Here are five updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. Boss called employee and pretended to be from Child Protective Services (#2 at the link)

While I insisted Wendy read your answer as well as the comments, I return with the underwhelming fact that Wendy let the entire incident slide with a nary a peep to anyone, saying she didn’t want to cause a fuss. She continued her job hunt and recently received a good offer.

But, ah, the universe is not so boring as that and I have more interesting news regarding said offer. The offer called Wendy’s workplace to get a reference (not from Winnifred) and Other Boss decided to take a look at her file… and stumbled upon the rather odd write-up involving gossiping over a bizarre prank.

Winnifred has been fired and hopefully the rest will all live happily ever after.

2. A consultant complains about our off-site meetings but doesn’t want to skip them

I took the advice to ask whether we could have him attend remotely in the future rather than travel for our meetings, and he was happy to take me up on that. I think I misread his interest in traveling and being part of the “team,” and it was better for everyone involved when we focused on the work he contributed as a contractor and stopped putting him in situations where he had to collaborate in person. Travel seemed to make his symptoms worse due to the likelihood of cross contamination. Thanks for your advice. in addition, comments from some of the AAM community really helped me understand his perspective.

3. Working with a traumatized volunteer

I wish I could say there was a happy ending to this tale; unfortunately, this is real life. Sansa quit in the middle of May. The trauma we detected and that we were told about turned out to be a mental breakdown induced by stress (she told us this herself). My purpose for writing in was to help in figuring out ways in working with her, and I pre-emptively mentioned my age and gender on the chance that her trauma was sexual in nature. Sorry if I ended up misleading any of the commenters in that regard.

On to the update. I passed on the suggestions of space, language and behaviour to my colleague (for which she thanks you all, by the way) and we tried giving her low-level tasks, also as some people suggested. We also let her go at her own pace and gave her permission to hit up our instruments since she could play the piano. It was… not that good. She’d forget Tuesday’s instructions on Wednesday and for a data-logging task, took a day and a half to complete what would have taken my colleague two hours at most. For my writing side, I asked her to write one article and proofread another, which after three days returned to me with the one with an incoherent flow of less than 500 words and the other with obvious errors overlooked. Our other team took her along as a facilitator for a regular musical ensemble training that we do, and returned, asking, “How are you supposed to facilitate anything when you don’t even speak?” We conferred, sighed, but decided to let her continue as she seemed happy and showed sparks of personality while she was with us. We could pick up after her between ourselves, and if work was her therapy, we could stand a bit of irritation if said therapy was working.

Then one day, she showed up around lunchtime, joined Colleague for lunch, then left after that, before calling Boss a couple of hours later. It’d transpired that she asked Boss for payment for her work, and when that was declined, left in a huff. She then revealed that she’d taken a freelance role… doing write-ups for an app in the Google Play Store. We thought that was the end of her, until she showed up a couple of days later, asked for work to do and left again an hour later – work untouched. She left for good in the middle of May when she showed up for the ensemble training, practiced with my colleagues, then announced she was quitting after that, heading for home just before the session started.

I hate to say this, but it was a relief to see the back of her. We tried to help her, but at the end of the day our angels couldn’t deal with her demons. Her general unreliability and entitlement also didn’t really do her that many favours. Ah well… In any case, thanks Alison for your advice. Also kudos to Middle Name Jane, SomePTSDChick, Specialk9, Heather and the general commentariat for your anecdotes, constructive criticism and wise words.

4. How do I get people to stop getting angry that my contract might not be renewed? (#4 at the link)

I am happy to say that on my last week, they renewed my contract for another month, and this week they renewed it until the end of the calendar year, and are putting together a job description to hire me into if a full time position with benefits becomes available. The people who know me are still grumbling that “if my department is bringing in lots of money they should be able to hire you as an employee” but at least they aren’t doing it loudly enough to attract random strangers anymore!

5. Explaining why I’m moving back to my old city after 10 months away (#5 at the link)

I wrote back in Sept. 2017 to ask about how to frame a job search less than a year after I’d started a new position. Complicating factors: I’d moved to a new city for a partner, we had decided to move back to my original city together, and I hated my current job. I just couldn’t figure out how to explain all of this to potential employers, and I was worried about being perceived as flakey.

You suggested that I was overcomplicating it and suggested a line —”Seattle’s a great city, but moving here showed me that I’m a Marylander through and through” — that was beautiful in its simplicity. It helped me clarify my narrative and taught me an important lesson about keeping things simple!

I used that line in my cover letters and in interviews, and I found that was more than enough explanation for my job search, no need to mention my partner or nightmare job at all.

It took a few months, but I’m happy to say that I found a great job and moved back to my original city. The framing you suggested made me feel totally confident during the interview. Thanks for your help!

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