Thursday, October 05, 2006

What doesn't kill you makes you smoky

I have an excellent excuse for today's lack of productivity: our department caught on fire.


Well, kind of. Actually it turned out to be just a few trees and planters by the entrance, but there were a scary lot of big flames and the whole building filled with smoke, so it still counts, right? And the wind was kind of impressive today, so the flames were whipping up through all the trees alongside the building and for once I was thankful that we work in what amounts to a big concrete and brick bunker.

Some disturbing moments:

"Is this a drill?"
"No, there's real smoke and flames."
"Can I still teach my two o'clock class?"

ScaryLecturer emerging from his office in a little red plastic fireman's hat (because it turns out he's the fire warden, and the job description for fire warden is running around in a red plastic fireman's hat. Apparently.)

The realisation that our building might be fireproof, but with the amount of smoke inside, the sprinkler system was likely to switch on and ruin all our work anyway.

The final disturbing moment involved Dr Pompous, who walks like he has a poker up his bum and affects what he obviously believes is a "proper" English accent, complete with a vocabulary that can only have been gained from spending too much time with 19th century novels. He is also the only person in the department to use the title "Dr." (a cardinal sin in Australasia) rather than go by his first name -- even his sandwiches in the fridge have "Dr. Pompous" written on the bag. His other sins involve responding to, "How are you?" with a complete catalogue of his medical conditions. Including information about his prostate, which is always accompanied by a not-so-discreet pat of his crotch. And finally, he has an irritating habit of asking everyone each afternoon how many words they have written that day and gloating about how he has written more than anyone else. Oh oh, and another finally: he once told me off for talking to someone in the corridor outside his office because he was "engaged in important research, unlike some people." So yeah, I don't like this guy all that much.

Anyway, the point of this is that as we were all gathered outside watching flames and smoke make pretty patterns on our building, Dr. Pompous suddenly realised that Elderly Superfamous Researcher, whose grant he is employed on, was missing. "Don't worry! I'll save her!" he shouted, and plunged back into the building, which was equal parts sweet, icky and asking to die a horrible burny death.

Miraculously (or disturbingly, depending on your point of view), the sprinklers didn't activate, so nothing was damaged inside. But the place was full of smoke and ash and smelled like a fireplace for the rest of the day, as do my hair and clothing. Which meant I had to go off and spend the rest of the day browsing the Thursday markets and drinking in a cafe, right?

The photos I took don't look very dramatic, because (a) I didn't think of taking photos until after they had already put all the flames out, and (b) I 'accidentally' seem to have focused on the firemen to the detriment of anything else.


Pug&MooseMama said...

eek! glad everyone (with possible exception of Dr. Pompous-how pompous can someone actually be and still be a real person?!) emerged relatively unscathed. Definitely calls for an afternoon off. I may just have to take one off for you too... ha! any excuse not to work these days...

turtlebella said...

oops that was me, turtlebella up there, in my alterego as mother to dogs...I am too used to hitting "enter" after I enter in word verification...ehhh, this beta blogger...

Anonymous said...

Oh dear... Some dopy bastard with burning cigaretee butts in the garden?
Having the smoke from log burnoffs down the hill decide to waft into offices was bad enough - the wind changed while everyone was in a seminar.