Just because the building’s on fire you shouldn’t panic.

Yesterday, I was cleaning my office and was about to climb up on my desk to rip a piece of tape off the ceiling when my boss caught me. I had one foot on my rolling chair and was about to hoist myself up when she stepped into the doorway and yelled: “Stop!”

It was rather embarrassing because I am the head of the safety committee. I don’t know whose stupid idea it was to put me in charge of this committee but I couldn’t have been a worse match for it. The other day there was a strong burning smell that seemed to be coming from the ventilation system. I’m not prone to panicking but I was really not feeling safe so I shrieked to my bosses boss  just that: “I’m not feeling safe!” I had my purse on my arm at the time and was about to flee when he turned to me with wide eyes and said something like, “Could you remain calm? I’m trying not to create a panic here.” Too late for me, I was so panicked that I was about to leave everyone to die.

I’m pretty sure that we should have evacuated but I hated being shamed like that. And I’m completely embarrassed that I freaked out. But he was nice enough to come and talk to me the following morning and we made up.

That’s what I like about working in the mental health world, people are forgiving, compassionate and more likely to talk out their differences than to passive-aggressively give the silent treatment. It took a while to get used to. I have a long history of holding grudges and being sullen and angry. But I’ve worked with therapists for more than a decade now and I’ve absorbed enough so that my weekly supervision with each of my staff runs more like therapy session.

It’s kinda cool. It feels like I learned a new skill that was really, really hard. But the next time the building smells like fire I’m pulling the fucking alarm.


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