In college, I lived in a coed dorm with some of the best girls I know. Our sophomore year we started a freshman girls' Bible study. I think we met at like 9 o'clock at night. (now if something starts at nine, I assume I'll be asleep by the end of it) One night just before group I realized that I really needed to get some laundry knocked out. I would usually sit with my clothes and get work done, so they didn't walk off in anyone else's basket, but sometimes you just need clean clothes. I was able to push my loads through in the basement laundry room, and went down to check on everything just before group started. However, when I got back down there, there was a strange haze in the hallway. I assumed some doofus boy had malfunctioned something. There was the faintest smell of burning plastic. What idiot would put something plastic in a dryer?
I went into the room and realized there was some smoke coming from MY dryer? Uh oh. This is what happens when you don't sit with your clothes. This is why I follow rules. I was pretty sure my load was all clothing. I pulled open the dryer and let out the equivalent of the Lost smoke monster. I started pulling out items frantically. It was a load of whites, for Pete's sake. That's when I felt the hot steamy almost-runny cream sweater. It was melting. It was acrylic and not meant to be dried.
About the time I figured out what happened, the fire alarm started going off. Now, imagine an alarm loud enough to wake up 300 sleeping college students and add about 50 decibels. I took my partly dried clothes, melting sweater and hauled my basket outside. I saw all my bible study girls after a few minutes. They had all been in our room on the fourth floor. The RA's were going nuts because this wasn't a scheduled drill. What could have happened? I still wasn't putting two and two together.
Folks started talking about smoke in the east laundry room.
Oh my dearJesusinheaven...please. I was the only person out there with a steamy pile of laundry and more in other dryers. Fire trucks came. We were all cleared to go back in, but not before most people I lived with were aware that I had just wasted a good 40 minutes of their lives with an acrylic sweater. Later that evening, the resident director came up to see me, and was surprised to find our room with 15 girls in it. He good-naturedly asked me to be careful with my laundry and gave me a Winthrop water bottle in case we had any future need to put out a fire. Since he came armed with a bag of them, all the girls in the group got one too.
So, this is what we learned:
1. If you must do your laundry in a public place, stay with it. You never know what those sweaters, sheets and undies are up to when left alone.
2. Only buy sweaters made from cotton. It's an actual fiber, and won't melt under regular circumstances. And really, it just feels better. I will not even give acrylic a second look anymore.
3. If you take an evening shower, put your hair in rollers, put on your cozy cow nightshirt and giant cow slippers...the fire alarm will go off. Yes, this was a separate incident...but they're all things I learned about fire safety in college. Because when you live on the seventh floor and are suited up as such, the boys going down all those flights of stairs will moo at you, and you'll have to stand outside for a while next door to the all male high rise dorm.
I'm pretty scarred from my college fire evacuation experiences. The most important thing is that you all can learn from this...right?