It's getting dark at like 4 p.m., which means it's company holiday party season once again. While a holiday party can be a chance to celebrate all the great work you've done throughout the year, it can also get...messy.
Well, according to one redditor, the mess has started a bit early this year. u/puzzbat9019 shared on r/AntiWork that they caught their boss in a compromising position during their company's holiday party and they're not really sure what they should do now. Here's what happened:
The party was in full swing and people were drinking. Then, the poster said, "I wanted to head out kind of early, as I didn't want to be hungover at work today. I left my bags in a kind of remote part of the office. As I walked into the dark desk space, I heard a noise right away."
What was the noise, you say? "I looked over and in the corner was definitely my boss and an intern from another department hooking up (early stages it seemed like, but was hard to tell in the dark). I was obviously shocked as my boss doesn't have a history of being a creep, and I have never even seen these two people interact."
As if that's not awkward enough, in a comment, the poster added that the intern is "quite young" while the boss is in his 40s.
But it doesn't end there. "The real problem was that they saw me seeing them. Like, for the love of god, why would you do this in the office itself? At least do your shady shit in neutral territory."
And now they're in quite the predicament. "I will not tell anyone what I saw, but still not sure how I should approach the situation. No idea how I will look my boss in the eyes after seeing that, as he is married and I don't want to be punished even indirectly for catching him. How should I approach this? Does anyone have also awkward or embarrassing stories at work Christmas or holiday parties? Need to know I am not alone. It will at least make me feel better."
In the comments, people shared their own tales of seeing something they wish they didn't at the company holiday party.
One person shared, "It happened to me, and I knew his wife and kids. Just act normal. Don't try to make awkward conversations. Send yourself an email with details, date, time, your decision to not mention anything, and keep this in case of retaliation."
Another person pointed out that the poster might not be the only one who saw something. "If it was in the office, there might be security cameras, so security might be aware too! I had a boss who hooked up in a conference room with a colleague at the company Christmas party one year. I got told this by security after she got fired a few years later for firing one of my colleagues under false pretenses and he sued. For now, I would act like you saw nothing. If he questions you, pretend like you were drunk or it was too dark to see but keep it in your pocket in case you need it."
And another person shared how they handled a similar situation. "This happened to me, and I actually caught the boss and his girlfriend twice. Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I acted as if I had seen nothing, even after he subtly threatened me. Even when the wife came to me asking if I thought her husband was having an affair, I asked her what she thought."
As far as what the OP (original poster) should do about catching their boss with the intern, most commenters seemed to think they should just pretend they never saw it. The top comment with over 5,000 upvotes said, "Act like nothing happened, act the same as you always do. He will think you didn’t see anything. People believe what they want to believe."
Personally, I absolutely understand the instinct to say nothing and let it go if you see coworkers hooking up at the holiday party, but I think there are a couple of things in this story that make it worth speaking up about.
First, the power dynamic between a young intern and an established boss, even from another department, complicates the situation. Given the gap in workplace power and the age gap between the boss and the intern and the fact that alcohol was involved, I would want to check in with the intern privately to make sure that she was okay.
Would it be awkward? Probably. But as someone who experienced some wildly inappropriate behavior from creepy older men when I was starting my career, it would have meant the world to me if literally anyone had been looking out for me. So I'd rather face the awkwardness than let something potentially damaging slide.
Also, if the OP happens to be in a management role (and depending on company policy around fraternization), they might be required to report having seen this hookup to HR. If they don't report it, the OP could also wind up in hot water for being complicit in a toxic work environment — especially since the intern saw them witness the hookup.
Now I'm curious: What would you do in this situation? Have you ever been in a similar scenario? Let's talk about it in the comments.