Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cheatin’ Colleague

Once everyone ordered food and drinks, one of the guys jumped right in with the first issue of the night. “I got an issue . . . and it involves sex.”

Doc piped in “It’s about time we had a sex issue – been way too long.  And really, are there any other kinds of issues? Okay, seriously, what have you got?”

“A colleague of mine asked me to, er, help them with a little project. This person is having an affair and is planning on going away next weekend with their side interest. The cover story is that its for a work conference and I’ve been asked to - should inquiries be made - affirm that indeed we are going out of town for a conference.”

Nails spoke up. “We need some clarification. Will you be called before the conference? During it?”

“Forget that. Do you know the spouse? Is this a good friend of yours? Seems like the answer shouldn’t depend on this stuff, but I guess it does.” Big Dog was usually pretty insightful when it came to spousal issues.

The guy who brought up the issue said “I told you everything pertinent. You need to make your own assumptions on this one. I’m not really sure that any of those details matter. What do you think I should do? What would you do?’

Nails responded first. “I don’t see how there’s any way you can say yes. It doesn’t matter if the spouse actually calls, it doesn’t matter if you know the spouse – cheating is just wrong and if you enable, or at least condone it, you’d be in the wrong too. I think you respond by encouraging them to seek counseling and not have the affair.”

Big Dog agreed. “It could be tempting, especially if this is a real good friend of yours. But I don’t think you want to get involved in something like that.”

El Guapo demurred. “I might be in the minority on this, but I think you’ve got to consider it. Think of the cost versus benefit. Chances are you’re not going to get called on it, your colleague will owe you big time regardless and what the hell do you care what this person does in their private life.”

I finally spoke up. “I’m kind of surprising myself on this one but I have to agree with El Guapo, though definitely not for the same reasons. Look, it depends on what assumptions you make. One, I’m assuming the person who asked you is a good friend, not just a colleague. Two, maybe their marriage sucks or maybe you know the spouse is evil and you never thought they’d be good together and you knew they weren’t going to last. Maybe you know the spouse is cheating. Who knows? But I’m assuming that this is a real good friend in a lousy marriage and you got to be there for your friend.  Like Nails said, encourage them to not do it, encourage counseling or a divorce, but in the end you got to be there for your friend.”

Most of the guys disagreed with me – felt the moral and ethical lines were pretty clear. In retrospect, despite my answer at the time, I’m not sure what I’d do, but I still think it depends on what assumptions you make.

Post script:  After everyone spoke up, the guy who brought up the issue revealed that (1) the colleague was a woman (I’m pretty sure we all assumed it was a man) and (2) he didn’t really know her that well and was pretty shocked to be asked. He told her he didn’t feel comfortable doing it. But he also told us that he could imagine circumstances where he might be willing to cover for a friend. 


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the post master... if it is your good friend and you know that something is up with his marriage, etc..... but i would agree with the individual who brought up the issue and would not have covered for her without knowing more..

Anonymous said...

[the above "anonymous" is not me, the "anonymous" from the previous thread. I'm Jezebel. But about this cheating business and covering for a friend...I say you cover for your friend. Maybe you need to decide whether this is a question about cheating or one about friendship.]

Doug Levin said...

I'm generally opposed to helping people lie and cheat, but people cover for each other all the time in the workplace and this marriage is already in a state of disrepair, so regardless of what I think of the wife, if I have a good relationship with my colleague, I'll do it - although I'm not proud of it.

Anonymous said...

I did not know that Telly Savalas was on this site. Can I get a lollipop?

Anonymous said...

Cheating is wrong... Bad to do when dating, called adultery when you are married. Religiously, it's a top 10 commandment too. If marriage is beyond repair, get a divorce and then sleep around when single (but then the affair will be called dating). Otherwise, try to save the marriage. If unable to have a positive impact, at least avoid having the spouse come into your office and kick your butt for facilitating the deception!

Anonymous said...

To the above respondent, cheating is...sometimes a great way to save a marriage. What if your spouse doesn't entirely fulfill your needs by having some major shortcomings? What if these shortcomings cannot be fixed, but the whole marriage is not broken? Why disrupt the lives of all family members just because you're not getting everything that you need from your marriage? A discreet affair can be a successful way to bridge the gaps. Just don't get caught. * jezebel *

Anonymous said...

so, it seem like jez knows about things that we don't or don't care to admit...but this is about lying for someone you don't know that well regarding you business without fully understanding the situation or the repercussions... what if the husband finds out and mistakenly thinks its you having the affair with his wife? and comes at you with a baseball bat