Tuesday, July 08, 2003

You’re so early/ late/ handsome/ ugly

“You’re so late!” The cleaner says, as I arrive to work in the carpark approximately eleven minutes later than I did yesterday, which is I presume what she’s judging it on. I picture what I might have done in my erratic routine that might account for it and satisfy her bland curiosity. I stopped for petrol, my bike cut out twice at traffic lights, the internet was running slow and I couldn’t find my keys and my landlord was harassing me for money. Who could I blame?
“The traffic is shocking”, I said.
She appreciates this answer.
“Yes” Now she frowns like she just ate a large lemon. “Yes, the traffic is terrible”

We stand for a second. There is nothing else to say. Now she’s smiling. I smile back. The sun is shining. I can imagine birds singing, despite none being in the vicinity. It’s a nice moment, I think.
“You’re very ugly!” She says.
“Thanks” As I head for the door I'm not surprised to remember I’m not wearing my tie.

As soon as I walk in the door the receptionists clap their hands in delight. They’re obviously bored.
“You’re so early” They shriek with smiles, frowns and glances shooting left, right and centre.
“I…” Once again my day flashes before my eyes. “I… didn’t have lunch”
They don’t like this and frown some more. I stand awkwardly. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. They get back to eating nuts, answering phones and generally ignoring me. I head for my office.
“Hey…” They holler as I walk up the stairs.
“Today you’re very ugly”
“Thank you”

As I trudge up the stairs I know it’s the lack of a tie that distorts their perception. I head for the booth and prepare to return safe in the knowledge that Clark Kent tore off his tie to emerge as Superman, and that I would soon do the contrary.

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