I was on my way for a job interview one day. It was December, so my non-air-conditioned car window was rolled down, my face shiny from the heat. I was early, and so was my period. I cursed Mother Nature and my ancestors for my predicament, but forced a smile. After all, any job interview in this environment was a miracle.
Naturally, I had to wait when I got there. The cool waiting lounge was filled with men in ill-fitting suits, potbellies and pointy shoes. A few of them stared at my bare legs, so I kept shifting uncomfortably in my chair and scrolling down my uneventful Twitter feed. I was hyper conscious of the pad between my legs, my worst fear being soiling the back of my skirt. There’s no recovering from that, not with middle-aged leery men waiting to watch me walk up the stairs.
Luckily my interview went well. I only re-adjusted my skirt once, and at the end of it, the manager smiled and said I should stick around and wait to meet the next supervisor. I felt victorious. I made a quick trip to the toilet but something was missing. You know those handy little sanitary bins for disposal they are supposed to put in the stall? They didn’t exist. Neither did toilet paper. I checked two other toilets, and I met the same scary truth. I only had one more meeting before I had to leave, so I wrapped my sanitary in some Kleenex and shoved it to the bottom of my bag.
Afraid of missing my next meeting, I rushed back to the lounge filled with men. My stomach growled and rumbled, my back aching, and my phone battery dying. I waited for hours, and each time I went to the toilet, I shoved another used pad to the bottom of my bag. I felt disgusting, and like everyone could see through my skirt. I sat carefully. My mood changed from chipper to hating the world and all its people, and my patience wore thin. Eventually this supervisor was ready for me, and I walked slowly, my thighs rubbing closely together, up to his office. Did I mention the elevator wasn’t working? There were three flights of stairs, and two people walking up behind me, probably wondering what was wrong with me.
At the end of the interview, I sensed something horrible – a dampness in my pants that was worse than before. I was terrified that at any moment my body would betray me and I’d leave a few spots of blood behind. Unfortunately, the man interviewing me was the kind of person that rambles on about irrelevant things and expects you to smile and laugh when appropriate. So I sat there in agony, three or four smelly pads at the bottom of my bag, and a potential ‘accident’ on the way. Satan must have been pointing and laughing at me!
When he finally excused me, I felt like running out. I stood up straight, shook his hand, pushed the chair in, and didn’t stop walking until I got to my car. I sped home and took a shower immediately, my heart still pounding.
A week later, I was working there, but I could never look at that man in the eye again. From then on I carried a roll of tissue in my bag and those black plastic sleeves for the next time my body tries to betray me.
*This story is a personal account of a problem that affects all women. The need to provide sanitary disposal services for women in work spaces is undoubtedly important. It affects our ability to function comfortably every month without worry about personal hygiene in our work environment.
We would love to hear some of the stories – funny, sad, agonising and painful – about your experience of professional environments that presumed women didn’t work there. Are there sanitary disposal and removal services at your work? If not, how do you deal with it? Join the conversation on Twitter @herzimbabwe #noSanitaryBin
Main Image from www.gurl.com