Saturday, July 30, 2011

A fire brings out the most interesting things in people…


This morning I awoke feeling a bit disoriented;  I had a hot sun on my face (oops, I fell asleep on the couch last night & forgot to close those livingroom drapes) and my tv was blaring some insane infomercial about Oreck vacuum cleaners (oh that’s right, I was watching a marathon of ‘Ghost Adventures’ on the Travel Channel last night & must’ve fallen asleep in the middle of one) and where was that strange BREEP—BREEP—BREEP sound coming from, the tv?

Firetrucks arriving at my apartment building this morning; oh joy!

As I’m fumbling for the remote, there’s a heavy thumping on my front door with a hoarse man’s voice yelling  “EVACUATE THE BUILDING, FIRE!!”   Oh, so that’s what woke me up.  I grab my glasses & open the front door—the hallway is filled with smoke.  I shut the door and look down to see if I’m wearing pants (I am) and grab my cellphone.   “Hello Shawn?  My buildings on fire again & I have to leave!”   “Okay, call me back!”   “Alright!”

My neighbor Rich is in the hall, rubbing his eyes with his fists and looking properly pissed.  “How many times do we have to do this?”    (Y’see, we just had a fire in the building 5 months ago; that time it was in the middle of the night and we had to stand outside in the cold for 2 hours.  It turned out the deaf guy who lived up the hall from us was cooking drugs, which explained his insane laughter earlier that week while bowling in the hall at 2am.  Seriously, with a real bowling ball.)   Anyway, I shrug my shoulders and ask Rich which direction he wants to go, as the smoke is now billowing into the hall.  He says “Oh look, it’s coming from that girl’s place three doors up...” 

Now there’s a perfectly good exit right behind us, but we head in the direction of the smoke instead.  (Her door is standing all the way open, and we want to take a peek inside.)  Oh she has it fixed up really nice in there—well, from what we can see thru the haze.  I begin choking & point at the large window at the end of the hall—“Here come the firetrucks.”   Rich says “Okay, well I think I’m going to hide in my apartment and pretend I’m not home if they come knocking.”   I nod my head.  “Okay Rich, good luck with that.  I think I’ll go out the back way and sit in my car.”   

I head down the back stairwell and into the parking lot behind the building.  There are twenty or so people milling about, both dressed and non, their hair sticking up at awkward angles and looking positively homeless.  I have to suppress a smile at all the wacky ‘dos, then quickly turn around and catch my own reflection in the glass doors.  Aw no, I look like Wildboy!

As I debate on whether I should duck down and sneak back into the building or just stand here with the rest of the sleepwalkers, my ‘Saturn neighbor’ approaches me.  My Saturn neighbor!  We’ve lived across the hall from each other for at least a decade & (aside from one instance, which I even blogged about here) have never spoken to one another.

I’m surprised at how “non-disheveled” she looks compared to the rest of us.  Her hair is pinned up nicely, her t-shirt has no holes in it (unlike the one I’m wearing) and she’s the only one out here wearing real clothes.

“Can you believe this is happening again?” she asks.  I shake my wild hair wilder, no, I can’t.  “Were you here for the last fire?  I don’t remember seeing you the last time.”   I tell her I went out the front entrance the last time to watch all the trucks.   She points at one of the goofier looking tenants standing about five feet from us.  “See that guy?”  I nod.  She lowers her voice.  “Well, the last time we were out here, he peed against the side of the building, right under that first window.  I saw the whole thing...if you know what I mean.”

“That’s so wrong!”  I answer and she nods her head.  I point to the blue recycle bin.  “The designated pee area is right over there.”   She puts her hand over her mouth and laughs.  Omigosh, I look like the Unabomber’s damn protégé and I’m bustin’ a move here!  

.          .          .

As I’m standing there trying to decide what my next line will be, the back door opens and a fireman sticks his head out.  “You folks can come back in now… it was a small electrical fire, contained in one unit.  No harm done.”  We’re the nearest to the door and head back in.  She turns and says “I’ve been here too long, every year I tell myself I’m going to move but I lose the energy to do it.”   I smile and say yeah, me too.  She says “Well, it was nice talking to you...I hope we don’t have to go thru something like this again anytime soon.”  

Well Vanessa... you just never know.   Winking smile



  1. Doug, I feel bad that you support my blog so much and yet I haven't paid yours a visit. This post made me LOL--you have a great way of telling a story and making it humorous. Hope that was the last fire you and your neighbors have to deal with, and glad to hear no one was hurt!

  2. Pam, this is a real honor--thank you so much (and I'm flattered it made you laugh, I was trying to share the details in a funny way)!

    And you don't have to feel bad about not visiting here before--youts is a much bigger blogsite intended for readers & mine is just a goofy 'personal journal'. But it sure made my day to see your wonderful comments here, thanks again! :)


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