When the emergency PA system in my office building begins blaring, the message usually communicates nothing of interest and yet still projects far too loudly to be ignored. This morning it informed us repeatedly of a water leak on the second floor (well below my office), and I was forced to crank my iPod volume to unusually loud levels in an effort to drown out the missive.
This technique was apparently more successful than I at first realized, because I was surprised when my co-worker Jon wandered into my cube and said, "Sasha, am I going to have to do my Shelley Winters impression and swim across the lobby?" Apparently, by this point they were evacuating the first 10 floors of the building (but still not ours).
We both had a good laugh, but only about 45 minutes later we would discover that he was slightly more on target than we had at first guessed. The whole building was evacuated, which meant that a few thousand of us were forced to descend many tens of flights inside a hot, dark stairwell. On the way down, we tiptoed through murky brown water and had another chuckle at Shelley Winters' expense (after rounding a corner and seeing a big red crank like the one she so valiantly turned in that modern film classic — you know you know which one I'm talking about!).
The stop-and-go foot traffic was significantly slower and more claustrophobic from what I recall of the one fire drill I participated in a year ago in this tower. And with so many people crammed into the stairwell, Jon, I and our co-worker Camille were somehow separated from the rest of our group. Finally, after about 30 minutes of descent, the three of us were liberated into the sauna-like atmosphere of the Christian Science Plaza, where clusters of frustrated office workers made calls and worried about how they'd get their cars out, while others planned leisurely afternoons. We went to our company's rendezvous point but were unsuccessful in locating anyone we knew. I can only assume that they all wound up at the Pour House.
Myself, I was rather tempted to join the kids playing in the fountain, but I headed home instead, where I settled for ice cream, AC, and the joys of the remote workplace.