Who Invited the Blood Hound?

Today was one of those rare occasions where I had to actually leave my house to go to work.  For years I’ve worked from home and anytime I have to report to an actual building, it’s a monumental inconvenience that begins the moment I have to get dressed.

For one, I hate work attire.  It’s uncomfortable and stiff and women’s work pants are the worst.  No matter how big a size I buy, I can’t escape the pocket lines.  I’ve researched various options and invested in higher end brands, but it doesn’t matter….there is always an outline of the square back pockets on my butt and the side pockets always flare out making me look wider than is fair.

The alternative is to wear a dress.  I don’t mind dresses, but they aren’t exactly comfortable to sit in all day either.

Basically, there is no solution….beyond allowing sensible jeans in the workplace every day….that would make me happy.

Today, I put on a pair of grey, ankle length trousers….with back pockets I cut out one morning in a fit of frustration.  As I was snipping away though, I failed to consider that what would remain when the pockets were removed, was essentially a hole that exposed my underwear whenever I sat down.  Since I don’t know how to sew, I super glued the slit closed, congratulated myself on my ingenuity and they are now my go to, pocketless, work pants.

I paired the pants with a plum colored, Ann Taylor, sleeveless blouse with small, horizontal ruffles lined down the front, a comfy pair of black ballet flats and….since I was running late….made myself a quick breakfast I could eat on the run….peanut butter toast.

As I rushed out the door, I laid the toast….peanut butter side up….on a paper towel, which I then placed flat on top of a stack of folders I needed for the day.  I kissed my family good-bye and headed out.  As I approached my car, I shifted the stack of folders to one side and instinctively cradled them to my chest as I reached to open the door….forgetting about the toast I had stacked atop the folders.  By the time I realized my mistake, the toast was dangling from my chest; glued to my shirt with peanut butter adhesive.

“Shit!”  I yelled, startling Bob, an old guy who lives nearby, as he bent down to pick-up a pile of poop his Beagle had just dropped.

“Wha?”  Bob said, as he shot up from his stooped position with a bag full of….well….shit and looked toward my direction.

“Nothing!  Sorry!  I wasn’t yelling at you!”  I called back, giving Bob a feeble wave as I peeled the toast from my shirt and gazed down at the large, oily stain it left behind.  “I just got some shit on my shirt….well, not shit literally, but it might as well be!”

“Wha?”  said Bob.

“Shut the fuck up, Bob”  I muttered to myself….I do have manners….“I’m in the midst of a personal tragedy here!”

I dropped the toast into the small garbage bag I keep in my car and attempted to wipe up the mess using a package of baby wipes from my glove compartment and only succeeding in making the situation worse.

With little time to run in and change, I grabbed a cardigan I typically keep in my car for emergency purposes, like cold conference rooms and peanut butter covered blouses, slipped it on, buttoned it up far enough to cover the stain and headed to work.

I arrived to my building with minutes to spare and settled myself in the conference room, flustered and irritated, but ready enough to start the day.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring associates in similar roles from throughout The Really Big Company’s various business units, together in order to streamline a set of shared objectives.  Most of the people in the room I didn’t know, including a woman sitting two seats down from me in a power suit and a perfectly coiffed hairstyle I haven’t had time for since becoming a mom.  I tried not to feel inferior in my wrinkled cardigan, disguising the remnants of my breakfast, super-glued dress pants and the wet bun I typically roll with most days, but it was hard.

As everyone was settling in with their cups of coffee and making friendly small talk with  co-workers they knew and introductions to those they didn’t, power suit woman suddenly began to sniff at the air like my dog does when he picks up a scent.

“Oh, God!”  She said dramatically.  “Oh, no.  Is that….(sniff, sniff)….peanut butter?

Everyone within a five seat radius looked her way.

“Does someone have peanut butter?”  she asked.

Everyone around me glanced down at the various plates in front of them that now held only the crumbs of mini-pastries and bagels that had been laid out for the meeting.  As though of one mind, everyone shook their heads in the negative….I pulled my cardigan in a bit tighter.

“I have a severe nut allergy.”  Power Suit woman informed her audience.  “If I ingest so much as a smidgen….I could die!”

I fastened the final top button of my cardigan.

“Does even just the smell of a peanut cause a reaction?”  someone asked.

I tried not to look guilty….practicing my game face should I inadvertently kill this woman….while also working out my plan for discarding the bloody glove….I mean peanut buttery blouse….in the chaos that was sure to follow.

“Well, no.”  Power Suit Woman said.  “But if a trace amount should happen to get onto the table, or a shared utensil, or onto my hand and then end up coming into contact with something I eat….I’m basically dead.  

“Well,” I thought to myself, “this should all be OK, as long as she doesn’t try to feel me up in the bathroom later….or as long as I don’t feel myself up and then scoop salad onto her plate with my fingers at lunch time.”

The conversation carried on for a good several minutes and the topic of discussion eventually spread throughout the room.  Those with their own food allergies and various dietary restrictions, expressed their sympathy and frustration that their personal dietary concerns are not taken far more seriously in the corporate world….though I didn’t hear any of them offering up their own EpiPens should Power Suit Woman go into anaphylactic shock….look what you’ve done Heather Bresch.

Others, rolled their eyes and whispered at the ridiculousness of expecting the world to cater to a person’s individual needs and suggesting she should be quarantined at a table of her own.

The guilty, those who had made their children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before sending them off to camp that morning, who might have enjoyed an English Muffin, filling its nooks and crannies full of peanut or almond butter….maybe Nutella….or who might have a packet of peanut butter sandwich crackers or a snack size bag of Nutter Butters stashed in a purse or computer bag….fidgeted nervously while trying to discreetly check for compromised packaging and self-consciously licking the corners of their mouths and investigating their nail beds for traces of nut.

Then came the official announcement regarding the allergen threat and imploring the guilty to step forward and give themselves up.

“Whoever denied it supplied it.”  I reminded myself, as I sat stoically and quietly in my swivel chair….avoiding eye contact and trying not to move too quickly lest I generate enough wind to sell myself out.

When no one came forward, the tables were wiped down and we were all encouraged to thoroughly wash our hands.  It was then that I made my escape to the restroom.  I peeled off my peanut butter smothered blouse, stuffed it into one of those brown paper bags meant for the disposal of feminine hygiene products and buried it beneath other items in my tote bag.

Then, I redressed in my cardigan, gave myself a small spritz of air fresher, scrubbed my hands and returned to take my seat in the now disinfected conference room.

As the meeting finally came to order, I stole a glance at Power Suit Woman….and I swear I saw her sniff in my direction.

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