When you spend 40-50 hours a week at work, it's inevitable, at some point, that you're going to cry.

It's a professional no-no, and for women in particular, can be viewed as a sign of weakness. But there are times you can't help it. It's embarrassing, but absolutely necessary.

In the past decade, I've only cried at work twice. That, I think, is a superb display of my emotional toughness. But I've been on the verge of crying — with my eyes completely welled up — dozens of times.

The first full-blown waterworks display happened when my mom called to inform me that my grandfather had died suddenly. And in my mother's famously dramatic style, the conversation went like this:


Me (perkily): Hello! This is Jamie!
My mom: Grandpa's dead.

Not "Hi Jamie, it's Mom. I have some bad news."  Not, "Hey, do you have a minute?" She just blurted it out.

As soon as we hung up, I made a mad dash for the bathroom. I went into the handicapped stall, sat on the edge of the toilet, hung my head and wept for a good 10 minutes. Meanwhile, my coworkers came in and out of the bathroom, wondering what was going on in the last stall. No doubt they looked near the opening on the bottom of the stall, to see if they could ID the shoes.

When I finally emerged, I looked in the mirror and saw my red sploched face and puffy eyes, and knew I'd have to explain.

The worst thing about crying at work is responding to "Are you OK?" questions from well-meaning co-workers, who after learning you're OK, rush back to their cubicles and send gossipy e-mails, informing anyone who might not have known that you were crying. And of course, there's the challenge of not crying again when you answer their question.

Cry #2 took place when my newspaper laid off a bunch of people last year. A friend from my department got axed, and I became unexpectedly emotional. I think it was a mixture of sadness, guilt, pity, hormones, and relief that I was still employed. Nonetheless, it drew a lot of stares (and no doubt, e-mails) when I boo-hooed at our post-layoff departmental meeting.

Anyone got a cry-at-work story to share?