Winter Sunlight

Back! ... with a tale of (amusing) woe

I've been traveling - visiting family - but now I am back, curled up in my favorite chair with my computer and a glass of wine. And I have a story to tell you, the latest installment in the ongoing saga of one woman's failure to understand how doorknobs work.

I have this habit, apparently, of locking myself out of places. Cars. Hotel rooms. Houses. I did it so many times in our current house that we ended up changing the locks, because we used to have the kind where the doorknob can still turn on the inside if it's locked on the outside, and that was ... bad. My most spectacular door failure so far was probably locking myself out of my sister's house wearing nothing but my nightgown when it was 30F and she was working an overnight shift. (After numerous attempts to break into her house using improvised tools, I ended up getting into her unheated basement -- which has an outside entrance, one of those old cellar-type trapdoors like in The Wizard of Oz, but no way into the house -- and huddling under a pile of craft supplies until morning, while trying not to think about black widow spiders.)

At least this time I was indoors.

Okay, let me set the stage. This past week, I was staying at my grandmother's house, along with my mom and stepdad. Grandma only has one guest bedroom, so obviously the older couple got it, and I slept in the living room. Grandma's house is centrally located for a lot of the family, so it's a common overnight-stopover place for us, and this system (someone gets the guest room, everyone else gets the living room) is the usual way we do things.

Since she's always having children and grandchildren drop in on her, she's got a closet under the stairs that's stuffed mostly full of bedding. It's a very Harry Potter sort of closet: as wide as the stairs (so about 3 feet wide), person-height in the front, and sloping very rapidly down to the floor in the back. There's a light in it. It's technically walk-in, but only just.

When we've done this in the past, I've left my luggage in the guest room, but this means that I have no access to my toothbrush, clean clothes, etc. until my mom gets up, and she's a late sleeper. This time, I had the bright idea of putting my luggage in the closet. That way, it's right there, and if I need a book or a sweater or something in the middle of the night, I can get it.

The first morning, I woke up before anyone else, and I realized that I could get dressed in the closet too. Normally I would take my clothes into the garage and do it there, because not all of the living room windows have curtains, but this would be a lot warmer and more convenient.

So I got in the closet and dressed -- kind of a difficult process; between the narrowness and the fact that it's full of stuff, it's hard to turn around without bumping into anything, but eventually I was dressed, and then I turned around and discovered that the closet door doesn't open from the inside.

It's probably supposed to, but there's something wrong with the knob. From the outside, it turns just fine; on the inside, it merely spins and does nothing.

I stood there for a moment, staring at the door, while slowly the fact sunk in that I have now locked myself in a 3-foot-wide closet while everyone else is asleep upstairs.

I have mild claustrophobia, which normally doesn't bother me too much, but I have never in my life come closer to having a full-blown claustrophobia panic attack. I could feel myself breaking out in a sweat and going into a sort of rapid mental downhill spiral. The only thing I could think of was to distract myself, very fast, right now. So I sat down and did an inventory of the contents of my suitcase. That helped. I also had a sketchbook and some other stuff. As long as I concentrated hard on keeping my attention 100% focused on something other than BEING TRAPPED IN A CLOSET I CAN'T GET OUT OF, I was (mostly) okay.

Also, I could hear someone, who turned out to be Grandma, moving around upstairs and eventually coming down the stairs, at which point I made slightly sheepish banging noises until she noticed. I guess I was probably only in there for about 15 minutes. I am very glad that I didn't actually get up when I woke up, but instead chose to lie in bed for an hour or so, which saved me from an extra hour of closet exile.

Everyone, I should add, was very supportive, though I'm sure the whole thing will go down in family lore as That Time [Sholio] Locked Herself In the Closet. ... and we were also grateful that we discovered the closet's design flaw this way, rather than, say, Grandma, who lives alone, locking herself in the closet for two days.

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Glad you could look at the light side of things. we discovered the closet's design flaw this way, rather than, say, Grandma, who lives alone, locking herself in the closet for two days. as well as the upside to the incident. It must have felt like a long 15 minutes
It was definitely a long 15 minutes! Though, even at the time, I could recognize how absurd it was, and that I was going to be laughing about it once I, y'know, got out of the damn closet. XD

I feel like it's terrible to laugh at your misfortune, but - it's such an unbelievable hilarity to have this story of how you locked yourself in the Harry Potter closet! *hugs*

Good thing it was only 15 minutes and you're okay now! *hugs*

(But now you can inflict this experience onto the characters! :D I had this hilarious image in my mind of Neal accidentally locking himself into such closet, with absolutely no lock-picking tools available - and Peter teasing him forever after getting him out. Also Neal's indignant "I'd look at you if you were at my place!" "Yeah, but I'm not the one who considers himself a brilliant escape artist here!":-D )
Oh noooo. That's hilarious but also awful, especially with claustrophobia-- I'm so glad you got out quickly! (And yikes about getting locked out at 30F, although I have to admit, the mental image of you huddling under craft supplies is pretty good...)

I am usually pretty good about remembering to bring keys with me (although there was the time I got locked out of my dorm room over the summer with no employees around, so I had to wander around campus at 6 o'clock in my pajamas trying to find anyone at all who could help, all the while knowing I was about to be late for work). However I do have the tendency, about once or twice a year, to get walked in on in bathrooms. Either the lock won't work or I just won't turn it correctly, and a few minutes later I'll be sitting there and the door will slam open...
Augh, the bathroom thing. D: Luckily it's rarely happened to me, but yeah, not fun ...
Oh boy, I don't think I'd like to be locked in a closet and I don't normally have any problems with small spaces *hugs you*

Though at least you discovered the design fault, rather than your Grandma - and I totally support aqwt101's idea of using it for a fic, whether that's in WC or another fandom!

Now, we just need to get Tony Stark to invent a device that opens ALL doors, locked or otherwise, for you! :D

*points to icon* I found a free icon space, look! :D
My high school had (and presumably still has) a half-kilometre-long concrete tunnel that lead to a swimming pool and arena complex. After hockey practice one day, I was on my way through it and a security guard passed me. He smiled and said hello, and I thought nothing of it until I got to the school end and the door was locked. I made my way back to the sports complex end, lugging my hockey equipment -- and I was a goalie, mind -- and... that was locked, too.

Someone did eventually hear me banging, but I had visions of being trapped overnight in the tunnel. Logically my dad (who was picking me up) would have come looking for me, but I don't know if anyone would have thought to look there.
.... oh heavens, that's absolutely terrifying. D: I'm glad you got out before too long! Though it makes a good story, I guess ...
Ugh, my sympathies! My claustrophobia is less activated by small spaces per se than a feeling of being trapped in whatever space I'm in - which means squirming into the crawlspace is fine, getting stuck in there is cause for a near-panic attack. This sounds like a nightmare. Thank heavens for distractions and early-rising grandmothers! Hope you're not too scarred.
Not really scarred, more amused at myself (and now I have a bit more story fodder, I guess!).
Oh dear! Yes, could have been worse, but still. I'd freak out utterly myself, and I'm not claustrophobic in the least. *hugs*
I think doorknobs and locks in general are just evil. Back in our old house the doorknob to our bathroom decided it wanted to quit turning, and I ended up trapped in the bathroom wrestling with the knob until my mom finally heard me and removed the dang thing (and not without a fight on the knobs part). Even when we got a knew knob, it wasn't long before it too started showing signs of falling apart. But we moved out before that happened :/

In other words, I sympathize.
I'm glad it was only 15 minutes! I also have very slight claustrophobia, so I am not sure how it would have affected me (likely not well) if I had done the same. Glad you found a way to deal with it by focusing on other tasks.
ACK! I totally understand the slight claustrophobia aspect, too. I don't have it about being in tight-ish spots, per se, but yes, the whole "but I can't get out *now*!" aspect just makes me insane *fast*. And for some reason, mine is especially bad if I wake up in a situation where I can't move/get away "enough", even if I'm not actually "locked in." Once when we were dating, now-Hubby and I fell asleep on the couch and I somehow got wedged in between him and the back of the couch, and woke up with his chest basically against my face, and it took all my will-power not to just shove him off the couch so I could get him out of my face! Another time, I fell asleep on the floor of my parents' van, and Hubby and Mom leaned their chairs back over the top of me, and again -- "Need out NOW!" tried to take over. So yes, I totally empathize, too!

I'm glad it wasn't any worse, and I hope maybe this latest adventure will be your last "bad" encounter with doorknobs/locks that don't work in your favor!!

I hope you had a lovely trip in every other way!!
Augh, yeah - I know exactly what you mean about the "must get out!" urge, even in situations that would not normally be claustrophobia-inducing.
Ahhh I'm glad you weren't stuck in there too long, sounds like not fun at all - and good that it was discovered when multiple people were in the house! (and this is the excuse to always be carrying a cellphone everywhere...)

...I admit to being a terrible person though, when you mentioned getting locked out of your sister's and huddling for warmth in the basement my first thought was, ah, so that's why you write hypothermia so well XD
hahahaha! Luckily I didn't get actual hypothermia in that case. And somehow it didn't cure me of my desire to write it ... (I may, er, be writing a hypothermia fic in Agent Carter fandom even as we speak - with a guy-guy-girl combo, which I know you have a weakness for ... :D)

Edited at 2015-03-19 06:34 am (UTC)
I feel anxious just reading about it!

we were also grateful that we discovered the closet's design flaw this way, rather than, say, Grandma, who lives alone, locking herself in the closet for two days
That's a good way of looking at it.