At an Ivy League university in the middle of winter in a dorm of over 500 people, it’s bound to happen at least once a semester – the firm alarm at 2am. The screeching sound jolted me awake as I stumbled from bed, having just closed my eyes after writing my paper.
I awkwardly put on my coat in the dark as the alarm blared overhead. Opening the door, the bright light partially blinded my vision until my pupils readjusted. While I would have preferred to step in line with the crowd exiting the building, instead, I took up my post as the Resident Advisor, reassuring everyone to quickly leave the dorm and to please take this seriously despite the mumbles under people’s breath about how some idiot had likely been smoking too close to the building.
As we entered the grassy quad, a cold burst of icy wind smacked me in the face. If I was not completely awake before, now I was incredibly alert. Despite the massive exodus from the dorm of nearly 500 people, we were a quiet bunch at these early hours of the morning, huddled together waiting for the fire department to clear the building. I was entertained by the additional residents who now everyone knew were spending the night with a new friend.
I chuckled to myself while my Residence Hall Director called me over to speak with the fireman. “Looks like the fire came from your wing,” the fireman told me, holding up a charred aluminum can of soup. The Campbell’s can looked pathetic, the metal twisted and the flavor barely recognizable. I nodded, understanding my assignment as Nancy Drew, girl sleuth – track down the culprit. “Who would make soup at 2am?” I wondered, considering how fast the pizza place delivered.
Before we could re-enter the building, the fireman spoke into the megaphone. “Attention! Please note aluminum cans are not microwavable!” he then motioned for us to return to our beds as a burst of giggles erupted from the crowd. They were likely wondering just as I was, how someone at 19 years old did not know that was not proper kitchen etiquette.
As I began talking with residents, the culprit was identified. I didn’t have to do much work. “Whoops,” he apologized to me, blushing. I just glared back, chastising him with the daggers in my eyes. When you have “500 roommates,” you would think an Ivy League student would have the basic knowledge not to put a can of soup in the microwave. Unfortunately, common sense did not always accompany intelligence. I strongly encouraged him to enroll in a cooking class – after all, we did have one of the best programs in the country on-campus. Instead, he replaced the ruined microwave, and rarely set foot near the kitchen again, except strangely enough for band practice.