Barricaded in the Bathroom

There I was…locked in the bathroom. Why do these things always happen to me?

The Tuesday had started off normal enough: no work, no school, and a lunch date with a friend. I had arrived at the Taco Joint a few minutes early and decided to stop in the restroom before my friend arrived.

Weaving my way through the booths and tables, I asked the lady behind the cash register where the bathroom was. She pointed down a long hallway. I followed her directions and came to a door with the word “Women” on it along with a large neon orange sign:


I stood there for a moment in indecision. I didn’t need to go the bathroom very badly, but I didn’t want to sit in an empty booth playing solitaire on my nearly dead cell phone either. I decided to pursue my course a bit farther and knocked. No response. I opened the door.

Not “the” bathroom, but this is how it was set up.

The toilet was the first thing I saw. It sat directly in front of the open door. There would be none of this holding the door or pushing it closed again that one can do in a normal stall. If someone decided not to knock, the door would open and there I would be for all the world to see.

By this point, I should have just walked away. I should have turned around, went back, and sat in the booth waiting for my friend. Then the thought struck: how broken is this lock?

I stepped into the bathroom and closed the door. The same neon orange sign was on the inside. Kneeling down, I ignored the sign and examined the lock. It was a handle lock with a button that you push in to lock the door and then push down on the handle to unlock it. It looked perfectly functional. I looked over my shoulder at the toilet. It was awfully far from the door. Could I trust the bustling mass of humanity outside to knock before entering?

If it’s broken, it shouldn’t lock, right? 

Standing up, I pushed in the lock. It engaged with a click. I wiggled the handle, and the nob popped out again. I let out my breath. I had been nervous for a second there. I pushed the handle all the way down and pulled.

The door remained closed.

I wiggled the handle again and yanked. Nothing.

Panic began to set in. I was legitimately locked in the bathroom! What was I to do? I banged on the heavy oak door and yelled:


No one answered.

Stepping back, I tried to calm myself. The stark white tile, walls, sink, and toilet didn’t help matters. I sorted through my options. Should I keep yelling? Should I just wait and see how long it would take someone to come and find me? Should I see if my phone had enough juice to make one last phone call? I didn’t have the restaurant’s number so I would have to call the police. I could just imagine it.


Police: What’s the nature of your emergency?

Me: I’m locked in the bathroom of the Taco Joint.

Police: How did that happen? 

Me: Well, there was this sign on the door saying not to engage the lock, and I did it anyway. I think you’re going to need a battering ram ’cause this door is really solid.

All the customers would look up from their tacos in amazement as a troop of policemen stalked to the back of the store and broke me out. Perhaps they would even have to bring along a crew of firemen. Ten minutes later, they would lead me through the cloud of dust and debris of what used to be the door. I would hurry out of the restaurant red-faced as the manager yelled after me, “DIDN’T YOU SEE THE SIGN!”

Facing the door again, I took a deep breath. I would try it once more. Pulling the handle down, I pulled on it with all my might. Nothing. I sighed and hit the handle. Suddenly, there was a small click. The door swung open.

I left the bathroom red-faced, but not covered in dust and debris. I survived the experience with nothing more than slight case of claustrophobia, a new appreciation for bathrooms with stalls, and a strong desire to cross out the words “lock broken” and write “lock sticks” instead.

If I ever see another neon orange sign, I might need to take it seriously.



Me and Theophilus

Recently, a very dear friend of mine departed. We survived blizzards, navigated treacherous territories, sang opera, and shed many tears together, but after five years in my possession, he began to give out on me.

Who was this beloved friend, you ask? Why he was none other than my ’97 Chevy Lumina. As a three generation vehicle, he served me and my family well, but after the last diagnosis, it was time for us to part. While driving an old car was terrifying and frustrating at times, it did teach me some important lessons. Here are some of the best: Theophilus 014

1. Cars have many parts! While I may not be able to fix them myself, I now know what a spark plug looks like, how a battery is changed, and what it feels like when the EGR valve, CAM sensor, and Crank Sensor go bad. I can add oil, jump start a vehicle, and (theoretically) change a tire. The mysterious world of car engines is still mysterious, but I know much more than I did before.

2. I need help. Whether is is calling my father when the car wouldn’t start, discovering which of my friends are related to a mechanic who might take pity on me, or finding guys at work who will help me change a tire, an old car helped me make friends (or enemies, depending on how you look at it).

3. I am not in control. From missing class because my car is stalled to begging God for each extra mile as the car is spluttering and muttering at 70 mph when I am in the middle of nowhere, an old car taught me how little control I have over everything.

Theophilus and I have sadly parted ways. He’s gone to one of those friends who put hours into resurrecting him every time he died. While I will miss my first set of wheels, I’m looking forward to a (hopefully) safer vehicle for this next stage of my life. However, I will always be thankful for the lessons my first car taught me.