It's time for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh and the rest of the talented writers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.
It was 12;30 a.m. Monday morning, and I just finished my nighttime ritual of brushing, flossing, and looking for unsightly facial hairs, before slipping under the covers when a loud piercing sound emanated through the apartment.
No, it wasn't my husband's snoring. It was the fire alarm. I immediately sprang into action, put on my shoes, grabbed my cell phone, keys, a jacket and my husband and proceeded out of our fifth floor apartment.
My husband thought this would be a good time to start tying his gym shoes when he had perfectly fine topsiders to slip into, but I remained calm. After all, I was house manager of my sorority in 1981, so I could handle anything.
Our front door does not lock automatically, so I asked him to lock the door, in case this was some kind of distraction tactic for burglars to lure us out of our apartments.
En route to the stairwell, we noticed that many of the neighbors were huddled across the hallway. We headed down the nearest stairwell, but only a handful of neighbors had the same idea. It was raining, so one of the neighbors held the door open and we waited for the fire department to arrive.
We were waiting and waiting and wondering why it was taking the fire department so long to get there when they were only two blocks away.
A few minutes later, my husband and I cut through the garage to see if the fire department had arrived. While we waiting to hear their report, we saw neighbors stepping off of the elevators. I wanted to make citizen arrests for not following fire safety rules, especially to one of the young tenants who had to take the elevator down from the second floor.
Afterward, the fire department said it was a false alarm and we returned to our apartments.
The next day, my husband learned that the alarm had not gone directly to the fire department, and they only responded because they received 911 calls from the tenants in the building. This was surprising, as it's a brand new building that was completed this year.
My husband notified the building manager and also alerted the leasing agent. The agent suggested sending an email explaining all of the events including that many of the neighbors didn't know how to safely respond in the event of an actual fire. She added that my husband was articulate and since I'm a writer that we should have no trouble crafting a letter.
This happened over a week ago, and there still hasn't been a response from our building. Even a note pasted in the elevator or the entryway addressing safety rules would be helpful.
Often times my husband will proofread my stories before I send them off to the editor, and in this case, he took the lead, and I proofread his letter. He did a fine job conveying the importance of safety for the tenants and how the building has to do their part to make sure the alarm company sends a signal to the fire department.
Sadly, the management company is still blowing smoke.