Awkward moment today when I was unknowingly elected Fire Warden for the Yellow Area on our floor. You see apart from the requisite training and fulfilling my duties of evacuating everyone in the Yellow Area in the event of a fire, a critical part of the role involves having your photo and name immortalised on a poster with all the other Fire Wardens, which is stuck up all around the office. As you would have gathered I am new to this, and being the now slightly more carefree analyst that I am, I had failed to notice that every other Fire Warden had opted for a casual photo taken at their desk. Some had even been smiling whilst they were still on the phone as the photo was taken which clearly says ‘I will keep working for you until you are safe. You can trust me. If I’m in charge of your area, you need not worry in the event of a fire. Look I even have a phone and a friendly smile.’
Unfortunately I didn’t get the memo about having a casual photo. I stupidly (and rather lazily) opted to send in my professional corporate photo from my investment banking days. So now whilst others had opted for friendly, smiling photos, looking straight at the camera with an air of assurance and trust about them, my photo has me looking slightly off camera into the distance, with my hands slightly raised making some unknown hand gesture that the photographer told me to do by pretending that I’m holding a vase because that’s meant to indicate I knew what I was doing but just comes across as awkward because my hands cover half my face, and of course there’s no smile -there’s not even a hint of the fact that if someone did a massively loud fart in a quiet meeting that I’d crack a grin. No personality. No friendliness. The photo gives you nothing.
Now whilst this photo would be fine for say the team page of a presentation, a Linkedin profile, police mug shot when they discover you’re just another banker-turn-psychopath, or be used to paint a Picture-of-Dorian-Gray-esque evil, non-aging portrait of myself, I cannot be sure it instils the greatest confidence in my Fire Warden abilities. In fact I believe it demonstrates quite the opposite. Think about it – I can’t look straight in the camera, don’t smile and have weird hand gestures which could all be interpreted as being in the event of a fire I cannot be trusted because I am more likely to use these awkward, vase-holding hands to strangle my team then will use their corpses as a human shield to get myself out of the burning building, leaving all of them behind and with clearly no regard for their well-being or safety. Who knows I may even throw in an evil cackle too.
Alternatively I guess one could say that the photo is so professional it’s more of a glamour shot which means that in the event of a fire I am more likely to want to be the star of the show and so will push you all out of the way on our exit to safety to make sure that I am in the front position for all of the TV cameras and print media that I’ve already organised to be at the foot of the building to take photos of me. I may even purposely injure one of you so that I can emerge, with flames behind me, carrying the “injured” person…and there may even be Foo Fighters, “My Hero” and other heroic rock ballads blaring on pre-organised speakers.
But OBVIOUSLY neither of these scenarios are how I would actually approach my duties. I just wish I could change that picture instead of being the vain girl who had a professional photography session for her Fire Warden picture. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the inevitable drawn-on moustache to make me look more like a Fire Warden and less like someone who would spend 500 words talking about a photo of themself.