it’s Leap Day! let’s discuss ridiculous workplace policies

It’s Leap Day and so in honor of the Leap Year employee who finally gets her birthday off this year, we must talk about bizarre, nonsensical policies your employers have had. Did they ban humor? Refuse to let you say “how are you?”  to customers? Tell you that you couldn’t wear your wedding ring because it wasn’t gold or silver? Only let employees born on Leap Day have their birthday off once every four years?

Please share any particularly ridiculous policies you’ve encountered at work in the comments.

{ 1,419 comments… read them below }

  1. Juicebox Hero*

    I just want to wish the Leap Day birthday employee a very happy birthday, and I hope she’s working someplace less bananpants where all birthdays are celebrated equally (or none or celebrated at all.)

      1. Oxford Common Sense*

        I also mentioned her at the breakfast table today! May she be having a wonderful day off today, and I hope she is working for a less pig-headed employer!

      2. GammaGirl1908*

        I also thought about her today! I hope she is on a beach with a pina colada today, and has new, sane co-workers.

    1. Czhorat*

      One of my favorite types of letter here is the clueless manager saying “My otherwise excellent employee is mad about something objectively unreasonable the company is doing. How do I gaslight them into thinking they’re wrong and get them to shut up about it?”

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Me, too, and bonus points when the LW turns up in the comments to be all “but reasons!!!” and won’t budge in the face of reason, criticism, or exasperation.

          1. ChiliHeeler*

            Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Requiring people to take the day off was weird but the doubling down was what really stood out as unhinged.

            1. OMG It's 2024*

              Especially since they specified that other employees didn’t always take their ACTUAL EXACTl Bday off, if it fell on a weekend/holiday. Why on EARTH would they not treat her Bday like that during the intervening years? “But there’s no 29th on this year’s calendar, so it doesn’t exist” is just so… God I hope she got outta there and left them in the lurch when she walked!

              1. Audrey Puffins*

                I would 100% have said “in accordance with company policy, as my birthday is not a working day, I will be taking the next working day off, which is the 1st of March”. I absolutely don’t understand how the LW was intelligent enough to write a coherent letter to Alison and yet not intelligent enough to see how very in the wrong they were

                1. Dek*

                  It’s something that just scrambles my brain every time I remember it.

                  Like, absolutely the Patrick ID meme.

          2. Project Maniac-ger*

            Is it normal in some industries to force people to take their birthday off? At my org we accrue one extra PTO day the month of our birthdays. Most people do not take their birthday off unless it’s part of a larger vacation.

            1. AnotherOne*

              I assumed this was supposed to be a benefit except to the one employee that it was a punishment because everyone got their birthday off except for her.

            2. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

              The only org I ever worked that gave birthdays off, it was that day or the nearest weekday.
              If you can take it any time in the year, you might as well just increase the annual leave allocation at that point. (I often wonder why companies don’t do that with flexible holidays)

              1. Jamoche*

                I worked at one that did – in addition to PTO, we had a small number of days that could be used for holidays, birthdays, or other significant days. I don’t think they actually verified that it was a recognized holiday. (That just reminded me of an elementary school book where one character exploited a “you can take off religious holidays” rule by claiming every one she could find.)

              2. I am Emily's failing memory*

                At my employer, I don’t know if there’s a limit on how many floating holidays you could use consecutively – I’ve definitely seen people take two days in a row with them – but I do know we can’t supplement vacation PTO with floating holidays to create extra-long vacations.

                The idea behind them is that they’re really intended to be for those odd days here and there you need off for some kind of personal obligation that wouldn’t be covered by medical, jury duty, or similar types of special leave categories but aren’t exactly fun leisure time either, so the floating holiday prevents you having to dip into vacation PTO if you have those kinds of obligations.

                In practice the only way that is really enforced is by not allowing them to be used to extend PTO – I’ve never known anyone to be grilled around whether they were taking their floating holiday for a religious holiday, a kid’s college graduation, or an “I’m not going to make it to my next scheduled vacation without losing my mind if I don’t get a day off somewhere in between” day.

            3. Petty_Boop*

              Never anywhere I’ve worked. Most gave us 2-4 “Personal” days on top of our PTO and Holidays to take for Bday, Anniversary, whatever. No reason needed to be given. But I usually work my Bday since we celebrate usually the adjacent weekend, or go to dinner and also, I’m 50+ and don’t feel the need to be all IT IS MY BDAY TODAY!!!

            4. Lauren*

              I always take my birthday off if I can, and don’t generally have other days off around it but I seem to be in the minority in the last few places I’ve worked.

            5. goddessoftransitory*

              Mine’s on a federal holiday, so I never went to school on my birthday, and basically carried that over into my working life. I’ve only worked on my birthday once, and that was at a brand new job that I’d started only a couple weeks before. Otherwise I make sure to put my requested PTO in good and early (luckily it’s not some huge holiday that tons of people take off!) But yeah, it’s not special; anybody can request their birthday off if they want to but it’s not automatic.

              1. pandop*

                Mine’s around Easter, sometimes, what with Easter being a moveable feast, so I take the day off if I need to, but often I’m not at work anyway.

            6. Chirpy*

              My company gives us a free vacation day for our birthday, but it must be taken in that week or you lose it.

          3. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            Thanks for the link. I had forgotten just HOW obnoxious and irritating that manager/LW was, ACK!

        1. Mel*

          “Every employee in the organisation but one gets a paid day off and a gift card for their birthday. However, we’re doing nothing wrong in denying that one employee the same benefits as everyone else for no other reason than her date of birth because we don’t publicly acknowledge birthdays — we just give every other employee those extra benefits instead.” It may not meet the legal definition of discrimination, but ethically and morally, that’s what it is.

      2. Artemesia*

        The thing I loved about that letter is that they did provide the benefits to employees whose birthdays fell on the weekend — but not to the person born on Feb 29. And she doubled down and presumably it wasn’t just one loon in that company but several to push a ridiculous policy like that.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yeah, that’s what pushed it from “bizarrely strict rule-following” (which is ludicrous but you can follow the logic) to “a-hole behavior”.

          Like the manager who wouldn’t let their best employee attend her own graduation because of Rules. I really started seeing red when LW revealed that they’d allowed other employees to break those same all-important rules to attend a concert.

            1. Graduate, Hard Knocks University*

              Ooooh yes! I remember that one! Because, obvs, neither money nor time was spent on getting a college degree. /s
              That LW could not see where their reasoning was just *wrong*

        2. GammaGirl1908*

          It was just too weird that they were being so objectively obtuse about the fact that obviously there is a day that she legally changes age every year, even if that year is not a leap year. Just, **facepalm**.

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            I mean… I am on Team Leap Year Employee, but in my (sometimes overly-literal and rigid) brain, there is a clear difference between a birthday, which celebrates a specific calendar date, and “getting a year older”. The point is obscured because most of us celebrate “getting a year older” on the calendar date of our birth, but the two things are separate, as the outlying case of Leap Year birthdays shows. So the policy, in Overly Rigid Leap Year Manager’s mind, refers specifically to calendar date and not the anniversary of a birth.

            Actually the more I type this out, the weirder it is and maybe I don’t get it after all. I was going to say that birthdays aren’t always celebrated exactly 365 days after one’s birth, or all of us non-Leap-Day babies would have to shift the date back one day every Leap Year* (again showing the theoretical separability of dates and anniversaries) but then I remembered that years are actually not a whole number of days in the first place, so the whole thing breaks down at a certain point. Hmmm.

            In any case, # JusticeForLeapYearEmployee!

            1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

              I guess this is it: your birthday is calendar time (date on human-made system with socially constructed rules), getting a year older us cosmic time (earth goes round the sun).

            2. Random Dice*

              Birthdays are a holdover ancient Roman worship tradition, and early Christians (and a few current ones) banned birthdays accordingly.

              Just an interesting non sequitur.

            3. Jasmine*

              “ birthdays aren’t always celebrated exactly 365 days after one’s birth“

              In Taiwan people count themselves a year older when they pass Lunar New Year. I noticed on a prescription that that listed me as 65yo in February but I will not really be 65 til March 26.

              1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

                And Thoroughbred horses have a birthday of January 1 (Northern hemisphere) or August 1 (Southern hemisphere).

            4. Time*

              The reason we have leap years (and leap seconds!) is to keep time consistent with where the Earth is in relation to the sun. Ergo, on the anniversary of of one’s birth, the Earth is in almost the exact same spot relative to the sun as when one was born.

              *I* can’t prove it to you, but the proof does exist!

        3. Wilbur*

          I hope they turn themselves in for violating child labor laws since their employee hasn’t even turned 10 yet.

      3. Abundant Shrimp*

        I just re-read the letter and update and it is so wild to me. How does LW not see that they essentially gave Leap Day Employee a paycut? Throwing words around like “if it were public, I would understand, but it’s not”, “it is unprofessional”, “borne of inexperience”, but I bet LW would be singing a different tune if their compensation was suddenly cut by one paid day off and whatever amount the birthday gift card is.

        You’re right about the “asking for advice on how to best gaslight” part – LW’s letters reminded me of that one boss that didn’t give her best employee a day off to attend her own college graduation, and when the employee quit on the spot, wrote in to AAM asking how she could’ve better educated the employee about the work norms.

      4. Not Jane*

        And I work for someone like this now and it’s so hard to explain things to people who dont use logic reasoning yet use their power to ‘be right’

      5. I am Emily's failing memory*

        The one I really felt for was the small business owner who had two employees and wrote in about problems with Long-Term Employee that had largely been raised by New Employee, and it was immediately obvious to most of the commenters that NE was manipulating the owner to try to drive out LTE, and NE was actually the problem. The LW’s update some time later confirmed that the AAM community’s hunch had been right, and not long after the letter, NE had shown her true colors in some way that I don’t remember the particulars of – left the owner high and dry at a critical juncture after running off LTE, or maybe trashed the owner to mutual colleagues in the industry, something along those lines.

        1. Dr Sarah*

          It’s this one: (that’s the original post).

          In the update, LTE had had enough and quit without notice, NE then also quit and took another employee (whom she’d recruited) with her, and NE and friend of NE trashed the company on social media, basically destroying it. This one did end with the OP realising that she’d been the one in the wrong. (I also like OP’s BIL’s callout in the update.)

      6. Laser99*

        “My employee keeps asking to be paid. How do I make her realize she is too big for her britches?”

    2. AnonInCanada*

      Tell me about it. I was thinking about that poor Leap Year employee yesterday. Hopefully she’s celebrating her (I’ll presume from that ridiculous letter she was born in 1988) “9th” birthday, far away from that ridiculous company.

      Happy Leap Day!

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

        I finally am working with my first Leap Day coworker and got to wish him a happy “18th” birthday! And gently chide him about how much longer he has until he turns 21. ;)

        I kid- he’s a sweetheart and presumably has been drinking for literally 50 years. ;)

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          My brother and his wife were married on 2-29-92 so I made sure to tease them about their 8th anniversary this morning.

          1. GhostGirl*

            Our dating anniversary is 2/29/1996, so husband and I are going out for a steak dinner for our 7th anniversary. :-D

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            I pushed for a 2/29 wedding, but my wife knew perfectly well that this was a gambit to have fewer anniversaries.

        2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          I just found out I have a Leap Year birthday co-worker. If it weren’t for the OP saying they were Canadian I would have wondered if it was her.

          1. whingedrinking*

            I don’t think the OP is Canadian (or at least doesn’t live/work in Canada). She mentions living in a place where Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered a cult and the religion is banned, which it isn’t here.

            1. BubbleTea*

              I’m not sure we can take the LW as a particularly reliable narrator. Someone as egregiously wrong about logic and fairness might well have misunderstood the law.

              1. Lalouve*

                JW is banned in a few places (China, Russia, Singapore, I think) so it might well be the case.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          We had something that had to go out this week and everyone agreed that it NEEDED to be dated today, haha.

        4. Salsa Your Face*

          My friend just gave birth yesterday on leap day, and I said “congratulations, I look forward to attending his 1st birthday party in 2028” :D

      2. SlothLover*

        Yes. I’ve been thinking about her “age” as well. Since the company sees her as only having a birthday every 4 years, they are clearly engaging in child labor, as this employee isn’t even 10 yet, in the company’s eyes.

        Also, I really hope that this person somehow finds these posts, recognized herself, and gives us an update that she is working at a much better company now!

      3. Quill*

        As a teenager I knew a girl who was born on leap day and absolutely did not appreciate us making her a card for her “fourth” birthday.

        1. Rebecca*

          We did this too! I remember her as a very assertive woman, even as a teenager, and I fondly picture her giving that boss a piece of her mind every time that story comes up. Makes me smile every time.

        2. WriterDrone*

          I knew a family who considered themselves to have three “10 year-olds” at once. The dad was a leap day baby and turned 40 not long after his second child turned 10 and not long before his oldest child turned 11, so all three had technically only had 10 birthdays for those few days.

        3. Minimal Pear*

          I was supposed to be born on Leap Day and, knowing what my parents find funny, I’m SO glad I ended up being born on a different day.

          1. Cyndi*

            I was supposed to be born on Leap Day, but the anesthesiologist for my mom’s C-Section got double booked somehow so I’m a plain old March 1 baby.

        4. Elio*

          My great-aunt was born on Leap Day and I was very confused as a kid when she kept telling me she was 16 years old.

      4. AnonORama*

        I had a coworker with a Leap Day birthday and we’d find her funny “you’re 13!” cards and such. (There were no work-sanctioned birthday benefits for her to potentially miss out on, but we always gave her a card and a cupcake or similar on the 28th in non-leap years.)

    3. Nay*

      My sister and I have been giggling all month about the Leap Year post, but we truly hope that poor employee is working somewhere that is far more reasonable and logical.

    4. Paulina*

      My mind boggles at the contortions that that workplace had to do in order to have a cake that honoured everyone with a February birthday, but specifically exclude someone with a Feb. 29 birthday in years when that date didn’t exist. It’s still a February birthday!

      Either that or they did a very bizarre implementation of their process — like first label each date with who had a birthday that day, and base everything else on that labelled calendar — and dug their heels in, defending it.

      Happy birthday, Leap Year birthday employee. I hope you get all the cake (or other treats of your choice).

      1. MigraineMonth*

        “Happy Birthday to everyone with February birthdays EXCEPT SANDRA WHO DOESN’T COUNT THIS YEAR” is a pretty long message to write on a cake.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          A friend and I joked that because each year is actually 365.25 days long, she should get a mini-muffin off to the side with her initials in year 1.25, a cupcake off to the side with her first name in year 2.5, a baby-smash-sized cake with her name in year 3.75, and then be on the regular cake in year 4.

          I also liked the suggestion to have her first name on the February cake and her last name on the March cake, heh.

    5. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Yes! Happy birthday Leap Day Employee! Many many AAM readers are sending you best wishes!

      1. OMG It's 2024*

        There was only the one where the OP double down on why their policy was correct and the employee was petty and stubborn and unprofessional. Alison, correctly and succinctly commented that it was lunacy.

    6. Heffalump*

      Some years ago I was working for a large company, and around Leap Day the cover of the company newsletter had a headshot of an employee captioned “Six Years Old.” Of course, she was a Leap Day baby, so she was really 24. This company didn’t give employees their birthday off. But they weren’t bananacrackers in general, and I’m sure that if they had, this employee would have gotten her birthday off every year on 2/29, 3/1, whatever.

    7. starsaphire*

      I think of her at this time of year. And I often wonder how bizarre it would be to suddenly find out that a huge number of people, somewhere on the Internet that you previously knew nothing about, have been celebrating you for years. :)

      1. Random Dice*

        That would be so wild.

        Every now and then people say they found a letter that was clearly about them.

    8. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      I was thinking of the Leap Day birthday employee today, too! I hope she’s having a wonderful day.

    9. Look User! Even the Shop is for Sale!*

      I also wish her a Happy Birthday and I really hope she works somewhere else

    10. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I also want to congratulate all the 44-year-old people who finally got their Hogwarts letters! Eleventh birthday, remember?

      1. BubbleTea*

        Surely anyone born sooner than August 31st, and not living with fools who block the delivery of post, would have had their letters much sooner than their 11th birthday? It was secondary school place allocation day this week in the UK. I realise Howarts isn’t a state school but still, they’d be very out of step if they didn’t notify prospective students around the same time as other schools do.

    11. OMG, Bees!*

      The Leap Day birthday employee will forever be an AAM classic for me, alongside the manager who wrote in that he refused to let his best employee have half a day off for her graduation so she quit.

    12. Greta*

      I hope she went elsewhere and her replacement did not have a February 29th birthday. Or else that would wreck their budget.

    1. ChaoticNeutral*

      Same it’s literally the first thing I think about every Leap Day now. I was born in a leap year and had TWO childhood friends born on February 29 so while it is uncommon it’s obviously not impossible….justice for Leap Day Birthday OP!!

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        One of my high school teachers had two children four years apart … both born on Leap Day.

        I am old enough that these kiddos have definitely been in the workplace so I hope they are not somewhere with those bananapants policies.

      2. Veryanon*

        I went to high school with twins who were born on Leap Day. In non-leap years, one celebrated her birthday on Feb 28 and the other on March 1. I always thought that was a very creative idea

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          That is a great idea. Not only their own special day 3/4 of the time, but makes the actual Leap Day joint birthday a bigger celebration. I love it.

          1. Zephy*

            If they’re like the sets of twins I know, they’re very aware of who was born “first” (and by how many minutes), so I’m guessing Ms. 2/28 was Ms. 2/28 every non-leap year.

            1. Impending Heat Dome*

              I always liked to joke that last out was first in. (I’m the one who was born second, by 3 minutes.)

            2. GammaGirl1908*

              Agree. I assume whoever is 4 minutes older is 2/28, and the “younger” sibling is 3/1.

              (I even know a set of twins who are like 7 minutes apart, but those 7 minutes cross midnight, so they have different birthdays.)

            3. OrganGrinder*

              I knew twin brothers at college. The older one would always say to the younger, “When I was your age…”

      3. Elle*

        Me too! When leap day comes up I have to restrain myself from immediately telling people about this story without gauging whether they actually are interested first

      4. Butterfly Counter*

        My brother was born on March 1st. If he had been born the year before, he’d have been a leap baby! It’s the same day, just a little different. :D

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        I saw an article in today’s paper about a Leap Day Baby cruise–a bunch of people all got together and took a birthday trip, and had so much fun they got together again this year!

    2. ecnaseener*

      Every time I go back to read it, I’m whacked over the head with the reminder that LW said everyone gets their birthday “or the day after if it falls on a weekend or holiday” off — so it’s not even that they’re very strict about this only applying when your actual birthday is a workday! Gah!

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          That the writer could not even see the contradiction right there in front of their face. Well leap day’s birthday was obviously not a work day so give her the next work day off. It really isn’t hard. A less strictly by the letter manager would have figured it out. But since the policy didn’t say specifically anything about leap day birthdays — welp nothing the manager could do.

          1. Quill*

            Yeah, like… a reasonable person would have said “you’re march first 3/4 of the time” or “sorry, the system won’t let me flag you as two different dates so I’m going to put you down as march 1” rather than “you, and only you, are denied a known workplace perk.”

          2. AngryOctopus*

            Plus denying her the gift card!! No cake, no day off, no extra perk–I hope she’s having an amazing birthday and got out of that insane job!

          3. goddessoftransitory*

            It’s “there’s no rule that says dogs CAN’T play basketball” taken to an infuriating, not cute movie extreme.

      1. Paulina*

        It sounds like their first step is to write everyone’s birthdays on the calendar. In non-leap years, there’s no Feb 29 box to write that employee’s name, so they just don’t. Yikes.

        1. AnonORama*

          This person should work at my employer! People here go HARD for birthdays and it’s difficult to convince them that no, really, you don’t celebrate. (Saying you would strongly prefer it be ignored is apparently read as a sneaky attempt to get a surprise cake and decorations in your office, possibly including a party hat that you’ll feel like a bad sport if you don’t put on.)

          As someone who hasn’t celebrated a birthday since 21 — a long time ago and possibly in a galaxy far, far, away — it was super irritating until I convinced HR to take it off the calendar. I honestly said if people are missing out on the free cupcakes, I’ll get some! I don’t eat sugar, but I don’t want my birthday hatred to deny everyone else free snacks.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            You are my twin! Then there was the issue of my bachelor party, back in the day. My preference was not to have one, but this cause much distress. I eventually figured out that what was needed was to have some sort of event and declare it to be the bachelor part. We went to a minor league ballgame.

            1. Evan Þ*

              Reminds me of my friend’s bachelor party where we spent the evening playing board games together. It was fun – and appropriate too; he and his wife had first gotten together at a board game night where only the two of them had shown up.

    3. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      That letter was so bannapants. I can’t believe this was my first time seeing it. Just the whole thing…wow. I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (so I concur with another commenter that based on the update, it sounds like the LW was in Russia) and I work for a company that gives us off on our birthday. We don’t actually have to take off on our birthday, but we can take off any day during that month. I consider it part of my benefits package, so I absolutely take a day off that month, and if I become a manager someday at this company, I will encourage others to use that benefit. Also, being able to use it at any time during the month ensures no one is excluded. My mind was blown at that letter.

    4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I had a friend who gave birth just after 1am today and it was the FIRST thing that came to mind! (Aside from the usual, obviously!)

      1. S.H.I.E.L.D. Employee Playing Galaga*

        My sister is due any second, and it’s still possible where she lives to have her baby before the end of Leap Day. Hopefully, if that happens, the kid won’t have to deal with this level of insanity in their workplace.

    5. Phony Genius*

      What I remember about that letter is that, based on their update, they work outside of North America. There are some parts of the world where the normal workplace culture is that you are always to appear happy about your job and you never question your employer’s policies. In these places, respect for your superiors/employer is valued above all else. It seemed to me that this LW was deeply embedded in that culture and felt that this employee needed to “get with the program.” Looking at it from that perspective, it does not make the birthday policy any more reasonable, but it does explain why the LW and their manager wouldn’t budge (assuming that they are not empowered to change the policy).

      1. ColdClimes*

        The LW was working outside of North America, but she was Canadian and this is definitely a bananas concept to a Canadian. (Or, at least, to me. A Canadian.)

        1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

          In the original letter, the LW explains that she was the employee’s manager, but also that *her* manager thought Leap Day Birthday Gal was being “petty.” It was so frustrating to me as a reader (and at time of publication, a new manager as well) that they couldn’t see this policy needed to be amended, because every human being has a birthday. I don’t know all of my coworkers’ birthdays, but they still age every year! The LW and her manager doubled down on this wrongness, and then LW sent an update to still defend her utterly stupid position! I thought about LDBG last night and hope she’s gotten extra special birthdays in 2020 and this year and forevermore.

    6. HB*

      I’ve been looking forward to this post for about 3 days now.

      My dream is that the leap year employee will one day see the post and update us. My guess is this policy wasn’t the only bananabeepants going on at that company. Or I’d really just love a breakdown of the conversations they must have had.

  2. Daisy*

    Friend’s boss (female) wouldn’t let friend wear makeup or high heels because (and she really said exactly this) then friend would be more attractive than her.

    Said boss also told me that men were to be pounded and massaged like a cheap piece of beef.

    1. Wolf*

      That’s an impressive amount of sexism against both men and women. (I don’t dare to ask if she had any opionion on enby, but I’ll assume it wasn’t better.)

      1. Jolie*

        I would guess she’s the kind of person who would say “Why, I don’t believe in enbies”. The correct answer to that is “Oh, enbies don’t believe in you, either”.

        1. not nice, don't care*

          Correct answer is ‘hopefully the lawyer managing the discrimination cases will educate you’.

          1. Jolie*

            The judge doesn’t believe in your ability to get out of it scot-free, and after you’re done paying rightful compensation let’s see how much the bank will believe in your credit score.

          2. Dr Sarah*

            I managed to read this as ‘hopefully your lawyer will believe in you’ and LOL’d.

        2. N C Kiddle*

          Yeah, that level of sexism relies on a rigid gender binary so of course they aren’t going to acknowledge the existence of anyone outside it.

    2. Caliente Papillon*

      But how do you “let” someone wear make-up or high heels? I would love for someone to try that with me because I can’t even imagine how that would work, I feel like I’d laugh because that’s fricking hilarious.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        I pretty much can’t wear high heels but boy would a comment like this hit my “Okay, tomorrow instead of my usual no makeup I am DOLLING UP.”

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          Right? I only wear the most minimal makeup day to day, but in this case? FULL FACE O’ SLAP FROM THIS DAY FORWARD!

          I know the person in this situation probably just wants to get by until they can find a better job, and I wouldn’t blame them from just complying until then to avoid drama, but I would be so tempted.

      2. Pennyworth*

        In London some years ago temp agencies uses to mandate high heels for women. I think it took a court case to overturn the mandate.

    3. Observer*

      Friend’s boss (female) wouldn’t let friend wear makeup or high heels because (and she really said exactly this) then friend would be more attractive than her.

      Was this a 2 person company with the boss being the owner? Because otherwise, I can’t see how she could get away with this.

      Also, this is a level of bad judgement and insecurity that makes me wonder how she ever got to a “boss” status.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, well, heels would be disallowed for safety reasons in a lot of research labs. The one my parents worked at required close-toed flat shoes that also covered the top of the foot to be worn at all times, so flat dress shoes were also out. A lot of the time they were also required to wear PPE, and it was simply more practical to avoid makeup altogether. I’ve never seen my mom wear anything other than lipstick, which she last wore at my wedding. It’s very hard to tell either from her graduation or wedding photos if she wore any makeup on those, both were monochrome and possibly retouched.

          I’m not questioning the decision to disallow heels or makeup, but the reason for the ban is unreasonable.

          1. Glitsy Gus*

            I sometimes need to do site visits to labs and I learned the hard way to go ahead and wear my “professional lady flats” in the conference rooms and to keep my “clean room sneakers” in my bag so I can change for the tour.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      If this was the pilot, I’d definitely watch the sitcom. I hope your poor friend was okay working there.

  3. A. Nonymous*

    I once had a humorless, socially clueless peer attempt to institute a no small talk rule. No one was even willing to humor such a silly request, but it was fun to watch her steam about it.

    1. Bast*

      I worked somewhere that got really bad towards the end (as opposed to only normal bad in the beginning) and instituted what was essentially a no talking policy. Even a simple, “good morning” would get you nasty glares from some individuals. A completely work related question would get you a a “be quiet” unless it was something that could be answered with a simple yes or no — you would be told to just email the person, who was often sitting right next to you. Of course, this did NOT apply when certain people wanted to discuss the Superbowl at length, or take a half an hour discussing where to order from for lunch.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        Yes, I worked at a place like that. I was once at the receptionist desk discussing work and one of the bad managers came over and asked, “Are we working, ladies?”
        You talked on your break, outside the building. But then they got to where they didn’t like a group of us going out to lunch together because we were ‘conspiring.’ The place didn’t have a lunchroom. They wanted us to eat at our desks.

        1. Emily Byrd Starr*

          But you were discussing work, so the correct answer to that question is “Yes.” The no lunch room rule is weird.

          1. Middle Aged Lady*

            There were so many things wrong with that place. The same ‘no talking’ big boss spent about an hour a day chatting with her admin with her door open so we could hear all about her kids, vacations and shopping trips. It was Hypocrisy Central.

      2. Arglebarglor*

        I worked as a production editor at a smaller imprint of a big famous publishing company. At some point our little imprint (that was mostly Sci-Fi/fantasy, romance, mystery, self-help books and some biographies and trendy nonfiction) was merged with the namesake imprint of the company. Their production staff were moved to our floor. We were a very nerdy, fun, chatty group who always got their work done but got along well and had a good time doing it. When the other imprint (whose staff took themselves VERY seriously) moved in, they essentially “told” us that we were having too much fun and were too loud, and that the floor should essentially be run like a library with ZERO TALKING AT ALL, and then ONLY in whispers or a very low voice if ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. This did not go over well, since most of the newcomers were given their own offices with doors that they could close (so close it if you don’t want to hear our normal-level “hi, how’s your day, can you take care of this for me” type conversations) AND our little imprint made the popular novels and series etc that basically brought in ALL the money for the whole company and basically funded their “serious LITERATURE.” There was a lot of eye rolling and our manager told their manager to stick it. It was a lovely day.

        1. Former Locus staffer waves in sf solidarity*

          One of those days I wish we could go offlist for a direct message.

          1. Enai*

            Start a discord or something? This has got to be doable without just dropping your emails on the open web.

            Or use mailinator for the first messages and then move on to your private emails?

      3. Adds*

        That reminds me of Old Job. My department head tried to institute a rule that ALL communication outside of our department had to go through her, in the most asinine, and ridiculous version of Telephone you’ve ever encountered, and never thought you would have to as an adult working with “professionals.”

        Example: I handled purchase orders (and AP) and if I had a question about a PO request from Bob in Sales, I was supposed to tell her what my question was and then she’d ask Bob’s manager (or maybe Bob directly, but probably not) and give me the answer when she heard back. We refused to comply because it was insane.

        She also briefly tried to tell the other departments that if their staff had questions for her staff the questions must be brought to her by the department heads. The other department heads told her to GFY in no uncertain terms.

        That place was awful and so full of egos trying to prove that they were The Most Important Person but she was especially unhinged.

        1. AnonForThis*

          My previous manager had become the department’s Information Gateway, and once got visibly upset and called a project manager “uppity” for asking me directly about timelines. It was bizarre and made me so uncomfortable that I kind of laughed before I realized he was serious.

          In a much colder tone I told him not to use that word, that I thought the project manager was brilliant, and that it saved everyone time if she brought her questions on our shared project straight to me. I never fully trusted him to deal with women fairly after that, either.

      1. A. Nonymous*

        No small talk at all, among anyone, near her or otherwise. A completely unreasonable request in a modern office that wasn’t honored by anyone with an ounce of social graces.

        1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

          Years ag0 (before cellphones) I had a co-worker who forbid talking, radio or music during the carpool rides to work. She wanted complete silence. When I met her she had just lost her second carpool group and was looking for another. She as a passenger not a driver.

          1. ITT non tech*

            No music or talking in my own car? Yeah you would be walking. Get your own car if you want complete silence.

            1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

              She didn’t have a car so she was at the mercy of the drivers but she never clued in that maybe she didn’t have any power about noise in someone else’s car.

              1. allathian*

                In the era before cellphones there were no noise canceling headphones either. But yeah, I would’ve recommended a set of those hearing protectors that construction workers use and some lucky noise-sensitive kids get to wear in daycare and kindergarten, or shank’s pony.

                I mean if she doesn’t want to do small talk, grunts or one-word responses will get the driver to stop if they’re the only other person in the car, unless they’re the sort that can keep a one-sided conversation going for as long as the journey takes, but the decision to switch on the radio or listen to other music is up to the driver, at least as long as the volume isn’t high enough that you leave the car with temporary tinnitus.

                She seems to have trouble telling the difference between a carpool and a cab.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Wow, no… music or not is entirely at the discretion of the driver. You know…the person who owns the car and is doing all the work and is keeping you safe at highway speeds!?

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I mean, I could see someone requesting that the volume be turned down if it’s BLASTING or something, but still, if one is dependent on others for rides? Beggars can’t be choosers.

          3. Random Dice*

            DC has a carpool system, “slugs”, and the rules specifically say that the driver chooses all – temperature, media, chitchat vs silence.

        2. Leenie*

          Honestly, I wouldn’t consider it a rule if she just wanted to refrain from small talk herself. I think that’s a personal boundary, unpleasant or not. It seemed pretty clear to me when you called it a rule that it was an office-wide attempted rule. And that’s just not something that an individual can dictate based off of their personal preference. I’m glad you all ignored it.

    2. JF*

      I worked under a boss (not technically my boss – I was a ‘float’ in the location – but ended up stuck there for a long time because they mysteriously couldn’t keep people on staff…) who instituted that policy once. Even when there were no customers present, she wanted us to sit silent and stone-faced unless we had something work-related to say.

      Other policies she tried out included rolling out her own personal script for how we should answer the phone (this was an international company. She came up with something for just her own location.) Which was so long that customers would hang up about partway through, presumably under the assumption that they must have reached a recording because surely no human would waste a solid minute of their time with this extended nonsense greeting.

      And the time she tried to enforce her personal policy where there must be two people behind the counter at all times. There was a counter staff of three people. So during lunches, or if someone had to step away to help a customer, we couldn’t step away to use the restroom or anything until the third person came back.

      This policy backfired on her one day when only two of us were behind the counter and nutso manager tried to make herself a cup of mac n cheese or something in the microwave. She forgot to add water. The microwave started to smoke. The smoke alarm went off. We were just sitting there, with a full view into the kitchen, watching her run around like a chicken with her head cut off. We couldn’t help her, because then someone would be alone behind the counter!

      I want to note that, after I moved on to another position at a different company, I heard she had been fired. Like hardcore fired, like HR showed up at the location with security to walk her out fired. I am not surprised. Every time I’ve run into a boss who acts like this much of a tyrant, it’s always turned out that they were stealing from the company. I strongly suspected that she was when I was there, as well, but I wasn’t able to get any evidence before I left. (I wasn’t trying too hard. Everyone above her knew she was nuts and they were just letting her run her little show, and I ended up stuck there with her because her staff kept quitting. I wasn’t feeling super inclined towards doing a lot of sleuthing. I just did what was required of me as far as oversight and reporting – like normal daily security checklist stuff – and even that she often got weird about, which was why I was so sure she was stealing.)

    3. JustaTech*

      I once had a coworker insist that we could only have “”intellectual” conversations at work (while we were trapped in the clean room for hours on end waiting for something to warm up, cool down, fill or empty).
      I guess he was mad that our other coworker and I had been talking about the logistics for her wedding.
      I, being a very young smartass, decided to offer up Russian literature as our next conversation topic, since that would be “intellectual” (and I knew just enough to hold my own for a few minutes).

    4. I am Emily's failing memory*

      Ahh, remember the “No Jokes Allowed, At All, Ever, In Any Context” workplace?

  4. Carlie*

    I had a part-time job during high school in a supermarket, where many students also worked in the evenings and weekends. Students weren’t allowed to do homework in the staff canteen (the only place staff members had available to sit in), either before our shifts started or during breaks, as it “wasn’t restful” for the full-time staff to witness.

    1. Chocoholic*

      I had a job in college where I was not allowed to do homework on my breaks. I never got a good reason as to why. I said it was my time and I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. They said I wasn’t allowed to do homework. Ridiculous. I didn’t stay there too long.

      1. By the Book*

        I worked at a phone bank in college. We were supposed to let the phone ring 10 times before hanging up; that was about a minute each time to study my A&P vocabulary discreetly tucked inside a drawer or from an open textbook on the floor under the desk.

    2. Strict Extension*

      I was an occasional drop-in staffer to an engaged-to-wait-style desk job for a while, and the policy there was that students could do homework, down to spreading out multiple textbooks and writing papers on the work computer, because it was good and inspiring for the patrons to see them working so hard, but if you were not in school, you could not do anything involving personal items, like reading a book, because you looked distracted. You could, however, use the organization’s computer to scroll Facebook all night, as long as you weren’t ignoring work that came up because patrons couldn’t see the screen.

    3. Elle*

      Because usually the break room at a supermarket would be a very restful place (insert massive eye roll here)

      1. Broken Lawn Chair*

        Mine sure isn’t. It’s too small, and at any given time, there’s at least one and usually two or three of the following going on at the same time:
        – coworkers having annoying conversations
        – something obnoxious on the TV
        – someone having a personal call on their phone
        – someone watching something noisy on their phone

    4. MountainAir*

      Why are supermarkets like this with weird employee policies? I also worked part time at a supermarket during my first college summer, and their weird rule was that if you didn’t have customers you had to stand at the end cap by the register and weren’t allowed to talk to any of the other cashiers….regardless of if any customers were in the store. So at dead times of day 2-4 were all supposed to be standing like…8 feet apart and not talking.

      1. ZugTheMegasaurus*

        I worked at a Lowe’s like 15 years ago and they had the same policy. I had so many customers ask about it; it was embarrassing.

        1. MountainAir*

          Because this would have been in the same timeframe (15ish years ago) I’m now wondering if this was some concept propagated at a conference a whole bunch of retail managers attended. Because it truly makes no sense!

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I would guess it started as “always have an employee in sightline, ready to help.” It sounds good, but of course you end up with your staff standing around like extras in a zombie movie instead of doing things like stocking.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        But not restocking, or cleaning, or anything else that they theoretically were paying you to do??

        1. MountainAir*

          Nope! And honestly, cashiers mostly weren’t supposed to be doing those things. (The main thing they would have us do is go down aisles and face products outward, otherwise other staff handled those other tasks. Or also, take pop quizzes about where items were located in store (by aisle number) so that we could direct customers.) For a grocery store that always had a few lengthy periods during the day where it was pretty dead, the time and employee management practices were suboptimal!

      3. Bleep Blorp*

        We had that at the grocery store I worked at, too. We were told we should be out “fishing” for customers. As if we needed to tell them to come to an open register to check out because they couldn’t figure it out otherwise. I picked up a magazine to glance through once while I was standing there and was told I wasn’t allowed to do that. Just to stand there and say hi to customers until one was ready to come through my line.

        1. MountainAir*

          It is so so wild. The “fishing for customers” thing is hilarious, because I think that was the idea for us too, but it’s not as if grocery stores really rely on employees giving a hard sell/convincing someone to check out in order to close the deal? Like…if someone is pushing a cart around, they are gonna come to you eventually.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            That sounds less like fishing and more like shooting fish in a barrel.

            Did they really think there were lots of customers who a) traveled to the grocery store; b) entered the store; c) started placing items in a cart; d) couldn’t find a way to pay for the items; and f) abandoned items when they left the store? If I’ve *ever done* that in my life, it was only because I realized I’d forgotten my wallet and had no way to pay.

            1. Chirpy*

              To be fair, I work in (non-grocery) retail, and people will absolutely abandon carts they spent an hour filling because there were 2 people ahead of them at checkout and they couldn’t *possibly* wait 5 more minutes.

        2. Glitsy gus*

          that’s one of those weird things where the seed of the idea makes sense- step forward and make sure customers aren’t all lines up atone check stand and if you see people bunching up wave and let them know you’re free to help. Because Retal, though, it morphs into “stand here like a breathing mannequin, don’t talk or move, and freak people out.”

    5. WeirdChemist*

      I had a retail job in college where I worked in the back away from customers, and mostly sat in front of a computer. I wasn’t allowed to do homework out of a physical textbook, but could do literally anything I wanted on the computer, including homework. So I got in the habit of finding pdfs of textbooks and working from there. The computer screens were very visible to management as they walked by (not customers). We would be openly on Facebook/Reddit without issue, but the second a textbook (or newspaper, or regular book) came out we all got in trouble. I think my manager was just super tech illiterate (he once asked me how much an e-mail cost to send)

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Okay, they can stare at their phones like normal people! Were the students performing elaborate, Frankenstein-level experiments of a dark and unholy nature, the profane secrets of which would destroy all who gazed upon them, or something?

  5. dietcoke*

    My last job (small museum) would not let us work in our offices for a period of about 8 months. One person (literally one person) commented on our FB page that the public floor did not have enough staff to assist people. The director flipped out and declared that no one was allowed to work in their office until we had 100% positive feedback. We had to take our laptops out and find a place to sit. I left well before the ban lifted, but one of my coworkers indicated that another person had left a 3-star review shortly after office work was reinstated, and they all had to go back to working on the public floor.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      That makes sense. My favorite part of going to the library is sharing a table with other people. Especially people who are working. That must have been a new level of awkward for everyone. I’d feel like I was interrupting your work if I had to sit near you.
      There is no way I would feel like I could interrupt you if you had taken a spot with your laptop. You must be there to get work done. So I will find someone else.
      Oh, you are all working sitting with laptops. Guess I’ll help myself.
      I wish I’d been at your library. This is my first thought and I would have left it in my review.

      1. dietcoke*

        Exactly! It didn’t even make sense as a solution. Not to mention, sensitive work/emails/phone calls. We were allowed to use a private room for sensitive phone calls ONLY if necessary, but even having private emails or data (like, committee decisions that were not yet public) on my laptop screen in an open, public area… ridiculous.

    2. Devo Forevo*

      When I worked at a small museum about a decade ago, management’s MO was that any incident had to have a new rule made. At one point we were told that while in the galleries we had to stand two arm lengths apart, and measure that every time another employee came in the room.

      1. Leenie*

        Huh. I’m really short, with proportional limbs. Would it be calculated on my arm’s length, or yours? Or one of each?

      2. kendall^2*

        At one point I volunteered at a makerspace where the manager’s rule 0 was “don’t do things that will make us make more rules.” Which turned out to be quite useful for quite a long time.

        1. JustaTech*

          That sounds a lot like my high school and college’s unofficial but very spoken rule 0: don’t be a jackass.
          Rule 1 in high school: no roller skating in the building (which made sense, it was very small and all stairs, but oddly specific).
          Rule 4 in college: no making napalm, ever.

          1. Protoa*

            rule four for college is more reasonable than you might think, never trust chem students, they will make brownie napalm

            1. Enai*

              Umm. Is there a recipe or is it just what you get when you unwisely use the oven in the lab for your actual food baking?

              1. BeeKay*

                I’m not sure how true this is, but I heard a story in college that a chem professor walked into the lab to find a student heating a beaker full of almost a liter of liquid over a Bunsen burner (open flame). “What’s in the beaker?” asked the prof. “Oh, it’s just nitroglycerin.” was the reply.

                They had to call the bomb squad.

              2. Protoa*

                leave brownie in oven until batter molten hot, remove, sticky as all heck and hot as it too

        2. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

          This is…. Actually incredibly useful and I’m using it in my classroom next year!

        3. MigraineMonth*

          Safety rules are written in blood… or the fifth shot of cheap vodka. The quality/obviousness of those rules varies accordingly.

      3. Hydrangea MacDuff*

        I used to work for a company that printed school handbooks and planners. We skimmed over hundreds of school handbooks prepping them for print. You could always tell the schools where every incident creates a rule rather. I remember one very convoluted weapons policy that specified in great detail and with multiple examples that anything that’s used as a weapon is considered a weapon even if the object wasn’t created to be a weapon, like a pencil or a baseball bat. It was bananas

        1. Laser99*

          I can just imagine. “Well it doesn’t SAY I can’t make napalm! Show me where it says I can’t make napalm!!!”

      4. Gumby*

        Finally! A professional use for all of my drill team experience in high school! (I sincerely hope you measured the arm lengths with a ‘clap-clap-T’ move complete with people on the end putting their outer arms – the ones with no one o the other side – behind their backs.)

    3. Accidental Itinerant Teacher*

      This reminded me of my ridiculous museum policy!
      I worked at a small museum giving tours of historic homes. We had a guest complain that the guide had answered another guest’s question about whether the house was haunted.
      So we were forbidden from ever mentioning ghosts- even when directly asked about it by guests.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We at the (museum acronym) can neither confirm nor deny the presence of ghosts in the building.

        But gee think if the next complaint is that you DIDN’T answer a question. You may have generated perpetual motion. Or at least protected earth against AI overlords.

        1. Chirpy*

          I can confirm that people will be really disappointed if you tell them there are no ghosts in the historic house.

          I never even had a mildly creepy experience in there, even at night. Sure, the original owners did die in there, but I’m guessing if there were ghosts, seeing their house well-kept just as they left it would keep them happy? There weren’t even any critters getting in to make weird noises?

    4. TopBanana*

      This reminds me of when I worked at a hair salon long ago.

      The owner’s chair was right next to the reception desk (likely the root of the issue). If I was performing other duties when the phone rang or a client came in (like sweeping, dusting product shelves, washing towels, etc) I was chastised for not being instantly available. When I intentionally started to finish my other work more quickly and sat at the desk waiting for clients, I was told it was a bad look for the salon that I wasn’t more busy.

      For the record, I always went above and beyond in my work, and never had a client complaint lodged against me.

    5. Mim*

      I would have been tempted to leave a negative review of the museum because there weren’t enough places to sit due to all the people working on laptops in exhibit areas.

    6. Raida*

      One of my mates’ workplaces attempted something similar.
      They backed down immediately upon realising they’d be clearly instructing staff “to work without the necessary tools to perform their job safely” IE the desk, monitor, keyboard, chair, etc are all set up to *not* create RSI or strain.

      Their only option was to install pods for staff to work at, and that would cost money so…

    7. Glitsy gus*

      pay a friend to leave a review saying, “it’s so awkward, all of the employees are working on laptops on the floor. One would.think they would have an office for them to use.”

  6. Football fan*

    A supervisor once told us that we couldn’t mention or discuss the Super Bowl at work because to do so was akin to supporting domestic violence. (Around this time, there was a prevalent myth going around that more incidents of domestic violence occurred on Super Bowl Sunday.)

    1. ChurchOfDietCoke*

      Is that a myth? Or is it fact?

      Certainly here, the incidence of domestic violence increases significantly when England plays in the World or European Cup.

      Research by the University of Lancaster shows violent domestic abuse incidents increase by 38% when England loses football matches. Rates are also 26% higher when the team wins or draws.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        It’s one of those situations where there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence, but no statistical correlation has been shown.

            1. Beany*

              Juicebox Hero responded to CODC’s comment about a statistical correlation for soccer in the UK with a comment that “no statistical correlation has been shown” (no qualifier).

              Now perhaps JH meant that no statistical correlation has been shown *for American Football*, but the placement of their reply indicates otherwise to me.

        1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

          Based on what I’ve seen on social media, there are a lot of men who destroy their TV when their team loses the Super Bowl so maybe men shouldn’t be allowed to have TVs.

          1. Zephy*

            Wasn’t there an ad for some streaming service during last year’s Super Bowl that made it look like the cable went out for a second (with the upshot being “with our service THIS won’t happen to YOU!”)? I remember hearing something about a spike in DV calls at halftime or something but I don’t recall all the details, that may have been someone’s idea of a joke or something.

      2. Czhorat*

        There was a very alarming statistic about DV incidents during the Superbowl which was apparently stated in a TV interview without any data to support it and has been debunked.

        That said, there are also various real connections between sporting events – especially involving upset losses – and domestic violence.

        So I suspect that it’s a mixture of true and false. My own uneducated observation is that people tend to drink more heavily than usual on Superbowl Sunday, but are also more likely to be in semi-public at a Superbowl party or gathering. One of these would make violence seem more likely, the other less.

      3. Stuff*

        Anecdotally, I can tell you that when my city lost a hockey game when I was a kid, I had to walk on eggshells around my stepfather if I wanted to avoid his temper, and I was particularly afraid of him when there was a game on.

        1. Lexie*

          A CPS worker told me they would see an increase in calls to the child abuse hot line when the local schools distributed report cards.

      4. Student*

        I lived for a couple years in a US city that threw an annual riot when certain local sports teams lost. It was ridiculous. It was also very predictable. I remember barring my door, having to reroute around riot activities while driving, and having to deal with the mess the rioters left behind everywhere. It was truly abhorrent.

        The one year that people didn’t riot on their own for whatever reason, the police (caught on many cameras) instigated a riot on purpose.

        After that debacle, the city finally stopped issuing permits for the annual event that always precipitated the riot. Yes, the city had been issuing permits for what was essentially a pre-planned sports riot.

        1. Boof*

          I mean… waht? Why did the police riot? Was this their personal purge event or something?
          (and that’s not even asking the other really logical question of why this went on for more than, oh, say, 1-2 riots in the first place)

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I’m not sure why they did in this particular case, but police riots have a long and colorful history in the US. The violence by police at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the 1992 “Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Riot” in NYC come to mind. (The latter was in protest of additional accountability measures.)

            As for why they had annual riots: TRADITION! It may be foolish, it may be awful, but we’ve done it before so we’ll do it again.

    2. thinkirememberthisstudy*

      My recollection is that _reporting_ of domestic violence, or calls to shelters, tends to go up during major sporting events, because it’s a time when many perpetrators are distracted and the victims can get away safely to ask for help. The sporting events themselves are not encouraging violence.

      1. Not Alison*

        You missed the point. It is not the sporting event itself that causes domestic violence – it is people getting extremely angry that the team they support (or bet on) has lost. If their team wins, they see themselves as a winner. If their team loses, they see themselves as a loser and the domestic violence occurs to make themselves feel like less of a loser or to get their anger out at losing.

    3. Ama*

      A lot of people are missing the point here — the point isn’t whether or not the fact is true, the point is that this supervisor is acting like the “don’t be excited for snow because it causes issues for some people” manager from a few days ago and trying to decree that just because some bad things might happen in conjunction with a larger event no one is allowed to be excited about the event. Which is ridiculous.

    4. Gumby*

      That is not where I thought the supervisor was going there. From the first sentence, I assumed it was one of the cases where a player had been benched because of a DV incident but had been allowed back after a short suspension.

      1. Enai*

        Yes I expected that too. It would’ve made a roundabout kind of minimal sense (celebrities often get away with even very public spousal abuse, the sportsball player is only a celebrity because he plays in the superb owl. Not watching the superb owl would therefore lessen his celebrity status and diminish his cover from The Law. If enough people won’t watch Mr. Wifebeater, maybe his team will fire him). But “many men beat their wives when their favorite team loses” is not even slightly influenced by how many other people saw the game.

    5. This Daydreamer*

      Hi. I work at a domestic violence shelter. Your supervisor is full of bat guano.

  7. L-squared*

    I worked at a company a while back who had weird reimbursement policies. They were also super cheap, so they’d try to “incentivize” you to save them money. So for example, if you were traveling for work, and you split an uber to/from the airport you got some kind of incentive. I want to say it was $10. Nothing major, but it was fine if you were going the same place anyway, when I probably would have split unless I really didn’t like the person.

    Well, I learned that it was ONLY for airport travel, nothing else. I learned this because me and a coworker (we live in a major city, so its not uncommon to not have cars, and we didn’t) lived fairly close to each other, but had to go to an onsite meeting on the other side of town. We ubered there separately, but split one coming back. So I put my incentive on my expense report, and was given it. Well a week later, I was pulled into a meeting where they said they were taking it back, because it was only meant for airport travel. So I basically said “so instead of giving me $10, you would rather had both of expense separate $50 ubers”. And they basically said “well that would be your choice”. I told them how ridiculous that was, but that it was more ridiculous that you wanted to claw back the money you gave me and not just tell me that I couldn’t do it going forward.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I am so irate I am sputtering with my keyboard. “It’s your choice” to what, screw over the company? Well, right back atcha, fellas.

    2. anonymous anteater*

      oh travel reimbursement rules can be so wonky! Domestic trips here are pretty straightforward, but when you need to go abroad, the paperwork ramps up immensely. If you attempt to be conscious of spending our (public) dollars, and put any form of public transit in your itinerary, they need to know which subway you will take and exactly when it will arrive. Doesn’t matter that you tell them, this is a big city, the train goes every 10 minutes, I will take whichever one comes.
      If you decide to spring for a rental car or taxi for multiple times the cost, no questions asked.

      1. SemiAnon*

        Oddly enough, ours are more complex for domestic travel. For international, we are expected to take public transit when feasible, and just claim the amount, take taxis/Ubers when needed and provide receipts, and list rental car costs on the travel approval form.

        Domestic travel comes with rules like you can only take high speed rail if it saves you a night in a hotel (typically HSR takes 1-1.5 hours compared to about 3-6 on regular train), and for a local talk you can accept an honorarium or claim expenses, but not both.

    3. Wilbur*

      My old company offered $100 every year for safety shoes (steel toes). It’s not quite enough to cover a decent pair. I work in a lab, so it’s not very hard on shoes. I asked if I could have the full cost of my shoes reimbursed ($125), since I was only going to get a new pair every other year. Nope, couldn’t make that happen, so I just bought a new pair every year.

      Just bought a flight for work. They use Concur for booking flights, and anything that’s $1 more than the least cost logical flight gets flagged. I’m flying overseas, it decided the least cost logical flight was a 40 hr option with 3 layovers. The options that only take 20 hours and cost $20 more are automatically flagged to be reviewed by a VP. Do they want me to spend an entire extra day in an airplane/airport?

      1. PaulaMomOfTwo*

        Tip: Change your window of departure, and you can optimize a good flight without getting flagged.

      2. Martin Blackwood*

        Makes me thankful for my company’s policy for steel toes ($80 a year or $170 every two years) Theoretically I can get the discount At The Partnered Store but the guy was totally unable to find me on the supplied list. I talked to my manager about it and she found me on it in two seconds. So I had to wait for another paycheque for that 170 bucks.

      3. Lizzianna*

        We use Concur and I often need to fly to another part of the state. I’m on the West Coast. There are 2 direct flights a day, it’s a 60-90 min flight, depending on if you have a tail wind or not. Concur will often route me through the Rocky Mountains for this trip, and flag the direct flight as not meeting travel policies because it’s $20-$30 more. Not only does the itinerary make zero sense, the fact that I’m often flying back in the evening means my risk of getting stuck in Denver overnight if there are any delays or weather at all goes up significantly.

    4. Jamoche*

      I was on a joint project between two separate companies in Silicon Valley, and I spent all my time at the company I didn’t work for. We all went to Australia for a week-long business related event. The other company’s travel rule was that you could upgrade to business class based on the length of the flight, which of course Australia qualified for. So I ordered a business class ticket too, sitting with my team, well in advance of the flight.

      Turned out my company’s rule only kicked in after a certain number of flights of any length, which benefitted the sales team that made frequent short trips, but meant I was required to cancel my business class ticket and get one in the back of the plane. Of course by the time they realized this, the economy tickets were as expensive as the one I’d just cancelled.

      My personal rule after that experience is never to cross an ocean in economy class.

    5. Lizzianna*

      Travel reimbursement is so weird.

      When we moved across the country, my agency said they’d cover lodging for me for the drive. I had my husband and cats with us, so we picked inexpensive motels that allowed pets. Unfortunately, some of those motels charged an extra fee to have 2 adults in the room, and that was reflected on the itemized receipt.

      So even though we were well below the overall approved per diem, they wouldn’t reimburse the $10 fee for my husband. But had we stayed in lodging $40 more that doesn’t charge for an extra adult, there would have been no questioned asked.

      (Also, having another adult with me allowed us to get there faster. We’re only supposed to drive a certain number of hours a day, if we have a second driver, we can go 4 or 6 more hours. They would have ended up paying for at least one more night of lodging if I’d been the only driver and stuck to that rule strictly).

  8. It was me*

    Had a manager who would publicly scold employees who referred to her as “my manager “ or “my supervisor”. She said it was extremely disrespectful for someone to describe her as “my manager” because the possessive language implied the employee somehow owned her. We all walked on eggshells around her for years.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      What did you call her, then? Refer to her by name every time? She who doth manageth? The top banana(pants)? Pazuzu?

    2. Medium Sized Manager*

      I had a manager who would do the opposite: everybody was “colleague” because referencing that somebody reported to you was gauche. Still unlearning a lot of the weird things he taught me.

      1. WavyGravy*

        Yes, same thing happened to me – I was not allowed to call my boss, my boss because “that would sound like he was in charge of me, but we’re friends.” We were not friends. He was, in fact, very much in charge of my work.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Hmm, I come from a background that de-emphasizes hierarchy, so I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it’s silly to pretend that my manager isn’t my manager; we’re not friends, we’re not coworkers, they manage my work and I do the work they assign me.

            On the other hand, if I had to call my manager by a special title/honorific (Doctor, Your Honor, etc) or constantly defer to them, I think that would negatively impact our ability to work together. A lot of lives are lost every year because highly-respected people such as surgeons and airplane pilots mess up and no one challenges them.

            1. Medium Sized Manager*

              Absolutely! Managers should be careful in using discretion and not abusing it, but this would even occur when I asked how to write things for HR to review so I could place an employee on a PIP.

      2. noncommittal pseudonym*

        I see we have the same former boss. She would insist upon calling everyone a colleague, but her concern about avoiding hierarchies did not extend to treating everyone collegially.

        1. whingedrinking*

          I was reading some stuff about the HBO series Chernobyl and how the writers struggled with the way the characters would address each other, because Russian and Ukrainian naming conventions are often confusing to English speakers. Consultants said well, if that was too much trouble, it *was* the USSR – people in a professional context would absolutely be referring to each other as “comrade” all over the place. The showrunners said that was even worse for a serious drama, since Americans were used to thinking of that as a hilarious joke and not something people actually did.

    3. Keyboard Cowboy*

      I had an intern once who was similarly very offended that a project lead referred to “my developers”. I had to talk her down from that one. It’s the same – I’m not sure what you’re supposed to call them instead to differentiate them from the ones you don’t work with!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Obviously the project lead missed the memo on the un-offensive, non-possessive phrase “the developers who are working on the project I am leading.” (/joke)

      2. Smurfette*

        i had a similar response from a colleague when I referred to “my team”. I was asked (aggressively) whether the team reported to me. I explained that they were “the team I worked with” as opposed to “the team(s) I didn’t work with”. FFS.

        1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

          Someone in my organization but nowhere near my part of it sends (numerous and excessive) emails out to hundreds of people, starting the body with “Team”.

          It just rubs me the wrong way, I’m not on any Team of hers, but I suppose this could be BEC.

        2. AnonORama*

          I admit I get annoyed when a former coworker introduces me to people by saying I was “her” grants manager when we worked at the same org. We were 100% on the same level, reporting to the same boss. But, that’s really just a cherry on the top of her condescension sundae, so I’m probably reacting more to her as a whole.

          1. Impending Heat Dome*

            Hmm…well, I definitely refer to the people on my team as “my project manager” or “my writer” even though we’re all peers, but tone counts for a lot. It would definitely bug me if someone was using that wording to insinuate that they had authority over me.

      3. Anonymous Member of Mike's Team*

        I am not an intern but I actually find this construct mildly offensive in some contexts. Though mostly when it is used in the third person, e.g. a VP referring to a team as “‘s Team” because VP isn’t bothering to learn the existing name of the team so he is just using the name of the only person he interacts with and has bothered to learn the name of.

        1. Anonymous Member of Mike's Team*

          “‘s Team” was supposed to be “Mike’s Team” but it got eaten because I tried to use symbols

          1. Nomic*

            And now in the company directory the team is referred to as “S Team” because you messed up that one email six years ago and no one wanted to correct the VP.

            1. Anonymous Tech Writer*

              So help me the next time we spin off a new scrum team and have to generate a name, I’m going to suggest this.

      4. amoeba*

        Hmmm, at least I find that one a bit weirder than “my boss” – probably because “boss” is a term that actually relates to a relationship between people, so yes, you’re not just “a boss”, you actually need to be “somebody’s boss” for it to make sense grammatically. While “developers”… isn’t (they’re not developing you) and yeah, it does feel a bit more possessive to me because of that! Not enough to complain about, but definitely different from “my manager”.

      1. Chick-n-Boots*

        Ha! You get a cookie. Or perhaps a s’more (with Stay Puft marshmallows, of course) would be more appropriate.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I deal with a version of this when talking about the families who use our services. Some of our leadership doesn’t like “your” in reference to a child. (Tbf, it can be inaccurate sometimes, as the caregivers might not be parents.) We end up with some very awkward phrasing.

        1. linger*

          And yet the child would be “their responsibility”.
          (PSA: the English ‘genitive’/’possessive’ is extremely poorly named. It covers (and has for centuries covered) a wide range of relationships of association, not merely literal possession. See for example Christine Johansson (1995) The Relativizers Whose and Of Which in Present-Day English for a very long list of the actual functions of whose, with examples. Thank you and goodnight.)

          1. Susan Calvin*

            Sorry, you have activated my trap card – badly, or at least confusing-to-the-layperson named linguistic concepts are the bane of my existence.
            To add my (least) favorite example; Gender – already a hotbed of Bad Takes, additionally complicated by the fact that English only has the tiniest vestiges of it left, and you have me holding onto my patience with both hands explaining the difference between gender identity and noun classes.

            (not exactly a citation for the above, but if we’re including lit recs, “Women, fire and dangerous things” by George Lakoff is a relevant classic)

      2. Laura*

        I knew someone who didn’t like saying “my boyfriend” because she thought it sounded possessive. I was like, ummm, sure.

      3. whingedrinking*

        I’ve actually encountered someone who tried to argue that if Alice moves in with Bob, and Bob already owns a bed, Alice has no claim to call it “her” bed or even “their” bed, even if she sleeps in it every night for the rest of her life. It’s Bob’s bed forever and ever, amen.
        (And yes, there was absolutely some sexist/AFAB-phobic motivated reasoning going on related to getting period blood on linens.)

    4. Ariaflame*

      Shame it wasn’t somewhere Gaelic speaking, you could refer to her as “a’ mhanaidsear agam” (the manager at me) since Scottish Gaelic at least has different possessives for things that are important to you, as opposed to things temporarily with you or at you. Oddly clothes appear to be things that are considered important, as are country, language and children. Wife is, but husbands apparently are considered temporary (an duine agam instead of mo dhuine).

      But yes it’s silly because in English we use the possessive pronoun for relational things without necessarily implying ownership. Did she at least refrain from talking about the employees as her employees or her staff?

      1. Cyndi*

        I’m a fairly new Gaelic learner and I had NO idea what the distinction was between these constructions, so this has actually been very helpful! Tapadh leibh.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I’m now trying to think how it’s said in Irish, given the similarities between the two languages.

        And I find it amusing that wives are forever but husbands temporary.

        1. Quill*

          I am fascinated to know if that’s a “these words sound better together in this specific instance” thing or a fossilized meme still present in the language.

        2. ferrina*

          I’m really interested in what led to the wives being forever but husbands being temporary. Did women have longer lifespans and go through more husbands? Was it to encourage men to stay with their wives and kids, whereas if the man left the woman was encouraged to remarry? I need a historic anthropologist!

      3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I assume that clothes being important is a relic of a time when clothes were much more valuable, but now I’m curious and would love to see an analysis of this.

      4. kendall^2*

        About the clothing, I’d guess that it’s an old enough construction that for most people, clothing was among the most expensive things to own, especially if not upper class. It takes a lot of work to shear sheep, card, spin, weave/knit wool, then cut and sew, etc., and linen/flax are complicated, too.

        1. Enai*

          I recently found a paper about the recreation of a woolen tunic from around 800 AD that had been found frozen in Norway. They stopped hand spinning right quick (much, much too time consuming), but did all the other steps the same way they would’ve been done back then. If everyone had gotten minimum wage, the garment would’ve cost something in the low-middle five figures. Time for hand spinning was extrapolated, of course. The ballpark figure is extremely impressive.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I’m reading Emily Wilson’s translations of The Odessey and The Iliad right now, and once you start thinking about the sheer amount of labor involved in textiles of any kind, you can see why the emphasis on spinning and weaving for any female character is so stressed; it was a universally understood shorthand for “valuable asset.” Even Helen’s worth was extrapolated from her skill with wool as much as for her beauty.

    5. anytime anywhere*

      At my current employer, we’re not allowed to talk about “my” anything. It’s not “my team” because they don’t work for ME, they work for the organization. It’s not “my project” because it belongs to the organization, not me personally. (Insert eye rolls.)

      1. Rex Libris*

        I had a former supervisor who went off on this every time someone described an achievement or project as “theirs”. I later found out it was because they wanted to take personal credit for everything the team did with their own supervisor, and didn’t want anything to contradict that.

      2. hereforthecomments*

        At a former workplace, I was told that thinking of our customers/clients as “people” was wrong. The organization’s policy was to think of them as paying customers (they didn’t pay, it was grant-funded, not that it mattered to me). Believe it or not, I always do better work thinking of the people I interact with as “people!”

        1. But what to call me?*

          Leadership in the (public) school district I used to work for liked to call parents and students our “customers” as if that would motivate us to provide better service – as opposed to, you know, the desire to educate young minds and start kids off on a path to a better life that motivated most of us to get into that field and put up with everything we put up with in the first place.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Have you read Jane Smiley’s novel Moo? It’s got a character in it that does exactly this; he’s the hotshot economics professor at the big midwestern college the story takes place in.

          2. AnonForThis*

            I work in Medicare-funded services, but instead of “patient” we refer to the people we serve as “clients” or “customers”. Okay, whatever, we can use retail terms. Except every couple of years someone tries to get us to call the people we serve “consumers”, like they’re using up the services, which just seems like the worst possible take on that relationship.

        2. Zweisatz*

          A hospital in our city started using this company line as well and I have to concur. I sure feel it’s more beneficial to think of “patients” or “people” as opposed to “customers” :/

          (To be clear I’m not in the US)

          1. ThatOtherClare*

            Is that the reason my local the hospital nearest to me has started doing this? I just assumed the highest levels of management had decided to fully dehumanise the patients to reduce the guilt for all the poor treatment outcomes due to cost cutting and understaffing. Nobody feels compassionate towards customers. They’re at best neutral and often annoying.

            (For all the people with no humour who seem to be roving the comment sections lately, those last two sentences were intentional hyperbole for humour and impact, and I am fully aware that plenty of medical staff and salespeople feel very kindly towards their patients/customers.)

            1. Zweisatz*

              It seems it’s one of these trends that go through the business world and everybody has to hop on with no rhyme or reason – especially as I believe this hospital is mostly publicly funded.

            2. Chirpy*

              Meanwhile, in retail, corporate wants us to call customers our “neighbors” instead….

              …I mean, could be true, but neighbors and customers are very different things…

        3. JustaTech*

          When I volunteered at a soup kitchen/meal delivery place I liked that we referred to the people who got our food as our “clients” – it seemed somehow fancy and nicer than “patients” (since while these people all had a chronic medical condition we weren’t medical providers).
          Probably a hold over from all of those years of listening to my dad talk about his consulting clients.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        I am ON the team, therefore it *is* my team, as opposed to like the accounting and communications teams that I’m very much not a part of. Just like when I take an Uber to work, my description of what “my Uber driver” said does not imply that I somehow own Uber, the driver, or the car. So silly!!

      4. Worldwalker*

        So you can’t say “my family” because you don’t own them? Uncle Fred isn’t “my uncle”? And you can’t do something “after my break”?

        Is it at least your banana they made those pants out of?

        Note: the English “my” has numerous meanings, and only one of those indicates possession.

    6. ABC*

      Oh wow, this has come up in the comments section here! Although I think it’s usually the other way around: commenters who are deeply opposed to their managers’ use of “my direct report” or “my staff” because of the implication of ownership.

      Definitely odd.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        In Ireland, there is often annoyance at teachers (especially primary school teachers who work with the same class all day) referring to special needs assistants as “my SNA,” meaning the one who works with a student or students in my class, but there is some logic to that as it implies the SNA is working for the teacher rather than being a colleague.

        1. Nightengale*

          I try to be mindful of this in my office (no problem saying my office) as a doctor talking about nursing staff. I try not to say “my nurse” because I do feel that implies more of a hierarchy than coworking relationship, even though yes the physician gives orders that nurses follow. I will say “our nurse in [specialty name]” or “the nurse for our practice.”

          1. amoeba*

            I feel like there’s a difference. Like, “manager”, “coworker”, “colleague” are all words that describe relationships between people – you can’t just be a “colleague”, you’re always *somebody’s* colleague! “My nurse” does read differently to me, especially not coming from the patient (where it again signifies a relationship, I guess?), but from their boss/somebody higher in the hierarchy…

      2. StarTrek Nutcase*

        I find this so ridiculous and people who do this have other deep-seated issues. I no more “own” my manager than I own my neighbor or I own my country. People who pretend “my” only implies ownership are deliberately ignoring “my” can imply association. But I recognize people in my world can be petty as f*ck.

      3. StarTrek Nutcase*

        Weird because those people are to ignorant or have other deep-seated issues that make them believe “my” only indicates possession and not also can imply association with. But many people in my world are petty AF.

    7. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      whoa….wait, the manager thought being called the manager implied that her position was lesser? That is some gold medal worthy mental gymnastics.

    8. Cat Tree*

      What about when I talk about “my child”, “my brother”, or “my city/state/country”? Wow that is really ridiculous.

      1. ecnaseener*

        “The offspring,” “that guy who was born of the same parents as me,” “the city which I call home, just not MY home don’t be absurd…”

      2. Seashell*

        I have seen people nitpick about someone saying, “my child” instead of “our child” in reference to their spouse/partner. Both are correct, really.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          I knew a man who said things like “my wife is picking up my child.” His wife was the mother of the child in question. It was never “our child” and he rarely used the kid’s name. It was very odd and gave me serious controlling/possessive vibes.

          If someone says “I’m picking up my kid” that’s entirely different. Referencing the child’s other parent and still using “my” was disturbing.

          1. Dicey Tillerman*

            My dad and stepmom have been married 22 years and I can count on one hand the number of times she has referred to me as “our daughter.” (Three, for those playing along at home.)

    9. AnonInCanada*

      Wow, that’s a new level of ridiculous. So how did you have to refer to her? “Queen Banana of Bananapants Inc.?”

    10. Miss Muffett*

      There was a letter here on AAM about that once too, and Alison was like, this is a completely normal construct in English. No one thinks you actually own the person/team/whatever! What a strange hill to die on (of course I’m sure she’d argue she isn’t ACTUALLY dying and it’s Nebraska and there are no actual hills…..) :)

        1. Goldfeesh*

          Hey, are you trying to take possession of Iowa’s Loess Hills??? You guys have Omaha, not Omaha Bluffs. ;)

          (I know Nebraska has some, this comment thread is making me feel possessive of my hills, ha ha).

    11. RussianInTexas*

      People in this comment section get incensed sometimes when someone uses “my company” when they aren’t owners but employees. Because it’s promotes capitalism or something!
      Or, I don’t know, it’s faster than “the company I work for”.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I’m sure it’s happened, but I can’t recall anyone seriously getting upset about someone saying “my company has a ridiculous PTO policy” or something.

    12. Rock Prof*

      This reminds me that I’ve known a couple people who really hated terms like “my boyfriend” or “my wife” or even “my sister” because it implied ownership. Like, yes, relationships and marriage have historically been and can still be unbalanced but like, possessives don’t just mean ownership they can also just be relational! I can say “my hometown” and no one is going to think that I own it!

      1. Loreli*

        My dad (oops, sorry) would refer to my mother as “the wife” when mentioning her to others in conversation. I think this is an old construct -Dad was a WWII veteran.

      2. Worldwalker*

        So “my father” means you own your father?

        Yeah, no, “my” has multiple related meanings, and only one of them involves possession.

        My mother, my teacher, my favorite singer, , my doctor, my friend…nobody is implying that they own any of those.

      3. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I think this mentality is where the issues with work language are coming from. People going too far with personal relationship language and applying the same mentality to work relationships.

    13. not nice, don't care*

      On the flipside, managers who refer to ‘my’ team/employee in a very ownerish way are super common.

    14. I Have RBF*

      She said it was extremely disrespectful for someone to describe her as “my manager” because the possessive language implied the employee somehow owned her.

      WTF? Was English not her native language, or was she just… weird. Because “my” can mean “in relation to me”, not just “a thing I own”. Sheesh. Or does she think she owns her family – “my mother”?

    15. Worldwalker*

      I like playing around with conlangs. In the one I keep tinkering with, I have five different words for “my” depending on whether it means a possession (my hat), a part of yourself (my head), a relationship (my mother), an abstract thing that can change (my citizenship) or something internal (my opinion).

      Unfortunately for this person, it also has different forms of speech depending on relationship, and she’d probably get upset that she wasn’t being addressed in the mode used by the lowest social level addressing the emperor.

      I really do need to write up more details for that some day. It’s a very complicated, but quite logical, language. Except when it isn’t.

      1. linger*

        The status marking can’t be much more complicated than actual examples such as Javanese (which uses at least three distinct levels of vocabulary, plus a range of additional grammatical markers, to signal relative status of speaker and addressee).
        The thing is, when language systems get too cumbersome, societies find a workaround.
        Javanese was so inflexibly impractical that it has now been almost entirely replaced, in most practical contexts, and with a palpable sense of relief, by Bahasa Indonesia.

      2. linger*

        Oh, one classic fictional example is Jack Vance’s short story “The Moon Moth”, set in a society in which all language must be in a style appropriate to the addressee’s strakh (which roughly corresponds to mana), and with appropriate musical accompaniment on the appropriate instrument, and with the speaker wearing a mask signalling their own personality and status. Omitting or fumbling any of those elements results in communication failure: the speaker will be ignored or outright shunned.

    16. allathian*

      There’s an Agatha Christie novel (Sparkling Cyanide) where the plot partly turns around the different levels of possession indicated by the possessive case.

      My ear is an integral part of me that can’t be removed short of surgery or a severe accident. My watch is the watch I habitually wear although I can lend it to someone else at a pinch. My glass is the glass that I’ve recently used.

  9. Rabbitgal*

    I’ve spoken about it in an open thread before, but I once got pulled aside to be told that I couldn’t call my significant others my partners because someone might get offended. I noticed later that only I & one other visibly queer people were told that. I ended up making a one-page thesaurus of weird titles to call my partners instead. Nobody said anything about it until a year later in a 1:1 with my supervisor. By that point, the person who told me not to say “partner” was gone. I figured it was safe to ask by then. Turns out that the person who gave me the command misinterpreted what the grandboss asked her to relay.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Can you tell us what the intended message was?
      I’m asking because I’m nosy as hell.
      I am wondering if it was harmless, like “partner sounds like you are talking about a company partner, can you find a way not to sound like that?” because you don’t sound like it turned out to be homophobic.
      And my petty spirit bows before you.

      1. Rabbitgal*

        The message sounded homophobic when it was relayed to me. It was supposed to be more like “keep personal life talk to a minimum in company-wide meetings.” Which also wasn’t great because I felt singled out while not being an offender.

        1. Ama*

          Yeah … I think there still was some homophobia going on there, if only you and the other visibly queer people were being asked to keep your personal life talk to a minimum. Maybe not as overtly awful as “don’t say partner” but still not great.

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      Do you think it might have been because you have more than one? Polyamory does still carry a stigma in the corporate world…undeserved, but it’s there.

      1. Rabbitgal*

        In retrospect, yes, just because the person who told me not to call them partners knew about it outside of work. I think it had a touch of homophobia, though. It only became a big deal once she realized that I was also in a same-sex relationship.

    3. Ostrich Herder*

      Perfect malicious compliance. I would love to hear some of the alternative titles your partners had in the meantime!

      1. linger*

        Selecting for gender- and number- and officially-recognised-relationship-status-nonspecific options not including explicit expletives, my thesaurus suggests:
        bedmates, co-conspirators, collaborators, comrades, concubines, consorts, significant others, confederates, helpmates, life-partners, lovers, mates, (main?) squeezes, sidekicks.
        Which seems enough to keep ringing the changes at work for a few weeks. But more inventive options must also be available.

    4. Twix*

      See, I’ve always used “partner” at work because “girlfriend” has connotations that don’t really fit a relationship where you’ve lived together for 10 years, habe completely shared finances, etc but weren’t married.

      Although I’ve worked at my current job for 11 years and in that time I got married to my female partner, got divorced, and started dating my current male partner. My team occasionally has social events that peoples’ partners are invited to, and my boss always used to remind me that “don’t forget, your girlfriend/fiancee/wife is invited too!” Now it’s “don’t forget, your friend is invited too!” (Although to be clear, he’s a great guy and I like him a lot. He just clearly grew up in a time when same-sex relationships were Not Discussed.)

      1. AnotherOne*

        my grandmother has been known to refer to everyone in the family’s SOs as their friend. it started when a family friend’s son started dating his now husband, i’m pretty sure. but she sorta kept it going to matter anyone’s gender or how serious the relationship was.

        my cousin and her now husband were just shy of engaged and my grandmother still referred to him as cousin’s friend.

        it was hilarious.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My Greatest Generation mother referred to the characters on Golden Girls as “girlfriends”.

        She used the same word for my college friends that I got together with regularly when we worked in the same city.

        This led to my mother in law telling my teen I was bisexual. I laughed so hard… not offended, just amused at how words change.

    5. Emily Byrd Starr*

      Before same-sex marriage was legal, it was common in the part of the world where I live for gay people to refer to their partner as “my partner,” but not for straight people. This was because they thought that “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” was an odd way to describe someone who they’d committed to love and live with for the rest of their lives; and they didn’t feel right saying “husband” or “wife” because it wasn’t legally recognized. Sometimes, a straight person who was in a similar long-term relationship but wasn’t married would also refer to their partner, but for the most part, when someone talked about their partner, you assumed they were gay.

      1. not nice, don't care*

        Been married to my wife for a decade now. I still use partner instead of wife, because having survived two opposite-sex marriages, ‘wife’ feels oppressively heteronormative to me now.

        1. L*

          Depending on my audience and how much they know about my personal life, I sometimes refer to my husband as my partner because I’m worried that otherwise someone will mistake me for straight

      2. AnonForThis*

        I live with someone who I sometimes refer to as my platonic partner because “roommate” is too casual and “zucchini” is not in the common parlance.

  10. Jane Bingley*

    I used to work for a company where employees accrued vacation days based on months worked… for the following year. What this meant was that your first year, you had zero vacation, absolutely no way to take time off – which sucked for employees. It also meant that anytime an employee left or retired, the company had to pay them out for their unused vacation, which was at least a year’s worth plus whatever they hadn’t used in the current calendar year. So it was a huge financial liability for the company and a headache for the accounting team.

    No one liked it – not employees, not managers, not accounting. But the CEO insisted it was the only reasonable vacation policy, and would not hear anything to the contrary.

    1. soontoberetired*

      oh my. That was our policy for a long time. I told the HR person after I started working (and never thought to ask what the PTO policy was before I was hired) that wasn’t very competitive based on what I knew of the the area. 5 years later the finally changed it when they could not hire experienced people. I started right at the cut off point so I had 12 months of no vacation time. It sucked.

    2. amoeba*

      Was she Belgian, by any chance? Apparently that’s how it’s done there… (The jobs I applies to had extra holiday offered by the company and other ways around that so you wouldn’t actually be without time off for the whole year. Still, pretty wild, especially in Europe!)

      1. She is flemish first Belgian secon*

        I am not sure what you have heard about Belgium, but…. I am Belgian and I can tell you that it does not work like that in Belgium or for the rest of Europe. The standard amount of paid holiday is 25+ in most good companies. Also, I have lived in the UK for nearly 40 years and, yes, in some companies you need to “accrue” holiday but not for the following year. It is more of an accounting tool than a real accrual. A good empl0yer will let you take your annual allowance in the first year (legal minimum in the UK is 20 days/year = 4 full weeks) for ANY employee, no matter the length of your tenure at the employer. If you leave and have taken more than your “accrued” amount of holiday, the employer deducts is from your last salary payment and some employers do not even do that!

        1. also Belgian*

          I am belgian and it does work like that. When you leave a Company to go to another, your previous company has to pay your vacation days that you use the next year (usually all at once instead of spread out when you’re using them).
          There’s a special holiday rule for people under 26 who just enter the workforce (jongerenverlof) where half of your second year holidays are payed as the holidays off the first year and the second year also.
          In practice you have your regular holidays each year (if you start work too old for jongerenverlof, you take the holidays unpaid the first year) but they are only paid out by the previous year.

          1. also Belgian*

            How many paid holidays you have in any year depends on how much you worked the year before.
            It’s just not company specific : if I change jobs but I worked full-time previous year, I get the full amount this year. If I work full time now but only half time last year, I only get half paid holidays this year.

          2. MassMatt*

            Wow, this is weird–so no one gets holiday time in their first year, unless they are basically “borrowing” from their next year? And holidays continue to be paid by the former after someone leaves them?

            Is the former employer actually approving as well as paying for holiday time for these people? Do I have to get in touch with last year’s employer as well as this year’s to take time off? Am I getting checks from two employers?

            Or is the 1st employer simply paying out unused/accrued vacation time in a check when I leave them and it’s up to me to tell the 2nd employer I’m not working the first week of April?

        2. Name Required**

          I work in Belgium and this is exactly how it works. You start a new job with zero days if you haven’t worked in Belgium before, because you haven’t accrued any previous year leave. Also, 25 days is not the norm, 20 is. I have to wait till 2025 to get any proper time off; it’s an insane system.

        3. amoeba*

          I mean, I’m from Germany and have that information straight from HR at jobs I was a finalist for in Belgium, so as also stated below, unfortunately it’s actually true…

          However, I need to add that that company actually had an extremely attractive overall package! They offered 25 days (accrued by said system), but an additional 12 from working 40 h but having only something like 37.5 actually in the contract – so overall, you had 37 days off after the first year (and yeah, I believe they offered either additional unpaid or borrowing from the next year for that, not sure anymore). So I wouldn’t have minded at all, but still found that a wild system.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        France, also. It’s not quite that bad, because part of your “holidays” are actually accrued overtime: most white collar jobs you work 40 hours/week instead of the “base” 35, and those 5 hours accrue immediately. Also, the year for vacation accumulation, and only that, starts in May. Don’t ask, it’s a historically grown system.

    3. Strict Extension*

      I worked somewhere with a similar policy in that there was no PTO for the first year you worked there, then at the end of your first year, you suddenly had five personal days and five vacation days, all front-loaded. You stuck with five personal days a year, but at the start of year three, you were issued ten vacation days. Each year after that, you got one additional vacation day until you maxed out at fifteen days. Everyone was on a separate PTO calendar based on their individual start date. All time was use-it-or-lose-it. There was no payout for exiting employees (which is legal in my state). There were also all sorts of unwritten rules, like what counted as a personal day versus a vacation day, and the fact that officially we couldn’t ask for planned PTO in the fourth quarter, but there were actually instances of doing that that were just fine.

      1. SemiAnon*

        My current job had that when I started, except you got the personal days and sick leave from the beginning, and a much higher max out. But postdocs are 2-4 years, so most new employees would never stay long enough to get decent vacation.

        The government rules were amended recently, so it’s now more reasonable; you get a pro-rated amount to start, and the starting amount is larger.

    4. Elle Woods*

      And I thought the place I worked where you didn’t get any PTO until you’d worked a full six calendar months was bad!

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        My only experience was three months. And I thought THAT was crazy even though the first three months blew by.

        1. Potoooooooo*

          I had one where you got a prorated number of days based on when you joined the company in the first year, but you couldn’t use any of them for the either first 2 or 3 months. Everybody got a fresh allotment on January 1 of each year.

          I joined the company just in time to have Christmas off, but with almost no flexibility in the timing of when I could use my days for that year.

        2. Mad Harry Crewe*

          My old company, you started accruing from day one, but you couldn’t take PTO until you’d been there 3 months. Unpaid days for doctor’s visits or personal emergencies were fine, though – they mostly just didn’t want folks taking a vacation right after starting. And yeah, 3 months goes by pretty fast.

      2. Space Coyote*

        A friend of mine works for a company that until just last year (when it was finally sold to reasonable people) mandated that no employee had any PTO, at all, until they had worked for the company for FIVE YEARS.

        Then they received 16 whole hours.

        I have no idea how they found anyone willing to work for them. The policy didn’t apply to the owners or upper management, of course…

    5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Well, yeah, because…
      the company got away with you working a year without vacation.
      …wait. WAIT.
      So you start Jan 1 and your last day is December 30…the company PAYS you for days you accrued all year but weren’t allowed to use, even as you accrued them.
      Ba nan a PANTS

    6. Miss Chanandler Bong*

      I’m an accountant and I’m struggling to wrap my brain around how we’d even account for that. That’s just…awful.

    7. Mill Miker*

      I worked at a place like this once too, combined with strict hours, lots of unpaid overtime, and no way to bank hours. If you worked Monday 8:30am until Tuesday 7am, went home, got showered, and came back at 8:45am, you’d be in trouble because you were AWOL for 15 minutes, and (in your first year) didn’t have any leave time to pull from. You’re only option was to beg the CEO for forgiveness so they could put an entry in you timesheet for that slot (otherwise “they couldn’t process payroll, because of the gap”). This was a completely salaried position where your pay was always the same regardless.

      I once “missed” 16 hours over the corse of a month, because I was dealing with a family emergency. (ie. I worked the time, but not at the right times), and they very generously let me borrow 2 days vacation from next year, instead of docking my pay.

      1. Observer*

        I once “missed” 16 hours over the corse of a month, because I was dealing with a family emergency. (ie. I worked the time, but not at the right times), and they very generously let me borrow 2 days vacation from next year, instead of docking my pay

        If you were correctly classified, it would be illegal to dock your pay.

        1. Mill Miker*

          Oh, I was well aware of that at the time. This job had prompted me to become very well acquainted with the labour laws for my province, including calling a hotline an double-checking a few things.

          They actually gave me the choice of the docked pay or borrowing vacation time. Since they made the offer in an interrogation-style setup, I felt it unwise to quibble on the legality of the one option, and just picked the other. Another company was trying to poach me anyway, so I didn’t actually need any of that accrued vacation.

    8. Rebmil59*

      was it Hallmark corporate in the 1990s? I started in May of year 1, had to work entire year 2 before I could take vacation in year 3. this from a company that touted itself as a employee – friendly place to work.

    9. Martin Blackwood*

      I don’t fully understand my company’s PTO policy. we accrue from July to June, but the two weeks have to be taken according to the calendar year, i.e. January to December. Theres two time codes in our system. It just feels unnecessarily complicated.

    10. Eastern Seabored*

      My job is similar to that. You don’t get your vacation time until the next fiscal year and it’s prorated based on when you start.

  11. Carlie*

    I used to work at an org where many staff attended conferences and took display materials for booths etc. There were a few assistants and we were responsible for packing up materials such as books, leaflets and so forth for shipping to the conference venue. One senior staff member got so annoyed by the sound of scotch tape that we were no longer allowed to pack materials within anyone’s hearing distance, and had to carry all the stuff to send (books are heavy!), packing boxes, tape, etc etc over to the other building, usually requiring multiple trips and making the whole process take three times as long.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      The Prince and the Packing Material. A Modern Fairy Tale.
      There once was a prince who, through a series of unfortunate events, found himself disheveled and discombobulated. He wandered the city streets looking for a place to rest.
      He appeared at the offices of Dewey, Screwem and Howe.
      The staff brought him in, gave him styrofoam cup of coffee with powdered creamer. Our wayward hero, looked askance at the lukewarm largess but attempted to imbibe because, despite his appearance, he was a gentleman.
      Suddenly, his body shuddered. The now cold coffee flew from his hand and he bellowed, “what is that infernal sound?”
      A clerk peered meekly over a cube wall and explained he was packing marketing materials to mail for a conference.
      ‘Well, do it somewhere else,” the now red and righteous stranger shouted.
      That noise brought the partners from their offices.
      “What is the ruckus?” asked Dewey, always the first to speak.
      The office manager explained that they offered aid and comfort to a poor soul wandering the streets, but when he heard the packing tape unroll he became distraught.
      Dewey, Screwem and Howe looked at each other and then at the man.
      “You, sir,” said Dewey, “must be an executive. Come, take this office. And you, you with the tape, to the basement with you!”

    2. Desk Dragon*

      Yipe. I find the sound of pulling packing tape off a roll more painful than fingernails-on-a-blackboard, but as long as people aren’t constantly doing it directly beside me I would just put on headphones or something. And if I *were* right next to the packing station, I would request to move myself rather than making everyone else deal with my issue.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Exactly! I don’t hate the sound myself but I would definitely be distracted if it were happening repeatedly nearby. Hence…you know…earplugs.

    3. I Laugh at Inappropriate times*

      If you’re allowed a choice of shipping materials, Duck EZ Start tape is much, much quieter than standard packing tape. It costs a little more, but perhaps it would be considered a justifiable expense.

    4. Glitsy gus*

      oh no. I had one office where we were doing enough of that that we.moved all the shipping supplies to a room with a big table and a door so the sound was minimal, but having to take ALL of it to another building each time?! Good lord.

  12. ChaoticNeutral*

    I worked at a nice cafe in a rich people vacation/retirement town in undergrad. It wasn’t a policy per se but my manager (a real a-hole) was super strict about the music we played, but he ALSO refused to just preemptively approve a playlist/genre (like classical). So it was a real whack-a-mole of what music was deemed “acceptable” for our clientele and their delicate ears. The one that really stands out is Rumors (Fleetwood Mac) was acceptable but the specific song “The Chain” was not. No problem, I just won’t play Rumors at all. No, he likes Rumors, so I should play it, but just skip “The Chain” when it comes on. But what if I’m in the middle of serving a customer? Well, make sure you time it so you are available to change the song when it comes on.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        It’s one of my least favorite on the album. But not worthy of a ban. (And my least favorite song on a great album is hardly a condemnation.)

        Maybe it’s like my father’s absolute hatred of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration.” He’s fine with all their other songs but used to leave the room when it played.

        1. allathian*

          Funny, it’s probably my favorite of theirs and certainly the only one I can identify off the bat as theirs.

    1. Ama*

      Was it the use of “damn” in the lyrics of the second verse? I can’t think of anything else about that song that wouldn’t apply to the rest of the album.

    2. Ostrich Herder*

      And I’m sure that, if you had been caught delaying service so you could skip The Chain, you’d have been told not to leave customers waiting!

    3. greenlily*

      Did he have a problem with “The Chain” specifically because of the part that goes “damn your love, damn your lies”? Because that almost, almost makes sense. It is sung very angrily, and retirement-aged people who had a thing about salty language might think it was being used as a swear rather than in the sense of “condemnation”.

  13. urguncle*

    – PepsiCo wanted us, the employees of a small amusement park, not to drink water from anything except their Pepsi cups.
    – Team members could not have the largest size cups since we were drinking water and water was only to be consumed in the smallest 6 oz cups.
    – Cups could not show signs of re-use.
    – Team members could not get their own water.
    – Managers can’t spend all day getting water for people.

    July 4th being well into the 90s and sunny was a turning point.

      1. urguncle*

        I personally vomited from heat exhaustion on the fareway after 3 hours of no water or bathroom or shade. At least one other person got a worker’s comp wee-oo wagon ride.

      1. urguncle*

        We weren’t even allowed to have soda that we bought at our stations, either! They wanted the magic of Disney with the pay and prestige of a 19th century traveling carnival. Magically, staff should not be caught eating, drinking or suffering.

    1. AnonInCanada*

      This has OHS violation written all over it. All the more reason why the only carbonated (well, not carbonated by the process of combining water, barley, yeast and hops, anyway :=P) beverages I consume come from the Coca-Cola company.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        I mean…. Coca-Cola has done some truly horrific things in this world. I don’t know that that’s something to be proud of.

        1. Enai*

          It does appear as if PepsiCo doesn’t fund actual death squads in Colombia, unlike Coca Cola. I’m surprised, I thought it was just a thing US companies did (see also: Dole).

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, and PepsiCo is still active in Russia, as is Mondelez. As a consequence, a number of stores here have stopped stocking their merchandize and some food franchises have switched to other providers.

    2. NothingIsLittle*

      Oh my gosh, I remember working at McDonalds we couldn’t be visibly drinking in front of customers! I passed out working the window because it was stupid hot and I couldn’t step away from work at all between 12 –1 even to drink water because that was “critical time”

      1. FG*

        Not having beverages at workstations in restaurants is usually a food safety rule. You can get dinged on a health inspection for it.

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

          Where you are cooking food yes. but not at the window. And I’ve worked in different food service jobs in 2 states and we could have beverages if they were in a lidded container. You just couldnt be drinking over where you were prepping or cooking.

          1. ferrina*

            I don’t know the food codes, but when I worked at a coffee shop we were encouraged to have our own store-made beverages that we would drink from. Theoretically it helped us be better acquainted with the products, and realistically it kept us hydrated and caffeinated. Lids were required though

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

      If branding was such a big deal pepsi should have provided you all with 32 oz pepsi branded reusable bottles!

    4. doreen*

      Did Pepsi own the park? Otherwise, I don’t see why the park would go along with Pepsi’s demands. The cups don’t seem so unusual to me for people working in a food service location – but I feel like I remember people working at the rides and games at amusement parks having large water bottles years ago.

      1. RegBarclay*

        It’s like all the rules are reasonable in isolation (or at least I can imagine circumstances where they’re reasonable) but together they add up to heat stroke.

        The water in 6 oz cups rule in particular was probably meant for customers, not workers, anyway. Restaurants often put water in smaller/flimsier/obviously different cups. Wouldn’t Pepsi want people thinking the worker is having a lovely refreshing Dr Pepper or Sprite (7Up? I don’t know who owns what) in that 32 oz cup anyway, rather than just water in obvious water cups?

        1. urguncle*

          The reasoning for not allowing anything but their water was that they wanted to make sure we were ONLY drinking water and not filling it up with alcohol.
          It was definitely all like a monstrous Venn diagram of rules that were enacted for different purposes but came together to create heat exhaustion. This place was notoriously bad for labor practices, too. I stopped taking lunches because the rule was 30 unpaid minutes for every 8 hours, so if you asked for a lunch at the start of your 9am shift, they’d give it to you at the very tail end, so you’d be working for 6-7 hours without a break, take your “lunch,” come back for 30-60 minutes and get relieved. If you came for the later shift, they’d have you take your break 30-60 minutes after you got in, and then that was time you’d not get paid if you were sent home early. The whole set-up discouraged taking breaks.

      2. Glad I'm out of the rat race.*

        Oh, there are lots of places that get stuck with that sort of nonsense when they make a vending contract with one of the big two soda makers. To get the best service contracts, the “customers” will have to sign agreements that don’t let any commercial water bottles except “their” brand be seen being used. My children’s school district, which had a contract with Coke for the teacher’s lounges and the athletic games, was not allowed to have any water available for purchase in the cafeteria except Dasani, nor were they allowed to have any other brand of water DONATED BY PARENTS for field trips or celebrations. Yup, every donations list had to have that caveat printed on it, even if it was for a booster parents group for some athletic away game, because of course whether you’re grabbing water to donate to a kindergarten class of 25 or a marching band of 100, you want to do it as inexpensively as available.

        1. Doreen*

          I understand that happens – but I didn’t understand the comment to be saying that they couldn’t have some other commercial brand of bottled water. I understood it to mean that between Pepsi’s rules and the employer’s they could only drink from a 6 oz Pepsi cup and not from an unbranded personal reusable water bottle filled from a water fountain or soda dispenser.

          1. urguncle*

            No bottles were allowed at all because of re-use. I could have bought a bottle of water on Monday, then refilled it with vodka for Tuesday’s shift and they wouldn’t know if it was a fresh bottle of water or not.

    5. Albatross*

      I’m now seeing the upsides of the amusement park I worked at being a single arm of a giant “mediocre mid-size amusement park” company – they had a small army of lawyers who understood local workers’ rights law and what was practically required to keep people working. Water and ice were freely available, either from the employee cafeteria or from the coolers at every station, and we could use any cup or bottle we liked as long as it didn’t have anything offensive on it. I used a one-liter Nalgene, and it was just the right size to cover the two hours between my breaks.

      And so, we did not have anyone pass out or throw up.

    6. Art3mis*

      I worked at a theme park in my teens and we weren’t allowed to drink water AT ALL unless it was a very hot day. Or if it was very cold, we were allowed hot chocolate.

      1. Kay*

        This is just insane!! Where were parents in all this nonsense!? I don’t have kids but if some employer told my kid they couldn’t drink water at work I would seriously lose my $hit.

  14. Medium Sized Manager*

    In college, I worked for a British woman who refused to pay holiday pay on the 4th of July because she didn’t celebrate. She also refused to close on that day (even to make it an unpaid holiday), which resulted in me getting paid to sit alone for several hours because nobody takes their child to an indoor play facility on the 4th of July.

    1. NothappyinNY*

      OMG, years ago I worked for an older British woman who as a child lived through WWII. She would take her small US flag and wave at parade. She said but for the Americans, she would have starved or be speaking German.

      1. Possum'smom*

        I worked with a British war bride ( her description ) who also said that, and made sure her house always had a fresh US flag flying year round

        1. brighton baby*

          As an aside, war bride was/is very much an accepted common term (sometimes including in immigration legislation) for women who married soldiers stationed in the women’s home country and then immigrated to their husband’s country. My grandmother was a british war bride, and her army discharge papers say something like discharged for abandoning her country. /eyeroll

    2. londonedit*

      Isn’t it a national holiday? That’s just bizarre.

      And before we get into a thread of ‘those crazy Brits’ please rest assured that we’re not all completely bananacrackers.

      1. NMitford*

        It’s a federal holiday. What that means, however, is that literally the only people who must by law be paid for the July 4th holiday are those who work for the federal governement. Otherwise, pay for any holidays is at the discretion of the employer and treated as a fringe benefit.

        1. anonymous anteater*

          hence all the retail employees who you see when you run out in the fourth of July, when you grab another packet of hot dogs or whatever, and you tell them ‘what a shame you have to work today’ and they just go :-/

          1. Constance Lloyd*

            Yeah, when I worked food service that whole week was blacked out, meaning nobody was allowed to take any days off and we all worked doubles. On the 4th itself I would arrive at 5am and leave at midnight if I was lucky. Breaks were automatically deducted from out paychecks even though we were never able to take them, but that’s a different story entirely.

        2. KathyG*

          “It’s a federal holiday. What that means, however, is that literally the only people who must by law be paid for the July 4th holiday are those who work for the federal governement. Otherwise, pay for any holidays is at the discretion of the employer and treated as a fringe benefit.”

          That in itself seems full-on bananapants to me. All our federal (” statutory”) and provincial holidays are paid for all full-time and some part-time (if it is otherwise a regular day of work for them); if you have to work on a holiday, you ALSO get paid time-and-a-half for the hours worked.

          Anything less just seems exploitive.

        3. Librarian of Things*

          I worked for a local government for a while. One year, July 4 fell on a Sunday and July 5 was the official Observed Holiday. The local government was closed on July 5, as well as the Federal government. However, we were open on July 4 because, “it wasn’t fair if library staff got off two days when it’s only a single day for the holiday.” Never mind that the rest of the county employees also got off July 4 because it was a Sunday. So, I sat in my utterly empty public library and got to celebrate with a traditional July 5 barbecue . . .

      1. Medium Sized Manager*

        I genuinely don’t remember if we joked that’s why or if she actually said it, so I’m going to say yes.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Maybe she was just mad at Americans jokingly asking her what she was doing to celebrate 4th July. I got that question almost every year while I was living in the US and it was a bit annoying, but nowhere near bad enough to take this type of revenge! Or perhaps she just wanted to save all her fireworks for Guy Fawkes’ Night instead.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah I’ve had Americans ask me that and I’ve always said we’ve barely heard of the revolutionary war; literally no one cares. I guess I was wrong! How nuts to go against a local holiday like that. If she’s not willing to give you Boxing Day, August Bank holiday, Good Friday and Easter Monday, she’s just cheap and coming up with excuses.

    3. Sitting Pretty*

      I’m sure, being the fair and reasonable person she was, that she gave you paid time off.on all the British holidays.

          1. Ally McBeal*

            I spent Boxing Day 2023 at a bowling alley (in America) that was astonishingly understaffed. Like, there was one person running both the main register AND the entire concessions area. Took me almost an hour to get a pitcher of beer. I don’t understand why they didn’t realize the day after Christmas is when everyone (who doesn’t have to work) gets out of the house and does stuff with their families.

        1. Medium Sized Manager*

          Regret to disappoint you both that we got zero paid holidays (minimum wage & part-time, woohoo), and she was shocked that we college students would want to go home for holidays. I think I worked there a total of three months before finding literally anything else.

            1. linger*

              Tell that to e.g. the UK, many Commonwealth nations such as NZ, or other nations with a monarchy such as Japan (Emperor’s Birthday).

    4. Lucy*

      This is super weird! Like, I kept looking for the bit where you worked here in the UK, because it’s not a holiday here (though you could still take it as one, with your own leave, obviously). But, it was in the US?! How completely bizarre. I can see doing it once, if you totally misunderstood how people were most likely to celebrate (“everyone is off work – there’ll be a queue out the door!”) – but surely you’d learn after that?!

      Maybe she was just the kind of person who couldn’t accept being wrong and liked to double down. I swear we’re not all like that.

      (Also, there’ll be inevitable “ha – you can’t handle losing” comments and like, yeah, possibly! But also, they deliberately refuse to teach us in school about any times Britain lost anything, or wasn’t the good guy (…) in history, so most of us don’t even have enough knowledge to be salty about it. Like, maybe until Hamilton came out anyway!

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah that’s very weird.

        I mean if you work in the US then you should expect to observe the local holidays not the ones in your country of origin. I mean when I lived in Belgium and worked for a UK company based there we observed Belgian holidays not UK ones. So we had Belgian National Day off and the company shut.

        1. Medium Sized Manager*

          It was also weird because it was the only one she complained about. To my knowledge, Britain doesn’t celebrate holidays like Memorial Day or Thanksgiving, but those were reasonable days to close for a day.

          1. Lucy*

            We have our own Memorial Day (though we call it Remembrance Day – might be the same date, as I don’t know when yours is?), and it’s not a bank holiday, we just have a minute’s silence at 11am. Definitely no Thanksgiving, and even though we know what it is from TV, it’s not one of those that’s kind of caught on and spread.

            The only thing I can think is that when she first moved there, she got a few jokes about losing the war, overreacted (possibly because they don’t teach us anything about it and it was the first she’d heard of it), and decided to get her revenge by treating it as a day of mourning or pettiness or something!

            1. Lucy*

              Also, now I think about it, we have this view of ourselves in Britain as being too self-deprecating for a real culture of patriotism (obviously, that is relatively new – I’m sure we were patriotic in the days of Empire or whatever). I’m sure this is variable depending on the person, area, social group, etc, but the majority of my social group is fairly ashamed of Britain. However, when I lived in France, it was much, much harder to take the critiques. It’s not just the, “I’m allowed to say it!” thing, it’s also that when you’re on your own, surrounded by people who associate you, specifically, with the place they’re criticising, it feels like they’re associating you, specifically with the bad thing, and even blaming you for it. Or at least implying that you and yours are inferiors, to be pitied, for growing up in such a failure of a place. And even though you’d be the first person to raise how bad [issue] is, if you were back home, your brain kind of jumps to, “well, they think *that’s* bad, but they don’t notice their culture’s [bad thing]”

              So, actually, the more I think about it, the more I can see how if you were already a little… Unreasonable and reactionary… It might be possible to hear a couple of jokes and immediately jump to abusing your power over your employees as a punitive measure. Not nice, but I’m starting to understand a mindset that might lead to it..! Like, when when the 9-year-old I was looking after in France came home from school talking about her history lesson and mocking me about Napoleon and his “righteous battles against the English”, I was weak-willed enough to smirk back and ask her who won the Napoleonic wars. I’m guessing it was a similar impulse but worse and harsher and less funny .

              1. Medium Sized Manager*

                You are right on the money – she also paid us inconsistently and would get upset if we questioned it. A perfect example of small things being indicative of larger issues.

            2. Random Bystander*

              Memorial Day in the US is at the end of May (last Monday) and Veterans Day is observed November 11th.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        The US school system follows the same strategy of not teaching any history where the US didn’t win/wasn’t the good guy. Most US citizens don’t know we lost a war to Canada and an increasing number are confused about why we fought the civil war (something something state’s rights).

        WWI is skipped right over, no one remembers Korea and the Vietnam war is too controversial to teach, so we spend a really long time learning about the parts of WWII we were involved in. On Martin Luthor King day we learn that he died for our sins and now racism is over, and that’s it for US history.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          When I was in high school, it was the 1970’s and the American history textbooks ended with the end of WW2. They *might* have gone to 1950. Partly they were out of date, and partly when history is too recent, it’s actually politics. But my teacher had been in college during the Viet Nam war, and during the last week of the semester, he taught us the history after where the book stopped, including his own personal experiences of anti-war protests during the 60’s.

        2. Lucy*

          Yes! World War II for us too. And goodness knows, I don’t advocate for disrespecting the dead but the absolute obsession creates a really scary mob mentality around nationalism. I remember a Year 7 child having a mob show up to her house to get her out to “fight” (be beaten up), after sharing a picture of herself with a poppy wreath in her head. Her parents kept her off school, and we had to put extra safeguarding measures in place to keep her safe there. Totally ridiculous – she was 11 and had missed most of primary school. She had no idea of the implications. And, though I was very angry with the mob of kids at the time, really it’s entirely the fault of our selective learning and the culture of self-righteousness it’s created.

          I’m guessing we’re not supposed to get too political on here, so I won’t go on. In any case, I learned about the World Wars about six times before university, and when they decided to teach inequality, we learned about the fight for civil rights in the USA. Including that there was no slavery in Britain (inaccurate even taken as literally as possible). I didn’t really know what the term “British Empire” truly meant until University…

          1. Lucy*

            Poppies have been the symbols for remembrance here since the First World War actually, so my using it as an example kind of shows how the two world wars are sort of squished together in our cultural consciousness! We learned at about 16/17 that soldiers in WWI were betrayed by the powerful into a futile war – but then they rush to reinforce our nationalist impulses by going in really heavy on our righteousness in WWII as I remember it!

      1. Big Pig*

        I have had a US colleague who could not wrap her head around the fact that the British don’t celebrate 4th of July. I had to ask her to think about who she was celebrating Indepence from.

  15. MP*

    Worked at a coffee shop in high school where they called your training period an “internship” and didn’t pay you for your first 25 hours. I highly doubt they’re still pulling that crap but you never know!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Oh, like that motel my friend worked at in college. They got paid less than minimum wage while they were ‘in training’. Once they were fully trained, they got moved to minimum wage (and had their hours cut drastically, so new people in training could be hired).

      1. Affreca*

        My first job pulled this. Actually that was what they did after being caught paying everyone under minimum wage.

      2. Ms. Elaneous*

        There’s a theater in Maryland who did this for years. ( They claimed Rehearsals were “voluntary “).

    2. Ama*

      This is unfortunately still common at small bakeries and cafes, last I heard.

      I really think we should teach a course on basic labor laws in high schools, places like this count on people who are too inexperienced to know they are being cheated. In my first job out of college I was illegally classified as an independent contractor but didn’t know that, and paid more than my share of taxes for two years, since my employer wasn’t paying them.

      1. OtterB*

        Or maybe as a unit in a personal finance course.

        This seems like a good idea. Not only could it help keep people from being cheated, it could also counterbalance the flip side of “can my boss do this? Is this legal?” when the answer is yes, it’s legal. Possibly it’s bad management, possibly it’s pretty normal, but in any case it’s legal.

    3. Hermione Danger*

      This reminds me of the friend who worked at a deli that required him to work 50-70 hours a week but never paid him overtime because they considered a “week” to be however many days he worked to hit 40 hours. So if he worked 40 hours Monday through Thursday, his next “week” began on Friday and ended whenever he hit 40 hours. I kept trying to convince him that he needed to talk with the State Labor Board about it, but I don’t know if he ever did.

  16. Green Goose*

    I had a teaching job that was 9-6, but since we only had one computer for the entire teaching staff I had to come in 30-45 minutes early to print. One semester my last class ended at 5:15 and my free period was 5:15-6. Since I did all my printing in the morning I asked if I could go home at 5:15.
    They said no and said my morning work “didn’t count” so I sat at my desk and stared at the wall for the last 45 minutes simmering in frustration all semester. Also the printer was never free from 5:15-6 so I couldn’t use it at that time anyway.

    1. Artemesia*

      You had a teaching job where you had nothing to do for 45 minutes at the end of the day? Lucky you. I found teaching the hardest job I ever had and I put in hours every evening and weekend preparing material for class or grading student work. It is a never ending job in my experience.

        1. Artemesia*

          Show me a teaching job where long hours are not part of the salary? These are not hourly positions. Coming in early is not ‘unpaid;, it is part of the salaried job. They may or may not be well paid; they almost always these days have amazing benefits compared to other employers. (my oldest friend had an outstanding medical insurance policy in retirement for example, and full dental and health care without co-pays during her working years)

          1. Kevin Finnerty*

            I’m a teacher right now and my pay and benefits both suck. Your friend is being paid retirement benefits based off a contract no doubt negotiated 20+ years ago. Those days are aggressively gone.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I had the same thought! Mad props to Green Goose for being in the lead of the never ending game. That must have made it extra annoying to sit there if they’d pulled all the rabbits out of the hats already.

  17. Ashley Armbruster*

    I don’t have any weird policies to add, but I could add several regarding “unofficial” policies or culture norms!

    That might be a fun ask the reader question for a future date!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Office shrimp:

        My office has a “talking shrimp” that we use instead of a “talking stick” in brainstorming meetings where we otherwise run the risk of all talking over each other. It’s a foam replica of a cooked jumbo shrimp — headless and legless but we’ve added googly eyes. The tradition has evolved to the point that now in virtual meetings people will sometimes put a shrimp emoji in the chat when they want to talk and the meeting leader will recognize them saying “you have the shrimp.”

        From “the adult bibs, the talking shrimp, and other unusual office traditions” post on October 23, 2023.

  18. Chairman of the Bored*

    I’ve heard companies are starting to require people to get dressed up and spend hours commuting to something called an “office” in order to do work they have accomplished successfully from home for several years.

    Seems pretty ridiculous to me.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      That makes no sense to me. Why would people need to get dressed up? As long as it’s not a safety or public nudity concern, how would my outfit possibly affect my work output?

  19. WellRed*

    I’m not sure which is weirder: Pepsi dictating the cups employees of a different company could use or that water was limited to 6 ounces at a time or that employees had to ask managers for water. Please do elaborate on that 4th of July. It sounds hilarious.

  20. Mouse named Anon*

    One our long time best friends has Cerebral Palsy. He can get around short distances with crutches, esp if he will have a place to sit wherever he is going. However, if he is going long distances, going to be on his feet all day he will bring his wheelchair. Example – in college he usually brought his wheelchair to campus to use during school hours (as we went to a big state school). However, on the weekends, if we hung out he would use crutches.

    In college he got a job at large retailer. For some reason he was not allowed to use his wheelchair at the register but was given an actual stool/chair instead. Someone saw it and complained, and he was never allowed to use it again. So, he quit. He was young and didn’t really have the forethought to take legal action. I always think how awful that was.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I will never understand why people are so offended by cashiers sitting down. Makes zero sense to me.

      1. Watry*

        IMO it’s a cross between expecting subservience and (since retail workers usually aren’t very wealthy) the idea that poor people should work extremely hard to deserve being paid.

        1. Wilbur*

          I only check out from cashiers using the walking desks/treadmills. If they’re not willing to walk to the moon for their customers they lack passion. /s

      2. Name (Required)*

        Only in the US!! And maybe a few other bassackwards countries. I know in Sweden, the cashiers were already sitting by 1982.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, I worked retail in the early 90s in Finland and I was always allowed to sit when I was a cashier. Here customers also always pack their own groceries.

      3. PepperVL*

        I had a second job at Target, geeze, almost 20 years ago now. I broke my foot. Came in for my first shift after that happened in my crutches and was sent home because I wasn’t allowed to have a stool at the register, nor was it acceptable for me to do the light duty assigned to everyone other than cashiers – man the dressing rooms/phone.

        Fortunately for me, as I was like 24 at the time. my stepdad was more than willing to spend time on the phone. He managed to get through to Target corporate (I tried, but I was also working my office job so time was limited) and not long after that conversation I got a call from my manager apologizing. I got paid my scheduled shift for the day they sent me home and got a stool for the rest of the time I was in my boot.

      4. kiki*

        Yes! Honestly, if this is the biggest complaint you have, your experience as a customer must have been pretty great! Why would you be mad that workers can sit somewhat comfortably for hours ant an time instead of standing? Is it because the customer is not also able to sit for the few minutes they are at the register? Is it jealousy?

        1. Ama*

          The thing that drives me nuts about this is that same customer, if they were in a store where the cashiers were instructed to tidy their endcaps up if they had no one checking out (as we were when I worked at Target in high school), would probably complain that the cashier had to take a few moments to move back to their register and log back in.

          Some people just want to complain.

        2. Chirpy*

          The thing that gets me is the people complaining about retail workers sitting at any point during a day tend to be the ones who sit at desks themselves all day. If you mandated entire offices to stand at awkward height computer kiosks, they’d rightly riot or call OSHA.

      5. Observer*

        I will never understand why people are so offended by cashiers sitting down. Makes zero sense to me.

        I would repeat this 1,000 but I don’t think Alison would appreciate it :)

        But, this is seriously true. What on earth is the issue?!?!?!?

        1. I Have RBF*

          I don’t know. I have found that when cashiers can sit on a stool when at their register they are more friendly and less likely to make mistakes. It’s like being comfortable at work makes them better workers or something… It’s a mystery! (Not)

          1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

            I think their managers may have customer-facing worries that relate to your user name. If cashiers can’t rest, no BF! lol

            1. I Have RBF*


              I’ve found, however, that no rest means actually more BF. My tired and hurting face is even more of a BF than my RBF.

      6. Emily Byrd Starr*

        See, I thought someone was offended by seeing his wheelchair because it made them sad (yes, there are some people who are bananacrackers enough to say such a thing).

    2. spotphilo*

      Ugh yes, this is such a Thing. I badly sprained my ankle during my stint as a cashier, and was told I wasn’t allowed to sit on a stool at the register and if I wasn’t well enough to stand for my entire 6-8hr shift I should stay home. Take a wild guess whether that job offered any paid sick time…

      1. ITT non tech*

        That’s a “can you put that in writing please?” That is a lawsuit that will cost way more than the best stool money could buy.

      2. Your Mate in Oz*

        My experience has been that that kind of stupidity isn’t really related to pay. It sucks extra hard to be told you can’t work when you desperately need the money, but…

        I had a salaried job with sick leave and when I broke my collarbone the company owner said “you’re either working full time in the office or you’re home on sick leave” in response to me working part time from home. My team leader was really annoyed but them’s the rules. LIke, he’s going to be paying me either way, getting some work out of me is surely better than none? (I was stuck at home bored. Bored bored bored. I kinda like my job, and it definitely beats watching daytime TV)

    3. lilsheba*

      doesn’t help now but that is an ADA violation, they can’t deny someone their wheelchair that’s insane.

  21. NMitford*

    No coat racks for employees’ coats and no hanging coats on the back of your chairs.

    I worked for a company where the CEO worked with a designer to design a brand-spanking-new open concept (blech!) suite of offices with blinding white walls and light beige furniture. After we moved in, the CEO wanted to keep the place looking like a picture from Architectural Digest, which led to a number of ridiculous policies, but the no coat racks policy (having a jumble of multi-colored coats would be horrible! horrible!) really took the biscuit for me. We were told that we could leave our coats in our cars since it wasn’t really that long a walk from the parking garage. It actually can get cold in the the DC area in the winter, and it also can rain a lot, for which you might want a raincoat, as well.

    You know how big office buildings have random columns in them for beams. I had one coworker, who was not the least bit popular on our team, walk in one morning with the biggest Command hook she could buy, slap it on the back of one of those columns where it wouldn’t be visible from the rest of the floor, and hang up her coat. We still didn’t much like her, but we respected her a whole lot more for that.

      1. NMitford*

        HR finally gave in — slightly — and agreed that employees could put their coats in the very tiny guest coat closet behind the receptionist’s desk, where the company also stored things like easels for the conference rooms. There weren’t enough hangers and, besides, the closet was on a different floor than where everyone actually worked.

      2. KR*

        Or a coat room! That would actually be low key genius in a state that gets slush and snow to have a locker room or coat room that employees can stash their things in!

    1. Coverage Associate*

      OMG. A coat rack was one thing I mentioned in our anonymous employee survey recently. We’re in California, so I think it was just forgotten. My managers are reasonable.

    2. Birdie*

      No coats in DC?! The place where you get the full spectrum of weather?

      I take it this wasn’t a metro-accessible location? Or was this just more out-of-touch CEO garbage? Heavy cost, gloves, scarf, big Canadian-style hat…..the CEO would have hated me. Oh, and the heavy boots! I’m not standing outside with -10 windchills without protecting my dear little toes.

    3. Ama*

      I’m pretty sure when we got our new offices in 2017, our CEO insisted we have a small coat closet cabinet at each cubicle because she got annoyed by how everyone just threw their coats over their chairs in the old office (we had a very small coat closet but it was way up at the front of the office and most people didn’t use it).

      She also would not let people put anything on top of that cabinet that stuck up over the cubicle, which was annoying because if you weren’t right next to the window, you had to get rid of your plants since there was no other way to get them daylight.

      1. Worldwalker*

        My home office is in the northeast corner of the house; the only window is on the north side. I have USB-powered plant lights. They make my ponytail palm look weird but it seems healthy.

    4. VintageLydia*

      I’m literally an interior designer working in an interior design firm in an office we designed with weather similar to DC and I’m staring at our (decorative but functional!) coat racks with coats on them and my coat on my chair.

      Good grief your boss was… something.

    5. kiki*

      Ugh, this is something that irks me about some modern design– they want to achieve a clean and uncluttered aesthetic but they didn’t include anywhere to put stuff. People have things, offices need lots of space to keep supplies. If the goal is to have a minimalistic aesthetic, you have to maximize the amount of closets and storage space. You can’t just hope all the stuff disappears!

      1. NMitford*

        This is so true. We only had three small drawers in which to keep everything, and it was so frustrating.

      2. Angstrom*

        Heck, the Shakers achived a clean and uncluttered aesthetic 150 years ago, and had LOTS of places to put stuff. That’s how you keep the main space uncluttered. ;-)

    6. ICodeForFood*

      Back in the 90s, the insurance company where I worked had a re-design of the office… new carpet, new cubicle panels, etc. Our senior vice president decided that the only way to retain that “completely re-designed” look was to prohibit employees from having any personal belongings on their desks. No family photos, no paperweights made by their children… none of that.
      Luckily, my manager at the time was in some ways (not all, but some) reasonable, and she said something along the lines of “Give it a couple of weeks and he’ll forget all about it.” And that was exactly what happened. Over time, we all “snuck” back in the things that made our spaces ours… and the SVP never noticed or complained.

    7. I Have RBF*

      I worked in an open plan hell pit where it was more important that all of the desks were “uniform” than people actually being comfortable. They wouldn’t allow us to bring our ergonomic chairs that were specifically bought for us because “the new office chairs are ergonomic” – but they didn’t fit about a third of the people. We also were not allowed to hang our coats on the backs of our chairs. We were supposed to put them in our lockers (that were not ready until six months went by) or hang them in the printer room.

      In the move I had been half-way smart. I goofed by not grabbing and transporting my own ergo chair (the new chairs hurt, they were so bad.) However, I did disassemble and pack up my coat rack. When there was no place near our desks for coats, I assembled it and put it in an unused corner between my desk and a conference room. My entire team, including my boss, used it. When I left I willed it to my boss. It was a classy wooden one I got for relatively cheap on Amazon. ( It looked like it belonged there. No one said a word about it.

    8. JustaTech*

      Oh man, my office did this too!
      We’re in a very wet part of the country so we had hardly even moved in before the vigorous complaints went up from everyone that there was nowhere to put our wet coats. The new desk walls (not even cubes) were too short, so we ended up with some very classic black free-standing coat racks.

      We were also told to put NOTHING on the walls, not even work-sponsored posters, because the COO liked the “clean aesthetic”. That was five years ago, and just last week (long after the COO quit) the VP comes down like a tornado “why aren’t our posters up?!”
      Dude, I have been asking to put them up for years, stop acting like it’s our fault they aren’t up.

    9. Yzziefrog*

      Living in Canada, you’d think every office would have a place to leave your parka and heavy boots, and you would be so, so wrong. Pretty much everywhere in the winter you walk around and all you see is big floofy coats hanging outside every cubicle. I used to have my own boot mat to place under my desk because I hate wearing winter boots all day, makes my feet all sweaty

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        I’ve asked so many times why we can’t have a locking staff room or at least use a student locker to store coats, boots and purses. Principals (you know, the ones with locking offices) just keep looking at me like I’ve taken leave of my senses.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      This reminds me of a designer fail from a previous job. There were fewer cubicles than there were employees to fill them. There was room to add more, but all cubicles in the building had to use the fabric specified in the architectural plans. This was somehow embedded in a bunch of donor agreements and would have cost a mint in administrative / lawyer fees to change. Alas, the factory that had once made this precious material no longer did so. The factory was willing to re-start production, for a $30,000 retooling fee (and this was 2010-ish) plus a minimum order that could have met our cubicle paneling needs until the end of the world. So…no new cubicles in that building, ever.

    11. KevinB*

      I work for a company in the midwest, so we have a lot of cold days. There are no coatrooms and they took away cubicle walls (where people used to hang coats). I’m petty so I put it on my laptop obscuring part of the camera we are supposed to always have on.

  22. Sosie*

    Ooh boy so much:
    We couldn’t eat at our desks. We could only drink from cups with lids. Could not walk through the empty, open conference room to get to the kitchen. Blinds all had to be at equal length. Nothing allowed on the walls (pictures, cork boards, white boards). Had to leave five minutes late every day as to not give the impression we were watching the clock to leave. Everyone from VP down had to clock in and out (white collar industry ). If you traveled for work and you flew in or out on a work day you still had to go into the office if there were hours left in the workday. Flight leaves at 11am? Had to be in at 8am and then leave for the airport from the office. Get in at 3pm? From the airport straight to the office. I could go on.

    1. TechWorker*

      Omg my company did that last one too, because we were contractors and they got paid by the half day that people were working. They literally expected someone who got in from a 11hr flight at 1pm our time to travel the 2 hours from the airport to the office to work for another 2-3 hours, or use PTO if they wanted to go home and sleep.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      The only one that makes some sense is the cups with lids. I’ve seen that rule to keep people from spilling on office equipment. And I’ve had to clock in and out for white collar jobs while working for a place with federal contracts. It’s for reporting.

      The rest is just ridiculous.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. Cups with lids makes sense. I’ve worked somewhere with that rule to manage the issue of people spilling tea and coffee on the new computers.

        1. OtterB*

          Some years ago my then-employer moved into a newly constructed building. A rumor went around that we would not be allowed to take cups of coffee or tea upstairs from the kitchen and people lost it. Clarification came quickly: to carry a full cup out of the kitchen, it had to have a lid on it. They wanted to protect the new carpet, not keep us uncaffeinated.

    3. Lunchtime Doubly So*

      I worked at a place where we couldn’t eat at our desks, but it was because the CEO wanted everyone to eat in the kitchen so he could hold court. Everyone was forced to eat their lunch while smiling at his thoughts on matters of the day.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Id be so tempted to say I wasn’t watching the clock well enough to know what time I got back from my trip. Then, if I struck lucky with job hunting I’d put all the blinds at very slightly uneven lengths just before handing in my notice and leaving at 4.59.

      1. DannyG*

        I would just complain how long it takes to clear customs and get my luggage, just enough time to eat up the rest of the day.

      1. Texan in exile on her phone*

        Oh man I hate Uline so much. They tag their jobs as Milwaukee even though they’re like 40 miles south of town.

        (And their politics)

  23. UglyFeet*

    I worked for a resort run by a delusional general manager in the early aughts. The resort was in an area know for extreme weather including massive snow storms and intensely hot, muggy summers. We had outdoorsy clientele like hikers and extreme winter sports enthusiasts. The place was desperately in need of upgrades as most everything was very country-kitsch with bears and trout and black and red plaid, and renovations hadn’t been done since the late 80s, but our clientele weren’t the type to give a hoot. That didn’t stop the GM from putting out bonkers dress code policies to try and class the place up including (see if you can find the pattern):

    Female staff had to have their hair in a bun or a cut to a page-boy.
    Female staff could not wear heavy winter boots regardless of weather or tasks.
    Female staff could only have clear nail polish.
    Female staff must wear pantyhose under their clothing, even if they’re wearing slacks.
    Female staff shouldn’t wear slacks, regardless of weather or job title.
    Female staff could not wear open-toed shoes (this was because our GM was worried about “ugly feet offending the guests”).

    During my orientation I also got a pamphlet on acceptable makeup styles. I was on ski-patrol and I asked my boss how exactly I was going to do my job in a skirt and heels and how makeup prevented me from creating a safe and fun experience for our guests. He just muttered something about ignoring it. The reception staff got the worst of it by far. I’d say that’s the only time I enjoyed a mom and pop business getting bought out by a major corporation.

          1. Ally McBeal*

            I just googled it and read a PBS interview with a lady named Barbara “Dusty” Roads, who was a flight attendant/stewardess:

            “We wore high heels and hose and we were supposed to wear girdles. Occasionally they’d do a girdle check… they’d come up and give you a little finger on the rear-end. If you didn’t have a girdle on, you’d be called into the office — even if you didn’t need one”

            1. skunklet*

              I firmly believe that those 2 hours are something EVERY person needs to watch (American Experience, PBS, all about flight attendants)

      1. pally*

        How about those panty hose checks for the men? Bet those didn’t go over well.

        Yeah, I know, there weren’t any.

    1. Margaret Cavendish*

      I used to work in a business bookstore that had a fairly strict, but undocumented, dress code policy. The owner would really have preferred to have us all in suits, but since she was employing a bunch of broke university students and paying them minimum wage, she had to be content with business casual.

      Until one day, she saw my tattoo. It’s small, about the size of a golf ball, on the outside of my ankle. I was wearing nylons, and the only reason she saw it was because I happened to be sitting on a raised platform in the back room, nowhere near the customers. Nevertheless. A *gasp* TATTOO! She completely lost her shizzle. The manager, who was a much saner person, said he was aware of it, I had it when I was hired, and there was no official policy against them. He also pointed out that I was an excellent employee, despite the presence of a small amount of ink on my body.

      So the owner calmed down from her initial outrage. But still, it was clear that we needed a Policy. So she created one – *nine pages long.* Nine pages, for a minimum wage part time job. It included no tattoos, obviously – but also if you had a tattoo you couldn’t cover it up, so I’m not sure exactly how that was supposed to work. It also specified only one earring per ear (oops, I was out of compliance there as well, due to the second piercing in my left earlobe!). Also only one ring per hand, maximum length of fingernails, no nail polish, acceptable hairstyles for both genders, and included the phrases “must wear deodorant” and “appropriate undergarments.” It was… a lot.

          1. JustaTech*

            This sounds like what happened at my private girl’s school when someone in my class got an eyebrow piercing (late 90’s). The school, which already had a uniform and pretty strict dress code, came down like a ton of bricks “no facial piercings, only one earring per ear”. (They already had a rule for the elementary school that those girls could only wear post earrings, dangly earrings were a privilege for older kids.)

            Now, like I said, this was a private school. So most people’s parents were in high-paying professions, like doctors. And lawyers. And we had a reasonably diverse student population. Including people from places where nose piercings are part of their religious/cultural heritage.

            Apparently there were some *very* tense phone calls involving lawyers and the rule was revised to be “no facial piercings unless it is your cultural heritage”. The girl with the eyebrow ring had to switch to a bit of clear fishing line to keep her piercing.

      1. AnonORama*

        That sounds like the interview dress style guide from my law school (early 2000s). Not surprisingly, the women’s side had suit color and skirt length “suggestions;” prohibitions on wearing a pants suit; directions about what could be worn underneath the suit jacket (no sleeveless shells, even though you weren’t supposed to take off the jacket); pantyhose suggestions; heel height suggestions (not too high, but no flats); jewelry, nails and makeup suggestions; purse/briefcase suggestions; hairstyle rules, and even something about acceptable resume portfolios. The men’s side was basically “wear a suit.”

        1. Enai*

          You know what amuses me right now? I once read an etiquette book which had the reverse case for black-tie events: men exclusively in a smoking complete with cummerbund and so on, and women “I’m afraid you’ll have to trust the ladies”, as apparently what an “evening gown” even was had evolved so much, no coherent rule could be constructed.

      2. Seashell*

        When I was in high school in the 80’s, I applied for a summer job along with a friend of mine. I got the job, and my friend didn’t hear back from them and couldn’t figure out why. When I was in training, they said the rule was one earring per ear for females and no unusual hairstyles. I had two holes in one ear, but often only wore one earring per ear. My friend had multiple holes in both ears and short hair with a long rat tail braid in back. That explained why she didn’t get the job.

      1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        During my senior year of undergrad, one of my instructors was a working attorney for the city. She spent a lot of time describing the ridiculous dress code rules judges would impose on women. Rules about what kind of makeup to wear, heel height, hairstyles, and of course, clothing. One judge in particular refused to allow any woman wearing pants into his courtroom. Didn’t matter if the woman was the court reporter, defendant, plaintiff, a lawyer, a courtroom guard, witness, or spectator. They were barred from the courtroom if both legs were separately sheathed.

        I’d like to say I graduated in 1914 but it was unfortunately 2014.

        That judge is still working and still imposing the rule.

        1. JustaTech*

          Back in the 80’s my parents had a tenet who lived upstairs who’d gotten a part time job as a bailiff at the juvenile court in the city (I think she was a law student). Her first day of work she showed up in a classic 80’s power suit, with heels. The judge took one look at her and said “go home and change, I need you in sneakers”.
          Turns out the judge had hired this gal partly based on her having been a varsity lacrosse player, and therefore a very fast runner, because part of the job of the bailiff in juvie was to catch the kids who would try to just run out the courtroom. She did a lot of running.

        2. Your Social Work Friend*

          I knew of a judge in my hometown who would not allow women to appear in his court room in open toed shoes. You also couldn’t appear in that court house in jeans, with sunglasses on your head, or without a tie–no matter the judge.

          1. Bast*

            No jeans or sunglasses in Court is still pretty much the rule around here. Certainly no attorney would think to show up like that, but we try to counsel clients to, at the very least, wear khakis and a button up or polo. You don’t have to go out and buy an expensive, special suit and tie, but dress a little better than you usually do. Of course, we have clients that ALWAYS look like they stepped out of a Mens Warehouse catalog; those aren’t the ones we need to have a pep talk with.

        3. MigraineMonth*

          I know a male lawyer who noticed that his female colleagues were always getting chided by the judges for their clothing, whereas his suit and tie were never criticized. He was so outraged, he stopped wearing a tie in solidarity.

      1. Emily Byrd Starr*

        I have heard people call it that and used it myself, although I believe the correct term is Noughties.

    2. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Good lord. Could the men just wear whatever?

      I would quit if someone made me wear pantyhose daily. I had to wear them if I worse a skirt in retail jobs in my 20s, which was ridiculously old fashioned even then, but UNDER PANTS??

      My inseam is 36″ and pantyhose means horrible, distracting Crotch Creep all day.

    3. Emily Byrd Starr*

      Someone should have protested by showing up in pantyhose, underwear, and heels, but nothing else below the waist. “What? You said we weren’t allowed to wear pants, so I’m just following the dress code!”

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I’ve heard of some stupid rules before but skirts and heels for SKI PATROL might be the stupidest. I’ve never seen any sane person out on the slopes in anything less than full winter gear unless it’s spring and sunny enough to take one’s coat off.

    5. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      “Female staff had to have their hair in a bun or a cut to a page-boy.”

      Wait, what? Were women not allowed to have shorter haircuts? Enquiring minds want to konow!

  24. Dr. Rebecca*

    A “look busy” policy for an order picker/packer. I was incredibly efficient at my job, and would pick the days orders in half an hour, have them packed up in the next 45 minutes, and then need to sweep the warehouse or make glue/glass cleaner samples for the rest of the 8 hour day because they didn’t want me standing around doing nothing (and god forbid I SAT around doing nothing…) I got really good at finding obscure corners of the warehouse out of peoples’ line of sight.

    1. econobiker*

      And the warehouse management surely never thought to ask “why is Dr. Rebecca better than the rest of the crew” and “how can we train the rest of them to duplicate her speed and success…and cut down on the actual paid time or amount of employees we have to use to pick and pack.”
      Of course they did not think that…
      They always knew better…
      “Get back to sweeping Dr. Rebecca! No standing around doing nothing!”

  25. Mosquito*

    I work an essentially blue-collar job, w most employees having never held an office job before. I also have never, but I have some adjacent experience and I read this site. Our HR -who has never done HR before and is really in sales – is so universally reviled that no one will talk to them, and so people bring HR tasks to me, a random shop floor-type employee. I was referred to as a “guerilla HR” yesterday, much to my horror. I am paid extra for these tasks, although that’s a secret from Real HR, because much like Game of Thrones, my claim to the throne is backed by several powerful people. I have done almost nothing to advance my campaign, this is just sort of happening at me.

    1. iglwif*

      This is amazing and I would read an entire book about your adventures in Guerilla HR.

  26. notscarlettohara*

    I’m not even going to try to anonymize this one, cuz I don’t really care if they find out. I used to work for a veterinary ER that could not find staff (because they were terrible). When they could not find a doctor or a nurse for a particular shift, instead of taping a closed sign to the door and turning the phones off like any normal place, they would pay a person (sometimes an extremely highly paid doctor) to sit there all night, 100% alone in the building, not doing anything except answering the phone and telling people we couldn’t see them because…. we didn’t have the staff? Oh no, we had to tell them “we’re at capacity”. Which goes over super well when clients are looking at an empty parking lot and an empty building. They were simultaneously actively losing money, losing staff who were tired of being constantly screamed at, AND alienating their entire client base.

    1. Siege*

      This appears to be the policy at my local emergency vet – claiming they’re at capacity, I mean – and it created some chaos for me and my cats. The good news is they appear to have finally hired enough staff; the bad news is when I took my cat in last week after he panicked in a blood draw at his regular vet and wasn’t getting better, they wrote down that we were there for decreased appetite. No, it’s the fact he’s not moving and the one time he got up he laid down in his litter box to die that we’re here for. (He’s much improved today, but … way to miss the actual problem!)

      1. Raida*

        yeah Emergency Vets churn through staff, especially the front desk.
        It’s high pressure, it’s emotionally draining, and every. other. day. someone is crying while carrying their bleeding beloved pet into the lobby, begging for someone to help.

        The one my mate did HR consulting for basically had to stay over-staffed whenever possible to be able to run normally as people left and were hired in.
        They’d still end up under-staffed periodically

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I live in a medium-sized city, and when my friend had a pet emergency she had to drive well over 2 hours to the nearest Emergency Vet that was actually accepting patients. Then they didn’t have the right kind of insulin, so my friend drove back home to get the insulin, and back to drop off the insulin (6 hrs driving). Then they kept the animal overnight, so the friend drove back home to sleep (8 hrs driving) and went to pick up the animal the next day and bring it home (12 hrs driving).


    2. Turtlewings*

      That seems especially horrifying for an emergency facility, when someone’s pet might be actively dying in that empty parking lot!

    3. Boof*

      hahaha…. I mean I guess if your capacity is zero because you do not have staff then you are at capacity with no patients but… wow.

  27. Brian*

    We had to sign in upon arrival or be counted as late. But the log book was in the boss’s office, and she was always late. We were expected to hang around her door until she showed up (instead of getting a jump on the day’s work–we were salaried teachers, so we’d always arrive early). If we showed up before the boss and just started working, we’d be counted late.

      1. Ostrich Herder*

        Agreed, this is the exact combination of strange, petty, and easily-solved that I came to the comments for!

    1. Margaret Cavendish*

      I…can’t follow the logic here. How does this make any sense?

      (I know, I know. It doesn’t. But my poor brain is still going to try!)

    2. hereforthecomments*

      A former workplace instituted a policy to email your direct supervisor when you got to work because they couldn’t be bothered to notice if you were in or not. One morning my boss walked by me, we said hello and then five minutes later she came back and told me I forgot to email her that I was there. I said: You saw me; we spoke. Her: Email anyway. No, nothing was ever done with the emails and they weren’t kept for any kind of official record or timekeeping.

    3. In the middle*

      I had one principal who would check the cameras to see when we arrived. I was usually about half an hour early. One day I was two minutes late (because of the panic attack I had on the drive because work was so awful) and I got a written warning.

    4. Raida*

      We had something similar with schedules being in the office, and the managers closing the door to work.
      Someone one day just walked in, picked up the schedules, and put it in the staff room instead. Manager protested, was told (hah) “You’re outnumbered twenty to one, I’ll just put it back in the staff room if you move it.”

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      My first principal used to print out our time sheets and highlight every time we clocked in late. I’d sometimes have a couple 2-5 minute lates from traffic, weather, etc but no acknowledgement of how I stayed 10-30 minutes extra for grading, printing, and the WEEKLY staff meeting that almost always ran over -_-

  28. Betty Spaghetti*

    Our upper management decided that if employees weren’t spending a majority of their time working from the office (vs remotely working), they would forfeit their offices and be moved to a cubicle. Dear reader, our building had no cubicles.

      1. Betty Spaghetti*

        I have a feeling someone pointed out that, due to the lack of cubicles, the punishment for doing too much work remotely was…to only work remotely? That or the entire idea was forgotten, much like the multitude of other dead initiatives of years past.

        That reminds me of the initiative where management directed my department to create step by step manuals for every. single. task. we ever handle. Much of our positions is based on professional judgement, experience, etc. It was an impossible task. But hey, we stalled long enough and management forgot all about it.

  29. Mouse named Anon*

    I worked a temp job at a small niche call center type place. It was mainly info gathering type of thing. It was honestly awful and only meant to be in between type thing for me. Anyway. They had many silly rules.

    1. We couldn’t walk around during the day, except to go to the bathroom.
    2. We also had limited bathroom breaks and were scolded for taking too many.
    3. We weren’t supposed to use the kitchen except for between 12-1 for lunch.
    4. We technically weren’t supposed to have food or drink at our desk. But I did anyway bc a girl needs snacks ok. I also need coffee if you want me to functioning member of society.
    5. I wouldn’t call this a rule but once someone left the coffee on a burner too long. It burnt so badly that it dried up and stunk up the whole office. Which I get is annoying. A senior sales rep walked around and (LITERALLY) shoved it everyone’s face. Saying “SEE THIS??? WHO DID IT??”

    1. Bast*

      Limited and monitored bathroom breaks… Sounds more like a kindergarten classroom than a business staffed with adults. Ugh.

      1. La Triviata*

        Many years ago, a high school (in NJ I think) decided rather than giving students hall passes each time they’d ask to use the rest room, they’d allow everyone a specific number of times they could use the rest room. Well, it turned out that a number of students (mostly girls) would hoard their permitted uses, not wanting to run through them before they expired. The result was a lot of girls with urinary tract infections. That policy was abandoned after the first semester/year.

        1. Quill*

          Well, you need all of them in one week, often…

          We used to have 5 hall passes, total, for the year. With a ten minute passing period that made it basically impossible to both cross the building to your class and use the restroom.

          Most teachers just “forgot” to date and time the hall passes (they were in your assignment notebook) so that you could leave when necessary.

          Best I witnessed was when a male health teacher refused to issue a hall pass because “you’ve used one twice already this week” and a girl stood up and said “sir if you don’t know why a girl needs to use the bathroom every day of the week you’re not qualified to teach health.”

            1. Quill*

              From my memory, with a mixture of embarrassment and churlishness. Nobody got in any long term trouble, and he did shut up, for a while anyway, about being asked to issue hall passes. (Dude you are in the GYM STORAGE ROOM why do you think nobody can pee during passing time? You’re a million miles away from the rest of the school)

          1. Galadriel's Garden*

            God, this reminds me of my high school speech class. It was a mandatory class everyone had to take, and the teacher had a bit of a complex about it – so in order to ensure students weren’t trying to spend all of their time *out* of class, he taped both bathroom hall passes to literal, actual toilet seats. Yes, to go to the bathroom, you would have to carry a toilet seat with you. There was one boy’s, and one girl’s, and if you needed to use the bathroom at the same time as someone else of your gender during your 50 minute period? Well, sucks to be you.

            One time, as was wont to happen to a teenage girl, I desperately needed to use the bathroom for period-related reasons…but the girl’s hall pass was in use. The boy’s one, however, was not. I asked once, discreetly, if I could use the bathroom as it was a bit of an emergency. No can do, hall pass in use. Five more minutes go by, my classmate has not returned, and I go back up to the teacher’s desk and let him know that it’s a bit of an urgent situation, can I *please* just use the boy’s hall pass?

            No. I, a straight-A student who actually took his class seriously, was clearly trying to get out of work, according to him. I pleaded with him, letting him know this was a sort of girl-related emergency. Nope.

            So I marched back to my desk, ripped a tampon from my backpack, held it aloft, and announced to *the entire class* that I needed to change my tampon, and Mr. Teacher’sname was not going to stop me. When stopped by a hall monitor after leaving the room, as I had no hall pass (or toilet seat, in this case), I told this wizened old man that Mr. Teacher’sname wouldn’t let me leave to change my tampon and I was going to bleed all over my seat, loud enough for my entire class to hear it. Weirdly enough, he let me pass, the teacher did not say a word to me, and I literally never did anything like that again.

            1. Bast*

              It’s absolutely ridiculous that someone should have to spell out WHY they need to use the restroom, particularly at an age where it’s clear they aren’t in there unrolling the TP all around the bathroom. it also tends to be the people who never cause issues that get the issues from teachers, supervisors, etc, and the people actually who do abuse it get no flack, which again, I just don’t get. The passing period in between classes in most schools is so miniscule you don’t have time to use the restroom, and it makes it doubly impossible if your next class is clear on the other end of the building.

              I remember having to explain that at a retail job — my period started at an inconvenient time, so I buzzed over a supervisor to watch my register for 2 minutes while I could put in a tampon. Supervisor comes over (a woman) and I tell her I need the restroom. She asks if it can’t wait for my break, and I say no, it’s an emergency, “Well what kind of emergency?” How many different types of bathroom emergencies are there, and do you really want to hear about ANY of them? “I’m about to bleed all over the floor.” Same supervisor was also really crappy when I was pregnant and needed to pee all the time. “But you just had a break, why didn’t you go then?” “I DID, but I literally am peeing all the time now, I can’t help it!”

          2. MigraineMonth*

            My middle school had an infamous incident where, immediately after giving a female student permission to use the bathroom, the male teacher demanded to know what she had gotten out of her backpack to take with her.

            At the time I would have died of embarrassment if I were that girl, but at my current age I’d like to think I’d make it a “learning opportunity” for the teacher. Give a quick overview of the pros, cons and insertion methods of various menstrual products, for example.

          3. BeachMum*

            My kids had a ten minute passing period in high school, which never made sense to me. Way back when I was in high school, I had time to use the restroom and smoke a cigarette (it was the 80’s) between classes. I don’t understand the reasoning behind the super-short passing periods.

            1. Chirpy*

              Everyone with 10 minutes between classes sounds amazing. I had 5 in high school and THREE in middle school…and not in small buildings, either. So basically, you had to carry a backpack all day and hope you had a class near your locker if you needed to switch out the books.

      2. whingedrinking*

        I’ve had one or two bosses who tried to insist that we needed a “bathroom policy” for students.
        I have only worked in adult education.
        (Luckily, every teacher just completely disregarded this policy. Seriously, one of the *benefits* of working with adults is that supposedly you don’t have to do as much classroom management.)

  30. No Tribble At All*

    One that we fortunately pushed back on: I worked shifts for a place that had two 24/7 centers. A shift had me, in my room; two other people a continent away; and another team of four in the room next door. When all we were supposed to do was monitor, we’d hang out in the room next door because, yknow, socializing with other humans.

    Apparently the team in the other site got tired of having to call the team of four to come find us (eating, hanging out in their room because it was NIGHT SHIFT and NOTHING HAPPENED). Their manager suggested we make a virtual status light that logged when we were away from our console.

    We got them to drop it because, as I said, “I am not having an entry in the official logbook that states how long it took me to poop.”

  31. Elle Woods*

    I once had a manger who only allowed employees to use blue ink pens. She absolutely refused to read or review anything that had been written in a different color.

    1. Problem!*

      I used to work at a place that required everything to official be done in blue pen so it was easy to distinguish between originals and photocopies. To this day I have a difficult time doing anything work-related in non-blue pen but I don’t get weird about it to other people.

        1. Elle Woods*

          That makes sense to me. This manager’s insistence on blue ink wasn’t anything like that though. She said black ink didn’t stand out on printed docs (fair enough), green ink was too faint (OK), and red was an attack on her work (she was horrible at taking any sort of criticism). All of us reporting to her went along with it; it was only an issue when she had to review a document with notes from someone outside the department.

          1. Pizza Rat*

            I would have found something in turquoise. That’s a shade of blue. This kind of BS just screams for malicious compliance.

              1. Mim*

                My fountain pen collection is so up for this challenge. I’m envisioning a spreadsheet to track that manager’s reactions to various blues, veering off all the way into turquoises on one end of the spectrum and puples on the opposite end. I wonder if they could be slowly conditioned to accept purples if you work them up to it. Frog in boiling water theory + color theory!

            1. Total*

              I once worked somewhere that dictated we use blue or black only. I had a purpley blue pen. It was great because I could easily flick back through and see my entries. Other staff liked it too for the same reason. Staff commented on how good it was that I used a slightly different color, in front of a manager who had decided she wanted to make my life misery. Despite it having been fine for a year, suddenly this color didn’t meet audit requirements. Initially she was going to have me re-write all the notes until I pointed out the illegality of editing past notes!

          2. Not Alison*

            I totally get her not liking red. I don’t like it either and always made comments on my staff’s work (our dept did a lot of writing) in green.

      1. Blue ink forever*

        I used to work with attorneys and that was something I learned. I’m an only blue-ink person myself (even before that job), but I don’t impose my blue-ink preference on others.

      2. Cyndi*

        Honestly when I worked in mortgage post-closing we wanted this policy so badly, but had absolutely no power to actually get the closing department to do it. Instead we were trained to lick our thumbs and touch the signature to test whether it smeared.

        I think a lot of us low key thought of closers and loan officers as the enemy, because our job was to catch their mistakes, and also to pull staples out of all the bizarre places things got stapled (in the dead center of a one-page document?) because even one missed staple could destroy our bulk scanners. They certainly did treat us adversarially a lot of the time when we had to ask them to redo things.

    2. La Triviata*

      I once had a manager that chewed me out because I had stapled some documents with the staple parallel to the top edge of the paper. She insisted all staples had to be at a 45 degree angle.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        I had a manager who insisted all documents had to be printed in portrait format – never landscape. Despite the fact that I was printing a table, and it had to be landscape in order to make it, you know, legible.

      2. Cyndi*

        At an old job, an OUTSIDE BANK once called my manager to complain about me because I was paper clipping documents instead of stapling them.

      3. Paris Geller*

        I didn’t have a boss like that, but I did have a teacher! She would literally take a ruler to see if you stapled your pages correctly and if you did not, you got docked points.

      4. Broken Lawn Chair*

        She must hate those copiers that do their own stapling, since the ones I’ve seen usually put them parallel to a paper edge.

    3. Another CPA*

      I have a director who will not sign anything using a pen handed to him. He will only use his own pen – which comes from the same supply cabinet as all the other pens in the office. He also only signs in blue. He claims that blue proves that it is a “wet signature” and not a photocopy.

        1. Observer*

          There was a time when this was a reasonable rule. Even now color copiers are not anywhere near as common as B&W, and the color copiers also are also surprisingly bad quality, especially the higher capacity ones.

          The one major exception and low / moderate volume all-in-one machines that use the high resolution inkjet printer mechanism, but even then it’s not universal because is also requires much better scanning than the typical fax machine.

          So, annoying, but not as insane as some of the others.

    4. Ugh-o*

      I had a micro manager like this, only he dictated the type of ink that must be used. We couldn’t use gel ink because “What if you spilled water on it?????”

    5. JSPA*

      I dealt with an admin who had opinions on what constituted normal vs “too blue” shades of blue.

      I cut her slack because older photocopiers were (by design?) unable to see “non-photo blue” (which was then used for mark-up). But it turned out that she had internalized rules about shades of blue from her earliest working years, and understood them to be a yardstick for professionalism, rather than a technological limitation.

      Our photocopiers were just fine with “too showy blue.”

      1. Observer*

        I cut her slack because older photocopiers were (by design?) unable to see “non-photo blue” (which was then used for mark-up).

        Yes, this was by design.

    6. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*

      I had a boss who insisted that only her notes could be on yellow legal pads (8.5 by 14), and her sales staff all had to take notes on white paper at letter size (8.5 by 11). She also insisted that whenever we ordered new pads of paper, we order equal amounts for her…this naturally resulted in us having an insane amount of unused yellow legal pads, since six sales people obviously go through way more smaller pages of paper than one boss. The guy who trained me rolled his eyes when he explained the rule, then opened a desk drawer to show a whole stack of the yellow legal pads. He told me to make sure to save space in my desk for them, because boss regularly ran out of room and stashed them in the employees’ desks, but to under no circumstances ever use it. If I accidentally did, he said to sneak the whole legal pad out of the office, because boss would lose it if she saw a missing page and/or a piece of yellow paper in a trash can.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’m kind of amazed by this. Just the sheer dedication it takes to have so many pads you have to put them in employees’ desks but still not allow the employees to use them. This is true dedication right here.

    7. I Have RBF*

      My first job was working for a medical diagnostic pharmaceutical company. All, and I mean ALL, of our documents had to be written in blue or black ink, no pencil, no whiteout, no highlighter, nothing but dark blue or black ink, preferably indelible ink at that. Even now, medical records and research have to be in blue or black indelible ink, with black being preferred. (See for an example.)

      I still use indelible ink – Uniball Signo 207 with purple ink – but sometimes will use the Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens with purple ink. Yes, I’m a bit of a pen snob.

      1. Yzziefrog*

        I worked several years for a pharma distributor and the GMP rules of documentations are seared into my brain. I still label the stuff in my freezer as 01-FEB-2024 and I do not own a single gel pen :)

    8. Lonesome Beet*

      That’s freakin hilarious—at one place I used to work the owner’s wife made a rule that blue pens were forbidden and sent the (naturally horribly embarrassed) office manager around to collect any we might have. Apparently she’d come to believe that blue ink wouldn’t photocopy properly.

      I wish I’d thought to keep a copy of the employee manual because it was full of weird arbitrary dress code rules. We weren’t allowed to wear denim or T-shirts, but shorts were okay.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I worked as an election official in 2022. We were pretty nervous given how high anti-election official sentiment was running in the country, but fortunately the only “incident” we had to log was someone putting blue pens just outside the polling area with a sign saying not to trust the provided pens because they were black.

        As far as election conspiracies go it seemed pretty harmless, but I couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to work.

    9. Chirpy*

      In middle school I had a teacher who only wanted blue or black ink.

      So I used a turquoise pen…it’s blue…

  32. desk platypus*

    I worked in the back offices at my previous job but I would sometimes come out to help at the public service desks to cover lunch breaks. I would wear headphones with low volume to help me concentrate on work and get into the zone for long stretches of work, but only one bud in so I could still hear my phone or anyone needing to get my attention. The workers at one of the service desks complained that it wasn’t fair I could listen to music at work and they couldn’t. I thought it was obvious as to why you can’t wear headphones when dealing with patrons. I pointed out that I took them off on the floor and I was easy to reach. I never missed phone calls and my chair was positioned so I could always see people approaching my back desk.

    They pitched such a fit I wasn’t allowed to listen to music at work anymore. I should have pushed harder on it, but I ended up getting a fairly expensive bluetooth earbud (when they weren’t easy to find) in a color close to my skin tone and covered my ear with my hair. No one found out!

    1. WDD*

      This reminds me of an old workplace where we weren’t allowed to listen to music with headphones, just in case a colleague needed our attention, but we were allowed to wear those giant ear defenders you only find on building sites or airport runways… the ones designed to block out any and all sound.

  33. Ama*

    Well currently at my work (which is mostly a three days in office hybrid schedule), we get a handful of extra WFH days (which we got begrudgingly after a LOT of junior staff push back when we went back to the office). But you can only take a full WFH day, not a half (all our other PTO can be taken in full day or half day increments). Which completely negates the main reason people wanted extra work from home, if you or a family member has an appointment closer to your home than the office and it would be easier to WFH half a day and take PTO for the other half.

    I suspect some people take a WFH day and just go to the appointment without charging PTO if they think no one will notice (which since we can all get Teams and email on our phone is highly probable) and I really don’t blame them.

    1. spotphilo*

      Bizarre! When I was hired, my work place let you use sick time by the hour, so for example if you had to come in one hour late for a doctor’s appointment you could use 1 hr sick time and the rest was time worked. But unbeknownst to me they switched for a while to only letting you use sick time in half day increments, which I discovered because I was pregnant and carefully scheduling my monthly OB visits as early as I could in the morning so I could get back to work around 10am, and my paychecks kept being larger than normal because they would pay me for half a sick day, plus the whole day minus 1hr I actually worked. Which was sort of nice at the time, but I ended up giving birth AND having COVID during the same fiscal year, and running out of sick time 3 months from the reset date, which when you’ve got an infant in daycare is a long time to bank on not getting sick. They’ve since switched back to letting you take it in 2hr increments, thankfully.

    2. Bast*

      My current job only allows days off in full increments as well. To be fair, I am salaried, and we have a little bit of flexibility– ie: I can come in two hours late OR leave two hours early for an appointment without it counting against my PTO, but anything beyond that, I have to use a full day of PTO for.

  34. Barb*

    When I was an MBA student, I had a student job working for the Executive MBA program. I’d come in at 6:30 am on the two days a week that they met and unlock the suite where the classes were held, then go to the program office to get all the supplies for the executive classrooms. There was a utility cart but I was told by my boss that I could not use it because it looked unprofessional. So I had to carry everything and make many trips back and forth.

    It turned out this was just my irritating boss being irritating. I was also reprimanded for putting sharpened pencils in a cup point side up because someone might be injured. I refrained from responding that anyone in an executive MBA program ought to be smart enough to not get stabbed by a visible pencil point.

    Anyway, during the year that I worked there, my boss was fired. And HER boss asked why I never used the cart. A few months later, that boss was fired as well. So much drama.

  35. Wolf*

    Working in academia has weird standards. My old boss hated the colour aqua/turquoise so much she banned it.

    Our institute’s logo and the whole corporate identity merch was that colour.

      1. Wolf*

        I don’t know! But trying to ban the colour that all our official signage, pens, mugs, even the meeting room chairs were… it was so petty!

  36. Velomont*

    Regarding the no-humour/no-jokes office, I have a hard time picturing them wearing anything other than very conservative funeral-wear, or dark hooded robes. I wonder if they’re allowed to smile even?

  37. Brain the Brian*

    Non-exempt employees who work extra hours in an emergency without their direct supervisor’s approval can’t be paid for those hours. Which sounds reasonable until you have to work a life-or-death emergency while your boss is on a dayslong hike with no Internet or cell service and thus cannot grant approval until the emergency is over. I’m still bitter about HR’s inflexibility years after this particular incident.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Yes, as I pointed out to them. They refused to listen, and ironically they cited the “audit risk” that an employee working without their supervisor’s approval presented. I guess I was just supposed to let this student (we’re education-adjacent) die?

          1. Brain the Brian*

            I almost did. Too long ago now to bother, and I think our new HR folks have reversed stance on this point of their accord.

      1. La Triviata*

        Years ago, I worked for a trade association that would have conferences. At the time I was there, the director of conferences would have a directive with the venue that only she could give guarantees for meals and such. She had a habit of disappearing – going shopping, getting a massage, having her hair cut, etc., and being unreachable. And, of course, the venue would need the guarantee, or we’d need a decision on something right when she was unreachable.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I once worked at a small toy store owned by a woman who worked another job and never answered her phone. There was at least a 3-month stretch where a customer called long-distance almost every day to ask about a special-order doll and I told her a) I didn’t have the authority to place the order, b) the owner hadn’t responded to the last 10 messages and I doubted she would to this one, and c) all I could do was refund the money we’d accepted from the customer. Nope, the customer only wanted the doll. The customer would then go on at length about how inconvenient and costly the call was.

          In one insane situation I will never cite as an example of good customer service, I stopped by the store during a busy street fest (because I suspected my coworker was alone and otherwise wouldn’t get any break) and found her talking on the phone while also trying to check out a long line. I offered to help, and she just… handed to phone to me and left me with the checkout line while she went to do gift-wrap. My “Uh…” turned into “uh-huh, sorry, uh-huh” as soon as I recognized special-order customer. I was pretty slow typing in the barcodes for the customer (yes, typing in the barcode: our scanner didn’t work and the “solution” was to type in the barcode for every item) since I was multitasking. After a minute the first person in line got impatient and grabbed the phone out of my hand, said, “uh-huh, so sorry about that” into it, and waved for me to finish checking her out, so… I did! The phone was passed back to me, with the special order customer still complaining about the expense of the long-distance call, apparently unaware that they’d been talking to three different people, two of whom weren’t actually supposed to be working at the store at the time.

          In the least surprising twist of all time, the toy store went under two years later (without ever sending me my W-2 for the year), and I am quite sure that special order customer never did get their doll.

  38. Chairman of the Bored*

    I worked with a guy who had an prosthetic foot due to a motorcycle accident, his prosthesis was one of the “blade” types that is very obviously not a biological foot.

    We were visiting a construction site with a zero-tolerance requirement that everybody wear steel toes. If you didn’t have your own they would give you loaner toe caps that were held on with a big rubber band.

    Did this site make him wear a safety toe on his prosthesis? You know they did.

    Because the rubber band didn’t fit he wound up having to tape it on, resulting in an awkward assembly that he said increased his risk of a trip-and-fall injury but their stance was “rules are rules”.

    1. JSPA*

      Pretty sure OSHA rules are that every human foot must be protected, not that every person must have two protected feet, whether or not they have two feet.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I’m 99% certain that you’re correct.

        I’m 100% certain that I’ve come across power tripping ego-maniacs in the role of safety director on more than one jobsite, who would absolutely make ish up as they went along. Suffice it to say that though not the majority, also not outliers.

    2. ST*

      I’m baffled. Were they concerned about about a potential injury to his feet and toes that…don’t exist??

      1. Chairman of the Bored*

        I think it was just a case of middle-management flunkies who were following the absolute strictest interpretation of the rules because they were unable/unwilling to use their brains.

      2. Quill*

        I can see electrical risk (electricity could conduct in a prosthetic) but if it’s slip protection? Even in ludicrously stupid retail situations I have managed to get it across to management and health and safety that your slip-proof shoes will *increase* my likelihood of needing worker’s comp, I cannot reliably stand or walk in anything that does not properly support my collapsible ankles.

      3. N C Kiddle*

        The optics of someone walking around not in compliance with their overly strict policy, perhaps? Very silly.

    3. Database Developer Dude*

      That is justification for quitting on the spot with nothing lined up. I’ve got to be in more danger of injury because of your rules? Then you no longer need my services.

    4. LCH*

      get them to sign something stating they are making him do this so that in event he does injure himself because of this requirement, it is recorded that it was a requirement so he can sue.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, the entire foot is steel! He’s gone above and beyond in the name of safety.

  39. Evil Queen of Dysfunction*

    I worked for a franchise company that owned a half dozen Fast Casual restaurants. So Lots of team members, lots of names.
    I was on the senior staff and we literally had a 4 hour meeting because the lady who ran payroll and one of the owners would not allow people to go by their nicknames or have nicknames on their name tags. Everyone had to be referred to by their full first name.

    I am not talking like cutsy nicknames like “My boyfriend calls me sweetie bun. I want that on my name tag.”

    They did not want people to go by actual shortened versions of first names like “My parents named me Antigone but I go by Annie for short. ”

    OR someone is named after their dad like Augustus Ceaser but dad goes by Augustus and the son goes by Ceasar. Augustus Ceasar could not go by Ceasar because it was not his legal first name. Even though he had been called Ceasar since the day he was born.

    The payroll lady didn’t like nicknames because if by some chance someone was referred to by their nickname it was harder for her to find it in the system.

    The owner didn’t like nicknames because he “did not approve of nicknames. ” I suspect this was from some sort of trauma from childhood where he was tormented by the Banana Fana Fo Fana song.

    1. new name blues*

      lol I changed my name legally and began to go by my middle name. I had this put on my employee ID. When my boss introduced me to a new coworker using my old name, I corrected her with my new one and she said “yeah, but we don’t know if that’s what we are going to call you.” It was so weird. Happened almost a decade ago but I think about it all the time.

      1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

        My mom went by a nickname of her middle name for her entire life. Even her HS annual shows her by that name, which I only found out after she passed 5 years ago. When she got married in the late ’50s she legally used her maiden name for her middle name, she no longer had even the initial of her nickname in her name. (think Jennifer Kathleen Johnson, became Jennifer Johnson Smith, still going by Kathy).
        When she was in a rehab facility after her stroke, her friends couldn’t get in touch with her because they didn’t have a “Kathy Smith” registered, and they had more than one “Mrs. Smith”.
        She also had an “aka” registered with her bank so that she could accept checks as Kathy Smith.

      2. Avery*

        Oh, that reminds me of when I started going by my chosen name, which I was playing off as a nickname for anyone I wasn’t ready to come out to. This included management at Goodwill, where I was a retail grunt at the time.
        I asked if I could switch to using my new name on my work shirt.
        The answer? Only if ALL my work shirts used my new name. Which meant getting rid of my old work shirts and buying all new ones. Out of my own pocket, naturally.
        I… did not switch to my new name there. And quit not too long after, though for mostly unrelated reasons. (Being a retail grunt did not suit me.)

    2. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

      I’m reminded of a former company where there was a list of employees and their extensions, and one employee was listed as Debbie, because that was what she wanted to be called, and that’s what everyone called her. One day, when Debbie was out to lunch, a client called and wanted to know the spelling of Debbie’s name, because she wanted to send Debbie a letter. I spelled Debbie’s last name, but the client insisted that I tell her if Debbie’s first name was spelled Debra or Deborah. I didn’t know. I said that the client could address the letter to Debbie LastName, but she insisted that she needed Debbie’s proper first name (not a nickname!). I suggested that she address the letter to D. LastName, but that wasn’t good enough. She kept insisting that she needed the spelling of Debbie’s proper first name (not a nickname!). I asked everyone in the office if they knew if Debbie spelled her name Debra or Deborah, and no one knew. The client was furious. I don’t remember what happened, but I’m guessing that the client had to wait for Debbie to call her back to tell her how to spell her name.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        That reminds me of a ten minute go-round in high school that I witnessed:

        Teacher “Jennifer King?”
        Jenny King “My first name is Jenny; here.”
        Teacher “I will only use legal first names for roll call”
        JK “Fantastic, as the name on my birth certificate is Jenny”
        Teacher “No it isn’t, you can’t use a nickname on a birth certificate”
        JK “But its not my nickname, its the name that my parents gave me”
        Teacher “No they didn’t”
        JK “Um…yes they did”

        This…went on.

        This was ridiculous to the point that JK requested permission to go to the office, and returned with her enrollment papers/record (and a vice principal who wanted to know WhatTF and WhyTF.). Guess what? Her name was NOT Jennifer. Even after that, I think it took a phone call from Jenny’s MOM and a week’s worth of malicious compliance (think….audible “who? We don’t have a Jennifer….”) from the whole room to get her to stop calling her Jennifer.

        That teacher was very unpleasant.

        1. Glad I'm out of the rat race*

          My mom was Roberta, went by Bobbie, got called “Bertie” by some of her more malicious high school classmates which she hated (this was the ’50s, the adults shrugged it off) and so was DETERMINED that I should have a given name that no one could turn into a nickname.

          And I spent the first few days of every school year convincing my teachers that no, the class enrollment list did NOT show my nickname, that was my actual given name on my birth certificate. It got to the point where I’d make Mom dig out my birth certificate right before school started every autumn. This was the ’60s and ’70s so copiers weren’t that great and it had an embossed state seal on it, so no way they could accuse me of presenting an altered one.

          1. Seashell*

            I know someone who was named Tricia on her birth certificate, because her mother feared that Patricia with the nickname Tricia would be turned into Patty and Mom hated the name Patty.

          2. Broken Lawn Chair*

            Long ago Readers Digest or some similar publication had a story of parents who carefully chose a name that they thought couldn’t be made into any nickname: Amber. When Amber got home from the hospital, her big brother said, “Hi, Amberger!” If people are determined to make a nickname, they’ll find a way.

            1. It's not short for anything.*

              My parents (both of whom have spent their lives with names that have multiple variations of nicknames) purposely named all three of their kids with names with no established nicknames (think “Brian” or “Helen”). All three of us ended up with nicknames that are totally unrelated to our actual given names. I gave my son a common nickname for my dad’s full name (not the same nickname that Dad uses, since I didn’t want my son to have to share his name with anyone). Darned if people don’t assume that “Van” is actually short for “Sullivan,” like his grandpa who goes by “Sully.”

              1. Mother of Corgis*

                My parents did this too because my mom hated her name and always went by a nickname. My dad met her in a class with multiple people with his first name, and decided to go by a middle name that just stuck. Joke was on them. While I never got a nickname, my brothers ended up with the nicknames “Brillo” and “Xerox.”

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          My brother-in-law’s legal name is Danny. And my brother Terry is really annoyed when people think they should call him Terrance.

          1. Avery*

            Similarly, my mother’s name is Beth. Not Elizabeth, not Bethany, just Beth. It’s her full name, not a nickname.
            I can only assume that my grandmother Betty had similar issues. Yes, Betty was her name on her birth certificate.

            1. BeachMum*

              Yet my child Elizabeth always gets asked what people call them. Really and truly, they’ve only ever been called Elizabeth…except when my husband or I add their middle name. Fortunately, people finally believe Elizabeth now that they are (mostly) a grown-up.

        3. Adds*

          Ugh. My daughter’s Kindergarten teacher was like that. We call my daughter Nolie, it’s a shortened name. She was not allowed to go by Nolie in class by her teacher because “I don’t know no Nolie. In MY class she can only be [full name]. If you wanted her to be called Nolie at school you should have registered her as that name.” And she was mad I had labeled all her (non-communal) supplies with “Nolie.” Said child graduated from high school last May and that awful teacher was The Only teacher in 13 years of school who ever had a problem with it.

      2. FricketyFrack*

        Ooh she’d hate me. My legal name is a common nickname for a longer name, but my mom specifically gave me the short form because she haaaates the other common nickname people use – think naming me Beth instead of Elizabeth because she never wanted anyone to call me Liz (obviously not my real name). I’m guessing that client might have had an aneurysm at the suggestion that Debbie was the employee’s full name.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I briefly ran errands for a woman who insisted all correspondence to married women should be addressed to her husband’s name, e.g. Mrs. Joe Smith. Since my mom didn’t change her last name when she married, it seemed particularly ridiculous to use my dad’s full name when writing to her.

        Then again, recently I’ve been receiving official government correspondence addressed to “Spouse of MigraineMonth”. Since that person doesn’t exist, I’m not 100% sure if I’m allowed to throw it out or if that counts as tampering with the mail.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Write “ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN” on it and put in the outgoing mail. The Postal Service will send it back where it came from. Easy-peasy! 8-D

    3. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      My great-grandmother didn’t approve of nicknames, so gave her children names that couldn’t be shortened and no middle names. Her daughters all had nicknames unrelated to their real first names (like Peggy for Jane). Her son did go by his given name.

  40. Hawk*

    From my old job:
    No directional signage was allowed in a museum open to the public that was on the lower level of a business complex owned by the company. We didn’t have hours listed until I had been there over a year and the hours were the size of a 3×5 note card on one of the entry doors.

    From my current (government) job:
    You cannot leave to work for a new job unless the new job has been approved by the government ethics committee. I understand if you’re going to work multiple jobs why they might be strict about that, but leaving for a new position in a different organization? We’re smaller than state level.

    We also are supposed to call library patrons “customers” and I hate it.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > You cannot leave to work for a new job unless the new job has been approved by the government ethics committee. I understand if you’re going to work multiple jobs why they might be strict about that, but leaving for a new position in a different organization?

      I actually wouldn’t classify this one as ‘ridiculous’, because the intent of that policy must be to prevent (or at least get on a risk register of some kind) cases where someone leaves the government org with some ‘insider’ knowledge, that they then use to the benefit of the new employer but the detriment of the government… such as “how assessment criteria work for program x, so we can find loopholes in it at company y”.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Or if they had a problem in the past with people leaving the government positions to work at other places as a kind of kickback for favors.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I can understand that reasoning, but at the same time, I’m not sure how their application of the reasoning can be legal (in the United States).

      3. Librarian of Things*

        This might be reasonable if you are working for, say, a bank regulator and there could be an ethical issue raised about a bank courting your to work for them next. Maybe. But, the fact is that bank regulator employees use the revolving door to bank compliance departments every day.

        This is not reasonable if you work at a public library, no matter how big or small. There are no insider secrets of libraries that publishers/book jobbers don’t already know. (Top tip, free for the taking without ethics complications: if you want me to buy your book, make sure you get it reviewed by Kirkus, BookList, School Library Journal, New York Times, etc., not your next door neighbor.)

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I happen to know a bunch of people who work(ed) in banking authorities, and the rule is usually that you can’t go work for those banks you directly supervised/audited. They have to let you go work for the rest (even though you may be, say, good friends with the guy who supervises them), because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to leave at all without completely changing careers.

      4. Laura*

        How is this legal? There can’t FORCE you to stay in a job. And why would this apply to library jobs anyway??

    2. Pikachu*

      Customers! I hate that too! Libraries are one of the few places left we can hang out and not be expected to spend money. Calling us customers feels icky.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I hate it, too!

        And it seems weird since now a lot of businesses now call their customers “guests.”

    3. Pretty as a Princess*

      The ethics thing actually makes sense to me, but the implementation is a little backward from what I am used to.

      We are on a government contract and if we are extending an offer to an external candidate who works for (or has worked for within X time) the government in question, there is a requirement that their E&C office fill out some paperwork with them to ensure that the hire is legal. There are certain types of jobs you can’t legally go to immediately from government organizations – in general this boils down to a verification that you were not in a position to influence the external organization in exchange for a job/favorable hiring consideration. (Google “Darleen Druyun Downfall” for a great example.)

  41. Ann Onymous*

    One person chose not to put on sunscreen on their legs and got burned, so nobody was allowed to wear shorts anymore. This job was outdoors in the summer, and it was miserable to be in long pants all day.

  42. ChemistbyDay*

    At a past job (at a review!), I was told I couldn’t read books during breaks because it showed “workplace disassociation”. Chatting was ok, but reading was off the table. Not surprisingly, I 1. began looking for a new job and 2. began taking all of my breaks off site.

    1. Magnus Archivist*

      This reminds me of a call center (incoming calls only) job I had where coworkers brought in coloring books for when it was slow. I brought in knitting and my manager reacted with both horror and distain (did I break an unspoken workplace rule? still not sure, 20 years later.). I was quickly whisked away to a closet to stuff envelopes while my colleagues got to keep coloring. Still annoyed about it.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Given that I used to knit through all of our All Hands Meetings, no. There is no unspoken workplace rule that knitting is worse than coloring books.

      2. N C Kiddle*

        Our call centre was more consistent in that any activity while waiting for the system to be functional was frowned upon for nebulous reasons. We weren’t being paid enough to care, so my colleague kept working on her beautiful appliqué and I kept making notes on the novel I was revising.

    2. Euphony*

      My work requires receipts for all expenses to be claimed back. They also require all transport options to be the cheapest reasonable option for your travel plans. Failing to do either of these consistently will get flagged to your manager – all sounds very sensible so far, right?
      If I need to visit our London office, I can buy an all day Travelcard for the London Underground for £15.20 and get a receipt. Or I can use my contactless debit card at the barriers for a total cost of £5.60, which does not give a receipt.
      Either option results in a policy exception needing to be signed off.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Proving that what absolutely sounds sensible (receipts and cheapest reasonable options) can really be ridiculous in practice!

        Had to get a review and sign off once because the cheapest option in the system was not reasonable, but had to be input as not reasonable by a manager (an 8 hour layover 2 states out of the way instead of a 2 hour direct flight….that was the level of ridiculous. Yes, it was half the cost…but even the more expensive cost was under a thousand round trip!)

      2. perstreperous*

        If you register your debit card with Transport for London you can get a receipt. (A PDF of the last 7 day’s travel which you can download from your account).

  43. Alex*

    I know this is common in the industry, but when I worked in a gym, I was not allowed to tell potential members how much membership cost. Not on the phone, not if they walked in and asked, nothing. Management insisted that they were only told if they met with a membership specialist and got a tour of the facility. But they were not always available to do so, so I spent a lot of time just telling people sorry, they were out of luck unless they wanted to make an appointment to come back on another day for the tour.

    In practice, this resulted in large numbers of potential customers walking out in anger or hanging up on me in disgust. Management insisted it was a better way to do business because they didn’t want the price to scare people away. The kicker is that it was one of the better gym deals around.

    1. Bast*

      One of the biggest turn offs for me in… well.. ANYTHING is when I cannot find a price. Go online to look at a menu and can’t find prices for a new place? Will go somewhere else. Looking at yoga class members where they don’t even give me a rough idea of how much it costs? Will go somewhere else. I don’t like surprise prices, and I think it wastes everyone’s time when something is totally outside of an individual’s price range and they’ve wasted all that time trying to woo them to sign up for something only to discover it isn’t feasible at all. Not to mention, convenience is king these days. For every place that refuses to list their prices online and makes you go through the whole hassle of calling this person and that person, touring, showing up, etc., I can go online and find 5 other places that do list prices.

    2. Daria Grace*

      Researching gyms now and this drives me mad. It’s not even the talking to someone in person that bothers me, seeing what their customer service is like is part of what I’m wanting to find out. It’s the handing over my contact details which will likely result in me getting spammed and cold called by them until the end of time

  44. Poison I.V. drip*

    I had a manager who insisted that sentences could not begin with the word “No.” If I wrote “No hazards were detected,” he’d have me change it to “Hazards were not detected.” I never understood why. Was it for liability? Some imaginary grammar rule? I never found out.

    1. Similarly situated*

      This isn’t quite as bad, but I worked what was essentially a claims examining job where we couldn’t say “failed to.” It was deemed too mean.

      1. Goldenrod*

        This wasn’t a policy – so not totally crazy – but there is strong cultural pressure to never use the word “problems.” We never have problems, only “challenges.”

        1. Agnes Grey*

          I used to have a boss who wouldn’t even use the word “challenge” – it was an “opportunity”! The toxic positivity was strong with that one….

      2. Sorry About That*

        I worked at a taco place in college where we weren’t supposed to say “Sorry about that” because it sounded “insincere.” My friend worked down the street at a western-themed hamburger place where she had to say “Howdy, Pardner!” to greet people at the drive-through.

    2. Ali + Nino*

      Probably to maintain an air of “positivity.” At one job our boss recommended we sign off emails with “If you have any questions…” but not “If you have any questions or concerns” because the latter might prompt a client to come up with something they’re unhappy about.

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      *sigh* If someone told me “hazards were not detected” I would be wondering “OK, where are the hazards hiding?” I suppose “zero hazards were detected” or “we detected no hazards” wouldn’t have been acceptable either.

    4. Emily Byrd Starr*

      The only thing that I can think of is that he thought someone might mistake it for the abbreviation for number.

      1. Evan Þ*

        Or, conceivably, a speck of dust might be mistaken for a comma?

        “No hazards were detected.”
        “No, hazards were detected.”

      2. lazuli*

        I actually wondered if he had heard/read somewhere that sentences shouldn’t start with numerals, and he confused “numerals” with “nos.” with “No” somehow.

    5. Abundant Shrimp*

      I had a boss who told me (and a few others) off when during meetings, when asked a question, we’d start our answer with “I think”

      “You should KNOW”

      Sir, we are SWEs. We are paid to think.

    6. Little Miss Sunshine*

      I remember reading one of my daughter’s syllabi when she was still in high school and the teacher had a very long list of “DO NOT…”. I hated the woman before I ever laid eyes on her. I rewrote the list in a more positive tone to demonstrate for my daughter how you can completely change the tone by simply rewording the rule, and thus be more successful in persuading your audience and influencing behavior. I suspect this rule from your manager is a perversion of this guideline.

  45. Call Center*

    I worked at a call center during graduate school and like every call center they were about calls per hour and time away from your phone. We had scheduled bathroom breaks and if you went to the bathroom before your scheduled break you had to stay 5 minutes late. We didn’t accrue vacation or sick time, but we’d accrue “credit points” and every credit point was worth 30 minutes of PTO and you could only accrue four credit points a month. Every time you called out or scheduled time off, you used credit points. If you called out two days in a row, your credit points were all eliminated regardless of how much time you’d accrued. They had a policy of not accepting FMLA, doctor’s notes, or allowing bereavement leave. They also strongly recommended pregnant employees quit. That was only seven years ago.

    1. Ostrich Herder*

      Four credit points a month? At 30 minutes a pop? You could accrue a maximum of TWO HOURS off a month? A day off every four months, if you didn’t use a single one of your ‘points’ before then? I’m absolutely gobsmacked.

    2. Anon for this*

      Oh I’ve remembered one! At my partner’s call center job, there was a married couple who were both on the phones there. When the wife got up to use the bathroom, she would wave at her husband as she went by his desk. That’s it – just a wave, no chatting. It’s a small room so you basically have to go by everyone to get to the bathroom. The Powers that Be didn’t like her having such a fun time on her way to the bathroom that they wrote her a prescribed route to the bathroom that wouldn’t go near her husband’s desk. You know, so she wouldn’t be stealing from the company by…waving to her husband.

    3. lilsheba*

      This is why I will never work for a call center again, especially for a bank *cough WF cough* They treat you like children and make it a huge pain in the butt to take pto, bitch at you about going to the bathroom outside of your scheduled breaks, it was impossible to ever get a day off on a holiday. It used to be ok in the 90s and early 2000s but now it’s demoralizing and will make you want to go live on another planet.

  46. Reedy*

    When working at well known private university (you’ve definitely heard of it) you had to apply for a posted job to get a promotion/raise. So that means even after your boss approved your raise or promotion, you had to wait for HR to open a new job posting, post it on their public jobs board, keep it open for 30 days, go through all of the hoops of applying (cover letter, resume, application which was about 100 questions long and mostly just rehashing your resume) and then wait for HR to decide you were a good fit. Again, this was after all the internal approvals and sign-offs with HR and finance and your boss had already happened. Sometimes they required a phone screen. Even if your job title wasn’t changing and you were literally just getting a small salary bump, you had to complete this process and reapply for your job. When I asked I was told it was an effort to “keep everything fair.”

    1. Brain the Brian*

      Sigh. We used to do this where I work (aside from annual COL increases). A new HR director eliminated it a couple of years ago, thank goodness.

    2. Cyndi*

      This happened to me at my old job except that the “promotion” was to the job I was already doing, to solve a bureaucratic mixup where I somehow had a job title a level below my teammates and was in a lower salary band as a result. My manager and I both thought this was incredibly goofy but HR insisted.

    3. JS*

      We do “re-classify” which involves proving you’re doing a certain amount of extra work and already doing it before you get the title change. Which does not always come with actual pay. *roll eyes*

    4. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

      Even for just a raise? Did you have to do this once a year or did they at least give COL increases?

    5. Ama*

      I’ve heard of so many institutions that do this.

      One institution where I knew several researchers (I work at a nonprofit research funder), that research unit got tired of losing all their good admins every couple of years, so they would just arrange to basically do musical chairs with the admins — they’d all just get “rehired” at the promoted level and work for different researchers but at least within the same department so they at least knew how all the department level processes worked. It also had the added bonus that if admins went on vacation or leave it was way easier for the other admins to cover for them.

  47. Chalant AF*

    I worked for a financial services firm that made it a standard practice to lie to financial advisor candidates and tell them that they were interviewing for a regional director job, “but it’s a technicality that you have to spend a little time being a financial advisor at one of our offices first.” There was never a regional director job opening — it was all an act to flatter their egos and get them in the door. My audits with these folks were always very awkward when they would explain condescendingly that I shouldn’t waste too much time on them because they were only here until their REAL job started…

      1. linger*

        Guessing a new “regional director” ad went out for a new short-term financial advisor; rinse and repeat…

  48. Harper*

    At my last company, we manufactured personal care products (in the U.S.) and had a European customer that required employees in the manufacturing area to wear hairnets. Then, the company I worked for ended the relationship with that customer. No other customers required hairnets, and no companies who made similar products in the industry required their employees to wear hairnets. But two director and VP-level people at our corporate office (in another state) wanted to keep the hairnets because they thought it made the employees look “serious” about the quality of the products, and would impress customers when they visited (which was typically less than 3 or 4 times a year, total). The manufacturing area wasn’t properly air conditioned, and the style of hairnets actually trapped a considerable amount of heat against the wearer’s head. Making employees miserable every day for appearances’ sake and to impress customers 3-4 times a year, who didn’t even care to begin with, was the absolute dumbest reason for a policy I’ve ever heard.

  49. MikeM_inMD*

    My company has a large pack of annual mandatory training courses. You’re required to do it in your birth month. Yeah, nothing says “happy birthday!” like 16 hours of boring powerpoints presentations, where over half of it has no bearing on your actual job.

      1. MikeM_inMD*

        Unfortunately, it’s tied to your birth *month*. The bureaucracy doesn’t play “The Pirates of Penzance” game.

    1. Ama*

      ooh I would extra hate this at my current job where I spend one week of my birth month running an out of state conference every year so I’d have one fewer week to do this.

    2. Annie*

      Wow, not even a “We can’t schedule based on date of hire because we don’t hire continuously throughout the year, and we can’t schedule everyone’s training for the same time of year because of limited availability of training resources or competing demands with other job duties” justification?

      1. MikeM_inMD*

        Ironically, my start date is the day before my birthday. But using that *might* remove the feeling of being served a slice of birthday cake with onion icing.

  50. AC*

    I once had a salaried job where you would get comp time for coming on time and staying late, but not coming in early and staying until your usual end time. It didn’t matter what your shift was.

    This worked out great for the people who worked from 8am-4pm and were quarterly asked to stay until 6pm. Not so great for me and some others, who regularly worked 10am-6pm, and were quarterly asked to come in at 8:00am and stay until our usual 6:00pm.

    At the end of the day, we’d all work the same 10 hours. But nope, the policy only gave comp time to those who stayed late.

    1. Comp time anon*

      I worked a salaried job where we got comp time (up to a cap that I quickly hit, but it was nice to not use PTO for occasional appointments, so that was fine). I was then transferred to work under a different manager at the same job who thought all comp time had to be approved two weeks in advance and didn’t like doing that. He switched me to a different compensation system, so I lost those accrued hours and wasn’t paid for them. That was probably wrong, but after confirming that there hadn’t been a mistake, I wasn’t in a position to rock the boat.

      We all worked the same hours under this new manager, we just didn’t get comp time or any schedule flexibility. Come in an hour early, leave an hour late, and want to take 45 minutes instead of 30 for lunch? That’s 15 minutes of PTO. I would’ve been okay with that system except that I’d had years of being more productive in the same job without that degree of clock-watching.

  51. ConstantlyComic*

    My first job was at a state historic site that was a moderately popular tourist destination. We were open Tuesday-Saturday, while some other sites were open Monday-Friday, and of course we were closed for holidays. One year the 4th of July fell on a Saturday, and the state said for us to close on Friday, July 3rd, in observance of the 4th. We were then open on the actualy 4th of July.

    To this day I don’t know if the site manager didn’t have the power to close us on the 4th and was jerking the staff around by saying he was thinking about it or if he actively chose to have us be open on the actual federal holiday, but nobody was happy with him for it.

    1. Ama*

      It kind of seems like the state maybe messed this one up here and didn’t realize you guys weren’t a M-F site.

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        It was more that they were applying the same blanket policy to all sites, whether they were open Saturdays or not

    2. Cat Tree*

      Somewhat related thing happened at a previous job. This was manufacturing, but I was an engineer so I worked generally days M-F like a standard office job. The shop floor was different. They used to manufacture 24/5 with weekends off, so the union negotiated to have Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) as a paid vacation day. Eventually they moved to 24/7 manufacturing. But they still had Good Friday as a paid holiday and had to work (or take PTO) for the actual Easter day.

  52. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

    Not a policy so much as a consequence of one – absolutely no personal possessions could be left in the office overnight, not so much as a notepad or a coffee mug. This is the obvious result of a hot-desking policy when facilities hadn’t gotten around to installing lockers yet, or once they were finally installed to actually assigning them, but nobody was in any hurry to fix it – it was over a year from when the hot-desking policy was adapted until we finally got lockers assigned.

    1. lilsheba*

      That is the most horrible situation I can think of. I hate not having a personal space.

  53. RPOhno*

    I remember a former employer released a new policy that, the way it was worded, required anything any employee did outside of work that generated money to be reviewed and approved in writing by General Counsel. Not the Legal Department. Not HR or the ethics committee. General Counsel. I assume it was just unintentionally broad phrasing, but I am gleefully imagining the chief legal rep for the company being flooded with emails to the tune of “I am planning to sell my bottlecap collection on ebay. I expect to generate revenue of approximately $0.37. Please indicate in writing your approval of this action.”

    1. Bumblebee*

      Our first attempt at a Conflict of Interest policy stated “All outside-of-work activities must be approved!” Luckily there was no malicious compliance outside of some laughter . . . “tonight I’ll be at aerobics and then dinner . . .”

    2. Venus*

      I once had something similar except that it also included any volunteer activities. Thankfully they announced it in a meeting and got some quick feedback about the reality of what they were asking. Very shortly after that we were told that it should be limited to similar employment that could result in conflicts of interest, which happened to be the original policy.

  54. Magnus Archivist*

    I once worked at a museum where visitor services staff weren’t allowed to sit down or lean at the ticket counters, so we had to spend our 6-8 hour shifts standing on hard marble floors. I know it’s the same *everywhere* in American retail, but definitely a ridiculous policy.

    1. Cyndi*

      This is how my mom once got heatstroke working as a museum guard in NYC in the late 70s or early 80s. I think she loved that job otherwise, though.

    2. Ama*

      Ugh, my nonprofit work used to have our big fundraising gala in a place with marble floors and standing on those for just one evening killed my back — I can’t imagine having to do that regularly!

    3. Esmae*

      “If you’re leaning, you could be cleaning!” I used to windex my checkout counter just to make myself look busy enough.

  55. Elle*

    At my first job in an NYC museum most staff were not allowed to attend large Museum events because our appearances were not good enough for rich donors. I made $20k a year in the year 2000. All board members were million or billionaires

    1. Washi*

      I posted in one of the food threads about an annual donor event at the nonprofit I worked at as an Americorps member where we were expected to go but not allowed to eat the food.

      1. AnonORama*

        That’s RUDE to do that to the AmeriCorps! I never get to eat at our events, but at least I’m staff so I’m kind of paid a sort of semi-decent wage.

        (Side note: if you don’t want donors to see staff members sneaking a handful of trail mix into their mouth from a bag under the table they’re working — let staff eat! And OF COURSE the AmeriCorps folks.)

        1. Elle*

          But we should have been grateful that we got to work in such an important place that does such good work in the community.

  56. Lisa*

    I worked for a company once who made you plan all of your vacation days up front at the beginning of the year and wouldn’t allow them to be changed if something came up. Weirdest vacation policy I’ve ever heard of and there was literally no logical reason for it other than the person in charge was a control freak.

    1. JanetM*

      That was the policy at the grocery store where my husband worked: all vacation time for the year had to be requested by mid-February, and it had to be taken as full weeks (Sunday-Saturday) only. We missed both times his brother got married because they didn’t announce the dates a year in advance.

    2. doreen*

      Choosing the dates up front is actually pretty common in some fields , and so is possibly being unable to change if something comes up – but there’s a difference between ” You can’t change because someone else has that week and we need coverage” and “You can’t change even if no one is off the week you want to switch to. ” The latter is definitely a control freak.

    3. Lis*

      One place I worked the HR person decided to implement this policy on our site, no other site in the organisation did this. If you did change vacation days it could be allowed in certain circumstances but counted against you in your annual review. Then I started working there and pointed out that 3 months previously I had signed a contract which stated that there were notice periods required for vacation time (think one week for 1-2 days, 3 weeks for 1-2 weeks and 2 months for >2 weeks) and having to give 9+ months notice for a week off in December was definitely not in keeping with my contract.
      The policy died a quiet death that year. Was totally a power play by the HR person and when I was clear I wasn’t going to let it go, well the policy went away before it got kicked up to corporate.

  57. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

    I know that it is fairly common for business (particularly retail) to mandate that hair not be unnatural colors. However, it felt very silly when the movie theater I worked at instated the policy, given that we were required to wear branded baseball caps, and so very little of our hair was actually visible.

    1. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

      The uniform was also quite odd there, we had shirts that were issued but were allowed to wear our own black pants provided they DID NOT have pockets. I assume in order to prevent theft but it seemed like an absolutely bizarre way to do that.