Offices can be weird places. People who otherwise have little in common find themselves in close quarters with one another, forced to interact on a regular basis, while maintaining a safe professional distance that keeps them relative strangers.
So what do you do when you know something extremely personal about one of your colleagues, but they don’t know you know? Like, say, that your new co-worker, who’s married to a woman, used to be a gay porn star?
That’s what one guy wants to know. So he’s writing to advice columnist Sotya over at Slate for help.
“It recently got out that someone at work did porn when he was younger,” the man writes. “This porn does not line up with his apparent orientation (he’s married to a woman).”
He goes on to say that they work in a “relatively small workplace, so this got around quickly.” Apparently, even the boss might know.
The man continues, “I worry about how this is going to affect [my colleague] at work. At one point, I caught a couple co-workers sharing an image from one of the videos and joking about it, and I told them to stop.”
“The thing is I don’t think he has any idea that people know. Should I tell him? I don’t really care what he did when he was younger, and maybe he doesn’t care if people know, but I worry he will find out in an embarrassing way and it would be better if I told him privately.”
That definitely sounds awkward.
In her response, Stoya applauds the man for telling his co-workers to zip it about their colleague’s x-rated past.
“I haven’t worked in an office in a very long time,” she writes, “but their behavior seems clearly inappropriate.”
She adds, “I hope they’re thinking about what will happen if they’re caught circulating porn at work!”
Stoya goes on to say that the man might consider pulling his co-worker aside and letting him know what’s going on. If he does this, however, he should be discreet about it.
“Let him know that you’re there if he needs an ally, or to talk, but also that there’s no pressure,” she writes. “Use the opportunity to offer support and companionship.”
“He might need friends he can be open with, or his dance card might be entirely full. Strike up a discreet conversation, and you’ll get a clear idea of how you can be supportive.”
Hmmm. We may have to respectfully disagree with Stoya on this one. We don’t see any need for this guy to talk to his co-worker about his porno past. After all, who doesn’t have x-rated pics of themselves floating around the internet these days? Not to mention, he could be opening himself up to an HR nightmare.
What do you think he should do? Share your thoughts in the comments below…