The fire alarm blares a single long note and everyone ceases typing, chattering, ruffling papers. For two minutes you can hear the silence and turn your thoughts to those whose last sound was most likely a single shattering, deafening, explosion. I can hear that absolutely everyone, without exception, is observing the silence.
Then the ‘all clear’ sounds and we resume our work: people sigh and make remarks to one another, fingers fly over keyboards, printers chug out paper.
It seems a strange thing to say that I really appreciate being able to hear the silence, and no longer need a gentle tap on the arm to let me know it’s time. I can give up the noises of everyday life for two minutes – along with everyone else.