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.