It’s 3:15 AM.
The fire alarm sets off with sirens and flashing blue lights and off goes my radio with Billy Blue’s voice in panic, ”Boss come in boss! The fire alarm is going off! The phones won’t stop ringing!”
“I’m on my way down the stairs.” The words slip my mouth before I realize I’m on the 21st floor, and that it would be faster to take to the elevator.
I push the button repeatedly before I realize it must have automatically been locked and sent to the subbasement. There must be a real fire.
As I grab the handle of Stairwell C, I realize Angel, Dark Mark, and Tahlia are at my tail with equipment in hand, “Leave everything in the room and take separate staircases!”
“Dude, I don’t want to fucking die in this hotel!” Angel lights a cigarette and slowly walks back to the room.
Dark Mark shrugs and grabs Tahlia’s sound equipment with his free hand and follows his lead, “I got insurance on this stuff, let this bitch burn!”
I yell down the hallway, “I have to run to the fire panel and talk to security. Evacuation site is at the park down the block. When this all gets settled, I’ll meet you all back in the room before sunrise.” I grab the door handle run down the stair case.
It’s 3:30 AM.
The lobby is a fucking circus. Firemen with gas tanks and axes run through my barricade of angry guests in boxer shorts, bathrobes, nightgowns, and lingerie. Between the yelling and the sirens competing for my attention, I have been handing out apologies and complimentary breakfast vouchers like FEMA during a natural disaster. Billy Blue is in the far corner juggling telephones, putting calls on hold, speaking on my behalf, and writing down phone numbers.
“I do apologize for the inconvenience sir, but the Fire department is currently investigating the source of the alarm.” I smile so hard it hurts.
An elderly woman in a hotel bathroom repeatedly slams her palm on the marble counter, “What about the fire? I have thousands of dollars worth of valuables in my room! Do you not understand that?! I want to speak to your manager!”
“I am the hotel manager ma’am. I apologize at this time as I am awaiting further information from the fire marshall!” I quickly turn around to look towards the fire panel blocked by the security guard and the fire marshall. I turn back around towards the guests and meet her fingers pointing at me.
She breathes out fire as I nod, “Apologies! All I ever here are apologies! This is your fault! I want my room comped for tonight!”
I look into her cataract eyes, “Ma’am the fire alarms are beyond my control. But what I can offer you is the opportunity to start your morning with a complimentary breakfast you can either enjoy in your room or in our restaurant.” I gently hand her two paper vouchers before I continue, “If you will please excuse me, I now have to speak to the fire safety director to get an update on the investigation.”
She slips the vouchers in her pocket begins to walk off. She turns back around and yells from across the lobby, “I would like to speak to your General Manager in the morning!”
It’s 3:45 AM.
The Fire Marshall reports that somebody had activated a pull switch on stair well C on the 18th floor. I apologize and hand him my business card along with several drink vouchers for the hotel bar. He hides them in his pocket and waves his men out of the the hotel. At the corner of the front desk Billy Blue is still taking calls off hold and informing guests of the false alarm, assuring them that there should be no further issues in the evening. Security stands by the fire panel behind me as I stare out the street and watch the fire engines drive away.
Billy Blue taps me on the shoulder, “Boss, it’s for you! Some, gentleman by the name of Dark Mark?”
“Tell him, I’m with a guest right now and that I will call him back.” I walk pass the security guard and around the desk and walk out of the lobby into the street.
I grab my phone and send a text message to the General Manager and hotel owners and update them about the false alarm. I call Dark Mark, “False alarm. Take the side entrance. I’ll meet you guys back at the room.” I hang up and walk around the corner see Dark Mark, Angel, and Tahlia down the block; each armed with a McDonald’s bag and drink cup. Dark Mark reaches for the door as Angel walks through. He bumps into a blonde woman and spills his drink on her. I hear the woman apologize and the three of them laugh before I swing back around the corner to head back towards front entrance and back into the hotel.
As I enter the lobby the crew disappears into the elevator. I open a housekeeping closet and pick up a mop and bucket and roll it towards the side entrance. Kicking blocks of ice out the door and wringing out the mop, the door to Stair well C opens and out stumbles one of the hotel owners, I help him up and start walking him out the door.
It’s 4:00 AM.
A Lincoln Navigator sits idling and the driver runs to help me carry the owner towards the car. He takes the man as I open the door. A blonde woman sits inside wiping soda stains off her blouse. She notices me staring and looks up, “Oh, hi Alfie!”