Tuesday, October 12, 2010

But we were taking a nap

While it's true that having children causes you to reassess your priorities; it's not exactly a shortcut to attaining altruism. We now value sleep as being one of the greatest of all possible goods. We go to great lengths to let sleeping babies lie.

So this only partially justifies our hesitation when asked to evacuate our home last Saturday. Katya and I had just laid down for a nap, when the policeman came to the door. There was a natural gas leak in the neighbourhood and he suggested that we leave the area immediately. Andrew only later realized how far eschew our priorities have taken us, as he hesitated because, "My wife and daughter are taking a nap right now, do we have to go?"

He was rationally considering the distance from the source of the leak and the diameter of the blast radius. We could be protected from the explosion by the basement walls...

And then maybe he noticed the odd look he was getting from the policeman. We did not in fact have to go; it was a voluntary evacuation. But could we kindly refrain from taking dangerous measures like starting our car.!?!

"I'll go wake them up," Andrew said.

Our flight from our home, lacked the intensity you might expect from such a feat. We put the baby in the stroller and walked down the block past the blockade of fire trucks and emergency workers. As we headed for the park where Octoberfest was in full drunken swing, I couldn't help thinking, were we later going to regret not grabbing a few family heirlooms or identification papers?

We stood among the lederhosen-clad revelers watching the Bavarian Strongmen pull dump trucks, laughingly wondering if all refugees face such surreal contrasts as they reach safety. I know the old masters understood tragedy, but polka dancing seems an insult worse than itchy horse-rumps. Were we going to return to find our neighbourhood flattened? "We'd feel the blast," Andrew assured me.

After a few hours of wandering the carnival, we safely returned to find everything still standing and the gas smell dissipating. A nap was the only thing lost.