Alarmed At 3 A.M.

I get up early, but 3 o’clock is even a bit too soon for me, especially during this Arctic weather we’re having since my heat barely comes up before 7.

The last thing you want is to have to get up for any reason, even to pee. I’ve often thought about a jar by the bed, but my Connecticut won’t hear of it…break that bad news to your bursting kidneys. 

In any event, I’m awakened by someone pounding on all the doors, not the most reassuring sound in the middle of the night. All it takes is one sleepy, idiotic person to open the door and…whack, robbed…left for dead.

I have to stop reading Raymond Chandler, but it is New York after all and this is not a doorman building.

I do what any sane Italian girl would do, I jump in my Uggs, go get my grandfather’s trusty rolling pin and stand by the door.

Wait a minute, I think…screw this, I should just call 911.

The woman says, it’s the fire department and they’re at your building right now. I run to the window and sure enough two trucks are double-parked flashing like in the Towering Inferno…just without Paul Newman.

“Omigod,” I say to the woman, “is there a fire?”

“No, but someone’s smoke alarm is going off.”

I hang up, throw my coat over my robe and pajamas and run outside just as they’re pulling away.

Unbeknownst to all, they had shut off our heat and hot water, apparently standard procedure.


But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I go back in when five minutes later there’s a knock on my door. I open it with the chain still on to find two pudgy policemen who came to see if I’m alright. The woman I spoke to sent them, just to make sure.

The alarm is still going off from an upper floor where the tenant must be away. I’m surprised the firemen didn’t break down the door which is what they normally do. I offer the cops water who politely decline probably hoping for donuts, then leave.

Suddenly the door across the hall flies opens and the little kid who just turned 8 comes out in his Popeye pajamas holding a stuffed alligator (see Howdy Neighbor).

When he said, “Are you okay lady?”

It made the whole episode somehow worth it.

Who said chivalry is dead? It might have to grow a little more, but it’s nice to know it’s just across the hall.




About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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23 Responses to Alarmed At 3 A.M.

  1. Nothing will age a person faster than those sudden wake up calls….Jesus! Thank goodness for that mini Cary Grant across the hall.


  2. Loretta says:

    A good finale for sure :). I’d have crawled back into bed after all that drama 🙂


  3. Elle Knowles says:

    Oh my! Everything seems to mess with your heat! Nice to know the little boy across the hall was concerned. A few weeks ago I woke before daylight with the electricity off and noticed lights flashing across the street. There was a fire truck and a city truck with a ladder extended into the tree. I never found out what was going on. H and Andrew slept right through it! Two hours later the electricity was back on. Go figure!


  4. That would do me in for the rest of the day. Sure hope you got heat and water soon.


  5. Lynn says:

    That’s a whole lot of activity in the wee hours of the morning! So sweet that the little guy across the hall came to your rescue. I can just picture him in his popeye pjs, alligator in hand!


  6. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, I hope you were able to get back to sleep after all the excitement. I had fire trucks pull in front of my building while on the phone; it was for two buildings away. No problem-o.
    My youngest son was wearing an oversized Popeye shirt when we adopted him at almost 9 yrs. Of course, I’ve saved it.


  7. Patricia says:

    I love firemen! They are always so cute…even the old or ugly ones are cute. Whenever they are in my building I have to go see them. Once they got me out the stuck-going-nowhere elevator. I was in heaven.
    Why does the heat go off during the coldest days and nights of winter and the air conditioner during the hottest? And why doesn’t it bother the cats?


    • I read that cats adapt to whatever the temperature is, as if they have a built-in thermostat. I was lolling in bed a moment ago thinking…I am so grateful the heat’s on 🙂

      And yes, even fat firemen are cute. Must be part of the job to charm you when you’re on the roof.


  8. That was sweet of him, to ask about you. I remember when I was in the volunteer fire department in our university town and I was the one running to the fire department late at night for those types of calls. Most were people in the dorms setting off fire alarms by burning popcorn. I remember one where by the time we got there, there was still 9 minutes left on the microwave and the hall was full of smoke. Some people… Did they ever figure out what set off the alarm?


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