updates: I resuscitated a coworker, my boss only hires attractive women, and more

Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. I resuscitated a coworker, and people won’t stop talking about it

I wrote to you about “Jane,” the coworker who declared we had a “special bond” after I performed CPR and resuscitated her. Thank you for your advice and everything the commentariat had to say. It helped put things in perspective. Several commenters suggested I might be minimizing Jane’s feelings about the event, and I think in part they were right. Jane is entitled to feel whatever she wants about my actions. I’m glad to have done what I did and I’m glad she survived. To be clear, however: Jane’s “thank-you” phone call lasted 90 minutes, and the children who were put on the phone are pre-K and prompted to ask me the story of how I “saved Mommy’s life.” Jane called me “my hero!” Every. Day. For. Six. Months.

I gave Alison’s advice a shot. I took Jane aside and told her I’m a private person who doesn’t like the spotlight. I even framed it as, “Here’s a secret about me that I don’t normally tell people, but I feel okay telling you…” Jane’s response was that this was ridiculous, I needed to stand up for myself (what?!) and if I wouldn’t, she would. I locked myself in my office and had a mini-panic attack.

Next, I tried what some of the commenters suggested: redirecting Jane to focusing on heart-related charities. To do this, I enlisted the help of another colleague, “Tanya,” who is active in volunteer work and could offer ideas for actions. The good news is, the next two weeks were amazing. Our local AHA Heart Walk is coming up in September and Jane sprang into action with Tanya!

The bad news: Jane’s very young son has been diagnosed with the same heart disorder that caused Jane’s cardiac arrest. His issues are apparently severe and urgent. Jane is now on leave to deal with his treatment. I’m heartbroken, no pun intended. No parent or child should have to deal with this. (I’m a parent, too.) So I’ve visited, sent a fruit basket, and texted Jane several times to let her know I’m thinking of her and her family.

It’s strange how things can turn around so quickly. I hope to have a happier update for you in the coming months.

2. My boss only wants to hire attractive young women

Thank you so much for publishing my letter. It really made me feel validated for being grossed out by my CEO’s behavior!

The ending to this isn’t super exciting. I was generally frustrated at that job and between the hiring-attractive-young-women thing and my being undermined by a (shocker: male!) colleague, I decided to leave. I never brought this back up to the CEO, and after I left the company, he ended up disbanding this sales team anyway.

May they all get exactly what they deserve.

3. Slow job offer process when I need to move across the country (#2 at the link)

I already have an update which is: they offered me the job only hours after I sent you my letter, I was very happy with the offer, and have figured out the new lease/moving. They ended up offering me some extra to help move, so it is not even an issue that it’s a little last minute (except that I haven’t finished packing). But I hope the advice will help someone in a similar situation in the future, because it was a stressful time.

4. Interviewing with the team I’d manage if I’m hired (#3 at the link)

I wanted to write you to let you know I ended up getting the job! I’d been interviewing for this company for about 3 years when I wrote you and getting rejected for the positions of those who ended up reporting to me. Once I was hired, I was told I’d been flagged as a potential manager-level hire when I’d first interviewed but the job didn’t exist yet. With your advice from all the years I’ve read Ask a Manager, I was able to craft a great cover letter and resume, and finally get hired!

I had a really difficult time around the pandemic, and spent lockdown upskilling in Tech to prepare myself to pivot to a new field and 2 years later I’m still in the job leading a great team. Thank you so much!

{ 39 comments… read them below }

  1. TootsNYC*

    I’d been interviewing for this company for about 3 years when I wrote you and getting rejected for the positions of those who ended up reporting to me. Once I was hired, I was told I’d been flagged as a potential manager-level hire when I’d first interviewed but the job didn’t exist yet.

    This is such an important thing—always do your best on an interview, and also handle the follow-up well, even if you don’t get the job.

    You just never know.
    So many times I’ve interviewed someone, or known of an interview process, and there were so many great people but only one position. You don’t know who has seen your interview and where they might send your name.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Especially when you see that they wanted LW from the get-go! It just took them three years to create that position and move her into it.

      Some things just take longer. I think making a good last impression is just as important as making a good first impression, if not more so.

    2. Pam Adams*

      I was on a hiring committee recently. Several of our interviewees weren’t quite ready for that position, but have been hired into different positions.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Well, it’s not three years for one position; it was for multiple positions that now all answer to LW.

      So, it’s really a bunch of separate interview processes, not one big three-year one. That would, indeed, be intense.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        Yeah I was reading that differently myself – I thought for sure it was a typo until I went back and re-read that they were interviewing across different roles.

  2. SHEILA, the co-host*

    Sending hugs to both OP #1 (for Jane’s insistence on being weird about it) and to Jane herself and her son. OP is right – no parent or child should need to go through this. As someone who lost a sister to heart issues, I’m thinking about all three of you today.

    1. Bruce*

      As a widower (it was a heart attack) and with my own heart issues, wow. LW1’s update really hit me. Best wishes to Jane’s child, I hope there is a better update in the future.

  3. SusieQQ*

    LW1 you are inspiring to me, both as someone who jumps to action in an emergency and also your ability to see Jane as a human and empathize with her even when you don’t care for her. Wishing the best for Jane and her son.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      There’s a link to report typos above the comment box. There’s no guarantee it will be seen if you just mention it in a comment.

  4. oranges*

    Wishing the best for OP #1’s co-worker and child.
    (But wow those are some blurry boundaries. I’ve never call/texted co-workers outside of work for non-emergency/non-work things. Especially people I was never friends with to start.)

    1. Blue*

      Agreed. I’ve had jobs where one text during an emergency would be appropriate between colleagues, but the multiple check ins make me wonder about the emotional world of this workplace and if that might be the real problem behind OP’s problem.

    2. amoeba*

      Huh, even though I agree that Jane was overdoing it, I’ve definitely texted coworkers (I was friendly with) outside of work! I mean, usually, if I have their private number, it’s because we’ve exchanged it at some point for non-work purposes (outside of work activities, easier coordination when traveling together, photos of pets and plants, funny memes…) And I’d definitely use it for the purpose of thanking them if they literally saved my life!

      Now, this shouldn’t mean 90 min phone calls or daily celebrations at work! But a simple message or quick call would be very normal in my work.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t even have 90 minute phone calls with people I’m super close to. Not since I was 13.

    4. Gumby*

      That is what I was thinking. For a co-worker I actually liked and was close with – I would call/text regularly and drop off a home cooked meal or two if one of their children was having major health issues. For one I wasn’t close to? I’d go in on a group gift that would make the family’s life easier like food delivery gift cards. I would contact her outside of that once or maybe twice – text, call, possibly a card. Neither time would involve a home visit. I don’t even know where most of my co-workers live! Even the ones I like a lot!

      So maybe Jane is overly buddy buddy because the whole office is like that. Or it is a really small town where everyone knows everyone. The 90-minute phone call and “standing up for you” aren’t ok either way. But one way to discourage someone who is a little clingy and too familiar would be to step back a touch on personal interactions.

  5. JelloStapler*

    Wait, as you were standing up yourself asking her to keep it private and tone it down, she told you you need to… stand up for yourself? I think Jane may be mixing up what she wants is not what everyone else wants. I’m sorry that it’s only gotten more complicated.

    1. FrivYeti*

      Yeah, that’s not… uncommon with certain types of people. When they say “stand up for yourself”, what they mean is that they believe in their hearts that you would agree with them if you just had the confidence to admit it. Any attempt to actually stand up for yourself is then seen as you being cowardly to someone else.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      I truly cannot stand people who think that the way they do things is the best, ideal, most common-sense option for literally everyone else they know. My mother is one of these people and it’s exhausting.

    3. TeaPotShelf*

      This struck a chord with me, for sure. I dated a guy once as a young adult who was very intense and claimed to want plenty of openness and honesty and said he would do *anything* for me (I wasn’t asking, but he offered). At one point, I told him how uncomfortable it made me when he would stare at me for long periods of time. Did he know he was doing it? Could he tone it down? He shared how pained he was to know that my self esteem was so low that I didn’t even want to be looked at. He assured me he would help me improve my self esteem so I would stop minding his adoring gaze. AND I DIDN’T EVEN BREAK UP WITH HIM AT THAT POINT!

  6. Elizabeth West*

    #1 — I’m glad the OP was able to redirect Jane. It’s terrible that her son has the same issue, but it’s good that they caught it so he can get treatment. Hopefully all goes well for them.

    #3 — Congrats, OP!

  7. Jade*

    I resuscitated someone at work who had a positive outcome. I’ve told people that were constantly bringing it up that I’m very happy with the outcome and I never want to talk about it again. And then I wouldn’t. After a few months it took hold. “I don’t discuss it”.

    1. Jade*

      If it were me I would tell Jane I’m so happy with the outcome but it was a very traumatic event and I can’t discuss it anymore. There’s not much she can say to that. It’s OK to take care of your mental health.

    2. Satan's Panties*

      I *was* resuscitated once. The co-worker was someone I got along with but was not especially social with. It didn’t change the way I felt about him, but mostly because *I don’t remember it*. All I ever remembered was, one second I was opening a file cabinet, then I was on my couch at home. So it didn’t really register with me. To the point that I started to forget: was it Joaquin who gave CPR? Oh right: Wakeen. Because I wasn’t really there, yanno? But I guess Jane had a different perspective.

        1. Satan's Panties*

          Thank you. And funnily enough, I think everyone in the department was sensitive to Wakeen not wanting the “Office hero, huzzah!” kind of attention LW1 got. So it wasn’t much discussed. Except I did ask Wakeen, and others who had witnessed the incident, for details to give to the numerous MDs and specialists I had to see afterwards. To this day I’m not sure *what* exactly the overall issue was, but I’ve been seizure-free for twenty years and counting.

      1. Dado*

        If I may ask, and don’t answer if I am being insensitive please, but did you go to the hospital in between and you just don’t have a memory of that? Because right now it sounds a little like they jump-started you and dropped you off on the porch before you were fully conscious

        1. Satan’s Panties*

          That’s another thing — I know I had been at a hospital because I had a wristband on. And because a rather large bill showed up, that I had to negotiate with my insurance company. I must have *appeared* lucid, for the ER doc to have released me. Wakeen and another co-worker, Mary, were standing over me, asking if I wanted the TV on, is the first thing I remember, and Mary hung out watching CNN with me until DH got home about a half hour later. Apparently I was walking and talking on my way out of the hospital…

        2. Satan's Panties*

          And yeah, I’m kind of side-eyeing the hospital. According to the wad of paperwork that also came home with me, I was there for at least an hour. Did I really seem okay to be released? All I can think is, it was like an alcoholic blackout: I was functioning normally, so no one noticed anything out of the ordinary, but the part of my brain that retains experiences was still offline.

  8. New Senior Mgr*

    LW1 – so sorry about Jane and her family. Sending them positive energy and well wishes.

    LW2 and 4 a congratulations on the new jobs!

    LW3- I worked for a Dean who only hired attractive, tall, slim blondes. I was baffled because he seemed like such a great guy in every other work aspect and yet…

    1. New Senior Mgr*

      So my LW numbers are completely off here. Sorry about that. You know who you are. lol

  9. Despachito*

    Re LW 1 and Jane: I absolutely get it Jane was overdoing it and was annoying, and should be told to stop.

    However, I am thinking about that we really do not have many clues for how to react in such situations because they are very unlikely to happen. I mean, if someone saves my life, it is a huge thing, how is the saved person expected to react adequately? It would be weird not to thank or acknowledge the saviour at all, but overdoing it can easily cross the tipping point of awkwardness as it did here.

    So what would you find as appropriate to do in such a situation? I would personally think of sending a HUGE bouquet of flowers and a thank-you note to that person (as I somehow feel that any gift can only be a token as a saved life does not have a price) and tell them ONCE how grateful I was, and then behave as normal.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this.

      But I do think that there’s something odd going on at that office, given the LW’s reaction to Jane’s bad news about her son’s diagnosis. Sending a fruit basket or some similar sympathy gift together with the rest of the team and signing the card is about as far as I’d go. But I would neither visit nor send texts unless the coworker was also a close personal friend.

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