During the first night of the NJRW conference, I was awakened by a loud strange sound and a calm but insistent voice. At first I thought it was the alarm clock, but as I began to wake more fully, I realized it was coming from the wrong part of the room.
At that point of semi-conciousness, the word "emergency" cut through my sleep filled haze. The fire alarm was going off.
I squinted at the unreliable alarm clock to see that it was a little after four am. I jumped out of bed. Checked to see that my roommate was doing the same. Shoved on dress shoes and socks. Grabbed my computer bag, room key and coat and hoofed it down the hall and one flight of stairs where many women were lingering in the lobby -in several stages of dress and very interesting outfits and hairdos- looking probably a lot like I did.
My roommate and I were more with it than the lobby lingerers, and we proceeded to exit the building in an orderly fashion to the overhang. Because much safer than inside the building is ten feet from the door.
I noticed that for a conference of about 300 people, there didn't seem to be that many guests out of the building, but I assumed they went out other emergency exits. All of the sleepy-eyed half dressed people milled around, asking the question and postulating hypotheses.
There were several Asian guests with their phones out, videoing all the romance authors in their different states of undress, so who knows, the whole incident may end up on Youtube somewhere.
The police showed up and entered the lobby. They were very cute, by the way. Since they didn't force the lobbyists to vacate the building, we decide it was safe to go back in.
The very polite security guard made the appropriate apologies and we waited for the fire department to give us the all clear to go back to the room. Which they did after about forty minutes.
Tired, but understanding we all trudged back up to our rooms to reset unreliable alarm clocks to squeeze in an extra few minutes of sleep.
At about 5:15, that polite voice and strobe light were back. Roommate and I trudged back down the steps, this time I was not as hard core and didn't save my wips by lugging along my computer. We lingered in the lobby and grumbled with our neighbors about the crappiness of being inconvenienced.
After about twenty minutes, since the fire department was quicker to respond, (probably because they hadn't even gotten back to the station yet) we were sent back to our rooms.
When the alarm went off two more times at six, we didn't even bother. I just got in the shower and started on my day.
We found out later that only the first three floors were affected by the alarm. They said the cause was a guest smoking in their room. At lunch the human resources person from the hotel apologized and there was candy and complimentary bottles of wine on the tables for us.
It made for an interesting day and a tough ride home since we were so exhausted.
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