Thursday, April 03, 2008

A rumor of fire in the building... and an April skeptic

I have mentioned, I'm sure, that I have an interior office here at the Undisclosed Location. I don't need a window, really, and when we moved in my other three co-venturers wanted the three offices with windows. As a sort of compensation, I had a clerestory installed so that my office receives some outside light... even if it is mostly fluorescent light from the adjacent hallway.

So when I heard the unusually loud cacophony of sirens Tuesday morning, I didn't have a window to look out of and see where the commotion might be. (And this is a sign of my long-delayed maturity: I also did not run into the hallway, doing my thoroughly inadequate Jimmy Cagney imitation, yelling, "They'll never take me alive!" I did, however, think it. My Jimmy Cagney imitation is much better as interior dialog.)

Later, in the afternoon, one of my fellow tenants poked his head in my office and told me he'd just been informed by our new tenant's young assistant that there'd been an electrical fire on one of the lower floors. He was going to investigate.

"C'mon," I said, "don't you know what today is?"

"April Fool's Day... so you think the kid was pulling my leg?"

"Has to be." I was dismissive, probably even turning back to my computer.

"Well, I'm going to look anyway," my fellow rent-payer said as he closed the door again.

He was back soon after.

"There was a small fire," he said. "You could smell it as soon as the elevator doors opened."

"Not you, too," I groaned. There'd been no alarm. No evacuation. I certainly never smelled smoke. Sometimes I smell popcorn when someone on the floor below microwaves a late afternoon snack... but that's a different story.

My colleague gave up trying to persuade me and went back to his office.

A little while later the nice young lady from the Office of the Building stopped by. We all congregated in the hallway to hear what she had to say. (Gosh that sounds grandiose, given how few we are in number... but we had unusually high attendance Tuesday afternoon: There were at least four of us besides the lady from the landlord's office.)

"I just wanted you all to know," she began, "that we had a small fire earlier today on one of the lower floors. It was electrical -- one of the baseboard heaters began sparking -- and the Fire Department was able to put it quickly." There'd been two sparking incidents, it seems, one while the firefighters were here.

Her news delivered, the lady from the Office of the Building left. I turned to my colleague who first told me about the fire. "You're really pulling out the stops on this one, aren't you? What'd you have to do to get her to come by on this?"

He laughed and we both went back to work.

And then I remembered... oh, yeah, the sirens.

You know... at lease renewal time, I'm going to ask about fire alarms in this building....


Shelby said...

clerestory is a new word for me.. I'll call it the word of the day.

(I don't have a word every day, but I like it when I do).

glad to hear the illusory joke that wasn't even quasi turned out ok.

Lahdeedah said...

I've never heard the word clerestory.

I'm impressed.
And when I worked at an office in va, occasionally we'd have 'routine required' fire drills.

Except that no one would leave, because it interrupted our work, and we had deadlines, dang it... to the point where our company vp would walk around shooing everyone out of their offices...

Patti said...

I also learned a new word today.

Thank you, Curm sir.