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Is It Really So Strange?

November 14, 2007

Today, for all of about a minute, the city where I work experienced a power outage. It was right before I was going to meet someone in the lobby to head out for a nice leisurely lunch. At first I thought some dufus just hit the light switch (located conveniently next to the door open button, this switch kills the lights on the entire floor – a handy feature for annoying all your co-workers) but then I realized my PC went out as well. The lights came back on and I thought nothing of it. I headed to the elevator bank and waited for a car to take me to the lobby. Others joined me, and soon we noticed that the light on the elevator call button had gone out and could not be re-lit. That’s when we got concerned. A co-worker who had a dentist appointment to get to decided to evoke the mantra of our product line (when the lifeboats come, step over all the bodies to get in!) and we headed for the emergency exits. We made it downstairs to see 3 fire trucks in the street and many firefighters in the lobby. I immediately called 2 co-workers who were upstairs, got one on the phone, and insisted she come downstairs. I had no idea if what was happening was life threatening, but I made a quick judgement. OK, I also asked her to bring my laptop, because apparently if the building is on fire, I save my laptop. Not my files, pictures of my children, or my blow up Dummies Man. No, the laptop won’t fry.

When she came down, most of the activity had subsided, but people were not being allowed back onto the elevators. There was no emergency, no alarms, and no evacuation in the building, so now I’m being mocked by othere for my actions. I wasn’t being Chicken Little and I certainly wasn’t in a state of panic. But having lived through various NYC related emergencies, from a fire in our building to the big blackout, I’ve decided that following the advice from the Worst Case Scenario guidebook isn’t always such a bad plan. It’s in no way comparable, but I think of the people in the WTC who were told to stay on their floors and not leave. Our emergency preparedness teams advises us to head down and out when faced with an unknown situation. What’s so strange about what I was doing?

The funny thing is the woman I was meeting for lunch is the one I was stuck in the 2003 blackout with. She and I worked in NJ, and she lived in a building right next to our office in NJ. We traveled into the city to go to the Prada sample sale, which those who know will tell you is the urban legend of all sample sales – but it was real! We never made it to the sale, as the moment we stepped foot out of the PATH trains to head to the subway, the lights went out. Something about our coming together, much like when the A’s play the Giants, sets the universe on it’s ear.  It’s better that we work in different departments now – keeps the chances of chaos down. 

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