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Smoke And No Fire



The big deal this week was the fire alarm at work. Like all other businesses large enough to have fire wardens we regularly have fire drills, but nobody expected the alarm to go off fifteen minutes before the end of shift. Even after hearing the noise I still didn't realise a real fire alarm was happening , right there, right then. Finally somebody remembered that a fire alarm sounded like that and we were supposed to exit the premises by the nearest convenient exit. So we did.


It wasn't too cold, but none too warm either. We spread out across the car park aimlessly before the management began herding us in a quiet corner, and just in time, because the fire engine turned up, blue lights flashing. Looks like a real fire then. Rumours were spreading. Something had burst into flames.

A few firemen loked busy but there wasn't any smoke or signs of heroic fire fighting. Everything seemed quite calm and businesslike. Then a second fire engine turned up. Oh hello... Is this a serious fire? Rumours began to spread again. Apparently a forklift battery charger had ignited itself.


By now the more curious of us were brandishing mobile phones with the vain hope of videoing the end of the warehouse in glorious high definition. Now a third fire engine turned up. Only this one stopped at the entrance to the car park and then reversed away.


"Put that fag out!" Yelled a manager. For the unenlightened, 'fag' is British slang for a cigarette. A startled warehouseman did his best to look innocent. "I'll see you tomorrow" The manager warned. And then, a fourth fire engine turned up. It didn't even stop, turning around to go home disappointed that the building wasn't burning to the ground, or more likely, that the naughty warehouseman had put his cigarette out as ordered.

The 'All Clear' was given so we went home. Didn't even miss the bus.


The Importance Of Doing Nothing

Of late I've been pretty busy at work collecting wooden pallets and related tasks. It gets a bit physical, even on the days when I can get a powered pallet truck to use, which isn't so easy because another section tends to nab one sooner than me. One of their team doesn't like doing manual labour.

On one day the manager told me pallets were an emergency because no-one had left any from the previous shift. I was lucky to get a truck that day, but as compensation for the forthcoming 'headless chicken' duty, I was to be given the help of Hamster (not related to a certain Top Gear presenter).


There's a number of youngsters in the warehouse who form a social clique all of their own. Basically they do all the things the managers don't want them to, but because there are two senior youngsters, Baby Face and Hamster, they pretty much get away with their shenanigans.


I was just preparing to shuttle lots of pallets in 'rush hour' when I spotted Hamster walking past. Usually he drives a powered truck of a different type, and seeing him walk is a rare event. I asked him where he intended starting pallet collection, only to be told that he didn't have a truck. I see. Well, how about grabbing a hand truck and manually stacking pallets so I could wheel them to their destination? He walked away. Hamster doesn't do manual work. His job is to look important driving pallet trucks. Oh, and laugh at Baby Face's jokes. Very important duty onbviously.


It Happened Again

Apparently there was a solar eclipse last friday. I wouldn't know. Partly because the sky was cloudy, partly because I live too far south, partly because I had dozed off watching a dull episode of Star Trek, and partly because I seem fated never to see a real astronomical event ever. Almost time to go back to work. Welcome to my life.


Cigarette Of The Week

At last the working day has come to an end and warehousemen in various stages of tiredness and disgruntlement amble up the road to catch the bus. Many of us face very long walks home if we miss the last one.


One of my colleagues has become quite popular with the managers, mostly because he comes across like Paddington Bear with a midlands accent. He's not as cute and cuddly as the managers think but since when did a manager ever assess someone correctly?


Anyway, once at the bus stop Bear felt the need for a smoke before the bus arrived. Suddenly there was a desperate need for a lighter, because he didn't have one, neither did I, nor anyone else, so he took to waylaying colleagues on bicycles as they rode by. Finally he managed to get one to stop and help him out. Just as he was about to take that first puff on the wretched cigarette a passing lorry blew it out. His midland accent remained, but where was the Paddington Bear demeanour all of a sudden?