Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Day The School Burned Down

One day, Mom told me she was coming down the stairs, as ready for school as any little girl could be, when her mother told her there would be none that day. “The schoolhouse burned down overnight,” she said.

I’ve never been in that exact situation, so I don’t know how I’d feel about it. I was a pretty ready student (except for Day One, when I told my mother I didn’t want to go, but she was of no mind to listen to me) and liked learning things; still do.

We had fire drills all the time. One of the nuns would ring the big brass handbell and we’d all go out to the playground and line up for attendance. I would always look back to make sure there wasn’t any smoke coming from the place, half-hoping, I guess, that there was. No such luck.

Some years back, I was in a high-rise building that had a fire on a floor somewhere beneath me. The alarms went off and I ambled down the stairs to the affected floor; saw that things were well in hand and ambled, as best you can going up, back to my room. No way was I going to vacate the building when it involved walking down, then up, a lot of flights of stairs.

Once, in Anchorage, I tried the smoke alarm test button as part of my regular safety check (doors, stairways, etc.). It didn’t go off, so I called the desk. They said it worked fine, but I demanded, and got, it fixed.


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