On the shocking and scandalous revelation that women and men can work together without misbehaving
One day a highly competent, single, female vendor called to arrange an account review. I suggested meeting over lunch as we had in the past. Not without a bit of shock to her voice, she gasped, “We can’t do that. You’re married now.”
The second part of her statement was true. I had recently married. It was the first part, the “we can’t do that” part, that was nonsense.
I do not blame either of the women. In their respective places of employ, they are at the mercy of a silly and insulting but apparently powerful meme. I first encountered it some 35 years ago, when a supervisor took me aside to explain that it was inappropriate for male and female associates ever to be one-on-one. That included, he said, being in an office with the door closed, in a car, or in a restaurant.* Why? Two reasons. (1) It might lead to temptation. (2) Even with all on the up-and-up, others seeing us might make unseemly assumptions.
What an insult to women and men. I trust my female (and, for that matter, male) business associates to keep their hands to themselves.** They trust me to do the same.
What an insult to busybodies. No self-respecting busybody is about to be deterred by a little thing like discretion.
What an insult to people having affairs. A no-one-on-one policy is, pardon the pun, impotent as preventive measures go. Anyone hellbent on a dalliance will find a way, lunch or no lunch. Moreover, it is no one’s business but their own.
Most people with jobs tend to be male or female, making the odds of male-female business encounters pretty high. Following that little chat with my supervisor, my now late wife and I had a conversation. “Most of my contacts at work are women,” I said. “If someone tells you they saw me having lunch with a woman, it’s probably true.” Paula was fine with it. It’s called “trust.” It’s called “maturity.”
I can only wonder what busybodies may have thought when my right-hand account executive, a woman 30 years my junior, traveled with me, once to Ohio and once to Colorado. Our rooms were in the same hotel and we went out together for meals. Locally, we routinely drove to appointments together. At times someone might have even seen us laughing while alone in the car! For years prior to that, I was cooped up daily for hours on end and often took lunch with a female business partner who happened to be my age.
All, I shouldn’t need to add and almost didn’t, without so much as a hint of hanky, much less panky.
*Though it’s beside the point, the middle of a restaurant amid other diners hardly strikes me as “alone.”
**This is also beside the point, but with one look you will realize that keeping one’s hands off of me requires no feat of will.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com