Monday, 4 February 2013

On Getting Trapped In A Stairwell

The other day, I was trapped in a stairwell.  It is the one that leads to street-level from the off-campus, privately-owned lot that I would occasionally use.  Whoever was managing the grounds that day just failed to unlock the street-level exit, and I was trapped until another patron tried to exit. (This was, of course, because of all possible days to have left my cell phone in my car, this was it.)  I was trapped for almost an hour before that happened.

I still remember the moment when I pushed on the door to exit to street-level, and it wouldn't open. It wasn't quite panic that I felt, but it did hit me pretty instantly that without my phone, I had no choice but to be patient.  I couldn't waste energy on pounding on the doors with opaque windows, or on calling out to every car that passed.  For one thing, any passerby should/would be wary of helping a person on the other side of an opaque door. For another, if the passersby were in vehicles, it was likely that they wouldn't hear me as they drove by.  This is why I imagine none of the people, or passing vehicles helped me when I tried to call out to them for help.

After the first half hour of being trapped, I thought idly about how long it would take before anyone would notice something were the matter.  Would anyone in my office notice?  Would they know who to contact?  How to contact them?  The answer is my sister.  But would she even know how to locate me?  Would she remember that she has access to my Google Latitude location?  And if not, would she know that she has all of my passwords so that she could look up my latest Google Latitude location?  I set this up so that if I were ever in trouble on one of my miserably long solo road trips and I didn't get to notify anyone, at least the handful of people who have access to my Latitude would be able to locate me.  In my case, it really was just a matter of time until someone else parked and tried to exit.

Not all of us are so lucky.  Some of us get permanently trapped behind metaphorical opaque windows, not knowing how to woo the next passerby for help, should there even be one to pass by.  Some have similarly as encrypted methods for being found so that even when it is determined that you're in need of help, and that somebody wants to, no one knows how to get to you.  Some of us will die in our stairwells.  Sometimes, help never comes.

Until I don't, I feel like I let him down.


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