Single In The Suburbs, Installment 102

Our columnist’s search for love was halted by the death of the family pet. How will she handle it?

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our last installment, our writer and her family were saying goodbye to their beloved dog. Burt was causing problems for her at work, and her search for a young beau had come to a screeching halt. Read on to see what happens next…

Tuesday 2:30 p.m.
I get an Outlook meeting request from Burt. He wants me to meet him in his office in 15 minutes. Reflexively I pull out my mirror and check my makeup. I glide a bit of gloss over my lips and brush my hair. How sick it is that I want to look
Reflexively I pull out my mirror and check my makeup.
good for him: I mean, if I’m concerned about his sexual advances, shouldn’t I make myself as unappealing as possible? I should be wiping off my makeup, not refreshing it. What else could I do to make myself look like crap? Wear horizontal stripes? Replace my heels with dirty tennis shoes? I’m sure I could look really lousy if I put some effort into it. I resent the fact that I even have to think like this.

When I arrive at Burt’s office, I am surprised to see my boss there. She looks worried. Burt gets up to close the door and waves toward an empty seat. “Please sit down.”

“What’s going on?”

Burt hands me a printout. I glance at the paper. It’s an excerpt from our employee handbook.

“Please read where I have highlighted.” Burt has his arms folded across his chest and almost seems to be smirking. I glance at my boss, who is staring wide-eyed at her own hands.

I begin to scan the sheet. “No,” he says. “Read it out loud, please. Just the highlighted portion, please.”

“Ummmm… Ohhhkay…” I say, slowly, incredulously. “In accordance with Policy 1711a in the amended Employee Policy Manual of February 2007, no member of the staff, whether professional or support, will engage in any manner of online sexual activity including, but not limited to, discussions in ‘chat’ rooms or the viewing of obscene materials. Those employees found to be doing so will be in direct violation of Policy 1711a and are subject to investigation, disciplinary action and possible termination.”

I’m feeling faint now, flushed and sick to my stomach. Please understand, it’s not that I think I’m guilty of anything. I know I’ve done nothing wrong. But I cannot bear the notion that someone — especially my
I know I’ve done nothing wrong, and yet I feel incredibly guilty!
supervisor — might think I’ve done something wrong. I want to say, “Wait a minute here people: I’m the good girl. I’m the one who follows the rules. I can’t possibly be in trouble!”

When I am done reading, I put the paper facedown on Burt’s desk and put my hands in my lap. “OK. What’s the point?”

Burt tells me to “stop playing games” and says there are allegations that I have used company property — my computer — to engage in activity “that is in violation of employee policy,” namely, that I have “engaged in online sexual activity.”

“Charmaine walked into my office in while I was on my lunch break and saw that I was on a dating site.” I turn to my boss. “A dating site. That’s not obscene.”

Burt says, “Well, that’s subject to interpretation.”

Here’s the thing: I know I’ve done nothing wrong, and yet I feel incredibly guilty! I’m also so angry at Charmaine S. Blith that I am overcome with the desire to throttle her skinny little neck until her phony-smiley head pops off. My hands almost tremble with the need to do it and do it soon. God, how I despise that woman.

Burt stands. “We’ll be investigating the allegations,” he says.

“You’re kidding.” I look at my boss. She looks away. “Someone from human resources will be in touch with you in the coming days.”

Tuesday, 3 p.m.
I just got off the phone with Stanley Able, Craig’s best friend, who is a corporate attorney and a former labor organizer. He tells me to hang tight — he has friends in human resources at my organization who should be able to shed some light on the situation. In the meantime, he says, “try to relax.”

Fat chance.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 103

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