Now for most folks, you just wait. But in a "For active Seniors" building, well, you have a lot of folks hooked up to electric 'things'. And in each building - or wing - when those 'fire doors' close? They're completely LOCKED IN. No stairs leading out because...the FIRE DOORS HAVE CLOSED AND LOCKED. And you know what else? Most seniors here aren't really...you know...active. And that means they're like...really SENIOR and a cell phone is a "I wouldn't have one of those things! They cause BRAIN CANCER!" futuristic, progressive, EXPENSIVE item most don't own, which also means they are completely cut off from the world - and HELP - when something like this happens.
And those of us living on the end of a wing (meaning we have access to an outer door and thus stairs, and thus ESCAPE) can't get to the ones locked in, not to mention many of us on the end of wings also can't USE the stairs in an emergency, so couldn't help them anyway...and to top it off, the automatic system this complex is SUPPOSED to have to let us know IN ADVANCE when THEY'RE going to turn off the GODDAMN POWER...doesn't work because WHEN THE POWER GOES OFF, SO DO THE PHONES, and guess what? They don't bother to check those of us with EMERGENCY CELL PHONES and CALL US ON THEM!
So...for 45 minutes tonight...this building had no power and the power was turned OFF by the maintenance staff because we had a HUMONGOUS water leak on the third floor and evidently to keep from being fried, they had to...you know...TURN OFF THE ELECTRICITY TO THE WHOLE COMPLEX...and no one thought to WARN us...or even tell the new ANSWERING SERVICE we now have (along with new owners) instead of our usual direct line to the maintenance man for after hours emergencies...like NO FUCKING POWER. Isn't it nice to have an ANSWERING SERVICE instead? One that works for HUNDREDS of customers and NOT JUST US?
Now, one might assume I'm a bit... PISSED, but don't let my caps confuse you.
I PANICKED and I'm not even on the 'inside' of any wing, but I realized if this had been a REAL emergency, I wouldn't make it down the stairs, and not just because I couldn't leave Abby behind (taking her would mean putting her in her case and trying to carry her down) but because I know I couldn't - really couldn't - go down two flights (actually two and a half) flights of stairs anymore, so without use of the elevator, I'd be stuck too (but I'd try to get one of the truly active seniors heading for the stairs to take Abby in her case!). But man, just imagine some of the others in this complex - like the ones who'd be stuck between fire doors or who can only move with the help of their electric wheelchair or scooter and thus, like me, unable to use the stairs?
Thank GOD this was just a maintenance 'thing' today. But you can bet I'm going to talk to the new office manager regarding the 'automatic information' system and how they need to A) re-establish it, B) ensure every resident has a cell phone, even if one of the cheap ones to use ONLY in an emergency, and C) ensure Maintenance USES it to warn us in the future and/or provide an exclamation AND override the fire doors, which I KNOW they have the ability to do!
I'm very glad I had enough Xanax left, I can tell you that. And clean underwear.
Yes, I kept hearing my mother's voice, "Never go around without clean underwear on, honey. You never know...."