There's one set of phone calls you never ever want to get from your spouse. The calls that notify you that some major life change has occurred. The calls that let you know that a loved one has passed on. The frantic call that the toilet is broken, and so is the shutoff valve. These are not fun calls to receive at any time, especially when you are at work. The question of work / life balance gets tossed against the wall like a stunt-man in a bar-room brawl scene as your mind races through telling your boss you have to get home now in order to handle whatever just entered your life and hope to God that everything can hold off while you come to grips and heal with the new problem.
So JoDee called with just such a call:
"Honey, the apartment is on fire".
That "What" was the sound of mind careening into the sides of my skull. At once my mind reeled What do you mean, the apartment is on fire? Are you OK? What happened? What's the extent of the damage? What's going on? What caused it?
Fortuantely JoDee managed to hear the building's sprinker system alarm (which is on the ouyside of the building, and barely audible from inside, even with the windows open) and used her extensive training from several years in the dorms to quickly come to the next action: get the fuck out of the apartment. Very few people in our building have mastered this skill, apparently, but it's a very useful skill which more people should cultivate.
So, what happened? Apparently the furnace in the apartment below ours caught fire. The apartment building has sprinklers in the furnace room, so that was triggered by the heat of the fire. The flames shot out of the furnace room into other furnaces that shared the chimney (ours and the apartments below ours). Fortunately, we didn't have the heat on, so the valve to the chinmey was closed. Our apartment was spared. Also, our apartments don't share the same sprinkers as the other ones, so we didn't get flooded out either.
Oh, I'd also like to say that JoDee has a very clear head in emergency situations. And I'd also like to point out that the building fire alarm didn't trigger any alarms for the front office. Fortunately the fire was put out by the sprinkler system because it took the firemen a little while to figure out what exactly happened. That was pretty surprising to me.
Obviously this left us a little shaken that evening, but it did prepare us for what happened later that night. Around 10:30pm, I heard a faint ringing noise. I listened, and realized it was the fire alarm again. JoDee and I got out crap together and got out of the apartments again. This time it was another set of apartments whose sprinkers had gone off. Again, we were fortunate to not be hit by this latest round of sprinklers. I can only imagine how much damage these things could cause to everything in the apartment.
That night JoDee and I wrapped everything we could in plastic and spent most of the night wondering when the sprinklers would fire off in our apartment. We didn't get any sleep at all.