my favorite posts of 2023

Here are my favorite posts of 2023, in no particular order:

1. My employee doesn’t think we’re doing enough about bears at work
Because of bears.

2. Someone or something is deleting our work emails
Because of the mystery.

3. My coworker and I attend the same sex club
Because I adore this sort of awkwardness.

4. Mortification week, all of it
Because I deeply love the shared human experience of mortification.

5. Should we give extra sick days to employees who can’t work from home?
Because this is a really good idea.

6. A behind-the-scenes look at how Ask a Manager runs
Because this was fun to do.

7. a very good update: how to tell a former employee he can’t visit us weekly
Because it’s an unexpected love story!

8. As a manager, should I not wear a “childless” shirt in my off-hours?
Because all the different facets of this make the question fascinating.

9. Can I bring a blender to work?
Because I love this sort of “can I do this small thing that might seem really off?” question.

10. The adult bibs, the talking shrimp, and other unusual office traditions
Because this was incredibly wholesome.

What were your favorites of the year?

See favorites from past years:

2022202120202018  2017
2016   2014   2013   2012   2011
and the whole last decade

{ 38 comments… read them below }

  1. Elle*

    Alison and the team, thanks so much for being here each day. I’ve learned so much from you and the comments section. I especially appreciate the open threads each Friday and the more specific calls for stories. I love that we have shared pot luck and holiday party horrors. Happy new year!

  2. Elizabeth West*

    Because offices are so humdrum a lot of the time, my favorite letters will always be the wacky ones. Curses, and Duck Clubs, and food spice, oh my!

    1. FricketyFrack*

      Yes! That has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this site (and from getting older/gaining experience in general). I’m an older millennial, and it was figuratively beaten into my head by my boomer family members that you have to be loyal to your job basically forever and go way above and beyond and *of course* that will be rewarded, and I definitely took that to heart with my first few jobs. I accepted the kind of treatment that I would never accept now, and I wish I’d known then that it was ok to look out for myself, too.

      Thank you to everyone here, especially Alison, for making it clear that you can set boundaries and advocate for yourself without it making you a “bad” employee or person.

  3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

    7 +ones, hands down. Because it broke my brain trying to figure it out and because the commentators had some really intriguing ideas of human behavior and expectations.

  4. Beveled Edge*

    Those are definitely fun, although I’m disheartened to see that AAM worked with Dan Savage. I stopped reading him years ago when he made it clear he didn’t care about consent.
    (Savage told a married guy it was ok to lie to the women he was trying to date who were “discriminating” against him by refusing to date/sleep with him when they learned his marital status.)

    1. NeonFireworks*

      I used to like his column and thought I’d forgiven him for some earlier biphobia, but then he also did some foolish mouthing off about ace/ace-spectrum folks and it infuriated me. I keep really wanting to like him, but then he just blurts out some loud nonsense.

    2. Anony*

      Dan Savage has had many issues over the years, and has changed a lot – though people still get to decide if he’s changed enough, or if they even care that he’s changed.

      I know that I, personally, found his advice to be what I needed to hear, at a time when nobody else was saying what he was in a national forum. I don’t read now, because he missed/misses on topics that I care about, and I have found better sources of advice in that area.

      This article was unflinching and nuanced on the topic:

  5. Kristin Winter*

    I’m Stella70, featured in the mortification posts (“CARL, I HADNT EVEN PULLED MY PANTS DOWN YET!”, along with the one about forgetting my last name in an interview, and the holiday-party-from-hell story).
    I have had another year that only a masochist would appreciate, and AAM is a refuge. Everyone has been so kind to me, that when my spirits are at rock bottom, I re-read their responses. This is going to sound like I am trying to drum up “atta girls”, but I’m not. I just wanted to thank you all for this community, for the respect you show others, and the encouragement you give. You post your thoughts and go on with your day, not knowing the effects they have. It can bring someone out of the darkness, and I wanted you all to hear that.

    1. Aelswitha*

      Gonna go back and reacquaint myself with your posts. Please accept big virtual hugs from this internet stranger, and hope for a better 2024.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Aw, thank you for sharing even your mortifying moments with us, and I hope that your 2024 is much kinder to you.

    3. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      You write so beautifully, and it’s so generous of you to share your mortification for us all. I’m so glad this little community of strangers is a help. All the best for 2024 and thank you again for your stories!

    4. T.N.H.*

      I’m sorry you had another hard year! Hope things improve in 2024. Also, you might be sick of hearing this but you really are a great writer. Are you doing any writing work?

    5. Annie Edison*

      Wait the carl/pants story and the holiday party from hell story are from THE SAME PERSON?!? Holy crap please write a memoir of your life because I love your stories and writing style so much! I read both of those out loud to my boyfriend and we both had tears in our eyes from laughing so hard

    6. Straight Laced Sue*

      I am sorry you’ve not had a good year. I’m just chipping in here to say thank you so much for your stories. I loved all 3 that you mentioned here. Still giggling in my head…!

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Every time I see your name I know I’m in for a treat, and have been known to bellow “STELLAAAHHH” like joyful version of Stanley Kowolski!

      You don’t need to drum up “atta girls,” I’ve got plenty to give out!

  6. Aelswitha*

    I somehow missed the “childless” sweatshirt and am now sorely tempted to buy one. My second cousin “June” was “so offended” one Christmas when one of her four kids asked why I was childless, and I replied something like I’d never really been interested, and some folks wanted a bunch and some didn’t so it all evened out.

    Of course I was once told by a boss that I had an “attitude problem”, and immediately bought and wore on my days off a t-shirt that read “I <3 my attitude problem", so I might not be the person you want to take any advice from. I AM considering a sweatshirt that says, "No, I've never been married", though :)

    Happy New Year!

    1. Bex (in computers)*

      My partner’s niece, 12 at the time and thinking she was just hilarious, kept asking us when we would be having children. We’d told her a couple of times that it was private, impolite to ask, and also hurt us. Then comes 4th of July BBQ, with the whole sprawling family and friends. And niece waits until we’re all sitting and getting ready to eat, then loudly asks, “Uncle, Auntie – when are you having kids finally?!”

      Without thinking, I replied, “well, we’ve talked about it a lot, niece, and we’re just too worried they’d turn out like you.”

      Niece never did ask us again about when we’d be having kids.

      And for those worrying we inflicted permanent trauma, she laughs now and admits she was doing it to be a little $#!+ because she thought it was funny to make us squirm.

  7. HBJ*

    Is there any way to get a last minute update this year on how Frank and the aunt’s relationship is going??? :D

  8. Random Dice*

    From the behind-the-scenes article in February*:

    Is there a way we can contribute financially to AAM? I read your site way too often for me not to send some money your way!

    Would you consider adding a way for us to donate? I’d love if moderation weren’t so intensive for you, and I’ll bet some of the regulars here would make great paid moderators.

    I signed up to just to support you… but that’s very roundabout support.

    I support three columns on Substack (though am reconsidering given the Substack Nazi profiteering), and several of my favorite content creators on Patreon.

    *”27. If money were no object, what tasks would you most like to outsource to someone else? A: Comment moderation. It doesn’t make financial sense to hire someone to do it, but I’d love not to have to do it myself.”

  9. AGD*

    6 and 7 for sure! 6 was absolutely fascinating (with the most wonderful cat profiles), and 7 was just the sweetest thing ever.

    I’ve learned so much from this community and enjoyed the excellent company in the comments as well. Thank you very much to all.

  10. Frodo*

    Alison, in your post about behind the scenes at AAM, you mentioned that you try to answer people privately. I greatly appreciated that you answered me privately and sent me a link to a previous post that dealt with my issue, which was health related. How do I tell coworkers about my diagnosis when I’m good work friends with many of them, but don’t want to ride the pity train? The link you sent was perfect!

    Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. Or in our case, Yes AAM readers, Alison does really try to answer everything!

    1. GythaOgden*

      Alison puts in a tremendous amount of effort keeping this site going and active. The site helped me get a better job, not just from her advice, but from being able to participate and tell my stories and develop a way to get noticed better in cover letters and interviews. She is amazing and dedicated and I’m so much better off even just after two months of a new position that it’s untrue.

  11. Childless Sweatshirt Person*

    Omg, I’m the childless sweatshirt letter writer. I’m so tickled that it’s one of the favorites of the year!

  12. Artemesia*

    #7 Frank and the Aunt is fabulous — best solution to a problem ever. And while a bit Hallmarky — not unbelievable. I know someone who worked with the homeless and mentored one guy from the streets to a job and marriage with her sister in law.

  13. Kim*

    These are all great! The one post I keep thinking about is the poor man who had quite a DNA shock and then learned that this half brother is also an ass.

    “a DNA test revealed the CEO is my half brother … and he’s freaking out”

  14. Minimal Pear*

    Man I forgot to say this earlier but I desperately want an update on the blender letter. I really want to know what the LW ended up doing!

  15. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

    I loved the office traditions. They reminded me of traditions in other places I’ve worked. I didn’t add any because the topic was already so long!

  16. Bookworm*

    I’m honestly not sure I could pick a favorite – and I’m absolutely certain I couldn’t do your job (although I do think that I could moderate the comments lol – one of my favorite authors has someone who reads through a lot of their email etc, does beta reading and moderates most posts (most, not all because they do give her time off lol), and I love reading your posts. If I was retired (or possibly a SAHP), I would try and convince you that you could pay me a nominal sum and I’d do it for fun. However, my job is time intensive and I definitely don’t have the bandwidth.). I also wonder how the heck I missed that you have 5 beautiful and amazing cats? Maybe with this knowledge I can convince my partner to get another? No, definitely not going to happen, but I can dream!

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