Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


All fired up

Filed under : Student Life
On November 12, 2010
At 1:45 am
Comments : 4

Yes, I’ve been too tired to write for over a week and all I have is this Seinfeldesque line: what’s the deal with fire drills? I suck. See, I really would like to tell you the nicknames I have in my head for all the people at my placement school and the famous people who attended it and the tours that go through every hour while the kids go on with their lessons, not even noticing or how I am dealing with the small portions they give you in the cafeteria and who I should sit with or how I am busy whittling down the many routes and transfers I could take to get there to which is the quickest, but I’d hate to give anything away until I’m done. You see, I have fallen a bit in love with the place and its staff. Maybe later.

But, anyway, it can’t just be me because I’ve worked at five or six different companies and institutions over my career and they helpfully e-mailed you in advance to send out the fire drill schedule. The 4th floor will be at 11am… the fifth floor will be at 12pm, and so forth. At my new job it’s by building (and fortunately, my building was an hour I wasn’t scheduled to be there). I almost forgot that it wasn’t always this way, that in school, you’d be sitting in class wishing Calgon would take you away when suddenly that alarm would go off and everyone would jump. But now I’m back! Back in the theater of my childhood, the K-12 school. Twice in one week this has happened. The first time, I was meeting with a teacher in an empty classroom when a light somewhere in my periphery started to blink and suddenly the teacher jumped up and said, “fire drill! I have to go get my kids.” And she ran out of the room. About three seconds later, the alarm went off. I just followed the herd out to a nearby park and contemplated the re-emergence of the surprise fire drill.

I wasn’t any better clued in the second time, when I was observing a class, and behind the teacher’s head a light began to blink and… you can guess the rest. A kid yelled out joyfully, “fire drill!,” the teacher groaned, and off we went to the park. Along the way, I heard one of the little kids say that immortal standard of fire drills to another child, “do you think it’s a real fire?” Adults never seem to say that. And you don’t get to go to the park, either. At the Record Company, we met in a central hallway where they checked to make sure the “searchers” were still employed there. That’s always a risk in the music business.

But, well, now I have it down. I know all the escape routes to the park and how the blinking light is the first tell-tale sign. Because, let’s face it, if a fire breaks out at my “real” job’s workplace (you know, the one where they pay me), I’ll probably think, “but I didn’t get an e-mail!” Then I’ll e-mail someone and ask them if they think it’s a real fire. Somehow, I think the preparation with the element of surprise and the moving to the exits in an orderly fashion is probably a wee bit more conducive to your chances of survival. But what do I know? I can’t even figure out where to sit at lunch.

Interpol – All Fired Up


4 Comments for this post

  1. Val says:

    I’m jealous that you get notifications. Mine consists of the nice loud surprising alarm going off. Although we do occasionally have advance notice, it consists of “There’s going to be a fire drill sometime today.”

  2. Elena says:

    That reminded me that we DID get about a hundred emails that there would be fire alarm testing on 11/11 and that if it lasted longer than 7 minutes, that meant it’s real and leave the building. Like we should sit and time it? But I NEVER heard any alarm or saw any flashing lights. We have had trouble before with the alarms not going off in the staff areas. Like, they don’t care if we all die–fewer people to have to pay. Budgets cutbacks–easy way to reduce the surplus population!

  3. tami says:

    I’m just glad to know that you will be safe in the event of the real thing.

    Fire drills are very different between first grade and fifth grade (the two grades I have most recently taught). They are no big deal to a fifth grader. BUT, to those six year olds, a fire drill might as well be the REAL deal! Our principal usually lets us know ahead of time when the drill will be. But, no matter how much warning, I’ll still get at least one child with eyes brimming with tears…trying to be brave…trying to act like it’s no big whoop. I just have to gather them in my arms like a mother hen gathers her chicks and tell them it was just a practice and that everything will be okay.

    You can’t imagine the amount of energy it takes to herd 20 little people out of the school, stand in a line to wait the principal’s okay to return, keep those same children preoccupied so they don’t think about the “fire” in the school, and then herd them back inside to try to resume teaching whilst the children think about whether or not their parents are safe at home.

    (I don’t know why I shared that. You just “sparked” a “flame” in me and I had a “burning” desire to share. I realize you didn’t “ash”k me for my opinion but I thought I’d show you a “flicker” of my fire frill day.

  4. Becca says:

    Val, no, it’s actually a good thing! Because you’re better prepared. Although, I admit, the e-mails help me keep my sanity.

    Elena, I am considering your theory of attrition by fire, but wouldn’t they have to pay a lot in insurance? So I’m not sure. I’d have to analyze it on a spreadsheet.

    Tam, I don’t think they tell the teachers here; they are all surprised – and dismayed. The first teacher I mentioned there was a Kindergarten teacher and I can only imagine how hard that must be to deal with. But even in the 9th grade class which was the second drill, it was really hard to settle them down afterwards. No wonder the teacher was annoyed.

    PS, that’s the punniest comment I can rem-ember.

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