"When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect – but do not believe him. Never put your trust in anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel Laureate, may be wrong... So you must always be skeptical – always think for yourself." --Linus Pauling


The Locked Room Mystery

Last Wednesday I woke up at about 6:45 a.m. Feeling the first stirrings of a cold coming on, I stumbled to the bathroom.

The bathroom has a built-in-the-wall space heater. I closed the bathroom door, turned the heater on and jumped into a hot shower, hoping to create a sort of sauna effect. Done showering, I dried off and opened the door.

The knob turned easily and gave every indication that it was going to open, except for the part where it actually opened and I left the bathroom to continue my day. The door was resolutely stuck on the first part.

I jiggled the knob, put my shoulder into it, banged my fist near the lock. After five minutes of that left me still standing on the wrong side of the door, I turned to look at the room around me.

My bathroom is not large. It has a small window (with burglar bars), a medicine cabinet, two drawers on either side of the sink and three cabinets below that.

Looking into one of drawers I found the bent into a rectangle zipper handle from a bag and a pair of vice grip pliers. (I had used the pliers in here previously to fix something and had left them in the drawer.)

Using the pliers I bent the zipper handle into a 'c' shaped piece of wire. I then slid the wire in the doorjamb over the lock and around. Now the two ends of the wire we're extending above and below the lock. Simplicity itself to just use the pliers to get a good grip on them and spring the lock, right? Man, how clever am I?

The lock would not budge. Obviously no one had told it how monstrously clever I was being. That kind of bugged me. Trapped though I was, I was not without resources. I had a pair of heavy vice-grip pliers did I not? I decided to get all Lord of the Flies on it.

I brought the pliers down hard on the doorknob. Repeatedly. There were a few times when I imagined individuals that will have to evolve a few millenia before I can embrace them in the warm folds of the word "loathe." That spiced it up a bit.

When hitting was not entirely successful, I used the pliers to rip pieces of the doorknob off in strips. Beneath the knob I saw that the lock mechanism was encased in a sort of circular box of harder metal. I began to hit at that.

At this point, I could hear my upstairs neighbor begin to get ready for work. I yelled her name "Tamara!" over and over. Nothing could dissuade her from her goal. I listened to pee, shower, brush her teeth and gambole off to work. She never heard me.

Back in my bedroom, I could hear my cellphone ringing. It was probably work calling. I was supposed to be there at 8:40 a.m. If they were ringing me, that put the time at close to ten.

Sizing up the door and my magnificent vice-grip pliers, I saw that it might be possible to take the hinges off. Some struggle later, the hinges were off the door and on the counter. The door stood closed, unbeaten.

I sat back against the tub. You have got to be fucking kidding me. Why can't I get out of here? This wasn't just a closed door. It was beginning to take on the aspects of an existential crisis.

I think it was here that I started kicking at the door like an insane person and hurling abuse at it in voluminous supply. The word 'bitch' was screamed, and 'motherfucker'; then I strayed off the path of known obscenity and wound up in a linguistic patch best known to the children sired of merchant sailors, raised in the Catholic church, and run off to be carnies.

Resigning myself to the idea that I wasn't ever going to leave my bathroom without help, I put my face in the window and listened for activity. When I heard some, I yelled. Much of my yelling consisted of things like, "Hello! Can anyone hear me? I'm trapped in my bathroom! Helloooo!" I was not heard, or roundly ignored.

I heard someone punching the security keypad to the parking lot next door, and yelled louder. Nothing. Finally, I said "YOU, PUNCHING THE KEYPAD! CAN YOU HEAR ME OR NOT?"

Guy: Who is that?

Me: It's me. I live in one of the lower apartments over here. I'm trapped in my bathroom. Can you let my landlady know? She lives in the front apartment.

Guy: Ummm... okay. Which apartment do you live in.

Me: The lower rear one.

My landlady appeared a few minutes later with Dean, the handyman. They passed me my cellphone through the window and I called in to work. I had to repeat myself alot to be heard over the gut laughing of everyone there.

Dean eventually had to take the moulding off the outside of the door to get it open and let me out. He said that a spring had broken inside, forcing the 'male end' of the lock farther into the doorjamb and making it impossible to open.

The end. Those vice-grips were awesome, but now I wish I'd had a fire ax instead.


Anonymous said...

I have this image of you dying of starvation in the locked toilette, slowly decaying while perched on the toilet. Years later, the landlady and handy man would find your skeletal remains, glasses still perched on your nose, vise grip still prised between your bony fingers. What would they say of Poor Dear Jack?
"What a shitty way to go."

Secret Mojo said...

Frightening. Will you ever take another shower again? I mean, at least in Psycho, something happened to liven it up a bit.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear lord! I'm sorry, sweetie, but that was the funniest thing I've read in months!

Anonymous said...

You can not get any funnier then this... What a morning! My question is- Did your work believe all of this craziness? It sounds too comical to be true! The funniest part is- that things like this do happen to everyone at some point.