Breaking and Entering

Let's have a 'live action' adventure story this time ... reported just as it happened a couple of days ago!

I was sitting at my workbench doing one of the colours on my current print when the doorbell rang. This is never a trivial interruption, because the door is up two flights of stairs. Whenever it rings, when I finally get up there, if I find that it is nothing more than people delivering religious tracts, I can be pretty short with them. But today, I opened the door to see one of my neighbours, a quite elderly lady who lives nearby with her husband.

She looked worried. And what she told me made me worried. "I can't get my husband out of the toilet ..." She gestured towards their house, adding "I need your help ..."

I didn't wait to hear any more, but slipped into my shoes and legged it for their place, not waiting for her to keep up with me. I ran over a few things in my mind as I went, "Do I remember the phone number to call an ambulance? What do I do if he isn't breathing? Do I remember my CPR training ... He's well over 80; would it be better to try and resuscitate him, or wait for the professionals to arrive ..."

As I went in through the front door I kicked myself for not thinking to ask her where the bathroom was, upstairs or down, but I learned the answer right away. I could hear him calling.

It turned out not to be a medical emergency at all, but a 'door' emergency. The lock had jammed, and he was stuck in there. The two of them had tried for quite a while to get it open, and had finally given up and come to me for assistance.

Now the rest of the story should be very short, don't you think? It was a standard bathroom-type lockset, with that slot on the outside handle into which you push a screwdriver to release the lock. I told him I'd have him out in a minute, but when I used a screwdriver (from their little toolbox which she brought out) to try it, nothing happened. The thing really was jammed.

He was getting a bit claustrophobic, and told me to get a crowbar and take the door down that way, but I wasn't ready to give up quite that easily. So it became a series of Plan B, Plan C etc. and etc. as I tried various ways to get him out. I cut a hooked piece of plastic to try and jimmy the bolt back, but it turned out to be a straight 'dead bolt', and couldn't be moved that way. I thought of getting it open by taking it down from the hinges, but these were a type that didn't allow the pins to come out, so no luck there.

I then took off the entire handle unit, and we passed a screwdriver through the outside (tiny) window so that he could do the same from the inside. But even when we got all the hardware off, the bolt remained jammed in place.

"Get the crowbar! We can replace the door; don't worry about the damage!"

I went back home to pick up a few tools - the crowbar he wanted, but also a drill set. And this is how we got him out - I drilled some holes around the jammed bolt, and after a few of these were done, he pushed from inside to knock the thing out.


They were happy, and appreciative of my help, but from my point of view, it was kind of a failure. The door will need extensive repairs, and they will probably just replace it with a new one. It would have been easier just to have used the crowbar at the beginning, to smash my way in.

Hero? Or home-wrecker?

Bit of both, I guess!


Comments on this story ...

Posted by: Dave

As to just why he would bother locking the door, when there are only the two of them living there, I can't understand. I myself - living alone - don't even close the door! (But perhaps that is more than you want to know ...) :-)

Posted by: Margaret

The door might have locked on its own. Our bedroom door is never locked intentionally (there's only two of us, too!), and yet, occasionally, if closed too tightly, the lock will engage and the bolt will stick for a little while before we can get it undone.

Posted by: Dave

Well, that's a bit different, isn't it! Being stuck in a bedroom with someone ... is perhaps not such a big problem!

Posted by: Margaret

You do have a point, sir!

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