Said Sarafina to Peter as they watched the Director of the Human Resources making her way towards them. Sarafina and Peter were both managers in the Sales division.
Peter remembered yesterday’s manager’s discussion, led by this HR director, concerning improper conduct between an employee and a manager. “We have a zero tolerance policy. No abuse of power by management, in any form, will be tolerated. All incidents must be reported. Failure to do so may result in termination.”
Peter put his hand up to ask a question about reporting.
Another person was first. “What about a spontaneous display of affection initiated by the employee?”
“That’s just another way of saying an abuse of power.” This comment punctured the discussion.
If I ask another question I’ll be getting between a momma bear and her cubs, Peter thought. It will never happen to me. He lowered his hand.
At the start of the Holiday party, Peter said to Sarafina, “This DJ’s great.”
“Sure is,” replied Sarafina. Peter could see that she was softly swaying to the music.
“Want to dance?”
“Nope. José isn’t dancing.” José was their VP of Sales.
“He’s always the first one. Maybe he isn’t feeling well.”
“Or maybe he wants to continue to feel well,” said Sarafina.
At that moment, Veda, who worked for Peter, came up. “How about asking me to dance?” Veda looked expectantly into Peter’s eyes. Peter noticed Sarafina’s eyes giving him a warning.
“Maybe later,” Peter heard himself say. Veda grabbed his hand and pulled him onto the dance floor. Most people were dancing either by themselves or in groups. Veda held Peter’s hand as they danced. Suddenly, Veda pulled Peter to herself and planted a long, lingering, liquid kiss on his lips. Perspiration cascaded down Peter’s back.She smelled enticing like jasmine, honey and alcohol. Her lips were soft. Peter thought he felt a touch of tongue. He knew he should pull away strongly and immediately, for all to see, but that would be extremely rude and he didn’t want to embarrass Veda in front her friends. He was enjoying the kiss. When the kiss ended, Peter noticed many people watching them.
When the song ended, Peter said, “Thanks for the dance,” and walked over to Sarafina.
“No one’s kissed me in years,” Peter said. “Theoretically, I should report her but I don’t think she should be disciplined for that.”
“You’re right,” said Sarafina. “You’ll be. They’ll say you have the power.”
“Power? Me? I couldn’t even ask the HR person a question.” They saw the HR director walk towards them.
‘Looked like a spontaneous display of affection to me. I should report you but officially I never saw anything.”
As the HR director got closer, Peter noticed fire in her eyes and two hands raised, fingers extended, like bear claws. She stood next to them. Almost a minute passed in silence, punctuated with searing looks from the director. Finally, she broke the silence. “Ms. Rodriguez, you had your chance. Both of you should report to my office tomorrow.”