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home : columns : dear harriette April 29, 2016

7/23/2014 2:13:00 PM
Missed email causes work frustration

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have to travel 45 minutes by bus to get to work, and the bus comes only once an hour, something that my boss knows. I came in to work and discovered that the doors were locked. A custodian let me in, but my department was still locked. I checked my email and saw that my boss had sent me an email 45 minutes prior to when I would have had to be in the office (after I would have already been on the bus) that I didn't need to come in today. I found this rude, since she knows my situation, and I had to use my own money to pay for the bus to and from work that day, which was a waste of my wages, as the bus fare is not cheap. Do I have a right to ask for compensation for my troubles? -- Snubbed at Work, Detroit

DEAR SNUBBED AT WORK: Chances are your boss did not intentionally make the decision not to open the office that day too late for you to know. It's more likely that she did not realize that she didn't take her staff's travel time into account. Often, important decisions get made in a vacuum, and some things that should be obvious are overlooked. This does not make your boss's actions right; however, it can explain how such a thing could have happened.

I think it is fair for you to mention to your boss that you did not get the message in time and you came to work unnecessarily. You can say how much your commute costs and ask if you could possibly be reimbursed. By asking in a humble way, you create space for your boss to apologize and give you the money that you spent.  

DEAR HARRIETTE: I run a writing critique group that meets once a week. It is a small group; therefore, we depend on the attendance of the members, which we make clear in the beginning. Of course, there are times when people are unable to make it, and we ask that they let us know ahead of time. However, there have been a couple of people who just won't show up one week, or for a few weeks at a time, with no explanation. Is it wrong to expect that members of a group let us know if they can't make a meeting, even if we did not explicitly state that they should tell us when we started the group? -- Team Work, Racine, Wisconsin

DEAR TEAM WORK: It is perfectly within your rights to follow up with members of your writing critique group to ask them to honor their obligation to attend and participate in your group sessions. Contact each of the no-shows to find out if they are all right and if they intend to come back. Explain how difficult it can be when members do not show up. Ask them to commit more fully to the group if they want to continue to be a part of it.

(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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