Levels of preparedness

I’m back from a 3-day hiatus to Monterey. The weather was great and sunny, the rain holding out until our safe return home. However, the trip was not without incident.

Last night…no, butt-crack of dawn early this morning (try 4am), the fire alarms went off in the hotel. I’m not talking about possibly dismissive hallway alarms, oh no. I’m talking about above the bed, blaring in your ear “An emergency situation is taking place! Please find the nearest stairwell and convene in the lobby! This is not a drill!” The intercom blasted over and over again. White strobe lights shone through the suite. We could hear people running down the halls and yelling at other people to get downstairs.

My first thought? Are you f-ing kidding me? This has got to be a joke, right? Someone pulled the fire alarm by accident and any minute the “emergency situation” would be over. Right? Right?!? We weren’t so lucky. The entire hotel was evacuated; all 13 floors. Fire fighters raced to the top floor where a “fire” had allegedly taken place then been put out…AFTER the alarm had been triggered, of course. Groggy and irritated, my husband, my kids, and I stumbled back to the suite once the all-clear was given. But that’s not what this blog post is about…

It’s about levels of preparedness. I kept thinking to myself, what if this had been a real emergency situation? I’m talking a tsunami-rolling-in, earthquake-rattlin’, building-coming-down kinda situation. How did I fare with two young ones? How did everyone else do? Lemme tell you…

There was a hefty middle-aged man wrapped in the disgustingly floral hotel comforter with nothing in his possession. He was sporting an awkward, shameful look on his face. His wife was hiding behind him, presumably nude as well. There were loads of families–every one of them in their pajamas, nothing of value in their arms except scared and bewildered children. Adult couples (sans kids) were dressed…tired and pissed off, but dressed nonetheless.

And now let me tell you about my situation. The second the alarms went off, my husband moved through the room like a cheetah stalking its prey. He wasn’t scared, panicked, nor was he moving fast like there was a fire in the building. He was calmer than I’d ever seen him. I was still in bed when he said, “Get the kids jackets on.” I got up and I did. Then I scrambled to find clothes for myself that would be presentable enough for the entire hotel to bear witness to. The Husband said, “Get your shoes and the room key.” I did. He scooped up one kid, I the other, and we joined the mob of people moving down the stairwell.

It was then that I took a good hard look at him. He was fully dressed. He had the truck keys, his wallet, our emergency information and a cool, collected look in his eye. He was by far the most prepared person I saw. Most people were shoeless, pantless, keyless, clueless. Yet here he was, looking like this was a walk in the park. Like he was ready for the tsunami to hit, his plan of attack ready. Hell, I didn’t even have an action plan for my hair! (You really should’ve seen it. Okay, maybe not. I was medusa’s spawn. Really. Not for the faint of heart.)

After I realized the stressful situation was over, his preparedness was almost laughable.
“You grabbed the keys and your wallet?” I asked, a shaken smile on my face.
“Of course I did,” he said. “Didn’t you bring your purse?”
Hell no I didn’t! I left my laptop and the jumpdrive with my book on it back in the room! How smart was that!?!

Then I remembered that in an emergency situation, being prepared isn’t about having your book safely tucked away in your pajama pocket…it’s about being saved yourself. It’s about having every member of your family accounted for and safe. Thank God we were. Things could’ve been much worse.

As for that man in the bedspread? Wow. His being unprepared reached epic (and quite disturbing) proportions. He would’ve been the naked man roaming the streets on Channel 10 After-the-Disaster news.

How do you think you would’ve fared given ten seconds to jump out of bed and haul tired-ass downstairs? Ever had anything like that happen to you? I’d love to hear some stories even if they’re anonymously posted!

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