Chronicles of trading in Corporate America for a waitress's apron during my very own quarter-life crisis.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Flattery in the workplace

It's common knowledge that employees tend to hook up with one another, and I've been no stranger to that.  I've witnessed it pretty much everywhere I've worked, and it's even happened directly to me a few times:

  1. I dated a man who worked in my office during my internship, but only for a couple months.  When my internship ended, so did the relationship.
  2. One of the other waiters at a family restaurant cornered me in the parking lot when I was 17.  I turned him down because he had a girlfriend, and then he ended up getting another waitress pregnant. (Bullet, consider yourself dodged.)
  3. I may or may not have had a fling with one of the cooks when I worked at a Mexican restaurant.
  4. My favorite example:  My current boyfriend.  We worked in the same building for over two and a half years before getting to know each other through company softball, and now we hold hands.
Some of you may be surprised to learn that dating/"hooking up"/legit romantic relationships pretty much operate on similar levels and with the same behavior no matter how expensive your ink pens are at work.  Stolen glances, wanting to look your best at work because omg we work together today, coming up with reasons to see him, trying and failing (failing so hard) to keep the romance a secret... it's the same in restaurants and offices.  

Only, offices have stricter HR, so I was a bit worried when my current relationship started up and we both worked on the same floor.  The following conversation occurred between me and the HR Associate, who's about my age, shortly after my boyfriend and I had our first date (and I have no idea how she knew about it already):

HR Associate:  Hey!  (whispers)  Are you and Scott going out?  
Me (looks around wildly):  Um, uh... Scott??  Scott who?!?

Turns out she just wanted to congratulate me.  

I told my boyfriend about it, and he said, "Oh god.  Do we have to disclose it to HR?  Do we need to fill out a form?!"  

The pressure of this situation in a restaurant is pretty nonexistent, but it can still be a headache for managers.  I do know that they worry about some of this stuff; in fact, I happen to work with a guy friend at TGI O'Chilibees who I used to date, and the managers asked if it was going to be a problem.  (It hasn't been; he and I have been good friends for years.)

And what about the unwanted advances?  Those happen in restaurants way more often (except for getting groped by my cube neighbor that one time, or the security guy who held entire conversations with my cleavage).  I'm referring to the restaurant customers. 

A couple of memorable stories:  

One customer left me his phone number and a note that said, "Let's go out for coffie sometime :)"  First, yes he spelled "coffee" like that.  Second, he didn't leave a real smiley face; he'd written it sideways like an emoticon.  

Then there was the little boy, around age 10, who would collapse in shy giggles anytime I approached his table.  He and his little sister were adorable.  About halfway through the meal, their mother admitted that the little boy was "gobsmacked" with me.  As they were leaving, I went to clear the table, and I saw that he'd written his phone number down in crayon on a napkin.  I went up to the hostess, and we both "awwww"ed over my new favorite little customer.  The family, who'd been using the restrooms, were then starting to walk out the door; the hostess and I waved to them and thanked them for coming in.  Just then, the little boy broke away from his mother, ran back into the lobby, looked up at me and squeaked, "I might not be Elmo," he said with a shit-eating grin, "But you can still tickle me!"