OFFICE ROMANCES

 

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Office romance is as old as love itself. Its been brewed and given breathe in the high walls of office set ups and graced by likely and unlikely characters masquerading in formal dressing codes since way back. You’ll be shocked or rather amazed depending on which side of the conversation you sit, by the statistics of office coupling. A sizeable number of the workforce have at least on one occasion or another, succumbed to close office relations courtesy of the attraction magnetic pull triggered by long working hours. All be it for quenching lust or seeking genuine love, many get trapped by the blurred web of office affairs.

The interesting bit is, many employees find it annoying, naive and selfish to engage in office relations in as much as they’ve been in them too at some point in their careers. And, did you know women receive more shade than men when they fall prey to office romances. In fact, when women are perceived to be having a thing going on with their senior colleagues or immediate bosses its interpreted to as, a game of coercion for promotion in exchange of sexual favours in as much as, perhaps the woman didn’t make the first move.

But what makes staff vulnerable to these kind of relationships? You know, the more time people spend together, the more they become familiar with one another. The more familiarity grows the more comfortable they become with each other. The more comfortable two people are with one another, the higher the chances of them sharing about personal stuff. The more they share the more subconsciously they view themselves as a couple. While this unfolds the higher the chances colleagues will notice the chemistry in their friendship and start teasing them about it. Do you know so many relationships are cemented by the outside world in this context being office colleagues who start perceiving an office friendship as not just a platonic one!

Interestingly, 90% of office relationships are merely short term in nature. Very few pass the litmus test of leading to something tangible and worth writing home about. Short term meaning they span for less than a year but seemingly one year shelf life out ways many relationships in the outside world. Anyway, where were we; some office relationships die before they start or prior to making the first baby steps. Some vanish in the air before they get noticed by anybody. This is because they are built on sand and in haste. They are moulded by environmental factors and are circumstantial in nature. Meaning, the bigger chunk of the conversations around you two are basically about workplace stuff. Be it about your damn boss, office gossip and so forth. Such a relationship is not sustainable. Few have common values and shared interests outside of the office hence why they are chocked by nature. They say nature has humour.

Office relationships are annoying in the sense that, the consequences of the affair failing are dire. This is because colleagues get attracted by such pep talks doing round in the office corridors. And it’s never funny. They will dig in, gossips will crop up and allegations will be retold over and over again. If you are not careful, the information may even reach to your boss’s desk in very bad state and this may have a negative effect on your career. More harrowing, it might be against your company policy to engage in office relationships. Pleading that you were unaware will not save you but land you at the HR’s office only to be met with a gross misconduct warning letter if lucky not to be issued with a summary dismissal.

The most annoying thing with office relationships is that one tends to be chocked off by the partner. You see, you literally spend 40-45 hours in a week with him/her without even counting hours after you leave office. By the time you reach home there is nothing much to talk about since you’ve been bumping on each other on office corridors and worse still if you work in the same department, you might as well be summoned with the rest of your teammates by your immediate bosses for missing company targets or for poor performance. Moreover, you never can’t have your personal life and space since your spouse is always around you any day and time. And if he or she spots you being hugged ‘intimately’ by a colleague from the opposite gender, your guess is as good as mine how your evening will turn out to be like.

Office relations get over scrutinized by colleagues. Essentially, the pressure becomes too much and there tends to be a lot of public relations to be played especially when things aren’t working out well for both of you. Be it as it may, whether it’s a fling affair or a serious office relationship, a break up from this nature can be the worst of all nightmares you’ve ever grappled with. First of all, there is nothing like amicable breakups in office set ups. You recall my article on Amicable Breakups or Not. Well, it gets uglier by the day, nastier and leaves you dreadful. Office breakups leave you with a permanent punch on your face. They have the potential of making you lose your job or have a serious career take a beating and worst of all, get you paraded in court for allegations of sexual harassment. Before you hop in office affairs, appreciate that office romances and sexual harassment are intertwined and either of it can be used against you in a matter of time.

Plus, who is ready to work with his or her ex in the same office? On my previous post on Amicable Breaksups we delved deeply on the importance of cutting off exes from our lives. Now imagine, your ex being your colleague? Think of the emotional baggage that comes with breakups and ponder dropping at your ex’s desk to work on a particular task together that has a biting deadline. How awkward can that be! What’s more humiliating is helplessly watching your ex warm up to another relationship with another office colleague. Moreover, nature compels your office colleagues to take sides between you two depending on how loyal they are to each one of you. Eventually, such a workplace becomes a stress zone to work from. The thing is, we’ve got to be strategic and think straight with the right ‘head’ before jumping in to every relationship that presents itself right at our noses. We’ve got to think of the repercussions of the potential end even before we toy with the start.

Nevertheless, we all know of couples who’ve dated, gotten married and raised children still working in the same organizations. The thing is, its not a crime to harbor feelings for an office colleague as long as you do it with the right intent and having trusted your intuition. Life should be approached with an open mind and so should it also apply in an office set up. It’s highly important and healthy to make friends, network with colleagues and fuse into the array of office characters. However, boundaries must be set as the odds are clearly overwhelming.

 

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TET A TET WITH DAD

Dad & Son When a friend narrated to me how once in a while he teams up with his dad to cultivate some men talk in a bar, it took me back. It baffled and fascinated me at the same time. If my dad was alive today, would he call me at one of those lazy Saturday afternoons and be like –  “Hey, are you free, can we meet in town?” And I’d respond from the other end; “Oh sure, why not?” Why I’d be baffled is because my dad wouldn’t dare drink, smoke or act drank right in front of his children. If he was alive today and his sons having grown beards and clocking three decades, he’d perhaps be tempted to surprise us with one of those pep talks.

I’d meet him in a bar that has dignity and manners where old folks mostly retirees drink diligently listening to permeating country road music that would soothe even their bone marrow. Certainly, it would not be the same us listening to Man Not Hot lyrics as all they do is prick the ears – Pap, pap, ka-ka-ka! Skindiki screw pap-pap And a pu-pi-drrr-boom! Skya Du-du-ku-ku-pun-pun Poom-poom.  And it would be a man’s exclusive club kind of thing, not a dodgy, stuffy bar with half-naked lasses dancing exotically. By the way, such a rendezvous encounter would be next to rare to ever happen since normally the two of us would only have such talks when I visit home or during family meetings.  Anyway, back to the bar stuff. Here, the waiters would be decently dressed buttoning up their shirts to the last button and crowing it with a bow-tie and their skirts length being at the knee. This would be in sharp contrast to the usual ones we are used to, who parade their cleavages and upper thighs for whoever is interested in devouring them and wear high heals taller than their reputes. They’d also have different varieties of brandy and torts hedged along their handkerchief-long skirts to seductively convince you to sample them.

We’d sit in one of those isolated corners and delve in man to man talk as we pour down our throats some cold stuff after savouring on a fish fillet fingers meal served with tartar sauce and frozen wedged Nyandarua potatoes for late lunch. The only thing that would eavesdrop our conversation would be the cold breeze permeating through the elegant one – way glass window, doing a lot of justice to the soaring temperatures of the so-called month of love and romance.

We would dig into self-employment and how it has been like close to a year after I made the decision to quit my employment where I’d worked for 5 solid years with an assured salary and job security.  I’d make dad understand how tough the decision was but a turnaround to how I viewed life going forward. The fact that my conscious, soul, spirituality, family and body language were all for it, I was more than ready to explore the world I hadn’t, having been confined for five years doing the same thing day in day out in the same environment so to speak. He’d nod as his hands tore apart the finger-licking meal. I’ll be like; “Dad, self-employment is very very tough, challenging, risky, unpredictable but very fulfilling. This is because I found it very unfair working all my prime years for someone under his terms. I have always desired to do what I love most. Trading my skills at the highest reasonable price and having time to nurture my writing career and enough for my family. Enough to visit you and mum upcountry and initiate projects that I will have the free-will to monitor without requesting permission from my damn boss. Being flexible and relying on my hard work instead of the mercy of someone, was what was burning inside me before I quit my job.”

Dad would interject and be like; “Andrew, that was exceedingly profound of you. Since success is all about transformation. In other words, it’s an enemy of stagnation and comfort zone. It’s the continuous disruption of your comforts. You know when you are employed an 8-5 job, somebody tends to program your destiny. However, self-employment is not for the faint-hearted, it must be done at the right time when one is well prepared.”

We’d talk about the boy child and how he has been the laughing stock; receiving all the ridicule and sideshows the world has got. I’d indulge dad of how and when we lost it as poor sons of the soil. Dad would gulp his wine glass and take his time fetching for a perfect answer. “You know Andrew, we no longer have credible role models for the boys out there and gentlemen to identify with. Many dads, no longer care about legacies they are passing on to their sons. There is no mentorship at all. Look at the many forums available for women to empower themselves. We forgot about traditions and our culture. How many of your peers for instance have joined the association of Kiama kia Ma where young Gikuyu men are nurtured and comprehensively introduced to the cultures of a typical Gikuyu man and endowed with a responsibility to not only be a custodian of our heritage but to protect and abide by it and help it flourish to the rest who are not in the know. Again, conventional men have become too emotional and fluid. They are too insecure, sensitive and seeking lots of validation from social media and a world that, in fact, is exerting its energy in demasculinising them.

We’d explore on how marriage institution is being fought left, right and centre and how weak-man-syndrome has grossly contributed in tainting it. “You know your generation has an immense problem with commitment. You have no patience over anything. And again, you want it all. You can’t have your cake and eat it. You must learn to live with your wife no matter what…not unless a life is threatened. Your generation must have the balls to confront life even when the situation doesn’t favour you. You must demonstrate the character of not giving up easily,…holding on and believing it will eventually work out.  It’s important for the married to learn how to fuse their characters with those of their spouses and compromising on areas that would otherwise trigger issues.” He would quip.

“Dad, have we over glorified success and got it all wrong?” I’d ask him. “Seemingly so! Young people aren’t shy from quick stuff, instant gratification, eeeh and quick success that has no foundation nor grace.”

We’d talk about his passion for livestock keeping and how he’s carrying on with it. “Zero grazing is awesome. I’m enjoying it but it’s a bit dry now though I’ve stocked enough hay for the next 8 months and lots of nappier grass in the shamba. Interestingly, the bull rearing business is really picking up. I’m buying young ones soon after the weaning stage and reselling them at a substantial profit 2 – 3 years down the line. I have clients from as far as Isiolo and Makueni.”

Occasionally our thoughts would be lost in the moment a while longer. We’d gaze at the silhouettes of birds flying home across the sky as dusky darkness gathered, giving way to thousands of stars littered all over the place. At such a moment, it would beckon to both of us that it’s time to leave.

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