Death or humiliation?

21:30, Jan 18 2012

There are fortunately blessedly few situations in my life when I've been called upon to make a choice between death and humiliation. Events of yesterday morning lead me to believe that I might have a tendency to choose the first of these two evils. Because when you find yourself weighing up the options as I did - possible fiery death vs being seen by my colleagues in my underwear - and choosing the former, well, it does make you think a bit about what your priorities are, you know?

But of course I'm kidding. I almost certainly wouldn't have burned to death. I would probably have succumbed to asphyxiation long before I became human chargrill. But I'm getting ahead of myself. You need to know how I found myself in this dramatic "devil or the deep blue sea" situation.

I arrived at work yesterday a little before 9am and, as is my habit, I parked up my bike and went to the toilets to change out of my bike gear and freshen up. About 5 minutes later at the exact mid-point between cycle gear and office outfit (ie "barefoot and no clothing more substantial than underwear") a siren started to sound. We've been doing a bit of "emergency procedure" stuff lately as I mentioned the other day so I wasn't too worried. "They'll just be testing the alarm" I thought. It'll go for a second or two and then stop.

But it didn't stop. It kept going. And then a recorded announcement instructed me to "evacuate the building". In my undies.

Okay, it didn't actually mention my undies but in order for me to comply I'd have to do just that. Of course I was 98 per cent sure that it was a drill. But if the last 502 days have taught me anything it's that unexpected stuff can happen. So I made a call. And that call was "I don't care if it means I die a fiery death, I am NOT running out of this building in my gruds".

So I grabbed my dress, wriggled into it and yanked up the zip...which stubborn refused to go up further than my waist. This is a zip that has never been especially tricky or difficult before but all of a sudden when I really need it to co-operate with me it's not playing nice. I yanked a bit more, swore a bit and then tried hopping in the hope that this might encourage it to head in the right direction. As if me doing a one woman River Dance performance would actually help.


It was at this point, in a panic-stricken moment of clarity I realised that if this were a movie it would be a really terrible one and that somehow I had become the female Adam Sandler. Needless to say that on top of the whole semi-clad dress wrestling and whooping fire siren thing, that I was not best pleased by this particular epiphany.

Having struggled long enough for the recorded announcement to tell me a few more times that I should be evacuating I gave up on the zip determining that two thirds of the way up was enough for the sake of decency, shoved my feet into my shoes, grabbed my phone and bolted out the door, down the corridor and out to non-humiliating un-BBQed freedom.

Of course it was just a drill. I never was in any real danger. Mind you, my good friend Tulip was so delighted with the whole thing that she snapped a picture of me in the carpark as I did up my belt and said "that's so going on Twitter". So I'm even happier I didn't exit the building in my unmentionables. Good call, Moata. Good call.

But if you were in that situation what would you do? Head for safety or head for a bathrobe?