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Friday, July 29th, 2016 03:02 am
Long isolated, Africa’s Jewish ‘islands’ bridged by photographer’s lens

Breastfeeding associated with better brain development, neurocognitive outcomes

American student finds 12th century Irish brooch on a Galway Beach

Found: A 3,000-Year-Old Ball of Yarn

New fossil evidence supports theory that first mass extinction engineered by early animals

Courts deal setbacks to GOP voting restrictions in 3 states

Teasing out the microbiome of the Kansas prairie

The Case For Leaving City Rats Alone

Could Women Be Trusted With Their Own Pregnancy Tests?

What sparked the Cambrian explosion?

An Exciting History of Drywall

Scientists Find New Type of Antibiotics Hiding in the Human Nose

Parents feel racial socialization may help minority children succeed in school

Noise Is a Drug and New York Is Full of Addicts

Percentage of US children who have chronic health conditions on the rise

Policing protests when the protest is about police

Universities Are Becoming Billion-Dollar Hedge Funds With Schools Attached

How Olympic Sprinter Stella Walsh Nearly Lost Her Medals Because of Her Autopsy

Kansas mom whose kids sang at Oregon standoff loses custody (TW: child abuse)

The Dorito Effect: Healthy food is blander than ever — and it's making us fat

Poorer Than Their Parents? Flat Or Falling Incomes In Advanced Economies

China’s Military Push In Africa Is Unlikely To End Anytime Soon

Trump’s Bigotry Reminds US Media of Anywhere but Home

Armenia police clash with protesters amid hostage crisis

Turkey's Erdogan slams US reaction to failed coup
Saturday, July 30th, 2016 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. I shared concerns about my boss, and they weren’t kept confidential

My department within the last year had a new vice president brought on board. My manager, who at the time was overseeing me and my coworker, wasn’t performing very well, and in my one-on-one meetings with the VP, I expressed my concerns about our manager not hitting goals or being particularly good or effective at her job. My coworker at the time also expressed similar concerns about her. It was clear that she wasn’t going to come close to her goals and wasn’t performing at the level of her job. She often commented that managing the two of us was very time consuming, which we both felt was a joke as we were quite self-sufficient.

My manager has since left the organization, and I got the sense that she didn’t want to leave but felt like she had to because this VP didn’t seem to want to have her as part of the team.

I found out very recently from the former coworker (who also left for different reasons) that my VP told our former manager about the comments we both made. My coworker found this out because our manager asked her directly about it. Our manager never brought it up with me directly. In my conversation with the VP, I asked for these comments to be confidential, but I am hearing thirdhand that they were not. I believe the source (my former coworker) is not lying or overexaggerating to me and that this is indeed true. I don’t think that my coworker told our former manager what I said.

I am looking for your advice on whether or not I bring this up with my VP as an issue and something I just found out about, or if I simply learn my lesson about not throwing anyone under the bus ever again and keep my comments to myself, even with my VP. I feel like I can’t trust my VP—she has asked for honest feedback on other coworkers and I declined (this was before I found out this breach of trust).

The VP shouldn’t have promised you confidentiality (if she did; I can’t totally tell from your letter). Managers often need to be able to act on this kind of information and can’t always keep it confidential, and they shouldn’t make promises they can’t keep. Whenever possible, they should strive to avoid naming sources; often information can be used on background, as a roadmap to things they should find ways to “discover” for themselves, but that’s not always possible.

But the next time your VP asks you for input about other coworkers, you could certainly ask more specifically about how the info will be used and even mention your concerns about this incident. You could say something like, “I’m a little hesitant to be totally candid, because I’ve heard rumors — and I don’t know if they’re true or not — that some of the input I gave you about Jane ended up being passed along to her, which I hadn’t been prepared for. So I’d want to know more about how my input would be used, and whether there’s any chance my name would be attached to it.”

All that said, though, it doesn’t sound like this was a horrible outcome. You had serious concerns about your manager, you shared them, the VP ended up sharing those concerns, and the situation was dealt with. You have a VP who’s willing to act when there are serious performance problems, and that’s something many people wish they had when they’re dealing with a bad manager or coworker. These aren’t personal relationships; they’re professional ones, and sometimes that does mean sharing your concerns and being okay with them being acted on. (Obviously there are limits to that; you don’t want to mention a minor issue with someone and see that person fired over it, but it sounds like issues with your old boss were pretty serious ones.)

2. My district manager moved into my apartment building

I went into my apartment building laundry room today and was surprised to find my district manager doing a load of laundry. We were both shocked to see each other, and after a brief chat I learned that she has just moved into an apartment on the floor above me.

In my building, the residents pretty much keep to themselves. You will see other people, but I’ve lived in my building two years and I’ve literally seen my neighbor across the hall one time. That being said, I do assume I will run into her from time to time.

My DM and I have a great rapport on a personal and professional level. In fact, I’m working on a novel and she’s offered to put me in contact with her mother, who is a copy editor. I only see my DM a couple times a month, but I adore her. Yet as I faced her in the laundry room today, I felt very awkward about the whole thing. Especially considering I was doing a load of delicates and she has now seen my underwear.

How should I interact with her outside of work? While chatting, she asked me how things were at work, but we also talked about living in the building, and I mentioned my personal life in the form of plans for my next day off. Should I have a level of professionalism? Keep a strictly neighbor relationship? Where am I supposed to draw the line between professional and private life now?

I’d continue to treat it as a professional relationship more than a neighbor relationship. It’s not a big deal to tell her what your plans were for your next day off, because that’s something that wouldn’t be inappropriate to mention in passing at work. It’s fine to chat like you might if you ran into each other in the office kitchen. Just don’t increase the level of socializing you’d normally maintain with her or start commuting to and from work together, since life will be easier if you preserve professional boundaries.

As for the underwear sighting, the only way to handle that is to pretend that it never happened.

3. I don’t want to post my hours for everyone to see

My executive director has asked everyone in the office to keep another sign-in and sign-out sheet (separate from our time cards) on the bulletin board in the middle of the office. She wants us to write our exact hours of when we are in the office, if we go to the post office, lunch, vacation time, etc. We have a very small office of six people, so if I need to run to the post office for 20 minutes I usually just tell people.

I am only accountable to the Executive Director. It seems like a violation of my privacy for my time card to be posted for everyone to see. If my director wants to know my hours, I am happy to give them to her. I am pretty sure that one of the people in the office complained, but she is not my supervisor and I don’t see why she has any business looking at my time card. Am I crazy? Any help you can give me would be appreciated.

I don’t really see a privacy issue here. You could certainly ask what the reasoning is for the new policy so that you have a better understanding of what outcome she’s looking for, but ultimately if she wants the office to operate this way, that’s her call.

4. Is there any way to land my dream job after a less than great interview?

I recently interviewed for my dream job. It’s an editorial job that I truly think I’d be perfect for. I know I nailed everything leading up to the interview. I reached out the hiring manager to show my interest instead of only applying on their job site, had incredible interviews with HR, and did an excellent job on the editorial test given to me prior to the interview (they told me so!). However, the in-person interview with the would-be supervisor was only okay. I didn’t vibe with her as well as I normally do in interviews. She had just started at the company a few weeks prior and was kind of all over the place during the interview. She kept forgetting questions that she wanted to ask and said so.

I’ve also been very sick lately and also started to feel unwell during the meeting (my vision blurred and my head pounded) but, of course, just ignored it and kept the unease internal. I was able to answer all her questions and there interview was overall okay.

I sent a thank-you note to both the supervisor and hiring manager the next day, but haven’t heard anything in a week. I’m afraid my mediocre interview completely ruined my shot.

Is there any way I can redeem myself at this point? I really, really want this opportunity more than anything. Applying to a job you want this desperately is actually the worst. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to land the job and make them love me.

Well, a week really doesn’t really mean anything, so I wouldn’t read into that. But at this point, it’s in their court, and you’ve just got to wait and see what happens. Meanwhile, if you can, you’re better off finding a way to pretend that you didn’t get it and moving on mentally, and then letting it be a pleasant surprise if they do contact you, because otherwise you’re setting yourself up for lots of stress and angst.

It will probably be easier to do this if you keep in mind that you don’t actually know if it’s your dream job. You can’t ever know if something is truly your dream job from the outside — there are just too many unknowns about the work, the culture, the coworkers, and the manager. For all you know, the manager barges in while people are having chemo to force them to talk about work, or insists they come to work during dangerous tornados, or makes low performers wear dunce caps, or sucks in more common and mundane ways.

It’s can actually be pretty harmful to let yourself believe it’s your dream job because it can lull you into overlooking red flags. And it will definitely make the post-interview waiting period far, far worse (as you’re currently seeing).

my manager moved into my apartment building, can I land my dream job after a not-great interview, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, July 29th, 2016 10:53 pm
Anyone willing to beta read 2800 words of Chronicles of Amber fic with Merlin/Jasra dubcon (Jasra captured Merlin) looming in the background? There's no violence or overt nastiness beyond the background situation. It's just conversation, kind of tense conversation but nevertheless. Oh, and there are babies. I know that's a dealbreaker for some people.

I'm not quite done, but I don't expect more than another two or three paragraphs.

I'm going to bed now, so I won't get back to anyone until morning.
Friday, July 29th, 2016 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Friday, July 29th, 2016 07:57 pm
How do I end up doing this? I started off trying to write something iddy and not to be taken seriously in terms of trying to keep it in character or consistent with canon or anything at all that resembled work. What I’ve got is 2100 words that’s trying to be an actual story and that’s kind of angsty and not all that much fun in the way I meant it to be. It’s not even about the characters I intended to write about. It’s Amber, Merlin and Jasra talking to each other in a canon divergent AU with Merlin/Jasra dubcon in the background because Jasra managed to capture Merlin when she came to yank him out of the Blue Cave. (Instead of him escaping and almost capturing her.)

This Merlin is probably OOC because he has at least as much brain as God gave a turnip. Jasra may be OOC or may not. I haven’t reread the bits with her in them in quite a long time, and AO3 isn’t helpful. She’s tagged on two fics, one mine from Yuletide 2009 and one in Russian. I also suspect that the conversation is wandering unnecessarily and potentially boringly. If it’s drawerfic, that doesn’t matter. If it isn’t…

Quite apart from that, I can’t tell if it’s any good at all or just ridiculous. Would anyone on earth be interested in reading Merlin/Jasra?
Friday, July 29th, 2016 06:00 pm

Posted by Brett Jonas

Quote Post Emery: “That meeting had so many movie quotes in it.”
Greyden: “But we were the only ones who understood them!”
Emery: “That’s still fun, because then everyone else is confused, and we’re not, so we look smart.”
Friday, July 29th, 2016 03:12 pm
I’m trying to figure out what to do when in Chicago. Cordelia just assumes that it will magically work out because what else are parents for? Scott’s exhausted and busy and doesn’t have time to talk about plans, but he’s the one who’s going to have carry out the majority of the plans, especially if I stay at the hotel one or both days.

He wants to do shopping/wandering around on Monday because it’s supposed to rain Tuesday which would make wandering around outside unpleasant. I’m wondering if I could face the mass transit system on my own in order to join them at dinner time that day or to spend the early part of the day with them and go back to the hotel when I start to tire out too much. (I’m less enthusiastic about the latter option because of the risk of me being too tired and/or anxious to get back on my own.)

Maybe I send them to the Willis Tower first thing on Monday and then they wander around after? I kind of suspect that Cordelia will find wandering around a bit less fascinating than she thinks she will. We’ve suggested three possible places for wandering around, but we can’t persuade her to look at websites and decide which she prefers. Scott’s only interested in so far as Cordelia is.

I’ve been looking for reviews on various destinations in terms of wheelchair accessibility, but I can’t find anyone at all talking about renting/borrowing chairs onsite and how well that works. I only found a handful of review at all, and all of them focused on accessible entrances and restrooms and elevators. All of which are hugely important but don’t address the problems I’m likely to have or things like how crowded it gets and whether that affects access to exhibits. I found one review of Shedd that indicated that it’s nearly impossible to get close enough to see anything in a wheelchair when it’s crowded, but nothing about Field or Science and Industry. I wonder— Is it that people who borrow wheelchairs don’t want to talk about it online? Am I using the wrong search terms?

I’d like to know how hard it’s likely to be for Scott to push the chairs each place has. I’d like to know if they have many that are wide enough for me to sit on and how many they have total. How often do they run out? Is there a time that’s better/worse for getting a chair? None of the places allow reserving chairs in advance.
Friday, July 29th, 2016 02:26 pm
I keep meaning to mention— I had half a can of pineapple on Tuesday with no ill effect. I had a large bowl of frozen cherries yesterday, and while my digestive system isn’t entirely happy, it’s much calmer than it would have been in May. I'm currently considering eating a peach. It looks so very, very good...
Friday, July 29th, 2016 05:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I work for a start-up, where I “manage” two other people. Manage is in quotes because we are technically a “flat” organization, but as we grew they started promoting people to team leads. In practice, leads work as middle managers (including things like making decisions on project priorities, approving PTO, all the basics), even though on paper we claim no hierarchy across the whole company. Usually this isn’t much of a problem, since there are about 10 different team leads in the different departments and everyone knows what’s up in reality.

I need advice on windows and seniority in a company where “there is no seniority.” Right now, everyone on my team has a window view. We are moving into a new building next month, where only I and one other person on my team will have window views. When the seating chart was presented, the one person without a view (Jane) immediately turned to the person with a view (Fergus) — in the middle of a company meeting, no less — and asked Fergus to give her the window seat. Fergus felt very uncomfortable (as he told me later) and basically said he had no say in seating charts. This is not entirely true, since I gave Fergus the pick of the two possible seats, based on the fact that he has been at the company three times as long as Jane. They have the same title and responsibilities, and even though our culture is such that no seniority exists, I figured that was the fairest way.

Jane later came to me to ask about it, and said she has severe seasonable affective disorder (SAD) and not being near a window will be debilitating for her. I told her that we should see what happens after we move, as in all likelihood we won’t stay in the current set-up for long (we get moved a lot as different teams grow and need new space). The windows are also floor-to-ceiling, so I think she will still get plenty of sunshine from where she will be sitting (which is more in the middle of the room, whereas Fergus is directly next to a window). Giving her my seat isn’t an option, since the team leads have their own section. I thought that was the end of it, but anytime the new building comes up, even outside our team, she gets very vocal about how hard it will be for her to not have a window.

It’s frankly getting really annoying, and I feel like it makes the whole team look bad for her to be focused on this to the point of bringing it up at least twice a week. On the other hand, I don’t want to dismiss her concerns because I know SAD is a real issue for some people, and the fact she is so vocal about it must mean it’s on her mind to a distracting extent. But I also know that realistically I can’t make sure everyone is in ideal situations for their mental or physical health at work (see also: our open floor plan). At other companies I think it wouldn’t be an issue because I could just say “seniority” and be done with it. This is also her first job out of college, so I don’t think she fully understands the “unwritten rules” as much as other people.

I’m not sure where to draw the line in being accommodating while fair to the entire team. Is this something that I should tell her to bring a doctor’s note in for, which is the policy for if someone on my team wanted a standing desk? Should I tell her we will make sure there’s enough space at her desk for a UV lamp to help in the winter? Should I just wait it out or ask Fergus if he could switch for half the year? I imagine for glare purposes the windows in the new building will have to have blinds down most of the day like we do in our current office, so I’m not sure a window seat would in reality do her any good. And as far as I know, Fergus could have SAD as well, but doesn’t want to be vocal about it.

We don’t have an HR team, and without the “he has seniority” reason, I’m not sure what to say to her. My instinct is to wait it out, let her complain if she wants (even though I think it’s oversharing, but I can’t point to how it’s impacting her work to complain to people about window seating, and I’m sure some people sympathize more than I do, which might be helpful to her), and deal with it once we see if we’re even in the same configuration come winter. What do you think?

Is it totally unacceptable in your company’s culture to just say, “Because Fergus has been here three years, I gave him first pick of seating?” Because that would be honest and reasonable, which makes it the best way to go. I get that your company wants to pretend that there’s no seniority or hierarchy, but in reality there is, and the pretense that there’s not isn’t doing Jane any favors.

The seasonal affective disorder is a complicating factor, though — because depending on the specifics of her situation, it’s possible that it’s covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. That doesn’t necessarily mean that she should get Fergus’s spot, but it does mean that you have a legal obligation to enter into an interactive process with her to discuss possible accommodations, which could include a light therapy lamp or other options. Normally you’d bring HR into this, because they’re the ones who should trained to manage that process, but since you don’t have HR, who normally handles legal issues for your company? That’s who you’d want to go to for guidance.

my junior team member is insisting on a desk by a window was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, July 29th, 2016 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

open thread – July 29-30, 2016 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, July 29th, 2016 09:45 am
I finished my WIP Big Bang story after 10:30 last night. My original plan for the story had been for something much longer that ended with Jadis’s death. Then Cordelia’s dislocated knee happened in March, and all of the stress and freak out of May and early June meant I couldn’t write then either. I think this way actually works better because having two or three separate stories means I can switch points of view and focus.

I’m at 6000 words for the month of July with three days left to go. I don’t know that I’m willing to work as hard as would be necessary to write the remaining 4000 words to reach my Camp NaNo goal.

I got to bed around 12:30 last night and didn’t sleep all that well. That’s not entirely true. I slept well up until about 6:30 and then couldn’t get back to sleep again. I had expected more trouble toward the beginning of the night because I had a cup of caffeinated tea with honey around 9:30 last night when I wasn’t sure how late I’d have to stay up, just that I needed to be awake until I was done. Caffeine doesn’t tend to keep me awake except in as much as it’s hard to fall asleep when I have to keep getting up to use the toilet. I would have preferred eating something to having tea, but it was late enough that there really wasn’t much I could safely eat. Pretzels might have been safe or some form of purely sugar candy, but we had no candy, and I didn’t think of pretzels because I don’t like them all that much. The rationale for having tea was largely as a sugar delivery vehicle because I couldn’t stomach a spoonful of honey.

We went to Target last night to look for a bathing suit bottom for Cordelia. She didn’t like any of the official bathing suit things available because they were all too short. We ended finding some shorts made of moisture wicking fabric. She didn’t think they were quite long enough, either, but they were acceptable for now, and the longer things (capri type things) she tried, she also didn’t like.

We also bought a couple of DVDs, a book for Cordelia, and a mop and broom, also for Cordelia, because the cleaning lady wants Cordelia to have her own implements when she starts teaching Cordelia about sweeping and mopping. Scott got a game (on sale) that he really wanted. He hasn’t decided whether to keep it or to put it aside as a Christmas present for our local nephew. We also got some protein bars because we will want them in Chicago, and they’re only about 3/4 the price at Target as they are at Kroger.

Scott is working twelve hours today, 7 to 7, and eight hours tomorrow, 7-3. He told me that the only way he could have gotten out of the 7-3 tomorrow was by volunteering to work 3-7 in the morning tomorrow. That seems like something that ought to be illegal, but apparently it would be legal if he volunteered for it. They just can’t ask him or require him to work more than twelve hours in twenty four.

We have friends who are having a cookout tomorrow, but we won’t be able to go. With Scott working, we can’t do that and also get all of the trip preparation done. We need to get to the library (I might try going there today, but I’m not sure I’ll be up to it) and to Kroger. I think there’s something else we need to do, too, but I can’t think what it is.

Today, I need to print all of those directions for getting around Chicago. I need to find a suitcase and start packing my clothes. I should call my brother and make sure he knows we’ll be stopping in Lawton for lunch on Sunday. I’m not sure it will occur to our parents to tell him, and Lawton is only twenty minutes from where he lives. I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least half a dozen other things I need to do in terms of trip preparation, but I’m kind of blanking on them at the moment. Maybe I can manage a nap now that I’ve been up for an hour. That works sometimes.
Friday, July 29th, 2016 03:42 am


A little more than 20 minutes and my vanity is a whole new space!! I’m also officially MADLY in love with my Norwex cleaning supplies; they made cleaning the countertop much easier than its ever been before!

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 03:35 am
and consequently, by the time I arrived, there were no cherries for me. They let me take extra fennel to make up for it, though - apparently, not a lot of people want their fennel.

While I was there, I complained about the week's events to the desk. I mean, no cherries was just the icing on the cake, right?

So this week they asked "So, how are things going? It's not as bad as last week, right?"

And I told them. Which perhaps I shouldn't have, but. I did. So. Fingers crossed that next week is on an upturn, though! Maybe we'll win the lottery or something!


Any picture or text could be inkjet-printed as a solar cell

3 sisters go from homeless shelter to junior track stardom

Twinkle, Twinkle, Vogel Staar

Bird brains are dense—with neurons

Survey of 31 years of video games shows a decline in sexualized female characters

To reverse damage of sitting, take a brisk, hour-long walk

The Lost Mushroom Masterpiece Unearthed in a Dusty Drawer

Common brain changes found in children with autism, ADHD and OCD

NYPD Bee Squad Ready for Sting Operations on Urban Swarms

Dolly the sheep clones age healthily

Lady Responds to Strict Office Dress Code By Wearing Incredible Costumes

Dirty to drinkable: Novel hybrid nanomaterials quickly transform water

The Longest Run: Olympics about more than winning for Refugee team

Is Watching Gymnastics Worse Than Being an NFL Fan?

As pastoralist land shrinks, Maasai women take livestock lead

A Mormon Tycoon Wants to Build Joseph Smith’s Mega-Utopia in Vermont

How a 4-Year-Old's Letter to His Father Survived the Civil War (A letter from his older son is visible here.)

Want police reform? Charge rich people more for speeding tickets

Sandy Hook school opening to public, 4 years after massacre

Plastic 'continents': Is there a way out?

History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump

How H.P. Lovecraft speaks to our terrifying political times

Repeated experiences of racism most damaging to mental health

What We Owe the White House Slaves: $83 Million

Immigrants Desperate To Get Out Of US Detention Can Get Trapped By Debt

Fighters battling Islamic State gather trove of documents

Syria, Russia to open aid, exit corridors in besieged Aleppo, officials say

Erdogan wants army under president's control after coup: Turkish official

Desperate migrants in Serbia launch hunger strike

An Aging WWII Refugee: ‘We Can’t Turn Our Backs on the Refugees of Today’

Obama expanding refugee program for Central Americans

Scientists caught off-guard by record temperatures linked to climate change
Friday, July 29th, 2016 01:51 am


New landlords insisted on coming over to sign the lease (I was unsuccessful with “I can just swing by…” approach). So I had two days to claw my way through my approaching-relapse-level MS symptoms, bad back (actually wore two braces), BPPV, MDD, GAD, PD, yadda yadda. First day was all cage cleaning. That was a bitch because I got vertigo in the morning and had to medicate down. Wasn’t up until 2. Got all but 1 done, though the others were put together bare bones .

All the pictures are from yesterday, which was all apartment. Started around 10am and finished around 3 - landlord said 4, but better safe than sorry - with a quick run to the store around 12.30. Still have to wash a few dishes and rattie things (houses, etc), along with pimping out their cages. Flat on my back today, so those things will be waiting.

Friday, July 29th, 2016 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. Asking my boyfriend’s boss to help me plan a secret vacation with him

My boyfriend of six and a half years is turning 30 between Christmas and New Year’s. His family and many of his close friends live in the UK. I would like to surprise him with a trip to the UK for Christmas and so that he can spend his 30th with the people who mean the most to him. However, in order to do so, I would need to contact his manager to ask about booking time off for him. I know that he is allowed to have one week of vacation per year, and he has not taken his vacation this year. How would I go about asking my boyfriend’s manager to request time off for my boyfriend?

I’m not really a fan of this, because it can put his manager in a pretty bad position. From the manager’s perspective, I don’t know if he’s saving up his vacation time for something else, or whether the two of you are having problems and he’d rather not go on this trip (and might prefer to use work as an excuse), or whether he’s going to submit a vacation request for November that would leave him no time for this trip he doesn’t know about in December. If he only gets one week a year, you’d be using all of his vacation on this, which he might not want or which might conflict with other plans he has (and there’s a decent chance he’ll have already used it since this will be the very last week of the year).

It also can cause workload issues, if he’s planning to do something crucial during that week and doesn’t know he’ll need to get it done earlier or otherwise make advance arrangements to cover his work. (In some jobs, the manager could do that for him, and in other jobs it would be much harder.)

A better option might be to ask him to take that week off but leave the trip itself a surprise.

2. Our department camera was stolen from my office

I work at a large company, but my department is pretty small. I’ve always been in charge of keeping the DSLR camera for our department in my office. I use it from time to time, maybe once a month if that – to take photos of new employees and things. I just realized today that the camera is missing from my office (I honestly haven’t had to use it in a month). I tended to either keep it on my bookshelf, or in a drawer with the camera case. I’ve looked through all my stuff and it’s nowhere to be found. I’ve asked around to other people in other departments, and no one has seen it.

Obviously, I should’ve locked up my things better but after four years, there’s been no incident until now. My boss is on vacation until mid-week next week. I’m unsure how to tell her this, and am a bit afraid of the consequence. I don’t walk into my office daily and inventory my belongings, and unfortunately this somehow got away from me. Any advice? I’m ready to look up replacement cameras and hope the end result isn’t too terrible.

If they haven’t given you a locking drawer or somewhere else to secure it, this stuff happens. I mean, yeah, it’s not great that you didn’t have it locked away, but ideally you wouldn’t need to worry about coworkers stealing things either.

All you can really do is be straightforward with your boss, and take responsibility for not having it more secured. I’d say something like, “I think the DLSR camera has been stolen. It’s usually on my shelf or in a drawer, and it’s missing. I’ve looked everywhere and asked other people to look, and it’s nowhere to be found. I should have asked earlier for a locking drawer to keep it in and will in the future if we replace it, but I wanted to let you know right away.”

3. Turning down a job at a company I want to work at

Recently I have began applying aggressively to a company that I really want to work at, in hopes that one of my applications (or my numerous applications in general) would catch the attention of HR. All of the jobs I applied to are similar, just in different departments. Recently one of the applications was accepted and I was contacted by an HR person who did mention that they noticed I applied for “some other positions in (this field).” They then noted the specific application they were contacting me about and we scheduled a phone interview.

I have done my due diligence and read up on the department and their work. Well, after doing all of that, I realize that I don’t think this particular department would be a good fit for me, but I still want to work for the company. I do plan on completing the phone interview; however, if I am called for a formal interview, I don’t really want to waste the time of the staff in that department. My thinking is that the phone interview is a good way for me to talk to HR and give them more information on myself so that if my application is selected again in the future, they already have an idea of my skills. But I am not interested in the work the department does and I don’t really want to turn down an interview and possibly a job if it’s offered because I don’t want to look bad. I don’t know what to do. Is there a way to not accept a formal interview if offered without looking bad? I still really want to work at this company because they are a leader in their field but I don’t think the current position I’m being interviewed for is a good fit for me.

Definitely don’t go to an in-person interview if you know for sure you don’t want the job. You can just explain that you really appreciated their time talking with you, but you realized that you’re more interested in working in departments that do X and Y and you’d love it if they’d contact you if an appropriate opening there comes up.

It’s fine to do still do the phone interview — and it’s possible that you might find out information that changes your mind — but I wouldn’t count on that being something that helps you in the future. I’m assuming this is a large company (given the number of openings you’ve applied for), so while the phone interviewer might put some basic notes on you in their applicant database, it’s not super likely that it’ll give you a significant leg up with other roles there. (It’s definitely possible, but not something I’d plan around.)

The bigger issue here, I think, is that you might be applying for too many jobs with this company. Applying aggressively in the hopes that they’ll notice you can be problematic — it can lead to them noticing you in a bad way, especially if you’re being so indiscriminate that you didn’t realize you’d applied for something that didn’t actually interest you. That’s less of a problem at large companies as long as you’re applying for the same basic types of work, but I’d still make a point of only applying only for jobs there that you’d be excited to interview for.

4. Severance when an employee is fired

My question has to do with notice and severance. I know good employers give employees notice of a layoff (or severance if the employer cannot give notice). However, what about for employees terminated for misconduct, especially with a progressive discipline system in place?

I understand the legal issues with waivers in exchange for severance. Outside of that issue, though, should employers give severance to employees terminated for cause, assuming the employer has a progressive discipline policy in place (so the employee has had previous warnings and/or done something so egregious, they needed to be terminated). Do you have a sense of whether it is common or not common to give severance to employees terminated for misconduct?

It really varies by employer. Some employers routinely offer severance to fired employees, often because they want the signed release form in exchange. (It’s typical to have people sign a release of any future legal claims in exchange for severance, which can be smart to do even when you don’t have any worries about legal issues, because even baseless lawsuits can take up a huge amount of time and money.) Others don’t offer severance to fired employees unless there’s a specific reason to (like that they’re worried the person is litigious or has real grounds for a case, or because they recognize that just got the hiring decision wrong and so bear some responsibility).

In general, I think that employers who can afford it should offer severance to employees who are fired unless they’re being fired for deliberate misconduct. If someone is being fired because they just couldn’t do the job well but they made a sincere effort, that sucks for everyone and it’s kind to offer some severance to cushion the blow (and to recognize that hey, you hired this person so you’re part of this too).

5. Should I get a low-level part-time job in order to work my way into a management position?

I’ve worked my way up to a supervisor position in informal education nonprofits (think zoos, gardens, etc.). I’d like to eventually become education manager/director of an informal facility, but in my current office that would mean my boss would have to leave, which isn’t going to happen any time soon.

There is a science museum in my town that I would love to work at. Science museums are the one informal facility that I haven’t worked in, but I think would fit my background well.

Do you think it would benefit me to work at the museum part-time doing something like weekend birthday parties? This would be a low position on the totem pole. Then if a management position opens up, I would already work there and have an “in.” My husband thinks that everyone loves a “work your way up from the bottom” sort of story, but I’m worried it might actually hurt my chances since they would see me just as a birthday party host and not a manager. (If they see me at all, since management very well might not work weekends).

I would enjoy the weekend work but don’t need the small amount of extra money it would get me, so I would just be working there in hopes of it helping me get a management job there in the future.

Nah, I wouldn’t do it. If you wanted to do it for other reasons and this would just be a possible side benefit, I’d say to go for it — but without counting on it leading anywhere. But in a case where you’d be doing it solely as a strategy to get hired into a management role, no. There’s more chance than not that it won’t give you a leg up since the work is so different from what you actually want to do there. (It might be different if it were volunteer work; then it’s clearer that you’re just looking for ways to help out. But taking a low-level paid role isn’t likely to have the same effect.)

Instead, I’d just plan to send in a particularly awesome cover letter and resume when the job you want opens up. And also, you might look for other ways to become a known quantity to decision-makers there, such as by attending their events or otherwise networking with them.

asking my boyfriend’s boss to help me plan a secret vacation, a camera was stolen from my office, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 11:53 pm
I have posted my WIP Big Bang fic. It hasn’t been beta read, and I gave it only the most cursory read over because I only had an hour and a half before my drop dead deadline to post. Mainly, I made sure that the html was okay. If you spot typos or omitted words or whatever, please let me know. I haven’t posted it at my website yet, and I’m not sure when I will. Tomorrow, I have many other things I need to get done.

Title: Dark and Deep
Fandom: The Chronicles of Narnia
Rating: M
Tags: alternate universe - canon divergence, alternate universe - dark, villain pov, child abuse, physical abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, muteness, suicidal ideation
Pairing: None
Characters: Jadis, Susan, Peter, Tumnus
Summary: Tumnus delivers Lucy to the White Witch, and Aslan never comes. All four children end up in Jadis's hands, and she decides to see what she can mold them into.
Notes: This is the first story in an arc, but I’m not sure how many stories will come after it. I know the next one will deal with Edmund and Lucy and Susan.

Dark and Deep at AO3.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 07:17 pm
I’ve hit my minimum word count. Now I just have to find my way to an ending. I think I might know what the last line will be, but I might be wrong. I don’t see any chance that I’m getting this beta read before I post it because I’d like to post it before I go to bed this evening, and it’s 7 p.m. now. Even if I was completely done, I think things would be too tight for finding someone to look at something so potentially squicky/triggery.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 03:20 pm
I need 700 more words to reach the minimum word count for the WIP Big Bang. I also need to find some sort of ending for the story. It won’t be a really satisfying ending because I’ve realized that this is a small piece of something larger (of course). It’s just that other bits have to be from other points of view or they won’t work.

The chicken is cooked. The dishwasher is running, and when it’s done, I’ll cook some sweet potatoes.

I kind of want to lie down for a little bit, but because the cleaning lady’s here, Cordelia’s in our room, reading, and she won’t/can’t read if I’m in the room, too. (Plus, she prefers sitting on my side of the bed to sitting on Scott’s side.) I think I may go down in the basement and do some shelving since my brain is trying to shut down. I can do that without thinking, and maybe I’ll uncover some boxes I can use to ship the things I want to pack up and mail.

I’m trying to figure out how to get Cordelia to Target to shop for a bathing suit before Sunday. Scott’s working late tomorrow and is probably working during the day on Saturday, so this evening and Saturday evening are the only possible options. Cordelia just needs new bathing suit shorts, if we can find them. It’s a little late in the year, so I’m less optimistic than I might be. I’m not sure what we’ll do if Target fails us. I’m not sure that any of her normal shorts will work instead, and she wants to be able to swim at the hotel.

And, while I was in the bathroom, the mail carrier shoved a bunch of mail into our box and didn’t take any of the outgoing mail at all. I don’t see how he can have missed it being there. The absentee ballot envelopes are large, and the Netflix return envelope is bright red. The mailbox opens with a drop down door, so even people my height (5’2") can see everything inside when standing on our porch. The mail carrier must not have even bothered to look.

Fortunately, our cleaning lady was able to track down the mail carrier before he left the neighborhood and got him to take all three items. But… WTH?
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 05:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I have a problem that I’m sure other readers would love to have: I’m about six months into a new job, and almost everyone in my department has been pressuring me to take vacation. The pressure has been gentle, but persistent. Some examples: my supervisor brought it up in both my three-month and (early) first annual review, the associate director of the department brought it up at the tail end of one of our small department’s meetings, and someone I report to part-time told me she was so glad I was finally taking some days off when I let her know I had to be out (though I’m actually working those days – I’ll just be away at a conference).

I know it’s great to work at a place that encourages rest, but I still can’t take the days off. Unlike at my previous jobs, sick leave and vacation don’t accrue separately here – there’s just one bank of paid personal leave. As a chronically ill person who has had to miss a lot of work over the past few years (I’m currently in slightly better health, but I will inevitably get sick again), it seems foolish for me to miss a lot of work for something other than “can’t get out of bed.” I spend much of my personal time managing my illness to make sure it doesn’t encroach on work and I don’t want to undermine all that effort by messing with my routine or risking running out of leave time when it inevitably becomes necessary to take it.

For now, I just need to keep my head down and get to work every day. It’s frustrating to be chided (I am the youngest person in the department by decades, so there’s a flavor of kindly paternalism in the way some of coworkers talk to me) for doing something I don’t want to have to explain. I’m usually better at advocating for myself, but I can’t figure out what I can say that won’t sound defensive or frustrated with a policy my department doesn’t control. I just want to politely shut these well-intentioned comments down. Do you have any suggestions?

Ugh, I can see why you’re frustrated. You shouldn’t have to share medical issues with everyone, and they’re putting you in a position where it probably feels like you’re going to have to. At the same time, it’s great that they truly want people to take time off, and I can see where they’re coming from too — they’re probably used to people who have to be urged to take vacation before they really believe the culture encourages it.

I do think it would be useful to tell your manager what’s going on, so that she doesn’t keep nagging you. Otherwise she could reasonably see it as part of her job to ensure that you get regular time off. If you trust her to be a reasonable person who doesn’t freak out at the mention of illness, I’d say this: “I really appreciate that you’ve encouraged me to take time off. I have an well-controlled medical condition that occasionally flares up and requires time off, so I prefer to save up my time in case that happens. I wanted to let you know so that you didn’t worry about me not really believing it was okay to take vacation or anything like that.”

For everyone else, how about this: “Oh, I like to save it up and use it in larger chunks.” Or “I won’t hesitate to take it when I need it, but for now, I’m saving it up.” Or even “I’m planning to take some time off later this year — don’t worry” (followed by, if pressed, “no specific plans yet, but I’m on it”).

Or you could also use a version of the manager language with other people, depending on whether you’re willing to share that more broadly.

This is a good reminder, too, for the rest of us to be careful about not crossing the line between “making sure new person knows we support using benefit X” and “nagging new person into something they don’t owe us an explanation for.”

my coworkers keep pressuring me to take vacation — but I need to save up time for a chronic illness was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 02:14 pm
the player has just released Godzilla.

So, um, my mother found a lump, and it's looking like it's probably cancer and I am so sick of this fucking shit.

Why the hell can't we ever have sudden good news like the Publisher's Clearing House just decided to award us all the prizes? Or "whoops, our climate models were overly pessimistic"? Or a certain evil presidential candidate has just choked to death on his own vitriol? Or the entire past year has been a really bad dream but now I'm waking up and somebody is giving me breakfast in bed?

Fucking a. I want a do-over. This isn't right, it isn't fair, and I don't like it.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 02:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

My 16-year-old niece, M., has appeared here before — when she was 12, she and her sister helped me answer this letter about a boss who was always making out with his girlfriend in his office, and when she was 14, they helped me answer this letter about a boss stopping up a toilet and asking someone else to plunge it. This summer, she got her first job and I asked her to tell us what it’s like to be working for the first time. Here’s our interview.

So you have your first job! Tell us what you’re doing.

This is my first job and I’m working as a lifeguard at an outdoor pool. There is also a hot tub and wading pool that we guard. Lifeguards are also in charge of a bunch of secondary duties like cleaning and checking the chemical balance of the pool water.

Is it weird to have a job? Does it make you feel more grown up?

It isn’t really weird; it is kind of like school except you can to decide not to come in as long as somebody can cover your shift. Also, it feels more important than school in some ways because at school if you fall asleep or aren’t paying attention or something, it doesn’t matter but at this job it immediately matters because somebody will probably get hurt.

I don’t think it makes me feel more grown up, but it gives me a different understanding of employees in jobs that involve customer service or cleaning. Before, I didn’t always know how to act around people in those types of jobs. I would always be nice and polite and everything, but now I know that the main thing is to stay out of their way and just be polite. Some members make the job easier and some make it harder; there isn’t much in between. If they follow the rules and do everything correctly, it makes it easier, and if they are rude, or they don’t follow the rules or argue, it makes the job harder.

Well, it makes you feel more grown up to me. What has surprised you most about working?

It might just be the particular place I’m working or the job I have, but I was most surprised by how many people are inconsiderate or rude to the staff or other members. It especially surprised me how entitled some people feel, and how they say very rude things to lifeguards when their kids are right next to them. Even kids are rude sometimes, but how can you blame them when they learn from their parents that that is the way to talk to lifeguards?

Members will often question a rule, and they honestly believe that they have thought of something that nobody else ever has, that this particular rule is completely unnecessary, and I just need an explanation about why their particular kid should be able to use water wings. Sometimes the excuse is as silly as “she just loves Frozen so much, and she came to the pool so excited to wear her Anna and Elsa water wings, I just don’t have the heart to take them away from her. Look at her!” What do they expect me to say to that? “Oh, yes, of course, I did not realize that she was such an avid Frozen fan! In that case, enjoy the water wings!” Sometimes, parents are a bigger problem than their kids are.

How do you handle it when parents are being rude like that?

In this job, the customer is not always right. In fact, usually they are wrong. It is important to remember that, because many members will tell you something that sounds like it could very possibly be true, and it can make you rethink what you are about to say. But you have to remember that this isn’t a bartering system, and rules are rules. Sometimes, a rule is changed or altered if there has been too many complaints about it, but it would never be changed in the middle of the day or something like that. Mostly, you just have to keep telling the customer the rule and explain why it is in place and try to convince them to follow it, but if they start yelling or will not listen, we just get a manager to deal with them.

Do you remember years ago when I taught you what to say if you ever need to fire someone? Now that you’re working, does the thought of firing someone seem heartless and cruel?

I remember you said we have to talk about COBRA! (Note: When I taught my nieces about this, they were young and thought there was a snake involved.) I don’t think that having a job changed what I thought about firing someone, but when I first started, I was very worried about being fired because I messed up or got in trouble or something, but when I started working with other people who were less hard-working than I was, I realized that it would require something very, very bad to be fired (at least at my job), so I am not worried about that at all anymore.

Yeah, I think I had that same experience with high school jobs. You come in terrified, and then you realize that just showing up and making a sincere effort makes them pretty happy with you, or at least so it was at Mrs. Fields Cookies and TCBY (both excellent summer jobs, by the way).  Anyway, what do you like most about working? 

I am lucky to be working with such nice, funny people, so I like my coworkers the most about this job. I have gotten closer to some of my friends I already knew from working with them, and I also met new people. But I know that it won’t always be this kind of situation, so I would say that my second favorite thing is the paycheck.

The paycheck is indeed nice. What are you doing with the money you’re earning? And what does it feel like to suddenly be earning much larger amounts of money than you’ve had in the past?

Mostly, I just buy things that I really wanted before, but I couldn’t get. It’s also helpful to pay for concert tickets. It feels good, because I can buy most things that I want. Also, I got a checking account and a debit card. I have been saving most of my money.

Were you surprised by how many taxes are taken out of your check?

I wasn’t really surprised by the taxes because it wasn’t too bad, and I bet I have used way more money than they took from all my years in school and using everything else that taxes pay for.

You are a good person; I am annoyed by how many taxes come out. What do you like least about working?

When I first started, I really liked when nice kids would talk to me and ask me questions and act like I was a celebrity, but most of the time people are not very nice to the lifeguards because we are always the ones yelling at them. That is my least favorite part. There have been multiple times when, after I tell the parent and kid the rule, the parent will turn to their kid and say something like “The lifeguard is here to stop us from having fun again; let’s just go.” They probably just say it so that I will apologize or something but I never do because I’m not sorry that they are not allowed to do dangerous things at the pool. When people don’t listen, I hate it.

Last year, you helped me answer a question at Ask a Manager from someone whose boss had clogged up the toilet and then asked him to plunge it, even though he was in a professional job that wasn’t supposed to involve plunging toilets. Your stance at the time was that the guy was being a prima donna and should go ahead and plunge it. Now that you have a job, has your opinion changed?

I agree with my past answer, but if I was the person, I might try to just get someone else do it by telling them that the boss needs somebody to do it. At my job, it is one of my jobs to plunge the toilet if needed and clean up poop from the floor and stuff like that. But, it isn’t too hard to get someone else to do it usually. If it is in the boy’s bathroom, you can get a boy to do it easily. If it is in the girl’s, it is a little harder, or if there are only girls working, but you can say that you were planning to go on your break right then or say that you have to guard the pool if it’s the right time, or say you are in the middle of something else. So far, I have never cleaned up poop, and hopefully I can keep it that way for the rest of time.

interview with a 16-year-old working her first summer job was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 11:24 am
I’ve done most of the easy preparation for the cleaning lady. We’ve got four bags and two bins in the living room that are filled with things we want to get rid of. I’d like to get them out of the living room, but I have no idea where to put them except in the basement which I think will lead them sitting for months.

I’m trying to decide if the dishwasher is full enough to run. We’re out of forks, but everything else is manageable. I’m just quite sure that, if I wait until after dinner, there will be too many dishes to fit.

We’re also frustratingly at the point of needing to cook in order to have something for dinner but also at the point when we’re close enough to leaving for a few days that we won’t finish all of the leftovers. But the chicken in the fridge won’t keep until we get back, so cooking it is pretty important. Maybe I should put that in the pressure cooker now. When that’s done, I’ll have enough dishes to fill the dishwasher.

I want to buy some StoryBundle books, but I know that I don’t read books if I buy them. I just don’t. But there are about three books in that bundle that I want, and buying them in paper would cost more than buying the entire bundle as ebooks.

I also want to give some money to the local food bank. I’m probably going to do it, not a lot but at least a little. I know that summer is really hard for families with kids because of the lack of school meals, and I know that the food bank can do a vast amount with even small monetary donations.

I didn’t end up going for a walk, and at this point, it’s warm enough that I probably won’t until after dark tonight.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 10:27 am
I wrote about 150 words last night. Naturally, I wrote them while I was supposed to be doing something else altogether. Still words, even words on the story I need to finish today. My current plan is to write this, post it, do all of the preparation for the cleaning lady coming, and then write for the rest of the day. I considered writing with breaks to do the chores, but I’m pretty sure that that would lead to me finding more and more things with which to distract myself. I might also take a walk this morning because it hasn’t (according to my phone) gotten hot yet. I’ve been wanting to go to the science center for several days now and just putting it off and putting it off, but that would take a fairly large bite out of my morning, so I don’t know.

I actually set an alarm to get myself out of bed at 7:00 with the idea that the extra time would let me take a walk while it was cool, but I was so tired when my alarm went off that I went right back to sleep because I knew that there was no reason I really had to get up. (Sleep last night wasn’t as bad as the night before, but it wasn’t as uninterrupted and restful as I’d have preferred.)

I’m getting a bit frustrated with Scott. He keeps saying that he needs to be in bed by 10:00, but he does nothing at all to make that happen. He doesn’t start making his lunch or getting ready for bed until 10:30, and often, that only happens because I start getting ready for bed or tell him that he must. I should not be responsible for getting him to bed. He’s fifty not five. When we’re in bed, generally the light on my side of the bed is on (his bedside lamp doesn’t, to the best of my knowledge, actually work, and the overhead light is harder to turn off than my lamp is). He stays up, dinking around on his laptop and watching YouTube videos, until I get around to turning the light off. He never asks me to do it.

I think that we may need to go to bed at different times. I don’t know. Maybe I should try to get up earlier in the morning so that going to bed earlier makes sense? But my most productive writing time is generally after 9:00 and runs as late as I’m able to stay up. If I write on my laptop or my phone in bed, the light keeps Scott awake, so that’s not a workable solution.

I have decided, however, that I’m going to start making Scott’s sandwiches. It takes all of three minutes (I’m not sure why it takes him fifteen most evenings). His lunches are a sandwich, a yogurt, and a bag of carrots. I can have that ready with almost no effort, especially if I make it part of my morning routine. There’s enough time while I wait for the kettle to boil for my coffee for me to make his sandwich and deal with the dirty dishes.

We had two friends over last night, and Scott tried to get a game of Microscope going. Sadly, that needs a good bit more time than we had, especially given that we were trying it for the first time and really had no idea what we were doing. It took us most of the time we had to get our frame set up. (It was during this time that I started writing, so I wasn’t as helpful as I maybe should have been.) Scott’s thinking that he’ll try to come up with some sort of silly role playing scenario that the four of us can play when [ profile] booniverse isn’t able to run but the rest of us want to do something.

We got our absentee ballots yesterday and filled them out and put them in the mailbox to go back in today’s mail. I considered taking them in myself, but I realized that I really don’t currently have the resources to do that. I need to husband my resources so that I can deal with all of the preparation for the trip. I’m pretty sure that we’ve got enough time for the USPS to get the ballots to city hall by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Thursday, July 28th, 2016 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

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

1. A terrible student worker asked me for a reference

I have received a reference request from another university for one of our former work studies. I had told this student that I was not hiring her back because she wasn’t reliable. She would cancel her shifts at the last minute, not making an effort to find a replacement. We had a list of duties that they are responsible to do during their working hours, and then they are free to work on school work. She wouldn’t do anything unless I told her to. She had good attendance the first year I had her, but wasn’t motivated and had to be reminded constantly. The last semester she worked, she was terrible.

She turned around and used me for a reference where the employer sends you a form asking you to fill out an online form. I have completely ignored both emails because I cannot give her a good reference. I’m stumped by the fact that she thought I would be a good reference, and I was never contacted by her asking to be a reference.

How do other supervisors handle reference checks for employees that you’ll never rehire, etc.? I’m in shock that she thought I would give her a good reference after the talk I gave her. Do students feel that as an university employee that she’s obligated to be given a good or marginal reference?

You have a few options: continue to ignore the reference requests (which sends its own kind of message, although it’s at least somewhat open to interpretation), fill out the reference request honestly (that’s certainly what the employer sending it is hoping you’ll do), or reach out to the past employee and explain to her that you’re not able to serve as a reference for her (and why) and suggest she find someone else.

At a minimum, I would do the last one because it’ll be useful for her to hear that her actions have consequences (and it’s a kindness to let her know not to try to use you as a reference in the future). I think there’s also real value in providing honest references, so that’s something to consider too — although with work-study jobs, it’s possible that the school doesn’t want you actually torpedoing students’ chances of finding work, so that may not be the right option here (in other contexts, though, that caution wouldn’t apply).

As for why people list references from jobs where they didn’t exactly shine … some of it — maybe most of it — is simple naivete. And some of it is obliviousness, in that they don’t realize just how crappy their performance was. (In fact, one question to ask yourself is how direct you were with her about your concerns with her work. Did you tell her clearly and directly that you had serious problems with her work? If not, she may not even realize it.)

2. My coworkers send social texts throughout the night

My boss and coworkers send large, ongoing group texts several nights a week. Often, it starts with an innocuous update like “I’ll be late tomorrow because of X, thanks for your support!” but it keeps going for hours. The constant updates are driving me crazy, because I expect that if I get a text from my boss or coworkers, it’s about something urgent, and everything else can wait until the morning. Often boss and coworkers are texting each other back and forth on this group text until 10 p.m. (when my husband and I are in bed!), and I don’t know how to respond to it. I usually send one text back to let them know I received the message and then completely ignore the rest of them, but honestly I’d prefer not to answer at all unless it’s an emergency. By the time these texts start, I’ve already driven my commute, decompressed from work, and am trying to detach from the day, and these texts do not help with that process!

How should I handle this? I don’t want to come across as a party-pooper or non-social (I’ve very social during work hours with my coworkers when time allows for it), but is there a nice way to say “sorry guys, I appreciate the sentiments but I just saw you all day and I need a break”?

Some phones will let you mute the whole conversation; I’d make that your go-to strategy if your phone has that functionality. But you could also say, “Hey, I’m finding that getting texts throughout the evening is making it hard to disconnect from work and some are coming in after I’m already in bed. Can we try to pull back on them, or at least not send them to the whole group?” The fact that you’re very social during the day means you don’t have to worry as much about this coming across as chilly (not that it should regardless, but in reality it otherwise could).

3. Religious headscarfs in job interviews

I cover my hair for religious reasons, either with a scarf or a hat, usually coordinated with my outfit. I began doing this after I got married and was already employed. Now I’m job hunting, and this will be my first time interviewing with a headcovering. Should I wear a headscarf, since that looks more overtly religious? Should it be black, or can it be another color or a pattern? I know the goal of getting dressed for interviews is to not stand out, but it feels kind of unavoidable. I don’t need to address it with the interviewer, right?

You definitely don’t need to address it with the interviewer, and I don’t think you need to change the type of scarfs you’re wearing to black or other neutrals if you don’t want to. (The photo you sent me along in this email had one that was brightly colored but looked great.)

I’d stick with scarfs over hats, though, as people are more likely to recognize them as a religious head covering (whereas a hat may appear to just be a fashion choice, which normally wouldn’t be a thing you’d do for an interview).

4. Interviewing right after dental surgery

Thanks to your amazing advice, I have two in-person interviews this week. Yay! Unfortunately, I had periodontal surgery late last week. As a result, I have black stitches in my gums, and when I smile, it looks like I have spinach in my teeth. I also am talking a little weirdly, and my cheek is slightly swollen and looks bruised.

I asked my friend and my mom for their honest assessment – are the stitches noticeable? They confirmed that it looks like I have spinach or kale in my teeth.

There’s no way that I can change my interview dates, so I’m wondering if I should say something to my interviewers? If so, what should I say? I don’t want them to think I’m a mess!

Yes! Just say “I’m so sorry, I just had dental surgery and there are some unpleasant-looking black stitches in my gums right now. Terrible timing!” They’ll understand, and that will much better than letting them just wonder what on earth is going on in your mouth.

5. We’re required to submit time sheets before the end of the pay period

My current workplace has really odd practices around submitting time sheets, and I don’t think they are legal.

I am required to submit my timesheet at noon every Thursday for the pay period ending on the following Sunday. Part of my work requires me to respond to state governments during their legislative sessions—this means my schedule can be all over the place, no matter how well I plan or manage my time. To correct the timesheet, I have to submit a revised timesheet the following Monday at 9 a.m. This spring, I had to do this almost every week.

After submitting corrections every week for several weeks, my HR director told me I could just add the additional hours worked to the time sheet for the following pay period. Obviously this has impact on overtime pay.

This week, I was informed by my direct supervisor that the HR director had him correct my timesheet for the previous week because I recored arriving at 9 a.m. on two days that I actually arrived at 9:30 a.m. I recorded my time this way so I could add hours I worked the previous week without saying I worked so many hours in any one day that I had to clock out for a second lunch. Is any of this actually legal?

They can have you do your time sheets however they want (including having you submit revisions a few days later or even making you submit it at precisely 1:02 a.m. every Wednesday) as long as your actual pay for that pay period reflects the number of hours you worked in that pay period, including any overtime. That’s the part that the law cares about.

That means that they cannot have you move hours to the next pay period if they results in your check for this pay period being lower. (This all assumes that you’re non-exempt. If you’re exempt, paying you overtime is optional and thus they can do it however they want.)

a terrible student worker asked me for a reference, coworkers send social texts throughout the night, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 03:43 pm
We have transferred two of our three websites. The big one is going to take more doing because the interface wants us to upload a single file at a time. That was annoying with the small sites but will be beyond bearing for the photo site. I haven’t checked my website yet to make sure that I didn’t miss any of my pages. There are easily a hundred of them, and going through to load them one at a time made missing one far too easy. It was about 10:30 when I got them all uploaded, and I didn’t want to face finding problems that close to bedtime. I have no excuse for not having done it yet today.

I slept poorly last night. I was too warm, and my brain kept churning on a story idea. Not, of course, any of the stories that I’ve been working on recently. Also, the stuff going through my head was OOC and not particularly coherent because I was partly asleep. I don’t expect that, even if I write that story, I will use any of it.

When I woke up around 9:00 this morning, I was completely convinced that there was some reason I was required to stay in bed and not allowed to get up until 10:00. Fortunately, I woke enough to realize that that was ridiculous. I certainly could have stayed in bed that late, but there was no reason I had to.

I have put in a request to have our mail held for three days while we’re away.

Firefox didn’t interact well with the USPS website either, so I’m thinking there’s some sort of issue with the most recent version of Firefox that’s breaking how it interacts with some sort of standard things. The city clerk’s office website could just be that not being up to date on some aspect of Firefox, but the USPS and Google are the sort of things that a web browser ought to be able to work with because the folks putting together the browser are paying attention and making sure of it. I did try to troubleshoot Firefox printing problems yesterday, but following the instructions from Mozilla only crashed Firefox which I rather think not the optimum thing.

I’ve got a longish list of things that I really ought to do, but I can’t seem to find the motivation to do any of them. There’s the website, printing directions for the trip, writing (oh, goodness, the writing!), packing for the trip, changing our internet service (I got almost through doing that online then panicked and closed the window. I think Scott will have to do it), finding boxes in which to mail a few different things and packing those things up, answering some email, and dealing with all of the normal household chores.

I also need to pin Scott down about food plans for our trip. I’m of the opinion that taking lunches with us when we venture into Chicago might be worthwhile in terms of saving us money. Yes, it would mean having to carry the dratted things all morning, but I expect that buying lunch out would run at least $10 each. At least. Of course, I’m also expecting that I’ll be wanting to carry other things with me so that I don’t get horribly bored if I need to sit somewhere for two or three hours, waiting for Scott and Cordelia to do something without me.

I’ve eaten. I’ve showered. I’ve washed a load of laundry. I don’t think I’ve accomplished anything else, and I’m not sure how to get myself to.
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 05:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I have been at my job for 2.5 years. A member of my team recently quit, and my manager asked me to participate in the hiring process to replace her. Since then, she has said a few things that I perceive as hurtful and insulting towards me and my job.

During the first round of interviews, she talked to me about the difficulties about the hiring process. She told me about the round in which I was hired and said there was an excellent candidate who interviewed extremely well. She opted not to hire him because “he was so great he would have been gone in six months.” She has repeated this story to me about 10 times since then. The implication is that I only got the job because the other guy was too good.

When an interview goes well, she tells me the candidate has career aspirations and won’t stick around for very long. She recently decided to hire a candidate we both liked and warned me, “She’s so good that she won’t be here very long.”

She frequently tells me that my position is entry-level and it takes a “special person” to sit there “doing the same thing” day in and day out and, as a result, most people don’t want to do it for very long.

My manager has always been on the blunt side. It’s a trait I value because I never have to worry about where I stand with her. She’s actually quite supportive in a lot of other areas and I have learned a lot from her, but these comments are negatively impacting me. My morale is extremely low. I feel ashamed of the work I do and the fact that I have been with the agency as long as I have. Is it a good idea to speak to her about this issue or should I continue to let it slide? Am I being too sensitive?

I don’t think you’re being too sensitive! Your manager is being pretty thoughtless here.

I don’t know what kind of work you do, but it’s true that there are some types of jobs that it’s hard to keep good people in — often because the work is pretty rote or repetitive and after a while it stops being a challenge, which is when many people will itch to move on to something else. But that doesn’t mean that no good people stay in those jobs; there are plenty of talented people who derive real satisfaction from that type of work or who have other reasons for liking it (for example, preferring a job that allows them to put more energy into their lives outside of work).

Since you otherwise like your manager and have a good relationship with her, I think you should talk to her about how these comments are coming across to you. I’d say it this way: “I’ve found getting a window into the hiring process really interesting, so thank you for sharing your thoughts on candidates with me. But I wanted to ask about something. You’ve mentioned a few candidates being too good to stick around very long, which of course makes me wonder about what that means about me! I’ve been here a couple of years and I enjoy my work, so it’s jarring to hear you say that good candidates won’t stay. Can you tell me more about what you mean when you say that?”

This might prompt her to clarify that she actually meant something totally inoffensive. For example, she might have been using “too good” to mean overqualified (like having a masters degree in rice sculptures when the job only requires basic level knowledge of rice sculpting, or having five years experience in rice sculpting when the job doesn’t require any). Or she might tell you that you’re unusual in being good at the job without wanting to quickly move into a different role and that she’s thrilled to have you. Or, yes, it might prompt her to say something even more insulting than she already has … but even if that happens, you’ll come out of the conversation with more insight, which is good.

So ask. The great thing about people who are both blunt and supportive is that you can usually ask most of what you’re wondering about and not get the run-around. (They might actually be my favorite kind.)

my manager says that most people are too good to stay in my job for long was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 12:55 pm


…well I didn’t feel like I did anything, but I guess I did

Not pictured: also put away the clean dishes in the dishwasher

(I even cleaned out some stuff from the fridge, like moldy jello and tomato soup leftover from when I had my wisdom teeth out… Two months ago. Hoo boy.)

Unfucking my mental illness hovel one room at a time

Next: fold two loads of laundry