The Door: A Story About How Yesterday Could Have Been The Worst Day In My Life

I’m going to tell you a story about something that didn’t happen. But it could have happened, almost did happen, and the telling of what could have happened is worthy and amusing.

I started a new job last week (relevant contextual detail) and I was scheduled to go into work in the afternoon. I have not yet been at this job for a full week. I do not know my boss’s phone number, my department’s phone number, or any other means of contacting my employer.

I was doing the morning chores, washing dishes, the usual. Because it was the morning and my girlfriend had already left for work, I was not wearing pants of any kind (although to be fair, I usually don’t wear pants when she’s here, either). Regardless, it’s just me in my boxers and my undershirt.

The recycling was full and had been moved to the front porch for transfer once I was done with everything else. I picked up an empty box and carried it outside to put with the other materials. As I did so, I noticed the front door was swinging shut behind me. In a moment of ninja reflexes, I caught the door a half-second before it closed. Then I tried the doorknob, to see what would have happened if I hadn’t caught it.

It was locked.

Imagine being locked out of your house in your underwear. You didn’t carry your cell phone outside with you, so you have no way of calling your girlfriend to come home and let you back in. You don’t have your keys and you don’t have a secret key squirreled away somewhere outside. Your house is a second & third story condo, so climbing through a window to get back in is out, not to mention you’re really particular about keeping all the doors and windows locked to prevent someone else from doing the exact same thing.

And you can’t even just wait for your girlfriend to come home and free you from your predicament, because she’s gone for the next eight hours and you have a new job you need to be at yourself before then.

And you don’t really know your neighbors all that well, because you’re somewhat of a shy person, so if you did go to a neighbor for help (say, to call your girlfriend to come home and let your ass back in or to call a locksmith), you get to do that in your underwear (and not your best, this-is-the-underwear-I’d-wear-if-I-spontaneously-became-a-stripper underwear, but the It’s-laundry-day-and-this-was-the-only-thing-that-was-clean underwear).

And if you decide you don’t want to confront your neighbors, the only other way to reach your girlfriend would be to walk a mile down the road (in your underwear!) and approach the receptionist’s desk at her office (which is now the same office that you just started working at) and ask the receptionist to page her for you and you can be assured that your new boss and all of your co-workers in your new department would probably arrive back from lunch together at that exact moment and you would forever be known (assuming you still have a job) as that guy who showed up to the office in his underwear.

Also, I forgot to mention that I wasn’t wearing shoes. So there’s that.

So there you go. A story about how a locked front door, a gust of wind, and my underwear very nearly started a chain reaction that would have led to me getting arrested after walking into Target to steal a pair of jeans.

I’m glad it didn’t happen. I do feel bad for the alternate-universe version of myself who is now dealing with all of that, however.

Adventures In Customer Service

Names will not be mentioned in this point to protect the identities of the unreasonable.

I work for a small public library branch. I’m not concerned about mentioning this fact, as there are 28 library branches in my county and even if you take out all the branches that are too big to fit the previous description, the odds of guessing which one I work at are very slight. And even if you’re right, it’s not like I’m going to tell you.

For the most part, mine is a wonderful job. I love the duality of my life; I suit up in my motorcycle leathers every day, put on my helmet that’s emblazoned with skulls, climb onto my motorcycle and ride to my job where I then read picture books to children and sing songs with them for story times.

But everyone who has ever worked in public service for more than five minutes knows that sometimes things don’t go smoothly. Sometimes, working with the public is a little, well, . . . strange.

I had a few of those this week. These weren’t the scary kinds of incident, the ones that end with my calling the police. They were just the kinds of things that make you scratch your head and really wonder about people.

First scenario:

A man comes into the library and asks for a study room. We’re a small library, so we only have the one study room and it’s occupied. The man points to a staff work room (which actually happens to be my office).

Man: What about that room? It looks empty.

Me: That’s a staff work room.

Man: So I can use it?

Me: You’re not a staff member.

Man: But nobody else is using it.

Me (thinking about the carefully organized stacks of paperwork, the stacked crafting supplies I’m in the process of organizing, and the calendar with all my various engagements and other business for the month, all neatly organized on the desk): It’s really only for staff use.

Man: I think that’s pretty selfish.

Me: I don’t really know how to answer that.

Second scenario:

A man comes up to the information desk carrying a few pieces of paper. He stops near the same staff office and peers inside for a few seconds.

Me: Is there anything I can help you with?

Man: I noticed you have a paper slicer in that room.

Me (warily): Yeah . . . ?

Man: Can I use it?

Me: I’m afraid not.

Man: Why not?

Me (thinking): Because I don’t know you, I don’t know who you are, I don’t know if you’re a crazy person, so I’m not going to let you near what is basically a scimitar loosely attached to a piece of wood. At best, you’ll manage to cut your own finger off. At worse, you’ll decapitate someone. You’re not getting near this paper slicer.

Me (what I actually say): I think I’d get fired if I let a non-staff member use it.

Man: Why?

Me: Liability.

Man: That doesn’t seem right.

Me: Yeah.

And scene.

I think the lesson here is that I really need to start closing the door to that office.