This was back when I was still doing data entry work for a major healthcare provider.The building where I worked at the time had an inadequately sized parking garage that was so painfully short on spaces, I’m pretty sure it violated the Geneva Convention. Anyway, as a result, most of us had gotten into the habit of carpooling to the office.
On the morning in question, it was my turn to drive. It had been a quiet ride there and I was lost in thought as we neared the office, which is why I didn’t notice the SWAT van or the row of black SUVs double-parked out front until the Quality Assurance guy in my passenger seat (I think his name was Daniel?) leaned forward and muttered, “Holy shit…”
Police tape was draped across the entrance to the parking garage and two officers in full riot gear were stationed beside it. I rolled down my window and asked them what had happened. Without even turning to look at me, one of the officers said, “Contact your immediate supervisor.”
“Ohhhkay…” I replied as my early morning, pre-coffee brain struggled to process what was happening.
“I got an email from Jan,” Daniel said as I started to drive off and he nodded down at his phone. “The whole building is closed for emergency renovations.”
“What kind of renovations require a SWAT team?”
Daniel shrugged. “The emergency kind?” he said.
From my backseat, a female voice suddenly shouted, “Are you fucking kidding me?!”
This was Gwen. I had a big crush on Gwen, though who didn’t? She was funny and always knew what movie I was quoting and was so genuinely cool, it was almost as if she didn’t know how smoking hot she was. Gwen also had a fiancé because of-fucking-course she did. He was some kind of lawyer like a tax attorney or something and, I assumed, a giant douche. Mainly because he was engaged to a girl I wanted to be with.
I glanced up at Gwen’s reflection in my rearview mirror and saw that she was on her cell phone. Gwen nodded and said into the phone, “Sure thing.”
She ended the call and Daniel said, “WELL?”
“The building’s cleaning crew found a suspicious package of white powder this morning in the men’s room on the first floor. People from the CDC showed up and did some tests and they said it’s just baking soda, but because the janitor who first called to report it used the word ‘Anthrax,’ protocol requires them to keep the building locked down for a minimum of…24 hours.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I responded, unintentionally echoing Gwen’s own sentiment.