new employee asked me our policy on dating supervisors, boss told me “sorry isn’t good enough anymore,” 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. New employee asked me our policy on dating supervisors

I’m the manager at a branch location of a family owned retail garden center. I wanted to ask if you had any advice a situation that I came across recently involving a candidate who I had decided to hire. He was very friendly during the interview, answered all my questions, seemed qualified and even sent a thank you note. Then, on his first day, right after he turned in his paperwork he asked what the company policy was for employees to date their supervisors.

I was totally creeped out and told him that it was not allowed. That’s not necessarily a company-wide policy but he was absolutely giving the impression at this point that he wanted to ask me out. I guess the saving grace of this is that he only lasted for another four hours and then quit because the job turned out to be “more physically demanding than he expected.” But what would be your advice for handling a situation with an employee who shows a red flag right after the hiring process is completed?

Make it clearer in the moment that the question is wildly inappropriate. You answered it as if it were any other question about company policies, rather than the gross, out-of-line statement that it was. I don’t blame you for that; it’s hard to have a perfect answer in the moment when you’re so taken off-guard. But you could have said, “I’m sorry, what?” or “Why are you asking that?” followed by, “I’m having trouble understanding this question as anything other than wildly inappropriate.” Followed by keeping a really close eye on him, because someone who does this is usually someone who’s going to have loads of other problems too (as you saw later that day).

Frankly, it’s so wildly inappropriate and indicative of other likely problems that it also wouldn’t have been unwarranted to revisit the question of whether you’d made the right hire (had he not taken care of that for you a few hours later).


Read an update to this letter here (#5 at the link).

2. My boss told me “sorry isn’t good enough anymore”

I have been at my job for about 14 months, and I was a temp here for six months before that. I feel like in the last few months, I have had a major screw-up like clockwork, once a month. Today my boss said, “Sorry isn’t good enough anymore. We don’t know what to do. We need something more from you.”

Last month, I came clean and admitted to them that I have been dealing with anxiety and ADHD issues that I am seeking treatment for (I know it was a huge risk divulging that information, but it was worth it). Today I sent an email to my bosses apologizing again and letting them know I am following a series of “checklists” to keep track of everything. I noted that when I do follow these, my work is considerably better.

I am at a loss as to what to do. How can I stop making screw-ups? How do I get out of my own way? How can I do damage control with my bosses?

Well, it sounds like you’ve figured out that checklists help dramatically — so use those religiously. Beyond that, it’s hard to give specific advice without knowing the nature of the work you’re doing and the nature of the mistakes. If they’re about attention to detail (which it sounds like might be the case), you can also try slowing down, double and triple checking your work, and finding more ways to incorporate checklists.

But I’d also take your boss’s statement as a sign that you don’t have a lot more rope here, or more time — so whatever you can figure out to do, make sure you’re really committing to it. (Sorry if that goes unsaid — something about your statement that when you use checklists, your work is much better made me worry that you’re not being as serious about them as you should be. If I’m wrong, ignore me and carry on.)


3. Would it be unreasonable to block people from walking through my office?

I’m the manager of a medium business, with 15 full-time and 6 part-time employees in addition to myself. Our building has just been renovated, and it has changed the layout a lot. Three doors now lead off the foyer: the bathroom, the hallway to the general work areas, and my office. The trouble is that our new break room is where an old storeroom used to be, with one door leading into a work area and the other directly into my office.

Staff will walk through my office on arrival to get to the break room, or will walk through to get to the bathroom in the foyer, instead of taking the longer way around. It’s distracting, and potentially presents problems when I’m working with confidential information. I’ve tried locking this door from my side, but people will simply walk through and let themselves in, leaving it unlocked behind them. Worse, it’s not uncommon for staff to simply knock on the door for me to let them through. It seems as though every time this comes with an apology, or a “this is the last time, promise!” so it’s clear the staff know that it’s a problem.

Is it unreasonable to block the doorway completely, such as pushing furniture in front of it, or am I being unreasonable in expecting the door to remain closed and asking staff to walk through a work area on breaks to use the bathroom?

It’s reasonable not to want people to use your office as a thoroughfare to get somewhere else; that’s distracting and can break your focus. It makes sense to just block off that door entirely, by putting a bookcase or desk or something in front of it so it can’t be opened — basically, turn it from a door into a wall. That’s sometimes the only way to solve this kind of thing, because the temptation otherwise does seem too great for people to resist.


4. My friend is upset that I didn’t tell her that I was interviewing for a job on her team

I just started a new job today at a highly competitive company where a social acquaintance also works. We’re not BFFs by any stretch of the imagination, but we used to meet up about twice a month for different social outings (movies, dinners, BBQs, etc.). I’ve only known this person for about 18 months and we get along well but, again, we aren’t attached at the hip and I wouldn’t share my secrets with this person.

I had been interviewing for two positions in her department over a period of two months before I received an offer. After one of the interviews, I ran into her on my way out the door and she asked me if I was interviewing and I told her it was an “informal interview.” I said this because I didn’t want to jinx the interviews, but also I wanted to curb her prying. A few weeks after this had happened, she stopped talking to me completely. She even cancelled on a social outing that someone else had invited her to (she texted me to tell the host) and when I got engaged, she never said congratulations. I got the job offer shortly after she started giving me the silent treatment and didn’t really tell anyone besides my family members.

Fast forward to today, I had finished my first day and we got into the elevator together and she passive aggressively started talking about my lack of disclosure about the job. She also told me she had known for a while that I had accepted the job and that I had various opportunities to tell her about it. Am I wrong for not telling her or anyone who works at this company? Also, if she was aware that I had accepted the job, why didn’t she reach out and congratulate me?

Yeah, it’s pretty weird that you didn’t tell her that you were interviewing with her company, and especially with her department. Usually people share that kind of thing in the hopes that the person will put in a good word for them, or just because it would be odd not to acknowledge it. And it’s definitely weird that you didn’t tell her that you were joining her team once you were hired! This is someone you know well enough to go to movies and dinners with; it’s strange to show up at their workplace one day as their new coworker without any mention of it earlier. (No judgment! I am weird all the time.)

She’s handling it badly too — giving you the silent treatment is immature and petty. She should have just reached out and congratulated you. But I’d suggest just telling her that you’re sorry that you didn’t say anything and realize now that you should have. If you can explain why you didn’t (other than “I wanted to curb your prying”), that would probably help too.


{ 188 comments… read them below }

  1. Feral Humanist*

    Wow, I am EXTREMELY nosy by the standards of LW #5. If you see someone you hang out with twice a month at your workplace dressed for an interview, I think it would be extremely weird NOT to ask if they’re interviewing. I agree that the friend had an overreaction, but I might also be hurt and weirderd out by someone I considered a friend being so unnecessarily secretive (especially since it was going to get back to me when they started *working in my office*). And the LW wonders why the friend didn’t congratulate them! I’d have no idea at that point what this person wanted from me.

    But then, I am, admittedly, not a secretive person by nature, and I often find the behavior of people who are downright bewildering.

    1. LikesToSwear*

      For some people, it’s not that they’re secretive, it’s that they strongly prefer to be very private about certain things. For my husband, he is extremely private at work about personal things. He just does not discuss it, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

      OP might be very private in their personal life and not discuss work, and is trying to figure out how to deal with working with someone they know on a more personal level.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        That works until, as you say, they cross over. OP handled this very awkwardly, in my opinion, and definitely made it weirder than it needed to be (and then blamed the friend for being hurt, which I think was pretty unfair).

      2. K*

        I’m not really sure how that’s distinct from being secretive. You’ve just called it something different.

        1. Phryne*

          secretive and private are different. Secretive means going out of your way to hide things, sometime up to deception and lying (by omission), private means just not talking discussing some things with some people/not bringing it up in conversation.

          1. Brit*

            OP did lie. They indicated they were there for an informal interview when they were actually there for a full blown interview, specifically to throw the friend off the scent. This person is secretive and I would also have been extremely weirded out by this.

      3. Cj*

        a lot of people don’t discuss personal things at work, but this is not that.

        I can understand her not wanting the friend to know she was interviewing, but once she was offered and accepted the job, I think it’s really weird that she didn’t let the friend know. I mean, it’s not like the friend isn’t going to find out.

        and the comment about curbing her prying is bizarre. It’s perfectly natural to ask someone you know if they are interviewing when you know there is a job opening and the person is in your office interview clothes. it’s fine if the letter writer didn’t want to tell their new co-worker until they got the job (and they didn’t even tell her then!), but I certainly don’t consider it prying that a friend asked the question.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I mean if one of my friends showed up in my office when we were recruiting I’d ask if they were there for an interview. I don’t think that’s prying it’s just normal conversation with someone you know and get on with.

      4. Jackalope*

        I think it also matters that the friend had started giving OP the silent treatment before she got the job offer. I can see how it would be weird going to a friend who is apparently angry at you about something and is therefore not talking to you, and tell them that you’ll be working together. It still would have been a good idea to let the friend know, but I can see how that would be trickier given the rift in their friendship at the time.

        1. Gold and Jade*

          Yes, I’ve been in the OP’s shoes before where someone I knew made an assumption about me not liking them based on me being a private, anxious person and then gave me the silent treatment seemingly out of nowhere. By the time I figured out why they gave me the silent treatment, I felt resentful that they caused so much drama without even checking in to ensure their assumptions were correct and didn’t feel any kind of desire to want to make things right with them. Though OP probably should try to make things right since they work together.

        2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          She didn’t start giving LW the “silent treatment” until AFTER LW didn’t mention that she was interviewing for the friend’s department and then LW lied to her about the interview process.

          Also, since when does the silent treatment include “Hey, I can’t make it to bowling, can you let Ben know?” text messages?! Sounds like the friend was just looking at LW’s behavior and thought “Yeah, LW is sending me clear signs they are not interested in being friendly with me”–why is it somehow on the person NOT cutting their friend out to “clear up” LW’s hurtful actions?

      5. LCH*

        yeah, i don’t like to think i’m superstitious.. but i totally am when it comes to job searching. i could definitely see myself NOT telling someone while still in the process because my dumb brain felt like it would be jinxing my chances.

        but i would also totally have said something after getting the job. so i’d try an apology and blame my anxiety or something.

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Yeah, I think it’s a bit cagey too and would confuse me. Also, I admit I’m definitely less social than many, but being close enough to see someone every two weeks sounds like a lot. I don’t see my best friends that often!

      1. Double A*

        That comment made me laugh a bit. I don’t even see my dad twice a month a lot of times and he and my mom watch my kids every day! (Due to who does the picking up and dropping off). It’s definitely a time of life thing to some extent, but even in my most social days seeing someone twice a month is BFF territory! Or at least part of a very close friend group.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. I haven’t seen anyone socially more often than about twice a month since I started dating my husband.

          Sure, when I was in college, I saw those of my friends who were also my classmates pretty much daily, but I couldn’t handle such intense socializing with anyone other than my immediate family members now.

        2. Sloanicota*

          I think it’s fair to say this varies pretty widely between people and between different stages of life. Someone with young kids might only be seeing a family member a few times a month; someone who just graduated and moved to a new city might be going out with different friends every single night and twice on weekends. If the coworker is in a crowd the OP is seeing – not just a one-on-one hang – it might not feel very intimate to OP. But it’s worth mentioning that it might feel so to the coworker.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, I was coming to say the same thing. I wonder how often this LW sees her BFFs? I mean, I see my closest friends about once a month on average if I’m lucky, and my “second-tier” friends considerably less often than that.

        And yeah, if I had someone I consider a friend interviewing with my employer, it would probably affect our relationship in the future if they didn’t mention anything about it to me. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a heads-up before the interview, though.

        I mean, I get that the LW didn’t want to give an impression of attempting to leverage their very short and superficial relationship, the social acquaintance obviously couldn’t be a reference at work because they haven’t worked together.

        This post is 8 years old, I’d love an update on how things went down. Did their relationship recover, are they still working together, and if not, how long did they work for the same employer?

        I do think that the relationship could’ve been salvaged if the LW had apologized for making things weird by not saying anything about interviewing and especially about getting hired.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          The phrasing ‘social outings’ makes me wonder if they’re both part of a bigger group or groups that arranges these things, and they just end up in the same place – definitely the one that was cancelled seems to have been that way, with a separate host.

          1. KateM*

            But the friend texted *OP* to tell the host. If she could have cancelled directly as well, then it is really weird to me that this is brought out as an example of *not* talking to OP.

            1. Lexi Vipond*

              So she did, I hadn’t noticed that – but it was ‘a social outing that someone else had invited her to’. So it seems pretty odd regardless!

        2. Irish Teacher*

          It is possible they see this friend as much as or more than their cose friends, but it’s just a superficial thing – they don’t discuss anything deep or turn to each other for emotional support; it’s solely a “we both like this restaurant/want to see this film so we’ll go together” sort of thing. At least on the LW’s side. Given the friend’s reaction, I am guessing they did see it as a close friendship, which isn’t unreasonable, given how regularly they meet up.

        3. Cmdrshprd*

          I think OP missed a great opportunity to get some inside information on the company/department/manager by not talking to the friend/acquittance about the job.

          Even if the friend could not be a reference for OP, they could have used the friend as a reference for the job.

          I do think it is strange to hide it so much, and not odd that the other person pulled back from the friendship.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        That was the head scratcher for me. If you’re taking time to make dinner and a movie plans with someone every two weeks, it’s weird to categorize them as a bare nodding acquaintance.

      4. Melissa*

        That’s what I was thinking! If I had someone that I saw socially twice a month, that person would basically be my new sister. My dearest friends don’t even get that much time with me.

      5. Daisy-dog*

        I have a feeling that LW is fairly young – probably early 20’s. I was infinitely more social in my post-college era. And that this job is probably one of her first “real” jobs.

      6. The OG Sleepless*

        I feel like I see this in online comments a lot. “There’s this acquaintance I have, I wouldn’t really consider them a friend but we meet for coffee twice a month and our social circle gets together almost every week…” In my world, that’s a real friend, probably even a close friend! I have people I consider dear friends that I see maybe every few months, so things like this always make me wonder if I’m overly clingy or something.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I suspect it’s an age/life stage thing. When I was in my 20s I had some hobbies that meant I’d see people two or three times a week for months, without ever considering them to be friends precisely. Now I’m in my 30s and a parent, I see my close friends every couple of months at best.

        2. Curious*

          I agree. I see this online a lot too.

          I can’t imagine “meet for coffee twice a month and our social circle gets together almost every week” does not constitute friendship, because I don’t clear space in my life for people who aren’t my friends to do that with, but apparently lots of people do.

          1. Llama my mama*

            I see the same thing with comments like “I don’t have a close relationship with my mom, we don’t get along and only talk on the phone once a day” and I’m like, wow I love my mom and consider us fairly close, and I have to remind myself to try to call her once a week…

            This whole post is a reminder that two people can see the same set of external facts (i.e. how often they hang out with and talk to a person) and have very different internal feelings about the situation. With the OP’s offhand comment on prying, I wondered if maybe this person is someone OP knows to be nosy and if there are other issues in the friendship. But if so it seems odd to be so invested in exactly how many times this person has talked to her or not.

            1. Pescadero*

              Once a week?

              My mom lives 150 miles away – and she has been to my house twice in 23 years. We talk on the phone 2-3 times a year.

              Other than my wife – there is no one I see on average more than probably once a month.

          2. badger*

            I used to be part of a regular knitting group that met every week. Saw a lot of the same people there. Some of them are my friends, some of them are very much NOT the kind of people I want to spend time with outside that group (but am willing to interact with there because it is not just us and there are other people I can talk to). So I think a lot depends on context here and it’s context we don’t really have.

        3. I should really pick a name*

          Frequency doesn’t necessarily correlate with closeness.
          Sometimes you see people more frequently because it’s convenient. Maybe they live nearby, maybe you’re just part of the same friend group and get invited to the same events.
          Sometimes you have close friends that you can’t see often because of distance and/or scheduling.

          1. biobotb*

            Very true. Just because you see someone frequently in a group setting doesn’t mean you’re sharing really personal stuff with them.

            That being said, I still think it’s weird the LW was being so cagey about her interviews when there was a strong likelihood she’d end up on her acquaintance’s team. And once she knew she’d be on the team, staying mum was even odder.

        4. Twix*

          I think it’s just highly contextual. It sounds to me like LW and this person weren’t getting together 1-on-1 twice a month, but doing things as part of a larger group. There are definitely people in my social circles I like and consider a friend but would not consider myself close with, whom I see that frequently by virtue of the two of us having a mutual close friend.

    3. Betty*

      I could see the OP being nervous to talk about interviewing if they were still employed elsewhere. But then they could tell their friend that, yes, I am interviewing, but please keep that info confidential. And it wouldn’t be too weird to say that you don’t want to talk about it too much because you don’t want to jinx it – if that was actually the case. It’s not really clear to me why the OP didn’t want to talk to their friend about the interviews or the job offer or that they’d be joining the friends team. I agree with Alison that the OP should figure out their reasons and then explain them to their friend as part of their apology.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, I get how it might be weird before accepting the offer, because of current workplace, etc. I mean, I would still have reached out – in addition to possibly getting a boost to the application, it’s a great way to get some informal information about/feel for the workplace! But OK, sure, not everybody’s cup of tea. But afterwards? No, that’s just super weird.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        That depends on the person you tell actually being able to keep things confidential. A lot of people will swear they won’t tell and then can’t keep their mouths shut.

        But, mostly, I assume that I don’t have any right to your information and it’s on me to deal with that, so if you don’t tell me, you had your reasons.

    4. EventPlannerGal*

      I wonder what OP was going to do if the friend hadn’t found out by running into her at the interview. Just wait until her first day and been like “oh hey I work at your company now, see you at lunch”? Really really odd behaviour IMO.

    5. A.P.*

      I too am sometimes bewildered by extremely secretive people.

      But one thing I’ve noticed is that people like that often have control issues in their life. In addition to being secretive they can also be self-centered, jealous and/or entitled. I think their close-mouthedness is part of a behavioral pattern and a way to exert power over their own life and their relationships with others.

      I’m not saying this necessarily applies to the LW, but in my experience it’s been a common thread among people who will just never tell you anything about themselves, even when it is relevant to your relationship.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Anything I tell my dad will definitely be blabbed all over town in very short order so, yeah, I don’t tell him things. He’s demonstrated that I can’t trust him even if I ask him not to tell something.

        If anything is self-centered and entitled it’s thinking you have a right to know someone else’s business.

        1. Delphine*

          Right, like what are secretively private people self-centered and entitled about? Not wanting to share their own life events with people? Keeping their experiences close to their chest?

          1. A.P.*

            I think you misunderstood my post. I didn’t say that secretiveness in and of itself is entitled or self-centered. What I said is that people who are secretive *can* have control issues which can manifest themselves in other behaviors.

            I mean, wouldn’t you find it disturbing if your manager walked into your office and introduced you to a new employee. And the employee was your friend who you’d had dinner with the previous week, but they never told you they were going to be your coworker? Wouldn’t you wonder about what kind of friendship you actually have and what their motive was to keep that secret until the last possible moment.

            1. Fikly*

              What is the point of your comments? Other than to say that your need to know is more important than another person’s need for privacy? Any behavior type *can* be driven by anything. If you are calling out a specific theory, you’re doing so for a reason.

              You’re putting your wishes ahead of another person you are theoretically friends with. I certainly wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like that. Why should your friend have to justify what makes them feel safe and/or comfortable to you in order for you to approve?

        2. A.P.*

          I’m sorry you can’t trust your dad. But just because you can’t trust one person it doesn’t mean that you have to be secretive about your whole life.

          I mean lots of people who have been cheated on have trouble trusting their new partner. But if you become controlling and jealous to the point where you are checking their phone or not allowing them to go out with their friends it’s not going to be a healthy relationship.

          Similarly, if you’re secretive to the point where you won’t even tell a friend about your new job even though you were bound to see each other in the office, then that friendship will not last.

        3. Happy meal with extra happy*

          That’s pretty extreme. This isn’t someone upset because OP wouldn’t tell them about a medical diagnosis or something. This is literally someone who will ultimately get to know OP’s “business” because they’re working together at the same one!

        4. Pescadero*

          If I don’t have a right to know your business, and you don’t have a right to know my business – we aren’t friends.

    6. Bear Expert*

      My husband is a private/quiet/semi secretive person by nature and upbringing. I’m a let it all hang out extrovert.

      We worked in the same department for almost 10 years. He would deadpan “I like to keep my professional life and my personal life separated. My personal life got a job in my professional life.”

      I would also be weirded out if someone I hung out with twice a month and texted with more than that was interviewing in my department and actively took steps to hide it from me. I’m trying to think if that would be different if I was more entry level? At my current level, I’m involved in much of the hiring, at least tangentially in strategy around what we need for the roles and how we’re identifying skills sets while interviewing. So it would be -weird- to attempt to hide trying to get hired by my team or close colleagues without talking to me.

      But if I was less embedded – maybe I could see thinking “oh she isn’t that involved, and if it doesn’t work out, I don’t want to talk about it” or not understanding the networking angles.

      You don’t owe anyone news about your job search. But if you don’t share with your friends, they’re going to wonder if you’re really friends – especially since job hunts are so network based. At least in my world – my wide acquaintance group regularly keeps tabs on whos looking for what (hiring and hunting) and reads over resumes for each other and makes connections. These aren’t people I eat with twice a month, these are people I haven’t seen in person since 2019. And I have their resumes and know their skills and what kinds of work interest them and what kinds of things they hire for.

      1. new old friend*

        Heck, even across different industries, it’s nice to have your social circles know what’s up in your life and be able to celebrate when you get a new job!

  2. learnedthehardway*

    You had every right to not disclose that you were interviewing for the role to your acquaintance. While most people would have done so, you don’t owe anyone that information.

    At the same time, I can see why your acquaintance is a bit hurt – I think she is totally over reacting and taking this personally, but she may feel like you distrust her or didn’t think she’d put in a good word for you (or that her good word would be counter-productive), or something.

    You might want to do something to smooth things over – she’s now a colleague and even if you feel she’s not someone you would now want to be friends with, it still makes sense to acknowledge her feelings. Perhaps explain that you didn’t want to involve her because you weren’t sure you would get / accept the role until the last moment, or that you assumed she knew or something. Remind her that this isn’t about her – nicely, of course. Perhaps you are super-compartmentalizer, or you didn’t want to trade on your acquaintance or put her in an uncomfortable position of feeling like she needed to weigh in on your candidacy when you know each other but haven’t worked together.

    Any (and a combination) of these reasons is valid. Acknowledge that she felt hurt, and you’re sorry that she felt hurt. (Doesn’t mean you have to go out of your way to disclose things you want to keep private, of course.)

    1. Seashell*

      That letter is from 8 years ago, so presumably it resolved one way or the other.

      I think it’s highly odd that LW wasn’t honest about interviewing when seeing this friend in the office. (And, yeah, I’d say someone an adult socializes with that frequently is a friend.) Presumably, the friend found out she was lied to and considered LW a liar who was not to be trusted.

    2. Trixie*

      those explanations work while she was interviewing, but once she accepted the job it’s really weird that she didn’t let the friend know.

  3. John Smith*

    Re #3. One thing to consider on this is to find out whether the door in question is a fire / escape door (a previous manager deliberately blocked off a fire escape door for aesthetic reasons and, ashamedly, was not even disciplined for it). When an old satellite building was being redesigned, we actually had some input into it. “Can we have a door there instead of there? Can that room be made smaller?” – well, I did not appreciate just how many regulations and standards existed (UK/EU) that had to be followed.

    1. GythaOgden*

      Agreed. It does sound a bit odd to have people walking through an office belonging to a manager. While UK office space is generally open, managers do generally have their own space and it’s an office off the main area. In other offices with smaller shared spaces, there’s a central corridor running through with the rooms directly off it. There’s a fire safety guy on our team that would be down on us like a ton of bricks if we so much as sneezed in the direction of a fire door, but I’m curious as to the layout of this office because it sounds very strange.

      It’s obviously an old post so the LW won’t be dropping in to comment, but I’m going to see if there’s more context in the original post.

    2. Panicked*

      I was thinking the same thing. If it’s a means of egress, it wouldn’t be a good idea to block it.

      1. A CAD Monkey*

        An office cannot be part of the egress path. The only acceptable spaces are “multi-purpose” rooms (throw a copier in a break room = multi-purpose), open work areas (cube-farms, hotel desks, etc), and corridors.

        Best advice is to either block the door with a heavy piece of furniture or have your facilities person remove the door handles and permanently lock the door.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My office is a walk-through from a warehouse space to an office space. I don’t know that it’s officially a path of egress but, functionally, it would have to be if there were a fire in the front part of the warehouse. So, no, I couldn’t block the door.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            If its not officially an exit for safety reasons, but you would want it available in an emergency then something lightweight and simple like a small table would work. It can be shoved out of the way quickly in an emergency but would signal — not a door — the rest of the time.

    3. IndyDem*

      I’d think that since the door has a lock on it, it wouldn’t be part of a fire door/exit floor plan. Interior fire doors shouldn’t be able to be locked.

      1. John Smith*

        We have numerous doors with locks on that are designated as fire doors (not exits), some being the only exit from the room. A couple of them are double doors so that only one can open at a time for security reasons (that was deliberately disabled as its just a damned nuisance).

    4. Cedrus Libani*

      I was thinking this as well. I’ve told this story on here before, but I once had to work with light / vibration sensitive equipment in a space that was on the shortest path to the exit…the doors could not be locked, because fire code, also people really wanted to save themselves the ten-second detour of using the perfectly good hallway that also led to the exit. We solved the problem by putting a sign on the door. The polite “please go around” sign did nothing. The “Danger: Genetically modified HIV and Herpes Viruses” sign had the intended effect (it was also true). In an office context, I would find a nice official-looking “Emergency Exit Only” sign to put on the door, and then ideally put something there to block the path; leave it there until facilities notices and makes you remove the blockage, which they will, but hopefully it lasts long enough to get people out of the habit.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      That’s the first thing I thought of, too. Sounds like the problem is that the manager’s office has been put in the wrong place. I wonder if the office could be swapped with another work area?

  4. Kai*

    I can totally understand not saying anything.
    Being friends outside of work I a completely different to working with someone.
    LW could have zero way of knowing how her pal acted at work, what her reputation was, & what she might potentially say to anyone about LW. Who knows what the pal’s boundaries at work are?
    I can completely understand keeping friendships out of work.
    Setting boundaries isn’t weird. Friends outside work doesn’t always equal friends at work.
    And by the reaction of the pal, LW made the right choice to keep her counsel.
    Personally, I’d be very wary working with the pal at all.

    1. Weirded Out*

      “And by the reaction of the pal, LW made the right choice to keep her counsel.”

      Nah, the friend was reacting to some bizarre and off-putting behavior on the LW’s part. That doesn’t give any indication of how the friend would have reacted if the LW acted in a more expected way. Alison’s answer even acknowledged how weird the LW’s behavior was here. Pretending she wasn’t even interviewing until after she started a job on her (former?) friend’s team wasn’t asserting a boundary – it was alienating a friend and new coworker for no discernible reason.

    2. Seashell*

      Lying when asked a direct question and when the truth could be easily found out isn’t a boundary – it’s a mistake.

      1. Lorac*


        Exactly. Telling your friend that it’s just an “informal interview” when she’s been actively interviewing for over 2 months? In the same department her friend is working in? That’s so easily uncovered no wonder her friend felt weirded out and started withdrawing from her.

    3. Melissa*

      “Setting a boundary” would be, “Oh I don’t want to talk about it yet!” Lying to her friend/acquaintance, and then going an entire work day without even acknowledging the situation isn’t a boundary, it’s just weird.

    4. Yeah...*

      This seems extreme. This logic sounds hostile. Do whatever works for you.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the “friendship,” such as it was, ended. No extinction burst needed, just fade away.

    5. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I imagine then if you wanted to keep your friends/work separate (like I do), you’d be caught pretty off guard by a close enough friend showing up at your place of employment and finding out that the friend will now be working with colleagues that you have already established working relationships with.

      All the reason to have the conversation at the interview stage. LW couldn’t have known what the pal’s boundaries are because they chose to lie to the friend. LW invited the drama into the workplace.

      1. MassMatt*

        If keeping work and personal life separate were so important to the OP then they should not have applied for a job, interviewed (and lied about it), and accepted a job in the very department where their friend worked. This is not how you maintain boundaries.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          Exactly. I don’t see how the LW thought they could keep work and personal life separate if she and an outside acquaintance or friend *worked in the same department.*

          Sure, “we won’t talk about drunken bar-crawl antics at work” is a good boundary. But “I’m going to lie to you about seeking a job at your workplace” is downright weird. I wouldn’t blame the acquaintance for thinking that OP is, if not toxic, at least untrustworthy, and withdraws from all but the most superficial pleasantries.

    6. Friendo*

      If you really want to keep your friend and work life separate in such an extreme way than you shouldn’t apply to work with your friend.

    7. biobotb*

      If LW wanted to keep friendships out of work, it’s bizarre that she’d go to the trouble of interviewing for, and accepting, a job where a friend/acquaintance worked. It’s one thing to keep quiet if you don’t know if the job will work out, it’s another to pretend you can somehow keep your job hidden and separate from your friend who is now a coworker.

      Plus you can’t really “keep your counsel” about a job you’ve taken. It will become public knowledge eventually, in particular to your, you know, coworkers.

    8. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      The “pal’s” reaction was “LW is interviewing at my company, but is being cagy about it. Maybe I am coming on too strong, I am going to pull back”

      Sorry, you cannot want to keep something like this private from a friend you would be working with and not expect that “friend” to think you don’t really consider them a friend and to pull back from you.

      Also, hiding the fact LW was coming to work in their friend’s department and then being slighted that said friend didn’t congratulate them on the job is beyond galling.

  5. Sharpie*

    LW3, if you can, block the door in question from both sides and then you won’t have people opening it from outside into whatever you put in front of it on your office side. Just make sure it’s not a fire exit or something first – there are multiple instances of people dying in fires where fire exits were blocked or locked. (I watch the YouTube channel Fascinating Horror, which covers all sorts of disasters, both very well known and not at all well known.)

    1. Random European*

      If it’s a fire exit, it should be possible to mark it as exclusively such and put on one of those twist-to-open locks. Which would still solve the letter writer’s problem.

    2. Ranon*

      If it’s a fire exit something has gone wrong anyways as designing exits to pass through someone’s office is a terrible idea. Also sounds like the doors already have locks which would indicate it’s highly unlikely to be a fire exit. Or again, if it is, someone has screwed up.

      1. MassMatt*

        The fact that people are knocking on locked office doors, or going around and unlocking them from the other side, all for a short cut somewhere, is very odd.

    3. A CAD Monkey*

      Unless the architect, plan reviewers, and/or inspectors completely ignored building code (or the reno was done without a permit), then the LW’s office cannot be part of the egress path.

  6. Scottish Teapot*

    LW#4 I’ve got to admit I’m way too superstitious/anxious to say to people I’m interviewing in case it doesn’t go well. I’d also be likely to say it’s an informal thing until the contract is signed. So it might well be a similar thing here.

    1. Lexi Vipond*

      Yes, this. Maybe also too private, but ‘secretive’ in the first comment really rubbed me up the wrong way.

      Although I have the impression that just randomly losing your job is much more common in the US, which might mean that the kind of job hunt where you ask people for leads is more common – generally anyone I know is keeping it pretty quiet.

      (Also, does ‘putting in a good word’ for people ever really work – outside of something tiny like a village cafe? I would expect the boss being asked to prefer person A because they were person B’s friend to be put off by it, not encouraged!)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        If you’re just “we like the same movies” friends then probably it makes little difference.

        But if it’s more like “we’re on the PTA together and she’s great at chairing meetings” or “we met at $OldJob and I’d gladly work with him again” and the already-employee has good standing then sure.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        Yes, it’s common to ask for leads or give leads here in the US. I got my first really good job when someone in a social club mentioned a company that was hiring. She didn’t work there, she had heard about it from someone else.
        Then when I’m actually interviewing, I don’t tell a lot of details. I might mention it to my more trusted friends but I live alone, so there’s no one who needs to know the details.

      3. ecnaseener*

        Sure, I’ve forwarded an acquaintance’s resume to my boss, and my boss looked at her resume and asked HR to schedule her for an interview, skipping the HR phone screen – not because I asked or expected my boss to “prefer” her, but because I was essentially fulfilling that “screening” function by confirming that she was a generally pleasant person. (We did hire her! On the strength of her resume and interview, obviously.)

      4. Ranon*

        Given that a great deal of hiring is not only determining skills but also determining whether the person is someone who will be reasonably tolerable and ideally actually pleasant to be around and work with, it’s incredibly helpful to have input from someone who’s got a longer term perspective

      5. J!*

        I’ve gotten almost all of my jobs because of connections to people I knew through work or friends. It’s extremely common in some fields in the US.

      6. Cmdrshprd*

        “Also, does ‘putting in a good word’ for people ever really work”

        My large corporate employer pays a referral bonus to the sourcing employee if they refer and a person and they get hired and they stay on for a year.

        In most well run businesses (I don’t have any data to back it up, and don’t know the number of well run businesses) a referral will maybe get you an interview, and give you. a slight leg up, bit won’t guarantee you the job. You still need to be qualified on your own merits.

        In my mind, if you have two “identical” candidates or who are really close, the referral from a current candidate would be enough to give that candidate the edge.

        Like on their own each employee scores 93/100, but the referral give one person an extra 4 points so that person is 98 versus 93.

        Or on their own person A is 91, and person B is 93, but person A has a referral so person A gets an extra 4 points putting them at 95 versus person Bs 93, so person A gets hired.

      7. metadata minion*

        If you have two excellent candidates, being told by a current employee you trust (and that’s an important element!) that they’re not secretly a trash fire can help tip their candidacy over the edge. Someone could always be radically different at work than they are at home/with friends, but I’m guessing it’s fairly unusual for someone to be a sensible person who’s good at organizing pizza night with friends and doesn’t stir up drama, and then turn out to be terrible and passive-aggressive at work.

        Being good at organizing pizza night of course doesn’t automatically translate to being good at organizing donor galas, but that’s what the resume and professional references should cover.

      8. Llama Llama*

        I have seen it work often in my company. I don’t think my friend (who I used to work with at another company and knew how she worked) would have gotten a job with my company without me highly recommending her.

        It’s not ‘oh yeah I know Sally’s it’s ‘I know Sally and she is excellent at XYZ’

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yes, “too superstitious” is definitely why I don’t tell even my closest friends about certain big changes until they’re nailed down.

      That said, when I knew I would potentially be working with a friend I discussed it with him discreetly ahead of time (and ultimately benefited from his support).

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, it’s okay not to mention you’re interviewing (although it sounds like there was good reason to believe the friend already knew, making OP’s avoidance kind of strange) – many people would, but some wouldn’t. But it’s pretty weird not to mention when you got and accepted a job in their department. That makes it seem like, what, you thought your friend would torpedo your new job if they knew about it, or something? It’s just a bit odd, because obviously they were going to notice when you … showed up at their office …

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah I mean I might not mention at the interview stage but I think if you’re taking a job in the same department as a friend you socialise with regularly, then it’s very weird not to mention it. That’s the sort of thing you tell people before you show up.

          I mean I’ve taken jobs and then met someone in the team who I’ve known / worked with before. But if it’s a friend then it’s kind of good manners to tell them you’re joining the team when the job is confirmed.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          Yes, why else wouldn’t they tell their friend, unless they were afraid of sabotage.
          The only other reason I can think of is if they’re so intensely private/secretive it interferes with their relationships.

    3. SpaceySteph*

      I am also superstitious and I would probably have made this same white lie about an informal interview.

      But once I got the job and a start date, I’d have told my friend about it, especially if they worked there! By the time you give your 2 weeks notice at the old job, you’ve already jinxed yourself way worse than telling a friend anyway! I think OP’s friend is correct in assuming they’re not as good a friend to the OP as they thought they were, and I don’t blame them for being hurt.

    4. biobotb*

      “Superstitious” doesn’t explain not letting her friend know they’re now coworkers, it only holds before she got the job.

    1. 1-800-BrownCow*

      #1: I realize this is an old letter, but after reading it and the update linked below, I can’t help but wonder what goes through some peoples’ heads. At my first career job the company hired a manager that very early on started showing some weird, inappropriate behavior. He was fired 3 months later after majorly crossing the line with his inappropriateness, and told exactly what all led to him being fired. For the next month, he kept calling the company asking for his job back. After management and HR started ignoring his calls, he would call during the off-shifts and try to get the off-shift supervisors to speak to management on his behalf. He eventually stopped calling, so we don’t know if management did something about it or he got hired elsewhere or he just gave up. Regardless, with everything that happened and the reasons he was told they were firing him, I didn’t understand why he wanted to come back or why he thought the company would rehire him.

  7. Rew123*

    so lw4 had been interviewing at her friends job for several months. The friends sees her at her workplace and asks about it. Lw considers this prying (instead of a totally expected interation amongst friends) and therefore tells a halftruth. Then doesn’t tell the friend she has been hired. Friend obviously knows since she works there, but somehow the friend is at fault cause she didn’t go out of her way to congratulate lw eventhough lw never informed friend.

    1. A.P.*

      Yeah, I really don’t get the LW’s endgame. Did she expect to still get together every two weeks and never acknowledge they were coworkers, while at work they never spoke about their friendship and pretended like they didn’t know each other.

      It’s all very odd.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      I read it as LW is 22 and interviewing for first real job. She’s nervous about the entire process and doesn’t want someone who is in her group of college friends to know. She’s never received a job with an actual offer letter before and just doesn’t know how to act with the friend who already works there, but chooses the awkward option of surprising her on day 1. Friend is also early 20’s and takes this slight very seriously.

      1. name of the day*

        this is how i read it as well. clearly two young people who are both a little clueless and handled it poorly.

    3. biobotb*

      I think the congratulations were about the LW’s engagement to be married, but yeah if I learned that someone felt I wasn’t close enough to share big life news with, I wouldn’t go out of my way to congratulate them on any milestones.

      I don’t really understand the LW’s idea that her job is so private she wants to hide it from a future coworker, but she’s close enough to this coworker that the coworker should care if the LW gets engaged.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        I don’t know why you’d want to *choose* a job where you’d be working with someone you didn’t like or trust. Unless jobs are very scarce or this was an absolute plum job.

        LW is acting oddly and I can’t blame their “friend” for being upset, though I would keep a lid on the reaction at the workplace. (Just start quietly withdrawing from the friendship.)

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          If I was the Friend I would be really leary of WHY LW was so stealthy in their attempts to try and work in my department. Like, unless LW explained in some way, I would not want to remain friends with her. Hell, if she said “You were prying by asking about my job search (you know, something friends ask about) when you saw me clearly interviewing at your company” I wouldn’t want to remain friends either.

  8. Angstrom*

    #1: If it’s someone’s first job, and their idea of the working world has been formed by watching rom-coms, how do they know what is “wildly inappropriate”?
    What new workers don’t know is a frequent topic here. Things like not dating in the chain of command should be part of basic training for anyone new to the workforce.
    That said, hitting on your new boss IS wildly inappropriate and a huge red flag.

    1. Lilo*

      I mean, the LW didn’t fire the guy for the comment. But I’ll push back a bit because often the trope is that women particularly are supposed so somehow socialize men or be responsible for teaching them in situations where they are made uncomfortable. That’s not okay.

    2. Yup!*

      There’s a huge difference between asking how long lunch breaks are and asking your supervisor what the policy is on dating supervisors. That it’s a man asking a woman also has lots of sexist red flags. Let’s not dismiss this as just another type of work question. Women are harassed in the workplace in all kinds of ways.

    3. AngryOctopus*

      If your only question after being hired is about dating in the chain of command, it’s not about you not knowing work norms. It’s about you being a creepy inappropriate person.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Thank you. Let’s not twist ourselves into knots to justify the guy being wildly inappropriate. (really only knowledge of work world is RomComs?).

        The guy quit after 4 hours because he didn’t realize working at a GARDEN CENTER would be physically demanding.

        If you read the update, he gets even weirder. He tried to get rehired a few months later and lied about how long he worked and how he quit. Then tried to argue with OP. This is not someone who does not understand work norms. This is someone who doesn’t want work norms to apply to him.

        1. ampersand*

          Yep, his behavior was overall wildly inappropriate. It doesn’t even matter where he got the idea that it was okay to ask about dating your boss—it was off the charts wrong, and the wrongness escalated from there.

    4. ecnaseener*

      I don’t really get your point – are you disagreeing with the advice to make it clear that it’s an inappropriate question? If he doesn’t realize, that’s all the more reason to make it clear, no?

    5. GythaOgden*

      Yeah, I’d say /not/ dating your teacher or professor is something that can probably carry over from school into the workplace fairly easily as ‘no dating your supervisors or managers’. It’s not rocket science. I don’t think you should have to spell it out like the guy is some kind of alien. Like, the kid who escaped a cult in France recently may have had his norms warped…but for anyone with a relatively normal background and upbringing at this stage they should know who is ok to ask out and who isn’t.

      In practice a brief conversation about it wouldn’t be expending too much emotional labour on educating men not to be dipsticks to women, but I totally agree it should nowadays be front and centre of anyone’s general education and life skills that it’s at best a pitfall and at worst a catastrophe for everyone involved to be dating up. And this is from someone who at 13 had a raging crush on one of my mum’s friends from church, so I know the feeling from a gender-neutral perspective. Everyone should know that by the time they’re being employed.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        When I was teaching 18-year-olds I had a (female) student ask me if it was okay for a student to date a teacher, and in the course of that discussion it became clear that she didn’t have any taboo against dating in the chain of command, either. (And also that her seatmates were also interested in my answer.) Based on the population of students, I’m guessing she didn’t have a lot of professional examples in her life, and hadn’t had any really strong mentor relationships with teachers, either. I didn’t think it was inappropriate for her to ask, and was glad that she asked me, as a knowledgeable third party, rather than the target of her interest. And I was glad to have it as a teaching moment.

        That said, there’s a HUGE difference between asking several months into the school year, when you know each other, and it being basically the first question you ask in the first 30 minutes of the job. To your (presumably) attractive female supervisor.

    6. Lexi Vipond*

      I’d actually find it less creepy if he’d just said ‘would like you to have a drink with me sometime?’ or whatever – that’s inappropriate, but it could be foolish and miguided rather than sinister. It’s the implication that it’s the policy rather than OP that will decide whether it happens or not that makes it feel really weird.

      Whereas a question about the policy on dating colleagues would be a bit odd but possibly innocuous – maybe you found out about the job from someone you are already pretty close to and not quite sure where it’s going, rather than plotting about people you haven’t met yet!

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Yes, from the same school of thought of “why don’t you want to go out with me, do you have a boyfriend?” as if the only reason to turn someone down is already “belonging” to someone else (or being prohibited by work regulations) and not one’s own personal preference on the matter.

        1. Stopped Using My Name*

          Absolutely agree.

          This is why I wish people would stop saying “but I’m happily married/in a relationship” as a response to this. Your relationship status is not the issue/defense/solution.

          1. MassMatt*

            In an ideal world, women could tell men asking them out “no thank you” and that would be that. But alas, we are not there, and a simple polite “no” is often met with anything between demands for explanations, arguments, accusations of bitchiness, stalking, or worse.

            IMO finding fault with someone for saying “no, I have a boyfriend” to someone asking them out at a bar (or worse, at work) is very misplaced. Maybe they don’t want to have a long argument in a bar. Maybe they need to maintain the work relationship and this is the least likely to result in them being blamed or facing some sort of retaliation.

          2. Sally Rhubarb*

            Yeah except the pigs pressing for a date won’t take any other reason as an answer.

            I once had some creepy older guy keep hitting on me when I was a cashier. Kept asking me out. Wouldn’t take no for an answer. Finally had to say “I don’t think my [then] fiance would appreciate me stepping out with another man.”

            Instantly he backed off and apologized to my fiance (who wasn’t even there FFS).

            So don’t police women/AFAB like this, it isn’t constructive or helpful.

      1. new old friend*

        +10000 for this. If someone “just doesn’t know any better”, it’s important to teach them clearly!

  9. EvilQueenRegina*

    I’d say there’s several reasons why OP might not have wanted to declare at the *interview* stage – worrying about jinxing it as said, or not wanting it to get back to her current boss at that stage before she had a formal offer in hand and thinking that the best way of ensuring that was to tell nobody at all. Not saying anything once she actually had an offer is maybe a bit weirder, but I don’t personally think that warranted the silent treatment.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t know that it warranted silent treatment – but it would be a sign to me that the OP wasn’t actually my friend, and I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to get in touch with her.

      1. biobotb*

        Exactly. The LW isn’t sharing her life with the acquaintance/coworker, but expects that person to put in effort to stay in touch? Doesn’t really make sense. The LW was the one who made it really clear they don’t have a relationship.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          Agreed. That’s how I’d feel if I was the LW’s “friend” – “Lucinda didn’t tell me she would be working with me, even after she got a firm offer. I don’t think we’re as close friends as I thought. Time for polite distance.”

  10. Lilo*

    I think #2 probably needed to find another job. It’s one thing to tell your boss that you’re using checklists and trying to stop making major mistakes and actually stopping making the mistakes.

    I’ve been in the position of training someone who would write similar emails, talking about what he was going to do to improve his work, but then he’d never actually deliver on the promises (To be clear, we provide a lot of support/checklists/guides on top of training time and open office hours). So I wouldn’t necessarily find the email LW2 sent reassuring. The people who actually turn their work around don’t tend to send those big plan emails.

    1. Clorinda*

      If that’s the case, OP would have to train people not to use her office as a thoroughfare.
      “Can I come through your office?”
      “Is the building on fire right now?”
      “Um, no?”
      “Then, no. Go the other way.” Yes, that might be seen as rude. But not as rude as repeatedly treating someone’s workspace as a hallway when you KNOW they don’t like it–which clearly they do know, as they keep apologizing or saying it’s the last time.

  11. ecnaseener*

    It’s the “fast forward to the end of my first day” that gets me on the last letter. LW got a job in their friend’s department and apparently just showed up for their first day like normal without ever saying “hey friend, guess what, we’re going to be coworkers”? Did they acknowledge the friendship when they were getting “introduced” to their new team?? I know the friend was giving them the cold shoulder by that point and that muddies things, but we would really need to know how LW acted earlier in the day to fully understand the friend’s reaction in the elevator.

    1. working on the couch today*

      I wonder if the friend knew that LW was hired before the LW showed up for their first day via a discussion with the boss or a department gossip, whatever. That, and/or the boss contradicted the ‘informal’ interview lie or maybe the friend knew their company does not do ‘informal’ interviews. So, maybe that contributed to the friend pulling back on a friendship before the LW’s first day.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I’m sure the friend did know, at least a few days in advance — new hires’ names are usually announced ahead of their start date. But if I were the friend I’d still expect a heads-up even though it might not be strictly needed… then again I wouldn’t freeze my friend out about it either, so who knows.

          1. Courtbot*

            Not even to members of the team they’ll be joining? That seems odd to me. Generally there’s planning that needs to take place before a new hire starts and I can’t imagine doing that without mentioning the person’s name.

        1. biobotb*

          I mean, the LW froze out their friend(?)/acquaintance/now-coworker first, no? She made it clear how distant their relationship was, so if the coworker stopped putting effort in I don’t think that’s freezing the LW out.

  12. Falling Diphthong*

    Y’all, in the You May Also Like letter 2 is the reprise of Juice Guy! With a link to the original cover.

    1. Melissa*

      Juice guy! Alison’s assessment that “this wasn’t just about the juice” is spot-on. The guideline I’ve developed over the years is, If somebody (whom I don’t know super well) gives me a CRAZY story about why they were fired/disciplined at work… that’s usually not the real reason.

  13. Sloanicota*

    #2 – I realize these are old letters and already had the chance to be revised once, but I would have added my $.02 – you should be job searching at this point. Even if you don’t make another mistake next month it sounds like you’re on pretty thin ice, and once you get a certain reputation it can be really hard to turn it around – your boss is saying you’re completely out of strikes, and that’s an uncomfortable place to be. It’s always great to have started looking for a new job before you really, really need one.

  14. Ashley*

    I think it’s totally reasonable #5 didn’t want to bring it up until they got the job (it’d be easy to assume they didn’t want to be embarrassed if it didn’t happen, they didn’t want to jinx it, etc). But once you’ve got it, you’re going to be potentially seeing this person at work regularly as part of the same team and, because of the initial interaction, they know you were interviewing. “Hey, just wanted to let you know I got the job! I had been nervous about jinxing it so I didn’t really share that I was interviewing with people but wanted to let you know I got it” or something, doesn’t have to be gushing but it’s so awkward to just not say anything including through the entire first day.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yeah I might not mention it until I’d got the job. I can understand not wanting to jinx it.

      But once you’re appointed and know you’re going to be working there, it’s very unusual not to mention it at all to someone who is a friend you’ve been seeing fairly often. Otherwise it seems a bit weird just to show up and expect your friend not to be surprised or slightly hurt you didn’t say anything. If I were the friend in question I’d feel a bit hurt that the OP didn’t mention it at any point.

  15. Purely Allegorical*

    #5 — seeing someone ‘twice a month’ for about 18 months is… quite a lot, actually! I have best friends who I don’t see that often. While you clearly don’t care much for this person, it’s entirely reasonable that she would have assumed you guys were on a ‘more than acquaintance’ level, solely by how often you saw each other in social contexts.

    As others have said, your intense privacy about this seems misplaced. It comes off as a bit paranoid to me. I could understand not wanting to ‘jinx the process’ early on, but when you advanced to an offer and even had your first day without telling this person, that is just very very odd. I can’t blame your coworker for her reaction, though I do agree she’s blowing it out of proportion.

    1. Purely Allegorical*

      Also, I can’t fully agree that Friend/Coworker is giving LW the silent treatment… LW went out of his/her way to keep Friend in the dark about the job, sending a VERY clear signal that LW doesn’t consider Friend to be much of a friend. If I were Friend, I would read that appropriately and pull back.

      It’s REALLY hypocritical of LW to be upset that Friend didn’t congratulate the engagement or the new job, when LW re-set the relationship first. Friend was taking LW’s cue.

      1. biobotb*

        Yeah exactly. The LW made it clear she doesn’t even consider this person an acquaintance (most people would give an acquaintance a heads-up about getting hired on their team!). She doesn’t owe her coworker friendship, but the coworker doesn’t owe HER friendship, either, and certainly isn’t obligated to put more effort into the relationship than the LW.

      2. Saturday*

        Yes! The “silent treatment” language doesn’t really fit here in my opinion. It makes perfect sense that the friend would pull back in response to the LW’s cues.

        Also, it doesn’t sound like she was even that “silent” – she texted LW to say she wasn’t attending the social outing, and we don’t even know if her canceling had anything to do with the LW.

      3. MassMatt*

        Was going to say this. Why is it perfectly understandable for LW not only not to tell the work… acquaintance about interviewing, but lie about it, yet the coworker is being terrible by not engaging with the LW?

        You can expect congrats on getting engaged and chattiness at work, OR you can act super secret about interviewing at my department, the two don’t go together.

      4. GreyjoyGardens*

        +1 also! I’d be getting the message that LW didn’t consider us to be friends, just acquaintances or “having fun pals.” And of course I’d be pulling back. “So this is what you think of our friendship, I’d better dial it back.”

    2. Generic Name*

      This is 100% my take on this. I’m guessing the OP, at the time of writing, was very young. Like under 25 and recently in college where you see your friends multiple times a day.

  16. Excel Jedi*

    I loved that the first “rerun” also had an old update. I wonder if Alison has enough updates by now that all of her December vacation letters can be curated to have updates – or at least a week of them. It’s a nice reversal of the update letters later in the day.

  17. i drink too much coffee*

    So the door thing recently happened in my office actually! There’s an office we used to be able to go through to get to the rest of the suite easier, and the people who previously held the office either kept the doors opened and didn’t mind, or were hardly ever working in the office so definitely didn’t mind. A much higher up person recently took over the office, and it’s been closed and locked and treated as a wall ever since. He’ll occasionally open it to ask us something, but it’s understood we don’t have the same luxury (again, he’s many levels above us).

    It’s been a little annoying to lose our faster route, but not a huge deal. We adapted. The people in this person’s office will too!

  18. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    #2 — yes sorry is not enough. You can’t just be sorry. You have to fix it and find out what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again. A major screw up once a month is a big deal. In some industries, it can cost the company a lot of money or even the ability to continue working.

    It could be this type of work is not right for you. But its clear your boss is out of patience with you, so whatever the reason, it might be time to move on.

    1. MassMatt*

      If this were my report, the repetitive nature of the mistakes would be alarming. After one error, I mention it and chalk it up to inexperience. After a second, I retrain and emphasize the need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If it happens a third time I conclude the person is either not listening and/or just not right for the job. Apologies without improvement would indeed not fly.

      OP should Stick with the checklists if they help, but also consider maybe this is not the right job for them.

      I feel as though we’ve seen many letters from managers in this situation and sadly quite often they are, or at least feel they are, stuck with the poor performer.

  19. Irish Teacher*

    LW5, it seems likely to me that your acquaintance/friend viewed your relationship as a lot closer than you did. Actively making plans to meet up about every two weeks would generally be more than a social acquaintanceship to me and perhaps to her as well. I don’t meet my BFFs that often. To me, a social acquaintance is somebody you wouldn’t ever actually arrange to meet, but who you’ll chat to if you happen to bump into one another.

    Making regular plans to meet up would, I think, to many people, imply “close personal friend.” I do know it’s not that simple and that sometimes you can have somebody you hang out with a lot because you live close by or have a lot of mutual friends or share interests but you don’t feel particularly close to them and would never turn to then for support or anything deeper than shared socialising, but given her reaction, I am guessing that is not how she felt and that she sees you as a close personal friend.

  20. Dust Bunny*

    #2: You do damage control by finding systems that work for you to reduce the number of mistakes. There’s no magic formula here–you’re on thin ice and the remedy is to do better, as your boss stated.

    I hope this person found something that worked for them, or a job that was a better fit.

  21. BellyButton*

    #1 and the update!!! WOW! Every time I think I have seen and heard it all, AAM doesn’t disappoint.

  22. Hiring Mgr*

    I know people are different but I can’t fathom being in #3’s position and not saying anything to the friend, and then expect everything to be normal when she shows up there. If nothing else, wouldn’t it be good to get insight on the company you’re potentially going to work for?

    But you did say you don’t want to jinx (great scrabble word if you can get the TWS) it, and I do realize some people are very superstitious so I guess that explains it?

  23. BellyButton*

    For some reason #5 reminded me of a not-very similar story. Way back when I was in college – 30 yrs ago (I typed 20 yrs first, because the 90s were 20 yrs ago!!), I was hired to do data entry at the company my father worked for. After a couple of months, someone realized I had the same last name as “John”, and they mentioned it. I said “Yup, he is my dad.” The person was shocked, he said he didn’t know John was married or had kids. Ha! They were both senior VPs who had worked at the company together for around 15 yrs.

    Completely different circumstance, but it just reminded me of this.

    My take on #5, is that it is odd OP didn’t mention it, considering their relationship with the person. My first thought was maybe OP didn’t want the friend to interfere. That OP didn’t want the friend to put in a good word for her or something like that. But after getting the job, it is odd that OP didn’t say anything “Hi friend, I got the job! I didn’t tell you about it sooner because I didn’t want you to think I wanted you to put in a good word for me. I am excited to work together!”

  24. And thanks for the coffee*

    Not exactly on point as per usual comments, but I’m wondering in case anyone knows this. Re:#2 response includes the word religiously. How did the word religiously come to also mean doing something consistently?

    1. BellyButton*

      Chat GPT answered
      “The word “religiously” came to mean regularity through its association with the consistent and dedicated observance of religious practices. Over time, this association expanded to include any action or behavior done with unwavering consistency and dedication, leading to the use of “religiously” to mean “regularly” in a non-religious context.”

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      From Wikipedia, the etymology of religion is!
      It is ultimately derived from the Latin word religiō. According to Roman philosopher Cicero, religiō comes from relegere: re (meaning “again”) + lego (meaning “read”), where lego is in the sense of “go over”, “choose”, or “consider carefully”.
      So, the term “religiously” for something consistent and repeated makes sense.

  25. Ink*

    #1 is so absurd, especially with the update, you almost have to admire the guy. Like… wow, with that level of confidence and audacity you might be able to brazen your way into effecting real positive change in the world. Maybe give that a go instead of this!

  26. Ex-prof*

    Why can’t I find the update to #1? The link just takes me to a different post, four answers but no updates.

  27. CZ*

    On #3 people are so rude! You don’t walk through someone’s office! I say it’s OK to do whatever you have to, to prevent this.

  28. Was the Grink There*

    The oddest thing about OP5’s tale is that the friend is reacting as though OP had done something normal-but-hurtful, when in fact OP did something inexplicably bizarre. I’d certainly have thoughts about that if a friend of mine handled things like OP did, but they would be more of the “Huh?? What??” variety than the playbook of “my friend was rude and didn’t apologize.”

  29. Lorac*


    I read the silent treatment starting after the friend realized OP lied. If she’d been actively interviewing in her department for 2 months, it’s definitely not an informal interview. All it takes is mentioning to her manager that she knows the candidate personally and she could easily find out that it was a serious on-going interview.

    At which point her impression would be that OP didn’t tell her about applying to her team, and when she she got caught, told a lie. That goes beyond someone being weird, it’s the actions of someone who doesn’t consider you a friend and doesn’t trust you enough to tell the truth.

  30. new old friend*

    Oh, I really feel for LW2 and hope they landed on their feet. I was in a similar situation where I was just struggling and making constant mistakes (and then it turned out it was at least partially because nobody would tell me what I was supposed to be doing when I thought I was doing the right thing…).
    I hope everything worked out and the stress of being in that situation hasn’t lingered too long.

  31. Ess Ess*

    I would also like to point out that many companies give referral bonuses to employees that refer other people to get hired at the company. If I had a friend (close enough acquaintance that I see on a regular basis), I would be very hurt that they didn’t bother to let me know they were interested in applying. This has 2 reasons… 1) it would give OP an edge to have a known worker vouch for them. and 2) blocking me from getting a very large bonus as a side benefit with OP getting hired. In my company if someone I refer gets hired, I get a $4000 bonus, and even larger bonus if they are a ‘diversity hire’.

  32. Flax Spinner*

    LW2: “Sorry isn’t good enough anymore” is what a fed-up supervisor would say in answer to the umpteenth apology for the umpteenth error by an employee who’s being perceived as careless and scatterbrained. And that supervisor has a point: apologies won’t fix past mistakes and they won’t prevent future ones!

    But it sounds as if you’ve already found some good, workable solutions to prevent errors in the future; your checklists. Those are invaluable and also motivating – I make and use them myself and find it’s very satisfying to be able to check off one task after another and see my progress. If you keep using this method and double-check your work, both you and your manager should have the satisfaction of seeing your make real, tangible progress. And that’s the best possible antidote to being seen as ditzy!

  33. Tiger Snake*

    Its years late to the party, but for anyone else in a similar boat to #2 – in addition to job searching, I was taught that an apology requires a minimum of all these things:

    1 – an acknowledgement of your actions (ownership for them. No ‘Buts’)
    2 – a recognition of how your actions impacted everyone else
    3 – what you are going to be to prevent it happening again

    For personal apologies, the final item is 4 – what you’re going to do to provide restitution and make up for the harm.

    I was taught that “I know I dropped the ball, I’m sorry” is not an apology because it doesn’t do this. I was taught it was an attempt to force someone else to be magnanimous.

    More generally, that means when we’re facing our mistakes, we need think very seriously about the words we use. We need to make sure what we’re saying is a genuine effort to demonstrate recognition and improvement to the other person, not to make ourselves feel less uncomfortable. The second is, uncomfortably, what the monkey-brain inside us wants to prioritise.

  34. Bunny Lake Is Found*

    I really do hope the LW in #4 said something to their friend…heck even just the “yeah, I got weird, I was freaked out trying to get a job. That’s on me” as suggested. Because taken on its face by the friend, it could easily look like the LW’s aim was to enmesh themselves into their friend’s life by secretly trying to get a job working with them–no different than if LW had moved into an apartment on the same floor as their friend and was cagy about the fact they were viewing apartments in the building. And that could feel really unsettling, when the actual reasoning of the LW was based in trying to maintain work life/personal life boundaries, not blur them in a toxic way.

  35. is America so weird?*

    A new employee comes to workplace, finds out that a supervisor is dating an employee, wonders if that is correct, and asks his supervisor what is the company policy related to this. And the supervisor gets angry, when someone questions her privilege to do whatever with her employees.

    Then she gives over-demanding tasks to that person to get a pretext to fire him?

    1. America is not the problem here*

      Haha, that’s a very silly interpretation not based on the text of the letter at all. If I read a novel with the plot you spun, I’d think the writer should try another career.

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