Kids, most people I know met and fell in love at work and some of them truly did live happily ever after but for every success story, there are also ugly-as-all hell tales of office romances gone awry.
At first glance, it makes sense that you’ll fall for a co-worker – you spend 8 to 10 hours in their company, you have shared interests (aka slagging off the boss from hell) and well, familiarity breeds chemistry, to paraphrase a popular quote.
How do I know this, you ask? Well, my loves, because I wasn’t above falling for my cubicle partner a time or two myself…
September 2007 …
Davis was a slender-framed, green herb smoking, alcohol-loving, sleeping-on-the-job PR writer at the TV station I worked at and for the better of my first two months at the company, I ignored his lazy butt.
The thing, though, is I have a weakness for the sensitive, artsy, sarcastic type and one email about some or other show lead to several others, which lead to some inappropriate flirting both online and in the office kitchen. Before you knew it, I was actually looking forward to going into the office everyday…
Since I was still scarred from my first run-in with Mr Heartbreak Guy, I was too shy to make the first move and so was Davis. It took us ages to start having secret lunches and walks together or to even admit there was something going on between us, much to our older co-worker’s dismay who would randomly shout out to Davis, across our open plan office after one too many longing stares; “Why don’t you just take her on your desk already?!”
Yes, I know, “Eeuwww, Mom!”
Anyway, as I was saying – it took us ages to get anywhere. Eventually, six months later, during one of our “lunches”, I decided to pull on my big girl panties by making my feelings known. Like any guy, though, if you talk feelings, they balk and I didn’t want that happening so I posed a hypothetical question to Davis in the form of “what would you say if I told you I am really, really, REALLY into you?”
After what seemed like the Ice Age had come and gone again, Davis eventually replied with a “Hypothetically speaking, I’d tell you that I really, really, REALLY like you too but I am a recovering addict and I don’t want to hurt you so we can’t happen. You deserve better.”
Man, for even a hypothetical confession and rejection, that s*** stung for a good while and our secret lunches came to an abrupt end, along with the onset of glacial courtesies (What? I was 22-years-old, maturity wasn’t exactly my strong suit then!) and avoidance whenever possible. Meetings were fraught with tension, people vacated the kitchen as soon as one of us walked in after the other and our mutual work friends quickly learnt not to invite us to Friday day drinks together.
Two months later, Davis dropped the bomb that he was resigning. I was gutted because I still really liked him but also so bloody relieved because I’d since discovered it wasn’t the addiction issues keeping him from dating me – it was the IT bimbo he had been having a flirtation with for a year before I had started working at the company. Jerk!
To make a long story short, I walked Davis out of the building on his last day and of course, a long, sweet goodbye kiss for old times’ sake ensued … I may or may not have even shed some tears.
Which were wasted, because Davis’s new office was right next door, and so run-ins at the local Spar were inevitable.
What pissed me off more than anything was that he thought that now that he worked at different company, and had kissed me, all was forgiven and we would pick up where we’d left off. Uh, how about hell no?!
More than once I’d run into him with the IT bimbo by his side, and the rejection would hit me all over again. I vowed to never, EVER let Cupid’s Arrow find me at work until …
Seven years later and I still hadn’t learnt my bloody lesson about mixing work with pleasure!
Kevin was the quintessential office jerk – major attitude with all of the ladies, mostly because he had tried and failed to chat them up or those he had succeeded with, had dumped him in less than a New York minute.
Now, and I am sure your dad has told you this, I am a big flirt. If it helps me get things done faster, freebies, all of the chocolate I can devour etc, I will charm the pants off anything that moves. Your Uncle Tendai and Magical Wyrdo Godmother Leo say everything that comes out of my mouth sounds like a come-on and I am the female equivalent of Friends’ Joey ( I have yet to hear this myself, but I’ll take their word for it!)
And for several months, in order to get my best work buddies and I access to all of Kevin’s series and movies, I flirted with him like there was no tomorrow.
Friends tried to feel him out, to see if he was interested in me too and for a while, things looked promising but then he got back together with his cheating ex and whilst my ego was bruised, I decided to focus on wrapping up my days at the company (I’d resigned and was off to bigger and better things). Gone were the “emergencies” I needed Mr Man to help me with and I stopped making frequent trips to the 12th floor. On my last day, I did slip Kevin my number and told him to call me when he was single again …
Fast forward to a month after I’d left, and Kevin and I found each other together in a club, a matchmaking scheme not-so-subtly arranged by your Uncle T.
There was dancing and drinking aplenty and sparks were flying like an Independence Day fireworks display… things were getting heated, fast. At some point, T disappeared, as did the other couple we were partying with and Kevin and I found ourselves alone.
The old “let’s get out of here” line was flung around and I was all for it, until we hit the sidewalk and I sobered up considerably.
“What are you doing, woman?” I thought to myself, “This man has a girlfriend and you deserve better than being a bed warmer for a former co-worker for one night. Go home now – ALONE!”
So, as much it pained both me and the sexy jackass, I left him standing on the sidewalk and off I went, much to my cab driver’s chagrin: “Really, lady? You’re going to leave your partner standing to attention in all of the intimate places like that?”
Cape Town cabbies really need to mind their own business ….
Who’s the boss?
I thought I was alone in this work romance quandary until a friend of mine told me her horror story. Alyssa worked at a thriving tourism attraction, rocking her creative style on campaigns and content when the MD of her company started paying “special” attention to her.
It started off small with them being mistaken as a couple at an industry event and him liking the sound of it too much, thereafter always referring to her as his “wife” at the office. Then came his overzealous interest in her social media and weekend activities, mentioning these things to her every opportunity he got. At one point, during an event, he called her “babes”… way out of line, dude.
Alyssa was not responding to his advances because a) he wasn’t her type, b) he was married and c) he was her big boss, for gods ‘sake – it just wasn’t appropriate! The more she resisted him, the more he pursued her until eventually she left the company, thinking that would put an end to things.
Not f***ing likely! Not only did he show up for her farewell lunch, which he’d never done for anyone else, he also kept up the inappropriate flirting when they’d run into each other at networking functions in the months that followed.
Things settled down when Alyssa made it clear she was involved with someone else and had absolutely no interest in her former MD – getting a rep as a homewrecker and a rising star who only got to the top by sleeping with the boss wasn’t something she wanted.
A lesson I took to heart and steered way clear of.
Besides, as you’ve probably guessed, your father was not my boss or my office hottie … the hunt continues!