It had been a really busy week and it was only Tuesday afternoon. The exhaustion was making the world fuzzy around the edges and my brain was so overstimulated that it wouldn't stop running around in circles. I headed for my Mandatory Rest Period and tried to shut down aforementioned brain. It took a while, but finally I fell into a restful sleep.
And then the fire alarm went off.
I didn't think much of it because it goes off on a regular basis. Sometimes it's cooking odours, sometimes it's kids pulling it, sometimes it seems to be because the wind changed. So I tapped my feet waiting for it to be turned off and tried to comfort a freaked-out Lucy. She started by climbing under my blankets, then moved to lying next to my head, then plastered herself up against my leg and finally moved back under the blanket again.
The phone rang. It was a friend of mine who lives in the building.
Friend: "I don't want you to get upset…"
Me: "what now?" Because it had been the kind of week that warranted that kind of question.
Friend: "there's a fire on the floor above you. It’s down the other end of the hallway, though."
So there I am, lying in bed and unable to get up. I have an anxious cat next to me, the din of the fire alarm is making my ears ring and I'm trying very hard to not to add extra emotion to the situation.
This is the point where I should perhaps mention there's a rule about what to do with people with disabilities in cases of fire. When the alarm goes off, elevators return automatically to the ground floor and will not function normally for the duration of the alarm. The Fire Department will rescue, but not evacuate. This means that people who need assistance stay put in their apartments. There is a box in the lobby with the fire plan which contains a list of apartments where individuals need help. If the fire spreads to the point that it becomes dangerous for such people, firefighters will come to your unit and cart you downstairs.
Back to Tuesday where I lie in bed and consider possible scenarios.
One: the Fire Department contains the fire before it becomes a blaze and gets it under control quickly and efficiently.
Two: the fire spreads and smoke starts moving down to floors below, including mine. I check that I can reach my inhaler.
Three: the fire spreads and I will need rescuing. As I went to bed for my Mandatory Rest Period, I am sporting a significant degree of dishabille and very much not ready for being viewed by strangers (even hopefully hunky firefighters), carted down a flight of stairs or plopped down on the sidewalk in full view of the neighbourhood. I can't get out of bed on my own and I can't get dressed on my own. Should the worst happen, I'm pretty sure the firefighters would not take the time to assist me with getting dressed. Fabulous.
I go back to stroking the cat and twitching, feeling unaccountably toasty.
Blessedly, the fire alarm is turned off after about half an hour and I call my friend. The fire was contained and controlled and all is as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I later find out that this event was attended by seven fire trucks, a couple of police cars that blocked the road and one of the local TV stations. I'm really glad I didn't know that while I was lying in bed, trying to calm down the cat.
Never did fall asleep again.