It wasn’t because the lift wasn’t working. It wasn’t to help me prepare for the Great North Run later this year. It wasn’t even for a charity, for a bet or some random act of insanity either.
I ran down forty four flights of stairs to save my life.
The thing is I needn’t have bothered. The fire alarm I’d heard on the 22nd floor of the hotel in Qatar I was staying in turned out to be nothing but a false alarm.
When I assembled myself at the assembly point outside the hotel I soon began to realise I was very much alone. No one else had escaped! Could it be that I was the sole survivor? Eventually, after quite a bit of time, I began to accept that maybe there hadn’t actually been a fire. People were coming and going as normal, so I tentatively re-entered the building and headed for reception.
The receptionist told me they’d been “having a few problems” with the fire alarm. When I explained what had happened and that I’d actually descended all twenty two floors on foot, with legs like jelly, they apologised. However, when I then asked why I had been the only person to evacuate, all I got was a few blank looks. No one it seemed could explain this.
The box of chocolates I then received from the hotel made me feel quite a bit better. But to be honest, I remain confused.
I’ve often wondered what kind of person on being instructed to leave a smoke-filled aircraft would go back for their personal belongings. I’ve wondered what kind of person would carry on working despite news of a bomb threat in their building. What kind of person would refuse to wear a seat-belt, a hard-hat on a construction site or a pair of ear-defenders in a noisy environment.
Well if recent experience is anything to go by it would seem that’s most people. Thank heavens for health and safety then!