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Keeping Your Greek Life Out of the Office

August 29, 2005

It’s a typical Monday morning and your coworkers ask what you did over the weekend and your friends email you to find out why you ditched them on Saturday night. Lurking behind a muddle of Excel spreadsheets or Word documents is an Internet Explorer window stuck on the
DCGreeks.com photo page which you navigated to through your search engine so it doesn’t appear in the drop down of your most recently visited web addresses. You know that God forbid if anyone at your office ever discovered DCGreeks.com or worse your profile on there, that you’d be subjected to more questions than you could find answers to, or that your coworkers would be bored enough to visit the site trying to find pictures of you, guys with the bad shirts or the huge mono-brows, or girls who are more attractive than anything they see at their typical happy hours.

Keeping one’s personal and professional live separate is difficult in a time where many Americans are working ever increasing hours surrounded by the same people. Many find themselves working so long that they find themselves living vicariously through the lives of the few of their coworkers that have interesting lives outside of the office. Greek-American Young Adults are known for a work-hard/play-hard lifestyle especially as compared to their other coworkers, so naturally they are going to be the ones who their coworkers look to for entertaining stories. (Doubt that this is the true? A busy part of the Greek calendar could have even the average Greek American attending up to a dozen events in a month both in DC and out-of-town. When’s the last time one of your coworkers attended a conference with 1600 other young adults?) But not every Greek-American desires or is comfortable with being the center of attention, particularly if they don’t know they’re co-workers that well, so a little bit of secrecy is in order simply for self-survival or even just to make work a place where work actually gets done.

Imagine a Thursday morning at work surrounded by your non-Greek coworkers who notice that you’re dressed a little more stylishly than you should be at work, particularly during the middle of the week. Of course unless there is a monthly work meeting that takes place on the Third Thursday of the month, they haven’t noticed that it’s only on particular Thursdays that you’re dressed this way. When asked why you’re all dressed up, you could cycle through a list of canned excuses and denials – This is how I always dress ~ Hey at least I’m not the guy wearing the same blue oxford and khakis three times a week ~ I’m picking up milk at the Social Safeway later – anything to mask the fact that you’re going to meet up with a group of Greek-Americans at a randomly selected bar that you’ve got to be in the know to find for a Third Thursday happy hour. You’ll catch happy hour with your coworkers next week at the usual bar within a block of your office wearing nothing particularly remarkable and hopefully they’ll soon forget that you mysteriously ditched them last week.

Skip to Saturday night around midnight and you’re out with a group of your coworkers. You’re looking at your watch and for an excuse to ditch them for one of two reasons – you’re going to Greek Night or you’ve got church in the morning – both of which many of them wouldn’t understand or many Greek-Americans wouldn’t admit. (Count the number of your Greek friends that go to church even one Sunday a month, and then count the number of your non-Greek friends who do the same, and as small as the first number might be, odds are the second number will be even lower.) Your early exit can either make you seem cooler than them in their eyes or seem just plain antisocial, making them think that there’s always someplace else you’d rather be than hanging with them. But at least it keeps your Greek social life from being the topic of the weekly staff meeting.

There will eventually come a time when office politics and social mores will demand that you grant your coworkers a greater glimpse into your Greek life outside the office, unless you plan a private destination wedding in Santorini or have your kids baptized in the same church back in the village where you or your parents were baptized back in the day. Hopefully when that day comes your coworkers will find your life as unexciting as theirs or that you’ll have managed to hire a younger Greek-American to take your place as the person with the after-hours life that they wish they had.


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