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Rumor Has It

"Rumors hurt, but can also be fun."

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We have all seen the results of vicious rumors and even nice rumors that twisted into something different. How do these happen and how do the twists end up in them?

We have seen it often. Someone witnessed part of an event. That person told someone else. By the time the rumor passed through a group of people, the story of the event differed greatly from the original. The potential for physical and emotional harm grew with each telling.

I was a victim of what started out to be a harmless rumor in my very first professional position. I was the new man in the technical staff, which meant I got all the tasks no one else wanted. In a very short time, I worked with the company president and vice president of sales to sell the largest client an upgrade to their existing computer system.

With that success, they gave me two upgrade projects to run. The projects were not as large financially, but had staffs for each to manage. While running these projects, I met an engineer on another project who struggled with her tasks. I offered to help her and we spent a lot of time together.

Her name was Barbara. As time passed Barbara and I spent time going to lunch together, taking walks in the woods talking about work and problems there.

As soon as we left the office for lunch or walk together, people started to speculate about our relationship. We would show up to company parties or Thursday night drinks together. A few times, when my car needed service, she met me and we arrived to work together in her car. As we walked into the building, Barbara tripped and I grabbed her rather intimately to prevent injury. She wrapped her arms around my neck and it appeared we were comfortable together. As I picked her up, her lips kissed my cheek.

Within an hour, the complete office was abuzz that Barbara and I were a couple. The office knew we had spouses, so the rumors grew fast and furiously. The variations we heard were many. Over lunch that day, we laughed about the rumors. We decided to let the rumors stand and not try to quell them. In fact, we decided to help affirm some of them.

The next three weeks were critical for the projects we worked and we made a reservation at a local motel for a place to stay and clean up each day. We rented one room, but used it separately. No one in the company knew we played this game with them.

Barbara finished her project and prepared to deliver it. Upper management decided that she was too junior to deliver the project alone and assigned me to travel with her to the client's site. The time on site meant we would be gone for at least two weeks. Now it was our opportunity to have fun with the rumor mill.

My secretary prepared Barbara and my trip and reservations for lodging. She requested two rooms, a rental car and airline tickets to Pittsburgh , PA. The request seemed innocent enough and when the travel documents came back, everything seemed in order.

Barbara and I sat together on the flight to Pittsburgh and got our rental car and luggage. The motel we stayed at knew me from earlier trips, knew what I liked for a room and greeted me by name. Barbara walked beside me up to the desk. The desk clerk handed us one key and the register to sign.

It seemed the travel agent who was an outside company knew of our little "affair" and decided that we only needed one room to share.

Barbara and I stood laughing at the room assignment. Our game was over.

Written by frogprince
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