Wolsey and I have worked together most of our lives. Usually we job hop, one of us would find a decent job, or at least one that we can tolerate, and the other will get hired on. We have done this in fast food jobs, retail, medical, and now for the first time we both work for the DoD in the same office.
People ask what we mean by job hop, the answer is that each of us have tipped over 60 jobs each and I would say half of the time we end up working with each other. Some may think this number is overblown, but I assure you it is actually a bit higher. We both have worked multiple jobs at the same time and before my job with SAO (at the age 37) the longest I had stayed at any one job was 10 months. We both get bored with jobs easily, and neither of us have been fired.
I love working with him. A lot of people get a strange look on their face, they can’t imagine working with their spouse. I explain I am working with my best friend, who just happens to be my spouse. Also, unlike many couples I have seen in the past, we don’t bring personal stuff to work. Having owned a couple of businesses together we have learned to put that away when we go to work, much to the disbelief of coworkers.
It was by accident that Wolsey was assigned to my office, originally he was supposed to work for a different office, but for whatever administration issue that happened he was assigned to mine. He doesn’t work on my team, which is fine, but we do sit about 40 feet apart or so.
Working with him relieves my anxiety a lot, which ensures I will stay at my job longer. In fact, when I got the job offer from the VA Office of Inspector General my current boss at the time asked what would keep me at the DoD. I was extremely stressed with my dad just passing and my mom’s health failing that I told him working with Wolsey was the key, don’t transfer us to separate places. He was fine with that and almost a year later we are still working together. While this is not my favorite office, it does mean I will try and stay on as long as Wolsey is here.
Fast forward to now. There were several openings in the other office that our office was told it needed “volunteers”. There was a bit of anxiety because some of the supervisors said we might get split up because there was an unofficial policy that spouses can’t work in the same office. We were warned it may be coming that we got split up even against our will.
Needless to say there was a lot of anxiety. So much so that I dug around federal human resources regulations and found that there is a 1978 Civil Service Reform Act that prohibits personnel actions based on several protected classes. One of them is marital status. I prepared my argument that they don’t move us because of their “unofficial” policy.
Two weeks go by and several coworkers get moved, but no sign of us. I asked some people “in the know” what was up. They laughed and said that Wolsey and I probably didn’t have to worry about a transfer. The Office Manager for the other office wouldn’t want one of us.
I was told “unofficially” that the other office manager was from a very conservative religion that may or may not be based in Utah. That the office manager himself was very conservative and evidently there is really no way he would willing choose someone as alternative as Wolsey or myself.
I was incensed for the first thirty seconds. Then I realized why the other office’s manager would never look directly at me when we had to talk. I was even more angry for another thirty seconds. Then I realized I had lucked out in a way. While the guy may not be accepting of Wolsey and I, it did mean I never had to worry about him pushing for either Wolsey or I being transferred to him.
Turns out that while close minded thinking hurts us overall, sometimes it works out for us on the small scale.