The routine was the same from grammar through secondary school: safety patrols would strap on their day-glo orange belts, go to their stations and act like junior fire marshals. It was usually the nerds, and those whose were nerdier than I if such a thing was possible.
The fire alarm went off a couple days ago. I saw no smoke from the adjacent buildings nor in the reflections of ours. I smelled no smoke. I was in the midst of dealing with a Prio-1 problem for a very large customer. Most people started shuffling out. I stayed, as did Steve. Fuck it, I'm close enough to an exit if there's really a fire.
Along came a pretend fire marshal. Nerd. Dressed up with his little day-glo orange vest and a walkie-talkie he was actually strutting.
Nerd: You must leave ze building.
REC: I'm busy.
Nerd: Do you not hear ze alarm
REC: Of course I hear it. Do you not see I'm on the phone with an important customer problem?
Nerd: But you HEFF to leave ze building.
REC: As soon as it gets dangerous.
Nerd: It is alvays dangerous. Hyuu must leave before ze exits is blocked.
REC: We're one storey up and I'm right next to a huge window. The exit ain't blocked
Nerd: But zat could injure you.
REC: Dude, it's not three meters. I've fallen farther accidentally and been fine.
Nerd: But you HEFF to leave!
REC: Why? There's no fire, this is a drill, and a 10,000-user center isdown. I'm not in grade school anymore.
Nerd: But I am ze Fire Custodian Marshal end you heff to listen to me.
And it was then that my manager walked by and I was informed in no uncertain terms that I had to play, too -- tough shit for the customer. The twat in orange beamed a triumphant grin and waited for me, pointing the way I had to leave.
REC: I'm sorry but I'm going to have to call you back.
REC: I'm sorry. There's a fire drill.
Cust.: A fire?
REC: No, just a fire drill. A pretend fire.
Cust.: You're joking!
REC: I wish I was.
Cust.: How long will this take?
REC: I don't know. Ten minutes? Half an hour?
Manager: Move it, REC!
Cust.: We can't wait for games!
REC: I feel the same way. My manager's standing here yelling at me to leave.
Cust.: I'm going to complain!
REC: Please, for the love of all that does not suck, complain. Complain to management and escalate it! Complain as much as you possibly can!
Cust.: You call back immediately when the game is over?
And out I went. Into the cold. At least it wasn't raining like the day before. But being outside wasn't enough. Nosiree, we had allotted positions to take, ostensibly "in order to make sure everyone is out". And how the fuck do we do that? We don't punch a clock or log in or sign an attendance sheet. How the fuck would anyone know that someone's missing? I wasn't the only one asking this, but it was clear that the $MegaCorp employees grumbled less than we acquired $BigCorpers. They're used to it.
Fifteen minutes later we were allowed back in. The safety patrols at the doors weren't informed of this decision and tried to block the masses from returning while chattering away on their walkie-talkies. Since each mook at each entrance was trying to talk at the same time, all the messages were stomping on each other so that no one understood a thing.
We finally got in and I called the customer back. We found the source of his problem and had a resolution in six minutes. More than 56 man-hours of call-center time were wasted so some nerdy Krauts could dress up and play fire marshal. Figure a calculated loss of at least €15,000 for this company alone.
I'm an adult. I make my own decisions. I am ultimately responsible for my decisions, including those affecting my safety. I will determine whether a 3-meter drop is excessive. I lost time, my colleagues lost time, our customers lost time and money, all so that some twats you want to punch in the face before they even open their mouths could play dress-up and feel superior.
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