Single In The Suburbs, Installment 106

An online suitor is on Sara’s side, but only she can face the consequences of her actions at work.

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

ast time, our columnist had reached out online to a promising suitor who happened to work in human resources. What a lucky coincidence! Unfortunately, she now faces disciplinary action and even termination for her actions at the hands of the very coworkers she rejected. What could possibly happen next?

Friday, 8:45 a.m.
When I get in this morning, I find a sealed interoffice envelope in the brown acrylic in-box screwed to my office door. It’s addressed to me and it’s stamped CONFIDENTIAL. I can see my staff — people I actually once liked and trusted — staring at me silently as I hold the envelope up to the light. I almost expect to see signs of anthrax.

Yes, my friends, this is how surreal my life is
My guess is that she’s as scared about losing her job as I am.
right now.

I unlock my office door, close it behind me and slowly open the envelope. I’m praying for naked pictures of Charmaine S. Blith from a sympathetic observer, giving me the means for blackmailing that anal-retentive saboteur, but no such luck. It’s only a letter.

Oh, God.

Please be informed that the investigation of your behavior has been expanded to include a charge of insubordination. This charge is based on comments you made with a fellow employee regarding a supervisor, specifically those made to Charmaine S. Blith regarding a supervisor’s online-dating activity.

Be advised that a charge of insubordination has the potential for an outcome of immediate termination and an evaluative descriptor of “gross misconduct.” According to the Employee Policy #2834(d) of the 2009 Employee Handbook, which you read and signed on January 3, 2009, employees terminated with the evaluative descriptor of “gross misconduct” are not eligible for COBRA continued medical insurance benefits after termination.

The letter is signed by the vice president of human resources, Allen Best.

Have I mentioned that Allen Best is Steve’s first cousin? This means, among other things, that he’s unlikely to believe me if I attempt to tell him that his close kin is an active participant in the online-dating scene,
Would someone please wake me up from this nightmare?
has gone online regularly during work hours (and not just his lunch break) and, in fact, found his current mate on the very site associated with the investigation.

Would someone please wake me up from this nightmare? Could this process be any more corrupt? Actually, yes. I get an email from HR that says I am scheduled to meet with the “internal investigation team” on Monday at 11 a.m. The team consists of Steve, Burt, Charmaine, an employee specialist with HR and an internal auditor from the department of fiscal affairs.

May I just say: WHAT?

As I think I mentioned, I don’t get mad; I get panicked. Right now I wish I could be one of those people who easily swells with self-righteous indignation, who smashes her fist into walls and kicks filing cabinets. I wish I could march into Steve’s office and say: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I wish I could slam a resignation letter on my boss’s desk and tell him to drop dead.

Alas, that’s not how I’m wired. Instead, I’ve got clammy hands and a queasy stomach. I am convinced that I’m going to be fired on some ridiculous charge, and why? Because I rejected two powerful men in my organization. And because I am likely to be fired on charges of gross misconduct for telling Charmaine about Steve’s online-dating activities, I am going to wind up fulfilling every woman’s secret penniless-bag-lady-living-under-the-freeway nightmare.

According to the attached page from the employee manual (“Policies and Procedures for Employee Participating in Disciplinary Investigation Meetings,” section 65i), I am entitled to bring another person to the meeting with me. I’ve heard about this before. I can bring anyone I want — a friend, a priest, a lawyer, my uncle Joe — but none of those people, not even the lawyer, is permitted to advocate for me. That person’s role is simply as a silent observer who takes notes and makes sure that any documentation emerging from the meeting accurately reflects whatever transpires at the meeting.

I reach for the keyboard and start emailing the only person I think can help me.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 107

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