Thursday, February 26, 2009

What would you save if your house burnt down?

Actually, the exact question was "What (people aside) would you save if your house burnt down?".

Well, now that I have the luxury of time to think about it, I'd say both my cellphone and my wallet. But that would be if I have the presence of mind to do it in panic mode. Of course if I had superhuman strength and speed or perhaps some teleporting powers, I would save all of my books first then grab some essentials like some clothes then my cellphone and wallet.

Unfortunately, experience has taught me that I operate on pure reflex and instinct in emergencies. When I was in college, I lived in a dorm in one of the buildings near the campus. There were four rooms in our unit and I was occupying one of the rooms. I guess it was a blessing that we had a housemate who was a Computer Science student, which meant he rarely ever slept.

Our housemate had a love affair with Erika (his computer) and that made him the most effective fire alarm in the unit. He proved to be good at it one time because he was the one who alerted us that a fire was already raging in the unit above us. He quickly woke everyone up and we all were just like fishes suddenly thrown into a vat of hot oil.

Thick smoke was coming in from every possible gaps and openings in our unit. It was past 2:00am already and we were all sound asleep. Luckily Mr. ComSci guy was awake so we had a chance to get out before we became fried meat. I grabbed one of my sports jacket and flew out of the door with my housemates like some strong gust of wind just practically pushed us out of the door.

It was when we were assembled at the basketball court a safe distance away from the building that our wits returned. We were talking about what happened then somehow got to asking each other what we ended up saving from among our belongings. It turned out everyone grabbed their wallets and almost all managed to bring their cellphones as well. I, on the other hand, ended up to be the only one who flew out of the burning building (uhm technically, a building with a burning unit) leaving everything behind except for a sport jacket.

My housemates thought I "saved" it for sentimental reasons (seeing that it was my first SEA Games jacket). However, my reason was much simpler than that. See, I was right in the middle of a good sleep and I don't sleep wearing a bra. I wasn't actually consciously thinking about it but it seems that my instinct at that time was to put something on before running out.

At the end of the day, I can't help but think, perhaps it's in situations like that when I get the chance to be truly free. Imagine acting by pure instinct alone, making decisions without fear, and just doing something without wasting time thinking too much about it may be the closest brush to freedom anyone would have.

Our unit didn't burn by the way. But our unit smelled like smoke for more than a week and some of our stuff got wet. And I did remember my cellphone halfway out of the building and almost ran back, which was a pretty stupid thing to consider doing at that time. I guess I always think about saving my cellphone because it's the easiest way to communicate with my family. It's always reassuring to know that such a gadget can connect me to them especially when in times when I just need a comforting talk.

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