There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good emergency evacuation.
Well, possibly there are a few things – chocolate is perhaps slightly more enjoyable, and a nice glass of wine or a good pastry also ranks pretty highly. But emergency evacuations are certainly up there on the list.
A school I used to work in did fire drills on a fortnightly basis. Then, after yet another high school shooting in America, they decided to institute practice lockdowns as well. The only difference between the evacuation and lockdown alarms was that the latter was perhaps a decibel higher. We could never keep straight which was which, and each time we heard a siren, would be unsure whether to take cover under a desk or go and congregate in the middle of the oval. Often the teachers would have quite lengthy debates in the corridors about what action to take, while the students sat in the classrooms listening to their iPods or getting a head-start on their homework, and meanwhile, the simulated crisis passed. I recall those days as a golden age.
I think of this today at work when the fire alarm goes off and we’re forced to evacuate. We stand in the street some fifty metres away, explaining to irate patrons that we’re sorry, but they can’t go into the library right now.
“Why?”, an elderly Japanese gentleman mimes. No-one around speaks Japanese, so my colleague decides to utilise her interpretive dance skills, flickering and darting her arms around in a manner intended to represent fire.
The gentleman looks alarmed. We realise retrospectively it looks more like a bomb exploding.
She amends her gestures to make them more vigorous and flame-like, adding bizarre crackling noises and periodically mopping her brow for extra effect.
After several minutes the gentleman nods in understanding, accepting that he can’t go into the library because there is a disco.