porcelainandporcupines

Archive for November 2013

While it makes sense to me that people might start a relationship with a co-worker, I’ve always been somewhat amazed by couples who work together. I’m at least partially aware that working together would not entail literally spending the entire work day together, yet the idea of spending that much time with any one person is, frankly, exhausting. One of the very few things I still enjoy about working on Saturdays is that it’s an entire day that I have to myself; if I had to share that day with someone, and then had to go and spend even more time with them later? They’d already know how amazing my Saturday was, which would really limit my conversational options.

Of course, in addition to bringing your relationship into the workplace, you’re also bringing the workplace into your relationship. By which I mean coworkers; and, though it is undoubtedly wonderful to be able to bask in the reflected glow of admiration in the eyes of your coworkers because of the purity of your love, nothing travels through a workplace like word of romantic woes that are none of anyone’s business. This was something I learned many years ago, when Vanessa sleeping with Sharon’s boyfriend rocked the call center where we all worked.

I should clarify that Vanessa and Sharon’s boyfriend did not actually sleep together. But this is a family blog, and to accurately describe the activities in which they engaged might pose a risk to my PG-13 rating.  Euphemistically, it could be said that they engaged in some adult conversation, wherein Sharon’s boyfriend was on the receiving end of quite a lecture.

How all of this came about, I can’t exactly say. The talk itself happened at a function that was work-adjacent. I myself wasn’t present for the event, in either the macro or micro sense, but instead found out about through my roommate, who was also a coworker, and was both at said function and was somehow present enough to overhear the conversation between Jordan and Vanessa. Although I am, unfortunately, unable to forget how impressed he was with Jordan’s capacity for listening (Jordan being Sharon’s boyfriend,) even at the time of the telling, I did not quite understand how it all happened to come about, and so cannot share that with you now.

What I do remember is how carefully eager everyone at work was to share what they knew. I very clearly recollect smoking with Tracey in the parking lot behind the building, me sitting on the fire escape and her standing not quite beside it, each of us trying to delicately figure out what the other person knew, each fairly certain that what we knew was worse, and, realizing that we both knew, finally unburdening ourselves of the secret we had kept for less than 24 hours.

What I also remember is that, despite this being an oft-mentioned secret in the call center, we never actually shared that we knew what we knew with the people we knew it about. This was a decision I was not entirely comfortable with: on the one hand, it seemed like Sharon might benefit from knowing that, not only was her boyfriend a titanic sack of crap, he also did not have the basic good sense of even the dumbest animal who knows not to shit where it eats; on the other hand, as the supervisor, it seemed inappropriate to involve myself in any kind of personal shenanigan that happened outside the workplace, adulterous or otherwise. No matter how often it might come up in conversation.

(I was going to include a link to a description of “subtweet” in that last sentence, but it turns out I didn’t actually know what a subtweet is. Man, the lingo today; it is so fetch.)

And it only grew more difficult not to blurt out what I knew as time went on. Although Jordan was not someone with whom I’d generally ever socialized; and Vanessa had been widely shunned even prior to her talk with Jordan, what with her seemingly below-average intelligence, her weird walk like she always breaking in a new pair of shoes, and the fact that she never, ever, ever pushed in her chair when she got up from her desk; Sharon had a sociability that her perfidious paramour lacked, and quickly became a regular part of the workplace social scene.

Which was awkward. Because a lot of Sharon’s conversation was devoted to things that Jordan did and things that Jordan said. And under the barrage of her evidently boundless admiration for Jordan and the way he lived his life, it grew increasingly difficult not to point out that, in addition to his manly feats of strength, or whatever it was that she was going on about, he had also slept with Vanessa.

After one particularly lengthy conversation with Sharon, in which I’d heroically bitten my tongue for no less than 45 minutes, I confided to the closest thing our group had to an adult – DS – the trouble I was having. DS understood; he cared about Sharon too, and it was getting harder for him not to tell her as well. I nodded quietly; DS was wise.

Except, secretly, DS did not understand. Although he was wise – let there be no confusion about that. It’s just that, through talking to him, what I realized was is that, secretly, deep down, I’m a terrible person. I didn’t want to tell Sharon because I cared about her; what I wanted was for her to shut up. Because it was annoying, how wrong she was about Jordan, and it was annoying to have to take part in an endless conversation that was a lie, and it seemed like the most effective way to put a stop to it was to tell her about the time Vanessa blew Jordan’s trumpet, and then stand back as the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

Even considering that I didn’t actually do it, I’m still not terribly proud of that impulse. Fortunately for me, Sharon and Jordan eventually moved to California, and I did not have to unleash any WMDs just to change the subject. Of course, on the down side, I never did find out what is the limit of annoyance I can take; there’s still a chance that, someday, I might crack.

(And I apologize for that trumpet comment; I just couldn’t find a good video for “talked his ear off.”)

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