employee had drugs in her desk, I sent an embarrassing message to a group Slack, and more

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

1. Should I go over my boss’s head about an employee who had drugs in her desk?

I work in an office that is separated in two sections. My section (Group A) has 15 employees and the other section has 35 employees, and then we have the owners, a husband and wife.

The Group B supervisor (the owner’s nephew, Bob) and assistant supervisor (Roger) are absolutely horrible. No one in either group likes Bob because he is an A-hole and no one likes Roger because of the way he acts like Bob. However, I am Group A’s assistant supervisor and I’m being trained by my supervisor, George, who everyone on both teams loves. George is very low key and lets our employees be who they are, and our small number of employees outperforms Group B, due to everyone being happier.

But I found out something George did that should have been brought to the owner’s attention but wasn’t because one of our employees might have been fired for it. When an employee on our team, Melanie, was taking her daughter to school, her daughter left her sweatshirt in the car and later that day Melanie was cold and grabbed the sweatshirt from the car and put it on. When she reached into the pocket, she found drugs, which she took out and put in her desk so that she could bring it home later and confront her daughter. Everyone on our team knows that her daughter has had a drug problem in the past. Well, later that day, George needed something from Melanie and she told him to grab it from her desk. He goes to her desk and opens it up to find the drugs. She explained the situation and said it wasn’t hers and even said she would go to the store and buy a drug test to prove she is not taking any drugs (which she did and passed). I ended up finding out and so I’m at this dilemma of letting it go or bringing it up to the owners. If I do, I’m afraid that George and Melanie would be fired and then my team would think that I did this just to get his job, and the entire dynamic of our team will be messed up with having every employee in group A hate me if that happens. Or if Roger becomes our supervisor, everything will change and become less productive. Either way, it’s a lose-lose, and all for something where I believe George did the correct thing in the first place. I would have done the same thing, but I also don’t want any of this blowing back on me if it does come out and it’s found out that I knew about it.

It sounds like this is George’s problem to handle, not yours, and he has handled it in the way he judged best. You’re not obligated to go over his head with it (especially when you say you would have handled it the same way he did anyway). He’s responsible for deciding the appropriate response, and he’s done that. Assume everyone can simply move on from here!

If you’re questioned about it later, you can honestly say that you’ve always found George to be reliable and responsible and you trusted that he had it covered.

2. I accidentally sent an embarrassing message to a large group on Slack

I work for a large company in the sales division. We were in a meeting that was repetitive and annoying simply because it’s an hour long, on a Friday, and it’s Q4. This is a mandatory meeting throughout the month of October. During the meeting, I meant to Slack my best friend / coworker. We work remotely on Fridays so we were both on Zoom. I was watching Real Housewives of New York before I hopped on the meeting, and while I meant to message my friend, I sent a Slack to a sales group with 200+ people that read, “I’m talking now so they don’t call on me later and I can continue watching Real Housewives.”

Three people messaged me about it. One of them was a manager on the team adjacent to mine. He just sent a screenshot and said, “No explanation needed, just thought I’d let you know.”

Then, I see him in person in office the following week, and we always joke around with each other and poke fun. He gave me a silly look and I just laughed and said, “Don’t look at me!” He replied with, “It’s your career, not mine.”

So now I’m overthinking it and wondering how bad I actually messed up. My coworkers around me are all laughing and no one even saw it except for a handful of people. But his comment has me anxious. To be fair, we always poke fun at each other and he knows I can take it, but this one seems different. Thoughts on the interaction, what I should do, or just in general if he’s thinking of me differently?

I … don’t think you’re overthinking it. That’s potentially a pretty bad message to have sent, especially if anyone with any influence over your job sees it! I don’t know enough about the context with the manager who messaged you to say for sure, but I’d consider bringing it back up with him and saying, “Seriously, though, I’m embarrassed that happened and there’s no excuse. It won’t happen again.”

Is there any chance your own manager saw it? It’s tricky because if she didn’t, you don’t want to call her attention to it, but if she did see it, it’s not great not to address it. Hopefully since she didn’t say anything about it, it’s safe to assume she didn’t see it? Either way, one of the best forms of damage control you can do is now is to make a point of being actively engaged for the entire length of each of the remaining meetings.

For the record, it’s not unreasonable for your employer to expect you to attend meetings on Fridays. Even hour-long ones, and even boring ones!

3. Job postings on LinkedIn with tons of applicants

I recently was informed that my department is likely going to be laid off, so I am job searching. When I look at jobs on LinkedIn sometimes the amount of people who have applied makes me not want to bother applying. The roles I’m looking at generally have 30 up to over 400 (!) applicants. Do you (or the readers) have any experience hiring on LinkedIn and know about what percent of applicants are actually viable candidates for these popular jobs? I feel like I would be wasting my time applying for something even if I think I’m qualified if there are already more than 50 applicants.

Every job I’ve ever hired for has always had at least 100 applicants and usually more (sometimes many times that). What’s different here is just that you can see it, whereas normally you don’t. It’s also relevant that LinkedIn makes it particularly easy to apply, so you’re going to get a larger-than-normal number of people who are just applying for whatever they see, even if they’re not particularly qualified. All of which is to say, ignore the numbers you see there and don’t let them get into your head; if you would have applied before you saw that, go ahead and apply still.

4. What’s the point of such a short Zoom interview?

When you get a call for a phone or Zoom interview and it’s scheduled for 30 minutes, but they ask like two basic questions and it’s over in less than 15 minutes after they read the job description, are they just fulfilling some legal requirement? Like they already have their person, internal or otherwise, and just have to “interview” three people or something and count the BS phone or Zoom “interview” that was clearly performative, but they can say they interviewed or screened several candidates? Like why waste anyone’s time or get their hopes up?

There are a bunch of possible explanations: the interviewer was terrible and had no idea what they were doing (and could even have been a relatively junior staffer who was handed some questions and asked to do initial screens without sufficient training), or they realized you’re not competitive with candidates they’re already moving forward but your interview was already scheduled, or something in the first 15 minutes of the interview convinced them you weren’t a strong enough match so they wrapped it up early … or sure, it could be that they have internal rules requiring them to interview X number of people but they already know who they want to hire (as we saw yesterday!). Candidates tend to be quick to assume that last one, but any of them are possible and there’s no way to know from the outside which it is.

5. Employee assistance programs — a success story

I thought you’d like to hear that as a result of your Interesting Jobs series interview with the employee assistance program (EAP) person in 2021, I realized that my employer’s EAP might be able to help me navigate a medication shortage. And they were! It was indirect help — they weren’t able to give me direct guidance on what local pharmacies had the meds in stock — but because I’d read the interview and seen the references to the wide range of situations they deal with and flexibility they have, I knew they would be able to help me figure out a plan to track down the meds other than “call all the pharmacies in Large Metro Area and ask, one by one.” I’d already struck out asking for help from the pediatrician’s office, my healthcare provider, and our usual (excellent!) local pharmacy, so when I called the EAP I said, “This isn’t really a standard scenario but I need help thinking it through because I’m completely overwhelmed.” Everyone at the EAP I spoke to was extremely kind and affirming and supportive.

Background to this is that there’s been an ongoing ADHD medication shortage for months. My daughter has pretty severe ADHD and pediatric stimulant prescriptions have additional hoops to jump through: providers can’t call in refills, I have to ask the doctor’s office to call in a refill every 30 days, and I can’t refill her prescription early. My own ADHD meds are also impacted by the shortages so I’m trying to hold down my job and make a million phone calls to track down her meds, and I’ve got much less executive function than normal as a result, hence my overwhelming paralysis — so the EAP was a godsend because I basically needed someone to help me calm down and figure out a plan and they were there for me.

I never would have thought to call an EAP with such a curveball question without your interview, though, so thank you so much for publishing it and thank you to the person who gave that very informative interview! Fingers crossed we won’t have too long a gap in medication coverage.

{ 593 comments… read them below }

    1. Barrie*

      It sounds like it’s ok for you to watch tv if it’s done at work in your cubicle, but there is such a strong push right now to end remote working and bring people back to the office- and a whole false narrative being shared that remote workers don’t work as hard or aren’t as committed – and it’s things like this that will probably start to be picked up by managers and used against people (eg, OPs manager might think OP spends Fridays watching tv and not paying attention in meetings, so now they need to work Fridays in the office). It’s a silly message and slip of attention, but might not just affect OP in the long run.

      1. A. Nonymous*

        Agreed. I keep some kind of familiar noise on in the background when I’m working from home, but that’s not quite the same as flat out not paying attention during a work meeting.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          It is a false narrative, because these people were doing the same things in the office, too. It’s being held against them only when working remotely, though.

          1. Ellie*

            What kind of office lets you watch TV shows during meetings? I’ve never heard of that.

            I like having the TV on in the background when I’m working from home too, but I’m not watching it, and I switch it off during meetings, because, you know… you’re supposed to be listening to the meeting?

        2. AD*

          What? What does this have to do with anything? One person watching TV in their *office cubicle* during a meeting has nothing to do with remote workers, their quality of work, or any “narrative” (although Blueberry Queen, you might want to be a little more discreet)

        3. Michelle Smith*

          I can’t work in quiet. Period, the end. I cannot focus if I don’t have background noise. It is a struggle at work (in office, I mean) because I am limited in what is acceptable to pull up using our work internet and in what I want other people being able to see me streaming (since our cubicle walls are comically low). “Blatantly admitting” sounds like someone is doing something inappropriate. But that’s just an assumption. If watching TV or having other noise on in the background helps people be more productive, then it doesn’t really matter that the optics are bad. If you looked at my internet usage while working from home, you might think I’m a slacker who does nothing but watch Twitch and YouTube all day and never works. But I actually have it up in the background at a low volume so I can focus on my assignments that otherwise bore me or that I would have trouble concentrating on without something else occupying my brain. That’s part of the beauty of WFH for me. I get super bored at the office, all I can really do is go to the bathroom or spin around in my chair and stare at the wall. If I get super bored, a spike of pain or fatigue, etc. at home? I can look over at my third monitor to a streaming video or take a 5 minute break to unload my dishwasher and stretch my legs, and then come back to my work recharged and more productive than if I’d just tried to muddle through.

          1. FrivYeti*

            I can’t speak for everyone, but watching TV in the background or listening to music or what have you while you’re working feels immensely different to me than doing it *during a meeting*.

        4. Irish Teacher.*

          The reason it’s false is because of the impression that people are more likely to work less hard or be less committed when working from home, whereas it is quite likely that a lot of those who don’t work hard at home weren’t working hard in the office either. Plus, while some people may work less hard at home, others are going to work harder.

          The fact that some people mention taking breaks when working at home is not evidence that, on average, most people take more breaks at home than in the office. For one thing, you are dealing with confirmation bias. If this thread were discussing ways of avoiding work in the office, I bet you would get people who would give examples of doing that too.

          1. Your Mate in Oz*

            Back when I worked in the office we’d spend a lot of time making cups of tea and chatting. It was only vaguely work related but no-one had a problem with it.

            I track my hours for my own reasons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_software_process) and I know that I spend about the same amount of time working now as before. What’s different is that my overhead time is more enjoyable when I’m at home and able to go and play in the garden or tease the chickens or whatever. Productivity is similar (it’s been consistent for ~10 years but varies up and down depending on how interesting the specific task is)

            My workplace is on board with WFH and the whole engineering staff are able/encouraged to do so when it suits them.

        5. tinyhipsterboy*

          I mean, there’s a difference between “some people slack off when WFH” and “most WFH staff is unproductive and spends their time slacking off.” The false narrative is that WFH as a whole leads to staff shirking their duties to watch TV, etc.

      2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        Rule of thumb: Don’t post ANYTHING (especially on a workplace program!) that you wouldn’t want to wind up in your personnel file. I’ve lost count of the number of executives, politicians, and just plain celebrities-in-general whose lives and careers have been blown out of the water after their spectacularly offensive/inappropriate posts have been discovered and revealed to the public at large!

        Seriously, folks: If you don’t want your manager and the head of HR to see it, don’t post it.

        1. There You Are*

          WhatsApp for messages similar to: “Thanks to the new CEO’s stupid policies, I just started my job search.”

          Phone calls for stuff like, “The CEO is spouting B.S. because his head is up his ***.”

      3. SansaJacklyn*

        What’s interesting is that I did the same non amount of work when I was in the office. I would be surfing the internet, on my phone, going for walks. Now I actually am more focused because I don’t have to pretend as much. BTW, I am a top performer, I just get bored and distracted easily and can’t really sit all day. March Madness was apparently the least productive time of year, and that was when everyone was in offices, because they are watching games, talking about it.

        But the hour long talks with people at the office don’t get noticed as much. Like that’s fine, but tuning out of friday afternoon meetings is not? Of course you have to hide it though. It’s just perception unfortunately. You need to play the game, be the very best at your job and hide the non-work. Facts of life.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          This is exactly it. Not having to mask all day every day has freed up a lot of my brain power and enables me to get things done in a shorter period of time than if I was also struggling to look productive enough at the office.

          Although if we’re being honest, I used to watch TV sometimes in the office too, particularly when doing data entry because otherwise I would get so bored that I would make mistakes. But at home I don’t have to worry that I’m going to get judged poorly for it or that the website I’m using will get blocked by IT as taking up too much bandwidth for “non-work activity.”

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I guess I should be more clear, I mean masking in the neurodivergence sense not COVID-related PPE.

        2. not nice, don't care*

          Oh my yes. Pre-pandemic, so many of my coworkers spent a large chunk of their days wandering & chatting, while other forms of fucking off (i.e. anything internet/phone-related) were viewed negatively.

      1. Phryne*

        Yeah. Everybody has off days when you just can’t keep your focus on a long meeting, and who does not slip in a little recreation or housework when working at home if things are slow. But a full out ‘I consider work meetings on Friday an unnecessary interruption of my slacking off and watching shows on the bosses time activities’ is not really making you look good.

          1. Phryne*

            Thanks :) I’ve been using this name as an online alias on and off since long before I was aware of the Phryne Fisher stories, but I do love those so I am definitely not unhappy with that association.
            The first Phryne was a historical figure from 4th century BC/BCE Ancient Greece, I got the name originally from a who’s who in antiquity as a history student at uni.

        1. Bro George*

          Heck, I feel bad that I’m on *this* site while waiting for a meeting to kick off, and this site actually makes me better at my job. I have a two hour commute each way (office moved last year). I hate that people might mess up WFH for me.

        2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          Exactly this. When I have a week full of meetings, it means I am working into the evening to get any actual work done during the week. 4 straight days of that, my Friday WFH involves a lot of slacking off–mostly because my brain in exhausted. I do housework, get caught up on TV, and respond to any emails or urgent things that come in, but otherwise don’t try and start any task I know I don’t have the bandwidth to actually do well.

          I would be doing the same in the office, but it would be staring at documents re-reading the same paragraphs, knowing I am not able to make a substantive start on anything, and listening to music.

          I guess it “looks” like I am accomplishing things in the office, but really, the “slacking off” at home actually improves my work. I can take care of the chores I would otherwise spend the weekend doing. This allows me to spend my weekend decompressing so I am able to kick off the next week on the right foot and get more done on Mondays.

      2. Gracie*

        I’m getting flashbacks to the “what do I do with my employee who keeps sleeping in meetings” post, where Alison had to lock the comments and post a disclaimer of ‘the advice people are giving in comments is so bizarrely off-base for any average job that I can’t in good conscience let this go on’, because so many people were vehemently insisting that no meetings should be scheduled after lunch and the employer should never have boring meetings, otherwise it’s their own fault if employees sleep through them

      3. BrookeFromTheOffice*

        Exactly! I can’t believe any professional person would do this, admit to it, or encourage others to do the same.

        It has the energy of the customer service team we had to take personal phones away from because they were ignoring calls from customers to watch TikToks.

        1. Antilles*

          That’s absolutely not the same scenario. A customer service team ignoring customer calls and effectively refusing to do a key part of their job is completely different than not paying attention in a generic 200-person meeting.
          Having been in such calls, I’m suspecting there’s a lot of people on that call who sit on mute the entire time and most of the information is irrelevant to them (great for the Portland office that they made a huge sale but doesn’t really impact me), and could basically zone out for long stretches without impacting anything whatsoever…but you’re required to be there anyways.
          OP shouldn’t be watching TV instead of the meeting, at least use the time to answer some emails or review a report. But it’s certainly not equivalent to a customer service team ignoring customers.

            1. StressedButOkay*

              I’m fully remote and, most of the time, I have music on the in the background but sometimes I’ll put a marathon of something on TV on. I’m not “watching” watching it but the background noise helps me focus. So ~maybe~ that’s what OP was doing.

              I can’t have anything running when I’m in a meeting, even if I’m a casual listener. Multi-tasking on work, god, yes – that hour nonsense meeting on Friday OP was in would be PERFECT for getting things done where no one could bother me.

              1. DenimChicken*

                I do this too for writing tasks. The background noise tricks my brain into thinking the work is more stimulating. My therapist actually suggested it when I was having focus issues.

              2. I am Emily's failing memory*

                I suppose everyone has to do paperwork at least once in a while, but I don’t usually associate Sales with being a field where people do a lot of the kind of rote project work that can be done with half attention. I’ve seen it more tends to involve a lot of communication with other humans (which is one of the hardest things to do with divided attention) and sometimes responsibility for filling out contract templates paperwork for a prospective/new client (where you’d really want them to be focused on remembering any special terms that were negotiated and getting the details right).

                On the other hand, “they were watching TV when they half-assedly slapped this together,” could certainly explain a lot of the really terrible cold sales emails I get, where they’ve spelled our company name wrong, or it’s a badly disguised form letter where they couldn’t even make sure the 4 words they personalized with our name and line of business were the same font or size as the rest of the words in the template.

                1. Nina*

                  My brain is such that I really, really cannot focus unless I have a fair amount of background ‘attention-grabber’. Heavy metal is good, dead silence is… terrible. Heck, I ‘watched’ all of Supernatural twice while I was writing up my postgrad thesis. I think of it as akin to having an audio input/output channel, a couple visual channels, a shallow attention/tactile channel, and a deep attention channel, and they all need to be occupied for any of them to work properly. Some people genuinely do work better with something in the background.

              3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

                So, about half the people in my company, as part of their job, have to listen to music, watch videos, read social media, etc. nearly all day.

                The benefit I have found is if someone shares their screen at a meeting and Facebook, Netflix, or Reddit are also clearly open, no one cares. It would be too hard to monitor when someone is using something for “work” or “personal”–also people have a lot of overlap between their personal interests and professional work. So everyone just takes the position that this simply isn’t an issue.

            2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              If it’s during her working hours, it’s still not great!
              I mean, once I’d realised that breaking productivity records wasn’t going to get me a pay rise or even a measly bonus, I just got on with my volunteer work once I’d hit my targets. But if a higher-up had cottoned on to that, I would never have written in to Alison, I’d simply consider any remarks made to serve me right.

          1. Shoryl*

            I hate all hands meetings. because several people are going to miss them due to normal reasons to be out of office, the deck has to be fully informative. I have a metrics based job, so I work through those meetings, and glance at the agenda and read the parts of the deck that are relevant and/or interesting to me.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      With the caveat that I understand LW’s post was an accident, please please don’t do stuff like this. Seriously, it takes one manager seeing something like this to start pulling back remote work in their departments. My organization just went to 4 in / 1 remote (of course, right after I was hired on a 3/2 hybrid schedule) and it’s because of the perception by some people in management that remote workers aren’t working. I have no idea if someone did something like this, but if I found out we were getting remote work yanked because someone thought it was cute to say something like this, I would be livid.

      1. Crew2013*

        The worst is that people spend SO MUCH time at an office also not working. The talking…ahhhh the talking. Going to the bathroom and then coming back to the bathroom 4 minutes later and the same people are gabbing in the hall. People on their phones streaming whatever all day. Planning their kids football practice jersey sale for hours on the phone. Surfing the internet and planning vacations.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I was wondering why you were being so harsh about quick conversations! 45 minutes is a more objectionable amount of time than 4.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          That’s true, but it doesn’t matter. The backlash over WFH has very little to do with productivity.

      2. Le Sigh*

        I feel like the perception that remote workers aren’t working exists regardless of whether it’s true or not. It’s not a secret that plenty of people in management are devoted butts in seats followers, and are suspicious even if they have evidence that overall productivity is the same or improved. And a lot of them are irritated that COVID forced their hand, so they’ll look for any angle to justify revoking it — if it wasn’t OP’s message, it would be something else. Or bc they’ve decided it isn’t working in their eyes, they don’t like it, etc. We have almost 4 years of evidence of the upsides and pitfalls of remote work, and can track these things to make sure their team is still producing. If they’re reasonable, they’ll realize it’s OP that has the issue and maybe they just revoke her remote approval.

        1. Greg*

          At the beginning of the pandemic, after our office (very reluctantly) sent everyone home, I was playing around with different Zoom backgrounds. There was one I really liked of a beach with a looping animation of waves crashing on the shore and palm trees swaying in the breeze. I stopped using it because I didn’t want to send the signal, even subconsciously, that I was spending my workday on the beach.

          Meanwhile, about a month in, a coworker started going back to the office because he was in a power struggle with our boss and worried he might lose his job. We all told him not to do it because management would use that against the rest of us, and sure enough, by May 2020 they were telling us we had to come back in and citing the fact that he was already coming in as one of the reasons

          1. Katara's side braids*

            Yup. And that perception among management is one of the reasons why many in the pro-WFH crowd are unfairly defensive and hostile when someone mentions a preference for working in the office. In many places, the in-office norm has such a strong gravitational pull among management that anyone who prefers in-person work is perceived as dragging down those attempting to leave its orbit.

        2. Your Mate in Oz*

          And sadly not everyone can change jobs to get away from those managers.

          I was doing some casual job hunting not so long ago, by chatting to people who do similar work, and quickly concluded that it would be hard to find a better job than what I have now. My chats would have been more useful as a way to recruit new coworkers. It’s very much trading significantly worse working conditions for slightly more pay (especially after deducting commute costs and having to buy proper office clothes)

          Meanwhile there was much surprise when the business owner turned up in the office the other day. I didn’t realise it (because I never go there), but he’s been WFH for the last year+ as well. The office chat just exploded!

  1. Viki*

    #2 It’s not great. I had a colleague message in the Teams meeting everyone was in “It’s not that f****ing hard. Just do it.”, when in fact, they were misunderstanding the limitations of a system. They meant to send it in a private chat, but still damage is done. It was unprofessional and made the project hard to complete.

    You have to show up, fully attentive to the meetings, full stop. And maybe use a different platform for private messaging.

    Also to make you feel better, my manager was sharing his screen, when we were in a cross department team and the leader was sprouting bs about how he was having issues with another department, because they had no visibility, and I messaged my manager telling him the guy was full of it, because I had been in constant communication with that other department’s leadership team to actively work on the issue. That message stayed on screen for what felt like forever, and I internally died.

    1. Viette*

      Very much agreed that OP’s mis-sent message is a mistake that may durably ding her reputation. The content is not great, but the judgment of sending it on office Slack, during the meeting, is worse.

      As a manager I wouldn’t necessarily think, “I’m not bringing her on this cool project because she wanted to watch Real Housewives instead of doing work” so much as I’d think, “I’m not bringing her on this cool project because she doesn’t know which thoughts absolutely need to stay INSIDE her head at a given time.”

      It’s hardly career-ending, but yeah. Time to double down on decorum for a while to show you’re not always like that.

      1. KateM*

        It’s not only “she wanted to watch” IMO, it’s “she wanted to *continue* watching” which pretty clearly says that before the meeting, she *was* watching TV instead of working.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          That depends on the time – I could legimately be doing almost anything right before a 9am or 1pm or 2pm meeting.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, but she’s admitted to doing a specific non-work thing. If she was complaining about having too many TPS reports to do to break for the meeting, that would be reasonable. But calling out specifically that she was watching guilty pleasure TV…that’s not cool.

        2. Stuckincrazyjob*

          You know I assumed that she was working with tv in the background! I listen to podcasts and type things. Then again management is super multi tasking in meeting, doing two meetings, doing reports, talking to me on the phone ( sorry guys!) So we’re flexible. We’re flexible

          1. Bast*

            Exactly! I know plenty of people who listen to the radio, a podcast, or otherwise have some sort of noise on in the background because they just cannot work in silence. During WFH, I’m sure for many people it was the TV. If someone is otherwise getting work done and their performance is not suffering, it wouldn’t be a big deal to me.

            1. Crew2013*

              I literally don’t care what people do as long as their work is great, they are great teammates and I can trust them, etc. Now, if it’s someone whose work is not good…thats a whole other story. Otherwise, just let adults do what they want if they are making our company millions of dollars, are helpful and kind, and will step in to do extra if needed. But maybe they watch tv too…

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

            That’s what I assumed. I don’t think she’s actually full on watching TV, just has it on in the background and is half paying attention to i

            1. AngryOctopus*

              I mean, yes, I do the same with MST3K episodes, BUT, saying in a message that you want to “get back to watching TV” is Not Good Optics for a whole company message. Your friend likely knows you’re joking/have it on in the background. The other 198 people in the meeting are like “So sorry this meeting is interrupting your TV watching schedule, OP” (even if they don’t actually say anything, I’d guess a large number of people who saw it immediately had a thought like that).

            2. MassMatt*

              The LW says they were going to say something early in the meeting to avoid getting called on later and being distracted from watching the TV show. That to me indicates the LW was far more than having it on in the background; they were watching TV and had the MEETING on in the background.

              There are so many stories both here and all over the internet about people seemingly being proud of doing the bare minimum at work, watching TV is just one example. The job market overall has been strong for o several years and everyone has been struggling to adjust to WFH and hybrid schedules.

              But at some point the pendulum is going to swing the other way and it will be obvious who is getting work done (whether in office or at home) and who is watching TV or otherwise not productive, and that pendulum will hit hard.

              Managers and owners who dislike WFH (rightly or wrongly) will find it easy to make a de facto change in policy by simply focusing layoffs on those employees. The days of watching Real Housewives at work are numbered.

              1. Michelle Smith*

                The meeting was mandatory, but come on. Let’s not pretend we all haven’t been subjected to mandatory meetings where we really did not need to be there and would rather be doing literally anything else.

                The problem is not the TV watching IMO, it’s the Slack message that never should have been sent.

                LW, next time, use a text message from a personal number to a personal number. Not work channels.

                1. Paulina*

                  I’ve certainly been part of meetings that I wondered why I was on the list. But weekly one-hour all-hands (or round-robin) check-ins aren’t any of those, especially if they’re ones that I would often be expected to speak in.

                  OP was basically talking about how to fake participating in their weekly meeting, one in which they’re expected to be both speaking and listening. And one hour is not very long as meetings go, especially if everyone is supposed to be giving updates.

                2. MigraineMonth*

                  @ Yeah, I’m of the opinion that nothing gets accomplished after the meeting has passed the 90 minute mark, but even I don’t complain about 1-hour meetings.

                  I once had three consecutive days with 6 hours of meetings scheduled each day. The people scheduling the meetings called it “adventure week”.

              2. NotBatman*

                I agree that “I would rather be watching a TV show right now” would be an embarrassing but non-terrible thing to say. But the message implies “I plan to check out of this meeting in order to turn my attention back to the TV” which is not something you want to say at work.

                Also: if someone was presenting at the time when OP2’s message went out, they might want to send an apology to the person who was speaking. If I saw that while presenting at a meeting, I’d be horribly ashamed and worry it was a comment on my speaking ability.

                1. Paulina*

                  It also seems to be a meeting where everyone is supposed to be giving updates, hence OP volunteering to go first. Usually in these types of meetings, everyone is supposed to be listening to everyone else’s updates so that everyone knows what everyone else is dealing with. OP’s message says that they don’t listen to those.

          3. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

            Same. I’ve found that it actually keeps me MORE productive when coding to have something on in the background. If I’m waiting for code to run for 2 minutes, I’m more productive if I can briefly shift my attention to an already-running piece of media than e.g. checking social media, which by the time I pull myself away from, usually more time has elapsed than my code needed.

      2. Baunilha*

        Right, the Real Housewives things was bad enough, though context matters. (Like OP had it on background while still participating in the meeting and was making a joke) But it’s the message sent in a company medium, even if it was meant to be private, that would give me pause.

        If anything, I think OP is underthinking this. They should apologize to the manager and give context, if there’s any.

      3. ferrina*

        “I’m not bringing her on this cool project because she doesn’t know which thoughts absolutely need to stay INSIDE her head at a given time.”

        Exactly this. Some projects- usually the more interesting one- require a certain level of good judgement. This is clearly not good judgement.
        (Fairness to OP- I think many of us have sent the wrong Slack message to the wrong channel, and many of us have definitely said indiscrete things to friends. Unfortunately this is bad enough that a single instance takes a long time to recover from.)

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I know I’ve struggled with this, but if it’s snarky or indiscreet, don’t say it in a work chat! Maybe you send it to the right person, that person isn’t sharing their screen with anyone else and no one sees the message over their shoulder. It can still come back to haunt you if IT has to retrieve something or there’s any kind of open records request/subpoena.

          If it’s snarky: keep it in, tell it to your SO, tell it to your cat, or maaaybe say it verbally to a coworker (as long as it isn’t in a recorded meeting).

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I feel like a lot of people have had thoughts in their heads about their use of time in meetings but this usually relates to their busyness, like “I’m drowning in deadlines and this could have been an email” or “if A Team we are going over their heroics again, I’m going to finish my reports”. But you can’t put that kind of thing in writing on company platforms at all – your company can see all of that anyway! I think it’s significantly worse to be complaining about a meeting keeping you away from the television…. a lot of people will give the benefit of the doubt of it being a joke, but it isn’t terrific. Being overhead saying something to a friend is less of an issue for the reasons that most people see it as poor judgement to write stuff on company platforms, and to be ‘passing notes’ in meetings, rather than internally rolling your eyes is just a bad idea too. I think the OP needs to get a lot more invested in meetings (like, don’t over correct but find a way to better tune in) as a goal to move past this, honestly.

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Fear of something like this happening (not TV, I can’t watch things as background when working, but random rants about the meeting) are why I text my friend/colleague rather than use Teams! The terror of the wrong person seeing it…

        1. Engineer*

          Not to mention that a text means no paper trail, as it were. Teams and company email can be read by company but your personal texts cannot.

          1. Natebrarian*

            And with Zoom the meeting host has access to the *entire* chat transcript. Even the private ones.

              1. Gyne*

                It may not be immediately available to the host but I would err on the assumption that anything written and sent over company media of any kind is stored somewhere and retrievable if needed.

            1. Kaiko*

              Yeah, that’s an urban legend. I can’t see the private DMs or the ones that are sent inside breakout rooms.

            2. A. Nonymous*

              Another person chiming in: I’ve never, ever had the option to access private chats in a zoom meeting. Ever.

          2. DJ Abbott*

            And they are there forever. Yesterday I came across Teams messages from more than a year ago, with unpleasant memories. Your company can scroll back and read the messages at any time.
            One time, my colleague sent me a Teams message that turned out to be incorrect. She asked me to delete it, and I wasn’t able to. Apparently only SysAdmins or managers can do that. So again, it’s there forever and can’t be deleted. Luckily it’s innocuous, and the messages about not being able to delete it are there too.

          3. Missy*

            I work in government with a state with exceptionally broad open record laws and it has made me treat every work communication like it is going to be read in open court. Teams messages. Emails. Everything.

            1. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

              Fellow state government employee here. That was literally the first onboarding meeting I had here – “Here’s your state-issued phone. You’re getting this so you can keep work communications off your personal phone and thus shield them from FOIA. For the communications on here, don’t send anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper.”

        2. amoeba*

          Also depends on the meeting… we’ve had a lot of townhalls where nobody would bat an eye over “oh, I was writing email and not really listening”. Hell, I’ve said that to my boss! But those are all employee HR things without much useful content and also optional, anyway.

          If it’s a meeting where your colleagues actually want your input, even if it’s a but boring or at an inconvenient time, that’s not a good statement, and definitely not in writing.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I also think “I was writing e-mails” comes across a little differently than “I was watching Real Housewives.” The former could be work related while the latter clearly isn’t.

          2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            Yeah, if the message was “This morning I got an email from Client X, so I volunteered to go first so I can get back to drafting the response!” It would probably would have just been an awkward moment. It is easy enough to assume that LW and their coworker were discussing Client X or a related work topic, that responding to the email is important, and that LW’s big mistake was putting it in the wrong chat–not her prioritizing the email over listening to her colleagues presentations.

        3. Laura*

          My spouse and I work for the same company and it’s definitely easier to message on teams during the day but anything other than the most innocuous schedule related messages happen through text for this reason.

    3. ILoveLlamas*

      Yeah, this is why when I am being snarky I will TEXT my work bestie on their cell phone so there is no chance of my snark popping up on someone’s shared screen or accidentally messaging the wrong person/group. I speak from experience….

  2. Eric*

    #3, having hired through LinkedIn before, I can confidently say that most of the applicants aren’t remotely qualified for the job. Like not anywhere close. so if you are qualified, don’t let the numbers scare you off.

    1. Working*

      I was coming here to say that.

      The signal-noise ratio for LinkedIn job ads is terrible.

      If you are qualified for the role, pls don’t be deterred.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Also, if you click on “Apply now” and LinkedIn asks if you want to share your profile with the recruiter a and then direct you to the company’s site for the actual application and you look at the real job description and decide not to make a full application, it counts that as an application! It bears zero relationship to the number of real applicants.

      1. amoeba*

        Oh, really? That’s very good to know and quite reassuring – the jobs in my field never have an “easy apply” function, the “apply now” button just takes you to the job posting. And they very often have 200+ applicants. Good to hear that doesn’t reflect the actual numbers!

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yes really, I was coming to say the same thing. I really wish you had the option to turn it off as the recruiter, frankly, because it IS really offputting to candidates and makes your internal teams who see it think you’re working with a different pool than you actually are.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          One time, I thought clicking “apply now” was going to get me some more information but LinkedIn was just like, “Great! We’ve submitted your application!” I have no idea what went through to the company, but it definitely was not how I wanted to present myself. I’ve never tried to apply through LI again.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            I think if you’ve uploaded a CV to the site, they send that, with a link to your profile there.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I hate this, because it saves the resume you uploaded last, and that might have been tweaked for a totally different position.

              I tried to avoid applying through LinkedIn and would just go to the company website or look for the same job on Indeed since it has a more easily controlled application interface. But if that was the only platform they used, I was out of luck.

            2. Elitist Semicolon*

              There’s a setting in “Data and privacy” that will turn this off. I had to do that earlier this week for this exact reason.

      2. Media Monkey*

        i was about to say this – i think that metric is clicks on the “apply now” button. and i don’t know about you but i have often accounted for 3 or 4 of those applications by clicking to read the full job spec (or if it’s a recruiter, to find out who the employer is, or if it’s a holding comapny ad, clicking to see that it’s a job i have already applied for), see what needs to be input so i know what to gather together and then go back to fill it in later.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          We don’t have easy apply turned on and it counts every person who clicks through simply to get to our website or whatever they’re doing.

        2. Itsa Me, Mario*

          This is a great point. I’ll often click “apply now” again when I’m already well into the hiring process, to refresh my memory on some aspect of the job description. I’m probably like 5 of those 200 applications!

      3. Janey-Jane*

        Yes, I was coming here to echo that! LinkedIn basically counts a click as an apply. I click on them all the time demoing how to use LinkedIn. The numbers aren’t remotely reliable.

        (And as Alison said, most positions I’ve interviewed regularly had over 100 folks. You just didn’t know it).

    3. Action Kate*

      Oh thank goodness someone asked about this. I see LI ads with over 1,000 applicants and I’ve closed the ad without reading further. It’s actually really good to know I should keep going!

      1. Mockingjay*

        I used LinkedIn to look for jobs, but I always went to the company website to apply. I can’t tell you how many jobs LI lists as available when the corporate website has closed the position.

        LI is a good sifting tool but shouldn’t be the only tool when job searching.

        1. Le Sigh*

          I get emails all of the time from LinkedIn telling me I should apply for a job, and when I click through, it turns out the job has been open for two months and just closed the application process. So helpful.

      2. LMC*

        Not to humble brag (ok, maybe a teensy bit) but I interviewed with an employer that said they got over 500 applications, and they narrowed it down to around 7 people, including myself. And I ended up getting the job! If you’re qualified, just apply and don’t let those numbers scare you – you never know what might happen.

    4. Also-ADHD*

      Yeah my org usually gets 100+ applications in a day or two and then holds to cull and often we find 80-90% have no discernible even tenuous relationship to the job/field/anything, many lack basic requirements (some roles even though remote must be US residents, basic education, etc), and we can dump 80-95 of every 100 resumes without even moving them to committees to evaluate. I also work in a portfolio based field and the last position we were hiring for required a portfolio of work related to our field or work submission of some form (hypothetical, real with permission, etc). Literally, we had multiple 100+ rounds of applications and less than 20 people with either experience in the field or a portfolio and experience that made sense to want to move into our field (this was over a month of posting). By the time we hired someone (this is a well paying remote job at a “lower” individual contributor level that requires at least a Bachelors and professional experience but not experience in the same job, we take people with adjacent experience, but since it’s portfolio based, it’s skills based too), we had no other acceptable candidates at all and hired a compromise frankly who was still learning a few things we’d hoped to find but has a good attitude. And no one else we looked at who was interested in FT work at this level (we had one turn down who wanted a more Senior role ever though they make less than we pay our Juniors as a Senior in the field, we had one leave the process because we only do FT and work from the US not remote from anywhere, other than that, no one was remotely qualified—like literally couldn’t use the software, couldn’t write the content we write, couldn’t answer basic questions if they made it to interviews). And all told, we got 972 applications. I was on the committee that looked at resumes and portfolios and we reviewed 123. We moved 31 people to HR interviews, 15 people to actual interviews, and had 2 in final round. Now, specialized field, to a degree, but applying doesn’t mean anything for jobs that require any kind of particular skill or experience. Especially since other companies did RTO, people apply to all kinds of jobs at our company that make no sense (like even positions that legally require certifications and degrees they don’t have, including medical and legal ones, as I understand it).

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > we had one turn down who wanted a more Senior role ever though they make less than we pay our Juniors as a Senior in the field

        That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Remember that (if they’d accepted the job) when the time comes to leave you and look for other opportunities, their resume would seem to show that they’d gone from “Senior X” to “Junior X”. Yes, this can be explained in a cover letter or at interview if you get the interview, or even on the resume itself, but it does at quick glance look like taking a lower position. If they had other options it is not unreasonable to turn down the one that will arguably make it harder in the future.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Yes, this. I once applied for a lower level job after I got my layoff notice. The hiring manager said they would like to offer me the position but they wouldn’t do so because their experience was that I’d jump as soon as I found a higher level position. He added that I probably wouldn’t be happy as a lower level contributor, and I wouldn’t want to keep explaining the level drop on my resume either. At that point, I had already gotten picked back up by my old company, but he probably was right.

      2. MassMatt*

        When I see people complaining that they have applied to tons of jobs (as in a recent letter) I wonder whether they are spamming their resume everywhere. Since they usually give a very high number such as 300 applications, I am inclined to think yes.

        Applications and résumé’s from people with completely different background, skills, and experience, absent a cover letter addressing why they should be considered, are the first tossed. Likewise résumés with no cover letters, or very generic cover letters that don’t explain why they are a good fit for this particular job. Everyone I know who hires has information about what they are looking for in the posting, and applications that don’t address those needs are tossed also.

        I get that it’s work to tailor things to each job, and you can’t have 50 versions of your resume, but if you aren’t doing some work to stand out you are going to get passed over, even for many entry level jobs.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      Second-hand information, but I have a friend who is a manager and says that LinkedIn Easy Apply tends to mess up the resume formatting quite badly. So if you take the extra time to apply through the posting on the company’s career page (even if you initially saw the job ad on LinkedIn), your application will (1) be more complete than the people who used Easy Apply and (2) will generally look better so most hiring managers will be more inclined to read your application materials.

      1. AnonPi*

        Good to know! I have rarely used the easy apply, but will avoid it in that case. Sucks that it does that.

    6. aubrey*

      Yes, that’s been my experience too. The majority are clearly just posting their resume to every job on the platform. I get excited when I see an actual viable candidate!

    7. Artemesia*

      Heck I hired for a role requiring a PhD and particular kinds of experience and always had at least 200 applicants at least 100 of which I dismissed immediately. Of the remaining 100 with some vestige of qualifications, it was easy to winnow to about 15 and then 10 for final consideration and then 6 or so for phone screen. The biggest risk to huge numbers if that organizations use rigid or machine criteria and dismiss strong candidates that don’t tick a less important box.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        I was hiring for a similar role with an education/professional requirement (MD or PhD) and specific skill set, and had the same experience. I could eliminate people in about 5 seconds. I am sure they all thought it was auto-rejection but, no, my peoples, if there’s a must have and you don’t have it, then it’s really easy to eliminate you.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      Absolutely. Also, while I’ve posted roles on LinkedIn have 100s of applicants (from what LinkedIn says), I’ve also seen that many are weeded out before they get to the applicant tracking software (eg. if they are not legal to work in the region).

    9. I am Emily's failing memory*

      Yep, this is one of the consequences of unemployment programs that require out-of-work beneficiaries to demonstrate that they’ve applied for a certain number of jobs every week to remain eligible for payments. Nothing says the jobs they apply for must be in their field or a very good match, but most do require beneficiaries to accept any “suitable offer” they receive. So if there just aren’t enough openings in a mid/late career professional worker’s field, close to their experience level, to apply to X per week, then rather than apply for relevant but low-experience jobs that would be a big step backwards within their own career, many will instead apply to jobs they’re totally unqualified for, to meet the minimum number of applications required without the risk of getting an offer they’d be forced to accept for a role that would hurt their long-term trajectory.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I had a friend who did this, because he and his coworkers would get “laid off” over the winter season (govt. job in Alaska), but in order to collect unemployment, they had to show they were applying for jobs. They didn’t want/need a job, so they weren’t going to apply to anything remotely possible for getting an interview. They just had to do it for the unemployment for the 2 months. As you said, it’s a consequence of a system that requires you to be applying AND that you HAVE to accept a suitable offer. If I know my job is coming back in 6 weeks, I’m not looking for something that might want to hire me. I’m going to blanket out apps to CEO and medical director jobs, or jobs I’m clearly not qualified for, because it’s just a check box.

      2. J*

        I was just looking for someone else to point that out. When I lost my job in 2020, I had to apply for a certain number of jobs a week. But by summer I’d lined up a job, I just had to wait for 1) the grant to start and 2) an attorney hire so someone could supervise me. It took a while but I was willing to wait and had a formal acceptance and start date on file. That didn’t matter to the state- I still needed to log 3 applications a week. LinkedIn was the easiest way – I could submit to something in a second instead of going through a Taleo system that demanded every details of my life. I definitely couldn’t risk getting an offer because I’d have to accept it and bump the much better offer I had in the pipeline. So I’d choose something way outside my expertise but at the cusp of what the state would allow me to apply for and just press “apply” to 3 on Monday for 7 weeks straight.

    10. Baunilha*

      A department I work with recently had over SEVEN THOUSAND applicants. The vast majority of them didn’t fit the job requirements, so the pool of actual viable candidates was a lot smaller. OP, go ahead and apply.

    11. MassMatt*

      The drawback of it being easier and cheaper than ever before to find jobs all over the country (world, really) and apply for them means the floodgate opens for anyone and everyone to basically flood employers with applications.

      It’s pretty much like spam. It used to cost money to buy names and addresses and send physical junk mail, bogus sweepstakes offers, scams, etc. Now it’s easy to send millions of emails. The hit ratio is extremely low, but if they get just one hit per 100,000 they make money when the up front cost is so low.

    12. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      As someone who has been on several hiring committees, most of the internet jobsites generate far more “applicants” than are actually applying.

      70% of the applicants we get “submitted” their application as far as hitting the button that uploaded the resume to kick off the application process, but they never go farther. They never finish the applications. Many of them are not remotely qualified, it just happened to match some keyword search so the platform suggested it.

    13. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I’ve always wondered, along the lines of the rumor that up to half of internet traffic at this point is bots, whether all of those LinkedIn applications are strictly real people with real intentions toward the positions in question.

  3. Grilledcheeser*

    The numbers of applicants on LinkedIn are actually just the number of people who clicked the link, not actually how many truly applied for the job. Multiple recruiters that I follow there have said those numbers mean nothing & job-hunters should ignore them.

    1. Jill Swinburne*

      Yeah, I applied for a role there just last week and it showed the number tick over (lucky 13, hooray) when I hit the Apply button, not when I actually submitted it.

      1. AamAdmi*

        I wouldn’t trust the number LinkedIn is showing. Those stats are likely just clicks and not applications. The positions I post on on my employer’s carrers page always show up on LinkedIn. I have noticed for example, LinkedIn stats saying 20 applicants for one of my posting while I only have 2 applications on our career portal. I don’t even know how someone would apply to a job directly on LinkedIn when we only accept applications through the employer’s portal.

        1. Jill Swinburne*

          This one was definitely apply through LI, no careers portal – but I see what you’re saying!

          1. TruetalesfromHR*

            Even when there is no portal, just click on the apply now button without completing the submission of your resume will result in LinkedIn counting that in the stats.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, it feels like when you’re shopping on a website and it says like “26 other people have this in their cart!” to make you feel like you should buy it lol.

  4. HA2*

    #2 – IMO the effect on your image probably depends on your reputation and your seniority in the company. If everyone knows you’re a top performer, good chance people will disregard it as a joke that got sent to the wrong audience. (Lots of people joke about how meetings are boring, I think? That’s a standard corporate-culture complaint.) …but if you’re already having performance issues and/or don’t contribute in meetings, then it would reflect poorly on you, since it would reinforce that image.

      1. BrookeFromTheOffice*

        The fact that she and her “best friend” routinely say these unprofessional things to one another (via Slack, to boot!) is likely indicative of a larger issue in her employment.

        1. Czhorat*

          I agree, and it’s not a great habit overall. There’s a balance between healthy venting steam and the kind of “I hate it here and want to zone out and watch TV rather than work” attitude.

          You know the old adage “fake it ’til you make it”? This is the opposite; the more you play the job-hating slacker with your friend the more that’s likely what you’ll become. That other people saw it makes it exponentially worse.

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah I don’t want to double down on you OP but I do want to stress that nothing sent through your company slack is truly private. Even if you don’t think IT or management checks your private IMs, that could change at any time. Think about how you’re using these channels.

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      I was a little surprised that Alison didn’t mention this. Sure, it’s still not a great thing to have happen either way, but your reputation from before it happened may help soften the blow if you can demonstrate that it was an out of character lapse in judgment, you recognize and own the mistake, and then you make sure it doesn’t happen again and are scrupulously professional for a while.

      I’m *also* surprised at the number of people who are aghast or reading into that OP2 mentioned not liking meetings on Fridays. Everyone I’ve ever worked with has hated meetings on Fridays and they’ve said it to each other, and it’s never once been treated as anything other than the same blowing off steam as “well, it sucks, but it needs to happen so lets get it done…”

    2. Nonke John*

      I think this is exactly right, HA2. Fortunately for you, LW2, you didn’t actually spell out that you thought the meeting was (or, worse, single out any attendees as) repetitive and annoying. If you’re a high performer with a generally positive attitude, you can probably just assure your manager and others who commented that you were making a running inside joke with your work buddy, that you didn’t check the recipient list because it was so obviously benign and not serious, and that now that this happened you would never do anything like that on another call (especially with clients if that’s an issue). Being extra-diligent about your own contributions to this standing meeting from here on would probably be a good idea, too.

      If shirking cynically through Fridays with your attention on reality TV is your habit, though, your colleagues have almost certainly noticed, and you’ll need to fix that by doing better.

  5. Lilo*

    Unless your employer has some clear reporting or no tolerance requirement, there’s no reason to think George’s response would blow back on you. Drug testing Melanie was an appropriate response to verify her story. Though, her judgment is very questionable (putting drugs in your work desk for any reason) and I assume this is a “one and only chance” moment.

    1. Viette*

      Yeah, he drug tested her immediately, which is a pretty direct and active way of addressing things.

      Obviously if there was a policy that said he had to fire her, well, fine, he should have fired her, but if he’s allowed to use his judgement, his understanding her as a person and an employee, and his power to make her go do a drug test, then it seems like he handled this well.

        1. Lilo*

          True. There are certain drugs that pose a very serious health risk if handled. First responders get fentanyl exposure training, for instance. I’d be much more upset if that was what she had, as it could have hurt people.

          1. kalli*

            Yes, for labs and distribution centres, not small amounts of street fentanyl (cut to impurity and highly unlikely to generate a high without actively being taken) and definitely not legal medications diverted from prescriptions or sold outside pharmacies. Nobody’s getting a contact high off a fentanyl patch still in the wrapper.

            1. Mama Llama*

              YES. Let’s push back on fentanyl copaganda, which perpetuates stigma of substance use disorders and harms people experiencing them.

            2. Boof*

              IDK, there was that infant who died reportedly because they were just napping on some mats that were around a stash of fentanyl storage so, I wouldn’t be too dismissive of the risks of opiates.

              1. Freya*

                It takes a lot more than simple contact exposure to kill, without contraindications. Otherwise, epidurals would kill babies (who can test positive to fentanyl or morphine immediately after birth if epidural analgesia was administered during childbirth, because that’s some of the drugs commonly used in combination with others).

                If the drug is being absorbed into the environment in killing doses, then that’s volumes of product that are not available for sale.

                Having said that, if this is the daycare incident in NY that was in the news last month, the reports said that there was a brick of the drug in a closet with the playmats and paraphernalia like baggies stashed under the floorboards where the kids play, and that such things were regularly stored around things the kids used, not that the toddler who died absorbed the drugs from sleeping the mats. I’d think it was more likely that the kid stuck something in their mouth, like kids do. If the kid got the dosage from the mats, it’s vastly more likely that they licked the mat than absorbed the drug through their skin when it wasn’t in patch form.

          2. Katie A*

            There was little to no danger to others from drugs in a bag in her desk. Essentially none, really.

            More importantly, touch-based fentanyl exposure is not especially dangerous compared to other drugs. There is a culture of fear around it that causes police to have anxiety responses when they think they’ve been exposed.

            Media often credulously reports on how dangerous fentanyl is to police who have simply touched it, but it isn’t true. Fentanyl is not well-absorbed through the skin and other mechanisms of exposure are very unlikely for first responders.

            Normally I wouldn’t correct a simple mistake, but the idea that fentanyl is especially dangerous and particularly likely to hurt you if you merely touch it is bad for society. It’s dangerous and causes problems, especially for drug users, overdose victims, and cops.

            1. STLBlues*

              Thank you, Katie. I was about to reply with almost exactly this, but you’ve done a marvelous and steady job of refuting.

            2. Engineer*

              Thank you! It’s like people lose all critical thought when drugs are mentioned. “The cops said this is bad so it must be really bad!” Like 1) cops have a vested interest in making people fearful and 2) there’s never been a better actor than a cop “exposed” to fentanyl.

              Melanie’s in a rough situation with her kid, no mistake, but she wasn’t wrong to hang on to whatever drug it was so she could confront her. George showed reasonable sense, which is something we desperately need around the conversation about drugs and addiction.

              1. analyst*

                I mean….choosing to put it in her desk instead of say, her car, was not the smartest move. Nor was then letting her boss go into her desk….

                1. Observer*

                  Do we know she has a car?

                  @Carrie, yes we know she has a car. The OP writes “ her daughter left her sweatshirt in the car

                2. Kindred Spirit*

                  I thought the same thing. Melanie is not exhibiting good judgment. If I were in her situation, my instinct would be to store the drugs somewhere that no one would see them… my car would be my first thought. I would not have put them in my desk, and taking that a step further, if I had, I would certainly not have told my manager to get something from my desk knowing s/he might see the drugs I had stashed there.

              2. Quite anon*

                To add clarification, for some companies it’s not necessarily a case of the cops say it’s bad so we will fire anyone caught with it. “Zero tolerance policy on any drugs no exceptions because we say it’s bad” is a common string attached to companies that are receiving federal funding.

              3. Dek*

                “there’s never been a better actor than a cop “exposed” to fentanyl.”

                They took their notes from soccer players, I think.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                The hype is sufficient to cause panic attacks in people who fear that piece of paper they just picked up must be dosed with fentanyl. Leading to alarming symptoms, a trip to the ER, and another anecdote about the deadly risks of touching any surface.

                1. Grim*

                  Which is extremely funny, because you know what they keep a lot of in hospital emergency rooms? Fentanyl. Nowhere is safe!!!

            3. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

              “There is a culture of fear around it that causes police to have anxiety responses when they think they’ve been exposed.”

              This is a sweetly generous reading of the situation. I’m pretty sure most of those overblown cop exposures are simply lies.

            4. MigraineMonth*

              I didn’t know this, thank you! Looks like I’m going to have to readjust my BS meter again.

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            “Exposure training” for fentanyl is just straight up propaganda. No one is in danger from it simply existing in the office.

            1. Molly Coddler*

              i had never heard of exposure training. so laughable. and wonder what they even mean by exposure: seen it? been in the same room with it? it’s not something that jumps up and attacks anyone. it’s literally an inert item that can cause reactions IF ingested.

              1. Ace in the Hole*

                When I read that I was assuming exposure training was about how to handle accidental work exposures, like any other hazardous substance. Which would include defining what types of exposures are potentially hazardous.

                If that’s what they meant, then “exposure” would mean a scenario where you have direct contact with the substance in a way that’s reasonably likely to cause harmful health effects. So, for example, just being in a room with it would not count but inhaling a cloud of dust or cutting your hand on contaminated glassware would.

                Possible routes of exposure are contact with skin or mucous membranes, inhalation, ingestion (including accidental ingestion from spray, improper handwashing, etc), and injection (which includes contact with cuts or broken skin). A good training would go over each of these to describe which type of exposures are potentially hazardous and which are not.

          4. Observer*

            There are certain drugs that pose a very serious health risk if handled. First responders get fentanyl exposure training, for instance. I’d be much more upset if that was what she had, as it could have hurt people.

            That’s a real over-reaction. As others noted, what first responders and labs are dealing with are not the kinds of things that Melanie put in her desk.

            Still bad judgement and I hope she’s learned her lesson. But let’s not go overboard.

            1. Rainy*

              I received fentanyl after surgery a couple of years ago. In my IV line! Gosh, it’s a wonder I’m still alive! :P

            2. AnonRN*

              Am nurse! And I’ve accidentally splashed it in *my own eye* (just a few drops when I put too much air in the vial). I’m not dead!

              That said, the fentanyl being found in illicit pills is scary; the DEA says many individual pills contain an amount that’s nearly 1000x a typical hospital dose. But those pills are deadly when ingested (in whatever format) not just simple handling.

        2. JSPA*

          she’s taking a legal and job and potential contact risk regardless of whether it’s on her person or in her desk. In the car might be marginally safer, but if she doesn’t have easy access, or if her daughter does have easy access (spare key), that’s not a great answer.

          She could call the cops into her workplace, and confront daughter without the drugs in hand… but she’d either be calling the cops on her daughter, on herself, or trying to convince them that she magically found the drugs.

        3. kalli*

          I have opioids in my desk and nobody’s getting a contact high off them, they don’t negatively affect my ability to work, and they aren’t anyone else’s business.

          There isn’t any reason for your answer to change based on the kind of drug.

        4. bamcheeks*

          I understand that people have very different levels of familiarity and alarm around pot vs opioids, but what difference would it make in this case? What should George have done differently it if was opioids as opposed to pot?

          1. Jojo*

            Well, one substance kills people and could be stolen by someone who recognized what it was or perhaps in a form that could be accidentally ingested. One substance is essentially harmless and legal in a lot of places.

            If someone had a “weapon” in their desk, I would have a different answer if it was a 1 inch Swiss Army knife, or a loaded AR-15. Wouldn’t you?

            1. bamcheeks*

              I think the comparison of opioids to a loaded AR-15 is a bit weird and alarmist, TBH.

              But my question wasn’t about how people feel about opioids vs pot (which I acknowledged differs), but about what difference it would make to George’s actions. Do you think that Melanie taking a drugs test, being reprimanded but not losing her join would be the right course of action if it was pot, but she should definitely have lost her job if it was oxycodone? That honestly sounds wild to me.

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                I agree, I don’t think it makes any difference. I’m sure people with drug problems are good at coming up with stories but the story sounds credible to me–especially if people already know it’s true that her daughter has an issue with drugs and she passed a drug test on the spot. She probably could have handled things differently but I’m not sure I would have done anything different in her place to be honest and OP doesn’t even think that George handled anything incorrectly. There is no reason this needs to go further than what has already been done.

              2. Michelle Smith*

                It honestly shouldn’t make any difference in George’s actions IMO. The only issue is that if Melanie was a recreational marijuana user, but was not using it on the job, the test is still going to be positive for THC. That is not the set of facts we’re dealing with here though.

            2. Roland*

              I don’t understand why you think opioids are likely to be “accidentally” ingested. Literally the only way I can think of for someone to “accidentally ingest” drugs is weed gummies and other edibles (which you shouldn’t take from people’s desk but I guess a person might). If you start popping unidentifiable pills from someone’s desk, that is not accidental, that’s lunacy.

              It sounds like you know reefer madness is hugely overblown. Consider that opiods, while a real public health issue, are also not the total bogeymen they are presented as.

              1. MassMatt*

                Just as “drugs” are a catch-all umbrella term without nuance, the same is true to some extent with”opioids”. Are we talking about prescription pills which can be abused but also used therapeutically, or a dime bag of heroin? When I think of concern about drugs in a coworker’s desk I am thinking it’s more likely to be something like the latter than the former. If it were pills, how would anyone know they were opioids and not aspirin? Or prescribed medication?

                The fact that the LW immediately says there were “drugs” makes me think it was something immediately identifiable as NOT a prescription medication, such as marijuana, crack, coke, or meth.

                1. Roland*

                  Ok but people shouldn’t be using other people’s legal prescription drugs either. If “your coworker might take some” is an argument against illegal drugs then it’s also an argument against legal ones. In this case though, the fact that they were visually identifiable as “drugs” means they obviously weren’t just a normal-looking prescription bottle.

            3. Observer*

              in a form that could be accidentally ingested.

              Like what? That’s a really high level of catastrophising. And it’s just not a good basis for decision making.

              could be stolen by someone who recognized what it was

              That’s only slightly more realistic than the other piece. And while pot may be “legal” in some places, in others it’s not, in many places where it’s legal it can *still* lead to loss of a job, and it is just easy to steal and just as likely to be stolen.

              You are stretching very hard to create a differentiation that simply doesn’t exist in reality.

              1. Jojo*

                My kid ate a piece of dog kibble yesterday. Sorry, but my reality I that ANYTHING has the potential to be ingested.

                I realize adults are different, but I learned long ago never to underestimate the potential for stupidity.

                1. Dahlia*

                  Because they’re a kid.

                  If your coworkers go into your desk and take random pills they find there, that’s not an accident. That’s their fault.

            4. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

              You do realize that there are people who see pot as “substance kills people and could be stolen by someone who recognized what it was or perhaps in a form that could be accidentally ingested”? And pot is more recognizable than opioids in a baggie (if her daughter has a drug problem, I assume this isn’t in a neatly labeled container).

              The comparison is more a knife to a hammer. Both can do serious damage, arguably one more than the other depending on the user, but a knife (pot) is the much more recognizable one as a straight-up weapon. Likewise, there could be a valid use for both of them in someone’s desk.

              All that to say, George handled this just fine in the context given and your comparison is really bizarre. DARE did a number on some generations.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                God, DARE was SO BAD. It’s genuinely impressive that they put together a program that not only made teens completely unable to assess how dangerous drugs were, but also made them much more likely to use them.

                I’m a goody-two-shoes teacher’s pet, and I threw a fit during my first DARE class in elementary school. They wanted me to sign a statement saying that I would never use drugs (because obviously coercing children into signing pledges is a good use of anybody’s time). I refused, because I knew my mommy and daddy gave me drugs and I needed them to feel better.

                Still probably better than the time I came home and accused my parents of being alcoholic because I’d seen them drink a glass of wine at dinner a couple of weeks before. They tried to explain that no, they weren’t alcoholic, and I yelled something like “That’s what every alcoholic says!”

                1. But what to call me?*

                  Pretty much my one and only memory from DARE is signing that thing while wondering 1) do they think we think they can actually enforce this and 2) has there ever been a single person on the face of the planet who wanted to use drugs but decided not to because someone made them sign an unenforceable contract *to themselves* in elementary school?

                  Well, that and the idea that you can lie and say your parents said you have to go home if someone is trying to pressure you into doing something. That one is actually a good message to teach kids (and adults, in the sense of an easy excuse to leave plus the clear implication that someone is expecting you at a particular time), although I can’t say I’ve ever encountered any roving bands of high-pressure drug dealers to use it on.

            5. Xanna*

              I think an alcohol metaphor might make more sense?

              Like, having a sealed joint that’s stored discreetly and securely to be consumed off company premises and time is probably fine in a lot of places, akin to the nice decanter of whiskey folks might keep in their office for celebrations (and for both examples there’s definitely places this would be a big problem).

              If it’s a dime bag of meth, I see that more like a half drunk 40 of everclear in your file cabinet. Like hypothetically it’s the same family of substance and but the explicit and inplicit connotations are super different, both for very reasonable concerns about potency and potential danger, and for less legitimate reasons of the perceived status of folks using this specific type of substance.

            6. Freya*

              It’s legal for me to take prescribed fentanyl into some countries that consider my ADHD medication completely illegal. To the point that I’ve weighed up the pros and cons of going through the process of changing meds just so that I could go to conferences held in those countries.

          2. ferrina*

            If it was pot and this was a state where it was legal, as long as this wasn’t a facility that is associated with the federal government, then it would be the same as accidentally bringing a beer to work*. It’s bad, but not illegal and generally not a career ender. You cringe, get through the day as best you can, and move on.
            Illegal substances are a bigger issue.

            *I knew someone who did this. A teacher at the school I did my student teaching brought a Diet Coke can every day. His favorite beer happened to have similar coloring. One day he grabbed the beer can instead of the Diet Coke can (I guess he hadn’t had his coffee yet). Luckily another teacher saw it sitting on his desk before the students started arriving, and he was able to hide it in his desk for the day without issue.

            1. bamcheeks*

              But does that mean you think that George’s actions would have been appropriate and proportionate if it was pot, but that he should have done something differently if it was opioids? Like, I get that pot and opioids have different legal statuses and people feel very differently about them, but specifically, would that change the advice to LW?

              1. Jojo*

                I think George’s response was overblown if it was pot. I think George’s response was potentially under blown, if it was opioids or meth, or something of that nature. But, I agree, in any event letter writer should MYOB

              2. NotBatman*

                For LW: I would be warier of Melanie, say, driving a forklift if she sometimes has LSD in her pocket — less so if it’s marijuana.

                For George: he might face different consequences for handling it if it’s a drug that is sometimes legal (marijuana, oxycontin) vs. one that is never legal (cocaine, meth). But that’s only if this comes to a police investigation, which seems both pointless and unlikely.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  that’s interesting because I’d tend to think the opposite! People I know who do LSD and other psychedelics tend to treat it as an appointment drug and plan in recovery time. Dope smokers, like drinkers, seem more likely to underestimate how impaired they are.

              3. ferrina*

                That’s a good point. I guess it wouldn’t change the advice at all. I think George’s actions were smart and proportional either way, since it sounds like it genuinely wasn’t Melanie’s fault (it sounds like she had no idea the drugs were there, and it doesn’t sound like there’s a reason to disbelieve her)

          3. AnonInCanada*

            Depending on where in the world this office is, having a couple of grams of pot on you is legal. Company policy may be different, but from a legal standpoint, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with having a few leaves of the Devil’s Lettuce. Opioids, on the other hand…

            1. Dahlia*

              It’s legal to have opioids on you, too, if you have a prescription. I have a bottle here. Totally legal.

              If you mean street drugs, say street drugs.

              1. Nightbringer*

                Thank you!! As a chronic pain patient who just had another surgery, this comment thread is making me see red.

        5. MassMatt*

          I was going to say this. Lumping marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, and prescription painkillers together under the umbrella term “drugs” really is not useful. IMO the coworker should have flushed the drugs immediately, or at least taken them off the premises, and not stored them in her desk. And later telling a supervisor to go looking in her desk, to boot.

          But IMO unless the LW a is feeling endangered by this (it sounds as though they are not) they should drop it. Raising the issue to grandboss seems to have no positives and many likely negatives, unless reading between the lines LW really IS a thinking this could lead to their promotion.

          1. Observer*

            Lumping marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, and prescription painkillers together under the umbrella term “drugs” really is not useful.

            Mostly that’s true. But here, I just don’t see any difference. Clearly this was a substance that was completely contraband in this office. And I don’t see any reason why the specifics of the drug make that much of a difference in this case. Sure, in some cases it would matter, but it’s not reasonable to apply the same standard to every situation, just as it’s not reasonable to apply the same standard to every type of drug.

            IMO the coworker should have flushed the drugs immediately, or at least taken them off the premises, and not stored them in her desk. And later telling a supervisor to go looking in her desk, to boot.

            Agreed. Regardless of what the specific drug was, Melanie showed really bad judgement here. But I can sympathize a bit – this must be *extremely* stressful for her.

          2. But what to call me?*

            Definitely bad judgement, but also a mistake that I can see how a person might make. Upset to find the drugs leading not thinking clearly about what to do with them, not wanting to flush them because she expects the daughter will just deny it if confronted and wants to have the evidence on hand or not even thinking to flush them if she isn’t someone who normally needs to think about how to unobtrusively dispose of drugs, shoving them in her desk because she needs to rush off and do something else, trying to go about her day because she still needs to get through the workday and then unthinkingly telling her supervisor to look for something in her desk like she might on any other day when there weren’t drugs in there… None of it is great, but I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t make similarly bad decisions under the circumstances.

        6. Itsa Me, Mario*

          That was my first thought, as well. Especially because, unless it was meth, black tar heroin, or cocaine, how would anyone even know it was “drugs” vs. a prescription drug or something that is fully legal in a lot of US states?

          It being something that could accidentally be left behind in a hoodie, and then put into a work desk for later, and then seen and recognized (vs. a pill bottle), and it being something that could be meaningfully drug tested for “right away”, makes me think it was cannabis. Which… jeez, is LW 1 a cop or something? Clearly not their business in any way.

      1. Student*

        Specifically, the OP says that the co-worker with drugs in her desk bought her own drug test kit and took the test on her own.

        This sounds like a good faith effort to prove she’s not doing drugs – and the OP takes it on face value from the co-worker. It is a reasonable course of action for an innocent person caught holding the bag.

        However, this is also the exact best-case scenario for someone trying to hide an addiction themselves. A self-administered, self-purchased, private drug screening with no medical professionals involved, no reporting back to the company in any official way, and no external supervision of any sort. I can think of three different ways that she can make it look like she passed, thereby allaying her boss’s concerns and take the heat off, while still being high as a kite (if she were doing drugs).

        When jobs with serious consequences for drug use screen you for drugs, this is very much not the process they use precisely because it is so easy to exploit. If there are serious professional risks involved, a drug screening is done by a medical professional under direct supervision so that you cannot, for example, swap samples. The drug screening goes to a lab with a rigorous process to check for markers of potential tampering – like too much water in your sample. And, crucially, the drug screening test results get reported back to your employer directly from the lab, so there’s no chance to tamper with them.

        1. Tupac Coachella*

          I took the employee volunteering for a test as more of a good faith thing than anything else for this reason. The test wouldn’t be useful if George suspected she was using drugs for other reasons, but if there were no other reasons to suspect her (which it sounds like there were not) then just the gesture of taking the test was sufficient to back up her story. With the negative test and daughter’s known history to back her up, her version of events was much more plausible than thinking she is using drugs and brought them to work, let herself get caught, and then rigged a drugstore test to read negative on the spot as some kind of preemptive strategy. Even without an official test (which would absolutely be necessary if her behavior was the reason it was requested, not just the presence of drugs), I think it’s reasonable for George to deal with it as he did and consider the matter closed.

        2. LavaLamp (she/her)*

          The only way someone could steal my opioids is if they went into my purse, into a separate bag and realized what drug I take. And then there’s a high likelihood they’d have taken a zyertec instead since I keep those around too. It’s really really hard to accidentally swallow a pill as an adult.

          Also, no drug screen is set up to detect my mediation. Even lab tests. The only place I test positive is my mandatory government ordered screening at my doctors office.

        3. Itsa Me, Mario*

          I guess I mostly don’t understand how it is anyone’s business if LW 1’s coworker is battling an addiction? The line of logic that suggests “aha! this is exactly what an addict would want you to think!” is a bit messed up, as well. Like… jeez. We don’t even know this person, or their circumstances, or what it was, or anything about the broader situation.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing – I don’t know why the OP feels like this is something they need to address. George made a decision based on a clean drug test and the employee’s reliability, as well as his reasonable assessment that the employee was telling the truth. It seems to be well-known in the office that the employee’s kid has a drug problem. George didn’t ignore the situation, and he also didn’t blow it out of proportion. He took a rational, compassionate, and logical approach to the issue, and that should be just fine for a small, privately owned business.

      Sometimes managers get to use their discretion in making decisions. Presumably, the owners trust George as a manager. If the OP goes and tells them that George made this decision, they may question George’s decision. They may also (and for good reason) question why the OP would bring this up, when George made a good decision.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m glad to read this because I honestly didn’t understand the first letter (in the sense of OP getting involved at all) so I was wondering if I’d missed something.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I am also scratching my head over here. The OP seems to trust George’s judgement as a manager, and also seems to believe Melanie’s explanation. Even aside from the fact, that it isn’t OP’s call anyway, a situation that will not repeat itself has been handled really reasonably. The only cause I can give to OP’s anxiety is that the wider company may well be infested with a decent amount of evil bees from what they say. I feel like this Melanie incident would be a non issue for OP if they trusted the owners and the other team’s leadership as much as they (typically) trust George. Because of these factors it seems like OP thinks they have to be perfect and above reproach because there is no reason and common sense above George.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          As I read this letter, I thought of the “my boss excessively Photoshops herself on our company’s social media” letter. Clients had complained about the excessively Photoshopped photos on the company website. The letter writer sent in an update, then commented on the update page, “Shortly after I sent in my update, the owner somehow figured or found out I knew about the complaints and what Elizabeth [the Photoshopping boss] was doing and I was also fired for not telling anyone.”

          I think this OP is worried they’ll end up in a similar situation: someone will find out that Melanie had drugs on work property and that OP knew about the drugs and did not report them, then OP will be reprimanded/fired for not reporting the drugs.

          1. cabbagepants*

            That was my guess because of the whole background LW provided of weird family business dynamics.

          2. Observer*

            I think this OP is worried they’ll end up in a similar situation: someone will find out that Melanie had drugs on work property and that OP knew about the drugs and did not report them, then OP will be reprimanded/fired for not reporting the drugs.

            Yes. But if the owners are as unreasonable as that LW’s were (and they WERE beyond unreasonable and unfair to that person!) then a better idea for the OP is to find another job. Because people like that are likely to blame them, regardless. Either they will be blamed for not telling or they will be blamed for “tattling” or blamed for not knowing at the time it happened, etc.

        3. GammaGirl1908*

          Same. It seems ENTIRELY possible that George handled the situation, and then actually did report to the owners what happened, and they agreed with his handling and decided to let it stay there. LW doesn’t seem to need to be involved.

          I would feel differently about this if LW was the only one who had seen the drugs, but it seemed that enough people were involved in the situation that whatever is going to happen to Melanie has happened to Melanie, and that’s the end of it.

          1. goducks*

            Yes, this is exactly it. Since it seems like George handled the situation reasonably, so what’s to suggest that even if the owners didn’t know, that they’d have an issue with how he handled it if the LW told them? And if George is the reasonable person he seems to be in this story, it stands to reason he’d do the sensible thing and tell his bosses about the situation. There’s nothing for the LW to do here, she should assume it’s all been handled appropriately.

      2. Phryne*

        Honestly, I consider making her take a drug test an overreaction unless George has any reason to assume she was under the influence of any drugs, or there have been issues with that in the past, or they were in a job where impairment would have serious consequences. It was obviously a bad call of the employee to put the drugs in the drawer though, probably should have put them back into the car not kept them inside the employers building. They can quite rightly demand people do not keep drugs in their office drawers.
        But I am not in the US and our laws are different. An employer here can not in fact demand a drug test from employees under any circumstance unless there is a severe security or safety aspect. It’s considered a breach of privacy and invasion bodily autonomy.

        1. Green great dragon*

          I also would not have made her take a drugs test, but she offered to and bought it herself, so she may have felt it important to dispel any doubt.

          I think George made a good call and LW should not try to go over his head about this, I really don’t see what they’re hoping to achieve.

          1. The Other One*

            Oh, I missed that she offered.
            And I agree, I really don’t see why OP thinks it is any of their business. A manager dealt with a thing in a correct way. Case closed.

            1. Cmdrshprd*

              Honestly if I ended up in a similar situation, I would not just offer but insist on taking a drug test just to offer further “undeniable” (I’m don’t know the reliability of store drug test and error rates) proof that I had not been on drugs.

              Even with a good reputation and a boss that believed me, I would worry a bit that boss might always have a small doubt/worry in the back of their mind “were they OPs drugs?”

              taking a test would make me feel better.

              1. Jojo*

                Reliability – depends on substance, how long after injected, etc. Also I will mention that it’s easy to fake, especially with a non-observed test that is not administered by a professional.

                To me, I had a “doth protest too much” reaction to her volunteering to take a drug store test. If she was using, especially if she had been in treatment, she would 100% know the ins/outs of how to test.

                1. Cmdrshrd*

                  “To me, I had a “doth protest too much” reaction to her volunteering to take a drug store test.”

                  I can kinda see where you are coming from, but I think the fact that they left actual drugs in the drawer, makes it a bit more reasonable to want something more concrete than your “word.”

                  If someone asked them if they did drugs and the person then went to level of saying I will take a drug store test right now I would agree with you. But when there is tangible/physical evidence pointing to the use of drugs, I think wanting to have some “tangible/physical” evidence (beyond their word) pointing to the employee not being on drugs is understandable.

              2. Itsa Me, Mario*

                I’m honestly in the opposite camp. I wouldn’t in any way volunteer to take a drug test. I know that I’m not a drug user and the drugs in question didn’t belong to me. If my employer has concerns about my reliability, they can ask me to take a drug test.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          George may have been covering his backside in case the owners did find out about it. Having her take a drug test means he can honestly say that he investigated the issue and there is evidence to back that up. Otherwise, it would be simply a matter of taking her word for it and while it sounds like it would be reasonable to do so, if the bosses didn’t know her well, telling them, “oh, she told me it was her daughter’s and that she just found it last minute and had to make a difficult choice” could make it sound like he was either pretty gullible or like he didn’t bother investigating the situation at all and just ignored it.

          It is probably better for both of them as it adds credence to their version of events.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            Re George doing a CYA, It’s also very possible that George reported the situation privately to the owners and they huddled and decided that whatever George did was enough for now. LW not being involved doesn’t mean that a conversation didn’t happen.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          I read that part as Melanie insisting. Because she knew it could be a big deal and wanted to be out in front of it.

        4. Artemesia*

          She had drugs in the workplace; this is a firing offense. She offered to drug test to prove to her manager that she was not using. He let this get her off the hook of possible immediate dismissal — She was lucky; George seems sensible.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I don’t think possessing drugs in the workplace is automatically a firing offense. It probably varies depending on legality, insurance and job safety.

            For example, I’ve worked in places where you could get fired for bringing in a beer and places where they provided employees with free beer.

      3. Helvetica*

        Oh, good – I was also very confused at what, exactly, the LW wants to report to owners. Ife she’d been the only one to see the drugs and Melanie had asked her to keep quiet and not tell their manager, sure, but it seems like George acted appropriately and resolved the situation.

      4. WellRed*

        I didn’t understand why the OP feels a need to do anything here. They weren’t the employee’s drugs and OP knows this. To be sure, it’s nit great Melanie didn’t make some different choiuces here. I also think the drug testing was an overreaction in these circumstances.

        1. Czhorat*


          Unless you’re driving a bus or operating construction equipment there’s no need for the mere presence of drugs to be escalated beyond the immediate supervisor. In this case it seemed like a perfect storm which is unlikely to repeat.

      5. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Chiming in. What would she do if she went over her supervisor’s head anyway? melanie had drugs from her daughter in her desk, George found them, George handled it. Okay AND????

        The supervisor did his job. There is nothing more to be said.

      6. SansSerif*

        Yeah, it wouldn’t even occur to me to go tell someone about this. You already know her daughter has a drug problem. She has no history of acting high or incapacitated on the job. George is known to have good judgement. And the people you’re telling are known to have bad judgement.

        George used his judgement, and I’d use mine and consider it done with. Why should I risk damaging George’s and Melanie’s careers for no reason?

    3. Colette*

      It sounds like Melanie’s choices were:
      1) put the drugs in the desk for the day
      2) keep them in her pocket all day (and possibly drop them or pull them out looking for something else), or
      3) turn around and go home to get rid of them

      My friend’s son once brought a knife to school – because my friend had worn his jacket camping on the weekend and left a knife in the pocket. This kind of thing happens.

      1. Poison I.V. drip*

        Or 4) just put the drugs back in the car where she got the sweatshirt. Or 5) just throw them away and confront her kid later. I know we’re not supposed to go here, but this letter seems not genuine.

        1. Colette*

          Was she around the car when she found the drugs? Was the car even at work?

          Would finding drugs in a work garbage can be better than finding them in her desk?

          1. Hlao-roo*

            From the letter, Melanie’s daughter “left her sweatshirt in the car and later that day Melanie was cold and grabbed the sweatshirt from the car and put it on,” which sounds to me like the car was at work and fairly readily accessible to Melanie.

            1. Colette*

              Did she go to work before or after she was cold? We don’t know the full story, nor do we need to since it’s irrelevant – the letter is about what the OP should do, not Melanie.

        2. Ticotac*

          I don’t think I would keep what I suspect may be illegal drugs in my car, unless I can keep an eye on my car. She could have thrown them away and confronted her kid without them, but I personally wouldn’t have thought of that.

        3. Observer*

          I know we’re not supposed to go here, but this letter seems not genuine.


          Nothing in your post or the one you are responding to really lead in that direction. I mean, people don’t always react perfectly to difficult situations, and they don’t always react the way you would – which is not the same thing as having poor judgement.

          As for you last suggestion, I completely understand why she didn’t throw it out. She wanted to confront her daughter, who would certainly have denied it if Mom didn’t have the goods.

      2. ferrina*

        Yeah, Melanie was in a tough spot. There weren’t any good options here.

        I think Melanie made the best choice she could, George recognized that and didn’t want to punish her for something that ultimately she may have had no control over. Even in the 20/20 hindsight, what would she have done differently? Checked the pockets before grabbing a sweatshirt? No one does that. Searched her daughter’s things and possibly found the drugs earlier? That might have tanked her relationship with her daughter- trying to figure out the right course of action is a really tough line to walk for anyone who’s family member has a drug problem, and she may have not even seen any sign of drug use (addicts can be good at hiding things).
        It’s very possible that any intelligent, well-meaning person could have found themself in the same situation through no fault of their own.

      3. Student*

        Dispose of them!

        What is the point, exactly, of holding on to your kid’s drugs all day?! You’re not going to give them back, one would hope. You don’t need to literally be holding the drugs, waving them in your kid’s face, to enact consequences at home.

        You only keep them if you have plans for them.

        1. Colette*

          Or you don’t want to throw them out in a work garbage can.

          But I think it’s likely that the plan for them was to show them to her daughter as part of her conversation. Drugs that are in a work garbage are easier to deny.

        2. Ticotac*

          I mean, she presumably had a plan for them. The plan was waving them at her kid’s face to confront her about them. You can argue that it’s not a logical plan, but it’s far from unlikely.

          1. Poison I.V. drip*

            So this workplace is strict enough that having drugs in your desk is a serious problem, but Melanie carelessly tossed them in her desk like a pack of gum? Then forgot about them when telling her supervisor to look in her desk? I’m not buying this.

            1. Ticotac*

              Is there any workplace where having potentially illegal drugs in your desk not a serious problem? I don’t think McDonald’s has a part of the training that says “do not bring drugs to work,” but if they found a crack pipe and a small bag of crystal-like powder in a worker’s locker they presumably wouldn’t be pleased.

              And it may be my ADHD talking, but… no, I don’t find hiding something in my work desk, being stressed out about it, being so stressed out about it that when my boss asks where’s X I say “probably in my desk, check there” without thinking, and then realizing that the desk I directed my boss too is the same desk I’m worried about a very unlikely situation.

              But if it brings you any comfort, maybe LW1 doesn’t know the precise details. Maybe the drugs weren’t just there, perfectly visible, but rather hidden behind something that the boss moved. Maybe Melanie didn’t tell her boss to check the desk, but rather she went to her desk and her boss was just there next to her and saw something odd and was like, “what’s that?” and Melanie fumbled. Or maybe it’s something else. People badly hide illegal stuff at their workplace all the time, and other people find that illegal stuff all the time. We’re not talking about a master criminal trying to run a once-in-a-century heist, we’re talking about a very anxious mother who was presumably not at the top of her game and did a dumb thing.

          2. Tupac Coachella*

            “The plan was waving them at her kid’s face to confront her about them.”
            Yeah, that’s what it looks like to me. I’ve unfortunately known several people who were in this position (finding out that “clean” family members were not when they found their stash), and almost all of them took the drugs to the conversation. The family member’s first line of defense is to deny deny deny, and pulling out the evidence is seen as an effective way to skip that part of the discussion.

        3. Observer*

          What is the point, exactly, of holding on to your kid’s drugs all day?! You’re not going to give them back, one would hope. You don’t need to literally be holding the drugs, waving them in your kid’s face, to enact consequences at home.

          In theory? Sure. In practice it’s not always so easy. Especially if there is another adult in the picture who is in denial and will fall for the daughter’s righteous indignation at her mom’s “false accusations”.

        4. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

          Well of course you would hold onto them long enough to confront your kid with them! That conversation is going to be so much more annoying and circuitous if you don’t bring the evidence to confront them with. Presumably she was planning to dispose of them immediately afterwards.

          That said, it does seem a really odd choice to bring them into work and store them in a desk, rather than just locking them in the trunk of the car or something. Presumably, the conversation is going to happen that very evening, so it’s not like you’ll forget. And if it’s that upsetting for your kid to have the drugs, you’re probably thinking about it all day, so it’s really weird that she would then forget that she for some reason stored the drugs at her desk, and then asked someone else to go rifle through her desk.

      4. MassMatt*

        She could and should have flushed the drugs down the toilet or otherwise disposed of them. Storing them in her desk simply to wave in front of her daughter’s face later as a visual aid proving “I found your drugs” is not an excuse any cop or court would likely accept, assuming they ever go involved.

        1. Kindred Spirit*

          Please don’t flush any drugs down the toilet– that includes prescriptions that were obtained legally. They can pollute the water supply.

    4. Jessica*


      She’s a mother dealing with a child who has a drug issue. She’s got enough on her plate. They weren’t her drugs, George handled it, leave the poor woman alone.

  6. no this is patrick*

    #4 – I’ve been the junior employee with the list of questions and no interview training a few times. Like Alison said it’s just an initial screening and unless I have a talkative candidate it’s usually over pretty quickly. I write some notes regarding my decision whether to pass the candidate along or not and hiring managers review. It’s out of my hands after that.

    1. SarahKay*

      Yes, my first thought was that the meeting is booked for 30 minutes to ensure that there is time if the candidate *does* have a number of questions they want to ask. That way you don’t have candidates thinking ‘why was it only booked for 15 minutes, there wasn’t time for me to ask x, y and z’.

      1. StressedButOkay*

        During our screening interviews, we split the 30 minutes – half is us going over the job in more detail, etc., and the other half is back and forth with the applicant. If the applicant doesn’t have anything for us, the call generally ends around 15 minutes. (Which, to us, is generally a sign.)

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree, I would never book a meeting for less than 30 minutes honestly even if I think it will take less time because I don’t want to risk going over the time they planned on having available. Depending on what the questions are it’s definitely possible this was just a screening interview–though personally I think it makes more sense if people just did those over the phone instead of over zoom. We’ve seen from letters in the past though that sometimes people set up a zoom call for them anyway!

      3. Ms. Murchison*

        Yes, this is what we do.
        Our initial “phone” screening is conducted using Zoom (cameras off) so that remote employees don’t have to share personal phone numbers with applicants. They’re scheduled for 30 minutes, but the only thing my boss want us to do is meet the candidate, so that they have a point of contact for the rest of the process, make sure they’ve reviewed the job description and saw salary range, explain the full interview process, and answer any questions the applicant has. If the applicant doesn’t have questions at that point, it can be much shorter than 30 minutes but we’ve allowed ourselves buffer time. I’m frankly surprised that LW4 is upset the interviewer scheduled a longer window of time than they needed. Better than not enough; as a candidate, I’m always frustrated when I get only 5 minutes at the end to ask my questions.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      This! Sometimes I’ve gotten on a screening call, and we chat a little about the job, salary, benefits, etc. If it’s the hiring manager I might have some questions about the role, but if it’s HR, I’m probably all set after that (esp if it’s HR, because most of my questions would be about the role itself, and HR is not likely the best person to answer that). So it may only take 10-15′, and they have the info for the hiring manager about me and I have info I want about them. I’d wrap up by asking about timelines for next steps, but really that can be it.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly. My first thought was that it sounded like a screening interview. At most places I’ve worked, the screening interview is a quick chat with HR. It’s basically to make sure that any candidate that talks to the hiring manager isn’t a waste of time. HR often doesn’t know the exact requirements of the job and can’t really evaluate you as a candidate. Once you pass the screening interview, the next phase is an interview with the hiring manager.

        Some of the things HR will screen out:
        -Big differences in salary expectations
        -Big misunderstandings about the job or organization
        -People that aren’t capable of keeping an interview appointment (I’ve seen plenty of applicants disappear at this faze)
        -People that are absolutely incompetent or otherwise very much not a fit. Again, more than you’d expect- people that don’t actually answer questions, or ramble onto things that are not appropriate for a work setting, or immediately jump into their extreme political beliefs or otherwise show bad judgement.

        The conversation with the hiring manager should definitely be longer than 15 minutes though.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I’m as likely to wrap up an earlier interview fast if I think the candidate is really strong! If there’s going to be a lengthy process and I’m not the decision-maker, why waste everyone’s time now?

    4. rusty*

      #4 It could be a ‘pulse check’ type interview. scheduled for 1/2 hour because that’s a pace the interviewer can work with.
      I’ve been an interviewee at several, where they just want to make sure I’m not a blatant misrepresentation, can speak the language, and operate a computer well enough to attend.

      Taking with some HR folks… it’s dumbfounding how many don’t qualify for that low-bar.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yeah, I’ve done phone screening for applicants in my field. I have basic question like “How do you list all of the contents of a directory, including the last modification time of the file, on the command line?” This is actually power user stuff, so it’s literally low-roller table stakes in my field. If they blank, okay, I’ll ask them if they have a system they can poke at and see if their fingers remember. If they ask why I would ask such a simple question, I would tell them the truth – I’ve had phone screen applicants who couldn’t answer it.

    5. M*

      Adding to this: my company does simple pre-screens for entry-level positions (in particular), because we’re a reasonably unique hiring context and even on-paper good applicants often miss key information in the job posting that would quickly eliminate them. (e.g. we’re hiring for 100% remote roles, and often get applicants who didn’t pay attention to that bit) They’re also a good opportunity for candidates to ask questions that might take them out of the pool by their own choice.

      I’d like to think we do a better job than OP4’s describing of communicating the purpose of those calls to applicants – and of training the staff doing them – but a bland description would indeed be “a couple of basic questions and repeating parts of the job description”, particularly when candidates don’t have questions of their own.

  7. takeachip*

    LW2 I think you have to assume that for every person who messaged you, there is some multiplier (2x? 5x? 10x?) of people who saw the message and said nothing. One could be your boss, or someone close to your boss, or someone who doesn’t like you, etc. Do you want to wait for that shoe to drop? I’d go out of my mind with anxiety and would probably just find a way to fess up so I could at least have some control over the timing and framing of my boss getting/reacting to this information.

    I don’t know if I’m reading the tone correctly, but I got a “2 cool 4 school” vibe from the first paragraph of your post. It just came off immature, like you were bragging to your friend about watching tv on work time. Not trying to judge you or read too much into it, but this could be an opportunity to reflect on the image you’re generally projecting at work. I mean, in my opinion you crossed a line with that Slack message and really made yourself look foolish. But you don’t seem to have even considered that until the other manager brought it to your attention the next week. So what else might you be missing in your assessment of yourself as an employee?

    You say this manager on the other team jokes around & pokes fun at you–given the power differential between your two positions, are you sure that’s a pure joking & fun-poking, or could there be some subtle messages in his teasing? He was definitely sending you a message with the silly face this time, so it’s possible that his joking at other times could be a way to try to alert you to things you may need to take seriously. Just food for thought.

    1. D*

      I have one coworker who openly says all her best friends are in our department/at work, so she actually likes her job now when she didn’t before. This is her first job, and you can tell, because she has the priorities of a college student: socializing, games, and absolutely never work. She’s infuriating.

      That’s what OP 2 reminds me of.

      1. Mister_L*

        In my country (and perhaps also the neighbour country, same language) McDonalds is currently running a recruiting / advertising campaign aimed at this kind of people.

        I think at least one side is in for a rude awakening.

        1. allathian*

          I’m in Finland, and I’ve seen a similar campaign here. It left me scratching my head in confusion.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I don’t know, this makes a lot of sense to me. “The work is boring but the cameraderie is fire” is how a lot of places with essential but repetitive jobs make it work. I think it’s a good thing if company’s lean in to that, rather than pretending everyone is superduper happy to be serving customers.

          1. Mister_L*

            Sorry, I think I didn’t describe it very well for people who haven’t seen it.

            The advert makes it seem more like bro’s / bff’s just hanging out with each other and occasionally doing a litte work if they get bored.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            Hunter gathering and subsistence farming include a lot of boring repetitive tasks that are lightened by camaraderie. It’s a valid model.

          3. learnedthehardway*

            I’m trying to encourage my 16 year old to apply for these kinds of roles – he knows the work is going to be boring drudgery and that customer service is the pits. He’s typical of his generation that doesn’t know how to deal with boredom (I would blame smartphones for this, but in reality, I was the same – I just read books constantly).

            Focusing on the camaraderie and team environment, the opportunity to expand your social circle – that’s usually important to kids. (Not to mine, unfortunately, but it is for many). Saying “You’re making money for university” is a bit too long term a goal for some teens. They need a more immediate purpose / incentive.

          4. SoloKid*

            I agree. I’ve even done a recent survey at work that asked “Do you have at least one close work friend”.

            I initially went “ugh” since I got “are we like a family?” vibes, but in retrospect I guess it’s good they are asking if people have at least one vent partner. (Nobody at my job has ever said anything remotely close to “we’re like a family” so I was surprised to see it on a survey)

      2. BrookeFromTheOffice*

        We recently had an incident where a very underperforming employee had went to school with, and so was friends with, her supervisor-who raved about her work and how she deserved a raise. We did not find out until after employee quit and we were going through her email that she was not performing essential daily tasks of her very easy job (the entire job duties page is less than half of a letter-sized printout).
        While she didn’t seem to get why we were upset when she came to turn in her keycard, her friend/supervisor had the good sense to be embarrassed and admit she was not keeping tabs on her performance and only spoke to her as a friend rather than a superior.

    2. Mister_L*

      I also think that the LW pretty much showed a IDGAF attitute till they met the manager.

      By comparison, the employee who accidentially postet porn in the company group chat might have overreacted when she immediately wanted to resign, but at least she acknowledged that that it was a serious mistake.

        1. Professor Plum*

          You’re multitasking while reading AAM? What else are you doing? Watching Real Housewives?

          1. Mister_L*

            Would be hilarious, but no.

            We have an IT-problem and sometimes have to wait a couple minutes for a certain basic function to work, while waiting I’m reading and commenting here.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      No one even saw it except for a handful of people.
      OP, you do not know this. Only three people immediately told you they had seen it.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yeah, I am one of the many people who most likely wouldn’t say anything (if it was just someone on a call with 200 people rather than a close colleague) if I saw this but would mentally store it away as background information. I think it is likely that lots of people saw it, some of them may have giggled together or mentioned it out of earshot of OP. I think in OPs position I would actively allude to it to people who matter (when I got a chance organically) and play it off as the misdirected joke that it may or may not be. It’s not clear whether OP really was intending to watch TV during the rest of the meeting.

      2. Antilles*

        Frankly, I’d go the other way and assume nearly everybody saw it.
        The default settings on Teams/Slack include adding an obvious icon to any group chats with new messages, giving the little red number on your phone app, highlighting new messages, etc. It might even make your Windows taskbar start flashing, make a “ding” sound, or even pop up a little notification in the corner of your monitor with the first few words of the message.
        The idea that people saw that pop up and nobody saw it? Unless OP recognized the mistake and deleted it within seconds (doesn’t seem to be the case if someone was able to screenshot it), I’d assume a LOT of people saw it.

    4. 2 Cents*

      I still remember an email a fellow grad student accidentally sent to the entire listserv as a reply, lambasting the other grads and faculty for their snobbish ways. It was epic–and nearly 20 years ago.

  8. AnotherLibrarian*

    #5- I wanted to share that also thanks to the EAP interview, I convinced a friend working at a new job in another state to reach out to their EAP. They’ve been struggling to find a therapist and get a meds update, but were very wary of their employers EAP. I sent them a link to the interview and they did end up reaching out to the EAP. I just found out yesterday that they got the help they needed. I never would have thought to suggest an EAP if I hadn’t seen that interview. So, another person who was helped by that being shared here.

    1. MissMeghan*

      So happy to hear these success stories! I missed the EAP interview and went back to it. I’ll admit I’ve brushed it off as a resource in the past but these are great examples of how they can be helpful that I didn’t realize.

    2. Paul S.*

      Also very happy to hear EAP success stories. Counterintuitively, the larger the company, the more amazing the EAP team is likely to be. They are absolutely not there to be an advocate for the employer in any way. They are there to prevent moderate problems from becoming critical problems, and part of addressing that is kindness and resourcefulness. I haven’t used ours myself (though maybe I should have!) but I have heard success stories from employees. Sometimes you just need someone to listen and give you some level-headed advice.

    3. The Reconciler*

      Love this! I was helped by the interview as well. Contacting my EAP got my family through some legal trouble last year.

  9. Amphian*

    #4 – My team just finished interviewing a couple dozen people over the course of the last few months to hire for 4 different positions. For us, finishing in half the time generally meant we’d messaged each other in chat and already decided not to move ahead with the candidate. It could be something like they clearly didn’t have the level of experience we were looking for or they were simply not a good team fit. It didn’t feel like a good use of anyone’s time, including the candidate’s, to prolong the interview.

    One thing to think about – if you are done in 15, did you use any time to ask your own questions? Part of what was a turn off for us were people who had done zero research on the company (as in didn’t know anything at all about us) and didn’t have anything to ask us about the company or the job.

    Good luck on your job hunt. Now that I have spent more time on the interviewer side, looking for a job and hiring for a job both suck. :)

  10. Molly Millions*

    LW2: I don’t think the manager who said “it’s your career, not mine” was joking with you – I suspect he was trying to feel you out to see if you were taking it seriously.

    I know this person is not your direct manager, but he might have been able to give you advice or run interference for you with other managers, if you’d addressed the mistake more proactively.

    Ideally you would have used that opportunity to say something like, “I was mortified by what happened – I had TV on in the background while I was working on TPS reports that morning, I wasn’t actually planning on watching Real Housewives during the meeting. The intended recipient was a friend who would have known I was joking, but I realize I used poor judgement.”

    (FWIW, I think you still can go back to him and say something like that).

    The joke itself wasn’t that egregious – I’m sure everyone can relate to zoning out during tedious meetings/watching the clock on Fridays – but I would suggest making a point of demonstrating an increased level of professionalism in the coming weeks to counter that impression.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This is good phrasing.

      And OP, if it’s a lie, because you spend your work-from-home time watching reality TV and goofing off and only function when you think someone is directly watching you–work on that.

      It’s not just management that would find it off-putting: You just became Exhibit A if a manager on that call thinks they should rein in allowing work-from-home for everyone else.

  11. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    LW2: Going forward, and you will, this too shall pass, always TEXT your work friend during boring, hour long meetings on Friday afternoons.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes. Separate devices, or at least separate apps!

      Aaand I hate to say it but emerging critical work skill: be semi-engaged in online meetings while doing something else. File emails or whatever. I know not everyone can efficiently multi-task, but try at least to have some low-key work(ish) things to do if you know that the meeting will not need your 1000% attention.

      1. amoeba*

        When I’m in home office, boring, camera-off meetings where I don’t need to talk much (and ok, also the interesting ones, actually!) are the best for getting some knitting done. Bonus that it actually makes me more focused, unlike browsing askamanager or whatever else I might get up to otherwise!

        1. KateM*

          I have noticed the same about solving sudokus or the like! It must be about different parts of brain used for different things because I can’t listen to and read text, even the SAME text (as in, reading presentation and listening to the person presenting it), at the same time.

          1. J*

            When I went through chemo during college and had the worst brain fog and all loss of short-term memory and a huge dip on executive functioning, a social worker at my hospital told me to do sudoku. She had me do page after page while listening to lectures and my retention of material shot up a ridiculous amount. We found somehow that it helped my brain focus and to this day when I have grief brain fog or anxiety/depression issues, laying that in helps me still look like a strong performer.

        2. MsSolo (UK)*

          Knitting is one of my go tos, and I just started needle felting (some meetings just make you want to stabby stabby in a safe and productive way!). Something that doesn’t involve reading, because I always think I can just skim that one email and end up missing about ten minutes of meeting because it turns out I can’t just multitask like that.

        3. allathian*

          Yeah, I play simple puzzle games like Candy Crush on my own phone. It helps me avoid zoning out completely in virtual meetings where my active participation isn’t necessary.

        4. Delta Delta*

          I keep a crossword puzzle on paper next to my computer for long, boring virtual events. I can stay engaged and simultaneously look like I’m taking notes. From time to time I look up and visibly show that I’m holding a pen.

        5. Dinwar*

          Crochet for me. I have a piece I’m working on when work is frustrating, boring, or otherwise annoying. I’m not sure if I’m going to light it on fire (release the energy) once I’m done, or turn it into an alter cloth (make something beautiful/useful out of it).

          I’ve also doodled. I’ve been in a LOT of meetings where I was only involved in 10-15 minutes of the meeting, and for the rest of the time I was just a butt in a seat. So I took to doodling about the stuff other people were discussing. It came in handy twice, when contractors sent my doodles to their bosses because the doodles explain the process better than text did.

        6. AngryOctopus*

          I have cross-stitched and embroidered my way through many a meeting that only requires me to listen. It really helps me focus!

          1. Donkey Hotey*

            I wish I had your brain, AO. When I cross-stitch, I can’t even listen to music with words in English or else I lose my count.

            But meetings ARE a great time to bobbin–ate.

        7. Gal Friday*

          I save my laundry folding for the all staff meeting or webinars where you are in “listen only” mode. I like the feeling of accomplishing something and it is easy to have a couple of laundry baskets in the home office. I’m still able to listen/contribute to the meetings.

        8. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

          Painting nails does that too! Pleasant, time consuming, and helps you listen instead of being tempted to read your phone.

          1. sometimeswhy*

            I only work from home once every other week and those are my nail polishing days. The interval works out really nicely!

        9. Ms. Murchison*

          Something lightly physical is perfect. Knitting is good, and sometimes I turn off my camera and do some squats or arm exercises. Anything more work-like or entertaining is going to distract you, but physical movement can help you focus on the discussion.

      2. Phryne*

        Doodling worked for lots of people in the in-person meeting age, I’d say it transfers to online meetings. Just have a pad and pen handy.

      3. Gracie*

        My phone has both work Slack and internet friends Discord, and their interface feels so similar that I keep one in light mode and one in dark mode so that they’re noticeably different – although that’s less for “accidental message sending” reasons and more because I kept losing track of which custom emojis were associated with which app

      4. Varthema*

        I find that work tasks pull my focus from the meeting altogether, which usually isn’t the end of the world but isn’t ideal either. Coloring works well though – I have some fancy new pens and some patterns to color and it keeps my brain on the meeting. Actual multi-tasking just means you’re switching your focus back and forth very quickly which isn’t productive, in the end.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          I’ve been known to compose displays on my Lite-Bright! It’s pretty good for keeping my tethered at my desk while still listening. Or I clean my office.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        Separate devices, or at least separate apps!

        A whole lot of modern drama gets generated because the secret love notes, snarky asides, recipe for cannoli, records of embezzlement, name of that plant we bought for the corner spot by the elm, and Aunt Gladys’s new address are now all kept in the same place.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Old sit-com premise, new century.
          I can just imagine Jack, Janet, and Chrissy dealing with that situation.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      And remember, you can’t trust that the person you’re messaging with won’t accidentally share it!! I have a coworker who isn’t that tech savvy and I had someone else message me to tell me that she’s shared her screen and her notifications were popping up.

      If I’m sharing something from my computer in a meeting, I always close out all messaging apps like Team or Slack and only share the app I’m in, never my actual screen.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Definitely. Also, log out of meetings and set up an entirely new one before discussing the meeting and the goings on with a subset of people who attended.

      Brought to you by someone who has learned from other people’s bad examples and horror stories of client meeting port-mortems that were overheard by clients.

      NEVER cross the streams!!

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Yes – especially now that other platforms like Zoom are adding Teams-like chat features. Even if you’ve left the meeting, you still have access to the chat.

  12. Code monkey manager*

    LW3, I’m currently hiring for a job and I got 300 applications. I’m interviewing 5 of them and it was not a difficult decision to cut it down that far… there were a couple days where I thought I wouldn’t even find that many I wanted to interview. A good application will absolutely stand out in a pool of several hundred. (And oh boy do I now have some strong opinions on what makes an application good. I wish I could send all these applicants AAM’s cover letter advice.)

    1. Bast*

      Yes! In the last interview I was in, there were close to 200 applicants. Of those 200, about 25-ish made it to initial phone screens, and and 7/8 in person interviews. Of the 200, I would say AT LEAST half were instantly trashed for having a poor work history, absolutely no history in the field or relevant skillset, very poor attention to detail in the resume, etc.

    2. Frickityfrack*

      My team got 65ish for a position we’re hiring for with very minimal requirements besides customer service skills and an ability to proofread. I haven’t finished reading them all yet, but the vast majority of applications are a mess. So many people apply to everything they see, whether or not it’s a match for their skills, and they can’t be bothered to put in even the bare minimum to remove typos. I would literally never be worried about a large number of other applicants after this and the last position we hired for.

      I’m with you though – I would kill to be able to provide feedback to all of these applicants. Like, “Please don’t put ‘Age 26’ on your resume. Please DO put the dates you were employed at the jobs you list.” Or, “If you say you’re detail-oriented and then immediately misspell the city you live in, that’s not very convincing.” OR, “Please don’t list your entire family as references.” That last one happened twice.

      1. Code monkey manager*

        “Please don’t include quotes you find inspirational in your resume, but if you do, please first google the author and check whether the first hit is about their career as a con artist.”

      2. kim*

        I’m also currently hiring – only 55 applications, thankfully – and I have also developed Strong Opinions about applications. The fixer part of me really wants to deliver personalized feedback. Like, perhaps don’t spend the first two paragraphs of your cover letter talking about all the ways this wouldn’t be the same old boring cover letter. Or maybe put details under the jobs you list rather than just making a word cloud of skills completely untethered to the jobs or any details. Or hey, maybe make sure the dates are correct and you don’t have entries like “MBA State University, expected completion Winter 2018” when we are here in 2023.

    3. Ms. Murchison*

      Oof, I feel you Code monkey manager. There’s so much garbage to sift through to find real applicants. Many of our applications seem like AI or bots; we got a dozen Indeed applications with the same single character answers to the questions we asked in place of cover letters. So annoying. And all the form follow-up emails that say they’d love to share more of their experience with us, when they didn’t bother to fill out the application questions where we asked for that.

      So LW3, I second Code monkey manager. The hiring manager may be hoping to find a coherent application like yours in that stack of 300.

  13. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    LW1: why are you not treating this like any other disciplinary action you stumbled across? If Wakeen is in the stairwell watching porn on his phone and George tells him he has one chance to cut it out, just because you were walking up the stairs that day and heard doesn’t make you part of it. If the owners come back to George and tell him he failed, why would they look to anyone else to blame?
    If you are concerned they would, they sound like A-holes, like Bob.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        OP is extra worried about getting George in trouble, because if he’s fired the only managers left will be the awful ones.

    1. Beth*

      It sounds to me like a good example of how an overall toxic environment really messes up everyone’s perception of normality, even the people working in the less toxic sections.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Agreed. This reaction seems like such an over reaction to a manager making an executive decision about his staff member.

  14. ADHD lawyer*

    OP5: I have a OneNote file with a list of about 30 pharmacies and their phone numbers and what they each said every single time I called them from Feb-May of this year, and every single thing my health insurance company said every time I called THEM (which changed every time) and a log of everything I asked my doctors office for and when (different dosages, paper prescription, where they heard it was in stock, how many times I asked them to change it and when). I feel your distress on this SO deeply and I was doing it with reduced executive function too and it triggered massive anxiety. I never thought of calling our EAP. if it happens again, I will.

    1. Too Stunned To Speak*

      I’ve been in the same boat with my child’s ADHD meds (and my own poor executive functioning). I’m curious what strategy LW5 learned!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Oldest, in grad school, scored a dentist appointment through the school because the fifth avenue she tried said “Sure, we’ve got plenty of appointments on that Monday, what time works for you?” Which was not what the first four avenues said.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I am extremely impressed with your thoroughness, ADHD lawyer. If I ever need an attorney, I will give you a call.

      1. ADHD Lawyer*

        LOL, thanks. But I was not doing my best lawyering at that particular time in life for sure. Doing fine now.

    4. AVP*

      And they say us ADHDers aren’t organized! (I am very impressed by you.)

      Also commiserating on how hard it is to figure this stuff out, particularly with reduced exec function. I need to drive four states away to my in-law’s beach house to refill my scrip, and it’s somehow worth it to do that because it’s so hard to find meds where I actually live.

    5. Adhd lobbyist*

      100% this. Also way to hyper focus on documenting those challenges! I never thought to call the EAP and it’s a great reminder that I should when challenges like this come up. The level of hurdles to get adhd meds is so hard to cope with.

    6. NotBatman*

      @ADHD lawyer: Not gonna lie, I have anxiety just from reading your description. I’m going without a drug right now thanks to the shortage. I’m 90% fine, but this just reminded me why I’ve decided it’s not worth the cost to my mental health to try and obtain said drug.

    7. JustaTech*

      I did this as well, but since I was on maternity leave I didn’t have access to our EAP (and didn’t even think to ask if they might be able to help).

      Is anyone in Congress investigating the DEA on their failures that caused this shortage?

    8. LW 5 - EAP fan*

      LW5 here –
      here are my two things from the EAP convo which are so specific to my health insurance that they might not be useful to anyone else, but maybe:

      my company’s EAP (which is robust) has access to a program called FamilySource (I think) which is a database which (I think) they can use to see what’s available. So calling back the EAP and asking to speak to the medical people about FamilySource was the plan B that the EAP person and I came up with in my initial EAP call – I’d have asked about what meds were in stock where (ex. if Vyvanse was out of stock, I’d have checked on Concerta and other variants.) Then I would have gone back to the pediatrician (who is flexible) and said “here are the meds that are in stock locally, can we consider switching brands of ADHD meds for this month?”

      But the plan A that we came up with on the call actually worked. My daughter’s pediatrician had mentioned a few months ago that CVS Caremark mail order sometimes has better stocks of medicines than your average retail pharmacy. My experience with Caremark several years ago was that it SUCKED and was slow so I was reluctant, but the pediatrician’s office said they’re often better these days at getting things processed more quickly.

      so, I called Caremark and spoke to someone who confirmed they had the specific medication my daughter needs, and who also confirmed that the time that they’d be able to get it into the mail. The person I talked to also gave me a phone number for a Caremark express dispatch (blanking on the name) so it would get to us as fast as possible.

      I emailed the pediatrician on thursday with this information, including Caremark’s express phone number (this was new to the pediatrician.) The pediatrician confirmed on friday morning that they’d received my message and would check out the express dispatch service and transfer the prescription, and we had the meds by Monday evening.

      I know not everyone’s EAP will have access to FamilySource, I know not everyone’s healthcare will have Caremark as an option. And I also got lucky bc the EAP person said “oh actually this isn’t really the core of what I do, but I helped someone in my personal life with this exact situation earlier in the summer and I can help you brainstorm ideas as well beyond calling every freaking pharmacy in {major metro} area” – the EAP person, in other words, was empathetic and resourceful and genuinely wanted to help.

      I noted in my letter that a big part of what I needed help with was basically body doubling on the phone and brainstorming solutions that weren’t so time-intensive, because I have ADHD and was eking it out on a 1/3 prescription myself, also I have a very meeting-heavy job and unfortunately can’t just grind it out phone call by phone call. My kid is special needs way beyond ADHD and my husband is disabled and I spend about ~10 hours a week on advocacy for both of them on top of a full time job that I can’t afford to lose because it’s our only income source and also, hahahaha, our source of healthcare. Hence my panic.

      ADHD lawyer, your method was what I was planning on and thinking of it it made me so anxious and overwhelmed that I couldn’t get started – what I initially was hoping for from the EAP was to help me at least narrow down the list!! – but it worked out a lot better than that.

      1. ADHD Lawyer*

        It’s all I could do! Appreciate the “you’re so organized” comments, y’all, but all that was done through desperate tears and massive anxiety stomach. It was just sheer desperation and it was one of the hardest things I’ve done and work definitely slipped a bit. What finally worked was just persistence and actually sort of luck- my doctor called the prescription into the wrong Kroger (a different one than I asked for) and turns out the wrong Kroger had it for about five minutes and I got lucky. And the month after that the shortage had let up a bit and I only had to wait a week. And the month after that and since then it’s been fine. But better believe I’ve held onto that list. (I did actually try Focalin during that time and was about to try Ritalin too before I got lucky… Focalin kinda sorta worked just enough to get me moving but didn’t help a ton.)

  15. Decidedly Me*

    LW3 – if you’re qualified and interested, I’d still apply. We get many hundreds of applications to our jobs and so many clearly are a bad fit or don’t have the right experience, etc. If a job has Easy Apply on, then there is an even higher chance that a lot of applications aren’t great.

    LW4 – in my personal experience, every time I’ve cut an interview that short, it’s because it was obviously clear that the person I was interviewing wasn’t a good fit. When the interview has ended just a little sooner than scheduled, it’s typically because the interviewee is more succinct in their answers and/or had no questions at the end.

    1. Blackbeard*

      LW#3, in my experience, 400-500 applicants is a very normal number for a job in a well-known company or research center. A crappy, unknown startup company will get maybe 30-50 applicants. (This is for the EU; I think for the U.S. won’t be much different.)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        This is also good information for all those who have questions about whether their resume is a mess because they weren’t offered an interview for the first three jobs they applied to or why they didn’t get a job despite doing a good interview. With those numbers, it’s quite possible to be a stellar candidate and still miss out because there was somebody else just slightly better.

      2. londonedit*

        In my industry (UK book publishing), especially for entry level jobs, it’s very common for adverts to include a line saying ‘We expect a high volume of applications for this position. Please be aware that only successful candidates will be contacted for interview’. It’s not unusual to have a couple of hundred applications.

      3. Emmy Noether*

        I know someone who works for a EU- institution you’ve definitely heard of. They routinely get over a thousand applications for permanent posts. Because it’s a public institution, they have to review every single one. It’s wild.

      4. amoeba*

        Yeah, even for my position in R&D in a not-super-well-known large company, there were definitely several hundred applications – I know because the HR person in the interview told me how they were a bit overwhelmed! Can only imagine how it must be in the “fancy dream job” places (big pharma, google…)

        However – I did get that job! So, definitely worth a shot.

  16. Beth R*

    My Employee Assistance Program is fairly garbage in many respects.

    However! I had a problem where my prescribing psychiatrist moved right when I was hired here and my insurance was changing and the EAP reps only had the same info as the website – all doctors who were unable to take new patients. Until I asked about local outpatient programs for mental hospitals. The rep was able to look that up and provide contact info. Within 10 minutes I was on the phone with someone who had *available* doctors who accepted my insurance and gave me numbers, then directly connected me to the one they thought would best suit me!

    I’m with a different provider 6 years later but they helped me make sure I could continue my meds uninterrupted, and that’s a huge deal for me. And bless the reps, they only have the info they have but may look deeper when you’re not a jerk about “I already called them!” and ask nicely if they know of alternatives.

  17. Z*

    #5 I don’t have anything to add except to send you some love. We’re in the same boat with the shortage, hopefully it will be resolved soon

  18. Jade*

    I think the it’s your career not mine is dead serious. I’d apologize, turn off streaming, stop with sarcastic messages and pay attention to the boring meeting. Think how you would feel if your job disappeared tomorrow.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Completely agree. Comments like LW’s reinforce the belief that remote workers aren’t working.

      1. Emmie*

        People send sarcastic messages. It happens. Yet, it is wildly unprofessional to watch a movie during a staff meeting. If you would not do something during an in person, don’t do it remotely.
        The most productive and helpful advice I have is this: Apologize. Stop streaming movies. It can be hard to pay attention during meetings. I found that rocking my chair side to side helps me focus, or standing up, or walking around holding my laptop, or doodling. And, lastly, figure out if working remotely at this company is really best for you. If it’s not, move on.

        1. NotBatman*

          Yes! Knitting, doodling, small puzzles, sudoku, etc. are all socially acceptable ways to help with focus during meetings. (I take notes, not because I need to but because I get sooooo bored if I don’t.) At least until this blows over, OP2 should probably stick with one of those.

  19. gsa*

    Question, wall of words, answer, wall of words…

    It could be me, but it makes it difficult to keep track. I know how to read and write, but that is a lot of words.

    1. SarahKay*

      I suspect some of it is due to the fact that in past columns if LW’s haven’t given enough detail then commenters tend to speculate wildly on backstory, so now LW’s familiar with the site want to make sure they’re giving *all* the information.
      Also, from the opposite point of view – I really love the long questions and answers. I like the detail and find them (usually) more interesting than the three-line ones.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Someday, letters here will be the length of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy to accommodate all possible commenter fanfic scenarios, and all the potential multiverses arising from said scenarios.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah I’m confused–to me a “wall of text” is when they *don’t* use any paragraphs. I do see posts like that on reddit sometimes and it is too overwhelming so I don’t bother reading it. Formatting is important! But… these *are* formatted well into nice-sized paragraphs. If someone doesn’t want to read even that much, then why are they on a letter-based advice website lol.

    2. Czhorat*

      This is a text-based workplace advice column. Words are the usual vehicle for expression here.

      If you don’t want words there’s always YouTube or TikTok. If you want very small chunks of words there’s “X”.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      It’s definitely you. You may not be used to reading large blocks of text anymore if you spend a lot of time on social media.

      I don’t even understand what you’re trying to say. Words make it difficult to keep track of…?

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The indented quote system of distinguishing questions and answers separated by question headlines has been standard for decades, from online forums to advice columns. This is an internet literacy issue, not an issue with the blog.

    5. Justme, The OG*

      Are you telling Alison that she’s doing her blog wrong? You could always start your own if you think hers is too hard to read.

        1. KateM*

          I have read a good many videos which could have as well been a bunch of tweets with illustrations. Would have saved time.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I want to see the “coworker who stole my lunch accused me of poisoning him” saga as a dance performance. It would be riveting!

  20. nodramalama*

    I’m so confused by the implication for LW2 that its unreasonable to expect people to attend meetings on fridays and so watching real housewives during the meeting would be acceptable, and its just embarassing they messaged the wrong people.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Alison wasn’t implying that watching TV during a meeting is ok — LW’s annoyed that they have to attend an hour long meeting on Fridays and Alison was pointing out that being required to attend meetings isn’t unreasonable.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s an informal category “The thing you think is the problem is not the actual problem.”

    3. Czhorat*

      I side-eye late-afternoon meetings on Fridays, particularly in the wintertime. Not only does nobody want to start their weekend late, but there is a real potential religious sensitivity issue for Jewish people who observe the Sabbath.

      Otherwise, Friday is a workday. The boring all-hands meetings have to happen sometime and in some industries Friday ends up being a quieter day for it.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I work mostly in virtual training, and we don’t schedule stuff on Friday afternoons, and if we can avoid it, days going into/right after 3 days weekends, because our attendance tanks. And a not insignificant amount of our clients are on flextime and work 4 day workweeks.

      2. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

        Yeah I think afternoon meetings on Fridays are in a lot of companies considered a faux pas, or at least something that had better have a justification in being scheduled for that time. You still do then when you have to, though.

        1. Czhorat*

          There’s a running gag at my office that I *hate* noon meetings because it makes me miss juggling in the park at lunchtime. I try to schedule around it, but if that’s the only time a client is available then someone else on the team will just say, “Sorry, Czhorat. No juggling today”.

          The key is that it’s a joke, and everyone knows that if I’m needed at that time then I’m needed.

    4. londonedit*

      We’re encouraged not to arrange external meetings on Fridays, and there are no official internal meetings on Fridays either. That’s not to say occasional Friday meetings don’t happen, if it’s the only time people can do, but generally Fridays are supposed to be kept as meeting-free as possible.

      So in the OP’s case, a Friday afternoon meeting would probably elicit an eye-roll and a ‘can’t believe they’ve organised a meeting for a bloody Friday’ response from me – and I have the sort of relationship with my boss where I might send them a message about it. ‘Really could do without a Friday afternoon meeting!’ sort of thing. I might also text a friend to say ‘Can’t believe I’ve got a bloody Friday meeting…is it acceptable to start on the gin at 3pm?’ or something. So I don’t see it as a hugely, horribly unprofessional thing to have done. I think most people of my acquaintance would have taken it as a joke or a bit of hyperbole rather than assuming anyone was actually watching TV – just as I’m not literally going to hit the gin at 3pm even if I really want to.

      1. CTT*

        But it sounds like Friday meetings are part of OP’s office culture if this a recurring meeting, so they need to learn to adapt to it.

        1. Czhorat*

          Yeah, this is very office-dependent.

          For some offices it might make sense for internal meetings to happen on Friday if there are no external meetings scheduled. For some Friday might be a heads-down work day.

          In very few offices is the expectation “chill out and watch some Real Housewives”

          1. AnonORama*

            I like the idea of Fridays a day where meetings are somehow just not allowed, like someone puts it on the calendar and it magically winks out of existence because…Friday! Alas, that’s not the case at a lot of workplaces, but you can minimize the misery. My current job has a standing Friday morning meeting, sometimes moved to the afternoon if too many folks have external meetings in the morning. It’s a little irritating, but the organizer keeps it snappy moving through the agenda, stopping people from going into excessive detail or having sidebar convos, etc. (And we don’t currently have any observant Jewish people in this group, but if someone had to skip it or step out early to observe Sabbath, that would be fine.) It is doable, and if folks are watching TV, at least they’re managing to only text each other about their shows instead of chatting the whole office.

        2. Cake or Death*

          “We were in a meeting that was repetitive and annoying simply because it’s an hour long, on a Friday, and it’s Q4. This is a mandatory meeting throughout the month of October.” And it seems like it’s only mandatory in October, so like they can’t manage to sit in a meeting for a total of 4 hours in one month?

    5. judyjudyjudy*

      Sometimes meetings happen on Fridays so teams have time to get final results/final numbers/presentations together. And it’s still a work day!

    6. Gyne*

      Yeah, part of my side-eye here is that I’ve worked food service and retail (lots of Fridays, nights, weekends) and now am in medicine (24/7 coverage required). There’s nothing especially protective about Friday that prevents people from getting then. it’s a regular day just like any other. And all those people not working on Fridays and out running errands or getting coffee or whatever are able to do so because other people are working FOR them.

    7. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I had a meeting for a while that was long, truly pointless, and once it was via zoom was kind of a zombie meeting nobody would remove from the calendar despite a complete lack of utility for the team (because it had a purpose back when we were all in person). So I feel LW’s pain there. However, even so I can’t even imagine watching TV during and Slacking commentary. Like… maybe quietly read a news article that I’ve carefully lined up so that you don’t notice what direction my eyes are looking. But completely tuned out? Yikes.

  21. West Bromich*

    #2: IMO, sending that type of message over Slack is just asking for trouble. I guess I would give it a courtesy laugh if I got that message, but it’s wholly unnecessary to send at all.

    1. Lexi Vipond*

      Fortunately conversations between two people who are not you are not required to meet your standards of humour or importance.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think West touches on a genuine current office dilemma, when the person trying to start a snarky side-chat with you on the office Slack channel is not picking up that you do not put that stuff in writing on work devices.

        It’s the early stages of “I screwed up, so I realized that if I dragged some coworkers out here on the plank with me, then we would be a loyal band of comrades!” and the coworkers are like “No.”

          1. Constance Lloyd*

            I’ve been the recipient of messages like this (and worse) and the sender could take neither a hint. Thankfully I read this blog so after a handful of hints I also told her very directly to stop sending these to me. She switched to texting. She did great work but as a result I have a very negative opinion of her overall, to the point that I refused to be a peer reference for her later job search.

      2. Fulana del Tal*

        Wasn’t the whole point was that she didn’t just message another person but an entire group? She made it group message, so anyone who got the message could reply to her or yes question the importance of the message.

        1. Elsewise*

          She intended to message one person to joke about what she was doing instead of paying attention, not to start a conversation with the broader team about the importance of a meeting. West’s point is that LW shouldn’t have sent the message at all, even if it was just to one coworker.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        But if you want to send that, text it. Slack messages are not private. It is very bad judgment to be sending those kinds of messages on a work system at all.

      4. Observer*

        Fortunately conversations between two people who are not you are not required to meet your standards of humour or importance.

        Sure. But then you need to be REALLY careful not to actually send it to people whose opinion you don’t want.

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      LW#2 is clearly a slacker. i.e. the message was “embaressing” but not untrue about her plans to watch a TV instead of listening to a mandatory meeting and how she was interacting now in order to disguise her lack of partipation later. Also her letter starts off explaining why she knows better than her bosses about how she should spend her work time. Also she thinks watching terrible reality TV is a better use of her work hours.

      LW#2 is misreading a lot of things. But unless she misreading her relationship with her “best friend,” I’d bet her best friend is a fellow slacker and would have been amused by the message.

      Me, on the other hand, would not be her friend at all, but I would not find her schemes funny at all.

    3. Isben Takes Tea*

      I will never forget the advice of a senior colleague who looked me straight in the eye with the seriousness of experience and said, “Never put anything in writing at work you wouldn’t want to read out loud in a deposition.” It has saved me from sharing a lot of snarky humor that, while funny and apt, could definitely be taken badly out of context.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        I used to tell all of my direct reports that exact thing. I would also add “Assume you will accidentally Reply to All, or send to a company-wide channel. Assume everything you send is being saved.” I have gotten thank you notes about that years later as people watched coworkers get let go for just the kind of thing LW2 is describing.

  22. Elle by the sea*

    OP4: such short zoom interviews are common in my field, where at least 3-4 interview rounds are the norm. The first few calls in the interview process are generally like this. It doesn’t mean anything positive or negative, nor does it tell anything about the interviewer’s level of experience or interest in the candidate.

    1. rollyex*

      I also I wonder if those short interviews are what we call phone screens with HR or a junior staff – just to make sure the person understands the job and is eligible, and to get just an impression of them – not detail. And also for the applicant to have the opportunity to ask basic questions.

      It’s certainly important to be “on” in these, but they are not the full interview with the hiring manager. They are typically just a few questions.

      We schedule them for 15 minutes so maybe that’s not what the OP means.

    2. Bast*

      I wonder too if it was an actual interview or an initial screen. For an initial screen, 10-15 minutes is what I’d expect.

      I have seen actual interviews cut short, and it’s usually because either you change your mind about something that you previously had stated in the phone screen (ie: you state in the phone screen you are looking for a full time position, and then change your mind in the actual interview and state you only want part time, your salary expectations go up enormously to the point where no amount of negotiating is going to meet in the middle, etc), OR you really rubbed someone the wrong way (HR took particular umbrage at some of the garb people wore for interviews), OR you lied and got caught out during the interview. The last one was particularly common in my field, as frequently we were hiring for bilingual individuals to translate, which was always made clear in the ad. I am not sure why you would apply for a position where translating is a major component if you do not speak the language that needs to be translated, as that is quickly, and easily, discoverable, but that happened more than once. Occasionally, there would be another reason — we already had a really strong candidate, but would power through the interviews already scheduled (sometimes a later candidate would surpass the prior amazing candidate, so it was never a “set in stone” thing, but if it was clear that they didn’t match up, we wouldn’t carry on anyway) or someone was already feeling sick, tired, the interview started late and ran over, etc. These interviews are usually second round for us though, after the phone/zoom call.

    3. NotBatman*

      Yes! It’s been my experience that the first call is often “can you tell us what’s on your resume off the top of your head?” to rule out fakers. Takes 10 minutes at most, especially if it’s an expert calling an (alleged) expert.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, and the last phone screen I had was not one where I would expect a lot of time for candidate questions–I asked a few but it was with a recruiter in HR who didn’t actually know a lot of the specifics and really all she could tell me was the salary range.

  23. Alex Rider*

    I also think the manager that said, “it’s your career not mine” is serious. I would apologize and try my best to really focus in these meetings even if they are on a Friday and boring. I would also text your friend and not message them over slack.

  24. Anon for This*

    OP5 I am so glad the EAP was a help to you! I called mine yesterday because I realized there was a family trauma thing this week… and they sent me a referral to a therapist that they hadn’t finished contracting with! I had to call back and… honestly I was too Done to call the next person they set me. It felt like I asked for a life preserver and they tossed me a brick, and it took a lot to just ask for help in the first place!

  25. KK*

    Re: LW3, this varies widely by field and type of position, right? I honestly can’t imagine there are more than a couple thousand people in the country who’d ever be interested in my current (niche health care) job. Even when I’ve hired for less specialized but still fairly technical health care roles (like primary care nurse practitioners), it’s taken months to get a couple dozen applications.

  26. rollyex*

    #3 I have far less hiring experience than AAM, but for people working for me, it’s typically 60 to 100 applicants by the time we start phone screens.

    Of those a third rise to the top, though even among those many don’t even hit every aspect of the job. Then (me and HR) do some ranking to get 12-15 we should move forward with in a phone screen. If you’re a decent fit for most of the job and interested, go for it. Or at least don’t let 50 people applying dissuade you.

    1. Bast*

      We have ruled out plenty of candidates with the needs vs. nice to haves. Almost no one ever matches 100% (unicorns do happen sometimes) but certain things we couldn’t ignore. If we absolutely needed someone who can translate Dothraki and you don’t know Dothraki, you were instantly out, even if you would be an instant hire otherwise and were amazing in every other regard. Just that one “must have” criteria would tend to knock out anywhere from a third to half of the applicants from the get go. We’d then take all the candidates who did speak Dothraki and find the most favorable among them — some might only tick half the boxes, but we’d be willing to waive things like experience and degree for the right Dothraki speaking individual. Getting a candidate who ticked all the boxes was so, so rare. I’d agree to not let the numbers scare you, particularly because you may have the one skill they really need that may not be so common, regardless of how many other applicants there are.

  27. Hiring Mgr*

    I agree #2 was a misstep, but if you’re generally a good and responsible employee this wouldn’t even register as more than a joke (to me) and probably would be forgotten by most pretty quickly.

    #1 it sounds like it’s taken care of, but one question I have is why did Melanie immediately go out and buy and then take a drug test? That seems like a weird response to the whole thing

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Why does that seem like a weird response? She doesn’t want to be accused of taking drugs at work, that’s a pretty easy way to put the question to rest.

      I wouldn’t REQUIRE an employee to do that, particularly at their own cost, but offering proactively seems like a reasonable reaction.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I guess because it didn’t seem like anyone was accusing her in the first place since it says everyone knows about her daughter’s drug issues.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Eh we have no details about that part of the conversation and it’s all second hand, having them on the premises could still trigger a disciplinary conversation and the drug test is a CYA.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree. And honestly even though I am opposed to random drug screening at work, I don’t think I’d even balk if the employer did require in this one particular instance. It’s better for everyone–but especially for her–to be able to include the fact that she passed the drug test in any discussion on the matter.

  28. I should really pick a name*

    Maybe it would help to apply directly instead of through LinkedIn.
    That way you wouldn’t see the number of applicants which could removed a bit of a psychological barrier.

    1. SnowyRose*

      I second this. I think whenever possible, it’s almost always best to go through a company’s portal instead of LinkedIn. The resumes we get through LinkedIn are almost always formatted weird and take longer to parse.

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Even though I always applied through the company’s site, I used LinkedIn as a job search tool, and it showed the number of “applicants”.

  29. cabbagepants*

    #5 EAP success story — can you say more about what the EAP did for you? Did they just help you talk things through, or did they have concrete advice beyond what you already knew?

    I’m in a special hell right now trying to find a Covid booster for my infant daughter. The rules around vaccines are different for children under 2 (pharmacies can’t administer them in my state). I live in an affluent blue state that in theory has a robust system for getting people vaccinated, but in practice all the resources only really deal with shots for adults and the information they have for kids under 2 is flat-out wrong. When I call around (pediatrician, pharmacy, regular doctor, etc) no one has any concrete information but is just totally sure that if I call this *other* person, they will definitely know. So I spend the day on the phone being chirpily told that actually the problem doesn’t exist and to just call someone else.

    Sorry for the rant but I wonder if an EAP might be able to help cut through the crap. I have fine executive function so merely talking it through won’t help.

    1. Lila*

      ugh, my sympathy – I had this problem earlier this year. finally got some recs for two urgent care places from my local parent listserv but it was so frustrating when our pediatrician had no advice.

    2. Doc McCracken*

      Not sure about the EAP program being helpful, but as a provider (not providing medical advice here!), I would direct you to your closest children’s hospital. Since they will be dealing with exclusively children and often very compromised children, they are most equipped to answer your questions and administer the vaccine to your child per whatever guidance there is in your case.

      1. cabbagepants*

        I know you mean well but this is the exact sort of generic guess and recommendation “oh try calling so-and-so, maybe they can help!” that got me no-where. Trust me, I called multiple children’s hospitals. The hospitals have hundreds of people and they never let you talk to an actual doctor without an appointment. Receptionists aren’t invested in actually helping me — they just shunt me back to the state run vaccine website (the one full of misinformation).

        1. Rachel*

          I don’t think doctors at childrens hospitals have the time to take questions like this over the phone.

          I sympathize with your frustration but I’m not sure what you are looking for right now.

          1. cabbagepants*

            I think this thread has kind of gone off the rails ><

            All I was asking was what services beyond "talking it through" EAPs offered for resolving messy availability issues with medical stuff.

            1. EmF*

              Honestly, it really depends on EAP provider and what your company’s contract with that provider covers. The one I work for offers telemedicine (I’ve used it and been online with a doctor usually in under 15 minutes once I’ve done the intake bit), but that’s a fairly recent development and not one that all companies are going to have. Best thing to do would be to call yours up and discuss it with them.

              1. EmF*

                (Also, quick advice to make things less irritating, because nobody likes hold music – busiest times are mornings, and the beginning of the week is less busy than the end of the week. If your EAP has a 24-hour call centre, calling after regular business hours is usually the way to go. Failing that, calling after 2pm is going to be best.)

        2. Fierce Jindo*

          Sorry to offer more generic advice, but have you tried outreach through multiple channels to your state, county, and city (if all exist) health departments? I ask because I work with people in those roles and I’ve seen situations where they get personally invested in a situation where the health department is failing people and try to help. (I’d also try my Congressional rep, city council rep, and writing to whatever local journalist did the best Covid reporting to pitch this as a story.)

          Mostly you have my great sympathy. I’m in a blue state with supposedly great health infrastructure and the way I got my 1.5-year-old boosted was my driving out of my racially diverse city to a clinic in an overwhelmingly white suburb. It’s infuriating.

          1. thatoneoverthere*

            I live in a mostly red state and our health departments can administer the vaccine to a pretty much anyone. Not sure about newborns but I am pretty sure you can do 18 month old.

            1. thatoneoverthere*

              Also Cabbage Pants, I know this is another try this. But I would try your hospitals omsbudsman. Explain how you have called around a bunch. Only to be shoved off to the next person. They may be able to help.

        3. Samwise*

          Receptionists “aren’t invested in helping you” because (1) they’re not trained to offer medical advice, or even non-medical advice of the “here’s an extensive list of possible resources” and (2) they’re busy helping patients

          They did actually help you — they referred you to a resource (they didn’t “shunt you” away). It’s not reasonable to expect them to know more (like, why should they know that the state run website has misinformation, when even doctors aren’t aware of that?) and to do more.

          Sorry-ish for the rant. Receptionists at children’s hospitals are, in my experience as a parent, incredibly kind and helpful — I’m close on 20 years dealing with them and have only encountered one unhelpful A-hole.

          I get the frustration. BTDT and continue to do so. Don’t take it out on people who don’t deserve it.

          1. cabbagepants*

            Don’t worry, I don’t take it out in the receptionist. My comment was basically agreeing with you, I think. Cold calling random receptionists (because that’s who you get connected to when you call a giant institution like a hospital without a specific name or office to seek out) has not gotten me any information beyond what’s on the first page of Google search results and so I have no expectation that more cold calls are going to be different.

        4. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

          Receptionists are prohibited from offering any clinical advice as it’s outside their scope of practice. And yes, most doctors have thousands of patients on their panels, so if they took short phone calls from each, no one’s appointments would start on time (even yours once you have one). Snagging a doctor to come to the phone for something like that is an unreasonable and unrealistic expectation.

          1. cabbagepants*

            Exactly, which is why I’m saying that the advice to just call a hospital for help, while well-intended, is not actually good advice.

    3. kalli*

      Not all EAPs are the same – the only way you’ll know if yours can help is to ask them.

      Additionally, talking it through can help regardless of the state of your executive functional ability – it’s not something with a utility that’s limited only to people who are neurodiverse, so that final comment comes off as ableist.

      1. cabbagepants*

        The LW said explicitly that they were suffering from lowered executive function and because of that, talking things through with the EAP was helpful for them.

    4. amoeba*

      I know you’re not asking us for advice here, so sorry in case you’re already aware! In Europe, there used to be quite an active Twitter community for that back in the day (off-label vaccination of children) – is that still a thing/a thing where you live? There were whole accounts dedicated to collating doctors/dates/special vaccination events/last minute availability, so maybe finding and following one of those would help…

    5. Minimal Pear*

      I would also love to know how the EAP helped/what they were able to do! And I feel you, Cabbagepants, I had such a hard time finding a dose of the most recent booster for myself that I caught COVID before I could get it.

  30. Anony Mas*

    #3, I’m a hiring manager at a pretty good sized media organization. Most of the applications I receive for open positions are total garbage — as in, the applicant is not even remotely qualified and, in many cases, not even in the same industry. I suspect there are services that auto-apply you for any job that gets posted on some of these jobs sites.

    I would ignore the numbers you’re seeing.

  31. r.*


    your current situation is an opportunity to learn early what many managers only learn much later, or not at all.

    One of the less advertised aspects of a managerial or leadership position is that sometimes you will need to make judgement calls where the “correct, but wrong” decision (the decision that you should make according to the rules of your organization, but one that you think produces a worse outcome) and the “right, but incorrect” decision (the decision that, in your best judgement, produces the overall best outcome, even if it violates policy) differ.

    The decision, then, becomes if the “wrong” part of the “correct” decision is in egregious imbalance to the “incorrect” part of the “right” decision, and if it is, you must give seriously consider to do what is right.

    Of course that doesn’t mean you should consider your organizational policies as optional; they aren’t. But good management does not consist of applying policy blindly and with zero tolerance, and hence any good manager will need to get good at exercising judgement.

    That of course brings with it that your superiors may disagree, and that disagreement may cost you your job; you did go against policy, after all. A good manager will understand and accept that.

    George clearly understood that, and in this instance decided to do what is right, and you agree with him that it was the best solution for the situation. For what it is worth I agree with both of you.

    George probably also understood that he might be fired over it, and accept it. If you become a supervisor in the future you may have to make a similar decision. As Alison points out, even with you knowing, you face a much lower risk right now. How you deal with that lower risk is a learning opportunity to how you manage the risks a manager needs to take.

  32. GhostGirl*

    #5 I literally just searched up and reread that article last night. My child is going through some things above my paygrade and I am at a loss as to how to find the right therapist. I remembered that interview and read it again, which reassured me that the EAP can help, it would be confidential, and totally the right move. I’m calling them today!

    1. Elsewise*

      Good luck! I’ve had success with calling my EAP for housing assistance before, and I know people who have found a therapist through that resource. I hope it helps your kiddo!

  33. ecnaseener*

    LW1, I’m curious how you think the owners would ever find out if you don’t tell them. You “ended up finding out” somehow – how? If it’s just that George told you as the assistant manager he’s training, it would be pretty wild for you to take that over his head out of a baseless fear that the owners will hear about it without you being the one to tell them.

    If it’s more like someone else saw the drug test and word spread across the team, then your worry is a little more understandable but still, there’s no reason for you to report it. You’re still being trained, and you didn’t mention the owners being unreasonable, so even if they disagree with George’s decision they’re not going to blame you for knowing about it – if anything, they’ll tell you not to handle that kind of thing the way George did.

    If anything, you could ask George about it as part of your training – how does he decide what to escalate to the owners vs loop them in after the fact vs not loop them in?

  34. Meghan*

    I feel like LW2’s best action might have been to joke about it IN the Slack channel. “JK, JK guys. TGIF.” And then send a “Friyay” giphy.

    At least at my org if I’d accidentally sent that to the team wide chat it could be brushed off as a joke.

    1. Dinwar*

      If the person has a good history and produces quality work, I’d brush it off as a joke. We’re humans, not worker ants; working in an environment with other humans you should expect things like non-work-related jokes and jokes about work. It’s a sign of a healthy environment, in fact–people feel comfortable enough to joke, with the understanding that everyone trusts each other enough to take it as a joke. To react with hostility violates that trust, and will harm team cohesion.

      Plus, there are some tasks where watching a TV show in the background simply wouldn’t be a problem. I have a stack of paperwork on my desk today that I need to input into a database. This is not brain science or rocket surgery; it’s important, but not heavy on cognitive demand, especially since the process involves long pauses. You can bet I’m going to be listening to a podcast or audiobook! If someone was doing this, or a task like it, while “Real Housewives” was on in the background and was able to do it accurately, I simply don’t care. If someone told me that they were doing so, I’d ask why they were bothering me with something so trivial.

      1. Bast*

        This. The only time it would truly sound a warning bell for me is if this is someone whose performance is already poor. For a good employee, I’d treat it as no different than someone listening to the radio while working.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Yeah, this is exactly what I would have done in this case. And then ensured I had one or two questions to ask throughout the entire meeting.

      1. Meghan*

        Yes that’s a good add. Joke about it off the cuff, then make sure you actively participate throughout the WHOLE meeting.

  35. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #2 “and I can continue watching Real Housewives.”

    Yikes. That gives a bad impression of your engagement/work ethic and of what you do when wfh.
    I hope neither your boss nor grander bosses saw that, or are informed about it (#1 reminds us that some people will inform about anything that seems off)
    Get your head down and work hard with no more goofing off during meetings, so you can hopefully repair any damage to your reputation.

  36. Delta Delta*

    #1 – This is dizzying. I don’t know why OP would get involved in this at all. Sounds like George handled the matter and everyone moved on.

  37. Sutemi*

    Sometimes a short phone screen has nothing bad to do with the candidate. Once my boss and I had a phone screen with our top candidate based on resumes and cut it out after 10 mins. That day had been crazy, it was 2pm and neither of us had eaten lunch yet. The candidate was personable and the skills on the resume were a great fit for job, we knew right away we wanted to bring them in for the in-person interview and said so. And then immediately ate some food, we were starving! Hired them the next week and it worked out great.

  38. Rosacolleti*

    #1 Was there part of the letter that explains why the
    OP doesn’t believe that the drugs don’t belong to Melanie’s daughter? Otherwise why is this even
    a thing to be mentioned?

    #3 Don’t let that stop you! Less than 20% of applications are in any way relevant to the role. Now LI have the annoying Quick Apply button, every Tom, Dick & Harry applies. My advice is to have a really nicely designed CV and compelling cover letter that directly addresses the job ad and how you tick the boxes.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      #1 Where do you get the impression that the OP doesn’t believe Melanie?

      #3 20% is a pretty specific number, and I’m curious where you’re getting it from.

      1. Myrin*

        Re #1, I think that’s Rosacolleti’s point – she’s saying that the only reason for OP to be concerned in this situation would be if she (OP) thought the drugs actually belonged to Melanie herself. Since the letter doesn’t say anything to that effect, Rosacolleti now wondering why OP is still thinking about this at all.

    2. Samwise*

      Doesn’t matter if the drugs belong to Melanie’s daughter. They were in Melanie’s desk, where Melanie put them (not smart, btw, leave that baggie in the car!), at Melanie’s place of work.

      1. SansSerif*

        It matters a lot. Everyone already knew about Melanie’s daughter. Melanie had no history of being incapacitated at work. I think the whole point here is to not blindly follow rules when they don’t make sense and could ruin someone’s career for no reason. Especially when someone else took care of it already. Melanie took a blood test, she passed, George was good with that. A sensible solution.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        If her story is the truth then she didn’t remove it from the car on purpose because she didn’t know it existed until she was already in the office, wearing the sweatshirt. Obviously never bringing into the building in the first place would have been ideal, but it was too late for that by the time she discovered it.

  39. Christmas Carol*

    I don’t understand what LW #1’s opening rant about Bob and Roger who lead the other group have to do with her situation with George and Melanie. Or that the groups are different sizes. For that matter, what does the fact that the owners are married have to do with the situation.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think the part about Bob and Roger was to give context for why LW is so worried about George being fired if it means Roger might take over their group. But yeah, it’s telling that all that gets so much space in the letter – like maybe LW is overwhelmed with the whole Group B interpersonal situation, and they’re not seeing the Melanie situation clearly because of that overwhelm and the fear of things getting worse at work.

      1. NotBatman*

        Also might explain why LW1 doesn’t trust Bob. If I saw a manager doing something shady*, there are grandbosses I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for help, and there are grandbosses I’d never speak to ever if possible.

        *Not to say that George’s response was shady, but it might’ve made LW1 uncomfortable.

  40. Rachel*

    1: I think people, in general, are really bad at assessing the real threat of drugs.

    This leads to a visceral reaction to drugs and I think it explains LW1’s behavior.

    Alison gave excellent advice in this situation.

  41. bamcheeks*

    LW2, contrary to everyone else, I don’t think that’s necessarily a particularly big deal. I’ve worked lots of places where “nobody really wants to go to the Friday all hands meeting” was kind of accepted as a given, and obviously you would generally try and avoid saying that in the chat but it would be a “wow, you really shouldn’t have said that in the chat, oops” not, WHERE IS YOUR WORK ETHIC, YOU SLACKER.

    If you think your manager might have any more general concerns about your work rate or anything, I would try and be a bit sharper over the next few weeks just in case it prompts anyone to look at you a bit more closely. But as part of a generally OK overall picture, I wouldn’t think this was a big deal.

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah, I said a bit further up but I took it more in the spirit that you’d take someone saying ‘Argh, Friday meetings…is it too early for a gin??’. As in, not totally seriously. Of course that wouldn’t be the best message to send to the meeting Slack chat either, but most people would be able to take it as an obvious joke and all it would take would be a ‘SO sorry, I really shouldn’t have posted that here!’ apology to smooth things over. Most people would probably be thinking the same thing! Of course the lesson here is not to post things in the work chat that you wouldn’t want everyone to see, but these things happen and surely it’s not the end of the world and the OP shouldn’t seriously need to worry about their career because of one lighthearted Friday message.

      1. kiki*

        I think what makes LW’s message a bit different than something like, “…is it too early for gin?” is that LW’s message conveyed that they were in the midst of executing the plan. LW’s message was more like, “I’ve gone on a mute and cracked open the gin.” Which could still be a joke, but is a bit more alarming from a manager’s perspective.

        If LW had said, “Should I ask questions now so I they won’t call on me and I can watch Housewives?” I think that would come across as more of a joke

        1. Dinwar*

          “LW’s message was more like, “I’ve gone on a mute and cracked open the gin.” Which could still be a joke, but is a bit more alarming from a manager’s perspective.”

          In my experience, reasonable managers take it as a joke and either move on, or join in the joke, or the discussion gets derailed into favorite adult beverages. I’ve heard such jokes made at numerous meetings and the absolute worst that has happened was someone said “Today’s crazy for me, can we dive in?”

          This probably is dependent upon the work environment, of course. That said, I’m not sure I’d want to work in an environment where a casual, extremely common (to the point of being trite) joke was considered a red flag. Management that uptight probably isn’t great at managing people, and I’m a people. I’m MUCH rather work in an environment where normal human interaction–including the occasional casual joke–is considered normal, rather than problematic.

          1. kiki*

            I don’t think I conveyed what I was trying to say well– what I think makes LW’s situation more serious is that it wasn’t clear that it was a joke. It read more as a genuine plan that they accidentally sent to the group instead of a DM. And from the letter, it sounds like LW genuinely was planning on watching Housewives during the meeting, but maybe I’m wrong!

            I don’t like overly stuffy work environments either. I’ve definitely made jokes about needing a drink when work has been a slog and would never want a to chastise anyone for making a clear, harmless joke. But I’ve also worked with people who were not really joking and they were drinking throughout the workday. A good manager has an ear for differentiating between the two situations, but sometimes when things are sent over chat, it’s hard to read tone/context/intent.

            1. Dinwar*

              “And from the letter, it sounds like LW genuinely was planning on watching Housewives during the meeting, but maybe I’m wrong!”

              The LW was, but that’s Out Of Character knowledge. The people reading the text had no way of knowing this. If the LW had their camera on and was obviously watching TV, that would be a totally different story (though even there I’d be skeptical–I have a dual-monitor setup, and the one away from my webcam has better resolution, so it always looks like I’m distracted). But for the LW’s coworkers to treat this as anything other than a standard bit of office humor is unreasonable, because it IS a standard bit of office humor and they have no way of knowing it wasn’t the standard usage.

              Actually, whether the LW was watching TV or not depends on a lot of things. I absolutely have watched TV in the middle of the day when I was working from home. I had already put in 100 hours that pay period, there were several hours between meetings, and I didn’t bill the time. If the LW was doing that, I’d be 100% okay with it. What you do on your time is none of my business so long as it doesn’t egregiously impact your ability to work, after all.

              Given the number of ways this could be 100% innocent, coworkers jumping to the conclusion that the LW isn’t behaving normally would be extremely weird and indicate a breakdown of trust in the organization.

              1. Cake or Death*

                “The LW was, but that’s Out Of Character knowledge.” …we don’t know that this was out of character. We don’t have any idea what type of performer LW is at work. I’d say her colleagues would have a much better idea of LW’s character than this commentariat would.

                “Given the number of ways this could be 100% innocent, coworkers jumping to the conclusion that the LW isn’t behaving normally would be extremely weird and indicate a breakdown of trust in the organization.”

                Not necessarily. If LW isn’t a good performer, then it would probably be an “aha!” moment to her colleagues/managers, as in, “Is this the reason her reports are always late/work isn’t completed/lots of errors/ lack of response on Fridays?”

                Plus, I agree with Kiki. While this could be seen as a joke, the words chosen give it a “tone” that seems less like a joke. “I’m talking now so they don’t call on me later and I can continue watching Real Housewives.” The bolded part to me is what makes it the most damning. It has an air of immaturity and flippantness that comes off more like “ugh, I can’t believe they actually expect me to work on a friday” as opposed to “I’m ready for the weekend, TGIF, amiright!”. It’s her putting her plan to deceive in plain text that makes it less jokey sounding, at least in my opinion.

                1. Cake or Death*

                  lol sorry Bolding fail. should have been

                  I’m talking now so they don’t call on me later

                2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

                  Yeah, to me it was what she actually said that was a big problem. She was explaining that she was talking now so she could do *something else* for the rest of the meeting.

                  Had the something else been “get that TPS report done before lunch”, it would not matter if everyone thought that was exactly what LW2 was doing. It shows she is flippant about the meeting because she wants/needs to get back to other work.

                  Even if the something else was “move my clothes from the washer to the dryer” or “let the handyman into my apartment to fix the stove” or something non-work but that probably needs to happen during the time the meeting is scheduled, people would understand.

                  Hell, even “so I can go back to eating my lunch” would be a fair statement.

                  It’s the fact she said she wanted to go back to watching TV and didn’t immediately respond with “Oh, no, that was a joke for Becky since we both love that show!”

                  The kindest read of the message is that it WAS a joke, but the joke was that literally the meeting is so boring she might as well be watching TV. And that isn’t a great look either.

  42. Bast*

    LW 4 — Allison is spot on. Some scenarios I have encountered when interviewing and this happens:

    1) We already have a bevy of strong candidates (or sometimes, one VERY strong candidate) from other interviews. In this case, we will still follow through with the interviews already scheduled. There have been times where we think we have *the perfect fit* and then someone else comes along and blows them out of the water. Ending it relatively early would be a sign we just didn’t think you were stronger than the other candidates and don’t want to waste anyone’s time further.

    2) Someone in the interview panel really doesn’t like you for some reason. Right or wrong, sometimes a person just rubs someone the wrong way. HR was big on being late and appropriate presentation. If you were excessively late to an interview, you weren’t getting hired. If you showed up in jeans and a sweatshirt, you weren’t getting hired. In Zoom, I can see this being a little less applicable — but I can still see HR being pretty upset if you have a 10:00 AM interview and you make no attempt to answer the call, then call back at 10:30.

    3) Someone does not meet the “must haves.” For example, we had one position where the ability to translate for clients was an absolute MUST, and a key component of the job. This was made clear in the ad, and was one of the few things we were unable to be flexible on. We had several people show up who admitted they did not speak the language we explicitly stated we needed someone to translate.

    4) The interviewer is feeling sick, tired, or otherwise having an awful day and is ready to take a nap in their home office.

    5) You were excessively late for your interview (also see point 2) and there is another interview/meeting/event scheduled in somewhat close proximity.

    6) You change your mind about things like hours and salary — similar to #3, but these are things usually covered in a phone screen that would have disqualified you in the first place. ie: your pay range is WAY out of the negotiable range, you tell us that you only want to work part time for what is advertised as a full time role. If it is very clear in the beginning there is a huge mismatch, there really isn’t a need to continue and waste everyone’s time.

    7) In some companies, yes, it may be that they already have a strong internal candidate and/or the boss’s nephew is getting the job, and it was only posted because they are required to.

    I’m sure there are more that I can’t even think of at the moment.

    1. K8T*

      Tough situation for Melanie to be in but George made (imo) the correct call and handled it so case closed. Snitching not required.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Usually I’m of the “everyone else doesn’t need to cover for you, and truthfully stating what you did is not ‘narcing’ or ‘squealing’ or ‘snitches get stitches’ behavior for adults.” Especially at work. All the unwilling witnesses do not need to help you in your cover-up.

      So it’s helpful to have this example where I’m like “This situation was handled and you should say nothing.”

    3. Student*

      Devil is in the details, though, isn’t it? I’ve narc’d out multiple co-workers for drinking on the job. Go ahead, laugh and hate me for narc’ing on something that’s not even illegal drug use! I’ll wait.

      In one case, they were running a particle accelerator and their drinking antics caused a significant security incident at said particle accelerator. The cops showed up before I’d even narc’d on them, they were on a real roll. My narc’ing ensured they never did it again – and no one got fired.

      In a different case, the guy was drinking before working in a lab. The lab contained a lot of hazardous stuff he could hurt himself or others with if he was even slightly impaired, including a high radiation area and hydrofluoric acid (fair warning – if you google this one, you will see some gruesome injury photos) among other fun things. But the lab’s main purpose, and our work, was to develop and use equipment that is for monitoring nuclear security threats for the government. So I narc’d and I eventually got him fired (this was a contributor, but by far not his biggest performance issue). I know it was a blow for him, but better for him to get fired by me than for him to either get injured in that lab, or jeopardize our work and potentially get other people killed.

      So go ahead and hate on narcs, but we’re doing it because drugs impair your judgement, and that can have real-world impacts that cause real harm. Do drugs and get drunk on your own time, out of my lab, and away from my equipment and data collection, and then I won’t care. Don’t make it my problem, and then you don’t have to worry about narcs.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I friend worked in a lab with hydrofluoric acid, and the “in case you spill it” warnings haunt me still.

        I assume the first example resulted in the creation of at least one supervillain, especially if a troop of penguins was touring the lab at the time.

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        There’s being a narc and then there’s being a narc. You witnessing active drinking in an environment where it posed a clear and immediate danger — being a narc, yes, but because of the clear danger. LW wanting to report something where there is *not* clear and immediate danger because 1) it happened in the past and 2) was handled — being a narc in a real jerk way.

    4. Gyne*

      Eh, I think that’s a pretty unhelpful oversimplification. Check out the “Dr. Death” podcasts sometime, for example.

      That said in this case, it’s already handled so there is little to gain from the OP “reporting” anything.

  43. Liz*

    #4 In my case as interviewer not only were they the weakest candidate on paper but they didn’t realize I’d previously held the same position at the same organization (different branches) and knew they were exaggerating at best about their previous responsibilities.

  44. Kesnit*

    Re: #1

    How did George and OP even know the substance was an illicit substance? If it was a pill, how does anyone know what the pill was? (I know there are sites where you can look up a pill by description, but that is time consuming and pills are not always well marked.) Maybe it was an OTC medication. Maybe Melanie’s daughter had a prescription for something.

    Drugs cannot be identified by sight. (I was a criminal defense attorney and am now a prosecutor. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read a police report that says “off-white crystalline substance” or “white powder.”) I’ve seen lab reports where suspected drugs turned out to be legal substances. (As a judge I used to appear in front of liked to say, “you just can’t trust drug dealers these days.”)

    I am guessing assumptions were made based on appearance (and maybe packaging). But without actual testing, there is no way to be sure what the substance was.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I think we can accept it when the LW tells us that drugs were found, and Melanie’s response supports that this was the case.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        True, and it could just as easily be something more identifiable like weed. “Drugs” isn’t terribly specific.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I don’t think specificity would alter the answer.
          Whether it was mild or strong drug, it was the manager’s call to make, The LW only seems to know about the situation second-hand, so really doesn’t have any obligation to do anything here.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I don’t think it’s about strong or mild, the question was more about why George jumped to “drugs” in the first place, which is a fair question without more context. If it was just random pills or something I think the advice may be different. Many people who take prescriptions regularly don’t keep them in the prescription bottles.

    2. Samwise*

      Bag of weed.

      I guess you can call it oregano, lol, that was our lie back in the last century. Didn’t fool anyone.

      1. Ticotac*

        When I moved flats, I hired a moving company (best $2000 ever spent, btw). When we got to our new home, I offered to make them tea. As I looked for tea, I rummaged through one of the kitchen boxes that they had just brought in, taking out various spices. One of those spices was a jar filled with dried sage leaves.

        The movers absolutely thought it was weed.

        [I don’t think Melanie’s daughter had a big bag of sage, to be clear]

      1. Tobias Funke*

        Removed. They’re not saying she found a crack pipe; they’re giving one possibility of how it could be clearly illegal. – Alison

    3. amoeba*

      I mean, Melanie clearly assumed it was drugs when she put the bag in her desk (because, well, she told people that), so not sure if that would actually change anything here?

      1. ecnaseener*

        I think Kesnit’s point is that it’s one more reason LW should not report it, if there’s a chance there weren’t even any drugs.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I think it could. Melanie thought that because of the context of her daughter having a drug problem, and she would know if loose pills or something would be in her daughters coat for another reason. But I have a little tin of loose pills at my desk, in the context of my employer finding those I wouldn’t expect to be called out for it.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes. When the person with the loose pills is your minor child with a history of drug use, you know whether the pills are perhaps from their prescription because you are involved in that.

          Fwiw, I guessed molly.

  45. kiki*

    LW #2: Embarrassing messages sent to the wrong recipients happen. It doesn’t sound like this is career-ending or something that will follow you until the end of your days, but I would take it as a wake-up call. If you want to progress in your career, you can’t be the person who is watching TV during meetings and complaining about normal job things. Nobody likes a Friday meeting, but that’s part of having a job.

    I think that manager is being real with you: this is your career and how seriously you take it is going to be reflected back in how seriously folks take you. If you’re a solid performer, you can probably keep your job while watching housewives during meetings (as long as you’re a bit more discreet), but you also probably won’t be first on any list to be promoted.

  46. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    LW1: I think putting the drugs in the desk was pretty stupid. She should have walk back out the car and put them in there. I am not sure how I feel about the rest of it. Everywhere I have worked this would be a firing offense. I get you not wanting to say anything. I am not sure George did the right thing, but at the same time I would probably not want to get involved in any of this.

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I agree, Melanie made a poor choice by choosing to put the drugs in her desk instead of discreetly walking them back to the car or putting them in a purse. In a lot of places, she would have been immediately fired. I don’t think this changes the answer to LW1, but Melanie is very lucky to have a merciful and understanding boss in George.

    2. Tammy 2*

      How unkind. This is a really easy scenario to second-guess in hindsight, but someone could just as easily seen her putting them in her car and questioned her, etc. Or she was late for a meeting and didn’t have time to go back to the car. There are many reasons she made the choice she made, and many reasons a different choice may have gone equally wrong.

    3. r.*

      IMO George probably did the right thing, at least insofar can be judged from the information available to us. The main thing I’d criticize is to allow Melanie far too much control over the drug testing process; it should’ve been done in a verifiably controlled environment.

      From a business perspective a “drugs = getting sacked” policy is a control to manage impairment incident risks, which can be serious and hazardous. George observed a potential impairment incident using controlled substances, but was provided with concrete evidence that the risk was not realized.

      Could Melanie have exercised better judgement? Probably! Equally probably, she will be grateful to still have a job after such a lapse of judgement, minimizing the risk of a repeat performance. Drug users will probably not be encouraged by this, because to get out of it like Melanie they’d have to get a test, and they’d flunk the test.

      So in all likelihood the company would gain nothing from firing Melanie it had not already obtained without firing her.

      Beyond that and given the lack of information to the contrary, Melanie probably is a good employee. Usually you don’t go out of your way like that for bad employees, so firing her would have the obvious consequence of depriving the company fo Melanie’s job output.

      Firing Melanie will probably also not help her get her daughter clean again. If you fired her, and the details got out, her former co-workers may find the conduct “formally correct, but bloody insensitive”; usually this does not impress people. They may also observe that on the balance of things it is probably not a good outcome from a public policy perspective (one less employed, one more on benefits, one kiddo that’s now less likely to get clean), and while it isn’t the primary purpose of business to further public policy — it is to make money — pointlessly pissing of your workforce isn’t either.

      So there’s very little upside but a bunch of risk involved in firing her.

      Meanwhile, keeping her at minimum preserved Melanie’s work output for the company, and saved the company from the expense of hiring a replacement. That is a concrete upside to keeping her.

  47. Samwise*

    My money’s on “bad at interviewing” because it happens so so often.

    Always be ready for an inept interviewer. Ask questions. I always have a lot of questions I can ask (I rank and group them, so that if it’s a good interviewer, I’m sure to ask the most important questions)

    1. pally*

      Oh yeah! I once had a trio of three interviewers who, after they introduced themselves, announced that they had no questions for me for fear they might ask a question I’ve already answered during the prior interviews (these were three of the 17 people I was slated to interview with that afternoon). So I had to run the interview myself.

      Fortunately, I had exactly what you suggested, a long list of questions, grouped into categories and ranked in order of importance (to me). I spent the 30 minutes going down my list with these three. Saved my bacon that day!

      I never go to an interview without my list.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        They didn’t say that to me, but I once spent I think 2 1/2 hours meeting in 30′ increments with panels of people who 1-would not be working directly with me, 2-were not interested in interviewing me (see #1) and 3-may or may not have been asked to do this last minute, as none of them had read my resume at all. It was annoying, and it was clear that the company didn’t know how to set up interviews (in biotech it’s not unusual to have 4-6 30′-1hr meetings with various people you’d be working with/for, and it’s usually clear who is at your level and who might be setting more policy, and you can tailor your questions for them). I got annoyed by the third group and also had already realized I didn’t want to work there, so I made it more awkward for them by making them lead.

      2. Tammy 2*

        I usually prepare answers to questions I think I might be asked–STAR scenarios, etc. I think I would have a hard time doing this without being awkward (“Would you perhaps like to hear about a time I overcame lack of organizational buy-in to successfully implement a new initiative?”) but I might try leading the conversation to some of those things.

        I also prepare and rank a long list of questions!

    2. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Agreeing on ‘bad at interviewing’. A lot of hiring managers are also just very busy too and interviewing is just another task on a large task list they have to get through the day. I had an interview once that was 30 minutes long. The interviewer didn’t let me speak the entire time and instead just told me what was going on in the company. I ended up being in their top 2 for candidates and was very relieved that they extended the offer to the other candidate because I did not want to work for that interviewer.

  48. BellyButton*

    Sure, the person should have taken the drugs out of the office immediately, so that was a poor decision. However, she took and passed a drug test. You all know the situation and believe her– so what is the motivation for going above their heads? What do you want to accomplish? I would have likely handled it the same way as George and let the employee know that it was poor judgment to put the drugs in her desk and to be more careful in the future.

  49. Student*

    OP #1: If your job is subject to laws where this is a serious violation, then I think that merits an exception to AAM’s advice. In some jobs, the consequences of having drugs laying around are much higher than others, and you should not take on risks that could bar you from your profession for the sake of everyone getting along.

    My job involves a government clearance. I’m legally obligated to report stuff like what you’ve described if I see my co-workers doing similar. If I fail to report, I face the possibility of getting barred from my entire profession for the rest of my life, jail time, and/or fines, so I would not cover for people under any circumstances that would cost me my career. I think several non-clearance professions where there’s serious potential risk to life and safety if you’re impaired or if your customers are exposed also have similar professional-license level consequences, because your co-worker’s drugs in the workplace could cause serious damage, even inadvertently. For example, if you worked at a place where small children might be able to reach the drugs in your co-worker’s desk, that’d be a profession where the potential consequences are too severe to treat this as AAM’s described.

    If you have a job that’s not dealing with those kinds of issues and risks, then AAM’s advice is a reasonable approach.

    1. Czhorat*

      But OP’s boss – to whom they would theoretically report this – already knows and took action. There’s also no way for OP to know if there wasn’t further disciplinary action include formal reprimands.

      At some point you have to consider your obligations – if any – fulfilled.

  50. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #1 – George handled the situation with mercy and benefit of the doubt to his employee and it sounds like you agree with how George handled the situation which leads me to believe that Melanie is a good employee. I’m confused by why this needs to escalate to the owner. Is there a written rule that all drugs must be immediately reported to the owner? It doesn’t sound like there’s anything to be gained by you going over your boss’s head by doing so and it puts George and Melanie in a situation where their choices will be more scrutinized.

    #2 – You didn’t just send an embarrassing message. You told 200 people that you spend your work hours watching tv instead of doing your job; which is apparently true btw. You’re lucky if all you get are some people casually treating you differently for awhile. Since the time has past now, I’d just move on from the message and only bring it up if someone does first. But also, keep your head down and make sure your work ethic is top notch for awhile. This means turning off the tv during work hours.

    1. Happily Retired*

      “#2 – You didn’t just send an embarrassing message. You told 200 people that you spend your work hours watching tv instead of doing your job; which is apparently true btw.”

      ^^^ I’m amazed how few posters didn’t catch this part of OP2’s statement: “We work remotely on Fridays so we were both on Zoom. I was watching Real Housewives of New York before I hopped on the meeting…”

      “Watching” – not I had it on in the background because it helps me concentrate, not I had the morning news on earlier and didn’t turn off the TV when I clocked in, etc. OP was watching Real Housewives (lol, that right there…) on the clock, and it sure sounds as if they planned to keep watching it through the meeting: “…so they don’t call on me later and I can continue watching Real Housewives.”

      OP mentions that everyone is laughing about it now, meaning that all their co-workers KNOW about it right now. If I were one of them, and my WFH days were in danger of being reduced or eliminated, I would be absolutely livid.

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Yeah, the fact LW2 didn’t say something like “It was my lunch break and I had like, 10 minutes left in the episode, but then had to hop on the meeting” leads me to believe she was watching it during work time.

        Also, she didn’t caveat it like “I work the Help Desk and we try and clear all our tickets by Thursday afternoon so we are available all Friday for emergencies–any emergencies need to be resolved before we enter a new weekly billing cycle, so some Fridays I end up doing nothing, others are non stop and require overtime.” Something that would explain that Fridays are days where her job expects her to not be actively working all day so watching a TV show is totally acceptable.

        Hell, even “It was a 9 am meeting” would allow us to assume she was watching the show before normal work hours.

  51. AnonRhino*

    LW1: . You should also consider that if you are the only other one who knows, Melanie and George may deny everything and then throw you under the bus saying how you have been undermining Melanie and gunning for George’s job. Which is also exactly what your coworkers will think, especially since in the interim team B’s manager may take over and make everyone miserable. There are zero positives to you telling the owner unless there is a duty to report situation, which may be true but even then I would probably not get involved and pretend I had no idea. It may ruin many people’s lives and you are right, people may find out and blame you.

  52. Maple Leaf*

    To OP #4:
    I was part of a hiring panel for a call center and we would do short (10 minute) phone screens with applicants as part of the hiring processes. These short calls were essentially the language proficiency and phone etiquette component. We asked very basic questions, i.e. confirming identify/contact details, and to set up the interview date/time. These very short calls have now been replaced with very short video calls, and the actual interview is in-person.

    While you may not have seen merit in a 15 minute chat, the interviewer/company may have.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I think part of 4’s question was due to it being scheduled for 30 and then taking 15 or less. I think most people are familiar with the concept of the 10-15 minute phone screen, but #4 clearly thought this particular interview wasn’t mean to be one. That’s why they’re asking: because it was presented as a 30 minute thing that then unexpectedly was much shorter. I suspect if #4 had been invited to a 15 minute interview, they wouldn’t be asking the question they submitted about that.

      So I think really the answer is “employer booked more time than they needed, but this was just a phone screen.”

  53. Looper*

    LW1- I think the dynamics of your office are causing you to spin out on inconsequential things. Your letter goes at length to explain the (nepotistic, unhealthy) dynamics of your office but…why? The husband and wife owners, the crappy manager nephew and his lackey, none of these things have anything to do with what happened. And I’m pointing that out because I think your problem is not your coworker making a dumb decision but instead the environment you work in making you feel an undue amount of responsibility and anxiety. This episode, while out of the ordinary, is not a crisis and was handled professionally. Ask yourself why you feel the need to prolong and escalate it? Especially when you view the consequences to be “everyone will hate me and the best people will be fired”. I think your workplace is warping your sense of responsibility and perspective. You can’t care more about this place than the owners, and they seem fine with the status quo. It is totally okay and very understandable if you aren’t okay with it and want to move on.

    1. Observer*

      I think your workplace is warping your sense of responsibility and perspective. You can’t care more about this place than the owners, and they seem fine with the status quo. It is totally okay and very understandable if you aren’t okay with it and want to move on.

      This is is to on point. Your whole comment is sensible, but especially thins.

      OP, not only do I think it’s ok for you to decide to move on, I think it’s something you should actively work on. Obviously that doesn’t mean just jumping ship. But figure out if you have what it takes to be an attractive candidate for other jobs. Then either start applying, or figure out how to fill in the gaps. But the desired end point should be the same.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I have TV on in the background to help me focus too, when I can! But I wouldn’t send a snarky message to anyone about it on a company chat forum. I might text a friend, but I wouldn’t use slack. Gotta be careful.

      1. Dinwar*

        There’s being careful and then there’s being paranoid. When “being careful” devolves into “Avoid normal human interactions for fear of punishment”, you’ve tipped into the paranoid side of things.

        In theory, sure, my employer could comb my messages and use a joke like that to get me into trouble. But honestly, if they’re doing that they’re already looking for a way to get rid of me. If things have gotten that bad, I’m not convinced there’s anything I could do to prevent being canned–I’ve seen managers push to get rid of someone, and NO ONE is so perfect an employee that they don’t have a few minor issues that can be blown up to giant problems warranting termination. (That’s one reason employee handbooks and site safety plans are so big–with enough SOPs, work instructions, and requirements, you can make the employee at fault no matter how badly you screw up.)

        I’m not saying to be stupid, to be clear. There are clearly things you should never say, especially on company equipment. I’m just saying, if an extremely common joke gets you fired, it wasn’t the joke that got you fired, regardless of how many people saw it. You were on your way out, and they were going to find some way to do it.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I more meant careful in terms of the LW’s problem. Yes, absolutely you should be careful when you’re sending information that could get you fired on a discoverable channel – but more commonly, you should be careful because it’s super easy to do what OP did and send it to the wrong chat.

          1. Dinwar*

            If you’re managing people and you think they’re not making snarky comments about you behind your back, you’re too stupid to manage people. Part of the jobs is making people do things they don’t like, and that’s always going to make you subject of office gossip. If you can’t handle accidently overhearing (or reading) such comments, management isn’t for you.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              It’s not about the manager, it’s about the employee who is writing in and how their professionalism will be perceived. We’re not giving advice to the manager.

              You’ve been oddly hostile lately I hope everything is going okay for you.

              1. Dinwar*

                But people are basing their assessment of that perception on information the manager doesn’t have.

                If the question was whether or not to have the TV on during meetings, the answer is obviously no. It’s a stupid idea. But there’s no evidence that the manager had that knowledge–the only thing the manager knows is what was in that screenshot.

                As for hostility, I disagree. Pointing out that managers who treat normal human behaviors (again, the manager does not have the information we do) as actionable are bad at their jobs isn’t hostile, it’s realistic. And I gave my reasons for this. Again, managers by the nature of their job will necessarily be occasionally discussed among the people they manage; it’s part of the job. If you can’t handle that–and reactions like taking WFH away from everyone or firing someone or even reprimanding someone for a joke are all examples of not handling that–you are, by definition, unable to handle your job. It’s no more hostile to point that out than it is to point out that a doctor who’s afraid of sick people is bad at their job, or a construction worker who comes in hungover and incapable of physical labor is bad at their job.

                If anything, I find the comments section to be increasingly hostile and one-note these days. “Heads down, do your work, leave me alone” types have always dominated here (or at least been loudest), but they seem to be more shrill these days.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      I sometimes run Turner Classic Movies in the background at home. It’s like white noise for me and it helps my dog ignore sounds from outside that would otherwise make her start yapping.

  54. NMitford*

    #5 The EAP program at a previous job was enormously helpful in identifying resources when I needed to move my 95-year old grandmother from her apartment into a continuing care community. I wouldn’t have thought about contacting, but a coworker made the suggestion and the EAP reps couldn’t have been more helpful at a time when I was completely overwhelmed with a full-time job and caring for her.

  55. oranges*

    I knew LW#4 was looking for Adderall before the end of the first sentence. ;)

    High five for finding a place! Using EAP resources is genius!
    After an entire summer of looking, I finally found a small pharmacy that reliably carries it. It’s nearly 2X the cost, but I protect the secret name of this magical place like Fort Knox.

  56. Ticotac*

    It seems I’m going against the grain here, but LW2… this is not the worst thing in the world, you probably haven’t set your career on fire, your bosses and coworkers probably don’t secretly all hate you, and it’s unlikely that this one act has destroyed all of the trust and good-will you have accrued ’til now.

    Have you done good work ’til now? Do people know you as a reliable worker? When you are in a meeting, is your behaviour otherwise appropriate? Are the things you say in meetings, for lack of a better word, good? If the answer to those questions is “yes,” then the truth is that people thought you were making a self-deprecating joke that fell flat. That’s embarrassing, but it’s not the end of the world. As Allison said, clarify to the manager who saw it that you’re totally embarrassed and so very very sorry, then make a point of appearing particularly engaged and attentive in meetings. This too shall pass.

    If you know that you are generally not seen as a great worker – regardless of whether that’s true or not – then this is definitely a very visible tick against you. It’s not the worst thing you could have done by a long mile, but it is definitely a very loud one, and it could make your bosses follow you much, much closer. Take it as your sign that things have to change. Smash those deadlines and let people know. Nod and “mmm” and “ahhh” during meetings. Help people out. I’m not saying “become a model employee and work seventeen hours seven days a week,” just… work smart and do enough to change the optics. It’s okay to be a slacker, but when people describe you you want it to sound like “easy-going” and “excellent work-life balance” rather than “work-dodger.”

    Also, a more general question; is your work the kind of work that you can do while watching tv shows and listening podcasts? More importantly, is it the kind of work that people usually do while watching tv shows and listening podcasts? Because there’s a lot of people here talking about how saying “I want to continue watching Desperate Housewives” is bad also because it implies you were doing it during work, but there’s plenty of jobs where that wouldn’t be an issue at all. I have worked in data entry, and you can bet we had something else going on to keep our brains alive as we mechanically typed one thing in another thing. So yeah, did you “just” admit to not caring about this meeting, or did you also admit to doing something you shouldn’t have done on the job? Because both require some contrition, but the latter requires A LOT more contrition than the first.

  57. Florp*

    #1 Are you certain the owners don’t know? Granted your workplace sounds off-balance, but in HR-type situations with a disciplinary or potential firing outcome, the upper managers handling it might not tell you everything they’ve done or discussed with the grand bosses. And since you may not in fact have the whole picture, it’s probably best to leave it alone.

  58. CTA*

    For #3

    My anecdote about LinkedIn is from 2020 so things might have changed. I remember I applied for a job on LinkedIn and there were 200-300 people who applied at the time. By the time they reached out to interview me a month later, the job listing’s applicant count had increased. I kept seeing the job appearing in my LinkedIn search. The date of the post would change (i.e. posted 2 days ago, etc), but at one point the applicant count reached 3000. I don’t understand how LinkedIn job postings work, but it made me wonder if employers were allowed to re-use the same job listing and that’s why the applicant count was so high.

    My point is (like Allison said), don’t let the number put you off and apply anyway.

  59. BL*

    LW 1: not your business. Involving yourself in an already handled situation will make you look bad. Leave it.

    LW 2: Going against a lot of commenters, but I think you need to own this. I personally would bring it up to my manager because I think it’s really unlikely they haven’t heard some version of it. And that version may be worse even than what you did. And honestly, your company doesn’t own you light Fridays. It’s a work day. Sometimes meetings happen. Really, truly think about trying to engage in them, as worthless as they feel to you, because as a manager, I can tell when someone is disengaged, even over Teams/Zoom and it changes my perception of them. You can recover from this but you need to own it and change your behavior.

  60. Lighten Up*

    There’s a lot of unnecessary judgment of LW2 in these comments. The company I currently work for is probably the most professional environment I’ve ever been in, and everyone seems to take their work seriously and go above and beyond. But everyone also hates lengthy, boring calls on Friday afternoons, everyone wants to leave early or on time to avoid traffic, and you can pry our remote Mondays and Fridays out of our cold, dead hands. The reason people are so much more productive in remote or hybrid remote work is because for once in their careers, they have *actual* work/life balance and the freedom to get their work done in their own way, on their own schedules. I just simply don’t believe people who say they *never* use their remote days for personal errands and would *never dream* of slacking off. We’re all human, we all do it sometimes. I’ve read response after response from Alison saying that good managers care about the work getting done on time and correctly and won’t micromanage schedules. Why are we holding LW2 to a higher standard?

    Also, I can totally relate to sending a mortifying message to the wrong group text (coworkers instead of friends). Who hasn’t had an embarrassing text or “reply all” mishap in their lives at some point?

    LW2, I agree that this wasn’t great and will fuel the fire of anyone who already views you in a negative light. But honestly, if I was on that call and saw your message, I’d die a little of secondhand embarrassment for you, and then I’d laugh and secretly agree. Just do great work and be enthusiastic and engaged, and it will pass. Also, side note: I hate when people make blase but weighty comments like “it’s your career, not mine”. Those kinds of comments will throw me into a complete anxiety tailspin, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s exactly what this guy intended.

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

      I agree. We really don’t have a lot of information here for people to be so judgmental. When I read it I figured the slack message was meant as a joke. I highly doubt that the OP was actually that invested in watching TV. Most people I know who work from home will have the TV on in the background. The message just seemed sarcastic. And I think the boss who commented “it’s your career, not mine” was also being sarcastic.

      I do think the OP should be more careful and make sure she is doing excellent work on Fridays, because this could be something that the higher-ups are looking for now. Like if she’s not responsive enough on fridays they may think she is slacking off.

      1. judyjudyjudy*

        But was the TV on in the background? Or was this person trying to give their presentation first so they could watch TV and not pay attention for the rest of the meeting?

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Sorry, have to disagree. My org just dropped one of our 2 weekly remote days because a few folks in senior positions are convinced that remote workers aren’t productive. We all know that’s not true, but it doesn’t matter. This has a really real, really crappy effect on my quality of life. I’ve now got to pay close to $500 more a year in commuting costs alone and added another 96 hours of commute time per year to my life, plus losing all the benefits of that flexible time.

      I’m not saying that the LW would be directly responsible for something like her organization yanking remote work, but it really, really, REALLY does not help to have stuff like that shared to 200+ people. The LW’s comment didn’t read as a joke, it read as her saying what she was doing (interestingly, the LW never said whether that was what she was doing or not).

      I don’t care if my remote colleagues are working unless they report to me and it’s affecting my day-to-day. I DO care if someone else’s behavior means everyone’s remote work privileges get curtailed.

      1. Bruce*

        One thing I’m happy with my company for is they acknowledged that during the pandemic work from home period we were more productive… but also that as time goes by there are negative effects from full time WFH for our business. Currently people near the office are in 3 days a week, and they say they don’t have plans to push that to 4 or 5… I’m a special case because they let me go full remote and move away, but I’m close to retirement and they could tell I was thinking of bailing out when my wife retired. I love not having the commute, but there are definitely days I’d like to be able to walk into the lab, and I go to the office for a week every quarter at least…

  61. Critical Rolls*

    LW4, I want to offer one more explanation of the short phone interview, which is that it was meant to function more as a screen. When I’ve hired for entry level positions, it’s amazing the number of candidates who apparently simply failed to read the posting. Going over the basics — “Job is at X location; job includes evening hours; job requires standing and lifting” — eliminates quite a few people who wanted to work at Y location or can’t work evenings, etc.

  62. Immortal for a limited time*

    #2: For companies that want remote employees to return to the office, I give you Exhibit A.

    1. BL*

      This right here.

      Yes, LW made a mistake. For those employers who think we WFH’ers slack all the time, it is exactly Exhibit A. Which is why I think it IS a big deal and IS worth owning/acknowledging.

      Because joking or not, it reinforces a stereotype that we don’t work as hard as the office folks and can result in WFH going away for some people.

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        And honestly, this really IS the biggest reason to try and repair this. If next week an email goes around that they are “re-evaluating remote work” everyone will assume that LW2’s message had something to do with that. Please look at the comment sections on this and other websites to see how exactly that is going impact how your co-workers view you–if they see you as the reason WFH is in jeopardy. And if it gets taken away, be prepared to have some people be straight up icy to you and with not a ton of sympathy.

        LW2, I know you might not fully understand it, but you said the quiet part out loud a bit–yes, everyone slacks off. At an office, at their home, they slack off. Some days you cannot be bothered to do anything but the bare minimum. BUT key to that is you can’t run around advertising the fact you are actively slacking. It’s like going to work with a hangover. You tell colleagues you think you ate something weird and they, even if they suspect it is a hangover, pretend to completely believe you. You don’t Slack a co-worker “Man, I’m so hungover, my work product today is gonna be bad”–for many reasons but one of which is if you aren’t careful you will be announcing it to a much larger audience. Does this mean no one comes to work with a hangover? Of course not! Does being unwell, for any reason, make it understandable to have a pretty off day? Totally. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make YOU look unprofessional in the situation.

  63. Alan*

    For #3, I walked into my boss’s office once after he had been going through resumes and he sighed and said “I went through a hundred resumes and not one of these people is remotely qualified.” Now I work in a niche software field, so YMMV, but lots of people think they can do something and apply, even though they don’t have the skills. So I would apply but then immediately put it behind me.

  64. kiki*

    For LinkedIn application numbers, I wouldn’t really put any stake in that number. I would bet a lot of those applicants are not really qualified, especially since LinkedIn makes it super easy to apply to a job without even reading the description or filling out an application. There are also a lot of automations and bots that mass-apply folks to jobs that are irrelevant.

    A friend of mine does hiring for a political research positions. She consistently sees dozens of applications submitted that are clearly looking for research positions in a completely unrelated field, like marine biology.

  65. Sean*

    LW1 – You shouldn’t do anything about it because the conduct of your supervisor isn’t going blow back on you. That said the whole story about your coworker wearing her daughters sweatshirt, finding drugs in it, putting those drugs in her desk, and then telling her boss to just go get something from desk knowing there were drugs in her desk is hella suspicious. IDK how you could forget that there were drugs in your desk unless there were regularly drugs in your desk. And unless George watched her pee in a cup or had her do it in a bathroom with the water turned off, dye in the toilet, ect like they have at the clinics where I used to get drug tested for my industry, that drug test doesn’t mean shit. So if you ever do end up being her supervisor just be aware that she might actually use drugs at work.

    1. Bruce*

      Yes, sadly there is a real chance this will come up again. Fingers crossed it does not and that whoever has the problem gets help. Agree that escalating it would be a mistake for this hopefully one time event.

  66. Michelle Smith*

    LW3: You do not completely understand how LinkedIn works. Please let me inform you. If you click on the apply or easy apply button on LinkedIn, EVEN IF YOU DO NOT SUBMIT THE APPLICATION, it counts that click as an application in that number you’re seeing on the website. So you actually should not ever use that number as an indication of how many people have applied for the job! It’s super, super misleading. It’s just the number of people who clicked on the application to look at it. I strongly, strongly caution you against making any decisions about whether or not to apply to a job based on that number!!

    1. Jane Fiddlesticks*

      Yes, that’s true. On top of which lots of actual applicants are not qualified. There are many people who apply for roles that would require much more experience/ or skills.

      I once read an article from a company owner and he said that between 100’s of applications on his LinkedIn job post, there were only 5 or so that were qualified.

  67. Bookworm*

    LW4: I’ve had a few of these in the past year and I think Alison’s answer (plus others) is right. I’ve had all of this: the interviewer realizes this isn’t the right fit (and so did I!), that it was really a matter of a basic assessment (understanding the job, gauging the candidate on the first pass, etc.) and sometimes the hiring org doesn’t know what they’re doing. I had one 30 minute or so call with the organization’s DEIJ consultant (??? I understand that assessment do believe it is very important but also felt it was a little odd to have that person do the first pass interview).

    There’s no way to know. At this point I take it as a blessing: if it doesn’t work out, at least it was only 15 minutes over the phone and not a whole in-person interview where you had to dress up and go somewhere. It can also give you hints of what to expect if you do move forward (which is something I just experienced–the person laid out how the interview process would go which was the most useful use of this type of interview I’ve had so far.)

  68. judyjudyjudy*

    LW2, a lot of people on here have been saying, “I have the TV on the background on during work — it keeps your brain active during boring, simple tasks like data entry!” But this is not data entry, it was a meeting. And my interpretation of your letter was that the TV wasn’t on in the background, it was the primary activity you wanted to get back to, instead of the meeting you were supposed to attend. Also, I can’t listen to the TV and a meeting at the same time, and I’m not sure that anyone else can either.

    All that being said, regardless of what really happened, I think a reasonable interpretation of your chat message is that you were WATCHING (not listening as background noise) TV during a work meeting while WFH. It’s not a good look for you, but if you do good work, I think it will be forgotten.

    It’s been said a dozen times already, but here’s my action items for you:
    * Stop using your work slack for messages you wouldn’t want your boss to see…text instead, or WhatsApp, or whatever.
    * Consider doing another activity during this all-hands Friday meeting that is more work appropriate, like filing emails or making a to-do list for Monday, or even doing something like knitting or doodling that lets you listen and keeps you from being unbearably bored at the same time.

    Also, it’s reasonable for a workplace to hold meetings on Fridays. That doesn’t mean you have to like them…but I think your attitude is a little weird. I’d have a way bigger problem with it being g a 200 person meeting (do all 200 people really, really have to be in this meeting?) than it being held on a Friday, which is a workday.

  69. Anon for this*

    Ooooh #2 really grinds my gears. In my org this may or may not get someone fired (or at least a Serious Talking To) but a comment like that WOULD get remote work taken away for EVERYONE. I would be so pissed if one of my colleagues sent a message like that for all to see.

  70. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    > I ended up finding out and so I’m at this dilemma of letting it go or bringing it up to the owners. If I do, I’m afraid that George and Melanie would be fired and then my team would think that I did this just to get his job,

    I literally cannot think of any other reason why you’d meddle in this except to potentially get George’s job. You know Melanie isn’t taking drugs herself and that it’s her daughter who has the problem. She took a test, she passed.

    Why do you want to tell the owners and potentially get two people fired over an issue that has been resolved as thoroughly as it can be and with as much compassion as George could give it, considering the blunder of bringing drugs into the office? (For all those who said keep it in the car, it’s reasonable to not want to keep drugs in your car in the same way you don’t leave valuables in your car because someone could break in and steal them — and people would break into a car to steal a sweater, depending on the city and how bad things are…it’s also just a distressing situation for Melanie, I suppose, so thinking can go out of the window.)

  71. Funeral Bell*

    This is the first time I’ve heard good EAP stories. Actually, it’s the first time I’ve heard EAP stories at all.

    Honestly, I’m leery of using them because of privacy concerns. I don’t want any issues I might have that are deeply personal to get back to my manager.

    1. anonymous was already taken*

      yeah i had a coworker use them for mental health reasons and said it was a complete waste of time and they got more value from accessing their own counsellor

  72. fhqwhgads*

    #3 I don’t know if this makes you feel any better, but we’ve gotten 200-400 applicants for every posting we’ve done in the past, I want to say five years? Not through LI. Directly through our own site’s listed job postings. There are almost never more than 40 in any way qualified candidates. If you’re reasonably sure you are at least somewhat qualified, don’t let knowing the theoretical number of applicants scare you off. You have no way of knowing how many of them were real candidates you’d actually be competing with for the role, but regardless of the application mechanism, the realistic candidates out of the total is likely a very small proportion.

  73. Spooky Spiders*

    OP 5 — I’m in the same boat re: ADHD meds & ADHD making it hard to jump through hoops. The system that works best for me is using a pill minder. I refill it once a week, and immediately after I put in refill requests for anything I ran out of. If your daughter’s doctor allows you to leave the request via voicemail, you can do it in the evenings or on weekends, whenever is most convenient for you.

  74. Agile Phalanges*

    #4 Or it could be that on their end, it’s just a quick screening call (make sure you’re aligned on salary, make sure everyone’s on the same page with WFH/hybrid/in-office expectations), but they allot 30 minutes instead of 15 so that you can have time to answer questions and not feel rushed, and potentially so they have a few minutes before the next one to talk amongst themselves, fill out a scoring sheet, jot notes, whatever their process is. Often that first phone interview is intended to just be a quick yes/no decision on their part to narrow the pool from hundreds to a more reasonable number, then pick from those who they will interview in person (or Zoom or whatever). It can also be a quick yes/no decision from you if they give information about the job that makes YOU uninterested.

  75. Bruce*

    LW1: I think leaving the “drugs in the desk” case with George is the right thing to do, especially if your coworker voluntarily took a drug test. If this is the only time something like this happens then you would be giving your coworker a chance to deal with a pretty bad situation at home without getting her fired. And if she herself has the problem then it will likely become obvious in time…

  76. It's Marie - Not Maria*

    LW 3 – I have seen remote positions posted on LinkedIn that have had 250 applicants within 20 minutes, some with 1500 applicants within 24 hours, and even some with 2000-3000 applicants within a few days. Sure, you can apply even with those numbers, but you probably will need some very unique skills to stand out in that crowd, like writing/speaking Mandarin or being an internationally recognized expert in some aspect of that job function. Not saying you wouldn’t have a chance; but you are up against a lot of competition.

  77. Jane Fiddlesticks*

    #3: I’ve applied to vacancies on LinkedIn with lots of applicants for which I was invited for an interview. Yes, it looks like you might be wasting your time but LinkedIn job postings tend to attract a lot of nonsense applications and the vast majority of applicants might not have the necessary experience or skills.
    There are also a lot of people who don’t bother to create a cover letter and when you send an extremely personalised yet short (175 words or less) cover letter, this is how you can stand out.

  78. you will never find me*

    Okay, reading the comments, I just want to say: LW2 this is not good, but it’s also not dire. It does look like a lot of the people commenting work on places where this would warrant instant firing and group punishment, but where I work it mostly just caused embarrassment.

    I know because something similar happened to me. We had a big meeting, only part of it had anything to do with my side of the job or, in general, anything that I could feasibly have an opinion on. I asked my questions, received my answers, did my little speech. A friend sent me a “well done” text, I answered “Thanks! Now I go back to my little games”, then I realized I sent the text to the group instead of my friend.

    The boss saw it, suppressed a laugh, and acted like it didn’t happen. No one said anything. When the meeting was over, my colleagues sent texts of the “lol, lmao” kind. I apologized to my boss who essentially said “yeah don’t do that.” I apologized to my manager who shrugged and essentially went “I’m sure the embarrassment is punishment enough.” I never did it again and my job continued as normal.

    Are you normally a good employee? Then apologize and keep doing a good job. You’re the only one who can tell what’s your office work culture, so only you know how in trouble you are.

    Also yeah, maybe next time don’t use Slack

    1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      I don’t think the implication is that LW2 would be instantly fired, just that it could lead to a talking to, closer monitoring by her boss, or some sort of revocation of WFH. Those are bad things.

      LW2’s letter also demonstrates she probably doesn’t understand the situation, which is concerning. Multiple people definitely saw it, but she assuming the other 200 didn’t see it–not that they were just too polite to say something. Also, if you tell someone you are super embarrassed, they are probably not going to be jerks and say “Yeah, you really messed up”, they are going to say “Oh, it was funny! Not even sure if that many people saw it, really.”

      There is no indication during these interactions that she attempted to provide any defense or alternative explanation for her message. Or apology. You went to your boss, apologized, and clearly indicated you knew it wasn’t that you just sent the message to the wrong people, but that the contents of the message could be a potential problem for you. She really didn’t think about that issue until the other manager made a comment about “It’s your career.”

      Also, yours was clearly a response to someone paying you a compliment regarding the thing you just presented IN the meeting. By contrast, LW2 was bragging to a friend that she was only talking now to be able to go do something non work for the rest of the meeting. It’s got many layers of actively ignoring co-workers, deciding this is something to proudly tell another colleague, to tell them via the company Slack and to not consider this little brag something potentially troublesome enough to merit making sure you didn’t send it to 200 people.

      1. you will never find me*

        Well, yes, the OP made a mistake, that’s obvious. And they didn’t realize that it was a particularly noteworthy mistake, definitely. But the point stands: how big of a deal it is depends on the office culture.

        For example, I don’t see the OP’s comment as bragging. If I read it on Slack, I would cringe and laugh and then forget about it. If I were their boss, I’d appreciate an apology, but I’d only make a big deal out of the situation if it happens again or if it’s part of a pattern of behaviour. If they were a good worker otherwise, I would just ignore it. Others clearly feel differently.

        So yeah, LW2, it unfortunately IS some sort of deal. You should act as if it were a deal. But only you can properly measure how big of a deal this is.

  79. Observer*

    #1 you say that “I’m afraid that George and Melanie would be fired and then my team would think that I did this just to get his job, and the entire dynamic of our team will be messed up with having every employee in group A hate me if that happens.”

    And they would have a good reason to believe that. Sure, *I* believe you that you’re not thinking of doing that for this reason. But it’s really the most likely reason in most workplaces, so I can’t blame them.

    But I think this leads to something you need to think about (and which some others have alluded to.) Why are you so worried about blow back to you? This is not yours to deal with and no reasonable boss would complain to *you* about this.

    So, either you have an anxiety type of issue or your workplace is toxic enough that you have reason to worry about being blamed for stuff that is absolutely *not* your responsibility. That’s a really bad place to be in. And the best way to deal with this kind of toxicity is not to play along, because that’s an unwinnable game. But instead, start working on your exist. Start saving as much money as you possibly can in case your unreasonable boss fires you for some stupid reason. And also start looking for a new job. Look HARD. Getting out of Toxic City is the best thing you can do for yourself.

  80. Hypoglycemic rage*

    q3, the linkedin one.

    i was worried about that same number too! but i saw someone comment on reddit that a large portion of those applicants are probably bots/spammers OR people who are just applying to anything, especially if it says “easy apply.”

    regardless, i try to not pay attention to the numbers or tell myself that a parge portion of them are bots. :)

  81. There You Are*

    #4 – I recently completed a successful job search and at least two of my initial interviews were over in under 15 minutes. One of the companies ended up making me an offer (and I work there now) and the other chose another candidate after both of us had gone through all levels of interview (initial call with HR all the way up to 1:1 interview with the VP of the department).

    In my case, I think the calls were so short because they knew from my resume that I’d probably be a strong candidate and that initial video call was just to confirm that I was a real person who could speak credibly about the process I’d be performing.

    So it was, “Yup, this person is legit. Forward their resume to the hiring manager.”

  82. Scott*

    LW1: So, Allison’s advice in general is very good, but I’d only add that it can vary by industry/sector. In some places I’ve worked, possession of any illegal drugs, at any time, for any reason, would be grounds for an immediate dismissal (for *very* good reasons).

    It sounds like George made a reasonable decision in the moment, and, barring any other circumstances you haven’t talked about, I think this is a thing that you should leave to George and do your best to put behind you.

  83. Tiger Snake*

    I understand why LW#1 wrote in, but it still bugs me as a question. All the judgement is being put on George, which it was Melanie who put him in that position and who’s bad judgement caused this (she could have easily left the drugs in a safe place inside her car, for example).

    And logically… yeah, its George who needed to make a decision about what to do, and that’s what we’re judging. But I don’t like it. OP’s heard about this second hand and is second guessing George because she’s afraid of how it will impact her and that’s still a reasonable concern for her to have, but it bothers me.

  84. anonymous was already taken*

    LW5 – YAY! I’m so pleased you have found some help. I love the way you worded that too – “This isn’t really a standard scenario but I need help thinking it through because I’m completely overwhelmed.”
    Well done!

  85. Raida*

    1. Should I go over my boss’s head about an employee who had drugs in her desk?

    Your question boils down to:
    I’m concerned maybe at some point someone will find out I knew a thing that several other people know and I didn’t act and I’ll be in trouble.
    Should I absolutely upturn the lives of two people I like and work closely with?

    If we’re talking about working in your own self interests exclusively – the balance of probabilities here is 100% bad times if your manager’s fired because they are why you like the job, and ?% chance you ‘get in trouble’ in the ?% chance someone outside of your area finds out and cares and acts and that person they tell cares and acts.
    There’s no comparison mate, you personally are better off not reporting it.

    Your manager handled it. You agree with how it was handled. You did not state there is a mandatory reporting policy or code of conduct under which you could be written up.

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