She opened one eye and looked at the time. She sat up in bed and let out a loud cry. It was 8.30am! She was meant to be at work at 9.00am. Frantically disengaging herself from the covers which had strategically wrapped itself around her, Zara fell out of the bed and ran to the bathroom. Cold water tap full on, she splashed the offensive, cold liquid on her face clenching her teeth at the shock. Toothpaste and toothbrush doing its job she got out of her pyjamas and began to pull on anything she could find readily at hand. Making do with a pair of jeans and a jumper she had worn the day before, she hurriedly put them on.
Back in the bathroom, spitting out the toothpaste, she rinsed her mouth out and ran back to her bedroom. She took of her skull cap, and brushed her fingers through her hair. Make up bag in hand, she dapped on some concealer, some foundation, slipped on her heels, put on her coat, grabbed her bag and ran out of the house.
“Not a good day, not a good day”, Zara repeated to herself. “Not a good day to be late for work. Lord I just want one day off!!" she cried. Her boss had sternly brought to her attention that her time keeping was becoming more than a ‘once in a while’ problem, and she would have to make efforts to see that she made it into the office for 9.00am. ‘The alarm didn’t go off’, or ‘I went to bed late’ just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. It was a race against time. She didn’t work too far from home, but the old age saying of the closer you work to home, the harder it is to get in on time was factual for her at this present moment.
Bus or train, bus or train? Zara mused as her heels made an off beat clicking sound on the ground as she walked rapidly. She looked at her phone - 8.43am. She decided to take the train, despite the fact that she would have to face the sweat and grime of the over crowded, over heated, less than comfortable rush hour. Normally, the bus or walking was her preferred mode of transport, but for Zara this was a moment of desperation, and desperate measures had to be called for.
She raced down the escalators to the Victoria Line just in time to see the train pulling out of the station. 8.47am. 5 minutes until the next train. Her jaw clicked as she clenched her teeth. This was so frustrating! She blew a loose strand of hair from her eye and smoothed out her jumper as she paced up and down the platform. Finally the train approached, and she got on. She was surprised how empty the carriage was, she would have thought for a week day it would be chock-a-block with commuters. She had been preparing to go shoulder to shoulder with the mass of people that would spill out of the train as well as those trying to fight to get on. She remained standing, tapping her foot impatiently on the hard plastic floor. First stop, second stop, third stop. Finally her stop arrived and Zara rushed out to make an exit.
Weaving in and out of the crowd she ran up the escalators and turned to apologise to the owner of a suitcase she had just pushed half way down the steps. Oyster card at the ready, and with crowds of people at the barriers, she attempted to squat and run through the suitcase barrier until a station ward very gently pointed to the correct exit barrier.
Out of the station she ran the last few steps it would take her to get to the office. Her boss would at his moment be checking the clock to check the time. 8.58am. “Sorry!” she called out to the carrier of a Starbucks coffee as it fell to the ground. Car horns beeped as she attempted to cross the road at a red light. Finally green, she ran across the road. Panting, wishing, hoping her boss wouldn’t even be in this day.
Reaching the office, Zara pulled out her staff pass to activate access. The light beeped red when she placed her card to the electronic reader. She tried again, and again a light beeped red. Why in the world, today of all days, was her pass choosing to act up? She looked at her watch. 8.59am. She attempted a third try. Beep. The light turned green. She pulled the doors open and ran past the Security Guard at the front desk as she made her way to the lift.
“Excuse me, Miss?” The Security Guard called out behind the desk. “Where are you going?”
“Um, let me think”. Zara put her finger on her chin contemplatively and cocked her head to one side. “Maybe...upstairs today...to the 2nd floor… where I work?” she retorted sarcastically as she repeatedly pressed the up button for the lift. The security guard came over to where she stood and pointed to a nearby sign. It read ‘Staff Access – Monday to Friday only’.
“Listen, I just need to get to work…” Zara's words trailed off as the guard squeezed her shoulder sympathetically.
“Miss”, he whispered. “Today is Saturday. Looks like you get a day off.”