Tuesday, March 31, 2015

London, 2013

When I was 23, all the way back in 2003, I lived in London for a while. It was a strange time: I wanted so much to enjoy the experience but desperately missed my boyfriend back home in Australia. I had various temp jobs in offices where people approached me with curiosity in the beginning and then steadfastly avoided me, lest they get lumped with having the new girl ask to join their work clique on their lunch break. 

I was on the way to my first day of one of these temp jobs when I phoned the agency, saying I was running late because I couldn't find the stupid bus stop and then the stupid bus didn't stop where it was supposed to and to top it all off, I'd just stood in a puddle - because it bloody never stopped raining in bloody old Blighty - and my feet and shoes and socks and pants were soaked through all the way up to my bloody ankles.

None of it was true, of course. I was just having a shit time of it and hoped that if I sounded like I was about to cry, she would tell me to go home, where I would get back into bed and read comforting chick lit novels, while ramming Double Decker chocolate bars down my gullet. 

She told me, breezily but really quite firmly, that I must continue on my way to the job. They were in great need of help, I must go. She told me she would phone ahead on my behalf and let them know what had happened and that I was on my way, and that I could lock myself in a bathroom and dry my pants under a hand dryer.

I found myself agreeing to her plan and hung up, feeling pretty pissed off. I trudged along the street, somewhere in the outer reaches of North London before I realised that the manager at the job would expect me to have wet feet when I eventually lobbed up. If I turned up late with dry feet, she would know that I had been bullshitting her. I stood on the footpath, paralysed in indecision, until I knew I had to find a puddle to jump in.

At a next corner, I found a big one. It filled the gutter, rising nearly to meet the footpath, and spread out, covering the road. I paused, shook my head and then leapt into the water. When I walked away, I noticed a woman on the other side of the street, watching me.

To this day, I get the giggles when I think of her. It's a story I have told before ('That time I had to jump into a puddle') but I wonder if I have become a story has told people over the last twelve years. I wonder what she thought when she saw a reasonably well-dressed, reasonably sane-looking young woman sigh and then angrily and purposely jump into a puddle before carrying on, as though it was completely normal behaviour.

3 comments:

  1. This, my friend, is an AWESOME tale :)

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  2. You could have pretended someone pushed you and then turned around to argue with the invisible perp. I wonder how long it took her to tell someone. Five minutes? At dinner that night?

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