Monday, February 8, 2010

WorkPlace 101: The WorkPlace Mistress.

My Grandaddy always said "don't buy your meat where you get your bread", and my limited waaay-pre-marital experience with dating on the job proved the old man right. It's just too messy when things inevitably go bad.

[Editor's Note: As a general rule of thumb, I don't cheat on my wife, nor do I date people I work with. Just want to make sure that's clear.]

Still, it's perfectly natural for people to become attracted to folks they work with. There's the familiarity developed by working with/around someone for 40+ hours a week. There's ample opportunity to go to lunch and happy hours. There's the personal "what's going on in your life?" chatter that breaks the mundane pattern of the workday grind. The term "work wife/husband" has been officially coined by spouses to describe "that other person" their partner spends a majority of time with when not at home.

Inevitably, this often leads to people taking that attraction to the next level, and inevitably these people are sometimes married. Which leads to a very uncomfortable situation for fellow co-workers. Just how do you look the other way and pretend two married colleagues aren't gettin' it on in that empty conference room at the end of the hall?

In my office, we had two married employees who carried on a longtime affair. It was blatantly obvious to even the casual observer, even though they both tried (unsuccessfully) to keep it on the DL. The guy was pretty smooth about his, but the woman simply had no tact whatsoever. She would make googly eyes whenever he walked into the employee break room, and be outwardly icy to everyone else when they were not getting along well. Can you say "awk-ward"?

Perhaps nastiest of all, they'd both often go downstairs in the underground parking lot, to his 70's style van (you know, the ones that would have beds and a wet bar in the back, along with drapes and curtains) at lunchtime, and return to our afternoon staff meeting smelling like BaDussy. That, was not cool. Unless I'm personally responsible for creating it, BaDussy is a pretty repulsive scent.

This went on for at least 5-6 years, and all along, I wondered if their spouses had any idea what everyone else in the office was well-aware of. How could it be possible to hide such a thing? When we had our annual Christmas party, it was like an inside joke. I really hated it for both their spouses, but it was none of my business.

At some point, they broke the relationship off. The woman got divorced (and remarried), the guy is still with his wife of many decades. Their in-office interaction is pretty much back to normal nowadays, and neither allowed this distraction to hold them back professionally. Still, I often wonder if they see each other in the copy room, and think about going downstairs to that old van and gettin' it in.

Question: Do you know of anyone who's had a WorkPlace Affair? How did the others in the office respond to this?

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