Fixing my hair, as I walk across the car park, wiggling my neat pencil skirt down and shimmying off any remnants of ‘knackared mother approaching’, I burst through the main door of the building as if i’m about to sing ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music.
‘Good morning Mandy, I beam, as I pass by the receptionist, noting how fabulous she looks and smells. No trace of baby fumes emitting from her. She being a young, single, stunning glamour puss!
Whisking past the pool of secretaries, nodding politely as I go, i head to my desk. It’s an open plan office where I work. The building is almost circular, like a gold fish bowl in appearance. Legal Eagles on the outer rim by the windows and secretaries in the middle, near the lift and toilets. I take my seat, by the ‘window’ and chat to my rather dashing colleague, who has just passed his uni exam and and doing his Articles with us. Nice bit of eye candy for a 30 something married mother of 3 feeling like she has been ran over by a bus most days.
I didn’t used to ‘sit by the window’. Oh no, I was one of the girls by the lift and the toilets, busily typing away and being a secretary too. I started as a temp and was to be there for 3 days which then turned into 3 weeks and finally 3 years. My ‘boss’ was great. We got on like a house on fire. Well me being an Aries and him being a red head, it was inevitable really – both fiery!
I was so nervous when I first met him. Oh I had plenty of experience being a secretary, I had done it B.C (before children). I was nervous because he looked, how can I put it, a bit weird actually. he was tall and thin, some might say gangly, and when he spoke his arms would flail, all over the place. I had to duck out of the way a few times for fear of being knocked over. He mumbled he was working on a big custody battle and had to have all the paperwork ready for the brief by end of day, so could I stay late!
Well, that was going to go down well with the hubby, first day at work and I am working late. Good job it’s his day off today and not costing me a fortune paying a childminder. So, I am running around like a headless chicken that got lost and is trying to find its way home. I try to get to grips with the fact that three other secretaries are sending their typing to the one SHARED photocopier in the building. I go to retrieve my documents only to find they are not there. No paper, the machine is empty and I have no clue where the stationary cupboard is to refill it. Panicking that he is going to think I am incompetent and slow, I hurry back to the other girls for some guidance as to where I might find the paper, knowing I am irritating the hell out of them as its probably the 100th time I have interrupted them today, what with it being my first day and I don’t have a clue where everything is. I am after all, just a secretary not bloody Mystic Meg!
‘Have you got those documents yet’ he asks, peeping his head into the office, whilst looking at his watch and giving me a look as if to say I probably wont last the contracted 3 days the temp agency had promised me. He kept tut tutting, going this way and that way, checking his watch, scratching his head, muttering God knows what to himself, making me feel more and more anxious. I thought at one stage brown bear was going to come out, you know, like Mr Bean’s bear. That is who my boss reminded me of, dear old Mr Bean!
Could I actually feel any worse? Could I feel any lower. Didn’t he realise, the sacrifice, torment and guilt I was going through at leaving my 9 month old twins to be there. How many times had I stopped myself from crying just thinking about them, especially when my boobs were throbbing and I had to just ignore and smile through the pain. I felt like a highland cow at milking time, full and ready to burst! I was a professional, I was not a defeatist, I wouldn’t five up or give in to it, even though every fibre of my being was aching to be home with my babies, cuddling them, kissing them, being thrown up on by them, feeding them. The sacrifice I made, turning up ALL CLEAN, shit, vomit and food stain free, to be given THAT look. How dare he!
To add insult to injury, when I FINALLY had all the paper work typed up and retrieved from the now, full of paper printer, it was time to get all that shit collated together. The usual place would of course be a nice tidy desk. There was no room on mine, it had a typewriter (electric)(posh) on it and all other manner of stuff a secretary needs on her desk. His desk, no correction, his office had the look of, shall we say, that it had been burgled – papers, files, ring binders EVERYWHERE. The only available space that I could utilise was the floor. So there I was , on my knees, in his burgled office, in a nice neat pencil skirt, boobs throbbing and slightly worried there would be wet patches any minute, due to leakage. Conscious and worried my stocking tops would be exposed every time I leaned over to drop a document in the correct pile of rather lengthy rows of paperwork. How very lady like indeed!
The look on my husband’s face was priceless, when I explained my rather hectic first day. He particularly raised an eyebrow and my being on the floor with my boss, after everyone else had left the building. Still it’s a bit more exciting than looking after buttons in the control room!….