This is the final part in a three-part series about armadillos, careers and facial skeletal structures. The usual stuff of life.
Before I could capitalize on my earlier success in armadillo blowing (I’ll rephrase that,) armadillo bum blowing (no better?) I had to compete in another race.
A relay – complete with neckerchief and wooden hobby horse.
We had to tie the neckerchief around our necks and run with the wooden horse between our legs before handing off to our next team mate.
Clearly, it was another great opportunity to show off my elegance and breeding. Sigh. I’m sure Oprah nor Obama nor Queen Elizabeth ever did such things to get to the top.
But anyway, because I was the only woman at the event, my team was at a distinct disadvantage. Running with a wooden pole between my legs was not a talent I could claim. Consequently, our final team member had to gallop like the wind to move us up into first place from fourth where I finished my leg.
I remember watching him, fascinated as he ran like the clappers trying not to trip over his horse. He moved into third place, then second and was on the shoulder of the person in first when a vague thought entered my mind.
He was headed straight for me.
As he lunged to break the tape first, that vague thought imploded into split second white clarity as a similar thought entered his mind and we both dove to avoid one another – in the same direction.
Fortuitously or not, another co-worker caught the action on film as the runner somersaulted through the air, catapulted there by the momentum of his speed mixed with a last second change of direction as he sought to avoid me. The next photo frame clearly showed a shoe encased foot smacking me square on the jaw; the third, me crashing to the floor as my head snaps back on the ground.
I came to on a chair. I was surrounded by events people and my senior manager. My lower jaw was loose, my mouth all bloodied and swollen, my brain distinctly woozy.
But the first thing that entered that woozy mind of mine was ‘Whatever you do, Alison, DON’T cry.’
And I didn’t.
Oh, I wanted to. My chin wobbled; the tears came to my eyes. Normally in this situation, I clench my jaw but my jaw was in no position to be clenched.
So I stood up. Rather shakily, I admit. But I did. I brushed off the solicitations, swilled out my mouth. And walked forward.
I had a job to do. A race to win. An armadillo. Was waiting.
I didn’t win the final. It’s hard to blow up an armadillo’s behind with your lungs, or dynamite for that matter, when you have a broken jaw. The critical technique of pursing your lips into a small circle just isn’t possible.
I did wonder what on earth I was doing as I crawled on my hands and knees, attempting to blow but giving the poor armadillo his first shower in months instead. But it was a case of the show must go on.
I didn’t want to be a wuss. I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to save face. I didn’t want a fuss.
I didn’t want the men to be put in that uncomfortable position I described earlier.
My jaw still clicks and I remember sucking lettuce for a week. But I survived and obviously lived to tell the tale. I look back on that event with a smile, fond memories of a life well-challenged. I wasn’t traumatized, my reputation was strengthened, I still had a career, I was considered a woman with fortitude. I had an experience I can remember clearly, and spin a tale from, two decades later.
And the armadillo? I suspect s/he was glad to scuttle back to the place from which it came, bemused by the sight of these so-called intelligent, upstanding bi-peds on all fours, whistling through their teeth in a vain attempt to exert a measure of control over a creature more reinforced than a Hummer and about as interested in complying as a cat.
The General Manager I would apprehend at the coffee machine was a darling and gave up his seat in first class so I could fly home across the Atlantic in comfort. It was wonderful and exciting and luxurious. One of my ambitions is to be able to do that all the time.
Because flying first class once really sucks.
Blowing up an armadillo’s behind? With a broken jaw? Is that empowered? Advancing the cause of women? A good career strategy? I have no idea.
But it’s the kind of place you find yourself in when there is no map, no guidebook, no teacher. Where you live off your wits, make your judgments quickly, hopefully productively. It’s a Question The Rules kind of life.
Do you think it’s important to hide parts of yourself at work? What have you done to ‘up’ your career? Should I have cried to let them know how I was feeling? Let me know in the comments below 🙂