As a housebound adult, there are lots of times I enjoy ignoring the front door. I love it when people selling stupid stuff knock and knock and knock, clearing knowing I am home. I love it when the pizza delivery guy comes to the wrong house in the middle of the day and I can’t answer the door to send him to the right place. When you are stuck at home and largely in your bedroom, you have to delight in the little things.
But, being stuck at home all the time has not managed to put a stop to the ridiculous situations I find myself in and, as always, my life abounds with situations that are stupidly hilarious, tragically funny, and generally ridiculous and embarrassing.
A few months ago, our always-faulty fire alarm went off. I called 911 to let them know and the neighbors gathered outside to wait for the all clear, including me. I did stand in my bedroom and debate for a full two minutes before deciding that it wasn’t worth the risk of burning to death on the off chance that this alarm was real.
I got yelled at.
Apparently, if you are disabled, you are supposed to tell 911 so that the firemen can bust down your door and rescue you in true Damsel in Distress style. I’m really, truly, honestly, perfectly ok with that. Especially if I happen to be in the bath.
Naturally, the fire alarm went off today. Post PT workout and fake bike riding, when I had no clean clothes, so I was in a sweaty sports bra and running shorts that are at least two sizes too small. The People of Walmart have never looked so trashy.
I stood in my room and debated the trouble of no clean clothes; should I try to get out of the house, am I going to get yelled at again, and has anyone called 911 yet? So, I put on a pair of dirty, but fitting PJs, figuring it was better to be in clothes that at least fit and fully covered me in the event the building really was on fire and I really did have to be rescued Damsel in Distress style.
I also figured it’s better to call and be a repeat than not and burn to death. 911 was busy.
I’m going to repeat it for full effect: 911, the emergency number you are supposed to call in times of great emergency, the people who send the firemen to come rescue you so that you don’t burn to death in a sweaty sports bra and two-sizes-too-small shorts, was busy. As in, no one was coming to answer the phone. As in, I got a message that said, sorry, 911 is busy.
When I finally did get through, I told them the address, my name, and that I was disabled. They said they couldn’t hear me and asked me if I could walk away from the alarm… Gee, why didn’t I think of that!? As a thirty-something adult who managed to survive this long in a world full of things that want to kill you and who lived through years of fire drills during public school and again at jobs that require it, it NEVER ONCE occurred to me that I should make my best effort to get away from the terrible noise that signals a fire that will burn me alive.
Clearly, I must be lacking all common sense that tells me to run away from fire.
I shouted repeatedly that I am disabled and unable to leave the house. Yes, the alarm is going off. No, I don’t smell smoke. No, I don’t see flames, but let me look across the street from my window at the building not alarming and see if that is actually the one on fire. Oh, no, it’s not. No flames. No, I can’t leave the house. No, I can’t get away from the alarm so you can hear my shouting over the blaring alarm, remember that pesky disability?
She finally got all the info, the trucks came, went to the wrong building in the entirely wrong complex, came to the right building and got out and walked around. No flames. No smoke. A known faulty alarm in a building with a known crazy pants lady who pulls it whenever she has a tummy ache, in spite of her being a healthy and able-bodied person.
Then they stood outside of my unit and squabbled about whether or not they should try to alert me or break down the door simply to say that it’s a false alarm. I sat on my bed, in my dirty, but well-fitting PJs listening and wondering if this happens so regularly to other homebound people, or if it’s just me.
It’s probably just me.