News carries very quickly in my office, and like all stupid gossip it's always blown out of proportion and distorted beyond recognition of actual truth. For the first several days after I learned of my layoff I chose to keep the information mostly to myself, only letting my teammates and a couple of others in on what is going on. But this week I've decided to inform a few more people simply because it would seem odd to just go away without really talking about it. Since learning about my layoff there's been one person in particular who I've wanted to discuss the issue with.
During my wild pre-47 days, I had an on-and-off-again co-workers-with-benefits-situation with a young man here in the office. We rarely worked together and seldom even saw one another and mostly managed to interact as buddies when we did so it was never a very big deal. In fact, we did grow to be pals despite some occasional awkwardness. He's been away for the past week and a half, so today was the today to break the news to him. I IM'd him to give him the deets. Only it seems as if he already knew. So rather than IMing him to tell him what was up, our conversation morphed into a damage-control type of situation where I found myself debunking any potential rumors that I was leaving because something spectacularly terrible happened and I was fired.
Those of you who have never been laid off may not be familiar with this phenomenon, but for those of us who have been, the distinction between "laid off" and "fired" is an important one. "Laid off" implies complicated sets of circumstances mostly beyond your control. "Fired" implies that you're a screw up and the whole thing is your fault.
While my young co-worker with benefits didn't up and *say* that he heard I was fired, it did sound to me like the rumor mill had reached him and that it was lacking for critical details. So I filled him in. Which then lead to a very nice discussion which ended with him asking if we can still be friends. So that was nice. Now I'm wondering if there's any point in throwing myself a going away happy hour as has been the tradition here among young employees. I'm rather conflicted on the whole matter. There are a couple of people here who I don't mind never seeing again who I would never in a million years dream of inviting to a happy hour. That person mainly really being one person and that one person being...deep breath...47's ex.
While friends of mine have been down with the situation from day one, I've been reticent to discuss the details of how I know him. But now that I'm leaving my job I really don't care anymore. Besides, I hate keeping secrets from my blog.
To make a long story short, 47's ex works in my office. The whole reason for us meeting was because he accompanied her to the company holiday party two years ago when they were in their brief phase of "making things work for the sake of the child." But they were barely speaking to one another at the time, which is how he and I came to wind up spending the better part of the evening smoking cigs together outside the party. So ironically, while I was thinking how swell this man was and how lucky my coworker was to be married to him and how I hoped to find somebody just like him some day, she was trying rather hard to ditch him.
When we reunited it was this past July, the divorce papers had already been signed and she was in Italy visiting her Italian lover for the summer. This was at a party thrown by another co-worker, who 47 happens to be friends with. Are you keeping up? Okay, good. It's about to get more complicated.
So as friends and devoted readers will recall, 47 and I spent a rather blissful 6 weeks playing house, playing "getting to know you" and collectively dreading the return of his ex. Then she came back. Since then his daily life has been a non-stop series of fights about all the stuff people fight over when going through a bitter divorce. While he and I fought to keep our relationship a secret, she eventually found out. Which turned my daily life into a headache as a result. Actually, headache isn't so accurate as "constant feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach in anticipation of running into her." Which I have, many times.
I have learned over the past couple of months that an interesting thing happens when you're dating the man your coworker used to be married to but is ultimately divorcing from due to the fact that she had been having an affair over email for several years. Essentially, you're locked into an unspoken agreement that neither shall ever speak to one another or anyone else about what is going on. While she could very well tell our mutuals that I'm a hussy for dating her ex, it would necessitate her also having to explain that he's about to be her ex and why. And while I could very well tell our mutuals that I'm seeing 47, it would then necessitate explaining the divorce, which would be totally inappropriate and would ultimately make me look like a complete hussy for getting involved with him in the first place.
When 47 and I initially got together I had huge reservations about the relationship. Given my proximity to his ex, it seemed like a risky and not altogether smart idea. While part of me hoped she wouldn't care, another part knew it would be asking for trouble. That, and as I already had a situation with a coworker, I was starting to think that it was time to start dating outside the context of my work environment. But ultimately, romance won out and 47 swept me off my feet.
While many of you reading this are no doubt thinking that I'm a total slut at this point, I'd like to point out that while I haven't always been that practical in regards to who I have become involved with, I have entered into each of those situations after a great deal of thought to possible outcomes. Never in my life have I launched a relationship or a fling if I had any inkling that somebody either in the center or on the periphery might get hurt. With the case of 47 and his ex, I truly thought she'd be indifferent. After all she's the one who cheated, right? Women who cheat don't get an opinion, right?
In reality, there's no stopping anyone from thinking what they want to think. And apparently, 47's ex thinks I'm a ho-bag out to destroy civilization. It takes one to know one. In the end I don't particularly care what she thinks, especially since she doesn't know me. We've had maybe two conversations with one another ever, so whatever she thinks she knows about me is all second-third-and fourth-hand. I've told 47 that I don't want to hear about what she says to him about me, and he has been very kind in respecting this wish while simultaneously ignoring whatever she's had to say about me.
When I learned of being laid off, one of my first thoughts after panicking about the financials and the pain of enduring the job hunting process yet again was an overwhelming sense of relief knowing that the number of encounters I'd have to have with her in the future had been drastically reduced. No more pained silences when alone in the elevator with her, no more running into her in the ladies room, no more avoiding the wing of the building that she works in. No more of those pointed glares she throws me. No more minor anxiety attacks at the site of her sunken black eyes, the grey circles under her eyes and that menacing stare that says all too much. I'm not the only one whose relieved to see me go.
I find it funny that while others here at work spend their days gossiping about the most inane events ever, an entire Lifetime channel drama has been unfolding beneath their noses and they have been completely unaware. Most of my colleagues think that I'm single while one or two know that I'm dating some mysterious man I never feel like talking about or introducing to anyone. Hardly anyone here knows the exact truth. As juicy as all this gossip is, and as much as I truly dislike her for the emotional state she has inflicted upon him, I'd never dream of broadcasting the story to those who know the players. Some punishments are a little too harsh, even for karma. Besides, I can't even begin to imagine how the rumor mill would distort this particular drama.
To be certain, I have learned quite a bit at this job, mostly in regards to affairs not quite appropriate for my resume.