One Awkward Fire Alarm

For today’s reading pleash, which is how you say ‘reading pleasure’ when you feel the need to unnecessarily and obnoxiously abbreviate random words, even though that craze probably went out like ten years ago, I’m going to dip back into the archives and share a tale from the days of yore. More specifically 2009. Or maybe 2010. Not great a record keeping but it’s not important when it happened. It’s just important that it did.

Wow, deep thoughts. Regular Deepak Chopra right here.

So this story, which involves firefighters, popped into my mind recently after chatting with a friend who had an amazing tale about how her husband sett their grill on fire and caused an (understandable) uproar in their building and the fire department was called and now they have the charred remains of their former grill still sitting on the deck, because they don’t want to be spotted carrying it to the dumpsters and have neighbors realize it was THEM who caused the commotion. Classic. She’s also the same friend who locked herself in the bathroom of our college apartment for several hours. Girl gets ALL the best stories!

So I will hijack it and tell one of my own. A few years ago I was living in this semi-gross, third-floor walk up in Hell’s Kitchen with two of my girlfriends. It was bizarrely laid out with a huge kitchen on one end and random rooms blocked off inside - including one tiny bedroom in the middle of the apartment with no windows to the outside world. It was pretty weird but affordable and in a cool location and had lots of exposed brick so it worked for us. The stairs were so narrow and steep I used to joke (hilariously) that I wasn’t at all worried about being robbed or raped or murdered. By the time a criminal hauled himself all the way up the stairs, he’d have no energy left for violence. Dark humor?

One summer night we were all sleeping peacefully when the fire alarm started making a strange beeping noise. It wasn’t a full on beepbeepbeepbeep indicating a fire, or the four beep repeating noise that the manual said would alert to carbon monoxide poisoning but a random yet steady pattern of noise. Beep....pause....pause....pause...beep! And so forth. I was not awakened by the noise, but rather by the sound of my roommates knocking on my door, yelling for me to get up. This would mark the second time in a few short months that I slept through impending disaster. Earlier that year, the toilet in the apartment above us cracked (our ever sensitive super informed us it was all the fault of the fat girl living up there, real nice), and caused our entire bathroom ceiling to collapse. I slept through the entire thing. Granted, my bedroom was the furthest from the bathroom, but apparently for several hours that night my roommates were running around yelling, making phone calls, letting maintenance men in to inspect and just causing a real riot and I slept through the entire thing.


And now, on the night of the alarm, I have to be pulled out of bed. I usually have trouble falling asleep and never thought I was a heavy sleeper, but it seems that when I’m out, I’m out. This does not bode well for my safety or that of my future children. Probably someone will break into my home and kidnap my children and I’ll sleep through it but NO ONE will believe me, because why would you, and I’ll end up in some sort of horrible Madeleine McCann situation or like that sad Baby Lisa whose mom was drunk on Wal Mart wine on her porch and everyone will think I am a murderer when actually I’m just an innocent lady who sleeps too much. Oh, that will be horrible. On the plus side, it’s a pretty sure bet for a Lifetime Movie, so I guess I have that to look forward to? that we’ve taken that detour into Insane Anxiety Town, where I am the mayor and Grand Poobah, let’s just get quickly back on track here. Where were we? Yes. At the very beginning of the story because I am a master storyteller who always sticks to the point.

I’m awakened by my panicked roommates, knocking on the door, worrying over the alarm. One thinks it means carbon monoxide, the other thinks it could mean general poison and me? I just want to go back to bed. For all of my usual unfounded paranoia, when faced with actual life or death situations I remain almost freakishly calm. My roommates were convinced we were going to be poisoned to death. “Let’s just all go back to sleep and see who’s alive in the morning,” was my helpful reply.

I still think it’s a pretty good strategy.

They (rightfully) ignored me and we decided that it was probably nothing, but we ought to call 9-1-1 just to get someone on the line for a quick lil chat, ask them if they could advise on what the beeps meant, and then tuck back into bed. Wa-helll, apparently when you call the fire department and say you have a mysterious beeping, it is their duty to not just sit there and gab with you about fire alarm noises, but to RUSH over and investigate.

“We’re sending someone over!” they said. “Right away.”

“Oh geez,” we replied. “Um, it might not actually be an emergency? I mean, it might be? But tell them to take their time. Please don’t have them use their sirens.”

Five minutes later, what do we hear? Sirens. Followed by the banging footsteps of four large men in full like, Iron Man style protective gear storming up our tiny staircase.. They burst into the apartment, armed with fire extinguishers and axes, and found the three of us clustered underneath the beeping fire alarm, just staring at it, like a bunch of lost goats or something. Also, now is as good a time as any to drop in the detail that it was mid-July and hot as Hades AND we didn’t have air conditioning, so we were wearing as little clothing as humanly possible.

Sweaty firemen, scantily clad damsels in distress and the sultry heat of New York City? Sounds like the start of an award-winning pornographic film, no?

Actually NO. The firefighters seemed not so much aroused as extremely annoyed that they just sprinted up our steep, terrifying staircase for, well, nothing. Because I bet you can guess how this story ends, can’t you?

It’s pretty simple. The beeping? Not a fire. Not carbon monoxide or dioxide or trioxide or any sort of poison. Just an auditory warning that we needed to change the battery.

I don’t know if there is just one word in the English language to sum up the emotion you feel when you realize that you just summoned a troop of heavily armed firefighters to rush to your home and tell you the battery on your smoke alarm is dead and oh, also, you’re in your UNDERPANTS but I feel like mortified might come close? Horrifically embarrassed? Shamed to the point of no return?

Nope, still not adequately portraying how awkward this moment was. I guessssss it was for the best that we called the authorities, better safe than sorry, plus now we have this great story, but none of this would have happened if everyone had just listened to me, gone back to bed, and hoped for the best come morning.

So basically best of luck to future housemates/children: I hope you’re light sleepers. Otherwise you will probably die tragically, while I’m off somewhere snoring away. My bad.

Aaand to illustrate this post, why not share this AMAZING YouTube video which reminds us "there is nothing sexier than a firefighter that knows how to use his hose."


(haha who made this?! Have any of you ever made a YouTube dedication to something you love and if so what and can I please see it?!)