(NB: I could not possibly imagine how I was going to illustrate this post, so I decided that on this occasion, it was probably safer for all of us if I just stuck with the words…)
Sometimes you have those days that you never forget (try as you might). This story is about one of those days. This story is about the day my manager shat her pants.
I wish with all my heart that my next sentence could have been an explanation of how ‘shat her pants’ is just a crass euphemism for fright or panic or surprise. But on this particular day, it was a very literal shitting-of-trousers. It was, literally and figuratively, a very poohey day.
Allow me to explain. About 8 years ago, I worked as a lettings administrator for an estate agency in London. There were three of us in lettings, and while the sales guys worked on ground level, with all the natural light and fresh air their hearts desired, lettings was below ground, in the basement: just four open plan desks, a kitchenette and the bathroom.
For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call my two colleagues by their animal equivalents: Owl and Froggy.
Owl was a kind hearted but excruciatingly posh and bum-squeakingly uptight 30-something. She was the sort of woman who found exclamation marks in emails stressful. And she could never simply ask me to do something for her: a request was always preceded with the shrill singsong of: Ceciiiiiii…. I have a little jobby for youuuuuuuuuuuuu!
There is almost nothing more irritating than being sung at all day, to do little jobbys.
I say almost, because Froggy, the Lettings Manager, had a (admittedly terrible) condition called Ulcerative Colitis, which caused her to submit to regular, random explosions of violent diahorrea.
When I first started in this job, Froggy confided in me about her projectile affliction. I was compassionately horrified and sympathetic; impressed that this brave woman could get through life with a spontaneously combusting bum, hold down a job and keep her head held high. At least until I discovered that by ‘confide’ she meant add me to the list of EVERYONE SHE’D EVER MET who knew about her unstable backside.
You see, Froggy was a martyr. Which meant, when the time came, there were unpleasant consequences. VERY UNPLEASANT CONSEQUENCES.
It was around 11am, just before lunch, when Froggy sat bolt upright, eyes wide with surprise, and shot to the bathroom.
Too late. Her angry digestive system unleashed with the rage of a thousand exploding gas tanks. My desk, which was closest to the bathroom, meant I was also closest the the aural and olfactory assault that assailed my nose and ears. (Did I mention no natural air?)
What followed was astounding.
Did Froggy make her excuses and leave?
Or, stay in the bathroom until she considered the situation salvaged?
No. A sane person might do one of those things and they would get nothing but sympathy and compassion from me. Instead, Froggy ran from the bathroom into the kitchen, where she gesticulated wildy for me to join her.
I did so reluctantly – and wished I’d hadn’t: She asked me to check the back of her pants suit for skids marks. SKID MARKS people.
And OF COURSE there were freaking skid marks. Who in their right mind, knowing they had a condition that caused REGULAR, RANDOM OCCURENCES OF PROJECTILE DIARRHOEA would wear white trousers?
So, did she make her excuses and leave then, with a cardigan wrapped around her waist? NO. OF COURSE NOT! Instead, she made a little seat cover of paper towel and sat back at her desk, emanating a smell I wouldn’t wish on the nostril of my worst enemy, lamenting how hard done by she was and how much work she still had to do before the day was done.
“Go home!” I chided, aghast. “GO HOME AND REST!” (All the while thinking: ….And have a shower / change your pants / invest in a life-time supply of extra-absorbent adult nappies. And for the love of God, don’t ever, EVER ask me to check you for skid marks again.)
Ladies and gentleman, I’m relieved to report she did go home, eventually. But she returned the next day. And every day after that; lamenting the affliction of her exploding bum, until the day I realised I couldn’t survive not having an appetite any longer, and handed in my notice.