I’ve been locked out of my apartment a handful of times. My wife has too. Getting back in isn’t very hard, just requires a little wall-scaling and scraping the living shit out of your hands on the cheese grater texture of our balcony’s stucco. This is at the same time a relief and a very realistic reminder an axe murderer could easily break into our apartment any day now.
Today we got locked inside the apartment. When this happens in movies, it’s because your home has been turned into a prison of riddles and torture by a maniac, where to escape you have to do something like cut off your own legs and eat them. When it happens in real life, it’s because you’ve been putting off mentioning to your landlord that when you turn the doorknob the thingy isn’t going all the way in. That’s locksmith speak for “it broke.”
The problem was getting progressively worse all week until today at 5, my wife was on her way out the door, when the doorknob broke for good. We were stuck.
When my wife or I are presented with the everyday challenges life hands us we’re quick on our feet. Bike has a flat tire? Fill it with air. Don’t have enough flour to bake that cake? Don’t bake it today. The cats chewed through a power cord? Belittle their accomplishments, and buy a new cord.
But getting locked in the apartment isn’t something my brain or my wife’s brain was prepared for. My wife informed me, with surprisingly little swearing, that the front door wasn’t opening. I immediately said: let me get my tools. She, being a strong independent woman, informed me I was escalating this too quickly, and to let her handle it.
Her solution was to turn it to the right. Then turn it to the left. Turn it right. Turn it left. Fake like she was going to turn it right, but turn it left. Pull it back like a pinball machine. And then in a flurry: Right! Left! Right! Left! Right! Left! Right! And then she was done.
Because how else do you get a doorknob to work? You turn it, right? Well, it was now my turn. My solution wasn’t a solution, it was yet another complication. I decided to take the doorknob apart. Let this be a gentle reminder that when you take something apart–it cannot work anymore, because it is no longer whole.
I quickly realized that the second the doorknob fell out the other side of the door, where it could not be reached by me. We now had no way of turning the thingy that wasn’t turning before.
When this happened, my brain decided that what I’d done was too stupid to be real, and took a five minute break. I pressed my eye up against the doorknob hole and mumbled “Ohhh. Ummm. Hmmm.” endlessly, before I decided to go look for pliers. No plan on what I was going to do with the pliers. Maybe poke them through the hole.
When I returned with the pliers, my wife was poking a screw driver through the hole. At least I wasn’t alone.
My wife suggested using a credit card to jimmy the thingy open. Sure, let’s try that. 5 minutes later we had a gift card from Yogurtland stuck in the door, and weren’t any closer to getting out. I was beginning to wish this was a maniac’s riddle house.
Briefly it occurred to me that we may never get the door open. We might just be a weird married couple that lives in an apartment that no one can enter through a door. Our kids have to be homeschooled because they don’t have the upper body strength to ever leave the place. It’s like an idiot version of the Dukes of Hazzard’s car the General Lee, but with a house.
“Sure, come on over for game night. What size rock climbing shoe are you?”
Finally, I broke out of the apartment by hanging off the balcony and letting go like a scared child, cheese grating my hands like crazy in the process. Then went around the building to our front door to get the doorknob back. Once we had it put back together, we tried it again. Still nothing. My wife was growing more and more annoyed at how late she was to get out the door.
And that’s when I got to say: “Honey, stand back!” like how heroes say in movies, and then hip checked the door, just like how hockey players open doors and/or hip check opponents. And boy did it open. And I gotta say, after all that happened, you have no idea how satisfying it was to use brute force to smash open the door.
And by smash I mean it opened regularly.