Romance At The Office

Although it’s Valentine’s Day, the purpose of this column is to put the kibosh on office romances. Unless the cutie in the next cubicle is your legally wedded mate for life!

Love may be in the air, and that’s great. Depending on where you are doing your breathing when the scent hits you.

Love may be where you find it. But not if you find it between working hours.

Most young men (and I assume most young women) are warned when entering the workforce not to mess around with coworkers. Or, especially, with bosses. Or if you are the boss, with a subordinate.

Nearly all of us have heard, or experienced, office romances. And seen their consequences. Not too long ago the head of a very prominent private charity was forced to resign for fooling around on the job. He had come from the top spot in a major federal agency where, employees say, he had a reputation for being indiscreet.

So how about some stories of office romances gone awry:

  • At a very high security agency in Maryland a mid-level official and one of his staff were observed making love in the agency parking garage. It was caught on tape, making it hard for him to deny it. He was given a choice, insiders say: Resign or call your wife – now. He made the call with his bosses listening in. Talk about embarrassing.
  • Or the time workers in a suburban agency heard desperate sounds coming from the restroom reserved for the handicapped. Several people stood outside, convinced that some poor soul was trapped or in trouble in an embarrassing position. Well, they were partly correct. When security broke down the door a couple, sans many items of clothing, turned out to be the noise-makers. The man was reprimanded, our source said, and the woman left shortly thereafter.
  • Then there was the early days of computers, when most offices used them for simple tasks, including internal e-mail. In a downtown organization those who were signed on were surprised to get an internal e-mail from one of their colleagues. It said something like: I’M REALLY SORRY ABOUT LAST NIGHT.

    Nobody knew what he was talking about. Then he sent another e-mail: THAT”S NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE.

    Still a mystery. Then…


    At that point everybody knew who was sending the e-mail. All eyes were on him as they watched a coworker, a young woman about his age, walk casually over to his desk, and say something to him, then leave. The e-mails stopped but of course the secret was out.

    Got a better one? A true tale of an office romance with comic overtones. Or a tragic ending. Bring ’em on.

    Nearly Useless Factoid

    On the one hand: One-third of companies in the United States have a policy forbidding romantic liaisons between co-workers. On the other hand: nearly four in 10 US workers ignore the ban. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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