our disruptively cheerful new coworker treats us like toddlers

I’m off today, so here’s an older post from the archives. This was originally published in 2018.

A reader writes:

I work for a company that has grown quickly in a couple of years. We have an informal reporting/management structure, no HR, etc. The boss is the owner, who works about 20 hours a day and doesn’t have time for minor issues. We all have a lot of work, but the atmosphere is relaxed and collegial. We have nice chats in the kitchen over a tea break, and we go for occasional lunches out together, but we don’t have (or want) a social committee.

My problem is a new hire. She has an early childcare background and hasn’t grasped that she no longer works with toddlers. In her first week, she brought in a mountain of snacks and greeting cards, and tried to get everyone to spend their lunch hour writing cards to people we’re grateful for. Most people thanked her but declined. She buys treats for the office most days and then walks around and tells everyone to go have a snack. She makes sure she says good morning to every single person, disrupting workflow in the open concept office. She is trying to organize an “office photo” so we all have a picture of ourselves as a group, despite no one agreeing with her that we should do this. She sends emails to the entire group to remind us to talk like a pirate, eat pancakes, etc. on various “national days of.” She leaves dollar store items like mini clipboards and stickers on our desks as “treats” for hard work. Yesterday she emailed me to ask me what my favourite color was.

I came in this morning to discover she’d left smiley face stress balls on everyone’s desks along with a sheet explaining it’s World Smile Day, telling us to smile, and trying to organize an “emoji war” between different areas of the office, where we all try to come up with the most creative smiley emojis. No one has accepted this challenge.

None of this is bad behaviour on its own, and my colleague is genuinely very nice. I don’t think she’s worked in an office before, and I get that it’s different from a classroom. But all the little “kindnesses” are disruptive, irritating, and presumptuous (I don’t appreciate being instructed to eat pie, to smile, to send gratitude cards, etc.). She’s only been here three weeks, with no signs of organically picking up on what the office culture is. She doesn’t have a traditional manager who could speak to her, and she isn’t on any of the projects I work on. Because this is so personality-based, I don’t know how to approach it without it seeming mean and personal.

Any advice on either how to approach the situation in a way that’s not hurtful or else how to reframe my own mindset so I’m less irritated by her daily cheer would be appreciated!

I also received this addendum to the letter:

An update to the World Smile Day part of the story. Later today, my overly cheery colleague came back from having gone out to a printing house with a pile of cardboard face masks of different smiling celebrities (the queen, Lady Gaga, Denzel Washington, Justin Bieber, among others) and urged everyone to choose a mask for someone else and then all pose for fun photos. We were near the end of having an office lunch for an important visitor. Most people declined to participate, either citing the need to go back to work or that we were chatting with colleagues and didn’t wish to participate. Only four of the youngest employees grabbed masks and posed for photos. The owner wasn’t around, so I didn’t see if he had a reaction to this.

Oh man. It’s awfully gutsy to lean so hard into cruise-directing your office in your first three weeks on the job. Typically people come in with at least some amount of reserve, knowing that they need to figure out the culture of their new office and adapt to it, rather than going full speed ahead on trying to revamp that culture to their own style. From day one! It’s almost impressive.

But yeah, she does seem to be treating you like you’re her new class of first graders. Is there any chance you could get her to organize nap time?

Normally in a situation like this, I’d suggest that you have a discreet word with her manager. But you said she doesn’t really have a traditional manager, so that’s out.

Is there someone else who would be the next-best choice — like a powerful/respected admin, or the person who orients new hires, or the most senior person in your office other than the owner, or anyone else who has some standing to take her aside and kindly let her know to rein it in? Think creatively here. It could even just be the person who trained her — anyone who has some amount of standing to say “this isn’t really how we do things here,” even if you have to kind of squint to see their standing.

If there’s no one like that — or if the obvious choices all decline to do it — it’s something you could do yourself. It’ll be awkward, maybe very awkward, but it would be a real favor to her if you were willing to. (It will also be a favor to the rest of your coworkers, clearly.)

Because the thing is, she’s oblivious to how this is being received and presumably might make different choices if she understood that. It’s a little odd that she hasn’t picked up on that from people’s lack of enthusiasm, but she hasn’t … and meanwhile she’s building a reputation for herself as a well-intentioned but annoying kindergarten teacher. People aren’t going to take her seriously, they may start to avoid talking with her, and her reputation is going to get very weird. None of that is good for her.

If you’re willing to take it on, you could take her out to coffee, ask about how she’s adjusting to the new job, and then say something like, “Can I share something with you that might help you get settled in here? We’re a pretty low-key group; most of us want to focus on our work for the most part. We of course chat during the day and have warm relationships with each other, but this isn’t a group that’s going to go in for things like writing gratitude cards as a group or pirate day or group photos or so forth. I didn’t want you to feel hurt that people aren’t taking you up on those things and not understand why — it’s just not the culture here.”

If you frame it that way — as wanting her to understand the culture so that she’s not hurt or baffled by the lack of response she’s getting, as opposed to just “you are doing this all wrong” — it might help her save face.

If she seems receptive, you could also say something like, “I know it must be a weird transition going from being in a classroom to being in an office, but I would lay off stuff like stickers or encouraging people to have snacks. I think it will come across to people as more like classroom stuff than office stuff.”

This might be embarrassing for her, but I don’t think there’s any way to address it that won’t be. And I’d rather she have one embarrassing conversation than spend months babying her coworkers in ways that are consistently annoying, disruptive, and unwelcome.

If you do this, I think there’s an 80% chance that she’ll receive the message and change her behavior. But there’s a 20% chance that she’ll double down — that she’ll decide the rest of you are sticks in the mud who need her to bring cheer into your lives, and the day after this talk you will come into work to discover that she’s set up pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and a sand table for you to all play in.

If that happens … well, you tried. At that point, you’d be justified in responding more bluntly to her efforts — for example, “this isn’t a good time for masks; we have a client here” and “sorry, I’m working and need to focus on this” and responding to her emails about National Pecan Day with “can you take me off your list for these emails?” and so forth.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. mango chiffon*

    I cannot imagine spending that much of my personal time or money (how much is this costing that coworker!!) on things like this, and it was just three weeks in?

    1. Exhausted Electricity*

      yeah like I keep discount seasonal candy on my desk but that’s genuinely because I dont want to eat a whole bag of halloween candy for myself.
      I love my coworkers but not enough to spend my own money on stuff!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I do buy candy to share at work, and bring in baked goods maybe 1-2x a month – but not because anyone is making me! I just like to bake and then I share it because I don’t need two dozen cookies at home.

        I do agree that this woman was A Bit Much. But as usual, there seem to be some people in this commentariat who want to interact with their coworkers as little as possible.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*


          Many years ago, I started a new job the day before my birthday. I decided not to bring anything in, because I wasn’t sure about the company culture around that sort of thing. (Turns out, they were all in on potlucks, etc., but I didn’t know that at the time and decided to err on the side of caution.)

          I have already promised a coworker pumpkin bars this week. (Keep EAs happy, folks!)

        2. Celeste*

          It sounds like the LW does like interacting with coworkers, and I’m sure candy and occasional baked goods would be very nice. It’s Crazy Hat Day and all the spirit week activities that are the issue.

    2. Snow Globe*

      If she was a public school teacher, she was used to spending her own money for the job. :(

      1. darsynia*

        I kind of really really hoped that some of this was leftover supplies? But it doesn’t sound like it, if she went to pick up masks on a break :(

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        And she was probably making a lot more money at this job and probably felt a little bit rich.

      3. Sally O’Malley*

        Came here to say the exact same thing. Teachers, particularly elementary, are very used to paying for such items out of their own pockets.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      As a fellow teacher, I can only assume she was going through the crafts/stationery section of the pound shop, and was compelled by force of habit to spend her own money on clipboards and stickers etc. Today I had to beg for reading overlays so my students can, y’know read. I’m considering ordering the lot myself. As I was reading this, my main response was the lack of gratitude shown for free masks, stressballs, stickers and clipboards (yes, I’m kidding).

      1. Wisdom Weaver*

        Is the “pound shop” the British equivalent of the American “dollar store”?

        If so, and you’re in Britain, it’s a bit sad to know that British teachers too must spend a lot of their own money on classroom supplies. (One American school principal even told their underpaid teachers that it “looked better to the community” for teachers to buy such supplies out of their own salaries!) And people wonder why more students aren’t lining up to go into K-12 education!

        1. Sharpie*

          It is, there are several chains of them… and my cousin is a primary school teacher (um, elementary school equivalent, I think?) and I’ve never heard that he’s had to buy stuff out of his own pocket – but I am not a teacher and don’t know how typical or otherwise that is.

          1. Ozzac*

            Italians too. Till university/college is common for teachers and parents to buy everything with their money, even toilet paper. And the new prime minister has declared another round of cuts for public schools and healthcare.

            1. Selena81*

              In the Netherlands teachers start at €2700/month and make €4700 after 15 years. While other people with a BSc only make €2500 and €3200

              1. Ellis Bell*

                They are referring to teachers paying for classroom supplies, and building supplies because the schools themselves are not well funded; they are not referring to the teacher’s salary (which in most countries always sounds like a good salary on first hearing but usually less impressive when you start teaching, and realize that the hours expected are all the spare time you have during term time, and most of the holidays too. However this is from a UK perspective: we lose 50 per cent of trainee teachers to other professions in the first five years; the Netherlands has a teacher retention problem, but it’s nowhere near that bad, it more like a loss of 15 to 20 per cent of teachers.

    4. Liz*

      This has “works for entertainment not bills” written all over it. Guessing high earning spouse.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I don’t think so. I suspect it’s a lot more to do with what other comments have cited, the fact that teachers have had to buy their own supplies for so long they’re a) used to it and b) probably awash in stickers. I personally have most of a pack of almost 5000 stickers that I suspect will last me a lifetime now that I’m not teaching (and I taught adult community education, not even in schools).

        1. somehow*

          But she is in an office work environment now without children present; it’s a whole new job. Where is the “have to” in buying/bringing in stickers to her new workplace? What difference does it make in this context that as a teacher she spent her own money on teaching and learning supplies? Yes, it’s beyond egregious to have to do that, but the point is, she’s no longer in that same environment, so what is the relevance to her office context ?

          1. Ellis Bell*

            You’re underestimating the power of indoctrination. The idea that gets pushed from day one on to student teachers is that if you want in, you’d better have a vocation, and a selfless attitude that you’re working for joy and inner reward, not filthy lucre.

          2. Fiona Orange*

            If you read the follow-up to the letter, it’s clear that she was so used to working in a certain environment that it hadn’t occurred to her that she was out of touch in her new job until someone came right out and explained it to her.

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            Because habits you build in one job often carry over to the next. Just because your environment has changed doesn’t mean your mindset has.

    5. Butterfly Counter*

      Yes, I was thinking about the cost. Maybe it’s not so bad if you only have a dozen coworkers and you’re used to spending on 30+ kids. But still. I like my coworkers, but I’m not even going to spring for the $5 bag of candy to share. They have jobs and can buy their own candy.

    6. Just Another Cog*

      I hated being gifted with junk like the OP’s co-worker was bringing in. Often, I’d quietly slip it into the trash. Such a waste. Glad the group was full of AAM readers and were able to set the new employee straight. They sound like a kind group of people since the new hire was still working there in the update. They didn’t shun her like a lot of office mates would.

      1. Selena81*

        I hate these gag gifts: someone made that, someone shipped that, just to maybe crack a smile on someone’s face for a few seconds, and then it gets thrown out again.

        And what’s worse: I don’t think children want an avalanche of cheap plastic junk either, but they probably feel pressured to say ‘thank you, this makes me happy’ to their teacher.

        Joining you in being happy that it did get worked out: the employee got corrected, toned it down to a more reasonable level, and they all lived happily after.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I know! The last time I brought something to work it was leftover seltzer waters I didn’t like. (They vanished quickly, so somebody did!) I certainly appreciate when people bake and bring in stuff, and when management puts out Halloween candy, but I don’t expect to have to play Duck Duck Goose for treats.

      1. Rebecca*

        I bring the random fruit snacks and granola bars my kids want to try and don’t like. I don’t want to waste them, so I put them out for anyone that might eat them. I brought green apple fruit roll ups recently, and apparently everyone loves those. Except my kids.

  2. Lacey*

    I love that AAM helped resolve this, but wow.

    I can’t imagine going in and just deciding to organize all that stuff! Even if it had seemed the type of place to want it!

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I kind of can. There’s often a moment in teacher training programs (and definitely in Inspiring Teacher Movies) where it’s hinted that you might want to avoid senior teachers / the staff room because they are cynical, cranky stick-in-the muds and you, young enthusiastic teacher, should not let that stop you from Fraulein Maria-ing into class with old drapes, stickers, and boundless enthusiasm.
      The truth is, senior teachers can be burned out and cranky, but we also know that there’s no point in doing all these thing if your kids don’t respond to it/get anything out of it.

  3. Lilac*

    I’m glad that there’s a positive update to this and the coworker took the feedback well! But wow, yikes. I worked in childcare for the better part of a decade and never met anyone like this. (With the kids, maybe! But not with coworkers!)

  4. Ask a Manager* Post author

    My favorite comment when this was originally published was from someone who suggested, “Try being overtly, aggressively grown-up. Start talking about tax reform and sciatica.”

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Oh, I can complain about my sciatica at length, and how if I sit down on the floor, I can’t get up again without help. And my up-close vision is going. And my grays are now officially “stubborn.”

      1. WillowSunstar*

        I have a permanently pinched nerve in my back from slipping on ice that I could talk about for ages if need be. :)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Meet all my joints, co-worker! Here’s Creaky Hips, Stiff Back, Aching Knees, and Getting In On The Act Shoulders!

    2. Lilac*

      They should make up new holidays like “International Focus On Your Work Day” or “Leaving Your Coworkers Alone Awareness Month.”

      1. UncleFrank*

        My husband isn’t really a joiner, but he would be very involved to lobby for a “Leave Your Coworkers Alone Awareness Month”!!

      2. kanopeas*

        National Mind Your Own Business Day – May 28
        World Introvert Day – Jan 2
        And we just missed: National Leave Me Alone Day – Oct 4

        1. Lilac*

          Aw man, I missed being born on World Introvert Day by one day. I guess I can use that day to retreat into my introvert cave in preparation for birthday festivities on the 3rd.

  5. desk platypus*

    In my current office I feel like most of my department is in this brand of what a friend recently called “aggressive party culture” after describing it to others. I’m the odd one out who goes along because it feels like you either participate or you’re the office grouch. We have maybe 3 “events” a month that’s cake, potlucks, or the social leader declaring that we MUST celebrate something like National Chocolate Cake Day. My manager loves it so if she’s told it’s something like National Taco Day she’ll run out and get us tacos. I stopped counting how many of these we had this year but it’s definitely in the 20s, I’m sure.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I need to find out what I’m putting in my Halloween “boo-gram”, our Halloween secret Santa type event that I was signed up for when I was on vacation.

    1. soontoberetired*

      in a few short days, one section of my floor will be full of halloween stuff, including cobwebs. Lots and lots of fake cobwebs. Sigh.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Wow, signing people up for activities while they are out of office is Very Much Not Cool in my book. I am sorry. (But also curious what a Halloween secret Santa type event looks like.)

      1. desk platypus*

        Technically, the email I only skimmed over said “we’re doing a boo-gram thing”, explained it, and I immediately thought “nope not doing” and went on to read more pressing emails. It wasn’t until I got my bag today I reread the email. It said if you wanted to opt out then you’d have to cross your name off the list by end of the same day. I had just assumed it was a sign up basis since that’s what normal people do. So now I’m obligated to do the next boogram or break the chain, but trust me I am definitely reading my emails more carefully now.

        1. Just me*

          Making this an opt-out activity rather than an opt-in one — and then burying that fact in the body of an email, and making the opt-out deadline be the same day — is absolutely wild. I’ve worked in an office that was all about snacks and decorations and potlucks, and even there, it was always opt-in.

          Is this the first time your workplace is using an opt-out model? I wonder how many people will cancel or flake.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Is it like, sending a terrible Halloween joke to the next person on the email list?

          Why are skeletons so calm?

          Nothing gets under their skin.

      2. desk platypus*

        There’s a list of all the people in the building (since this one’s company wide, not just the department.) You pick a name, cross them off the list, then secretly give them a bag of “Halloween favors” that isn’t defined beyond that. My little bag came with fun size candy and tiny little Halloween figurines. When you leave the bag you also tape a sign that says “You’ve been boo-ed” with a cartoon ghost to let others know. They also leave a little rule notice saying “after getting a boo-gram you have 2 days to pass it on to someone who hasn’t been booed.”

        It would be cute if I had volunteered and with coworkers I get along with better.

        1. Ex-prof*

          The only one of these events I’ve ever liked is when a student group on campus decided to give all the professors surprise baskets of office supplies.
          I am a fiend for office supplies.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      Be simple minded, black licorice jelly beans. (and being the weird one, I’d consider you a friend for our shared work life)

      I agree with you, I’d hide if my work place was like that.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Three times a month??? I mean, I’m not going to turn down the boss buying lunch, but this sounds like “everybody gets to spend a fair chunk of their food budget on crock pot delights for the office.”

      1. desk platypus*

        It’s so weird because the biggest advocates for making food to bring in aren’t paid that well. I’m on a higher pay scale so I feel like it’d be super stingy of me not to pitch in on stuff.

        On another note, shortly after making my post, I found out boss is buying us lunch tomorrow for a coworker’s birthday. Which is fine, okay, but… we had a birthday potluck for this person last week??? Usually it’s a potluck breakfast or lunch, followed by afternoon cake and other desserts. So now we might be heading towards three work day events per person.

        1. Ashley*

          Nope no way. This culture would make me crazy!

          What about people with special diets or food allergies? I am on a “special diet”, I track my calories very closely. I rarely eat out because it’s so hard to estimate restaurant calories and even the “healthy items” on the menu usually blow up my calorie budget for the day because I have to assume they’re higher calorie than I expect. I have fitness goals, and really struggle in situations where food is provided for work… Do I set back my personal goals and eat the food I don’t really want, or do I act like a weirdo and not eat/bring my own food???

          1. somehow*

            If it helps, I really doubt anyone is paying attention to whether or what you’re eating. Just be yourself and either don’t eat at all, or, bring your own food. Even if people do notice, they will think either you’re not hungry or that you made a lunch already and simply don’t want to waste it, and those thoughts will last a nano-second. I don’t think it’s anything to agonize over.

        2. AnonORama*

          And I’m guessing that you can’t “skip” celebrating your birthday there either. I hate birthdays — I don’t like aging, I don’t like attention, and I try not to eat sugar, so they’re kind of anti-fun for me — and it took many tries to get my birthday erased from our events calendars, internal newsletters, etc. No one was resisting, particularly — it just didn’t happen because they weren’t thinking about it — but I could imagine that this workplace would double down. Bleh!

  6. Alex Rider*

    So this is one of my favorite letters. I am not sure exactly why. I’m sure she drove the people that work to we nuts, but this letter always makes me smile.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I started out thinking that this was definitely priceless and hilarious entertainment and I would definitely give her at least one “Arrr… matey” to encourage more ‘speak like a pirate’ emails. But when OP got to the part were the colleague was humiliating herself in front of a meeting with a client I could see why they were looking to wrap up activity hour.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        For me, it was the fact that she has been there three weeks that made me go “uh-oh.” Because a lot of it did sort of sound somewhat endearing, if a bit irritating, but…all of that in three weeks? That would definitely get old very fast.

  7. TootsNYC*

    I confess to being the person who occasionally notes things like Indigenous Peoples’ Day, or National Punctuation Day.

    I used to bring in treats on National Grammar Day, complete with labels about the parts of speech. Once I created a Mad Libs word game to email to everyone.
    But….I work in publishing.

    And my Indigenous Peoples’ Day post on Slack was about our wording guidance regarding various Indigenous peoples.

    All the general “smile!” stuff would have me exasperated too.

    1. chippies*

      okay but Indigenous Peoples Day is entirely different from complete fantasy days like Talk Like a Pirate… not in the same realm At All as the person in the letter. I love the mad libs email though, that’s cute and I hope your colleagues appreciated it, I would have!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think this is fine. You practice a light touch, not a heavy hand.

      I work somewhere that I think strikes a balance well. And nobody is ever required to take part.

  8. Cake or Death*

    “In her first week, she brought in a mountain of snacks and greeting cards, and tried to get everyone to spend their lunch hour writing cards to people we’re grateful for.

    I still cannot get over the fact that someone would think this was ok to ask of adult coworkers during their FIRST WEEK on the job. lol!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      That is Valentine’s Day First Grade Party turned up to eleven. I’m not against gratitude, but I don’t want forced giving or receiving of cards about it–so awkward!

    2. whingedrinking*

      Yeah, that one was wild to me, because…sending emails, even frequent ones, about “Happy Rainbows and Puppies Day!” or giving people silly gifts or whatever might be grating, but at least it’s not trying to make other people do something.

    3. Hannah Lee*

      I can’t imagine presuming that I get to tell my co-workers what to do on their lunch hours. Especially not in the first week on the job.

      And forcing “fun” and “activities” on other adults? That’s another line I wouldn’t cross.

      This situation made me think of a situation at Old Job, where a new hire was cheerful (fine) prone to breaking into ditties or sing song rhymes and bringing in snacks. At one point she’d been particularly exuberant all week, bringing baskets of muffins, wearing seasonal themed clothing and IIRC skipping. In a project team meeting she proposed color coding the work papers… like work for a particular phase should be done with blue ink, handouts should be on pale blue paper etc

      One co-worker who was usually pretty easy going but also quiet and serious piped up …

      “Miranda, your enthusiasm is great, so please take what I’m about to say in the spirit that’s intended:

      “Norm, dammit!”

      Everyone including Miranda burst into laughter
      And though she remained delightfully quirky, she did dial it back a bit from then on.

  9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    My workplace had one year where, after several years of mismanagement, everybody snapped and gave detailed and honest answers on the annual employee satisfaction survey. I mean, people were not holding back at all. One of the things our leadership did to address the low numbers and the complaints was create an engagement committee and put one of the bubbliest employees in charge. We didn’t get as many events as the OP’s office, but still got enough for it to feel exhausting. Merch was printed. Motivational posters were put up in conspicuous places like the bathrooms, breakrooms, hallways and such, and replaced with new versions every few weeks. Events and contests were planned. We all went bowling after work once! I’m having a hard time remembering all of it as it was quite a few years ago. One time we all came in to find thank-you cards on our desks, with the instructions to write something on each and give it to a coworker you’re thankful for. No one did that to my knowledge, but I did tape one of mine to the office coffee machine (and was happy to find a DITTO! written on it by someone a day later). The never ending stream of activities was cringey, tiring, and felt like more work.

    None of the actual issues that we complained about were addressed, but hints were dropped that the next year’s survey numbers better be high, so we all gave positive answers and high marks on the next survey just to make it stop. (And then we stopped taking the surveys.) The bubbly employee found another job and left, and the whole thing ended after that. Pretty sure I still have some of the merch though.

  10. Dorothy Zpornak*

    I feel bad for her. It sounds like she was a great teacher — all that energy and inventiveness; I wonder if she was forced out of education due to the financial unsustainability. I also know firsthand how stultifying it is to move from education into an office job where it’s pretty much guaranteed that almost none of your job (if any of it) will allow you to be creative. For those of us who are wired to be creative, it’s incredibly frustrating, so if her job function doesn’t involve creative thinking and problem solving, it makes sense that she might turn to office culture for an outlet.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Yeah, I can totally see this. The creativity is one of the things I love about teaching, though being myself and teaching teenage boys (we have girls now, but only in 1st year), my creative stuff is rather more “let’s create a murder mystery. I want you to create a detective, a victim, a list of suspects” or I spent the last two weeks or so with my 1st years, having them create their own countries, complete with constitutions, leaders, tourist guides, flags…

      I would definitely miss it in a traditional office environment.

    2. somehow*

      But did she have to go into office work? To me, she sounds a bit nannying and infantalizing, which is never a good thing to do to other adults, no matter one’s background, level of creativity, etc. Once in a while, “Hey y’all, it’s Fun Meme Day!” okay, pretty harmless. But all of what LW describes occurring in the first three weeks? Tiresome and annoying.

      Some people just…are.

    3. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      Yeah, tbh, I thought I was really annoyed by the behavior as I read it but it’s more the fact she won’t let people opt out that’s annoying. Even in a classroom environment, you need to respect the child. But I can see how she’d be a really good teacher and try to draw everyone in — in a younger setting, you need that.

      If she chilled out a bit — and based on the update, she did — I think people would be more inclined to opt in when they need her cheeriness.

  11. Kate*

    From the update, it’s unclear to me whether another colleague read AAM and spoke to her or whether she herself read AAM and recognized herself, which is honestly my worst nightmare. I’m glad it came to a good resolution, but my secondhand cringe over here is off the charts.

    1. Keyboard Cowboy*

      My worst nightmare too. Anymore I read AAM less to find answers to things and more to find out if anybody wrote about me!

      1. House On The Rock*

        There was a letter a little while back where a person complained about their manager leaving work early on occasion to get her hair done and I was half convinced it was a particular, very rules oriented former employee of mine! Thankfully, Alison told them that it’s fine for folks to flex their time for personal appointments and the manager was likely working extra hours anyway!

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Now I’m thinking “what might your colleagues write to AAM about you?” might make an amusing thread for the Friday open post.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I’m happy to hear this; I have a reminder on my calendar to request an update on that letter in 2024!

  12. Honestly, some people’s children!*

    Once in a great while “It’s National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day so I brought in cookies” or something of that nature would be ok. This is making my head hurt just thinking about it. I had someone like this reporting to me and had to tell her several times people want X, which can vary from person to person, but not cookies, picture days, dollar store treats before she gave up. When there are serious issues in an office people want either action to fix it or honest answers about why you can’t. This stuff is just annoying!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      It keeps reminding me of the Valentine’s Day episode of the Simpsons, where Lisa feels sorry for Ralph not getting any cards, so she gives him one, and he immediately gloms onto her like a sucker fish.

    2. A*

      But it’s always the women who are bringing in cookies. How about the men do it for a change if it’s so important?

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        It’s not always the women. (That’s an essentialist argument right there.) I’m a man and I’ve cooked/baked lots of stuff for my coworkers. I like to cook, I like to share, and I like seeing my coworkers happy. At my last job, everybody used to bring things in all the time, regardless of which bathroom they used. It was part of the culture and it was nice. Rare, but nice.

        On the flip side, I have had some coworkers that I definitely did not want anything they had cooked. Nope. Uh-huh. Not happening.

  13. Lex Talionis*

    Miss Manners Guide to Office Etiquette. Leave one on her chair. It should probably be part of many welcome packages.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I think “Miss Manners Guide to Office Etiquette” is a book, and Lex Talionis is recommending giving a copy to the ultra-cheerful coworker.

        Honestly, not a terrible idea, but not a great one considering that it is not likely the coworker will be able to connect the dots. It’s just going to seem pretty random.

  14. LCH*

    i was so curious the whole letter what she had been hired to do (especially if she didn’t have a manager) since she seemed to spend a lot of time on the office cheer stuff. like, what was her actual job?!

  15. not nice, don't care*

    It really sucks when a manager decides this kind of treatment is preferable to actually managing. Assaulted by a patron? Have a sticker. Schedule changed without notice for the third time this week? A candy bar for you!!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      “These two things are not actually related. You get that, right?”

      I mean, there’s nothing wrong with silly stickers or candy in and of themselves. It’s when managers or coworkers start seeing them as substitutes for actually doing their jobs, or think I’m not going to notice budget cuts or doing three people’s work because of a handful of dollar store crap, I get salty.

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

    Funny enough this letter was the result for the Surprise Me a few weeks ago!

  17. Anony vas Normandy*

    Two things are true at once:
    1. Smiley Sally is probably a very sweet person
    2. My shoulders are now permanently attached to my ears

  18. Tiger Snake*

    I’m glad it all worked out. I admit, Sally’s behaviour was so aggressive with her actions that I was wondering if this was what she was actually hired for and the boss hadn’t communicated that well.
    On paper, LW and their coworkers seem to be a big stuck-in-the-mud. And that’s NOT a bad thing! But I was starting to wonder if the boss wanted a different office culture, and so he had hired Sally to be a sort of social officer and office manager rolled into one.

  19. Tammy 2*

    I am just…amazed at the amount of organization, focus, and energy it would take to aggressively observe all of these days. I can’t even remember to eat tacos on Tuesdays.

    1. Dog momma*

      In the meantime, with all this going on, how is any work getting done? especially by the new person?

  20. Dog momma*

    This would have been over the top in the office I worked at. For one, we all had to answer phones and I ran my own phone line for UM medical requests. Not our company culture, although we would celebrate different life events while the phone lines were off in the morning or at lunch break. However, since many people in the open office floor plan were also answering calls..not A call center.. it had to be pretty quiet, otherwise people couldn’t hear, & you didn’t want the customer hearing A loud party atmosphere ..some of the requests were urgent, & very stressful.

  21. Dog momma*

    In the meantime, with all this going on, how is any work getting done? especially by the new person?

  22. DJ Abbott*

    I’ll take the smiley stress toy off your hands. ;)
    I’m making do with a little stuffed toy that has a key ring on it.
    Does anyone know where I could buy a real stress toy? I wish that fad had never gone away!

  23. Clare*

    When I was in school we made them from balloons. You blow up a balloon and deflate it to stretch it out. Then 2/3 fill it balloon with flour and tie a knot in the neck. Next, take a second balloon, cut the neck off and cut a few small holes in it. Stretch the second balloon over the first to cover up the little flappy tail. You now have a spotted stress toy.

    I think the real ones are filled with some form of non-toxic gel, but flour is safer if it accidentally bursts.

  24. Dr Sarah*

    This is reminding me of the HIMYM episode in which Lily tries moving from her kindergarten teacher job into Ted’s office. (Not in the details, just in the ‘can’t shift gears’ aspect.)

  25. M*

    Just a small, kind of off topic thing I noted in letter 3, it’s not really great to lump nonbinary people in with women like that. It kind of defeats the purpose of being outside the binary, and not all nonbinary people are AFAB or femme presenting. There are tall nonbinary people with beards and deep voices and somehow I don’t think they’re included when people say “women and nonbinary people”. I think the LW’s heart is in the right place and there was clearly no offense or unkindness meant, and I do appreciate nonbinary people being mentioned at all! We’re all learning and I just wanted to add my two cents.

  26. Fiona Orange*

    Ah, I remember this one. I could see my mother-in-law doing something like this. But then again, she was a kindergarten teacher.

  27. raktajino*

    Lord. I work with LOTS of former teachers–especially K-5 teachers–and I would still find this exhausting. The last person who did have a very cruise director attitude eventually learned to tone down most of her activities. Our office manager tried to start activities as well, and we would either ignore them or interact superficially if we were interested. For most people, saying no thank you and just not participating eventually got through to both people.

    I’m glad to hear the OP’s coworker caught on as well. Or did the other coworkers stage an intervention?

  28. In the provinces*

    We’re retired now, but when we were working my wife was a preschool teacher and I spent a number of years as chairman of a university department. I found that my wife’s strategies for working with three-year-olds were also very effective with professors.

Comments are closed.