updates: the flower collection, the kayaking, 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.

1. My boss collected money for flowers for me … and then kept it for herself

I talked to two of my most trustworthy coworkers. One being the person who told me she thought my supervisor was sending the flowers for my grandmother’s funeral. I expressed to them I had not received any condolences from my boss on their behalf and expressed my gratitude for their contributions when my grandmother passed.

Both asked me if I felt they should mention anything to our supervisor. I told them that was up to their own discretion. I stopped there and decided to not pursue anything with HR. I felt like it was more important to move on. At least, I was able to say thank you to my closest colleagues.

Then before our first staff meeting of the 2023 new year, our team was chatting together about our upcoming plans. I said that my husband and I were going to Florida in a few weeks to see my parents. This included visiting with my grandfather, who at 90 decided live in Florida with my parents after losing my grandmother. I had mentioned this new living situation to my supervisor and colleagues prior to this meeting.

I kid you not, my supervisor after I shared my upcoming plans asks me, “How’s your grandma doing in Florida?” (Wait. What?!? Grandma?) I quickly and rather coldly replied, “My grandmother has passed.” My supervisor got bright red and tried her best to cover her tracks by saying, “Oh yeah, I meant your grandpa. I got confused for just a moment.”

I said nothing more. I didn’t even acknowledge her clumsy attempts to correct herself. An uncomfortably long pause of weirdness loomed over the room for a while before conversation resumed. My most confidential coworker afterwards expressed to me how cringy it was to witness. My supervisor knew she had inconsiderately asked me about the well being of dead person. On top of that, she knew she was sitting on money collected to give the team’s condolences for my grandmother’s passing.

At beginning of March I received a text out of the blue from my supervisor stating in a very professional manner, “I am so sorry, I just realized I have been remiss in sending a condolence gift from our team for your grandmother.” Included was a $25 gift card to Starbucks.

I sent the following text of gratitude the team’s texting thread: “Thank you everyone for the $25 gift card to Starbucks in memory of my grandmother passing in October. I appreciate the thoughtfulness!”

My supervisor only five months down the road and after sticking her own foot in her mouth did finally produce the gift. In the end, she made good on her responsibility and promise to our team to provide a gift on their behalf. However, not before embarrassing herself in front of her team and giving me the opportunity to point out her massive tardiness.

2. My HR director won’t stop asking me to go kayaking (#3 at the link)

I never had another conversation with the director about kayaking, she ended up having a medical issue during the summer that had her out of the office more than in it. I also made it a point when I did see her not to mention any of my kayaking adventures. I figured since it wasn’t resolved this year that it will be revisited next year. My plan next summer is to let her know that I rarely plan my kayaking trips in advance and that my weekends are filled with social engagements with my friends and family. I’m sure I’ll come up with the perfect wording before then. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to share the link you posted and let her know after seeing that I have given up kayaking all together.

3. My company is pressuring us to donate huge amounts of money to a coworker

Unfortunately, things have not improved. Jane continues to abuse the bereavement policy. She is out an average of two days a week. In fact, one of Jane’s direct reports (Nancy) recently lost her father. Nancy was out for two days, but back on day three because Jane had informed her she couldn’t be gone longer than two days because Jane planned to take the rest of the week off to continue her bereavement.

Jane also sent out a company-wide email letting us know we should “work harder” to make sure we wrapped up reports early because she planned to take the month of November off to commemorate her husband’s passing.

Jane’s direct boss has expressed dismay to our team about the situation, but apparently his hands are tied as her BFF status with the CEO trumps all.

4. My coworker snooped through my personal files and found my salary (#2 at the link)

I ended up not going to my manager and instead taking it as a lesson in workplace file responsibility. The point many commenters made about people stumbling on things during a search was well-made too. I moved all of my files out of the shared drive and didn’t bring it up again with Stacy or Annie. I think I was pretty naive and oblivious to workplace norms of shared drives considering my previous manager had saved all of her personal files there too (labeled “Medical,” “Taxes,” etc.), and I had never gone through them.

Annie ended up taking medical leave due to mental health related reasons, which our office wholeheartedly supported. I just got a promotion finalized, which means a 13% salary bump on top of my 4.5% merit increase this year. My advancement is still a touchy subject with Annie, and she cried when she saw me the morning after the promotion was announced, but she did congratulate me. I have a lot of sympathy for her as we started out in the same position with the same title and salary band, and now my title is much more specialized with a significantly higher salary band as the work we now do is very different. I’m sure it’s hard for her, but I’m optimistic we can continue a positive working relationship.

{ 155 comments… read them below }

  1. ChemistryChick*

    OP #1, you put on an absolute master class in “Returning Awkward to Sender” and I love it. Well done for not trying to make it more comfortable for your supervisor to continue to put her foot in it.

    1. Alice*

      I feel bad for the boss. Obviously they shouldn’t have dropped that ball, but — I hope my colleagues tell me when they notice I’ve made a mistake. Better for everyone to resolve the problem than to seethe for months.

      1. Silver Robin*

        But the supervisor knew. OP reached out to the supervisor early on to say the flowers never came (OP thought it was the florist’s fault) and supervisor clarified that they 1) never ordered flowers and 2) were planning on getting something else. OP thanked the colleagues she knew about and told them about the money issue, and then let them decide how to handle it.

        What else was OP supposed to do? Check in every week to ask about the owed gift? That is more for the colleagues who donated to follow up on, it is their money and their well wishes.

        As for the meeting issue, OP did nothing rude. OP understandably has run out of good will towards the supervisor (at minimum, supervisor is careless/thoughtless and at worst a thief!) and did not soften it, but that is a kindness, not an obligation.

        1. Willow Pillow*

          Yes! Waiting/delaying/inaction is still an action. It’s often a good choice for a bit, I find – not rushing to action based on my first initial impression has frequently helped me. The manager’s choice in continuing to not act has consequences, though.

          (Also, LW1 is my hero today for self-asserting!)

      2. CommanderBanana*

        …did you read the original post? The supervisor behaved abominably, and I would be willing to bet that the amount she received was more than $25.

        One of my biggest pet peeves is people offering to do something for or on behalf of other people and then not doing it. Not only did you not do what you said you would do, but you also prevented other people from doing it by offering to do it yourself and then failing to follow through.

        1. E*

          i was waiting for a coworker going “wait, there should have been at least X in there, I know just three if us alone gave more than 25 total…”

          1. 1LFTW*

            Yeah, I’m side-eyeing the idea that the LW’s colleagues only contributed $25. Floral arrangements are expensive.

        2. PhyllisB*

          Yep. That happened to me when I got married. My office took up a collection to get me a wedding gift, and the gift I received was a $5,00 sherbet dish. That would have been fine, but there was over 20 names on the card that accompanied it. The custom was to write your thank you note and post on the bulletin board. I did so, thanking them for the sherbet dish. Very soon someone informed me that they had collected enough to buy a full place setting of my China pattern, over $100.00. The woman collecting admitted she had more money and intended to “make it up” to me. Forty seven years later, I’m still waiting. ;) Lesson learned: don’t let this person be in charge of collections anymore.

          1. 1-800-BrownCow*

            I was forewarned about a person who did something similar at a previous job. When something big happened, a certain employee would go around and collect money. She would still turn out a large sum or purchase a pricey gift with the money, but people who knew her well said that she always pocketed a portion of the money she collected. Thankfully, I had a position that let me decline contributing money and I would do something separate for the receiver. It’s sad people do that.

            1. Interrobang*

              I do the exact opposite. I’ve collected for a few baby showers and each time I’ve probably spent over $100 more than I collected :) I just can’t help myself when it comes to baby stuff.

        3. Momma Bear*

          That was my thought, that she still kept a good chunk of the money for herself. Flowers cost much more than $25. If I were any of her employees, I would not trust her with collecting funds for anything in the future. I’d donate directly.

        4. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, I don’t think anyone at work should pressured to give a certain amount so I guess it’s impossible to say for sure unless a coworker says something to OP… but that amount is certainly less than I would have guessed was the total collected.

      3. Ellie*

        What? No, she stole the money – there’s no way the team meant to give her a $25 Starbucks voucher for a bereavement. That’s so insulting.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          I wonder if she received the Starbucks voucher for something unrelated and then decided to give that to OP.

        2. Annie*

          I agree. Flowers cost more than that. $25 is nothing. I also agree with Captain dddd, she probably got the card from someone else, and just passed it on to the LW rather than the $40-$80 for flowers.

      4. CubeFarmer*

        Nah, that boss was not a “colleague” in the traditional sense, she was the boss.

        The only way to possibly recover from that would have been to send a remorseful email to the employees who donated, apologizing for dropping the ball, and then asking what they preferred to do. Still flowers? A Starbucks card? Something else?

        I hope that it was just a huge mistake, but I don’t know. People get weird about money.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      So OP’s supervisor sounds terrible, but I have some sympathy for the Grandma/Grandpa mix-up. OP would know better than I would how much the supervisor knew about the grandmother and her death, but with the level of detail my colleagues commonly share it would absolutely be possible to misremember something like that a few months later without it being a sign of malice or horrible callousness.

      Also, people have multiple grandmothers! It’s entirely possible to make that kind of slip thinking that someone’s talking about the other side of the family. Or about someone on the in-laws side, etc.

      Not using the collected money for a gift is pretty horrible, though.

        1. Frickityfrack*

          That was my thought – while it’s totally possible that the entire team only contributed $25 total, I would be fairly surprised if that was the case. I really wish OP had asked one of their coworkers if they knew even roughly how much was collected to see if the boss was still keeping some of it for herself.

          1. Janeric*

            I think OP mentioning the amount in the group thread is a good sign that they knew, and I also think that it’s probably very healthy of them to not dig anymore on this issue.

        2. Aelswitha*

          Exactly. What size of arrangement can you get for $25, do we think? Hoping for a further update here.

        3. WellRed*

          There’s no way she spent all the flower money in that gift card unless OPs coworkers contributed very little (which is gin

        4. Goldenrod*

          This is exactly what I came here to say! As an EA who frequently orders flowers for these types of situations, you’re looking at $80 being the absolute cheapest order. I think you’d probably get 3 carnations for 25 bucks!

          My guess is that the boss bought that small gift card and pocketed the rest.

          (And just my two cents – I don’t think it’s terrible to forget that an employee’s grandmother died…But if you are the same person who stole that same person’s condolence gift, than yeah, it is terrible!)

          1. CommanderBanana*

            That was what I assumed! Outside of a Trader Joe’s you can’t get a bouquet for under $25, and absolutely not if you are getting it delivered to someone.

          2. Aquamarine*

            It’s possible only $25 was collected which wasn’t enough for flowers, and that’s what led to the initial delay. If that’s the case, I don’t put any blame on the coworkers – they may not have been in a position to donate more.

            The boss still sucks though, obviously. She needed to get an alternative gift together much, much sooner.

            1. Ellie*

              The supervisor should have paid the difference herself and still ordered the flowers. If she honestly couldn’t do that, she should have made a charity donation in OP’s grandmother’s honor for $25, and sent a card with the details in it. I’m convinced she stole the money. It wouldn’t even surprise me if the Starbucks card was a regift from somewhere else, and had nothing to do with the collection.

              I’m really sorry OP that you had to deal with this horrible person at such a difficult time.

              1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

                > The supervisor should have paid the difference herself and still ordered the flowers.

                I don’t agree with this; managers/supervisors have some responsibilities that fall to them by default (covering in an emergency if no one else can, etc) but contributing a lot of their own money to make the gift up to what it ‘should’ be isn’t one of them.

                1. dot*

                  If the supervisor specified (as it says in the original letter) that the intention was to buy flowers, then yes absolutely she should have covered the rest, or clarified to the team that not enough money was collected and that she would pick out something else with the amount of money.

            2. AnotherOne*

              yeah but- in my office- that’s when more senior managers pull out their wallets and cover the extra.

          3. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

            Yeah! I spotted in bylaws for our union that in the case of a death in the family, you can spend up to $50 for flowers and claim it back. I’ve got it noted that the next time the bylaws are updated to update the amounts for inflation as 50 bucks at a florists these days won’t get you far.

            I was surprised it was only $25 collected, unless it’s a very small team.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, not using the collected money is bad. But a slip-up in speaking? I could see myself doing that, either by my mouth not working right or my brain not remembering right (or at all). We remember our own relatives much better than those of our co-workers, especially after time has passed.

        1. Silver Robin*

          I find this interesting because in my head the conversation is:

          OP: I am going down to Florida to visit my grandfather and parents

          Sup: oh, lovely! And how is your grandmother?


          Sup: of course, I meant your grandfather…

          I could potentially see brain fart at work even at that proximity to the correct word, but given the context of OP having discussed their grandmother repeatedly with the supervisor both before and after death, including following up with sup about the owed condolence gift, I totally absolutely sympathize with why OP was not really in a place to give the sup much grace.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, it was the same conversation and basically an immediate reaction by the supervisor, not a vague reference to it a few days later or similar.

            OP mentions parents and grandfather, supervisor realises OP doesn’t mention grandmother and, knowing that grandfathers often come as a package with grandmothers, asks about her. It would be one thing if she said “sorry, I misspoke” but the fact that she didn’t shows that she did mean the grandmother who died; you don’t really get “confused” about something like that when it’s been literally just mentioned.

            Of course people have two grandmothers and it’s entirely normal for supervisors to not keep track of which specific grandparent did X or is Y but after this whole ordeal, I can totally understand OP not wanting to be gracious here.

        2. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

          I agree, it’s understandable that after such deeply untrustworthy and selfish behavior from the supervisor that OP would be a little bit at BEC stage with her, but the grandfather/grandmother mixup/misspeak itself is pretty understandable.

          Even if it feels like the boss should, of course, know that the grandma had passed, since she was misappropriating the funds related to that, that doesn’t mean that she remembers what exact relation to OP the person in question was. (Besides, people have two of each.)

          When it’s your relative, who they are is extremely obvious and important, but for a coworker, most people would mentally file it as, “OP’s relative passed away” but not necessarily which one.

          Not trying to defend the boss on any of the other obviously scummy behavior, but I do feel like it’s important to have a sense of perspective when someone who is otherwise pretty scummy does some thing that’s actually not that legitimate to fault them for.

        3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          I will admit that I made this slip-up with my WIFE. She wasn’t super close to her grandma, but was understandably sad when grandma died, and I was supportive and all the things you’re supposed to be at the time.

          Nine, or eighteen, or however-many months later, we got the annual box of citrus fruit that had historically been sent “from grandma” (though I’m pretty sure it’s always been my mother-in-law who actually makes the order, at least as long as I’ve been in the picture), and I, as wife was opening the box, I said, without thinking about it too much, “Oh, from your grandma?” or something to that effect.

          My wife was not amused, but also she got it — the context was different, it wasn’t MY grandma, her death didn’t make a significant difference in our day-to-day lives…

          I would find it so much easier to slip up with a coworker, especially now that we’re all remote. (Mind you, I would avoid asking a coworker, largely because I know I’m not tracking their extended family that well.)

        4. Janeric*

          I do think that even under those circumstances OP’s response is still entirely polite — it’s fine to be a little stiff and chilly about a lost relative. Grief is hard.

        5. IneffableBastard*

          But this is the exact reason this is a time for caution. “Oh, how is your grandfather doing?” will likely give you more information without committing a gaffe. “He is very ill, so we will be helping my grandma to care for him”, or “good, my grandma is planning him a surprise birthday party”, or “grief is taking a big toll on him” are possible answers so one knows how to react properly.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I think the way she reacted is what makes it bad. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize” or “oh no, I can’t believe I forgot” or otherwise sounding genuine and apologetic would make it okay. Getting visibly flustered and trying to “cover” the error *could* also be an okay response, but paired with the gift money stuff it just comes across less sincere and more like she knows she’s in the wrong.

      3. Kali*

        Yeah, I think the boss is horrible and totally kept the money, but slip-ups in talking isn’t a show of malice most of the time. I once asked a coworker how her mom handled her family of 6 boys, and my coworker reminded me that not only had her mom passed, but she had passed only a couple months before (and we had all known about it as she’d taken leave during a big work thing when that’s not normally done). I was mortified and apologized, of course – it just completely went out of my brain. More than a decade ago, and it still makes me cringe.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, while it’s awkward and embarrassing I think it’s fairly normal and understandable to not remember which family members died for acquaintances/coworkers–though the fact that this was on top of having forgotten to send the condolence gift she took responsibility for makes it WAY more awkward and embarrassing.

    1. Jane's Addiction*

      Makes me want to change my name so that I can be that untouchable nepo-baby with a 6+ figure salary while working part time.

  2. sunny days are better*

    If you were to look up the definition to: “milking a situation for all it’s worth,” you would likely find a picture of Jane.

    So much wow!

    The chutzpah of her to then turn around and deny Nancy her 3rd bereavement day is just the cherry on the asshole sundae.

    LW (and Nancy!) need to get out of that place…

    1. sparkle emoji*

      And the coworker from the original letter who lost their 11-year-old and was held to 3 days. Mass exodus, please!

    2. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Or alert the local media to this fiasco if it’s a well-known company in the area. And THEN leave.

    3. A person*

      There absolutely should’ve been intervention from management on that… Jane can insist all she wants, management should still be letting the other person take their bereavement leave… also… only 3 days for immediate family members? That’s ridiculous. I know my workplace has pretty generous leave policies but parents, spouses, kids at least should be at least a week… planning a funeral (especially with a sudden death) is not a 3 day endeavor! It is longer than that! Ridiculous that they care so little about their other employees and are allowing this one to abuse policies and coworkers so blatantly. Don’t hire friends of managers!

      1. Zelda*

        “management should still be letting the other person take their bereavement leave”

        This is the line for me. Jane is terrible enough, but allowing the situation to deprive other employees of their rightful benefits is a whole other level. Hire a temp, let the emails go unanswered and the reports unfiled, whatever, but no one should be asked to give up anything to which they are entitled to cover for Jane.

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      That whole situation is absolutely and completely disgusting. I’m incensed that it continues and I hope with all my heart that Jane and whoever is enabling her (the CEO and his wife, among others) somehow get outed to the public and run out of town. Perhaps when OP, Nancy, and the poor coworker who lost their child all quit and report them to the press or something.

      Flames…flames, on the side of my face……..

  3. Bruce*

    #4 my company switched over to using Onedrive, and I only recently realized that people were trying to search for files there that were linked to my hard drive. They did not get access right away, and it was technical material they had good reason to be interested in, but I also have a folder that includes management and personnel related files going back more than 20 years. I figured out how to protect that folder pretty quick!

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      OneDrive makes a SHOCKING amount of information visible and I often have trouble finding what it’s even saved/shared. It makes me very hesitant to use it!

      1. pope suburban*

        Yes, I really enjoy the utility of OneDrive but I don’t trust it with anything that’s not work product. When I was using it heavily during covid shutdowns, I became aware without trying that one colleague was updating her resume (Not a surprise but still, oof, not something you want broadcast), and I could have opened people’s employee reviews, though of course I did not. There’s just everything all out there without requiring any digging.

    2. There You Are*

      Uh, so if I click on “[OneDrive cloud icon] Share” when I right-click on the folder name, and it isn’t shared with anyone, I’m good, right?

      1. Bruce*

        I don’t know. I was surprised that I got notifications that a coworker wanted to look at one of my hard-drive files. I’m still not confident I locked down the files I needed to.

      2. Tammy 2*

        If your company is using eDiscovery, documents on your OneDrive will be findable regardless of folder permissions. People with access to search are typically in compliance, IT, HR, legal, etc. Don’t keep anything personal there. Don’t keep anything personal on your work devices. Ever. Period.

  4. Ally McBeal*

    So, who else thinks that OP1’s coworkers donated a lot more (cumulatively) than $25? But OP handled it perfectly.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I absolutely do. You can’t get a bouquet for that much outside of a grocery store, and you certainly can’t get one delivered for that little.

      Wonder if the supervisor has sticky fingers in general.

    2. Emelius*

      3…. I cannot believe that the CEO of this company is allowing this to go on. If I were you I would start job hunting immediately and get out of there as soon as possible. I would encourage your co-workers to do the same. perhaps it’s the company experiences a mass exodus of their good workers, the CEO might finally wise up and do something.

        1. Jolene*

          Yeah, I was extremely confused by that choice as well. “I’m so sorry for your loss. Have 4 extremely expensive cups of coffee on us.”

          1. Silver Robin*

            there was a thread on this topic ages ago on a different post where several folks actually said they appreciated restaurant gift cards and similar. It made it easier to go outside the house and do something kind for themselves when they needed it. I can kind of see giving someone a Starbucks card as similar: here, get yourself a treat on us while you sort through everything.

            But!! The optics of this are of hasty a** covering and I am not about it.

            1. metadata minion*

              I’d actually rather have a coffee gift card than flowers, though I recognize that flowers are a shared cultural expression of condolence. Coffee I can enjoy whenever I want; flowers I get to watch slowly die and then have to clean up.

              1. Beth**

                This is why flowers are not considered appropriate for a funeral/mourner in Jewish tradition.

                When my father died, one of my non-Jewish friends had flowers sent to my family. I wasn’t offended, but I was glad those were the only ones we got.

            2. MigraineMonth*

              I think that food is a traditional condolence gift in many traditions for death, sickness or other challenging life situations. In my culture, it’s meant to nourish the family through the hard times and generally leans towards comfort food. The long-distance/food-sensitivities equivalent is a food delivery gift certificate (I’ve received and given GrubHub gift certificates) or maybe a gift certificate to a restaurant that does delivery.

              Starbucks doesn’t seem like it meets the “nourish the family” standard.

          2. Trotwood*

            One of my friends (also an AAM reader) received a condolence card from her work after her grandfather died, and her double-boss tucked a $20 bill inside of it, as if that’s an appropriate condolence gift. Her boss sheepishly wrote “Money from Fergus” inside the card before giving it to her, so she’d know exactly who was responsible…

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I’m just going to point out that while it was jarring to me the first time I was asked to donate, in some cultures it is standard to take up a collection for the family to cover funeral costs and bereavement time. Preferably that would be *significantly* more than $20, but sending cash instead of flowers/food/gift certificates is preferred/opposite of callous in some circumstances.

            2. Polly Gone*

              I’ve found that money in condolence cards is definitely a thing among most of my co-workers. It seemed incongruous to me but I learned that it was expected to take up a collection for a cash gift when a co-worker was bereaved.

    3. morethantired*

      My exact thought. Also, it wouldn’t have been hard to look up the obituary to see where donations should be made in the person’s honor instead of giving a Starbucks gift card. Even if she didn’t want to bother looking it up, it seems more appropriate to have just asked where the LW would like the gift money to go. Part of me suspects the Starbucks gift card was a re-gift.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        But the “gift card” was attached to a text? Can you re-gift a virtual gift card? (Not being snarky, legit don’t know.)

        1. whingedrinking*

          If you use the Starbucks app, I think you can load value from gift cards into your account. I don’t know if you can then use that value to buy a virtual gift card for someone else, but it seems like it wouldn’t be impossible.

  5. Bruce*

    LW1… as a widower I’m going “WOW”… I had very generous bereavement, spent 2 weeks out of the office with some WFH… but would not have ever run a fundraiser from my co-workers! If they did not have life insurance it is a shame, but it sucks for the company to be hitting you guys up and also badly treating the other bereaved people. Face palm!

    1. Ink*

      I don’t know that I buy that they didn’t. Jane is so flagrant in all of this, it comes off like she’d gladly abuse it even if she had a billion dollars in the bank. It’s not like she doesn’t know about all those different fundraisers, but someone refsing to let an employee take a third bereavement day hile she herself is gone nearly half the time isn’t going to pipe up about a life insurance payout if she thinks that might make the donations taper off

  6. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

    OP #3: I _just_ commented that I was hoping for an update on this letter. That sucks that it has gotten worse. I’m going to guess that nothing further has been done for the employee who lost a child.(I hope she left for something better!)

    1. Artemesia*

      I lost an adult child this past year and the idea that with loss of a young child, two days should suffice is monstrous. Few people can function within a few days of loss of a spouse or child. This company deserves to have all its key employees who are not BFF of the CEO find better jobs elsewhere.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I heartily agree. Everyone who has lost a loved one deserves the support they need, it’s unfortunate that so many have to try and manage without it.

        I hope all of them find better jobs so the CEO finally has to do something about broken stair Jane. Her grief is real enough, but it doesn’t trump anyone else’s grief.

  7. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*


    Jane is a ****. She and her CEO definitely need to be in the running for worst boss.

  8. Observer*

    #4 – Congratulations on the raise and promotion. Also, kudos to you for taking this as a learning opportunity! Also for your graciousness.

    But I have to say that I gasped when I read that ” my previous manager had saved all of her personal files there too (labeled “Medical,” “Taxes,” etc.)”

    That is just . . . no words. But very bad judgement. Good for you that you never looked into that stuff – it’s totally the right way to go. But please continue to NOT take a lesson from her. It’s just a really, really bad idea.

    1. Biglawex*

      I know a lot of in house counsel like this.

      Folks who’ve never had a personal email or computer and who kept things on the shared drive. I never looked. But maybe others did…

      (It also came up in litigation discovery. So much personal stuff on work computers).

      I honestly assume it’s pretty common….

  9. JaneDough(not)*

    LW1, you handled a rotten situation with grace.

    I can’t help noting that a gift card to Starbucks — a gift card to any chain retail establishment — is an indescribably tacky way to show sympathy for a death. And, I have trouble believing that a team with 6 other ppl (LW specified in the original letter that the whole team was 7) contributed only $25.

    Bad bad bad boss.

    1. Artemesia*

      A gift card for meals from local good take out places is a great bereavement gift where there is an immediate family loss. Starbucks not so much. When my son died, every floral arrangement that arrived just made me cry. I know they are traditional and appreciated the good will, but they just reinforced the sadness.

      1. allathian*

        My condolences for your loss, even at this late date.

        I’m guessing that Jane spent all of the money on herself. Maybe she got a Starbucks gift card she didn’t have any use for as a gift herself, and decided to give it to the LW?

        I’m honestly a bit upset that she got away with petty theft. I sure hope she’s not allowed to be in charge of any other gift collections in future.

      2. Sanibel Island*

        When my mother passed away, my two best friends gave me an UberEats gift card so I could order food from wherever I wanted and didn’t have to worry about cooking. Food and food gift cards are better than flowers IMO.

        Also, my condolences on your loss as well.

        1. JustaTech*

          When my friend’s dad died mid-COVID we brought food because we’re local and my parents and my in-laws sent DoorDash cards.
          (I made a pasta salad I know they all love, so it would be something to tempt their appetites and that could go straight from fridge to face at 2am. I also made a batch gluten-free for the family member with celiac, because everyone tends to forget him.)

  10. Frickityfrack*

    LW3, I’d be looking for a new job so hard. If the CEO runs the business like this in this regard, I can’t imagine it’s the only toxic thing in an otherwise amazing environment. That place is messed up and it’s pretty clear the company absolutely doesn’t have anyone’s back unless there’s a personal relationship at stake.

    1. WellRed*

      Right?! A high volume sales pro is going to be in demand. Get out and stop giving money to the company fundraisers. Or say you donated to Janes GoFundMe.

  11. Flossy*

    OP1: sorry, but anywhere I’ve worked would not give a rats if you’ve lost your grandmother. It’s very much a case of “oh, okay; take personal leave and be done with it.”. Absolutely not condoning this because I think it’s trash.

    So sorry for your loss and hope you’re doing as well as you can be.

    1. Broadway Duchess*

      This may be dependent on a number of factors. I lost two grandmothers 14 months apart and both times, my managers (I got a promotion between the two deaths, so different managers) sent flowers and someone organized a card for when I got back. I work for a large, national healthcare company for a data point.

    2. Kiwi*

      when my grandmother passed away I emailed my boss asking about our bereavement policy (new job, no written handbook).

      not only no condolences, he didn’t even respond to the email (and then it turned out our bereavement policy was “none”). A month later my coworkers grandmother died and they arranged flowers to be delivered from the company to the funeral home, etc. I absolutely do not begrudge that hers was handled well, but it did hurt just from a personal standpoint.

      I don’t work there anymore.

    3. darsynia*

      I think ‘who died’ was the least of it! The theft and blatant stalling along with not having the grace to realize they were caught out is the problem.

    4. Mighty K*

      Sure, but if that’s the case then just don’t do a collection for flowers?
      It’s the doing a collection and then not sending the flowers that’s the problem here

    5. Pia*

      I’m sorry you have worked in such horrible places, and hope you will find employment at a decent company soon.

    6. LuAnne Platter*

      Sorry, but-

      Your bad workplaces don’t make LW1’s bad experience okay.

      I’m sure you didn’t mean your comment to sound harsh, but the language you chose sounds like you’re shrugging off LW1’s problem as “normal”.

    7. whingedrinking*

      My grandmother passed away about ten years ago and in terms of what I got from my employer, it was basically, “I’m sorry for your loss, of course you can have three days off for the funeral”. That’s fine, I wasn’t actually expecting anything else. But if my coworkers had said, “Did you get the flowers and the card?” and it turned out my supervisor had a) stolen money from them and b) made me look like an ungrateful duck turd who couldn’t be bothered to even say thank you for their generosity, I’d be pretty steamed too.

  12. Typing All The Time*

    OP 1: I wonder if more money was collected. Someone else should take over for that responsibility.

  13. Typing All The Time*

    OP 3: I hope all the donations to Jane have ceased and everyone gets acknowledgement of what they’ve contributed. If Jane can take as much time off as she wants, then management can deal with the related costs.

  14. FrivYeti*

    Re: OP #3

    I am eternally grateful that I haven’t worked in an environment like this, because if I heard about Jane denying someone a third day of bereavement leave to one of my direct co-workers so that Jane could continue her year of bereavement, the things that I would say to Jane would be a fireable offense.

    Just absolutely aghast.

  15. Bronze Betty*

    I have a feeling that Jane’s bereavement will never be over. At minimum, she will commemorate her husband’s passing every November; her bereavement will likely also include certain days every month ad infinitum (for example: he passed on the 2nd Friday of the month, so those Fridays will always be so, so sad for her so she can’t work those days, of course).

    1. Cats ate my croissant*

      “Tomorrow is the anniversary of when I first yelled at him to put the loo seat down. Bear me away to the fainting couch forthwith!”

      1. Expelliarmus*

        At least Queen Victoria’s grief didn’t impede anyone else’s ability to grieve their loved ones

      2. TypityTypeType*

        Well, Queen Victoria grieved her loss with dignity. Continuing to wear mourning was an unusual but unobtrusive choice, and she did her duty for the rest of her life. Jane is … doing somewhat less than that!

        1. whingedrinking*

          “Your Majesty, if you could just meet with the Prime Minister for a *few* minutes so he can obtain your consent to convene Parliament- ”
          “We are not over it yet!”

  16. Ccbac*

    #4: it had never crossed my mind that anything on a shared drive wasn’t …. shared. I’ve always assumed all docs were there for everyone to access/look at. I’d assume anything that was private wouldn’t be on the shared drive or would be in a locked/limited access folder.

    1. WellRed*

      I can’t even tell what’s automatically being saved To one drive and what’s not. Our introduction to it was a little brief.

      1. i like hound dogs*

        Same. I got no introduction at all to OneDrive when I started work (at a Fortune 500 company!) and months later realized I had never … turned it on.

        1. JustaTech*

          I was kind of excited to use OneDrive until I realized I couldn’t figure out where it was to re-open my files (still haven’t figured that out properly) so I just don’t use it. (We also got no introduction/training.)

    2. ConstantlyComic*

      I’m lucky that items on OneDrive are all shared… I had to go recover all of my files after an IT tech accidentally deleted my entire OneDrive during a virtual desktop migration.

  17. That wasn't me. . .*

    Why?? Why would anyone think a Starbucks card was an appropriate way to acknowledge the loss of your Grandmother? Are you supposed to go get bombed on coffee and drown you sorrows (even if it wasn’t months late). There is no such things as a “condolence gift!” Food sent is meant to be helpful, to feed the funeral guest and spare the mourners cooking. Flowers were meant to beautify the church and the bare grave, so it doesn’t look stark. (More practically, they covered any unpleasant smells) And memorial gifts honor the dead. And of course, if people were giving enough for a flower arrangement, that $25 gift card was probably only a quarter of what was collected.

    1. Anonymint*

      Well I really appreciated a coffee shop gift card when my Mom died. I don’t think a Starbucks gift card is in itself a horrible insult, even if this manager got it wrong.

    2. Silver Robin*

      some folks use their coffee order as their happy treat for the day, I can see wanting to give a mourning person a way to treat themselves past the initial dirty flurry around the funeral.

      the bigger problem is poor graces around the situation, being months late, and probably stealing some of the money.

    3. londonedit*

      I think this must be a cultural/regional thing, because my reaction was also ‘how is this an appropriate way of sending condolences’ but apparently others think it’s fine!

    4. Irish Teacher*

      While in this case, it sounds like the supervisor was covering her behind, I don’t see anything wrong with giving somebody a gift to let them know you are thinking of them at a difficult time. That sounds reasonable to me, even if there isn’t a specific tradition behind it.

      So long as a gift isn’t offensive (say giving baby clothes to somebody whose child died or something), I’d think it a nice gesture.

    5. metadata minion*

      Please remember when you describe traditions like this that they are from a specific culture that the LW and/or gift-givers may not actually belong to.

    6. 1-800-BrownCow*

      I love coffee but can’t stand Starbucks as it’s not very good coffee if you drink your coffee black, like me. I can’t stand flavoring or sweet stuff so I would not enjoy Starbucks gift card. Honestly, if giving a gift card, one for UberEats or one of those food delivery services would be better.

  18. By Tuesday It’s Been a Long Week*

    I’ll be petty enough to suggest that she repurposed a Starbucks card she’d received.

  19. Richard Hershberger*

    #2 relates to the earlier discussion of ice breakers and how they can help make a personal connection. Here we have just that personal connection: a shared love of kayaking. Does this make for a healthier and happier work environment? Quite the opposite. The LW has, a laid out in the original letter, good reasons to minimize contact with this person. The shared interest makes this more difficult, and is a potential professional liability.

    1. Gemstones*

      I think that LW is way overthinking things. A colleague asked her to go kayaking, she said yes on several occasions and never followed up, the colleague brought it up again…and then the LW wondered why the person asked about kayaking. I don’t think the answer here is “Don’t make personal connections”; I think the answer here is don’t be vague and passive. Even now the LW is “making a point” of…not bringing it up? And sending a whale attack news story. All this could have been solved with a “I generally prefer to kayak on my own, but thanks for offering.” It’s an invitation to kayak, not a jury duty summons.

    2. Katie A*

      The shared interest in kayaking is not the problem here. There really isn’t much of a problem at all, to be honest, since the HR director appears to have been polite and not pushy regarding the kayaking. She just asks, the LW responds positively and says they are also interested in going kayaking together, and then it happens again. Making vague plans and then never following through is a common and unproblematic way people express they like each other.

      The only real issue is that the LW is hesitant to be straightforward and say they aren’t interested in going kayaking together because the HR director is a petty person when people upset her. That’s the actual issue, a petty/vindictive HR director.

      Knowing about shared interests is going to be useful or neutral almost all of the time, and when it isn’t, the problem is almost certainly something deeper than knowing things about your coworkers.

      1. Gemstones*

        Exactly. And there are a lot of situations where it could have gone the other way. In another setting, two people go kayaking and become close friends who stay in touch after leaving the job, etc. I get that not everyone has to be best buds in the workplace, but sometimes people do connect. (Which helps when you want to network, find a new job, etc…)

    3. Nancy*

      No, the issue here is the LW was vague and gave the impression that she would go sometime. A simple ‘No thank you, I’m too busy on weekends’ or even just ‘No thank you’ would have ended the questions.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The original letter is clear that the LW believes it necessary to walk on eggshells with this person.

      2. Always Tired*

        I thought the same. I had a boss who was VERY petty and had no work/life boundaries. She tracked me down on social media then followed up in person when I didn’t accept the friends request. I gave a polite but firm explanation that while I appreciated how close our working relationship was, it was important for me to have my personal life and work life separate, and I never have current coworkers as social media friends besides on Linkedin. It took her about a week but once she saw I really didn’t have coworkers on social media or hang out outside work functions, she let it go.

        Framing it as a personal boundary about coworkers in general (and actually living it) makes it difficult to question or or take personally.

    4. Le Anon*

      I can’t quite tell if this is meant to be humorous, an actual criticism, or some of both. But the discovery of a shared interest is not the problem here, a difficult person being difficult is the problem. That kind of person will find a way to be a pain regardless.

  20. r.*


    your CEO sucks. I am sorry. Especially the situation around Nancy really is rough.

    Unfortunately I do not think that either your CEO or Jane would change, except through external circumstances. If you want to leave the company over this, you’d be entirely justified, and I’d applaud you for it.

    If you want to stick around, years ago someone gave me a bit of advice how to handle ‘white elephants’ and other types of Janes that helped me a lot, and that may also be of use to you:

    Don’t focus on that Jane isn’t doing her job. Focus on how you’re affected by it.

    Jane wants you to finish your reports early so she can take a month off? You now need an assistant that covers for Jane when she isn’t around. Jane is making mistakes that causes you to work on weekends? Your company needs an escalation manager that handles those things. Jane keeps confusing teapots with coffee makers? You now need a very expensive teapot that is also a coffee maker.

    Turn it from a question about Jane as a person into a question about resources and staffing.

    And if your CEO is happy to fund both Jane and the people that do the actual work Jane ought to have been doing, that’s probably the best modus vivendi you will be able to achieve at this company.

    1. Anonymous For Now*

      Great approach. Either the CEO will get them the extra staffing/assistance they need or it might open his eyes to what Jane is actually costing the company.

      I didn’t see anything about whether or not the CEO is also the owner of the company. If not, then he reports to someone, such as a Board of Directors. Imagine their shock if they were to receive a detailed report of all that has been going on with regard to Jane!

  21. Friendo*

    Re: LW 4. Annie cried when she saw you in the office the next day? In front of LW? That seems, not great!

    1. MouseMouseMouse*

      Yeah, that caught me off-guard — not really a professional reaction to a colleague’s promotion!

Comments are closed.