I was looking through some journal prompts and found one that said “The door was locked and I couldn’t find the key.” This is supposed to prompt either a fictional creation, or deep soul searching introspection. Either for good or for ill however, this prompt reminded me of the time, not quite four years ago, that I was locked out of my house.
My son had gone to public school for Grade 5, and his father had joined the Watch D.O.G.S. program at his school. The dads in that program signed up to spend one four hour shift per month at the school, helping teachers and office staff, and making sure trouble didn’t rear its ugly head in the hallways and classrooms.
One chilly late November morning was my husband’s first shift at the school, and since they were both going to the same place, he decided to just take our son to school instead of making him ride the bus. When they left, I went out to see them off, and closed the front door behind me so that the cats didn’t sneak outside.
After doling out hugs and kisses to the boys, and messing around in the front yard for a few moments after they drove away, I went up on the porch to go back inside and realized that the door was locked. No big deal. I stuck my hand in my pocket to get my keys and discovered much to my shock and dismay, that my keys were safely locked inside the house.
It was a little after 8:00 am and my husband would not be home until after noon, and I was outside in a T-shirt and knit pants, in late November, in the Mid-West, with no jacket and no socks. While it wasn’t below freezing that morning, the temperature was only in the upper 30’s, and I was getting cold fast.
My first thought was, “Okay, no biggie. I will just go next door, use their phone to call the school and leave a message for my husband. He will come home, laugh at me, let me in, and make it back to the school just in time for his shift.”
I crossed the small space between the houses and knocked on my neighbors’ door. And knocked again. And again. And after waiting and knocking for close to 5 minutes, I assumed that they were still in bed and I crossed back over to my yard, thinking. The people on the other side of me were both at work already so they were out. The guy across the street was a total jerk and would not help anyone for any reason, and he was gone anyway. His neighbor is an alcoholic woman and her husband. He worked nights and was already in bed and I knew that she was not yet conscious, so I couldn’t go there, either. The house on his other side was empty at the time, so that would be no help.
I decided to wander around the house and check the back door. The storm door was almost impossible to get closed all the way, but once it closed, you had to practically have an act of congress to get it open again. I thought that if the storm door was actually open, I could just shoulder the kitchen door open and we could deal with the damage later.
I closed the gate behind me and was greeted by our 75 pound dog, who was ecstatic to have company so early in the morning. He bounded along beside me, barking, as I made my way to the back door, which was unfortunately latched. Of course! That door was never latched, but that particular morning, the gods were out to mess with me. Or to teach me a lesson about just how easy it is to break into a house. Not quite sure which.
It was at that moment that I began to despair. My neighbors were either all gone or sleeping. I was locked out of my house, wearing very little on a morning that was kind of chilly, and my one almost-sure-fire way of getting back into my home just vanished. I sat down in one of the wrought-iron patio chairs and absently patted the dogs head while I tried not to panic.
As I sat there, I remembered that one of the windows on the back of the house didn’t lock. I got up and walked to the kitchen window that I knew would not be locked. It was blocked on the inside by the dog kennel, a chair and our kitchen table, and it would be difficult to get in that way, but I was desperate and had to try.
I dragged the chair back over to the window, and climbed on. Examining the screen, I found a bit where it was loose, so I grabbed it and was able to bend the screens flimsy frame just enough that I could remove it from the window. Then I held my breath and placed my palms flat on the cold glass and pushed upward. After some slight hesitation, the window slid up. Then I had to shove the dog kennel against the back of the chair so that it would move the table far enough that I could get into the house. After several minutes of struggling with the kennel and fending off nosy cats, I got it moved far enough that I could enter the house.
Now, it wasn’t that easy. I say ‘enter the house’ like it was no big deal. I would like for you to imagine with me for a moment. I am not a small person. I am just shy of 6 feet tall, and I have broad, muscular shoulders, huge breasts and a bit of a gut. So, imagine a rather tall, fat woman trying to squeeze through a window that was not as wide as my shoulders. Laughing yet? You should be.
I managed to get one leg over the sill and into the house, then contorted myself sideways and got my head and shoulders through, scooched a bit sideways until my foot touched the floor, then straightened out and somehow managed to get my other leg in. After making it all the way into the house, I turned to face the window and saw the dog, head cocked sideways, one eyebrow raised, looking at me with the most confused expression I have ever seen on a dog. Laughing, I grabbed the bent screen and straightened it the best I could and put it back where it belonged and closed the window. Then I rearranged the kitchen and put everything back where it had been before I moved it around, and went to cover up and try to get warm. And hope no one called the police on me for breaking into my own house. 🙂