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In case you were wondering how my day’s been going… I spent three hours this morning trying to get out of my bedroom.
When I woke up this morning at 8:00 – I work from home and make my own schedule, so no judgments for sleeping in a bit on a Tuesday, OK? – I started my usual morning routine: get up, slide into my comfy old man slippers, open the bedroom door, walk through the house to the back door, let the dog out so she could pee, go to the bathroom so I could pee, shower, get dressed, grab a drink from the kitchen, head in to the home office and start working.
Except today I got stuck on step three. Literally.
I live in my grandfather’s house. He lived there since the late 50s and passed away early 2010. I moved in about nine months later. It’s an old house. An old, cantankerous, stubborn-as-a-mule house. Much in the same way that my grandfather was. (Miss you, Pop Pop.) Some things work and, well, some things don’t.
One of the sources of almost daily annoyance is my bedroom doorknob. It sticks. Fairly often. The deadlatch gets jammed after closing the door and, when you try to open it again, the knob is harder to turn and it takes a couple of tries – sometimes even a couple of minutes – to get the door open.
This morning, like every morning, I grabbed the doorknob, made the doorknob-turning motions with my hand, and… nothing happened. It refused to turn. Like, even a little bit. So I tried again. And again. And again and again and again and again.
I tried turning that doorknob for half a fucking hour.
Mind you, I’m not a weak guy. I’m not super strong. I can’t bench press a car or anything, but I can turn a fucking doorknob. Except for, y’know, this morning.
So I sat back down on the bed, turned to the pup and said “Welp. Guess it’s a good thing the house isn’t on fire, huh?”
I took a ten minute break, tried to reassure the pup that everything was all right, that we were going to get out of here, and I was almost assuredly not going to have to kill and eat her to survive, before trying again.
After several more minutes of trying to open the door, failing, and feeling like the most pathetic man ever birthed, I decided to work smarter, not harder. I’m pretty sure I could MacGyver my way out of this room. I mean, if Richard Dean Anderson can defuse a bomb with a rubber band and a paper clip every week, then surely I can figure out how to take apart a door, right?
I immediately looked to the full toolbox kept beside the bed, but failed to find it… because I don’t keep a full toolbox beside my bed… because I am a normal human being. So I searched through dresser drawers and the nightstand, eventually finding a small pocket knife that contained one dull blade, a bottle opener, and something that wasn’t a flathead screwdriver but could work as a flathead screwdriver if necessary.
I jammed the blade between the door and the door frame, trying press down on the latch until it closed enough that I could turn the knob and open the door. I pulled out the thing that wasn’t a flathead screwdriver but could work as a flathead screwdriver if necessary and tried to unscrew the doorknob from the door, thinking I could get out that way. After several minutes, I managed to twist the very tight screws loose and take off the doorknobs, then, presumably, I could fiddle with the deadlatch a bit and finally remove myself from my bedroom. I even removed the hinge pins, thinking – worse comes to worst – I could just take the entire door off. (Had I a bottle, I would have used the bottle opener to open it and gotten drunk, just to make sure I took advantage of everything that pocket knife had to offer. Alas…)
At this point, after about an hour and a half of failed attempts to leave my bedroom, I was starting to get desperate. Not desperate enough to call the police, as they’d have to break down two doors in order to get me out and leave me with a nice bill, or – worse – my parents, who would come over, ridicule me for getting stuck in my bedroom, and then make passive-aggressive comments about how clean I keep my home. I mean, sure, they’d be able to get me out within minutes, but then my mom would be here for the rest of the day, cleaning what was already clean. So that was not an option.
No, I was getting desperate enough to think about climbing out the bedroom window.
Here’s the thing about my bedroom: yeah, it’s on the first floor but it has high windows. I stood on my bed, thinking that, if I absolutely had to, I could probably pull myself up and out of the window. The problem being, however, that I am terrified of heights and was looking at a ten foot drop onto some pointy-ass rose bushes. So… no.
Giving in, I scrolled through names in my phone contacts list, eventually stopping on my friend Steven’s number. He lives semi-close and is a pretty handy dude, so I thought maybe he could talk me through whatever options I had left and, if need be, see if he could come over, break into my house, and then break me out of my house.
Since I already had the doorknobs off, Steven told me to try wrapping a belt around the deadlatch and pulling. It would either loosen the latch and jostle it free or rip it out of the door altogether and, either way, I’d be able to get out.
So I tried it. For a while. After half an hour of pulling on this belt wrapped around the the deadlatch, it seemed like the it was starting give, it wanted to be free of that door as much as I did, but not nearly enough. Again, I am not exactly a weak dude. But this door was killing me.
Finally, I had enough. I thought, if I can’t pull this door free, then maybe I can knock it down. I threw all my weight into that door – and I have a decent amount of weight to throw – and nothing happened. I threw myself at that door again and again and again. I kicked at the deadlatch. The door still wouldn’t open and all I earned for all that effort were new black and blue marks.
Searching again, I found an old metal rod in the back of my closet. Don’t ask me why it was there. I slid it through the hole where the knob used to be and tried using it as a lever to pry the deadlatch free. When that didn’t work, I got frustrated and started hammering the hunk of metal at the latch. If I couldn’t get it free, fuck it, I’d just break the goddamn thing further.
At one point, I got angry enough that I even stabbed the door with the dull blade, hoping I could cut enough of door up that I could break through it. But, this being an old house and all, the doors are made of, y’know, real wood and all, so… no.
Meanwhile, the pup is still watching me from behind the nightstand as I wail on this door like a lunatic.
I hit the latch again and again. I threw myself at the door. I heard a snap. I had just broken the molding on the outside of the door. I hit the latch. I threw myself at the door. I hit the latch. I threw myself at the door. It was a seemingly endless cycle.
Until… the molding got knocked off completely. Another blow or two and my bedroom door, which usually opened into my room, was knocked open out into the hallway. It didn’t fall out of the frame or even break in two. It just sort of rotated in the frame, like a hidden door behind the fireplace, in old movies, that opens after you twist the candle sconce.
After three hours, three amazingly frustrating, panic-inducing hours, the pup and I were finally free to leave the bedroom. We walked through the house to the back door, I let the pup outside to pee, and I collapsed onto the couch, sore and tired.
So, yeah, I’m gonna take the rest of the day off, buy a new doorknob, and maybe get some tacos later.
. . .
BTW, if you’ve ever wondered how much liquid a healthy adult bladder could possibly contain first thing in the morning, the answer is 16 fluid ounces. If you don’t believe me, feel free to check the water bottle I usually keep on my nightstand that is currently resting comfortably in my kitchen garbage can.