update: my coworker has a crush on our boss and is mad that I asked her to stop talking about him

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer whose coworker had a crush on their boss and was mad that she asked her to stop talking about him? Here’s the update.

Things seemed seemed to calm down till the end of the summer. After my first letter, I started documenting conversations to prepare for a confrontation with Keith. Jan then started dating someone! yay for an appropriate distraction! The passive aggressive comments stopped about 99%. I thought we were in the clear.

Unfortunately it didn’t last. They split up after a few months. To put it simply because Jan’s deadbeat adult son drove her new beau away. Jan’s insecurities and inappropriate boundaries returned quickly. Only this time she stated being more “public” with her flirting and obnoxious comments.

I was recently promoted and started receiving more “attention” from Keith since I work with him more on projects now. During a group lunch I had my phone on the table. Jan saw a message alert and immediately demanded to know why Keith was contacting me and not her and that I didn’t need to bother him while he was on vacation. Another coworker stepped in and asked why it mattered? Jan loudly snapped back that she is the office manager and “the only one that takes care of Keith.” She left the restaurant embarrassed and my puzzled coworkers asked what all that was about. I filled them in on the other inappropriate comments. Our other coworkers at the table thought she was joking with the flirting, but clearly wasn’t now. My coworker Stacy, that I have since befriended, volunteered to talk to Jan to tell her to knock it off or she would tell Keith personally. Whatever she told her seemed to work because she essentially ignored us for a few weeks. Probably because she was afraid we would gang up on her.

I wish I could say that was the end but her behavior escalated again at Keith’s daughters engagement party last month. Jan introduced herself several times as “Aunt Jan” to the point where Keith’s wife Amy told her to stop. Then after a few too many drinks she “jokingly” tried to insert herself in a family picture and cut into dances with Keith’s wife. I could tell from across the room that Amy told Keith to make her leave. He actually asked Stacy and I to take her home. We all came separately. I firmly told him no that we were enjoying ourselves. We weren’t responsible for her and he needed to be the one to deal with her. Stacy went as far as to say that “she pulls this crap at work too and you know it.” He eventually called her an Uber. I think it finally took her making an idiot of herself in front of his family for him to realize how obnoxious her behavior had become for everyone. Keith said he would call her over the weekend to have a “long talk.”

I don’t know what the details of the conversation were, but she didn’t come to work that Monday and put in her notice not too long ago. She said she needed a fresh start and decided to move closer to other family. I think once she finally figured out that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted out of Keith that giving herself a fresh start would be wise. I do wish her well. I did learn through Stacy that her marriage wasn’t a happy one and combined with the deadbeat son, her possessive, people-pleasing with Keith made a lot more sense. I’m hoping this move will give her a new sense of purpose.

{ 297 comments… read them below }

  1. Just Want A Nap*

    ewwwwww I’m glad Jan’s gone. I felt gross reading what she said.
    AND thinking you were flirting with him when you were working??? just no. so gross.

  2. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m glad that the problem eventually took care of itself but I don’t love that you refused to take her home when it was Keith’s daughter’s party and you, as an employee (presumably not there as a friend), could have helped neutralise the situation. There was a time and a space for taking a stance but I’m not convinced a family party was it.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      It’s not about taking a stance; it’s perfectly reasonable to not want to be responsible for a drunk, irrational coworker, especially when Uber was an option.

      1. StressedButOkay*

        Agreed. Who knows if the situation would have escalated if OP had taken her home? Nothing like a drunk, irrational, very embarrassed person stewing in your car.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Agreed! In a situation like this, I think it’s the drunk employee’s manager who should deal with that employee, not other coworkers. The employee, drunk as she is, is far less likely to react badly to her manager forcing her to leave than to other employees, and *especially* if, as in this case, she has issues with those other employees. And if the drunk employee does react badly to her manager, that’s something the manager can and should deal with directly. If OP and Stacy had taken Jan home and things went badly, there wasn’t much they could have done about it, but Keith definitely would have the standing to do something.

          2. chewingle*

            Yeah, an Uber was the only reasonable choice here. Keith trying to put the onus on OP before thinking about an Uber was what threw me. Jan had been weird enough with OP that who knows what would have happened if they’d been forced to be alone in a car together.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Or spewing in your car.

          The OP was invited to the party as an attendee, not as Jan’s keeper. There were options (Uber) that didn’t involve changing that. She and Stacy weren’t on the clock. The consequences of Jan’s behavior shouldn’t fall on them.

          1. Observer*

            She and Stacy weren’t on the clock

            Honestly, even if they were on the clock, it would have been inappropriate for Keith to even suggest this.

        2. Observer*

          Who knows if the situation would have escalated if OP had taken her home? Nothing like a drunk, irrational, very embarrassed person stewing in your car

          Then add to it that she’s apparently jealous of the OP. She got bent out of shape that Keith called the OP rather than *her* and tried to get OP to not call him back. With that level of irrationality when she is *sober*, I just can’t image what things would be like when she’s drunk and lost all sense of reality.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I agree. If a coworker tried to put her in an Uber it would have spilled all the way over. Having Keith draw a line kept her from being able to claim victim (and him being able to ignore it on Monday).

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Yeah, Keith is a drip. If they hadn’t backed him into a corner (of his own making), sounds like he would never have put a stop to the harassment.

          Also, one victim of harassment asking another victim, who is his subordinate, to deal with the perpetrator is…. not a good look.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes. The LW isn’t Jan’s minder and shouldn’t be asked to be responsible for her, especially when she was drunk.

      4. Gertie*

        I don’t know if Uber is an option for a drunk single woman. I know I’d feel more comfortable as a host if someone I knew would drive her home.

        1. Despachito*

          But you cannot ask other people to do that. The best option – unless someone volunteered – would be to take her YOURSELF.

          1. BubbleTea*

            Unless the drunk person has an inappropriate and obvious crush on you, in which case getting into a car with her alone could easily give entirely the wrong message to the drunk person and make things worse. I can understand why Keith didn’t want to do that.

            1. Twenty Points for the Copier*

              Yeah, no way would I expect Keith to take her home when he’s been the subject of her sexually inappropriate comments.

              1. Observer*

                There are not a lot of good options. But expecting your employee who has already been harassed by this person to take her home is the most bad of the possible solutions.

                Also, it’s one thing that he *asked*, it’s really another – and really problematic – to criticize the OP for refusing.

          2. Princess Sparklepony*

            Keith should have had his wife drive her home! That would at least put the problem on the group involved (Jan, Keith, and wife.)

        2. Sorrischian*

          I appreciate that this comes from a place of concern, but I really strongly disagree. The world is not Red Riding Hood, there are not wolves hiding behind every tree to snatch away any unsuspecting woman who strays from the group. Calling Jan an Uber is a perfectly normal and safe thing to do.

          1. Was the Grink There*

            Uhh there are actually plenty of assaults in ubers every year, which the company doesn’t do much to counteract? A normal Uber is probably fine but it’s not paranoid to say, maybe don’t put a woman who’s totally sloshed in one alone.

            1. Candi*

              I had to take Uber from my home to the transit center because the bus doesn’t run that early on Saturdays and I wasn’t passing up a rare long shift at my current work.

              Jerk recognized my name from a romantic ’60s song and had the nerve to sing part of it, and called me darling.

              Guess who got a crappy review.

              (It’s retail. Long story short, I finished my IT degree but don’t have the expensive certs. Any job also solves my references problem from working for a single small business owner for years.)

        3. Observer*

          I don’t know if Uber is an option for a drunk single woman. I know I’d feel more comfortable as a host if someone I knew would drive her home.

          That’s his problem, not theirs. It is A LOT to ask a guest. It’s even worse to ask an employee – and someone who has already been victimized by the person who is misbehaving.

      5. JB*

        A drunk irrational coworker who’s already fixated on OP’s strictly professional relationship with Keith by seeing it as something more that she wants.

      6. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yeah, it’s reasonable not to want to take care of a drunk woman with a grudge against you, and it’s even not reasonable of Keith to ask OP to do that, but OP told him she didn’t want to because she was having a good time and didn’t want to leave, which IMHO is not a good reason when it’s your boss who’s hosting and asking you to deal with the situation.

        1. INeedANap*

          I wish I could edit comments, but I want to add —

          It seems the only reason Keith dealt with the situation at all is because other people, including OP, finally forced him to stop passing the buck. If they had taken Jan home, it would have just continued the problem by making everyone else deal with what the CEO won’t.

          I am sympathetic to him for being a victim of harassment, but he’s the CEO. Even if he stepped away from the problem and made HR deal with it, it would have been better than ignoring it entirely.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I disagree. It seems to be that Keith had been either ignoring the long-term situation or letting his subordinates deal with it. In this case, he was clearly dumping his problem—in a non-work situation—on OP and Stacy. That was inappropriate. They were fully in the right to have him take care of it, which soon resolved the work situation.

      1. Testing*

        Yup! Taking care of drunk coworkers who are embarrassing themselves and making a scene at a party is very probably not in OP’s and Stacy’s job descriptions (even as remotely as being covered by “any other assigned tasks”).

        I was surprised and impressed that OP, who I gather is youngish, was able to be very clear about this to her boss.

        1. Worldwalker*

          And they weren’t on the clock. They were no more obligated to take Jan home because Keith asked them to than, say, wash the dishes from the party because he asked.

      2. niknik*

        Ya. I get the feeling that Keith wasn’t totally unaware of the situation ? Jan doesn’t sound like too much of a subtle personality. Maybe he should’ve stepped in / cleared things up quite some time sooner.

    3. lunchtime caller*

      I wouldn’t be jumping to be in the middle of a mess like that with a coworker I did not like and had repeatedly tried to previously deal with in a work context with no success either. Best of luck to everyone else but that is firmly no longer my problem and it smells like more trouble than it’s worth.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Yeah, if it had been a person at work who was a good friend, or someone I at least had a good working relationship with, I probably would have stepped in to help her get home safely and to help minimize damage to whatever was left of her workplace reputation.

        But given that Jan’s outbursts at this party were a continuation of her sexual harassment and overall obnoxious, unprofessional workplace behavior, just with more booze and fewer inhibitions AND that Jan had used my objections to that behavior at work to kick off months of treating me like a jerk, I would not go anywhere near the blast zone of this gross drunken party behavior. And that’s before you introduce the fact that Keith has apparently known she’s been off the rails for a while and has refused to address it sooner, and I would be on team “100% return all the awkwardness and inconvenience to sender(s) ”

        Like, I feel sorry for Jan that she was married to a turd, got divorced and is struggling socially outside of work. And I even can empathize about the “unrequited crush on a coworker/boss at a time when you are emotionally needy. But she crossed so many lines here, over and over again, both before LW told her “please don’t, I’m not the audience for this, let’s just focus on work” but especially after, with her passive aggressive and actually aggressive, unprofessional behaviors. So the only correct response to the events at that party were “oh look, here are the chickens Jan ordered, they are coming home to roost … oooh, did they bring out more bacon-wrapped scallops? Yum!”

        1. JB*

          I do feel sorry for Jan that her adult son drove away a relationship she very much needed (and whose behaviour probably exacerbates her attitude at work), but it’s no excuse for how she behaved.

    4. Admin Lackey*

      I disagree, she’s wasn’t the LW’s responsibility and I also would have said no to driving home a drunk coworker who’d been making a fool of themselves. Calling her a cab was the right thing to do and Keith should have started with that.

    5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I think this was perfect. It’s a social occasion, not a work one, Why should OP and Stacey have to be responsible for another guest just because they happen to also work with her

      Sorry, but Jan finally put on a show that Keith could no longer ignore, and I don’t love that his first response was to attempt to pass the responsibility to a lower ranking female employee.

      I do hope that the fresh start helps Jan – sounds like she’s been through a lot in a relatively short time span and just wasn’t coping well at all.

      1. Admin Lackey*

        +1 It’s funny that after his wife told HIM to get rid of Jan, Keith was immediately like, “I need to find some young women who will deal with this” instead of just calling a cab.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – why is it that his employees had to suffer, but the minute his WIFE complains he tries to address it – – – by having his female employees fix the problem.

          Yeah, OP and Stacey were not his fix it squad, and that being his first instinct makes me wonder how many other things he pushes off onto his female staff at work.

          1. pope suburban*

            Right? On what planet is it a good idea to make the victim of someone’s harassment ferry them home, while they’re drunk? It’s a recipe for disaster and I agree, it has overtones of “free emotional labor,” and “oh, let the ladies deal with feelings, those are Lady Things.”

          2. boof*

            While Kieth probably wasn’t totally oblivious, I was sort of under the impression the other employees hadn’t been telling Keith the full extent of the issues either, but more of a “we’ll tell keith if you don’t stop” approach? It wasn’t clear from the letter how obvious it might have been to kieth before that how over the top Jan was.

          3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            It also makes you wonder how much asking Jan to handle “life tasks” Keith has done–especially with the bent of “Oh, Jan, I know it is a big ask, but my wife told me to pick up the dry cleaning, but I am just so overwhelmed and can’t! Can you pick it up? You can?! I am not sure I could ever manage without you!” Which may have contributed to this dynamic.

            Because I doubt the first time you ask a “Gal Friday” to do a task that isn’t strictly work related the “task” is “Take this drunk employee with a crazy crush on me home because my wife is mad.”

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Yep: Keith’s management style seems to be a combination of kicking it down the road, then into various female subordinates’ laps. Not a great look.

        3. darsynia*

          This is such a good point! Abdication of responsibility seems to be this man’s modus operandi. If they weren’t coworkers, wouldn’t he have just called a cab or an uber? People don’t pick their coworkers…

          1. Radioxox*

            Very true, I also find it bizarre that his employees were invited to his daughters engagement party, especially when she obviously didn’t know them prior to that.

            1. Annie E. Mouse*

              Agree. I initially thought Keith was in the dark, but that alone makes me wonder about his judgment. Maybe he’s known more about this than LW thought and has been intentionally avoiding dealing with it.

          2. boof*

            I don’t think we know enough to judge here; Kieth is both boss and host in this situation, ultimately it is his responsibility but it’s entirely possible asking a coworker to help her home (I wouldn’t expect him to leave his own daughter’s engagement party for a misbehaving employee) was a reasonable first ask, it’s also very reasonable for said coworkers to say nope, and calling the uber was a sensible next choice. IDK I don’t see any villains here, except maybe for Jan not having the self awareness to stop much much sooner – but I do hope she was able to move on and do better like she seemed to be trying to.

    6. Antilles*

      Uber exists. Why should OP be forced to leave the party early, drive her own personal vehicle to a location she wasn’t planning on going to (Jan’s house), and deal with it when there’s literally a service designed for this exact purpose?

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Particularly given Jan’s previous display of hostility towards OP, there is absolutely no way in hell it was reasonable to ask her to drive Jan home.

      2. Worldwalker*

        Over, Lyft, the local taxi service…Keith….

        There were all sorts of options. “Make the female employees do it, off the clock” was none of them.

    7. KP*

      If I was in OP’s shoes I also wouldn’t take responsibility of a coworker I didn’t get along with at an unrelated social function.
      Calling a cab is really all that needed to be done from a “making sure people are safe” standpoint, and the party organizer is the correct person to ask someone to leave.

    8. Juicebox Hero*

      I don’t agree. This wasn’t a work event so LW and Stacy were there as guests. Keith was the host; it’s on him to make things pleasant for his guests and trying to make two of them, who had nothing to do with Jan and her behavior, go to considerable trouble to get her out of there was him being a chicken. As the host it was also his duty to remove a guest who was causing problems.

      If, as Stacy said, he knew Jan was causing problems at work and hadn’t done anything about it, that’s making me give him serious stinkeye as well.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Yes. Keith comes off poorly for so many reasons. This whole situation–not just the party–is a classic managerial failure (not to mention that it may be a matrimonial failure as well).

    9. Sally Sparrow*

      I would also not want to be responsible for a drunk coworker who made my life miserable. I can’t tell if the engagement part was a family party that Keith invited staff to or a party held at work but, either way, it was a boss going to his employees and asking them to be responsible for another. I’m with the LW for refusing the boss. It’s far more reasonable to offer to call Jan an Uber or even family/friend in her life to take care of her.

    10. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      The way I read it, they were guests at this party, not there in a work capacity or responsible for Jan’s behavior. I don’t know that it was the right time to take a stand either but I feel like the Uber should have been Keith’s first choice, and sometimes the only way to deal with a situation is to take a stand when the behavior is happening. I do feel bad that his daughter’s party was interrupted by all this though. But I don’t think any of this is OPs responsibility.

    11. Dinwar*

      Yeah, that part struck me too. I’m of two minds on it.

      On the one hand, yeah, when your boss says “Can you take this person out of here?” unless there’s a compelling reason you probably should. And “No, we’re having fun” doesn’t seem to be a sufficient reason in this case. The engagement part is supposed to be about the engaged couple, after all. The LW at minimum burned some political capital with Keith.

      On the other hand, it may have been a good time to spend that political capital. Obviously Jan is a problem, and I can see the LW deciding that she’s done shielding Jan from the consequences of her own actions. Sometimes it really does take making someone extremely uncomfortable to make them deal with the root of the situation, and it seems like Keith is one of those people. It’s not ideal, of course, but ultimately it’s Jan that made the situation bad, and it’s not the LW’s responsibility to protect her from herself.

      As an aside, I can’t imagine inviting people from work to my daughter’s engagement party (with one exception). It reads too “Godfather” to me. The party is for the kids, keep work drama out of it. I’m not saying Keith is wrong to do this, I’m just saying it’s a very weird situation to me.

      1. Ink*

        I suspect that’s the tiny org of it all. Coworkers from a larger business, no, but coworkers from a business small enough to be like faaaammmilllllyyyyy?

        …I mean, still no, but I can see where he might be coming from.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          I got those vibes too – a small family-owned business where we’re all like faaaaamily here! With the attendant dysfunction!

          I’m glad OP put her foot down about being Jan’s minder and chauffeur. It’s not her job.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        I think there’s another aspect to why this was the time to burn that capital; forcing OP, who has already been the target of Jan’s harassment, into isolation with Jan, while Jan was already inebriated and causing a scene, is actively dangerous to at least OP’s mental health. It makes her even more of a target for snide remarks and I wouldn’t trust a drunk person to either stick to remarks or consider the safety issues of harming a person trying to see her home safely.

        1. Candi*

          Well, half this situation exists because Jane has poor decision making and impulse control when sober, and alcohol removes filters.

      3. Jasmine not Jazz*

        For those criticizing OP’s phrasing, keep in mind that she was in a position where she needed to (on the spot!) come up with something more politic than “Oh hell no this is not my responsibility, and stop treating Stacy and me as your minions.”

        1. Smithy*

          That’s very well called out. While the truth was more along the lines of that being far beyond the scope of the OP’s job and potentially unsafe, those lines are far more socially disruptive to a party than “I’m having fun and don’t want to leave”.

          I will also say that once you “become responsible” for a drunk colleague under a work context, exactly what that can turn into can easily become far more ambiguous than in social settings. What happens if she becomes disruptive in the car while you’re driving? What if she jumps out of the car while driving? What does the OP do if after getting her home, she were to sit or lay down outside and not go inside? If she were to nod off in the car on the ride home, can the OP just wake her up and drop her off or does she need to watch her to make sure she’s “ok”?

          All of these are choices people end up making when taking care of drunk friends and family – some that perhaps leave them in more precarious situations, and some that are perhaps overly cautious based on the situation. But none are situations I want to find myself in with coworkers.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            This exactly. Where would it end? Especially with an emotionally messy and hostile co worker?

            NONE of this was the LW’s job and she and Stacey were right to say so. And frankly I’m wondering if Keith invited all his employees to a private party with the unconscious idea that they’d automatically fall into their “work” roles and “handle things” with Jan.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Wondering the same – but if so he was sorely mistaken. Good job to both for returning all the awkward and drama to sender.

            2. Smithy*


              I once had a drunk friend who I “put in an Uber” – and later found out that she jumped out of Uber on the way home and eventually ended up in the hospital. In regards to my choices with that friend, I still occasionally think about it and if I should have stepped up more to physically make sure she got home or taken her to the emergency room myself.

              In my personal life, I am ok wrestling with those choices and how I want to show up for those around me. I am 100% not doing that for my employer unless it’s a situation like an event that we are responsible for throwing that includes alcohol, and it’s an incident where we do have that elevated level of responsibility. Because honestly, in that moment – I likely would take the most risk averse choice of taking them to the ER or calling the paramedics. Let a medical professional be involved.

        2. Observer*

          keep in mind that she was in a position where she needed to (on the spot!) come up with something more politic than “Oh hell no this is not my responsibility, and stop treating Stacy and me as your minions.

          Yes. It sounds like Stacey decided that she’s going to have to bring a bit of that into the conversation, though. Unfortunately.

          But also, I think that the OP probably was trying to come up on the spot with a response that’s a bit less spicy “Oh no! She already thinks I’m her rival for your attentions!” Because while that’s *true*, I don’t think that would have helped the situation at all.

      4. Kel*

        But also it wasn’t a work function; they were ALL there as guests, except Keith.

        He has to be the bouncer at his own party, sorry.

      5. Sherm*

        Yeah, I’m extremely fond of my boss, but if she invited me to her daughter’s engagement party, I would think “Uh, why?” There may be some blurring of work/non-work boundaries going on here, which wouldn’t help Jan think straight.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          I agree! I have only been invited to a superior’s personal event of one kind or another two or three times, and once it was because my boss *knew* I’d be interested in the subject (no, not a MLM). Just being randomly invited to my boss’s daughter’s engagement party? That does smack of poor boundaries. I don’t think the office staff should be called upon to do anything more than to offer polite congratulations. It’s Keith’s family, not LW’s.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Same, I am very confused why he invited what seems to be all or most of his reports. Not even to his party, to his daughter’s! My adult children would’ve handed me my own butt on a platter if I tried to do that to them.

      6. Observer*

        On the other hand, it may have been a good time to spend that political capital

        Assuming that that’s what she actually said, yes, it 100% the right place to burn that capital. Because this was not a good solution at all. But the OP was clearly not interested in making the situation even *more* “exciting” or “interesting” by explaining exactly what’s wrong with the suggestion.

        The party is for the kids, keep work drama out of it.

        LOL! You do realize that in most cases inviting your employees to an event like this is not likely to create this kind of drama, don’t you.

        That’s really the only mitigating factor to Keith’s behavior. I’m sure he was totally NOT interesting in bringing this kind of drama, so the fact that he invited them says that maybe he didn’t realize just how off the rails Jan had gotten.

    12. Yup!*

      Taking a drunk employee home from your boss’s daughter’s engagement party is presumably not in the OP’s job description, so no, she should not have done that. Employees are not personal assistants, and a manager’s job is to manage. I’m sorry that all the employees had to put up with Jan’s horrible behaviour because it was easier for Keith to ignore it.

      1. Dinwar*

        See, I don’t see the request being like that. The way I see it, Stacy and the LW were asked to deal with Jan because they’re part of the group Jan is a member of. It’s not that they’re Keith’s employees (though that is a consideration), it’s that they’re the Work Group. I’ve seen similar things happen with drunk, obnoxious relatives–the person in charge of the event would go to a sober member of the family and ask them to deal with it, to keep things quiet and away from the people the party is being thrown for. The reason is that people who are a member of the same group are best able to deal with the drunken obnoxious person in the group.

        As I said above, I think the LW probably made the right call here. This was a situation where Keith needed to be shown clearly how obnoxious Jan was in order to push him to finally address her behavior. All I’m saying is, I don’t think the fact that the LW and Stacy were employees was why Keith asked them to deal with Jan.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I see what you’re saying, that if Jan were an aunt or other family member he would have asked her adult son to deal with her, but the fact that Stacy and LW are Keith’s employees changes things. I commented above that it makes more sense in a situation like this for the drunk employee’s manager to deal with the drunk person rather than the drunk person’s coworkers, for various reasons but including that the drunk person is less likely to act belligerent towards their manager than they are towards their coworkers. And in this case it really does appear that Keith was, once again, trying to avoid dealing with Jan and foisting her off on LW and Stacy.

        2. Rapunzel Rider*

          This was where my mind went as well. He is playing host (and presumably having discussions with his wife) so had his hands full but knew that they knew each other so they would be the next logical people to help. Read, they are work friends (with each other) so they could assist her so I can keep being host at my family event.

          1. learnedthehardway*

            Part of being the host is being responsible for your guests – not palming off that responsibility onto other guests.

            I really question Keith’s judgment in this situation. He’s too used to fobbing Jan off on subordinates, when he needs to deal with her himself. Good on his wife for putting her foot down and having some backbone, because Keith doesn’t seem to have much.

        3. Astor*

          I’m with you on this, and especially if nobody communicated with Keith about most of these issues before the party. (I can’t tell if Stacy’s “you know it” is because they’ve talked about it or because the behaviour is obvious.) It’s totally reasonable for him to have asked people that Jan specifically knows to take her home – that’s a kindness you usually extend for people misbehaving at a party, and given that he was specifically the target of Jan’s sexual harassment then normally other people would help.

          And yup: it’s also totally reasonable for those coworkers to go “nope” when an uber was an option and also specifically when he’s the only one who actually has the power to deal with Jan’s harassment.

        4. Ellis Bell*

          Family is a completely different
          ballgame. If you don’t want relative x to come, you can say “Invite them if you want but it’s on you”. You can’t say that to the boss about a colleague. They were not family members, they were guests.

        5. Saturday*

          I agree. I think Keith asked them because they knew Jan, and it would probably cause less disruption than to have the host deal with the drunken guest. It’s like a wedding where the groom doesn’t deal with his drunk college friend but asks his other college friends to do it.

          I think it would have been nice to do it – thinking of Keith’s poor daughter here – especially if their reason for not doing it was mainly because “we were enjoying ourselves.”

          Still though, not the LW’s responsibility, and Keith shouldn’t have invited Jan in the first place (although I don’t think anyone could have guessed she would behave THAT badly).

          1. learnedthehardway*

            I don’t think that Keith realized that it would likely have caused MORE disruption, if the coworkers (who had a bad relationship with Jan to start with) were tasked with getting her out of there. Jan would have made a public scene about it, likely would have demanded to hear it from the horse’s mouth that Keith didn’t want her there, would have confronted his wife or done who knows what. She wouldn’t have taken the coworkers’ word for it that she needed to leave.

            1. annabelle*

              “She wouldn’t have taken the coworkers’ word for it that she needed to leave.”
              Yes to this. And to be clear, I do have a lot of sympathy for Jan. I’m kind of side-eying the LW’s update a little bit in terms of like, it does seem a teensy bit Mean Girls-esque?? I think Jan has some issues and I feel bad for her. I also think she needs to deal with those issues in a way that doesn’t involve hitting on Keith or making her coworkers have to witness her hitting on Keith (or taking his rejection of that out on them).
              But also–had the LW or Stacy told Jan “hey it’s time to go” at the party, Jan would not have just gotten her coat for a quiet, dignified exit. Good god no. And Keith’s wife would have probably been thinking, “Uhhh Keith, this isn’t really what I meant by telling YOU to handle it?????”

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Oh yeah it would’ve gone badly. And would’ve continued on Monday at the office.

          2. Dinwar*

            “It’s like a wedding where the groom doesn’t deal with his drunk college friend but asks his other college friends to do it.”

            Yes, exactly! Keith wasn’t necessarily wrong to ask for help. The LW violated the social convention, at least as I learned it. She did so for a valid reason and it probably was the right call–but that doesn’t make Keith the bad guy here. (To be clear, NOR IS THE LW. Violating the social convention is not necessarily bad.)

            Keith letting it go on this long is another issue entirely, and I think part of why people are objecting to my statements is that they’re assuming I’m arguing far more widely than I actually am.

            Keith probably invited Jan because he invited everyone (or every member of a certain group in the company) and not inviting her would be a too-obvious slight. I mean, what would we be saying if Keith hadn’t invited Jan and Jan wrote in saying “Everyone at work was invited to this engagement part–including someone who’s been hostile to me for a long time–and I was the only one excluded”? And how is Keith going to explain that to Jan? We’ve more or less established that he’s unwilling to confront Jan about her behavior, it’s highly unlikely he’d start in this context.

            1. Annie E. Mouse*

              The easier solution would have been for Keith not to have invited the staff to his daughter’s engagement party in the first place. Even without the Jan stuff, that’s a weird leap from professional to personal.

              1. boof*

                I know AAM really emphasizes splitting work and personal, but I also know sometimes it’s can be nice to have a little work “community” that gets invited to special events. Since this seems like a really small business and keith is manager it doesn’t seem that outlandish for him to invite his crew, though obviously it didn’t turn out great. But that’s pretty clearly on Jan for 1) nursing inappropriate expectations about her and Kieth relationship and then 2) getting drunk at the party

            2. Observer*

              “It’s like a wedding where the groom doesn’t deal with his drunk college friend but asks his other college friends to do it.”

              Actually, this is an extremely different scenario. The relationships are different, the issue of power differentials doesn’t exist, there is generally planning for this stuff, etc.

              The LW violated the social convention, at least as I learned it.

              What social convention? I know of no social convention that *a guest* is expected to figure out how to get home someone who gets drunk and aggressively comes onto the host.

          3. Despachito*

            Keith shouldn’t have invited ANY of his coworkers to his daughter’s engagement party.

            If he invited everyone BUT Jan, it would be even less appropriate.

            I also think that asking FRIENDS or RELATIVES to deal with the drunk person at an event where I am the main person (e.g. a bride/groom) is hugely different than asking COWORKERS to deal with that person.

            Friends and relatives are likely, due to the very nature of their relationship, to be close to that drunk person, and it is much more logical that they would somehow feel a bit responsible for them, while coworkers have no such relationship and no responsibility.

            (If it was a work event and Jan got drunk and inappropriate at a client’s premises, Keith would have a lot more of standing to ask them that because in that case they would be representing the company they all belong to).

          4. Observer*

            I think it would have been nice to do it – thinking of Keith’s poor daughter here – especially if their reason for not doing it was mainly because “we were enjoying ourselves.”

            It would have been a *terrible* idea. And Keith’s poor daughter would have certainly have been subjected to a much worse scene if the OP had in any way tried to deal with Jan.

            Not that the OP had any obligation to “be nice” here, even if she were some sort of wizard who had the capability to make Jan just come home with her, and somehow magically deal with the cars, etc. But given the circumstances? It was not only a massive over-step by Keith, it would NOT have been “nice.”

            Keep in mind that she’d already tried to cut into dances between Keith and his wife! So, out of control and totally divorced from reality. What do you think she would have said if the OP had tried to get Jan into her car?

          5. Sue Wilson*

            well i think “friend” is a key word here. your college friends have some type of mutual loyalty, trust, affection to each other and you. Your employees do not.

      2. Donn*

        Yes, yes that employees are not personal assistants.

        At a past employer in a small upscale town, a boss was in another city for several weeks on a project. When it was over, his admin drove his young daughter two hours to the other city for a dad-and-daughter trip. They were flying out from the other city.

        I remember this because I got passed over for that admin position. Thank god. In this small town, dividing lines between work tasks and personal tasks were much less than they’d be in many big-city employers.

    13. Ink*

      I don’t love the phrasing, but I think it’s entirely reasonable to not want to drive a drunk coworker with a history of getting aggressive with you home. Especially when the alcohol seems to have had the effect of Jan getting more physical. Stacy’s reaction was right on- it’s not that they were enjoying the party and didn’t want to leave, it’s that Jan’s behavior had gone way too far and it wasn’t fair to them to be the only ones who had to deal with it when Keith is the boss and the one with the most standing to talk to Jan. (My opinion of that might be a bit different in a larger company with upper mangement and HR to tag in, since Keith is the focal victim of the secual harassment, but in a company of 10 people there wasn’t anyone else.)

      1. Lenora Rose*

        I don’t know that upper management or HR would be relevant at this particular party, though your bigger overall point is true.

        1. Candi*

          They’re relevant to the overall situation. In a company large and functional enough to have an HR and/or management above Keith, LW, Stacey, and anyone else could have gone to them long before things reached this point.

      2. Anne Elliot*

        I personally didn’t read this situation (OP taking Jan home) as dangerous in a physical sense (which is not to say your point is not valid), but even from the perspective of self-protection in a professional sense, I would not have taken responsibility for a tipsy or drunk coworker who was both acting inappropriately presently and had a history of hostility towards me in the workplace. There is too much scope for conflict in the ride home that could devolve into “who said or did what to whom that night” accusations that could impact the workplace or the OP’ers work life. To me this is a “ten foot pole” situation, as in “don’t touch Jan with.” Not your circus, not your drunk bitey monkey.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, exactly. I mean it’s not as if grabbing a cab or an Uber is the most dangerous thing a woman can ever do, even if she’s drunk.

          Once again, Stacy and the LW are coworkers who’ve been harassed by Jan. It’s not their responsibility to ensure that Jan gets home safely.

    14. Slow Gin Lizz*

      OP reacted exactly the way Alison usually tells LWs to when they ask how to deal with a coworker who doesn’t do anything and they have been covering for. Alison says to stop covering for them and make the coworker their manager’s problem. This is exactly what OP did and I applaud her for it. OP and her coworkers had been dealing unsuccessfully with Jan’s atrocious behavior for a long time and it was about time for Keith to deal with it himself.

      1. SopranoH*

        Perhaps it was unintentional, but she and Stacy also dealt with it was a group which further cemented it was his problem to deal with. I probably wouldn’t have refused because I was having fun. I’d have lead with concerns for both of our safeties, but altogether a reasonable strategy.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, I might have said “I’m sorry, but I don’t drive belligerent drunks home, out of my way.” Because I don’t feel safe doing that, especially if the person in question has been belligerent towards me!

        2. Observer*

          I probably wouldn’t have refused because I was having fun. I’d have lead with concerns for both of our safeties, but altogether a reasonable strategy.

          Yeah, and the issue of the cars, as well. But ultimately, “I’m having fun” is going to be a lot less memorable to the guests than “That lunatic? She’s already accused me of trying to get you. What do you think is going to happen if I drag her out of here?!” Or even a more tame, but accurate, version of the truth.

    15. Annie*

      I am with you regarding the family party not being the time or space to prioritize the coworkers’ partying. But the letter gave me the impression, that the boss also needed the push of public embarrassment to deal with a situation he had neglected to deal with for to long. And Jan obviously needed to hear it from the boss, with big picture talk and all. It is not like the LW and her coworkers didn’t exhaust all their other avenues for managing this problem themselves.

      But maybe this isn’t a story about one of the passive managers that are so reluctant to manage and I just suffer from the halo effect of reading about so many conflict avoidant managers recently ;-) In that case, yeah, I couldn’t imagine saying to my boss “No, I want to keep partying at this party where I have no direct connection to the occasion.)

      1. Observer*

        In that case, yeah, I couldn’t imagine saying to my boss “No, I want to keep partying at this party where I have no direct connection to the occasion.)


        I also can’t imagine saying to my boss “No, I won’t get into a car with a drunk person whose already seeing me as a romantic rival.” Nor can I imagine actually trying to take her home!

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, compared to that, saying “Sorry, I’m having too much fun to drive her home” is probably the least troublesome alternative. Keith definitely needed the public embarrasment, and no doubt the stern talking-to from his wife in private after the party, to realize that he had to deal with Jan sooner rather than later.

          That said, I can’t imagine myself being invited to, never mind attending, the engagement party of my manager’s child, under any circumstances at all. It just doesn’t happen in my world. Granted, in my culture it’s both normal and expected for couples to be their own hosts and to pay for any parties themselves, and parents absolutely do not get any say in issuing invitations. I can’t imagine inviting my coworkers to my son’s engagement party either, assuming he gets engaged someday. I’ll be lucky if he invites *me* to his engagement party, as those are normally held for friends, not relatives. We don’t have wedding showers, so I guess the engagement party is the closest equivalent.

          Just curious, what would you do if you were in the LW’s position?

          1. Observer*

            Just curious, what would you do if you were in the LW’s position?

            Depending on the specifics, I’d go to a party or not. But the rest of the mess? Honestly, I don’t know. I think I would vehemently refuse, either with no coherent explanation or something a lot closer to what Stacy said – or perhaps worse. One thing I would NOT do is try to get this woman home.

            Of course, the fact that I don’t drive does change the situation for me.

    16. Doctor Fun*

      I’m struggling to understand how removal of an unwanted nuisance guest at a private party is actually a work duty for OP, and not the entire responsibility of the party host (Keith) to manage. Like… OP’s not the family’s maid, OP wasn’t hired as a party bouncer.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        EXACTLY. They were clearly invited guests, not there to work. So why should it have been their responsibility over any other guest? Did he ask his cousin to take her home? No.

    17. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Two ways to look at it:
      It was a personal problem. Jan was disrespecting Keith’s wife and family. His wife asked him to handle it. Making OP and Stacy be the bad guy or call back to “zipper police” is not their job. He needs to handle the person he invited.
      It was a personnel problem. An employ was drunk and disruptive at a company function. He is the head of the company. He needs to handle the employee he invited.
      I don’t like that OP and Stacy HAD to tell him “no, we will not be responsible for the person who is obsessed with you who is now drunk and disruptive.”
      It should have been a no-brainer for Keith to call an Uber for a drunk party guest who was making his family uncomfortable.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Since when is an engagement party a work function? Just because Keith invited people from work does not make this a work function.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I agree with you. I think it was a private event.
          But the commenter way, way up there was concerned that OP should not be speaking to her boss that way. I’m trying to point out that in no possible interpretation of that party was OP incorrect.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          No, but if you’re at your boss’s house, or event, the same rules of a work function apply. You can’t act like drunk Aunty Nuisance and expect to be bundled off by fond peers as though you’re family. You’re going to face work consequences and those consequences should come from the boss, not just because he’s the host (although it’s another good reason).

    18. Ms. Murchison*

      Nope, Keith was out of line asking his employees to undertake the care of a drunk employee when they aren’t BFFs with her. It’s not their mess and he shouldn’t offload it to them.
      But I also think it was an incredibly ballsy move to refuse a request from your boss on the grounds that you’re having fun at a party you were invited to because of your connection with him. I feel like I’m missing something that connects the dots here, but I’m thankful Jan ended up leaving in an Uber instead of burdening the other gals. I’m glad the LW had Stacy backing her up.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Instead of thinking of it as “refuse a request from your boss on the grounds that you’re having fun at a party you were invited to because of your connection with him”, think of it as OP reminding him she is also a guest at this party, was not disrupting it, and should not be made responsible for the disruptive person merely because she is acquainted with the disruptive person. Yes, I realize the update literally uses the phrase “enjoying ourselves”, but it’s not the exact words that matter here but rather the overall point being made. They were not present at this event as his employees/Jan’s coworkers. They were present as his guests.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        It was unbelievably badass and I think it reflects incredibly well on OP and her colleagues. It also reflects somewhat well on the boss, if you think about it. Though I think it would have been a better reflection on him if he has realized his wife was right and he should have handled it himself.

      3. Candi*

        The dots might be Keith was trying to get LW to take care of someone who virulently hated her by that point, and had acted loudly like LW was a romantic rival for Keith. Including making LW share a small padded box with Jan that would have been traveling at 30+ mph for at least part of the trip.

        That’s a very dangerous situation when Jan had already shown her filters were gone and she was willing to act out.

        “I’m having fun” is a lot less party-disrupting then stating exactly what Jan’s been up to in front of his wife and other family, even if it’s an abbreviated version. That it made Keith finally see Jan for the troublemaker she is and have to handle it are bonuses.

    19. Ally McBeal*

      What? Why is it OP’s responsibility to babysit a colleague who ostensibly doesn’t even like her?

    20. Clara*

      I agree. It feels like a bit of a justified asshole move to say no. You could have called the uber and had the employees/coworkers handle the employee/coworker problem, rather than disrupting family during a family event. You’re on a much lower tier on those occasions than the family of the couple, and it’s a kindness/proper courtesy to minimise issues for them. I can see how you’d get to the point where you want to force him to confront it, but I wish it hadn’t been there!

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Where in a standard office job description (or in the realm of common sense) is it an invited guest’s responsibility to handle another guest who cannot behave?

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Keith invited her. Keith deals with her.
          His wife understood the situation.
          She was cohosting the party. She could have called an Uber. But she told Keith to handle his guest. She did this not because she shouldn’t have to deal with this nonsense, or couldn’t deal with this nonsense but because she did not want to make a scene.
          Keith could have taken her outside, but no, he involves two other invited guests.

        2. Clara*

          It’s not about them being an employee, it’s about being an unrelated guest in a family event! To me that setting completely trumps a relationship outside of it. At a wedding / wedding related event you do whatever you can to minimise stress and disruption for the couple (and that means limiting disruption to their family, particularly when asked!).

      2. Ashley*

        So it should have been LW’s responsibility to call (and presumably pay for) an uber ride for someone who has made her working life so miserable? No thanks!

      3. Ellis Bell*

        It was an asshole move to ask. If you’re the host, you host. If you’ve invited the wrong person, you don’t ask another guest to clean up the mistake.

      4. Starbuck*

        “You could have called the uber”

        If you call someone an uber, doesn’t that mean that you are the one paying for it and it’s on your account rating, since you’d need to use your own app to do it? Because no way would I agree to do that for a coworker who was regularly mean to me and had actually sexually harassed me. No way!

        1. EmmaPoet*

          Also, if Jan was to behave badly in the Uber, then that goes on the rating of the person who requested said Uber. I’m not going to risk a bad rating because Jan barfed in the Uber or harassed the driver.

        2. EmmaPoet*

          Yep. I’m not paying for someone’s ride when they’ve repeatedly treated me badly and actually harassed me. Nor will I risk my rating for someone this plastered who might cap the night by barfing in the car or harassing the driver.

      5. darsynia*

        *sucks air in through teeth* Eek, though. The person calling the Uber is the one who pays for the Uber, and Jan is noticeably hostile to the LW. Having her call is giving Jan a ‘grief your coworker free’ card.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Plus OP knows what happens when she interferes with her colleague’s hobby of indulging in public flirty boss fun. Lots of passive aggressive comments and outbursts and snark about OP.

      6. Happy meal with extra happy*

        Nah, see, I agree that OP and her coworkers are different than family, and possibly less “important” to the event, but that’s still solely Keith’s problem to navigate because he invited them.

    21. Annabelle*

      “I don’t love that you refused to take her home…”

      IDK, I feel like, as the manager, this is why Keith gets paid the manager’s salary. To deal with his employees. And calling a cab or Uber, instead of fobbing alllll the responsibility onto another employee (who already is annoyed at the OP) is part of that managerial responsibility. Like, this is why cabs and Ubers were invented.

      1. Dinwar*

        “I feel like, as the manager, this is why Keith gets paid the manager’s salary. To deal with his employees.”

        If it’s wrong to treat employees like employees at a non-work event it’s equally wrong to treat a manager as a manager at a non-work event. Unless he’s able to bill those hours, he’s off the clock–the title “manager” doesn’t mean the company has a blank check on your life.

        I get where you’re coming from. In the 18th century officers referred to their rank as “the curse of God” for exactly this reason. And my dad and I joke that “Once you put on the white hardhat you can never take it off.” (White hardhats tend to be used to denote management staff on construction sites.) That said, it’s not fair to apply the logic of “This isn’t a work event so you can’t treat me like an employee” to one person in this situation and not another.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It’s Keith’s to deal with in this scenario not because he’s the manager, but because he’s the host. You wanna kick someone out of a party you invited them to, you do it. Don’t ask some other guests to.

          1. Dinwar*

            That’s not the argument being made here, though. The argument I’m addressing is literally “Keith is manager, ergo it’s his job.”

            But leaving that aside, I don’t see why it’s a problem to ask for help dealing with a bad situation quietly. It’s not a problem for the person involved to say no, either–again, I think the LW spent some political capital here, but I think it probably needed to be spent. But the idea that the host has to be the one to deal with every issue and can’t ask for help doesn’t track with any party that I’ve thrown or been part of.

            1. Addison DeWitt*

              Keith is the object of the cuckoo’s crush. If it’s not his problem to deal with, whose is it?

            2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              My issue is that it was not dealt with quietly. Keith’s wife told him to ask Jan to leave. He did not do that. He did not walk her outside and wait for an Uber and walk quietly back into the party.
              He found two employees and asked them to take drunk and inappropriate coworker home.
              Now it’s out that his family is upset. If his wife was fine with that, she would have asked Jan to leave herself.
              And “hey, OP, I invited this woman who has a weird crush on me to a family party without ever discussing that she has a crush on me, that I have a family who is my priority, that I’m inviting everyone, not just her. I provided alcohol and now she’s a mess. Please take her home and deal with the fallout that I never saw coming at all.”

              1. Saturday*

                See, I was thinking asking them to do it was an attempt to keep it quiet so that everyone wasn’t going, “where’s the host?” when he was standing outside with her waiting for her ride.

                1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

                  I thought about that, but, my I voted against it because in that case, Keith and Jan are both missing at the same time. But in this case, Keith is telling people what’s going on. So now OP and Stacey know “Keith kicked her out of the party.”
                  I’m not stating that either woman will run to the office and tell everyone on Monday, I’m saying that is what I would want to prevent if I’d been in Keith’s place.

            3. Ellis Bell*

              Socializing with work people just doesn’t work like that. It’s not like you chose a hat of ‘guest’ or ‘colleague’; you wear both. It’s not like people stop being your boss and coworkers through the magic of context and it’s all “whatever happens in location stays in location”. You are a guest, and your duties are suspended, so it’s not okay for a boss to order his subordinates to get rid of an unwanted guest (!!), but you’re still just people who work together. You can’t magically become family and have influence over, or responsibility for, someone who’s just a colleague. In this situation Keith’s responsibility as host overlapped perfectly with his responsibility as the boss. The person who was being a nuisance was the person *he* hired, and who *he* invited. That made it his job to clean up the mess she was making, in a way that no one else could have… because no one else has power over her! (It’s not like the OP and her colleagues have the social power of much-loved friends or relatives; they also know they’ve failed to influence her in the past). Actually, if they had tried to tackle it and rescind Keith’s invitation, they would have seriously undermined him by not letting him handle it with *his* stated displeasure. That’s why his wife didn’t kick her out in spite of longing to; she was host, so obviously she had the power to ask someone to leave, but she was aware her husband also had to address this because it wasn’t just a guest, but also his report. Meanwhile of course it’s appropriate for guests to remind a host they came to have fun, not solve his work problems off hours. That’s a work-life balance boundary and is appropriate at a work event, whereas being a drunk nuisance is not. Asking guests to do a host’s job, is not appropriate either.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Then they weren’t employees and were free to say no. they had no more responsibility to ensure the event ran smoothly than anyone else. You can’t have it, both ways. If he’s not a manager, they aren’t employees.

          1. Dinwar*

            As free as anyone else, sure, and I have never said otherwise. The LW can’t expect this to have no impact on the relationship–that’s what I meant when I said she burned political capital–but then, that’s true whether you’re a coworker, a relative, a friend, or whatever. In this case it’s probably a net gain as far as the business group is concerned–the team will work better for it–but it’s unreasonable to expect Keith to not allow it to impact his relationship with the LW.

            (As an aside, this is precisely why the group I work with excludes junior staff from certain events. We don’t want to deal with these issues, and it’s easier to only include people on the same level. And when the junior staff exclude us, we’re all fine with it–they SHOULD be excluding us, that’s how this works.)

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              If Keith allows guests at his party saying no to an unreasonable request to affect his working relationship with them — then he needs to not invite employees to social events. Doing so would be ANOTHER failure on his part.

              1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

                Doing so meaning affect his relationship, not refusing to invite them anymore. that would be fine.

                Keith was aware of the problem, refused to act, then expected others to handle the problem AT HIS PARTY when it got out of hand.

              2. Ellis Bell*

                I could not agree more; it’s like asking OP to go pick up the cake, or pour drinks at the bar. If you ask people to be a guest at a party, they have the right to expect that they will be treated like a guest. If you didn’t plan your party very well, or invited a nightmare guest, then it’s your mistake to fix. Giving the benefit of the doubt to Keith, he may have thought the women at the office were all friends and he didn’t want to be the bad guy with all of them, when a friendly word from a peer could possibly fix it; but even in this scenario OP simply corrected his misimpressions and gave him carte blanche to take the reins, which badly needed doing.

        3. al*

          In a non-work event, Keith is the host, and LW, Stacy, and Jan are all guests, and only guests. Dumping responsibility of a drunk guest on other guests (to whom the drunk guest is known to be hostile to) is cruddy host behavior on Keith’s part. Treat Keith like the host, not a manager. Jan’s misbehavior as a guest is Keith’s responsibility as a host to handle.

        4. Rondeaux*

          My dad was from Brooklyn and a baseball fan and he used to have a similar saying “The old man might have the money, but he also has to pay the bills”

          He was talking about former Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley who had all the power but like Spiderman also had tremendous responsiblity

    22. Michaela T*

      I agree. Wish OP had talked to Keith about this before taking a stand at an event meaningful to him (not sure how close OP is with his daughter).

      1. nofiredrills*

        Jan experienced the natural consequences of being obnoxious, and since Keith’s wife had to say she needed to leave, he experienced the natural consequence of being spineless and not doing it himself. Why does LW owe more to the daughter than her own father? He should have addressed it as soon as Jan started being obnoxious. If I were Keith’s wife or daughter, he’d be getting an earful.

    23. Lainey L. L-C*

      There is no way I’m taking home a drunk coworker that I don’t get along with, especially when its after-hours. I’d offer to call Uber, but beyond that, I’m not their mother and I’m not their babysitter.

      If it had been Keith’s drunken Aunt Becky, should OP have been made responsible for taking her home?

    24. Dust Bunny*

      Nope: Let Keith risk barf in his own car or Jan getting aggressive and drunkenly punching him, but don’t volunteer me for it, thanks.

      I know it was his daughter’s engagement party but ultimately, he was the host and it was his to deal with.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Agreed. I’m not going to take on the responsibility for babysitting a drunk unless that was a *very* close friend. A coworker, even one who wasn’t as annoying and boundary busting as Jan? No way. Stow them in an Uber and send them on their way. Not my circus, not my drunken monkey.

    25. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      As Jan was drunk it seems highly likely that there was alcohol served at this event. Whilst the OP doesn’t say anything about it, it’s entirely possible that she and Stacey may have had a drink as well, and thus not been able to take Jan home themselves even if they had been willing (which they clearly weren’t, which was perfectly reasonable given Jan’s hostility and the fact that she’s an adult who should know how to behave at a social function)

    26. darsynia*

      Strong disagree. Jan was already upset at the LW for working more closely with Keith, and it would have been past the line uncomfortable for LW to be in a car alone with her. A safety issue, IMO.

      I don’t know if the other coworkers had the same level of animosity between themselves and Jan, but ultimately, it seems like the delayed reaction of not properly managing Jan came into full bloom at a really inconvenient time.

      1. JB*

        At best Jan passed out on the back seat, most likely Jan making not so passive aggressive comments and at worst a car accident because of her actions. Distance between LW and Jan was the best move.

    27. Despachito*

      I actually think that it was outrageous of Keith to want OP and the other coworker to do that. It was absolutely not their business, and I feel the “you-are-a-woman-so-you-of-course-take-care of-it” vibe

    28. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Eh, I felt the same way at first too; cringe that their excuse was “no, I’m having fun” but I’m willing to put some stock in that it may have been some strong paraphrasing. Keith was the host of the party and the boss of the employee. It’s his responsibility to ensure his guests’ safety and comfort, and it’s his responsibility to manage his staff’s behaviors in a work capacity. OP was smart to take advantage of Jan at her worst to raise a point with Keith that he needed to do something.

    29. Observer*

      There was a time and a space for taking a stance but I’m not convinced a family party was it.

      This wasn’t about taking a stand but refusing to get drawn into ever more drama and not wanting to deal with a drunken and irrational person. ESPECIALLY since Keith apparently knew enough of what was going on that he should have dealt with it sooner. It was unfair of him to open his family to this, and then try to make the OP and Stacy to take care of it.

      And, it seems to me that OP and Stacy refusing to pick up the slack here was probably part of what finally got Keith to act. (That and his wife, I would guess.)

      PS There is also a good chance that for the OP to get involved could have made things *worse* rather than neutralizing the situation, given the things Jan had said about and to her.

      1. allathian*

        All of this. I bet it was being told by his wife to take care of it that finally made him realize he’d allowed things to go too far. She was clearly having none of it.

  3. Anne Shirley*

    Cut into dances with Keith’s wife?! This woman is unreal. OP, I love how you stood up to Keith at the party and made him deal with it, then and there.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Stacy is my hero. As is LW for not letting herself get roped into going way out of her way to deal with Keith’s problem.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Yes, it’s Keith’s problem to deal with because Jan is clearly not listening to her co-workers. They’re the enemy keeping her from her crush and she needs to hear it from him that her actions are very inappropriate.

    3. Observer*

      Cut into dances with Keith’s wife?!

      Yes. All of it was beyond out of line. But this says that she’d really gone off the deep end. And the OP and Stacey really had no choice but to refuse to take responsibility for someone so . . . delusional?

    1. Laser99*

      Not even a little. However I think LW should have mentioned Jan’s behavior to Keith or HR, it might have not prevented this, uh, performance.

  4. StressedButOkay*

    I just had a full body cringe out of second-hand embarrassment. I really hope Jan’s able to find happiness and purpose that does not involve…this ever again.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Me too, I’ve had work crushes but never went this far. It seems Keith had to be the one to firmly set boundaries and not the other staff.

    2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      “I just had a full body cringe out of second-hand embarrassment”

      OMG, me too – Aunt Jan???? Good Lord!

      1. Ink*

        I feel SO bad for the daughter. Engagement parties and other pre-wedding festivities tend to partially be about the two families geting familiar with each other. Especially the extended family with fewer casual events than the immediate/closest relatives… and now his great aunt Myrtle’s first impression of you features “aunt Jan”

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Who tried to be part of the family pictures. Just ugh. A few drinks too many does not excuse this behavior. Jan knew what she was doing, decided her crush was more important than respecting the actual family.

      2. BellyButton*

        OMG It was like watching a horror movie, my mouth open, my eyes wide, yet covering them with one hand. I also then thought about being in Jan’s shoes and waking up in the morning , remembering all of it…. no matter what her crush was, how un-self aware she is, she knew in the morning she had f’d up and made a fool of herself.

      3. darsynia*

        Not just ‘Aunt Jan’ but to the point where Keith’s wife had to step in! How she didn’t shrivel up from full body cringe I’ll never know, but maybe she ought to be studied for science!

    3. Dust Bunny*


      I think I’ve flirted exactly once in my life, with a close friend, very much not in a work context, and it was at least half in jest. I just cannot wrap my mind around the idea of flirting at work, never mind flirting so aggressively. Way to shoot yourself in the foot!

    4. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Seriously. Forget “yikes on bikes,” this is yikes on the entire Tour de France.

      1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

        I’ve been loving these comments and yours finally made me laugh out loud, thank you!

  5. buddleia*

    >her [Jan’s] marriage wasn’t a happy one

    but in the original post:

    >Jan’s husband passed away suddenly about a year and a half before I [LW] started working there


    1. Tree*

      Her marriage was unhappy and then her husband died. I think OP is pointing out that she didn’t go from happily married to widowed but from unhappily married to widowed, which may have had the effect of exacerbating her inappropriate feelings for and behaviour toward a man who was kind to her.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I took it to mean the marriage wasn’t great – and then before anything could be fixed in that relationship the husband died. I’ve heard so many stories of how it’s actually harder to mourn and move on when the marriage is bad and then somebody suddenly dies.

      1. All het up about it*

        Yes. This!

        Widowed after an unhappy marriage could exacerbate existing insecurities or create new ones. I could also see the Boss being supportive of Jan during the husband’s death and then due to a whole mix of feelings (sadness, relief, guilt, loneliness), Jan lets herself read more into that support than there is.

        I’m glad that the OP doesn’t have to keep dealing with that and truly hope that Jan can get a fresh start.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        That’s how I’m reading it. “Complicated grief” is, essentially, what happens if someone in your life who is very difficult, who you might love but not like, dies; or if one spouse in an unhappy marriage dies, and the surviving spouse does not know whether to mourn, celebrate, or a mix of the two. It’s a lot more difficult, in many ways, than straightforwardly and unambiguously mourning a loved one’s passing.

        Jan sounds like someone who has a very troubled personal life – widowed after an unhappy marriage, troubled adult son, then said troubled adult son driving away her new boyfriend – and is trying to solve and/or escape her problems in the worst way possible. I hope that her move and fresh start includes lots of therapy! (For her AND son.)

        1. DrSalty*

          Yes. What she did was wildly inappropriate, but I feel bad for her. She sounds very sad and I hope she gets help.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          See I’m kinda hoping that the move means that “deadbeat adult son” has to stay behind. I’d think just being free from him would help.

    3. Clam Condor*

      I took that as Stacy told the OP while they we’re married it wasn’t a happy marriage. I think her grief was clouding her judgment and she was obviously seeking some sort of emotional validation.

  6. Ginger*

    LW, this concerns me: “I started documenting conversations to prepare for a confrontation with Keith.”

    Talking with someone isn’t at all similar to confronting them. Confrontation is aggressive, and it should be avoided virtually always; if you have a good relationship (work or professional) with someone, confrontation shouldn’t be an option, and if you have a poor relationship with someone, confrontation should be a last resort.

    I’m sharing this with the goal of helping you have maximum peace in your life, not to criticize you. The internet has upped the temperature of so many interactions; we’d all benefit from taking it down several notches.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I agree with your take on the word confrontation. I don’t think that is the meaning OP meant to give.
      And then I read the letter about Keith at the party.
      He told OP to handle it.
      So he knew.
      He knew that Jan was like this and he knew that OP was somehow handling it.
      He never talked to Jan at the office and tried to cut this out.
      So Freudian slip on OP’s part?

      1. Ginger*

        Perhaps not so much a slip on the LW’s part as an indication of a not-uncommon worldview. I find the overall tone a bit aggressive — while also acknowledging that the entire situation with Jan must have been very frustrating and irritating.

        I’m disheartened by how much aggression there is in this world, heartened by the degree to which Alison’s advice teaches people to speak up calmly and neutrally, and hoping for more of the neutrality and less of the aggression (even when people are frustrated).

        And, no, not nitpicking about language, which another commenter wrote, but concerned about aggression and escalation when there’s almost always a calmer way.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      commenting rules — don’t nitpick language. it could be she meant to have to a serioius talk with Keith not a confrontation.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’m wondering if it was being worded that way because Keith had been ignoring willfully and actively the Jan problem had become in the office – so it was going to have to be a confrontation about how long is this going to continue to happen before you address the situation.

      1. niknik*

        Same. It’s speculation, but i get the feeling that Keith could and should have intervened much earlier, before the escalation. It’s not a big company and Jan was not subtle about her comments.

    4. Seashell*

      I think people use confrontation to mean that they’re going to deliberately have a conversation about a particular topic. Talking with someone isn’t necessarily talking to them with one issue in mind that needs to be dealt with.

      1. Martin Blackwood*

        confrontation is an appropriate word in many circumstances, including when you put a stack of documentation on your boss’s desk and tell him he has to do *something* about this

    5. Hosta*

      The burden of keeping the workplace calm shouldn’t be offloaded onto the victim of bad behavior. Presenting Keith with documented bad actions is not just a conversation.

      The changes in general discourse are not due to people being frank about how the actions of others have effected them. If they were, they would be positive, much needed changes – and it still wouldn’t be OP’s job to manage them.

    6. Sparkles McFadden*

      Well…when it’s your boss and he’s willfully ignoring your coworker’s in-office flirting, it’s going to feel like a confrontation when you talk to him about it. In such situations, you feel as if you’re saying “This thing you have been ignoring is making it hard to do my job, so what are you going to do about it?”

    7. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I think this is nit-picking the language but also pointing out that confronting doesn’t necessarily mean hostile. To confront someone/something can also mean to bring it up in a straightforward manner (deal with head on). For example, you might confront someone about their alcoholism or confront a small child. I interpret this as LW was getting ready to have a serious sit down to address the problem.

      1. allathian*

        I’m not reading any hostility in the LW’s letter. Frustration with Jan and with Keith for not dealing with it earlier, but no hostility towards Keith. She just very reasonably wanted Keith, who was the manager with the power to fire Jan if necessary, to actually deal with the situation.

  7. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

    “I [LW] did learn through Stacy that her [Jan’s] marriage wasn’t a happy one”

    So why the ??? What’s the confusion?

  8. A. J. Payler*

    Ah, I love this time of year, when AAM brings us some of the best gifts of all—closure and comeuppance. Sweet, sweet comeuppance. Beats any fruitcake I’ve ever had!

  9. Pastor Petty Labelle*


    Clearly Keith was hoping it would all go away. Until finally his wife was all — do something I am not putting up with this person any more.

    I do hope she gets a fresh start somewhere else and does not repeat this behavior. I hope she realizes how bad her behavior was. The new company doesn’t deserve this either.

    The whole I am the one who takes care of Keith reminds me of the letter with the two ladies who had crushes on the boss and didn’t like the assistant who blocked their access to him. They accused her of being in charge of his zipper.

      1. Laser99*

        Cheap ass rolls level gross! IIRC the LW’s co-irkers were annoyed she ran interference for the boss, as they were crushing on him. EEW.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Oooh, your first paragraph makes me wonder if the wife had been aware of or privy to Jan’s flirtatious behavior before this party and what happened at the party was just the last straw………

    2. Hlao-roo*

      For those who haven’t read it, the “keeper of his zipper” letter is titled “my coworkers have a crush on my boss … and are taking it out on me” from March 18, 2020.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Based on the date, i think covid took care of the immediate problem of them trying to meet me with him ALL. THE. TIME.

            On reread, I am not thrilled that other people in the company were calling them the fan club and her the bouncer. It kinda reinforced the problem. No one told those biddies to knock it off.

            Just like here, Keith knew she was a problem. So his solution was to invite her to a family event. Then when she tried to be family, he did nothing. It was his wife who told her to stop the Aunt Jan nonsense and then finally told him to kick her out.

    3. GreyjoyGardens*

      Holy cow, I now remember that! I don’t think we ever got an update, but I’d sure love one! “Keeper of the zipper” – yikes o rama.

  10. Maleficent*

    It really seems that Keith was aware of Jan’s crush and didn’t do anything to stop it. “Our other coworkers at the table thought she was joking with the flirting, but clearly wasn’t now” – they all saw Jan flirt with Keith. So Keith saw Jan flirt with Keith, too. “I think it finally took her making an idiot of herself in front of his family for him to realize how obnoxious her behavior had become for everyone.” Seems like Keith was avoiding handling this problem himself until it became a big problem for others. I’m glad Jan no longer works there; may she find happiness and an appropriate, healthy relationship.

    1. Typing All The Time*

      Same. I wondered if maybe Keith thought the crush would pass or avoided it for various reasons (accusations of sexual harassment). I hope Jan gets the help she needs and that this is a lesson for both her and Keith.

    2. Typing All The Time*

      Agreed. I wonder if Keith thought it would die down or was hesitant for other reasons but this is a teachable moment for him and Jan. And I hope Jan finds happiness in her life.

    3. Ms. Murchison*

      The first letter shows how alone the LW felt in dealing with this situation, and this follow-up is a good reminder that when you’re feeling alone with a problem, there may be others dealing with the same problem from a different perspective, not realizing that you’re all seeing and struggling with the same thing. I don’t know what would have happened if LW had felt comfortable going to Keith after their first letter, but now we know that she probably would have found a boss who knew what’s going on and was trying to ignore it. Whether he would have continued to ignore it when he learned that it wasn’t just flirting at him but also spilling over to sexual comments around other employees…?

    4. ChaoticNeutral*

      Agreed with this comment! I was interested to see how Keith handled it with directly confronted with it and seemed that he did not handle it the best. But also agree that I hope Jan finds peace and happiness. This is overall kind of a sad story for her, but glad the LW is finally in the clear as well.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I expect Keith was avoiding it. “Please stop sexually harassing me,” is a difficult conversation to have. Even if you are the boss. Even if you are a man. And Jan was a valued long time employee. And she was a recent widow so he probably didn’t want to hurt her either.

      He should have dealt with this earlier, but I can’t really blame him for trying to avoid it. I would too.

  11. Melissa*

    I feel so bad for Jan. It’s clear that she is lonely, frantic, a little (or a lot) unstable, and, eventually, also drunk. Moving away to a new place, starting fresh at a new job, is a good move. Hopefully she is able to get some appropriate social support, maybe a good therapist or support group, and some friends.

    1. Observer*

      I do feel bad for her, and I do hope that she gets the help she needs.

      But I am even more happy for the OP that Jan is OUT OF HER LIFE!

      What a crazy situation and insane ending.

      It makes for a great read, but almost by definition, the best stories are the most uncomfortable ones. So, OP, I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

  12. BellyButton*

    OOF everything that happened AT work was bad enough, but I almost died from third hand embarrassment from her behavior at the party.

    1. Shiara*

      I don’t love that, rather than take her concerns straight to Keith when he got back from vacation, she instead told all her coworkers all the other inappropriate things Jan had done.

      And then one of those coworkers talked to Jan but still no one talked to Keith.

    2. EmmaPoet*

      The level of cringe was honestly painful. I can’t watch stuff like this on TV without being driven out of the room, I cannot imagine being at this party and not wanting to go hide.

  13. I should really pick a name*

    One thing I really liked about the original letter was that the LW has already spoken to Jan.

    With most letters, the LW hasn’t even tried saying their uncomfortable before writing in.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Yes, well done letter-writer for talking to both Jan (in the original letter) and Keith (in this update)! And good for Stacy, too, who also spoke up to Keith. Very good examples of resolving a problem by speaking up.

    2. Thegreatprevaricator*

      Throughout both letters I noted the letter writer setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries. Not always easy to do when you’re new in a role and a young woman, with a manager that’s dodging the issue. Big respect to the letter writer!

  14. L. Ron's Cupboard*

    This was absolutely mortifying to read. But yay for Stacy for being so direct and cutting through the BS.

  15. HugeTractsofLand*

    Oh my god, “Aunt Jan.” This was profoundly embarrassing to read, but I also hope that Jan can put things behind her. These are not the actions of a happy person. These *might* be the actions of a woman who was suddenly and traumatically thrust back into singlehood (her husband passed) and completely flailing…but it still doesn’t excuse any of her behavior. I’m glad that Keith finally resolved things and that Jan is moving somewhere she might get more emotional support.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      And having a deadbeat (or perhaps there are more issues there) adult child who so far has driven away one boyfriend, and Jan is seeing that Son might be a huge albatross around her neck for some time, and all the love and guilt that go into having a nonfunctional adult child.

      Jan’s life sounds very unhappy. Of course that is no excuse for her to behave as she did, and the drunkenness and “Aunt Jan” was the last straw. (That poor daughter! I bet she was horrified.) I hope Jan gets the *therapy* – preferably family therapy! – that she needs. Professional help is called for at this point.

  16. cindylouwho*

    I feel bad for the daughter who was presumably just trying to enjoy a normal engagement party, and got this bananapants lady

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        At least Aunt Jan made it a sure thing that she’s not getting an invite to the wedding.

  17. MonteCristo*

    Well I can’t say I like how this was handled AT ALL. But at least you don’t have to deal with it anymore.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Yeah in the first letter, I thought Jan’s antics were pretty isolated. With the update, I see now that Keith was and is a bit of wuss. He was clearly more aware than the LW realized.

  18. Seashell*

    I wouldn’t want to hear a co-worker talk sexually about another co-worker, but doubly so when the object of affection is married. I probably would have tried to shut the discussion down on that basis initially.

    Anyway, glad Jan is going to be out of the picture.

      1. Seashell*

        I did read it, but it doesn’t sound like she specified that this is extra inappropriate because the guy is married. I probably would have gone for something like “I don’t want to hear about your interest in breaking up a marriage” or “I’m not interested in a married man” when Jan was saying LW would have better luck getting the boss.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I have a particular and personal distaste for extra-marital affairs, but I don’t think it applies here, no. Even when someone is single, it’s all-the-way not okay to sexually objectify someone at work, or speculate about two colleagues getting it on. There’s no “extra” level of harassment being bad for married people, because we’re talking about sexual harassment, not about who it’s okay to date. It doesn’t matter at all if they’re single or not, when you’re dealing with harassment. I can totally see myself saying “I’m not interested in a married man” because I get personally offended at people thinking I would do that, but it would be a knee jerk mistake to say that. If Keith gets divorced a few months on, you’ve got to explain all over again to the harasser why they still can’t harass and sexualize him even though he’s single now.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, I agree with you on all points.

            If the LW had been married, she could’ve said “I’m not the least interested in Keith because I’m married and very monogamous” because that would clearly indicate that no matter how Keith’s relationship status changed, she still wouldn’t be interested.

            But regardless of the relationship status of the people involved, Jan’s behavior was inappropriate.

  19. Ashley*

    I feel bad for Jan, she was clearly not in a healthy place and that resulted in her clearly making some odd and very embarrassing choices. I’m glad everyone seemed to see it for what it was and that OP was able to stand up against it but oof, definitely hoping Jan gets herself into a better mental state because yikes.

  20. Wow, really?*

    Whatever she was going through, I feel like that is no good excuse to be so horrible, over the top and obnoxious to her coworkers.

    She has way bigger problems before you even get to the family issues. I hope, rather than expect, that she’s going to do better in any other job.

    1. Observer*

      The behavior at the party goes well past being horrible to her coworkers, though that definitely was happening.

      She started bad, and when she got some push back she just amped it up.

      The only good thing here is that this seems to have blown up spectacularly enough that perhaps she finally realizes that she actually needs some help. That’s the first step.

  21. Keira*

    If I were Keith’s wife I would have *a lot* of questions and concerns about this situation and how he handles himself at work in general.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      I would too! It’s possible that Keith and Wife just have one of those old-school marriages where Keith earns the money and Wife is in charge of handling all the domestic and emotional labor. But even given this assumption, I’d have some pointed questions and concerns about “Aunt Jan” and her behavior, and if Keith was at least passively complicit.

    2. Le Anon*

      Yeah, reading this I kept thinking I’m not sure who’s luckier I’m not “the wife,” Jan or Keith, because the disrespect from both of them, while of different flavors, is incredibly heinous. There would be Consequences, both immediate and long-term.

  22. Hiring Mgr*

    This isn’t really relevant, but I’m surprised Jan was invited to the daughter’s engagement party to begin with

    1. guedita*

      It seems like the whole office was invited! Which is strange to me, and suggests that type of blending work/family boundaries that can happen in super small, sometimes toxic office places.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        Yup, I got strong “small business where we are all like faaaaamily here” vibes. The kind of thing that never ends well.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this.

          That said, if the event had been, say, Keith’s and his wife’s 25th anniversary or something, I could’ve understood it somewhat. But their daughter’s engagement party? Nope, it doesn’t compute for me, because here engagement parties tend to be hosted by the couple, and the parents don’t get any say in issuing invitations.

  23. Ashley*

    You go OP! Keith was definitely part of the problem & I, for one, am so happy you didn’t cave when he tried to pass responsibility (that’s not yours!!) to you. He knew this had been going on, did nothing to help, INVITED CRAZY TO HIS DAUGHTERS PARTY & then expected everyone else to deal with it & only did something when his wife spoke up repeatedly. He sounds like The Worst & if I was his wife I’d be *furious*. You & your coworkers are not Jan’s minders. Regardless of it being a work or non work function. Not your problem. It sucks that you were so aggressively dragged into such a hot mess but hopefully now you can work free from things like that. I wouldn’t trust Keith further than I could throw him.

  24. GreyjoyGardens*

    What a mess! I am getting “small business where we are all like faaaamily” vibes – the boundaries seem to be rather poor. But, at least Jan is no longer the OP’s or anyone at that company’s problem any more. Keith was practicing some “head in the sand management” when it came to Jan (whether he felt sorry for her or just didn’t want to deal) and it was up to OP and Stacey, and, later, Keith’s wife! I’d be furious if I was the latter, or Keith’s daughter, having to deal with a drunk “Aunt Jan” from dad’s office at my engagement party.

    It wasn’t OP’s or Stacey’s job to be “drunk person babysitter” and I think that pouring Jan into an Uber and sending her home was the right call. I don’t want to risk physical assault, a drunk puking in my nice clean car, or, worst, some kind of personal injury lawsuit threat because I was somehow “responsible” if Jan got hurt. Those are all things that co-workers should not have to be responsible for. Jan chose to get drunk and make a donkey of herself; she can deal with being bundled into a cab and sent home.

    I really, really hope, for Jan’s sake, that her “fresh start” includes lots of therapy, family therapy with her and Son especially. Even if Son has actual issues that make holding down a job hard for him (is not just a deadbeat) that doesn’t mean he has to be an entitled jerk who drives off all of Mom’s new beaus. Son needs to not be an albatross around Mom’s neck. Jan *desperately* needs to be able to solve her problems in a constructive way – at least not by hitting on the boss and trying to insinuate herself into his family! She’s lucky she got off as easy as she did – simply being allowed to quit and leave without fuss. The next workplace might fire her for cause, or even sue her for harassment, and that will make it difficult for her to find other employment. So, THERAPY, Jan, therapy!

    OP, glad the trash has taken itself out. Definitely keep an eye out for other opportunities in case the boundary busting and poor management are part of a pattern.

  25. ProducerNYC*

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Keith actually encourages Jan’s behavior on some level (overt or otherwise)– she may be completely irrational, or he may be having an inappropriate relationship with her and it serves him if everyone thinks she’s ‘crazy.’ Maybe I’ve seen too many Law & Orders but I’m not so swift to think Keith is an innocent party here!

    1. Decima Dewey*

      My thought is that Keith thought it was “cute” that Jan had a crush on him. At least until his wife saw that Jan was not behaving appropriately. Wife probably also didn’t want the most memorable part of her daughter’s engagement party to be Jan making a fool of herself.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until Drunk Aunt Jan shows up at your daughter’s engagement party and your wife is not pleased.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yah, it does sound a lot like he knew and… didn’t mind? Well, at least he for sure does mind now. Probably nothing inappropriate, but maybe he felt flattered in some weird way? If true, I’d be angry at him for enabling Jan’s downward spiral to take her further than it would’ve otherwise.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, it’s hard to say whether he was flattered or simply so embarrassed by her singling him out for attention that he just hoped it’d go away if he ignored it.

        I hope the LW sends in another update because I’d love to know what Keith’s like as a boss otherwise. Can he deal with work-related issues, or is he always conflict-averse to this extent?

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      Man, I’m quite disheartened by a lot of the comments above about Keith and especially this one, which is just straight-up victim blaming IMO. I mean, this is just “maybe he was asking for it”, you know that, right?

      Certainly he shouldn’t have asked OP to take Jan home, for all the reasons discussed above. It seems like he was hoping for the whole situation to resolve itself somehow – a not-uncommon response from harassment victims (particularly from older men who may not have a great framework to deal with this kind of thing) although of course not an ideal one from a manager. But since all we have is OP’s perspective we don’t really know how badly her behaviour was affecting him (if this is how she behaved *in front of his wife*, what on earth was she like in private?) and I’m really uncomfortable with how dismissive people seem of that.

      1. Observer*

        You know, I mostly disagree with you, though I do agree with one thing.

        The thing I *do* agree on is the idea that it’s likely that he was actually encouraging it is out of line. Not only is there no evidence of that (and the OP would surely mention it if there were), the evidence we see is the exact reverse. This is not about people “seeing” Jan as “crazy”. It’s about behavior that starts at “highly inappropriate” and ends up at “unhinged”. And *none* of it would be happening if they *actually* had an inappropriate relationship.

        Having said that, calling Keith the victim and thus cutting him some slack is inappropriate. His handling of the situation was way more than “not ideal.” It was a real failure of responsibility to his other staff, who were *also* victims – especially the OP! and with little to no power in this situation. He, on the other hand, did have the power and authority to do something about it, and he *chose not do do anything*! We know that he actually had the ability to shut it down, because when he finally did act, well it worked!

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Okay, well, yes, we do obviously disagree here! I don’t think it’s inappropriate to describe him as a victim of sexual harassment, and I think it’s reasonable to take that into account when considering his response. If you want to call that “cutting him some slack” then that’s up to you. He was able to shut it down once she caused a massive, public, uncomfortable scene that literally anyone would recognise as inappropriate. Before that, when she still had a level of “lonely widow with crush” deniability and was trying to play down her remarks as “girl talk”, yes, I do think he may not have known how to deal with it appropriately as a manager. Sure, replace ‘not ideal’ with something stronger, but basically I do have sympathy for him and think that a lot of this commentary is dismissive and unkind.

        2. GreyjoyGardens*

          I agree – it’s something of a fanfic to think that Keith was outright encouraging Jan’s crush. But I think it’s apparent from the letter that he lacked boundaries (inviting staff to his daughter’s engagement party?), and was, at the very least, passive in dealing with Jan. He fobbed the Jan issue off onto the LW and her colleague and then his wife. Keith sounds like a combination of “ignore the Jan problem and hope it solves itself,” “I’m going to let other people deal with this hot potato,” and “poor work life boundaries.”

    1. allathian*

      I don’t. She brought it all on herself. Just because she’s in an unhappy marriage and her son has some problems (although I admit I don’t like the LW’s description of him as “deadbeat”) doesn’t entitle her to behave like this. I hope she gets the help she needs, though.

      That said, I put a lot of the blame on Keith for refusing to deal with Jan before things got this bad.

      1. Rondeaux*

        She did bring it on herself but I feel bad for anyone who is clearly struggling like that. And yeah the deadbeat son comment was unncecssary and gossippy

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          It sounds like the son, whatever his issues, has enough of a, shall we say *difficult*, personality, to drive his mother’s new boyfriend to break up with her. It’s possible that Boyfriend is tremendously intolerant and/or just doesn’t want a dependent adult child in his hair (and that’s his right), but most people know that adult children often wind up living with their parents, and are fine with it *unless the child is a source of problems and drama* which spills over into the relationship and/or sucks up a lot of money.

          If Son was the reason Jan doesn’t have a boyfriend now, then there ARE problems. Deadbeat? Has mental health issues? We don’t know. But I think Jan and Son both badly need therapy, including family therapy. Jan can’t live the rest of her life with Son driving away all her potential boyfriends.

  26. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I am just here to share with you all that (and I promise it will become relevant in a few seconds) a month ago, I adopted a cat from the local APL. This is my first time, he is a very sweet older gentleman that had most of his remaining teeth extracted at the shelter. I didn’t want to keep the shelter name (that he’d only had for the one month he stayed there) and, after a week of making lists, going over them with family and friends, I finally decided on a new one. Not even for a moment, until now, did I have any regrets about naming my cat KEITH. NO-TEETH KEITH. (I promise I won’t be naming any of my future pets Jan.)

    1. Aitch Arr*

      My beloved Papou (grandfather) was named Keith.
      All Keiths therefore – except for the one in this thread – are awesome.

    2. Abundant Shrimp (formerly I Wrote This...)*

      Thank you, everyone! I told Cat Keith of y’all’s approval. Keith says “PURRR”

  27. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    “heartened by the degree to which Alison’s advice teaches people to speak up calmly and neutrally, and hoping for more of the neutrality and less of the aggression”
    Very much this. She helps so many people stop reacting and start reflecting.

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