Signing Off with Melody Rowell | Crooked Media
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October 25, 2023
Work Appropriate
Signing Off with Melody Rowell

In This Episode

It’s Work Appropriate’s 50th episode, one-year anniversary episode, and last episode, all rolled into one. Producer Melody Rowell joins host Anne Helen Petersen to talk about their favorite moments from the show and share updates from listeners who have written in.

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TRANSCRIPT

 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Hi, everyone. I’m Anne Helen Petersen, and this is Work Appropriate. [music plays] So I have to start with some bittersweet news. This is our one year anniversary episode. We’ve done 50 amazing episodes on everything from what to do about your fatphobic coworker to how to handle a manager who only wants to talk on the phone. It’s also our last episode. I feel like I have learned so much from my co-hosts, of course, but also from the questions that have come into our inboxes. We’ve given hundreds of you space to talk about what’s going on in your work world and hopefully in a whole lot of cases to feel validated that, no, this is not okay, this is not normal and you don’t have to put up with it. These conversations have made me think in more nuanced ways about what’s going on with work in this moment. And I am just so, so grateful to all of you listeners who made this show what it was. And if you want to see what Melody and I are cooking up next. Sign up for my newsletter AnneHelen.Substack.com Or follow me on Instagram. But for now, I’ll set us up for this episode the way I always have. For this ep. I wanted a person who’s listened to every episode, who’s read every reader question, who shaped every part of what you hear every week. And I found her the perfect person. [music plays]

 

Melody Rowell: My name is Melody Rowell. I’m a podcast producer living in Kansas City, Missouri, and I produce Work Appropriate. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: What else do you do? You do other things. 

 

Melody Rowell: I do other things. I founded my own podcast production company called Yellow Armadillo Studios, and I also produce and edit Strict Scrutiny, which is part of the Crooked Media family. And I have a handful of other clients ranging from law schools to some private practice doctors in Alexandria, Virginia, and I consult people on fixing their podcast problems, getting started, kind of all of the above. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And you and I have talked a lot about your various bad jobs. Okay jobs. Good jobs. Just so our listeners can know, because we’re going to go in and we’re going to talk like all about what we’ve learned from listening to these episodes, from all of our guests, all of this sort of thing. But what what is your work history like? How did you get to where you are now? 

 

Melody Rowell: Oh man. It has been a journey. And I feel like every time we wrap up an episode, I have some anecdote of something that was said that happened to me in one of those jobs. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Totally. Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: So I graduated college not knowing what I wanted to do, and I briefly thought I wanted to go to law school. And then I worked at a law office for about two weeks while I worked there for longer. But after about two weeks there I was like, I can’t do this all day. So then I moved to DC and I worked at the Supreme Court for a Supreme Court justice for a couple of years. And while I was doing that, I went to grad school and got a masters in nonfiction writing, which then led me to a job at National Geographic, where I was for a few years. But it was while I was working there in print and in digital media that I realized what I actually wanted to do was make the things that I was always listening to on my commute. So I went to a program called The Transom Story Workshop and learned how to edit audio. Started freelancing after that, did some public radio jobs, moved to Kansas City for a public radio job that ended during the pandemic. So I started freelancing almost exactly three years ago. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: So you’ve had different types of jobs. You’ve worked in passion jobs and know like the character of that and what that’s like. And then also and this is, I think, important to our discussion, you know, what it’s like to be a freelancer and and an independent contractor who has like some solid relationships with established companies, but is also like trying to balance that feeling that we’ll talk about of like, what is enough? 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: So where do we want to go from here? This is our reflection episode. We’ve done a year. We’ve learned so much. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: I feel like we’re just every week we’re like, oh, are we going to run out of episodes? And then there’s like 700 new episode ideas? 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah, that’s pretty much all of our pitch meetings where I’m like, we’ve reached the end, we’ve answered all the questions [laughter] we solved all the problems, and then we have a pitch meeting. We have like 15 more episodes to book. But I want to hear from you first how the past year has been either different or surprising from what you thought it would be. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Hmm. I just feel like I’ve learned. I just keep learning. You know, people sometimes ask like, how did you learn about what’s going on in the workplace? Like, you know, especially when wrote Out of Office, like, how did you learn about how businesses work, that sort of thing? Like some of it is you just pay attention, right? Like you read things and you like I read a lot of Harvard Business Review, right? 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Even though I didn’t go to business school. And I think when you have a background like mine that’s in learning about history or learning about culture, like it’s easy to treat something like the way that the office works as a text that you can kind of dive into. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: But the other thing that I really like that is my primary source and should be everyone’s primary source is I just like talking to a lot of people. I always want to hear from my friends like, oh, how does this work at your organization? So it’s like the texture of the conversations that I have, like in my my real life. But then also, you know, the conversations that I have on Instagram and then all of these questions that we get from people, right, where you can just look at the temperature of here’s the problem. That is that like you can look at it like a a month in the year and be like, here is the tension that is happening in the workplace in this month. Because I feel like when we first started soliciting questions 14 months ago, was it about 14 months ago? 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: There were still so many questions about. My workplace can’t decide if we’re hybrid like that. That was really the primary focus. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And then that began to shift over the course of the next six months. Eight months into my workplace is either preparing for layoffs or has we’ve had layoffs or I’m scared we’re going to have layoffs and not felt really foundational. And then through it all, we’ve still had the like I used to like my job or I like my job, but it’s unsustainable and I don’t know what to do about that. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: What have you seen and learned? 

 

Melody Rowell: I mean, one of the themes that I’ve been reflecting on is that idea of talking to everybody, you know, about their job and they’re sort of a meme right now on Instagram and TikTok that like if somebody held a gun to your head, you could not describe what your sister or your best friend does for work. [laughter] And I think so many of the questions we get could be solved by people not doing that. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Like, we get questions where people are like, I don’t even know what kind of job is out there. Or even just the question of like, my boss is doing this, is this normal? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Mm. 

 

Melody Rowell: And so often our advice is you need to talk to the people around you, like your friends, your neighbors, that is your network. When people talk about networking, it’s not going to an event and meeting strangers. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: With like canapés or something. [laughs]

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah, it’s like. [laughter] I want us to be I mean, I hate to use the buzzword intentional, but just to be intentional about getting to know what our friends and acquaintances actually do for their job and not shying away from asking the questions because it may seem gauche. Or you’re like, well, I don’t want to reduce anybody to what they do for work. But it is an important part of our lives. And the only way we’re going to learn about what else is out there is to ask questions. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, you know, I think there’s a real difference between the very stereotypical and I think reductive party question. That’s like, what do you do right? 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And then you don’t like you’re like, oh, okay, that’s not what I do. But it’s just a way to like, I don’t know, snap judgment like, and what do you do? And then like a ton of follow up questions, you’re like, oh, that’s so interesting. Like, what kind of like, how does your organization structure reviews? [laughs] You know like, you can talk about all sorts of cool things. 

 

Melody Rowell: You can interview your friends. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. 

 

Melody Rowell: And you can even, you know, if that feels awkward, just say, can I ask you a bunch of questions about your job? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: And it does it you don’t have to frame it as networking. You don’t have to frame it as being like nosy and invasive, although sometimes that’s where the good gossip is. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: But that was always the thing in DC. That’s the stereotype is when you meet someone, they either say, what do you do or who do you work for? And I remember when I worked at the Supreme Court, I didn’t really want to offer that information to strangers, even though I’m now offering it on a podcast to thousands of people. [laughter] But so I would just kind of gloss over it and be like, oh, I work for a federal judge and try to make it sound really boring. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. 

 

Melody Rowell: But then they would continue drilling down like, Well, who or what do you do? Well, where is it? That is one thing versus getting to know how your friends spend their days I think is a valuable conversation. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, well, and I think that also contributes to something that I’ve learned over the course of the last year when it comes to answering listener questions, which is that it’s often easier to solve a conundrum if you spend some time thinking about why people are acting the way that they’re acting. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yes. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. So I oftentimes think of something that teacher friends sometimes say, which is that if a kid is acting out in class, they’re not acting out because they’re like a quote unquote, “bad kid.” Right. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: They’re acting out because there’s something else going on. Right. And so maybe that’s something else. Is there something happening at school that makes things hard? And they are reacting to that by acting out and maybe there’s something happening outside of school. And how do you figure this out? Maybe you talk to the parents. Maybe that’s not the right avenue, but sometimes you just got to talk to the kid, right? And be like, what’s hard? Like when you get to school, you know, and sometimes it takes time to arrive at that understanding of what’s actually going on in this person’s life. So how do you do this in the workplace when I think it’s important to actually, you know, that there are things that people want to be private about, and that’s okay. I think that there are conversations that we can have, and lots of our co-hosts have shown us the ways that you can have them just to ask an open question. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Not to do the kind of condescending thing that’s like it seems like there’s a lot of stuff going on in your personal life and maybe we need to take a second like or maybe like we need to step back or like, you know what I mean? Like, don’t assume that you know that something is going on in their personal life. It might not be their personal life. It might be like there’s a lot of stuff going on in their national life, right? Like, there’s just like there’s things that are happening. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: So sometimes just starting the conversation with like, how are things actually going? Is there something that’s really difficult right now? Is there a stopping point? Opening up that conversation so you can better understand why things are happening in a way that might not be the way that they should be happening. 

 

Melody Rowell: Two other  things I’ve noticed about be like, why are people the way that they are? Question is. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Everybody is scared. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Like we I get that sense. No matter their position in the company, they are scared of saying something or doing something that’s going to get them immediately fired and then they catastrophize into what that would mean for the rest of their life. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: And I think you can have more compassionate conversations with people that you work with if you’re like, we are all freaking out on the inside and scared that this is going to go wrong. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: And the other thing is, I get a sense that because everybody is scared, it is hard to trust people. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: And again, no matter your position, like we have had bosses not trust their employees because they’re not getting their work done or they’re calling out sick all of the time. But they are scared to say anything that might cost somebody their job. And then on the other hand, you know, we have people who don’t trust that their boss is going to do the right thing for them. And they’re scared that saying something is going to cost them their job. And so it is just this it’s a mess. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. Well, and I think that that points to the fact that, like, you know, what I was saying about how you just need to have a conversation that that doesn’t work if you are in an environment that is not safe. Right. Like the catch phrase is like, you know, what is it, environmental safety, emotional safety—

 

Melody Rowell: Psychological safety. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Psychological safety. 

 

Melody Rowell: Right. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. Like, whatever you want to call it. They don’t feel like they can actually tell you what’s going on. 

 

Melody Rowell: Right. And so if you have that conversation, that is a sign. [laughs]

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Totally. Totally. And so, like, if that’s the case, you have to zoom out. Right. And this is a big theme that I think we’ve come to again and again, like, oh, this interpersonal problem that you’re having is actually a symptom of a much larger institutional affliction. And you need to figure out what that is and that’s so much harder to deal with. So people just avoid it. And but it’s a contagion, right? Like it’s something that’s going to affect every single person who comes into this role. Like, if you are underpaying people, if you are always alerting the threat of layoffs off of people, like it’s never going to be a good environment. So what do you do? 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. And that was ultimately, you know, not to spill too much tea, but that was why I had to leave. My last job was sort of just looking at the lay of the land and like everything I am facing right now is an institutional problem. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: And I don’t think I have it in me to wait around for it to be solved. [laughter] So. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: You know, I mean, I wrote a piece about this when those rolling layoffs were happening at tech companies. Was that like in the winter? I’m trying to think back in my brain. 

 

Melody Rowell: Lay Off Brain? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, Lay Off Brain. That was the name of the piece. And it was about seeing these layoffs happen over the course of my time in journalism. Right, like where I used to work. BuzzFeed News is at this intersection of tech and journalism, two industries that are incredibly precarious. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: The difference being that if you get laid off in tech, almost always there are other jobs that you can eventually go find journalism. Not generally the case, right? Like, you can adapt and find new skills and maybe find a job somewhere else or like go into comms or like there are other places that you can go and find work, but it’s not necessarily like, oh, I got laid off at this journalistic publication. I’m just going to go find another one. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Like, it’s just, no, the jobs are just decreasing, you know? And it reminded me so much of my time in academia, which is also so precarious. And I just was so tired like so many other people I know so many listeners to this show, like you, like, so tired of feeling like the other shoe is always just about to drop and like there’s still precarity in freelancing, but I feel more in control of it. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yes, absolutely. I say that all the time of like there is still stress in being your own boss and and freelancing. But I prefer that stress. I can handle that stress. And I mean, you were saying you were at the intersection of journalism and tech. I was at the intersection of journalism and nonprofit. So it was, you know, lots of dysfunction with the feeling of I should just be grateful to be there. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yep, yep. 

 

Melody Rowell: And I was supposed to be doing good in the world and therefore be okay with not making any money. And so. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: I do remember when I was looking to leave, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to freelance or look for something else and I was just reading job posting after job. Hosting and being like. And these all seemed miserable. And then I was like, it’s not me. It’s the industry, it’s not me. [laughter]

 

Anne Helen Petersen: These jobs are miserable. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Well, and this brings us, I think, to another theme, which is that a lot of passion jobs are unsustainable. But then when people get into jobs that are just J O B jobs, they’re like, well, what? What? Who am I? Like, what’s going on? I don’t I don’t know how to grapple with this. Where do I find meaning? 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And I absolutely recognize that because a lot of people, I think, are really inculcated with this idea that your job is your identity. Right. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Melody Rowell: Especially bourgeois parents and bourgeois kids, like growing up in bourgeois environments where you, like, are trained to be on this pathway to a career. It makes sense that we identify so strongly with what we do. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yes. And that the career is the through line of your life. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. Yes. 

 

Melody Rowell: And that everything else is on the periphery or it is extracurricular and therefore not that important. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. And this brings us to the advice that I think has really stuck with me and something that I think I I arrived at and I’ve written a little bit about like pre Work Appropriate and during the pandemic but like. So many of our co-hosts have responded to questions like what I’m describing, that sort of affliction of like, I don’t know who I am now that I’m working a solid job, I’m kind of bored. I was like, what happened to my ambition? Am I challenged? Like, who am I? They’ve said, and I agree with this, you have to have something outside of your job that helps give your life meaning. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yes. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And I think some people that’s kids. Some people that’s dogs, caregiving and other capacities like. Or it can be a hobby. Right. And it can be, hobby is such like a trivializing word, because I think that it’s like it makes it sound like you’re just like going into a little room and like—

 

Melody Rowell: Tootling around. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: —figurines or something. [laughter] Yeah, just like tootling around instead of like, oh, I have this other thing or several other things in my life that I just love to do. I look forward to it. It makes me incredibly happy and I think gives meaning to my life. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. Our episode on ambition with Rainesford Stauffer was so eye opening for me in that way of like, you don’t have to be ambitious about work because I’ve been feeling that way for a while of like, I am content. Is that allowed? Is that okay? Should I be striving to be like a girl boss [laughter] and open a studio in X, Y, Z? But that conversation, I was like, oh, I can be ambitious about my hobbies and I can be ambitious about having a lot of hobbies and not some kind of character flaw. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: And I have because of that. Like, I’ve read like 85 books this year already. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. Yeah. You’re my one of my favorite book reviewers. I like anyone who gives, like, honest book reviews, meaning that they’re not scared to, like, give a book less than a four stars, right? 

 

Melody Rowell: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. I’ve read several books this year where I’m like, this is literally the worst book I’ve ever read. [laughter] They keep, like, outdoing each other, but I only get to enjoy that because I’m reading so many other good books too.

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Because my ambition is currently reading. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. And my ambition and I like this is just I have kind of an obsessive personality. My ambition is currently dahlias and— 

 

Melody Rowell: Yes. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: It’s been so fun to. [laughs] Instead of like spending the time when I should be writing agonizing over how I’m not doing enough work, just like hanging out in my dahlias spreadsheet. [laughter]

 

Melody Rowell: I like that you still made it work like in that there are there’s a spreadsheet. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: I needed I needed it organized or like sheet mulching my yard, which involves taking a lot of compost and cardboard and killing your grass. 

 

Melody Rowell: Oh yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: So that I can plant more dahlias. But, you know, whatever the hobby is, it helps decenter work as like my only locus of success, of pleasure. I just I spent so many years rotating around that axis of work, like everything in my life rotated around that and now I still work a ton. You and I both work a lot, but I have decentered work like there are many different axes. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: That I feel like are rotating around me as a complete person [laughs] or as a more complete person. 

 

Melody Rowell: 100%. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Instead of like. [laughs] I know what a concept.

 

Melody Rowell: You’re not a work robot, you’re a person. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. And I understand why we become work robots. You know, like, that’s my whole thing with Millennial Burnout was like, all of these different pressures in our lives. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Tell us that the only way for us to succeed is to become a work robot. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mhm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: So how do we figure out that, that alternative? And this I think brings to another theme. So many of our, our co-host have also emphasized, which is that like sometimes you have to stay in a job. So how do you figure that out? How do you figure out how to make it sustainable? Cope able any of those things. But also sometimes like this is your life, right? This is the rest of your life. If there is any way for you to start looking for that other job, if your job just makes your life miserable every day. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: You can do it. And that that might include switching industries. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And that’s harder advice to hear. Right. But sometimes I think people write into the show because they want to be given permission to do it. 

 

Melody Rowell: They want somebody to say like, yes, this is bad enough to leave over. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Anne Helen Petersen: What do you notice in the questions that people send in? Because it takes a particular sort of problem to prompt someone to like. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Click on the link and like, submit a question. Right. So what do you see? 

 

Melody Rowell: Well, there’s that fear that I was talking about. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: There’s that desperation. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Mm hmm. 

 

Melody Rowell: There is also this overwhelming feeling of it’s just as bad everywhere else. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: And that was also an experience I had to go through. I think this was pre-pandemic and I did a poll on my Instagram stories where I asked people, when you wake up in the morning, are you dreading going to work? And most people said no. And I was like, oh, okay, that’s a bad sign for me. [laughter] And on the next slide. I asked in the morning, when you wake up, are you excited to go to work? And most people said no. And I was like, Wait, you can just feel kind of like in-between and neutral. And that’s like, what most of my Instagram friends feel. And so I think keeping that in mind as a possibility of what work could feel like, it doesn’t have to be the most miserable experience of your life, and it doesn’t have to be the most life giving positive experience you’ve ever had. Like you can look for something that’s in the middle. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, and I think that you’re right that people write in either hoping that someone like will talk about, you’re right, it’s this bad. Like you just have to stay where you are. Like there’s a permission structure that’s built in to a lot of questions. Either they want to be told you have to stay where you are. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And this isn’t maybe the case with, like, any advice. You know, I think of, like, Dear Trudy or, like, there’s just so many advice columnists where, like, oftentimes, like, a parent [laughs] is writing in and they want to be told what I’m doing is okay. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Or what the other parent is doing is not okay. 

 

Melody Rowell: Right. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: I like it when especially a co-host can look at a question and be like, here’s what I actually think is going on. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: In this question. And like, you know, we never know all of the information or all of the context. And so I think we do a good job of acknowledging that, while also saying, you know, like on a recent episode that the with the Nightingale’s and about management, there was a question about like this person on my team always wants to call me I hate the phone and he waste my time on the phone. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And like my response is going to be like, okay, you always have to figure out like how you can communicate better and like, reach a better like, you know, halfway point. And the Nightingale’s were like, no, no. They were like, he’s lonely. He has a different way that he reaches that feeling of belonging in the office. And so how do we create that feeling more for this person? And so I like it when we are able to kind of talk about the bigger picture instead of just like exactly what we see on the page. 

 

Melody Rowell: So what have been some of your you know, the episodes are our children. We can’t choose a favorite. But what have been some of your favorite moments or questions that we’ve experienced in the past year? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Okay. So I love the question this was a while back about. Someone whose go worker continually emailed as Fenway the dog. [laughs]

 

Melody Rowell: That’s also on my list. That’s probably my all time favorite question.

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Although you always make fun of me because I mistakenly call the dog Wrigley instead of Fenway. [laughter] You can see how I’d make up that. 

 

Melody Rowell: Oh totally. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Make that mistake. Another favorite. That isn’t funny because I think it’s someone who’s grappling with mental illness. But I think that we we dealt with the question well, was the person who the gardener. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Who was working for a woman who said that her coworker was possessed by demons? 

 

Melody Rowell: Yes. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Because I think that that’s something that people don’t know how to deal with, but it’s like a very real thing. And like, how do you talk about this in a way that like, doesn’t stigmatize this person, but this person is also acting in a way that, like, it’s not okay. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: So that one sticks out like [laughs] I think it was from, let’s say, episode, the one where the woman had a tattoo. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: That just had some titties. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yup. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And she’s like, I work for the I work for, like, the government. And they’re like, I have to cover up my tattoo. Is it true that I have to cover this up? 

 

Melody Rowell: You know, later this episode, I’m going to read you some updates we got from listeners and we do have an update on the titty tattoo, so get excited for that. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Okay. So and what were your favorites? 

 

Melody Rowell: I also had Fenway the dog on my list, and I was really hoping we were going to get an update from that listener, but we did not. But if he is listening, like we are begging you to tell us what has happened with the Fenway the dog emails. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. 

 

Melody Rowell: I also I think this is in the same episode, just the whole episode we did with Lyz Lenz about people’s wild coworkers. I just loved it because I feel like that whole episode was just us reading scenarios and then you and Lyz screaming. [laughter] Like the coworkers. Who like, clip their nails. And I think, again, one of the services we provide on this podcast is to just validate people that like, yes, this is not work appropriate. [laughter] Yes, this is disgusting. And yes, you were right to be incensed and irritated about this. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: But speaking of things that are like inappropriate and make people incensed. One of my favorite moments and I’m not going to put this listener on blast, so I’ll just speak in generalities. Part of the process of what I do is we get written questions in and then we select which questions we’re going to answer in an episode. And then I reach out to the people who submitted them and I ask for a voice memo so we can play their question in the episode. So there’s a little bit of back and forth with the listeners. This one person I emailed them saying, Hey, we’ve selected your question, and they said, Oh, a lot has happened. Can I send an updated version of the question? And I said, Yes. And the updated version of the question made it clear that the question asker was the villain. Like the first version of the question that was like, Ooh, that’s a tough situation. The second version, I was like, Oh, you’re actually the problem. [laughter] So I mean, that’s just kind of added another layer to every time I go in through our questions of like, alright, what’s the other side of the story? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: More context, more context. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: You know, there are columns where people talk to like both sides of a breakup. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: To get like the, the different perspectives, like that would be so interesting if we could ever do, like, a worker and their manager. It would never happen. And people are way too sensitive about this stuff.

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. Again, everyone’s scared and nobody trusts anyone. [laughs] But, yeah. That was that was just fun. And it felt like I got my own personal little dose of gossip. I don’t even know if I really told you and the host about that—

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, I don’t think so. 

 

Melody Rowell: I think you were offline. [laughter]

 

Anne Helen Petersen: What else is memorable? 

 

Melody Rowell: I mean, like you were saying, the Nightingales are just so good at, like, seeing through the bullshit. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: And I think it was the first episode we had with Melissa. And you said something like, well, you know, obviously you can’t fire them. And Melissa was like, Why not? [laughter] And it was again, just this days of like, Oh yeah, like we do a great job on this show of like talking about feelings and being like anti-capitalist, but also like firing people is a reality of the workplace. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. And that’s something that like, I think it’s my role to sometimes be the person who is trying to avoid that sort of more difficult situation or harsher situation. And then the co-host gets to be like, No fire that person. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Or like, no, like, you need to quit now, that sort of thing. Okay. We’re going to take a quick break and then get into our listener updates. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Anne Helen Petersen: All right. Should we get into these listener updates? 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. I have so many updates for you. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Oh, my gosh. When you told me that you had so many updates, I was like, this is amazing. I’m kind of nervous though, too, because what if we gave bad advice? 

 

Melody Rowell: I think if we did, nobody was going to tell us. [laughter] I sent an email to everybody who’s had a question featured on the show. At least I think it was everybody. If you’re listening and you’re like, I had a question, I didn’t get an email, I’m very sorry, but it was a lot of emails and I asked people for updates of what has happened since we answered your question. And so I got a lot of answers and I don’t have time to go through all of them, but I have a lot of them to share with you. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Okay. 

 

Melody Rowell: And I’ve divided them into two categories. Also, for the listener, I told Anne that I was not going to let her see these ahead of time. So these reacts are 100% real. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: These are real. 

 

Melody Rowell: Okay. So the first category is where are they now? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Okay. 

 

Melody Rowell: These are people who wrote to us about the sort of existential questions of whether to stay at their job or move on or what to do about job. So the first update I want to share is because I am personally very excited about this one. This update comes from somebody who wrote in for episode that we did with Ailsa Chang called Is It Too Late to Start Over? And you probably remember this person. They were wondering about quitting their job to open a bookstore, but they asked, Is that a recipe to hate books in 15 years? And this is how Ailsa responded. 

 

[clip of Ailsa Chang]: Do not approach the universe with this expectation that you are not supposed to ever, ever, ever hate your job. Especially like if the outlook is 15 years. That’s a really long time. Oh my God. Do  books for 15 years. And if you hate it, if it really comes true that you hate it after a decade and a half, that’s a good run. 

 

Melody Rowell: So this listener has given us an update. I quit my political consulting job, effective next Friday. Tropes and Trifles, a romance themed bookstore, has been doing online sales and pop ups in Minneapolis since mid-August. My business partner and I are looking for space and hope to open a storefront in early 2024. Owning a bookstore is hard, especially in the current retail landscape, but I am encouraged by the strong and supportive community we’ve built over the past few months. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Tropes and Trifles.

 

Melody Rowell: Tropes and Trifles.

 

Anne Helen Petersen: In Minneapolis. 

 

Melody Rowell: I am a huge romance reader, and so I actually—

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And I’m a Minnesotan, so it works out. 

 

Melody Rowell: You are? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Originally. Yeah. I was born in Minnesota. 

 

Melody Rowell: Oh I didn’t know that. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. [laughter]

 

Melody Rowell: Wow. Yeah. I know that this store already has a presence on Instagram because I’ve been following them, so I was so excited to get this update in.

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Go follow, anyone who’s listening. Go follow them. Just to be a part of this person’s success.

 

Melody Rowell: We need more romance only bookstores. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. Okay. Give me another update. 

 

Melody Rowell: So our next update is from the episode we did on academia with Dominique Baker. And we didn’t play this question directly, but you used it to set up a conversation about why institutions don’t fix their retention problems and they just stay in this cycle of people leaving and rehiring and people leaving and rehiring. So here is the update that we got from the person who originally sent in that question. Of the ten people of color working in my academic library, out of about 50 people, three remain. Admins sent out an emergency email saying they’d put together a task force to address the Bipoc retention issue, unsure of whether that actually happened or not because I also left. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Good for this person. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah, good for them. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Good for this person. 

 

Melody Rowell: They got out of the cycle and I hope they didn’t say anything about what they’re doing now, but I hope it’s an improvement. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: So another question about quitting from our episode on whether or not you should leave your job. I think we called it. Is this Relationship Over? With Jane Coaston.

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yep. 

 

Melody Rowell: Elsa wrote in saying that she had recently returned to work after maternity leave and she was so bored. But switching jobs while being a new mom seemed way too risky. So she wrote in. I laughed when I listened to my question. I submitted the question a year ago and so much has changed. I’m no longer bored. I’m still at the same company and my workload has increased to the point where I’m completely overwhelmed and burnt out. When I returned from maternity leave, it was like my new manager didn’t know what the point of my role was, and it took around six months for my skills to be valued again. So this year I’ve been highly involved in a major project at work. I’ve been promoted and now have a team working under me. My workload has increased so much that I’ve actually had to turn down another promotion opportunity and have also asked to reduce my work schedule to part time. When I was bored at work, I felt guilty for wasting my days doing nothing when I could have been home with my child. But when my workload increased, the guilt didn’t go away. It got worse. I realized that working full time isn’t what I want to be doing. My ambition has been reduced since becoming a mom, and I just want a lazy girl job. I don’t want to be bored, but I don’t want to be overworked and overwhelmed either. I just want a part time job that is stimulating for 24 hours a week and no more. I’m hoping that this year I can find the right balance between work and home life. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Oof. I mean, that’s such a good one because it’s like it just does seem like there is no happy medium. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mhm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. Because especially because the way that the U.S. workforce is set up like there’s just so few opportunities for truly part time work. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mhm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. There are jobs where you work part time hours but actually work a full job. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mhm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And that’s what this person wants and that’s such a great like if you can financially swing it, it’s like a great place to be. So I hope that she is able to find it. 

 

Melody Rowell: I also like that it’s a representation of the more philosophical idea of today is not always. And when she wrote to us she was so bored and she thought her only option was quitting. But the situation that unfolded was much more complicated than that. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Okay. This is an update from somebody who had recently switched jobs when they wrote to us. This is from the episode. My job Traumatized Me, Now What? That we did was psychologist Hammad N’cho. And we had gotten a question from a nurse named Liz who was regretting switching jobs because she had really bonded with her coworkers during COVID. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right, right. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. So here’s what she says. I feel much more comfortable at work. I still feel shitty about the type-A environment sometimes, but I’m able to move on pretty well. I increased my Lexapro by half a milligram and I’m going to therapy mostly to talk through work related issues. I have a much more chill floor and most of my patients are lovely humans. We had a lot of new hires who are creating a solid, supportive group of nightshift nurses. Our union just got us a new contract with staffing ratio protections and a 27% raise over three years. I’m so glad I didn’t go back to my old job. I never get sexually harassed on this new floor and my husband says I am much less angry about work. I still miss my friends from my old job, but I see them and talk to them occasionally. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: So I love this for so many reasons, and part of it is like an acknowledgment of how integrated our jobs are in our mental health. Right. Like, you can’t just be like, Oh, if I get a new job, it’s going to fix everything. Like she’s like, I also am going to therapy and I, like I changed my meds. Like there there are a lot of things that if your job has traumatized you, as this person’s job highlight that you have to grapple with in the aftermath. And I’m just happy for her. It seems like she has a really good situation. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah, and I think it’s a situation she couldn’t have imagined when she first wrote to us. So that. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: That one made me really happy. Yeah. Our next update is from someone whose question we featured pretty recently. This was in our episode about feeling stuck that we did with Josh Gondelman, and this was a really heart wrenching question we got where they said it felt like everything was going wrong. They fucked up their whole life by having this job and yes, they were in therapy, but they cry all the time and just they were basically just looking for some hope. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: So here’s their update. It’s only been about a month since the episode aired, so I’m still in my current role. However, the great advice from Anne and Josh made me laugh and cry in a good way and inspired me to keep digging even if I only have a spoon. I love the Shawshank Redemption analogy. [laughs] With you are not a stuck person as my new mantra. I’m taking steps to move forward. I’m updating my portfolio and using my friends and network to find other opportunities and open some doors. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Oh yeah. That was all Josh saying, you know, dig in with the spoon. 

 

Melody Rowell: And you are not a stuck person. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: You know, sometimes when it’s only been a month since when we’ve we like heard from them, it’s not a lot of opportunity for change, but I love to hear that our response made them laugh and cry. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: I that’s what I always hope when we answer a question is that this person feels like we see them for like, I know that sounds cheesy, but like the thing that we often say, especially for difficult situations, is like, this is really hard and we need to acknowledge that first and foremost, is that like the situation that you find yourself in, like that is really hard. I don’t know if we say that enough, you know, just kind of acknowledging that. 

 

Melody Rowell: And I remember now that part of their original question was they had been trying to get a new job for like two years and it had something like 100 interviews. And they were always tailoring their resume and their cover letter. And so I can totally see how that starts to weigh on you and make you think there’s something wrong with you. And so I’m glad that you and Josh were able to help them see that that is just not the case. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Okay. So our next update is not really a happy one, but I think it’s important for us to talk about. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: So the original question was in our episode about setting boundaries with Stephanie Nadi Olson. But it could have also fit into our episodes about how to care less about your job. And making caring professions sustainable. This was the teacher in a small town who didn’t want to give her phone number out publicly, and her update makes me understand why. So here’s what she says. Two of the colleagues in my department were put on administrative leave within the first four weeks of the school year. About a third of the staff are long term subs with no education background. Instead of coaching people up, they let them flounder. One of the teachers had to make lesson plans for every ninth grade class in our department because she was the only one left teaching that class still on staff. She told me she wanted to kill herself about three weeks ago. So to answer your question, it’s not going well with caring less. I feel like I am one of the few teachers left who actually has a voice because I’ve been there since dirt and I know where the bodies are buried. So I try to speak up for my colleagues and my students when I can because this is absolutely unsustainable for everyone. Admin included. Somedays I can walk out and shrug my shoulders and say it’s not my circus. But when I go back the next day, it absolutely is my circus. So I just put off the caring for another day. I am trying to minimize my rage, but it’s not easy. I have four years until I am fully vested in our state retirement and it’s touch and go if I will make it. Maybe I’ll be the next teacher who walks out. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: I mean, this is just so hard because it is like it is such a familiar story to me. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Just like with other people that I know who are doing that work, who have left that work. And it’s scarring. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. I absolutely understand why she wants to wait out those four years. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: But like, it’s really hard to recover from. I feel like this could it could have also been a question and like, my job traumatized me. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. You know? 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And I just, I, I really feel for this person. And I feel for any other educators who are feeling similarly. And it really, really fucking sucks. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. I think it’s also a good illustration of sometimes our questions are interpersonal. Sometimes our questions are like, No, your company is dysfunctional, and this is like the entire nation. [laughs] Is ruining this person’s life. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. [laughs] Yes. 

 

Melody Rowell: And like. Yeah, so, you know, she’s doing the best that she can, but it’s really not fair that this is being asked of her and everybody and everybody in public education. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Okay. Our second half of listener updates I have for you are about situations that were within work that were not necessarily as existential, but still needed to be dealt with. And for our first update, we are going to go all the way back to our very first episode, Big Office Feelings with Josh Gondelman. And it is from the person who wrote in, cranky about gifts from work. Do you remember this conversation? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: So this person has an update. They say I’ve noticed my work has moved to more food related gifts so they’ll likely be used over some dust collecting tchotchke. And more excitingly, we don’t give anniversary gifts now. But as a thank you to their commitment to the organization, after every five years of employment, staff are eligible for a six week paid sabbatical. I am thrilled with this. The greatest gift is time. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Amazing. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Oh my gosh. Wasn’t this the person? Maybe this just like sparked a conversation that I had on my Instagram where someone wrote in to say that their boss gave them the gift of mugs with their face the boss’s face on vacation. 

 

Melody Rowell: This was not the same listener, but that is something that we did talk about. Yeah. Going from like useless crap to a long ass vacation that is like the ultimate workplace glow up. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. That someone’s listening. Do you think that they listen to Work Appropriate? 

 

Melody Rowell: I hope so. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Wow. Sabbatical is the best gift. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. Anybody who’s listening now, people want time off. That is the gift they want. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, and time off. That’s not like. Oh, it’s unlimited. Take it if you want to, like, force time off structure time off, time off that is conceived of as something that you earn because you do this job. Like give it. That’s wonderful news. 

 

Melody Rowell: Okay, so I have two updates from the episode we did called This is Awkward with Virginia Sole-Smith where people were just like, I don’t know how to deal with this situation. [laughter] Okay, so the first update is from a person who said their coworker was really rude in emails, and I just want to revisit how you and Virginia initially reacted. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: I want to see the emails because my guess is that she’s probably just like using periods instead of exclamation points or. 

 

[clip of Virginia Sole-Smith]: No punctuation is another common, you know, like mis step. I think email is the land of misinterpreted tone and she may not hear you like at all. She just has no idea how she’s coming across. 

 

Melody Rowell: So here’s the update. I submitted the question about having a colleague write very rude and disrespectful emails. It was not just her using correct punctuation and direct language. After hearing your response, I realized that I was taking her emails personally, but not because of her direct language, but because of her inability to do her job. She often put things off, didn’t see emails or misplaced important documents that she would then claim were never given to her. Once she replied to an email about my work phone not having texting capabilities by saying. Try this question mark, question mark. I responded by saying, Hello. Was there meant to be something attached to the email or did you just want me to try texting again? Thanks. To which, to which she responded, nothing attached. Just try. [laughter] Which like should be in T-shirt. It was things like. This that became frustrating. She spoke to me as if I was stupid or missing something, but she often wasn’t doing her job correctly. I did bring it up to my supervisor because I felt like I was going crazy. She told me to just make sure I have copies of everything I submit, stay organized and follow up. I felt frustrated because I should not have to be managing someone outside of my department. However, it was really all I could do. Thankfully, shortly after that she gave her notice and has left the organization. Yay! The new person in her role has been more organized and less condescending. Win win all around. I appreciate you helping me reflect on the fact that it wasn’t so much about her emails, but it was more about how she did or didn’t do her work. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Amazing. Wow. I love it. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Like if our, I just love when, like, answer misses the point and they’re like, oh, if they’re responding this way, then I’m not actually identifying the problem. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yes. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. And so I need to rethink, like, what is the question that I’m actually asking. 

 

Melody Rowell: Right. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And it was all of these things that she’s outlining here, which is all of his very weird behavior, or at least like, I don’t know, incompetent behavior in some capacity. And then she wins by not having to deal with it just like give notice. Yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: Amazing—

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Can you imagine her feeling when she opened up the email that this person gave notice? 

 

Melody Rowell: I’m imagining that from the office where everybody’s, like, spraying champagne and jumping around [laughter] because there’s no way she was, like, the only victim of this person’s yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: No, no, no, no. 

 

Melody Rowell: So we have another update from the same episode. This one was from a nonbinary and gender non-conforming person whose coworkers often called them young lady and said things like, I don’t understand non-binary or it doesn’t exist. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. 

 

Melody Rowell: And they were like, I really don’t know how to handle this because I’m the only openly gender queer person at the office. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. 

 

Melody Rowell: Here’s their update. I never brought up how this colleagues comment affected me. There wasn’t ever a good opportunity and I still didn’t know how to approach her or anyone else about it unrelated to this circumstance. But perhaps it was a subconscious motivation I applied to transfer to a different department at the university at my new department. I work with other openly queer and non-binary colleagues and the whole staff has been very normal and accepting of pronouns and gender identity. I’m much happier that I work in a department where having they/them pronouns is respected among all the other reasons I applied for this transfer. Thank you for taking the time to read my question and for your kind response and validation of how awkward and bad that situation was. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, I remember this question and I remember advice was like, you do not have the responsibility to educate this person like you are not. This is not your job. Right? And like, you should talk to a manager, H.R. department, like there’s so many other people whose responsibility it actually is. 

 

Melody Rowell: Mm hmm. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: And it shouldn’t be beholden on you in this power relationship to do that. So I’m so glad that they are now in a department where they don’t have to do that work at all. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Right. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: That’s so great. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. So happy about that one. Okay, Now is the time for the titty tattoo update. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. 

 

Melody Rowell: So this was the titular question, titular episode with Greta Johnsen. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. 

 

Melody Rowell: And here is the update. Since being told I had to cover up the tattoo, I have been using Band-Aids to cover it up. I have forgotten on a few occasions and had my supervisor nag me to remember to cover up. I have recently made an appointment to get a partial cover up with the original artist so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I’m also looking for new jobs since I can’t stand my supervisor anymore. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: I mean, here’s the thing. If your supervisor is nagging you about you’re like subtle titties in your tattoo, that supervisor has something else going on. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah, yeah. First of all, this supervisor needs to grow up. And I’m like kind of sad that they’re getting it covered up. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: I know. 

 

Melody Rowell: I mean, I hope they like it. But.

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. Maybe wait and see if you get another job. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Before you cover it up. 

 

Melody Rowell: It is colder weather, so maybe we just do long sleeves for a little bit. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah, don’t cover up your joy. Don’t cover up your titty joy. Like.

 

Melody Rowell: Free the titties, but also, like, do whatever you need to do in this capitalist hellscape, which is one of our recurring themes—

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah do what you need to do but also like, I bet your tattoo is really sick. 

 

Melody Rowell: Also, I still want to see a picture of it if you want to send it to us. WorkAppropriate@crooked.com.

 

Anne Helen Petersen: But I think that that we agree. Your supervisor is not the greatest. 

 

Melody Rowell: Yeah. I like to imagine that this person will find a job where they’re fully accepted for who they are. And then in one of their like lunchtime conversations, someone is like, why did you leave your last job? And they’re just like, show them the tattoo. [laughter] Like what? So you’ll find your people. You’ll find the titty tattoo appreciator. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yeah. I mean, we are legion. 

 

Melody Rowell: Okay, so we have one last update. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Alright. 

 

Melody Rowell: And this is from the episode we did with Lyz Lenz that I was talking about earlier, about just like, what the fuck? Situations at work. And we had so many what the fuck questions that we had to do a rapid fire segment at the end. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. 

 

Melody Rowell: One of the questions was that the women’s bathroom didn’t have any trash bins in the stalls. Remember this? 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes. 

 

Melody Rowell: And they had been asking for a year for this to happen. And Lyz was like—

 

[clip of Lyz Lenz]: Like, You steal trash cans from the men’s bathroom and put them in the women’s bathroom. 

 

Melody Rowell: So here is her update. We got trash cans installed in the bathroom. The men’s room didn’t have trash cans to steal. It only had the ones built into the wall under the paper towels. So I sent an email to the facilities manager. There’s nothing quite like seeing bloody pads and tampons clogging toilets are dripping on the floors to middle aged straight white men because the trash bins got ordered and installed within two weeks after the email was sent. It only took a year and a half from start to finish. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Oh. But you know what? Sometimes you just got to say bloody pads and tampons, right? You just got to. You can’t use euphemisms. 

 

Melody Rowell: Right. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: You can’t use blue liquid. And like, you know, they do in the commercials. Like, you just got to be like, this is, this is what we’re dealing with. 

 

Melody Rowell: This is the reality.

 

Anne Helen Petersen: This is the level of seriousness of this need. 

 

Melody Rowell: Blood. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: [laughs] That we don’t want to carry out of the bathroom. So I’m thrilled for this workplace. 

 

Melody Rowell: And I just feel like this is the right one to end on because, like, this is our legacy. [laughter] Like, if we cannot solve institutional, systematic problems plaguing the entirety of the American workforce, we can encourage somebody to get the trash cans. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Oh, you said it. I mean, you said the good thing like this is why. And I just want to say as our closing. And that, like this podcast is what it is because of the incredible work that you do both behind the scenes in terms of like communicating with people who are question askers and our guests, and then also the work that you do to make us sound, you know, smart and like we’re not using weird sentences. [laughter] It’s what I always tell guests at the beginning of the show is that Melody will make us sound really smart. And you do. So thank you for that. 

 

Melody Rowell: Well, you give me all the good content to work with. There’s no one else I’d want to work with on this show than you. [music plays]

 

Anne Helen Petersen: Here’s to what we’re cooking up next. 

 

Melody Rowell: Hear. Hear. 

 

Anne Helen Petersen: For one last time. Thank you for listening for Work Appropriate. It has been my total pleasure hosting this show and I am so grateful for you. I set out to make Work Appropriate to take conversations I’d been having online into a podcast where we could have extended important, nuanced conversations about the workplace and the experience of connecting with experts, friends, listeners like you. All of this was so great, and if you want to keep in touch and hear about what’s next, particularly in the podcast arena, head to AnneHelen.substack.com and sign up for my newsletter Culture study. You can also follow me on Instagram @AnneHelenPetersen. Work Appropriate is a Crooked Media production. I’m Anne Helen Petersen, your host. Our executive producer is Kendra James. Melody Rowell is our producer and editor. Alison Falzetta is our development producer. Music is composed by Chanell Crichlow. Additional production support from Ari Schwartz and a special thanks to Katie Long and Sarah Geismer. [music plays]