One of my jobs this morning was to make some space in a pokey room, little more than a cupboard with some shelving in, really, that we store publications in. It was hot in there. It was actually very hot in there. Soon, as I was moving boxes around and scrabbling around on the floor and stuff, I, as politely as possible, began to perspire. Clothes get clammy in those conditions and suddenly, during a particularly convoluted movement of a box of booklets from one low shelf to another, I heard and felt a rending sound. Oh, I knew what had happened; I was very aware. I stood up and looked down. My trousers were split from the crotch to the knee. This raggedy gash was exposing me in a way that a gentleman should never find himself exposed. I had to think quickly. I work in an open-plan office which is mostly populated by women; women of varying ages and sensibilities.
I grabbed a few paperclips off of some of the publications I was throwing out and quickly unfolded them. I then tried to thread them through the ragged edges of my thigh-long trouser gash and crimp them up again so that they would hold for a while. I repeated this with the three paperclips I could find and then realised that the tightness of this modified trouser leg would soon cut off my circulation and throw me into the realms of DVT very soon. I had to act fast. I, as casually as I could, walked out along the corridor, between filing cabinets and desks towards the security door. I had to, gentlemanly, hold it open for a group of people who were on their way in and whom, I assumed, would be certain to notice the predicament I found myself in. Then it was down the forty-four stairs to the ground floor. From there it was more security doors and through an unsportingly crowded reception. All the time I felt that every eye was upon me and every smile and smirk was at my expense.
Finally I got out into the street. There seemed to be more traffic and more pedestrians than at lunchtime as I walked, well, rushed really, through the town. Again I felt that everyone was looking at me and that all those happy smiling faces had had joy brought to them by my misfortune. Looking on the bright side, at least the still gaping rend in my trousers afforded me some well needed ventilation.
I eventually reached my tailors, Messrs Marks and Spencer and fought my way into the store. Up the escalator I went, though the mirrored side did nothing for my self-esteem as my largely bare leg basked in its own reflected glory.
I hate clothes shopping at the best of times, unless it is for jeans and t-shirts, and I still feel that I have to go to work in fancy-dress, wearing trousers and a proper, button-up, shirt. I moved through the racks of clothes until I found things that resembled trousers. I settled on one rack that looked like it might hold what I was, reluctantly, in need of. Panic set in when I couldn’t find anything my size but, settling myself down a little, I finally saw what I was looking for; a pair of black chino trousers that would fit me. Relief turned to a modicum of something approaching delight when I saw that the very trousers I had settled for were actually on offer, softening the blow considerably.
I drifted to the counter, by now sweating profusely and red with embarrassment and humiliation, to pay. With that job taken care of I was presented with my trousers in a pale green plastic bag. I used the bag as a shield as I made my way, by the shortest possible route, back to the office, through reception and up all those damned stairs. Once on the right floor I dashed into the cupboard room once more and tore open the bag in the relative seclusion. I removed the labels and tags from my purchase and then went into the Gents to change. All the time I was pleading with whatever gods might just be listening that the trousers would fit. Oh what joy, what relief, what utter bliss, they fitted perfectly, they did their job and covered up what was hitherto exposed. I could finally relax.
I didn’t go back to the cupboard though, that job could keep for a cooler day.