Not A Drill


It was a quarter to quitting time when the fire alarm went off. At first, I thought it was a novelty ringtone on somebody’s phone until I realized it was actually coming from the building.

Ok, that’s the fire alarm… I thought. Maybe it’s a drill? Or a mistake?

Often, if the building knows an alarm is going to sound there will be an intercom announcement to explain it, but no such announcement came.

Ok, so it’s real then. I decided. I wasn’t particularly alarmed: everybody else was just as confused as I was, but we all knew what to do. I picked up my phone and my wallet, then thought for a second and grabbed my umbrella for the sun because it was a hundred goddamn degrees outside and I didn’t need to be getting a sunburn because of a fire alarm.

And then, even though they say not to gather your belongings, I unplugged my laptop and tucked it under my arm. Because I wasn’t going to leave my novel behind, fire or no fire.

My co-workers and I traipsed to the stairwell and slogged down ten flights of stairs. The stairwell wasn’t crowded: no one seemed to be emerging from any of the other floors. When we reached the ground level we stood on the sidewalk comparing notes: who had taken the stairs, who had left early, who was still missing. The elevators, it turned out, were still working, and the Powers That Be descended to earth without the legwork required of the rest of us mere mortals. We quickly determined that our floor was the only one on which an alarm had sounded- which explained the empty stairwell- and that the alarm wasn’t just a drill- which explained the arrival of a fire truck complete with lights and sirens.

The firefighters emerged and went inside and within fifteen minutes we had an all clear and were able to go back inside with the days excitement behind us. In the end it was all a bit of nothing, but it did get us all on our toes.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 11, 2019.

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