The most prevalent office sexual harassment these days takes place at office parties during the holiday season.
Vandermeer told me about a party they held at Consolidated Grommets last week.
"I never saw anything like it," he said. "Zelda Blackstone slapped Harvey Firth in the kisser because she said he was harassing her."
"I think so. But Zelda was really mad because Charlie Rollerdex in Sales wasn't harassing her instead."
"Then Zelda has nothing against office harassment per se?"
"No. If she doesn't like the guy, she calls it harassing. If she does like him, and he makes a pass at her, she calls it romance. The trouble is if the one guy she likes doesn't make a pass at her, then she gets sore at anyone else who does."
"So who was Charlie harassing?"
"He was all over Clara Southworthy in Accounting, but I'm not sure he was harassing her. At least she didn't complain when he took off with her toward the mailroom."
"Where were you?"
"I was harassing a little blond in the typing pool, but then Colfax joined us and she decided she'd rather be harased by him. Colfax has a reputation for harassing anything in a skirt."
"I'm glad I don't work in a big office," I said.
"I then went over to the bar and found Miss Featherstone, the boss' secretary, on her fourth vodka. She was a different person from the one I had seen before. She said she hated harassment in the office, but she wouldn't mind if we went to her place after the party. Then she had another vodka and passed out."
"Lucky for you. She could have pressed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission."
"I thought of that. It's pretty tricky in a big company about who you harass and who you don't. George Kilbride thought he was getting signals from Lila Peabody in Research and Development. So he approached her at the party and asked her to dance, and she started screaming her head off. She said George just wanted to dance with her because she was a woman. She said he'd never treat a man in the office like that."
"He probably wouldn't. Did you calm her down?"
"I think I did. I explained to her that people lose their heads at Christmas office parties and they'll dance with anybody."
"Did she accept that?"
"Not really. She said she wanted to be promoted on her merits and not on who she danced with. I told her if she danced with me, her reputation would be safe because I had nothing to do with promotions in Research and Development."
"Did anyone else get harassed?"
"Lots of people, but as the evening wore on no one was making a big deal of it, except Mary Kelly in Computers. She was crying because she had been with the company five years and she had never been harassed once. Then she started taking off her clothes."
"That must have livened up things."
"It had the opposite effect. Corngold in Personnel threw a tablecloth over her because he was afraid that when she sobered up she'd sue the company for a million dollars."
"But no one harassed her when she took off her clothes?"
"No, that's why he was afraid she'd sue the company."
"What time did the party break up?"
"They closed the bar at 9 o'clock. Gelman, the president, said that those who wanted to continue their harassment would have to go somewhere else or wait until next year."
"Did you strike out?"
"I'm afraid I did. By the time I made my move, anything worth harassing had been spoken for."