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Why I'm switching parties

By Hannah Selinger | RAW STORY COLUMNIST

Perhaps there is nothing as political as the dynamics of the workplace. Most of us spend more time at work than we ever do at home and people in my age group invariably spend more time with their coworkers than they do with their families. If my parents are the people I go to when the world has gotten me down, my coworkers bear the every day burden of hearing about the minutia that constitutes my life.


Considering the American condition of working too hard for too little, it should come as no real surprise that the workplace could easily be classified as the new social gathering space. Forget about bookstores and bars. Forget about museums and marketplaces and definitely forget about parks and other natural havens. These days, it all comes down to the water cooler.

This is where problems begin. I have been thinking lately about work and about dating and about the oft-repeated and seldom-heeded saying about dipping one’s pen in the company ink. Personally, I have a bad habit of falling for men I work with, men my father recently summed up with the all-encompassing term, “low lifes.” For the past four years, I have been in and out of restaurant work, waiting tables and bartending my way to the top. During those four years, I have fallen for precisely six men, all of whom were coworkers.

In restaurants, hooking up is standard stuff, considering the hours and the caliber of the staff. There are late nights and lazy afternoons and schedules that refuse to coincide with the rest of the worlds.’ But mostly, these things never work out. Restaurants are inherently political, and working with people in a close and physical environment means the potential for union, sure, but it also means the potential for the inevitable and disquieting breakup.

Okay. Shacking up with coworkers is one thing. But what happens when the shack unshackles? If we are to see the world in political terms, what is the most diplomatic and intellectual way to get through a breakup? I write this all with the recent burden of having been dumped, again, by a coworker. It occurred to me, at the moment that I was left crying on the corner of 22nd and Park Avenue South, that my approach had been wrong. Like the foundering Democrats of last year’s election, what I needed was a new game plan.

On Saturday, I had lunch at Otto with a friend and her boyfriend. We were drinking Pinot Nero and discussing my latest romantic disaster over Coach Farm goat cheese when I was given some very good advice.

“Wait fifteen days,” my friend’s boyfriend said. “Don’t call and dial down the psycho just a bit. You’ll be fine.”

Had I messed up? I wondered. I had left the ex an apologetic but, thankfully, sober message at 4 a.m. the night before. Had that been the wrong approach?

“No more phone calls,” I was told. “Guaranteed he didn’t listen to the whole thing anyway.”

“What should I do?” I asked.

“Absolutely nothing.”

“And he’ll come around?” I was convinced that my boyfriend’s decision that our relationship had ‘run its course’ (his words, not mine) signified a very definite decision that things were over and that I would, once again, be relegated to avoiding a fellow server by the kitchen computer.

“Of course he will. Fifteen days, I’m telling you. He didn’t stop liking you. He just got freaked out.”

This seemed too simple a response. Was it possible that the politics were that easy to understand? Stop calling and he will come crawling back, tail between his legs? Women like me expect a more calculated and complicated reaction. Women like me believe that people are complex and that emotional reactions cannot be turned on or off.

Women like me often find ourselves battling the politics of the dating world. (Should I call? Shouldn’t I call? Why hasn’t he called? Why isn’t he sitting around intellectualizing the past 24 hours the way I am?) Women like me are relentless in our attempts to understand what is going on and, worse, women like me are too direct to play the game—“You don’t play the game wrong,” my friend Ashley once told me. “You refuse to recognize that it even exists.” Women like me never understand what makes these things run their course.

Whether or not my friend’s beau was right remains to be seen, but there’s no harm in trying. My approach, after all, has been less than successful. So I’m switching parties. Say goodbye to the touchy-feely Democratic approach to dating and hello to the cold, hard Republican one. And if this works, who knows? Maybe I’ll change my voter registration.

Hannah Selinger is a weekly contributor to Raw Story.


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