Day 0, After the Fire, Part 1

N.B. This is about the fire that happened September 7, 2010. I didn’t have another fire.

The fire was out. The trucks were gone. I had poked around the rubble, a practice that in days to come I would come to call “looting,” especially if when else was doing it of their own volition. In my first foray into looting, all I really wanted was my wallet, but it was not to be found.

It was now time to do what it is that you do after a house fire. Since the reporter had not provided any insights into what my next steps were, I was on my own–well, not really on my own. Plenty of people were offering to help, and one of my best friends was able to take the day off work to be my handler. When your house burns down, as after any traumatic event, it is best not to make any big decisions unaided. When I got divorced, for example, more than one person counseled me not buy a boat or a car. I was pretty sure that I would not be tempted to buy either of those things on this particular day, but not knowing what kinds of decisions I would confront in the wake of the fire, it made me feel better to be in the company of someone who could keep me from making foolish impulsive decisions.

Thanks to a neighbor who had given me my insurance agent’s phone number, while she attended the fire, I was able to call his office to file the claim. Within an hour or two, I had received a phone call from a local adjuster. We were to meet at my place at 3pm.

The next order of business was to get Thor to a vet. I had no way to know how long Thor had been in the house or how much smoke he might have inhaled. He was not forthcoming with complaints, but he could be rather stoic. I made an appointment with Thor’s regular doctor an hour or two later that morning. The vet said that Thor looked okay, but that he probably needed to be in an oxygen tent. “OK, great. Whatever. Tent him up. Which way do we go?”

It turned out that Thor’s doctor did as not equipped for post-fire trauma and that Thor would need to go to the emergency vet, making the trip to this vet fairly superfluous. Appointments were made. We traveled the other side of town. The plan was to put Thor in some oxygen cage and monitor his blood oxygen levels. Depending on how long he needed to be in the thing, it would be something like a thousand dollars plus or minus a few hundred bucks. At this point, felt a little guilty about leaving Thor in a burning building, so it seemed like the right thing to do. My handler did not question the decision, so it was time to check Thor in. No problem.

Well, there was a problem. The people with the Oxygen booth wanted their money, or a credit card, at least, before they would give any of their Oxygen to Thor. On a Normal Day, coming up with a credit card, or even a thousand dollars in cash would not have been that big a deal. Today, however, I had no wallet, no cards, no identification. Nothing. Just what was I supposed to do now?

Thor and I were already where he needed to be. I did not want to drive elsewhere to come up with means to pay these people. I was starting to feel helpless. Eventually I managed to convince them to accept my mom’s credit card number over the phone, apparently a violation of protocol. I had her call and give her the number and authorization. It was a great relief. With the fiduciary trauma out of the way, Thor was all set. I left Thor in the care of strangers. Thor did not seem to mind, whether his lack of protest was because was he trusted the fine doctors or because he was too tired to protest was unclear.

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