I don’t want to hear about all the snacks our main office gets, interviewing after scandal, and more

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

1. I don’t want to hear about all the snacks our main office gets

I work for a medium-sized law firm. In addition to our main office, we have three small satellite offices; I’ve been assigned to a satellite office (about a 10-minute drive from the main office) since March.

Ever since I came to this location, the main office still sends out the firm-wide emails about all the firm lunches, birthday cake, treats dropped off by other firms we work with, etc., but I’m not included.

I replied-all to one of the emails about the partners ordering coffee and bagels for “everyone” because one of the sinks in one break room had a leak so that half of the office couldn’t make its own coffee. (The other break room in that office still had coffee just fine.) All I said in response to the email that “coffee and bagels are here, enjoy!” was, “Ours hasn’t arrived yet.” The biz manager set up a Teams with me so fast and said to please never reply-all to firm emails.

This month contains my (and several others’) birthday. Every month they order a cake for the people with birthdays in that month. On Friday it was cake day at the main office. I got a call from our accounting department telling me I was allowed to run to Kroger up the street to buy A FIVE DOLLAR CAKE and “expense it” (so I wouldn’t even be reimbursed for two weeks because we’re paid bimonthly).

A few other staff come here too, and it’s not fair to them to miss out either. Nobody really wanted to come here! Any advice?

Whoever is doing this in your main office is in the wrong, but you’re making too big a deal out of it.

To be clear, they shouldn’t be handling it this way; they need to set up an email list that’s just for that local office and then make it clear that announcements about food, etc. should be sent there, not to everyone. It’s silly that they’re not. And you could and probably should suggest that!

But you’re not going to do yourself any favors by getting really aggravated if they don’t do it. This is a thing that sometimes happens when staff are spread out among different locations. It shouldn’t … but it sometimes does, and it doesn’t warrant getting this bothered by it.

However, why not suggest a small budget for treats for the satellite offices, pointing out that it’s a perk that shouldn’t be confined to only one location of the four?

2. When do I disclose an accidentally scandalous, very public past mistake?

About a decade ago, when I was just starting my career, I had a brief dalliance with a well-known celebrity. In my infinite 20-something wisdom, I wrote an indiscreet email to my friends about it … and that email leaked and went viral. It was quite the scandal at the time! Luckily, the tempest quickly passed, but if you google my name, multiple stories about it come up at the top of my search results.

Crucially, it hasn’t entirely affected my career. I had written the email from a personal address and off company time, so most people have chalked it up to youthful indiscretion. I’ve gone on to work at companies with great reputations and have consistently moved upward in my field. However, the industry I work in is small, and every job I’ve held has come from a referral in my network or a hiring manager who already knew me and liked my work, and had no issue with the situation. At most, the manager or HR has asked me to explain the situation, and in every case shrugged it off once I did. My references are also effusive about my work and, if asked, have vouched for my learning and growing from this incident.

I’m currently in final rounds for a great role at a large company, one that the recruiter herself has told me many times that I’m a perfect fit for. But this opportunity didn’t come from my network; I applied directly and was called in. I’ve met with the recruiter, the hiring manager, and the head of the department so far and no one has asked me about this yet. I’m not sure if they’re aware and unconcerned, or just haven’t gotten to that step yet. It’s not a buttoned up industry or role, but it is a role where discretion is often key.

Is this something I should proactively address with the recruiter? I don’t want to raise red flags where there may not be any, but I also don’t want them to potentially make any decisions based on a Google search.

My biggest worry would be if they hire you, you start the job, and then they find out at some point later and it’s a big concern for them. If you don’t raise it, you’re sort of gambling on that not happening — which I don’t think is an unreasonable gamble to make, since it’s been years and you’ve successfully built a career in that time. But given that risk, the question for you is whether you’d get more peace of mind by raising it (probably with the recruiter, framed as “I want to make sure this won’t be an issue for them down the road — it’s never been so far, but I don’t want it to be a surprise later after I’m already working there”). I don’t think you need to do that, but if it is going to be an issue, I’d rather you find that out before you take the job than after.

3. Should I report an obnoxiously pushy recruiter to the person who interviewed me?

I was contacted by a recruiter about a job. While I am open to better opportunities, I am satisfied in my current position so a job would have to be pretty awesome for me to want to move, and on first blush the offer this recruiter was presenting looked like a decent move. It involved a slight title change that I consider an upgrade, and the hourly wage was a slight improvement. I agreed to an interview, and eventually learned that the position was temporary with the possibility of permanent hire. My employer would be the temp agency, not the company I originally thought I was talking to. The temp agency “normally doesn’t offer” benefits to temp employees other than state-mandated sick days, so I would be losing my health insurance with no replacement, and the slight wage increase did not make up for that difference or for the costs I would incur going from 80% remote to 100% in-person.

I mentioned this during the interview, so the interviewer was able to negotiate with his boss an alternative pay option, where instead of hourly I would be salary with health insurance, PTO, and sick days, but the salary would be lower than the hourly worked out to. If I had no job, either offer would have been attractive, but it is a downgrade from my current compensation. I emailed the recruiter and interviewer, politely declining both offers and letting them know I was grateful for the opportunity, but it would not work with my budget.

The interviewer emailed back a pleasant “thank you for letting us know, we’ll keep you in mind for any higher-paying positions” type of response. The recruiter emailed with what seemed to be mild indignance: “It is a good opportunity and we both agreed on the hourly rate provided by the client, so can we discuss the reason you’re not comfortable doing the job so that I can try to help you out with the problem.” While I did agree the hourly wage sounded good in the initial conversation, I did not have the whole picture then. Then, before I had even finished reading the two email, the recruiter called (I declined the call) three times within 45 seconds. I assure you this is not hyperbole or exaggeration.

Should I mention the seemingly childish response to the person who interviewed me, so that he can determine whether they want to use this recruiter again? I do not know if the recruiter is an employee of their agency or is a third party. Quite honestly, the recruiter did not seem to be professional or very old.

Nah, let it go. The recruiter was annoying and pushy but it doesn’t rise to the level of something so egregious that it warrants reporting to his client.

4. How to word an out-of-office message when you’re travelling for a funeral

I have to leave town this week to attend a close family member’s funeral. I am broken up about the death and cannot speak about my loved one without being visibly emotional.

I will not be in a position to actively monitor my email and respond to inquiries while I’m out, so I need to put an out-of-office message up. However, I really, really want to find a way to word it so that (1) people do not assume that I’m away on vacation or doing something fun and (2) no one with a reasonable amount of emotional intelligence is inclined to ask me follow-up questions about how it went after I get back. I think it’s relevant to note that every time I’ve failed to note the reason for my absence in my out of office message, I come back to people cheerfully asking me how my vacation was or asking me about my travels. I don’t want to deal with that. It’s not okay, I’m not fine, there’s nothing any client can do to help, and I don’t want to talk about it with any clients beyond a cursory “sorry for your loss” / “thanks, I appreciate that” exchange. Is there a script for this?

Say you are “away until (date) for a family funeral.” That’s not oversharing but it communicates that you’re not on a fun vacation that people should ask about when you return.

You still might get people who forget and mistakenly think you were off doing something fun, because not everyone retains what they saw in an out-of-office message (if they even read beyond the “out of office” part), but it will take care of most of it.

I’m sorry about your family member.

5. What do I put on my resume when businesses I worked at have closed?

I work in the medical field in an industry where small private practices are the norm. I got my first job far from home in a location I love and have been practicing in this area for five years now. My first job just wasn’t a great fit. I loved my second job, but they decided to close while the Covid quarantines were happening. My next job started out great but ended up letting me go when we experienced a rather sharp decline in business (they eventually closed as well). Now I’m in a job where things are working out great, but unfortunately a close family member at home has taken a sharp decline in health suddenly and I have decided I need to move back.

What information should I provide on my resume about my chunk of work experience at places of business that no longer exist (three jobs in a row, and three of my five years of work experience)? Address and phone number information would be inaccurate, as neither of these businesses are still in existence. Do I just not list any? Do I explain this on the resume?

You don’t need to include employers’ addresses and phone numbers on your resume at all, even if the businesses were still in existence! You might choose to list city and state for each employer, but you can still do that for the three now-closed businesses because that was their location when you worked there. You don’t need to include any particular explanation that they’re no longer around, although when you get to the reference-checking stage it might make sense to mention at that point.

{ 397 comments… read them below }

  1. Kyle S.*

    Unless LW2 works in talent management or something, I’m confused why a publication in *their* industry wrote about their celebrity fling.

    1. WhatAMaroon*

      this person may work in the news industry and so other news outlets (especially ones who have celebrity or pop culture news sections) likely wrote about it

    2. Nessness*

      I’m guessing the celebrity is famous for something related to their industry, e.g. they work for a pro sports team and the celebrity is an athlete or coach.

    3. Nathan*

      I think LW2 should look into reputation rehabilitation. There are firms that specialize in this sort of thing (it was discussed in Jon Ronson’s book _So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed_ for those who are very curious) or you can do the same thing yourself on a smaller scale. The idea is that you fill the Internet with normal, innocuous content surrounding your name and do enough SEO on that content to make sure that Google picks it up. Because most search algorithms do prefer more recent content, it shouldn’t be too hard to tip the past out of the top 10 results.

      1. 2 Cents*

        It may already be out of the top 10 for her name, but if a celebrity is attached — people go down some weird rabbit holes on the internet.

    4. Paris Rhino*

      Why does it matter? What matters is that the articles are out there and come up during interviews.
      Besides, LW says “news org,” which could mean anything from Buzzfeed to the NYT.

    5. Beth*

      I don’t think they say anything about a publication in their industry? Their email leaked and went viral, and googling their name still turns up this incident years later. It’s normal enough for employers to do a quick google on prospective employees that I can see why they’re concerned by this.

      I hope the concern is misplaced, though. A 12-year career of exemplary work should weigh a lot more heavily than one non-work incident from over a decade ago.

    6. Sarah*

      Removed. Your speculation about her identity is incorrect — but also we are not doxxing people here so please do not post any further speculation. – Alison

  2. Coin Purse*

    Dear LW #1….I feel your pain. I retired from a large midwestern company with huge perks for the home office people….gyms, free food (breakfast and lunch), unlimited free beverages, dry cleaning, package and banking services in house….you name it. Meanwhile at the satellite office, we had absolutely none of these things. The more they piled on treats for the home office people, the more demoralized the satellite staff got. It got mentioned a ton in exit interviews.

    The ended up closing the satellite units and bringing all staff to the home office. The execs found the “red headed stepchild” treatment of the satellite employees embarrassing.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > The more they piled on treats for the home office people, the more demoralized the satellite staff got. It got mentioned a ton in exit interviews.

      Isn’t it more likely that the treats situation was symptomatic, rather than something to be complained of in its own right? (I would probably also grouse about this, but wouldn’t mention it in an exit interview) – in that the satellite offices were perceived as a bit of a “backwater” to the company’s operations as a whole, a forgotten about afterthought. I worked for such a satellite office which ended up being closed and its operations being outsourced, which was more representative of the relationship that office had to HQ anyway. If the move to HQ resulted in a much longer / unsustainable commute, I’m not sure if that was a plus!

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I agree about the commute, but I think it’s completely understandable that people felt excluded and had lower morale. It’s high time we start acknowledging the way people feel instead of pretending these are small things that don’t matter.
        Being excluded from what sounds like an ongoing party is going to make anyone feel bad. Let’s not pretend otherwise, and everyone’s morale and emotional intelligence will be better.

        1. ferrina*


          This is about company culture. These perks are about showing appreciation to the staff and are part of retention efforts. If the same effort isn’t made to retain satellite staff, well, the implication is pretty clear.
          It’s usually not intentional by the higher-ups. Usually they just don’t think about it. But that’s also the problem- they aren’t thinking about the satellite office like they think about the main office because they aren’t physically there. A reasonable person would wonder what else they might be missing out on- heads up about changes, promotion or raise potential, networking, etc.

          On the flip side, my company is hybrid with multiple offices and we regularly have conversations about “what about X office? how are they feeling? how can we make sure our remote workers are included?” These conversations are very intentional because we want to ensure all our employees know they are valued. (it’s part of our broader culture where we actively look for places where people might fall through the cracks and make sure we are identifying and advocating for our people, and not letting human biases stand in the way of nurturing talent)

          1. Smithy*

            Absolutely this.

            While my employer is international, in the US there are two offices (West Coast/East Coast) and a number of remote employees throughout the country. The two offices are not only on different coasts, but very different types of cities on different coasts – so definitely not a Miami and Los Angeles type of split.

            As a result, the offices attract different people, in different places in life, and respond to different perks. The west coast office has people come into the office less frequently, more parents and on average as fewer very junior staff. The east coast office is a bit more of extremes (more very junior and c-suite staff) and staff that come in 2-3 times a week. Being in different cities, obvious different office spaces are available, but truly different perks are valued by this kind of staff split – and also choosing to host a staff retreat in either east or west coast office can be of value for different reasons.

          2. Anax*

            Absolutely this – and it’s not just physical distance!

            My coworkers and I have been having a similar feeling of disconnection and being undervalued during a long corporate acquisition. We got all the emails about meetings, perks, and such, but we had no ability to access them, and no one acknowledged that we were being left out. (It took almost two years for us to gain access to their intranet, and everything was predicated on that.)

            Go figure, we’re all being laid off. I guess the vibes were accurate.

        2. chewingle*

          Before WFH became the norm for our company, we had the same issue. Office in NY got free food all the time (pizza lunches, bagels at breakfast, free fruit and yogurt daily, etc). While the ATL office got cake day once a month (and the fruit situation was normally bananas that no one wanted because they were already brown. There was a fridge with yogurt, but ATL employees had to pay for it). People in the ATL office felt pretty bitter about it, especially since bosses (almost exclusively working out of NY) and some coworkers would cite the food as part of the entire employee perk package…when only part of their employees received that perk.

          It’s an easy one to brush aside, yeah, but the places that aren’t mindful of this sort of thing will also not be mindful of other, bigger issues…and then people will view this as basically the cherry on top of a shit pie. It’s not surprising to me that it comes up in exit interviews.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            I wonder if the problem with the Atlanta office not getting the perks is the execs or manager in the Atlanta office. Might have a different attitude toward what perks are to be given. And they may have taken on themselves to deny the extra perks because other businesses in the area don’t do that. So a regional issue as opposed to a satellite issue?

        3. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, this. People are allowed to get a little ground down by getting left out of stuff like this, even if it’s theoretically trivial.

          I work in what is functionally a satellite office. Extra snacks are rare so I don’t care if we get emails that there are some in the break room–it’s only going to happen once or twice a year. Plus, my office has free parking and the main office does not, so we definitely win in that respect. But it would get really old of there were lots of treats all the time and we were always getting left out.

      2. cabbagepants*

        I think it depends. Many of the perks listed by Coin Purse can be done cheaply for the company at scale through preferred vendor agreements etc, but they could have a pretty high marginal cost for a small office. For example, on-site gym has a much lower cost per employee served if the site has 5000 employees than 10.

        3/4 of my positions have been at satellite offices so I’m not trying to downplay how much it stinks for the people at the satellite office, but it doesn’t have to be not caring or whatever.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          But that’s how it comes off. Logically its a cost thing. But emotionally the satellite office feels ignored and unappreciated. Which leads to people leaving. Which winds up costing the company in the long run.

          Honestly how hard is it to order bagels for everyone and mean everyone? Or if you celebrate birthdays make sure everyone who wants to be celebrated gets celebrated. Without having to go buy your own cake and get reimbursed for it at some later date.

          OP is not wrong. Everyone hates being in the satellite office already, the company wide emails are not helping that. Even changing to just location specific emails won’t really help because the satellite folks will know the stuff is still going on without them. The solution is to include everyone, not just be quiet about the exclusion.

          But its a law firm so I am not surprised at the obliviousness.

          1. cabbagepants*

            I think how big of a deal it is comes down to opinion. I’ve been in satellite offices where there isn’t even an in site admin or office manager, so someone would have to go outside their normal work duties to get bagels or whatever. Some people care a lot about this sort of perk but to me being upset about not having it is like living in a small rural community and being upset that the local airstrip doesn’t have the same international flight offerings as JFK and LAX. It just comes with the territory.

            1. interplanet janet*

              I do agree in general. I work in a national organization and most of the employees are localized in one metro area, and I don’t feel affronted when they get a special event and we, 8 hours away, are excluded.

              That being said, specifically with OP, it’s more like she applied and was approved for an apartment in a building next to JFK, then the property manager said “oops by the way your unit is actually going to be this one in Bum Nowhere next to to the Bum Nowhere Regional Landing Strip”

              1. cabbagepants*

                LW said their office is 10 minutes from the main office — definitely a distance they could cover quickly!

                But my point is not that I think LW is wrong to be a bit bummed by the unfairness. It IS unfair. My point is that it comes with the territory of satellite offices and it’s pretty unlikely to change.

                1. interplanet janet*

                  Right, maybe bum nowhere was a misnomer – my point was that OP pointed out that she was assigned to a satellite office and didn’t want to be there, which implies that she applied for and perhaps was incentivized to accept the offer based on the HQ experience – then was shuffled off to a satellite against her will

            2. Anne Elliot*

              But the difference is that you’re not living in your rural community receiving multiple emails about how everyone who works at the main office is enjoying those international flights from JFK — you know, the ones you don’t have. In other words, it’s not just that the main office gets bagels and you don’t, it’s the constant reminders of that fact. That’s the part that is insensitive and frankly stupid, given how easy it is to change the distribution list to only those affected.

              We deal with a similar issue because our building is next door to another company’s building and they use our common outdoor space for employee appreciation and team building, and feel the need to make sure we know the periodic goodies are not for us. (“There will be a taco truck in the quad tomorrow for Company A! This is not for Company B!”) No one over here would give a rat’s butt about those events if we didn’t get repeated reminders that they are Not For Us. So I get the emotional reaction but also agree with Alison that it’s not a hill worth dying on.

            3. J!*

              Having been in this situation before, I think there’s a difference between being at a satellite office and knowing that the main office must get perks like occasional bagels, and getting an email every single time the main office gets bagels telling you “bagels in the kitchen!” when you don’t have them. One is a fact of life, the other is rubbing it in.

              The segmented distribution lists are clutch for mitigating these bad feelings!

            4. birb*

              I think most people would be fine with some version of “We’ve got coffee for everyone at X office, and our satellite employees should check their emails for a $10 gift card to -coffee brand of choice-” or even a monthly gift card of the per-employee treat budget and a note to “treat yourself”.

              All of that can be done by whoever it is that is doing it in the main office pretty easily. My guess is there’s just no instant gratification for whoever it is that’s doing the planning since they don’t see the person getting the treat enjoy it, and bask in the glow of being “generous”, so it doesn’t feel “worth it” to spend an equivalent amount on people they don’t really care about because they never see.

              1. cabbagepants*

                Wow, I’m really sorry that you’ve been in offices where people were so crappy and manipulative and only care about helping others for the instant gratification and praise.

      3. The Person from the Resume*

        The perks – huge perks for the home office people….gyms, free food (breakfast and lunch), unlimited free beverages, dry cleaning, package and banking services in house….you name it – sound really big. And if the company is touting it and the satellite office employees are not getting access to them, it would be demoralizing.

        Like a free lunch once a month or so, annoying, but not as big a deal. Free breakfast and lunch everyday makes you think of how much money they are saving with this perk and as you’re buying your own meals and food. Gym on site would be awesome, a time saver (even if you only work out before or after work) and another $100+ a month that the main office people are saving. And I don’t have dry cleaning, but it sounds like a industry that has it so it’s another time and money saver. It adds up in a way a monthly pizza party does not.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      The reverse happened at my firm – the HQ lot got (most) of their fancy treats taken away because the people out in the regional offices and depots have unions. And they got very unhappy.

      While I don’t belong to any of the unions here for reasons of my own I do recommend them.

    3. Sharkie*

      Wow I didn’t know this was a trend for midwestern companies. I worked for a household name one at the main office, only thing was we weren’t allowed to use all the perks everyone else had. Our department head blocked our use of them so we we’re basically a satellite office in the main office. A colleague got fired for going down to the kitchen to get the monthly birthday cake because she was accidentally added to the email list. We were not on the mailing list letting people know that our office was closed due to a blizzard, so we all showed up and were locked out of the building. It was a nightmare.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Fired for getting a piece of birthday cake? What the what? (yes, I know it’s legal. Still. What the actual what?)

      2. DJ Abbott*

        It sounds like they were trying to pretend your department didn’t exist, and fired someone for the reminder! I have to wonder what was going on there.

        1. Sharkie*

          Which is funny because my department was the reason why the company was successful. It was a very cutthroat “you have to prove you belong here before you’re allowed perks” environment. When a few of us complained to HR we were told that our department did our own thing under department head and had no power to change anything. It was banana pants

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Department X does their own thing, higher ups can do nothing to fix that.

            Also higher ups – Department X has really high turnover, I wonder why???????????????

      3. Sloanicota*

        I’ve seen this dynamic play out when a certain department is contracted. In my case, it was really weird because all the people had been there for a long time and seemed like coworkers, but we were always instructed to deliberately exclude them from office stuff, as “they don’t really work here.” It was super uncomfortable.

        1. Anecdata*

          Not naming them, but I definitely know of big companies that have full time, in house contractors, doing the same role as direct hire folks and… everyone’s allowed to get some free coffee but the bowl of fruit next to it is only for direct hires!

    4. Lainey L. L-C*

      I too feel LW1’s pain. Our company has branches all over, but a main branch is also like the corporate headquarters, and they send periodic emails to ALL staff. We get emails all the time about how the main branch got bonuses for X job and even how they can invest their large bonus. None of the rest of us EVER get bonuses, and X job is an account that belongs solely to them and not something we can replicate at our branch.

      1. thatoneoverthere*

        Same with our company. Although we are in HQ for our state, there is a bigger HQ down south. They get all kinds of fun events, that our office doesn’t. Now we do get some stuff, but nothing like the big HQ.

    5. Verthandi*

      Several jobs ago our company had been bought out by another. Our location became a call center for tech support, but the existing tech support at the other company’s location (HQ) also kept their jobs. Those of us working M-F days lost those hours and were assigned the afternoons, midshifts, weekends, overnights, worked every holiday, and got mandatory overtime on top of that. HQ tech support got all the M-F day shifts and optional OT.

      The HQ management would send out emails before every holiday wishing us all a happy three-day weekend. (Three days? We just wanted *two* day weekends.) It felt like a slap in the face and morale was in the toilet.

    6. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      The same happened with the firm I worked for. They mostly sent out emails just to head office staff but then if there was a question for all staff, it got transferred to our office too. Only we got it several days late, only because someone started asking why we hadn’t answered the question. And there was never any attempt to edit the email, so we saw all the other stuff about cakes for birthdays and so on.
      Then someone from our office complained that the head office staff got bowls of fruit, so the director started getting fruit, but it was only for those reporting to him. I and my colleague reported to someone at head office, so we were still left out.
      I had a whole laundry list of petty grievances that I read out during the equivalent of an exit interview, and the lack of fruit was definitely there.

  3. Jade*

    Yes its annoying that main office gets the food but life is not fair and this is a small issue in the scope of things. Just accept it.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It’s pretty tone deaf to send out a “treats in the breakroom!” email to people who work off-site. Whoever is in charge of the emails needs to update the list of recipients. If they can’t do that basic function they shouldn’t be sending out company wide emails especially since the satellite offices seem to be small.

      1. A person*

        It doesn’t sound like this is the case for LW, but where I work, I’m in a small satellite fairly close to a couple larger sites (my small site houses about 15 people, the larger sites have hundreds). I can theoretically work in any of them but I have a desk at the small site and most of my work is there aside from an occasional meeting or experiment. This unfortunately means I’m on the PDL email list for the larger location even though I only go over there a few times a year and they frequently have “snacks in the breakroom” because they just don’t care about having a separate email for “just people that’ll probably be there”. People by us work out of multiple sites so it would be a nightmare to manage the “well this person spends 90% of time here and 5% each at two other spots but this person spends 60% here, 20% at one spot, 10% at another and then sometimes works from home so they are on different lists even though their majority is at the same place” ridiculousness. Everyone in the Metropolitan area at any of the locations there are on these emails.

        Is it a little annoying? Sure… but mostly I just delete them cuz I’m not there that day and don’t pay any real attention to it. One thing our group does right is that we have our own little events that are specific to our site so I second the advice to suggest a budget for the satellite offices.

      2. John Smith*

        This very topic came up at my place where we have a satellite type office so it was agreed that only people who are based fully in the main office got such emails.

        Then someone who is mostly based in the satellite office complained that it was unfair they weren’t informed of treat availability as they could have popped over to claim a treat (satellite office is a 20 minute drive away) so emails to all were reinstated.

        Then people in the satellite office decided they would have their own treats and sent emails to all advising of the presence of such treats which pissed off a few people in the main office who complained to management. So now emails regarding treats are banned completely.

        This is in a professional field regarded as having the highest integrity with supposedly experienced professionals. I sometimes wonder if I’m at playschool.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          This is kind of hilarious, and I think they found a reasonable solution to all the complaining!

        2. bamcheeks*

          What kind of fancy treats were these? People would DRIVE TWENTY MINUTES to get a free bit of cake? :O

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yeah, either they really wanted the social interaction or it was the world’s best cake!

          2. Emmy Noether*

            People get kinda irrational over free food. They eat things they don’t even like, they stampede and hoard, and they’re prepared to spend more money, time and effort to get the free food than it would be to buy equivalent or better food themselves. It’s wild.

            1. Antilles*

              The part that’s especially wild to me is that typically “treats in breakroom” emails come out sometime in the morning or afternoon, i.e., after people were already at work.
              If I knew in advance that the main office was doing an office birthday celebration? Or that they were catering lunch, doing an annual meeting, or whatever? Sure, I’d consider driving straight there and spend the day at HQ rather than the normal satellite office. But if I’m already at the satellite office when you send out “hey, we have cookies in breakroom” email? I’m absolutely not stopping mid-day to jump in my car and drive all the way across town for a few free cookies.

            2. I am Emily's failing memory*

              I submit as evidence: the scene outside of a Krispy Kreme on Free Donut Day, when people who live in a city with a $15 minimum wage will line up around the block and stand in line for an hour to get a free glazed donut that would have otherwise cost a staggering 99 cents.

              1. Gumby*

                Heck, if you time it right you can get a free donut there every single day. (Free glazed with any purchase when the ‘Hot’ light is on. At least near me. Though the donuts are also over $2 in this area.)

            3. Sparkles McFadden*

              Free anything seems to unleash the inner hoarder in most people, but free food seems to elicit the most primal response. I found food that had been pawed over and breathed on by my coworkers to be supremely unappealing (even pre-covid), but I’d go to wherever the food was because it was like watching a documentary on human behavior.

              As for advice to the LW, the best you can do is to advocate for a small budget for treats for the satellite office. You will never be able to control the company-wide announcements. It should be an easy fix, but it won’t happen. If a change does happen, a different set of people will complain. (See the John Smith comment upthread.) You have to let that go.

          3. Yorick*

            This sounds crazy but could actually be super reasonable. What if the main office is between your house and the satellite office and you see a free breakfast email before you leave for work? I’d totally stop by for bagels.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Lawyers? I worked with lawyers for years, and, if you wanted to watch civilization go out the window, have free food anywhere and dare to tell them it’s for someone else or not provide them with an equivalent. One corner office partner would walk into any lunch he could find (in any office he was working from, whether an event/speaker was in progress or not), take a plate of food, and leave. It was one of the rudest, most power-trippy things I’ve ever seen.

      3. rollyex*

        This. It shows some laziness or incompetence to not have email lists set up for people in specific locations – “Main office staff” “Harper’s Ferry office staff” etc

        This is assuming the locations are moderately static – if they change frequently (more than monthlyis?) the admin burden might be too much.

        People have limited time and attention at work. Sending to all is not a good look as a default.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah or if some staff are always popping in and out of various offices, I could see why that might become something of a hazard/annoyance (Bob didn’t realize about the active shooting drill because he didn’t get the Harper’s Ferry emails but he was traveling to the office that day for a meeting …Sara didn’t see that the main office was going to be opening an hour late and was stuck outside waiting to be let in)

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        But also tone-deaf to send a reply-all email letting everyone in the main office, and all satellite offices, know you are miffed.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes unfortunately OP’s response was probably the worst option, although (to me, at least) quite understandable.

        2. JP*

          Yeah, I kind of cringed when I read that. Most people would not have a favorable reading of that response.

        1. Willow Pillow*

          Good thing we have people who are bothered about this then, so that you have the opportunity to weigh in!

      5. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, having an office-wide email list vs. a company-wide list doesn’t seem that hard. But I agree with Alison that the OP should try to let it go.

      6. RegBarclay*

        Yeah my employer has two HQs in two different states, multiple satellite offices and many WFH employees. it’s not hard to set up an email group for “onsite employees in X office” for breakroom announcements, etc…

    2. Fikly*

      Ah, yes, just accept that you’re being treated badly, because the problem is that you are upset about it, not that you are being treated badly! Way to victim blame.

      Also, you’re missing the point. The LW is more upset that the difference in treatment is something they can’t avoid seeing due to the emails, rather than about the difference in treatment.

      Yes, they are handling it badly by being passive aggressive about it, rather than say, offering a productive solution as AAM suggested, but just accept that you are being treated badly is a pretty terrible solution. The I in DEI stands for inclusion, you know.

      1. l*

        I think it’s quite a stretch to say that not getting free coffee is being “treated badly” or that OP is a victim of anything. It’s an annoying situation and the emails are a little thoughtless, but it’s definitely not a DEI issue (unless the offices differ demographically, but there’s nothing to indicate that).

      2. Heather*

        Being informed of treats being available in an office you dont work in is not being “treated badly”..

      3. RagingADHD*

        Did you seriously just invoke DEI over someone being upset that people in a different location got cookies and juice, and they didn’t?

        Way to undermine the credibility of an actually important principle. DEI is not just corporate speak for Suileabhain-Wilson’s “Geek Social Fallacies.”

      4. Bog Witch*

        I’m sure you didn’t mean to equate being left out of office treats to systemic exclusion in offices based on race, gender identity, etc.

      5. Baffled*

        Apparently DEI stands for Donut Eating Inclusion.

        This is not remotely comparable. Yes, they are upset and treated differently, but it’s because they are in a satellite office, NOT because of a protected class.

        LW is not being treated badly in the workspace over a lack of snacks. Look at Bob is the above letter – that’s being treated badly in the workplace.

      6. LilPinkSock*

        I don’t think the focus of DEI work is ensuring everyone gets a brownie. I’m in a male-dominated industry, and I’d be pretty unhappy if my organization’s “commitment” to equity paid lip service to real issues because they were too busy distributing snacks.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      We’re heavily unionised here and after a bad case of a ‘hey there’s a banquet for the HQ staff because you’re so important’ email sent to the entire company (the resultant reply all brought down the exchange servers) we have to only send such emails to the building distribution list, no others.

      The unions got incredibly unhappy. So it can be a big deal.

      For a smaller place with less risk of IT headaches I’d recommend setting up an email rule that shunts emails relating to food into an unused folder or the bin. I have a rule set up on my account for anything pertaining to weight loss. I do not want to hear it.

    4. Sharkie*

      No. What if there is a fire drill? Or they are repaving the parking lot? Or Rick cant figure out the printer? They dont need to know this. There should be office only email chains. Its 2023 and easy to setup.

      1. Antilles*

        I actually think some of your examples are ones where it *does* make sense to include the satellite offices. If the satellite office is only ~10 minutes from main office, I’d expect there are times where people from the satellite office visit the main office (e.g., you have a client meeting downtown today so it’s more convenient) and it’d be worth knowing about the fire drill / parking lot paving for anybody who might be visiting main office that day.

        The ideal way I’ve seen it is that every office has their own, but then there’s also a bigger one that covers both nearby branches. So you’ll have “Atlanta-Suburbs” and “Atlanta-Downtown” for covering small stuff like the printer or snacks, but you’ll also have “Atlanta-All” to handle stuff (like the fire drill) where you want to make sure even visitors from the satellite know about it.

        1. Sharkie*

          Yeah, but not in this example where they’re in different areas. My company has branches all over my city, but we don’t send fire drills for our offices to the office is 3 miles away. If they’re scheduled to be in our office in the meeting invite, we include all of those things.

    5. RabbitRabbit*

      I”ve grown to just have to deal with getting email announcements that don’t pertain to me, even though they could easily set up an all-department list vs specific lists. I’m sure the staff located in an entirely different building doing related but wholly different work has been annoyed for many years prior to COVID.

      In addition to the group in the nearby building plus the satellite office on another floor as separate entities from the main office, our department has a significant portion who are WFH and do not have desks in the office suite, so there are a good number of people who never need to hear about cake in the kitchen, or the need for people to adhere to the kitchen cleaning schedule, or the weird smell in the ventilation, or the second copier not working.

      …Or the “vagueposting”-style message from one of the administrators reminding everyone that they need to be professional and polite to all their colleagues. Meanwhile my division had maybe one person who we could get the dirt from but she chose that moment to suddenly decide that she was not (any longer) one to spread gossip. She used to be part of our division but was reassigned to another, and was annoyed that we were WFH and she was not.

    6. Sloanicota*

      This will be the response of HR if OP tries to raise this more seriously, unfortunately. That’s why it might be better for OP to push for an email list that is targeted to staff in the main office only. For whatever reason I have found that, when you’re trapped at work all day, small things like free food or other small-seeming perks take on undue mental importance.

    7. Totally Minnie*

      As a person who has previously written in to Alison over an issue that seemed massive to me but small potatoes to a lot of other people, I’m guessing the emails about treats they can’t have isn’t the only thing that’s bothering the LW.

      When you’re being sidelined and deprioritized by the people you work for, it feels really awful and it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what’s making you feel that way. That kind of experience is usually marked not by one big, easily recognizable sign of disrespect, but by a series of smaller things that on their own wouldn’t be a big problem. But they pile up over time and it’s really common for people in situations like this to latch on to an easily describable situation as their main example of the lack of respect they’re being treated with.

      So the person dealing with the situation is like “and on top of everything else, they keep emailing us about perks we can’t have!” And everyone in their life is like “dude, it’s just free office coffee, it’s not that big a deal,” but it’s more of a straw that breaks the camel’s back type scenario.

    8. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      The treats exclusion is probably a symptom of an overall problem. No one wanted to go to the satellite office. The office is probably forgotten in general and their contributions not acknowledged. The exclusion just reinforces that.

      1. ferrina*


        Even if it’s not, it’s a reasonable conclusion for someone to draw. “If I’m not included in casual things like treats, am I not included in casual conversations that turn into decisions or even career promotions?”

        Same issue for remote workers- if they don’t see me, will they remember I exist? I can’t tell you the number of in-person meetings where we’ve been planning a project, and had to say “We should loop in Remote Worker, because this project is going to lean heavily on their time and expertise.” Only to be met with blank stares, because they forgot Remote Worker existed.
        It’s the corporate version of Object Permanence– some people are very good at Employee Permanence and remember people who are not in sight; some people are very bad at Employee Permanence and only the people they physically see, exist.

        1. Cyndi*

          You don’t even have to be remote! I had an ADA accommodation at my last job that involved my desk being moved physically away from my team–not even into another room, just in the next bank of cubicles over–and people CONSTANTLY forgot to let me know about team huddles, group lunch orders, etc.

      2. B*

        Yes, and especially if the LW is a lawyer, and a junior one, I would be concerned that this is not a work culture where I would get good professional development and advancement opportunities.

    9. thelettermegan*

      It is something that can be very frustrating when it adds up – I had a dotted line manager in a different state who loved to bake, and a few others in that office liked to organize social events (which often required carpooling). We got all the emails about these events, 3000 miles away.

      We tried gentle hints (because Midwest) but that only resulted in defensive actions such as ordering treats to be picked up for our office, which was nice but somehow always turned into a boondoggle.

      Jokes about buying plane tickets for a retirement lunch resulted in more defensive rebuttals: ‘well we thought you’d like to know we were doing something for Wakeen’ etc.

      It wasn’t that people were jealous, necessarily, so much as it just reeked of disorganization and social cluelessness. Our inboxes were already bursting at the seams with overly-distributed emails and when notices about out-of-state donuts came in, it made the situation so much more frustrating.

      We were already pretty annoyed with how the manager handled emails (it was a time before Teams adoption) but in retrospect it would have been smart to just come out and tell the manager and everyone else to please set up their own office-specific email list.

      I think it was indicative of something going on at that office as well, and especially with the dotted line manager – they were part of company that had only existed in that state previously, and were bought out by the out of state company, and we were on merged teams. I wonder if the email lists were set up subconsciously to absolve the weird feelings of suddenly being the satellite office, and having teammates in other states who weren’t going to participate in the old in-person way.

      1. rollyex*

        “so much as it just reeked of disorganization and social cluelessness.”

        Reminded of an all-staff email in a small global organization celebrating raises for everyone….in the HQ office.

    10. JustaTech*

      It is and it isn’t. Yes, the food specifically is a small issue.
      But the recognition is a much bigger issue, as evidenced by 1) the LW writing in and 2) how many people here have experiences with similar situations.

      While the food might not matter, the ongoing perception that one site is “lesser” than another is a great way to put up walls and sow mistrust that can take *years* of dedicated work to undo. The last thing any organization needs is for Site A to feel that they’re treated poorly by upper management because they’re denied the cool perks (gym, snacks, better coffee) that site B gets, so upper management must like site B better and end up with an antagonistic relationship with site B that interferes with actually getting the job done.
      I’ve seen it happen over things as small as the coffee machine. (Site B gets K-cups, site A has to pay for coffee and site C is still using the crummy drip system from 20 years ago, but at least it’s free.)

      There is also the possibility that the difference in perks isn’t just an oversight leading to bad feelings at site A, but might *actually* reflect how management feels about site A compared to site B – which is straight up terrible management in its own right.

  4. constant_craving*


    “Did not seem to be… very old” is not a reportable problem, or even a problem. People of all ages are good at their job and people of all ages are incompetent. Age is the wrong thing to focus on here.

    1. Baron*

      I hadn’t even noticed that line in the letter – thank you! I think you’re absolutely right.

      Someone doesn’t have to be “very old” to work as a recruiter, unless they’re trying to recruit someone to work in Cave 76.

    2. LawBee*

      I read that as the LW was noting the recruiter was lacking experience in the general workforce, not flagging youth as a problem.

      1. Takrina*

        I am LW # 3 – and yes, you’re correct. I meant it as the recruiter comes across as lacking experience, not that being young is a problem in and of itself! Thank you for understanding what I meant!

    3. Santiago*

      Contextually, the point was to express that the recruiter was immature. The entire letter focuses on the recruiter’s immaturity, rather than being a tirade on age.

    4. Myrin*

      OP didn’t “focus” on it, she just mentioned it, most likely as a shortcut-of-sorts for “inexperienced and/or immature”.

        1. Myrin*

          Of course I do, but it’s a throwaway line in a letter to an online advice columnist and also really not the point of the letter in any way.

          You are quite right with what you’re saying in a general “the way a lot of people talk about age in both directions can both expose biases and serve as a tool to belittle ‘the other'” sort of way which is a worthwhile discussion regarding both linguistics and societal views, but in a letter to AAM about an obnoxious recruiter, it’s just nitpicking a half sentence that really doesn’t matter at all.

        2. Saltandpepperchips*

          Maybe take it down a notch?
          The context was clearly about the recruiter’s inexperience as part of the reason for their lack of decorum.

  5. Eyeland*

    LW1 – I’m mostly WFH and up until this month I was tied to a smaller office that was 5 hours from head office. I’ve had to miss out on numerous luncheons, morning teas, and have numerous times had to cover my whole department for a luncheon for Melbourne Cup. Our local office occasionally did barbeques but that was it.

    It sucks, but… it’s kinda how it is sometimes. For what it’s worth, I would gladly take a free reimbursed meal/item for myself to enjoy at my own leisure.

    1. Snow Globe*

      I think that’s a different scenario. I also work from home, and feel the perks of WFH greatly exceed the occasional birthday cake. But if I was assigned (not by choice) to work in a satellite office, then constantly got those emails, while our office didn’t even get a budget for our own treats, I’d be pretty ticked off too.

    2. ferrina*

      Some parts are same, some are different. WFH does offer perks that office work doesn’t- one could argue that the not commuting alone makes up for the luncheons (between the time and expenses).

      But covering for the whole office seems a bit over the line. That’s a big ask.

  6. Joan Smith*

    In case OP#2 might be interested, there are companies who place other things online to move past results down several pages of a Google search. You can find their techniques online (I read about them in Jon Ronson’s ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ and you could also just apply them yourself if you prefer not to hire someone.

    1. John Smith*

      Unsure about the US, but in the UK and Europe I believe there’s a “right to be forgotten” where you can apply to Google (or whoever) and request that the search results are removed. I don’t believe it removes the web pages but I believe it makes them more difficult to find. I have seen a Millenium Figital Act(?) message for some search results which I’m guessing is a US version but unsure if this just relates to intellectual property.

      1. Higgs Bison*

        Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It’s specifically for copyright, the portion of intellectual property law relating to (to oversimplify) the right to distribute, modify, or riff off a creative work.

        1. Joan Smith*

          Now I’m wondering whether OP could use that to have the most promient articles taken down if they reproduce her email in full, since she would own the copyright to her words.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            Probably not. There is a solid fair use defense and most publications host their own content so I’m not sure who is going to “take it down”. Unless OP is inclined to engage in expensive litigation over it.

          2. Craig*

            If LW has been using their own device and/or account to search, and has previously clicked those links, their story will appear at the top of the results.

            It’s worth getting a friend to search on their own device as it’s possible links to LW’s story will be less prominent.

        2. David*

          Yep, and to add to that: when you see a message in search results saying that a site was hidden because of the DMCA, that most likely means a copyright owner (such as an author, publisher, or production company) sent a message to Google saying “[site] is hosting illegal copies of our [movie/TV show/book/etc.], so pursuant to the DMCA, we are asking you to remove [site] from search results”. (It’s a little more formal than that, the law sets out specific pieces of information that need to be included in the message, but that’s the gist.)

          There’s no legal right to be forgotten in the US. Of course I’m not a lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt, but I believe any such law would probably be considered incompatible with our right to free speech.

          1. kalli*

            The right to be forgotten doesn’t mean that political free speech can’t happen, it just means that people have the right to ask for things that happened decades ago to not be memorialised when they’re no longer relevant.

    2. Sue*

      I read that book. So interesting to learn about the flip side of incidents we’ve all read about in the news. That’s the first thing I thought of while reading this letter, Bury That Story! It is apparently very doable.

    3. Kate*

      Yes I was thinking that perhaps some sort of digital scrub can be applied here. There are people out there that can help

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Nowhere near the same scale but there’s a reason I don’t ever give out my real name online. Because I was a whistleblower for a case that ended up in the high court and the press got involved.

        I can’t get the news articles taken down, I certainly can’t get the court documents removed but I have removed the company in question from my CV and I’m definitely paranoid about my real name appearing online again.

        So, yes, consult with identity management experts but they cannot remove everything. Sometimes all you can do is try to move forward (I do send a note to prospective employers regarding the court case sometimes)

        1. Joan Smith*

          I understood that they don’t actually remove anything, they just flood the internet with harmless other stuff that the algorithm likes better than the old stories

    4. bamcheeks*

      The DIY advice I saw a few years ago was to have as many accounts on things like Spotify, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn etc as possible in your own name, because they all have great SEO and will push them to the top of Google. You don’t have to use them particularly (though adding a few bland photos/playlists/etc can help), but if you’ve got enough of them then they’ll fill most of the first 10-20 hits on Google and a lot of people won’t check any further.

      I do not know if this still works, however! Maybe someone with more SEO experience can comment.

    5. thelettermegan*

      Oh yes this is very easy to do! Especially if the information is from 12 years ago. OP can flex some writing muscles, interact with small bloggers, and give those ancient articles a page 2 problem.

    6. Lily Rowan*

      Tangentially related, but I just heard speculation that the reason Taylor Swift went to the Jets game in particular is because of stories criticizing her for flying in private jets! So if you google Taylor Swift + jets now, you get stories about the game. (Although I just tried it and singular jet still gets the flying private stuff.)

      1. Elsewise*

        There’s a similar theory about why Disney decided to name their movie Frozen. Because there was a rumor about Walt Disney’s head being cryogenically frozen (and, in some versions, kept in the Disney vault, which is just a hilarious image), so now if you google “Disney Frozen” you won’t see those rumors. Probably not true, but I find it funny anyway.

  7. GoToBread*

    LW1 I would suggest setting up email filters so you can either move these type of emails to a separate folder or delete automatically. Especially if there is a pattern to the email subject line or body text

  8. Oatmeal Mom*

    LW1 – I work for a head office but we have a mailing list (or mailing group in Outlook) for people in the head office only where such things get announced. I don’t see why people in other offices need to know, and they have their own mailing lists in other offices for things that only concern them. That would be a pretty simple solution for the problem, if your IT department could set that up.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      My old job had one main office and three satellite offices, and everyone automatically got added to the mailing list for the main office (which housed lots of different teams) even if they’d been hired to work in one of the satellites, or if they were hired after the whole team moved in together to one of the satellite offices. Treats tended to be an individual team thing so there weren’t mass emails about those, but we used to get a lot of rants about the state of the kitchen that were nothing to do with us.

      A lot of people weren’t bothered enough to do anything about it, but one guy did get frustrated about all these emails that were nothing to do with him and IT just removed him from that list. It should be easy enough for IT to sort this one.

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      This is usually laziness on the part of the sender. It’s easier to spam the whole site or whole company when the right thing to do would be to send the email to a narrowly targeted distribution list. I’ve often wondered how much it costs every time a large company with thousands of employees has a small chunk of everyone’s time wasted by a dumb email that only applies to people on the second floor of Building 10.

      1. Dawn*

        I work for a university at one of several satellite campuses (think Medical campus or campus in city X rather than Y). I went to graduate school at the main campus over ten years ago and cannot get removed from at least two email lists. I’m not annoyed not to be included. I work at a large campus with its own culture—and it’s own institution-wide emails! But I’m annoyed that I can’t get taken of the lists.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          I remember a friend telling me once about how, when she was let go from the temp job where I first met her, they never did anything about taking her off the team’s mailing list. A few months later, she started a new temp job with the same employer, but for a different team, and IT just reactivated the email address she’d had in Temp Job 1. Once she started that job, she soon realised she was still on Temp Job 1’s team list, (that team dealt with children in local authority care, and there were times she got emailed confidential information) – I know she flagged it umpteen times and still had trouble getting removed from that list.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Learned incompetence too. If I set up a new email list for a specific office and told people to use it instead of just putting a note in teams that also goes to remote employees (or even set up a separate teams channel…) I guarantee there would be a huge spike in drama about how unnecessarily onerous that was and how people couldn’t figure out how to send things to an email list or couldn’t POSSIBLY be asked to remember this step…

        …okay maybe I had a nerve struck there. But yeah, being considerate is a completely daunting work task most places, for some reason.

  9. Chattydelle*

    LW3 – I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the recruiter works on a commission & is losing a planned-on paycheck for getting you hired. it would explain their over-the-top reaction. shrug it off, you dodged a bullet

    1. duinath*

      i would be so tempted to forward the email, but i know that’s just my petty little self talking. it would make me look as bad as the recruiter, i think. best to just make a mental note not to work with that recruiter again. and hey, there’s always a chance someone will ask about them. mwahaha.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yeah, I’m confident that it’s either commission, or a related thing like targets for number of people / amount of income placed.

      What occurred to me about that though is that having “introduced” OP to the company, if OP had accepted the company’s offer of direct employment, would the recruiter (be within their rights to) seek the commission anyway?

      If OP told the interviewers the whole story (a variation of “this role seemed really interesting, at first I was given the impression it was direct, but then it turned out it was through the agency, and that there was no health insurance etc…”) they might have already picked up that the recruiter was out of order. Whether they’ll use that recruiter again… I wouldn’t like to say but I bet it has been discussed internally. As a manager myself I know there will have been internal discussion about making the direct employment offer when they hadn’t planned to, as there are implications for headcount etc. They will have needed a reason to get the direct offer “signed off” and then, I presume, the part about the recruiter will have come out.

      1. Colette*

        The recruiter would almost certainly be eligible for a commission regardless of whether the OP were working through the temp agency or directly.

    3. Lucia Pacciola*

      I honestly don’t understand what this LW imagines they’re going to accomplish.

      “Hey, your recruiter was really obnoxious and pushy.”

      “Well, they found us a great candidate, so clearly it’s a feature, not a bug! I’ll make sure to renew their contract.”

  10. John Smith*

    Re LW4. I dont think I’m keen on the out of office reply mentioning a funeral as the reason. Firstly, I don’t think a reason should be mentioned at all as I can imagine it may set a precedent of having to need a reason to be on leave. Secondly, from personal experience, I would not want to come back to the office and deal with the sympathies, apologies, were they close, I know how you feel etc comments that inevitably occur. Whilst these can be preempted with colleagues by a manager (“John is back tomorrow and would like to carry on as normal so please don’t discuss the funeral or passing of his loved one”), this cannot be done with external people.

    Far better to state you are out of office, you have no access to email and your inbox won’t be monitored. Provide alternative contacts where possible and an expected return date or “forseeable future”.

    On a personal note, time does heal. Take care of yourself.

    1. Dina*

      “Urgent personal business” is one I’ve used in the past. People at that office either read between the lines or didn’t want to pry because I didn’t get any comments about that (just about my absence generally).

      1. Awkwardness*

        Ha! This is the first one I thought about, too.

        It seems a bit too personal for me to disclose a funeral.

    2. coffee*

      If I saw someone had taken time off for a funeral, I would indeed pass on my condolences to them next time we spoke, so I agree that putting it in her signature may not be the LW’s preference.

      I did have a coworker whose husband passed away unexpectedly. I passed on my sympathies next time we met, and she basically said something along the lines of “Thanks for the sympathy, it was unexpected and it’s difficult for me to talk about, let’s move the conversation on.” And I just followed her lead. LW4, you might find this approach useful if the topic comes up? You can direct the conversation, you don’t have to talk about it. And I think it’s okay to display some grief, if that happens.

      I’m so sorry.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      “Away for the foreseeable future” is usually to be avoided, imo. It will prompt people receiving that into speculation about what had happened to you, will you ever be back, etc. And then the references to it when you do come back.

      If “for the foreseeable future” does need to be communicated, probably better to use wording like “with return date not determined yet”.

    4. anononon*

      Yes, I don’t love the precedent of ‘explaining why I’m on leave’. It introduces a hierarchy of ‘hmm, can I contact that person?’ – they’re ‘just’ on holiday? Hell yeah, I’m calling them with this totally non-urgent thing. It’s a honeymoon? Maybe I’ll think twice… Funeral leave? Definitely not.

      Let’s normalise ‘I’m away, and I’m not checking my email, and I’ll reply when I get back on [date]’.

      1. amoeba*

        That’s the culture here and it works well (“I am out of office without access to e-mail until x date, I will get back to you as soon as possible”) – but the LW explicitly specifies that if she doesn’t give a reason, people assume it’s a vacation and ask questions/comment about it when she comes back. So probably not a solution here if she specifically asks to avoid that.

        I agree though, I’d go with “(urgent) personal matter” or “family matter”, “funeral” would feel a little TMI to me, and would probably also make people talk about it even more. But that’s probably also a culture thing, as here usually people don’t give a reason beyond maybe “travelling for work” or “vacation”, but mostly just “out of office”. (And nobody asks, except if they actually know you were on vacation for the last two weeks!)

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, I had a colleague who was out for several weeks over the summer one year, and when she came back, everyone asked about her vacation. Well, she was home because her young child was having serious surgery and then recovering! So not a great time off.

          1. Ama*

            I actually did have a family member pass away unexpectedly while I was on a two-week vacation one year — I ended up just not telling anyone at work because I didn’t want to have to talk about it.

            A complicating factor was that that particular vacation was my first in almost two years that was planned to *not* involve family obligations and my husband and I were taking it in part because I was on the verge of a breakdown due to my vacations never really being vacations. So for that reason after discussions with my other family members I ended up not attending the funeral (we were also vacationing in such a remote area that my entire remaining vacation would have been spent traveling to the funeral and back). As you might imagine I was not really up for explaining all of that complicated reasoning to coworkers, so I just nodded and said “yes it was nice” to people who asked about my vacation.

        2. Heather*

          Agreed. I’d also recommend “family emergency” – it’s vague enough that people won’t ask but obviously not fun.

      2. Jamjari*

        I know where I work there’s an assumption that if you’re away, you’re on vacation.

        I took time off for a family member’s MAID earlier this year, and I don’t think I had words for why I was out of office, though maybe I said family matter. I know I didn’t want to deal with the sympathies (and medical assistance in dying is a controversial subject). That said, most people wouldn’t have seen the out of office, regardless, since we use email rarely. I had a few people ask how my vacation was which was hard.

        All of which is to say, we’re human with human relationships – some people will ask how you vacation was unless they know. However, it certainly was a reminder to me not to assume people are on vacation just because they were away.

        Also, we need to normalize conversations about death and dying.

      3. LW4*

        While I do respect and appreciate this sentiment, this is not the time + I am not the person who wants to try and change my office culture. I am just trying to get by. I am not prepared to shoulder the burden of trying to normalize anything right now, I just want to do my job with minimal reminders about my heartbreak. I hope that makes sense.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          That makes perfect sense, and was the response I was about to give before I saw your comment. It is not your job to change a culture, and while that culture change would indeed be ideal it’s unlikely to happen in a time frame that would help your current situation.

          Any variation of “dealing with a personal matter” is fine, if you don’t want to be specific. “Out of the office and unable to be contacted” is also fine. Give someone else as a contact if you need to, and turn off your email notifications.

        2. Alpaca Bag*

          When I came back to work after losing my daughter last year, one of my customers said she hoped I had a good vacation, and I just fell apart. I recommend saying you’re out for bereavement leave or condolence leave so you don’t have to say those words that are so hard to say while your emotions are still so raw.

          I’m sorry for your loss, and I hope it’s not too long until you can think of your person with more smiles than tears.

    5. Ms_Meercat*

      Generally, I would agree with you, but LW has specifically mentioned that when no reason is given in an OoO at all, people at her workplace assume that it was a vacation and say things like “I hope the vacay was fun!” etc upon return. LW said they’d much prefer a short “Sorry for your loss” exchange than a “How was your vacation???!”
      For that reason, I’d go with any of “on a family emergency”, “bereavement leave”, “personal matter”, or, as Alison suggested, directly mention the funeral.

      When I lost my mother last year, I felt similarly; I did want people to know because I wanted them to be sensitive to the fact that I wasn’t cheerful after the summer and wouldn’t want to partake in any fun “how was your summer holiday??!!” exchanges and then have to lie, be weird, or break the news; so I asked our office manager to discreetly let people know while I was out so I wouldn’t have to deal with that (I also live in a country where it’s very normal for colleagues of someone bereaved to go to the funeral/wake etc, but my family is in another country so this didn’t apply in my case).
      LW, I’m very sorry for your loss.

      1. I Have RBF*

        When my father was dying, and I went to be there, I took PTO and a bit of bereavement leave. I was blunt with my teammates, but my OOO mail was “family matter”, IIRC. When I was out for my father’s memorial a couple months later, it said “bereavement leave.” It still didn’t stop me from having to pull over at the side of the road to answer a phone call about something I was primary one because my teammates would not step up to the on-call responsibilities of the position. Yes, I’m still salty about that.

    6. Perfectly Particular*

      I recently used “I’m out of the office on condolence leave”. It worked well. I got 0 Teams messages or texts, and a couple of kind remarks of sympathy when I returned. My role is one where urgent availability is occasionally needed for compliance reasons, so I don’t usually take full-disconnect leave without giving my colleagues a few weeks warning.

        1. MtnLaurel*

          I was in that situation a couple of months ago.My out of office was “bereavement leave” and it seemed to work well. I got a few written condolences but nothing in meetings, which was perfect for me. (US)

    7. Happy meal with extra happy*

      This and a bunch of other responses about “shouldn’t have to provide a reason” are completely missing the point. OP isn’t asking how to change company culture, how to avoid justifying their absence, etc. They simply want to know the easiest, cleanest way to preempt questions about their time off, which will otherwise happen based on past experience. They even said they can handle a “sorry for your loss” exchange. Literally all of these responses will cause the exact scenario that OP said they wanted to avoid.

    8. alienor*

      I feel like this is the perfect time for “a family emergency.” It is family, it is an emergency, and anyone with any sense should know it doesn’t mean a fun vacation. I would certainly never ask someone for details about their family emergency when they got back to the office, since it could be any number of things and none of them are likely to be something the person wants to discuss.

    9. Lucia Pacciola*

      I can’t wrap my head around this scenario at all. I’ve *never* had someone follow up on my OOO autoreply message. And my message is always the same: “I will be OOO from [date] to [date]. Reach out to Team X for questions about X, and Team Y for questions about Y. Reach out to My Boss for any urgent matters.”

      That’s it. Nobody has ever come back and asked me how my OOO was and what I was up to. And if someone thinks I was on vacation? So. What. Maybe I was. Maybe I wasn’t. Either way, it never comes up.

      The only people who might ask about it are people who already know the circumstances anyway: My boss, who has to at least be told I’m going to be out, and my teammates, who have to carry on without me in my absence. If you don’t want to talk to your boss about the funeral, just tell him that. Geez.

    10. Meghan*

      I was out on bereavement leave last week as my grandfather passed away. We were very close and I was at many points hysterical. I just said that I was out on bereavement leave and if you need anything contact X person.

      So far, no one has asked how I am or said anything to cause me to become upset in the office (I mean, other things have but not people who email me, hah). I’ve had a few “welcome back” or “I’m sorry about your family member- here is what I need” kind of thing.

      I was, however, still checking e-mails while I was out because sometimes it was a nice little break from *everything* and for me, it was nice to share some things about my grandfather with contacts that I am on a friendlier basis with. But that’s just me!

  11. nodramalama*

    I dont really get the big deal about LW2 or why raise it at all. They went viral for sleeping with a famous person over a decade ago? If it had nothing to do with her job i don’t really understand why it would affect a hiring decision. It’s not like she did anything wrong.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I’m having trouble figuring out what words I would use to address it if I brought it up in an interview.

        “I wanted to make sure this wouldn’t be an issue….” and then what would you say to explain the situation? “Over a decade ago, I had a fling with a famous person, and it’s all over the internet, but now ….”?

        Would LW be apologizing? Qualifying? I’m just not sure what words I would put in the ellipses.

        1. FisherCat*

          I think OP would be trying to acknowledge that there is a very public example of their poor judgment (the email that was leaked) but that doesn’t reflect their professional values currently. Not apologizing for the fling but apologizing for the public drama.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Honestly, this doesn’t even rise to the level of “poor judgment” to me. I suppose it depends whether “email to friends” means “to six close friends, one of whom turned out to be much less trustworthy than expected” or “to an email list with 120 people on it” or something, and how explicit the email was– the more people you sent it to and the more saucy it was, the more chance that someone is going to forward it on. But even then, in 2011 the whole “going viral” thing was *very* new and unexpected, and it seems so harsh that it’s still following LW a decade later!

            1. amoeba*

              Yup – I’m honestly slightly confused why that would be considered a grave mistake on the side of OP. If anything, I’d say they were the victim of somebody leaking private information about them! Somewhat similar to an ex putting your nudes on the internet – that’s not something *you* did wrong, but very much on them. Maybe the missing context makes it clearer, but like this, I honestly can’t see how that would be something the LW would need to apologise for…

              Pre-warn? Maybe. As in, she doesn’t want people to be distracted by the juicy gossip they find on the internet so get it out at the beginning and then move on.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                It’s because the story comes up if you google OP, but not if you google the name of the person who did the leaking.

                1. amoeba*

                  Yes, sure. I just don’t get why the OP considers that a mistake she needs to apologise for – I mean, she’s the victim here?

                2. bamcheeks*

                  I think the elements that would make it seem apology-worthy for me would be if it was disrespectful to the celebrity, and shared with a lot of people. “I dated so-and-so, squeeee!” to five close friends is one thing. “Here’s an explicit account of my night with Famous McFamousPants” to a larger group is pretty different. The celebrity is *also* entitled to expect some discretion and privacy from people they date, IMO, and how explicit LW was and how many people they shared with is pretty critical to whether I’d see them as a the victim of someone else invading their privacy or whether they were the person who violated their former partner’s privacy.

              2. Boof*

                my only guess is maybe some people would be critical about bragging online* about the liaison (*semi privately, but it’s stressed to varying degrees that there really is no privacy online, it’s only an illusion… as I suppose OP’s story illustrates)
                If it was everywhere I’m sure OP has heard every possible take on the situation D:

              3. MK*

                I wonder about that too, and I assume the new role that requires discretion might also involve contact with celebrities. If a person in their 20s who worked, say, at a publishing house, had a fling with a famous author and blabbed about it online, that raises a question of whether they understand that discretion is required from people who work with celebrities. If that person is now applying to work for a Hollywood agent, it’s not unreasonable for the hiring manager to wonder whether they understand they shouldn’t talk (or at least be circumspect) about the agency’s clients. Personally, I wouldn’t have the same reservations if the person was applying for a job that required a different type of discretion, like a health care provider; but if I was hiring someone to work with celebrities in a confidential posotion, I would think twice about someone who had shown indiscretion in dealing with celebrities in the past.

                1. Corelle*

                  I think this is an important distinction. In addition, a hiring manager in a business with celebrities as clients would need to consider concerns about privacy from their clientele.

              4. MCMonkeyBean*

                I agree, I think there’s been a significant societal shift to acknowledge more now that when private data is shared online that is a violation and not something you did wrong. I remember way back when I was in high school Vanessa Hudgens had private photos leaked and got absolutely eviscerated–but like a decade later Jennifer Lawrence and a bunch of other women at photos leaked and the general response was so different, correctly seeing those women as victims. (I know there was further complications for Hudgens due to being a Disney Channel star but still)

                And this isn’t even photos, but just an email? Obviously OP and Alison left a lot of context out on purpose but I am struggling to imagine why anyone would think it there was anything wrong with hooking up with someone and then telling your friends about it, and struggling even more to imagine why an employer would care. I understand that sometimes during the hiring process they learn information that will introduce biases so even things that shouldn’t matter might knock you out of the running, but I was very surprised that Alison’s response talked about the risk of them finding out after you were already hired. Why would it matter at that point??

              5. First time commenter*

                There was a similar case once where the woman sent an email to few friends where she described the sexual encounter in detail. It was basically girl talk, but she said some offensive stuff when talking about the physical aspect of the celebrity, while also making it clear she only agreed to it because he was famous.

                Many people found it very mean spirited and said that it shows her character. There was also talk about how she’ll probably have a hard time getting work due to people in that industry being private.

                But tbh, if I was a recruiter I would never bring up that story because it would be embarrassing.

            2. ferrina*

              Yeah, as a hiring manager, this wouldn’t register as “poor judgement”. This would be on the same level as “OP ran a marathon” or whatever. It’s old news, it’s not related to their work, and OP did a pretty normal thing (again, assuming that it was an email to a small group of friends, there was nothing creepy or whatever).

              In my industry (consulting), I wouldn’t expect OP to bring it up and I’d be a little worried if they did. I’d wonder if they were bringing it up because it had impacted work relationships or reputation. If it’s just something that one of our clients or coworkers might Google, I’d actually frown on the client/coworker for bringing it up. It’s just not relevant to OP’s work or character (since again, they did a normal thing).

              1. MK*

                Ok, but how would you know whether is was “an email to a small group of friends, there was nothing creepy or whatever”? That information might not be apparent in what sounds like gossip articles. I would guess that OP wants to proactively mention it partly so that she can explain that it was in fact an innocent mistake on her part, and not her intentionally blabbing to the paparazzi or something.

            3. Pet Jack*

              I also don’t understand since it had nothing to do with work. If it was sent from work or involved work in any way, shape, or form I get it. Or if it was about doing something illegal or stalking or something. But 12 years ago as a young person who was writing something they thought was private to friends?
              I would honestly just feel bad for them if I found out about it.

            4. Someone Else's Boss*

              It depends. Who are the friends? Someone who got that email chose to leak it, so without knowing more, perhaps the LW should have known better (and perhaps not). Who is the celebrity? Is gossip, even among friends, about her relationship with this celebrity bad form because of their working relationship? If she’s working in news and he’s newsworthy, for example, it could be seen as a conflict. I think it’s better for us to trust that the LW, and Alison, have good judgement about how potential employers would see this, than to spectulate.

            5. pope suburban*

              Also, they were in their 20s at the time- not a child, certainly, but not yet a full-fledged adult concerned with professional norms, either. I cannot imagine holding someone to account for that kind of thing years later. I remember being that age and I can well imagine feeling starstruck, and being in that exciting phase of a new fling, and wanting to share that feeling with friends. That is normal human behavior and I find it more bizarre that adults years down the line would censure that feeling than I do that someone would have it. The whole attitude is deeply, deeply irrational and I sincerely hope the LW’s industry moves past that kind of rigid and puritanical thinking.

          2. Mystery Mongoose*

            ^ This

            I’m pretty sure I know what incident this is, and I’ll leave it at that because 1) I could easily be wrong and 2) If I’m not wrong I don’t want to accidentally reveal something that makes it findable, but I agree that this issue is NOT the fling – it’s the public drama. And it’s not really OP’s fault that it went viral, but that’s never the way the reporting goes. To the internet, sending an email to a couple of friends is no different than taking out a 2 page spread in the New York Times.

            So I think acknowledging that it exists and that OP now has a much different standard for how she shares information is what’s needed.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          “I wanted to be sure this wouldn’t be an issue. If you google my name, the top hit is about a fling I had with Abraham Lincoln’s undersecretary. I was just out of school, I thought I could tell my friends and they wouldn’t repeat it, and I was wrong. I learned…”

          1. Observer*

            I wanted to be sure this wouldn’t be an issue. If you google my name, the top hit is about a fling I had with Abraham Lincoln’s undersecretary. I was just out of school, I thought I could tell my friends and they wouldn’t repeat it, and I was wrong. I learned…

            This is excellent wording. Not an apology – which is not warranted – but a warning, and clarity that the OP has learned the appropriate lessons.

            And this is why I tell people to not put anything they don’t want on the front pages of the NYT (or national newspaper of choice), your local gossip rag, or you close family newsletter into email.

            1. I Have RBF*


              Also, never assume that because an email list claims “what happens on the list stays on the list”, because as sure as you do, some douchebag will forward your email critical of an aspect of your employer directly to your employer’s HR.

          2. OP 2*

            This is exactly how I’m going to word it, thank you!! I’m still thinking through the right time, as a friend who works in HR at the same company said they purposefully don’t Google candidates to avoid bias — though of course no guarantee that the hiring manager or other team members wouldn’t do a quick Google search.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          “One of my friends leaked a private email to the press when I was in my twenties. I wanted to raise it because this role involves discretion and if you come across it on a google search without context, it appears like I was indiscreet”. At least that’s how I would put it, because I don’t think emailing your friends is indiscreet. But if OP thinks it was, and wants to acknowledge that, I’d say “When I was in my twenties I thought it was a good idea to email a friend about a private matter, and the result was a press leak that is still quite prominent when you search my name. I just want to reiterate that this is something I wouldn’t do today as I know this role involves a higher standard of discretion”.

          1. ecnaseener*

            I wouldn’t go with the “it looked like I was indiscreet” version, given that LW is applying for jobs that require discretion. Acknowledge it was a mistake you learned the hard way.

            On a personal level, sure, there’s nothing wrong with emailing your friends and it was the leaker who did something wrong. But the interviewers will want to know that LW will not take the risk of putting sensitive info in writing / trusting their friends not to leak it.

            1. Smithy*

              This is it. I also believe that this may be a situation that should the OP not get this job – worth practicing to raise with recruiters/HR or hiring managers at various points further along in their hiring processes.

              Ultimately this comes down to having an indiscretion made worse by being so visible on Google. So it can come up essentially whenever someone in HR or a hiring manager decides to Google the OP, and if they’re entirely unprepared may be inclined to have increased negative views. It may be that sharing this with a recruiter so that they’re the one to share make this easier and they can manage the “pre-vetting” (i.e. yes this happened, but I’ve pre-screened their references and they’re glowing in recent years). Or maybe it works better if the OP tells the hiring manager themselves and not the recruiter or HR. I’m not entirely sure – but I do think that in order to avoid surprise, it is worth mentioning.

          2. Dog Child*

            “One of my friends leaked a private email to the press when I was in my twenties. I wanted to raise it because this role involves discretion.”

            I really like this part^ but I wouldn’t then put it on the friend’s indiscretion. I’d borrow some of the language other people are suggesting around “I learned a valuable lesson in digital communication and discretion, which is reflected in the career I’ve built for myself in the 12 years since”

        4. Sloanicota*

          If I really believed it was likely to be an issue, I’d probably try to use it as an example in one of my responses to one of those question like “tell me about a time you learned something” or whatever. Or work it into one of my answers about why I was drawn to X or Y thing. Only if I was pretty sure it would come up though.

          1. amoeba*

            Ha, good point! Can take care of getting it out there and could actually be a really good example for a “learning opportunity” story…

        5. Erin*

          For these reasons, and that they used their personal email, and it happened a long time ago, I wouldn’t mention it at all.

          If anyone at New Company decides to go digging into the past personal lives of employees, they should be prepared to find quite a few on OnlyFans, posting “unique” things on Facebook, Instagram, Grindr, YouTube, TikTok, etc., and so much more.

          Also, since this person’s professional reputation is excellent, it’s just not worth mentioning.

      2. Random thoughts.....*

        I’ve observed that the commentariat on this board is more progressive than what takes place in my real life. People “shouldn’t have to” disclose such things, but it can be a firing offense or very inconvenient under the right circumstances. Alison explained really well why.

        I think LW’s concern is valid, you don’t always know what an employee will do with details of you that have nothing to do with your job performance.

        Here are 2 examples I can think of….

        I read that the board of directors of a large company here in the United States insisted that the Chair stop engaging in DJ activities. Apparently the guy was DJing (?) at large party and the around the same time the company wasn’t doing too well. Not sure what could be different for the company during the few hours guy was working the party.

        I also know of ministers who had to explain to their boards and church members that being a member of fitness gym does not distract them from being good servants to the flocks and the Lord. I know people who that was a perfectly reasonable expectation to have. I thought it odd, but it did happen twice in my circle.

      3. zuzu*

        If it is, wouldn’t the prospective employer already have found it? And maybe realized that OP is now 12 years older and wiser, has a good resume, and shouldn’t be held back by something they did when they were young and kinda dumb?

    1. coffee*

      I guess it’s relevant to her small industry – maybe because she wasn’t discreet?

      If that’s the case I would focus on the length of time that’s past, and the fact that it happened at the beginning of her career, and I would emphasise that I’ve learned from it.

      1. S*

        If the job requiring LW to be discreet is the concern, I feel like raising it when it wasn’t raised would make LW seem…not that discreet?

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          It’s because of you Google LW’s name there is a very prominent and public instance where they were NOT discreet. Bringing it up preemptively allows LW to control how the company views her in light of easily findable information “I made a dumb mistake in my 20s and learned the hard way how essential discretion is etc etc”

    2. Not Australian*

      Kind of depends what the person was famous for, though: it could represent a major lapse of judgement/common sense which would give an employer cause to doubt OP’s reliability – yes, even after all that time.

      1. Despachito*

        It would be weird that one-time lapse should sink your entire lifetime carreer.

        Moreover, it is highly likely that the employer googled OP2’s name and if it is all over internet, already knows.

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      Also, even if LW’s lack of discretion isn’t an issue in the job, no one wants a fling from the early 2010s to overshadow their job performance. LW wants them to focus on her resume, not her sex life.

    4. reading comprehension ftw*

      The issue is that they went viral for sending an indiscreet email about it, not for sleeping with someone. Their job requires discretion so this event calls their suitability for such work into question.

      1. Still*

        Okay, but it’s not like they’ve disclosed job secrets? They wrote a private email to their friends, that then happened to be leaked. I don’t really see how sharing details of your love life with your friends is a misstep that needs to be explained years later.

        It was leaked and it went viral because it concerned a celebrity, and sure, you could argue that it would have shown better judgement not to put anything in writing that could potentially cause a scandal… But the LW hasn’t actually done anything wrong! The person who leaked it and the tabloids are at fault, not the LW.

        It’s fine to have a fling. It’s fine to write an email to your friends about it. Especially in your twenties! That has nothing to do with how she might treat confidential information at work, years later.

        1. Kat*

          I think in a lot of places it really wouldn’t matter, but I work in a conservative industry that likes gossip where something like this would still be a thing. Given the length of time passed and number of people willing to vouch for her it wouldn’t be prohibitive, but honestly in my industry it would be an issue.

          To be clear, I don’t think it should be an issue at all and I don’t think the LW has done anything wrong. But I know of someone who is experienced and respected, but still wherever someone mentions her in a work sense it’s also mentioned that she used to be known for dating someone famous and that’s what most people think of when they hear her name (no viral letter so not the LW). Yes it’s gross.

          1. Nebula*

            Yeah, in theory this shouldn’t reflect badly on the LW, but let’s be real, there are a lot of people out there who are still going to judge them for it. I don’t really understand why some commenters are confused about why this could still be an issue for the LW.

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          Maybe the industry has a particular focus on discretion and confidentiality, and something about the email – or the spin on it at the time – made it seem like the LW was not one to entrust anything private to.

        3. Hell in a Handbasket*

          My assumption was that she met the celebrity through work — like she is a publicist or something. I think that does make it a work concern regarding discretion (especially since the firm she worked for probably got some heat for the incident).

        4. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, I am so glad that my 20s were before social media was ubiquitous.

          IMO, anything done before age 25 should be filed under “misspent youth” or “youthful indiscretion” and ignored.

        5. NaoNao*

          My guess is that the LW had restricted access to the celeb through her job/workplace and there could be an interpretation that she “took advantage” of that access (as a stylist, interviewer, PR person, whatever) to hook up *and also* talk crap/spread gossip about that celeb. That would make sense in terms of current-day employees wondering about judgement even all those years later. It’s not like she bumped into a celeb on a plane and got a hotel room a few hours later after hitting it off and then wrote a tee-hee email to a friend, although it’s not 100% clear from the letter if she had special access and used it to “get to” the celeb.

    5. kalli*

      And viral is really contextual – some people genuinely don’t know any celebrities and something could have been all over 2010s internet for sleeping with Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr at the same time and they’d have no idea, so going ‘yes, I’m the one who slept with Orli but don’t worry, I’m totally professional now’ would not seem so professional and it would be flagging the whole situation where it was a nothingburger.

      1. Phony Genius*

        Thing is, in Hollywood, employers don’t care if you slept with Orli. They do care if you told anybody else that you did, especially if the information works its way to the tabloids. In this case, it may not matter if the LW was the “sleeper” or one of the friends who forwarded the e-mail. If the employer knows that the LW was in the chain of information that led to this leak, it can be a problem. It’s the information, not the action, that is important in that industry.

        That said, if it comes up only after you’ve worked in the industry for a while, which is the case with the LW, it may not matter unless the celebrity in question is a client of the business.

    6. Jennifer Strange*

      While I agree it probably shouldn’t be an issue, I think if the LW (who knows more about their situation than we do) thinks it could present a problem it’s in their best interest to have a sense of the best course of action.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Even if not, if the LW is female there’s a whole lot of shaming that goes along with having a sex life.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        My understanding of the scenario in the letter is that the affair is not the part that makes LW potentially look bad. It’s the content of the email that went viral, which is still what comes up tops in a google search of their name, that is the problem

    7. el l*

      The key is: This shouldn’t matter…but you can’t predict what a hiring manager will do with this once they inevitably google your name. Maybe it’s absolutely nothing, and maybe it’s “How could you not have told us?” There’s just no way to know.

      I think what to do here is a YMMV proposition. I can totally see why someone would not mention it, because it shouldn’t matter. But, if it were me, I’d get in front of it, and address it in a “no big deal” tone of voice. “Hey, I have a small google problem. If and when you google me, you might get results about an incident I had in my early 20s. I don’t think there’s anything to say about it, except that I’m long moved-on from it, and obviously didn’t do anything like it again.”

  12. WhiteCircle*

    My out of office when I was at my mother’s funeral:

    I am out of the office on personal leave with no access to emails. I will be back in the office [day and date].

    Kind regards

    1. coffee*

      Personal leave is a good way to indicate that it’s not a fun reason. It would work well in my office.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I have also seen people write “bereavement leave”. It might be confusing to some people if your office doesn’t offer that specific type of leave, but it does convey that you’re not out having fun.

    2. Cataclysm*

      I wouldn’t use “personal leave” myself because it’s too ambiguous for dense people (like me) — it can be read as “taking care of something personal but not sad,” like you’ve just adopted a baby or something, so I don’t think it’s blunt enough to get across the “Please do NOT ask me about this” vibe.
      My guess from the EQ bit is one thing OP is trying to make sure they cover is my demographic of “well-meaning but dense people” and the best way for me is just picking wording clearly indicates “This is Sad.” Alison’s suggestion of saying “away for family funeral” or the commenter suggestion of “condolence leave” would both work.

  13. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (pushy recruiter) – it may be too late to take it up with the recruiter now, but I would have answered their calls and told them directly at the time: yes, the hourly rate was agreed on etc but the setup was misrepresented because of x, y and z. In future I suggest you (recruiter) present the full facts if you want a successful placement.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’m with you here. I’d still want to follow back up with them even now, and tell them why they dropped the ball on this one and they need to take responsibility rather than trying to put the responsibility on me.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      This is why I’d want to tell the company–if I don’t find out until the actual interview that it’s a temp job with only ‘possibility’ of permanent, I’m going to be angry that the recruiter misled me about the job. The job should be angry because they’re not going to get the right candidates if they’re not honest! I feel the company should know, so they can be clear that the recruiter needs to be up front, and that their first question can be “Now the recruiter should have told you this is temp to maybe perm, and X and Y are not offered, was that made clear?”.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I would agree with you, except I think OP did know before the interview about the benefits etc situation, admittedly it seems like the full setup had been ‘drip fed’ to OP. If OP went into the whole story in the interview, it’s quite likely that the company has already picked up that the recruiter was shady.

      2. Takrina*

        LW #3 here – a big part of me not having the whole picture before going into the interview was my difficulty in understanding the recruiter! They had a very strong accent and I had to request that they repeat themselves many many times to grasp what they were saying – and honestly I never got the impression that they were making any effort to be understood.

        I don’t necessarily think the recruiter was shady so much as very inexperienced, and took my declining the job personally. My guess is they were commission-based and they saw it as me taking money away from them, but that is only a guess.

  14. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    4. The way I dealt with it (Covid took too many loved ones) was this wording in out of office:

    “I am away until (date X) on urgent family business. I will not be checking emails during this time. If you need assistance please contact IT Helpdesk or (contact of deputy) if the matter needs immediate attention.
    Thank you for your consideration during this difficult time”

    The last line really helped, far fewer ‘where were you?’ questions later.

    There was a time when I was off work due to a severe road accident when I definitely didn’t want anybody commenting on it when I returned. Still in therapy for PTSD for that one. I couldn’t set my out of office to say ‘and don’t say a word’ so instead asked my manager to spread the word that I really really just wanted to never think about it again.

    (This was the boss from hell unfortunately so he….did the opposite. Bastard)

    1. alienor*

      I had a coworker once who had to terminate a wanted pregnancy late in the second trimester due to medical reasons. They had been far enough along to show for a while, so everyone knew they were pregnant. Before they came back to work, they asked a close office friend to go around and explain what had happened and to please not bring it up. To this day we have never once spoken about it, and I never heard anyone else mention it either, so it can work with the right messenger. (And I’m so sorry your boss was awful – that’s terrible.)

  15. Scottish Teapot*

    Lw#4 we simply out on all our of office messages “ I am currently out of the office until x date. If your enquiry is urgent, please contact xx”

    No reason is ever given for being out of office in any of the places I’ve worked. Simple is best on this on I think

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah the real lesson is not to jovially assume any coworker who was out of the office the other day wants to tell you about their awesome trip! They could have been out for surgery, down with stomach flu, or dealing with a sick kid.

      1. Environmental Compliance*


        Shoutout to when I was out for endometriosis surgery for 4 weeks and within about 10 minutes of me being back in the office (clearly in comfy pants, mind you, which should have been a visual indicator for the person who was *always* in Nice Pants) I had a person whoosh into my office saying things like “WOW how was your NICE VACATION bet it was NICE NOT BEING HERE FOR SOOOOO LOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG”.

        Thankfully my admin friend popped in right after that person, gave them a withering glare, and then asked me how my surgery went and recovery was going? because my response wasn’t going to be very nice given the tone that went along with the questioning.

      2. LW4*

        Oh believe me, I agree. Unfortunately, that’s just not the work culture I’m in right now and it’s not the battle I want to have while I’m trying to cope.

        But I do hear you, I really do.

        1. MissMeghan*

          Totally, LW4. I think a lot of the comments are focused on the general rule, but your experience in your office tells you that you need to do something to indicate “my leave is not for fun don’t pry”

          As an aside, if there’s anyone at work you could email to be your advocate before you get back, I’ve seen that work well in the past. It depends heavily on how your office operates I’m sure. We had a coworker dealing with a loss was very sudden. He emailed a work friend to convey the message to the office that he didn’t want to talk about it when he got back, just work talk. Everyone respected this and stuck to just business when he was back in the office.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Sure that would be ideal but OP can’t control how other people respond. They can only control their own message, and the know based on previous experience how people are likely to respond if they don’t specify that it’s not something fun.

      4. Cute As Cymraeg*

        This isn’t useful for LW, though. The fact remains that in their workplace the attitude is that leave = vacation. They cannot change this. They do not currently have the emotional capacity to even THINK about changing this. They just want to have this one time where it doesn’t happen.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I suspect if this would work in LW#4’s office, they would likely not have written in for advice. In my office, if you do not explicitly state you are not able to receive email while you are out, it’s assume you will. The less civilized will ignore this unless you make it clear you’re in no position to return their message. We are also not able to share reasons for people’s absences (unless they request it to make their absence/return easier) for confidentiality reasons.

  16. King of the Turnip Patch*

    #5. This was in the UK. I had to have SC level security clearance where they check EVERY job you ever had. For dead companies, I found out that Companies House holds all the records of those companies including their registered number and the date they ceased trading and you can get this information on-line. Is there an equivalent where you are? It was surprising just how much information was available. I didn’t get a single question during the Vetting Procedure about any of them

    1. Honestly, some people’s children!*

      I did background checks at one job where we had to be able to provide independent proof that at least the business existed if nothing else. This was about 2006/2007 so not as much on the internet. The IRS had a letter they sent that confirmed the company paid them taxes on your behalf. Confirming employment wasn’t the intended purpose but it works for that.

      1. 5*

        Did you reach out to the IRS directly for that? I was thinking of offering copies of my W2’s if it came up that they tried to verify my employment

      1. Silvercat*

        I’ve worked at several places that needed a background check. I already had a ‘cheatsheat’ with addresses, phone numbers, manager names, and exact dates worked. Now I get a copy of each background check, and keep scans of w2s (for everyone, but especially for places that have gone out of business). It makes the background checks go a lot easier.

        Otherwise I haven’t had it come up, and two or three of the businesses I worked at are gone.

  17. anononon*

    OP1, why not suggest that a separate mailing list be set up for messaging just to the main office. Aside from the obvious annoyance you’re experiencing at hearing about treats you can’t access, people in the satellite offices don’t need their inboxes cluttered up with messages from the main site that the fire alarm is going to be tested at 10am today or that the gents’ toilet on Floor 2 is closed for maintenance so please use the facility on floor 1…

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yes, this is the main issue, and it would be nice if OP’s boss went to bat over it. I’m sure OP isn’t the only one whose day is briefly darkened by word that everyone* else in the company is getting free doughnuts right now. There was similar letter about someone whose NYC office got summer hours, and the advice given was just to accept it, IIRC. My petty side wants the boss of the satellite office to buy doughnuts for “everybody” and then send an all-staff email about it, to show that while it may seem minor when it’s not happening to you, it is in fact a bummer – but, as the minority office that would presumably be shut down immediately.

      *OK not everybody if there are multiple satellite offices, but whatever, it’s going to feel like everybody.

      1. rollyex*

        And it’s not just about treats. If there’s a problem with a printer in one place. Or a smoke condition requiring evacuation. Or many other things that are location-specific.

        It looks lazy to not have this attention to detail at least set up in mailing lists.

      1. Rocky*

        Yes, fhqwhgads, I get so frustrated when people jump to the comments section when they haven’t even read the whole column (let alone the same advice from other earlier commenters).

  18. JSPA*

    Hard disagree on #2. Nobody ought to be made to think about your sex life (past, present or future) in a work context, unless it’s to deal with something illegal.

    I’d suggest carrying yourself with such professionality that their response to finding out about the email isn’t to ask you, but to think, “hunh, I guess there are two Penelope Warblesworths. Maybe a second cousin.”

    I can see why you would feel obliged to disclose closer to the time of the event itself, and before you had a work history, and the maturity to pull off the right “can’t believe you’d ask me that” attitude, if it does come up.

    But honestly, do you think you’ll still be disclosing this when you’re fifty or sixty years old? If not… why not stop disclosing now?

    1. Rachel*

      There is a difference between not disclosing something and outright lying about it.

      I am ambivalent about if the LW should disclose this or get out in front of it.

      I am positive the LW shouldn’t lie if asked a direct question about it.

    2. Paris Rhino*

      The problem isn’t their sex life, it’s their discretion. LW can address the indiscretion with minimal reference to sex.

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

      I would NOT lie. That will just backfire. Especially if there is photo evidence of the OP with the celebrity.
      It sounds like it is a small industry and many people she works with already know so it’s more likely someone will say something at some point.

    4. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Sure, nobody ought to, but that’s not reality. The concern is that if anyone in the hiring process Googles the LW, they *will* see the results and then they will be thinking about it. The LW wants to get ahead of that.

      And you are frankly not considering how this felt for them – they went through a shitstorm of public humiliation 12 years ago. Imagine if your private thoughts and sex life were shared with the entire internet. That leaves a mark. They are gaming out worst case scenarios and how to deal with them because they’ve been through it already.

  19. Hiring Mgr*

    I don’t see what’s wrong with writing an email to your friends about hooking up with a celebrity in the first place.

    1. kalli*

      There isn’t. The issue is the publicity, and any impact from sleeping with a celebrity if that celebrity was a client or stakeholder.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, to me this has to be a *super* conservative industry for this to be any more than, “LOL, that was you? I remember reading that at the time! Anyway, is the safeguarding impact assessment ready?” Sure, there’s maybe a bit of embarrassment there, but it shouldn’t be something that is impacting your working life twelve years later.

      And whilst it’s possible that LW is a straight man, this kind of stuff *overwhelmingly* punishes women and queer people more than straight men. I hope you find it’s a non-issue, LW!

    3. Generic Name*

      I know. I’m kind of baffled why it would pose a problem in this person’s career. And it sounds like it hasn’t. I mean maybe they can say, “you’ll probably notice when you google me all the articles about Celebrity X. All I can say is I was young and dumb.” But then that will make the person immediately run off to google.

      1. Pink Candyfloss*

        If they are client-facing and/or in an industry where discretion and information security are important, writing an email with deeply personal information about a third party that was hackable or leakable and could harm that 3rd party’s reputation, speaks to their judgment. A client or company who values their own privacy who discovers a serious lapse like this in an employee’s past might question their discretion and judgment, and not without cause. That’s why you get out in front of it early so you have a script in place for reassurances.

        1. JSPA*

          One’s own sex life isn’t “about a third party.”
          Unless her job was “s3x work,” there is no “client discretion” issue. Being famous does not give you some sort of right to demand secrecy from one sex partners.

          And if you are famous and don’t want some rando to know about the script for your next role, or your tour dates, or your planned move to a new team, put your paperwork away before you bring randos into your space.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Legally it doesn’t, but morally it’s quite OK to think that eg. Russell Brand publicly boasting about having sex with Andrew Sach’s granddaughter was gross. If LW’s situation was more on the “explicit details about Celebrity’s birthmark and sexual preferences” side than the “excited email to a few close friends about lovely new person” side, it’s legit for people to find that questionable. It doesn’t mean it’s actionable, but being a celebrity doesn’t mean that it’s absurd or unrealistic to expect any privacy.

          2. Despachito*

            One’s own sex life isn’t “about a third party.Being famous does not give you some sort of right to demand secrecy from one sex partners.”

            Yes it is, and yes, it does.

            It is always very poor taste to reveal details from your (consensual) sex life because it involves your partner and that partner probably did not agree to that.

            And if the information was explicit and unkind to the celebrity, there may be mean girl vibes making the person who reads it question whether OP is indeed a mean girl (and therefore possibly difficult to work with).

            Personally, I would not mention it, for the following reasons:
            – it happened in OP’s private life
            – it was not OK but it is not like she embezzled money or killed someone
            – it is very likely someone in the company already googled it and knows
            – it is up to the company, not OP, to do their due diligence. If directly asked, OP should not lie (and definitely use this as an example of how she knows better now), but she absolutely does not owe them this information
            – if they find out themselves and don’t want to hire her over it, tough luck. But if she proactively tells them and they decide not to hire her because of that, she would tank her chances for no reason
            – if it transpires later, OP would already have had an oportunity to show the company she is an excellent worker, and would have more standing to say “I learned my lesson and I am a different person now”.

            Also please let us bear in mind that not everyone gives the thing the same importance, and while OP is still ruminating over it more than a decade later, a different person may have chalked it down to youth and inexperience, learned their lesson and not think about it anymore (and therefore would not even consider mentioning it at the interview because it would not be important to them)

      2. Lily Rowan*

        That’s why it’s helpful that there’s a recruiter in this case — that person should be able to advise without making it a Thing at the new company.

    4. WellRed*

      I found it odd, too! I certainly can’t imagine having to explain what lessons I’ve learned from it in a job interview. Unless OP was bonking the celeb in the copy room.

    5. RabbitRabbit*

      My wild guess would be that the celebrity was encountered at or through work somehow, or that the publicity around it made it seem like that was the case. In that case, the LW’s discretion or professionalism could be questioned.

      1. JSPA*

        If anything, the issue points in the other direction, in terms of power diffetential. People with fame and power should not be banking employees of the companies they’ve hired.

        I mean it sounds like the letter writer was happy enough to hook up, even in retrospect. But that’s not a given, y’know?

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      The issue is that in some professions, consistent, careful discretion about interactions with other people is necessary (medical practice, investigative journalism, intelligence, etc.) and a known instance of telling other people about a private occurrence that a third party expected to remain private may not go over well. It’s not about the fling or the email, it’s about how the email may connect to needs of the industry LW works in.

    7. Eff Walsingham*

      This idea has been interesting to me in the comments, because, although I’m an Old and went to uni in the 1990s, my father was an internet pioneer. He taught us that the internet is for sharing, that online privacy is an illusion, and to regard email as a billboard and act accordingly.

      So, when my friends and I wanted to dish (or complain) about anyone who we were, ahem, dating, we never used names or specific identifying details in emails. They all had one or more nicknames, like Friday Guy or Buffalo Bill (whose name was Mike) or Tom (as in Selleck, due to his mustache), etc. It was all about plausible deniability in those days, unless we moved on to Serious Dating, where names were used (“Mike is coming to meet my parents on the 18th!”). But, when it came to s@x stuff, we were like spies… only cryptic mentions made it into typing. “The highlights” would be passed on verbally.

      IMO, the LW wasn’t *wrong*, but she WAS indiscreet. And I would say the same for a man in the same, er, position. I’d be concerned about a lack of awareness of how private becomes public, unless I had some context to spell out what they had learned from the experience.

      If it helps to show where I’m coming from, my education is peripheral to the entertainment industry. The theory was that anyone you knew *might* become famous. Old photos in the main hall of alumni who experienced Hollywood success, sort of thing. In some industries, this stuff can follow people around for a ridiculous length of time. Professional jealousy is rife, and some people are very ready to believe that someone’s ongoing business success is due to who they slept with. “After all, it cannot possibly be because they are more talented than I!”

    8. fhqwhgads*

      It’s less about the having the affair, and the writing of the email, and more about the face that is blew up publicly. The question is basically “I was involved in a very public scandal that comes up if you google me, what do I do?” The details of the scandal itself don’t matter as much to the advice for this one.

    9. ARROWED!*

      To me, it depends on what they said. One time friend A went on a date with friend B and then laughed while telling me that friend B was a terrible kisser. I’ve never felt the same about friend A since, because it just seemed so mean. If I ever run into friend A again, I will have to remind myself that it was high school and we all did dumb and even mean things that we wouldn’t do again.

    10. Fingers crossed*

      I think it depends on context. When I read this, I immediately thought of a similar situation that was in the news many years ago, and the email in that scenario was both hilarious and well-written, but also incredibly detailed with very memorable information. So if LW had something like that, instead of just “OMG I hooked up with so-and-so!” I could see it raising eyebrows. It shouldn’t, but some things just land in an incredibly visceral way. Regardless, I hope LW does fine! Sounds like they have had a good career so far, I’m guessing this will be okay.

  20. I should really pick a name*

    Problems dont get resolved unless you tell people what the problem is.

    Why did you reply all with a snarky remark instead of replying to whoever sent the email saying “please restrict these emails to the main office”?

    When you were contacted over Teams, did you take that as an opportunity to explain what your issue was?

    1. 653-CXK*

      I think OP#1’s frustration about their satellite office not getting the same treats (or treatment) as the main office was the driver for the snarky reply.

      A separate email to the business manager, rather than OP#1’s snarky reply, would have clarified the situation. “Hi, I know you sent a ‘come and get it’ to coffee and bagels, but we’re at the satellite office. Is this email firm wide, or is it just for the main office?” This would have alerted the business manager to say, “It’s for everyone! We’ll send someone over with your share!” or “It’s for the main office, but if you’re at the satellite office, come on over – there’s plenty of coffee and bagels.”

      I’m not sure if OP#1 was able to explain their situation, because the business manager was focused on scolding them for the reply-all – which could have been handled better with a separate email.

      1. J*

        I managed a satellite office and while my coworkers could always hit up the main office on snack emails, I could not. One day, they had a snow day apology (“sorry, we probably should have had a late start! we’ve ordered pizzas for all!”) and one of my attorneys sent an email similar to yours (where it was a “what time should the folks at x start keeping a lookout since the driver might not be able to access our building lot due to all the snow here?” kind of feigned concern) and suddenly they decided we should indeed purchase our own pizzas. In the future, that attorney gave me full permission that if I saw one of the emails from the main office for snacks, I should order something similar for our small office. I didn’t have that kind of power to push back (or at least, my past emails had failed to encourage any such action) but he was really craving pizza that day and became my best advocate.

        Definitely start with a clarifying one-on-one email but then look for allies. They might be hungry too.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Unfortunately, in my experience, OP would be seen as being petty or hung up on small details by HR (as opposed to embarrassing a senior staff person, who is apparently not supposed to let small things go). Being too fixated on “small perks” is frequently seen as a bad look / immature / whatever. Although apparently the food was a big deal enough to email everyone to, hmm?

      1. House On The Rock*

        Yes, this is my experience too. Food is such a weird thing in offices – it was especially bad when I worked in Corporate CubeLand. There higher-ups would make a huge deal about how generous they were when bestowing free food (in lieu of decent pay and benefits), and yet worker bees were seen as petty or overly fixated when they complained about any aspect of said food (the remote office situation, not honoring dietary restrictions, etc.).

    3. Phony Genius*

      At the point that the LW was on a Teams call was already too late for the issue to be taken seriously, as management was more angry about the reply-all.

      Ideally, the LW would have spoken with the manager of the satellite location, who would likely have been the best person to bring it to the attention of the home office personnel. That manager would best frame it as a situation that is affecting morale at the satellite office, and make the suggestion for site-specific mailing lists.

  21. cabbagepants*

    #1 When has a reply-all of “this email doesn’t apply to me” ever solved anything? LOL.

    I’m in a satellite office of 15 people and get emails about “mandatory” in-person group events for the central office 2000 miles away. I frame it as a bit embarrassing for the admin sending them that they don’t appreciate how the group is structured and/or how list-serves work. You could do them the kindness of pointing out that they’re using the wrong list of email recipients, or, you could let it go as a minor administrative error.

    I do agree that it would make sense to get a separate snack budget. I do feel the pain of being left out of that kind of fringe benefit.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I feel like replying to all-staff email with “this doesn’t apply to me” is just demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of what all staff emails are: a blunt tool that apply to whoever they apply to, everyone else is expected to ignore it. Admittedly I work at a large school, so like 90 per cent of my emails have zilch to do with me. Plus one of the “treats” was in response to some broken facilities at Main Location; it just looks like poor reading comprehension to not know why that offer wouldn’t apply to a satellite location. I think in OP’s case it’s even worse; they aren’t merely misunderstanding, they’re making a passive aggressive dig. That’s going to come over terribly, even in response to morale thoughtlessness, especially after OP had such an instant and shocked correction in the first instance. I also don’t think OP is really spelling out the true cause of their dissatisfaction. like Robert Barone said of his experience with domestic rows “It’s never really about the can opener”. It’s not really about the treats, or the all staff emails. It’s that OP never wanted to work at the satellite office in the first place. OP you need to be much plainer and level in your requests and find out what the answers are re working at the satellite office, and if there’s a budget for similar perks there.

  22. cabbagepants*

    I think it depends. Many of the perks listed by Coin Purse can be done cheaply for the company at scale through preferred vendor agreements etc, but they could have a pretty high marginal cost for a small office. For example, on-site gym has a much lower cost per employee served if the site has 5000 employees than 10.

    3/4 of my positions have been at satellite offices so I’m not trying to downplay how much it stinks for the people at the satellite office, but it doesn’t have to be not caring or whatever.

  23. Monkey Princess*

    I can definitely see why #2 was a big deal at the time, and may have raised eyebrows about judgment then… but 12 years later if they even connect you (people have the same name!) I think a “I’m certainly not proud of everything I did in my 20s, but I will say the whole situation was quite the experience. Now, about those reports…” should shut things down with Grace. And if they don’t, a confused look and a “that was over a decade ago, and reported in celebrity tabloids that I certainly gone don’t hold much credence around here, why is this coming up now?” will hopefully do the trick, if said with the correct level of disdain.

  24. LawBee*

    #1 they’re being jerks but it’s very common with satellite offices. They’re not going to change so you have to find a way to deal with it, unfortunately.

    I set up a rule (many rules) in my Outlook to send all emails with “cake” “birthday” and “treat” straight to a folder I named Cheerleading, mark as read. I never see them in my inbox and it’s never bounced back on me. I get that main offices get perks simply because they do, but I don’t need to read it.

    1. Polaris*

      Noting that I need to do this for our “Wellness” blasts.

      I replay the Maintenance Phase episode about “Workplace Wellness”, cackle, nod, and laugh some more pretty frequently around here.

  25. WellRed*

    I ocassionally get annoyed by the head office in another state emails about on-site perks like the gym or the bar cart ( but it’s always tied to a larger thing, not just “coffeee and bagels cause it’s Tuesday!). I’d love to email this anonymously but I love not going into the office so I remind myself of that. OP, I laughed at your email, though!

  26. K*

    I replied-all to one of the emails about the partners ordering coffee and bagels for “everyone” because one of the sinks in one break room had a leak so that half of the office couldn’t make its own coffee. (The other break room in that office still had coffee just fine.) All I said in response to the email that “coffee and bagels are here, enjoy!” was, “Ours hasn’t arrived yet.””


  27. Pink Candyfloss*

    LW#3 the recruiter possibly doesn’t get paid if you don’t get hired, so they would naturally want to try to troubleshoot and find out why you didn’t take the role after they spent extra time negotiating on your behalf. That’s lost time for them now. What they did doesn’t sound unusual or unprofessional to me (a longtime hiring manager with HR experience).

    1. Czhorat*

      Yeah, I feel for recruiters. It seems like a really thankless and tough job. My understanding is that they get a percentage of your salary if you sign on and stay for a year.

      That the candidate didn’t understand that this was a no-benefits temp position is a big issue, and was likely one in which there was a miscommunication (I’m guessing the recruiter assumed it was apparent and didn’t make it clear).

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      But they didn’t do that. They could have said something like, “I’m disappointed to hear that this isn’t going to work for you. Could we set up a call to talk about what made you change your mind?” What they did was scold and harass the LW and try to force them to talk about it.

      Firing off an email “You said this worked for you! How dare you?” and immediately 3 calls in 45 seconds<–extremely unprofessional and off-putting.

      1. Takrina*

        LW #3 here. There was indeed miscommunication and possible misunderstanding involved, as the recruiter was from a different culture and very difficult to understand – to the point that I had to request they repeat themselves several times (which unfortunately did not help much except that I was able to pick out one or two more words each time, and extrapolate meaning from there). My question was mainly ‘should I tell the interviewer their recruiter is terribly unprofessional?’.

        1. blood orange*

          Takrina – If you were still inclined to reach out to the company, I think if I were in their shoes I’d personally appreciate it. They presumably know who is working for them, so they may have an inkling, but in case they don’t I know that I’d appreciate the feedback. When you’re trying to fill positions with talented people, and anything is creating friction in that process, you typically want to mitigate that.

  28. JTP*

    RE: #3, sounds like a typical temp agency recruiter. I wouldn’t report it because it’s just how they work. And they hid that it’s “temp-to-perm” because it’s often a dealbreaker for people coming from full-time, regular employment, since the “perm” often never materializes.

    1. I Have RBF*

      See, if I applied to a position via a recruiter and they pitched it like it was perm and it turned out to be “contract” or “temp to perm”, I would chew out the recruiter for lying to me.

      Seriously, perm with benefits is a major, major difference to temp without benefits. The difference is easily $25,000 a year, between medical, dental, retirement savings and PTO. If you pitch a job as permanent with benefits but the employer says it’s temp to perm, I will be very salty about the deception, and the rate won’t be right to make up the difference.

      1. JTP*

        Oh, I get very salty about it, too. But it’s happened a few times, so now when a recruiter messages me about a job, and doesn’t mention if it’s full-time or “temp-to-perm” (or even just a straight up temporary contract), I ask first, even though I know that if I have to ask, it’s NEVER full-time.

  29. Catwhisperer*

    LW1, I can understand being upset about disparate treatment between offices, but you’re so angry about it that I’m wondering if there’s something bigger going on with your job that’s contributing to your frustration here. Asking because I’ve definitely been there and the solution is to address the bigger stuff, up to and including moving to a different company if the issues persist.

    LW3, if you have an office culture where people are a bit nosy in response to vague OOOs but also don’t want to get too into detail, you can set yours up to say “I’m out for a family emergency from X date to X date.” Calling it a family emergency should be specific enough to keep all but the least emotionally intelligent people out of your hair but vague enough that you maintain privacy and avoid having to deal with the inevitable “so sorry for your loss” conversations with coworkers that aren’t helpful at all.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Agreed on LW1 – the little things tend to get under your skin more when there are bigger problems. Sometimes you don’t even realize it’s happening, but other people will notice your outsized reactions.

  30. Gemstones*

    The five-dollar cake thing doesn’t seem so bad to me. I mean, if it’s just a cake for one person b/c it’s in the satellite office, I think it’s fair…you probably can’t expect a big one. Plus some cake is better than no cake!

    1. Dahlia*

      I’m not american and we don’t have kroger so this is a serious question.

      Can you actually buy a cake for 5 dollars? Because I can’t even buy like the cheapest frozen cake for that price. Or a 6 pack of cupcakes. Or… I could buy a single SLICE of cake, I think?

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Grocery stores (like kroger) sometimes have what is essentially a slightly-larger-than-a-cupcake sized cake – but it doesn’t look like a cupcake, it looks like a very small cake – for $5-$6. You could also buy a slice. Or a cupcake. But yeah, it’s kind of a thing.

        1. Dahlia*

          It doesn’t sound like OP works in the satellite office alone, though. So they’re going to buy a cake so small that everyone gets a single bite while other office all get a nice slice?

          That seems, uh. Not thoughtful.

  31. Ask A Manatee*

    LW1 Gentle reminder: When or if you follow Allison’s advice, don’t do it via reply all.

  32. Count von Cupcake*

    sad but true cynical take on #1 for management is that you can get away with murder on the important stuff like pay if you handle little things like treats well.

    The number of times I have seen people accept below-market wages and benefits because their office “treats them well“ with cake and coffee and snacks is shocking. And those same people will go absolutely ballistic when they detect inequities with the cake and coffee.

    not implying that this is the case with LW; just a general observation on the snacks thing. smh

  33. BL*

    The treats thing is annoying for sure.

    Replying to all with a reply that you knew was meant to be sarcastic wasn’t a good look.

    I’d just be really frank – ask for a small monthly budget for snacks, be prepared to hear no, decide if it’s worth the capital to push.

    Our main office has a cafeteria, free snacks, a gym and a convenience store in it. It’s a perk of being placed there but I sure wouldn’t want to sit in that office for all the perks in the world.

  34. Queen Ruby*

    LW4, is there a coworker who can kind of “run interference” for you while you’re out, and when you get back to work? I was actually out for a few vacation days when I had a death in the family (my fiancee’s father). My company didn’t allow us to work from home, so I had no way to update my OOO message to say I’d be out another week. My boss and my bestie-coworker told a select few people, so the people who had to know I wasn’t coming back when expected knew why. One was a VP that I worked closely with (think mfg and QA), and while she was generally a very difficult person to work with, she let clients know why I was out and took on as much of our mutual work as she could. I was so grateful because it meant I didn’t have to acknowledge why I was out so long, and she kept the work moving. When I got back to work, most clients and coworkers either said nothing, or said something along the lines of “glad to have you back!”, and a few I worked more closely with offered condolences. And that was it, no conversations beyond that. I think all around it was handled perfectly, from a professional standpoint.

  35. HonorBox*

    LW1 – In my mind, it is perfectly acceptable to be frustrated by the mention of perks you’re not getting. I wouldn’t advocate blowing things up just to access the same perks, but it would be worth saying something for sure. This is different than someone who is WFH missing a company-wide lunch or donuts. You’re in a satellite office, not in your home. Presumably you still have to get dressed, commute, not switch your laundry between calls, etc. The main office needs to be cognizant of the fact that your assigned location is of their doing, and contemplate how to even out the perks they’re offering at the main location. Alison’s suggestion of a small budget for the satellite offices is great. That way you can do the same types of birthday celebrations, random donut days, etc. as the main office, but on a smaller scale. It is tone deaf to not provide the same sorts of benefits company-wide when the only difference is location, especially when the locations are as close as yours are. Is this THE hill to die on? No. But if people are assigned to the satellite location, they should see the same sort of benefits others get. Also, in your conversation about the budget, it would be worth pointing out that going forward, it isn’t helpful to have satellite employees hearing about what the main office is getting.

  36. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: I disagree that you’re making too big of a deal about it. You sent one ill advised email that wasn’t a rant but an observation that should have made reasonable go “oh, whoops, we should rethink this.” I hardly take that as being a big deal. I am just as annoyed as you just reading this – accounting’s proposal was more insulting IMO than if they just pretended they forgot it was your birthday and said nothing.

    I don’t know the political dynamics of law firms first hand (I’ve only had public sector legal employment), but presumably either your satellite office or the firm as a whole has someone you can set up a meeting with – maybe an office manager or administrator, maybe a partner, maybe an executive assistant – and let them know your opinion. You don’t have to “make a big deal” about it, but you can ask – “I work at the satellite office and was wondering what we could do to receive the same perks as those in the main office when it comes to lunches and birthday celebrations. I don’t feel it’s equitable currently and I’m curious about whether we can approach things differently. Particularly since we receive all of the emails from the main office about all the fun perks they’re receiving, it’s a bit of a morale hit to see how differently we’re treated over here.” And see what they say.

    This is only if you have someone you can ask who is not going to be a jerk about it and retaliate against you for raising it. But at a minimum, it might get them to reconsider whether to send these emails out to everyone who can’t benefit from them. And it certainly would help as well if you’re not the only one who feels this way and is willing to say so.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Sorry final thought on this – if you are noticing that there is a demographic distinction between the offices, that is something important to raise as well. If the main office is mostly white men and the satellite offices have significantly more women, people of color, etc. then I’d bring that up too. Especially if people are being assigned to those offices rather than choosing them and especially especially if people underrepresented in your office and/or the field are being sent there BECAUSE it’s less desirable.

    2. Colette*

      I disagree.

      First of all, what was the point of sending the email to everyone on the distribution list? It was a clear attempt to make the entire organization know she’s upset, not an attempt to solve the problem.

      Secondly, they offered to pay for a cake; she was then offended that she’d have to expense it, and that the limit wasn’t high enough.

      At this point, her best option is to let it go entirely, or decide she can’t live with the inequity and find a new job. She doesn’t work at the head office, and she’s not going to get identical perks.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Again, I did say ill-advised. We can disagree about whether it was a big deal or not (I still do not think it was), but please don’t assume I thought her email was appropriate when I clearly and directly stated that it wasn’t. There are degrees of “not okay” and on the scale of them, this was not a big deal IMO and was slightly amusing. Had she gone on to air her grievances about the disparate treatment between the offices, then I’d agree with those saying it was a Big Deal.

        Also, have you had a birthday recently and tried to buy a cake? You’d be lucky to get a single piece or a damn cupcake for $5. The offer was a joke. I had a birthday last month and I paid like $45 for a normal sized apple pie that could serve 7-8 people. She was right to be offended. I’m offended right along with her.

        I also don’t think that identical perks has to be a solution, which is why my comment did not say she should bring up anything about the things that are dropped off by external parties. Suggesting that people who do not work for the firm should also bring gift baskets or whatever to all of the satellite offices does not make sense. That being said, the firm can and should do better than this. I disagree that she has to let it go or get a new job. Get a new job – really? Now who’s making it a big deal ;)

        1. Colette*

          You seem to be replying to stuff I didn’t say. But the fact is, she’s already made a very pointed statement about the perks, and continuing to bring it up will hurt her – so yes, if she can’t live with what she’s getting her choices are to torpedo her own reputation and career or move somewhere where this doesn’t happen (including possibly the home office.)

        2. ARROWED!*

          I know this is not your main point but where on earth do you live that you paid $45 for a normal size pie?? And Kroger does sell a small cake for $5. It would serve 8 smallish servings. I tried it once and found it dry and disappointing, but it does exist.

    3. doreen*

      I disagree about “not making a big deal of it” . If the OP sent a differently worded reply ( a request not to send these emails to the all-staff list or to provide the same perks to the satellite office ) only to the person who sent the email, I would agree that they weren’t making a big deal out of it. But that’s not what happened – they replied all with a snarky reply that makes it appear that the “reply all” was intentional.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        So you think the email would have been okay as written if it was just sent to the partner? Because I actually don’t. I don’t think what she did was the best way to handle it, I just don’t understand why people think it’s such a Big Deal. If I was on her team or was on the receiving end of that email from the main office, I would have forgotten about it by the next day.

        1. BL*

          It was a big deal because it was an unprofessional way to handle the situation and made her look immature (I am not saying she is those things, but that the perception is there). It was enough of a big deal that she got called out on it.

        2. doreen*

          No, I said a differently worded reply only to the person who sent the original email wouldn’t be making a big deal of it. And sure, if I just received the original email and the reply I might have forgotten about it by the next day. But I’ll bet the original sender didn’t forget that quickly if accounting called the P and said they had $5 to buy cake for their birthday.

    4. Czhorat*

      I get your point, but in the tone of the letter here the OP seems pretty worked up about the situation. It’s the kind of thing that I wouldn’t want to spend political capital on in whatever workplace I’m at, and if it isn’t worth fighting then you probably need to just come to peace with it.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I don’t read that much into the tone of the letter. It didn’t seem overly dramatic or upset to me, just reasonably annoyed by something that is reasonably annoying. But I do agree that she should decide whether it’s worth spending political capital on, which is why I said what I did about making sure it wouldn’t have negative repercussions if she brought it up to the appropriate person. I don’t think it’s something to fight over, but to bring up once and see what the temperature is on the situation. If it’s a non-starter and the firm doesn’t care that it’s negatively impacting employee morale, then that’s good for LW to know so they can make their peace with it for sure.

        1. HonorBox*

          Yeah, I also didn’t read that the LW was overly dramatic. I read it as “this is something that is consistently happening and it is irritating to people who aren’t assigned to the main office.” The reply-all also didn’t sound overly dramatic. Maybe ill-advised, but certainly not egregious. I think because it impacts employee morale, someone outta know more about it. And maybe the reply-all was an entry point for the LW to use for following up and pointing out disparities.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            I don’t think it was overly dramatic, but not getting snack delivery but still being on the email seems like a mild annoyance. Plus, at this point LW was told not to do this by her manager so probably best to chalk it up to one of those things at work that makes it work.

          2. Colette*

            I think a reply-all is, by itself, dramatic, particularly when it’s pretty clear it was intentional. If I got an email like that the best thing I might think is “OP is sloppy about how she uses email” – but I’d most likely find it annoying and passive aggressive, even if I agreed the satellite office should get perks. (Even if I was in the satellite office!)

            But once she sent the reply-all, she can’t use it as an entry point to point out disparities. She could have calmly pointed out the disparities before she sent the reply all, but she burned that bridge. It wouldn’t take much for her reputation to be “the one who is always whining about bagels” and not about her work.

            1. Usernames are overrated*

              Yup – you don’t want to be remembered for sending a snotty passive aggressive email because you didn’t get a bagel.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, I think Alison’s comment was not just about the reply-all email but that + plus the amount of resentment coming through the letter.

        I also disagree that offering to reimburse you for a slice of cake on your birthday is more insulting that not acknowledging your birthday at all. Personally I’d be thrilled to take them up on that and would definitely appreciate it.

        (But I would also absolutely be annoyed by the other emails and suggest they have a Main Office Only distribution list or send treats to the satellite offices more often.)

  37. ThatPerson*

    For LW5: Every single company I’ve worked for in the past has closed (over a nearly 30-year career). Partially this is because I’m a software person, so a few of them were dot-com-boom startups, in one case the woman who owned the company died, etc.

    I actually mention it in interviews, because I was the last person out the door in pretty much all of them, and it’s a “I’m loyal / I don’t hop between jobs” ancedote. No one has ever mentioned that it was a problem.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      This is interesting to me, as I’ve moved on from a few jobs quite quickly rather than “go down with the ship” when things weren’t looking good. I mention this in interviews (where relevant / if asked about) as a positive: I anticipated how the situation was evolving so took action to course correct early rather than wait around for something to change that was out of my control. I wonder if a loyalty narrative is “better”. I suppose employers might think I’ll be off at the first sign of problems but this should only be a concern if they have a guilty conscience about the company’s stability.

  38. LucyGoosy*

    LW 2 – This is more common than you may think and there are firms that specialize in helping with this kind of thing. In essence, they just recommend having a VERY active professional social media presence and starting a professional blog (or two) so that all of the positive things you want to have employers see end up always ranking first on Google. I’ve also heard that Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is good and touches on some of this as well. Good luck!

  39. Justme, The OG*

    LW#4, a few years ago I was out on bereavement leave for my grandma’s funeral. My supervisor at that time approved the bereavement leave. When I got back she asked me how my vacation was. People will always be stupid or forgetful or callous. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

  40. Lily Potter*

    LW1, my suspicion is that you’re more irritated about being moved to the satellite office than you are about the snack situation. Try to focus instead on any “perks” you might have in your new, alternative space. For example, I once worked in the “big office” and had a 7-10 minute walk from my car, through a vast parking lot, through the office complex, and to my desk. Multiply by twice a day, x4 if I left for lunch, sometimes in bad weather and quite often in the dark. My satellite office coworkers could be from their desk to their car in 90 seconds. I’m sure there’s something you get in the satellite office that people in the big office would envy? Focus on that, and not on the snacks. Sending out a snarky reply to the entire company about coffee and bagels is not a good professional move.

  41. schmally o'mally*

    I have the same problem as LW5. It is easily addressed at the interview stage, however it is a nightmare when filling out online forms with mandatory fields for address and phone number. Even the supervisor information is unavailable to me at this point: the three companies I worked for that are no longer were from 1990-1999.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Generally speaking, jobs from that long ago aren’t even supposed to be on your resume unless it was a single job you were at for decades. Is there a specific reason why you’re including them?

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        The reference is to online forms with mandatory fields, not a resume. Some online applications ask you to list *all* the jobs in your work history, not just the most recent ones you deem to be relevant. These are the same crazy forms that ask you to list where you went to high school eventhough you have a 35 year work history.

        1. schmally o'mally*

          ^^^ This. (Aye, Top o’ the Mornin’, McFadden!)

          Think positions that require an extensive background check. In addition, after 2000, I switched to a different career path, but in 2015 I moved to an area with high unemployment, so I needed to promote ALL MY SKILLS. I love my current job, and I firmly believe that it helped to be able to frame that I had X years of experience overall in a career that began before 1990.

        2. I Have RBF*

          The reference is to online forms with mandatory fields, not a resume. Some online applications ask you to list *all* the jobs in your work history, not just the most recent ones you deem to be relevant. These are the same crazy forms that ask you to list where you went to high school even though you have a 35 year work history.

          I will nope out of stuff like that so fast it would make your head spin.

          I have something like two different careers, plus interim temps at random places. I don’t even remember all the places I’ve worked, or the agencies I’ve worked through, over the last 43 years.

          IMO, that type of thing being demanded by an ATS is just them fishing for a way to discriminate against you for being “too old”. The first job I had at 18 has no bearing on what I do now.

          I sometimes get irrationally angry at being asked for the name and phone number of past supervisors for every job I have had! Most times the company no longer exists, or at the very least I know that the supervisor has moved on. (I know that at least one prior manager from my 30s is now deceased.)

          To me, many ATS systems are too grabby/greedy for data that has no bearing on my current skills. If you try to “validate” my work history by trying to call all of my old managers, you will end up with lots of wrong numbers or “no longer at this company”, if the company itself still exists.

          I keep about 10 to 15 years of experience on my resume, and there probably will always be at least one company that no longer exists on it. That’s life in tech.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            It’s high time for laws to regulate what ATSs can and can’t ask for.

            Some states (though not Canadian provinces) have already banned asking for salary history. The same idea behind these bans can be extended to banning ATSs from asking for many other pieces of information in the initial application, such as:

            -Social Security/SIN number
            -Mailing address
            -Graduation date
            -References/managers’ names
            -Companies’ addresses/phone numbers
            -Salary history or expectations

            As well, forcing applicants to divulge every single job they’ve ever held (!), especially if they also require start and end dates for every job, should be illegal; as you say, this forces people to reveal their approximate age and will give data that can be used to discriminate on the basis of being too old.

            A lot of advice centers on withholding certain pieces of information, such as “drop your graduation date if you’re over 40” or “you’re an out of area candidate, so drop your address, they don’t need it”. But this advice crumbles: the ATS requires that data. It’s time to ban ATSs from asking for such information!

          2. Anon in Canada*

            Forgot to mention ATSs asking what your mother tongue is, or whether you are a Canadian/US citizen, or permanent resident, or work permit holder. This is already wildly illegal to ask, but existing laws around this aren’t being enforced. They need to be enforced!

              1. Anon in Canada*

                In Canada, the question in the initial application must be phrased as “are you legally eligible to work in Canada?” They may not ask how so (unless a law requires holders of a particular position to be Canadian citizens, but such jobs are extremely rare). Only upon making an offer are they allowed to know more about this (e.g. ask to see your work permit). Asking about mother tongue is 100% illegal at any point of the hiring process, yet one big company in my field asks for that.

                I think it’s the same in the US.

          3. schmally o'RBA (for Attitude)*

            I hope you recognize the luxury you have, then. I live in the middle of nowhere, and good, well-paying jobs are scarce. We are a one-income household due to health/mental health issues.

            It took me seven years, restarting at the bottom of the pay scale in 2016, to make it to the position I currently have today. That, despite more than 28 years of experience in three different fields (news media, nonprofit, and state government).

            The other day, there was an NBC Today Show story about Amazon’s new robotic system, Sequoia, in Houston, with all of its technology and innovation. The reporter wrapped up the segment stating that the labor that used to be doing those jobs, well, “They may now need to brush up on engineering skills or different kinds of critical thinking,” as Amazon’s goal is to get rid of “the mundane.”

            You can watch it here: https://www.today.com/video/see-inside-amazon-s-innovation-lab-testing-new-technology-195868741923

            As if it were that easy. And I’m privileged in the first place.

        3. J*

          Those online form ones are so bad. My husband was hired on at an employer he’d been contracting at for 5 years. When they couldn’t reach the employers he listed in that long job history, he had to provide tax documents proving he worked for them. If he wasn’t already working there as a contractor, I think he would have found another job to apply to with all the hurdles they put up for a company he’d worked for over 18 months, 6 years earlier, than had been twice acquired, but somehow they had to speak to the specific manager he had supervise him.

  42. Dragonfly7*

    I came to the comments to mention this, too. I use the original address for those systems but try to use an obviously made up phone number if the system allows it, and add “- closed” to the company name if there isn’t a job responsibilities box where I can mention it. Small town cafe, a business affected by the Great Recession, and a video rental chain. Only one typically makes sense to include on resumes anymore, but there are some systems that want all the jobs back to X date.

  43. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

    It’s astounding to me the number of adults who get really upset about their birthdays not being mentioned or celebrated in the office, missing out on birthday cake, not getting to choose the kind of cake they get, upset if it’s the wrong kind of cake…and actually feel justified in writing in about it…it’s like we’re back in grade school again and one of the kids starts crying because their cupcake was smaller than everyone else’s. There are so many more important issues in life to stress about and that people are having to deal with, it feels like a whining juvenile gaping lack of perspective.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      This is pretty unfair and unkind to OP.

      OP isn’t upset they’re not getting celebrated. They are upset that some people are and others aren’t.

      Even if they were upset that they personally were forgotten that’s valid. People are allowed to feel differently about things than you would – that doesnt make them childish.

    2. NYNY*

      I really do not agree. If you want to celebrate one employee’s important date, you celebrate all. Simple etiquette.

    3. Parakeet*

      People who are stressing about or dealing with Big Issues still get upset about small things. Indeed, sometimes it gives the small things an extra bite. I know this from having been the person dealing with Big Issues, and from having had a job and volunteer experience directly working with people dealing with Big Issues.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I just think “huh, if getting the wrong kind of cake is the worst thing that’s happened to them they are doing pretty well, they will get a wake up call when something of actual significance happens to them sooner or later”… there are people who seem to react to all occurrences with the same level of intensity though which I’ve never really been able to understand. Someone saying waaaah about birthday cake or whatever will certainly contribute to my impression of them as childish (and you can be pretty sure it won’t be an isolated event – petty people gonna be petty).

    5. JustaTech*

      OK, a couple of things:
      1) you’re allowed to feel your feelings, it’s how you act on those feelings that matter. So yes, I do feel hurt that I didn’t get a birthday card at work, even though the e-card system makes it super easy to send them out. But all I’m going to *do* about it is try to remember to tell my boss that yes, I would like a card next year.
      2)Sometimes these kinds of things are early warning flags of bigger and more systemic issues that need to be addressed.
      3) It is my experience that when people are super stressed abut things they can’t change they will take disproportionate action on smaller things they think they can control/address. It’s not super rational but it is very human. The whole “straw that broke the camel’s back” thing.

  44. Moo*

    LW#4 – I recently took a medical leave from work because of a later-term pregnancy loss. I hadn’t disclosed to folks I work with outside my organization that I was pregnant, so since no one knew why I’d be out and why I didn’t have a return date, I just put that I was on medical leave, and to contact xyz@email in my absence.

    One thing I will note, though, is that I was surprised by the number of people who responded with, “I hope you’re ok!” or some variant. It’s disingenuous to respond with “Yes I’m OK,” because I’m not, but I also don’t want to get into why I was out or any personal info. I’ve found the best thing to say is, “I’m doing better, thank you” and move the conversation on.

    1. LJ*

      I might be one of those “I hope you’re doing ok” people. Because well, I do hope you’re doing ok. Is there better language that folks would recommend?

      1. Moo*

        Sorry, I didn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate the comment! It’s definitely a generic well-wishing response and I did appreciate the folks who asked. I just meant for my own (and OP’s) response, possibly feeling bad about saying “Oh I’m great, thanks” or not wanting to talk about it at all or something that felt equally wrong but still wanting to convey that I’m functional and ready to work.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        Maybe “Sorry to hear that.” I wouldn’t say “I hope you’re doing ok” because if they’re out on medical leave, they are clearly…not doing ok.

        Also I think we’re all socially obligated to claim we’re ok when we are actually not, so you’re putting it on the person to fake being okay when they aren’t.

        (This brought to you by my hatred of “I hope that you are doing well,” because I’m not sick, but I’m not well either…and I’m not permitted to say so.)

  45. CommanderBanana*

    I feel like it shouldn’t be that hard to set up office-specific distribution lists for things like letting people know there’s cake on Floor 4 or whatever.

      1. Two Fish*

        Agreed. In a different vein, Past Employer upgraded its online conference room reservation system to (1) automatically account for time zone differences, and (2) allow people to set up multi-office conferences themselves. For the latter, the participants had to decide which office would be the meeting organizer.

        That didn’t stop a London admin asking the San Francisco receptionist to set up a videoconference between their boss and a SF boss, at 10 am London time. Or the admins involved in a Washington DC/New York/Chicago VC from booking three individual conference rooms. Then the CR dept or the VC dept had to figure out that those three rooms were for the same meeting.

        DIY and coordination weren’t among Past Employer’s strong points.

  46. Office Lobster DJ*

    I sympathize with LW1 in the satellite office, but in my opinion, it’s best to let this rest for now. After the reply-all debacle and getting what sounds like a grudging five dollars to expense a cake, I’d let the dust settle for a bit before you get the reputation of being weirdly hung up on what is seen as a small issue. In a few months, I like the idea of proposing each satellite gets their own treat budget.

    I am not a big fan of LW suggesting they set up a main-office-only mailing list specifically tied to free food announcements, as I can unfortunately picture that being met with eyerolls.

    One final thought – since the satellite is only ten minutes away, could the main office just be expecting that you would pop over if you really wanted to take part?

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > the reply-all debacle and getting what sounds like a grudging five dollars to expense a cake

      I always think the best way to deal with petty and passive aggressive behaviour is to take it at face value and not indulge any sulking etc. It seems that the $5 cake-offerer also takes this approach. I bet there are other issues underlying it (as other comments have said) and it isn’t really even just about the cakes, but by making it about cakes and sending this email it’s allowed the passive-aggression-disarmer to take the wind out of its sails by offering a cake based alternative…

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        That’s interesting. When I read the letter, I was picturing they gave LW permission to get reimbursed five dollars to buy a whole cake for multiple members of satellite staff. It seems impossible to me to get a full size cake for that price, so I interpreted it as grudging or petty on the part of the firm.

        After your comment, I wonder if the exchange was more intended that LW could go get a treat (single slice of cake, for which $5 would make more sense?) for themself, which seems straightforward and reasonable.

        Or maybe my sense of cake prices is just skewed!

        Totally agree that it sounds like there’s more going on than just the treats.

  47. Cyndi*

    LW1 this happened to me at a previous job except my satellite office was ACROSS THE STREET from the main office. But most people in my department were contracted through staffing agencies, not directly employed by the company, so we got nothing. We couldn’t use the cafeteria in the main building even on normal days, we couldn’t access career advancement events that perms could, we didn’t have work email addresses so if managers had announcements, or if you wanted to ask anyone anything, you had to track them down in person. We didn’t even get to pet the stress relief puppies when they brought in stress relief puppies (though they very generously showed us photos afterwards). I think they’ve been moved into the main building since I left, but I don’t know if the other privileges got evened out. It was both very silly and very demoralizing.

  48. Misshapen Pupfish*

    On a lighter note, my company is based in country A and I’m in the only branch in country B, but we get plenty of treats and little parties. Still, our social media is controlled by the main branch, who posts about special employee events they had, and I love to annoy my manager by asking where our pizza/ice cream/corn is. (Yes, they had a whole corn party.)

  49. Aggretsuko*

    This makes me wonder about our Slack notifications about free food in the breakroom. We’re a hybrid office, so some folks per day are around for those and some are not.
    I just kinda shrug on my home days and go, “hey, I’m working in my sleepwear, I’ve got my own benefits here,” though.

  50. Adam807*

    I need a needlepoint or something that says “it doesn’t warrant getting this bothered by it” to hang up in my office.

  51. jellied brains*

    For LW 5, What’s the advice when those aggravating online applications require you to put the address/phone #/manager’s third child’s birthday?

    1. I Have RBF*

      I will do one of three things:
      1. Nope out of the online application because it’s too much work to dig up ancient trivia
      2. Fill the items in with placeholders or “Not Available” and “123-456-7890” for the phone number (or even “800-000-0000”)
      3. For referrals, ask the referring party how they want the nosy trivia handled.

      Several of the companies on my resume have had extensive turnover, have been bought, changed their name (multiple times), have moved, or have closed. I’m not going to spend umpteen hours tracking down a supervisor from ten years ago through three different jobs to get their current number for an ATS form. If the company insists on it being “mandatory”, I consider that to be a red flag.

  52. 2hrcommuter*

    I took a job with a temp agency with a similar offer, “temporary with the possibility of going permanent” only it wasn’t. Somehow the company who hired the temp agency learned that was the lure, the VP came to our cubicle farm and made an announcement: there never was an offer of temp to perm.

    1. Random Biter*

      Happened to me. Even after I told the temp agency I was absolutely not interested in anything that wasn’t temp-to-hire. When the 6 month “you’re hired” date rolled around guess who wasn’t hire. When I sent a WTF email to the temp agency I was promptly ghosted.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Happened to me, then the boss at the company I was placed at was shocked when I found a different job after they started jacking me around with one month contract renewals only a week before my end date. I don’t like having to worry if I would have a job next month every damned month, FFS.

    2. I Have RBF*

      That kind of lie is a deal breaker to me.

      If I interview at a company that I was told was looking for a “temp to perm” person, and the company told me that perm was never planned to happen? I would either a) nope out, or b) if I got the job, would still keep looking (and inform the hiring company that I was.) Either way, that’s the last time I would work with the lying recruiter/agency.

  53. Just Thinkin' Here*

    Lw1 – I have to disagree with alot of what has been recommended in the comments. If you are in the same city as the main office then you should be treated the same. The company goes out of their way to provide benefits for their employees – and you and your colleagues aren’t included. Are you being provided for in other ways? If you can’t enjoy the cafeteria, they should offer you a meal delivery once a week. Or if they have a gym and your satellite office doesn’t, they should be offering a gym membership or discount. In the end, you are not getting the same benefits as your co-workers – just because of location.

    I’m laughing at the commenters who stated you were petty about the email – nope. You stood up for yourself and pointed out the issue. What you should have said to the business manager that called was ‘who is in charge of ensuring the satellite office is taken care of? Because they aren’t doing their job. Should I call managing director X?’. Normally at satellite offices there is a site manager – if not the firm needs to appoint one and give them a budget. And $5 for a cake for 3 birthdays? You can’t buy a SLICE of cake at a grocery store for that price, nevermind 3 people. This was a complete insult.

    1. Colette*

      The fact is that things that are affordable for 1000 people aren’t affordable for 10. It’s not reasonable to expect employers to spend $50 for people at head office but $500 for those at the satellite office. (And it’s possible the op is entitled to a gym membership, for example, but doesn’t use it because it’s not convenient to go to head office to do so.) Pursuing this – regardless of how unfair she thinks it is – will harm her, possibly to the point of losing her job and certainly to the point of harming her reputation.

    2. Tiger Snake*

      What strikes me about #1 is that this doesn’t seem to be something that’s being budgeted or paid for by work in any capacity. Certain people are paying out of pocket.

      And while its certainly fair LW1 feel left out – that reply-all response still feels entitled when someone else is the one paying.
      To use a similar example that’s come up here before, it gives the same feeling of “that was entitled” as when someone complains that your candy bowl – the one that you personally stock out of your own money and no one else is contributing to – is empty when they come by your desk just to take the candy rather than actually talk to you.

      That’s why a different approach to address the issue needs to occur, not this option.

  54. Just Me*

    I’d be inclined for the out of office to just say “unexpectedly out of office with limited availability” as the lack of detail implies that it is not up for discussion, and the unexpected part suggests something negative came up (people plan vacations/weddings/graduations/etc, they do not generally schedule deaths/hospitalization/illness in advance).

  55. LW4*

    Hello, LW4 here! I read post and all the comments and I thank everyone for their kind words about the loss of my family member. I also appreciate the points raised about whether and how to word the out of office message. I was not sure if disclosing that I’m out for a funeral would be oversharing and make people uncomfortable, so I really, really appreciate the confirmation from Alison that it is not. I ultimately ended up using the “bereavement leave” language from the comments as that’s accurate – I am taking that specific leave and the funeral is technically not on a work day, so it just feels right to me.

    I said this above as well, but I do appreciate the comments about the normalization of not putting a reason in the out of office message. I do agree with you all, but again, I’m just not in a position to change the culture in an organization of about 900 or so people. I’ve had multiple surgeries this year and pretty quickly learned that a blanket “I’m out, reach out to this person in my absence” without a reason makes people assume it’s a vacation and ask questions when I get back that I’m just not going to be able to handle this time without breaking down and crying. I will however keep this feedback in mind for future OOO messages that are lower stakes (i.e., actual vacations!).

  56. Goody*

    Potential alternative wording for #4:

    “I am on bereavement leave until X and will be unable to access email or voicemail. In my absence, all matters should be directed to Joe.”

  57. Raida*

    1. I don’t want to hear about all the snacks our main office gets

    Okay, so tell your manager.
    Tell them that it’s not difficult to create distribution lists for floors or buildings, tell them that being told about all the nice stuff half the business can’t get is sh*tty, tell them that being told your birthday is worth five bucks but you’ll be repaid in a month is not a fun r thoughtful birthday gift.

    Ask them if there’s been discussion about a small budget for this stuff at the satellite offices?
    Is there one budget but it’s all managed at head office and not shared?
    Could we at least have a monthly birthday cake that’s not paid for by staff?

    but write it all out.
    then save it and leave it.
    read it again the next day – you’ll sound crazy unreasonable.
    rewrite it.
    save it and leave it.
    the next day read it again and see if it’s covering the specific points, tone, questions and feedback you want it to.
    If so, use it as a script to talk with your manager.

  58. Raida*

    3. Should I report an obnoxiously pushy recruiter to the person who interviewed me?

    Hah, I wouldn’t report it to the company looking for someone for the position.

    BUT I would find the recruiter’s agency and let them know that this is an unprofessional response to a reasonable rejection of a role.

    Because the Client doesn’t hire the recruiter usually, they hire the agency.

  59. Teapot Wrangler*

    LW4 – We would usually phrase as

    I am out of the office on compassionate leave until DATE

    Would that work?

  60. Fluffy Fish*

    Oh OP1 – you are coming across as a know-it-all because you are acting like one.

    Repeat – you are acting like one.

    It is absolutely not your colleagues are perceiving you as one because of some kind of insecurity that they didnt go to college. College is great but it doesn’t make you an expert on the working world. You are also simultaneously coming across as a poor team player.

    And if you think oh it’s not that big of a deal – several years ago we hired someone who thought their tangentially related previous experience and their recent degree made him an expert. He bristled when told anything. Guess what happened? He got fired.

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