A Strange Thing That Happened to Me

common room full of dehumidifiers

I’m a magnet for weird situations. Hardly anything can go off without a hitch for me. Case in point: the fire that happened in my college a few weeks ago. “A fire?” you might ask. Yes, a fire. A real one with flames and smoke. “An actual real fire?” Yes. At first, I didn’t believe it either. When the fire alarm started going off, I stayed in bed under the covers with the curtains drawn. I don’t condone doing this, but it was a bit like the fire alarm that cried wolf: I could think of five false alarms in the previous semester, with none of them being serious.

That’s when I received a text from my friend: “The fire is right above your suite. Come outside.” And reader, I did. I threw open the curtain and saw my entire college standing out in the courtyard staring at something above my head. When I made it outside, I saw smoke billowing out of a second-story window. Let it be noted that I was wearing flip-flops, and it was about 25 degrees outside. There were some gloves in my coat pocket, and I put them on as makeshift socks. It was…a look. Firefighters soon entered the building, and only a few minutes later, they told us all that we could go back inside. I was immediately greeted by a pink bucket in the hallway collecting brown water from the ceiling. Remembering that sprinklers turn on when fires happen, I prepared for the worst when I entered my suite that was directly below the indoor rainstorm. Fortunately, the only immediate damage I could see was a tiny crack in the ceiling with water droplets outside of it. I wasn’t too alarmed, and I went back to my bedroom to laze around some more.

This tiny crack in the ceiling didn’t alarm me TOO much. The facilities staff felt differently.

Cue a knock at the door. I opened it to find five firefighters and a few facilities employees immediately coming into my common room. As I looked up, I noticed that the crack on the ceiling had gotten longer. A few people walked past me and opened up a wall panel in the hallway leading to my bedroom. “There’s about two inches in here,” I heard one call out. Knowing this couldn’t be good, I texted my suitemate to come home. If there was standing water in the walls, I dreaded seeing what had become of his bedroom, which was directly below the room where the fire had broken out. To our relief, there appeared to be no damage at all. Regardless, I soon got a call from my college dean telling me that we would likely be temporarily moved to another suite while facilities could assess and repair the damage. We each packed a suitcase and prepared ourselves for a mini-vacation in…

My new temporary common room and bedroom, complete with blank walls and sheetless bed.

…Suite G14, an empty suite for such a time as this, exactly a one minute walk from our current suite. On the first trip over, along with my suitcase, I brought my sheets, pillows, and blankets, but as I got ready for bed the first night in the new suite, I realized I would need to make another trip to the old place: I had forgotten my lamp, bottle of Tums (I eat way too many spicy things before bed but I refuse to stop), and fan. Fortunately, I wasn’t forbidden to go back to my old suite, so I made the trek across the courtyard and found that the power to the whole suite had been turned off, probably because they were fiddling around in the walls and the ceiling. There were dehumidifiers all over the floor that I had to navigate around just to get to my room. I found my stuff by the light of my phone flashlight and made my way back to my new home, where I lived my life for the next week.

Quite the obstacle course just to get through to my room at the end of the hallway.

Six days after we moved, I realized I had worn all of the clothes that I brought over in my suitcase, and I made my way back over to the old suite to replenish. To my surprise, the dehumidifiers were gone, and the power was back on! It turned out that I didn’t need to bring over another week of clothes after all, and we soon received an email from our operations manager that said we were free to move back. While this will be an adventure I will never forget, there is no place like home. I know for sure that all of the beds in my college are identical, but I have to say, I got some of the best sleep of my Yale career during my first night back in ***my*** bed.