3:30 AM on Monday morning and the fire alarm in my apartment complex goes off. The red lights flashing and the intentionally ear-wrenching alarm are enough to make a dead body stuffed in a closet come running out of the building let alone me, an overworked-underpaid employee who is in a state of light sleep in expectation of another tough week at work to begin. Work as of now is nowhere on my mind. Being burned to death is not my preferred way of getting off all the tough bits that life has yet to throw at me.
I jump up in my shorts and T condition, scramble to grab my glasses in the dark and tumble down the stairs, my personal laptop (The office laptop can burn in hell for all I care) in one hand and my digi-cam in the other, apparently the only precious items that my sleep addled mind could think of in the half minute of time that it had. I was glad just to step outside the confines of my wooden death-trap of a building.
It is evident from the time that I enter the parking lot that this is a false alarm as I am the only person who has made the effort to come out of the building. About 15 seconds later, the Gujarati guy who lives upstairs comes out looking like he had to leap out of a 10th floor window to escape the 'fire'. About 2-3 minutes later, Parker the beagle comes ambling out with his master in tow and that's about it. This is sometime in early October and autumn nights in New England can get chilly. I become aware of this weather update as I watch the firemen enter the building, come out wearing relieved smiles and shut off the alarm.
I on the other hand am far from smiling. I've never seen the look of a serial killer outside of a movie screen but I dare say the firemen are seeing it on my face right now. A couple of them stop smiling. In 3 hours time, I must suit up for work and I feel the need for atleast 6 more hours of sleep after being so cruelly jolted out of my disturbed slumber.
Though I cannot force a smile on my face at the way the situation eventually turns out, I am definitely appreciative of what all this boils down to. In a moment of a really real crisis, all that matters is that you are alive and good to see the next day. These are the basics that cannot be done without. Everything else is of secondary concern. It helps a lot to gain some perspective on what's really important once in a while.