updates: my coworker told everyone we’re married (we’re not) 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 coworker told everyone we’re married … we’re not even dating

I didn’t expect my question would even be published, let alone receive so many supportive comments from the AAM community!

I only wish my bosses and coworkers could have been that understanding. About a month after the break room scene, I still felt like I was walking on eggshells to avoid my “husband” and I noticed the attitudes from my manager and coworkers changing for the worse. I ended up leaving for a similar job that pays better, and is just a healthier environment overall. I hate how we call everything and everyone “toxic” nowadays, but that truly was a toxic environment in retrospect, and the lack of support from management and HR was finally the big red flag that sent me packing.

Some of the commenters mentioned stalking and safety, because the man seemed a bit obsessed. While I’ve seen the guy a few times around town, there hasn’t been any interaction between us and I don’t think he or any of my former coworkers know where I work now. Nobody’s attempted to contact me, and I can breathe easier. I wish everyone at my old job well; I hope they can learn from this situation, and I thank everyone who commented for their encouragement.

2. I resent coworkers coming back from furlough (#2 at the link)

I had written to you about feeling bad that I resented my coworkers returning from furlough.

It has a happy ending. I got a promotion in recognition of the extra work i had done, my positive attitude (I hid my resentment well) and my value to the company.

When I wrote to you, I was in what I now recognize as a state of burnout. 2020 was tough year and towards the end of it I was wrongly jealous of my furloughed coworkers who got a long break and extra unemployment money. I know that their situation caused a lot of anxiety for them, but in my burnout I fell into some self-pity.

One commenter hit the nail on the head regarding a big piece of my resentment. Those on furlough continued to accrue vacation time so came back to lots of time that carried over into 2021 and additional time that had to be used by end of year. So I ended up working through the holidays while my recently returned coworkers had to take that time off or lose it.

But I’m in a better place now and enjoying my job and being able to spend time with these coworkers who are actually really cool people.

3. Applying to jobs at home while waiting to travel abroad for a different one (#5 at the link)

Unfortunately, due to the ever changing travel restrictions my flights to work abroad were cancelled then delayed then cancelled again, on top of changing visa requirements. The delay meant I had to withdraw from the position as I couldn’t afford to be indefinitely out of work and I needed to start a real job search (unfortunately the part-time work I’d hoped for did not materialise either). It was heartbreaking and I hated letting them down but it’s a messy situation all round.

I sent a few speculative emails to companies I wanted to work for (who are open to that sort of thing) and applied to two really great opportunities, again with companies I would be excited to work for. I had a good look at your cover letter advice and the examples you’ve shared, and completely reworked my approach to them.

I got a great response to one of my speculative emails and an offer for one of my applications! I had the first interview at the beginning of April, the second a week later, the offer the week after that and a start date the week after that. It was fast.

So here I am. Still in the country with an exciting new job in a great company and in my preferred industry!

Your advice has really been invaluable and not just with my cover letter; I feel like my whole approach to work and employment is healthier because of it.

4. Can I ask that an underperforming coworker not be placed on important work? (#4 at the link)

Some very unexpected good news: the co-worker, after more than 10 years of mediocre-to-poor performance and incredibly unprofessional behavior…changed.

She dropped her silent treatment, started engaging in group meetings with good suggestions and questions, improved her attitude towards customers, and started actually doing work to resolve cases.

I don’t know what precipitated this change — maybe her manager reached his breaking point the same time I did (I was very much returning problem to sender, and we were receiving external complaints) — or maybe working from home *really* agrees with her.

She’s been doing so much better that she received her first (small) promotion in years after 10 months of this new attitude and skill.

I hope the improvement sticks! It’s been such a relief.