acupuncture as a team-building activity, coworker turns down new work but isn’t doing much, 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.

1. We’re supposed to try cupping and acupuncture as a team-building activity

My workplace is big on team-building and morale-boosting events. Normally the events are not bad and are something everyone can enjoy (everyone gets taken to lunch on company time/dime to a restaurant chosen from a list by all employees, motivational speakers who are actually interesting, an employee art display for individuals who like to draw or paint, etc.). The morale and working environment is good and I have never had any issues until now.

The newest activity my boss wants to do is for everyone to try both cupping and acupuncture. He is touting the health benefits of these “treatments.” How do I tell him I don’t believe in woo and no one is putting suction cups or needles anywhere near me? In my opinion, treatments like these are nothing more than snake oil and I refuse to have any part of them. I’m not the only one who feels this way either. Before this, everyone was always excited about the activities and events put on by the company, but most of the individuals I have talked to want nothing to do with this woo.

Are you required to participate, or just strongly encouraged to? If the latter, say something like “I’m not up for this one” or “this one isn’t my cup of tea” and just sit it out. But if you’re discouraged from opting out, then say something like this: “I don’t feel comfortable participating in health treatments as a work activity, and alternative medicine in particular isn’t universally embraced. I’m hoping we can reconsider this event, or provide an alternative for people who aren’t comfortable with it.”


2. My coworker turns down new work but isn’t doing much work now

I’ve been in my position longer than my new coworker who has the same title, and therefore I typically delegate the tasks between the two of us (but I am not her manager). Because I am more senior, our manager recently assigned some other tasks to me and suggested that I delegate more of the job-typical tasks to my coworker.

My coworker has started pushing back and asking if I can take on some of the newer projects instead of giving them to her. However, her door is right next to mine, and I can’t help but notice that every day she’s only in the building between 6-7.5 hours, which includes one-hour lunches with other coworkers, so 5-6.5 hours working. It’s not my job to police other people’s work schedules, so I’ve said nothing to our manager. I’m okay with my coworker saying she’s too busy to take on extra tasks, because in that case I’d just stay later and take them on myself, but she’s not even working 40 hours per week. Is it possible for me to fix this without bringing to my manager and sounding whiny? If so, how should I approach it?

Well, you can try being firmer with your coworker: “Jane, I need to divvy this up, so I’m going to take X and you should take Y.” And then if she tells you that she doesn’t have time, you could say, “Hmmm, I won’t have time to do this either, so if you don’t either, I should go talk to (manager).”

And yes, you will probably end up needing to talk to your manager — but that’s not going to sound whiny. Part of your job is to flag it for your manager when things are impacting your work, and you especially have standing to do that here because your manager has asked you to delegate to your coworker. I’d say this to your manager: “You’ve suggested that I delegate more to Jane, but when I’ve tried to, she’s told me that she doesn’t have time to take them on. Has she by chance worked out an abbreviated schedule with you? I’ve noticed she often doesn’t work full days, but I wasn’t sure if that was something official she’d worked out with you, and I don’t want to put her in an awkward position by pushing if she has.” On the off chance that your coworker has worked out a shortened schedule, that’ll be helpful to know — but if she hasn’t, you’ll be flagging what’s happening for your manager, who will probably ask you for more information about what’s going on or start paying more attention to it herself.

“It’s soooo unfair that Jane takes long lunches” is whiny. “I’m not able to delegate work to Jane because she says she doesn’t have time to do it, but she’s also not working full hours” isn’t whiny; it’s factual information that your manager needs to have in order to oversee the workflow in her department.


3. Don’t mention your “sexual purity” on your resume

I am reviewing law student applications for a summer internship/clerkship position at a large public law firm. One applicant included, among other standard experience stuff, that he was a “Co-Leader of a Young Men’s Sexual Purity Accountability Group” during his undergrad years. Alison, what do I do with this information? I can see in some contexts that this might(?) be appropriate (he also included a lot of not super relevant church activities on his resume), but I can’t figure out why he would include this in this context. The other members of the hiring panel are as put off by this as I am — are we right to have this reaction? I just don’t want to know literally anything about applicants’ sex lives!

Yeah, this is the other side of the earlier question from someone who wondered if there was a way to put his leadership of a sex club on his resume.

Your sex life stays off your resume.

Possibly this guy has just gotten very bad resume advice, but it certainly raises the concern that he doesn’t understand what is and isn’t appropriate to discuss in a work context. You are right to be squicked out and put off of his candidacy.


4. Can I go to my wife’s work function even though they said spouses aren’t invited?

So my wife has a work function three hours away that will involve drinking, between 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. It’s supposed to be a manager celebration at an arcade. Since it’s so far and casual, she assumed spouses were invited. When she asked her boss, he said spouses are not. Now we’re both pissed because, as it is, my spouse works close to 60 hours every week and I never see her. This seems like the one time the company could extend an olive branch to neglected spouses and balance work and life a tiny bit, but no. Can she bring me anyway? I don’t want her to get in trouble, but can she even? She is being forced to go but is at least getting paid to do so.

No, she absolutely cannot bring you if she already asked and was told that spouses aren’t invited. It would be rude and awfully weird to bring you after she’s been explicitly told that.

It’s pretty normal for companies to have daytime functions like this (for morale / celebration / team-building purposes) that spouses aren’t invited to.


{ 346 comments… read them below }

  1. Ink*

    Well, #1 sent my eyebrows to another zip code. The health aspect… ugh, that icks me out more than the letter with the matching tattoos did!

    1. Phryne*

      On the broad spectrum of things that are not ok as team activities ‘stuff that violates my physical integrity’ should really be a no brainer.
      I have a needle phobia, which I am dealing with so that I can keep me accessing necessary healthcare, but every time someone needs to stick a needle in me takes time to prepare and engage coping systems and asking for support. It is mentally exhausting, I would simply not be physically able to do this without getting a panic attack. I literally would not care if this is compulsory or not, I will point blank refuse.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Hard agree.

        At the recommendation of a therapist from the cancer center, I see a specific person who does acupressure. After a few visits I agreed to let her try cupping. (It goes straight at my needle phobia.) For my very specific health circumstances, with a provider who works with cancer patients and with whom I’ve built up trust, this wound up being astonishingly helpful–like, my husband and children commented on how much this was helping, and how they were all really glad I agreed to try one more thing.

        Nothing in the above says “… and that’s why I want to do this in a room full of my coworkers.” Like any other medical treatment.

        1. Sandi*


          I’m strongly anti-woo and very pro-science and double-blind studies, and have seen studies and heard anecdotes about the positive effects of acupuncture and those types of options that lead me to think they could be helpful at times. So I don’t think the way forward is to say that it isn’t effective, because it might be.

          I think the very strong pushback is on how this is a violation of personal space. I am not getting massages at work, nor doing anything with needles in my body unless it’s really necessary to help me.

          1. Laser99*

            I agree having acupuncture in the work place is a bad idea, but acupuncture goes back thousands of years, it is not “woo-woo.” It helped me quit smoking.

            1. STAT!*

              Yeah, and the theory of humours goes back thousands of years also. The mere fact of a practice having a venerable history is not proof of likely efficacy. But congratulations on quitting smoking.

              1. nodramalama*

                There is a lot more evidence about the benefits of practices such as acupuncture than humours, and this response is kind of insulting

        2. SuperBB*

          Exactly. Acupuncture has been studied in other countries and is beneficial for certain things like chronic pain or IVF, but it’s not for team building!

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            Yup! My acupuncturist, who I see for chronic pain issues, was also the one to figure out that dairy is a pain trigger for me. Sucks, because I love cheese, but I’m so glad that I’m down to 200-400mg of ibuprofen only when needed, versus the 800-2400 I was taking daily before.

            Acupuncture is no more “woo” than any other branch of science that has its roots in history. Yes, we can take a pill rather than chew on willow bark to relieve pain, but the pill came from that knowledge.

            All that being said, this falls under the “not with anyone else” category. My acupuncturist has a role that only those she is actively treating at that time period are allowed in the building. I’m not sure how this would work as team-building??

          2. coffee*

            I’ve had some acupuncture for lower back pain from my physio and it was effective for me. What I was not expecting was how much it altered my brain – I react quite strongly, it turns out, and puts me in a kind of floaty/sleepy mental space that I would not want to be in at work.

        3. Anon Again... Naturally*

          Hard agree. I had severe migraines that were not responsive to medication, and the specialist I was working with recommended I consider acupuncture. I was desperate enough to try it, and it worked! But it’s something I was doing for a specific issue, with my doctor’s support, and not something I would ever consider doing in a group setting, let alone with my co-workers!

      2. Reality.Bites*

        I’ve had company things involving needles before, but they were flu shots and blood donation.

        Key difference of course is they were entirely voluntary and no one was foolish enough to consider them morale-boosters.

        Technically I’ve had company-paid acupuncture too, but that was with a physiotherapist

      3. Ink*

        Same, trying not to think about it. I’m not safe to drive myself home from a flu shot; I avoid looking at needles/pictures of needles, and while I’ve neer tested how many I can see before I need someone else to drive me home, I’m pretty confident that it’s spectating acupuncture number of needles. Actually DOING it myself might take me out entirely

    2. triss merigold*

      I have the firm stance that workplace activities should not involve stabbing or bruising. Can’t say I’d be thrilled about reiki either, but the stabbing and bruising takes it from “I don’t think this is appropriate,” to “Have you lost your entire mind?”

    3. BellStell*

      Agree. However, where I work pushing back on things like these that managers see as “fun” gets some of us in trouble even with a kind, gentle reply as suggested by Alison. I cannot do some sporty things. Instead of letting me sit these events out the big boss is always like, “ugh, I guess we can just go to lunch etc” and even if I offer to take pics but sit it out she gets grumpy. I am exhausted. I imagine she would suggest acupuncture, too, to be honest in some new event next year.

    4. Generic Name*

      I don’t even understand how it can be team building. Unless everyone will be in the same room while the procedures are occurring?? Just no.

      1. mlem*

        It’d be because (the boss expects that) the treatments will be so *life-changing* that everyone will spend months or even years enthusing to each other about how *wonderful* it was, further exploring treatments and trading recs, that kind of thing.

        It’s super inappropriate, but the reasoning is probably similar to a group outing to see a movie. Ideally, people aren’t interacting (disrupting other patrons) during the movie itself, but the movie is a shared experience they can bond over later. The boss might be trying to get his cherished treatments covered by the company to some degree or simply to “win over” team members so he has people to enthuse with (or both!).

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          That makes sense. I was confused being the sort of person who would literally faint in front of my coworkers if I was pricked by needles, but him being the sort of person who is a evangelist makes sense

        2. Random Dice*


          A lot of people find magic mushrooms or ecstasy to have that life-altering effect, so I propose this as a great team builder!


      2. LCH*

        yeah, same question. is this going to be like couples massage? or is everyone expected to do it individually while the others sit in the waiting room?

      3. Random Dice*

        I did acupuncture once. I disrobed to massage level, and then a man stuck needles in me and I hung out there for awhile. Then he took them out and I put my clothes back on.

        I’m not at all modest with medical professionals, but EXTREMELY modest with colleagues.

        No way I’m undressing at a work event.

        1. Barb*

          Yes, I’ve done acupuncture – I actually did it for years. It cured my lower back pain. And I was undressed. I would never do it with work colleagues or at the request of a boss. I also would not have it done by anyone not of my choosing.

          I’ve not done cupping, but I’ve seen the marks on people’s bodies sometimes when I’m at the gym – it seems to often be done on the back. My back is not exposed when I’m at work or at a work function.

      4. Festively Dressed Earl*

        I was afraid the “team building” aspect meant that coworkers would be practicing on each other. No way that could get out of hand quickly, right? /s

      5. Just Another Cog*

        I’m the same way. I think these activities take the team building concept too far. I had one boss who scheduled manicures for us as a team building exercise. Another time, he brought in a massage therapist to do chair massages (using his massage chair). It was weird. Neither of those is my cup of tea, so I didn’t attend my appointed time in the conference room. How this was supposed to build relationships with co-workers is beyond me. No one really talked about either activity.

    5. Need coffee*

      Between this and Liver Boss I’m waiting for someome who thinks “let’s all get chemo to support colleague with cancer” is a good idea.

    6. Lucia Pacciola*

      These are the kinds of letters I really want updates to! What script did the LW use? Did it work?

    7. Amber Rose*

      I actually like acupuncture (science or woo, it works for me) and I still would not, under any circumstances, allow it as a work related activity. I built a lot of trust, like weeks of appointments, with my physio before I let them near me with sharps.

      1. DataGirl*

        I can completely understand not wanting to engage in health related activities at work, and respect that people have different opinions about Eastern vs. Western medicine, but calling a 3000 year old practice with millions of practioners and patients* “woo” is really offensive.

        *per the NIH

        1. sofar*

          Came here to say the same. I agree acupuncture and cupping are a bad fit for a work team-building activity (as would be fasting, exercising or any health-related thing — heck, even manicures), but saying, “I think these non-western millennia-old practices are woo” is also a very very bad move. Say your office was taking you out to a non-American food restaurant. Would you also say, “I don’t like this icky foreign food?” No. So I hope LW had the common sense to say, “Not my thing” and leave it like that. Good lord.

          1. JustaTech*

            For the record, acupuncture as it is practiced today (with very fine needles) is *not* millennia old, as no one in the world had the technology to makes needles that fine until about 150 years ago.
            Before then acupuncture was much more like European-style blood letting.

            Acupuncture is woo because it has no scientific basis, just like homeopathy, not because of its country of origin.

            1. Rachael*

              My sister works in public health and has seen the vigorous scientific studies that have been done, specifically in its use as a treatment for depression. No one needs to partake at work or on their own. But the idea that it’s not been studied is false.

              1. STAT!*

                The NIH says this about acupuncture and depression treatment:

                “A 2018 review of 64 studies (7,104 participants) of acupuncture for depression indicated that acupuncture may result in a moderate reduction in the severity of depression when compared with treatment as usual or no treatment. However, these findings should be interpreted with caution because most of the studies were of low or very low quality”.

                See here:

                So it appears acupuncture has been scientifically studied for depression, but most of the studies were not that rigorous. Unless your sister knows something the NIH does not?

            2. DataGirl*

              Check out the National Institute of Health, there have been a lot of studies. You are still equating “science” with “Western way of doing things” which is not cool.

            3. I heart Paul Buchman*

              This is incorrect. In my country acupuncture is used in hospitals for nausea after anaesthetic, for migraines, muscular issues after stroke and for other things. The studies are of a good standard and the acupuncture provided by doctors. It is in no way comparable to homeopathy.
              Why not look at some peer reviewed literature?

        2. mcm*

          yep, came to say the same. Eastern medicine isn’t inherently “woo” and it comes across a bit xenophobic to say so. Fine to say you don’t want health care to be a team building practice and leave it there.

        3. sulky-anne*

          Yeah, cupping and acupuncture (and snake oil actually) are components of traditional Chinese medicine. It’s fine not to want to do them, and very reasonable not to want to do any health or wellness activities at work, but dismissing them as woo comes across as pretty uninformed. There are many health and wellness grifts out there but this isn’t that.

      2. Random Dice*

        There’s a lot of rigorous scientific research that brings acupuncture firmly out of the “woo” category. I’ve personally had a great reduction in pain, and increase in nerve function, thanks to being stuck with needles by experts.

        AND ALSO acupuncture is completely inappropriate for a work place practice, like all medical procedures.

        1. Craig*

          I wouldn’t say all medical procedures, cpr, defibing, insulin injections and epipens could all be appropriate medical procedures in an office but any non urgent treatment can wait, yeah.

    8. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Just here to remind everyone (as I do every time I see the use of ‘snake oil’ like in #1) – snake oil is a traditional Chinese medicine that actually was probably effective, and the reason we use it to connote fraud is ~racism~!

      See also: – assuming there’s no (western scientific) evidence for acupuncture or cupping,
      – conflating acupuncture and homeopathy (which was invented in the 1800s by a German)

      These are all still bad team building activities, but not because they were developed outside of the medical science we’re most familiar with.

    9. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      My question to the boss in #1: “Are you a medical professional? If not, then I won’t be attending, thank you.”

    10. Rainbow*

      Absolutely NOPE to the idea of my workplace supporting and paying money for fake BS. Going out of their way to support scammers, particularly in the field of fake cures that take a ton of money from patients and provide placebo or worse, give false hope, is completely disgusting and horrifying. I don’t think I’d ever look at those coworkers/managers the same way again.

      1. Petty Patty*

        Are you saying acupuncture and cupping are fake BS perpetrated by scammers, or am I misreading this?

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          I don’t think you’re misreading, Petty Patty. I read it exactly the same way!

  2. Louvica*

    OP #4 — I’m truly baffled by asking if you can/should go to your wife’s work function. She already asked and received the direct answer. Why would the two of you try to sneak you in? Because that’s what it is – a rude sneaky move that might spell trouble for your wife.
    Stay home.

    1. MK*

      I read it as an expression of frustration with the lack of work-life balance. It sounds as if this event is going to take up even more time (though it is during the day, so I am not sure) on top of an already heavy schedule.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yes, I think “my wife works 60 hours a week” is the problem here, not “I’m not allowed to go to her work party”.

        1. Emily*

          Exactly, I think the work party is the issue OP is choosing to focus on, but it sounds like the long hours and lack of work/life balance is the real issue.

          Given the amount of updates we’ve gotten where someone has basically said, “I wrote in about this issue, but there were actually a ton of other issues going on as well”, I think it’s natural to think about the issue that’s upsetting you most at the moment and focus on that. However, I don’t think OP going with their wife to the work party would really solve anything, and would most likely just get OP’s wife in trouble with her boss.

        2. Ex-prof*

          That’s the way I read it too. The “neglected spouses” comment was the real issue LW wrote in about.

      2. KateM*

        If it is 11am-3pm, together with drive 8am-6pm, it sounds like a regular working day but spent in arcade. Though the drive/event time ratio is out of whack IMO.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          The letter didn’t mention driving! It’s ridiculously far to go, but especially since they said it involves drinking I assumed there was a bus or something provided. I can’t imagine anyone going if they had to drive!

        2. Daisy-dog*

          Not addressed is whether or not they are expected to accomplish anything else that day. Is there an expectation to still work after they return? They wouldn’t have gotten work done (unless they take calls/manage emails on the trip), so it is a wasted day in the eyes of a company with no boundaries.

      3. Cinnamon Boo*

        Maaayyybe I’d feel differently if it was after hours (I mean, he still shouldn’t go! But I can get the frustration) but it’s literally just during work.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        Right, it is hopefully no longer an immediate issue for the LW. A purpose for the reprints is that readers can always learn from both the LW and the response and the comments.

        I say “immediate issue” because as a commenter said above, the real issue is that the partner is working 60 hours a week and the partner feels the results of poor work / life balance. I hope that longer-term issue is resolved, also

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If that company is not providing bus transportation, I’d say that the husband could travel there and back with his wife and just not go to the event itself. I can find something else to do in almost any place.

      1. RagingADHD*

        That was my thought. Make a road trip of it, make sure she has a designated driver, and go have a nice lunch or see a movie between 11-3. If the destination has arcades, then it is bound to also have restaurants, movie theaters, maybe even tourist attractions or museums.

        Four hours to hang out and explore a new city on your own sounds pretty fun to me.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      OP #4 replied a few times in the comments when the letter was originally posted with more context (under the commenting name “The spouse”):

      What I’m truly annoyed by is the fact that my wife has to drive 3 hours to go to a forced party with alcohol being served when she has gotten into legal trouble over driving impaired in the past. So excuse me if I seemed triggered by anything other than the obvious reason that if they’re not paying for transport or a hotel (and we don’t have the funds for that either), no one should be drinking anything and driving back anywhere. Which is why we assumed that a plus one of any kind was allowed. Now, obviously she will be showing some self restraint if she does decide to drink anything but she also doesn’t drive long distances which means either she’ll need to buck up and drive it herself or tag along with someone else who may not be as responsible. Understand, lots of things are going on here and if anyone here has a spouse who works 60+ hours a week, you can understand our other frustration and why work/life balance is difficult and important to us. Spouses don’t get to choose the others work and sadly, sometimes, even you don’t get to choose the line of work you end up in.

      I’ll link to the first comment of OP#4’s in a reply (there are 8 total).

      1. Cinnamon Boo*

        Yeah, that sounds awful, but you still can’t bring someone after specifically asking when they already said they weren’t allowed. There IS a lot else going on here – none of which means there won’t be negative consequences for the wife bringing her spouse.

      2. Stopgap*

        That was awfully snippy* about the commenters not taking into account information that they hadn’t mentioned yet.

        *On the LW’s part; I know you didn’t write that.

        1. Antilles*

          It’s because the LW had already decided on the solution of “I will just go with” and was annoyed that literally nobody agreed. They wrote in seeking validation of their decision, then got snippy when they didn’t get it.
          That’s also why they also got strangely snippy about every other suggestion the commentariat threw out – wife goes but doesn’t drink, wife offers to serve as DD for the entire office, LW drives and goes to a movie/library/etc for those three hours, and so forth.

            1. doreen*

              Dropped a line to the cops about what? That her job was having an activity where alcohol was available? That applies to many activities, including lunch at a restaurant an hour away from the office.

              1. Antilles*

                @doreen: Exactly.
                There’s no purpose to “dropping a line to the cops”. It’s not actually a crime unless/until someone actively drives home drunk. The party, the drinking, etc are all totally legal. So there’s nothing the cops can do.
                At absolute most, if the police had free time with absolutely nothing else to do, an officer might call the company with a token 60-second phone call reminder of “in this holiday season, please drink responsibly at any holiday parties and avoid driving home”. To which the manager on the other end will wholeheartedly agree; we here at Teapots Unlimited expect our employees to handle themselves in a responsible manner befitting a professional adult.

            2. Michelle Smith*

              Right?! Like there were so many solutions to this problem besides blatantly ignoring the explicit instruction that he was unwelcome at this work event for someone else’s job.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            LW drives and goes to a movie/library/etc for those three hours

            Such an obvious solution… assuming one seeks a solution, from the sounds of it.

      3. DU-Why*

        That’s very interesting, but, no one ever HAS to drink. If both of them really were worried about that, the easiest and most direct solution is to NOT DRINK at that party.

        I know, peer pressure, cultural pressure, etc. I come from a place where drinking on your lunch break is not especially strange, and where the DD probably had at least 1 drink. But if you still feel a way about simply not drinking, get a sparkling water with a lemon or something so it looks like you’re drinking.

        That doesn’t mean that spouse crashes a work even after being explicitly told not to.

        1. Quill*

          Yeah, though if LW’s wife has gotten in trouble for drinking and driving in the relatively recent past it’s very possible that no, she can’t be trusted / trust herself to just not drink. So the most immediate harm reduction strategy is to ensure that she won’t be driving.

          Still doesn’t mean LW gets to crash the party, though.

        2. Willow Pillow*

          Abstaining is easier for someone people than others – addiction is an illness. If “just don’t drink” was enough, we wouldn’t need all these recovery programs.

        3. ClaireW*

          This is what I don’t get, like I’m in Ireland, it’s standard to drink at work events, but we also take drink driving incredibly seriously and the idea that some has no choice but to drink and drive is frankly disgusting. If she can’t refrain from drinking then they have bigger issues and she should skip the event.

      4. learnedthehardway*

        Under those circumstances – very long drive to the location, alcohol being served, mandatory event – SOMEONE at the company should have realized that this was going to put the company into a position of liability, if any accident happened.

        Sure, individuals are responsible for their own alcohol intake, but setting conditions conducive to an issue and failing to do anything to mitigate them (eg. by not allowing spouses to attend, failing to provide bus transportation, not providing hotel rooms, etc. etc.), well, that’s irresponsible on the company’s part. It’s reasonably foreseeable that the conditions could cause a problem, so the company has a responsibility to do something about them.

      5. ferrina*

        Wow, OP is really not good at solving the actual problem. They are choosing very strange hills to die on (maybe because they feel powerless to solve the actual problem)

        Actual problem: My spouse works a lot and I don’t get to see her.
        Perceived problem: My spouse’s company won’t let me attend a work celebration!

        Actual problem: My spouse has a history of driving while impaired, and doesn’t do well driving long distances.
        Perceived problem: My spouse’s company won’t let me attend with her! I can prevent all this!

        Reading between the lines, OP has a spouse problem. It sounds like he and his spouse aren’t on the same page, and he feels powerless to change things. He doesn’t get a chance to see her often and they haven’t figured out a solution to this. It sounds like the solution is to blame outside factors (the job, the company), which doesn’t solve the long term issues. When he says “Spouses don’t get to choose the others work”, well, yes, but also partners should work together to find a lifestyle that works for both of them. It sounds like the current lifestyle doesn’t work for OP. He can’t demand that his wife makes changes, but they should have a real conversation and if his wife isn’t willing to compromise, he needs to consider whether that’s okay for him. I’m sure he loves her and doesn’t want to walk away over this, but at the same time, his frustration and anger is coming out in unhealthy ways. This is a tough situation to navigate.

        I’m also worried about the wife driving impaired. I generally don’t worry about people being at a work party with alcohol unless there’s a history of alcoholic tendencies. Again, he seems to misplace his anger to the company, blaming them for a pretty normal practice. I wonder if he’s again worried about his wife, but feels like expressing that worry would be controlling, so instead he’s subconsciously channeling his anger to the company. It’s a lot easier to blame the company for his wife’s behavior than to have that conversation with yourself about whether this person is really the right person for you. Do they share the same life goals and values? How much compromise is each person doing? How much compromise can each person do before they start to put themself in an unhealthy place?

        1. sparkle emoji*

          Reading through his comments, it seemed like he wanted to change his wife’s working situation but instead focused all that frustration on this party. Maybe she shares the same concerns or maybe she doesn’t and she’s fine with the environment. Either way, they need to talk about that and he needs to find a workable solution that isn’t “I get to impose on all my wife’s company functions”.

      6. SpaceySteph*

        Wow. The letter was a bit out of touch but relatively normal… this other comment has my shoulders up around my ears. So much resentment here, so many bigger issues.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          There were more comments from the LW, too, each weirdly aggressive and dismissive of everyone’s very good suggestions. Shoulders around ears is right!

      1. Elves Have Left the Building*

        That’s where my mind went. If the location is open to the public, he CAN hang out there (away from spouse and her colleagues) and play some games, have a drink or two of his own, etc… for the duration of the party and then drive her home. If it is rented out entirely for her work group, then find a nearby bookstore, coffee shop, whatever. He can drive to and from with her, he just can’t “attend” with her.

        1. Orsoneko*

          In the original comments, LW4 posted this:

          I was originally just going to go and play games on my own because the business will be open to the public as well but now I just feel weird after the response we got from the supervisor. Like, no others are wanted here kind of thing and I don’t want them to find out I went and then she gets in trouble for something so dumb.

          Which makes me wonder if the question they actually intended to ask was not “Can she bring me [to the party] anyway?” but rather “Can she bring me [to the venue] anyway?” Assuming it’s a Dave & Buster’s (or something of a similar size/capacity and atmosphere), I think it actually would be reasonable for the spouse to drive there with her, stay and play games on their own without ever interacting with her or her colleagues, and drive her home at the end of the night. I can see why Alison might still advise against it, but it’s a much less outrageous idea than showing up to the party and being like “hey everyone, I’m here” after you’ve been told you’re not invited.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            If that was the plan though – exactly as you describe it – I wouldn’t even ask the boss. Who cares how I get to and home from the mandatory work event if transportation is not being provided?

    4. lilsheba*

      What worries me about this event is it’s 3 hours driving time, but will involve drinking?? so drink and drive? HELL NO. I hope she didn’t drink and drive home.

      1. birb*

        It sounds like the company is taking them to a barcade. Yeah there’s alcohol, but it’s not being provided or pushed, just available. They even allow children during daytime hours. The bars don’t usually even have seats, because they’re not the point. I think, unfortunately, that OP wasn’t asking in good faith, and has played up the alcohol involvement.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          Given the comments indicating she has gotten in legal trouble for drinking and driving before, I don’t think that part was the bad faith part (not that I’m blaming you for not reading the comments under the original letter!).

      2. sparkle emoji*

        I’m wondering if the 3 hours was not the distance from the office to the party but instead the distance she had to drive from their home? If they already live far from the wife’s office and then the party location is even further it might be 3 hours for her while all her coworkers are a lot closer.

    5. Elves Have Left the Building*

      The one thing I’d say is he COULD certainly show up at the 3pm ending time to make sure she gets home okay if drinking is involved, and they could hang out at the arcade/whatever together for a bit then. But, yeah just bringing him and being like, “He’s with me. Pay for his food, drink and gaming” is wrong. I wonder if they “rented” out the entire entertainment space (my company does that with a local place) or if they’re just meeting while it’s open to the public.

      1. Orsoneko*

        In the original comments thread, LW4 posted this:

        I was originally just going to go and play games on my own because the business will be open to the public as well but now I just feel weird after the response we got from the supervisor. Like, no others are wanted here kind of thing and I don’t want them to find out I went and then she gets in trouble for something so dumb.

        Which makes me wonder if the question they actually intended to ask was not “Can she bring me [to the party] anyway?” but rather “Can she bring me [to the venue] anyway?” Assuming it’s a Dave & Buster’s (or something of a similar size/capacity and atmosphere), I think it actually would be reasonable for the spouse to drive there with her, stay and play games on their own without ever interacting with her or her colleagues, and drive her home at the end of the night. I can see why Alison might still advise against it, but it’s a much less outrageous idea than showing up to the party and being like “hey everyone, I’m here” after you’ve been told you’re not invited.

  3. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    Acupuncture can actually be very effective for certain health conditions. I had dry needling done for an injury by a physical therapist (very similar to acupuncture) for an injury, and it was super effective for me.

    But emphasis on “health conditions”. It’s a medical treatment, not an activity for boosting morale. I hope OP and others pushed back on this.

    1. nnn*

      Yeah, that’s what struck me about #1. If the people behind the idea take it seriously as a medical treatment (which it sounds like they do since they’re touting its health benefits?) then it shouldn’t be a casual workplace teambuilding activity, because a given medical treatment isn’t necessarily indicated for everyone at a given time, and people for whom it is indicated are likely already receiving care from their own provider.

      That would be like doing physiotherapy as a teambuilding exercise. Not everyone needs it, and people who do need it are likely already in a course of treatment that wouldn’t be helped (and may well be hindered) by having random other physiotherapy administered by a provider not familiar with their history.

      1. Elle by the sea*

        Exactly. When I lived in the US, acupuncture was covered by our health insurance. Why would any medical treatment be a feasible team building activity? Are you expected to be in the same room with your colleagues while receiving parallel treatments half naked? That’s extremely embarrassing even for people who are ok with acupuncture.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, well, that alone unfortunately doesn’t separate legitimately helpful things from woo, at least not hereabouts – where health insurances routinely cover homeopathy. (But not dentistry or new glasses. Because… no idea.)

            1. Hannah Lee*

              There’s also some weird history around the actual practice of those two things, they rarely interact act at all with the PCP/GP system as far as I’ve seen. I think it was kind of a rivalry or certification pissing contest/turf war, maybe going back to “your barber is the dentist” days.

              Compared to say a podiatrist, who’s a medical specialist in foot care, one a PCP might refer you to, whose treatment in theory is a deep (but connected) dive into a particular aspect of your health care a general practitioner/internist doesn’t have expertise in.
              Dentistry particularly just sits out there all on its own.

              (I sometimes get jaw pain, likely just tension, but possibly a TmJ issue. And anytime I think maybe I’ll follow up on it I stop because the one time I did my PCP shrugged “maybe ask your dentist” and my dentist shrugged “it’s not causing any problems with your teeth” so I’ve got no idea who to actually approach about it. So I just pop an Advil, cut back on the caffeine, until it eases)

          1. Elle by the sea*

            I didn’t say it makes a treatment legitimate. But it still is a medical treatment – whether it’s real or woo – and as such doesn’t belong in the workplace. Plus, if it is routinely covered by health insurance, why would you use it as team building activity.

          2. Quill*

            Relative expense, I’m guessing. (That and dentistry being sort of siloed off practically from all other medical care? In terms of licenses, billing, etc.)

          3. Random Dice*

            Wait your insurance covers homeopathy ??

            My insurance doesn’t even cover holistic medicine – that’s an MD who believes in the science of vitamins and lead and gut microbiomes – so I’ve paid many thousands of dollars out of pocket.

            Other things that aren’t covered by insurance: hearing aids. I have a coworker who can’t afford the $thousands out of pocket, so his ADA accommodation is to work by email and IM. US healthcare is enraging.

            1. Freya*

              Mine doesn’t – although I’m Australian, and our insurance is cheaper, not associated with employment, and seems to be more comprehensive than yours. Back in 2019, the Australian government went yeah nah to health insurance paying out on a bunch of natural therapies (including homeopathy), except where those were provided by a medical practitioner acting in their professional capacity. So my pilates would not be covered, except it’s clinical pilates being run by a physiotherapist, and therefore it comes under a subsection of physio and IS claimable (pilates being done by someone who isn’t a registered allied healthcare provider is NOT claimable)

      2. Ink*

        Yeah, some places get over the top enough about flu clinics or blood drives to edge toward inappropriate, and those actually need people showing up en masse. This feels similar to a manager getting pushy about getting everyone to donate blood, and going after those who haven’t for an explanation or acquiesence. There are a lot of reasons someone might not want to, or just can’t, do all of those, and none of them are work relevant enough that your boss needs to know about them. It’s a HUGE overstep

        1. Michelle Smith*

          Yep, my workplace is one of those. They actually cancelled our last health fair because not enough people registered to participate in their weird, fat shaming “biometric screening” offerings and their dentist cleanings (our benefits include low cost dental insurance so presumably we’d all prefer to go to our own dentists and not whatever person showed up to the conference room that day…).

      3. ferrina*

        I’m picturing trying to do physical therapy with my coworkers. I don’t swear at work and I’m known for being upbeat under any circumstances.

        They would see a very different side of me.

    2. Shy Platypus*

      Agreed. I was a bit put off by the use or the word “woo” TWICE. It may not be mainstream in America, but let’s perhaps have a bit of respect century-old cultural practices from other regions? It’s not exactly like inserting a jade egg in your nether parts, and fwiw it’s also something that’s helped me before (when practiced by a licensed physical therapist who’d also trained in acupuncture).

      With all that being said, that doesn’t mean it belongs at work! Offices are places where clothes should mostly stay on! Everyone has their own practices and relationship with their bodies and that should be private and respected.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yes to what you said here. It’s disrespectful to dismiss acupuncture as being “woo” when it’s a significant part of the way certain cultures approach healing, AND the fact that it’s a medical treatment makes it not an appropriate activity for office bonding.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          Acupuncture is an ages-old practice in China much as bleeding is an ages-old practice in European cultures. It was seen as discredited until the Chinese Revolution. It was given official endorsement for political reasons. Acupuncture uses “meridians” whose use and location is not widely agreed upon and not supported by any scientific evidence. Studies show that twitrling a toothpick in a random spot on the skin is just as effective as an acupuncturist’s treatment.

      2. Daily reader, rare commenter*

        I was incredibly put off by that dismissive and condescending. comment about a centuries-old non-Western practice being “woo”. It’s fine if you don’t believe in it, but plenty of people around the world do.

        1. SCIENCE!*

          Interesting fact too, acupuncture is one of very few alternative medical practices that’s backed by scientific research! Numerous clinical studies have found conclusive evidence that acupuncture can help manage pain and discomfort for a multitude of conditions, and has also proven to be surprisingly effective for seasonal allergies. So not even “woo” at all!

          (The more Western practice of chiropractic treatment, meanwhile, was originally sourced from a ghost.)

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            I’m glad you brought up the scientific studies documenting acupuncture’s effectiveness. I’ve benefited from acupuncture over the years and it’s even offered by my mainstream western medicine provider.

            That said, the main reason I posted here is…chiropractic treatment was sourced by a ghost? I don’t want to derail the thread but I just looked that up and am dumbfounded.

            1. Random Dice*

              “Woo” is short for “woo-woo” which is a phrase that folks in certain insular communities use for anything that isn’t in mainstream Western medicine.

              Interestingly, I mostly hear that phrase from people who speak in tongues, believe in miracle faith healing, and believe that angels and demons exist and are active in everyday life. Which is… an amusing disconnect.

              1. New Mom (of 1 4/9)*

                This is me, more or less. Angels and demons literally exist. Miracles still happen. Saints are real.

                You took your kid to a chiropractor?! YOU’RE nuts!!

          2. Emmy Noether*

            I, for one, did not know that. The last time I tried to look it up (about twenty years ago, ahem), I had read that it was pretty much placebo, so it was indeed filed under non-scientific, belief-based alternative medicine (also known less respectfully as “woo”, which I wouldn’t call it in public) in my brain. I wasn’t interested enough* to update my knowledge. Kind of cool that they’re now finding mechanisms behind it. Certainly a good alternative to drugs where it works!

            *I’ve been very lucky to not have any difficult to treat medical conditions that made me want to explore alternatives.

            1. Katie A*

              Don’t update your beliefs too much. The truly woo parts, like the parts about life force flowing through the body along certain pathways are not backed by research.

              Sticking people in certain places can likely help with some pain but as far as I know, for other things (and even somewhat with pain), there isn’t a strong consensus. A lot of the research is poorly done, there’s bias in what gets published, and people do act like the spiritual parts are actually part of the medical treatment. Basically, the science is mixed.

              If it’s done safely by people who know what they’re doing (not how all of it is done) it isn’t harmful. Personally, if something isn’t harmful, people aren’t using it instead of actual treatments, and it makes people feel better, even through the placebo effect, I don’t care if people use it. Like you mentioned, some medical conditions are difficult to treat and if people want to explore alternatives because the research-backed treatments aren’t working or cost too much, I’m for them trying non-harmful things.

              The big problems happen when people do it unsafely, use it instead of something more reliable, use it for things where it can’t help, and use it to promote spiritual beliefs as scientific (like qi and meridians).

              1. hohumdrum*

                I think also in general this conversation is too nuanced for a decontextualized internet chat. Because it is true that just because something is old or practiced by another culture doesn’t make it valid. But it’s also true that western medicine and science are shaped by our own cultural values including racism sometimes, so just because our scientific institutions haven’t found validity in a practice doesn’t mean it’s not-valid. And it’s also true that those scientific institutions are under attack by people who would misuse and appropriate “ancient medicine” to further their own agendas. It’s also true that things can be beneficial for a person outside of a specific western medicine proven avenue of benefit.

                Frequently due to all of this I find I needed to move away from having a knee-jerk reaction to certain non-western medicine traditional practice and require more context for an opinion in any particular situation. Fundamentally I’m going to feel differently about, say, a GOOP lover’s advocacy of acupuncture as a hot new trend than someone speaking about a cultural tradition that holds meaning for them, and both people deserve different approaches in how we discuss their views.

                Luckily this situation is rather straight forward and requires no pronouncement of validity about any practice- acupuncture is not an appropriate work place activity, not as a medicinal practice, or a spiritual one.

          3. Sorrischian*

            The problem with acupuncture is that there is decent evidence that it can help with certain kinds of chronic pain, but the evidence for basically everything else is … dubious at best. And, worse, the other studies are dubious in ways that call into question the validity of the findings about pain, too.

            Medical research, just like a lot of areas of science, is struggling with replication crisis, and it’s not helped by reporting (and otherwise reputable health info websites, looking at YOU Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins) that say “studies show X does Y” when the actual data is more like “X shows a potential connection to Y if you make sure to only look at the slice of the data that would support your claims and not the big chunk that doesn’t”.

            I’ll attach a couple of links in another reply: one is a very neutral systematic review of reviews from last year and the other is an editorial from a few years ago that is a little harsher and more absolute than I’d like but has some good points about serious structural flaws in a lot of acupuncture research.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              Medical research brought its crisis on itself by refusing to accept new information that would help people. I had to diagnose and manage my non-IGE allergies mostly alone because they refused to accept the results of studies in the early 90s that proved the non-IGE reaction to certain foods in an allergic individual. They didn’t get around to even acknowledging it until the mid-2010s, letting people suffer another 30 years. I’m sorry, I don’t have time to go find the studies now, but they’re out there.
              Ask anyone with a chronic health condition, and they will tell you a similar story. I have no sympathy for old men being territorial at the expense of people suffering. If they want to not be in crisis, they need to get a clue and listen to what people are telling them.

              1. Sorrischian*

                In and of itself I agree with your comment – there’s been a lot of resistance to change in the field that has harmed a ton of people, and medicine as a whole is overdue for a reckoning about that. I didn’t do a deep dive, but from what I’m seeing, your account of the timeline on non-IGE allergy research and care seems accurate, and that really sucks.

                But as a response to my comment, I have some qualms, because it feels like you’re arguing that the takeaway from this mishandling is that we should always take on board new treatments or understandings of conditions, and I just don’t agree with that.

                I would argue that doctors denying non-IGE allergies are closer to the researchers advocating for acupuncture than the reverse, because they’re both falling into the trap of seeing what they want to see. The data on non-IGE allergies is robust, and continuing research looks to be revealing more about their mechanisms and treatment over time. The same can’t be said for acupunture, and the authors of most studies on it have the same incentives – financial gain in many cases but also simply not wanting to admit to being wrong – that doctors who wouldn’t reconsider their understanding of allergies did.

                If that wasn’t the intended implication, sorry for reading too much into it.

                1. DJ Abbott*

                  Thank you for looking it up and seeing it for yourself. I really appreciate that.
                  Of course, medicine should not accept any idea that comes along without due diligence and research to confirm it. The problem is the resistance goes way, way beyond what’s reasonable!
                  The problem throughout western medicine is the establishment refuses to accept new information for decades. Whether it’s a small study, a case report, or a larger study, they simply refuse to consider it and do the work of learning about it and incorporating it into their practice, if indicated by further research and study.
                  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that medical boards are usually composed mostly of older men who are protecting their medical territory. The whole system needs to be overhauled and made more inclusive and flexible.

                2. DJ Abbott*

                  P.S. – I’ve had acupuncture and it did help. There was a dramatic increase in my energy level after the third or fourth treatment. It also helped with stress and emotional things and seemed to help some with allergies.
                  Thousands, millions of people have had significant improvement from acupuncture treatments. It’s not all placebo, and it’s not all coincidence. That it has worked in other countries for centuries needs to be respected. It’s just that Western medicine hasn’t figured out yet how it works. Maybe a different approach is needed to figure that out.

            2. Need coffee*

              Honestly, woo or not, at least acupuncture doesn’t tend to make people die slow and painful death like the totally supported by medical research practice of, to paraphrase a very catchy song, “planting stem cells on a garden hose” and then using that for trachea transplants.

              (The song I’m referencing is “The Ballad of the Superstar Surgeon Paolo Macchiarini” by Henrik Widegren, which is catchy and unfortunately very very real even though I think the garden hose bit was some artistic license. For more info about the Paolo Macchiarini situation and some other scandals in the same vein, look up Medlife Crisis on YouTube, specifically the video “The CULT of Superstar Doctors”.)

              1. Bananapants Circus With Dysfunctional Monkeys*

                I’m literally watching the Netflix documentary on Macchiarini right now and… Holy everything he’s beyond words awful

            3. Cinnamon Boo*

              Which is also why acupuncture is covered by health insurance. Usually not a ton, but mine covers up to 15 visits. I think it has worked for some things for me and not for others.

            4. Random Dice*

              I really enjoy the way you share information! You’ve done the work to research it, and point out flaws while drawing an overarching conclusion.

              This is why I love this site.

          4. Richard Hershberger*

            The thing is, all medicine was woo if you go not too far back. If your physician diagnosed you as having humors out of balance, you would run out of that office as quickly as possible, and quite properly so. But this was utterly mainstream prestige Western medicine well into the 19th century. The transition to non-woo was the germ theory of disease. Since then non-woo medicine has gradually drawn in many disciplines. Osteopathy was definitely woo. Now it is is a trivial detail whether your doctor is an M.D. or a D.O. Some corners of chiropractic are still woo, but in the US at least the vast majority of chiropractic is a branch of physical therapy, with chiropractors having some extra training. And so on. I have not looked into acupuncture, but I suspect it is something similar. Health insurance companies are famously not motivated by woke inclusiveness when deciding what they will pay for.

            1. Crooked Bird*

              This is a good summary! I still hear so much crap about what quacks all chiropractors are (and I don’t doubt there’s some out there) but a knowledgeable chiropractor cured me of the heavy & persistent tendinitis (really tendinosis) that caused me to essentially lose the use of my hands for months. Scar tissue is this guy’s specialty and he has an accelerated version of the technique physical therapists use to break down the scar tissue that causes many/most cases of what’s still often called tendinitis. (Accelerated and much more effective. I know; I tried both.) In ONE quite painful session (necessary b/c of travel time) followed by a week of intense stretching to realign the broken scar tissue into healthy alignment as it healed, I was able to type, click, weed and dig again with no pain at all. It’s been 5 years, never looked back.

            2. Elle by the sea*

              I agree with this – everything started out as woo until they became established “modern” medicine.

            3. I Have RBF*

              Yes, my chiro essentially does physical therapy around spinal and connecting tissue issues. It works, because muscles and nerves are targeted with proven physical therapy techniques.

            4. Arts Akimbo*

              Let’s not forget poor Ignaz Semmelweis, who singlehandedly reduced maternal mortality by the radical and offensive practice of… insisting on hand-washing! His fate was a tragedy. I am not advocating for acupuncture, but I completely agree that prevailing medical culture can absolutely hinder positive change.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                Yes, when I worked in OB/GYN administration my boss mentioned him. Women were getting post- natal infections from doctors not washing their hands.
                When you look back on history, It’s amazing any of us are alive.

                1. DJ Abbott*

                  I just looked him up. Even though his method had a dramatic reduction in mortality, other doctors didn’t accept his findings. They were hostile towards him. He had a nervous breakdown, and they committed him to an asylum where the staff beat him. He died two weeks later, apparently from his wounds.

          1. Ana Gram*

            Same here! It was really helpful for mine. But it’s strange to try medical treatments as a fun office activity. I’d be turned off as well.

          2. AngryOctopus*

            Yep, it was very beneficial for my migraines. But as many others have said, that makes it *medical treatment* which is highly inappropriate for a work ‘team building’ exercise.

            1. Jaina Solo*

              Same on the migraines! But I also consider it part of my self-care, me-time and I definitely wouldn’t want my coworkers or boss with me. Work is part of what stresses me out and can trigger a migraine so keeping work-related everything away from my acupuncture is a must!

        2. Sedna*

          Yes, acupuncture clearly has benefit even according to Western standards of medicine! Calling it woo is ignorant and definitely a little racist.
          That said, it is a medical treatment and not a good fit for a workplace bonding activity.

      3. Pennyworth*

        I’m neutral about acupuncture and cupping, but no way would I want to experience them as a group activity in my workplace.

      4. Slartibartfast*

        Insertion of things into your nethers is a medically recognized treatment for prolapsed bladder/uterus, and the medical term for the inserted object is “pessary”. So there’s merit to that folk remedy too.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          That is VERY different from Gwneyth telling you to shove a jade egg up your vagina for ‘reasons’ (none of which are treating an actual medical condition).

          1. UKDancer*

            Yeah there are medical uses for a pessary if your doctor wants you to take them. My mother uses an oestrogen pessary for example to deal with some of her uterus related issues and it works very well. Jade eggs are not one of them and have no beneficial effect and can give you an infection (jade not being sterile) so they’re 100% woo in my view.

            Dr Jen Gunter did a really good article on her website about why they’re a terrible idea as well as doing nothing for you.

          1. Dek*

            I mean, I…suppose you could attempt to put one of those there.

            Certainly would have a different set of problems after.

            1. Random Dice*

              Ha ha ha that animal looks like it could cause some damage, even without insertion into tender bodily orifices.

      5. Hors_Service*

        Woo doesn’t have to be respected, even if it’s century-old cultural practices from other regions.
        Homeopathy, blood letting, and crystal charms also have a century-old history and are to be treated with scorn too.
        “Century-old cultural practices” also involve hunting tigers and rhinos to extinction to provide ingredients for folk remedies.

        If it claims health benefits, then it has to prove health benefits in a double blind study like everyone else. Never mind the anecdotal evidence provided in this thread.

        Now *specifically* acupuncture does have some (not really good) evidence that it is maybe effective for some chronic pain conditions. So this one maybe not totally woo, but its effectivity is small if it exists at all (see the Quackwatch articles about it).

        Now participating to century-old cultural practices from other regions as a team building exercise would be appropriate imho, but it should avoid anything that’s religion or health related.”Wellness” is iffy, so usually best avoided too.

        1. amoeba*

          I mean, “centuries old” is of course a matter of definition, but homeopathy was invented around 1800 by a German doctor. Not an ancient tradition at all.

          But yeah, I do agree, if something is basically in opposition to the laws of nature and shows zero reproduceable effect in studies, then it’s woo. No matter how long it has been practiced by whom. Just like mercury cures, radioactive water, laying of hands, or whatever.

        2. Andromeda*

          Not to go all cultural relativist on you, but I do think framing matters here too — my instinctive reaction was “eh, as a treatment alongside other stuff I don’t really see an issue with acupuncture As A Thing” but then remembered that my mum tried it for her sciatica when I was younger, so it feels more normal. I do think we’re conditioned to treat certain types of procedure as more legitimate than others, and that we’d be surprised at the sort of things “alternate us-es” would treat as common sense/legit if we grew up around them.

          Regardless, it’s silly and invasive to expect people to do acupuncture as a work activity. I mainly raise the point because I’m not into people nitpicking the LW’s language.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Agreed. Thinking of it as complementary can help — science wouldn’t have got where it was without someone making observations and building on that root cause. We didn’t just pull the idea that aspirin made a good painkiller out of thin air. We observed some healing properties of chewing willow bark and did some scientific analysis and found out what gave the traditional remedy its efficacy. Then we developed a synthetic equivalent to sell in pill form.

            Also, I wonder if this excursion might be similar to a sort of spa day. I’d certainly take a day of relaxation somewhere if it meant enforced relaxation. I went on a church quiet day the other week and that was a blissful respite from my brain which I easily overclock just be existing. Usage of enforced inactivity has been cloaked in all kinds of explanations, religious and scientific and anything in between, and it helps those of us who need to release that tension. We had our Christmas party last week and I got up and danced for the first time since an accident left me lame. I lasted one song before I had to quit, but throwing off the tension and stress and enjoying the company of my team was something I really needed, and the lady who pulled me on to the dance floor gave me something I’d never have taken if it hadn’t been for her.

            So perhaps we get sidetracked over things like this. We’re so concerned about the ‘right’ thing for us that we never really get a chance to try a different approach and see whether it worked.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          The point is not that we should automatically respect everything that is old and from another culture, but that we should not automatically disrespect anything that is from another culture. The thought process was not “Hmm… has acuncture got a scientific basis, and does it work for people?” but “Huh acupuncture sounds weird and foreign”. Plus, even when talking about very mistaken ideas… I’m all for educating people, but you’re not going to do it with snarky words like “woo”.

          1. Elle by the sea*

            The thing is whether it’s woo or not is utterly tangential. No medical treatment belongs in the workplace as team bonding activity. How do you bond over individual treatment while lying naked. A good practitioner will talk to you and you are supposed to focus on the process and not chat away with your colleagues.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes, I mean I love aromatherapy massage but not as a team building activity in front of my colleagues. I prefer my colleagues not to see me in that sort of position or level of vulnerability. It’s a solitary activity in my view. I mean even when I have a chair massage (clothes on and over my shirt) it’s not particularly a group experience.

        4. Decidedly Me*

          Bloodletting is still used to treat hemachromatosis and a few other illnesses to this day, so I wouldn’t look at it with scorn.

          1. UKDancer*

            Blood letting works in very limited circumstances for a very few conditions as indeed do leeches (great for dealing with necrotic tissue). The problem was that in some times of history it was used very widely and for things it didn’t have any benefit for, and made health conditions worse.

            There are uses for blood letting but not nearly as many as the Georgians thought there were.

      6. Bagpuss*

        It’s not just a cultural thing, there’s actually peer reviewed, scientific research which confirms that acupuncture can be beneficial.

        1. Katie A*

          Let’s be clear here, though. The research shows that poking people with needles in certain places can be beneficial. That makes sense, since you’re actually doing something to someone, and the body responds to sensations in physical ways.

          Research does not show that the really woo-y parts of acupuncture like qi and meridians are real. Even the specific acupuncture points aren’t supported by the research.

          1. Need coffee*

            Do those parts need to be real though? If it works and doesn’t do any unintentional damage (for those who wonder what I mean by that: if I’m having surgery, that usually involves intentional damage. Unless the surgeon forgets to remove scissors from my abdomen or something), does the how matter all that much to the person receiving the treatment?

            I mean, I know ibuprofen doesn’t work due to releasing little gnomes that massage the pain away, but does it matter all that much to the average user that that is not how it works (provided they don’t overdose on the gnomes and immediately stop using ibuprofen if the gnomes are doing things they shouldn’t)?

            1. zaracat*

              Not relevant to the original post, but your comment about massaging gnomes is hilarious and reminds me of a Hagar the Horrible cartoon where Dr Zook is talking about disease being caused by tiny invisible things …. known as bad fairies.

            2. Joron Twiner*

              Yes it does matter. Because we should not encourage people to spend money and time on medical treatment that has no scientifically valid mechanism by which it works. Some people find similar benefits from crystals, prayer, magic, etc. and that is how we allow charlatans (the well-meaning and the manipulative) to prey on the vulnerable in our society.

              There are many other ancient Chinese medicinal practices that the West hasn’t adopted. I don’t know why westerners are so chill with acupuncture but don’t snort rhino horn or avoid cold foods.

      7. Not Boring*

        Acupuncture doesn’t have to involve removing clothing. I have had it done on my face (in an attempt to treat sinus congestion – it worked for me, but only for about half an hour).

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          I mean, I don’t want to have needles stuck in my face with my coworkers around, either. (Or at all, really.) But point taken.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, that was what shocked me. I don’t know enough about acupuncture to say if it has any evidence behind it or is just placebo, but…it’s a medical treatment or intended to be and a) I don’t think anybody without medical training should be suggesting or organising any kind of treatments for workmates and b) it’s not exactly something one does for fun. What are they going to organise next? “Let’s go for a dental check-up together”?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Interested folk can google “interstitium”–there’s a piece in Scientific American from 2018–which is a recently discovered network of fluid vessels in connective tissue. (Having had far too many discussions about my connective tissue with various medical people, it was really interesting that “so it’s not a wall made of collagen, but more of a web of moving fluid” was only recently discovered.)

        1. Fieldpoppy*

          Yes — I *work* in health sciences, and what is actually studied vs. what is “there is no evidence for it because it doesn’t fall within our narrowly defined terms for study” — especially in the complex system of immunology — is profound.

          That said, accupuncture is health care and whoever said “it’s like saying we’re doing physio as a team activity” is correct.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I did cupping as part of PT after radiation: the tissue layers in my body were sort of melted together, and cupping helped separate them out to move freely again, and improve circulation to the area.

            I definitely never thought “man, I wish I had some coworkers around me, offering their thoughts.”

            I agree with the observation that anyone willing to show up and do an acupressure (or cupping) party for a group of random individuals, without first getting their medical history, is not going to be falling on the legitimate medical practice end of the spectrum.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I wouldn’t want my coworkers along for my pap smear or mammogram, either. Even though I believe those are valuable things to do.

      And I have really been helped, medically, by acupressure.

    5. Bob*

      Acupuncture and dry needling are extremely different. Dry needling has peer reviewed and science based proof of effect. Acupuncture is complete nonsense that has been thoroughly debunked.

    6. Cinnamon Boo*

      Accupuncture and dry needling are different things and have very different theory behind them – just wanted to point that out.

    7. Nonanon*

      Weirdly enough, dry needling (which is different from acupuncture, but I am frankly not writing an essay on the differences before my coffee has kicked in) was the only thing that helped with my early onset arthritis (did you know you can get arthritis in non-movable joints? I found out the fun way!). Like, my PT found massive knots in the shoulder muscles around my arthritis, popped a needle in, and everything started resolving same session. Haven’t had pain in that area for going on a year now, and my massage therapist noted knots in my OTHER shoulder. Obviously not cured of joint damage, but pretty good for the associated pain/lack of mobility.
      Full disclosure; I DID try acupuncture as well (since one session with an acupuncturist was ~30USD and one with my PT was in the 100s before insurance); they were different experiences and the placebo effect does exist, especially with pain (there’s actually a variant of the placebo effect in pain where just talking about your pain and having your practitioner acknowledge it leads to improvement), but it was after dry needling and I cannot distinguish what was helped via acupuncture and what was helped via dry needling.

      1. Random Dice*

        Trigger point injections are kind of like dry needling, except that it’s a much bigger needle, it goes deeper, with ultrasound guidance, and has an anesthetic injected. (So a wet needle I guess.) My word, it works for my condition.

        New pain research indicates it works by bringing down an endless pain spiral, through introduction of an actual wound that the body responds to (unlike chronic pain). I often cry but it helps so much.

        I’ve since found a lot of pain reduction for my chronic pain (that no longer has a physical mechanism) from the Curable app, which applies pain research in bite sized pieces. I no longer have to rely on trigger point injections to keep pain manageable.

        I know this is OT but I only got the relief I did because of word of mouth. (I’m female and fat, so the medical world failed me utterly.)

    8. lilsheba*

      Yes. it’s not “Woo” by any means. And frankly I would love to be able to get acupuncture at work …it would be very convenient for me. But I don’t see it as a team building activity. And I would require total privacy.

    9. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      As someone who regularly gets acupuncture treatments, I would refuse to do this in a work context. It’s like going to the dentist together! No!

      1. Cyndi*

        One of our clients is my boss’s dentist, and interacting with him somehow feels a bit weirder and more intrusive to me than interacting with my boss’s actual partner.

      2. Quill*

        Other things I would not do in a work context: Get a massage. Do Yoga.

        … Basically anything that involves any contemplation of my body in any context by anyone…

  4. Witch of Oz*

    At first I thought OP4 was just concerned about their spouse drink driving and wanted to ensure she got home safely. Hopefully the company provided transport to/from the all-day arcade drinkathon with the 6-hour round trip. The whole thing sounds like a nightmare and the unwelcome spouse should consider him/herself lucky not to be invited.

    1. Ms. Murchison*

      Nah, the spouse replied in the comments and said that there was no transportation or lodging provided. They’re worried about her getting another DUI. Look for “The spouse” in the comments of the original post.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          Yep, according to “the spouse” they can happen to anyone though, and it was very rude for the commenters to be concerned about her drinking. Those comments are wild.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Ah, reading it through that lens (wife has an alcohol/DUI problem and LW is desperately grasping for ways to mitigate it) makes a lot more sense. It’s still completely wrongheaded, mind, but I see how LW got there.

      2. Bast*

        The company is asking for trouble by hosting an event that is hours away, with tons of drinking, and not allowing a spouse/SO to go and act as designated drivers, particularly as they are not offering lodging or Ubers/bus/something. Who on EARTH would think this is a good idea?

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Its at an arcade. Boss wants to go play video games on the company’s dime.

          But yes, short sighted to not provide transportation.

          IF Husband is so concerned, he can go to the city where the event is held, do something on his own time – nowhere near the arcade, then meet up with his wife when its over.

          1. amoeba*

            From the original comments, boss is actively commenting on people getting smashed though, isn’t he? (Has been a few hours since I read through, maybe it was only the colleagues…)

            1. Hlao-roo*

              From the original comments:

              Her company made sure to tell everyone to bring ID’s and all of her coworkers are talking about how wasted they’re going to get… peer pressure doesn’t stop existing in the workforce. And in her line of work alcoholism is prevalent.

              The OP only specifically mentions the coworkers talking about getting smashed, but given that the company told people to bring IDs and that “alcoholism is prevalent” it’s very possible the boss joined in on some of those “I’m going to get so wasted” conversations.

              1. Orv*

                The IDs might just be because it’s a 21-and-up business, or one with a “card everyone” policy. Where I live a lot of businesses that serve alcohol have to card at the door.

            2. sparkle emoji*

              Possibly, but as people commented at the time, all the information is coming to us second-hand, and some venues(including some barcades) require IDs to get in.

          2. Bast*

            I worked at a company that relied way too heavily on drinking events, which in of itself is problematic, BUT they would provide an Uber on the company dime to anyone too drunk to drive after. For good reason, (and one incident that involved a drunk employee reversing into the restaurant where the event was held) they didn’t want to deal with the liability of employees getting drunk on the company’s dime and then driving home.

            While husband can go and find something else to do, or sit and wait, I’m just genuinely surprised that the company doesn’t see the problem if drinking is strongly encouraged AND that it is so far away… The hours away thing is frankly enough that I think it would drive a good number of people away.

  5. Ms. Murchison*

    After looking at the original post for #4, I’m a little surprised it was selected for reposting. There was so much more going on in that situation than was offered in the initial letter. “The spouse” responded with comments that were surprisingly confrontational. And their posting “a DUI could literally happen to anyone” made my jaw drop, since obviously it literally wouldn’t happen to anyone who does not drink.

    1. Student*

      I am an advice column junkie and do not think columnists pay so much attention to comments that they would change what they decide to re-print. The column is the main course. (I am thinking of Carolyn Hax and the Slate columns in addition to this one).

        1. Student*

          6 years ago! I wouldn’t expect her to remember that. I also don’t think it matters since reprints are no longer about solving the original poster’s problem.

    2. KeinName*

      My favourite part of the discussion from 2017 is someone suggesting the wife should try combining alcohol with weed or meth!

      1. Elsewise*

        I just read through that sequence! Several comments assuming that was a joke, and then the original commenter responded saying that they don’t do drugs and aren’t a doctor or scientist, so how were they to know! Someone else asked if they’d never seen Breaking Bad or a DARE ad, and they responded “I’ll look into those resources you suggest”. This is why I read the comments. I love the rich tapestry of human experience.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      A point of letters, including old ones, is that someone somewhere is wrestling with a similar problem. Both “I want to go to my spouse’s work event” and “I feel like work is pressuring my spouse to make bad decisions for their health and if I go along I can fix it” are broadly applicable.

    4. No name username*

      Agreed – the OP’s comments added more info and changed the tone of the discussion and advice given by commenters.

      1. nnn*

        AAM talked about this recently re the letters republished in Inc—the point with republishing isn’t to cover every bit of possible context added later, it’s to revisit the original situation.

        1. No name username*

          I’m not suggesting it is – it would be impossible to cover every context. I’m saying from my personal viewpoint I’m surprised it was reposted.

    5. kiki*

      “a DUI could literally happen to anyone”

      On that statement, I do think The Spouse realizes logically that isn’t 100% true (folks who do not drink at all, folks who intentionally abstain from drinking at all when they will need to drive, people who do not drive, etc.), I think they mean “Spouse isn’t an awful person, it was a mistake/miscalculation of their drunkenness that is easier to do than you’d expect.”

      To be clear, I do not drink at all before driving, but I also live in a city where I can drink and still have a plethora of ways to easily get around affordably on my own. I grew up in a really rural area and it was very normalized to drink and drive because there weren’t public transit options or even really cabs. People in these areas often try to make sure they don’t get “too drunk” or “sober up enough” before driving, but that can be hard to keep perfect tabs on because all people and drinks can be different. And drunkenness can be impacted by so many factors.

      It sounds like LW’s spouse may be in a drinking-heavy profession in an area where lots of driving is expected. So I can understand The Spouse’s mentality that their spouse isn’t a worse person than anyone else because they got a DUI, they are just the person who happened to get caught. It seems like “everyone” drinks and drives to them because that’s what people in this subset of people they’re surrounded by do.

      1. ferrina*

        I feel so bad for this OP. It sounds like they are trying very hard to protect their wife from herself. He’s frustrated at their lifestyle (working long hours and not seeing his spouse). But instead of being able to name and address the real issues, he’s triangulating to the company so it can be “me and wife vs The Evil Company” instead of “wife and I need to have some hard conversations, and it may end with the dissolution of our relationship even though I really love her and want to protect her.” He also does a lot of mitigating his wife’s decision-making in these– the peer pressure from co-workers, the “DUI can happen to anyone” (um, no.). From what I saw, he doesn’t say “my wife is uncomfortable with this” or “my wife is worried about her safety”. Which makes me think he’s alone in this fight. That is a horrible place to be. I can see why he’s trying to insert himself and control circumstances to keep her safe, but in the long run it will never work. This is a tough road.

        1. ferrina*

          adding to this- the company doesn’t sound like a good or healthy place, and it’s definitely an issue, but I don’t think it’s the main issue.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              Because they’re having their company event with alcohol at a driving distance, during work hours, but not providing transportation or allowing spouse designated drivers. And treating the very idea of a DD as silly and weird.

        2. Random Dice*

          Yeah that’s a very sympathetic take. It’s easy to get frustrated when the real problem is so much bigger and harder to manage.

        3. kiki*

          Yes, for sure! It definitely seems a little bit like LW thinks if they can change enough circumstances their spouse will be all good, but he’s not accepting that his wife is really the one who needs to be leading/driving these changes. Without her taking more accountability/ making some lifestyle changes, things will not improve.

  6. Lilo*

    There were some other issues going on there and redirected frustration. I personally don’t think the party sounds like a good idea (just from the length of driving involved) but if he didn’t trust the wife not to drink and drive she either needed to not go or they needed to come up with another solution.

    1. KateM*

      Yeah, with that long a drive, it would make sense to charter a bus. A bonus for the employer – they can start with some of their team activities already on the bus, six extra hours! :D

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, it makes no sense to me that they were a) expecting everyone to travel 6 hours round-trip b) while also providing lots of alcohol for everyone to drink, and c) had no form of transportation to get people there and back again. That’s just asking for tragedy to occur, and for anyone who doesn’t drink it’s still a heck of a long drive in one day.

        1. kiki*

          I was wondering if the event was local for some people but not all? Like, maybe there’s a main office near the arcade and satellite offices farther away but one party for all offices. It’s still not thoughtful party planning to skip transit, especially since it sounds like LW’s spouse is not the only one with 3 hours away.

          But I also feel like, unless this is mandatory, LW’s spouse should have just sat this one out and taken that day off.

          1. Daisy-dog*

            Yes, that was my thought as well. It seems like it probably is a suitable distance for some or is a midpoint.

  7. Tiger Snake*

    #4 seems to be trying to making their wife’s choices her workplace’s responsibility instead of laying that at the feet of the people it really belongs to (that is to say, the two of them). It comes at the consequence of making them seem super entitled, when I think perhaps that’s not really it.

    LW#4 isn’t married to her workplace, they’re married to HER. Her workplace has no responsibility to make them feel happy in their marriage. Her workplace doesn’t owe them for quality time lost.

    Like – okay yeah, it’s a role with a lot of hours. But that’s a choice their wife and they have chosen to make. If he’s no longer okay with it, that’s between them and their wife, and if that’s not working them it’s the two of them that need to decide if cutting back or a new role is what’s best.

    1. Kara*

      Three hours driving, to a mandatory event, with alcohol present, with no transportation options other than driving oneself? Leaving aside everything else, I agree with the spouse that the company isn’t exactly setting the participants up for success.

      Then, that is a lot of hours: a job and a half’s worth to be precise. The workplace not having any responsibility to their employees’ marriages does not make them any less culpable for abusing their employees. IMO this should be a hire more staff situation.

      1. Amarula*

        There’s no abuse. Some jobs require long hours. You’re not forced to take one of those jobs; if you dislike it, find a company that values work-life balance. As for the event itself, it was held during the working day. She’s not being asked to work any additional hours beyond what she normally would.

    2. ferrina*

      I concur.

      The company party doesn’t sound great (there’s a lot of issues that commenters have already pointed out), but that’s not the main issue for OP. It’s not a one-day thing. 60 hour roles are a lifestyle decision, and one that not for everyone. Same way that some roles involve a lot of travel, and that’s not for every couple. Part of being a couple is understanding how your choices impact your spouse. It’s okay to say “this lifestyle isn’t going to work for me.” Obviously OP shouldn’t leap straight to “it’s me or the job!” or try to control his wife’s career, but he gets to verbalize his needs. “I’m unhappy with not seeing you much. This isn’t working for me. Can we talk about how we can address this?”
      This is a big issue, and it can help to have a marriage therapist to help people think through the implications or articulate their thoughts. I really feel for the OP.

  8. Empress Ki*

    Acupuncture is a 3000 years Traditional Chinese Medicine. Can we not call it woo, even if you don’t believe in it ?
    You’re right that acupuncture doesn’t belong in the workplace. This is not a team building activity, this is medicine. Also, some people are scared of needles.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      The age of it doesn’t matter one way or the other – plenty of quackery is old (humours theory, for a western example). Old treatments shouldn’t be dismissed, but they shouldn’t be venerated just because either. What makes something respectable medicine is science, not age.

      I wouldn’t call things “woo” in public, so as not to offend anyone, but that also applies to modern woo.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I have been known to tell my doctor, in response to “Why are you in today?” that my humors are out of balance. But only with a doctor I know well and who is tolerant.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Hilariously, my partner’s other partner apparently produces too much blood or something and has to donate every so often for his health, on doctor’s orders. We joke that we have to send him off to adjust his humors every few months or so.

            1. Engineer*

              I’m not Earthling, but yeah, it’s basically bloodletting. I’ve got some transmasc friends who have to do the same every 4-6 months or so. High levels of testosterone causes the body to produce extra blood, which is not a good thing as it turns out, so it needs removed.

              1. AnonRN*

                Some people also have too much iron in their blood and one way to reduce that is, basically, bloodletting. Sometimes the blood can be donated & sometimes not depending on how it affects the cells.

                But as this forum has discussed many a-time, group blood donation is *also* not a good work bonding activity!

                1. EmF*

                  I mean, I’ve worked in places that organized in-office blood drives (optional – you could give blood, volunteer as an assistant handing out snacks/running/setting up beds etc., or stay at the other end of the building if you weren’t comfortable being near the needles and blood) and it was pretty great for work bonding – “we are working together to do something good, and we can chat with each other while we’re at it!” . We hosted a sponsored head-shave to raise money for a non-profit that provides support (counselling, group retreats, fertility support, etc.) to cancer patients, too, and that was a big hit.

                  The key in both was that they were veeeeery optional (with a bit of cheering for people who gave blood or shaved their head) and held in locations that were easily-accessible (big conference room, cafeteria with some conference rooms pulled into service as substitute cafeterias and food provided) but also not the place where people were working.

            2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              it’s called therapeutic phlebotomy, and the most common use for it (or one of, but this is the one I always see) is in the treatment of hemochromatosis, which is the opposite of iron deficiency anemia — too much iron in the blood.

      2. Random Dice*

        Even those ancient quackery medicines can have a basis in fact, though.

        Bloodletting may have had a very beneficial effect in a northern European population with a high rate of hemochromatosis. (Basically anti-anemia: an iron buildup that makes one very sick, that is relieved by removing blood.)

        It was common in ancient British and Viking populations, both of which spread widely across northern Europe.

        Which is also the part of the world where bloodletting became common.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I feel like, if they found somewhere that will do an acupuncture party, that is probably way more woo than a place that’s actually practicing medicine. Presumably if they’re legit and it’s an appropriately licensed medical practice, they wouldn’t be scheduling group parties.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Possible, although I think it could be similar to massage in that it is something which may be medically prescribed ./ recommended but might also be something that’s suitable for relaxation / stress relief.
        It’s still an odd thing to be doing as a team building exercise but I don’t think you can necessarily draw conclusions about the professionalism of the practitioner from that.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        THIS. Acupuncture as practiced by medical professionals is not woo. Acupuncture done as this cool new party activity is woo.

        1. Allonge*

          That is what I wanted to say, could not find a good way to phrase it! Proposing acupuncture as a possible team building activity is already treating it as ‘woo’ (as opposed to treating it as a medical treatment). It’s an exotic experience, donchanow!

          I know two wrongs don’t make a right, but I also see OP coming from in this context and that makes the reaction understandable.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Exactly. The same way that IVs and MRIs are medicine, but getting an IV at a medispa to “flush your toxins” or having “full body scans” every year for no reason are woo.

      4. Dinwar*

        “I feel like, if they found somewhere that will do an acupuncture party, that is probably way more woo than a place that’s actually practicing medicine.”

        The difference isn’t as precise as you seem to think. My wife worked as a massage therapist for a while, and many of her colleagues worked with physical therapists and hospitals as well as spas. Turns out massage has benefits both as physical therapy and as “I want to relax”. So the logic “It’s used as medicine therefore any non-medicinal use is woo” doesn’t hold true. If you want to argue that’s the case specifically for acupuncture, that’s fine–but you’ll need to substantiate that specific claim.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Nobody has to “substantiate” their opinions in blog comments that are, by their nature, subjective. And most people wouldn’t associate massage with “woo” anyway, because massage therapy generally makes no esoteric or unproveable claims beyond the obvious physical benefits of relaxation and manipulation.

          Woo generally refers to unscientific and unproveable claims of unclear / subjective benefit, like “flushing toxins,” or claims of benefit based on a specific spiritual / religious belief system, like “energy healing.”

          Although I think your example ties very well back to the core of the original question – would group massages at a spa be an appropriate professional teambuilding activity? No. No, they would not, for a variety of reasons starting with wearing a towel.

          1. Dinwar*

            “Nobody has to “substantiate” their opinions in blog comments that are, by their nature, subjective.”

            Sure. Feel free to ignore my comment. Doesn’t mean that applications of basic critical thinking principles (the analysis of arguments and discussion of the reasons supporting a conclusion) are invalid forms of discussion. I’ve even argued that this sort of discussion is more polite than normal; after all, analyzing reasoning is the mechanics of how ideas are taken seriously. Unless you’re going to argue that one should treat arguments frivolously here? (There are places where this would be the case, but an advice blog probably isn’t among them.)

            As for “woo”, it’s a pejorative, pure and simple. It was invented, or at least popularized, as an insult, a way to mock certain beliefs. If you don’t think acupuncture is valid as a team-building exercise that’s fine, but it should be possible to articulate that without personal attacks.

            “would group massages at a spa be an appropriate professional teambuilding activity? No.”

            Chair massage can be conducted without being naked. And it is used both recreationally (for most–I’m apparently one of a small number of people that massage doesn’t work on) and therapeutically (sitting all day isn’t fantastic for you and this helps undo some of the damage).

            Ironically, though, I agree that it’s not appropriate for a team-building activity. My issue was with the reasoning, not the conclusion reached. My objection to acupuncture and massage as team-building is that both are inherently individual activities–it’s you and the therapist, there’s no real possibility of adding another person to the mix–which is counter to the concept of team building. They can be nice to offer your employees, but as something else. Team building should, well, have them working as a team. Or addressing those issues which are arising in the team. At minimum something that actually involves a team.

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t like the use of woo here either. Usually the comments are more open minded. Acupuncture is not for everyone (me included). Still doesn’t belong at a work function however.

    4. Eli*

      Yes, the WHO actually recommends acupuncture for certain conditions such as back pain and labor induction. (Both worked for me!) Acupuncture treatments are super personal with the practitioner asking many health questions. Definitely not work appropriate-it’s more like a doctor visit.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Yes, that came off as a bit racist and raised a red flag for me.
      There’s lots of medical research and some evidence for it for some conditions.
      Still not an appropriate work activity, but no need to trash talk something just because it isn’t American.

  9. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #3 Mentioning sexual purity on a job application. Yikes.
    Maybe he wants to indicate he would work very hard because he has a lot of frustration to work off!

    1. Allonge*

      To be honest I see that he would have mentioned it as an example of a leadership role or non-school activity, but, yes, yikes!

      Some things are better left off the resume.

      1. Cinnamon Boo*

        He could have easily mentioned being a co-chair of a social group or organized something something. In no way does the purity piece need to be in there as the purpose is to show involvement and organization anyway.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      Having grown up around this stuff, yeah, he was probably trying to emphasize the leadership aspect, and also probably figured “It’s about NOT having sex, therefore it can’t be inappropriate!” Folks in that kind of purity culture genuinely don’t think through it, because after all, it’s “virtuous” (gag) and it’s about what you’re NOT doing! Especially since he mentioned it being it undergrad–if he went to a super Christian college, that’s so normalized, and he might not realize it’s weird to see outside of his “bubble.”

      If he’d edited it to like, “a men’s support group,” or something, that might have been fine. Buuuuut no.

      1. RVA Cat*

        All of this, plus it makes me think he’ll try to police women’s outfits and co-worker’s personal lives. I’m particularly concerned if he can interact professionally with LGBTQ co-workers and clients.

  10. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #4 Working 60 hours is hellish, but does not excuse DUIs. Or gatecrashing an internal work event, especially during standard work hours.
    I hope his spouse now has a job with civilised hours

    1. anon for this*

      I kinda lowkey hope his spouse also has a new spouse. Because this dude came off as super controlling to me.

      JMO, others may see it differently, of course.

      1. ferrina*

        Interesting- I saw it the opposite way.

        I saw him as being frustrated with his lifestyle (i.e., never seeing his spouse) but feeling like he couldn’t bring it up to his spouse. From some of his comments, I suspect he didn’t want to issue an ultimatum (“it’s me or the job!”) or be controlling in another way. But he didn’t know how to say “Honey, our lifestyle isn’t working for me. I’m really sad and frustrated from not being able to see you, and the long-term impact of this is making me really miserable. Can we talk about what we can do about this?” It’s a really hard conversation, both emotionally and to try to articulate. This is where marriage counsellors can be really helpful, because they are trained on how to help people recognize and articulate their needs, and to hear the needs of others (instead of talking past each other). Of course, there’s always situations where one partner is determined to not see another’s needs or can’t/won’t have open communication, but there’s a lot of situations where two people love each other and want to work together but don’t have the tools for these really heavy conversations (surprisingly normal and common).

        And if the wife is an alcoholic, that’s a whole different level of pain. He may not be at the point where he can accept that about his wife (if it is the case…there’s a couple comments where he alludes to “anyone can get a DUI” and her industry being famous for alcoholism without specifically talking about his wife’s drinking, so it makes me wonder if he’s currently trying to minimize or deny the situation).

        1. Amarula*

          The wife, of course, is also able to say, “I’m putting my career first” or “I like intense work environments.” I really resent the notion that women are supposed to sacrifice their career for the sake of their man.

  11. Splendid!*

    #1 I had acupuncture frequently on a frozen shoulder. It works for me because the treatment involves inserting a needle into certain points causing them to spasm then relax.
    BUT it is a very private thing. I’m stripped to the waist and my right shoulder, upper back and neck are covered in upright needles. As the needles are withdrawn they are dropped into a bucket of sterilising fluid which quickly becomes bloody – it’s not a pleasant sight. My wife saw it once and that was enough for her.
    To have this done with your work group? Noooooo! It’s such a bad idea.

    1. Phryne*

      Isn’t that dry needling though? As I understand it, acupuncture does not insert needles trough the skin deep enough to bleed? They are related, but I’m not sure I would call them the same.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, when I had acupuncture I had to remove a certain amount of clothing, and then had needles sticking out all over me, but my practitioner just pulled them out and dropped them in a sharps container, no blood. Acupuncture is just meant to stimulate your nerves and train them to not overreact to things (hence why it helped me/others with migraines).

        But again, still not a work appropriate “activity”. If they wanted to go down this ‘wellness’ road, the most inoffensive thing is chair massages that one can opt out of. No clothing removal and not a medical procedure.

        1. Cinnamon Boo*

          dry needling shouldn’t either! They are larger needles and go in different places than acupuncture but they shouldn’t be dripping with blood!

          1. Phryne*

            Good point. But apart from the bleeding, the idea behind dry needling is very different. You are poking a needle into a bunched up muscle to essentially startle it into relaxing.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      I had a similar experience with cupping. My massage therapist uses the suction to help loosen up tissue before he goes in in particular tight areas – not the traditional use to bring blood to an areas.

      But not as a work activity! That is sooooooo weird.

      TBH I wonder what a company lawyer or risk manager would have to say about doing that stuff at work.

  12. Skye*

    #3: it sounds like valid experience with group leadership but he’s got to phrase it differently. Young Men’s Support and Accountability Group conveys the same core information and keeps everyone’s mind away from adult topics. (I’m assuming they discuss things that aren’t directly related to “sexual purity” in these groups, so he’d hopefully have example situations to discuss that weren’t about that.)

    1. Kara*

      Not necessarily, given that a great many of these groups not only focus exclusively on abstention, but deep dive into it. Some of them have even been coming under fire for false health claims, suicides, and funneling of young men into incel online communities. Not all of them are like this, of course, but it’s something I’d want to look very closely at before making a hiring decision.

  13. Cheesesteak in Paradise*


    I feel like working 7.5 hours a day even with a long lunch is working full time. Maybe this coworker is also inefficient the rest of the day, maybe not. But is an extra hour a day really going to give someone the time to do multiple additional projects?

    1. GythaOgden*

      If she’s contracted to be working at that time and there’s more she could be doing, yeah, she needs to be doing it.

    2. Throwaway Account*

      I mean, good for OP’s coworker for creating a good work/life balance. Alison’s advice is still the way to go but sometimes the solution is not “work more hours.”

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If she spende 6 hours a day working and ‘should’ be working 7 hours (for some definition of ‘should’) that is an extra 15% which, while it might not allow time for “multiple additional projects”, also isn’t nothing.

      1. kiki*

        An extra hour does add up over time. On any individual day, 6 hours vs 7 doesn’t make a huge difference, but over time, a lot can be done. I was really surprised recently when I started reserving the last half hour of my day for process improvement work. (I have way too much on my plate and it’s easy to swing from emergency to emergency without fixing systems as a whole). It didn’t seem like that much time but I was surprised how much better things had gotten after a few weeks of doing that.

    4. Also-ADHD*

      I think the greater issue should be the workload between LW and colleague — the time might be the issue, or something else, but LW shouldn’t have to stay late and do so much while the other coworker has great work/life balance and chills. The manager can address this, and determine what’s right, but if the colleague isn’t pulling their weight and also seems to be working an abbreviated schedule, it could be connected. I think it’s petty to care about that time differential IF the workload distribution was even/fair but it’s not.

  14. Throwaway Account*

    I was today years old when I learned from the AAM community:
    1. The spiritualism and seance origins of chiropractic
    2. That there is a thing called dry needling that is similar to, but not the same as, acupuncture

    Learning new things (beyond workplace info) is another reason I love this space!!

    1. Yup!*

      Dry needling as physiotherapy is totally a thing! But I don’t think it’s detached from acupuncture, or that westernizing it suddenly makes it acceptable.

  15. Yup!*

    #3- I wonder if he included leadership in a sexual purity group because, in his particular religious community, this really is seen as an accomplishment and a worthy character trait. Which makes me think his understanding of the work force has been skewed and he could end up being a liability. I feel kind of bad for him being steered this way, and wonder what other problematic thinking he will bring to his future jobs…

    1. Nonanon*

      If nothing else, it’s a leadership role. If he had mentioned leading a “men’s accountability group,” no one would have batted an eye; it’s the emphasis on sexual purity (inside or outside of a religious/spiritual context). There is value in almost all leadership experiences; this could have taught him how to have difficult conversations on delicate matters, make sure everyone’s concerns are being heard, even get four people’s schedules to overlap for a half hour meeting each week. There are ways to emphasize the skills without bringing sex into it.

    2. MassMatt*

      I was thinking that maybe this applicant is mostly angling for a position with a conservative politician, or a law firm associated with the religious right. It is more likely to be seen as a positive there, but they would be better served tailoring their resume between secular firms and more conservative religious ones.

    3. ferrina*

      That’s what I would guess. Sometimes this is just a naiveté, but sometimes this is indicative of how they approach everything (assuming that their values and experience are the norm and shared by everyone, without actually taking the temperature of the room)

    4. kiki*

      It can be hard to say! Because some people quickly adjust once exposed to professional norms and are kind of horrified about how misguided their early choices were. But others, yeah, can cause a lot of issues/ not really want to adjust to professional norms. See that letter with an update recently about the woman who kept singing on calls and such.

  16. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (coworker doesn’t do enough) – the part that the answer didn’t touch on, and which I see as key, is that OP seems to have a senior role relative to the coworker, without having the title or, presumably, the pay.

    Organisationally they are “equivalent”, but the manager is treating OP as senior and asking them to delegate and allocate work.

    No wonder the co-worker resists being delegated work by their peer.

    The manager needs to officially give OP the position, or carry out their own (the manager’s) supervisory duties. That is the conversation OP should have with the manager.

  17. Lilo*

    Cupping requires a decent amount of exposed skin, right? I can’t imagine getting it done whole wearing a standard shirt. I think a very clear line is “does thus involve removing clothes”. Chair massage thus, fine, Cupping no. But ANY activity like that needs to be strictly voluntary.

    1. econobiker*

      I wondered this too whether people would be required to wear swim suits to accomplish the process or just on exposed arms etc…

  18. bamcheeks*

    I really want to see the pitch for acupuncture and cupping as a team building exercise. “Always wanted to stick needles in Jan from Accounts? Think it’s time someone gave your IT manager some massive bruises? Look no further—“

  19. Fluffy Fish*

    ” She is being forced to go but is at least getting paid to do so.”

    Yes because it is a work-day activity just like if she was sitting at her desk during those hours. The fact that its a “fun” activity off-site doesn’t change that – it’s part of her normal workday. Forced is a strong word – she’s working in exchange for pay and employers do expect employees to do things that are assigned to them. Now if she was concerned with something like accessibility that would be a different story.

    Would you just show up and sit in her office for hours?

    1. Jackalope*

      Yes, but it is concerning that the company is having an event at a 6 hour round-trip drive that will potentially involve a lot of alcohol AND expecting everyone to drive themselves home again. That’s not a great work expectation; some jobs do involve putting your life in danger on the regular, but it’s usually in service to a large goal than being able to be wasted with your coworkers.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Yes – the alcohol and driving would fall under something OP’s spouse could raise with their employer.

        Apparently the original letter OP got super defensive about many things and there was a laundry list of concerns but the bottom line is still a spouse should not just show up to a work event and an event during working hours is part of the work day.

    2. Clisby*

      If she’s actually putting in 60 hours a week, seems like there should be plenty for her to do in the office.

  20. Nuke*

    Something like acupuncture 100% does not belong in the workplace as a fun activity!

    That said. I’ll speak from the perspective of someone living with an incurable, chronic pain condition for 17 years now. Many, many people dismiss treatments as “woo” or “unscientific” if they “only treat symptoms”. However, for people with chronic pain, a lot of the time symptom management is their only option. I’ve had people (shockingly, strangers on the internet) yelling at me for not seeking a “cure” for my back condition and just “treating symptoms”. I’ve had my medical history/xrays demanded and told “just get surgery!”, neither of which I’m interested in entertaining!

    So, I just want to put a note out there that a lot of the time, people seeking these “alternative” treatments are doing so because “accepted” treatments have failed them (IE: their only other option is taking heavy painkillers for their entire life), or there isn’t actually a cure for their problem. Of course it needs to be acknowledged that a lot of these things can be predatory (crystals will not cure CANCER OMG), but pain management for chronic conditions isn’t something I’m going to sit here and judge. And acupuncture isn’t even something I’ve used.

    tl;dr, be very wary of any “alternative” stuff offering magical “cures” obviously, but please don’t assume people choosing “alternative” symptom management over painkillers or major surgeries are victims of woo/being scammed.

    1. Cinnamon Boo*

      Indeed. I was very nauseated during my pregnancy. I took the meds and I also did acupuncture. I have no idea if it worked, but I do know the combination seemed to help me make it through the day even if I was still miserable. Today I am trying a bracelet that emits a pulse in the wrist (the nausea area) because I am driving in the mountains and I get terrible car sickness. I am willing to try this when nothing else works (it is FDA approved also)

      Now, I have tried to go back for some pain in my foot to a different acupuncturist – this one was more of a ‘natural healer’ when the other was very much just doing the acupuncture and it did nothing for me, mostly I was put off by the person trying to give me nutrition advice and talking about things like inflammation, etc, what I should eat and that really bothered me. She is not a dietician and as a recovered ED person, I know a LOT about nutrition to know this is super harmful and not based in science. She really pushed when I told her I would not be making a diet changes and that is just a no-go for me.

    2. Blarg*

      A lot of Western treatments only address symptoms — almost all of them, really. As a society, we just don’t think pain “counts.” Insulin for diabetes treats the symptoms of diabetes, it does nothing to make the pancreas produce its own insulin. Blood pressure meds reduce your blood pressure, but they don’t treat WHY you have high blood pressure, which is why when you stop taking it, your BP increases again.

      Antibiotics actually treat the infection. Cancer surgery that removes the tumor treats (but does not always cure) the disease. Physical therapy for an injury might actually stop the problem. Most everything else is symptom management of one kind or another.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Your examples seem to be odd choices, because several of those are situations where there isn’t a known treatment for the source of the issue (and in many cases, antibiotics DO fully resolve the issue).

        1. Stopgap*

          The last paragraph is listing treatments that do stop the problem. Hence the word “else” in the last sentence.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, but in many cases the disease //doesn’t// have a cure. As someone who lost a spouse to cancer, I know there are people out there who are trying to find a cure, but in many cases the cancer is too aggressive to actually be able to stop. The triumph is not necessarily in terms of curing something — it’s in finding a treatment that keeps someone going despite the disease’s best efforts

            Not for nothing has the population of the world exploded in the last 70-80 years. Combine penicillin, vaccination, better sanitation, better treatments that keep people alive and active even if they don’t cure people…that’s what western medicine has bought us compared to traditional remedies.

            However, western medicine builds on and synthesises observations from nature. Aspirin was synthesised from willow bark used as an analgesic by older cultures. Joseph Lister observed how women who killed cows didn’t develop smallpox because they contracted a milder form of the disease — cowpox — and developed a resistance to the same family of viruses. Hence he manufactured vaccines — named after the cows that enabled his discovery — to inject people with cowpox so the body got a dry run at fighting off the nastier strain of the same disease.

            Cures are not always possible. You can’t even cure the common cold, but you can treat the symptoms until the patient gets better in order to relieve stress on the body and allow it to fight off the virus rather than struggle to do a lot of things at the same time. It may simply not be possible to engineer something that actually kickstarts the body’s insulin production system.

            We may need to shift the paradigm away from the idea that there’s a ‘cure’ for all diseases. It’s just simply not possible, at least before we make other breakthroughs. Another story is that the steam engine and its principles were known even to the ancient Greeks and Romans, but the metallurgy needed to make boilers big enough for industrial use was not available until the days of Watt. Electric cars were around at the time of Benz, but it has taken a century and a half to make them efficient enough for commercial production.

            It’s often not as simple as it looks and thus really not a matter of ideology or greed or ignorance so much as development of other necessary technology and processes to make that idea an actual reality.

              1. GythaOgden*

                You were the one who started asserting that western medicine wasn’t interested in curing people and denigrating the processes which have given all of us healthier lives to begin with.

                1. Stopgap*

                  No, I wasn’t. Did you confuse me with Blarg? Because I don’t think they were asserting that, either.

                2. Stopgap*

                  Blarg was stating facts. If you read judgment into that, that’s on you. Somehow misreading “Blarg” as “Stopgap” is definitely on you.

            1. Ismonie*

              I think the women were dairymaids. So they *milked* cows. They weren’t going around killing them. Unless they were shockingly bad at their jobs.

        2. CupLyfe*

          I’ve got a rare neuromuscular condition and there’s actually some decent science on the mechanics of cupping specifically and how it’s effective for symptom management in certain conditions where patients (like me) have nerve issues that make them unsuitable for things like deep tissue massage.

          It’s entirely irrelevant to the question because the only person putting cups on me is a physical therapist with a DPT and full licensure, and it’s wildly inappropriate as a team building activity, but the treatment itself as applied in an evidence-based context isn’t woo

    3. DU-Why*

      Yeah, there was a lot of judgement in that letter that didn’t need to be there. I love that there’s an interesting array of choices that this company offers (as long as people are able to opt out of their non-preferred activities). People will find a way to complain about anything.

      But it’s 2023 now so hopefully they have grown from this and realize all they have to do is say “not my jam. See ya at the art show!”

    4. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think an ethical practitioner who was actually using acupuncture for managing serious symptoms would perform it on people who were roped into attending a work party (with bonus needles!) *who did not seek out treatment for any actual health conditions*.

      Acupuncture as entertainment counts as woo.

      1. EmmaPoet*

        My practitioner doesn’t do group clinics because she feels she needs to know her patient well, and those are often drop-in, so she could be practicing on someone totally new whose medical history she doesn’t have a full knowledge of. She would flat-out refuse to do a team-building event where a bunch of people are basically there because their boss made them come.

        Sorry, my first round of this comment went in the wrong place!

  21. I should really pick a name*

    #1 is one of those cases where there’s no need to get into specifics.

    “I’m not interested in participating” or “I don’t think health practices are appropriate for a workplace activity” is enough. Commenting on what you think about the practice doesn’t add anything useful to the discussion.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      what it adds is information about why whoever planned this should never plan anything like it again.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Isn’t that covered by “I don’t think health practices are appropriate for a workplace activity”?

    2. I Have RBF*

      Health “treatments”, whether “woo” or not, do not belong as a workplace “fun” activity. It would be like “Hey, everybody, it’s Cancer Awareness Month, we are going to have colonoscopies as a team building and wellness event! Be sure to do your prep!”

  22. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    #1 – A team building event in which there’s an explanation of and discussion of various non-Standard Western Medicine Practices, preferably attended while snacking on delicious non-pizza lunch foods, would be a lovely way to spend an hour or two with co-workers.

    And I would decline “samples” of the treatment happily, in the same way that I would decline taking samples of random medicine, regardless who offered it.

  23. Ex-prof*

    LW #3 probably lives (lived) in a bubble where leadership of a men’s sexual purity club is admirable and praiseworthy, instead of TMI.

    1. Laser99*

      Not only that but the more sexually repressed a person is, the worse is the behavior if/when they just give in to their desires. (See: The Roman Catholic Church.)

      1. Ismonie*

        If you’re referring to pedophilia, pedophiles seek out environments where they have authority over and/or access to children. I don’t think there’s any indication that sexual repression causes pedophilia. But sexual repression and the expectation that someone does not need an adult romantic or sexual partner to fit in can make it easier for them to mask who they are.

  24. Victor WembanLlama*

    I believe the famous line by Groucho Marx about not wanting to join any club that would accept him as a member was said in reference to sexual purity clubs

  25. Dust Bunny*

    #4 I get feeling neglected but if this is an issue you two need to handle it between yourselves by looking into moving closer, her finding another job, etc., not by forcing yourself into events that you have already been told are not open to spouses.

  26. Elves Have Left the Building*

    I wonder if the boss has ever TRIED those activities? Acupuncture, I wouldn’t necessarily call painful, but it CAN be uncomfortable and cupping is (IME) VERY painful. Like… a lot and it can leave bruises on you afterwards (it did me). I’ll NEVER do it again. Someone needs to give the boss a heads up that this is a SUPER bad idea because not just that it requires employees to undress in front of a stranger and doing things with bodies on work time/dime is weird to begin with, but also because it may HURT people!

    1. Sled dog mama*

      Yes! Acupuncture can be very painful when done properly and/or on frozen or spasmed muscles. And is a FANTASTIC way to learn that the muscle you thought was functioning properly is in fact spasmodic (please everyone see the sarcasm dripping from that sentence).
      It can also lead to somatic releases (like a huge rush of emotion). I have had acupuncture in the past for muscle spasms after more western treatment failed to help much (I’m not gonna debate the woo thing. I’ve had it done, it helped me but I don’t think it’s for everyone or every condition and I think it’s up to the individual to decide if it’s for them or not. I feel the same about chiropractic care)

  27. That wasn't me. . .*

    Declining the acupuncture, etc. shouldn’t be about whether it’s “woo-woo” or not: chair messages might be a treat, and a yogo class MIGHT be team building, but these things are *treatments * that should be applied when needed. A puzzled “I’m fine, I don’t need any acupuncture right now.” should cover it. Then walk away before they get a chance to say more Of course, if you have been complaining about back pain or other, you could say “I’m just going to wait till my doctor prescribes it!”)

  28. Cyndi*

    My all time least favorite boss used to be gone for an hour or two getting cupping and acupuncture almost daily because the place was next door. This was pretty much the most useful management decision she ever made, since I could only effectively get work done while she wasn’t there.

  29. JaneDough(not)*

    LW1, I support your right to opt out. That said, I hope you’ll reconsider your impulse to dismiss activities that you know nothing about. Acupuncture isn’t “woo” (and I think you meant “woo-woo”); there is some scientific data on its effectiveness, not to mention at least one video of a woman undergoing surgery with acupuncture, rather than anesthesia, to make the procedure pain-free for her.

  30. feline outerwear catalog*

    For #2 does the coworker know that boss asked you to delegate? Is your coworker a minority or female and you’re not? have ended up in situations where coworkers try to push their crap work on me. It’s not cool. Is this a thing where bosses actually ask people to do that? Yikes.

    1. Also-ADHD*

      Even before I was a team lead, I had to distribute work, and it was a bit of an issue with one new hire for a brief period until my boss clarified for them I was running projects and speaking on her behalf — it takes 6-12 months for lead promotions to be approved in my company, though actually that issue sped mine up because my boss hated having to be at meetings for all projects that team member was on. Really they weren’t a great fit for our team in other ways (they wanted to do only the creative side of our work, not the strategic part or the detail oriented part, and disliked any “tedious” parts and wanted to offload—I took and still do take some tedious parts even as lead, as much as my time allows, to be fair, and try to ensure no one has a bulk of that) but I hadn’t had any other coworkers kick up a fuss, nor have I ever in a situation where there’s clearly a trusted leader (in project based roles though, where it’s common someone leads). Every once and awhile even though I’m a lead now, I support a project someone else is leading (a peer or even a junior) and I don’t have an issue doing my bit either though. I think it might vary by industry? But it is really common in my field that someone at an individual contributor level is a lead, distributing work in particular cases. No Odea what is common for LW role.

  31. Addison DeWitt*

    The last meeting I went to where people stuck pointy things in each other was in the Roman Senate in 44 B.C.

    1. Have you had enough water today?*

      Excellent comment but now I have iced coffee all over my screen from where I spit it from laughing.

  32. Elio*

    I think acupuncture is so inappropriate for a team building activity. I don’t know what cupping is, but if it involves needles then hard pass. I do not like needles and I would not get acupuncture done from a trained professional, let alone a coworker.

  33. Fez Knots*

    With OP #2 I really feel like we should shift away from policing people’s work days and time. Can’t you just go back to your supervisor and say, “I’ve asked Jane to take this task on and she says she doesn’t have the time. I let her know I would flag that to you and let the two of you glance over her schedule.” Doesn’t this do the same thing without you taking on the burden of added work or reporting on how a coworker spends their time?

    Like, let that be her and her supervisor’s issue.

    The idea that we need to be On and Working for 8 hours is just…not it. And essentially tattling is taking on emotional labor that you could easily not take on. Let your supervisor handle it and keep it pushing.

  34. EmmaPoet*

    #1- as someone who sees an acupuncturist and has done for many years, it is definitely not something I ever want to do with an audience. I am not required to undress, but I do have to move clothing to expose skin, and I don’t feel like putting my surgical scars on display for coworkers. Also, I don’t want to go to a random practitioner! Mine knows me and knows, for example, that a traditional migraine point that they’ve been taught to use actually triggers a rebound headache for me the next day. I am very comfortable with my practitioner. It took time to get this comfortable. I’m not going to feel that way with a stranger.

  35. EmmaPoet*

    My practitioner doesn’t do group clinics because she feels she needs to know her patient well, and those are often drop-in, so she could be practicing on someone totally new whose medical history she doesn’t have a full knowledge of. She would flat-out refuse to do a team-building event where a bunch of people are basically there because their boss made them come.

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