28 Mar 2011

We Know Our Priorities

We were spending this past Saturday doing something super unheard of for us: lazing about like a couple of pigs. I was stretched out on the bed playing Angry Birds solving math equations when our building's fire alarm went off. If you've ever lived in a condo, apartment or dorm, you'll know that a fire alarm doesn't always mean there's an actual emergency going on. Nine times out of ten, someone's burned something in the oven (or if it's a dorm - too much patchouli-dosed incense is wafting in the air). It doesn't help that the alarms in each unit are extremely sensitive - we once set ours off by simply boiling water on the stove. Guess who was making hot dogs?

As usual, one of the building's staffers got on the intercom to deliver a robotic message to state the obvious:

"Attention, attention. The alarm has gone off."

It sounded as though he was talking into the ear piece, so it came out like a mumbled droning with a lot of loud rustling - as if the phone's mouth-piece was being rubbed against his jacket.

Think we jumped up and got out? Hardly. I don't even think I moved my head. As we live on a low floor and apparently believe we're invincible, we tend to stick around the apartment unless we've discovered it really isn't yet another false alarm. Patrick is a little more proactive than I am, so he stuck his head out our door to see if he could tell if anything was happening in the hallway.

"Uh, Jen, I think something is going on," he said.

I finally lifted my double chin from my chest and raised my head. "Huh? Is there an actual fire?"

"I don't know," he said, "but there's water pooling down the hall and people are trying to sweep it away from their doors."


"Is it coming our way?" I selfishly asked.

"I'm not sure, it could," he said.

I got up and wasn't sure what to do. Should I go out and try to help the neighbours? Start putting our own valuables into plastic bags? And then a big, loud voice suddenly told us exactly what to do. It was nothing like the staff member who had been mumbling into the wrong end of the intercom earlier.

"Evacuate the building. There is severe flooding. You must evacuate the building immediately."


"This is the Toronto Fire Services."


On went the jackets, the shoes, the purse. We were out and quickly discovered a rain of water coming down in the stairwell.

"Patrick - maybe we should grab some stuff before we go?"

"Yes, let's be quick."

So we charged back into our apartment and grabbed the "important and necessary things." Think we got clothes? Our wedding photos? A necklace passed down in my family? Nope. Instead, we snatched:
  • Our laptops
  • Our laptop chargers
  • Our phone chargers
  • Our iPod chargers
Oh, eye roll.  Apparently the most important things in life need to be plugged in. To make matters more ridiculous, I didn't feel like we had time or the arm capacity to grab other "important things", so I instead threw garbage bags over our TV and PVR. Again, never mind the family albums or the artwork: I need to protect the PVR and its precious recording of the episode of The Facts of Life where Mrs. Garrett says the word "retarded" five times.

We then locked up and hoped for the best. In the end, we were very lucky. Despite a big ol' pipe explosion, our apartment is fine. Untouched, even. Others in our building aren't so lucky. Sigh - I feel awful for them.

Image Source: ServiceMasterClean


Karen 8:27 pm, March 28, 2011  

Damn you and that link to Facts of Life! I just spent part of my evening watching that episode and a couple others! Phew-glad your home didn't get damaged in the flood.

Anonymous,  12:48 am, March 29, 2011  

I'd grab my laptop too.

Hellcat13 8:37 am, March 29, 2011  

I'd grab my phone & charger, my grandmother's diamond ring, my grandfather's war letters, and the cats. (Oh, and my husband, but I assume he could leave under his own power. Heh.) Nothing else is remotely important. Nice to have, yes. Important? Not so much. Glad all is well, though!

AD,  5:16 pm, April 02, 2011  

A friend linked to your blog the other day and I've been reading everything from it (50s housewife experiment and then archives and then the recent stuff). Your writing reminds me of Erma Bombeck - just without kids, more swearing and in modern times. That's a big compliment in my books. Keep it up!

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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