Messed Around Messed Up

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about partying  with coworker: After a lot of drinks, somehow someway a co-worker and I got a little carried away and ended up messing around in my car.

I went out to a going away event at a bar after work. So of course there was a bunch of employees and friends that attended. After a lot of drinks, somehow someway a co-worker and I got a little carried away and ended up messing around in my car. As far as I remember, we didn’t have sex. The next few days, we didn’t see each other but spoke about the whole incident.

We both felt embarrassed and realized it was a mistake. I told her nothing happen as far as I remember and if she felt something did, to go and get herself checked out. I told her that I am one of those guys that is useless when drinking. Here is my problem though. We work in the same department and she told my girlfriend that we messed around. I know I should explain that to my girlfriend, but I told this individual I would do the telling.

Anyhow the whole thing is I know she is telling certain people in our workplace that she was taken advantage of and she playing as though she’s “innocent”. I now feel that these people are looking and treating me differently. It’s almost like she is trying to destroy my reputation. We all made an agreement to keep this between ourselves so it will not be some soap opera story at work. What should I do to keep this from blowing out of perspective from the truth? The truth is we both got drunk and both made a mistake. I’m not too sure on what to do since I know her supervisor and she is the type to gossip and make me seem like the bad person. I feel as if this is going to get out of control and this might be brought to my HR department, but they should have nothing to do with it since it happened outside of company time. What should I do?

Signed, Messed Around

Dear Messed Around:

What was done is done. You messed around and you messed up. You’d like to keep that quiet. However, outside of work indiscretions often do not stay silent and come out to bite you. There is little you can do to shut up this coworker with whom you messed around in your car. You cannot stop her talking whether if she spins the truth that you both were drinking and takes some of the responsibility for messing up or says you took advantage of her. You can keep your own mouth shut rather than make an issue of it. If you are confronted about it, you can simply say, “That was a private matter.”What now is important is: Have you learned from this incident?

There are two things you should learn: 1. You should learn that what happens outside of the workplace does not always remain outside. For example, let’s suppose after that going away party, while you were drunk you mooned someone rather than messed up with that coworker. Let’s also suppose that the next day at work your coworkers were joking about that and your boss said, “Sam, your moonshine last night reflects badly on you and our company.” Would the boss be right to say that? In my opinion, he would.Your reputation matters to your employer and it matters to you. If you volunteer to help build a playground for your neighborhood that is an incident that your boss would be pleased to have reported in your workplace newsletter or local paper. Or do something shameful outside of work and your boss is correct to say that reflects badly on you and your company.

2. You should learn that you are at risk when you make decisions while drinking. I know it might seem like I am on your case for something you already admit is a mistake. But you asked us for advice, and you need it. Drinking, especially for you, can do great damage. You cannot right what you did wrong with the excuse, “I am one of those guys that is useless when drinking.” Apparently, although you might not as yet be addicted to alcohol, you do not make good decisions when you drink socially. Our society has learned too late that drinking and driving is a crime.

It is fortunate that you were not driving while you were as you say “useless when drinking.” You need to look in the mirror and face up to the fact that you did screw up, and hurt not only your reputation but could have gotten a coworker pregnant and most certainly have betrayed your girlfriend. You say you told that coworker to get “herself checked out.”

To do that, she would have to pay a doctor to test if she is pregnant and/or has gotten a sexually transmitted disease, and you should also get yourself checked out. Apparently if you had sex, you did not use a condom and that risks an STD. Moreover not to use of a condom and contraceptive can result in a costly pregnancy and/or abortion. Safe sex is the only wise sex until you have a companion with whom the both of you are committed to and able to support raising a child.

If your boss or Human Resources confronts you about what is a rumor that you took advantage of your coworker, don’t defensively argue that what goes on outside of the workplace between coworkers is none of the company’s business. Rather, say that this coworker and you are each responsible for your actions and that it is a private matter. You might also say that you apologize if your behavior reflects badly on the company and that from now on you will do your best to not have that happen again.

So now attend to business. Do not become obsessed thinking, “that these people are looking and treating me differently.” Focus on doing good work and put worrying about what did or did not happen between you and this coworker. If that individual gossips that you took advantage of her, she also is admitting that she was one who could be taken advantage of. Time most likely will pass and so will this rumor.You will come to realize that working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. This is my way of suggesting that you can put this behind you if you will give as much attention on doing good work and pleasing your customers as you now have been worrying about this mistake. Feel free to keep us posted on how all this works out with you, your job, and your girlfriend. You are right not to make a soap opera out of this.

William Gorden