It’s so awkward to date someone at work. Dating is already synonymous with “awkward,” but throw in forty hours per week in close spatial relations with your, well, relations, and you may have a recipe for social hiccups.
Case in point: This morning on the train.
Cranky, sick me couldn’t focus on the book I was reading, but did rather enjoy eavesdropping on the scene that played out next to me.
A man and a woman–around my age, maybe younger, maybe older–stood next to me at the train doors. He leaned against the doors and she leaned into him, arms around his waist. They kept kissing, acting snuggly—clearly in Friday morning post-coital bliss. He talked about how he hoped he had an extra shirt at the office because he was wearing the same thing he’d worn the day before. At first they seemed like a couple—but then it became clear: They were coworkers.
The two work at Univision, in the sales department from what I gathered, and had spent the evening drinking with co-workers. When the coast was clear (him even telling one guy point-blank to get lost) stumbled drunkenly back to her place on the Upper East Side. He suggested that maybe he could borrow a shirt from one of the guys at work. “No, no!” she cried, giggling. “We will find you a shirt some other way. Not from someone at the office.” The conversation about the shirt went back and forth for a few beats, but when the train stopped at 86th Street, the guy’s attention when right to the boarding passengers.
“Jo!” he said, excitedly, causing the girl he’d been kissing to step aside. The groggy girl and her friend looked at him and then she gave a semi-enthusiastic “Hiiii!”
Jo had been a co-worker of the guy back when they worked at Yahoo! (yes, I eavesdropped on the whole thing. I might also add that the guy was carrying a Yahoo! messenger bag and was wearing his sunglasses on the train). The guy introduced the girl he’d been kissing as his “friend.” Not his co-worker, not his girlfriend… his friend. I could feel the girl’s animosity radiating off of her. I don’t know what else you would have called the girl in relation to the guy. But he proceeded to completely ignore the girl and carried on a conversation with Jo for the entire train ride.
The guy lives in a duplex that he’d bought in New Jersey–apparently with an awesome terrace. So, obviously, there was a reason he was riding downtown on the 6 train with a girl from the Upper East Side–they spent the night together. Duh! Can you please talk about something other than your old jobs now? If it were me in his shoes, I probably wouldn’t have acknowledged my former coworker until I was a few stops away from where I’d be getting off. Or at least have told the person I was with and then called out to him or her. I don’t know — is there etiquette for riding the subway with your Thursday-night-hook-up—slash—co-worker? The situation really just screamed “He’s just not that into you!”
I think what was most uncomfortable about the whole situation (speaking strictly as an observer) was how the guy and Jo just stood there and talked about their old jobs and the people they had in common—lots of old gossip about how much “drama” there was at Yahoo!, and not including the other two girls in their conversation.
I did appreciate when the hook-up girl, arms crossed over her chest, said, “You’d better not bring that drama to Univision.” I laughed inwardly, and thought to myself, “Oh girl, you already did by bringing him home last night.”
The conversation content really dropped off after about five minutes (this is a fifteen minute train ride and the whole thing seemed to last thirty). Then there was the awful space-filling “So, wow, haven’t seen you in a long time.” “Hey, where do you work now?” (for the fifth time). “So, do you still speak to so-and-so?” And then the regressing into, “Oh my god, I hate this guy’s girlfriend.” Odd, awkward subway chatter.
There really wouldn’t be a good way to handle this particular social situation. But I could definitely tell that hook-up girl was not happy. The Univision couple got off at Grand Central, same as me, and I walked up the stairs behind them. Her body language was cold and frustrated. It was obvious that she really liked him when they first got on the train, and by the time they’d gotten off (heh heh) she was thoroughly annoyed.
Sage words of advice: Do not hook up with coworkers.
(And if you do, don’t go to work together in the morning.)