How could I have been so stupid? How?!
The internship was going so well! The work I was doing was getting some great feedback, people were smiling at me around the office and asking those typical questions one gets in the offices. Questions like "So, did you have a good weekend?" and "... So, what are you up to this weekend?". I even was invited to a couple of meetings in the boardroom. The boardroom! That's no place for an intern to be sitting! That's for, well, the board! Clearly I was moving in the right direction.
But then it all came crashing down.
It was a balmy, Thursday afternoon. I had prepared for the day so well. Ironed trousers, ironed shirt, polished shoes, combed hair, clean shaven. I was ready to rock the very foundations of the world of business. The morning was just a blur of quick-fire jobs, people's recommendations, and the promise of more work beyond my original time at the company. I was here to stay and make the most of it! I'd even upgraded to a new chair- one with arms and wheels, and a back which doesn't itch my delicate skin.
Pleased with a morning of sheer excellence, I took lunch a little later than usual, so keen was I to not break the momentum I had built up. At two o clock, I afforded myself a little, well deserved pause.
That's when things started to go wrong.
I was on my way to the shops to pick up some chicken, because, for some reason, I left the house this morning with a chicken caesar salad, minus the key ingredient, a lollypop, because I am five years old, and a milkybar, for the same reason. I received an email, with another little bit of work for me to do on it, from a woman in another department. A young woman, who I'd had a little contact with before, but this was something that we would be working on quite extensively. I see the email arrive on phone (because they can do that, these days), and I reply promptly.
'Yeah, that's fine, I'll have it all ready by tomorrow for you.
I have made a big bloody mistake.
Kisses on an email?!
This is not a friend, this is not a chat, this is a bloody colleague with some bloody work for bloody me, and I've gone and sent kisses at the end of my email! What the HELL did I do that for? I have sent an email to a work colleague with kisses on the end, and there is nothing I can do to rectify it! I'm stuck in the middle of a supermarket, holding some chicken, staring at my phone like an idiot, completely dumbstruck at what I have just done.
I quickly calculate the scale of my disaster: by the time I have paid for the chicken and pork pie (by the way I also bought a pork pie, pot-bellied demon that I am), she will have told the woman next to her. By the time I have left the store, the woman next to her will have told the people around her. By the time I'm out of the car park, her whole department will know. By the time I get back to work, the whole damn office will know that James Brittain is an absolute sleaze who will send kisses on emails to whoever he goddamn pleases. By the time my boss returns from London, I will be out of a job, I just know it. I imagine myself returning home to see all my clothes slung out of the window, and a note from the missus saying "Saw what you did on the news, we're fucking finished" attached to my pulverised xbox, and my guitar hanging by it's strings from the tree in my garden.
This would never have happened if I hadn't answered that stupid email with my phone. I text with my phone, and I send kisses on the end of texts! I must have automatically thought I was sending a message to somebody close to me. What an idiot! Because of one silly little error, I will now forever be branded as the office bike. That's it- I can't go back to work. I can't show my face in there, the shame would be unbearable. The heated glares would burn the hairs on the back of my neck, and melt my cold shame, reducing it to a puddle right by where I was standing.
I slide in through the back door at work, head bowed away from eye contact, and quickly sit down. I open up my salad, add the chicken, and set about wolfing it down as fast as I can, so I can just get back to work- at least that was going well for me. A part of me hoped that I would be judged for my work, but that quickly vanished, because I'd picked the worst food to eat in a sexual harassment crisis.
My chicken caesar salad was in a tupperware box in the office fridge, I'd also brought a yoghurt from home, and there was that pork pie. None of this food was particularly helpful to my cause. The chicken pieces I had purchased were far too big, and I'd only brought a fork with me. Not wanting to risk another walk to the kitchen, I soldiered on, cutting all my food with the fork, until I exerted to much, and a sauce-stained leaf of spinach flew out of my box and onto the laptop that work had given me. I quickly wiped it off with a napkin I'd saved from Burger King (times are hard...) and got back to eating.
It wasn't until three mouthfuls later when I spotted a rogue bit of salad on the desk next to me, right in front of another colleague. Before it had even registered in my mind, I broke into a sweat. Had she heard about the sexting-scandal? Did she think this was my way of finding a reason to move my hand over to her desk? If she did, she hid it well as she carried on with her work. I, faced with the biggest dilemma of my professional career, decided to use the same Burger King napkin (times are really hard...) to wipe it away as subtly as I can, whilst I mumbled something which sounded absolutely nothing like the word "sorry".
Wondering quite how the past 45 minutes had ruined four weeks of hard work so effectively, I moved on to the yoghurt. There's nothing remotely incriminating about a yoghurt is there? The missus had bought a pack which was rather delicious and healthy- guilt free in every way. I peel the lid off and stir the pot to get in all those bits at the side that don't stick to the lid, but aren't the same texture as the rest of the yoghurt. Saying that, quite a lot HAD stuck to the lid... I couldn't help myself.
I lick the lid, while at the same time look around to make sure nobody was watching.
Somebody was watching, another female, and I catch her eye.
Now I'm somebody who's looking at another woman, licking the lid of a yoghurt pot, with an odd look in my eye. I know what the look is- it's one of sheer panic and complete and utter fear for not just my job, but also my life, but how is she meant to know that? I try to blink and break the contact, but it's such a half-hearted effort, it involves just one of my eyes. Was that a wink? There is no recovery from such a situation. I have just single handedly written my own death sentence with one flick of my tongue.
For the rest of the afternoon, I do not utter a single word. Typing frantically, and looking incredibly busy. I don't think it fooled anybody- interns aren't meant to be busy. Their sole responsibility is remembering who has what in their tea (which, since the fiasco mentioned in a previous post, I hadn't even bothered to do). High-flyer that I am, and my 'U' in Maths can vouch for that, I had set myself one goal when I arrived at this job: don't fuck it up. It looked like I was going to fail quite spectacularly.
I check my inbox for any more work/lawsuits.
I'm starting to get quite hungry again as the day draws to a close. But I can't eat that lollypop- the Sultan of suggestive foods- and the milkybar was devoured in a quick toilet/uncontrollable sob break 45 minutes ago. The pork pie would have just spoiled my appetite for dinner. Oh God, I'm bloody starving!
I head over to the kitchen to grab some water- oh god, she's walking towards me. The victim of my lurid advances is walking straight towards me. I brace myself for a barrage of abuse.
I knew it. She so fancies me.