Fire Alarm

Walking down 36 flights of stairs makes your legs wobbly.

I was in my apartment working on defining key terms for my concept paper (SNORE). I just ate some American flavored Lay’s Potato Chips and wondering how many more terms I am going to define before I watch a movie or order pizza. The fire alarm starts going off. I determine it is not coming from inside my apartment. What to do? I start think about “stop, drop, and roll”.

I feel the door, it is not hot, I open the door and smell the hallway for smoke and to see what the neighbors are doing. No smoke and no neighbors just the alarm which is LOUD. I put on shoes, a coat, grab my wallet (may need money for food or a place to stay went through my mind) and cell phone and Blackberry. I know not to use the elevator and take the stairs for the 36 flights down. The stairs are annoying for there is this lip on them that stands up and my large foreigner feet do not fit on the stairs making it very uncomfortable, unsafe, and difficult to get down quickly. On my way down I am thinking if this is a drill, due to the recent fire in Shanghai and if so, why did they not tell us? Maybe it was like at school where they don’t tell you and just scare you. I hear fire truck sirens in the distance, oh crap if they are coming to the building, it may be a real fire! I was recalling my one Chinese lesson and how I say my apartment number if they are at the bottom of the stairs taking attendance. I was practicing my hand signals for numbers as well as a back up. Strangely, I do not run into anyone else on the stairs. When I hit the lobby,  I understand why, because they are all in the elevator coming down! Really? Come on people! At the font door the security guard is calm and speaking Chinese. There are no other foreigners there. Whatever he is saying the other tenants don’t seem too concerned but they are also not going back into the building. It is not a good feeling having no idea what is going on and unable to understand what is being said.  I call my apartment agent. I put him on the phone with the security guard, they talk, I am given back my phone and I am told that it is “ok”. What does that mean? Well, at least it sounded like there is not a fire. The alarm finally stops going off and the security guard waves us to come back inside. I didn’t get to practice my words or hand signals for no one took attendance.

Good things out of this experience:

  • I know what the alarm in the building sounds like and that it works
  • I have been down the stairwell from my floor to the bottom (practice evacuation route)
  • I know my apartment number and its corresponding hand signals in Chinese
  • I probably burned off the potato chips I consumed just prior taking the stairs

What excitement for a Saturday afternoon. My legs are still wobbly .


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Denise Jean
    Dec 04, 2010 @ 07:07:29

    Sounds frightening. I’m glad you had your sense of humor after it was over!


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