This morning, as I’m busily getting work started, lights flickered and an announcement came over the loudspeaker: May I have your attention please. A fire emergency has been reported in the building. Please evacuate through the nearest exit. Do not use the elevators.
And I sat. The college instinct was strong. Some flurried around the room, some who had been chosen as “emergency fire marshals” donned their orange armbands and tried to herd us outside. My boss and office mate was resilient. When our marshal came to motivate us, she told him that the false alarm announcement would be soon coming. He was persistent. She decided to go get coffee anyway, and I put on my coat, wondering if I should take my gym bag in the event that this is a real fire I could spend the day productively.
Just as I stepped into the hallway, the false alarm announcement was aired. The college instinct was the correct one. Every time I lied awake in my extra-long twin sized bunk bed with pillows over my ears I wondered when I would grow out of ignoring fire alarms or when I would finally run out of white marbles, draw the wrong one and be in a burning building doubting the possibility of a real fire.
Apparently, that day has yet to come.