Other People’s Problems: Ambivalent Office Sexts

Photo: Gluekit

In the history of workplace ethics and etiquette, November 9, 2012 is a date which will live in infamy. Today the incoming C.E.O. of Lockheed Martin was asked to resign over an improper relationship with a subordinate. An Atlanta woman filed a complaint against her employer, the C.E.O. of Waffle House, citing a decade of sexual harassment. An extra-marital affair with a reporter reportedly cost David Petraeus, “a military leader with few equals,” his job as C.I.A. director. But long before the Friday afternoon resignation, in the timeline of a life-unraveling affairs, there is a moment of hesitation. Sometimes it’s recorded in an anonymous query to an advice columnist. See workplace sex scandals unfold in this week’s installment of Other People’s Problems, our round-up and ranking of newspaper and magazine advice columns. 

Least Sexy Sext, Dear Abby

Unless it’s on the company BlackBerry. (Risky.)

There is a man at work I’m very attracted to. He seems to be equally attracted to me. The problem is, he has shown me two pictures of his privates that he has on his cellphone. When he did it, it wasn’t completely out of context of our conversation and our interest in each other. We do not have a physical relationship (yet), but I’m considering it.

Most Inevitable Infidelity, Ask Amy

It’s hard to divorce your work wife.

I am a happily married man in my mid-40s. There is a lady that works in the same office, and we visit with each other several a day. She is also married. We have been very friendly for a few years; we confide in each other about work stuff, and we sometimes phone and text small tidbits of information after work. Occasionally, we will have lunch or grab a cocktail after work. We have never been romantic. I know there is “chemistry” between us, and I know she recognizes this as well. I have noticed a growing closeness between us, but I have never addressed this issue.

Grossest Misunderstanding of Holiday Spirit, Miss Manners

Was the first Thanksgiving feast prix fixe or à la carte?

Last year, I asked my husband’s sister, who was having the family Thanksgiving dinner at her house, what I could bring. She insisted that it was easier for her to do it all herself and that we should just give her money. I offered two more times to bring something, but she only wanted money. My husband did not agree and did not pay her when we ate at her house. When we arrived home, my husband’s other sister called, screaming at him for not paying up. This year, we would like to avoid being treated like deadbeat customers, but I’m not sure how we could best do so.

Most Industrious Re-Gifter, Dear Abby

At least she’s not hoarding?

I have a close friend who is obsessed with selling “finds” on eBay. I often give her little items that she has mentioned she liked – or outright asked for. I always thought she wanted to keep them for herself. Recently I saw some of the things I gave her for sale under her eBay account. I am dismayed that she is taking advantage of my generosity to make a few bucks. No, she is not desperate. And no, I don’t feel comfortable saying something unless it’s clever and I won’t appear to be jealous or petty.

Scam of the Week, Dear Abby

Unethical and untraceable.

I have a friend, “Dick,” who wears veteran hats – “Vietnam Vet,” “Proud to Be a Marine,” etc. – that imply he was in the service. The problem is, Dick was never in any branch of the military at any time. Dick claims he’s “honoring” them by wearing the hats. But when he goes into a restaurant or other place that offers military discounts, he always inquires about them. And he has never refused the offer of one or admitted he wears the slogans only to honor others and was never actually in the service himself.

Most Preciously Anxious Tween, Ask Amy

Worried his smart phone is ruining a relationship.

I am 13 and have the best dog ever. He usually follows me around the house, and mopes when I’m gone. He hasn’t been following me around the house as much lately, and has been acting kind of mopey. I believe this is because I recently got a smartphone. I am worried that I have been spending too much time on it and not giving him enough attention. He’s only 5, and he’s healthy. I love this dog with all my heart and am saddened by the thought that he might feel that I don’t love him.

The David Lynchian Cubicle Dweller, Dear Abby

She can’t spell her name and moans seductively.

I work in a cubicle in close proximity to my co-workers. I can’t help but hear everything. A co-worker who sits next to me is driving me crazy. She spells her name wrong to customers every day, 20 times a day. She also makes seductive moans during the day. I almost want to peek over the cubicle to see what she’s doing. When I have mentioned to her that perhaps she must spell her name so often to customers because she’s spelling it wrong in the first place, her retort is, “No, I don’t!” Everyone in the office can hear her, too. They think it’s funny.

Oldest Victim of Slut-Shaming, Carolyn Hax

Will it never end?

I always thought “aging gracefully” meant having a good attitude about the inevitable, annoying and sometimes disgusting aspects of aging. I have a friend who seems to interpret aging gracefully as behaving in what she considers an age-appropriate way. I’m living with the attitude that at my age (66), I’ve earned the right to do what I want if I’m not hurting anyone else. My friend has expressed disapproval of me for: coloring my hair, getting Botox for my forehead, running in races, wearing fitted clothes (even though I am thin), letting my tattoo show, taking Zumba classes, etc. I see these as differences in personal preferences, not as violations of some unwritten rules. Still, she has me wondering. Am I making a fool of myself? Are people laughing at me behind my back? 

Other People’s Problems: Ambivalent Office Sexts