In my mid-twenties I had a job that I LOVED working for E. Corporate. E. is a clothing store for women in their twenties. At the time there were over 300 stores across the US. I was a New Store Coordinator and part of my job involved traveling the US and offering support to opening or remodeled stores. The other part of the job is fitting into the clothes and ensuring you look the part of an E. associate. Like ancient Amazon tribes, should you become over the age of 40 and/or dress like you were over the age of 40, you were immediately taken out back and buried in an elder ceremony.
Ali diet pill had just come out on the market. For anyone that doesn’t know Ali, it’s a diet pill that allows you to lose 50% more weight IF you stay within the fat guidelines. I had never really had a weight problem yet my daily snack of candy combined with my daily breakfast of an extra cheese and egg wrap were indeed taking the toll.
I began taking Ali on a Friday. Ali directions warned to wear old clothing for the first few days. The directions even suggested staying home during this on boarding session. The reasoning behind this advice was since you had not been following the 12 grams of fat or less policy, the first few days could result in an “accident”. By accident, they meant shitting oil.
‘I’ll be careful’, I thought. What idiot doesn’t immediately go to restroom when they get “that feeling”? Are they lazy?
The following Tuesday, I chose to wear my new silk mini dress that was the shortest I’ve ever worn. It had that very “mod look” of the 60’s with bold, geographic patterns. I had let my boss know the previous week I would be in late Tuesday, due to getting new tires. My tire appointment was scheduled for 8 am.
Getting tires on my car proved to be uneventful. Upon completion, it was only 9 am so I wasn’t going to be that late for work. This was a great day! It was spring, the sun was shining and I had brand new tires. I had just cleaned my car Sunday so between having a clean car and a new dress, I turned the radio up and sang along to Hey Yah! by OutKast. In twenties minutes, I would be at the job I loved!
About 5 minutes into the drive I started to feel gassy. Like any other hot-blooded American woman, I allowed myself to toot, cut the cheese, whatever you wish to call it. In my mind, it’s perfectly acceptable to do this as long as A. no one else is in the car and B. You’re confident you have a solid 30 seconds before drive thru to window #2.
I got to my cubicle in which my co-worker immediately stopped over to discuss an issue with our store in Metairie, Louisiana. Ellen was richer than God. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant, she had attended a private school for girls and again, pretty much loaded. She made two-thirds of what I made yet drove to work in a brand new, black Mercedes. Often times I would pull into a parking space, look to my left and find her rolling in next to me. She would look over at me with a grin of ‘you may make more than me but I could buy/sell you bitch’.
The Horrific Realization
As Ellen began to talk, I smelled something pungent. ‘Dear God, did she not brush her teeth?’ I thought in disgust. This had never happened before. I’ve never smelled her breath. Maybe she was late getting out and forgot to brush her teeth? I continued to listen intently willing myself not to make a sour face.
This carried on for a few more seconds until it hit me. It wasn’t her breath. With this unspeakable realization, I froze while my blood turned to ice. Ironically, I felt my face get hotter than a three dollar pistol.
In mid sentence I interrupted her, “excuse me Ellen, I am so sorry to interrupt you but I really have to go to the bathroom”. I quickly got up from my chair and darted to the bathroom. I began to feel slimy “down there” as I hustled to the first women’s restroom that I came across.
I turned the bathroom corner to find three stalls. By the grace of God the bathroom seemed to be empty. I disappeared into the first stall. They say the first stall has the least amount of bacteria. Given the procedure that was about to take place, I felt it my duty to align this stall with the same amount of bacteria as its other 2 comrades.
I laid toilet paper down as fast as I could. I pulled my dress up and my thong down, collapsed on the toilet and against my better judgement looked down to survey the damage. I hadn’t just shit, I had shit oil. A ridiculous amount of oil. It looked like a cross between Indian food and liquid bronzer. The smell was overpowering. They say when your child has rotavirus, you know its rotavirus because the smell is indescribable. I would say an Ali accident is #2 on the Richter scale. There was NO saving this thong nor wearing it past the stall. I sat horrified, contemplating and praying.
I weighed my options. I could wait till someone I knew came to the bathroom but that could take forever. What if the next 2 people in is the Vice President or a newbie? What would I say to them? ‘Uhhh, Vice President, I shit my pants. I know you have this rule about not making eye contact with anyone below a director level, and while I respect that, I need you to go buy me underwear’.
In ten minutes my Ali shit would smell even more like death. My second option would be to somehow wash my underwear, let it dry THEN put them back on. All of which would surely be discovered by a person surely coming in soon to relieve themselves. The last option was the only option but I didn’t want to believe it.
I came to the realization that I was going to have to go commando, through the office in a skirt that barely grazed my thighs. I began the hazmat like process of cleaning up the crime scene. I went through ½ a roll of toilet paper trying to remove the awful oil. The oil clung to me. No matter how hard I scrubbed, I felt like it wasn’t coming off. Next, I used toilet paper to wrap my desecrated thong. When I finished, it looked like a mummified squirrel. I took a deep breath, unlocked the stall and with a prayer, threw the mummy into trash. I washed my hands like a surgeon scrubbing in, using a huge amount of soap and making the water uncomfortably hot. I had to get this smell off me. I dried my hands off and left the O.R.
In what I thought to be a discrete mall walk, I made my way back to my department. Unlike a typical mall walk, I avoided swinging my arms. This had the potential to raise my skirt and be the reason for my termination and/or possible arrest. I glided first into my boss’s cubicle. She had just finished a phone call when she looked up and noticed my flustered state.
“Everything ok?” She asked while giving me the ‘you’re an odd one’ look.
“I’m sick. I have to go home”, I managed to string together.
“Oh?” She said with surprise. “What happened?” She asked.
“I got sick in the bathroom. I need to go home”, I repeated. With that I took 2 steps back so she wouldn’t see the back of my dress (which had a few drops of oil but praise God blended in with the geometric patterns) and jetted to my cubicle.
Upon my return, I was thankful that Ellen was no longer there. Praying to be invisible, I quietly grabbed my laptop bag and purse and began walking the long way out of our department since that meant passing less cubicles.
I didn’t touch Ali again for almost a decade. About a year ago, I reconsidered taking Ali. I journeyed to Kroger only to find Ali had been recalled. Later that night I researched why it was recalled. I found out it wasn’t because it was considered dangerous but because thousands of bottles had been tampered with. I can only theorize that this tampering was from another poor Ali soul inserting Depend coupons into each box.
A few years later, I told my boss what had happened. She didn’t seem surprised since she knew the craziness that is my life. It doesn’t bother me to tell this story now. In fact, I like to consider it an ice breaker.
Fool me once, shit at work.
Fool me twice, buy Depends.