“Who in the world is calling at this hour?” husband-head asked, when the phone rang at nearly 9 p.m. the other evening.
“It’s either my sister with her latest love crisis or my mother asking what we’re doing for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the next ten years,” I said, yawning, as I got ready for bed. “Don’t answer it.”
Husband-head checked the Caller ID on the phone. It was the newspaper, so he picked it up.
“The sports editor,” he said as he shrugged and handed me the phone. “He really needs to talk to you.”
I couldn’t imagine why because I’m not capable of writing a sports story at 9 a.m., never mind 9 p.m.
“What’s going on Sean?” I asked, puzzled.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but we need your help,” he said. “Phil has locked himself in the office.”
“Yeah, right,” I said, rather amused at the idea. “How could he lock himself IN the office?”
Sean wasn’t sure either, but said that Phil, our sportswriter, had filed a late story from the office near my house and had somehow gotten himself locked in the building.
When I stopped laughing, I agreed to go unlock the door.
“I guess this falls under ‘other duties as assigned’?” I asked.
Husband-head and I drove downtown, and as I walked up to the rear of the building, I could see a pathetic-looking Phil through the glass doors, sitting huddled on the floor with his back against the wall.
He was stuck in a little vestibule area with the doors locked behind him and in front of him.
“Phil!” I yelled through the glass, trying not to laugh. “You OK?”
Phil looked relieved.
“How long have you been in here?” I asked as I fumbled with my keys.
“Since 7:15 p.m.,” he answered through the door. “My key isn’t working.”
And my keys weren’t, either.
Apparently, Phil had tried to wave some people down in the alley to assist him.
“All they did was wave back,” he sighed, as I continued to struggle with the lock.
Phil had then written a little note and held it against the door.
“Help! I’m locked in the building! Please call the newspaper.”
Someone finally stopped and Phil was able to shove the little note with the newspaper phone number through the door. The Good Samaritan took the note to the bar next door where they called the paper.
By this time, it was clear that I couldn’t unlock the door, so I went next door to use the phone. The bartender, Deb, was extremely helpful and we left a message for the owner of the building explaining the situation and asking him to call back as soon as possible.
Then Deb and I went back to check on Phil. Knowing the poor guy had been locked in for quite some time, Deb brought a little Styrofoam cup of water with a little straw in it.
She held the cup up to the door and stuck the little straw through the crack as Phil put his lips up to the door to get a drink.
I couldn’t help but howl at the whole scene.
“Be careful!” I said between laughs. “You don’t want to make him have to PEE!”
Soon, a crowd had started to gather in the alley as everyone stood staring through the glass at Phil’s plight.
“It’s kind of like looking at an animal in the zoo,” one person commented.
Local sportswriter now on display …
At last the building owner called and told us where a spare key was hidden.
It was nearly 9:30 p.m., but Phil was free.
“I’m from L.A. and I’m just used to locking doors behind me,” a tired Phil said, shaking his head as he emerged.
We waited to make sure Phil’s CAR key worked before we left.
“Poor guy,” I said as he drove away. “Good thing he isn’t claustrophobic.”
Husband-head hummed “Free Bird” all the way home.
Heidi Rice is the Rifle correspondent for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.
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