Warning: Don’t read this if your funny bone’s in traction, or if your tongue can’t be planted firmly in cheek… 

On a talk show I heard an ex-agent describe the Secret Service as an “adultery-prone culture.”

This got me thinking about what would actually make a work culture “adultery-prone.”

We’ve all heard of family-friendly workplaces. But what characteristics would make an occupation mistress-and-lover-friendly? It’s tempting to say that the most adultery-prone “profession” is being a politician, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most adultery-friendly.

So if you’re yearning to “hike the Appalachian trail”—Governor Mark Sanford’s flamboyant cover story for a secret tryst with his Argentinian mistress—you’ll want a profession that scores high on all 10 of these criteria:  

FLEXIBILITY. Flex-time and flexible hours are every bit as important to a mistress as to a spouse.

At the very lowest end on flexibility would be, say, working as a toll collector in a booth for an eight hour shift on the Turnpike, or being a Wal-Mart cashier who punched a clock, and probably had to fight for bathroom breaks.

At the very highest end on the flexibility grade would be if you’re an eccentric, manic artist who’s highly-paid—hah!—and insists on working alone in a remote studio in the mountains. Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, sort of had a lover-friendly arrangement with his remote cabin and his “writing,” although, of course, he was insane, and a terrorist, and, so far as I recall, not married.

High Lover-Friendly Rating: Any kind of freelancer, or consultant.

Low Rating: work-release prisoner on highway cleaning detail, elementary school teacher, Starbucks barista, assembly line operative, train conductor, nuclear reactor technician

 

TECH-RICH, BUT NOT TECH-SURVEILLED. In order to make plans and send endearments to your lover, your workplace should be generously wired with all the cutting-edge modes of connection, but not surveilled by employers.

Employers who restrict social media access and monitor emails significantly lower their mistress-friendly workplace scores.

 

GOOD COVER STORY POTENTIAL. If you’re devising cover stories, then the most mistress-friendly profession is one where you have many plausible “important meetings” in theory, but not a lot of truly important meetings in reality. If you actually do have a lot of ad hoc meetings to attend, then actual trysts become tricky because you’re too busy and your schedule’s erratic.

High Rating: Surgeons and doctors in some specialties, fundraisers, pilots, mid-level managers, public policy staff at nonprofits, personal assistant to a  rich, famous, and eccentrically demanding celebrity; homicide detective (remember “The Wire?” Philandering detectives were always “catching a case” and unable to come home).

Low Rating:  TSA airport security screener, lab technician, garbage dump attendant in small-ish county

 

ANONYMOUS. Your profession has to be an anonymous one that no one especially cares to summon as the object of their moral homily.  This, of course, is where the mistress-friendly score for U.S. Congressmen and Governors really tumbles. Not that it prevents their affairs, but...

 

CONFERENCE-HEAVY. It looks like everyone’s watching boring old PowerPoint presentations, but professional conferences, whether in Las Vegas or a suburb of Pierre, South Dakota, crackle with “adultery-prone” ambiance and provide ample tryst opportunities, as well as that “rules are suspended” aura of being away from home. The more conferences your profession has, the higher its mistress-friendly score.

High Rating: pharmaceutical salespeople or executives; academics and researchers; sales professionals; headhunters and talent scouts

Low: Pastry chefs, accountants

 

GENEROUS LEAVE TIME. Every bit as important for the mistress as the spouse.

 

JOB HAS NO NATIONAL SECURITY RELEVANCE. This is where the Secret Service agents fell apart. Sure, their profession scores high on the “Freedom of Movement,” “Geographic Mobility,” and “Important Meetings” scale but there’s that matter of protecting the President.

High Rating: Anything but the Secret Service

Low: The Secret Service 

BOHEMIAN MILIEU. You want a profession of self-named freethinkers. You’d also want a profession that prides itself on unconventionality and bohemianism, on “pushing the envelope,” and staking the “edgy” frontier.

While the ministry would score high on certain values, and has produced its fair share of adulterers, they obviously score the lowest on this ethical scale, as their profession gives them precious little wiggle room on adultery.

High Rating: Editor; “culture magazine” journalist, post-modern something or other, artist, professor, writer, PR “creative” type; World Bank Policy expert or economist (they’re known in Washington as an infidelity vector).

Low: Minister, School Counselor, Popular Coach in a Lucrative Sport

 

GEOGRAPHIC MOBILITY AND FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT.  You can’t be tethered to one place for your entire workday.

High Rating: Real Estate Agents, appraisers, IT consultants, landscapers, archaeologists

Low Rating: Librarian, Judge, Federal Government Desk Job Bureaucrat

 

MONEY. Ideally, you’d be adequately compensated so that you could afford nice lover necessities and luxuries—pied-a-terres, hotel rooms, secret trips, nights out, room service, etc.—but not so well-paid that your behavior makes you a liability to your business, or puts you in the too-conspicuous glare of being a Famous Wealthy Person.

A writer has all the flexibility in the world—but, that’s mostly because they’re rarely paid much to do anything, and therefore no one really cares where they are, or what they do there. They score badly on the money ranking.

CEOs are a problem at the other end of the scale. If all of your shareholders are going to care about your cheating, you’re scoring really low on this value.

 

So, for the ultimate mistress-friendly profession and workplace we want:  A well-paying but not extravagantly-paying profession, with no national security relevance, tolerance for unconventionality, a tech-friendly workplace but no tech surveillance, flexible hours and work schedules, lots of conferences, plausible cover stories of important meetings but few actually important meetings, freedom of movement, and cultural anonymity.

And my top five Mistress-and-Lover-Friendly Occupations are….in no particular order:

  • Tenured College Professor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Freelance IT expert or consultant
  • Successful Artist or Writer
  • Specialty Doctors with Frequent Patient “Emergencies” to tend to