coworkers love talking about childbirth, my office smells like a corpse, and more

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

Due to the quantity of updates we have, posts on Wednesday will publish at 10 am, 11 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30, 3:30 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm (all times Eastern).

1. My coworkers love talking about childbirth during lunch and it’s grossing me out

My coworkers enjoy talking about childbirth at lunch. It seems like I can’t even eat my lunch without someone discussing a torn perineum. I’ve tried making jokes like “ha ha, I just want to eat my lunch without a side of placenta” but they just keep talking about it. I think because I’m a woman in my mid-20s they assume that I want to hear about this stuff, but the fact is that I find is disgusting. It doesn’t help that we have two pregnant women in the office so everyone wants to share their horror stories.

Should I just pack more snacks and eat lunch later or eat at my desk? I love to talk about weekend stuff, music, pets, anything but bodily fluids and babies.

I think you can ask — clearly and directly and without making a joke about it, so they know you really mean it — if they wouldn’t mind stopping. But if that doesn’t work and it turns out that everyone but you likes the topic and wants to continue with it, then all you can really do is remove yourself from the situation. (That doesn’t mean the topic is polite or appropriate; it’s not.)

So in this case, you could say, “Hey, can I ask y’all a favor? I love eating together and getting to catch up, but I’m really uncomfortable with all the explicit talk about childbirth. Would you be up for reining that in? If not, I can eat on my own — but I enjoy our lunches together so much the rest of the time that I wanted to ask.”

You will probably get some ribbing about this, but they still might agree to cut it out.


2. My office smells like a corpse

My office is an older building and half of it is up on a small crawl space. Every winter around this time (late February to early March) is what we call the dead animal season. Something (rat, feral cat, mouse) ends up finding its way into the crawl space and perishing – for whatever reason. And then the smell begins to permeate the office. There are always one or two locations where the smell is worse – different every year – but the smell comes right up through the floor and is rank enough that people are nauseated and have a difficult time working. The smell will last for 2-3 weeks.

And nothing is done about this. The manager doesn’t usually notice unless it’s brought to his attention – he works in the part of the building that has a basement below it so he doesn’t often experience this. This has been going on for the eight years I’ve been working here, and the response every year is that we have no way to prevent animals getting under there and no way of getting them out. When we bring in air deodorizers or air purifiers (electric or natural) we are told that those emit a scent he can’t stand and we need to get rid of them – and we make a point to get ones that are fragrance free.

What are our options? And we can’t always take vacation then!

What?! Every year for two to three weeks, the smell of a decomposing corpse fills your office and makes people nauseated, and your manager doesn’t care and won’t even let you bring in an air purifier?

Something here stinks worse than the dead animal, and that something is your boss.

I doubt this violates an OSHA rule (although I’d welcome someone finding out differently), which means that your best bet is to demand as a group that this be solved, including going over your boss’s head (again, as a group) if he won’t budge. You have the legal right to organize with your coworkers about your working conditions; use that right to make it more of a pain for your company to ignore you than to keep letting this happen. (Note that the law protects you when you push back as a group, but not if you do it on your own. So speaking as a group matters here, if you care about the legal protection. But it’s also just probably going to get you better results in this case.)


3. Why am I hearing how my friend is messing up at work?

I recommended a good friend for a job at my company in a completely different department from me. He’s now been working there for a year. He’s in his mid-20s and is a good worker although he lacks experience. He was tossed into a job that he wasn’t qualified or trained for and given no leadership or supervision.

His boss (not my boss – again, separate departments) pulls me into her office last week and tells me my friend has made a mistake that cost the company thousands of dollars. Later, my friend’s coworker comes and tells me directly that my friend is “a fuck up” and she’s recommending that he be fired.

I didn’t want to know any of this and I’m confused and upset as to WHY ON EARTH I would be told. I’m not a supervisor or a person in authority. First, is this normal? Should I have been told this? Second, what am I supposed to do with this information? I wish I could un-hear all of it.

No, it’s not normal.

It’s possible that they were venting to you, without thinking through the fact that there was no reason to do it and it would put you in an unfair position. It’s also possible that they each felt like they should loop you back in — like, “That guy you recommended? Not the right one for the job!”

I can imagine a situation where if I were considering firing someone who a colleague had recommended, I might feel like I should loop them in on where things stood — just like you’d do if you weren’t hiring them at all after a colleague’s recommendation. I might feel like it would be helpful to seek their input — sort of like, “Here are the problems I’m seeing. I know you know him well. Do you think my assessment is off-base / is there a different perspective I should be taking?” But that would be a much more nuanced conversation than “This dude is a fuck-up” and doesn’t sound like what’s happening here.

Really, it just sounds like your coworkers are frustrated and venting in the wrong place. If it happens again, I’d say, “I feel like I’m in an awkward position hearing this. I’m assuming there’s no role for me to play here…?” and wait to see what they say.


4. My office gave out thank-you gifts … with strings and deadlines

I work for a private firm in a very deadline-driven business. We are extremely busy now and are having a stressful year because we are short on staff. A few days ago the professionals in the department received a $50 Visa gift card with a note. My first thought was gratitude — how nice to have the extra difficulties we are facing this year acknowledged! But the note asked us to use the funds to do something for someone else — family, team members, community. And to document our good works, preferably via social media, by a deadline that’s just two days after our filing deadline.

A number of guys are taking their wives to dinner or getting them flowers. Great idea, but I don’t have kids, and my husband would prefer my presence to anything I might buy for him (love that guy!) We have food everywhere, so no need to buy a treat for the team. No time to take folks to lunch. The only thing folks want now is time off and/or sleep. I have an idea for some equipment that might help our admin team (they work outrageous hours), but it’s expensive. I’d need to pool funds with many others and work with the admins to get the right thing, and no one has time for that. The firm has a charitable foundation we could donate to.

Any thoughts? We’re tired and stressed and pretty annoyed by this request.

“You’re swamped, so here’s a gift that requires more work and thought from you right now, and it must happen in the timeframe we say!” … is not really a great gift. I don’t blame you for being a little annoyed.

How about donating it to a charity you support? That’s fast and easy. And then you could pass along feedback to whoever organized this that while you appreciated the intent, it ended up feeling like an additional thing to do at a time when you needed less.


{ 170 comments… read them below }

    1. Shelly*

      Right, and then make up a story about what was done with it. Maybe, it was used to give a deserving person (no need to say that deserving person was you) a massage or a spa treatment.

      And I’ll bet the company would have no way of knowing when the gift card was used, so the OP could wait until there was time to decide what to use it for and then use it.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Yeah I would have taken that voucher and marched it to my favourite bookstore, boutique, fancy deli etc.

    3. Other Alice*

      Since taking their spouse to dinner seems to count, I’d just take a photo of my regular dinner and say I cooked my partner a special romantic dinner or whatever. No qualms about a white lie here. Make the photo as ugly as possible so they won’t be tempted to use it on their social media, as well.

      1. Bast*

        It seems like he “didn’t want anything for him” and that was included. If he doesn’t enjoy eating out or truly didn’t want anything, using the gift card on him would have the opposite result of what it was intended for, and add in an unhappy spouse.

        Frankly, the idea of a gift card with strings attached is just weird.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think this is an example of a committee combining a bunch of ideas:
          1) We should thank people for their extra work. And money is fungible!
          2) Great! But it’s the season of giving, and so wouldn’t it be even better to ask them to create warm fuzzies by using this as a gift to someone whose hard work should be appreciated?
          3) 2 is great, and we could highlight it on our social media!
          4) Make sure to do it within this timeframe for maximum effect!

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        – We are extremely busy now and are having a stressful year because we are short on staff.
        – The only thing folks want now is time off and/or sleep.

        So the LW (and she says her husband) are not actually interested in a night out at a restaurant. She sounds like she’s much rather be home.

        I might get my favorite takeout, but if that’s not her or her husbands thing and they prefer healthier homecooked fare …

        Also I think it is fairly questionable that doing something for your spouse is the spirit of this obligation. That seems to be an easy way out for her coworkers.

        1. Observer*

          Also I think it is fairly questionable that doing something for your spouse is the spirit of this obligation. That seems to be an easy way out for her coworkers.

          I don’t see why this is questionable at all. And I *really* cannot see any reason why people who are having ridiculous demands made on them should do anything other than taking the “easy way out”.

          As for the “spirit” of the idea? Well, aside from the fact that staff really have zero moral obligation to think about it, you are making a really unsound pair of assumptions here. That is, that there is a thought out “spirit” *and* that this “spirit” is to actually increase good, doing good or connection to others. And neither is likely at all.

          1. Project maniac-ger*

            Yeah I feel like taking your spouse out to dinner is not in the spirit of the original idea and it feels icky sexist to have a social media post of dudes giving flowers to their wives with the caption “tis the season of gratitude!”

      3. Observer*

        I don’t know why she didn’t just take her husband to dinner like every one else.

        The people who are taking their wives to dinner are not the ones on deadline. She can’t take enough time in the timeframe they gave to go out to dinner with her husband. And all he wants is *time*. Getting him something while not being home is just going to rub it in. I really don’t blame the OP for being highly frustrated.

      4. Bee*

        Yeah, take the two of you out to dinner the day after your filing deadline to celebrate your freedom, get takeout the day OF the filing deadline so you can spend the whole evening lying on the couch, buy your friends a round of drinks. None of that seems to be what they had in mind, but also this is such a stupid request to make of your employees (and ultimately seems self-serving: you have to post online about how “generous” your company is??). I actually glossed right over that bit assuming the reason the LW couldn’t use that solution was because they were single (does having dinner together not count as your presence?).

    4. Clisby*

      Yeah, treat herself to something special, and report that her husband has been basking in the sunshine of her happiness ever since.

    5. Reader North of 60*

      Friendly reminder to Canadian readers that gift cards are treated as near-cash by the income tax folks, and tax on the value may be withheld on your pay stub.
      Signed, someone who paid tax on a gift card that was not even usable, for a store they cannot stand.
      Bah humbug.

      1. Willow Pillow*

        Cosigned by a Canadian who got ~60% of their EOY bonus after tax. Actual gifts are non-taxable up to $500, though…

    6. Beth*

      I would simply have “forgotten” to make any public announcement at all, whatever I did with the funds.

      1. Dulcinea47*

        Now having a mental image of buying cat food & posting pics of cat enjoying said food (you know, the same thing he eats every day.)

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        But was it “special” litter?! :D

        I’m imagining you catching a photo of your kitty enjoying the litter…. I don’t think they would be able to use that on their social media.

        1. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

          My cat left me two treats the other day: a heart shaped pee spot, and a… lump literally shaped like a hand giving the finger. At the same time! I don’t think I have ever been more entertained scooping litter lol

    7. Artemesia*

      yeah. how hard is it to just lie. So what if the husband doesn’t ‘need anything’ — if others are taking their partner out to dinner — well just say you did (although $50 isn’t going to buy anything much more than burgers and a coke — heck I’d say that ‘took Fred out for a burger — appreciate the break from the kitchen’ — and call it a day.

      If you are already giving donations this time of year well then send this $50 to one of your favorite recipient organizations — but otherwise, screw the idea of dancing to their tune. Do what you want with the money and lie.

    8. Helen Waite*

      Agree! Quietly use the money for yourself, and ignore the request for social media pics. I’d bet nobody will even mention it to you if you don’t.

    9. Cansada*

      Or get together with a coworker and gift each other stuff you would love but won’t get for yourself.
      “I gave my dear friend a gift card for a manicure because she deserves a treat for all she does”.
      “I got my dear friend a grocery store delivery credit because they have no time to shop for needed groceries due to work and family commitments.”
      “My gift was a family zoo membership for a friend who needs and deserves a treat with their family.”
      In essence you are swapping the benefit and following directions.

    10. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

      The only charity I am giving to this year is the “my rent was raised astronomically” fund. Giving someone money and then telling them how to spend it (Not on yourself!) is tacky and shows a level of cluelessness that I honestly didn’t think was possible until I read this. I would love to know what happened there the next time the holidays rolled around!

  1. Dina*

    One time, #2 happened in my office. We were searching the vents, checking in potted plants, the works.

    Then another colleague stepped in for a look and said, “Dina, is that an avocado behind that document holder on your desk?”

    It was. The mouldy horrible avocado was the source of our misery. I never lived it down.

    1. Lisa*

      I read your “One time, #2 happened in my office” as referring to a different stinky substance and did a double-take…

      1. Bo Peep*

        Potatoes smell exactly like fried fish that has started rotting. Happened to me years ago and then again recently, and I somehow forgot about the first time, possibly because the potatoes had only been in the house for like a week. After a few days of Mysterious Fried Rot it finally clicked and I said “oh… I think I know what it is…” and my poor husband picked up the bag, almost threw up, and tossed the entire bag outside the front door and slammed it shut just to be away from the fishtatoes.

    2. Lola*

      The worst stink to ever come from the work fridge was black beans in a tupperware container. I had no idea they could smell that bad.

      1. Goldfeesh*

        Years ago my mom was soaking navy beans for ham and beans and left them soaking too long. It smelled exactly like someone recently got sick in the kitchen. It was vile.

      2. Rainy*

        For some reason I always end up with an office near the fridge, and I’m VERY sensitive to the smell of food going off, so it is I, the Scourge of Carpa–I mean, the work fridge. I try to save people’s containers whenever possible, but there have been several times where I’ve looked at the thriving civilization happening in a container and thrown the whole thing away without opening it because the only thing reining in the stench was that it was still sealed. Sorry about your glass container, friendo, but that stench is never coming out of the plastic lid and I’m not subjecting myself to what will happen if I open it.

  2. kalli*

    #4 – If that happened to me, I would be buying yarn and “planning” to make something for someone else. You know, eventually.

    It’s not a thank you gift if it’s CSR.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      I support this idea. Yarn or fabric shopping is definitely self care for me. The actual making will get done after the 56289 other projects on my list.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yes! It’s basically adding a social media campaign to everyone’s to-do list. This makes me cross in the same way that “would you like to donate to charity at checkout [and help us meet out tax-write-off goals]” does. Companies trying to use people’s kindness and generosity for completely cynical business purposes is so gross.

      1. Katie A*

        As an FYI, companies can’t write off those donations.

        If they donate their own money, like if they match your donation, they can write that off. But if it’s just you donating your money and they just facilitate it, they can’t write that off since it isn’t their money. You could claim it if you wanted, but they can’t. At least that’s how it is in the US.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yes, the company wants to buy a social media “look what good we’re doing!” opportunity.

        1. Rainy*

          I am allergic to those corporate demands to round up to charity, because it’s just them trying to take credit for *my* donation!

          Donate to charity yourself, Giant MegaCorp, and leave me out of it.

    1. amoeba*

      Yup, yup, yup. Or do something you’d do anything (like, I don’t know, order or make a nice dinner) and frame it as “made this for husband”. Done. Doesn’t matter if he doesn’t actually care about it and is just happy with your company!
      I do like the donation idea as well though, if it’s something you would’ve liked to do anyway.

    2. Antilles*

      Alternatively, just play for time on the tight deadline (2 days???) because it’s rather unlikely they’ll chase you down about it after a little time passes. Oh, I haven’t even thought about it yet, just a crazy time of year with our end of year reporting, I’ll figure something out in January.

      Right now they might be making a big deal of it, but if you can hold out for even a couple months, they’ll probably be done and over with their We Give Back social media campaign.

    3. Cinnamon Boo*

      Yeah, it’s an interesting “listen to this story of what my company wanted me to do.” but not something you need advice on. Just don’t do it and lie about it. lol.

  3. Blueberri Queen*

    Number 2, perhaps multiple of you could email management and ask for a script to explain the decaying animal smells to customers and external stakeholders.

    1. WellRed*

      Lots of offices don’t have external visitors though. I wonder if there’s any sort of building manageMent?

  4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (recommended friend to company and he’s messing up) – I think either the supervisor blames OP for having introduced the friend, or hopes OP can “have a word” with the friend to get him to shape up.

    I wonder why the friend was “tossed” into an unsuitable role. Does that mean OP recommended him for one role (that he’d be more suited to) but he was placed in a different one? If so, I wonder if the supervisor knows that (if they weren’t the hiring manager as such). I’ve been in the position of “supervisor who gets given an employee who isn’t suitable through no fault of their own” and it’s miserable all round.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        OP knows their employer, and it’s possible that they’ve seen it happen before. (I know I have at past employers.)

        1. Ray Gillette*

          We know that the company put a new hire without much experience in a position where he was able to make an expensive mistake. It took more than LW’s friend screwing up to allow that to happen.

          1. JubJubTheIguana*

            True, but LW may have misrepresented his level of experience, and the fired employee may not be being honest when he claims that his mistakes are someone else’s fault.

            Look how many letters Alison has received from managers frustrated because incompetent or lazy employees try to cover their own errors by pretending they’d not been shown how or had never been trained. “I’ve shown my new employee how to do this simple task 10 times and they still refuse and claim not to know how” is a really common problem here.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      In the OP’s shoes, I would be pretty direct that this is inappropriate to be having this conversation with me, and in any case, that I had referred Friend for X role and they were moved into Y role after they were hired. Perhaps his manager needs to consider whether they are providing Friend with the training they need to do the role he is in? How would they feel if they were tossed into the deep end of something they hadn’t planned to take on?

      That might do your friend some good and make the point that your referral was for your friend being in a different role entirely.

    2. JubJubTheIguana*

      Yeah, I was really surprised by this one.

      There’s an obvious contradiction between “he was tossed into a job he wasn’t qualified for” and “I’m the one who recommended him for that job” — why on earth would you go out of your way to expressly say that someone is right for a particular job if they’re very obviously not in fact right for it?

      Maybe the reason they hired this “unqualified” person and gave him no training is because LW gave them a false impression of his abilities by giving a factually inaccurate recommendation?

      It’s very very normal to say “the information you gave us was bad”, it means… “don’t do it again!” They probably also want to warn the LW that they’re going to be going against her hiring recommendations.

      1. Rainy*

        LW says they recommended him for A job, not necessarily THAT job. I interpreted the letter as saying that LW recommended him for a job, the job was in an area of their company that they don’t work in, and the job he ended up getting hired for was one that he wasn’t qualified or trained for and that he didn’t receive any training or supervision. I can think of a few possibilities here, one of which is that the friend was hired for a bait’n’switch job or for a different job than the one LW thought they were recommending him for (or maybe than Friend thought he was applying for). I don’t think we need to assume that the LW knowingly recommended Friend for a job they knew he couldn’t do.

    1. Emmy Noether*

      Hah, yeah, I read #1 and was just thinking that I am lucky that I’m not easily grossed out or put off my lunch (I don’t actively want to talk about childbirth, but I also wouldn’t mind if others wanted to have that conversation). Then I read #2… and that would definitely do it.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’d much rather deal with #1 (even as someone who doesn’t have children by choice), because at least you could eat alone to avoid it, whereas the nasty smells in letter 2 are inescapable.

        However, the colleagues in letter 1 would probably eventually make me snap and say “Congratulations, you’ve successfully convinced me to never have children! No further details of childbirth are necessary.”

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I have given birth and don’t plan on doing it again, so that’s probably why I wouldn’t mind.

          I do think it’s unkind to tell birth horror stories to currently pregnant women – it’s just scary and not actually helpful, because every birth is different anyway, and a birth preparation course by a professional will be much more useful and accurate. Telling it to people who may or may not plan on giving birth ever is also kind of boring.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I was thinking that the OP could frame it not just as being unpleasant for her but also unhelpful for the currently pregnant women in the office.

          2. Turquoisecow*

            Not even currently pregnant, but planning on becoming pregnant in the future. Trust me, the last thing I needed to hear when I was thinking about having a kid, trying to conceive, or beginning the IVF process was stories about pregnancies gone wrong or even just miserable labors. (Now that I have a kid I’m just like “thank god I didn’t experience that!” and it wouldn’t bother me as much, but I’d still like it to be more of an occasional than everyday thing).

          3. Daisy-dog*

            I have a weird fascination with reading birth stories from various creators/writers that I follow online. But I don’t actually know those people or have to work with them. I am also not pregnant.

            Hopefully not all of the stories are “horror” stories because I agree, that’s awful to do to someone who will be giving birth in the near future.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              Well, the ones that aren’t horror are kind of short and boring (which is what everyone *wishes* their labor was like).

              The stories about what people will try to induce labor when they over carry, and other late pregnancy shenanigans can be kind of funny and not horrible, but birth itself… short and boring is definitely the ideal.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, absolutely.

        That said, I only talked about childbirth and poop consistency with my mommy friends who had kids who were about the same age as my son. But I’d definitely rather listen to others talking about their childbirth experiences at work than attempt to work in an office that smelled like a corpse…

    2. Wilma Flinstone*

      I once worked in a place where the lunch room was a Daily Episiotomy Discussion. I don’t know why, but it was every day! Every Day! I guess the women there felt comradeship in the conversation, because childbirth is kind of a socioeconomic equalizer?

      I found it as distasteful as LW1 did; I ate out most days. Once around that block is enough. 5 days a week is more than I need.

      1. bamcheeks*

        This blows my mind! Like, I needed to have that conversation half a dozen times with other new-parent and ante-natal group friends over the immediately six months when I was still processing the birth— that’s pretty normal, I think. But years later? Every day? At WORK??!

        1. Rebecca*

          My middle child was born on the couch and delivered by paramedics because I couldn’t make it to the hospital. (Rapid onset labor is a thing.) I mentioned it to an acquaintance once in a different context – we were talking about birth certificates and my son’s says “home birth not intended” in the “hospital” box.

          Said acquaintance now feels the need to tell everyone that my son was born on the couch and wants me to retell the story about it. It wasn’t traumatic, it was ironically the easiest delivery and I have 3 kids. But I really don’t like telling the story, because it gets old and isn’t really a big deal. It makes me very uncomfortable, and I hate having to keep changing the subject.

  5. Peter*

    I don’t see any harm in companies occasionally saying to staff “Do follow our LinkedIn page. George is working hard on that and it’s a nice resource for the company!”.

    But insisting staff post on social media about work crosses a line, especially as more evidence emerges that social media usage often wastes hours a day and damages mental health. What is someone without social media supposed to do? Setup an account with 0 followers and start rambling?

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this. I can’t with the employers demanding employees to use their personal social media to promote their employer.

      I’m not on social media so the issue doesn’t come up for me, thankfully.

    2. J. Quadrifrons*

      Not only that, but you know these are the same companies where you’d get in trouble for posting anything on your personal social media account that “reflects badly on the company” (even though it has nothing to do with them at all).

      There’s a reason I don’t use my legal name on social media or tell my employers what my account is called.

    3. Umami*

      I’m assuming they wanted the post on the company’s social media. I still wouldn’t do it, though, just by saying, oh, I don’t do social media, but thanks for the gift! It’s unlikely the social media team is tracking participation, they usually are just encouraging it. At least, I hope that is the case!

  6. Bilateralrope*

    #4 sounds like a good reason to go through your social media, remove any friends you don’t want to stay in touch with and then make sure nothing is visible to the general public.

  7. ECHM*

    #4: Give your husband the gift of time saved Christmas shopping – buy him the gift you want him to give to you!

    1. learnedthehardway*

      I do that every year. Saves time, money, and I get what I want – which DH would never know about. This year, I’m getting weaving tools.

  8. nyny*

    If I have to donate a gift the company gives to me, it is not a gift to me. This is obnoxious. And I do not give anyone at work access to my social media.

  9. Earlk*

    I actually like the idea of #4 if it wasn’t given at a busy time with a deadline but was instead a “treat your team” incentive. Like grabbing the entire team coffee or a preferred drink on the companies money at a time that suits them. The execution was just poor.

    1. Jackalope*

      The thing that makes it a bad idea for me is the requirement (or strong suggestion) to post it on social media. Giving out gift cards to benefit your staff, great idea. Giving out gift cards so your staff can benefit each other, maybe a bit annoying but sure. Giving out gift cards so your staff are required to do something nice “for the community” and then tag you on social media as an awesome boss for giving them this “opportunity”, heck no. Many people do not want to promote their employers on their social media, and it’s not an appropriate thing to ask.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      If the company wants the team to have a treat, then the company can do it. What they did was outsource it to the actual team — and then expected them to do the work of promoting it too.

      This would be bad any time of the year. Quite frankly, if the company has the time to check that everyone followed the rules, then they have time to do some of the work that is killing everyone.

      I’d just spend it on what I want when I want, they already gave me the card, what are they are going to do? Take it back?

      1. Katie A*

        The social media part is obnoxious, but outside of that, it’s a good thing for companies to pay for things like team lunches or something for the break room. If it were just “here’s money, spend it on your team!” that would be nice and praiseworthy, not an imposition.

  10. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Yep and they’re not really getting $50 each anyway — it’s $50 – their tax rate – the time required to document this for social media.

    I’d suggest pooling the after-tax amounts to get healthy meals delivered during busy season, and then post two or three “tired dedicated employees with food” snapshots to the employer’s LinkedIn page. That’s social right?

  11. K*

    I bet the space in #2 is leased. I’m sure the person who actually owns the building would like to know about the dead animals and would probably fix it without OP or their manager having to do anything.

  12. Jay*

    Okay, #2? I’ve worked in places where the occasional dead animal is just a standard occupational hazard.
    The only thing that has ever worked, even temporarily, is incense sticks.
    Keep one burning someplace nearby and you will be able to breath again.
    You are basically lighting a giant match that stays lit for a long time.
    I know your boss will hate it, but, at this point, do you really care what he thinks?
    This is just to buy you time to find a new, non corpse-infused job.
    Because there is no way that someone who is willing to do THAT to you is not willing to do ANYTHING to you if they see fit.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Well, dead animal smell may be nauseating but incense is migraine-inducing! I’ll take the gross smell over a migraine…but yeah not being there at all sounds like the best plan.

  13. Bast*

    Buy something for yourself from a small business and frame it as “helping to support our local small businesses.” And actually, posting a picture of what you got and the business could actually boost business. I have went out of my way to try something or somewhere recommended by others. It’s also not a lie, AND you also aren’t forced to strong arm an unwilling spouse, friend, family member, or stranger into participating.

  14. LifeBeforeCorona*

    My mother who was terrible at gift giving (candy to a diabetic) once gave me $5 bills. I put them in my pocket and gave one to every homeless person I saw until they were gone. You can give it to a shelter or a group that buys gifts for kids or seniors.

  15. anomnom*

    Wow, letter writer #4 – I didn’t think any “appreciation” gift was more insulting than a potluck but here you are.

    Spend it on yourself. Discuss yourself in the third person if/when you post, maybe even with a nickname.

  16. Lainey L. L-C*

    #4. – “I took the money to do X for my mental health, so I can be a better teammate and employee. You’re welcome.”
    “I took the money and went to therapy so I could cry there instead of in the bathroom at work, thus freeing up a stall for all of you. You’re welcome.”

  17. roann*

    I know it’s an old letter so this is probably moot at this point, but there is an entire industry for removing animals from crawlspaces and then making sure said crawlspaces are rendered inaccessible to additional animals! Of course there are ways to prevent it, it’s a whole thing!

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I know Alison said this was probably not an OSHA violation but I can’t imagine that living witht he stink of a dead animal (and everything ath accompanies that) for a couple weeks every year isn’t a health and safety violation. There’s gotta be something about making sure the air isn’t hazardous to breathe.

  18. Yup!*

    I mean, I do get why #1 is grossed out, and perhaps it isn’t lunch-table talk, but it would also be nice to normalize women’s bodies and how they work, including birth. I grew up in an era where we did not talk about menstruation, especially not in public, and girls and women performed our tasks in secrecy with the fear of being outed (for what, carrying a tampon to the bathroom?) and men made grossed-out noises if and when the subject came up. It was highly taboo.

    So yeah. Maybe not lunch-table talk, but the “gross me out” take on discussions about women’s bodies is as problematic today as whispering about periods was 30 years ago. We can and should do better.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Some people are grossed out by discussing medical conditions — normal or not.
      I don’t want to hear about someone’s grisly surgery while I am eating. Doesn’t mean its shameful or a stigmatizing. Just means that mentally I would not be able to eat because I would be picturing the surgery.

    2. sam_i_am*

      Tokophobia, whether “innate” or due to traumatic birth experience, is common enough that it makes a good case for not discussing childbirth unless everyone in the conversation consents to that talk. I’m personally extremely afraid of pregnancy, and a surprise conversation about childbirth would affect me for a while after the conversation.

      Not wanting to talk about childbirth isn’t even comparable to stigma around menstruation, it’s a totally different beast.

      1. Observer*

        Not wanting to talk about childbirth isn’t even comparable to stigma around menstruation, it’s a totally different beast.


        The difference between these discussions and taking your pad or tampon to the bathroom with no need to “sneak” it, is the same as taking some Tucks to the bathroom vs having a full on discussion over lunch about your hemorrhoids.

    3. Cardboard Marmalade*

      I feel sympathy for the LW not being able to handle listening to this sort of thing while trying to eat, but I agree that the impact of pregnancy on people’s bodies should be more normalized as common knowledge. In my youth I had a doctor deny me birth control with the excuse that pregnancy wasn’t actually that dangerous because “women’s bodies are designed for it”, and I didn’t have the chutzpah at the time to tell him that I already knew one woman with a cracked pelvis and another who’d almost died from pre-eclampsia. I can’t help but feel like if these things were more acceptable to talk about routinely, a) he wouldn’t have been so maddeningly ignorant, and b) I would’ve felt more comfortable standing up to him.

      1. Yup!*

        Exactly. My point isn’t that this should be appropriate lunch-table talk, but rather that speaking about how women’s bodies work has long been taboo, to the detriment–and often the death–of women. We need to normalize talking about how our bodies function instead of classifying it as “gross.” If people are squeamish hearing about operations, or have trauma around certain bodily functions, that needs to be taken into consideration, of course. But this isn’t what the OP has an issue with. They are simply “grossed out,” and that label, as well as the continued narrative that talk about birth is inappropriate, is really problematic.

        1. Fiona Orange*

          Some people are really squeamish, and would prefer not to hear any details about medical procedures, especially during lunch. I am such a person. What you are referring to is another issue entirely.

          1. Cyndi*

            I don’t consider myself especially squeamish! I put anatomical illustration and body horror art on my walls at home, for fun! And I still don’t think most people want to hear the squishy details of people’s medical anything over lunch. Or at work generally, unless it’s work-related. I don’t think that’s necessarily stigmatizing or shaming at all–it’s just not the time. LW1’s coworkers could have made a group text or something to discuss this stuff without oversharing to everyone in earshot.

      2. Observer*

        I can’t help but feel like if these things were more acceptable to talk about routinely, a) he wouldn’t have been so maddeningly ignorant,

        Nope. Doctors know perfectly well what the dangers of pregnancy are! Any doctor whose whole understanding of a whole filed comes from that kind of source should not be practicing!

        They do NOT need this kind of social chit chat to know better. They spend quite a bit of time is school and afterwards in their training dealing with all of this.

        Which is to say that whatever the reason your doctor refused to help you out with BC, he was absolutely committing malpractice.

    4. Observer*

      but it would also be nice to normalize women’s bodies and how they work, including birth.

      No. This is not about normalizing women’s bodies and how they work. Any more than constant discussions of diapers or adult use of the toilet. All of this is *normal* but we still expect that meals will not be ongoing discussions of the matter.

      Maybe not lunch-table talk, but the “gross me out” take on discussions about women’s bodies is as problematic today as whispering about periods was 30 years ago. We can and should do better.

      And this is the *perfect* way to keep that kind of thing going. Because what’s under discussion is NOT “women’s bodies”. And pushing that narrative in this kind of context is at best a distraction.

      1. duinath*

        to me this topic most reminds me of the time my uncle was telling a story about getting his ears cleaned at a semi-formal dinner and i cut him off with “i’m still eating!” before he could describe what was cleaned out of his ears.

        many things are normal without being appropriate for meal times, and many things are normal while still being fully tmi. i had a difficult labour = totally fine to say at work. i am on my period = totally fine to say at work (if it isn’t it fucking should be). the details of both of these situations should be kept to your loved ones or the specially interested. unfortunately it sounds like lw has ended up at the specially interested lunch table and they are not picking up what lw is putting down.

        (also i think a lot of afab people would prefer childbirth was less normalized, not more. not all of us want it, and the expectation that we should know all about it is off putting. it’s not relevant to my situation. it’s not gonna be. can i just eat my waffle in peace.)

        1. Observer*

          i had a difficult labour = totally fine to say at work. i am on my period = totally fine to say at work (if it isn’t it fucking should be). the details of both of these situations should be kept to your loved ones or the specially interested.

          Exactly. The stuff you refer to in bolded part is what should be “normalized” in a workplace setting. Not the other details.

    5. Critical Rolls*

      There are a couple of considerations here. First, we can normalize bodily functions in a general way without getting into specifics. For example, we can talk about the need for bathroom breaks without discussing the specifics of our bowel movements. Second, childbirth is probably more analogous to a surgery than to menstruation. It’s perfectly fine to talk about an appendectomy, but it’s not unreasonable for people to be uncomfortable hearing about how crusty your incision got. Third, childbirth is traumatic for many women for a variety of reasons. So it’s actually in a category of “approach with caution” for me because I don’t know if I’m talking to someone whose childbirth was the worst experience of their adult life.

    6. Juicebox Hero*

      I get where you’re coming from, but I really don’t want to hear about anyone’s bodily fluids or underpants parts regardless of gender.

      I fully support not stigmatizing menstruation – I remember getting caught by surprise and treated like Swamp Thing because I wound up with a stain on my pants and those memories still hurt. No one’s ashamed to get a sinus infection or stomach bug. Periods are just an organ doing what it does while making the whole rest of you feel like crap.

      Ditto childbirth. It’s a (usually) wonderful and eagerly anticipated event, but it comes along with a lot of psysical discomfort and mental baggage for the birth parent and there’s no need to hide it or feel ashamed of it.

      But the second I hear about snot, clots, trots, or episiotomies, I’m going to run screaming from the table.

      1. Umami*

        Agreed. People have different levels of tolerance for these types of discussions. I recall being a young 20-something when my BF was pregnant, and those conversations from other women at work were framed as horror stories with a side of one-upsmanship. It’s different to normalize biological processes, it’s quite another to talk about specific experiences and assume everyone wants to hear the gory details (which I remind my nurse husband of every time he wants to talk specifics about his job, just … no).

        1. jellied brains*

          God the one upmanship (upwomanship?) over who had the worst pregnancy.

          My mom used to tell me about how when I was in preschool, some of the moms would try to out suffer one another (“I was in labor with Jimmy for 12 hours!” “Well I was bed ridden from month 3 with Sally and then nearly DIED giving birth” etc etc)

          Inevitably when they all looked to my mom for her tale of suffering and woe, she’d just shrug. “I slept through most of my contractions and almost gave birth in the car. So easy!”

          People will turn anything into a contest.

          (& Yes my mom’s pain tolerance is insane. She’s walked off broken bones not realizing they were broken)

    7. Olive*

      It’s not all or nothing.

      There are a lot of subjects that should be normalized between family, friends, and voluntary listeners that aren’t good subjects for work. Being able to ask “do you have a tampon I can use” or include “I had a c-section” in a summarized birth story are appropriate things to mention at work that don’t involve in depth medical details.

    8. AnonORama*

      Definitely agree that women’s bodies shouldn’t be mysterious and stigmatized. That said, a place where people are eating is not the place for ANY medical/dental/surgical discussion — male, female, nonbinary, or related to your pets! Many things that might be interesting or helpful at other times are gross at lunch.

      1. Observer*

        a place where people are eating is not the place for ANY medical/dental/surgical discussion

        Such a simple rule. And so true!

  19. Pink Candyfloss*

    Most places in the US have a local food bank or social services that support the surrounding area and they ALWAYS need gift cards. What a rotten thing for your employer to do, to put that onus on you, but my first thought would be just to hand over the GC to our town social services food pantry and call it a day.

  20. Rondeaux*

    Based on the wording in the letter it doesn’t sound like posting the gift on social media was mandatory. Could you just not do it if you don’t want to?

    I don’t have a huge problem if it’s just a suggestion

    1. Fiona Orange*

      Good point. I wonder what they would do if someone didn’t have social media. It’s almost a given nowadays that everyone has social media, but there are those of us who don’t for various reasons.

  21. 1-800-BrownCow*

    I have mixed feelings on LW#1. While I understand if someone doesn’t want to hear certain subjects while eating lunch (I’m married to a medic, he knows not to share the details of certain EMS calls with me during dinner), I also would love to work with people who “normalize” and discuss subjects that were taboo in the past. And as a mom of 3 kids, I do wish I had heard those stories before I had my first child because HOLY CRAP was I not prepared. And I did a lot of reading up on childbirth and all that, but for some reason, most of those resources only focused on the “miracle” portion and not everything else. To hear the real stories from women who’d been through it are invaluable.

    Honestly, there are times when something is inappropriate to talk about in a group when no one wants to hear it. But if LW is the only one out of the group, it’s on them to change their situation, not request these women to stop normalizing women’s bodies and what they go through in childbirth (or menstruation or perimenopause/menopause, etc).

    1. Olive*

      Why is the LW solely responsible for changing their situation when it’s your spouse’s responsibility to respect your wishes to not share medical details you find disturbing during your dinner?

    2. Observer*

      <I.But if LW is the only one out of the group, it’s on them to change their situation, not request these women to stop normalizing women’s bodies and what they go through in childbirth (or menstruation or perimenopause/menopause, etc).

      No. Not at all. For one thing, you have no idea who else is being made uncomfortable. Even if the OP is the only one who is childless, that doesn’t mean that others are ok with these conversations.

      Secondly, childbirth is NOT the same as menstruation, menopause etc. But also, even while it’s a good thing to normalize these things, the idea of discussing either of them in detail in a group *meal* setting is gross. I don’t want to know how much you bleed, how much clotting you get, what else comes out, etc. ESPECIALLY not when I’m trying to eat. It’s just waaay too much.

    3. Yup!*

      This is such an important point. As a new mother, I felt so alone and isolated because I wasn’t living the “isn’t this wonderful!” experience that I felt everyone else was enjoying. How I wish we had honest, difficult conversations about how traumatic birth can be, and how much being a new mother, left alone all day, every day, can wreak utter havoc on your mental health, all while trying to heal your newly broken body on 0 sleep.

      Again, I totally get how many people can’t participate in these conversations, and lunch may not be the time to engage in them. But they are not “gross” and we need to normalize conversations about women–because we have been silenced for centuries.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I don’t know if this exists where you are, but I highly recommend attending a perineal reeducation class after birth. Very honest discussions, led by someone knowledgeable, and the appropriate forum for them.

      2. Jam on Toast*

        I absolutely agree with sharing details and creating a community to normalize female bodily experiences. They’ve been hidden and stigmatized too long. So I am always open when expectant friends ask me about my experiences, and believe me, I got asked a lot because I was the first of my peers to have kids by a mile. I shared the good, the gross, and the lovely openly and honestly, because I want anyone who goes through the ‘so-you’re-growing-another-human-inside-you’ rollercoaster to feel as well-supported and prepared as possible.

        But at work, I stick to complaining about the photocopier, and not about the visceral experience of throwing up six times a day for five months straight or letting my colleagues know exactly what it feels like to push a 10lb 2oz human out of my body without an epidural.

        Time and place, it’s always about time and place!

      3. Critical Rolls*

        Work is not the place for this! This is not a need someone’s coworkers should be filling, not least because they are not qualified to do so! This is far too personal on emotional and medical levels. It is wildly inappropriate to bring discussions of birth trauma to the breakroom.

    4. Emmy Noether*

      I have had pretty much the opposite experience – I found individual women’s stories very unhelpful during pregnancy and as preparation for childbirth. They had either very personal, specific trauma or (claimed to) have had an easy breezy birth.
      On the other hand, I attended a very good preparation class by a midwife that was knowledgeable, no-nonsense and had the medical training and research resources to back up what she told us. My midwife, OBGYN, and the hospital staff were also good resources for me. There are also books like the one by Emily Oster that are based on research. It is true that there’s a lot of bullcrap floating around on the internet, I pretty much stopped reading/believing any of that.

    5. nope!*

      No, graphic descriptions of birth are not work safe conversations. This attempt to hint that the LW is somehow anti woman or anti feminist is pathetic.

    6. anon for this*

      I am all for women being supportive of other women during tough times – but again, this is a workplace blog, and we’re talking about what is/is not appropriate breakroom talk.

      There are great channels for getting these needs met – doctors, family, friends, mommy groups, birth classes, doulas, midwives, and so on and so on.

      Jane from Accounting is not on that list, and neither am I, your hapless co-worker, who has to listen to all this while trying to eat her leftover pasta in red sauce.

    7. GythaOgden*

      There’s a time and a place for normalising it though. Normalisation doesn’t have to mean you talk about everything everywhere with everyone, just like being body positive doesn’t mean you streak across a football, cricket or other pitch, or being religious in private doesn’t mean you evangelise at work.

      There’s a good social reason why the ‘Not while I’m eating’ meme exists. I watched a video of two drunk guys cooking and eating a 25 year old microwave cake and spitting it out after one bite, and I must admit I made macaroni cheese with a cheesy crumb topping and could not get the guys’ streusel out of my mind.

      Sometimes, as they say, a cigar is just a cigar. When people feel disgusted by something, they’re not always making an unexamined social judgement. They just don’t want to think about it at that precise point in time.

      1. Emily Byrd Starr*

        Religion is a really good analogy! A lot of people don’t feel comfortable talking about religious beliefs with their co-workers, but that doesn’t mean they want to stifle their co-workers’ freedom to observe their faith.

        1. GythaOgden*

          It also helps to reassure OP that we’re not some covert misogynists hiding behind a fig leaf of religious belief disagreeing with her desire to normalise women’s bodies, but just the time/place/consent of others over where it’s being discussed.

          And believe me, as autistic and thus a chronic oversharer, I’ve learnt this the hard way, including at two funerals where my dad had to rein me in both times. The funeral thing chafed a bit for a while — why shouldn’t I use the time to connect with some other very interesting and smart people? — until I was actually burying my own loved ones. What comes around goes around — I finally understood why my antics might have been construed as insensitive even though it would have been a perfectly valid topic of debate in another social context, like, say, the Oxford Union or a seminary class.

          We totally get the stigma and why it needs to be eliminated. But there are places where it’s relevant and an agreed topic of discussion, and places where it just comes across as you not being able to read the room properly. And there are many people here who have issues with childbirth, fertility or other things that go on with our imperfect bodies that can be quite undignified even if you want to end the stigma surrounding them, and we’re always asking people to tread lightly in other contexts and be kind. This is one of those times when the activism should possibly be put to one side for a moment in favour of sensitivity and grace towards others.

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I agree with you so hard that this needs to be normalized! And so does talking about why women continue to endure painful sex! And endometriosis. And sexism in medicine. And miscarriages. And all the ways those things get wilder the more marginalized identities you add.

      Just not at work where I can’t get away from it.

      It’s a consent thing for me.

  22. Ess Ess*

    #4 – I would have simply ignored the note and used it when you had a chance after the deadline. If anyone at work approached you about not posting on social media, be honest and tell them that you had no ability to fit this into your busy work deadlines and that it was not appreciated to have more work dumped on you during the busy time.

  23. GarbageMonster*

    In regards to corpse (animals not people)smells at work–I worked at a 10-story building (it was a city college) that had facilities designed for a student body of about 3k– by the time I was working there we had about 17k students enrolled. Needless to say our elevators were overtaxed and if staff didn’t want to hike up 8 flights of stairs or spend 20 minutes fighting through a throng of people trying to cram onto an elevator 20 people at a time, the only option was the freight elevator. At some point something died in a space that shared air with that hallway (or else facilities was dumping the bodies of all the various vermin they trapped in the building in a specific indoor dumpster and just stopped having that dumpster emptied). Whatever was going on, the smell was permiating the hallway leading to the freight elevator and the nearby offices to the point where people were vomiting on reaction to the stench. It was eye watering -level bad and getting worse every day. When we complained to facilities they said they couldn’t smell anything and nothing they were responsible for was causing it, so it wasn’t a problem. After more complaining they threw some urinal cakes in the hall to act as air fresheners (!?!?). Despite that odor not clearly falling under an OSHA guideline, someone filed a complaint, because one day a sign from OSHA went up in the hallway saying that an issue had been reported and if the smell issue wasn’t resolved folks could call a number and they’d send investigators out (this was one of those “required by law to post for X-number of days” type signs). Wouldn’t you know– within HOURS of the sign going up the source of the smell (that maintenance/facilities said we were imagining and denied any knowledge of or power over) had been dealt with. I assume there was some disgusting task or disposal fee involved that nobody wanted to claim responsibility for, but they sure figured it out quick when it looked like OSHA had created a case number and was poised to step in (who knew how many OSHA violations they already had). This workplace was disfunctional and toxic in a LOT of ways, but this was just one particularly blunt example of how things tended to go. FWIW- there were things I truly loved about that job but leaving that place was the best career move I ever made.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Not surprised OSHA got involved!

      Decaying animals sounds like a safety concern. The stink can make people feel physically ill! Further, it’s going to attract disease-carrying vermin and pests.

  24. lareesa*

    LW1, as someone who had a traumatic birth, I also hate hearing birth stories and I do not understand people’s obsession with discussing them AT WORK. there are so many reasons not to. it could be triggering to people like me, it can be scary if you are pregnant, it’s gross to a lot of people, and you wouldn’t discuss the gory details of any other medical event in the break room during lunch. blech. I know this letter is old but for others in his situation, I think you’ll find if you speak up that you’re not the only one who doesn’t want to keep having this conversation.

    1. Observer*

      and you wouldn’t discuss the gory details of any other medical event in the break room during lunch. blech


      I’m at an age where colonoscopies for me and my husband should be routine. But I generally don’t discuss the details of the prep randomly at work, because eww. You know when I *did* bring it up? When there was a whole lot of discussion about extra monitoring / documentation of sick days on Friday and Monday. I pointed out that we should expect *legitimate* higher use of those days, and explained to our HR person (who was very good, fortunately) that we *want* staff to schedule anything like a colonoscopy for Monday, so they could do the prep on Sunday instead of having to take 2 days off, or be pretty useless the day prior. And even there, I didn’t need to get into that much detail!

    2. jellied brains*

      Personally I find it triggers my dysphoria real bad and then there’s the inevitable “oh jellied, you’re AFAB, when are you going to have kids?”

  25. Jam on Toast*

    Honestly, do the people oversharing their delivery experiences not have a crappy photocopier or an unreliable supplier or some old software to complain about like everyone else’s workplace? I’ve carried and delivered two lumpy, goopy humans myself and I wouldn’t discuss the nitty-gritty details with my co-workers. Ever. Privately, with an expectant friend, who explicitly asks about my delivery or pregnancy experiences? Sure. Then I’m happy to share any details they ask for, because I want them to feel prepared and supported, and hopefully let them learn from the big and little things that I struggled with when I was a pregnant/delivering/post-partum person.

    1. lareesa*

      yup. i am happy to talk to friends about this kind of stuff, but I don’t understand discussing it at work. I have had it come up in work situations and I’m always baffled (I do work in public health, so majority female and more “open” about traditionally taboo topics) but still, not the vibe for me.

  26. pally*

    #2: Perhaps switching offices with boss during “stink” season will get some action.
    I don’t know how many are affected by this smell. Surely the boss is up to demonstrating how much of a non-issue working with the stench presents and be willing to switch with all of you.

  27. DannyG*

    Concerning the gift cards. I was on the board of the local Domestic Violence shelter. They are always appreciative of such as so many of our clients arrive with just the clothes on their backs, if that. I’ve made many a midnight run to get necessities for a new admission. Having a card that can be used for that is a godsend.

  28. nope!*

    Man some of y’all are exhausting. Not wanting to hear the gory, intimate details of someone’s pregnancy/birth isn’t an insult to the women of the world.

    1. Head sheep counter*

      Next thing you know your going to claim that my colleagues who I lunch with aren’t my therapists!!! stop it!!!

  29. Head sheep counter*

    The rule about boring non-explicit conversations with colleagues needs to be applied to anything related to the body. You do not know what your colleagues have or have not experienced. The collective we do not need to hear in casual situations things in detail regarding – bodily fluids, surgery, wound care, actions taken at or near a toilet, deeply personal trauma related to… well… anything and/or relationship drama.

    I thought… this was accepted common sense? Now, if your work sponsors employee groups and those groups cover more intimate things… fantastic (as long as the group isn’t titled “Knitting Baby Caps for Charity” whilst actually being rips and tears acquired during childbirth (and how to knit them back together???) 101.

    Work is not your friendship circle. Somethings need to remain… a mystery… its for the well being of the community (at work).

  30. Starfox*

    Anybody else think Dead Animal Boss is on some weird power trip? I just feel like he must be getting SOMETHING from forcing his employees to endure a stench that he doesn’t have to deal with but refusing to let them use anything to cover it up because THAT smell bothers him.

  31. Deborah*

    The “give employees money to give away and then boast about it on social media” must be a thing now, because my employer did the same thing. BUT he did it in the context of a work retreat where the time it took to do the giving away was already structured in, and ALSO he gave us money to keep too. It was actually really sweet, “Here’s $100 for you and $100 to give away.”

  32. Marna Nightingale*

    So I’ve mentioned before that I run an animal organisation?
    Sometimes I need to handle animals I don’t have any history on.
    And sometimes I handle animals who are in very bad physical condition. In which case I basically never have any history on them.
    So I’ve done a bunch of research on this stuff.
    (I’m trying to balance being informative and not being distressing here).

    If that isn’t an OHSA violation it needs to be.

    If animals are dying in a spot like that they’re going there to die. One or two times it might be that something went in and got stuck, but most healthy animals won’t go into places they don’t see an exit to.

    If animals are going there to die they’re injured or they’re ill.

    If they’re ill and you’re sharing a building and your airspace to that degree … yes, someone could get sick from whatever they’ve got. It’s not super probable, but it’s possible, both before and after their deaths, via breathing the same air or via, um, contact with scavengers.

    1. GythaOgden*

      That’s interesting. We found a squirrel boneyard in one attic and we assumed they just fell in, and boarded up the hole in the roof. But I didn’t know they’d actually do that only if they were sick or injured.

      Makes me more than glad we got it sorted out. Thank you for the lesson — I’m in facilities myself and I will file that piece of knowledge away for when it comes up again (although I sincerely hope that it doesn’t).

    1. Observer*

      So now the OP has to find someone who can use the card and find a way to post about it on social media without humiliating the giftee?

      I mean, sure, if you get a small windfall that you don’t need, and you know someone who really could use it, that’s a great thing to do. But this is a different kettle of fish. And what’s really galling here is the idea that the company is pretending to be giving people a gift, but what it really is, is an additional task to do. If you want to help people, do it yourself. Don’t slough the work off on others.

  33. jellied brains*

    Something similar to LW 3 happened to me when I was in a crappy retail job. My now ex’s friend couchsurfed with us and ended up getting a job at the same store as me, in the same department. I guess maybe he used my name as a reference because I was a hard worker?

    But this dude was a deadbeat and any time he no-showed or screwed up, management would ask me where he was or what happened. Eventually I got fed up with it and said I wasn’t his mother and not responsible for him, so try asking him next time, not me.

  34. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    I’m so confused by #4 – I guess LW4 is saying that the company would demand the gift card back if you didn’t give it to someone else and offer proof on social media? If it were me, I would have just assumed that the “make someone else’s day and post about it” was a general holiday greeting along the lines of “real gifts don’t come in boxes” and not a mandate (and I would definitely not bother with the social media post, haha).

    And then, even if your spouse’s #1 gift choice is quality time, I don’t see why it matters – it’s not an either/or thing, you can give a gift AND spend time together. Surely you could find some way to spend an extra $50, even if the “gift” ends up just being groceries or something.

    (None of this is meant to criticize LW4, I’m just genuinely baffled by the whole conflict.)

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