(1) The Pencil Skirt
I own three pencil skirts: two of which are black; one of which is grey pinstripe. I’m a lawyer. Owning such items is an occupational hazard. I have never worn the grey pinstripe one (it was handed down to me from my sister; she’s an accountant; owning such items is also an occupational hazard for her). I have grand plans to refashion it into something wearable. I have not decided what or how. But, you know, grand plans. They are not limited in by such pathetic things as Decisions or Reason.
The two black skirts – which are pretty much the same – get worn infrequently, but they do get worn. Usually when everything is in the laundry basket or waiting to be ironed …
One such day, I wore one of the skirts to work (the only place I’ve ever worn black pencil skirts). It was a day I mostly spent in the office. But in the mid afternoon, I learned that I had some urgent papers to get to court. In my line of work, I have crazy days, where something urgent derails everything else. This is fine; I learnt as an articled clerk to always wear shoes I could run in. Always. I may have been wearing a pencil skirt, but I was definitely wearing sensible shoes. (Good story comes with why I have this lesson engraved upon my brain. I’ll tell you in another post. You know, a post about shoes even.)
I went to the court with my papers; it was urgent enough that a work mate drove me from our office across town to the court.
But the court! The court would not accept my papers. My papers were in the wrong form and I did not have some other paper – which the court had but I was required to also bring a copy with me so they would not have to find it in the file and I should have known this even though this information was nowhere except inside the head of the court administration (they’re called the Registry) people and I had read everything I could about how I was supposed to properly do what I had done and I thought I had but I was wrong wrong wrong.
It was 3.30pm, on a Friday and the Registry closed at 4pm and I needed the court to take those papers that day. Monday was much, much too late.
I did not panic.
(No, honestly, I didn’t.)
My lovely workmate was actually somewhere nearby with the car. She had said she would loop the block in case the registry was speedy on a Friday afternoon, and she’d drive me back to work, rather than me having to walk. I pleaded with her to drive me back to work, and then from work back to the court to give them the papers the way they wanted me to give them the papers (which, by the way, isn’t advised anywhere on any of their information; I looked and I would have done it right if I’d known, swear. I’m not annoyed by that part of it, no, not at all.)
Back to the office we went. My office is up a small flight of stairs. I marched into the office, with my workmate driver following close behind. I said, give me a few seconds; she said, sure I’ll just wait here. I proceeded to attempt to take the stairs three at a time, like I usually do.
Have you ever tried to leap stairs three at a time in a pencil skirt? You will know it cannot be done. The options are to fall flat on your face, or, well, what else?
There is another option, not considered by many as it requires super-hero-like speedy reflexes and complete lack of decorum.
I took this latter option.
Just as I realised I was about to hit the stairs, I hoiked my skirt up to upper mid-thigh and continued leaping. I finished the stairs like this, in maybe three or four bounds. It was only at the top of the stairs that I remembered my work mate was hanging around at the door, waiting for me. I paused. I turned around and peered down at her. She was looking up at me, her mouth slightly agape, poised between shock and laughter. I bared my teeth in a grin, raised my eyebrows and opened my eyes wide.
Then I said a bit sheepishly, ‘Sorry bout that!’ and got on with getting the papers the way the court wanted.
My work mate started laughing. She almost did not stop until we were back at court.
And that’s not the only happy ending, folks. The court accepted my papers second time around and it all happened before 4.00pm.
This is why, despite my occupation, I really should not wear pencil skirts. I don’t know how those other lawyers wear pencil skirts and crazy high shoes and still get their papers in on time. Weirdos.