We have a small problem

There was a fire at work last night.

I’ve been thinking of all various first lines for this post. But might as well get right down to it.

I have had my share of fires at work in Worcester. We used to put oily fish and chips on newspaper and then sit it by a candle on a table. But this was not a fish and chips fire. This was a ‘the building is on fire’ fire.

I get to work a little before 4pm. Everything is as usual. At 4:30 I smell something funny. Is something burning? Maybe. But I work next to a big kitchen and plenty of times things are burning. Never mind when we’re smoking meat on purpose.

I head into the basement for the pre-shift meeting and family meal. I come back up at 5pm. Something is burning. It smells terrible. The restaurant is open. People start coming in for drinks and dinner. My throat feels scratchy and my eyes are watering.

I serve a neighborhood of people most likely to complain about anything and nobody is saying a word. Maybe I’m crazy. I peer back toward the kitchen. The chef and managers are scrambling around. I’m not crazy.

I start to be able to see the smoke in the restaurant. We have a problem. Nobody is complaining. The fire alarm is not going off. There are flames coming from a wall in the back. I go from guest to guest at the bar,

“I’m sorry, we’re having a problem. We need everybody to leave please.”

“I thought I smelled something.”

Yes, and you can see the billows of smoke now, so lets move it.

Everybody is out on the street. The guests dining on our sidewalk patio seem reluctant to leave. Twelve fire trucks come roaring up and the alarm finally goes off. People on the patio move. There’s one guest standing on the sidewalk still sipping her glass of wine. I wish I had brought a drink with me.

The firefighters swarm all over the building. They rip open the roof with axes and pour water in. I’m surrounded by my co-workers. I start to cry,

“I love this place.”

I can’t believe I’m crying over a bar.

The woman finishes her glass of wine and hands the empty glass to a server. The server declares,

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

For the record, no one got hurt.

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