Speaking of fire alarms.

When I was in college my dorm was notorious for having the fire alarm set off by people attempting to pop popcorn in a microwave and such-like. During my freshman year I tended to come back to my dorm room rather late. Or early, depending on how one looks at it.

One morning, as I returned to my room and sat down on my bed to remove my shoes, the fire alarm went off. I sighed and stood up to go back outside and wait for the firemen to come and walk through and give the all clear. As I stood, I noticed that, despite the extremely high decibel level, my roommate Jim (not his real name) was still sleeping. So I ambled to the door and opened it allowing the fire alarm that was directly across the hall to enter the room at an even higher volume.

Still, he slept on.

So I kicked the mattress and said, loudly, “Jim! Jim! Wake up!” He sat up, and looked at me blearily.

“You hear that?”

“Yeah.” And he put his head down and went back to sleep.

I kicked his mattress again. “Jim!”

He picked his head up. “Yeah?”

“What is that noise?”

“The fire alarm.” And he again calmly put his head back down and slept the sleep of the righteous.

Kicking his mattress a third time, I said “Jim!”


“That means you have to get up and go outside.”

After a long pause he wordlessly sat up and slowly started putting on his shoes. I waited to follow him out since, who knows, he could have fallen asleep halfway to the door. Later, when he was fully awake, I let him know that in the future, if I had not just walked in when the fire alarm sounded, he would be on his own. If I was uncertain about the time available to make my own escape, I wasn’t going to endanger myself by waiting around for him to reach minimum levels of functionality.

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