Last night I was going to finish Accidental Empires by Robert Cringely, expect my book report any minute, so I sat there with my orange juice and my cigarettes plowing through computer hardware and software history since the 70’s. All of a sudden a fire truck passed by my window.
As some of you know, I live on the 1st floor, with a window facing the street. Apart from having strangers invade my privacy every three minutes, this make me the most updated man on current events in the street. A fire truck is nothing new, though. And thanks to the bar across the road that only opens for busses and emergency vehicles, I’m quite used to having blue blitzkrieg in my home, when a police car is waiting for allowance to pass.
This time the blitzkrieg lasted a little longer than usual.
I looked out. Was the bar broken? Or, more realistically, the mission aborted?
I noticed there were several big fire trucks there, waiting in line… Unloading shit… Raising the ladder…
HOLY SHIT! It’s in my building!
I opened my window and through a light storm equal to paparazzis around Paris Hilton saw that they’d blocked off the street, ambulances, firetrucks and police cars. People across the street, just eight meters from me, were making worrying pointing movements towards my roof.
Reality sometimes comes as a shock.
And I was determined to read my book. I mean, that was what I was hanging around for. I had to finish it. I’d borrowed it from the wife of my boss. But the blinking, blue lights and the growing crowd outside my window was kind of worrying at the same time. I’m a 22 year old 9 year old boy without insurance. I keep my most important stuff on a memory stick, and I have my backpack at the end of the bed. Not because I’m paranoid, but because the only things not replacable in my appartment, except from myself, is my written shit. And I am a little paranoid too.
I knocked on the door of one of the girls I share appartment with. She was watching TV, totally ignorant of the developing warzone outside her window. "Errr. Have you seen the stuff outside the window?" She shrugged, she hadn’t. "Maybe you should have a look." She did and panicked.
She’s a west-side kind of girl, not actually from the west-side, but from West Norway. In West Norway, people live in small, pretty houses, have decent jobs and goes to church every sunday. There are no alcoholics, no crime and no social inequalities on the West coast – at least not in the minds of the people there. And they think terrorists are waiting in every bush here in Oslo, thanks to Bush, ready to slice their throat or something. I should have known better than to tell her. Women are so emotional. While she was clutching her hand together, ready to pray, I obliged to her wish and decided to go out and find out what the hell was happening.
And all I really wanted was to read my book.
I rolled my cigarette, checked that my memory stick was in the backpack in case I would have to run back in and save my stuff. And the girl. Then I put on my jacket, did not tie my shoelaces and got on out into the chaos of emergency.
The thing about bystanders in any accident, is that they seem high on the knowledge that they were there first, that they know what’s happening. There’s a silent glee hovering across their karma, and if you meet the bastard who actually called 911 to begin with, you’re apt to hear his full story of how he walked along, going to see his new girlfriend and naturally thinking about her, when all of a sudden BOOM! etc.
As if you cared.
I crossed the street, lit up a cigarette – to the annoyance of a fireman standing next to me – and watched the show. The entire block was blocked, in addition to the people on the street all of my building were gazing out the window, trying to establish some coherent grip on the situation, and all that was really lacking was a fire. They were controlling the ladder towards the roof of my nextdoor building, lighting it up with big floodlights, but they couldn’t find a fart.
By the time my cigarette was finished, some of the trucks had turned off their sirens and lights, they were lowering the ladder and the police cars were on their way for coffee. I told this to the nervous breakdown inside, who were still afraid that yes, it had been a terrorist bombing, and I added to her fears by saying that smoke had been seen and I myself had smelled something strange. Which was true, but who knows what it was. I wished her goodnight, as the hero I am, and finally I could sit down and finish my book.
The things I must go through simply by being me. But I don’t think other people would manage being me. I’m probably the only one that can cope.