Blood in the Boardroom
My boss, Dr B, a respected university professor, was hosting a roundtable discussion on an extremely important issue last week (and no, I don't mean the introduction of fat-free chocolate with added fibre and selenium). As the newbie to the centre, it was my role to ensure that it was all catered for, set up properly and that all the visiting egg-heads could insert their data sticks and direct themselves towards the baguettes and fruit on the table.
None of the above responsibilities are difficult, unless it happens to be required of me, the clumsiest and most un-smooth person in the southern hemisphere. On this particular day however, things seemed to be chugging along rather swimmingly. The caterer had arrived a half hour early to set up the coffee machine and fill the long oval table with baguettes, fruit and carrot cake and I had already made enough copies of the program and discussion papers and put them on every chair in the room.
Midday saw the data projector working nicely, the whiteboard pristine (hint to youse all: baby wipes gets rid of the old faded scrawls that the eraser can't rub away) and a beaming Dr B exhorting me to stay and join her boffin buddies for lunch. "You've done an amazing job MillyMoo. I'd like to introduce them all to you as I'm sure you'll be forging some pretty productive working relationships."
Reddening, I accepted her invitation even though I felt rather sweaty and dishevelled after wrestling in the doorway-sized rat-hole that served as the boardroom's kitchen. I needn't have worried - of course, these were academics we were dealing with here, the kind of people who dress themselves in the dark and who think the Twist is a crazy new dance that all the young kids are doing.... Academics are a unique breed who are often world authorities in their particular fields of expertise but struggle to comprehend the workings of velcro. Naturally then, the baguettes and fruit were enough to impress - most of them would have been functioning on fellowships and grants that would have made a jar of international roast a daring luxury.
It was then that Bernard's keen eyes fell upon the plate of carrot cake. "Oh wait a second," I piped. "Let me go and get our new bread knife so that I can slice up some pieces for you." Off I trotted to our little treasure trove of kitchen implements. The rancid rat hole only possessed a bolognese-splattered microwave, a paper towel dispenser and some poo brown 'cafe bar' cup holders originating from the late seventies. Hidden in the corner behind the unclaimed shelf of warped tupperware lids, was a reflex paper box, and in it were our newly-purchased-from-KMart platters, glasses, serviettes and knives. Full of pride I scuttled back to the boardroom with the new Wiltshire glinting evilly by my side.
Off went the gladwrap as my right hand prepared to sink the knife into the glisteningly moist cake. Somehow, in less time than the blink of an eye, the blade skimmed the top of the cream cheese icing and instead sliced into my left index finger. Two seconds later when the pain finally reached my nerve endings and my eyes registered the cake being redecorated in red splatters, I dropped the knife, muttering something like "BLOODY HELL!"
This naturally brought the entire roundtable discussion to a standstill. "Oh, sorry folks, it's OK, I'll just um, pop out and find some, um...." Leaving an MA18+ rated trail of bright red drops behind me, I found myself again in the rathole, frantically pulling out papertowels and wrapping them around my finger. "POO BUM BUGGER SHIT FART!" I screamed at the bar fridge, giving it a kick for extra emphasis. "Why do these things always happen to ME?"
Dr B tapped me on the shoulder. "MillyMoo are you all right? Should I take you to see a doctor --- oh dear, it's seeped through and it's running down towards your elbow!"
The blood plop plopped on the floor in a steady stream. "Oh never mind, it's a good thing I'm wearing black," I said, smiling weakly. "You go back to your egg-heads ----- sorry --- colleagues --- and I'll find myself some decent band-aids." Such hopeful, naive words were rarely spoken in the heritage listed hellhole known as our Research Institute before. There was no first aid box, no-one in their office who'd been clever enough to stuff a bandaid in their briefcase and nothing other than toilet paper that was even remotely absorbent. (Actually that's not strictly true, but I don't think that sticking my hand in the brown berber modular settee abandoned in the front hallway would have been a particularly successful look either).
After ten minutes of much cursing, fumbling and dripping later, I tried to slip back into the boardroom quietly and unnannounced. No such luck. "Give us a look at your finger MillyMoo! Has it stopped bleeding yet?" "Do you feel dizzy from the blood loss?"
"Well actually yes I do come to think of it---"
"Have you filled out the OHS 'Incident and Accident Report form'?"
"Um no, I've been a bit waylaid----"
"We've sliced the half of the cake that wasn't tainted by your blood spill. Wanna piece?"
In my haste and greed to say yes, the triple layered paper handtowel came loose and more claret splashed onto the table, my elbow and the cake. As I dashed from the room in an aura of disgust and disappointment, I hoped fervently that the baguettes and tim tams made up for the desecration of the cake.