Problems with Doors
Of course, at this point there is a pretty strong reminder to adjust your path. Directly in front of the east doors is a post-apocalyptic demolition zone. Even a cursory glance in the direction you usually follow will make you stop and say, "oh, I probably don't want to go there." Yesterday was a different story, though. The demolition work only began today, but the area that was going to be treated was fenced off yesterday. Since I have such keen observation skills I realized yesterday on my trip to coffee that my usual route would get me trapped in a pen. At that point there was no indication on the east set of doors that exiting through them would be pretty ineffective. Instead, if you didn't notice the fences, your only clue would be an easily circumvented lock on the doors (that is, you can simply unlock the door if you really want to get out).
Not being in the situation now, you may think those two clues should be more than enough to make people turn back without too much trouble, but it's pretty easy to miss things you're not looking for even when they're eight feet tall. On a completely different level, though, even explicitly telling people not to enter an area is generally only 50% effective. Whether out of ignorant obstinacy ("I've gone through this way a million times. I don't need to pay attention to any bright signs, even if they do tell me 'look out for giant hole.'") or just plain rebelliousness ("I can't go through that way? Fuck you, I'll do what I want!"), you're always going to get some dumbass who wanders into an area that they're not supposed to. It occurred to me that, whoever ordered the outside fencing should have rented a couple more lengths to put on the inside of the east doors. Perhaps in that case people wandering into that area would be reduced to about 10%.
But no, yesterday they only had the doors locked. When I returned from my trip I noticed that one of the locks had been turned indicating that someone, indeed had wandered out into the pen. It's probably too much to ask that they would lock the door on their way back in so it's not surprising that they didn't. It would've been nice though. In this case, whoever stumbled into the makeshift cage had made it that much easier for someone else to enjoy the same fate. As I hung around the security desk, chatting with the security guard, I kept an eye on the exiting patrons to see if anyone would wander through the trap.
It didn't take long, but I was amazed at the difficult the victim had in remedying her situation. There are four doors in the east set and she initially tried the furthest to, from my vantage point, the left. Since that was locked, she tried the next one to the right, the unlocked door, passed through, and began to wander north out of sight. It actually seemed to take way more time than it should have for her to come back. One would think that almost immediately upon exiting you would realize that you were trapped. In fact, it's kind of surprising that she even made it out of sight. However, this is a mistake that seems fairly forgivable. Her path so far corresponds with someone in the bliss of routine and that's fine, really. After returning to the doors, she first tried the door to the right (again from my vantage point) of the door she exited from. One might expect her to have simply entered the door she exited from, but even at this point I'm okay with her actions. You would typically expect all doors in any given set to open. However, when she attempted to enter the door furthest to my left, mind you, the door that she initially found to be locked and the door to the left of the door she exited from, I was feeling drastically less sympathetic. Why would you try that door when you know it's locked? Why would you skip over the door that you knew worked? So I stared in rapt attention hoping that she would make the obvious choice and go back to the door she had exited from, but I knew, somehow, that she wouldn't.
And, no, instead she chose to stand there dumbfounded for a couple seconds and then defer help to the button that opens the door for disabled patrons. Of course that didn't work at all because the door it opens is the one she tried to exit the building from initially. After that failure she simply gave up and stood at the door looking in waiting for someone to help her. Why didn't she go for the door she initially exited from?! Fucking hell, she was standing right in front of it for Christ's sake; just give it a pull! I mean, even if she completely forgot how she got where she was, the least she could have done was try the two doors that she hadn't already figured out were locked. What does she have to lose?
I couldn't bare it anymore. I had to leave. Sure I could have helped her, but this seemed like a problem that she could handle by herself. She was, after all on a college campus. Unfortunately this meant I don't know for sure how she got back in. When I left work, she was gone and someone was putting up bright green signs and taping the locks up. I couldn't help wondering if I should have locked the door when I noticed it, or perhaps I should have pointed out to someone that the should really have some signs up lest they wind up with an accidental student zoo in front of the library. I probably should have done something, because that evening I karmically wound up with a bit of door trouble of my own.
After returning home from a bar last night, I decided to order some food from Zayna's, the local purveyor of fine, fatty late night food. The food was slightly late, because the delivery guy apparently forgot something back at the store. I forgave him, however, because he informed me of this by saying, "I'm sorry, my friend…" and for some reason I find that endearing. However, the fact that I didn't find this out until I got all the way down to the door of my apartment building is somewhat important. Because it is necessary to unlock both the front door and the door to my floor (or use key to call the elevator), it is imperative that you always exit your apartment with the assurance that you have your keys. Even if you're just running out to let someone in, it's a good idea to lock your apartment door because that assures that your keys are firmly in your possession. So when I left my apartment the first time, sans shoes, I maintained the usual death grip on my keys. When I returned to my apartment disappointed, I lay down on the ground and placed my keys in the precarious position of not in my full possession. So when the delivery guy returned and rang my klaxon of a doorbell, I bolted up and out of my apartment and left my keys on the floor.
This didn't occur to me until after the driver had left and I suddenly realized that I was literally trapped in my lobby. Even though my apartment door was unlocked, the door to my floor was obnoxiously secured. The elevator was no help and it's key calling mechanism only served to mock me. If I left the apartment building there would be no way to get back in, and besides, I didn't have any shoes so going to far seemed like a bad idea anyway. The whole situation bothered me more because I felt that there should be a fairly simple solution to it. After all, it doesn't seem like it's that unusual of a predicament, but damned if I could figure out how to get out of it anytime soon.
I did call my landlord but he, of course, didn't answer. Besides the fact that he hardly ever does, it was also 11:45 on a Monday and most sane people are in bed. I could ring his klaxon of a doorbell, but because I found myself in this situation through my own stupidity I felt it rude to wake him up.
The building was eerily silent. Was I going to have to spend the whole night here? After texting some nearby friends to see if I could possibly crash at their house instead of my lobby, I sat down on one of the lobby chairs and ate my entire order of jalapeno poppers. Then I ate two pieces of pizza. After awhile I went outside and had a cigarette, propping the outer door open with a running mat on my way out. This was mostly to have something to do, and only partly to see if anyone appeared to be awake in the apartment building. They did not.
When I got back inside I felt I had exhausted all possibilities. There was a chance that someone might rescue me before dawn, either coming down the stairs or leaving the building, but I resigned myself to the possibility of sleeping in the lobby. I found the chairs to be a rather lackluster sleeping spot. Sitting down just made me brood, and curling up in the forced me to basically turn myself into a tiny little Metroid ball. With my dignity at a perilous low, I eventually just said, fuck it, and fetaled up on the ground. While curled up I wondered at how the situation could and probably would get worse. Having just consumed a rather large amount of grease I was kind of thirsty, but a more pressing point was the realization that I would probably have to go to the bathroom at some point. As you could probably figure out, there wasn't really a bathroom anywhere close. Would I have to prop open the door again and use the bushes? That would be unfortunate.
After only a short time on the floor, someone walked in and I popped up with complete abandon to how this must have looked. My rescuer looked a little reluctant to actually enter the building, after seeing some reprobate apparently shacking up on the floor, complete with dinner on the table. Oh great, he must have thought, is this lobby gnome going to want to talk to me? Indeed I did. After explaining the situation and asking if he could please let me into the third floor, he seemed to lighten up a bit. I confessed that I thought I was going to have to stay there all night, but immediately realized how silly this sounded after it occurred to me that I had only spent about a half an hour down there.
Perhaps this experience allowed me a bit more sympathy for the woman who got trapped in the library playpen. Had I written this yesterday I probably would have had less sympathy for her, or perhaps not. At any rate, I did realized that I too would rather quickly give up hope in the face of fairly lackluster odds. When I explained my predicament to someone this morning she said, "Geez, you went fetal after only a half an hour?" Okay, okay… it seemed like a good idea at the time…