my boss chastised me about my menstrual cramps, putting the Olympics on your resume, 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. My boss chastised me for being in pain from menstrual cramps

I just had something happen at work that I’m fairly insulted by: I got my period this morning and my cramps are extra bad. I thought I threw my painkillers in my purse on the way out the door, but apparently I must have missed because they weren’t there when I got to work. So my cramps continued to get worse and you can definitely see it on my face, but I didn’t want to spend the ridiculous amount that convenience stores charge for a tiny bottle of painkillers. My manager saw that I was in pain and he said, “You need to take care of this because this is unprofessional. It’s unprofessional for you to be in pain on the floor. You need to go to the store and buy painkillers.” (I work in auto sales as a sales consultant. There were absolutely no customers in the dealership at the time and I was in the manager’s office telling him he had a call, so I was wincing while out of view of anyone.)

Needless to say, I feel rather insulted and fairly discriminated against. Was it okay for my manager to say that? Oh and of course, the cramps are bad enough that painkillers aren’t helping anyway, so it was a complete waste of time. Maybe now I’ll just get fired because of my own body that I can’t control.

It’s true that when you’re working with customers (which you weren’t), it’s not great to be visibly in pain. But then the appropriate response from your boss would have been to check in about how you were doing and whether needed anything and whether you should go home, because you are a fellow human who is suffering … not to call you unprofessional for having a body that sometimes experiences pain.

The only way what your manager said would be justified would be if you were, like, lying on the floor grimacing and clutching your sides and loudly cursing your uterus while calling out for the comfort of your mother, and otherwise turning your cramps into a public set piece. Assuming that’s not what was happening, your boss sounds like an ass.


2. My friend has no experience and no portfolio but wants the job

My friend (A) is working a normal office job but apparently likes writing. Two years ago, A applied for a full-time position to write articles for a consumer publication. You don’t need a background in the subject, but need to be able to make a technical subject friendly enough for consumers to understand and apply to their own lives. A does not have a background in the subject or any professional writing experience. However, she was invited to interview because her friend (B) works in the company and recommended her to the manager. Although A passed the first-round interview and received some positive comments on her writing test, she later found out via B that she was ultimately rejected based on lack of experience.

Fast forward to last week, the same position opened up again. B encouraged A to reapply and promised to put in a good word again. This time, the manager informed B to tell A to give up on the position because nothing had changed about her lack of experience, so she would be automatically taken out of consideration. And by that, I mean A has ZERO writing experience. She does some copywriting work during her normal job, but she has never written full articles in a professional capacity. I suggested that if A really wants to be writer, she should create a portfolio of writing samples or do some freelance work during her spare time. She rejected the idea on the grounds that she is too busy to write unless she’s being paid on a full-time basis. She believes she has a gift for translating jargon for the layman and just needs a chance to prove it.

I have past professional writing experience and could tell anyone that even getting an internship would require a portfolio. Yet, she has brushed off all of my advice, thinking that she just needs to wait for an opportunity to land in her lap without any hard work. To make things worse, B continues to praise A, saying that the company made a mistake on passing on her. Maybe A is really an undiscovered talent but if she doesn’t have the portfolio to prove it, who on earth is going to know or care? I’m bewildered that she can say that she likes writing when she actually hasn’t written … anything at all.

As a concerned friend, how do I get A’s head out of the clouds, preferably without hurting her feelings, and is it even worth trying? Is it better to simply stay silent in future? If it matters, we are of similar age.

It doesn’t sound like you can get her head of the clouds. You’ve give her what sounds like good advice, and she’s ignoring it. You can’t force her to believe you.

The nice thing about this dilemma is that she’s going to have to figure it out on her own at some point, or at least she’s likely to, because she’s not going to get the jobs she’s applying for. As someone who has written professionally for years and has hired lots of writers, someone applying for a writing job with no clips, and no apparent interest in creating clips, is basically a non-starter. Writing jobs attract a huge number of applicants, and most of those applicants have published clips. Someone who says they wants to write but has never actually bothered to write on their own is going to get cut in the first round.

Anyway, you’ve tried, she’s ignoring you, and you can in good conscience let it drop. (You might want to tell B that he’s being an ass, though.)


3. Putting the Olympics on your resume

I know this may seem like a silly/weird question, but I’ve enjoyed reading the answers to the ones you’ve indulged before. I’ve been Olympics obsessed lately, and started wondering about the future careers of some of the athletes. I know some of them will be returning to college or going pro in their sports, but what about the ones who retire from professional sports and want to enter the business world? What do you think their resumes would look like? For example, I believe Simone Biles is supposed to attend Cal next year (I think?) If she graduates in four years and then wants to start a career in marketing, can she put the Olympics on her resume? I mean it shows great dedication and perseverance, but doesn’t exactly show her marketing skills. Or do you think these athletes have a better shot at landing a job in the first place because of their “celebrity” status?

People who win medals at the Olympics can put it on their resume for years to come. It’s impressive and unusual enough that it blows through the usual rule about not including awards from when you were 20 years old or whatever. It’s generally not going to be a job qualification, but it’s a human interest thing that lots of hiring managers will love to ask about.

Will it give them a better shot? It shouldn’t, unless they’re applying for jobs that are sports-related. But it may anyway, because hiring managers are human and some of them are overly influenced by this kind of thing.

Of course, if they’re famous enough, they’re not going to be applying jobs the way normal people do.


4. Bad project management forced me to work over Christmas

Thanks to a really terrible project manager about seven of us have to work over Christmas to do a system upgrade—five techies, the PM, and one manager. I’ve already started looking for a new job and have some prospects, so my question isn’t about whether to leave such an awful environment—I’m (hopefully) out shortly into the new year.

My question is: inevitably, the project manager and her manager will try to do something “Christmasy” while we’re working in a lame attempt to improve morale and I want *NO* part of it. How can I politely turn down the lunches, snacks, or other trinkets they’ll try to provide to make up for ruining our Christmas? Frankly, at this point, I want to go in, do my work, and have no other contact with these people—not even trivial social chatter let alone dine with them. I’m at the point where I can barely even be civil to the PM.

In response to the food: “Oh, no thanks, I really want to focus on work so I can get home to spend Christmas with my family.”

But there’s no parallel response that works well for the trinkets, and I wouldn’t spend much energy trying to find one. The issue here isn’t that they’re using trinkets to smooth over bad management; the issue is the bad management itself. So don’t get overly focused on rejecting the attempts at Christmasy stuff, or you risk harming your own reputation in the process. Stay civil and professional, and direct your energy toward getting out of there.


{ 380 comments… read them below }

  1. NoMedalNeeded*

    I hired an intern (in academic research) who had put that she she was in the process of qualifying for the Olympics for her home country and sport on her resume. It was as a little external activities section. It was also relevant as she was being upfront about needing a couple days off to do the final qualifyer and also, a little later, needing more days off to go to the Olympics. All fine by me and I was proud to offer her employment that could support that…and she was a great intern anyway.

    Judging from colleague reaction, Olympics would be a “definitely include” on a resume. They were very impressed.

    1. NoMedalNeeded*

      All told it was an interesting learning experience for me. I imagined that getting to the Olympics was a sea of coachs and country level support, including financial support. Nope. This was all her working alone to get there. Her country could send two women for her sport (a sport that millions engage in casually, but few are elite at), and she worked personally, on her own, no coaches or anything to be one of those two. High determination levels, lots of long term planning and follow through on top of natural talent. She showed those qualities in the job. Like the name says, no medal needed.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        It’s totally legitimate to put serious level participation in sports on your resume – for a young adult, it can show things like team work, perseverance and dedication, ability to take constructive criticism and apply it, etc. etc. It can also explain what would otherwise be a career gap for young adults as well as later-career professionals – eg. if they played professional sports, that’s a job. And if they went to national or international competition, that might have entailed taking a year or more to train full-time, while perhaps only working part time in a role unrelated to their current career.

        Some employers like to hire people who are doing Olympic or national/international level sport – it looks good for them to provide employment for athletes.

        On the other hand, people should be careful – if they are still engaged in their sport – not to make a potential employer be concerned that it would be their primary focus – not unless they are one of those employers that has a program for elite athletes, like I mentioned above. For most employers, finding out a candidate will be away every other week for tournaments or something – that’s not going to play well.

        1. Phryne*

          Even if you never make it to te Olympics, just competing on a national level, it can be useful to explain why it took a longer than usual time graduating as well. (Thinking of Johann Olav Koss who went back to getting a degree in medicine in his thirties after breaking every Olympic record in speed skating)
          I work in higher education and we have a programme for athletes where they can take longer to finish their courses, or can take test remotely, skip a semester and start again.

          ’employers that has a program for elite athletes’
          In my country, the armed forces have this, I imagine elsewhere as well. At least two of our Olympic gymnasts were on the Army payroll.

          1. bamcheeks*

            It’s one of the possible reasons for taking time out of medical training or training part-time as a doctor in the UK. (Because doctors are ridiculous overachievers.)

          2. Laura 4Lemons*

            The US Army has the World Class Athlete Program. The athletes go through basic training and get Army specialities just like anyone else, but a good number of them are almost exclusively assigned to units in Colorado so they can train at the Olympic Training Center.

            Look up Paul Chelimo. He’s a two-time Olympic medallist and still in the Army. He makes appearances at the Expo for the Army Ten Miler. He let my 9 month old daughter hold his silver medal. Warmed my heart!

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              I never knew that. Very interesting. I knew other countries have programs in their military for Olympians but didn’t know the US did. Although it sounds like it’s more Olympics adjacent than Olympics training in the army that other countries seem to do.

          3. Freya*

            We had someone in my high school who probably would have made it to the Olympics (she died after an accident before she could get there); part of what she did to ensure she had time for the necessary training was organise to take her last year of high school over two years instead of one. It was a LOT of work to get there, and something had to give, and better to take the academics slower than to have what gives be the athlete’s mental health!

        2. NoMedalNeeded**

          I totally agree: they should certainly be careful about showing too much focus on the sport in hiring. In my case, there is the certain casualness of academic research support which made it not really matter: as long as she did the work, I didn’t care if she did it in the office or on a bus coming back from the sport. Also in my case, the whole “need to take off for the Olympics” was immediate. Another thing I didn’t realise was that for many sports (and for many countries) athletes only find out they have qualified and are going a couple months or even just a few weeks before the Olympics start. My intern really did need to be upfront and say “If I make this time at the event in a month, I’m going to be going to the Olympics a month later…”

      2. Sci fi fan waves to fencing friends*

        I agree 100%. I’ve been lucky enough to know a few international competitors, and they were “force of nature” level for figuring out projects as well.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        High determination levels, lots of long term planning and follow through on top of natural talent. She showed those qualities in the job.

        As someone who did not personally enjoy organized sports, but saw the benefits my kids got from them, this is what I would expect from an Olympic athlete. You only put in those kind of hours if you’re a self-starter, etc.

      4. Lenora Rose*

        This depends very much on: the country, the sport, and for some sports, the gender. Some sports you cannot possibly get good enough at to qualify without financial support and coaches. Others, the bar is surprisingly low — I mean, you still have to be an elite to the level other people in the same sport notice, but you can do so while working in the same space as non-elites.

        I knew an archer who went to the Olympics. He did get extra coaching and prep, but nothing like to the degree you’d expect – I think the winter before the Olympics he got to rent out the tennis dome (and rearrange fixtures) to keep training in distances the mostly-20 yard indoor range couldn’t support, but that wasn’t something he did or could do every year (I think the tennis dome might no longer exist, too…)

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      A client of ours, who sold bicycles, hired a famous cyclist (cycle racing being very big here). It was obvious that he got the job purely on the strength of his medals, because he proved totally incompetent as far as I could see. He was badly organised, sending us texts at the last minute, and then he started quibbling with my work, when there had never been any complaints previously. Finally I came in one morning to find that he’d called with a stupid question after I had left the night before, and got into an argument with my colleague. He then dropped us and started working with another agency. I happened to have a friend working at that agency, and she told me he chose them because they had hired a friend of his. My boss was very angry, ranting for weeks because the client was one of those that he liked to boast about and he blamed me somehow and refused to believe that the famous cyclist had just been looking for an excuse to drop us.

    3. Barrie*

      I worked with several ex (semi famous) sports people in banking. They are usually hired in sales or relationship management after their career ends as they have good social skills and don’t necessarily need the technical skills, and people are excited to meet them. It felt a bit “show pony” to be honest as they were usually put straight into senior roles with high salaries and were put straight in front of clients – where others that took traditional routes had to work hard to get to that level. In those cases the past sports achievements 100% got them the job and no doubt was on the resume.

      1. Sloanicota*

        That might make sense with a big-name athlete – like it says in the post, famous people don’t get jobs in the same way non-famous-people do – but I’d be really weirded out if I went to a bank meeting and they trotted out, like, a silver medal olympic rower haha! What is this supposed to tell me about my business proposal?? I’m trying to picture “casually” name dropping that into the conversation and expecting it to somehow be a factor in our meeting … now I’m picturing an SNL skit … :D

        1. Antilles*

          I think it really depends on how “semi famous” we’re talking. I can’t speak for Barrie, but in my experience, the ex-athletes who get immediate roles tend to be ones who are pretty recognizable, at least locally. People who played for the local NBA/NFL/MLB team, the quarterback of the local college team, those sort of things. Basically an ex-athlete who would have a decent chance of walking into an average 10-person meeting and have someone on the client’s end go “oh, Bob Jones, I remember that name!” or “oh, I remember when you played for State!”.

          But no, a silver medal Olympic rower likely wouldn’t fall into this category. They might have the other qualities in terms of social skills and drive/focus that others in this thread have talked about, so they’ll be successful long-term, but they don’t have the real name recognition to be the kind of “show pony” that Barrie is describing.

          1. rollyex*

            I have an Olympian friend in cycling who is now in finance in relationship management. I think he won a medal – he definitely won a world championship. He makes serious $ now, after 20 years, and he started at the level of a fresh business school graduate even though he did not go to college. In the sport he came into contact with many wealthy backers of teams and was a good talker, so that’s how he got the job. He retired from elite level competition a year or two earlier than he would have because of the job offer. The people that hired him knew he was competent in general – not sharper than other people, but generally competent in communications and thinking.

            Frankly, entry level hiring in finance (and many fields), if not focused on quant, is so much about drive and teamwork, so many athletes who are not “dumb jocks” fit the profile.

            I recently hired someone for an office job who had only had unpaid internships in offices. No paid white collar work. But see worked at an amusement park for two summers and was a waitress. From the latter two experiences, I knew she had drive, could follow instructions, and be a team player in an office environment.

      2. Laura 4Lemons*

        My spouse is in high-end medical sales. He knows of some companies that give preferential treatment to hiring former elite athletes into sales roles, with the rationale that they will be good at sales because they hate to lose.

    4. Hats Are Great*

      I have a colleague who went to the Olympics! Mid-sized EU country, he was not expected to medal or anything, but he’d won a couple national championships in his country and made the Olympic team. It was just two lines on his resume down at the bottom: “Genovian Llama Wrangling champion, 2010 & 2011; Genovian Olympic Team, Llama Wrangling, 2012.”

      It was the icebreaker in basically all of his interviews before getting down to the business of talking about his (extremely impressive) academic and industry qualifications. We brag about his Olympic experience to other teams, but in-team we mostly tease him about it: “Oh, sure, he goes to the Olympics of Llama Wrangling, but you give him one little Alpaca and everything falls apart!” (He thinks it’s funny or we’d stop.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        I do wonder how differently this would read in different countries. I don’t know enough about how it works; I assume there’s cut-offs for everyone to get to the Olympic level and I’d guess those cutoffs are quite demanding, but I don’t know. Here in the US I’d assume even a non-high-profile sport is probably quite competitive and demanding at the Olympic level, just because there are so many people in a large country. In a small country, are the non-high-profile sports more akin to State Championships or something, perhaps not quite resume-worthy outside the main sports of that country? I’m thinking of the humor around that Jamaican bobsled movie, wherein the guys were all basically walk-ons because it’s not something the country competes in usually so there was no competition for them to get on the team.

        1. rollyex*

          “n a small country, are the non-high-profile sports more akin to State Championships”

          They might be in terms of ability, but not in terms of drive and process focus. I had a friend who left banking to focus on qualifying for the Olympics for a small country that was weak in the sport. She was competent in the sport, but nowhere near national level in, say, the United States. But the process of getting there was quite complex – it involved participation in events around the the world, some politics to qualify, plus a great deal of administration and planning in relation to sponsorships, travel, etc. It was a two-year journey that cost her huge amounts of money.

          Even in the Jamaican bobsled movie, those guys were seriously powerful athletes AND had to train and go through the process. Getting on the team was not that hard. Making it to the Games is another thing.

          Whereas I know state champions in the same sport who were hobbyists. I helped a teammate win one and he just was strongish, not great talent and not long process to get there other than a few years of training and competing while in school.

          If you’re curious about what it takes to get to the Olympics from a small country (again, Jamaica), I’d urge you to listen to this podcast with the first alpine skiing Olympian from that country.

          There are later episodes with him that talk more about it.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          When competing in a sport that your country doesn’t really have a lot of athletes in, it can be easier to get on the “national team” than it would be in a country like the USA or China where they field teams in almost everything (however, that country may not be willing or able to put any financial support into your team), but you can’t get to the Olympics just by being on a national team. Each sport has qualifying events to determine which national teams or individual athletes get to go to the actual Olympics. It’s certainly slightly easier since you aren’t having to also beat out the other athletes from your country to make your country’s team, but you still have to be a good enough athlete to compete on a high level.

          Remember, the Jamaican Bobsled Team weren’t some random Jamaicans who thought it’d be cool to go to the Olympics, they were athletes who were training at an Olympic or near-Olympic level in a different, somewhat-related sport who barely missed the cut to compete in *that* sport at the Olympics. That’s very different than me deciding I’d like to compete in Rhythmic Gymnastics as a 40-something office worker.

          In practice, the way this usually manifests is when rich people with dual citizenship compete in some of the more obscure one person winter sports on behalf of their second-citizenship country. They self-finance their “national” team, basically. If you’re a good (but not “medals contender” good) athlete in a one person snow sport, and you have enough money to have a second passport for one of those nations that lets rich people buy citizenship, sometimes they will also let you compete for them in sports if you fund it yourself.

          Something similar (but without the massive amounts of wealth part) sometimes happens in the lower levels of college competition. Back in the late 60s-early 70s, my dad wanted to keep competing in bowling in college, but he went to a small, specialized SLAC (Harvey Mudd) that was an NAIA school that didn’t really “do sports”. He found an advisor for the bowling team he started so he could go to NAIA nationals. (He placed 2nd in his event at nationals.)

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            To tie it back to the question about job applications, I highly doubt he put his bowling nationals 2nd place on his resume, that being less impressive than an engineering degree for Harvey Mudd when applying for engineering-related jobs. I doubt he even mentioned it when he applied for a job at Nike (much later, as a senior person in his technical and non-bowling-related field), but maybe he threw in a “sports accomplishments” section for that one with his assorted bowling and rally wins even though those aren’t Nike sports. (Now that I think about it, he was involved in rally when applying for jobs as a traffic engineer. I wonder if he did include that sport on his resume at the time since it’s a car sport done on roads. I’ll ask him the next time I see him.)

          2. Phryne*

            Even the US has ‘blind spots’. Speed skating for the longest time was really unpopular in both the US and the UK, top contending countries, which is why small countries like the Netherlands and Norway dominated it for decades. I think the first American to compete on a high level was Shani Davis in the early 2000s.

              1. Phryne*

                So that was 1980, and Davis was 2006… a gap of 26 years. Kinda proves my point that it was unpopular in the US. A country that big and rich can field a major contender in every discipline they put their minds on.

                1. rollyex*

                  ” I think the first American to compete on a high level was Shani Davis in the early 2000s.”

                  Beyond Eric Heiden is his siter Beth Heiden.

                  Also Sheila Young who won three medals in speed skating in one year in the 70s.

                  Apolo Ohno same period as Shani Davis I think.

                  There are other US Olympic medallists in the the sport in the 50s and 60s and maybe earlier.

                  Then between Eric Heiden and Shani Davis the US has had:

                  Dan Jansen – gold in Lillehammer in the 90s.

                  Bonnie Blair – multiple medals over three Games in the 80s and 90s.

                  Your overall point about the Netherlands and Norway as powers is true, but your facts about Shani Davis and US skating history are way way off.

                2. Umami*

                  That was the first who came to mind for me, but there have been other major contributors between him and 2006!

                3. Phryne*

                  And none of that counters my point that even large countries such as the US, China and Russia do not dominate every discipline, thus making the point that population is only one factor in olympic success.

          3. rollyex*

            All this.

            Not “rich” but certainly privileged/upper middle class in terms of money and also privileged to be very good-looking and good-taking is Benji Alexander, first alpine skiing Olympian from Jamaica.

            His looks and communications skills (and marketing experience) helped with obtaining sponsorship in is quest. It wasn’t easy in any way – he had to spend a couple years full time, have some luck, have tremendous drive, and have some good athleticism. But he’d be the first to admit he’d not even been in the running to make the team for a traditional winter sports country.

        3. Phryne*

          I think if differs from sport to sport, but I don’t think you can just walk into the Olympics without some qualifications. You need to compete in some international competitions I think. Also, no internal competition generally also means no facilities and trainers etc.

          The winter Olympics are more clear in this respect, as there are a lot less countries that can compete because these are the kinds of sports that require a a particular climate and/or expensive facilities. You’ll see a lot of tiny European countries doing quite well, as they all grow up on skies/skates from childhood onwards and so talent is easier to find even in a small population.
          Money is a big factor too. My country, the Netherlands, does really well for it’s size due to being rich (and investing some of that in sports) and being in reach of these facilities. We have no mountains or snow here, but a large enough portion of the population can afford skiing holidays to find competitive talent in the population.
          It also depends on the sport. Speed skating for example has a crazy amount of disciplines, all of which you can send several athletes to, so many Olympic competitors, whereas for eg ice hockey you can send a whole team.

    5. rollyex*

      I’ve been friends with or worked with at least five or six Olympians, one or two of whom won medals (not golds I think). It can go on almost any resume if there is space for personal info.

      And if someone is going into any sort of health/sports marketing field, it can be more prominent. If in sports, even lower-levels of accomplishment are relevant.

      Most of my Olympian contacts were extremely successful in other areas of work. That’s not universal of course, but general.

      1. rollyex*

        Adding, for all these people, being an elite athlete was a full-time or major part-time job, so in that regard it deserves space on the resume.

      2. Lauren19*

        If the athlete is so elite that they’re competing at the Olympics — especially for the US or another highly competitive country — they’re at the top of their sport and may have sponsorship deals. Being on this end of the marketing world (contracted talent) is VERY valualbe experience and I would definietely include things like brand appearances, sponsored social, etc. Not everyone is Michael Phelps but every sport has their niche equipment and events and those companies need/want their endorsement.

    6. cindylouwho*

      Yes my partner was a professional athlete who competed on the international stage, which he has on his resume! People love to ask about it.

    7. Happily Retired*

      Re: the comments about lesser-known/ “minor” Olympic sports – I now have an urge to rewatch “Walk, Don’t Run” (Jim Hutton, Samantha Eggar, Cary Grant) about a competitor in the 50k racewalk in the Tokyo Olympics. Fun, charming movie for a cold, damp December weekend!

    8. Ann Nonymous*

      I was on a well-known and prestigious game show. You better believe that I (as well as the majority of the others who have all appeared on the show) have that on my resume!

    9. North American Couch Wizard Society Member*

      I regularly interview applicants for medical residency at the program affiliated with the hospital where I work. Last year a medical student applied who had been an Olympic alternate for her sport. It definitely stood out on her application! Even though our medical specialty isn’t directly sports-related, our interview format has a lot of questions about the ability to work in a team, absorb constructive feedback, and so on, and she referenced those experiences in her answers, which seemed very reasonable.

    10. tamarack & fireweed*

      I agree.

      Not Olympics, and not a CV, but Brian May of Queen included this passage in his astrophysics PhD thesis (which he defended and passed in 2007), which amuses me: “The writing of my thesis was virtually complete in 1974, but the submission was deferred due to various pressures. Having returned to the work in 2006, I am happy to submit a complete and substantially updated thesis in 2007, in which I am now able to offer many new perspectives, because of the research which has taken place between 1974 and the present day.”

  2. Turanga Leela*

    For #3: I’ve known a couple of Olympians, none of them celebrities. I went to law school with a woman who had at least one Olympic gold medal in rowing (maybe more). I’m pretty sure it was just in the “miscellaneous” section of her resume, where the rest of us wrote things like “crossword enthusiast.”

    At least in my field, that kind of impressive achievement is useful for landing your first couple of jobs, because it tells interviewers that you have a record of achievement and you’re not lazy. (Wannabe lawyers interview for jobs while they’re still in law school, so interviewers often don’t have a lot of information to go on.) After that, I don’t know if it makes much of a difference, but it’s fun and memorable.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra*

      Before I left teaching one of my students had a parent competing in the Rio Games (and was an alternate at the Tokyo games). It was a less common summer sport – and a great way to teach the kids that there are lots of ways to be active and excercise.

      Parent was a totally cool person too – but No, we didn’t actually let 5 year old try that sport – it was one of the target events.

    2. Annie*

      My brother is two-time Olympian, so I sort of have an answer here! Being on the national team for his sport was his full-time job for about eight years, so it’s on his resume in the employment section. The Olympics are a bullet point under that entry. Like others have said upthread, it’s been a huge asset for him career-wise.

      1. Cubicle Escapee*

        I know a former swimming Olympian and it instantly made her resume stand out. Most of the managers remembered her specifically because of that (which at a large company is a plus for career advancement). She had mentioned at one point that she was in the pool practicing 8 hours a day plus everything else, so being at that level of competition is worth the recognition.

    3. Lady Ann*

      I had a classmate in college who was a former Olympian. I didn’t know her well, but even at our level of casual acquaintance it was obvious she was having a lot of difficult adjusting from being the best in the world at something to being just a normal person. I remember her talking a lot about not knowing how to move on with her life knowing that she had basically done the coolest thing she would probably ever do in her life, being only in her early 20s and having her whole life ahead of her. I hope other former Olympians are better adjusted.

      1. Erin*

        There have been several swimmers who have spoken about the difficulties of coming back to real life after the Olympics (Allison Schmitt is a notable example). There’s been a big push to have more mental health support from Olympic committees and national sports governing bodies for athletes.

        I hope your classmate is doing well!

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I will take any excuse to tell this story, but Kerri Strug was my program officer when I had a grant from the Department of Justice. She had gone to DC for some political internship originally, and decided to make a career out of it. It looks like she is still there, in a civil service role. She seemed really comfortable in her “normal” life!

      3. Phryne*

        If she was already done in her early twenties, I guess it was something like gymnastics, which probably means she had been competing since she was 10, so it was pretty much her whole life for as long as she could remember. I can imagine the adjustment being a lot harder than for sports like cycling where a lot of athletes don’t come into their peak until they are 18-20 and they can keep doing it until early thirties.

        1. rollyex*

          Depends on context.

          I personally know several US Olympians in cycling all of whom are doing great. Two made big bucks in business. One is dead from cancer, but had some great years as a coach and homemaker after leaving competition. She had a previous career in banking.

          Whereas top-level cyclists, particularly men, from some major cycling powers like Italy, Belgium and France have perhaps have a higher rates of dysfunction after retirement because they were often supported/spoiled from a young age, so have less experience “adulting” than riders from the US. And women riders in general.

          And there are always exceptions. On the sad side, there is a female US Olympic medalist in cycling from the 1984 Games who was, I believe, homeless for a number of years and may still be.

      4. New Jack Karyn*

        I wonder if her being able to talk about it helped her make the adjustment in the long run. I can imagine someone in a similar situation, but not being able to put words to their feelings, and just kind of floundering for a while.

    4. alienor*

      My daughter’s pediatrician was a former Olympic athlete. I’m not sure if it made her a better doctor, but it did make her obsessed with getting kids to play organized sports. At every checkup I got a lecture about how my non-athletic, sports-hating kid needed to be in a sport (she did take dance classes off and on, but apparently that wasn’t good enough). It was so, so irritating – I get that sports can be a positive experience IF you enjoy them and are at least minimally competent at them, but they’re not for everyone and shouldn’t have to be.

      1. allathian*

        I hear you. I would’ve changed pediatricians, or at the very least, complained long and loud to her employer.

        I mean, I get that encouraging kids to exercise is important, and sedentary kids tend to grow into sedentary adults. I guess I’m happy to live in a reasonably walkable city with good public transit.

    5. Over It*

      There was a teacher at my middle school who won a medal (can’t remember if it was silver or bronze) at an Olympic Games in the 80s. Not idea if it was on her resume, but she would bring in the medal once a year for students to see and talk about her experience. As others have pointed out, she was one of the many, many Olympians who is not a household name and needed to have a second career once she retired from her athletic one in her early 20s. But I agree with Alison that the Olympic mega-stars like Simone Biles don’t apply for jobs in the way that the rest of us do. I’m not sure if celebrity pro-athletes even have formal resumes!

      1. The Formatting Queen*

        I am imagining a resume that simply contains a link to their wikipedia page. No other information needed!

    6. Mo*

      I had a boss who was on two Olympic teams for a smaller country. They had it in the other interests section of their resume: Puddlejumping, Genovian Olympic Team Year 1, Year 2. A professor in a completely unrelated field. I never would have known if I hadn’t printed out the CV. I knew they did the sport, but it is one that adults compete in at a club level.

  3. Worldwalker*

    Writing is like any other skill: you need to document it or demonstrate it if you’re using that skill to get a job.

    “I could be a really good plumber; just hire me and I’ll show you” would be ludicrous; so is the idea of getting a job writing without any evidence that you’re qualified.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yeah… but these people think “anyone can write” after all they first learned to “write” when they were five.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        As someone whose job includes a lot of editing, this is definitely not correct. (But such a common attitude!)

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        preach. despite my typos all over this site (i don’t care about casual writing as long as the gist gets across) i write press releases. upper management so very kindly let someone else who had never written one before write one and I was to provide tips. unsurprisingly it was not good and i did the best i could without re-writing it.

        boss was dismayed with the result. im like yo, it’s a skill not just a anyone can do it. boss attributed it to professional development and if someone wants to try something he’s not going to say no. i suggested that the skill is WRITING and appropriate professional development would be perhaps starting with internal documents.

        1. Ama*

          One of the best compliments I ever received about my professional writing was when my boss told me when we’d only been working together for about a year that what she likes about my work is that I always know how to adjust my writing to the audience I’m writing for. Until she said that I didn’t realize that was something other people didn’t always know how to do.

          Now I put it in my cover letter that I am experienced writing for all types of audiences and documents (I give specific examples but I won’t go in to the list here).

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            Once a supervisor told me, “you write more like me than I do!” I’m still not sure whether that was a compliment.

        2. Lola*

          Your experience also speaks to how one type of writing does not always translate to another. I write grants and proposals all the time, with a high level of success. The one time I was asked to write a press release? Ummmmmm, no. It was terrible and I knew it! Fortunately I was able to pass it off to the communications person on my team to fix.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            very true although I think being generally good at communicating info in writing set’s you up to be able to learn to do different types of writing.

            i think with some experience you’d at least be a better pr writer than average :)

      3. RussianInTexas*

        You know, I remember a discussion here last summer (got stuck in my memory for some reason), Friday OT, in which a person asked for suggestions about what kind of flexible part time freelance job she could do, and one commenter kept suggesting “writing, it’s super easy, I do it, they pay me good money for it, everyone can do it and make money on it”, and would not take any rebuttals.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          In some ways that’s sadder than the people who haven’t done any professional writing assuming it’s easy. They at least have a reason to be naive; they literally haven’t any experience. A person who does have the experience having the same line about “it’s easy” has me thinking they’re more likely to plateau. They might have a natural talent for it (or perhaps were lucky in their school teachers knowing how to teach the basics), but they’re also less likely to improve their weak spots if they can’t even recognize that there’s a skill there to hone.

    2. Ugh*

      This. As someone who has written for a living for 20 years, and is now back in school for a different kind of writing, I always find it particularly insulting when people treat the skill of writing well like some kind of innate talent they can pull up as needed.

      The plumbing example is spot in. Or “I’ve always wanted to dabble in open-heart surgery. I bet my friend could vouch for that!”

      1. WellRed*

        Same! The comment forum frequently advises people looking to make some money to “freelance!” In fact, OP suggested the same thing. Yeah, nah. Our freelancers definitely need to be able to produce some published samples.

      2. Knitting Cat Lady*

        Yeah, my job contains technical writing. I’m not particularly good at it, I hate doing it, but it’s about one third of my job. I’m good at explaining technical stuff. When speaking. Getting the same words on paper? Huge struggle.

        I admire people who are good at writing because I know how difficult it is.

        1. Lola*

          The thing that people tend to forget that intelligent people don’t always write well. I work with a lot of brilliants researchers who could spend paragraphs/pages explaining their work. But long doesn’t necessarily mean better. I edit their work heavily, cutting entire paragraphs. The ability to take complicated concepts and translate them to concise and readable for the general audience takes skill.

          1. Freya*

            THIS! I love my nerds, I am one, but advertising copy does not need to read like the intro to a thesis!

      3. Hats Are Great*

        Not too long ago my boss needed a pretty complex document written and handed it to me, saying, “You’re the best writer on the team.” And I was like, “That’s nice of you to say, but I have NO IDEA how to write this type of document. I’m willing to learn, but I’m going to need a mentor or some resources.”

        Just because I crank out legal analysis all day doesn’t mean I can write a technical requirements document. To my boss’s mind, all writing is basically the same, and she was a bit puzzled as to why I couldn’t just … make it appear.

      4. Georgia Sands*

        People say this, but a few years ago I walked into freelance writing without any writing experience whatsoever. I did a couple of “free” articles, three I think, and then found it easy enough to find paid work, including publications in names you’d recognise. It was a lot of work though so not too long ago I switched to a different freelancing job and only do a bit of writing now. Still, it was incredibly easy to walk into it and honestly comparing it with plumbing or heart surgery seems a bit silly – you can’t just walk into those without training the way I did with writing.

        I get people here are saying that you can’t walk into a writing job with no experience whatsoever, but you definitely can’t walk into a plumbing job by the fixing three taps, whereas you can with writing. The bar is definitely so much lower

        1. Wurt*

          I think this may be the kind of low-ball freelance work that’s undermining professionals’ ability to make a living now. I see a lot of people undercharging and getting work and it’s hugely problematic.

        2. Lenora Rose*

          As well as there being different levels of low-lying freelance, there’s also something worth digging into in “Without any writing experience”. You had no professional experience, but it seems unlikely that you hadn’t already in some way fostered an interest in writing and/or had reasons to notice your writing was above standard peer level.

          You know the average person does not in fact enter freelance writing by your path, and seem aware it required a lot of work. You did not pooh-pooh the idea you should have *any* writing in your portfolio before applying to a high end writing role.

          I know of award winning fiction writers who basically walked backwards into success by nearly dumb chance – but even they had *experience* with this thing, had been writing ideas for fun for ages, even if they had no idea their “for fun” work was actually already well above par.

          1. Georgia Sands*

            @Lenora Rose I’m disagreeing here more with lots of people are saying about how difficult writing is to get into and comparing it with becoming a heart surgeon or a plumber, rather then disagreeing with Alison’s response to the OP. I think my three pieces of non-paying work for a portfolio show how easy it is to get into, though absolutely, it did require a lot of work (which the person in the OP seems unwilling or unable to do). Changing job into any field always requires a lot of work though – but it was certainly a lot less than becoming a plumber!

            As for me, I hadn’t written for fun (and I still don’t enjoy it, I like either to get paid or have an audience) but I did have some editing, proof-reading & translation experience of non-fiction in previous jobs, and had always thought “I could do a better job than half these people, it couldn’t be that hard” .

            So perhaps a good chunk of arrogance/ nativity similar to what a lot of people are describing – but it did work for me and I don’t think I’m super talented or amazingly lucky anything. I’m a solid writer but not spectacular, I’d like to think it’s more my ideas that stand out. I joined a few freelancing groups and it wasn’t a super uncommon experience either. My guess is that writers at the top of their fields overestimate how difficult it is for people to get jobs at the bottom. It absolutely is possible for someone to walk into a writing job with little more than a few things they wrote last week, and that’s probably why people think it’s easy to get into – because it can be!

      5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I think the difference is with writing, you absolutely can write without having any qualifications or training beyond basic literacy. You probably can’t write *well* and it’s unlikely that you can get people to pay you money to do it, but nothing’s stopping you from writing a 100-chapter epic in which your dog somehow invents time travel and uses it to travel to the future and joins the crew of the Enterprise and posting it on AO3. (Or, you know, pieces about your field on your LinkedIn page.) Writing well is hard, and getting a job writing for pay is hard and takes a certain level of skill, but just writing stuff without expectation of pay is a very low bar to entry pastime.

        If I just started following my dream of conducting heart surgeries, I’m pretty sure society would band together to stop me. (Plumbing is somewhere in the middle. As a homeowner, there is a certain level of non-trained plumbing work I’ve tackled, and another level I won’t. I certainly couldn’t do it for pay without appropriate training, but society is not going to band together to stop me from replacing my own bathroom faucet without formal training.)

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I am now picturing the classic professional writer’s conundrum applied to plumbing. “I have a great idea for a plumbing fixture! You work out the technical details to get us a working model, and then we will split the immense profits 50-50!”

    4. Antilles*

      These people are thinking “well I know how to write!” based on their normal day-to-day writing (texting, emails, maybe internet commenting) and assuming that translates, failing to realize that professional technical writing is actually a much different skill set than writing casually.

      It’s basically like the people who watch a NASCAR or IndyCar race and think “I could do that” because well, it’s just driving and I do that every day, how hard could it be?

    5. ThatGirl*

      I agree, but I’m also a little bit on the friend’s side for LW2, because copywriting is, in fact, writing experience. It’s inaccurate to say she has zero experience. She may not have the kind of experience the company was looking for! But I am a copywriter (and was a journalist before that), and I have written everything from longform articles to 10-character hashtags. It can cover a pretty wide range!

    6. Velawciraptor*

      The “I’d be a great plumber; hire me and I’ll show you” would be ludicrous, but I’ve seen worse.

      Once upon a time, I kept getting applications for every trial attorney position I was hiring for from someone who had never set foot in a law school, much less been licensed to practice law. They always insisted in their cover letter that they could totally be a great public defender and that they’d even be willing to do us the favor of going to law school at night.

      The postings for these positions ALWAYS made clear that you had to have a JD and a license to practice in our state/alternate means to waive in to our Bar.

      Audacity is always in greater supply than you’d expect.

    7. RagingADHD*

      You also need to spend a lot of time doing it in order to get good at it.

      There is no way A is an actual undiscovered talent or “has a gift” if she has done zero actual writing of things in the last two years, or ever. Everyone who got good grades on their school essays thinks they can write well. No, they can write at a basic level of ordinary communication. That is not exceptional in any way in the real world of professional writing.

      Since we have the Olympics referenced today, it would be like if the second or third fastest person on your high school track team dropped the sport entirely after graduation, and then expected to walk into an Olympic qualifier and place without any training in the interim.

      It’s ludicrous.

  4. nodramalama*

    oh man #4 i would have taken that free food and bring it back to my desk. Give me chocolate and snacks. it doesn’t make up for it but at least i get free stuff

    1. Where’s the Orchestra*

      Yup – you feed me while making me work on a holiday – I’m taking a to-go plate back to my desk. Extra sustenance that I don’t have to find to hopefully speed the process of getting the hades out of dodge.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I’d draw a sharp line between “provide food–and make it really good food” and “stop work so you can all gather and talk about what you’re grateful for.”

    2. WellRed*

      Yep! Take generous portions back to your desk while frequently using Alison’s wording about focusing on work so you can get back to your family.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I totally understand though that when you’ve made it clear you don’t want and shouldn’t have to do something, the little gesture “to make it all alright” really sticks in your craw. It’s NOT alright, and you want to make it clear. Me accepting a slice of pizza does not clear this slate, and even if you apologize / make a speech about how much you appreciate our teamwork – nope, no sell.

  5. Dhaskoi*

    The Olympics question is interesting. You could make an argument that just having qualified (let alone medaled) is evidence of work ethic/focus/personal discipline.

    And I wonder if it would be an asset in certain public facing or networking oriented fields. Being able to say you competed in the Olympics might have currency for someone working in Sales, or PR or similar?

    Also, LW#1, your boss was an ass. End of.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      As soon as I read it was auto sales, I realized I wasn’t surprised. That industry seems especially hard on workers (especially if they aren’t CIS het males).

  6. Decidedly Me*

    For #1 – the boss is absolutely a jerk, but I don’t see discrimination here. Did he know the pain was from cramping and wouldn’t have said anything if you had been wincing in pain from a headache? Does he only comment when women are visibly in pain and not when men are? Etc

    1. MK*

      Also, I cannot help but feel the “I wasn’t serving clients right that minute” is disingenuous. OP was on the floor that whole day, clients could have come in at any point and OP might have not been able to control their facial expressions, let alone do their job effectively while in pain, especially given she was in sales. I think this is one of those cases where the manager’s reaction is so outrageous and inhuman that it obscures the fact that they had a point. No offense, but when you forget painkillers and are at work isn’t the time to take a stand against exorbitant convenience store prices. Or you ask a coworker if they happened to have something.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        PSA to all with a department budget: Stock the first aid cabinet with little packets of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. If you get misogynistic pushback, point out it helps sports enthusiasts too, and anyone does better work out of pain.

        1. Snow Globe*

          Our office used to have that, but it was eventually banned due to the concern that someone might have an adverse reaction to (over-the-counter) medication and the company could be held liable. I think this is ridiculous, but I’m sure a lot of companies would have similar concerns.

          1. Sloanicota*

            It is also possible to OD on at least tylenol, but our company addressed that by having those single-serve packets available in small doses. I think you had to ask to admin for a packet, too. I suppose you’re right that someone could have an allergy or something. Maybe they can have a release waiver, as silly as that sounds – I would sign in a heartbeat! I always keep a little bottle of painkillers in my purse and another at my desk, and I have *still* been caught out more than once.

            1. kalli*

              A lot of places with u18 staff won’t stock it because the adult doses aren’t considered safe for children and they Do Not Want that risk, waiver or no.

              Most of my workplaces have had ibuprofen in the first aid kit, but the cheapest kind that probably came with the kit and may well be out of date, and good luck telling if it had lactose or gluten or sucrose in. It being there mostly low-key reminded people it was okay to take it if they needed it and people just used what they preferred or worked for them.

            1. Dinwar*

              That’s somewhat wild to me. We have a list of medications that are required to be in our first aid kits. Antihistamines, pain killers, and a few others. We’re required to review the expiration dates monthly as well. My view is, the job is dangerous enough that if you’re too stupid to use OTC pain meds properly I really don’t want you on my site.

              In addition, a lot of people I work with get migraines, so we all have a personal container of our (OTC) pain killer of choice. If someone was obviously in pain (which happens; again, migraines) they get as many options as they could want, along with a 20 minute discussion as to the best options for specific pains.

            2. UKDancer*

              Same. I was a first aider in my previous company, the first aid box contained gloves, bandages, dressings, plasters, eyewash and sterile wipes. We were not permitted to put medications of any form in the box or to administer them although we could help people take their own medications.

          2. Phryne*

            My workplace has a big (candy) bowl of paracetamol at the reception desk. Higher education (not in US), and it is for staff and students alike. You just ask and you get some. The only thing is that you have to pick it out of the bowl yourself. If they were to give it to you, they are dispensing. If they just hold up the bowl, it is your own action to take it and they are not liable.

            1. SpaceySteph*

              Is it like… packages, or just like a loose bowl of pills. Regardless, I am laughing at the idea of a candy bowl full of drugs.

              1. Phryne*

                Lol, like Halloween candy!
                no, here it only comes in blister packs, we don’t have loose pills in bottles OTC for paracetamol. So definately individually packaged and I doubt they let you take more than 2 at the time.

        2. Lucia Pacciola*

          2003 called; they want their office supply policies back. Most employers nowadays very intentionally do not offer free painkillers, due to very justified liability concerns.

        3. Distracted Procrastinator*

          We have full boxes of those little packet in the break room at my office and 90% of the employees are men. (Common in our industry.) Pain is not an uncommon thing and it hits us all at different points. It’s not a uterus-having issue. It’s a human one.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, as someone who deals with chronic pain:

        The salesperson being visibly in pain is an immediate quash on my intention to spend a whole lot of money on a major purchase. It is probably going to trip some “you’re being manipulated into feeling you have to take care of them, via getting the extra fancy model” wires in my brain, even if on the top logic level I don’t think that’s what is happening–I’m going to ask if you need me to do something (help you to a chair, call someone, I’ve got Advil in my purse) and then leave.

        Also, really agree that when you forgot the painkillers is not the time to take a stand against exorbitant corner store prices, or airport prices, or Iceland prices.

        1. dobradziewczynka*

          You said it more eloquently that I have – I think because I deal with chronic pain myself I could not get why they did not try to remedy the issue by purchasing the more expensive meds, go back home to get their meds, keep a stash in the dresser or stay home.

          Then again, as other commenters mentioned – could have been a budgeting issue and not having sick time. It’s sad and maddening this person had to tough it out when ill.

      3. Celeste*

        Also, even if the OP wasn’t wincing etc. when customers were around, I don’t know how the boss was supposed to know that. I mean, I think it’s reasonable for the boss to assume it was involuntary, and if so, the OP wouldn’t be able to stop it when customers were there.

        I’m not saying the boss handled it well, because obviously not, but I don’t think the ‘this is fine because customers aren’t around’ thing really works either.

        1. The Guernsey Donkey*

          The boss in LW1 did nothing wrong.

          He did not blame OP for “having a body.” He criticised her because she had a high-end sales position and chose to die on the hill of “I’m not purchasing a small box of painkillers!”

      4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Somebody has had painkillers in every job I’ve worked. And they’ve always been happy to offer them. Just ask the nearest coworker with a big purse if she has a Tylenol.

        1. Bast*

          This is a good point. If someone isn’t worried about squandering one of the 3 or 5 sick days they get in a year, they wouldn’t just have to “tough it out.”

    2. Smithy*

      Yeah, I know this is an older letter and from the tone of the letter – the OP both seems to have a boss that lacks general empathy as well as some fairly severe period pain – which when combined are awful.

      However, for anyone else in a situation where they forget painkillers on the way to a customer facing job that they are hoping to tough out while going through cramps or a headache or other pain – it would be worth asking for the employer’s first aid box/seeing what’s in there. At most places where I’ve worked there have been some packets of both Advil and Aspirin, and while I get that someone might prefer Midol or Excedrin (depending on the nature of the pain), it’s worth giving that a shot.

      1. Other Alice*

        You’ve been lucky then. I worked in places where the first aid kit was empty. At an old job I fell in the parking lot and scraped my knee badly, and they had nothing. I had to walk to the nearest store with blood trickling down my leg to buy gauze and disinfectant.

        It’s worth checking, though. Just don’t take it for granted.

      2. Rebecca*

        Fun fact: For OTC meds, the only real difference between regular pain killers and pain killers marketed for period pain is the addition of caffienne. My father learned this when I was 12 and he was trying to figure out if paying extra for midol instead of no-name acetaminophen was worth it. I started drinking a cup of coffee with my cheap off brand tylenol and it had the exact same effect.

        1. DrMrsC*

          I would add that the dose to clinically treat that level of cramping (a.k.a. Dysmenorrhea) is usually a higher level than what is on the label for OTC meds. You can still use them, but ask your medical provider about what the “off label” or prescription dose would be to address that very specific symptom circumstance.

          1. Smithy*

            I think that’s really good advice for someone with that level of cramping or managing pain such as migraines or other headaches where they’re trying to not leave work frequently. Essentially, if all I have access to are medications commonly found in a first aid kit and other office amenities (i.e. coffee/tea, water, sugar packets or juice if that matters) – what will get me closest to relief from my preferred dosage without harming myself?

            Genuinely, I think the OP was just in a horrible spot of being in a lot of pain with a boss showing no empathy. But for those of us with jobs that demand more of an external face than others, I just hope this provides some MacGyver hacks people can have in mind for days they can’t take sick days/PTO.

            1. The Guernsey Donkey*

              What “empathy” is he supposed to show? “By all means, wreathe in visible agony in a high-end sales position because you refuse to shell
              out five quid for a small box of painkillers”? She is showing atrocious judgment.

              1. tell*

                Yeah, agree. I can’t imagine being in such pain yet having the luxury of refusing to spend a few more bucks for medication on principle.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Midol and Pamprin also contain a diuretic that can help with bloating. You may or may not want or need that, but they’re not identical. (My combo was always two advil and two generic midol, personally.)

        3. Phryne*

          I’ve only once bought expensive branded pain killers especially for period pain. They worked considerably worse than generic paracetamol for me, so never bothered with those again.

        4. Salsa Your Face*

          And, the difference between regular Excedrin and Excedrin migraine is a couple lines of text on the package. The contents are exactly the same. Don’t pay the extra dollar or whatever for the migraine version.

      3. Fiona Orange*

        And if there aren’t any painkillers in the first aid box or anywhere else in the office, and you are in so much pain that you need to lie on the floor, then you should go home as you are unable to work effectively. The boss could have been kinder in his choice of words, but he had a point.

        I say this as someone who got fired from a customer service position because I was in so much pain from a headache one day that I had to lie on the floor or else I would pass out. When the headache first came on, I asked if anyone had any Tylenol or other painkillers, and they did not. My supervisor told me, “You can go home if you’re not feeling well.” However, since I am neurodivergent, I didn’t realize that what she really meant was, “You *should* go home if you’re not feeling well enough to work.”

        It was an unfortunate incident, but I learned some valuable lessons from it:
        1. I need to disclose my nonverbal learning disability at work, and explain how I need people to communicate with me as directly as possible; otherwise it is like texting a land phone: I simply won’t get the message.
        2. If I am sick or in pain to the point that it might affect my ability to do my work, I should go home (or stay home). There is no value to “toughing it out.” True, some people are able to do it, but I have learned the hard way that I am not “some people.”

        1. Bast*

          It can be very difficult to discern what is a genuine request that you leave for the day vs. what is paying lip service to the fact that you really SHOULD go home, but if you do they immediately talk crap because they didn’t expect you to take them up on it. I have had so many bosses that fall into the latter category that it can be hard when you get the rare boss that is the former.

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          Ugh, I am the same way! I never used to realize the subtext of “It would be a good idea,” “I suggest you,” or “You can go home if you” means “Go home!” I’ve taught myself to pick up on them, but I am in my 50s and it has literally taken me this long.

        3. The Guernsey Donkey*

          The boss could have been kinder in his choice of words, but he had a point.

          I am unconvinced the boss was so brusque. OP clearly is angry and has a tendentious writing style. I suspect his message was delivered in a neutral way.

        4. Dahlia*

          The LW was not lying on the floor. Being “on the sales floor” means being out on the place where you sell things, working.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I admit, we had a similar situation at my work and our HR wasn’t very sympathetic either. Coworker was on the floor in front of the ladies’ room. It was a bit out of place for an office, I admit. HR told her she had to either agree to have an ambulance called, or go back to her desk (I’m sure leaving for the day would also have been an option but I assume they were trying to preserve PTO). I remember thinking HR was being harsh but that also lying on the carpet was pretty extreme.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I realize it’s an old letter but OP kind of elides the part where they got down on the floor to lie down. If you haven’t encountered this in a professional space, it’s weirdly shocking and would be out of place almost anywhere honestly. If you’re that sick, although I would try to put it more gently, you probably don’t belong at work.

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            I interpreted “being on the floor” as “being on the sales floor”, not on the horizontal surface that we walk on.

            1. Sloanicota*

              ohhhhh ok that actually makes more sense. I was like “I don’t think the grimacing was the problem, it was probably the crawling around on the floor!”

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                In any customer-focused job (including call centers), the “floor” is where you serve customers. (I think manufacturing often uses similar terminology for where production takes place.)

            2. Manders*

              I also read this initially as being horizontal on the walking surface, and I was puzzled as to why everyone thought this was acceptable? LOL. For the record, I had not had my coffee yet.

            3. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yes, I had to reread it a couple of times but that is definitely what she meant. I still think the boss was an ass, but I was so appalled when I thought at first he was looking at someone lying on the floor in pain and his only response was “this is unprofessional” rather than “Oh my god are you okay!!???”

            4. Fiona Orange*

              I also thought that she was literally lying down on the floor, and I posted a lengthy reply based on personal experience, but then the website ate it. Now that I know what it really meant, I won’t bother to re-write it!

              1. Fiona Orange*

                And….my comment just showed up. Funny how the website sometimes takes a while to show all comments.

          2. Lexi Vipond*

            A former colleague of mine sometimes lay down under her desk at lunchtime when she was pregnant – she did lock the door, but it was a shared office with various supplies on it, and sometimes one of us (eating lunch in the staffroom) would lend our key to someone to nip in and get something, and they’d get a surprise!

      1. Law Bird*

        Yes, if you’re that sick you do not belong at work, but most jobs in the US don’t come with sick leave. So it’s tough luck if you have debilitating pain monthly and only 20 vacation days a year… I get why people come to work anyway.

        In a way, it’s better than if they show up contagious.

        1. tell*

          “…most jobs in the US don’t come with sick leave.”

          A lot don’t – too many don’t – but “most”? Hard to believe.

      2. K.B.*

        sometimes during my period my back will cramp up in a way that will only be fixed by a couple of NSFW stretches – yet another reason why a first aid or wellness room is important. i’m not going to lay on the floor in my open office, but i will do it behind the locked door of the wellness room!

    4. kiki*

      I don’t think there’s a legal case of discrimination here and obviously I don’t know exactly how this boss was with all his employees. But I have observed that a lot of workplace leaders (of all genders) take a less sympathetic approach to menstrual-related pain than any other sort of pain. If somebody had a recent ankle injury and was wincing while they walked, I have a tough time picturing a boss telling them to get it under control and take a Tylenol. (I’m sure somebody has been callous enough to say that, but I think most people would agree they’re a pretty heinous boss).

      Menstrual pain just doesn’t get the same sympathy and I wonder why. Is it because it’s recurring (it’s not a one-off– it will likely continue happening about once per month for years to come)? Is it because ~50% of the population technically go through the same thing but there’s failure to recognize that the level of pain differs for different people? Because the latter is something I have witnessed, even from women. And sometimes even from women who have intensely painful periods– I think the thought is “I pushed through it, so why can’t they?”

      1. Dinwar*

        Maybe not a legal case, but there’s absolutely a moral one. As you say, if this were pain due to any other issue the boss would almost certainly be sympathetic. I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that the boss isn’t basing his assessment off the fact that this is menstral.

        I would be very curious as to what else is going on in this workplace. Is there a pattern of other, more obviously discriminatory behavior? If so, while this by itself doesn’t make a legal case, it would contribute to the overall case.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I’d guess it’s at least partly because the levels of pain differ so much and everybody either has periods or knows somebody who does, so if they and/or those close to them don’t have much pain, they assume everybody else is the same and that they are complaining about slight tummy pains. A lot of people seem unable to grasp that an experience can affect people differently.

        Also, I think there is the fact that it’s something that’s “supposed” to happen, it’s “natural” and doesn’t imply there is “something wrong” with the person, in the sense that there is something wrong if you have a broken ankle or cancer or covid. It’s not a disability or an illness. So I think some people figure “well, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with her, so she shouldn’t be experiencing pain.”

      3. learnedthehardway*

        I think it’s purely because some people think “period = female reproductive system = EWWW. Can’t have anyone seeing THAT aspect of our employees!” Kind of the way Victorians kept pregnant women out of public view whenever possible.

        In the manager’s case, it was a juvenile response, as well as very callous.

      4. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I think a lot of the reason it’s brushed off is the reoccurring aspect. If you talk to other people with chronic pain, you’ll hear stories of sympathy decreasing over time. It’s like if this is your “normal” you should just be able to deal with it, no matter how debilitating “it” is.

      5. Burger Bob*

        I think it’s multifactorial. Part of it is the recurring nature. As someone else mentioned, chronic pain gets less sympathy over time. There’s somewhat of a thought that if this is something that you’ve dealt with dozens and dozens of times in your life, then you should have a routine down for dealing with it by now. Part of it is the it can be a very different experience for different people, so people can wind up thinking they are talking about the same pain levels when they’re not. And I think part of it is also the temporary nature. Severe cramps usually only last a day or two. I can see someone thinking that if it’s really that bad, you should just take a sick day until you’re better (never considering how slim PTO can be for many workers and how they might be incentivized to try to push through the pain).

      6. Turquoisecow*

        I think there’s a few reasons. People who don’t menstruate might have trouble understanding or sympathizing with something they haven’t experience. Plenty of people don’t have painful periods – I usually don’t – or don’t have them frequently (I get mild cramps occasionally and really bad cramps very rarely) so it’s easy for them to not comprehend that others are experiencing something different. If boss had only been around women who didn’t experience debilitating pain, he might be thinking “my sister/mom/wife/etc doesn’t have this issue, my employee is just being a baby about this.” (Which is partly because many people hide their period pain from others, perhaps because some other people react with disgust.) so if the women in his life are not experiencing or not expressing that they’re having painful periods, he may think OP is over dramatic.

        And of course there’s also the issue that adults should be expected to put aside this stuff and deal with it while at work. If OP had a migraine or someone had a broken arm, you either stay home and heal or take painkillers and suck it up, you don’t go to work and whine about how much it hurts. (Not that OP was whining, but expressing pain openly by wincing could be seen as a similar thing.)

      7. Nobby Nobbs*

        Beyond what everyone else said, I think the word “cramps” has a lot to answer for. Whoever decided to use the same word for that stitch in your side when you run too far and debilitating abdominal pain was an idiot.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this.

          One of my friends had severe menstrual pains every month. Thank goodness we have decent sick leave here, so although she regularly missed a day or two of work every month, it didn’t affect her job prospects.

          She finally got a hysterectomy when she was 33 when she’d had two kids and decided she didn’t want any more, even if pregnancy came with the added advantage of no periods. Doctors were reluctant to do the surgery to eliminate her period pains, and only signed for it when she told them that she’d given birth vaginally to two children without any medical anesthesia, and at no point did her labor pains match the menstrual pains she suffered every month.

    5. Lucia Pacciola*

      Coworkers are people too. If customers shouldn’t be dealing with someone who’s visibly in pain, neither should colleagues.

      The obvious, grown-up solution for LW#1 was to take the L, overpay for painkillers this one time, and handle their business.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Based on your phrasing… do you really think being in severe pain is childish and the OP was a loser? Do you think being in pain in front of others is inhumane to the people witnessing?

        If this is not what you mean, this IS how it comes across.

        The issue with being in pain in front of customers is specifically that it can take the focus away from the purchase they are interested in and may also get in the way of conveying actual information to them. It’s not because being in pain in front of them is treating them as if they are not people.

    6. lilsheba*

      And I find it insane that a MAN said this, when men are more than likely to be “dying” from the worst case of man flu ever encountered, while having a mild cold. It would be great to outfit him with one of those things that show men what labor can be like, it simulates it. Have it adjustable so it’s not labor level but cramp level, and see how he likes it.

      1. Fiona Orange*

        My mom often says, “God knew what She was doing when She picked women to be the ones to have the babies.”

    7. le teacher*

      I also get excruciating cramps, and have even passed out from pain once. I’ve had plenty of appointments and scans and there is no underlying issue, just bad pain. Painkillers work for me. I do think it is the responsibility of the person to ensure they have a bottle of painkillers with them, or just suck it up and buy a bottle from a nearby store. Or even ask around and see if anyone has some. It is just another part of life – taking care of ailments or pains.

      1. Pounce de Lion*

        I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that this person decided to suffer miserable pain all day—so miserable that it disturbed co-workers. Where’s the self-care?

        1. Esmae*

          Self-care doesn’t pay the bills if you don’t get much PTO. With chronic or recurring pain, sometimes working through it is the only option.

          1. Gemstones*

            But the OP had the option of buying some painkillers; she just chose not to…that’s what I don’t understand. That would have eliminated the issue altogether. The only person really being punished was her!

            1. pope suburban*

              I wonder if the job paid poorly enough that an expensive bottle of painkillers from the convenience store would have caused a disruption in their budget. Lord knows I have been in many situations where I was living on ramen and paying the electric bill with the red on it. It was hard slogging to be a recent grad in 2008 and it’s easy for me to imagine a situation where this kind of self-care is not really accessible, either in terms of money or your job’s schedule flex/PTO availability. I can’t speculate as to this LW’s situation specifically, but something about their approach to buying painkillers reminded me of those times in my life. I know I’m preaching to the choir on this blog, but employees are human beings, and if you can’t pay them fairly and treat them like people, then you shouldn’t be in business.

              1. Gemstones*

                But then why not say that, at least in the letter to Alison? Or explain to the boss (or ask if someone else had painkillers)? It’s not an ideal situation, but the LW seems to have chosen the most intentionally passive-aggressive way to go about it…

                1. Courageous cat*

                  Yeah, I don’t think it’s necessarily helpful to assume she’s living in poverty. It sounded more like a principled thing than quite literally not being able to afford a $5 bottle of pills.

              2. starsaphire*

                I’m with you on this too – my assumption was immediately “that $5 was my lunch money” not “ew, I won’t pay those prices.”

                But then I, too, have been in the situation where I was trying to get a week’s worth of meals out of a pound of lentils, and only paying the bills in the pink/red envelopes. I don’t think it’s arrogance at all.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, and I would be willing to bet her productivity at work suffered due to the pain as well, which is maybe what the boss was really complaining about and expressed poorly.

        If you’re in pain and painkillers help, take the painkillers. As a kid, I would whine to my mom I had a headache and the first thing she’d say was “have you taken anything? If not, do that.” There’s a solution available to you, use it.

        1. Gemstones*

          Yeah, this…LW had solutions. Ask someone for a painkiller. Buy a bottle. Or if she absolutely can’t work, explain what’s going on to the boss, ask if she can go home. Basically, find some way to deal with it.

    8. LCH*

      for #1 all i could think was, your company needs to have a first aid kit. everywhere i’ve worked has had a little area of quick items for staff. painkillers and bandaids at the very least.

  7. Lilo*

    I once read the resume of a lawyer who noted in his miscellaneous facts that he had placed in a major dance competition. He was hired. Was it a deciding factor? No, it was a small detail in a solid resume. But as a single miscellaneous line it did make him memorable and we did ask him about it after he was hired and even watched some video of his dancing. It’s pretty for there to be a college/law school gap so no one would have questioned it, but it did explain that he had worked as a dancer then retired.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Yeah, we had a candidate who put on his resume that he was part of a drum line group (with a link to a performance). We didn’t end up hiring him, but it did make him stand out/got him into the screening round.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      We had a receptionist who had been a member of a well known champion college gymnastics team. I’m sure it wasn’t the main factor in her being hired, but it did help to know that she was a hardworking person who was able to keep a poised appearance under pressure.

    3. cindylouwho*

      My father hires a lot of people in his job (large engineering firm), and he said he enjoys seeing people who have been involved in a sport or athletic endeavor at a high level because it signals to him high levels of discipline and self-starter attitude. Obviously, it’s a small piece of the pie when hiring people with technical skills, but it’s still something he notices.

      1. PhilG*

        Nephew got an engineering degree from a major university while playing 4 years Div. 1 baseball. Got drafted and made it to triple-A before going back for a graduate degree. Manages civil engineering projects all around the world. Perfect example of your point.

  8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (writer without portfolio) – I think B has more of the “blame” here, as it seems like they are better placed than OP to have had the conversation with A about lack of experience and actually creating a portfolio. If I were B’s manager (or whoever B talked to to make the recommendation of hiring A) I’d be raising an eyebrow about their judgement after the second approach.

    Why isn’t A able to create portfolio pieces on their own time? – in tech for instance it is common to spend your own time on portfolio projects to develop and showcase knowledge of things you don’t necessarily do in your job. Ths opportunities must be out there, even if you (A) have to create them yourself.

    1. Clare*

      So in the tech example above, many people do independently create portfolio pieces and that’s considered very normal and a valid show of skill. Is it the same in technical writing?

      If A created a never-published portfolio of articles about imaginary products or wrote their own articles about existing ones, would they be considered valid? Or would they be dismissed for not being written to a deadline, being the author’s chosen topic and therefore ‘easier’, etc? Does A need to go so far as volunteer work, or is a theoretical portfolio enough? Would self-publishing a blog get A over the line, or only if it’s AAM-sized?

      It’s not my field so I’m curious.

      1. Working*

        Clare: it is absolutely standard for someone wanting a communications/writing job to have a portfolio of work.

        As a hiring manager, I have never cared whether they are for-hire, freelance or personal projects.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Can I ask – when you say “portfolio” I picture that as an arts thing, like I think it’s either a huge binder with physical design projects or it’s a curated website type thing. I have done freelance writing, although it’s not my focus, and I have “clips” but it’s just PDF attachments of past projects. Are you seeing like, real “portfolios” for writing, or is this just a list of links at the bottom of a cover letter?

          1. alienor*

            A lot of writers do have a portfolio site, especially if they’re in advertising or anything with a visual component so they can show how their writing supported a campaign concept. Even for articles, it’s easier if you have them gathered in one place (as PDFs or links) and can provide a single URL instead of a bunch of attachments.

          2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            Since my stuff isn’t published I don’t have links and often can’t show on a site, so I do have a “portfolio”. This looks like a book or slide deck where my samples are corralled in one place, and I send a PDF of that. That way all my stuff is together and given context.

            The slides have a title and purpose the work plus visual snippets or excerpts of the content — maybe part of a page or a couple of pages. Short-form marketing copy is ideal for this, long-form is harder, so if they ask for a long sample I can send as a separate attachment. (I’ve also done a vertical book version, which allowed me to combine all my PDFs together. A cover page for each client or project, followed by related pages.)

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I’m not exactly a writer, but a translator. So I write, but it’s not my own ideas. I just put other people’s ideas in written form in English for them. I have several sample translations in my profile on all the translator websites I’m registered on, and wouldn’t dream of not showing what I’m capable of doing. Translation is like writing in that people think anyone can do it (provided they speak at least two languages). They think that working in a London pub for a few months equates to fluency in English and think that gives them the autority to question my translation, when I lived in the UK for my entire childhood and have a master in translation and nearly 30 years’ experience. So you need to show that you can do a better job than all the “bilingual” wannabes.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        School research papers can demonstrate how a writer organizes ideas and explains concepts. So can a teacher’s lesson plans.

        A blog article on a DIY website can do the same. Carpentry, computer tips, cooking, crochet — if we read it and duplicate the craft it’s at least a good start for technical writing.

        I hold that Julia Child was the most famous technical writer of the 20th century.

    2. Deuce of Gears*

      Not that type of writing and a hilarious exception I experienced that really ~proves the point – I’m a novelist (and short story writer) and I once landed a gig with Big Company to write, hmm, let’s call it a short textbook piece for a specific audience. In my onboarding call it turns out that the person overseeing me and who had decided to reach out to my literary agent had not read ANYTHING I had ever written and admitted this. I got hired on the strength of ~reputation relevant to specific audience + New York Times bestseller + a couple genre-specific awards.

      I wasn’t offended as such, just baffled – I know you’re very busy but wouldn’t you at least want to read a *chapter* of one of my ~relevant books to make sure I’m a good fit? Or even the *first page*? I guess “New York Times bestseller” stood in for “can probably write a coherent sentence,” which, fine, but…given the pay rate I personally would have done a little more homework…

      (I ended up having to bow out and take the kill fee because of medical reasons; I’d turned in three complete drafts due to some of the unusual challenges involved, and we agreed that this was fair. I imagine they hired someone else to finish the job.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        I admit, some of my writing jobs no doubt come from being a novelist, but like an Olympian at the bank, I don’t actually think that many of the skills crossover between branded technical writing and creative fiction … I assume the hiring managers are human and vulnerable to being a bit star-struck, which does seem a little silly.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I guess there’s a wacky outside chance A will apply for enough jobs in this area that ask A to do a writing exercise (rather than asking for an existing sample), that A will accumulate samples just by applying and failing. But that’ll take at least 10x longer than just doing it.

      And yeah, B’s encouragement is part of the problem.

  9. kalli*

    Absolutely all the pro sports people I know are strongly encouraged to study while playing, and even after the rookie year orientation and lifestyle and training courses, are offered qualifications and trainings while playing – one team I had friends on had a real estate training course every off-season, on top of that league requiring every rookie to enrol in uni or equivalent (even if a lot studied human movement, physio or similar; the major unis had an accommodation stream for professional players from all sports that gave them flexibility with classes and study loads so they really had no excuse not to at least try). That way they finished their career with at least one useful qualification, a resume without a big gap only filled by ‘played sportsball’, and could earn money even if they didn’t make representative level and come out with a media deal or sponsorships. Their resumes look 100% like a normal person’s; some put ‘played for x team’ as a position if they don’t have a lot else going on, but many don’t need to and can choose whether they want to bring it up or not. My best friend did the real estate training, went straight into sales when he retired, and is now a director at a 1500+ enterprise where he manages the entire sales team. Did I mention the real estate training was paid for by the club? And his uni fees on top of his salary and board? Most sports with money enough to make their players full time have learnt to invest in the players like that so they don’t end up like retired racehorses unless they have a chronic injury, which many sports are still catching up on due to not having been required to have workers comp or post-career support until recently, if at all.

  10. Despachito*

    3 – the Olympics: I think it shows certain qualities (I assume you can’t be a lazy slob to get that far in sports), and explains some lack of experience (the person was preparing for the Olympics, not lying on their couch twiddling their thumbs).

    So I think for these two it is worth including in a CV.

  11. Lemon*

    I’m involved in elite sport, and have a number of friends who are Olympians. They definitely include it in their resumes. Sometimes it explains a gap, or lack of career progression (from all the travelling & overseas competition involved!). Sometimes it’s because they’re using it for wow factor, or to appeal to a company’s PR side. It definitely gets you further in a sports administration career.
    In Australia, you can also apply to have the letters OLY titled next to your name, in the same way you would if you were awarded an OAM, AM, OBE etc.

    1. GythaOgden*

      There’s a good book about it from a former, non-superstar British Olympian. Most of the book is about their experience training, working with sponsorship, at the Olympics, the shenanigans at the Olympic village (unsurprisingly, the main draw of the book) and so on, but there is a chapter at the end about how to come down from a pro career and find a normal job. (Can’t remember the name offhand but it’s not a big name.) There are organisations that help find something and adjust to non-pro sports life, just like I’d expect there to be for veterans/ex-Forces.

  12. bamcheeks*

    There’s Olympians and Olympians! One of the fascinating things about the Olympics is that in some sports, it takes a lifetime’s dedication and a team of dozens people to put you on the stand. In others, it’s several hours after work each week, a lot of fundraising and PR in your community, and a ton of research figuring out if this is even possible and if so how. So the skills you’ll get will be very different depending on the sport, whether it’s something you do individually or as a team, how intense the competition is, what funding is available and what level of performance is required to get it Olympic standard.

    But if you look at someone like Biles, she’s probably effectively been leading a team and making management-level decisions about her performance, sponsorships, strategy, training, brand, media coverage, various charities and endowments in her name, etc for nearly a decade. Obviously when she was fifteen she wouldn’t have been controlling all of that, but at 26 I’m sure she’s pretty much been CEO of BilesInc for several years. I think it would be wild to think that kind of experience only applies in the sports field!

  13. Splendid!*

    When working on the OilRigs, we were forced to work over Christmas AND New Year, this was normally an absolute no no. You worked one or the other not both. Due to incompetent spineless management, they allowed people to just not turn up for their 2 week stint forcing us to stay on the rigs.
    When we came back, they attempted to make amends by having a pathetic lunch spread – think sandwich packets, crisps and cans of coke, they also gave us “presents” a logo’d pen and penknife and a Pecan Pie.
    The 8 of us ignored the lunch saying we were going to the Airport straight away and most of us dumped the presents in the receptionist’s waste bin and gave her the Pecan pies stacked on her desk.
    We went to the Airport – even the ones on later flights – had some beers, some decent food and a good laugh. Allegedly one of the managers attempted to take back the pies. I’m also positive someone would have raked through the bin to get the pens etc back.
    None of us were working for that company when the holiday season rolled around again

    1. Splendid!*

      Ooh, before I forget, the Pecan Pies were rectangular in shape, we needed to almost physically restrain one of the older guys who had kids from ramming his pie up the exhaust pipe of the CEO’s car.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        The Pecan Pies were the cherry on top of bad management. You missed a major holiday with your family and store bought pie is going to make everyone feel better? Even better is the image of a manager fighting a receptionist for the pies.

    2. RVA Cat*

      It still wouldn’t be enough, but they should have just upgraded all of your flights home to first class.

    1. Slartibartfast*

      All those people signed up for that. OP did not. They have every right to complain, and just because you did it quite frankly doesn’t mean anything.

      Husband was a police officer 30 years, I’ve been medical in some capacity for 20, and retail before that. We have done nights, weekends, holidays and had Santa come to our house first on Christmas Eve when a parent wouldn’t be home Christmas day. So I’ve lived it first hand. You deal, because it’s the choice YOU made. OP has a legitimate grievance and your take is part of the problem.

      1. Nebula*

        +1, and I think Splendid!’s comment above is also a really good example of how even if you are in a job that requires difficult hours/scheduling, the problem isn’t just ‘having to work over Christmas’ but working over Christmas when that isn’t what was agreed or isn’t usually expected. Huge difference.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Right, the one consolation of being an essential worker and having to work holidays is knowing that people really do need access to medical care / have all sorts of emergencies during the holidays, so having the hospitals open is critical to the running of society. If the OP for this letter works in a nonessential office job, knowing your time is being wasted just to try to make some rich guy who doesn’t care about you even richer is a bitter pill.

          1. kalli*

            The other is usually some benefit bundled in a pay package, whether it’s as overt as public holiday rates or oblique as equivalent leave for any day worked that’s a public holiday or slightly higher total package than someone who works 9-5 with holidays and weekends off but otherwise the same kind of role. Obviously pay packets aren’t always perfect at bringing parity or truly making up for the difference, but when it is part of the job there is usually some acknowledgement of that somewhere in the total package.

          2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yes, I didn’t mind so much being called in for Christmas for an emergency, but if they said the TPS reports needed to get done well fick them

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, setting things up so the consequences of a high-ranking person’s bad planning all fall on lower-ranking people is a valid reason to be annoyed.

      2. Chili Heeler*

        Wow. That was rude and uncalled for.

        There’s always someone who has it “worse” and that doesn’t have anything to do with OP. They’re missing out on a day off they’d been planning on because someone else didn’t do their job well.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      No, nuh-uh. You don’t get into a medical or emergency field without knowing there will be nights, weekends, holidays. There’s a big difference between choosing that, and taking a standard M-F 9-5 and having someone else’s incompetence unexpectedly requiring surprise overtime. Totally reasonable to be ticked about that someone trying to be cutesy about it and be all “yes, I screwed up your plans but here’s a candy bar to make it all better.”

    3. Hazelthyme*

      What Dog momma said. My brothers are firefighters, and my best friend is an RN. People usually coordinate schedules so no one person is working Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, but you’re probably not getting all 3 off, either.

      I work in tech, like the OP. While weekend/evening/holiday work isn’t as consistent as it is for first responders/emergency services personnel, it’s not uncommon to have someone on call in case a critical system goes down. And if you’re installing a new system or major software upgrade, you need to do it when it will cause the least inconvenience to users — and if that’s over a holiday and/or in the middle of the night, oh well.

      1. Jackalope*

        Nope. As someone who had a family member in a career that meant working on holidays, and who had a prior job where I had to work on holidays as well, it’s not the same. No one is going to die if they don’t do the systems upgrade on Christmas itself, unlike with health care workers. No one will be stranded and unable to get home, unlike with bus drivers. Etc. Maybe YOU were fine with working on holidays, but this person obviously was not, and a systems upgrade is something that can wait.

        Obviously, if they had asked for volunteers and found people who, say, don’t celebrate Christmas or wanted holiday overtime or what have you, that would have been a different story. But that’s clearly not what happened.

      2. kiki*

        I think there’s a difference between agreeing to work over holidays to cover emergency and life-saving situations and having to work over Christmas because somebody else bungled their timeline. Especially in a job where you’d expect to have off. Time off is also something people consider when negotiating their compensation. If I were to take a job where the expectation is that I’d be working holidays, nights, or weekends on the regular, I would have negotiated for a slightly higher salary.

      3. MicroManagered*

        Yeah, this was kind of my take too. I work very closely with IT in my job and was also married to an IT professional for a time. While certainly unusual and not at all ideal, it really *is* at least a fractional part of many IT jobs that if something goes sideways, you might have to work some unusual hours that could include nights, weekends, or holidays.

        Everyone attacking Dog Momma saying that RN’s “signed up for it” seem to not understand that IT jobs can and do have a similar “essential or emergency” component to them.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Read the comment right after yours by Hlao-roo, then revisit.

          More, “Suck it up” is still never the right response.

          1. MicroManagered*

            I read it (after I made the comment you’re replying to) and it 100% doesn’t change what I said above. Unusual hours are absolutely part of some IT roles. My point stands.

            However, there’s certainly more info that have been included in the letter that I think would have changed the advice and my comments on that were already posted at the time you wrote this. ;)

      4. Hlao-roo*

        The OP left more context in a comment on the original thread (under the commenting name “CJ”). I think the most important part is:

        just after Thanksgiving we were told that we had to have a four day system upgrade and would have to either work over Christmas or New Year’s weekend, including the holiday itself (starting Christmas eve or New Year’s eve). Our manager asked us to vote on which of the two we wanted, and all five team members chose New Year’s instead of Christmas.

        The DAY BEFORE Christmas Eve we were told that we couldn’t do the upgrade over New Year’s and had to do it Christmas Eve through the Sunday after Christmas. When we asked why, … we were told “it’s a management decision–that’s all we can say”.

        Well, being I.T. people who pretty much have access to everything it wasn’t too long before we found out that the PM’s contract has a provision that she receives a bonus only if the project is fully completed and in-place by midnight, December 31.

        Would you (or your firefighter brothers or RN best friend) feel just “oh well” about a similar scheduling situation at your workplace? I don’t work in tech/IT, but CJ’s situation seems out of the normal “sometimes you work on holidays/have to be on-call” job requirements.

        1. Nebula*

          Oh wow, that is breathtakingly awful. Hope the LW got out of that job because I would struggle to remain civil with someone who had screwed me over to get a bonus like that.

        2. MicroManagered*

          For me, this actually proves the opposite… so they KNEW that they’d have to work on either Xmas or New Years and are just upset they didn’t get the one they all voted for.

          That’s VERY VERY different than the interpretation some commenters are using, where this is a job with zero expectation to ever work on a holiday.

          The manager made a mistake in putting it to a vote. If they had simply said “sorry but we have to complete this over Christmas” the rest probably would be moot.

          And of course it doesn’t need to be said that using their system access to dig into the bonus thing was completely inappropriate. At my job it would be a terminable offense.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            No, they’re not upset they didn’t get their pick. They’re upset about a bait and switch.

            They put it to vote and selected New Years. Then the DAY BEFORE they were told too bad and by all appearance it was because the PM wanted their bonus.

            Pretty sure anyone would be miffed by a last minute bait and switch.

            1. MicroManagered*

              Oh for sure! That’s why I said the real problem was putting it to a vote.

              I also focused on the bonus thing and missed the part about finding out on the day before Christmas Eve… I think on that basis alone, they had standing to push back and say we already made travel plans, etc. and are just not available to change on that timetable.

              1. Persephone*

                I think there’s still a difference between finding out weeks in advance (which I think was OP’s original scenario, when the team cast their votes) and knowing when you chose to enter a field.

          2. Hlao-roo*

            I didn’t copy the whole comment for brevity’s sake, and I agree that if the manager did not put it to a vote and instead said “sorry but we have to complete this over Christmas” there wouldn’t be any problems. The problem isn’t working over Christmas, in and of itself (according to the OP, who mentioned in their comment “I KNOW that system upgrades always take place over quiet periods and have worked many holidays, weekends, etc. with no complaints.”).

            The problem is the last minute switch from working New Year’s to working Christmas specifically so the Project Manager could get a bonus. (I imagine people still would have been unhappy, but less so, if the reason for the switch was “the mainframe will melt down in two days” or “customer X changed their timeline last minute.”) The OP mentions that because the change was last minute “a) this meant canceling a lot Christmas plans that had already been made and b) meant it was too late to plan a lot of the things we wanted to do over New Year’s but gave up due to the original plan”

            1. MicroManagered*

              I did miss the fact that they found out the day before Christmas Eve because I was focused on the voting and bonus pieces.

              If nothing else, people make travel plans for holidays that they may not be able to change. If we had all that info in the original letter, I think the advice might have been totally different. I think they would’ve been on solid ground to refuse citing that it was decided around Thanksgiving that the project was being completed over New Years and they made irrevocable travel plans based on that decision.

          3. kiki*

            I mean, I’m sure they’re upset because they were given the illusion of choice that it turns out wasn’t real.

            But also being told you have to work Christmas the day before for a non-emergency reason when you had a plan in place already is deeply frustrating. Like, if an RN was given approval to have Christmas off but then the day before was told they were required to come in for any reason other than an emergency, I’m sure most RNs would be pissed too.

      5. Bast*

        For a time, I worked retail. In working retail, there is an expectation that you will work holidays, nights, weekends, etc. (although Christmas was one of the two holidays we actually closed for — the other being Easter). I now work a desk job where the expectation is M-F and something akin to 9 to 5. I am a paper pusher. No one is going to die if I am not in the office for a holiday — and I NEVER work the major holidays, nor does my company push for this, thankfully. When I worked retail, it was annoying, but expected, if I was scheduled to work on New Years, the 4th of July, or Christmas Eve. In my current job, it would completely unexpected and outside of the norm and I’d be PO’ed if I were told/asked to come in on a holiday. If I were still in retail, it would not be a big deal, or if I were in a field where it was well known and open that holidays are a must. If the expectation is “no holidays” and then you are scheduled for a holiday for no good reason, the anger is understood.

    4. Melissa*

      I am also a nurse working Christmas and, No, that is not the same. You are given the information at orientation— “You’ll work Christmas because you are a new hire” or “Everyone rotates Thanksgiving” or whatever. There is a system and you agree to it when you are hired. Obviously hospitals are open 365 days. so anyone in the field understands this. That is not AT ALL the situation described by the letter writer.

      1. Watry*

        Or even before orientation. I was the only person in my orientation class not in one of the essential, 24/7 units. Each of them were told in the application process, the interview, and then again in orientation that the job required overnights/weekends/holidays and that until they built up some seniority, they weren’t getting holidays off or moved to day shift.

    5. Phryne*

      And you had to walk there 10 miles through tree feet of snow, and it was uphill both ways too, right?

    6. Also-ADHD*

      What? LW is not in a field that would usually have to work and has to work because of someone’s mistake. That’s 100% different than choosing a field and employer where you may or will have to work on that day because someone is always on call for operations (especially necessary operations—there is nothing “wrong” with a hospital staying open). But even in your example, if you were given Christmas fully off, with no expectation you’d be called in, and someone made foreseeable and unreasonable choices that led to you having to come in, you’d have a right to be angry. (LW maybe has extra right to be angry if no one will die if their work isn’t done and the only threat is to a financial goal for the company—because then the company is passing on pain to employees.)

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, I mean if you work in a field where you don’t usually work over Christmas and you have to cover it because of someone else getting something wrong, then you’ve every right to be annoyed.

        I dated a paramedic for a while and it was a clear understanding that he had to work some holidays, he knew it when he started in that field that this was part of the job and an expectation and he made it clear to me when we dated that this was a part of his work requirement.

        I think the key thing is that people know when they start in a job what the expectations are around work and cover requirement. My company is shut on bank holidays but has a number of people on call but we can be a bit flexible who covers what, so I usually am happy to be on call over new year but want Christmas off. It’s made clear when you join what the expectation would be.

    7. Chili Heeler*

      Wow. That was rude and uncalled for.

      There’s always someone who has it “worse” and that doesn’t have anything to do with OP. They’re missing out on a day off they’d been planning on because someone else didn’t do their job well.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yes, life is not a series of Suffering Olympics, and the fact that one person had things truly badly doesn’t mean that other people’s suffering is irrelevant. (And as mentioned above, taking a career where you know and can plan for working hours others don’t want to work is NOT the same as having it sprung on you last-minute because of poor management.)

    8. Magpie*

      Working holidays is a definite downside of those types of jobs, but those types of jobs often attract people because the schedule is typically 3 12 hours days a week, so you end up with a lot more full days off than people working typical 9-5 office jobs. If your hospital suddenly started requiring you to work 4 or 5 days a week, I imagine you would be upset about that since that wasn’t the agreement when you took the job, and you would be unimpressed with people saying you shouldn’t complain because their office jobs means they ALWAYS have to work five days a week

    9. ecnaseener*

      The irony of telling someone to get off their high horse and then continuing to write and post the rest of this comment…

    10. Generic Name*

      You said it. You have no sympathy. I’m sorry life has gotten you to the point of being so bitter. I hope things get better for you.

    11. Cat*

      Current RN working Christmas this year. I have known for months that I have been booked for Christmas. I would be equally furious if I got a last minute mandate to work. This comment was uncalled for.

    12. Broadway Duchess*

      What a weird take. Your personal experience has nothing to do with OP’s issue and you’re being dismissive by telling then to (I assume) suck it up and quit bitchin’? You knew what the schedule was going in as an RN and chose to do it anyway. OP is not in that situation.

    13. Cara*

      Oh my god, I hope more emergency workers have more compassion. If you signed up for that kind of role, you’d be an idiot for not realising you’d have to work holidays. Don’t be a mean idiot too.

    14. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m a doctor and I worked every Christmas for 30 years because I’m Jewish and didn’t see why my Christmas-celebrating colleagues should have to. That’s the brief in your field and mine and all the others listed. We knew what we were getting into when we started (and if we didn’t we found out very soon after). So no, I didn’t complain about working Christmas. But I was FURIOUS the time that my boss screwed up the call schedule and put himself on for a weekend when he was going to be out of town and then told me I’d have to work that weekend instead. That’s far more analogous to the OPs situation.

      Glad you’ve found a different job because it sounds like you were well and thoroughly burned out.

    15. Falling Diphthong*

      There are jobs where it’s normal to be covered in sewage; is it okay for all jobs to douse the employees in sewage because it happens to someone?

    16. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, no. If the project manager messed up, causing them to have to work Christmas when it shouldn’t have been necessary, they have every right to be angry and the fact that other people have worse conditions doesn’t affect that in any way.

      Just as people who earn minimum wage have every right to complain about being underpaid even though there are countries where people are working for far less. It’s not a competition.

      And I suspect many nurses, firefighters, etc would have an issue with it if they were supposed to be off and had made plans but their manager messed up and was like “ooops, I know we agreed you should be off this Christmas but I messed up the scheduling, so you’ll have to come in after all.” We don’t know exactly how the project manager messed up here or if it’s more a case of him just not caring about people’s Christmas plans and insisting they work on something that really could wait, but given that the LW says it’s “thanks to a really terrible project manager,” I am guessing it’s one of those two things – either he made some mistake that they have to give up their Christmas to rectify or he is insisting they work when they really don’t need to. In either case, I think the LW is justified in their objections.

      The “it is necessary for some people; therefore we should make other people do it because it’s better for a larger group of people to be inconvenienced than a smaller one” has never made sense to me.

      And they definitely don’t appear to be on their high horse. Quite the opposite, I would say. Being on their high horse would be more like “oh, I’m quite happy to help the project manager out. It’s not his fault he’s not as competent as I am” or “my coworkers are over-reacting by complaining about this. I don’t care about going home for Christmas so they shouldn’t either. They are just making a fuss about nothing.”

    17. Dinwar*

      No. Absolutely not.

      What the LW is talking about falls firmly under “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” This isn’t something necessitated by the nature of the job, it’s due to a serious screwup on the part of the manager–who’s job is to not allow such screw-ups.

      Further, this is a very, very bitter comment. I’m sorry you have to work through holidays, but you knew perfectly well what you were getting into when you signed up. Some jobs involve things that would make most people run screaming (as a field geologist, believe me, I’ve got stories!). But you DO NOT get to use that as an excuse to look down on other people. YOU chose this career path, and I cannot believe someone smart enough to become an RN is too stupid to realize, before they signed the paperwork, what that entailed. If anyone needs to suck it up and stop complaining, it’s you.

      The proper place to vent these frustrations is with your colleagues. Not by attacking people who did not sign up for such things.

    18. The OG Sleepless*

      Joining the others to point out that you mentioned this yourself: you worked every OTHER Christmas as part of a rotation. I grew up on a farm and entered a field where people work on holidays, so I’m used to it as well, but it’s not ok to get screwed out of a holiday when it’s not normally expected. I had a medium-level blowup with my boss after she stuck me with Christmas three years in a row, and this year I requested PTO at Christmas for the first time in 30 years because I was so pissed. I bet if someone had stuck you with Christmas on one of your off years you wouldn’t have been pleased either.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*


        When a manufacturer so badly effed up that they blew the planned first week of December shutdown work out of the water, leading to my planned for six months Christmas vacation week being rescinded because of the manufacturer eff up, I was beyond p!ssed. Had it been due to the fault of my boss and NOT a third party, I’d have walked out the door.

    19. I'm just here for the cats!*

      No one is on a high horse. Medical professionals, first responders, etc all know that they will occasionally have to work holidays. That is part of the job and they agree with it. Same thing for people who work retail and have to work Thanksgiving and other holidays. However, this is not that situation. For a job at a company that normally is closed on holidays, and to make a team come in to work because of poor management, it can rub the workers the wrong way. Especially if maybe they didn’t get compensated very well or didn’t get extra time off. It sounds like in this case the only extra thing was the boss wanted everyone to participate in Christmasy things.

          1. Not Amal Clooney*

            I hate to break it to you, but lower level people everywhere are called on to work long hours when more senior people get a bonus. When I was in BIGLAW, I worked every Thanksgiving to ensure various deals got closed by mid-December. The partners in charge gotmmuch bigger bonuses than I did.

            These people had the right to say “no” if they feel they weren’t getting compensated properly. The bottom line is that IT may require off hours.

    20. fhqwhgads*

      No. Do not tell people that a bait-and-switch at work is acceptable just because you once worked in a scenario where that situation was not a bait-and-switch but an established expectation you were aware of when you signed on. Just no.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Exactly – this is almost a contractual issue. Probably not spelled out as such (and thus not actionable), but UNDERSTOOD and EXPECTED that people will be able to take holiday time off as vacation. To have it changed up – NOT because of a life or death emergency, but because of someone’s bungled timeline – that’s a very legitimate complaint.

        Frankly, it was short-sighted of the company to allow it. There WILL be attrition because of this decision – whether in the short term or the medium term, it will influence the decisions of those affected to leave the company.

    21. Fluffy Fish*

      Rude, unkind and totally missing the point. You perhaps should take your own parting advice “Such it up and quitcher bi!chen.”

      First and foremost – life is not a competition. YOU don’t get to decide what problems people can and can’t have because of your life/job//where your family is/other problems.

      My family is on the opposite side of the county so can I tell you to suck it up and get over it because 4-6 hours isn’t that bad? Oh or how about I don’t have a relationship with certain family because of abuse so you should just be grateful that you even have family 4-6 hours away? That would be rude, unkind and irrelevant of me because MY life has zero to do with yours.

      Second, your former and those careers listed mean you know that holiday work is part and parcel. A regular occurrence. Not a last minute scheduling debacle due to poor planning by your boss.

    22. AnonRN*

      Hard disagree, dog momma. Current RN here and I don’t think I’m a superior person for it. Working holidays is part of my job, it’s spelled out in my union contract and I get double-time for Christmas. Incidentally I also live in snow country with family 4-6 hours away and what this means is we choose to go see them at other times of year when the roads are more predictable… so I’m not even sure what point you were trying to make by including that info.

      1. Chili Heeler*

        The point about pay is a good one. It is possible the OP was in a position to get overtime* but less likely than them being exempt and therefore not getting financial compensation for this extra work. Or even a floating holiday.

        *If it was a weekday, they might not have hit the 40 hours to even trigger overtime pay.

    23. Looking for Empathy*

      Wow. Rude and uncalled for. Glad you’ve retired, as I would not want to be treated by someone with your level of resentment and lack of empathy. I say that as someone who had to go to the ER on Christmas Day once and was treated with immense kindness by every healthcare worker there.

      1. Bast*

        As someone who had a baby on a holiday, while most of the staff were absolutely wonderful, I remember one nurse grumbling about not being able to go to a family picnic and how she was unlikely to get out on time due to the number of us having babies being born that day. Babies come when they want! I’m sorry I had a baby on a holiday? Not sure what she wanted me to say.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Clearly if you were a true team player you would have just held it in until a more convenient time.

          1. Bast*

            Apparently all the laboring women just chose to ruin that nurse’s night by not holding it in. XD

            On another note, I went into an earlier than expected labor with my last child (NOT on a holiday) and instead of being mad that I was leaving weeks earlier than I expected (ie: not a team player) my team started placing bets on when the baby would be born.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          Preface this with 1000000% out of line to grumble at you – why comment is not saying that was ok in anyway shape or form. More pointing out Dog mom RN is out of her gourd with the sanctimony.

          Here’s the thing – it’s totally ok for her to be disappointed or whatever because we’re humans and work is work and it irritates the heck out of us. super human the be like of COURSE the day i want to do something we have babies everywhere.

          I’m quite certain when Dog Momma was a nurse she had those days as well and didn’t just suck it up all the time.

    24. Anony*

      This is ridiculous, dog momma. People choose different jobs, which come with different difficulties and benefits. Just because your job required Christmas work doesn’t excuse bad management at another job which should not require it.

  14. Cabbagepants*

    #3 Olympics.

    I would think that there would be some soft skills transfer, like persistence, teamwork, managing sponsors, media, etc.

  15. Jessica Clubber Lang*

    It sucks that you have to work over Christmas, but I don’t see how refusing food or the other stuff will make it any better.

    Not that you have to accept it if you don’t want to, but if the goal is just to keep your head down and go home I wouldn’t make a thing about it and just keep working.

    1. Satan's Panties*

      I read the comments on the original letter. LW was fully justified in being aggravated at the schedule. But what I was trying to find out, and couldn’t, was why it was a matter of principle *not* to accept snacks and trinkets, like they’d be selling their soul.

      Reminds me of an early King of the Hill episode. Some Church Lady and her husband wanted to “reclaim Halloween” by setting up a Hallelujah House instead of a haunted house. But of course, it was an attempt to get kids to sign a pledge and join their fundy youth group. We see the husband just once, sternly telling a young girl, “Look, you *took* the brownie; I didn’t *make* you take the brownie.” So I’m picturing OP with the same dilemma: “If I accept this peppermint bark and this pen with Santa on it, am I signing away my next five Christmases?”

    2. Kel*

      I think it gets the point across that this doesn’t make up for the mistake that happened; the PM messed up. Getting holiday food doesn’t absolve them.

      1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

        Yeah but if most of the people are partaking I don’t know that the message will get across.

        It would also be hard to believe nobody has spoken up about this yet that they would need to refuse free stuff to make the point.

        But if that’s what works for LW then go for it

    3. AngryOctopus*

      Also, accept the food! It’s free food, and you can work while you’re eating it so you can get out ASAP. But unless it’s terrible, I would not be turning down the food, as it won’t make the point you think it will.

      1. Persephone*

        I can 100% understand wanting to salvage a tiny island of being in control of myself and my working conditions if I were under these circumstances. I say boycott the food if it gives you the emotional reserves to be kind to your not-to-blame colleagues stuck there with you.

      2. Orv*

        Accepting the food lets the people who made the schedule feel you’ve absolved them of guilt. I wouldn’t take it either. But I come from a part of the US where gift giving is often used to transfer guilt from one party to the other.

  16. Golden*

    The Olympics question is interesting! Totally agree with it being a “human interest ” thing and valuable to include. A PI at my grad school wanted to accept a candidate specifically because they completed a PCT through-hike (and didn’t listen to concerns about other prospective students maybe not all having the privilege for something like that), so it happens.

    I’d also be curious about the AAM take on things if the question were about participation in e-sports at the top level instead of the Olympics, since people have feelings about video games.

    1. Cabbagepants*

      I don’t understand the concern about privilege for the PCT thru hike. Literally every item on a resume is going to indicate privilege.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I had to google PCT thru-hike and their website says it takes five months to do, so I imagine the privilege part is having the financial freedom to not work for five months. There are lots of ways someone might be able to accomplish that, of course, but since most people can’t afford to take five months off in general, using it as an actual criterion for anything other than something hiking-related seems a bit out of touch.

        1. Heather*

          I agree with this in principle, but couldn’t you say the same thing about e.g. an Olympic medal in skiing or equestrianism (expensive sports to get into, family privilege) or a Senate internship, or any unpaid internship for that matter?

          1. kiki*

            Yeah, even college. A lot of people who complete college degrees aren’t harder-working or more capable than some folks that didn’t. A lot of them had fewer barriers to being a successful student (didn’t have to work, didn’t have to care for anyone, didn’t have a major medical issue, etc.)

            There’s a point where every accomplishment can come down to an examination of privilege and I’m not sure that’s always a fruitful discussion.

          2. Caramel & Cheddar*

            Yep, definitely! But I think the examples you gave are a combination of privilege + relevance vs privilege + irrelevance, which is more what I was getting at with this PCT hike likely being privilege + irrelevance for the job at hand.

            If you have an Olympic medal in skiing, but are applying to be an accountant, it’s not especially relevant and it would be weird for that to factor into your hiring decisions. If you have an Olympic medal in skiing but are applying to be a coach on the national ski team, you still required privilege to get to that point, but at least it’s a relevant in terms of the hiring decision.

        2. Cabbagepants*

          The point is you could say “this takes privilege” about attending college, or having an internship, or having research experience, or…

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I think it’s a bit different though because generally when people hire those who have been to college, it’s because the job requires a qualification (or at least the qualification means that the person will do the job at a higher standard than somebody who hasn’t that qualification). Otherwise, yeah, if a job doesn’t actually require a degree but the employer is working on the premise that somebody with a degree is “smarter” or “harder working,” I would say that it a problem too. It just shows expertise in a specific area.

            Similarly, people aren’t generally giving preference to those with internships, thinking that shows something about their character. It is that they have experience with the type of work done.

            So while, yeah, those things are the results of privilege, it is still reasonable to hire somebody who is qualified to do something over somebody who will need significant training (and of course, in a lot of jobs – teaching, medicine, law, nursing, engineering, etc – you can’t hire somebody without the qualifications) or to hire somebody with experience doing a job before somebody without.

            On the other hand, hiking is not a qualification for the job, so judging somebody to be better qualified because of that is simply assuming that somebody with privilege must be harder-working or more able or more dedicated than somebody without.

            I agree we hire based on privilege all the time, but often, it’s unavoidable. Somebody who has never had the opportunity to learn piano obviously cannot teach it. Somebody who couldn’t afford medical school obviously cannot practice medicine. Somebody who has done really well at an unpaid internship and shown themself to be a great employee is going to be favoured when that company is hiring over somebody who may be an even better employee but who the company doesn’t know. But I think when you hire based on something unrelated to the job and that requires a good deal of privilege to do, that is more problematic, not because it involves more privilege, but because in that case, the inequality can be avoided whereas the inequality as to who gets into medical school really isn’t the employers’ fault.

            1. Cabbagepants*

              it takes privilege to be able to try the PCT but that doesn’t mean that competing it is a real accomplishment. It’s probably not directly transferable unless you’re doing forestry or something similarly outdoorsy, but especially for a grad student where you’re going to have a close personal relationship for 4+ years, and where there are probably hundreds of candidates with the same on-paper qualifications, it’s reasonable to make the final decision based on something cool and unusual.

      2. kalli*

        Yes, and some items will indicate more privilege than others. A bit like having Literature at St Andrews or Philosophy at Oxford will communicate a very different level of privilege than a podunk Iowa community college associate’s.

  17. wear floral every day*

    I’m going to take advantage of #2 update and ask the commenters whether they have any online portfolio platform (free or low cost) to suggest. I am beginning my journey as a content creator and, as this is my second career in my early 40s, I learned that a portfolio is necessary the painful way haha.

    1. Queer Earthling*

      I’m essentially a content creator. I do blogging, which mostly consists of product reviews as well as articles, both hosted on my blog or elsewhere. (Some are sponsored, some not, although I am strict about only writing my own posts and not accepting strangers’ guest posts, and also being honest in all reviews & spon posts.) My portfolio is largely my blog itself (with a few choice articles I send people if needed) but I also have a page with links to published works and projects that I haven’t hosted, which I can easily share.

      A lot of content creators use basic blogging platforms (WordPress, Blogger, etc), or use a LinkTree to their various social media or works if they tend to not be hosted on a central platform.

    2. zaracat*

      I’ve found the format available on WordPress quite useful, as long as you choose the right template to set up your blog. For quite a few years I wrote a blog where I’d recreate medieval arts/crafts/technology – I’d write posts on the progress of individual projects and articles drawing comparisons between modern and medieval popular culture and politics using examples from extant published writing, and also had indexed pages on the site where you could download PDFs of the background research + references, and illustrated tutorials on how to reproduce the projects or techniques described in the posts. It was intended as a resource for other makers rather than a writing showcase, but if I ever did want a portfolio it would have demonstrated several different types of writing.

      1. zaracat*

        Also: I used the free version of WordPress, which had overall limits on photo and video storage, so I’d use smaller file sizes for the blog itself and link/embed to photos and videos hosted on other free sites like Flickr and YouTube

  18. JM in England*

    I’ve got the Olympics on my resume but in a different way….

    My field is scientific and I was unemployed at the time of getting a four month temporary gig working in the drug testing lab of the London 2012 games. Once that was in my experience section, it seemed to make my resume more attractive to employers and they often asked me to talk about it in depth at interviews.

    When asked why I took the job, I replied that it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to become part of history!

      1. JM in England*

        Over the duration of both the Olympics & Paralympics, a total of around 8000 samples were tested. The number of positives was in single figures!

  19. Irish Teacher*

    In relation to letter 3, I will say teaching is one area where it could give them a better chance, especially if their sport was one that the school played, as they would be able to coach students int their sport. Playing GAA, even at club level, let alone at national level, is definitely a plus for teaching jobs here (although with GAA, there is the additional thing that if the person is a top player for their county, then there is a vested interest in their getting a job in the county because nobody would want to risk their county’s best players going elsewhere and possibly playing for the county they move to).

    Teaching is a popular job for GAA players, partly because the All Irelands take place in the school summer holidays so they have more time to prepare than in other jobs and partly because of the chance to encourage kids to take up the sport.

    If the LW is following and is still interested, she could also look up Michelle Smith, whose Olympics career ended pretty abruptly in disgrace.

    And of course, a lot of retired sportspeople go into sports related careers, such as coaching, commentating or just general celebrity careers.

  20. Llama Llama*

    I joked the other day that I should put ‘Can fold a fitted sheet properly’ on my resume so of I guess Olympian is good enough as well.

    And former sports stars get jobs all the time because of their previous status. I once had an entry level accountant on my team who was a former hockey star from a minor league team. The only reason he got the job was because of that. I had no cares about hockey or who he was but there was a lot of people that did. He was a good guy though and did good work. (though no folding fitted sheet expert).

    1. Sally Rhubarb*

      Listen, I’d rather watch paint dry than watch a sport but you must admit that being an Olympian demonstrates dedication, passion, and teamwork, all things relevant to a job.

      This take is not it.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Eh, if it was really and truly a tie between two or three people, *something* has to be the tiebreaker.

    2. Two Dog Night*

      I once saw a play at Steppenwolf, in Chicago, in which an actor folded a fitted sheet–perfectly!–while delivering a monologue. He got applause at the end… for the sheet folding. It was seriously impressive.

    3. Chili Heeler*

      One of my law school professors was an actor as a child and was in a movie I really liked. He was a perfectly fine professor, so I don’t think he relied on the “child star” thing much. I do imagine it made for an interesting personal statement in his law school application, “Acting made me miserable so I wish to find a new way in which to be miserable.” Yes, I am projecting because I was miserable in law school and only slightly better when I was a practicing attorney.

  21. Keymaster of Gozer*

    1. This is an interesting one because I used to get those kind of cramps – where you think you can tough through it on paracetamol and ibuprofen and then your body goes ‘Ha! you thought WRONG’ and you’re spending half the day trying not to be sick because nothing short of prescription strength is going to help.

    So I don’t think visibily wincing in pain is a big deal. If it were groaning in pain, writhing on the floor etc. I would say that is ‘go home’ territory.

    But it depends on what the pain level is, and pain is very subjective. So I think the manager was a bit of an arse here.

    (But remember to carry your meds with you!)

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Right? I’ve got a small pillbox that holds about 15 ibuprofen (depending on shape). It takes up almost no space in a pocket of my backpack. I *always* have pain relief on me.

  22. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

    I once met a “two-time former Olympian” at a party and as far as I could tell, that was her career. She had done some motivational speaking and had also used her experience to open doors. At the time she was looking for an opportunity to spend time sailing boats while getting paid. She wasn’t an experienced sailor but she was, you know, a two-time former Olympian. I don’t know that she had a resume in any conventional sense but she must have had some kind of self-promotional material in written form (instead of just walking talking form) and I’m sure two-time Olympian featured heavily. I would guess she was in her forties or so, so clearly many people were very impressed by that one credential.

    (She was living her best life, so good for her. But in her case it was obnoxious because that was her sole credential and all her history.)

    As an interesting side note, she had never heard of the Olympian gods.

    1. Workerbee*

      Weird side note. Was this an allusion to hubris? Would knowing the Olympian gods make you judge her less?

      When I was hiring, I’d far prefer the people who showed enthusiasm, willingness if not eagerness to learn new things, and accountability. I can train on the so-called hard skills. I don’t have the time (nor should I) to train on character.

      Basically this reads like you met this woman once at a party and didn’t like her. But if you
      truly didn’t think she deserved to believe in herself the way she did, your beef should be with everyone who agreed with her.

      1. New Mom (of 1 3/9)*

        Yeah this whole thing reads as weirdly jealous. People definitely make careers out of motivational speaking etc. If her “sole credential” had been, I dunno, a Bachelor of Science, would it matter? No? So who cares about this woman doing her thing.

  23. Another Kate*

    Re: Olympics: Oh heck yeah, include it on the resume. In addition to being a great conversation-starter, an Olympian of any stripe needs to demonstrate a solid work ethic, teamwork, goal-setting abilities, and time management skills, and probably has extensive experience navigating different cultures and handling stress. (This of course assumes that they meet the basic qualifications for the position. I don’t necessarily want to see Simone Biles performing open-heart surgery or replacing my HVAC system unless and until she’s been through medical or trade school, but I don’t think that’s the type of thing the OP was talking about.)

  24. Gyne*

    I completely missed why it’s “bad management” that LW4 has to work over Christmas for an upgrade. My husband is in IT and doing upgrades on non-peak work times is a fairly common practice. Not that they’re doing major upgrades all the time, but when they do, it’s not done between 9-5 M-F, and if it’s a major security risk that needs to get patched, it’s done ASAP. As it is they already rotate being on call for the holidays but a big migration would be “all hands on deck.”

    1. Sunbeam+Naps=winning*

      Yes, there is an expectation in IT that major upgrades happen on weekends and holidays. but they’re *planned well in advance*, or at least i bloody well hope they are. Emergencies also happen, but that’s 1) what on- call rotations are for, and 2) shouldn’t be a major upgrade with a PM involved.

      In the original post, the OP replies that the original plan, voted on and agreed to by all parties at the time, was to do the upgrade over New Years holiday. The change to doing the upgrade over Christmas instead was announced the day before, so all their existing Christmas plans were tanked (yep, Christmas is canceled!) As far as the OP and their coworkers could find, the only reason for the last minute change was so the PM could get a bonus for the work being complete before December 31, which didn’t help or affect anyone else on the team (and again, should have been part of the original planning if that was A Thing).

        1. AngryOctopus*

          To the point where I’m very surprised it wouldn’t have been included in the letter! “We planned this work for X but it was suddenly shifted to Y last minute” is VERY different from “We have to do a huge thing when people are out of the office and it’s over Christmas because of timing and I’m mad”. In the second case, you get to be mad, but it’s part of the job to do major changes with the least disruption, and presumably you’d have notice. In the first, you had notice that something would happen over Holiday X and then last minute it got changed to Holiday Y, causing people to have to cancel plans. THAT you get to be mad about.

          1. Clisby*

            Agreed. I had the same initial response to the letter, like, yeah, there are very good reasons to make system upgrades at really slow times. Yes, there’s a reason IT people have to work on weekends or at night sometimes.

            But if it was a big screw-up where the schedule was changed at the last minute, I can understand people being mad about it.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yikes, that’s even worse than I imagined. I was imagining something like the upgrades had to be done by a particular date and the project manager forgot about them/left them to the last minute and as a result, they had to work Christmas to get it done.

        1. Mighty K*

          I’m not an Olympian, but I have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean (more people have climbed Everest or been into space than have rowed an ocean) so it’s on my CV. It’s at the bottom in an “other information” section and I wouldn’t expect to get a job because of it, but it’s a handy starting point for a conversation and the interviewers can easily just ignore it if they want to.

          1. Chili Heeler*

            I speak an unusual (for where I live) language, so it’s on my CV at the bottom. It has never once been useful in any job, but it has been a frequent conversation starter.

    2. Splendid!*

      As others have said, it’s not about having to work over Xmas, New year etc. It’s about having to work over Xmas and New Year because some idiot has messed up. Planned times are fine because you plan around them. Having some twit say you’re not going home for Xmas because they cannot manage properly is not.

    3. kiki*

      I think context has been left out from the original. The timing of things definitely made this fall into bad management. It’s one thing to know 2 months or more in advance that you’ll have to work Christmas. It’s another thing to surprise people with the requirement shortly before the holiday. People may have booked flights, had relatives flying in, need to make childcare plans during a pretty impossible/expensive time to find childcare…

  25. Jessica Clubber Lang*

    I used to work with a former Olympic gold medalist (part of a US women’s team). No idea if she put it on her resume but it was well known and she was very humble about it. They even named a stretch of highway in her hometown after her.

    I would absolutely put it on a resume just like I would with a Nobel or Pulitzer

  26. Falling Diphthong*

    She is too busy to write unless she’s being paid on a full-time basis.
    Welp. She is in competition with a whole ton of people who were not too busy.

    I’m bewildered that she can say that she likes writing when she actually hasn’t written … anything at all.
    This is the unknown unknowns tripping her up. She hasn’t done long-form writing, to the specifications of an editor, so she doesn’t realize why that would be different from short-form writing, or writing for her own enjoyment.

    How do I get A’s head out of the clouds?
    This is not your job. It is somewhere on the scale of fine-to-kind to offer advice from your greater experience once, which you have done. Now you should drop it. Advice is most listened to when you only way in very rarely. (And it’s not impossible that a plan of “Maybe I’ll get lucky” will in fact pan out. Not for most people, but for a lucky few.)

  27. Heidi*

    For Letter 3, I’m actually wondering if Simone Biles really needs to put her Olympic record on a resume. I feel that a lot of people will already be aware of it. It would be like if the US president put “President of the United States” on their resume. Or maybe former presidents actually do this?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Haha like the lady says, I’d guess Simone Biles and Obama aren’t applying for jobs with a resume at all. They’re not applying at all, probably; they’re being offered positions or contracts by people already familiar with them and probably also with other high-profile individuals. It’s a small, rarefied world up there! At the very least I assume they have agents who do all the legwork on their behalf.

      1. New Mom (of 1 3/9)*

        I loved that when they interviewed Obama for the Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance,” Obama’s title was listed as “Former Chicago Resident”

    2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I think both of those fall into the “doesn’t apply for jobs like normal people” that Alison mentions. I know the letter is from 2016, which is the very first Olympics she was in so the question makes more sense, but now the idea of Simone Biles having to put Olympian on her resume makes me laugh aloud.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I actually wonder if one of our former presidents did. After leaving the presidency, she went to study canon law in Rome (she is a lawyer) and then went to lecture in a university in the UK. I mean, I guess the UK university at least would have known.

      She was laughing once about how many people in Rome asked if she were a nun, since many of those who study canon law are. Imagine responding, “no, actually, I’m a former president of Ireland.” (I could see her saying that for the laugh, to be honest.)

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I imagine this is more for people who are either a) medallists in sports that don’t garner national attention, e.g. silver in biathlon in a country that doesn’t care about biathlon, or b) people who make it to the Olympics but don’t get anywhere near medalling, e.g. finishing 58th of 60 in the triathlon.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I said this above already, but Kerri Strug is in the civil service now, so now I’m curious if she does have the Olympics on her resume!

    5. Allonge*

      For certain jobs, she might have to, although I take your point – there are places where the selection panel can only take into consideration information that was on the resume, not things that ‘they know’. It’s an anti-discrimination and anti-nepotism measure, but of course in some cases it’s ridiculous.

      More generally: multiple people can have the same names, other people are just bad at name and would not make the connection and a bunch of people are remarkably clueless about sports even on this level (myself included). Sure, Simone Biles I recognize, especially in context, but out of context?

    6. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, Biles is a bad example because she’s extremely famous, good enough at what she does to have I think at least 4 moves named after her (in gymnastics if you’re the first person to successfully do a thing in competition it gets named after you). But I get why the letter used it.

      In the letter, you need to say a known Olympian for the comment to make sense to the audience. But in real life, the person likely to put Olympics on their resume (or even be using a resume for a normal day job) was probably a bronze medalist in table tennis, or some other sport that, other than during the Olympics, is not super publicized where the person lives.

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah, a young woman from my city (Charleston, SC) was a silver medalist in shot-put, and I hope she’d be putting that on her resume. Because she’s about as far as you can get from the stereotype that all these athletes came from privileged backgrounds.

  28. GiantPanda*

    A long time ago I took part and did well in the International Mathematical Olympiad, a contest for high school students.

    I kept it on my resume for 16 years until I got my current non-mathematical job, we chatted about it in the interview, and it was definitely a plus.
    Currently not planning to job-search again, but I will leave it off if I do, it’s been long enough.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Just my take, I wouldn’t want anything from high school on a resume even one year post-college, I think.

      1. kalli*

        Meanwhile I still put my high school and college awards on mine because they say ‘I am local! I’m from that family! That was me in the paper that time!’ and no lie, it’s been better than references because *everyone* knows someone from my tiny podunk hometown and goes ‘oh hey so do you know kalli’ and they go ‘oh, you mean Tethys’ grandkid?’ and then the interview is like ‘oh hey so I had a pie at the bakery it was amazing, do you know my husband’s mum?’ and then they’re going ‘so are you okay with these hours?’. It’s really hyperlocally dependent.

  29. Suitably impressed*

    One guy in the management team of my organization won an Olympic medal. When he joined the company he was invited to introduce himself in a townhall meeting. He did this by opening his shirt, while wearing his Olympics sports outfit underneath. I don’t know if he wanted to convey that he is in fact Superman, but I suppose we should all be grateful he wasn’t naked.

  30. The Rafters*

    I worked w/ someone who is not an Olympian but was a professional skater. They had that on their resume for years. IDK if they still do b/c I haven’t seen their resume in a long time. I would say include it.

  31. Misty_Meaner*

    For LW1: (Yeah I know this is old) I don’t get why so offended. Nowhere in the letter did it indicate that boss knew WHAT the pain was coming from–only that you were clearly wincing and showing evidence of BEING IN PAIN. Maybe he was gruff about it, but saying, in essence, “I can’t have you looking like you’re nursing a broken rib while on the sales floor,” isn’t that out of bounds, IMHO. Maybe there’s more than what’s in the letter, but unless he specifically said, “Listen get that uterus taken care of and stop looking like that,” I’m not sure what the problem was. He may have thought you had bad gas or a headache, or any other number of things based on the little you said about your behavior… Just my two cents.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      There’s a bit more room for nuance here.

      Just because it wasn’t discrimination doesn’t mean the boss handled it well.
      While I think the LW is downplaying the effect that constantly wincing has on the people around them (even if no one saw them at exactly that moment), the manager’s response could have been better.

      “It’s unprofessional for you to be in pain on the floor” is pretty callous.
      “You seem to be in pain, is there anything we can do? If not, we’re going to have to send you home.” would be a better response.

      1. Misty_Meaner*

        I’m sympathetic to a large degree, because I had dysmenorrhea for years until menopause, and I get the pain. I used to lose at least a day of work a month to it, because I stayed home for the worst day(s) of my period. Certainly it may seem like a callous response, if it was verbatim, but I also never expect(ed) my bosses (male or female) to coddle me when I’m there to do my job; they aren’t my parents or spouse and while I expect them to be human, I also expect them to be direct and not tiptoe around me just because I’m a woman. I probably would have just sent her home if she worked for me– maybe not exactly, “There’s no way you can effectively close a sale looking and acting like you’re in the throes of death, go home,” but definitely “you should probably just go home.” But he didn’t say anything about her health or body–he said looking like she was in pain was unprofessional on the sales floor–and it is. Maybe when he said go get some painkillers, go get hers from home instead of at a store, if it wasn’t too much farther? But, what we DO know is that she was acting in such a way that it was clearly obvious to her boss, and presumably any coworkers and any customers that MIGHT walk in at any moment, that she was in pain of some sort. We don’t know if she was moaning, grabbing/rubbing her tummy, sighing, wincing, making noises, whatever all morning and the boss was JUST OVER IT after a while. And he didn’t send her home; he told her to do what she needed to change the demeanor on the sales floor, and while what he said may sound callus, he isn’t actually WRONG. It IS unprofessional to be in a work setting visibly demonstrating that you’re in a lot of pain. And while I know this readership tends toward “No male colleague should ever say anything to a woman about anything ever because male colleagues/bosses are always wrong about everything and are in general horrible sexist pig people,” I just don’t think this guy, while maybe a bit oafish about it, was SO WRONG that the OP should feel as insulted and offended as she did.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          My issue with the manager is what he chose to focus on. If your employee looks to be in pain, your first step should be finding out if they need help, not criticizing them.

    2. Law Bird*

      I think we can take the OP at her word. While she did not say outright that her boss knew, she implied it. She was there. She knows him.

      (And auto dealerships are notorious for their sexism, so that context matters too.)

    3. dobradziewczynka*

      I don’t get it either but then again there is context that I am not privy to… I was just thinking more in the line of …why didn’t you go get painkillers?

      1. Law Bird*

        She gives us two solid answers in the letter. Cost is not a frivolous concern, she knows what she’s paid and what her budget allows. (Workplace consequences can really drive something from a want to a need, eh?)

        And if you delay taking painkillers, they might not work.

      2. Lady_Lessa*

        Could be that the cramps were serious enough that OTC drugs wouldn’t touch it. I never had cramps that serious, but I did take part in a scientific study about them and ibuprofen. At the end of the 3 month test, I picked out the ibuprofen, but got the aspirin and the placebo backwards.

        1. Misty_Meaner*

          True dysmenorreah often needs prescription drugs, but unfortunately they usually (mine did) contain some form of muscle relaxant and/or mild opiod so taking them at work for me wasn’t an option, hence having to take at least a day off a month when it struck. If the OP was on a prescription one, she may have ended up not feeling able to work for different reasons, although my crampy days were over about 10 years ago, sooo who knows by now?

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I think not knowing what is causing it makes his reaction worse, if anything. Like if you saw somebody in pain and didn’t know why, I think your first response would be, “are you OK? Do you need to go home?” not, “you need to go and get some painkillers” or “this is unprofessional.” Honestly, if he didn’t know what was wrong, I also think implying they should take painkillers and just continue to work would be problematic.

      1. Burger Bob*

        That part almost makes me wonder if this is something that has happened several times before and boss is kind of over it.

      2. dobradziewczynka*

        This exactly – he should have sent her home. It sucks that they unfortunately felt the need to try work though it.

    5. Modesty Poncho*

      I’m offended by the implication that expressing pain, quietly and out of sight of customers, is “unprofessional”. That actually has nothing to do with the source of the pain.

      1. Misty_Meaner*

        There were no customers “at that time” but she was in a sales position, so one could’ve walked in at any time. If I walked in and the sales person were visibly wincing, making pain induced noises like moans etc… I’d probably leave and say, “Um… we’ll come back later. Thanks.” Her pain wasn’t going to magically go away if a customer DID come in and she couldn’t control her face to tell the manager he had a phone call, so it’s doubtful she’d be able to control her reactions long enough to close a sale.

        1. Celeste*

          Or if, on the other hand, she could control it enough to keep customers from being impacted, then she really should have done that with coworkers as well. How can you have a work conversation with someone who is visibly wincing?

          It just seems like the reasonable options were get pain meds, take pto, stay and work but part of the deal there is that neither coworkers or customers should be affected by it. Otherwise, I think it has to be a sick day. It’s odd to me that so many people think grimacing etc. as long as customers aren’t around is an okay way to handle this.

  32. Parenthesis Guy*

    “Will it give them a better shot? It shouldn’t, unless they’re applying for jobs that are sports-related. But it may anyway, because hiring managers are human and some of them are overly influenced by this kind of thing.”

    In general, if you can prove to me that you’re world-class at some non-niche skill (like pretty much any of the events at the Olympics), that’s going to leave a strong impression. I almost don’t care what it is provided there’s a reasonable amount of competition. Because you don’t get to be world-class without hard work, dedication and a refusal to fail.

  33. dobradziewczynka*

    LW#1 – I get why you were annoyed but at the same time, why not buy the painkillers? I get it was crazy expensive but walking around wincing in pain seems illogical. Why put yourself in discomfort unnecessarily?

    How your boss framed it was definitely being an asshole, but I agree with the principle behind it. Take meds or just go home and rest(which is what he should have offered).

    I am sorry if my tone is bad, I am just not getting the issue.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Well, the point might be that the OP didn’t have the extra money for those painkillers, and then they didn’t help anyway so it really was money down the drain.

      As a side note, sometimes you really need to watch those painkillers in the convenience stores. I’ve seen some that were several years outdated. They don’t leave the shelves as fast as other items, and people stocking don’t always face properly (putting newer stock behind the older stock).

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I’m more stuck on: did this place not have a first aid kit? Everywhere I worked did and it was stocked with ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin. This would’ve been an entirely appropriate scenario for grabbing a little tiny packet or two as soon as the pain started.
      Part of the problem with a lot of this sort of pain is the longer you wait to take something, the less effective anything you take is. (sometimes it won’t help no matter what, lived that myself) but the whole “try to wait it out” thing in many cases can make it harder for anything you do try to help at all.
      Which is all besides the point of the manager being an ass. The answer to the letter is: yes, the manager’s an ass.

      1. Kel*

        This was addressed before but a lot of offices aren’t allowed to stock any painkillers in first aid kits.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yup. We can have our own supplies, but just like scissors can’t be left out on the desks because they can be weaponised very easily, neither can painkillers. The UK is a bit paranoid even about selling paracetamol and rations the amount that can be bought in one go, and even a hospital I was in once with my husband when a migraine came on from the stress and trauma of having to get an ambulance out in the middle of the night wouldn’t dispense them without logging me as a patient and making me wait a few hours while they attended to those worse off than myself.

          However, I think OP should have been able to keep some in her handbag or her drawer/locker at work. IME as a receptionist, you can never know when someone is going to walk in and just because there weren’t customers around at that precise moment doesn’t mean there won’t be in thirty seconds’ time. If you know you’re prone to random pain, then it’s up to you to help yourself out.

  34. rollyex*

    Just a detail on terms. Someone who competes in the Olympics is an Olympian then and afterwards. They are not a “former Olympian.”

    An Olympian friend of mine pointed this out to me when I misspoke.

  35. Kit Kendrick*

    #1 reminds me of a point when I was doing the work of three people (management’s estimate, not mine, and probably a bit of a lowball estimate at that.) I was reprimanded for the sales group “finding out” I was the only person doing my job. (What was I supposed to do, answer every third call with a put-on accent and a fake name? At some point even the dullest person is going to figure out what it means when calls to a support line are always answered by the same person and all related tickets are closed by an account attached to that very same name.) One of the callers said they were going to tell my manager they needed to hire some backup for me and I asked them not to because I did not want to be yelled at again. I think they tried instead pointing out that if things went on that way I was going to have a nervous breakdown (gentle reader, they were not wrong). My manager sent me a sharp email to the effect that while she understood that I was juggling a literally impossible workload I was “bleeding” my stress where it could be observed. I came rather close to writing back “If you found someone in the office who was actually bleeding would you call an ambulance or yell at them about the carpet cleaning costs this was going to incur for the company?” That whole mess broke when another co-worker found me silently crying in my cubicle while continuing to work and I refused to take a break because there was still too much to get done and I couldn’t afford to stop. Said co-worker went to HR instead of my manager and amazingly headcount was found to get a second person to help me and then a third when that person threatened to quit.

  36. Kuleta*

    LW 3: Trivia tidbit. When Peggy Fleming won her gold medal in 1968, she was also the reigning women’s world champion. But she didn’t defend her title though the event shortly followed the Games, because she had to get back to college to retain her scholarship.

    LW4: I’ve seen litigation attorneys do it to themselves, stupidly choosing court hearing dates that result in a court filing deadline being right before or after a holiday weekend. One time someone had to file a motion on Christmas Eve after all, when the judge wouldn’t approve their belated request to change the hearing date.

  37. Foyle*

    My orthopaedic surgeon is an Olympian. His bio on the hospital website doesn’t mention it but a quick Google brings up countless articles about his wins. I’d be dining out for years on it if it were me!

  38. different username for this*

    I won 3 days of Jeopardy when I was 25 and I intend to keep it on my resume for a long time. I think it demonstrates “””intellectual curiosity””” (i.e. I am a big nerd). Similarly, I think the Olympics shows dedication, perseverance, work ethic, etc. and would also keep that on a resume like forever.

  39. RagingADHD*

    “She rejected the idea on the grounds that she is too busy to write unless she’s being paid on a full-time basis.”


  40. RagingADHD*

    “She rejected the idea on the grounds that she is too busy to write unless she’s being paid on a full-time basis.”


    Sure, that’s how every professional writer starts out. Full time, no experience, right off the bat. Sure.

  41. BigLawEx*

    My friend’s daughter is a college Olympian and is most definitely including it on her resume. She wants to enter NYC finance (*we know*) and hiring folks remark that she’s ‘obviously’ dedicated, hard working, can do long hours, etc.

    I have no idea if that experience really translates – the only other Olympian I know coaches his sport so it’s really relevant there – but I can’t see any reason not to include it.

  42. Coin Purse*

    Re: #3, the Olympics…I just retired from a job where I had regular professional contact with an Olympic gold medalist. He’s really good at what he does but whenever his company wants some focus, he does a few meet and greets. Since there is zero money in his athletic area, he always knew he’d have to work in the real world. For me, he epitomizes the trajectory that athletes need to make to transition to adult life. Unless there is generational wealth, you can’t eat medals.

  43. Bitsy*

    I once had a student worker who lied about having been on the olympic softball team. She was A LOT to deal with, which is why I eventually thought to google to see if the story was true. Nope, she wasn’t on any of the Olympic rosters.

    Since it was a student worker job that was going to end soon anyway I didn’t say or do anything about it. But the lesson is do not lie about something as easily googleable as having played in the Olympics.

  44. NotVerySporty*

    Olympians and Paralympians can use OLY and PLY post-nominals which is kind of a nice and somewhat subtle nod to their experience.

    If I was an Olympian or Paralympian, I’d 100% leverage it professionally. Many get media training or liaise with sponsors or high-ranking officials. Not to mention the teamwork, dedication, commitment and other skills that are pretty much baked in.

  45. Mighty K*

    I’m not an Olympian, but I have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean (more people have climbed Everest or been into space than have rowed an ocean) so it’s on my CV. It’s at the bottom in an “other information” section and I wouldn’t expect to get a job because of it, but it’s a handy starting point for a conversation and the interviewers can easily just ignore it if they want to.

  46. Betsy S*

    Many years ago, I worked with someone who had been on a 1980 US Olympic team sport team – the year the US teams boycotted, so she didn’t get to go. She was not at all famous or wealthy and was working a shop manager job in a factory unrelated to sports. She didn’t make a big deal out of it, but I think the company was proud to have her – it was something people would mention to new hires etc. In an often-sexist environment I think it added to her getting respect, too.

    Qualifying for a team sport at an Olympic level takes a heck of a lot of determination, stamina, self-control, ability to work with a team, all sorts of great strengths. I would definitely recommend mentioning it, and focusing if asked on the strengths that transfer to the working world.

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