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:
LOCK BROKEN. KNOCK AND WAIT FOR A RESPONSE BEFORE ENTERING.
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.
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:
“HEY! IS ANYONE OUT THERE!”
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.