Wednesday night, 10pm. Lain in my comfy bed, I was ready for a good sleep when the fire alarm went off. Again.
While walking down the hallway to evacuate the building, the feminine voice, which has now become familiar to all SueB* residents, started to speak out her repetitive alert message: “An emergency has been recorded… Do not use the elevators!”. Having lived in SueB during the academic year, I was used to these fire emergencies waking up the entire building in the midst of the night, but now, they have become too frequent. To help you understand the situation, two weeks ago, the fire alarm went off twice in a record window of six hours!
Guessing the reasons favoring these alerts is a no-brainer. Since dining services are reduced this month, on-campus students are pushed towards cooking and food ordering. The latter option being the less wallet-friendly, many of them, including me, opt for cooking and its associated downsides.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to think about the roots of our nightmare. My floormates made the same reasoning, accusing remotely the budding chefs. Initially, my reaction was no differentーcomplaint, frustrationー, but over time, I started to see things through different lenses. As annoying as emergency evacuations are, why blaming someone for a mistake while trying to cook?
If the fear of mistakes prevents you from cooking, you’ll have very little or no experience at all. The resulting lack of expertise will fuel this fear, and the cycle repeats. Unless you break it, you will be trapped and never progress. As Peter McWilliams puts it, “to avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all”. The best way to improve a particular skill is through practice, what often implies mistakes along the way. Sometimes, these failures have more or less impact on innocent people and can be embarrassing in some cases, such as ours.
After all, fire emergencies are not the end of the world. They are not that critical, and even have benefits. Did I say benefits…? Yes, they are an opportunity to take a short break, breathe fresh air, and meet your fellow hallmates outside. I forgot once to set up my phone alarm before sleeping, and I was grateful that a much louder sound (the fire alarm) woke me up at 8 AM!
I’m certainly not encouraging people to trigger the fire alarm. But, as long as it’s an honest mistake and doesn’t endanger the building, I’m not against you, future chefs.
*Susan B. Anthony Residence Hall
Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2021
Cover image from Unsplash.com