Why is it that fire alarms never go off during the day or when a warm evening is practically begging people outside? Why must it always happen in the dark cold depths of night?
I had barely fallen into sleep — somewhere in between half-awake and skirting the edge of an interesting dream — when the ear-piercing sound ripped open the silence. For the first ten seconds I had no idea what was happening. When the cloud of confusion dissipated I realized that the obnoxious rhythmic screech was our building’s fire alarm.
After several minutes of fumbling with buttons and zippers and making clumsy attempts to gather some necessities (so much for a 30-second emergency plan), we packed up the cat and headed down the stairs out into the night. I was surprised by the sizable collection of bleary-eyed residents huddled by the building entrance. Not a bad turnout for a nasty ousting from bed at an unreasonable hour — and with no visible smoke.
So in varying distances from the door (some even stayed in the lobby) and in varying states of dress, we waited with our dogs and cats and partners in the frosty air, sleepy faces awash in red flashing light.
Forty-five minutes later, back home sitting on the couch in the dark, I was trying to decide if it was worth the effort to try to get back to sleep, knowing that today was probably not going to be the best Monday ever.