I told a coworker I was “disgusted” with her, a wet Speedo on the office door, 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. I told a coworker I was “disgusted” with how she handled something

I recently had an encounter at work when I forgot about a payment, was notified a month later, and rectified it immediately. Someone not involved in the rectification told my indirect supervisor that the issue had not been resolved and actually got me in a lot of trouble. I sent an email to this person and used the words “I am disgusted with the way this was handled,” as this all happened on a Friday night and actually had significant implications on the work I needed to do over the weekend.

I was in the wrong and let emotions get to me. All 20 previous emails were definitely kind and rational, but then I snapped and got emotional. On Monday, I was called into my indirect supervisor’s office, where I was given an extremely patronizing lecture on how I am young and don’t know everything, and based on this one line I was told that I am lovely in person but my email dialogue was that of a complainer.

I admit my email was wrong — 100% — and apologized profusely. I am now just dealing with my own pride and how to shake this impression I left with this supervisor. I have never had a critique like this before. I am definitely taking it on and will be super careful with emails going forwards, but do you have any advice on what I can do now? While I do feel like this has been blown out of proportion, I am honestly just embarrassed and I pride myself on being kind and rational. Is there anyway I can try and change this opinion and move on?

Yeah, telling a coworker that you’re disgusted with her isn’t great, even if you were in the right to be annoyed. I’m also wondering about the 20 emails — that seems like a lot, although of course I don’t know the context.

I can’t tell if your indirect manager’s reaction was over the top or not (if this was more than a five-minute conversation, it probably was, unless this was part of a larger pattern she was concerned about), but in any case, the best thing to do from here is just to be scrupulous about controlling your emotions and not showing anger at coworkers. If you’re feeling heated about something, take that as a sign that you should walk away from the situation and come back to it later when you’re feeling more calm. And avoid using email at all when something feels emotional to you — there’s just too much opportunity for emails to get out of control in situations like this.

When something like this happens, it’s easy to feel like it has forever altered how people see you — but if you replace this impression with lots of impressions of you being professional and pleasant, people will see it as a one-off, not something defining about you. You can get past it!


2. My friend let her teenager fill in on a volunteer job and it didn’t go well

I am the volunteer parent coordinator for a large youth community organization. Every year, we do a large fundraiser that directly benefits the kids. This fundraiser is not directly my job; it involves vendor coordination, paperwork, and financial stuff. My best friend coordinates this fundraiser. Her child has aged out of the program but she has run it for the last few years — it’s a complicated fundraiser. We’re grateful for that.

This year I received the parent-bound paperwork from my friend only hours before it had to be distributed. I asked for it days before that. I didn’t have time to check it, much less revise it in any way, and it’s always been fine in the past. When I did open it (one went to my own child), it was very slap-dash, grammatically incorrect, and uninformative for new parents as to what exactly this fundraiser is. My friend has various health problems, and this is a busy time of year for her small business. She has a lot on her plate, and I always try to remember/help her with that. However, I had to write a more comprehensive explanation of the fundraiser for parents and not only does that make us look a bit disorganized, it has taken time and energy from two people (me and the director) to write/print/distribute it.

My friend told me that she let her 15-year-old daughter write/coordinate this paperwork (said child is not in the organization). Child is slightly disabled, and Friend is always looking for something productive for her to do. Friend was too busy to oversee it, and her daughter stuffed the envelopes. They weren’t technically awful or incorrect, just unprofessional and different from our usual OK-ish standards.

How do I address this so it doesn’t happen next time? I hate to be critical of my wonderful, overburdened friend, and her kid is awesome — we just can’t have teens coordinating this info. For the record, parents usually turn over their volunteer duties once their kids age out, but my friend feels indebted because her older child received scholarship money (there is no reason for her to feel indebted, but she’s a nice person). How can I tell her tell her that if she’s going to do it, SHE must do it? Maybe she should pass on her responsibilities so other parents can learn it? Should I suggest she go back to the previous templates, and include my info letter? I can’t bear to hurt her feelings.

“Friend, it was so nice of Daughter to want to help with this. Unfortunately I think in the future it’s got to be an adult task — it didn’t have all the info we needed and Director and I ended up needing to write up and send a new flyer with more explanation. That’s not Daughter’s fault; it’s a complicated job for a teen! But we need you to be the one to do if it continues to live with you. That said, I know you’re swamped, so if you don’t have time to do this next time, we can definitely enlist another parent to take it on.” You could add, “And if Daughter wants to help, I know we can find some ways she could volunteer. She’d be wonderful to have.”


3. My coworker keeps hanging a wet Speedo on his office door

I work in a department of eight women and one one man, in a company with many more women than men. My male coworker is very good at a his job and has been there many, many years. Since I’ve been there (not as long as him, but still a substantial amount of time) I’ve witnessed a certain habit of his. I guess he swims before work, and when he gets to the office he hangs his Speedo on the front doorknob of his office to dry. I mean, that’s gross, right? It especially bugs me for a few other specific reasons: 1) He hangs it by the crotch. So if I ever go into his office when he’s not there I stand there for a second thinking about how to open the door to avoid touching any leftover Speedo crotch residue. (Using an elbow is usually pretty effective.) 2) He sits right by the kitchen, so anyone on their way to make coffee or get their lunch can see it, and it seems unsanitary to have underwear you swim in next to where people eat. 3) His office is carpeted, so the water just drips right onto the floor, day after day, which doesn’t seem like it can be that good for the carpet?

I’ve brought the issue up to my boss, and she’s laughed it off as it’s the way he is, and the sentiment seems to be the same throughout the rest of my department. There was even one day when a coworker went into his office and accidentally knocked it over and she joked about how she wasn’t going to pick it up. (Ew.) Am I being too squeamish/uptight/germaphobe-y for finding this whole thing unsanitary and creepy? Is there anything else I can do?

I think creepy is overstating it, but I’m with you that it’s gross.

Why not just be direct? As in, “Hey, Bob, it’s gross to see your Speedo hanging on your doorknob. I can’t even open your door without touching the crotch. Can you please hang it somewhere else?”

Beyond that though, if your boss doesn’t care, there’s nothing else that you can do. But I’d start with a clear, direct request to the perpetrator.


4. Wearing sneakers (for a medical reason) at a job interview

I am job searching and have landed a few exciting interviews (thanks in part to your tips). Unfortunately, I recently injured my foot and as a result am forced to wear sneakers for the next several months. I also am wearing a small brace on my injured leg. It’s noticeable, but I think it wouldn’t be clear that it’s a medical brace unless you looked closely, which obviously no one is going to do in an interview. It basically looks like a I’m wearing a sneakers and a high sock on one foot. I think it especially stands out against my nicer interview dresses, despite my attempts to mask it.

Obviously, this is not how I would like to present myself for interviews, but I currently don’t have much of a choice. My question is really if I should say anything to interviewers, and if so, what and what point. So far, since I’m usually seated behind a conference table when the interviewers come in to start the conversation, they only get a chance to see my shoes at the end of the interview when they are walking me to the door (my limp is mostly gone at this point). A couple of times, I’ve seen their eyes flick down to the sneakers for just a second, but not long enough to probably see the brace and it feels weird to say, as an interview is over, “by the way, I’m wearing a brace and sneakers due to a minor injury”. I also don’t want to draw attention to the injury, since my field often requires long hours of standing and I don’t want potential employers to worry that I might not be up to the job.

Any advice for me? I know this seems like a silly thing, but it’s been adding anxiety to an already stressful process.

“Please excuse my shoes; I’m recovering from a minor foot injury.” That’s it! And you can say it at whatever point your shoes are going to become noticeable.


{ 316 comments… read them below }

  1. Alex*

    Honestly? I would say it’s whatever if he was hanging the speedo on the inside of his door, but the OUTSIDE… I understand finding it creepy. It would absolutely ping my wary-radar, as well as it being hung by the crotch. I could perhaps see him thinking it makes a less distinct speedo-silhouette that way as opposed to by the waistband? But I agree that it’s best just to play it casual and direct, and he’s just not very self-aware.

    1. KatieKat*

      Maybe since he mostly sees/touches the inside handle, the outside of the door feels more “out of the way”? Would have to be pretty oblivious, but I’ve learned not to underestimate obliviousness!

      Hanging by the crotch is also slightly weird to me given that it’s in an office, but not THAT weird — maybe he is concerned about it stretching unevenly otherwise (and again, oblivious). As a female swimmer I sometimes hang suits by the crotch to avoid stretching the straps.

      1. triss merigold*

        I do think it’s kind of yucky but my first reaction was to worry more about the dripping. That’s a great way to get mildew and mold! And once you’ve got it, what a nightmare to get rid of it.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          Bare minimum, he needs to put a plastic waste basket under it to catch the drips. He really needs some kind of “silent valet” (the things they hang suits on for people who are posh and organize their clothes the night before) to have inside his office to hang the suit on with the waste basket under it to catch drips.

          It’s weird to put your swim clothes on display for everyone to see who walks by.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Speedos and knickers of similar shape are mostly crotch, though. There are few parts of the garment that won’t touch intimate places.

        TBH, it’s gross and a bit creepy and there are better places to put them but as far as where they’re hanging from on the door…the damage is already done.

          1. JamieLynn*

            And if hung from the hip, it might be possible not to touch it all to open the door. Although, of course, not on the door at all is a much better option.

    2. anne of mean gables*

      Ugh I kind of feel his pain. I bike commute and installed command hooks on my office wall behind where my door shuts to hang my kit – so it’s incredibly discreet until someone comes in for a closed-door meeting. That said, I can’t think of a better option (and I don’t /think/ it smells or otherwise grosses people out? – I hope someone would tell me if it did!!).

      Agreed, though – by the crotch on the outside door knob is…impressively oblivious to the implications.

      1. debbietrash*

        I also bike commute in warmer weather, and I hang my cycling gear up in a little closet/locker next to my desk in my open office space. The closet doesn’t get much airflow, so I tend to leave the door open so I’m not changing into wet cycling gear at the end of the day. My manager told me I needed to be more discreet about having my sports bra hanging in plain site (aka in view when the closet door is open), as there were men in the office who might be uncomfortable seeing my bra. The only people who would see it are my office mates when they go into the storage/supply space behind my desk, to use the printer or access the supply cupboard.
        While my manager’s logic felt … sexist? I eventually accepted that I probably shouldn’t have my undergarments on view in the office, and I attempt to hang it to the back of my little closet space. But I agree that it’s not easy being discreet when hanging up exercise gear in the office.

        1. Observer*

          While my manager’s logic felt … sexist?

          If his whole issue was that the *men* might get uncomfortable, then yes, he was being a sexist idiot.

          I eventually accepted that I probably shouldn’t have my undergarments on view in the office,

          I think that that’s reasonable, regardless of gender. I don’t want to see anyone’s underwear. And unlike biking gear that’s clearly outerwear a speedo (even though it’s technically not underwear) pretty much falls into that category. I would hope than any supervisor would come down at least as hard on speedo guy as he came down on you. More, actually, because your stuff was not quite so blatant and you clearly were trying to be discreet.

        2. boof*

          “men might be uncomfortable seeing a bra” is not good logic, but “A professional environment and attire involves others not seeing your underwear at work, even if you’re not wearing it” seems reasonable / doesn’t act like the problem is the other gender but instead is about adhering to a general standard I think everyone kind of prefers

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            I would say it should be more like

            ““A professional environment and attire involves others not (so openly/obviously) seeing your underwear at work, even if you’re not wearing it”

            I don’t think any/every possibility of seeing a coworkers undergarments (speedo/bras) needs to be eliminated but it should be reasonably avoided.

            In @debbietrash example if the closet is easily viewable by anyone walking by I agree, but if the closet with the door open is only viewable from a single location/spot that is infrequently used by coworkers I don’t think it would be unreasonable for someone to hang their sports bra, speedo to dry.

          2. Vio*

            Of course what he really was saying is “I’m uncomfortable seeing your bra as I’m unable to separate the idea of seeing your underwear from imagining you in your underwear which is very inappropriate on my part and I don’t like feeling like I’m in the wrong so I’m making this your fault and your problem.”

        3. Elitist Semicolon*

          I installed a set of the Command hooks under my desk and hang my bike kit there since there’s some air flow and no one can see under there.

        4. anne of mean gables*

          Ugh, that is frustrating. IMO a sports bra is analogous to a tank top in terms of how uncomfortable it should be too lay eyes on. We’re not talking about a lacy wonderbra here.

          I have a generally pretty okay situation re: bike commuting (multiple large individual bathrooms to change in, private office), but get so salty when there’s any hint of “why are you taking up any space at all with your bike/kit/using the bathroom for 5 minutes to disco shower and change in the morning” discourse. Well GAIL, if this enormous federal facility had any reasonable accommodations for those who get to work not by car, I wouldn’t be changing in the bathroom or leaving my bike (well out of the way) in the lobby. But here we are.

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Nah, I don’t want to see any of my coworkers’ undergarments, no matter how bland and functional they may be.

            1. DK Perler*

              I believe what Anne is saying is that a sports bra (at least the kind one wears as part of their cycling kit) is outerwear.

              1. SpaceySteph*

                Its outerwear the same way a bathing suit is outerwear, except that there’s much less “grossness” about boob residue than crotch residue.

                I think the doorknob is definitely a no-go since it is a high-touch location, but visible yet out of the way seems ok in both the bra and swimsuit case.

              2. Happy meal with extra happy*

                But that’s not a given at all, and I think it’s wild to assume that sports bras are, by default, outerwear.

        5. EC*

          No visible undergarments is entirely reasonable. No one should be seeing anyone’s undergarments in an office setting.

      2. Observer*

        I kind of feel his pain. I bike commute and installed command hooks on my office wall behind where my door shuts to hang my kit – so it’s incredibly discreet until someone comes in for a closed-door meeting.

        Well, this why I do *not* feel his “pain”. There are other options. Sure, no option is perfect, but something like your setup is reasonable. And even someone who is not thrilled to see it is not likely to find it creepy or over the top.

    3. Ex-prof*

      My thought as well: If there’s an external doorknob, there’s an internal one. Only dude in the office chooses to hang his Speedo on the outside one when he must be well aware there’s an inside one = creep.

      And the crotch on the doorknob? That, too seems premeditated. It’s not even the best way to dry the thing.

      He knows damn well what he’s doing.

      A tip for the dude: Pull out the lowest drawer of your desk. Hang the swimsuit there. No need for anyone to see it but you.

      A tip for the coworker: Fling ’em in the bin. But wear gloves.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        And why was the Speedo dripping wet when he hung it up? Why didn’t he at least wring out the water until it no longer dripped? Seriously – how lazy do you have to be to do that?!

        Since this letter was from a few years ago, hopefully by now the swimmer has found a better solution to drying his Speedo than hanging it on the doorknob. But a simple solution would have been to ask his manager if it was okay for him to hang it up in the men’s room – say, on a hanger with clips, with the hook over a restroom stall. Problem solved!

        1. RVA Cat*

          Also where is his towel? Wouldn’t it make a whole lot more sense to just roll it up with the speedo inside it?

      2. Elitist Semicolon*

        I hang bathing suits/other gear by the crotch because, if it’s something I might have to put on again before it can dry completely, damp straps/waistband are more comfortable than a damp crotch. BUT I’d still never hang gear on the outside of my office doorknob – and I’d never hang a swimsuit where a co-worker could see it. Somehow that seems more intimate than hanging up bike tights.

    4. CommanderBanana*

      I can’t believe the “don’t tell coworkers you’re disgusted with them” advice has to contain a caveat for damp Speedos! The office isn’t the men’s locker room. Gross.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      I think it is thoughtless and inconsiderate, but not creepy, per se (not unless the guy is creepy in general).

      Definitely something worth mentioning to the guy, as he’ll likely be horrified to realize this is objectionable.

    6. The Starsong Princess*

      Solve this problem by spending $5. Give Bob some Command hooks and tell him to stop putting his speedo on the door knob. Easy-peasy.

    7. Dot*

      Absolutely seems creepy and purposeful to me. In addition to choosing to hang it on the outside vs. the inside, or to buy a command hook so he can hang it somewhere else, there is also that association of people hanging things on doorknobs to signal that they are “getting busy” inside. I guess I’ve only ever seen that used as a trope in movies/TV, but it definitely made me think of that right away. Whether or not he meant to allude to that connotation of small piece of clothing on doorknob, does he not recognize how it might be perceived?

      Honestly, even if he is not doing it to send a signal/get a reaction, and earnestly doesn’t recognize that it could be sending a creepy signal, it seems like a poor choice. I wouldn’t hang anything dirty or damp on a doorknob someone would be using. Also, if he isn’t doing this as a creepy power play thing, then isn’t he himself creeped out by the idea of random people accidentally touching the crotch of his bathing suit all day? Ew.

      Or, and I suppose this is just as likely, he’s one of those people who truly doesn’t have a conception of personal space and/or hygiene/cleanliness norms. But that also feels like a thing he should work on, as a human who is spending 40 hours a week sharing a space with other people.

      I’m so curious to hear a follow up to this letter.

    8. Happy Penguin*

      I agree and wondered why Speedo guy doesn’t hang it on the inside of his office door? I think he’s totally getting something out of it being in plain sight in an office full of women…what though, I don’t know.

  2. MK*

    #1, I am sorry, but your coworker did not get you into trouble, you very rightly got into trouble for a serious mistake. You forgot a payment and never discovered your mistake; you rectified it “immediately”… after a month had passed. You seem to think it’s all fine since you corrected it after you were notified, but someone wasn’t paid for a month. And you were “disgusted” because someone pointed out your error and didn’t stress that you had corrected it? I notice you don’t say this person lied, so I am guessing you are upset they didn’t make sure the mistake was corrected before going to your boss? Or were you expecting them to never tell your boss? Also, you don’t get to complain about people being patronizing after you screw up and behave unprofessionally on top of that.

    1. prexit*

      Eh, that’s not how I read it.
      I think *after* the OP rectified their error, the coworker told their supervisor that it had not, in fact, been rectified.
      Which made it seem like OP had lied about rectifying it.
      So I can see why OP got frustrated.

      1. Molly Millions*

        It’s also not clear in the letter how serious the initial mistake was. There’s a big difference between say, stiffing a vendor vs. forgetting a software subscription was up for renewal in August.

        Based on the context in the letter (no one noticed for a month; an employee not involved in the transaction was inconvenienced), I’m guessing it’s closer to the latter.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I do wonder about the colleague. It wasn’t clear from the letter, but did the colleague know about the missed payment before OP did, and didn’t tell her? but instead continued with the narrative about the mistake even after OP fixed it. In which case I would be “disgusted” as well (I wouldn’t use the word disgusted in an email, but it would be strongly worded) that they had used knowledge of a mistake to undermine me instead of, y’know, letting me know about it.

        It also points to poor controls / not enough cross checking if a payment can be missed for a month.

        1. Ellen Ripley*

          That’s reaching, there’s nothing in the letter to indicate that and I’m sure if that was the case it would be included in the letter.

        2. WillowSunstar*

          If direct deposit was involved, it’s possible the colleague was checking the bank account on a website or phone app to be sure the funds were deposited.

          I will say though, we should generally be professional in emails and never write anything you don’t want your boss to see. Chances are very good if you write something like that, your boss will end up seeing it.

      3. Spencer Hastings*

        Yes, this. The root comment in this thread is making this LW out to be just like the “my employee wasn’t respectful enough about not getting paid for a month” LW, but that’s not in evidence in this letter.

        It’s not good that the LW made the mistake in the first place. But at the same time, it can also be a bad thing that the coworker was telling others that the mistake wasn’t resolved, after the fact, when it actually had been. I think most people would be pretty upset about that, and might struggle with the professional wording for an email explaining it.

      4. ferrina*

        I’ve been in a similar situation, where there was an issue I had missed, I caught it and fixed it, then a coworker reported that the issue was there (after I had fixed it and it was no longer there).

        This definitely caused confusion and I got bawled out by my manager before I could explain (my manager was a “yell first, ask questions later” type), but I handled it by gently walking everyone through what had happened, how I had resolved it. I took responsibility for my mistakes, talked through what I was doing to ensure that mistake didn’t happen again, and thanked everyone for their concern and for bringing it to my attention. It turned from a “ferrina made a mistake!” situation to “wow, ferrina sure knows how to handle mistakes!”

        LW did not handle this well. It sounds like Coworker acted with good intentions (I think LW would have included it if there was existing animosity) and LW snapped. That’s not a good way to communicate to coworkers, and if I was Coworker, I would avoid LW in the future and report mistakes to LW’s boss so I wouldn’t need to deal with LW.
        I understand the frustration, but being able to handle mistakes and miscommunications with grace is part of being a professional.

    2. Kella*

      This letter is old, but this is a very harsh response. I actually checked the comments on the original publishing of this letter to see what the response to it was then and *everyone* was offering advice on how to manage your emotions when an email makes you angry. Why? Cause OP already knew she messed up.

      OP said, “Someone not involved in the rectification told my indirect supervisor that the issue had not been resolved and actually got me in a lot of trouble.” It is not completely clear whether the source of the consequences was the non-payment, or the claim that it hadn’t been resolved. But “OP failed to pay X for a month and only just rectified it” is a VERY different message to pass on then “OP failed to pay for X for a month, she was notified, and she still hasn’t done anything to fix it.” It sounds like the coworker said the second one, which was untrue.

      But regardless, it is unfair to take OP to task for her use of “disgusted” when her letter is about how much she regrets this word choice, and she has been vocally apologetic about the issue at work. Her letter was not complaining about what was done to her. It was asking for advice in how to come back from a mistake that she deeply regrets.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Nope, it’s reasonable to say that OP used words that you should think rather than say in an office environment. Compassionate assistance for someone who already knew they did something wrong is one thing, but trying to diminish the actual offence or insinuate the person on the other end of the email did something to deserve it is not fair either.

        There are always two sides to every story but things like this happen even in well-run offices and if OP was the colleague who wrote in saying someone else had used that word in an email we’d be all over the person who did it as irredeemable.

        The truth may lie somewhere in between but giving OP kind and reasonable advice does not involve absolving her completely from what she actually did. And yeah, she got herself into trouble by using that language; stern language wouldn’t be a problem but that kind of communication goes way past stern into personal.

        1. JustaTech*

          So, the OP clearly owned that they made a mistake, and then made another mistake by using harsh language. The OP is not asking for absolution.

          The OP was asking for advice on how to move forward after making the mistake of using harsh language. Are you saying that it is not possible for the OP to move forward after this mistake? Do you think it is not possible for someone to redeem themselves in the workplace after an error fueled by emotion (rather than cold intent)?

      2. Lea*

        And everybody has had those ‘I want to send a snappy email’ hell my boss reads me emails to see if they’re too harsh sometimes!

        Take a breath, take a break, phone a friend..all good solutions

        1. Hohumdrum*

          Ironically enough, I do feel that on this site the diagram between the “if you make a mistake you deserve everything that comes to you and I shall judge you harshly” commenters and the commenters who love to talk a big game about the snarky/mean responses they think LWs should use to punish coworkers is just a circle, if you catch my drift.

      3. Friendly Office Bisexual*

        Was just coming here to say this. This letter is literally 7 years old. Presumably this person was relatively new to the workplace aka didn’t have a lot of experience with situations like these, and they sounded extremely embarrassed about how they’d reacted. I don’t think this kind of harsh response is really helpful.

        (Although personally, I would find it funny if someone tried to take me to task for the way I mishandled a situation in 2016. I’m sure I made similarly unprofessional blunders at the time as a fresh-out-of-grad-school employee.)

        1. Observer*

          This letter is literally 7 years old. Presumably this person was relatively new to the workplace aka didn’t have a lot of experience with situations like these, and they sounded extremely embarrassed about how they’d reacted. I don’t think this kind of harsh response is really helpful.

          True. Very often people respond to letters as though they are current. And in that context I think that the comment is overly harsh, but has a valid point that gets lost in the harshness.

          If this were a response to the OP coming back now? Yeah, unless they were insisting that they were RIGHT, etc. this is kind of not relevant. And I agree that it sounds highly unlikely that the OP would look back on this and think that they were 100% in the right here.

      4. ferrina*

        It’s not clear if OP was in trouble for the original mistake or for not rectifying the original mistake when they had.

        If it’s for the original mistake…well, that’s not Coworker’s fault. If LW is mad at Coworker for “tattling”, that’s juvenile. Tattling is not a thing at work. If Boss gets mad at what you did, you should either not do that thing or accept the consequences (if boss is regularly mad over things they shouldn’t be, like they get mad that you followed the law, that’s a different story and not what happened here). LW made a mistake, and that can have consequences.

        If LW is in trouble for not rectifying, that’s still not Coworker’s fault. Boss got mad before LW could explain. That’s Boss jumping the gun. That’s still not Coworker’s fault. Even if Coworker didn’t check the updated file and made some wild assumptions, well, sometimes humans do that. It’s super frustrating (I’ve been on the receiving end of a few of those), but proceeding with grace is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. If you are kind with Coworker, they are more likely to work with you next time instead of jump straight to your boss.

      5. Observer*

        Why? Cause OP already knew she messed up.

        To some extent that’s true. But at the same time, there seems to be a strain of defensiveness and minimization. Like they say that they were told that they sound whiny based on the one sentence, and imply that it’s inadequate.

        But, one sentence – when it’s something like this – can actually be perfectly adequate. And also, it’s highly unlikely that their boss is basing themselves solely on the one comment. The OP is certain that all of the prior emails were perfect, but maybe they weren’t.

        So while I agree that the comment you are responding to was too harsh, I do think it’s relevant to point out that the OP’s comment was coming in a context that didn’t make them look great to start with and that maybe the rest of their dialog was not as perfect as they though it was.

      6. MK*

        Agree, such a harsh reaction to the OP and I truly wonder how much is rooted in the misogynist view that women need to be patient and understanding and nice.

        Frankly, if a coworker lied about me to my boss and it wasn’t followed by an immediate apology and explanation to my boss, the word “disgusted” would be the most mild part of the ensuing conversation.

        1. MK*

          just realized there are two of us commenting as MK. Can’t change it, but for the sake of clarity: two different people.

        2. I Have RBF*

          Frankly, if a coworker lied about me to my boss and it wasn’t followed by an immediate apology and explanation to my boss, the word “disgusted” would be the most mild part of the ensuing conversation.

          No kidding. But it wouldn’t be in email. My email would probably say “disappointed” or maybe “irritated” that they lied to my boss. Then I would be having a conversation with my boss about being lied about.

          Yes, I make mistakes, but I own them and fix them. That’s what professionals do. If someone lied about me not fixing a mistake when I actually had already fixed the mistake, I would be angry.

          I’m still salty about a guy who tried to blame my work for his (boneheaded) mistake to my great-grand-boss, and when he figured it out he never corrected the record with her. It means that my willingness to go the extra mile for him… isn’t, because I don’t trust him not to lie about what I’ve done. Did I savage him in an email? No. But I did let my irritation about it be known to my boss, who agreed with me that it was a shitty thing to do.

          1. DisgruntledPelican*

            You’re making an assumption that the coworker lied. The coworker saying something that was untrue doesn’t make it a lie. For example:

            OP forgets to make a payment
            Vendor nudges OP for payment
            OP makes payment, but it takes 24 hours to show up in vendor’s account
            Sometime during that 24 hours, vendor mentions to coworker they still have not received payment
            Coworker tells boss payment still has not been made.

            Now, is that what happened? No idea. But something similar is just as (maybe more) likely than this coworker randomly lying.

      7. Tiger Snake*

        I don’t agree with what you’re saying. The reason I don’t agree is because one could very easily argue that LW1 did the same thing AGAIN in the email she sent to Alison.

        She says that being spoken to about her behaviour was extremely patronizing. She says that she feels that this is blown out of proportion. LW1 is upset, emotional and frustrated and having been berated at work, and it is coming through in her language choices a second time.

        And sure: there’s a lot of justification for her to have those sorts of feelings right now. Just like there was a lot of justification for her to feel frustrated originally. But while emotions are justified, it’s still up to us to react appropriately and professionally. In both these cases, she is reacting to what she is being told. That doesn’t mean what she was told was wrong. And even if it was wrong, that doesn’t mean that we can use inflammatory language when criticised.

        Yes, LW1 knows she failed initially to how she *felt*, but she’s still missing the follow through on attribution. That’s a very fair thing for MK to bring up. The benefits of this site is to offer those other perspectives to help us recognise these things; it’s to help all of us improve, not just to make us feel better.

        1. Beacon of Nope*

          “She says that being spoken to about her behaviour was extremely patronizing.”

          I read it as the manager chose to talk to her in a patronizing way, not that talking to her was, in and of itself, patronizing. It’s certainly possible to tell someone their behavior needs to change, while treating them with dignity and respect, instead of talking down to them like they’re some kind of jerk. It really wasn’t necessary for the boss to tell LW that she’s young and doesn’t know everything. I feel vicariously demeaned just reading that.

    3. hey nonny nonny*

      In addition, we don’t know how serious the missed payment was.

      People make mistakes, and if the initial mistake was so serious, then the system needs to have more checks built in to notify ASAP.
      OP rectified the mistake immediately after getting alerted about it.

      The co-worker seems to have created a lot of extra headache for OP, as they emailed the indirect supervisor that it had not been rectified, which was incorrect. Frustration is understandable.

      That said, disgusted is a pretty strong word, and I’m not sure I would ever use the word directly to another person.

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        Yeah. I made a mistake…in July, which was pointed out to me last week by someone who was aware that a mistake had been made back then, and just didn’t tell me. My apologetic-ness is thus mitigated by: but you knew! You have known for X amount of time! If you had said earlier, it would have been more easily fixed!

        1. Cmdrshprd*

          “was aware that a mistake had been made back then, and just didn’t tell me.”

          I don’t know them so maybe they did not say anything on purpose but odds are if they are generally a decent coworker they may have meant to say something but forgot. I have had similar situations with coworkers before. Even coworkers I generally get along with and want to help.

          I notice x mistake/issue/item to follow up on, we are all pretty busy, coworker is out on lunch/out on PTO/call/meeting at the time I notice, or I have a pressing immediate deadline I am working on. I make a mental note to bring it up later but yada yada things happen and I forget until 4 months later when some other random thing reminds me of it or I see it again.

  3. Shoe Expectations*

    As someone who used to wear 100% black, they look almost like nice men’s shoes for medical reasons, it never occurred to me to say anything. Then I had an interview set up by a recruiter who, for some reason, met me at an interview 15 minutes before my real interview. She gave me a once over, stared at my feet, and said in a rather snide voice, aren’t you going to change your shoes? Well, I never felt subconscious about my shoes before, but I sure did during that whole interview. Apparently, even though it was a tech interview at a tech company the interviewer was expecting heels.

    1. Clare*


      Well, you might have foot problems but clearly that person had foot in mouth disease, and I know who I’d choose to work with.

      Being snide about class signifiers like interview wear is a great way to show you don’t have any. (Class, that is).

        1. Shoe Expectations*

          I said sorry, but I can’t and went to the interview proper where it wasn’t a problem because they were techies and more interested in my brain than my feet.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve encountered the shoe weirdos in the wild before. My feet are a size that women’s shoes literally don’t come in, so I tried to get away with men’s dress shoes…the horror, apparently. (Shout-out to SAS Shoes, who custom-made me a pair of women’s dress flats in size canoe that have lasted for 20 years of interviews, weddings, and funerals.)

      1. allathian*

        I’m glad that you found a solution, but I’m also hoping that things would be a bit better now than they were even 20 years ago. Lots of people, regardless of their gender identity, like to experiment with genderfluid, androgynous, or unisex dressing. I’m hoping that wearing men’s shoes would get fewer comments now. I’m hoping.

        My friend has large feet, size 43 European, or 12 women’s. It’s the largest standard size available, but she has a very hard time finding decent dress shoes, especially as she also has a wide foot. Luckily there are more online options now than ever before.

        1. TeaCoziesRUs*

          I’m in your friend’s boat. I’m just glad that companies are starting to realize that if guys will buy the craziest athletic shoes in the loudest, most garish colors and combos EVER, they might actually buy hiking boots or other shoes in colors other than black, brown, and gray. Merrill finally started making larger hiking shoes in purple and blues!

          Here’s hoping that companies get the note that most Americans are growing taller and wider, and size up accordingly. (My 11 year old is already in women’s 8.5. o.O I didn’t get to 11.5 until after two kids, but I spent most of my 20s in 10.)

      2. Shoe Expectations*

        yup, I wear men’s 14 4E shoes – or I did when I could still wear shoes (these days all I can handle are crocs).

      3. Freya*

        My feet are literally nearly half as wide as they are long – nice women’s shoes just don’t come wider than average, much less in the EE+ widths I need, and men’s shoes, while they sometimes come wide enough, don’t come in short enough sizes (for reference, I wear an EU37EE or EU36EEE+ or thereabouts. The wider the better!)

        Custom shoes at AU$700 the pair are cheaper than the physiotherapy I need after wearing shoes that only come in a B width.

      4. I Have RBF*

        My spouse wears a women’s 10.5. They have a very hard time finding dress shoes. Fortunately, they are retired, so they don’t need to try to put on the dog for interviews any more.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      The last time I switched jobs was in 2021, and even hybrid jobs (really weren’t many in person jobs in my field then, though it’s a mix now and much fewer fully remote) seemed to be doing through interviews 100% online. This was so much nicer!

      I still usually dressed in interviews clothes even pants/skirt (weirdly) even though I work remote and wear leggings most days, but I didn’t have to think about shoes at all! (I can’t imagine wearing shoes in my home, it’s just not been “done” in my family or currently my my husband and I.)

      I have a pair of literally “interview heels” if I must (not worn in a long time) but I can’t really wear heels for semi medical reasons (I had foot damage from dancing and an injury that constantly wearing heels was exacerbating by my late 20s, and the doctor told me no more heels—now I just can’t do them). I wear flats always (usually Toms but I have dressy flats too) and it’s frustrating to me that anyone expects heels, but any gendered expectations drive me pretty crazy. I remember how much more I enjoyed interviews when I could think less about my clothes and none about my shoes!

    4. lilsheba*

      yeah screw that. I’m not wearing heels for anybody. And if they are going to be THAT picky on shoes, which have no effect on work, who wants to work there? Ridiculous.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Yup, I feel you there. I have nice black flats I wear for interviews. If you expect me to wear heels, then it’s not the job for me.

    5. TeaCoziesRUs*

      This was my first thought. All black sneakers or hiking shoes can easily pass for something nicer. I’ve had to wear sneakers or flats with excellent arch support since 2012. Even my favorite flats from Vionic only last about 2-3 hours and minimal walking before I’d have to change shoes. If I couldn’t justify carrying a large enough bag to swap sneakers for flats, I’d go with all black sneakers or hiking boots. Also, check the men’s aisles! I’ve seen some sharp black leather and suede shoes cut to look good that fit more like sneakers. I had fun going through a specialty shoe store asking for shoes I could wear in Europe and not scream AMERICAN TRAVELER like my crazy bright sneakers. There were some models that were REALLY comfy.

      If you wear black sneakers with black slacks, a bright blazer, and a fun shirt with the colors of the blazer, you should definitely look nice! I do lean toward cool jewel-tone colors, and I’ve kept one blazer in a gorgeous cyan blue from my working days just because I’ll never find that color again! If I need to interview, I’ll pull that blazer, find a fun fabric that coordinates well, and simply make myself a nice shell. :)

      If you’re not that adventurous, black slacks, black blazer, bright shell, and coordinating scarf would also look pulled together.

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        “All black sneakers or hiking shoes can easily pass for something nicer.”

        I don’t know about this, I think some can but not “ALL,” just being black is not enough, depending on the material and design they might still look very obviously like sneakers/hiking shoes. Especially for interviews, I think day to day wear is different, I wear “blackish” sneakers for everyday use in the office, but they would be passable in my opinion for interview wear.

    6. SpaceySteph*

      I haven’t worn heels since before my oldest was born, even for formal occasions I wear dressy flats. I know not everyone job hunting is in the position of being able to say “well screw ’em if they’re gonna be like that” but I truly wouldn’t want to work for a manager that discriminated against me for not torturing my feet sufficiently.

  4. Clare*

    Regarding #4, I’ve seen people wear the medical sneaker on one foot and a smart women’s flat like an Oxford or a Mary Jane on the other foot to signify “Yes I understand interview dress etiquette. The sneaker is not by choice.”

    I haven’t had the misfortune to experience it myself, but I imagine if the heel heights matched reasonably closely (i.e. not a ballet flat or heels), it wouldn’t be much more uncomfortable than all the rest of the interview costume.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. I also feel that even if you normally always wear a dress to work or interviews, wearing pants would make it much less noticeable. At least the support would be hidden.

    2. yellowbird*

      As someone who’s been dealing with this for the past year: it can cause back issues to wear shoes this way (even for short periods of time), even more so if you have existing back issues. I know I tried doing this just once and within a block of leaving the house I had to turn around and go back home to change.

      1. Yvette*

        If you carry a tailored tote or briefcase the shoe could be brought along and swapped out at the last minute. But really just own it upfront with a brief explanation. Especially if the sock-like brace is black and the other is bare it will be obvious the “sock” and sneakers are not a fashion choice.

    3. Molly Millions*

      I would worry about exacerbating the injury, doing that. Even if they were the same height, wearing two different shoes might alter the way she walks or cause her to put too much weight on the injured foot. (In my experience as a perennial ankle-twister, you need to take care of the uninjured foot, too; after a week of limping, that’s the one that ends up *really* hurting, haha).

      1. Jackalope*

        Yes, this is well-stated. It’s easy when you’ve had a recent foot or ankle injury to be extra careful of the injured side, but the noninjured side is putting in a lot of extra work and if you aren’t careful you can injure that side too. And then getting around is a HUGE pain, figuratively and literally.

        1. Molly Millions*

          Exactly! It’s two injuries for the price of one; I find the strain on the non-injured foot is actually more painful, in the long run.

          (Speaking of, I’m about due for my seasonal slip-and-fall injury. *Chuckles nervously.*)

        2. myfanwy*

          Definitely this – you have to think about the whole system, not just the injured part. I always remember this from when I was a kid hanging around horses – if a horse was lame we’d also wrap the opposite leg for support, because it was going to be taking a lot of extra strain.

        3. Cyndi*

          I was in a walking boot for a few weeks a couple years back and it DID have some lift in the heel, and the only pair of shoes I had that matched the height were dress boots with maybe a 1.5″ heel. So for a month the only shoe I could wear without pain was the left boot from that pair, which took a real beating, plus it was an icy December and those boots had smooth soles. I don’t know what the orthopedist could have done about this exactly, but I wish they’d at least warned me.

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            I’ve learned to take any smooth-soled boots or shoes to a repair shop to have them add a thin grippy layer. It doesn’t change the shape or feel of the shoe but it does give better traction (and also an insulating layer in shoes that are becoming thin).

    4. Awkwardness*

      I think two non-matching shoes would draw even more attention. That would make me more self-conscious than a nice pair of sneakers.
      I would go with AAMs suggestion and maybe tweak it a little bit if LW fears they might fear health problems.
      “Please excuse my shoes! I had a minor injury and I am almost recovered. But I am not comfortable in heels yet.”

      1. allathian*

        I’m never comfortable in heels, I don’t know how to walk in them. The highest heels I have are about 2 inches, and they’re platform heels that look more like a smallish pair of men’s dress shoes than anything else. No stilettos for me, ever.

        1. Awkwardness*

          You are right, one should not assme heels as default. And depending on OPs regular interview clothing this night be considered as a white lie. But I was trying to think of a way that would not raise any suspicions about OP not being in good health and unable to deal with long standing.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            This shouldn’t be a concern hopefully. Otherwise people like me who are visibly disabled would not ever be hired. The issue is not really OP’s health and ability to stand (as presumably if OP can’t physically do the job without reasonable accommodation, they wouldn’t be applying). The issue is how to tell the interviewers that OP is aware of standard interview dressing norms.

        2. bamcheeks*

          Maybe I’m just irredeemably public sector, but I’m always amazed by the idea that heels are “normal” workwear. 2″ is the max I’ve seen anyone wear regularly. I was in my early thirties in the late 00s / early 10s, which felt like peak fashion-heels, and I wore 2-3″ heels to work maybe one day a week, occasionally two days a week — but it was literally for like, three years when I had an easy cycle commute, a desk of my own where I could keep shoes under it, and mostly stayed in the same building all day without having a walk across campus. Even when I was working in a more corporate sales environment in London in 2013-2016, where my colleagues wore suits every day and full make-up, higher heels were still “slip them on for a three hour client meeting and change afterwards”. I’ve kind of always assumed that work = heels is strictly for TV law dramas!

          1. Ellis Bell*

            In that same time period, I remember the female reporters at my newspaper were frequently wowed by the high heels of a reporter who worked for a rival. The job entailed going between outdoor incidents and the courtroom, so we had to strike a balance between smart and practical; most of us had low heeled boots. She always showed up to court in four inch-plus stilettos, which were always a bright colour that was unbesmirched by muck or snow. It was a very rural location as well, and we couldn’t figure out how she was doing it. One time reporters were invited to accompany the cops on a moorland search – it was an all day assignment in inclement weather, so we wore waterproofs together with wooly socks and hiking boots. Except for the rival reporter who wore six inch glittery green sequin heels. Seemed perfectly comfortable as well!

            1. Stay-at-homesteader*

              Was she Russian? This is common in Russia. In my teens, I could do this, too. Now I wear Birkenstocks everywhere.

            2. doreen*

              I’ve known a person or two who could run in heels. Apparently , when you wear heels all the time you not only become used to them to the point where you can run in them, it actually becomes uncomfortable/painful to wear more practical footwear.

              1. anne of mean gables*

                I had a colleague who wore (3-4″ black stiletto, with jeans, because early 2000’s) heels daily, and claimed the same – flat shoes hurt her Achilles because it had been shortened by years of wearing heels daily. I was, and remain, flummoxed at her dedication to the heel. Especially since this was a STEM PhD program in rural New England – absolutely no pressure from anywhere external to dress in anything fancier than Dansko clogs.

                I love me some fun heels (chunky and low) but same as the commenter above – I bike commute in and keep an assortment under my desk to walk back and forth to the water cooler.

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                I used to wear heels all the time, and I can confirm that when I wore flat shoes my knees would hurt!

                Then my work had some “step” contests and even though I had always sworn that my heels were comfortable all day–that didn’t quite hold up when I was walking 20,000+ steps. I ended up buying some shoes for comfort and after wearing those for like a month I basically couldn’t wear my heels anymore lol.

              3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

                Yes, I saw this in Spain (about 15 years ago): the women could not only navigate cobblestone streets in heels of a height such that I would’ve broken an ankle just trying to walk across a room, but some of them told me that they could not comfortably wear flats for any length of time.

              4. Gray Lady*

                If you start before you’re fully grown, your Achilles tendons can become permanently foreshortened (barring difficult surgery) and you become unable to place your heels on the ground or wear flat shoes at all.

            3. Umami*

              That would be me lol, I am known for my heels! I have a very high arch, and high heels just suit my foot better. Flat shoes make my feet feel tired and achy pretty quickly, but I can (and do!) do everything in my heels.

          2. Shoe Expectations*

            not normal work wear, but sometimes normal interview wear. Most of the places I’ve worked had a dress code of you have to get dressed, but I interviewed wearing a suit or, at worst, a fancy blouse and skirt. That’s usually how we figured out who was looking for a new job back in the day – if you dressed up it was assumed you had an interview that day.

          3. Freya*

            As a short person in an office job, I’ve sometimes found that heels mean I don’t need a footrest under the desk, because my feet reach the ground at the same time as my upper half is at the right height for the keyboard, mouse and monitor. Mind you, I’ve also broken my footrest pushing off of it to send my chair rolling over to my bookcase, so I can’t say that I’m in any way a normal desk user…

        3. Slartibartfast*

          Me too. I’ve found wedges give me the ability to keep my balance while also being dressy

        4. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, I’ve never worn stilettos. Apart from anything else, I have a weak right ankle and reckon I could do myself damage on heels if I twisted it while wearing them.

        5. Revontulet*

          Since u have previously described urself as a fat Finn, I doubt stilettos were ever in the cards

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Agreed – I’d be worried people would think I was so ill-put-together that I had accidentally worn two different shoes that day.

        Personally, I would find a nice pair of black sneakers and wear those. Some look good enough that you really have to look to realize they aren’t dress shoes. My kids wear these for work (they work in a store and have to look semi-professional, no running shoes allowed).

    5. Umami*

      I once had to do this because I was wearing a cast shoe, so I didn’t have a choice. It actually was easier to wear a heel on the other foot to more closely match the height of the cast shoe. IT wouldn’t work long-term, but in this case where it’s minimal walking for an interview, that is what I would suggest doing if they don’t want to actually mention they have a minor injury.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I had to wear a heel or wedge when I was recovering from foot surgery. The walking boot was at least 3″ off the ground and trying to wear a flat or sneaker on my other foot made it nearly impossible to walk. I got a number of snide comments about how I just couldn’t give up heels. The surgery actually left my foot in a shape where a slight heel is more comfortable because wearing flat shoes gives me foot cramps in that foot.

        I have no idea why people are so weird about heels and if someone is or is not wearing them. Latent foot fetishism??

        1. Umami*

          Yes, it is a strange thing to be concerned with. I did get some comments about my ‘dedication’ to heels, but the truth is, I didn’t even own any flat shoes! They aren’t comfortable to me, so I had no use for them. And the only sneakers I have are running shoes, so it would never occur to me to use them outside of running. Heh.

    6. Observer*

      I’ve seen people wear the medical sneaker on one foot and a smart women’s flat like an Oxford or a Mary Jane on the other foot to signify “Yes I understand interview dress etiquette. The sneaker is not by choice.”

      It could also signify that someone is an absolute flake. Like the guy I knew who managed to wear two different colored socks, in (to use his terms) “incredibly vibrant” colors and then sat in a way that you couldn’t miss the colors of his socks – which is when he realized what he had done. Also, such wildly different shoes draws more attention to it than something the like dark sneakers.

      but I imagine if the heel heights matched reasonably closely (i.e. not a ballet flat or heels), it wouldn’t be much more uncomfortable than all the rest of the interview costume.

      I’d have to say that you imagine wrong. I know that wearing two different colored shoes is a classic mistake. But that only happens when the two shoes look SO alike that it’s easy to miss that it’s two different pairs. But one of the things that often alerts someone of the problem is that it does not feel right – they are walking just a LITTLE bit more than from their front door to the car, maybe, and they realize that someone is off. That’s not universal, but if two pairs that are that similar can feel off, can you imagine what two different shoes entirely are going to feel like? And *any* difference in height is absolutely going to be felt pretty significantly.

      1. doreen*

        Yes, there have been times where I didn’t notice I had two different colored shoes on for hours – but it was always that I had the same exact shoes in navy and black.

    7. Kes*

      If you’re going to do this kind of medical theatre so they can tell why you’re wearing the shoe I’d probably just wrap a bandage around your ankle instead. Probably do less harm while still getting the message across

  5. soli*

    A couple of years ago I was helping interview people for a position similar to my own. When setting up one interview, my manager told me that the candidate would be wearing sweatpants and that this was for medical reasons and not to take it into account or hold it against him in any way. I probably wouldn’t have anyway, but it was good to know, and I’m certain other interviewers may have.

    It may be worth letting the person setting up the interview (like, during scheduling, if possible) that you are recovering from an injury and may be dressed a little more casually than you normally would. They can then pass that on if they think they need to. Otherwise, I think I’d mention it– maybe make a joke of it if you can? I think saying something is worth it, anyway.

    (We hired the guy and he is great at his job, a delight to work with, and now a friend.)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m a fan of the one line “This thing that seems unusual about my appearance, there is a boring practical reason for it” and moving on.

    2. lilsheba*

      Which just goes to show that clothes don’t matter. They don’t tell you anything about a person really.

      1. Colette*

        Making an exception for special circumstances does not mean the original requirement doesn’t matter.

        If you were sent to see a new doctor and she came into the room in sweat pants and a crop top, would that affect the way you saw her? What about if he were wearing a basketball jersey, a speedo, and sandals with knee-high socks?

        1. lilsheba*

          Umm no I wouldn’t see them differently. I DON’T CARE what people are wearing. That’s not an indicator of the person. Dressing up as a doctor is pointless and silly.

        2. I Have RBF*

          I spent yesterday with my spouse in the ER. While some of the doctors wore lab coats over their scrubs, most of them just wore scrubs, just like the nurses and orderlies. Their badge had big labels like “RN”, “MD”, “Doctor”, “Tech”, “CNA”, etc on it so you could tell who was what.

          IMO, I wouldn’t care if my doctor wore a bright pink tutu or a set of workout sweats. As long as their clothing was safe for the environment and they were competent, that would be all I cared about.

      2. SoloKid*

        Knowing social norms is very important if you are in a client facing role. Clothing choice is a subset of that.

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Yes, 100% my thought too! If this was flagged for me going into an interview, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. And, it avoids the awkwardness of saying it, and the inevitable awkwardness of people responding.

      It must have felt so awkward for your friend to interview in sweatpants! I’ve used a variety of braces and other accommodations over my career so I’m used to explaining my appearance, but oof, that would not have been easy for me!

  6. nodramalama*

    LW1 im kind of confused what they thought their coworker did wrong to call the behaviour disgusting in the first place.

    LW4 i feel like business norms have changed heaps since 2016 because i feel like these days I often wear sneakers with my work attire and nobody cares

    1. Myrin*

      Re: #1, I think “disugsted” is a really strange choice of words but in general, I reckon the problem was the fact that the coworker wasn’t involved in the payment or rectification thereof in any way. It is kind of weird to go and tell something like that to someone’s boss when it has nothing to do with you whatsoever.
      Reading between the lines a little, I got the feeling that there might be some bad blood between the OP and coworker anyway, who then jumped at the chance to get OP in trouble – pure speculation, of course, but it would explain both the coworker’s initial action and OP’s reaction.

      1. Jackalope*

        I also understood the letter to say that the OP had corrected it (Although after a month) and the coworker had reported that the OP had NOT corrected it. The letter isn’t entirely clear, but if the coworker was alleging that the OP hadn’t made the payment at all then that would be lying to get her in trouble.

        1. Aquamarine*

          Or maybe the coworker didn’t know it had been corrected and reported it instead of checking with the OP first.

      2. Molly Millions*

        I don’t want to speculate too wildly, but my read was that payment issue may have indirectly affected the other employee (e.g. the colleague couldn’t get into their files all day because a software license wasn’t renewed on time), and paying the bill may not have totally solved the problem.

        I feel for OP – things fall through the cracks, you hope you can fix it without anyone calling attention to it. But it’s also possible the colleague had to cover themselves, too, if their workflow was disrupted. And it’s so easy to get overheated over email.

        1. Kella*

          That’s quite a lot of speculation. We have no reason to believe that the other employee was affected. OP said the coworker wasn’t involved in the rectification, and if it affected them, wouldn’t they want to be involved in that? We also have no reason to believe the problem wasn’t actually solved. If it wasn’t, why didn’t the coworker notify OP about that?

          1. Molly Millions*

            Sorry, I’ll clarify!
            Maybe I was reading it too literally, but since OP said her colleague was “not involved in the rectification,” I took that to mean the colleague wasn’t involved in paying the bill, not that they weren’t affected. (I’m assuming the overdue payment was a subscription or software license, because I would hope a human missing a paycheque wouldn’t let a month go by without following up).

            To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting the OP didn’t actually correct the error. But paying the bill doesn’t automatically undo the impact to others’ workflows (e.g. if the graphic design department lost access to Adobe for a few hours and now they’re behind schedule).

            I’m questioning the OP’s account, as she obviously has more context than I do. I was just trying to make the point that the details in the letter don’t necessarily indicate that the OP’s coworker was deliberately trying to sabotage her.

          2. How do I put in a name?*

            saying the coworker is not involved in the rectification seems really specific if it didn’t involve them at all.

            I’m also getting service/software that the coworker uses being shut off for non-payment vibes.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              It kind if hinges on how the coworker learned about the mistake in the first place. If they were affected insome way or heard about it from an outside vendor (and maybe didn’t know it had been fixed?), that makes them more reasonable. If they heard of it through the grapevine and weren’t involved at all, that’s much less so.

            2. Umami*

              Yes, that was my take. I would expect OP to write that the issue didn’t impact the employee at all, not that they … weren’t involve in rectifying it. I’ve seen this play out before – credit card on file with vendor was automatically charged but employee whose name was on the card no longer worked there. So by the time the vendor reached out, the service was suspended and took some time to get a new payment and then service restored. In this case, no one was truly at fault because the vendor had already been told to let the new person know when payment was going to process so she could give them the correct card to charge, but it didn’t work out that way. But it did impact operations, so it wouldn’t have been strange for someone to say ‘I can’t do X task because this bill wasn’t paid’, without knowing that payment WAS processed but other steps were still needed to restore access. Anyway, tl;dr, always hold that thought before responding to emails to give yourself time to be able to react professionally. Even if the other person was in the wrong, you’ll come out looking better if you don’t react with anger or frustration.

              1. Observer*

                I would expect OP to write that the issue didn’t impact the employee at all, not that they … weren’t involve in rectifying it.

                Yes, that struck me too.

                And, the kind of scenario you describe is incredibly common – both in terms of the one person not being there anymore, but also in terms of people who have no involvement – often CANNOT have any involvement – in the payment being affected by the issue.

          3. Observer*

            and if it affected them, wouldn’t they want to be involved in that?

            Not necessarily. And on the other hand, if they DID want to be involved and they weren’t that could be why they incorrectly assumed that it had not been done.

            Hard to know. The OP did not give us any information that would really help us know how unreasonable anyone was.

          4. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            I guess from my POV the fact that the other employee brought it up with a supervisor is itself reason to believe that employee was affected. Not that people never narc for the sake of it, but I would not generally assume that to be the case.

      3. Nodramalama*

        But they also said there were 20 emails before that, right? So if they weren’t involved why was there so much back and forth

      4. Irish Teacher*

        I think “I’m disgusted by how this was handled” is somewhat different from “I think your behaviour was disgusting.” Still not a good idea to respond that way, but I don’t think it such a strange choice of words as the latter would be. To me, that would be a pretty normal way to describe it, when complaining about it to your partner or family or friends. “I realise I made a mistake but I’m honestly disgusted by how it was handled. I think it was done very poorly.” To me, the context implies disapproval rather than actual disgust.

        1. Myrin*

          I think in the end it’s a matter of preference and “voice” – I agree with you that it implies disapproval in this case but the specific wording of “disgusting” reads as wildly over-the-top to me, while others (like you) might find it much more reasonable depending on their own use of the expression.

          1. Umami*

            Yeah, the word choice is unusual to me, and then saying that she was ‘in trouble’ and the indirect supervisor was ‘patronizing’ sounds a bit problematic as well. Taking corrective action and explaining why the behavior needs correcting is not patronizing; in fact, it sounds like it was necessary to point out to OP to be more thoughtful about their tone and language in email. It sounds like in the end OP got it, and I’m sure that if they continued to keep their communications professional they did fine.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              I don’t see the issue you do. Someone can be patronizing about how they point out a legitimate behavior issue.

              1. Umami*

                Agreed, but the rest of the letter’s language seems to me that the OP didn’t really have standing to react the way they did. I get that they apologized, but they also said the supervisor was ‘extremely patronizing’ and that the issue was ‘blown out of proportion’. There isn’t a lot of context, but there also doesn’t feel like a lot of ownership of the seriousness of the mistake or how it may have impacted others.

        2. GythaOgden*

          That’s kinda weaselly semantics though. It was a hurtful thing to say and a hurtful way to say it, and trying to absolve the OP by creating all these reasons why she can’t possibly be to blame when she already acknowledged that she is to blame seems a bit daft as well.

          We’re not here to try and get OP out of trouble — we’re here to advise her how to build back better, as it were.

          1. amoeba*

            I do feel there’s a pretty big difference between “I am disgusted by what happened” and “I am disgusted by you” (which the title suggests)! I mean, the former certainly isn’t great or professional behaviour, but unlike the latter it’s not a personal attack or insult. I’d be horrified by the latter and kind of “meh, bit of an overreaction” for the former…

        3. Umami*

          I get the impression that OP does not have enough capital or rank here to be able to imply disgust or disapproval, especially after making a major mistake. I can see how the supervisor thought it best to talk to them about their tone in order to help them improve (even though OP says it was a one-off, so that is definitely good!)

    2. Colette*

      I think there’s a difference between wearing sneakers with work attire (which is unremarkable in many places) and wearing sneakers to an interview, particularly if you are wearing a suit.

      1. CRM*

        Yeah, I completely agree. Even for casual offices, I think the expectation for interview attire is still a suit (or at least a smart sweater with nice pants) and dressy shoes for most industries. An interview is a special occasion where you are supposed to be showing your best side.

        Slightly unrelated, but the primary area where interview style has really changed in the past decade is the increased prevalence of Zoom interviews, especially in the early rounds (even for on-site roles!). But even in a Zoom interview, it still makes sense to dress nicely from the waist-up.

      2. londonedit*

        Yes – I’ve always worked in an industry where people dress fairly casually, and my favourite thing to wear to work is a smart/casual dress (like a midi dress) and white or metallic trainers. But I wouldn’t wear trainers to an interview – I’d wear ballet flats or brogues. I never wear heels (used to wear them for formal events but have stopped even doing that – I just wear smart flat shoes) and heels aren’t common as work shoes in my industry, so no need to wear them to an interview, but I’d definitely wear something smarter than trainers.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I think the sequence in LW1 was:
      LW makes mistake.
      A month passes.
      Someone catches the mistake, and LW, LW’s boss, important people are made aware.
      LW rectifies mistake.
      Another month passes.
      Coworker announces previously-known-since-rectified mistake as Not Resolved (possibly as though they just learned of it? but apparently without checking to see that it was resolved) to LW’s boss on a Friday evening before a weekend in which the mistake not being rectified would have been a big problem. Except it was already rectified.
      LW sends snippy email to coworker, and then scrambles to clarify Actual State of Things to boss.

  7. Chad H.*

    2. Feels like an opportunity, not a problem. It looks like at least one of the teens is eager to get involved doing this. With an appropriate check in place and a clear instruction they should be writing this to school standard, it seems like something that can be delegated, giving them CV-fodder for first jobs.

  8. Absolutely Splendid!*

    #4: I emphasised the fact I had an injury. Used a white brace with lettering on it on the ankle, so it was obvious something was wrong. Don’t try to conceal it. I even used it as an icebreaker occasionally “Sorry about the lack of my usual sartorial elegance, I had a argument with a lampost and it won”

    As for manky man #3 have you got something you can hang a pair of pants on, then say you had a good work out in the gym that morning?
    Encourage other people to hang sportswear from their desks.
    Arrange a competition for best pants in the office every week based on a points system, award prizes for the winner.
    Ask for it to be included in everyones’s appraisal “I was sadly disappointed to see you displaying pants while x had their Calvin Kleins out all last week”.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Sounds like a plan!

        Like when Phil Hughes was struck on the face by a rogue cricket ball and killed (the ball found the inch or two of space not covered by equipment that is as safe as is possible to be — it really was simply a total freak injury). A lot of other sportspeople in other disciplines such as snooker leant a cricket bat up beside their own equipment to honour Hughes.

    1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      As someone who often takes over any quiet corner of the office for my wet cycling gear during our rainy season, this! (Don’t worry, I keep my underoos the most hidden under my desk, also via command hooks). It would be so nice if we could just admit that we’re all humans, not just work-machines in heels.

    2. SpaceySteph*

      I think this might be a phrase more common in other regions, but “manky man” has truly sent me.

  9. Em*

    I am really happy I’ve never faced difficulties wearing comfortable shoes to work. I have very long, very thin feet… it’s a chore enough to find a “dressy” pair that fit, and I can pretty much give up on finding something that matches my taste because the options are so limited. I used to try, but then had a nasty broken leg and several surgeries- now I’m committed to comfy shoes come hell or high water.

  10. Becky S*

    #1 – be extraordinarily careful in all situations, of what you put on a permanent record – email, letter, text, voice mail etc. It will be out there forever and people may read or listen to it repeatedly, getting more angry each time. Take a walk, eat a piece of chocolate, have a cup of tea or coffee, but wait and think it through.

    1. Zarniwoop*

      “Dance like nobody’s watching. Write email like you’re going to read it in court someday.”

      1. Dinwar*

        And people wonder why so many find it more difficult to connect with colleagues via electronic means (Teams/Slack, email, etc)….

    2. Industry Behemoth*

      Yes. It’s amazing what people will put in an email. If you put the same thing in an official written statement, and asked them to sign it, they’d say heck what Maggie what is it you have food food no.

        1. AMH*

          This is DELIGHTFUL speech to text, I have that conversation with my cat on a daily basis. “What, Chimney? You already ate. You have food. There’s food. No!”

  11. Cabbagepants*

    #3 if asking nicely doesn’t work, I think this is a good one for some light teasing. “Good morning, Bob. Good morning, Bob’s speedo!” as you walk by.

  12. Honestly, some people’s children!*

    Many years ago a C suite level employee hurt his foot and had to wear a soft shoe for several weeks. Instead of just going with that he wore a regular business shoe on the other foot. That attracted a lot more attention than just wearing the sneakers. He was also a bit of a jerk so people were really making an issue out of the mismatched shoes. I wouldn’t wear different shoes I’d leave it at “minor foot injury where the dr said best thing is just wear sneakers for a few weeks”.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That has to be worse for healing, right? I have screwy joints and I can imagine the pain I’d be in after a day of doing that. I can’t imagine even a healthy person wouldn’t have some kind of complication after several weeks.

  13. Also Disturbed*

    #3. I’m could be wrong. But I immediately saw it as a power play/sick thrill, forcing all his female colleagues to think about his genitals everyday. I cannot think of a single logical reason someone would put their wet underwear (basically) out to dry on display in the office and in a place people have to touch.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      I did get kind of an exhibitionist vibe from it. Considering he could have hung it up on the other side of the doorknob, inside his office, for exactly the same amount of trouble.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        He could also find a way to hang it inside his office somewhere out of sight. Because wet bathing suits don’t belong in the office.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Same. It would be so ridiculously easy to hang such a small, lightweight, garment somewhere infinitely more discreet that I can’t help but think this guy is either spectacularly clueless or is doing this deliberately.

      3. Beany*

        I’d wrap it up in a towel and stash it until I could bring it home. No need to have it dripping on the floor on either side of the door.

    2. Nebula*

      I’m wondering whether there’s some kind of cultural difference at play here with the perception that the Speedo is basically underwear. It’s swimwear, sure it’s similar to underwear, and I do think this guy is gross, but it definitely reads to me as someone being a bit clueless about appropriate things to do with sportswear rather than some kind of super creepy power play.

      1. Nebula*

        Meant to say on the cultural difference front: my understanding is that Speedos are really not common at all in the US and are seen as being immodest. Whereas in lots of places in Europe, the long trunks favoured by Americans are seen as unhygienic, and Speedos are the default.

        1. Agnes*

          There may also be a cultural difference in that hardcore swimmers in the US wear speedos (of course), while recreational swimmers normally do not. So if this guy is pretty deep in that subculture, for him he’s just hanging out his swimsuit, but other people may perceive it differently. This seems like a weird thing to do in an office, but not at all a power play or sexual harassment.

        2. Broadway Duchess*

          Nebula, I thought the Speedo vs. long trunks thing was down to preference but the hygiene thing is interesting to me. Any idea why the trunks are seen as unhygienic?

          1. Dust Bunny*

            See, I would think the Speedos would be less hygienic because they cover less, and the trunks have extra layers between you and whatever you sit on.

          2. bamcheeks*

            It varies across Europe, but there are some countries which are more hardcore about swimming pool hygiene because it allows them to use less chlorine. Long swimming trunks, t-shirt cover-ups etc are also viewed as less hygienic because they look like street clothes and some people might wear them TO the pool, and wearing the same thing in the pool that you were wearing on the bus is a no-no. You’re supposed to have specific, clean, swimming-only clothes that you put on straight after your shower.

            (AFAIK this is mainly Scandinavian countries and possibly Baltic and Central European ones– I’ve been swimming at pools in north Germany, Austria and France and never encountered this being so hardcore, although old-school Germans might tut a bit at long shorts.)

          3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Living a European country where the long trunks are banned and men all wear speedos in the pool: the health and hygiene body banned them because men were turning up in all sorts of shorts, not necessarily swimwear shorts, and going straight into the pool in the shorts they’d been wearing outside. Which of course would multiply the germs in the pool and there’s already too much chlorine in there.
            The point is that you have to change into something that you only wear at the pool, that way everything stays clean.
            I must say I was shocked when I went to the pool in Canada, a lot of people looked like they could walk down the street in the clothes they had on in the pool.

            1. Hlao-roo*

              Thank you bamcheeks and rebelwothmouseyhair for the explanation! I was wondering the same thing, and the “wear swimwear that is clearly (only) swimwear” reasoning makes sense to me.

              1. bamcheeks*

                I’ve just googled it and apparently it is a big thing in France! Either I’ve never noticed there because I’ve usually been at campsite swimming pools and they relax the rules for tourists, or I’ve just not noticed because I’m not responsible for any male swimming attire!

        3. Dust Bunny*

          They’re not common in the US except among people who are really trying to show off their bodies.

          –former water park employee, who has seen more swimsuits than she cares to recall.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            At my pool (which has plenty of seniors, people doing PT, etc) I’d say they’re common for the more hard-core male swimmers.

            If you show up to take the life-guarding class, or to help coach your three year old in staying afloat, then you normally wear something like board shorts. And a lot of the pool time you are out of the water, or standing in the water holding someone. If you show up to swim 100 laps as fast as you can, speedos are unremarkable.

            1. JustaTech*

              Mu husband swam competitively in school and does some competitive swimming now, and it has been fascinating to me to learn the range of swimsuits.
              For lap swimming he wears a suit that’s between a traditional shaped Speedo and trunks (they look like “boy shorts”, so very short but much more coverage on the sides).
              For open-water swimming (the competitive stuff he does) it’s mostly wetsuits for everyone, with a few people in Speedos (men’s and women’s). Those people (of all genders) fall into two camps – the college-aged athletes, and retirement-aged folks who’ve been swimming their entire lives.

        4. another Hero*

          eh, speedos are very common among lap-swimming adults who swam competitively in a past life; if you use a pool during lap swim hours, you’re quite likely to see one. and a women’s one-piece suit also has a crotch, which is often the most sensible way to hang it. what’s weird about this guy is just that he’s put it outside his office.

      2. Zweisatz*

        The issue for me is a person who’s trying to be a creep about it and somebody who’s simply oblivious look exactly the same. So as an outsider I wouldn’t know what to make of this, but I would prefer it be removed.

        In that sense however, Alison’s recommended course of action should do the trick – at least OP would learn (has learned, seeing as it’s an old letter) what to make of it.

        And I’m from a European country.

      3. bamcheeks*

        I can’t get over ther doorknob part. I would be entirely unfazed by someone’s swimming costume hanging up over a radiator or the back of a chair or something in a non-public-facing office. Or even a door knob on a door which always stays open and is rarely touched. It’s the “external door knob that other people have to touch” that’s the weird part to me.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Giving him a wooden ladderback chair (or even a dedicated hook on the back of the door) would solve the problem. Like, I would not hang my swimsuit on the back of my curved, upholstered office chair.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            THIS. Does his door not have a hook on the back? Well it probably does, but he hangs his coat there and it never crosses his mind that he should put his coat elsewhere so his speedo isn’t hanging out in the hall.

            I’m HOPING for oblivious. But sadly its probably creepiness. Not to mention ruining the floor.

            1. Justme, The OG*

              The only reason my office door has nay hooks is because I put them there. I wouldn’t assume anything about his office.

          2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            There was a period of time where my team was based in Office A but sometimes needed to do work in Office B, so we had a workspace in Office B that was empty several days a week. I, a woman in my late twenties, was the person who most often used the space in Office B.

            One day I came in to discover a spandex biking outfit drying on the chair in that workspace. A communal chair, but effectively MY CHAIR. (Thankfully a mesh chair, not upholstered, but still gross.) One of the mid-senior people in Office B was a 40-ish man who biked fanatically and liked to store his bike in that space, so the culprit was pretty clear.

            I knew him well enough to be sure that it was in no way intended to be creepy, and I did have some sympathy for the challenge of finding a suitable location for the sweaty bike outfit, but I was still Very Uncomfortable. I told my boss, who told the perpetrator in no uncertain terms, “That is effectively CLH’s space and you cannot hang your dirty laundry on equipment she needs to use.” I don’t know where he put the clothing after that, but I received an apologetic email informing me that the chair had been thoroughly disinfected, and it was not a problem after that.

            1. Katie A*

              Sure, he can buy his own, but offering him one would probably work better. It would be a nice thing to do, and would improve the chances that the problem would be resolved quickly.

              He could put it up right then and there, no delay due to having to go out to get hooks or anything and no issue of him forgetting because it isn’t important to him.

              It would get the problem solved more reliably, which is what the goal is.

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Yeah? I mean, there was a time when I used to cycle in to work, and wash the T-shirt dripping in sweat by the time I got there. I would put it on the back on an unused chair next to the fan, or on the radiator depending on the weather. I would never think of putting it somewhere where random colleagues might touch it!

      4. I should really pick a name*

        The issue here is hanging a garment that has been in direct contact with one’s genitals on a doorknob that other people are going to have to touch.

        1. Nebula*

          Yeah and like I said, I also think it’s gross. But other commenters are reading a creepy/predatory intent into it which I don’t, and I’m wondering whether that’s because they think of Speedos differently.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Tbh, I think it’s gross the way I’d think him hanging his gym socks or any other sportswear that had been used and rinsed out on the doorknob. I don’t care what part of your sweaty body it’s been against. It doesn’t belong where people might come in contact with it.

            Is it inconsiderate of him? Yes, absolutely. Is it creepy? Maybe, but he might not even be thinking of it as anything different from other sportswear. It seems like nobody has asked him about it, because his response would reveal whether he has bad intent or is just clueless.

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              While I would find the speedo and the gym socks both gross, I don’t react to them in precisely the same way. The socks are gross because they’re gross, but the speedo (specifically, the crotch of the speedo) means that I’m on some level implicitly thinking about a coworker’s genitals, and THAT makes me almost more uncomfortable than the hygiene aspects. I have that reaction even if the coworker is doing it thoughtlessly. It’s the “leading me to think about what’s in my coworker’s pants” aspect that’s at minimum borderline creepy, regardless of intent.

          2. Brehaut*

            It is both gross AND creepy, and I’m appalled that LW’s boss sees no problem with it. If this is indicative of the company’s behavior generally (and usually it is), the workplace is toxic and LW should consider launching a job search.

      5. fhqwhgads*

        Someone walking around in swimwear vs underwear has different cultural connotations of appropriateness. But from a sanitary perspective, someone touching a doorknob that had a worn speedo on it vs worn underwear on it has zero difference. One could give the dude benefit of the doubt that didn’t occur to him, but then he’s just gross, instead of creepy.

      6. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Let’s get this out of the way: Don’t hang it on your office doorknob, and avoid having it be visible in a professional office.

        That said: I grew up swimming competitively and we hung our swimwear everywhere and often by the crotch because that is where the fabric is doubled due to the lining — it’s the best way to dry it! And men wearing speedos was completely normalized, it’s what swimsuits looked like in my day. It wasn’t weird or sexualized or gross. Then I got older and became aware of how gross people find them. I am curious if everyone would have the same reaction to a women’s racing suit hanging up– all the same parts and underwear-ness as a banana hammock just with more fabric and straps?

    3. Santiago*


      I used to be a swimmer, and it’s just clothing. I probably won’t hang up on a public door, but I don’t think it’s a big deal in a closet or something else.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        It’s wet clothing that has been on his crotch. “Just clothing” is not an accurate assessment of the situation. It isn’t in a closet either or the letter never would have been written. The entire issue is that it’s on a doorknob people have to touch to enter this person’s office.

        1. another Hero*

          on his crotch is a red herring imo. I swim laps in a women’s one-piece, and I don’t think people would consider it inappropriate for me to hang my suit from a hook by the crotch or carry it on my own bag hung by the crotch. the weird thing is putting it on a doorknob that regularly needs to be used by others. I’m not saying *this* guy, specifically, isn’t trying to be weird about it, but in general people who swim for exercise are going to be very blase about a speedo. and if you swim your laps before work – often the only available or convenient time – you have to hang your suit during work time. but the doorknob people will be using is a weird choice!

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            Ha, I just posted the same thing as a longtime former swimmer. A woman’s suit is no different, there’s just more of it, and yet I suspect people would react differently. (But again, not on a regular-use doorknob.)

          2. Anon for embarrassment*

            In grad school, I biked several miles each way to campus. I shared an office that was basically just a gigantic room (it really was big) with several other grad students. There was a pile of old departmental debris (like broken or obsolete A/V equipment) next to my desk, out of the way of everyone else’s, so I just hung my cycling clothes on it. I didn’t know what else I could do with them! There were no hooks on the doors and I didn’t want to do that to the other occupants of the office anyway. So the clothes were visible in an unprofessional way (fortunately few academics in the physical sciences care about this). And sometimes kind of gross, because there was not much I could do about that! But at least out of everyone’s way.

          3. Stopgap*

            I’d still be uncomfortable having to touch the crotch of a used women’s swimsuit. “Having to touch” would be the main issue, but “crotch” makes it worse.

        2. GythaOgden*

          Just about all of any pair of Speedos is going to touch some part of the specific anatomy at some point.

          I mean, I’d prefer it if people didn’t leave wet swimwear around the office at all for all sorts of reasons, but arguing this particular point just feels like splitting hairs.

        3. Shirting pearls*

          Lots of clothing comes into contact with one’s crotch: any kind of trousers, car coats, raincoats, etc. Quit the pearl clutching.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s a swimsuit hanging off the chair next to me. At the pool I put it through the water extractor, and when I get home I hang the towel and suit on a chair near the radiator/window, to dry all the way before I put them back in my swim bag.

      I wouldn’t put a suit on the outside of my office door, but I could see a very simple “So I’m in the office, and I need to hang my suit up, so I want a place with good airflow–aha, here’s a hook projecting out into a larger space so there’s more air.” Like, this could be dealt with by a simple “Joe, I don’t need to use a speedo to open your door” with no theories about how bathing suits are inherently creepy.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I have never heard of a water extractor but it sounds extremely cool. Is it just some thing that like squeezes water out of our suits and towels??

        1. bamcheeks*

          It’s a spinner, usually– you put your costume in, hold down the lid and it spins super fast for a couple of minutes and gets a lot of excess water out.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s a little unit that does the spin cycle on a washing machine. Usually located in the locker room for the pool where I live.

          I REALLY notice when this breaks for a couple of days, because what I can hand wring results in a far more sodden suit.

      2. Santiago*

        Exactly, there are other solutions but the “creepy” thing just feels very US-American/puritan. It’s not like it’s inside out.

    5. Trillian*

      I’m a swimmer, also studied pathology, so immured to all kinds of gross, but that’s just bad manners, crotch or hip. I’d arrange for it to keep landing in a sorry little heap on damp carpet in the front of his door.

    6. Also Disturbed*

      Also Disturbed here again. Interesting on the cultural differences related to how people view speedos. Maybe I’ve just had more experiences with male identify people who do things like that. Try to force you into situations where they can put their crotches near or on you. And this felt very similar to that. Regardless, I just don’t think that clothing (or anything) that has been rubbing against your genitals should be displayed publicly at work and on items others have to touch. I am curious if the people who consider a speedo just an article of clothing that is fine for a public door knob would feel the same about a jock strap. To me a speedo, a jock strap, and under wear are no different when it comes to public door knob displays.

  14. Cat Tree*

    I know these are all letters, but here’s a general tip related to LW1 that might be useful to someone out there. When you’re feeling heated, hit “reply” but immediately delete all the recipients so you can’t accidentally send it. THEN write your reply. Then leave it un-sent for a day if possible, or at least an hour. But make sure to do something completely unrelated for a while. Only then come back to it and review your reply, editing if necessary. Then actually send it.

  15. Jade*

    Wet Speeedo IS being creepy. He knows it. He is hanging his garment on his office outer doorknob by the crotch when he literally can put it ANYWHERE else. He knows what he’s doing, that women may have to touch it, that it’s on display for everyone to see. It’s no accident and it’s not normal. It’s no different than the obnoxious guys who put their crotch a few inches from your face at the gym. They both want to be on display.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yeah– the way LW has described this, it seems so self-evidently grim that I am wondering how on earth other people are just laughing it off.

      I usually cycle to work, and about twice a year it’s so wet out that I have soaked-through jacket, leggings and socks and shoes, and I have hung them up on a radiator or the back of an unused chair and apologised to everyone because it’s kind of gross– but like, the alternative is balling them up in my bag and then putting them on still soaking wet to get home. But that’s like, once or twice a year; I apologise for it; it’s only because I need to wear them to get home; I try and find somewhere as out-of-the-way as possible so other people aren’t being confronted by my wet laundry. Wet SWIMMING TRUNKS, on a DOOR HANDLE, that OTHER PEOPLE HAVE TO USE, is so emphatically gross and unnecessary that WTF Bob.

      1. Awkwardness*

        I cycle to work too and have wet clothes/items several times a year. As you describe, I would hang them over a chair, the radiator or the back of the door and remove them soon as possible because my office looks chaotic und unprofessional on those days.
        So the picture of a speedo over the door knob is quite absurd.
        But, to be frank, I do not understand how it is possible to not have one direct conversation with this colleague. “Frank, this is a shared space, and underwear/sportswear hanging in the open to dry gives the impression of college dorm not a professional office. Could you please hang it somewhere else?”
        Trying to solve this through the manager or joking about it is very indirect. I do wonder why nobody in this office feels comfortable to have a direct conversation with their colleague.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Speedo OP (search for op1* in the original post) did clarify in the comments that she doesn’t have to touch the actual Speedo. Most of the time the door is open so she can just walk in, and if it’s closed that means do not disturb. She only has to touch the door if she goes in that office after hours, when the speedo is gone.

      She also didn’t seem to find him personally creepy.

      I think that changes the math for me from ‘definitely creepy’ to ‘possibly oblivious’.

      1. Jaydee*

        Yeah, that makes a difference. I would be grossed out about touching someone else’s wet swimwear (I even don’t love untangling and hanging my husband and son’s suits in the bathroom after we go swimming at a hotel). But “out of sight, out of mind” truly does work for me here and I wouldn’t be at all bothered by touching the door knob absent the Speedo even if the Speedo had been there mere hours before.

        And if the door is usually open, hanging it on the exterior handle probably makes more sense than hanging it on the interior handle, both from an air flow perspective and because again, “out of sight out of mind” could easily mean forgetting your Speedo if it’s hidden on the back of the door.

        1. Jaydee*

          And, I suppose a wet Speedo on the door is a really good way to ensure that a closed door really means do not disturb. Lol

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              I joke about replacing “Do Not Disturb” with “Already Disturbed” and I guess this could be the same joke filed under “show, don’t tell”!

            2. Jaydee*

              I think this should become Alison’s new advice when she gets letters asking how to deal with coworkers/direct reports who come into an office when the door is closed, interrupting focused work, virtual meetings, or even in-person meetings. “Have you considered hanging a wet Speedo by the crotch on your exterior door handle? This should get people to pause long enough to think about whether their interruption is really important enough to justify touching the wet Speedo. Hopefully someone will be willing to brave it if you need to be know that Fergus was injured by an errant llama and the ambulance is on the way. But those questions about formatting the TPS report cover page? Those can wait. Or be an email.”

        2. amoeba*

          Yeah, that does make a difference to me… I mean, if the door is wide open, the outside door know is basically inside his office (and nobody has to touch it, as you said). For me the really weird part was imagining him hanging it on the outside with the door closed (so, on the side he’s not actually on!)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          You really don’t know that he’s not oblivious. This could very easily arise from someone arriving at work with a wet swimsuit for the first time, looking for a spot with good airflow, and then bam it’s a pattern he never thinks about again.

          He hasn’t thought it through from other people’s perspective, but that is a very routine human failing, one many people will correct the first time someone politely points out the issue.

          Like, if you stole the hall-facing doorknob from his office, I bet he would be stymied for a time not because it foiled his dastardly plans, but because now his routine didn’t work and making a new routine is annoying.

          (Some guys would certainly give me a vibe that it was deliberate. But OP says nothing about this, so I am happy to slot it into “Have you never thought about….” and no, the other person has never thought about it because they have a routine that works for them.)

        2. kiki*

          I understand that a lot of male misbehavior gets written off as just obliviousness or awkwardness when it’s actually nefarious. And in the macro-sense, I do think men are socialized differently so they’re “allowed” to miss social conventions about cleanliness and not doing weird stuff like hang your wet speedo on a door handle. But I also think in the micro-sense, just focusing on this colleague, it really is possible he does something like this at home and has not thought about how weird it is to do this in an office.

          From what the LW shared, it sounds like he’s an upstanding coworker in other regards and she does not get any sense of creepiness from him other than this. I think it’s a little unhelpful in this case to jump to assertions that he’s definitely doing this in a creepy way when it’s also plausible he’s really just not thinking about the optics of this at all.

          1. Jade*

            And this is how men get away with things over and over. This should have been shut down from day one. He’s making other staff uncomfortable but no one wants to call him on it. His behavior is consistent with being a creep.

            1. kiki*

              I agree that it should have been called out from day one and it should be called out now because it’s not professional to have damp swimwear hanging around in the office, it’s definitely bad for the floors, and it is making folks uncomfortable. My issue is that, right now, based on what we know about this dude, it does seem like a weird blip so it’d be overkill to accuse him of something untoward at this stage. If folks tell him he has to stop and he refuses, I think that’s one thing, but it seems premature right now to jump to the idea that he gets his jollies from this.

              To be very clear, I think that this should be stopped ASAP– the crotch of it all aside, it’s just weird to have damp swimwear hanging around so visibly in the office– it just seems premature to attribute this habit to something nefarious from the jump.

        3. Parakeet*

          I get the argument that he might be creepy, but asserting that he must be, because men, is fanfiction.

          And yes, before anyone brings it up, I am a sexual violence survivor, so I am well aware that there are plenty of creepy men out there. I stand by my argument.

      2. kiki*

        Yeah, I could see him having started putting the speedo on the doorknob as a way to not forget it on his way home or something and is just oblivious that while that’s fine at home, it’s really, really strange to do in the workplace.

      3. Elsajeni*

        Yeah, I would still not be thrilled about it, but this is not dissimilar to how I handle, say, a damp umbrella and I can see what he’s thinking — my office door is usually open when I’m in there, and it opens inward, thus the outside doorknob is the natural place to hang something like a damp umbrella where it will get a little airflow and also be visible so I remember to take it with me when I leave. (It is still weird and somewhat gross to do with swim trunks! Stick a Command hook somewhere less obtrusive, Bob! But I don’t think it being on the outside of the door implies the sinister/exhibitionist intent that some people are inferring.)

    3. CommanderBanana*

      Or the bosses that other people have written in whose flies JUST SO HAPPEN to always magically come down when they’re around their female coworkers.

  16. kat*

    I have arthritis in both knees and both hips (I’m 40 and I’ve been dealing with this for years). I always wear all black New Balance brand sneakers/runners/athletic shoes however you want to say it.. and I’ve worn them to interviews, client meetings, daily around the office.. and I’ve never in 20 years had anyone comment. I don’t even pre mention I wear them due to medical issues. I can’t wear heels they murder my knees. most flats have no support.. so I wear these. thankfully because they’re all black from a distance they look dressy and with the right pants you barely notice they’re not proper dress shoes.

    1. Shoe Expectations*

      Ha! That’s exactly what I was wearing when I got the side eye for not wearing heels.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Then, IMO, the person who gave you the side eye was being a classist, sexist jerk. I would have zero respect for them.

  17. GythaOgden*

    OP1 — hurt pride is awful but the most you can do here is admit fault, absorb the lesson and move on. I know some people who are fairly terse in email but lovely/relaxed in person and vice versa, but no one in twenty years of being in the workforce has addressed me in that manner, even when I was twice sacked for performance. (Ok, one person came close in the sense that she dealt with my firing paperwork quite brutally, but to give you a frame of reference she was icily polite rather than directly disparaging.)

    Don’t beat your breast or make excessive overtures to the person you upset. Make a sincere apology to them if you haven’t already done so and let them work it out in their own time. Feeling upset about how it was blown out of proportion is ok, but try not to let that feel like an ‘out’ for you to diminish the impact of what you said on others. Use this to move forward and learn how to moderate tone in any conversation and things will get better, but don’t underestimate the feelings of others on the receiving end or those who were also affected by it, otherwise you’ll stew over it for far too long and turn that anger back onto others.

    It’s hard and I’ve learned the lessons over and over again that admitting fault and leaving any sense of injustice at how messages were delivered aside is the easiest way to patch things up in the future. Least said, soonest mended — you’re worth better than stewing over a perceived overreaction to something you admit hurt others and their perception of you as a professional who will have to deal with these kind of things from time to time.

    Shoe OP: I have black trainers/soft soled shoes for formal occasions. I have to wear running shoes while out because of wonky ankles needing support and then a broken ankle that has healed imperfectly. The black ones were a bargain (£30 on Amazon; I have a lace-up pair and a slip-on pair) — they are my ‘indoor’ shoes, and the runners get much more wear and tear by walking outside — but they are much less obtrusive in formal situations and actually more comfortable on indoor surfaces than the runners.

  18. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    1. You *can* come back from a mistake like that. Unprofessional behaviour can be resolved if:

    You apologise promptly
    You make concrete and provable measures to not do it again
    If the response is due to out of work issues you get help
    If the response is due to medical issues you get help
    You make a sustainable effort

    And here’s the most important bit:

    You do all of this knowing you may never get a thank you or well done. You don’t improve your behaviour in order to get praise or forgiveness, you do it because it’s right.

    (And it took me DECADES to learn the last paragraph)

    1. Pita Chips*

      All of the above.

      It took me a while to learn the last bit as well, which is hard. Who doesn’t want to feel their effort rewarded? Ths is where it helps to try and learn some compassion for yourself, which is another hard thing to learn, but worth the effort

  19. The Terrible Tom*

    “it was very slap-dash, grammatically incorrect, and uninformative for new parents as to what exactly this fundraiser is.”

    “They weren’t technically awful or incorrect, just unprofessional and different from our usual OK-ish standards.”

    IDK, sounds to me like you’re not sure how to describe the quality. Was it awful or incorrect, or just “different form our usual OK-ish standards” or not?

    1. WellRed*

      I think she’s trying to be kind but if she were to take a step back and really assess it, she could be very clear on what was wrong with it.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      I can see how both of these statements can be true. It sounds like the information wasn’t wrong per se (date, time, venue and title correct), but there were a lot of grammar and spelling errors, questionable design choices, and context/explanation missing that LW would have put. It also sounds like LW is indeed trying to be kind, and acknowledges that she’s not expecting professional-grade work for a volunteer thing, but it’s still about two steps below the usual standard.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the grammar and spelling is incorrect, the factual information included is correct, but several additional pieces of information that explain the program for newbs are missing, or perhaps in some cases poorly explained.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Yea. Sometimes technically correct and colloquially correct are a zero-sum game and it’s never an easy line to walk.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      Part of my job includes editing my coworkers’ writing. It can definitely be technically correct and not that well done.

      Creating something like what the LW describes can be difficult for a full-grown adult who’s never done it before. I wouldn’t have a teen do it unless they’ve shown an interest/aptitude for that kind of thing, and even then it would have to be with a lot of supervision.

    5. darsynia*

      It sounds like they’re trying not to be mean to the kid who set it up, frankly. They’re not used to being held to professional standards, and if they ever saw this, it would likely hurt their feelings more than an adult whose job it was to do the work.

    6. ferrina*

      I read these two statements as referring to two different parts of the flyer distribution process.
      The first statement “Grammaticaly incorrect and uninformative” was about the writing of the flyer.
      The second statement “Weren’t technically awful” was about the stuffing of the envelopes later on. For example, folding a flyer hot-dog style then into quarters or eighths isn’t technically incorrect, but it is a strange way for a professional organization to fold. There’s a trick to getting the proper thirds folding that a lot of us are used to, and when we see something different, it can feel off. (why yes, I did stuff envelopes for a non-profit as a teenager, how did you know? and yes, I was definitely supervised and had all this explained to me. Years later when I was running the communications, I got it).

  20. vox experentia*

    buy speedoboy a hook he can hang it on. on the inside of the door where it won’t be visible and wont touch the doorknob. ez breezy

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I really suspect this would fix the problem, and that this is someone thinking once “Where can I hang this that has good airflow and won’t be in my way?” and then they had a pattern and didn’t think about it again.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah I mean people don’t always think something is a problem if you don’t actually let them know it’s a problem. I think OP needs to start by asking the guy in question to move his swimming trunks so they’re not on the doorhandle outside and suggest he put them the other side of the door or on a chair back and see how he reacts. Odds are he might well move them. If not then consider what to do about it.

  21. abca*

    I find “I am disgusted with the way this was handled” very different from “I am disgusted with you” and I’m surprised that Alison summarized the letter as if they mean the same. It’s like when you say to your child that you’re disgusted by their behaviour when they smeared poop all over the toilet but that doesn’t mean you’re disgusted with them! Disgusted is still a strong word to use, and I’m not in the US, this may be one of these cultural differences again, but still, I would expect this would have gotten a “hey, that was a pretty strong reaction, best to not use this kind of language at work” and then that’s it. The comment about how you were young seems out of line. Old people can be angry just as much – see the many letters on this site about angry older men who do way way worse than saying they are “disgusted by the way this was handled”.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      When you’re on the receiving end, that’s not a meaningful difference. That’s a semantics game that people who say awful things play to try and diminish the awfulness of what they’ve said.

      1. amoeba*

        Huh? For me, it’s a big, big difference whether somebody tells me “I’m disgusted by this thing that you did” and “You’re disgusting”.

    2. Crunchy Granola*

      You’re correct, though in this case, I’m not sure that matters. I suspect the immediate reaction to reading “disgusted with” had the coworker take it as if it was referring to them on a personal level.

  22. Richie Z*

    I think the speedo thing IS weird and creepy. I think if this letter was written today AG would have a different answer

    1. Myrin*

      I feel like if that were the case, Alison wouldn’t have picked this question for a rerun or if she did, she would’ve expanded upon her answer (which is something she does from time to time).

    2. Katie A*

      Which would be unfortunate if true. The existing answer is short and to the point. It gives the correct answer, which is “use your words” and provides a short script for doing just that.

      What he’s doing is weird and kind of gross, but not inherently creepy. It’s something with a simple fix, and a tangent about how it could be creepy if certain other things were true would only detract from the letter.

      1. Richie Z*

        To me in this case, weird and gross are close enough to creepy as to not make a distinction.

        But I should have clarified – I agree with the advice – I just find it unlikely that the speedo guy is doing all this obliviously.

        1. Myrin*

          From OP’s comments in the original thread, it very much read like “self-absorption”/”obliviousness” to me.

      2. Misty_Meaner*

        “What he’s doing is weird and kind of gross, but not inherently creepy”

        I disagree. I think it’s very creepy to make it a point to make sure I see where your penis has been hanging out, every day. That goes beyond oblivious and into *TO ME* creepy behavior verging on exhibitionism.

  23. CommanderBanana*

    I guess we’ll need to append the “don’t tell coworkers you’re disgusted with them” advice to include a clause allowing it for leaving wet swimwear where coworkers have to see or touch it. Gross.*

    *I assume someone will pop up in the chat to tell me that leaving damp swimwear on your doorknob at work isn’t gross, and I am being judgmental. :D

    1. Pizza Rat*

      I’ll own being judgmental because it is gross. This isn’t the cabin at summer camp, it’s a workplace.

    2. londonedit*

      It’s gross, but I don’t see why the OP can’t just say ‘Mate, can you not leave your wet swimming trunks hanging on the door? No one needs to see that’.

      I’m not sure it’s creepy as such (they’re just swimming trunks) but surely common decency dictates that you don’t hang up your wet sports gear around the office. Find somewhere out of sight to hang it up, or wrap it in a towel until you get home or something.

      Finally, a linguistic point that always tickles me: in US English it’s ‘a Speedo’ but in UK English it’d be ‘Speedos’, as in ‘a pair of Speedos’. We’d be more likely to say ‘swimming trunks’ rather than using the brand name, but if we did then we’d say ‘he’s hanging his Speedos up on the door’.

  24. ferrina*

    I love Alison’s script for LW2. It’s very kind, states exactly what needs to happen without assigning blame, and acknowledges that everyone did their best and it didn’t quite work out so the process is going to shift (not that the people need to change or are wrong). Beautiful!

  25. Mothman*

    I 100% get why the fundraiser was frustrating. I know this is in the past, but I’m confused about one thing: Was the envelope stuffing bad, or was it just the written part? I don’t see how stuffed envelopes could be a major issue!

    Also, I wouldn’t rule out teens writing and handling parts of this in the future (with oversight). I was a teacher, and I had many students who would have hit this out of the park.

    1. Umami*

      I think OP mentioned the stuffing part because it means no one else actually saw what was inside before it was mailed. I think the main takeaway is to always proofread communications – two adults here were too busy to give this project proper oversight, but in the end it created more work and a potential hit to their reputation. Always proof things that are going out, no matter who created it!

      1. kiki*

        That was my read on it too, there wasn’t an issue with the envelope-stuffing except that it meant nobody but the volunteer’s teen saw the documents before they went out.

        Helping by stuffing envelopes probably was an age and developmentally appropriate task for the teen. I wouldn’t bat an eye at a volunteer having their kid handle that aspect. It’s just in this case it meant that nobody except the volunteer’s kid reviewed the documents before they went out

    2. kalli*

      I get the impression it’s more about the teen being “slightly disabled” since that’s not really relevant unless they think it’s impacting her ability to have done this at the expected standard – I’m not sure if the charity was for that disability either (that might be relevant information, but it may not be) such that having that voice creating materials would be seen as inclusive, advantageous or likely to benefit with marketing or clicks etc. The idea that this volunteer is giving this work to the kid because they’re “looking for something productive for them to do” is weird in a way, because if they’re capable enough for ‘create a flyer’ to be a productive task then stuffing envelopes would be boring, an if stuffing envelopes is a productive task at their level then they might not have been the best choice for the flyer even if it wasn’t their parent passing stuff off.

      Alison’s response was using the ‘teen’ descriptor to correlate with less experience/less capacity where that’s not really fair, while without knowing more about the disability we can’t say for sure whether that would impact things either, but also using that would still not address the actual issue of ‘we need this to be correct and within our established standards, which means we need someone with training or experience, and who can do this on time – you and your kid have shown you’re not that’ and maybe it shouldn’t be the mum’s choice whether she keeps this task or not since she’s shown that she isn’t a good judge of that. It is perfectly okay for LW to have gone ‘This was late, below standard, we didn’t have time to check it and you didn’t even bother checking your kid’s work, and it meant a lot of work for senior staff fixing the errors and doing damage control, so in future we’re giving this role to someone else. We can tell people that you’ve stepped down as your kid has aged out, which is normal for parents in our organisation so people won’t think any less of you. If you still have time to help, we can look at other ways you can help, but those might be like selling raffle tickets or staffing a bake sale where you can sign up for a specified time period you can schedule around.’ They’re volunteers, so a full warning process to protect against allegations of discrimination or documenting a process to dismiss for performance isn’t really necessary and often isn’t expected based on the size and resources of the organisation and its non-profit status, and the ramifications of giving another shot would possibly be seen as significant if it did come up.

    3. Colette*

      I agree. I think the issue wasn’t that it was done by a teenager, it was that the organization’s level of oversight was callibrated at “volunteer who had done this multiple times before” and not “inexperienced volunteer” and they didn’t change it because they didn’t know the volunteer wasn’t the one doing it.

      Honestly, I’d seriously consider getting rid of the volunteer for this – or, at the very least, introduce a higher level of oversight.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah it’s sort of dancing around what I think the real message is, which is:
        We assigned this task to you. We expected you to do it, not hand it off to someone else who’d never done it before and then not review it at all either.

        The script focuses on the teen because that’s what actually happened. So it’s focused on what seemed to be the person’s thought process at the time. aka “you thought this was a good thing to give your teen so they could be productive, but if we’d known we would’ve asked you not to”. It’s a different angle aiming for the same outcome from the person in question, and wouldn’t apply if said to anyone other than the specific person in the letter.

  26. Former Mailroom Clerk*

    For #2 – If the fundraiser is largely the same each year, perhaps you could have a template for the info package – each year, you just update the dates/location (if the location has changed), but all the information about the organization and the fundraiser stays the same.

    This way, you can spend time during the non-busy part of the year to get everything perfect, then it becomes much less of a task to put it together come fundraiser time.

    1. Antilles*

      Yeah, that struck me too. If you’re having the fundraiser every year, it likely should be much closer to the “update the date/time” end of the scale than needing to actually add in basic information about the organization like the teenager apparently had to do.

      1. Elsajeni*

        The OP does say “Should I suggest she go back to the previous templates?” — I wonder if there actually is a template, which the mom volunteer has been using in the years that she’s done it, but when she handed the task off to the teenager they somehow either didn’t get that information or didn’t understand that they should use it. (I think this kind of thing is sometimes a shock for young people whose only writing experience has been in school; when you’re used to school expectations about plagiarism and originality, it may not occur to you that you are “allowed” to copy last year’s flyer word-for-word, let alone that that’s actually better than rewriting the whole thing from scratch!)

  27. Misty_Meaner*

    I wish the speedo LW would update us about if Speedo Bob stopped or what happened going forward. I find his behavior somewhere between passive aggressive and creepy… He KNOWS everyone can see what might as well be his underwear, hanging there by the crotch all day and he either is sniggering on the inside or preening to himself about it. It’s gross and honestly I can’t see HR (if there is one) saying, “oh yeah that’s fine feel free to hang ALL your underthings around the office.” I’d get a yardstick and carefully pick them off the knob and elbow into his office and say “You left this on the doorknob” and do it every time you see it until he gets a friggin clue! There is NO WAY he’s “just oblivious” about it. He knows what he’s doing. Or I’d message him every time I needed to talk to him and say, “I need to discuss X with you. Come to my desk, please” and when he says, “just come to my office” respond, “I’m not touching that disgusting doorknob until it’s sanitized!”

    1. Jade*

      Just another “suck it up, he’s oblivious ” that women and girls are forced to tolerate. “That’s just how he is”.

      1. Awkwardness*

        You are reading a lot into this letter.
        I cannot see that OP or one of her colleagues had ever clearly told speedo guy to hang his sportswear somewhere else.
        Who knows, maybe he would be embarrassed this became such a habit for him, maybe he would apologize. Maybe not.
        But unless OP clearly uses her words, there is no “suck it up”.

        1. Misty_Meaner*

          “I cannot see that OP or one of her colleagues had ever clearly told speedo guy to hang his sportswear somewhere else.”

          I think the more important and gobsmacking thing to me is that anyone should HAVE to explicitly tell the man “Hey Bob, don’t HANG YOUR USED, WET SPEEDO ON A DOORKNOB that people may need to use to enter your office.”

  28. Dr. Rebecca*

    I totally feel for the speedo LW, as one of my previous roommates would leave his sopping wet used washcloth over the tub faucet, and if I wanted to switch the water to the shower setting, I’d have to move it. He smelled like wet dog, too. *brb gagging forever at the memory*

  29. cardigarden*

    Was I the only one who immediately, re Speedo Boss, made the connection between the speedo on the doorknob and “hang a tie on the doorknob so I know you have *company*”? That’s what sends it from gross to creepy for me.

  30. Delta Delta*

    #3 – Yes, Speedo Bob is being gross. Also Speedo Bob is behaving like swimmers; oblivious to swimsuits. One of my college roommates was on the water polo team. It was like living in a bathtub. There were puddles of water everywhere. She’d shower and walk to her room without drying off (wearing a robe, but not using a towel) so there’d be water all over the floor. She’d hang her swimsuits over the radiator so they’d dry faster. I’d ask her to stop doing any one of these things and she didn’t seem to get why I didn’t want to stare at three drying swimsuits the second I walked in. Or why I didn’t want to step in puddles of water. Her rationale was that this is just swimming stuff, and swimming is normal, so what’s the big deal. I’ve since moved on and have gone to numerous gyms and health clubs with pools, and without fail, it appears the swimmers sort of exist in their own plane – oblivious to the rest of us with respect to swimming gear and water.

    I’d have said to Bob in no uncertain terms that I didn’t need to touch his crotch-adjacent doorknob, and that he’d need to figure out something else. Bob would likely take “but it’s just a swimsuit” position and I’d point out he can hang it somewhere else. I might use the phrase “crotch knob” to drive home the point.

    1. Talk is Cheap. Please have exact change.*

      ‘Crotch-adjacent doorknob’ and ‘crotch knob’ are genius.

      Absolutely hilarious.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I totally agree. It’s not good form, but it’s very swimmer-y to be oblivious to suits hanging everywhere. You spend hours a day nearly naked and soaked, there’s an endless number of towels and suits at various states of dryness, not to mention the chlorine smell that permeates everywhere. The locker room kind of follows swimmers around. You become pretty desensitized to the whole thing.

  31. Athena*

    Unpopular Opinion:

    More people should know when their actions make someone disgusted.

    I personally feel as though that might be the right amount of Feelings in an email when someone a) screwed you over b) by lying about you c) to your supervisor and d) caused you more work e) over the weekend. That behavior is disgusting.

    She didn’t yell, call them names, or sugarcoat anything. She didn’t swear, get in their face, or even stop working with them. She pressed a series of buttons on a keyboard.

    But then again, I appreciate straight-forwardness and knowing where I stand with people. It probably comes from working in toxic offices where people would tell everyone else except you what their problem is with you.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  32. Talk is Cheap. Please have exact change.*

    LW 3, we need an update!

    So. Very. Gross. And I actually do agree that there is a creep factor to it. EEk.

  33. Cadmium*

    OP #2, are there any parents of younger children in the program that might be interested in becoming volunteers? This sounds like a great opportunity to get someone new involved while relieving some of the workload for the existing volunteer whose child has aged out of the program. It’s a great way to pass along some institutional knowledge that might not be documented anywhere, and knowing that they’d be in more of a mentor/apprentice situation rather than thrown into the full responsibility for a new role might encourage newer parents to sign up as volunteers. It also gives the existing volunteer an “out” without guilt once they’ve essentially trained their replacement.

  34. NotTheSameAaron*

    Having a damp speedo hanging on your office door knob seems more like a “do not Disturb” sign. Perhaps treat it as such and say so?

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