Friday, October 28, 2011

Road Trips & Stark Terror On The 8th Floor

Had to make a quick trip down to southern California to see my doctor, also to grab what I could from the storage unit. On the way down I stopped at the Coso Junction rest stop to toss some pork rinds to the resident ravens, which they LOVED. They hopped around jamming as much as would fit into their beaks. Also wandering amongst them in fine 'Which Does Not Belong' style was this little guy:

He completely ignored the ravens and the people who glanced his way and then did a double take. He just dashed around grabbing bugs out of the grass, perfectly happy.

Further down the road at Kramer Junction was this poor Arco sign, twisted and thrashed by the wind.

Somewhere along the line I left this little guy, who's crazy eyeballs were a happy accident and go with the quote perfectly.

I finally got into town and checked into my hotel, where I stayed on the 8th floor. Driving for 10 hours is tiring, so I was sleeping like a dead thing when I awoke to the clock radio's alarm, I'd drawn the blackout curtains so the room was full dark as I groggily sat up and reached for the radio.

It wasn't the radio making that noise.

Only one other thing in a hotel shrieks like that. The fire alarm.

As soon as I realized what it really was, and remembered that I was on the 8th floor, all my best cuss words started flowing. It's 5AM and I was more irritated than anything at first, griping, 'Of course. Of COURSE this would happen now' as I stumbled around trying to do all the right things you are supposed to do in a fire.

Looked out the window and listened. I DID hear a fire truck siren wailing, great. But don't see any flames or smoke. OK, that side of the hotel is likely not involved, that fact filed away in my head. I went to the door and felt it--it wasn't hot and no smoke was issuing from under it. I stood behind the thing and gently cracked the door, ready to slam it shut again. Nothing except the hallway fire alarms also screaming their brains out and the strobe light flashing. The hallway is murky with something hanging in the air, which is good enough for me, I'm outta here. No one else is around. I go to the phone and press the 'emergency' button...and get a recording which says cheerfully, 'Your session has expired' whatever the Hell that means in an emergency. When you think death is threatening you, 'expired' isn't the first word you want to hear.

So I break the world record for getting dressed and cramming my few things into my overnight bag. I grab everything and go back into the hallway, which by now is quiet and there STILL aren't any people around. Either everyone else is already out or they aren't bothering to evacuate. I decide to get my tail downstairs and after looking out the two hallways windows for signs of fire below, decide to chance the elevator, which works fine.

The lobby is quiet and no one is running around on fire and screaming, so I go to the front desk and inquire as to whether there is REALLY a fire on the 8th floor.

The guys actually laughs and says casually, 'Oh no, that's just the fire alarms in room 820 and 825--the steam from the showers sets off the room alarms and then if it gets into the hall the entire floor goes off.'

Oh. Ha, ha. How perfectly droll and amusing. Someone a few doors away from my room takes a hot shower and the fire system goes batshit.

I'm not laughing, and by now the adrenaline has well and truly kicked in and I'm shaking. I ask him how often this happens and he says that he's worked there for 6 months and it happens 1-2 times each and every week. He says, 'We're working with the fire department' because by now he's caught on that I'm NOT pleased and he's seeking to placate me at this point.

Since I've already had a middle of the night, honest-to-God fire scare in my own home, complete with a house full of smoke and having to haul my unresponsive child from her bed, I'm FAR from placatable. They hadn't even sent an employee up to check and see if it was just the fire alarms crying wolf, they just assumed it was the steam causing it again. The guy tells me I can go back up and go back to sleep. Ha, ha. Noooo, I think I'm awake for the day.

Suffice to say that when I returned home I emailed the hotel chain and let them know what was going on at this particular property.

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