my friends are entitled contractors who are overstepping work boundaries

A reader writes:

I have two friends, Drake and Josh, who I know from a retail job I had years ago. Drake and Josh work as contractors for Company A, which holds a big event at the end of every quarter. Company A holds the event across multiple cities at various venues and hires contractors to sort, pack, and ship materials out to the venues and then receive and unpack everything after the event.

During the pandemic, our local laws banned very large gatherings and Company A had to split the event into many smaller venues. As you can imagine, the logistics side of the event was greatly impacted. Instead of just one venue per city, Company A now had three venues in City A to coordinate with and had another three venues in City B and so on. Drake and Josh were hired during this time and have stayed with Company A since. Additionally, many of the event-planning employees (including Drake and Josh’s supervisor) at Company A quit during the pandemic due to how stressful it was to manage everything.

Over time, Drake and Josh have stopped seeing themselves as contractors at Company A and act as though they are employees there. Since they’ve been with Company A longer than their current supervisor, they have begun acting as though they are untouchable and have roped in newer hires into their bad behavior. A few examples include: helping themselves to leftover swag from events, complaining to the IT department that the guest wifi is too slow (they don’t have access to the internal company connection, because they aren’t staff), complaining to the facilities department that certain items in the break room are not stocked fast enough, and complaining that they do not receive certain benefits that staff do, such as transportation compensation (because, surprise, they aren’t staff!). They also regularly attend office functions that are clearly meant for staff, such as the biweekly “coffee and donuts” day or the pizza parties that Company A held to incentivize employees to return to the office. Recently the events department had ordered cupcakes for staff who were staying late, and when those staff members went to the kitchen, they found Drake, Josh, and the other contractors eating them. Another time, a completely different department had a catered lunch meeting, and Drake, Josh and the other contractors took home the leftover food, which included multiple untouched party size salads and veggie trays.

A lot of the above behavior is encouraged by Jean, a friend of Drake and Josh who works in another department at Company A. Jean doesn’t like to mingle with her colleagues and prefers to chat with her friends, which is why Drake and Josh attend the pizza parties (Drake once even attended a function on a day he wasn’t even working at Company A). She was the one to inform Drake and Josh of the leftover event swag, the leftover food, and the cupcakes, even though she has no authority over any of those things. Additionally, since Drake and Josh are very unpopular among the events staff, Jean has become disliked by association. Jean’s own manager Camilla (a friend of mine) is also resentful of her as the contractors’ behavior has made things rocky between Jean’s department and events. Jean also vents to her friends about her strained relationship with her manager, and Drake and Josh have been snarky to Camilla in their very limited interaction with her and have also spoken badly about Camilla to me (saying she mistreats Jean and the rest of the department). Drake and Josh have also repeated info from Jean that had not yet been made public, causing Camilla to receive backlash.

The time Drake and Josh have spent at Company A has also clouded their view of the real world. Jean does not have the necessary degree for her job, and was hired primarily due to a recommendation from a higher-up. Drake and Josh do not have degrees but have come to believe that they can also get hired on (Jean’s) recommendation alone, an idea that Jean has encouraged. As such, Drake and Josh have spent nearly two years wanting to leave Company A (as the work has slowed down dramatically post-pandemic) but are only applying to positions with requirements they don’t meet. They have applied to every opening at Company A (regardless of if they would be capable of doing it) and have also asked friends and me about any openings at our workplaces. The latter puts us in a difficult position as they will want to apply regardless of the qualifications and would also expect a recommendation from us, which none of us are comfortable giving knowing how they behave at Company A.

I truly want the best for Drake and Josh, and I personally believe that Jean is not good for them professionally. However, I have drifted apart from them these last few years and am not sure how to frame my concerns in a productive way. I am also not close to Jean at all, and do not feel like I can speak to her about this. On top of everything, since I am friends with Camilla, I feel like the three of them may not even listen to me as they seem to have already labelled her as toxic and will likely brush off everything that she has said to me. I have also grown a bit resentful watching Drake and Josh over the past few years and feel they are much too old to be acting this way (they are in their 30s!). I’m afraid that these negative emotions will all come out if I try to speak with them.

You don’t need to care or even think about 99% of this!

You don’t work at Company A! If Drake and Josh are overstepping boundaries for contractors, their employer can deal with that if they want to. But their employer might not care. A lot of what you described isn’t a big deal at all: it’s not uncommon for contractors to be allowed to help themselves to leftover swag or food. It’s not a big deal that they notified IT that the guest wifi is slow (especially if they ever need to use it for their work — if they do, it’s actually relevant info IT needs). Complaining that the break room isn’t stocked quickly enough does sound like A Bit Much, but there could be context there we don’t have; it’s not a shocking outrage either way.

It’s true that a lot of companies try to preserve clear differences between employees and contractors for legal reasons* (including things like not inviting contractors to some office functions), because the more they blur that line, the more they’re at risk of the government reclassifying their contractors as employees and making them pay back taxes on their pay. But others don’t. At many companies, it would be absolutely fine for contractors to help themselves to cupcakes, take home leftover veggie trays, and attend office functions; no one would care.

But regardless of whether this is a problem at Company A or not … you’re a friend who doesn’t work there, so it’s not something you need to devote any thought to! Josh and Drake aren’t committing any terrible sins. Being upset about this from outside the company is akin to being upset that your friend who doesn’t work with you is, I don’t know, coding database entries differently than you would or not contributing anything to their team potluck. It’s not something that affects you or is relevant to your friendship! If their boss cares, their boss will address it.

Now, maybe you happen to know that their company does care. You mentioned that Josh and Drake aren’t well-liked by the rest of the events staff, and maybe everyone there is outraged and complaining about all the same stuff that’s in your letter. But again, if that’s the case, Company A should be addressing it. If they’re not, that’s on them. It’s not anything you as a friend need to care about.

I can understand worrying that your friends are setting themselves up for bad outcomes, but since you mentioned you’re no longer close to them, that’s not something you’re positioned to address. “Drifted apart in the last few years” put this squarely in the “not yours to address” bucket.

It sounds like you’re getting drawn into all of this because you’re friends with Camilla, Jean’s manager, and she complains to you about it. If Camilla has a problem with Jean’s behavior, she should address it with Jean; that’s her job. If Drake and Josh’s behavior is causing problems for Camilla or her department, she can speak with whoever manages them. But these are all Camilla’s work battles — they shouldn’t be yours just because you’re friends with some of the people involved.

It’s absolutely your prerogative to decide that based on what you’ve heard about Drake and Josh, you wouldn’t refer them for openings at your own employer.

And if you just don’t like Drake and Josh that much anymore, it makes sense to pull back from the friendships.

But you are getting very overly invested in relatively minor work drama at someone else’s company. Decide not to care and set yourself free!

* For what it’s worth, I’m curious about whether Drake and Josh should even be classified as contractors at all. If they’re W2 employees of a contracting company that placed them there, this is legal. If they’re 1099 contractors, they might be right to be annoyed. I can’t say for sure without more info, but I have questions about whether Company A is handling that legally.

{ 303 comments… read them below }

  1. Retail Dragon*

    I’m baffled as to why LW would call Drake and Josh friends in the first place. They don’t sound like anyone I’d even want to admit to knowing.

    1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      They also sound like the kind of people who will throw anyone under the bus when necessary. I’d keep my distance and if asked just say you knew them in passing years ago.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Agreed, they sound like they’re maybe a bit obnoxious at work and that’s all we can say. No moral concerns, not even any indication that they’re obnoxious outside of work.

      2. Gemstones*

        Me either. If someone offered me cupcakes and invited me to pizza parties, I’d probably take them up on it.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This. I may be literal minded but if an employee invited me, I’d assume said invite was legit.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          The cupcake thing is the only one that sounded like an overstep. It seemed like the cupcakes were intended for a specific group that they were not part of, and they helped themselves before the intended recipients?
          Everything else could be an issue or could be normal depending on more details we don’t have.

        3. OMG, Bees!*

          Yup. As a contractor to a few companies, I have rarely been invited, but it has happened a few times which I have taken them up on. Same for lunch for employees offered to me as well (sometimes). I make sure to never take too much, but have been emphatically encouraged to have lunch same as the employees.

          Some of this sounds like LW simply thinks that as contractors, those 2 shouldn’t partake in things but perhaps they have been encouraged by Company A to do so.

          (Caveat: I have also worked at company as a contractor where provided lunch ran out 1 time and an employee didn’t food before contractors, so the company changed to the rules that no contractors are allowed company provided food. Some people take draconian rules on contractors vs employees)

      3. Crooked Bird*

        I didn’t either, but they do give off a general aura of not giving a s***. I don’t like them very much.

        1. Siege*

          They give off that air in the words of a person who seems pretty frustrated by their behavior. I think it’s compatible with taking LWs at their word to pay attention to when that word might represent an emotional reaction others wouldn’t or don’t share. For all any of us know, everything Drake and Josh are doing is within totally normal parameters for their employer.

      4. No white, no green*

        The two contractors have done nothing wrong and LW sounds like a real busybody.

      5. JustAnotherCommenter*

        IMO whether they’re jerks or not really comes down to a lot of little nuances that OP isn’t privvy to.
        Like the taking swag thing or the leftover meeting food – A lot of places prefer their staff to get first dibs on things like that so if that’s the situation and they’re “cutting the line” then that’s uncool and they seem entitled. If it’s a total free for all and they’re not giving anyone else a chance to have fist dibs, also very uncool behaviour. etc etc.
        BUT there are plenty of companies where the attitude is “please please please take this, no one here wants to deal with it”
        Without knowing the attitude of their employer it’s hard to truly assess if they’re just happy to use a perk offered to them or if they’re overstepping.

        Personally? Based on the frequency of the behaviour described it sounds a little selfish to me, but nothing particularly serious and certainly not problematic enough to get as worked up as OP is.

      6. Random Dice*

        Funny, I thought the LW was the nightmare.

        Gasp, they took a crappy branded pen, expected that they would have the tools they needed to do job, and acted like human beings.

        Oh no.

        I used to be a contractor and got so sick of awful people like this acting like I was sub-human. One time I was included in the monthly communal birthday cake, and I actually teared up. It was such a shock to be treated like a human being.

        1. Shakti*

          Same! I Keith waiting for the real reason they were an issue and there was nothing! I’m baffled as to why LW cares at all??

          1. Sarah Mlynowski*

            Yeah, LW is so hard on BEC mode that she’s lost perspective. “They ate the food that was for REAL employees, not lowly contractors” is a pretty bad look.

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

              A “real” employee (scare quotes intended) getting so riled up about contractors eating cupcakes is a bad look. The fact that LW isn’t even an employee at the company is ridiculous.

    2. Leenie*

      Huh. I might not like them if I knew them. But I just read a long litany of very, very small sins, some of which may not be sins at all, none of which are actually the LW’s business. In any event, it didn’t amount to anything that I would find to be shameful by association.

    3. Mad mad me*

      Really? I’ve been events staff for years and these guys sound like most of the contractors I’ve worked with. Nothing they’ve done sounds that egregious to me!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, that’s all I get from this letter. All we have is an exhaustive list of behaviors that may or may not be annoying, depending on whether or not they’re allowed.

      2. N C Kiddle*

        Yeah, we have no information about whether they’re objectively bad people, but it seems like LW doesn’t really consider them friends and she should disengage for everyone’s good.

    4. JSPA*

      As with many “drama by proxy” situations that sound like the plot of an essentially plotless TV comedy series, it’s pretty hard to figure out where-all the drama is rooted, and who-all is leaning in on it. But as the LW is the one who’s asking, and is at complete liberty to say, “not my clowns, not my circus,” they’re the one who should excuse themselves from caring, or even knowing about all this. Change the channel.

  2. Eldritch Office Worker*

    “I have also grown a bit resentful watching Drake and Josh over the past few years and feel they are much too old to be acting this way (they are in their 30s!).”

    It’s going to be so much better for your mental health if you drop this notion. The worst offenders at my company are in their 50s. You’ll find more and more frustrating and obnoxious people as you go – they don’t disappear once you’re an adult.

    1. ferrina*

      Truth. Age does not automatically bestow maturity and wisdom. Those are things that must be built and chosen.

    2. Not OK Boomer*

      Ha, so true. The previous team I managed had staff ranging from their late 20s to around 60. The younger folks were the least drama prone, most professional, and happiest with their jobs. I spent an inordinate amount of time talking down the Boomers when they’d get worked up over perceived slights from coworkers and external partners. Of course they were much better paid than the younger folks and theoretically SMEs in their areas, but had all kinds of time to police when people came/left, and to laboriously document all the “unfairness” they encountered.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Anne Rice has one elder vampire explain to a younger Lestat that vampires, like people, become more of who they are, rather than grow into someone new.
      Petty, selfish people become more petty and selfish.
      Immature young people who think that work is about hanging out with friends and sticking it to “the man” become cranky old people who spend more time complaining about a task than doing it.
      This is simplified, I admit.
      But for people who are never challenged, allowed to stay in a safe space, gifted with health and circumstance, it happens.
      Drake and Josh have been working together for over a decade. They have not been fired. In fact they have progressed. Why would they change?

      1. Pam*

        vampires, like people, become more of who they are, rather than grow into someone new

        This is wisdom I was not expecting from a source I was not expecting. Adding this to my “to read” list.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          There’s a fantastic passage where the vampire Armand explains to Louis why there aren’t a lot more vamps in general, given how long vampires have been around: he basically asks him how many people/vamps really have the stamina for immortality?

          What most people want from immortality is to freeze their own time, and perceptions of it, into place. But of course that never happens–the mortals they know die, tech moves on, cities remake themselves, until they are stranded in a strange land with no way to relate to it. That speech always hit me for its essential truth.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            Same. I read it thirty years ago.
            I think about it every time I am with my friends and we ignore the modern world just by talking to each other.
            I have an iPhone, a tablet, a laptop. I stream TV. I have social media accounts. I bank online; I shop online.
            Because it is THE time.
            But this is not MY time.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      It’s definitely true that people without much (or any) work experience are more likely to misjudge work norms. Age is often used as a proxy for this, even though there are 20-year-olds who’ve worked since they were 15 and 30-year-olds who went for advanced degrees who haven’t started working yet.

      On the other hand, 10 years of work experience in a toxic workplace with cliques and no meaningful mentorship/performance feedback will teach you some really screwy work norms…

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Yeah I had a weird moment with this concept recently. I called my former teammate young and hungry, then I remembered we’re both the same age (early 30s). The difference is I have 12 years experience to his 2, and he hasn’t been beaten down by bureaucracy yet.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      One thing I’ve found to hold true with the drama-prone among us: they basically live life like it’s a soap opera, and since mysterious murders and lengthy trials don’t usually go over well in the workaday world, they substitute office supply theft and nattering over who got invited to what pizza party.

      Now, sometimes those can be real problems–theft IS theft, and if people who don’t work at the company are gobbling up the slices meant as reward for the employees, that’s a real issue. But rather than wanting to fix these things, the DP are far more likely to escalate them to seemingly world-shattering heights, just to get that rush.

    6. Sleeve McQueen*

      Never wanted any LW to take the phrase “not my monkeys, not my circus” to heart than this letter. You don’t even know if there is any monkeys

  3. Seashell*

    Too long, didn’t finish reading because I kept expecting to get to the point where it explained why this mattered to LW and never did. The answer seems to support my conclusion.

    1. Reality.Bites*

      But not reading it all you (and I) missed the most important part – OP doesn’t work for this company. None of it has any bearing on them at all!

      It’s like me complaining the coffee isn’t hot enough at McDonald’s when I don’t eat at McDonald’s and don’t drink coffee!

      1. Miette*

        And considering how infamously hot McDonald’s coffee actually is, your hypothetical complaint has about as much relevance as OP’s LOL

        1. Not on board*

          If you’re referring to the coffee lawsuit – then McDonald’s coffee WAS too hot. I believe it isn’t anymore.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            According to Wikipedia… maybe not? They seem to have switched to more rigid cups instead to reduce the risk of spillage.

            Which is personally alarming, since the lawsuit was about coffee hot enough to literally burn the skin off within 3 seconds.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              This is a great place to recommend the podcast “You’re Wrong About.” They did an episode on the lawsuit and the media/social backlash! It was really interesting.

            2. Not on board*

              yeah, that is alarming. The number of people who still believe this was a frivolous lawsuit proves that McDonald’s PR really does a great job.

          2. Random Dice*

            That story is a nightmare. I had no idea that anyone would sell coffee so hot to do that much damage, through multiple layers of clothes, to that poor woman’s genitalia. It’s honestly a deeply traumatic story, and the fact that people laugh about her mutilation and agony is a testament to how brutal McDonald’s PR team is.

            1. Boof*

              Honestly i think it’s more just indicative how folks who treat women who complain in general; assume they are whiny frivolous entitled “karens” or whatever without bothering to even do a cursory look at the facts before passing judgment
              Uhhh but in This specific letter i’m gonna agree op not your circus, not your monkeys

            2. MigraineMonth*

              I absolutely agree that McDonald’s should have paid the poor woman’s medical bills from the start (or better yet not waited until there were more than 700 reports of burns to fix the super-hot-coffee situation). It’s also disgraceful that anyone would joke about such serious injuries or say that she gave herself 3rd-degree burns over 16% of her body just for money.

              However, I don’t think that clothing layers are generally protective against hot liquid burns. In my (fortunately limited!) experience, if there’s enough liquid to soak through multiple layers, then you can get a more serious burn in the time it takes to get the multiple layers off than it would to take off just one.

      1. Heidi*

        I was wondering if the OP was actually related to Drake, Josh, or Camilla or is in some other kind of involuntary relationship with them. It would explain why they feel obligated to do something. I remember there was another letter like that; the OP described a situation among a group of friends and everyone advised them to stay out of it, but then in the update, it turned out that the OP was married to one of the people involved, which means they did have a social/financial stake in all of it that would have totally changed the advice. It might also be one of these small communities where everyone knows each other.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Marriage and other involuntary relationships…

          At the very least, OP should ask their friends to stop whining to them about their other friends. This isn’t “I found out your other friend is a predator/immoral/scamming you”, this is just petty. If my friend “Alice” told my that my other friend “Barbara” helped herself to an employees-only cupcake at work , I would be seriously reconsidering my friendship with “Alice”.

          1. Heidi*

            OMG – I was thinking that maybe the OP was cousins or in-laws with Drake or Josh, so she can’t really and truly cut them off as if they were just friends. Not that marriage is involuntary. :)

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Couldn’t be bothered to read, but still feels the world needs your uninformed opinion. How does this help the letter writer?

      1. no tea*

        Because it could be the blunt wakeup that the LW needs. None of this is their business and they wouldn’t even know about any of it if Camilla weren’t blabbing about how she can’t manage her own staff properly. It’s so MYOB territory that it should come with its own stamp.

      2. Leenie*

        Honestly, I did power through it, but was tempted to declare it TLDR myself. It’s so long, and filled with details that are supposed to be outrageous, but never really get there. And then to get to the punchline, which is that the LW doesn’t work at the same company and isn’t actually impacted by any of this at all. It’s a lot.

        1. GrumpyCat*

          yeah – honestly OP, the goings-on at Company A are not interesting, dramatic or shocking enough to make it worth this much investment on your part. I don’t really understand why any of it bothers you. Some people you used to be friends with might ask you to refer them to your company but you don’t want to? Then don’t. That’s the only part of the letter that seems to touch on anything relating to you at all. Just ignore the rest

      3. Gemstones*

        I’m not sure the LW needs help solving this situation. This is the very definition of “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

        1. duinath*

          yep. in the end, this is neither lw’s circus nor their monkeys, and life will be easier if lw just nods and smiles and moves the conversation along when camilla vents about this. it seems to bug lw enough that they probably should not be the sounding board for this.

      4. Please remove your monkeys from my circus*

        Just popping in to say that your screen name has given me the most delightful ear worm. Thank you!

      5. Seashell*

        Not finishing reading something is not the same as not reading it. I had a partially informed opinion.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Hyperbole, I believe. But I think it is important for OP to hear/read some version of this.
      When Camilla comes to OP with the latest escapades of Drake and Josh, s/he is vested because she knows them.
      OP. What would you tell Camilla if she came to you venting about her employee Jean and Jean’s two knucklehead employees who are being a pain in her ass? Would you sympathize with THEM or would you tell Camilla that that these guys sound like knuckleheads and Jean seems to encourage them but ultimately Camilla needs to talk to Jean about managing them?

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I don’t think that Jean manages Drake & Josh, she’s just friendly with them. Whoever is supervising the contracted workers Drake & Josh doesn’t even seem to appear in this tempest in a teapot.

    4. AnonInCanada*


      Alison should’ve provided a TL;DR: at the end: OP shouldn’t care about Drake and Josh. Not their circus, not their monkey.

      Unless OP had a childhood crush on the characters from the Nickelodeon sitcom of the same name and those two reminded OP of them. But I’m kind-of stretching it.

    5. Awkwardness*

      I didn’t finish reading either and skipped straight to the answer.

      OP, you seem way too invested on how Drake and Josh should conduct themselves. It its their work life, it is their reputation and they need to figure out on their own what they can or cannot do.

    6. OMG, Bees!*

      The main issue I got from LW’s writing is that perhaps contractors at Company A are given perks closer to employees and treated like humans who can eat the company provided lunch and attend company events instead of being shooed away like at too many other companies. Again, not LW’s issue (unless she is a contractor at her company and sees how unfair she is treated)

  4. WantonSeedStitch*

    I admit I’m kind of curious about the OP’s motivation for this letter. It doesn’t affect them professionally as they aren’t an employee of the company. They say they have drifted apart from Drake and Josh socially. I wonder if D&J are resentful that OP is friends with Camille and is no longer so pally with them, and the OP wants to get an outside opinion on the situation so they can feel comfortable with the way they’ve chosen sides.

    1. ABC*

      It makes me a bit curious about how the OP feels about their own career.

      Feels like there is a lot of redirected emotion happening here.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah people tend to get overinvested in other people’s work lives when they don’t feel like they have enough control over their own

      2. Gunther Centralperk*

        The part about Jean only getting hired because she was recommended stood out to me. Assuming Jean has transferrable skills, this is pretty normal. Just like it’s pretty normal to be a long-term contractor but to still be treated like a regular full-time employee. It seems like LW is getting caught up in things being done “the right way” and is resentful/upset at Drake and Josh for doing things differently than LW would have. It’s definitely possible that Jean, Drake, and Josh are so unqualified and poorly behaved that it’s justifiably frustrating to see them get ahead. But even so…it doesn’t actually affect LW so it’s time to let it go.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          “It’s definitely possible that Jean, Drake, and Josh are so unqualified and poorly behaved…”
          meaning that Camilla’s assessment and tales of woe are correct.
          but as everyone points out, regarding OP, “so freaking what?”
          But why is Camilla telling OP all this?
          Is Camilla so overwhelmed by these three that she can’t talk about anything else?
          Maybe Camilla doesn’t want to talk about work every time she’s with OP, but OP keeps asking.

        2. FricketyFrack*

          Yeah OP’s feelings about Jean seem a little OTT to me. Oh no, she got hired because of a recommendation! Yeah, that happens a lot, and plenty of those people are perfectly good employees. Oh no, she doesn’t have the right degree! Many people get degrees and then never work in that field. A lot of people don’t have any degree at all and manage to be perfectly competent.

          Like where is the issue here? I suspect OP just wants reasons to criticize Jean because Jean doesn’t like their friend, but it’s also totally possible Camilla isn’t a very good manager. Either way, this is a big old MYOB situation.

          1. Annie E. Mouse*

            “it’s also totally possible Camilla isn’t a very good manager”

            I think this is it right here. She can’t figure out how to manage Jean and is instead badmouthing her qualifications to LW. She can’t find a way to get through conflict with another department and is out here gossiping to LW.

            1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              “Hey, OP! You are not going to believe what Jean did for Drake and Josh! It’s just so frustrating. Yesterday, they…”
              It really does sound like Drake and Josh, where those crazy kids and their shenanigans leave the teacher with his hands in the air, “what can I do? They got me!”

      3. ferrina*

        My fan-fic is begging to be written, and I’m putting in a lot of effort to refrain.

        But yeah, OP is investing a lot of energy into something that is ultimately an Not Their Problem in the slightest way. It might be worth it to ask themself why.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I think OP has known these guys for a long time, they all used to be friends, now they’re not as close and OP can maybe see their behavior more clearly than before. Maybe they are ashamed they used to be friends with them? Or see themselves as having “grown up” and Drake and Josh have not and is resentful that they’re not seeing consequences for their behavior.

      1. Reality.Bites*

        But there’s very little objectionable about Drake and Josh anyway. Especially to someone who is barely even an acquaintance anymore. We are talking about someone worried that contractors for a company are getting pizza and doughnuts and no one is stopping them.

    3. Ink*

      Could be this, my initial feeling was that someone or multiple someones) have been bringing this to their door a bit too much. Either way, definitely time to be starting a slow fade or frankly telling them that OP’s sorry they’re so fristrated about work, but isn’t able to continue participating in so much venting and would like to change the subject!

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      It feels like that one friend you had in high school/college who got WAY too invested in their daily soap opera and would rant and rave about the plotlines until you started Googling “how to tell someone they need to touch grass” on your phone whenever you talked to them…

      1. JSPA*

        Yes! exactly the same, “deeply invested in inane mundanities because of Meaningful Pauses, Swelling Music, and having watched it for years, and am ready to spill” vibe.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      That is actually my major take away from this letter? Why did the LW write an epically long letter about people she doesn’t work with?

      A few thoughts (1) LW is somehow involved in the scenario/company and is masking her position (2) LW actually hates and/or incredibly jealous of Drake and Josh so this is an opportunity to complain about them and get Alison to agree (3) Camille spends A LOT/too much time venting to the LW about Drake and Josh.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        I think OP wanted to know wether they should give a referral given what they “know”. OP doesn’t seem to want to give the referral and probably needs help navigating that since D&J view OP as a friend, but OP no longer feels the same.

        1. JSPA*

          But there’s no useful referral to be made!

          “I vaguely still know some friend group guys who are demanding a referral, but I have zero recent first-hand work knowledge” is neither helpful nor unhelpful.

          The LW has zero reason to involve themselves further, zero wish to involve themselves further, but most importantly, zero basis on which to do so.

          It’s not the LW’s job to help the guys get hired by making up positive first hand knowledge. It’s even more not their job to try, based almost entirely on hearsay, to prevent them from getting hired.

          If, “here are names of two people who have names, we worked at Dairy Queen together when we were in high school, they were nice enough dudes back then” gets them extra consideration, the LW’s company has a hiring problem.

    6. works with realtors*

      It feels more like Ask A High School Guidance Counselor. LW, it’s ok to not like everyone, just as I suspect (because this is a universal truth!!!) that not everyone likes you. I’m sorry that this has seeped into your brain, but I think something else is at play besides these actions.

    7. ThatOtherClare*

      It reads to me like a perfect letter for Captain Awkward’s blog. Perhaps the letter writer got their columnists mixed up? Alison had an excellent reply for the workplace side of things, but I’d be fascinated to know if Jennifer could add anything to the friendship side of it.

  5. ABC*

    I can practically feel the anger radiating off of this letter.

    You would feel much, much better if you took ten steps back from this, LW, and declined to discuss any of it with any of the involved parties any further.

  6. I should really pick a name*

    The LW seems to know way too much about this seeing as they don’t work for Company A.

    The only real relevant thing is how to handle recommendations/referrals.
    “I’m sorry, but I’m not able to provide a recommendation. It’s been years since we’ve worked together, and that was a retail position, so it doesn’t really apply to this job.”

    And if they push “I’ve already given my answer, so let’s move on. Did you see the game last night?”

    1. Momma Bear*

      I agree. That’s the only part that pertains to LW. The rest is all things that Camilla may not be happy about but are Camilla’s to resolve. There is no cheese down the path of LW getting actively involved with people they no longer work with, associate with, or even like.

    2. LCH*

      How normal is it for friends to ask someone to act as a reference? I’ve had it happen for people I’ve never worked with and just wonder, are they asking me to lie or is this normal?

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        It depends! There are a few jobs for which a character reference is a thing. I might ask my best friend of 30 years to act as one, even though he and I have never worked together.

        1. LCH*

          good point, i did do that for a friend years ago when they were apply for the bar. but i’ve had people who are basically acquaintances ask. and it’s like, how on earth could i answer any questions about you.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        I don’t think they’re asking you to lie, I think they’re just trying to get any advantage that they can.

        They’re probably just hoping that all you need to do is click the referral button, or maybe they think that a personal reference is sufficient.

      3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I’d say that there’s a big difference between acting as a reference and providing a referral. It would be weird to me if my best friend asked me to be a reference (even though we did tangentially work together years ago). But if we were still in the same field, it wouldn’t be at all strange to me if she asked me to refer her to an open position at my company, or listed me as someone she knew. And in that case, I would low-key provide a reference, but it would be along the lines of, “Elly has a great work ethic and sunny personality. We were distant coworkers eight years ago, and while we didn’t work closely together most of the time, I know that everyone loved her. Personally, I also think that she’s a wonderful person and a lot of fun to be around.”

        But I have also provided referrals like, “I took one class with Melody in college and don’t really remember her, but she’s made herself a massive pain in the ass over the course of a ten-message LinkedIn exchange. I’m mentioning her name to you so that I can tell her I did and she’ll stop pestering me, but I honestly can’t recommend that you hire her.”

        1. LCH*

          yeah.. makes sense. none of those things applied in my situation so it seems like it was a really weird ask. not my org, didn’t know the hiring manager, never worked together, never took a class together. it was just a job generally in my field that i had forwarded to someone who was job searching.

      4. MigraineMonth*

        I also think that a lot of people don’t know the gospel of AAM and wouldn’t think twice about referring/asking for a referral from someone they haven’t worked with. You know each other, that should be enough, right?

        They probably also don’t write cover letters and send generic “thank you” notes for interviews, if at all.

      5. Marvel*

        It’s very normal in my industry, where soft skills are highly valued—the kind you can get a sense for just by knowing the person. I’m always careful to say that I haven’t been around them in a work context, though.

    3. hbc*

      I think they know too much, but probably less than they think. This is apparently alllll coming from Camilla, who has a pretty limited view on things. For example, does Camilla really know that contractors are deliberately excluded from cupcakes, or are they welcome and someone keeps screwing up and sending the email notifications to a Real Employee list? Does she really know that they went whining and complaining to IT, or did they get asked to perform a task and honestly reported that they couldn’t because of a connection timeout on the guest wifi?

  7. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    LW – repeat to yourself Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.

    If Camilla tries to vent to you ask,, do you want to just vent or do you need advice? Then decide if you still want to hear the venting. Its okay if you don’t.

    Drifting away from Drake and Josh will make this seem easier as you move on from the alleged friendship. If they pester you for job openings, oh darn didn’t see that email/text whatever. You are not required to respond to unwanted requests for help you don’t want to give.

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        Not my duck pond, not my ducks.

        I have mybhands full getting my OWN ducks in a row. I don’t need to be worrying about someone else’s ducks!

  8. Pink Candyfloss*

    This falls firmly into the Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys category of how much LW should care. Great advice!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Agree! LW, I encourage to embrace the freedom to not care because this isn’t my responsibility. It’s quite refreshing!

  9. Bog Witch*

    LW, nothing that you’ve written is in your purview at all. Frankly, it is deeply strange that you’re so invested in this. You need to do some serious self-examination and figure out what is actually bothering you.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      The part where Drake and Josh are asking for OP’s recommendation and trying to get a job at their company is in their purview. Maybe be a little less judgey? It’s not that strange, much less “deeply strange”.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          The OP wrote:

          They have applied to every opening at Company A (regardless of if they would be capable of doing it) and have also asked friends and me about any openings at our workplaces. The latter puts us in a difficult position as they will want to apply regardless of the qualifications and would also expect a recommendation from us

          Drake and Josh have asked OP about openings at their workplace. If the OP thinks they will also ask for a recommendation, I am inclined to believe the OP on that (because they have known Drake and Josh for years, and I don’t).

          1. Office Lobster DJ*

            Sure. The comment I was replying to made it sound like they have already asked for recommendations. I’m all for being prepared for potentially awkward situations, but there’s also truth in “don’t borrow trouble.”

      1. Leenie*

        LW can decline to offer a referral without getting completely enmeshed in the goings on at a company that she’s not related to, primarily involving people that she’s no longer close to.

      2. GrumpyCat*

        yeah, its strange. D&J ask OP for a referral, OP can say no. There’s no need for OP to be so outraged by them taking snacks from the kitchen (which contractors are often allowed to do anyway).

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          yeah, its strange.
          Seconding this.
          They worked together in retail ten years ago. Why does OP think she’d be asked?
          “Hey, OP, Drake just applied and says he knows you. Is this true?”
          “Yes, we were cashiers at Store-staurant in 2015.”
          Full stop.
          If it even happens. OP is not in a position to give a recommendation. HR/hiring person isn’t going to waste time asking someone who was basically a work friend for reference.

    2. Spargle*

      I can see getting roped in to external drama if OP hears about it all the time and knows the people involved, which she does. And then one day, the internet serves up AAM, and she thinks “hey, maybe AAM can help me help the people I know about this issue that I know about!”

      Not deeply strange, and certainly not deserving of a chiding directive to go do “some serious self-examination”. Sometimes we humans get caught up in other people’s stories without it being a reflection on our own situations.

      1. Ash*

        Yeah there’s a surprising amount of condescending views toward the LW. To me it sounds like LW hears about all of this drama from the ppl they know at Company A. And ppl get invested in workplace drama. We all do lol

        1. Phryne*

          No, we most certainly don’t. I can’t imagine why I would ever care a quarter this much about people taking snacks from the break room of a company they have been working for for several years, let alone spend the time to compose this epistel of petty complaints.
          LW needs to detach and move on, that is not being negative, that is literally the advice they are getting and need to take.

            1. Phryne*

              yes, for the advise for actual workplace problems, not the local gossip circuit of a random company.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          If we weren’t invested in others’ workplace drama . . . we wouldn’t be on this site!

          1. GrumpyCat*

            true, but this story is very lacking in actual drama, that’s why I and many others are struggling to understand why OP is so invested

          2. Marvel*

            I’m not sure “enjoy reading about” = “invested in.” I can close AAM whenever I want, and thoughts about it do not typically linger in my mind! (Unless it’s relevant to something in my own life that I AM invested in, of course—but that’s more about me and my situation and not so much the one in the letter.) This situation certainly seems to be one that is lingering in the LW’s mind, and that kind of continuous preoccupation with drama that one isn’t involved with is often a sign of poor boundaries, in my experience. Sometimes it’s worth taking a look at your own life and questioning why something bothers you so much.

        3. Starbuck*

          OK sure yes to getting invested – but to the point of asking for advice? For what? other than a script to politely turn down the reference requests (if LW cares to keep the friendly relationship, which it’s not even clear that they do) what action could they even take here? there’s nothing for them to do.

          1. Spargle*

            Hey, when you’re in the middle of something sometimes you need an outside person to tell you it’s not your issue to manage. Which Alison did, so problem solved, issue resolved, achievement unlocked, etc.
            I just don’t think telling the OP that she needs to do some serious reflection on her own issues is warranted or kind. OP needed a redirection, and Alison took the opportunity to give a teaching moment while she was at it.

        4. tree frog*

          I think the main takeaway for the LW is to spend less time talking to Camilla about low grade cupcake drama and spend more time reading Ask a Manager. This is where the truly great work drama lives.

      2. Princess Pumpkin Spice*

        To an extent, sure. Except OP isn’t writing in for advice to give Camilla (at least how I read it). It sounds to me she wants to fix a) people she doesn’t work with, and dynamics at b) a company she doesn’t work for. OP, this is exhausting! Like others have said – you have no skin in this game, and no standing to fix anything. Camilla needs to manage Jean, not you. Camilla needs to speak with D and J, or their manager. Not you. If they ever ask for a recommendation, just say you don’t give recommendations for XYZ reasons, or you haven’t worked with them in so long your recommendation wouldn’t be accurate, or literally any excuse. But they haven’t asked, and you don’t work there, so just let it go.

  10. Office Sweater Lady*

    Contractors with long term postings are in a hard position. They spend all their working life at these companies, then are shamed for attending a coffee and donuts event? I get why this is, but if no one else has a problem with them, it seems like sour grapes to begrudge them the perks that every regular employee gets. As someone who was in this position (though didn’t complain/act as entitled as these guys), I get the impulse to want to hang out with the people who really are essentially your co-workers, even if legally this is not the case. I barely knew anyone from my contracting company, besides the other contractors who worked at the site with me, and they certainly didn’t provide us with snacks or other events. Not saying Drake and Josh’s attitude isn’t a problem, but perhaps a little more understanding for the weird position these folks are put in, particularly since it doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone else.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This is what I was thinking. Being really petty about this as an employee – rather than as management with reasoning they should be able to clearly and transparently articulate to all – comes across as wanting to have someone to look down on, like there’s an “in group” (employees, the favored, the chosen) and the “out group” (mere contractors). But I know last time I commented, I was reminded there’s freelance consultants and then there’s perma-contractors who are employed full time by a third party and the rules are different for each category of worker.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Wonan*

      I always felt bad for contractors being left out of some events. At an old job we had a contractor as the admin. She spent hour and hours working on an anniversary event, and she didn’t even get to attend because she technically wasn’t an employee.

      It’s just pizza and donuts. It doesn’t sound like staff didn’t get anything, and taking leftover untouched food that otherwise probably would have been tossed, it’s from the book of “Who cares?”

    3. HE Admin*

      I definitely thought this too. Drake and Josh are contractors, but the host company is paying their company for them to be there and work on things for the host company. They are colleagues, even if they don’t get W2s from the same place. I can’t imagine having someone being in my workspace all the time, working on joint projects, and then saying they can’t have a leftover t-shirt, or donuts, or cupcakes, because they don’t actually work with me. Drake and Josh might be A Bit Much, as Allison said, in some regards…but it also feels like they’ve hit BEC status with OP and even things that really are not a big deal are being perceived as absolutely outrageous. And OP doesn’t even work with them!

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        It’s almost literal BEC! “Look at that contractor over there eating cupcakes”

    4. Over It*

      Not allowing in-person contractors to eat free food or get leftover swag is an awful way to treat contractors! Of course they shouldn’t be hoarding these items, but those are the types of perks that should be offered to anyone working onsite, regardless of classification. And if they need wifi to do their jobs they really need access to the staff wifi; if it’s just to surf the web during downtime then that’s different. But I agree with all the comments that OP should just stay out of it since they don’t even work there. If Drake or Josh asks OP for a recommendation for a job they’re not qualified for, tell them they can’t provide the rec. Other than that, not OP’s problem to solve.

      1. Over It*

        I was an Americorps VISTA my first job out of college, and the HR director went out of her way to constantly remind everyone that the VISTAs and interns weren’t staff (I don’t remember having any contractors, but it was a while ago). I understood there were some things I wasn’t entitled to as non-staff, but it felt awful! I was full-time on-site for a year. At least I was always welcome to any food that was brought in for staff.

        1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

          This attitude is horrible for contractors but it seems *especially* horrible (like, downright cruel) for Americorps members. My husband did Americorps (but not VISTA) and he was paid pennies. This is some mean girl stuff.

          1. Starbuck*

            unfortunately it’s something Americorps itself insist upon in their training materials for site staff. their justification is that they don’t want members treated like staff – as in, using “other duties as assigned” type expectations to get members to do inappropriate and non-service related stuff like general cleaning, fundraising, assisting staff with their own projects, coffee runs, etc. it’s meant to be a protection from abuse and having them asked to do things that aren’t part of their community service mission. but there’s no reason to be mean about it!

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          That reminds me of a particular school I subbed in where the student teachers were given their own “office” and didn’t come into the staffroom. One day, somebody brought in chocolates and there were a few left at the end that nobody liked and one of the staff was like, “does anybody want any of these? No? OK, I’ll bring them up to the student teachers, so.” Like, those people were working for free and had been working there longer than I had and…they were basically being given the scraps left over. It left a pretty unpleasant taste in my mouth.

        3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          UGH. I was an Americorps for a year (not a VISTA, and IIRC VISTAs have even more stringent rules than just plain Americorps) and I was never made to feel like I “wasn’t really” staff (well, except at the end, where they messed up the funding for my position, but that was a weird edge case). I chaperoned a trip to Puerto Rico with that job!

      2. Annony*

        I agree. The main complaint about them seems to be that they feel they should be treated as employees instead of contractors. That’s not an outrageous thing to want.

    5. Momma Bear*

      In my experience, it really depends on the company. I’ve routinely been invited to events, grab coffee, etc. and generally treated like staff if I was working an on-site contract. Someone else might sign my paycheck and approve my leave but if you’re on a long contract, you become a part of the team. This happens a lot with federal contracting – you might have several different contractor companies supporting an office with just a few federally employed staff overseeing things. At one company, I was remote from my manager on paper. I had a company-associated manager at the client site, but otherwise reported to the client. I never met my “real” manager and was considered by my team to be an equal coworker. Sometimes I could not handle certain paperwork or had to make up federal holidays I wasn’t paid for, but I certainly would have been free to report wifi problems and eat snacks. Drake and Josh may be insufferable, but that’s different than their role as contractors.

      I agree that Camilla’s annoyance is her problem, and LW should step away from the drama.

      1. Over It*

        My current workplace (non-federal govt agency) gives contractors different colored lanyards from staff, and contractors can’t sign up for our benefits package. Some functions they also can’t oversee, like approvals on the fiscal side of things. Other than that, they are treated like staff! They even get emails with our gov domain, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to access anything. Drake and Josh sound a bit annoying, but some of their complaints about contractor treatment are valid.

  11. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I feel like there are two separate issues here: Camilla complaining to you, and the behaviour of some people who were formerly friends but now sound like casual acquaintances.

    For Camilla, if you don’t want to hear about any of this, I love the standard “Have you told Jean this?” approach. Especially since she’s Jean’s boss! If she has concerns, she should be addressing them with Jean because she actually has the power to do so, not complaining to you. Or complaining to you *while* addressing them with Jean, if you love to hear about other people’s workplace issues.

    For Drake and Josh: even if you still consider them to be friends, sometimes you’re going to have friends who are not a good fit for their jobs / bad employees / some other third thing. That’s not your problem to fix, ever, and it’s absolutely not worth bringing up with people you’re not even close with. If a close friend deliberately asks you for your advice about some situation at work and you think they’re damaging their reputation/career with their behaviour, sure, you can gently explain that, but these two don’t sound like close friends at all anymore.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      You know, I just realized that I think OP feels sort of responsible for Drake and Josh because Camilla is complaining to OP and OP knows the people in question. Like if someone were to complain to me about my nephew, I would probably feel like I should give him a heads up. OP is taking on a level of responsibility that they wouldn’t if Camilla were complaining about Jason and Carlos that OP doesn’t know. I think they feel like they’ve been put in the middle and need to do something.

      OP, Drake and Josh are not your responsibility. You don’t need to let them know what Camilla thinks about them – if Camilla wants them to know, she will tell them.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        ooh! The vicious cycle. Camilla wants to vent about work. OP listens. OP realizes she knows the people. She is invested. She asks Camilla about them. Camilla wants to vent about work.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah the fact that Camilla has forgotten she’s the boss in this situation was the most bizarre thing to me: Like I could see being troubled by the unstoppable venting of my friend Camilla about how her colleague Jean is leading our acquaintances astray IF Camilla was a lowly hire, and Jean was senior. Maybe. But Camilla is Jean’s boss! Has OP considered reminding Camilla of this? Has Camilla considered telling Jean to knock it off with the rogue mentor act? Is it because none of the stuff they’re doing is actually terrible, it just annoys Camilla a bit?

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          (eb, I meant that for OP about your comment, then realized it could be seen as directed to you. I agree with you. If OP really wants to help, help Camilla.)

  12. Festively Dressed Earl*

    If the friends LW is writing about gossip this much about their jobs and ‘drama’, LW should start looking for different friends.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      THIS. Why does LW know so much about the goings on at Company A? Honestly, time to step back and take a deep breath. Try a no work talk moratium and watch the change.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I actually feel like it’s pretty common to vent about work and share annoying stories from work? It’s where you spend most of your time, after all – a friend asks how your week is going, you’re often going to have a work story.

      1. Ink*

        This is a LOT to know offhand, though. Maybe stuff sticks in the LW’s head really well, but for many people knowing this much about event swag grievances implies hearing about it WAY TOO MUCH for somewhere you don’t even work.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          It’s also four years’ worth of info, though. We got it in one info dump, but LW has been getting these stories over a much longer period of time.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        True, but 1-this is A LOT for OP to know about work (swag, leftovers, gossip, etc.). Maybe dial that information back, and 2-maybe Camilla thinks OP wants to know this because OP knows D&J–but OP can also dial that back. OP doesn’t need to know generalities about D&J, much less all this very specific kvetching, and can ask Camilla to please take it down a notch or maybe can have 5′ to vent before they agree to move on. Work stories are fine, but when one person overtakes conversations with DETAILS about things, it’s too much.

        1. ecnaseener*

          OP can totally ask Camilla to stop venting about work so much, and probably should ask. That would make a lot more sense as a first step than “looking for different friends,” which is the suggestion I was responding to.

      3. Starbuck*

        yeah it’s a lot but I could probably write a post with a similar level of detail from one of my friend’s workplaces, just because they’re chatty and it’s a relatively small cast of characters. there’s nothing they (or I) need advice on, and it would be weird for me to get super invested. but just knowing this stuff, that’s normal. the only part I thought was really weird was all the stuff that didn’t make sense to have come from drake or Josh’s perspective, but it makes way more sense to have come from someone else complaining about them.

      4. Marvel*

        I dunno. As a manager, my direct reports would have to be doing something extremely egregious (and I would have to have been prevented from actually handling it) in order for me to rant about them like this. To the point where it’s hard to imagine a situation in which I would.

        It just feels icky, you know? You have all the power in that situation. If you’re so unhappy with them, use it!

  13. MY cabbages*

    “You don’t need to care or even think about 99% of this” is sterling advice for…MOST stressors, workplace or otherwise.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        It totally is. If something is not inside your circle of control, then fretting about it will do nothing except stress you out more, since by definition you cannot change it. We all like to feel in control, but truthfully, we cannot impact, influence or change most things in our lives. It’s tough to accept.

        1. Cicely*

          I dunno…I think it’s far healthier to let it out and stress a bit (vent, take a walk, etc.) than it is to not do so, which, for me, is far more stressful.

          Stress is natural and inescapable. Managing it, like sorting out things to someone else, etc., is what counts.

          1. enma*

            The LW is choosing to take on this stress needlessly, though. I would argue that it isn’t healthier to take on stress about trivial things (Drake and Josh’s behavior as described by the LW may be obnoxious but is definitely trivial) that don’t directly affect you and that you can’t do anything about (and that you have no place interfering with, either).

            Stress is natural, but it’s not inescapable. In this situation, LW is choosing to walk directly into that stress of their own volition. They are in reality far removed (physically and socially) from the situation itself.

            1. enma*

              For that matter, the LW is far removed professionally as well! They haven’t been asked to recommend Drake and/or Josh, but they’re still so worried about the mere possibility. But if they get asked to provide a recommendation, so what? The LW is under 0 obligation to do so, and given the longstanding professional and social distance between LW and Drake and Josh, it wouldn’t look strange in the slightest for the LW to decline.

              1. AngryOctopus*

                Yep, a simple “sorry, we haven’t worked closely in X years, so I’m not able to provide a referral/reference” is fine.
                I think OP is caught up so much hearing about them that they think “surely if they ask me for a recommendation I must cite all this”. Nope. OP, you no longer work with them and have not for a while. That’s the only thing you need to say. Everything else is secondhand and out of your purview, and you should stop thinking about it so much!

        2. WellRed*

          Not all stressors are outside of one’s control, though and to “not care” is impractical and likely to make it worse. For the letter writer, they can totally give themselves permission to not care.

        3. Seashell*

          There are a lot of things you can influence. You can’t control if someone is going to hire you, but there are many things you can do to make that vastly less likely.

  14. Richard Hershberger*

    I spent the bulk of the letter trying to figure out what part the LW had standing to care about. We finally got there with the two of the asking for recommendations. Everything leading up to that can be summarized as the LW doesn’t feel comfortable giving those recommendations. So don’t. The only question is what, if anything, to tell them. If the LW is willing to make a clean break with them, there is no need to tell them anything.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Heck, even if they were still hanging out, there’s no need to tell them anything. I’m sure that some of my friend group aren’t stellar at their jobs, but I don’t have standing to bring it up to them.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      I was waiting for some sort of intersection with a Company B that is OP’s employer… nope!

  15. L-squared*

    Honestly, Camilla sounds like the most unprofessional out of everyone. She is friends with you, knows you are friends with Drake and Josh, and is telling you all this drama. As well as telling you specifics about Jean and how she is perceived in the office. Not a good look for a manager.

    Also, frankly I’m not sure what your comments about degrees has to do with anything. If you don’t want to recommend them, by all means don’t. But it comes off kind of condescending. If they are able to do their job well without a degree, that shouldn’t be any of your concern.

    1. Katie Impact*

      This was my read as well. I can’t be 100% sure, but… when Drake and Josh say she’s toxic, they may have a point.

      The issues with D&J themselves all seem like petty stuff that people they actually work with may or may not care about, but that OP really, really doesn’t need to pay any attention to.

  16. Michelle*

    Could this letter have been written by the manager, Camilla, attempting to get an outside perspective? Otherwise, I don’t understand the mental investment from LW.

    1. Assistant To The Regional Manager*

      Yeah, I was wondering this too. If it is Camilla, then there’s reason to address this (or not) depending on the company and the culture. If Drake and Josh are overstepping and taking things that they’re not rightfully entitled to… like, for instance if they took the swag before other employees got the opportunity or they cleaned up the excess food before others had a chance to take some home… then it is something that can be addressed. With Jean, with the management at the firm they’re employed by, or a combination.

      But if it is truly LW who is LW and associated by friendship only, there’s no reason to step in. LW, if that’s the case, only if Camilla has a need for your advice should you step in. Then direct her to evaluate this properly. Is this a BIG deal? Is this a deal that is a minor annoyance? Is it worth bringing it to Drake and Josh’s managers?

    2. Cinn*

      I was wondering this. Like a level of plausible deniability from Camilla if it’s not anonymous enough.

      Or maybe Drake and Josh have applied to the company the LW works at regardless of any recommendations and they wanted something to help with that?

      But this is all speculation and I’m not sure how much of that we’re (not) supposed to do…

    3. ferrina*

      If this is Camilla, I’m wondering why she didn’t step up. Jean is her employee- if she has a problem with Jean, it is literally her job to address it (rather than vent to a third party). She can’t ban Jean from being friends with Drake and Josh, but she should put limits on what private/proprietary information (if any) Jean should be sharing. Beyond that, Camilla should take action for what’s in her purview, notify the appropriate managers for things outside her purview, and accept the managers’ authority if they tell her it’s not a big deal (like taking home leftover swag may or may not be a big deal- some swag gets kept and reused, but things branded specifically for the event with things like year and city are useless after the event).
      I also wonder if the hint about Jean is meant to imply that Jean is a nepo baby, but if so, why not come right out and say it? If it is Camilla writing, wouldn’t she provide more info on that? Either say it outright, or complain about Jean in some other sort of way?

      I think either OP is who they say they are (i.e., too far removed from any of this to get involved) or if this is Camilla, they are a whole different kind of inept.

  17. Antilles*

    None of this is your problem.

    If the Company A has an issue with it, they can address it. And with Drake and Josh being outside contractors, Company A could easily do so by just not renewing their contracts.

    Frankly, the only part of this that I think you have ANY potential value in bringing up is their job search. If you wanted to give them a polite reality check on that, you probably could meet up for beers, ask how their job search is going, and hear them explain what you’ve put in the letter. and Then you can respond with a soft push-back like “well, I can’t say for certain but in my experience, if the company requires a degree, it’s usually pretty rare for them to waive that” or “you’ve been looking for two years at Company A, but what about other companies, I hear there’s a lot of people hiring right now”. But that’d be about as far as you can go…and the honest reality is that kind of advice usually gets ignored anyways unless you’ve got a super close relationship.

  18. Oligarch To The Stars*

    I had to scroll back up because surely this was a letter from someone actually at the company who was personally affected by this? No? I’m scratching my head at this one.

  19. Fluffy Fish*

    “You don’t need to care or even think about 99% of this!”

    This was my first thought.

    Congrats OP – none of this is your problem! Really. Not even the recommendation part – you’re courting problems that don’t exist because they haven’t applied and they haven’t asked.

    Should that day come you can be anything from totally non-committal to whatever little white lie feels good such as “Sorry I don’t ever mix friendship and business”.

    Permission to stop letting any of this take up space in your brian.

    1. WellRed*

      They haven’t even asked for a recommendation from OP? OO my friend, you need to spend far less time engaging in all this.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        That’s how I read it. They’ve asked about openings but it seems OP and others haven’t told them about any. They say if they do apply they “would expect” not that they have expected.

        “They have applied to every opening at Company A (regardless of if they would be capable of doing it) and have also asked friends and me about any openings at our workplaces. The latter puts us in a difficult position as they will want to apply regardless of the qualifications and would also expect a recommendation from us, which none of us are comfortable giving knowing how they behave at Company A.”

  20. tabloidtainted*

    Sometimes we just have to let our friends go and be ridiculous and learn their lessons the hard way.

    1. LWH*

      This sounds like a work advice question, but it’s really a friendship question. Because this doesn’t involve LW’s work in any way, and LW doesn’t need to worry about how two grown men act at work or navigate their careers. All LW needs to worry about is how this affects their perception of them, and that’s a relationship question not a work one.

      1. ferrina*

        Not even that! OP admits that they have drifted apart from Drake and Josh in the last couple years.
        It’s more of: “I disapprove of what my acquaintances are doing with their work choices. Can I somehow insert myself?”

        Answer: No. The Oscar for Best Drama has already been given, and there is no Oscar for Most Unnecessary Drama.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          And if somehow they do ask for a reference? OP can just say “I’m sorry, we haven’t worked together in a long time, so I’m not able to provide this”. Either they 1-accept it and move on or 2-get mad, but since nobody is really friends anymore, nobody is really losing anything.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      I was waiting to hear something really egregious, something that you might feel you should do something about even if it wasn’t really any of your business, like that Drake and Josh were bullying their coworkers or neglecting safety standards (and telling new employees, “don’t bother doing that; it adds an extra hour to the job and heck, we’ve been leaving it out for the past two years and it hasn’t caused an accident yet”) or something of that level.

      I know I am probably in a different country than the LW and my job isn’t one that involves contractors so I may well be missing something, but…nothing here sounds like a big deal to me. Even if it was my workplace, I doubt I’d care. I definitely wouldn’t care about somebody else’s.

      And the person best positioned to deal with it – Camille – seems to already know so even if it was something that really needed to be dealt with, the LW could probably safely leave it to her.

  21. learnedthehardway*

    This is a situation where the OP should step away and not engage – in any respect.

    If the two contractors ask for recommendations for roles at your company, you just tell them there aren’t any suitable openings. If they put your name down as a referral, when HR contacts you, just tell HR that no, you don’t recommend them. HR isn’t going to go back and tell them so. But feel free to tell HR that you prefer to keep your non-recommendation confidential.

    With Camilla – just tell her that you really can’t discuss the issues, as you know everyone. That’s probably the best course of action.

  22. Essentially Cheesy*

    Dear OP/LW: You have outgrown Drake and Josh on every level. Time for you to move on and let them make their own trouble.

    1. Reality.Bites*

      Have they? Drake and Josh really don’t sound like people I’d have any problem being around in the workplace, while OP sounds like someone in kindergarten worrying someone got extra snacks.

  23. EmmaPoet*

    LW, it sounds like you’re hearing about the drama from both sides, and the best thing you can do about it is to get out of the middle. I’d personally choose to back off from Drake and Josh, and tell Camilla that you can listen but you aren’t really able to suggest a solution here- but whatever you do, remember that this is not your problem to solve.

    Drake and Josh may well be riding for a fall, but they sound like they don’t want to hear it, and you can’t save them from bad choices.

  24. Kacper*

    I love Alison’s advice here and also—sometimes disengaging is a lot easier said than done. I personally find it hard to understand why LW cares so much about, well, any of this really, but clearly they do, and I empathize that it’s troubling them.

    Genuinely not being flippant here when I say my main question is whether the LW has hobbies outside of work and their friendship with Camilla, Drake, and Josh. I think the energy that’s currently being invested in caring about Company A work drama could maybe be channeled into, I don’t know, volunteering or learning a new language. Anything really.

  25. LWH*

    I was extremely pleased to get to the answer for this one because “what does any of this have to do with you??” is all I was thinking the entire letter.

    Also as someone who used to work as a contractor on site, employees were constantly giving us food. Basically every catered event would have too much and they were always looking for people to take this stuff. And it sounds like Jane is inviting them to a lot of the other employee food events so…I fail to see what the problem with any of the food talk is. Occasionally departments in our office would, again, have too much food and be like hey you guys wanna come get some too? And since LW is a third party that is just hearing stories from these people, they wouldn’t have any real insight into how this went down.

    1. 2e*

      Yeah, the concerns about taking leftover food and extra swag seem particularly overblown. In my opinion, it’s quite appropriate for those items to go to lower paid or more precarious personnel I would be horrified, for instance, to see the manager with a six-figure salary take that veggie tray without offering it to the unpaid intern or the contractor who gets no security or benefits…

      Which makes me wonder if Camille is fuming about this stuff because her perspective on the power dynamic here is skewed. She’s not entitled to that veggie tray because she outranks Jean or the two contractors; she’s getting status, compensation, and security that they aren’t, and should be quite happy for them to get a few extra carrot sticks or slices of pizza.

      (Assuming here that LW is getting details like this from Camille. Or maybe is Camille, honestly. )

  26. Chillafrix*

    Letter Writer, If your concern is what to say if Drake and Josh directly ask you for a recommendation or to be a reference, I think you have a lot of options.

    “Since I’ve never directly worked with you at the same company, I don’t feel I’m qualified to give you a recommendation.”

    “Because you constantly badmouth your boss’s boss to me, I would not feel comfortable giving you a recommendation at my company, where that behavior is not tolerated.”

    “Unfortunately, I am not in a position at my company where I can really make recommendations for those openings.“

    I had a colleague once asked me to be a reference for him, but every single thing he was ever supposed to do for me, he had forgotten to do. In addition the one big project outside of my department that I was aware of that he was in charge of completely failed. I simply said “I don’t feel I’m in a position to be a good reference for you.”

  27. Reality.Bites*

    They complained about WiFi speed. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never, not once in my entire life, heard of anyone complaining about WiFi speed. How is it even possible for such a thing to happen? How could they expect anyone to pay any attention to such a ludicrous complaint? /s

    1. ???*

      because wifi speed can be terrible on guest wifi and they are likely using the Wi-Fi to do their job duties. this could actually be inhibiting their ability to do their jobs effectively.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        The ‘/s’ in the comment above has become Internet shorthand for sarcasm, meaning that anything that comes before the /s is meant to be taken sarcastically.

          1. HG*

            It’s a good thing you did. I see a lot of stuff written in earnest that’s much more over the top than that.

  28. NotARealManager*

    You can very easily ignore this. You don’t work there or with them and can decline to give a recommendation on the basis that you don’t work directly with them (and even if you did, you could add that you rarely recommend acquaintances as a personal policy).

    Digging deeper though, I think your friendship with Camilla is clouding your opinion of Drake and Josh. They’re not doing anything that egregious, especially if a staff member (Jean) is the one inviting them to take the swag, eat the extra food, etc. They probably think it’s all above board and reasonably so. What’s weird is that it clearly bothers Camilla AND Camilla is in a position to tell Jean contractors should not be included in these perks. Sounds like she hasn’t done that so of course everyone is going to continue to do it.

    1. House On The Rock*

      Yes LW, you might want to reevaluate why this is all so bothersome to you and what Camilla is doing to exacerbate that. In addition to not concerning yourself with Josh and Drake’s approach to office norms, consider limiting how much you engage with Camilla on her issues with Drake, Josh, and Jean. She’s Jean’s boss – she should be working with Jean on any concerns and potentially addressing any overstepping from Josh and Drake, not venting to you and getting you worked up. It would be entirely fine for you to tell everyone here that you don’t feel comfortable hearing about work drama that is not your own and that puts you in the middle of friends!

  29. Marthooh*

    This sounds like a description of the most tedious reality show ever made. My advice to OP is to just stop watching.

    1. Smurfette*

      LOL yes. Next episode: arguing over parking spaces and who is allowed to use the “nice” pens.

  30. In My Underdark Era*

    I was kinda taken back reading that other employees would resent contractors for taking part in pizza parties or eating cupcakes in the breakroom. I know it’s different everywhere, but on my contract we’re actively encouraged to take part in stuff like this because we’re supposed to view ourselves as All On The Same Team. if anyone bucks at us getting too enmeshed with contracting company, it’s fellow contractors who want us to have more company spirit for our actual employer lol.

    I feel for the writer, Camilla, and Jean in this cause it sounds like no one is happy with the current arrangement. I agree Camilla needs to take some of her gripes about Jean to Jean, instead of the writer. The writer’s best option may be to make like a Megan and write Drake and Josh off as boobs who are not their problem.

    1. Double A*

      Yeah, this sounds really snobby to be like, “Sorry contractors who are working full time on this event, this is employees only.”

    2. anecdata*

      Yeah, in my experience, full time on site contractors are welcome to this stuff. If they’re basically doing billable hours, I wouldn’t spend /time/ on it without checking, but grabbing the leftovers or picking up a cupcake, etc is normal. Basically think of these kinds of small things as “office amenities”, like contractors drink the office coffee and park in the parking lot and ask for a new bulb when the one above them starts flickering. These aren’t really perks-as-a-form-of-compensation, these are perks-the-company-provides-to-make-the-office-run smoothly-and-pleasantly, so they’re for everyone in the office

    3. BuildMeUp*

      I mean, the OP says the cupcakes specifically were for a certain team that was working late/OT. If your manager said, “Thanks for staying late, we really appreciate it, there’s a treat waiting for you in the break room,” and then you walked in to find that some people had eaten the cupcakes without asking, that wouldn’t annoy you?

      1. In My Underdark Era*

        idk, sure if there weren’t enough for the intended team after that. though my experience says there are usually leftovers anyways, so it’s not likely to be a problem. if it’s some principled thing of them not “earning” the cupcakes, no I wouldn’t care about that.

        anyways, my comment wasn’t just about cupcakes.

    1. Smurfette*

      Me too. I have a company laptop, I park in company parking, I drink the free company coffee, I use the company wifi. It’s possible to draw a line between FTEs and contractors without making the contractors feel unwelcome.

    2. pally*

      I would hope so!
      As a permanent employee, I would be deeply disappointed if contract employees were excluded from any company event. And I would express that disappointment too.

      Why find ways to keep people apart? Even contractors need morale boosting!

      Sounds like what’s involved isn’t of high dollar value so why begrudge them? If helping themselves to the leftover foods is an issue, that will get addressed at some point.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Occasionally contractors have to be excluded from perks (at OldJob they could not get giftcard rewards because the contracting company would have to set up to pay the tax on them, which was way too much of a pain for the company for an infrequent happening). But rarely are those perks things like “leftover food” and “company cupcakes”. Usually it involves taxable things!!

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. My company in the UK occasionally uses casual administrative staff to cover, e.g. maternity leave. These staff aren’t eligible for bonuses / things like the cycle loan scheme like employees but we’d never exclude them from staff picnics or cake at meetings. I mean they’re there, and working so they should be fed if others are being fed in my view.

  31. Kevin T-Rex Willis*

    I didn’t read the whole thing, but contractors eating pizza and donuts seems worthy of a shoulder shrug at best. Does anyone really care about that?

    And again this isn’t even your company!

    1. Assistant To The Regional Manager*

      The only thing that raises this past a shoulder shrug is Drake and Josh taking swag (if it is ALL the swag) and taking leftovers completely. If they’re keeping company employees from getting some of those perks, then it is something that should be addressed… though not by LW.

      1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

        I dunno, as long as everyone’s gotten a fair shot at the food, I’d rather have somebody (anybody!) take the leftovers than have them go to waste.

        1. Just a question*

          Totally agree. Worked in Big Corporate. Always offered leftover to staff even the cleaning crew.

          1. anecdata*

            Same, if they’re taking all the extra swag right away or pouncing on leftovers in a way that would be annoying for an employee to do, that’s the problem – but the “how much is ok to take when” calculus isn’t materially different BECAUSE they’re contractors

      2. Reality.Bites*

        There are people like that at lots of workplaces – their status as contractors is still irrelevant to whether or not they’re taking more than they should.

  32. Lady Blerd*

    Someone said it already but I have to say it again: Not your circus, not your monkeys. I get it, socmetimes you get overly invested i a situation happening elsewhere and you lose track as to how much you should care, the good news is that you don’t have too. I didn’t anything about Drake and Josh coming to you with their issues so their not yours to solve. I do wonder if you were writing to ask for advice for Camilla. If it’s not the case, just watch the trainwreck from afar and don’t think about it more than that.

  33. Smurfette*

    Interesting that OP is outraged by Drake and Josh’s behaviour but has nothing to say about Camilla’s inept management of Jean…

    And even if your friends were behaving really badly at work (they’re not) it wouldn’t be your problem. Let it go.

  34. Double A*

    I love petty drama like this from the outside.

    LW, you should also try to enjoy it as such, as you are very much outside it. Right now, you’re actually possibly the source of a lot of the drama because it’s in your head and possibly you’re feeding into Camilla’s story.

  35. OMG Becky*

    Someone else mentioned this in an earlier response, but my first thought: Not my monkey, not my circus. Also, while I understand the desire to support friends with their issues, I don’t understand the borrowing of others drama and carrying it as your own.

  36. DrSalty*

    “ You don’t need to care or even think about 99% of this!”

    What refreshing advice!!! Be free LW! Be free!!

  37. Volunteer Enforcer*

    OP, the human brain does have a tendency to focus on imperfections if there are no major problems. Maybe that’s what you are doing?

  38. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    The LW mentions her own “resentment” near the end of the letter and I think that’s the part that’s worth it to her to look at. What is the source of the resentment? When I was younger, I had this deeply buried belief that if I behaved myself, I’d eventually get some recognition or return on investment from it. Then I turned 50 and realized I had been a chump. But I do think it’s a message that women have gotten and probably still get, like, be a good girl and you’ll be rewarded. There might be something like that going on, or something different but “resentment” is about making choices that aren’t coming out the way you want them to, and I think she should think about what’s going on there.

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I hope OP reads this far; as a 48yo woman I recognise myself in it & this comment strikes me as both true and kind

  39. Chauncy Gardener*

    I got about half way through this and thought “I don’t think this is OP’s battle to fight.”

  40. HG*

    The weirdest thing here is that OP doesn’t even know Jean but has absorbed a bunch of Camilla’s negativity toward her (Jean doesn’t socialize with her team, just her friends, Jean doesn’t have a degree) and also is incredibly judgmental towards Drake and Josh for wanting to do things like use the wifi at the company they work at and make money for.

    Why so quick to judge people and get offended that they don’t know their place? What’s going on behind all this indignation?

  41. Saturday*

    “Jean does not have the necessary degree for her job” – it sounds like she does through, because she is doing her job.

    It sounds like LW is hearing a lot of frustration from Camilla and making it her own. And it sounds like she’s accepting Camilla’s perspective completely. Maybe Camilla is right, and her complaints about the others are all justified…but if the LW actually worked with everyone, it’s also possible she might pick up on some different points of view.

    1. Reality.Bites*

      One thing is really clear from all this – Camilla is grotesquely unprofessional and needs to be fired.

  42. diasporacrew*

    This has no bearing on anything here, but the notion that contractors are not allowed to use the internal network seems bonkers to me. Of course they’re complaining about the guest wifi! It would drive me nuts to be expected to do work for a company on their unstable guest network!

    1. Parakeet*

      Seems like a potential cybersecurity risk too, given the usual level of security on guest vs internal networks!

      And I think it does have some bearing on something, because the fact that the LW thinks it’s so obviously out of line for them to complain about this points to the LW’s judgment being majorly skewed here.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Yeah, that struck me as a very legitimate complaint, not an example of “bad behaviour.” It really sounds like the LW is at BEC status with Drake and Josh.

      And I really wonder about the stuff about Jean not having a degree. Is the LW underemployed and annoyed that people with less qualifications and who are perhaps more laid back about work and less professional have better paid jobs than her or appear from the outside to be more successful?

      Yeah, this is speculation, but this letter reminds me a little of a part in The Perks of being a Wallflower when it talks about how if you are happy and you see a couple who seem deeply in love, you are happy for them, but if you see them when you are unhappy, “they make you so mad.” I know there is nothing here about whether Drake, Josh and Jean are happy or not, but I think if somebody is unemployed or underemployed or unhappy at work, they are more likely to notice people “who don’t seem to appreciate” their jobs. It’s obvious the LW isn’t unemployed since she mentioned her workplace, but I guess the other two are possibilities.

  43. Just a question*

    Curious. What type of Company does Company A manage events for? How many events are Company A doing for this Company? 1 Event a week? Depending on that a lot of Josh and Drake’s actions are fine. The LW doesnt comment if Drake and Josh are good at their job functions.

    If there are good at these events, the hiring company may want to keep them content.

  44. kiki*

    I’m going to be honest, but a lot of the “bad behavior” here is, in my view, kind of normal or expected. Longterm contractors who work onsite alongside employees partaking in office parties is normal. Even if it’s not “supposed” to happen, it’s really awkward to tell somebody who is working with everyone else that they can’t grab a slice of pizza and hang out with the team. And honestly, if the contractors are expected to use the guest wifi for work purposes, it should be fast? Bringing this up to IT isn’t egregious. And unless somebody has told them to cut out taking the leftover swag because it will be used for future events, a lot of that stuff ends up going to waste. Usually companies end up begging folks to take it off their hands anyway.

    But also, ultimately, none of this is LW’s problem to care about at all, if it is even really a problem.

    1. GuestWiFi*

      I can’t imagine having to use guest wifi as a contractor. That’s messed up. I say that as someone who has had more than a dozen contracting roles.

  45. ENFP in Texas*

    “I have also grown a bit resentful watching Drake and Josh over the past few years and feel they are much too old to be acting this way (they are in their 30s!).”

    “Resentful” is a really odd word here. What do you resent? That they can act like this and you can’t? That they aren’t being “appropriately punished” (in your opinion) for their actions?

    Why are you feeling bitter or indignant at their situation? They have absolutely no impact on you.

    1. Jake*

      Of the entire letter, the resentment is the one thing I can actually understand and sympathize with.

      It’s like my friend who used to work remote and… well… do his whole job in like 5 hours a week while playing video games all day, or staying at my house for vacation while on the clock. It didn’t negatively impact me at all, but it still caused me to feel bitter that he was able to do that while I had to work my butt off (even if it was at separate companies).

      That being said, that is a flaw on my part, and it didn’t impact our friendship.

      If you accept that Drake and Josh’s behavior is outrageous, then the resentment seems like a pretty natural reaction. The weird part about all of this is that the behavior isn’t actually outrageous.

  46. Pickaduck*

    I’m afraid that Alison’s PS about whether or not they are classified correctly is going to make the OP think that is also her concern.

    1. Leenie*

      It’s a valid point to raise though, and it’s more sympathetic to Drake and Josh’s POV than the LW is inclined to be. I was wondering while I was reading this why the LW was begrudging these people cupcakes, when legally maybe they should be entitled to health insurance and other real benefits. Companies employing contractors for years on end is often a way to skate around labor laws, when they really should be classifying these people as employees, with all of the protections and benefits that employees are entitled to. But, you know, the LW’s perspective seems to begin and end with, screw these guys for wanting pizza, reasonably functional Wi-Fi, and (worst of all) permanent employment.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        They may be employed through a secondary company though, and get their benefits that way. When I contracted the company I worked at didn’t pay me or give me benefits (I did get their free coffee and bagel Wednesdays :) ). But I did get benefits through the contracting company. They’re not necessarily 1099 contractors, and maybe they’ve stayed with Company A through the years because everyone has agreed that it’s a good thing.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I feel this. I hope OP doesn’t have a sit down with Camilla and discuss how Drake and Josh are classified/being paid because that is not the issue here.

    3. Dawn*

      I think the point there is that, far and away from righteous indignation at these guys’ behaviour (which hardly sounds out of line from where I’m sitting) they might have so much of a point about how the company (and, by the sounds of it, specific managers,) shouldn’t be treating them as “not employees” that the law actually supports it.

  47. Ms. Murchison*

    LW, it sounds like you’re not seeing the forest for the trees. Like AAM said, it sounds like this isn’t your domain and that you’re getting swept up in Camilla’s narrative. Ideally you’d leave it alone, but since I’m getting the vibe that you’re likely to trash talk Drake, Josh, and Jean to others in your industry based on Camilla’s word alone, take a good hard look at that fine print at the bottom of AAM’s answer, and before you actually do anything to negatively impact Drake & Josh’s chances of getting permanent employment elsewhere, consider getting someone else’s take at Company A on whether anything they’ve done is considered problematic at the company.

  48. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

    When I see or think the word “entitled” I find it useful in my mind to reframe it as “what are they getting that I feel they don’t deserve? Why do I feel that way?”

    It seems to me like LW’s problem is less with free pizza and fast wifi, more with perceived disrespect for hierarchy. Especially when it goes into “they think they can move up without degrees!” Many people have, and do, move up without degrees. What does that take away from you, LW? If you consider that deeply, I think you’ll find out what you need to make your frustration productive to you, maybe by applying for a role that you consider a stretch or worrying less about what your “superiors” think of you.

    1. Andromeda*

      Wow, this is IMMENSELY good advice that I will be bringing to my therapist (not necessarily because I think a lot of people are entitled, but repurposing for general workplace frustration/feeling thwarted).

  49. M*

    If you can’t include your temps or contractors that you know will be present in the headcount for pizza and cupcakes, don’t provide them on a day when they are in the office. There is very little cost to treat people doing work on your behalf well. There is a much greater cost to the work product you receive when you go out of your way to treat them poorly.

    1. Lark*

      Yes! This is my feeling. Furthermore, if you are an employee and you’re getting hugely upset about contractors – who may not have any insurance! who make less than you! – getting employees-only cupcakes, you really need to take a good long look at yourself.

      Very often people expect to treat temps or contractors like a lesser species and to me this just makes work really demoralizing. I don’t like that kind of hierarchy. Why would you think, “staff deserve these cupcakes for working late but contractors who work late deserve NOTHING”?

      I had a couple of temp to perm jobs when I was younger and I’ve worked with temps and contractors and it is awkward enough without worrying about petty distinctions.

  50. Anonymon*

    If I can read between the lines, it seems likely that the way you know most of these details is from Camilla. It’s okay to be a sounding board for your friends’ problems, but you don’t need to take them on as your own. Nod sympathetically, offer more wine or French fries, and change the subject when it gets to be too much.

    1. Annie E. Mouse*

      But also, when Camilia brings all this stuff to you, use a little critical thinking here. It’s pretty unprofessional of her to be sharing so much work drama, especially about an employee she manages. Consider whether her take on these things aren’t biased.

      1. Kella*

        I would think that venting to your friend is exactly the appropriate place to get your feelings of frustration out when it’s about someone you’re managing. That doesn’t mean that OP should take everything Camilla says at face value. But I don’t see how talking to a friend about work stress is unprofessional.

  51. SusieQQ*

    Who else was shocked when they read the first two sentences of Allison’s answer and realized that LW doesn’t work for Company A?

    I had to go back and re-read it; I had just assumed they did because otherwise why spend any energy caring about this?

  52. jojo*

    LW, I say this with a desire to be helpful: Assuming you are in the same age group as Drake and Josh, *you* are much too old to be concerning yourself with whether they are liked/successful at a company where you do not work. You don’t have standing to intervene here.

    You didn’t use the phrase “overstepping boundaries” in your letter; that was Alison’s language to describe what D & J are doing. But it sounds like you might have some boundary issues of your own. It’s time to work on those!

    And look, I’ve been there. During college, I had extremely close relationships with my friends, and we were often presumptuous enough to give one another unsolicited advice on matters that weren’t our business. We all tolerated lots of boundary-stomping from one another because we were young and thought that was normal in close friendships; we didn’t understand what codependence was. Our friendships have survived into middle adulthood because we eventually figured out that being a supportive friend is not supposed to work that way.

    If one of your goals here is to be supportive to Drake, Josh, and/or Camilla because you wish the best for them, don’t get drawn into a deep discussion of their complaints. Just listen and say stuff like “that sounds frustrating, sorry you’re dealing with that.”

  53. Mina*

    OP, What exactly about this makes you resentful?

    Contractors complete work for a company and should be treated well. From what I’m seeing, they’re socially treated like employees while having a different payroll status. I couldn’t imagine seeing our contractors and *not* offering them a cupcake from an office celebration, or offering leftovers, or making sure they had adequate internet access. Also, While their specific benefits are established at the HR level, I don’t think it’s super weird for contractors to be annoyed at a transit benefit they don’t get.

    These things are normal. If it’s a question on if they’re pushing boundaries (a full unwrapped veggie tray is different in different offices, in ours, if it were a Friday, we’d be thrilled it was going to use!).

    Others have covered the “why do you care” of it all, but I also think there are major misconceptions in your letter about how contractors should be treated. They’re not the red-headed stepchild. And the emotion effort you put into wanting them to be excluded from basic office activities is worrisome.

  54. Mina*

    OP, What exactly about this makes you resentful?

    Contractors complete work for a company and should be treated well. From what I’m seeing, they’re socially treated like employees while having a different payroll status. I couldn’t imagine seeing our contractors and *not* offering them a cupcake from an office celebration, or offering leftovers, or making sure they had adequate internet access. Also, While their specific benefits are established at the HR level, I don’t think it’s super weird for contractors to be annoyed at a transit benefit they don’t get.

    These things are normal. If it’s a question on if they’re pushing boundaries (a full unwrapped veggie tray is different in different offices, in ours, if it were a Friday, we’d be thrilled it was going to use!).

    Others have covered the “why do you care” of it all, but I also think there are major misconceptions in your letter about how contractors should be treated. They’re not the red-headed stepchild. And the emotional effort you put into wanting them to be excluded from basic office activities is worrisome.

  55. Jake*

    OP, Camilla is a drama llama. Either partake and enjoy the ride, or don’t, but for your own sanity, don’t take what she’s saying as any more than what it is… petty drama.

  56. Nancy*

    None of this affects you in any way and everything you wrote about eating food and taking leftover swag is completely acceptable at my workplace. Our contractors have access to the employee wifi so they can do their job, the get to go to company functions, etc.

    If one day in the future they ask for a reference and you don’t want to give it, just say you are sorry, but you are unable to. That is true for any time you don’t want to give a reference for someone. Other than that, stay out of it.

  57. S. J.*

    I also didn’t finish reading because it felt like a lot of petty drama, but felt the need to throw in my two cents re: contractors being left out because “they’re not staff”. I was a temp at a company for many years, hired through the company’s internal temp service (so, actually a company employee). I was assigned to a long-term temporary project with Department A, a project that kept me working full-time with that department for 4 years.

    So, myself and one other temp worked full-time with the department for 4 years. We became friends with many of the staff there. However, we were always “temps” on paper, so we could not access the staff internal messaging systems/mailing lists, so we were always out of the loop on planning for social gatherings, events, birthday parties, etc. And nobody bothered to tell us directly. Often I wouldn’t even know a staff party was happening until I noticed that the office got really quiet. And then I’d go upstairs to the staff lounge and find everyone enjoying cake without us. We’d request people let us know in person, but they’d always manage to forget.

    The clincher came when there was a big outing where the whole staff was going to go out to lunch together, as a treat for the whole department. I know this wasn’t just an “oops we forgot you can’t see the mailing list” situation because in-person conversations were happening to coordinate carpools and make sure everyone was covered–except us. We didn’t know it was happening until everyone left and turned out most of the lights and locked the doors–with us two temps still inside.

    I confess, I cried. It was a terrible feeling and one of the worst days of my work life. And all of this happened because, on paper, we “weren’t staff.”

    Later on, I arrived at my next temp assignment in Department B, which happened to be the same day the team was celebrating the manager’s birthday with cupcakes. It also happened to be two days after my own birthday. The manager–a kind, lovely woman who since became a mentor to me–looped me into the party and offered me cupcakes. Because it cost her nothing to be kind and to recognize me as a team member. It was like night and day.

    I can appreciate Alison’s insight that blurring the line between staff and contractors/temps can lead to problems on the legal side of things. But I also resent the OP’s implication that OF COURSE contractors shouldn’t be eating leftovers because they’re “not staff.” Of course, this is assuming that other full-time staff have equal access to leftovers. If they’re taking all the food before anyone else has a chance to have any, that’s a different conversation. But if a person’s doing a lot of work for your company, it shouldn’t matter if they’re contractors or temps or whatever. Let them eat, let them use the wifi as they need, let them join the staff party, etc. etc. It costs nothing to be kind.

    1. UKDancer*

      That’s awful of the first company not to invite you to social events. I mean we can’t in my company include contractors / casual temporary staff in financial benefits that are made through payroll, but that doesn’t mean they should be excluded from getting cake and having fun social stuff that everyone else gets. I mean that’s just unkind and alienating. We invite everyone in the team to fun social things because it’s just good manners in my view.

      I’m glad you found a nicer place to work.

    2. Saturday*

      WTF – I’m so mad on your behalf. That’s just bizarre to me that, not just one person, but the whole department would treat you this way. Congrats on finding kinder people to work with (and a mentor too)!

  58. NameRequired*

    As a contractor, I’m confused by some of the OP’s issues. Our clients treat us as part of the team. They do not exclude us from office events, etc… The OP needs to keep her nose out of their business, unless and until it encroaches on his/her work/performance.

  59. hypoglycemic rage*

    no advice, but as a child of the early 90s, i enjoyed the drake and josh reference and imagined these people as those characters.

  60. Peter*

    I don’t think any rational employer would want to discriminate between employees and contractors in petty ways in the first place so I think the boundaries the contractors are crossing are probably in the LW’s head.

  61. justpeachy86*

    LW – you are oddly invested in your friends’ work situations and dynamics. As a person in my 30s I don’t know what some of my friends even do in their day to day, maybe a vague idea of what sector they work in or job title. I can’t image feeling like I needed to give them work advice. feel free to step all the way out of this. If your manager friend brings this up “that sounds tough, did you watch the game this weekend?”

  62. Adds*

    This seemed like a very long letter of … issues … that are precisely of 0 concern to the person who wrote the letter.

    LW, your mantra in this situation should be “Not my pig, not my farm.” You will enjoy life so much more if you decide to stop caring about any of the situations outlined in this letter. They are not your problems, or frankly, business.

  63. Kella*

    OP, as others have already discussed, the majority of these issues don’t appear to impact you directly. But I wanted to ask a question about one sentence in your letter: “I have also grown a bit resentful watching Drake and Josh over the past few years and feel they are much too old to be acting this way”

    Resentful of what? Resentment is specifically about a reaction to being mistreated or treated unfairly when the issue hasn’t been addressed. Who has mistreated you? Do you resent that Drake and Josh appear to be able to act however they please at work without consequences and you wish to do the same? Are Drake and Josh mistreating you and you’ve tolerated it for reasons not mentioned here?

    There is something about this situation that has you highly invested and I think it might be a good idea to figure out what that is.

  64. Raida*

    I think that LW should focus on: You are friends with Camilla. She is having problems at work with some of her staff, and contractors. You can support Camilla not just by listening but by asking straight out – “So what have you done to address the issues?”

    And maybe point her in the right direction of getting the processes right for redefining the contractors, or moving Jean elsewhere so she’s not interacting professionally with the fellas. Or having regular 1:1’s with all her immediate reports including Jean to address issues like blabbing non-public information.

    That’s the person you *like*, that’s the person who does not need to self-reflect on how they are not qualified for their role or any other they’ve applied for, that’s the person who is in the position internally to actually act.

    And then, let it go.

    You can tell Camilla “Hey I know you’re venting, but let’s keep it to once a week mate, yeah? It’s exhausting hearing work problems every time we meet up, when we could spend our energy on something that makes us happy to talk about!” or “Dude, let’s keep it to once a week yeah? You’ve already made it clear you’re doing nothing and you’re gonna keep doing nothing, this is about as fun as hearing about how someone’s ‘never got any money’ while buying crap, Ubering all their meals, and refusing to attempt budgeting. Sorry.”

  65. Charley*

    For people you call ‘friends,’ you don’t seem to like Drake or Josh or think very much of them. I definitely agree with Allison and, unless there’s something you haven’t brought up that makes this impossible (e.g one of them is your brother-in-law or something), I’d just gently let them go and see if eventually you can think fondly on whatever good times you had together.

  66. Lusara*

    I’ll add to the chorus – you don’t work there, this has nothing to do with you, why do you care? You don’t have to give them a recommendation if they apply to your company.

    I also agree with Alison that the company is probably misclassifying them. They should file and SS-8 with the IRS.

  67. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

    I feel like I must be missing something. I work at a place that has a lot of independent contractors coming in and out all the time, working on various projects. They all have access to the private wifi, and if we’re ordering food on a day when a lot of contractors will be around, we order enough for them. That just seems like the considerate thing to do.

    Maybe complaining about the breakroom not being stocked quickly enough is a little obnoxious, but aside from that, I’m not seeing the problem.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I’ve worked places that shared food on special days with contractors as well. If these people are in and out on a regular basis doing stuff and interacting regularly with your staff, it seems the right thing to do. Given how long Drake and Josh have worked there, and how much they know about procedures, it would make sense. It did make me wonder if there is something else going on there.

      But not my circus, and definitely not my clowns.

  68. Peanut Hamper*

    I’m thinking that “You don’t need to care or even think about 99% of this!” should be added the AAM bingo card, because that’s true in a lot of cases. But especially this one.

  69. TheBunny*

    Oh good.

    I got to Alison’s response at the end and I can’t lie, I went in with fear that she was going to agree with LW.

    99% (as she stated) aren’t crimes at all. Does LW really expect contractors to just not exist like they are household staff from Downton Abbey (and even they probably got leftovers in the kitchen).

    Contractors are pseudo-employees…the company pays them, they just don’t get benefits and have to deal with their own taxes.


  70. Still Masking*

    I’m glad everyone has already reiterated that this has nothing to do with you, because it means I can focus on pointing out that we are NOT “post-pandemic”. Covid is still here, even if everyone is acting like it doesn’t matter any more.

    1. tommy*

      thank you. the pandemic is not over, and every time someone asserts that it is, that makes covid’s ongoing harm more possible going forward.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Covid will be with us forever, just like the poorly named Spanish flu is still with us, albeit in a milder form. As we are just learning about the effects of long covid and how it affects individuals who have it, I agree, we are not post-pandemic. We are still dealing with a lot of unknowns.

      I am not worried about catching covid, but I am worried about getting long-covid. (Thanks to ADHD, my brain has enough issues to deal with.) Hence, I still mask in public, and probably will for a long time.

      I really detest the “it’s not a problem for me, therefore it’s not a problem at all” that some people have. And not just about covid.

  71. Mztery123*

    I’d be more concerned if I were Drake or Josh that I don’t have the perks that employees have as I would’ve been there long enough as a contractor to be entitled to those perks. This is assuming they are W-2 and not 1099.

  72. ContractorsEatToo*

    I’ve worked as a contractor at maybe 20 companies. I would be very upset if I were told I couldn’t use something supplied in the office for folks working at the office to use. This includes supplies, food, drinks, free meals, etc. I have gone to office parties (off the clock), all company meetings (unless they are strictly HR oriented), and even one or two offsite events. When I’m working hybrid I take supplies and stuff home with me to use on company work performed at home. I’ve taken snacks and drinks to consume on the way home (with their blessing). The idea that any of this would bother another employee is ridiculous. If it bothered the company itself that would bother me and I would consider it a pretty poor place to work. I am performing work for them, I am in the same location they deemed could be improved by snacks or bagels or drinks or whatever, and they have a vested interest in my being comfortable and well fed and – most importantly – considered part of the team by my coworkers for whatever amount of time I’m performing work for them.

  73. myfanwy*

    LW. Take a breath.

    It seems to me that listening to Camilla vent about these guys has got you way, way overinvolved with the situation. Some of their issues sound perfectly legit to me – why on earth should they spend two entire years working on the dodgy guest wifi that slows them down? The complaints about stocking the breakroom are a bit obnoxious, and applying to every single job regardless of qualifications is not a great look, but absolutely none of this is your problem. You worked retail with these guys, and it was years ago. If they ask you to recommend them for something at your company, you can perfectly well just brush it off – say that it wouldn’t hold any weight with the hiring manager after all this time, or something like that. They can’t make you do anything.

    You don’t need to feel any kind of emotions about this, let alone the kind of huge bottled-up negativity that has you memorising the details of cupcake squabbles at a company you don’t even work for. And resentment? Of people who have done nothing to you and taken nothing from you (other than turning every hangout with Camilla into the Drake And Josh Are Terrible Show)? Is it because they’re getting away with stuff that you’re terrified to do? What do you imagine would happen if you allowed yourself to be imperfect and ask for things?

  74. An Honest Nudibranch*

    I’m a little off-put by the emphasis on “this is terrible because they’re not employees” – though I’ll admit my perception is a bit warped by workplaces where whether or not someone was labeled as a contractor had more to do with what the company thought they could get away with then anything else. Like, these contractors appear to have been working on the same projects for these companies, are reliant on the same resources, have been there longer then some of the other staff have – what is so atrocious about them wanting to be treated as members of the team when they appear to be, well, members of the team?

    Taking things that are intended for another employee *is* a problem, which sounds like what happened with the cupcakes – but that would be a problem if they were employees, too, it’s not about their contractor status. And really, if the office environment was one where there was an enforced “yes I know you work here with these people in this space, but the food we provide is Not For You,” would you actually want to work there?

    Idk, some companies have a “if you’re a contractor you must always remember and acknowledge that you are less important to us than employees” type of attitude, and it’s really unhealthy. It’s worth some reflection on why contractors being included bothers you so much – that’s something that can influence how you talk to and about contractors in your own job if you have them, and not in a good way.

  75. Lefty*

    Even if Drake and Josh are W2 contingent workers payrolled through a third party, most companies have tenure limits (usually between 12-24 months with a 6-13 month cool off period) for legal reasons. I’m surprised they’ve been allowed to stay that long.

  76. Fez Knots*

    This is a perfect example of someone who doesn’t respect contract workers.

    As someone who has been a full-time contract worker on W2s and 1099s for the past four years, I wish I could say this was rare. Companies hire us in order to avoid taxes, paying out benefits…essentially not giving us the benefits of BEING staff while asking us to serve staff roles.

    In companies where contract work is expected (advertising, healthcare, some tech) we’re well respected and it’s easier to reach out to supervisors if any issues arise. Coworkers are comfortable with and used to working alongside contract workers.

    In companies, especially those with older employees who are less familiar with the nature of contract work, it’s common to have folks repeatedly disrespecting you on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s accidental (talking about staff events at meetings that you’ve explicitly been told you can’t attend), or purposeful (not giving you project credit because you aren’t staff). In some instances, employees are projecting frustrations about the company onto contract workers, who are often hired to save companies money after staff have been laid off. I get that frustration! But it’s also not my fault. I have to make money too, and that anger should be directed towards the company, not towards the folks who step in to fill those roles.

    If you think Drake and Josh’s behavior sounds totally egregious, ask yourself why. Some interpersonal office stuff can be annoying in any job (why DO people want to take home trays of food everyone in the office has touched? or attend cupcake socials at all??) but being asked to fulfill a difficult job at a difficult time and kept on for years only to be told over and over again by someone NOT EVEN AT THEIR JOB that they’re “not staff”….that’s a real bummer.

Comments are closed.