I was on the phone this afternoon with my mom in Texas. I'm outside, bundled up in a heavy coat on the balcony of my apartment because Mom rang just as I'd darted in.
As we were talking, she was watching CNN and said, "Oh, there's is big fire in Chicago." I didn't think anything of it.
A little while later, I was taking down the pinwheel from my balcony that the wind had shredded to pieces (see previous post)
and noticed lots of smoke billowing up from the south side of downtown.
"Huh," thought I.
"That's close to where I work," as I freed the mangled pinwheel from the railing with a chef's knife and a pair of vice grips.
I was very busy with school work and didn't give it a second thought. I was busy completing two papers, studying for a mid-term, and had a presentation to present in tonight's class.
After two separate trips to Starbuck's, five hours of writing, two hours of studying, I was prepared for my evening class. One of my classmates mentioned that he was almost late because the EL had been closed down due to a big fire on S. Wabash Ave.
"Hey," said I.
"I work on South Wabash. Where was the fire?"
"On the 600 block," said he. "Next to Harold's Fried Chicken."
"Next to Harold's?!" exclaimed I.
"That's where I work! Their wings are incredible!"
"Ssshh! said Instructor.
The mid-term was then handed out.
At the break during class, I wanted to call my workplace to see if, well, to see if it was still there
. I didn't have my cell phone with me -- I'd left it in my desk at work!
I borrowed a classmate's phone. No one answered at work.
Not even the security guards. . .
. . . Not a good sign.
I had to go back into class because I was scheduled to give my presentations on Moderation Management meetings (they're like Alcoholics Anonymous, only you can drink in moderation) and Debtors Anonymous meetings.
Meanwhile, I was worried about my clients who were probably homeless again, my office, my means of earning a living, my direct-deposit.
Hell, I'd just bought a pound of Starbuck's Italian Roast and had stashed it in my desk!Oh my God! (BTW - I'm a substance abuse counselor for a public housing facility that contains 170 little apartments for the disabled, the homeless and those that are really f**ked up, to use clinical terms)
The moment class was over, I hauled
it, seven blocks to my workplace. I couldn't get very close to it because of all the smoke, fire engines, police tape and emergency personnel. . .
. . . Not a good sign.
I got close as I could and there was the large brick building connected to our facility, still burning away. It had been on fire for hours and the firefighters couldn't put it out. It was a very old, abandoned building and the fire was, apparently, blazing within the walls of the building.
My office on the top floor, my beautiful little glass office on the roof deck, was being inundated with uncontrolled hurricane-like billows of black smoke. Lots of blinking fire trucks were blasting the sides of our building with screaming water, trying to keep the fire at bay and the common wall saturated with water.
It really was pretty incredible to see my office engulfed in water and smoke like that. It was so quiet and dark, yet so violent. That's the first thing I saw.
No. The worst part was that I couldn't see any lights on in the whole building. All 170 apartments were completely dark.
I managed to pull aside a young police officer -- (which is always just a smidge bit of fun in my book) -- and told him that I was a counselor in the building. He was jocular and said that I might look forward to a few days off from work.
I then got awfully serious
with the young police officer -- (which is always just a smidge bit more
fun in my book) -- and he said that no one was hurt, but they were trying to find shelters for the residents. Would I be able to put up a couple of people?
I told him I couldn't. (As their counselor, I can't even give the clients my home phone number, much less, have them stay in my home).
So, I'll be going into work at our main office tomorrow. We have a temporary shelter there and, hopefully, most of "my babies" have ended up there. I'm sure that many of my f**cked-up have ended up there, too, and will be demanding hotel reimbursements from the Hilton on Wabash.
Oh yeah. I went online and found the news report
of the five-alarm fire.
(BTW - I just got an email -- the resident's apartments are fine and they'll be a
ble to return the day after tomorrow.)
Here is a pic of it from Fox News Chicago. My office is the
little glass knob on top of the building to the right. I've isolated it in the second pic; my office is toward the left, hidden by the smoke.
But, yes, that's my office. The one with the pound of Starbuck's Italian Roast jumping to its death.