Dust motes floated in the air, tickling my allergies. The janitors hadn’t cleaned this old file room in years. Why bother, when no one ever came in here anymore? Except me, because my boss just had to have an invoice from 2013. As I pinched my nose to prevent a sneeze, I fantasized handing him an IRS audit notice and watching him break out in hives.
I reminded myself that I only had to make it through one more day before my vacation started. By Saturday I would be in St. Louis, cuddling my grandchildren. And in only three more years I would be eligible for retirement. I could make it through three years.
I pushed a file drawer shut, sending more dust rising into the air. A violent sneeze ripped out of me, rattling the plastic file drawers stacked on top of the cabinet. I was surprised they hadn’t toppled. As I drew in a shuddering breath, another sneeze racked my body, and this time it was too much for my bladder. With mounting horror, I felt the warm leakage seeping into my pant leg.
Khakis, the worst possible color for hiding wetness.
This had never happened at work before. What was I going to do? The bathroom was a long walk of shame to the other side of the building, so my best option was to hang out here until my pants dried. Hopefully no one would come looking for me. I shut off the lights so they wouldn’t be seen through the frosted glass in the door. Then I stood spreadeagled and used a file folder to fan my pants.
When the doorknob turned, I let out a little squeak. Without thinking, I dropped to my knees and crawled behind a stack of boxes. If I got caught, I could say I was looking for a contact lens. In the dark. With wet pants.
I heard the door shut quietly, then soft whispers and a muffled giggle. They didn’t turn on the light. Great. Apparently this file room was the high school equivalent of “under the bleachers.” Guess the janitor should clean in here after all.
My knees were already starting to hurt, so I hoped they’d at least be quick about it. I ran through multiplication tables in my head as I tried to block out the little slurps and moans. I imagined standing and shouting, “Boo!” I had to suppress a giggle, so I wouldn’t get caught, but also so I wouldn’t have any more leakage. Why had I ordered that extra large iced tea at lunch?
Then the woman whispered, “Oh, Ken!” and I got a bad feeling. I had to risk taking a look. As I straightened, one of my knees popped. I froze, but the pair hadn’t noticed.
The man was Ken Meadows, my boss’s boss’s boss. He had inherited the company two years ago, and had been running it into the ground ever since. I had never spoken to him, but I knew his much younger wife, Sandra. We had met at the company picnic last year and bonded over our mutual dislike of sack races and egg tosses. She had invited me to join her book group, so I saw her once a month.
Sometimes the group discussed the book. Sometimes we drank large amounts of wine and discussed our husbands. That was how I knew Sandra was bored and lonely in her marriage. That was also how I knew about the no cheating clause in their prenup.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket, using a hand to shield the glow from the screen. As I started recording with the video app, I could make out two figures and I could tell what they were doing, but there were no distinguishing characteristics. I kept filming anyway.
When they were done, the woman opened the door to see if the coast was clear. It was Debi from sales, with the big fake smile and the blouses that were always too tight. Light spilled in from the bright hallway and perfectly lit Ken’s face in my little video. Indisputable proof.
Ken left first. Debi counted to ten, then followed. I stopped the recording and stood creakily and stretched. My pants were nearly dry.
I smiled as I emailed the video to Sandra. Because of my leaky bladder, my friend would soon own half this company.
Incontinence and book clubs: the superpowers of the aged.