Vulcan’s Peak

Night adventures

January 28, 2007 9:34 pm

Yesterday morning I was awoken at 8:30 by the mailman ringing the door buzzer. That would have been okay, except that the fire alarm had gone off at 3:30.

For a moment, my brain hardly registered that it was in fact the alarm. It wasn’t the one in the apartment, but the one in the lobby-and-stairwell part of the building, which the construction workers manage to set off all the time. The effect was like hearing someone else’s car alarm go off–hardly worth paying attention to. Of course, then it did kick in that it was still the fire alarm and the workers had long since gone home.

Better to join the rest of the residents outside, I figured. I was already wearing socks and a sweatshirt over my pajamas, so I put on boots, hat, and coat, grabbed my keys, and went outside.

Though my nose was sure it could smell smoke, it has never been my most reliable organ. I glanced at the alarm system’s control box on my way outside: it read “Fire alarm: 2nd floor lobby.” Of course, I had just come down the stairs past the second floor lobby and hadn’t seen any sign of smoke and flames. I began to feel confident that it was a false alarm. I felt even more sure when I went across the street, where I could see in the large lobby windows on each floor.

I was less comfortable about the fact that I was the only one outside. Far fewer lights were on than I would have guessed, though I could see a man looking out the window of 2A, which is right next to that second floor lobby. (I keep saying lobby–for note, I really just mean “small interior space where the elevator and the stairwell are.”)

Last Friday was very cold here–around 4 degrees most of the day–so it wasn’t long before my legs were freezing in my thin pajama pants and I was starting to wonder if I should call someone–even though I know that the alarm automatically calls the fire department. The world seems less reliable at 3:30 in the morning.

What I wanted was a reassurance that everything was okay and a hero to turn off the damn alarm, in that order. But I am sure enough that I’m in no danger to disregard everything I was ever told in school about what to do if there might be a fire. I go back into the building.

Back in my apartment, I pulled over my pajama pants the jeans I had conveniently (if uncharacteristically) left on the floor. I picked up my cell phone (and, had this been a real emergency, should have grabbed my wallet, but I wasn’t thinking that fast) and went back outside, this time going down the fire escape stairs at the back. I was just coming back around to the front of the building when two fire trucks pulled up.

Though they said nothing to me at first, after trying the door, a fireman came and asked if I had a key to the building. I handed over my key ring, glad to help, though a nasty voice in my head was thinking shoot, now I’m locked out. I watched from across the street again as they checked the alarm system, checked the lobbies, talked to the man from 2A. When I heard the alarm go off, I wandered back inside, collecting my keys from the firefighters as we mumbled our thanks to each other. They were only here for a few minutes.

Peace of mind and peace of ear mostly restored, I went back to the apartment and made tea in an effort to relax a little–one of the green teas that Liz gave me before I left. Peach green tea, which was quite nice. So by probably 4:15 I was back asleep. At least I was until the door buzzer at 8:30.

(This may require slight explanation. The front door of my apartment building is always open and there’s a small lobby where the mailboxes are, then there’s a second door that’s kept locked. So if someone comes to see you, he rings the buzzer for your apartment: there’s a little intercom system to let you ask who’s there and then another button on the apartment-end can buzz the door open. Yes, there’s a buzz.)

Oh, the package that the mailman brought? It was a textbook.

4 Responses to “Night adventures”

Carmen wrote a comment on January 28, 2007

I had to laugh that you took the time to put on boots, hat, and coat before evacuating after being woken up. XD Just a fun image.

Odette wrote a comment on January 28, 2007

Did I mention the part where it was about 3 degrees that night? I had been out with friends the evening before and I knew exactly how cold it was! Silly Florida girl.

(I also woke up mostly convinced that nothing was wrong. So it wasn’t exactly “the room is filling up with smoke and you must escape with your life!”)

But I’m glad to amuse you anyway. 🙂

Carmen wrote a comment on January 29, 2007

3 degrees? Just 3? Not something like ..63, or 83? It can hardly be imagined! I thought temperatures like that were just stories that parents would tell unruly children to frighten them into good behavior.

Odette wrote a comment on January 29, 2007

*laughs* Love ya, Carmen. And though it pains me to burst your bubble, I do mean 03.0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Care to comment?