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We all know the feeling: head pounding, booze sweats and a delightful dose of hang-xiety kicking in. The morning after a night out is rarely fun, but none have been as bad as when I woke up in the bed of a work colleague. This is what happens when you blur the professional line, I told myself, trying to find a way of telling the time in this unfamiliar setting. First it’s a text instead of an email, then just some innocent flirting, and before you know it you’re stepping on a used condom in bare feet while trying to sneak out of your manager’s bedroom. Not ideal.
I was working the next day whereas John* had the luxury of sleeping off the night before, when an innocent pint had somewhat escalated. Since John’s ex also worked at the pub I did not want our extra-curricular activities to become public knowledge. A desire made tricker by the fact that John’s housemates were made up of two chefs and a waiter from the pub.
As he blissfully dozed, I crept from his bedroom to the bathroom with all the hungover stealth of Johnny English, showered using some questionable shower gel and dried myself with an even more questionable towel from the back of the bathroom door. Luckily I had some makeup stashed in my bag. I whacked on some mascara, pulled on the previous day’s clothes, and bolted out of the house to avoid being spotted.
It was what I would usually consider a beautiful day, but in my fragile state the spring sunshine made the world look a little too iridescent. I staggered into the middle of a cul-de-sac, and it occurred to me that when we arrived here the night before I had been…distracted. This was not a part of town I knew well, in fact I wasn’t entirely sure which part of town I was in. No problem, I thought, I’ll just call a taxi. While miraculously I had made it through the night without losing or smashing my phone, I had not had the forethought to charge it, and it was now faltering at three per cent.
A passing delivery driver took pity on me and stopped and I asked if I could borrow his phone to call a taxi. Looking me up and down and smirking, he said it would be “against company policy”. I sacrificed my three per cent and called one myself. I had just managed to tell them where I thought I was before the voice on the other end crackled and faded: my phone had died. I sat on a wall with no choice but to wait, nauseous and sweating in the sunshine, my fate resting in the hands of the phone operator at a local taxi firm. The start of my shift was rapidly approaching and I couldn’t ring John’s doorbell, in case one of his housemates answered.
Just as it was beginning to look bleak, and I was considering setting off in the hope that some geographical intuition would lead me in the right direction, a taxi miraculously arrived. After giving the driver all of my cash tips from the day before and thanking him profusely, I arrived back at work just in the nick of time.
Dodging the questioning looks at my face and clothes, I plugged in my phone behind the bar and it came alive, buzzing with texts from my mum, wondering where I was: I had forgotten to text her. As a wave of nausea hit me I turned around and there she was, sitting in the bar looking at me with her eyebrows raised. Apparently on waking up that morning and realising I hadn’t come home, my mum knew work was the place to find me. Even in my most rebellious phase, I would never miss a shift. After ushering her out of there as quickly as possible, I swigged some olive brine from the kitchen, laced up my apron and started work. It was the longest shift of my life.
*Names have been changed for the purpose of this article
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