Our family usually has at least one exciting event during our annual music camp outing in New Mexico. One year we drove through a police blockade and shakedown because of a prison break. This year the fire alarms went off at 11:00PM in the student apartments where we are camping. Most of the school faculty and many of the kids and parents are staying in the apartments.
My spouse, who can work nothing electronic, had just turned on a hair driver when the alarm sounded. We thought she had blown some sort of master fuse, but then someone started yelling for everyone to get out of the building there was a fire. People streaming down the hall said they had seen smoke at the end of the hall. We left the room with nothing but the clothes on our backs. My spouse had on her nightgown, and fortunately I was still in my regular street clothes of the day. People were wearing everything imaginable as they filed onto the lawn. All of the music teachers were carrying their instruments and most had their computers.
The police arrived very shortly but it was a full 15 minutes before an army of fire engines arrived. There were special trucks to handle toxic materials and bombs and there was even a helicopter circling overhead. It was an exciting thing for the kids and old folks alike. All of us on the lawn looked like the passengers on the deck of the Titanic before it sunk.
I kept watching for the flames and extension ladders to rescue those trapped on the top floor. After awhile, I noticed the fireman just milling around and talking. I got the courage to intrude into their conversation since they were just laughing and having a good time. They informed me that there was no fire. Someone had activated a fire extinguisher and that accounted for the smoke and also set off the alarm. They were now turning off and resetting the fire alarm system. I told the crowd and everyone seemed greatly relieved but kept on visiting. It was almost like a party.
One of the nice things about staying in these apartments is there is no TV. The family members are actually talking to each other and the experience on the lawn allowed us to meet some folks and have a nice conversation. It was sort of like the old days when people used to visit on the porch. On the lawn, I met a lady from San Angelo and we taliked about one of my favorite authors, Elmer Kelton, also from San Angelo. I talked to one of the teachers from LA about movie making. She has played in Hollywood orchestras. Another teacher styled my spouses hair. The whole experience was refreshing and I’m thinking about somehow activating the fire alarms again tonight so we can visit with the neighbors in the apartments. It’s a lot better than TV.