updates: my boss is angry that I couldn’t work while I was sick with Covid, and more

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

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

1. My boss is angry that I couldn’t work while I was sick with Covid

A week after getting covid, I went back to work in person. I also went to the doctor and they told me I was feeling terrible because I hadn’t taken any time off. They write me a note and I told work that I would be working half days for the next two weeks. My boss didn’t like that. (I considered working half days a favor to him… I could have just said I needed 2 weeks off.) He said something insulting to me about it and I snapped. We argued and he essentially told me I was disloyal and that he would never screw me over the way I had screwed him over. He told me I was replaceable and that HR didn’t need me, so I told him I quit and to consider this my two weeks notice.

He didn’t believe that I was actually quitting until I sent a formal resignation to management the next day. After that, they called me and asked if there was anything that could be done to fix the situation. I told them I wanted an apology and to review my workload. I got the apology, but nothing changed with my workload.

I decided to wait until performance reviews because I thought (incorrectly) that since they had tried to promote me two levels last year and had only been approved for one level, they would try again this year. They didn’t. So I decided it was really time to move on and started looking casually at job postings.

Out of the blue, I was contacted by a headhunter a few weeks ago and I went ahead with the interview… as of this morning, I have accepted an offer with a company that has way more potential for growth and opportunities to move around. It’s also going to dramatically cut my workload. And I got a 25% raise! The manager is already talking about making me a supervisor after a few months. I’m still having anxiety about giving my notice and leaving my current company in a bind (guilt is a hell of a drug) but I’m working on it. My planned start date at the new job is the beginning of December.

I can’t thank you and your readers enough for the validation and advice. I felt so alone at that time and it was so helpful to have people tell me I wasn’t the crazy one.

Update to the update:

I gave my two weeks’ notice. They tried to keep me and get me a raise and promotion… my boss told them I’d consider $10k less per year than my new position. I felt pressured and told them I’d consider it. They asked me to send them my offer letter to grease the wheels.. I did, and they realized they couldn’t match it. They asked if I’d consider anything less but after steeling myself over the weekend, I told them no. Surprisingly, all the managers were very gracious and they asked me to stay on a few extra days to help with the transition. Additionally, they told me to call them if I ever wanted to come back, which was a surprise.

I think my direct boss was a bit upset that I didn’t take their counter – I have had no contact with him since I declined and he had cleaned out my desk when I went to turn in my computer today. That’s disappointing, but all in all, things went way better than I anticipated. Additionally, I am being paid out for 2 weeks of unused vacation, which was a concern. I start my new job tomorrow (with an office holiday party, no less) and am looking forward to it.

I am going to work on establishing healthier boundaries at this new place. I mentioned before that I am getting a 25% raise but it is actually 30%, plus quarterly bonuses and better benefits… and a boss that believes in work life balance and in cross training employees so people can take time off when needed. Thank you again to you and my fellow readers for all of the advice and support – I don’t think I would be here right now without you!

2. My coworker reeks of weed

I wrote in asking about how to handle a cube neighbor (let’s call her Sansa) who reeked of weed when I was pregnant and had a super-nose. I got a lot of great advice from you and the commenters, but I didn’t get a chance to implement it. I mentioned this in the comments, but between when I wrote in and when my letter was published, something happened. Sansa took a very long lunch and when she came back, 1) the smell was gone, and 2) she was not her normal cheery self. I’m not sure if someone said something to her, but the weed smell was never an issue again. I also didn’t mention this in my initial letter, but the first day I was hit with the smell was 4/20, so I also wonder if she was just working through her stash from the holiday.

I did mention the smell to another (trusted) cube neighbor (Arya) to see if it traveled. Arya said she didn’t notice it while at her desk, but it was very obvious when you walked by.

Fast forward a few months. Our company was going through a pretty turbulent time and Arya and I were joking around and saying that maybe Sansa had the right idea. Our manager (who is not Sansa’s manager) overheard. I was very nervous when I realized we had been overheard — I didn’t want Sansa to get in trouble — but luckily our manager simply cracked up and said she didn’t blame her.

Also, I got to know Sansa better over the next few months and she’s super sweet. I’m looking forward to seeing her when I get back from my maternity leave. I just hope she’s switched to edibles.

3. Coworker asks me for help “confidentially”

The short version is: she was fired. You were correct that she was asking for help for things she had long ago been expected to learn how to do. It seems she had no system for keeping notes and was incapable of using the (many) resources available to her to do her job.

For me, when I got the next email with the screaming CONFIDENTIAL subject line, I let her know I wasn’t comfortable keeping these requests for help from our manager (but warmly let her know I was still happy to help when needed). She promptly stopped asking for me help after that and then was let go just a few weeks later.

The twist, I suppose, is that I don’t think the basic inability to do her job was the actual reason she was let go. I work for a state institution and it took her yelling at and harassing a customer before she was fired.

4. How can I get out of helping with an office move? (#3 at the link)

First, I need to shout out all the state and municipal government employees in the comments. You guys completely understood the situation. Yes, it is an absolutely unreasonable ask of employees and any company or federal agency would have taken over the entire move and record retention process. But, state and local government absolutely do not have those resources. We had only enough money to pay movers to physically move our stuff from the old building to the new building. I did take your advice – I went in one more time for a very full day and finished a task people had been stressing over (it was not hard). I then stopped coming in until the move-in day. We all worked that morning to arrange the space, but it was done in just a few hours and we celebrated with pizza. I got a special shout out from the coworker who was in charge of coordinating the move for all my hard work, so all the better!

To answer some commenter questions – our state’s record retention policy requires us to keep either the physical paper copy of the record or we can make a microfiche (yes, microfiche) of the record and destroy the paper. We have a great website and we keep nearly everything we publish easily accessible on the website, but that does not count for the record retention law. In the 90’s, a big push was made to microfiche a ton of documents, but my office did not keep up with the microfiching (not enough money and they have been hoping the state would change the law to allow for electronic copies to count). The office space in our old building allowed us to simply store the paper records there (we had a very large space). The move to a smaller space forced us to send many hundreds of boxes of paper documents to long term storage. We still don’t have the money to microfiche and are still hoping the law will change. I am not in charge of any part of that process, so I get to keep my opinions about the decisions to myself!