It’s a 5am start as usual, a rush for the bus at the best of times, but I’m off out with work tonight and I’m out of routine, sandwiches in a bag not a box, remembering my small brolly, my eyeliner and posh lipstick for later.
Dashing up the road, in the dark, why is everything in Sheffield always uphill? The bus stops in the middle of the road as usual; damn that person who parks just next to the bus stop! An ungainly step up in my unforgiving day-to-night bodycon dress earning me an eye roll ‘n’ grin combo from the bus driver.
The train is full again, one fast service an hour north to Leeds but I’m in my favourite seat with the extra legroom and the person next to me is the nice man I often see in my chosen carriage. I quickly catch up on twitter and read the hateful article of the day and some more commentary on this month’s BBC debate into my right to exist.
Work is fine; I’ve not been at the company very long and I’m not officially out, but some will have guessed and everything’s fine, bar the sexist language. As one of only four women in the room to 10 times that number of men, the banter can get a little over the edge and halfway down the cliff before one of us can pull it back with a targeted ‘ahem’ or pointed glare. For the most part though, we all get along fine, nobody is horrible or ignores me more than the other women. When I’m settled in and trusted, I’m going to try and change attitudes, help the next generation where I can; we must have more women back in technology.
At a nanosecond after 5pm we’re off out to the bar, my eyeliner in place, matte lipstick looking spot on. A compliment on my eyes from one of the guys and I’m feeling pretty damn good. The bar is busy, lots of nicely dressed people, enough glances to have me breathing in and walking ‘just so’. We drink and natter, eat some food; a chicken burger and just the right amount of chips. I’m three glasses of wine in, and going well. We’re by the toilets so I take advantage and nip in before I really need, still early enough to not think about loo paper. The light is terrible, the dryer doesn’t work but I touch up lipstick and go. I’ve never yet been challenged about my right to be in a ladies toilet, bless you lovely women of Britain.
We move on, from fancy bar to real ale pub. By now I’m mostly chatting to the only other techy woman, talking nonsense and work and sexism and jobs. We grab a table at the pub but the men are happier at the bar. Comfy, we agree to give it another hour; she doesn’t want to be too late across the railway footbridge that scares her but the men want to move on. We decide to split and run. Into the railway station and her train is in FOUR MINUTES; a fast hug and she’s off at a sprint. My train is due soon too – down the stairs to a lecherous glance from a drunk man and I’m taking the long way around to my platform to avoid him. I rarely get read as trans nowadays, but drunk guys are extra dangerous; harassment and sexual assault, or double down for transphobic violence too?
I pick my platform place, not too busy, not too quiet and I’m soon on the train. I timed this perfectly – tipsy but not drunk, happy but safely in control. A quick selfie, the night has gone well and I feel attractive. My phone is soon beeping and bubbling to my friends approval and random men offering “Hey”, “Hello” or “Talk to me”. A quick glance at more serious tweets; a feminist is saying I’m not a real woman, a christian that I’m a threat to children, a friend is suffering under the weight of it all. The man opposite is staring at my legs. Still staring. Too long staring. I glare and thankfully he looks away.
A text from my girlfriend; am I getting wine? This is such a bad idea so naturally I’m in; haul myself up the hill from the station to the mini-mart – always friggin’ uphill! Hmm the wines are £4-something or a tenner; wait – £6.50 on offer, perfect! A quick transaction and an old pound coin slipped into my change to find tomorrow, the git. Where to – the bus stop with the drunks or the lonely one? I opt for lonely, where the new building site is. Scary and quiet, one man waiting, but he seems safe. Another man arrives, drunk … shit. Ah, the bus, I’m away!
Nearly home, a 10 minute walk. A car slows next to me and I’m alert and ready to run, but he speeds up again and is gone. Why do men do that for fucks sake? Past the pub, no bother, nobody in sight but its home territory and the lights are good. My house! My girlfriend at the door, a hug and home and two empty wine glasses at the ready … uh-oh!
Its a 5am start and oh dear fates, my poor head … but already I wonder what the hateful article is today?