As I sat in the writing loft in Angel’s Haven, a fire engine’s urgent call washed through the open window. I squinted and tried to focus on the screen. The siren’s cry rose. I heard a bleat, the horn of a chief’s cruiser. That’s in the park, I said, outloud, to no one. I ran downstairs.
As it happens, an RV on the row behind me had caught fire when its refrigerator exploded. I kid you not. Apparently certain years of certain models of RV have this dual-energy fridge, propane and electricity. For some reason, that year’s technology put the flame of the pilot light too close to the source of electricity, to disastrous ends.
Now a couple that has lived here for more than a decade sleeps with borrowed blankets in a visitors’ cabin. Someone went and bought towels; someone else got groceries. In the morning we will doubtless hear of more needs. A collection will be taken. Updates will appear on the Park’s Facebook Group for long-term parkers, of which I am one.
Before leaving to join a neighbor for dinner, I checked the flame under the coffee; I unplugged the toaster; I stood in the kitchen scrutinizing my appliances for signs of impending mutiny.
In the face of such loss, my missing Amazon order seems irrelevant. I called, though; and a new order has been placed. The customer service agent apologized and gave me a little credit. “It’s all right,” I remarked. I told her about the exploding refrigerator. She told me that she herself had just moved out of a home destroyed by fire. She had been sleeping in the basement and ran for the backdoor compelled by the shrill nag of the smoke detector. By the time she got across the street and turned around, the house had burned to the ground.
Her co-workers had gift cards for Target and other stores by the next morning, so she could at least have clothes until the insurance came through. “You never know how good people are until disaster strikes,” she told me. “I’m grateful every day.”
She expedited the re-delivery of my lost order. I thanked her profusely. She asked if there was anything else she could do for me. “Yes, there is,” I said. “For me, please, can you have a good rest of your night?”
“I will,” she replied. “And you do the same, for me.”
Her name was Meredith. If you have to call Amazon to report a lost package, and you happen to get Meredith, please tell her “hello” from me. Tell her that the rest of my night has been just fine.
It’s the twenty-sixth day of the fifty-second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.