I was surfing the web the other day for my preferred educational and spiritually uplifting material, when I hit a site that was all about embarrassing moments in bed. I have no idea why this site came up under educational and spiritually uplifting material, and I don’t know what was on it because I naturally closed it immediately and washed my eyes out with soap, but it reminded me of a story that would be tragic if it weren’t so ridiculous. It pertains to a moment early in my career, before I knew why it is important not to sleep with your boss.
I would like to say, at the outset, that I am fully toilet trained, and that none of this is my parents’ fault.
So anyway, there I was, sleeping with my boss. It’s not the way it sounds; we were travelling on a low-budget project, so while our male colleague got his own room, it was cheaper for us women to share occasionally during our two weeks on the road. The boss was the mother of a baby girl, and since the baby was just a few months old and breastfeeding, she went where the boss went.
At the end of a rough day of travelling and visiting villages, I collapsed upon the bed with the boss on the other side and the baby in the middle. “I hope she doesn’t wet the bed,” said the boss, by way of apologising for the arrangements, and then we said good night and turned out the lights.
I’ve always been a vivid dreamer. That night I had the misfortune of dreaming of a beautiful waterfall, next to which I was talking to some people while installed upon a white ceramic potty. The sound of the waterfall and the feel of the potty were so charming, and my bladder felt so full, that I decided to try out a tiny little pee, since it would be masked by the sound of the cataract, and my companions would never miss a beat. I chatted graciously, and peed surreptitiously, until it suddenly seemed to me that something was dreadfully wrong.
I opened my eyes around 5a.m. to find that I had relieved myself—nay, was still copiously relieving myself—in my bed, next to my boss. My nightclothes were soaked, and so were the sheets. I leapt out of bed and galloped wetly to the bathroom to shower and change, trying out and serially rejecting possible conversational gambits. When I emerged, the boss had opened one sleepy eye. “Good morning,” she said. “What are you doing?”
I looked wildly at the infant to see if I could blame her, but it was clear that a creature her size couldn’t possibly have produced what looked like eighty-five litres of urine. There seemed no possible way to maintain my dignity, so I took the first of many difficult executive decisions one has to take in one’s working life.
“I peed in bed,” I said, adding truthfully that this had never happened before. I could see her struggling with her face before she gracefully, and very much to her credit, assured me that this sometimes happened when people were very tired, and she was sure I didn’t do this regularly. Then she ruined it by saying “And there I was, worrying about the baby.”
As if this weren’t a sad enough story, the boss and I eventually had a great falling out. I imagine that if you’re going to fall out with someone, the fewer hideous stories they know about you, the better, but telling this one myself might be my way of telling her, in a blast of withering repartee twelve years later: You can’t fire me, I quit.