#atozchallenge: Inadvertent

Welcome to the 2022 edition of The Blogging From A To Z April Challenge! Throughout April, I and a couple hundred of my best friends are going to be taking a tour through the alphabet, posting something for each letter of the alphabet every day except Sunday. My theme this year is words that start with the prefix in- followed by the letter of the day. Sound good to you? Good! Let’s get started…

inadvertent

When you do something inadvertently, it was an unintentional result of you being careless or not thinking through what could possibly happen before doing it. We’re all guilty of doing this sometimes, some of us more frequently than others.

When I was in fifth grade, after lunch we would line up and file into the building single file and make an orderly trip to our floor and classroom. Mother Edmond Mary, our nun that year, would give the key to the classroom to the guy at the front of the line, and he would unlock and open the door so we could all go in. This one day, a guy named Tim was responsible for unlocking and opening the door. When he opened the door that day, he let it swing wide open, where it hit a fire alarm box, tripping the fire alarm. All of us who were on the stairs did a rapid about-face and left the building, going to our designated location on Loyola Avenue.

Usually, within five minutes, we got the all-clear and would file back into the building, but this day we stood outside for a long time, not knowing what had happened, until the fire engines came roaring up and turned down Loyola Avenue. Had this been a fire drill, the connection between St. Ignatius School and the fire department would have been shut off, but apparently it hadn’t been.

The Chicago Fire Department officers searched through both buildings and discovered the alarm box that Tim had hit with the door, and when we went back into the building they corraled him and started giving him the third degree about why he had pulled the fire alarm. They didn’t seem willing to accept that it had happened by accident, that he had inadvertently hit the box with the door. We were all in the classroom listening to all of this, and finally someone asked him to demonstrate. When he hit the box again, it set off the fire alarm, and we all applauded, knowing that he was off the hook. He got his ass chewed out for letting the door swing like that, but wasn’t punished for setting off the fire alarm, and by the following Monday the box had been replaced.

Until I researched this, I didn’t realize that inadvertent was based on the word advertent, which as you might expect means "paying attention; attentive; heedful." I had never heard advertent or advertently used that way. The things you learn in this job…

43 thoughts on “#atozchallenge: Inadvertent

  1. I’d say any fire alarm that is inadvertently set off by a swinging door (which are meant to open, obviously) is a poorly located fire alarm and it should have been the building superintendent that got chewed out. I also hadn’t been aware of advertent either and neither dose my spell checker apparently.

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  2. Interesting word and how it changes with just the prefix. I have lots of those inadvertent moments! haha 🙂
    Funny story now about the fire alarm, and I’m glad it all worked out okay in the end.
    Great start for A to Z 🙂

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  3. I never thought about the fact that inadvertent would mean there was an advertent…as you say, things we learn.

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  4. Love the anecdote and your theme. Will definitely look out to see how you cope with the challenging letters. We had to fit flaps on the fire alarm points at school so that it was harder for them to be set off accidentally, especially for the very young kids who were drawn to the red shiny boxes with a big red dot that just begged to be pressed lol.

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    1. Sometimes I think they swhould paint them a different color, like green, so the kids wouldn’t be tempted, but then I realize that red means “fire” and green might confuse some kids. But this wasn’t a case of someone deliberately puiling the alarm, it was a case of the door hitting it and knocking it loose. They had gone through over the summer and replaced most of the alarm boxes, just not that one…

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  5. Great theme – I wonder how many more words will turn out to be virtually unknown or unused without the prefix…
    Good story!

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  6. Poor Tim and, I bet, he didn’t get an apology either. I have done so many inadvertent things, I have lost count like the time I took out the entire MAC Lab back in the late 80s when I was in university.

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  7. Great start, John! I’m sure we’ve all done an inadvertent thing or two. That’s a pretty funny one. Bet you guys didn’t mind waiting for the fire department.

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  8. Great Anecdote and an Admirable start to the A-Z! Always thought inadvertent was like ruthless – the word without the prefix/suffix doesn’t exist. One lives and learns.

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  9. Off to a great start John. I can just picture this scene. Poor Tim! I too had not heard the word advertent before today. Inadvertently however is the story of my life. Urkle and I are kindred spirits. lol

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    1. I like your “prefixed” theme John. Fun story. I’m guessing a priority task set for the maintenance staff of the school was to put new extended length door stops on, so such a thing didn’t happen again.

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      1. They replaced the box with one that wouldn’t get hit if someone swung the door open like that again. The newer boxes had a lower profile. They did most of the school the previous summer and there weren’t too many of the old boxes left when they stopped.

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  10. Such a unique approach to the challenge, John. This is another great story. Poor kid, he was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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  11. Great story, and well done on a clever theme! I also did not know there was a word “advertent”. Looking forward to seeing what’s next!

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  12. This story is hilarious! And I had no idea what the word “inadvertent” was based on either, though as I read your explanation, it makes total sense.

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