Now some background - my apartment is about 15 feet above the building dumpster. Don't worry - it never smells, it's just really loud around 7 every morning when the garbage men come and yell obscenities at each other. I'm also more than familiar with the sound of people rummaging, throwing away things and glass breaking in said dumpster during the day. Don't cry for me, DC - my apartment is adorable and in a prime location. It's just the hazards of city living. Anywho, I share this because while Katie was showering I heard a commotion. A serious commotion above me. Pounding, breaking glass, etc. I first thought it was nothing, but as the commotion grew into full on earthquake mode (noise sans shaking) I raced out of my closet to the window to shout the oh-so-classy, "HEY - SHUTUP!" I assumed someone was being annoying and banging the dumpsters around. I rushed to the open window and as I screamed, "HEY" I noticed glass. LOTS of glass falling from above. Secondly, my brain took in the fire truck parked outside. I changed my class-act, "SHUTUP" to an, "AH WHATS GOING ON?!". The firemen didn't answer - but the observers across the street calmly and kindly announced, "The apartment above you is on fire. You might want to get out."
This is exactly what we didn't do.
The next 30 to 45 seconds are exactly why I think reality show cameras should follow me around.
Reminder: Katie is in the shower.
I ran to the bathroom, flung the shower curtain open and threw Katie a robe - simultaneously screaming, "There's a FIRE above us!" (Katie in shower looks confused). "NO, REALLY THERES A FIIIIRRREEEEE". Minds out of the gutter people. This was a state of emergency.
I then grabbed my ipad while Katie yelled, "What is expensive?? I have your camera. What else is expensive?" I grabbed shoes, my purse, our keys and my mind went blank. My apartment is in a constant state of disarray and calm school fire drills are no prep for that Oh My God moment where you have to decide what to grab and what to leave behind. Especially when you're a spaz like me.
We ran out and maybe 5 people had evacuated. My neighbors were actually entering their apartment as they told me the one above mine was on fire. We made it ten steps to the lobby and the firemen nicely told us everything was under control and there was no need to leave. I think one was laughing at us.
Katie and I turned around laughing - the adrenaline fueled lunatic type of laugh - but no less, laughing. She got back in the shower and I tried to regain composure. I looked out the window again and the firemen were extinguishing a charred mattress. It turns out the broken glass was because the neighbors threw their flaming mattress out of the window. Seems logical. Weirdly enough I think there was also a burned bra stuck to the mattress. Romance gone awry? Maybe. We'll never know.
Mmmmm - I'll have the mattress, Well Done.
About a half hour later, Katie called her friend Elizabeth because we were still cracking up about the whole thing. Elizabeth's one question was, "Who grabbed Layla?"
The answer is no one. No one grabbed Layla. Neither of us even remembered I have a cat that can not escape a burning building alone.
But don't worry, we got the expensive stuff.
What also comes to mind is that I can't boil water without my in-unit fire alarm going off but the building alarm did not go off at all. The fire trucks didn't even have their sirens on. But there was a giant ladder. For a second floor apartment.
Maybe we over-reacted, but this wasn't a faulty alarm. I think everyone UNDER-reacted because let's be honest - the best thing to do in an impending emergency is to run screaming from the building. The only thing that would make this story more ridiculous, I think, would be if Katie and I had had to decide elevator vs stairs. Luckily, I'm on the first floor. I think my brain would have exploded if I had to decide anything so complex at that moment. As I've mentioned: I'm no one's port in a storm. I certainly wasn't Layla's.
And to think - I always thought I'd be the one to burn the place down passing out with a lit cigarette. Just kidding, Mom. But really.