Monday, October 13, 2008
When I work in Leeds I have a routine that is automatic; rush out of the house about ten minutes later than I would like to be, hair wet, no make-up, clutching my mobile phone to make sure I remember it and dash off in the car to try and beat the Leeds rush hour traffic. Stop on the way (usually in a traffic jam) and put velcro rollers in my hair and make-up on my face about twenty minutes before arriving at the car park. When I get to the car park I change into my trainers to do the fifteen minute power-walk from the car park to work, aware that I sometimes look very strange, depending on my outfit/footwear combo. However, as stated before, a woman over the age of 40 in the UK is rarely given a second glance and is blessed with an unspoken invisibility cloak. I haven't got a purple hat yet but I'm sure the moment's not too far away.
Last Monday I set off from the car park more slowly than usual (my thigh muscles were burning from the run) and got about a third of the way there. I was distracted from my normal robotic routine by a commotion behind me as I was crossing the road at traffic lights. There were two feral-looking men with pinched faces shouting, swigging from cans and careering along the pavement. One of them had a bloodied nose and fresh scabs all over his face. I hurried along a little faster, feeling quite threatened even though it was early in the morning. The shouting got louder and they got closer and closer, I ended up breaking into a slow jog, but they were still catching me up. Other workers were crossing the road to avoid them but it was too late for me. I sped up again, clutching my handbag and suddenly I felt them grab me from behind. I turned round screaming and looked straight at the shaved head and bloodied face of the most frightening one. 'What do you want?' I yelled. 'Don't panic love, I'm sorry for scaring ya but we couldn't let ya go to work like that...' he still had his hand on my arm and then his friend reached out to touch me too. 'What do you mean?' I asked, preparing for my dress sense to be insulted by a hoodie.
'We can't let ya go in the office with a roller stuck to ya jumper darlin'!' and he produced a bright yellow velcro roller from my back.
I apologised profusely and we ended up walking to work together - the scabby one admitted that he looked terrifying but said that he'd been set upon on Saturday night by some 17 year olds when he'd been roaring drunk, tottering around with a take-away and got beaten to a pulp. He then advised me to get some ghd hair straighteners that wouldn't stick to me and we waved goodbye. Afterwards I realised that none of the business women I passed said anything to me about my dayglo roller. How strange!