After reading John August’s blog entry regarding the overuse of air ducts as an escape mechanism in movie and television screenplays, I got to thinking about the times I have been trapped in locked rooms without air ducts. It’s happened more times than you think.
One time, I was in a busy banquet hall.
I was working the kitchen, preparing food for the buffet, and the dinner service had recently completed. In fact, all of the service staff had gone home, except for the bartender who remained to serve drinks for the rest of the night while the patrons danced to the deejay. I didn’t feel like going home just yet, so to kill some time, I decided to check out the main floor of the building.
The banquet hall had two floors, the recently renovated upstairs were the current function was taking place, and the main floor, which was empty of people, locked, and time lapsed in that 70’s-painted-cinder-block-Labbatt-50-clock-on-the-wall-Legion-Hall decor. So I travelled down the back kitchen stairs, through the only unlocked door into the main floor banquet space. The room contained the usual suspects: a small bar, rows of banquet tables and chairs, nicotine stains on the ceiling. At the far end of the room was a door leading into what looked like a lounge, with more comfy chairs and a low coffee table. From the lounge another door lead into a smaller mostly empty room. It wasn’t until I entered the smaller room, decided there was nothing there to see and no where to go from there, that I realized the door had locked behind me.
I thought, “I could yell! I’ve got good pipes!” but I could hear the deejay music from upstairs through the ceiling, so surely nobody would hear me. So then I thought, “I’ll just wait it out, someone will some looking for me!” But everyone else had gone home except the bartender, who reasonably, I assumed, would have thought I went home as well. It was clear that I was on my own.
I looked around the room. My only friend was a lonely chair, who appeared anxious for me to solve this whole dilemma so he could join his friends in the banquet room. There were certainly no air ducts, and no scrap metal pipes to pry open a locked door. But, thanks to the lousy 70’s chic, there were gaudy ceiling tiles. I grabbed the chair, and slid it close to the door. Standing on the chair, I pushed aside one of the tiles, and stuck my head up into the darkness.
My eyes took a moment to acclimate themselves to the shadow. It was musty and dusty up there. I probably ingested something toxic that will surely hasten me into my declining years. The space above the tiles was black, and small. There was very little room between the tiles and the real ceiling, or the floor of the second level, and what space there was I found filled with wires and pipes, and concrete. But to my good fortune, the wall that contained the locked door ended just above the ceiling tiles, and I could see the backs of the tiles from the adjoining room!
I used the door knob as an impromptu ladder rung, and pushed and pulled myself up into the blackness. I arranged my feet on the most secure surfaces I could find, a pipe and the wall-top, and began removing a tile from the other adjoining ceiling. With tile removed, I squeezed through the hole, and landed safely on the ground in the otherwise unlocked lounge.
So you’re asking yourself, “What’s the moral here?” Well clearly it’s “Don’t hang around after your shift is over!” Er, maybe it’s “Always look out for number one!” No, that’s dumb. Maybe it’s “Always wear clean underwear?” I think there are as many morals to this story as there are air ducts, which was none, had you paid attention. So, stick that in yer pipe and blow bubbles.
Next week: The time I was locked in a commercial beer cooler! Every man’s dream becomes one man’s nightmare!