Ask Jack: Boss's Day, Printer Ethics, and Job of the Week

Falling and breaking prirnter&fax machine

Terrence informs us:

I see that Boss's Day is Thursday, October 16. Should I get my boss something? If so, how much should I spend?

Whoa, sorry, Terrence, I only write this column once a week, so I didn't give you very much time to shop. You may have to spring for overnight delivery. Boss's Day may seem like a made-up, card-company holiday, but it is indeed a real thing. Back in 1958, Patricia Bays Haroski suggested the day to honor her dad, who was also her boss at State Farm Insurance in Deerfield, Illinois. And his birthday was... October 16. "Oh, first her dad gives her a job, and now she wants to make his birthday a national holiday," someone probably uttered.

Still, it was a pretty decent idea, because being the boss can often be thankless: a lot of responsibility and tough decisions, plus people act all weird around you. So, if you think your boss is doing an OK job and doesn't treat you like dirt, sure, acknowledge it. But what to get and how much to spend? Always remember: The boss earns more money than you do. So don't overdo it; generosity should be flowing in the opposite direction. A greeting card can really be sufficient. (It is the thought that counts.) If you want to step up to a gift (for the holidays or a birthday, etc.), put a little effort into it -- what are your boss's hobbies? -- but don't spend a lot of money. That could make the boss uncomfortable, which is the reverse of what you're trying to do.

Delia says:

I wrote a novel and I need to print it out. Is there an ethical way that I can use the office printer and pay back the company for ink and paper?

A) Congrats on your novel, that's great! B) Jeez, while I would love to read it and I'm sure it's fantastic, I am kind of busy right now -- my Goldendoodle has a bad rash and that's taking up most of my time. Ah, but I always have time for printer-ethics questions! If you work in a very small office, you can pull this off. Tell the boss you need to print out a bunch of pages for a personal matter and ask if you can kick in a few bucks for toner and paper. Give the boss an easy out; make it clear that you're totally happy to go to the local office superstore to do this. The boss may say not to worry about it, no money necessary, and voilà, you're ethically in the clear.

Ah, but not so fast -- I also want you to tell a white lie! Say that the project is for your cousin/kid/significant other. You do NOT want to put the idea in your boss's head, of you writing this giant book (or any ream-length project). Were you writing it during working hours? Were you thinking about it when you should be concentrating on your job? Are you going to quit when you make it big? There's no reason to allow these questions to enter the boss's brain, when you were trying to be an upstanding employee in the first place!

At a big company, there's really no system in place for you to do the ethical printing thing. Office supplies are handled by massive corporate accounts and they don't want your crummy eight bucks. Maybe you can have a slightly cleaner conscience if you just print a few pages every day?

Last week's Ask Jack questions

Do you have a work-related question for Jack? Write it in the comments below (better answers to this week's questions are also welcome!) or tweet it @AOLJobs with the hashtag #AskJack.

Jack's Job of the Week

Be like Patricia Hays Haroski and work at State Farm! You could be a mortgage consultant in Tempe, Arizona! Or an automobile estimator/appraiser in Kenner, Louisiana! The fact is, there are State Farm openings all over the country currently listed on AOL Jobs, and that's just one company. Find the perfect job for you by doing a search today. We're always here, like a pretty-good neighbor.

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