Typically, I don’t like to blog about anything that is work related for obvious reasons, but something happened at work on Tuesday that I simply cannot ignore.
I’ve been relatively busy the last couple of days due to the three-day holiday weekend, and because I’m covering for my co-worker who is on vacation. So, for most of the day on Tuesday I was focused on catching up and keeping up with the tasks coming my way. As I worked away, emailing and returning phone calls, I was unanticipatedly interrupted by an abrupt, forceful jolt to our building. I should note that it’s not uncommon for the building to make a similar type of sudden jarring movement whenever the air conditioning turns on and off, so at first I contemplated whether or not I should be concerned. Alas, I was convinced that this wasn’t typical movement from our building. No…it seemed to be a more alarming thunderbolt type of blow than I usually experience throughout the day.
Before I continue, let me take this opportunity to explain the building so that we’re all coming from the same perspective. The building was constructed about 11 years ago and includes 3 stories with a 2 story garage beneath it. Our insurance agency takes up the entire 3rd floor and a small space on the 1st floor. The building was built into the side of a hill, so once you turn off the main road, you have to drive up the side of the hill, around the back of the building, then turn to go down a steep decline to drive around the front of the building, past a few visitor parking spots, then around the opposite side of the structure, down into the garage. The building was originally designed to house a small bank, so once you turn in, there is a ‘drive-through’ type of area that you pass. My office is directly above where the bank customers were expected to drive through. The building overlooks the entire main harbor of St. Thomas and all of Charlotte Amalie, and appears to be a beautiful, yellow, red-roofed, relatively new, Caribbean property.
Now that you have a sense for where I work, I will continue with my story. So, after this unexpected thud I was alarmed enough to investigate the situation. I walked out of my office and noticed that I wasn’t the only one that seemed to be concerned. Some people agreed that it was simply the air conditioner, others were convinced that something actually hit our building. Determined to get to the bottom of this, we all walked around, looking out the windows to see if we could find the source of the problem. Shortly thereafter, someone declared that, in fact, a pick-up truck, without anyone inside of it, had rolled backwards down the hill and into our building.
Shocked, I immediately went to the window where I could witness this drama. As I looked out the window and down toward the back of the building, indeed there was a pick-up truck with its back fender lodged into the side of our building. A small crowd of people were gathering to assess the damage and more and more of my co-workers crowded around the same window that I was peering out.
Of course, this incident sparked much conversation about the building. My fellow co-workers reminisced about the time when someone blew a tire in the bottom floor of the garage, and that, too, shook the building. Another co-worker declared that the after the FDIC inspected our building, they rejected it as a site for that aforementioned bank due to safety issues. To this day there is no bank in our building. I mentioned to my office neighbor that should we experience an earthquake, I had already planned on immediately moving from my office to the main part of the building, rather than staying in the extension of the building over the FDIC rejected ‘bank drive through’ where we work. Of course, this type of chitter chatter continued throughout the day and proved to take precedent over the work accumulating on my desk.
Still slightly disturbed by the prior days incident, I couldn’t help but to further devote some time to this subject with the office manager the next day, since she also manages the building. She explained that the driver of the truck did not feel comfortable pulling into our visitor parking area because it was too tight and steep. Therefore, he decided to park the truck on the road that goes up the side of the hill and walk down to our building so that he could come to our office to renew his auto-insurance. After taking care of his timely business with us, he walked back to his truck only to find it stuck in the side of our building. I guess the impact of his car hitting a 3 story office building didn't seem to explain the broken glass that was all over his car because he claimed that the broken glass was due to someone that had broken into his car and presumably caused this disaster. Granted, this is a man that had left his keys inside his truck with the windows open and the vehicle, stuffed with a load of crap, unlocked. It was clear to me that an individual so quick to blame another person for this fiasco, probably wasn’t prudent in parking his car to begin with. My only question is, how could someone so careless not have simply tried to squeeze his pick-up truck into our impossible visitor parking area to begin with?
Anyway, the more likely scenario is that he either parked on the hill but didn’t put his car in gear, or his brakes went out. My guess is that his brakes went out, since he probably would have noticed right away if his car wasn’t in gear. Either way, this doesn’t seem to be a mystery that is too hard to solve. After the truck was towed out of our building and on solid ground, did the brakes work or not?
Regardless, the cops were called and insurance claims were filed, and a few days later it was a distant memory. However, I can’t help but think about how this would have been handled in the States. With all the terrorism scares up there, they’d probably call the FBI, a bomb squad, the cops, the fire department and evacuate the building. Down here, these types of things grab people’s attention, but they certainly don’t wreak havoc on the day. Once people see the show, they tend to accept it for what it is and move on. Almost as if to say, ‘oh, yeah, of course that crazy guy’s car rammed into our building’…they don’t seem to question it any further. There’s no talk of putting up ‘No Parking’ signs where this person parked, or fencing around the area that the car hit, which is right next to the building's airconditioning units, to prevent this from happening again. It’s simply accepted and that’s that.
So for any of you that are wondering what my work-life is like down here, there you have it…a typical day at work in the Caribbean. I’d blog about the cat-fight that happened today in our parking lot, but that pales in comparison to a truck hitting our building. Don’t you think?