Dear Mr. Schaeffer:
All I wanted to do was have lunch with my secretary. But at my 500-lawyer firm, anyone seen leaving for lunch with his secretary is deemed to be “banging” her. That’s what all the gossips say, anyway, and around here, everyone’s a gossip. It really pisses me off. Why can’t they just view secretaries as the individuals they are—genuine human beings, some crabby and mean-spirited, but others witty and good lunch company? My secretary, whose name is Denise, happens to be good lunch company.
Once the gossiping got out of hand—much of it, I should add, was being done by other secretaries—Denise and I decided we’d have to take evasive action. She’d go down one elevator and I would follow ten minutes later in another. Then we’d meet at our lunch destination. This worked pretty well as long as our lunch destination was more than ten blocks away.
You’ll never guess what happened. Yesterday, as Denise and I were sitting at the bar in an empty restaurant, who should walk in but my wife. There was quite a scene. Apparently, my wife thinks I’m banging Denise too. As I learned later, she got this idea from someone at the firm who told her where she could find me.
Now my wife has moved out. I don’t know what to do. I’m thinking of just throwing in the towel and asking Denise to move in with me. What do you think?
Signed, Wondering-Who-Gets-the-Dog in Detroit
You're asking me whether your secretary should move in with you? How would I know? Be a man and decide for yourself.
Frankly, I’m really getting tired of stories like yours. Just think for a minute about what you were doing. You were taking the time to eat lunch. Meanwhile, as you were stuffing your face, other associates remained behind at the firm, using the extra time to get ahead of you in the race for partnership. You're a real nitwit. You’re going to lose out to the grinders and get fat too.
My advice is simple: lunch is always a bad idea, no matter who you’re playing footsies with. From now on, eat in your office. That’s why the partners gave you a desk. If you’re wondering why they gave you a secretary--well, it wasn’t so she could make a marshmallow out of you. Have her get busy too. You can worry about your personal life on the weekend.
Your friend, Evan Schaeffer
1. Advice to Young Lawyers #12 (Suing the Firm for Sexual Harassment)
2. Advice to Young Lawyers #8 (A Murder Mystery)
3. The "Advice" Category--all previous advice posts