Thursday, May 17, 2007

Electric Boogaloo

I have just survived the maddest two days at work that I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Day One. On Tuesday afternoon a burning smell was reported coming from the main electric metre of the building. Investigation revealed not only an overpowering smell of burning wires but also an inordinate amount of heat emanating from the metre box and the cable housing beneath.

I’m not a trained electrician but even I know that’s not a good sign.

Cue various visits from various electricians and experts who all, to a man, sucked their teeth, nodded, oohed and aahed and basically said there was an imminent risk of fire and/or explosion.

We promptly evacuated. The building that is. Though the public were amazingly nonchalant about getting out of the danger zone. The internet junkies from the Library’s cyber café had to be dragged away twitching and sobbing about their abridged chatroom romances. Old ladies had to go to the loo just to spend that last penny. And we even had a Christian group in the Assembly Room who refused to leave early because God’s work was far more important than saving their own hides – though they were lightening fast at demanding compensation for their lost room hire. God certainly moves in mysterious ways.

As do the electricity board. They turned up around 7.30pm, took a look at the metre and cable intake, isolated it, shrugged their shoulders and said they’d see us in the morning around 9.0am. Ta-ta.


Except that the building only has battery back-up power for a maximum of 8 hours. Which meant that all the fire alarms, security alarms, heating, IT facilities, and all other essential services all died around 1.0 am the next morning leaving the entire building – including the Art Gallery with an art and object collection worth millions of pounds – completely “unprotected”.

To add to our problems most of the external doors to the building are electronically operated. Without power they all defaulted to open so absolutely anybody could have walked in off the street and helped themselves to whatever was available. Hence my boss, Jeff, and I were stuck at work until 10.30pm getting all the doors secured with a local carpenter. This involved nailing planks of wood across them on the inside so that they couldn’t be opened and swapping the electronic lock on one door with a mechanical lock so that at least staff with a key could get back into the building again the next day.

Day Two. Back at work to find the place in total darkness and quietude. The electricity board arrived at 9.45am (as opposed to 9.0am) and straight away brewed up for a cup of tea. I guess it’s all a question of priorities.

While the building staff milled about in the penumbral atmosphere, reading newspapers by the light of their mobile phones and basically making use of the shadows for whatever nefarious purposes that took their fancy I ran about trying to coordinate the “clean up” operation so that when power was restored at 12.30pm I was able to lead in a team of engineers, alarm experts and IT boffins to restore the full range of exciting services that my place of work usually offers.

By 3.0pm we were back on-line. All systems go. Sorted. Open for business. Hallelujah.

Except at 4.30pm there was yet another reported smell of burning coming from the electricity metre...

Aaaargh! Here we go again. Sigh.

Anyway the current state of play is this: the smell (and this is from the mouths of top-notch high level experts) is merely the new unit “bedding in”. All is kosher. All is well. It’s fine, gov. Have a cup of tea. Praise the Lord. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to worry about at all.

Worry? I’m too effing knackered to worry.

Night-night all.


Old Cheeser said...

Blimey, you are a hero and a half aren't you, helping to save the day like that!! Sounds like something out of a Dr Who episode. Or one of those 1970s disaster movies!! Who would you cast to play yourself? Steve McQueen?

Steve said...

Hmm. Definitely John Cleese. Or Ricky Gervais.

-eve- said...

Sounds like you had a terrible day. Well, at least it's over now...:-D


Did anything escape? As in A Night At The Museum.

TimeWarden said...

"Abridged chatroom romances" - funniest phrase I've heard in a while! It made me laugh out loud, anyway!! Is that a euphemism, perchance?!!

One thing I will say about our American cousins, if nothing else, is they wouldn't put up with the nonchalant attitude exhibited by those electricians! It would've been sorted more efficiently. There's been a building site adjacent to our property for the last fifteen months, Steve, where there was once an orchard, and the same casual behaviour has been similarly prevalent!

Steve said...

Hi Ally, the only thing that was witnessed running off into the night was my sanity (Tyrannosaurus Rex stylee)...!

Steve said...

I can well believe it TimeWarden. I believe even as I write this that my bosses are speaking to the electricity board bosses and passing onto them the full depth of our feelings...

On the bright side, at least the building's inoperation helped reduce carbon emissions for 24 hours!