Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Firemen are Studly
On a dreary and unseasonably cold Friday morning in early June, five months after moving in with Kerri and Elvis, I got up at 6:00 am as I always do. Kerri and Elvis were out of town, so I might have made a little more noise than usual, but otherwise it was an unremarkable first fifteen minutes of my day. I took a shower, slipped on my bathrobe, and twisted a towel onto my head. When I walked out of the bathroom I noticed that there were a bunch of firetrucks parked on my street. I wandered over to the living room window and saw some firemen waving their arms. Still being a bit addled by sleepiness and not having had my coffee yet, I simply thought, "How weird that the firemen are waving their arms."
I set about going through my normal morning routine, walking into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. I always set the timer on my coffee machine the night before because I literally can't handle making a pot of coffee without having had any in the morning. I'm that kind of not-a-morning-person -- the kind who needs to have a firmly routed routine because she can't process information in the morning. The kind of not-a-morning-person who doesn't process firetrucks and firemen frantically flailing their arms as odd and something to investigate. So I'm in the kitchen pouring myself a cup of coffee when another fireman catches my eye, points to me, and then points to the door to the building. "Oooooooh. You want me to open the door . . . " Perhaps it was the aroma of the coffee (because at this point I still hadn't actually had any), but it finally dawned on me that maybe the firemen were hanging out in my front of my building because there was something wrong.
I ran down the stairs, still wearing nothing but the world's shortest bathrobe and a towel on my head, thinking, "Shit. The doorbells don't work. I wonder how long they've been trying to get in here?" I opened the door muttering a more polite version of that thought and found approximately twenty firemen, in full regalia (helmets, boots, axes, oxygen tanks, etc.). Apparently there was black smoke billowing from the roof and they were worried about carbon monoxide buildup. I stood on the stairs, still in the world's shortest bathrobe with a towel on my head, as they kicked down the door to the boiler room and streamed down into the basement, battle ready. The few remaining firemen followed me up the stairs (have I mentioned I'm wearing nothing but the world's shortest bathrobe?) asking me questions I couldn't answer and opening windows. "Is anyone else in the building? Who is in charge of the boiler? Do you have a carbon monoxide detector?"
They finally left me alone to call my landlord and let him know what was going on. I also finally got my cup of coffee. They came back a few minutes later and discovered that I did in fact have a carbon monoxide detector, making me feel like even more of an airhead, since at this point I was still wearing the world's shortest bathrobe and a towel on my head, but now I was also carrying a cup of coffee standing in my living room saying, "Really? I didn't know we had one. Well that's good," to about ten firemen in full gear who were trying to keep me from asphyxiating. I couldn't even blame whatever noxious fumes were filling my building for my idiocy, since apparently they hadn't made it to the third floor.
Satisfied that I was not going to die, the firemen left again and I finally got a chance to change into something a little more presentable. Mind you, I still needed to get to work eventually, but everything had happened so fast that it was barely 6:30 at this point. Five minutes later they knocked again to say that while I was fine on the third floor, and the second floor neighbors didn't appear to be home, the basement was completely full of a dangerous level of carbon monoxide. They needed to leave all the doors and windows open for a few hours to clear the building. Great. I was the only person in the building (since Jimmy the Bookie didn't open the bodega until 8:00 or 9:00, what with it not actually being a bodega and all) and I needed to leave for work in twenty minutes and my landlord, very unhelpfully, was not answering my calls. So I left most of the doors and windows open, left a few more messages on my landlord's voicemail, and left the building with the knowledge that, if there ever really were a fire in my building, I would definitely save my coffee machine first.