So around 4:30 am-ish a recent Sunday (6/12) there was a fire in my building. A lady ran down the hall banging on the doors saying, “Fire! Everybody get the f*ck out!” I was half hung over and the first thing I thought was, “Fire…yeah, right. Some fool feel asleep cooking again and his pot of beans is smoking or something.” I hazily put my clothes on and walked out. I saw smoke in the hallway, but wasn’t taking it seriously until I heard someone say something about the fire starting on the 3rd floor ( I live on the 5th floor). Walking on the stairs, I did the one thing they say you shouldn’t do and opened the floor to the 3rd floor. I was greeted by a angry cloud cloud of gray smoke straight in my skeptical face. I guarantee you I woke the f*ck up and treated the situation seriously then. By the time I got downstairs and outside the fire dept was on the scene.
The firemen and their hoses and the policemen blocking off traffic definitely confirmed the idea that it was indeed and actual fire and not a pot of beans that was smoking. People were asking about other residents who soon made their appearance. I remember speaking to one woman who was worried about about her cats. She tried to pick them up and take them with her, but one scratched her and ran off. The firefighter rep we spoke to told her something to the effect that animals are a lot smarter than people think and the cats probably got to safety.
After awhile, things calmed down. It seemed like most everyone got out and the firefighters got the situation under control. The fire was mostly contained to one or two apartments. We had to wait around mostly for them to ventilate the building. There was some fool who was being loud and making jokes, “When we gone git back in? Hell, it’s cold out here! ” Stuff like that. At first I thought, ” Why doesn’t this dude shut the f*ck up?” But then I thought everybody deals with stress in different ways. Some folks are stoic and silent, some folks use humor. The police made us wait a little longer than the firefighters said originally, so I went down the street and got breakfast. When I returned, they had let everyone go back to their apartments. No one was seriously hurt and the natural instinct was to laugh it off and move on.
Maybe 15 hours later a man was found dead in is apartment sitting in his easy chair. At first I wondered if somehow the firemen had missed him in their sweep? I know I didn’t see him outside earlier. Then it turned out he had passed away a few days earlier. No one had seen him in several days so no one thought that he was in the building. Thus no one thought to look for him.
Things like that are what really bring it home for me. I thank god that I have people in my life that if they don’t heard from me in a couple weeks, they’ll start asking questions. Our life on this plane is so fragile, it could slip away just like that. It’s been said by better people than myself, but I believe it ( although I’ve failed many times) we’ve got to make each day count because once we’re dead, we’re done.
So many of us get caught in situations that we think are unbearable. Sometimes we think that we can’t take it any longer. We might give in to fatalistic temptations or whatever. I know it’s a cliche to say that things will eventually get better, but I believe it’s true. Whether it takes days, months, or years…you’ve got to hold on because things will change. In the meantime take whatever little piece of joy you can get out of life where ever you can find it.
I wrote the original draft a few days ago. During that time Clarence Clemons passed away from a stroke. Rest In Peace