Something incredibly awkward happened the other day when I inadvertently committed what is very probably an illegal offence.
I was at work – a university – and went to the toilet. There’s nothing unusual about that.
I walked into the cubicle I always use – the second one along out of four. It’s always a distressing moment when this cubicle is taken as I consider it my own.
I lowered my trousers and underpants and sat down while mulling over what cheese to buy from Sainsbury’s.
Then suddenly I heard the door open and a large group of people entered. They were chatting among themselves and were – and this is something I found a little disturbing – not men. They were women. In the men’s toilets.
I sat frozen for a long moment, trying to work out why a group of females had entered the wrong toilet.
Then, mentally retracing my steps – and realising with some horror that, firstly, I hadn’t noticed any urinals on the far wall, and, secondly, the toilets smelt quite nice – it dawned on me I had accidentally wandered into the ladies.
I don’t quite know how this happened.
I can only put my quite gigantic faux pas down to the fact it had been a very long day and I had spent the previous three hours penning a 1,500 word report on diversity in the workplace and was therefore jaded and perhaps in a daze.
The upshot was I now found myself with my underpants around my ankles separated from four women only by a flimsy plywood toilet door.
Two of the women went in cubicles either side of me. I put my feet together, lest they look under the gap at the bottom of cubicle and see my manly trainers.
I also attempted to stop breathing.
‘Are you out tonight Sandra?’ said a voice from the cubicle next to me.
‘Nah, Ryan’s coming round,’ replied another voice, presumably Sandra, who was in the other cubicle, so the two of them were effectively having a conversation over my head.
‘He’s bringing Dan, you know the cute one with the eyebrows and the tattoo of a dog on his ankle.’
A third voice – someone washing their hands at the sink – chipped in. ‘Not Dan who’s got the weird finger?’
I was a bit surprised by the fact they were having a conversation while sitting on the toilet. Men would not do that. Ever.
Annoyingly, after the women had finished on the toilet, they spent a further 10 minutes by the sinks nattering.
Meanwhile I was rigid on the loo, not daring to move even so much as my right foot for fear I may get caught.
The moment they left I pulled up my pants and, after listening a long while to check there was no one else around, slid open the door and edged out of the cubicle like an SOS commando on a night mission in Baghdad.
This was a key moment – if a woman walked in the toilet at this point I daresay I’d be hauled before the university chancellor, who would then likely sack me for some form of gross indecency –which would be tricky to explain to Mrs C.
I edged open the main door and glanced at the sign – sure enough it was the symbol for the women’s toilets (how the hell had I missed it?).
I checked the coast was clear and, after a deep breath, sprinted away from the scene at full pelt.
In total I had been in the toilet for 22 traumatic minutes and was mildly sweating by the time I got back to my desk.
Worst of all I’d not even done anything on the loo and still needed to go.
The moral of all this is never go to the toilet after completing a 1,500 word report on diversity in the workplace – it may lead to a catastrophic error.