- A man whom I've worked with for over ten years got very sick and had to be taken to the hospital.
- A woman whom I've worked with for around five years might be forced out of her job because of a jealous spouse's suspicion that she's having an affair with the man she works with. I can absolutely guarantee that there is no affair happening. It breaks my heart to see this poor woman in tears over the situation. She's done nothing but an excellent job and is getting kicked in the teeth for her troubles.
- A long-term employee was discovered to have done something sneaky and illegal, which will definitely require them to be canned. Fortunately this is not my employee. Unfortunately this is the employee of one of my best friends (another manager).
- One of my favourite older guys in the organization (what a sweetie!) handed me his letter of resignation (he's retiring). I will miss him.
- A piece of equipment in my computer server room exploded. No exaggeration.
- A computer virus infected our file server.
These things are on top of all the ongoing drama: peoples' messy divorces going over various bumps in the road; other people's moderately concerning health problems causing worry; squabbles; miscommunications; new people settling in; new computer software settling in; and a quajillion other things that escape me at the moment. *sigh*
Today I worked from home. Often working from home is relaxing. I can make myself a nice, hot lunch from scratch, and I can take some extra-long breaks if there's nothing in my inbox. Today the phone never stopped ringing and the e-mails never stopped flowing. The only advantage to working from home is that I slept in 1.5 hours instead of spending 45 minutes commuting each way.
My work has a high ambient level of drama and disaster. Usually I can roll with that and still maintain my good humour. In fact, anything less and I might get bored. But this week? This week was off the charts. The thing that really threw me was the explosion.
I was standing by someone's desk in conversation when we heard a very loud bang, almost like a gunshot, followed by a second, almost-as-loud bang. I was mildly concerned, but upon looking around I didn't see any immediate disaster. People in the area were muttering "What was that?", to which someone answered "Probably something fell over" and they all went back to work. Then someone who'd been closer to the computer room came rushing in, talking very quickly and almost incoherently, followed by two more people who were both loudly proclaiming "Get Spark! Get Spark! There's been an explosion!"
Since when did I become the resident expert on explosions? Like any sane person, my instinct was to run away. But I am a Leader, and Leaders have to be Responsible, so I put on my game face and marched towards the trouble.
There was definitely a bad, chemical, burning smell in the computer room. Burning... was something on fire? I went around behind the rack of computer equipment to assess the situation. A couple of women were standing in the doorway shouting at me to get away from the computers in case there was another explosion, but I didn't see that I had much choice. I had to determine whether or not I should pull the fire alarm and evacuate the premises.
I didn't see any signs of smoke or flames, so I immediately called my trusty computer consultant to evaluate the problem. Their closest representative would take 40 minutes to get there. I asked if I should shut down all the computer equipment, but everything seemed to be working normally so I was advised to just leave it running. We proceeded as usual, except that every five minutes I ran back to the computer room just in case some smouldering embers had burst into open flames since I last checked. It was a very unnerving interval.
It turns out that two of the batteries inside one of our uninterruptible power supplies had blown up. I guess battery acid corroded the casings and caused a short. The technician said it was due to age. (They were only three years old!) When he pulled the metal housing out of the rack, a full hour after the explosions, it was still so hot that he couldn't touch it with his bare hands. He found some rags in the cleaning closet to use as oven mitts.
Fortunately, although the soldered-on tops of the batteries had blown off, the external casing had contained the force of the blast, and no battery acid had spilled out. It's a freaking miracle, in my opinion, that no one was hurt and no equipment was damaged other than the batteries themselves. One of my employees was standing in the room when the explosions occurred. She just about had herself a heart attack from the first sudden BANG!, but nothing that couldn't be put to rights with a glass of wine (or two, or three) that evening. If you want, search up some images of "battery explosion" and you'll see how destructive such things can be.
I'd like to hold up a big, red STOP sign to keep any more disasters away, at least for a couple of days until I recuperate my emotional equilibrium. There have been too many adventures in Sparkland this week.