Today we had a fire drill to test the new procedures in our building. Despite most of us not taking the opportunity to view the new video on how to escape a fire, we still managed to calmly mosey over to the correct stairwell. This is very important according to all of our instructions, because in the past we’ve had a defiant rogue element who walk to the stairwell that was not designated as theirs – I know, I know, I should have preceded that statement with a warning to sit down and grab a fan. We slowly wound our way down and out of the building to meet up in the designated area. The weather was lovely. It was about 68 degrees, the sun was shining and there was a light breeze. I even managed to catch up with a co-worker so I could occupy my time discussing bad movies, British comedies, and who starred in the British version of “Coupling”. It turns out that Anthony Head did not actually appear in that show, I was personally just as surprised as you are now. It turns out he actually appeared in a show called “Manchild”, which I had confused with “Coupling”. I’m glad I could clear that up for you as well.
The fellow I was speaking with is from Great Britain and I’m convinced one of the reasons he speaks to me is thanks to my amusing “provincial” American ways. But where he may be able to speak about a life lived around the world, I can always regale him with my tales of a decidedly un-provincial existence, like that time I went to Christoval, TX . (I found the most delightful trailer home there, which sounds a bit condescending, but honestly it was amazing. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to describe in a way that you would also appreciate.) It’s a great story. Whenever he uses the term “provincial” (and he does) in reference to me or any other American he encounters he does it in such a way that it’s a gentle verbal pat on the head. A very British way of saying, “bless your heart” without using all those extra words or requiring a porch, rocker and a mason jar filled with sweet tea. In his mind, I’m certain I’m categorized as a delightfully unworldly colonist. Whereas he’s the put-upon English gentleman. He amuses me with his dryness, reservation and occasional begrudging patience as I flit about while inanely chattering away (made all the more inane in an attempt to increase my amusement at his polite stoic squirming – please don’t tell him it’s part of a mini-psychological test devised to see how much one person can reasonably endure. The results so far: quite a lot.). It’s a lovely give-and-take where I’m the embodiment of a Vaudeville act gone awry (banana peels and pies in the face) and he’s the long suffering sort desperately hoping his head won’t explode from too much senseless chatter.
After talking for a bit in the designated area surrounded by everyone in the building in their various states of, “can we just get on with this”, the signal came that we could re-enter the building. Our lovely safety coordinators with their bright orange vests and their clipboards pressed against their chests led the charge and as quickly as proper etiquette would allow, my co-worker fled back to his desk.
When I returned to mine I saw I had a new shiny email waiting for me. It was an invitation to take part in a “How did we do on that evacuation?” survey. They wanted to assess my evacuation going experience. Did I feel comfortable? Was the weather the right temperature? Was it aesthetically pleasing? On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent, how would you rate your evacuation? It even included a comment section “How could we improve future evacuations for you?” I only made up a couple of those questions. Overall, I gave them a 4. Hey, I feel there’s room for improvement. Maybe if they added comfy chairs and a live band, I could see myself giving them a 5 in the future. But I do give them credit for being concerned that I had a delightful time during my brief stay in the parking lot. Getting to annoy a co-worker while outside on a beautiful day was really just a bonus.