Tuesday, July 15, 2008

During a Crisis



When we are in a crisis, our true personalities emerge. Suddenly, what is most important to us instantly becomes clear. While it’s interesting to take brief peeks at our true selves, no one honestly wants to be caught in those intense, panic-filled situations. Which explains why I’m nervous about my upcoming trip to San Francisco for the RWA national conference.

I’ve already been tested under fire, not once, but twice, yet I have this distinct feeling, another crisis may be upon me soon. I’m not looking forward to it, either. Seriously, I’ve been there, done that, heard the sirens and smelled the smoke.

And heck, I already know what I deemed most important: My bra.

That’s right . . . my bra. Not my purse, my credit cards, or my new shoes. Nope, my bra.

Some of you know about my good friend/writing partner on my non-fiction projects, Faye Hughes. Well, if you ask her, she’ll swear these crises are my fault. Don’t believe her. You see, Faye sort of has an allergy to … exercise. I’m a power-walker, I try to get in at least three miles a day. Sure, I may give Faye a hard time about getting those muscles moving, but I’m not guilty.

Faye and I went to the PASIC conference in New York a little over a year ago. We had a nice hotel room on the sixtieth floor. It was just around five o’clock, we’d just finished a day of conferencing, and were changing clothes and trying to decide about dinner. Then we hear it, a man’s voice. Since we’re in a hotel room, and Faye swore she hadn’t hidden a man under her bed or in the bathroom, suddenly hearing a man talking was a bit of a shock, especially when you consider I’m standing there half out of my bra. It wasn’t just the voice and my near nakedness, it was what he was saying, which was: “This is an emergency warning. Please stay calm, stay in your rooms until we further investigate the emergency.”

Now, I don’t know about you, when anyone tells me to stay calm, I just about always figure there’s a reason to panic. The first thing I did was make a joke, and refasten my bra. Then I hear it. Fire trucks. Lots and lots of fire trucks. I rush to the window and sure as heck, pulling into the parking below are at least four of those suckers, sirens cranking. My heart tries to play catch up with my pulse and believe me, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that there probably a couple dozen good-looking firemen attached to those trucks.

Faye, looking a bit alarmed, goes and sits down on the edge of the bed. I look at her as if she’s lost her marbles. “What are you doing?”

“I’m doing what they said to do. Staying calm.” She can be such a smart-aleck at times.

I shake my head. “Faye we can’t stay in here.”

“Why not?”

Because I’m sure the elevators aren’t working right now. Which means we’re going to have to take the stairs.”

“Stairs? Oh heck no! They said for us to stay in our rooms.”

I try to stay calm, but I’m failing big time. “That’s what they told the people in the twin towers on 9-11.”

Faye rushes to the window and pulls back the curtain. “On 9-11, there was a plane sticking out of the building. Do you see a plane?”

Right then another fire truck arrives.

So down the stairs we go. There are others doing the same thing that confirms I’m not an idiot. But of course that doesn’t stop Faye from shooting me the evil eye. After we make it about ten flights (amazingly I’m not in as good of shape as I thought I was) we run into a maid going up the stairs. Yup, up! Faye, in all her glory, asks, “Are we on fire?” And she wasn’t’ talking about the muscles in our legs either. Then she looks at me and I know if that woman says no, I’m probably gonna get my butt kicked.

The maid starts laughing. “Oh, no, honey.”

“But the fire trucks and the man’s voice,” I say.

“Oh, they do this all the time. If this place was on fire, I’d be pushing your butts out of the way to get down first.”

The man’s voice comes back on. “Everything is fine.” The laughing maid leaves me with a pissed off friend.

You wouldn’t believe the crap I had to listen to from Faye (for trying to save her life, I might add.) Then she actually accused me of tripping the alarm to motivate her to get some exercise.

Now, fast forward, to our next conference, in a hotel in Dallas--ninth floor. It’s one a.m. and Faye, I, and Teri Thackston are asleep. And darn if that man doesn’t start talking again. Only this time he’s not telling us to stay in our rooms. Basically, he saying, “Get your butts out of bed, find the emergency exit, and get out. Fast.”

The first thing I say is, “I didn’t do it.” And I start laughing. I always go for humor when panicked, but let me assure you, Faye doesn’t have that problem.

She’s a cussing up a storm, as she attempts to find her phone. She is NOT leaving without her phone. I mention her lap top and she stares at me like I’m nuts. “It’s belongs to my work. Let it burn!”

It takes me forever to convince a sleeping Teri that we have to leave. (But the smell of smoke helps.) I’m thinking she’ll want to change out of her Christmas PJs, (I might have teasingly suggested it, (hey, it is July, snowmen aren’t in fashion) but nope she goes in a frenzy searching for her pearls. She’s NOT leaving without her pearls.

Me, while I’m normally a little more modest, I’m cracking jokes and stripping off my PJs, in front of God and everyone, looking for my . . . bra.

Hey, “the girls” aren’t as perky as they used to be, as Teri and Faye can attest to, and if I’m going to be in Dallas with nothing but what’s on my back, that back is gonna include a bra.

We leave the room, Faye, still a cussing, clinging to her phone, Teri in her snowman PJs and pearls, me, with my hair uncombed, still giggling, but my girls are supported. So we start down the nine flights of stairs, with a couple of hundred other people in all states of undress. Some are putting on their makeup as they go, and I swear another lady had her toothbrush in her hand. But Faye really started cussing when we arrived at the hotel lobby/bar and saw everyone calmly sitting around in their business suits having late night cocktails eyeing us strangely. Apparently only two floors had to evacuate due to an electrical fire.

Anyway, Faye and I will be heading off to the RWA conference in San Francisco soon. It won’t happen again, right? Just in case, I’m asking for a room on the lowest floor available and I’m sleeping in my bra.

So what about you? If you were in a hotel room, and you had to evacuate, what item would you grab? What would you take the time to do? How do you react during a crisis?

50 comments:

bookmobiler said...

Well it sure as hell wouldn't be my bra!
My jock strap maybe, but no bra!

Christie Craig said...

Bookmobiler,

LMAO!

Thanks for the chuckle. Love it.

I'm all into the importance of support.

Crime Scene Christie

Nancy said...

FUN POST, Christie!

I've been in similar situations a few times, and I remember being tense but calm. I think I grabbed my purse, cell, and my "travel" envelope with e-tickets and the like.

Of course, afterwards the shaking set in!

Let's put out the energy that there will be NO fire or other alarms this time!

Light,
Nancy Haddock
La Vida Vampire

terrio said...

Is it possible you could tell me which floor you're on in San Fran so I can request I NOT be on that floor? LOL! I'm with you on the bra. There is no way I would leave my hotel room without a bra on. Fire or no fire.

Then the phone and the laptop. And my flash drive. Can't forget the flash drive!

PS: Faye has my sympathies.

Ruth said...

Hey Christie, I was in that Dallas location with you. I took my cell, purse and laptop. Fortunately for Allison and I, we only went down about 3 flights and figured out there was no fire.

Christie Craig said...

Nancy,

I'm with you. I'm sending out all kinds of energy. No alarm. No alarm.

Thanks for stopping by.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Terrio,

When you arrive at the hotel desk, before they assign you a room, just causally say, "Oh, I'm friends with Christie Craig, can you tell me what floor she's on?"

Then when they tell you, say, "Great. Now can you put on a floor, far, far away."

I don't blame you. I mean, what's with this crap...twice in a row?

And oh, I'm bringing my new lap top this time. So I'll probably sleep with it at my side, too.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Ruth,

So you weren't the one with her tooth brush? (smile)

I don't know why you guys took so long. Gosh, Jody, another friend in the room across the hall was banging on everyone's door up and down the hall. You have to know she was a army wife, always ready to deal with an emergency.

Crime Scene Christie

Teri Thackston said...

Okay in my defense, the pearls were laying on the bedside table beside my glasses, so I just scooped them up and put them on. Heck I had to wait for Christie to find her bra anyway, didn't I? And since she was still looking for her bra 30 seconds later, I decided to slide my jeans on over my Christmas pajamas so only the top actually showed. AND I had time to put on my sneakers before Christie found her bra and got it on.
Grins,
Teri

terrio said...

Geez, Christie, how long does it take you to get the girls shackled in? LOL!

Anyone else wondering how loose your jeans have to be to actually fit over pajama pants?

Christie Craig said...

Teri,

I had to find my favorite bra, duh? Don't you get that?

And hey, since all was well, except for our leg muscles, it makes for a good story.

Thanks for posting girl. We will miss you in San Francisco.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Terrio,

LOL. Sometimes the girls don't cooperate.

And let me tell you, when you start smelling smoke, you would be amazed at how quickly you pull any pair of tight jeans over anything.

Can't wait to see you in San Francisco. Don't avoid me this time, Terrio. Big smile.

Crime Scene Christie

terrio said...

Christie - I've switched from avoid to stalk mode. LOL! You'll recognize the difference. :)

Colleen Thompson said...

I'm definitely checking to make sure I don't end up on your floor. :)

Tori Lennox said...

The image of Teri in her Christmas pajamas and pearls has me giggling like a lunatic. *g*

Faye Hughes said...

Okay, I think I need to set the record straight. Or add a few details that Christie conveniently forgot to include.

Like when we were in New York for that conference. Christie asked me if I wanted to go walking for about 100 city blocks just for fun. I fell back on the bed and laughed for a long time. Anyway, she said fine, and then took the ice bucket and left to go get ice. She came back a few minutes later, without the ice bucket, all out of breath. Before I could ask her where the ice was, the fire alarm went off and she started hustling me down the stairs. All 102 flights of them.

Later we learned that someone had pulled the fire alarm on the floor above us.

Then, flash forward to Dallas. Christie asked Teri and I if we wanted to go power walking through greater downtown Dallas in 115 degree heat. We politely declined. (Okay, I laughed and fell over on the bed again.) Later, Teri and I were asleep when the fire alarm went off. I couldn't help but notice that Christie was standing next to the TV, out of breath, and that the ice bucket was again mysteriously missing. She insisted we get dressed - Teri and I calmly grabbed the most important stuff, her pearls and my cell phone and purse - while Christie wrestled with her bra. Anyway, it turned out to have been caused by a 'suspicious' electrical fire on the floor above us.

Are you beginning to see the pattern here?

Now, I'm not saying that Christie is responsible for all of these "false alarms" and "mysterious electrical fires" but I do know that both hotels charged me for a missing ice bucket.

I also know that I'm sleeping with one eye open in San Francisco.

Faye

catslady said...

roflmao - love the stories. I'm coming back later to hear any rebuttals. The worse I've had happen is having to go down 46 flights for a fire alarm in the office building I worked in. I was dressed at least but also in 4 inch heels.

Beth said...

OMG that is the funniest story! What would I grab? I would grab my glasses, my contact lens case (cause I hate my glasses), my purse and oh yeah... my bra! There is no way I would be running down a stairwell with my ladies jingling around like 2 cats fighting their way of of a bag only to be greeted at the bottom by a bunch of hunky, fully equiped firemen!

Keri Ford said...

See, when you have a small chest like I do, a bra is the farthest thing on the mind. I would have been after my purse (for id and other important papers) and my room key--there's no way they're getting me out of that hotel and not letting me back in unless it's burnt to an ash pile!

I'm with Terrio on the jeans. I'd be lucky to get them on over panyhose...even the control top ones!

Teri Thackston said...

Okay they were my fat jeans (I came prepared to eat...and I did) and it was a snug fit over the jammie britches. What I loved about the whole incident was while we waited downstairs ogling--uh--watching the firemen, Christie's agent came up to me and straight-faced asked me if I always wore pearls to bed.
Teri

Christie Craig said...

Terrio,

Hey...I think I might rather be stalked than ignored. Well, if you're not a scary stalker.

And hey, if you're brave enough get on the same floor and we'll all hang out in Ruth's room. Ruth always brings the wine and chocolate. Oh, and the coffee, with the coffee maker and Starbucks coffee, and different flavor creamers, and snacks, and real wine glasses, and extra beds. Ruth practically has her household items shipped to conference. Hey, even threats of fire are worth the Ruth advantages.

Crime Scene Christie

terrio said...

That sounds like fun. And as long as I keep my bra on, I'm all for living dangerously.

Christie Craig said...

Colleen,

Now, girl, your hubby is one of those firemen, so if there was a fire, the local fireboys would probably come get you first. And you write about dead bodies, and brainstorm about severed heads in the back of trunks. My point... you should be used to a little excitement. (big smile)

Thanks for posting.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Tori,

I seriously wish I'd had the mind to take a picture. It would have been priceless!

Of course, they might be able to say the same thing about me, running around topless, cracking jokes, and tossing clothes out of drawers trying to find my favorite bra.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Okay...Faye,

Guys, didn't I tell you that you couldn't believe this girl.

And I swear every time Faye makes a comment about the experience in New York, the number of the flight of stairs we had to go down gets larger.

Just remember that girl is from Mississippi. Which basically means she'll never tell the truth if a lie will make a better tale. Now, I'll admit, I'm from Alabama, and Alabama is pretty close to Mississippi, but in Alabama we only fib about our ex-husbands or women who look better in a bathing suit that we do.

Finding the truth is one of Faye's stories is sort of like finding Waldo. It's there somewhere, but you gotta look really hard.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Catslady,

Those four-inch heels would have done me in for sure. I'd been sitting my bottom and butt scooting down those stairs like a cat trying to hide a dangle berry.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Beth,

Finally, a woman who knows exactly how I feel!!!

This said, ouch! The description, two cats trying to find their way out of a bad, hits just a tad too close to home.

Thanks for posting.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Keri,

Hmmm...I wonder if there are studies to show that more small chested women escape fires that large chested women.

And let me tell you, when I talk about the girls, I'm not a bragging. I'd loan anyone a cup or two if I could.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Teri,

My agent still talks about that too.

Hey...you made an impression on her.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Terrio,

No problem, just keep your bra close at night.

Looking forward to seeing you.

Crime Scene Christie

Ruth said...

So now Faye tells the truth and to think we were just next door. And to think I will be sharing a room with her on Tuesday night in San Francisco. Perhaps I should bring my own fire extinquisher. or at least hide the ice bucket.

Christie Craig said...

Ruth,

Which means we'll have good coffee Wednesday morning. YEAH!!

We need to make sure your room is on the same floor so we can go for our morning java.

Hey...and remember the interesting photograph I snapped of you one of those mornings?

Faye and I working on the new video "Agent video" now. It's made the cut again, girl.

Crime Scene Christie

Crime Scene Christie

Natale Stenzel said...

LOL! Christie, I hope you realize your roommates will be hiding and/or replacing all of your bras at this conference. Or, better yet, tying all the straps together so they're in this long chain that you can string through your sleeves . . .

Okay, okay, if the building were on fire, I'd grab my jump drive and my glasses. and my contacts so I can ditch the freaking coke bottles as soon as the emergency is over.

See you in San Fran!

Christie Craig said...

Natalie,

Those are fighting words. (Big Smile)

I can be blind as a bat, but the girls will have their support.

Thanks for posting.

Crime Scene Christie

Lucy said...

A couple of years ago my then group gave a safety presentation on hotel safety. It was said you should take your room key with you. Which makes sense because, after all, your room will be the only one not burned to the ground.

Anyway, how do I respond in a crisis? I'm the designated hysterical person. I can be the calm voice of reason in a crisis so long as there is at least one hysterical person. But, if no one else is hysterical, I step up to the plate and take that on.

As always, a great post Christie. Since I'll be at the conference, I hope you don't have any variation of a repeat in SF. No offense or anything. :)

Ms, Terry in Gadsden said...

LOL about the bra Christie.

i think i would grab my computer thats got all my photos in it of my Nephews.
funny how we used to say grab the photo albums.

Christie Craig said...

Lucy,

Hon, I'm really hoping for no repeats. But I am really looking forward to the conference.

It's always so much fun to get together with a lot of other writers. Let's make sure we meet up.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Terry,

Thanks for stopping by girl. You should know, my bras have been important to me since fifth grade.

Hey...I'll see you right after the San Fran trip. I'll be home one day and then heading out to AL.

Hopefully, I won't have any crisis story to tell.

Crime Scene Christie

Jana DeLeon said...

People can just deal with the lack of bra, but my flash drive - that's a definite!

Remind me not to room anywhere near you, Christie. :)

Christie Craig said...

Jana,

Bras are right up there with the flash drive, girl.

Crime Scene Christie

Faye Hughes said...

Ruth,

I think if we hide the ice bucket, we'll be okay. Still . . . I'm sleeping with one eye open.

Faye

Faye Hughes said...

And, Christie, it's like a good fishing story. The trout keeps getting bigger each time you tell it.

Faye

catslady said...

LOL did we ever hear what was happening with those missing ice buckets?

Christie Craig said...

Catslady,

First, Faye lies. Second, if those buckets were missing, I'd suggest someone serch Faye's luggage. (Big Smile)

Crime Scene Christie

Shelley Munro said...

Christie - I need your photo. I think you're jinxed, and I don't want to room near you at SF. ;)
If you won't send a photo I'll have to look out for ladies bearing ice buckets! LOL - I loved your story.

I think I'd grab my passport. I never want to go through the stress of getting a temp one.

Christie Craig said...

Shelley,

Look for a short woman, blond who needs to drop a few pounds, wearing a hat.

And oh, goodness, don't use the "J" word. I'm really hoping not to have to run the stairs this time.

Thanks for posting.

See ya in San Fran. Stop by and say hello.

Crime Scene Christie

Faye Hughes said...

My theory, catslady, is that she needed the extra few inches of height the ice buckets gave her, so she could reach the fire alarm and pull it.

Plus, if she got caught, she could just say she was out to get ice and got lost.

Faye

Christie Craig said...

Okay Faye,

I've been trying to place nice here. Just because I'm height challanged, doesn't mean you can poke fun at me.

By the way, Faye and I are doing two workshops in RWA. One is on Teamwork and Collaboration. And believe me Catslady, we will discussing her attitude.

It should be fun.

Crime Scene Christie

RachaelfromNJ said...

OMG Christie! You are TOO funny! I was laughing through this whole post! If I was in a place that was on fire, I would have to take my favorite stuffed animal Chilly Willy with me because I would be devestated if I lost him. And I would surely have a bra on! No way I am going out without my bra!! LOL

Christie Craig said...

Okay Rachael,

I got you down for one bra and one Chilly Willy. Too funny.

Thanks for stopping by.

Crime Scene Christie