It was summertime in Glasgow. One of the only times of the year when the sun actually shines brightly. Flowers bloom, the temperature rises, and it’s just that perfect amount of warm to be out at the park with a good book and some good company.
Or you can be stuck inside for days on end working on your master’s thesis. Either way.
So there I was, writing my thesis. My flat probably looked something like this:
And I was super, super into it. Remember, my thesis often had me on the floor, talking to the ceiling, ripping my hair out, so being into it was great. I was on a writing roll, feeling like a total genius. Maybe I would actually make my word count goal for the day, I thought to myself.
I heard an annoying beep coming from somewhere, but I ignored it. Nothing would break this incredible moment of inspiration. So I kept typing. I heard it again. Ignored it. Then again. Ignored it. The way I’m writing this story, it seems like it was a steady, well-timed beeping, but it wasn’t. It was happening sporadically every few minutes.
SIDENOTE: I was so used to noise coming from my street that I had become desensitized. It wasn’t unusual for people to double park in the few spots available on my block, so there was a lot of honking, screaming, swearing, and there was at least one car alarm going off a day. And if the person whose car alarm was going off didn’t stop it, at least four people would open their windows and start shouting about it. So who the hell cared about a random beeping, right?
After about half an hour of beeping, I had had it. I was irritated. My inspiration had been replaced by rage. I was blaming my inability to continue writing my thesis on that GODFORSAKEN BEEPING! I put my laptop on the coffee table, stood up in a huff, and went to the front window.
But instead of a quiet street, like this:
I saw two firetrucks, three police cars, and a HUGE CROWD of people, police, and firemen. Oh, and there was yellow CAUTION tape BLOCKING OFF MY FLAT.
They all seemed to be looking up to somewhere around my floor, so I followed their glances and
OH MY GOD THE FLAT RIGHT NEXT TO MINE WAS ON FIRE!
I’m sorry, quick question, no big deal or anything, but how was I not notified of this?!
Now, because I lived in a tenement block, the flat right next to mine was actually in the next building over, so I couldn’t access their hallway, see if they had evacuated, etc., and I couldn’t tell if I should panic or not, but since I saw flames, I’m not gonna lie, I panicked. I pulled on a sweater and some slippers, grabbed my keys, and got the hell out of my flat. I ran down the four flights of stairs and walked out the front door.
A few firemen glanced at me, then got on with their work day. No one seemed to care that I had still been in the building. No attractive policemen ran up to me saying, “Ach, are ye awright, wee lassie? Why hud ye not been evacuated? Let me take ye in ma airms an hawd ye tight.”
But it was like I didn’t exist. So I walked up to a fireman and said, “Uhh, is everything okay? I live in 20 and–”
“Aye, it’s awright, nae need ta panic, love.”
And then he continued ignoring me.
I stood around for a few minutes. The wind had picked up and I was feeling cold. I stood around for a few more minutes. Then I reached my “fuck it” threshold and went back into my building and back up the stairs to my flat. One of my downstairs neighbours, a lovely older lady named Margaret, was in the stairwell.
“Fire next door, is it?”
“Yeah, it looks like it.”
“Yeah, but it looks like they’ve got it under control.”
“Aye, good, good. Huv a great day, Andrea.”
And then I refreshed my tea and got back to my thesis.
But I never stopped wondering, if it had been dangerous, would anyone have said anything?
Ah well, whatever. But lesson learned: never ignore a persistent beep.