a creepy interview invitation, a false rumor I had a physical fight with a coworker, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

Due to the quantity of updates we have, posts on Thursday will publish at 11 am, 12:30 pm, 2 pm, 3:30 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm (all times Eastern).

1. This interview invitation feels creepy

I’m a young-ish woman. There’s a guy (slightly older than me) who works in the same building I do, but for a different employer. He seems like a nice guy and we get along fine, but he’s been showing a strong personal interest in me for several months now. The thing is, I can’t tell if he’s just being friendly or if he’s flirting with me. I’m single, but he’s married, so I’m mildly uncomfortable, but I’ve been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Since last summer, he’s been strongly hinting that he might want to hire me, if he gets approval to hire a new staff member. Well, he recently got approval, I applied, and now he’s offered me an interview. What’s weird, though, is that this job involves a lot of duties that I have almost no experience with. I’m confident that I could learn how to perform those duties, but I really don’t have the experience, so it seems odd that he’s so interested in me as a candidate. But I was still trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But then, when I politely requested an evening interview so I wouldn’t have to miss work, he said that he’d take me out to dinner (just the two of us) and we would do the interview then. I know high-ranking positions will sometimes involve dinner interviews with company executives, but this is just an admin role.

So, now I’m really starting to wonder. Is he really just being friendly? In which case, maybe he’s interested in hiring me (even though I lack experience) because he likes my personality, work ethic, soft skills, etc.? Or is he a creep who’s flirting with me and wanting to cheat on his wife?

The job would pay a lot more than I’m making now (and I really need the money) and I don’t want to turn down the job if he really is just being friendly, but I also don’t want to accept the job and then get into a bad situation. Also, if I get into a bad situation, then I won’t financially be able to afford to quit. I really don’t know what to do with this. I’m really stressing out about this interview.

I’m sorry to say it, but it sounds like there’s a pretty good chance that this interview or “interview” isn’t motivated entirely by your professional skills. How much did this guy really know about your experience and skills before telling you he’d like to hire you? If you just work in the same building and have seen each other in passing, I’m guessing he didn’t know a ton about your actual work when he said that, which doesn’t bode well.

And the dinner interview … yes, dinner invitations happen, and you did ask for a meeting in the evening, but I would trust your gut. You’ve been uncomfortable all along, and now he wants to take you to dinner to talk about a job that you don’t think you’re a logical match for.

If you want to at least talk to him and learn more, then in response to the dinner invitation, you can try saying, “I’d prefer to interview in your office so we can focus on the job” and see how that goes over. And you can ask a lot in the interview about the needs of the role and how he sees your background fitting in with that. You can say things like, “I’m curious what made you think of me for this role. It seems like you’re looking for X and Y, which isn’t my background.”

But trust your gut.


2. There’s a rumor I had a physical fight with a staff member, but I didn’t

I just found out from one of my staff, Fergus, that two of his coworkers, Betty and Veronica, told him when he was hired a year ago that I had once gotten into a physical fight with a former staff member (Diana), and then called the police and had them escort her from the building.

Diana didn’t leave on the best of terms, but it happened because she’d found a better-paying job, not because I had her removed from the building. The two of us never even had a verbal fight, much less a physical one, and I certainly never called the police about her (or any other staff member!). Diana now works for another agency that we partner closely with, and the two of us have been able to work with one another just fine. In fact, that’s what brought the whole thing up; Fergus mentioned how surprised he was that I could still work with her so calmly, given what he’d been told.

I’m completely baffled about how this rumor got started, but I’m just as stumped about how to go forward. Unfortunately, Betty died of cancer about two months ago, and since Veronica was originally hired as Diana’s replacement, it’s a good bet the story originated with Betty.

I feel like I need to address this with Veronica, if only to ask her not to keep repeating the story (it apparently gets brought up every time a new person is hired), but I don’t want to come across as though I’m badmouthing Betty or accusing her of lying. She and I had our differences (apparently even worse ones than I’d thought!), but she was fundamentally a good person, and her death has been very hard on all of us.

What a bizarre rumor! I think you could raise this with Veronica without mentioning Betty at all. You could say something like, “I have an odd topic to bring up with you. Fergus recently told me he’d heard (fill in details). I need to tell you that never happened, and never would happen! I can’t imagine where this came from, but I can assure you that Diana resigned voluntarily when she found another job, and we certainly never had her removed from the building. Apparently I’m also reported to have had a physical fight with her, which is utterly bizarre — nothing like that has ever happened here. Diana and I have a very comfortable working relationship with each other.” You could then say, “I’m told this story gets retold to new hires, and obviously I want to ask you not to do that. It’s 100% untrue, and I imagine new hires would be awfully uncomfortable thinking that’s how we operate. And of course, it’s certainly uncomfortable for me to know people are telling this odd story.”


Read an update to this letter here.

3. I blew up at my coworker; which of us was out of line?

I work for a fairly large defense contracting company, and it’s my first job out of college. I’ve been working there for nearly 2 years, and I share an office room with 3 other people. The other day, one of my office-mates needed to thread some Ethernet cord through above the ceiling panels of my part of the office. When he started, I was concerned with the dirt and fiberglass getting all over my workspace and I tried to persuade him to consider alternatives. However, he dismissed my suggestions, saying that I was just being self-serving, and he basically bulldozed right on through, threading the cord across the ceiling, stepping on my desk and my papers and having dirt falling down on my space. I got over-agitated and cursed at him, and he fired back, saying that I was being a jerk. We talked about it today, and he said his position was that he was doing his job and he needed to thread the cord regardless, so he took the liberty to do it his way. My problem was that he handled the situation disrespectfully, and did not make clear to me his plans and didn’t take into consideration the mess he was going to make.

He has thoroughly pissed me off because I see my office space as my space, and he violated it by doing whatever he thought he needed to. I am super upset about the issue and the only thing keeping me from talking to my manager about it is that he gave a dry apology (no emotion) and my team is close knit and I fear drama hurts the team. I’d rather have everyone get along, but I’ve noticed he has an attitude towards me and I am not sure if its because I am advancing on the team faster than him or if he is legitimately upset with his assignments and so he loses patience. Either way, I’m getting annoyed and he doesn’t seem to understand he needs to stop treating me in a disrespectful manner. Could I have handled the situation differently? Do I have the right to feel disrespected?

From what I can tell, you were the one who was out of line. He had a job to do, and if he needed to thread something through the ceiling panels above your desk, that’s what he needed to do. The thing about workspace in an office is that it’s not really “yours”; it can be disrupted at any time when a company priority intervenes. You should apologize for losing your temper with him.


4. Interviewer wants to know if I’ve told my current manager that I’m unhappy

I’m currently using your tips to try to find a new job (I am “miscast” in my current job). In interviews, I explain that the culture is not a good fit for me, and why. The question I get in response is “Have you raised your concern to your manager?” Why do they ask this question? My flippant first thought is, “If raising it had been successful, would I be spending all my free time job hunting?” I explain I have tried to address it but am unsuccessful. What do they hope to gain by this question?

They want to know how you handle it when you’re dissatisfied, because they assume that you’ll handle it similarly when you’re working for them. Basically, they want to know that if you’re frustrated about something, you’d raise it in a professional way before it starts demoralizing you and/or making you consider leaving.


{ 172 comments… read them below }

  1. Clare*

    #4 One of the unusual cases when someone writes in to ask “Is this interview question as silly as I think it is?” and Alison’s reply is “No”.

    1. Ray Gillette*

      This one strikes me, much like the infamous “greatest weakness” question, as one that can be really useful in the hands of a skilled interviewer; but can also be a bit of a double-edged sword. There are plenty of reasons why the interviewee might not feel comfortable giving an honest answer (for example, let’s say the employee was looking to unionize a non-union workplace), so they make something up and the interviewer doesn’t learn anything useful. And if an unskilled interviewer just read it off some “good interview questions” listicle and doesn’t really understand what kind of answer they’re looking for, they might hold an honest answer against the interviewee.

    2. Bast*

      It’s a landmine of a question. I understand the intended purpose, of course, is to see if this is someone that jumps ship at any sign of a problem, and if there are any other things that lead you to this conclusion, it mayyyy be worth asking. BUT– and this is a huge and common BUT — here are plenty of bad “culture fits” that are bad BECAUSE if you are perceived to be “speaking out” you are let go. If you suggest any sort of change or difference even in the most respectful way, it is taken as “challenging” those in authority, and bringing up that you aren’t happy or would like to see change will get you canned. The attempt to mask this by saying “culture fit” is so that you don’t badmouth your employer by saying they were a bunch of controlling megalomaniacs who refused to listen to staff concerns typically is not as well received as “culture fit” so now you’re stuck with being honest and potentially looking like the problem, or trying to scramble to cover.

      1. Alternative Person*

        This. The value is there, in theory but if management is/was the problem, you might be hard pressed for anything more than ‘I followed procedure’.

  2. A (Former) Library Person*

    It seems to me that #3 is more of an “everyone sucks here” situation. Should OP have cursed at the coworker? Of course not, and they should have apologized profusely for losing their temper. However, I have to wonder how far the initial discussions went, and whether/how management/IT/facilities/etc. were involved before the coworker decided to plow ahead and step all over OP’s desk *and the things on it, without moving them*. That latter action, potentially retaliatory given OP’s admitted prior bad behavior, still isn’t appropriate even if OP was initially in the wrong.

    I agree with Alison that the company can do what it needs to do with employee spaces, but this seems to have been handled in the worst way possible by both OP and their coworker.

    1. Beacon of Nope*

      The comment thread from the original has a post from the OP (he posts in that thread under Mark) with more detail. If anything, based on the clarification in that thread, I think there’s only one AH in this story and Mark showed more restraint than can reasonably be expected and doesn’t owe anyone an apology.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        The clue in the letter was trying to “talk about alternatives” because they felt it was their personal space when someone was trying to get a work set up done. The OP was far too invested in their space; maybe if they were someone senior and someone barged into their office disrupting the work happening there, but otherwise no. It’s a work space, not their space! Sure, the other person could have treated them more gingerly, but it shouldn’t have been necessary to treat the space as though OP owned it.

        1. Misty_Meaner*

          The cabler was running cable they wanted to keep a second computer. In a gov. defense contractor space? Without IT support? Sounds like w/o security, IT, or anyone else knowing? You don’t bring a computing device into that type of environment and just decided to “wire it up”! Yes, it’s relatively simple, but it’s also a big no no! “Mark” may have overreacted a little but his coworker was definitely in the wrong and his putting his own “wants” ahead of “Mark’s” workspace DURING WORK HOURS was incorrect, as well. He could’ve stayed later. He could’ve said, “Hey during lunch I’m going to do X. You may want to move stuff into drawers just in case” or something. Also, in his comments on the original posting of the letter, Mark clarified both of them are male, and I keep seeing a lot of “she” being used.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Yup. If OP was concerned about the mess being made she needed to vacate the office. There’s really no good explanation for her behaviour, Mark does not owe her an apology, and this is one clear cut letter where the situation described merits being a bit direct and blunt about the scale of the problem. She can’t spin it into something that anyone would find reasonable behaviour.

        I’ve been in this situation before on reception when a workman was fixing a light above where I sit. It gave me a chance to go and sit on the couches we have in the waiting area — I was still on duty but I couldn’t work from my desk for about half an hour. It sounded like it needed a very short time to fit the wire and that might have been a good time to take a break.

        As for ‘my office’…yeah, I get it. I went back into the office where I worked as a receptionist yesterday. I was able to sit in the back office behind the reception where one team is now pretty much perma-WFH, so there’s a space where us roving facilities administrators can perch if needs be. It wasn’t as strange as I feared it might be — they haven’t actually replaced me, and the facilities manager for the building is subbing on reception during the interregnum. I wasn’t asked to come back and sit in my old seat and ask people to sign in! But yeah, you get that twinge of possession when you go in, and I was there for ten years, so the seat arm still had a large elbow shaped dent in it because I was leaning funny on it and the pencil box I used and no longer needed was still there…I’d only really been gone a month. I was also respectful of the office I sat in during the day and made sure not to fiddle with anyone’s chairs and to clean up when I left. But ‘my’ reception desk will hopefully soon be someone else’s and that office was already a communal one (open offices are pretty ubiquitous in the UK; I’ve never worked in one that wasn’t and any I see on TV or elsewhere on site visits are at the very least shared by more than two people), and no-one can truly say their offices is ‘theirs’.

        So it happens. I’m now a step up and while still an admin, I’m coordinating maintenance and putting through POs etc. I’m very much respectful of maintenance work going on and work closely with the guys on the job, and if anyone did what the LW did to one of my buddies, they’d be in hot water. Maintenance guys are what keeps the building together. They keep it safe (remember legionnaire’s?) and they help provide the infrastructure. They’re working to plans that keep them safe and the oversight from our org is quite important in keeping you adequately provided. They also worked in-person day in, day out during the pandemic and the aftermath. They deserve respect and the opportunity to do their job, not to be yelled at like in the OP or forced to grovel to white collar staff.

        There are no excuses for the OP’s behaviour here either. Let’s not get into the territory of fanfic trying to exonerate her because of stuff not present in the letter. She’s showed her hand and is completely in the wrong, particularly when she pursued the issue with the workman. That’s horrible behaviour and if what is now passing over my desk is anything to go by, in this organisation she’d be being written up or worse. Maybe not for being upset in the moment, but certainly if she swore and then pursued the issue beyond the heat of the moment. That was the part that would be getting her into significant trouble even in the progressive discipline system of the UK.

        Sometimes people are just badly behaved for no justifiable reason and need to be made aware their behaviour is unacceptable. They can be male or female or NB and still be bad at this kind of thing. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar — it’s quite clear who is in the wrong and we don’t need to twist the situation into pretzels in order to interpret a letter.

        1. amoeba*

          “She’s showed her hand and is completely in the wrong, particularly when she pursued the issue with the workman.”

          It wasn’t a “workman” though. It was a colleague who decided he wanted to thread that cable for his personal computer set-up. (I’d honestly be really surprised if a professional behaved like that! Stepping on papers on a desk instead of using a ladder or at least clearing the area and asking first is not exactly the behaviour I’d expect from any kind of technician or handiman…)

          Also, for what it’s worth, they’re both men.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, I hadn’t read the previous thread where that was made obvious. Let’s not wag fingers at people who follow Alison’s general practice about how she refers to default female, because gender is not obvious from the letter.

            Whoever it was or whatever gender they were, they went beyond what was reasonable into aggressive behaviour afterwards. This tendency to try and exonerate letter writers of actual bad behaviour is…weird. It makes about zero difference to what I said — OP’s behaviour was not that of someone rational beyond the moment.

            Two wrongs do not make a right, and OP’s wrong was much, much worse than his colleague’s, even in light of the additional facts.

            1. Kai*

              I agree, that is seems strange rarely does anyone think a LW might be an unreliable narrator.
              Comments just take things at face value, I don’t often get it.

              Of course Allison just answers the questions a LW asks, I don’t mean that. I refer to the user comments.

            2. amoeba*

              I honestly don’t even see much wrong in what OP did, hence the confusion – I’d certainly use… strong language if somebody suddenly climbed on my desk and trampled my papers without asking first! Apart from the fact where what coworker did would have been a clear safety violation at least in my workplace (and from the comments on the original thread I gather that would have been much worse at a defense contractor?)

              On the gender – not wagging fingers, just thought it would be useful information because at least there’s probably no gender dynamic at play here.

              1. GythaOgden*

                The OP bawled someone else out and used a swear word at him. Their posts in the thread are mealy-mouthed and self-justificatory. I’ve now been able to read the previous thread in full as well and most people there are in agreement that, even if the colleague was a twit, OP lost any kind of moral high ground they had by his response.

                And gender dynamics wouldn’t make a difference. It was just as wrong here between two men as it was between two women the other day. As a woman myself, the last thing I want is for Amy bad behaviour on my part to be excused because of being part of a historically marginalised group. It’s more misogynistic in my mind to hold women to lower standard — ‘the subtle bigotry of low expectations’ — and thus deny us our agency to choose how we behave in the workplace as individuals. I’ve struggled with neurodivergence in the workplace and if I started doing what OP did to their colleague (rather than going to management and reporting it as a safety issue etc) then I’d rightfully expect some kind of discipline. I’m in a break in an in-person team day and someone left a trailing wire which I nearly tripped over. But I didn’t tear the culprit a new one — we got the trip hazard sorted by putting a chair over the problem area and asking the person responsible to make sure their wire was not trailing or coiling across the floor. That’s how you behave at work when someone does something that might be dangerous.

                That’s kind of indicative of what we’d call a toxic workplace — where people give each other so little grace and work together so badly that such behaviour becomes routine rather than aberrant. I’m a bit worried that you don’t see much wrong with OP’s response, and am now actually wondering whether you just would find it normal for someone to treat their colleague in that way? is your workplace THAT combative? is it possible if I made a mistake you’d yell at me? Because no-one’s perfect, and when you admit that to yourself, it becomes easier to ride out the initial frustration with someone and actually resolve the problem like an adult.

                I’ll restate what I said in the other thread — I’ve been through the mill a couple of times with frustrating or even rude colleagues, and none of them would have said the things this OP and the OP who was disgusted to someone else or about someone else. I wouldn’t want to work in a place where this was acceptable behaviour in response to someone else’s mistakes in working practices.

                1. fluffy*

                  You suggested working with the person to find alternatives, but OP tried that and was ignored.

                  No one is saying that OP didn’t do anything wrong or that his response is acceptable workplace behavior. No one is saying that they personally would yell at you. Only that it isn’t fair to hand OP all the blame in this situation, when what the coworker did was also extremely inappropriate in any workplace and especially in a defense contractor workplace.

            3. allx*

              You are very committed to your response/long position statement even though it turns out to be completely wrong on all of the facts. Lots of blaming and frankly, finger wagging, coming from you.

            4. Happy*

              OP’s wrong was not much, much worse than his colleague’s.

              The colleague was really disrepectful and initiated the confrontation by ignoring OP’s objections rather than escalating to a supervisor or going through appropriate channels.

          2. SopranoH*

            I had wondered about the ladder as well. You shouldn’t be stepping all over someone’s desk to do work on the ceiling. For one, it’s a safety issue. Also there’s a chance that company owned property or work would be damaged.

            1. I Have RBF*


              For a coworker to climb up on someone else’s desk and step all over their work is both a safety violation and disrespectful as hell.

              IMO, keep your f’in feet off my damned desk, use a proper ladder, and do the job safely. Better yet, put in a work order with IT or facilities and have them do the work.

          3. Misty_Meaner*

            Yes. I doubt any company would be okay with someone deciding to just start wiring up a second computer w/o alerting IT, security, Cyber, anyone that there will be a new (possibly personal!) device on their network, and this guy seemed to have just decided to … do it! And obliviously while his officemates were trying to work! Even if he did have permission (unlikely or IT would’ve done it, but…) he should’ve done it after hours, before hours or at lunch when it wouldn’t disrupt work!

        2. Lilac*

          Mark is the OP – that’s the name he used when he commented on the original post. I don’t think a pseudonym has ever been given for the coworker.

      3. ecnaseener*

        On the other hand, Mark’s second comment admits that what he actually said was “Don’t F*** with me.” Depending on tone, that’s really aggressive and potentially threatening. It certainly can’t be characterized as restraint. If he had just said something like “what the f*** are you doing, don’t step on my papers!” that would be much more understandable.

        1. amoeba*

          Can be, sure. Can also be just exasperation, which is how I read it – but of course none of us were there, so no way of telling!

      4. Happy**

        I agree. I think OP was (mostly) fine and his coworker was completely out of line. Saying “don’t fuck with me” isn’t ideal, but it’s an understandable response to the complete lack of respect from someone doing something they really shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.

        It was a defense contractor! Coworker should have being going through IT.

      5. OMG, Bees!*

        That comment changes things to LW not being the AH.

        Also, having worked in IT and on occasion installing cabling, that would be a seriously bad move to force my way in and step on someone desk and more importantly items, getting the desk dirty, and just tell them to toughen up. I have always worked with people to find a good time without as much disruption or mess. I know they said he wasn’t IT, but that would have earned me a write up!

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I went back to the original post from ten years ago. LW commented as Mike, down at the end. The coworker wanted to string the cable for a second monitor, I think, and just kinda steamrolled LW. Didn’t give him a chance to move his stuff before just hopping up on the desk. And he wasn’t IT, maintenance, or anything, just a guy hooking up his own stuff. It was super rude of the guy; no one came off looking good.

      1. GythaOgden*

        The way OP reacted took this way, way beyond any clash of personality. It sounds like Andy Bernard punching a hole in the office wall in The Office — sure, Jim maybe provoked him but the anger issue was all Andy’s reaction to the situation. Two wrongs don’t make a right — they just convert something mild and resolvable into a case for a disciplinary action. (Same as the slogan — an eye for an eye and we’re all blind. Being the bigger person and staying your hand can mean the original offence is treated more harshly than if you retaliate and it simply becomes ESH.)

        If it had been in the heat of the moment and stopped before that, it would have been ‘everyone sucks here’. But taking it to the mat after the event and the general possessiveness of OP towards what is ultimately company property really takes it beyond just a difference of opinions about the options for the cable. That’s the point at which I’d see disciplinary proceedings starting against OP, I think, because of the grossly disproportionate aggressive behaviour he displayed even after the moment had passed.

        1. amoeba*

          “grossly disproportionate aggressive behaviour”

          I really feel like we’ve read a different letter. Where do you see that that took place?

          From what I read:

          – coworker comes in, wants to climb on the desk to personalize his computer set-up (so, no authorized maintenance or whatever)
          – OP tells him not to, suggests alternatives
          – coworker cuts him off rudely and climbs desk, stepping on papers with his dirty shoes in the course of it
          – OP is annoyed and tells him “don’t fuck with me” (which I read as “oh come on, man, why are you doing this? Stop fucking with me!”, not as a mafia-style threat – but of course there’s no way of telling as we weren’t there)
          – coworker insults OP (calls him a jerk and, from the comments, also an ass)
          – Next day, they talk (no argument as far as I can tell?), OP tells coworker he felt disrespected, coworker gives a half-hearted apology
          – OP writes to AAM

          Literally the only thing in there that OP did that’s even questionable is saying “don’t fuck with me”. I really don’t see how that’s such an unforgiveable offence that could cause termination or whatever. And yeah, it’s not ideal beaviour, but I can see why he was shocked and upset by coworker’s behavious!
          Again – coworker had zero “right” or actual reason to step on OP’s desk. He just spontaneously decided it would be convenient for him and didn’t listen to any argument.

          1. I Have RBF*

            Again – coworker had zero “right” or actual reason to step on OP’s desk. He just spontaneously decided it would be convenient for him and didn’t listen to any argument.

            Exactly. If someone just bulldozes through and literally stomps on my work without getting my permission, I am not going to be nice about it.

            For those who are wrapped up in the “it’s the company’s s[pace they can do what they want”, the coworker was stepping on the company’s property and work in progress. So even if you regard anything in the company’s space, including the people, as company property, the coworker was still in the wrong, and disrespectful as hell.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              I would have lost my mind. Everyone is nitpicking about the language used when I’m thinking he’s lucky Mike didn’t push him back or body block him when he tried putting his disgusting shoe soles on his paperwork!!!

      2. ClaireW*

        it was rude for sure, but given the OP was already seemingly well-known for being very strict and serious and not taking a joke (despite being very early in their career where that attitude is less common), saying “Don’t f*** with me” was a _huge_ overreaction to something that’s definitely an annoyance but not at that level.

        1. Andromeda*

          I feel like the desk-walking was more egregious a thing to do than a lot of people seem to be acknowledging, though. I would definitely think “what the hell?” if I saw a non-IT colleague climbing on the desk, taking out a ceiling tile and putting wires in there. In his replies, OP also says that Coworker hadn’t got permission from his manager to run the cables iirc.

          “Don’t fuck with me” is a really unprofessional thing to say in response, but Coworker’s behaviour strikes me as *weird* in addition to unprofessional. It sounds like both parties behaved pretty badly here, though I side sliiiiiiiightly more with LW because they were reacting to something frustrating happening to them.

      3. lilsheba*

        Exactly! I’m sorry, but workspace or no, you can NOT just trample on my desk and my stuff, make a mess and leave it for me to clean up. That IS my personal space while I am working there and that deserves respect.

      4. Olive*

        While it’s true that an employee doesn’t own the office space, and they definitely shouldn’t be refusing to let other people perform necessary tasks near their desk, I think it’s a toxic work environment where people don’t have any control over their own desk and papers.

    3. Akili*

      My initial thought was “he walked on the desk? No ladder?” and while I know I’ve done similarly ill-advised things, I wouldn’t do it to a *co-worker’s* desk…

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, I literally cannot even imagine a (non-emergency) situation where I would possibly imagine that would be OK. And not just stepping on the desk, but literally on the papers? With my shoes on? Against the explicit protest of the person sitting at the desk? Also, from the additional information, for some personal set-up he preferred, not for his actual job (like an IT technician or somebody fixing a lamp or whatever)? Ignoring alternative options (like, I don’t know, use a ladder instead like you’re supposed to)?

        I’ve gone back to the comments on the original post and yeah, no, the guy was being a complete dick. Also, the cursing was apparently just the OP telling him not to fuck with him. Like, depending on the workplace, probably not great, but not exactly horrible either.

        1. Phryne*

          Yes, I am a bit confused seeing more than one person here going ‘oh, someone walking over your desk without asking, stepping on your paperwork and your stuff, with shoes on, yeah, no, totally normal. Apologise to him’.
          That is not normal.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Once again, it’s not the offence, it’s the way OP dealt with it. They should have gone to management and health and safety — if their colleague wasn’t already probably writhing in pain on the office floor because as we’re drawing on previous threads, let’s draw on another one — desks can’t handle someone leaning on them, let alone standing, and believe me I’ve heard the creaking from a desk laden with all the necessary equipment when I lean on it for two seconds with my ~80kg frame. So I’m doubting that story simply because desks aren’t made to have that amount of weight on them concentrated into the footprint of a fully grown man.

            If someone steps on your toes, you don’t kick them in head. Let the colleague get into trouble on their own; don’t take the already bad situation and make it much, much worse for your own self.

            1. Phryne*

              Not sure what you mean with once again, as my post predates yours. Anyway, I’ve stood on desks at my workplace, empty desks, after hours, with my shoes off and I cleaned them after and I don’t know, maybe your office has really really crappy desks or something? Because ours did not creak or groan or give the slightest at any time and I’m probably heavier than that.

              And if someone steps on my toes after barging in with some stupid non important task and not giving me a second to step aside I totally will yell at them and not apologise for it. F around, find out.

            2. fluffy*

              Most desks can absolutely handle someone standing on them briefly, and the forum rules require taking letter writers at their word. Letter writer said the coworker stood on his desk, so they did.

          2. Lilac*

            I agree. If getting up on the desk was the only way to run the cable, then that’s just the way it is—but it seems like he didn’t even give OP a chance to move his stuff out of the way. OP’s clarification on the original post indicates that there was no reason why his coworker couldn’t have waited a few minutes. Of course the swearing was uncalled for, but I can see why he was angry.

            1. But what to call me?*

              In a case like that, the swearing seems like as much a reaction of shock as anything – sure, not the most considered, professional response, but I don’t know that I’d have come out with anything better if a coworker said they were going to mess with the ceiling over my desk while I was working, I told them not to, and they just climbed right up there on top of my stuff and did it anyway. Who does that???

              I don’t know about other people’s workplaces, but at mine the IT and facilities people always either waited until after hours or told us why they couldn’t do that and gave us a chance to move our stuff out of the way. Which we did, because that was their job and they had a consistent history of doing it with as little disruption as possible. Or they just let us know what they were doing and did it in a way that wouldn’t cause much trouble if that was possible, because they had the tools and skills to do that, because it was their job. Anyone else wouldn’t have even thought to do anything that required messing with ceiling panels, because the stuff in the ceiling wasn’t ours to mess with (and because none of us trusted it not to fall on our heads, but the day a coworker came in to find a fallen ceiling tile in her desk chair where her head would have been is a whole other story). I’m honestly having trouble imagining anyone climbing on top of someone else’s desk without their permission, with their stuff still on it, without the whole office doing some variation of “what the f-“.

              “Don’t f- with me” is somewhat more aggressive, but then so is stepping on someone’s stuff. So, not an appropriate response, but an understandable reaction in the moment, unless I’m completely misunderstanding what happened.

              1. Lilac*

                According to OP’s follow-up comment on the original post, his coworker wasn’t even from IT. He set up the ethernet cable so he could have a second monitor on his desk—it wasn’t part of his normal job, or an essential task that needed to be done ASAP.

                1. But what to call me?*

                  Yeah, I got that the coworker wasn’t from IT – which is important, because there’s a pretty good chance IT has procedures for handling that kind of work that don’t involve climbing on someone’s desk while they’re working at said desk. Which is just one of many reasons why you leave that kind of job to them.

              2. bamcheeks*

                “Don’t fuck with me” sounds much more aggressive to me, and also kind of weird because it takes it out of “you just did an objectively weird thing, what’s wrong with you!”– which is an entirely logical response! — and into, “you might be able to climb all over OTHER people’s desks, but you don’t do it to ME!”

                IMO it actually weakens the message, by making it sound like the problem here is that they picked the wrong desk to walk all over, rather than walking all over desks being completely bananapants whoever’s desk you’re walking on.

                1. But what to call me?*

                  It’s definitely not a great response, or even a helpful one for conveying the message. It carries some of the same ‘this is a personal attack on ME’ tone that the question itself had, which probably contributed to Alison focusing on the LW’s response rather than what the coworker actually did. But the coworker’s actions were still ridiculous and something that I can see provoking an unprofessional and poorly-considered response.

                2. Lilac*

                  I agree with this. It’s also just…a weird thing to say in response to the situation. I could more easily picture someone saying, “What the fuck are you doing?!” or similar. The coworker was for sure out of line, but it’s an odd way to respond.

              3. I Have RBF*

                “Don’t f- with me” is somewhat more aggressive, but then so is stepping on someone’s stuff.


                I admit, my response would have been “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Get down from there!” when he climbed up on my desk stepping on my stuff.

          3. Jackalope*

            I agree. It’s not that hard to be considerate of the person whose desk you’re using; I know that Mark didn’t own the desk or anything, but he’s still the one who has to work there all day every day, and this was not respectful in the slightest. If the coworker really had to mess around in the ceiling tiles then at the very least he could have given the OP time to move stuff off his desk, and with the added risk of fiberglass falling on the desk he really should have put a drop cloth or something over it too.

          4. Celeste*

            Yeah, that’s where I am. Someone walking on your desk and actually stepping on your stuff? That seems disrespectful and even aggressive to me.

        2. GythaOgden*

          It was the way OP took it afterwards that was the clincher though. And two wrongs do not make a right — if OP had let it go and taken the colleague’s behaviour to management and/or health and safety, they wouldn’t be writing in. They didn’t, and now they’re wondering why they’re in the brown stuff. (And there would still be more disciplinary action taken against OP in my org, although safety would be a massive concern in the colleague’s situation.)

          So I’m not sure why you’re in a rush to exonerate the OP. They’ve behaved in ways that compounded the original offence, not stayed out of it and done what they should have done vis-a-vis safety concerns. They’re also lucky they still have a desk, given what’s been on the blog about the capacity for desks to hold the weight of a human being, so I’m not 100% sure that’s the case either.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Literally no one is saying OP did the right thing (‘exonerate’ him).

            We’re saying that he was not wholly in the wrong, and tromping on someone’s desk and papers–over their objections–was a jerk move by Mark.

      2. Lea*

        I’m pretty sure our workplace would frown/disallow this because it sounds unsafe. It was super unprofessional to step on papers and make a mess without giving op a chance to move anything!

        But cussing them out wasn’t great either

        1. GythaOgden*

          Given what we know about desk loads and how they’re designed for lighter objects spread out over a wide surface but not the weight of an adult human concentrated in a small space, it surprises me that the desk survived being stood on.

          1. BirdJinks*

            I’m really curious where you live, because in the vast majority of offices I’ve worked in there is absolutely no issue about standing on a desk. Professional office furniture isn’t lightweight junk

    4. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I’m team ESH here too.

      If you know for sure that your co-worker’s solution was the wrong one (got to say, “standing on a desk” doesn’t sound like the approved health and safety way to do anything), then you should have said so calmly, and then escalated it to your boss if he carried on. Swearing and turning it into a conflict was an unprofessional and immature thing to do. If he was doing his job properly but in a way that was aggressive, rude or annoying for you, you move out the way and then escalate it to your boss.

      But if I was your manager, I’d be talking to both of you about professional behaviour and managing conflicting needs more gracefully.

      1. tg33*

        If it was just standing on a desk, yeah. Standing on someone else’s desk while they’re working? No, bad move.

      2. amoeba*

        I mean, from the additional information in the original comments, it sounds like they tried to suggest alternatives but were basically steamrolled and the guy just ignored everything and went up. Which then prompted the cursing. I mean, they obviously could/should have controlled their language better, but apart from that, I don’t really see many additional better options…

    5. Lilac*

      Yeah, I think at the very least the coworker should have given OP a heads-up: e.g. “I’m gonna need to thread some cables through the ceiling in a few minutes, so you might want to clear off your desk so your stuff doesn’t get dirty.” Maybe getting dirt on OP’s desk was unavoidable, but I don’t see why he couldn’t have given at least a few minutes’ warning.

      OP also commented on the original post (under the name “Mark”; scroll down all the way to the bottom) and clarified that it wasn’t urgent or essential to set up the cable right at that moment.

      That said…there are very few situations where it’s appropriate to swear at a coworker, and this definitely isn’t one of them. I agree, ESH.

    6. Guliver*

      Cord stringer guy better have cleaned up after himself, and with more care than just a quick wipe of a cloth. Fiberglass strands get into EVERYTHING and last forever.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m not sure how old AITA is, but that letter certainly captures its “Only one of us can be wrong, and if that’s the other person then I am RIGHT and so everything I did becomes fine” zeitgeist. OP should have realized that “my physical space, including the airspace above, which no one can violate 8-6 M-F” is not a thing, and the coworker should have realized that “I’m going to mess up OP’s desk when I do this, so I’ll take some time to help them shift the desktop stuff to a different spot so I’m not walking on their papers, and I’ll clean up anything that falls.”

      Both of them seem to have bulled ahead like “If you and a coworker need different things in the same space at the same time, even if usually your jobs don’t make you interact, then you need to work it out politely and not be a dingus” is not a workplace expectation.

      1. Lilac*

        Yeah, I feel like even a “Sorry to get in your way but I really need to run these cables—do you need a minute to move your stuff?” or “Hey, do you mind waiting a minute so I can clear off my desk?” would have gone a long way here. Although OP did indicate in his follow-up comment that he tried to talk to his coworker, so maybe he did say something along those lines.

    8. Distracted Procrastinator*

      Exactly, there is absolutely no reason to stand on a desk to pull an ethernet cable. Where is the ladder? Does no one have fish tape? Why is he opening ceiling panels in the middle of the room?

      This is why you wait for the correct department to do the job. IT would have done this right, with a ladder, with only two ceiling tiles opened (not in the middle of the office over a desk,) with draping to protect the furniture. It gets done properly and the coworkers get to maintain a respectful working relationship.

    9. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, OP is really wrong about how much the space belongs to them–but also if you have to do something for your job that will create a mess in someone else’s space I think the right way to handle that would be to give them a heads up in advance and allow them to clear things from the space before you start walking on the desk. Stepping on someone’s papers at work is pretty outrageous and aggressive!

  3. bamcheeks*

    Ooof, the lengths women go to to “give him the benefit of the doubt”! You don’t have to do that, LW! You can just say, hey, this situation is pinging my he-fancies-me-dar, and give YOURSELF the benefit of the doubt. You don’t owe every random man the opportunity to shoot his shot.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      Yes and in my experience, it always is what it appears to be. So disappointing when I think I’ve made a friend, and it’s that again.
      I feel concerned about whether this OP was able to stay safe. An evening interview in his office means they would probably have been alone there. To me it seems almost certain he was not interested in her for her work skills. I hope she’s ok, and stayed away from him and his job.

      1. bamcheeks*

        From the age of 12 or younger, we get two constant and contradictory messages:

        “God, you think everyone fancies you, you’re so conceited. You really need to get over the idea that every bloke who talks to you is attracted to you!”

        “What did you think he wanted? Why did you put yourself in that situation? You’ve got to accept some responsibility here!”

        1. Cj*

          yep, I can just hear this guy saying “you’ve been flirting with me for months, and know you don’t have the qualifications for the job, what else did you expect?” and unfortunately, it’s not only the guy who would say yes, but some of the other people she told about it.

          and like the commenter above, I was worried for her safety if she met with him after hours in his office if they were going to be alone. I would have chosen the restaurant for that reason even if it gave him more of the “wrong idea” (in quotes for obvious reasons).

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          “What did you think he wanted?”

          I know, right? And worse yet, I could always, always give the same answer to that question– friendship. I thought he wanted friendship. I thought we were friends. We really cannot win.

    2. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Unfortunately for many of us women, that knowledge comes with experiences. I was raised that “ladies” are always nice, polite and gracious. Young me struggled with similar reactions as LW #1. “Maybe they’re just being really nice.” “Maybe I’m overthinking their behavior.” All those thoughts would battle my instincts in situations. With several more trips around the sun under my belt, I’ve learned to follow my instincts and stop overthinking some people’s behavior and making excuses for them.

      I’m glad LW wrote in for a gut check. Sometimes we need that reassurance from someone who can look at the situation from a different perspective that our instincts are right (which they usually are).

      1. bamcheeks*

        Oh completely, this is just as much a PSA for younger me! amazing to think how much we could get done if we weren’t being gaslit by contradictory messages from a young age.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Haha, I too wish to give PSAs to younger me! In my case, it was very much a problem of being raised with a narcissistic parent. We were trained from as young an age as possible to tiptoe around the feelings of the man, because our safety depended on it. Amazing how far-reaching the consequences of that are, even in the workplace. It trains you to be susceptible to gaslighting and bullying, and users can smell it a mile away.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      The letter writer commented on the original post (commenting name: OP #1) and said he was professional during the interview, but she was leaning towards turning down the offer (if she received one).

      1. My Brain is Exploding*

        I really appreciate that you have been finding links to long ago letters.
        Especially the ones where there is an update someplace within the original post. These are often hard to find and I wish that Alison had a way on this website to show that the letter writer did respond. It’s hard to go through a lot of comments looking for the response for the original letter writer. Generally your search string is either lw or OP and that can be a lengthy process; also the original poster sometimes comments under a different name entirely. It might be helpful at some point on this site if there is a convention that the original poster always comments under LW# (no space). Op comes up in a lot of words!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          My pro-tip for searching:

          Usernames have an invisible * at the end of them (if you highlight any username on this page, you’ll be able to see the *). This was added to make searching for specific commenters easier. LW* and OP* will have a lot fewer results than searches for LW or OP alone. (I also search for “writer*” “poster*” “lw here” and “op here”)

          On a short-answer post, I usually just search “1*” “2*” etc. so I don’t have to worry about differentiating between “OP1” “OP#1” “LW1” etc. There are certainly times when I haven’t found a letter-writer’s comments, but the effort/reward ratio in my method works for me.

          1. 1-800-BrownCow*

            Wait, how do I do this search on a specific post? All I see on this page is “Search this site” which then gives me a list of posts with the name/word I’m searching. Then when I click on the link, it shows me the entire page and I still have to scroll through to find the comment.

            1. Hlao-roo*

              On a computer keyboard, hit ctrl + f (that’s for on Windows, for a Mac it might be command + f keys).

              On a cell phone, most browsers have a “find in page” feature. I don’t read/search on my phone very often, so every time I do I have to google “find in page [chrome/safari/firefox/etc.] mobile” to relearn where the “find in page” feature is for each browser.

      2. 1-800-BrownCow*

        Well that’s good to know. Glad to hear he was professional at least during the interview. But I still feel strongly he had an ulterior motive. I work in a male dominant field and at one company I worked at years ago, there was a supervisor there who would tell his male colleagues that he would hire “attractive girls” (his words), whether they were qualified or not, because he wanted to ‘enjoy the view’ at work and maybe get something more out of it. *cringe*

      3. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Thanks, I was hoping for an update on this one. Nice to hear it was just an interview and nothing weird happened!

    4. Ellis Bell*

      “give YOURSELF the benefit of the doubt” Yes thank you for this! I have been trying to put my finger on this phrase, seemingly forever.

    5. Sneaky Squirrel*

      It’s been years since I’ve listened to the My Favorite Murder podcast, but I’ve always loved the “F*** politeness” stance which I think is comparable here. If you don’t feel comfortable with a situation, don’t be afraid to shut something down/be a little rude to protect yourself. We don’t owe everyone the benefit of the doubt.

      Side note, whenever we did interviews where it was expected we would take the interviewee to dinner, we always had another interviewer go along to remove any vibes of it feeling like a date.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Absolutely! And follow the safety rules. Don’t go home with strangers or let them get you alone. If something seems creepy or off, leave the situation even if you can’t do it politely.
        I’m reminded of the time I picked up my check at a temp agency on Friday. A man waiting for the elevator seemed weird, staring, jumpy, trying to talk with me. I did not want to be alone in the elevator with him. I said oops, forgot something! And went around the corner towards the temp office. I waited there until he was gone.
        I know of another situation where a young woman did not follow the rules, and it turned out very badly. Always follow the safety rules.

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      I suspect in this case it may have been less just about giving him the benefit of the doubt and more that she was really hoping to be told she was wrong because making more money would be really great. But it is smart of her to recognize the risk of taking a job that pays more money but puts total control of your livelihood in the hands of someone you worry may put you in a really bad situation.

    7. kiki*

      I think what makes guys like the one LW encountered especially tricky is that they set up a situation where LW would want to believe that they’re such a great professional that this guy recognizes that from afar and is legitimately offering them a career opportunity. It’s not just, “Oh give him the benefit of the doubt!” it’s also “give myself the benefit of the doubt that I am so clearly amazing professionally that of course kind of random people want to offer me work.”

      I’m not doing a great job describing it, but there’s a specific type of heartbreak when you thought maybe somebody could be recognizing your talent, intelligence, and skills but it’s actually about their inappropriate desire for you. On one hand, you intellectually know that one guy being sketchy doesn’t negate your value as a professional, but it’s hard not to feel that way.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yes, totally! And the goddamn infuriating thing about it is that you’ll get dinged BOTH for “being up yourself and thinking people fancy you”, AND for “being up yourself and thinking he was impressed with your professional skills”. People will use *both* to tell a woman she’s wrong, and then we internalise that and have to expend our energy second-guessing both our professional accomplishments and our ability to tell whether someone is being creepy and inappropriate. We can’t win.

  4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (interviewer asking if you’ve discussed your unhappiness with your manager) – Yes, it can give an insight into whether the person tries to resolve problems or just moves on to something else when there are difficulties. It can also be a situation where the person hasn’t discussed with the company, then the discussion is prompted by their resignation (if I offered them the job) and then it turns out the situation could be saved so they take a counter offer or otherwise decide to stay.

    This is less likely with “cultural fit” issues (because it’s a much broader problem that can’t really be changed to suit the person) so it might not make sense to probe too much about that, but certainly in cases like “the work is mainly x but I want to do more y” it is worth the interviewer exploring. I’ve been on both sides of the “interview table” with this question.

    1. Enescudoh*

      I was curious about this. I can see myself giving the answer in future interviews that the culture where I currently am doesn’t suit me – the honest truth is that a lot of that is because of my manager and the people above her. As to whether I’ve raised it – I could perhaps say “I’ve joined the union at my workplace” but that doesn’t exactly scream, productive and easy going future employee…

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I think there will very often be VERY GOOD reasons why you haven’t / can’t / aren’t able to raise this with a current management, but it’s very hard to convey that without slagging your current management off, and that is extremely high risk in an interview situation.

        Generally, I try to stay well away from suggesting any major problems with my current employer because a) it’s s small world, and there’s every chance that I’m being interviewed by someone who is a colleague / friend / close contact / admirer of someone in my current management hierarchy and b) there’s just no way of doing that in an interview setting without raising significant concerns that YOU are the problem. An interviewer typically doesn’t have enough information to judge whether you are the sane one in an environment full of bees or whether the buzzing is coming from inside the house.

        So my answer for why I’m looking for new work is always about what I’m moving TO, and why I’m excited by it, not that I’m mainly looking to leave my existing role, eg. “Where I work currently they are going down X strategic direction, and I’m really more interested in the type of work that you are doing here at Exciting Focus…” Or something blandly unarguable like, “As much as I’ve loved what I’m doing at XXX, and I’ve learned a lot there, the commute is just getting too much for me and I’m really keen to start connecting more with my local area.”

        1. Sandi*

          I work in an area that is often a small world, and once left a place that was toxic because of a bad manager. I was polite in interviews and said that the new work interested me, and it was all fine, yet the first day that I started in my new healthy workplace the person who interviewed me made a comment about how it must have felt good to leave that manager behind me. At that moment I knew they were clearly asking the “Why are you leaving?” question because they had to ask it even though they knew the answer (I know their hiring process, and they aim to be fair so they have the questions set ahead of time for each interview).

          I think it is fair to say if there are systemic issues, for example if I want to be a manager then I won’t do it at my current employer because there are very few female managers and they aren’t treated very well in comparison to the men. It isn’t anything specific, it’s very subtle, and I doubt the men have noticed because generally they are nice and supportive. Yet the women rarely progress as quickly, and are often frustrated with decisions. If I were to apply to a management job elsewhere, I would reach out to my network to find places where female managers are happy, and I would say as much in the interview.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      If your reason to leave is that you want to work with llamas and your company has no llamas, then it’s clear why you’re interviewing with someone who has lots of llamas.

      If your reason to leave is something that that workplace could change, but isn’t, then it’s natural to wonder how you handled that because it could come up here. It’s a built-in “Tell me about a time when…”

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m so curious about this. I’ve never seen an employer to say ” Oh, you can’t do your job due to my arbitrary decisions? I’m just going to change it for you” instead of ” get out”.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Eh… I spent a decade trying to branch out from speciality programming into mainstream programming with my employer. It was always “maybe someday” or “you’re just a specialist; we need real programmers” or “oh, we just filled that headcount” until a competitor offered to task me with both. All of the sudden, there was a crack in the glass ceiling I could slip through.

          I was expecting the “so long, good luck; thanks for the memories” reaction from Management, too.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, it’s a false assumption on the part of the hiring manager that employers are happy to work around the preferences of their employees. This question is one that I would probably answer with a plausibly broad answer (as really, just because you’re hiring for a job, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to know the ins and outs of my current situation). Make the reason for leaving pretty broad in the first place, and then even if you’re asked if you tried to address it, you can say your sense is these things are larger culture mis-matches but you’re really enthusiastic about X New Job because …

          1. Sandi*

            I think the value of the answer also varies based on how many years someone stays in a current job. If they change jobs every year or two because they get frustrated by problems but don’t discuss them, then that’s an issue. If they see that others are bringing up the same problems and never getting any effective resolution then that’s a useful thing to explain.

            1. Sloanicota*

              Yeah but it’s still really hard to say anything like this without coming across as defensive, which is why it wouldn’t be my favorite question except if you see someone with a series of short stays. People get to leave jobs and they don’t have to face an inquisition about it!

          2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yes,like I’d like to focus more on my areas of expertise instead of talking about how it is hard to tell what is or isn’t your job and how you end up with constant overwork.

            I just am amused at people thinking work works that way when every attempt to make work better gets the people don’t want to work anymore treatment.

          3. Friendo*

            I don’t think it’s a false assumption, by asking the question they’re giving the interviewer the opportunity to explain the situation. A false assumption would be not asking it and then blaming the candidate for having a cultural issue.

            1. Sloanicota*

              It’s tough because there are certain conventions in interviews, the first being that you don’t trash talk your current/former employer, even if they are not great. Candidates who do this look like they have poor judgement – because whether an employer sucks or not, it’s just not something you discuss in an interview. That advice has been given on this blog plenty of times – focus on what excite you about the current opportunity and say you’re “ready for a change” or something (as long as your tenure has been reasonable). So interviewers pressing hard on exactly why you haven’t addressed your concerns with your boss puts candidates in a pretty tricky situation with no good answer.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      It’s definitely a question that may have thrown me in an interview, but I think I could manage now that I’ve read some perspectives on it. In my last role, I never explicitly told my manager that I was unhappy, but there were signs. I asked about once/month about getting to learn more about the company and get to be more involved in team activities (I was a highly siloed individual contributor). That never happened – and when I brought it up to someone else in my exit interview, they were confused about why I never got invited to certain things (and now I’ll never know).

    4. learnedthehardway*

      Of course, knowing how someone resolves conflicts can be important information, but it could be equally correct for a candidate to say that they realize that the culture is simply not a fit for them, and that it would be pointless to bring it up, because it’s perfectly obvious that the company culture is NOT going to change for a new employee.

      To do so might be considered being quite arrogant and self-centered, in fact, if the culture was a positive one but simply not the right fit for the person. And if the culture is a nest of vipers, well, what’s the point? Why would a current employ risk their current employment to point out that the culture is dysfunctional or abusive, if there is no real prospect of it improving? Better to simply find another role and get out.

      It seems a bit privileged of a hiring manager to ask this. I might respond with a mention that it is encouraging that the interviewing company would be open to this sort of feedback, but that that sort of thing wouldn’t be appreciated and might have negative consequences at my current company.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        This is definitely valid. While I did give indirect feedback in my last role, there was one a few years ago that had practices that didn’t fit with my ethics and I wasn’t going to fight that. Now, the next role that I got was much more advanced and specialized than the one at unethical company, so it would be easily explained anyway. I suppose it depends on if this is a follow-up to “Why are you looking to leave your current role?” in which you give a very valid, unchangeable reason (so following up is strange) or if this question is in place of that question.

      2. Friendo*

        I don’t really get how it it is privileged to ask the question, I think it would be privileged to reject an explanation.

  5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (running cables above desk) – big overreaction by OP. The correct response if the work has to be done right now is “could you just give me 5 mins to clear this stuff off my desk before you go up there?” and then go and grab a coffee or visit someone else’s desk about that issue you need to follow up with them about or whatever.

    1. Catwhisperer*

      OP commented at the end of the original post as “Mark,” sounds like he did try to do that but his teammate proceeded with what he was doing and didn’t allow him to clear anything. The specific phrase he used was “don’t f*** with me” and that was in response to his coworker ignoring his request and calling him an a**.

      That being said, the appropriate response would be to go immediately to management when his coworker ignored his reasonable requests and swore at him, not to swear back.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “Don’t f*** with me” unfortunately comes across here as “… or else!” when you don’t have anything in mind for the or else.

  6. Firefinch*

    I know it’s too late, but for creepy interview dude, at least at a public restaurant you have people around you so it’s safer to leave. Alone in an office after hours is less safe. I got creepy vibes once, and it turned out dude was selling Amway. So not personally creepy anyway. And once the interview was in a small office the size of a shipping container, and everything was gray. Like, the walls, the carpet, the desk, dude’s entire outfit, and maybe his skin. It was super weird. And halfway through the interview he leaned back in this chair and let his hands sit right on his crotch, legs spread wide. He kept on talking business like this was remotely normal. He wasn’t fondling himself (yet?), but I got right out of there and never looked back.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I thought the same, I’d rather have the awkward interview in a restaurant than after hours in an office (but actually I’d just not go).

    2. amoeba*

      My other thought was that if he was actually hitting on me, I’d rather know before possibly accepting a position and then having creep as a boss – and would probably be more likely to find out in the restaurant setting. So, I mean, I just wouldn’t go at all, but not sure whether making him keep the fig leaf of professionality during the interview will be helpful?

    3. Butterfly Counter*

      Yeah, unless there were other people in on the same floor, I was thinking the same thing. Another alternative is a coffee shop. Less romantic connotations and easier to leave 5 or 10 minutes into the interview rather than have to wait for your entree and the check.

  7. Adam*

    Me reading the start of #1: Hrm, this doesn’t sound great, but sometimes people are really proactive about recruiting candidates they think would be a great fit, and that could be coming off badly…

    Me reading “take me out to dinner”: Nope, nevermind, super creepy, time to run.

  8. Despachito*

    OP3- I am baffled how many people say it was OP’s fault, because how I read it is like this:

    – the coworker took the liberty to thread the other cable on his own (so there were no company-wide interests)
    – OP’s request to consider other alternatives was legitimate and deserved a respectful answer (even if it was “sorry OP, but this is the only way it can be done and I really need it”)
    – the coworker stepping on OP’s desk and papers was disrespectful and rude

    To curse at him over that definitely was not the best solution but given the situation (the coworker steamrolling OP, spoiling their papers and doing exactly what OP was afraid of) it was a logical one.

    I think the coworker was definitely more at fault here, and I feel sort of betrayed on behalf of the OP (in a way of “adding insult to injury”).

  9. Retail dalliance*

    I know this was the case when it was published 10 years ago but I am strongly joining the ranks of those who disagree with the response to the stepping-on-the-desk-guy. The only part I agree with is that it was inappropriate to curse at the guy who stepped on LW’s desk. All the other information in the letter depict the cable threader as an inconsiderate jerk who can’t work well with others.

    If someone needed to do this exact thing for work purposes and I suggested alternatives, I’d expect a polite conversation or explanation and an apologetic attitude that my workspace would be negatively impacted, even temporarily, by implementing the plan. If it was clear after that that there were no alternatives, I’d expect to be given the courtesy of some time to move my belongings, and I would furthermore expect cable threader to take precautions to avoid messing up the work space, and help remedying the situation afterwards. The bold entitlement of the cable threader sets my teeth on edge.

    Again, do not interpret my comment here to be excusing blowing up at a coworker. We all have professional responsibility to speak respectfully even when tense emotions are in play. But there was wild disrespect here from cable threader and that was fully ignored in the response from 2013.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      THIS. Cursing not great. Okay its not HIS workspace. But it is the company’s and the papers are for the job. What coworker did was just bulldoze ahead and do what he wanted regardless of inconvenience to anyone else. Fiberglass everywhere is a safety hazard. I don’t know if they had an IT department but any cable threading would be done by them or facilities management to make sure it was done 1) correctly and didn’t mess up everyone else’s system and 2) safely to avoid hazards and messing up people’s work.

      1. Billy Preston*

        Right?!? The only issue I have with this is the cursing but otherwise, the cable stepping dude was way out of line and showed no concern for OP.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – it’s also a health and safety issue to have fibreglass insulation all over the place, to have someone using a desk instead of a ladder, etc. etc.

      Not to mention that threading electrical cables behind walls/ceiling – there are building codes about that (assuming there were electrical cables, not just the cables that go between the computer and peripherals).

      Mike should have gone to his manager about this, if co-irker was being an ass.

  10. The Other Sage*

    OP #1 – This interview invitation feels creepy

    Because of guys like this I advise you to read “The gift of fear” by Gavin de Becker. Your instict is right, and from what you say I suspect that the extra money you would earn will not compensate working with or for this guy.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I’d recommend taking that book with several large grains of salt. On the chapter on DV, he says ignorant things like “The first time a woman is hit, she is a victim and the second time, she is a volunteer.”

      1. The Other Sage*

        Good point, and thanks for pointing this out! I had forgotten that part!

        For domestic violence it’s better to read “Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft.

      2. Elliot*

        I agree with you about the domestic violence chapter, but the main thrust of the book – loads of examples where women’s instincts were right on point – isn’t wrong.

        1. A. Nonymous*

          And as the offspring of a mother who absolutely went back to an abuser over and over to my detriment, sadly the “victim becomes volunteer” way of framing abuse (while overly applied for sure) isn’t wrong, and it does a disservice to people like me to pretend otherwise.

        2. Butterfly Counter*

          I like that he points out it’s not even instinct, it’s people/women noticing little details that are off and acting on that recognition, even if you aren’t consciously making the connections as to why those small details shouldn’t be there.

          But agreed that a person reading it should take what he says with a grain of salt. His background has given him experience with domestic violence, but also bias.

      3. Jackalope*

        Yeah, it’s widely agreed that the DV chapter was strongly affected by the author’s childhood experiences with DV and his feelings towards his abused parent who didn’t get him out. I’ve heard that he later commented on his personal experiences getting in the way of that, although I can’t find the quote. The rest of it is incredibly helpful, though, and I highly recommend it as well.

        1. A. Nonymous*

          As another child of DV, I actually find his perspective incredibly important and often misinterpreted (or at least dismissed far too quickly). As hard as it is to acknowledge, a lot of children from abusive households feel profound anger towards the enabling parent*, and it does a tremendous disservice to pretend otherwise. To act as if the “victim becomes volunteer” phenomenon isn’t an accurate descriptor in very limited circumstances is…. dishonest, I think.

          It’s complicated and painful and alienating to feel anger towards the person who knowingly kept you in an abusive situation in addition to the anger you feel towards your abuser, and I feel it does a serious, serious disservice to throw out this perspective out of hand. It’s extreme and has shades of victim blaming…. it’s also incredibly true to life for an experience that is often shunted into a lesser or expected category of abuse. And that sucks. It reminds me a commenter here, Temperance, who used to articulate in great detail the abuse she suffered at the hands of a mentally ill parent, and the frustration she felt in having her experience downgraded because her mother(?) was also suffering.

          *(This may not be the most elegant phrasing, but I had trouble thinking of anything else…)

      4. Annabelle*

        I’m not discounting that criticism but additional context is that Gift of Fear’s author was the child of an abusive father who abused the author’s mother regularly (and maybe also the author? I haven’t read the book in a while). So when looking at that clause from the perspective of a kid who very much is trapped in the abusive home, even more so than either parent…I can at least see why they’d be like, “why are BOTH of my parents—the adults here—screwing me over???”
        As adults, we then realize that “just leave” is not always so cut and dried. It is really hard for a kid to understand that (and maybe they shouldn’t have to, TBH).

  11. Jade*

    Always trust your instincts when it comes to creepy men. Read the first chapter of The Gift of Fear. This guy is a creep, will continue to be a creep, and may be lying that you are in consideration for the job. I wish we had an update.

  12. Rondeaux*

    It sounds like OP and the coworker in #3 were both jerks in this situation. Yes OP shouldn’t have swore at the guy, but the colleague’s behavior seemed pretty rude as well.

    Unless there’s more to it that we don’t know I’d say they’re both at fault

  13. metadata minion*

    #2 – If anyone does bring up Betty’s role in this, you can always say that she must have misheard or confused you with someone else or something like that. As far as I can tell from the letter, there’s no direct evidence that she was actually lying rather than this being a weird misunderstanding, so giving her the benefit of the doubt and consigning it to Just One Of Those Things seems both kind and simple.

  14. Not Elizabeth*

    LW1 — I think if I were meeting this guy in the evening, I’d rather do it in a public place than in his office after hours.

  15. Anonm*

    Hmmm….I’m not sure I like the idea of meeting with creepy-vibes guy in an empty office (since it’s after hours, I assume the general office would be empty). Better to try and interview on your lunch break in his office, or before work in public place like a Starbucks (which feels less date-y).

    1. Sloanicota*

      Honestly I would have retracted my request to meet after hours and just clear a regular time during the work day to interview. I’ve never even heard of interviewing in the evening for an admin role. If you have no PTO, perhaps the lunch hour.

  16. A. Nonymous*

    “She and I had our differences (apparently even worse ones than I’d thought!), but she was fundamentally a good person”

    Someone who knowingly told this lie about you is not, in fact, a good person.

  17. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #3 – I feel like the original answer was too hard on the LW. This feels like a situation where both were in the wrong. LW was in the wrong by not permitting the colleague to do their job the way they needed to do it and then cursing at the colleague afterward. It’s the company’s office, not their personal office. But it sounds like colleague was disrespectful in how he got job done. Colleague should have permitted for LW to clear the desk first given that they were stepping on the desk where there were work papers and potentially LW’s personal things that could have been stepped on.

  18. Fiona Orange*

    Letter #4 reminds me of a work incident that happened many years ago. There was a training being held in our office (in the conference room, not near anyone’s desks), and during the breaks in the training, several of the trainees would congregate in and around the cubicles of the various staff members. They would stand right next to people’s desks and sometimes even sat in their chairs as they chatted with each other, made phone calls, or just took some time to stretch. Needless to say, this did not go over well with those of us who worked in the cubicles, and felt that our personal space was being violated. We talked to the person who was leading the training and asked him to tell the trainees to respect our space and not go in or near our cubicles. It worked, but as I read #4, I was reminded of this incident when Alison said that our desks aren’t really ours and that they belong to the company. I can’t help but wonder how she (and the commenters here) would have responded to my situation. Does the “it’s not really your space” rule hold when people who don’t work at the office are standing in employee’s work spaces when they don’t need to be, and are interfering with the employees’ ability to work? I have a good feeling that the trainees were out of line, but I’m just curious to read what others have to say.

    1. Fiona Orange*

      I meant to say Letter #3, not Letter #4. Disregard my other two comments that I made when this comment didn’t post at first.

  19. H3llifIknow*

    I realize, that of course these are all old, but I’m not sure about the ethernet cable one. I also have worked for gov contractors for 20+ years now. Everywhere I’ve worked has had dedicated IT people who run cable and support the computing environment, and they politely tell you when/what they’re doing and what you need to move in your space/off your desk if it’s going to be disruptive. I’m trying to figure out why this guy is going around his office threading ethernet cable, unless they ARE IT support, in which case the “threader” should’ve known better what he was doing. The LW shouldn’t have cursed at him, but if I was still sitting at my desk and someone started raining down dirt (and if on base, roach dust, asbsestos, and god know what else) onto me/my desk, stepping ON my desk without covering it, on top of potential working papers, I’d have definitely gotten a little…. salty, for sure.

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Yes, I’m hung up here too. If this employee wasn’t IT or office facilities, then LW would have been far more in the right to stop the colleague until a manager got involved. No IT person I’ve ever worked with has been so disrespectful to have me stop what I’m doing so that they can stand all over the papers on my desk. Minimally, they would have permitted me to move my things and especially my work papers.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      The letter writer for the ethernet question gave more details in the comments of the original post (under the username Mark):

      1). My co-worker is (was) also my friend. We used to hang out on the weekends but now I am not sure where I see our friendship.
      2). He is the same type of engineer as me (Software Engineer I). He is NOT an IT guy – just another member of our team.
      3). No one above me/him told me he had to do it,as far as I understand it – he said he needed to do it so he could keep his 2nd computer. Its not because it was the only alternative. He decided that was the best way to handle it.

      Definitely not a dedicated IT person approved to run ethernet cable, so the context helps explain why the LW got so angry. (I didn’t copy Mark’s whole comment, so there’s a few more details if you’re curious.)

      1. soontoberetired*

        In some companies, HR or workplace services would be very unhappy about someone stepping on desks to do things. It is a big no-no in many places for safety reasons. Also, that kind of unauthorized work would get people in trouble at a lot of places. Wiring cable on your own?

    3. Elliot*

      Yeah it’s not something I’d advise people to do, but if it’s a problem for people to sort out their own cables, it’s for the boss to say it’s not okay, not for a colleague. You can roll your eyes, or privately decide he’s a jerk, or rude, but it doesn’t rise to the level of swearing at him. You could ask him to clean it up, I think. That’s about it.

  20. gawaine*

    For OP#1, if I had questions about the manager’s intent at that level, I wouldn’t want the job regardless. Odds are that even if everything’s innocent, it’ll start you off on the wrong foot, and you’ll continually be wondering where you stand. I’ve had both managers and direct reports where there were vibes that weren’t intended but set people up for misunderstandings, and that friction reduces everyone’s ability to focus on work.

    That said, even I were going into a dinner interview with someone without those kinds of questions, I’d ask if there was someone else from the team that could join us so I could get a better feeling for the work culture. Then you can see the byplay between them, and particularly see if the body language and tone are different when they talk to each other versus you. Unless the expectation of the position is that you’ll spend a lot of time alone with the manager, in which case I’d definitely want the dinner alone, since you can flee an interview with less repercussions than a business dinner after you start.

  21. Rondeaux*

    The update for #2 was a little confusing. It sounds like things had been cleared up, so i’m not clear why the OP gave a verbal warning to Veronica and talked about firing her

    1. bamcheeks*

      I was slightly confused by that too. I can see why LW was a little annoyed at Veronica, and I think LW’s perspective was that Veronica had been gossipping and damaged their reputation by spreading this story, and that’s a legitimate thing to be annoyed by. At the same time, if I heard a rumour that my manager had physically assaulted someone, the last thing I’d do is “talk to them about it first”! I mean, I guess the best case scenario is that it’s a really awkward conversation but you come away thoroughly reassured that of course they didn’t, but “they denied it, but I’m not sure I believe them” and “they admitted it, and now I know my manager physically assaults people and also they know I know” both seem like completely possible and REALLY bad outcomes. I’m not totally sure what that conversation was supposed to achieve!

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      If you look at the original update, OP responded in comments as OP1 — Veronica got a warning because she showed poor judgment by spreading a rumor that was damaging both to OP *and* to Diana.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yeah, some of the context in those comments is helpful for painting a fuller picture. I think this one in particular is useful:

        I mentioned this further down, but Veronica has known Diana for two years. She could very, very easily have asked her about it, if she didn’t want want to ask me. She didn’t get the warning for believing an untruth, she got it for spreading slander (ie, repeating something she hadn’t witnessed and had no confirmation of, which could do real damage to both my reputation and Diana’s).

        Like bamcheeks says, I wouldn’t want to ask my manager “hey, is it true you physically assaulted someone?” But, Veronica could have asked Diana “is it true you and OP got into a fight when you left [job]?” without worrying that Diana would fire/demote/give bad assignments/etc. in retaliation.

    3. Ms. Murchison*

      Veronica has shown dangerously bad judgment and is basically on probation. Telling every single person who joins your team a false story about your manager getting into a physical altercation with another employee is a major transgression, and as the manager saw after the team learned the truth, that lie had had a significant negative impact on their team’s working environment. Veronica hadn’t seen the altercation herself and didn’t ask anyone else whether it was true, but she believed the false story and the liar who created it enough to keep spreading it even when three years of working with LW#2 showed no evidence that they were violent. And it hadn’t occurred to Veronica that the story was negatively impacting Diana’s reputation too. LW#2 is probably wondering what else Veronica has been doing to undermine the team and is taking defensive action.

      1. BellyButton*

        And after 3 yrs she hasn’t formed her own opinion about OP? If Veronica hasn’t witnessed any out bursts (yelling, throwing things) then any reasonable person would assume that the story isn’t true, or at the very least OP received counselling/anger management.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, it’s a bit odd to me that they swung from “I’m not sure I should talk to her about this at all” to “I wish I could have fired her over this.” Especially because if it *had* been a true story I don’t think any of us would think Veronica was necessarily wrong to be warning coworkers! We don’t know for sure how Veronica came to believe that was the truth (though it seems OP was assuming from Betty), but it doesn’t seem like she was spreading gossip maliciously and I don’t think firing should ever have even been considered.

      But ultimately it sounds like everything worked out okay so *shrug*

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I don’t know if I would say she wasn’t spreading the rumor maliciously, though. At a previous job, a coworker told me that our boss had slept with a VP — I have no idea if it was true, no way to prove if it was, and so I…did not ever speak of it again. My experience of that boss was of a fair manager who treated the people on her team equitably as far as I could see, so what would have been the point of whispering to my colleagues that she’d slept with a VP?

        Clearly the two situations aren’t analogous — someone being violent at work is concerning — but like, Veronica had worked with OP for 3 years and never at all felt unsafe, and *still* decided to tell all the new hires that OP hit a colleague. Maybe that’s not malicious, but it surely isn’t benign.

  22. Hazel*

    It’s fascinating to see how questions and advice have evolved over the years, as evidenced by reactions to creepy interview guy and faux IT person! Wfh isn’t the only way that work has changed in a decade!

  23. BellyButton*

    I wish there was an update for #1.

    Ladies, please please please trust your instincts. We have talked a lot here lately about how women are conditioned and taught to be responsible for men’s emotions and actions, even when it puts us in danger. When reading that letter, my first thought, was do not meet in his office after hours if no one else is there! That is more a vulnerable place than a restaurant.

    He may genuinely have wanted to give OP1 an opportunity AND going about it in a creepy way. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Often men do not realize how careful women have to be about situations like this and don’t realize they are being creepy.

    One of the great things about getting older is I am not more confident in being direct. Especially when it is a situation like this, where we are not colleagues. “I just want to confirm this is strictly professional.” If he reacts badly, “What do you think I am. I am a married man, blah blah rage blah” Then don’t go. If he reacts in a reasonable way “Of course! I am so sorry if I implied otherwise or made you uncomfortable..”

    1. BellyButton*

      Reading back over my reply I see I made excuses for men— “Often men do not realize..” Sheesh, even being aware of it and enraged by it, I still do it!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      There’s no official update, but there is an update of sorts in the comment section on the original post. I’ll drop a link in a reply to this comment, but while that goes through moderation you can find it by searching “OP #1*” on the original post.

      The tl:dr is that the OP went to the interview and that went fine, but she was leaning towards not accepting the job if she got the offer.

  24. BellyButton*

    I would be pretty upset if someone climbed onto my desk, trampling all over my papers and making a mess. However, I also would have said “can you wait a bit, I am in the middle of something, and want to clean off my desk. Can you find something to put down so everything doesn’t get cover in ceiling dust?”

    Both could have handled it better.

  25. Veryanon*

    That first letter – yikes. I hope the LW trusted her instincts and steered clear of this creeper.

    1. BellyButton*

      It would be really interesting to hear her perspective now-being 5 yrs older can make a big difference in your perceptions.

  26. kiki*

    I am really surprised by the answer to letter 3! LW was out of line for blowing up, but getting up on somebody’s desk without any heads-up and treading on their papers is really rude. At very least, the coworker should have asked LW if they could help them clear their desk first.

  27. Fiona Orange*

    #3 reminds me of a situation from many years ago at my old job. There was a training happening in the conference room, and during breaks, the trainees would often congregate in and around the cubicles to chat with each other, make phone calls, or just chill out. They sometimes did this even when we were actually sitting at our desks trying to work. I remember one incident where I asked a trainee to please make their phone call someplace else, and she said, “I’ll only be on the phone for a little while.” I was tempted to say, “Then you can be on the phone for a little while someplace else,” but I didn’t, because I’m too polite.
    Needless to say, us employees were not okay with this and we asked the trainer to ask the trainees to respect our space and stay away from our cubicles.
    I realize that letter #3 is a completely different situation, but I was reminded of it when Allison said that our workspace is not our own. Does the “this isn’t your space” rule apply when people (who don’t work for the organization) use our workspace to hang out or make phone calls for just a short time? Were we out of line for not wanting the trainees to congregate in and near our spaces because it interfered with our ability to work effectively? For the record, there were several other places where the trainees could have gone during their break- the kitchen, the hallway, even the back of the training room.
    Also, what is the appropriate response to “I’ll only be here a little while,” when even a little while is too long?
    I apologize if this seems like a weird or stupid question, but I am neurodivergent and I struggle with issues like this. It’s only recently that I have become aware of just how much my disability impacts me and my ability to communicate, so I just want to make sure I’m not doing anything wrong.

  28. Fiona Orange*

    This is weird. I submitted two comments to this page and neither one has appeared. This is just a test to see what happens.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Your comments may have gone to moderation. A comment that goes to moderation won’t appear until it has “passed” (determined to be OK), anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after you hit “submit.” (If it breaks commenting rules, it will be deleted and will never show on the commenting page.) There are four main reasons a comment goes to moderation (that I know of):

      1 – comment has a link in it
      2 – comment has a certain word/phrase in it (the list of words/phrases isn’t published anywhere because then people would just work around it by misspelling words or using different words)
      3 – sometimes posting a lot of comments in a short amount of time will trip the moderation filter because you look like you could be a bot
      4 – mod filters often have unknowable quirks and will occasionally grab comments without any apparent rhyme or reason

    2. Mimmy*

      In addition to Hlao-roo’s comment, I think Alison takes vacation around this time of year (hence the round-up of archived posts, reader updates and other special posts), so I don’t know how much monitoring of the site she’s doing right now.

  29. Alan*

    For #1, drop a reference to your “boyfriend” during casual conversation, whether or not you have one. Chances are the job opportunity will vanish into thin air and you’ll know for sure. (For the record, I understand that people shouldn’t need to do this, but it’s a very very simple test. And +1 on The Gift Of Fear. Terrific book summarized with “trust your gut”.)

  30. NotARealManager*

    #3 is an ESH situation.

    I help out with IT stuff like cable management and computer set up from time to time and it can be very disruptive. I try to do it at a time people are not at their desks and then put everything back the way I found it (as much as that can reasonably be done) and do any cleanup that’s needed. I also warn them that I’ll be coming by when they’re not there so the can have their space organized how they’d like in advance of my work.

    If it can’t wait, I speak to the desk occupant and let them know the scope of my disruption and what I’ll do to remedy any mess that’s caused on my part. Then they have a chance to clear their space and save any work they’ve got open.

    But OP3 does need to stop thinking of the desk as “their space”. It is theirs, to an extent. But company directives will take priority over it.

  31. Orv*

    As someone who had a job where I frequently had to run cable through ceilings:

    – I didn’t want to be in other people’s offices messing around either, but it was part of the job.
    – Ceilings are nasty but it’s often the only place to run cable.
    – Stepping on your desk was unprofessional. He should have used a stepladder.
    – I always did my best to leave an office as clean as it was when I came in.

  32. Lorraine*

    I actually disagree with Alison’s advice for #1. Between an empty office after hours and a dinner, I think the dinner would be the safer space if the LW is creeped out. (The rest I agree with!)

  33. A person*

    I have to disagree with the answer to #3. I’ve worked in maintenance before and it’s pretty standard to try not to impact someone’s office space or work without coordinating with them somehow first. The person running the cable should’ve covered the work space or given the occupant a chance to move stuff so not much got dirty or stepped on and then cleaned up whatever mess was made when done.

    I agree that the LW should not have cursed at the person doing the work, but I believe they were justified in being frustrated that the person had so little respect for their workspace. They would’ve been justified in being firm about not making a mess on their desk or letting them clear off papers and stuff before their desk was used as a ladder and filing a complaint with a manager if they were ignored, because, yes it is disrespectful to your coworker if you were asked not to get their space messed up and then just completely ignored it. I’ve coordinated and performed a lot of maintenance in my time and I’d never treat someone’s desk that way. It’s not that hard to be considerate of your coworkers.

Comments are closed.