just here for the dreadful Canadian housing market solidarity. :( At the very least there’s no way your boss isn’t aware of how bad things are and hopefully will be understanding. Good luck on your search!

      1. Kaiko*

        Also here for the solidarity. The Canadian housing market is among the most inflated in the world, and it has become an actual problem. We’re in the same situation and are just waiting with our breath held for our landlord to take the house back. Strongest possible good vibes to you, OP.

        1. Catalyst*

          I am also here for the solidarity. The housing market is out of control. I honestly don’t know how people are affording rent in my city right now. I am incredibly lucky and just moved in with my boyfriend who owns his house, but if I were looking for an apartment right now, I couldn’t afford the one I moved out of. It’s no wonder our homelessness numbers are rising so quickly. It makes me sad.

        2. LabSnep*

          I managed to zoop into an apartment during the covid rent drop and am still paying way too much, but I am effectively unable to ever move unless massive reforms are brought in.

          And I am almost sunshine list* in income. In a one bedroom apartment.

          *In Ontario, the government puts out a list of public sector employees by name who have made 100k or higher. IMO with inflation and stuff, they need to up that because it isn’t much sunshine when the median income to buy a house is over 300k.

        3. Loux*

          Yes!! Solidarity! I live in a city that went from low cost of living to… medium, if you compare it to all of the other cities. The average price of a house has nearly doubled since 2020 and rents have gone up at least 50%. I have friends who are nearly homeless or have been homeless for long stretches, it’s crazy!

          My landlord is selling my building and my neighbours and I are quite worried. Rents are so inflated here that if they start any renoviction crap I’m just going to move to the high cost of living city I’ve had my eye on for a while. I would rather be broke and pay, say, $1,800 a month living in Ottawa than $1,400 here where I live now…

      2. Jamjari*

        Yup, it’s dreadful. When you’re paying 1K for a bedroom in a house, something is very off kilter. But this is a reminder to get involved in your municipal government – not in the OP, working for it kind of way, but showing up at public hearings about housing, writing letters in support of new developments. So many people with stable housing don’t see the seriousness of the issue, and they’re very vocal about not building more housing. We need to counteract those voices, otherwise that’s all our councillors hear. I’m sure this doesn’t just apply to Canada either.

    5. Dovasary Balitang*

      Pre-covid, they definitely existed for municipal workers – but it was about accessibility, not jurisdiction. It’s complicated but my mother, who works as a councilor’s assistant in Ontario, has to remain within a certain distance of the city she works for at least a couple months out of the year.

    6. M2*

      I would like to add the question also says they hired a new clerk who can do the on site work. But is all the on site work actually the clerk job or would the OP be pushing some of their responsibilities on someone else in order to be able to work remotely? Something to think about.

      Hope you can find somewhere to live that you like. Good luck!

      1. amoeba*

        Could also be a possibility to swap some responsibilities if the clerk is fine? Take something else off their plate in exchange for them taking over (almost) all in-office work…

      2. LegoGirl*

        How are they going to hire someone as a clerk (I’m assuming this is probably entry level pay) who can afford to live there, if someone who is mid-high level pay can’t?

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          It’s entirely possible that the clerk is married to someone who is high-earning and can afford to live there. Or that they are living with their parents. Or that they have multiple roommates.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Or they’re insulated from it because they already own their house. Housing crises never hit everyone equally: if they did local and state governments would probably act much more quickly to alleviate them.

        2. HannahS*

          Oh, no, a clerk doesn’t necessarily mean entry level. The city clerk is one of the highest positions in a municipality, and even in mid-sized municipalities they make six figures. A clerk could mean “entry-level admin,” or if they’re using the term in the bureaucracy way, then that person would be making a lot.

        3. Chris too*

          If it’s the place many of us are thinking of, the clerk could have bought a house when they were still affordable.

    7. Angie S.*

      Canadian here. if you work for any level of the government, 99% there will be a residency requirement. Also, I’ve seen more and more Canadian jobs that ask for a candidate’s residency status. The employers do not want to become a sponsor to the candidate’s Immigrantion applications. There are a lot of people in the big cities now who are in the country with a temporary permit.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        There’s a difference between having to be a resident of the municipality and having the documentation to live in Canada, which is what you’re referring to.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Yeah and that’s definitely not a new requirement, I’ve seen it on job postings for decades now.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        That’s different – wanting someone who is legal to work in Canada and/or who has at least permanent resident status so the company doesn’t have to go through a process to prove that they NEED to provide a work visa is not the same thing.

        The situation the OP is talking about is a company’s policy that you live in the same state/province where they have current operations. This is usually about tax jurisdictions – eg. the company doesn’t want to be registered in multiple states in order to employee people all over the place. Of course, it can also be that the company wants to employ people who can reasonably come into the office on occasion, even if they are remote / hybrid.

        Sometimes this can even include a town residency requirement – eg. for local government employees.

        1. LJ*

          It’s not even a company. These are government jobs – totally normal for a government to want their employees to be citizens and such

    8. Colette*

      I know of a rural town (Saskatchewan) where you have to be a resident to work there – and they don’t consider the surrounding farms to be part of the town; you have to live in the town itself.

      1. Lydia*

        That’s incredibly obnoxious and sounds incredibly suspicious. Almost as if there’s a reason they want to keep the farming community from having influence on town policies.

      2. Anon in Canada*

        That’s wildly unreasonable, especially in a small town! There’s a myriad reasons why someone might want to live rural, or not in the town itself – the most obvious one being because their partner’s job makes it unfeasible for the couple to live in a particular location!

    9. afishal*

      I had to leave a job in Alberta that could (and had been) done remotely because of provincial residency requirements.

    10. Jen with one n*

      I work in Ottawa for the federal government, and have many coworkers who live in Quebec, and I’ve worked in Quebec as an Ontario resident. It’s only an issue when it comes to paying taxes, but I’ve been told that it all works out come tax time (it’s been years since I worked in QC, so I don’t remember all of the specifics).

      I also have coworkers who live in cities 1-2 hours away, and it’s only really impacting their requirements to come into the office.

      1. Ontariariario*

        It’s really easy for federal government employees who live in one province and work in the other. Their income tax deductions default to the province of employment and at tax time they fill it out with the values for the province of residence. So employees who work in Gatineau and live in Ottawa get a refund, whereas those who work in Ottawa and live in Gatineau have to pay more. They can avoid this problem by amending their income tax form to get the right provincial deductions.

    11. 5000 for a studio? no thanks.*

      some municipalities in canada do have this! I was looking at a job awhile ago that paid max 4000 a month after deductions, union fees, pension etc. It had a requirement to live in that specific municipality. The problem was that at the time it was one of the most expensive suburbs of GVA with rents well over 5k (if you could find anything) and most condos selling for 1.5 million for a basic studio.

      I actually contacted HR (because I had nothing to lose as that job would never work for me) and asked how they expected people to make that work, and they said they know rent is high but that’s not in their control. They expected people to have roommates or spouses or have their parents help out with housing, but it’s crucial they live in THAT municipality. It was so ridiculous.

    12. Glomarization, Esq.*

      They’re not. The leading case is Godbout v. Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 SCR 844. A municipal residency requirement was found to violate s. 7 (right to liberty) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and likely couldn’t be saved by s. 1. It also violated s. 5 of the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Oh – the answer! Replying for visibility, since this is a popular thread. Although in my experience, small town governments aren’t always on top of all of the case law, this would be helpful for OP to know!

      2. Ontariariario*

        I hoped the residency requirement wasn’t valid, but really nice to see the legal confirmation. Thank you!

      3. Anon in Canada*

        This decision was based on the Quebec Charter, not the Canadian Charter, so it would appear that it only applies to municipalities in Quebec.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          It’s based on both. I’ll put a link to CanLII in a comment. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that section 32 of the Canadian Charter encompasses all government entities. Therefore, the Court could test the residency requirement against s. 7. They found that the residency requirement infringed s. 7. Then it applied the residency requirement against the Québec Charter, and found that it infringed s. 5, too.

    13. PlainJane*

      I have so much sympathy for #2. I ended up priced out of a job I really loved in Boston because they have a residency requirement (not just in easy reach… you must live in city limits to work at the library!) and there’s no way the salary covers living on your own in Boston. After the third time having to scramble for a new roommate in seven years, I had to give up and move. Being on my own, that was easier for me than it will be for LW, who has to uproot a whole family. It’s an awful thing when jobs don’t pay their workers enough to live near their workplaces! This shouldn’t even have to be a legislated thing–it should sort itself out when companies start losing good employees because they don’t pay enough to get to work–but unfortunately, it isn’t, because people who don’t need to survive on a single income are almost always available to pick up the jobs. It’s terrible for those of us who don’t have the option of working cheaper.

    14. Lindsay*

      Also in Ontario if your rental property is being sold the landlord can’t evict you only the Ontario landlords tenant tribunal board if the LW is in Ontario they need to look at that asap.

  2. Peccy*

    Encouraging a sick person to go in to work to SERVE FOOD TO OTHERS is so irresponsible

    And then when you add that it is food service IN A HOSPITAL it’s just breathtaking. Even if its “just” the flu it doesn’t do any good to spread it around to doctors and nurses and support staff and leave the hospital short handed and it can be dangerous passing it on to pregnant folks and people who are already seriously ill and so on and so forth. Being able to take time off work when youre sick is a public health issue and your boss is a piece of work

    1. WS*

      Absolutely. OP should email their manager and nicely ask if there’s a problem with them taking sick days according to hospital policy when they’re sick. Is there something different they should be doing? Include the text in the email. People like this love to lean hard on their employees but they won’t commit to it where anyone else can find out.

      1. Mongrel*

        The problem is that the manager used a very passive-aggressive way to ensure there’s a weaselly exit.
        “Oh, no I wasn’t asking them to ignore the rules. Just making them aware that they’re getting a little short on sick days”

    2. Deborah*

      RIGHT?! OP, thank you for doing the responsible thing, and I’m so sorry you were given a hard time about it.

    3. Betty*

      Had the exact same thought. And honestly if there’s a way to make a confidential report to hospital administration or even the local paper, that feels like something to consider…

    4. darsynia*

      When I worked in a hospital on the oncology ward as a nursing assistant, they pushed back on my first absence in the job– my coworker had given me pinkeye. They told me I MUST come to work anyway. I did not, and took the conduct hit.

      I did not last long in that job, it was horrifying.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        …Should I be as concerned as I am that a coworker gave you pinkeye in an oncology ward? Not the only concerning part of your story, obviously. Glad you don’t work there anymore!

      2. PSU RN*

        Allison would have a year plus worth of content if she focused on healthcare workplaces. Working sick is a badge of honor and baseline expectation. Bees everywhere!

        1. Susan-shaped beehive*

          And my doctor’s office staff looks at me funny for masking. After reading this thread, never again will I go to a healthcare place unmasked!

          1. Alice*

            Read it and weep:

            Linsenmeyer, K., Mohr, D., Gupta, K., Doshi, S., Gifford, A., & Charness, M. (2023). Sickness presenteeism in healthcare workers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: An observational cohort study. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 1-4. doi:10.1017/ice.2023.47

        2. Lana Kane*

          The hospital where I work pays a lot of lip service to not coming to work sick, but in practice, staff are usually given a very hard time about it. Very normal in healthcare, unfortunately.

    5. Team PottyMouth*

      The food service industry could prevent the spread of an enormous percentage of illness if they would only pay sick days and provide health insurance.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Hear, hear. Its ridiculous that someone actually thought to write a message concerned about absences when someone works in food service. But that’s the way it goes.

        Sadly, I don’t think the admin of the hospital cares either. The bottom line is what matters.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Amen! I had to take five days off recently (ugh, Covid) and isolate and my boss’s only questions were how I felt and did I want to submit PTO or not (we use PTO for all absences.) I didn’t hear a word about how inconvenient it was for him. It would have been much MORE inconvenient for half his staff to come down with it!

      3. A nonny mouse*

        See, that would also require them to adequately staff as well. Most places run at as much of a skeleton crew as they can, so that even planned absences are hard to fill/cover. ‘S why they often want you to request off at least 2 weeks ahead of time.

        I do not miss the food service/retail industries. I’ve come to the viewpoint that they’re built on an inherently toxic model from the Employee/Employer side of things.

    6. MicroManagered*

      You don’t know from the letter that the manager is encouraging a sick person to go in to work to serve food.

      It sounds like there are some attendance issues going on, but whether that’s specific to OP4’s attendance or not is unclear. Either way, she’s obviously mishandling those attendance concerns and should discuss when OP4 returns to work… But it could just be that OP4 was the 4th call off that day and she had a moment of frustration. Nowhere does the letter say the manager encouraged anyone to serve food to others when sick.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        The solution though to manager not having those concerns is OP coming in sick. Manager didn’t ask why they were out, just raised the concern.

        Which raising it in a text while the person is out is really not the way to raise a performance issue.

        1. Lydia*

          Exactly my thought. You have that conversation when they return. And no matter how the manager meant it, it came across as an implication the person should come in sick. “Make sure you know how many times you’ve called out” with the unspoken part being “and next time you’re sick, maybe don’t call out.”

      2. Observer*

        You don’t know from the letter that the manager is encouraging a sick person to go in to work to serve food.

        Yes we do. That is *exactly* what this supervisor was doing.

        What we don’t know is *why*. But even if it’s because the OP is the 4th call out that day, and she’s frustrated and short staffed, she is still doing the wrong thing.

        Nowhere does the letter say the manager encouraged anyone to serve food to others when sick.

        This is a perfect example of what someone else mentioned up thread. Sure, the boss didn’t say the words “You must come in and handle food even though you are sick.” It’s more like “Oh, nice job you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”

        1. MicroManagered*

          Can you point to the words in the letter that say the manager texted OP to come in anyway even though she’s sick? This is rhetorical — you can’t because it’s not there.

          I’m sure you are aware that people sometimes call off sick when they are not… The fact that the manager asked “do you know how many times you’ve called off this year” makes me think there is SOME kind of attendance issue, whether with OP4 or others.

          It’s possible that there have been a lot of call-offs and this one HAPPENS to be someone who is really sick. But managers don’t typically ask do you know how many times you’ve called off from someone who has a good history of not abusing it.

      3. Fikly*

        If the manager’s intention wasn’t to encourage a sick person to come into work, the manager would have sent that message or had that conversation once the person was back at work, as is appropriate.

        Everything was done in a way to maximize pressure, but appear legal on the surface.

      4. MigraineMonth*

        Managers who encourage employees to violate policy (and common sense) because they were frustrated are still managing badly, though. When you’re in a position of power over people’s livelihoods, you need to either have emotional control or know when to step away to deal with them privately.

    7. i drink too much coffee*

      When I worked in a restaurant I called out sick with strep throat one time, and my manager gave me so much crap for it and bragged how many times she’d come into work with strep, flu, etc. I just told her you probably shouldn’t be doing that and then also bragging about it…

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Holy crapola! what customer doesn’t want their restaurant dinner with a nice side of strep?!?!

        1. i drink too much coffee*

          Right?! I actually quit that job because of her, was asked by the owner to return, and only did so when that specific manager moved away and no longer worked there. She was terrible!

    8. Purpleshark*

      Pretty sure Typhoid Mary was in food service! She infected many folks because she insisted on working and she was an asymptomatic carrier.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        She was! She got her start as a hired home cook (in a time when having household help like that was common for wealthy people) but later moved into regular food service… including at a hospital!

        1. Lydia*

          Even though her incarceration is DEFINITELY questionable, one of the reasons they felt they had to do it is because she refused to stop working serving food. While I know there’s a huge iceberg of social ills (poverty, limited options for women to work, lack of education), something tells me she could do other things that didn’t involve food.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            I did a quick skim of the Mary Mallone (Typhoid Mary’s actual name) Wikipedia page, and she worked in a laundry for a period of time after her first incarceration/quarantine. According to Wikipedia, she was paid $20/month at the laundry, so she quit and went back to being a cook, where she earned $50/month. Yes, there were non-food jobs available to her, but they didn’t pay as well. Makes the situation more understandable to me, though her actions were certainly immoral.

            1. Lydia*

              It’s no more understandable to me than being positive for COVID and showing up at work. It was handled very poorly (why not pay her a stipend so she didn’t have to work, for instance), but putting other people’s lives at risk is not just immoral.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      That letter made me so angry. Some people shouldn’t be working anywhere near healthcare and LW’s boss seems to be high on that list because WHAT THE HECK! If she knows that OP is sick and keeps doubling down, I’d be tempted to go up the chain with that. Just asking innocent questions to make sure I am clear on my workplace’s sick day policy so I can follow it correctly, that’s all :) with all communications from OP’s boss attached, like others suggested.

      Covid is back, by the way. Two of my friends got it for the first time and it knocked one out for the better part of two weeks. Does OP’s boss want to take those chances? having her subordinates come in with it and give it to someone who’s high-risk or is visiting a high-risk loved one? I probably don’t want to know the answer, to be honest.

      1. Kacihall*

        the other office of my employer is 90% out with covid. I’m covering some of their work.

        I hadn’t seen my boss this week, and figured they weren’t mixing the offices while so many people are out with covid from one office. She was here yesterday. so I’m fairly certain I’ve been exposed to covid because I know she doesn’t test unless the school requires it for her kids.

      2. Malarkey01*

        Well the majority of nurses (a lot of doctors too) work sick. Nurse coverage is a huge issue and calling in is usually heavily penalized.
        So escalating will probably get a big shrug.

    10. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Absolutely! There’s a big case in Calgary, Canada, where food servicer for daycares has given 225 people e. coli 0157:h7 (the worst one), and 22 people now have long term kidney damage, most of them under 5 years old. In this case it’s more likely in came in on food and proliferated due to bad food safety procedures, but it also could have come from a sick employee and spread into the food supply via bad hygiene. DON’T MAKE SICK PEOPLE COME TO WORK

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oh hey this reminded me of when my older son, then 3yo, came down with stomach aches, fever, and bloody diarrhea and it turned out to be dysentery. I’d only read of it in history books before! After daycare shutting down for quarantine, everyone being sent in for testing, his teacher telling me she’d tested positive and “THANKS A LOT” like it was my fault, it turned out that two of the women working in the kitchen were asymptomatic carriers. Serving generous helpings of dysentery to the entire daycare! Fun!

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I’m following that story and it’s scary as hell because I work in food services and everyone must have a Food Handlers Cerificate but it doesn’t help if one person knowingly skips corners because it’s faster.

        1. LabSnep*


          I work in a lab that does microbiology (not in Alberta) and we have been following this with MUCH horror.

          The whole thing is horrifying, sad, and PREVENTABLE.

          It’s the WORST E. coli too. 0157:H7 is no joke. Over 300 cases now.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      I agree! I do not want my food handled by a sick person!

      I’d bet this LW’s manager operates on bare-bones schedule and is constantly being unhappily “surprised” by people calling in sick, like it’s a series of one-offs from “lazy” workers who should just suck it up because it throws the entire shift off when they’re so selfish as to not want to prepare food when they have a temperature and are throwing up.

      Any manager who knows their stuff understands that the vast majority of employees don’t sick out for false reasons (of course it happens–everybody knows the person who has “flu” every Monday or whatever) and it’s a factor to be dealt with constantly. Treating illness as an unforeseen shock every single time someone calls in is time wasting and unprofessional.

    12. Double A*

      My daughter’s school is REALLY pushing attendance. She has been sick 3 times in the first month of school. I’ve kept her home probably less than I should have, but it’s been a lot still.

      Public school funding is tied to kids being at school. A kid is absent, for whatever reason, and the school does not get paid for that day. Still, after the pandemic, this is how it is.

    13. Blarg*

      Hospitals are, by far, the most ridiculous about sick leave of any place I’ve worked. I worked at a children’s hospital (aka a germ factory), where the handbook said you could plan to spend much of your first year there sick. ALSO, the policy was that if you called in sick for more than 3% of your hours over a quarter, you’d be written up. I worked 3-12 hour shifts/week. 3% of a quarter was 14 hours. So I’d be written up for the second call out in a quarter. Was fantastic.

    14. Don't Be Longsuffering*

      There actually isn’t anything in what OP has conveyed that says OP should work when sick. I read:
      stop using sick days unless you are really sick OR
      get healthier, you are sick too much OR
      I’m annoyed because your illness messed up my day
      There is no mention of working sick

  3. Pat*

    RE #4: It’s pretty crappy that OP’s boss basically threatened them (or was at least jerk-ish & uncompassionate) via text when they were out sick.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah, I used to have a coworker at a previous job (she was not my boss but resented that when I was out she had to sort mail and answer the phone) who if I was out sick would text me and demand “when are you going to be back” and a couple of times tried to insist that if I thought I was so sick I wouldn’t be back for a while it was *my* responsibility to hire a temp. That stopped after the time I reminded her that our boss would have to approve any temp hires so she’d have to tell the boss she couldn’t handle the tiny amount of coverage she was being asked to do (I didn’t say it like that but she got what I was implying). The demands that I tell her how long I’d be out didn’t stop but I just never responded to her until I returned to the office.

      But for years after I left that job every time I needed to take more than one sick day in a row I’d have anxiety attacks, even though no one at my new job ever said anything other than “take all the time you need.”

  4. Sue*

    #1 This is very much an issue between you and your husband. Where is he when she is being nasty towards you? Even if he was not a witness, he knows from you what is going on. Why is he not shutting this down? Even if she is his boss, I doubt there isn’t some recourse for HIM to take. If you’re sure he isn’t involved with her somehow, is he badmouthing you at work? I would assume there is something untoward happening if he isn’t outraged by this and taking immediate steps to put an end to it. I’m so sorry this is happening to you, it sounds miserable.

    1. Cloud Watching*

      I agree that if the husband isn’t stepping in, then it could be sensible for him to get much more actively involved. But if he _is_ being passive, there could be other reasons other than being involved with the co-worker. Having grown up with a quite passive family member, I can imagine… He’s wary of conflict… Or he is understandably afraid of becoming a target for toxic retaliation… Or he’s someone who desperately believes the best of everyone and is resistant to believing this is happening… Or he feels that sticking up for his wife could undermine her… Etc. These might not be helpful ideas on his part, but any could be in play.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      It’s possible he is outraged by it, but does not know how to deal with it and the coworker is ignoring his attempts to speak to them or playing innocent – “I didn’t intend to insult your spouse at all. I’m sorry if they misinterpreted by totally innocent greeting” and the husband isn’t sure if he has grounds to get HR or their boss involved or if the most he can do is continue asking the coworker to be polite. I sort of assumed the letter was asking if the company would do anything if the husband reported this.

      The fact that the LW said the husband is “otherwise” happy and asked if they have to put up with it until he finds a new job, sounds like he is angry and upset by this, to the point of considering changing jobs if they have no other recourse to stop it.

      If he isn’t working with the LW on this, then yeah, that would be worrying.

      1. Observer*

        If he isn’t working with the LW on this, then yeah, that would be worrying.

        Agreed. Even if he is not having an affair. And I absolutely do believe the OP about this.

        But it also seems like the OP’s husband is not happy about the situation.

    3. SweetCaroline*

      I had a similar-ish situation with someone in my spouse’s wider friend circle. This woman was careful to make her snide comments, discreetly try to push me over/trip me up, stare aggressively etc when my spouse wasn’t directly around. I eventually found out (spouse should have told me much earlier, IMO) that spouse and her had a brief fling months before he met me. The only reason this behavior stopped really was due to the pandemic lack of socializing. I would agree with Alison that LW’s husband needs to have a word or otherwise make the situation less horrible for LW.

      1. Nebula*

        Yeah my thoughts were that coworker is doing this when husband isn’t around to witness it. LW needs to talk to husband and make clear how bad this is, if they haven’t already, and then husband needs to stand up for them.

        1. Lydia*

          If this were happening to my husband, or it to me, and I hadn’t witnessed it, I would believe him. So, if the OP has spoken to her husband and he doesn’t believe her, there are bigger issues at play. If she has spoken to him and he doesn’t know how to deal with it, that’s a different conversation.

      2. Similar experience socially*

        Yes, me too. My male then-partner had a long-time woman friend and she disliked me, also a woman, being in his life. I never learned why exactly since I was always pleasant to her, she just seemed possessive. She was substantially older and they never had a romantic connection. We would see each other at gatherings over the years and when I mentioned that she would be friendly with everyone except me, he didn’t notice. There was a period when my partner and I were geographically separated, and he and this friend came to stay with me. In that context with just the three of us, her rudeness as a houseguest to me was obvious and he finally understood what I had been talking about.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Not throwing shade here, but I am amazed at how many people’s partners “don’t notice” someone being rude to their partner. Or don’t believe them.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            One of my past partners was like this. He worked in academia and lived in a small college town. Every last one of his friends was a college professor and I was not. He did not like hanging with my friends and we ended up spending almost all our time with his. Anytime I’d complain to him after a party about having been talked down to by yet another of his friends, he’d stare and make a comment about it all being in my head. Never believed me. It should’ve been my sign to get out, but I was recently out of a long marriage and new to dating and didn’t know any better. It was exhausting and felt like the one person that was supposed to have my back, didn’t.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              Ugh. I feel like Captain Awkward fielded a lot of questions from people about their partner’s friends/coworkers being awful and their partner somehow being oblivious or conveniently not noticing anything ever.

              I broke up with an otherwise nice person in part because we spent a lot of time with his friends, who were all his coworkers in this extremely niche area of tech and literally talked about NOTHING ELSE. After the umpteenth outing where I sat there while he and a coworker talked over my head about insider work baseball I was like, you know what? Nah.

            2. Observer*

              It was exhausting and felt like the one person that was supposed to have my back, didn’t.

              It felt that way because that was exactly what was going on. My sympathies. I’m glad that he’s “past”.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I think it’s at least workplace-bullying-adjacent and affects the husband – if everyone else’s plus ones can attend my work functions, but mine has to stay home because they’re being bullied by my teammate whenever they show their face, then it affects my being able to enjoy my work functions same as others do, for my family to bond with my coworkers’ families etc. I’d loop him in if I were LW.

      Not at work, but I was a target of this kind of bullying by someone in a friend group; my then-husband’s friend’s wife. I avoided her at parties, but she’d seek me out and keep making insulting comments; often when no one else was there to hear. It did make me dread our friend group parties and I was about to quit going to them (and told my husband as much). Problem resolved itself when she and I both started divorce proceedings with our husbands at the same time, don’t know about her but I was never invited to that group again which was A Very Good Thing. She actually messaged me once offering to join a support group for women going through a divorce and attend together HAHAHAHA NOPE. I did not reply and never saw or heard from her again.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Adding to this; my then-husband and this woman definitely were never involved romantically – he simply did not have the cheating gene in him and, his other many flaws as a husband notwithstanding, I could absolutely trust him to never cheat. And I think she thought herself to be out of his league, so to speak. However her husband flirted with everything that moved, myself included, so maybe that was what triggered the bullying? I did not like him and kept shutting down his advances, but you just never know.

        1. Susan-shaped beehive*

          Ah, yes. If her husband was flirting with you, a certain type of Mean Girl will try to reassert her dominance over you by bullying. Her husband was undermining her self-image of being the best, and she took it out on the wrong party.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing very hard. OP, you should definitely be civil but distant, and not engage. It sounds to me like the co-worker would like to cause trouble for your husband in the workplace. Why – who knows. Maybe the co-worker wants your husband to quit so she can get his job. Maybe she has a crush on him that is not reciprocated, and wants to drive a wedge between you. Maybe she’s just a nasty person who sees you as a person they can push around.

      In any event, you win by not letting the co-worker push you into responding, and by presenting a united front with your husband.

      I would expect that your husband is doing what he can about the situation – it would be legitimate for him to bring this up to HR or his manager (assuming that it’s not his manager doing this). I would expect that he would do so. If he’s not, I would take a close look at just what his relationship is with this person – but I would not accuse him of cheating without solid evidence. (I think it’s entirely possible that this person is simply trying to drive a wedge between you for their own ends – whether to make your husband unhappy generally or to cause you to think that he is cheating.)

      1. Artemesia*

        I agree, the correct response to her is a sort of smirking tolerance/veiled contempt. Very veiled. When she strikes you are mildly amused and feel a bit sorry for her. And absolutely don’t engage. Husband should engage so far as a ‘what the hell is that about’ when he observes it — but the OP needs to see her for the pathetic fool she is and not rise to the bait – or be discouraged from attending.

        1. knitcrazybooknut*

          I would personally go for the kill ’em with kindness approach, and if she dug in any deeper, to ask in a concerned voice, “Are you okay?”

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Or pretend she’s an alien you’re studying for research purposes. “Interesting, species X seems obsessed with status symbols. Is she trying to protect what she perceives as her territory?”

      2. LCH*

        or laugh really hard at everything she says and act delighted. then tell her she is so funny and tell other people they need to hear what she just said because it is so funny! have her repeat it! laugh and laugh. i’m picturing this in a very 1920s-30s ingenue sort of way.

    6. ina*

      The husband becoming guilty by association, when we don’t have any of these critical details that makes him into a ‘bad guy,’ is, saying it kindly, absurd.

      LW doesn’t mention if it happens in front of the husband. Nor does LW say they have spoken to their husband about it yet — they could just be fact finding right now before they speak to them. They could also be figuring out if they want to escalate this and make their husband’s job awkward, etc. Or working through their feelings so they can tell their husband and come up with a battle/protection plan.

      Suggesting he’s badmouthing his wife suddenly, after 10 years, doesn’t seem plausible — it would also be palpable with others since this type would try to poison everyone’s mind with this info. Is this coworker new? Do they have a crush on your husband? Are they going through a rough time in their marriage? Are they trying to keep you away so they become the work spouse (doing non work things like your charity events) and bridge that into a real affair?

      This is very much an issue between LW and that coworker, but they need to loop in the husband ASAP and decide their next step. LW should keep attending, but if husband does nothing then it would become a problem between them.

    7. Observer*

      I would assume there is something untoward happening if he isn’t outraged by this and taking immediate steps to put an end to it.

      That’s a jump.

      First question is, does the OP’s husband really know what is going on? Did he either see it or get a really clear description from the OP? It’s surprising how often this kind of stuff doesn’t get clearly communicated.

      Beyond that, it’s hard to know from the outside how much recourse their husband actually has. There are all sorts of possibilities here, so while I do think that it’s incumbent on their husband to try to do something, I can see a lot of possible reasons why he might be hesitating.

      I could also see a number of reasons that are not “affair”, but husband being a jerk or various stripes. But I would be very, very surprised if this coworker were acting this way because the OP’s husband bad-mouthed them in the office. It would be a really weird reaction on the part of the coworker. Even weirder than what they are already doing.

  5. Cmdrshprd*

    “I know the first question is “is your husband having an affair?””

    Actually no that is not the first question I had and it would be way down the list.

    I could see that being higher up if the coworker was someone of the gender/sex they are generally attracted to, and the comments were romantically/sexually suggestive. but even then it wouldn’t bey first/top few questions.

    first would probably be WTF is wrong with your coworker Chris, did I do something to upset them.

    are the an ahole to everyone or just me?

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, for some reason, the “affair” angle didn’t even occur to me until OP mentioned it.
      Possibly because the coworker’s behaviour seems downright bizarre although part of the reason it reads like that is probably because OP doesn’t really give any context regarding this coworker’s circumstances, like are they a new employee who had never met OP before or have they known each other for ages and suddenly this sprang up out of nowhere? What does “demeaning questions” and “come at me” mean exactly? Was there anything preceding this (change in?) behaviour at all?
      That being said, I’m not sure any of that would actually change the answer since yes, ultimately, it’s on the husband to do something about this either way.

      1. Sue*

        If the LW hadn’t brought it up, I would guarantee that it would have been raised here in the comments. The situation is strange and comments would be speculating about possible causes. Whatever is behind it, spouse needs to shut it down.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Lol, but everyone is still: “You said it isn’t an affair, but it’s absolutely an affair or past affair.”

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I think LW only brought it up in the letter in anticipation of the comments section speculating on that and trying to stave it off. So now instead we’re speculating on why they put that in. I’ve been an LW before and it really is impossible to guess what folks’ll latch onto.

        1. Susan-shaped beehive*

          Sorry you had that experience, fhqwhgads. I like Allison’s “take LWs at their word” policy, but it doesn’t altogether stop people from picking over their perceived possibilities anyway.

      3. Observer*

        Yeah, for some reason, the “affair” angle didn’t even occur to me until OP mentioned it.

        Yeah. But at least one person has *already* said that something IS going on. If the OP hadn’t said anything, I would be willing to bet that a lot of other people would have jumped in with that right away.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I would encourage OP to expect really supportive behaviour from their spouse here. They should expect that they are willing to tackle this and if not, why not? Aside from the affair disclaimer, that was the oddest part of this letter. If my partner was insulated as a guest at my company or vice versa, we would have had a discussion about it and the employee would have the greatest insight about the colleague and what to do about them. So my advice is to get their advice.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, I scrolled back up and reread to see if there was anything that would indicate an affair because going by the information given, I don’t see anything to suggest it even as a possibility. I would be more likely to think that the LW was part of some minority the coworker disliked (especially if this were a same sex relationship, which there is nothing to suggest but also nothing to say it is not) or that they dislike friends and family of coworkers coming in or most likely of all, that that is just how they behave when drunk or that the questions seemed like a hilarious joke when drunk but one sober, they were embarrassed at their behaviour and want to discourage them from being around because they feel the LW is likely judging them.

      I don’t even think the coworker fancying the husband would occur to me unless it were suggested and an affair certainly wouldn’t.

      Just to stress to the LW that people are unlikely to be thinking this. My guess is thought themself hilarious when drunk and now realises how much of a fool they made of themself and are awkward around the LW which leads to them behaving badly.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Yes, I was also wondering if LW1 is a from a different race or nationality. The “demeaning questions” angle made me think LW may be Asian or Latina and being treated as a foreigner even if she was born here. The more thorny one would be if the bullying is socioeconomic between two white people, the bully outranks her husband and sees LW1 as somehow “beneath” her. Such snobbery is wrong but not illegal.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Unfortunately, there’s nothing that indicates racism/xenophobia would be illegal in this instance either. Evidence of a pattern, perhaps, but businesses are only required to prevent their employees from being harassed (and possibly serve customers regardless of race/nationality).

          I don’t think “stop your employee from being racist in general” is a legal obligation, though neither do companies have to tolerate it.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      The OP mentioned the affair angle as a possibility because they most likely knew that the comments section would endlessly dissect that possibility and derail the discussion if they didn’t mention it upfront. This is not to completely discount the possibility that romantic rivalry or jealousy can be a factor in situations like these – it absolutely can! But bullies are often just sad, pathetic people who always need to have a target. Often it isn’t even a personal thing, just the need for a target. And we often forget that sometimes people are awful to other people for no real reason.

      I think it’s a natural human instinct for us to want to know WHY someone is being awful when we read about a situation like this, but the “why” is sometimes the least important part of it for the person on the receiving end, because they didn’t do anything except exist in the orbit of a bully.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      While it wouldn’t have been my first question, when I read that line I did think that yes, I could see it being raised in the comments that that was possible, or even just that coworker had a crush that wasn’t reciprocated. But based on the actual info in the letter there’s not anything there to indicate it.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Nope, my first questions were a out race, age, and sexuality. Then stay-at-home status. It reeks of the uncomfortable times I had when I was dating someone much older than me. His family and friends were delightful; some co-workers and spouses were definitely cold.

      (And a well after we broke up he got together with someone from work, so OP’s spouse may be more innocent than his co-workers’ intentions. )

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yeah, it would be more realistic to think that his coworker wants an affair, hubby is either oblivious to it or has refused advances, and now coworker is trying to attack the LW and the relationship to try to pry them apart.

        There may be an angle of jealousy here: “You have him, I want him, I’m going to be nasty to you until you go away from him so I can have him.” It’s not normal behavior, but adults with a crush are often emotionally irrational.

    7. amoeba*

      Until I read the comment, I somehow assumed the coworker was male and heterosexual and the husband as well (maybe because of the word jerk? It seems at least slightly gendered to me!) – so it didn’t actually occur to me at all. But yeah, I can see the question coming up otherwise.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        I had the same thought. I thought the coworker was male also.

        I don’t know what the coworker’s problem is, but your husband needs to step up. If he is unwilling, you need to explore that more. If its just because he is conflict avoidant, you might want to point out, its not really helping things on the home front to let this go on.

        I don’t know what the coworker’s deal is, but the reason behind it doesn’t matter, it needs to stop. Period.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I made the same assumption! I actually went back to re-read when I came to that to check if gender is stated (it’s not).

    8. Person from the Resume*

      I will agree that was nowhere near the top of my questions especially with the LW not mentioning gender and ages.

      If the LW is thinking affair/romance/crush maybe it’s because LW is getting those vibes from the coworker. Could just be coworker has a crush on husband and is jealous of spouse so is mean to spouse. Why doesn’t matter, though.

    9. Veruca*

      Maybe I’m just the big ol weirdo here, but it was the first thing I thought of! Either an affair or an unrequited crush.
      But that’s coming from experience. A lot of little, inexplicable things were signifying something I wasn’t willing to accept.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      It didn’t occur to me either until I read that part of OP’s letter, but I will admit to being naive and assuming the best of people even at my advanced age.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        My thought is OP may have meant that the first demeaning question the creep will ask her would be “Is your husband having an affair?”

    11. Sylvie*

      The letter writer said it because it would be the number one thing coming up in the comments otherwise – in fact, it’s probably going to come up anyway! It seems like any letter about a bullying coworker is full of comments like “do they have a crush on you???” or whatever.

  6. Megan*

    OP5 – that happened to me. I applied to a Senior role, got an interview, then went to ref checks (I know because my referees told me they’d been rung). Then, when I had anticipated they were going to make an offer, I got an email saying the position was hold on. Then a month later, I got an email saying the position doesn’t exist anymore. It sucks, but there is nothing you can do. Luckily for me, I had applied for 3 jobs including that one, and my number on job on my list was the one I ended up getting. I hope you find something soon.

    1. Aphrodite*

      This is sooooo common in higher education. It has nothing to do with you. It probably is the budget; they don’t have the money they thought they had or similar. And they think the duties can be spread out among already overworked employees.

      *says one of those overworked employees*

      1. tamarack etc.*

        Yes – higher ed budgeting decisions can turn on a dime, especially in the public sector, where budgets can be terribly political. Or if the administrative staff is already spread thin, someone with clout may have argued that a particularly understaffed function (in HR/payroll, say, or fiscal management) has reached critical proportions and needs to be addressed NOW – and the only available source of funding is already-approved new hires in other admin functions. I’ve never seen it happen at the “finalists interviews” stage, but it’s thinkable. Or of course Alison’s suggestions of a hiring freeze or a reshuffle are perfectly realistic.

        I’m pretty confident that the email OP5 received is reasonable transparent and not a euphemistic way of cloaking an individual rejection. (If it was a normal rejection, my institution would have sent a form letter saying, more or less, “our hiring cycle for position X has concluded – we regret to tell you you weren’t selected – all the best for the future”. )

      2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Yes, came here to say ‘sounds like higher ed’. I started managing a budget this year, and it has been a very interesting learning experience in this environment.

        1. Certaintroublemaker*

          Yup. You really see changes around the new fiscal year coming up and when they know how many students they have showing up for the academic year. Big impacts on departmental budgets.

      3. Lexi Lynn*

        And, it seems kinder than something more vague. Not getting a job that no longer exists can’t possibly be the job seeker’s fault. Its definitely them not you.

      4. e271828*

        My first reaction is that a grant fell through. It happens. Or someone reinterpreted some conditions to mean that support staff could not be paid from the XX account, only teaching assistants, or something like that.

        I do encourage LW to keep applying at the place, as they were a good enough candidate for an interview, another department or division might have more stable financing. Good luck, LW!

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Adding to the “this is almost certainly the real reason” consensus. This happened a little while ago in my company, they were so close to making an offer to the ‘successful’ candidate, and then it was pulled at the last minute due to an organisational shake-up and budgets.

      I would be pretty sure that the reason stated in the email to OP5 is legit, I wouldn’t expect them to go into detail of what the unfortunate circumstances are, especially if it is due to internal politics or the company struggling financially – too much like airing dirty laundry.

      1. Bee*

        In addition to this being a reasonably common occurrence, it would also be SUCH a weird lie to tell if they did actually hire someone that it makes more sense to take it at face value.

      2. Observer*

        would be pretty sure that the reason stated in the email to OP5 is legit, I wouldn’t expect them to go into detail of what the unfortunate circumstances are, especially if it is due to internal politics or the company struggling financially – too much like airing dirty laundry.

        Yes. This sounds about right. And there are a lot of things that can happen that you simply cannot plan for – or that HR might not even know about.

        I remember a few years ago in NYC a major NFP went bust. It was a major shock – it was a multi million dollar organization with major contract with government agencies and foundations. And no one, certainly not their staff even at fairly high levels, had any idea of the impending implosion. That’s obviously more extreme, but I’ve seen so many situations where plans have had to change pretty drastically on a dime.

    3. bamcheeks*

      I had the opposite of this— got a job (also in higher education!) which was a bit of a disaster with unclear expectations, line manager who didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing, job duties that didn’t quite match up to the grade, etc. I found out they’d nearly decided to cancel the whole role after interviewing but before making an offer, because interviewing had shown them they didn’t really know what they were looking for. After I left, they re-created the job description and advertised a new role a grade higher.

      1. We have a rule here if you order nachos to share one person can’t just eat the fully loaded ones*

        I got the other opposite of this and recently absorbed half of an admin position that was eliminated. Clearly no one understood what they were pitching when it was pitched.

        Cheers to being replaced at a higher grade, this has happened to me at every job I’ve had since college and I’m never sure if I should be more proud or insulted.

      2. Jane Castle*

        Thanks everyone. I’m the one who submitted #5. This is what I thought it must be, like the budget changed or internal upheaval, etc. The kicker is after I got the email from the usual “no-reply@hr” email, they re-posted the same exact job that day I got the email. The only thing I can tell is the advertised salary might have gone up a bit, so I just went ahead and re-applied. I’ve worked for a large university before and when we posted a job and interviewed three people, one of them got it since it always took so long.

        As Aphrodite says above “*says one of those overworked employees*” It’s a new position as the department is rapidly growing, so I can see higher ups not caring how taxing it is for the current employees who want/need someone in ASAP to help. Like “the department has gotten along fine without an assistant this far, what’s another month or two?”

        1. MigraineMonth*

          They reposted the job with a minor change? That’s really frustrating! If there were no charges is might be a case of automatic re-posting, but that sounds unlikely.

        2. AngryOctopus*

          They may have reposted only with a higher salary, but that approval or change likely had to go through a few layers of people to become reality. And it sucks that they dropped everyone in the interview process, but it’s also likely they had no idea when the new job would be ready for prime time, so they didn’t feel they could string everyone along (and it’s possible the job is at a slightly higher level, thus the new salary, so they had 5 candidates interviewing but 4 of them wouldn’t be qualified for the new level, so they’re just starting the candidate pool over). Still not super surprising for academia!

    4. Knope Knope Knope*

      I don’t work in higher Ed, but this is really common in the corporate world too. When our company announced layoffs we had like 8 open roles we were hiring for that we put on freeze to avoid paying off existing staff.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup. I’ve had that once after applying (so, before the first interview) – and I’ve applied for other positions at the same company before, where they did give the generic “we went with somebody else”. So pretty sure they didn’t lie! My boyfriend had the same once.

        And then it actually happened to me twice that a hiring freeze was announced during the hiring process – for both of those cases I was the top candidate, and they told me that. One of those jobs is my current job because they actually asked whether they could stay in touch, and some months later, when they were finally allowed to hire, I was still available. The second one is currently ongoing, so let’s see if it turns out the same way!

        I’ve also seen this from the employer side, if there’s a company-wide hiring freeze (sadly quite common in our field), they really don’t care whether a position was already approved and the interviews started – you have to cancel.

    5. Cat Tree*

      Back during the Great Recession in 2011, one of my friends actually got a job offer and accepted that offer, but the position was cut before his start date. He was affected by mass layoffs before even starting. It happens.

    6. Ally*

      I have done this myself multiple times – plans just change sometimes, the project changes, funding changes … I wouldn’t read anything else into it.

    7. Peon*

      I’ve seen this happen a few times at the Big University where I work. Things I’ve seen happen: they decided to merge to small departments and are going to make one admin support both. They had someone with a 50% appointment ask to go 100%. The position was being funded as part of a grant and they lost the grant (also happens when it’s not a direct causation because losing a grant is a domino affect). The hiring process took so long the requirements shifted and now they need to rewrite the posting and start over. They got part way into the process and realized no one was meeting their metrics -we score people to try to keep it impartial and we’ll bring in people who was assume will meet them based on resume/letter and then find out they don’t. Sometimes we find out we wrote the metrics stupidly for the position and have to revise, sometimes we find out HR did something stupid with the job posting.

      1. Shandra*

        About stupid metrics – someone posted here a while back they had to start a new candidate search, with a revised job description and at a lower salary. During the initial interview process, they realized that the former employee had wildly overinflated the duties and requirements of the job.

        1. Peon*

          We kinda had the opposite of that happen too; we had a guy retire and had to hire 3 different people to replace him. Partly because he was so efficient, but also because he was so skilled in what today at most larger organizations are 3 entirely separate IT roles. He made it look easy.

    8. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

      I once set up an interview, and when I arrived, the hiring person apologetically told me they weren’t sure if the position existed anymore. We went ahead with the interview anyway since I was there, and it was an interesting conversation. Not sure whatever happened- I didn’t hear back either way, but tbh probably wouldn’t have taken the job due to distance and a few other factors. I do suspect the position was cut after all, too.

    9. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, there’s no reason not to take it at face value – it happens! Budgets get cut, hiring freezes happen – I was a strong contender for a university job back about 15 years ago and then they got word of a hiring freeze. It worked out, I found something better, but yeah, these things are unfortunately normal.

    10. ferrina*

      I was on the hiring end of this- I got budget approval for two new roles, posted the position and began reviewing candidates. Suddenly my VP told me to pause all interviews for Role B- according to her it was just for a couple weeks. A couple weeks turned into “hold indefinitely, but leave the job posting open.” It turns out there was political drama in the background- my VP was gunning for the CEO’s job and had gotten initial approval for the roles, but the CEO started to figure out that the VP was undermining her and started freezing any expansion to the VP’s teams were working on.
      The role eventually evaporated, and we never told the candidates anything. I felt so bad for all the people who had wasted time applying to a job that wasn’t there.

    11. Hanani*

      Agreed that a position suddenly being cancelled is super normal. I’ve even seen it happen a couple of times with faculty jobs (at smaller universities). Nothing to read into it, LW #5.

    12. Ama*

      I think I say this every time we have a question like this here, but years ago my department at a nonprofit was planning to hire a new position created by our department head. We had put up the job post and we had started scheduling interviews with the strongest candidates. Then the department head had a sudden, extremely serious health crisis — we initially just put things on hold, but when it became clear she was looking at months of medical leave we let all the candidates know that we were canceling the posting. I don’t quite remember the wording of that email, but I suspect it was very similar to the one the OP received.

      The department head did recover, but decided to take a job that would give her a shorter commute, and her replacement didn’t think the position was needed so we actually never reopened it.

    13. learnedthehardway*

      I had to put a whole raft of candidates on hold in the early spring due to a hiring freeze. Very frustrating for everyone involved. Some roles resumed a few months later. Others were cancelled.

      It’s not uncommon for this sort of thing to happen. As the OP, I would be disappointed but would appreciate that they are transparent about the situation.

    14. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Adding to the “yes, it’s not BS and it is the real reason” chours. :) It’s a real thing everywhere, budgets change, positions reshuffle, things come up that divert funds, etc. As others have said it is more common in some spaces like higher ed, and I’ll add not-for/non-profits to that list as well. Both share the fact that there usually isn’t a surplus of funds to play with, so yes, something going haywire like a system needing replaced can have an impact like not being able to hire for an open position.

    15. I Have RBF*

      Yeah, having worked at a private university (endowment funded) I can say from experience that they go on belt-tightening sprees if the market does even a little hiccup. When they do that, they have hiring freezes and will absolutely yank everything up until the person starts, and if they are doing layoffs the last hired are often first fired.

    16. Candi*

      I’ve hit “on hold”, “doesn’t exist anymore”, or “no budget” at least once a month since graduating in March and job hunting. It’s a thing. Although I bet it hurts quite a bit at the “almost there” stage than the “first answer back” stage.

  7. John Smith*

    Re #1. I’m surprised at the advice that there’s nothing the LW can do herself. Is it purely because her husband works there? I’d have thought a non-employee has every right to complain about the behaviour of an employee (though of course the employer may choose to take no action). I know this probably isn’t the case here, but in the UK, public sector workers are supposed to abide by principals of good conduct (not that you’d think this looking at our Government) and a complaint of this nature would more than likely be investigated or at least the person spoken to.

    1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      A member of the public could but as an employee spouse a formal complaint would create all kinds of issues.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I agree, but I understand LW’s confusion here. The two obvious channels for a complaint are a) as a member of the public who encounters the staff member in the execution of their role or b) as another employee who encounters them in the workplace or in a work setting. The normal and obvious channel for this particular complaint is for it to come from or be facilitated by LW’s husband through the employee route. If he is declining to be involved, I can see why that feels like a dead end for LW.

    3. Knope Knope Knope*

      There are no particular laws dating public sector workers need to show good conduct or anything like that here in the US. Individual companies may have codes of conduct, and rudeness may or may not be covered even if there is. So being rude, which this seems to amount to, would be a weird thing for someone to call a company about. I can’t say whether or not the company would take it seriously, but it would certainly undermine the husband who knows the culture and the company who would have the standing and a higher bar for bringing the behavior up to HR/his manager if it’s egregious and could be handling it as an interpersonal relationship with the employee if it’s not. I’m curious exactly what the coworker said.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      It’s sort of possible that OP could do this, especially in her role as volunteer and if there’s an upcoming event when they want all hands on deck. If OP has a different name to their spouse/is another face in the crowd, that also helps her do this under her own steam. If however OP is well known to be Bob’s wife, there’s no way to do this without implicating Bob, so Bob should probably probably have some input. Also, when your spouse has the lay of the land, why wouldn’t you use that insight and knowledge and let them handle it for you?

    5. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t see anything in the first letter to suggest the husband works for the public sector. The word “company” and the fact that the company hosts events that employees’ family members are invited to suggests a private, for-profit company to me.

      The husband tackling this issue is more likely to be successful than the LW raising it, because the company has an existing, formal relationship with the husband (of employer/employee) and no official relationship with the LW, so the company has more of an incentive to address issues raised by the husband (their employee) than issues raised by the LW.

    6. ferrina*

      I wouldn’t make a formal complaint, but what about an informal complaint?

      LW’s been doing this event for years- they might be friendly with other coworkers (or know about a friendly coworker through husband). Can LW ask one of the friendly coworkers what’s up with Meanypants? LW might learn that Meanypants is like this with everyone, or it might turn out to be targeted. Then the friendly co-worker can be on the lookout for weird behavior from Meanypants, or even be designated as someone LW can go hang out with if Meanypants starts targeting LW (so LW can walk away and go hang out with someone friendly- the classic “oh, I see So-And-So, excuse me” and walk away)

    7. MsM*

      Yeah, I’m not entirely sure why OP can’t pipe up and say something along the lines of “Jane, this feels like an oddly aggressive line of questioning/response, and I’m not sure where it’s coming from. Is there something we need to discuss?” Is it just because OP doesn’t have the power to enforce better behavior if Jane insists it’s nothing? And if so, is there a volunteer coordinator or organizer OP can talk to if her husband doesn’t feel comfortable speaking up for whatever reason (although I agree that he should)?

      1. SarahKay*

        It sounds like OP has done exactly that, but husband’s co-worker continues to try and attack. That gets very tiring, and in OP’s place I would absolutely start to feel like it was easier just not to attend.

  8. Decidedly Me*

    For 3 – I agree that cash with a bow is tacky, but if gifting up is the concern – I don’t really see a difference between giving $10 to be put towards a gifted item or $10 that’s going to be given as part of a larger cash pool. In both cases, you’re giving over your money to go towards someone making more than you.

    1. Mister_L*

      Unless it’s some insider joke, cash with a bow has to be one of the ultimate “we’re supposed to care but we really can’t be bothered to” gifts.
      I don’t know why, but for some reason it sounds even worse than gift cards to me.

      1. Here's to Cash*

        As someone who is ‘hard to buy for’, I wanna stick up for cash presents. I think they’re quite thoughtful, because they allow me to buy something I’ll use.

        I have about 6 gift cards at various stages of having-been-spent from over the past couple years, and I lost out on one because it went out of date before I could find anything I wanted there and I failed to renew it on time. Gift card admin is a thing in itself, ugh. I mean, I’m grateful for the gift and it IS the thought that counts, but cash… Here’s to cash!

        1. Mister_L*

          Usually I prefer cash over gift cards myself. I guess my problem in this case it comes across as if someone shouted: “We need a present, quick, everybody empty your pockets, I’ll grab what could pass as a present and wrap it with a bow.”

        2. amoeba*

          I used to like cash gifts back when I was a broke (grad) student – but people in my industry are typically really well paid, and a retiring senior manager would very clearly be so well off that any cash gift that would be reasonable for the occasion would be absolute peanuts for them! For me, cash gifts always have an element of “here, let me help you out, I know you need it”.
          A gift card for a shop I actually like (books, for me!) is something else because it’s actually a great occasion to shop something “useless” for myself instead of just being added to the normal household budget like cash would be.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Another vote for cash or gift card presents – Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, when I was leaving my job to go on mat leave with my youngest, the team took up a collection to get me a gift. They asked what I wanted and I said a large handbag, as the one I used to have had finally succumbed to years of heavy use and I wanted a replacement (Back then I liked the kind of bags that they call a messenger bag now – they didn’t have a name then.) The team gave the cash to one of the guys and gave him a day off to go to the nearby major city and buy me a handbag. He returned with an enormous duffel bag. I thanked everyone profusely and used the bag as a carryon, weekend bag etc for years whenever I traveled, even packed it to take to the hospital with me when I had my son two weeks later, but it was not remotely close to what I asked for.

          As a cash gift recipient, I’d be sure to send a thank-you note with a description of what I got myself with the cash, and would consider that item my gift from my coworkers. Hopefully Bob will do the same!

        4. fhqwhgads*

          Cash gifts are great in generally. In a work context where the gift from individuals rather than the company itself is a sort of squishy thing to do, it’s a bad idea.

      2. Cat Tree*

        It’s a chore disguised as a gift. Instead of giving him something thoughtful, they’re telling him to go through the effort of choosing and buying something but they want to get credit for it without much effort. It sounds like the boss is financially secure and the cash won’t really make a difference for him either way. And speaking of, the cash makes it even more of a chore because if he wants to order a gift online he has the extra step of depositing the cash first.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Money is fungible: there’s no need to deposit it to buy something online. He can just put those bills in his wallet and buy something for the same amount with money already in his account and pretend it’s the gifted money. Because there’s no meaningful difference with it actually physically being the gifted money (which it wouldn’t be once deposited anyway).

          It’s what makes cash convenient, but also feel weird as a gift.

      3. LifeBeforeCorona*

        It depends on the presentation. I give my grandkids cash but it’s always brand new bills enclosed in a card. A friend once had her boss pull a crumbled twenty dollar bill from his pocket and hand it to her as a Christmas gift. It comes down to “it’s the thought that counts.”

      4. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

        Exactly this. A gift requires at least one person to put some thought and effort into considering the recipient as a person to find something that would specifically appeal to that person.

        With giving gifts, the cliche is true; it is, in fact, the thought that counts. This took no thought at all.

        It says “this is what we would have spent if we cared enough to give you something, but we don’t. So here’s money you don’t need, collected from people who earn much less than you. Go buy yourself something nice because we can’t be bothered.”

      5. EC*

        I disagree, cash is the best present. The recipient can turn it into whatever they want rather than getting stuck with something they may or may not like. Cash should be the standard present unless you know the other person extremely well. We need to get over this idea that giving cash is “tacky”, that’s nonsense.

    2. Mangled Metaphor*

      I think the tackiness aspect comes in when it’s cash rather than a gift because a gift could / should be something they wouldn’t otherwise have bought for themselves and is a specific reminder of the people who bought it for you.
      Cash says “we already give you money, now we’ve asked the people below you on the ladder to do the same, here’s an anonymous”gift” you’ll forget in three months time” (not forget they have money, just forget who gave them the cash and the context.) An extra $200 gift is nice, but once it’s in my bank account and mingling with the other $2000, am I really going to remember the source?

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. I mean in the companies I’ve worked in we’ve usually given a gift voucher which is money but in a form that says we’ve thought about the person and want them to have something to remember us by. We usually go for either M&S or John Lewis to make sure it’s something with a range of options. This is unless someone has a really clear hobby or likes something specific. So for the chap who was retiring and had a plan to renovate a property, we got B&Q vouchers.

        So I got a new coffee machine with the last voucher I got and I think of the good times in that job often when I make my cappuccino.

        Giving someone the money itself says “tacky” and “thoughtless” to me in a way that a gift voucher doesn’t.

    3. Immortal for a limited time*

      It’s tacky because (a) the guy doesn’t need cash, and (b) it conveys zero affection. I sense that you’ve not been in the working world for very long if you think a retirement gift is simply about the dollar value. It’s about sending off a respected colleague or leader into retirement with a gift that conveys what they mean to the organization (even if you have to fake it). “Here’s some cash because we don’t care enough to put thought into this” is just weird.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        100% this. A gift is meant to be thoughtful–something you choose with care and give with affection. Cash implies “take this and get out”.

        He’s an employee who is retiring, who presumably has some longstanding relationships with people there, not a pizza delivery guy who you see for 30 seconds.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Although… fan fiction here. Imagine a penny pinching inflexible jerk who complained for years that retirement parties were a waste of time & money until it was time for HIM to retire. In a novel or movie, this would’ve been a thing indeed.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I had one of those penny pinching jerk bosses — we used to joke that he submitted a savings every year by never using his allotted “team morale” funding. When he retired, the department admin expressed frustration that none of his team would help plan his retirement party. Spoiler: it’s because we were too busy planning our private “ding dong the witch is retired” happy hour.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Who doesn’t need cash? and he’s retiring, meaning his income will go down and stay down.

    4. Sparkle Llama*

      Gifting up issues aside I don’t think it is necessarily tacky to give cash, but the pile with a bow is tacky.

      It is common at my job for long time retirees to get a thoughtful gift from their department and a bunch of cash that was collected as the retirement card was circulated. We give the cash in a classier way though. We convert it to large bills, so the $1-5 that most people toss in become $100s and $20s and put it in the card so when they are given it, the cash isn’t even seen. Is this the best option, probably not, but it hasn’t even struck me as weird that we do this.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        In my immigrant community’s culture, it is super common to give cash as gifts and this is how people do it – $100s in a card.

    5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I also don’t think a retirement gift has the same gifting up implications –the person is leaving, they will no longer have influence in the company.

    6. Blarg*

      If just not giving gifts is not actually an option, just do a charitable donation in the person’s name. I left a job where I was well-regarded, and while I’d opted out of birthday stuff for years cause I thought it was silly, my boss came to me and said “you need to be ok with a going away party, because it isn’t just about you.” So I agreed. And they totally nailed the gift: they “adopted” an animal for me at my favorite wildlife refuge. I got a little certificate and everything. They made a donation to a charity I cared about, because they knew me well.

  9. A mathematician*

    OP5 – I applied for a job at a university (an academic job). They flew me across the country for an interview, which went well. Then they offered the job to a colleague and friend of mine, who asked for a couple of weeks to think about it and wait to see if another university gave him an offer – so the hiring manager let me know the situation and asked if I’d be happy to wait as I was their second choice (I was). My friend did get another offer (as did I – the other university found the money for 3 job offers), chose that offer and so turned down University 1, who told me on Friday afternoon to expect details on Monday… only to hear on Monday that the university had issued a hiring freeze and they couldn’t offer me anything after all. So University 2 got both of us, and the hiring manager at University 1 got to try and persuade one of his existing staff members to teach another unit.

    1. Rock Prof*

      Agree. The email to OP5 for a university position seems super normal to me. Budgeting can shift really quickly even at schools, and since the hiring process can be kind of lengthy, people can easily get caught in a hiring freeze or ‘oops we don’t have the funding we thought we’d have’ moment.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        And grants can be fluid! Maybe a grant didn’t come through. Maybe a huge one did and they have to restructure. Maybe a professor decided to retire. Maybe they realized they have to hire two new professors. So many reasons a job can fall through! Don’t overthink it OP, I promise the reason they gave is 100% legit.

  10. 2e asteroid*

    5: I’m not saying there should be Ask a Manager bingo, but if there is then one of the squares is definitely:

    “Someone said X. What do they mean?” “They probably mean X.”

      1. Heather*

        “Is this the new normal??” “You know it’s not, you just really wanted to tell a story about someone behaving badly”

    1. Mangled Metaphor*

      While I agree, it’s rather sad that our workplace (and normal) lives can be warped so easily and to such an extent that we expect duplicitous behaviour to be the default, and have to get an outside source to confirm it’s not.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We all mentally set up our own… but if you post one on the web do please let me know. :)

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m always a little astounded when people assume that someone meant something else when they said something that was quite straightforward and direct. Either they have been lied to a lot in the past or they watch or read a lot of dramas in which everyone has a hidden meaning in what they say.

      I have found like to be much easier when I simply assume that X means X.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        When one is job searching, every little word becomes fraught with meaning. You agonize over every communication. Did they mean I am moving forward, did I really blow the interview. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN????????

        Because finding a new job is so important, every detail is over analyzed. So I can see someone who is completely reasonable about communication in every other aspect searching for a hidden meaning in a job search communication.

        But as Alison says when she gets these letters, X means X, nothing more. Move on.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        There are things that mean what they mean, and things that mean something else. And sometimes people need to be reassured that what was said was meant, or have explained what was actually meant.

        My friend asked me about a response the other day that he had gotten to his f/up on a potential role that he had heard about from a networking contact at supplier company. The contact had said something very ambiguous, but as someone in recruitment, it meant to me that they probably aren’t going to be able to move forward. So now, my friend can respond appropriately to say they continue to be interested but will await a response from the contact (rather than following up every 2 weeks and making things awkward).

    3. redflagday701*

      I’m fascinated by how quickly this kind of letter so often leaps to “What’s REALLY going on here?!??” My friend, this random business is not making up complicated lies because they’re afraid the truth would upset you too much.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        And employers that blatantly lie during the hiring process are not employers who would be great to work for anyway!

    4. Turkey Jerky*

      You can apply this to LW4, too. Their boss reminding them that she is checking attendance and asking if they know how many times they have missed work this year. Instead of telling yourself a story about how they want you to come in sick, just answer the question they asked when you feel well enough.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Except in the case of one’s own boss, presumably there is context that LW has internalized that we haven’t. I had a boss that would say things like that (see my comment above about THAT guy) when you let him know you were taking a sick day but also complain regularly about how you can never trust anyone, everyone wants money for no work, etc. etc. etc. So he for damn sure was trying to pressure you to come in sick even though “all he said was do you know how much time you’ve taken off this year.”

    5. Throwaway Account*

      I love the bingo idea! And I agree that if the letter says, “we cancelled the position,” it means they cancelled the position. BUT.

      I’m in the middle of a situation at work where I’m not adequately reading between the lines when my coworkers talk.

      There are times when we need to read into things and it is not always clear when to do that and when not to!

  11. TG*

    LW #1 – I’d document any times the behavior has been an issue and ask your husband to speak to the person and HR. If the culture is to be welcoming and friendly this person is sounding like they are certainly not. Please update us!
    LW #4 – I hate this passive aggressive behavior – if you legitimately took sick time you are allotted there should be no issue with that. Especially as you work in a hospital serving food!

    1. mb*

      for LW1 you could go that route. Personally I’d handle things differently – I would either ask this coworker of your husband’s if you’ve done something to offend them because they seem to be angry with you.
      Or… next time you’re at one of these events, chatting up one of his other coworkers, casually mention that you don’t think this person likes you because they’ve been kind of rude. Just an offhand kind of comment – and then see where it goes. It’s possible that word will spread and people will start watching this person to see what they say and do – and potentially step in and put a stop to it.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I agree that the company does sound like one that really would want to know if their volunteers are being treated poorly at their “open to all” events. OP1’s husband should really step up and let someone in charge know what’s going on, although addressing the situation with the nasty coworker might be a good first step.

  12. Magpie*

    sorry to hear you live in Pemberton and/or Squamish! I just left Pemby for similar reasons myself (and moved to Victoria, RIP my bank account)

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      A sibling had to leave Banff and return to Ontario because of the rental costs. Not that Ontario is much better right now but it hurts to leave because of issues beyond your control.

    2. Mahonia*

      The sea to sky is out of control. Lillooet seems to be the only somewhat affordable place to live in the area!

    3. Admin Lackey*

      Lmao I was thinking it sounded like someone who lived in Almonte or Carleton Place, near Ottawa. Love that this story could take place anywhere in the country and that people are getting chased out of the places they live and love.

      I’ve never heard of a municipal government having residency requirements, though, so hopefully LW can work something out.

      1. Loux*

        Is that how much it costs to rent in Almonte and Carleton Place?! Why?! That would be costlier than Ottawa itself! (I am only familiar with Ottawa proper as I don’t live there but have many colleagues there; I do have one coworker in Almonte but she bought a house before the pandemic.)

  13. birch*

    LW1, this is just somebody who is an ahole. Whether it’s to you specifically or to everyone in general is sort of irrelevant, you know this person is a jerk, but you don’t *have* to interact with them. They’re your husband’s coworker, not yours. Just do what you do in other situations when you don’t get along with someone in a large group–politely extricate yourself from conversations with this person. If this person is being physically aggressive to you then ask your husband to deal with it with his company’s HR. But it sounds like you’re setting up a false dichotomy of taking this person’s meanness or exiling yourself completely, when you can just be active about interacting with the people you do want to interact with and specifically not interacting with this one person, which will also force them to get more aggressive about it if they want to keep pestering you, at which point you ask husband to chat with this person/HR about it.

    1. Snarky McSnarkson*

      I agree with birch, there’s no reason to allow this co-worker to hold you hostage. BUT I’m also the person who will ask that person about their behavior toward me. “Why would you ask me that?” “What do you mean by that?” or even “What, did we return to the seventh grade and nobody told me?”

      1. cosmicgorilla*

        Yes to Snarky. I want to know if LW 1 is just politely smiling and brushing off the comments, or if they are returning awkward to sender. Name tbe behavior
        Call it out. Goes a long way towards shutting it down.

      2. mb*

        I’m the same – I’d even go so far as to ask if I’ve done something to upset them because they seem to be very angry with me. Just stay calm and express concern towards them – it tends to force people to explain themselves and stop their unpleasant behaviour because they’ve been subtly called out on it.

      3. Samwise*

        Yes, I have found saying –just loud enough so that others can hear, but not so loud that it’s weird — “What IS your problem, Griselda? Have I offended you in some way?” Then let the silence hang….

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I definitely agree that this should be in the box of options.. but I don’t know, I don’t think people use the word “dread” lightly, and that kind of mood does kind of put the kibosh on voluntary activities. I suppose it really all depends on what exactly was said and just how hostile this person is. I’m going to take OP’s word that they really don’t want to wrap gifts for a shelter with a bully.

      1. bamcheeks*

        And the point of doing these things is usually to be with other people and enjoy the social aspect. That’s why they organise them as communal and social events. It’s one thing to avoid someone who is being a dick so that you can still access Nice Thing you enjoy doing or Important Thing you have to do, but when the point is to relax and socialise and you’re actually spending all your time not relaxing and not socialising, it tips very quickly into “why am I even here”.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Exactly. There are a lot of options here, including polite but chilly, effusive on seeing the person to disarm them and then making a quick escape, and phrases like, “What an unkind thing to say” or “I’m sure you didn’t mean that how it sounded,” or, “Oh, I see Fran and I’ve been meaning to speak with her/I want to check in with the volunteer coordinator/Please excuse me,” or anything else that allows you to politely exit.

      You don’t need to be a hostage to someone else being a jerk.

    4. Malarkey01*

      The other thing I tripped on was at the end when it was said that it happens when she goes in to wait for her husband to go to dinner too. I’d stop that. If you’re going in for a sponsored event you (and husband) have more standing to point out or avoid bad behavior. If you are going in other times and hanging around the office you’re asking the company to talk to someone who is actively working about their behavior towards someone who doesn’t need to be at the office. Id unblur that line. (Totally different advise if the behavior is against your race/ethnicity/religion as that’s something that must be corrected regardless of who or when it’s occurring)

        1. Menace to Sobriety*

          Did you miss that the company also sponsors community support events like “wrapping gifts” etc… and encourages spousal participation? So, maybe the OP can choose not to go wait for hubby for dinner, but now you’re also asking the OP to give up participating in other events that she’s explicitly encourage to participate in. She shouldn’t have to do that.

          1. Lurker Cat*

            I think the community support events fall under “sponsored events” where it would still be acceptable to participate. Families are expected at those events and if the jerk is rude there LW & husband would have standing to complain. But if LW is the only spouse hanging around the office on a normal workday then they have less standing as they don’t have a “legitimate” work reason to be there.

          2. Malarkey01*

            Nope didn’t miss it. That’s why I said sponsored events give you more standing to raise this and to unblur the line between those and what sounds like informal killing time.

            (Or maybe that was a reaction to WellRead who was responding to me but you didn’t read my comment?)

            1. Menace to Sobriety*

              Yep. I don’t read ALL the comments. A lot of the time I skip around and saw the “OP no need to hang out at the office or even go in.” from WellRed. Maybe I “nested” it incorrectly.

  14. Rosacolleti*

    #4 how awful! We have a specific clause in our ‘sick and annual leave’ policy stating that you will never be contacted while on this type of leave.

  15. SchedulesSonetimesRule*

    I once got laid off over the phone while on sick leave. Unfortunately sometimes if employers have a schedule for something administrative they won’t (or if it comes from above your boss, can’t) deviate. Perhaps they were told they needed to collate time off info by X time before OP was supposed to return.

    1. Magpie*

      If that was the case, the boss could presumably look at the HR system where they keep track of how much time everyone has taken off. The letter writer would be unlikely to know for sure how much time they’ve taken off when at home without access to any work systems. This was almost definitely an attempt by the boss to make the LW feel like they shouldn’t be taking time off.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I would be so tempted to reply “I’m not sure because I have a fever and I cannot count when I am delirious. Also, I don’t have access to the HR system at home – you should get someone else to look at it if you don’t have access.” Absolutely do not do that, of course.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Oh it didn’t even occur to me that the manager’s question might have been genuine lol! I agree with magpie that the manager would absolutely have records of this rather than needing to ask LW. It’s a hospital so at least a fairly big employer, there’s a call-out system other than notifying your manager directly so that system absolutely keeps records.

  16. Irish Teacher*

    LW5, I had a couple of situations like this when I was subbing. A teacher decided not to take the leave after all or something was cancelled (say they were going for an operation and it was postponed) and in one case, I suspect the government would fund the position. It was a case of “we need a sub for a week or two but we are applying for resource hours and we are sure we’ll get the funding as we have students who really need the support so there should be work for the rest of the year,” then at the end of the period subbing, “actually we’ll have to end it here.” Of course, it’s possible they decided they didn’t like me or something, but given that this was at the start of the recession when the government were cutting jobs, not increasing them, I think the school was just a little over-optimistic about the chances of getting the hours.

    There are all kinds of reasons they might decide not to fill a position. Perhaps it was to replace somebody who was to leave but who changed their mind. Perhaps funding got pulled. Perhaps they realised that they could really manage without this member of staff.

    The odds are they are simply telling you what happened. It would be kind of weird if they were to claim they went with somebody who was a better fit when in reality, they decided not to fill the position at all. This would be particularly weird if you were the preferred candidate and they would have been very enthusiastic about hiring you but just ended up with no vacancy after all.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Exactly. The project got canceled, the grant didn’t come through, the last building inspector said they had to close a wing for critical safety repairs…

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      My old boss was always very reluctant to recruit to vacancies if she could possibly avoid it – she was always convinced that layoffs were around the corner and said that she’d rather cut a vacant post than have to go through the process of losing a person. So when my one coworker went to what started out as a year’s secondment, we were all a bit surprised when she actually advertised for a temporary replacement.

      It got as far as holding interviews and having a person all ready to appoint, and then all of a sudden the job was pulled and we were told we were doing without the position. Later on that week, we were told that from the new financial year, we would be coming under a different grandboss, and someone asked whether that was the reason the position had been cancelled. Old Boss said “Oh, no, that was my decision” – I did wonder afterwards whether it was our first grandboss who had suggested she recruit, and then once he wasn’t going to be our grandboss any more Old Boss decided to carry on with her not recruiting.

  17. Turingtested*

    LW #1, this is such a weird situation I think it’s useless to speculate on why this person is behaving that way.

    However you can push back in the moment! I think it’s Allison who recommends “What an odd thing to say” as a response to rude comments. Or even a bland “June, you’ve made rude comments to me for years. I really just want to wrap presents for kids without your commentary.” Or the more passive less likely to incite “Have I done something to offend you?”

    My guess is that this person is just “like that” and like so many rude people no one ever checks her.

    1. Camellia*

      This! I was surprised that Allison didn’t put this in her answer. I was expecting the “What an odd thing to say” type of suggestions for immediate push-back.

  18. SimpleAutie*

    LW #4, are you in the states? My experience with food service has been that they technically have to have a policy that you take off when you’re sick but no food service employer I’ve ever had actually wanted you to do that unless you were visibly sick and customers would notice… and sometimes not even then.

    Just one more way our culture is borked.

  19. L-squared*

    I always find peoples aversion to cash as a gift interesting. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, but to me I don’t see much practical difference in an Amazon/Door Dash gift card vs. a wad of cash with a bow or a check. TBH, many times if you are giving me a gift card, I’d rather have the cash because its more versatile. Just venmo it and let me choose what business I patronize lol. And yes, the wad of cash with a bow is a funny visual. But if you are giving, lets say, $10 to the “pot” either way, what does it really matter the vessel that they receive it?

    Also, I do understand certain circumstances why its frowned upon. I’m not going to give a romantic partner cash for valentines day (though I likely wouldn’t do an amazon gift card either). Same with like my mom on her birthday. But for most other things? Never understood the problem.

  20. I should really pick a name*


    I actually disagree that there’s nothing you can do.
    In the moment, when they say or do something inappropriate, loudly respond with something like “I can’t believe you just said that!”
    They’re going to be less likely to bother you if they get public consequences.

    1. Varthema*

      Yes, or:
      “Where did that come from?”
      “Why would you say that?/ask that?”
      “Well, that hurts./that’s invasive. I’m out.” And then either leave, or move away, or just start ignoring them wholesale in a way that would be weird and rude if not for the context.

      If you’re like me and freeze in the moment, pick a phrase in advance and have it ready to go.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Pull a Buzz Lightyear. “You’re a sad, strange individual, and you have my pity.”

    2. The Original K.*

      “How strange that you feel comfortable saying that to me/asking me that” has worked well for me.

    3. Username required*

      I’d laugh and say very loudly – I’m sorry could you repeat that because I’m sure I must have misheard you as you couldn’t have meant to insult me.

    4. House On The Rock*

      Yes, I think LW would be entirely justified in calling this out and pushing back/asking for an explanation. After all, the coworker has decided it’s fine to be antagonistic towards a fellow employee’s spouse and or all of the retorts mentioned would be appropriate.
      Of course if this rises to the level of “dread”, LW might actually be feeling unsafe around the person, and then I do think it would be time for their spouse to involve HR.

  21. Dear liza dear liza*

    LW #5, higher education is in free fall. We’re nearing the enrollment cliff (least number of 18 year olds around) and many campuses are panicking. Positions which were approved are very regularly frozen for lots of budget reasons. It’s very likely what happened is exactly what they emailed.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*


      If the position was budget-approved months ago, and it took a while to churn through the process of writing the position description, posting it, etc. then there could very well have been instructions from the top to shut it down by the time they got to evaluating candidate interviews. It happens.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      Agree with this. And many states are trying to get rid of diversity and inclusion type of departments and so their budget may have been cut, or reallocated. Or the position is just be absorbed by other people.

  22. Allie*

    #5 I applied for a job a few years ago and got a similar email stating that they were no longer moving forward with the role. Fast forward a few months and they called me again to come in for another interview and I got the job. It turned out that there were some office politics things happening behind the scenes & some retooling of the job description- which was why they weren’t moving forward with the role at first. I’d take them at their word that they’re not hiring for the reason they say they aren’t.

  23. Honestly, some people’s children!*

    There are some residency requirements allowed in my state. Not many. The State Supreme Court threw out a lot of them years ago. Maybe about 10 years ago some newly elected politician wanted to enact a new statute allowing them. One of the newspapers interviewed some government employees who lived in the city/county they worked for. One was a fire chief who was the only non-elected employee who lived in the city. The cheapest homes in the city were $1million for some really nice townhouses. He said if there was a residency requirement elected officials (who have to live there) would be out plowing snow because no one who did actual work could afford to live there. Fire chief said he only could afford to live there because his wife was an attorney at a big money law firm and her family had owned the land their house is on back when the town was cheap lake cabins for middle class families back in about 1890. The LW’s employer is going to end up going remote or relaxing that requirement sooner or later!

  24. Poison I.V. drip*

    #3: In 1995 I was hired into a company as a lowly machine operator, so not well paid at all. My first week, before I even got my first paycheck, a coworker approached me because one of the founders was retiring and they were collecting cash to buy him a gold watch. I was being shaken down to buy a gold watch. For a millionaire. Whom I had never met. And never would. Being new, I felt pressured to fork over $5, which was a good chunk of what I had left after being unemployed for several weeks.

  25. HonorBox*

    Regarding the gift of cash… Yes, the gifting up thing applies and that makes it even more weird. But a gift that is a pile of cash just feels… icky. I’m all for a check or a large bill tucked in to a card for a wedding or graduation gift. But a retirement gift is much, much different. Had the person running the collection gone to the bank and changed out the cash for a larger bill or two it still would feel gross. There’s zero thought that went into it. If Bob is the fisherman the LW states, a nice fishing accessory would show that people KNOW Bob and want to get him something that will be useful in his retirement. A nice wine if he’s a wine guy would show some understanding of who he is as a person. It also shows some effort on the part of the staff to actually try to find something that would be a gift he’d like. Yeah, just icky.

  26. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    OP # 5, ‘unforeseen circumstances’ are often really just that!

    At my job recently, we had a Event Manager resign. OK, fine. Then the Event Director, which this person reported to, resign. Then our Special Events VP resigned. Then our Grants coordinator resigned.

    (I realize that sounds like a ton of resignations, and it is, and it’s definitely indicative of a problem in that department, although the Event Director resigned to go care for an ailing parent and the Grants coordinator resigned to take another position in our org that more closely aligns with his goals/training/skills/degree.)

    The timing was such that we had started the interviews for Teapot Event Manager, and then we put it all on hold, because with all four positions in that department being vacant at the same time, we could change job duties, re-write job descriptions, and update the positions to better align with our current needs. We couldn’t have done that when they were all filled, but with basically an entire department vacant, we could really look at what we needed and what we wanted.

    So unfortunately, everyone who interviewed for the Event Manager position got told, ‘We’re sorry, but we’re now putting this position on hold indefinitely.’

    But, at least at my org, once we have it all finalized, we’ll reach back out to those candidates and say, ‘Here’s the new job description, are you still interested?’ before we publicly repost.

  27. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    #2 – your agency is going to have trouble hiring if they have residency requirement. Not everyone has someone else to support them or is willing to take in a bunch of roommates. Even if there is not a residency requirement, they are going to have problems hiring peoople who will be able to reasonably be in the office. Discuss it with your boss.

    1. Nonanon*

      This. My partner works for a city government in a noticeably high cost-of-living area (the state football team is HQd there and the city takes advantage). When he had “on call” hours, one of the requirements was that he had to live within 15-20min of their physical plant. With what the role paid for, they had a shortage of workers because NO ONE could afford to live that close to the location. Instead of paying their people more (because, y’know, the city is routinely on “affluent areas in the state” list but doesn’t make enough money)*, they increased their radius to “as long as you live in this county or specific areas in the neighboring counties.”

      *since it is government, I am fully aware they may be capped and/or have other reasons for not paying adequate for the area. Total personal opinion, but they cannot complain that they are understaffed while not paying their staff enough.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If there is a requirement to live in an expensive area then there should be a housing allowance on top of the salary, like the military/govt gives e.g. “London weighting allowance”.
      (However, if this residence requirement is later dropped, then the allowance would go too, so there would need to be several months notice written in to the contract, to give time to find accommodation in a cheaper area further away.)

      Also, being on call outside working hours needs an allowance per hour.

    3. Observer*

      Not everyone has someone else to support them or is willing to take in a bunch of roommates

      And not everyone is *able* to take in a room mate. If your apartment is big enough and there is nothing unusual in your situation, sure. But if you’re in a small apartment, where are you putting a room mate? And there are a lot of other situations where having a roommate / boarder is just a non-starter.

  28. persimmon*

    LW #5 It’s a thing, it’s happened to me too, and it sucks!

    In my case, I’d already had two interviews including an in-person one where they flew me in. Less than a week later I got a call telling me it was a grant-funded position, they decided to do interviews before they had the grant locked down, and were cancelling the search because they ended up not getting it. I knew it was grant-funded when I applied, but the job ad and the interview both made it sound like they’d already secured the funding :/

  29. kiki*

    LW 2– I hope LW has a good boss who won’t do this, but I would have some phrases prepared to redirect the conversation if boss tries to focus on changing LW’s rent or financial situation rather than focusing on whether or not the job can be remote.

    Because I can see an out of touch boss asking questions like, “why can’t your husband work?” “have you considered roommates?”

    It’s best to say, “I have spent a lot of time researching all my options and none of them currently allow me to stay in this area with the salary I’m currently making. I would love to continue discussing the possibility of remote work.”

    1. I Have RBF*

      BTW, the LW said that they had a roommate, and their husband was disabled. So the boss would have to be really, really out of touch for that.

      1. Observer*

        So the boss would have to be really, really out of touch for that.

        Indeed they would. Even assuming that the OP never shared the fact that they have a room-mate and that hubby is disabled and unable to work.

        But what makes you think that the boss is not out of touch? I’m not saying that they are. But it’s unfortunately a huge mistake to assume that a boss is not out of touch, absent other clues.

        Look in the archives here for some good samples, especially the bosses who asked to see their employee’s budgets when asked for a raise.

        1. I Have RBF*

          I am not saying it’s impossible for their boss to be out of touch, just that being that kind of crass would indicate that.

  30. JonBob*

    #1 you could employ a tactic mentioned here and return awkwardness to sender. Reply really loudly “Why would you say such a thing” or “That’s a really personal question to ask” or “Why are you asking me -question-?”

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      This was my thought. Probably chat w/your spouse first about context issues, and then come up with some response scripts that will be appropriate. No one should have to put up with aggression like this.

      And then if it continues to be an issue, a strategy for declining to participate in activities by naming the issue may be appropriate. (“Gee, I’ve loved to wrap the presents for the shelter in years past, but as I understand it, X will be participating, and I have had some uncomfortable interactions with him the last few times I’ve been at the office.”)

  31. Bookworm*

    #5: Not in the same position but I’ve had a couple of rejections like this. The most recent one was that they’ve paused the hiring process for now and will let us know if/when it is restarted. Sucks, but at least they were transparent.

    On the other hand, I’ve had rejections where they said “we’re not hiring right now”–not, like you said, that they went with someone else, that you weren’t a great fit, etc. but that specific language. For one job I saw it was posted a few weeks later, same position. Only difference was that they now required candidates to specifically state their salary requirements (guess what wasn’t in the original positing and to which I had answered was negotiable when asked?). The other was very vague and even cold when I emailed a few years later to ask about another position. They still might not have been hiring, but I really got the vibe that the person I was corresponding with (who had interviewed me and with whom I actually had a history with/connections in common) didn’t want to be upfront about it.

    Do either of these situations apply to you? I doubt it. Unless you’ve got other info, I think Alison’s answer is right on the money. Just that there is always the possibility you may be right and there is more to it (since you went through the process and all and we didn’t). Good luck! Hope this means something better will come along for you. :)

    1. Dek*

      It’s so wild because, like. They know what it costs to live where we are. It feels like expecting free labor, to an extent.

      1. pope suburban*

        There are few things more discouraging than spending the bulk of your waking hours building a community that doesn’t want you in it. The people I serve expect world-class parks, programming, and entertainment, and they absolutely do not want to pay whatever fraction of a cent of their largely very low property taxes (Thanks, Prop 13) for it. The only people who can afford to live here are people who started 25-plus years ago, or people married to spouses with high incomes. People who started 10-15 years ago can afford houses a town or two over. People who started after that are renting overpriced apartments an hour away, and often in areas that are not nice. We just had to do a large compensation study and it turns out yeah, we are all underpaid, which led to the first actual raise in over 10 years (2% over 2 years is…not helpful). This also marked the first time that part-time employees, myself included, who all had to participate in the study, were excluded from improvements provided for full-time employees. 35 hours a week, struggling hard to hang on, and now I’m going to have to move when my lease is up because they think I’m somehow doing peachy while full-time, benefitted staff gets 6% and 4% the year after. And they’re shocked we can’t hire people anymore, while people are quitting. It’s depressing and I sincerely hope I can get out of here, because it’s taking a huge toll on my well-being in every way.

      1. Eater of Hotdish*

        I laugh, and weep, with you…

        We used to live in one of the crappier neighborhoods of the Crunchy Outdoorsy Fun City by the Big Lake; it was cheap, we were on a tight budget. It’s gentrified like whoa since we left–there’s no way we could afford to live there now on the kinds of wages we were making then.

    1. Canuck*

      Even when they said Canada, I was positive I knew where they meant until I saw all the others possibilities suggested by my fellow Canadians!

  32. Menace to Sobriety*

    WRT the spouse, I had the opposite problem! I worked with a male colleage (I am female) and we shared an office. He was my Deputy PM on our team and we were basically attached at the hip a lot. Attending meetings, traveling, etc… There was nothing at all romantic going on, but we worked very well together, had a lot of inside jokes etc.. His wife would call him like 12 times a day and when she called I “HAD” to be quiet because she would get angry if she could hear me in the background and she was ALWAYS so rude to me when we met at Holiday parties/social events. It was so weird; and I never got an answer as to why, other than most people assuming she felt threatened by our close working relationship, but I’m married for 30+ years and am like 15 years OLDER than her hubby and by no means a hot cougar! It was all so very odd. If I had to speculate, even if there’s no affair going on, this colleague who presumably since “affair” was mentioned, is female (the LW was really super oddly vague about details of gender, what was said, etc… ) perhaps she feels like his “work wife” and is just threatened and annoyed when you show up. I’d definitely say, “What is Karen’s issue with me? I enjoy supporting your office in community service events, but I’ll have to stop if she doesn’t get her dislike of me under control, or at least stay the hell away from me.” And if MY spouse told me someone who worked w/ ME was a jerk to him, that person would be told in no uncertain terms to knock it off.

    1. hydrangea macduff*

      I had a similar situation. I was in my 20s and married and worked with a guy a year or two older than me and married with a couple of kids. There was Zero Chemistry and he was truly a work-adjacent acquaintance. I honestly thought he was kind of a tool but a fine coworker for someone whose desk was somewhat near mine. Then I met his wife and innocently introduced myself to her at our holiday party—I think I was even with my husband, just meeting a colleague’s spouse, a totally normal thing! She turned to him and hissed, YOU TOLD ME SHE WAS OLD AND UGLY!
      And then they proceeded to have the most obvious and embarrassing fight.
      My husband and I backed away slowly and I never saw poor Doug the same way again. I always wondered what dynamic led him to fib about me in that particular way. Especially since everyone in my dept also went to church together (except me) so the chances that the cover story of me being a Hideous Elderly Hag Who Could Never Tempt Doug lasting very long were slim. This was also a very patriarchal company where having a young professional married woman employee was like a quadruple oxymoron and my male colleagues did not ever quite know how to have a normal conversation or meeting with me.

  33. StressedButOkay*

    OP3, ugh, that’s so tacky and uncomfortable. And, unless Bob is Scrooge McDuck and is keen on diving into a pile of money, I can only imagine how uncomfortable that might be for them to just receive a wad of cash with a bow on it in front of people.

  34. 1-800-BrownCow*

    #5: Another addition saying this is not that unusual and likely means exactly as they said. I’ve had 3 similar scenarios happen at my company. 1) Owners did a hiring freeze when we unexpectedly lost business from a major customer. 2) Company owners sold the business to an international company and the new company wouldn’t let us move forward with open position offers until they had a chance to determine if they were going to restructure or eliminate positions. 3) We were interviewing for a open position on the team and were having a hard time finding a good candidate. We finally were ready to to make an offer to a interviewee but were having issues with the candidate not following through with requests, taking 3-4 days to finally respond to phone calls and voicemails or emails, amongst other things. Which then raised red flags as attention to detail and communication and responding to immediate requests were priorities for the position. The team reconvened and while discussing to not ultimately offer the position to the candidate, the amount of time that had passed without someone working in the position had not created issues, the work was easily absorbed by the team, and so ultimately we decided to eliminate the position altogether.

  35. LucyGoosy*

    LW 1 – Does your husband know this is happening? My first thought is that you should bring it up to him to help come up with a solution.

    My immediate thought from reading this is that the coworker has a crush on your husband–if that’s the case, then they may also be behaving inappropriately in the workplace and your husband absolutely can bring it up. (Not sure if the coworker is male/female/nonbinary, but it doesn’t matter–I have frequently seen men be sexually harassed in the workplace and not recognize it. Not long ago, a coworker was talking about how her partner had a colleague at his work who was constantly calling/texting him outside work wanting to hang out, making inappropriate comments, telling him about her divorce and how much she just NEEDED a man like him, giving unwanted gifts, etc. and I said, “You know that’s sexual harassment, right?” Neither of them had thought of it that way until I said it.)

  36. AreYouBeingServed?*

    Regarding #1, this is definitely bullying, and bullies only respond to a badder/bigger bully. Is your husband in a position where he can damage the bully? Obviously the first step would be for your husband to ask the bully to knock it off, but that rarely works. If it does, great….problem solved. Always start “nice” and go from there. And, of course, this all starts with making sure your husband understands and knows what is happening.

    But if not, is your husband in a position to undermine or damage the bully? They can’t abuse you if they get fired or have to resign. I’ve managed to get a workplace bully fired before by sabotaging their work, and it can be surprisingly easy, especially if the bully isn’t watching for it (they often don’t….often bullies think they are the “baddest” person in the game, and those are susceptible to a well-considered and well-disguised attack.

    Depending on how much it’s worth, this may be a good tactic. I’m not, of course, talking about anything illegal. But there are plenty of legal ways to attack and undermine a bully.

  37. Another Michael*

    It’s interesting that the advice for LW #2 doesn’t also include thinking seriously about job searching anyway. Between the family situation and housing costs in the area (and across Canada, per commenters above) this doesn’t seem to be a sustainable situation. LW seems to feel compelled to see current projects through, but I’d encourage them not to feel a higher responsibility to their job than themselves and their family. I know asking for a raise can be fraught to impossible in government work, so they may need to consider what something else could look like for them.

  38. Misty_Meaner*

    I believe the OP when she says she’s certain there’s no affair. (Look, I know the OP was very careful to be non-gendered but… it all pointed female to me so I’m running with it). But, has she considered that the coworker is threatened by her and her husband just doesn’t see that she’s crushing on him? The first time I had my husband’s whole team at our house for a cookout, shortly after I moved there to live with him, one of his female colleagues walked into the kitchen as we were prepping and he leaned over to kiss me. She literally ran out of the room and out of our house, sobbing. He was like “What just happened?” He had never caught on that she was into him, although I’d told him I was pretty sure she was based on things he’d told me about her wanting to hang out (before I got there) etc… and was just so oblivious to it, that it was both tragic and hilarious. She was never overtly rude to me after that, but she did avoid me like I was contagious to the largest extent possible. I suspect your hubby’s co-worker has an office crush and you’re very presence is messing up her fantasy of a future.

  39. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    LW1 – In addition to responding in the moment (e.g. “wow!” “Did I do something to offend you?” etc.) you can also make it a habit to stick fairly close to your spouse or others you have gotten to know. Especially helpful is of those people are folks the coworker is unlikely to want to be catty around.

  40. Lainey L. L-C*

    #1 – I will admit, the first thing I thought of was affair, but that’s probably because that’s exactly what happened with my ex and his “just a friend” co-worker who was rude to me.

    If they’re doing this when it’s just you two, you don’t have to talk to them! Walk away when you see them coming or walk away the moment they say the rude thing. My daughter (after years of working in customer service) has a way of just deadeye staring at people when they say something rude/throwing a fit and it has a way of making them give up and walk away.

    If they are doing this in front of other people, and especially if they are doing it in front of your husband, he definitely needs to say something. It sounds like they are not a boss or anything so he should be able to at least say, “Don’t speak to my wife that way.” I’m very conflict-avoidant, and the thought of a random co-worker saying something hateful to my spouse/kids, especially in front of me, my blood boils. Things would be said.

    1. MagicEyes*

      I would like to take lessons from your daughter on how to do “The Look”. It’s an important life skill that I have not mastered.

      1. Samwise*

        If you wear glasses it’s even more effective: Tilt your head slightly to look over your glasses, give the look. Or even better, tilt your head, reach up and pull your glasses down slightly, look over the top of your glasses, give The Look.

        Accompanied by a slight but audible sigh ups the effect.

        Exceptionally useful for teachers.

    2. Ellie*

      The first thing I thought of was ‘workplace crush’, not affair, because the only time this has happened to me it was obviously one-sided. My husband didn’t even pick up that she was into him. He thought she was just being friendly, was horrified when I told him how rude she’d been to me, and avoided going anywhere near her afterwards. I think it was a weird territorial thing.

      Since OP’s husband works with them though, I think all you can do is talk to your husband about it and see what he’s comfortable doing.

  41. I'm just here for the cats*

    #5 I work for a university and I’m almost 100 percent sure that what happened was budget related. There have been a lot of cuts to higher ed, and sometimes the first to go is unfortunately administrative assistance.

    In my state, there is a big push to eliminate Diversity and Inclusion departments, and we suffered a huge cut to our budgets. Some places are having to furlough and lay off staff. So even if the job was budget approved it was probably only approved for the current fiscal year, or maybe the next year. So they didn’t feel comfortable hiring someone for a year and then having to lay them off. Or maybe their department is being absorbed by another department and there is already an administrative assistant and they won’t need 2.

    I know it sucks but don’t put think more into it. They aren’t going to make up some story just to save your feelings. Plus it would be really obvious if they continued to hire for that same role.

    1. Jane Castle*

      That was me in #5. I was just surprised because in the past it’s been like “While your qualifications were impressive, we went with a candidate more experience in this area. Please be aware positions like this are highly competitive.”

      Thing is, they re-posted the same job now, so I just re-applied. :P

  42. Ihmmy*

    OP1 – I know this probably isn’t actually going to help but part of me would be so tempted to pull a Mean Girls and ask “why are you so obsessed with me” next time Husbands Coworker of Doom targets you

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      I love this idea. I also want to have OP create a Mean Girls clique to deal with this problem! That is a movie I would watch.

  43. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #3 Cash isn’t tacky in all cultures/countries, but imo gifting upwards always is.

    In Germany for large departments we had cash collections – actual currency notes, not vouchers – for major events only, not birthdays, so: engagements, babies, 25/40-year job anniversaries, retirements (I don’t know if this is cultural or field-dependent) Only small teams would give gifts.

    The recipient would provide us all with a meal/buffet in the office, either homemade pies & cakes – in which case they could make a profit – or ordered in pizza – when they made a loss. The cash would be given in an envelope with card at the end of the meal.

    However, there were no gifts for managers – so they just had to accept that such life events came with an extra cost (or accept being thought mean by everyone!)

  44. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 could be an unrequited crush that your OH may not even have noticed i.e. seeing you reminds his colleague that you exist and pours cold water over their fantasy.

    1. Observer*

      That could be true. But what difference would it make to the OP?

      I just don’t see how this is in any way actionable. And I can’t even see any way that it changes the way the OP would look at it.

      1. Misty_Meaner*

        Well, for 1 thing: Understanding why someone is a trash person can be helpful with dealing with them. Unexplained b*tchiness is harder to accept than “oh she’s got an unrequited crush” which can be treated with pity. Also, she can make hubby aware of it. My hubby had ZERO clue his co-worker was crushing on him and once he finally was made aware, he made doubly sure to keep any interactions with her kind but professional and was never alone with her or in any way encouraging, so that eventually she got over it, although she never really stopped avoiding me. I’m not sure why you think UNDERSTANDING someone’s behavioral motivation is useless, when it is in fact key to how to deal with it.

  45. Strong Independent Acid Snake*

    LW 2- I am also in Canada and got priced out of my town a couple of years ago too- a 3 bedroom townhouse is approx $1million CAD which is bonkers . Areas like you are in really pushed the “you can have a remote job in TORONTO but live and work HERE IN PARADISE!” narrative. I don’t begrudge those people being able take advantage of those opportunities but I do wish more thought had been given to how those communities’ were going to cope if the local population who keep the gears turning cannot afford to live there.

    I imagine your bosses are well aware of the problem, and I really hope your boss gives you the flexibility you need.

  46. yeahithappens*

    #5, this sucks but it not out of the ordinary at all. I work as an admin at a University and having money swept from your budget or a position unexpectedly eliminated or restructured even in the middle of hiring for it can happen for dozens of reasons. It’s no reflection on you.

  47. knitcrazybooknut*

    #5: Budget cuts, especially now, especially in academia. We keep hearing about the “enrollment cliff” which may or may not be a thing, but it’s definitely the talk going around all the budget offices. That’s our situation, anyway.

  48. Sara without an H*

    LW#5 — I worked in higher education for 30+ years, and this is so, so common. Budgets are tight, funding is precarious. It’s possible to wait months for the go ahead to fill a position, and then suddenly be told that all open positions will be frozen due to lack of funds.

    I’m sorry for your experience, but please don’t take it personally. In this case, it really is the industry rather than you.

  49. Vanilla lattes are the best*

    #2 – my family and I currently live in a high cost of living area. After trying to buy a home for a year, we decided to move to a city with housing prices that are more favorable for us. My partner’s current role isnt able to be remote for many reasons, so he recently gave his notice. His manager seemed surprised, but she has lived in the area for decades and bought her home years ago.

    Luckily, he has been able to land a new job in new city with a pay raise to boot.

  50. jellied brains*

    LW 2: no advice but you have my sympathies. I live in a stupidly high COL area that’s only getting worse because that parasite Amazon is setting up a HQ here because fuck the little people.

  51. House On The Rock*

    LW #1, I don’t know your husband’s company or dynamics at all, but if a fellow employee was being unkind to one of my staff’s spouse, I would want to know that. I think it would be appropriate for him to speak to his manager about this.

    You don’t say what the person asked you or said, but the phrasing around it being “demeaning” makes me wonder if there is some bias or bigotry involved. If that’s the case, the person could very well be running afoul of company anti-discrimination. That would definitely be worth flagging to HR or a superior.

    Mostly I’m so sorry you are experiencing this, bullies are awful and this is such a strange situation.

  52. Dek*

    “The kicker? I work for our local municipal government.”

    Ha, ain’t that just the way.

    I’ve been at my current position (state gov’t) for 10 years, and before that I worked for the city for 4 years. And at no point have I been paid enough to afford to live on my own.

    Which is a nice little storm cloud on the horizon, since my brother/housemate probably wants to move after he finished community college.

    It’s kind of wild to me that the *government* doesn’t pay all of its workers enough to live on.

  53. ina*

    #5: If it’s at a big uni, while it’s not really *common* common, it’s entirely possible they cancelled recruitment. This is either for budget reasons, the person they thought they needed to replace didn’t need to be replaced (either they unexpectedly stayed or their duties were absorbed well into other positions), or they can’t hire at the moment for some admin reason (poor planning — job posted too early, steps taken, but the position can only start in FY24, which they think and determine is too long to keep a candidate on ice).

    What stood out though was, “Two weeks come and go, and I checked in each week with the director who was in the interview each week, who seemed to not have any new info.” — I thought it was considered a follow-up faux pas to check in anytime before the two week mark. I might be misreading but I read this as “I checked in each week from the week of the interview, in total 2.”

    1. Jane Castle*

      He gave me his personal cell and said to call with any questions or concerns but it might take up to two weeks. I waited a week and checked in and he said the team sent in everyone’s ratings a week ago when they did the interviews and he doesn’t know where it’s at and hadn’t heard anything. A week later it was the same thing. He’s the Director but can’t make the decision. Typical big university, let’s have it go through several people and then a provost/senior official and he said after that they tell him he can make a “conditional offer.”

  54. Elizabeth West*

    #5–unfilled position

    That’s almost certainly not about you, OP. I got one of those at the beginning of the pandemic. The company cut their budget in light of the ongoing emergency and basically said “Welp, this job is no longer on the table. Sorry.” And it also happened to me with another job a friend referred me to — the hiring manager told him basically they were informed they couldn’t have it for reasons.

    It happens.

  55. greenland*

    Re: LW2 — I’m interested in whether it’s reasonable to ask for a non-minor cost of living raise, in situations where the cost of living in a particular area has changed so dramatically. Similar jobs in more expensive markets may already pay more; you’re sort of grandfathered in to a lower salary just because you’ve been both in the job and in the area since before it became expensive. I’ve not heard of anything doing this, but if the cost of living in an area has increased so sharply it doesn’t seem impossible, especially if it can be quantified.

  56. Oh January*

    If LW 2 is where I think they are (BC, not Ontario) then there are no requirements for a municipal employee to live in that city unless they are elected.

  57. Alexia*

    For #5, my higher ed department had to do that. We got all the way to final interviews, had a finalist, and were ready to make an offer when administration decided to cancel the posting to reconsider it as part of overall budget cuts and a hiring freeze. We (in the department) were enraged not only that the posting got canceled, but also that admin waited until the near offer stage to do it. We still have not filled the position two years later due to budget cuts & hiring freezes

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