Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Safety Drill, or More Evidence Against Gaijin Telepathy

I got to work this morning somewhat refreshed, having slept in another 20 minutes past my normal time. I had picked up my donut (590 cal) and green tea (0 cal) as is my custom, and was ingesting and imbibing while reading the UW Daily Bulletin (omg, the Warrior football program is being suspended, c’est domage!) at my desk in my usual normal fashion. I should note that there were announcements being played over the PA system, but I was tuning them out quite effectively as I read about a steroid scandal in the ‘loo.

“RAAAAEEERRRRRR RAAAAAEEEERRRRR,” goes the siren. As I look around everyone already seems to have their hard hats on and are under their desks. My first (and completely illogical) thought was “Air raid? Fuck those North Koreans.”

“Get under your desk!” shouts Saita-san, “Get your –Japanese word for helmet— on!”

“My what? Oh, helmet. Okay. Gotcha.” I say as I scramble under the desk that has barely enough room for my legs, and promptly slam my head against the edge of it; “Hence the helmet. Ouchy.”

Before I know it everyone is out from their desks and running (RUNNING) out of the building. I follow, catching up to Saita-san and asking him what the fuck was up, as I was a bit worried I’d left my laptop and Kindle inside uncomfortably near the flammables cabinet. A small but loud part of my mind is thinking; “Any kind of disaster of sufficient magnitude will probably get me a free pass out of here. Come on North Korea… I didn’t leave anything of value in my dorm, it’s a sweet target!”

“Safety drill, didn’t you know?” Saita-san explains, “Did nobody tell you?.”

“Fucking gaijin telepathy, I need to work on that,” I mumble, switching to English, for obscenity comfort. Calmed down now, I realize I must have panicked a little, as I’m sweating buckets and I don’t think it was just because of the rainforest-y climes.

“You should not smile or laugh or look like you’re having fun,” contributes Saita-san, “This is a very serious exercise, almost like a military drill.”

As we form up in a line outside the building, everyone starts yelling out numbers in no apparent order that I can see. Suddenly there is silence, and everyone looks at me. “Say your number, Blake,” suggests Saita-san.

“What number, employee number? Its like 10 digits long.” Turns out my number is 6. I don’t know how this was assigned or how I was supposed to know it, but there you go. You can call me number 6, same as that blonde Cylon from BSG.

Now everyone begins to jog at a leisurely pace away from the building. To the Nipponese, a leisurely pace of jogging is something approximately equal to my normal walking speed, so I just walk alongside.

“Run!” utters Saita-san in a terrified whisper, “You must run to the –Japanese word I didn’t recognize, probably checkpoint or something.— Else we will fail this exercise!“ So I ran as slow and comically as humanly possible. With my too-small hard hat, extremely baggy and ill-fitting uniform, generally white complexion and towering height, I’m sure I was a funny sight.

Now we arrive at the tennis courts, for which maintenance has recently been shut down (along with the pools, gyms, and ping pong rooms) due to funding cuts, and now are in a somewhat dismal state of disrepair. Turns out this is our checkpoint.

Here is where it gets funny. Some guy comes up with a megaphone and starts spewing highly muffled rapid-fire Japanese that I can’t seem to get much meaning from. Then he salutes, rigidly and professionally. Then suddenly everyone around me is saluting.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Gets me a look from Saita-san, so I salute in my best form and try not to smile. Everyone then assumes a military posture with their hands straight at their sides, looking straight ahead. Now there is an announcement over the PA, that I try to listen to.

“We’ve just been through a level 5 earthquake (Japanese level 5 is pretty big, definitely 8+ on Richter), so remain standing in –some word, probably referring to our stance— position.“

Silence for long minutes in the sweltering heat and humidity. Then another announcement.

“2 people are stuck in an elevator, we are endeavoring to rescue them now. Rescue teams, assemble!”

Silence for many enduring minutes. Nothing happens.

“The trapped people have been rescued, but a fire has broken out in Building 1. Fire teams, assemble!”

10 minutes later, nothing continues to happen. Then it begins to rain. First lightly, then a full, torrential downpour, all without a word. It was like that scene in that movie, you know?

“We’re still fighting the fire, at ease, everyone.”

The people around let out their breath and move for the first time in like half an hour. I of course had been lolling (the real act, not the acronym) for a while, but the gaijin shield saved me from all but a few looks. Saita-san turns around, his face completely and disgustingly covered in sweat and warm rain, and says “Almost done now.”

“Whats next? Comet impact? Godzilla vs. Mothra? Neo vs. Agent Smith? Weather seems good for it.” I ask him, deadpan.

“I don’t think anyone will make a comment.” He responds usefully.

“Attention, Attention,” blares the loudspeaker, “The fire has been extinguished, please return to your laboratories.”

People cheer. THEY CHEER. I don’t know if they’re cheering at the extinguished and imaginary fire we’ve conquered, or the fact that they get to return after 45 minutes in the heat and rain.

Was all that strictly necessary? I’m soaked to my skin, my feet are killing me, and I dislike subtropical climates.

That is all.


  1. Heh heh... good ol' gaijin shield... Did you explain to Saita-san how fire drills work in our country?

  2. epicSauce! That is one hardcore fire drill, LoLs.