Sunday, November 7, 2021

Saturday Night and The Secret Life of a Misfit

Saturday night around 10:30, I’m sitting on my sofa watching the final half hour of Dune on HBO Max and my eyelids are feeling a bit heavy, and I’m wondering if it’s worth staying up to watch the 11:00 news. 

My smartphone makes a soft chiming sound then and jerks me fully awake.  I’ve only heard this ring-tone a couple times before, when someone was buzzing me from downstairs.  I grab my phone, and see a text from Amazon.com. 

An Amazon delivery person has left a package on your front stoop.

Gee it seems kind of late to be getting packages, but who am I to complain?  Given the current state of the US Mail system, I should consider myself lucky.  I head downstairs, collect my parcel.  It’s dead quiet in the lobby, no one else is around.  I get back on the elevator, press 4 and as the doors shut and the elevator rises, I hear a loud, weird honking sound.

The elevator stops with a jolt and the doors bang open.  That honking sound is easily twice as loud now, and I’m only on the second floor.  That’s the building’s fire alarm.  When it goes off, the elevator will automatically stop on the nearest floor.  It will remain there until the alarm is turned off.

I step off, look in both directions and hurry over to the stairwell door.  As I begin climbing the metal stairs to the fourth floor, I hear a clanging noise above me.  A young couple from the fifth floor are coming down those steps fast.  They’re dressed in workout attire and look like they just got off their Peloton bikes.  The guy says “You’re headed the wrong way pardner”

I’d like to tell him to get bent, but I just say I’m going back up to get my jacket.

When I open the stairwell door to the 4th floor, I can hear a murmur of voices up the hall and around the corner, where the elevator is.  Should I tell them it’s not coming?  I then hear Jerry (our floor’s long-time resident, he’s lived here 31 years) tell them they have to take the stairs and I make a dash for my apartment door before they come around the corner.  Whew, made it!

Once I get inside, I toss my Amazon box in the chair and lock my door, then proceed to turn out all the lights.  This isn’t my first rodeo!  Soon a fireman or police officer will go door to door, seeing if there’s light or moving shadows underneath the doors and telling people they have to exit the building.  I don’t intend to be one of those people.

I hear sirens, grab my camera and head over to my living room’s picture window.  The first firetruck, ambulance  & police cruiser arrive.  I turn off my flash and take a picture. 

(I should’ve waited, there will soon be a dozen fire & police vehicles out there.)

Minutes later, I hear the THUNK of the stairwell door opening, and a couple of men’s voices in the hall.  I put my ear to the wall behind my sofa—yep, my next door neighbor Lonnie’s TV is on, and he’s on the phone with either his mom or his sister, complaining about the incessant honking inside our building, and the sirens outside.  I jump about 2 feet in the air when a heavy, loud thud lands against my door.  A man says “FIRE ALARM, EVERYONE EVACUATE.”  

One potato, two potato, three potato… I am right on the other side, holding my breath!  I then hear 3 loud knocks on Lonnie’s door.  They know someone’s in there. A man shouts for him to open his door, then tells him in person to go downstairs.  I hear Lonnie mutter okay.

Heh heh!  Very softly I sing “I am the Phantom of the Opera….”

When I heard Lonnie on the phone complaining this happens all the time, I thought he was exaggerating but on second thought… I’ve been here 4 1/2 years, and this is the fourth fire alarm.  I lived in my last apartment building 23 years and fire alarms went off only twice (and for good reason) but that property only had 24 apartments.  This high-rise has 88. 

At least the ones here have been false alarms, for the most part.  Still, the last time this happened I stood outside along with 40 or 50 others at midnight for a good 90 minutes.  It had been cold & drizzling, and I just wasn’t up for the chilly temps, grumblings & small talk from umpteen strangers again. 

I looked out my big front window again, saw dozens of tenants below and more trucks.  I thought if this place lights up I’m going to climb out that window, stand on the ledge and yell “MADE IT, MA!  TOP OF THE WORLD!”  right before everything blows up.  You know, like James Cagney in White Heat. 

Think I’ll take my BP medication and lay down for a couple minutes.

Okay, it’s Sunday morning and all looks right with the world.  I laid down on my bed last night and passed out, apparently everything went back to normal around midnight. 

(I later learned a young woman’s trash had begun to smoke in the third floor’s trash room, she’d thrown away incense or something.  These hippies!)

It occurred to me this morning as I began typing this, I never opened my Amazon box from last night—here’s what I bought, a couple birthday gifts for myself.  One of those microwave egg cookers that David & Gigi Hawaii endorsed on her blog, and a Star Trek coffee table book celebrating the original series 55th anniversary.

I promised myself no more print books after the ‘Great Purge of 2016’ (when I moved and gave away 95% of my books) but this is Star Trek!  For your coffee table!

Now I just have to build the coffee table from IKEA I’ve had under my bed for 4 years.

34 comments:

  1. I don't think I could be so calm and collected under the circumstances. So glad you're okay ... and got a good night's sleep ... and gave us this great story!

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    1. Thank you Tom! In hindsight, not one of my brighter moments, but the first thing I thought when I awoke this morning was "I've got a new blog" :^\

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  2. I don't blame you a bit. Our alarms at school consistently went off during the worst weather. Then we would have to stand outside with thousands of teenagers. Ugh. I couldn't duck it unless it was my planning period. No such luck most of the time. What did you think of "Dune?" As good as advertised? I laughed about the currently non-existent coffee table. Star Trek is always an excellent purchase. :)

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    1. Margaret I didn't think about that, you're probably a pro when it comes to these alarms! As for "Dune", I liked it--very much. BUT IT HAD BETTER BE MORE THAN ONE MOVIE--much too big a story like Lord of the Rings, it needs to be a saga! And thank you, my fellow Trekker :^)

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  3. I'd have probably been standing in the cold till midnight since I'm a fan of "Chicago Fire". Scary about the elevators locking up but glad they do let you out. So glad it was a false alarm. Think you will enjoy the Eggwich. It makes it a perfectly sized, no fuss sandwich egg in one minute. Enjoy Star Trek. The original was the best.

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    1. Thanks Patti and I guess I'm glad I'm not a fan of "Chicago Fire"! Yes I can't wait to use that Eggwich, I just bought some English muffins :^)

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  4. I can't believe you didn't exit during the fire alarm, Dug. I understand your reasoning, but still. I'm one of those that won't stay in a building higher than the 2nd floor... or rooms where the windows don't open. And I've never heard of Eggwich, your microwave egg sandwich cooker. Will check it out... but... it's so easy to cook an egg or toast a piece of bread, not sure I'd find it useful. But do let us know how you like it... and maybe a pic?

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    1. Rian I think I've lived with too many false alarms, they've made me overconfident! Maybe next time I'll do the right thing... and you're right, cooking an egg is pretty simple already but I like gadgets and it was only $6.00, so I thought why not. :^)

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  5. What a story! You did have an exciting Saturday night. I'm glad it wasn't anything worse and you were safe. I hope you have a plan for getting out if one of those situations gets worse! That is a perfect coffee table book for you! Maybe it will give you the incentive to put your table together. I'm glad I'm not the only one that puts things off for that long! That egg cooker is cool. Will we get a demonstration? ; )

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    1. Bonnie, you always make me laugh thank you for your comment! Um, as a matter of fact I DON'T have a plan for getting out, and people are making me realize I should do the right thing the next time I hear that fire alarm. What was I thinking?? And you are right on the money, the more I look at this book (sealed in plastic) the more I want that coffee table--and yes, I will give an eggwich review :^)

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  6. Hi Doug, goodness, this sound very scary! I definitely would not have been as calm as you were. We lived for six months in a 14 story apartment building and that is my extent of apartment living. I do remember the fire drills at school though.
    Your new Star Trek book looks very interesting. I love that you have had an IKEA coffee table kit under your bed for four years!!
    Enjoy your week Doug!
    Robin

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    1. Robin, 14 stories (for an apt building) is pretty high--I'm only on the 4th floor and sometimes I feel a little too removed from the street. :^) Anyway, that is no lie about the LACK coffee table under my bed, I'll take pics before & after I put it together which I'm thinking could be soon. :) You have a good week too!

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  7. Gee Dug, you're certainly hoping the firemen come just for you. Maybe you should put a Command hook by your door, with appropriate clothes and jacket on it, since you may need to really leave because of a fire. Even if the hippies move out, there will be other events: lots of older people cause kitchen fires. Make 2 plans to get out.
    Did you install your own smoke detectors in your rooms? I don't trust ones that an apartment complex installs. My apartment is so old, the wired-in detectors are very soft-sounding: like a loud bumble bee, and it certainly won't wake anyone. I put my own in each room and hallway when I moved in. They let me know when I overcooked something in the oven, but I know they work.
    So, if you need to jump from your 4th floor ledge, your poor swollen legs will really be hurting from additional problems.
    We like your blog. Stay safe and save yourself! Have fun with the coffee table; don't trip around it. Linda in Kansas

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    1. Haha Linda, that was a great read, sort of a "kindly scolding"! FYI, I DO have one wired detector in the livingroom, then battery-powered ones outside the kitchen, bath & in bedroom. I think I've learned a lesson here and no I don't want to use my swollen legs to land on! :^)

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  8. Part 2 from Kansas: Ok, Dug, I don't think you've really turned 60. (Happy Birthday too.) Why? Because your fire alert response is similar to when I was 18. College dorms has scheduled frequent fire alarm rehearsals. Sooooo, if guys were in our girls room past curfew (yeah, way back in 1972,) and the blasted fire alarm went off, the poor guys went to a closet in our room, while we girls went outside on the lawn. Yep, we didn't want to get caught with guys in our room, and prayed that it wasn't a real fire. (I married my guy.)
    Continuing this traditional ritual, my son even shared with me that his girl had the top bunk in her dorm room. The bunk was so high, that when the fire alarm went off, he raised his head up quickly and hit it on the ceiling. But, in 2002, he could just mosey out with everyone else..... (He married his girl.)
    Moral of the story: fire alarms are more dangerous than you think. Cheers, Linda in Kansas

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    1. Linda thanks for sharing that, I loved that look back! (BTW, 1972... what a great year!) Oh fudge, I'm 60 alright--I suppose I better start acting it. :^(

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  9. You have had an Ikea table under your bed for four years? Get out that Allen key Doug and put it together. You can put your feet up on it to watch TV and maybe lessen the swelling in your legs at the same time.

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    1. Thanks River I was thinking the same thing! I am THISCLOSE to doing it by CHristmas! :^)

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  10. When I lived on the top floor of my 18 story building, the fire alarms frequently went off. I suspect most were caused by pranksters. Always late at night. Hardly any tenants would leave. Like you, I stayed put.

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    1. Oh my gosh, someone who sees this from my angle--thanks for sharing Florence!

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  11. Hahaha!!!! Hey, are you for real??? Oh my! You had me absolutely enthralled with your post today. So glad the building didn't burn down and all is well. Glad that my blog led you to the eggwich cooker. It really is something good to use. Makes cooking an egg so incredibly easy. Enjoy!

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    1. Haha thank you Gigi, I always enjoy your feedback! Hey guess what? It's 9:30am here in Pittsburgh and I JUST USED YOUR EGGWICH, I'm eating an Egg McMuffin (with a slice of Baby Swiss instead of American) right now! It worked great & saved me getting out a frying pan, thank you :^)

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  12. This was a very entertaining read! And I would have been right there with you hiding inside my apartment. I loved Dune and watched it a second time. Life is good. Love your writing, Doug!

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    1. DJan thanks very much for your kind comment, you made my day! šŸ‘šŸ™‚

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  13. I remember life in the college dorms with the fire alarms always going off and having to stand outside for hours as people were slowly forced to leave their rooms. Once when it was nice in the summer, I just walked out to my car in a parking lot a mile away and spent the rest of the night sleeping there.

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    1. Ed if I still had my car... This wouldn't have occurred to me!

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  14. Your Fire Story reminds me of last Year at this New Property when a Neighbor was illegally burning Trash at a ridiculous wee Hour so as not to get caught on a No Burn Day. Well, the Smoke hung so heavy and low that a Cop driving by thought our House was on Fire! I'd fallen asleep on the Sofa in front of the TV, it was 3am and the Cop bangs on the Door and then the Window, saying our House was on Fire! I could see thick smoke so I woke everyone up and we're running out with our Cat and all... only to discover it's some Neighbor burning Debris a few Streets away. It was such a Scare, you were Calmer than me, I thought it was for Real and we'd lose everything! We did have a Hot Water Heater catch on fire and that was scary enough even tho' it only Smoked and we located the culprit right away and shut it down... then replaced it. I'm glad all was well and it was just some Hippie burning Incense. *Bwahahaha, this Old Hippie is laughing her Ass off now!*

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    1. Haha "old hippie"! Bohemian thanks for sharing your story, I sure am glad it was a false alarm with your neighbor's smoke--trust me, if I had smelled the barest whiff of smoke on Saturday I would've been outside too!

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  15. LOL. Now you know how to tell a story. Glad your building did not burn down.

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    1. Haha, thank you Debby! (And thanks for your comment, I almost missed it!)

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  16. Glad the alarm proved to be one of no concern. Not so sure if I was on one of the upper floors I would have wanted to take the chance I might not be able to do so later. Worked for you this time.

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    1. Joared, the more I think about it...what was I thinking šŸ¤”!

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  17. I had to read your entire post to Art and he was chuckling, but gee... Doug...
    What if?
    I'm glad you got yourself a birthday gift to enjoy.
    You were getting sleepy watching Dune? Hmmmm... So not so good, hunh? Art is rereading the book on his Kindle right now. I read the book decades ago and all I remember are the sandworms.

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    1. Haha thanks Kay... well, I meant to read the book 30 years ago and never got around to it, so at least you still remembered those sandworms! I thought it was a good movie though, for Part 1 that is--this should've been a limited series :^)

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