Trapped in the Office

2007-01-26 16:46 - General

So, last night my Mom came into town to visit, and to see my new office and the neighborhood. I discovered on Monday that it just happens to be restuarant week here in Manhattan. It's more than I usually spend on dinner but I decided to splurge and try it out. And the restaurant we chose, which was on the list, ended up only running that special for lunch, not dinner. Nevertheless, we ordered. We split what was my first, and likely last, serving of foie gras as an appetizer. It's a pretty cruel dish, but I had seen it too many times on Iron Chef; something inside me decided I had to try it when I saw it on the menu.

Dinner itself was rather uneventful besides that little tidbit. We spent quite a while in the restaurant, and around a quarter to ten as we were leaving, my Mom asked, "Do you think we can stop by your office on the walk back? I need to use the restroom." I figured it was no problem, so we did. At the time, I thought the worst case would be if the doors were locked after hours, keeping us from getting in. Well, we got in no problem.

It was just a couple minutes, but when we went to the door to leave again, we fumbled a bit heading down the dark stairwell. Neither of us noticed right then that the light had been switched off while we were inside. On the other hand, we quickly did notice that the door, at the bottom of the stairs, wouldn't open. Pushing the little button that usually unlocks the door did nothing. Swiping my keycard would make the little machine beep and light a different color light, but nothing more. It was about this point that we saw the security system panel, right next to the door, flashing alternately "COMM ERROR / E03-0 SERVICE" and "*SYSTEM TROUBLE*". Uh-oh.

There was also a label stuck to the panel with a phone number and the words "Central Office". So, I picked up the phone ... and it was dead. I wrote down the number and climbed back upstairs to get to a working phone. The operator I reached sounded sympathetic, and clearly was trying to help, but ultimately did nothing. We were told that the installer would be contacting us and calling back shortly. At this point we moved over to my desk, the number I knew offhand, to wait.

The installer never got back to us. I started searching for coworker's personal numbers. I managed to find one in the whois information of someone's website; they didn't answer their phone. Then I found a cell number in somebody's email signature, and the rescue process was set in motion. Theresa couldn't help directly, but she called Bill. Bill had a key (there's standard pin-and-tumbler locks too, I now know) and he came back to the office, around 11 PM on one of the coldest nights yet this winter, and fiddled with the lock for probably ten minutes. The key didn't work. He tried and tried, but it wasn't budging. He had to give up. As he headed home, he called and gave me the number for Rob. Rob ended up coming, too. His key worked. Finally, just shy of midnight, we got out.

Turns out, as best we can figure, somebody was downstairs while we went upstairs. Either a night cleaning staff, or somebody just here late with a bike parked in a room downstairs. They "knew" they were the last one here, and locked up as they left during the few minutes that we were here. They shut off the light in the stairway. And now I know, there's a metal key as well as a key card for those doors! I wonder how long it will be before I live this one down?


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