I seem to be dogged by misfortune. If something embarrassing is going to occur, it usually happens to me. Other people – normally good-looking folk with excellent teeth and large friendship groups – seem to saunter through life without a care in the world.
Then there’s me.
I write this because of the many embarrassing episodes I have endured since first setting foot on the planet, this week came the worst yet.
After playing five-a-side football during my work lunch hour, I nipped into the shower. I work at a university and they have a shower in the gents; a shower which, interestingly, always has the aroma of a fillet of haddock that has been left on a radiator for several weeks.
The shower was pleasant enough – I had purchased some very nice Red Berry and Mango Oil bodywash, so strong it was like bathing in a fruit salad.
But then came the issue: I couldn’t open the door to get out.
I’m not sure why this occurred for it hadn’t been a problem to lock the door.
Indeed it was a very simple mechanism. All I had to do was slide it to the right, a big red line appeared and it was locked – so in theory all I had to do was slide it back left to unlock it and get out.
However, it would not budge. I wasn’t too concerned at first and gently pushed at it, thinking it would give at any moment and I would be free to leave the shower area and be reunited with my clothes, which were in a plastic bag in the changing area on the other side of the door.
But it didn’t give and as seconds became minutes, I started to panic.
Several people came in and out of the changing room, but I was too embarrassed to say anything. Eventually, after a quarter of an hour of desperate tugging at the lock – plus the fact that I was starting to shiver with cold – I realised I had to pluck up the courage and ask for help.
“Erm, excuse me,” I ventured when I heard the door open and someone enter. “I think I’ve, erm, well (nervous laugh), I seem to have locked myself in here. Would you be able to help?”
An impatient sounding man, in I-haven’t-got-the-time-for-this-you-absolute-clown tone, uttered the words: ‘Okay, but what do you expect me to do about it?’
Now, if I’m being honest, I was a little cheesed off with this response, but I was also aware that I was in a position of weakness, so thought it best not to antagonise the miserable sod. ‘Well,’ I said ultra-politely, ‘I was hoping you might try to pull the door from the outside to see if it will open?’
After tutting, the man reluctantly gave it a half-hearted pull. At that moment the door of the changing room swung open and someone else walked in.
‘You all right mate?’ said the newcomer to the fella he’d caught pulling at a locked shower door.
‘Yes, I’m fine,’ replied the first chap, sounding grumpier than ever, ‘but there’s someone inside who isn’t. He’s stuck.’
I can’t begin to tell you how unsettling it is having two people you don’t know and can’t see talk about you, especially when you’re stood in a small shower cubicle stark naked.
As I stood there, there ensued around three minutes of grunting from the other side while my two would-be rescuers tried to force open the door.
They failed, so they decided to get security.
A couple of moments later there was an announcement over the tannoy. ‘Can Red Five go to the gents toilets on level one, repeat Red Five to gents level one.’
By this stage – 35 minutes after I entered the shower – there were around a dozen or so interested spectators.
The door opened again, there was the sound of heavy footsteps.
‘Security here pal. We’ve got a spare key so we’ll have you out in a jiffy.’
“Thank you,” I said – then suddenly realising my naked form was about to be seen by a rather large gathering of folk, added: “Would someone be able to throw my towel over the top of the cubicle please? It’s in the orange Sainsbury’s bag on the bench.”
I heard some rummaging before a voice said, ‘got it’, then he paused and added, ‘it’s quite small isn’t it’.
He flung the towel over, at which point I discovered Mrs Canavan – who had sorted my gear the night before – had packed a hand rather than bath towel.
It wouldn’t even stretch round my waist so when the lock clicked to green a few seconds later and the door opened, 15 men were looking at a shivering and naked nine-stone man holding a small cloth over his groin.
And to cap it all, I got reprimanded for being an hour late back from my dinner.