Today was the second day back to school after the Christmas break. As you know the second day back is always harder than the first. On the first, the kids are eager to see their friends again and I’m eager for some peace and quiet. By the second day, our bodies and minds have figured out this is our dreaded routine until Spring Break rolls around, and every step in the morning routine is slow and painful.
Somehow I got the boys and dog loaded up in the car in record time, all the while yawning and thinking about the cup of coffee that would be waiting on me once I returned. I glanced at the clock to determine how much traffic I should anticipate. At 7:10 a.m. we’re good to go; however, leaving 5 minutes later would have turned a quick 4 mile round trip into a 20-30 minute ordeal.
I pull up to the front of the subdivision and I can see thick fog on the lake across the road. Everything across the way appears gray. The water, the fog, the sky. Nothing unusual there. It’s frigid out this morning, so thick fog is expected. The train tracks sit up on a little bluff and run parallel to the road, blocking the view of most of the houses that are nestled up against the lake, but I can see roof tops and one in particular looks strange to me.
“Is that smoke coming out of that house?” I asked the boys. They assured me it wasn’t. “Are you sure?” Yes, they are sure. It’s just heavy fog and maybe a little chimney smoke they say.
I drive on, but I’m uneasy the entire way. I know I’m going to drop by that street on my way back so I can laugh at how my imagination runs wild at times, at least I hope I’ll be able to laugh about it. I carry on our usual morning banter, drop the kids off, and head back home.
By now, the “what if’s?” are eating away at me.
What if that was actually smoke coming out that roof?
What if people are asleep inside and are slowly succumbing to smoke inhalation?
What if I had made the wrong decision by driving on?
What if nobody else notices?
Ten minutes is not that long really, but in this case it might mean the difference between life and death.
Traffic is light and the red lights are kind to me for once. My round trip has been much quicker than normal. I can’t see or smell smoke as I’m getting close to home, but I still plan on turning into that small dead end neighborhood just to quell my uneasy feeling.
I turn left, go over the tracks, and around the bend, and then I see smoke billowing from the roof. Oh. My. God. I had been right.
So many horrible things can happen in ten minutes.
The adrenaline is pumping now. I recognize it from back when I worked in ICU. I knew my hands would start to shake, but my brain would quickly kick into gear and help settle my nerves. Time would slow down and everything would become super clear for the next few minutes.
I stop a couple of houses short, fumble through my purse looking for my phone. I always put in the cup holder in the mornings. Why didn’t I do that today???
I dial 911, open the car door and Bluetooth picks up the call. OMG. I have to sit here, right? If I get out, then it will cut me off. It has before. Will it do it again? I just want to get to that house!!!!
911: “911. What’s the nature of your emergency?” (Someone needs to chat with 911 about being succinct)
Me: “There’s a house on fire on Taylor’s Landing. It’s across from (our) subdivision. It’s a short street. You can’t miss the house.” (You know, it’s the one on fire.)
911: “Do you know the address?”
Taylor’s Landing??? Is that the street name? I think so!
But I don’t really know!
Maybe it’s the name of the little community of houses on the lake?
I drive by this road 400 times each day. Why don’t I know?
I’m looking around and only see a big community mailbox and I know the street numbers are painted on the curb, but again I’m being held hostage by Bluetooth. So I repeat the location just like before.
911: “Ok. Are you SURE the house is on fire?”
What kind of question is this????
Me: “Yes! There’s smoke and flames coming out of the roof, but I’m not sure if anyone is inside.”
911: “Ok. Sit still while I transfer you to Rural Metro”.
Seriously??? So I go through it again with Rural Metro and finally disconnect the call. I know it had been only a minute or two at the most, but I wanted to get out that car and see if anyone was inside the house.
I take off at a dead run to the house that’s closest to the flames, looking for help, and wanting to warn them at the same time. I ring the doorbell and bang on the door, but no one answers. If I need help then I’ll have to come back, but I’m not willing to waste any more time.
I run to the house that’s on fire and see that it’s a huge L-shaped garage with the flames coming out the end that’s farthest away from the attached house. That’s somewhat of a relief, but the heavy smoke still worries me. I ring the doorbell with one hand, bang on the door with my other fist, and scream like a mad woman. A dazed and confused, half-asleep elderly man answered the door, and I start telling him he needs to get out NOW, and I asked if anyone else was in the house with him.
Nope, just him and a cat. He stood inside his front door looking at his garage and then finally back at me, and said, “Well, I guess I need to get my car out.”
I had enough adrenaline pumping for the both of us at that time and I thought one of us was having the wrong reaction here. Was I overreacting or was he under reacting? I’m not sure, but I quickly decided he was alert and with it enough to get his cat and himself out of the house, so I ran to the main road to flag down the fire trucks. I figured they could find their way to Taylor’s Landing, but I wasn’t taking any chances.
During this time, two cars turn down Taylor’s Landing, drive past his house with the flames coming out of it, turn around in his neighbor’s driveway, and then leave. They didn’t get out to see if they could help in any manner nor did they roll down their window and asked if I had called 911. They just drove on…in their business attire and luxury cars. This bothered me and it kept bothering me as the day went on.
After the fire trucks arrived, I headed home and spent the next few hours painting and reliving the morning.
I thought about that extra ten minutes which could have caused me to live with some unbearable consequences.
I thought about how I needed to listen to my gut instincts even when I think I’m being silly.
I thought about those two people who made the effort to turn down this little dead end street to see what was happening, but didn’t make any effort after that.
I thought about how our society has changed and why our world is the way that it is today.
And finally, I thought about the blog hop post I was suppose to be writing on “5 Things To Make 2016 My Year”. Why did I sign up for that? It’s really not my type of thing. I try to make the most out of each day which in itself will take care of the “year”.
As I’m painting two night stands, all of these random thoughts keep rolling through my head. Over and over again. Then it hits me. Maybe we can all learn from my ten minutes. Maybe I should share how my ten minutes could have permanently changed someone else’s life. Maybe I should share how two cars drove past, but didn’t have time for others.
I’m thinking we, as a society, need to get back to the basics and so I’m giving you my easy starter list:
5 Things to Make 2016 About OTHERS:
- Be kind. Always. It takes so little effort to hold a door, say please and thank you, or ask someone how they are doing.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all and that includes online. We all have an opinion, but it doesn’t mean we should share it.
- Wait patiently. Everywhere. Every time. Your time is not more important than mine or anyone else’s, but how you act while having to wait will affect others.
- Donate time and money to those who need it. Yes, we all have more time than we think. We spend too much time online and manage our free time poorly. I can assure you that others will appreciate your time and it will make you feel good about yourself, too.
- Invite a kid or an adult who normally wouldn’t get invited to a birthday party or dinner. That small kindness can change their life and it’s an excellent teaching example for your kids.
If you’ve made it all the way down to here, then I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, It was a long read and I appreciate you hanging through it all.
Check out these links for more fun Blog Hops: