If you have been reading this blog, you know by now that trouble just seems to find me. Usually, I am out and about, and the forces that be, send the weirdos and troublemakers my way. However, lately, I haven’t even had to leave my apartment property.
Sometimes, late at night, some kids (about 15 year old Hispanic kid and his GF) will sit on the back steps going down to our apt. garage. Last week, I asked them if they lived there (the boy was by himself). He stated “No, but my brother lives in apt. 13.” When I came back, he had left some small trash on the steps. So, a couple of days ago, he is back with his GF. I ask them if they live there. She states “I don’t, but my cousin lives in apt. 9″.
I say, “Last week he stated it was apartment 13. Let me clear this up for you. There is no apartment 9. There is no apartment 13. 1-8. Now get out of here, don’t come back.”
They left…however, the next night, around 11pm, someone took a sharpie marker and wrote “Fuck you. Call 911″ in huuuuuge letters in the stairwell. Sigh. Kids. My landlord instructed me to just call the police if they came back, and not to confront them. He also stated that he would catch them. He said it frustrates his wife when he gets in these moods, and she calls it “The Hunt”.
Today, I got back home after 3 long days of work on commercials and films. Not 15 minutes after I laid down in bed, I heard loud footsteps. I look out the window and and see two African American kids, probably 10 or 12 years old, with big smiles on their faces. I hear them go upstairs…then the fire alarm sounded.
I was dressed in about a minute and out my door. Some of the neighbors were already outside, wondering where the fire was. I told them that the kids probably tripped it. Sure enough, as I walked down the back alley stairwell, I saw a fire extinguisher that had been deployed, right outside of our garage. A big fat thumbprint in the dust on top of the handle that one would have to squeeze to use it!
A neighbor said that he saw three small kids run down an alley, and pointed. I took off and searched. 5 minutes later, I came up empty handed. Walking back to my apartment where the alarm was still ringing, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is the fire department? They are only a mile or two away; what the hell is taking so long.” Figuring they would get there eventually, I got into my car to conduct a more comprehensive search. Still, after about 15 minutes of driving around the neighborhood, I still had no luck in finding the children. As I pulled into my garage, some 20 minutes or more since the alarm initially sounded, there was still no sign of the fire department, and the alarm was still going strong. When I called, the fire department had no idea that there was anything wrong. However, they did arrive in about 2 minutes. Good thing we weren’t really on fire.
I walked the alley a bit more, hoping to find these kids (I never did), when I heard sirens. As I walked up to the firefighters, one of them was bending over to pick up the extinguisher. “No! Don’t touch that!” I yelled, causing the firefighter to stop. “It has a fingerprint on the handle where they used it.” The firefighter then proceeded to pick up the extinguisher…by the handle. “Or…not. Fuck.” I stated out loud in disappointment.
“Oh, we’ll tell them (the police) about it.”, or something to that effect the moron muttered in response. Although I doubt that a 10 or 12 year old kid has been printed before, it could still have helped if the police found suspects.
Just as I let out a heavy sigh, one of the neighbors told me that the police were knocking at my door. I went up to meet them and told them what happened. I told them I had called the landlord and left a message (I only have a voice mailbox to call, no actually number to reach in case of an emergency). The police stated okay, as the firemen approached me. They couldn’t locate the fire alarm control box to reset the alarm, and thought it might be in garage, so, I offered my assistance…figuring (as the police flipped through their code book and muttered “what do we right this up as?”) that they would NEED my assistance.
We searched the garage and found nothing. When my landlord called me back, he directed to me to a large, 6 ft by 4 ft wooden panel, behind which was the fire alarm control box. By this point, the fire fighters had walked around the whole building a couple of times, and they also happen to know what this box looks like, and I assume have done this more than once…yet they couldn’t locate a 6ft panel…they also didn’t bring any flashlights and had to use mine. Again, so glad there wasn’t a real fire.
As they wrapped up their “investigation” (ha…HAAAAAAA!) they told me that all of the fire extinguishers hadn’t been checked since 2006, and the landlord has to have them done twice a year by law. They then asked me to sign a form making me responsible for firewatch until this was completed by my landlord. First, let me just state, that I love my landlord, and I am more than happy to do this (I was off work and staying home anyway). He even mentioned that he “owed me” in a sincere tone, and I told him not to worry about it. Like I said, he’s a cool dude. As for firewatch, let me explain: when something doesn’t work (alarms, extinguishers, sprinklers, etc), the fire department can’t just hang around for days until it gets fixed. Incompetent or not, they have real fires to take care of…or let burn…whatever they do or don’t do. So, they assign a resident (ME!) to walk around every half hour to make sure shit isn’t burning, and to be ready to call 911 if it is. So, I filled out the paperwork, and started my first patrol.
This was about the time that I remembered I had my old flash gear from my firefighting days on the at sea fire party in the USN (United States Navy). Of course, one of the reasons I didn’t re-enlist was that I am way to goofy to be a member of the military. To prove to myself that I hadn’t lost my goofy edge, I put on my flash gear, and proceeded to walk around my apartment building while singing “we didn’t start the fire”…although I only know that one line, and sung it in a loop. The looks that I elicited from my neighbors was priceless.
Flash gear is flame retardant (derp!) material that helps your skin from melting…neat huh? Besides a helmet, fire hose, and breathing aparatus, we also wear the flash gear underneath the heavy fire gear. Why do I still have it? None of your damn beeswax!
As I said about my landlord before, he goes on “hunts” to stop individuals from messing with his property. Who can blame him? Well, it just so happens that these kids used the extinguisher right in front of the garage, where my landlord has a security camera.
So I guess in the end, I am glad that I am a weirdo magnet, instead of a weirdo that pisses off a landlord with a vindictive streak.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY EVERYONE!