Emergency in Las Vegas Airport

Sitting at the Las Vegas airport on the way back from Carrie’s doctoral recital at UNLV, an alarm goes off. I think I’m in a Star Wars flick. A woman announces over the loudspeaker: “May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please? There’s been an emergency warning. We are investigating the cause. Please remain calm.”

She announces it again. And again. Pause. I think she’s done. A minute later she starts again. If this had been anywhere but Las Vegas, I’m certain that panic would have followed her call to remain calm.

Another round of announcements begins but this time there is a variation: “May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please? There has been a fire emergency reported in the building. Please leave the building by the nearest exit. Do not use the elevator.”

She repeats the warning. She repeats it again. No one reacts. A quarter of the people are asleep. A third are hung over. Half of the remaining passengers don’t understand English. Of those who do understand English, half can’t decipher what the announcement is saying.

The other twelve people get up and leave. We’re among the dutiful dozen. Everyone else stays seated or in line at the refreshment windows or doing whatever else they are doing. Life goes on.

After five minutes they allow us back in. The announcement is still on a continuous loop: “May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please?” I’m not sure if I’m in Las Vegas or River City, Iowa.

Then a man’s voice drowns out the woman’s voice. I listen carefully. Unfortunately the background hum makes it sound either like he is being tasered or he’s sitting on a back porch in the middle of summer underneath an electric bug zapper. I have no idea what he is saying and neither does anyone else. But the announcements stop so I assume that either the danger has passed or airport security has realized the crowd isn’t going to move no matter how serious the emergency.

I find myself a seat by the emergency exit and wait for the next announcement.

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