Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Life's a gas!

So I'm working nights right now, and as usual, I slept through the day... or tried to. The building was a little noisier than usual this afternoon, at least I figure it was. Lots of banging, sounded a bit like someone moving in downstairs, or putting something together. Though it was interspersed by door-banging. All the outside doors and the doors to the apartments are connected to spring-hinges that slam the door behind you if you don't put a hand on the door to slow it while it closes. And every time a door closes the noise of it slamming seems to echo through the walls. So anyways, between that and repeated phonecalls from work to reschedule a staff meeting, I crawled out of bed a bit earlier than usual, had a snack and sat around in comfy clothes.
I'm sitting around minding my own business, when I hear an alarm coming from the hallway. I peeked out the peephole in my door, to try and figure out what was up, and noticed the firealarm in the hall had it's flashing light going. Not good. But... not really sure what was going on either. Did somebody burn dinner and not stop their apartment alarm from setting off the building alarm? What I knew for sure was: I should really get out of my pajama pants. So I put on socks and jeans, pulled my hair into a pony tail (because, looks come before safety, as you know), and then opened my door to find out what the others were up to. Because sure enough, by this point the neighbors had their doors open and were discussing the next move. Luckily, one of them decided to run down the stairs to the first floor to discover the problem. He came running back upstairs saying there was a really strong smell of gas downstairs, and we should probably get out.
Now, the problem with living in the north in winter, is that getting out isn't a simple matter of walking outside. No, it's really best to bundle up, especially when you have no idea how long you'll be out for. Which means every one of us went back into our apartments to get dressed, in winter clothes. Hats, mitts, scarves, jackets. As I'm stepping out of my apartment, I turn to one of the others and ask: Are you locking yours? We agree, probably best to leave it unlocked incase emergency crews need access. And then I notice she has a backpack. I was trying to think, should I have an overnight bag with me? I asked about the backpack, and she said no, it was basically her purse and a couple other such things. My eyes go wide, ah, that might be smart! So back into my apartment I go for my purse. Nothing like forgetting all those important pieces of identity. That done, we all troupe down the stairs and head into the parking lot. Every flight of stairs brings a stronger smell of gas, and by the time we reach the main floor we're happy to be going outside. And as we leave the building, we see the ambulance pulling up, and the building manager has just arrived and shut off the alarm. Turns out the lady living on the main floor had called the only numbers she knew to call and basically screamed at them to "just get here NOW!" We stood around outside for a bit, discussing what was happening etc. Found out the fuel that was topped up the other day is, in essence, jet fuel. Anything less, such as diesel, would be too viscous to flow in the middle of winter here. (I'm not sure why propane wouldn't be a possibility). Anyways, best we can tell, this fuel is leaking into or around the elevator shaft. Which is nicely distributing it throughout the building. All the emergency staff were in the building at this point. A few wandered back out and we asked if it was safe to be inside. He figured we could "go in if [we] want". So, we looked at each other, weighted the option of sitting out in the cold indefinitely, or going back in with the risk of an explosion.
We went back in. Very thankful that it's a non-smoking building, so that should hopefully reduce our risk of being blown sky-high. So now I'm sitting here typing, hearing the alarm go off again randomly every few minutes, starting to smell the gas in the apartment, and hearing lots of banging doors. I've shoved an extra scarf under the door to try and keep the fumes out.
I have an hour until I head into work. Considering the smell in here, I might just show up early. I've got enough left-overs in the fridge that I think I'll just micro-wave anything I want to eat, and I'll turn off or unplug anything I can before I go. And I'll bring the purse to work, even though I don't usually bother.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Wow! Sounds like an interesting day you had there Heather :) Those slamming doors would be the end of me !!!

Keep up the writing! I love to read about it all!!