This is not a (fire) drill

Admit it. We all liked the once a month? twice a year? fire drill at school. It meant a disruption to the monotonous class routine where we got to stand outside on the playground and discreetly chat with our friends even though we were supposed to be quiet. And since it was just a drill, we knew that once we reentered the building, the day would go on as normal.

But, what happens when the power goes out on deadline day at the newspaper office? YOU FREAK OUT. Or, stay calm while inside freaking out (as I did today.) This was not a drill.

We had a lot of our pages printed and were proof reading them when suddenly the power in the entire building decided to shut off. We blamed it on the YMCA construction across the street. The lights were out and there was only a glimmer of light reflecting from a few computer screens (which were on a  temporary backup battery.) Immediately my editor is handing one reporter a USB stick to backup files while he tells our page designer to burn the already laid-out pages onto a CD. We’re supposed to go to press in about four hours.

Our next plan of action is to caravan to one of our company’s other weekly papers’ office in the next town about 17 minutes away to use their computers. Just as we were nearly there, we received a call saying our office’s power was back on. Oh, the press gods were with us tonight!

As we returned back to the office, we laughed about how we thought everything was running smoothly prior to the power outage. Even though this wasn’t a school fire drill, the evening progressed as any typical Wednesday. We got the paper to press on time even — ok, it was like 15 minutes late…

In a fire, we are told to “stop, drop and roll” and in an earthquake to “stop, drop and hold.” What happens when the power goes out on deadline day? Nothing much out of the ordinary besides one lost work-hour and a pizza party.


One thought on “This is not a (fire) drill

  1. Oh my. That sounds like it must have been scary. I know how it feels to work on a paper and the computer just freeze and you forgot to save it. Yikes! but I’m glad everything worked out in the end. The story made me smile a bit.

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