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Four weeks ago, the CEO of the company I work for called me into his office to discuss a change in my reporting structure. It was a Thursday morning.

“I need to streamline the reporting structures, as I have some 20 people reporting to me,” he said. “How would you feel about reporting directly to Lorna?”

How would I feel reporting to a woman I had feelings for?

That wouldn’t complicate anything, would it?

Groan.

Truth is, Lorna is fucking brilliant and I would be so lucky to work even more closely with her.

I had reservations, though.

If anything was to happen between us, my job would be at risk. She could have me up for harassment, or worse, have me fired. Not good.

I currently report to a manager I sit next to — a really great guy I had previously worked with more than 20 years ago.

My current manager isn’t in half the time as he works from home a lot, and he is happy to be as flexible with me. He has no problem with me taking a short lunch so that I can leave 30 minutes early, which is handy on days I need to do school pick-ups.

Would Lorna afford me the same working flexibility?

I was caught between a rock and a hard place.

“Yes, that’s fine,” I heard myself saying. “Lorna and I work well together and it makes sense that I report to her.”

When I came out of the meeting, I scheduled a meeting with Lorna for the following day to discuss details.

On Friday, we met in one of the corporate meeting rooms to go over how the arrangement would work.

“I’m really happy to be on your team,” I said.

“Are you? That’s good.”

And she had no problem with flexibility arrangements.

Phew.

And then Monday came. Lorna was working from home but she called me in the afternoon.

“Can you talk privately?” she asked.

“No, but hang on, I’ll walk to one of the meeting rooms.”

I walked quickly and shut the door.

“OK, we can talk,” I said.

“I just resigned.”

Oh God. WHAT?!

“Fuck, Lorna,” I stammered.

She said she wasn’t happy. The CEO was putting too much pressure on her and constantly criticised her work. The asshole marketing manager was gunning for her. She was sick. She had lost weight. Her mental health was overloaded. The role wasn’t working out.

I felt the tears slide down my cheeks as she laid it all out.

Lorna was going.

I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach.

Five days later, she was gone.

And just like that, I stopped caring about work. I stopped caring what I was going to wear. I stopped caring about what I ate or what I looked like.

Most of my enjoyment about going to work was about seeing Lorna, having a coffee break with her, collaborating on projects, discussing the merits of foreign films.

And now that was all gone.

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