Wednesday, June 27, 2018

If This Had Been An Actual Emergency...

I work in three locations: (1) home,  (2) a big corporate office with lots of people (who were all busy watching the World Cup matches on Monday), and (3) a very small office that is part of a big building that has one of the company's switch hubs. Today I was at the third one. Some days I'm the only person in the office, but today they were having some sort of training so there were a few extra switch techs and managers around. This was my day:

- While the building is near both the beer factory and the jelly bean factory, there aren't a lot of places to grab food and there aren't any vending machines in the building, so one of the managers ordered pizza for the group undergoing training. This started a multi-call tracking effort because the pizza guy couldn't find the (unlabeled) building but wouldn't answer his phone. At one point the pizza restaurant was going to make more and send someone else because they thought something had happened to the first guy, but he did eventually show up.

- We had company-provided ice cream bars to celebrate the fact that our region didn't lose a multi-company comparison. (There was a fair amount of head scratching as everyone tried to figure out how we pulled that one off. But yay, ice cream.)

- The switch techs are an interesting bunch. There are usually only one or two in the building at any time, and they cover shifts over 24 hours. Those requirements tend to select for people who don't mind being alone all day long and don't do much socializing. So... yeah.

- Yes, I realize I just described my ideal working conditions. But these people are even more isolated-cabin-in-the-woods than I am.

- In the afternoon the senior manager came by and said "We're having a fire drill." In most buildings that would be accomplished by someone notifying the fire department they were conducting a drill and then setting off the fire alarm, but apparently there is a possibility if they do that in this building the fire suppression system might go off. So instead we just waited until the training was over and went to the conference room.

- Once in the conference room the pressing question was what cost code to use because half the people were now on overtime. (I'm salaried so that didn't apply to me.)

- In the event of a fire, the switch techs are supposed to clear the building and then everyone meets under the sign at the far end of the parking lot. If there aren't any switch techs present, any other employee is supposed to clear the building. Since I can't access 90% of the building, if I'm the only employee present, any contractors that are too stupid to leave the building when the fire alarm goes off will just have to burn to death.

- If there is a bomb threat we're supposed to call 911 and also corporate security. On a landline. I have no idea how one contacts corporate security, but since I never answer the phone I don't see how I would ever have to deal with a bomb threat.

- If there's an active shooter we're supposed to either stay where we are or run away, unless the shooter is outside waiting to pick us off as we run out the door. By the end of this part of the meeting I was pretty much planning never to come to work again.

- If the building ever does need to be evacuated, nobody is allowed to go back inside until an executive director gives the all-clear. The nearest executive director is in southern California. Nobody could figure out how this was supposed to work. If we ever do evacuate I'm taking all my stuff with me because we won't be getting back in the building any time soon.

- Then one of the... less socialized, let's call him... switch techs told us that he had packed up ready to leave one day when a contractor in the yard needed to use the restroom, so he let him in the building then had to wait 25 minutes for him to come back out again. He concluded by saying he wished there had been a fire alarm that day because he would have been able to just leave.

- Half the people were staring at this guy because why would you tell that story? and the other half were staring because...

- "What was he doing in there?" one of the other switch techs asked.

- "Men don't ask each other that!" another switch tech explained.

- The conversation then moved to describing the (extra large!) burrito that must have necessitated that bathroom break. Many people chimed in.

- I realized after a couple minutes of this discussion that these people were all getting paid overtime for this.

- We eventually concluded the fire drill without leaving the building and I went back to my cubicle.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Revenge of the Universe

We've arrived at what is nearly the longest day of the year, which means Saturday was time for my semi-annual attempt to be social, otherwise known as Elisabeth and Noah's summer solstice party.

(Note -- they actually usually have parties for each solstice and equinox, but being around people more than twice a year seems promiscuously social to me. How they cope without my presence I don't know, yet somehow they get by.)

(Note #2 -- nobody is skyclad during these parties)

Even though our lot sizes are about the same, my house is easily twice the size of theirs, so their backyard is huge. When I got there it was still light (and windy!) outside (because... summer solstice) so Elisabeth was showing me around so I could see the various tomato gardens. Last year we had a weird year and both of us had a bunch of huge healthy tomato plants that produced a sum total of five tomatoes. This year she compensated and planted tomatoes in the same way that other people put in sod. I, on the other hand, did my usual thing of forgetting to put plants in the ground until May, so my tomato plants are all still six inches tall and seem to be considering whether it's worth the effort to grow and produce tomatoes or whether they should just go live in their parents' basements. I suspect by the end of summer Elisabeth and Noah will be secretly piling tomatoes on front porches and running away before they are caught. Usually only zucchini plants get you into that sort of trouble.

Anyhow, while we were out there a large dead maple tree limb crashed to the ground. Another limb had come down weeks before and they knew this one needed to come down and the wind finally took care of it. Other than bending a rose bush it didn't cause any problems and Noah dragged it to the side of the yard.

We went inside to eat -- for the first time it wasn't over 100 F outside, but it was so windy there were worries about the umbrella blowing over. The grilled corn was great, and all the other potluck food was tasty.

The umbrella blew over.

Then another huge maple limb (apparently healthy) crashed down on the same poor rosebush. We collectively decided we would stay out of the yard. Usually there is a candle-lighting portion of the solstice party, but clearly that wasn't going to happen in that wind anyhow.

And then yet another maple limb came down. At this point not even the dog was allowed to go into the yard to pee.

Then another person finally made it to the party with a flat tire, so Noah went out front to help her put on the spare while the rest of us stayed safe from the suicidal/homicidal maple tree.

The spare was also flat.

By the time they got back from the gas station to put air in the tires, it was pretty late, so two groups headed toward the door.

Group one came back in less than a minute and asked if anyone knew how to use jumper cables because their battery was dead.

I was honestly a little surprised when I left that my car hadn't been hit by lightning.

I think that's enough socializing for a while.