Sunday, March 16, 2008

Of doors and being locked out

So close and yet so far.

I'm a little embarrassed about this whole situation, but it's worth sharing. Yesterday, I locked myself out of my apartment.

What a gorgeous day yesterday was! It started off drizzly and none too promising but by lunch the sun had come out and it warmed up nicely. All the trees' buds are ready to pop and spring is almost here. It was way too beautiful of a day to be inside. I have a doggy visitor at the moment from the NYC Shiba Rescue and I didn't want him to spend all day inside. So I decided to work from my backyard so he and I could both enjoy the weather.

Now, I'm normally one of those OCD people who carries my keys around at all times and triple checks every time I leave the apartment to make sure I have my keys. I can't tell you how many times I panicked thinking I'd lost them only to find them right in my hand or find myself checking for them immediately after I locked my door with them. But yesterday I just trotted out into my backyard with the dog and let the door close behind me. I was in my friggin backyard. It wasn't like I had left.

My yard is abutted by other building neighbors' yards on all sides, and one of them was also taking advantage of the weather with some friends. After about 15 minutes I decided I was thirsty and tried to head inside to get a drink of water.

I walked up the the door and pulled. Nothing happened. I tried rotating the knob. Nothing happened. My heart sank into my stomach. This stupid knob has gotten stuck before and I could clearly see that the pins weren't quite settled in the door jam but were far enough in to keep me from pulling the door open. Unbelievable -- I was locked out from my own backyard. Even worse, there is no access to the street or back into my building from the backyard besides my apartment and the apartment next to me. And my lone window has bars on it since I'm a ground floor tenant. I was trapped.

After a few more minutes of futile attempts I walked over to the chain-link fence separating yards and sheepishly asked the neighbor if they had a credit card I could borrow to try to shim the door. They politely lent me one (making identity theft jokes the whole time, and who could blame them?) but it didn't work. I had to go back over and ask the guy if I could walk through his apartment to get outside. There was a chance my front door was unlocked. At first it looked like I was going to have to scale the 8 foot fence with barbed wire on top but we were able to shimmy the gate open between our yards. What a nice guy though. Letting some stranger walk through his home.

I left the dog in the backyard because I had no leash and feared he would break free on the street. He didn't mind -- he was making new friends. I ran around to the front of my building and started buzzing every apartment. I had to laugh at myself while doing it. Finally, one of the apartments answered and I cried: "i'mreallysorryi'myourneighborilockedmyselfoutpleaseletmein!!" And he did.

The moment of truth...I walked up to my apartment door and tried turning the knob. Nope. I was truly locked out. I could not believe it. I ran upstairs and knocked on the buzzer's door. Would you be willing to call non-Super, I asked. He did, but no answer (shocking, I know). He didn't have non-Super's cell number and the work line has no answering machine. So I was screwed. No one else has keys to my apartment.

Then, I remembered the locksmith who had changed my keys when I first moved in. He was right at the end of my block. I raced down there and luckily he was open -- I'm glad it was Saturday and not Sunday. After quoting me $65, he said he would be there in a minute. Weirdly, he asked what apartment I was in. What was he gonna do, buzz the apartment I was locked out of?

I ran back home and the friendly buzzy neighbor let me back in. I started to worry about the dog -- was he OK? Was he trying to dig into other yards or worse, jump the fence? I finally decided to knock on next-door super-loud talky neighbor's door. I was afraid, with my bitterness towards her loud conversations lately, that karma would be a bitch and she wouldn't be home. But after a couple of tries she answered. Karma picked the perfect day to take off. I explained the situation and she graciously allowed me into the backyard from her apartment. Sure enough, the dog was just chilling by the fence, investigating the neighbors.

I grabbed him (he's pickupable) and waited in the lobby for the locksmith. He arrived a few minutes later and as I'd predicted tried buzzing my apartment. I just opened the door to let him in. So the guy is really nice and I was thankful he was there, but he wasn't really listening when I explained the situation to him. I told him my front door was locked and I'd locked myself out through the backyard. Then again, how many NYC apartments even have more than one entrance? He wanted to try the front door first. After 20 minutes of attempted shims, I said again that door was locked and asked if he wanted to try the back door. No, he said. This door.

It was really weird. I guess I was expecting him to be like in the movies -- shine a light in the lock and pick it. But nope. Just a metal shim. Ten minutes later, he agreed to try the backdoor. Next-door neighbor let us through. The locksmith was trying to use two screwdrivers to pry the bars from their stuck spot. I was beginning to think it was futile -- he would have to drill.

A few minutes later I was petting the dog and wondering how much new locks were going to set me back, when the locksmith told me to come pull the door. I did -- AND IT OPENED. Hallelujah! I had been so close to everything -- my phone, my keys, my apartment, and yet so far.

I sat on my bed dumbfounded for a few minutes before promising to make a spare set of keys on Monday and give them to someone. I decided T wasn't a good option since it could have unnecessary meaning attached to it, so instead I called BFF M. She laughed at my story and agreed.

And I will now be more crazy about my keys than ever.

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