The other night I was in bed, asleep from what I remember, and I woke up to a strange ringing noise. It didn’t startle me awake, but I gradually roused and wondered what the unfamiliar noise was. I wandered out into the foyer of my apartment and noticed the noise was quite a bit louder. Out of my sleep induced grogginess I realized I knew what the sound was. It was the fire alarm!
I startled and didn’t really know what to do first. I was not really dressed for the outside world, so my first reaction was to put on some appropriate clothes. As I rushed around to grab shorts and a tee-shirt I realised a few things, first I did not hear any of my neighbours vacating their apartments, there was no commotion or chaos. There were no sounds of sirens approaching my building, and most importantly I couldn’t smell smoke or feel any warmth. Also, I figured that any real fire would have set off the smoke alarm within my apartment, and that was still silent.
Suddenly the whole situation seemed far less urgent. I dressed myself and wandered around my flat, looking out windows and through the peephole into the hallway. Still no sign of my neighbours or fire for that matter. I began to relax and thought about getting back into bed and trying to ignore the bell in the hallway. Just as I was crawling back into bed (still fully dressed, just in case) there was a loud pounding at my door and my neighbour Collin’s voice shouting at me to leave because he smelled smoke.
Immediately my calm faded and my heart began to pound. My first thought was my cat. She was hiding from the noise under my bed. I grabbed her by the scruff of her neck, hoping she would later forgive the rough handling in light of the fact that I was trying to save her life, and tossed her into her kitty carrier. I knew that I wanted to grab the stuffed teddy that I have had since I was a baby (don’t judge!) but I also knew that as an almost thirty year old woman I could not leave my house holding a teddy bear, so I grabbed my purse and stuffed him in there along with my iPod and cell phone and ran out of the apartment into the street.
In the street I found a few of my other neighbours. No one seemed very panicked, and no one seemed to be in their pajamas. It was 1:30 in the morning and all of my neighbours looked like they had just gotten back from having drinks at the pub across the street. I wandered over to the other side of the building where there were 2 fire trucks, no lights, no sirens, just a few firemen ushering people back into the building. I guess the good news is that there really was no fire. The bad news is that when I got back into my apartment my nerves were so frazzled from the thought of possibly losing everything that I didn’t get to sleep until after 3 am and I had to work at 9 the next day.
Now, I know that this wasn’t a real fire and the situation might have been different if my apartment was filling with smoke and I could see flames in front of me but still I was happy that in my little ’emergency’ I was able to grab the things that mattered most to me. The only thing that I didn’t grab that I really thought I would have is a prayer-book that was given to me by my mother on my First Communion. It was hers when she was little, given to her by her mother on her first communion. Funny the things we think of and the ones we forget when the pressure is on.