First of all, everyone is OK and my apartment is intact.
Now aren’t you curious?
Last night, Molly and I were just finishing up dinner when we heard a strange whooping noise from somewhere in the apartment. This was closely followed by a classic science fiction omniscient computer voice (more “Donna Noble has left the library…” than Scarlett Johansson’s Her) calling out “Attention! Attention!”
By this point I was thoroughly bewildered.
The TV wasn’t on, I don’t have a radio, and the sound wasn’t coming from any computer speakers.
“A fire has been reported in the building. Please proceed to the nearest exit.”
The whooping resumed, alternating with Big Sister’s calmly delivered yet dreadful message.
Molly and I exchanged glances. This didn’t seem like a drill.
I blew out the candles and grabbed my phone, my computer, and my childhood teddy bear**. Pausing only to slip on shoes and jackets, Molly and I headed down the back stairwell into the alley.
That’s when it finally started to seem like this could potentially be serious. There was a whiff of smoke in the air, and although the sky was clear, rain was drifting down out of an upstairs window. Sirens pierced the air and the first of three fire trucks pulled up to the curb.
Neighbors and dogs milled about on the cold sidewalk while pairs of firemen sauntered in and out of the building. From their supreme lack of urgency, we gathered that the fire was fortunately not a serious one (I later found out that someone on an upper floor had left a pot unattended on the stove and it had either melted or caught fire). By this point, I was seriously starting to regret not having grabbed a pair of pants to pull on under my skirt.
“Does anyone here live in number —?”
The apartments surrounding (and underneath) the unit where the fire had caught were flooding from the sprinklers, and the firemen were trying to get in to shut them off.
Eventually we moved into the lobby, because by this point it seemed nothing was aflame anymore.
Finally, one of the firemen told us it was safe to go back upstairs. And that was that.
The whole drama fortunately turned out to be a relative non-incident for Joe and I (although it was a very bad night indeed for anyone whose apartment was flooded), but the experience was certainly an eye-opener.
Let’s just say I’ll definitely be taking a closer look at my renter’s insurance policy sometime soon.
*The German Feierabend signifies the end of work, but translates to something like “Party Evening”. Feuer is fire, so a Feuerabend is a “Fire Evening.”
**When I was a child, my biggest fear was my house catching on fire. So, every night as I lay in bed, I would plan escape routes and decide which precious articles I would rescue from the inferno. Polar Bear always topped the list. (To the right you can see us with a hot water bottle, trying to warm up after being let back into the apartment.)