updates: someone is deleting our work emails, the weekend retreat, and more

Welcome to “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! Between now and the end of the year, I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

1. Someone or something is deleting our work emails

I really wish I had a great update about how everything magically stopped. Or my manager started to care that this was happening. But unfortunately, nothing changed. The deleting stopped for a little bit and then started up again. If I come across a deleted email, I forward to my manager. But that’s the last I hear about it.

I had left a brief message in the comments that this is something I just need to put out of my mind. Jane is probably not going to change anything. And my manager isn’t going to suddenly take this more seriously.

But in amazing personal news, after an excruciating five-year journey, my husband and I just became first parents to twins! A boy and a girl. I’m currently in week two of my maternity leave. I’m actually holding my sweet daughter as I type this. So I could not care less what is happening at work and it’s wonderful.

2. Teenager’s job wants her to go on a weekend retreat

The whole thing took an unexpected turn a few weeks after my letter. The supervisor in question was quite unexpectedly let go, and no information was provided to the employees other than “she violated company policy and we wish her well in her future plans.” Took everyone there by surprise, and there was a lot of speculation about whether these “girls trips” and activities outside of work had anything to do with it, but no one knows for sure.

When she was fired, five of the employees quit in protest, but the ones who stayed have been treated well by the management and the new outside person put in place to supervise them has been friendly and professional (no weekend getaways on the schedule!). Thanks again for your advice!

3. Is there a reasonable amount of yelling at work, or is any yelling too much?

It has been about nine months since Orion yelled at me in a video call, and he has gotten much better! I think you were correct that my firm shut-down made him feel sheepish and stop around me, but I suspect he also was spoken to about the problem in a more general sense. In a few calls I have seen him start to get worked up and suddenly take a breath and a pause, and he’s also gotten better at listening and making space for others to speak instead of feeling the need to explain (Orionsplain) everything himself. I can see the effort he’s putting in, and so I feel more forgiving when I find him difficult. I have also seen Cassandra, who had previously refused to work with him, back in meetings with him. I suspect that reflects changes in Orion’s behavior as well.

I was fascinated by dissenting opinions in the comments that I’m too sensitive. I can’t control my level of sensitivity much, I think it’s part of how my brain works. Reflecting on the incident, one of the reasons I reacted so strongly is that it was entirely new and my autistic brain didn’t have much of a script developed. With the experience of the incident and context from Alison, the commenters, and my real-life community, I would be able to deal with a similar situation much more easily in the future. But I’ll never be good at aggression and yelling in the workplace. That’s okay, even if it means I’m cutting myself out of high stress lines of work.

4. Should I lie about how many cats I have? (#2 at the link)

I’m the person who wrote asking if I should lie about how many cats I have when I started a new job. Thank you for posting my question! Your kind words and those of the commentors made me feel much better. I had previously dealt with a couple of judgmental people who called me a “crazy cat lady,” and those words really stuck with me once I began my new job. I had landed my dream job and was nervous about anything that could mess it up.

Reading the comments helped me realize it was unlikely that coworkers would drill me on my cat count. When pets came up, I just mentioned that I had cats, and no one questioned it further. Apparently, I’m the only one on the team that wants to know everything about others’ pets!

Cat updates! Apparently oblivious to our past experience, we found a stray in our neighborhood in really bad shape, so we took him in swearing we were just going to patch him up and adopt him out. And that’s how we ended up with a sixth cat.

The rest of the cats are doing well. There was a moth in the house that kept them entertained for most of this week.

Here’s a picture of our newest addition.

{ 181 comments… read them below }

    1. Grad School Attempt 2*

      What good face markings that cat has! (The only thing keeping me from getting upwards of 6 cats myself is that my current cat strongly prefers being an only pet. A little bit jealous that you get to have so many, LW! Six cats sound wonderful and not anything to be self-conscious of.)

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I say I want six cats but I woke up at 1:30 last night already hemmed in on the bed by the two I have, and then the little one decided that meant it was time for “Crinkle Ball Hoedown” (TM), so maybe I don’t?

        1. Csethiro Ceredin*

          I can only have one in my condo and I keep getting sooo close to seeking out an old, quiet cat who’d be happy indoors with just 1400 square feet. And then I visit my parents and THEIR old sedentary cat decides to Sing the Song of her People at 3am and I think maybe not yet….

          1. Generic Name*

            1400 square feet is plenty of room for a single cat! Just make sure you’ve got vertical space (cat trees, book shelves) so they can maximize the space. :)

            1. Anax*

              Agreed! My family had four in an apartment about that size, and they were healthy and happy.

              (Life circumstances and COVID, we ended up a little more crammed in than originally planned. We have six now, but they have 2500 square feet to roam and they’re leash-trained, so they’re happy little hooligans.)

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              My house is about that size, according to the county records (not counting the unfinished basement or the finished attic though!) and I thought it would be a lot of space for several cats to roam. Ended up adopting one that is the exact kind you’re looking for. He’s having a great time exploring the space and is snoozing under my desk as I type this. Haven’t bought him a cat tree yet because he’s not showing any interest in the vertical space that I do already have, but I did place his favorite recliner in front of a window (he’s an old man, so of course he has a favorite recliner).

              Previous house was 1200+ sq ft plus a half-finished basement of the same total size, and I ended up with my son and his gf’s two very young, very agile cats, that came to my house as kittens and stayed there on and off for close to 5 years. Their parents bought them a tall cat tree that we put in front of the living room window, and they made good use of bookshelves, windowsills in the bedrooms, and so on. They did destroy the living-room curtain though. I walked in one day and both kittens were halfway up the curtain like it was a wall in a rock-climbing gym. They left holes with their claws that got worse after I washed it and I had to replace it. No other damage though.

          2. I Have RBF*

            We have an 850 sqft house and have had 5 cats in it. You just need to keep the litterboxen clean…

          3. RuledByCats*

            I had two cats in a 800 sq ft apartment, then temporarily confined to maybe 120 sq ft and occasional access to shared space. Their behavior is entirely the same in our 1600 sq ft house, so I’d definitely say you have space! They care far more about sun spot availability than square footage

            1. Anax*

              It’s also helpful if you mitigate any opportunities to ‘bridge troll’ and block a narrow hallway (e.g., by having a ‘high route’ and a ‘low route’ so they can go around).

              And enrichment helps. Bird feeders were kind of a lifesaver – not that the birds were bothered, but the cats loved having more things to watch.

          4. official cat herder*

            I run a rescue and we would (hypothetically) love to have someone like you as a foster. It’s hard to find people to foster older cats!

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Embarrassingly, I sang a little song to myself, “Cat tax, cat tax, they paid the cat tax.” Thankfully, no one else is around to hear me!

  1. violin squeaks*

    I have never been happier as when I read that the cats had a moth to keep them entertained. Lucky babies!

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Same! My former foster cats would bounce all over the house like flipper balls until the prized moth was caught, and watching them was one of the funniest things that could happen on a day of working from home (aside from when they got too close to the flat-screen TV).

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        I have three chihuahuas and when we have the yearly spider cricket or two get into our basement, we let them stay and jump around because trying to catch them entertains the dogs (and us) so very much.

    2. Too Many Cats*

      I’m the LW. It was probably the highlight of their year! That and one of the cats snuck outside, and we found him a day later. He was hungry but otherwise fine!

    3. Animal worker*

      I have three parrots and a cat. Which means lots of bird seed everywhere, so lots of seed moths. One of my parrots has decided recently they’re terrifying, but the cat loves to hunt them. Very entertaining overall, at least.

    4. anon24*

      That reminds me of the time a moth saved my cats from killing each other…
      My male cat is an anxious little guy but he is also really kind and sweet. He also has some odd quirks, and one night a few years ago we had to take our female cat to the vet without him and when we got back with her he decided that something was wrong about her and he cornered her and was angry growling and for the first time ever we had to separate them because we genuinely thought he was going to hurt her. He then proceeded to continue to try to chase her around and get at her and was growling and snapping at her and growling and snapping at us for interfering. It was oddly terrifying and completely out of character. It took 2 hours before he calmed down enough that he still wasn’t really ok but we felt safe enough to go to bed without him murdering her, although we were still stressed and anxious about the whole situation because it was so weird and unlike him.
      Midnight comes and I’m in bed and he comes flying into the room and takes a flying leap onto my face. I had a brief moment of thought “oh my God, he’s lost it, I’m going to get my face ripped off” and then I saw a moth flutter past in the moonlight.
      Both cats spent the next hour happily chasing that moth around the apartment together and in the end decided they were the bestest of friends again after all.

      1. allathian*

        Nothing that bad, but when my parents had two cats who were litter mates, they always scheduled their checkups for the same day. When one had to be taken in for an emergency visit, the other would act weird, like the other cat was a complete stranger, probably because the vet visit temporarily changed his scent. After a few hours they were snuggling together again as if nothing had happened.

        They died at 16 within a month of each other. The first one had renal failure, and I’m convinced that the second died of a broken heart. He had some thyroid issues, and spent the first few days after the first one had been euthanized going round his favorite haunts. Then he just gave up and stopped eating, and in the end it was more merciful to let him go as well.

    5. pagooey*

      Yes, me too! I have two cats, and my favorite thing is when they run around the house after a moth or fly in perfect tandem, like two little oxen in a yoke.

    6. Grim*

      I wish my cat was interested in catching moths or other bugs that get in the house, but she doesn’t care! That’s why my other pets are all carnivorous plants.

  2. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    Real “Tabatha Takes Over” vibes on #2. IIRC, I feel like there were a bunch of episodes where the same sort of thing had happened; immature (and inadequately-supervised) staff run amok and then walk away with 90% of the company’s employees the moment any one of them finally gets hit with consequences. (To anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, it was one of those “expert comes into a failing business to teach them how to turn it around” shows that focused on hair/beauty salons.)

    1. ferrina*

      Ooh, I forgot how much I loved Tabatha Takes Over. You’re so right- same vibes here! And good on management for fixing the issue.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Yea, I’m sure it’s really easy to get all the people you manage on your side when you party with them all the time and be their friend instead of their manager. Nine out of ten times when a bunch of people walk out because one person was fired that person was the cause of a lot of problems. The tenth time that one person was the only one protecting everyone from someone super horrible in the office.

  3. MsM*

    Hm. Alison tells LW3 five cats means there’s still room for one more. LW subsequently acquires sixth cat. Is Alison the fabled cat distribution system?

      1. Miss Wantstoknowitall*

        Yes please, tell my boyfriend. We’re still at one and I’ve been trying to convince him that a second would be great company for the first! He has not taken the bait yet.

      2. Legally Brunette*

        Husband blames my pregnancy brain for wanting to grow our feline friends from 2 to… more. I must be getting to him, though, because he mentioned today that a coworker found a stray cat. Any tips for convincing him are welcome!

      3. anon24*

        Can you tell landlords??? I’d love more, but it’s hard finding a rental that accepts 1 cat, not many accept 2 (current amount), and I’ve never seen any that allow more.

        1. Clare*

          I am friends with a landlady (sacrilege, I know!) whose current tennants own two cats, two dogs and a rabbit. She says they’re the best tenants she’s ever had. They’ve actually increased her property’s value by landscaping the garden! She’s told her children and they’re fully on board with letting them stay as long as they want if she gets abducted by aliens. It’s their home.

          That’s how renting should work imo.

  4. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP 4, thank you for giving your beautiful boy a loving home.

    Also, you are not alone. I ask my colleagues lots of questions about their cats, dogs, fish, gerbils, Pet Rocks, you name it. I’m horribly allergic to cats but never met one I didn’t like. So I have to enjoy stories and pictures from my team!

    1. Aeryn Sun*

      Likewise, I’m allergic to cats but love cats, so if a coworker mentioned their several cats my only reaction would be demanding for photos.

    2. Peon*

      My team has daily stand up meetings by zoom and they just don’t feel complete if someone’s pet doesn’t zoom bomb them <3 My boss has horses, dogs and cats, one person has a dog, another has a dog and cat, 3 of us have just cats.

  5. Rage*

    OP1: we are having a similar issue with a shared email box in Outlook. Emails will go from the “Deleted” folder to “permanently deleted” – sometimes straight from the Inbox (which is incredibly frustrating) and sometimes right after I delete an email from the inbox. Our IT thinks it has something to do with “conversation” settings, and that it’s consolidating a bunch of responses into one and just removing the others, but I’ve had initial emails from both internal and external senders mysteriously vanish, so clearly it’s something else. But nobody knows what.

    I’ve just started going into the Deleted folder at least 1x per week and clicking the “see emails recently removed from this folder” link which appears at the top when deleted items have been deleted. I just restore them all and then go back and search for anything I don’t recognize.

  6. D*

    Honestly, kudos to Orion. Obviously he’s has some serious problems to work on, but it sounds like he’s genuinely working on it and genuinely getting better, and that can be very hard.

    1. Trina*

      Yes!! No one is going to be able to break bad habits/learned behaviors overnight, but – as the OP mentioned – showing signs that you are legitimately trying to improve on a problem can earn you so much more mental “slack” with other people.

    2. Falling Diphthong*


      A pervading modern myth is that the way you are now is just locked in and will never change. People change all the time. (Albeit, not necessarily the things you want, or in the direction you want.)

      Sometimes people hit “Oh. So the common factor is ME…” and then actually do take steps to change their actions.

    3. Ink*

      Really good to see! The letter seemed like there was real potential for nothing to change for him OR the employer, and as fun as comeuppance is with something like this it’s always good to see growth instead!

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      I feel a little bit bad that so many people are going bonkers over the cat and no one’s saying anything about #1’s longed-for beautiful babies XD Give them both a hug and kiss from me!

      (Yes, I know I went bonkers over the cat first too…)

      1. But what to call me?*

        Possibly because the cat news was accompanied by a picture.
        (Not that LW#1 needs to share a picture of the babies with a bunch of internet strangers, but I suspect the picture contributes to the aww reactions.)

        Congratulations on the babies, LW#1!

    2. ferrina*

      Yes, congrats! Sounds like the workplace is still having the same issue, but LW is able to deprioritize it. Sounds like they are really enjoying the babies!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Congratulations on the babies, and may I recommend the board book Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton, in which important counting skills are conveyed through the metaphor of berserk artiodactyls.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      So I could not care less what is happening at work and it’s wonderful.

      I loved LW1’s final line. That is wonderful.

      TLDR: Problem is not fixed, but I no longer care.

  7. Engineer*

    Ah, yes, the ol’ “I’m just gonna help this baby get better and then get them settled in a new home.” That’s how I got cats 3, 5, and 7 of 7. And may or may not wind up with 8 depending on if the local tom decides he wants ownership.

    No such thing as a crazy cat lady – just people too sensitive to animals’ needs to turn them away.

    1. CatWoman*

      I call MYSELF a crazy Cat Lady, and I am not one bit ashamed of it! (Says this proud caregiver to 5 indoor kitties and 1 semi-feral outdoor kitty)

      1. Anax*

        Same here. As long as it comes across as ‘big fan of cats’ and not ‘is this animal hoarding?’, being the cat person is a pretty easy and safe shorthand in the office in my experience. Just like another teammate is the baker and another is the runner.

        It’s my convenient, low-stakes talking point whenever we have team-building icebreakers, which is MUCH easier than panicking about which parts of my (not always great) childhood are safe to share.

    2. Gumby*

      Amateurs the lot of you. I had one friend who was just really really soft-hearted who had, the last time I was at her house, 19 cats. And a newborn (human). The newborn meant she dropped out of the activity that we had in common so I haven’t seen her in a while. I should check in.

    3. lin*

      I have one simple rule. Or really, two questions. Does the house smell like cat pee? and can I afford the vet bills? and as long as the answers are no, and yes instead of yes, and no, I have room for another cat!

  8. Haijlee*

    There can never ever ever be too many cat photos posted online. NEVER. Please send photos of all cats in the next update!

    1. borealis*

      You are correct, there can’t.

      Have you read the short story “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer? It is quite lovely, and explains why there are so many cat photos online. (It’s easily findable by Googling for the title!)

  9. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

    We ended up with cat #4 in a similar situation. Injured kitten in a dumpster behind a drugstore. We’re back down to three permanent resident cats – but I occasionally have upwards of 10 cats in the house if I have fosters!

  10. Rachel*

    3: very few letters have no dissenting opinions.

    One thing about asking for advice is that you get it. I don’t understand where the surprise reaction is coming from.

    1. But what to call me?*

      You don’t understand why LW#3 was surprised to be told they were too sensitive because they were upset about someone yelling at them at work? When all signs from the letter indicate that they’re in an industry where yelling at people isn’t the norm (as is true of many industries)?

    2. Ink*

      What an unkind reaction to someone not expecting people to argue that being yelled at at work is something they should just learn to deal with.

    3. BubbleTea*

      Advice is meant to be actionable. “Have you tried not having that emotional response?” is not actionable advice, it’s patronising judgement.

    4. Just chipping in*

      I didn’t read OP#3’s reaction as “surprised fascinated”. I think they knew there would be dissenting opinions.

      I read it more as “intrigued fascinated”. As in, “some people said they wouldn’t react in the way I did and/or said this was par for the course in their high stress industries, which made me reflect and realise, while I would feel more confident handling yelling going forward, that sort of environment wouldn’t be right for me”.

      So less “I think it’s fascinating people could possibly hold an alternate opinion on this” and more “I thought it was fascinating to hear what people who didn’t hold the same opinion thought as it enabled me to confirm something about myself and how I like to work”.

    5. OP 3*

      I don’t understand where you read the word surprise! The fascinating thing is that the people who disagreed explained where they were coming from, so I got some insight into people who are unlike me.

  11. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    #2 – not surprised some people walked after the “fun” manager was fired. They most likely enjoyed the social aspects of the job and didn’t want to be “stuffy” professionals anymore. Glad things are better for your daughter.

    #3 – you are NOT too sensitive. No amount of yelling at work is acceptable. If it upset you, it SHOULD. Because unacceptable behavior is upsetting. Also, I don’t think you handled it poorly. You were firm but professional in the moment, got through the rest of the meeting, the took a few moments to deal with your emotions. That’s NORMAL.

    1. 3DogNight*

      Came to say this about the sensitivity thing. Yelling isn’t really appropriate anywhere other than when it’s an urgent safety issue. You are NOT too sensitive, and anyone that says you are probably needs to examine how they treat others.

      1. rollyex*

        I yelled in relation to safety about eight years ago. It wasn’t exactly urgent – it was about my staffperson being asked to go somewhere we were worried was unsafe, and the other manager I was on the call with (with my staffer and some of their staff) was dismissive or our concerns, rather than proving the situation was safe. We had been asking for info for weeks and kept getting “Don’t worry, don’t worry.” I worry.

        So we had a call a couple days before departure, which was more of the same.

        It escalated to my yelling something like “Look, you either give us evidence about X, Y and Z, or we’re pulling the plug! She’s not going unless we’re sure!!!!” That ended the call. It worked – they came back to us a little later with proper info.

        1. rollyex*

          PS – I was yelling at the other party, but not about them. About our “demands.”

          Not “You don’t care, you’d not doing your job etc” but rather “We need to know this if she’s going to that place alone. We’re not moving forward without better info!!!! No way!””

          1. allathian*

            Sadly, sometimes yelling is the only way to get through to some wilfully obtuse people that you mean business. In this situation, when you were concerned about someone else’s safety, I think yelling was entirely appropriate. Mind you, it would’ve been equally acceptable if you were worried about your own safety.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Yeah, people who tell other people what their feelings ought to be usually mean, “I don’t want you limiting me or causing me to think about others’ needs over my own desires so I’m going to pretend you’re the problem”.

      LW, there is no such thing as “too sensitive”. People who say that are being rude and dismissive to you. I would also point out that if anyone could be, *Orion* was the one being too sensitive, since his feelings were apparently so overwhelmed he felt the need to yell.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I mean, I guess if a person burst into tears every time somebody turned a light on, or something, that might qualify, but…yeah, in this instance? The too sensitive person wasn’t the LW, it was Orion.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Fun manager: My senior year in high school we got a new music teacher. It was his first job, making him maybe five years older than us seniors. He was very much the fun teacher and we all loved him. perhaps two decades later, now in the internet era, I
      I thought to look him up. At first I found nothing but kept digging until I found him listed on the state board of ed site as having voluntarily given up his teaching license. It had the air of a plea deal to it. I never learned more, but my reaction with twenty years of life experience was unsurprise. Several possible scenarios present themselves.

      1. Fiona Orange*

        That is sad. I also had a fun teacher my senior year, and it was his first year of teaching as well, and we all loved him, etc.; and I would be devastated to learn something similar about him. Thankfully, my (nosy) Googling has shown that he’s every bit as wonderful all these years later.

    4. Paulina*

      And for #3, it wasn’t just a yell, it was a rant. Owen raised his voice and held forth for ten minutes before LW3 could get a word in. It’s not “too sensitive” to be affected by being treated so poorly and aggressively, and she handled it very well.

  12. Cassi*

    I lean into my cat lady ways. In a remote position I feel like it gives me personality without being too personal. I also choose cat gifs in teams whenever possible.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Oh, hey, are you me? I have a cat gif for every sort of conversation that might happen in Slack, that’s my exceptional skill that will never earn me any money :D

      1. Cassi*

        Maybe? Do you have four cats and aren’t currently trying to turn the outside neighborhood cat into a friend/your 5th cat?

        We do e-cards with gifs and I ALWAYS find a cat one. It’s not a birthday without a cat.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        My two useless superpowers are a gif library that covers every possible occasion and hitting the pause button on the DVD/Streaming at just the right second for hilarious facial expressions.

    2. Chatterbug*

      One of my favorite stories from a coworker was how he ended up with about 20 cats (I can’t quite recall the exact). He liked to put on the “not a cat person” kind of face.
      Two were indoor-only pets. The rest were a near-feral colony they transplanted some 600+ miles all in a van with them because the place they were moving out of was entirely being bulldozed for new construction, and they’d already been caring for the colony they’d TNR’d / last neighbors to leave.

      Apparently said van ride was utter hell but the cats were all still doing well at the farmland he bought and it gave them a chance to update all their shots.

  13. Sara without an H*

    Hi, LW#2 — I went back and looked at your original letter. Requiring employees to attend a weekend retreat, AND pay for it themselves, AND at least two of the employees are underage…all of this would send my managerial spidey senses into overdrive. I suspect that, in this case, at least one of the employees went to senior management and/or HR and the firing followed swiftly.

    Even with several employees following their manager out, it sounds as though the place has improved a lot. Hope your daughter enjoys working there and gets good experience.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I suspect it was a case of “this one weird thing turned out to be the top of a growing heap of Very Weird Things.”

        1. A_Jessica*

          Sorry I said School District by mistake, misunderstood the letter.
          Still something was wrong with that supervisor.

    2. Zarniwoop*

      If the employees who left had the same sort of judgment as the “fun” manager their departure probably made things better in the long run.

    3. Ink*

      Thank goodness she was fired, whatever the reason. Hopefully that made it clear how serious the infraction was and she won’t do it at her next job, though the sympathy resignations might have softened the lesson :/ I missed the letter originally, and I’m kind of reeling over how bad things could have wound up. 15 is SO young to be inviting to something like that, even if you pretend it was an appropriate thing to plan in general.

  14. Be Gneiss*

    I feel like the updates with a cat photo should be standalone posts, because as soon as I see the cat picture I can’t remember what any of the other letters were about. I could also probably be distracted by a moth for a week, so there’s that…

    1. Too Many Cats*

      OP here- we have really high ceilings (old Victorian house) so there were endless places for that moth to go. I don’t think the cats ever did catch it

  15. Juicebox Hero*

    My four cats, who all enjoy a good moth party, are jealous.

    One time there was a huge moth fluttering around my living room lamp and the herd chased it all around the first floor. One of them was licking his chops so I know which one got it. Then they sat and watched the lamp and waited for a new toy / snack to appear.

    Sky raisins, aka house flies, are also a favorite.

    As you can see, I wear my “crazy cat lady” label with pride =^..^=

        1. BubbleTea*

          Don’t eat the spicy sky raisins!

          My idiot dog tried to eat a jalapeño sky raisin, and that’s how I got stung by a hornet

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      When I was a kid we always had cats, sometimes as many as 5. And people wondered why I needed weekly allergy shots till I was out of the house…

      Anyway, a grasshopper somehow got into our kitchen once and our clowder of Siamese cats went BANANAS. Chattering, butt-wiggling, pouncing, locking in and watching it, all highly entertaining and ineffective. That grasshopper was playing with them, I swear. I finally caught it and let it back outside, and their expressions were so hurt and outraged: ‘Why did you do that?! I almost had him!’ No, you didn’t!

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        A bird got in my porch once and I gently caught it and let it out and all the while I could hear my cat chittering from the other side of the screen door and I swear she gave me the cold shoulder for at least two days because I caught the bird but neither gave it to her nor ate it myself.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Very relatable. Also, I’m not sure our cats would have known what to do if they had caught the grasshopper; a bird would’ve outright owned them.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      My cats will eat the moth, and then stare at where the moth was, and then go looking for the moth. Cause and Effect isn’t big in their little heads.

  16. Throwaway Account*

    Thank you to all the OPs for the updates!

    All the cat comments have me thinking about my grandma, who will forever be the most magnificent cat lady ever! She had about 15 cats for most of my life.

    My family moved in with grandma and her menagerie (dogs, cats, turtles, guinea pigs, rabbits) when I was 2 and dad was badly allergic to the cats. So he built them a fully insulated and heated “cat house” with 3 separate outdoor runs. Grandma would open the cat house every morning and feed the cats a cooked meal; all 15 had individual bowls and spots where they ate. After they ate, Grandma walked the cats down to the pond, where most hung out with her while she waded. Some had a little swim. Then, they all went off for the day. Or they stayed and hung out with us. It was back in the day, and we lived out of town, so the cats were outside all day (sorry local mice and birds!!, I would do better now!).

    They came home at dusk for dinner; again, individual bowls, specific eating spots. Not infrequently, they brought a friend back, usually a cat that needed some help. New cat sometimes joined the pack, and sometimes stayed only for the food. In either case, we would get them vet care and spayed/neutered. Those cats would do anything grandma asked them to to! She put the lie to “herding cats” as they all came when she called and did what she told them to do!

  17. Jamie*

    3) You are definitely not too sensitive. I imagine that the people who felt that you were overreacting have just been around yellers so much that they’ve become desensitized to it. In the workplace we are all expected to be professional and respectful and yelling is neither of those things. I’m glad that Orien is changing his ways and that there has been no more yelling.

    1. Legally Brunette*

      To add to this, LW3, I think your genuine reaction to immediately set a boundary over Orion’s bad behavior is a very good reaction that most neurotypical people should follow. Sometimes that “be professional and respectful at work” mentality results in vapor lock at offensive behavior, or ignoring it in the hopes it will pass quicker. Very glad to see that you inspired positive change in Orion to the benefit of yourself and others – well done!

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes I agree, it may have felt fraught to you because you didn’t have a script prepared, but the one you came up with in the moment was perfect! You did great.

  18. mlem*

    My coworkers absolutely ask how many pets, but we’re a pretty pet-friendly bunch and show off our dog and cat co-workers during video calls; the “how many” in *our* case is interest, not judgment.

  19. Somewhere in Texas*

    I see that Alison was a good cat-fluence and now y’all are in equal footing with the number of cats. :)

    1. Too Many Cats*

      Ok what’s really funny is Kiwi is the name of my favorite cat from the litter!

      We haven’t really settled on a name…but it’s provably going to be Oreo

  20. Post Go-Live Smoke*

    “You’re too sensitive” often really means, “It’s more important for me to act like an arse than it is to behave in a civilized fashion.

  21. You want stories, I got stories*

    I didn’t even realize I needed a cat update until I saw one.

    My 19 year old cat sadly passed away on Thanksgiving, but he left on his own terms. My wife was going to take him to the vet on Tuesday to be put down, since he was doing so bad, but the cat had other plans and hid from her that morning. I found him laying in his cat bed like normal about an hour later. Wednesday he wandered the house, spent the day downstairs with my daughter, which he hasn’t done anything like that in years, staying primarily in the bedroom. Then passed away Thursday morning on Thanksgiving.

    So thank you very much for the cat update.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      One of my parent’s 3 cats passed away very similarly a few days ago. The other two cats stood vigil and kept her safe and she peacefully snoozed in the closet (which she never was interested in going into before) before slipping away into her next life. She was a rescue, so we’re not sure how old she was, but we think in her teens, and she had a wonderful life as the reigning Queen of the house for many years.

    2. Yvette*

      So sorry for your loss. And what a gift he gave you. Even when it is the right thing to do and should be done, having a pet put down is a difficult and heartbreaking act. He spared you that.

    3. I Have RBF*

      My condolences. Losing an older feline companion is always bittersweet.

      We lost two of ours, littermates, in the last year. I now do not have a cat that is “mine”.

  22. CubeFarmer*

    I didn’t see the original letter about the emails, but I recently noticed that every so often I move my mouse in just the right way, or I hit the wrong button on a keyboard, and I delete an email. I don’t share an inbox, and I can get the message back WHEN I notice it, but I’m sure that there have been a few times when I haven’t noticed an accidentally deleted email.

    What’s strange to me is that the LW never went to Jane and ask “Hey, I’ve noticed that it’s your messages that are being deleted. What’s happening? Is there a glitch that you’re dealing with?” and then follow up if it keeps happening. “Hey, these unanswered emails are in the trash.” But, yeah, if her supervisor won’t deal with it, then I don’t understand what she can do.

    1. jane's nemesis*

      I believe in the original letter, OP mentions that Jane acts just as baffled as everyone else when the deleted emails are discussed, so it sounded like they did what you’re suggesting.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I wonder if Jane’s desk is particularly cluttered, such that she has a weird hand posture when she’s mousing and accidentally deletes things in the way you mention.

  23. Cookies For Breakfast*

    Cat photo! Very unexpected, and so welcome :)

    I too have worked with people (pet owners, even) who were completely indifferent to conversations about pets. It felt weird and made small talk even harder. At my current workplace, we have an entire Slack channel for people to post pet photos, and it’s my favourite: so much cuteness, and gushing over pets brings together people from all corners of the world who never really meet or work together. So, you see, it has a business benefit!

    1. allathian*

      Oh yes, absolutely. My husband and MIL are severely allergic to cats and slightly less allergic to other furry creatures, so that’s one reason why we don’t have pets. At my job, we have a Viva Engage community where employees share photos and stories about their pets. It was particularly busy when at least 95 percent of us were fully remote between March 2020 and October 2021, and it’s still the most popular informal chat community.

  24. Timothy*

    Sometimes I think building the Internet was a mistake. Then I see a picture of a cat (like #4), and I realize .. building the Internet was OK after all. :)

  25. spiriferida*

    #1 congratulations! I hope that if/when you return to work, you won’t have to deal with this problem again.

    #3 I’m glad that Orion has been shaping up. I had to go back and reread some of the responses to your original letter, and I think that a lot of the pedantics about yelling were missing the point – regardless of how many decibels his voice increased when he was speaking, the fact that he was letting his frustration overpower his responses regularly was unprofessional and created a bad working environment for everyone. I’m glad that he’s taking steps to address it.

    1. OP 3*

      I think it wasn’t just yell pedants, but also some folks who find some yelling and spicy frustration ok at their workplace. I was genuinely interested to hear that, but I agree that the majority of people (myself included) would find it a bad environment. I too am glad he’s working on it! :-)

  26. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    What an adorable cat!! OP I’ve had 6 cats before and at the time that seemed just fine. I also had 3 medium to large dogs at the same time. And other than 1 cat absolutely hating Dog #3 it seemed normal. As the years progressed and nature took it’s course I was down to 1 dog and 3 cats. As the older 2 cats passed little kittens replaced them. I took in a puppy to keep Old Dog company. Cat # 1 passed (also a tuxedo) and I thought I’m not going to look for another kitty cause sooner or later one will show up needing a home. Puppy became a 2 year old and needed a puppy to play with. So that moved the count to 3 dogs, 2 cats with plans to eventually go to 3 cats again. Then the last puppies sibling ended up at the animal shelter and I recognised her. Told the staff I knew the dog and if she didn’t get adopted I’d come get her. (they were full and she was on a kennel cough hold with a possible adoption paused until she cleared) The prior possible adoption fell thru and I know have 1 Old Dog 1 2 year old dog, 2 8 month puppies (all very active medium to large breed mixes) and 2 younger cats who have been told they can’t have another baby brother or sister until the Wonder Twins have hit the brains kicking in stage. Some times life is just chaos for a season or two. I never minded the 6 cats 3 dogs days. (well 5 minutes at a time I might have) and I really enjoyed the 3 cats 1 dog days, but the current level is good too.

  27. LB33*

    I didn’t really understand how #1 benefitted Jane. Didn’t she end up working on those tasks anyway once you found them in the deleted folder?

    congrats on the twins :)

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Only the ones where there was followup. It is likely that some went down the memory hole.

    2. Saberise*

      Well when she originally was assigned them by deleting them it made her work load easier that OP since they are divided among them in half. And likely when they were added back into the mix OP got some of them as well or at the very least others to still keep them even. Unless OP said they were added on to Jane workload on top of her normal every other ones and I missed it.

  28. Former Retail Manager*

    I LOVE the cat update! I am also a cat lady (7 cats), but I decided long ago that I will not allow people’s negative connotations with certain words and phrases to bother me. I proudly wear the label of crazy cat lady. If I’d met you, I totally would have quizzed you about your cats….how many, what are their names, their personalities, alliances and feuds within the bunch, their favorite treats, etc. cause cats are the BEST! Glad to see another kitty off the streets living the pampered housecat life. That is how we acquired all of ours, except 1.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I like to point out that 8 cats takes less energy, time, and money than one human kid does. (I like human kids too, very much! But truly, a single one would be way more consuming of all those things than 8 cats are.)

  29. Meg*

    #1) its crazy to me that IT can’t get to the bottom of this. Though, tbf, I’m also on the side of thinking that Jane is deleting those emails. But, you know, maybe the manager will actually care when sh*t hits the fan while OP is out on leave and will *finally* have to address it.

  30. Skytext*

    LW1, I hope you have a lovely, long maternity leave. And perhaps things may sort themselves out in the meantime. It seems like you were the only person making sure these work emails got addressed. You went into the deleted folder, found them, then forwarded them on so they eventually got addressed. Without you there, it sounds like things will be falling through the cracks until things on fire, your boss gets her ass chewed because the stakeholders who sent the emails are furious, and maybe it will finally be addressed. Here’s hoping, and please let us know with another update later. Congratulations on your babies!

  31. I Speak for the Trees*

    I would totally be that one coworker asking about your cats, and wanting to know their names and habits… with pics, of course. I only have two (landlord rules), but would love to have more.

  32. JaneDough(not)*

    LW3, this is a great update — well done, you!

    Also: Your use of the names Orion, Andromeda, and Cassiopeia gave me great pleasure, as did “And I’ve just … realized that if they’re the llama groomer team, our job would be to dress the llamas in little outfits. That thought has cheered me immensely, and is also a reasonable metaphor for how much I like the work I’m doing.”, as did “your archives read like a crash course in how to human in the workplace.” You sound like a fascinating and kind person.

    With regard to some commenters having said that you’re “too sensitive” — no no no no NO. Everyone is calibrated differently, and there is no right or wrong. Elaine Aron has done a lot of research into, and has written for laypeople about, sensitivity; you might want to read her book “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.” Two crucial takeaways:
    ——- Many scientists have hypothesized that highly sensitive people are among us because they were the ones who, thousands of years ago, first perceived a threat and could then alert the rest of the clan. It’s a gift, not a disadvantage!
    ——- People who are highly sensitive tend to be very creative and insightful; they tend to be artists of all types, therapists and other healers, teachers — people who enhance our lives in myriad ways.

    1. OP 3*

      This is very kind! I also adopted the pseudonym Lyra in the comments. :-)

      I will put that book on my list! I’m also doing some work in therapy on coping with high sensory sensitivity, since I’m slowly realizing how much the loud, bright world can drain me.

      And at the heart of my question was my typical struggle to decide how much I adapt to the world, and how much I ask the world to adapt to me. As I get more confident that it’s ok to be sensitive, it’s much easier to ask for reasonable changes!

  33. borealis*

    OP#1: this might not at all be the same thing, but I have had issues for years with emails disappearing when I move them from my inbox to another mailbox in my Outlook app on a Mac. I’m a teacher, and create different mailboxes for different courses; unfortunately, it is not possible to sort incoming mail automatically into different folders so I need to do it manually, and sometimes the mail is removed from the inbox without turning up in the relevant mailbox. A couple of years ago, I moved a dozen messages that included attached files, and they all disappeared – those files were Powerpoint presentations that the students were going to use that same afternoon! At least one of my colleagues, also a Mac user, has been having the exact same problem. Apparently it has something to do with a message being moved just as the mail server is synching, so my solution (as recommended by the IT service people, who are very familiar with the bug/glitch) is to switch off WiFi for a couple of minutes while I sort my email.

    However, our disappearing messages do not appear in the Deleted folder, they disappear entirely from the server, so perhaps it’s completely unrelated to the same problem you have.

  34. Dust Bunny*

    My coworker’s kitten/cat, whom I found in some bushes near our office and crawled under a car in a brand-new dress to catch, got spayed yesterday. We were a bit worried since it turns out she has a mild blood-clotting disorder, but apparently it hasn’t slowed her down at all.

  35. Cami*

    #4 if it makes you feel better I have 4 dogs and a cat. By myself. And literally everyone in my life knows about them

  36. Lorac*


    It just occurred to me that Jane might be accessing the emails from her phone. On some phones, swiping the notification away a certain way might delete the email, which explains why only some are deleted and why she’s baffled at it happening.

  37. Another Lawyer*

    As someone who rescued and socialized four feral kittens this summer and ended up keeping one (almost two) of them, bringing my resident cat count to 3, I loved the update from #4. I also foster so there are always between 4 and 8-ish cats and kittens in my house. My coworkers know since there are always random cats popping up during Teams meetings. I never thought I’d have more than two but the Cat Distribution System works in mysterious ways…

  38. AuntCJ*

    I have had 5 cats at one time and I am almost always asked how many I have now! I foster, a lot, so the number varies at any given time. I currently have 3 of my own and 3 fosters! One foster is 21 years old, the other 2 are just under 1 year old! If I have quite a few I just show pics of how cute they are!

  39. goddessoftransitory*

    Such a sweet little man! His markings remind me of my dear Harvey. You’re doing God’s work, TooManyCats!

  40. zolk*

    LW #3 – Just reaffirming you are not too sensitive! My former boss screamed at me for three minutes straight in my last week there, and I just sat there stone faced, which I think peeved her off more. She continues to yell at my old team, sometimes booking special meetings just for yelling. I’m trying to help the best coworkers get out of there and into a healthy environment. (No one will fire old boss.)

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