A normal day – I’d groaned and rolled out of bed later than I should, scraped the cat hair out of my mouth, and was greeted by my eleven-year-old wearing T-Rex slippers and chocolate smears on her lips.
“Been up a while?” I asked her.
“Nope. Just got out of bed.”
“So the chocolate is from…?”
“Uh, is that the bus? I have to go. See ya, Mum!”
“You don’t catch the bus. And you’re still wearing pyjamas.”
“Oh. Yeah,” she said. “Uh, I have homework. Yeah, homework, that’s right. I’ll be in my room.”
Searching for my keys last night, I’d emptied the contents of my bag into the clean-laundry basket, so most of the clothes in there were covered in fluffy bits of lint and assorted cookie wrappers. I examined an outfit that was mostly okay. A mint was stuck to the inside of a sleeve so I popped it into my mouth to eliminate the cat-hair taste. I scraped the sleep from my eyes and ran a brush through the knots, then sighed, dusted off the outfit and pulled it over my head.
You know, normal day.
So I made it to work late as usual after giving in to the demands of chocolate cereal (hers) and three coffees and left-over pineapple jelly (mine) but that was as far as I can admit to normality.
Geoff from Receiving was walking in ahead of me. Geoff and I always talk about the football or other stuff I know nothing about. He says something, I say something, he laughs at my attempt to appear knowledgeable and corrects the team names for me with a shake of the head.
But not today. When he turned at my greeting, his smile faltered a little. Then he hurried away tripping over his own feet in his haste.
Then it was Jane from Accounts.
“Hey Janey, what’s shaking? Tell you what, that jelly I ate for breakfast sure is!”
Expecting a laugh, she instead stared wide-eyed at me, then her keyboard, a small line forming between her brows.
Puzzled, I left her to it and continued to my cubicle.
There were other incidents. Like in the staff room for nine-fifteen coffee. I walked in – conversation stopped. People stared. Some smirked.
By ten-thirty coffee break, I’d had enough. I stood up and yelled, “All right people, what the heck is going on here? Have I got I’m an axe murderer tattooed on my forehead, or what?”
A pin dropped.
Gary from Dispatch hustled out of the room, but everyone else just froze. A few silent moments later, they all got back to work as if they hadn’t noticed the shouting diva having a meltdown in cubicle 10.
I stalked to the bathroom on the second floor – pointedly ignoring the stares – muttering about ignorant co-workers and cowardly dispatch employees.
As I walked past the mirrors, I thought I caught a glimpse of something.
No way. I will never live this down.
I reached up and pulled a panty liner from my hair that I had apparently been wearing like a jaunty ’40s fascinator.
Obviously it had come out of my bag and stuck to my outfit (and then my head as I pulled it on). But why me? Why?
Right. Time for a plan.
Minutes later, I strutted out of the bathroom, poised and elegant.
Gary was on the way back from the coffee-room. He looked at me and sagged with relief.
“Thought you’d never get rid of that thing.” He chuckled. “How embarrassing for you.” Then he clocked it, his lips curling in an awkward smile.
“Yeah, what a silly mistake,” I said. “Thanks for letting me know, by the way.”
“I’m an axe murderer,” he read it on my breast pocket. Then he shrugged. “I guess that works.”
“More than you’ll know Gary,” I said with an evil wink. “More than you’ll know.”
After watching Gary make his second hasty retreat of the day, I did wonder if this may be why I don’t hold down a job for very long.