Drill Me


So, we had a fire drill in my office building this morning and, as usual, we had some advance notice (which, of course, completely obliterated any of the exercise’s validity). And, naturally, since the scheduled time of the drill corresponded closely to my regular coffee break, I grabbed my book (John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise, highly recommended) and sauntered to the elevators 10 minutes before the appointed start time.

And… the call buttons were disabled, indicating that they were thwarting the very circumvention of the drill procees which I was attempting. Curiously, though, the alarm bells were going off within the elevators. And not the fire alarm bells, but the emergency alarms. People were stuck in the elevators. Apparently they disabled elevator service for the drill without remembering to recall them to the ground floor. Sweet.

Hat, hard and red

So I walked down the eleven flights to the ground floor and walked through the lobby to the coffee shop but was stopped by an official-looking woman in a red hard-hat (which markedly de-officialized her). “You have to exit the building, we’re having a fire alarm drill!” she shouted, as if I had committed some egregious error.

“Um, what alarm?” I asked, gesturing upwards, to the nonpresence of any alarm bell, buzzer or siren.

“Can’t you read the sign?!?” she yelled, louder this time, and pointing at a sign which read FIRE DRILL IN PROGRESS.

I had to ask: “Is this a fire drill for the hearing impaired? Because, if so, I strongly recommend the installation of flashing lights to better alert those, like myself, who can hear no alarm.”

“Please, obey the sign!” she answered.

“But… the sign is informative in nature, not instructional, and, besides, if there was a real fire, would you eschew an alarm bell in favour of signs? Wouldn’t it be dangerous, in a real fire, to be running around putting up signs?” Exasperated, she turned from me to yell at the next group of people in the lobby, fiddling with their Blackberries and whatnot. And by this point I had reached the coffee shop and had ordered a large, which would just about do me for the duration of the stupid drill. And an official-looking man in a red hard-hat came into the shop and asked “are you people crazy? This is a fire alarm drill! We need to evacuate the lobby!”

“Um, what alarm?” I asked, gesturing upwards, to the continued nonpresence of any alarm bell, buzzer or siren. “Is it Sleepytime at the daycare center on the mezzanine, and we don’t want to wake the kids with a siren?”

Clearly unencumbered by any sense of humour, Redhat grumbled “please, we have to get the building evacuated!”

“Yes, just as soon as I get a lid for my coffee, ” I answered, “oh, and some cream and Splenda.”

“Now!” he ordered, to the complete noninterest of every patron in the coffee shop.

I finished preparing my coffee just as the alarm bells started, exited the building and read two chapters in my book, giggling appropriately; that John Hodgman, what a card!. The drill finished and was deemed, apparently, a success, though by which standard of success-measurement, I can only imagine.

On the upside, I was able to ascertain, by observing the rest of the evacuation, that the number of fuckable hot guys in my building has, since the last drill, increased from four to six.

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