When to Accommodate Co-Workers

when-to-accommodate-coworkersWhen should you accommodate coworkers to be a “team player” — and when should you hold your ground to avoid looking weak? Reader K wonders, particularly whether she should give up her window:

I have an office etiquette question. I’m a lawyer in the public sector and we were recently told that we’re going to have to double people up in offices to make room for new staff. Our offices were made to be doubles, they’re long and narrow, so the person in the back half of the office gets a window (prime seating) while the front half doesn’t. I currently have the window half and was told I am getting an officemate. The person moving in has been an attorney for 15 plus years, but I have seniority at our current office because I started first. She is not happy about sharing an office and is further frustrated because she’ll be getting the windowless half of the office. I’m a brand new attorney; should I offer to switch sides?

Interesting question.  I’m curious to see what the readers say, but here are my initial thoughts for why I’d be polite and welcoming to the new officemate, but would stay put near the window:

– She hasn’t asked you to switch, nor has she given any reasons why she might “need” the window.  Your new office-mate sounds delightful — how nice of her to tell you that she is “not happy” about sharing an office and that she’s frustrated that she gets the windowless half.  Instead of asking you outright to switch sides with her, she’s whining and hoping that you will pick up your entire office and move it away from the window.  I’d stay put.  There are valid reasons she could want the windowed side of the office — she suffers from seasonal affective disorder, she likes to have office plants, whatever.  She hasn’t said any of those — it sounds to me like she’s trying to push reader K around.

– Reader K doesn’t need to apologize for the fact that she has seniority even though she’s younger.  Reader K doesn’t say it in her email, but it sounds like the woman is also annoyed that even though she’s been a lawyer for longer, Reader K has seniority because she was hired first.  I can see how that would be a bummer for her.  But: the system is the system, and reader K should not feel like she needs to follow some other system because her new office mate is giving her attitude.  I’d also be worried in this instance of this older attorney starting to treat K like her assistant, even if they’re the same level.

That said, reader K, you don’t want to work in an unpleasant office.  So be nice.  Be welcoming!  Make a lunchdate!  But hold your ground.

What do you think, ladies?  Should reader K offer to give her new roomie the window?  Do you see the same power struggles-to-come that I do, or am I imagining things?

(Pictured: Windows, originally uploaded to Flickr by Martin Gommel.)



  1. Anonymous :

    Agree with Kat. Its not up to you to switch- if your boss comes in and tells you you need to move, then you do. This goes for pretty much everything. A coworker telling me or asking me to do something is not a boss. I will do it as a favor depending on what it is and if it doesn’t harm me in some way, but this wouldn’t be a one time favor and it would really affect you, so do not offer.

    • Totally agree with Kat. I had a similar situation, except it was male engineer with 25 years seniority. I had been working for about 1 1/2 years in total (I’m an engineer as well). He wasn’t a happy camper, and treated me like his personal assistant or admin assistant most days. My boss was adamant that I not switch desks though as I had been at the company for longer and he didn’t want me to go through the hassle of moving desks. It was awkward at first, but luckily me for the older male engineer quit within 6 months. Sometimes things have a weird way of working out :)

  2. Agreed. I would not move unless told by a boss to do so, but I would try and be nice otherwise.

    Early threadjack: My loving husband of almost ten years (which just seems crazy!) was just diagnosed with Celiac’s. I have spend the last several days pouring over whatever resources I can find online and trying to educate myself about what this means for him and for us. Does anyone have any websites that they recommend that go beyond just superficial information? Any practical tips? Great books? Any thoughts on how I can be the most supportive?

    • saacnmama :

      So sorry!

      I’ll check back later to see if you’ve gotten good responses. If not, I’ll ask my sister, who got this diagnosis a couple years ago. She doesn’t really bother with the special gluten free products anymore–instead of noodles, she’ll just make rice, and other similar switches. Be supercareful in restaurants! There are so many people going gluten free just because it’s a fad that the people with actual medical needs aren’t always taken seriously, so call ahead, cruise the website, talk to the chef, etc.

      Good luck!

      • GlutenBugs :

        Second all of this. I only have an allergy to wheat, gluten and yeast — not Celiac’s — but I have found that focusing on “Whole” foods rather than “Gluten Free Substitutes” is easiest, cheaper, and healthiest. I also always tell the waiter at a restaurant that I have an allergy not just following a diet. Finally, I know that lots of people cannot stand her, but I have found Elisabeth Hassleback’s book about living g-free to be more helpful than any other.

        As for being supportive, try to just make this a way of living and not a big deal. I have transferred my spouse over to essentially eating gluten free because it is easier for us to only have one meal. I always shed a small internal tear when staring at the steaming sour dough bread rolls on the table if we dine out — sometimes its nice to have them at the other end of the table or not there at all. Then, for special holidays, plan ahead so that if others are enjoying traditional treats be sure to have something for him (if he likes that type of thing).

        My go-to food for G-Free Alternatives: Risotto, Polenta, Essential Bakery G-Free Bread is hands down the least oily and most bread-like, Chex cereal.

    • Look at Valerie’s blog – citylifeeats. She has an allergy to gluten (and other things) and is a great resource (I’m not her, btw, and I don’t know her personally – I just read her blog from time to time).

    • Honeycrisp :

      The G Free Diet by Elizabeth Hasselbeck is actually a surprisingly decent book. I read it when I was getting tested for Celiac about 2 years ago (blood test came back negative).

      Also, if you are looking for a good restaurant, P.F. Chang’s has an great gluten-free menu and excellent gluten-free protocol (the chefs are trained to avoid cross-contamination with gluten and the gluten-free items are served on different plates that items with gluten never touch).

      Good luck!

    • Coach Laura :

      Betty – best “how-to” website primer – www [dot] glutenfreegirl [dot] com or glutenfreegoddess’s blog -use google for address. Both have clearly marked “start here if you’re new to gluten free” sections.

      Gluten-free crock pot site try Stephanie O’Day’s “A Year of Slow Cooking” crockpot365 [dot] blogspot [dot] com for family-friendly, fast meals. She also wrote two books.

      For label reading, Kraft, Hormel, Unilever, McCormick’s, Heinz, Newman’s Own all will not “hide” gluten on a label, so if the allergies warning in the ingredients list doesn’t say “wheat” it will be safe.

      For practical tips, eat mostly “real” whole food for a while – plain chicken, beef, pork, seafood, eggs, milk, whole unprocessed veggies, fruits, potatoes, sweet potatoes, white or brown rice – all cooked at home. For breakfast, eggs, hormel bacon, plain yogurt (Yoplait labels GF now – check each flavor, Chiobani is GF but check label), fruit. Lunch – salad with vinegar and oil, leftover meat from dinner on top, cut up veggies, apple or fruit plus Fritos or Ruffles or plain Doritos (read label). Dinner – Roasted meat, roasted or steamed veggies, homemade plain rice or baked or mashed potatoes. Snacks – LARA Bars, KIND bars, Dove dark chocolate, Snickers bars.

      If you have a Whole Foods, try to go at a quite, not busy time and ask if someone can take you through the store to see the GF options. Trader Joe’s is good and each store has a list that you can get from Customer Service.

      If you’re in Seattle, give me your email and we can meet for coffee and I’ll give you tips. You can do this!

    • I use glutenfreetravelsite (dot) com for finding restaurants that have gluten free menus. Eating out/traveling are probably not high on your list of concerns right after the diagnosis, but I find this comes in really handy! There are reviews for cities all over the US and globally, so chamces are there will be info for your city!

      • Ooh, thanks for that link. Handy!

        It’s actually not the gluten in wheat that bothers me, it’s the fructans; but having clearly identified gluten-free options is really helpful to me, too.

        Now if only an onion-free diet would become popular, I’ll be all set.

        • Coach Laura :

          Parfait, the Gluten Free Goddess’s blog (that I mentioned up-thread) is onion-free (mostly) as she can’t eat onions, garlic and a few other things besides wheat.

    • try these books :

      Breaking the Vicious Cycle (SCD Diet) by Elaine Gottschall, and Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS Diet) by Natasha Campbell-McBride. Breaking the Vicious Cycle is really short; GAPS is significantly longer and I am still in the early chapters. The books are focused on different symptoms, but kind of have the same philosophy.

    • Gluten Free Girl (google her) has great recipes.

    • Anonymous :

      Thanks for asking this. I was just put on a gluten-free diet on Monday by my doctor. I have IBS-C and everything else I have tried, other than heavy-duty drugs, has not worked. He feels like going gluten-free is worth trying to improve my symptoms. I do feel weird because going GF is so “trendy” now, and I was pretty scornful of the trend for awhile…famous last words :( But the constant discomfort is hard to live with, so if this works, I’m all for it. I appreciate seeing any ideas/suggestions people have for gluten-free meals and coping with things like business dinners, office luncheons, etc.

      • I also have IBS-C, (well, actually IBS-A but it’s usually C) and while I’m not completely gluten free (like, I don’t worry about cross-contamination) I fnd that avoiding wheat makes a huge difference in my symptoms. Good luck to you!

    • I highly recommend that you read the book “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and check out the website www.whole9life.com. The eating program is mostly along the paleo line, but it is gluten free and gives great easy tips on how to cut out gluten.

    • I was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant three years ago, and it’s a steep learning curve, but you can do it! I agree with the whole-foods advice of other commentators, and being very cognizant of cross-contamination. In your kitchen, be very aware of where bread crumbs, etc. are going (or just banish gluten from your entire home).

      I’d recommend the Everything Guide to Living Gluten-Free: I wish I’d read it when I was newly diagnosed. http://www.amazon.com/The-Everything-Guide-Living-Gluten-Free/dp/1440551847/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1365782644&sr=8-2&keywords=the+everything+gluten-free

    • Thank you thank you thank you for all of your suggestions! We are starting to absorb all of the information, and I have a long reading list for this weekend.

    • I’m celiac too, diagnosed 4 years ago. You have had a lot of resources given to you already by others here. I would also visit celiaccentral.org (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness).

      Practical tips – try to find a gluten free store or bakery in your area. I mean a dedicated store or bakery where everything is gluten free. The people who work at these are incredibly helpful. Realize that if you eliminate processed foods from your diet, it’s pretty easy to be gluten free. Finding places to eat can be tricky depending on where you live – try to come up with a few places you know are safe (check findmeglutenfree.com and read reviews) for those times you don’t want to eat at home and are desperately hungry. Keep a snack for him in your purse (Larabar, Kind bar, etc) when you’re out running errands – it sucks to be out and about longer than you expect and not be able to find anything to eat. Nobody likes a hangry husband ;-) While it’s very important to make the switch to GF, don’t expect that you can do it overnight. What I did was I stopped buying anything with gluten, and I ate some of the gluten foods I had at home over a week or so before soon all my food was gluten-free. If you don’t also go gluten free too – be careful of cross contamination in your house. It’s going to be an issue.

      How to be supportive – read enough so that you can understand how serious it is. Nothing worse than someone who constantly questions how just one crumb could make me get so sick. Try going gluten free with him for the first month or two – it’s going to be hard but together it’ll be easier, and honestly there are so many symptoms that it’s possible you have a gluten intolerance too but don’t even know it. But most importantly – it’ll be easier for him to make the switch, and you’ll have a better understanding of what he’s going through. My sister went GF w/ my nephew when his Dr advised going GF for a month – turns out they both felt so much better, as she said, she didn’t even realize her stomach had been bothering her, she’d just assumed it was normal until she went GF and felt so much better. Don’t criticize the flavor gluten free foods all the time, or call food with gluten “real food”, if you dislike something help find a better alternative.

      If you are beer drinkers, seek out GF beer ;-) Realize that there is a gluten free version of just about anything out there (although I have yet to find an amazing GF donut… but honestly, that’s probably a good thing!)

  3. I agree with this advice. There’s no reason to switch, esp. when the co-worker hasn’t even formally asked. She’s moving into the OP’s office. OP shouldn’t have to move her desk.

  4. OopsImPregnant :

    Sorry for the TJ, but I am in utter shock. Yesterday I went to the gynecologist and found out I’m 5 months pregnant. I have PCOS and I have been seeing an endocrinologist monthly since December for thyroid and pituitary issues. I took a test in January and it was negative, even though I’ve been pregnant since November. I am so embarrassed about not knowing. But I was on a medicine that caused nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, and the endo kept saying my symptoms were from that. And he said the exhaustion was from a vitamin D deficiency. I had really bad gas and constipation, so I thought the fluttering and “bloating” was from that. The ultrasound showed perfect organs and everything, but I’m having to get special genetic testing (the harmony test) since I’m so far along.

    I’ve drank in public several times. So either I act like I’m not some idiot who didn’t know she was pregnant (and instead chose to drink while pregnant) or I admit I had no idea. What do I say?

    Also, I’m terrified I’ve harmed my baby by not taking prenatals, taking that medicine the endo prescribed (bromocriptine, a category B drug) and by having an MRI with contrast at the end of my third trimester.

    And, lowest on my list of worries, but still there, I’m a first year associate at a mid-size firm. They recently changed maternity leave to cover attorneys for 3 months after they’ve been at the firm 30 days, which since I’m literally the only attorney this could apply to, I guess that means it was in anticipation of me getting pregnant and them wanting me to come back, which is good, but…what if they don’t want me back? ugh.

    Oh, and even better, H and I literally just went under contract on a new house that won’t be completed until right at my due date.

    But I can’t be upset because H and I have tried before and it didn’t happen. Every doctor I’ve seen said it’ll take fertility drugs, so I expected it to be at least 2 years. But we apparently were successful the same month I quit BCP. And I’m ridiculously thrilled.

    • OopsImPregnant :

      Grr, typo, MRI was at the end of the first trimester.

    • Congratulations!!! Try not to beat yourself up too much. As for drinking in public: you didn’t know. If people ask, say whatever makes you the most comfortable and try not to take any comments to heart. Trust me, people say stupid things to women who are pregnant, regardless of the circumstances. (I’m 5 months pregnant myself.) Talk with your doc about any risks, tests, etc., trust in his/her judgment and enjoy being pregnant!

    • Anonymous :

      And I’m ridiculously thrilled

      thats the most important part! Everything else will work itself out. the drinking in public doesn’t matter. there is split feelings on that anyway. Your work will want you back, and they have to take you back, so don’t worry about that. congratulations, good luck at the doctors, and just trust that itll all work out!

      • Yes, congratulations! And the rest will work out ok. The house and the job sound like difficulties, not insurmountable obstacles. About the alcohol and the vitamins, you didn’t do anything wrong because you didn’t know – the baby is probably fine, and you don’t sound stupid at all. You just sound like you have a lot going on. Again, congratulations!

    • Abby Lockhart :

      Congrats! Despite my moniker, I am not in medicine, so I have nothing to offer on that front. I can say my mother did none of those things and drank during pregnancy and I turned out fine.

      As for the public drinking, I would not address it at all unless someone says something to you. If someone you are not close to says something, it is inappropriate, and I would just stare blankly at them. Seriously, it would be so inappropriate. If someone close to you mentions it, and hopefully it would be politely and out of concern, I would probably admit that this one just got by you because you had a negative test in January, but the good news is the test was wrong and the baby appears healthy.

      As for the firm not wanting you back, that seems unlikely, given that they’ve just taken this new, more accommodating position toward maternity leave. Regardless, there are some legal protections for you if their reason for releasing you is that you were pregnant. (Or because you were pregnant and didn’t know about it.) Cross that bridge if you come to it. You have other, more important things to worry about now that you can do something about.

      And as for the house, look at it as a blessing that you’ll have a new space at just the right time and use the pregnancy as an excuse for putting extra pressure on everyone to finish on time.

      Good luck!

    • What wonderful news!

      I can’t imagine anyone paying close enough attention to your drinking that notice the timeline. And to ask you about it would be incredibly rude. So I wouldn’t stress about it.

      As for the health concerns, many healthy babies have been born is less than pristine circumstances. Try to relax – that’s probably the best thing you can do for him or her at that stage. Babies are tougher than they look.

      And really – congratulations!

    • Anonymous :

      If anyone says anything REALLY awful about the drinking you can say what my French friend said (they are much less stringent about it there apparently): The men who put a man on the moon? Their mothers’ drank and they turned out just fine!

      (You could probably substitute “people” for men and change the rest to suit yourself: served on the supreme court, cured polio, eradicated smallpox, wrote the constitution, built the Empire State Building.)

      • Anonymous :

        their mothers also didn’t take prenatal pills, smoked, and would have gobbled up all the unpasteurized brie they could find.

        Sometimes I think 99.99% of pregnancy “advice” is half CYA and half hocus-pocus.

        • We are all assuming that the “drinking in public” was a few glasses of wine or standard happy hour consumption, not frequent binges to the point of throwing up and passing out and putting yourself in danger. I hope that’s right!

          • OopsImPregnant :

            hehe, no throwing up. I did have a lot of nausea from the medicine, which meant I often was unable to finish even 1 glass of wine. I did have a Sangria Friday and a French martini Saturday, which scare me, but I really don’t think I drank often. Unf0rtunately, on the 5 or 6 times I did, it was at social events, so people saw.

          • saacnmama :

            “People” will have so many things to say about so many things they see & think you are doing wrong once the kiddo is here that you will be forced to learn to discount others’ unsolicited opinions, no matter how forcefully they “offer” them. Important thing is that the baby is growing well and you and hubby looking forward to parenting.

    • Accidental Pregnancy :

      Hey there,
      I was also shocked to find out I was pregnant, although I found out much, much sooner than you. Still, that hasn’t stopped me from worrying about drinking and using category B drugs before I knew I was pregnant. Also, even after I found out I was preg, I have been terrible about taking prenatals. I know others may disagree but if you eat a balanced diet, you’re likely just fine. (this is what I tell myself anyway). Also, the research on alcohol is out there for you to read but my takeaway is that while you shouldn’t probably drink if you want to be really safe, the research showing its bad links binge drinking to birth defects. So if you were having a few social drinks here and there, try not to worry to much.

      That said, these are all things I tell myself, and I”m still stressing. I’m getting my 20 week ultrasound in a few weeks and I can’t wait to make sure everything in there is developing properly.

      like someone else said, the most important thing is that you are thrilled and that everything indicates a healthy baby. I know its so hard not to worry, but try to celebrate too!

    • Not qualified to comment on anything related to your pregnancy, but congratulations!

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I’ve posted about this before but I have a friend who also didn’t know she was pregnant until mid-second trimester. She drank lots of wine not knowing and didn’t take vitamins. Her now toddler is fine! She is also the tiniest person I know and didn’t show the whole time. She normally doesn’t get a period so nothing was amiss there. She never felt sick. The only thing she had was back pain for which she was prescribed PT and an ergo arrangement at work. She only got diagnosed because her work requires her to get some yearly medical test and some of her blood work came back strange. They did further testing to make sure she hadn’t picked up an infectious disease (why her work requires the yearly test) and it turned out she was pregnant!

      How did your doc tell you? Hers just called her up! He was like “good, news, got your blood work back. You don’t have an infectious disease. But, you might want to know, you are pregnant!” She was in the grocery store and dropped the jar of pickles she was holding.

      • LackingLuster :

        LOL that it was pickles.

      • Anonymous :

        I had to go in for an ultrasound because the doctors thought I had an estrogen producing tumor. The ultrasound tech started inserting the vaginal ultrasound wand and said, oops, I think there’s a baby in there. I thought h was going to pass out. He was there since we were expecting to be told I needed a hysterectomy. It could not have been more opposite, lol.

        • “Oops, I think there’s a baby in there”

          I am laughing SO hard at this. This is awesome. Congratulations!!!!

          • Anonymous :

            We did too…later, lol. After we saw every body part looked normal, lol. The ultrasound ended up lasting 45 minutes.

          • I imagine it being said in the same tone of voice that you would use if you just started to walk into an unlocked bathroom and realized it was occupied.

        • naijamodel :

          LMAO! This story made my morning. I really need that laugh, thank you :)

    • saacnmama :

      How excellent! Very nice that you’ll be settled in a new home by the time little one is no longer a little loaf lying there, waiting to be picked up and carried whereever.

      I agree with those who say that people are unlikely to comment on your drinking, and if they do, they are terribly inconsiderate oafs. I’d just pat my preggo belly and say “the doc says everything’s progressing just fine” or stroke baby’s cheek and say, in an I’m-changing-the-topic kind of way “isn’t he beautiful?”

      Best wishes on this exciting, busy time!

    • Yes, congratulation’s to you and your Husband! You are very lucky to be both MARRIED and haveing a baby! Just do NOT do any more drinkeing, and tell that to husband also!

      As for the THREAD, I think you have to do what the boss say’s with OFFICE SPACE. In my office, the manageing partner has the best place, but we all have to share a toilet (unless we are TO GO outside in the hall). And Frank is not shy when IT come’s to stinkeing up the toilet then walkeing away. So we have to suffer.

      I told the manageing partner to have Frank go in the hall, but he said if he did, the building manager would get angry. He is probabebly right! So we suffer.

      Mabye we will be moveing to new space, and the manageing partner said we will have seperete toilets for MEN and LADIES. This way, only the men will have to suffer, and I will have a semi-private toilet, other then Lynn and a few older ladie’s who do have to go to the toilet ocasionally.

      Also, if we moove, I will be abel to show my new office (with a window) to Myrna, who is on the 33rd floor downtown with a view of the HARBOR and LADY LIBERTY! YAY! Myrna and I will be visiteing Roberta in the Bronx this weekend to eat DELI! YAY!!!!!!

    • pregomama :

      First: congrats! Second: I just recently had the harmony test done– sure is crazy what they can do these days!! Fingers crossed for good results.

      Finally, regarding not knowing for 5 months, I worked with a woman who was abou t140 on a heavy day and 5’10. She found out she was pregnant at about 4.5 months- total shock. I didn’t ask her why she didn’t notice, but I know that at least with my current pregnancy, I felt sick for about a week and basically normal since then (I’m about 5 months now).

      My coworker just told a bunch of people that she had just found out, she had no idea, etc. Nobody thought “oh, well she’s a bad person because she was at happy hour with us last week!” She also had a positive attitude about it, telling us she had to eat healthy to “make up for lost time.”

      In your situation, I think the more honest you are, the less awkward you will feel– “i was being tested for all kinds of things, and it turns out my dx was baby! I feel really silly that I didn’t notice, but apparently i’ve been having an easy pregnancy so far- let’s hope it continues!”

    • OopsImPregnant :

      Thanks for the input, every9one. I really appreciate the honesty. Now, if can just get through all the blood tests and telling my law firm, maybe I can relax.

      • I also just found out I’m pregnant. When the dr. Called it was all “congratulations” and I suddenly felt so happy, so excited. Then I called my husband and he’s devastated. He wants me to terminate the pregnancy and says he can’t picture having a baby now, but maybe in a few years. We weren’t planning this and I’m terrible with babies but im 30, we have good jobs and a house in the suburbs and it seems right to me. Still, there’s no way I could do this without his support. I’m not sure anyone has any insight, but I’m feeling so terrible that any kind words would be appreciated.

        • TO Lawyer :

          Hi there – I would post this on a more recent thread (maybe the weekend open thread) to get some more comments. That said, I have no insight/actual pregnancy advice but it seems to me that this type of news would be really shocking – especially if you weren’t trying. Maybe your husband reacted the way he did because he was caught off guard?

          Maybe you can tell your husband that his reaction really hurt you but you know it’s a shock, so maybe he just needs time to absorb it?

          I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. Congratulations on your pregnancy in any event and I hope everything works out.

        • Judith Rosenberg :

          Congratulations on the pregnancy! And so sorry to hear of your husband’s reaction. Hopefully he was just reacting badly out of shock and will come around soon. If not, then try to get counseling, ideally together. Wishing you the best of luck.

    • Congrats – that’s great news! Re: not knowing until 5mths, it happened to one of my close friends as well. She didn’t know until 6mths and so maintained her regular lifestyle, which included sushi and the occasional drink. It was her first child, she didn’t show and had no symptoms (said she felt nauseous a few times, but thought it was b/c she was painting the inside of her house). As soon as she found out, she started on prenatal vitamins, regular check-ups, etc., That was almost 6yrs ago – her daughter today is happy, healthy and totally fine. None of us thought anything about her lifestyle – granted, it’s not extreme – we just took it at her word that she didn’t know. We were just very happy for her. Your true friends will know it’s not deliberate on your part to do anything to harm your baby. Take care!

    • Mary Ellen :

      Congratulations! Most of our mothers drank and many smoked with us. Don’t beat yourself up and start carrying care of yourself and the baby now!

    • Anonymous :

      I had a friend who didn’t find out she was pregnant until she was about as far along as you are. Her daughter is 14 and perfectly fine, and she drank alcohol, took meds, etc.

      I am sure you have either gotten an ultrasound or are getting one. The U/S should help alleviate a lot of your fears about your baby being normal.

      And, I have a great picture of my grandmother and my aunt sitting in lawn chairs, pregnant as all get-out, with martinis in one hand and cigarettes in the other. The babies they had turned out pretty well: one has a Ph.D. and is a leading environmental researcher. The other was a beloved school superintendent for 20 years.

      Congratulations and good luck. You will be fine and so will your baby. :)

    • My mom had X-RAYS while not knowing she was preggers with my little brother. He turned out to be the smartest of all of us. Keep calm and carry on. And congratulations!

  5. financialfashionista :

    I’m with Kat – Don’t switch.
    First of all, seniority is seniority. I also agree that this woman is just being whiny and passive instead of upfront, which IMO doesn’t reflect well on someone who has had a professional career for 15 years. I think the OP should be polite and welcoming, but stand her ground!

  6. I understand how people think the new office-mate is being unreasonable. However, I have shared offices in this exact situation before, and the generally accepted practice in that firm was that the senior person got the window seat, and the junior person got the door seat. That was just the way it was. I’ve visited other offices where that is the norm as well. I think you have to check with your boss re whether there is an expectation here, and if so, what that is. If there is no expectation, then you might still give up the window as a courtesy to the more senior person, but it would be up to you. One thing to think about is that your new office-mate, as a more senior lawyer, will likely have a lot more resource materials, precedents, etc., and should probably sit where it is easier for her to get at them. The other thing to keep in mind is that even if you have to move seats, it is not really that big a deal – it is one office and you will still get the benefit of the light.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      That’s crap. If she was assigned the window, she gets the window. If her boss says move, she moves, but otherwise, stay put. Seniority sometimes just means no one else will hire you….

      • I understand your viewpoint, but I don’t think it’s crap. I’ve seen this policy in action in multiple office-sharing environments. It could be that her boss implements it. If not, it is up to the OP, but there is more to think about than just who was there first.

    • The younger attorney seems to be the senior employee, as she was hired first. At least, that’s how I understood it.

    • saacnmama :

      What does “senior” mean? Who’s oldest, who’s been at the firm longest, or who got the degree first?

    • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

      But here, isn’t the OP the more senior person? Or are the unspoken rules referring to seniority in the field as a whole?

      • My experience with this was that “seniority” meant the more experienced person, not the person who had been with the company longer. In a law firm setting, this meant senior associate/junior associate, or partner/associate. In a non-law firm setting, this meant senior manager/junior manager. I’m not saying all companies are like this, it’s just what I’ve seen.

        • saacnmama :

          That sounds like my experience in academia, that the full prof has precedence over the associate. Then comes the assistant prof, the instructors, and TAs. But a 30 yr-old prof would outrank a 50-yr-old grad student/TA. I was thinking that was the situation here–older person has had the degree longer, but younger has “seniority” because she’s climbed more ranks.
          But I might be reading it wrong.

    • hellskitchen :

      I have seen that policy in some places but it’s usually when everyone is moving to a new office or something and then the senior person (by level) gets first dibs on their seat of choice. If someone is already in a seat, they should not be expected to move just because they hired a new person who is senior.

    • I am the youngest attorney in my firm, but I am the most senior in my division. I also have the nicest office, and no one has ever complained. It seems quite immature to ask someone else to move when you don’t outrank them. I would also have very little patience for the passive aggressive complaining.

  7. Question: How do you know when its time to have a serious conversation about starting a family?

    Answer: When your knee-jerk reaction to an anonymous ‘r*tte posting that she didn’t know she was pregnant is “I’m so jealous!”

    • OopsImPregnant :

      I’ve had many childhood friends announce in the past 5 months and I’ve been bitterly jealous every time. Even clicking like on facebook was hard. I’m just in shock. Especially since I went to the gyn yesterday because the gyn and end0 thought I had an estrogen producing tumor and would need a hysterectomy. Um, yeah, my tumor was a 20 week 5 day old fetus. We think. We actually have no idea when I conceived.

      • Upside? You didn’t spend your first trimester excited-yet-cautious, waiting for the twelve week mark to pass. So, there’s that :)

    • I thought the same thing. I am so so ready to start a family, and DH is coming around, but I want us to really be on the same page. It’s so hard when every where I turn, someone else is pregnant. We went to visit a friend in the hospital who just had a baby on Tuesday, and holding her new baby made me want my own terribly.

    • Q: How do you know when you don’t want to start a family even though DH recently said he’d be happy with an oops pregnancy and he’s confident we’ll be able to handle it well?

      A: When your period is a week late already and you’re getting pretty damn worried but feeling guilty/conflicted about not being ok with an oops prengancy and thinking well yeah, we would be able to handle an oops so maybe it will be ok, and then your period showed up this morning and you are so. freaking. relieved. even though you’re 32 and time is ticking away.

      • Wannabe Runner :

        Amen to this. Including that I’m 32.

        It seems like mixed feelings about getting pregnant are part of growing up.

        My dog is a scardey-dog. When she is out for a walk, she is always very interested in other dogs and people, until they come close, and she hides behind my legs.

        I’m like that and pregnancy. Somewhere deep in my heart I really want a baby, and I am jealous of everyon’s baby posts. But getting my period is still a relief.

        My DH and I talked about it, and we planned to start trying in the fall of 2014. That seems both really far away and really soon at the same time.

      • SoCalAtty :

        I’m with both of you, including the “I’m 32” part. I’m just too darn selfish right now to want to deal with taking care of a baby. Heck, I won’t even get a pet. Husband keeps telling me “life is not over after you have kids, your friends still go do things and they either take the baby with them or get a sitter.”

        He has 3 younger sisters (youngest is about 13 years younger) so he knows, but still…

    • Diana Barry :

      It is interesting to me that the readership of [this site] has appeared to age a bit/have life ‘milestones’ along with Kat – I feel like a while back there were more wedding questions and more recently there have been more baby questions.

  8. East Coast Anon :

    Don’t worry. You are not the first person to be surprised by a pregnancy. Some women don’t find out until they go into labor. See TLC’s I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.

    • anonymous :

      This show is my worst nightmare. Like one normal day I’ll head off to work like normal and come home and have to figure out how to be a single parent with a studio apartment.

      I’m still in the “My period showed up today, guys!!!!!!! PHEW!” stage of life.

      • Same. I tried to watch one episode, once, but it made me so nervous and uncomfortable and like I had to go to CVS and buy a pregnancy test IMMEDIATELY, even though I hadn’t thrown any garden parties recently.

      • I knew I was ready for kids when I stopped calling the first day of my period “Happy No Baby Day” and instead “Boo No Baby Day”.

    • OopsImPregnant :

      This show is exactly why I’m mortiried

      • Meg Murry :

        To be fair to the women on that show – I have a distant relative who went to the hospital because she was having stomach pains and thought it was appendicitis and came home having given birth to a 7 lb baby! Whats crazy is that she is a nurse and already had 2 kids. She was older, so she assumed she was going through menopause, and she only gained 5 lbs the whole pregnancy. So while the show seems crazy, apparently it happens to normal-ish people, not just crazy people.

        But congrats! And don’t be mortified – if you have been seeing 2 doctors monthly who didn’t know, its not your fault you didn’t know!

      • You tricked a test and a few doctors. And you haven’t been pregnant before (right?) Nothing to be embarrassed about. Also, I feel like that show only features stories where she didn’t know she was pregnant until labor.

  9. New People Who Keep to Themselves :

    We had some new people join where I work as a group within the last year. Our areas are related and I moved offices so as to be near them (rather than displace people who sat near me). Their head people are generally off-site, so the new junior people are largely standoffish and cliquey, even though we are supposed to work together. They won’t go to lunch, they don’t respond to e-mails (neither do the head people), and generally work with their office doors shut. In short, there’s no we in team. I don’t need them to work with me at all, but we service common clients. Keeping up a one-sided effort is now seeming forced. Can I just stop now? I think that we could have had a great team, but feel that since I have no personal or working relationship with them that I am uncomfortable recommending them to work or even bringing them to meetings or quasi-social client outings. Management treats us as one group, but I’ve never encountered this sort of cold shoulders before.

    • You should continue to be professional. And sometimes that means taking the high road.

      Vent to your friends or family. Work is not the place to stoop to someone else’s level.

      You’re a better team player than they are. Show that off.

    • I’ll offer advice on the less-high road and say to avoid putting these folks in situations where your credibility or goodwill is on the line, unless you have a sufficiently high level of confidence that they will ‘play ball’ and make the whole team, including you, look good.

      Some corporate groups are just ‘tribal’ – no need to keep banging your head against those doors.

  10. Divaliscious11 :

    Passive-aggressive doesn’t work for me. Either ask if you can switch or STFU with the whining.

  11. Seventh Sister :

    Be really nice, but don’t offer to switch sides. It sounds like she’s been told by a higher up that she’s going to get the windowless side, and wants to try and work around it by getting you to switch. Depending on your office dynamics, you might say something to your boss like , “Hey, I know A is not thrilled about getting the windowless side, so I will make sure not to eat burned popcorn or blast Katy Perry when she moves in.”

    That said, if you are offsite/on vacation/etc. after she moves in, you might offer to let her use your desk when you are out of the office. I used to sit at a terminal that was high-traffic and high-noise, and was grateful that other people were happy to let me use their private offices when they were away (we were all lawyers, but I was the most junior).

    • Burned Before :

      No – don’t let her sit there temporarily. I did that once and never got my desk back because the officemate had every excuse why it wasn’t convenient to move her stuff at that moment.

      • This. Offering her the space temporarily is asking for trouble IMO. It rewards her passive aggressive non-direct approach.

  12. Andrea Klos :

    I agree with Kat. Keep your side of the office. You’re there now, and why should you move? Think about it from her perspective – would you expect someone to give up their window for you? She sounds pretty terrible – making you feel uncomfortable about the whole thing, even though it’s out of your hands.

    I hate to say this, but I doubt a man would ask this question, or even think about the possibility of giving up his seat to an older man who’s been there less time.

    • TO Lawyer :

      I agree with the last sentence. I understand your impulse to want to be nice and change sides, but if you don’t have to, don’t feel like you have to, just because she’s being passive-aggressive about this.

    • I couldn’t agree with your last sentence more. The truth of it hit me pretty hard in the face in a very good way.

  13. Why should you move ALL YOUR CRAP so that someone under your firm’s food chain can “have the window seat?” Who gets the window seat is a fight young siblings have on the plane flight to grandma’s house. I’ve never heard anything more petty. I wouldn’t ask someone UNDER me to move so I could be near the window. If she asks tell her you’re too busy doing your job.

    • saacnmama :

      Might be petty to you, but for some of us, light from the outdoors can make a huge difference. I don’t know if it’s because it’s full spectrum or what, but not having it makes me feel totally cramped and unproductive. Florescent lights give me a headache, but even regular lightbulbs “feel” worse to me than light from outside (yes, even on a cloudy day). If it doesn’t bother you, great, there’s an easy resolution next time you & someone else are deciding who gets what desk.

      • There’s an easy way to fix that–buy a full spectrum desk lamp. I got one and it makes my life much better.

      • If that’s the case, New Arrival should ask nicely, not passive-aggressively hint. Asking is a lot more likely to work.

  14. Being a team-player is helping out with work-related projects and issues, not caving to someone’s passive-aggressive sniffing over missing out on the sunny window.

    Nor is being a team-player making a fuss over how someone else got a sunny window and you didn’t. If office policy was complied with, the new office-mate should just clam up and deal. She shouldn’t try to get around the policy by guilting her coworker.

  15. I’m starting to resent the “I hate to say it, but a man wouldn’t handle it this way” response, although I am guilty of thinking it myself. While I think the point is definitely well-intentioned, it implies that if a woman did not handle a situation ‘the way a man would have,’ then she has handled it inferiorly.

    I am fully on the feminist bandwagon for professional women, but I think it is counterproductive to the cause to have “the way a man would handle it” serve as the goal of how women should act.

    I do NOT want “WWMD” (What Would a Man Do) becoming the mantra of professional women. Let’s come up with something better.

    • +10000

    • I actually disagree with this. The point is that Reader K is being overly nice because women are conditioned to be nice. No professional obligation demands this. General social etiquette doesn’t demand this. The truth is that a man would not give up perks to make a woman feel better and women should not do the same.

  16. I’m actually the reader who submitted the question, and also the above comment. I understand the theory about women being conditioned to be nice, and perhaps it’s true, but my point is that I don’t agree with the implication that handling it ‘how a man would handle it’ is the bar for the correct way for a woman to handle a situation, and I think that is what the “well a man wouldn’t handle it that way” retort implies.

    I don’t think we should be striving to handle all of our situations like a man would handle it. To me it puts the focus on the wrong area. Additonally, I don’t agree with all of the ways men ‘typically’ handle situations. The emphasis for equality needs to be on a different thing.

    • I agree with you on handling things your way vs. WWMD.

      All of that said, we are all in a job market where experience doesn’t always trump all. Just because someone has more experience than you do does not give them the right to lord it over you. You got hired, she got hired. So she has more experience. You have seniority. If older workers are to blend with younger, sometimes they have to accept the job market as it stands. There are a lot of things going on in the job world that employees don’t love. Times have changed. Grumpy/snarky/demanding doesn’t get you far in this environment. Stand your ground…pleasantly, of course.

  17. This story made my day

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