Despite Popular Hysteria, Fire Not so Threatening

"Do we have the computer backed up?”

That was the question from my nearly 50-year-old mother, a
poster child for living young-at-heart. A petite woman, she has always prided
herself on a high threshold for danger. Never in my life, however, have I seen
her so distraught as the day my house barely escaped utter demolition.

I come from a fairly irrelevant Orange County town where
wildfires are far from uncommon and they always seemed to work themselves out
in the end. At the first sign of a firestorm’s subsidence, families would
resume innocent rounds of Frisbee, catch and other storybook activities.

This past week, there was no ebullience to speak of. An
uncontained fire spawned torched houses, scarlet skies and helicopters buzzing overhead. In other
words, my once pristine and cheery neighborhood had been transmuted into a bona
fide war zone.

Never a hero, I decided to return to school, hoping for a
change of scenery. I was aware of the fires that had taken hold of San Diego,
but knew UCSD was in no tangible danger. So no one could possibly blow things
out of proportion. Needless to say, I was dead wrong.

I understand that proliferating ash and smoke could pose a
potentially noxious threat to people suffering from pulmonary or cardiac
conditions, but for UCSD’s healthy bookworms I doubt that two-minute walk to
Cafe Ventanas would cause any permanent damage. Spare me the frantic scramble
for those heinous-looking masks.

I find it funny that a youthful population so entrenched in
delusions of invincibility can be this terrified of something so unthreatening.
Air quality aside, UCSD’s physical campus was in no danger, so why the
melodramatic rumors of campus evacuation?

Given the circumstances, I find it entirely reasonable to be
concerned for one’s general well-being, especially those with asthma. But for
the rest of us, we were never officially instructed to evacuate (and if we were
it would have been appallingly unfounded) so take it easy, UCSD.

Your cherished dorm room will not go up in flames. Classes
will soon resume and your postponed midterms will be just as much a headache as
they were before the alleged on-campus disaster. Godspeed, Tritons. If I can be
so optimistic: When the next catastrophe strikes, let’s hope we’re equipped
with full-body bio-protection suits — and maybe some freeze-dried omelets or
something for good measure.

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