I’ve just arrived home from work, unusually early, thanks to some weird goings on this afternoon. Little more than ninety minutes ago, I was working a case with one ryre looking forward to my lunch break, due in about twenty minutes, when the fire alarm went off. It’s at least two years since one of those last happened when I was on shift.
As I was sat at my desk, it was easy top grab my bag off the floor and my jacket off the chairback and evacuate. That wasn’t easy. I work on the Fifth Floor and, since the last time I had to do this, we’ve added the First and Second Floors. There were bottlenecks, enough to have been problematical in the event of smoke…
And we were kept outside for longer than any of these things have lasted before. When they started summoning us inside, they started with the Fifth Floor.
Thoae of you familiar with Fire Regulations will know that not until everyone is back inside and the alarms has been reset can the lifts be used (we only have one anyway at the moment, the other’s been out of action for almost a week), and for someone of my age, girth and dodgy knees, five flights is no picnic. My line manager, whose waistline is even bigger than mine, authorised me waiting for the lifts to be restored.
So we waited. Unfortunately, this was no ordinary fire alarm. No-one had yet owned up to setting it off, but worryingly it had not sounded on the First Floor, so they had had to go up to higher floors to work, until the alarm was reset. And the lifts could not be released until the First Floor was reset. Which had to be done by the Landlord’s Engineer. Who was on his way but who wasn’t expected for another half hour to an hour.
My manager’s shift was all but done, so he phoned up to the Fifth to have someone bring down his coat, bag and car keys so he could go home. I was reluctantly girding my loins for the walk upstairs (which would require three breaks minimum and at least twenty minutes recovery period once I got up there: I know, I had to do that two weeks ago) as I still had three hours left on my shift.
But my manager overruled me, and sent me home. This required a quick call to the Fifth to tell Jim to also bring my glasses case, which contains my normal spectacles (I have, and had on, a ‘reading’ pair for use at the computer only). And here I am, unexpectedly, with sausage butties brought in from the local chippy – the sausages, that is, I had the bread.
An unexpected alteration to my working hours, but not a necessarily unwelcome one.