Sunday, August 31, 2008

False Alarm in Vancouver


"Honey! What is that loud bell ringing for?" my wife said as she tugged at my shoulder across the twin beds.
Startled! We jumped to our feet, turned on the lights, looked across at the television where the digital clock shouted 1:23 A.M. As the bell continued, we sought to dial the hotel desk. No answer! People and panic became obvious outside our door as the sudden awakened attempted to push the button for the elevators. No response. They had been shut off. Now it was evident we would walk down 34 floors to our safety. Finally, we found the exit stairway, and in our haste we were on our way along with others who were as alarmed.
This hotel, one of Vancouver, British Columbia's most beautiful, had attracted people from many parts of the world, and they were like us making their way down the same exit tunnel. Many Japanese and Chinese that were a part of another tour group staying on the same level were passing us one by one. We didn't understand what they were saying, but one sound reflecting the same word came from their lips. In their near panic it must have been, "Hurry! Hurry!" We did! But not at their pace.
Finally, we made it to the plaza level, and couldn't exit. One Oriental lady who spoke English shouted, "This door is locked! Is there another way?" Since I was at the top of the stairway I turned to an outside door, looked down the hallway and saw another exit way. "This way!" I shouted. Again the throng advanced.
Then four more flights later we opened the outside door to a ground level parking area with steps leading up and out to the street and a large open area across where at least a couple hundred people were standing.
Blinking lights from two huge fire trucks spoke as they rotated in the darkness. A second glance revealed a harried, but presentable group of people from so many countries.
After a few minutes a loud speaker broke the sound with, "This is the hotel manager. We want to advise you that this has been a false alarm. Please return to your rooms. It is safe! I repeat, it is safe."
Well, we were not the only ones that didn't move. Most remained and didn't make any motion of leaving. After a few loud speaker announcements and the removing of the fire engines the crowd began to disburse. My wife and I, and some Delta Airline friends who we had met on our trip back in Alberta, decided to sit in the lobby for a few minutes before returning to our rooms.
In a few minutes one of the many night managers came by to reassure us of our safety. "A man was smoking a cigar on the 33rd floor, a non-smoking floor, where a fire detection device detected it and set off the alarm," she said. "It has turned out to be a false alarm thank goodness," she continued.
False alarm. What a long fierce walk (or should I say run) for just a false alarm. However, life presents its time of alarms for us so we can consider our ways, our destiny and to recheck for our exit.
We returned to our 34th floor room and our friends to the 21st, but somehow we wanted to visit the 33rd. But after thinking it over we were glad just to return.
This Bible verses continues to comfort me when I am weary: Psalm 4:8, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makes me dwell in safety. “

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