It's all change in my team at work. As of Monday, I will be leaving the team I'm working in and shifting across to work in a different area of the department. Everyone keeps congratulating me on the move, but really it's no big deal: it's a job I've been spending most of my time doing for the last six months anyway and they're not promoting me or paying me any more money. No big deal.
Of far greater significance than my move is the fact that tomorrow is also my closest colleague's last day in the team before she begins her maternity leave. She's due in three week's time and because she's only a little slip of a girl, she is - as you can probably imagine - currently absolutely fit to burst.
As we work for a company that sells this kind of thing, we've made regular visits together to the staff shop over the last couple of months to pick up various baby bits and pieces: car seats, stair gates, pushchairs.... all that kind of stuff. I'm not there for any other reason than the fact that she needs a pair of hands to carry all the bulky stuff she buys back down the office and then, later, to help her out of the building to her other half's car when he comes to pick her up.
It's a bit of a standing joke in our office that, as we spend so much of our professional lives together, she's my work wife. Apart from making C's hackles rise a little bit when she hears that, that's not really a big deal, right? When she first started to 'show', a few of my other colleagues took the precaution, as blokes tend to do, of asking ME if she was pregnant rather than risk making an awful social faux-pas. Several of them then went on to jokingly ask if it was anything to do with me.
Ha ha ha. No.
We made one last trip up to the shop yesterday to see if they had put out any more discounted baby stuff. Nothing... so my colleague grabbed herself a chocolate bar and we queued up to pay. The staff in there are quite used to seeing us together, and as we were served, the cashier asked if I was there to act as a pack horse as usual.
"Nope. Just her chocolate bar today."
As she was served, my colleague looked over to me and asked:
"Are you sure you don't want anything? I'm buying!"
"No. I'm off out later for a pie and a pint and then the cinema, so I'll save myself for that, thanks"
"Oooh," said the cashier, "what are you off to see?"
Puzzled silence. She turns to my colleague, who shrugs. "Are you not fussed that you're off to see that?"
"Oh, he's not taking me."
"Is he not? Oh."
Now, wait a minute.....
"That," I point at my colleague's bump, "is absolutely nothing to do with me. I didn't touch her"
Cue hysterical laughter from all of the ladies behind the checkout counter, as though this was the funniest thing they'd ever heard.
...the gales of laughter were, by now, apparently unstoppable.
I shrugged and we left the shop. My colleague turns to me and says, "Well, you certainly made their day, didn't you? I think they all really like you."
Well, as C. would undoubtedly say, they're about in my target range. She thinks I have a magical power of charming ladies of a certain age, waitresses and checkout ladies specifically. I have my doubts, frankly. I'm sure there are worse superpowers to have, but I'm not going out to make a special costume just yet.
(Incidentally, this will be my colleague's first baby, and she seems to be under the illusion that once it is finally born, she will finally be able to get some rest. Um. Now, I'm clearly no expert in these matters, but my understanding is that this isn't really the way that these things work....)