Cats to the Rescue!

When I opened my front door on Wednesday morning, I choked on smoke. Clouds were billowing from the Verizon parking lot next to my apartment building. Was Verizon going up in flames?

This is the Verizon Building. Or CIA headquarters. My house is the little white building, just visible on the left.

I walked briskly down the sidewalk, trying to catch a glimpse of the fire. But the walls around the parking lot blocked all view. Surely it was a Verizon van? Two old women and a young man congregated at the end of the block. As I approached, the gentleman exclaimed, “Wow man, is that a fire?” No man, it’s a Giant taking a shower. I mean, really.

Wasn’t anyone going to do something? This was an example of the Kitty (CAT!) Genovese Bystander Effect! The responsibility to take action was being diluted! I needed to step up to the plate! And heck, should the wind take an unexpected turn, my building would go up in flames! So I picked up the phone and dialed 911.

As the phone rang, I shivered in my boots. What if it wasn’t a real emergency? What if it was just a… bonfire? In middle school, my guidance counselor, a terrifying, ogre-like woman with an over-sized mole on her chin, would waggle her finger at us during her bi-annual “what-to-do-in-an-emergency” lesson, and growl, “If you call 911 and it’s NOT an emergency – you will be prosecuted by the law.” Her twelve-year-old audience shivered in fear. Was I headed straight for the cooler*?

A woman picked up on the other end of the line, “911 how may I help you?” She sounded bored and annoyed. I was rather taken aback. Wasn’t she supposed to be caring and attentive? What if my infant was choking on a grape? Wasn’t she supposed to say, “This is 911, and we’re here to help!” But alas, no time to consider her customer service skills. All I could do was get on with business. “Yes, I’m calling to report a fire on Scholes Street, between Lorimer and Leonard…”

She forgot to put me in the book but that is basically what I looked like in action.

Within minutes, sirens were wailing, and fire trucks were speeding to the scene. My duty was done. I was having trouble breathing  in the hazy stink and I was going to be late for work, so I left. As I walked away, I envisioned my building going up in flames, and tried to guess how much insurance I would collect. In turn, I fantasized about buying an entirely new wardrobe, new leather boots, a pleated wool skirt… God forbid!


  1. The Bystander Effect is real!
  2. Middle school guidance counselor  = menace.
  3. Back up career plan: Emergency Customer Service Coach.

* slammer, can, joint, pen, prison, clink, pound, bullpen etc.

Rosie (the Cat)


One response to “Cats to the Rescue!

  1. What a lovely idea for a blog, Rosie! I hope that the fire down the corner didn’t turn out to be too bad…

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