update: my employee was excluded from a team-building event because of their weight — how do I make this right?

Welcome to the mid-year “where are you now?” event at Ask a Manager! All this week and next, I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose employee was excluded from a team-building event (zip-lining) because of their weight? Here’s the update.

I wasn’t able to comment in the comments the day that my letter was published but I did read a lot of the comments and I appreciate the advice that you gave as well as some of the comments.

A lot of the commenters seemed to assume that Chris was secretly against the event and that it’s the only team building we do. Chris has, historically, been the biggest proponent of this specific event. They have, many times, requested that we do that event and events like it more often and even brought it up in their review last year as something they wished we did more often. Going to the adventure center is currently the only weekend event we do, but we do lunches and the occasional after hours event throughout the year. I appreciate that at many companies opting out of an event like this takes political capital, but that is not the case at my company or on my team; people are free to opt out of any and all non-work activities without any repercussions and frequently do.

Some commenters worried that when we realized that Chris couldn’t participate, we just shrugged and went “sucks to be them” and just went anyway. That is not what happened. When we realized that Chris wasn’t coming back (they took them to a different room to step on the scale and then just didn’t say anything to us), we stopped and talked about what we should do and then I ultimately called Chris, who insisted that we should go without them. No one on the team thought that what had happened was okay, but we knew Chris well enough to know that they would have been more upset if we decided not to listen to what they were saying. I realize that that part may not have been clear in my letter. I do wish that I had said something to the adventure center in the moment but I was unsure of how to handle it.

Now for the update. I caught up with Chris a few days after it happened to check in on them and see how they were doing. They were understandably shaken by what happened but were putting it behind them. They let me know that they knew what the weight limit was before we went and that they were a couple of pounds over the limit. They had hoped that, since it had never been questioned in the past, that it wouldn’t be this year either. I told them that I didn’t agree with how it was handled at all and apologized for what happened. They said that they don’t blame any of us and reiterated that they would not have wanted us to not go because of them. They preferred to have some alone time to process what had happened anyway.

I did follow your advice and reached out to the adventure center to give feedback on how they handled it and I, unfortunately, never got a response. In the past few months, Chris has again mentioned going back to the same place this fall for the team building, in a way that indicated that they were looking forward to it. They have typically brought it up in group discussions but the last time it came up we were alone so I directly asked if they wanted to do it again this year and they stated that they absolutely want to go again and that they enjoy the other activities that we do throughout the day and would do a different activity during the zip-lining portion.

Ultimately, I am not sure what we will end up doing this fall. I am still uncomfortable with how the whole thing was handled on the adventure center’s end. Thankfully I have a few more months to figure out what we’re going to do. But all in all Chris is still happy at our company — I am confident in this as they are not afraid to tell me when they aren’t, does not blame me for the incident, and still loves team-building events.

{ 353 comments… read them below }

  1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Take Chris at their word. They want to go back to the adventure center. But definitely talk to the adventure center in advance. Mention you got no response to your last communication. Then make it clear – or clearer than you already do — that there is no requirement to do the zip line and there is an alternative activity available.

    1. MBK*

      I think it’s appropriate to take Chris at their word, but also question whether a company that straight up fails to respond to a customer’s written concerns is one you want to be giving repeat business to.

      1. circlecitybelle*

        I wouldn’t stop at written concerns. I would be on the phone having a conversation. “this happened last year and while I understand the company’s need to enforce a policy, the way our team member was treated was unacceptable and we will not spend any money with you going forward unless we have assurances that you will handle any problems with greater sensitivity and tact than you did last year.”

        1. L-squared*

          What part do you find unacceptable? It seems Chris wasn’t publicly weighed or shamed, just that they went to another room. It seems the worst part is a lack of communication, which seems like a simple mistake since they probably thought Chris would have let them know. It seems them saying to the group “Chris weighed more and can’t go” would’ve been far worse than letting them communicate it themselves.

          1. properlike*

            If you look at the comments section in the original post — it wasn’t a matter of *everyone* being weighed, just the one person the employees thought exceeded the weight limit.

            And, as many others pointed out, people are notoriously bad at guessing other people’s weight… and also that actual weight can depend on many factors including muscle density (someone may not look “fat” but could exceed weight restrictions), it was crappy business management to take ONE person out, rather than weigh them all individually (privately) in advance, if it really was a safety concern. We’re assuming it was, which makes it doubly stupid, for reasons stated above.

            Hope that helps!

            1. L-squared*

              So your idea of what was bad is only weighing one person?

              I think I’m just not going to agree on that. I find it a complete waste of time and bottleneck to weigh everyone when there is only 1 person who may be too large. Just like I’d find it a waste of time to pull out the ruler for height requirements when only one person may be too short.

              1. Silver Robin*

                but the whole point is that weight is a lot harder to obviously judge.

                Height requirement? have a little stand set up like they do at amusement parks and have people walk past, all good.

                Weight requirement? Have a scale and put everyone on it just for the moment. Two people can have the same weight and look vastly different. If weight is a safety issue, then you should be double checking every person. Too many edge cases otherwise.

                1. Quill*

                  Yeah. When it comes to the weight restriction for ziplining, either the adventure center is being irresponsible about the safe weights for their activities by not weighing the majority of adults, OR the equipment is rated for a wider variety of weights and they’re only enforcing their guideline on people they are visibly estimating are too heavy. Either one is not great.

                  I do wonder if Chris thinks that they’ll lose 10 pounds by fall or if they think the weight check that one time was an anomaly that the adventure park probably won’t repeat, but I do think it would be best for LW to have all the physical requirements laid out ahead of time if they chose to go back.

                2. amoeba*

                  Eh. I’ll assume it’s some pretty high-ish weight requirement – and honestly, yes, while weight is hard to judge, it’s pretty easy to see for a lot of people that they cannot possibly weigh more than, say, 150 kg or whatever. I mean, height also comes into that, it’s much less likely for, say, a 1.50 m person to reach that weight than a 2 m, broad-shouldered man!

                  Also, weighing everybody then brings on the additional stress for people who don’t like being weighed due to their body image, eating disorders, whatever! Do you really want to subject everybody to that just to avoid singling somebody out?

                3. Testing*

                  “the adventure center is being irresponsible about the safe weights for their activities by not weighing the majority of adults”

                  Really? The *majority* of adults? You really think the equipment is made such that the majority of adults might not the able to use it?

              2. Chirpy*

                I’ve done a weight-restricted activity where I looked like the “fat” one, but it was actually the muscular guy who was over the weight limit. Having everyone get weighed cuts down on both people getting singled out for how they carry their weight, and people assuming wrongly who’s the heaviest.

              3. Star Trek Nutcase*

                I agree. I’m a tall and obese woman. I certainly don’t expect my coworkers who obviously don’t come close to a limit to be measured or weighed – that’s just performative & pointless. Sure it’s hard to judge sometimes but no 5’3″ person needs measured if 5’8″ is the limit or a 150 lb person if 200 lb is the limit. AND no obese person is unaware they are fat & most are aware of their weight within 10 lb.

                OP’s employee is now aware the weight limit will be enforced and can easily self-eliminate. And kudos to him for not expecting everyone else to give up a specific activity and to accept an alternative himself. Someone afraid of heights would/should do the same.

                1. anonymized*

                  Funny enough, when I’m at 150, I look scrawny, and at 200 I look “average.” I’ve had medical professionals do a double take at the scale.

                  So yes, weigh everyone.

                2. allathian*

                  There are basic step-on scales that don’t take more than a second to weigh you. It could be connected to a traffic light system to flag those who exceed the safety weight to the employee but not the others standing in line. It takes no more time than walking past a ruler on the wall that gives your approximate height.

                  Weighing everyone would be to the employees’ benefit as well. I’d certainly hate it if I had to try and guesstimate the weight of people walking by as a part of my job.

          2. Nik*

            Yes, just like when they don’t card old people. If someone obviously meets the requirement by looking at them, you don’t have to ask for proof. Most places have some margin (like they card anyone who looks younger than 40 when the actual requirement is 21). So there could be a margin in when they ask to weigh someone and Chris was the only person exceeding that threshold.

    2. tina turner*

      You say the “adventure center” never got back to you. That’s MY big issue here. Chris sounds OK, but why go back there if they don’t even reply to you?

  2. TracyXP*

    I’m sorry, but I’m stuck on how he knew he was over the weight limit but decided to try to participate anyway. That is so dangerous of him.

    And how else could the center have handled it? Unless they were screaming insults at him, it sounds like they handled it the best way they could – took him to another room to be weighed and not in front of everyone.

    1. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

      If it’s accurate that they were a couple of pounds over the limit, they could pass one day and not the next. Weight fluctuating by a few pounds, even from morning to evening, is extremely common. They also might not know their exact weight. I don’t. Also, tolerance of 10% (or whatever) is almost certainly built in, so someone just over the weight limit is almost always completely safe, but they have to make the cutoff somewhere.

        1. Wilbur*

          No, it is not valid to assume that it would be fine. Equipment is only rated for certain loads and insurance will be an issue if you ignore safety limits. Please keep in mind some of these safety limits are for the staffs safety as well. It’s very difficult and tiring to evacuate someone that weighs 150 lbs from rough terrain, I know of several search & rescues that required 8+ hours to evacuate people from a mountain. We’re talking about a team of 20+ people working through the day and night. There’s no reason to put all those people and the business at risk. Chris knew the limits. I don’t know the reasons for their weight, but they could’ve reached out to the adventure center and asked about the weight limit. Maybe the company could’ve provided an alternate activity or found a solution, but this is all on Chris.

          1. Siege*

            The people you’re responding to are pointing out that weight fluctuates over the day and Chris could reasonably assume their weight was under the limit. They are not advocating for using equipment with a weight limit when you’re over that limit. You may want to take another look at the thread.

            It’s common for your weight to fluctuate 4-7 lbs in a day. In more extreme cases, it can fluctuate by as much as 20 lbs.

            1. Wilbur*

              I’m aware that weight fluctuates, I just disagree completely that it’s reasonable to think that you regularly do not meet the limit and that it will be fine. It’s everyone’s personal responsibility to make sure they’re operating in a safe manner. It’s about safe actions, not safe results. Something might be not result in an accident 99/100 times, that doesn’t make it ok. The things we do have an impact on other people, if there was an accident the zip line operators are the ones that have to deal with the bloody mess.

              1. DisgruntledPelican*

                It’s reasonable to assume it’s fine when their experience the last several times at the activity center has been that it’s fine.

            2. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

              And that weight can fluctuate from day to day isn’t relevant here. Chris could not “reasonably assume their weight was under the limit” because Chris already knew their weight was over it. They said so. Over by a few pounds is still over. That the center hadn’t strictly enforced the rule before doesn’t mean they shouldn’t now.

              I wonder what happened between last time and this time that the center is now stricter about safety rules. My guess is someone got injured and sued at worst or at best they got audited by someone. Whatever the reason, they’re enforcing it now as they are obliged to do.

            3. Greg*

              Right. But Chris also admitted they knew they were over the weight. Doesn’t seem to be much room for assumption.

          2. Simona*

            Yeah, as a person who works in liability insurance and see that people do get “passed” to do things and then, some people die. It’s as simple as that. Chris could expect that they may be turned away when they go, which is legit. I was right on the cusp of weight horseback riding and would have expected to be turned away if I was over the limit. (which is safety for the horse itself, which I REALLY appreciate.)

          3. ps*

            Are you saying that there are weight limits of 150 pounds for some activities, bc that would be a bit insane as most adults of both genders weight more than 150

            1. Wilbur*

              No, I’m saying evacuating someone with a fairly typical weight of 150 lbs is very difficult. When I was a backpacking guide, the upper weight limit was 305 lbs max, which is much more difficult to evacuate.

              1. katydid*

                this might seem nitpicky, but I feel like you need the word “even” in there to say what it seems like you’re trying to say– that evacuating *even* a person of 150lbs is very difficult and strenuous, and most of us would recognize 15olbs as an exceedingly average weight for an adult person. Not that 150 is atypically heavy. Right?

                1. Lightbourne Elite*

                  It doesn’t SEEM nitpicky, it is. It clearly means that an average weight is already difficult to evacuate.

                2. katydid*

                  Lightbourne Elite, I’m replying to your comment below– to me, and clearly to the person replying to the comment above the one I was responding to, the initial comment read as though Wilbur was saying that 15olbs was extraordinary and therefore remarkably difficult. I think if multiple people had the same interpretation, that usually suggests that more clarity would help.

      1. Saberise*

        That is not what the letter said though. Chris said he knew he was over the limit but hoped that they would not question it.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I’m confused why Chris is a he when OP was careful to use gender neutral language to describe them in both letters.

      2. Stuart Foote*

        Usually “a couple of pounds over the limit” does not mean literally, and the LW reports Chris said they just hoped no one would notice. From the rest of the context of both letters this wasn’t a case where Chris was like two pounds over.

      3. Smithy*

        Yes…I once had a flight on a very tiny plane where your weight limits for luggage are pretty low. I’d heard from a colleague that sometimes she’d been on those flights where she’d been weighed along with her luggage before flying.

        In prep for this flight, the night before – I ended up leaving some clothing behind because I was prepared for that level of scrutiny. We were flying a different small craft airline than my office had flown previously, and while our luggage was weighed – clearly this plane was also able to take on extra weight because not only did I not get weighed – I saw other people paying to take extra weight.

        After that experience, I can only imagine going to the other place that did have those very strict regulations and finding the difference jarring.

        1. watermelon fruitcake*

          We were flying a different small craft airline than my office had flown previously, and while our luggage was weighed – clearly this plane was also able to take on extra weight because not only did I not get weighed – I saw other people paying to take extra weight.

          This would have made me way too nervous. R&B singer Aaliyah died in a small craft plane crash in 2001, and reportedly the reason was the plane was overloaded.

      4. Justme, The OG*

        I could pass in the morning and not after lunch, my weight can fluctuate up to 5 pounds in a day.

        1. Cabbagepants*

          ok but Chris clearly knew that they were at risk of not passing, and if you’re over the limit, the safety of the harness doesn’t care if it’s a big lunch or muscle or fat. this is an instance where weight is weight.

      5. porridge fan*

        Agreed. And different scales can show different readings, depending on how well they were manufactured and calibrated. The difference between Chris’s weight and the weight limit for the activity might well be the difference between their personal scale, or the one at their gym or doctor’s office, and the one at the adventure centre.

    2. RCB*

      “Hey Chris, we noticed an issue with your harness, let’s go back to the clubroom and see if we can fix that” and then you have the conversation privately with just Chris and not in front of everyone else.

      And then when they determine that Chris can’t go on the ziplining the adventure center reports back to the team “sorry, we discovered an issue with Chris’s harness and unfortunately we screwed up and didn’t have any extras on hand, so they’ll be unable to do this portion, but they said to please go ahead and have a good time while they do X activity instead.”

      See, super easy, and Chris saves face.

      1. ApplesNOranges*

        If that scenario played out as a manager I would have given up my harness for Chris and sat out (which would work as well as expected) or else left a bad review “ZiplinesRUs didn’t have enough equipment for my whole team despite our accurate headcount on the reservation (which would not have been accurate or fair to the center”

      2. Archi-detect*

        as a rather large person, I think trying to hide that it is weight related is a waste of time- I know it and I feel like everyone else will figure it out without a lot of effort. I feel like the “we discovered an issue with their harness and they can’t do this portion” is also bringing way too much attention to it- I would rather have the chance that others do not notice and focus on it than telling a white lie.

        On the topic I am also careful to try to anticipate issues and help get them dealt with- my office has shared harnesses for when we need them, but I have my own. I just had to tell the finance person matter of factly that I am beyond the rated limits of the shared ones so need my own, or one that was rated for my weight and could be used by other heavy people. It is awkward but it is the proper method of dealing with it; I physically fit in our normal harnesses, but if I fall it could be really bad- I would rather feel awkward than die.

        1. Simona*

          Also, kind of offensive. People shouldn’t have to be ashamed that they weigh more and have it “hidden.” Yes, its too heavy and dangerous to participate, but there’s no reason to feel shame about it.
          RCB, I think maybe that’s your own bias speaking here…people should not be ashamed of weighing too much.

          1. Zelda*

            OTOH, telling people how they “should” feel, and acting as if we lived in a perfect world when we do not, can do significant damage. No one “should” be bullied or disdained for their body type, no one “should” be *made* to feel ashamed, but here we are.

      3. HBJ*

        What? Of course not! This is a horrible way for them to respond, and it’s ridiculous to expect a company to risk poor reviews and a demand for refunds.

      4. Jellybeans*

        I’m sorry but suggesting a company lie and pretend their own safety equipment is faulty and inadequate just to spare a larger person’s feelings is absolutely terrible advice. That could destroy their reputation, and it’s really not their responsibility to take a fall for a complete stranger.

      5. Allonge*

        Chris was taken aside to be weighed. They were in communication with OP.

        The only thing that was maybe not great is that the centre’s staff did not communicate to the rest of the team, but it sounds like maybe they asked Chris what they want and they said ‘I’ll call them’, and that was it, or they saw Chris calling? Not quite clear to me how this worked out.

        I am not quite sure what else the centre was supposed to do in the moment, considering that weight limits exist for a reason.

        Not responding to OP after the fact is not great. I am not quite sure what other issues would there be – if the weight limit is clear in advance, they have a procedure to check with as much privacy as there can be and Chris is ok with going back – I would be ok to go back.

    3. amanda123*

      Yeah, the adventure center did nothing wrong. You don’t want to discourage them from enforcing an important safety rule.

      Really, people should know their own weight and understand that at a certain level of obesity, physical activities will not be safely possible for them.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        It sounds like the adventure center didn’t handle it super well in the moment.
        And their lack of any response to the LW is … not great.

        Enforcing the safety rule is one thing – agree 100% that they need to.
        Handling it professionally, with grace, and communicating with the event organizer are also things they need to do.

        1. Quill*

          Yeah. What they should have is 1) weight limits clearly posted ahead of time and 2) communication of those limits in advance when someone brings in a group.

          Also 3) A clearly stated policy about under which circumstances they’re going to weigh instead of relying on people to know their own weight.

        1. Archi-detect*

          It is not about safety of your body, it is about the ability of the equipment to safely support you. I am too large for most roller coasters- that is not about me per say, but about that the ride cannot support the forces my body generates in turns etc- and this will be very true for a zip line where ones whole weight is supported by a long cable

          1. Happily Retired*

            I think that the comment was about the other post saying that people should know their own weight, etc.

      2. Typity*

        People might not now their weight out of indifference, or they might make a point of not knowing for personal reasons. Obviously the staff had to enforce their limits, but it sounds like Chris was just over, and someone not knowing to the pound what they weigh on a given day doesn’t seem unusual to me.

        (Some large people who ARE within the limits and could easily do these things won’t — for fear of how they’ll look and/or being made fun of. But Chris apparently jumps right in. That’s kind of cool.)

        1. Simona*

          Why is it “cool?” I think a lot of comments here are “trying” to be nice, but they are laced with anti-fat bias. It’s not “brave” or “cool” to go do an activity that everyone else is doing. People only think it’s “brave” or “cool” because they THINK that they should be embarassed.

          1. Cabbagepants*

            not being afraid of what a scale says is, indeed, cool. in a perfect society without anti fat bias, then ok, the scale would be fully value neutral, but we know it’s not like that in the society we live in.

          2. Typity*

            That doesn’t follow at all, actually.

            The fact is that fat people (and I am one, and know many) many times are embarrassed or afraid to try certain things — even when there is no question of safety and everyone else is doing them — for fear of how it might look and being mocked or shamed. The world is not kind to fat people, you may possibly have noticed.

            Therefore I still think it’s cool that Chris apparently doesn’t worry about it.

        1. Cord*

          I understood Amanda123 to be referring to the risk of injury due to the limits of the harness/equipment, not health.

      3. Butterfly Counter*

        Really, people should know their own weight and understand that at a certain level of obesity, physical activities will not be safely possible for them.

        Nope. Those numbers on a scale can’t tell me anything about me that I don’t know. I could have lost 20 pounds due to the flu and not be able to physically perform hardly anything well. Or I can be up 10 pounds since last year and still run a half-marathon. F those numbers. I’ve been conditioned by society to always want a lower number, no matter what that number is, so now I refuse to know and refuse to let a number have any control about what I think about myself when I live in my body and know what I can and cannot do.

        1. Orange Line Avenger*

          I think most people fully understand that weight fluctuates and isn’t a reliable indicator of health.

          However, we are not talking about that, we’re talking about safety equipment that is only rated for a certain weight. If the only available harness is only safe for people weighing less than a certain amount, then weight is relevant in that specific instance. It has nothing to do with thought control.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            I was responding to the sentence I quoted directly without editing. That sentence, though related to the overall discussion in some ways, introduces a slight change of subject with a bit of advice. That was what I was responding and objecting to.

            1. Jaybeetee*

              Yeahhhh the “physical activities” part of the comment suggests something other than the topic at hand, and it’s hard to tell if that’s getting into “nitpicking wording” territory or “people who have spent their lives getting concern-trolled or fat-shamed are picking up the dogwhistle” territory. I’m a larger person, and I do think it’s obviously better to be aware enough of one’s weight to anticipate capacity issues where it’s relevant. I also imagine that with any activity where there is a weight capacity, staff would – or should – be trained to tactfully address it, as some people genuinely won’t realize for a variety of reasons. But my weight certainly doesn’t bar me from “physical activities” as a whole.

          2. Awkwardness*

            This. If there is equipment involved to keep you safe, weight or height are not just numbers you are free to ignore. You do not want to slip through a harness our let it hurt you because you are to small or not positioned correctly and you do not want to have a safety feature broken because you are to heavy.
            And this is a huge liability for the adventure center too.

        2. Punk*

          Then I hope you wouldn’t sign the safety waiver that is standard at these places if you didn’t know that your weight was in compliance. Chris lied at a few steps along the way.

        3. watermelon fruitcake*

          Those numbers on a scale can’t tell me anything about me that I don’t know.

          Those numbers literally, objectively tell you that a zip line at a specific adventure park cannot support you, which perhaps you did not know. (Like Chris, who sort of knew and sort of didn’t.)

          You are welcome to be happy in whatever body you have. You do not have to accept society’s expectations of the number that “should” be on the scale. But to argue that objective facts are not objective facts is not a rational stance. We are not talking about using controversial, subjective metrics like BMI to determine health; we are talking about knowing if your objective numbers meets the barrier of entry to an activity you are interested in participating in (because from Chris’s perspective, they DID want to join). Chris could have made a more informed decision about attendance if they knew how much they weighed before leaving the house that morning.

          1. Enai*

            Yeah, what watermelon fruitcake said. It’s sensible and good to tell a person that they’re too heavy to ride that horse or use that zipline. Injured animals and accidents because of equipment failure do not make for a good time. This is very different from shaming people for their weight – it’s a safety issue.

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

        WOW! To call someone obese because they are over a weight limit is really bad. We don’t know how overweight Chris is. And weight can fluxgate so much depending on the day. If Chris if menstruate their weight can fluxgate because of hormonal changes. I know I’m always a bit heavier around my period then when I’m not.

        1. properlike*

          And this is why you don’t let people make judgment calls about others’ weight simply by looking.

          Or using BMI, but that’s a different rant that’s OT. ;)

        2. Chirpy*

          And, muscle is denser than fat. One could be quite fit and weight the same or more than a person the same height with visible fat.

      5. JSPA*

        IMO it’s still problematic that their weight rating is so low that it weeds out customers from the entire experience.

        Yes, it’s hard to construct a line that functions well for a 50 lb kid and a 500 lb ex-linebacker.

        So… you have lines suitable for a range of weight classes that encompass your actual clientele, not only your idealized / aspirational clientele.

      6. Lydia*

        Well, they did do something wrong in only singling out one person instead of checking everyone they might have needed to. It’s unlikely the ONLY person who needed to be checked was Chris. It’s never a good look to single out a person in a situation like that.

    4. Mo*

      I don’t know about “so dangerous”. These sorts of things have a weight limit set with plenty of room; it’s not like being ten pounds over the weight limit would send someone plummeting to their death. We don’t know how far over the limit Chris was. If it was really just a could pounds I understand how they might think the staff would let it slide. It’s also understandable that the staff were treating the weight limit as an unbendable cutoff. An awkward and unfortunate event, but it’s possible no one was really in the wrong. Now Chris knows that the current staff won’t flex the weight limit at all.

        1. Archi-detect*

          yup, if the system can handle 50 more pounds, get it certified to handle 50 more pounds and then enforce that as a limit. Casually deciding it can do a bit more yourself is a sure path to disaster, especailly in non critical situation- if it was the rescue bucket for a coast guard helicopter I would be more sympathetic about just doing it anyways

          1. Be Gneiss*

            I believe that the way most companies would handle this is if the harness was rated to, say, 300lbs, set the limit at 275. If being a couple lbs over is enough to make it unsafe, you don’t want to rely on the fact that your scale is always level and properly calibrated, nobody decides to throw on a coat after they were weighed, or whatever.

            1. Archi-detect*

              yes, but the point is the limit then is 275 not 280. there is always a margin, and you don’t want people to make judgement calls in the moment, the lower limit is to ensure you are good. the other risk is over time the limit gets flexed more over time- 280 is ok then 290 then 300 then 305, and you are over.

            2. Irish Teacher.*

              Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Setting the limit at the exact max where another pound would risk the person potentially falling sounds extremely dangerous, because scales can be slightly off, people can lie about their weight, staff can forget to check or the person could be heavier than they look, somebody could decide to stuff something in their pockets before setting off… I think there does need to be something of a buffer so minor mistakes won’t put people’s lives in danger.

              1. Wonderer*

                It’s not so much that being one pound over will make the cable snap – it’s that equipment has a rating and if you want to exceed that then you probably jump into a much higher category (with corresponding expense). If the current rating is 300lbs, I bet you can’t just get rated to 350lbs; you probably have to get rated to 500lbs because that’s the next category up.
                I agree that this wasn’t handled well, but that’s only about embarrassing Chris and then not responding to the complaint. It’s not about refusing to make an exception to safety rules.

            3. Nonanon*

              I remeber watching a video on a plus-sized lyra hoop performer talking about how she found it difficult to get in to the artform because most instructors wouldn’t take fat students, citing a weight range for the equipment. It turns out not only was the weight maximum HIGHER than any of them reported (IIRC, their “maximum weight” was 200lb, but a rig could go up to 300), but there were ways to rig it for an even heavier performer (something like 400lb?); most INSTRUCTORS simply didn’t have the right know-how to use rigs safely at higher weights.

              In the interest of giving Chris the benefit of the doubt (which they seem to need), I wonder if something similar was happening; they’re at the upper end of the weight range, BUT a sufficiently experienced guide knew what modifications to make, hence why Chris was allowed to go before. Guide’s not there, no one knows what to do, Chris doesn’t get to go ziplining.

        2. Presea*

          Yes. The line has to be somewhere and if you get in the habit of getting relaxed about it. Being lax about a few pounds over can turn into a few pounds more and eventually spiral out to the point of unsafety.

          The issue here is Chris’ dignity and them being treated with fairness, and with conferns that the weight limit might not have been enforced fairly, not with the existence of a safety cutoff.

        3. Person Person*

          It’s not about if the actual safety cutoff is flexed, it’s about if the public guidance for the safety cutoff is flexed.

        4. Simona*

          Never ever, ever. People are always shocked when they read about people getting injured on rides and things because they were passed through and are always livid that the safety rules were not followed. They are there for a reason and they should always be maintained.

      1. ElastiGirl*

        I expect the adventure center’s insurance is voided if it lets someone over the weight limit ride the zip line. The employees could have been more discreet, perhaps, but they made the right call.

        1. Allonge*

          Yes, the weight limit is not something you want to be negotiable. Certainly not by someone who is staffing the zipline and on a case-by-case basis.

        2. Resentful Oreos*

          The center employee took Chris to a private room to be weighed, completely reasonable for a zipline, and made no mention of it to the others in order to preserve Chris’s privacy and dignity. Exactly how should they have done better?

          1. Zelda*

            By not singling out one person based on that person’s appearance as judged by the staff. Have everyone cycle through the private room on their way to the zipline. Or have everyone cycle through the private room upon arrival at the center, and receive a printout listing the activities for which they are certified, with at least one non-restricted activity available in every timeslot, so that each person can plan their day and no one lines up for something and then gets yanked.

        3. terracotta*

          Yeah, I don’t think the employees could have reasonably let Chris participate. They could have handled it better for sure, but they’re not in a position to decide that the weight limit doesn’t matter. I’m heavy and I make calls like this for myself when I’m buying equipment – I’m very slightly over the advised limit for the stationary bike I keep at home, for example, and I’m comfortable taking that chance because I know there’ll be a bit of extra margin and I really am only fractionally over. But I would never ask someone to allow that in their workplace where liability is a concern.

    5. Bast*

      I agree that there are heigh and weight limits on things for legitimate safety reasons and they should be respected. I also agree with the comments where people talk about weight fluctuating daily. After eating a big meal, or during certain parts of my cycle, I have a couple of extra pounds than I do at other times. I’ve also found that we often do not sense our own fluctuations, especially as we tend to look at ourselves every day and not see change. I could easily gain or lose 5 pounds (and have) and not really “see” the difference in myself, or even know unless I step on a scale. It sounds like the weight difference was minimal. If Chris was 100 pounds over the weight limit, sure it would be easy for them to know, but sounds as though it was something minimal like 5 pounds, which is easy to just not notice.

      1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        Also depends on the scales used. Scales made for home use can wildly vary in accuracy. I’d also be interested in the scale used by the adventure company- is it being checked with calibrated weights on a regular schedule?

        1. SpaceySteph*

          I bet 1,000,000 dollars the scale at the adventure place is also a bathroom scale.

      2. K*

        I’ve recently taken up strength training and I look slimmer and my clothes fit more loosely, but I’ve actually gained weight. Just anecdata that weight gain is not always obvious.

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, my guess is that it was something like the limit was 20 stone and Chris knew he was a little over 20 stone, but figured they’d let a couple of pounds slide. I can imagine somebody thinking, “well, I’m probably 2 or 3 pounds over that, but they’ll hardly be that particular. After all, a different scales or a different time of day could put me within the limit.”

        1. londonedit*

          The way I read it, I think they’ve even all been to the same activity centre before, and Chris was previously allowed to go on the zip line without their weight being questioned, so they assumed it’d probably be the same this year. And then it wasn’t. So I can see why Chris is fine with what happened in general (‘Yeah, I thought I might be a couple of pounds over, but I’ve been the same weight for the last few years and they’ve never checked before so I thought it’d be fine’) but also I can understand why Chris would be feeling a bit embarrassed (because being singled out is never fun). I don’t think it was great that Chris just ‘disappeared’ with no word from the activity centre (they could have had a discreet word with the OP or whoever was in charge of the group and just said ‘Just so you’re aware, Chris won’t be able to participate in the zip lining because of our weight restrictions for the equipment’ and then the OP could have sensitively communicated that to the group). I agree that the activity centre did nothing wrong by weighing Chris and determining that they couldn’t take part, but I do think it could have been better communicated, because the group was left wondering what was going on, was Chris OK, had they been taken ill, was there a problem, etc etc. Which would have made it all a much bigger deal than it needed to be.

    6. I edit everything*

      The center should have weighed everyone privately rather than pulling Chris out of the line and singling them out. Then they could have explained it to the rest of the group as a “health and safety issue” preventing Chris from participating.

      1. Allonge*

        Except weighing everyone privately creates a bottleneck.

        Also, as fat person (which most people can see that I am), I would not appreciate someone lying on my behalf of my suddenly having a ‘health and safety issue’. Last thing I would need is concerns on how I am, do I need a doctor, etc. I understand this is a personal preference, and others may feel differently but there is absolutely no need to treat my being fat as ahameful secret to the level of this being standard procedure.

        1. Pippi's mom*

          The last time I went ziplining, they weighed everyone. The number wasn’t called out (and I was in New Zealand so would not know what to do with my weight in kilograms anyway), but it did seem like a good way to handle it.

          1. Jaybeetee*

            Yeah, I’m on the bigger side, and I’ve done things like bungee jumping, zip-lining, wind tunnels, even horseback riding, where even if there isn’t an explicit weight limit, weight is relevant. For every single one of these activities, everyone participating was weighed, not just to ensure they were in capacity limits, but to calibrate cables correctly, make sure they had a horse that could handle their size, or whatever other details. Generally the scales are set up so only the staffer (and possibly the participant) can actually see the number – it’s not yelled out or displayed or anything, but you are there in front of people.

            Come to that, when bungee jumping you actually end up lined up by weight, the better for the employee to calibrate the cords correctly between jumpers! So others in the crowd may not know your exact number, but there’s no hiding “where you are”!

            I’ve personally never witnessed someone declined from an activity due to exceeding weight capacity, but I’m sure it happens. I fairly recently did an activity where they stated outright they couldn’t accept participants over 250 pounds, and that tends to be a size where many large-ish people may be aware they’ve gained “some” weight but hadn’t realized how much… that is to say, I’m sure the conversation has to happen sometimes, and I would hope staff are trained to handle it tactfully without getting into weird songs and dances about “problems with the harness” or whatever. Big people know they’re big. A lot of people in the comments seem to be treating this as a customer service issue when it’s a safety issue.

      2. Nia*

        If everyone gets weighed and only Chris can’t participate afterwards everyone is still going to know Chris was too heavy to ride.

        1. properlike*

          That’s up to Chris to decide if they want to do the weighing.

          I will bet actual dollars that there will be more people excluded than Chris, as visual appearance does not always correspond with weight.

          You could also have a scale on the outside as a first pass, where people can discretely weigh themselves before entering.

        2. Silver Robin*

          If Chris happens to be over the limit, that sucks, but if everyone gets weighed it just becomes part of the safety check. It might be a bit awkward, but oh well.

          Chris got pulled out of the group because they *looked* too heavy to go on the Zipline. that is a judgement call, one that could be mistaken (Chris could have been within limits and someone else who *looks* thinner might actually be over because of different body composition). So now it is not just the bit of awkwardness about not being able to go, we also get a judgement and assumption on appearance.

          Example: me. I am definitely clearly fat but *nobody* ever guesses my weight correctly. It is always underestimated, even by other fat people. In Chris’s scenario, I could have been allowed to go on equipment that was not actually rated for me just because I do not *look* fat enough.

          1. Freya*

            I remember being asked by one of my classmates in high school what diet I was on to be so thin. Turned out that even though they were 4 inches taller than me, I was heavier than they were. I just looked tiny and was mostly muscle and heavy bones.

      3. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I’ve been on a horseback riding trip where they weighed everyone and it was pretty awful. It was on my honeymoon, so I was at a super light weight and it was still embarrassing and uncomfortable to be weighed by a stranger like that. That kind of thing cannot be good for business or good reviews.

        1. Simona*

          It’s necessary for the safety of the horses though. In some places, the animals are basically abused by overweight tourists….this is a good thing to do.
          I am obese, I can sometimes ride a horse and sometimes can’t, but I respect it every.single.time.
          Also…people can see that I’m fat. I think once again, this is your own anti-weight bias speaking here. You think people SHOULD be embarassed to be weighed if they are fat.

          When I say Once again*, I mean this thread. Lots of people trying to protect fat people’s feelings, when….it’s coming from a place of assuming they need protecting because they feel they should feel embarassed. it’s very sad.

          1. Mary*

            Yeah, I’m a Fat ™. I could find somewhere super unethical that would let me get on a horse, but why? It’s not the horse’s “fault” if I’m fat.

          2. tommy*

            “the animals are basically abused by overweight tourists”

            no. the animals are abused by the companies letting people ride them even if the people are fatter than is okay for the horse.

        2. Spero*

          I ride horses and I support a weight limit for this activity even though I’m sometimes over. A horse is a living creature. It’s not fair to unfairly burden them beyond their capacity, and they may also have an strain in their hock, be coming down with something, just having a bad day where their actual limit is below their typical limit. It is animal cruelty to set their limit at their actual limit or to overburden them.
          Ziplining equipment is not a live animal.

    7. Hyaline*

      I think the main problem with how the center handles it is that they’re visually singling people out for weight checks. It’s unreliable and sets everyone up for embarrassment. And though Chris lied, it’s entirely plausible other customers might think their weight is fine (I don’t own a scale so I’m going off my last doctor visit!).

      If weight limits need to be followed and people can’t be trusted to self-select out, idk—maybe weigh everyone, and/or set tolerance thresholds low enough that no one is going to need to enforce fudging it within a few pounds.

        1. Loredena*

          Was it? Do you think there’s zero possibility someone else was over, but didn’t look it so didn’t get weighed? I don’t

    8. Mango Freak*

      Okay. So?

      Think what you want about Chris I guess. This kind of petty moralism is popular but it doesn’t really have anything to do with LW, AAM’s advice, or the workplace in general.

      Chris and the adventure center aren’t asking us AITA and we’re not judging anyone’s eligibility for The Good Place. Whether or not a pseudonymous stranger who works with an anonymous stranger did something BAD based on the wording of the latter’s brief email is something you’re free to just believe–we don’t have to argue about it.

    9. Spero*

      My weight varies by about 6 or 7 pounds within a month. I’ve maintained the same range for over 4 years and had this pattern at lower weights in the past, it’s not weight gain but rather hydration/hormones/activity usually (ex I go hiking a few times a month, and I usually seem to hold weight more for a few days after). It’s completely possible I would be 5 pounds under the weight limit when I last weighed myself a week ago and 2 pounds over on the day before the event and at the weight limit the day of. Chris said he was within a few pounds of the limit, if Chris’s weight fluctuates similarly to mine he may have known it was possible he’d be over but thought it was worth a shot.

      Also the weight limit is never the actual equipment limit. Ex if the post weight limit is 250 the equipment is almost always rated for 275 or 300. It would be irresponsible for the actual and posted weight limits to be the same because any wear on the equipment would drop the safety below the posted weight limit.

  3. Allonge*

    Thanks so much for the update, LW! I really was wondering how this played out.

    I am sure Chris appreciated how you handled this, it was not an easy thing for anyone involved. I am also very glad they seem to be ok.

  4. Dragon_Dreamer*

    I would speak to the management at the Adventure Center before booking again. It’s inexcusable that they never got back to you, and they handled the whole situation poorly.

    I get that the weight part is a safety thing, but there are more tactful ways of responding.

    1. ferrina*

      I don’t know- they might have a policy of allowing the person who couldn’t participate to decide how to inform their group. In that case, they may have not realized that Chris didn’t tell the group. Or maybe the individual confused their communication and thought they were telling Chris to tell the group, but Chris only heard that they had the option and thought that the adventure employee would tell the group. I can see that being easy to miscommunicate when people are awkwardly trying to be sensitive.

      1. CTT*

        I get the in-the-moment miscommunication, but not following up with a (consistent repeat) customer after they reached out about how to handle the situation in the future is not great.

        1. ferrina*

          That’s true. Even if they just restated the policy in vague terms (“We cannot speak to a specific incident, but here is the policy…”) that would be better than no communication in response to OP’s emails. It sounds like they have a policy, so they should be able to at least copy/paste that and add a few vague words.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        And the justification for not getting back to the LW when they reached out is ?

        If I ran an event business like an event center, and the event organizer from a repeat customer company contacted me about something, the professional thing to do is reply.

  5. TKC*

    idk man, what if someone else on your team has gained weight? I gained 30lbs one year because of a medical issue, but carried it in a way that didn’t make it obvious if you weren’t paying close attention. Chris sounds very easygoing and it sounds like you have a great handle on where he’s at, along with the rest of the team. That doesn’t mean people’s situations or feelings won’t change and I don’t think you can knowingly place them in a similar situation again.

    And since the adventure center hasn’t responded to any of the concerns, I just don’t think you can guarantee that this won’t happen again to someone else. They haven’t demonstrated that they’re willing to be inclusive or thoughtful so what if another sensitive issue comes up other than weight? They aren’t equipped to manage it well, and they’ve shown you that already. I just don’t think you can even consider going there again.

    I think you ought to go play mini golf or something with a place that has some kind of accessibility measures in place and doesn’t have as strict physical requirements. You can still check in with the team on whatever you decide, but the ziplining thing has to be crossed off the list.

    1. Some Words*

      This is where I fall too.

      Group activities with weight restrictions or other serious physical requirements should just not be on the table for work team building events. That solves a host of questions of inclusion, tact, honesty, fairness, dignity at the event. Otherwise it’s simply a guarantee that people will be excluded.

      We’ve got a long way to go.

      1. Allonge*

        Give one example please of an event that works as team-building and does not create a possibility for someone to be excluded.

        1. Sarah*

          This is such a bizarre reply when that’s not at all what the commenter suggested. They specifically suggested avoiding events where there would be a weight limit or serious physical requirements (sooo something like an escape room, a game day, etc). They didn’t say you needed to avoid the smallest possibility of excluding someone.

          1. La Triviata*

            My office did an escape room a few years ago and didn’t have to exclude people. There’s also a miniature golf facility that has access and holes, clubs, etc., specifically designed for people with physical restrictions. I’ve sent our administrator information about it, in case they’d be interested.

            1. MusicWithRocksIn*

              I think escape rooms are brilliant for team building because you have to actually work together as a team to solve a problem. You figure out people’s strengths and can sometimes see some great leadership potential. I really think it’s a top-tier group exercise.

              1. HannahS*

                Unless you have claustrophobia or severe social anxiety or a bladder/bowel program that requires urgent access to a restroom. Then it excludes people.

                No form of team-building is perfect. That’s why you have lots of options for people.

                1. Grits McGee*

                  Even as someone with none of those issues, an escape room sounds is my nightmare. I would pay to not have to do an escape room.

                2. UKDancer*

                  I’m not the world’s biggest fan of escape rooms but I would say they don’t actually lock you in and prevent you going to the loo. Every one I’ve done has a small door you can use to leave and use the loo and the staff make it very clear that you can leave at any time.

                  I mean otherwise they wouldn’t get through health and safety requirements in the UK and probably other places too.

              2. Allonge*

                Personally I find escape rooms mostly boring (not showing off here, I also suck at these murder mystery things).

                Going to one once or twice is ok, identifying it as the one true option for team building would be disappointing. Options (just as OP is doing) are great.

          2. Allonge*

            I did not mean it to be bizarre.

            Every time we discuss any kind of team building event, this comes up: we should not have team building that has weight restrictions / food / drinks / take place at a distance / happen in the evening / need fine motor skills / need good eyesight / involves sitting down the whole time / includes improvisation / includes sharing anything personal at all / etc.

            Individually these are fine requests. Put together, they mean that there is practically no event that is likely to be fun and does not exclude anyone in the world.

            The point is that the team building needs to suit the team in question, not a hypothetical team of the entire humanity. Yes, events need to follow the evolution of the team. But that does not mean that a single event of a series with some variety, where even within the event there are options, should be excluded just because there is one element that has restrictions. Because all events will have restrictions.

            1. TKC*

              Okay but if you have someone who is visually impaired or who is over a weight restriction then the answer isn’t to throw your hands up and say everything excludes someone. It’s about finding the activities that don’t exclude those members of your team. If you don’t have anyone on your team in a wheelchair, finding a wheelchair accessible activity that year isn’t necessary. It’s about ensuring your entire team can enjoy the thing, not finding a perfectly inclusive thing.

              1. Allonge*

                Totally agree. And OP is doing this by offering a range of activities.

                Even within the adventure park you can skip the zipline and do something else. So why would you need to exclude a whole thing that people on the team like because there is a part of it that does not work for everyone?

          3. K in Boston*

            I know this is beside the main point, but putting my two cents as an escape room enthusiast: Some escape rooms are more accessible than others! It does take a little research to validate which are and which aren’t, so maybe not worth it if your team-building activity can really be anything else…but they are out there! While there are definitely a lot that don’t accommodate wheelchairs, have very dim lighting, require crawling, etc., there are also plenty that have been very thoughtful about that.

        2. K in Boston*

          There is a difference between near-guaranteed exclusion and possibility for exclusion.

          I don’t think Some Words is saying that we should only hold team-building events that have no possibility for any kind of exclusion. Their point appears to be that holding events whose baselines to participate require a certain weight (or other strict physical limitations) are always going to be more exclusive than those that don’t, so in the wide world of choices for team-building activities, why not just choose something else? It’s not about the possibility for exclusion being 0%, but about ensuring that it’s not an extremely high possibility, which you get a lot closer to when you do the same event year after year with a weight requirement. At some point the needle moves from “possible but not highly likely” to “inevitable,” which isn’t ideal for an activity whose primary goal is to foster a sense of inclusion.

          1. Allonge*

            Sure, and that is a good way of looking at it as long as we only have one single activity in sight.

            But LW clearly describes the ideal situation: there are a series of different team-building events, of which this is only one, and even here there are alternatives of ziplining (so not the whole team needs to follow the entire adventure path).

            In a case like this, I don’t think that the inclusion of a zipline possibility creates a huge issue. Yes, it excludes some people, just as dinner will be difficult for a lot of people and so on. But it’s not a question of ziplining or nothing.

        3. TKC*

          There probably isn’t one, but there are definitely activities that are MORE likely to be inclusive and accessible than something like ziplining. And we already KNOW this one excludes one person at least and the facility didn’t handle that well. We don’t have to be absolute about this – there can be a spectrum of activities better than this one.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            There are. This wasn’t the only activity offered that day. It was just this one activity Chris couldn’t participate in.

    2. TPS Reporter*

      yeah the whole thing strikes me as rife with future issues like weight, disability, injury, phobias. just a lot for a work event.

      work does not have to offer you the most amazing, thrilling adventure activity. I think sticking to a more low key team building activity is a more sustainable and still worthwhile practice.

    3. Spiritbrand*

      You could also just call or schedule it as free time and list several activities that are available. People would still do stuff together, but no be forced into one particular activity.

      1. aegis*

        In the original letter and this update, the LW said there were other activities available and that ziplining is the one Chris elected to participate in, the comments are just ignoring the text of the letter and the update.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Some commenters have a habit of ignoring parts of the letter that don’t fit into their imagined narrative.

        2. watermelon fruitcake*

          I think, because of the sensitive nature of the topic being discussed, and because people and society put a lot of identity-laden weight on bodies, people are choosing to be as uncharitable as possible in their interpretation for bad faith or defensive reasons. And I feel it reflects them more than the LW, or Chris, or the adventure park, because it sounds like (except for the lack of response about the feedback – which, it is possible there was some snag in the ‘submit a comment’ process rather than a deliberate snub) the park did everything right. And the OP handled things as best as possible, too.

          Some people have complained they should weigh everybody but this is logistically impractical and, moreover, risks alienating or upsetting even more people (people who have issues with their weight without being visibly over-zipline-weight). Others have complained you can’t reliably guess somebody’s weight by looking at them, and that’s true, but this only makes me think the weight limit of the zip lines is very high and in this group, Chris was the only person who potentially came within even a wide berth of the limit.

    4. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Ifthe rest of the team is comfortable with the adventure center idea, it’s time to look for a different one and talk to them ahead of time about how they handle it when guests are unable to participate for medical reasons. Besides the ableism issues that everyone else has mentioned, it’s very possible that other members of the team were turned off by the way last year’s issue was handled. I know I’d still be salty about it if Chris were on my team.

  6. L-squared*

    I think this adds a bit of context that was needed.

    Did the center handle it perfectly? No. But Chris also knew they were above the limit and tried to sneak past it anyway, which also isn’t great. those regulations are in place for a reason, and had they allowed Chris to do it, that is a whole other issue.

    I also still vehemently disagree with the idea that you should weigh everyone. That really is just a waste of time. Whether someone is very muscular or obese, there is a good chance that as people who do this for a living, they are good at determining when people are close to that weight limit.

    I still think the comments from the original post were WAY too harsh based on how things went down.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yes, weighing everyone is an absurd waste of time and inconvenience for the vast majority of customers who are NOT over the cutoff.
      Weighing must be done tactfully and out of sight, which it sounds was the case.

    2. Stuart Foote*

      I feel like comments generally have gotten way too harsh. The comments on the original post were super judgmental and based on rampant speculation (which turned out to be incorrect).

      While Alison typically does a good job of avoiding it, a lot of advice columns have become similarly judgy. The question will be ask about how to deal with some relatively minor thing clearly done by somebody who is well-meaning but unaware, and the columnist replies with something along the lines of “This person is abusive and knows exactly what they are doing!” It’s just not a good way to go through life, especially since in many cases we lack context for what is happening (as in this case where the person involved loved the event even though they couldn’t zip line).

    3. Apples and Oranges*

      I have done a number of these things and many of them absolutely do weigh everyone. I’m an obviously petit woman and they weigh me too! And from a safety standpoint that’s actually better for it to be a normal part of the process that the employee has to do when everyone is checking in, along with the waiver or whatever, versus just an ad hoc “well that person looks large, let’s pull them aside” which requires employees to remember and enforce a separate process outside the norm.

      1. L-squared*

        I’ve done plenty and they haven’t weighed everyone. So we can both throw around our anecdotal evidence.

        It still just seems like a waste of time. It’s not needed. As shown in this case, it was needed to be done because Chris knew they were over the limit. But if the limit is say 250, and its clear that no one in the party is near that, its pointless to weigh every single person. I get some places may have instituted that policy, but it really just seems unnecessary.

        Its like yesterday, I was at a festival and they were giving out stamps to people over 21. They even said “If they are clearly over 21, there is no need to hold up the line and make them take out their ID. Use your judgement.” Does that lead to maybe some hurt feelings for some 24 year old? Possibly. Is it still far more efficient? Yes.

        1. properlike*

          But it was said you CAN’T weigh everyone without creating a bottleneck — and the anecdata shows that it doesn’t happen. You build it into the time. No big, especially when it comes to safety. You step on, you get the go ahead or not, you step off. Digital scales for the win.

          1. hohumdrum*

            what I’m stuck on is…why are we debating this? the adventure center didn’t write in looking for advice on how to manage their zipline. LW can’t do anything with this debate. It’s so utterly useless and taking up most of the comment section and for what.

        2. tree frog*

          If it’s so important for safety, leaving it to employees to guess people’s weight is not a good practice. We have ideas about what a heavy person might look like based on social expectations, but your stature and muscle mass play an important role there as well. Not to mention that pulling people aside to be weighed could be unpleasant–they might get upset or angry with the employee. That would act as a disincentive to weigh people in cases where they aren’t sure.

          1. terracotta*

            Yeah, this is either critically important or it isn’t. Keeping people back for being a hair over the limit is certainly justifiable, but if that matters for safety then you also need to consider that muscle mass and bone density can make a serious difference, and that eyeballing strangers to guess their weight is not reliable. I am actually a fat person but I also have genuinely enormous bones and I often startle doctors with my weight, even though they were already expecting it to be high.

        3. You really can't tell*

          how do you know no one is bear that? I am super muscular and have very dense bones and back when I was in shape I weighed a good 100lbs over the so-called ideal weight for my height. In fact, I was considered too heavy to buy health insurance, but if I’d been in the so called desired range I’d have been emaciated and likely in the hospital.

          1. Freya*

            The bottom of the ‘desired range’ for my height has me under 10% body fat. As a female-bodied person, that is in no way healthy! I’m currently right at the top of the ‘desired range’ for my height, and am happy I got all the way up past 20% body fat because I like not needing to wear 7 layers every winter.

        4. Aquaphor*

          “ If they are clearly over 21, there is no need to hold up the line and make them take out their ID. Use your judgement”

          And that’s how that place gets raided after accidentally serving booze to one too many under-21 year olds that look 28 or 23 or 25, etc. Or a liquor control board rep who’s undercover as such. Goodbye liquor license, hello a crap ton of fines.

          1. katydidn't*

            A teenager who looks 23 is not “clearly over 21.” Every such policy I’ve seen is to card anyone who looks under 40, because basically no teenager can pass for 45 and basically no 45-year-old could be mistaken for a teenager.

            Likewise, I don’t think Chris was singled out because they were a couple pounds heavier than the rest of the group and just “looked fat.” I imagine they only weighed Chris because it was obvious that only Chris came close to the weight limit. They’re not letting every twenty-something buy alcohol except one unlucky 23-year-old with gray hairs, they’re letting all the fifty-somethings through and carding the one twenty-something.

      2. Debby*

        Apples and Oranges, I couldn’t agree more! I believe the same when it comes to stores asking for ID when customers are purchasing alcohol/tobacco. One store in our area asks EVERYONE who is purchasing, and has signs posted stating their policy. This way, it’s not on the employees to decide whom to card, and it’s not based on appearances. If you are buying, then you are carded. Period.
        At some amusement parks, when there is a height minimum/maximum, everyone has to pass under the height mark. Same principle.

      3. Jaybeetee*

        Yes, every time I’ve done an activity like this – in multiple countries mind you, over the past 18ish years (I’m old…) weighing the entire group has always been standard. Depending on the activity, you need to know everyone’s weight for reasons other than capacity – bungee jumping, for example, where they calibrate the cords to your weight. But even when that’s not the case, it seems quite routine to simply weigh everyone and that’s built into the activity time. When it comes to safety stuff, frankly it’s better to waste a few minutes weighing in some obviously petite women than “guess wrong” for someone with a stockier frame who weighs more than they look.

    4. K in Boston*

      Eh, I think it depends on how the weighing is done. I’ve been to waterparks where the scale is RIGHT under the starting point of the waterslide (and the scale reader faces the employee, not the customer line). Because of this, you can’t step on the scale without getting into the tube for the waterslide and vice versa. No separate place to go.

      I know not every place can afford such a system, but it seemed like a reasonable safety precaution that didn’t really hold anything up, unless you count the extra 0.5 seconds for the employee to read the number before shoving you down the slide (but presumably they would’ve taken at least that much time to do an eyeball guesstimate if the scale hadn’t been there).

  7. Berin*

    I appreciate this update, especially as a fat person – I would feel roughly the same as Chris, and it sounds like they feel that you handled it as well as you could in the moment.

    I do think that this is one of several updates that we’ve gotten recently where the OP provides additional context that would dramatically change the flavor of the comments on the original post. I’m not blaming OP for how she presented information in the original post; Alison was even forced to add a caveat against speculation at the top! Hopefully, an update like this will help commenters move away from that in the future.

  8. ApplesNOranges*

    I’m honestly not sure what the center could have done differently in this situation. It sounds like they handled it as best as they could.

    I would take Chris at face value and rebook at this center or a different one if they have expressed they want to go. Just book a different choice for activity. This is assuming that the rest of the group still wants to go.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Not singling out and weighing a participant loudly in front of a group of colleagues would’ve been a stellar start

      1. ApplesNOranges*

        So the alternative is to weigh everyone? I have a feeling we’ll disagree on this so will leave it at that.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          RCB offers an alternative upthread. It doesn’t take a ton of critical thinking.

          1. L-squared*

            That alternative is awful. So you want them to lie and say their equipment is faulty?

            Chris knows they are overweight. Everyone else knows it too. There is no need to make up some story that most people probably wouldn’t believe anyway

        2. DisgruntledPelican*

          Yes. You cannot look at someone and know their weight. So if weight is such an important safety feature, you need to weigh everyone.

          Though clearly, the fact that Chris has participated in this event for many years and never been weighed before shows us that possibly 1) weight is actually not that important of a safety feature for this event and definitely 2) this activity center is incredibly cavalier with their safety requirements.

      2. Saberise*

        They did not weigh him in front of the group. They took him to another room. And should they weigh everyone even when they are clearly under the limit to catch the few that try to get away with being over the limit, which was the case here?

      3. Tippy*

        Except that’s not what the L:W said happened. They specifically say: “When we realized that Chris wasn’t coming back (they took them to a different room to step on the scale and then just didn’t say anything to us)…”

      4. Lily Rowan*

        They literally didn’t do that: “(they took them to a different room to step on the scale and then just didn’t say anything to us)”

      5. Colette*

        I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. They asked Chris to get weighed, but there’s no indication it was done loudly or that it was of particular notice to the whole group, and the weighing was done in a separate room.

      6. Cmdrshprd*

        That is not what happened, Chris did not get weighed loudly in front of everyone. They were singled out, but if they were the only one that seemed close to the limit it makes sense. If you have 3 people in line buying alcohol two are clearly over 21 50-/60s, and one person is questionable in their 20s it does not make sense to card everyone just to avoid singling someone out.

        “(they took them to a different room to step on the scale and then just didn’t say anything to us),”

        This is a hard situation to handle on the companies part, when weight is a legitimate safety issue. I have been on several rides where they don’t single anyone out, but that means you step on a scale in front of everyone and only the operator sees your weight, but then they give the clear/not clear publicly. If you are going to weigh everyone it does not really seem feasible to do it in private. I have also seen some rides that have a scale before the line starts so you can weigh yourself and opt out.

        Weighing everyone when it is not needed would likely slow the process down.

        1. Crencestre*

          Some stores DO have a “we card everyone” policy for buying OTC cold meds (which can apparently be used to make less benign drugs) and alcohol. This is actually a smart move; even if, at age 74, I chuckle when I show them my driver’s license, I recall very well that, for most of my life, I’ve looked far younger than my age. I received suspicious, disbelieving stares when I bought wine at age 30!

          Carding everyone ensures that people who actually ARE of age are allowed to buy OTC meds and wine when they choose as well as screening out 16 year olds who look older than their age. And for the record – no, it’s NOT a compliment to tell a 30 year old that she CAN’T be old enough to buy a bottle of wine; it’s an insult to tell ANYONE that OF COURSE they’re a liar – you wouldn’t like that and neither do those of us who look younger than our actual age!

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            “Some stores DO have a “we card everyone”……This is actually a smart move;”

            There probably are some stores that card everyone, but generally I have seen is “if you look under 30.” I get that some people look older and an 16/18 may pass for 21, based on looks alone.

            But I disagree that carding everyone is a smart move, you might get a 1 in 1,000 person who is 50 that looks like they might be 18/21, but I will say generally a 50/60/70 year old is not likely to be confused for an 18/21 year old.

            If you are slowing up the line because you are insisting a 70 year old dig through their purse or run back to their car to get their wallet to show ID to buy cough medicine and/or wine that is not a good policy. Or refuse to allow a 70 year old to buy the wine because they forgot their wallet/ID but have google/apple pay on their phone not a good policy.

            When I worked retail we asked and scanned everyone’s ID, but we could accept their Bday if we thought they looked old enough. I think the policy was if they looked 30+ we could manually enter their Bday.

            1. properlike*

              Your state liquor board and/or your employer may disagree with you. There are some older looking under-age kids. Also, places do send out undercover shoppers to make sure you follow the policy.

              Losing one’s liquor license is a problem if your business depends on the sale of alcohol.

          2. DyneinWalking*

            But in that case, “everyone” isn’t actually everyone, just those buying a specific type of product. And I bet the lines are shorter than at an amusement park.
            But if you have a long, long line of customers that all need to fit a certain requirement, and one where many people are very obviously far below the limit, you can save a ton of time by just waving those through.

            And really, in a situation like this everyone knows it’s about the weight requirement, and it seems kind of infantilizing to me to pretend that people wouldn’t be aware they might be close to the limit while the petite and stick-thin person before them definitely won’t be. Yes, people should be polite and gentle and not draw more attention to it than absolutely necessary but, at the end of the day, if someone is weighed and subsequently excluded then everybody knows the reason for that. There is absolutely no-one to fool here.

            1. DyneinWalking*

              Ok, given the comments, I’ll concede that weighing can be done pretty fast.
              But I still stand by my last paragraph: Everybody knows about the weight limit and everybody knows that a person removed from the line after that almost definitely exceeded the weight limit. No amount of hemming and hawing and making up polite lies will fool anyone and suggesting to do so sounds, frankly, so much more stigmatizing and infantilizing than just assuming that the those too heavy will be able to handle the information like mature adults.

      7. Katherine*

        As the OP stated, Chris was weighed in a private room, not in front of a group of colleagues.

    2. ferrina*

      This is where I fall. It sounds like Chris was aware of the weight policy, aware that they exceeded the weight and still tried to participate despite it being against the policy. The adventure center quietly pulled Chris aside, confirmed that their weight exceeded the limits of the equipment, and Chris quietly left. Someone should have let OP know that a member of their party wouldn’t’ be joining, but that’s really the only thing that should have been done differently.

      I wouldn’t rebook for the fall, but maybe for next year? That way others who felt awkward wouldn’t feel like they are returning to the scene of the crime, but the company still gets to do this activity again (and it sounds like they have enough activities that don’t have a physical component that it’s fine to have one activity that does). And when you rebook it, make sure you announce any restrictions in the announcement (including the weight policy- you can copy/paste from the adventure center website so it doesn’t look like you are singling anyone out. Centers often include an age limit or under-weight limit that won’t apply to anyone at work, so it will be clear that you just pasted the whole policy. The under-weight limit I’ve seen most often is 50lbs).

  9. Eliz*

    I personally wouldn’t accept that no one got back to you. I would follow up or insist on talking to a manager.

    1. Hannah Lee*


      I would not book again at an event venue that didn’t return my calls / messages.
      If they continue to be non-responsive, I’d start looking elsewhere.

      Even if their non-response has nothing to do with what happened at the last event, it indicates an issue with how the place is run, and I wouldn’t be comfortable relying on a place with management / operational issues to pull off a successful, safe event for my employees.

    2. properlike*

      Same. And I recall having significant problems with how the OP said the venue handled it last time. If someone with power to enforce policy or fire is not aware of how badly their front-line employees acted, and is willing to make sure it doesn’t happen again to book a potentially lucrative group event, then I would look for another adventure place.

      And I would tell the new venue why when I book, to give them the opportunity to show how very good they are with their customer service.

  10. mreasy*

    I still don’t think that work teambuilidng should ever involve participating in an activity where the weight limit is something a human being could reasonably exceed. Chris is being gracious but this isn’t only about Chris. It’s about understanding that putting employees in an awkward and upsetting position about their body size should be avoided whenever possible.

    1. Kyle S.*

      I can’t think of any leisure activity where no person could ever be plausibly excluded. It sounds like there are alternative activities available at this place; perhaps LW can organize a simultaneous group activity for those who want (or need) to opt out of zip-lining.

      1. MirandaTempest*

        There are, however, plenty of team building activities where weight isn’t an issue.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          But the point is that being excluded based on weight isn’t the only consideration at play. Also, this was one part of the overall day, not the only activity. If I were Chris and someone decided that stop a certain activity that I enjoy because you think you understand my comfort level better than I do I’d be pretty insulted.

          1. mreasy*

            I just disagree. There are other people who are thinking about their weight who haven’t said anything. It just shouldn’t come up. That is such a hot topic for so many people, and we live in a fatphobic society – there’s no reason to bring it up. Too many people have ED histories or just don’t want to deal with body talk, their own or others, in the workplace. I actually do think there are WAY more inclusive activities than physical ones and I just don’t understand why people insist on doing them.

            1. treble treble*

              “I just don’t understand why people insist on doing them.”

              People like Chris, you mean? Chris is the one who is “insisting” in this case, Chris is the one who is actually living out this situation in real life, and I just don’t understand why so many commenters are so sure they know what Chris “actually” meant when they said they wanted to go ziplining, when they said the ziplining activity should continue without them, when they said they were putting the unpleasant experience behind them, when they said were looking forward to returning to the center for the next team building event. At what point do we start believing the actual words out of Chris’s own mouth (not the words that white-knighting rando internet commenters put there)?

            2. Jennifer Strange*

              Every activity is going to have the risk of excluding someone, though. In this case the person impacted wants to continue going to this place (or at least continue these sorts of activities). Are you saying you would ignore that because you know better than they do how they feel?

    2. Bast*

      It seems as though team building is engrained in the culture of this company (not necessarily a bad thing) with people opting out of things all the time without being penalized. Frankly, unless they get rid of team building altogether, I cannot think of a single activity that is unproblematic for everyone. Besides weight, you have hidden disabilities others may not know about, general dislike of certain activities and foods, allergies, etc.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Any team activity can exclude someone because e.g. wheelchair, canes, fitness, vision – e.g. me – balance, or fear of heights – also me.
      What is important is that there are always alternative activities of equal value that each person can do.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      As others said, this is nearly impossible and clearly not the solution that a lot of people would want – there’s a culture of activities here and no one wants to be the wet blanket. And people can be excluded for ability but also for preference, there’s no way to accommodate everyone. Options, flexibility, and diverse voices in planning are the best ways to handle this.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        It does sound as if the OP is doing all they can to ensure that team-building activities are as inclusive as they can be, but you and Alison are right to sound a note of caution. People who don’t enjoy a work-sponsored activity usually WON’T speak up to say so out of fear of looking like a Scrooge-type killjoy.

        I’m not at all sure, however, that these “team building events” really DO help build teamwork and bring employees closer together; these events are held outside of the workplace, do NOT involve the kind of activities that the employees do on the job and more often than not are “fundatory.” How does a day of that actually translate to better cooperation, communication and respect on the job?

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It doesn’t for all places, it does for some. There’s no one-size-fits-all culture solutions. But I think the tendency on this website is to err towards “work is for coming in, putting your head down, filling out your spreadsheets and going home” and that’s not a realistic solution for the broader world either.

          1. Georgia Carolyn Mason*

            Sometimes it brings employees together in mutual loathing of the activity and/or the folks who forced it on everyone! Read: mandatory outdoor winter scavenger hunt (temp about 32F/0C and windy — and yes it could’ve been worse but it was not delightful). I was happy to be on a team that didn’t care about winning; we picked up a couple items for form and sat in a coffee shop rolling our eyes at the entire idea. Sadly, none of us worked together frequently, so our bonding over the absurdity of this “fun” event didn’t lead to any positive changes at work. But it did bring us closer!

    5. Allonge*

      It sounds like there are plenty of alternatives 1. in general for OP’s team 2. to the zipline when going to this centre.

      Short of not doing anything ever, this is the most inclusive way of doing it: options and options within options.

    6. Caramel & Cheddar*

      While I agree with the other replies that there’s no universally accepted activity that won’t exclude someone for something, I agree with you that this really shouldn’t be just about Chris. “Chris says it’s fine, so it’s fine!” Well, no, it’s fine this time and for Chris specifically, but you might have staff in the future experience the same thing who *aren’t* fine with the solutions on offer or how it was handled. It’s something to think about regardless of how fine Chris is with it.

      1. Allonge*

        Which OP is clearly doing (thinking about it). Ignoring Chris on this is not a great choice either.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          A lot of commenters seem more focused on how this situation would make them feel if they were on OP’s team than how overriding the clearly expressed wishes of OP’s employee would make that actual person who is actually in the center of this situation feel.

    7. RagingADHD*

      I think you missed the part where Chris repeatedly asked to go ziplining, expressed how much they like it, and stated that they intend to go again at the first opportunity. However Chris plans to make it possible to participate is up to Chris (presumably they intend to be under the limit next time).

      I don’t think ignoring people’s stated wishes is respectful of their own agency and self-determination.

      1. Mary*

        Yes!! I’m also fat & if someone came to me and told me that they were changing plans for my benefit (because I can’t be trusted to know how I feel about things), I’d be furious.

      2. hohumdrum*

        yes, Chris is a fat adult, not a child or other powerless minor being reliant on others to decide for them.

  11. Corporate Events in NYC*

    I just read this and the original post (admittedly I skimmed through the comments on the original post since there were so many) but as an event planner I have to consider that not only could this type of event be a problem for those who don’t meet the weight guidelines but may not be something that most people feel comfortable doing (depending on the height, I probably wouldn’t). There are also people with a host of other conditions that would make this a very scary and thus unfun activity. If some people love it: awesome! But better to plan a second activity and then have people sign up for whatever they want to do of the two options. I “get” that this is a team building exercise, but is it really building the team if some members of the team aren’t into a specific activity esp one that already has a few built in problems? (and, to me, zip lining is definitely that).

    1. K*

      Seriously. In the past 10 years I’ve been pregnant twice, and had multiple unrelated orthopedic issues that would make ziplining uncomfortable or painful, PLUS I’m scared of heights. Having a simulataneous activity where you can say “those of you who want to zipline line up over there and those of you who want to play air hockey line up over here” means nobody gets singled out or has to self-disclose anything.
      It sounds like Chris enjoys ziplining though so I’m sorry they missed out on something they like!

    2. Roland*

      The OP was extremely clear that people can opt out with no repercussions, and that they do other things as well. It is simply a fact that some people can’t or don’t like certain activities and that doesn’t mean groups can’t do them anyway as long as there’s balance.

      1. HonorBox*

        Yes, OP was clear. But I think the suggestion for two different activities at the same time is a good way to balance things. Someone who just doesn’t like heights may feel like they need to sign up because if they don’t, they just sit and wait? If there’s another structured activity, people can opt for that, or opt out, but aren’t forced to just kill time if there’s not a second option.

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      The whole “adventure” thing has bad childhood memories written all over it for anyone who was secretly afraid but shamed into participation, or not good at something and forced to show that to all their peers. I’m not on your staff but if you told me I had to interact with heights and “everyone” loves it, I’d have a problem. Sounds like a day I’d rather have a screaming migraine. Back in the day when ropes courses were all the rage for team-building I had a secret fear someone would introduce that as a great idea where I worked.

      The suggestion of two activities at the same time gets partway there. I’d ask if you’ve put the time into identifying a different place with different options for group activities that aren’t labeled “adventure” and then surveyed or otherwise asked your team about interest in trying something new.

      I can think of a host of things, some of them with their own issues and that’s why you’d want to ask: a group cooking class, one of those locked-room mystery places (not good for the claustrophobes), heck even pottery painting or another craft/art thing (I used to live in a town that had a wine-tasting place that offered low-barrier painting classes like “Merlot and Monet”). Get an improv instructor to teach a day-long set of exercises–awesome for building trust and spontaneity.

      Plenty of ideas out there, your team probably has their own, and if you’ve done this for multiple years it’s time for a refresh anyway. You sound very caring and if you ask people to help you develop the list and also think through who it might not work for so you have options in the moment, you’ll get there.

  12. Hell in a Handbasket*

    If you do go back, OP, I would suggest two things:
    1. Have a choice of two activities at the same time, zip lining and some alternative that would be inclusive to Chris and any others with physical limitations; and
    2. Sign up for this activity yourself, so it doesn’t end up that Chris is the only one participating in it.

    1. A_Jessica*

      To add on, I would never in a million years Zip-Line so offering another activity at the same time would be a great way to include even more people. :)

  13. Overit*

    Since the company did not respond to your feedback, I would not return. Why reward them for 2 instances of bad customer service?

  14. Juicebox Hero*

    Would it be possible to make up a list of the available activities and their requirements and restrictions, and have a different activity at the same time slot so those who couldn’t do the ziplining can just quietly opt for the other activity? Something like “1 PM: choice of ziplining – requirements or restrictions, or birdwatching tour – requirements and restrictions.” Then if someone was over the weight limit, or had a heart condition, or was scared of heights, they could quietly opt out without needing to share their reasons. It could also let Chris save face; they could always “decide to do the birdwatching tour instead.”

  15. Saturday*

    A lot of people are saying OP should contact the center again, but I wouldn’t. Chris wants to put this behind them, and I would respect that. There’s a good chance the staff have changed anyway.

    1. Saturday*

      Sorry – don’t think I was clear. I meant the people saying to contact them about what happened last time.

  16. Miette*

    Question for Alison, out of curiosity (and a sincere desire to know how to handle similarly sensitive situations): If you were addressing the adventure center in this case, how would you advise they handle this situation in the future?

  17. Ellena*

    I’m wondering how else could the people handling the activity (from the center) have handled it on the spot? They have their procedure and rules and they follow them. Of course there’s always the option that the activity is cancelled but other than that… Maybe to offer Chris a separate activity which was offered anyway by the letter writer.

    1. wordwords*

      Without having been there and without being experienced in this, I don’t know what exactly a better way would have been. Better communication of “oh, Chris won’t be able to do this activity, unfortunately, so the rest of the group should go ahead now and Chris will rejoin us afterward?” Better communication of “okay, the two activities we’re doing right now are zipline and X” so there’s a clear way to sort yourself (or be sorted, if needed) out of the zipline group? Something else?

      I don’t think that’s something we the commentariat should decide, or opine too definitely on. But I do think it’s something that OP and Chris, and anyone else who wants to participate but has qualms, should consider and be clear on upfront. What was the part that really made it feel badly handled? What would be the better way to do that? Then that’s an expectation you can make clear to the adventure center, since Chris is clear that this is an activity they want to do again, and it seems clear that this is a popular opt-in team-building activity for OP’s company whether or not AskAManager commenters would enjoy joining in.

    2. londonedit*

      Yeah, I think the main issue is the communication, not the weighing itself – it sounds like Chris was taken into a separate room, and then that was it, they just never reappeared with the rest of the group, and no one was told why. OP had to ring Chris themselves to find out what was going on. I do think the activity centre staff could have handled that better – just having a discreet word with the OP or whoever was in charge of the group. Otherwise people are going to speculate and wonder what’s happened – is Chris ill? Has something gone wrong? Are they OK? There definitely needed to be some discreet communication of ‘Chris won’t be able to participate in the zip lining because of the weight restrictions on our equipment’.

      I do also think it would have been better to offer an alternative to zip lining at the same time, no questions asked – there are people with a fear of heights, or people who might not want to disclose a medical issue, and it would be better if it was possible to just say ‘OK, zip lining is not for me, I’m going to do the forest walk instead’. It sounds like there were plenty of other activities on offer, so it would have been good to make those available in case anyone, for whatever reason, didn’t want to do the zip line.

      1. katydidn't*

        I do also think it would have been better to offer an alternative to zip lining at the same time, no questions asked

        There was. There were many activities on offer, and the only people in line for ziplining were the ones who looked at the available activities and said “I could do rock climbing/a gentle walk/get a snack/play foosball in the bar, but I would rather do ziplining. Ziplining is fun!” They did not put everyone in the zipline queue and make you speak up in front of everyone if you want to be taken off because of a disability.

        It’s been well established that Chris is an enthusiastic ziplining fan, so all this hand-wringing about “what if you have a phobia of ziplines but you’re too scared to tell anyone/what if they force someone with a heart condition onto the zipline at gunpoint” is completely irrelevant fanfic. It doesn’t matter how much AAM commenters hate ziplining, if they were at this company they wouldn’t have chosen to zipline in the first place.

    3. DisgruntledPelican*

      Do they? If so, why has Chris never been weighed before? Nothing in either letter suggest Chris suddenly put on a significant amount of weight and looks totally different than they did the other years they’ve participated in this event.

  18. Phony Genius*

    If you don’t go back to the adventure center, make sure to explain to Chris that his situation had nothing to do with the decision. Tell him that you asked them some questions about how to to make your company’s next experience better and they ignored you. You don’t want to do a team building activity with a company that blew off your team.

    Also, consider what you will do in the future should your company ever hire an employee who is heavier than Chris.

    1. HonorBox*

      Yes to this completely. A decision to go elsewhere has to be about finding an alternative that suits the company better, not a knee jerk reaction to this particular situation. I suggested below that OP should chat with Chris if a decision is made to go elsewhere, just so there’s an understanding that it isn’t a decision made only for them, but rather for everyone… and for future everyones as you point out.

  19. Ink*

    They did kind of handle it in a way that was wildly bad! Did they think you just wouldn’t notice Chris vanished, or…? I get that it’s a potentially touchy subject and tricky to figure out how to handle in the moment, but there’s no way Chris is the only person they’ve turned away over weight. They should have a plan for handling situations like that!

    1. ApplesNOranges*

      I think they assumed Chris would contact someone in the group privately. That isn’t a wild assumption that Chris would have texted to say “Hey… go on without me I’ll be waiting when you’re done”

  20. slightly convincing human*

    The adventure center sucks. I wouldn’t go back there, though there’s probably fewer alternative places that have zip lining.

    Being excluded isn’t “team building”…

    Places that offer so called team bullding events should also be following accessibility regulations. Ugh.

      1. Antilles*

        None that I can think of. As far as I’ve ever heard/seen, accessibility regulations for businesses are pretty much universally written in terms of “reasonable”.

        They don’t need to have everything be completely accessible, as long as there’s a reasonable explanation for why the business is not complying. And the weight limit safety requirements for ziplining are about as bulletproof of a “reasonable explanation” possible.

  21. BW*

    I’m OK with the center not getting back to Chris’ manager. This was a private, somewhat embarrassing, thing that involved Chris and no one else. The center pulled Chris aside to weigh them privately and tell them that they couldn’t go on the ride privately. It’s like medical privacy. They don’t need to discuss this with Chris’ manager. They don’t want to announce to the group that Chris is too heavy to participate. If Chris wants to share that info, then that’s on them. Chris is apparently OK with how it was handled, because they want to go back.

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      The manager is the customer, he’s the one booking and paying for the group. He absolutely has standing to talk with them about how his guests were treated.

    2. Hyaline*

      They don’t have to talk about the specific situation, but they could talk about the general policy and protocols. So for example if the main issue raised was “your policy of visually assessing weight is problematic” someone could easily respond to that without ever mentioning Chris.

      The center probably just doesn’t want to deal with the questions, which is their prerogative, and if the OP feels that they are not providing adequate customer service, it’s their prerogative to decide not to return.

      1. Punk*

        The policy of visually assessing weight isn’t problematic if it successfully identifies someone who knew they were lying about their weight in a safety context.

        1. Florence Reese*

          It is problematic if it then fails to identify people who are also lying about (or, more likely, unaware of) their weight because their weight sits differently on their body. And if you’re not weighing everyone, how do you know that your visual spot-check method is actually working instead of just embarrassing people who look fatter but might weigh the same as the tall Dutch guy or the curvy basketball player?

          1. allathian*

            I think it’s interesting that nobody seems to care about the adventure center employees. Weighing everyone would at least not force them to try and guesstimate the weight of their customers, especially given that people carry their weight differently. Many bodybuilders have BMIs in the morbidly obese range when it’s all muscle, but the ziplining equipment doesn’t care if the weight’s from fat or muscle.

            1. Allonge*

              I think part of this is that the centre relies on people to be adults and not go if their weight is over the limit. On top of this, the employees go and do some basic checks – yes, there are outliers but in general visible size is a good indicator of what the weight could be (not down to the grams, but when it gets close to a limit).

              Would it be better to weigh everyone? For this aspect, probably yes.

              But that is not something OP can fix.

              1. DisgruntledPelican*

                Simply “relying on people to be adults” is the quickest way to get someone injured and get yourself sued.

        2. DisgruntledPelican*

          It’s incredibly problematic for all the people who exceed the safe weight limit but don’t look like it to random adventure center employees. It’s problematic for the adventure center when one of those people gets hurt.

          You know what would be more successful at identifying people who exceed the safe weight limit? Weighing everyone.

  22. CAinUK*

    I remember the original comments jumping to big conclusions: all office outings are terrible, everyone secretly hates them, there is no activity that is actually inclusive so stop bullying, etc.

    And it turns out Chris was fine, the adventure center did what they could (took him aside and privately verified he was over the limit…when we now know he was trying to sneak past the safety regulation), and Chris likes this event and wants to go back.

    But everyone still wants to find something to do/be angry about? With people now saying OP should boycott the adventure center because they didn’t respond to one email? Which is infantilizing Chris: a grown adult who already said he is fine and wants to return.

    Do people just WANT to be upset?

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Ah yes, the “people just want to be upset” when marginalized people speak out about their treatment.
      It’s clear you don’t think anyone should speak up. But I bet you will holler when it impacts you.

      1. CAinUK*

        Do you have solutions? I think people should speak up. The manager DID. The OP here did everything in their power to address this w/Chris and correct the experience. Who is the marginalized person here speaking out? Chris would be that person, and HE wants to go back. Hence my point about infantilizing ppl and assuming you should speak FOR them even when ignoring what they already told you they want. So maybe it’s more about you?

        1. HonorBox*

          I think it is one thing to be upset just to be upset.

          But in this case, the OP was looking for some sort of conversation with the adventure center about how this was handled and if the center isn’t willing to have the conversation, it can be that someone is upset that a business that is cashing a check doesn’t care about fixing an issue.

          While it is true that Chris is OK with everything in the big picture, it does sound like it was not a great experience for them. And if OP chooses to find an alternate activity that doesn’t have limits based on body size, that’s totally OK. They’d be choosing a fully inclusive activity and doing so with a business that values them as a customer.

      2. Reebee*

        Except Chris hasn’t spoken “out” and weight isn’t a marginalized, immutable characteristic.

        Good post, CAinUK.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      This feels very “People are just looking to be offended these days!” If people’s reactions feel that way to you, it’s worth considering maybe there’s worth something being offended by and trying to figure out what that is rather than assuming everyone is just over-reacting.

      1. Berin*

        I’m struggling with why there are a lot of people in the comment section who are still offended, even after the update. It’s clear that OP checked in with Chris multiple times, the adventure center did not weigh Chris in front of the group, that Chris was disappointed but still wanted everyone to go bc it was their idea to go there, and that Chris wants to go to the same adventure center again this year.

        And yet despite all that, most of the comments are about how the adventure center is a bad place to go, that OP should scrap this activity moving forward, that group activities in general are a bad idea, etc. Commenters seem to be unwilling to take posters at their word, and I’m not sure why.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I’m not responding to the comments section in general, just the specific comment I replied to that you see time and time again online meant to undermine people who may have legitimate concerns to raise. I’m not offended, I just find the “Everyone is looking to be offended!!1” line of reasoning incredibly tiresome in 2024. You may not and that’s fine.

          We can and should take posters at their word. But the LW is a manager of more than just Chris and that’s why people are asking them to expand the scope of the solution/actions/consideration/whatever to not just this staff member. I don’t think that’s weird nor would I classify that as people being “offended.” Being a good manager means being proactive, not just finding solutions for problems on a case-by-case basis as they arise.

          1. Berin*

            Fair enough! I think where my frustration is coming from is that OP addresses the issue that you’re citing; they have multiple team building activities, no one is penalized for not participating, and many folks opt out with no repercussions.

            Maybe “offended” is the wrong word; given that the folks I typically disagree with most are also the folks who use the “Everyone is looking to be offended” line of reasoning, I probably should have chosen another word. There just seems to be a trend where commenters do not believe posters, and continue to (sometimes strongly!) suggest “solutions” to things that posters have noted are not issues. It’s anecdotal, but more and more updates include the caveat that the comment section made a ton of incorrect assumptions, and Alison even had to put a request at the top of the original post’s comment section to not speculate.

            I appreciate your perspective and discussion on this!

    3. HR Friend*

      I love how the bulk of the update is correcting assumptions made by the commenters on the initial post. And 99/100 comments on the update are making unfounded assumptions yet again that LW, Chris, adventure center are still WRONG. Internet’s going to internet, I guess.

      1. Roland*

        For real. I’m reading a fantasy book right now where one character is from another humanoid race that gives off a phermone that makes everyone around them angry and likely to assume the worst interpretation of anything those around them do or say; I wonder if this character stops by this blog every so often and that’s why the comments are like this.

          1. Roland*

            It’s a later book in Martha Wells’s Raksura series. Not a huge plot point or anything, there’s various funky races with funky traits in the books (and no humans at all). But I do recommend the series in general!

      2. Allonge*

        Yep. A lot of comments are also pretty neatly ignoring the opinion of the person with the actual issue.

        I get that this is a sensitive topic where some of us will be ‘OMG nonononononono’. That should not overall replace listening to the actual story told by the letter writer – it’s not helpful to anyone.

    4. Melissa*

      Absolutely. People want to be upset, especially online. It’s exhausting, and thankfully much rarer in real life.

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      No, people definitely don’t “want” to be upset. I think it is more that people often use the letters here as sort of jumping off points and of course we all bring our own experiences and biases to bear on any response we write, so I think a lot of people are thinking that they would hate ziplining (I know I would…well, there is no way I would do it because it goes beyond hating it for me; I have a terror of heights) or that they would feel embarrassed if they were singled out because of their weight and they are concerned that people other than Chris may in the future have negative experiences with this activity.

      I think that given what the LW says about it being easy to opt out of any activity one doesn’t want to do and the company having a variety of activities, it’s probably fair enough and it wouldn’t bother me in the least if my coworkers wanted to go ziplining so long as no pressure was put on me to do so, but I think this is something on which reasonable people can differ.

      Yeah, there is no activity that is going to be fully accessible to everybody and there certainly isn’t any activity everybody will enjoy, but ziplining is one that is going to exclude a pretty large group of people – those who fear heights, those with disabilities, those who are heavier as well as those who simply don’t like organised activities. And I can certainly see an argument for avoiding activities that are likely to exclude a lot of people or be minority interests and to stick to things that most people can do even if they wouldn’t necessarily be enjoyed by everybody.

  23. cleo*

    I’m a little surprised that so many commenters are assuming that Chris is male, even though I didn’t notice any pronouns or gender identifiers in the update or the original letter.

    1. merula*

      I noticed this as well, both on the update and in the comments on the original. Part of me thinks it’s for the best given the differences in how men and women are treated around weight issues, but it is particularly weird for a commentariat that is usually very good about pronoun assumptions.

      1. DyneinWalking*

        It probably depends on the gender balance of that name in the commenters actual experience. And e.g. in my experience, I’ve mostly encountered that name for men (or boys) so the name reads male for me even thought it is, in theory, gender neutral. But the latter is just intellectual knowledge for me, my gut instinct is Chris=male.

        Mind you, I didn’t make the mistake because I didn’t write a comment mentioning Chris specifically. But I’m pretty sure that that’s one major source of the misgendering – people skim, and if it’s a name they only ever encountered for one gender, their mind automatically assigns that gender to the person and they don’t even notice the carefully neutral pronouns (not maliciously but simply because the gender is truly so irrelevant that they don’t even think to focus on that and their brain gets to fill in the details unnoticed)

  24. Big Pig*

    As a fat person I would want my work place to avoid activities with weight limits. I have taken a long time to get to a place where I can be comfortable with myself, thanks 00s diet culture and ideals of female beauty standards, and I actively don’t own a scale or weigh myself, I don’t let anyone else weigh me either.

    1. neap tide*

      This is of limited relevance to the situation involving Chris and LW’s work event. It’s unfortunate that Chris couldn’t participate in something they wanted to, and it’s terrible how the center handled the situation (especially afterwards when LW was trying to follow up), but while you would want your work place to avoid activities with weight limits, Chris actively pursues ziplining because they do enjoy it. Even in the original letter, ziplining is not the only activity available, but it is the one Chris chose.

    2. MirandaTempest*

      Same. I don’t weigh myself and wouldn’t know if I was above certain weight limits. I don’t always let the doctor weigh me, I’m certainly not doing work activities where I need to be weighed.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      Okay, but in this case Chris doesn’t want that, so it’s not really relevant what anyone else would want.

  25. Skippy*

    This is so awful. A fat person has been put in the position of making everyone wise feel better about an event they were excluded from. I don’t think people realize how pervasive and accepted it is that fat people owe the world an apology for their bodies.

    1. Nia*

      It’s really condescending and arrogant to assume a person you’ve never met was not telling the truth about how they feel about the matter and that there’s no way they could *actually* have been okay with it.

      1. Skippy*

        It’s really patronizing and self-serving to fix on one part of the OP’s original letter and response and assume that a different perspective lacks merit.

        1. Nia*

          The only perspective that matters in this situation is Chris’s. So unless you’re assuming Chris is lying(which would be arrogant and condescending) then there’s no need for a different perspective.

        2. Berin*

          That’s confusing, bc you’re making assumptions that Chris was lying to OP about being okay. OP knows Chris, we don’t. If we don’t trust posters, what’s the point of all of this?

          1. Skippy*

            There are a million scenarios every single day when people say something is fine at work to get along. Whether Chris thinks it’s fine or not, they have the burden of being the person looked at to absolve the company from an unacceptable situation. If this were any other disadvantaged group, we would say that it shouldn’t be on Chris to say that this is OK. Seriously–try substituting in any other group of disadvantaged people and see if you think it’s OK to not hold the company to do the right thing just because the person says it’s fine.

            We tell posters that they should do better *all the time.* Once a week at least.

            1. Berin*

              You’re discounting that it was Chris’s idea to go to the adventure park, that they knew there was a weight limit, that they want to go back to the adventure park for this year’s outing… that’s context that OP seems to be taking into account in her response to the situation.

              I am fat. I have been marginalized for it. I have had to skip activities due to my weight. If I told my manager that I was okay and that I want the activity to resume, I’d be pretty frustrated if my manager decided that bc I’m fat, I must be lying to them about being okay.

              1. Skippy*

                Yeah, I think Alison’s take is the best option from here. The situation just sucks; no matter where it goes from here, no matter what Chris wants, they have had to go through something that no one should have to go through, and their boss’s first reaction wasn’t great.

            2. Roland*

              > Seriously–try substituting in any other group of disadvantaged people and see if you think it’s OK to not hold the company to do the right thing just because the person says it’s fine.

              What groups are you thinking of? Because obviously if they said “women can’t zipline” or “straights only on the zipline” that is quite a different thing than an actual physical safety requirement like a weight limit. Communication and enforcement could have been handled better but the underlying policy is based in a physical reality that you can’t just sub any marginalized group for.

  26. CubeFarmer*

    Nah. Christ doesn’t want to be the bad guy here and keep everyone from going to the adventure center.

    Step up, be a leader, and find another activity.

    1. Allonge*

      Indeed! Overrule anything Chris says, why not? It’s not like they are an adult. /s

      1. HR Friend*

        Of course! Don’t listen to Chris, who LW knows well to be a reasonable, communicative co-worker. Listen to CubeFarmer, internet stranger who not only knows Chris’s inner thoughts, but all fat people, everywhere!

    2. fish*

      Yes. I’m surprised there’s so much “Chris told their manager everything’s fine, ergo everything’s fine!”

      1. L-squared*

        At what point do you believe someone?

        If I can’t do something at work because of say an injury, I may truly be fine with my team doing it without me. If I say i’m fine, at what point will you believe me?

        1. CubeFarmer*

          Maybe you being “fine” doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s more the idea of everyone being able to participate.

          1. L-squared*

            But again, I’m someone who would rather you all have fun than have everyone miss out on my behalf. Like that would make me feel much worse.

            So you can’t say it is about someone’s feelings, but then say “but it really doesn’t matter how they feel” when you don’t like what they’d prefer.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, I agree that having everyone else miss out on my behalf would make me feel much worse if it’s only a one-off. But if my team started to do repeated teambuilding events that I couldn’t participate in because I’m fat enough that it causes some mobility issues for me, at some point I’d start to feel resentful.

              It’s also one thing to miss out on a teambuilding event once because you’re temporarily injured out and something else entirely when it’s a long-term or permanent disability, with disability defined as a physical characteristic that prevents you from doing some things rather than in the legal sense.

      2. Nancy*

        Chris has repeatedly brought up the event in meetings, said they were fine with it privately, and has said they look forward to the other activities offered. At some point you have to actually believe the person.

        I’d be really annoyed if I say I wanted to go again and people either refused to believe me or kept bringing up what happened last year to me.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      Unless you have ESP, you don’t know what Chris is feeling. I would be peeved if someone decided not to take me at my word.

    4. Mary*

      If you were my coworker I would be so angry and upset about your whole, “uwu let me be your white knight” b.s.

  27. HonorBox*

    OP I appreciate the update. It sound like Chris is genuinely interested in this activity, and you should take them at their word. But I do think it is worth looking at an alternative that doesn’t put someone’s body size (height, weight, etc.) at all into the equation. The fact that the adventure center hasn’t responded makes me think that even more. First, they should be embarrassed and apologetic for how this all transpired. Second, I’m of the opinion that if they don’t value you enough to respond to your inquiry, why should you give them money.

    All this said, if you do decide to look elsewhere for an activity, I think I’d have another conversation with Chris when you make the decision. You don’t want this to be solely about THEIR experience. So let them know that. Share that you have concerns about the adventure center not following up with you. And maybe, after a few years, it is time to find something new and different to let everyone try.

  28. blah*

    OP: we don’t pressure people to participate, and there’s no problem if someone decides to opt out of an event

    AAM commenters: um actually this is awful and I don’t believe you that you don’t pressure people

    1. Mary*

      OP: Chris has said repeatedly that they’re fine and want to go again.

      AAM Commenters: Actually Chris is probably lying to you, and you’re a bad manager if you trust them.

  29. Quack like a Duck*

    I’m not sure we’re going to get many constructive comments on this post. It seems like we’re already diverging into some weird tangents.

    IDK if it’s going to be worth wading through a sea of personal opinions on weight, and the probability of misguided or unkind comments seems high.

  30. Minimal Pear*

    I don’t love the way the center handled it in the moment, but I can’t think of any substantial changes they could’ve made, besides better communication. If Chris is okay going back, you should take them at their word, even if they’re not being totally truthful. I’m disabled and often pretend to be okay with something being inaccessible because, as much as I would love to be able to be the Access Warrior all the time, sometimes I just don’t want to Get Into It. But even if I’m saying I’m okay with something when I’m not actually okay with it, I still want people to take me at my word. Because again, I don’t want to Get Into It. I could see you having one more check-in with Chris as you prepare to book whatever activities you choose, just in case they’ve changed their mind.
    That being said, I’m kind of team “don’t go back to this place” because of their lack of a reply. Honestly if they just replied to say “we can’t comment on private information like that” I would like them more, because they would be trying to protect Chris. But I really don’t like the total lack of a reply. You could try again in case they missed your email, but I’d be put off the whole center. If you do decide not to go, emphasize to Chris that it’s nothing to do with them, but rather that you had some serious issues with communicating with the adventure center.

    1. Hyaline*

      Good point. Also—there’s gradations of ok. No, maybe I’m not ok with it per se but I’m less ok with canceling on my behalf, actually, so we’ll go with “marginally below ok” over “severely not ok” in any given situation.

  31. Irish Teacher.*

    Just wanted to say that while this situation was really unfortunate and no doubt horrible for Chris (and for the LW too, who seems like a really compassionate individual who truly wants their team to enjoy these activities), it does sound like in general the day is handled really well. I looked back at the original post and as somebody who would not at all be able to handle ziplining or any activity that involves heights, I would love the option the LW mentions to just join the group for the dinner afterwards or to just join for certain activities.

  32. samwise*

    Follow up with the adventure center, but kick it up to a more senior person. Email first, give it a week, then call.

  33. 1 Non Blonde*

    I mean, if Chris wants to go to the adventure center so badly, can’t they go themself, outside of work?

    Find a different activity for the retreat, please.

    1. A Book about Metals*

      Why though? If people in the company (Chris included), want to go back and nobody else has a problem with it, sounds like a potentially fun day.

      Presumably if they go back this year, they’ll be aware of all these things well in advance and can plan accordingly.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      So Chris should be forced to pay their own way into an activity that they really enjoy (and can easily opt out of if they don’t, as can anyone else) because…reasons?

  34. H.Regalis*

    It’s pretty crappy for LW to have to spend roughly half their update refuting speculation from the comments on the original post.

      1. Myrin*

        For real. And especially when here we have an OP who is considerably kind, reasonable, and thoughtful. How frustrating.

    1. Anon for this part*

      I read AAM religiously for over a decade but the speculation, accusations, and general wilding out in the comments has made me mostly stop reading comments entirely, and in fact makes me less likely to want to read AAM generally. It’s a real problem and this section exemplifies it well.

  35. Skippy*

    I’d like people to imagine instead that Chris was too small for the safety equipment. Would we be having the same arguments?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      As far as my feelings on it, yes? Most of the issues in this letter would still remain, e.g. the adventure centre not having a better process for letting organizers know when participants don’t meet the safety requirements, the adventure centre not replying to LW’s follow up email, etc. Whether Chris is underweight or overweight doesn’t change the logistical considerations for a manager looking to organize an event like this (i.e. does the site take safety seriously, are they responsive to issues raised, is this truly an inclusive place to take staff even if the affected person didn’t mind being left out, etc.).

      1. Silver Robin*

        yeah but there would be a hell of a lot less “Chris should have known their weight with 100% accuracy” and “weighing everyone is a waste of time” and the like.

  36. Dido*

    What the hell else was the adventure center supposed to do? Let an obviously overweight person on the zipline and then be held liable when they broke the restraints and fell to their death? Chris is the one who handled this incorrectly. He knew the weight limits beforehand.

    1. Silver Robin*

      weigh. every. person.

      This is a standard practice in a lot of weight-sensitive activities. It should just be part of the policies.

      I am fat, but lots of people still underestimate how much I weigh based on how I carry it and how I dress (lots of loose/flowy/covered garments, so my shape is not as discernable; this is a side effect not the goal). I do not want to put my safety into the hands of a subjective employee*; I much prefer objective measures to ensure safety standards.

      *Especially an employee in a society that has a lot of twisted and weird ideas about what bodies are “supposed” to look like. I do not know them and I have no reason to believe they are good at magically figuring out who weighs how much just from looks.

      1. UKDancer*

        I think this is the best way. If in doubt make it a requirement to weigh everyone to check they fall within the parameters. If anyone queries it, say it’s an insurance requirement.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, absolutely.

        Weighing everyone also has the added benefit that employees don’t have to try and guess their customers’ weight.

  37. Michelle Smith*

    As a person of size myself, I appreciate you caring this much about making sure that Chris feels included. Not everyone takes that kind of perspective and I’m glad you have it.

  38. Yikes*

    After the comments that were posted over the weekend, I am not surprised that the comments look like this today.

  39. Weigh everyone*

    Everyone in the comments is so focused on dumping on Chris’ weight or defending it, some seem baffled that the place did anything wrong.

    So here’s what the adventure park should have done/should be doing. “Hey folks thanks for coming in, we have a weight limit for this ride, so all riders are expected to be weighed in order to do it.” As this is a safety measure there can’t be any exceptions for who is weighed, they should be weighing everyone not just eyeballing people and guessing their weight like a carney.

    As far as not responding to her one email about it, listen sometimes you get an email you want to think about before responding and then you plum forget about it, or it gets marked as read, but you never saw it. There’s lots of reasons for not responding tat aren’t ignoring it. And it would make more sense to try to talk about the prior issue again at the time you look into booking with them for the next time instead of writing them off after one email

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If the weight limit is say 300lb it’s absurd and wastes everyone’s time to weigh short slim people who weigh 100-130lb.
      Those above the weight limit will still be “singled out” because they are not allowed to take the ride.

      1. allathian*

        It doesn’t have to take long and it takes all the guesswork out of it. I pity the employees who have to guess people’s weights.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. Having worked in retail and at tourist venues, it’s a lot easier to have a rule to point to than to have to exercise discretion and have people argue back. Being able to say “that ride is for people above the line only for insurance reasons” or “I’m not allowed to sell these items separately” in a categorical way is a lot easier for poorly paid front line staff trying to deal with unhappy customers in a long line.

    2. Jo*

      I would find that unnecessarily intrusive and a terrible waste of time. And it doesn’t solve anything. Anyone above the weight limit is still pulled from participating.

  40. LG*

    The debate in the comment sections of every post about work social events is getting exhausting. “Well every activity is exclusionary to someone, so if you start catering to [excluded group] then where do you draw the line??!”

    Of course there is no perfect activity, but doesn’t it makes sense to at least avoid the ones that exclude people for the most common reasons? Avoid strenuous physical activities, avoid activities centered around alcohol, and ensure you have at some food options for the most common dietary restrictions. Literally 99% of work social activity-related issues would be solved if everybody did this. Deal with the other 1% as it happens.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      In this case, Chris wants to keep going to this place, because there are many activities they enjoy.

    2. Shan*

      And those restrictions would go over like a lead balloon at my workplace, so that wouldn’t solve things at all for us. It makes a lot more sense to just have a mix of events, and allow participation to be (truly) voluntary. And I say this as someone who can’t drink and also can’t do a lot of physical activities.

    3. Starbuck*

      These things are nice to keep in mind, yes, but let’s remember also that not every workplace is a white-collar office! Some of us work jobs with heavy lifting, standing around all day, walking miles, etc etc. Some of us work at places that serve alcohol, even!

      I know this blog is usually very office-centric, and that’s fine because it’s good advice for those in that environment, but those aren’t the only kinds of workplaces that do team building activities and it’s not some kind of universal law that what works for office workers is some kind of official best practice for all humans.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      See, and I think the debate is exhausting because people seem hellbent on projecting their feelings on this one situation onto the LW while ignoring that Chris, the person who was excluded, wants to continue to have this activity offered.

  41. Delta Delta*

    This is a nicer update than I expected. I’m glad Chris is happy and hopefully there can be an activity everyone can do next time. I’m disappointed in the adventure center for not responding, but hopefully they take OP’s suggestions to heart.

  42. Jaybeetee*

    It sounds like the adventure park has tightened its policies, if they waved Chris through before but stopped them this time, presuming their weight hasn’t changed. If this was AITA, I’d put a soft AH on them for not following up on inquiries after the fact. In the moment, I actually don’t think the company handled it that horribly – perhaps someone should have discreetly let you know, but I can also understand if the employee was trying to be discreet and not “announce” it, or if there was a communication misfire and they assumed Chris would tell someone, or similar.

    I do think it’s odd to pluck someone out of a line for a private weigh-in – every activity like that I’ve done, everyone gets weighed. It’s not for “politeness” or to avoid singling anyone out, but because often there is equipment calibrated to weight and they want to know anyway, plus you don’t want to put employees in a spot of trying to “guess” who might be too large. But other commenters here are saying the private on-sight weigh-ins aren’t uncommon in the US, so I suppose that’s that.

    I initially read you as saying Chris wanted to try *zip-lining* again next year – which, if at the same venue, would have been a soft AH on them too, for forcing the awkwardness a second time (assuming neither their weight nor the weight limit is forecasted to change between now and then). But if they genuinely did enjoy the venue otherwise, and they’re good skipping the zip-lining and doing a separate activity, all good I suppose.

    You seem to be communicating with Chris and asking about their feelings and how they want to handle things, which I think is best – there seem to be a vibe with some of these comments of “protecting their feelings”, but I find it’s best to empower people and ask what they want or need, assuming it’s an environment where they feel comfortable speaking up.

    Side-note for anyone interested in this topic on a larger scale: it turns out passenger weight is becoming an increasing issue for lighter aircraft – not jumbo jets or anything like that, but smaller commuter planes with lower weight capacities. Obviously passengers are not weighed before boarding, and the flight crew calculates the plane’s total weight in part with an “average person” weight… which is apparently less average than it was a few decades ago. There have actually been some incidents on these smaller flights where they wound up over their weight capacity in part due to simply the number of heavier people on the flight! This will hopefully be resolved by using a “higher average” in calculations, and not by say, weighing passengers, but it does go to show that eyeballing and estimates don’t always work out well either.

    1. allathian*

      And when the plane’s small enough (a dozen passengers or smaller), the weight distribution absolutely plays a role.

  43. AngryOwl*

    I’m choosing to be fascinated that commenters are continuing to make assumptions and deny Chris agency in the name of supporting them.

    Thank you for updating, OP!

    1. mreasy*

      It isn’t about Chris. It’s about the entire team. It’s about the other fat employees who may not try to get on the zipline but who feel excluded. It’s about folks with histories of disordered eating who find the entire thing incredibly stressful. It’s about coworkers who think it’s messed up to engage in activities that some employees can’t participate in. Not just fat employees but folks who are afraid of heights, who are in wheelchairs, who have other disabilities and may say they’re fine, but actually feel excluded and bummed out. It just doesn’t make sense to plan activities that could potentially exclude so many colleagues. I don’t get it.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        You seem to be constantly overlooking that this was just ONE thing offered that day, along with other things without weight limits. You also seem to be overlooking the LW constantly saying people can – and do! – opt out of things when they aren’t interested.

        We have no idea if anyone else is dealing with body issues from this, but it helps no one to speculate just because it may be happening. What we do know is that Chris was the only one singled out and they have expressed an interest in continuing to go to this park. To deny them that simply because you feel you know best is patronizing. If others do have issues they can bring it up and it will be on the Lw to determine next steps, but until that happens it’s ridiculous to insist the team no do something they enjoy because of some phantom problem that hasn’t presented itself.

  44. MAB*

    It’s so wild to me that people are blaming an adventure center for this. This isn’t a body positivity issue–this is a life/death, liability issue. I don’t blame them for one second.

    1. allathian*

      They should weigh everyone as a matter of policy. Say it’s an insurance requirement or something. Sure, it might be a bit absurd to weigh petite people, but weighing everyone eliminates the IMO most awful part of the whole business, namely forcing the employees to guess the customers’ weights by eye.

      In 3rd grade, my son was invited to a trampoline park when his best friend had a birthday party there. The weight limit depended on the type of trampoline, so they weighed everyone regardless of body size. The biggest trampolines also had a minimum age limit.

  45. Merrie*

    Right, but the point is Chris could well have thought they might be just under, and turned out they were just over.

  46. Peggy*

    Wow, I’m appalled by the comments on this update. Even after the LW clarified so many of the misconceptions from the original letter that commenters obsessed over, people are STILL doubling down here. Frankly, this may be my last time reading or recommending this blog. It’s embarrassing suggesting this site to someone and having them come here and read these sorts of responses.

  47. Fluff*

    Fluffy acrobat here.

    1. Please take Chris at their word. They acknowledge they knew they were a bit over the limit. Not listening to Chris may appear to invalidate their decision (and also their acknowledgement of what happened and their own role in it).

    2. Consider going back – really. That might actually help Chris, regardless if they go -> see # 1. Change the thinking – instead of weight, what if it was something else that disqualified Chris? Epilepsy for example? Unable to see out of one eye?

    3. Safety limits have to be a hard stop. The wiggle room is built in. I promise, you do not want people to interpret the wiggle room. You need a hard line to not cross. Imagine being on the tarmac and the pilot mentions the plane’s weight needed for takeoff, and we “are good plus or minus a few.” ACK. As some already said, better to be awkward than dead.

    4. Numbers on the scale – No, not everyone knows these for many reasons. I am one. I weigh facing away and pretty much never look (hello therapy). A number could really wake the mean voices in my head. Do I go to these places? Yes. They have been kind – they did not yell out weight nor write it on my form.

    5. Weight is notoriously hard to guess. I am that fluffy acrobat who is so much heavier than I look. I go to fairs and win stuffed animals for random kids on a yearly basis when the carnies do the weight guess game (and avoiding the hidden scale thing helps). It is my good deed to their stressed exhausted parents.

  48. Curious*

    I’m dying to know if this was Whitewater. Because as a former employee- they are SO BAD at handling this type of thing.

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