Tuesday, May 30, 2006

fire drills

Some new, non-cat-related material came to me (or should I say "rang" to me) today when we had a fire drill at school. I think it was my first fire drill in years -- probably since college, in fact. I've got to say that fire drills haven't really been something that I've missed very much... especially since during my junior year of college they happened quite frequently, and were always of the middle-of-the-night variety. Actually, I guess that they technically weren't fire drills, they were alarms caused by real fires. Or at least real smoke... which was usually a result of popcorn or pizza forgotten in the microwave or oven, respectively, billowing up to a smoke detector somewhere in the dorm.

Well, back to today's fire drill. When the alarm went off and the lights started flashing, the chaos and pandamonium that you might expect in such a situation was noticeably lacking. I looked around the staff room to see other teachers looking slightly perplexed, but still smiling. The overwhelming response from teachers was, "I don't remember getting a memo about this one." But then, of course, the fact that it was not a planned fire drill left the possibility that the alarms could be the result of a real fire! I resisted the urge to panic, and remembered the slogan posted in all elevators across Hong Kong: "In case of fire, do not use the lift." Though I never use the elevator to go down the one floor from the staff room to the playground, today it suddenly became a huge decision, and something I felt the need to remind myself of repeatedly. Do not use the lift. Do not use the lift. In case of fire... I very purposefully walked past the elevator lobby and down the stairs, joining the hundreds of ecstatic, lined-up students who had the priviledge of missing the last 10 minutes of class.

Now that I've got you on the edge of your seat asking, "Was there a fire?!" "Were there any casualties?" "Heroic rescues?" I'll put your fears at rest by informing you that the fire alarm was triggered by one of my prized pupils, Bruce, "accidentally" putting his elbow into one of those glass-covered alarm buttons. Way to go, Bruce. Thanks for giving me some much-needed material!

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