Kim's Austrian Adventure

My year as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Graz, Austria. Yes, there are other cities in Austria besides Vienna.

11. Dezember 2006

  • Reading: Wladimir Kaminer: Russendisko

  • Listening to: Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Date with a Night

  • German Word of the Day: Löschzüge

  • Translation: Firetrucks

  • Example: Die Löschzüge sind an uns vorbeigefahren./The firetrucks drove past us.

Around six-thirty Sunday morning, our doorbell rang. Twenty times. I chalked it up to drunken idiots and buried my head under my pillow, trying to go back to sleep. Then, the door opened and shut, which confused me, but not enough to get me out of my cocoon of blankets and warmth.

Then, the fire alarm went off. I heard the collective groan of my roommates and we staggered about, trying to find clothes to wear. I managed to put on everything I had worn the night before and shuffled to the shoe rack, grabbing the first shoes I could find. (They were blue and pink Sauconys. No, they didn’t match, but I don’t really care at 6:30am.) Poor Chrissi ended up in high-heeled boots and her bathrobe. The head of the dorm burst into our room, screaming at us to get going. Then she looked at me and started translating – for some reason, she had forgotten that I SPEAK GERMAN. I reminded her as such and wrapped my scarf around me in a dignified manner, sweeping past her to the stairwell.

Once outside, we speculated as to what had happened. We smelled smoke when up on our fourth floor, but once we were at the ground level we couldn’t smell it anymore. I thought that the party on the terrace the night before had sparked it all, with some reveler forgetting to put out his cigarette completely. None of us had a clue what was going on.

Cue the flashing blue lights of the fire truck. Then, cue the fire truck blowing past our dorm (I thought taxis not finding my dorm was bad enough) and half a mile up the street. In the crisp morning air we could hear the truck in reverse, backing up and finally noticing the group of students freezing in the winter air.

There were a total of three fire trucks, four police cars, and five ambulances, blue lights ablaze. None of us were very concerned, though, as the fireman seemed to be very relaxed, chilling next to their trucks.

Around 7:15 we were allowed back in. When the five of us got back into our apartment, we all started to gag – it was thick with the smell of burned plastic. Turns out one of the drunken revelers from the party the night before had cooked something around three in the morning and forgot to turn off the stove, ruining the backsplash and shorting the electricity. Adding to the stupidity: the boys had taken the battery out of their fire alarm a year ago. If it had been there, they would have noticed the smoke a lot sooner. The door to their apartment is always open, which usually seems stupid, but in this case was a potential lifesaver, as it allowed the smoke to get into the stairwell and trip the alarm.

The cleaning lady is happy because it’s one less stove for her to clean.


At 11 Dezember, 2006 16:06, Blogger Adrienne said...

Ah, the joys of fire alarms in winter.

You and the girls need to hold the guy who started the fire down and kick the crap out of him together.

Come on, Kim-- show him what "Detroit tough" means!


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