presence of mind

The most important thing to keep during an emergency is presence of mind, they tell you.

We were wrapping up a day’s work at the office today when the fire alarm went off. The shrill ringing sent everyone scurrying to the exits. Several of us men went to check whether there was an actual fire.

It turned out to be a false alarm.

I thought of our bookstore customers on the second floor and decided to go on the PA system to assure them there was nothing to worry about. After a co-worker had turned the PA system on, I spoke on the mic with nary a thought, adrenaline level still elevated…

“Good afternoon to our bookstore customers, we would like to apologize for the false alarm… of our fire… alarm.”

What?! Off mic. Laughter erupted around me! Fiery laughter, more shrill than the fire alarm.

And so, today I learn that the most important thing to keep when you disclaim an emergency is also presence of mind. And that laughter is always the best way to end a long work day. Even if it’s at your expense 🙂