Moodswing - Perilous climb

Balling the boss is a bad idea all the way around

My friend is fucking her boss, which I think is a really bad business move.

She won’t listen to me, though, because she believes she’s “climbing the corporate ladder,” when really all she’s climbing is the sweaty, crass, married ass of a pock-marked, balding bag of bacon fat with, like, a clipboard or whatever it is mid-level incompetent corporate suck-ups wave around these days to exude a false air of importance.

“Are you insane?” I ask her. “Are you a drooling, booger-eating idiot?”

We are at Eats, a pseudo-edgy chow house on Ponce de Leon Avenue where a lot of office-badge wearing people now like to lunch it seems. They line up at the counter and crowd the aisles with their magnetized identity cards clipped to lanyards around their necks, reminding me of tagged animals marked for scientific study. They mill about in their Dockers and prudent dresses, bumping into each other softly with their cafeteria trays before selecting a seat. I used to hate that about this place, but now I think it’s nice. Don’t ask me why.

“If you don’t wise up, your ass is so canned,” I warn my friend, but as I said, she is not listening to me. She’s got that infuriating far-away look in her eyes, like she’s remembering the bionic blowjob she gave her boss before coming here or something. Jesus God. How frustrating. How do you talk sense to someone in this situation, someone who is so tragically mistaken in her smugness? She thinks she is securing her future, she thinks she’s distinguishing herself from the rest of the turd pellets in the pile ... Christ, it’s like watching a car wreck.

Little does she know her shelf-life is already eroding. My guess is she has a few weeks, tops, before that selfish diaper wipe dumps her like a load of toxic waste. He’s a guy, after all, and most guys formulate excuses to bolt way before they even have sex. I mean, seriously, guys will make up early-morning squash matches during the appetizer course, thus eliminating the obligation for any cuddle time should their date decide to copulate with them after dinner. So, c’mon, what guy wants to hang out 40 hours a week with somebody they’re balling?

“Canned,” I reiterate to my friend, “like a truckload of tuna.”

I speak as a witness and not from experience, which is surprising. I mean, of all the wrong moves I’ve made in my life, you’d think boss-humping could easily be among them, but I was never a corporate-climber type. In addition, of the few office jobs I’ve had, my bosses were either gay or running the company from a minimum-security prison, thus they were impervious to my wiles. One time, though, when I was waiting tables in college, my boss took me aside and informed me the restaurant was firing half the staff, but I could ensure my position if I partook in acrobatic sex with him on the table in the break room right then.

“Let me get this straight,” I said, “if I lay you, I get to keep my crappy-ass job?” Then I laughed so hard I nearly coughed up the pitcher of margaritas I drank by the pool before showing up for work that day. I didn’t screw him and he didn’t fire me, but he did can the poor cocktail waitress who was sleeping with him. Her name was Becky, and she wore chunky-heeled shoes when stilettos were in style. I remember she served us all after work one night when my co-workers and I were sousing ourselves at the bar, everybody young and grandstanding about their designs on life, me especially because I’d just been accepted to a program to study literature at a university in Oxford, England, and I had plans for myself.

“I’m climbing out of this tar pit, people,” I laughed, clinking cocktails in celebration with my wait-staff friends, each with big dreams of their own, even Becky. I remember she was widely despised for sleeping with the boss, who was absent that night, but she weathered the sneers anyway. She was my age and had a 6-year-old daughter who lived far away with relatives. “I want to open my own place,” Becky joined in, “have my own business.”

We toasted to her dream but then almost broke our eyeballs rolling them at each other afterward. “... have my own business,” we mimicked the minute she turned her back to fetch another round. It didn’t occur to me then that she probably had that dream because it precluded her having to sleep with the boss to get ahead.

A few days later, Becky got fired, and I saw her afterward in the parking lot, sitting in her relic of a Celica, her forehead resting on her steering wheel as she sobbed. I was watching her from the window of the restaurant, as was nearly the rest of the wait staff on duty that day. We all stood there, none of us having ever really needed a job before, none of us with a 6-year-old girl we were trying to become worthy enough to raise, none of us trapped in a mess we thought we could climb out of by balling the boss. We all stood there, watching Becky cry, and none of us went to her.

Hollis Gillespie’s commentaries can be heard on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” To hear the latest, go to