Harrass this, you PC bastards

When I recently whored myself for more topics, Grover Flanagan asked this:

Ooh! Ooh! I’ve got one! A new girl just started at work. She’s either as tall or just a bit taller than I am, cute as hell, and built like a brick house. (what a winning hand!) I’ve introduced myself, but have no idea where else to go from here. Afraid I’d be far too obvious (never been Mr. Subtle) if I tried to strike up any further conversation.

How about some do’s and don’t’s on workplace flirtation in this harrassment-sensitive age.

Oh, boy. Harrassment.

Could there be any greater reason why less people than ever before are getting laid? What are we to do without the always-fun office fuck? My God! As if dating was hard before, now there’s this bullshit to contend with? Why not just thrust us all into fucking monasteries and nunneries and leave it at that? Jesus.

Harrassment laws have their place, but why in the hell has zero-tolerance had to enter the equation? What the fuck is wrong with “Hey, wanna get a drink tonight?”

Nothing, says I. Fuck that shit.

I say you ought to just ask the woman for a drink. I think there’s nothing wrong with asking. It’s what happens after the asking that’s the issue.

If she says no, then you back off. If she says yes, then when you’re on the date you need to guage how it’s going and have an actual conversation about your attraction to her before you proceed with anything physical. You need to talk about what will be the fall-out at the office and how you need to deal with each other in that environment as opposed to outside of the office.

So, asking, not a problem. It’s everything after that which complicates matters. Is there a no dating policy in the workplace? No? Then that’s a good first step. If there is, then you’ll need to learn to keep your mouth shut about things, won’t you?

Since there’s a million ways that part of the scenario can go, I won’t even go there.

Fact is, the workplace offers a lot of insights into people that we don’t normally get exposed to until far further in the relationship — insights that might’ve been a dealbreaker or dealmaker if we’d known of them earlier in the game.

Do they get grumpy easily? Do their moods flip like a fish out of water? Do they buckle under stress? Are they curt and offensive when they’re having a bad moment? Have they always got a smile, regardless of the adversity they face? Are they thoughtful and generous?

But back to the question of harrassment. I think most people in society are pretty cool with knowing what constitutes harrassment and what doesn’t. Personally, I always enjoyed pushing the envelope back when I was in an office. I’d occasionally let a dirty joke slip or might’ve made a comment about a blowjob to a male coworker, just to see what the reaction would be. And it never got the kind of reaction I suspected, and never caused issues. So while the laws may be strict on paper, the reality is that people tend to be a little more flexible. This will vary workplace to workplace, but it comes down to the same babysteps most adventures require: Start small, and if it’s received well, take a slightly larger step.

You seem like a pretty perceptive kinda guy, so I’d just run with that and see where it gets you. Fuck the rules.

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  1. T
    Posted September 22, 2005 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    From a legal perspective — there are three things you need to worry about — when flirting in the office. First — if your company has a no-fraternization policy. Second — hostile work environment (if your flirtation becomes so pervasive that it makes it impossible for her to work there, and mgmt. doesn’t care). Third — quid pro quo harassment (you are her supervisor, and threaten termination unless she puts out). Oddly enough, *rewarding* sex with promotion almost never creates a cause of action (paramour favoritism). So if you take ‘no’ for an answer, and aren’t her supervisor, you can flirt with impunity. That is, if you live in the US. If you live in Canada, as I now recognize that some people have chosen to do, I have no idea what you can/can’t do. But given what I hear about Canade, people talk about bjs in the office all the time, with the occasional orgy.

  2. jazz
    Posted September 22, 2005 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    keep us posted on where to read you at! we’re lemmings. we’ll follow you around.

    as for the office harrassment…any normal girl with a sense of humor should be able to take a dirty joke or even being flat out asked out…

    find a normal girl, you won’t have any problems!

  3. Grover
    Posted September 23, 2005 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for answering! Sometimes the best answer is the simplest. Ask her out. Problems:

    1) Until my soon-to-be-ex-wife moves in with her new man in November, it’d be weird trying to date anybody else. More than anything, I’m just trying to make occasional conversation with her until full autonomy and independence is reached in less than two months’ time.

    2) Chitchatting with her and the rest of the home decor department people, she mentioned that she’s talking to a guy in the Army who’s an Apache pilot. That’s hard to compete with. Am I, a humble merchandise assembler, doomed?

  4. T
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    In my experience, you are only doomed if you think you are doomed. Luckily for us lawyers, women don’t pick mates based solely upon their professions. He could be an Apache pilot who is a complete jerk (pilots are knows to have a weee bit of a problem with ego) or he could be really cool. Get to know her, chat with her, and when she comes to you and says, “Can you believe Apache pilot said/did X? Do you think he’s a jerk?” you can say, “I, personally, would never do something like that, I think you deserve to be treated better. But you probably shouldn’t listen to me, I have an ulterior motive. I was hoping to ask you out for dinner/drinks tonight.”

    Don’t use the word ulterior unless you normally would.

    I think its a pretty safe bet the Mr. Apache pilot is going to do something stupid sooner or later. And the time between now and then gives you the chance to get to know her better, so that the ultimate seduction will proceede smoothly.

  5. scribe called steff
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Oooh. Good advice, T.

    And frankly, Andy, I think it’s really silly to put off living until She moves out.

    Especially since she’s ALREADY got another man. Holding out seems silly.

    Most women have their own places, and the fact is, it’ll probably take a bit before anything happens anyways. But waiting for the competition to move in means you’ve got serious Darwinian survival challenges, my friend.

    I’m just saying.

  6. T
    Posted September 26, 2005 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    RE:Darwinian Survival

    Given the chance that Apache pilots look the same playing beach volleyball as top gun pilots do, yeah, waiting doesn’t help your chances of actually reproducing with this girl.

    But you mentioned that you aren’t known as Mr. Subtle. So there is another possibility — that she mentioned Mr. Apache Pilot (who in reality is some drunk ass with a photoshopped business card who unsuccessfully tried to pick her up in a bar) because she wants you to get off your ass and make the first move. Mr. Apache Pilot is just a ploy, in other words, to get you to move on her before she is ‘gone.’

    BTW, most armed forces pilots, because of their teeny teeny planes, aren’t all that tall, which may work in your favor. So get in there before some midget flyboy takes your girl.

  7. chunu
    Posted September 27, 2005 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Hmm, at my first job when I was seventeen I got absolutely blotto and made a crude remark/pass at one of my female friends at work — of course, I was so blotto that I could not remember making aforementioned comment, but when I heard about it on the Monday morning, I got a bit of a chip on my shoulder and it was only after a couple of immature glares in the direction of aforementioned former friend that I got called into the office for the whole verbal warning sexual harrassment talk.

    Ever since then my top three priorities at work around attractive colleagues has been 1. suppress, 2. suppress, 3. suppress. Of course, I am sure body language has given it away, but as long as I kept my mouth shut, I could pretend to be content with just friends.

    Of course, girl in office the last two months or so has stretched that policy of suppression the most it has been stretched in the last hmm twelve years. And of course, have a potential long distance thing going on as well — always the greatest fucking timing, scuse my French.

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