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>Dating and the Workplace

14 Jan


Is it morally acceptable to date a colleague – or even worse – your boss? At work a certain standard of professionalism is to be maintained. Colleagues rarely turn into friends. It is a different kind of relationship. One that ends with your shift. Or does it? Once you allow a colleague to step into your private life, confusion ensues. That professional relationship between two colleagues or a boss and an employee is easily disrupted when business and pleasure amalgamate.

A drink, a dinner, a breakfast in a foreign house. The start of a new relationship is exciting enough without the complications of being involved with someone from work. Couples usually separate after their morning routine and are reunited after a busy day at the office. But for the work place love affair it is only the beginning. It is the ultimate test. To be around each other constantly, intensely.

Hour after hour. Breathing in his perfume as he leans over your desk to clarify an issue beyond your expertise or walking past him on the hall way as your eyes meet and you reminisce the magic of the previous night. Your conversation is light – casual. ”How are you? Are you busy today?” No sign of the passion you know is slithering underneath the surface. It is a convincing mask of good behaviour. It is tempting to glance at his desk every so often. Your favourite distraction. Just to catch a glimpse of that smile.

But you are different people here. Not lovers, holdings hands and an embrace of souls. But two people reaching for the brightest star of the career ladder. Working together, sleeping together. Yay or nay? One might argue that a tension arises after that first night. How are we to act at work? Will we reveal our romantic attachment to one another or will it be a clandestine love affair? Who are we to tell? Friends? Maybe. Family? Maybe. No one? Might be best. Who do we trust? Many opt for secrecy over honesty. Why? They might not understand. They might disapprove. They will talk.

The more important he is the more they will gossip as if you were characters from a soap opera or the next door neighbour known for her promiscuity. So a distance is created between the two lovers. For the sake of work. The truth is covered up with an indifference that can be confused with estrangement. At least one of the two will be unhappy with the neglect that follows. Whether it is worth it, is another question.

What is more important: your relationship or your job? And then there is the inevitable finding out. No secret can be kept forever. There is always that one chance encounter with a colleague one cannot avoid. And then it’s all over. ”You’ll never guess who I just saw at the cafe.”

And how will you deal with the fact that your relationship is the hottest topic of conversation amongst colleagues? The whispers, the looks. Your private life exposed. Do you even want to know what they think? Probably not. But a small part of you cannot help but be curious. And what if the boss is the man you love? Some might consider it inappropriate to date a superior. They might wonder if it is that promotion you seek rather than love. And it is somewhat unusual for your lover to correct your mistakes, not to mention awkard. But a necessary evil. The day ends and the embarrassment fades.

When the two lovers walk home after work, chatting about difficult customers or issues that had to be resolved, they switch roles upon entering the apartment. Work leaves the conversation and more often than not, the conversation makes way for passion. He unbuttons your coat and nuzzles your ear as you clumsily remove your boots and sit upon the bed, waiting for him to join you.

Gone is that common interest that dominates your discourse: Work. It’s dating by association. All that remains now is the will to be close to him. For his hands to explore your body and keep you warm. For the night to stay so morning will not transport you back to that workplace of indifference. But it will. Ready yourself.

>The Audition of Life

8 Jan


                                              Auditions in TV-show Glee

Do you think auditions are only held in showbiz? Think again. To quote a very wise man: “All the world is a stage and the men and women are merely players. There are exits and entrances and a man plays many parts.” That’s your daily dose of Shakespeare right there. And how right he is. Let us contemplate this concept for a moment. What events might warrant the label audition? A date, where there is but one judge and a picky one at that. The tiniest error can be rewarded with the real life version of being voted off. Something stuck between your teeth? Your laugh gets scary when you’re nervous? It can all be the last straw. But at least a date is a mutual audition. The power is divided 50/50. That’s not too bad.

Other auditions might let you be judged by several people. There’s round one, two or even three. It’s Working Girl Idol without the catchy theme song. In a way, it resembles a pageant. You’re asked questions and the answers you so nervously and tremulously provide might not be the ones they’re looking for. A job hunt is a merciless process. The job market is a dangerous jungle where evil predators lurk in every corner. Sometimes you mistake a tiger for a squirrel and end up being stomped on and bossed around for weeks on end. And that is assuming you get the job you thought you wanted. The interview itself is mostly a reminder of how many candidates out there are better than you, more experienced than you, prettier than you or more confident than you.

So what’s worse than a job interview? That question inevitably leads us back to where we started; in showbiz. Dancers, actors, singers. They’ve all been there. There’s a room full of people, making notes (or drawing stick figures more like…) and looking important. In films these scenes always contain different kind of ”judges”:

* The nerdy judge with glasses who must’ve accidentally wandered into the audition room since he’s either a math professor or computer wiz.
* The friendly looking female, young, pretty and with a huge smile plastered on her face.
* The grumpy old man looking forward to his retirement or Ibiza holiday.

In films, the audition scene is the conclusion of years of struggle and training. Will he/she make it? In real life, the audition is only the beginning. What happens when a date goes well? Is the relationship any easier? Is it not too a test? And if you get that job, how will you get on with your colleagues? Every relationship is an audition. Sometimes we reach round two and sometimes we don’t even make it to the start button on the stereo, indicating it has begun. Judges are always around. Sometimes they reward us with a raise at work. Other times we get a plate thrown at us like a faulty boomerang. A compliment will help us fit in. And we know how certain behaviour will make us popular. How? Secondary school never ends. The audition for popularity continues.

Picture the cafeteria. All those tables. All those social classes. Geeks, preps, stoners, class clowns, jocks, intellectuals, gangsters, etc. We think that the social class system ends on graduation. But does it? Is the workplace really that different? Just think back to lunch hour. A man walks in and instantly he is beckoned to join several others. Why? Status, reputation. Whatever you prefer to call it. Some people are likable. And those inferior to him would like to surround themselves with such people, hoping it will rub off on them. But what even makes them inferior? In my experience, they mostly lack the sense of humour a truly popular employee needs to maintain his position. They are the preps of the workplace. Talkative, loud, chuckling men who don’t shy away from R-rated humour. And those men/women more reserved and silent who’d rather read than chat…they could be called the adult equivalent of geeks. Shy individuals with a lot on their mind. Not friendless, but not the centre of attention. And to them, that’s just fine.