Friday, 13 December 2013

Coming Clean

What's important to know is, as a man who emerged on the other side of a 3 year stint in some of Swansea's finest flats and student accommodation, where 'what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine, but you have to wash it up because it's yours', it's safe to say that I'm not the most possessive of people. I don't mind if you have a cup of my delicious Chamomile and Honey (what?) tea in my favourite Cath Kidston (seriously, what's wrong with it?) mug, just as long as you say your pleases, your thank yous, and hold doors open for women. 

But what is even more (okay, neither really is "important", but for the purpose of this blog, it is) important to know is that not everybody is as open minded and liberal with their germs as I. Some people, as bizarre as it sounds, don't actually want the germs of another on their possession. In fact, some people actively go out of their way to decontaminate themselves from the slightest hint of a molecule of bacteria being shared from somebody else who, in their mind, is undeniably carrying a super-strain of AIDS crossed with diphtheria. 

Gentle, most forgiving and patient men such as I understand this, and do not wish to impose our reckless lifestyles on those who have to have a shower when a speck of dust lands on their scarf. All I ask in return is that these, shall we say, inhibited fellows do not impose their, shall we say, inhibited lifestyles on us. 

It's a dreary Tuesday and I have somehow, but deservedly, been branded as a tea-making skiver in my department, and am verbally frog-marched to the kitchen to do my 'fair' share of catering, which, given my experience in one of Britain's most questionably ethical hotels, should be a doddle. 

Unfortunately, because it was such a doddle, I end up losing focus and am left speaking to somebody I don't know, who's looking for a teaspoon. No problem, I say, and simply lift one out of the draw. 

"I'm afraid I can't use that one. You see, I can only use one teaspoon. It's my teaspoon, which I use only on when I make a tea for myself. I don't even use it on other people's teas"

I refrain from congratulating this stranger on being such a fucking biological martyr, leave him to uncover the whereabouts of the sacred teaspoon. 

"Aha!" he exclaims pulling a totally non-descript teaspoon out of the annoying bit in the dishwasher where convention has dictated is the ONLY place to put cutlery. "Got it!" he says to anyone listening (I think he meant me?), and continues to wash it (bearing in mind where he just got it from) in the sink. 

"Well done" I mumble, handing him a tea towel, so he can give his precious spoon the love it so clearly has desired in the dishwasher. 

I am given a look which, without context, might have been the look of a man who had just been offered to eat the toenails of Katie Hopkins. 

"You use the tea towels here?"

"Yes" I reply, bemused. "Why wouldn't I?"

He advances towards me, "Tea towels, my friend [we're not friends], are nothing but vehicles for germs to spread around the office. I don't know anybody in here that does use them."

I was starting to get a bit annoyed. If he is right, and nobody uses them, firstly; why is it slightly damp? and secondly; surely there are no germs on it, because nobody has touched it? I, surely, am the first person today to have touched the towel? Do I have germs? I bloody hope so. 

This charlatan, clearly thinking he hasn't imparted enough wisdom for one day, continues. 

"I recently have just come back to work after being ill for the third time this year, which is a bit unusual for me, so I'm pretty keen to be a bit on the safe side to begin with."

To put that into perspective, I have been ill once since December 2012, and that was in December 2012. You could almost say (and I'm touching every piece of wood in sight as I say this) that I have not been ill once in 2013. I've had a runny nose this year, but the winter was pretty cold. But I have not been so incapacitated that I have been unable to carry out my mundane tasks of life. Unfortunately, like most men, because of my five-star immune system (probably built up from, if you believe this stranger, years of licking toilet seats and burying my face in the ground so I can ingest a juicy worm), it means that when we men do get ill, we are so stricken with agony that many people think that we are overreacting to our 'man-flu'. How dare they. If only they knew of the dangers we had encountered over a 12-18 month period. 

One of the most popular ways in the office of postponing certain death, at least until after half past five, is by using a personal mug which nobody else touches, which fascinates me completely, mostly because I was unaware of a 'personal mug' section until about three months into the job, which explains all the dirty looks I've been receiving from the gentleman whose mug I favoured. 

Blissfully ignorant to the perils I was putting my lips against on a daily basis, I have continued to use the helpfully titled "public" mugs, until this morning when my boss, ever the gentleman, offered to make me a drink, and I, ever the ungrateful bellend, said yes instantly. 

Back he comes, ever the gentleman (I value my job), and I was shocked at his chosen receptacle. 

Somebody's mug. 

But it wasn't just somebody's mug, it was somebody who sat close to me's mug! I could be exposed as a innocently guilty thief if this got out! What do I do? I can't just take the coffee straight back after my boss, ever the gentleman (it's not arse-kissing if he doesn't read these, and I don't think he does), has kindly made it for me. That would be employment-suicide! I need to distract him, and get the mug back to safety before the owner arrives at work. 

It's easier done than said. By boss, ever the hard-working gentleman, is whisked into a meeting to discuss matters of the utmost importance, I assume, and I triumphantly stride into the kitchen. How simple was that! Everybody is none-the-wiser for my boss's blunder and my heroism to save the situation. 

But that could be down to people probably not really focusing on the mug...

"Morning James, back for a second coffee already?"
"Ah, you know me (names changed to protect the identity of those affected) Mildred! Can't get enough of the stuff "
"Haha, yeah- nice white socks! Is one of your trouser legs deliberately tucked into it to show it off?"

Mildred laughs so hard she nearly goes into cardiac arrest. 

We really do live in a dangerous world.