It started the night before when the door handle broke. I pulled it down and it came right off. So only the handle from inside the bathroom was functioning. Everything was OK as long as we didn’t close the door when no one was inside.
So last night I was inside the bathroom and trying to leave. I pulled the handle and the door didn’t open. “Huh, I don’t remember locking it,” I thought, and fumbled with the lock. But the door wasn’t locked, it was stuck. The mechanics of the handle were not working, rendering it useless.
I stepped back to assess the situation. It was near the time Stephen usually comes home. “He will knock on the door and I will shout that I’m locked in the bathroom,” I thought. “Then he can go get keys from the porter (we only have one set now, which I have) and come in and get me.” It seemed logical, until I remembered I put the chain lock up in a fit of paranoia. There would be no way for him to get in short of breaking the door down.
That’s when I entered survival mode. I shook the handle rapidly until it came off. I then stuck the handle in the hole and pushed it in several directions, hoping something would trigger the latch. I even tried my finger briefly, then had a vision of myself on one side of the bathroom door and my bloody finger on the other, and decided I best stick to tools. I rummaged around the bathroom for anything I could turn into a tool. I tried the face cream bottle and an empty toilet paper roll. Nothing was working. I was trying not to panic, but staying in the bathroom all night was not an option (although of all the rooms to get locked in in the apartment, the bathroom is probably the most useful).
I finally gave up on the door handle and focused on using the end of my toothbrush, which is the cheap clear plastic kind I got on the airplane. I moved it from side to side in the hole, but nothing was happening. Then I remembered the bit of metal that went flying out of the hole when I removed the handle. I examined the handle closely, lining it up with the hole to try to determine how the mechanism worked. Both the handle and the latch had a square-shaped hole. I kept trying to push one of the sides, but what I really needed to do was turn the square. Once I did, using my toothbrush, the latch receded and the door opened.
I was only stuck for around 30 minutes but it seemed much longer. Now I have one more thing to tell the landlord to fix.
I owe a lot to that cheap United toothbrush. Any better one — even one from a dentist — would not have fit, and I’d probably still be stuck in the bathroom.