Every good survival story starts with locking yourself outside on your own deck. Which is what happened to me yesterday when I went outside to set up and photograph some product shots. Without thinking, I set up my shot, grabbed my camera, and then shut the sliding door behind me without realizing it had clicked shut…and locked.
I think I went through the full range of emotions from saying f@&! about a million times. Then denial (there’s NO WAY that’s locked), to rage (THIS STUPID DOOR BETTER OPEN!) to whimpering, to finally acceptance (crap, I’m really going to be stuck on this deck for hours).
Hours 1-3 were spent considering my options. First I tried to pick the lock with a bobby pin I had, you know, like on tv. Because obviously tv shows everything accurately. I have an understanding of locks and theoretically understand how to pick them, but in practice, not so much. After that failed, I tried to lure my kitties to the door thinking that either a)they could somehow call for help or b)I could quickly train them to open the door for me. Obviously neither worked.
Plan C was to get off the balcony which is on our second story and I estimate to be about 15 feet or so off the ground. Unfortunately, the area below is pavement and air conditioner on one side and lower fenced off deck and tree on the other side. My options were to dangle from the edge of the balcony, swing my body, then drop into the tiny spot of grass and roll to deflect the impact, dangle and drop and try to hit the fence juuuuust right so that I could balance on the ledge, or dangle, drop, and grab onto the supporting post on my way down and slide to safety. In addition to these ideas, I also made several versions of a rope to dangle from the edge using various bits of twine string I had and some clothes I was wearing. It didn’t come close to reaching the bottom.
I spent another hour trying to think in reverse: oh I know, what if I went UP instead of down? So I assembled a leaning tower of patio furniture and climbed to the top hoping that I could reach the 3rd level balcony in hopes that the door was left open. My tower didn’t even come close to reaching.
Plan E was to break the glass of our sliding doors — but they are top of the line triple-paned weather-proofed doors newly installed by the previous owners prior to selling. I wasn’t going to touch those windows.
Finally I just accepted my fate and tried to make the best of it. Did I mention that it was a sunless 40 degrees and that I was wearing PJs and house slippers? Using our random assortment of deck furniture, I created a little wind blocking shelter and huddled underneath it. I found some old twine and using that and the leaves that had blown onto our deck, I made ‘shoes.’ And then I just laid still, huddling, shivering, watching the kitties taunt me from the other side of the triple-paned windows in the warmth of my own home.
Seven hours passed. SEVEN. Do you know how long seven hours is without the aid of a phone, a computer, a tablet, a kindle, a book, NOTHING? Seven hours in a tiny warm room is one thing, but seven hours in the cold, peering into a house you can’t get into is another. Time passed so very slowly that the only way I could endure myself was by coming up with stupid games in my head, trying to remember lyrics to songs (which I’m terrible at), thinking of anything and everything but how cold I was. Finally, I just went into my happy place, listened to the birds and tried to pretend I was lying in the woods by choice, not by stupidity. I have no idea how people do it in real survival situations. Seven hours on a deck in the ‘burbs was about as much as I could take.
At least it didn’t rain.