Monday, September 24, 2007

The Power of None

The power went out at work today. These things occasionally happen, and when it does, all joy breaks loose.

No – not hell – joy.

People love an excuse to not work and still be paid. It’s like winning the lottery. As soon as the power went out, you could feel the sense of relief and “energy” in the air.

I have a laptop at work, so the power failure affected part of my job, not all of it. I could continue on working away on my laptop until the battery died. I wouldn’t be able to access my email, or anything on the network, because those go down instantly the power fails. But my hands could easily type away locally on my work laptop.

But they didn’t.

There was too much going on around the office to work. Everyone was gathering in groups, discussing anything and everything – except work.

Power failures are like recess, you look forward to when they come, you enjoy goofing off and hanging with your friends, and you dread when they end.

But this power failure didn’t last your typical 10-15-minutes or less. It was over an hour before the company decided to let everyone go. Not everyone has a laptop – actually most don’t – and without lights, even with a laptop it is hard to see what you are doing.

The blackout also caused quite a scare for our computer geeks. We all have electronic pass cards which allow or deny us access to the rooms which we require to do our jobs. The server room, where all the computers are that run the network, is only accessible to those in the Information Technology (IT) department. My job requires a functioning network, but as I don’t maintain the network (thankfully) I don’t need to access the server room.

The server room lock mechanism failed during the power failure, and so it does what it is programmed to do – keep everyone out. None of the IT personnel could get into the server room.

“Get a crow bar,” one of them said.

Oh boy!

Breaking and entering our own computer lab.

Eventually they got into the server room, I don’t know how – maybe they did use a crow bar.

Our customers are probably affected too. As the entire call center is computerized, the entire staff was let go early today.

So, anyone calling the call center won’t get through. They may not even get a voice message telling them the system is down and to call back another time. Imagine calling some company you pay big bucks to and nothing happens?

We’ll have a lot of frustrated customers to deal with tomorrow – or rather the call center will. Luckily, I don’t have to deal with that.

While I was waiting around for the lights to come on, I decided to go to the bathroom. No lights, it was pitch black – I got as far as just behind the second door and decided I’ll hold it in.

I didn’t want to pee on the wall, or worse – myself.

The emergency lights lasted only so long, and so aside from the light coming in from the windows, it was dark like coal throughout the office – including the bathrooms.

The stairwell was also pitch black, so Human Resources was escorting everyone down and out of the building in groups of 15 with flashlights.

I’ve worked at other companies where the lights have gone out and it is always the same thing – fun times, no work – just like recess – yippie!

I think I’ll buy a flashlight for the office – so that next time I can go pee during my extended recess.

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