I was always told playing with fire was dangerous, and this week proved it - I nearly died of pure fright.
Monday: AJ called us together for the morning meeting and said he'd decided over the weekend to implement an "added function" policy, to follow on from the previous weeks' "added value" and "added content" policies. He said every time you complete an operation it has increased value and increased content, now I want you all to ensure that it has increased functionality as well - I know I can rely on you to do it! We all nodded and smiled, intending to just do what we all did last week and the week before. After he'd gone back in his office happy I said to James you know, it sounds like he's promoting a new detergent - extra content and extra value, for a brighter, cleaner product. James had hysterics.
AJ and Andy came around to tell us all there was going to be another surprise fire drill today, and this time it would be at the start of the lunchbreak at one o'clock. Nobody's happy about it because it cuts into our lunchbreak, and Andy must have gotten some comments from the shop floor about that because he came around just before the morning break at ten and said it'd been changed and now it was going to be at a quarter to one instead.
The fire drill went off without a hitch, and James said well, that's our two drills in the twelve calendar months, so at least we've got that out of the way now.
Tuesday: AJ decided to have another surprise fire drill today, but this time it was a surprise. He didn't announce it beforehand, and just triggered it off without telling anyone what he was doing. The alarm bells all started going off, and I panicked and tried to get everyone out, but Donna wouldn't go as she was talking to a customer and told me relax, it's half past two and it's a mistake. LeeAnn said it's raining outside and I'm not going to go get wet for nothing - I'm staying in the office, and James said AJ didn't tell us there was going to be a fire drill today. I went downstairs to find out if the shop floor were going out or not.
Steve from Stores was pushing people to get out and said are all your lot out yet then? I said no, is this a real fire drill? and he said I don't know, but we'll say it is. I went back upstairs and finally got everyone out by saying the shop floor were going to the fire meeting point so we all should go too, and if they didn't I'd turn off the server - and the coffee machine as well.
I found Andy to get the roll call sheet. Steve from Stores was there, and he said why did you call this one, Andy? Andy said I didn't, but he was beginning to look worried in case he had and didn't remember doing it, then AJ came strolling over and said well, that was a better evacuation time than yesterday, wasn't it? He strolled off again before Andy said no - yesterday's time was four and a half minutes because we were expecting it, today's was twenty-seven minutes and not everyone's come out yet.
Some people were still coming out wondering what was happening even after Andy had called it off and sent everyone back in.
Wednesday: The big printer wasn't working after the lunchbreak again. Walked over, pulled Mike's mobile charger, plugged the printer back in.
Andy came around to tell us all AJ had called another surprise fire drill at nine next Monday, so we'd all start the week fresh and alert. I hope he gets tired of it soon.
Thursday: A training officer called Emma came in from the local fire fighters to tell us all about fire extinguishers, and brought an assistant with her called Larry. Emma showed us all a video and asked questions about it, then we all went out to the corner of the parking lot we'd all been told to keep clear, where Larry had set up some different extinguishers and a barbecue set. We all stood there while he fired up the barbecue and then threw a can of gas on it - it went up with a *FOOOM* and we all took a step back. AJ said yes well, Andy and I will leave you to carry on at this point - I'd really like to stay but we must discuss tomorrow afternoon's meeting. We all watched him and Andy scurry back in the office.
Emma talked us all through which color extinguisher did what and said everybody would try one. Mike was eager to go first and we all were happy to let him, so she'd know it could only get better. He got the plain water one and did his best, but he didn't put the fire out - he spread it. He hit the stand and near knocked the barbecue over, and it spat burning gas out on the surface of the parking lot. Larry put it out and Emma made Mike put the extinguisher down and back off to let James have a go.
James got to try the water one too, as did LeeAnn. Then Mike decided he wanted another go as he said he'd got the hang of it now, and Emma said all right. Larry set the fire going for him, and then came over to help James and LeeAnn take the extinguisher away from him. Emma said it was OK, she'd been standing too close to the fire and at least her jacket was waterproof. She was nowheres near the fire, but I guess she was feeling guilty that she'd let him have another go.
Fiona and Donna both got to try out a powder one, which looked fun, and then Amy was given a little green one. It didn't look so impressive, but when she got it going it sure put out the fire real quick. There weren't any extinguishers left for me to try but I was feeling pretty OK about it, until Emma suddenly turned on me and said you're the only one who hasn't had a go, aren't you? I said it's OK, I don't mind. Emma said imagine this is a domestic fire and so we all watched while Larry put a griddle across the barbecue and a pan on top of the griddle, then filled the pan with gas and set it alight. Emma said now watch what happens when Larry puts water on it. It was pretty impressive, and we all took another step back.
She said pick up this blanket, walk up to it, and put the fire out by smothering it with the blanket. I don't know why she picked on me - it was Mike that had soaked her, not me. All the others just stood there and waited to see if I'd do it or not.
She said hold it up in front of you with your palms toward you, turn it over a little to protect your hands, and walk forward steadily. My brain must have shut down in self-defense (although the jury's still out if I've even got one), because I did walk forward, and I did what she said, and it worked. There was a little smoke coming through the blanket, but it did put out the fire. She said OK well done, and I went and hid behind LeeAnn for the rest of the session.
We all took her back in the office so she could dry her pants and shoes out a little more while Larry put the extinguishers and the barbecue away, and she gave us all certificates. If there's ever a fire in the office I can either smother it with my new Fire Extinguisher Proficiency Certificate or I can let someone else have a go. I'm already the office fire steward and I don't want to hog the glory, so I guess I'll let someone else do it.
Friday: AJ said at the morning meeting that the "added function" policy was turning out to be less easy to measure than the previous weeks' "added value" and "added content" policies, and maybe we all needed a boost to remember to increase functionality. I forgot to keep my big mouth shut, and said how about 'for a brighter, cleaner product'? and AJ said yes! that's perfect, that's what we want! James said you'll have to excuse me and went out, fast. I could hear him giggling on the stairs, but somehow I managed to keep my face from cracking a smile
The only trouble with being ironic is AJ wouldn't know what 'irony' was even if it boogied up to him wearing a Comic Relief charity T-shirt (from March 16th., with that 'offensive' slogan on) and french-kissed him.
He came over to my office just before he went to the afternoon meeting at Head Office, and said that idea you had of a cleaner product - I've been thinking about it and really there isn't any need to pack some of them in lube to ship them, is there? it's rather messy and it costs a lot. I said unfortunately yes it is, or they might seize up during transportation - then we'd have to take them back for repair, and that would be much more expensive. He said yes, I see your point - OK then, I won't mention it at Head Office until I've had time to think about it.