Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dear Margaret,
Here is your horoscope
for Tuesday, May 31:

As much as possible, expect the unexpected. The stars have arranged a particularly surprising day for you. Fortunately, you love surprises.

It was a particularly surprising day. I took Tuesday off to do a little relaxing, do a little laundry, vacuum a few rooms, and maybe take a much needed nap. Eric was at daycare, so it was a rare day to myself indeed.

I was checking e-mail after a series of mundane morning errands and I was getting ready to walk up to the drug store to get some exciting things like Dove Soap, folic Acid and Vagisil. Oh YEAH! My life is fascinating.

The smoke alarm went off.

I said.. Hmmm.. Our smoke alarm goes off every time my upstairs neighbor takes a shower and forgets to leave a window open. But I was pretty sure he wasn't home. So, I checked the common area where my association keeps our washer & drier. It smelled mildly acrid, but it didn't seem like a big deal. I stopped the drier and peered behind it, and thought I saw light flickering back there. There was a plastic grocery bag between the drier and the back wall. I thought. Maybe it's smoldering. So I went to get a broom to knock it away. It took me a couple minutes to find the broom with the smoke alarm blaring. Who am I kidding? I am always forgetting where I put my broom. You'd think it would be easier to kept track of. It's not a set of keys or something.

I went back in the laundry area, and there was a plume of smoke coming out from behind our gas drier. I dropped the broom, came inside and called 911.

The fire department said GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. We'll be right there.

I grabbed my purse, cell phone and chased my cat Whittemore up and down the stairs a couple times until I realized that he wasn't going to let me near him. So, I had to leave him. I ran outside and left the front door open.

Then the smoke started to pour and I called Rich. He said "I think I need to come home." I said it didn't look too bad and I hung up as to flag down the fire truck barreling down my street.

Then it got scary.

They barely acknowledged me and ran into my house struggling into their gear on the way. A young fireman paused on the porch to put his oxygen mask on and ran down. Then others were cranking a hose onto the hydrant across the street. Still more firemen flanked the side of the house and started smashing in the windows to my son's room. Then I realized the magnitude of what was happening. I called Rich back and said "Come home. I need you."

Rich flew out of his office.

Why were they breaking my windows? It made no sense. Later, one of the firemen asked me if I had seen "Backdraft" I said "No." It didn't seem like the time to discuss movies as I stood there staring at my broken windows and wondered how we'd ever clean that up. He laughed and said a backdraft is when the house fills with smoke and bursts into flames. He said they had to break the windows to prevent that. "Oh, I said." That makes sense. Shortly afterwards he took me in to find my cat who had sequestered himself under the bed. He was a little sneezy from the smoke, but other than that he's OK. Somewhere in there Rich came home and hugged me. Everything is fine he said.

Then a "public adjuster" shoved a business card at me. Suddenly there were more people poking business cards at me than there were firemen. Some of them have turned out to be marvelous and very well known. For example, my house is filled with "Service Master" employees. It turns out they clean up after pretty much every fire in the Boston Area. They are washing my entire house and everything in it as if it were a big sink full of dishes.

A dry cleaner came and picked up every scrap of fabric in the house. They set it in ozone over night and clean it.

Some guys just came to pick up the rugs to clean them. Bob the Builder aka Bob Dibiassi of PMI Construction came by yesterday to measure the windows and get a quote together to repair the damage.

My house feels like a school or a convenience store with all these people going through it. But it's comforting in a way. They all see this stuff every day.

If it had to happen, the timing was perfect. My mom's first floor apartment is available for the summer and we can rent that. Her tenants will be out on Saturday. Our condo association was late a couple months ago with our payment, but we were paid in full at the time of the fire. We had our own homeowners insurance, so we're completely covered. And I was home. How often do we leave the dryer running and leave the house? I guess the answer is NOT ANYMORE. But before Tuesday the answer would have been at least every other day.

So now we're taking a couple days off of work until we've met with the various adjusters. It's a little complicated because some of this is covered by our policy, and some by the condo.

In general. I feel pretty lucky.

This used to be my dryer. Posted by Hello