I spent last night at E.S.’s apartment in Brooklyn, because he had a residency interview this morning at a hospital much closer to his place than to mine. He left for the interview at some ungodly hour but very considerately let me sleep in. Eventually I awoke, showered, got dressed, and tried to leave, only to find that the door wouldn’t open.
It was unclear to me whether the door was somehow locked from the outside–I don’t have keys–or just viciously stuck, but I pulled on it as hard as I reasonably could in as many different directions as I could, and it remained closed. I could have yanked on it with all my might, but E.S. has a complicated relationship with his landlords as it is, and I didn’t want to complicate it further.
I did, however, want to go home.
I called E.S. in the vain hope that he’d be on a break from his interviews and could tell me where extra keys were or how to unstick the door; no such luck–I got his voice mail. Then I tried to resign myself to spending the day locked in his apartment, with no food and no cable. It would be horrible: I would spend the whole day building up resentment, and then when he got home we would have our first fight. I started making phone calls to the people I had plans with during the day letting them know that I probably wouldn’t be able to make it, as I was locked in an apartment in Brooklyn.
Then I saw the fire escape.
So I opened the window and climbed out, only to find that the metal of the fire escape was terrifyingly pitted and discolored. I’m not particularly afraid of heights in most situations, but when I’m three stories high and my only support is made up of narrow slats of rickety iron and it’s raining, I’ll make an exception.
However, given the alternative, I figured it was worth risking breaking my neck. Moving at the snail’s pace my terror kept me to, I managed eventually to get down the incredibly steep stairs to the second floor of the fire escape.
Where the way to get down involved a thin wet ladder that ended ten feet above the ground.
Furthermore, even if I’d been able to work up the guts to climb down the ladder–I will point out that I had a heavy bag on my shoulder–it was so blocked by various metal bars at weird angles that nobody but a Hollywood stunt man would have been able to get onto the damn thing. Add to that the big and many-angled plastic toy at the bottom, belonging surely to the young child of the landlords, and you had a situation that was beyond my power to overcome.
I started to inch back up the stairs, figuring that even without cable or food, an apartment with high-speed internet access was a better place to spend the day than a wet fire escape, when I remembered that E.S.’s sister lived on the second floor, and that I was in fact right in front of her window. Praying that she hadn’t left for work yet, I tapped on the pane. She appeared from the other room, looking at me with the most perplexed expression I’ve seen on her face in the course of our brief acquaintance. She opened the window, I explained what had happened, she let me in and out of her apartment, I left the building, I got on the subway, and I went home.
E.S. was profusely apologetic when I spoke to him later in the day. He had in fact unthinkingly locked the door behind him, and it was in fact a lock that couldn’t be unlocked from the inside without a key.
I thought about starting our first fight anyway, but instead I just took a nap.