Thursday, January 25, 2007

False Alarms at Work

About once a week, normally on a dull, lackluster afternoon, we’ll all be interrupted in the office by a loud jangling and clanging noise. Much like a fire alarm. In fact exactly like a fire alarm, for that is indeed what it is. It’s a loud irritating sound; one that might easily get on your nerves and make you want throttle your cubicle mates. Or one that might cause you to stick that yellow pencil lying on your desk right into your ear (and I don’t mean the soft eraser end) -- anything to make the noise stop. The only reason one might actually tolerate such a cacophonous auditory abomination is that it’s there to save our lives. Supposedly.

One might, not unnaturally, expect such an intimation to be the cause of much panic among the denizens of the office, none of whom are fire-resistant. It would therefore, if one were to be present within the confines of the building when the alarm goes off, come as quite a surprise to see employees display no greater concern toward it than a slight frown and a vigorous shake of the head (to get the noise out of their brains). But no wild dashing toward the exits, no mad grabbing for the fire-extinguishers, no crazy leaping out of the windows, no insane “Osama’s decided to target Poona now!” yelling. Not even the calm, single file exodus that one might expect during a fire-drill. Just frowning and shaking. And some pencils bending and some necks choking.

The alarm generally lasts about 30 seconds. Our puzzled observer might spend about another fifteen-twenty minutes in a state of amused bewilderment, before a loud voice is heard on the Public Address System.

“Excuse me, may I have your attention please. This is the ______ Access Control Speaking. The alarm that you just heard was a false alarm. I repeat, the alarm that you just heard was a false alarm. We are all safe at work. Thank you.”

Yes, folks. Every single time. (I’ve seen about 4306 false alarms since I’ve started work here. As for real fires, I haven’t even seen a candle flame.)

Now, I don’t really have a gripe against the false alarms. I know Rob (imaginary co-worker I make up to protect real identities) likes to go for the odd cigarette or two in the closet next to the washroom, especially on dull, lackluster afternoons, when there’s little else to do. I just have this niggling suspicion that he might in some complex way, which I am too ignorant to ever fully comprehend, be responsible for setting off the alarm.

But here’s what I DO have a grudge against -- it takes FIFTEEN minutes to announce the alarm’s bogus? If the alarm’s legit I want to be screaming like a little girl and running for my life as soon as I possibly can. Not after I’ve waited fifteen minutes. Not after the flames start to make my chair painfully hot to sit on. Not after my hair catches fire. What frightens me is that we’ve all got so used to this regular false alarm crap that no one even moves from their place any more. And one day those fifteen minutes might just be too late.

Remember, I’m not talking about planned fire-drills over here. We’ve never had a fire-drill. I guess when (okay, “if”) the actual fire does happen we’ll all just use that two-step process I mentioned above.

Step 1: Scream like little girl. (If you are already a “little girl”, just scream. Then file lawsuit against company for “Exploitation of Child Labor”.)
Step 2: Run for your life.

(All this AFTER you’ve been burned to a toast in those fifteen minutes.)

And finally, it’s interesting to note the last line in the announcement: “We are all safe at work.” Last time I heard the announcement, I stood up and looked around. Sure, everyone was “safe”. But the only living creature “at work” was a mouse in the corner. (Oh, and Rob in the closet.)


lara said...

lol...i read the title and then the ending first. now i'm imagining how Rob landed in that closet - it's quite fun this way. and be thankful that when you have those stupid drills, you don't have to stand outside in -50 ice rain for an hour!
btw. why are you here? don't you have a wedding to go to?
k i'm going to finish reading this post, or rather, start it lol.

lara said...

hurry up and come back.

Diana Kotwal said...

Just read five of your latest posts together. Best fifteen minutes of my day so far. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

how do you get this bullshit in your mind??
but nice:)

Anonymous said...

ack...dats my tummy recovering from sniggering , TINKLE cheers to da blog and hope it gets richer wwid new posts by the day APPLAUSE ....

Sidd said...

Dude, how do you manage to do this? Seriously, you gotta get yourself a column somewhere.

I mean, if a complete twat like Jeremy Clarkson can write books, why not!?

P.S.: I find Jeremy Clarkson funny, that peculiarly English habit of finding everything that is not from jolly ol' England utterly contemptible notwithstanding.

sumanthewhiz said...

No updates for so long... what's the matter?

Anuj Agarwal said...

Boss you hava a nice english....the blogs are not very meaningful but the presentation is quite good...

daba by daba said...

Nice one.. i enoy ur blog..

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