“This Is More Than Just A Sexual Harassment Clause,” by Erik Cofer

May 22nd, 2013 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

From: HR Department

To: Employee # 04836

We are committed to providing a sexual harassment-free workplace. Sexual harassment is unlawful and will not be tolerated. If it is determined that an alleged instance of sexual harassment is credible, the company will take swift and appropriate action against the offending party. Etc. etc. etc.

By now you’re probably wondering two things: 1) “What is that marvelous, intoxicating odor?” and 2) “Why, as I read this, is this exemplar of masculine perfection hovering over me?” Well, the odor you’re being graced with at present is Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani, and the man is I, the first-person narrator of this sexual harassment clause. Understand that I have no intentions of hovering omnisciently in the background like the banal third-person narrators of most bureaucratically-contrived workplace policy agreements. I’m right here, eternally present on the page, and literally inches from your face as you proceed to plow through this thorough and painstakingly constructed policy. Unlike my policy-writing predecessors, I’ve chosen to embrace the potential for author-reader engagement. I perceive you as more than an end; we operate together on a plane transcendent of all temporality.

Rather than bore you to death with technical jargon about what ‘is’ sexual harassment and what the definition of ‘is’ is, let’s just you and I soar forward to the proper procedures for which you would take in the event that you have been, or have witnessed someone else being, sexually harassed. You must contact the Human Resources Department and formally file a complaint. You will be required to use your 5-digit Employee # rather than your name. (This prompts me to broach the subject of another number: your phone number. I’d like it. I’ve created a blank for it at the bottom of the page in place of the standard employee signature.) Fair warning: I’ve never actually filed such a complaint myself, but I hear that it’s absurdly tedious and realistically not worth the effort expended.

This is where I’m supposed to inform you, in alarming detail, of the ostensibly serious ramifications of violating this policy, but I think it’s safe to assume that by now you’ve come to realize that this isn’t your Employee # 00235’s sexual harassment clause. This is a post-postmodern wilderness of avant-garde policy construction that you’ve entered into, and all bets are off. I mean, really, there isn’t even a place for your signature—how crazy is that?!

What if I were to inform you that this document isn’t even binding? That I physically hijacked the actual ‘official’ sexual harassment policy from Wendy in HR, much in the same way that you, Employee # 04836, have emotionally hijacked my heart? Would that make this document any less meaningful, or our love for one another any less true? Have you even a firm grasp that this is really happening, right here right now?

Now, I imagine that you’re more than a little obfuscated about whether this here document signifies a clever performative example of how one should NOT behave in the workplace when encountering an earth-shatteringly beautiful, hair-raising individual such as yourself, or if it is actually a rather stealthy attempt by myself – author, narrator, and Employee # 03947 – to woo you into an unforgettable night on the town, perhaps followed by some overtime back at your place. That’s for you to decide, Employee # 04836/babe.


Defenestration-Erik CoferErik Cofer is a writer living in the Atlanta area. In addition to writing short works that often devolve into cutesy metafiction, he is also pursuing an M.A. in Literary Studies at Georgia State University. He has neither his own website nor a Twitter account, but you can hunt him down on Facebook if you’re into that sort of thing. A dream-inspired nickname for himself that he is hoping will one day gain traction is “The Oakland Phenom.” Don’t ask.


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