What To Do In Case Of Fire
in Scotland?: A Cuppa Tea?

By

Leonard Zwelling

         The night before we were to play The Old Course at St.
Andrews, I was disturbed from a sound sleep by a loud voice echoing through an
intercom in my room. It requested that I exit the room and the hotel as fast as
possible. It was a fire alarm and at almost midnight, it was surely no drill.

         The Macdonald Rusacks Hotel slowly emptied of guests in
bathrobes, shorts and jeans, out the back door onto the pavement of the parking
lot that borders the wide pasture that is the 1st and 18th
holes of the golf course. It was cold and windy and very Scottish, but there
was no relief. We were frozen.

We
were kept outside for about ten minutes and then let in only as far as the
lobby bar until the local fire department could come and check for fire and, if
none was found, reset the alarm. There was not a thing the hotel staff could do
to stop the droning warning to exit nor allow us to return to sleep in our
rooms.

         But this is the United Kingdom. There is always a solution.
Make tea.

         Sure enough as we crowded together for warmth and then
milled about the lobby waiting for the St. Andrews’ local heroes to arrive, the staff had
hastily made tea and was offering it to the huddled masses. Only in the UK.

         Eventually brawny men in yellow slickers and bright yellow
helmets showed up (it had to have taken them 20 minutes. Were they busy at
another fire?) and turned off the alarm and allowed the guests back in their
rooms. Apparently a very hot shower had triggered a smoke detector (did I
believe that?) setting off what can only be described as a lesser Monty Python
sketch.

The
hotel would have been cinders by the time the firemen showed up had there been
a real fire, but tea was served!

         Without a doubt, Great Britain is the most civilized of
nations. Its people are warm, charming, and unique. They are also quite varied
as the Scottish and the English are very different, but when push comes to
shove, and nothing more can be done, you offer a cuppa tea and keep calm and
carry on.

         What was so amusing is that the last time my golfing buddy
and I had been at this hotel in 2008, we did live through a real fire drill,
but that was at about 7 in the morning and in July, so not quite as chilly or
gusty.

         Obviously, Britain is not the empire it was at its zenith
and no longer a mighty naval power projecting force through its might. But
perhaps more importantly, in times of stress the British remind of us of our
best selves by showing the true grit that got them through the blitzkrieg one
cup at a time.

         This is a great nation and Americans ought to stop once in a
while and remember what a debt we owe to the British, even if we had to rebel
to start our own country. Perhaps a moment of thanks during the fireworks.

         So all of you depressed by the prospect of a Clinton-Trump
election, keep calm and carry on. Have a cup of tea. This too will pass.

            

Leonard Zwelling