It’s 2013, I’m a media and cultural studies graduate and living back home with my parents. I have a dull ache inside of me, which I irrationally assume is pregnancy but later discover is the urge to travel, and I’m working for a top law firm in my first ‘proper job’. My father insists it’s ‘about time you got a job’ as ‘that’s what people do after university’.
The truth is, I still have no idea where I want to be in life but I do know it wasn’t there. I don’t want to live at home, I don’t want to be filing invoices for £7 an hour and I don’t want to be ordered around by a top heavy secretary with dyed roots and a tone of voice that still makes me shudder when I repeat it in my head.
Alas, this is where I was in 2013 and it was ‘Champagne Friday’ in the office. This bi-annual event was to celebrate big settlements that the firm had won and included magnum bottles of Moët and endless multi-packs of ready salted crisps (the expensive ones from Marks and Spencer, you know). This particular Friday was ‘dress-down’ and after one or two glasses of bubbles I was getting too comfortable reciting a funny story to the partner in charge of my team.
This story told how I was mistaken for a lesbian in the toilets of the office and instead of putting her, ahem, straight, I politely nodded and went back about my day. The partner listening to this story simply said at the climax, ‘maybe you should avoid wearing those dungarees’ and turned to grab a handful of posh crisps.
Like any normal person I obviously took this as a sign to sink another 3 or 4 glasses of champagne and start hitting on the only male in the office who wasn’t bald, ugly or bald and ugly. We finished our drinks and went to a bar around the corner, where the tables were made of old PAC man machines and the single pours cost more than my shoes. I took the fact he was in my company out of his own free will as a sign that he fancied me (I did this with most guys post-university, I hadn’t been single for very long) and spent the night listening to his stories about his grandma and how his flat mate had the ‘best job ever’ until it was time to catch my train home.
At the station I had time to kill and so he stayed with me for extra drink. Side note: A few months earlier I had been told I was allergic to wheat and gluten and should ‘avoid beer and bread and things’. “Hey it’s 2 budweisers for 5 quid, want one?” He was buying me a drink and I was already well on my way to being obliterated so how could I refuse? A few minutes later and half a bottle down I began feeling a rumbling in my stomach, one that wasn’t unfamiliar and one I knew would soon turn into more. He was talking. A lot. I couldn’t interrupt him as his face looked serious, although by now I had completely stopped listening and could hear only the noises coming from my body. I put a hand up to his face to signal ‘shut up’ and I think I uttered the word ‘toilet’ before dashing to the ladies’ bathroom.
Once in the cubicle I rushed to undress, ‘maybe I SHOULD stop wearing dungarees’ I thought as the buttons seemed glued together at this moment in time. I pulled them down ready to sit but my foot slipped on the tile floor and my bum bounced off the toilet bowl and onto the ground where I continued to shit uncontrollably without even attempting to get back on the seat. Surrounded by my own faeces and the outfit that I have since burned, I looked around and realised there was a kind of handsome trainee solicitor waiting outside for me and I took what seemed like a year to clean up the room and compose myself to exit.
Back in the pub it was a calm atmosphere, the complete opposite to the frantic feeling of cleaning faecal matter from your clothes in a very public toilet…he seemed un-phased, just looked up from his phone and said “I think your train’s nearly here” to me this meant much more than the literal sense he had meant it in; My train was there to take me back to whatever crazy town I had come from. Passenger one, destination loony bin. We hugged goodbye and I imagine he walked home thinking ‘had a nice drink with Rachel, what do I want for dinner?’ I sat down in a busy carriage of commuters, looked down at my feet and thought ‘I’ve got shit on my shoe’.