8.46 a.m. – I am staggering into my office, carrying a gigantic bag of sweets (the obligatory post holiday office gift) and crying out “I’m back everyone…I am back!”
No one has acknowledged my return to work after my holiday.
Plonk sweets on desk and notice ladder in my posh glossy tights and seeping blood from a painful blister on my ankle.
This morning I had to totter at speed, in my new stilettos, to catch my bus. I am just asking myself why I didn’t cover my feet in plasters before leaving the house.
Try to block out throbbing pain from foot. I am now regretting getting carried away with an article I found on Facebook, which claimed wearing giant stilettos makes you look slimmer.
8.47 a.m. I have received a text from Matilda, my daughter. Oh…she informs me that hates her school, hates the fact that we now live in, what she calls, a rough area, hates me for not letting her live with her Dad who she thinks is loaded and hates life in general. I am also given a collection of devil faced emojis.
8.49 a.m. Try to ignore the fact that I am bathed in a light sweat from my journey into work and there is pain emanating from my left wrist.
Last week I bought myself a new handbag. I opted for a tiny handbag, as the magazine article about the body slimming stilettos also advised that the fashion trend this season is for minuscule accessories. I went home with my purchase and, what can only be described, as tiny handbag excitement.
In a kind of euphoric high I filled it with everything from my tiny handbag with my large handbag; makeup, headache tablets, hairbrush, tissues, phone, mints, body spray, emergency deodorant, spare knickers, panty liners, book of positive thoughts, my diary, some keepsakes and a toothbrush. Hey presto – a tiny but heavy handbag!
9.08 a.m. Looking around at my office colleagues who have failed to notice my return from a week’s camping holiday. Nobody has looked up from their screens or spoken to me. They are all busy tapping away, or sat sipping coffee.
Ok so I wasn’t expecting:
- A small crowd waving ‘Welcome Back Roxy’ banners as I emerge from the lift.
- The Managing Director of the company, clearing her diary and popping by my desk to ask me whether my holiday photos are uploaded on Facebook yet, as she is desperate to browse through them and a thought-provoking comments.
All I want is someone to register that I am back at work. I would be more than happy to accept one of the following greetings:
- “Hello Roxy!”
- “Hey Roxy, how was the holiday?”
- “Hey Roxy what was it like on your own in a tent with your three spirited (polite term for nightmare) kids?”
I wonder whether this is like the film ‘Sixth Sense’ and I have actually died. Perhaps my kids finished me off in the tent after I forced them to go without wi-fi for 5 days and I am struggling with passing over?
Seriously, this office situation is giving me an early Monday morning complex.
This is the last time I wrestle with a giant bag sweets for this ungrateful office.
9.35 a.m. – I am busy shuffling a few bits of papers and a folder around my desk to give the impression that I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on my return to work. In reality I am suffering from extreme physical and mental exhaustion, after a week’s camping holiday with my children. Trying to put up a tent single-handedly, in a violent gale, whilst my kids sit in the car and argue about crisp packet flavours, nearly to sent me to an early grave.
My attention turns to Martin (52 yrs) who sits opposite me. He is busy on the phone to his mother confirming that he would like beef stew with extra dumplings for his tea.
After five minutes of mother trivia, about what he has to collect from the supermarket on his way home from work (toilet bleach, toilet roll, prunes, dates, cabbage and some lavender-scented air freshener), he replaces the phone receiver and looks up at me.
“It’s nice to have you back Roxy.” He gives me a sickly smile and flashes his yellow stained teeth.
I cannot believe Martin is the only person in this office to acknowledge the fact that I have not been here for the last seven days.
“Did you have a nice break?” asks Martin, reaching for his stapler.
“Oh I did, it was lovely thanks!” I turn away whilst lying through my teeth.
I notice that Martin’s eyes are honed into my orange fake bake arms.
“Did you have Mediterranean weather in Scarborough Roxy?”
“It was warm” I say, once again lying through my teeth and making a mental note of ‘one can of fake tan is more than enough for one arm!’
Martin smiles. “Whilst you were away Marcus asked me to go for promotion, has he said anything to you?” he asks slyly, his beady eyes resembling those of a snake we saw at the zoo on holiday.
I don’t answer him. My blood is boiling.
Martin and I both know the career train is unlikely to be stopping at my station for some time. I am the wrong side of thirty, I have three kids, two useless ex-partners, I regularly have to take time off to cover childcare, I have recently had ‘personal issues’ after a messy relationship breakup, I am considered ‘noisy’ in the office and I….drunkenly snogged Marcus, our Senior Manager, over a photocopier, at a Christmas party.
10.34 a.m. My phone bleeps. It is a message from Richard, the guy that I have been chatting to on my dating app. He looks amazing on his photo and reminds me of the Ken doll that I used to play Barbie weddings with as a child. Oh no – he doesn’t want to date me as I have three kids and two ex partners. He doesn’t want anything complicated. What is complicated about my situation? I mean we are all talking to each other…well just.
10.35 a.m. I am blinking away hot stinging tears and praying to God that my mascara doesn’t decide to run. I don’t think I will ever find love.
Pop a soothing mint and ask Google to tell me the chances of a thirty something, single mother of three children with two ex-partners finding love again. Google fails to give me an answer.
That’s it I am un-datable. More tears are welling up inside my eyes. I am doing well to contain them as I don’t like the office knowing my business.
10.40 a.m. I watch Martin rise from his chair and creep off to a meeting.
Receive personal call from Great Aunt Vera. She’s eighty nine and getting used to a new nursing home. Her old nursing home asked her to leave. Nobody knows why.
“ROXY!” she yells. Great Aunt Vera hates hearing aids.
“Hello Great Aunt Vera.”
“I was just telling my new friend Ivy about you. I told her you were getting desperate for a man!”
My neck and shoulders stiffen.
“I am not getting desperate for a man Great Aunt Vera!” I snap, noticing a couple of office colleagues raise their heads in my direction.
“Ivy wants to know whether you have tried online dating? Her grandson was desperate like you and he had a few online dates with a woman from the South East. He’s now engaged and they have a baby on the way!”
“I am giving it a try!” I mumble.
“What did you say?” shrieks Great Aunt Vera, making my ears hurt.
“I am giving ONLINE DATING a try!” I snap, noticing more raised heads from my colleagues. I have also just caught sight of Marcus grimacing at me by the office recycling bins.
“How is that wild daughter of yours?” asks Great Aunt Vera.
“Matilda is sixteen and is not wild!” I say, picturing my daughter in a white angel outfit, with huge white wings and a sugary sweet expression on her face. I hear Great Aunt Vera cackle. “You do make your old Aunt laugh Roxy. I have got to go have my meds, good-bye!”
“Goodbye Great Vera!” I replace the receiver and hope no one heard my conversation.
11.02 a.m. Martin returns from his meeting. I try to look busy; this involves stapling some random bits of paper whilst looking thoughtful at something on my computer screen.
“Marcus says that he wants you to work on this project,” instructs Martin, handing me a pile of papers which makes me let out a groan.
“What does he want me to do with it?” I ask, shaking my head in dismay.
“He wants a report on his desk by the end of the day,” informs Martin.
“But its my first day back after holiday?” I whimper.
11.57 a.m. Receive personal call from an upset best friend Shaz.
“He’s dumped me Roxy!” she wails loudly.
“The postman has dumped you?” I watch Martin raise his black monobrow at me.
Martin doesn’t like personal calls in the office. He says ‘every call in the office should be work related and not personal Roxy’. The calls he makes to his mother every morning from his desk are not counted as they are different. I have checked.
Shaz continues. ”Yea, the postman is seeing a girl from that posh new housing estate. How could he do this to me?” I can hear her snivelling.
“Forget him Shaz!” I snap.
“I can’t Roxy!” Shaz sniffs down the phone.
“Look – walk away and be thankful you have not got carried away with this one. You moved to the other end of the country for the last scumbag and then had to move back when it all went wrong two and half weeks later!”
“Oh Roxy I gave up my job in the bakery so that I could be there for the postman when he was on his parcel delivery shift!” she wails.
“Oh Shaz why did you do that?” I shriek, making Martin drop his pencil on the floor. “Didn’t you learn anything from your last relationship?”
I am waving frantically at Martin. He is rising from his desk with the plastic drinks tray in his hand. I need a coffee. Sometimes I wonder why I get so desperate for a machine generated, bitter tasting coffee which will stain my teeth and ruin my breath for hours.
“I can’t forget about this one” wails Shaz, before snorting loudly down the phone.
My mobile is bleeping.
It’s a text from Matilda apologising for her earlier text outburst. She doesn’t hate me. In fact she loves me very much and has even added a couple of heart emojis. At the end of the text she asks whether she can go out on Saturday night with her new sixth form boyfriend who has a car.
I can’t type ‘NO!’ fast enough. Quickly I press send and try to soothe my thudding heart.
I then realise Shaz is still sobbing down the phone.
“Walk away from the postman and don’t look back” I say, turning away as Martin returns with our coffee.
My phone bleeps again. It’s another text from Matilda. She hates me. No emojis.
Shaz sniffs loudly down the phone before wailing “He made too many deliveries Roxy, I think I am PREGNANT!”
“Oh Shaz!” I say reaching over to my giant bag of sweets which no one has thanked me for. Whilst Shaz sobs I rip it open and stuff a handful in my mouth and give Martin a filthy look as he points at the pile of papers on my desk. Its going to be a long day!
For part 2 click here