Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grab What You Can

I was enjoying a movie on television Saturday afternoon when all the fire alarms in my apartment building started going off. The first thing you want to do is deny there’s a real fire in the building. Still I grabbed my wallet, checkbook and poked my head out in the hallway to see how serious things were.

There was smoke on the first floor, but it wasn’t that thick so I went down to see what was going on. It seems my downstairs neighbor, let’s call him “T”, was cooking in his kitchen when something caught fire. One neighbor said there were flames two to three feet high coming from a counter top or stove. “T” himself said something I didn’t quite understand.

Anyway by that time the fire was out, but the smoke, which had an electric crispness to it, was still making its way out the front and back doors that were propped open on the first floor. The fire department arrived to check out the damage, which was mostly smoke damage.

On my way upstairs I started thinking about the things I’d gathered and cursed myself for not grabbing my parakeet “Sprite.” Course my quick evaluation told me the building wasn’t going to burn up, but if there’s a next time the bird goes with me. The rest of the stuff is covered by insurance, although a few things have great memory value.

I’m not much for labeling, but during the incident one of my newer neighbors said something like, “That crazy guy tried to burn down the building.” The person who said it looked a bit crazed at the time, but I don’t like to make snap judgments.

Let me tell you about “T.” He had a brain operation years ago that didn’t go right. It left him with some problems and eyes that don’t quite align right. If you met him you might get the impression he’d been drinking, but he’s not a drinker. It takes him a little more time to process things. When I finally talked to him about the fire he said it wasn’t his fault and I believe him. Still I fear it might affect his particular independent living situation. I don’t like judging a book by its cover. It’s been my experience that most books deserve a good read.

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