boss keeps giving me food I can’t eat, employee gave lots of notice but we have a replacement already, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss keeps giving me food I can’t eat

Is there a tactful way to ask my boss to stop giving me food-based tokens of appreciation? My boss occasionally gives donuts, cookies, candy bars, or buys pizza for our small work group to show her appreciation. While I know it is the thought that counts, I cannot eat gluten. My boss is aware of this dietary restriction, yet continues to give me the “gift” of gluten-containing items. She is a wonderful manager in many other ways, and but these small tokens leave me feeling annoyed instead of appreciated.

“Would you take me off the list for food items? I can’t eat them so they go to waste.”

Then if she forgets and gives you food anyway, hand it back to her in the moment: “Oh, remember I can’t have this, let me give it back to you for someone else.”

Also, with the pizza for the group, is there something else she could order for you at the same time (ideally from the same place but if not, then from somewhere else)? If so: “I can’t eat pizza, but I’d love it if you included me by getting X on the side so I can participate with everyone else.” If she doesn’t want to do that, so be it, but if she actually wants you to feel included and appreciated rather than excluded and annoyed, you’ll be giving her clear info about how to do that.

2. Employee gave lots of notice, but now we have someone who could replace him

I’m writing this question on behalf of my boss, who owns the company (I’m his EA). One of his employees (Gary) gave notice that he’s moving out of state, likely three to four months from now. My boss has cultivated a workplace where long notice periods are common, because he is known as someone who isn’t going to push someone out early or punish them for giving notice.

However, my boss just learned that a different person (Lance) is interested in working here full-time. My boss has wanted to hire Lance in the past and Lance comes highly recommended. The position is hard to fill as it takes very specific expertise.

In a perfect world, my boss would hire Lance and let Gary just work until he leaves. Unfortunately, we don’t have the budget to have both of them at once. My boss is trying to find solutions to make sure he does right by Gary, while also finding a replacement for him in his hard-to-fill position.

His main solution right now is to have a conversation with Gary to see if he can get a firmer timeline of his departure, especially because he suspects Gary might leave sooner than he originally said. It feels like an imperfect solution, though. Do you have any ideas of how he can navigate this?

Your boss should go back to Gary and be honest: “I appreciate the amount of notice you gave me and I don’t want you to regret doing that. That said, now that I know, it would really help if I can get a better idea of your timeline because I have someone in mind for your role who won’t be available indefinitely, and I want to figure out if he’s even a possibility or not.”

Your boss just needs to be careful not to push Gary out earlier than he wants to leave; if he starts feeling tempted to do that, he should remember that the only reason he even has this potential opportunity to hire Lance is because Gary generously shared his plans early — and that if he’d stuck with a more typical two weeks, this wouldn’t even be coming up. Plus, if other employees get any whiff that Gary got pushed out early, your boss is much less likely to get that kind of early notice from other people in the future.

what to do when an employee announces she’s resigning … at some point but not now

3. Turning down a lateral move at a lower salary

A couple of months ago, I got very close in the interview process for a more senior position at a different division within my company, at a slightly higher salary. I was told that I was a strong candidate and it was a difficult decision, but they ultimately hired another candidate. It became clear that they already had someone from their department in mind for the role, and were surprised to find another strong candidate in me. The department head encouraged me to apply for the role that the candidate they hired would be leaving, which would be a lateral move with the same title as the one I currently have. There are reasons why I’d be interested in this change, including a bad personality fit with my current boss.

I applied and when they reached out for an interview, I asked the recruiter to check that my current salary would be met in the new role. I was surprised to learn that while they could get close (higher than the starting salary listed on the job post), it would be a small pay cut from my current salary, rolling me back to the salary I had one cost-of-living-increase ago. I agreed to an interview to assess if the role would be a better fit for me, but was asked to let them know if I wasn’t interested after the meeting so they can move on in their search. It went well and I think there would benefits, including a more experienced manager and more room for career growth. After the interview, I felt good about the prospect and told the recruiter I’d accept the position if offered it. But after thinking about it over the weekend, I can’t get over that it might come at a small but real material loss to my income.

Do I have any leverage here to negotiate a salary match if given a job offer? How is this complicated by me wanting to leave my current role? It seems doubly painful since I know I’m qualified for a more senior position. But on the other hand, they have shown themselves to have a preference for hiring people from within their department — but then again, is it fair of them to ask me what that’s worth to me? Help me wrap my head around this!

Sure, it’s fair for them to ask that. They’ve already agreed to increase the salary but their budget is their budget, and if it won’t work for you, it’s reasonable for them not to want to waste anyone’s time.

If you wouldn’t take the job at the salary they’re offering, tell them that now. They asked you explicitly to let them know and you told them you’d accept, so if you’ve changed your mind about that, you need to tell them. If you go through their whole process and then try to negotiate more money at the end — after they were up-front and asked you if they should be focusing on other candidates — it’s likely to reflect poorly on you. Right now it’s early enough in the process that you can simply say, “After thinking about it more, I’m very interested but couldn’t take a pay cut from where I am now.”

4. A company asked me to keep checking in for updates … how often should I contact them?

I’m currently job hunting, and I recently interviewed with a company that wasn’t hiring immediately. They were very transparent that they didn’t have a position open immediately and that it could be months before a something became available. The interview went really well, with the interviewer encouraging me to check in often for updates.

That was two weeks ago, and I sent a follow up today asking for updates. They responded that the interview went well, but there wasn’t anything new on their end.

How often should I be following up? After that initial follow up, I was thinking monthly.

Should I respond to the email to say thanks? And should I do that with each of their updates? I don’t want them to think I’m rude for not saying thanks, but it feels excessive (I’d imagine most updates are going to be a short “Sorry, no updates”) and I don’t want to clutter their inbox.

Checking in monthly would be way too often. Every two to three months is the absolute most frequently you could do it without seeming annoying (and don’t do every two months like clockwork; vary it). If they have an open position that you’re a strong candidate for, they’re going to remember the person who’s been in touch within the last few weeks without you reminding them so frequently that you exist.

And sure, it’s fine to respond to their emails to say thanks, now and in the future.

5. Applying to two different jobs at the same company

I’ve worked in IT customer support my whole career, but I enjoy and am much better at the customer support side of things than I am dealing with IT systems.

Last week I saw that a local company had just posted a role for an IT department manager. Parts of the role seemed appealing to me and fit my profile quite well, so I figured I’d throw my hat in the ring to see what happens. I wrote a nice cover letter that I’m hoping will get me at least a phone conversation with the hiring manager and later got a response explaining how the company doesn’t use automated processes to review applications and that a real human would soon get back to me. However, the very next day, a customer service manager role was posted, and now I’m absolutely kicking myself because I know I’m a much better fit for this role and I would have definitely applied for it over the IT manager one if they were both presented to me.

My partner thinks I should sit tight and wait to hear from someone on the IT role, but a friend said I should apply for the customer service role as well, so now I’m torn. What should I do?

Apply for the second one. Just make sure you write a letter that speaks very specifically to the second role and isn’t generic. If it’s a small company, you should also explicitly address that you applied for the IT manager job, but you’re also throwing your hat in for this one because (reasons). If it’s a large company, you likely don’t need to do that but at a smaller one, the same people may be reading your application for both and you’ll be better off explaining it head-on. (It shouldn’t be lengthy or defensive, just a sentence or two that explains why you’re applying for two seemingly very different jobs.)

Don’t take your partner’s advice to wait until you’ve heard back on the IT job, because you risk the window closing on the one you want more.

{ 340 comments… read them below }

  1. Pink Sprite*

    OP 1: If the thought really does count, then your manager would have gotten this right in her head by now. And then have been able to get food you can actually eat or ask you for suggestions.
    I won’t (quite) go so far as to say she is purposely forgetting about your food restrictions, but unless you’ve only been a couple of months, she ought to know. Especially so, considering how often it seems like food comes around from her.

    1. office hobbit*

      Eh, I’d hold off on assuming bad intent until the LW sees how their more direct refusals/explanations are taken. Some people are just forgetful or clueless about how dietary restrictions actually work or both. For example, I’m lactose intolerant, and every time I go to family dinner my mom asks if I want milk with dinner, and then is dismayed when the only option for me is plain water.

      1. Bast*

        This. I also can’t count the number of times people confuse vegan and vegetarian, don’t understand what gluten is/what has gluten and what doesn’t, etc. If you don’t have the restriction yourself/live with someone who does, it can be hard to wrap your head around what it actually means. People can mean well, but just not understand.

        1. Tradd*

          It’s like the scene in My Big Fat Greek wedding where the bride tells her relative that her fiance is vegetarian and doesn’t eat meat. Relative responds with “OK, I’ll make lamb!”

          1. Eggo*

            that scene cracks me up.

            I have a coworker with a “mild” nut allergy but I still ask him to confirm which nuts he can and can’t have whenever it’s relevant!

            1. LoraC*

              I have a friend who’s allergic to fruits (mostly berries), and I always have such a hard time keeping track of which fruits are considered botanical berries!

              Apparently it includes bananas and cashews as well!

        2. OP Q#1*

          I’m the OP. I definitely don’t assume any ill intent. After all, if I get ‘glutened’, there is a good chance I’ll miss several days of work. I’m sure my manage doesn’t want that.
          Also, I totally commiserate on the mom offering something you can’t have. Every holiday my mother is flabbergasted that I won’t eat my favorite rolls from childhood and pass on the pie. They mean well! It’s just hard to broach the subject when you know they mean well and don’t want to offend them.

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            Okay, so its not just me (with a later in life, as in, once I was out of the house, diagnosis?) with parents sometimes erring on the side of what happened the first 18 years of life?

            There’s no ill intent, its just like their minds get “stuck” on “well they drank milk while they lived at home” or “but these were your childhood favorite”. Lived experience is superceding anything told, though not with ill intent.

            1. Keyboard Cowboy*

              I think this is sort of generally a common thing with parents. Think about if you have any long-time friends with kids you almost never see – those kids are still 6 in your mind, even though they were 6 when you met your friend 12 years ago. I think it’s pretty normal for families to regress to the dynamic from when you were 18 when you go home for a holiday – even though your parents KNOW you’re now 35 and a director at your company and whatever, they still insist you love Mountain Dew and probably need a nap if you’re cranky.

              This is why I always have to steel myself to visit my family at Christmastime ;)

                1. BrandNewBandName*

                  I could go for a daily siesta as well, but I don’t think I’d want to go back to work afterward! lol

                  My mom would make us take naps (or at least go hang out in our rooms), because she needed a break from us! “You don’t have to go to sleep, but you do have to play or read quietly for a while.”

              1. Gumby*

                Sometimes it comes in handy though. Because my mom knows that if I’m cranky chances are high that I’m hungry and that way lies lunch/snack/dinner. She’ll pick up on it before I do sometimes. We don’t normally eat out much but a few mid-shopping trip snack breaks came about because either my sister or I were randomly cranky.

              2. MigraineMonth*

                I lived with my parents for a while after college, which has turned out to be beneficial for our long-term relationship. We still regress, but at least it’s to when I was 22, not to when I was 18 and we were fighting all the time.

          2. office hobbit*

            I would be sad to miss out on dessert! I hope there are gf options at your family holidays for you.

            It can help to remind yourself that since you know they mean well, they won’t be *offended* by being reminded. Embarrassed or dismayed at themselves, sure. But if they mean well, then in the long run they will appreciate being reminded so they can get it right and give you something nice. If they’re offended, then I think that does show that the food/gift is more about them than about you, as Simona said below.

          3. Panicked*

            Celiac here. I have had many well-intentioned colleagues offer me all sorts of gluten-y foods. After the first few times of reminding them, I respond with “I’ve told you several times that I have a medical condition that requires me to be gluten free and can’t eat this despite my want to do so! Are you having issues remembering any other things? That may be something to talk to your doctor about; I’m concerned for you!”

            Usually gets them to remember. ;-)

            1. edabeata*

              as someone who does have memory issues and is embarrassed about it this response would make me go cry in the bathroom lol

              1. Elitist Semicolon*

                Yeah, I would also be upset by this. Brain fog from long ‘rona plus undiagnosed (and worsening) ADHD have been challenging for me lately and at best I’d be uncomfortably self-conscious around anyone who said this to me. At worst I’d feel called out for a work issue that I didn’t know about. I understand the frustration of being repeatedly offered something you can’t have (I’ve been the person declining over and over) but making speculative comments about other people’s potential medical issues isn’t the way to go here.

            2. Aitch Arr*

              That’s a really rude and uncalled for reply, especially aimed at a boss or colleague.

            3. MigraineMonth*

              So someone offered you a treat that wasn’t appropriate for your particular medical needs, and instead of graciously declining, you passively-aggressively questioned their mental acuity?

              I’d remember that you were gluten-free, and I’d also avoid interacting with you in the future if at all possible. That’s such an antagonistic direction to take what started as a friendly interaction.

          4. Artemesia*

            I understand people at work or friends forgetting details of one’s allergies, but one’s own mother? Wow.

            1. yet another celiac*

              Years after my celiac diagnosis, my mother gave me a gluten baked good at Christmas because she knew I liked it, and that might be one of the ways she knows how to show love. Not kidding.

          5. LikesToSwear*

            My celiac husband threatens to be extremely graphic in his description of the effects of being glutened. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going to that extent, alluding to the effects and bluntly saying you don’t want to risk the many long term effects, like cancer, might make it stick better.

        3. straws*

          Yes, absolutely! I became allergic to dairy in my 20s and it took my mother forever to get it figured out. She once got me an ice cream cake because she was so focused on finding something without buttercream (she was mortified, but her heart was in the right place and I still think it’s adorable). I constantly have people telling me I can’t have things because it contains eggs, but then offering something with butter instead (or sometimes offering gluten-free options – which often contain dairy). It’s just not something their brains have had to deal with before so they don’t connect all the dots.

        4. BubbleTea*

          I frequently get people misremembering that I’m gluten free, when I’m actually vegan. I guess it’s better than not remembering there’s a food restriction at all, but still, quite different.

        5. Just Courtney*

          I really appreciate the grace in this reply. I have a friend and a supervisor who are both gluten free and I always remember that, but I get stumped sometimes on what has gluten and what doesn’t. I am not gluten free so I have to very specifically think through the ingredients in something. In addition, my supervisor is allergic to chocolate and nuts and a lot of store-bought gluten-free sweets (at least in my area, with not a lot of selection) contain one or both of those ingredients. So again, it has to be a very deliberate and conscientious purchase to get something she can eat. I value both of these people in my life and we have a lot of potlucks/shared meals. I would hate if they just assumed I didn’t care, when really it is just that I am busy and frazzled and other people’s dietary needs are a hard thing to keep in the forefront of my brain when I have so many other things to keep track of.

      2. Simona*

        This happens frequently and your mom doesn’t remember? And it’s MILK not even dairy IN products. I would…not be able to extend the grace here that some people who have immediate family members that can’t remember people’s illnesses seem to do.
        But, for people outside someone’s family I can give them a little leeway, although I still think over time it is so inconsiderate and shows the gift is about the person giving it, not the receiver.

        1. JSPA*

          People know their own family, and can put things in context. “What it would mean if my mom did it” or even “what it would mean if the statistically average mom did it” is not going to override, “yeah, that’s how my mom’s autopilot functions.”

        2. office hobbit*

          Oh in my case it really doesn’t bother me, it’s easy for me to say no and she doesn’t press it once I remind her! (Her dismay is more at her own forgetfulness and not having something else to offer me. Plus, I think milk with dinner is ~loadbearing for her–it’s about more than just the beverage.) Her memory’s swiss cheese. The boss I think actually has a higher obligation to remember, because the food gifts are meant to be a reward and they don’t have any alternative for the OP. I’m sympathetic to misunderstandings and forgetfulness, but once the boss understands, they can make themselves a big reminder note of things OP would like instead of donuts/pizza and work off that.

        3. Observer*

          I would…not be able to extend the grace here that some people who have immediate family members that can’t remember people’s illnesses seem to do.

          ~~Shrug~~ Your family is your family, so I’m not going to comment on whether this makes the most sense in terms of your family dynamic, and the rest of my comment is intended to be more general.

          This kind of forgetfulness / lack of understanding tends to be *more* likely in family (especially parents), especially with adult diagnosis. Ime family is either far more protective / responsive or less than the rest of the world. Partly it’s because of the long history which means that the long term memory seems to over-ride the “newer” memory. And partly because reasonable people know that they don’t get to know and weigh in on other people’s diets. But family? Especially parents? That’s different. It’s not a straight line – not that Parent is saying “I get to tell you how to eat” and much as for other people they just don’t think about it, but with the child / grandchild there is a switch that turns on the worry if it’s really ok.

          Personal example – My mother would lay her life down for us and our children. She’s a good MIL and excellent grandmother. She has also been known to go to fairly great lengths to accommodate her grand children’s *preferences*. But when one of my children developed a severe allergy past very young childhood she simply could not wrap her head around it. It was *totally* different that her (significant) experience with allergies, and the most serious allergy was to a food that is generally considered very healthy. And that’s where we kept on going in circles. “How could it be? It’s SO HEALTHY!”

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I think there are certain hospitality reflexes that are completely separate from the thinking parts of our brain, too. For example, if you’re having a snack or beverage, of course you offer it to your guest as well. It can take many seconds longer to realize that it’s an inappropriate offer for the particular guest (fasting for religious reasons, doesn’t drink caffeine, cannot eat gluten) because you were acting out a script based on roles rather than individuals.

      4. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

        I would agree with waiting to see how refusals and explanations are received. This reminds me of a firm I worked for a few years ago whose senior partner would bring round the cake cart when the annual bonuses were given out. The caterer was aware of my restrictions, but when Mr Boss brought the cakes, instead of accepting my polite decline the first time, he chose to press the issue. When I explained my needs, he gave a sort of wounded, “Oh!” Like I’d been massively ungrateful.
        That firm also had a habit of holding their training meetings over lunch (which I disliked anyway, as it was frequently the only time I got during the week to attend to any personal chores). The HR women who ran the trainings only ever arranged wheat bread sandwiches, but invariably looked daggers at me when I would turn up with a salad plate from the canteen.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      People frequently do this, and it’s a bit annoying but you can tell from people’s blank expressions that it isn’t bad intentions. When I tell people I have a gluten intolerance, the most likely response is: “Oh no what a shame!” rather than “Ok, so what kinds of things could we get for you?” Their response seems to imply that I don’t eat, or at least I don’t eat anything enjoyable or understandable. Plus, plenty of gluten intolerant people wouldn’t want people to provide them with food.

    3. londonedit*

      Yeah, no, people often just have mental blocks about things like this. I think if you don’t have to deal with food allergies/intolerances in everyday life, you don’t fully take it all in. My sister can’t eat either gluten or dairy, and people in her life know this, and yet she still frequently has situations where she’ll go to a friend’s for dinner and they’ll proudly say ‘I made this quiche! No eggs! You can eat this, right?’ and she’s like ‘Er…no, because you’ve put cream in it and that’s wheat flour pastry…’. People often remember the no gluten bit but forget the no dairy, or the other way round. It doesn’t mean they don’t care, it’s just that if you’re not used to dealing with it all then it’s very easy to forget, or not realise you have to read labels properly, or to get mixed up between what’s OK and what isn’t.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        Absolutely agree with this. I have a food allergy/intolerance where cross-contamination is ok and even I struggled at first on how to best accommodate my friend with Celiac when we were making plans because cross contamination for her is life-altering.

      2. Ama*

        I don’t have any particular dietary needs myself but I have planned events with food so I’ve become accustomed to accommodating others’ needs and I’m still, in 2024, having to remind coworkers that fish is not an acceptable vegetarian entree. If people are still struggling with that I’m not surprised that other restrictions are hard to remember.

        (My sister-in-law recently developed a severe dairy intolerance and people can remember no milk and cheese but always forget to mention when they’ve put butter in, so I am sympathetic.)

        1. TigressInTech*

          I have an older family member who calls herself vegetarian but regularly eats fish. Meanwhile I am vegetarian and eat no fish. This, of course, is confusing to the rest of the extended family, and that’s not even as nuanced as gluten sensitivity/Celiac/soy intolerance/lactose intolerance.

          On the same topic, there’s a great line in the animated Avatar: The Last Airbender series where the main character (vegetarian) is offered fish as payment (by a fisherman). He responds, “Thank you, but I don’t eat meat.” The fisherman retorts that “Fish ain’t meat!” My mom and I often quote that last line when someone decides that fish is vegetarian at some event or another.

      3. Squidhead*

        I have a vegan friend who says people frequently offer her gluten-free but non-vegan food (like pepperoni pizza on cauliflower crust, not more obscure stuff like white sugar) . And they’re like “it’s gluten-free so you can have some!” I don’t know if they just remember “food restriction” or what??

          1. Ari Flynn*

            Some, but not all, white sugar uses charcoal made from animal bones in the processing.

          2. al*

            White sugar is commonly processed with bone char (ground up cattle bones), although it’s also not uncommon to find non-bone-charred white sugar on the grocery store shelves, you just have to make the inquiries to the store/supplier. The purpose of bone char is to make the white sugar whiter in color; it does not affect cooking performance.

        1. thunderingly*

          My daughter is allergic to nuts and we’ve had restaurants offer her gluten-free buns before.

      4. Quill*

        Some of *that* is probably the food pyramid lumping foods together that have no relationship to each other (with both eggs and milk products being in “dairy” under the scheme I was taught… in probably the early 00’s?)

    4. Also-ADHD*

      To be honest, I think it’s crappy, but I don’t know the demographics and honestly, a TON of people don’t know what gluten is in, don’t understand people’s dietary needs when they say they can’t have gluten (frankly this is hindered by loads of people who supposedly way gluten free but also really don’t, because they’re doing it as a diet & they choose to splurge—my stepmom supposedly ate gluten free but she definitely didn’t actually and 9 times of 10 if you get a gluten free option vs something obviously more yummy/bad for you, she’d leave the GF to waste and jump in the other boat). If LW is clear with the manager and they don’t care, that sucks but they could both not understand or simply not remember as acutely as LW insists they know. Or many other innocent things that could improve.

    5. Anya Last Nerve*

      I have been gluten free for about 3 months. I swear my husband doesn’t actually understand what gluten is, despite being educated. He offers me bread and pastries all the time. He’s not being a jerk, he just forgets/is clueless. And he is trying to be thoughtful by offering me food. Not everyone thinks about the ins and outs of your dietary restrictions all the time – not because they are malicious. Just provide gentle reminders – I can’t have that, it has gluten. Done.

      1. umami*

        I have a direct report who is vegan, and I finally just point-blank asked her what I could bring for her to our monthly division meetings. It was so helpful to have her tell me something specific (a brand of muffin) to bring because I was defaulting to adding a fruit tray because I just wasn’t sure what she could eat and felt bad that everyone else had breakfast tacos and pastries. So it would be helpful to say ‘I can’t have that’ but also recommend an easy substitution if the boss hasn’t quite connected that practically everything she’s bringing is something one team member can’t eat.

    6. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I’m going to offer a little grace – I deal with a lot of allergy related food restrictions in my world, and I’ve found that unless you’re dealing with them on the day to day, you don’t necessarily remember exactly what the issue is, or if there even is an issue.

      I also work in a field where there is a ton of random food brought it. A ton of catered lunches. Its….frustrating at times.

      1. Penelope Pitstop*

        Same. However: you can’t help random food, but a boss who is bringing treats for their folks and consistently forgets dietary limitations?

        As a partner to someone with weird but life-threatening food allergies, and my role at work coordinating catered lunches, you can bet I’m making sure that any allergies/whatever are accommodated, full stop. It’s the least I can do.

        (Fun fact: I managed to bring said partner to Mexico twice during the pandemic without them landing in the hospital, even with their allergies to vegetable peppers and raw onions. So there’s that.)

        1. Jackalope*

          I’m so glad you do that, and I’m sure your coworkers appreciate you! At the same time, part of the reason you’ve developed the skills to have this conscientiousness around food allergies/sensitivities is that you live with someone who needs that and so you’ve learned how to work with food issues. As someone else who has lived with people who have food allergies, I too am good at that for the most part (although there are some things I’m not as familiar with, such as gluten – I know about wheat flour but not other foods with gluten, so I couldn’t be certain I was making a safe meal without asking the person). But as others have said in this thread, if you don’t live with it then it’s so easy to forget, not understand, etc. We don’t know what’s going on with this boss, but it’s going to be more helpful for the LW to assume good intent at least for the moment rather than assuming that her boss is deliberately buying gluten-filled foods AT her (which some people do around people with allergies, but no indication so far that that’s this boss).

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            I know my mother in law has to eat gluten free (not celiac but she’s gluten-intolerant) and I’m always forgetting things that I don’t think of as having gluten in them. I just don’t cook for her often enough for it to be first in my mind.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          I’m sure you think way more about your partner’s dietary restrictions than your employees’. Let’s try to give the manager here a little bit of grace, especially since LW1 explicitly stated that they don’t believe there is ill intent.

        3. VeryCommon*

          As someone allergic to raw tomatoes I find employers rarely accommodate. The one time that really burned me was the employer that catered lunch every Friday, had a separate setup for allergies (so other folks wouldn’t eat it first), and decided it was too much to have to accommodate me so they started just providing food that met everyone else’s allergy limitations (which were all more common than mine).

        4. NotRealAnonForThis*

          I have two experiences with “the boss” situation.

          First one – worked with me prior to diagnosis, would never mean harm to me, but is sometimes stuck mentally with me being a junior llama herder, and I’ve not changed in the decades I’ve known, worked with, and alongside. He just knows that he used to grab 2 of a particular treat on his way back to the office because we shared a like of the treat.

          Second one – only knows the current iteration, doesn’t even attempt to know what exactly it is beyond rough terms, and he makes certain I have a chance to vet a lot of things ahead of time.

    7. Harried HR*

      People are weird about food :-(

      Example: I’m not allergic but I HATE potatoes and always have, there is a picture of me in my highchair throwing mashed potatoes at my Mum – LOL. Yet Every.Single.Time I go to my parents for dinner my Dad’s “Harried like did you want potatoes ?” I just look at him eventually he says “That’s right you don’t eat them”
      People I have been on this plant for 5 DECADES and have never liked or eaten them !!!!!!!!!!

      1. londonedit*

        I haven’t eaten meat since 1994 – my immediate family are fine and wouldn’t ever offer me anything with meat in it, but I can guarantee if I go to an event with extended family then people will keep offering me the sausage rolls or asking if I want a chicken drumstick or forgetting to let anyone know whether the quiche has ham in it. And that’s fine, you know, my dietary preferences aren’t exactly in the forefront of everyone’s minds. But also they’ve been going to enough family parties with me over the last 30 years…you’d think they’d remember that I don’t want a sausage roll!

        On the flip side, I went to a friend’s birthday barbecue a while back – not a particularly close friend, and not someone I particularly thought would know or think about the fact that I don’t eat meat. I was absolutely gobsmacked because the first thing she said to me was ‘I’ve made tons of veggie stuff! There’s a veggie chilli, and those dips are all veggie, and I’ve got loads of salads to bring out as well’. And then when the food came out she specifically said ‘The pasta salad has chicken and bacon in it, but all the other salads are fine!’. I was amazed because in my experience people very rarely remember about that sort of thing unless it’s someone very close to them.

        1. Infinite Integral*

          I guess I’m out of the norm more than I thought. I remember dietary restrictions of acquaintances and now that I have a friend with celiac who I might occasionally invite over I’m constantly thinking about cross contamination in my supply ingredients. I even got mad when my FIL just wiped off a peanut butter knife to use for the mayo because that meant it wouldn’t be safe for someone with a severe peanut allergy even though the only person I know with such an allergy lives over 1000 miles away from me currently.

            1. Infinite Integral*

              Ha! I had made PB&j for my kids and then he was making himself a sandwich and was like “I’ll just use the same knife, I don’t care.” and I was like, but I do…

        2. Venus*

          It’s likely because they have experienced it with a close family member or friend.

        3. Butterfly Counter*

          Interesting. I became a vegetarian/pescatarian in 1996 and was the first on in my family to do so. It was kind of a huge scandal. I had grandmothers and multiple aunts and uncles lecturing me every shared meal about the importance of protein in a person’s diet. Now that there are other people in the family that are also vegetarian, it’s less of a big deal, but my family definitely remembers.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            When I went vegetarian in middle school, my mom had me read the preface of her vegetarian cookbook that had all the pairings to create a complete protein (e.g. beans and rice, wheat and peanuts, etc) and I would try to plan meals that had all the parts of a complete protein. I was actually excited about tofu, since it was a complete protein (and was delicious deep-fried with soy sauce).

            Looking back, it was so much work for something that turned out not to matter (since it turns out you can complete proteins over the course of a week or so just by eating a variety of foods).

        4. Lis*

          Back in the 80’s my Mum was asked to make quiche for a school thing so she made Quiche Lorraine (obviously not vegetarian) and Quiche with veggies. she went out of her way to find vegetarian cheese (without rennet) and labelled it as having vegetarian cheese in it. Most of the people there thought she was mad because “of course cheese is vegetarian” “Why would rennet matter?” but the few vegetarians there really appreciated it.

      2. umami*

        Heh, I hate oranges (childhood trauma), and every time my spouse eats one he offers me some. He just … can’t help himself lol

      3. ErinW*

        My dad is the same. I have never liked soda pop, not even in my childhood. To this day (I’m in my forties) when it’s dinnertime at my parents’ house, he will ask what I want to drink and then list all the kinds of pop in the fridge.

        And my grandmother was the reverse. When I was really little I once threw a fit about not wanting to eat a piece of salami. I grew to like it later, and would eat it off various party trays, with her never failing to comment, “But you don’t like salami!”

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      What I couldn’t tell from the letter is whether the OP has actually reinforced this with the manager. If the manager has been giving them cookies, pizza, etc. and they haven’t once said in the moment, “oh, thanks, but I can’t eat gluten, so this isn’t something I can have,” the manager may well have forgotten entirely that the OP ever said anything to them about gluten.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, I also think it’s easy to forget that LW’s manager probably has a lot going on and sometimes the mental streams of “I am aware that one of my direct reports is allergic to gluten” and “I think the work group would appreciate a little treat today– I’ll pick up donuts!” don’t cross.

        I’m also guessing (it’s not clear to me from the letter) that LW’s manager isn’t, like, personally handing LW donuts and candy bars they can’t eat. I’m guessing boss is getting a box of donuts or a bunch of chocolates and leaving them on the counter for their group to grab. While I think it’s most polite to make sure that when you bring a food item in for your coworkers, it’s something that everyone can eat, it’s not always a feasible lift for an individual (there’s extra cost, conflicting restrictions, going to multiple vendors, etc.). Sometimes folks will then think bringing in something for the folks who can have it is better than nothing at all and go that route. But it stinks if there’s never a rotation where LW can actually have the food.

        1. LW1*

          Yes, I think you are right; the mental streams just don’t meet. Boss does leave the treats on our desks. I haven’t brought it up because I don’t want to seem like I am ungrateful. I am grateful she buys the team food from time to time, especially since she pays for the treats herself. I was looking for a way to express that I’m not being a crybaby over these snacks but also that I can’t have them. AAM hit the mark for me.

    9. mango chiffon*

      I love cooking food for friends and am in charge of ordering catering for staff meetings and events. For me, I can’t imagine not trying to include everyone because I also grew up with limitations on what I could eat and felt excluded by it constantly. To me, showing my appreciation with food means I always ask what people can’t eat and try to accommodate them with at least something so they can participate. I run menus by my gluten free colleagues so they can eat, recently I checked in around allergy severity for a coworker who can’t have legumes (which involves a lot of food!). My parents are vegetarians who don’t eat eggs, so I always have to check menus for food they can eat that also has protein so they aren’t just eating sad salads. It’s extra work maybe and sometimes it’s hard to always make everything accessible to everyone and it can be more expensive, but I know my colleagues, friends, and family appreciate that I even try.

    10. LCH*

      maybe it’s my location (east coast US), but it feels like gluten-free foods are all over menus now, not super difficult to locate. perhaps other parts of the country/world still haven’t heard about them. you could also point your boss to a resource like findmeglutenfree [dot] com.

      1. LikesToSwear*

        It is absolutely getting a lot better and easier to find gluten free foods and places that understand the importance of preventing cross contamination.

        I know a lot complain about the people who are GF for non-medical reasons, but quite frankly, I appreciate the hell out of them and the fad. They are the reason we have gluten free oreos and so many other GF options so readily available.

    11. Tobias Funke*

      This is some serious Main Character Syndrome. It’s okay for some things to just be thoughtless rather than malevolent.

    12. lilsheba*

      Maybe they could do gluten free options on everything, they even make pizza. As for lactose intolerance there is also lactose free milk or lactaid. Maybe that would work.

      1. Rincewind*

        As someone who is gluten and dairy free, gluten free vegan pizza should not be forced on anyone – its awful. Lots of gluten free substitutions are just not as good and it would upset the others in the office.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I doubt the suggestion is to make the switch for everyone, but to provide OP1 an option when everyone else gets regular pizza.

    13. ariel*

      My friendly and great colleagues forget I don’t eat bread ALL THE TIME; however, they also are accommodating and my boss is very good about making sure that our team snacks/lunches are inclusive or that the menu is shared in advance so I can be sure there’s something for me. I think there is a middle path and, OP, the more you mention it (as warmly as possible “oh I can’t eat that”) hopefully the better your boss and coworkers will be at remembering to get something for you.

      1. Zona the Great*

        Oh I would too! But only because I dream in bread! I hope you have something that comforts you like bread does me!

    14. Beth*

      Agreed. When I had a teammate who had celiac disease, my boss made a habit of bringing sealed treats for her from a local gluten-free bakery when there were treats coming in for the rest of us. (This was back in the day before gluten free goods were common in grocery stores, so I suspect my boss asked my teammate where to go for trusted treats. I’d expect it to be even easier to do this nowadays.) Even though it wasn’t me that needed the extra effort, I noticed my boss making sure everyone was taken care of, and it confirmed my good opinion of her. I’d feel the opposite about someone who never bothered to make sure you were included.

      1. zuzu*

        When I had a colleague with celiac before gluten-free stuff was widely available, I had lots of fun trying out new recipes, like black bean brownies (awesome!) and various things with chickpeas and sweet potatoes. She came from an Italian family and had a mother who would sneak pasta into everything to “test” her, so she stopped eating her mother’s cooking, to her mother’s great offense. No matter that she got sick from these “tests” for days on end and her joints seized up, her mother’s feeeelings were all that mattered.

        The next time I had a colleague with celiac, it was near a fantastic bakery that did gluten-free, vegan, and gluten-free vegan cakes and cupcakes that you couldn’t really distinguish from their regular cupcakes (Pearl’s in Richmond, VA). So we got all our baked goods for events from there.

    15. KateM*

      I agree that the thought is that counts, but it seems to me that at least half the time this argument is used, the thought has been “I want to give this thing”, period. Not a second spent on the giftee.

    16. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      While not addressing the root cause, if they do pizza for the department, ask if they can get one with cauliflower crust.

      As to the root cause, I think Alison’s advice is on point.

  2. Cmdrshprd*

    LW2 I know you said your boss can’t afford to hire both on at the same time, but I would push your boss to consider the long term costs of not doing so now. if Lance is such a great candidate, losing out on him and having to hire candidate X who is not as great can have significant costs. of course I understand sometime paying $100 over a length of time is easier than paying $50 right now.

    Also could a job share split work, at something like 50/50%, or a gradual decrease/increase.

    Like Lance starts at 25% and Gary goes to 75%, then 50/50%, then Lance 75% and Gary 25%.

    another possible option is to keep Gary on payroll for 2 months, then for months 3/4 hr does not get his pay, but gets his health benefits covered?

    or pay ask if Gary would be amenable to staying for 1/2 months, and having a “severance package” of 1/2 months paid out over a 6 month cycle. This way Gary/Lance are never fully on the books at the same time, but it can give Gary some security, pay for the generous notice period.

    1. Garblesnark*

      I know at large organizations, often the machinations of budget are simply too powerful to be overcome.

      However, at smaller organizations, like where it sounds like the LW works, labor is truly not usually that big of an expense. I truly wonder whether there is some creative budgeting or “hey, team, can we tighten our belts just a little to make this work?” that could make things possible. I’m not at all doubting the LW(‘s boss’s accountant) that the money isn’t immediately apparent, and I know these decisions are complicated.

      I would hate for what sounds like a lovely place to work miss out on what sounds like a great opportunity due to a failure of imagination.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Unfortunately, this is like when politicians say that public sector waste is a problem and a reason for cutting funding. It’s really not that easy to squeeze out a whole employee’s worth of savings overnight.

        At smaller orgs the cashflow might be tighter though. Let’s take OP at their word that budget is an issue here — at any size of organisation, costs of taking on a new employee are quite high. My boss in a national company owned by the government had to make a business case for another admin to take me on, hubby’s boss struggled to meet payroll without taking on a loan until cashflow improved…and if we want decent wages and benefits, then it’s not necessarily going to be achieved just by some creative accounting. At any size of company adding a new employee is not done at the snap of fingers.

        1. Colette*

          And it’s not just the salary – it’s the benefits, the desk, the computer.

        2. doreen*

          Squeezing out an extra employee’s worth of savings might be impossible – but the budget being an issue might mean many different things in a company that has “an owner” rather than owners or stockholders. It might mean that the company can’t afford to pay both Gary and Lance for three or four months without the owner taking a temporary pay cut that means a $40K vacation must be cancelled or it might mean the owner taking a pay cut that would mean skipping a mortgage payment or two on their house. Not saying the owner has to take a pay cut , just that it may be possible.

      2. Rosemary*

        “labor is truly not usually that big of an expense” – that 100% depends on the type of business. I work at a small professional services company and labor IS our ONLY major expense. Not sure where you are getting in the letter that labor is not a big expense? Given that Lance has hard to find expertise, I’d argue that labor likely is a big expense.

        I think it sucks for both Gary and the company that the ideal replacement was found so soon. The company needs to weigh the costs of passing on Lance and possibly not finding a replacement when Gary does leave, and the cost to morale and likelihood of others not giving advanced notice in the future. If Lance really is that valuable, it might be worth it to the company to go ahead an hire him and let Gary go, with decent severance of course.

        1. Dread Pirate Roberts*

          Even in larger companies I’ve worked for, labor is usually the biggest expense (and of course asset!). It’s unfortunately why layoffs are the go-to move for many companies when they run into financial trouble.

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Seconding this – and several months of salary and benefits is probably more than most people think it is.

          “It’s just temporary, find the wiggle room, make the long term investment” are all exceptional ideas on paper, but a small business simply may not have that kind of leeway.

          1. ABC*

            In my experience, a surprising number of people just aren’t able to conceptualize benefits in terms of a dollar amount. Wages are fairly obvious—when the company gives me $2k, then that’s $2k that the company no longer has. But the idea that PTO and the employer contribution to insurance and the 401(k) match also have defined costs assigned to them is a real stumper for some people, even when you show them the actual math.

            1. Sleve*

              I know it varies greatly by role, by industry, and by country – but to give people a rough idea: my company puts a certain amount of money in my bank account every month. Averaged over the year, I cost them twice that amount.

          2. SpaceySteph*

            Yes, we play an (admittedly cynical) game in big awful meetings where we try to calculate the amount of money in salary being spent on said terrible meeting. But we are almost certainly undershooting because we guess at salaries but don’t account for the less obvious benefits like employer cost of health insurance, 401k match, etc.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I play that game too – I use our billable hours formula, which is about 2.5x salary, but when the main opportunity cost is time I think using hourly wage makes perfect sense.

          1. Laura*

            Maybe something like pharma/biotech? I mean, the salaries are high but probably a small fraction of what is spent on R&D and we won’t even get into marketing.

            1. Rosemary*

              Even in pharma/biotech, I imagine a lot of the “R&D” costs is labor – the scientists/brains behind the research. The people I know who work in pharma/biotech are paid quite well (and deservedly so IMO, they are some of the smartest people I know)

              1. Quill*

                Equipment is expensive, but you pay for it a finite number of times. A mass spectrometer, and a mass spectrometer tech at $20 an hour, cost about the same if you acquire both this year. Next year, the mass spec is paid off.

      3. Observer*

        However, at smaller organizations, like where it sounds like the LW works, labor is truly not usually that big of an expense.

        You’ve got to be kidding. While it’s true that there is often more flexibility and discretion, ime, the exact reverse is true when talking about staffing.

        Going from One of Position X to T2 of that position tends to be a much bigger deal that going from 4 to 5. And systems (and their requisite equipment and upkeep) are a much smaller part of the budget.

      4. Beth*

        Labor is not that big of an expense?

        Look, I’m not going to say there’s no industry where this is true. But it’s hard for me to envision an industry where paying a living wage and standard benefits to its employees is the norm AND labor costs aren’t one of the biggest expenses on companies’ books. Double-staffing a role would be a big deal for most companies financially, especially given that it sounds like Gary doesn’t have a firm end date yet.

    2. Cmdrshprd*

      Or another possibility is to take a business loan to cover the double salary for the possible overlap. I know easier said than done, but just throwing ideas out there just in case.

      1. Garblesnark*

        Yeah, if the business isn’t already in rough financial shape, I would be surprised if there wasn’t an option for a line of credit for something like this.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I don’t think that’s practical for Gary or Lance – they will presumably need to be earning a fulltime salary.

      However, there’s nothing stopping the hiring manager from getting a firms time frame from Gary (or telling Gary that he needs to plan for the end date to be X months from now, so that the company can plan on replacing him) and then offering the job to Lance for that time.

      If Lance is on the market and looking for a job, then he’s unlikely to be able to wait. But if he’s employed now, he may be quite fine with a delay, as long as there is a firm start date and a written offer. It’s possible that he might find another (better) opportunity in the meantime, but that’s a chance the business will have to take, of course.

      The company could plan for an overlap of several weeks / a month for the transition – that would potentially save costs overall, by ensuring good continuity when Gary leaves.

      When I hired for an accounting/tax firm, our offers went out up to a year a head of the start date, for some roles. We needed to be able to plan for next year’s tax season and the training period ahead of it, and candidates needed to be able to finish out their current tax season with their current employer (not doing so would get them blacklisted from ever being employed as a tax accountant again). So, it worked for both parties.

      1. Rosemary*

        Yes I think getting definite timelines is key, and then trying to work with that. It might be that Gary unfortunately does not get to stay as long as he would like. Say Lance is willing to wait 2 months, and Gary wants to leave in 4 months – maybe have them overlap a month so Gary gets to stay for 3. The company could also “lay off” Gary so that he could at least collect unemployment.

      2. Antilles*

        Not only is it likely impractical for Gary, even offering the split to Lance would come across as an enormous red flag. Let’s imagine Lance wrote in to AAM with this letter:

        I received an offer for a new company to replace one of their current employees, who we’ll call Gary. I’m willing to wait a few weeks because of the way timing works out. Sounds great right? But there’s one catch. For financial reasons, they can’t afford to pay both me and Gary simultaneously, so the boss suggested an arrangement where they won’t pay me a full salary for the first three months: In month 1, they’re paying me 25% so they can pay Gary 75% of his current salary. In month 2, it goes to 50/50. In month 3, it goes to 75%/25%. Then in month 4, Gary finally leaves and I get the total agreed-upon salary. Have you ever heard of this? Should I push back on the arrangement?

        We’d be telling Lance to forget the arrangement and sprint the other direction like the building was on fire. This place sounds like it’s on the verge of bankruptcy, red flag that they think employees are fine not earning their full salary for months on end, this sounds like a trap where they change the terms once you’re stuck there, etc.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Yes! Lance needs to get paid full salary if he’s going to work full time. I could see maybe having him work part time in a transitional period for a week or two, but that doesn’t sound fair to Lance who presumably needs that money to pay his rent/mortgage, buy food, etc.

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            “Lance needs to get paid full salary if he’s going to work full time. I could see maybe having him work part time in a transitional period for a week or two,”

            I agree, my suggestion was not the Lance work full time and get paid part time, but rather that Lance/Gary would work proportional to what they were being paid for the period.

            I realize it may not be feasible for most people, but was just throwing the idea out there, as a possibility to consider.

        2. Chriama*

          I would assume the reduced pay comes with reduced hours, though. I can see some people accepting this as long as the agreement was in writing. If you need a full-time job immediately then obviously not, but if Lance is already working part-time then he might be ok with a slower ramp-up period.

    4. Heidi*

      Would it be weird to ask Lance if he’s okay with a later start date? If Lance is still employed, he could give his employer a long notice period like Gary did. Or he could take a break from work for part of it. This won’t work if Lance needs a new position right away, of course.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think the issue is that there’s no firm start date to give Lance if they can’t afford overlap between the two, because Gary hasn’t made a firm commitment to any particular timeline. So the boss really does need to talk to Gary and find out what his plans are.

    5. bamcheeks*

      This still depends on knowing Gary is definitely leaving. It might be fine to budget for a month’s crossover, possibly stretch to two months, but an absolutely disaster if Gary’s “three or four months” stretches into five, six, seven… They still need to go back to Gary and ask him when he’ll be able to firm up that timeline.

    6. Tio*

      If Lance has a niche skillset, he is unlikely to want to work for 25% salary for any time period just to help out a company, when he presumably has a job paying regular salary already and bills to pay. I have a fairly niche professional license, and if someone made me that offer, I would think they’re out of their mind.

      1. this-is-fine.jpeg*

        presumably the 25% salary is at 25% hours. Speaking for myself, I would be fine starting at part-time for a few weeks to take advantage of more time off in between jobs!

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Assuming you have plenty in savings or some other financial support! Lance presumably needs a full time job to support himself (/his family maybe?) and can’t just work at 25 or 50% salary for a few weeks and still expect to pay his rent or mortgage, never mind other expenses.

    7. Hills to Die on*

      What if Gary does some other tasks to help out until he is ready to give notice?

  3. PepperVL*

    LW1, all those things that you mention are available in gluten free versions. If you don’t trust that your boss will get them from a place that takes cross contamination seriously or that your boss will cross contaminate while transporting, ask for something else entirely. But if you’re not concerned about that, nudge her to getting gluten free pizza and baked goods for you.

    1. Testing*

      At least where I live I’ve understood that “gluten free pizzas” from places that also make regular pizzas are never actually gluten free despite the ingredients, as they are all prepared in the same space. So in contrast to Alison’s advice, I’d suggest asking for food from somewhere specialised in catering for food intolerances.

      1. TigressInTech*

        Exactly this. Even if the employees try to be careful, they change their gloves, they put paper under the pizza, they use new containers of sauce and toppings… And then they stick it directly onto the same oven surface with all the wheat flour. It’s my blanket rule to avoid pizza places now.

        1. sara*

          Well… it depends on how sensitive the individual is. My MIL has celiacs but does perfectly fine with the gluten free option from pizza chains. Presumably OP knows their own sensitivity, but I wouldn’t just assume this isn’t a possibility. It really seems to vary by person.

    2. Allonge*

      I think the issue is that boss has not internalized that OP needs something different. It happens very often to people who do not have direct experience with food intolerances and don’t like to cook / bake themselves* – they just forget that there is something to be careful of here. OP most likely mentioned gluten-free alternatives before, it just does not stick. And then it’s death by a thousand paper cuts.

      *My best guess is that lots of people who like to bake treat it as a challenge – ooooh, tricky, no gluten for you, what can I still make that suits you? It’s not a guarrantee but I definitely noteiced a pattern.

      1. allhailtheboi*

        Yeah the challenge aspect definitely rings true for me! Although my dad has coeliac so I’m very aware of dietary restrictions to begin with.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        This is me. I love to bake and I love finding things I can make for my friends who have celiac. It helps that I have several recipes for Passover that use nut flours or no flour at all. My choir has a bake sale at bingo every year for a fundraiser and I always make something GF for that table.

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I’d love the challenge but unfortunately the risk of cross contamination in my kitchen is too high. No matter how careful I am, my kitchen does have flour in it and that’s too much risk for my niece. (She’s allergic rather than celiac. About a year ago her allergist wanted to try starting her on a food challenge, but she had a bad reaction to the starting dose and wasn’t able to continue.)

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, that’s my concern with baking anything gluten-free. Like, I can make a gluten-free recipe, but can I swear I never used the same measuring cup in my flour and sugar in the past? I cannot.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Yes, I have a coworker with celiac; I love to bake but I know that she is VERY cautious about cross-contamination and generally doesn’t trust things that aren’t made in a dedicated GF space (e.g. her kitchen or commercially). So I don’t take it personally and just buy her GF Oreos for her birthday :)

          That said, there are a lot of commercial gluten free products out there, it’s *not* that hard to accommodate for treat days.

        3. Beth*

          Yeah, I’m fine cooking for someone with a less restrictive gluten sensitivity, but I would absolutely not trust my kitchen to be safe for someone who needs to avoid cross contamination. Case in point: I baked plenty for my roommate whose IBS was triggered by too much gluten (we used gluten-free flours but she wasn’t sensitive enough to be worried about cross contamination), but will always go out to a known safe place if I’m eating with my cousin who has celiac disease.

    3. CityMouse*

      I have a friend with celiac and pizza is pretty universally a no go because of the amount of flour that gets in the air. But they could provide a different meal for her.

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      Yeah, I think “ask for something else entirely” is a good strategy, because I wouldn’t trust that boss would remember the details of what OP can or can’t eat and read a label properly and find alternatives that actually taste good. If boss can remember that OP always gets a twin pack of Reese’s cups or a bag of potato chips or some other readily-available, brand-name item that meet’s OP’s requirements and preferences, that would at least take away the “ugh, my boss says they appreciate me but can’t be bothered to remember this important thing about me” aspect, even if the treats themselves aren’t as varied and delicious.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I think it depends on where the boss is buying the items.

      Does Dominos or Pizza Hut offer gluten free pizza? (IDK as it has never mattered to me) But I am aware some of the fancy but more expensive pizza places around here offer gluten free.

      Are the baked snacks from a bakery or just a package from the store?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Even if they did no celiac I know would risk the cross contamination, particularly at a place that handles primarily gluten products (LW upthread mentions ‘getting glutened’ and missing several days of work which is celiac language/impact)

        The intent may be good but not offering food at all is the better option. This is more in the vein of offering a snickers to someone with a peanut allergy than it is remembering someone doesn’t like chocolate.

      2. Gatomon*

        Actually both of them do offer gluten-free pizza, but I’m pretty sure they get it from a third party. Most likely Udi’s. I assume it stays frozen and wrapped until someone orders it, but I’ve never worked there.

        I feel for OP because I’m in the same situation, in a way. Corporate loves to do food to celebrate, but they never ask about sensitivities or publish the menu in advance in most cases. I know not everything can be worked around me, but for mandatory things like lunch events, I’d just like to know if I need to pack something for myself. Nothing makes me feel more appreciated (and hangry) than not being able to eat anything and stuck watching everyone else chow down.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      Given that the boss is currently leaving glutinous items directly on LW’s desk, I don’t think boss can be trusted to not cross-contaminate. Seems way too probable that even if boss got a suitable item, boss would touch the other stuff and then touch LW’s stuff without considering cross-contamination. Could boss potentially learn? Yes. But I don’t think it likely to happen the first time, or even the first few times, which is probably not a risk worth taking.

  4. Garblesnark*

    LW5, definitely apply! You’re qualified for both roles, and many organizations prioritize candidates who are interested in the company and not just the job. That’s clearly you! Put your hat in the ring.

  5. Garblesnark*

    LW1, I just want to note that in my experience, it’s 50/50 whether your boss understands what an inability to eat gluten is well enough to honor your request without just not giving you food items at all. And it’s fine and normal to prefer that.

    Anecdote: My sibling has a dairy allergy, and the other day called ahead to a restaurant to ask what they could offer. The staff very warmly suggested buttered noodles.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Some people just do NOT get it – and they even mean well!!

      My youngest is anaphylactic to walnuts & pecans. Nothing I could say or do could make our lovely elderly neighbour understand that he couldn’t eat nuts. DS1 wandered over (he was about 7) to say hi, and she invited him for tea. Thankfully, I had just come out to make sure he was okay (as he wasn’t in the back yard when I turned around). Neighbour lady invited me for tea too, and successively offered carrot cake (w. walnuts), banana bread (w. walnuts), pecan sandies, maple walnut ice cream, and some kind of cookie that also had nuts. It felt like a horror movie, honestly.

      I had been upset that the allergist had scared the hell out of my kid when he was first diagnosed at age 5. The allergist told him he would die if he ate a walnut or a pecan. Kid wouldn’t leave the house for a week and wouldn’t eat. He was terrified. Worth it though – I got no argument when I told him that no matter what, he was NEVER to accept a snack from Mrs. N, even though she was a very nice person. She just couldn’t get it through her head what an allergy meant.

      1. Garblesnark*

        Yeah, some folks just Do Not Get It.

        We pride ourselves on food safety conscientiousness at my home, but I still once let a friend try a mixed drink without realizing the half teaspoon of fruit jam in it had cinnamon and could therefore trigger his allergy. Fortunately we got off with some benadryl that night and didn’t have to use the epi.

        I’m glad your son is OK!!

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I think your example sounds like an accident, which are also frequent on the part of people who don’t have to deal with an allergy themselves (in addition to those who Do Not Get It and those who Don’t Believe in Allergies).

          Like imagine a visitor from a parallel universe where cars don’t exist. He’d be warned, and look really carefully the first few times crossing a street, but someday, he’s going to be lost in thought and step onto the street without looking.

          People who don’t either have allergies themselves, or live with someone with allergies just aren’t used to the sustained level of vigilance necessary. That’s why people with allergies very rightly should be very “trust but verify” about accepting food.

          All of which is not to excuse people who just don’t try. This boss doesn’t sound like they’re trying.

          1. Chas*

            Yes, my nephew has a nut allergy, and we had a few similar accidents after it first started, because we weren’t aware of things like “swiss chocolate can have hazelnut paste in it” or “the brazil nut allergen stays in your saliva, so no kissing him after you eat them”, and those was from immediate family members who lived with him and had seen how bad the initial allergic reaction was. It’s easy to make mistakes, but we’ve never made the same mistake more than once.

            (Also, this one didn’t catch me out, but I did spot that Sainsbury’s did a Milk Chocolate spread and a Milk Chocolate Hazelnut spread, and BOTH of those have hazelnuts in them. It’s like they’re TRYING to kill people with nut allergies! >:[ )

      2. Simona*

        This is so angering to me. There are literally the thing he is allergic to? I just don’t understand what is so hard to understand. I understand forgetting or not realizing that some things are made of other things, but the straight up giving the food they are allergic to. What is wrong with people?

        1. learnedthehardway*

          The ones I have no tolerance for are the ones who don’t believe a) in the allergy or b) that the person has that allergy. Luckily, my son’s school was well on top of that, as I would have gone ballistic otherwise, when a kid decided that they would try to force feed a walnut to my son to see whether he really did or didn’t have an allergy.

          Even so, I really have to think things through when it comes to buying snack foods for a youth organization I’m the local president of – I’m laser focused on my kid’s allergens, but have had learn to beware of peanuts for others.

    2. WeirdChemist*

      Related to your anecdote, I once had a roommate try and cook dinner for a mutual friend with a severe dairy allergy. “I know you can’t do dairy so I didn’t use any butter in the sauce! The ingredients were tomatoes, onions, peppers, a bit of cheese…”

      With dairy at least, I think people get intolerance and allergy confused. Lactose intolerance is when your gut can’t process certain foods, but there’s no immune response to it, and there’s plenty of dairy products that are low enough in lactose that they’re fine (plus plenty of people who will risk symptoms for certain foods lol). Whereas an allergy is an immune response, and consuming food with that protein (not lactose) will cause long-term damage to yourself. Different from gluten, where what people call an “intolerance” is actually immune response and is really more of an allergy!

      1. Allonge*

        While this can be the case, a lot of people who never had to, don’t think about food that much and then ‘dairy’ can be a vague concept.

        Cheese is cheese and not milk, for some people eggs fall under the dairy category based on where it sits in stores, and so on. Similarly, people may know they need to aviod flour for a celiac, but they don’t necessarily think that a cookie crumble is an issue (own experience).

        1. londonedit*

          Yep, exactly this. A lot of the time people think ‘vegan’ means ‘OK for people with allergies’, and then my sister (no dairy or gluten, but not vegan or even vegetarian) has to explain that while there’s no dairy in that couscous salad, the couscous itself is made with wheat, which she can’t eat. It’s the same as people struggling with what is and isn’t vegetarian – some people even struggle with whether or not vegetarians would eat fish or eggs, but many more people wouldn’t consider things like gelatine or rennet, and wouldn’t even think to look for them on a label, but most strict vegetarians wouldn’t eat them.

          1. kalli*

            I still remember getting someone to ask if the fries contained dairy and the owner came over and was like ‘they’re gluten free!!!’.

            Nice to know, but that was written on the board and I actually needed to know if they were the frozen kind that have skim milk powder as a filler so I didn’t die.

            Now I live with someone who makes sourdough and gets mad if I don’t prepare food for myself while he’s stretching the dough. There’s usually a few days a week I have to go without meals because his sourdough process is that involved, or he wants to make a big milk gravy and pot roast and have his friends over, and he literally burst into tears and asked if he had germs after he took a nearly empty makeup container and cleaned it then put it in his breakfast bowl to be washed later, said bowl still with milk and wheat left in the bottom!

            And gluten is *hard* to truly decontaminate from, which is why so many places offer GF with a disclaimer because they can’t double clean the kitchen in between preparing a single dish and so can’t guarantee it’s truly GF. Milk people just think only kids can be allergic to it and adults are just lactose intolerant. I wouldn’t ask anyone to order something else for me from the same place, I wouldn’t ask anyone else to order for me at all and if I can’t sort out my own food I’m not eating and if that means they don’t include me then the solution is either I deal with choosing to not die, or they do some other activity, not trusting someone else to pick something safe and keep it that way.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Wow, it is not okay for the person you live in to *get mad at you* for taking the steps you need to take to keep yourself safe. It’s generous of you to allow him to restrict your access to the kitchen when he’s playing with his sourdough, but he needs to grow up and stop making endangering you all about his feelings.

          2. Jay (no, the other one)*

            My husband has a dairy allergy (thankfully not severe enough to worry about cross-contamination) and a lot of servers think mayonnaise is dairy. And then there was the server whose response to “I have a dairy allergy” was “We only have one gluten-free option on the menu.” Which meant that hubs was afraid to eat anything on the menu that might possibly have dairy because he didn’t trust the server. He ended up with a piece of steak and steamed veggies.

          3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            Whaaaat. Not doubting your experience, but how clueless does even one person, let alone “lots”, need to be to have zero experience with either vegans or allergies? And to have never noticed that, say, steaks are never ever labeled “vegan”?

            Couscous is extra hard because a lot of people think it’s a grain rather than pasta.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              Yeah I’ve definitely had people say “gluten free, that’s the same as vegan, right?” and there’s even a store near me which has started putting the vegan wheat-baked goods in the “gluten free” section – when I complained they said “Oh that’s the same.”

            2. londonedit*

              What I mean is that people seem to have conflated ‘vegan’ with ‘gluten/dairy-free’, or more generally ‘restricted diet’ in their heads, so they think ‘someone has a gluten/dairy allergy, vegan food must be fine for them’. I don’t know why, maybe they just think ‘vegan food is the most restrictive thing I can imagine, so it’s surely fine’. Same with the whole egg issue, where a significant number of people really do believe that eggs fall into the same category as ‘dairy’. Which is even weirder here in the UK where eggs aren’t kept anywhere near the dairy in the supermarket (they’re not refrigerated and are generally somewhere the other baking things like flour and sugar). My sister has had the ‘OMG this has mayonnaise in it, you can’t have mayonnaise, can you?’ thing – in fact, in this country at least, full-fat mayonnaise is completely dairy-free. It’s only the ‘lower fat’ versions that aren’t, because they replace some of the oil with milk products.

              1. Dread Pirate Roberts*

                I’d give people a pass on mayonnaise given some of us (hi, it’s me) don’t really know what’s in it and have never thought about it. “It’s white and milky looking so maybe there’s some milk?” If I weren’t putting a lot of thought into it I’d probably assume I shouldn’t serve it to someone with a dairy allergy. Most people with allergies know they have to be vigilant because the world is not an expert on their allergy.

                I volunteer with a community kitchen and even being educated on allergens, we have to scrutinize labels to make sure ingredients don’t contain one of the 14 allergens that need to be disclosed under UK law, and for a lot of things it’s not intuitive at all. We just had a debate about whether our oat milk was gluten free and even though oats are, it turns out some oat milks aren’t. The Oatly website for example says “When it comes to gluten, it depends on where you live. In the US, our products are made from certified gluten-free oats and (consequently) labelled as gluten-free. In Europe and Asia, however, our products contain a small amount of gluten…”

              2. Clisby*

                I’m in the US, and the mayo I buy is completely dairy-free as well. I’m not even sure what kind of mayo here would have any dairy in it.

                This sent me down the rabbit hole of US Department of Agriculture regulations, and it looks to me like anything labeled “mayonnaise” cannot contain dairy products.

            3. londonedit*

              I will also say that my own mother has done the couscous thing, when we were out and about and she was tasked with going to buy food from a cafe while we grabbed a table outdoors. She came back fretting that there hadn’t been much my sister could eat, but said ‘I found this vegan salad, though! Everything else had cheese!!’. And yes, the salad was indeed vegan – but it also had couscous in it. My mum knows that couscous is made with wheat, but in that ‘can’t find anything she can eat’ moment her brain chose to latch on to the ‘this one doesn’t have cheese!’ rather than ‘crap, even this one has couscous’.

            4. Allonge*

              Eh, it gets really complicated.

              If someone never had to think about what they eat in the context of ‘this might kill you’, there is a strong chance that they have their own food preferences and are aware of some different food traditions, but that’s it, especially if they don’t cook much or complicated things. It’s like – I don’t have a car, I have not driven one for over a decade, I would not know how often they need maintenance or what I need to do to prepare for winter driving, simply because there is nothing in my life that would make it necessary to know.

              A lot of food-related stuff is also very individual: vegetarian does not have a single universal definition, allergies or intolerances have different levels, people’s tolerances or tastes change and so on.

              1. Colette*

                Yeah, exactly. I have a friend who doesn’t eat dairy because it affects her asthma – but she can have a little if she really wants to eat whatever it is, she just knows she’ll be coughing for a few days. I have an intolerance to peppers, but spices are generally OK even if they have peppers in them. My cousin is vegetarian except when he visits his dad (who raises his own cows/chickens). What people can (or are willing to) eat is very individual.

                I know that flour and wheat has gluten in it, but am less clear about other grains (oats, barley, flax, etc.) If I’m feeding someone with a gluten allergy, I will figure it out, but I don’t know off the top of my head, and if I’m, say, picking up a snack to share at work, it won’t be top of mind.

          4. WeirdChemist*

            Yeah, soooo many vegan products have nuts in them! Or soy, or seitan (sp?) which is basically just pure gluten lol

            It’s tough out there for people with lots of allergies!

            1. CityMouse*

              A little boy in my son’s class is currently doing an elimination diet for his eczema and that one is quite tough. No wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, or nuts. I tried vegan gluten free recipes and so many have nuts or soy.

          5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Developed an allergy to onion/garlic/that whole family a few years back and there were quite a few people who couldn’t quite understand that even the things listed down the bottom of the ingredients can set it off.

            (That means garlic powder in marmite rice cakes which I’m really annoyed at since that ingredient isn’t in marmite).

            I gave up on food at work – I couldn’t trust any of it.

          6. NotRealAnonForThis*

            If I had a dollar for every time I was offered a GF menu or was told “but its GF!” when I ask about dairy-free, I’d have a completely paid up pre-purchased college plan for both kids.

        2. Antilles*

          for some people eggs fall under the dairy category based on where it sits in stores
          Until literally right now (and a subsequent Google search), I was not aware that people with dairy allergies can have eggs. Admittedly I’ve only ever known one person with a dairy allergy, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t eat eggs either. I’m guessing that means he had both a dairy allergy and an egg allergy simultaneously?

          1. londonedit*

            Most likely. Dairy means milk products; eggs are obviously not a milk product. But so, so many people conflate the two. Maybe because vegans don’t eat eggs or dairy? Or maybe because milk and egg allergies can often go together? I don’t know. But yeah, the whole ‘eggs and dairy’ thing is really stuck in many people’s minds.

            1. EmF*

              Traditionally, on farms, eggs and milk products fell under the “stuff that is taken care of by the wife” category, so they wound up in the same section at agricultural shows and markets.

          2. NotRealAnonForThis*

            Possibly. Or possibly just doesn’t care for eggs. I know people who fit both “deathly allergic to both egg and milk” and “can’t stand eggs” categories.

      2. CityMouse*

        My very close friend has celiac and boy that’s one people don’t get. It’s akin to an allergy, a little tiny bit absolutely can cause the inflammation. If I’m going to cook for her, I spend at least half an hour on cleaning before I get started.

      3. lilsheba*

        My husband is like that. Lactose intolerant BUT can eat orange cheese and pizza with no issue. However he can’t drink milk or do white cheese. So we have lactose free milk in the house and a lot of cheese!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          My roommate grew up with untreated lactose intolerance, so she developed a strong aversion to a lot of dairy-containing products (whether or not the particular product contain large amounts of lactose). So she generally avoids milk unless it’s an ingredient in something else, won’t eat any cheese (even the hard kinds without much lactose), only eats cream if it’s ice cream, and loves yogurt.

        2. Lis*

          Not to question your husbands experience but in my country the only difference between red and white versions of the same cheese is they add a colour to the red version. Annatto I think. which they don’t do to young cheeses so they are always white. Mature cheese have lower lactose, so not that it matters but your husband may be able to tolerate say extra vintage white cheddar, but seeing as it doesn’t make much difference to the taste probably not worth messing with.

    3. DJ Abbott*

      *Sigh* the stuff called “vegetable oil” is actually soybean oil, and has been since I identified my soy allergy in 1991. Most chefs and restaurant workers don’t understand this, and I have to show them to the ingredient label to make it clear.
      Generally “vegetable” on ingredient labels is code for soy.

      1. Miette*

        I didn’t know this until last month when I decided to switch from using canola oil to something else for everyday use and got to wondering wth even is in this product. I expected it to be some kind of blend, but it’s just soybean oil. I pride myself on being as vigilant as I can when cooking for my friends and family, but if I were serving food to someone with a soy allergy I wouldn’t have known that.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Yes, I wonder how many people have had medical emergencies because they don’t just call it what it is.
          A few years ago I got sufficiently annoyed to file a complaint with the FDA. I’m sure many have. They do nothing.
          I’ve seen a few blends. It usually says it’s a blend on the front label.

      2. Arthenonyma*

        Interestingly, this is very regional – in the UK “vegetable oil” is rapeseed oil. I remember someone telling me excitedly that they were switching to rapeseed oil for some dubious health benefit and I had to gentle explain that it was just the same stuff they were using already. (I wonder if perhaps they’d got the idea from a US article or site.)

      3. bamcheeks*

        Huh, I’ve just checked this because it surprised me, and it looks like in the UK it’s more likely to be rapeseed oil! But I would also have assumed it was a blend rather than one specific thing that’s coy about its origin.

      4. I Have RBF*


        “Oh, it’s not soybean oil, it’s vegetable oil!”
        I look at ingredients – soy, sunflower and canola.
        “Soybeans are a vegetable, therefore vegetable oil can contain soybean oil, and usually does.”

        Vegetable broth always includes celery, celery seed, and soy – all of which I’m allergic to, to varying degrees. Even tuna packed in “water” is actually packed in “vegetable broth”.

    4. TheSüperflüoüsUmlaüt*

      I’m not surprised. We had a meal at a restaurant which boasted an entire “gluten-free!” section on their menu (all items accompanied by a side salad). We ordered the gluten-free frittata. The side salad was … pasta salad. The waitress simply Did. Not. Get. what the problem was.

      1. Paint N Drip*

        Too relatable! I’m allergic to chicken and sensitive to dairy, as a partial list of my food issues. Recent family holiday-adjacent dinner I arrived to pizza and wings – they didn’t get extra cheese, I was told that was for me :)

        1. La Triviata*

          I keep hearing stories about servers who don’t understand that people asking for gluten-free food or dairy-free or even just decaf coffee – they think they’re asking for something “special” because they think it’s trendy or something and don’t realize it can make people sick or even kill them.

          1. Garblesnark*

            Yeah. I can’t have caffeine for medical reasons and order coffee like this: “I need decaf. If I have caffeine, we will have to call EMS. So in that decaf latte, can I please have…”

          2. Laura L*

            In what universe is decaf trendy? I get so much shit from people for asking for decaf coffee later in the day. Most coffee drinkers wouldn’t be caught near decaf.

    5. pally*

      Yeah I’m often shocked at how little some folks understand about food-let alone food allergies, sensitivities, diets, etc.

      Once, someone asked me what gluten was. They’d never heard of it before. I tried to explain.
      They actually suggested that I just pick it out of the food we were served (lemon bars with a crust).
      Guess I didn’t explain it too well.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        A friend’s mom once asked if I could pick the chicken pieces out of the chicken soup.

    6. TigressInTech*

      I was reading these comments and walked over to the coffee machine in the hotel room I’m in, and discovered the “Non-Dairy Creamer” has a “Contains milk” label on the back of it (it has a milk derivative in it). Even when something is commercially produced you can’t always trust the label. I would definitely assume ignorance on the part of the boss here.

  6. Myrin*

    #2, the obvious solution seems to me to ask Lance if he’d be available at a later starting date. Since neither OP nor her boss seem to consider that at all, there’s probably a reason it’s not possible – like Lance has already given notice at his old place or he’s currently unemployed and absolutely needs something now or he’s already weighing other offers etc. – but since it hasn’t been mentioned at all in the letter I still wanted to bring it up in case it was simply overlooked.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I think the obvious solution is to find out if Lance would still be available 3 months from now or if not the latest he could be and then talk to Gary.

      And I do think it’s fair push for Gary to set a firm departure date and to push him to make it closer to 3 months for the company’s sake.

      As a planner but also as a person who without a firm deadline or plan will let inertia keep me on the path of least resistance (ie not doing the hard tasks associated with making a move), I’d ben concerned that Gary’s departure may drag out.

      It’s fair to tell Gary, we appreciate advance notice, but at some point we need to move forward too. Apparently once his replacement is hired, Gary cannot stay on much longer. But if your company can swing it, an overlap of even 2 weeks might make the transition smoother.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This does make sense, and is one of the reasons I don’t advise people to give long notice periods – but this attitude is also a disincentive to staff to give long notice periods in future. “The company doesn’t want to drag it out” is exactly what people are afraid of if they give more than 2-3 weeks (I once offered three weeks, but our HR department said they like everyone’s job to end on the last day of the month so as to ensure they don’t get one iota of insurance benefit extra, so I ended up with an unexpected week off that I wasn’t paid for).

      2. MigraineMonth*

        The way I see it, the culture of giving long notices is massively beneficial for the company. They can start hiring processes and maybe have replacements in place before people leave, have smoother transitions, etc. It’s also risky for the employees, as we see with Gary. Any indication that they’re pushing Gary out earlier than he intended jeopardizes that culture. Is it worth it just for the opportunity to hire Lance now?

        LW’s boss can go back to Gary and ask for clarification or a firmer end date, but I think expecting Gary to leave after 3 months would be the wrong call. Yeah, the company might lose the chance to hire Lance. But the company wouldn’t have been able to hire Lance anyway if Gary only gave the standard 2 weeks notice.

        Gary isn’t doing anything to hurt the company by giving a very long notice period; he’s being very generous, and the company is obligated not to use that information against him.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        It’s also possible Gary only gave such advance notice because it seems to be The Done Thing at this company. It’s entirely possible once asked for more specifics – knowing nobody minds if it’s sooner – he’d gladly cut it shorter. Or not. But no way to know without talking about it.

  7. Nodramalama*

    LW1 do you have any sense of whether your boss forgets you cannot eat gluten, or if they don’t know/can’t remember what contains gluten? You would be surprised how often people get confused. I have some friends who are celaic, some are gluten intolerant and some are on low FODMAP diets and it can get a bit confusing remember who can eat what

    1. LW1*

      I do not. And honestly, I don’t blame her for not remembering, as it is probably my own fault. I’m not great at speaking up and typically pass the things I am given to other teammates without a fuss. I know it is hard for people, I forget sometimes myself. (Like I literally bought soy sauce at the store one day and *facepalm* it’s made from wheat.) I’ve never really ‘complained’, because I’m not sure how to say it.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I know it’s hard if you’re not used to speaking up, but “I appreciate it, but I can’t eat this due to my [celiac]/[gluten allergy]” is a 1000% reasonable thing to say.

      2. Tea*

        “My boss is aware of this dietary restriction, yet continues to give me the “gift” of gluten-containing items”
        “And honestly, I don’t blame her for not remembering, as it is probably my own fault. I’m not great at speaking up and typically pass the things I am given to other teammates without a fuss”

        Yeah okay no. Sounds like we’ve cracked the code then lol. You’ll just have to get more comfortable with speaking up because like, the answer is right there in both your question and your follow up <3

      3. kalli*

        If you’re taking them then there’s genuinely no reason for your boss to remember and they might well think you’re taking them in the spirit intended and then checking ingredients for yourself if they have.

        “I can’t eat this,” is valid. You can soften it with the “sorry” or “This has gluten so I don’t think it’s safe for me to eat it” kinds of phrasing around it. You can also go “It’s better not to give me food since so much packaged food has gluten in it!” (which it does, it’s a very common binder for anything from frozen veggie patties to ‘healthy’ fruit sweets) and suggest something you would like, or a restaurant you have talked to whom you know can serve you something that won’t hurt to eat.

        My boss will get something specially for me and genuinely does not care a whit if I take it, read the ingredients right there and if I can’t eat it, give it to someone else (or even take it home to give to family). But part of the reason she does that is because every time I’m in the office for a lunch or a meeting I’m asking for the menu or where they’re ordering from and lately I’ve just gone ‘I won’t be eating because I’m super sensitive at the moment’ and it’s all been 100% okay, but each time I say that it reinforces that that’s a thing that needs to be considered – even though by now it’s super normalised.

  8. Kella*

    LW1 No advice, just solidarity. I worked at a health food store for five years and 100% of the employee appreciation food sharing was gluten-filled food like pizza, donuts, hot dogs, hamburgers. American-Chinese food, etc. One time they let me pick out a frozen gluten-free pizza from our freezer section and then they forgot about it and burnt it *head desk* At least I got a lot of free gluten-free food by working in the grocery department and getting first dibs on new product samples and written-off items.

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah, last summer I went to a barbecue at a friend’s house, and when I arrived my friend said ‘We’ve got veggie burgers and sausages!’. Great, I thought. Only problem was, my friend’s uncle was in charge of the cooking, and when the food was ready there was no sign of anything veggie. I asked, and he said ‘Oh! Yes, I think we did have some vegetarian things…I didn’t bother cooking them, though, not sure who’d want them’. So I ended up eating salad while I waited for a veggie burger to cook. And you just know the uncle would have gone away from that telling everyone ‘Ugh, I spent all afternoon cooking and there was STILL an awkward vegetarian who insisted on something different’.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I once worked at this very large school, where a member of my team was a vegetarian and every time the school chef made us something for a breakfast or lunch meeting (they were big on us getting bacon butties and sandwiches etc) he would make her cheese on toast. Every. single. time. He even made her cheese on toast for a Christmas dinner event. She wasn’t a big lover of cheese so she asked for something else occasionally and he said “Well, there aren’t many vegetarians in the building…” (there definitely were, they just ate out), “….so I wouldn’t know what else to stock..”

        1. CommanderBanana*

          He’s a chef. A CHEF, for god’s sake.

          That’s just pure-D laziness.

  9. bringing kites to the picnic*

    LW3 (lateral move, slightly lower salary):

    If the pay cut would be painful, then withdraw from consideration.

    But if it just seems like an option you “shouldn’t” take, because even a small pay cut is a move in the “wrong” direction, try to set those preconceptions aside as you evaluate your options.

    You mentioned greater opportunity for career progression, and better mentorship, and hopefully a more pleasant day-to-day. Those things have value, and could easily offset a small reduction in pay. Especially if this move does indeed result in career progression in the next few years.

    I’m not a chess player, but I know the most powerful pieces are the ones that can move sideways or backward when it is strategically advantageous. Don’t limit yourself to the options of a pawn.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Agree with all of this. Humans are naturally loss averse (so losing money feels more painful than being given the same amount of money feels good). If everything else looks better and it really is a fairly nominal amount of money that won’t make a meaningful impact on your finances, I’d still go for it.

    2. Hyaline*

      Agree. The difference in pay sounds small—one cost of living increase—which means LW could be right back where they are now via normal raise cycles soon. I’d accept that for better management, better advancement prospects, or work I enjoyed more! If LW is really worried about pay, though, I’d also ask what the raise schedule/prospects look like.

    3. SheLooksFamiliar*

      ‘I’m not a chess player, but I know the most powerful pieces are the ones that can move sideways or backward when it is strategically advantageous. Don’t limit yourself to the options of a pawn.’

      Or as a career coach once told me, ‘Sometimes you have to back up to have room to speed up.’

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        “Sometimes you have to back up to have room to speed up.”

        LOVE this!

      2. Katie N.*

        “Or as a career coach once told me, ‘Sometimes you have to back up to have room to speed up.’”

        Um, this just blew my mind.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          Oh, WOW, I like this and have lived it in my career! It’s so true!

      3. Ama*

        As someone about to transition to a freelance career (and thus likely taking a big step back financially at least for a while), I might pin this to my office bulletin board.

    4. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Based on your description I would take the job. The future potential is worth the small pay cut. I once took a fairly substantial pay cut to get rid of a lengthy, unpredictable commute. I never regretted it and recovered my pay level and more within 3 years.

    5. Miette*

      This is so well said, and I came to say just that (though it wouldn’t have been as eloquent :))

      I made a similar move over a decade ago and it meant I was able to transition into an industry where I could work for a cause I believed in, and I was very happy I did. There are other benefits to making a strategic move like this one may be for you, so you should consider that in your choice. Unless the salary change will be untenable, I’d give it serious consideration. And perhaps they can make it up but offering another benefit, perhaps a few more days of PTO if it’s allowed to make that adjustment in your org.

    6. Evelyn Karnate*

      Great analogy! French has an expression, “Reculer pour mieux sauter.” (“Step back to leap forward.”)

    7. Sloanicota*

      This can go either way. Right now OP is seeing the job through the natural rose-colored glasses of an applicant, and she’s still not sure how she feels about the paycut. How will she feel when the job inevitably has its own challenges and frustrations, and she’s thinking about that bottom line? What if it takes her a year or more just to get back to where she was on salary – how will she feel? There’s no right answer, it varies from person to person. Personally I work to live so getting the most pay possibl for my hours of labor is important to me.

    8. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I appreciate this thread. I’m considering a similar move and have gotten really hung up on the advice “moving jobs is the only time to meaningfully increase your salary”. There’s so much contradictory advice for job seekers, sometimes you lose sight of the bigger picture.

      1. Venus*

        There’s something to be said for potential as well as actual salary. Maybe this other job would be a small step back, but it also has the potential to be making more in a few years, and that’s more valuable in a well-managed workplace.

      2. Cmdrshprd*

        ““moving jobs is the only time to meaningfully increase your salary”. There’s so much contradictory advice for job seekers,”

        Maybe this is semantics, but I don’t think it is really contradictory, both can be true at once.

        I think in general yes moving jobs is the time to get significant raises.

        But that by itself does not mean (or is saying) you should never take a pay cut to move into a field/role with a higher earning potential.

    9. sometimeswhy*

      All of this. Sometimes you have to take a small step back to proceed in the way that you want. Given everything you’ve said, if it were me and the pay dip wouldn’t affect my quality of life, I’d do it.

    10. LW3*

      Thank you Alison and the AAM community for weighing in on my letter (#3)! This thread in particular is a good reality check, and illuminating to hear how others are seeing this, or from those who have made similar moves. I do think it’s a little short-sighted of the company not to find the small amount it would take to fully close the gap, but I appreciate knowing that asking for more would risk reflecting poorly on me. The chess metaphor is what I needed to feel excited about the new role again. Amazing imagery, along with ‘back up for room to speed up.’

      1. Chriama*

        > I do think it’s a little short-sighted of the company not to find the small amount it would take to fully close the gap,

        But the company also has their own considerations. You mention that the promotion opportunity was a *slight* increase, so it seems like maybe this company’s pay scale is lower than your current one. It’s not unreasonable for them to decide that meeting your pay would put your compensation too high compared to other employees at that level. They can like you as a candidate and still decide that they’re not ok with adding that dynamic to their department.

        1. LW3*

          It’s the same company for an internal role, so they use same pay scale that was formalized and made public about a year ago. But yes, I do see their motivation of not wanting to extend the highest possible salary for a position that’s edging into the lowest salary for the next senior position, which is where I’m currently at and why the more senior level makes more sense at the stage. It does make me newly aware that lateral and internal transitions can be trickier than you might think!

  10. Emmy Noether*

    #5 In my experience it’s actually very common for people to apply to two different jobs at the same company. It shocks no-one, and if both applications a taylored to the role and both seem like a decent fit, it doesn’t look desperate. At the small company I work for, there’s usually a note put in the system by HR (“also applied for…”). They’ll probably ask you about your preference if they interview you (at least they should).

    1. ChurchOfDietCoke*

      Yep, absolutely normal in the company I work for. There’s a tickybox in the HR system to link the applications together.

    2. sometimeswhy*

      I have interviewed or been on panel interviews for the same person in different departments a a dozen times over the last five years. It’s only ever been weird for them and they haven’t been selected only by the narrowest of margins in some cases. I really think they’d be valuable to the organization and love it that they keep trying (and have told them so.)

  11. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP5 (IT manager and customer service manager roles both appeal) – yes, apply for the customer service one as well. However, depending on the size of the company (it’s “local” so I inferred it is a smaller company, but may not be) – is it significant that two fairly key management roles have become vacant at the same time like this? It’s worth probing about that at your interview(s) when you get that far.

    1. ChurchOfDietCoke*

      Maybe they hated each other for years and then got into a relationship…

  12. Michigander*

    LW5 reminds me of my husband. He told me once that when he was younger, probably 20ish, he used to only apply for one job at a time and wait until he heard back before applying to another. He thought he owed some kind of loyalty to the company he had applied to and that they should have dibs on him until they decided whether they were interested in him or not.

    He has since realised that that is not the way the world works. No one will think it’s odd for you to apply to more than one job at a time, and waiting to hear back about the first job means you risk the second job opening closing, especially since often these days companies don’t feel the need to tell you that you haven’t been selected for an interview.

    1. Anima*

      Wow, I tend to do understand instructions really literally, but your husband took it literally and then some – why would he be loyal to a company that might not even now he exists? Glad he changed his ways!

    2. WellRed*

      I got a whiff of that. OP just assume you’ll not get hired there and mentally cross it off.

    3. Generic Name*

      Woah. I’ve applied to plenty of jobs where I never heard a peep from the company ever again. For some places that means I haven’t heard back in 20 years haha. When did your husband decide it was ok to move on after hearing nothing?

    4. Sloanicota*

      Ha, this is how publishing used to work. “No simultaneous submissions” – so even though most people got rejected, you were supposed to wait to be rejected before moving on, because it was more convenient for the publishers. Less common now but you still see it in smaller literary magazines.

    5. Ally McBeal*

      Imagine viewing dating the same way – once you’ve matched with someone on Bumble you aren’t supposed to match with anyone else or go on any other first dates until you’ve decided the other person isn’t the right match. (I actually saw a Reddit post a couple weeks ago by someone who was mad that a guy she’d gone on a first date with was still seeing other people despite never having discussed becoming exclusive on that first date.) Bananapants.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Hah, actually I think this is a much more reasonable strategy when applied to romantic partners. I tend to decide very quickly if someone is partner material, and then just not be interested in anyone else. Also I’ll want to see them at every opportunity. Who even has the time and energy to date multiple people?

        I’m much less attached to job offers, which I judge on rational criteria, not lovey feelings and butterflies. Also, I need a job and will take a non-perfect one, while I did hold out for a perfect-for-me partner.

      2. allathian*

        This is why I’m glad to be out of the dating market, I’m exclusive from the first date and expect the same from the other person. I’m not comfortable dating casually. I’ve had FWBs in my twenties and early thirties so I’m not opposed to casual relations, but being exclusive is essential for me to get emotionally involved with someone. Is “demiromantic” a thing?

        I met my husband on a blind date that was set up by my bestie, whose husband used to work with one of my husband’s friends. They set up a date between the “perpetual singles” in their respective social circles, and the rest is history. But our connection was tenuous enough that if it hadn’t worked out, it wouldn’t have been awkward.

        I used to feel the same way about interviewing, but I got past that when I was unemployed for a few months and had to submit a certain number of applications every week.

        That said, having unvoiced expectations on a date and getting mad when they don’t comply with the expectations they don’t even know about certainly is bananapants!

  13. matt r*

    good advice for LW1 – a simple, “no thank you, but i appreciate the offer” is fine.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      The problem is, OP’s boss is doing this so that the team will feel appreciated, and only providing things she can’t eat is doing the opposite. OP isn’t worried about how to avoid eating the items, she’s worried about how to avoid the feelings of annoyance and eventually resentment that the boss can’t remember that she can’t eat any of this stuff.

      I have a child with celiac who can’t have gluten, and I see the emotional ups and downs of constantly being excluded from what other kids are eating and the joy when someone makes an effort to be sure he can eat what others do. (We put a lot of effort into making sure he has equivalent treats, but it’s not the same as when someone checks and brings something safe for him.) Those emotions don’t go away just because OP is an adult. Adults with dietary restrictions do have to suck it up and get used to it to some degree, but it still stings to feel like boss can’t be bothered to learn what would actually make OP feel appreciated.

      1. LW1*

        You have very eloquently described that for me. Thank you!
        Tell your kiddo that they’re awesome. :-)

  14. LBright*

    LW2, I’ve been that employee. Moving states in a few months, good boss, lots of notice with no exact date. When the company knew who they wanted to hire they asked me to set a firm last day. It was still over a month out but everyone, most importantly the new hire, knew when he would get to start.

  15. Special Specialist*

    Re: #4
    I actually have done monthly updates when I didn’t get the offer for organizational reasons – like the client didn’t come through so there wasn’t a budget for my position but they were hoping to need my skillset in the future.

    The thing is though- my emails weren’t just “do you have a job for me yet?” I was unemployed at the time so I provided highlights and key takeaways about networking and industry events i had attended, speakers I saw, an article that made me think differently, that kind of thing. They were short – 175 words maximum with a link or two. But I wanted to show I was staying active even if I was also effectively begging for a job.

    I was also still interviewing and as I got ghosted by companies in late-stage interview process, I would just add my interviewer to my distribution “list”. Of course i always offered to remove people from the list but no one ever said that.

    It was the Great Recession and I was younger then so maybe I was less embarrassed about my desperate job search. But… it worked! An employer said that a client came through and they needed to staff a project and my email popped into his inbox and could I come interview again?

    When I became a full-time employee there, my last monthly update to the rest of the group was to thank them for encouraging me, even though no one else ever wrote back to my monthly update. I got a few “congrats on the new job!” Replies, so that was nice.

    1. LW4*

      I don’t think I’m ballsy enough for that, but I’m glad it worked out! Thanks for sharing, it makes me feel less weird about following up into a sort of void. (I mean, they’re always quick to respond, but when it’s over an indefinite time with the same response, it feels like a void.)

  16. kalli*

    LW2, so what’s the plan with Gary anyway – does he just like, keep showing up until one day he doesn’t? Even if there wasn’t a Lance, someone has to figure out what Gary’s transition looks like – especially since it sounds like his duties can’t be covered by just anyone who’s got a lighter load.

    Why hasn’t that started?

  17. I should really pick a name*

    Some suggestions for #1

    Give your boss a small list of acceptable treats for you (substitutes for pizza doughnuts etc..) including where to get them.

    Buy (and expense) a box of treats and give it to your boss. Ask them to give you one whenever they’re handing out treats. A friend of mine did this. It took a bit to convince their boss they’d be happy with that same treat, but it worked out.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      I know parents of kids with celiac who keep a box of gluten free cupcakes or similar in the freezer in the nurse’s office at their kid’s school so that they can pull one out every time there’s an unexpected classroom birthday celebration. Definitely better than nothing!

    2. LW1*

      Oh man, I really like that idea! I feel guilty saying that I need something different, and even moreso because lot of gluten free items are insanely expensive. I can buy something that is shelf stable and just tell her to give it to me when she passes out snacks to others. Thanks so much for the idea!

      1. allathian*

        And if she’s a good boss who really wants to do something nice for all her employees, she’ll probably offer to reimburse you.

  18. Also-ADHD*

    For LW3, the department isn’t in the wrong because their budget is their budget, but the company is a bit wrong, as so many are, because really encouraging lateral moves to develop talent (and making painless to the employee) is going to be key to attracting and developing the best talent and improving talent density.

    I would say that improving talent density is kind of an obvious move in terms of the projected worker shortage vs needs (in general, it goes past the role specific) that are projected to start and continue longer term with the workforce shrinking and AI disturbances (AI is predicted to improve productivity/reduce jobs but not at the rate we need to address the worker supply crisis in developed nations, what it will do is move jobs around so quickly we lack skills match and companies need horizontal planning as much as d s succession planning).

    Harming candidates for creating that density for you by being willing to take lateral moves that are mutually beneficial because we’re allocating department budgets separately and thinking off finance through the old school factory model is super common but a bag box of bees, frankly. I understand why it feels sucky. But it comes down to the flawed way companies budget and act like a bunch of independent pieces, instead of one holistic machine.

  19. Hendry*

    I’m not sure exactly how to resolve the Gary/Lance situation, but this is a cautionary tale against disclosing things like this too early. Even in great organizations things can come up like this that throw a wrench into your plans

    1. Annony*

      I don’t think the main problem is the amount of time, it is the lack of information. Do not partially give notice. Saying you are leaving and not having an actual end date puts everyone in an awkward position. Wait until you can give an end date and then give notice (assuming the organization ahs a good track record with extended notice periods).

      1. doreen*

        Yes, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem if Gary said today that his last day would be August 15 because he’s moving out of state for some particular reason (because his wife is starting graduate school , for example) . The problem is just that he said he’s leaving , probably three or four months from now. But that could really mean it turns out to be five or six months from now or that his plans change and he doesn’t end up moving at all so it’s really hard to make plans that depend on him leaving.

      2. Hendry*

        Yes, that’s what I was getting at – don’t announce you’re leaving ’til you know when you’re leaving :)

      3. Person from the Resume*

        I agree with this and said kind of the same thing. But you make an excellent point.

        If LW’s boss knew the date of Gary’s departure now, he could talk to Lance now about if Lance would like to start work on X date.

      4. Industry Behemoth*

        @doreen – Yes. I wondered if it’s Gary who may be applying to schools, and a firm departure date depends on when and where he gets admitted or hired.

  20. Dinwar*

    #5: Recently my group interviewed an applicant. We liked her, but saw that she was also a good fit for another department, so my manager handed her resume to the manager of the other department and said “Interview her. One of us will hire her, it’s just a question of which one.” She took the other job, but honestly it’s still a win for the company. And, honestly, for my group, as the way the company is structured she still can–and wants to–help us out from time to time! That’s not the first time I’ve done that, either; it’s fairly routine. And it’s super common for applicants to have applied to multiple jobs within the company.

    Point being, apply for the other job. It’s not going to hurt your application, and may in fact help.

  21. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    1. Allergic to onion and garlic and you’d be amazed (or not) just how much onion powder is used in flavouring for everything these days. I tried, like you did, to explain that unless I know 100% that the food doesn’t have alliums in it I’m not eating it but that information just didn’t stick.

    Sadly, I just had to keep repeating the ‘I have an allergy, I can’t eat this’ and carry on. I sincerely hope you have better luck than I did.

  22. Bermy BerpBerp*

    OP3: They might be stuck on salary to keep in line with similar roles. Is there any other compensation you could negotiate that would make up for it? An extra week of vacation, bump up to the next level of health insurance, higher 401K contribution, etc?

    Once I had an employer who couldn’t give me a specific raise, so they asked me for my preference, and they paid for a nice gym membership ($1,500) instead, along with a few other perks.

    1. Lily Potter*

      I really like this idea. Think outside the box! I suspect that OP3’s hesitation to take a small pay cut is psychological, not financial. It’s common when getting a job for people (men, usually) to ask “Big raise coming your way?” If OP3 takes the job with the pay cut but an extra week of vacation, they can reply in honesty “They made me an attractive offer!”

  23. CityMouse*

    For #3, the fact that they won’t match the current salary is troubling to me. I know there’s the whole budget thing but expecting someone to take a pay cut as an internal hire is quite squicky. I’ve been in internal hiring discussions and it’s always been a basic starting point that we have to match (or, usually, exceed) current salary.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, I’d make sure to ask not just about the starting salary but about what increases would look like in the future.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      It’s especially strange since it’s a lateral move. You’d think the job would be in the same salary band. Then again, if it’s only 1% off or something, maybe it is. But then if it were so small, surely they’d be able to match it? I keep going in circles.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          It may be a lateral move in title/responsibilities but a different team may have different pay for that kind of role. That’s not great, obviously, but I’ve seen it happen where pay is poorly aligned across teams.

        2. Dinwar*

          In my company certain groups are exempt, others are non-exempt, others are hourly, etc. Certain roles are going to be extremely similar and, on the org chart, at the same level, but the difference in how you get paid lead to changes in how much you actually take home. This is true even if your hourly rate doesn’t technically change. For example, if you’re working 50 hours a week in an exempt role you get paid straight pay for 50 hours; if you’re hourly, you get straight pay for 40 hours and time and a half for 10.

    3. Sneaky Squirrel*

      This is a lateral move but this isn’t an internal hire situation. The other candidate that they accepted was the internal hire.

    4. Dinwar*

      I’ve taken a pay cut for a lateral move. It involved a physical relocation (moving across the country), and due to cost of living differences I actually came out ahead on the deal.

      So it can happen, and can even be in the employee’s favor. You just have to be careful. And if there’s no relocation, just a switch in where you are in the org chart, the pay cut may be a deal breaker.

    5. Yes, really*

      My former company (Fortune 100) was known for doing this actually. If the department leadership wanted to “re-adjust” the team’s current salary range, they would do this to new hires, both internal and external. One team in particular tried to readjust current employees’ salaries because they felt like they were making too much money (!). The team pushed back hard and all threatened to quit, so leadership backed off.

      Even if an internal candidate was hired for a similar role with the same title, most of the time, they had to take a pay cut. This is not a well-known thing; otherwise, they would have trouble finding candidates.

      A colleague of mine was offered an internal role that was two levels above her current role (think seal trainee to senior seal training manager). They basically matched her current trainee salary and refused to offer her anything close to the senior manager salary. I strongly encouraged her not to take the role, because not only did she screw herself, she screwed other folks on the team as far as salary bands were concerned. She did not listen to me, and now she is super resentful.

      Obviously, it is a terrible practice but it totally happens.

  24. Person from the Resume*

    The boss is not trying very hard, but it doesn’t sound like she’s for the LW only or in particular. She’s buying for the small work group. And she’s a bit lazy if she can’t remember LW’s gluten allergy/intolerance and delivers an appreciation gift to the LW, but it’s a bit different if it’s just an email that there’s [particular food] in the break room.

    But what would the LW prefer? With pizza, does she want a gluten free pizza? Does the place the boss order from have that option? Box of donuts, box of cookies plus a gluten free option set aside for the LW. At least sometimes that the food token is gluten free.

    I think defining specifically what she’d like in her head first allows her to decide if she wants to give specific instructions on what similar items could be substituted in the future.

  25. Suzie B*

    Why not just fire Gary on the spot? Termination is at will in most states that matter and there’s surely something he can be picked up on to legitimize the termination. You wouldn’t even need to pay severance if you can find a good enough reason.

    1. Annony*

      Because that is a terrible thing to do on a human level and a management level? Gary was a good employee who doesn’t deserve to be fired. He gave a lot of notice knowing his job would be hard to fill. That should not be punished. And from a management perspective, trumping up reasons to fire people will get every good employee with options to leave for companies that treat them with respect.

    2. Colette*

      Because that’s a pretty crappy thing to do and will hurt the OP in the long run when she gets at most 2 weeks notice in the future?

      1. Antilles*

        Seriously. The biggest argument in favor of allowing people to work out their notice periods is because it helps YOU.

        If the owner told Gary he could give you several months of notice and then turned around and broke that arrangement, you are guaranteeing that you will never receive that advance notice in the future. So instead of a nice period to search for a replacement, prepare a detailed transition plan, etc, you’re going to be scrambling with the bare minimum two weeks’ notice.

        Frankly, if you’re ALSO going to “pick up on something to legitimize not paying severance”, I’d expect future employees wouldn’t even give you the standard two weeks because they will absolutely expect you’ll pull the same thing on them.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      WTF?! Nobody in this letter is trying to screw Gary over. Wow. Not only do you have no morals, you aren’t a very good business person if you don’t see why that’s a terrible idea.

      The company owner has seen the benefit of letting employees give long notices. Your terrible suggestion would bite him (and the company) in the ass. It would destroy his reputation as a good employer. People working there now would leave. Other people would hear about it and would not apply there. This is how you tank a successful business.


    4. Hendry*

      You have to be kidding, right? Should they plant drugs on him too like in Trading Places?

    5. Polaris*

      Either new here or something….

      You certainly could.

      Then you’d be writing to AAM, or more likely, a subreddit thread titled “NoBoDy WaNtS tO WoRk”, about how you can’t get employees to give proper notice and how you can’t get people to work for you.

      Its not unrealistic to treat employees how you’d like to be treated as an employee.

    6. Yeah...*

      I think this letter is good example why the road of good intentions can lead to hell.

      If only 2 weeks notice was provided, this question would be moot.

    7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Serious question: why on earth do you think this is a good idea? At-will employment goes both ways. A company or manager who did that should expect people to walk into their office and quit effective immediately, no matter how inconvenient the timing might be for the company.

      If you’re seen to be looking for a reason to “legitimize” the termination, people may also start looking for evidence that they or their colleagues are being fired for illegal reasons. Yes, they can fire you because you’re wearing pink on a Tuesday, or because they woke up with a hangover. But they can’t “randomly” select only women, or only Hispanics, or only people over 40 to fire when the manager wakes up in a bad mood.

    8. Fluffy Fish*

      Because that would make them a terrible being as well as show other employees that the boss will treat them as disposable when it suits them.

      Heavy on the terrible human being part.

    9. Space Needlepoint*

      I hope you don’t manage people directly. Nobody deserves to work for someone who thinks like this.

    10. Observer*

      here’s surely something he can be picked up on to legitimize the termination. You wouldn’t even need to pay severance if you can find a good enough reason.

      I hope you have absolutely no decision making capacity at your employer. And if you do, I hope you have the most nit picky auditor in existence on your tail. Because I would not trust your books, your purchasing, your personnel management, nothing. The combination of just really bad judgement and dishonesty can be lethal to a business.

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “there’s surely something he can be picked up on to legitimize the termination”

      Bloody hell, what a horrible attitude towards employees, hunting for ways to screw them out of the few rights they have in the US.
      Is this how you manage people?

  26. Lily Potter*

    OP1: once upon a time, “gluten-free” meant coeliac disease – eating it, no putting on makeup with gluten in it, no eating at restaurants that might have flour floating in the air. In recent years, it’s also come to mean avoiding gluten for reasons not life-threatening. As a friend of mine puts it, “I’m gluten-free-ish”. The vast majority of the time, she eats gluten free products since they “make her feel better overall” but on occasion she’ll throw it all out the window and eat a donut as a treat. OP1, only you know where you are on the continuum between these scenarios but just be sure that if you’re closer to “true” gluten free that you always walk the walk at work. In other words, if you expect your boss to remember to make special lunch accommodations for you, don’t be seen tasting your co-workers’ Christmas cookies or chowing down on breaded appetizers during happy hour.

    And before the commentariat gets all riled up with righteous indignation – yes, the boss should remember and respect OP1’s dietary choices regardless. My comment is pointed toward getting the boss to remember the restriction. The definition of “gluten-free” has gotten so loosey-goosey in recent years that if OP1 is inconsistent in observing the restriction herself, the boss will be inconsistent in remembering it.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      This is entirely irrelevant and frankly victim blaming. OP does not need to “walk the walk” for her boss to respect her wishes. OP does not need to jump through hoops to “prove” that her requests are valid. This is all about the boss’ behavior.

      Your comment has nothing to do with helping the boss remember. The boss is not scrutinizing OP’s food, then secretly saying to themselves, “Ah, OP’s not really gluten intolerant, so I don’t need to buy anything different”. The boss is likely just forgetful.

      If the *boss* wants to show appreciation to their employees, the *boss* needs to remember their preferences. Just like if I said I hated chocolate, which is not a dietary restriction, it would be crappy of the boss to give me a chocolate bar to show “appreciation”.

      1. ShineSpark*

        I agree. There are numerous reasons people might have different dietary requirements (intolerances, vegan, ARFID, religious, etc), and these shouldn’t be less respected because they’re not life-threatening allergies or have nuance an outside observer might miss. If someone tells you they can’t eat the thing, then they can’t eat the thing. You shouldn’t rules lawyer them about why you disagree.

        The nuance part is important, because people with complex dietary needs might often use a broader or more palatable explanation *because* they’re used to nitpicking from outsiders. It’s easier to say you’re just gluten free than have the same argument about why you can tolerate a small amount of this but not loads of that for the umpteenth time.

        I deal with this in real life. I have texture sensitivities (yay neurodivergance!) that make some foods a struggle to eat without gagging. Some problem foods I can eat if prepared a certain way, but it’s always a judgement call as to whether that’s worth getting into, or whether it’s inviting less scrutiny just to say I can’t eat it at all.

        I would love for my partner’s parents to understand I can’t stomach cooked, wet zucchini, but like it when it’s raw and cruncy. But they just don’t get it, and no amount of arguing will make them stop going “but I saw you eat it (raw) in that salad, why can’t you eat this (cooked dish)?”. So the rule now is no zucchini, ever. And I don’t blame anyone else has to do what they need to do to manage how other people treat their food choices, LW included.

    2. Bast*

      I realize this is a different discussion, but it drives me bonkers when people claim an allergy they don’t have. I CAN’T eat that and I WON’T eat that are not the same thing. And yes, I realize just by saying you are gluten free doesn’t mean you are claiming an allergy, but I’ve run into it a few too many times, and it makes it insanely difficult for people who have real, life threatening allergies who now are taken a bit less seriously because someone who “is allergic to onions” in all actuality just doesn’t like onions.

      I definitely think it can muddy the waters and make it confusing if, say, someone eats *insert gluten filled item here* so boss thinks, “Oh, she ate those, so it must be okay, let me get those!” I do think a bit of it may be just not understanding what gluten is/what has gluten. Allergies and sensitivities can be hard to parse when you/someone you love doesn’t have them. Boss should be a bit more direct and try to speak with employee about what they can eat — ie: We are ordering from ABC Restaurant today, what would you like from there? but barring that, if employee knows they are ordering out that day, it may make sense for them to approach Boss and say, “Hey Boss, I hear we are ordering from ABC Restaurant today. Since I can’t eat pizza, would you mind if I got an *insert comparable item here*” A lot will depend on the relationship between Boss and Employee, but if the Boss truly is trying to appreciate their employees, this request should be small potatoes. In most jobs I’ve worked in, if someone could not eat the food and requested a reasonable alternative, it was never an issue. We ordered gluten free pizzas, salads, etc to accommodate people frequently. I would steer clear if the boss is a, “you should be THANKFUL we even order a pizza, after all we do for you, blah blah” type boss and just paying lip service to them feeling appreciated, but I didn’t get that vibe from the post.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        All of this could be solved if people respected other people’s dietary restrictions, period. You actually don’t need to know if it’s a WON’T or CAN’T situation if someone says to you “Oh I can’t have anything with onions in it.” It doesn’t actually matter, don’t serve them onions or suggest dining out at the Everything Onions restaurant or whatever else.

        I’m saying this as someone with food allergies. I don’t care if other people simply WON’T eat the foods I’m allergic to and instead say they CAN’T; sometimes saying they CAN’T is the only way to get someone to listen. As we’ve seen in lots of AAM posts over the years, people generally do not take food restrictions (whether religious, allergy, or preference) terribly seriously; I’m all for allowing people this one thing if it helps them get something to eat.

        1. Hyaline*

          This. The onion example is perfect, actually. I have a friend who is (medical definition) allergic to onions. I do not have an allergy, but I will spend the next six to twelve hours in exquisite digestive agony if I eat them raw. Do you actually need a medical definition or can you just trust both of us when we say “I cannot eat onions”? No I won’t die, but I will not have a good day.

          1. kt*

            Yes. I understand the desire to get at “consequences” with the “can’t” vs “won’t” discussion, but it’s not really true to life. I don’t eat gluten because when I tried an elimination diet and then a gluten challenge I cried almost every day from the physical pain I was in, but my blood test was negative for the tTG-IgA test etc and I declined a biopsy. Can’t or won’t, then?

            In Naples six years ago I took one bite of a sfogliatelle because it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience (everything else was easy to do gluten-free in Italy!). I suffered some consequences but I made the tradeoff. So, have I sullied my purity so much that I no longer deserve GF food? I’ve otherwise been pretty careful for the last 14 years — “cheating” holds no charm for me.

            With everything except anaphylaxis, there are tradeoffs that you can survive.

            Later in the comments someone notes the food prep standpoint, and there indeed it’s a different question, one of consent in essence rather than informed decision-making.

        2. Pizza Rat*

          sometimes saying they CAN’T is the only way to get someone to listen.

          This is so true, and it would indeed be solved by respecting someone’s restrictions and preferences. It would be just great if I could say, “I don’t eat X,” and let that be the end of it. Unfortunately there are people who will say, “Oh, you really don’t dislike X, you just haven’t had it prepared properly. You’ll love it the way I do it,” and even try to sneak it onto your plate.

        3. CommanderBanana*

          From a food prep standpoint, a won’t and a can’t are really important distinctions! I won’t eat pork or red meat, but there are no cross-contamination worries for my dietary restrictions. That is very different than needing a gluten-free kitchen or needing to be vigilant about designating serving utensils or not using the same knife to slice the regular and the gluten free cakes.

          I worked in a bakery for a while, and the more info we had about someone’s food restrictions, the better we were able to make sure we could make food that was safe for them.

          1. Caramel & Cheddar*

            They are indeed important distinctions, which is why if “won’t” is what you mean, you are totally welcome say that instead. My point is that if you said you “can’t” eat pork or red meat, treating that the same as someone who said they “can’t” because of the cross-contamination issues you mention doesn’t actually harm anyone beyond requiring more vigilance in the kitchen.

            If someone plates a dish for you as a “won’t” person using separate utensils because they think you’re a “can’t” person, that won’t make any difference on your end of things, but it *will* make a difference to the “can’t” person who is being taken serious by the kitchen staff.

        4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I mean, both should be respected, but it matters. If someone is allergic to peppers, I’m not going to cook with anything with unspecified “spices” in case it includes paprika. If they don’t like peppers, I won’t use anything with actual peppers but won’t worry about potential traces in something else.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            Exactly. And the difference between “can’t” and “won’t” could mean having to switch venues or even caterers, having to redo an entire menu, etc., etc.

            I am always more than happy to accommodate dietary restrictions, allergies, and likes and dislikes, but I can only do that if I know what they are. I do need to know if you don’t eat gluten or if gluten can kill you.

      2. Annony*

        You seem to be assuming that the boss is aware of what is and is not gluten free. I have celiac. I can’t eat gluten. No one knows unless I tell them because I have gluten free bread, gluten free baked goods and gluten free snacks that look like the real thing. I do not have to be performatively gluten free and shun anything that looks like it was made with wheat to not be constantly offered “treats” that will make my intestines bleed. I’m not muddying the waters. At this point, my boss should know that buying me pizza, cookies or sandwiches will not make me feel appreciated and will in fact have the opposite effect.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I don’t think it’s buying for **just** the LW; its for for their “small work group.”

      3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The difference between “can’t” and “won’t” only matters in terms of things like cross-contamination. I may ask someone “do I need to worry about cross-contamination” or tell them that I’m not sure what the “natural flavorings” on a label means, but I’m not going to try to convince someone to eat the whatever “just this once” or say “it’s only a little dairy.”

        Unfortunately, some people who ask “can’t or won’t” will then insist on trying to feed someone a food they won’t eat because “you COULD eat it, stop being difficult.” A lot of the same people would in turn be upset if they were handed cookies made partly from cricket flour, or think there was something wrong with anyone who offered them cheval tartare.

    3. Hyaline*

      Ok, if the OP was upset her boss forgot her dietary restrictions and wrote about how she wanted her boss to remember what she can and can’t eat, sure, it’s harder if it’s “sometimes I eat it but not all the time” to expect someone to file that info away effectively. But she didn’t—she asked how to politely decline food she can’t eat. Honestly, that answer is the same whether she has celiac and really truly can’t touch gluten or whether she occasionally eats it. It’s your prerogative to decline food for any reason, including “Tim’s baklava is worth a tummy ache but this cookie isn’t.”

      1. Lily Potter*

        Hyaline, you are so correct……I try hard to actually answer questions rather than taking a subject out on tangents but I goofed here. For some reason, I had it in my head that the OP wanted the boss to give her appropriate food gifts – in which case the OP needed to not only speak up about her gluten-free needs but also “walk the walk” in the office to help the boss remember those needs. In actuality, the OP asked how to get the inappropriate gifts to stop. As often happens, the answer is to say in a direct but kind way “Please stop doing X”.

        1. Observer*

          I had it in my head that the OP wanted the boss to give her appropriate food gifts – in which case the OP needed to not only speak up about her gluten-free needs but also “walk the walk” in the office to help the boss remember those needs.

          Nope. As someone else put it, the does not need to be “performatively gluten-free” to get their boss to accommodate them.

    4. Observer*

      The definition of “gluten-free” has gotten so loosey-goosey in recent years that if OP1 is inconsistent in observing the restriction herself, the boss will be inconsistent in remembering it.

      This is all good and fine. But the LW seems to be pretty clearly on the “really truly can’t eat gluten” side. And they clearly consistently do not eat these gifts of food that the boss gets them.

      It’s really exasperating that when someone says “I cannot eat X, and someone important keeps on giving me X” the response is “Are you SURE you really cannot eat X? All those people who say that really can eat X? And are you SURE that you are being virtuous enough? Because Important Person is going to scrutinize your diet and if you ever mess up, they will not have any reason to accommodate you.”

      This is not about the boss being “inconsistent”. It’s the boss totally blanking on the whole issue. That’s not the LW’s nor the fault of all of the people who you claim are not REALLY gluten free enough for you.

  27. Andre*

    I’m a corporate event planner so I run into the dietary restrictions all the time. I’m also a super picky eater so it’s in my DNA to be very aware of others’ food interests no matter the origin.

    One potential idea for the original poster – perhaps they could offer to the boss to be the person that orders those treats when the situation warrants. That way they have control over what gets ordered and they may be more in tune with what everyone on the team wants, anyway. I have a lot of forgiveness/grace for bosses that mean well but just forget. As others said, if you don’t have your own food boundaries, you may be unaware how important/necessary it is for others. I too would not assign any negative intent to them forgetting.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yup. With two of us on one team that couldn’t really have pizza (I am severely lactose intolerant, and whether I react and how much lactase I need depends on the type and amount of cheese, and the preferred pizza places were all fancy, so that was all over the map; the other person was straight-up allergic to milk products), when they finally started trying to make “pizza party” more inclusive, the next order was pizza and a salad.

      Which, since they hadn’t asked any questions, had cheese on it. (We’d learned to bring our own food in case, and we had a good laugh and were fine. This is the sort of thing that happens, and honestly, it was good that they’d tried.)

  28. ExceptionsAreHard*

    OP1, in my experience people just do not remember exceptions to their normal practices, especially when it’s something they only need to apply periodically. I’ve had this happen with food allergies, I’ve had this happen with packages, and also with other stuff. For most people they know how to do something/the best way/the fastest way/etc and they do it by rote no matter how many times they’ve been told they need to make an exception.

    When it comes to food specifically, in my experience there will be some token attempt to provide something vegetarian and something gluten free, but it may just be the side salad and personalizing beyond that is not accommodated. If you have a food allergy that isn’t nuts or seafood people act like it’s not a thing. I’m allergic to raw tomatoes (technically an enzyme that breaks down when processed or cooked) and people generally don’t care. Or they do stuff like put one sandwich without tomatoes in the same box as all of the sandwiches with tomatoes and then get upset when I can’t eat it (surprise! tomatoes have juice that gets everywhere). And don’t get me started on places that use raw chopped tomatoes as a garnish and since it’s just a garnish they don’t list it as an ingredient.

    1. Annie*

      I have family that have gotten “burnt” by other family when medical restrictions end up filed in the “Picky Percy’s Preferences” part of the brain and treated accordingly, i.e. something that is totally negotiable and not life-threateningly serious.

      Confused Family: Affected Family doesn’t like X.
      Affected Family: It’s not that I don’t like X, I’m allergic to X.
      Confused Family: Anyway, I made Affected Family Y which I’m sure she’ll like…
      (Spoiler: Affected Family can’t have Y because it contains X)

      One possible strategy for dealing with “allergy/other medical restriction is synonymous with personal preference” people: Describe your restriction in terms of which body parts are most affected, e.g. “I have celiac disease, which means my stomach doesn’t like anything with wheat or gluten in it, such as most bread, pizza, cookies, etc.” “I’m allergic to peanuts, which means my throat hates peanuts, peanut butter, peanut sauce, and anything with those things in them with a burning passion.”

      Advice for the OP with a boss that seems to be clueless about the OP having a restriction and/or how to accommodate: “I’m on a restricted diet for medical reasons, which means I can’t have the pizza, donuts, cookies, etc. that are given out as tokens of appreciation. Here’s a list of known safe treats for me and where to get them.” OR “Here’s a bulk box of shelf-stable celebration food that is compliant with my dietary restriction(s). Whenever there’s a food-based celebration or appreciation thing happening, please leave a single serving-sized bag/box/whathaveyou of this food at my desk.”

  29. Managing to get by*

    LW5, even if it’s a large company, consider addressing why you’re applying to both jobs in your cover letter.

    i work for a company with over 10k employees, and i can see in our hiring system if a candidate has appled to multiple postings and which postings.

    For some roles multiple applications would be a negative.

  30. Anonymous Educator*

    For #2, I don’t think it’s as bad as it seems. Gary gave notice for 3-4 months but no firm date. Lance probably doesn’t have to start right away. It’s not unreasonable to ask Gary for a firmer date (in that 3-4 months). Then ask Lance to start after that.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      This is what I was thinking. Gary may be perfectly happy to find he has an extra 4-6 weeks to pack and move. Lance might need to give notice, or if he is on unemployment, may be happy to be given a definite start date and offer that is 1 month out. Possibly you can split this difference and have Lance start 2-3 weeks overlap with Gary, which isn’t too bad for all parties.

  31. Susie*

    I totally feel for LW1. I have celiac disease, and I am very strictly gluten free. Mostly my boss understood and didn’t offer me food, but it took 6 years before she started letting me buy a lunch for employee appreciation events. My colleagues however were merciless. They constantly offered me things they made at home because they may have contained a single gluten free ingredient (I’m sorry, almond flour alone does not make your kitchen free of gluten or cross contact) or people would push foods at me saying “I think this is gluten free”. It’s hard when people cannot respect no for an answer when something doesn’t impact them. Can’t say this will get better, but just be polite and unwavering.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “it took 6 years before she started letting me buy a lunch for employee appreciation events”

      Dear lord!

  32. TheBunny*


    Alison is absolutely correct. People who leave your company give a lot of notice because they expect to be treated well by the company after giving it. You toss this guy out and the next person who leaves won’t give more than 2 weeks.

    Just talk to people who work for companies who escort you out when you resign. They take a new job that starts Monday…they often resign on Thursday or Friday…unless they want to take time off before the new job.

    That culture is created by the way a company handles resignations.

  33. Eldritch Office Worker*

    LW1 – what we do for people who have food restrictions/just don’t like what we’re offering is let them buy their own lunch or treat on their company card. If you don’t have a company card then you could ask to be reimbursed.

    But don’t feel like you have to quietly hand food off or otherwise go without to avoid drama and complications. It’s a very simple request, and you deserve to be appreciated too.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I read #1 as the boss was spending their own time and money to bring in food for the team. If this is the case, it would be weird for OP to ask their boss to reimburse them out of pocket for alternative food….

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        It’s weird already, and asking to be appreciated by an appreciation gift is completely appropriate. How they come to that arrangement is between them, but this isn’t working.

  34. Finally!*

    #3 – I was in almost your exact same situation earlier this year. I was recruited for an internal role that was a lateral move. I was offered the role however – it came with a significant pay cut. Obviously, I did not know that when I interviewed or I would have never bothered to take the interview.

    The hiring manager tried hard to get leadership to agree to keep me at my current salary but was ultimately turned down for many reasons. I ended up turning down the role, even I loved the team and manager. I was deeply unhappy in my current role and with my current manager, so it wasnt easy to turn down an opportunity to get out.

    Fast forward to a few months later – I was recruited for a higher level role outside of my current company. The role came with a huge pay increase as well. I was offered the job and I start it soon!

    The lesson here is to never, ever sell yourself short. I am so thankful I did not accept the internal role.

    1. LW3*

      Congrats! So glad something even better was headed your way, thanks for sharing.

  35. Bob*

    And OP1 is why you never ever give that much notice. There is zero upside for you as an individual and if you are so critical to the org that you leaving in 2 weeks causes a complete implosion and bankruptcy, they should have given you a retention.

  36. Parenthesis Guy*

    #2: Severance is your friend in these situations. You can always offer your employee a lump sum if he’ll leave early.

  37. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    #5 – I applied for I think 7 jobs at the same time for the place I work now. At least here that is extremely common and nobody would blink. I did have a separate cover letter for each application

  38. Ann O'Nemity*

    #1 I’ve noticed that a lot of people who bring in food for teams choose something that they themselves like, that’s easy to get, and/or inexpensive. If they’re getting pizza or donuts for the group, they’re not necessary trying to accommodate everyone’s preferences and restrictions. It’s more like Nicki likes pepperoni pizza from the nearby pizza shop so that’s what Nicki is sharing with the group.

  39. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

    For LW#3, I have a different perspective/experience, but even before that, I think you need to assess how marketable you are, as well as how unhappy you are in your current position.

    Last time I was job-hunting, I had a terrible time. I had a decent number of interviews, but in many cases, was rejected in lieu of an internal candidate. Also, in many cases, salaries were far lower than I could have accepted, although there was no transparency around this up front.

    At the same time, the situation at my job at the time was deteriorating, and I was concerned my position could be eliminated. I eventually (after three years of constant searching and applying) was offered a position that was about $10K lower than the job I was leaving. But it was $10K higher than a “survival” job I would have had to take if my position were eliminated.

    I accepted the position I was offered, even though the $10K was a substantial loss for me. But I had read the writing on the wall, and knew this was as good as it was going to get.

    The drop in salary you’re describing sounds perhaps not quite as substantial. And if it would be in a better environment, it might be worth it. I’d encourage you not to cut off your nose to spite your face, especially if you sense that getting another job at the salary you’re hoping for might involved a long wait that you don’t want to endure.

    1. LW3*

      That sounds like an incredibly difficult time to get through and I hope the outcome has given you some unseen benefits on top of the safe exit. It’s amazing the advantage being an internal candidate can give you. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

      1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

        I’m happy my comment was helpful to you.

        I didn’t want my story to go on and on, but oh my gosh, yes – the move was so, so worth it, and I’m still here, coming up on six years. This is the best place I’ve ever worked – great group of co-workers, an amazing boss, and so many opportunities to expand my skills.

        The only thing that wasn’t great was the salary, but believe it or not, about a year ago, the department raised salaries across the board, so I’m back to my earlier salary, plus a few thousand, even adjusted for inflation.

        I hope you make the decision that’s right for you, and that you find peace in whatever you decide.

  40. Hedgehog O'Brien*

    OP 1: Honestly I think the answer here should be, your boss needs to provide an option you can eat. We have a small staff, and one staff member has celiac. When we order pizza, we make sure to get one gluten free pizza for her. When we bring cookies or snacks, there’s always a gluten free option. If you tell your boss directly “Hey, I really appreciate that you bring treats for our team, however I can’t eat gluten. It doesn’t feel great to have treats for the team that I can never partake in. Next time, can there be one option that works for me?” and they still say no… I dunno man. That feels icky.

  41. Nancy*

    LW1: “Thank you, but I cannot eat X because Y ingredient contains gluten. However, I can eat A, B, and C, and I know the bakery on the corner has gluten-free cookies.” Gluten is in so many things that people don’t realize, and people forget. I know I am much more likely to remember if I know what specific items I can get instead, and where to get them.

  42. DisgruntledPelican*

    I just want to point out to OP 1 and any other “it’s the thought that counts” people – that phrase means gifts don’t have to be big or expensive to be meaningful. It DOES NOT mean, you should be grateful for any piece of useless garbage someone hands you just because it was given to you.

    Because you’re absolutely right, it is the thought behind the gift that counts – and currently, the thought your boss is putting into this gift of appreciation is “I don’t actually care enough about you to make sure this isn’t something that’s going to make you sick. I’m doing this so I can look good, not because I actually appreciate you.”

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