updates: my boss wants me to help him jump the line for the Covid vaccine, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, where all month I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. My boss wants me to help him jump the line for the Covid vaccine

The day after my letter was published, my boss again asked me to make the calls but once I told him I was uncomfortable doing so, he gave the assignment to someone else. Things died down for a little bit after that. However, about a month or so later, my company planned a company trip to the Bahamas which the CEO was attending. The day before he left, the requests started coming again. This time around, I didn’t call but let my boss know that there weren’t any appointments (per the websites of the places he was having me check with). He was annoyed but didn’t force me to keep pushing like he had before.

The requests finally stopped once the CEO was able to get a vaccine driving 3 hours to and from. I was relieved to hear it!

So over all, things resolved themselves but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

2. I want to quit … but if I leave, my project will die (first update here)

THE BAD NEWS: Lorna ended up not paying out my last two invoices (as I expected) and no one at the company will respond to my requests for information. I’ve tried calling and was hung up on before my number was apparently blocked. Luckily, I’ll be stateside this summer and can take more direct action from there.

THE GOOD NEWS: I took the plunge, started freelancing, and saw pretty immediate results! I also got a great new job at a much more organized institution where so far no one’s gaslit me, lied to me, insulted me, or questioned whether I had the intellectual capacity necessary to come inside when it starts raining. I now have job security and get to do work I enjoy! Between that and the freelancing, I’m making nearly as much money as I was under Lorna–except I actually get to collect it! I’m also satisfied and happy.

Thanks again to you and your readers for your support and advice!

3. My boss read my Skype conversations

I was the letter writer who wrote in a long time ago about my boss reading my IMs to another manager in the company and how mortified I was about it, especially being in HR. You told me to let the issue go after my initial apology, but I ended up reiterating to my boss that it would never happen again. I think she saw how horrified I was about it and never brought it up again. I am happy to say that I am still at the same company and have received a couple of promotions since that time. My boss is the greatest and I don’t plan on moving companies any time soon. I learned my lesson and keep all work communication as neutral and professional as possible. Thank you for all the advice that you share, it’s helped me in my early career more than I can say!

4. My boss lectured me about arriving on time – when I’m working a ton of hours (first update here)

You answered my letter about my boss 2 years ago – wow how time flies! I have one last update after catching up with one of my old project managers.

After re-reading my initial email and update, I should offer some background information:
1) My start time had been 9 am (agreed upon by the boss), so from my point of view I was coming in 30 minutes late. I had been working without breaks (I ordered in or brought lunch and dinner) until bare minimum 7:30 pm, but more often the 9:30 pm time for about 2 months with no end in sight. The night before this email I had been there until 11 pm, which only added fuel to the fire.
2) Members in my group really did have flexible start times. Some came in at 7 am, most came in 8-9 am, and one project manager came in at 11 am!
3) The projects I had been working on were for three different project managers in our group. Management was notorious for having poor communication about workloads, so each of them had a vague idea that I was busy but had no clue what my actual workload looked like.
4) I received comp time for the overtime I was working, but I couldn’t take it with all the work I had.

On to the last update on this! I recently was talking with one of my old project managers (Elizabeth) who I remained friends with and the infamous email came up. It turns out my suspicions were correct! The email was about me. The morning that this all happened, one of the PMs (Jane) wanted to call an impromptu project meeting at 8 am but I wasn’t in yet. She went to my boss (Collins) and asked why I wasn’t there. Instead of him answering that I typically came in at 9 am or that I had been working late, he decided to write the email instead. I also remembered that when I did come in, he greeted me with a fake joking “Nice of you to show up!” to which I had responded something about needing enough sleep with all the work I had been doing.

I caught up with Jane as soon as I got in but she didn’t say anything about this missed meeting, so I had no clue that was the reason behind the email. Once the email was sent out, I went to Elizabeth to ask if it had been about me and to essentially rant about the lack of communication between the project managers. Elizabeth went to Jane and Collins about the email where they confirmed the reason behind it, and she explained that I was working 10-12 hour days without breaks to finish all the work that only I could do with tight deadlines. She also was very clear that I was pissed about the email. Neither Collins nor Elizabeth ever mentioned this to me, nor did they apologize after learning all the facts.

I had tried to talk to Collins about it once, but he brushed it off and said something about just needing to reiterate corporate policy. Which, after my recent conversation with Elizabeth, is nonsense and indicative of his aversion to confrontation or admitting he’s wrong in general.

This email was the catalyst that pushed me to get my license and allowed me to get to my “dream” job a lot sooner than I had ever expected. In the end it worked out for the best, but it’s nice to have closure!