We were all instructed to file quietly into the hallway and wait for instructions. I guessed at once that it was a fire drill because the sputtering of the security guard’s radio revealed voices of some managers arguing where exactly the fire is. If it was a real fire, I doubt that any of the managers will still be on the radio.
We pinoys are something to behold in crises, even in imagined ones. Almost immediately rumors began flying.
“The fire is on the 3rd floor!”
“No it’s on the 11th floor!”
“No,” says another, “The 9th floor is where it’s at.”
“Somebody in insurance must have started it.”
Anyway, after what seemed like a hellishly long time, we began to file obediently down six flights of stairs, spurred on by an over-excited manager who was part of the Emergency Rescue Team (ERT).
He kept yelling “Baba! Baba!” (Go down! Go down!)
I was thankful that I was located at the 6th floor. I imagine those on the 14th must have killer calves by now.
Outside, the street was empty. No firetrucks, no curious onlookers, no camera crews. And when we looked up at the building, no smoke was to be seen anywhere. A fire drill, alright.
Our relief quickly turned to boredom. We were all itching to get back to our cubes and bask in the glow of our monitors. And true to pinoy form, we were soon making jokes about the fire drill.
I noticed a few of the girls were carrying their shoulder bags. One was was trying her best to balance bag, books, a plastic container, and her lunch sack. Boy, was she all packed and ready. Our planner was nibbling peanut kisses from a torn plastic pouch. How can anyone eat at a time like this?
The only thing I could grab before the horde swept me away was my cellphone. I knew it was a fire drill, you see. If it was a real fire, I would have made sure I had my ibook tucked safely under an arm. No way I’ll leave my baby behind.
Our Finance officer, a stocky guy who was a real stickler for rules was one of the first to make it to street level. I was amused to see that the only thing he carried with him was a fluorescent highlighter. It was bright pink.