Saturday, December 3, 2011

One more lesson....

And lesson number five, after I learn not to go out of the door without the keys in hand? Don't ever leave that window open again when I'm not home!

Gratitude for a Second-Story Man

Please tell me we have all done this: turned the lock on a door and then closed it...only to realize you're on the outside, the door is locked and your keys are in the inside.

This happened to me last night at about 10:30 p.m. I had gone out to put some trash in the bin, and without thinking, locked my new security screen door. Not the kind of security I had in mind, of course.

For a few minutes I stood there, shivering* in front of the door, looking at the cat, who was meowing as if to say, "you really screwed up," pondering the possibilities. I live next door to my landlords, but they're not night owls, and it was past their bed time. I really hated to wake them. I didn't have my phone, it was inside next to my keys. They live in a relatively large house and it's difficult to hear the doorbell or knocking in their bedroom, but I tried....for about five minutes.

So I stood on their porch and pondered some more, fighting rising panic at the thought of spending the night outside. I took a breath and realized that the lights and TV were on at the next door neighbors' and though I don't know them all that well, I realized I needed to ask for help. So I knocked on the door, borrowed their phone and tried calling my landlords to see if that would wake them. Nothing doing. Finally I sighed and told the husband, "If you have a phone book, may I borrow it? I'll call a locksmith." I was actually feeling a little proud of myself in the midst of abject embarrassment. I was problem solving!

He looked at me and said, "Oh you don't want to do that. Are there any open windows or any other access beside the front door?" I told him I thought I'd left one bedroom window open, on the side of the house where the window is on the second floor and there's no structure next to or below it, which always made me think it was safe to leave that window open.

He laughed and said, "I'll get in your window and open the door." My intrepid neighbor got shoes, gloves and a flashlight, put on a cap*, and we went to his backyard to get a ladder. He put the ladder over the back fence, trying to avoid ruining my landlady's roses, and then climbed over the fence himself, noting that it was harder to climb over than the last time he'd scaled a fence and maybe he should work on his flexibility.

Then he stood below my second floor window and sized up the situation. He called out to me, "Hey there's already a ladder here!" and before I could respond to say that it was an antique ladder and probably not sturdy enough, he'd climbed to the top and said, "This is feasible, not easy, but feasible!". A few minutes later the screen was off the window, he'd pulled up the blinds and climbed in. My hero! I went around and met him at the front the door, told him he could have whatever he wanted (well, within the boundaries of his wife's agreement!), and thanked him effusively. He was pretty nonchalant, as though this is the kind of thing he does on a regular basis (think of a cowboy saying, "tweren't nothin, ma'am." and shuffling).

Then he said, "Hey I should put your screen back on!" And he did, back onto that shaky ladder one more time, finishing the job.

I learned four important things:

1) Don't be afraid to ask for help.
2) The kindness some people show is simply amazing.
3) This guy's wife is really lucky!
4) I need to tie my keys and phone around my neck the minute I walk in the door to avoid ever locking myself out again.

Ah the joys of the post-menopausal memory fog.

*For those of you not in Southern California, may I please explain that to us, 50 degrees is cold! I could see my breath as I spoke (well whimpered with shame, actually). I did not have a coat on. Yes, I know this is not equivalent to you walking twelve miles to school in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways. I know, Southern Californian's are wimps.