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Compartment 14B

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Out early and the livin' is easy.

2003-11-26 - 2:57 p.m.

So last Thursday I got out of work early. It turns out that the weekly annoying test of the emergency broadcast system had produced... silence. And silence may seem golden when compared to the squawking of the system testing the whole building, and then testing it in French, then testing the specific floor you’re on, and then testing it in French but in fact the powers that be consider it not so much golden as ominous.

I was sitting in my cube, faithfully pecking away at my keyboard in pursuit of doing actual work, when my manager walks up and says the building is being evacuated and we all have to leave immediately, no don’t finish what you’re doing, don’t take the time to log out of your system even, and grab your coat and stuff because we don’t know when we’ll be let back in and at 3:30 we might as well all go home.


It was like getting a snow day without it snowing. It was like the time I got chicken pox and had stopped itching but still wasn’t allowed back in my tyrannical second grade teacher’s class yet. (And make no mistake, I lived in dread of that woman. She scared the crap out of me.) In other words, all the fun and freedom of an unexpected bit of time off but without anything actually bad happening to cause it. No sickness, no disaster; just a law saying that without a functioning way to communicate trouble in an office building, no one is allowed to be in it.

I resolved to put my unexpected time-windfall to good use by buying and writing Christmas cards and this I did, but on the way to the mall up the street I stopped into the public library to treat myself to a book or two. Hey, it was possible that the sound system might not be working the next day and gosh darn it, I’d have to stay home. I’d better be prepared with some reading material to curl up with, just in case.

I scanned the shelves of new books for some crack for my mind (preferably female-written – and no, I don’t know why I tend to prefer women authors, I just do – murder mysteries or other entertaining fiction) and there, as if a shaft of light was pointing it out with the accompaniment of a chorus of “Aaaaah,” was Pamie’s book Why Girls are Weird. I could hardly contain a cackle of glee as I seized it. I had read of its existence on other sites but it hadn’t occurred to me that I’d see it on a public library shelf up here in Canada. I’ve never read a lot of Pamie’s site Squishy, but I have read some of her recaps on Television Without Pity and liked them, plus I’d heard a bit of the stir about the book so I was curious to read it for myself.

Alas, the system was fixed the next day but I did read it over the weekend and enjoyed it very much. Interestingly, I preferred the actual meat of the book over the occasional excerpts from the journal of her heroine, Anna, or emails between her and her readers.

Oh and my mother was aghast at how early I sent out my Christmas cards but I’d never really sent cards before – I don’t believe in giving cards to people I see to wish Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas to in person – and it seemed to me that if Christmas carols are pealing from every store, every ad is flogging Christmas merchandise and Remembrance Day is decently in the past, why should I wait? And hey, free afternoon to get it done!

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