Meet the co-workers

Have you ever felt your co-workers are gossiping behind your back?

I mean, I really have to wonder about what kind of image I have at work. You spend enough time at a place and sooner or later you’re going to hook up with a co-worker, right? Or two. Or three… I think I stopped at two. And that one of them had quit by then. Actually, if you want to get technical, maybe three, if you count the woman I met through a work Christmas party who used to work here. But I digress.

So anyway, maybe the office gossips have nothing better to talk about, or maybe I’m just paranoid. But it seems to me my personal life comes under more than its fair share of scrutiny. This is one of the hazards of being single, or having been single for a period of time; the Not-so-smug Marrieds have nothing better to do then speculate. And since the office is filled with married folks and breeders, the talk turns to my extracurricular activities.

To wit: last Saturday night I brought the Texas Twister to a work function, a barbecue at the Point Grey house (with a million-dollar view of the city) of the former publisher of the paper I write for, in honour of the retirement of our former editor. I guess by then rumours had been swirling that I was seeing someone–not too long ago, the assistant editor had outright asked me, for instance. However, most of my co-workers at this barbecue had the decency to not treat the Twister like a lab specimen. Not so the former editor, a grizzled veteran of the newspaper game and an ex-Albertan (cowboy hats and cattle farms, stampedes and oil). “So,” he said, sitting between the Twister and I as we consumed our burgers a couple hours into the party. “You know about Shawn, don’t you?” He proceeded to imply that I sleep around a lot, that one-night stands are standard procedure for me, and that I suffer from severe flatulence. (Only one of these charges is true.) A little bit later, another co-worker sidled up to the Texas Twister. “You’re the first girl that Shawn has introduced as his girlfriend instead of just his friend.”

Now, I know that she meant well, but I was in for a severe tongue-lashing from the Twister on our way to the car after the party. Being somewhat tipsy, she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was exactly she was angry about, but certainly I felt like my image had been tarnished. There was a lot of “What Sandra meant to say was…” and “What Mick really meant was…” Nonetheless, I did get slugged at one point. (The Twister has been getting into the habit of punching me. I’m sure I bring it on myself.)

Then, a few nights after the barbecue, a more official retirement party was held for our former editor. At this one, an office gossip from Upstairs (we have a very Upstairs/Downstairs structure where I work; Upstairs is Production, Sales, and Party Planning) asked me if that had been my girlfriend she’d seen me with at the barbecue. When I said Yes, she asked how long we’d been seeing each other. When I told her, she said, “She seems young.” Uhm, can you be a little more subtle? I thought. “Younger than some,” I replied, “older than others.” I was being purposely cagey; this was, after all, the woman who had informed upon me once to someone I was dating about what a terror I was to the virtue of the office womanhood.

Also at this more official retirement party, my former boss came over and asked if the Twister was still seeing me. “Yes,” I said. “No thanks to you.”

He smiled beneath his Grecian Formula’d beard. “I was helping you,” he said. “Making you seem like a bad boy. Girls like that.”

Considering he probably did more good than harm in the long run, maybe there was a reason he was once the editor, after all.

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August 2008
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