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:

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.

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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:

“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.

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pixabay.com

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.

 

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Surviving the Power Outage Apocalypse

My family does not listen to weather reports.

When we heard about the epic ice storm that was about to descend on the northeast toward the end of December, we chose to ignore the weathermen. It was the week of Christmas, after all, and Mother Nature wouldn’t be cruel enough to wipe us on that week. Sure, power crews were being brought in from other states and other people were filling their bathtubs with extra water, but it was all exaggerated. People rushed to the stores like it was another Y2K. We were above such things.

About 6:02 AM on Sunday morning, December 21st, we lost power.

Now some of you will not understand the enormity of this occurrence. Not only did we loose phone connections, internet, and cable (which is bad enough the week of Christmas!), we lost heat, lights, and water. While losing lights would be a hardship, coupling that with the loss of heat and water, we were in a pickle.

The week started out on the right foot. But as each degree on the temperature gauge disappeared, a gloom began to settle. Christmas without cookies, old movies, or music didn’t seem like a Christmas well spent. The few lights powered by our generator were all that kept our spirits from deflating.

Four days later, it was 39 degrees. That is the temperature we woke up to on Christmas day. One knows it is cold when the refrigerator is warmer than the house, and you can see your breath inside. 

By Thursday, our poor generator was having the hiccups. Then convulsions. Our lights beganto do a strobe light routine. Something was wrong. As stories from neighbors about blown furnaces, busted wells, and fried electronics reached us, we decided having a few amenities wasn’t worth the long-range consequences.

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As the cold crept back into my extremities, I cracked. No longer could I endure the indignities of days     without cleanliness. The inability to be warm. The lack of entertainment. The staring at my dirty, long-   faced, bored family members. I began to pace. Then twitch. Then rant.

“Quick,” my sister, Michelle, said to me, seeing the signs of my looming nervous breakdown. “To my room.”

The pile of clothes on the floor and dresser, unmade bed, and remnants of wrapping paper did little to cheer my mood. I could feel the explosion boiling on the inside.

Michelle closed her bedroom door and stepped back. “Throw stuff,” she said. “And yell.”

I eyed her. What strange orders were these?

“It will make you feel better.”

And with that command, I picked up a pair of jeans. With a fiendish howl, I hurled them at her closet door. Five days of pent up frustration and angst erupted as I wrestled with sheets, beat up on the sweaters, and threw socks in all directions. Shouts and screams issued forth as I told the power outage exactly what I thought of it.

Two minutes later, Michelle’s room looked pretty much like it had previously, and I felt calm, cool, and collected once again.

Suddenly, the power clicked on.

I had survived the 2013 Power Outage Apocalypse.