The next thing I remember was sitting in the street on a cooler belonging to the fire department. It was full of bottled water. I wondered if protocol allowed me to drink any, though I really was not thirsty. The whole attic was in flames. I would later learn that this is what firefighters call “fully involved.” Previously, “fully involved” had been only a way to order a sandwich at Firehouse Subs.
Though they were able to squirt some water in through the front of the house, not much fire fighting could happen until the concrete tile roof collapsed. All I could do was sit there in the dark. Am I really going to lose my house *and* my dog?
A few minutes later, I saw a fireman pulling Thor by his collar. I really wanted the fireman to just let Thor go; Thor would come to me, but there was not much chance of communicating that. When Thor and I were reunited, he was very wet and very warm. I rubbed him all over. He was not obviously wounded. Now I had someone to sit with.
I walked around to the front of the house to see what it looked like from there. There was a TV crew there filming. They did not talk to me, but a few days later I would see footage of myself in that huge t-shirt.
Back at the cooler, I thought to myself “This is going to be a pretty bad day. I don’t teach until 5PM. I haven’t re-read the articles we are to discuss, but I can probably wing it.”
Not long after six, friends and acquaintances from the neighborhood were in attendance. One gave me the phone number of my insurance agent, which she had in her phone.
I had the following exchange via text message with a close friend:
Me: How are you this morning? 6:48 AM
him: Sleepy. AND you? 6:49 AM
him: K says that was the best pina colada evar. 6:53 AM
Me: I can’t find my wallet or car keys. 6:54 AM
him: That’s always a good sign. 6:55 AM
Me: Yeah. They’re going to be hard to find because the roof collapsed in the fire 6:58 AM
Me: My house burned down. 6:59 AM
Me: I will call in a while after I finish talking to this resource cross lady 7:00 AM
Me: Thor made it out 7:00 AM
him: Um what? 7:01 AM
Me: Yeah. Really. 7:01 AM
During that conversation, before the fire was even out, a woman came over and said that she was from the Red Cross, not “resource cross” as my phone had interpreted it. She asked whether I had clothes and a place to stay. I was pretty sure I could come up with clothes. I had money. Or I would have money if I could find my wallet. Finding a place to stay would not be a problem. She had me fill out some paperwork that asked how much money I made and so on. The next thing I knew, she had given me a pre-paid MasterCard worth $185 and a .
This is a pretty damn fine country, I thought to myself.
As it turned out, The Red Cross lady was not all interested in what I was sure would be one of my biggest needs that day. I was somewhat bemused by her admonition that the card could not be used to buy “Alcohol, tobacco, or fire arms.” I am not making this up. She really said that.
If this is not the day when I deserve a drink, I thought, what is?