Once again, we can thank Twitter:
Here’s what happened:
Back in the late fall of 2001, after the attacks on New York City and Washington DC, came the anthrax. I worked at The Edmonton Journal at the time. One day, I came home to find my electric bill in my mailbox, and this written on the back in thick, black, greasepen:
Now. I’m working at a newspaper. Canadian soldiers were walking around in fatigues and driving around in tanks. In Edmonton. I decided to be cautious and brought the (unopened) bill to the electric company’s main office downtown and asked a customer service representative about it. His advice: it was probably nothing, but don’t open it anyway.
This was just down the block from work. So, I brought the envelope to show my boss. This is where the teasing began.
“OH, so you decided to bring it to work and share it with us?”
No. Not serious at all. Which is why one of the paper’s photographers later took a photo of the (still unopened) envelope lying on my desk while the firemen walked in.
Because: after my boss had a look at the envelope, another co-worker suggested I call 311 (the city’s helpline), and just ask about it. So I did. And got transferred to 911. And was told there would be a big bunch of people there in just a moment.
FREEZE ON: Me realizing I’ve just accidentally called the fire department.
So a dozen (or so) firemen come in, approach my desk, have a look at the envelope, and bring it into an empty boardroom to open. EVERYONE in the newsroom has gathered round, staring into the glassed-off room, partly because they’re newshounds, partly because they want to know what the HELL is happening?!
Finally, the firemen came out…envelope safely opened, nothing but my innocuous statement inside. And then the jokes started:
“You’re turning as red as your hair!”
“The good news is they owe YOU money!”
Telling my friends about this afterward:
“Your life is so much more interesting than ours.”
“So? Were any of them single?”
My friend Jessie gave a copy of the book The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want to each of her bridesmaids. It contains advice on how to meet firemen. It’s funny how closely I unintentionally followed it.