Wind, Ice and Fire
Winter can't make up its mind here in Michigan. Wild temperature swings . . . sudden snowstorms . . . even unusually high winds have visited this holiday season. Check out the trampoline we discovered in a neighborhood front yard. We think it may have been in the backyard last night before 50-mile-an-hour winds descended upon our area. I think "gusty" had about has much fun with that trampoline as any kid could.
As I get older, it's not so much the snow and the cold that bother me as it is the ice. Falling on icy pavement is like getting tackled on concrete. Been there, done that and it hurts. And I just read somebody's holiday newsletter where the writer said they attended a climate change seminar that predicted more ice in the years to come. Great.
On Christmas Eve, mild temperatures followed by a frigid blast resulted in our church parking lot becoming flash frozen when we arrived for midnight mass. After mass, we walked to our cars slowly, like the zombies in Night of the Living Dead. (Actually, I've been told that you need to waddle like a duck when walking on ice but I think zombies are more dignified). Some young lady did lose her footing, landing hard on the asphalt. I don't think what she said in response is something you would normally hear within earshot of a church. But I felt sorry for her.
The holidays also bring a raft of fire runs from overheated space heaters, Christmas trees afire and the like. We actually had a REAL fire alarm recently in the building where I work. And I'm one of the fire marshals, charged with clearing my section of the building. This was a first. We've had plenty of drills, but they're all planned well in advance to make sure the necessary people will be there to conduct the drill successfully. Can't do that with a real fire. So when the "fire" announcement came over our PA system to clear the building, I sprang into action.
One think I learned is that people move faster when they know it's a real fire. Evacuating the building was a snap. I checked the file room, kitchen, then moved onto the restrooms. Hmmmm, usually I am joined by my female fire marshal partner, but I learned quickly she was absent.
So what to do? I didn't want to just barge into the lady's room unannounced. Who knows what I might find in there. I was hoping to corral some lady passerby to help. Maybe if she went in there with me, it would be okay, kinda like a male doctor having a woman assistant in the examining toom when he has a female patient.
But all the women had cleared out of this area already. So I opened the door a crack and asked in a deep, authoritative voice, "Is anybody in here?" Immediately, I realized how stupid that was. Some lady sitting there would be freaked out hearing some guy calling in there like that. So I quickly followed it up with, "Fire drill." Then I let the door close, put a "checked and vacated" sign on the hook and hurried on. Only when I was outside did I realize I had said the wrong thing again. It wasn't a drill. It was the real thing.
Thankfully, there wasn't a real fire. Although a couple fire trucks did roll up, the problem was quickly determined to be a vending machine motor that shorted out and began smoking. Although our building second-in-command fire marshal hustled to the smoky room holding two types of fire extinguishers, one in each hand he said later, all that was necessary was to unplug the offending vending machine. Our building first-in-command fire marshall was off that day too. If both building fire marshalls are off, I think the next in command is me. Well, as long as I don't have to evacuate any women's restrooms, I think I'll be okay.