Sunday, August 08, 2004

Interesting happenings

So, something interesting happened at Allstate this week which I neglected to tell you about.

Audra, one of the ladies who works in the office with us - they are almost all ladies except for a few sheepish-looking shame-faced guys - found an envelope with a stamp on it that due to postal office oversight, had not been marked. We get thousands of pieces of mail (mostly containing bills) in the office every day, so the fact that she managed to pick this one out of the bunch was a real accomplishment. Anyway, Audra took the letter over to her desk so as to open it and get the freebee stamp off (saving herself a whopping 37 cents the next time she mailed a letter!). Riiiiip went her letter opener - and poooof went massive amounts of a suspicious white powdery substance!

So everyone who was in the office at the time of Audra's accident - which included the hapless temps, me and Betsy - got to be quarantined in the loading dock at the back of the building. It was an ominous- looking cement room. It had a bathroom, but the door was locked, so when the gals decided they had to go, we were in a tough spot. The "quarantine" seemed pretty ridiculous, as other people, like the management and the janitorial staff, kept coming in and out.

The quarantine lasted an hour and then they took us to the cafeteria for a free breakfast. The reasons for this were vague, but, it's free food! Of course I'm definitely not a "breakfast food" person but I nevertheless managed to wolf down a whole bunch of food. You knew I had it in me. The lady in charge of the free breakfast herd told said herd that the HAZ-MAT people, the Hudson police, the Hudson Fire Department, and the Health Department had been called. I cherished a hope of seeing one of those interesting HAZ-MAT space suits, but, alas. By this time we had deduced that they must not suspect anthrax, since we were allowed in the cafeteria with the norms (which is what, with an amazing flair for the melodramatic, we were calling the non-contaminated people in the building).

After the thoroughly sick-making (but remember, gratis) breakfast we were taken to a different section of the building where we sat. Yes, it was most productive. They found work for some people to do, but since temps are trained for specific tasks, we ... sat. A couple hours later, it was announced that the room we worked in had been washed with bleach, and it was safe to return. Back we went! The only remaining problems were 1) The lingering bleach smell which did not bother me but annoyed others, and 2) The massive workload now hanging over our heads, since bill mail had continued to pile up while we were busy ... sitting. This made some people nasty. However, Betsy and I finish up the 8-hour day at 1:15. and by the time we went back in the office, it was almost noon.

The latest word from the powers-that-be is that it was fire extinguisher debris. Someone put out a fire in a mailbox with a fire extinguisher and some of the powdery foam worked its way into the envelope. It happened last year, too. All I can say is, Hooray for the half day of doing nothing ... whoo hooo...

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