The Boy Cried Wolf, Not Fire

Is this a Hungarian fire hydrant? I actually don't know. (click to see larger)It’s not often that the statement “If there is a fire, we’re all going to die” is followed by laughter.  However, laughing in the face of death seems to be a strong Hungarian trait.

You may remember my first experience with a fire alarm a few months ago (if not, read it here).  That was when I learned that the fire alarm at my school is simply a loud noise to be ignored.  Trying to assimilate to the local culture, I now only complain when I hear the siren.  Fear is pushed aside.

Some people hear fire alarms and the situation turns into complete and utter chaos.  Just like in the movie Kindergarten Cop, people run out of the building while screaming and crying.

Others remain calm and focused.  They efficiently leave a building in a timely and orderly fashion.

My corner of Hungary seems to favor the third approach of ignoring it altogether.  Everyone seems to look at the alarm in the same way as a crazy street-person who’s harassing you for money:  ignore it and it’ll go away.

Yesterday, the fire alarm went off a few times during a discussion I was having in the school cafeteria.  We made some complaints about the noise and completely ignored it.  No one even blinked.  I didn’t think about it until later, and I realized that I probably should’ve been a little more concerned.

This afternoon, I was teaching a class on the third floor of the school.  As the siren started ringing through the building, everyone rolled their eyes.  Someone complained about what a nuisance it is, and everyone else nodded their heads in agreement.

Neither my survival instincts nor my responsibilities of keeping the students safe suggested that I leave.  Instead, I just asked if they ever have fire drills to practice leaving the school in case there ever is a fire.  They made it clear that they had never heard of such a thing.

That’s when one girl said “If there is a fire, we’re all going to die.”  We all laughed because it just seemed so ridiculous.  I looked at the far drop out of the window.  If the hallway was full of flames, the paved street below wouldn’t make a very soft landing.

My thoughts were:

Hungarian high school is exciting.  Now I hope they turn off that alarm, it’s annoying.


If you don't think this bread is cute, you're a bad person. (click to see larger)Hungarian word of the day:


Pronounced Eh (like the E in Bell) – Gare (rhymes with care).  It means “mouse”.  The reason for this is the awesome little mouse bread that I found at the grocery store (see the picture).  It was a freshly baked sweet roll complete with crispy ears, a soft tail, and raisins for eyes.  Finding things like this are the reason that I love shopping here – I haven’t seen one before or since.  It’s all about surprises.