Monday, November 9, 2009

I was moving to a new house and I decided to paint both of my new rooms, starting with the "office". I had decided to make this room my "prayer / life ambition" room, the place where I would spend time in prayer and in worship, studying the Bible or Chinese or whatever else I was learning about, playing guitar or piano, or pretty much any other pastime. All of the painting was really hard work, it took 5 late nights just to paint that one room; I was as meticulous as I could be, taking off all the outlet covers and curtain rods, even the door handle. When it was all done and everything was put back in its place, I was really proud of what I had accomplished.

I felt like moving into this new house and having this new prayer / life ambition room was new start for me, so when I finally finished painting, I decided to take just a few minutes to pray to turn over all of my life ambitions to God. The room became very symbolic to me: all of the work of my hands symbolized by the paint on the walls, with the space inbetween to be filled by God. So, I moved everything out of the room. I put all the painting tools and ladders, even my cell phone and shoes outside the room to keep away all distractions. Then I went into the room, with four note cards and a pen to write about what God was speaking to me, and shut the door behind me. Just to be sure that I had put the door handle back together correctly, I turned the knob to be see if it would work. Well, it didn't work. The knob turned and it wasn't locked, but the door didn't open. It was stuck. I decided not to panic, I thought I would be able to figure it all out in the end.

I decided to focus on prayer, and worry about getting out of the room later. So, I layed on the floor to pray and write, all the while very distracted by thinking of the ways I might get out of the room. I finished praying, giving my life ambitions over to God, then started to think like McGyver. I knew how to open a door with a credit card and I thought one of my notecards could serve that purpose, but unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the door. I could take the door handle completely off, but I had left my screwdriver on the other side of the door in the hallway. I decided to try slipping something around the latch bar, pulling it to slide the bar back and let the door open. I tried everything I could think of. First, I rolled up a peice of one of the notecards into a little stick, but it was too big to slip around the bar and too flimsly to stay straight enough push behind the bar. I tore a strand of fabric off of my pants and tried to ease it around the bar, but it wouldn't go all the way around no matter how hard I tried to stuff it through, I even stole a stait pin from a curtain to tried to coax it through, but it didn't work. I began to think that my McGyver skills were failing me, so I started to grasp for any other way to get out of the room. I was getting scarred that I wouldn't get out, so I was ready to break something if I had to. I could try to kick the door in, but once again, I was on the wrong side. I was starting to think that my only option was to crawl out the window, but what would that accomplish? The front door was locked, so even if I got out, my phone and car keys would be locked inside the house. I could crawl outside to find some kind of tool, or even a wire, to help me get through the door, but what were the chances of finding the exact right tool outside right when I needed it? It was getting late, but if I had to I could walk to a neighbor's house to use their phone, but who would I call? All of my phone numbers were stored on my cell phone and I didn't have any of them memorized. I was really starting to think I was in a hopeless situation, that I would have to stay there until my room-mate came looking for me.

Just to see what other tools might be available, I unscrewed the pen I had with me. Out fell the ink tube, some plastic casing and, (could I be so lucky?) a spring! I thought for sure that I could get out now. All I had to do was straigten the spring and I would have a perfect little piece of wire. It was pretty difficult to straigthen the tightly wound spring, I pricked a couple of fingers and shed a little blood, but I got it straight enough to try to slip around the latch bar. It took my several tries and alot of frustration, but I did eventually get the wire all the way around the bar. I wrapped the wire around my fingers, held my breath, and pulled as hard as I could. I felt the wire slide forward as the bar slid back and I thought for sure that the door was going to pop open. I heard a loud click and then... nothing. The door remained firmly closed. After a few moments of utter dissapointment, I tried to investigate. The wire had succeeded in sliding open the latch bar, but not the lock bar. It remained stuck between the two, and the door remained closed.

I now new that my only way out was through the window. Maybe, just maybe, I would find some kind of tool that could open that door. I figured out how to remove the screen without breaking anything, and spent a couple of minutes building up the courage to jump out of the window and into the dark and pouring rain in my socks with little hope of it accomplishing anything. I finally lept onto the sidewalk and tried to decide where to begin my search. I decided to check the front door, even though I knew I had locked it. I walked through the puddles and up to the front door, glancing hopefully toward the door handle. When I saw my keys hanging from the lock, I rolled my eyes in relief and disbelief. I had spent at least the past hour and all of my ingenuity trying to get out of that room, how could the solution end up being so simple? I had never been so happy to realize that I had left my keys in the door. I quickly unlocked the front door and stepped inside, out of the rain. After taking off my soaked socks, I went into the hallway and grabbed the screwdriver. I went back around outside and through the window, into the room that had been my prison, easily removed the handle and opened the door. After some examination, I realized that when the door handle was turned the latch bar slid back just as it should, but stopped 1/8" outside of the tunnel so that no amount of yanking on the door would ever make it open. I may never know if this was an original flaw or if I had broken something when taking it apart to paint the door. I carefully left the door open, then quickly went to bed, absolutely exhausted.

In the end, it may seem that I wasted a couple of hours of my life trying to get out of that room. But, I did learn a couple of things. First of all, I learned that no matter how resourceful I think I might be, I am definately no McGyver. I also learned way more about door latching and locking mechanisms than I hope to ever need to know in the future.