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Evacuate all the schoolchildren…

Sometimes you feel really, really lucky.

Today at work, our on-call called in. We have an off-site on-call who checks in with us periodically, just to see if we’re still alive, if all the employees showed up for their shifts, if the place blew up in a random missile attack, etc. Today’s on-call was CAZ. That’s not her real name. We go by initials there. And strangely enough, those aren’t her initials, as she got married a few years ago. But her new last name doesn’t sound as good as saying “CAZ!” does. So those of us who’ve been there a while still call her CAZ. Yes. Yes, that’s a thing that happens at my part-time job. (I don’t go by my initials there, only because my initials don’t sound good if you say them. I’m just Amy. At one point, there were like five Amys but I outlasted them ALL. I would say “I win!” but I’ve been working at this place for eight and a half years so I don’t think that’s a win for anyone, as that means I haven’t had a true weekend for eight and a half years.)

“HELLO CAZ!” I said. And we chatted a little, because I do so like CAZ.

She warned me that one of the apartment complexes we answer for was on fire, so we would probably be getting a lot of calls on that account.

Which one? Oh, not a big deal, just the one where I live, that’s all.

ON FIRE.

“CAZ, do we know more about this fire? Like, what BUILDING is this fire in?” I said, in a freaked-out tone.

“Why? Oh, so we can tell callers what’s up when they call. GOOD IDEA!”

“No. Um. I live there?”

“Oh. CRAP. Um. Let me ask my husband. He saw it on Facebook. HUSBAND!” she yelled. It is one of CAZ’s more endearing qualities. She’s really loud. She’s an all-capser, if anyone is. “DID FACEBOOK TELL YOU WHAT BUILDING’S ON FIRE? He says no. Sorry!”

So all day at work, I was freaking merrily the hell out. I don’t hang with anyone in my complex so I wasn’t going to call anyone, and at one point we tried calling the front desk because callers were calling us all “NO ONE’S ANSWERING OVER THERE” but no one answered so I couldn’t even ask them what was up. I assume the front desk guy, who’s super-timid (he’s like a Dumbcat of a human) saw the fire and scurried away into his own personal pots-and-pans cupboard.

I kept thinking of Dumbcat. And all my things. I really like my things. And then Dumbcat again, who, the one time we had a fire at my old place, was SO SCARED. And my things. But mostly my Dumbcat. And I did my job, but I kept thinking, “Maybe you have no home to go to? Maybe the ENTIRE PLACE burned down. Maybe you have no more things or cat. Maybe you have your car and what you’re wearing. You have renter’s insurance, sure, but you can’t buy a lifetime’s worth of things. Or Dumbcat. Dumbcat is worth more than ALL the money.”

I drove home kind of crazily. Sorry, other people on the road. You were driving TOO SLOWLY. I wanted to know if I had a home.

I had a home.

(The building that burned, however, wasn’t far from mine. Only a few away. It’s a HUGE complex. Building after building after building.)

It was all over the news. 4 apartments burned. REALLY burned, too, not just a little singed or whatever.

HOLY HELL.

They don’t know how it started, only that it started in the top floor apartment and burned four of the places to a crisp. Like, nothing left. The Red Cross is helping the people without homes. I didn’t see anything when I drove in (the building that burned is past my driveway) but WHOO does it smell like smoke around here.

In news of “everything is an excuse for getting blasted,” my neighbors decided to have a “WE DIDN’T BURN UP!” party, and a gaggle of like ten of them got drunker and drunker in the parking lot. In-between my frantic pettings of Dumbcat (“OMG, my good, good boy, who isn’t dead, how much do I love you? SO MUCH. More than ALL THE THINGS. You are the BEST.” “MOM! This are the BEST PETTINGS!1!!! PURR PURR o no I falled off the cowch from hapinesss”) I peered at them like a creeper. Things got super-loud about three hours after I got home. One of the very classy partygoers decided it was time to BE VERY LOUD and SCREAM OBSCENITIES and BANG ON OTHER PEOPLE’S CARS (I was all, “Don’t you touch my car. Don’t you even. DON’T TOUCH IT” but he didn’t, I don’t think) and then I wandered off because other people’s insanity due to overimbibing got boring to me in the mid 90s but when I heard someone say “GET IN THE CAR DUDE WE GOTTA GO!” I peeked out and he sped off and there was a guy on the ground in a puddle of blood with a girl hovering over him all “You ok, buddy?” and the other partygoers were scurrying around cleaning up detritus because you could hear cop cars coming.

YAY! BAD BOYS BAD BOYS WHATCHU GONNA DO?

The cops showed up, and then an ambulance, and they took the Victim of the Fire Party away on one of those backboard thingies that you strap people to when they’ve had a spinal injury and then the lady who lives in that place went around apologizing to people for the ruckus and that was the end of that.

I just kept thinking of this:

OMG I am totally laughing so hard I can’t type properly right now sdohgoisgohsdogih.

So: all in all, it all worked out. I have a home. I have a DUMBCAT in the home. (Who doesn’t like the smoky smell; he’s all sniffing near the windows and making his sour-face and running off.) I feel very, very fortunate. (I feel terrible for the people who lost everything, though. Fires scare the bejeebers out of me. When I was little, I used to have panic attacks about our house going up in flames. Dad was all, “WE WOULD BE FINE I WOULD SAVE YOU” but we had to watch some terrible movie about fires in your home and I WAS SO SCARED so I was all, “DAD YOU COULD NOT SAVE ME FROM A WALL OF HUNGRY CHILD-EATING FLAMESSSSSS” and he just shook his head and walked away which I think is what happened with most of my childhood, to be honest.)

Tomorrow I am going on an adventure to meet the most lovely Bronwyn and her EQUALLY-LOVELY fella. I am excited. We will have an adventure of epic proportions! Or just eat dinner and talk and talk, but that can be totally adventurey if you’re meeting someone for the first time you’ve known for years on the interwebs.

Happy Sunday, everyone. May you all have a good thing happen that makes you realize you are very, very lucky to be alive and well and have what you do have in life.

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

63 responses to “Evacuate all the schoolchildren…

  • cynthiaw

    EEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…. I am so glad that your apartment and all your things, and, most importantly, DUMBCAT, didn’t burn up in a fire. Because that would be majorly sucky.

    And the apartment complex that you live in sounds like the one that we lived in that made us decide to save all our money and stop eating out so we could be homeowners. Or at least some of your neighbors may have lived in our old complex.

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    • lucysfootball

      I’d love to be a homeowner someday, but I’m afraid – I don’t always have a ton of extra money, and it scares me that my water heater could go out, or something pricey, and I wouldn’t have the money to fix it. Here, maintenance (usually, they’re sometimes foot-draggy) does that for me, you know? (I don’t have credit cards, so I couldn’t charge it, which is probably what most people could do.)

      But sometimes I dream of having a yard. And room. And a place for MORE ANIMALS. And sigh happily.

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      • cynthiaw

        If I didn’t have another person to buy a house with, it wouldn’t happen – I’m terrible at fixing stuff and lawn stuff and everything. And teaching doesn’t pay enough for me to pay other people to do that stuff. So, I’m fortunate – but being a homeowner is EXPENSIVE.

        We bought new, so we didn’t have major expenses for awhile, but then they all started happening AT THE SAME TIME. It was scary, but I’m fortunate to be married to a fiscally responsible person, so he had saved for all that stuff and I was just like “OMGWTF – we have to replace the air conditioner?!?!” And he was all “relax, I saved money for that.” And I was all “Oh” and then I felt dumb because I didn’t even know that.

        So… basically, it it were just me or, if I were married to someone like me, I would live in an apartment.

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        • cynthiaw

          Or in a van, down by the river. With all of my books in some hobo boxes.

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        • lucysfootball

          I’m not savey. Not at all. I’m the grasshopper. I am not at all the ant. Therefore, this grasshopper will be working as a Walmart greeter when she’s 87, because of the lack of money. But man, do I have good grasshopper-times.

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          • cynthiaw

            I’m a grasshopper, too! But I married an ant and put him in charge of the saving. Or I’d be working with you as a greeter at Walmart when I was 85, too. Heck, maybe I’ll do it anyway, just for the people watching opportunities – what else am I going to do for fun when I’m 85?

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  • sj

    Ughhhh, this is so horrible. I mean, I’m glad that you and Dumbcat and all of your things are okay, but ZOMG!

    love your face, lady. HAVE FUN WITH BRONWYN!

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    • lucysfootball

      It was a day of quietly freaking out. Luckily, work was busy, so that kept my mind off it, for the most part…but I just kept thinking, “OMG, what if. WHAT IF” and there was no way to find out until I got home. I was shaky.

      THANK YOU! We will have the best time! I’m leaving in about 45 minutes!!!

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  • Andreas Heinakroon

    I’m so very grateful that you’re ok and that Dumbcat or your flat wasn’t affected. Lucky they had those firewalls built into the complex every 4th apartment. But I too feel very much for the families that have lost everything they own, including anywhere to sleep. (Incidentally, the Red Cross is a very good organisation and I’m very grateful for all their help when we had our fire.)

    I hate that plastic smoke smell. It stays with you forever. (It still smells like burned plastic here and there among our stuff, almost 18 months later.)

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    • lucysfootball

      I have a firewall on my right-hand side, so I guess I only have to worry about my left-hand and downstairs neighbors. They seem non-flame-inducing. I hope.

      We answered at work for the Red Cross at one time , and they are very good. The amount of work they do is amazing. (We also answer for Social Services, and I’m in awe of the good work they do around here, and how cheerful they remain throughout.)

      I can’t believe it’s been 18 months since your fire! Someday we’re going to be old and gray(er) and know each other and say, “how have we known each other for THIRTY YEARS!” and laugh until our dentures pop out.

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  • elaine4queen

    There’s a tumblr of submissions on the theme of what you’d save from a fire, but it is entirely stupid, just people’s favourite consumer items, really. No one ever puts a picture of their FAITHFUL DAMN PET in there, just their fancy cameras and what have you. I had to stop following it, it just made me sick and depressed. I might possibly save my phone as well as my dog, and it’d be nice not to be naked in the street, but REALLY!

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    • lucysfootball

      You can always replace consumer items. That IS ridiculous. The things I couldn’t replace – Dumbcat, family photos, some of the work on my laptop (I could always buy another laptop, but I have some things saved on here I really care about…speaking of which, I should really back that up somewhere else), some one-of-a-kind art, gifts from friends, some of my books…

      Just thinking about the things that COULDN’T be replaced is heartbreaking. Who cares about the rest. I have enough renter’s insurance to replace what I own tenfold. (Nothing I own is worth much.) But the other things – no.

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      • elaine4queen

        I don’t have any insurance…. maybe I’d have time to unplumb my dishwasher?

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        • lucysfootball

          We HAVE to get insurance, or we can’t live here. This is the only place I’ve ever lived that makes you get insurance. Which is actually kind of good, in case of emergency, I suppose. (And it’s cheap. $160 a year, or something?)

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          • elaine4queen

            That’s pretty good. I have insurance on my dog, and it’s a total rip.

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            • lucysfootball

              I was thinking about pet insurance the other day. Not worth it? Dumbcat’s getting old, and some (somewhat-expensive) health issues are rearing their heads, so health insurance might be an idea, but if it’s bad, I won’t bother.

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              • elaine4queen

                May-be.

                Poppet has had some scrapes, but they charge the first nearly £100 anyway each time, and my premium went up after the last biggish cost thing. Worth checking if dental is included, we spent a fortune on a rescue cat’s teeth one time, and it’s often not included. My friend Ian used to boast that his dog was insured to do a million pounds worth of damage. He probably could have done that in an afternoon. One handy hint a friend told me was not to over-insure. The cheapest insurance covers a couple of grand’s worth of treatment, the sort of thing that a big illness or being run over might cost. She said that higher premiums cover higher costs but that the chances are that if something cost that much it’d probably be for something you wouldn’t put your pet through anyway.

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    • Samantha

      Well if you don’t have a pet or kids or anyone else that lives with you, it makes sense. That would be the case for me. But otherwise, yes, of course the pet or kid would be more important. I wonder if some of them thought that they were a given. At least that’s what I tell myself. :)

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      • elaine4queen

        Lets hope so!

        Though even without my doggie, I’d still probably prioritise physical necessity and communication devices before anything considered an ‘object’. I suppose that if the fire were in my building and I wasn’t in immediate peril I might cast my eye about. Just did, and it lit on my early ’80s diaries – that’d be a good thing to save.

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  • elaine4queen

    (and the phone just so I could phone Ten cos I don’t know anyone’s phone number at all, not because I am in love with my phone)

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    • lucysfootball

      I have a lot of things on my phone I’d miss, mostly people’s contact information I don’t know that I have elsewhere (well, on the “cloud”, whatever the hell that is. I don’t know about this nebulous Apple “cloud.”)

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      • Samantha

        You wouldn’t have to worry about it with the cloud. :) You could leave it behind and let insurance replace it. When my phone smashed, it was like it never happened because all of my info downloaded onto my new phone after I signed in because it had backed up that morning. :)

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      • elaine4queen

        I should back up my phone, really.

        I have locked myself out of my flat numerous times. Last flat I had there were about half a dozen people with keys, so the main thing to do was to get myself on a computer and find somewhere to wait for help. I have had occasion to regret footwear, since these cases have tended to involve a fair amount of walking, so indoors shoes that I just ‘popped out’ in were inadequate to the task and caused blisters. I think my fire drill would be a souped up version of that.

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        • lucysfootball

          I need to back up my phone. Maybe tonight when I get home.

          I remember fire drills in our college dorms. NIGHTMARES. Always in the middle of the night, and you didn’t have time to dress, and they’d make you stand outside forEVER, and sometimes walk to another entrance in the snow, and they’d have one, sometimes, every week. WE KNOW HOW TO GET OUT. STOP BOTHERING OUR SLEEP.

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          • elaine4queen

            Jesus, that sounds HORRIBLE!

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            • lucysfootball

              I moved out after two years in the dorm to a falling-down house in town, and I was never happier. (Not just because of the fire drills, but having my own space again, with friends, made all the difference.)

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              • elaine4queen

                I never lived in dorms, just shitty rooms to start off with, sharing with flatmates for better or ill.
                Things started getting markedly better when my boyfriend Phillip and I got a flat on our own. Our place was massive and tumble down and we loved it.

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                • lucysfootball

                  My two college apartments were like that – not great (I don’t know that I’d live in them now) but roomy and cozy and we had so much fun there. (The second one had a solarium, of sorts, in the front, that was all windows, where we had about 50 plants and some beat-up chairs for reading…it was the best reading nook I’ve ever had. I miss that room. It was so bright and had so much plant-related oxygen!)

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                  • elaine4queen

                    Yeah, I’m going to have to give up on the house hunting, but that’s been something I’ve been looking at longingly – rooms with big windows, more than one window, anything like that. ALL THE WINDOWS.

                    I’ve been doing a bit of weeding in between typing, and I must say that having some outdoors is good. Although most of my neighbours cover up the railed bit of the wall for privacy I’m not sure I’d like that, because even though my garden feels rather public I get to look out over the river and it feels like my garden only ends at the other side of the river where the trees are. I have been super aware as I’ve looked at flats how very green it is here, and although it has it’s drawbacks I do know that all the greenery is good for me.

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  • becomingcliche

    I am so glad Dumbcat and your home are okay! SO glad! And an Arrested Development reference for the win.

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  • mfennvt

    Damn! I’m glad you and Dumbcat are all right. Those are some scary photos.

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  • wordsmith94

    So glad you’re safe! *hugs to you and Dumbcat*

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  • ksbeth

    happy you were so lucky )

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  • Nerija S.

    Holy Snap! So this is the context to your tweets yesterday about the inebriated party! When you described seeing the man lying there, I thought, “this would be the moment when they’d cut to the title sequence of NCIS or CSI or Law & Order. Or maybe even House.” But jokes aside, I really hope he’ll be ok.

    And I’m glad you and Dumbcat are safe and have a home.

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  • Charleen

    I’m too tired to comment on this now. I may come back and tell you my apartment fire story tomorrow. But I’m glad you and Dumbcat and all your things are okay.

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    • lucysfootball

      Yikes! Sleep well. And thank you. We are well, and he is snuggling my leg as I type.

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      • Charleen

        Okay, I just realized I never came back and told you my story!

        (It’s been a physically and emotionally exhausting couple of weeks around here. I’m very behind on my interneting.)

        So, my husband and I were living in a building that had twelve apartments, four on each floor. The four corners, if you will. One night, the people who lived in an apartment on our floor — the top floor — and kitty-corner to us INTENTIONALLY STARTED A FIRE! AT FRICKING MIDNIGHT!

        Unbelievable.

        But of course we didn’t know that at the time. All we knew was that we were sleeping and suddenly woken up by a huge crash, and loud voices announcing there was a fire and we had to get out. So I’m throwing on a shirt over my pajama top, and slipping my shoes on as we’re rushed out the door, and my husband seems to be taking his sweet time…

        (This is the worst part of the story…)

        He was looking for the cat. I wasn’t even thinking of the cat. They rushed us outside without having found the cat. Thinking back on it, it breaks my heart to think that I forgot about him even for a second, but at the time I was just sort of in shock.

        So anyway… our entire building was huddled outside in the freezing cold parking lot (this was like February) for something like two hours. The whole time, we’re watching the door to see if Slider comes running out (turns out he was hiding under the bed, probably from the moment they came crashing through our door), but of course I’m blind without my glasses, so I’m really just watching the door and hoping he doesn’t come running out.

        Once it was clear the fire was out, my husband flagged down one of the firemen and explained that we didn’t know where our cat was, and he reported that he was under the bed, and that they’d shut the bedroom door so he’d be safe. Then they herded us all to the laundry room in another building so at least we’d be warm while police took statements from everyone, asking about the people in the apartment (who were conspicuously absent). From the questions it felt like they suspected domestic abuse, possibly even kidnapping, but we later found out that both tenants were in on it together, just started the fire and ran off. I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened to them (other than that they were caught a few days later). It would be great if they’re serving time for attempted murder, but somehow I doubt it.

        Anyway, no one was hurt. The damage was confined to the apartment where the fire was (and a little water damage in the one under them, from sprinklers leaking through). They sent us upstairs to quickly grab what we needed (and our poor kitty!) and then sent us away for a few days while they cleaned everything up, put new doors on all the apartments, etc. The apartment management was putting people up in hotels who needed it, but as both sets of parents lived 20 minutes away and we were tired (and we didn’t know if having a pet was going to complicate things), we elected to just go, figuring it would take another hour or two for things to get sorted the “official” way (and yes, we told the apartment rep we were leaving, we didn’t just disappear). I think we finally got back to bed at 4am.

        So that’s my fire story. And this is officially the longest comment ever.

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        • lucysfootball

          That is a NIGHTMARE! I’m so glad everyone (including kitty) was ok. I hate those people for you. Who sets a fire when OTHERS could potentially be killed?

          I blogged about this years ago, but in my first apartment here, we got hit by lightning and the place caught on fire. I was home. A neighbor knocked on the door and told me to get out, we were on fire, and the fire department was coming. I said, “No, I can’t, the cats are in here.” He was like, “YOU HAVE TO.” I locked the door in his face, ran around like a madwoman collecting my two and my roommate’s one cat, my purse, and my shoes, and ran out – probably took me about 3 minutes, tops. I’ve never moved that fast in my life. (When we got back in, I’d apparently thrown furniture around like The Hulk – don’t even remember doing it.) The firemen were beating on my door. I RACED downstairs, carriers in hand, FLUNG it open…and calmly said, “Excuse me!” and minced past them with my cats and purse in tow. They were SO MAD AT ME.

          (It might not have been the best move…but dammit, if the cats were burning up, so was I.)

          My poor roommate. She got home about 15 minutes later, saw the smoke, firetrucks, and our place with people all around, ran into the parking lot PANICKED, and we totally met halfway like lovers separated at a great distance and hugged. “I GOT THE CATS!” I cried. “THANK YOU!” she cried back.

          (All was well. Just some smoke/water damage, and the firemen made a huge sooty mess that the complex never cleaned up because why would they?)

          Like

          • Charleen

            RIGHT?! I don’t even know if they were psychopaths… if the other people in the building just never entered their minds, or if they actually wanted to hurt everyone… it if they were just naive enough to think they could have their “fun” (or whatever their motivation was) and no one would be seriously hurt, because bad things like that only happen to other people. (The fact that no one WAS seriously hurt didn’t make it any less messed up to assume that no one COULD be.)

            And I know it’s not actually funny but I can’t help laughing at your description of you and your roommate. I’m hearing dramatic background music and picturing this as a Lifetime movie of the week.

            Like

            • lucysfootball

              In retrospect, the whole fire thing at my old apartment was kind of funny (only because nothing really got damaged, I think.) I just keep thinking of the poor cats, who were SO PETRIFIED that I was running around the house like a madwoman that they just kind of froze, which allowed me to scoop them into carriers. They didn’t even have time to hide. Poor little guys. (Also, please let us mourn for the pint of ice cream I was eating at the time of the fire, which I didn’t have time to put back in the freezer; it melted into a puddle and had to be discarded.)

              Like

  • grrgoyl

    Oh, Tobias, you analrapist you.

    I lived your nightmare — our house burned down when I was 11, and yes, it WAS terribly traumatic. To this day, I have nightmares that my house is on fire but I have an unspecified time to save stuff, so I spend the entire night running in and out madly prioritizing everything, constantly wondering how long I have left.

    Very glad to hear Dumbcat was okay. God, that must have been the longest drive home of your LIFE.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I’ve always been so scared of fire, even though I’ve never (knock on wood) lived through one. We heated our house with a wood stove as a kid, so that always scared me. The whole day, and the drive home, was SO long. When I peeked down my drive and saw the building looked fine, I finally took a real breath. Ugh. Nightmare.

      Like

  • sunraeny

    Omg I missed all that about the fire!! But 1 guy did call later sat night and I think he was one of the 4 apts. he said he had been out of town. Can you imagine???? So scary! So glad it wasn’t you!!!

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    • lucysfootball

      OMG, that is TERRIBLE. I can’t even imagine coming home from being away and your place, your things, everything is just GONE. Ugh. (I hope it slowed down after I left! Another crazy Saturday at AP!)

      Like

  • Heather

    HOLY CRAP. I’m so glad Dumbcat is safe and that your apartment didn’t burn down. So, so glad.

    I’m sad for the folks who lost everything, though. :(

    Like

  • RebeccaScaglione - Love at First Book

    I am sooooo glad your building wasn’t the one that caught fire. But it is sooooo sad to think of those people whose apartments are burned. It’s such a tragedy because fire, like flooding, really really really damages all of your things.

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  • Samantha

    Wow, I am so glad it wasn’t your apartment! I couldn’t imagine how devastated those people feel that did have their apartments burn down. It sounds like no one was in them, thankfully, but wow. I can’t even. I’m glad Dumbcat was fine, too, it seems like he was mostly unaffected (not scared).

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      He was ok – just a little clingier than normal (but so was I, so we got along ok that night.) It was scary. And I feel terrible for those people. What a nightmare! (Everyone was ok – either they got out, or they weren’t home. Luckily.)

      Like

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