Got to love your unconscious when you dream it’s Saturday but wake to Monday morning. And not a Monday when you shoulder your way onto the Jubilee Line, find a space in the aisle, sway with the rail, close your eyes, and relive another wild night at The Ritzy, but one where your head throbs from the norovirus that saw you vomit through Friday night, sleep all Saturday, and binge-watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix on Sunday. Not to mention the stink from the armpit beside your right eye.
I often consider writing a tube-themed story, one where my heroine is the subject of a personal ad. Central Line, Sat 12 Dec, 1.30 am. Me: tall, dark hair, green jacket. You: white dress, red pashmina, bottle of Sol. Were you eyeing my striped umbrella? But I never get around to it. Too consumed and mind-numbed with the day (and, increasingly, night) job.
The morning gets better. It’s my birthday, and as we pass through Baker Street, I remember the need to buy cakes for everyone in the team. Sodding ridiculous tradition. Now I discover I’ve left my purse in the flat. There’s £11 in my bag’s emergency zip compartment (I know myself too well), so not Fortnum’s this year. Where’s Aldi when you need one?
Finally make it to the office. The lift opens. My arms are full of doughnuts and, on my shoulder, a bag ready to swing off at the slightest forward movement. A woman enters and just stands there. A suited man from the fifth floor comes in after her.
‘Which floor, ladies?’ he asks. The word makes me shudder at the best of times (bad as panties and make love), but especially when it comes out of his mouth. Ladies. Like we’re contestants in a pageant he’s organised himself.
He smiles, presses the button, lifts briefly off his heels for some reason, and settles back down again.
There’s a big cheer as I walk through the foyer, and a helium balloon on my desk that says 30. Rude. Like I need reminding.
‘Thanks, guys!’ I muster.
My PA, Jenny, hands me a card. In it are at least five inappropriate comments (three of them from Dave in IT) and a voucher for speed dating. Cheeky sods. What’s wrong with flowers? Might as well say, There’s a finite number of eggs you can flush down the bog. And have none of them heard of Tinder?
Now they’ve organised lunch at Bella Italia. They press three courses on me, then won’t let me pay (would have had to borrow anyway). As we’re leaving, Jenny presents me with the chocolate mint that accompanied her coffee.
On the tube home. On a seat, because I stayed late to finish the project plan for the new call centre, and peckish, despite the massive lunch and two iced doughnuts. I feel around in my coat pocket, pull out a foil wrapped disc, and smile to myself. Not a bad team, really. Could do worse. OK, a lot worse.
Michelle Christophorou was recently placed third in the Writers Bureau flash fiction competition, and her stories have appeared in anthologies and online, with another forthcoming in Ellipsis Zine. In an earlier life, Michelle practised law in the City of London. She tweets @MAChristophorou.