It’s summer 2014 and I’m a couple weeks into my internship at a dignified financial institution in the heart of Chicago. Suits and ties were regularly worn and professionalism was held to a high standard. Rightfully so.
As an intern, I was given miscellaneous jobs to stay busy and I did them with great accuracy and punctuality. I was a darn good intern if I do say so myself.
Until I was caught nude in the office by a co-worker. Not just any co-worker… my desk-mate.
Chicago gets hot during the summer. Real hot. I walked a few blocks to grab lunch somewhere that day and began profusely sweating through my shirt. Pit stains and spotty marks bled through my fancy dress shirt. DEFCON 5 situation. Feeling gross, I went into the bathroom to dry myself off… and I knew just how I was going to do it
I chose the stall furthest from the door. I hung my shirt on the clothes hanger on the back of the stall’s door and dropped my pants down to my ankles. Airing myself out in the cool AC, I thought I was a genius. I began scrolling through whatever on my phone in my birthday suit starting to feel revitalized right there on the toilet.
But tragedy struck!! I forgot to lock the stall door. The door swung open. It was my desk-mate– a longtime employee of said company. No time to think. I lunged my sweaty, naked body toward the wide-eyed co-worker to shut the door. We both stood there speechless. I wished immediate death upon myself.
What could be said? Explain to him why I was naked l at work? Say nothing at all? I had only moments to decide. I chose door number 2– silence.
I gathered myself the best I could and put my clothes back on and kept my gaze straight down at my feet for the walk of shame back to my desk. I didn’t sleep for days.
A couple months passed and it was time to close up with the internship and head back to Texas for school. Other than a couple of awkward white-guy “hellos” passing by in the hallway, that co-worker and I never did acknowledge that intimate day.
Even four years later, I often think about that day and that co-worker whose life I so suddenly rocked in that office bathroom stall. I wonder if he still thinks about me.
I like to reflect on it positively. I consider it a small victory for the male species. An unspoken brotherhood was born through tragedy — like the 300 Spartans who fought off 10,000 men. Just a couple of dudes who 1. work only inches away from each other for an entire summer, never learning each other’s names and 2. Repressing a terrible, very confusing memory deep deep down internally forever.
Just dudes being dudes.