Wednesday, February 23, 2005


From the drawer – the sweater story

A while ago I introduced the concept of “from the drawer,” stories that are not new to those who know me, but are new to my blog. Thanks to Nancy for reminding me about this one from when I had just started back to work after my maternity leave with Tristan, about two years ago.

I’ve been back at work for about three weeks now, and I think I’m finally into the rhythm of the office again. I’ve been working on some pretty high-profile stuff around here, so I get lots of face time with senior management, which is nice for a new employee although some days I really feel like I’m in over my head.

Today was an especially busy day. We had our usual all-staff morning meeting, where I gave an update on my project to the group, and I had a couple of drop-by-my-cube meetings with colleagues. I also spent about 30 minutes on a conference call in my director’s office, sitting across the desk from her while we talked to some of the folks down in Southern Ontario region.

It was about 10:30 by the time I finally made it to the bathroom. I was washing my hands when I caught sight of myself in the mirror and noticed it. IT. In that moment, I became truly cognizant of the definition of mortified. On my sleeve – my creamy white sleeve, no less – smeared from mid-bicep to near my wrist, was a painfully obvious, incredibly nasty two inch wide smear of baby shit. Suddenly I flashed back to the pre-dawn gloaming of Tristan’s room, where I rushed in to grab a little cuddle before running for the bus. I picked him up out of his crib and slung him onto my hip to deliver him to Beloved, blissfully unaware of the toxic ooze seeping out of his Pampers and ingratiating itself with my arm.

As I gazed at my sullied reflection in the mirror, I tried to console myself: “They won’t notice. It’s not that obvious.” It WAS that obvious. THEY NOTICED! You would have to make a Herculean effort of avoidance to miss it, and I just knew my colleagues weren’t up to the task.

I tried to at least mitigate the damage. First, I tried to rub it off. Have you ever tried to rub dried baby shit off cotton ribbed knit? Then thought maybe a little water might do it. Which worked, inasmuch as it diluted the stain by about 20 per cent and spread it over an area about 300 per cent of the original stain. So I rolled up the sleeve as much as I could, which did a great job of drawing attention to the goodly part of the stain still visible, left the other sleeve down, and tried valiantly not to make eye contact with anyone in my office for three months.