A fire engine just went by on the main street, horns blasting they way they do when little boys grow up to do a man’s work. I can barely see them now that the trees have given birth to their summer foliage. The woods that separates the main street from the campus is maybe two-three hundred feet wide so the blue, black, white and red vehicles that travel that street are just flashes of color tracking behind the tree trunks. The fire station is just around the corner----less than two blocks away by foot---which is handy given the nature of our private road that’s lined with an assisted living, an independent living apartment building and twelve town houses, a memory care facility, Hospice and an activities building.
The fire engine is here at my apartment building three to five times a month. One time someone’s toast got caught in the toaster causing the smoke alarm to ring down at the fire house. Any time a smoke detector is activated on campus it can only be turned off by the fire department so waving smoke away from your detector does no good. Another time the fire department came out because someone put a pot of water on to boil and she claims the steam set off the alarm. Twice a couple burned the steak they were cooking and as a result they strong-armed the CEO into buying a “community grill” to use outside but it sits by their door, too inconvenient for 98% people living here. They seem to get a lot of special privileges like spreading their lawn ornaments and chairs ten feet out into the public areas which our rules book says is a no-no. It’s not in my wheelhouse to snitch on rule breakers but if I was I’d start by reporting the guy who is feeding birds. He thinks because he’s using seed cakes instead of loose seeds in a feeder it doesn’t count. He’s on the second floor and the birds going to and from his deck are dropping do-do where the public lounge chairs are located for viewing the lake. It’s just a matter of time before someone gets poop on their head. It should be noted that it's my jealously talking here because I miss my birds, but I'm not brazen enough to break the no bird feeders rule. I catalogued 26 variations of birds at my old house. Here, I haven't even started a list. Hand me a tissue, I think I'm going to cry.
The fire department is the first on the scene for medical emergencies, too, and when everyone living in a place is over 65 you’re going to get to know their procedures. I’ve gotten good at telling which kind of call they’re coming to when I see the guys hop off the engine. I love guys in suspenders even if they are holding up turn-out gear for fighting fires. For fire calls, all the guys and gals on the truck will have their turn-out pants and boots on but only the lead guy will go in with a jacket, helmet and tank of something strapped on his back. Once that guy does an assessment, the next person to go into the building will have a box box fan and someone else will be charge of turning off the alarm. I’m assuming if there was a ‘real’ fire, the entire crew of six would be throwing on their jackets and helmets and the alarm would stay on like it did during our fire drill.
We haven’t had a big fire here but if they do I’ve got a hydrant literally two foot off my deck and right under my bedroom window so I won’t miss any of the action. As long as I’m not the source of the fire I’m good with that. The building has a sprinkler system so I don't expect a fire could get out of hand. I do worry, though, about living with so many older people. My neighbor admits to putting a roast on the stove and running off to the church. On purpose. "What if you got in a little fender bender on your way home or you got distracted and went out for coffee with an old friend?" I asked, "Your apartment would set off the alarm when that roast runs dry!" "I hadn't thought of that," she replied. Why is common sense so uncommon?
Tuesday we had our monthly “Dialogue” with the CEO otherwise known as a ‘Pitch and Bitch’ meeting where we residence listen to an upbeat spin on various issues and where some residences are more than willing to hold management’s feet under the fire for promises not fulfilled or answered with their classic phrase, “We’re working on it.” We’ve wanted a way to recycle from the beginning and just this month the management finally came through with containers in our trash rooms. Six months. It took four months to get our screen doors, too, but few of us cared in the middle of the winter. I was one of the first to order one (back in January) so I got my screen installed just in time for warmest temperatures of the season to pop. Others will be waiting until summer is almost over because apparently some people thought they'd magically appear when needed. And let that be a lesson to you: Learn to use apps and email daily because life in places like this is peachy-keen if you do. Otherwise you're getting your information like the old party-line telephone game where you sit in circle and whisper a secret in the next person's ear.
I would hate being in charge of the people who live here and our CEO is in charge of our sister campus as well where there are twice as many of us old people to keep happy. He can’t walk anywhere without someone putting a bug in his ear about something they think needs changing from smudges on their shower door the cleaner left behind to why can't maintenance just kill the geese? It’s interesting to watch a few people here who once-upon-upon-a-time had high powered jobs try to bulldoze someone who now has a high powered job and is standing in their way of getting what they think they're entitled to.
And last but not least, here is my public service announcement for anyone who doesn't think they'd like politics and gossip that takes place on a continuum care campus. You become one of those prairie dogs I wrote about last week. Easy-peasy. For me, it's entertaining blog fodder and lest you think that's all I do is gather fodder you'd be wrong. I average an hour or two a day to interact with others and that includes a lecture and Mahjong once a week. The rest of my time is usually spent by myself. By the way, I've won twice at Mahjong out of the five times we've played. I'm enjoying the challenge of learning something new. ©