6/15 -- Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Manhole.
Boom. Just when you thought it was safe to work in DC, just when national crime rates are down and those awful vandalizing Clinton staffers are history, you're faced with a whole new menace that would probably elicit lots of sympathy from people if it didn't sound so goddamned silly:
DC is famous for its Grand Canyonesque potholes. But manholes? Come on. They're so commonplace. You rarely give them a thought as you're walking to work. But I'll never be so nonchalant again. These random manhole explosions are taking place mostly in Georgetown, only a few blocks from my office. In fact, the latest manhole explosion knocked out the computer network for The Big Company on Wednesday afternoon.
You'd better believe I was giving the Evil Exploding Manholes of Doom an extremely wide berth as I headed to work today. Before I even got to the office, I heard the bad news: A co-worker hailed me in Bread and Chocolate, telling me that our network was still down. All thanks to those damned manholes. At work, we learned that The Big Company's main building two blocks away was completely without power. We knew this because several of the unfortunate worker bees who were forced to stand outside in the sweltering heat for hours eventually made their way to our building. I've rarely seen such bedraggled, pitiful-looking folk.
Fortunately, my building still had power (and air conditioning, thank the gods above). But with our main networks down, our Internet connection hosed and our phones dead, we might as well have been sitting there in the dark. Our boss tried to come up with a make-work project to keep us from sitting there playing Minesweeper, and so he could justify not sending us home right away. (Grrr.)
If I haven't mentioned it recently, The Big Company prides itself on Never Shutting Down For Adverse Conditions. They don't close for snow unless we get a few feet and our dogsleds won't work. And I can understand that. We've got subscribers all over the country whose businesses hinge on their timely receipt of Paper Cup Tax Daily, after all. We do Important Things.
But insisting that people sit there when they can't access their network drives or use their phones and just plain can't fucking do anything seems to go beyond "customer commitment" into "refusal to accept reality." Or "total buttheadedness." Take your pick. I know which one I chose by 11:30 as I was hurling papers into my wastebasket and slamming drawers shut, muttering under my breath.
Really, I've got very little room to complain. I've goofed off enough on company time that I definitely owe The Big Company several hours where I have to sit there even though I can't do actual work. It's only fair.
Finally, around quarter to one we were officially dismissed. With the prospect of an entire free afternoon in front of me, my mood lightened considerably. I ended up heading to Pentagon City Mall, where I indulged in fajitas and a Blue Agave margarita at Chevy's. Yum. Suddenly I understood why First Wild Child Jenna Bush risked embarrassing international headlines all for the sake of a margarita. A good one like that is definitely worth the jeers of a thousand web forums.
I have no idea what tomorrow will be like for The Big Company. As of tonight, our local news reported that the same chunk of Georgetown is still blacked out with no apparent end in sight. Merchants working in the snooty, overpriced boutiques lining M Street fumed about the huge losses in revenue. Our dweeby bowtied mayor strolled the scene, looking all serious and acting remarkably unconcerned about the possibility of being taken out by yet another Evil Exploding Manhole of Doom. I'm telling you -- watch a news clip of flames and smoke licking out of one of those things, and you'll be tiptoeing to work the next day. They look like little portholes to Hell.
All my smartassery aside, it's miraculous that nobody's been killed by a manhole explosion yet, considering how crowded Georgetown always is. If someone does end up dying in one of these incidents, I'm going to look at this entry and feel like a big jerk. Just so you know.
(Your Clix could help prevent tragic situations like this one.)