It's 10:00 AM. I'm still sleepy and am preparing my second cup of coffee for the morning. (Don't judge me for sleeping late, I'm on vacation.) Then it happens. A very loud beeping sound is coming from the lobby of our apartment complex. In my groggy mind I think it's the obnoxious beep beep of a forklift from Home Depot about to crash through my front door. Or perhaps it's a dump truck backing up... into my ear canal. It's so ridiculously loud that I am reminded of seeing Van Halen in 1982, a concert from which my ears are still ringing.
Then I realized it was the fire alarm. Two months ago I moved my family to a loft apartment downtown, but this was the first time the alarms have gone off since we've been here. Back at our old house, the smoke detector went off every time we used the oven. When it did, Jonathan would always say "Mama's cooking again!" and then David would press the quiet button standing flat footed but reaching the ceiling.
[This is what I imagined: S'mores gone wild.]
We went out into the lobby but didn't see any smoke so we debated whether or not we should actually evacuate. Then we started hearing the fire engines coming down the street, so I grabbed my camera and my coffee cup while Martha got the dogs on leashes. We left the cat with a fire extinguisher and told her to take care of the place.
We spilled outside with our neighbors as no less than four fire trucks pulled up around our building! Tough-looking firemen started coming in with helmets and oxygen tanks. I tried to tell them it was just a Home Depot forklift but they kept avoiding my eye contact.
[He said "Sir, we're grateful. Your cat seems to have extinguished the flames."]
[There was a fourth fire truck you can't see in this picture. Kinda like the smoke.]
[False Alarm, but it was a Kodak moment.]
I am reminded by all of this of an amusing memory. It was fifteen years ago when we first moved into our old house.
Cue blurry images and harp music as we go back in time to 1999.
Martha and David went away for the weekend because I was going to work on the hardwood floors and the fumes from the polyurethane coating were very strong. It was important that I finish because of the impending Y2K disaster. Friday night I preheated the oven to cook a big batch of shepherd's pie to last me all weekend. But I had forgotten that I (temporarily) stored the Tupperware in the oven.
I know, I know, don't ridicule me. Of course, you know what happened, the Tupperware melted and dripped down on the heating element. Then it caught on fire. Then I tried to put it out with a damp rag, but it didn't work. I tried my fire extinguisher too, but it was too old and didn't work either. I did remember to turn the oven off, gratefully. I called 911 and within a minute or so the city manager/police chief/fire marshal, Yost Zakhary, came around the corner in an SUV. He's dressed in khakis and a button down and has a walkie talkie in his hand. He grabs the milk jug from my kitchen counter and fills it with water from the sink. Then he opens the oven and dumps it all over the fire. With one billow of milky smoke and burned plastic, the problem was solved.
He mumbled some coded message in the walkie talkie, presumably to call off the mother ship, and turned and walked out the front door. I don't think he ever said a word to me. It was then I noticed a policeman standing in my living room. He stayed around and told me how I could clean the melted plastic out of the oven. No kidding.
I guess I have a way with emergency responders. It's a gift, really.